Published by Birkbeck Wine Society January - February 2014
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Welcome Welcome to the January issue.
4 Editor's comments
In defense of diversity
5 Wines of Setubal Peninsula
Jim Budd travels through Portugal
In conversation with Ralph Hochar of Chateau Musar
11 Arabian Nights Out
A Birkbeck alumnus reports from UAE
14 Extreme Wine
Thoughts from a wine economist
17 Producer Focus
Highlights of a recent tasting: Domaine Alain Geoffroy Les Claux des Tourettes Domaine Dubois Domaine Jo Riu Domaine Dalmeran
21 January Event
A tasting of...Georgian Wines
Its not just for breakfast any more
Bloomsbury Wine Review is a independent magazine published by Birkbeck Wine Society. For information about the magazine please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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I was once at a Wines of South Africa tasting and I remember being literally stopped in my tracks by two absolute gems from Stellenbosch. Curious to find out more I struck up a conversation with the winemaker, Miles Mossop, a rather stern Afrikaner with a death-grip handshake. The two wines that I tasted were produced in very limited amounts and the proportion that was actually available in UK that year was very small indeed. One wine, a very limited Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend, is named after Saskia-Jo, Miles’ young daughter. The second, a Bordeaux blend named Max, after his son, who was born in 2005. The production is a puny 6,000 cases – of which some makes its way to UK. His aim is to combine elegance, finesse and vibrant New World fruit to produce a wine which will reward cellaring, but can also be enjoyed in its youth. Cabernet Sauvignon, from slate soils in the Botteleray area of Stellenbosch, dominate the latter blend. It then gains increased complexity from Petit Verdot grown in the same region, but on gravely soils, along with Merlot sourced close by. Miles blends them in such a way as to reflect both the individuality of the terroir and personality of his children. If he is not entirely happy with the vintage then the wines don’t get released but sold on to a commercial winery to be used in their blends. In my opinion, the most exciting wines are made by independent
winemakers. In fact, they regularly accomplish the seemingly impossible. They travel the world to meet the consumers, sharing not only their knowledge and expertise, but also their passion that extends from soil to grape to glass. In the global battle for your wine glass they are the David battling international drinks Goliaths like Pernod Ricard and Diageo who make and market bland wines to sell at supermarkets, often at ridiculous price points. These wines are often not only made in large factories but lack sincerity, not to mention provenance. It is possible to open a bottle of wine in UK and enjoy a blend of different regions or, even worse, countries. A lot of New World wine is bulk shipped by the hectolitre in membranes to giant European depots and then bottled there for the local market. A third of the wine imported by Asda is bottled in the UK, at its own bottling plant. The reality of ‘big wine’ is inevitably as bland as the juice in the bottle. It is a fact that more Italian Pinot Grigio is sold abroad than is actually produced in Italy. As French author Francis Kerline says: - ‘’When I have a glass of wine, I’m imbibing the region where it comes from. If I want a beaker full of the warm south, I choose something from Provence; if I want to taste the myth of France, I sup on a big Burgundy like a Romanée-Conti; and if I want the very douceur de la vie to
wash over my palate, I will opt for a sweet wine from the Loire – such as a Coteaux du Layon, because its aroma will summon the honeyed light of that region.” Judgements as to quality are, of course, framework dependent. In his book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker, the world’s most influential wine critic, gives his definition of what makes a good wine: (1) ‘the ability to please both the palate and the intellect’; (2) ‘the ability to hold the taster’s interest’; (3) ‘the ability to display a singular personality’; (4) ‘the ability to reflect the place of origin’. When I taste a wine, it means little to me unless I understand its origin and diversity. In fact, origin is diversity. Good wine, consumed in a sensible manner, can augment a meal and bring joy to social occasions. Good quality wines charm with their palettes of textures and stimulate with their nuanced detail. Fine wine can bewitch, enchant, and more. Wine is an agricultural product. It should be made not by machines, but by people. We should celebrate the diversity of wine.
