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Sunday, 22 May 2022

Supermarket Crisp White And Big Red

An Austrian Crisp White from Morrison's and Big Red from Lidl

Bordeaux was my first oenological love - we had taken a weekend break to northern France in the car and decided to bring back a few bottles with us. They cost the equivalent of a few pounds each and I had plucked them off the shelves pretty much at random, but back home every bottle we opened was at least thoroughly enjoyable if not rather better and I realised that I actually liked wine (or French wine bought in France, to be specific) a lot more than the generic UK-brewed beers and lagers I had previously consumed.

Not long afterwards, I took on a high-travel role that saw me visiting Vienna most months; to fend off the boredom of endless evenings with just a newspaper's business pages for company in one of the world's great cities, I started eating (and drinking) at slightly better restaurants and developed a taste for Michelin-quality food and high-end Austrian wines.

It's easily done when the company is paying for you.

So, Austrian Gruener and red Bordeaux remain my go-to for a brace of enjoyable wines to accompany a meal.

I met Markus Huber a couple of times at various tastings and was impressed by the quality of his wines - for Morrison's to get his wine and stock it at around £7 is no mean feat.

This purchase was a chance find - I happened to be in Morrison's and it happened to be marked down by a few pounds; I now wish I'd bought more, but I can say that of many wines in my makeshift cellar and I still have more than I can get through.

The Lidl Bordeaux was recommended by Richard Bampfield MW; I have reviewed it previously, but the 2017 now has a bit more bottle age and can be viewed with some perspective.

I bought  a case each of the 2016 and 2017 when they were on special offer; the '16 is the better vintage but the '17 being lighter and fresher is ready for drinking sooner (on this tasting, it will still benefit from a few more years).

I decanted the red around an hour before the meal; with hindsight, this was too little. It can take (and will benefit from) several hours in the decanter to soften the tannins and allow the fruit to come to the fore.

The Gruener was chilled and aerated; it shows well on first pouring and doesn't require decanting, but  it does improve greatly with more air.

Morrisons The Best Gruner Veltliner 2019, Niederoesterreich (£7.50, Morrison's)

citrus, orange blossom and honeysuckle, stone fruits, white pepper and crushed slate; crisp and fresh with lemon-lime, pineapple, fresh yellow stone fruits and orchard fruits; white pepper, minerality and some dried green herbs.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

A versatile food wine, match with picnic foods, a wide range of starters, meaty white fish or roasted white meats.

Lidl Saint Emilion Grand Cru (£11.99, Lidl) 

bramble fruits, plums cherries and pencil shavings with oaky spice; soft and supple with cherry fruit coffee grounds and spice; firm, slightly grippy tannins.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

89 points from Richard Bampfield for the 2016 vintage.

Match with midweight dishes, such as pork rillettes, salami or roast chicken.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Two Co-Op Medal Winners

Two IWSC medal-winning wines from the Co-op

Say you need a fresh, food-friendly white plus big red to match with some red meat. Perhaps you you need them to have plenty of enjoyable fruit, but also be able to back it up with complex sophistication. But what if budget does not stretch beyond £10? Oh, and you need to be able to pop out and buy them locally, rather than have to make up a large online order? Potentially, you have quite the challenge on your hands.

However, the good news is that the Co-op has two IWSC medal-winnings wines priced around £9 that are enjoyable, sophisticated, food-friendly and kind to your wallet.

The Gavi di Gavi is a flawless, supple Italian white that you can sip in the garden, take on a picnic or match with starters or even lighter mains.

The Argentinean Malbec is plump and darkly-fruited yet fresh, perfect for char-grilled steak or barbecue meats.


Co-op Irresistible Gavi di Gavi 2021, Italy (£8.50)

Made by the Broglia family who have been producing delicate and delicious white wines in northern Italy since 1972, the first records of wine from these vineyards date from AD 972.

Despite being from a region more famous for red wines Gavi has carved out a well-deserved reputation for excellent, dry and refreshing whites.

orchard fruits, white peach, florality and sweet spices; crisp and fresh yet full and supple with baked apple, lemon curd and melon fruit and creamy toasted almond.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Match with soft cheese, meaty white fish or white meats.


Don David Blend of Terroirs Fairtrade 2021, Argentina (£9.00) 

From the unique wine making region of the Calchaqui Valley, this is a blend of two Malbecs from different high altitudes. One brings the fruit concentration while the other adds structure, texture and backbone.

dark plums, elderberries and blueberry fruit; with liquorice, spice and violets; black cherry fruit, black olives, cool mint full, supple and fresh with an inky texture, generous extraction and rounded tannins.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Match with roasted red meats, such as lamb with garlic and rosemary or char-grilled barbecue meats.

Friday, 20 May 2022

The CWB Languedoc Rosé-Off

Three rosés from reliable and innovative Languedoc producer Foncalieu

Languedoc's Foncalieu is a southern French co-operative making characterful wines in handsome bottles.

I have been a fan of their wines for a long time; they are always well-made and expressive but sophisticated.

With southern warmth, nuance and attention to detail, these are crowd-pleasing wines in the best sense; you can serve them to a wide range of people and be confident that everyone will enjoy them.

These three rosés are better value than anything you will get from next-door Provence and while they are all good on their own merits, the niche Piquepoul Noir gets a special mention for being an extremely rare grape variety that will give you extra bragging rights at the dinner table.

Le Versant Grenache Rosé, 2021 (£12, independents)

soft red fruits, delicate florality and orange blossom; red fruits, citrus, zippy lime pith and saline minerality with good underpinnings; dense, linear, concentrated and precise.

Good.

A versatile food wine, match with picnics, mezze or tapas.

Piquepoul Noir Rosé, 2021 (£11 - £15, Fine Wine Direct)

delicate red fruits; dense and concentrated with good, savoury underpinnings; citrus, lime pith, red fruits and creamy-leesy-oatmealy almond and brazil nut.

Good.

Demands food; match with seafood, quiche, tapas, antipasti or mezze.

Domaine Haut Gléon, Vallée Du Paradis, 2021 (£16.95)

lime, honeysuckle, mint and rubbed sage with citrussy, grapefruit freshness; taut, linear acidity with redcurrant fruit and saline minerality; very focused, textured and precise. 

Good.

Match with Mediterranean starters: bread with olive oil. anchovies and tapenade.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

The CWB Sauvignon Blanc Off

Two very different Sauvignon Blancs - Loire and New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps somewhere at the "late majority" stage in its life cycle - selling in larger quantities than ever, but a bit, well, passé for the ultra-cool urban hipsters in search of the latest thing.

