Decanter https://www.decanter.com The world’s most prestigious wine website, including news, reviews, learning, food and travel Fri, 30 Oct 2020 11:04:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2019/01/cropped-Decanter_Favicon-Brand-32x32.png Decanter https://www.decanter.com 32 32 The Malbec crossword https://www.decanter.com/learn/crosswords/the-malbec-crossword-446455/ Fri, 30 Oct 2020 11:04:00 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446455 Malbec Crossword

Pour yourself a glass of hearty, deep red and settle down to tackle this week’s Malbec crossword… Instructions: Click a cell on the crossword grid, or click a clue Click twice on a cell to toggle between across and down The active cell is highlighted in blue Start typing in the word Hit enter when […]

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Malbec Crossword

Pour yourself a glass of hearty, deep red and settle down to tackle this week’s Malbec crossword…

Instructions:

  • Click a cell on the crossword grid, or click a clue
  • Click twice on a cell to toggle between across and down
  • The active cell is highlighted in blue
  • Start typing in the word
  • Hit enter when you are done typing in the word
  • The word will turn green or red if you got it right or wrong
  • You can use the tab and shift-tab keys to move around the crossword, and the arrow keys

Want to learn more?

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Xinomavro: 10 award-winning Greek wines to try https://www.decanter.com/decanter-world-wine-awards/xinomavro-10-award-winning-greek-wines-to-try-446337/ Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:30:35 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446337

Over the past ten years Xinomavro has become one of Greece’s most popular red grape varieties. Planted in northern and central Greece, the variety can be found in four of Greece’s Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) including Naoussa, Amynteo, Goumenissa, and Rapsani. In the vineyard the grape is inconsistent and requires careful management, and in […]

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Over the past ten years Xinomavro has become one of Greece’s most popular red grape varieties. Planted in northern and central Greece, the variety can be found in four of Greece’s Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) including Naoussa, Amynteo, Goumenissa, and Rapsani.

In the vineyard the grape is inconsistent and requires careful management, and in the winery close attention and time is required to tame its tough tannins and high acid, but when produced well, Xinomavro can resemble the structure of Barolo with balanced firm tannins and bright acidity, and distinct aromas of fresh and dried red fruits, flowers, tomatoes, tobacco, black olives and spice.


Premium: Discover Greece’s flagship grapes

Scroll down to see all 10 award-winning Xinomavro wines, plus tasting notes


Typically released to the market after at least two years of aging, Xinomavro’s notable acidity and tannins give the wines good cellaring potential, and also make the wine an ideal accompaniment to foods. Unoaked versions akin to Pinot Noir pair well with foods like mushroom risotto, pork and lamb, and oak-influenced styles with game or even dry-aged steak.

100% Xinomavro wines awarded medals at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards. 


DWWA 2020: Search all award-winning wines from Greece


Xinomavro is best known for its production as a red wine, but can also be used to make good rosés, aromatic sparkling wines and sweet wines.

Celebrated on 1 November, International Xinomavro Day was established by Winemakers of North Greece to grow awareness of and highlight one of Greece’s most prised indigenous varieties.

Regarded as a ‘Greek Ambassador’ variety alongside Assyrtiko, Moschofilero and Agiorgitiko, get to know Xinomavro with a selection of award-winning red and rosé wines, plus tasting notes, from the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards.

For additional wine details and stockists, select the wine of interest below.

DWWA 2020: 10 award-winning Xinomavro wines to try

Red

Kir Yianni, Diaporos Single Vineyard Xinomavro, Imathia, Macedonia, Greece 2016

Silver, 92 points
Brilliantly expressive strawberry and spice nose. The palate brings high tannins and slathers of cherry, cranberry and pomegranate characters. Long finish.

Oenops, XinomavRAW, Varietal Wine, Greece 2018

Silver, 92 points
Herbal, plum, black cherry and cardamon aromatics. Medium-bodied with a fleshy texture, fine-grained tannins and a slightly chewy finish. Classy!

Oenops, Xinomavro, Macedonia, Greece 2018

Silver, 92 points
This is a cornucopia of cherries, cranberries, oak spice and liquorice with chunky tannins, a chewy texture and long finish.

Alpha Estate, Single Vineyard Hedgehog Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece 2017

Silver, 91 points
This elegant wine’s impressive allspice and raisiny characters, fine-grained, grippy tannins and mouthwatering acidity make for a lovely bottle that will age well.

Alpha Estate, Vieilles Vignes Barba Yannis Reserve Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece 2016

Silver, 90 points
Spicy and leathery nose with fine-grained tannins and bags of crunchy black fruits in the mouth. Finishes lengthily. Needs time.

Katogi Averoff, Inima Xinomavro, Naoussa, Macedonia, Greece 2015

Silver, 90 points
Evolved tobacco, candied cherry, sandalwood and leather aromatics. The palate has tannic grip and abundant ripe cranberry and oak spice characters. Impressive stuff.

Kir Yianni, Cuvée Villages Xinomavro, Naoussa, Macedonia, Greece 2017

Bronze, 89 points
Expressive balsamic, red cherry, rose, olive and oak spice nose. Sappy fruit on the palate, plus earthy tannins and fair length.

Kechris, Single Vineyard Xinomavro, Slopes of Paiko, Macedonia, Greece 2016

Bronze, 88 points
Restrained raspberry and spicy nose. Extracted in the mouth with plenty of new oak and chunky tannins. One for food.

Rosé

Alpha Estate, Single Vineyard Hedgehog, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece 2019

Silver, 92 points
Raspberry, rose petal and citrus nose. Elegant and precise with crisp acidity and pink grapefruit, red currant and wild strawberry flavours. Textured but light and very long.

Boutari, Dianthos Xinomavro, Imathia, Macedonia, Greece 2019

Bronze, 89 points
Red fruit and bonbon nose. The palate is markedly restrained, but still quite persistent with notes of black cherry. Very much a food wine.


More DWWA highlights: Best of Bordeaux: Top 20 wines of DWWA 2020

Search all DWWA 2020 results


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What are the best Aldi wines to buy? https://www.decanter.com/decanter-best/aldi-wines-336761/ Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:00:39 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=336761 Aldi October 2020

Some more great deals at Aldi...

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Aldi October 2020

Ahead of Christmas, discount retailer Aldi has relaunched its range of online-only Classic Icon wines and introduced a selection of premium lines, as well as several more unusual additions.

The Albanta Albariño and Veuve Monsigny Champagne are among those favourites that remain in the initial 35-strong Classic Icon range that launched in September 2019, with 20 newcomers including a lovely Grüner Veltliner (£6.99) and New Zealand Pinot Noir (£9.99)

In the premium range – available from November – seek out a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape (£14.99) and a great-value Gigondas (£9.99), while wine adventurers will enjoy a German Blaufränkisch (£5.99) and a Brazillian Chardonnay (£6.99).

The seasonal range – including Aldi’s Specially Selected own-label wines – provides great options for autumn and winter, with many bottles below £5. The core lines (from £3.69) are more of a mixed bag, but nevertheless offer several solid options.

While the majority of the wines can be found both on the supermarket’s website and in-store, some are online exclusives and only available while stocks last.

See our top picks from Aldi’s 2020 autumn/winter press tasting below, featuring a super-value Argentinian Shiraz that won Silver at this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, a delicious Portuguese red, great-value claret, crisp Greek white and a Champagne complete with gift box that’s perfect for Christmas.

Expand your wine horizons with Decanter Premium

From just £1.35 per week

Decanter’s best Aldi wines:

The wines below are a mix of those from Aldi’s spring / summer 2020 wine collection and those from older tastings but are still available. 

Updated 29/10/2020: Added wines from the autumn/winter 2020 tasting (15 wines) and removed unavailable wines

Updated 03/04/2020: Added wines from the spring 2020 tasting (10 wines) and removed unavailable wines

Updated 03/10/2019: Added wines from the autumn/winter 2019 tasting (12 wines) and removed unavailable wines

Updated 26/3/2019: Added wines from the spring 2019 tasting (11 wines) and removed unavailable wines


Find more supermarket wine recommendations for the UK


Related content:

Decanter’s guide to anniversary buys 2019

Decanter Best Buy wines for under £15 / $20

Top Italian reds for under £15/$20

Best South American wines under £15/$20

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Anson: How to blind taste Bordeaux wines https://www.decanter.com/premium/anson-how-to-blind-taste-bordeaux-wines-446210/ Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:34:27 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446210 Classic French wine tasting - blind taste

Entrants from 20 countries recently tested their ability to blind taste in the finals of the World Wine Tasting Challenge 2020, held at Bordeaux’s Château Smith Haut Lafitte. The French team just beat the Chinese group in the final, with Sweden and Finland tied for third. It’s eight years since the first tournament was held at […]

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Classic French wine tasting - blind taste

Entrants from 20 countries recently tested their ability to blind taste in the finals of the World Wine Tasting Challenge 2020, held at Bordeaux’s Château Smith Haut Lafitte.

