If your June is like ours thus far, you may be dashing betweens wine events, parties, travels and, er, mechanical bull riding. Still, we’ve saved a bit of time for this week’s wine news!
André Lurton, the only Bordeaux winemaker to test out the use of screwcap closures on classified whites, has decided to stop the trial after resistance from French buyers.
Fans of Alsatian wines, there’s an interview with Alsace’s Anne Trimbach on Bottlenotes.
VinePair celebrates the particular beauties of the Viennese urban vineyard and the Austrian heuriger, where winemakers sell their young wines in an atmosphere like no other.
Before you leave the VinePair site, you might also want to take a look at the infographic pairing wine with America’s most famous types of barbecue. I’m trying to imagine some of these flavours together and can’t quite manage it. I must need to eat lots more barbecue and make a thorough study of the issue!
On the subject of wine matching, Fiona Beckett has posted a guide to pairing food with Vermentino — a particularly useful guide in warmer weather.
A trade war may see Canada place huge taxes on imported wine from the U.S. in a dispute over meat products.
Matt Walls offers up a recipe and wine suggestions for oeufs en cocotte. He includes variations with spinach and smoked salmon, and any of them would make a fantastic brunch, lunch or light summer dinner.
World Gin Day is coming up on Saturday. Will you be celebrating?
Whether you are looking for upcoming events, feel a bit scientific, or want to dig in to some of wine’s controversial topics, this week we have you covered!
If you aren’t near London, English Wine Week is coming up from Saturday 23 May to Sunday 31 May. Events will take place all over the country and you can get information about what’s going on in your area on the English Wine Producers website.
In previous years, International Sherry Week followed hot on the heels of London Wine Week and English Wine Week, but the celebration has been renamed Sherry Wine Week this year and shifted to 2-8 November 2015. You can go to the Sherry Wine Week website and subscribe to the newsletter if you want to keep up with the latest news.
English Sparkling Wine Day will apparently be celebrated on St. George’s Day on 23 May 2015. We believe this may be the first year English sparkling has been celebrated, so if you are so inclined, get out there and try some of the best bubbly the South of England has to offer. A peculiar twist of fate means we’ll actually be at an Australian wine tasting on the day, but we tasted 2010 Ridgeview Fitzrovia Rosé, 2011 Ridgeview Bloomsbury, and 2009 Nyetimber Brut Classic Cuvée last year during English Wine Week and posted our notes. The 2010 Ridgeview Fitzrovia Rosé is a particular favourite of ours, so if you’re looking for an English sparkling wine to try, you might start there.
Will Lyons has written an article for the Wall Street Journal on Bordeaux’s Château Lafleur, Pomerol’s tiny, family-owned wine powerhouse.
Researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered the success of Pinot Noir may be down to its ability to incorporate virus DNA into its own genes and evolve.
If you’re looking for a wine adventure in London, the Wine Sleuth recently attended one of the twice monthly tastings held in the 380-year-old wine cellar of the Stafford Hotel in St. James in Central London.
The Academic Wino weighs up the pros and cons of the Ganimede fermentation method and the traditional fermentation method used for red wine.
On Wine Shout you can read about Italy’s Alto Adige DOC and the 2013 Lagrein from Elena Walch Family Estates.
On Wine-Searcher Jason Wilson argues that the intense Summer of Riesling campaign that has dominated Riesling press in the United States for years has actually done more harm than good in promoting Riesling, primarily because sommeliers are still pushing sweet Rieslings.
A cache of the oldest known bottles of Ruinart Champagne have been unearthed in a cellar in Alsace.
There’s a peculiar new infographic from Jacob’s Creek making the rounds to help you match food and wine. Some of these wines aren’t the first we would have suggested, but then some of the foods aren’t either — Sea salt and balsamic vinegar crisps? “Gourmet” Scotch eggs?
One last note, in case you missed it last week: Daniel attended a staff tasting of some of the wines of Famille Hugel in Alsace. Not surprisingly, given that he loves Hugel wines and Alsatian wines in general, he was impressed. You can read the details here.