I'll be honest, even I don't drink that much Sauvignon these days.

And that's not because I don't like it. 

I do like Sauvignon; I like its crisp freshness, its aromatics and minerality; I like the way it responds the places it's grown in and the way it is made. It is a wonderful grape.

Yes, it's cool to be down on Sauvignon for being synonymous with "generic pub white", but when it's well made with character and individuality, it is a refreshing, complex and food-friendly mouthful.

Sauvignon's classic regions are the Loire and New Zealand; and it traditionally makes very different styles of wine in each region.

Loire Sauvignon is where it all started with that steely-flinty-smoky thing, while New Zealand is the new classic with its aromatic, zesty and tropical vibe.

Ultimately, it's a Old World palate vs New World aromatics distinction.

Both these wines are equally good on a technical level, so it really comes down to personal preference.

The Old World One

Domaine Jacky Marteau Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2019 Touraine AOC (£15 / £13, Avery's)

Touraine is situated next door to the Loire's Central Vineyards which includes renowned Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Touraine Sauvignons tend to be much better value.

Domaine Jacky Marteau is a fourth generation estate founded by Gérard Delaunay, the current owners' maternal great grandfather. Passed down the line, it has been run since 2010 by Rodolphe Marteau and his sister Ludivine.

Their vineyards on the left bank of the river Cher are ideal for Sauvignon. Picking at the peak of maturity and cool fermenting in stainless steel vats ensure lovely ripe fruit with super charged freshness.


gooseberry, grapefruit and citrus with nettles, cut grass, flintiness and a hint of white pepper; full and supple with green apple, grassiness, elderflower and melon fruit; deft and elegant with good savoury underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening, but improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Good.

Match with seafood or goat's cheese.

The New World One

Smith & Sheth CRU Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (£17, Tesco)

Smith & Sheth Cru Sauvignon Blanc, from Wairau, New Zealand, is made by Steve Smith MW, one of New Zealand wine’s most respected figures, and Brian Sheth, an investor and wildlife conservationist with a strong love for New Zealand.

They share a passion for fine wine and seek out the finest grapes from exceptional vineyards, crafting wonderful wines which show a sense of place, subtleties, and precision. 

Cru Sauvignon Blanc is made using the best grapes from two vineyards in Marlborough. A combination of machine and handpicked fruit, from mature vines grown in rocky soils around the town of Renwick is blended with biodynamically grown grapes from the cooler clay hillside of Churton vineyard.

Fermented at cooler temperatures in stainless steel, with a small portion wild fermented in oak.

gently pungent with lifted aromatic lime, grapefruit, grassiness and lemongrass with exotic fruits and pebbly sea spray; fresh lime juice, gooseberry, white stone fruit, guava, white pepper and citrus with linear acidity and saline minerality; concentrated, precise and complex.

Good.

Match with asparagus and goats’ cheese, meaty white fish, such as halibut, monk fish or bbq roasted prawns with a salad.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

The CWB Meta Aussie Viognier-Off

Four Viogniers from Australia's Yalumba - and what buying each one says about you

Viognier is a heat-loving, low-acidity peachy-apricotty grape whose spiritual home is the northern Rhône; Helena Nicklin describes it as the sun goddess of the wine world..

By the 1970s it was in danger of becoming extinct with just a little over 10 hectares in Condrieu, but it has staged something of a come-back ever since.

Australia's Yalumba adopted Viognier as their signature white in the Barossa Valley in the 1980s, after seeing its potential as an alternative to premium Chardonnay.

After a lot of trial and error to learn how to get the best out of the grape, Yalumba now makes a range of Viogniers from the entry-level Y Series up to the very serious Virgilius.

All four wines have a family resemblance - they are picked late for character, with freshness and contrast provided by phenolics from skin contact and little to no fining to maintain flavour and complexity.

The more ambitious wines are fermented in old oak with some lees aging; made somewhat oxidatively but with high phenolics, these wines have the potential to be aged. The 2003, for example, is sealed under screwcap and has hardly gained any colour.

They are all Good to Very Good wines, so to an extent, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

The cheerful one


Olly Smith recommends the Y Series Viognier, saying: Peachy and bright as honeysuckle, this is as good as Viognier gets for under £10.

Retailing at well under £10, this is complex and gastronomic beyond its price point. Buy this if you want something inexpensive but sophisticated.

The packing is nicely distinctive, but to me, the wine is better than appearances would suggest - the label says fulsome cheeky chappie, but its so much more than that

If you need to make a good impression and want to avoid the supermarket/entry-level vibe, I'd be tempted to put this into a smart decanter - it will benefit from the aeration in any case.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2021 (£8, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s)

white flowers, white pepper and stone fruit; waxy yet crisp with peach, apricot and pineapple fruit, some grapefruit and lemon pitch; honeysuckle and minerality with good, savoury underpinnings.

Match with spicy and rich dishes such as a Sri Lankan vegetable or chicken curry.

Good.

The smart supermarket one



Yes, it's still a supermarket wine, but it's from those bastions of middle-class Britain, Waitrose and M&S, so your colleagues and neighbours won't judge you if you serve it as a "house wine".

It looks smart and it's organic, too with wild yeasts and a commitment to biodiversity leading to better pest control.

This would be fine to bring along to a barbecue or informal garden party, but refer to it as a "Viognier" and serve it from a decanter if you want to quietly impress the sort of people who would raise an eyebrow at supermarket Australian wine.

Yalumba Organic Viognier 2021 (£9.99 Waitrose, Marks & Spencer) 

delicate white flowers, ginger and jasmine with apricot; creamy, rich and long with fresh apricot, almonds, bright stone fruits and sweet spices. Full and supple with good underpinnings.

Good.

The sophisticated middle-child one


This is actually my favourite of all the Viogniers here, but it risks being overlooked, being neither under £10, nor eye-wateringly priced.

The fruit is from old vines in Eden Valley, where Yalumba first planted Viognier; it is fermented with wild yeasts in some old oak and put into a cold room which prevents malolactic fermentation and therefore maintains freshness. It spends 10 months on the lees with battonage, resulting in a more open and earlier-drinking wine.

Only available from independent wine merchants, neatly presented with what could be taken for a European chateau on the front, it cites a European-style place of origin in an elegant script; you could easily put this sophisticate on the table at a dinner party and not feel the need for any explanations.