The French team just beat the Chinese group in the final, with Sweden and Finland tied for third.

It’s eight years since the first tournament was held at Château Larrivet Haut-Brion. The competition has been to plenty of other spots in France in-between.


Scroll down for Jane Anson’s nine classic Bordeaux tasting notes and scores


Blind tasting is a very specific skill, viewed either as a parlour trick or rigorous proof of ability depending on who you are speaking to.


See Jane Anson’s nine classic Bordeaux tasting notes and scores


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Anson: Exclusive first look inside billionaire Jack Ma’s Bordeaux project
Anson: Bordeaux 2020 harvest – An insider guide
A ‘monumental’ tasting of Petrus, Le Pin and Lafleur 1998 and 1999

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Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide https://www.decanter.com/learn/food/wine-with-christmas-turkey-food-matching-285778/ Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:30:49 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=285778 wine with turkey

Too much tannin can be bad, but acidity is your friend...

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wine with turkey

Many people’s festive dinners may look a little different this year, given the economic and social impact of Covid-19, but here is our expert advice for pairing wine with turkey if you’re still planning to serve this traditional meat for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Classic styles when pairing wine with turkey:

  • Full-bodied Chardonnay, such as those from Burgundy or California
  • Pinot Noir
  • Mature Bordeaux, Rioja or Barolo
  • Beaujolais (Gamay)

Remember that turkey is not a powerful meat

Turkey is a white meat and has a low fat content, which is why it can dry out if not cooked carefully.

So, your wine matches should ideally be either a full-bodied white wine or a medium-bodied red, with low or medium tannin and relatively high acidity.


Search our wine reviews database


Click on the turkey and wine pairing graphic below to see a full-size version

turkey with wine, decanter

Tips on matching Christmas turkey with wine. Credit: Annabelle Sing / Decanter


The basic rules of wine with turkey

Let’s talk about tannins

Fine tannins are great in a balanced wine with some bottle age, but too much mouth-coating tannin could also ruin all those hours you’ve spent slaving away in the kitchen.

There is likely to be a dearth of fat on the plate in general, leaving little to soften tannins in a big, bold, young wine.

This can accentuate the harsh feeling of tannins in the mouth, eclipsing other flavours, while the saltiness of the turkey can also make tannins taste more bitter.

It may seem strange that classic Christmas wine choices include those with relatively high tannin levels, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends from Bordeaux.

This, however, is where several years of bottle age come into play, because tannins will soften and integrate over time in the best wines.

Embrace acidity

A Christmas dinner table is full of flavours and complexity. Cranberry, bacon, parsnips, stuffing and Brussels sprouts are just some of the dishes vying for attention. And it’s a similar story at Thanksgiving, as Ray Isle noted in this Decanter article in 2016.

A wine with medium or high levels of acidity should be able to cope better with these myriad flavours.

Red wine with turkey

Everyone has their own personal tastes, and there are so many options out there, but Pinot Noir in its various guises around the world is often seen as a great match for turkey dinners.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir from bolder Burgundy crus, such as Gevrey-Chambertin or Pommard, should work exceptionally well.

If you can stretch to the Grand Cru of Chambertin then you’re in for a treat, but there are also plenty of less expensive options out there. Try looking towards Fixin or Santenay, for example.

Be aware, though, that some lighter styles of Burgundy Pinot, such as classic Volnay wines, may be overpowered by the range of flavours on your plate.

How about a delicious Pinot from Oregon’s Willamette Valley or California’s Santa Barbara County? Decanter contributor Stacy Slinkard recently praised the balance of lively acidity, fresh red fruits and sweet spice in this Schug Pinot from Sonoma County, too.

The feathery tannins and autumnal fruit of Mooroduc Estate’s ‘McIntyre’ Pinot from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula could also make it a dinner to remember.

Beaujolais Cru

Gamay is often underrated and it’s easy to also make the mistake of thinking that all Gamay wines are lightweight.

Not so, especially in those 10 Beaujolais Crus known for making wines with more power and depth, such as Morgon or Moulin-à-Vent.

Aged Bordeaux

Cabernet Sauvignon is obviously in a completely different universe to what we’ve just talked about; big tannins, big acidity and lots of luscious dark fruit. Merlot, too, carries significant weight in its classic Bordeaux Right Bank form.

Yet the delicately poised balance of fruit, acidity and integrated tannins can still work wonders with your turkey dinner, if some of those tertiary aromas from a few years of bottle age have started to develop around the edges.

Jane Anson recently picked out wines from Bordeaux vintages that are ready to drink now. Some of the top second wines from the Bordeaux 2005 vintage are also hitting their sweet spot, said Anson in an article in September this year.

Other classic reds from the bolder end of the spectrum would be aged Barolo or Chianti Classico.

Mature Rioja can also combine those lovely, earthy, mushroomy aromas with bright red fruit and medium-weight tannins. There are also plenty of relatively good value options.

Be wary of choosing a wine with too much oak influence, however.


White wine with turkey

Chardonnay

Sometimes ignored at Christmas lunch, a full-bodied Chardonnay can be an enchanting accompaniment to your turkey, especially with traditional sides such as bread sauce.

The best examples exude oaky richness that can give sweet spice notes, while creamy lactic acid really helps out with a meat that can sometimes be on the dry side. A backbone of acidity helps to balance out the flavours.

Good Chardonnays, in general, are found in the similar geographical areas to good Pinot Noir.

White Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune will work well at almost all levels. As above, those lucky enough to be able to choose a Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru or a Bâtard-MontrachetGrand Cru are unlikely to be disappointed.

The high levels of minerality and acidity in these wines help to cleanse the palate, allowing you to wade through all the trimmings effortlessly. The Mâconnais is an area to explore for relative value options, particularly for anyone who enjoys riper fruit notes on their Chardonnay.

This Domaine Serene ‘Récolte’ 2016 from Oregon’s Dundee Hills is an example of a bolder style of Chardonnay from the US, showing dried apricot, spice and lots of concentration – but with enough acidity ‘to keep it all in balance’, according to Decanter contributor Charles Curtis.

Other wonderful examples can be found in Victoria in Australia, from Victoria to Adelaide Hills to Margaret River, or in California from Napa Valley to Sonoma’s Russian River Valley to Santa Barbara County.

Don’t overlook South Africa, home to this ‘top-class’ Chardonnay from Hamilton Russell Vineyards, or New Zealand. The Kumeu River Chardonnays made near Auckland are extraordinary wines and are capable of offering fantastic value for money.


Top tip for cooking turkey: 

‘Take off the legs and cook them separately from the crown,’ says Stephen Harris, chef at the Sportsman in Whitstable, Kent. ‘It’s easy to overcook the breast otherwise. I like to confit the legs in goose fat and last year I sous-vided the breast, which worked well.’


Tasting notes: Wine with turkey suggestions


This article has been updated in October 2020 after being originally written by Harry Fawkes in 2015 and 2016. 


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Zachys to auction entire barrel of rare Burgundy in November sale https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/zachys-to-auction-entire-barrel-of-rare-burgundy-in-november-sale-446367/ Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:55:15 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446367 Zachys auction London November 2020
Three magnums of Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet, Montrachet 2017 at an estimate of £3,600- £5,500 ($4,769- $7,286) each.

Zachys has announced details of its second London sale this year, following a debut in September after decades of auctions in New York and Hong Kong. It also represents the auction house’s first multi-vendor sale in Europe. Named ‘London II’, it has a total estimated value of £2m and will take place on Saturday 14 […]

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Zachys auction London November 2020
Three magnums of Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet, Montrachet 2017 at an estimate of £3,600- £5,500 ($4,769- $7,286) each.

Zachys has announced details of its second London sale this year, following a debut in September after decades of auctions in New York and Hong Kong. It also represents the auction house’s first multi-vendor sale in Europe.

Named ‘London II’, it has a total estimated value of £2m and will take place on Saturday 14 November at 10 am GMT via a live video stream from their offices.

