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Italian Wine Aims to Up Its Game in the United States (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 19, 2018 - 2:35pm
At Vinitaly, the country’s trade agency announces plans for a $25 million marketing push

Unfiltered: 2,000-Year-Old Cannabis Wine Discovered; Lost Body of Samuel Taylor Coleridge Found … in Wine Cellar (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 19, 2018 - 12:00pm
Plus, we got a sneak preview of the new Somm movie from its director, and the d'Arenberg Cube goes extra surreal

Best rosé wines for summer

Decanter Magazine - April 19, 2018 - 3:04am

Make the most of the summer sunshine with one of these top rosés, tasted by our experts. Whether you're at a barbecue, heading to the beach or relaxing in the garden - do it with a cool glass of refreshing rosé in hand...

Enjoy a rosé this summer.

Summer is the season for chilled rosé, to be enjoyed during the heat of the day, or on into the balmy nights. From clear pink quartz to glassy topaz, rosé is as beautiful as it is palatable.

  • Scroll down for top rosé wines

These rosés were have been selected by those tasted by Decanter experts, and come from a variety of regions – from Rioja to the Loire, Provence to Portugal.

Rosé wine sales have developed from the bottom up, gaining momentum due to its uncomplicated style and pretty colour. The growth in premium rosé is changing this category, as more complex wines appear.

The best wines tend to show a complex range of fruit characters (strawberry, redcurrant, cherry, peach, rhubarb, pomegranate and floral notes), fresh crunchy, zesty or leafy acidity, and hints of orange peel, garrigue, herbs or a savoury note. Fruit intensity rather than neutrality is also important.

Colour has little correlation with quality, contrary to some popular opinion, and instead more closely colour reflects variety and origin.

At a previous Decanter tasting, some rosés were almost water-white in colour, with little fruit character, suggesting that more effort had gone into appearance than taste.

Price gives a vague indication of quality, with only one of the top 10 wines under £15. But it’s not a guarantee. Best advice: know a good wine merchant.

More ideas for summer wines: Best rosé wines: Our top picks


The post Best rosé wines for summer appeared first on Decanter.

Anson: Tasting note dilemmas

Decanter Magazine - April 19, 2018 - 1:14am

Jane Anson considers the mechanics of putting together a tasting note, and what factors she believes are worth considering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about wine notes recently. Bear in mind that this is the period when I am writing up Bordeaux en primeur wine notes, across Left and Right Banks, plus Sauternes – this year for Decanter Premium – and you can start to see why I might be eating, sleeping and dreaming tasting notes.

As I often find, whether researching for a book or writing up vertical tasting reports, one of the tough things is deciding how much technical information to include.

A tasting note about a finished, bottled wine needs to give an accurate reflection of what someone will find when they pull the cork.

En primeur notes are a different kind of challenge, because here it is not so much about what the wine tastes like today, but what it will become.

That means trying to pick apart the different elements of a young wine that is not even bottled yet, to see if it has the necessary quantity, quality and balance to develop over time, and for how long.

You want to suggest when a wine might be ready to drink, and why.

How to write your own tasting notes – A guide by Andrew Jefford

In both cases, I tend to think that giving a certain amount of technical information is helpful. But not everyone agrees.

Even alcohol is considered unimportant for most American wine reviewers. I had a discussion with a prominent American wine writer about this recently, and he was very clear that his readers were not interested in alcohol levels and didn’t find them helpful to record in his notes.

In fact he believed that it could be extremely unhelpful, because alcohol is perceived differently according to grapes, regions and styles of wine and/or producer – or even, for different tasters, according to the time of day or what food they pair with it.

I can see his point. There are always wines that remind you that you know nothing. Ausone from St-Emilion is one, with its 100% new oak that melts away into its perfect balance. And there’s Pingus from Ribera del Duero, into which 15% alcohol somehow disappears without a trace.

But I still believe that to make an informed judgement on whether to buy a wine, and to anticipate what you are going to find in the bottle, there are certain facts that are helpful. And all those variables mentioned by my American colleague are exactly why providing readers with some technical information is helpful.

