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Monthly Archives: June 2017

  • Peller Icewine Cocktail Competition

    We love Icewine. It’s such a fragrant, flavourful, unique and luxurious wine, which is also perfect for cocktails.

    The Pellers are Icewine pioneers. In fact, they’re amongst the first families to explore the possibility of this unique Canadian dessert wine. With vines cloaking the Niagara Peninsula, frozen grapes are handpicked at -10C, resulting in wines which straddle the fine line between sweetness and acidity.

    To celebrate this extraordinary golden liquid, we launched a cocktail competition for our customers with the chance to win a six-day trip to heart of Canada’s wine country, visiting Icewine pioneers Peller Estates.

    Competition was fierce, but we've narrowed the pack down to five entrants who'll now go on to compete for the grand prize at Imbibe Live. We checked in with the lucky five finalists to find out the inspiration behind their drinks, and their thoughts on using Icewine as a cocktail ingredient.

    Miran Chauhan, The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

    Cocktail: White Tail

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    The inspiration was simple the flora and fauna of Canada, referring to the white tails of the deer species that reside near the Peller Estates. I took a direct link and used deer antlers to alter the chemical compounds of manzanilla sherry as they contain at least 50% ash content.


    • 60ml Peller Vidal Icewine
    • 15ml navy strength gin
    • 10ml ash washed manzanilla sherry

    All stirred down over ice. Poured into a chilled ISO glass.

    To make the ash wash: cut into an antler to expose the dry marrow and soak in manzanilla for one month at varying temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees. Turning frequently.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    I got into bartending through working with design consultancies. During my time at various practises where we were designing new concepts for hospitality is would also work in the venues to earn some extra money. I quickly fell for the amazing community structure and exposure to all these great flavours that were around.

    The best part of the job?

    I guess just making people happy which comes from great service. Also being able to travel round the world tasting amazing food and drink helps!

    Miran Chauchan, The Bon Vivant Your cocktail of choice?

    That's a hard one. I go through phases. Right now I love a Bennett Cocktail. Gin shaken with lime, sugar and bitters. It's so simple, but aren't all the best things.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    Again there are so many. Most recent though must be The Monday Room in New Zealand. Just two guys running the whole show, great food and drink, providing amazing service, and their knowledge is right on point without the ego.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Well it's already naturally balanced so all you have to do it find a direction that you want the cocktail to go in. So it's a case of just adding one or two subtleties to get you there. Also the food pairings you can achieve are endless.


    Thomas Ryan, Doctor Ink’s Curiosities, Exeter 

    Doctor Ink's Curiosities_TRyan

    Cocktail Name: 1.5 Degree Shim


    • 50ml Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine
    • 25ml Peychauds Aperitivo
    • Top Soda

    Built over ice and garnish with frozen orange slices and red berries. It can be scaled to a Punch Serve very easily as it involves no citrus or bitters.

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    I was heavily inspired by the shim/low-ABV trend emerging of late and also wanted a drink which was accessible to the summer crowds of Exeter. The name is a reference to the winery's geographical location in relation to Bordeaux, France, where the Cabernet Franc grape originates from.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    Started as a barback in a high-volume South-American cocktail bar and tried my first Old Fashion after my second shift. Was instantly hooked, eventually progressed to tending bar at a Video Games bar, and then moved to Exeter about half a year back, where the owner wanted us to be more pro-active about entering comps.

    The best part of the job?

    The creative freedom. I come from an arts degree background, love nothing more than when a customer comes in on a quiet evening and says "what can you make with that bottle there?"

    Thomas Ryan, Doctor Ink’s Curiosities

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Manhattan, with a nice punchy Rye and fruity Vermouth.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    Partaking in a large, international competition, earlier in the year, it was an all-day event that tested all areas of my ability; from a speed round, to a blind taste test.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    The concentration of the flavour, which can be attributed to it's unique production style, means that icewine can be used to sub different elements in riffs. Whereas ordinarily I would just use wine products to replace Vermouth, icewine can be subbed in for the sweet element in drinks (so something like an Old Fashioned) or even as the main spirit, as it has such a big presence, creating a lower abv drink.



    Owain Williams, Filter + Fox, Liverpool

    Cocktail: Leapster spritz

    Inspiration behind your drink?