The star of the show, with a pre-sale estimate of £90,000 – £140,000 ($119,227 – $185,464), is a sole barrel of Burgundy – Chambolle Musigny ‘Les Sentieres’ 2019 by Domaine Fourrier.

Les Sentieres is the smallest of the celebrated estate’s vineyards at 0.046ha and is situated next to the grand cru Bonnes Mares.

On average only one 228l barrel is produced each year, bottled in magnum and not made available for public sale. The auction presents a rare opportunity to purchase Fourrier’s entire Les Sentieres 2019 production and have it bottled in a format of choice. The buyer will also be invited to the Domaine for a barrel tasting experience with owners and husband and wife team Jean-Marie and Vicki Fourrier.

The barrel joins an array of fine wine lots from famous names including Petrus, Cheval Blanc, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Armand Rousseau, Domaine Leroy, René Engel, Raveneau and Coche-Dury.

Top lots also include three magnums of Château Haut-Brion 1959 which are listed with an estimate of £15,000 – £22,000 ($19,871- $29,144) while six bottles of La Romanee Liger-Belair 2009 have a current bid at the lower estimate £19,000 ($25,170), the higher being £30,000 ($39,742).

A rare collection of white Burgundy from producer Arnaud Ente is also offered including three limited-edition jeroboams of only eight ever produced; Meursault Goutte d`Or, Meursault Les Petits Charrons and Puligny Montrachet Les Referts all from the 2009 vintage. Three magnums of Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet, Montrachet 2017, pictured, also feature at an estimate of £3,600- £5,500 ($4,769- $7,286) each.

Domaine-direct consignments from the cellars of Emidio Pepe and large formats and library bottlings from Marchesi Antinori will also be included.

Aside from wine, there are several remarkable spirits lots including a collection of Chartreuse spanning over 100 years of production from which an exceedingly rare 1l bottle of Chartreuse Jaune Voiron 1840-1869 estimated between £24,000 – £36,000 ($31,794 – $47,691) and a bottle of Chartreuse Blanche Fourvoirie from the period 1878-1903 are presented £9,000 – £14,000 ($11,923 – $18,546).

Japanese whisky also features with four bottles from the Karuizawa Pearl Geisha collection totalling a low estimate of £70,000 ($92,731).

Jeff Zacharia, president, Zachys commented: ‘Our ability to switch to online auctions and the popularity of our unique studio sales means this year has been tremendously successful, despite the global pandemic. The highlight was bringing the Zachys’ business to London for the first time with our debut European auction of wines from the celebrated Enoteca Pinchiorri cellar. We’re delighted to be able to offer Zachys’ clients some new, incredible lots in our November sale.’

Christy Erickson, head of Europe for Zachys said: ‘We were thrilled with the success of our London launch earlier this year and our first multi-vendor sale offers a unique collection of exquisite wines, as well as the first-ever barrel of Burgundy to be sold at auction. Our London debut represented a record for European participation, and we look forward to hosting many more auctions from Europe to service our clientele around the globe.’


Petrus 1926, Mouton 1945 sold in Zachys Michelin restaurant auction

Christie’s reports record online auction interest

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Pairing wine with tricky ingredients https://www.decanter.com/learn/difficult-food-and-wine-pairing-tricky-ingredients-445974/ Wed, 28 Oct 2020 15:00:30 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=445974 difficult wine food pairing
Foods such as smoked salmon, sharp sauces, pickles and vinaigrettes can be tricky to pair with wine.

An extract from the new book from 67 Pall Mall, Wine and Food. The Perfect Match.

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difficult wine food pairing
Foods such as smoked salmon, sharp sauces, pickles and vinaigrettes can be tricky to pair with wine.

Wine pairing with eggs

Egg yolk coats the mouth in a very glutinous manner, and crumbly hard-boiled eggs have a sulphurous quality. As eggs usually are not eaten alone, except at breakfast, wines should be matched against the main flavour ingredient in an egg dish. This could be onion, bacon, salmon, or even red wine, as in Oeufs en Meurette.

To match with hollandaise sauce, Chardonnay is often best, with its creamy, buttery overtones and some oak; if the hollandaise is more lemony, then choose assertive, crisp, high acid wines. Airy, light soufflés do not have a problem with the coating texture of the egg, so when matching food with soufflés, concentrate on the main flavouring.

If it’s cheese, you want a lactic flavour in the accompanying wine, so choose something that has been through malolactic fermentation. Try oak-aged, creamy-textured wine with soft acidity, such as a barrel-aged Chardonnay.

A smoked salmon soufflé, on the other hand, works well with young, assertive Sauvignon Blanc. Mayonnaise can have similar issues to runny egg yolks, so you need a wine match with the acidity to cut through that oiliness.

Therefore, with a Waldorf salad, an English Bacchus would work well, with its very strong celery and grapey character and high acidity. Quail’s and gull’s eggs are more delicate in taste and match well with young Champagne, especially when hard-boiled and dipped in celery salt.

Wine pairing with certain vegetables

Especially tricky to match with wine are artichokes, asparagus, fennel and spinach. Artichokes may make wines taste metallic or sweet, due to a chemical known as cynarin.

Serving the vegetables with lemon juice, light vinaigrettes or lemony hollandaise (all difficult to match with wine in their own right) can help remedy this, as long as you choose young, punchy, crisp wines.

Sauvignon Blanc works well, as does Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Pinot Grigio. Braising the vegetables, adding cream, Parmesan cheese or lemon juice is the best way to soften their edges, making it easier to match them to a wine.

As the vegetable is often a side dish, it does not cause too many problems at a dinner.

Wine pairing with truffles

There is an affinity between truffles and the Nebbiolo grape of northern Italy. Truffles, with their deep, rich and earthy flavours, may overpower some wines, but should not cause issues when used sparingly as a garnish. Old Champagne works very well with white truffle, although Richard Geoffroy – who has been making Dom Pérignon since 1990 – told me his favourite food-and-wine match ever was 1959 Dom Pérignon with a virgin olive oil ice cream, which was s served to him at elBulli restaurant. Classy

Wine pairing with oily fish

Oily fish may distort the flavour of wine, so a wine with a high acid content is best to cut through the oil. High-acid, gentle-flavoured wines are best. Try pairing mackerel or herring with Muscadet, or Gaillac, Soave, Trebbiano or Sauvignon Blanc, or even ice-cold Scandinavian eau de vie.

Try Vinho Verde from northern Portugal with sardines grilled on the beach, or even the red Vinho Verdes. Oily fish are better suited to cooler climate, high-alcohol styles of red wine; try northern Italian reds made with varieties such as Schiava or Viosinho, which is used in Portugal for red Vinho Verde.

I had one of the best seafood meals of my life in Portugal: oily sardines with a red Vinho Verde with rich red cranberry fruit and low tannins.

Wine pairing with smoked foods

These can be difficult to match with wine, depending on just how smoky we are talking. Manzanilla and Fino Sherries go well with smoked foods as do Rieslings from Germany and Australia, with their high acidity and touch of sweetness.

Smoked salmon is quite forgiving with wine, and is classically matched with Chablis or Champagne.

Wine pairing with pickles and sauces 

When you are serving a food with a sharp, sweet, intense accompaniment such as chutney, cranberry sauce, or apple or mint sauces, to name a few, tread carefully.

If you pair a roast leg of lamb with expensive Bordeaux, then throw vinegary mint sauce over the meat, it will kill the wine. Take care and use prudence with any high-sweetness vinegar flavours.

Wine pairing with vinaigrettes 

When you are making a dressing for a dish to be paired with a good wine, consider using flavoured oils, or dressings made with lemon juice or wine. Use vinegar sparingly. Wines to go with vinaigrettes should be sharp whites and, even then, more mellow vinegars such as balsamic, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sherry can be more forgiving.


Or Buy Food and Wine, The Perfect Match here, from Foyles


See also:

‘Nightmare’ food and wine matches – from the sommeliers

Decanter’s guide to pairing wines with truffle dishes

The ten rules of cooking with wine

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Celebrity spirits: which are best? https://www.decanter.com/spirits-1/celebrity-spirits-which-are-best-445979/ Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:03:07 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=445979 Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin, Celebrity spirits
Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin

The relationship between famous people and alcohol used to be simple enough. They drank it in copious quantities, got into fights, broke things (TV sets, hotel windows) and ended up in the gossip columns. But we’ve moved on from the hell-raising days of Richard Burton and Oliver Reed, and celebrity booze today is big business […]

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Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin, Celebrity spirits
Ryan Reynolds Aviation Gin

The relationship between famous people and alcohol used to be simple enough. They drank it in copious quantities, got into fights, broke things (TV sets, hotel windows) and ended up in the gossip columns. But we’ve moved on from the hell-raising days of Richard Burton and Oliver Reed, and celebrity booze today is big business – very big business indeed.