We can’t second-guess how people are interpreting our notes, so it is surely useful to give them the tools with which to read and use a review as they need.

A 15% wine enjoyed with supper at home, for example, is a very different proposition to that same wine at a lunch table when you have a meeting immediately afterwards, never mind how perfectly in balance it is. Our role is to do our best to help buyers make informed choices, so in my opinion these things matter.

If a wine is given a rich vanilla flavour though the addition of oak chips rather than barrel ageing, it might not affect enjoyment in the short term, but it will mean its ageing ability is impaired.

And if a wine is brought to balance through manipulation in the cellar (it’s not unheard of to add sugar to increase alcohol and then tartaric acid to freshen things up), it will rarely age as well as one that reached that natural balance in the vineyard.

Not all technical information is useful, and we might not get it right every time. But thinking about these things forces us to look deeper at a wine and its building blocks – and that seems fair not only to the reader, but also to the winemaker who has spent his year working towards its being in bottle.

This column was originally published in Decanter magazine in 2017 and has been updated for Decanter.com.  

Jane Anson’s ratings and tasting notes for hundreds of Bordeaux 2017 en primeur wines will be published online exclusively for Decanter Premium members next week 

How to join Decanter Premium

The post Anson: Tasting note dilemmas appeared first on Decanter.

Iconic Napa Valley Winery Heitz Cellars Sold (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 18, 2018 - 3:00pm
The historic brand was purchased by Gaylon Lawrence Jr., whose family owns farmland in multiple states

Petrus to launch counter-appeal against name ruling

Decanter Magazine - April 18, 2018 - 7:16am

Château Petrus has confirmed that it will file a counter-appeal against a court ruling allowing a Côtes de Bordeaux wine to carry the name Petrus on its label.

Few wines can match the acclaim, and auction prices, achieved by Pomerol's Château Petrus.

The comments by Château Petrus came days after news that CGM Vins had successfully argued for a court to overturn a previous judgement preventing sales of its wine, Petrus Lambertini No 2.

Meanwhile, a wine and intellectual property lawyer, Jean-Baptiste Thial de Bordenave, described the latest court ruling as ‘legalising parasitism’ and warned that it could bode ill for the Bordeaux region.

Château Petrus said that the case against CGM was about the risk of consumers being misled.

‘A procedure was launched in 2011 against CGM because a seller on the internet was trying to sell one of the bottles marketed by this company, pretending it was our second wine,’ Petrus said in an emailed statement. The Pomerol-based Château added that a separate civil case about the use of its name was also underway.

CGM Vins director Stéphane Coureau said in an email that its official trademark, ‘Coureau & Coureau Petrus Lambertini Major Burdegalensis 1208′, has been legally registered since its creation and that he was currently marketing the 2015 vintage.

He did not provide current volume or value figures, but CGM’s website says that it made 20,000 bottles of Petrus Lambertini No. 2 and 12,000 bottles of Petrus Lambertini from the 2011 vintage.

Coureau said the wine was named after the first mayor of Bordeaux – Pierre Lambert, or in Latin, Petrus Lambertini.

‘Lambertini defended the city of Bordeaux against the King of Spain in 1208. For his heroism he was congratulated by the King of England, John Lackland. Our wine, is a piece of the story of Bordeaux and also of the history of England.’

He also said the wines’ background stories are different and suggested that consumers would understand the historical difference. ‘One speaks of the first Mayor of Bordeaux and the other of the first Pope of Catholics. There is no risk of confusion for the average consumer [as] the [appeal] court has fully recognised.’

However, while CGM’s winning appeal judgement argued there are enough differences between the Petrus and Petrus Lambertini labels to avoid confusion, lawyer Thial de Bordenave said that this was only part of the problem.

‘Even if there is no risk of confusion, there is a risk of association for the consumer,’ said Thial de Bordenave, who was not personally involved in the case. ‘They might not think it is Petrus, but they might think it is the second or third wine.’