    Taking inspiration from both the amazing produce of the Niagara region and the history of bold individuals hurling themselves over the falls in wine barrels! Here I'm showcasing Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine and contrasting its flavour profile with a bold grape vinegar from a producer just twenty minutes up the road from the Peller winery in Niagara. Using a soda to spritz the drink keeps the alcohol level exceptionally low, and this helps to emphasise the sweet fruit characteristics of the icewine.


    • 35ml Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine

    • 10ml minus8 concord vinegar

    • Lemon Balm

    • Black Pepper Soda

    In a wine glass build all ingredients over ice and spritz with soda, garnish with a lemon zest.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    Beginning with a part time job at the young age of sixteen, I was completely won over by the creative and sociable nature of the drinks industry. Since then I have worked in most aspects of food and drink and finally opened my first bar in 2015.

    The best part of the job?

    The best part of my current job is meeting new people from different parts of the world that have such a rich and varied experience of food and drink. Enjoying aspects of their culture and tasting products from their region is a constant education and that is amazing.

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Spritz. Enjoying the Dolce Vita with lower abv cocktails in the sunshine is the way to go!

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    On a wine trip in 2016 I was lucky enough to visit the La Giuva winery in Verona, Italy. Sitting ontop of a hill overlooking the vineyards, sipping an ice-cold dessert wine while eating aged Parmiggiano Reggiano was an experience of a lifetime. Visiting the places where products originate from gives such a deeper connection and understanding of a product and I hope to get the chance to visit the Peller Estate soon!

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Peller Icewine is a great ingredient for bartenders to use as it has a fantastic natural sweetness, which means you do not need to artificially sweeten your drinks. It also has a real intensity of flavour that holds beautifully through a mixed drink. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it delivers a beautifully smooth mouthfeel to a drink, keeping all other flavours in the mouth a little longer and this works fantastically in cocktails.


    Lynsey Cameron, Cafe Gandolfi, Glasgow

    Cocktail: Celtic Cuvee


    Add 4 raspberries to 25ml Peller Vidal Blanc Icewine, 25ml homemade pine-infused cranberry juice and shake with ice. Fine strain and top with Peller Ice Cuvee. Garnish with pine needle.

    Cafe Gandolfi and Bar Gandolfi_LCameron+MGateInspiration behind your drink?

    I wanted to keep the serve simple with a focus on provenance and fresh summer flavours. I wanted to create a drink which would be easy to replicate and suitable for large groups as a nod to the many events held at Peller Estates.  I looked into indigenous fruits for both Ontario and the west of Scotland and came across: raspberries (which balance the sweetness of the Vidal Blanc) and pine (which would create a cool minerality). Cranberries of course are a Canadian staple and would create a tartness and a fantastic pop of colour.

    How did you get into bar tending?

    I guess like every bartender I took my first shift behind a local bar pulling pints to help out a friend and never looked back. I moved to Glasgow after that working in a huge Irish bar and then found myself in charge of a bar with 120 gins and a bar team with a penchant for classic cocktails. I guess that’s where the bar tending chapter really began.

    The best part of the job?

    The creative aspect is definitely the best part of the job for me, the social side of bar tending goes without saying. Having the chance to start out with an idea and some interesting products and create a drink that you can mix for someone right in front of them. There is definitely a comradery between bartenders and an almost childish energy in seeing something that doesn’t exist as a liquid yet and trying to making that happen together.

    Lynsey Cameron, Cafe Gandolfi

    Your cocktail of choice?

    Definitely a Negroni, but I cannot resist an Espresso Martini.

    Your most memorable cocktail and food experience?

    My most recent outstanding cocktail experience would have to be Bryant and Mack in Edinburgh, a Private Detective style prohibition bar, with brilliantly relaxed service and meticulously creative drinks. I love going out to eat and it would be difficult to choose just one food experience, I’m always overwhelmed by choice and flavours.

    Why you think Peller Icewine works as a cocktail ingredient?

    Having such a complex and well-developed agricultural product like Peller Icewine as the sweet element of a cocktail is interesting and unique and makes for a very considered cocktail. The other ingredients must compliment the complexity of the Icewine’s flavour and sweetness on the palate as the sweet element, which often is a necessity rather the main feature in the balance of a cocktail.