In 2017, while filming in Vancouver, actor Ryan Reynolds ordered a Negroni in a restaurant. It was, he later recalled, ‘the best Negroni I’d ever had in my life’ and, after a few repeat visits, he asked the bartender what was in it. Answer: Aviation, a then little-known craft gin produced in Portland, Oregon.

Within a year, Reynolds had bought his way in as a co-owner. Two years or so after that, and drinks multinational Diageo, the owner of Gordon’s and Tanqueray, had agreed to pay up to US$610 million to acquire Aviation.

The deal, and the price-tag, owed much to Reynolds’ profile and his ambassadorial efforts on Aviation’s behalf – not least his self-effacing humour and endlessly shareable social media content. ‘I really know nothing about gin,’ he told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. ‘If I ran the company for real, it would be on fire.’

The Aviation deal was repeat business for Diageo. In 2018, George Clooney performed the remarkable feat of being the best-paid actor in Hollywood, despite not making a film, simply because Diageo had agreed to pay up to US$1 billion for the Tequila brand he co-founded: Casamigos.

Apart from eye-watering sums, both Aviation and Casamigos share a celebrity association that is – or at least appears to be – rooted in authenticity. Reynolds bought into Aviation because he loved the product; Clooney and his Casamigos co-founders, nightlife tycoon Rande Gerber and real estate guru Mike Meldman, started Casamigos ‘by accident’.

The trio spent a lot of time together in Mexico, and spent a lot of that time drinking Tequila – ‘some good, some not so good and some expensive’, as Gerber later recalled. He added: ‘There came a point where George turned to me and said: “Why don’t we create one that’s perfect for us?”’

The result, after two years and 700 trial samples, was Casamigos. What began as a private venture for friends and family soon escalated to national distribution in bars and restaurants across the US and – a few years down the line – piqued the interest of Diageo.

There’s a similar sheen of serendipity and sincerity about Singani 63, a Bolivian eau-de-vie (or unaged brandy) launched internationally by film director Steven Soderbergh. He was shooting Che in Bolivia in 2008 when the film’s casting director gave him a bottle of singani, Bolivia’s national spirit.

A vodka fan, Soderbergh was bowled over by singani’s smoothness and floral bouquet (derived from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown at altitudes of 1,500m), and vowed to tell the world about it, using his own idiosyncratic marketing approach (check out his lockdown bartender video series, Stir Crazy, on YouTube). He added the ‘63’ as a nod to his birth year.

If drinks companies aren’t exactly beating a path to Soderbergh’s door just yet, that’s probably because most people have no idea what singani is in the first place, compared to the much more familiar gin or Tequila. Anyway, the director insists this is a passion project, rather than a money-making opportunity. Which is probably what Clooney and Reynolds said before Diageo came calling.

But celebrity endorsement can only take you so far. The involvement of a Reynolds, a Clooney or a Soderbergh is a great door-opener – persuading bars to stock the product, or the punters to give it a try. But they’ll only keep coming back for more if they like the taste, and for every Aviation and Casamigos, there’s a legion of famous failures out there. Just try Googling ‘Qream’ and ‘Pharrell Williams’.

That said, the sheen that a committed A-lister can give to a spirits brand is invaluable, so securing their continued involvement is vital to future success. Diageo’s Aviation agreement – like that for Casamigos – was carefully structured: US$610m, but US$335m upfront, with the remaining US$275m dependent on Aviation’s sales over the next decade. As Reynolds said in a humorous email when the deal was announced: ‘I am currently out of the office, but will still be very hard at work selling Aviation Gin.

‘For quite a long time, it seems.’


Drink like a celebrity…

Aviation Gin

At first, the gin that Ryan Reynolds fell in love with seems very American – art deco bottle, juniper-light palate – but the rye spirit base gives it an earthy, spicy backbone more redolent of Amsterdam than Oregon. Anise and lavender lighten the load, but this is a weighty gin that makes an excellent, takes-no-prisoners Martini. Alc 42%


Casamigos Reposado Tequila

Far too many reposado Tequilas let oak overshadow agave, but George Clooney’s Casamigos is aromatic and delicate. The cask is a sweet accompaniment to some textbook agave notes of hedgerow florals, white pepper and light spice, bringing balance rather than dominance. Great for sipping or mixing. Alc 40%


Singani 63

Distilled from Muscat of Alexandria grapes grown high in the Bolivian mountains, Steven Soderbergh’s spirit has an understated, crisp and fresh character. Gentle pepper evokes a light Rhum Agricole, while a splash of water teases out fragrant grape flower notes. Characterful, but elusive. Alc 40%


Wild Turkey Longbranch Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Magic Mike star Matthew McConaughey is also the creative director of Wild Turkey. He helped make this, a textbook Bourbon with a difference, thanks to part-filtration through Texan mesquite charcoal. That brings an intriguingly smoky, spicy undercurrent to plenty of toffee apple sweetness and creamy vanilla. Alc 43%


Crystal Head Vodka

Crystal Head was launched in 2008 by Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd, with a skull-shaped bottle designed by artist friend John Alexander. That bottle is remarkable; what it contains is, risking damnation by faint praise, an OK vodka: a touch of vanilla, edge of spice and white pepper, very clean. Alc 40%


Heaven’s Door Straight Rye

As if being a Nobel Prize-winning genius wasn’t enough, Bob Dylan had to go and help create Heaven’s Door, an insanely good range of American whiskeys. This is the standout: a tangily fruity rye of great depth, ‘finished’ in cigar-shaped Vosges oak casks. Alc 43%


Also try: Best Gins for a Martini

Best Spiced Rums

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Wynns’ John Riddoch: an Australian Cabernet icon https://www.decanter.com/premium/wynns-john-riddoch-an-australian-cabernet-icon-446184/ Wed, 28 Oct 2020 08:00:50 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446184 John Riddoch
Wynns chief winemaker Sue Hodder with the John Riddoch line up

Acceptance of 2016 John Riddoch by La Place de Bordeaux in September – the first Australian wine distributed by this influential vinous marketplace – will see this Cabernet Sauvignon, beloved in Australia, now reach a prestigious network of international fine wine buyers and collectors in more than 100 countries. Fans will also be able to […]

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John Riddoch
Wynns chief winemaker Sue Hodder with the John Riddoch line up

Acceptance of 2016 John Riddoch by La Place de Bordeaux in September – the first Australian wine distributed by this influential vinous marketplace – will see this Cabernet Sauvignon, beloved in Australia, now reach a prestigious network of international fine wine buyers and collectors in more than 100 countries.

Fans will also be able to follow the course of its history in a new book – Imagining Coonawarra: The Story of John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon, written by Andrew Calliard MW of Langton’s auction house.

In keeping with this fanfare, it was timely that Wynns’ senior winemaker Sue Hodder opened a series of John Riddoch back vintages for a public masterclass as part of Coonawarra’s annual Cabernet Celebration festival in mid-October. She showed off examples of vintages from each decade since the introduction of John Riddoch in 1984.

Together, the back vintages of this elegant, medium-bodied style tell a compelling story: that John Riddoch avoids a set recipe to instead pursue different ideas about how to best celebrate Cabernet Sauvignon.

‘Making John Riddoch is my opportunity to point something out about the vintage and the vineyards that I find interesting,’ says Hodder, ‘and I am prone to change my ideas on what’s interesting.’

Making John Riddoch

Hodder initially selects up to 30 separate parcels from at least 16 targeted vineyards that have proven quality levels and distinctive characteristics. She looks for ways to allow the vintage to speak through the resulting blends, mostly from only two or three vineyards.

While fruit from each preferred vineyard has admirable character – from the oldest, Johnson’s (planted in 1954), through to the 2003 nursery block – there’s no guarantee of their place in each year’s combination that makes up a John Riddoch blend.

Each vineyard is allowed to shine separately to the John Riddoch blend, with Wynns having issued a single-vineyard Cabernet Selection each year since 2004. These show a distinctly different personality to the corresponding year’s John Riddoch.

The vertical tasting highlighted the importance of vineyard rejuvenation which viticulturist Allen Jenkins has implemented since 2000.