A six-litre ‘imperial’ bottle of Petrus sold for £45,410 at a Sotheby’s wine auction in London in March 2018.

Just published exclusively on Premium:

Jane Anson’s first impressions of Bordeaux 2017

The post Petrus to launch counter-appeal against name ruling appeared first on Decanter.

What are tannins? – ask Decanter

Decanter Magazine - April 18, 2018 - 6:55am

What are tasters referring to when they assess tannins? And why are they important?

What are tannins in wine?What are tannins? – ask Decanter

Tannins are a group of compounds found naturally in grape skins. They can also be found in black tea and traces in some berries.

They contribute importantly to the structure and ageing potential of red wines.

‘They may be flavourless and odourless, but tannins are one of the key constituents in red wine,’ said Matt Walls, regional chair for the Rhône at the DWWA.

‘In grapes, these compounds are found primarily in the skins, seeds and stems, so they tend to be more prevalent in reds.’

See also: Tasting notes decoded Structure and texture

‘Tannins are responsible for providing red wine with most of its texture and physical impact in the mouth – more specifically, they produce feelings of astringency and bitterness, which can be pleasing in small amounts,’ said Walls.

‘Over time, tannins can change in the way they feel, often becoming softer and less astringent – this is one of the key reasons wines we age certain types of wines before drinking them.’

When tasting wine, you will often feel the presence of tannins on the gums of your teeth.

See also: What is the tannin scale? – ask Decanter Tasting en primeur

Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent Jane Anson notes that when tasting wines en primeur, you are looking for ‘the amount of tannin in the wine, for structure’, alongside other elements such as acidity and fruit – which will indicate the quality and ageing potential of a wine.

When tasting young wines en primeur, the tannins will feel quite harsh and prominent, as they have not had time to age and soften over time.

See more wine questions here

The post What are tannins? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

Mas de Daumas Gassac red wines: Recent vintages tasted

Decanter Magazine - April 18, 2018 - 6:04am

See fresh tasting notes and ratings on the flagship red wine of this Languedoc 'grand cru' from 2010 to 2016, plus a barrel sample of the 2017 vintage, written by Andrew Jefford and available exclusively to Premium members.

A view across Mas de Daumas Gassac vineyards.

Tasting notes below by Andrew Jefford. Introduction by Chris Mercer.

Mas de Daumas Gassac has achieved acclaim around the world for its red wine, an intricate blend of grape varieties from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Pinot Noir.

It is produced on relatively high ground in the hinterland of Languedoc-Roussillon, on sloping vineyards between Aniane and St-Guilhem Le Désert, the medieval village that lies in the steep gorge of the Hérault river and is recognised as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Founded by the late Aimé Guibert in 1971, with his wife Véronique, Daumas Gassac has spent decades in the vanguard of a movement towards quality in a French region traditionally more associated with cheap table wines.

Scroll down to see Andrew Jefford’s new tasting notes for Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge



The post Mas de Daumas Gassac red wines: Recent vintages tasted appeared first on Decanter.

Best wines for a barbecue

Decanter Magazine - April 18, 2018 - 4:00am

They can match a multitude of foods, are easy to find, in-expensive, can be chilled yet with enough punch to push through any food that has been above the coals for a length of time. Decanter.com looks at the best wines for a summer barbecue.

Summer is a time to take to the coals, when the sun is shining and the weather is sweet.

Friends and family gather al fresco bringing an array of salads, sides and condiments to accompany the classic, yet varied, barbecue choices.

Scroll down for wine recommendations

Wine plays a central and important part in rounding off the perfect barbecue, but are all too often served incorrectly or with completely the wrong food – you should count yourself lucky if you have escaped holding a plate with a burnt item resembling meat holding a plastic cup of warm Chardonnay.

What are classic barbecue (BBQ) wine pairings?

Here are some of the top matches for classic barbecue dishes. For ease of use, we’ve overlooked the uses of marinades and sauces.

All-rounder wines

Of course it would be simply impractical to purchase so many different types of wine.