Samuel’s Collection Viognier 2018 (£16.99, Vinvm.co.uk, Flagship Wines, Taurus Wines) 

fresh apricots, ginger, saffron and fresh white flowers; stone fruits and freshness with savoury, leesy underpinnings, toasty sweet spices; deft, supple, full and complex.

Drinks nicely on first opening, improves with aeration and can be cellared.

Very Good.

Match roast pork, Moroccan tagine and spiced couscous, or falafel and baba ghanoush wraps.

The super smart one
At £40, this wine makes a statement even before you crack open the screwcap. Yes, it's good, but then for £40 you would expect it to be good.

Priced like an Old World wine and equivalent to 5 bottles of the already-very-good entry-level Y Series, it's hard to make a rational case for this wine.

But wine is never about being rational and Tom Cannvan picks this one out for special mention.

Is it a statement of intent, a price anchoring device, or a European-style wine at European-style prices? Probably a bit of everything.

It comes in an important-feeling weighty bottle with an embossed label and a script that flourishes elegantly like a monarch's signature.

Tom describes it as peachy, with a twist of confit lemon; full texture and a taut core of acidity.

To be absolutely honest, right now I'd rather take two-and-a-bit bottles of the Eden Valley over one of the Virgilius. But with potential future in-laws or a new boss to impress, this restrained and complex wine would make the right statement.

And if I were laying down bottles for my children or future grandchildren, I'd be confident of the Virgilius going the distance.

Virgilius Viognier 2018 (£40.95, Vinvm.co.uk, Flagship Wines, Soho Wine Supply) 


yellow stone fruits, leesy brazil nut sweet spice and citrus; fresh, concentrated and precise; full, supple and fresh with stone fruits, creamy-nutty underpinnings, complex, dense savouriness and toasty spice.

Drinks nicely on first opening, but needs cellaring and aeration to best show its superiority.

Very Good.

Match with Burgundian dishes, such as white fish in butter, lighter game, scallops or mushrooms.


***

For a more straightforward review of the wines, see Dave Cronin's non-meta write-up: Yalumba Viognier Tasting : VinoViews

Saturday, 7 May 2022

A(nother) CWB Chardonnay-Off

Three very different Chardonnays

This is not my first Chardonnay-Off rodeo; far from it, in fact.

There has been the Southern Hemisphere one, the International one, the Southern French Oaky one and the Adelaide Hills one.

Chardonnay is The Beatles of wine grapes; among both the most accomplished and most popular performers, it is the one that inspired so many others and remains the standard against which many are judged.

This Chardonnay-Off highlights the variety that this grape can show - different countries, different price points and different ages.

It is also a great food wine; match with starters, white meats, meaty white fish and creamy mushroom pasta.

Entry-level Chardonnay is a great picnic wine; with more age and complexity, match with lighter game.

All three wines here drink nicely on first pouring, but open up and improve with some aeration.

Australian Limestone Coast Chardonnay, 2021 (£5.99 / £4.49 on offer, Lidl)

Australia's Limestone Coast is a catch-all appellation for several regions within South Australia; it was once underwater and as a result, the soil is fossil-rich, hence the name.

Lidl wines are generally priced extremely keenly, so special offers like this are a good excuse to stock up, not just for immediate drinking, but also for laying down, provided you have space and can wait.

restrained citrus and stone fruit aromas with some florality; ripe yellow stone fruits, melon and zippy lime with sweet spices and creamy brazil nut

Thoroughly enjoyable and Good Value.

Can be aged for a few years.


Petaluma Chardonnay, 2020 (£16.00, Tesco)

Based in the cool-climate region of Adelaide Hills, Petaluma is one of the great names of Australian wine, producing Burgundian-style Chardonnays.

citrus, white flowers, stone fruits and complex oaky spice; fresh, elegant and poised with preserved lemons, melon fruit, pineapple pieces, sweet spices and zippy lime marmalade; broad complex and generous with saline minerality. Poised and precise.

Very Good.

Can be aged for many years.

Pernot-Belicard Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012 (£17, Cambridge Wine Merchants)

Philippe Pernot and his wife (from the Belicard side) launched their own domaine in 2009, with just six hectares of vines in Puligny. They pick quite early, all by hand, with hand sorting at the cellar.

This wine was a fire-sale bargain picked up by Cambridge Wine and sold at a discount to market price.

sandy yellow with roasted spices, stone fruits, florality, and evolved musty leather; savoury-creamy toasted brazil nut, almonds and macadamia with citrus, orchard fruits and stone fruits; complex, oaky, roasted spices; fresh, complex, broad and generous.

Very Good.

Fully mature, but will remain at a peak for several more years.

Friday, 6 May 2022

The CWB Inexpensive Italian White-Off

Two enjoyable and widely-available Italian whites from Lidl and The Co-op - plus a superior indie

Italy's red wines and bubbles gain most of the headlines, but the country also makes a wide range of very food-friendly whites.

While Chardonnay may be your first thought for a "food-white", Burgundy often carries a price premium and you can find elegant, fresh savoury whites from Italy at lower price points.

Here are three sophisticated and enjoyable Italian whites that will match with many foods - two from just outside Rome and a Soave from Italy's north west.

Campogrande Orvieto Classico, (£9, The Co-op)

Orvieto in Umbria, just north of Rome, is situated inland at around 300m above sea level, meaning plentiful sunshine with cool nights to extend the growing season and maintain freshness.

The main white grapes in Orvieto are Grechetto and Trebbiano; the first is considered a blending grape, the latter something of a workhorse.

But, just as the boy-next-door can turn into a matinee idol with a scrub and brush-up, so under-appreciated varieties can become enjoyable, inexpensive quaffers in the right hands.

This wine is made by the Antinori family, purveyors of some of Italy's most famous (and expensive) wines.

delicate white flowers and orchard fruit; crisp and fresh with apples-and-pears, ripe white peach and a touch of honeysuckle richness; full, supple and saline.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Match with mixed starters, creamy mushroom pasta or risotto.


2018 Botte de Conti Pecorino Terre di Chieti, (£5.75, Lidl) 

Pecorino is the grape here (not to be confused with the cheese of the same name) and Terre di Chieti is the region; it is in Abruzzo, just outside Rome.

citrus, apple, stone fruits and tropical fruit with some green herbs, minerality and a touch of spice. Very adept and well-made. Improves with some aeration.

Very pleasant and Very Good Value.

Drink as an aperitif in the garden or match with with seafood, soft cheeses, white fish or plain roast pork.

It also gets a recommendation from Helen McGinn on Saturday Kitchen as a match for carbonara.