Tough decisions to grub underperforming or diseased older vines, grafting superior clones and radical retraining of primary canes have resulted in berries producing clean, vital flavours from aged rootstocks.

Hodder is also fussy about whether any particular vintage makes the grade, and is fiercely protective of the prestige that John Riddoch has built up since it was launched in 1982.

On nine occasions, the wine has not been produced –1983, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011 and 2014 – meaning that rigid benchmarks of quality have never been compromised.

In Hodder’s mind, it reinforces that every bottle of John Riddoch is a unique statement and a valid chapter in Wynns Coonawarra Estate’s rich 129-year history.


Tasting 10 vintages of Wynns’ John Riddoch

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Napa 2020 'not lost' despite smoke taint concerns https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/napa-2020-smoke-vintage-not-lost-446248/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:43:48 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446248 napa 2020 smoke
Smoke from the Glass Fire in Napa Valley on 27 September 2020.

Smoke taint concerns and damage from recent wildfires mean fewer Napa Valley 2020 wines are set to be made overall, although the exact amount remains unknown. Trade body Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) said that 80% of its members were still ‘moving forward’ with the vintage. ‘The 2020 vintage, while challenging, is not lost,’ said Linda […]

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napa 2020 smoke
Smoke from the Glass Fire in Napa Valley on 27 September 2020.

Smoke taint concerns and damage from recent wildfires mean fewer Napa Valley 2020 wines are set to be made overall, although the exact amount remains unknown.

Trade body Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) said that 80% of its members were still ‘moving forward’ with the vintage.

‘The 2020 vintage, while challenging, is not lost,’ said Linda Reiff, NVV president and CEO. ‘It’s too soon to speculate on volume, yet we can say it will be smaller than usual,’ she said.

Wildfires near to wine regions across the US west coast have seen laboratories working ‘24/7’ to test harvest samples for any signs of smoke taint in recent weeks.

When the Glass Fire ignited in the Deer Park area of Napa Valley in the early hours of 27 September, some wineries had already been assessing the impact of smoke from wildfires caused by lightning strikes in August.

Several wineries were damaged in the Glass Fire, albeit fewer than 20 suffered significant damage, according to California’s Wine Institute. Many homes were also destroyed and thousands of residents were evacuated from parts of Napa and Sonoma counties.

‘The Glass Fire has been truly frightening and unsettling here in Napa Valley (and in Sonoma), with tragic losses in terms of homes, wineries and land,’ said Beth Novak Milliken, CEO of Spottswoode, which survived unscathed on the valley floor.

‘Our community is pulling together, as it always does, to support and help one another as we forge our path forward.’

There are reports of producers harvesting fewer grapes than normal, yet other winemakers said they have good quality fruit from 2020 so far.

There is also caution, however. Research has shown that undesirable smoke taint aromas, such as ash or wet cigar, may sometimes only become apparent during the winemaking process.

‘I’m focusing on making the very best wine I can and hoping for the best,’ said Cathy Corison, winemaker and co-owner of Corison in St. Helana, who added that ‘everything is looking lovely’. Grapes were harvested by 15 September, before the Glass Fire.

‘All lots have finished fermentation and are pressed and down to barrels, ticking through malolactic fermentation,’ she told Decanter on 22 October.

Spottswoode was testing every lot and hadn’t detected smoke taint from the August lightning fires, said Novak Milliken. Harvest finished a day before the Glass Fire.

Winemaker Aaron Weinkauf and his team worked with smoke respirators in the cellars to manage fermentation, even though some of them had been evacuated from their homes.

Any outcome is still possible, said Novak Milliken, but she added, ‘We are quite optimistic that we will produce both Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2020 vintage.’

As for the labs, ‘we are still working 24/7 to assist our client[s] with possible smoke impact issues,’ said Gordon Burns, president and technical director of ETS Laboratories, based in St. Helena.

‘Turnaround times are now approaching normal, and there is some light at the end of the tunnel,’ he said.

At NVV, Reiff sought to reassure drinkers. ‘Only wine worthy of having Napa Valley on the label will make it into the bottle,’ she said.

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Domaine Michel Lafarge: Tasting three decades of Clos des Chênes https://www.decanter.com/premium/domaine-michel-lafarge-tasting-three-decades-of-clos-des-chenes-446131/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 10:19:24 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446131 Michel Lafarge in the vineyard in Volnay. Domaine Michel Lafarge

In November of most years, Richard Orders, a wine collector based in Hong Kong, generously opens up Burgundy bottles from his extensive collection to share with a select group of like-minded individuals. Scroll down to see Robin Kick MW’s Domaine Michel Lafarge tasting notes and scores Verticals of one or two vineyards are highlighted from […]

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Michel Lafarge in the vineyard in Volnay. Domaine Michel Lafarge

In November of most years, Richard Orders, a wine collector based in Hong Kong, generously opens up Burgundy bottles from his extensive collection to share with a select group of like-minded individuals.


Scroll down to see Robin Kick MW’s Domaine Michel Lafarge tasting notes and scores


Verticals of one or two vineyards are highlighted from a given domaine and often the producer is present in order to share his or her thoughts, shed light on the harvest conditions or winemaking.


See Robin Kick MW’s Domaine Michel Lafarge tasting notes and scores


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Domaine Belleville: A new Burgundy name to look out for

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US start-up makes aged spirits in 'days not years' https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/barrel-aged-spirits-days-bespoken-446106/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 09:41:59 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446106 barrel-aged whiskies
Ageing is a legal requirement for some whiskies, including Scotch.

US-based Bespoken Spirits said its new ‘sustainable maturation process’ could save the spirits industry $20bn by replacing the ‘wasteful’ barrel-ageing process; a reference to the ‘angels’ share’ lost via evaporation during maturation. It said the patent-pending technology can enhance a spirit’s aroma, colour and taste, ‘enabling almost limitless recipes within days, not years’. The US […]

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barrel-aged whiskies
Ageing is a legal requirement for some whiskies, including Scotch.

US-based Bespoken Spirits said its new ‘sustainable maturation process’ could save the spirits industry $20bn by replacing the ‘wasteful’ barrel-ageing process; a reference to the ‘angels’ share’ lost via evaporation during maturation.

It said the patent-pending technology can enhance a spirit’s aroma, colour and taste, ‘enabling almost limitless recipes within days, not years’.

The US start-up recently announced $2.6m in seed funding from several investors, including TJ Rodgers, owner of Clos de la Tech winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains and member of the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame.

Martin Janousek, Bespoken Spirits cofounder and material scientist, said the firm’s process uses ‘the same all-natural elements of wood, toast, and char’, and helps ‘distillers, rectifiers, breweries, and retailers design and produce premium quality products quickly’.

As well as producing its own spirits, Janousek said, ‘We typically work with customers who want to mature a young spirit quickly to generate revenues faster, or who are unhappy with an already matured spirit.’

Many spirits lovers would argue that the complexity and diversity of flavour delivered by barrel ageing over many years is hard to fully replace, however.

Aged and rare whiskies, in particular, are highly prized and have also been increasingly sought-after by collectors in recent years. A single bottle of 60-year-old Macallan single malt Scotch fetched a world record £1.5m ($1.9m) at a Sotheby’s auction in London in October 2019.

When it comes to labelling, ageing requirements for some spirits are enshrined in law in several countries.

In EU member states, whisky must be aged for at least three years in wooden casks. This mirrors the ageing requirement for Scotch whisky, although the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) also specifies oak casks.

There are also ageing requirements for American whiskies, although rules vary by type. A ‘straight Bourbon whiskey’ must be aged for at least two years in charred, new oak casks, according to the US Alcohol Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB).

‘There will always be a segment of the market that will only drink barrel-aged spirits,’ Bespoken Spirits co-founder Stu Aaron told Decanter. ‘However, this is a shrinking segment.’

He said the firm’s customers prefer spirits to beer and wine but don’t have a favourite brand. They are tech-savvy and are interested in value, variety and sustainability, he said.

When working with third-party clients, he said, ‘Often the customer will come with a specific aroma, colour or taste in mind. Other times, the customer doesn’t know exactly what they’re looking for. In either scenario, we create 12-18 samples to test.’


You might also like: 

1926 Macallan Scotch whisky breaks auction record

How to invest in whisky

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Discover award-winning English wines at Grape Britannia https://www.decanter.com/decanter-world-wine-awards/discover-award-winning-english-wines-grape-britannia-446066/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 09:30:08 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446066 Awarded a record number of medals at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards, discover some of the UK's top-scoring wines with award-winning retailer Grape Britannia.