There are some good all-rounders that tick many of the boxes needed for a great barbecue; it can match a multitude of foods, it’s easy to find, in-expensive, can be chilled yet with enough punch to push through any food that has been above the white hot coals for a length of time.

These include:

Top tips for serving

If it’s above 20°C, 68°F, outside chill your red wines. Red wines are best at “room temperature” which is between 13-18°C, 55-65°F. Find some recommendations here.

A cooler red offset against piping hot, flamed meat, is the only way to serve wine at a barbecue. And avoid plastic cups if possible.

Great BBQ wines from Decanter


First published in August 2016. Wines have been updated in April 2018. 

The post Best wines for a barbecue appeared first on Decanter.

Oregon Winery Owners Fund New Wine Studies Program for Willamette College (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 17, 2018 - 12:45pm
Domaine Serene owners Grace and Ken Evenstad give a $6 million gift to establish the Center for Wine Education at Linfield College

Wine Talk: Andrea and Alberto Bocelli's Tuscan Duet (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 17, 2018 - 11:00am
The superstar tenor and his brother are revitalizing their family's centuries-old estate in Italy

Pouring Stars: A Decorated French Somm Lands in Basque Country (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 17, 2018 - 8:30am
A Burgundian sommelier puts down deep roots in Spain

Vinitaly Brings Italy's Wine Superstars to Verona (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 16, 2018 - 2:45pm
The OperaWine tasting kicked off the all-star trade show by showcasing wines from 107 top producers

The Wine Police Don’t Have Enough Work To Do

Fermentation Blog - April 16, 2018 - 1:53pm

It’s 8:00am in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. Like any good winery owner there, you are up, poised and set to receive Internet orders for your wine. Right then, an order from Flagstaff, Arizona comes in. They want Chardonnay; your award-winning Chardonnay. Your online system gratefully accepts the order, runs the credit card, accepts payment and BOOM…By 8:03 you are flush with your first sale of the day. You’ve also broken the law. This, according to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who...

The post The Wine Police Don’t Have Enough Work To Do appeared first on Fermentation.

Automatic Weapons, Wine and Cannabis

Fermentation Blog - April 16, 2018 - 10:44am

In a recent post about how cannabis sales will hurt wine sales, one commenter noted that at least “there is no three-tier distribution system for weed.” Well, there actually is a three-tier distribution system for cannabis in California, with some small exceptions for the smallest producers. Putting in place a three-tier distribution system (producer to distributor to dispensary) was the price to get law enforcement on board. This, of course, will eventually have to change otherwise the smallest cannabis farmers will...

The post Automatic Weapons, Wine and Cannabis appeared first on Fermentation.

Soave wine pioneer Leonildo ‘Nino’ Pieropan dies

Decanter Magazine - April 16, 2018 - 8:55am

Tributes have been paid to Leonildo 'Nino' Pieropan, a pioneer of Soave wine quality in Italy and widely respected winemaker, who has died aged 71.

All of Pieropan's 46ha of vineyards were certified organic in 2015

Leonildo Pieropan, known simply as Nino Pieropan, died on 13 April at home and surrounded by his family, according to UK importer Liberty Wines.

He will be remembered as a standard-bearer for wine quality in Italy’s Soave region, and in particular for championing recognition of single vineyard ‘cru’ sites, as well as for the ageing potential of the area’s white wines.

‘What would the Soave be if he had never existed?,’ asked Giancarolo Gariglio in an article for Slow Wine in Italy. ‘It would be a poorer denomination,’ he concluded, describing Pieropan as a ‘monument’ in Italian wine.

David Gleave, managing director of the Liberty Wines merchant in the UK, also paid tribute to Pieropan, who graduated in 1966 from the oenological school in Conegliano and began running his family’s estate a year later.

‘A walk through the vineyards with Nino was always educational, as he would explain in detail why the vines were trained the way they were and why he picked when he did,’ said Gleave in an obituary published on his merchant’s website.

‘His first bold experiment was to bottle the 1971 vintage from the Calvarino vineyard (purchased by his grandfather in 1901) as a single vineyard Soave Classico. This was at a time when most Soave was being sold was in two litre bottles, primarily to the North American market.’

