Wednesday, 11 November 2015

2014 – A Rhône Insiders’ Vintage

2014 was certainly an unusual vintage. The growing season started extremely well with a lovely warm Spring and such little rain that growers started to worry about vine stress. That all changed in June and July. A cool, wet summer slowed ripening right down and brought increased risk of disease. Just when all looked doom and gloom, the weather took another about-turn. They say that September ‘makes’ a vintage and the weather conditions in September could not have been better. High temperatures and dry weather enabled the grapes to reach full maturity and dried out the vineyards. So while the erratic weather conditions necessitated lots of effort and plenty of man hours in the vines, where this effort was put in, there was the potential for excellent wine to be made.

“2014 is distinctive for a freshness, minerality and texture which simply aren’t there in sunnier vintages.” Michel Chapoutier

Overall, the 2014s can be described as wines ripened by light rather than heat. These are not big or particularly powerful wines but instead display clarity, freshness and precision with lovely aromatics and purity of fruit. Many have a bright crocquant acidity leaving them brisk and lifted, with good typicity and terroir characteristics that will be much appreciated by Rhône lovers.

During this year’s London tastings of his 2014 vintage Michel Chapoutier commented, ‘I really believe that St Joseph has amazing potential because it has some of the best soils’. This echoed my experience in the northern Rhone this summer and the 2014 Saint Josephs were a particular highlight for me, showing beautiful aromatics and impressive finesse I’d also urge you to take a look at the wines of Ferraton Père & fils where we had an especially good tasting this year and as a result, we’ve significantly expanded our offer from them.

Finally, it’s difficult to make comparisons with other years because 2014 was such an atypical vintage.But they remind me of 2006 and, like the ‘06s, whilst they will never be blockbusters, those who buy and cellar them will likely enjoy them very much indeed. This is a Rhone-insiders’ vintage rather than one that will score massive points from all the critics. But it’s none the worse for that!

If you would like to view our Full 2014 offering please follow this link;

by Matthew Hemming MW

Monday, 9 November 2015

Celebration of Wine - Bristol Grammar School - 7th November 2015

On Saturday we held our annual 'Celebration of Wine' tasting in the fantastic ‘Grand Hall’ at the Bristol Grammar School (if you haven’t been, picture the Dining Hall from the fictional Hogwarts in Harry Potter and you won’t be a million miles away!).
We welcomed over 600 guests, over 2 sessions, to taste more than 100 wines. We also welcomed 14 suppliers, from as far afield as Marlborough in New Zealand!

The first session ran from 12-3pm and the second from 4.30-7.30pm.
It was one of the most diverse line-ups we’ve ever produced, ranging from rich, intensely sparkling, English fizz from the Hattingley Estate in Hampshire, to a solera-aged, rich, sweet Maury from the Cotes-du-Rousillon in the south of France.

My top picks from the tasting were;

Charles Heidsieck Range Tasting

On Wednesday we welcomed Tori Eeles, the UK Brand Manager for the Charles Heidsieck Champagne House to our cellars for an incredible tasting of the current range of their Champagnes.

She brought with her;
  • Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve
  • Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve
  • Charles Heidsieck 2005 Brut Réserve
  • Charles Heidsieck 2006 Rosé Réserve
  • Charles Heidsieck 1995 Blanc des Millénaires

It was the first time we'd welcomed Charles Heidsieck to our cellars for a good few years, and the team were astounded at the quality of wines on show.
The Charles Heidsieck Champagne House was founded in 1851 by Charles Heidsieck himself. He became more well-known by his nickname of 'Champagne Charlie', earning this nickname as a result of being the first Champagne merchant to travel to the USA and sell them Champagne.