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Jefford: The guerrilla guide to wine places

August 21, 2017 - 1:54am

Andrew Jefford’s four-part special August wine series ... for absolute beginners.  

Andrew Jefford disseminates nonconformist literature in this four-part series.

Guerrilla (noun) = member of a small independent group taking part in irregular fighting, typically against larger regular forces

Guerrilla (adjective) = referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorisation

Part Three: Wine Places 1: Why do wine places matter?

Let me give you an analogy: place is the music of wine.  A great place means great music.  Sure, the player (the winemaker) counts for a lot, and so does her or his instrument (the grape variety): they can be sublime, or make a din.  Beyond all of that, though, is the music.  That’s what you remember.  You can always find a better player and a better instrument.  You can never exceed the potential of the music, the place.

2: What makes a wine place?

Just people making wine there, year after year.  You can’t do it everywhere.  Heat, wind, rain, sunlight, spring and autumn frosts: the timing of all is critical.  If these regularly come at the wrong time, you’ll go out of business.

3: Not all places are born equal

Map of Chassagne-Montrachet, Burgundy. Credit: BIVB.

Let’s be frank: they’re wildly unequal, which is why vineyard land prices vary by three-figure multiples.  The aim of the wine game, over centuries, is to find the greatest places on earth to make wine.  We’re looking everywhere: Texas, Uruguay, Inner Mongolia.  The results are often exciting, but we now know that truly great places are rare, rare, rare.  The great places we have known about for centuries (and notably Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and the Langhe) are hard to exceed or even to match, not least because …

4: No two places are the same

The guerrilla advantage lies in knowing a place intimately, and always better than the adversary.  If you know anywhere intimately, you’ll know that that place is unique.  Grape varieties can travel, techniques can be perfected – but you can’t move a place on earth, a set of soils, a hillside. We humans measure place with crude means.  The rooted vine responds strongly to the tiniest of details – a little more clay, a breath more wind, ten minutes’ more morning sunlight — which is why ‘a wine place’ may be as small as a single small parcel of vines on a hillside (as in Burgundy).  The wine vine, astonishingly enough, can turn such nuances into aroma and flavour.

5: Maximising the taste of place

Hand sorting grapes at Temet winery, Serbia. Credit: Vinarija Temet Facebook.

Here’s the four-part guerrilla formula.  First: chose a grape variety or varieties well-suited to the place (which may not be the same as a famous grape variety).  Second: pick the grapes at full ripeness (not underripe or overripe).  Third: handle them gently and ferment them slowly, without adding anything (except a little sulphur and locally selected yeasts).  Fourth: go easy on (or skip) the oak.

6: Minimising the taste of place

It’s not obligatory to make a wine of place.  Here’s what the priests of commerce might advocate.  First: chose a famous grape variety whose wine you think might be easy to sell.  Second: pick its grapes early (to preserve acidity) or late (for opulent ripeness), or both (half and half).  Third: do what you want in the winery as long as you get the figures right for maximum stability.  And do it all quickly.  Fourth: smooth over with plenty of oak, a squirt of tannin, a final tweak of acid and a little residual sugar to round it all out.

7: Cold or cool places

Morning fog rolls across Darioush’s Mount Veeder estate vineyard perched at nearly 2000-feet above sea level in Napa Valley. San Pablo Bay’s cooling, maritime influence is felt here. Credit: Frederic Lagrange.

What should guerrilla drinkers look out for from cold or cool places?  Sparkling wines, first of all: the drama of high acidity, and the tension between that and other flavour elements (like the creaminess of dead yeast and the sweetening liqueur added before bottling) works very well.  Look out for very dry whites in cold places where autumn comes quickly – and vividly sweet whites in cold places where summer lingers into autumn.  Reds from cold places will always be brisk and bracing, and can be sharp or shocking.  Reds from cool places will be fresh, vivid and lively, though perhaps slender.

8: Warm places

There’s an enormous spectrum of still wines here, including many of Europe’s greatest mealtime wines.  Whites from warm places vary from sappily fresh to structured, full and firm; reds from graceful, lithe and lively to dense and textured.  Near lakes or rivers, where autumn days vary from misty and moist to sunny and dry, growers can make richly sweet wines.  Pink wines work well in warm places, too – it’s a kind of white-wine style made from red grapes.

9: Hot places

Colourful Sherry casks in Jerez. Felizfeliz / Flickr.

The best wines from hot places are generous, extravagant, sometimes voluptuously rich and heady red wines.  Another speciality of hot places is fortified wines (those to which spirit is added).  Guerrilla drinkers shouldn’t overlook their value and style range, from pungent dry sherries to fragrant sweet Muscats and luscious, tongue-robing ports.

10: Laying down the law

Most wine law exists to protect the names of wine places, and to ensure that a wine comes from where it claims to come from.  Learn as many or as few of these names as you like.  The important point for guerrilla drinkers to remember, though, is that in Europe such rules tend to imply not just a place, but the grape varieties used there and sometimes its vineyard and winery practices, too: the works.  That usually delivers a recognisable aroma and flavour profile.  Outside Europe, such laws generally just define a geographical boundary but nothing else, and will usually mean that a place presents a bigger spectrum of styles.  Priestly acclaim (and economics) is likely to change this in practice, even if the laws stay loose: everyone will slowly move to making what drinkers like most from a region … and are willing to pay most for.

A fully revised and updated edition of Andrew Jefford’s Wine Course is now available in English (Ryland, Peters & Small) and in French (as Le Grand Livre du Vin, Eyrolles)

Read Andrew Jefford’s first two Guerrilla guides:


Jefford: The Guerrilla Guide to Wine – Part One

Make your own mind up...

Jefford: The Guerrilla Guide to Wine – Part Two

A nonconformist guide to making wine...

The post Jefford: The guerrilla guide to wine places appeared first on Decanter.

Wine Legend: Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia 1985

August 20, 2017 - 4:41am

What makes it a wine legend?

Wine Legend: Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia 1985, Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy

Bottles produced: 62,500

Composition: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc

Yield: 35 hectolitres per hectare

Alcohol level: 13%

Release price: 18,000 Lire (at today’s rates, about £8)

Price today: £1,434 to  £1,869 per bottle

A legend because…

Sassicaia was already well known by the 1980s, but there was a sensation when Robert Parker awarded the 1985 vintage 100 points, saying that he often mistook it for 1986 Mouton-Rothschild. The excellence of the wine has been confirmed at tastings ever since. This was not the first time Sassicaia had wowed critics. In 1978, Decanter held a worldwide Cabernet tasting in which the 1975 Sassicaia triumphed. But its reputation has been eclipsed by that of the 1985, which now fetches prices far higher than any other Sassicaia vintage.

Looking back

Winemaking had improved in Tuscany by the mid-1980s, and it was no longer known only for quaffable, often rustic, wines. Hampered by outdated regulations for Chianti, many producers in the Chianti zone and elsewhere began producing Bordeaux-influenced wines or Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blends, which became known as ‘SuperTuscans’. Sassicaia was the grandfather of this movement and, from 1985 on, SuperTuscans would proliferate.

The people

Sassicaia was first made by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta in 1943. In the mid-1960s, Mario offered his nephew, Piero Antinori, the distribution of Sassicaia which, until then, had been a wine for family consumption. At the same time, Antinori lent the services of his consultant winemaker, Giacomo Tachis, to Mario, enabling a commercially viable Sassicaia to be made from 1968 onwards. Mario died in 1983, but by then the estate ‘which had taken back control of Sassicaia’s marketing and sales from Antinori’ was already being run by Mario’s son Nicolò. The 1985 was produced under his watch and with Tachis, who remained as consultant to the estate until 2010. (Tachis is Decanter’s 2011 Man of the Year.)

The vintage

1985 was an outstanding, consistent year. Perfect weather conditions resulted in superb wines, especially in Piedmont and Tuscany. The winter had been extremely cold in the Chianti zone and the crop was below average in size, but the coastal area where Sassicaia is located had a less extreme growing season and the grapes reached exceptional maturity.