Pieropan’s Calvarino remains a highly sought-after wine.

‘Urged by the great Luigi Veronelli to take the high road of quality, Nino started to prove, with that wine, that the best wines of Soave could age beautifully and could, in the right hands, be considered among Italy’s finest white wines,’ said Gleave.

In an article on Soave published in Decanter magazine’s May 2018 issue, author Michael Apstein said, ‘Pieropan consistently makes great wines, from its Soave Classico to its cru, that have precision, reflect their origins and develop marvellously with a decade or more of bottle age.’

He described the 1995 Soave Classico ‘Superiore’ as ‘magnificent, with a Riesling-like nose and a waxy, creamy texture’.

Nino’s sons, Andrea and Dario, eventually joined Nino and wife Teresita in running the winery.

The Pieropan family also began making Valpolicella after buying land in Tregnago, in Val d’Illasi, to plant red grapes in 2002.

Dario Pieropan is today cellarmaster at the family winery and Andrea is vineyard manager.

The Pieropan estate was founded in 1880 and is believed to have been the first to use the ‘Soave’ name on labels, in 1932. The Soave DOC was not born until 1968.


The post Soave wine pioneer Leonildo ‘Nino’ Pieropan dies appeared first on Decanter.

Soave Stalwart Leonildo Pieropan of Pieropan Wines Dies at 71 (Wine Spectator)

Wine Spectator Headlines - April 16, 2018 - 8:38am
The proprietor of the Pieropan winery was a traditionalist and an innovator for his Italian appellation

Hidden Italy: Six Calabria wine producers to know

Decanter Magazine - April 16, 2018 - 7:25am

Calabria is one of southern Italy's most exciting wine regions for indigenous grape varieties, says Walter Speller, who picks several wine producers to know about.

Ferrocinto vineyards

These producers first appeared in the regional profile of Calabria in the May 2018 issue of Decanter. Decanter Premium subscribers can read the full article here

Six Calabria producers to know ’A Vita

Francesco de Franco is one of a handful of young Cirò producers who strictly adheres to organic protocols. Due to their highly original expressions of the red Gaglioppo grape, these producers have been dubbed ‘Cirò Revolution’. De Franco makes complex, long-lived wines that defy the region’s undeserved label of rustic and tannic – a reputation that led to a controversial change of rules to allow the blending of international varieties. His complex Riserva, which stays on the skins for 40 days, clearly shows the fallacy of that change of rule.


No newcomer, Ferrocinto (pictured top) was founded in 1658, but the estate’s potential has only been revealed since 2000 with the replanting of its vineyards, located in the Pollino Mountains at 600m above sea level, with a strong focus on indigenous varieties – notably Magliocco Dolce. Research in its experimental vineyard has unearthed a further 20 local varieties that are completely unknown and potentially interesting. Winemaker Stefano Coppola makes blends of Magliocco Dolce and the more rustic Magliocco Canino, while cask samples of pure Magliocco Dolce show huge class.

Giuseppe Calabrese

Agricultural college drop-out Giuseppe Calabrese planted his first vines at the age of 10. He took over old vineyards from his grandmother in 2007 and only started to bottle under his own name in 2013. The tiny plots, scattered around the Pollino Mountains – several of which still have alberello-trained vines – have been tended organically, and the approach in the cellar is completely hands-off. Calabrese’s pure Magliocco Dolce is energetic and a little wild, while his finely chiselled tannins call to mind Nebbiolo.


No one has done more for Cirò than the historic estate of Librandi. The release in 1988 of Gravello, an award-winning Gaglioppo-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, paved the way for wider international recognition of the winery’s Duca Sanfelice Riserva Cirò, which helped shine a spotlight on the denomination. Librandi was also trailblazing in its research into local grape varieties, planted in its experimental vineyard, and was one of the first producers to realise the potential of Magliocco Dolce, evidenced by the release of Magno Megonio back in 1998.

