Welsh Wine, yes Welsh wine at it’s best – and its delicious!

White Castle Vineyard Ltd
Llanvetherine,
Abergavenny,
Monmouthshire.
NP7 8RA

White Castle Vineyard is owned by Robb & Nicola Merchant and is situated in the beautiful rolling countryside of Monmouthshire in the village of Llanvetherine – Southern Wales. The 5-acre vineyard is planted on a south-facing slope that is ideal for growing vines and ripening grapes for this part of the country. Usually northern hemisphere vineyards need SE facing. Currently, in the UK we have close to 400 producers with 27 in Wales (2 even in Scotland)

Robb and Nicola
View down to the Barn from the vineyard

Most of the vineyards in Wales have an area just under 1 x rugby pitch size (1ha) for their vines. Whitecastle has just under double that. Not a big size by modern day standards but a great feat considering the attention it has received in recent years. Its reputation has been steadily increasing largely due to supplying major supermarket/s and producing some pretty good wines!

As well as tending to the vines Rob has also been busy restoring a 16th century Croft Barn with Lottery Funding. Seems he never stops!

After exhaustive research into vineyard management the owners decided on the most suitable grape varieties for growing and after farming the land and planting the vines the first harvest was available in September 2011 two and a half years from the initial planting (2008) 

The first harvest gained the vineyard Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) from Wine Standards, allowing the produce to be labeled Welsh Quality Wine. This is the top standard for UK wine and a great accolade for a 1styear of production.

WANT TO KNOW More. I can send you a fact-sheet about the quality control of wine. Email me thegrapewizard@gmail.com

When the vineyard reaches full production it should have the capacity to produce 12,000 bottles of wine a year, including sparkling wines.

Here is just a selection of wines from the vineyard.

Fortified Wine 1581 £25.00

Grape: REGENT

Tasting notes

Fortified wine. Deep Ruby in colour with a fragrant brambly aromas. The palette is Rich, round and smooth

Pair with Cheese, after dinner or alongside dessert.

Pinot Noir Reserve 2016 £25 

Grape: Pinot Noir 

Light and ruby coloured with a hint of vanilla, red currants and red cherries on the nose. On the palette is a big smack of blackberry and smoky vanilla

Pair with lamb, fish or pasta – might even suit Carpaccio of Ostrich!

WHITE WINE 

Gwin Gwyn 2017 £15

Grape: Phoenix and Siegerrebe 

A gentle “sniffy sniff” on the wine immerses yourself into a glass of floral elderflower with ripe citrus fruits.

Lemons
Elderflower

Pair with shellfish such as oyster’s prawns lobster and any fish with a hard back!!

Sparkling white 2015 £30.00 

Grape: Phoenix 

An elegant Brut made in the Champagne style. On the nose it has hints of elderflower and gooseberry. A delicate mousse worthy of a champagne house Biscuity aromas 

Pairing: most appetizers. Try it with fish and light. Toast with it before or after a meal. 

ROSE 

Rose 2013 £13.50

Grape:  Pinot Noir, Rondo and Siegerrebe 

Dry delicate rose with a hint of strawberry and summer fruits. Good acidity and very refreshing.

Perfect for a summer party on a hot summers day. This is a fabulous aperitif that can be enjoyed all year round 

Whitecastle also offers an option for members to plant One option for members is to plant a vine scheme. You can choose 1 of 5 grape varieties for 12 months. Rewards include: a personal certificate of adoption with a plaque with your chosen name placed on the vine. A tour of the vineyard for 2 people included with a glass of wine. An invite to the harvest to handpick the grapes, and a bottle from your adopted vine to take home. A great service and a revenue steam that will prove invaluable if an operation like this is to survive

2018 has seen an unprecedented year for yields on UK vineyards . This has been an exceptional year. Near perfect growing conditions created a bumper harvest. Whitecastle was no different . Harvest was on 27thSeptember with high yields and lasted till 21stOctober. Should be an interesting next 12 months  for the vineyard !

Both Robb and Nicola have been nominated for a few awards, this year, most notably The Rural Business Awards for Wales and Northern Ireland 2018 and were one of the finalists in the Best Rural Drink Business.

It is fabulous to see a UK vineyard and more importantly a Welsh one doing so well in the marketplace. It is testament to the hard work and dedication that all producers put in to produce a product that 10 years ago would have been ridiculed. Robb and Nicola are passionate about this venture and when I saw Robb at the WineGB event, showcasing his wine, he was very personable and spent an inordinate amount of time talking to me. I know this vineyard will go from strength to strength. The varietals may not be to everyone’s taste and consumers may not know what Rondo and Siegerrebe are but they are delicate and balanced. Think of Rondo as an alternative Pinot Noir.

To learn more please go to either www.whitecastlevinyard.com or visit my website (www.thegrapewizard.com) email me thegrapewizard@gmail.comand ask me any questions. Sign up if you want to receive an article every-time I post.

Photos courtesy of Whitecastle vineyard

Elegance, romance and a surprise ending on a trip to the opera and a vineyard. A visit to Fumane di Valpolicella, home of Allegrini.

TheGrapeWizard @ Allegrini
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Dramatic skies over Villa del Torre

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The (hazy ) view looking down onto Valpolicella country

So finally Summer is here and I am off on a long awaited trip to the open air opera festival in Verona. This was a trip that had been on the bucket list for quite some time, not just because of the world class opera but because Verona lies in the heart of the Valpolicella region, east of Lake Garda and west of Venice in Northern Italy. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region north of the Adige is famous for wine production and is home to Italy’s, most famous, most celebrated, biggest and boldest wine – Amarone.

