Our world is getting warmer and our weather more extreme and unpredictable. The adverse effects of Climate Change are wide reaching, and well known. But how many of us have thought about its effect on wine? Many of you may have noticed how alcohol levels in wine have increased. Finding a 12% Vol wine is certainly a lot harder than it used to be; the average now days being 13.5%-14%. What will it be in 20 years, I wonder? And what are the implications? Imagine being a burgundy vineyard owner. You are already noticing the grapes are ripening earlier. Naturally there has always been vintage variation, it`s one of the things which makes wine interesting. Just take 2014 Chablis over 2015 as an example: the former 2014, pale, lean, fresh and minerally; the latter 2015, rounder, richer, more yellow. The extended sunshine days in 2015 changed the wine unrecognisably, in my mind losing its distinctive Chablis character – the flinty-mineral edge which goes so well with oysters. Still perfectly lovely, but not the same. Now add another degree or two to the land mass of the area – Global Warming – will it taste like Chablis at all? As burgundy vineyard owner you can mitigate the warming effects to a degree with pruning and canopy change, and by picking the fruit early; in the winery you might even be able to add acidity to the fermenting juice, to compensate for the acidity which was burnt off in the vineyard. But just how much tinkering can you do? Is it possible even that someday the temperatures will be too high for the successful production of burgundy as we know it, the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes having lost their cool-climate finesse? No doubt by then replaced by new grape varieties better suited to warmer climates? Why, Climate Change could potentially turn the wine world on its head! One possible winner in the medium-term is England. As burgundy vineyard owner you might well be wise to up sticks and grow your Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes there instead!
An evening dedicated to Emiliana, Chile`s leading organic and biodynamic wine producer, turned out to be an evening of fun and entertainment! George was in great form, as was Tony, but it was our lovely customers who provided most of the entertainment. A fantastic group – thanks everyone!
Guest speaker: George Randall – Host: Anthony Borges –
Chef: Tony Bell
Ellisons Solicitors Wine-tasting Dinner
4th May 2018
The Organic Wines of Chile`s Emiliana
Emiliana Brut, Casablanca Valley NV, £16.99, £15.29 – aperitif
Pale yellow with persistent effervescence. Fruity aromas of papaya, pineapple and cherries with underlying yeast and toast. Balanced and fresh on the palate.
76% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Noir.
Emiliana Adobe Reserva Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley 2017, £9.99, £8.99
Unoaked, sun-kissed Chardonnay. Pale mustard-yellow. Aromas of citrus and tropical fruits with some herbal notes. Grapefruit, lime, pineapple. The palate is fresh and juicy with creamy cashew mid-palate. 100% Chardonnay
Novas Gran Reserva Viognier, Casablanca Valley 2016, £12.99, £11.69
Delightful Viognier. Golden yellow. Wonderful fragrance of apricot, honey, blossom and white peach. On the palate fresh, rounded and unctuous. 100% Viognier
Signos de Origen La Vinilla Estate, Casablanca Valley 2016, £16.99, £15.29
Golden yellow. Peach and apricot aromas and savoury notes of freshly cut walnuts. Smooth, fresh and creamy on the palate with depth of flavour. 72% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier, 10% Marsanne, 6% Roussanne.
Novas Gran Reserva Pinot Noir, Casablanca Valley 2016, £12.99, £11.69
Bright translucent cherry red. Fragrant nose of cherries, blackcurrants, rose petals and toast.
Aromas carry through to an elegant, finely tuned supple structure on the palate.
100% Pinot Noir
Coyam Los Robles Estate, Colchagua Valley 2013, £22.99, £20.69
Named after the oak forests which surround Emiliana’s magical and spiritual Colchagua home, Los Robles. Coyam is the ultimate expression of this estate – their flagship wine – a blend of their best grapes: 48% Syrah, 24% Carmenere, 11% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Mourvedre, 3% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot
Signos de Origen Los Morros Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo 2015, £18.99, £17.09
Fabulous Cabernet. Deep ruby-red. Bright, ripe blackcurrant and cherry fruit with underlying liquorice, cedar, anise, truffle, chocolate and pencil lead. Pure Maipo!
