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Updated: 5 min 43 sec ago

Vegan trend raises questions for wine

16 min 47 sec ago

Veganism is going mainstream and early signs suggest that wine could be one of the focal points for debate in 2018.

The UK’s Co-op retailer has said it plans to expand its vegan wine range to 100 labels this year and has challenged all of its wine suppliers ‘to make wines vegan where they can’.

Rival retailer Majestic Wine has added vegan and vegetarian symbols to the wine information on its relaunched website.

‘Vegan wines will not have been fined, filtered or come into contact with anything derived from an animal or dairy source,’ a Majestic spokesperson told There were 32 vegan wines on the retailer’s website, although this varies month-to-month.

A view of Majestic’s new website, which tells shoppers whether a wine is vegan or not. Credit: Majestic Wine.

There are at least 542,000 people following a vegan diet in the UK, versus 150,000 10 years ago, according to the Vegan Society.

‘Veganuary’ has become one of the buzzwords of the season, backed by celebrities. Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron and long-time vegan Pamel Anderson are executive producers on a documentary about plant-based diets called Game Changers, to be released at the Sundance Film Festival on 19 January.

All of this has the potential to stir up debate about the identity of vegan wines and why some do not make the grade.

It could also re-kindle discussion around disclosure on wine labels.

Traditional fining agents, such as egg whites or casein, are used by some wineries to clarify finished wines, but there is currently no legal requirement to state this on labels in the European Union or US.

From the archive: Andrew Jefford talks about disclosure of additives in wine

‘I suspect that quite a lot of wine is vegan but the producer doesn’t necessarily put it on the label,’ said Kristin Syltevik, of the Oxney Organic Estate in East Sussex, England.

‘Traditional fining products that were egg/fish/milk derived have probably – we think – moved on to a lot of vegetable-based products.’

Some producers choose not to ‘fine’ their wines at all.

In terms of alternatives, some research work has focused on wheat-based fining agents, but the presence of gluten could be an issue and subsequent work has targeted pea and potato-derived products.

Tony Milanowski, a lecturer in wine production at Plumpton College in the UK, said that the issue also goes beyond fining.

He told, ‘Veganism is a broad church because people do it for dietary, ethical and/or environmental concerns.

‘Many vegans have stricter interpretations and would look to avoid beeswax (used to seal bottles) and agglomerated corks (which use milk-based glues), while others are not interested in these concerns [because the animal derivatives are not considered to be in the finished product].’

Unfined and unfiltered biodynamic wines may still fail some vegans’ethical standards depending upon the source of manure and animal parts (skulls, horns and organs) used in the vineyard, he added.

Additional editing by Chris Mercer.




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Jefford on Monday: To cru or not to cru

Mon, 15/01/2018 - 10:47

Priorat is going for it; Sancerre is holding back. Andrew Jefford considers the two approaches.

Vineyards in Priorat, where winemakers are mapping out a new 'cru' system.

Driving licence, passport, voting card: these are the familiar symbols of human adulthood.  Might, though, wine regions come of age?  If so, what would symbolize that?

If my recent travels are a guide, many wine regions only consider themselves adult when they can boast a cru system of their own.  When, in other words, certain zones, villages or vineyards are plucked from the mass for elevation: the badge, it’s felt, of a ‘real region’.

Burgundy’s famous pyramid (regional appellations, village appellations, Premiers Crus and finally Grands Crus) often glimmers, grail-like, as the model to follow, despite the fact that it is too elaborate for most regions.  This is, nonetheless, the route that Priorat intends to follow: the first Spanish region to embrace internal classification to that extent.  (See the end of this blog for a full description of the proposed system for Priorat.)  France’s Sancerre, by contrast, has often considered the institution of a cru system, but so far has held back.  Why?  What’s at stake?  What are the pros and cons?

The view from Priorat

The Priorat DOCa regional chairman, Salus Álvarez, gave me a practical justification for the region’s pursuit of its new system.  “We have a lot of small cellars producing just 40-50,000 bottles a year,” he said.  “We have to find a way for them to make a living, and the best solution is a focus on terroir.   Moreover it is easy for us to do that, as we have no large producers here to placate.  But we realize that total traceability of every product in every year is vital.  We have invested a lot in that; it was only because we are so tiny that it was possible.  Wine is a product which can take the name of your vineyard all over the world, with all the prestige and renown which goes with that.  That’s what we need.  It means that a small grower can then live from a few hectares of low-yielding vines.”

Opinions about the merits of the system in Priorat are mixed.  Some, like Jordi Vidal of La Conreria, were firmly in favour of it: “there are some vineyards here that just have to be made alone.  The only challenge is that it takes 20 years to discover where they are.”  Others, though broadly welcoming, had reservations.  “A Grand Cru for a Garnatxa will never be the same as a Grand Cru for a Carinyena,” pointed out Sara Pérez of Mas Martinet.  “I’ve worked with fruit from different villages,” says Sandra Doix of Mas Doix, “and it’s true that there are differences.  But what really matters is the winemaker’s spirit, and you can’t regulate for that.” “We need more time,” suggests Pérez.  “For me, it’s a copy of other regions.  It needs to reflect our reality, or it will never be true.”

The view from Sancerre

The quality revolution is so recent in Priorat that you could argue, with Pérez, that the institution of such a detailed system is premature – yet the experience of Sancerre, in fact, suggests the opposite: that early legislation is desirable.  “The question of crus has been posed many times,” Alphonse Mellot Jnr told me recently.  “But we all work very well together in the region at present, and if you introduce a cru system that will no longer be true.”  Luc Prieur made the point more forcefully.  “A vineyard isn’t just a vineyard; it’s also the man or woman who looks after it.  If you classify now, you will write a huge cheque to people who never worked hard, who never did anything for the region, whereas some of those who have worked very hard may get nothing at all.”  With hindsight, the 1950s might have been the perfect period to classify Sancerre’s best sites, since the stakes were much lower then.  The stakes are now so high that instituting a cru system faces the ultimate political challenge: that of mollifying losers as well as rewarding winners.  This, of course, is why expanding Champagne’s growing zone is such a headache, and why the regular revisions of St Emilion’s classification system chiefly benefits lawyers.

There are other reasons, too, to believe that the existing use of lieu-dit names on labels may actually be more beneficial in practical terms to Sancerre than a fully-fledged, legally sanctified cru system, as an outstanding 2017 Master of Wine dissertation paper, that of Catherine Petrie M.W. of the UK merchant Goedhuis, makes clear (see the end of this blog for details).

Petrie looked at three lieux-dits in particular, Les Monts Damnés, Les Culs de Beaujeu and Chêne Marchand, and showed that wine from these sites enjoyed a price uplift of between 59 per cent (Chêne Marchand) and 95 per cent (Culs de Beaujeu) in the 2014 vintage, even without the benefit of official cru status.  Over a five-year period, the price uplift for the three lieu-dit wines was 14 per cent, compared to 10 per cent for ‘ordinary’ Sancerre.  Since the lieu-dit wines are on steep slopes, they have a lower average yield than ordinary Sancerre, but Petrie shows that even in terms of euros per hectare they still achieved between 40 per cent (Chêne Marchard) and 80 per cent (Culs de Beaujeu) price uplift in 2014.