We chose to stay in a most welcoming Agroturismo, atop a hill just south of Verona. It was a well established place attracting both local and tourist custom. With its own organic winery and well run kitchens, breakfast and lunch under the shade of the vines was a most agreeable experience.

So after a couple of days squeezing in everything Verona had to offer; culture, opera, gelato, long evening strolls around town doing “La Passeggiata” moving gracefully as only a Brit resembling A Man from U.N.C.L.E. can do – the morning finally came when it was time to look beyond the city walls.

The countryside around Verona has some of Italys oldest wine production, established in the 16th century to quench the growing thirsts of the Italian Nobility. Words such as Negrar, Soave, Bardolino and towns that included the word “Valpolicella” litter the map. As a sight-seeing destination for wine buffs and amateurs alike, this region does not disappoint. Ancient terraces of vines, studded with cypresses and historic hilltop villages. Personally, I find this region rivals the more feted Tuscany in terms of prettiness.

Our destination was the picturesque village of Fumane di Valpolicella, home to a foremost Amarone producer the Allegrini Family who have been producing wine for over four hundred years. Its vineyards span 247 acres or 100 rugby pItches of vines. They produce their flagship wines of La Grola, Palazzo della Torre and La Poja from four Vineyards each showcasing different styles; .Corte Giara is their young, easy drinking wines, Poggio al Tesoro produces more restrained, elegant wines and San Polo the perfect terroir for Sangiovese grapes producing wines with great finesse of fragrances and elegant flavours. Allegrini also purchased the Villa Della Torre estate in the heart of Fumane di Valpolicella which now serves as the official Headquarters of its operations

The red wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from 4 grape varieties. Click on 4 grape varieties (below) to learn more. These grapes produce a variety of wine styles including a Recioto dessert wine and Amarone, a strong wine made from dried grapes.

Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara.

The most basic Valpolicella Classicos are light, fragrant table wines similar to Beaujolais nouveau and released only a few weeks after harvest and not for ageing. Valpolicella Superiore is aged at least one year with an alcohol content of 12 percent. Valpolicella Ripasso is a form of Valpolicella Superiore but made with partially dried grape skins left over from the fermentation of Amarone or Recioto.

Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially dried grapes of the Corvina and other approved red grape varieties (up to 25%).

The afternoon of wine tasting at Villa Delle Torre kicked off with a tour of the house and gardens with a glass of the Estates cool, crisp Soave in hand before retiring to a barrel-vaulted wine tasting room for the main event – a tasting of five of their fantastic wines accompanied by hunks of salty aged Parmesan and fresh local bread.

GW Tasting Notes:

SOAVE 2017

Grapes : Garganega and Chardonnay
Straw yellow in colour and the nose reveals notes of white flowers followed by fresher jasmine flowers and a crisp and delicate citrus vein.

GW Score 4*

VALPOLICELLA 2010

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 70%, Rondinella 30%
Ruby red in colour, the nose shows notes of cherries, echoed by fresher hints of pepper and aromatic herbs. Whilst young it is lively and playful – delicate later on.

GW Score 4*

PALAZZO DELLA TORRE 2015

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 40%, Corvinone 30%, Rondinella 25%, Sangiovese 5%
This wine is elegant good aroma. Ruby red in colour with purple hues, it offers hints of raisins, vanilla, black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. Soft and velvety tannins with a long finish. The delightful aroma of raisined grapes is enhanced if the wine is served at 18° C in a large wine glass.

GW Score 5*

AMARONE 2014

Grape varieties: Corvina Veronese 45%, Corvinone 45%, Rondinella 5%, Oseleta 5%
Vintage 2014 began with a mild winter. From April onwards, the weather started to get progressively worse, culminating in a surprisingly cold and wet summer. Meticulous trimming and selection was necessary at harvest time to select grapes of sufficient quality. Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta are left to air dry at least until December and are then checked daily to ensure perfectly healthy grapes. This wine has structure and depth and shows mature fruit and spices – good acidity and smooth tannins.

GW Score 5*

Give this region a try and find something “just off the beaten track” that you just wouldn’t normally experience. Who wouldn’t like a christmas pudding in a wine or cracked black pepper smattered all over a dark red ! Valpolicella is is now a top ten region for me.

Click on 4 grape varieties (below) to learn more 

Corvina Veronese, CorvinoneRondinella, and Molinara.

Music Pairing 

Herbie Hancock – Gershwin’s world

🍷 The Grape Wizard ratings 🍷

5* A must buy – don’t miss it.

4* Invest in this cheeky bottle for something different

3* ‘A middle of the road’ pleaser

2* Under average. Disappointing.

1* Do not go near this one – avoid at all costs.

Oatley Vineyard (UK)- A vineyard with a small footprint and a big heart

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Oatley Vineyard, Oatley Lane, Cannington, Bridgwater, Somerset TA5 2NL, UK,

wine@oatleyvineyard.co.uk

+44 (0)1278 671340

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Now there’s a famous saying that you shouldn’t mention politics and religion in the same sentence whilst in the presence of friends. Times have changed…. In the run up to the exit of Europe we should be discussing and lobbying the Government on this fragile but very successful industry. Not only do we had 397 vineyards ( 27 in Wales.) But we are not currently championing home grown talent. When was the last time you went into a pub and had the choice of ordering extensive UK wine. Where is the loyalty ! Who wouldn’t want to pay £14.99 (retail) for a UK produced wine. Just this weekend (28/10/18) i went into a farm shop and although they had some UK wine and spirits products IT was a poor advert for a great industry.