Soave Gregoris, Antonio Fattori, Italy 2018 (£10.75, Private Cellar)

Costing only a few pounds more, but selected by Private Cellar's MW buyer, this is just a little bit better in every way.

Melon, lime and white stone fruits with orchard fruits, honeysuckle and pebbly minerality. Textured, elegant and precise.

Good.

Improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

A versatile food wine, drink as an aperitif, with light starters, creamy risottos or lean white met such as chicken or fish. It is also available in magnums for those "we're gonna need a bigger bottle" occasions.

Thursday, 5 May 2022

The CWB Tesco Argentinean Malbec-Off

Three Malbecs from Tesco

Once a major grape in Bordeaux, Malbec was relegated to an also-ran in the 1950s; it continues to grown along the Atlantic side of the country in the Loire and Cahors, but its spiritual home these days is across the Atlantic in Argentina.

A thick-skinned, heat-loving grape, Malbec produces dark, inky, intense wines wines with plummy flavours. It is perhaps the heir to Aussie Shiraz, a New World grape that makes Big Reds that can take a lot of oak.

Also like Aussie Shiraz, it is capable of deftness as well as heft; in the right hands, it is plummy but not blowsy, fruited and spicy but fresh and food-friendly

The Malbecs of Argentina are an historic clone brought over from France in the 19th century that is now considered extinct in its native country. Argentine Malbec is has a deep colour, intense fruit and a plush, velvety texture.

Malbec is one of the UK's more popular grapes and is a great match for grilled red meats, especially char-grilled bone-in steaks.

Here are three Argentinean Malbecs from Tesco, all with a bit of age.

My personal favourite here is the DV Catena for its European-style fresh fruit, lower alcohol and sophisticated oaking.

Also from Catena, the Tesco Finest is a little more expressive, so think barbecue more than dinner table. With a degree more alcohol, the Vinalba is a more concentrated, bigger, fuller wine that demands rich, gamey foods.

All these wines will benefit from an hour or so in the decanter and have further aging potential.


Tesco Finest The Trilogy Malbec, Mendoza, 2018 (£12)

Produced and bottled by Bodegas y Vinedos Catena, 

From the very beginning The Wines of Catena set out to discover the best places to plant vineyards in Mendoza, identifying the best microclimates for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Malbec.

In addition, new techniques of cluster thinning and harvest practices were implemented to further increase concentration. 

Located by the Andes Mountains in west Argentina, the province of Mendoza is renowned for housing some of the best winegrowing regions of Argentina. The character of Mendoza wines is forged in high altitude desert vineyards irrigated by mineral-rich snowmelt from glaciers and snowfields.

Altitudes range from 1,000 to 5,000 feet, where the foothills rise steeply toward the Andes' peaks. High altitude means cool temperatures, clear air and more sunlight which develops flavour.

Sourced from three exceptional high altitude vineyard sites in the Uco Valley, Lunlunta and Agrelo, which produce Malbec of perfect balance, concentration and elegance, this wine goes through an extensive cold maceration for 3 days to extract aromas.

The juice is then fermented for 10 days with further post-fermentation maceration of 24 days. The wine then sees French and American oak. Barrel selection varies depending on the vineyard - First, second and third use barrels are used

dark fruits and black olives with spice, dried green herbs and cocoa; supple and juicy with cassis, ripe bramble fruits, plush rounded tannins, pencil shavings and an inky texture; spicy, concentrated and long.

Good.

Drinks nicely on first opening and improves with some aeration and can be further cellared.

Great with grilled, roasted or barbecued meat.


DV Catena Tinto Historico Malbec, Mendoza, 2019 (£12)

Catena wines are a special assemblage of High Mountain Estate Vineyards made by fourth generation vintner, Laura Catena and chief winemaker, Alejandro Vigil.

Through decades of study and exploration within Mendoza's high altitude mountain terroirs, the Catena family has identified special locations for its Estate vineyards. From the marriage of these historic vineyards merges a wine of unique character that has natural balance, concentration and a distinct varietal identity. 

This wine is made from a blend of two vineyards harvested at different times. The Angelica vineyard which is at 920m elevation with alluvial soils and the El Cepillo Vineyard at 1090m elevation.

A blend of 95% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Bonarda made to honor Don Domingo's legendary abilities as a master blender.

Domingo Vicente Catena married Angélica Zapata in 1934, giving birth to the Catena Zapata tradition. With a singular sense of passion and dedication, he devoted his life to improving the cultivation of the vine in Mendoza.

Domingo Vicente Catena, Laura Catena's grandfather, thought that Malbec could made a wine as great as the best of France. Upon his death, his son Nicolás Catena decided to honour his father by making Malbec world-famous.

This wine is made using various techniques to help enhance the extract of aromas. It is fermented using wild yeasts to increase the complexity of the finished wine. It then spends 12 months in oak barrels.

red and black berry fruits, spice; ripe, juicy plum fruit with  complex spices and cocoa powder; plush, full and supple with savoury freshness; well-made and well-structured with good underpinnings.

Good.

Drinks nicely on first opening and improves with some aeration and can be further cellared.

Savoury, fresh and versatile match this with roast chicken or turkey as well as more obvious red meats.

It has 95 points from James Suckling.


Vinalba Gran Reservado Malbec, Mendoza, 2018  (£16)

The grapes are harvested in the first half of April by hand into small trays of 20kg to prevent damage and then meticulously sorted twice in order to select the best grapes for this wine.

Cold maceration takes for 5 days followed by fermentation in temperature controlled tanks at 28° with indigenous yeast and 4 pump overs per day and a period of 25 days of maceration. 

The wines are made by Bordeaux-born pioneer Hervé J. Fabre who was the first to make single varietal Argentine Malbec after recognising the true potential of the grape.

Viñalba offers a range of beautifully crafted wines, combining Argentina's purity of fruit and clear varietal expression with the elegance and complexity which are the hallmarks of Hervé's classical background. Mendoza has become one of the most dynamic wine producing regions in the world with an enviable array of grape varieties, many of which are planted at high altitudes.

The Gran Reservado Malbec is Fabre's flagship wine, hand-crafted by winemaker Hervé J Fabre to showcase the quality that Argentine Malbec can produce.

dark and inky with cassis, black cherries, black olives and complex spices; plush blackberry, blueberry and black cherry fruit with liquorice, cool mint and florality; full and supple with concentrated intensity.

Good.

Match with lamb or darker game, such as duck or venison.

Benefits from some aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Two Languedoc Whites from Foncalieu

Two vibrant and refreshing Languedoc whites from Foncalieu

Foncalieu make lovely, inexpensive wines in France's Languedoc with as much attention to detail to the presentation as there is in the winemaking.