Now consider what might change were an official cru system to be instituted.  Petrie uses Alsace as analogy, where the Grand Cru regulations require a maximum yield 31 per cent or 25 hl/ha lower than for AOP Alsace; she also shows that the cru systems of Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux du Layon, Cairanne and Chablis, as well as the proposed system for Pouilly-Fuissé, require lower yields.  (As, by the way, does Priorat’s system – see the end of this blog.)  Were Sancerre to adopt reductions similar to those which operate in Alsace, the price uplift would fall to just 17 per cent: a considerable disincentive to classifying.

There may be other advantages to the existing system, too.  At the moment, lieu-dit names can be used providing they exist in the local land register (le cadastre) and the grower can prove traceability.  This is administered under the code rural by local customs officers but not, significantly, enforced by the INAO; it is, in effect, optional. Grower honesty is therefore paramount since, as Petrie points out, the dishonest might “flout this requirement without reprisal”.  The situation is even more fluid when it comes to the entirely unregulated use of terroir terms like ‘silex’ (flint) or ‘caillottes’ (limestone pebbles).  As Petrie once again points out, silex “is the least dominant of the major soil types in the region”, but it is also “clearly the most popular soil name used” in this way.  Classification would require rules, with inspection and justification; not every grower would welcome this.

It’s also possible that classification may not aid comprehension

Salus Álvarez made the point that classification fosters the global esteem of a region, and helps consumers to understand a region’s nuances.  Sancerre, though, already enjoys enviable global esteem: it exports 60 per cent of its production to 124 countries, and the quality of installations in leading Sancerre leading growers’ cellars testifies to the region’s prosperity.

It’s also possible that classification may not aid comprehension.  I fear that the amount of fierce Catalan verbiage which the new Priorat system will put onto labels may puzzle and bemuse as much as enlighten.  The Catalan word for village (‘vila’) may sound to non-Catalans like a villa or a house; ‘paratge’ is a mouthful; and ‘vinya’ (vineyard) may sound to non-Catalans like a word for wine itself.

The conclusion, then, is that the benefits of the adoption of a cru system are not automatic and uniform.  My soundings in Sancerre, and the carefully assembled data from Petrie’s paper, suggest that classification there is unlikely, since the status quo works admirably well for most.  Priorat’s ambitious system may help a region where the economic stakes are, for the time being, lower than in Sancerre – though a considerable educational push will be required, and the system is never likely to eclipse the force of the individual grower’s name.

Priorat’s proposed classification

Priorat already has ‘village wines’ – look out for the term Vi de Vila on labels (35 wines used this term in 2017) plus the name of one of the 11 villages which make up the DOCa as well as ‘Masos de Falset’ for the Falset Priorat vineyards (Falset itself lies in Montsant).  Vi de Paratge might be the next term up, for wines from a locality or zone which is smaller than a village but larger than a single vineyard.  Vi de Vinya would be single vineyard wines, roughly equivalent to Premier Cru, and Gran Vi de Vinya for Grand Cru-level wines.  Each level of the classification would require a reduction in yield from the existing DOCa limit of 6,000 kg/ha: 4,000 kg/ha for Vi de Paratge and Vi de Vinya, and 2,500 kg/ha for Gran Vi de Vinya.  Vines would have to be at least 15 years old for Vi de Paratge, 20 years old for Vi de Vinya and 35 years old for Gran Vi de Vinya and, significantly, this final category will only be available for wines based on Garnatxa or Carinenya alone.

Catherine Petrie’s research paper is called Sancerre’s single vineyard wines versus formal cru classification systems: An investigation of Les Monts Damnés, Les Culs de Beaujeu, and Chêne Marchand. (2017). Recent MW research papers can be consulted on application to the Institute of Masters of Wine.

Read more Andrew Jefford columns on here

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Top scoring Chablis 2016 wines

Mon, 15/01/2018 - 10:08

See the top scoring Chablis 2016 wines, rated by William Kelley following his en primeur tastings in Burgundy.

Top scoring Chablis 2016 wines.Top Chablis 2016 wines

Chablis was one of the appellations to suffer most from frost, plus hail and mildew, in the Burgundy 2016 vintage, with many producers losing a significant proportion of their harvest.

‘The 2016s will be scarce,’ said William Kelley, in his Burgundy 2016 vintage report published on before Christmas for Premium members.

‘Many Chablis wines, especially those from frosted vineyards, are exotic and rather atypical, but some producers have done well.’

The following wines have all scored 93 points and above, tasted en primeur in Burgundy by William Kelley.

See the top scoring Chablis wines below:


See all Burgundy en primeur coverage

The post Top scoring Chablis 2016 wines appeared first on Decanter.

What is Amarone wine? – ask Decanter

Mon, 15/01/2018 - 08:41

Have you tried Amarone della Valpolicella? Find out where and how it is made...

What is Amarone wine?

Amarone della Valpolicella is a wine made with partially dried grapes in Valpolicella, Veneto, North-east Italy. There are three geographical sub zones; Classico, Valpantena and ‘Est’, the extended zone.

Amarone wine map. Credit: Decanter/ Maggie Nelson

‘Each of the three geographical zones has its own identity,’  said Michael Garner, in the 2018 Decanter Italy supplement.

‘In broad strokes: Amarone from Classico tends to be the most elegant and aromatic, versions from the Valpantena are generally lighter and fruitier, while the so-called ‘extended’ zone (beyond Classico and Valpantena, bordering on the Soave) tends to produce richer, more muscular wines with a higher alcohol level.’

In-depth: See our Amarone buying guide – For Premium members Grape varieties

There are a few permitted grape varieties in Amarone wine – the main ones being Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, plus some lesser known ones.

‘The aromas and flavours of Amarone are determined invariably by Corvina – and to a lesser extent Corvinone,’ said Garner.

‘Elegance and perfume (especially a telltale note of freshly ground black pepper) are hallmarks of the former, while Corvinone has deeper colour, more tannins and tobacco-like aromas.’

‘Some growers talk up the current favourite Oseleta despite the low ratio of solid-to-liquid (skins and pips to must), which makes the variety a less suitable candidate for appassimento.’


Appassimento is the method of partially drying out the grapes, which are then slowly pressed, and slowly fermented, to make Amarone della Valpolicella.

‘Amarone is about winemaking as much as anything else,’ said Susan Hulme MW, in our 2017 panel tasting.

‘Decisions around drying the grapes, length of appassimento, and time fermenting on skins make dramatic differences to style and quality.’

What is the difference between ripasso and appassimento? Oak ageing

‘Amarone spends a minimum of two years in wood, though can remain there for up to nine or 10 in rare cases (Quintarelli, Zyme). Barrels vary from French and Slavonian oak through to chestnut, cherry and even acacia,’ said Garner.

‘Newer, smaller barrels, usually oak, are commonly used and have a distinct effect on both aroma and texture (mouthfeel) in particular, though there seems to be a return to the more subtle and seasoned notes promoted by larger and older wood.’

Got a question for Decanter’s experts? Email us: or on social media with #askDecanter. Find more wine questions answered here.

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Wine Legend: Viñedo Chadwick 2000

Sun, 14/01/2018 - 13:30

What makes it a wine legend?

Wine Legend: Viñedo Chadwick 2000, Alto Maipo, Chile

Bottles produced 6,000

Composition 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Yield 30hl/ha

Alcohol 14.2%

Release price £30

Price today None available, but estimated at £350

A legend because…

Although the Chadwick vineyard close to the Maipo River was only planted in 1992, the wine was an immediate success from its first vintage (1999) onwards. In 2004, Eduardo Chadwick, the sixth generation of his family to run Viña Errazuriz, staged a blind tasting in Berlin of 16 Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style wines, including 2000 vintage Château Lafite and other top-scoring first growths – but it was this wine that received the highest average score. Since then Viñedo Chadwick’s reputation has been assured.

