Thursday, 26 September 2013

New Vs. Old World Tasting 25.09.2013 at the Averys Cellars

Welcome to another blog from the Cellars, this time with an interesting comparison of New World Vs Old World. Exploring how differences in climate, soil, and wine-making effect the styles of wine we enjoy. In a nutshell: Old World = Europe, and New World = Everywhere else! Despite the fact that most of these new world countries have been producing wines from 3-400 years, we consider them ‘new’ due to imports into the UK.

We tasted all of these wines in similar pairs, starting with:

Burgundy vs South Africa

Domaine Berthenet Montagny 1er Cru 2010 £17.99 and Hamilton Russell Chardonnay Walker Bay 2011 £21.00

Two brilliant Chardonnays showcase how very different climates influence the wine. The Montagny from a cool continental climate showed soft fresh apples, with blossom and peach with gentle oak flavours of toast and oatmeal.

Up against the big and bold Hamilton Russell from Walker Bay, an extremely hot climate, cooled by sea breeze along the coast offered much riper fruit flavours with some tropical hints of pineapple but driven by intense new oak with vanilla and toast.

Personal favourite = New World
Group favourite (yes, I made people vote!) = Old World

Germany vs Australia

Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett Mosel 2012 £16.49 and Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Dry Riesling Clare Valley 2012 £15.99

One of my personal favourites and the majority of my collection at home, Riesling! With a very classic off-dry German Riesling from one of the nicest men in wine, Ernst Loosen. This wine offered just a hint of sweetness, with fresh stone fruits of peach and apricot, some nectarine and soft honey after-tones and a very agreeable 8.5% alcohol making it perfect for a lunchtime wine!

The Jim Barry showed the complete opposite with intense citrus fruits of lime and lemon and not a hint of sweetness, just mouth-watering acidity and freshness. Perfect if paired with a nice Thai dish.

Personal favourite = Old World (obviously!)
Group favourite = New World

South-West France vs Argentina

Chateau Ponzac Cahors 'Maintenant' 2011 £9.99 and Chakana Estate Malbec Mendoza Argentina 2012 £10.99

With Argentina making Malbec their signature red grape variety people forget its origins. Originally from Bordeaux and Cahors it displays a very different style from the soft and supple wines bursting full of rich fruit associated with Argentina. The Cahors I thought would be classic and fairly aggressive but due to being unoaked and focusing on nice rich fruits was really smooth and enjoyable with plenty of spice, smoke and jammy plums.

The Chakana had seen 18 months in French oak which added more depth and layers to the wine with added tobacco, chocolate and cedar aromas and very thick inky colour that instantly strains your teeth!

Personal favourite = Old World (surprisingly)
Group favourite = New World

Rhône Valley vs Australia

Chapoutier Cote Rotie Les Becasses 2007 £44.99 and Rockford Basket Press Shiraz Barossa Valley 2006 £39.99

Two very impressive Syrah/Shiraz to finish showing the classic meaty, leathery complexity of the Northern Rhone and the less-than-subtle blockbuster beast from the Barossa Valley.

Cote Rotie is famous for co-fermenting Syrah with the white grape Viognier (up to 10%), yet Chapoutier prefer to make 100% varietals. This wine while already showing very nicely will age for another 5-10 years. A beautifully complex wine with soft black fruits and some red cherry with soft, silky tannins and layers of leather, game, cedar and spice.

The Rockford was the absolute winner for me. Prized as the next ‘Penfolds Grange’ with very old vines aging from 60 to 136 years old and very well concentrated. Oozing with powerful jammy blackcurrants developing into raisins, prunes and figs with spice, cinnamon and cedar. Even with 14.5% alcohol its well integrated and the glass became empty very quickly!

Personal favourite = New World
Group favourite = New World

And the final score....

3 – 1 to New World, join us next year to decide for yourself!

A big thank you to everyone who came along and also to the Arch House Deli for another great selection of cheeses. 


Make sure to book on to our next event, Fine Wine Showcase on Wednesday 30th October at 7pm. Come and see what all the fuss is about and we show some amazing high-end wines from around the world, including vintage Champagne, Condrieu, Chianti, Eiswein and Californian Chardonnay.

It's only £40 per ticket to sample some wines well out of my price range!

If you're interested in coming along, or you'd like any other information, please get in touch:
Averys Cellars
9 Culver Street, Bristol
Tel: 0117 921 4146 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Congratulations are in order...
Matthew Hemming
Our one in 312 - Matthew Hemming MW
Averys is delighted to announce that Matthew Hemming, our Fine Wine Manager, has just been made a Master of Wine. Very many congratulations to Matthew who is now one of only 312 people in the world(!) to hold the prestigious MW qualification.