The terroir

There are three vineyards on the estate. The original vineyard, Castiglioncello, just 1.5 hectares, is at an elevation of 340m. At 80m, Sassicaia di Sotto is 13ha on gravelly clay soils (these vines would have been about 10 years old for the 1985). Slightly higher, Aianova has 16ha of well-drained soil, with vines of a similar age. About 70% of the vines were Cabernet Sauvignon, the remainder Cabernet Franc. The estate believes it is the Cabernet Franc that gives the wine finesse and longevity. In the late 1990s, the unique character and quality of Sassicaia was recognised when it was given its own appellation: Bolgheri-Sassicaia. It is the only single estate in Italy with its own DOC.

The wine

Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, a claret lover, initially wanted Cabernet-based wines for family consumption that would satisfy his Francophile tastes. For the 1985 vintage, grapes from the estate’s three vineyards would have been crushed and fermented separately in steel tanks at 30°C for about two weeks and then blended before being aged for 22 months in 30% new barrels, of which 60% were French and 40% Slavonian. Today all the barrels are French oak, but with the same proportion of new wood.

The reaction

In 1992, Michael Broadbent noted: ‘very deep, sweet, full, chewy’€, but by 1994 he was slightly less enthusiastic: ‘€a bit raw and edgy’€. More recent comments, however, suggest the 1985 is by no means tiring.

Jane Anson gave Sassicaia 1985 100 points after a vertical tasting last year. ‘Get hold of this wine if you possibly can,’ she said.

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The post Wine Legend: Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia 1985 appeared first on Decanter.

Does rosé wine age well? – ask Decanter

August 19, 2017 - 2:05am

Or should you just stick to the most recent vintage...?

The politics of rosé colour.Does rosé wine age well? – ask Decanter

Stephen Powell, London, asks: Does rosé age, or should I always go for the most recent vintage?

Richard Bampfield MW, a wine educator, speaker and judge, replies:

Dry rosé wines in the Provençal style would generally be drunk as young as possible, preferably from the most recent vintage.

However, new entrants such as Domaines Sacha Lichine are introducing oak-aged rosés (Garrus, Les Clans), made from their best grapes, and there are early indications that these have ageing potential.

The top dry rosés from Bandol are also considered to have ageing potential over perhaps three to five years.


Sweeter styles of rosé such as Rose d’Anjou and Californian blush Zinfandel, as well as rosés from the southern hemisphere, are definitely made to be drunk as young as possible.

The one exception to the ‘drink rosé young’ rule is vintage rosé Champagne, the best examples of which age wonderfully.

Mature vintage rosés from Dom Pérignon, Dom Ruinart, Roederer Cristal, Billecart-Salmon and some others deserve a place among the world’s greatest wines.

First published in the  July 2014 issue of Decanter. Subscribe to Decanter here. 

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Bag in box wine: What to buy and why

August 19, 2017 - 2:00am

Once a university staple and a symbol of cheap wine on holiday, boxed wines have come a long way. Decanter's tasting team has rated 22 box and pouch wines available in the UK to help you decide what to buy...

Box wine  – or ‘bag in box’ – has enjoyed a recent surge in demand, arguably driven by the on-trade, which suggests that consumer habits and perceptions may be changing.

According to Louise Loveder, one of the wine buyers at supermarket Sainsbury’s, sales of its own-label bag in box wines were up in 2017 by 8.5% veruss 2016 year-to-date. Meanwhile, Amazon last month reported a 212% increase year on year for its bag in box sales.

Not restricted to the value end of the market, we are also seeing an increasing number of premium wines which tick boxes such as organic, biodynamic and natural.

Whilst you’re unlikely to find the world’s finest wines in pouches or boxes any time soon, some bag-in-box wines present good value. They also preserve wines longer than open bottles and are more portable.

That said, it definitely pays to be selective. But, which ones should you be buying?

See our ratings of 22 bag in box & pouch wines in the UK

Click on the wines to see the stockists and the full tasting note


Vinnaturo, #4 Tempranillo, 2016

(1.5 litre pouch) Vinnaturo have sourced a lovely wine here - an organically farmed Tempranillo, fermented and aged in amphora...

Points 90 Le Grappin, Beaujolais-Villages, Rouge du Grappin, 2016

(1.5 litre pouch) Le Grappin's parcel of Gamay located on the slopes of Lancié was ruined by hail in 2016, so this instead comes from...

Points 90 Domaine la Colombette, Pays d’Hérault, Rosé, 2016

(3 litre bag in box) This rosé has a delightfully delicate cherry aroma and an equally delicate but sweet honeydew melon character on the...

Points 90 Vinnaturo, #6 Trebbiano Skin Contact, Tuscany, Italy, 2016

(1.5 litre pouch) If you're looking for something a bit different, try this biodynamic skin contact Trebbiano from Tuscany, which has a...

Points 90 Les Dauphins, Côtes du Rhône, Villages, Rhône, France

(2.25 litre bag in box) Quite dark in the glass, this has a lovely nose of juicy plum, hedgerow fruit and cream. There is a decent amount of...

Points 89 The Beefsteak Club, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2016

(2.25 litre bag in box) This has sweet plum, cherry and black pepper notes, with a baked red fruit character in the background and a hint of...

Points 89 Le Grappin, Mâcon-Villages, Blanc du Grappin, 2016

(1.5 litre pouch) From a 25 year old parcel of Chardonnay on clay and limestone soil bordering Viré-Clessé, on the outskirts of...

Points 89 Domaine Clos des Mourres, Côtes du Rhône, Rhône, 2016

(5 litre bag in box) From a small producer based in Cairanne, this is The Winemakers Club's house red pour in their Farringdon bar and...

Points 88 Chateau de Lascaux, Val de Montferrand, Pic St Loup Rouge,

(3 litre bag in box) Château de Lascaux have been making this Rouge for St John for more than ten years now. It was the first St John wine...

Points 88 Caja Roja, Gran Seleccion Monastrell Tempranillo, Spain

(2.25 litre bag in box) From vines grown in the south-east of the country and aged in American oak. It has a slightly musky, raisined...

Points 88 Marlborough Springs, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

(2.25 litre bag in box) A fresh Sauvignon showing garden pea and cut grass aromas with a hint of peach. Quite intense on the palate with lots...

Points 88 Chateau de Lascaux, Val de Montferrand, Pic St Loup Blanc,

(3 litre bag in box) This white has a grassy, almost lemony nose. Melon & citrus flavours are a touch sweet and quite subtle, but balanced by...

Points 87 Stormhoek, Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, South Africa

(2.25 litre bag in box) Faintly tropical aromas with a touch of honey and melon too. Dry on the palate, with a really zippy, tartaric acidity...

Points 87 Sainsbury's, House Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa

(2.25 litre bag in box) Sainsbury's House Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from South Africa. It has a green pepper, nettle and citrus nose...

Points 87 Sainsbury's, Vin de Pays d’Oc, Winemaker's Selection Merlot,

(2.25 litre bag in box) The Merlot grapes for this wine have been sourced from the Hérault Valley in southern France. Initial impressions...

Points 86 Fern Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2016

(2.25 litre bag in box) Sold in the equivalent volume to three bottles of wine, this is an ideal size for entertaining. It has a clean, zesty...

Points 86 Mondelli, delle Venezie, Pinot Grigio, Italy, 2015

(2.25 litre bag in box) If you like your whites juicy, then this Pinot Grigio is worth a try. It has a bright pear-drop and green apple skin...

Points 86 Sainsbury's, House Pinot Grigio, Hungary

(2.25 litre bag in box) You may be surprised to learn that this Pinot Grigio is sourced from Hungary rather than Italy, but it fulfills the...

Points 86 Clearsprings, Sauvignon Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa

(2.25 litre bag in box) A fuller style compared to Sainsbury's House Sauvignon, probably due to it being aged for six months on its lees...

Points 86 Cote Bleu, Méditérranée, Rosé, France, 2016

(1.5 litre bag in box) This rosé is pale pink with a slight copper hue. Delicate soft red fruit aromas with a touch of spice prepare your...

Points 86 Tesco, delle Venezie, Pinot Grigio Blush Rosé, Italy, 2016

(3 litre bag in box) A vibrant salmon pink colour with very subtle red fruit and cream aromas. The palate has some noticeable...

Points 86 Parra Alta, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2014

(2.25 litre bag in box) This Argentinian Malbec from Mendoza has a pared back nose of blackberry with floral notes. The palate has a...