British sparkling wine , however, has seen a resurgence in recent years and has even taken on Champagne producers and sparkling wine estates with great effect. UK wines are on the cusp of becoming notably international. Always been the country that produced laughable wine. Now we are a force to be reckoned with. 2018 has seen a bumper harvest. (UK Report )

Oatley vineyard is one such place. Great vineyard producing fabulous wines

Jane and Ian(below)

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upsticked in 1985 from west London and moved to Somerset – Investing not only a new life but also £350 on a 1951 Ferguson T20 tractor.

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What a beauty ( not the exact one but you get the idea ! )

Having had a few facelifts in its long life they used the tractor to help sow the seeds          (sorry!) for the future. In the initial days both of them worked long hours and sacrificed blood ,sweat and tears.  Vines soon flourished and 3 years later (usually the time it take vines to produce fruit (grapes)), on the 5th November 1988, the vineyard came alive.

In the early days the reward for helping with the harvest was bread and cheese for the harvest workers, now its a 4 course meal with the estates wine. Just shows how far the vineyard has come !

The vineyard is situated in the SW on England , just south of Wales. It is only 1 Ha or 2.47 acres or 1x International sized rugby pitch

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(If you look at the top right of the photo you’ll see the vines)

The vineyard aims to use very little herbicides, using good husbandry to minimise the need for fungicides. To produce dry wines that reflect the vines, the place and the year both Jane and Ian

–  use minimum intervention winemaking and low levels of sulphur;
–  use lower weight bottles to keep our carbon footprint low;
–  use high quality traditional corks to help maintain the important mixed cork oak ecology in Portugal;
–  sell mainly directly within the southwest of England: low “wine miles’;
–  maintain our old vines in good health for as long as we can, keeping our traditional aromatic vine varieties;
–  promote biodiversity by letting our alleys come up to seed in May and June, letting our hedges grow and maintaining a wild area next to the vineyard
–  stay small and make only wines that we like to drink, from vines tended mainly by our own hands.

Their philosophy is to manage the vines meticulously so as to minimise disease through vine management and minimise artificial controls. They use no herbicides and promote biodiversity and try to have a low carbon footprint (see points above)

click to see more about carbon footprint and to see what yours is

Most years they produce two dry white wines from their two grape varieties. Kernling and Madelaine Angevine

Kernling is a white grape variety, which originated from mutation from the grape variety Kerner. Whilst Madeleine Angevine is a white wine grape from the loire valley in France. It is also popular in Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Washington State,USA. Madeleine Angevine is a fruity wine with a flowery nose similar to an Alsatian Pinot Blanc. It is crisp, acid and dry and pairs particularly well with seafoods such as crab and oyster

Oatley Vineyard’ Range  – Leonora’s and Jane’s.

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“Leonora’s” wines are dry and elegant, similar to a dry Riesling in style. They can be drunk young but develop in the bottle, showing complex honey

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overtones when approaching four years old or more. made from Kernling grapes, a first cross from Riesling that ripens to pink – it is the pink clone of the better-known Kerner grape.

Janes17tasting table

“Jane’s” wines, from golden Madeleine Angevine grapes are light and crisp with a flower-scented nose

and citrus notes, sometimes with a hint of elderflower and on the finish, gooseberry. Delightful as an aperitif,  for a party, in a summer garden or just for a refreshing glass at home. Best drunk young and fresh, within 2-3 years. Often likened to a restrained Sauvignon Blanc in style.

Elizabeths2015

Every now and then they produce a blend of the two varietals, named “Elizabeth’s” after their daughter. These wines, when available, make good wines to pair with food with the structure of the Kernling coupled with upfront fruit from the Madeleine,

Oatley has one French oak barrel, hand-coopered by Master Cooper Alastair Sims. It is light-toasted and fine-grained – from the Tronçais forest – for subtlety.

A small amount of wine was used to make barrel matured wine between 2010-2015. From 2016 onwards a new barrel was used , a barrique from Seguin Moreau of Cognac, known as a “Fraicheur”, made especially for light varietals, with fine grained French oak staves, very light toast and heads made from acacia rather than oak, to add a little brightness to the flavour. In 2016 they won a trophy for their endeavours (see link below)

Oatley even picked up a trophy at a recent competition. Please click to see more !

Their winemaker is Steve Brooksbank, at Bagborough, near Shepton Mallet where he destems, crushes and presses the grapes for Oatley.  Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Which lessens the influence of oak – so wine is clean and fresh. They also use lighter weight, (400g) bottles to keep our wines’ carbon footprint down. Everything that they do at Oatley is for the sustainability and the lesser impact on the environment

A very noble thing to do.

The Grape Wizard Geeky stuff

In 2011 EU wine legislation went through a few changes and there are now 4 distinct categories of wine that all vineyards have to adhere to if they want to put certain descriptions on the label          Click here for more info !

PDO

PGI

NON PDO/PGI still wines (Varietal )

NON PDO/PGI Sparkling wines (WINES)

Oatley vineyard has the honour of having all its wines at PDO level. English Wine PDO is the highest quality standard for English wines. English Regional Wine PGI is of similar technical standard but can include wine from hybrid vines and wines with no, or little, added sulphites.