These two wines are no exception.

I have tasted earlier vintages of the Iberian-grape-in-France, Albariño Sillages, and worked my way through the Versant range with the rosé (which I liked a lot) and a Pinot (which I thought was OK, but nothing special).

Before the wines themselves. first a bit of history from the company's website

Backstory

Les Vignobles Foncalieu are a union of cooperatives anchored in the heart of Languedoc.

Our territory stretches from the Corbières massif to the banks of the Mediterranean, from the Mistral- swept hillsides to the sun-caressed plains between Carcassonne and Béziers. It is in the heart of these landscapes, situated between ocean and mountains, that all our wine- growers tend to our 4,000 hectares of vines every day in order to offer

Foncalieu the high-quality grapes used to produce exceptional wines.

A cooperative with strong values since 1967, our 650 winegrowers cultivate team spirit, authenticity, innovation and a shared passion, all of which have led Foncalieu to be named as one of the 50 most well-known brands of wine in the world by the trade magazine Drinks International in 2017.

Les Vignobles Foncalieu stretch across 4,000 hectares between the Cité de Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This vast territory characterised by a mosaic of terroirs and denominations has enabled the development of a wide range of wines, most of which are labelled PDO and PGI of Languedoc.

The largest and oldest wine-making region in the world is also a land of culture, art and gastronomy, characterised by mild winters and hot summers. Its multitude of terroirs swept by the Tramontane and the sea wind stretches from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean, offering a wide palette of grape varieties from Carignan to Malbec, and Roussanne to Sauvignon.

The colour, nose and mouthfeel of a Languedoc vary considerably according to its terroir, the varieties used in the blend, the yields practised, the quality of the soil and the climate of the preceding year. By mastering our terroir and selecting plots that we believe extraordinary, we produce fine Languedoc wines, including the Atelier Prestige collection and the Château Haut-Gléon wines labelled PDO Corbières and PGI Vallée du Paradis owned by Foncalieu since 2012.

We owe our know-how to all these people, who, thanks to their attentiveness and human qualities, have been developing Foncalieu for more than 50 years and have demonstrated their wine-growing spirit. 

From generation to generation, our passion for the vine remains strong. Passing on this passion to the younger generations is at the heart of our concerns so that our wonderful territories endure. The strength of Vignobles Foncalieu lies in the combination of skills brought by all our wine-growers and the various French and international specialist centres.

And so, our teams of agronomists and oenologists work hand in hand with the wine-growers to unveil the potential of each terroir in order to express the immense diversity of wine-growing identities. Enhancing the best plots, mastering the wine cellar and orchestrating the most wonderful blend ensures a noble quality, from the vine to the glass.

This work, aided by cutting-edge technology, is first and foremost a matter of talent. Our many expressions have been rewarded by a host of medals and distinctions and also recognised by the greatest international wine tasters such as Robert Parker.


Foncalieu Pays d'Oc Extraordinaires Sillages Albariño 2021 (£8 - £10, indpendents)

pear drops, citrus, sea-spray and lemon curd; stone fruits, honeysuckle and beeswax with sweet spices and some southern warmth. Saline, mineral and elegant.

Drinks nicely on first pouring; will repay a few more months' bottle age.

Good.

Fresh enough for an aperitif, it will work with a range of starters, such as seafood, white fish and pork rillettes.

Foncalieu Pays d'Oc, Le Versant Sauvignon Bio 2021 (£11, Hennings)

herbaceous, aromatic with lime and kiwi with orchard fruits and exotic passionfruit; fresh and mineral with citrus, lemongrass, blackcurrant leaf and minerality.

Drinks nicely on first pouring; will repay a few more months' bottle age.

Good.

Match with grilled fish with lemon, sushi or asparagus gratin.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Two Spring Whites - Spain and South Africa

Two whites from South Africa's Kleine Zalze and Spain's CVNE

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2020
Maruxa Godello 2020

I've titled this two spring whites, but these two wines are so good, you could pretty much have them any time of the year.

They are spring wines in the sense of being a bit bigger, fuller and more complex than summer garden sippers without being the sort of full-on Big Reds of the winter months.

Both wines are really well made from good fruit with lots of savoury complexity and the sort of  underpinnings that will both match food and also allow them to age.

They are old school / old world in the sense of being more "palate" than "nose"; that said, they don't lack aromatics or fruit, it's just that there is also a sophisticated texture, breadth and generosity.

If you are having guests, either would serve well as a white with starters; or match with a main if it's white meat or grilled oily fish.

Godello is native to Spain and, although increasing in popularity, is still relatively uncommon, so don't be surprised if you've never had it before. Master of Wine Siobhan Turner characterises it as "nose of bay leaves, peaches, hint of lemon. Fresh bright acidity with touch of salinity on palate."

Chenin Blanc is the great grape of the Loire; with high natural acidity, it can make everything from fizz to long-lived botrytised dessert wines via fully dry and off-dry table wines. South Africa is its second home.

Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2020 (£15.10, Cambridge Wine Merchants, independents)

The grapes for this wine came from a couple of old Chenin Blanc vineyards around Stellenbosch. 

Careful canopy management ensured enough sunlight, but protected the grapes against direct sunlight.

The grapes were handpicked early in the morning and immediately crushed into holding tanks; extended skin contact extracted all the Chenin flavours to ensure good structure in the final wine.

Only the free run juice was used and settled for 1 day before inoculation with selected yeast strains. The juice was racked into barrels for fermentation.

No new barrels were used to ensure that unique characters of the specific terroirs were preserved in the wine. After fermentation the wine was aged on the primary lees for another 6 months before being racked out and prepared for bottling.

Vintage conditions allowed for good even ripening, with natural balance and healthy acidity. 

baked yellow stone fruits, citrus, honeysuckle, beeswax, orange peel and sweet spices with marzipan and brazil nut; fresh and generous with ripe peach, pineapple and mang, with creamy leesy-brazil-nut complexity; long and savoury with very good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening; improves with some aeration and can be cellared for up to ten years.

Very Good.

Match with roasted white meats, grilled seafood or tarte flambée.


Maruxa Godello 2020 (£14.75, Majestic)

Maruxa Godello is made by Virgen del Galir in Valdeorras in Spain's north west Galicia region..

Virgen del Galir is a Galician project that has been owned by CVNE since 2018, and has a focus on recovering very special micro-plots on the edge of the Camino de Santiago, specifically in the town of éntoma, in Valdeorras.

