It’s English Wine Week! We’re not sure how we’ll mark the occasion yet, but if you want to find out what’s going on in your area, the English Wine Producers website has all the details.
You could also catch up on Decanter‘s round-up of their latest English wine news and recommendations, or this article about how Britain shaped some of the world’s most famous wines.
In other news, the Champagne Council has launched a new free e-learning programme. We only had a quick look, but it looks as though you answer four questions to determine what level of programme suits you best, and then proceed. It seems to be intended for phones (unless you just like scrolling down and scrolling down on a computer through pages with GIANT fonts and very little on them … Janet does not.) Give it a try over at the Champagne Campus.
With the return of summer, it’s time to bring out the rosé. You might find these infographics on VinePair fun, from 10 Shades of Rosé to maps charting who in the world drinks the most rosé and how its popularity has grown in the United States.
May already? As always, May came in with a flurry of celebrations, from May Day and the Kentucky Derby to Britain’s three-day bank holiday and today’s Cinco de Mayo. Hope you’re enjoying the busy spring — we certainly are!
And here are the wine stories that caught our attention this week!
There’s a new crowdfunding site called Cruzu which is specifically for wine-related projects. If you’re feeling flush and in a giving mood, check out what’s on offer.
Here’s a news item for the history buffs: What was the best wine to drink in the Middle Ages? You can begin your investigations here.
And yet again thieves strike the wine industry. Someone stole £100,000 from the Basingstoke warehouse of Berry Brothers & Rudd by cutting through a wall.
Here’s some good news in advance of English Wine Week, which will take place later this month: Waitrose reports its sales of English wine have increased 95%.
And finally, in this week’s wine science, the identification of unique proteins may make it possible to identify grapes infected by Botrytis cinerea (noble rot). Who cares, you ask? Well, makers of Amarone care, because it may make the job of separating desirable withered grapes and undesirable botrytis-withered grapes much easier.
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.
What’s going on in the world of wine? Here are the stories that caught our attention.
In English wine news, wine estates in Sussex are bidding to create a Sussex appellation. English wine producer Chapel Down is opposed, however. Read up on the debate.
Also in Sussex news, another £10k wine has been stolen in a nighttime raid.
Fires are threatening vineyards in South Africa, both directly from burning and from smoke taint.
An ancient Greek wine jug has been found at the burial site of a Celtic prince in the Champagne region. Take a look at how well preserved it is!
Over on Decanter, Jane Anson profiles Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac, two Right Bank appellations you should take a second look at.
And finally, a tasting panel opened a 150-year-old bottle of wine salvaged from an American Civil War shipwreck. Want to know what happened next? Read on.
So far we have avoided stating the obvious to our American readers, but we might as well give in: Cold enough out there for you? Here’s hoping the weather improves where you are very soon, and if it can’t, we hope the cupboards are stocked and you are sitting somewhere warm with a hot drink.
Here’s this week’s news!
Martin Bouygues, owner of Château Montrose, was reported dead over the weekend, but you will be glad to hear he’s actually feeling quite well.
Over on Wine Folly you’ll find an article on the 7 primary styles of Spanish wine. It’s definitely worth a look if you want to get to grips with Spanish wines.
Here’s a headline worthy of a double-take: “Brigitte Bardot Saves Alcoholic Bears.” We’ll just let you read that one for yourselves.
In today’s wine crimes, a man went into the Kellermeister Winery in Australia’s Barossa Valley and opened the taps on four tanks, resulting in the loss of 25,000 litres of wine. Meanwhile, it seems English wine has arrived: Burglars stole 5,000 bottles of wine worth £80,000 from a warehouse at Bolney Wine Estate in southern England. Not the mark of success a wine producer wants, of course.
Tim Atkin picks 10 top wines from 2010 Brunello di Montalcino, along with a good, informative discussion of recent vintages and some of the things that set Brunello apart.
A crowdfunding campaign in support of Champagne Jayne is gathering force on GoFundMe, despite Jayne herself being gagged by Melbourne Federal Court and unable to rally support herself. As you may remember, wine writer and educator Rachel Jayne Powell, known professionally as Champagne Jayne, incurred the wrath of the Champagne bureau CIVC apparently for discussing sparkling wines other than Champagne via her Twitter and Facebook accounts while using the trademarked name “Champagne” in her professional name.