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) denotes

• Quality and characteristics that are essentially or exclusively attributable to the geographical environment in which it is produced

• The grapes have been grown exclusively in the defined region (ie England/Wales) and are only of the Vitis Vinifera genus

• The production of the wine takes place in the defined region (England/Wales)

Wines will be labelled English (or Welsh) Quality Wine.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) denotes

• Wines produced under this scheme must possess a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to the geographical origin

• At least 85% of grapes used for its production have been grown in the defined region (ie England/Wales), with the rest from the UK, and are of the Vitis Vinifera genus or a cross of Vitis Vinifera and another genus of Vitis (therefore allowing hybrid varieties such as Seyval Blanc)

• The production of the wine takes place in the named area (England/Wales)

Wines will be labelled English (or Welsh) Regional Wine

NON PDO/PGI still/ sparkling wines (Varietal )

This category sits above basic uncertified wine. Successful application for this status allows the wine producer to state the cultivar and vintage on their label e.g. ‘Bacchus 2015’.
Where 85% or more of the grapes used in the wine are of a single variety then it is permissible to show just that variety. If more than one variety is stated then all varieties included must be shown in descending order of percentage. In either case at least 85% of the grapes must come from the stated vintage.Use of the protected term ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’ or ‘English Regional’ or ‘Welsh Regional’is NOT permitted on labels.There is no testing requirement for this status.

Can be labelled as ‘varietal wine’.

NON PDO/PGI Sparkling/still wines  (WINES)

This wine has not passed through one of the above categories in the UK Quality Wine Schemes and does not have to have been tested.

Labels should be kept plain and refer to the product simply as ‘white wine’ for example. Use of the protected term ‘English’ or ‘Welsh’ or ‘English Regional’ or ‘Welsh Regional’ is NOT permitted on labels. Statements of vine variety and vintage are NOT permitted on labels. There is no testing requirement for this status.

Only Wines and Quality Sparkling Wines that have passed through the appropriate wine scheme are permitted to indicate vineyard name.

In order to gain PDO and PGI status wines are required to pass independent assessments after the wine has been bottled.   Applications will be swiftly processed, enabling producers to market and sell their wines efficiently.  All successful wines will be listed on the UKVA website, enabling trade and consumer customers to verify the wines they buy. Consumers and trade buyers are therefore assured that there is a system in place to ensure quality standards are met every step of the way.

Producers that opt out of putting their wines through the scheme may use the term ‘English (or Welsh) Wine’ on the label but other information is restricted; for example vineyard location cannot be included.  The term ‘Table wine’ has now disappeared.

TheGrapewizard Vintage Notes for Oatley Vineyard

2014 was a top year  Lots of grapes and fruit ripened sufficiently . Almost no pests and an early harvest. Some would say it was a stress free year !  Jane’s 2014 was awarded a Silver Medal in the Summer 2015 UKVA competition.

2015 Colder than 2014 ,  difficult year to ripen grapes  The grape sugars were ok but failed to colour up and the acidity was high.  Madeleine was good but the Kernling lacked intensity in the mid-palate. Decision was taken to blend the two varietal wines and producer 2015 “Elizabeth’s”.

2016 was a dream year for vine growers with rain and sun in all; the right places.  “Jane’s 2016” was very popular

2017 Spring frosts with warm dry summer let to lower than expected volumesThe Jane’s 2017 will be released in early summer 2018. The Leonora’s 2017 will be cellared for a year or two.

So Jane and Ian have kept what they believe to be true. To keep their integrity and to showcase their wines in the environment that they are grown in . Wines are sold locally, farming practices are always in the continuing improvement of the estate and only make wines when they believe that  any of their 3 wines are at their best. Using their two major varietals to make a third wine when they can’t  or don’t want to use Madelaine or Kernling is a good marketing tool. Although small they seem to be vert adept at getting the most out of the environment. Its testament to their ideals and beliefs.

I think if they made a sparkling wine they would do rather well at it.  I hope with the bumper harvest of 2018 great things will come from the estate.

GW

all photos with kind permission from Oatley vineyard

En Primeur 2017 – A GrapeWizard insight!

Every time at this time of the year we see hoards of wine buyers and wine critics trekking down to the Gironde in Bordeaux – Moleskine in hand , full of previous years grape notes and baguette stuffed full of ham and cheese – 🥪 Ready for the onslaught that is Bordeaux En Primeur

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And Them !!

Ready to taste arguably the worlds best wines. En Primeur is a funny old thing.

It’s like buying a flat or house off plan (wine is in the barrel and a price is set for investors and consumers to purchase. Months later the wine is placed in bottles and the price is re-assessed.) In all this time critics and producers rate the wines – influencing the price up or down. Do you buy or choose something else. What is the best Chateau for the year and can i get my hands on it ?

 

Want to see my last article on 2016 ?

 (Click here to see 2016 En Primeur) 

 

Wine critics and Producers normally have a consensus on the very best years (1982, 1990 2000 2005 2009 2010, 2016 ) . These are the best years to get your wines from – but it will cost you !!

A few years ago Lafite Rothschild was trading at £22000 a case. Some months later it was down to £14000. – if you were an investor that was bad news. It shows how much is at stake if you make the wrong choice or buy at the peak of the value price. Chateau Pavie, by comparison was raised in the upper echelons of ‘Class A’  St Emillion classification (explained) – as a result bottle price went from. £300 to £1300. For the investor this is good news for the consumer not so.

The secret is finding out which producer has excelled in that particular year.

2017 was not without its problems though as various wine critics have stated :

 

Will Lyons(L) of Berry Bros has stated that the “wines are lively and fresh and are possibly not of the quality of 2015 or 16” (9/10’s in the wine world – 2005 and 2000 would be a 10) Bordeaux yield (grapes grown) is also down by 40% on 2016 equating to a loss of 300 million bottles.