Looking back

Eduardo Chadwick wanted to honour his father Alfonso with a top-quality wine originating on the family’s home estate in Alto Maipo. The vines for Viñedo Chadwick were planted on Alfonso’s former polo ground, where he had trained daily to become Chile’s champion at the sport.

The vintage

After a wet winter, the spring was cool and the summer months delivered moderate temperatures. More cool weather in the autumn slowed ripening, resulting in a late harvest of balanced grapes with intense flavours. Green-harvesting ensured yields were reduced to a level that maintained fruit concentration and maturity.

The terroir

The 15ha vineyard was planted at a height of 650m in Puento Alto in the Alto Maipo valley, right next to one of the blocks used to produce another of Chile’s outstanding red wines, Almaviva. The soil is largely gravel, with a top layer of clay and loam over a stony subsoil that ensures excellent drainage. The vines are planted to a density of 4,160 vines/ha. Nights are cool, and morning breezes drift down the slopes of the Andes, moderating the daytime heat.

The wine

Vinification varies from parcel to parcel, but there is a clear nod to top-tier Bordeaux. The grapes are lightly crushed then destemmed. Maceration can take up to 25 days, with the frequency and duration of pumpovers adapted to the character of each lot, and the wine is aged for 17 months in new barriques with regular racking. The final blend is assembled towards the end of the ageing process, with no fining but a light filtration before bottling.

The reaction

Stephen Brook appraised the wine soon after bottling: ‘Rich, smoky, leathery nose. Very rich, plump and concentrated, opulent and spicy, a complex if somewhat broad wine, with good acidity and length.’

In 2015, Jeannie Cho Lee MW wrote: ‘A beautiful expression of Cabernet fruit – layers of cassis, cedar and tobacco with supple tannins… tightly knit and a bit reserved but opens up with time in the glass.’

Steven Spurrier, long a fan of this wine, recorded in 2016: ‘Still a wonderful nose with hints of rose petal and seductively aromatic. Extraordinary warmth and depth from just eight-year-old vines, almost “southern” richness with the spice but the firmness of Cabernet quite evident.’

More Wine Legends

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Top restaurants in Bolgheri to visit

Sat, 13/01/2018 - 11:00

Helen Farrell picks the must-visit restaurants to try when visiting Bolgheri...

Trattoria del PaperoTop restaurants in Bolgheri to visit Looking for wineries to visit in Bolgheri? See our guide here Enoteca San Guido

Open all day, every day, this is the nearest that most visitors to Bolgheri get to the legendary Sassicaia. Just off the famous cypress-lined avenue, it boasts prestigious wines and top dishes.

Enoteca San Guido

Bolgheri Green

Opened last year, this plank-striped sustainable hut sits on a lawn along the Via Bolgherese near the Caccia al Piano 1868 winery. Live music, happy hour and organic produce. Tel: +39 348 891 3766

Enoteca Tognoni

An institution in Bolgheri town centre (try the wild boar pappardelle pasta). Well-priced local wines and simple home-cooking.

Io Cucino

Natural wines and seriously good food in this Bibbona outpost, whose centrepiece is an old grindstone.

La Pineta

La Pineta

Book well in advance for this fish restaurant by the sea. Unusual pairings and sheer simplicity in the three tasting menus. Extensive wine list.

La Carabaccia

La Carabaccia

Energetic Emanuele Vallini cooks up inventive mare e monti dishes. Try the namesake carabaccia , a Tuscan onion soup, or the catch of the day.

Trattoria del Papero

Stone-clad walls and wooden-beamed ceilings greet travellers to Trattoria del Papero, in Riparbella (pictured top). Expect traditional country cooking, made to generations-old recipes. The wine list features local names such as La Regola and Tenuta di Canneto (try the white Sangiovese), plus Bolgheri stalwarts like Guado al Tasso’s Il Bruciato and Le Macchiole’s Paleo.

See more Decanter travel guides to Italy

Originally published in the Italy supplement with Decanter magazine’s February 2018 issue. Edited for by Eleanor Douglas. 

Helen Farrell is editor-in-chief at the Florentine.


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Amarone: a buyer’s guide

Sat, 13/01/2018 - 10:00

Opening a bottle of Amarone is always a treat, but it can be hard to know what you’re getting when you buy. Michael Garner explains what lies behind the varied styles on offer, and picks his favourite wines of the moment...

Drying grape on racks at the Bertani estate. Amarone: a buyer’s guide

It’s rather like indulging a guilty pleasure: that velvety mouthfeel, the head-spinning alcohol, those beguiling sensations of sweetness. Few wines are quite so hedonistic, but that only partly explains a massive surge in popularity recently: Amarone has surprisingly broad appeal. Look below the surface and great examples show uncommon, indeed exquisite, balance and tone beyond the exhilarating aromas and flavours.

Best food friendly Amarones to seek out: Michael Garner is a DWWA Regional co-Chair for Italy and author of Amarone and the Fine Wines of Verona.


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Travel: Top Bolgheri wineries to visit

Fri, 12/01/2018 - 17:21

Helen Farrell picks her top Bolgheri wineries to visit...

Caiarossa vineyards. Travel: Top Bolgheri wineries to visit

Getting there: Fly to Pisa and then the driving time to Bolgheri is about one hour. Book flights from London to to Pisa with British Airways.  

Wineries to visit and where to find them. Credit: Maggie Nelson / Decanter.


One of the quintessential ‘aias’, Ornellaia, five minutes from Bolgheri by car, stretches at the northern end of the winery lined Via Bolgherese.

Reserve your appointment months in advance to be buzzed through the hallowed gate and down the long driveway flanked with verdant vines.

Either side of the sunken cantina entrance you will see a site-specific artwork: Cairo-born Ghada Amer’s Happily Ever After iron and jasmine garden installation, and Japanese artist Yutaka Sone’s Carrara-inspired marble statue.

The artistic highlight of the cellar tour is Rebecca Horn’s ever-moving sculpture in the barricaia, instilling subtle energy to the precious liquor resting in the French oak barrels. The visit ends with a tasting of Ornellaia’s elegant wines, from the approachable Le Volte dell’ Ornellaia to the terroir-driven cuvée Ornellaia to the terroir-driven cuvée Ornellaia.

The Happily Ever After Garden installation at Ornellaia.

Mulini di Segalari

Continue along the Via Bolgherese in the direction of Castagneto Carducci, and take a left onto the Traversa di Lamentano. Even the most experienced wine adventurer is advised to pull over upon reaching the Serni olive oil mill and give Marina Tinacci Mannelli a call.

Down a steep hill and across a ford, her estate, Mulini di Segalari has to be be seen to be believed. Planted every which way with vines, vibrant even post-harvest, this is a thriving valley of sustainability.

Following Tinacci around the former mill site is an education as the winemaker excitedly points out her just planted Sauvignon Gris, hands you Vermentino grapes to taste and chats about plans to welcome visitors for organic healthy lunches and ‘winemaker for a day’ experiences.

Step into the minuscule cellar where all the bottling and labelling is still done by hand.

Wines include 10,000 bottles of sea-breezy 100% Sangiovese Soloterra, and an expressive Vermentino and Manzoni Bianco white blend called Un po’ più su del Mare, as well as more typical Bolgheri blends.

Mulini di Segalari

Podere Castellaccio

Still in the Segalari area, but up on the hill and a cork’s throw from the hilltop town of Castagneto Carducci, Podere Castellaccio has some of the oldest vines and most mesmerising views in Bolgheri.