Points 85 Key benefits

I took a box of Caja Roja to Glastonbury festival a couple of years ago. The reason? Portability. Even the smallest boxes or pouches are equivalent to two bottles of wine, they are easier to carry than bottles, and there is no risk of breakage.

Perhaps the most attractive benefit for the average consumer, however, is the price. Because cardboard and plastic is lighter than glass, and the volumes per unit are larger, packaging and transportation costs are reduced. According to Tom Craven of Vinnaturo, the cost saving passed on to the consumer can be as much as 30%.

For example, supermarket Waitrose lists Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Villages in both 2.25 litre box (equivalent to three bottles) and 75cl bottle. While the bottle costs £8.99, the box costs £20.99 – a saving of £5.98, or around 22%, if you buy the box.

However, tap-based formats, including bag in box, are not designed for ageing wine.

Keep them for too long and the young, fruity wine that is invariably sold in this format will begin to fade.

Thanks to clever design, though, they are very effective at retaining freshness for longer than an opened bottle. This is particularly useful for those who only want the occasional glass.

How long does bag in box wine last? The on-trade

Bars and restaurants prize ease of service, freshness and cost, which has seen more and more establishments turn to bag in box, key kegs and petainers as alternatives to glass bottles, especially for their house pours.

Trevor Gulliver, of St John, the only Michelin starred restaurant currently serving bag in box wines, told, ‘We were shipping and recycling a lot of glass – not the most ecological of practices, and it didn’t make sense for the less expensive wines. Bag in box wines are a great and practical format at a better price than the bottled equivalent.’

Colin Grandfield, of The Winemakers Club, notes that consumer perception is changing, ‘It is becoming more and more common for wine bars and restaurants to offer wines by the glass both from bag in box and in kegs on draught.

‘I think that consumers now recognise that, rather than this being an inferior product, they are getting better value for money from these formats than from a bottle.’


In the past the bag in box format has been synonymous with low quality bulk wine, but a trend towards premiumisation is taking grip.

Vinnaturo and Le Grappin are among the frontrunners of this movement in the UK, the former offering wines from a range of winemakers as eclectic (and delicious) as a skin contact Trebbiano, while the latter offers more traditional but super-fresh wines from their own vineyards in Mâcon and Beaujolais.

Both sell 1.5l pouches (effectively naked bag in boxes), which Le Grappin has cleverly dubbed the ‘bagnum’, as well as larger boxes.

Kirsty Tinkler, formerly of Great Queen Street restaurant in Covent Garden, began running bag in box pop-ups in the capital after she was won over by the quality on offer from small, low intervention producers.

She told that although wine on tap is becoming mainstream within the London on-trade, a gap still exists in retail, particularly at the premium end of the market.

Tinkler is due to open a permanent site in East London this autumn, called Weino BIB, which aims to be a shrine to artisanal wines served from all kinds of ‘eco’ formats.

Here to stay?

Bag in box and all its tap-based variants have a genuine reason for being in the 21st century.

These formats address some of the ecological, financial and qualitative issues around wine; even if they don’t have the same visual or romantic appeal as a traditional wine bottle, and aren’t really suitable for ageing wines.

Growth at the premium end will only widen the appeal and encourage more producers and retailers to get on-board.

Bag in box wines have a particular role to fill, one that’s different to the glass bottle, which I can’t see dying out any time soon.

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The post Bag in box wine: What to buy and why appeared first on Decanter.

How long does bag in box wine last? – ask Decanter

August 19, 2017 - 2:00am

Decanter's tasting team explain how long to keep your bag in box wine open....

How long to bag in box wines last? How long does bag in box wine last? – ask Decanter

One of the advantages of bag in box wine, as well as being lighter and easier to carry and store, is that the wines can last for much longer.

In general, it will state somewhere on the box roughly how long it will last – with some stating they can last up to six weeks after opening.

See our top bag in box wine recommendations

Wines in traditional bottles, however, can last between 3 – 7 days after opening, depending on the style of wine.

Once the wine has been opened, oxygen can interact with the wine and impact on the flavour.

This happens more slowly for bag in box wines, but boxes and pouches are not deemed suitable for ageing fine wines, because the plastic used is permeable and will cause the wine to oxidise over time.

Why box wines last longer than open bottles

‘The tap and plastic bag in bag in box wines help to prevent oxygen ingress, keeping the wine fresh once opened for a number of weeks,’ said James Button, Decanter’s digital wine sub editor.

‘The plastic is permeable on a microscopic level however, which explains why bag in box wines still have expiry dates, as the wine will become oxidised within a few months.’

‘Despite what some say on their packaging, I would say keep them for three – four weeks at absolute maximum.’

‘I would probably keep the bag in box wines in the fridge (even the reds), like I do for an opened bottle of wine,’ said Christelle Guibert, Decanter’s tastings director.

‘Most red wines in bag in box are probably best enjoyed slightly chilled anyway!’

According to a study from Laithwaite’s Wine earlier this year, the average UK household throws away an average of two glasses of wine a week, because people think it is no longer fit to drink.

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The post How long does bag in box wine last? – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

Champagne or Prosecco wine quiz – Test your knowledge

August 18, 2017 - 6:35am

Are you a bubbly connoisseur or do you fall flat on your sparkling wine facts? Test your knowledge on Champagne and Prosecco with this quiz.

What's the difference between Champagne and Prosecco?

Champagne or Prosecco Do you know the differences between the world’s two favourite sparkling wines?

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For the weekend: Great value wines

August 18, 2017 - 5:00am

Decanter's expert tasting team bring you a weekly selection of exciting, great value wines. Discover this week's selection - Italian red wines with great price tags...

For the weekend: Great value wines

Decanter’s tasting team search the key tastings to hunt down the best value wines the supermarkets, high street and wine merchants can offer.

Try one of these great value Italian reds this weekend, without breaking the bank See the top five wines in the collection below…

Each week we bring you new wines, so you can branch out from your usual choices, without breaking the bank – especially if you’re one of the wine drinkers who stick to the same wine for a decade.

Don’t forget to look at our selections of supermarket wines.


Contero, Brachetto d’Acqui, Piedmont, Italy, 2016

This light-bodied, low-alcohol sparkler is the perfect summer tipple to enjoy in your garden on a Sunday afternoon: it’s fresh and grapey with rose petal hints mingled with wild strawberry fruit. Sweet but surprisingly refreshing – and dangerously quaffable.

Points 90 Cigliuti, Vigna Serraboella, Barbera d'Alba, Piedmont, 2014

An impressive Barbera whose grapes are from the Barbaresco cru Serraboella, one of the most famous vineyards in the east of Neive. It’s deliciously fruity, full of red cherry and floral notes with a juicy intensity on the palate. Lots of grip and energy for a long life ahead.

Points 90 Andrea Oberto, Vantrino Dolcetto d’Alba, Piedmont, 2015

From a 16ha family-run business in La Morra, this is easy-drinking and delightful, with scented red and black cherry fruits and spice. A vibrant palate with crunchy black fruit and spicy characters balanced by firm tannins. A very enjoyable wine not to miss out on.

Points 91 Masciarelli, Marina Cvetic, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, 2013

This family concern has grown from 2.5ha to more than 300ha since the early 1980s. Created in 1997, this flagship wine is full of character: medium-weight with black fruit flavours, firm tannins balanced by floral scents and refreshing acidity. A great all-round foodie wine.

Points 91 Tenute Rubino, Lamo Ottavianello, Puglia, Italy, 2015

Ottavianello is the Italian name for Cinsault. This is pretty and elegant with floral scents, red cherry and pomegranate fruit. It has a delicate palate with bright fruit characters and vivid acidity on the finish. A crowd-pleaser, to be enjoyed with light Italian pasta dishes.

Points 90 Hush Heath Estate, English Apple Wine, Kent, United Kingdom

Want something a bit different? This is made like Champagne, but apples, grown and picked on the estate...

Points 89 Markou Vineyards, Kleftes, Attiki, Central Greece, 2016

Made from the local Savatiano grape. It’s mostly used for retsina in this area, but varied dry styles of Savatiano are emerging...