They produce fresh and very mineral wines with character. Maruxa Godello comes from a vineyard with clay loam soils with some slate and other minerals. These vines lie on slopes more than 600 metres above sea level and enjoy a continental climate with a strong Atlantic influence.

When the grapes reach optimum ripeness, they are manually harvested in 15 kg boxes. In the winery, the Maruxa Godello grapes are cooled to avoid oxidation. They are gently pressed and the resulting must begins alcoholic fermentation with native yeasts at a controlled temperature. Finally, the wine ages for 4 months on fine lees in stainless steel tanks.

Maruxa Godello is named after the mother of the winery’s founder and is a tribute to an exceptional place. This wine is faithful to the Valdeorras tradition where the native Godello variety is silky, elegant and very lively. 

CVNE, one of the biggest names in Rioja, have branched out to Valdeorras in Galicia where they pick grapes from steep terraced vineyards where the altitude encourages acidity in Godello grapes. This brings plenty of refreshing character to the wine. Expect citrus and floral aromas, with a complex, mineral finish. 

white flowers, orchard fruits, citrus, white pepper and honeysuckle; fresh and complex with ripe tropical citrus and yellow stone fruits with creamy, savoury brazil nut ands hints of aniseed, marzipan and Mediterranean herbs. Broad, harmonious and savoury with good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening; improves with some aeration and can be cellared.

Very Good.

Match with scallops or roasted pork belly.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

How to Develop and Launch a Drink Brand

'How to develop and launch a drink brand’, the new book by Food and Beverage expert Richard Horwell is published on 21st March. 

The book is a definitive guide to launching a drink in the UK; a step-by-step guide covering everything from the idea to getting on the shelf in retailers. It will show you all the pitfalls and all the shortcuts. 

Since the pandemic there has been a huge increase in interest in food and drink, even the most unlikely brands have received considerable inward investment! Employees working from home and lining up at the supermarket have realised this is the industry they want to be in.

Our awareness and interest in health and wellness has grown and so has the Wellness and Functional Drinks sector. All this has led to a flood of new drink brands hoping to launch into this market, and swathe of entrepreneurs deciding this is the business they want to focus on. In short, it seems everyone wants to know how to create and launch a drink brand.

‘How to develop and launch a drink brand’ is there to answer the most common questions and help budding drink entrepreneurs get off on the right foot.

Drawing on over 30 years’ experience in the industry and having been behind the launch of over 130 brands, Richard Horwell shares his insights into the industry and what aspiring entrepreneurs need to know before they start spending any money on creating a new drink brand.

The book covers:

- Market Research
- Recipe Development
- Branding
- Packaging and Production
- Marketing to Buyers
- Export.

If you are thinking of getting into the Food & Drink Industry, you need to read this book.

It all seems so simple when you see drinks on the shelf or the ‘rise to fame’ of brands such as Red Bull. But it isn’t. Successful brands have years of hard work behind them before they appear on your radar and behind this there has been a lot of money and heartache. This book is the inside guide to what you need to do and know, if you are to have any chance of success in this very competitive world.

“I have been in FMCG for most of my life, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East, I have had successful brands of my own that have sold, and also seen the downfall, of many great brands. I wrote this book to help budding entrepreneurs understand the journey they are about to embark on; knowledge is power, and the advice here will give you the best chance of success.” said the book’s author Richard Horwell.

Case Study: Launching a Canned Wine Brand and The Copper Crew

There has been a boom in canned wines, say Richard, with convenience being the driving factor.

But for a start-up there are a lot of issues you need to consider. Firstly you will be competing against big players with well-known brand names and very deep pockets. Secondly, to sell alcohol in the UK you need to be AWRS registered with HMRC and they don’t take this lightly, they look for well-funded businesses that have the infrastructure to be successful. Ultimately, it all comes down to money, so you need a lot more of it to launch a canned wine than you would in most other categories 

My feeling is that the trend will be flavoured wines. More flavoured wines will start to appear in cans as adaptations of Aperol Spritz or Kir Royal. There will also be more wine-based ready to drink cocktails in a can rather than just an unknown wine in a can.


The Copper Crew first launched their business in early 2020 - just as the country went into lockdown. 

A management consultant, academic and winemaker team, they had originally planned to build a word-of-mouth buzz and generate sales from attending outdoor events, such as concerts and festivals.

Forced to switch to an online-only model, they won awards and gained positive reviews from Jancis Robinson, Joe Wadsack and Ruth Spivey.

Their range was launched with a a white and rosé initially with the strapline: Not for the cellar. For everywhere else. A red and a special edition Sauvignon Blanc then followed to round out the offering.

Founder Oli says:

There is good growth in this sector but it is coming from a low base. The most explosive growth within drinks is found in RTDs in the UK; hard Seltzers are over-hyped and there has been significant stock shedding from big producers. However, the growth still remains rapid.

A lot of thinking in this space from conversations I've had with producers is you've got to just get out there and gain market share then worry about making money.

Convenience is a significant factor in the growth behind canned wine, but we've found the number 1 driver to be portion control. Therefore, canned wine has a perhaps unexpected resonance with older age demographics (50-80). Many of these consumers are actually more opened minded than people (younger age demographics) just getting into wine.

On a practical front, there many, many issues we faced as a start-up in this space and the biggest has been cashflow. In our business it's a tricky balance and is often the critical thing is simply keeping the lights on.

I think any book on setting up a drinks business must go through the fundamentals of accounting for duty and invoice financing

Book details

The book is available from Amazon and all good bookshops, plus direct from the Brand Relations website www.brandrelations.co.uk

The Author

Richard Horwell is the owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London.

Over the last 14 years, Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of over 130 brands in the UK. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in the Food and Beverage sector. He has over 30 years’ experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East.
// 

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Three Wines from Abbotts & Delaunay

Three wines from French producer Badet Clément

It's a pretty safe bet that anything by Badet Clément will be well-made and enjoyable.

The website explains:

Badet Clément is the story of two winemakers, passionate about the diversity of wines and vineyards, possessed by a love for the earth and a penchant for well-executed work… 

With our feet rooted in tradition, and our hands reaching out to innovation, our company has participated in the revival of wines from Burgundy, the Languedoc, and the Rhône Valley for over 20 years now.

By staying on top of market needs and being attentive to our environment, we consider our cuvées as moments of pleasure for those who taste them. The harmony between the wine, the context, and the people who share in its enjoyment represents our vision of the perfect accord.

With increasingly demanding expectations and requirements, Badet Clément offers wines whose unique character tells the story of their terroirs and the open-mindedness of the professionals who conceive of them, each in its own way.