The 18ha estate has just 3.5ha under vine, organic Ciliegiolo, Foglia Tonda, Pugnitello and Sangiovese, plus a Cabernet Franc parcel as a concession to Bolgheri’s contemporary scene. Alessandro Scappini is boldly staying true to his grandfather’s native vineyards.

A dreamy place to holiday, the estate boasts six beautifully appointed suites and verdant views as far as the Mediterranean. Light pours in through the floor-to-ceiling window in the new tasting room, where cured meats and cheeses are served as an accompaniment to the elegant Dinostro, an approachable 100% Sangiovese; Valénte, an opulent, fruit-forward native grape blend; and the fascinating Somatico, a punchy pure Pugnitello.

Arrive here an hour before sunset and watch the Tuscan tramonto at its most seductive.

Podere Sapaio

Back down on the Bolgheri plain, organically certified Podere Sapaio has been shaping a cult following with its crown emblazoned labels since 1999. Start your visit at the unassuming enoteca and spacious modern cellars through the winery’s signature red gate off the main road in Donoratico.

Veneto-born Massimo Piccin explains his ethos of emphasising the land, vinifying and ageing each variety and parcel of vineyard separately and blending before returning the Sapaio Bolgheri DOC Superiore to the barrique for a final four or five months.

The €30 tour continues around the vineyards planted with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot before heading down the bucolic back lanes of Bolgheri to the (again) red-gated Podere. Enjoy a tasting of the terroir-driven Sapaio and Volpolo Bolgheri DOC in the stylish contemporary interior, or outdoors on the breezy patio gazing at the vines, a single fortress topping the distant hills beyond.

Campo alle Comete

Also on the flat, now under development but already open to visitors, Campo alle Comete is southern Italian standard-bearer Feudi di San Gregorio’s 2016 Bolgheri investment.

Previously owned by Guicciardini Strozzi, the circular cellar emanates a space-like atmosphere, standing like an observatory with its weathered steel finish, well signposted with sky-blue totems off the Via Bolgherese.

The barrique cellar carries on the astral theme, the ceiling scattered with tiny star-like lights, while the wine shop’s modern, bottle-lined walls give an introduction to the ambitious Campo alle Comete project: 15ha of international varieties, half of which is Merlot, with immediate plans to double the planted area.

The circular cellar at Campo alle Comete.


Climb up into the hills through the town of Riparbella to biodynamic boutique winery Duemani . Be swept away by the expanse of Cabernet Franc while sipping fine yet fresh wines in the just-opened airy tasting room.

Prima Pietra winery

Feel the sea breeze caress your face at the highest vineyard along the Tuscan coast with magical views of the Mediterranean on the horizon. This single, sweeping, verdant vineyard stretches below the Prima Pietra winery, owned by Massimo Ferragamo, son of the famous shoe designer. A refined tasting room on the first floor of the farmhouse is set to open in summer 2018.


Another expanse of greenery awaits at Caiarossa . The brick-red painted winery demands your attention on arrival and continues to captivate on the inside with the vertical, gravity-driven cellar built to feng shui principles. Find out about the producer’s biodynamic winemaking on a cellar tour with the young international team before tasting the cantina’s vivacious namesake wine, a seven-varietal blend.

See more Decanter travel guides to Italy

Originally published in the Italy supplement with Decanter magazine’s February 2018 issue. Edited for by Eleanor Douglas. 

Helen Farrell is editor-in-chief at the Florentine.

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Pape Clement owner Bernard Magrez attacked at home

Fri, 12/01/2018 - 17:19

Bernard Magrez, owner of several classified Bordeaux wine estates, has been attacked at his home but was physically unhurt and managed to untie himself and call police, according to reports.

Bernard Magrez in Bordeaux.

Magrez, owner of Château Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan and many other wine estates in France and worldwide, was assaulted in the early hours of Friday morning, between 3am and 4am, at his home in downtown Bordeaux, according to French newspaper Sud-Ouest.

Armed with a knife, a screwdriver and possibly a handgun, up to five men burst into the house and surprised the businessman.

Despite being tied up, Magrez was reportedly unhurt – other than being shaken by the ordeal.

In just a few minutes, the intruders took a collection of luxury watches, cash and other items before escaping from the scene in Magrez’s car.

At the age of 81, Magrez managed to escape from his ties at around 7am and call the police, Sud-Ouest reported. was unable to reach Magrez or his family today (12 January).

According to police, the thieves would have had to follow Magrez for several days and know the area before taking action. Officers were searching the premises for clues and fingerprints.

The break-in brings back memories of French wine collector Michel-Jack Chasseuil being briefly held hostage in his own home in 2014.

Alongside owning several Bordeaux wine estates, Magrez has also invested significantly in wine tourism in Bordeaux, including in his La Grande Maison restaurant and in support for the Cité du Vin wine cultural centre.

See also:

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Great value wines for the weekend under £20

Fri, 12/01/2018 - 10:00

This weekend why not try a wine made using biodynamic methods? See our selection of red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from around the world, all under £20...

Great value wines under £20

From Argentina’s Bodega Colomé to Ancre Hill in Wales, producers around the world are advocating the benefits of the biodynamic approach to winemaking. Can you taste the difference?

Our selection of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, are all under £20 and rated by the experts.

Find your favourite in the top 10 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 also look at our selection of supermarket wines.


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Coravin goes automatic with Model Eleven

Fri, 12/01/2018 - 09:01

Coravin is planning to release an automated version of its wine preservation gadget together with an app that can match wines with music.

Coravin Model Eleven.

Coravin demonstrated its automated ‘Model Eleven’ at the CES 2018 tech show in Las Vegas this week.

It works exactly the same as earlier models, in terms of its ability to extract wine from the bottle without pulling the cork, Coravin said.

But, the new version, which is set to cost nearly $1,000, has automated features to tell owners when the wine is ready to pour.

Once the needle has been pressed through the cork and into the wine, an LED system on the device will show a green light when the wine is ready to be poured.

Coravin Model Eleven can also connect via Bluetooth to a newly developed Coravin app, named Coravin Moments.

Coravin Eleven is set to cost $999.95 when it is released in September 2018, across the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.

Coravin partnered with Delectable, the app recently acquired by Vinous, to provide information on the wines for Coravin Moments, which will initially be available for download on Apple iOS mobile in September 2018.

The Moments app can also match wines with food and even your favourite song or film, as well as flag up when it is time to order replacement needles and argon gas capsules, Coravin said.

Argon, an inert gas, replaces wine poured from the bottle through the needle, helping to preserve the remaining wine by preventing too much contact with oxygen.

Coravin has become a regular fixture in many restaurants since its launch, helping sommeliers to serve more wines by the glass.

Long read: Coravin – Changing the way we drink wine


The post Coravin goes automatic with Model Eleven appeared first on Decanter.

Spot the difference: Tirage and dosage in Champagne – ask Decanter

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 17:01

Not sure what they mean? John Stimpfig explains...

Champagne before disgorgement.Difference between tirage and dosage

Ben Jenkins, Sidmouth, asks: What is the difference between tirage and dosage in the production of Champagne?

John Stimpfig replies: Both additions are key elements in the winemaking process for Champagne and all bottle-fermented sparkling wine.

Liqueur de tirage is a liquid solution of yeast, wine and sugar that is added to the still base wine in order to create the secondary fermentation in bottle. The amount of sugar determines the level of dryness in the wine as well as the atmospheric pressure in the bottle.