  • Uncovering Argentina

    For years, Les Somerville had been longing to get to Argentina to discover the unique wine region of Salta. Earlier this year, the opportunity presented itself, and as Les chronicles below, he was as impressed with the place as his anticipation had grown. 

    After the 30-hour journey to get to Salta from London – planes, trains, more planes, minibus, more planes, and then the three-hour drive – you might be forgiven in thinking we would be have been a little jaded. This was not the case and, as we’d soon discover, the travel would be totally worth it.

    It might’ve been lengthy, but the journey up to Salta proved to be a fantastic experience. The landscape is so expressive, starting with very lush green hillsides, and as you make your way through you see the soil change colour and end up in a very baron, almost Star Wars desert-like environment. The more baron it gets, the more you start to notice the standing guards that dot the hillsides. These are massive cactus plants that can survive in the more rugged landscape. They are protected by law, so much so that the routes of the vines when we made it to El Esteco work their way round them as they have a sacred energy. Looking uncannily like people in the evening light it’s quite a site to behold.

    IMG_0131 (1)

    Once fed and rested – wont bore you with the amazing food and wine just yet – we met El Esteco’s viticulturist, Francisco Tellechea. Obviously, my first question was: “What are the varieties you grow here”. To which Francisco responded something I was not expecting to hear: parcels of Marsanne and Roussanne, but that will be a future project following his time working in the Languedoc. Next, he took us to the top of the tower at the winery, where we were given a breakdown of what they do, how they work with the environment, the history behind the winery, plus their connection with the farmers of the valley.

    It’s such an interesting environment; huge hillsides barricading the valley on both sides, and it is these hillsides that ultimately allow the viticulture to work. There is cloud cover over both mountain ranges, which means that in the morning it takes until around 9/10am for the sun to break through into the valley. This allows the grapes and vines to have cold nights before the sun starts to build up the heat. By the time it hits 3pm, the sun has moved from south to north, and starts to hit the cloud cover on the Quilmes Mountains. This is the hottest part of the day and a lot of work has gone into the orientation of the vine rows to maximise heat, photosynthesis, and canopy management.

    Looking at some of the vineyards and seeing 47-year-old Torrontes vines was amazing; they were like individual people, each with a story to tell and such character. As you can imagine, irrigation is key to the vineyards, especially on the valley floor as it’s so exposed. They have two main methods for this – drip irrigation and flood irrigation. The water is collected way up in the hills from rain that comes down over the Andres: there are over a 100-year-old waterways built by hand that still bring the water down the valley in channels that can be dammed depending on where they need to have it go. Small reservoirs in the valley floor are then used to irrigate the vines.


    The flood irrigation which we watched is used from August through to February, every three weeks the furrowed channels between the vines are flooded with water and this gradually permeates into the soil and the vines. Only 50% of the water will be used, as the rest is swallowed up by evaporation back up into the atmosphere for it to start its journey all over again. The drip irrigation along the rows of vines – about 12 inches up – only has 10% evaporation, so is a far better system.

    One of the points Francesco made particularly clear was how they need to makes the most of the environment and use everything to its maximum potential. The grape must after harvest is mixed with goat manure from the goats that roam the mountain ranges. This is mainly used on new plantings to build up nutrients in the soil. For the pergola process they use in some of the vineyards it can be four years before the first harvest so they have time to build up the soil.


    The other thing that impressed me was the feeling of community within the pickers, groups of 25 with one managing the work. When they’re pruning back through the vintage there is a lot of stems and vine arms cut back to develop the structure they want. After the pickers shift has finished, a tractor will drive through the vineyard and the team loads up a trailer and this then will drop the wood back off at their houses, as most houses have wood-fired boilers.

    All this, combined with the fact there are on average five earthquakes a day, makes it such a fascinating place to visit. Add food, company, and ultimately wines into the equation, and it truly opens your eyes to the breadth of knowledge, experience, and forward thinking that this winery has in spades.

