Monday, 22 August 2011

Domaine Huet’s 2010 Vouvrays

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

Noël Pinguet and his wife Marie-Françoise
Why, oh why don’t more people drink these wines? Only Riesling can rival Chenin Blanc in terms of versitility and longevity – what other white grape can be made in every style from bone-dry to lusciously sweet to fizzy and have the potential to effortlessly out-live most of us? – yet the great examples of the Loire Valley remain true insiders’ wines and almost criminally under-valued.

In a world where 1st growths cost more than BMWs, the great wines of Vouvray offer a fascinating option for collectors laying down a cellar. Long-lived, complex and fabulous with food, there are real treats in store for those who explore the wines of this region.

Our departing wine advisor reveals his number 1 wine at Averys...

In Praise of Regional France by Bryn Stephens...

I have been thinking recently about all the wines I have tried whilst at Averys and at companies before, and of course thinking about my top 6, I cant help but think also about some of the utterly awful samples that have been sent to our tasting room. So I compiled a little black list of wines that I will actively avoid tasting again in the future I shall not list them of course as that would be very unfair to the dedicated winemakers and field hands that toil away to pour their heart and soul into these wines.

People of the world have very different palates and my criticism of certain wines really amounts to nothing in the grand scheme of things. This then got me to thinking about all the different regions that I have tasted and all the different grape varieties I have tried. One thing struck me straight away. Among the black list of wines, there wasn’t a single wine from Regional France. Pretty much every other wine producing region in the world was represented. Napa, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Mosel, Rioja, simply everywhere!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Bryn reveals his number two...

Our soon to be departing wine advisor Bryn carries on his countdown of his top 6 wines from Averys. At number two...

Todays discussion is ‘what annoys you about world wine labels?’ Please feel free to comment at the bottom!
Wine Labels 101
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Italian wine. Back when I was starting out in the wine industry, I rarely delved into the Italian collections for my own cellar as I always found Italian (and German) wine labels so damn difficult to navigate. Add this to the fact that there are over 2000 grape varieties planted in Italy, and its soon clear that you could spend the rest of your life learning about Italian wine and all the subtle differences and nuances contained therein. Looking at this from the point of view of a pretty timid 24 year old new to the industry, and you quickly see my fear! However after a few years of learning all about the rest of the world, I quickly got to a point where I could no longer ignore Italy, after all, they are the largest producer of wine in the world (just… France are not far behind at all). Instead of sitting with book in hand reading about the wine laws that govern regions and such like, I decided that a scattergun tasting approach would be the best (and most fun) way of trying to understand Italian wine. So I set about a long and very painful process (I even had to take my work home with me on occasion) of tasting a huge amount of Italian wine whenever I could and discovered… even more problems!

Friday, 5 August 2011

Where to go and what to make next?

By Emma Roberts, Buying Director

Emma in Minervois
From concept to launch Project Winemaker takes a surprisingly long time. Recognising which growers and vineyards will give us the best fruit and working with the winemaker on harvest dates, vinification process and how we plan to age the wine is the first stage. Following harvest we re assess and then anywhere between 3- 12 months later we finalise the blend and at this stage can confirm when we will bottle and ship the wine to the UK – which in itself can take anywhere between 2-8 weeks.

You’ll by now be familiar with the different projects from France and Australia but I thought I’d whet your appetite with a few that are still on the horizon.  In the vintage of 2010 I started a project in Chile with Casa Silva, who better to work on Carmenere with? I’ve just finished the final blend and this perfumed, rich red will arrive at the end of November – perfect for Christmas drinking.  Again in Chile but from 2011 vintage I’ve selected a couple of Syrah vineyards from my friend Horatio Vicente’s estate in Aconcagua, for me an outstanding valley for Syrah. This particular gem is currently in barrel and the plan is to bottle towards the end of the year and ship in the Spring.

As I write this I’m packing my bags for a week in California and Washington State to see what is looking promising there – I’m hoping to bag some great Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon before it gets picked!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

And at number 3…

Bryn continues his countdown his top six wines from his time at Averys. And at number 3…

How do we as wine lovers, justify what our favourite wines are? Is it a sense of place, that is to say, is our favourite wine one we had whilst sitting in the heart of Namibia with family enjoying a braai (Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir)? Is it that special bottle we open with that special someone (Krug NV)? Is it the bottle which made a tear fall down the cheek because we never thought wine could taste that good (Domaine de Chevalier 2003)? When we sit down and actually think about it, it really isn’t an easy question to answer. For my brother, his favourites are the ones he opened at the right time with the right people. For my father (much more of a pragmatist than my brother and I) it was all about the taste and quality, not the situation. For some of my customers, its all about the value they get when spending £70 on a case rather than £70 on a bottle. So I would like to open this discussion up to the readers of this blog. What criteria do you use to judge your favourite wines? Why are they so special to you? Please leave a comment below! Happy posting!