The dosage is the amount of sugar in the liqueur d’expedition (a mix of sugar and wine), which is added just after disgorgement.

This not only tops up the wine, it also helps balance the acidity and add sweetness – depending on the style (see below).

SEE ALSO: What’s the difference between ‘brut nature’ and ‘zéro dosage’? Why does my ‘extra dry’ Prosecco taste sweet? – ask Decanter

As all the yeasts have either been consumed or expelled at the point of disgorgement, there is no chance of a third fermentation in bottle.

Some Champagnes are now labelled as non-dosé, zéro dosage or brut nature (the official term), which means that no sugar was added to the liqueur d’expedition.

Brut Nature: no added sugar and less than 3 grams/litre of residual sugars

Extra-Brut: between 0g/l and 6g/l of residual sugars

Brut: less than 12g/l of residual sugars

Extra Sec/Extra Dry: between 12g/l and 17g/l of residual sugars

Sec/Dry: between 17g/l and 32g/l of residual sugars

Demi-Sec: between 32g/l and 50g/l of residual sugars

Got a question for Decanter’s experts? Email us: or on social media with #askDecanter

The post Spot the difference: Tirage and dosage in Champagne – ask Decanter appeared first on Decanter.

Marqués de Riscal: Impeccable contemporary quality founded on old know-how roots

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:34

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Founded in the mid-18th Century, Marqués de Riscal is steeped in tradition...

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Marqués de Riscal: Impeccable contemporary quality founded on old know-how roots

Founded in the mid-18th Century, Marqués de Riscal is steeped in tradition, being one of the proudest and oldest wineries in Spain, yet it has never rested on its laurels, always keeping an eagle eye on the future; an outlook arguably exemplified no better than its stunning, Frank Gehry-designed winery – a ground-breaker of its time – and it is also being responsible, in 1995, for the introduction of the very first grape-sorting table in Rioja.

‘For Marqués de Riscal, the vine is one of the main keys in achieving unique, fine quality wines with a high degree of typicity,’ says its President Alejandro Aznar. ‘This is not something that we are doing just now, it’s something we have always done: making quality wines.’

Riscal keeps pushing onwards and upwards, encapsulated by its new, limited edition rosé (only around 5.000 bottles are produced each year) which is a blend of old, ungrafted Garnacha and Tempranillo, produced from the natural, first bleed of free-run must from the grapes soon after they are placed in tank. Rosé has long since been seen a wine just for spring and summer, but today it’s a wine for all seasons, and this example takes it to another level.

‘We have chosen healthy, ungrafted vines over 80 years old, planted on sandy, gravelly terraces high above the River Duero valley in Toro,’ says Luis Hurtado de Amézaga, Technical Manager of Marqués de Riscal’s property in Rueda where this wine is crafted. ‘The idea is to make a much more serious version of a rosé wine and that is why we are using one of our best vineyards.’

‘These sandy soils helped protect this land from phylloxera, but also assist in allowing the water to drain away and allow us to cultivate the vines following organic methods. The vines are bush vines and the yields are low and are always picked by hand.’

‘The important thing is to know the type of wine you want to make and then find the ideal raw material,’ says Aznar. ‘And that’s what has happened with Marqués de Riscal Viñas Viejas rosé: the search for the land and the vines which could bring the greatest character to the wine and highlight the essence of the Garnacha and Tempranillo varieties.’

‘The Garnacha and Tempranillo varieties combine perfectly to produce a fresh, round mouth-feel,’ says Hurtado de Amézaga. ‘The Garnacha brings freshness, good acidity, floral notes and low colour intensity. The Tempranillo provides body and structure, as well as red-berry fruit and greater depth of colour. The result is an “a-typical” rosé wine, with rare length and great complexity on the palate.’

In an intriguing twist, after the wine is fermented, fine lees from Sauvignon Blanc – one of the hallmarks of Rueda – are added. ‘We have taken advantage of our Rueda winery to give this wine distinctive ageing,’ says Hurtado de Amézaga. ‘This lees ageing brings greater character to the wine; making it creamier, improving its structure on the palate and simply giving it more personality. The Garnacha and Tempranillo combine perfectly to produce a fresh, round mouth-feel, but with the fruit aspects heightened by those few months in contact with the Sauvignon Blanc lees; an innovative approach in the production of a rosé.’

Marqués de Riscal says that Viñas Viejas is a wine which contains the purest essence of the Garnacha and Tempranillo varieties, and in producing it has sought to look back, recall its winemaking tradition but at the same time make a state-of-the-art wine; impeccably representing its ongoing virtues and values.

‘Make no mistake,’ states Hurtado de Amézaga. ‘The fruit in this wine is good enough to make a great red wine, but we’ve used it to make a rosé!’

The post Marqués de Riscal: Impeccable contemporary quality founded on old know-how roots appeared first on Decanter.

The cru-isation of Barolo

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 13:03

The trend towards ‘cru’ bottlings in Barolo is a thorny issue. Michaela Morris explores the background to the designation of these areas and picks out 18 shining examples...

Vietti vineyards

It’s easy to get lost in the hills of Barolo, especially when the fog rolls in. Spellbinding as it is disorienting, Barolo’s convoluted landscape is best demonstrated by dizzying hand gestures only Italians have perfected.

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The post The cru-isation of Barolo appeared first on Decanter.

Anson: The women who shaped Bordeaux

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 09:00

Jane Anson looks at the central role played by women throughout the history of Bordeaux wine and identifies a few key figures.

Château Haut-Brion.

Nothing annoys me more than the charge against Bordeaux that it is simply a dusty old boy’s club, made for and drunk by the smug lunch crowd in the world’s board rooms.

And yet still the image persists. So, in keeping with the conversation happening in many industries at the start of 2018, I’ve started to assemble a list of some of the women who have earned their own place at the table over the years.

Not just the highest profile figures like Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (Mouton), Corinne Mentzelopoulos (Ch. Margaux), May-Eliane de Lencquesaing (Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande), Florence Cathiard (Smith Haut Lafitte), all formidable women in charge of major estates who have influenced the course of Bordeaux in the 20th and 21st centuries, but also some of the lesser-known names along the way.

Feel free to add others in the comments section below this article.

Eleanor of Aquitaine, obviously

Okay, I know, almost too easy. But also rather cheering to think that without this woman, there would be no Bordeaux wine as we know it today.

Eleanor was the daughter of Guillaume X, the last Duke of Aquitaine, who married Henry Plantagenet of England on May 18, 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of her first marriage to King Louis le Jeune of France.

She was pretty much the wealthiest woman in France, and brought the lands of Aquitaine (and with them the vines of Bordeaux) as part of her dowry.

Henry and Eleanor had five sons and three daughters together, and their offspring would manage to keep Bordeaux in English hands for three centuries.

By the time the region returned to France, in 1453, the influence of the English market and its system of selling through brokers and merchants was firmly embedded.

Jeanne de Bellon

Château Haut-Brion is believed to be the first estate in the region to be sold under the name of the place where it was grown (before this, wine was sold under its regional identity such as Bordeaux, or perhaps Graves).

And women have been key throughout its history. We can place a woman called Johana Monadey as Seigneur at the time of the first record of 29 rows of vines in a place known as Aubrion back in 1436. But it was Jeanne de Bellon, daughter of the mayor of Libourne, who had the bigger role through her marriage to Jean de Pontac, the man who kick-started the estate as we know it today.