Charles Shaw Chair, Birkbeck Wine Society
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Travelling Through Setubal Peninsula Jim Budd
First stop was the large Bacalhôa winery, where we had a visit and a tasting. We should have been going to the lovely Quinta do Bacalhôa with its gardens and azulejos, which dates back some four hundred years, but unfortunately there is renovation work going on there at the moment.
Berardo is a great art collector and there is plenty of evidence of this at the winery including many old azulejos. Close the entrance to the large winery, there are copies of the famous Chinese terracota army. The soldiers and their horses are currently in a rather shabby state, although they may be in the process of renovation.
In December 2003 I'd visited the Quinta but I don't think I had seen the winery, which was founded in 1992 under the name of João Pires et Filhos. In 1998 Comendador Berardo became the major shareholder in the company and, in time, the company name was changed to Bacalhôa.
We had a very good tasting, conducted by Vasco Garcia, the chief winemaker, of seven wines. Although it was All Saints Day the commercial director was also present. With one exception, they showed well and are all good value for money.
Bacalhôa Wines has a production capacity of 20 million litres, space for 15,000 barrels and around 1000 hectares of vines. It is possibly easier to list the major Portuguese wine companies that Berardo doesn't own than mention the ones that he does. After an initial joint venture with Lafite-Rothschild at Quinta do Carmo in the Alentejo, Berardo now owns Carmo and last year became the major shareholder in Aliança.
We started with the 2008 Loridos Alvarinho, Vinho Branco Regional Lisboa (7-8€). Most Alvarinho comes from the northern part of the Minhão around Moncão (Vinho Verde production area). This was decidedly lean, austere and lemony – tonique! in French. I would have liked to have seen a little generosity of fruit. On this evidence it may well be best not to plant more Alvarinho around Lisbon. The crisp 2008 Catarina, Regional Peninsula de Sétubal (6€), was a
The Quinta da Bacalhôa estate, formerly belonging to the Portuguese royal family, dates back to the first half of the XV Century.
6 | Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014 much less challenging white. It is made from Fernão Pires and Arinto grown on flat sandy soils and Chardonnay on the limestone slopes of the Arrábida mountains. Offers good value at 6€. We started the reds with the company's oldest brand – the sooty, herbal and leafy 2007 Tinto da Anfora, Regional Alentejano (6€). The company has 350ha of vines in the Alentejo and Anfora comes from vines in three zones in the region – Portalegre, Borba and Arraiolos. Anfora is a blend of number of varieties including Aragonez (Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's one of those wine that underlines what great value can be had in Portugal in this 4-7€ range. Unlike some of the icon wines that too often have silly price tags. Next the single varietal 2006 Só Touriga Nacional, Regional Peninsula de Sétubal (11-12€) with its combination of violets, herbal freshness along with structure and power in the finish. One of the more successful varietal Tourigas but still could have done of any variety to soften out the angles.
Then the top wine from the showpiece estate in Azeitão – the dense and smoky 2005 Palácio da Bacalhoa, Regional Peninsula de Sétubal (30€). The initial sweet fruit including blackcurrant and toast is balanced by quite a lean finish: a good wine and quite reasonably priced. This 'Bordeaux blend' is a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon (51%), Merlot (43%) and Petit Verdot (6%) and it spends 17 months in French oak barriques. The straight Quinta wine sells for 15€. Finally two examples of Sétubal's unique Moscatel – sadly overlooked ahnd virtually unknown outside Portugal. 'The true secret of Portugal." remarked Charles Metcalfe. The 1999 Balcalhôa Moscatel de Sétubal (15€) is a lovely combination of nuts, sultanas, marmalade, sweet apricot and freshness in the finish.
We finished with a rarity: 1999 Bacalhôa Moscatel Roxo (18€ for 50cls). Most Moscatel here is made from Muscat d'Alexandrie. However, there is a small amount of Roxo, a red Muscat variety that virtually died out here about 20 years ago. Aromas of rose are very characteristic of Roxo. During the 1980s Bacalhôa planted some 4ha of Roxo. It is a very early ripening variety with small berries. Occasionally it ripens in late July. The second and third week of August is more common. In contrast Muscat d'Alexandrie is the latest variety in the region to ripen. As well as aromas of rose the rich and concentrated 1999 Roxo has rich apricot and burnt marmalade flavours. More concentration than the previous Moscatel but less finesse and freshness.