Jancis Robinson (M)highlights that there was a small crop this year (supported by Lyons ) that was at least 45% down on last year, that the growing season was “pretty good” but that 80% of the top wines from the best producers were not impacted by frost. Very good year for Pauillac, St-Julien, St-Estèphe. Bulk wines went up and top wines prices stayed static..

She believes that almost all of the top and very good wines are not affected. Good for potential investors.
JamesSuckling.com (R) states “The quality of 2017 is much better than most people might expect… it’s not in the same league as the outstanding 2016 and 2015 vintages.”

He scored some of the wines from the great names of Bordeaux – 96 to 99 points. The 2017 vintage underlines that vintage variations among the top wines of Bordeaux

GW Tip

So you have to be very careful when choosing to invest or to enjoy the wines by comparable years. So safely assume 2017 to be a 7 or 8. Kind of really good but not exceptional or outstanding. Not as good as the last two years but no far off.

Chateau Andulet and Chateau Climens wiped out complete stock and have stated that no production occured. A result of the frost.

All of this seems quite negative news there is some positive -the frost that seems to have attacked so much of Bordeaux seems to have affected only Côtes de Castillion-Blaye,  St Emillion and Pomerol. Only small areas and not the big swathes of the heartland of Bordeaux

The frost seems to have crossed the Gironde and affected up to 1 km inland. See Gavin Quinneys map below

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CouGavin Quinney

Please click on each map to see how close the frost got on the 2017 growing season . Any vineyards that are 1km from the river are vunerable to damage. Be cautious .

 

View the map below and use the red amber green spots to warn you of what to not invest in and what your safe with !

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 Avoid Côtes de Castillion blaye and lesser top chateausred-horse-dot-m_2778460a

Chateaus close to the gironde (within 1km)- See Below

Grand Puy Ducasse (St Estephe)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Coufran (haut Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Malacasse (Haut Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Delamarque (Haut- Medoc)avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Ch. Leovill – Poyferre (choose wisely) avatars-000076718647-ptllos-original

Green GreenCircle-56a87e193df78cf7729e54d9   Click here to see a list of top Chateaus largely unaffected by the frost

So vineyards that fall into the red dot are producers to very carefully consider not investing in

Vineyards in the Orange dot fall in the danger zone of the frost of 2017 – research very carefully

Vineyards that fall in the green dot require very little research as 80% of the top chateaus had no problems whatsoever.

So the most important thing to understand is what wines are investable what regions are the right regions for climate over the growing season and which ultimately will mature over 10+ years. So far 2016 and 15 are better than 17 and for that reason demand will not be as high as the previous 2 years.

d’Yquem 201798-99
Latour 201798-99
Cheval Blanc 201797-98
Château Suduiraut 201797-98
Cos d’Estournel 201797-98
Ducru Beaucaillou 201797-98
L’Eglise Clinet 201797-98
Lafite Rothschild 201797-98
Lafleur 201797-98
Margaux 201797-98

taken from James Sucklings website En Primeur 2017

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So just by giving two examples the consensus is not universal – it is merely subjective. If i highlight 6 critics you would probably find different conclusions to the vintages .

If  everyone rated exactly the same that would be boring !

If you keep a close eye on the market and the ongoings with potential sales of Chateau’s classifications and what producers are doing  you can get a fair indication of what might happen. That is  the time to invest. In the last year I have invested £2500 and made £500 on that  Most of the wines have not matured yet or are on the cusp of the maturing window. Not bad for a beginner….

GW Investment tips

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2017 Leoville Barton(no prices released as yet) (2016’s price was £370 /6 outstanding value

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2017 Decru- Beaucaillou (no prices released as yet) (2016 £142.00×6 =£852 )

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2017 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus(no prices released as yet)(2016 £158×6 = £948)

If your feeling brave ………..

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2017 Chateau Angelus, St Emillion (no prices released as yet)(2016 £298×6 =  £1788)

and the outsider

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2017 Chateau Clinet (no prices released as yet)(2016 £78×6= £468)

Whether you have a preference for one wine critic or another the best thing a wine investor/consumer is have some affinity with their chosen critic. It is important that you believe in the tastes and experience of your chosen taster. Whether it be status  or the way he/she writes one thing is important is that you have that relationship.  Hundreds of critics exist out there  some notable examples are :

What ever your choice do it because you like them !

If you are going to invest in this year , be cautious. There are a lot of fabulous regions waiting to be discovered  – not just bordeaux

Washington Wineries, USA

Oregon Wineries, USA

Alsace wines , EU

Wines of Great Britain, UK

All these areas offer good value for money and have a diverse range of tastes and styles. something for everyone. Explore and transport. Its so cheap to do so

Remember its your money Have fun with it . This could be the new pension . Wine is in demand .

Wine Investment

Stick to a few rules and you can’t go wrong !

Enjoy the Journey !!!

GW

 

 

3rd March Mulled Wine Day. Enjoy anywhere, anytime, any place – as long as its cold !

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As I write this the “Beast from the East” and a local UK storm “Emma”  is firmly beating down upon us ! – Scotland is in the grip of -15, Most of NE England has fallen to a stand still and most of SW is almost under control of the Army . Almost sounds like this could be a take over from a military dictatorship or an episode from “Game of Thrones”

The polar vortex nicknamed “Beast From The East” has spiraled in from the arctic and is to blame. Winter is coming…..

What caused this and what can we do to solve it !