Serracavallo. Credit: Serracavallo


A newcomer to wine, Demetrio Stancati planted French grape varieties on his family’s estate in 1995, because, as he admits, this attracted the attention of journalists at a time when very few people had heard about this wild corner of Calabria. The vineyards of his Serracavallo estate are situated in the windy hills of La Sila, a rugged nature reserve, where large diurnal temperature differences render wonderfully supple wines. Several Serracavallo wines are blends of Magliocco Dolce and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the most original rendition is pure Magliocco Dolce.

Terre del Gufo

Eugenio Muzzillo is fast advancing as a Magliocco Dolce specialist. All 5ha of vineyards on his Terre di Gufo estate, which sit at 500m altitude, have been planted with this variety. As one of the very few winemakers located here, the production of Muzzillo’s Magliocco keeps the tiny, historic Donnici denomination alive. So far, he has been unable to label his Magliocco Dolce as such because – due to a bizarre quirk of fate – only the rustic Magliocco Canino has been officially registered in Italy’s national register of grape varieties. Apparently, official correction is underway – not least because of Muzzillo’s work.

Premium members can read full Decanter magazine articles online here

The post Hidden Italy: Six Calabria wine producers to know appeared first on Decanter.

Tasting Conti Costanti: Eight vintages compared

Decanter Magazine - April 16, 2018 - 7:11am

Michaela Morris tastes Conti Costanti at the Colle a Matrichese estate, including a 'captivating' 1975 vintage and a piece of history from 1967...

The Costanti vineyardsTasting Conti Costanti wines: 1967 – 2013

As soon as I arrive at the Colle a Matrichese estate, Andrea Costanti leads me up the tower with a bird’s eye view over northern Montalcino.

It’s a scorching afternoon at end of August, exacerbated by a hot breeze. This doesn’t seem to bother Costanti.

Scroll down to see the wines

The post Tasting Conti Costanti: Eight vintages compared appeared first on Decanter.

Hedonism restaurant opening with chef Ollie Dabbous

Decanter Magazine - April 16, 2018 - 6:40am

The opening of Hide in Mayfair will herald the arrival one of the biggest restaurant wine lists in London...

Hide in Mayfair.

The restaurant, opening Tuesday 17 April, is owned by Yevgeny Chichvarkin and Tatiana Fokina of luxury wine shop Hedonism.

It has a regular wood-bound list of 450 wines but customers will have access to the full 6,500-bin Hedonism wine list via ipads at a modest mark-up of £30 a bottle.

If they choose a wine it can be delivered within approximately 12 minutes, though they can also call in the wines in advance and have them chilled or decanted for their arrival.

Although the Russian-owned shop is famous for its glitzy interior Fokina is at pains to stress the list is affordable.

‘I can’t bring myself to pay some of the prices that are currently charged in restaurants,’ she said.

‘Our aim is to make sure that on every section of the list there is something below £50. Our entry level red and white are £28 and £5 for a glass.’

There are 65 wines available by the glass, and the wine list includes a range of bottle sizes, including magnums, double magnums and half bottles, said Fokina.

Another draw will be the food which is masterminded by one of London’s most exciting chefs, Ollie Dabbous, who has been without a permanent base since his eponymous restaurant closed in July 2017.

The three floor property on Piccadilly occupies the site formerly owned by the Lebanese restaurant Fakhreldine and includes a basement bar ‘Below’ which stocks over 400 spirits and liqueurs and a vast walk-in air-conditioned cellar.

There is a casual dining room ‘Ground’ with an in-store bakery on the ground floor which will also be open for breakfast and tea and a fine dining restaurant on the first floor ‘Above’ which will serve Dabbous signature tasting menu.

The director of wine, who heads a 12 strong team of sommeliers, is Polish-born Piotr Pietras MS, formerly of Launceston Place though all the purchasing is done through Alastair Viner, head buyer at Hedonism.

Hide is at 85 Piccadilly and opens 7 days a week from Tuesday April 17th 2018.

Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer.

 Find Decanter restaurant recommendations here 


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