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Signos de Origen Los Robles Carmenère, Colchagua Valley 2015, £18.99, £17.09
Rising star. Purplish ruby-red. Aromas of cherries, strawberries, balsamic, vanilla, leather and spices. Elegant, lush, velvety red. 100% Carmenère.
Emiliana Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca 2015 (37.5cl), £9.99, £8.99
Emiliana`s sweet wine. Lustrous golden yellow. Complex aromas of quince, papaya, apple and ginger. Fresh and sweet on the palate with a touch of caramel.
85% Sauvignon Blanc, 15% Gewurztraminer.
Prawns, avocado and tomato ‘ceviche’
Red peanut glazed chicken, mango & lime
Hake, fennel and saffron broth
Duck, pear and walnut salad
Dry-rubbed spiced beef, salsa verde
Quite a few people ask me this. Well there`s a short and long answer, with quite a lot of gobbledegook between. In truth I`m still grappling with it, but here goes: Biodynamic wine is organic wine PLUS, PLUS – a wine produced from organically grown grapes according to a lunar calendar devised by Maria Thun (1922-2012 ) based on an holistic, homeopathic method of farming originally conceived by philosopher Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925). In fact, Steiner`s biodynamic farming predated organic farming by several decades. He was essentially anti-chemical as well, but his big idea was that everything in the universe is interconnected and the influence of the moon on earth was a useable force. Steiner claimed that plants on earth are affected by the pull of the moon and furthermore by the position of the planets and stars. He believed plants grew at differing rates with the passing of the moon into different constellations of the zodiac. Thun studied his work and spent a lifetime monitoring the growth of plants setting the movement of the moon against the ancient astronomical elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water. She created a best practices farming calendar and divided it into Root days, ideal for pruning, Fruit days, best harvesting days, Flower days, suitable rest days, and Leaf days, for irrigation. Root days are when the moon is in any of the Earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo). Fruit days are when the moon is in the Fire signs (Aires, Leo, Sagittarius). Flower days, in the Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius). Leaf days, in the Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). Still following? Anyway – whether you think this is all hocus-pocus or not, Steiner`s and Thun`s biodynamic farming has been widely adopted and is big business today. Wine guru Michel Chapoutier himself is an avid proponent! “It permits the only true expression of a wine`s terroir”, he claims. And we only need think back to ancient history. Hasn’t man looked to the celestial skies for guidance of one kind or another since we first inhabited our earth?
Organic wines – wines produced from organically grown grapes – have a lot less sulphur preservative than non-organic wines, which is why our health-conscious sulphur-sensitive customers love Emiliana. Our vegetarian and vegan customers can`t get enough of Emiliana, either; and our conscientious customers buy into the Emiliana brand because 100% of their wines are produced sustainably. I am therefore delighted to introduce ECS readers to Emiliana Vineyards, Chile`s 2015 winery of the year and one of the largest organic wineries in the world. They own around 1000 hectares of organic certified vineyard the length and breadth of Chile, with wineries in the Colchagua and Maipo valleys. Emiliana is also well known for the biodynamic vineyard management it undertakes at their Los Robles Estate in Colchagua, which produces their flagship wine, Coyam. They prune according to the moon cycles there, so as not to waste valuable sap. In summer its grassy vineyards are famed for attracting rare species of butterflies, birds and a high populace of bees. They use horse and plough, together with grass-grazing lamas and burrito-munching chickens. When I was there in 2014 we had a picnic in the vineyard, the place high with the scent of flowers and manure! But the best of Emiliana is its award-winning wines. If you would like to drop into the shop we`ll have some on taste today and tomorrow. Their fabulous Adobe Rosé, fresh, fruity and balanced, their Chardonnay, with subtle tropical notes and creamy mouthfeel, and their Carmenère red wine with standout plum and redcurrant aromas. Incidentally, in May we will be introducing Emiliana`s new sparkling wine to our range as well. Viva Emiliana, and viva Chile!