Now until 20 December 2020, while stock lasts, Grape Britannia is offering Decanter readers 10% off their DWWA 2020 mixed case online with the code DWWA2020 at checkout, including Best in Show medal winner Roebuck Estates Classic Cuvee Brut 2014. Scroll down to see all the award-winning English wines included in this promotion Proud to stock […]

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Awarded a record number of medals at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards, discover some of the UK's top-scoring wines with award-winning retailer Grape Britannia.

Now until 20 December 2020, while stock lasts, Grape Britannia is offering Decanter readers 10% off their DWWA 2020 mixed case online with the code DWWA2020 at checkout, including Best in Show medal winner Roebuck Estates Classic Cuvee Brut 2014.


Scroll down to see all the award-winning English wines included in this promotion


Proud to stock exclusively English and Welsh wines, Grape Britannia sells both online and through its shop and bar in Cambridge, UK.

Founded in 2019 by husband and wife team Matt and Natalie Hodgson, Grape Britannia’s vision is to showcase an unrivalled range of exceptional quality, locally sourced and expertly curated English and Welsh wines.

Grape Britannia is the Decanter Retailer Awards 2020 England & Wales Specialist Retailer of the Year

Matt and Natalie have travelled the length and breadth of England and Wales, visiting countless vineyards, to select the best examples of winemaking on these shores. They now stock over 200 wines – not just from the internationally renowned English Sparkling Wine category, but dozens of the now world-class still wines of all shades, together with dessert and fortified wines. Organic, natural and biodynamic wines feature throughout the range.


Read more: Top 10 English wines of DWWA 2020

See Decanter Retailer Awards 2020 results


Awarded a minimum of 90 points and re-tasted up to four separate times in the DWWA judging process, the Silver, Gold and Best in Show English wines included in Grape Britannia’s mixed case offer outstanding examples of the high quality wines – both still and sparkling – that England is able to produce.

Discover what this award-winning wine retailer has selected to share with you…

Grape Britannia x DWWA 2020

Use the code DWWA2020 at checkout to save 10% now until 20 December 2020, while supplies last

Roebuck Estates, Classic Cuvee Brut, West Sussex, United Kingdom 2014

Best in Show, 97 points
A pale, silvery hue and a stream of fine bubbles, followed by keen, ultra-fresh aromas in which the graceful, creamy notes of fine Chardonnay mingle with deeper fruits from the two Pinots: apple, pear, quince. Everything sketched out on the nose is delivered with great precision and focus on the palate in this refined and searching wine, and its length and persistence on the finish is testament to the kind of slow acquisition of phenolic (or flavour) ripeness which Southern England’s climate now permits. That vivacity and assurance are re-defining the boundaries for northern, high-latitude sparkling wine creation: taste it here.

Gusbourne, Blanc de Noirs, Kent, United Kingdom 2016

Gold, 95 points
Fragrant and multi-layered, with concentrated, elegant strawberry and redcurrant, wrapped in refreshing acidity and fleshed out by toasty autolytic notes, finally revealing almond and peach stone.

Chapel Down, Kit’s Coty Chardonnay, Kent, United Kingdom 2017

Gold, 95 points
Complex and structured, with fresh acidity balanced by huge fruit including bruised apple, apricot and tart peach, with overtones of smoke, butter and vanilla.<

Charles Palmer, Pinot Noir, East Sussex, United Kingdom 2018

Silver, 91 points
Very appealing Pinot nose of aromatic raspberry fruit, followed by crunchy berry and rhubarb on a concentrated, powerful and long palate.

Albourne Estate, Bacchus, West Sussex, United Kingdom 2018

Silver, 90 points
Fine concentration of lemon and lime fruit which show weight, texture and an underlying saline, seashell minerality.

Lyme Bay, Pinot Noir Rosé, Devon, United Kingdom 2018

Silver, 90 points
Bright and vibrant, with red currant, orange zest, lemon and apple blossom scents, backed by an expressive, refreshing palate possessing red apple and raspberry.


Shop this selection of DWWA 2020 English wines from Grape Britannia here


About Grape Britannia

Address: 1A Arbury Rd, Cambridge CB4 2JB
Website: www.grapebritannia.co.uk
Promotion period: Now until 20 December 2020
Promotion details: 10% off DWWA mixed case online
Online promo code: DWWA2020

Follow Grape Britannia
Twitter @grapebritannia
Instagram @grape_britannia
Facebook @grapebritannia

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New Côtes du Rhône Villages appellation granted - Nyons https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/new-cotes-du-rhone-villages-appellation-granted-nyons-446138/ Mon, 26 Oct 2020 11:51:52 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446138 Cotes du Rhone Villages Nyons

The new appellation of Côtes du Rhône Villages Nyons was officially granted by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) on 15th October 2020, bringing the total number of Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages with a geographical name to 22. The growing area is spread over four communes in the Southern Rhône: Nyons, Mirabel-aux-Baronnies, Piégon and Venterol. The new […]

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Cotes du Rhone Villages Nyons

The new appellation of Côtes du Rhône Villages Nyons was officially granted by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine (INAO) on 15th October 2020, bringing the total number of Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages with a geographical name to 22.

The growing area is spread over four communes in the Southern Rhône: Nyons, Mirabel-aux-Baronnies, Piégon and Venterol.

The new appellation has been 22 years in the making since the local growers’ association made their original application in 1998. President of the appellation Pierre-Michel More says ‘the dossier was presented several times but on each occasion, there was a little detail that we needed to work on.’

The main issue was an over-reliance on Grenache, so growers increased plantings of Syrah in response. The other principal grape variety grown here is Mourvèdre, with very little Cinsault or Carignan. The appellation covers still, dry, red wines only.

The new appellation covers an area of approximately 300ha in the northeast part of the Southern Rhône. Most vineyards are on hillsides, rising to 300m altitude. The soils are predominantly clay-limestone with limestone gravels resulting from hillside erosion. Proximity to the Prealps brings a vibrancy to the wines, as do cool night temperatures, which, says More, ‘bring a freshness to our wines,’ a key part of the appellation’s typicity.

Local winemaker Chantal Giniès from organic Domaine Giniès in Piégon praised the time invested in the project by the previous generation, saying ‘the quality of our wine has finally been recognised, after all the efforts made to raise standards.’

Winemakers will be permitted to use the appellation from the 2020 vintage, and the first wines will be released onto the market in spring/summer 2021.

The region is also well known for other products; Nyons was the first AOC in Europe granted for olives in 1994, for products made from the Tanche variety.

Previous to Nyons, the most recent named village granted by the INAO was Côtes du Rhône Villages Saint-Andéol in 2018.

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Smith-Madrone: Tasting a Napa Valley pioneer https://www.decanter.com/premium/smith-madrone-wines-producer-profile-432102/ Mon, 26 Oct 2020 11:00:47 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=432102 smith-madrone wines
Smith-Madrone vineyards in Spring Mountain, Napa Valley.

One of Napa's pioneer estates...

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smith-madrone wines
Smith-Madrone vineyards in Spring Mountain, Napa Valley.

Smith-Madrone is one of Napa Valley’s pioneer estates. It was founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, known as Stu, who is here for this tasting and is sporting a greying beard and impressive brush moustache as the morning light streams into the ivy-covered barn winery high on Spring Mountain


See Elin McCoy’s Smith-Madrone tasting notes and scores

Additional tasting notes added October 2020. 


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Decanter Premium turns three https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/decanter-premium-turns-three-446052/ Mon, 26 Oct 2020 10:00:01 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446052 Decanter Premium anniversary, Decanter Premium Birthday

We look back at the last three years…

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Decanter Premium anniversary, Decanter Premium Birthday

A lot has changed over the course of three years; back in 2017 when we launched Decanter Premium there wasn’t an app in sight. In 2019, we unveiled the Decanter Premium app which allowed subscribers to access to all things Decanter Premium on their smartphones and tablets. Subscribers could also enjoy the latest issues of the magazine whilst out and about, as well as a library of issues dating back to 2013.

Since 2017 the wine database has more than tripled in size and now boasts over 42,000 tasting notes. Our team of world-class regional wine experts have published over 1,000 articles, keeping members up to date with the ever-evolving world of fine wine.