  • A gem from Montalcino

    Words: Leo Bassano

    It was certainly the Etruscans that first saw Montalcino’s territory potential for vineyards. The town is only 25 miles south of Siena, where the climate shifts from the damper, cooler continental of Chianti Classico, to a drier and warmer Mediterranean environment, with average precipitation of 700mm mainly concentrated in the spring and late autumn. Montalcino is 564m above sea level, and this strategic position was the reason for long-lasting confrontations between the Republics of Siena and Florence in the 13th and 16th centuries.]=

    The municipal territory of Montalcino extends 24,000 hectares, of which 50% is forest, 15% is planted with vines and 10% with olive trees. The wine production area is between the natural boundaries of the valleys of Ombrone, Asso and Orcia. Mount Amiata in the southeast provides natural protection from storms, and the blowing wind allows for the plants to be healthy and disease free. The vineyard altitudes are similar to Chianti Classico, from 300m to 500m, but the soils are different, generally containing more limestone and sand. Sand is known to accelerate ripening, therefore Montalcino is usually the first to harvest, out of the big three denominations in Tuscany. The zone in the north has slightly cooler microclimate and produces more perfumed and elegant wines with more aromatics. In the south, the temperature is slightly higher, producing a fuller body style of Brunello.


    Generally speaking, Brunello is described as bigger and blacker, with intense aromas of ripe forest fruit, aromatics and wood spices; a powerful style of Sangiovese, with a depth of flavours, tongue-curling tannins with a potential to age for decades. Experts credit to Clementi Santi the isolation of the Sangiovese clone (Brunello) in the 1840s and the Biondi-Santi brand was created in 1888. In the 1950s they were joined by Fattoria dei Barbi and others, but Brunello di Montalcino remained relatively unknown until the 1970s. There were 800,000 bottles produced in 1975 from about 25 producers, while in 1995 3.5 million bottles were produced by more than 120 estates. The region went from 11 producers and 63.5ha in 1960s to almost 2000ha and 258 producers in 2012. The exodus of the area’s farmers in the 1950s meant that landowners were willing to sell properties inexpensively. The Vermouth producer Cinzano was the first big investment in the area when they purchased the Col d’Orcia estate in 1973, followed by the American importers Mariani who started acquiring property for their Banfi estate in 1978.


    The story of Il Poggione began at the end of the 19th century, when Lavinio Franceschi, fascinated by the tale of a shepherd moving his sheep for the summer pasture on the slopes of the Maremma between Montalcino and Sant’Angelo, decided to buy the land. Originally the farm was called Sant’Angelo in Colle and was then split between the two brothers Leopoldo and Stefano Franceschi in Col d’Orcia and Il Poggione. New management meant the end of medieval agricultural methods. A great effort was directed towards the selection of better Sangiovese clones and the planting of sites with better terroir. Il Poggione estate is one of the biggest as it covers an area of 600ha, of which 125ha are planted with vines at an altitude of 320m above sea level and 70 with olive trees.

    Their guiding principle is to take extreme care of the vines, with hand harvest only and processed in the state-of-the-art winery built in 2004, where they combine the most innovative techniques without losing sight of tradition. A total control of the vinification process guarantees its quality. Il Poggione ages the wines in French oak casks, kept five metres underground.

    My tour of the winery was hosted by Marco, a passionate guy who has worked at the estate for two years. He shared with me the history and philosophy of Il Poggione. The tasting rooms is very elegant, with high ceilings and antique furniture.


    The tasting table is a wonderful piece made of recycled wooden barrels. Here we opened the Rosso di Montalcicno 2015 and the Brunello di Montalcino 2012.

    The Rosso is meant to be easier to drink, an everyday red, but probably the everyday drinking standards of Montalcino are different from other regions! The wine is young, bright, crisp and definitely more accessible than Brunello. However, it does have a great structure with firm tannins and the typical acidity bite of Sangiovese. The 2015 vintage was actually top rated with almost perfect weather conditions. The grapes for the Rosso are sourced from the younger vines and, though not required by law, the wine is aged in a combination of large casks before spending some time in bottle. The wine is intense and he will pair perfectly with wild boar pappardelle.

    The Brunello is the prince, sourced from vines of at least 20 years, and aged for three years in big French barrels followed by a period of bottle age. It is deep, with a darker fruit aroma profile. It is definitely closed as you first open the bottle, needing some oxygen to come alive. When it does open up, the ripe black fruit profile becomes prominent together with sweet spices. The wine is muscular with high but smooth, refined tannins balanced by the usual high acidity, with great texture and amazing length.


