Thursday, 28 July 2011

Averys History Project – In the beginning…

Mimi Avery
In June I was tasked with researching the history of Averys.

I am Mimi Avery 5th Generation Avery in Averys, my father, Francis John still works in the firm and my grandfather Ronald, who really put us on the map, passed away in 1976. The business is listed as established 1793.

I was aware that projects of this sort had been done in the past so my first task was to locate these. This is easier said than done, if any of you are aware of my fathers filing system (folders of paperwork, unlabelled, in document boxes labelled “taken from top left drawer of desk) no note as to which office move this related to – most helpful. Luckily my ‘man’ on the ground was my mother, Sarah, at the family home, she manages to rescue important pieces and squirrels them away in the morning room cupboards. So it was with relative ease that she handed me my Grandmother’s bound selection of newspaper, magazine articles and eulogies post Ronald’s Funeral, along with Hilary Clout’s “A short History of Averys & Co Bristol” June 1979, K.C.Bourke’s “Wine Merchant out of Bristol”, circa 1969/70 and My fathers Oxford university summer dissertation “The problems of production, marketing and packaging of wines in the United States of America” oct. 1964.

I plan to continue the hunt and regularly blog and tweet the more interesting findings over the next few months to give you more of a feel of what we do, why we do it and how we do it so well.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

...and at Number 4

Bryn continues his countdown of his top 6 favourite wines we have here at Averys. After two South African wines at numbers six and five, its time for something a little more classical.

Winemaker Olivier Cazenave
Olivier Cazenave was the first wine-maker I met after I started at Averys. For weeks before, the senior guys and our buyers were slowly getting more and more excited about his visit. I wondered to myself who he was? Was he going to appear out of some kind of elaborate fire show in a puff of smoke? Large gaggles of women crowding around fainting if he so much as turned his gnarly but Dolce & Gabana catalogue-worthy face in their direction? I wondered what kind of person could conjure such a hushed sense of excitement in the office. And then he appeared….not that I noticed mind you. No fire show, no screaming women. Just a normal bloke with a fairly rough t-shirt and jeans. I wondered where all the pomp and circumstance I had come to expect from Bordeaux lay. I’m glad to say that it never appeared.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Mature Burgundy lunch - and a Lazarus 1923!

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

I had lunch today with the generous client who'd provided the old Aussie wines for tasting the other night (see other post).

He'd been kind enough to line up a magnum of 1979 Burgundy so I dug out a couple of interesting, but ullaged and potentially challenging, old halves. In case of a complete wipe out I had some young white in the car, but luckily it stayed there!

We ate at the restaurant of a friend who had been a guest at the Australian tasting and he pulled out all the stops for lunch. I haven't got pics but I'll list the dishes at the end and urge anyone visiting Bristol to check out the Pump House. Today's lunch was awesome.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Bryn's top six count down continues: Number 5...

Our roaming wine advisor Bryn continues his countdown of his top six favourite wines from his two years with Averys. And it’s another South African at number five!

Vondeling Sauvignon Blanc 2009 - £8.99

‘Granite! Granite! Glorious granite! Nothing quite like it for old Savvy Blanc!’ exclaims brilliant young winemaker Matthew Copeland. It is precisely this knowledge, passion and skill that tempted me to send off my CV to apply for harvest internship with Matthew in February 2012.

Vondeling is situated on a rocky granite outcrop on the slopes of the Paarderberg where the farm benefits from unique microclimates and very complex soil profiles. These microclimates give the Vondeling vines a longer ripening season than most of the other appellations in South Africa, so the grapes are able to reach the peak of maturity before being picked. Matthew has been the winemaker here since 2007 having worked in a number of challenging places around the world, and he has been garnering an enviable reputation for making wines of elegance, purity and finesse, almost European in style.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

One-off Australian tasting

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

Corks were pulled on this unique line up of wines by a generous customer of Averys. Originally purchased by him from Langtons, at auction in Australia, they had been shipped to his UK cellar and subsequently to California and Canada before returning to these shores. Whilst the owner is now back living in New South Wales, he’s finally baulked at the import tax involved in re-patriating them, and so was born the idea of opening a selection from the cellar whilst he was in the UK.

These were well travelled bottles, many had degrees of ullage and some had clearly been seeping. We were expecting about a 50% hit rate.

Bottles had been standing in our Bristol cellars for about 3 weeks, having been collected from a couple of locations in the UK. I arrived early and opened bottles in advance, leaving them standing, uncorked, to benefit from a slow oxygenation for a couple of hours prior to tasting. There was some concern that the weaker bottles might topple over with air but, in the end, most seemed to grow and blossom with a little O2 and none fell apart.

Whilst there were few rock stars amongst the line up that doesn’t do justice to how exciting it was to see so many well-preserved, mature and delicious old wines. It was pretty much a ‘dry bucket’ tasting – no spitting – but we were drinking proper Australian wine history.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Bryn is off to get his hands dirty...

Bryn Stephens is one of our specialist wine advisors here at Averys, and is approaching his last month with the company. He is off to get his hands dirty, experiencing the mayhem and carnage that is harvest time on wineries! Whilst travelling to places like Bordeaux and South Africa, he will be updating us on the ins and outs of how the wonder that is wine, is made. But for his last few weeks he will be counting down his top 6 wines from the last two years.

I have long been a fan of South African wines, indeed it was a trip to South Africa in 2003 to see my brother that I think kick started my love affair with the vine! And I’m tolerably certain that it was a bottle of 2001 reserve Cabernet from Rhebokskloof that did it… or it could have been the Baksberg Elbar….. or possibly the Kanonkop Pinotage… maybe even the friendly waitress Truschen, at Vrede en Lust (I always wonder whether she did follow her dream and open up a café in London?), but whichever experience it was out of the several hundred I had that fortnight, I was hooked. It was then a delight to find some utterly spell-binding South African wines back here in the UK.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Jane MacQuitty’s 50 Top reds for Summer

We are pleased to blog that our 2009 Averys Project Winemaker Carignan was included in Jane MacQuitty's recent Top 50 Reds for the Summer feature in The Times.

We're absolutely delighted that Project Winemaker, already a firm customer favourite, is also picking up accolades in the press.