Hundreds of members have enjoyed priority booking to our sought-after tutored tastings at Decanter’s Fine Wine Encounters with some of the world’s best producers including Dom Pérignon, Gaja and Château Montrose to name a few.

Decanter Bordeaux Fine Wine Encounter 2019

The wines for the Château Phélan Ségur masterclass were: Château Phélan Ségur, St-Estèphe 2016, 2015, 2014, 2010, 2008, 2005, 2001, 1999, 1990 and Frank Phélan, St-Estèphe 2014.

The last year…

The last 12 months have been filled with great content. This year saw the launch of the Decanter Premium Collector’s Guide, the first in a series of guides on fine wine investing and collecting, beginning with Piedmont. Keep your eyes peeled for the next edition which will focus on the Napa Valley.

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns meant that the Bordeaux 2019 en primeur campaign was an unusual one. However, with Decanter’s Jane Anson based in Bordeaux, she was able to deliver even more tasting notes and wine reviews than ever. Tasting close to 1,000 wines, Anson described it as an ‘unhesitatingly a successful vintage in Bordeaux’.

Early summer saw wine legend Robert Parker receive the Decanter Hall of Fame award for 2020. As well as an extended version of the interview between Parker and Andrew Jefford, Decanter Premium subscribers had exclusive access to Parker reviewing a selection of his most memorable 100-point wines from a 2020 perspective.

Most importantly, thank you to all our Decanter Premium subscribers – cheers to three years and to many more expert articles, wine reviews and exclusive interviews in the years to come.

A selection of the most read articles from the last 12 months…


If you aren’t already a subscriber to Decanter Premium – click here and use the code PREMIUMTHREE to enjoy 20% off when you subscribe today.


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Prosecco property: Stunning vineyard for sale in Italy's north east https://www.decanter.com/property/prosecco-property-stunning-vineyard-for-sale-in-italys-north-east-446096/ Sun, 25 Oct 2020 12:00:47 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446096 Prosecco estate for sale

A rare opportunity to purchase a Prosecco wine estate in the countryside of Friuli-Venezia Giulia...

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Prosecco estate for sale

This spectacular and sprawling estate covers 108 hectares within the province of Pordenone, in the medieval municipality of San Vito al Tagliamento, located Italy’s north east corner around an hour from the Slovenia border. It is listed for €11.5million (£10.3m, $13,6m USD.)

The land is cultivated with 19.4ha of vineyards for the production of DOC Prosecco plus a further 29.9ha currently rented out and used as a training ground for rooted vines. A total of 53.4ha is arable land used for corn, sorghum and alfalfa with a 3,000sqm landscaped garden and 14x8m outdoor swimming pool.

Availability

‘There are some wine estates generally available in the Prosecco region, but not many,’ said Marta Brunellini Romolini, Estate agent with Agenzia Romolini Immobiliare S.r.l. and Christie’s International Real Estate with whom the property is listed. Some are ‘officially’ for sale while others experiencing financial difficulties try to sell more privately she said.

In terms of price, Romolini said the most prestigious vineyards, in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG can fetch up to 400,000 euros per hectare, with peaks ‘even in the region of one million euros on the Cartizze hill where, however, there is nothing officially available at the moment.’

In the DOC Prosecco region, between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, the value of vineyards is lower, lying in the region of 200,000 euros per hectare.

Prosecco wine estate for sale

The beautiful landscaped gardens

The Market

Romolini said that ‘wine estates have been the most requested pieces of real estate in the past three years at least’ and listed three typical searches:

  • A hobby vineyard (usually combined with a farmhouse or a manor villa either for permanent residency or as a vacation home)
  • A small business usually in the region of 5 million euros
  • A castle, manor or luxury villa with an annexed vineyard, cellar and wine production facility. The presence of an architecturally interesting building gives the ‘wow factor’ and is also a potential label image for the bottles

Typical buyers comprise private investors, newly retired businesspeople or larger international groups with US citizens, Northern and Eastern Europeans, Argentinians and Chinese cited as the most interested.

This estate

The multi-purpose complex comprises over a dozen buildings with an interior space covering 8,577sqm. It including ten habitable houses – the 18th century manor taking pride of place, alongside a warden’s apartment, a 15th consecrated century chapel, three stables, a warehouse, a two-storey barn, an old mill, storage rooms and space for further construction.

The main villa underwent restoration in 2003 and features an ample event hall, professional kitchen and Italian art works on the walls.

The chapel provides seating for 40 people and is dedicated to the saints Pietro and Paolo with a fresco from 1511.

Chapel - Prosecco wine estate for sale

The chapel dedicated to the saints Pietro and Paolo and dating back to the 15th century

The largest house – the Gastaldia, has 13 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms and is set on three levels.

Separated from the main complex is an additional hamlet comprised of four buildings, an eight-room warehouse, house with two apartments, a farmhouse and 5-bedroom residence.

Prosecco wine estate for sale

Restored features in the grand living areas

There is also an old, 115sqm watermill dating back to the early 16th century and expanded in the 18th century which still hosts the original machinery and historic stone archways.

In total, there are 30 bedrooms and 29 bathrooms across the dwellings and the estate currently runs as a successful accommodation business and event space for weddings, meetings and summits as well as its wine operations.

Prosecco wine estate for sale

The vast 108ha estate

Each year harvested Glera grapes produce approximately 360,000 bottles of what is described as ‘excellent Prosecco’.

The estate has potential to be further renovated increasing the number of bedrooms as well as expanding wine tourism efforts allowing people to learn how the vineyards are cared for and the production methods of Prosecco.

The property is ideally located close to a small town providing the necessary services as well as in easy reach to several cities and landmarks in northern Italy from the golden beaches of Lignano Sabbiadoro 29km away to the unique city of Venice 88km away. The closest airport are Trieste Ronchi dei Legionari and Venezia Marco Polo, 52 and 77km away respectively.

Pordenone is one of the four provinces that make up the Prosecco DOC alongside Gorizia, Trieste and Udine and is enclosed by the Carnic Prealps mountain range and a wide plain bordered by several rives including the Livenza and the Tagliamento which flows from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

Prosecco wine estate for sale

The outdoor swimming pool

Looking further afield, Romolini highlighted the top areas for vineyard interest in Italy;

  • Tuscany – the most popular in terms of number of requests
  • Chianti Classico
  • Montalcino
  • Bolgheri
  • Prosecco area
  • Barolo area
  • Amarone
  • Sicily
  • Apulia

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Tequila: a taste of terroir https://www.decanter.com/spirits-1/tequila-terroir-a-taste-of-445078/ Sat, 24 Oct 2020 12:00:27 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=445078 Las Pomez estate, tequila terroir
Ocho’s Las Pomez rancho, or estate, lies at 2,055m in the iron-rich soils of the Jalisco highlands region

The concept of terroir is starting to be explored with single-site bottlings...

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Las Pomez estate, tequila terroir
Ocho’s Las Pomez rancho, or estate, lies at 2,055m in the iron-rich soils of the Jalisco highlands region

When you think about tequila, the last thing that comes to mind is probably terroir. Long viewed as a spirit to slam back, chased with bitter lemon wedges, or as a crowd-pleaser in Margarita cocktails, tequila has moved on from its traditional party image in recent years. Indeed, this distinctive spirit, so evocative of Mexico, can now command a space at the connoisseurs’ table, as education that this is a spirit to sip and savour trickles down.

The increasing popularity of premium, high-quality tequila has gone hand-in-hand with more intellectual ways of appreciating the spirit – and the discussion around terroir is certainly part of this newer discourse.

So how does the concept of terroir apply in tequila? Going back to basics, the raw material used to make tequila is Blue Weber agave, a particular strain of plant that looks like a giant pineapple, with long, sword-like leaves. Much like grape vines, the agave plant has many different varieties, all with their own shapes and flavour characteristics.

You can try many of these different strains in other agave-based spirits such as mezcal. However, tequila producers are only legally allowed to use Blue Weber, a variety that takes roughly six to eight years to mature before it can be harvested by hand.

‘Blue Weber agave was chosen for tequila because it’s one of the sweetest,’ explains Arantxa García Barroso of Patrón Tequila, as we walk the fields, avoiding the razor-sharp ends of the agave leaves stretching up into the azure-blue sky.

Sugar highs – and lows

Tequila’s party image can be traced back to producers in decades gone by, who decided to chase a ‘pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap’ strategy. Out went the old, traditional equipment that was more time-consuming and less efficient to use yet produced a more flavourful spirit, and in came highly industrialised equipment that stripped every single sugar out of the Blue Weber agave plant for fermentation, scorching it in the process.