    It is easy to feel a big contrast between the fast life of London and the slow pace of Montalcino, where everything takes longer to do, and people take time to interact with each other. It does seem a bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but I don’t think it would take too long to get used to. It is a healthy, enjoyable lifestyle with the best locally produced food ever and top class wines. Dinners are long and drawn out and there is always grappa to be drunk at the end of the meal. You can cycle or walk around the hills, where the landscape is simply breathtaking. It’s hard to beat!

  • World Gin Day

    There’s a day for everything now – Blueberry Day, Welsh Rarebit Day, the list goes on – but if ever something needed celebrating it is gin.

    World Gin Day conveniently falls on the weekend, with Saturday 10th June providing the impetus for juniper-based celebrations across the globe. Run by Emma Stokes (Gin Monkey on twitter) it is now in it’s 9th year and popularity is only increasing.

    There’s GinStock, Junipalooza, a Beefeater House Party just in London; a Gin Bar-on-a-Bike in Cambridge as well as a World Gin Month in the Philippines, a Gin Festival in Hamburg and even more scattered across bars, restaurants and event spaces worldwide – Australia it turns out is particularly keen, with The Gin Queen become Global Gin Ambassador for World Gin Day in Australia this year. Going further afield the National Space Centre is even holding an all-day gin event with tastings, talks and the chance to sample some juniper-y delights this year.

    But Why Gin?

    No one can have missed the boom in gin’s popularity in recent years, with the number of distilleries growing month on month since the guys behind Sipsmith changed the licensing law and invigorated the category in 2009. There are now gins available from all corners of the globe with a variety of flavour profiles and styles – giving consumers a chance to try something new and different, working for every palate.

    Gin is also widely regarded as lower in calories than some popular alternatives – a 25ml measure of gin (no tonic) is only 110 calories, stacking up against a pint of 4% beer at 180 calories, and a small glass of red wine at 160!

    So why not try something different this year…

    featured image template


    Pink Pepper Gin

    Produced in Cognac by Audemus Spirits, Pink Pepper is a premium gin with a refreshing taste born of the pink peppercorns used as one of the botanicals, with no citrus this works with an array of tonics such as FeverTree Mediterranean for something a little different.


    Ki No Bi

    Made using a rice spirit base this hails from Kyoto, Japan and uses locally sourced botanicals such as yuzu, bamboo leaves and tea for an exciting, complex finish. Serve straight up over ice with a slice of grapefruit.




    All the way from New Zealand with notes of spicy juniper and clove that are balanced by refreshing lemon hints.

    Serve with regular tonic water and a squeezed wedge of lemon.


    Slingsby Rhubarb_Raspberry_Mule_3


    Slingsby Rhubarb

    Rhubarb infused gin from Harrogate that uses the town’s famous mineral water to give balance and a smooth, clean taste.

    Packed full of flavour this makes a great twist on a gin rickey using Slingsby Rhubarb, sparkling water and a squeeze of pink grapefruit.


    warner edwards


    Warner Edwards Elderflower

    Using locally foraged elderflower (being picked at the moment) and a little sugar this is a summer-sweet gin with a long, finish that matches perfectly with prosecco on a warm day.


    If you’re really on board with gin in your life then why not try your hand at one of these unusual recipes as well?

    G&T Ice Cream


    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons gin – something like Old English (a sweeter, old tom style) or savoury like Gin Mare works well
    • 125ml tonic water
    • 600ml cream


    Stir the first four ingredients until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the cream and whisk until it thickens (like a good milkshake). Transfer to a container and freeze. Serve with strawberries and mint.


    Gin Cupcakes


    For the cake                                                                   

    • 180g plain flour
    • 150g caster sugar
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • 125g butter
    • 2 eggs
    • ¼ cup milk
    • 50ml gin
    • Juice and zest of a lime

    For the icing

    • 100g butter
    • 220g icing sugar
    • 50ml gin
    • juice and zest of a lime


    Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lime juice, zest, milk and gin. Gradually add in the beaten eggs and mix for a few minutes. Using a spatula fold in the flour, salt and baking powder. Bake at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes – until lightly golden. For the icing whisk all the ingredients until creamy and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with a slice of lime.

  • 9 tantalising gin cocktails

    Gin-lovers of the world will be rejoicing this Saturday as World Gin Day returns for its ninth year. To celebrate the nation's favourite cocktail, we've asked those in the know to share their favourite gin-based cocktails of the moment. Now if these doesn't whet your gin appetite we don't know what will!



