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Monthly Archives: December 2009

  • Lebanese Carmenere

    LOGO_Kefraya_smallThis week between Christmas and New Year traditionally is a bit of a quiet one for the trade (obviously not in terms of amount of product consumed by the public) with most suppliers and indeed colleagues on holiday and the last remnants of cakes left lying around the office starting to lose their appeal. One of the few interesting notes to drop into my inbox today was the news that Chateau Kefraya, our partners in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, are replanting large tracts of their vineyards. They say "New plantations were carried on by the introduction of new vines such as Cabernet Franc, Marselan and Carmenere; they were grown on a training system in order to keep on increasing our qualitative ambition." Marselan? Big news in Beirut, if not here in blighty; but I do like the sound of Lebanese Carmenere - could be just the grape for that dusty, hot climate... Watch this space.

  • Tasting notes & web alerts

    Web alerts are a very modern phenomenon. In one sense they are very helpful, as they keep us posted of mentions of our wines from around the world. As you obviously can't read everything that's being written,they serve as an 'at a glance' summary of coverage. They are also responsible for stumbling across some pretty unusual notes. Here's one from which caught the eye - it's Domaine Cuilleron's St Joseph L'Amarybelle: "I've never tasted such a tannic wine. Spicy peppery taste kicks in but not as powerful as the tannins. Velvety, oily structure slowly rolls down the tongue but right before the end of a sip viscosity disappears and alcoholic heat sweeps through your mouth like a napalm through Vietnam movies. This John Wayne meets Rambo wine is perfect for hard food during winter evenings. You may as well eat rocks with it. If you cannot chew them Cuilleron's L'Amarybelle will do it for you. It is so intense, so masculine you might need to shave after you finish the bottle." At the same time, web alerts can't always distinguish between what's useful and relevant, and what isn't. As an example, I set up an alert for our latest NZ wine producer, Urlar. It transpires that Urlar is Irish for floor. And it means something (haven't been able to establish exactly what) in Uzbekistani, so we get quite a few mentions there. It also appears to be a musical term related to Piping, in particular Piobareachd, the 'classical music of Highland piping'. So you can imagine we get a fairly varied selection of web stories relating to Urlar. It will take time for search engines to learn to auto-refine their results for relevance. It's wonderful to have access to all this information, but there aren't enough hours in the day for reading bagpipe forums in Uzbekistani.

  • Christmas wines - what to drink

    I have been canvassing m'learned colleagues on their festive season choices. Here are a few responses - may give you an idea if you're looking for something different this year. Harry says: “With all the family (18 of them!) the Henriot 96 will be cracked open to lighten hearts and accompany nibbles such as salmon, with a touch of dill of rye bread. Once the turkey and goose are on flight to the table the wines will be served. Dreams from Jermann is 100% Chardannay and a lovely accompaniment with goose and for people who want to drink white. Volnay, Domaine J & H Boillot, a red Burgundy (Pinot noir) for turkey and red wine lovers. Now onto the cheeses, it has to be both Amarone from Bertani and/or vintage Port. Then, a family quiz happens (but never totally completed) but this argument, I mean quiz, will be a great time for the family to sample the weird and wonderful 1991 Mortlach Planeta Whisky [more on that story here], finished in Nero d’Avola casks from Planeta, which will help digest a great Christmas lunch.” Meanwhile Tim, buyer for France has a couple of gallic suggestions " How about Fleurie Poncié 2008 from Domaine du Vissoux with the turkey and some Pacherenc Arricau Bordes 2006 with the pud?" Whilst Daniel, his New World counterpart,reckons that "There is only one wine this year to accompany turkey, goose, duck or ham - Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz!!!" (Although he's going to be in South Africa so not sure how he's arranged that.) Edgar has a mouthwatering lineup: 2004 Jean Boillot Volnay 1er Cru Les Chevrets x1 2000 Barolo Sori’ Ginestra Conterno Fantino x1 2008 Peter Lehmann Barossa Semillon x2 2004 Bourgogne Rouge Domaine Dugat Meanwhile Kate is heading back home to the Barossa, where they'll be having "a glass or two of Sparkling Shiraz, naturally!"

  • Prosecco - the rules

    LABEL-0764From the 1st of August 2009 all Prosecco will be protected both within and outside the EU. Producers making Prosecco from outside DOCG and DOC areas will have to use the alternative name for the grape, Glera on their label instead of Prosecco. Meanwhile the actual delimited Prosecco zones also change. The two territorial changes are: a) The old DOC area of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene will become DOCG b) The old IGT area will expand into Friuli and Veneto and will become DOC. The new DOC area will come into force in January 2010 and the new DOCG area will be implemented on the 1st April 2010. The new DOC area is likely to come under pressure since the new law has (rightly) diminished the yields from 20 tons to 12.5 tons per Ha. The new enlarged area does not yet have Prosecco vineyards in production but in the last few months there has been a huge amount of activity mainly involving the grafting of Prosecco onto Merlot vines. Production is expected to begin over the next couple of years.

  • Ginger here

    Enotria's very own 'grow your own' specialist, Daniel Hart, reports on his efforts to produce home made ginger (for home made ginger beer, natch!) "I like pushing boundaries, people tell me you can't ripen red grapes in this country so I've got a Cabernet Sauvignon vine at home scheduled to come into production next year. I planted some ginger tubours this year too, a generally futile habit I have of trying to grow the exotic in the East Midlands. The long, read like leaves all got burned in the recent frosts, so I dug up the roots to see what was going on - great big, juicy, fiery spiced ginger tubours is what! More than I need for a few weeks spicing of stir fries and fish pies (thank you for that recipe, Jamie), so what to do? Ginger Beer? "No idea how to make the stuff, but guessing that the principles of macerating and fermenting grapes should be transferrable, I peel the skins off, dice up the roots and boil for half an hour, blend up the solids, dilute to fill a glass fermentation vessel and adjust the sugar levels to an eye watering potential alcohol to balance the sweet and intensely spicey, mouth tingling flavours of the freshest ginger. Now, how to start fermentation? There's no natural yeast growing on the skins, and I discarded them anyway to feed the chickens a warming winter treat... "Normaly before vintage, I'd prepare all my tools, sterilise and check for problems, and get all my yeasts and additions ready to go, when it's time to pick and ferment, you can't hang around. But now it's the middle of December and I'm completely unprepared - no yeasts. Like all winemakers though, every problem has a solution. This years Cyder is nearing the end of its ferment, so there's still a few live, local, apple yeasts clinging on to the last few grams of sugar. I take a cupfull of the Cyder and blend it into a glass of the unfermented ginger, then warm until the yeasts start feasting on the new sugars and nutrients. When I'm certain the yeasts are revived, I pitch the new culture into the ginger liquid, close with an airlock and hope for the best..." more on this as we get it... (two days later) "I racked the fermenting juice off the ginger solids last night and dared a first taste... It's powerful, precise and fiery as hell. Alongside the spicy kick there's a knockout alcoholic punch - will definitely need some sweetness to balance the aggression!" Dan

  • Bodega Santa Ana

    sanalogoAt over 110 years old, this Bodega is one of South America's longest established. Santa Ana has picked up over 100 international awards in the past 25 years, and they have an enviable clutch of vineyards high in the Andean foothills.

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