Wednesday I was fortunate enough to attend a staff wine tasting of Hugel wines at the Wine Society. I actually went in on my day off just for the that, which should be an indication of how interested I am in the wines of Alsace and in Famille Hugel wines in particular.
The Hugel family has been producing wine in Riquewihr in Alsace since 1639, which is remarkable continuity when you consider how many times Alsace changed countries and official languages during the same period (six times since 1639, by my count). The Hugel family features prominently in Wine and War by Don and Petie Kladstrup, which, if you haven’t read it, is an collection of accounts of how the French tried to preserve cellars, vines, vineyards and the vintners themselves from the Nazis during World War II. We’ve just finished reading the book ourselves and will post a full review soon, but while many of the stories blur together in the Kladstrups’ descriptions, what happened to the Hugel family really stands out. Two Hugel brothers were conscripted into the German army and one, once he had managed to survive the Russian front and return to liberated Riquewihr, felt he had to go back to Germany and fight again as a soldier in the French army. The two brothers were actually on opposite sides of the fighting at the same time during a battle near Lake Constance. It’s frankly the sort of thing you’d find unbelievable if you saw it in a film. If you’re interested in reading more about the Hugel family during World War II, you can read excerpts on the Hugel website or in Wine and War.
Three generations of the Hugel family were in England this week for wine tastings and to announce the rebranding of the company from Hugel & Fils to the more inclusive Famille Hugel, as well as the launch of the family’s first single-vineyard wine called Schoelhammer. Schoelhammer is made from grapes from just 30 rows of south-facing Riesling vines, and the first release is from the 2007 vintage.
The energetic Etienne Hugel, Directeur General at Famille Hugel, and his son, Jean-Frederic, took charge of the staff tasting at the Wine Society and lead us through the fascinating stories of the family, its vineyards, and the great wines they produce. It’s always a pleasure to talk with producers who are so expressive and in love with their wines and grapes. The father and son team had us nodding and laughing, all the while learning from them in a most pleasant way.
We tasted a variety of Hugel wines, each of them impressive in its own way. The tasting notes below are mine, but the links will take you to the product page on the Hugel website.
Gentil Hugel 2012 (The Society’s Vin de Alsace 2012)
This wine combines noble grapes of Alsace: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat and Sylvaner. The result is a refreshing wine with a crisp, lively aroma and bright, but not biting acidity. It has good length and generous juicy fruit. Blending the qualities of these disparate grapes also makes this wine a good all-rounder with food.
Pinot Gris Tradition, Hugel 2012
This wine is quite dry and the sort of wine I enjoy most when I have it with food. It seemed to me to have a slightly shorter length than the Gentil. The acidity and the aromatic qualities of this wine would pair particularly well with fattier poultry such as duck and pheasant, or with game.
Gewurztraminer Tradition 2012 (The Society’s Exhibition Gewurztraminer 2010)
Etienne Hugel called this the family’s most curry-friendly wine. In fact, anything with any sort of spice will go extremely well with this. This wine has all the characteristics you associate with a fine Gewurztraminer: the aromatic qualities, the hint of spice, the freshness and delicacy. It’s as good an example of a classic Gewurztraminer as you are likely to find.
Riesling Jubilee 2009
This is one of the most expressive Rieslings I’ve had in a while. There is so much on the nose, with a fine flintiness and acidity. It’s well balanced with ample fruit and floral aspects that promise much for years to come.
Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive, Hugel 2007
Etienne Hugel says this sweet wine is perfect with blue cheese. There’s acidity to lift the wine, so it avoids being cloyingly sweet, and while full of perfume and fruit flavours, it shows restraint. The 2007 we tasted was excellent, but we also tasted a 1998 that was divine. It was almost a pity I had to leave and get on with the rest of my day off.
The Hugel family is set to appear in a feature article in Decanter magazine next month, if you’d like to learn more, or the Famille Hugel website is full of additional information and truly beautiful photos. You can also follow Famille Hugel on social media.