The Master of Wine is notoriously difficult to pass and includes sitting four theory papers and three tasting papers in four gruelling days of exams. As if that wasn't enough, candidates then need to complete a PhD-style dissertation. It is the most respected title in the world of wine and an incredible achievement - well done Matthew! 
Great work Matthew, I'll certainly be toasting with a glass of Averys Vintage 2004 fizz for such a special occasion! 
Mimi Avery

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Riojas of Lopez de Heredia

Tasting notes from the office
We tasted three wines from this producer in the office last week.  Without any exaggeration, this was the best, most inspirational, selection of wine we’ve seen on our tasting bench in at least a year.  These wines are magnificent.

Lopez de Heredia has an iconic reputation as the bastion of traditional Rioja.  The wines aren’t deep in colour, they are not particularly marked by their barrel aging, they aren’t full bodied and they probably won’t satisfy those seeking sweet, rich and juicy fruit.  Each of the three we tasted bore a signature thread of bright, racy acidity.  They show the complexities of age, yet are wonderfully vital and fresh on the palate.  All the elements are in place for these wines to last a very long time.

A brief history
Founded by Rafael Lopez de Heredia y Landeta in 1877, it has withstood the tide of corporatization and homogeneity, and epitomizes timeless, artisan winemaking in their own individual, almost solipsistic manner. Technology is noticeable by its absence here. – Neal Martin

We will take delivery of these wines next month.  They are priced and offered by the bottle, inclusive of VAT, and will be packed in cases of 6 bottles.  Case purchases are also available in bond at pro-rata rates.

Gravonia Blanco 2003 - £18/btl  - * ONLY TWO CASES LEFT *

White Rioja but, perhaps, not as you know it.  This has oxidative elements but not markedly so and it’s definitely not one of those wines swamped in vanilla-scented US oak.  There are those who rate LdH’s whites ahead of the reds, and this makes a convincing case for that.  Apparently they originally modelled the style on the dry whites of the Graves, intending them for long ageing.  This is even more impressive for being, not only a decade old, but from the hot 2003 vintage.
A straw colour, this is fragrant and evolving mature notes, but has kept masses of freshness too.  The bouquet includes notes of wax, lemon blossom, a hint of honey and a floral, breezy character.  The palate shows brilliant freshness and cut.  Extremely youthful, the flavours follow the aromatic characters and finish with notes of brine and a saline minerality.  17.5/20.

Bosconia 2003 Reserva - £23/btl - * ONLY SIX BOTTLES LEFT *
Of the two reds we tasted, Bosconia came across as slightly sterner and more masculine in character.  The aroma had elements of meat, earth, some dark berries and something reminiscent of hot bricks.  In common with the white, the palate is shot through with a seam of brilliant acidity and the oak aging is hardly perceptible.  There’s a very slightly high toned edge, giving a hint of balsamic and a citrus peel element to the acidity.  The mid-palate is full of crisp, crunchy red berry fruit, with plenty of sap and a snap of acid and tannin on the finish.  Very tightly wound still, this probably merits 3-4 years in the cellar still.  17/20.

I struggle to think of other European wines from this heatwave year that still exhibit such youth and tension today.

Tondonia 2001 Reserva - £28/btl

2001 was a great success in Rioja, so I was really keen to add this wine to our offer.  Neal Martin rated this 95/100 in The Wine Advocate and it’s hard to think of other wines where such quality and maturity can be had for £28.
This was the first wine to show a whiff of oak on the nose, but the toasty character very much played second fiddle to warm, ripe, red Tempranillo fruit.  There’s also a perfumed, floral aspect giving notes of dried petals.  The palate shows their signature acidity and brightness.  Here, though, the wine has evolved mature and complex notes of earth, truffles and tobacco leaf.  The finish is fresh and ever so elegant. 18/20.

Please let me know if you’d like to order any of these.  Our standard delivery charge (£7.99 per UK address) will apply, although orders in excess of £200 value will be delivered free of charge.

If you’re interested in any of these wines please don’t hesitate – get in touch fast! Send me an email : 

Have a great weekend!

Matthew Hemming MW
Fine Wine Manager - Averys Wine Merchants

Friday, 13 September 2013

Champagne – has the Bubble burst?

A history
Getting bubbles in the first place is an interesting story in it’s self. The method of producing a secondary fermentation in bottle was, often questionably, discovered by the English in the mid 1500’s, when Charles Merret (who now has a Ridgeview English Sparkling wine named after him, Merret) added sugar to create the second fermentation. The Methode Champenois for volume production was then perfected by the French (Dom Perignon, a monk, started at the monastery 6 years after Merret’s work, and took 40 years to complete the process). Having said that Blanquette de Limoux holds the title for the first sparkling wine well before this. Champagne production only really got underway in volumes in the 19th century when glass was strengthened, by the English, and could withstand the extra pressure. Along with the muselet (cage) to trap the cork in the bottle being invented by M. Jaquesson, of France.