Points 91 Pasqua, Passimento Bianco, Veneto, Italy, 2015

Grown in the Valpolicella zone, Garganega grapes are partly dried, losing 20% to 30% of their weight before fermentation...

Points 91 San Muletto, U Irrésistible, IGP l'île de Beauté, 2013

As the name suggests, this is very moreish. An equal blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay, there are lovely floral aromas...

Points 93 St Tamas, Mád Dry Furmint, Tokaji, Hungary, 2013

A delicious Furmint which showcases the variety’s capabilities at the drier end of the sugar spectrum. This is produced by the local village...

Points 90 Gasper, Malvazija, Slovenia, 2014

This smart offering is a joint venture between the local co-op and the talented Gasper Carman, named Slovenia’s Best Sommelier in 2015. This Malvasia has floral and stone-fruit aromas with lime overtones. The fresh, zesty palate has spring floral characters, yet is well rounded with almond and honey intensity.

Points 91 Fox Gordon, Princess Fiano, Adelaide Hills, 2012

Something for those who enjoy a bit of New World idiosyncrasy, for Fiano is hardly a staple grape of Australia...

Points 90 Ad Hoc, Straw Man, Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon, 2012

The very busy Larry Cherubino steers the ship here and this deft blend of 75% Sauvignon and 25% Sémillon...

Points 89 Vinteloper, R1/13, Watervale, Clare Valley, Australia, 2013

Ripe lemon, thyme, myrtle and honey nose. Amazing texture and a lemony brightness to the core. A fine-boned, summery wine with a dry, balanced finish...

Points 92 Wirra Wirra, Adelaide Hills, 12th Man Chardonnay, 2016

Made in an old world style, this wine was matured in a mixture of new and old Burgundian coopered oak with regular lees stirring. It demonstrates a fresh...

Points 91 Rabbit & Spaghetti, Riesling, Clare Valley, 2014

Winemaker Adam Barton has selected old-vine fruit from Watervale, a sub-region of Clare Valley, for this Riesling...

Points 91 Vasse Felix, Chardonnay, Margaret River, 2012

The peregrine falcon that adorns this bottle was trained by original owner Thomas Cullity to protect his fruit; sadly it flew away when released...

Points 92 Cave de Lugny, Crémant de Bourgogne, Blanc de Blancs

This is a great alternative to Champagne – at a fraction of the price. Fresh, light and dry with ripe apple and grapefruit. Lovely foaming...

Points 90 Corteaura, Franciacorta, Brut, Lombardy, Italy

Franciacorta deserves more recognition for its sophisticated sparklings, especially....

Points 90 Gouguenheim, Malbec Bubbles Extra Brut, Mendoza, Argentina

A delightful Malbec sparkler, full of strawberry and red cherry aromas....

Points 89

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Producer profile: Château Pavie

August 18, 2017 - 4:14am

Pavie was promoted to the top echelon of St-Émilion in 2012, becoming a Premier Grand Cru Classé A...

Credit: vignoblesperse.comHistory

There are indications that the first St-Émilion vines were planted on Pavie’s sunny, south-facing soils in the 4th century AD, yet its modern origins start with the late 19th century. Back then, it formed part of négociant Ferdinand Bouffard’s impressive estate – a single 50 hectare block he which at the time also included today’s Pavie-Decesse.

By 1943, the now 37 hectare property was owned by the Vallette family, and in 1998 the estate was sold to Gérard Perse of Vignobles Perse. Château Pavie remains one of largest single-plot vineyards in the appellation. The vineyard is divided into over 20 separate parcels on predominantly limestone and clay slopes leading up to the plateau on which the property sits.

View all of Decanter’s Château Pavie tasting notes Controversy

This property is renowned for its modernist approach to winemaking – following its purchase by Gérard Perse, much of the equipment was replaced and a new cellar facility built. He also replanted many vineyard parcels and brought in consultant Michel Rolland, known for his forward-looking techniques such as the use of micro-oxygenation.

These changes helped to improve the quality of the wine, although it has courted controversy for its overly-concentrated style which some argue was developed to appeal to Robert Parker.

Post-Parker, Pavie continues to receive acclaim. Decanter’s own Bordeaux correspondent, Jane Anson, awarded the 2016 vintage en-primeur sample 97 points, stating, ‘Pavie needs to keep its signature black fruited glamour and intensity, as that is part of what delivered its new status, but to my mind this is a far better balance than in the past’.

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Insider’s guide to Perth and Fremantle

August 17, 2017 - 5:00pm

Simone Furlong shares her insider's guide to the vibrant food and wine scene in Perth and Fremantle....

Fremantle harbourPerth restaurants and wine bars

Fremantle is just a short trip from Perth; around 45 minutes by both car and train.

The State Buildings

An inner-city hub, this stunning architectural restoration is home to a selection of incredible restaurants, bars, lounges and events, along with the Como The Treasury luxury hotel.

State buildings

The Apple Daily

Celebrate the vibrant flavours of southeast Asian street food amid the four levels of bars and restaurants in the beautifully converted former Newspaper House building, Print Hall.

Laneway Bars

The Perth bar scene has undergone a renaissance. Make your way down one of the city laneways bordered by Wellington Street and St Georges Terrace, and Milligan and William Streets and take your pick.

Kakulas Sister

Kakulas Sister

Head to Market Street and discover a wonderfully vibrant store in the historic Princess Theatre building, full of colour and scents, and perfect for sourcing spices, grains, coffee beans, meats and cheeses.

Vans Cafe

A local food and wine haven between Perth and Fremantle in the beachside suburb of Cottesloe. Always abuzz for breakfast, lunch and dinner and featuring an excellent wine list, including some great Western Australian wines.

Vans Cafe

Lamont’s Cottesloe

This bottle shop, bar and restaurant features great Western Australian, Australian and international wines, curated by the exceptionally knowledgeable, passionate and engaging wine master John Jens with wife Kate Lamont, serving a seasonal menu from the open kitchen. Dine among the bottles!

Fremantle restaurants and wine bars Young George

The hip, village-like atmosphere of George Street is captured in this East Fremantle local – a bottle shop, bar and restaurant featuring a great selection of Western Australian and international wines, along with innovative food. Perfect for a long Sunday lunch.

Kailis Seafood Markets

Kailis Seafood Markets

Nestled alongside vibrant Fishing Boat Harbour, with the smell of the ocean and the sounds of the seagulls, Kailis Seafood Markets offers fresh seafood to purchase and cook at home or fish and chips to enjoy harbourside.

Strange Company

Strange Company

Enjoy the relaxed local Fremantle vibe in this bar bolthole, with a great drinks list and a kitchen open all hours. Great also to catch some live music.

Simone Furlong is joint CEO of Leeuwin Estate, in Margaret River. Edited for by Ellie Douglas.

This first appeared in the September 2017 issue of Decanter. Subscribe to Decanter here. 

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Producer profile: Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande

August 17, 2017 - 9:20am

This Pauillac second growth has plenty of admirers, but it also has equally illustrious neighbours...

Credit: BillBl / Wikimedia CommonsLocation

AOC Pauillac, opposite Château Pichon Baron, and next to Château Latour.


85 hectares, producing 30,000 cases of the grand vin and 6,000 cases of second wine Réserve de la Comtesse.

Plantation and vineyard work

Cabernet Sauvignon (45%), Merlot (35%), Cabernet Franc (12%) and Petit Verdot (8%), planted at 9,000 vines per hectare. This is a fairly low proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon for such a prominent Pauillac estate, and explains why it has a reputation for such feminine, elegant wines.

Average age of the vines are 35 years. A replanting programme has been underway since Roederer took over however, and they hope to end up 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.

View all of Decanter’s Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande tasting notes Vinification

In the vat cellars there are 33 temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks which have both heating and cooling systems. Blending is carried out in late December to early January. The wines spend 18-22 months in oak barrels, with around 50% of new oak each year. Around 25% new oak is used for the second wine.


Garonne gravel on clay, containing an iron-rich layer of subsoil. The plots circle the château and lead down to the river alongside Latour.


At first, the history here exactly mirrors its neighbour Pichon Baron, as they were one and the same estate. A document in the archives refers to ’40 very gravelly plots’ that were used to first plant the estate by Pierre de Rauzan.