Keeping an open mind always, means maintaining an unrestricted and creative outlook, interconnecting points of view and ideas, encountering different terroirs and allowing for the expression of different grape varieties.

It is also the starting point for stimulating discussion, lasting partnerships, and innovation. Respectful of the know-how that has been passed on to us and supported by the richness and diversity of our vineyards, it is with integrity and altruism that we instil open-mindedness into each stage of the evolution of wine.

From our corporate culture to the first sip from the glass, our motto is OPEN WINEDED

The two Abbotts & Delaunay wines are both new and will be in-store from Easter 2022 at Majestic 

Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Chardonnay 2020 (£9.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

A new wine from Abbotts & Delaunay, which will be landing in Majestic just before Easter and well in time for International Chardonnay Day coming up in May.

Made from a blend of grapes coming from four different regions in the Languedoc; Limoux, the Aude Valley, the Hérault plain and the slopes of the Cévennes mountains to create a wine which is fresh, balanced and complex. 

white flowers, tropical citrus, honeysuckle and sweet spices; melon, pineapple and yellow stone fruit with pear, green apple, some toasty spice with buttery hazelnut; fresh, savoury and long .

Good.

Drinks nicely on first pouring; improves with aeration. Will gain complexity with some cellaring.

A versatile food wine, match salmon fishcakes, pork or chicken dishes or a mild curry, such as chicken Makhani.


La Belle Angèle Pinot Noir 2020, Vin de France (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

From the Languedoc in the South of France; the grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils in the plains of the Hérault not far from the sea, between Beziers and Valras-Plage and also from the Minervois.

Subtle and soft, this wine’s juicy flavours of Morello cherry and strawberry mingle with herbs and spices from the region’s Garrigue vegetation.

La Belle Angèle was a famous muse for many of the French Impressionist painters in the Belle Epoque renowned for her beauty and joie de vivre.

red and black cherry fruit, spice and a supple texture; textbook warmer-climate Pinot; fresh, well-made and harmonious

Thoroughly enjoyable

A versatile wine, drink lightly chilled on its own or match with salamis, pates or herby pork rillettes.


Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Malbec 2020 (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

30 year old vines grown on the slopes of the Orb Valley in the Hérault, vineyards in the west of the Aude and in the dry salt marsh in Marseillette, each bringing different characteristics to the wine.

Thanks to the work in the vineyards that respect the soils and the vines, healthy, concentrated grapes can be harvested whilst respecting the wild flowers (Fleurs Sauvages) and other wild life that surrounds them.

plummy dark berry fruit and spice; fresh and supple with inky graphite; violets, liquorice, red and black fruits with spicy notes; well-structured and elegant with a persistent finish. Opens up with some aeration and can be cellared.

Good.

Match with charcuterie or rare red meats

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Food and Wine Matching with Kindling Restaurant - Slow Roast Shoulder Of Mutton With Carrot, Tomatoes And Red Wine

A lamb recipe from Kindling Restaurant, Brighton - with some classic wine matches

Kindling Restaurant in Brighton is about more than just the delicious food, it is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Nature writes the menu as the seasons inspire the dishes. Kindling is featured in the Michelin Guide and is a member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KindlingBrighton @KindlingBrighton
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kindlingrestaurant/ @KindlingRestaurant

The Food - slow roast shoulder of mutton with carrot, tomatoes and red wine

Perfect for Easter or a Mother’s Day gathering, why not try Kindling Restaurant’s slow roast mutton shoulder as a centre piece for your table. A classic combination of seasonal flavours from Chef Toby Geneen’s childhood, this dish is rich, comforting and perfect for a family celebration.

Kindling’s ethos centres around seasonal produce and ethical farming. Here, the traditional spring lamb is replaced with a piece of regeneratively farmed mutton. Regenerative agriculture is a farming system that aims to restore and improve the countryside. When it comes to sheep this means rotating their grazing and uses practices such as planting herbs into the fields to enhance the health of the herd. This has the added benefit of enhancing the flavour.

Mutton is typically four to six years old. Being a matured meat, it has had plenty of time outside allowing it to develop a generous fat content and deep gamey flavour that just isn’t present in the younger lamb.

At the restaurant the mutton is sourced directly from a local farm, Saddlescombe, located on the Sussex downs. To source high quality mutton, speak to your local butcher or farm shop.

Chef Toby Geneen: credit Jo Hunt
The Wines

Roast lamb and Big Red is a classic match; ripe-yet-fresh wines will have the body and acidity to stand up to the richness of lamb.

All these wines will benefit from a couple of hours in the decanter before serving.

Torres Altos Ibéricos Rioja Crianza (£11.99, Waitrose)

red and bramble fruits with complex oaky spices; dark cherries, black raspberries and ripe red plum with leather and earthy tobacco; fresh, substantial and intense with firm but fine tannins.

Chateau La Raze Beauvallet Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2016 (£14.99, Virgin Wines)

A medal-winning Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux from the Medoc; outstanding 2016 vintage and has some bottle age that will match well with the gaminess of the mutton.

bramble fruit, blackcurrant leaf and earthy, toasty cigar-box with some evolved, leathery complexity; dark berries, plum fruit, dried green herbs and toasty spice; complex and savoury; fresh, supple and elegant with very fine, perfectly-ripe tannins.

Wynns The Siding Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019, Coonawarra (£15, Tesco)

ripe dark berries and bramble fruits, oaky spice and some florality; supple cassis, baked blueberry and black olives with minty green herbs and liquorice; ripe, rounded and very well-integrated tannins; savoury, fresh and elegant.










The Recipe

Ingredients:

1 whole mutton shoulder, on the bone (1.8 - 2kg)
5 echalion shallots, halved and peeled
10 ripe plum tomatoes, halved with the white core removed
5 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, divided into cloves, but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
1 bunch of thyme, tied
3 sticks of rosemary, tied
3 bay leaf
500 ml red wine
500 ml chicken stock

Method:

Preheat your oven to 130C.

Mix all the vegetables together in a roasting tray with a little salt and olive oil. Spread them out into a bed for the shoulder. Tuck the herb bundles underneath the meat and pour your wine and chicken stock over the vegetable bed. Slow roast for 4 hours uncovered, topping up the liquid with a little water if the stew becomes too dry.

Remove the tray from the oven and put meat to one side to rest, ideally with a clean tea towel on top to prevent it from cooling too much. Remove herb bundles from the sauce by giving them a little shake.