A polar vortex is a mass of desperately cold air that sits above the Earth’s north and south poles.  Controlled by a large pocket of low pressure it rotates in an anti-clockwise direction at the North Pole and clockwise at the South Pole.  When the vortex is strong it is concentrated over the Arctic or Antarctic area -but when weak it can split into two or more freezing vortices. This is where the problems start as they can move south to Canada, the USA and Europe, increasing the risk of air temperatures decreasing to potentially dangerous levels.Which is what we are witnessing at the moment.

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Photo taken this week showing the cold snap over most of Europe

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This weeks weather affecting airports

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A scene from Chinatown, London

 All this means we are cold , we are grumpy and more importantly we need a winter warmer.

Perfect timing for one of the coldest events in recent years and the US celebrating Nation Mulled wine day on the 3rd March

NATIONAL MULLED WINE DAY USA

National  Mulled Wine Day is observed annually on March 3rd.

Mulled spirits are wine and liquors that have been heated and spiced. Mulled wine is usually made with red wine (usually inexpensive but full of fruit – Cabernet Sauvignon works best)  with various spices, fruits and sometimes slightly sweetened with honey.  Popular blends include cinnamon, nutmeg, citrus, vanilla, anise, cloves, raisins or pears. Despite its high sugar content, mulled wine is not a drink that ages well.

Historically Pubs who make their own usually make a rather thin alternative to mulled wine that was once designed to show off the wealth and generosity in Medevial times. Indeed a cookery book published about 1390 first highlight the potential benefits of a warming drink. With a recipe which included cinnamon, ginger, galangal, cloves, long pepper, nutmeg, marjoram, cardamom and grains of paradise itwas more overpowering and medicinal than it was enjoyable

what all of these recipes show is that the mulled wine is a basic drink. Not much finesse , not much elegance but a pleasant spiced alcoholic drink merely for warming the soul.Because of its basic Nature it can never command an expensive price and is therefore great in Winter for people to enjoy a drink with friends.

Searcy’s Champagne Bar in St Pancreas currently holds the world record for the highest cost per glass   (Click here for link to find out more ! )

 

 

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Franz Settner and Son 5 Euro

Outstanding Value !!

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Screaming eagle 1992 £500,000

Although a person who mixes spices with this scarce Cabernet is a brave person!!!

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The Franz Stettner & Sohn firm is one of the largest distilleries in Bavaria. Everything began with a bottle of lemon liqueur on 12 July 1949. Since then, the firm has passed into the hands of its third generation, with premises of over 40,000 m², its own transport fleet of 23 trucks, a warehouse with a capacity of over three million litres, and six fully automated filling lines. In our selection, you will find the most diverse fruit brandies and liqueurs, distinguished wines, as well as sparkling wines, Champagnes, Federweisser, mulled wines, and fruit and honey wines. Our self-produced, alcohol-free range includes fruit juices, spritzers, refreshment drinks and mixers, energy drinks, iced tea, mineral and table waters, and syrups and of course mulled wine

Franz Settner and sons (click to go to their website )

How to make the perfect  mulled wine

Perfect mulled wine

Makes about 12 servings

2 unwaxed oranges
1 lemon, peel only
150g caster sugar
5 cloves, plus extra for garnish
5 cardamom pods, bruised
1 cinnamon stick
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 bottles of fruity, unoaked red wine
150ml ginger wine

1. Peel and juice 1 orange, and add to a large saucepan along with the lemon peel, sugar and spices. Add enough wine to just cover the sugar, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until you have a thick syrup.

2. Meanwhile, if you’re serving the mulled wine immediately, stud the second orange with 6 vertical lines of cloves, and then cut into segments to use as a garnish.

3. Turn the heat down, and pour the rest of the wine into the saucepan, along with the ginger wine. Gently heat through and serve with the orange segments as a garnish. Alternatively, you can allow the syrup to cool, and pour it into sterilised bottles for use at a later date.

Is mulled wine a guaranteed spirit raiser, or by far the worst thing about Christmas – Slade and paper hats included? What do you put in your own festive punch – or what would you prefer to be offered instead?

Global Gluwein

 

Mulled wine rpavlch flickr 2

AUSTRIA goes gaga for Glühwein

Basotxerri Gluhwein

Means: “Glowing Wine”. A steaming staple drink of ski resorts and Christmas markets nationwide.

Classic ingredients: Lemon juice + sugar + cloves + cinnamon sticks + orange + vanilla + wine (make it a bottle of Blaufränkisch to keep the whole thing Austrian).

ITALY brews bellissimo Vin Brule

Vin-Brule-con-Barbera-d-Asti vinicartasegna.it.

Means: Simply “Mulled Wine”

Classic ingredients: Nutmeg + sugar + cloves + cinnamon + lemon peel + apple + wine (something full bodied and fruity, like a Piedmont Nebbiolo).

NORWAY does glugs of gorgeous Gløgg

Glogg Lemsipmatt Flickr 2

Means: From “glödgad vin” = “glowing, hot wine”

Classic ingredients: Orange + raisins + cardamoms + cloves + ginger + almonds + cinnamon + dash of Muscatel/Port + wine (a dry red, like a Svenska from neighbouring Sweden).

FRANCE says Vive la Vin Chaud

Vin Chaud Jf2C Flickr Public Use 2

Means: “Hot Wine”

Classic ingredients: Cinnamon + orange zest + sugar + cloves + cardamom + cheeky splash of cognac + wine (go for a good old red vin de france).

SLOVENIA snuggles up with mugs of Kuhano Vino

kuhano-vino-2 Christine tasteofdivine.com

Means: “Boiled wine”

Classic ingredients: Clementines + lemon + orange + nutmeg + star anise + cinnamon + cloves + wine (there are some super Slovenian Merlots like Quercus).