We came across some interesting stories in the press this week, so let’s crack on with the wine news!
Will sampling strips make it possible to know exactly what a wine tastes like before buying and opening the bottle? Beringer is giving it a try in a US supermarket chain.
UK wine merchant Majestic has bought Naked Wines for £70 million.
There’s a good article on the Academic Wino, especially if you’re interested in issues related to climate change and its effects on wine production: “Biochar as an Alternative to Irrigation in Extreme Drought Conditions.”
Vinepair featured a guide to the often-overlooked wines of Corsica.
Decanter posted a good wine travel feature on Puglia.
And, finally, we came across a good collection of features on Chablis on the Saveur magazine website. There are articles on the food and people, a travel guide, and a set of recipes.
All aboard for this week’s wine news!
English wine producer Chapel Down is producing what it believes is the first skin-contact white wine produced in England, using Bacchus grapes from the 2014 harvest.
One of Tuscany’s top producers, the Biondi Santi family, has announced it will not be releasing any Brunello di Montalcino from the 2014 vintage after a poor harvest.
Moët is launching a pop-up Champagne school on London’s South Bank to highlight the differences between Champagne and other sparkling wine. The Moët Academy will cost £40 for a 90-minute session from 13-24 April.
If you’re interested in Spanish wines, you might find this feature on Bobal, another of those grape varieties being rediscovered by Spanish wine producers and wine drinkers worldwide.
The French national appellation authority is considering creating Cru and Premier Cru tiers in Alsace, although the proposal is controversial.
Finally, you might enjoy this Q&A with Craggy Range’s Matt Stafford. Get the low-down on what makes Gimblett Gravels so special from the chief of Wine Enthusiast‘s 2014 New World Winery of the year winner.
It’s Shrove Tuesday/Fat Tuesday and everything’s coming up pancakes in our neck of the woods. We won’t be flipping ours until this evening, although we were a bit tempted by the idea of a big stack of American pancakes and crispy bacon this morning . . . well, one of us is still tempted, but we’ll go traditional English this evening and save the decadent breakfast for another day.
It’s a busy time for holiday eating, actually, what with Valentine’s Day, today’s pancake extravaganza, and Chinese New Year on Thursday (happy year of the sheep!). We recently tasted some 2012 Moenchreben de Rorschwihr Auxerrois from Rolly Gassmann in Alsace and both of us immediately thought how good it would be with a spicy Chinese stir fry or a curry. Auxerrois may be a new grape for you as it isn’t as well known as Alsatian Riesling and Gewurztraminer generally are. It less of the spice you associate with Alsatian Gewurztraminer and less acidity than you usually get in Alsatian Rieslings, but it still had a taste reminiscent of those wines. It has a slight sweetness that offsets spicy food and a great, food-friendly balance of flavours. We ran across a list of wine recommendations for Chinese New Year from Hong Kong wine merchants too, if you’d like a few more suggestions.
And now for the rest of the wine news!
We’re sad to report that Colette Faller of Domaine Weinbach in Alsace has died at age 85. She took over the estate after the death of her husband in 1979, and was later joined in the family business by her two daughters, Catherine and Laurence. Laurence died unexpectedly in May of last year, so we’re especially sad to hear the Faller family has suffered another loss so soon.
Hubert de Boüard, owner of Château Angelus in St Emilion, is calling the 2014 vintage a fruit-forward vintage for consumers rather than collectors.
Over on the Academic Wino’s site, you can find out what effect fungicides have on Monastrell during the wine-making process.
The discovery of charred grape seeds may help scientists learn more about the “wine of the Negev” that was one of the very finest wines in the Byzantine period.
Decanter offers up a travel guide for France’s Jura region, home of Comté cheese and increasingly popular wines.
Mall Walls gives you both a recipe for Poulet Vallée d’Auge, a creamy chicken and apple dish from Normandy, and suggestions for wines to accompany it.
Sagrantino is one of the most tannic wines there is, but that’s not all there is to know about this increasingly popular Italian grape variety. Get the scoop from Alfonso Cevola on Wine-Searcher.com.