Production shot from 300,000 bottles to 2 million in the late 1800’s by 1900 it was 47 million, 315 million in 2000, around which it has hovered over the last 10 years. Last year 312 million bottles were sold, sales have slipped back to the volumes of 2005/6 which is not a significant drop in the current climate. Markets have expanded rapidly now including all the emerging markets of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) along with other Asian countries. Although the more traditional markets have plateaued in the latest recession. In the international market marketing is still paramount and Taittinger, for example, has just been announced as the Champagne for the Brazilian football World Cup.

The Current Market
There is competition from the sparkling wine producers of the world, but the perceived quality and apparent exclusivity of Champagne, helped by the legal case that banned the use of the term Champagne, on anything but the real thing – even the Yves Saint Laurent perfume had to be re-named Yvresse, has helped Champagne to hold it’s position and pricing in the current climate.

Current sales are fairly static, which in this present climate is seen as a positive. Much of it is drunk at events such as Ascot and Polo, but also English Weddings will invariable have the toast with champagne if not the pre-breakfast aperitif. The bubbles, as within the Champagnes themselves, are persistent and buoyant, weathering the financial storms well.
 In retail the spikes of interest are when the Champagne Houses release their vintage wines, such as Dom Perignon 2003 (RRP £115), Bollinger la Grande Annee 2004 (RRP £80), Pol Roger 2002 (RRP £60) and of course for Averys this year, our Averys Diamond Jubilee 2004...

2013 is a year that celebrates both 220 years of Averys and 50 years of working with Boizel. A wonderful, family run business. Our initial contact was a visit from Christophe Roques-Boizel, to my Grandfather in Bristol, in 1963. This started a great friendship and long lasting work relationship, culminating in an invitation to their 175th anniversary dinner in Bordeaux 2 years ago, and the release this year of a celebratory 2004 vintage bottle of Averys Vintage Champagne.

We launched this new release in June, in time for the summer extravaganza, although a Vintage Cuvee at sub £40 is really quite unusual, and will hold a celebration dinner in October  - keep your eyes peeled for details, as the dinner will be a limited number affair, attended by members of the Boizel and Avery families.

Being the Champagne Buyer was one of the highlights of my Buying remit. Along with working with the great names of Bollinger and Louis Roederer smaller houses such as Gosset have had great success in the shop. We also deal with family owned houses such as Billecart and Bauchet. Bauchet was, in fact, the first wine that I ever introduced to Averys, before I was even a buyer.

Whilst employed as the shop manager, I was a member of the Bristol Junior Chamber of commerce. I met various representatives from our (Bristol’s) twinning heritage, Bordeaux, Hannover, Oporto and in this instance Champagne, as Frederic Gaulthier of Bauchet came to Bristol (because it was the closest large town to Clevedon, twinned with Epernay.) After a lively chat samples were requested and we have never looked back. More recently we have started work with Bernard Remy, and we currently have a fragrant, multiple award-winning, Blanc de Blanc (100% Chardonnay) (RRP £29.99) of theirs.

This cuvee was designed by my grandfather to have a higher proportion of the lesser known Pinot Munier (33% of each of the three varietals), that is because it matures quicker and therefore the wine develops a mature flavour similar to a vintage but in only 36 months of lees aging and a further 6 months to a year in either our or our customers cellars.
Tasting note: This wine have a lovely biscuit aroma, soft creamy texture, brut, which means dry, but a richness on the palate which softens the acidity.
RRP £26.99 - click here.

The latest addition to our portfolio a chardonnay led blend with Pinot Noir. 2004 was an excellent vintage with the wines showing both structure and finesse.
Tasting note: This is a slightly more delicate style than our Brut, the apply fruit flavours and elegent acidity gives a wine with more wow appeal, good with food, but a perfect aperitif to make any occasion special.
RRP £34.99 - click here.

Rosé Champagne from Billecart. Founded in 1818, the 7th Generation of the family now run this House. The Grand Cuvées are fermented in burgundy barrels that have seen many wines. 95% of the grapes are sourced from within 20km of Epernay. The style epitomises finesse, balance and elegance. 
Tasting note: This again is a blend of all three, and the nose and palate both reflect the percentage of the Pinots giving raspberry notes, delicious as an aperitif but will also go well with smoked salmon and sushi.
RRP £60.00 - click here.

Made by Roederer, the house behind the famous prestige cuvee, ‘Cristal’, this is undoubtedly one of the best non-vintage Champagnes on the market. 
Tasting note: Just like its famous big brother, it is a rich and decadent style but with wonderful elegance and finesse. Aged for more than three years, it has structure, richness and complexity – all the hallmarks of this illustrious house. A great Champagne classic. 
RRP £37.99 - click here.

If you're ever in Bristol please come and visit! 

Averys Cellars
9 Culver Street, Bristol
Tel: 0117 921 4146 

We deliver nationwide – either call one of our personal wine advisors, who will be able process your order as well as matching any of our products to your requirements. Tel: 01275 812 230 or visit the website