FINLAND has glorious Glögi

Glogi check Raija Lehtonen Visit Finland 2

Means: “Glow Wine”

Classic ingredients: Blanched almonds + berries + raisins + cinnamon + sugar + cloves + fruit juice (grape / orange / blackberry) + wine (maybe a Scandi merlot).

Recommended grape varieties:

Fruity red wines are especially suitable for making a good Glühwein. By heating the wine the aromas which are often reminiscent of red fruit are particularly strongly expressed and create a wonderful harmony with the seasoning ingredients.

Red wine varieties  that go well with the spices include Cabernet Sauvignon, Rioja Crianza and a Merlot. Grape varieties that either have black or red fruit with little tannins and little oak will work well.  Pinot noir is especially worth a try. Even go for a German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir).

So today is mulled wine day in most countries. even if it isn’t who needs an excuse to try a variation on any of the above recipes. Give it a try. Enjoy the warming drink , sniff the aromas and have fun.

GW

 

2018 Open That Bottle Night (OTBN)

OTBN Saturday 24th February 2018

Today is a a day just like any other day , except 18 years ago a day was set aside for “open that bottle day” We all open bottle of champagne for celebration and we open bottles of port to enjoy with cheese – Sometimes you just need some ‘ME TIME’ to enjoy that bottle , that moment and that memory!

The founders of Open That Bottle Night  are Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall St. Journal (wine@wsj.com). The event was first celebrated in 2000 and the practice has continued every year since then.

Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher write “Tastings,” the weekly wine column of The Wall Street Journal. They also are the authors of “Wine for Every Day and Every Occasion,” “Love by the Glass: Tasting Notes from a Marriage” and “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine.” A complete revision of that book, called “The New and Improved Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine,” was published in September 2002.
Ms. Gaiter and Mr. Brecher have been married since 1979. Ms. Gaiter was a national reporter and editor covering issues of race for the Journal from 1990 to 2000. Mr. Brecher was Page One Editor of the Journal from 1992 to 2000. They began writing “Tastings” in 1998 and became full-time wine columnists in 2000.

It is always celebrated on the last Saturday in February, so the date can range from the 22nd to the 29th of that month.

The originators of Open That Bottle Night realized that we all have such bottles, but we never find just the right occasion to open them up and enjoy the contents. Wine is meant to be enjoyed. OTBN allows a bottle to come out from it’s hiding place, be opened up and to be enjoyed

To some wine lovers a special bottle of wine is one that came from a particular wine region and is of a particular year. To a married couple, it may be a bottle of ordinary wine or champagne that was given them at their wedding.

Whatever makes your bottle of wine special to you, Open That Bottle Night is the annual event in which those special bottles are brought out to help us share our lives and celebrate the memories.

 

In a new format i will from now on highlighting SIP, SAVE and STALK on every article

Sip- is a wine that can be drunk now!

Save – is a wine that should be invested in or stored for improvement

Stalk- is to name a person, place or Wine that should be inspirational or aspirational

 

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Taittinger Comtes BdeB 1998 £99 Berry Bros

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1998
First pressings only. 5% matured in new French oak. 100%.  Toasty, aromatic nose. The palate is fresh with lemony fruit

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Quite structured and warm with some savoury bite.

Rich hazelnut, peach and pear

yet with bracing lemony acidity.

nice freshness

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 1996 Ch. Petrus, Pomerol £2945 Berry Bros

 

PARKER – The 1996 Petrus is a big, monolithic, foursquare wine with an impressively opaque purple color, and sweet berry fruit intermixed with earth, pain grille, and coffee scents.

Full-bodied and muscular, with high levels of tannin, and a backward style, this wine will require patience.

 

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Gerard Francis Claude Basset (born 1957) OBE, MS, MW, MBA, OIV MSc is the owner of Hotel TerraVina, a New Forest Hotel near Southampton in Hampshire, United Kingdom. He is currently the only person in the world to hold the combined titles of Master of Wine, Master Sommelier, Wine MBA, OIV MSc in Wine Management and World’s Best Sommelier.

Certainly an Inspiration !

GERARD-BASSET-Ovogodisnji-pobednik-svetskog-prvenstva-Somelijera

Follow this link to learn more about Gerard

 

IDEAS for that bottle opening !

1. Choose the wine. Choose a wine that means the most to you, the one that you would simply never open otherwise. You’re looking for a bottle full of memories.

2. Both reds and whites are often better closer to cellar temperature (around 55 degrees) than today’s room temperature. Don’t over chill the white, and think about putting the red in the refrigerator for an hour or two before opening it if you’ve been keeping it in a 70-degree house.

3. Have a backup wine ready for your special meal, in case your old wine really has gone bad.

4. If you are having an OTBN party, ask everyone to say a few words about the significance of the wine they brought

5. Serve dinner. Open the wine and immediately take a sip. If it’s truly, irretrievably bad — meaning vinegar — you will know it right away.

6. Enjoy the wine for what it is, not what it might someday be or might once have been.

 

Just enjoy !

 

Unstuffy learning: Learning to love Chardonnay : Chablis Grand cru (4/4)

The pinnacle of the Chablis application is that of the Grand Crus. Just one hillside NorthEast of Paris show 7 plots of land on the hillside highlighting Chardonnay in all its glory.