Biodynamic winemaker Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant has split from the Loire’s promotional body over unpaid mandatory membership fees and plans to set up his own appellation.
And, finally, Wine Enthusiast posted their list of nine dog-friendly U.S. wineries. Be sure to take a look at the comments section for additional suggestions.
It’s the Tuesday before Halloween, and although we could probably fill the wine news with an array of articles and infographics on matching Halloween candy with wine, we’re bucking the trend. Here’s the rest of the week’s wine news, from fungi to fun with wine and television. Enjoy!
An airborne fungus called Esca has infected 13% of France’s vines this year, and is at this point incurable, given that the only known treatment is carcinogenic.
In Bordeaux, Les Hauts de Pontet-Canet, the second wine of Château Pontet-Canet, has been denied use of the AOC Pauillac label for its 2012 vintage by the official tasting panel.
Interesting reading in the New York Times about how “Scandal” and “The Good Wife” shows a lot about both the characters and what Americans think about wine. If you are one of those people paying close attention to the wine-drinking in “Scandal,” you might also enjoy Grapefriend’s regular blog posts on the subject.
This map of visitor-friendly English wineries is pretty brilliant.
The Telegraph picks three top Sylvaners, including one from Léon Beyer, one of our favourite producers.
And finally, there’s a good article on the Grape Collective about a Napa Valley tech entrepreneur revolutionizing customer service and use of social media among wine producers. Check out this piece on Paul Mabray and VinTank.
Halloween costumes and jarred mincemeat cheek by jowl in the shops — it must be October in England! I suppose it’s just as well there isn’t much the shops sell particularly for Bonfire Night. Except maybe those extra large marshmallows Mrs. Winetuned likes, of course. Mmmm . . . marshmallows. Before I am lost in a slightly charred, sugary reverie, let’s get to the week’s wine news!
I saw some amazing headlines yesterday. A grape has been found that may be the solution to climate change. Or, if you read the article, a grape has been found that may address some of the problems climate change is causing for grapes. Polar bears will have to look elsewhere for a solution to their shrinking habitat. In any case, meet Pedebernade no. 5.
The Alsatian wine-producer Etienne Hugel has complained publicly that French supermarket E. Leclerc is selling his wine, despite all distributors of Hugel’s wines being specifically told not to sell the wines through supermarkets. Hugel’s objection is both to supermarkets using one or two high-profile wines to lure customers in to browse their generally lower quality wines and to a distributor going against Hugel’s express wishes and selling the wine on to Leclerc anyway.
A plan is afoot to make wine in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Surprised? The ex-missionary and non-drinker says the Fruit of the Vine vineyard (known locally as Château Hebrides) should have bottles ready for drinking early next year.
Fans of German wine, head over to Wine-Searcher for an interview with Germany’s own Dr. Loosen.
Don’t be put off by the Ming-the-Merciless-style cartoon bug used with this piece. Apparently, the threat from an Asian fruit fly is already quite real in Bordeaux.
This story about the German city of Essen paying homeless alcoholics in beer for tidying up run-down areas . . . well. The program is based on similar initiatives in the Netherlands, so perhaps there’s something to it.
It’s time again for an article on whether or not English wines can compete on the international stage, this time from the Wall Street Journal. At some point, surely people will realise the answer is yes and get on with the business of buying and drinking it.
Sobering statistics on Dr. Vino’s blog this week: “We know that a third of Americans abstain from alcohol. Another third don’t drink too much. But the Wonkblog has a striking graphic showing that the top decile really pound the stuff, drinking an astonishing ten drinks per day. That’s about two bottles of wine a day.” Actually, I’m not sure Americans will be that surprised by this. Mrs. Winetuned wasn’t, but there are some interesting conclusions to draw from this in terms of the U.S. wine industry. Read the whole post on Dr. Vino.
And finally, Vinepair featured an infographic showing which grapes are used to make which wines in France. If you don’t know your left bank from your right and are baffled by blends, this will have you sorted.