Think of Portuguese wines and Vinho Verde might spring to mind, the slightly fizzy acid wines of the north which go so well with the local olive oil and salt cod dishes. Or Alvarinho – if you have been to the Algarve you will no doubt have tried the local sardines and swallowed them down with dry white wine made from the fresh and aromatic Alvarinho grape (in Spain Albarino). Or you might think of Lancers or Mateus Rosé, the slightly carbonated pink wines which happily go down so well in England with our curries. There`s just a chance, if you have wined and dined with the Portuguese in their homes, you will even think of their rustic red wines which accompany the basic, traditional cuisine. There`s also Madeira – fortified wines produced on Portugual`s eponymous Atlantic island, ranging from dry to sweet: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual, Terrantez and Malmsey. However, think of Portugal and surely we all think first of Port. After all, it is as English a Portuguese wine as you can get. Fortified with spirit and sweet, vintage port is the Englishman`s traditional nip after dinner with the stilton, just as claret is his red with roast lamb. The decanting process required to remove the wine`s sediment is all part of the ritual, showing off the wine`s deep ruby colour. Sweet and velvet, the ruby style is also popular in less costly versions which don`t require decanting, such as Late Bottled Vintage. These are pleasantly sweet and fruity without the intensity or finesse of a vintage. However, it`s the white ports and amber-coloured, nutty style of wood-matured tawny ports which the locals in Portugal like to drink – chilled as aperitif wines or famously with creamy cow`s cheese and quince jam. Here we tend to ignore white port (a great shame, it makes a wonderful aperitif) and we might just sip a Tawny by the fireside. Thinking of Portugal now, what springs to your mind?
Rioja is still the big name of Spain, best known for its Tempranillo reds – many of them matured in American oak, adding to red fruits (notably strawberry) their distinctive vanilla- spice character. But have you discovered Ribera del Duero yet? These tend to be more heavy-weight – so while Rioja`s food match is pork and lamb, so Ribera del Duero tends to be the better match for beef and game. Our `Protos` is a fine example, comparable structurally to claret and worth the trouble of decanting. The grape Tempranillo tends to be seasoned with Grenache or Mazuelo, adding body, acidity and warmth; and it`s also the practice to use French oak for the most premium wines nowadays. Tinkering in the vineyards has also led to better quality fruit, and so today it`s fair to make the point we have never had it better. Spain also has a reputation for producing decent, richly flavoured Rioja Blanco made from the Viura grape – a superb match for seafood Paella. The crisper whites from Penedes are more suited to the local fresh fish, and sparkling Cava from the same region can be very good value and an ideal aperitif. The pink rosado wines can work as well with rice dishes (especially with saffron) and the more flavoursome fish. Yet the most exciting white wine of the last few years – and in-trend right now – is Albariño from Rias Baixas. Try the Alma Martin, it`s a beauty. It`s deliciously aromatic and tropical, with weight and freshness in equal measures. Finally, to my heart`s desire, there`s sherry, the fortified wine of Jerez. Christopher Colombus shipped it, William Shakespear wrote about it and England`s nobility worshipped it. It`s one of the treasures of our world: a blessed, aged, complex beverage – a fortified wine – which thrills the taste buds and warms the soul. Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cotado, Pedro Ximenez … these are names to describe the myriad sherry styles, from pale and dry, through amber, to dark and sweet. We stock them all!