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Chablis Grand Crus (105 Hectares or 105 Rugby fields )

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Cartes_des_vins_de_france

In recent years Chablis has endured a mixed love affair with its consumers. The 80’s and 90’s in Australia and USA put paid to the fact that over oaked whites was the way ahead. Little did those two countries realise that the image of that time was to stay until this very day. Most consumers still think there is a link between those days of big oak and the present day. As a result chardonnay is perceived as the least liked grape. Some of the best white wines are chardonnays as they offer diversity balance and elegance.  Chardonnay cannot be ignored !

So in the last of 4 parts. Chablis Grand Cru is explained.

Chablis Grand Cru

The Chablis Grand Cru appellation comprises seven Climats(or areas) :

Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur, and Vaudésir.

It is mainly produced in the village of Chablis, but also at Fyé and Poinchy.

CHARACTER OF THE WINES

A greenish-gold appearance and with age changes to a light yellow. Can keep for 10 to 15 years, One the nose, the mineral aromas of flint

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are intense. They nonetheless give way to linden

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nuts,

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a hint of honey

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and almonds.

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The Fairy Ring or mousseron mushroom aroma

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is a typical touch.

On the palate, the balance is perfect between liveliness and body, encapsulating the charm of an inimitable and authentic wine. The jewel in the crown of Chablis is a wine rich in nuances that finds expression through each individual area.

LOCATION

Chablis Grand Cru can be found in the commune of Chablis and on the right bank of the Serein, the little river which runs through the region to the northeast of the village, and is at an elevation of between 100 and 250 meters. Enjoying an excellent sunny location, the Chablis Grand Cru appellation is unique. It is spread over seven Climats, whose names feature on the labels, each with a distinct character as the Chardonnay demonstrates its wonderful variations:

Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir.

TERROIR

The terroirs, formed in the Upper Jurassic era, (150 million years ago), are composed of limestone and marl with tiny oyster fossils. Chablis Grand Cru is one of the rare French AOC wines to make reference to its geology, notably the Kimmeridgian age. The origins of which are in the Dorset villige of Kimmeridge

Map a9 copy

In Burgundy each Grand Cru vineyard has its own appellation. In Chablis Grand Cru there is only one vineyard but 7 plots

The total production surface area is 105.79 Ha

Area in production*:
1 hectare (ha) = 10,000 m² or 1 HA is 1x Internationally sized rugby field

Total area = 105.79 ha.
Blanchot: 12.39 ha.               12 x Rugby fields
Bougros: 15.79 ha.                15 x Rugby fields
Les Clos: 28.39 ha.                28 x Rugby fields
Grenouilles: 9.38 ha.           9 x Rugby fields
Preuses: 11.43 ha.                11 x  Rugby fields
Valmur: 11.04 ha.                  11 x Rugby fields
Vaudésir: 14.49 ha.               14 x Rugby fields 

Blanchots

Characteristics : Delicate and floral white flowers with little or no oak (especially Benoit Droin) SE Grand Cru location with a steep slope on white soil. Its setting makes it well positioned for good air flow and the sun is lost mid afternoon making it a cooler site than the other 6. This makes the wine have more finesse rather than power  Typical characteristics is White flowers

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some producers don’t use wood (Benoit Droin) and some producers use Blanchot as the only Cru to mature in Oak (although very small in numbers )

Bougros

 Lower on the slope and therefore more at risk of frost.  NW location of the Grand Crus. The character is Big soft and round. Only Fevre’s Cote de Bougerots shows minerality

 of chablis . as the rest are too low on the slope and can be unpredictable.

Les Clos

arguably the finest of the 7 areas. Situated on the right of the vineyard. Those vines at the bottom of the Les Clos plot are situated in deeper earth than this at the top of Les Clos. This results in fatter wines. Firm and austere racy minerality elegant

Les grenouilles.

Situated next to the road that runs at the base of the grand crus part of the steep slope of grenouilles plateaus out. This is where there is deeper soil. It is this deep soil that wines are richer and heavier as opposed to the mineral wines on the slope

Les Preuses

Sits above bougros on a gentle slope  and deeper topsoil, has fractured rock formation so has good drainage . Wines are not that aromatic but do age well .. Preuses is not an area different from all the others  it sits in the shadow of Vaudesir (especially the producer Dauvissat) Some areas retain heat better than other whilst the rest is on a lower slope and as a result is at risk of Frost

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Valmur

space between grenouilles and les Clos . The climate is important here. It beciomes very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter . This is because it sits in a valley and the cool air cannot dissapate. The reult is less aroma but with more body

Vaudesir

The valley is enclosed with little air circulation  so intense summer heat   but it is more elegant and more floral than others. It is regard as second best (behind Les Clos.) Always retaining there minerality and the intense richness of fruit

BEST Grape Wizard VINTAGES
2010 , 1990 ,
2012, 2005, 2002, 1996, ,1995,
2015,2014,2013,2011,2008,2007,2000,1997,1992,
1989,2009,2006,2003,2001,1999,1998,1988,
1986,1985,1983, 2004,1994,1993,1982,1979

10791Pinson 2010 ,Chardonnay £45 each Berry Bros

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2012 Chanson, £50 each Millesima

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(label representative of producer)

Ravenau 1990 Chablis Grand Crus $1350 Rare wine Company

Every wine critic has there favourite plot not down to exclusivity or price or demand from consumers. But from the mere fact that each plot has different characteristics it is for the consumer to choose. Go for what you like and let people know what you want. Don’t stand on ceremony don’t feel like you are acting like a fool. Passionate people want to help you they don’t want to ridicule you. Embrace people’s desire to make you learn. Without it you won’t enjoy it as much. Go for it. !!!

Any questions please email me. contact thegrapewizard !

See list below for producers in Chablis

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