His daughter Therese married into the Baron de Pichon-Longueville family, and the Pauillac estates became known under the family name of her new husband (hence why in Margaux the name Rauzan continues, whereas in Pauillac they are Pichon Longueville). It was to remain in the hands of this family for 250 years.

As befits its name, Pichon Comtesse had its history mapped out by three influential women – first Therese de Rauzan, then Germaine de Lajus and Marie Branda de Terrfort – who looked after the estate up to the French Revolution (another influential woman came along in the 20th century in the form of Dame May Eliane de Lencquesaing).

As we know from Pichon Baron, from around 1850 the estate was divided between his sons (Pichon Baron) and his daughters (Pichon Comtesse). They have remained separate ever since.

In 1920, Pichon Comtesse was sold through auction to the Miailhe brothers Edouard and Louis, and it was Edouard’s daughter May-Eliane who was to become the defining owner of the property in the 20th century. In 2007, as she looked to retire and knew that none of her children wanted to take over, she sold her château to the Louis Roederer Champagne house.

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Producer profile: Château Margaux

August 17, 2017 - 7:35am

In 1855, at the Paris Exhibition that named the first growths, it was Margaux that came top of the tasting, with 20/20. Lafite and Latour both scored 19/20...


AOC Margaux, next to the pretty St Michel church (where former owner Bernard Ginestet is buried).


82 hectares of red grapes, producing around 11,000 cases of the first wine and 9,600 of the second wine.

12 hectares of white grapes producing a highly regarded white wine, Pavillon Blanc. There is also a third wine, Margaux du Chateau Margaux.


Clay with limestone, and a topping of coarse and fine gravels. It is one of the most varied terroirs on the Margaux commune, with some plots being almost entirely gravel.

View all of Decanter’s Château Margaux tasting notes

Since 2010, a series of small stainless steel 25 hectolitre vats have been installed, able to take grapes from around ¼ of a hectare in each one, most typically young vines that need to be followed and understood.

Traditional wooden vats are also used. A research & development team are working on various research projects at any one time – current ones include tests such as bottling the wine under screw-cap.


The estate can trace its history back to the 12th century, when it was known as La Mothe de Margaux, and it was owned by a series of wealthy lords. Vines were not seriously planted (or assembled by one owner) until the 16th century, when Olive de Lestonnac’s father Pierre began buying local plots. It was one of the first Bordeaux chateaux to export its wines under its own name, and was regularly making an appearance at the London auctions of Christie’s in the early 18th century.

Vine cuttings were sent from Chateau Margaux (and Haut-Brion) to Pennsylvania, where they were experimenting with planting vineyards, just after the French Revolution, so not long after Thomas Jefferson’s visit.

As with all the first growths, there have been a good number of notable past owners. But perhaps worthy of a special nod is Olive de Lestonnac in the early 17th century – she was the first owner to build a physical property that brought the vines together as one ‘chateau’. We should also note here the Marquis de la Colonilla, who in 1810 commissioned the building of the current chateau building.

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Greek white wines to drink this summer

August 17, 2017 - 3:47am

Panos Kakaviatos and Joanna Simon recommend great white wines from Greece, ideal for drinking this summer at home or abroad.

This post has been updated in August 2017 with new wines to try, chosen by expert Joanna Simon.

The key to success with white wines in hot countries such as Greece is exploiting cool microclimates. Grapes ripen more slowly in cooler terroirs in mountainous vineyards, developing more interesting flavours as a result.

Wines whose labels include the names Mantinia, Amyndeo or Nemea can be good examples. Mountainous areas in Nemea range between 250m to over 1,000m above sea level. Not only do they give rise to variations in wine styles, but they also offer amazing views as one drives through the terrain on sometimes perilous tracks, as I did on a recent visit.

Click to see all of Decanter’s Greek white wine reviews

Many of the white wines listed below come from cooler vineyards or from vineyards – such as those on the island of Santorini – whose maritime location helps to maintain humidity and to moderate temperatures, with strong winds that blanket the island during the summer, bringing down the night-time temperatures.

Greek white wines to drink this summer Argyros, Assyrtiko, Santorini, Aegean Islands, Greece, 2016

Appetisingly fresh, zippy nose: lime juice, pears and salty sea-spray. Beautifully fresh, dry and intense with incisive, but modulated, acidity...

Points 93 Biblia Chora, Ovilos, Pangeon, Macedonia, Greece, 2012

Blend of 50% Sémillon, 50% Assyrtiko, was the best white of a blind tasting organised for me by Konstantinos Lazarakis MW in Athens. Nougat and white apricot aromas. Well integrated alcohol, with substance and concentration but never heavy or alcoholic. Dry and thirst-quenching.

Points 93 Alpha Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, Amyntaio, Macedonia, 2014

Among the best whites from a difficult 2014 vintage. Vinified in stainless steel. Citrus and grapefruit aromas, with a kiwi touch as well. Medium-bodied and lingering finish. Just lovely!

Points 93 Domaine Skouras, Eclectique, Argolida, Greece, 2012

Brisk iodine aspect. Stone fruit, peach and fine sap on the mid-palate leading to a fresh and clean finish.

Points 93 Domaine Glinavos, Primus Zitsa, Zitsa, 2013

A brisk and low-alcohol wine made from the Debina grape, this is pleasingly rounded on the mid-palate, leading to a medium-long finish...

Points 91 Ktima Pavlidis, Drama, Thema Assyrtiko, Macedonia, 2016

50/50 Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc showing how well they can tango. Floral perfume (jasmine) and the smell of stored apples. Zing and minerality balanced against soft, perfumed fruit on the palate. Purity and melody rather than the exhilaration of Santorini.

Points 89

Situated between 32 ̊ and 42 ̊ north, Greek vineyards are some of the world’s hottest. While this might suggest suitability to the production of red wine, Greece in fact makes a surprising amount of white. Coming from some 65,000 hectares of plantings, more than 60% of Greek wine produced is white: approximately 1.83 million hectolitres of the total 2.9 million hectolitres produced.

Beyond Retsina & Assyrtiko

The best-known Greek white wines are undoubtedly Retsina and Assyrtiko. Retsina is famous for historical reasons, and has an unarguably chequered reputation, long associated with inferior wine often made from a blend of grapes and masked by resin flavours. Assyrtiko is a more recent success story, a grape that today produces world-class dry whites, most famously from old vines grown on the volcanic island of Santorini with its black sand beaches, gorgeous sunsets – and strong winds.

Savvy consumers should investigate other white varieties from Greece, including the aforementioned Malagousia, with its attractive orange blossom, stone fruit and floral aromatics. Just before leaving Nemea, I bought a lovely white made from the Moschofilero grape by the Semeli winery, which is both floral and vivacious, and fantastic value – and went down very well with grilled calamari doused in fresh lemon.

International varieties

Top producers are also making excellent white wines from international varieties. Try, for example, the Viognier ‘Spilitsa’ Argolida 2013 by Domaine Skouras. This wine’s delectable peach and iodine aspects easily match fine French Viognier for quality. Made from vines planted at a cool 300m above sea level, the Skouras wine exudes both opulence and verve.

Barrel storage at Domaine Skouras


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Rueda wines with food: Pairing ideas

August 17, 2017 - 2:04am

In partnership with DO Rueda

Ideal pairing ideas....

Young Rueda wines can stand up to some difficult flavours. Rueda wines with food

Like most wines there’s a difference between young Rueda and wines that have been aged in oak or on the lees and have a few of years bottle age. The former are arguably the most flexible, the latter the more subtle and complex.

Rueda’s mainstay, Verdejo, has much in common with Sauvignon Blanc with which it is sometimes blended.

Young Verdejos are bright and citrussy, a good match for summery food such as seafood and salads.

Unlike many other wines they’re not fazed by tomatoes, asparagus or sharp vinaigrettes.

They can deal with raw onion, olives and punchy sauces like allioli (garlic mayonnaise) and pair well with dishes with aromatic herbs such as dill and coriander.

They pair particularly well with grilled and fried fish – think grilled sardines, calamari and chipirones or even grilled octopus.

Rueda wines work with a variety of foods.