Italy is as wine-and-food complex as it is culturally rich. In England its copycat pizza, pasta, polenta and risotto tend to be washed down with Chianti or Valpolicella (in red) and Pinot Grigio or Soave (in white). We use parmesan, or rather, Parmigiano-Reggiano, to sprinkle atop and it adds to the magic. In Italy other regions outside of Parma and the parmesan producing provinces use their own magic dust giving them regional nuances, washed down with regional wines. In the northern region of Piedmont, for example, the local white truffle is sprinkled over risotto – giving the otherwise simple dish a distinctly Piedmontese character; and it is enjoyed with the local, perfumed and fruity reds of Dolcetto or Barbera. In central Italy it is the black truffle which reigns supreme – and here they grate it on pasta and wash it down with the local dark and juicy Montepulciano reds. We would do well to tinker a little to achieve such nuances. Certainly the best wines have evolved from roots in food with regional differences – and since much of the food is rich and vibrant, so naturally are the wine flavours to match. Siciliy`s Nero d`Avola with Puttanesca, for example – note the punchy acidity and spice in the wine, equal to the dish. In Piedmont the difficult Nebbiolo grape comes into its own, giving us savoury Barolo and Barbaresco reds with rich beef stew. In Tuscany it`s Sangiovese yielding the red wines of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino – served with simply grilled steak, cooked in nothing but olive oil and salt. The white wines (and even some Proseccos) are also food-wines, more often than not mineral-rich, matching the local fish. Always the emphasis on local ingredients simply prepared and wines to match – perhaps with fresh herbs and garlic for flavouring. And then there is Italian sweet wine – Veneto`s pale gold Recioto di Soave wines, Tuscany `s deep, orange-coloured Vin Santos … and the happy practice of dunking biscotti. Oh my, … viva Italia!
The most important grape in Germany by far (though not the most prolific) is Riesling, a grape capable of yielding white wines with astonishing longevity, indeed some of the greatest white wines in the world. The dry wines are referred to as `Trocken` and the sweeter ones range from the delicate, floral-scented and ripe-tasting Kabinett (medium-dry), to Spatlese (medium-sweet) and Auslese (sweet) wines of Mosel or Rheingau, for example, to the much sweeter wines known as Eiswein, Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese. Eiswein is produced from over-ripe grapes picked frozen on their vines and wines described as Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese are produced from botrytis mould- affected, shrivelled-up grapes left barely hanging on their vines . The mould, known as `noble rot` (good rot) also imparts a distinctive and desirable marmalade-like flavour to these sweet wines, which sets them apart. They are affectionately called `stickies` in the trade, but due to Germany`s northern climate they have plenty of acidity to balance their high concentration of sugars. These expensive gems tend to be served with sweet desserts, but they also contrast magnificently with savouries such as the cheeses. The German love of sweet-and-savoury (example pork and apple) and sweet-and-sour (sauerkraut), give to vast amounts of their fine Kabinett and Spatlese wines the ideal outlet. The high acid and mineral-tasting sweet Riesling copes wonderfully well with the flavour contrasts. High Society in Germany, some fifty and sixty years ago, would serve their finest Spatlese and Auslese white wines with duck, goose, venison and even wild boar; nowadays they would be as likely to opt for a Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), reserving their Spatlese and Auslese to accompany desserts of fruit tarts and fresh fruit salads. Incidentally, I am a big fan of their Spatburgunder wines, pale, vibrant, fragrant and ever so slightly tart (in a good way) they are our choice for fish stew above almost any other. Try our Domaine Assmannhausen, Spatburgunder Trocken, Hollenburg 2014, at £28.99 per bottle it`s a rare treat, comparable to fine red burgundy.