It was again through a dowry, as with Eleanor of Aquitaine – at the time of her marriage Jeanne owned plots of land around Aubrion. Once married, the couple convinced the Seigneur at the time, Jean Duhalde, to sell them the entire title and rights of Aubrion in 1533 for 2,640 francs.

Jeanne may have been only the first of Jean’s three wives (he managed 15 children between them all), but her marriage gift kick-started the rise of the world’s first wine brand.

Over half of the current vines of Haut-Brion were planted under de Pontac, parts of the current château were built by him, and by the time of his death Haut-Brion was firmly on its way to creating a new category of quality wine.

Caroline de Villeneuve

The 1855 classification is widely recognised today as the world’s preeminent wine ranking, but at the time it was barely expected to make a blip on the radar, as there had been several rankings beforehand and others were expected to follow.

Most owners didn’t even bother sending bottles up to Paris to be exhibited.

There was, however, one notable exception, in the form of Caroline de Villeneuve.

Owner of Château Cantemerle in the 19th century, she was the woman responsible for getting the estate its 1855 listing. Apparently, Villeneuve had been selling the wine direct for many years, mainly in the Netherlands, but had chosen in 1854 to hand over the commercial responsibilities to the Place de Bordeaux.

When she found out that they had left her off the Paris list just 12 months later, she was furious, and insisted on meeting with the union of brokers who were responsible for deciding which chateaux made the cut.

The meeting took place in September 1855, and by the end of it, Cantemerle was added as a fifth growth (you can see the result on the original document, with Cantemerle in different hand-writing from the rest).

Madame Marie-Louise Labat

Forever known simply as Madame Labat, this woman gave us Petrus as we know it today – and in no small part in doing so gave the entire Pomerol appellation its figurehead ad its kickstart to glory. The estate had already won a few awards in the late 19th century in Paris, but it was under the indefatigable Madame Labat that it really took its place as a legend of Bordeaux.

From her first purchases of shares in Petrus in 1923 until she bought the entre property in 1929, and then right through until the end of her life in 1961, aged 85, she ensured it was drunk by all the right people and seen in all the right places.

I have to borrow Neal Martin’s description in his brilliant Pomerol book for this bit, because you don’t want to miss Alain Raynaud’s description of her as ‘the most sophisticated lady in Bordeaux.

‘She was always very well dressed, having her hair done each week, never seen without one of her beautiful hats, and she was always in make-up… She was the personality of Pomerol and the first person to market her Pomerol wine. Every time there was a royal wedding in Europe, she would send cases of Petrus as a gift and attend the ceremony’.

There is no doubt that the contract she signed by Jean-Pierre Moueix to distribute the wines in the 1940s gave it the final boost, but Madame Labat should rightfully be seen as the patron saint of Pomerol.

Gaby Faux

Women all over Bordeaux were of course vital in keeping the vineyards running during the Second World War.

But Gaby Faux as bookkeeper at Château Lafite-Rothschild went above and beyond. Here I owe the story to Don and Petie Kladstrup in Wine and War, who recount how Madame Gaby, as she was known, lived at Lafite and for much of the war hid some of the most sacred objects from Paris’ Great Synagogue under her bed and in her bathroom to protect them from the German troops who were billeted in the château.

She also hid many of the most precious bottles, including the infamous 1797, in the cellars of neighbouring châteaux. And even more dangerously began doctoring the books, carefully transferring ownership of Lafite’s wines away from the elder generation of Rothschilds who had escaped from France, to the brothers Alain and Elie who were prisoners of war – because she knew that their property was therefore protected under the Geneva Convention and could not be touched by the Germans.

As Lafite celebrates in 150th anniversary under Rothschild ownership in 2018, let’s hope they (and anyone who has bought old Lafite at auction) raise a glass to Gaby Faux.

Madame Jeanne Descaves

Head of Maison Descaves from 1925 to 1999, Jeanne Descaves was born on March 18, 1902, in Bergerac, the only child of mill worker Jean-Henri Nadal and Marie Baysselance.

In 1921, she married Jean Descaves, and the couple bought a négociant firm where Jeanne became the first woman wine merchant in Bordeaux. She continued there until her death aged 97 on December 25th, 1999.

Her presence may not have revolutionised opportunities for women in the merchant houses of Bordeaux (there are still only a handful in the really key roles), but she certainly played a huge part in ensuring Bordeaux châteaux spread into the world’s finest restaurants, as she specialised in old vintage Bordeaux for the on-trade.

And she also opened the door for one of the women who is taking Bordeaux into the future, Ariane Khaida, now head of Duclot merchant house but who began her career in Bordeaux as director at Maison Descaves.

‘My mother was a very strong woman, a fighter, yet very simple,’ said Madame Descaves’ daughter Daniele Dussert on her mother’s death.

‘She did not like to be seen but preferred to remain in the shadows. She did not want any honours, but she deserved them.’

Diala Younes-Lavenu

Dany Rolland may be the highest profile female oenologist in Bordeaux, alongside perhaps Valérie Lavigne, author of a groundbreaking study on premature oxidation in white wines.

But just this week Diala Younges-Lavenu has become the first woman to be elected as president of the Oenologists Association of Bordeaux – a group that counts 450 members.

Originally from the Lebanon, Younes-Lavenu began her career working at Chateau Kefraya in the Bekaa Valley before moving to France in 2008, and is hoping to use her background to foster closer links with the Bordeaux oenology schools and international institutions.

Laure de Lambert Campeyrot

What’s the toughest challenge in Bordeaux today? It just might be Sauternes, once loved by Tsars and royalty and now overlooked by pretty much everyone.

Owner and technical director at Château Sigalas Rabaud, Laure de Lambert Campeyrot, is hoping to change that while also connecting with the other contemporary challenge of bringing Bordeaux to the low intervention party that is sweeping wine right now.

She’s doing this by retaining her best terroirs for a reduced production of the classic sweet wine, while expanding a dry white production with La Demoiselle de Sigalas and the 100% dry Sémillon La Sémillante.

And introducing new styles such as the zero sulphur No 5 de Sigalas Rabaud (in fact shortly to undergo a name change, because some tiny perfume company objected to the first one…).

This is just gently sweet  (around 60g/l of residual sugar compared to 120g/L for the main Sauternes) with just a touch of CO2 for a soft spritz.

With this she joins Berenice Lurton, who is also re-imaging sweet Bordeaux with her stunning, low intervention biodynamic wines over at Château Climens in neighbouring Barsac.

Two women who just might be pointing the way to the future of this too-often-forgotten corner of Bordeaux.

Read more Jane Anson columns on here

The post Anson: The women who shaped Bordeaux appeared first on Decanter.

Aglianico in Campania

Wed, 10/01/2018 - 16:08

Susan Hulme MW profiles the best areas and producers of one Italy's oldest grapes. Plus see her top 12 Campania Aglianico wines, available exclusively to Decanter Premium members.

Aglianico in Campania
  • Scroll down to see the ratings and tasting notes, available exclusively for Premium members

Aglianico is one of the world’s great grape varieties. It is certainly one of Italy’s three top-quality red grapes, along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. If Barolo and Barbaresco, Brunello and Chianti are northern and central Italy’s vinous odes to greatness, then the Aglianico of Taurasi is certainly Italy’s southern counterpart. A great grape must have several features.

These include an historical pedigree; the intrinsic qualities of the variety itself; the ability to produce wines that can age; and the ability to express differences of location or to transmit terroir. Mastroberardino is historically the most important Taurasi producer, with a family history going back to the mid-1800s – for many years it was the lone defender and champion of Aglianico.