Vasco explained that it is the high acidity that makes Moscatel de Sétubal stand out from other fortified wines – both Muscats and other styles. 1983 was the first vintage Moscatel that Bacalhôa made. Apparently 1998 was an extremely good Moscatel vintage and that the 1999 is less concentrated but is still pretty impressive. Mental note: drink more Moscatel de Setúbal!
Article reproduced with permission from the author. Jim has been a wine writer since 1988 following a number of enjoyable years teaching English in south London. Jim is editor of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers and a contributing editor to Wine Business Insider. He has written for Decanter and many other specialist wine magazines.
His first book Appreciating Fine Wines was published by Quintet Books in 1996 and he was the general editor for Great Wine Tours of the World published by New Holland in 2002. He contributes to the Loire section of Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book.
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Interview Ralph Hochar
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Ch창teau Musar was established in 1930 by Gaston Hochar in an 18th Century castle in the town of Ghazid 15 miles north of Beirut. His first vintage was 1933. His eldest son, Serge took over in 1958 and gradually expanded the winery and saw it through the civil war in the 1970's and 80's. The UK was introduced to Ch창teau Musar by Serge at the 1979 Bristol Wine Fair. Since then the UK has been a major importer of the Ch창teau's annual production of half a million bottles. It was a pleasure to interview Ralph, a third generation Hochar, and to get an insights into the philosophy of Musar wines and his wine production.
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BWR: Hi Ralph. For the benefit of our readers please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your winery and your wines. RH: I am Ralph Hochar, a member of the family which owns and produces Chateau Musar in Lebanon. The winery has been established in 1930 by my grandfather Gaston Hochar in the town of Ghazir, 25 kilometres north of Beirut. Today the company is still a family concern where the second and third generations work together. Our range of 3 wines include the following: a) Chateau Musar (Red, white and Rose), flagship of the winery. Chateau Musar Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan and is released 7 years after the harvest, as this is the lead time our wines need before they are ready to drink. Chateau Musar white is quite unique, made for indigenous Lebanese Grape varieties Merwah and Obaideh, ancestors respectively of Semillon and Chardonnay. It is also released after 7 years in order for the wines to develop properly. Chateau Musar Rose is a blend of three grape varieties, Merwah, obaideh and Cinsault and produced in a very small quantity and not released every year. Current vintage is 2008.
b) Hochar Pere ET Fils, the younger brother of the Chateau Musar red made from four grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, Carignan and Grenache. Current vintage available in the UK is the 2008.
each case, it gave the vintage its unique character.
C) Musar Jeune range (Red, white and Rose) introduced four years ago in the UK, and then in the rest of Europe, Asia and the US. A range of wines which are meant for a younger audience where fruit is still very present. These wines see no oak to retain their freshness and vibrancy.
RH: The Bekaa valley produces fantastic grapes and has always been known as the land of milk and honey since biblical times. We just need to accompany the grapes from the vines to their final stage in a bottle, and the wines will speak for themselves. All we need is time, so that as many people as possible around the world taste and understand our wines. The future is bright.
BWR: We hear that winemaking in Lebanon is experiencing something of resurgence despite the political difficulties and the tensions that we see on the news channels. But difficult is it to make wine in Lebanon? Does it involve harvesting grapes amid gunfire and shelling, things like that? The civil war ended in 1991, and we managed to produce wines in all 17 years of the war except for 1976. Grapes grow and ripen no matter what the environment, they are immune to politics. We had challenging times in many years in the 80’s and more recently in 2006, and each vintage ended up with a specific characteristic due to the harvesting conditions. For example, 1983 and 1984 were harvested late because of the conflict, whereas 1990 was harvested early ahead of a looming fight. In
BWR: In your opinion what is the future for Lebanese wine industry in general and Lebanese wines in UK/Europe?
