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  • Vintage Down Under with d'Arenberg

    Earlier this year we bid farewell to our e-commerce superstar Olivia, as she set sail for the land Down Under and a once-in-a-lifetime vintage experience with d'Arenberg in McLaren Vale. Before harvest kicks-off, and her hands are well and truly dirty, we checked in with Liv to find out more about her exciting adventure.

     

    What made you want to apply for vintage work experience?

    After a couple of years working in the wine industry back in the UK – and coming from a non-wine background initially – I thought it was about time I took a not-so-small trip to get an understanding of what a real vintage is all about, and what exactly happens Friday at 5 glass of wine gets poured!

    Olivia-Chester

    What made you choose d’Arenberg?

    I’m a sucker for label design, and easily won over by a bit of sunshine!

    What are the top three things you’re hoping to get out of the experience?

    • Winemaking: I want to learn more about the winemaking process, and gain a better understanding of the time, effort and processes that go into a bottle (aka blood, sweat and tears?)
    • Tasting: Develop confidence in tasting; whether I learn this at work or not, SA has got to be a good place to start my wine education. McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, and Clare all in driving distance of one another – sounds like a pretty good way to spend a day off!
    • Knowledge: Better knowledge of varietals; what affects them in terms of viticulture and climate, and how this is reflected in the flavour profile and characteristics when I drink a glass of wine.

    I’m also looking forward to being part of a vintage team in general. I’ve been warned how much hard work it can be, but I’ve never met a person who hasn’t recommended doing it, so that has to be a good sign!

    liv What have you been up to so far?

    Tastings, watermelon catapults, kangaroo spying, confined space training, winery tours…so far so good!

    This is just the start of Olivia's vintage journey, and we're sure we'll be hearing more from her as the days roll on. You can follow Olivia’s travels on Instagram @darenbergwine or at @100daysaway. After McLaren Vale, she'll be setting off for New Zealand to lend a hand in the vineyard at Carrick Wines in Central Otago.

  • When East meets West

    “Food matching is all about taking risks and thinking outside the box,” says Enotria&Coe Wine Director, Direu Vianna Junior MW.

    Last Wednesday we were able to bring this sentiment to life, with an event for a select group of customers, pairing a prestigious line-up of sparkling and white wines from the North East of Italy, with the sophisticated, contemporary Japanese delicacies dished up at Sake no Hana.

    With an Italian portfolio and set of producers that are second to none – vibrant, interesting and classic in equal parts – we wanted to break down the pre-conceived idea that wines from the boot are best paired with Italian food.

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    Indeed, E&C’s Italian Director of Buying, Sergio De Luca, believes the freshness and diversity of Italian wines – in particular white varieties –  means they’re a perfect match for Japanese cuisine.

    “The fragrance and elegance of Japanese food, is extremely well complemented by Italian wines.

    “Rather than aromatic or spicy wines, this range of white wines from the North of Italy have a beautiful freshness and subtle fruit, which can be successfully explored through Sake no Hana’s dishes,” Sergio says.

    Wednesday’s tasting journey began with Ruggeri, one of our most historic suppliers and a quality benchmark in the area. The success of Prosecco has opened the door to other sparkling wines from Italy, and next up we explored the most recognised bottle-fermented Italian wines from Ferrari. As for the whites, guests delighted in a selection of wines from Bertani and Anselmi in Venteto, to Colterenzio in Alto Adige and Jermann in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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    After tasting a bounty of impressive sparklers and whites – true expressions of their terroir and that capture the elegance of Italy – guests were treated to an array of inspired Japanese delicacies, including white miso soup with nameko mushrooms, sea bass sashimi, smoked duck breast, and tempura sushi.

    Interestingly, the concept of pairing Italian wines with Japanese food isn’t a foreign one for premium sparkling producer Ferrari.

    “Japan is a historic market for Ferrari, not only for the blanc de blanc, but also for the rosé. It works very well with sashimi, for example,” says Ferrari Export Manager Dean Lapthorne.