    Floradora Floradora by Pata Negra

    • 40ml of Beefeater gin
    • 20ml of homemade raspberry syrup
    • 20ml of lime juice
    • Top of with Fever Tree ginger ale

    Build & stir. Cubed. Glass: highball 10oz Collins





    Gin & Ting Gin & Ting by Pata Negra

    • 25ml Beefeater gin
    • 25ml fino
    • 5ml lime juice
    • Top up with sparkling Ting

    Build & stir. Cubed.





    Manor Thyme

    Manor Thyme By Slaughters Manor

    • Brockman’s Gin 50ml
    • Fresh blueberries 5-6
    • Fresh Thyme 2 sprigs ( a few to garnish )
    • Lime juice 20ml ( peel to garnish )
    • Sugar syrup 15ml

    Pick a small amount of thyme and slap the inner and outer of the tumbler, fill with crushed ice. In a shaker muddle blueberries, Brockman’s gin, lime juice, thyme and sugar, shake and double strain over the crushed ice. Garnish with lime peel, thyme and a violet flower.



    The King Of The Swingers

    The King Of The Swingers by Hyde & Co

    • Beefeater Gin
    • Banana Liqueur
    • Lime Juice
    • Cacao
    • Agave






    Jerez Flora Club Jerez Flora Club by The Ox Clifton

    • 25ml Beefeater gin
    • 20ml Chase marmalade vodka
    • 5ml Fino sherry
    • 15ml Raspberry syrup
    • 15ml lemon juice
    • 2 dash Peychaud's bitters
    • Egg white
    • Hibiscus flower garnish




    Tea on the Terrace

    Tea on the Terrace By Bambalan

    • Beefeater gin
    • Lychee liqueur
    • Chilled earl grey tea
    • Lemon juice
    • Viola flowers




    martini with a twist - Dakota


    Gin martini with a twist by Dakota Hotel Group

    • 50ml Tanqueray 10
    • 12.5ml Lillet Blanc

    Stirred over ice and served up in a Nick & Nora glass and garnished with a grapefruit twist.





    One in Five - Dakota

    Five in One by Dakota Hotel Group

    • 35ml Thomas Dakin
    • 25ml St Germain
    • 15ml D.O.M Benedictine
    • 15ml Gomme
    • 20ml Lemon juice
    • One egg white

    Dry shaken, wet shaken, served up in a coupe glass and garnished with a nice bright edible flower.





    Southern Collins by The Ox Cheltenham

    • East London Liquor Company Gin Batch No 1
    • Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters
    • Prescott Hill Climb

    An Ox take on a Summer classic, the Tom Collins, our Southern Collins is perfect for long Summer afternoons. Using East London Liquor Company’s Gin and topped up with local beer Prescott Hill Climb this cocktail is finished with a dash of Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters, a brilliantly zingy addition which really lifts the drink.

  • Argentinian Alternatives

    El Esteco Harvest 1

    Malbec has well and truly put Argentina on the wine map – it’s their star grape, like Sauvignon Blanc for New Zealand, Shiraz for Australia, and Chenin Blanc in South Africa.

    Indeed, commenting on the success of this sun-worshipping varietal, Jo Gilbert of Harpers says: “One of the great New World success stories is the rise of Argentinian Malbec, which has become the go-to grape for both supermarket shoppers and trendy restaurants in the UK and also worldwide”.

    It goes without saying that most restaurants and bars around town will have at least one Malbec on their list. Consumers have grown to adore the familiar, plush and velvety notes that are so often found in a glass of Malbec. The variety has lead the revolution of Argentinian wines; and has now cleared the path for what’s starting to unravel.harriet

    Argentinian Buyer Harriet Kininmonth says: “Today’s UK market is evolving and consumers are increasingly on the hunt for provenance and distinction, craving a premium and enriching experience. To this effect, we are witnessing a newfound curiosity surrounding Argentinean wines beyond Malbec, with a shift in focus towards alternative varieties, regionality and altitude.“

    So it’s settled; we’re experiencing an identifiable move beyond Malbec, but what exactly is next for Argentina in terms of varietals?