The Lebanese wine industry has grown a lot since early 2000 and today there are more than 30 producers in the Lebanon. It is an important part of the agriculture sector. This is still a small part of the agricultural sector in Lebanon, but one that is getting more attention and focus from the Lebanese government who now understands the importance of wine for the country’s image as well as its economic benefits. BWR: Berry Bros proclaim in their wine portfolio that Musar is ‘’without doubt Lebanon's top wine estate... few properties have consistently produced such high quality wines’’. Your wines have something of a cult following. Why do you think that is? It is very flattering and is the result
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RH (contd.): of the passion of Serge Hochar and his family, work, and dedication to produce a wine with its own identity for more than 80 years.
BWR: What would you say is the trend for the UK wine market in the next 20-30 years? Wine making is a huge gamble since we produce our wines for consumption 10 to 50 years from now. Trying to forecast the future of the UK wine market in 20 years is also a huge gamble which I wonâ€™t attempt. The only comment I can make is that wine production is not likely to increase around the world, and is likely to witness a shift in production areas and varietals as climate changes continue to affect traditional wine-growing regions. On the other hand, we see an increase in global consumption as more and more people turn to wine. Where will that lead us, who knows? BWR: 2013 is likely to be another good year for English wine producers. Have you tried any of the English (or Welsh) wines? I have tried some sparkling in the past but would be happy to try some English wine in the future. BWR: Where can our readers buy Chateau Musar wines in UK? For those not familiar with the wines what would you recommend they try first? You can buy Chateau Musar in various wine merchants as well as online. I believe in reducing the amount of
carbon footprint on the environment so if you do have a request on Chateau Musar wines, do not hesitate to follow us on facebook, Twitter @ chateaumusar_uk or Instagram and send us your request and we will be happy to give you the details of your local stockist. I would recommend you try our new range of wine first (Musar Jeune) if you have never tried Lebanese wines before. They are the most accessible in our range. If you are interested in wines with more age and complexity, you should explore further with either the Hochar Pere ET Fils or the Chateau Musar range. Our wines pair very well with food, and we have included many foodpairing ideas on our website in the Club Musar membersâ€™ section on our website.
For more details about the wines visit www.chateaumusar.com
Arabian Nights Out
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James Lodge graduated from Birkbeck with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and History. After graduation he secured a teaching contract in Abu Dhabi. We catch up with James as he shares his experience of the drinking scene in United Arab Emirates.
From its humble beginnings as a series of small tribal societies the UAE has grown rapidly into a global centre of business, commerce and tourism. Generous tax free salaries and the UK recession have led to a dramatic rise in the expatriates: an estimated 240,000 British live and work in the country, a number which has doubled since 2008. Last year I became part of that statistic when I started a 3 year
teaching contract in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. My immediate thought upon disembarking into the 40 degree heat was â€˜What do you have to do to get a drink around here?â€™ Well, not much as it turns out. Alcohol is available in the UAE and the growing tourist industry and boom in western immigration have kept demand high. Millions of litres of alcohol are
consumed in restaurants, hotel bars and at the numerous music, sporting and cultural events which the capital hosts each year. Over the course of a recent long weekend I and some friends sampled a little of what Abu Dhabi has to offer in terms of alcoholic drinks. Hopefully this brief account will serve as a useful guide to those thinking about visiting or perhaps living here.
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At the time of writing, 1 pound was approximately equal to 6 dirhams (AED). I would advise anyone new to the UAE to convert prices into sterling before purchasing drinks, especially in expensive hotels. It’s also a good idea to sit down and take deep breaths while doing so. However, before a drop passes anyone's lips, a word of warning. Although the UAE is considered a relatively cosmopolitan country, the consumption of alcohol is subject to strict legislation. Residents must have a liquor licence to purchase alcohol. These are easily available and the application process has recently moved online. Visitors can drink in their hotels providing that the hotels are licensed to sell alcohol. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol altogether. In addition, remember that the UAE is an Islamic country and if you are out drinking in a bar or restaurant you should behave appropriately. Public drunkenness is a no-no and drink driving can result in custodial sentences and deportation for those unlucky enough to get caught. Having said that, the law and its application are not necessarily consistent. I have never been asked to show my license and on several nights out I’ve seen all kinds of alcohol fuelled antics going on with apparent immunity. Of course horror stories abound in the press and online about arrests, fines and even police beatings, so it’s best to exercise a little caution. Common sense and respect for the law need not spoil a good night out.
