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Monthly Archives: July 2014

  • Sun shines on Enotria Japanese producer

    In May Marks & Spencer became the first UK supermarket to list a Japanese wine, and it looks like the wine is set to become a summer hit with customers according to industry trade magazine Harpers and The Scotsman newspaper.

    In the last week, both publications recognised this rising star, with illuminating articles about Sol Lucet (meaning “the sun shines”), a wine made from Japan’s indigenous Koshu grape by the Kurambon winery. Harpers reported that the wine was ‘going down well’ with M&S shoppers and a representative of the popular retail chain said sales were "really good."

    In The Scotsman, Rose Murray Brown reviewed the wine, remarking first on its “very attractive label” and then on its “light floral nose, hint of citric fruits…crisp, lively acidity with lemongrass undertones.” She concluded that its delicate style would “suit those who prefer Muscadet to Montrachet.”

    M&S buyer Emma Dawson explained to Harpers how this fitted into their on-going initiative to match wines with food: “We selected this particular Koshu because it displays the grape variety really well, with dazzling lemongrass flavours that match brilliantly with sushi and Japanese food.”

    The Koshu grape thrives in the region of Yamanashi and its refreshing, mineral qualities are reported to be the result of the extremes of hot and cold and the areas volcanic soils. The grapes are farmed at the foot of Mount Fuji and are subject to an eccentric viticultural practice which involves shading the individual bunches of grapes from the sun with paper parasols.

    So, while the sun still has its hat on, maybe it’s time to learn a thing or two from the land of the rising sun and start drinking Koshu.

  • Portugal - the new Provence?

    Provence – has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?  Whether it’s St. Tropez and suntan lotion, or the idyllic back-to-nature lifestyle of ‘A Year in Provence,’ one thing’s for sure: the vision will be accompanied by lashings of pale pink rosé, matched with seafood on a yacht or with a herby ratatouille served al fresco with a backdrop of swaying fields of lavender.

    However, it’s the first image we are interested in here – St. Tropez - and the connotations of fashion and glamour. Hollywood doesn’t just come to Cannes to sell films anymore – some actors prefer to play the part of winemaker down the road in Provence. But could it be that the fashion, showbiz and glitz might be having an unforeseen effect on the making of rosé wines?

    Rosé has risen to new heights and it is now packaged as smartly as Champagne with marketing budgets to rival the grande marques.  The demand for paler and paler rosés, to be supped by the rich and famous, has turned rosé in to a cool commodity, but one that has confused impeccable taste with imperceptible flavour.

    This phenomenon was seen in the results of a rosé tasting conducted by Decanter in the current August edition of the magazine.  After their panel tasting of Côtes de Provence rosés, Jo Ahearne MW commented that “the fashion for super-pale, almost flavourless wines is stripping the wines of any varietal flavour.”

    Of course, Enotria could not be accused of sourcing such flavourless wines; our Château Gassier Le Pas Du Moine Rosé 2013 was placed in the Highly Recommended category. But when a Provence rosé is this good it doesn’t hang around for long and, even before the panel tasting results were announced, allocations were almost gone.

    With demand for pale and interesting Provence rosé outstripping supply, it’s good to know the canny wine consumer can find some treasures hidden in the most unlikely of places.

    One such unlikely place would be an area of Portugal traditionally more famous as the world’s biggest supplier of cork and previously only a source of bulk, government funded co-op wines for the unsophisticated tastes of the local farm workers. A far cry from St. Tropez it would seem.

    In recent years the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo, which covers one third of Portugal, has shaken off this reputation with the help of much needed investment that has seen modern winemaking  transform the wines from this hot climate into sophisticated, fresh reds, whites and rosés worthy of the glitterati.

    Ribafreixo’s Alentejo rosé certainly has a bit of glamour to it - it has the same slender clear bottles you would expect from a Provence rosé, a pale shimmering hue and its name - Pato Frio Cashmere rosé - adds a further touch of luxury.

    This company knows a lot about careful grape handling as they make mainly whites in this hot winemaking region, and it would be easy for the heat to cause the grapes to oxidise and stew. The stainless steel temperature controlled winery is ideal for whites, but is essential to attain the lightest colour rosé, without sacrificing flavour, from a robust red variety like the indigenous Touriga Nacional.

    So, if you want style and flavour, at a price that your customers will love, then widen the wine playing field and open up to Portuguese rosé.

  • Q&A with d'Arenberg's Chester Osborn

    d'Arenberg's Chester Osborn was in London and Edinburgh last week for a UK sales team tasting of 35 of his wines. We caught up with him during his busy schedule to ask a couple of questions.