This approach saw the advent of mixto tequila – the recipe for this can legally include as little as 51% Blue Weber agave, with the remaining 49% made up of ‘other sugars’, such as cane sugar. Unsurprisingly, these blends were rough-and-ready spirits that damaged the tequila category’s reputation.

The last 10-15 years have seen a steady move against mixtos. Spirits lovers will now often look for the magic words ‘100% agave’ on a label before buying, treating it as a signifier of quality. And so tequila’s status has risen.

Blue Weber agave

The piñas or hearts of freshly cut Blue Weber agave plants at Patrón Tequila

Lay of the land

While tequila is made in a handful of Mexican states, the heartland of production is in the state of Jalisco, which can roughly be split into two: the highlands, or Los Altos, with its rust-red soil and higher elevation; and the valley, or El Valle, boasting a mountainous backdrop and the evocative town of Tequila with its cobbled streets and numerous distilleries.

It is here that discussion of terroir in tequila starts, as tequilas made with agaves grown in the highlands are more floral and fruity, thanks to the cooler nights and iron- rich soils in which the agave are grown, while those from the valley have a more vegetal, herbaceous and peppery profile.

‘According to historical references, the Blue Weber agave was originally found in the valley of Jalisco, and it’s believed that it was then transported to the highlands somewhere in the late 1800s, with the first production of those highland tequilas in the very late 1800s or early 1900s,’ explains Tomas Estes, the European tequila ambassador and co-owner of Tequila Ocho.

‘What I find interesting is that the agaves grown in the highlands now have a higher market value than those in the valley,’ he continues. ‘This indicates that the producers value the highland agave more, so from a terroir perspective, where they have found this plant growing naturally seems to be less attractive than where it’s been transported to.’

While most tequila producers happily espouse the differences between highland and valley tequilas and leave it at that, Estes and his business partner Carlos Camarena – a revered distiller who makes tequila in the slow, artisanal way – have progressed the conversation concerning tequila and terroir much further in the creation of their Ocho Tequila brand.

Burgundian inspiration

The story doesn’t start in Mexico, but in Burgundy in the 1980s, after Estes opened a Mexican restaurant called Café Pacifico in Paris. ‘I started going to Burgundy in 1984 and fell in love with that spot. This is the way that I arrived at my interest in terroir. For 19 consecutive years, starting in 1989, I went every single year to taste the wines en primeur,’ he remembers.

‘In June or July I would go and see the producers, including Bruno Clavelier in Vosne-Romanée and Franck Grux of Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet, and would often walk their vineyards with them. They would show me grand cru, premier cru, village and generic plots of land. I became fascinated with the idea and it was the basis of my idea to look at the role of terroir in agave,’ explains Estes.

When Camarena approached him with the idea of jointly producing a tequila, Estes’ first idea was to create a product that was exceptionally expressive in terms of the agave flavour. ‘Once we had the sample that we thought was the best, then I said to Carlos: “You know what many people say about the relationship between valley and highland tequilas? Can we go 1,000 steps further than that and make a single-field, technically single-vineyard, tequila?” And he replied: “Yes we can, but be careful, because they’re going to be different…”

‘I thought, bravo, let’s go against conformity. In those days, producers were going for distillates that brought the customer a consistent taste profile or product.’

This consistency of flavour is brought about through the blending of distillates from different sites in order to reach a specific profile – something at complete odds to what Ocho does.

Site specific

In the 12 years the duo have worked on the project, they have released 24 vintage tequilas from 23 different ranchos (agave ranches), including two from El Vergel in 2007 and 2018, publishing details of the altitude, aspect and character of each site. While each tequila is undoubtedly different from the other, there is still something distinctly Ocho running through them all, with the fruity, distinct agave character of citrus fruit, earthiness and sometimes a honeyed sweetness, sitting alongside a distinct peppery character.

And despite tequila and wine being worlds apart in terms of flavour and product, Estes sees the similarities between Ocho’s tequilas and the wines of Burgundy. ‘Both use one variety – Pinot Noir for Burgundy, Blue Weber for tequila – and it’s the same producer using the same production methods, but the agave or the grapes are coming from different specific plots of land. So the variable in these products is the location from which the raw material has been sourced.’

As tequila’s image as a premium spirits category develops, so too will the fascinating exploration of the nuances of this product, and Ocho’s travels in terroir will continue to be central to this exciting movement.


Three terroir tequilas to try

Tequila bottles

Olmeca Altos Plata

A typical highland tequila, Olmeca Altos was created by maestro tequilero Jesús Hernández and two internationally renowned bartenders. Aromas of agave and spring blossom lead onto a floral palate of chalk and lemons, with a pleasing cocoa finish. Alcohol 38%

Tequila Fortaleza Blanco

The tiny Fortaleza distillery is situated in Tequila town and makes small batches of tequila by hand. Sourcing its agave from the valley, there’s a distinctive grassiness and warm agave character, plus lemon zest, cooling mint and sea salt. Alc 40%

Ocho Las Presas Blanco 2018

Las Presas, or ‘The Dams’ is a ranch that was owned by distiller Carlos Camarena’s great-grandfather. With an altitude of 2,170m and an east-west aspect, the agave rows are planted north to south in order to receive the most sunlight without the plants shading each other. The unmistakable Ocho pepper and clear agave characters are present, along with tropical fruit notes of guava, melon and pineapple, and a green olive note too. Alc 40%


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NY restaurant couple mistakenly served $2000 Mouton 1989 after ordering $18 Pinot https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/new-york-restaurant-mistake-mouton-rothschild-1989-446051-446051/ Sat, 24 Oct 2020 10:00:42 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=446051 restaurant mistake mouton

A mix-up with the decanters led to couple getting wine listed for $2,000...

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restaurant mistake mouton

Staff at Balthazar poured the two wines into identical decanters, but the one containing Mouton Rothschild 1989 was accidentally sent to the young couple’s table, said the New York restaurant’s owner, Keith McNally.

Four Wall Street businessmen at another table had ordered the Bordeaux First Growth – the most expensive wine on the restaurant’s list at $2,000 (£1,528) – but were served the $18 Pinot, the restaurant’s cheapest, said McNally on his Instagram account.

A spokesperson for McNally clarified that the incident happened back in 2002.

None of the diners appeared to initially spot the error, McNally said, reporting that Balthazar’s manager on the night said the host of the business dinner praised the cheaper wine’s purity.

The young couple ‘jokingly pretended to be drinking an expensive wine’, he said.

Mouton Rothschild 1989 was rated 97 points by Decanter’s Jane Anson at a tasting in 2018, and it ranks among the Pauillac estate’s top vintages.

Balthazar’s manager realised the error after five minutes, said McNally, who was previously named the ‘restaurateur who invented downtown’ by the New York Times.

He said he rushed down to the restaurant and decided to come clean, despite both tables enjoying their evening with the wines they’d been served. He said it was ‘unthinkable’ to take the Mouton away from the couple.

He said the businessman replied that he had thought the wine wasn’t a Mouton, while ‘the young couple were ecstatic by the restaurant’s mistake, and told me it was like the bank making an error in their favour’.

McNally added, ‘The trouble was, it was me who was down $2,000, not the bank.’ Both parties left the restaurant happy, however.

It isn’t the only example of a restaurant making a mistake over the wine served.

Last year, a diner at Hawksmoor steak restaurant in Manchester, UK, was accidentally served a bottle of Pomerol’s Château Le Pin 2001, which was £4,500 on its wine list.

Updated 27/10/2020 to include extra comment on when the events described by McNally took place. 


Interview: NBA star Moe Harkless on wine

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Mouton Rothschild: Profile and tasting notes

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Abruzzo's Trebbiano: Breaking the mould https://www.decanter.com/premium/trebbiano-d-abruzzo-breaking-the-mould-445118/ Sat, 24 Oct 2020 07:00:08 +0000 https://www.decanter.com/?p=445118 Trebbiano d'Abruzzo wines

Time to track these whites down...

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Trebbiano d'Abruzzo wines

It’s fair to say that Trebbiano is not a glamorous grape. Widely planted throughout most of Italy, its reputation is one of a ‘workhorse’ variety with a largely neutral aroma and flavour profile. So how is it possible that one of Italy’s greatest white wines – Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo – is also made from this variety?


Tasting Trebbiano d’Abruzzo:


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