In Spring, we five intrepid wine journalists who make up www.thewinegang.com visited South West France to make the most mouthwatering selection of wine favourites we could put together. We flew to Pau and drove the 120 kilometres to Irouléguy which is so far west it practically falls off the Pyrenees into the Atlantic. If the sprawling South West remains part of France’s route less travelled, then the same can be said, only more so, of Irouléguy.
The exorbitant price rises for the great 2009 Bordeaux vintage focused global attention on Bordeaux as an investment vehicle as never before. In search of such a vehicle to place their newfound riches, the Chinese new wealthy fell for Bordeaux in general and Château Lafite in particular as the ultimate must-have luxury goods collectible.
It is not often that you spot the gentlemen of the wine press attired as if about to start their first day at public school, but smart suits and ties were the order of the day on a freezing cold February morning in the heart of London clubland.
The Graves is one of the few major wine regions in the world whose name defines a particular terroir, or location character. Gravel soils form the bedrock, literally of this ancient region, the northern part of which, Pessac-Léognan, is home to 16 crus classés châteaux, which, with their 600-odd hectares of vineyard land, lie south of the city of Bordeaux.
The Wine Gang Christmas fairs have come and gone, leaving a warm afterglow in the wake of the tremendous buzz generated by 600 tasters slurping their way through over 3,000 bottles under the giant Victorian brick arches
We’re looking forward to more of the same in London on 2 November, in Bath on 9 November and in Edinburgh on 30 November.
When Wines, Grapes and Vines by Jancis Robinson MW first came out to great acclaim in 1986, it was a book of its time. It was important because the New World was turning the European model of terroir on its head and placing the emphasis on grape variety. Until then, as Wine Grapes puts it, ‘virtually all wine was named after the region, vineyard, village or property where it was grown’. Not surprisingly, this simple and successful form of marketing (for consumers) was frowned upon by the snooty French.
The Wine Gang Christmas Fair buzzed and hummed in London's Borough Market yesterday. After a sampling of Roederer's Cristal Champagne with Mark Blingly MW, Allegra Antinori, Javier Hidalgo and Serge Hochar strutted their stuff on the masterclass catwalk. Throughout the day, 600 tasters spat (mostly) their way through over 3,000 bottles under the giant Victorian brick arches of the newly refurbished Vinopolis.
Last night’s UK launch of the Penfolds Ampoule was held at Hedonism, London's swanky new temple to fine wine. I had my doubts that there’d be an uncorking of the ampoule itself, or whatever you do to open an ampoule. Sure enough, there wasn't but it was an opportunity at least to check out the breathtakingly lavish new Mayfair venture presided over by ex-Harrods wine buyer Alistair Viner and to gawp at Penfolds’ much-lauded wine treasure.
Friday was the day of the tasting of 50 Great Portuguese Wines selected by Julia Harding MW at the South Bank Centre (an excellent airy, light venue as it happens).
I am hoping to write some notes on these wines but meanwhile hats off to Julia Harding MW for a terrific selection for her top 50 Portuguese wines.
She made a specific point of excluding wines made from international grape varieties from the list and in concentrating on native Portuguese grapes she’s come up with a selection that’s full of character and variety.
All’s Fair in Real and Raw
If you’re old enough to remember punk, you may recall the heady excitement generated when the Sex Pistols and the Clash burst onto the scene in 1976 with spontaneous gigs in clubs, pubs and warehouses. It may not always have been pretty, but the rebellious energy of punk took the rock scene by the scruff of its mainstream neck. Middle of the road rockers like Roxy Music, and Uncle Elton et al started to look, and most likely, feel, their age.