Rueda is a natural go to with shellfish such as mussels and clams or with a selection of seafood-based tapas – in fact it’s a great wine to take on a beach picnic.

You could also drink it with Mexican dishes such as guacamole, salsa fresca (fresh tomato salsa) and super-popular tacos or with the bright flavours of Asian noodle salads – it can handle a bit of fresh chilli.

Like Sauvignon Blanc it also has an affinity with fresh cheeses such as goats cheese, feta and pecorino – you could drink it with a Greek salad for example or a spanakopita (cheese and spinach pie).

Aged Rueda wines

Once Rueda has acquired a bit of bottle age it gains a weight and nuttiness that will carry richer fish dishes such as hake with garlic, gambas or fish dishes that are cooked in white wine or with a white wine sauce. It can also be paired with the local delicacy of Lechazo (baby lamb), with the ability to match with lighter red meats.

This is also the style to serve with Spain’s innumerable delicious rice dishes including, of course, a good seafood paella.

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Anson: Are these rare grapes the future of Roussillon?

August 17, 2017 - 1:19am

Jane Anson uncovers some long-lost gems in this tiny corner of southern France, near the Spanish border.

Vineyards near to Collioure in Roussillon.

There must be some kind of sweet poeticism in holding a rare grapes festival in a village that is, to say the least, something of a challenge to find.

Off the beaten track hardly does justice to the location of Trilla. It’s at one of the highest points of the Agly Valley in the Fenouillédes region of Roussillon, at close to 450 metres above sea level.

It’s quite the climb up here, through wild landscape of craggy hillsides along hair-raisingly windy roads. This is not unknown winemaking territory by any means – the wider area is home to some of southern France’s most exciting names in the shape of Domaine Matassa, Clos de L’Oum, Domaine Gauby, Domaine de l’Agly and La Soula – but it’s little surprise that there are only 65 villagers (of seven different nationalities) who make Trilla their permanent home, and that over half of the houses are holiday homes rather than main family properties.

The nearest boulangerie is a good 20 minutes drive away and the only commerce is one very small bar with uneven opening times. This is not a place for the faint-hearted or overly sociable, even if the sunset over the surrounding hills takes your breath away every single time.

Trilla does, however, play a supporting role in protecting the treasures of the Roussillon – largely because one of these 65 permanent residents is André Dominé, journalist and writer who was born in Hamburg but who has lived in the village with his Mosel-born wife since 1981. Dominé was a novelist early in his career and has published dozens of books on French wine and gastronomy, including the magnificent Wine that runs to 900 pages and has been translated into 17 languages (it started, as you might expect, as Wein). He now also runs one of France’s most unusual – and for my money worthwhile – wine festivals.

‘The Roussillon region has one of the most important collection of old vines in the whole of France,’ he tells me over supper in the village’s former wine cooperative, long since closed down and now converted into a private house. ‘And yet as demand for the local sweet wines fell away, many of the vineyards that produced them were abandoned or grafted to more fashionable grapes such as Syrah’.

The loss of indigenous grape varieties, as he sees it, is a destruction of the region’s natural heritage equal to any terrible planning decision, and he has dedicated much of his time over the past decade to drawing attention to its impact, through his writing, through tastings, and since 2011 with La Fête des Vieux Cépages.

Like many small villages in France, festivals are seen as a way of attracting visitors and bringing in tourism euros. Trilla used to be the site of a rock music festival that must have seemed a little out of place in a village populated pretty much entirely by retirees. It was the local mayor who first had the idea of changing it to a wine festival celebrating the region’s indigenous grapes – and handed its organisation to Dominé.

The festival showcases grapes such as Grenache Noir, Lledoner Pelut, Ribeyrenc, Oeillade, Muscat de Rivesaltes. As I last met Dominé at a conference in Rioja defending the forgotten terroirs of Spain, it is no surprise that every year a producer from further afield is invited to Trilla for the festival – Marcel Deiss from Alsace in 2015, Marta Rovira Carbonell from Mas d’en Gil from Priorat this summer.

‘There are dozens of local grapes to highlight just from the Roussillon,’ he says, ‘but what is happening here is being mirrored elsewhere. The characteristics of indigenous flora is increasingly valuable in the face of climate change,’ he adds. ‘These local grapes that were dismissed in the 1960s for their high acidity are now being taken seriously for the exact same qualities. There are increasing numbers of young winemakers rescuing plots of abandoned grapes, or replanting existing vineyards with traditional varieties. This is what we are trying to draw attention to,’ he says.

Rare Grape Protectors

Domaine Pierre Gaillard AOP Banyuls Hors d’Age Solera
Pierre Gaillard has three estates across the region; Clos de Cuminailles in Malleval, Domaine Madeloc in Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cottebrune in Faugères. This stunning Banyuls is 90% Grenache Noir and 10% Grenache Gris, grown on schist soils and aged in the solera method based on vintages from the mid 2000s onwards. Extraordinary aromatic richness on display, from roasted caramel to saffron spice and everything in between.

Domaine Gauby Vieilles Vignes, Cotes Catalanes 2013
One of the powerhouses of southern France, this stunning white wine is a blend of Macabeu, Grenache Blanc, Carignan Blanc, Grenache Gris and Charonnay, with vines aged from 30 to more than 100 years old. Bottled unfiltered and unfined, there is a natural richness to the body, honeysuckle and mandarin orange with lilting acidity.

Le Clos de Gravillas, A Fleur de Peau 2016
An orange wine made by skin maceration of the Muscat grape, this is rich in flavour, marmalade, almonds, salty nectarine slices. From winemakers Nicole and John Bojanowski, a French-American couple who moved to Minervois 20 years ago and work organically with minimum sulphur.

Domaine Thierry Navarre 2016 Vin d’Oeillades
The Oeillades grape is a close cousin of cinsault, grown here on schist slopes, producing supple, fruity wines that are easy to love. Thierry Navarre is truly a name to watch when it comes to rescuing forgotten grapes – he currently works with over 15 varieties from his property in Saint Chinian. This is totally moreish, light at 11.5%abv and low in tannin.

Domaine Vaquer Blanc de Blancs Tradition 1985
We finished the evening with this stunning salty-edged white, surprising and mouthwatering, that still feels fresh and fragrant even approaching 35 years old. Oxidative, rancio notes combine with honeysuckle and dried apricot as it unfolds across the palate. Amazing.

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Lympstone Manor restaurant, Exmouth – review

August 17, 2017 - 12:51am

Fiona Beckett gives her verdict on Lympstone Manor

Originally published in Decanter magazine in partnership with Hine Cognac

Lympstone Manor, ExmouthLympstone Manor, Exmouth Courtlands Lane, Exmouth, Devon EX8 3NZ Tel +44 (0)1395 202 040
  • Rating: 8/10
  • Open for lunch Monday-Friday (12pm-2.30pm) and dinner (7pm-9.30pm)
  • Restaurant style: Seasonal modern British
  • Eight-course tasting menu £140
  • Estuary menu £130
  • Classic à la carte menu £115
  • Lunch menu from £45
  • Wine to try: Herrenweg Riesling 2014
Full review

Thinking of getting married? Personal question I know, but I’ve found just the place to pop the question, spend your honeymoon night, or just to treat someone special.

Folk don’t open lavish country-house hotels that often these days, let alone spend a small fortune (reputedly £8.5 million) on renovating them, but chef Michael Caines has managed to do just that with Lympstone Manor, a Grade II-listed Georgian mansion just outside Exeter with jaw-droppingly gorgeous views over the Exe estuary.

Lympstone Manor, Exmouth

Inside it is unashamedly grand, charmingly old-fashioned even, but having worked in Devon for more than 20 years Caines knows his audience. Lympstone is not London. The food too has a touch of the 1990s about it, with its colourful dots and swirls and pretty-as-a-picture plates. This is definitely food designed to garner Michelin stars (of which Caines previously held two at Gidleigh Park).

The £55 set-price lunch menu is priced at a level to attract the (well-heeled) locals. I couldn’t fault my beautifully plated Loch Duart confit salmon with delicate cubes of salmon jelly or my delicious lemon sole – although disappointingly it was not delivered as a boudin, as indicated on the menu. At more than double that price (£115) my friend’s à la carte menu wasn’t twice as good, though he did get the benefit of a well-crafted dish of local Jacob lamb and a fabulously airy pistachio soufflé. Occasionally ambition gets the better of sense. The vertical, Shard-like spire of carrot that teetered over a quail tartlet just looked a bit silly.