    Chester, you’ve become a wine hero of Enotria’s sales force today: who is your wine hero?

    I nominate Jancis Robinson! I love Jancis! I love her humour, her palate, her sheer understanding of wine and especially her understanding of the ageability of wine. Most critics, and even winemakers, see only young wines as being good – big, powerful, fruity wines. But these wines have nowhere to go from there – most of my wines are meant to evolve...

    What’s your personal favourite grape or wine?

    Without a doubt, Nebbiolo is my favourite grape. It has length, minerality, fragrance and complexity. I really like the floral notes, the bright fruit character and the tannins. I love those ‘old library’ characters you get as it ages too.

    What’s your greatest achievement?

    I could say my kids, but I’m sure you mean with respect to my wines, don’t you? So, I guess it’s all I’ve learnt in the vineyards over the last 30 years. It’s nice to gain such experience that I now know exactly which vineyard has produced a certain wine.

    I really can argue now that there are very clear differences in ‘terroir’ or whatever you want to call it. There are real nuances that you can pick up in the fruit when comparing the smallest parcels of land. We’ve produced a range of single vineyard wines that will prove it!

    Yes, I understand you have 18 wines in your terroir-led range 'Amazing Sites.' Can you give me a word to sum up those nuances or key flavours?

    A word? That’s tough! Ok, here goes...

    The Fruit Bat – ‘elegance’ Little Venice – ‘dark pepper’ (whoops, that’s two!) The Sardanapalian – ‘lawn’ The Garden of Extraordinary Delights – ‘sooty’ The Swinging Malaysian - that’s easy: ‘Asian spice’ (oh no, that’s two words again!) The Vociferate Dipsomaniac – ‘violet’ The Eight Iron – ‘mineral’ The Piceous Lodestar – ‘earth’

    ...shall I go on??

    No, that’s pretty impressive! Ok, another question; your dad used to wear dress shirts to give ‘elegance to his reds.’ What do your shirts do for your reds?

    Haha – that’s a Len Evans quote! My wines get power and elegance from my shirts via some kind of osmosis. By power, I mean life and zest and by elegance I mean complexity, refinement, and uniqueness of detail. You know I design my own shirts don’t you?! Wine’s got to be about contrast and balance. A truly great wine, as opposed to a good one, combines balance, character and ageability. Look, these shirts are not just blowsy, they’re timeless – like my wines!

    What advice would you give to an aspiring winemaker?

    I’d highly recommend doing what I did in 1984. I went to Spain, Italy, Germany and France to learn the stuff you don’t learn at wine college. We visited four wineries a day for six months – it was a bunch of us Aussie winemakers and fine wine merchants. It was a real eye-opener. In Burgundy I learnt about 'fermenting on the solids' – it’s a method I still use today.

    Chester will be back in the UK for our Pioneers & Personalities events in September. Watch this space for details.

  • Dressing up for d'Arenberg

    This week Enotria was honoured to host Chester Osborn at their Park Royal HQ for a tasting of 35 of his vast portfolio of wines. As usual Chester provided fun and flamboyance, but it was the wisdom as well as the wit that the 50-strong sales force had come to hear. Chester's winemaking knowledge is inspirational and the four hour tasting session seemed to pass in a flash. Despite temperatures rising to 32 degrees Centigrade outside, the team showed no sign of fatigue, soaking up the information with aplomb and rinsing all the detail they could.

    Without waiting to catch breath, Chester was whisked off to Scotland to introduce his wines to the sales team north of the border. The event turned into a bit of a breather for Chester who treated the team to an intimate tasting in the cellar of top wine destination: Champany in Linlithgow near Edinburgh.

    The hotel and restaurant lives and breathes quality local produce and is home to one of Scotland's most impressive wine collections. Of course, Chester and his d'Arenberg brand were right at home in this environment but it was still refreshing to see this icon in awe of some of the legendary names that made up the restaurant's wine cellar.

    Over the two days the Enotria team learned about d'Arenberg's enviable range of wines and Chester's pursuit of the highest quality. The overall style of winemaking is what Chester calls 'minimal intervention' - a soon-to-be accredited organic method of winemaking that shows his passion for great wine and overriding respect for nature. In his mind there is good wine and there is great wine - great wine must be balanced and carefully structured to last the distance. With a partnership that has begun in such a way, it seems clear that Enotria and d'Arenberg are at the beginning of a great relationship.

  • Bowled over by MadFish in Bath & London

    Andy Murray’s Wimbledon outbursts may still be echoing in our ears and the tears of defeat still yet to dry on the faces of Brazil’s national team, but in Bath and London this week it was Enotria that had bigger fish to fry in the sporting event of the summer!