It’s time again for the bits of wine news that caught our attention this week.
Did you see the amazing photos on Jennifer Mahon’s website of Colmar, the “capitale des vins d’Alsace,“on the Alsace Wine Route? A word of warning: if you click, Colmar may rocket to the top of your holiday destination list.
English winemaker Chapel Down has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £4 million for expansion. We’ve seen crowdfunding used to fund wine books, but this is the first winemaker we’ve see to try it.
This list of 8 apps for wine lovers on Tom’s Guide featured a few we hadn’t seen. The list includes apps for Android and some free ones (two of our favourite things).
Bottlenotes profiled Dan Quinn’s video “Why Does Wine Cry?” The high-speed footage illustrates surface tension by swirling a glass of red wine and watching the tears or legs that form, and it’s cool to watch even if you’re already familiar with the principles involved.
In Decanter, Benjamin Lewin talks to French winemakers joining the Vin de France category as a protest against strict appellation rules.
In Punch, Zachary Sussman reports as “Santorini Rediscovers Its Forgotten Wines.” Read up on “Nykteri,” the traditional style that’s coming back into vogue.
We like those quick overview features Wine-Searcher has been doing on specific wine regions and winemakers. This week we read “The Busy Wine Lover’s Guide to Domaine Jean-Louis Chave,” “10 Things Every Wine Lover Should Know About Marqués de Murrieta,” and “What’s the Big Deal about Etna?”
It’s time once again for a round-up of the wine articles that especially interested us this week.
Harpers Wine & Spirit released a report revealing that the UK wine trade is potentially losing out on thousands of pounds of trade a day because of its inability to sell wine effectively. The article — and we’ll confess here that we haven’t read the full report — also gives a snapshot of the data, including that spending on beer is two and a half times greater than on wine, that the volume of on-trade wine sold in the UK has dropped by more than 10% over the last five years, and two-thirds of those interviewed could not name more than three varieties of grape.
Wine Spectator featured a profile of Sicilian classical pianist-turned-winemaker Giuseppe Russo, who has become one of the leading lights in Sicilian wine from his vineyards on Mount Etna. The Yorkshire Post spent time on Mount Etna too, only in this case Christine Austin visits the Planeta family of the Feudo di Mezzo winery. Anyone else suddenly fancying a bottle of Sicilian red?
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) says Tom Jones has been voted the British pop star the country would most like to have a pint with. Jones won with 13% of the vote, and we couldn’t help wonder whether the voters were asked after their first pint or fifth. Other artists winning votes included Lily Allen, Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Gary Barlow, and Robbie Williams.
Wine cellared at home ages about four times fast as wine stored under ideal conditions. Sounds like many of us should just go ahead and drink up those bottles stored under the stairs.
Sarah Ahmed, the Wine Detective, reported on a Wolf Blass Black Label vertical tasting of wines from 1979-2010. Australian wine fans won’t want to miss this one.
Research now suggests the unappetizing possibility that fruit flies may be responsible for the aroma of wines.
The Guardian‘s travel section gave its top 10 list of people and places along Italy’s Piedmont wine route, from Barolo and Barbaresco to B&B’s. There was also a piece called “How Green Was My Vineyard” about winemaking in Wales. Questionable title, but really an interesting article that treats its subject as more than a curiosity. Don’t let the title put you off learning about this emerging wine region.
Tom Hyland interviewed Anne Trimbach of Alsace’s Domaine Trimbach for Wine-Searcher. Fans of Alsatian wines, take note!
Eric Asimov wrote an article for the New York Times on Cava, which is so frequently underrated. He looks at the history, the native Xarello grape often used these days in Cava, as well as the production method. And while we’re on the subject of great Spanish grapes, the Telegraph’s Victoria Moore explored the Albariño of Rías Baixas, complete with tasting notes for three she recommends.
Alder Yarrow offered up a wonderfully informative article on the white wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Vinography. If you don’t know much about Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, this is a great introduction; if you already enjoy it, the long list of wines along with tasting notes might offer you a new one to try.