The high point for any wine lover though is the exceptional service from sommelier Marko Magi, who was bursting with knowledge and enthusiasm. There’s an impressive list of 24 wines by the glass, which are dispensed by a ‘WineEmotion’ machine from an adjoining walk-in wine room, in which Manor residents can also book a tutored tasting.

Lympstone Manor, Exmouth

Though Magi’s recommended pairings were spot-on (a Herrenweg Riesling 2014 from Zind-Humbrecht was particularly lovely with the sole), the full pairing option with one of the tasting menus (£130-£140) would add £75-£85 a head to your bill. But there’s a lot to tempt by the bottle, including a particularly strong selection from Burgundy and Germany.

With a property of 11.5ha, Caines also harbours ambitious plans to plant a sparkling wine vineyard with classic Champagne grapes. So maybe in 10 years’ time you could even toast your beloved with the estate wine?

Fiona Beckett is a Decanter contributing editor and chief restaurant reviewer. To get the first look at her bar and restaurant reviews from all over the world, subscribe to Decanter magazine More food and wine ideas Great rosé wines with food

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Duckhorn buys California Pinot maker Calera

August 16, 2017 - 9:13am

Duckhorn has acquired fellow California estate Calera, one of the most acclaimed producers of Pinot Noir in the region.

Calera's Jensen vineyard in Mt Harlan AVA.

The deal between Napa’s Duckhorn and Calera includes the winery and the brand, as well as tasting room and 34 hectares (85 acres) of prime vineyards at 2,200 feet above sea level in the Mt Harlan AVA.

The price of the transaction has not been disclosed. It comes as the latest in a series of buyout deals in the US wine industry.

Founded in 1975 by Josh Jensen, Calera has played pivotal role in establishing the reputation of Pinot Noir in the US, and in California’s Central Coast specifically.

Alex Ryan, president and CEO of Duckhorn, said, ‘Like our own founders, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn, Josh is a visionary and pioneer who has spent more than four decades shaping the modern American palate for luxury wines. What he has achieved at Calera has been nothing short of remarkable.

‘Calera is one of the world’s great wineries, and we will ensure that Josh’s legacy of quality and excellence will continue to flourish for decades to come.’

There will be no changes to Calera’s functioning and personnel, said Duckhorn.

Mike Waller, Calera winemaker, will retain his position and Josh Jensen is set to join the Duckhorn board of directors.

Jensen said, ‘Calera is my life’s work. In this era of industry consolidation, it was vital to me that I choose a partner that not only shares the values that have always defined Calera, but that also has the market presence to provide our wines a continued strong and secure route to market.’

The deal between Duckhorn and Calera comes only a year after Duckhorn itself, and its 90 hectares of vineyards in Napa Valley, was sold to San Francisco-based TSG Consumer Partners.

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The post Duckhorn buys California Pinot maker Calera appeared first on Decanter.

My ‘wine-changing’ moment – from the sommeliers

August 16, 2017 - 6:49am

We asked sommeliers which was the bottle that got them seriously into wine...

My wine moment – from the sommeliers

For Confessions of a Sommelier in Decanter magazine, sommeliers were asked ‘what bottle stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?’

What was the bottle that got you seriously into wine? Let us know in the comments below.


Mathieu Ouvard, speaking to Decanter when the head sommelier at Gleneagles Hotel, said ‘In 2000, when at the Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells, I tasted Domaine Coche-Dury’s Meursault 1985. It’s the ultimate expression of white Burgundy.’

‘I’ve tasted a lot of good red Burgundy. But Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche 2006 absolutely blew my mind,’ said Johan Andersson, head sommelier at Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm. ‘After that, nothing was the same.’

Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertain. Credit: Arnold Jerocki

Christian Thorsholt Jacobsen, speaking when head sommelier at MASH in London, said ‘It was Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin from the early 1990s. Just the smell of it made me want to know more.’

‘When I first came to London three years ago from my hometown of Malmö in the south of Sweden I tried the wines of Philippe Pacalet, who was the winemaker at Domaine Prieuré-Roch in Burgundy until 2000,’ Maria Wallèn, head sommelier at London’s Coya. ‘His natural, terroir-driven wines opened my senses and my mind and made me understand the beauty of winemaking.’

David Vareille,  head sommelier for Bar Boulud in London, ‘Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin-Clos de Beze 1988. I was lucky enough to try this rare wine at a friend’s party and I immediately bought myself a case.’

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Stéphane Morand, sommelier at Le Cercle à Bourges said ‘When I was a sommelier intern, I was lucky enough to taste Château Margaux 1979. It was pure beauty and cemented the idea that working in wine was the right career path for me.’

‘It was a Château Latour 1928, chosen by a restaurant guest (he’d drunk the 1929 a few days earlier but didn’t like the colour!),’ said Richard Bernard, head sommelier at Le Saint-James, Bouliac. ‘The complexity and beauty of the wine was a revelation.’

Château Margaux

‘My bigggest faux pas’ – from the sommeliers Italy

Stefano Petta, speaking to Decanter when who was working at Hotel Schweizerhof Bern in Switzerland, said ‘Bibi Graetz’s Testamatta from Tuscany. It’s a very powerful Sangiovese with incredible density. It was the first time I tasted perfection – I can still remember it. The label is also unique – Bibi is the artist.’

Testamatta di Bibi Graetz

‘It was a cooperative-made Langhe Nebbiolo,’ said Arvid Rosengren, speaking to Decanter when wine director at Copenhagen Concepts restaurant group. ‘In hindsight a fairly simple wine, but at the time I was blown away. How could all these aromas come from a glass of wine?’

Rosengren was named best sommelier in the world in 2016 and is wine director at Charlie Bird in New York.

Worst customer habits in restaurants – from the sommeliers Germany

Vineyards on the banks of the Mosel in Germany.

‘Not just one, but several vintages of all the single-vineyard Terrassen Mosel Rieslings of Heymann-Löwenstein, tasted at the winery. Incredibly perfumed wines with fine minerality,’ said Marinela Ivanova, beverage manager onboard The World, Residences at Sea.

Ali Rasouli Nia, speaking when he was head sommelier at Michael Wignall at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park Hotel, ‘I grew up in Germany, and when I was 18 I tried an eiswein from Schloss Johannisberg. From that moment, I knew wine was my passion.’

Nightmare food and wine matches – from the sommeliers …and the rest

Alvaro Palacios, Decanter Man of the Year 2015.

Wayve Kolevsohn, speaking while sommelier at The Test Kitchen, said, ‘The Sadie Family’s Palladius 2006. With every sip it would evolve, and I was blown away.’

‘Most of the wines I liked in my early days aren’t favourites anymore,’ said Gal Zohar, speaking to Decanter when wine buyer for the Ottolenghi restaurants. ‘But one wine that is, is Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita from Priorat in Spain.’

‘It was a Peter Lehmann Shiraz a few years ago – it was like I’d been kissed by an angel. I was still thinking about it long after I finished the wine,’ said Bhatia Dheeraj, speaking to Decanter when he was head sommelier at The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. He is now head sommelier at Penfolds Magill Estate.

‘On my first tasting as a young apprentice, I went with my restaurant manager to meet a supplier who had lined up wines I could not even pronounce: Tignanello, Sassicaia, Masseto, Grange, Vega Sicilia and Opus One. I finished every glass with no further consideration. Later I researched the wines’ prices…’ said Tobias Brauweiler speaking to Decanter when he was head sommelier at The Ritz in London.

He is now head sommelier at Hakkasan Hanway Place in London.

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The post My ‘wine-changing’ moment – from the sommeliers appeared first on Decanter.

Cru Beaujolais 2015: panel tasting results

August 16, 2017 - 4:40am

The Beaujolais revival continues apace, and leading the charge are the 10 Beaujolais cru appellations. Find out what our judges thought of this strongly anticipated vintage...

Decanter’s experts tasted and discussed cru Beaujolais 2015 for the September 2017 issue of Decanter magazine.