‘Its origins are very ancient,’ explains Piero Mastroberardino, who believes that the introduction of Aglianico to Campania can be traced back to ancient Greek settlements in the south of Italy, in around the 6th or 7th century BC. Even the name is said to have Greek origins, being a corruption of Vitis Hellenica (Greek vine). Whatever its origins, Aglianico is undoubtedly one of Italy’s oldest grape varieties.

Article continues below wine reviews. See the tasting notes and ratings Place and personality

Mastroberardino gives a description of the variety’s special qualities. ‘The particular values of this ancient variety are the great polyphenolic and aromatic qualities, as well as the acidity level, which is generally higher than in other red grape varieties,’ he says, adding that this gives ‘increased longevity’. I recently tasted a selection of several 20-year-old Taurasi wines from the mid-1990s which, unbelievably, still seemed a little too youthful. Indeed, Mastroberardino still shows wines going back as far as the 1950s and 1960s which have the freshness and tenacity of much younger wines. These are truly some of the longest-lived wines in Italy.

Piero Mastroberardino

Aglianico can be found in Molise, Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and Basilicata (home of Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG), but it is in Campania where it finds many of its best expressions. There are two DOCGs here: Taurasi DOCG (established 1993) and Aglianico del Taburno DOCG (since 2011), and there are also a multitude of smaller DOCs in which it features, usually as a single variety but also blended with other local varieties such as Piedirosso.


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Tasting Gallica: Elegant Napa Cabernet

Wed, 10/01/2018 - 16:06

Tina Gellie takes a look at Gallica, a personal project of former Spottswoode winemaker Rosemary Cakebread.

Designs for Gallica wine labels were inspired by Japanese ink prints.

Rosemary Cakebread has built up a reputation for producing wines characterised by great restraint and elegance, even in opulent years like 2013.

It’s a theme that runs through every aspect of her work – the Gallica project is named after the French rose, and the labels are inspired by Japanese ink prints.

The winery was founded in 2007, following her nine-year tenure as winemaker at Spottswoode between 1997 and 2006.

The original intent of Cakebread’s Gallica project was to focus on Syrah and Grenache, but her portfolio has since diversified thanks to her experience at Spottswoode with Cabernet as well as the quality of the estate vineyard in St Helena and of the bought-in grapes from long-term contract growers.

Her wines now encompass Bordeaux and Rhône varietals, Petite Sirah and, most recently, Albariño.

But Cakebread is best known for her Cabernet Sauvignon. The first commercial vintage was in 2009, from estate and contract fruit in Oakville, Coombesville and St Helena, becoming a single vineyard wine in 2011 when the Oakville Ranch Vineyard was certified organic.

The first four vintages were heavily Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant (96% in 2011), yet Cakebread felt that the splash of Petit Verdot ‘didn’t bring much to the party’ and dropped it in 2012.

The portion of Cabernet Franc then increased to 25%, thanks to her self-confessed love affair with the grape – so much so that she has even bottled some as a varietal wine.

Continue reading below: Gallica Cabernet Sauvignon to try:


Cakebread’s modus operandi

‘I like to pick early,’ says Cakebread. ‘2010 was the coolest vintage we’ve had, and 2011 the wettest. I’m grateful we were on the Oakville plateau in those years, because the grapes wouldn’t have ripened on the valley floor.

‘But you taste these wines now and they are so elegant, graceful and balanced thanks to long, cool growing seasons. If I could guarantee a style of wine like that every year, I’d put up with those weather conditions and disease pressures!’

‘I’m not a lover of 100% new oak; we stay between 65% and 70%. I’m not a fan of heavy toasting either, preferring medium, maybe medium-plus. We’ve always used Ana Sélection, Atelier, Taransaud and Darnajou for our French oak barrels’.

Related Content:

The post Tasting Gallica: Elegant Napa Cabernet appeared first on Decanter.

Decanter team New Year’s wine resolutions

Wed, 10/01/2018 - 13:30

Have you dropped your New Year's resolutions yet? See the wine goals that several Decanter team members have set for themselves for 2018, from 'drinking smarter' to visiting the wine regions of China and Georgia...

What new heights of wine knowledge could you reach this year?

Do you have any wine-related New Year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comment section below this article.

Decanter team’s New Year’s resolutions John Stimpfig Editorial

My main wine resolutions for 2018 are probably not that dissimilar to 2017 – namely to be more disciplined in pulling corks on mature wines in my cellar and to drink more sweet wines generally.

Most recently I had two stunning stickies – both DWWA Golds in the form of Domaine Tourbillon from Swizterland and Baileys Liqueur Muscat from Glenrowan. This year, I’d love to visit Bierzo and certainly plan to drink a lot more Mencía, which has really come onto my radar in the last couple of years. I’d also like to spend some time in Piedmont, as it has been far too long since I was last there.

Vahan Agulian Tastings team

This year, like every year, maintaining good health is on the top of my list of resolutions. Dry January is all the rage in our current clime, but I’m going to drink smarter and look out for lower alcohol wines instead!  An 8% German Riesling can be as much as half the ABV in comparison to some big bold reds.

‘I’ve been itching to go to Georgia for years, because it’s been labelled the birthplace of wine!’ – Vahan Agulian

On top of that, I’ve been itching to go to Georgia for years, because it’s been labelled the birthplace of wine! Tasting the platinum DWWA award-winning MaranuliI Otskhanuri Sapere leapfrogged any other plans to go and explore their unique wines and grape varieties. Furthermore, I’ll be able to fulfil my penchant for Khachapuri, a cheesy style pizza that has a beautiful affinity to this wine.

Natalie Earl Tastings team

I would like to discover the enticing wines coming out of the Champagne region – that aren’t sparkling! Having recently tasted Olivier Horiot’s stony, briny, beguiling Coteaux Champenois Riceys Blanc En Valingrain 2010, it made me realise Champagne is not just about bubbles.

I’m going to be looking out for some real gems both from the rare Rosé de Riceys appellation and Champagne’s other still wine appellation, Coteaux Champenois, which can be red, white or rosé.

James Button Digital editorial & tastings

My 2018 resolution is to diversify my wine drinking. Not only do I want to buy more wines from exciting producers — such as David & Nadia Sadie in Swartland and Mac Forbes in Victoria — but also to enjoy older bottles in my collection, which I might otherwise be tempted to leave indefinitely or forget about. There’s no time like the present!

Is this the year to raid your cellar? ‘There’s no time like the present!’ – James Button

Simon Wright Tastings team

Taking my cue from the title of our venerable publication, in 2018 I will be making a concerted effort to decant more wines. I was reminded over Christmas how useful this can be, particularly with younger wines, when a 2014 Coonawarra Cabernet really started to express itself after some rather vigorous back-and-forth decanting. The added complexity and vibrancy you can achieve is easily worth the couple of minutes it takes to get results.

What’s more, I won’t even need to dust off the fancy vessel hiding in the back of my cupboard, using any old jug does the trick equally as well and saves on the (impossible) task of trying to clean/dry an actual decanter.

Ellie Douglas Digital editorial

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to eat out less, but better – and take better advantage of the exciting food scene in London. I tend to read all the restaurant reviews, and make an ongoing list in my head of ‘places I need to try’, but ultimately I never get round to trying them.‘s Ellie Douglas plans to hit more London wine bars, like Blanchette in Soho perhaps?

This year the list will be a physical one, so that I can tick them off, or just set myself a monthly target.