    “In Italy we don’t generally tend to pair our wines with Japanese food, but when it is done, people generally go for something like a Barolo, which is fine if you have a fish like salmon which is quite fatty, but if you’re having white sashimi these clean whites and sparklers are ideal.”

    Considering Ferrari’s President Matteo Lunelli’s favourite cuisine is Japanese – with a glass of bubbly on the side – it’s no surprise that Alfio Ghezzi, the chef at Ferrari’s two Michelin Star restaurant does experiment with some sashimi elements. 

    IMG_-mgvf5qTAKE FIVE: Tobias Brauweiler, Master Sommelier and General Manager at Sake no Hana

    What do you look for in a wine for your list at Sake no Hana?

    As with all of our restaurants around the globe, Asian food is very challenging to match, yet very exciting. We run a very selective wine program where all wines are challenged to the limits, and really need to perform on all levels in order to make it onto the wine list. At Sake no Hana we hold a monthly ‘Oshuban’ tasting, which identifies wines which do particularly well with sashimi. These wines have a special place on the wine list; they are unpredictable, follow no pattern, and surprise all of us every time.

    Why, as a Master Sommelier, do you believe intimate events with producers are important?

    It is always informative to attend a wine tasting in a big event space, but to get the best from the winemakers and their wines it needs to be intimate and almost one on one. These small, individual, focused tastings are important for the relationship between the customer or sommelier and the winemaker.

    Share with us the most rewarding part of your job.

    Being with people who appreciate the same good things in life. Good service, good food, and good wine.

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  • What to drink this Valentine's Day

    We all love an excuse to splurge on bottle of something special, and what better occasion than Valentine’s Day? Choosing the perfect tipple can be tricky, so to help you avoid the cluster of cliché drinks on offer, some of our talented wine and spirits buyers have selected a collection that are sure to spark the romance.

    Whether you’re all loved up, or foot-loose and fancy free, wine buyer Harriet Kininmonth has you sorted.

    The date – romantic, cosy dinner at home on a cold, winter’s night. I’m thinking roaring fire, candles, and all things hygge. Impress your loved one with a rich, silky and brooding Malbec, sure to warm the heart. The El Esteco Estate Malbec is the perfect choice – hailing from the oxygen-starved, high-altitude vineyards of the Cafayate Valley in Salta, Argentina, it’s packed with rich and concentrated flavours of coffee, blueberry and spice, but is as fresh as they come.

    The party – who says that only couples get to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself, invite some mates over and celebrate in style with a delicious bottle of boutique fizz from Spain. Franck Massard’s Mas Sardanas Cava Brut Nature is not your average cheap plonk from Spain. A hand-crafted, stylish, and premium fizz, drier than a prosecco and ideally paired with food – a girl’s gotta eat!

    For something slightly left of centre, and to spice things up a touch, spirits buyer Paul Hunter, nominates (with a generous lashing of tongue in check, mind you), the infamous tonic wine, Buckfast. “I like to drink two bottles of Buckfast every Valentine’s Day – it sets the tone appropriately for my romantic misadventures.”

    For those of you not in the know, Buckfast was first concocted by Benedictine monks in Devon, and is regarded as an aphrodisiac in the West Indies. However, it’s also recently gained a reputation as the drink of choice for debaucherous youths.

  • Australia Day Tasting 2017

    The annual Australia Day Tasting in London went off with a bang last month, with more than 1000 wines on offer from over 200 wineries, making it the UK’s biggest trade tasting of Australian wine to date.

    The tasting showcased the quality, diversity, and innovation of Australian wine, proving there's never been a more exciting time to be drinking and engaging with wines from Down Under.

    Victoria House, the new home for the London tasting, proved to be a huge success, creating a more curated and intimate feel to what was a robust, and extremely well-attended event with around 1200 guests passing through the doors over the course of the day.