And finally, if the weather where you are is getting you down, why not do a bit of armchair travel? Wine-Searcher offers up a wine-lover’s guide to Paris, while Decanter provides a travel guide for Valpolicella.
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.
For anyone who doesn’t happen to know this, the traditional Thanksgiving meal in the United States is very similar to the traditional Christmas meal in Britain. The turkey, stuffing/dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce — it’s all there in November in the States and December here. The big exceptions are that in the US there would probably be sweet potatoes, while in the UK there would be brussels sprouts. The desserts are different too, of course — and just as an aside, Janet was delighted to find ground cloves this year, which has never happened before. Whole cloves are well and good for curries and mulled wine, but she never was able to grind them quite finely enough for her pumpkin pie, much to her annoyance. This year she found them tucked away amid some Caribbean curry powders. Maybe she should have been looking for ground cloves as “laving powder.”
We face the “what to serve with turkey” question quite regularly this time of year, so we’ll share our go-to answer. We favour the increasingly popular approach among holiday hosts and hostesses of choosing a sparkling wine, a red wine and a white wine to offer at Thanksgiving dinner. There are always guests who insist they *only* drink red or white, and sparkling wines, with their bubbles and acidity, suit most holiday fare, from party foods and first courses through the main course. The wines need to be good all-rounders that will pair well no matter which foods end up on a guest’s plate.
For white wines, skip the oaky Chardonnay and try instead food-friendly Rieslings and Gewurztraminers. The balance of slight sweetness and acidity in a good, dry Riesling cuts through what can be a very heavy, fatty meal and refreshes the palate, as do aromatic Gewurztraminers.
For red wines, try for a lighter Italian red or a Beaujolais, both of which pair beautifully with festive meals. Pinot Noirs can also be quite good for holiday meals, especially if ham is being served alongside the turkey, as often happens. A Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the Rhône is also a popular choice, or you might try its neighbor, Lirac, or a Côtes du Rhône Village wine for a similar taste of the southern Rhône for a more agreeable price.
And what did we have this year for Thanksgiving? Well, as it’s an ordinary Thursday night in Britain and not a national holiday, we tend to keep things simple, with just enough festive touches to make Janet feel like she’s celebrated, but not such a meal that we are left drowning in leftovers a month before we’ll be drowning in the same leftovers again. We had a roast chicken with a few of the traditional Southern sides Janet loves best.
And much to our delight, a friend gave us a bottle of already-chilled Prosecco to add to the occasion. It was such a lovely gesture and the wine itself was very good. But even if it hadn’t been, we’d have drunk it and felt pleased about it, because that is ultimately what Thanksgiving is for. There’s no potentially contentious religious angle, and no gift-giving. It’s just enjoying food and celebrating, and being thankful that you can enjoy yourself and celebrate, wherever you are and whoever you are with. And even over a chicken in Hertfordshire.
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.
Has it been a week already? It must be time to run down the most interesting wine stories we read over the past seven days. Did we miss one of your favourites? Let us know!
Remember how we reported last week that English winemaker Chapel Down was opening a crowdfunding campaign to fund vineyard expansion? Well, they passed their origin target of £1.6 million by raising £2.9 million in just 10 days. Other wine producers may want to take note.
The iron vineyard sculpture outside the Napa Wine Train depot has been yarn-bombed by the mother of the woman who originally sculpted it. Dina Powers and Just Sayin’ Knitters have added knitted bunches of grapes and leaves. Take a look at the before and after photos!
The wet summer may have dampened Italian hopes of a bumper 2014 harvest. The harm done will vary from region to region, and of course these are only predictions.
Decanter featured an interview with Wolf Blass, the German-born winemaker who made himself one of the biggest names in Australian wine. I wish I could tell how many times someone has arrived at one of our book club meetings with a bottle of Wolf Blass. It’s good to meet the colourful man behind the bottle.
Perhaps it’s the change in the weather, but I’m daydreaming about travel. There were two good travel pieces that caught my eye especially. Vinepair posted a very helpful guide to Italy’s Piedmont for wine-lovers and Decanter‘s Stephen Brook wrote a travel piece on California’s Anderson Valley.