While there were no outright stars, these wines still impressed for their character, structure and ageability – not to mention food friendliness and value. With an average price of between £10 and £18, there is still plenty here to praise.

The scores:

121 wines tasted

Exceptional – 0
Outstanding – 0
Highly Recommended – 32
Recommended – 65
Commended – 19
Fair – 5
Poor – 0
Faulty – 0

The judges:

Andy Howard MW; James Lawther MW; Matt Wilkin MS

Click here to view the full results of the cru Beaujolais 2015 panel tasting

At a similar panel tasting of cru Beaujolais in the August 2015 issue, both Andy Howard MW and James Lawther MW came away enthralled by the 2013 vintage. ‘And because 2015 is so highly regarded, I expected to see things moving to an even higher level,’ said Howard.

‘Unfortunately, while there were a lot of good wines, nothing really elevated itself to the top tier across the different crus.’

In terms of flavour spectrum, these 2015 vintage wines showcased Gamay’s classic red cherry profile, with the more structured versions displaying notes of black and sour cherry.

‘There was plenty of character and density,’ thought Matt Wilkin MS, while Howard also picked out a ‘granitic-graphite’ element in quite a few examples, noting: ‘That’s an additional string to the bow that you don’t get in the non-cru wines.’

Overall, the biggest let-down was the lack of high-scoring wines. ‘I was surprised Côte du Py didn’t feature more strongly – that was a disappointment,’ said Howard. ‘Of course, some wines may be in lock-down at this point, and need time to express themselves.’

Continue reading below Cru Beaujolais 2015 panel tasting top scorers:


Olivier Depardon, Morgon, Domaine de la Bêche, Vieilles

Dark and brooding with black cherry aromas augmented by hints of damson and a thread of graphite. Concentrated, dense palate of great...

Points 93 Pardon & Fils, Juliénas, Les Mouilles, Beaujolais, 2015

Fresh and lively yet unforced and restrained, with a fragrant red berry nose leading to a savoury red fruit intensity on the palate and finishing...

Points 93 Alain Coudert, Fleurie, Clos de la Roilette, 2015

A serious, complex style with ageing in large, old casks adding additional complexity alongside the crisp and vibrant red fruit...

Points 91 Albert Bichot, Moulin-à-Vent, Domaine de Rochegrès, 2015

Dark cherry aroma with a touch of spicy oak. Generous yet focused palate, long and persistent, with plenty of zest and freshness. Firm...

Points 91 Château de Bellevue, Morgon, Climat Les Charmes, 2015

An appealing density and energy here, with firmly-structured yet refined black cherry fruit accompanying mineral, herbal and graphite...

Points 91 To read Decanter’s full panel tasting reports, subscribe to Decanter magazine – available in print and digital. The vintage

Once in a lifetime vintage for many producers, but less classic in style. Dark, rich and powerful. Structured for ageing.


By and large the majority of growers practise a form of semi-carbonic maceration coupled with pumping over, pigeage or rack and return to gain more substance and structure. The wines are then aged in neutral tank or old casks for roughly a year. The fruit expression should be apparent, but the extent of extraction and length of cuvaison (up to 15 days) will also have a say in the style of the wine, as will the quality of the press wine. Growers are also being encouraged to highlight the character of site-specific wines by marking the name of the lieu-dit on the label, adding another tweak to the nuance of the wine.

The crus

Granite predominates in Chiroubles, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent and Régnié, but whereas Chiroubles with its steep slopes and higher altitude produces lively, floral scented wines, Fleurie, with its dramatic inclines lower down, is elegant, perfumed and finely textured. Moulin-à-Vent has gentler contours and is complex and longer ageing, while Régnié errs on the side of suppleness and fruit.

Juliénas has the lowest granite content but plenty of ‘blue stone’ sedimentary rock, as does the Côte de Brouilly; the former exudes minerality, the latter generosity and elegance. Blue stone appears again with granite and alluvial deposits in Morgon, where the finely structured wines have the ability to age. Chénas can also be structured whereas St-Amour, with its more diverse soils, is light and appetising. The most southerly cru, Brouilly, is also the largest and produces solid, fruit-driven wines to be appreciated young.

All three agreed that Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent stood out for their structure and ageing potential. The best of Chiroubles also displayed the cru’s lighter, floral hallmark style, but Howard felt that Fleurie showed less consistency. Chénas and Côte de Brouilly had a low turnout, so it was difficult to form an overall conclusion.


There was a slight criticism over alcohol levels. ‘At the leafier, leaner side of cru Beaujolais, some wines are around 12.5%, moving up to 13% and 13.5%. But 14.5% is not what I want or look for,’ said Lawther. But, he added, ‘they were the exceptions rather than the rule’.


With the exception of the top Moulin-à-Vent and Morgon wines, most are drinkable now. Equally, the best also have the capacity keep for another seven to 10 years thanks to their acidity and structure, as Lawther pointed out. The panel also agreed that people should keep their cru Beaujolais longer than they tend to.

Food pairing

From his sommelier perspective, Wilkin advised: ‘For the prettier, lighter-styled, bright wines you can go for classic duck egg with lardons. But some of the other wines are quite weighty and concentrated, and demand grilled meats or even fatty beef cuts like bavet or onglet. Cru Beaujolais goes beyond the charcuterie board!’

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The post Cru Beaujolais 2015: panel tasting results appeared first on Decanter.

Trump name-drops Virginia winery but exaggerates size

August 16, 2017 - 4:22am

President Donald Trump name-dropped the Virginia winery that he acquired in 2011 during a press conference on white supremacist violence in the state - but his comments don't appear to be entirely accurate.

President Donald Trump no longer owns Trump winery, according to estate's website.

President Trump reminded journalists of the winery he acquired in 2011 when asked whether he intended to visit Charlottesville, Virginia following the recent deadly violence that erupted around a white supremacist rally and counter-demonstration.

According to transcripts of the press conference, Trump said, ‘I own a house in Charlottesville. Does anyone know I own a house in Charlottesville?

‘It is the winery.’

He added, ‘I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States. It’s in Charlottesville.’

The Trump winery itself has previously attempted to put some distance between its operations and the president.

Donald Trump did buy the winery in 2011, from Patricia Kluge, but it is currently run by his son, Eric Trump.

‘Trump Winery is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC, which is not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organisation or any of their affiliates,’ says a disclaimer on the Trump winery website.

Plus, it is debatable as to whether the winery could count as one of the largest in the US. Annual production has been estimated at around 36,000 nine-litre cases of wine per year, equivalent to 432,000 bottles.

While that means Trump winery is among the biggest in Virginia, figures released by industry publication Wine & Vines yesterday (15 August) show that hundreds of wineries were estimated to have a higher level of production.

The publication’s analysis, updated in July 2017, said that there were 65 US wineries producing more than half-a-million cases and a further 263 ‘medium’ wineries producing more than 50,000 cases annually.

California accounts for nearly 90% of US wine production.

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Producer profile: Far Niente

August 15, 2017 - 8:55am

Historic Napa winery Far Niente was started by a gold rush forty-niner and abandoned after Prohibition, only to rise from the ashes in the 1980s to reach international renown...

Image Credit: Far Niente

Far Niente was established in Napa Valley’s Oakville AVA by John Benson in 1885. He was a ‘forty-niner’ — one of those who sought their fortune in the 1849 gold rush in California.

The estate produces Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. There are two Cabernet vineyards, 23 and 17 hectares in size. Both border the prestigious vineyards of Robert Mondavi, such as To-Kalon and the Opus One winery. The Chardonnay fruit comes two vineyards in Coombsville AVA, further south in Napa Valley.

View all of Decanter’s Far Niente tasting notes

Far Niente’s imposing winery building was the work of architect Hamden McIntyre, commissioned by John Benson. Its design uses gravity to move the grapes on through each stage of production. Far Niente was hit hard by the Prohibition in 1919 and the winery was abandoned until 1979, when Gil Nickel bought the estate. It returned to fully functioning use in 1982.

Despite the gap in their history, Far Niente still claim to be behind the oldest intact bottle of California wine still in existence today — a bottle of Far Niente Sweet Muscat from 1886, discovered in a private cellar in Marin County.

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