Carefully pour or spoon the sauce into another pan, then simmer for 10 - 15 mins until thickened. Season with some salt if it needs it, then arrange in your serving dish and top with the mutton, carved or pulled apart. Serve with mash potato and seasonal greens.

***

Here is WineMatcher Fiona Beckett's recommendations for lamb-and-wine matching:

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Two Malbecs for #MalbecWorldDay

Two Malbecs - Languedoc (Abbotts & Delaunay) and Argentina (Argento)

France is Languedoc's original home and Argentina its new home; a heat-loving grape, it was once grown in over 30 departements, but is now mainly associated with the South Western Cahors region.

That said, it appears pretty much all the way down the Atlantic seaboard from the Loire to Languedoc via Bordeaux, where it was once a major grape, but has since been replaced by the more reliable Merlot.

It was introduced to Argentina in the late 1800s, possibly as a clone that is now extinct in France. Given the Andes rise very gradually, it can be grown at very high altitude, allowing for long slow ripening with plenty of sunlight for flavour and cool nights to preserve freshness.

Malbec's appeal is easy to understand; Big Fruit with plentiful colour and an inky texture. World Malbec Day is on 17th April

Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Malbec 2020 (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

30 year old vines grown on the slopes of the Orb Valley in the Hérault, vineyards in the west of the Aude and in the dry salt marsh in Marseillette, each bringing different characteristics to the wine. 

Thanks to the work in the vineyards that respect the soils and the vines, healthy, concentrated grapes can be harvested whilst respecting the wild flowers (Fleurs Sauvages) and other wild life that surrounds them.

plummy dark berry fruit and spice; fresh and supple with inky graphite; violets, liquorice, red and black fruits with spicy notes; well-structured and elegant with a persistent finish.

Opens up with some aeration and can be cellared.

Good.

Match with charcuterie or rare red meats.

Argento Single Vineyard Altamira Organic Malbec (£13.99, www.allaboutwine.com)

Single-vineyard wine from Altamira in Mendoza's Uco Valley; 100% Malbec grown at almost 1,100m above sea level; the 22.5-hectare plot is certified both organic and Fairtrade.

dark fruits, blackcurrant pastilles and complex oaky spices with leather and mushrooms; supple, dense and inky with cassis, dark berries, black olives, graphite and mouth-watering freshness; savoury with very good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first pouring but improves with aeration and can be cellared.

Very Good.

Match with jamon or rare roast beef or tuna steak

Further reviews


Sunday, 10 April 2022

Three California Wines for International Women's Day

Three iconic wines produced by some of California’s leading female winemakers, all part of the EJ Gallo family

The wine world has had something of a #MeToo phase with the CMS sexual harassment scandal. Joe Fattorini's crude, hateful and sexist #winebitch writings and a recent article by Helena Nicklin highlighting her experience of sexism in the industry.

So now we know the negative to eliminate, here is the positive to accentuate.

You don't have to wait for International Women's Day to try these three wines; any time is fine. There's a traditional method sparkling wine from Nicole Hitchcock’s J Vineyards & Winery, cool-climate Talbott Vineyard Chardonnay made by oenologist Ayca Revez, and world famous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Jenn Barak of Louis M. Martini.

This being California, the wines are a little fuller, riper and , yes, pricier that European equivalents. They all drink nicely on first pouring, improve with aeration (if you rate complexity over primary fruit) and can be cellared for a couple of years for secondary aromas to develop.

From oenologists to vineyard managers, California's E.& J. Gallo Winery is devoted to championing the women who have pioneered to make wine more innovative and inclusive.

If you want to support female voices in wine at all levels and across all geographies, here is a very personal list of some amazing women to listen to:


J Vineyards California Cuvée NV By Nicole Hitchcock, Head Winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery (£23 from Tesco)


Nicole joined E. & J. Gallo Winery as a winemaker in 2004 and is now head winemaker for J Vineyards and Winery, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking from vineyard to bottle to produce some of the finest cool climate and traditional method sparkling wines from California and the Russian River Valley.

Her wines are widely recognised by some of the wine world’s top writers and judging panels.

vibrant with tart pineapple and orange blossom; lively and rich with orchard fruits, honeysuckle, fresh mandarin peel and marzipan with leesy-creamy brioche and a zesty, focused finish.

Good.

Serve as an aperitif or match hors d'oeuvres, such as goat’s cheese tartlets .

Talbott 'Kali Hart' Chardonnay 2019, Santa Lucia Highlands By Ayca Revaz, Oenologist at Talbott Vineyards (£24.99 or £19.99 as a mix of 6 from Majestic)


Ayca fell in love with winemaking while working as an intern in Cappadocia, a wine producing region two hours from where she grew up in Turkey. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Engineering from the Middle East Technical University, and subsequently UC Davis Viticulture and Oenology Master’s program, Ayca seized the “opportunity of a lifetime” to work at Talbott Vineyards, making cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Today, she works closely with Talbott head winemaker David Coventry, creating barrel selections and monitoring the vines. For Talbott Vineyards’ Kali Hart Chardonnay fruit is sourced from the idyllic Santa Lucia Highlands in Central Coast. With a long, cool growing season, the grapes develop character, intensity and depth for which the vineyard has become famous, conditions that facilitate Chardonnay to express wonderfully bright acidity and fresh, concentrated flavours, that other regions struggle to emulate.

ripe stone fruit, juicy tropical notes with vanilla and butterscotch; complex, savoury and full bodied, yet crisp and refreshing.

Very Good.

A versatile food wine, match with pork, chicken or creamy mushroom dishes.

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Napa Valley by Jenn Barak, Winemaking Assistant at Louis M.Martini (£35.99 or £31.99 as a mix of 6 from Majestic)


Barak found a passion for winemaking and the beautiful Sonoma County early. Jenn holds a BS in Oenology and MS in Viticulture and Oenology, focusing on tannin chemistry, from Fresno State. After completing school and internships she landed at E & J Gallo Winery; where she started as the associate winemaker focusing on Bordeaux varietals at Frei Brother’s Winery.

Today she is the Winemaking Assistant at Louis M. Martini, the home of iconic Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes for Louis M. Martini Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 were selected from several premium Napa vineyards, including Cypress Ranch Vineyard, Sun Lake, William Hill and Sage Canyon, allowing Louis M. Martini to craft a complex Cabernet Sauvignon in a beautifully balanced blend.


black cherry blackberry and plum with cedar and spice; black olives and liquorice with an inky texture and plush, rounded tannins.

Very Good.

Match with red meats, such as pan-fried duck breast.