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    With a great showing from our portfolio, guests delighted in everything from Henschke's iconic, fine wines and an innovative line-up from d'Arenberg, to new-wave artisan wines from Tasmania's Stargazer and a diverse range from Howard Park in Australia's west. The tasting was also Enotria&Coe's first oppourtunity to showcase the exciting new wines from Marchand & Burch, which were incredibly well received.

    Plus, with attending principals PJ from d’Arenberg and Sue from Howard Park on hand, guests could discover more about the wines and stories behind each.

    While ADT Edinburgh was a smaller affair than it's London sibling, it was still a rip-roaring success. Indeed, the quality wines on offer, glamorous setting of the Balmoral Hotel, and engaged bunch of attending customers proved to be a recipe for success.

  • A brief sojourn in Ribeauvillé

    For two days last week Jon, Elisa and Bérenger packed their bags and headed east to the picturesque Alsatian village Ribeauvillé, for their annual visit to Trimbach. Over the two days, the trio tasted more than 30 wines from the classic range all the way up to Grand Cru. Here, Bérenger gives us a sneak peak of what to expect from the 2014 and 2015 vintages.

    2014 will be remembered as a cool vintage in Alsace with lots of problems due to the insect Drosophila suzukii (an Asian fruit fly). Some growers in the region lost up to 30% of their crop to the pesky fly, which penetrates the skin of the grape and spoils the fruit. However, 2014 was an excellent vintage for Trimbach, particularly for their Riesling.

    The Trimbach wines we tasted showed a focused, linear character, with beautiful balance and purity. They have excellent ageing potenial and their minerality and freshness will help them to develop gracefully over time, although this does mean they’re quite austere to drink now. My favorite wine was the Riesling Selection de Vieilles Vignes – an elegant, vibrant and very stylish wine.

    The CFE and and Clos St Hune did not lack richness, but were also marked by great tension throughout and a very inviting saline finish. Although the fruit flies hurt the Gewürztraminer and the Pinot Gris grapes more, the Trimbach wines made from these varietals are marked by elegance, balance and a lovely aromatic range.

    2015 could not be more different from its predecessor. This was an easy vintage; warm and sunny, which allowed Trimbach to produce phenomenal wines. The only problem was the severity of the drought and the heat. The region only had rain in June and very high temperatures throughout early July. The rain in August really helped the vines, while September was warm and dry. Because of these extreme summer conditions, the picking timing was key. Alcohol progressed very quickly in September, with potential alcohols growing by as much as two degrees in some vineyards.

    The wines produced by Pierre Trimbach reflect the generosity of the summer season, and they’re expressive, ripe and sexy. Jean Trimbach likes to describe the wines from this vintage as “envoutants!” (mesmerising). Our Master of Wine Jon could not disagree with Jean’s comment!

    The Riesling wines made from the Grand Cru vineyards, including the CFE or Clos St Hune, are very concentrated indeed with a glycerol feel, which should integrate with time in the bottle, and is counterbalanced by a surprising high level of acidity. The Pinot Gris is showing some tropical exuberance, with some complexed truffley notes for the Reserve Personnelle. The Gewürztraminer is marked by an aromatic intensity, opulence and concentration for the Ribeaupierre cuvée.

  • Keeping up-to-date with Kooyong

    With vintage kicking off in a mere few weeks, we checked in with the team at Kooyong to see what they've been up to over the past couple of months.

    "September was cold and wet and the predicted La Niña did not fully eventuate. The cold weather continued throughout October and November and the soils remained cool for longer than usual, resulting in a flowering period which was almost twice as long as usual. At present our vines are approximately eight days behind usual phenology.

    "We managed our vineyards employing a mixture of undervine cultivation and mowing and used a plant-based organic certified herbicide. Disease pressure was quite high. We employed only organic certified pesticides. While the season presented us with challenges the diligence and hard work of the viticultural team ensured the health of our vineyards. Our knowledge of organic viticulture continues to evolve and will provide a strong foundation for future years.

    "We continue to produce our estate made compost and our fungal compost tea. Our efforts remain focused on nutrition and vine health and resilience."

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