Sylvia Wu

Over the past two years, my studies towards the WSET Diploma have introduced me to a universe of alcohol styles, including fortified wines and spirits, which I had hardly encountered before. In the new year I’d like to gain more in-depth knowledge on these high alcohol beverages.

I would also love to explore more New World regions in California and Australia — and of course the up-and-coming wine regions of China. In 2017 I had a fascinating trip to Ningxia with our columnist Jane Anson; Xinjiang will be the next on my list!

Related articles:

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12 exciting Argentinian wines under £25

Wed, 10/01/2018 - 13:00

Decanter's Tasting team pick out 12 Argentinian wines under £25, including a barrel-fermented Torrontes and not one, but two, Amarone-inspired reds...

Exciting Argentinian wines to seek out

Argentina’s reputation for high quality Malbec can sometimes draw the focus from the diverse set of wines being produced in the country.

Variety of terrain, from floodplains to mountain heights, has allowed a wide range of other exciting grapes to flourish, and more and more quality examples are available reasonable prices.

Malbec is represented below – how could it not be? – but there are also wines from several other varieties to seek out. All the wines were tasted by Decanter‘s expert tasting team.


Related content:

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UNESCO world heritage wine regions to visit

Tue, 09/01/2018 - 16:00

How many wine regions on the UNESCO list have you ticked off? Here is some inspiration for 2018, with links to full travel guides compiled by our contributors and in-house editorial team...

The remote island of Pantelleria joined the UNESCO World Heritage club in 2014.

Updated 09/01/2018


Getting there: One hour drive from Paris or 40 minutes on TGV train from Paris Gare du Nord.

Riddling racks in the Krug cellars in Champagne. Credit: Krug.

Champagne came oddly late to the UNESCO World Heritage list; its vineyards, houses and miles of underground cellars making the exclusive club in 2015.

It has arguably also been a little slow to consider the potential of wine tourism, given that it lies barely an hour from Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world.

But, things are changing in this part of the world and several houses are well worth a visit.

Decanter contributor and Tyson Stelzer recently shared his tips on where to go in Champagne.

At the November Decanter Fine Wine Encounter in London, Laura Seal also asked several Champagne producers and representatives for their favourite local restaurantsWords: Chris Mercer.


Tokaj, Hungary

Getting there: Fly to Budapest, then it’s a three-hour drive to Tarcal via the M3 motorway. A direct train from Budapest Keleti station to Tokaj takes 2.5 hours.

Tokaj vineyards of Oremus Estate. Credit: Hans-Peter Siffert / Bon Appetit / Alamy

Hungary’s Tokaj appellation, characterised by its rolling and verdant hills, has the distinction of being Europe’s first classified wine region. The thousand-year-old winemaking traditions that still remain in place today make it an obvious choice for UNESCO world heritage designation.

Home to the famous Tokaji-Aszú dessert wine (characterised by French King Louis XIV as ‘the wine of kings, the king of wines’), it is also noteworthy for its labyrinthine cellars where these historic sweet wines are stored.

The Ungvári cellar in Sátoraljaújhely, near the Slovakian border, comprises four floors which connect 27 different cellars, accessed from different, above-ground gates. Covered in extraordinary mould, the cellar labyrinth is one ingredient that contributes to the magic of these dessert wines. Words: Katie Kelly Bell


Loire Valley, France

Getting there: Fly to Paris-Orly and Sancerre is a two-hour drive. Alternatively, take a train from Paris to Tours. Saumur is then a one-hour drive west. Sancerre is a two-and-a-half-hour drive east from Tours. You can also fly to Tours.

Loire Valley is on the UNESCO list.

With its swathes of rolling vineyards and wheat fields surrounding palaces built or modified during the Renaissance, the Loire is a vivid testament to mankind’s golden age.

The UNESCO area of the Loire comprises 164 towns and villages – including Chinon, Samur and Angers – between the two hillsides that border the river from Sully-sur-Loire (Loiret) and Chalonnessur- Loire (Maine-et-Loire).

Many of the region’s charming villages and roadways are vestiges of the enormous Roman influence, as the Loire was a vital waterway between Rome and ancient Gaul. Words: Katie Kelly Bell


Douro Valley, Portugal

Getting there: Fly to Porto. One-hour drive to the heart of the valley, or a more scenic route is the 2.5 hour train ride, known as the Linha do Douro.

An opulent manor in the homeland of Port… Image Credit:

Demarcated in 1756, the Douro is one of the world’s oldest wine regions and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the human influence on its development. More than 2,000 years of winemaking have shaped it into a terraced, vine-covered, wine-producing destination.

The highly acidic terroir is unforgiving schist, which winemakers have physically cracked and crushed to accommodate vines. Steep mountain contours require heavy terracing and water management; some vines have roots that run to 20m deep. Growing grapes here requires rare fortitude. Words: Katie Kelly Bell


Piedmont, Italy

Getting there: Fly to Turin. It’s then around 1hr 20 minutes in a car to Alba.

Autumnal sunrise in heartlands of Barolo in Piedmont’s Cuneo province. Federica Violin / Alamy.

The World Heritage Committee added the ‘vineyard landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato’ in 2014.

The listing includes the towns of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello and Serralunga d’Alba in the Barolo DOCG, as well as Barbaresco and Neive in the Barbaresco DOCG.

In its submission for Piedmont, Italy’s government said, ‘Vine pollen has been found in the area dating from the 5th Century BC’. See how reported the story.


Middle Rhine, Germany

Getting there: Fly to Frankfurt or Cologne-Bonn airports and then it’s around 1hr 30 minutes in the car from each.

The Middle Rhine’s beauty is well-chronicled, but it gained UNESCO status for its role as a major trade artery in the evolution of history and human development.

Numerous hiking trails surround the villages, offering visitors magnificent vistas of vineyards and forested countryside. Riesling flourishes on the region’s precipitous hillsides but requires great care and skill during harvest (some slopes angle nearly 45˚).

The ideal way to explore the region, and certainly the most bucolic, is by boat. Consider making the village of Boppard your home base, a 2,000-year-old town that hosts an annual walk through the vineyards on the last Sunday in April. Words: Katie Kelly Bell

Bordeaux and St-Emilion, France

Getting there: Fly to Bordeaux Mérignac airport.

The Bordeaux skyline

Bordeaux hardly needs introduction to wine lovers. According to UNESCO, the city’s 2,000-year-old role as the capital of a world-famous wineproducing region make it a shining example of cultural heritage. And in many ways, the city is as lovely and intriguing as the region’s châteaux.

In the past decade most of the buildings (previously covered in layers of grime and soot) have undergone a massive façade-cleansing, lending added lustre to the city’s grand structures. Words: Katie Kelly Bell


Pantelleria, Italy

Getting there: Catch a ferry from Trapani in Sicily, which takes between six and eight hours. Alitalia operates flights from Trapani and Palermo – and also Milan and Rome in the summer months. A flight from Trapani takes about 40 minutes.

Pantelleria island bush vines. Credit: Italian ministry of agriculture

Looking for somewhere more remote to explore or get away from it all? The wild card entry in this selection is Pantelleria, 85km off Italy’s southern coast.

Its terraced bush vine growing technique handed down through centuries of generations was placed on the UNESCO world heritage list in late 2014.

Passito di Pantelleria, a sweet wine made from dried ‘Zibibbo‘ grapes, also known as Muscat of Alexandria, has DOC status in Italy. Moscato di Pantelleria is also a DOC.

Let us know here or tweet us @Decanter if you have been to any of these regions. What did you do there? Did any particular wines stand out?

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