    On Monday and Tuesday, a little bit of Australian sunshine came to the cites of Bath and London when Burch Family Wines showcased their MadFish wine brand alongside a game or two of bowls.

    Day one saw the new generation of the Burch family, Richard and Natalie, in Bath, taking the group through a tasting of their cool climate MadFish wines as well as couple of stand-out wines from their iconic Howard Park range. The cool climate wines seemed apt as the heavens opened, forcing a short break in the set up. Even the sunny disposition of two members of one of Australia's First Families of Wine wasn’t quite enough to stop the rain, but the sun soon broke through the summer clouds in time for sandwiches, homemade chorizo sausage rolls, scotch eggs and pork pies, courtesy of Chandos Deli on George Street. The quintessential English picnic soon took on a continental feel as the traditional game of bowls was surplanted by French boules, a pastime that is increasingly à la mode. Twelve teams fought bravely in the boules battle on the pistes at Queen Square in Bath, with the winner going away with a magnum of Madfish.

    Day two, and the Enotria team transferred to London’s Hyde Park with English bowls on the agenda and an Aussie BBQ lunch of kangaroo sausages and the obligatory shrimp thrown grill-wards for good measure. The hotly contested tournament was eventually won by the­­­­ Enotrians, however, it was agreed by all that the real winners of the event were Richard and Natalie who had supplied the delicious wines for the teams, matched perfectly with the al fresco delights of the two days.

    With the teams bowled over by the wines, they skipped happily though the rain-washed streets of London with a warm Aussie glow around them, whilst poor Richard and Natalie have the prospect of returning to the idyllic Yallingup in Margaret River to make more excellent cool climate wines to keep up with demand. Guys, Enotria salutes you!

    Natalie

  • Mesquida Mora & Enotria - a natural fit

    Wine Buyer Harriet Kininmonth visited Mallorca recently to catch up with Barbara Mesquida on the eve of the release of her first natural wine, Acrollam Blanc 2013.

    Few Brits have returned from a trip to Mallorca without having felt the sand between their toes, but my trip was purely dedicated to learning more about our Mallorcan wine producer Mesquida Mora. The young and quirky Barbara Mesquida totally embodies Mesquida Mora and is behind every inch of the operation – from winemaking to sales to even rearing 20 chickens to provide fresh eggs for her vineyard workers. She is supported by a dedicated team which includes 4 Kilos’ winemaker Francesc Grimalt, who acts as her consultant.

    Despite Barbara representing the 4th generation of winemakers in her family, it was only in the 1980s that the Mesquidas truly started makingwaves on the Mallorcan wine scene. Her father Jaume Mesquida had a vision to be the first person to make a premium wine in Mallorca and this led to a fact-finding mission in France, where he learnt about winemaking techniques and the philosophy of wine. As a result, Jaume introduced stainless steel technology to the island and was the first to plant international varieties.

    In 1997, having studied winemaking at Sant Sadurní in Barcelona, Barbara returned to run the family winery with her brother. Eight years later, Barbara chose to carve her own path with a new project in the Plà i Llevant region which she called Mesquida Mora.

    Barbara’s relentless respect for nature is evident in every decision. Her original decision to follow Biodynamic vineyard practises was simply to instil good discipline in the vineyards. Today she is 100% committed to Biodynamic principles to reduce any negative impact on the environment. She has completely eliminated the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, replacing them with homeopathic remedies.

    Amongst other things, Barbara is planting apricot and cherry trees between the vines and will gradually cease training her vines, opting instead for the traditional free-standing bush vine system. This vine growing technique eliminates the use of machinery at harvest time as well as giving the grapes more shade from the hot Mallorcan sun. By protecting the fruit, sugar accumulation is efficiently managed, resulting in fresher wines with higher acidity.

    In 2013, Barbara took her dialogue with nature one step further by producing her white wines without added sulphites – a hands-off approach known as natural winemaking. Enotria is about to release Barbara’s Acrollam Blanc 2013 – their first listed natural wine. “Acrollam” is Mallorca spelt backwards – an ode to the fact that Mesquida Mora doesn’t do things by the book.

    It is a blend of 85% old vine Prensal (the local Mallorcan grape) and 15% Chardonnay. The Prensal derives from two single vineyards in the Porreres and Felanitx villages in the south central part of Mallorca. The wine is truly unique – delicate yet with notable structure. The character is quite saline and mineral with subtle citrus and tropical fresh fruit, white flowers and an earthy undertone.

    Whatever your opinion on Biodynamics or natural wines, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Mesquida Mora’s Acrollam Blanc 2013 is a very special wine.

     

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