Fifteen years ago the English wine scene was a very different picture to the one it is today – and in the last five years it has started really turning heads. Before, we produced aromatic, elderflower-scented white wines using mostly Germanic grapes such as Reichensteiner and Muller-Thurgau, and a little Riesling: these were mostly crisp, dry and fruity “picnic” wines, some of them medium-dry, pleasant enough wines, a few aromatic and quenching, more than a few insipid and boring or eye-wateringly sharp; try biting into a raw gooseberry and you`ll get the gist. Historically red grapes have proven too difficult to ripen so far north, though a little has always been produced in the warmest sites, again mostly Germanic grapes, though a little Pinot Noir as well. Generally it was better to use these for rosé, though even more promising was the use of red and white grapes together to produce sparkling wines, because they require the natural high acidity England offers in such abundance; though also true that quite a few of these have, in the past, lacked character, being mostly the fruity-floral- type, or the sharp-sour-gooseberry type. And then there was Climate Change, investment and a new, bold approach. Nowadays our sparkling wines are winning awards, even competing head on with Champagne. These are indeed exciting times. With clever clone selection and our longer sunshine days we are now able to grow the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; barely ripe these grapes are perfect for sparkling wine production. Try our Chapel Down English Rose from Kent, and the Hattingley Valley from Hampshire – both delicious aperitifs, pure and fresh, the Chapel Down a beautiful pale pink colour and the Hattingley Valley a lustrous yellow-gold. And you really must try Nyetimber, a richer style – arguabally Britain`s best. Also now England`s own Bacchus, a dry white Riesling-Sylvaner crossing with Muller-Thurgau grapes, better quality than ever before. Try Suffolk`s Giffords Hall, their Bacchus and rosé wines extremely well made. Let`s all embrace England`s new success story, and buy English wine…
Thank you those of you who joined us last Friday (March 23rd). Guest speaker Jane Macaulay was in fine tune, singing her wineries praises, and Tony Bell, in perfect harmony, created a superb menu to compliment the wines. All the details are included here for your interest. Not a note out of tune … oh please!
Guest speaker: Jane Macaulay – Host: Anthony Borges –
Chef: Tony Bell
Wine-tasting dinner, 23rd March 2018
Frost Pocket, Marlborough, New Zealand 2017 (aperitif), £12.99
Crisp and fresh, packed full of vibrant and long-lasting lime, gooseberry and tropical fruit flavours.
D`Arenberg The Hermit Crab, McLaren Vale, Australia 2016, £15.99
The now famous Hermit Crab is a delicious blend of Viognier & Marsanne. A spiced fruit-salad of stone fruits, candied ginger and pineapple, with lingering notes of candied citrus rind, hay and mango.
Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley, Australia 2007, £21.99
A rush of fresh limes, grapefruit, lemon blossom and cut grass greet you in a seamless expression of this impressive grape variety (Jancis Robinson has said that Semillon is Australia`s gift to the world!)
Kooyong Beurrot Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula, Australia 2016, £26.99
This whole-bunch pressed barrel-fermented Pinot Gris exhibits notes of honeysuckle blossom, fresh hay, nougat, lychee, almond, melon and stone fruits. A juicy, peachy delight.
Costa y Pampa Pinot Noir, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2016, £18.99
Delightful aromas and flavours of red fruits (raspberries, cherries) with pleasing spicy notes. Terrific balance and elegance.
D`Arenberg The Stump Jump (old vine) Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia 2016, £13.99
The nose is chock-full of fresh blackberries, cherries and dark chocolate sprinkled with spices. The palate is fresh and juicy, ripe red fruits mix with plums, blackcurrant, flowers and a twist of black pepper.
Humberto Canale Estate Malbec, Patagonia, Argentina 2016, £14.99
A full-bodied red with complex notes of red berries, eucalyptus, spice & black pepper. A refined style with good concentration.
D`Arenberg The Custodian Grenache, McLaren Vale, Australia 2014 £16.99
First impact is mulberry, blueberry and plum. Deeper inspection reveals notes of aniseed, fennel, coriander seed and cedar. The palate is liquid velvet, warm and juicy.
Roasted fennel &Serrano ham, ramiro pepper dressing
Crab, crayfish and mango spring roll, lime and chilli
Twice cooked cube of ginger & star anise pork, white cabbage ‘kraut’
Welsh Black-Face lamb ‘calderete’, Asturian beans