    Phil Crozier, Director of Wine at Gauchos – also known to respond to the moniker Mr Argentina – has an idea. While he admits Malbec will always be king, he says there are a raft of exciting new wines vying for their time in the sun.

    “In terms of white, we absolutely focus on Torrontes, since it’s an indigenous varietal. For me, Semillon has a great future in Argentina – there’s so much history behind the grape, and a few new winemakers are ensuring its revival. White blends, however, are the way to go. There’s more complexity, with Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Semillon and Torrontes, and they seem to blend very well. This is especially true of wines from the Uco valley, with lean and tight characteristics being the order of the day”, Phil says. 

    “When you look at reds, an entry-level Bonarda is excellent value; I do find that an equivalent-priced Malbec doesn’t match the value of simple and pure Bonarda. At the higher end it also delivers, with rich, soft and silky tannins.

    “Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular option, especially for those who have yet to be seduced by Malbec.

    phil blob

    “Without doubt, Cabernet Franc is the runner-up in the Argentine steaks. It will take a while, but I think this varietal can go where Malbec goes too, in terms of quality and identity”, Phil says.

    Phil’s not alone in his sentiments on Cab Franc; indeed, Argentinian wine writer Joaquín Hidalgo says it’s the promise on everyone’s lips.

    When looking to pinpoint what might be the next big thing to come out of a wine producing region or country, the source of truth can, more often than not, be traced back to winemakers themselves and what they’re drinking from the area.

    In recent years, the murmur among Argentinian winemakers is that Cabernet Franc is that next big thing; it’s what they’re all drinking.

    Change however, won’t come quickly, nor will this upshoot of exciting new wines knock Malbec off its perch; however, what can be surmised is that the future is bright for alternative Argentinian varieties.

    Compared with last year, we’re seeing growing number of Enotria&Coe customers thinking outside the box and expanding their Argentinian lists to include the likes of Torrontes, Cabernet Franc, Bonarda and Tannat.

    Looking at our Argentinian portfolio, Harriet says: “We are very excited about our range, which boasts unprecedented diversity, equipped with some of the most desired brands in the market. From Bonarda to Torrontes, from Tannat to Cabernet Franc, our new selection can cover all the new trends and demands, and proves that Malbec isn’t the only Messi in the team.”

    daniel pi blog

    Head of Winemaking at Peñaflor Daniel Pi has embraced the movement towards wines of finesse that express the nuances of their terroir: “This year [2016] we’ll be making wines which we have been fantasising about: reds armed with freshness, slightly thinning in the mouth. It’s not what we’re used to, but it’ll surprise the consumers”.

    Earlier this year, Tim Atkin MW, spent three weeks in Argentina tasting hundreds of wines for his annual report. During this time, he caught wind of the changing landscape of the country’s wine industry, noting as much in his conclusion of the trip.

    “Stylistically I noticed that the wines are finer, lighter and more elegant than in other times. There is good structure in most reds, but there is less oak and alcohol is beginning to decrease. There is a turn towards gastronomic wines, wines to accompany a dish instead of wines that are a meal by themselves. In many cases, I found wines that are fresh and easy to drink. These allow for better appreciation of the personality of the place where they are made. If we’re talking about trends, this is what stands out for me in Argentina today and I really like it.”

    When it comes to Malbec, Tim notes that without a doubt it’s very important, but pointed out the fact that it represents just 10% of the total vineyards in the country.

    “From my point of view, Argentine wine producers have two ways to go, not one or the other but both simultaneously. With Malbec, continue to work with precision on the origin. There is a lot of diversity to show the world about these wines. We must begin to explain that a Malbec from Perdriel, San Pablo, La Consulta, Salta, Gualtallary, Río Negro, Las Compuertas or Altamira is not the same.

    “The second path is the diversity of types of wines that are produced in the country. There are almost a hundred different cultivated grapes that give the possibility to elaborate very different wines, and it has to be shown. This year I tasted Albariño, Verdejo, Mourvedre, Grenache, unique wines that are very enthusiastic and will surprise many. In addition, other grapes, such as Assyrtiko, Furmint, Nero D’Avola, Vermentino or Mencia, can be cultivated and should work very well.

    “While Malbec is the best-known variety in Argentina, those who search a little deeper are surprised by the huge amount of styles and wines that exist,” Tim said.

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