I decide to stock up on supplies first because, as in the UK, it’s cheaper to have a few drinks before going out. If you want to buy alcohol to drink at home, you have to do so in a licensed outlet. There are several chains in the UAE: Spinney's, African and Eastern and Barracuda are popular and have wide selections of beers, wines and spirits. My local - High Spirits - has a good range and the shelves are stocked with familiar brands and some more exotic choices. A case of Budweiser, Heineken or Fosters costs around 130AED. German pilsners and Weissbiers are a little pricier. Spirits are in plentiful supply with some bargains on cheaper brands of vodka, whiskey and gin (40 AED for 2 litres) and some nice higher end choices such as single malts and aged Bourbons. There are even liquors, digestives and aperitifs, some I’d never heard of (Arak anyone?) There is a great selection of wine, both old world and new. At the lower end of the price range there are some good buys – I get a Primitivo and a Pinotage for 40AED each and a couple of South American whites for the same price. More expensive choices like a Gaja Barbaresco or a Solaia Antinori will set you back well over 1000 AED. We kick off the following day with brunch. In the UAE, brunch – essentially a buffet style, all you can eat meal with alcohol – has become something of an institution, especially in Dubai where the Friday brunches are a staple of western expat weekends. The alcohol inclusive nature of the brunch makes it great value
for money. Again, caution should be exercised - brunches can last for several hours and the temptation to drink as much as possible to get your money’s worth often gets the better of many an Emirates rookie, with messy results. We choose a mid-price option in the Aloft hotel, above the Abu Dhabi NEC. For around 180AED there is plenty of food and drink on the menu including traditional Arabic dishes, curries, salads, roast meats and vegetarian options. Steaks and kebabs are cooked to order on a barbecue and there is a good selection of seafood including sushi, oysters and grilled lobster. There are desserts too, for those who still have room left. Wine and beer is included in the price. It’s not a good idea to go off the menu at a brunch as one friend found out when he ordered a round of whiskey sours and ended up paying more than his airfare home. Brunches usually finish at specific times so when the booze returns to full price and we’re full of food, we move on to a pub. While there is no pub culture in Abu Dhabi, in recent years expat demand has seen a number of Irish, US and English style establishments appearing in and around the city. These aren't really pubs as we know them as all are within the premises of licensed hotels. Many lay on the authenticity with a trowel, but most are fine to have a pint in. We head to Coopers - an English style bar in the Rotana hotel complex. Inside it resembles a Wetherspoons. What indeed could be more English?
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If you are in a pub in Abu Dhabi, find out when the happy hour is as this is really the only time when you can have a drink for a reasonable price. Coopers has plenty on its happy hour menu: draught beers, wines and spirits are all around 30AED. The happy hour lasts from 12pm to 12, so it is always busy. We take our leave sometime after midnight and, somewhat the worse for wear, head home. We meet the next day, nursing our hangovers, in a Japanese bar set amongst the labyrinthine interior of the Shangrila Hotel. Themed restaurants are popular in Abu Dhabi and you can find Asian, South American and German style bars and restaurants all over the city.
Hotels are popular with Abu Dhabi's high rollers and westerners with plenty of disposable income. Consequently, prices can be high and it is not unusual to find alarmingly expensive additions to drinks menus, particularly in higher end establishments. I double take when I see a shot of Saki for 3000 AED. Thankfully, happy hours are common in restaurant bars as well as pubs and we find some cocktails on offer which keep us amused until we leave for Yas Island and the Grand Prix circuit later that afternoon. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finished earlier in the day, but we have tickets for the after show concert which carries on into the night. These events
are almost as big as the race itself and attract huge crowds and big name acts. Jay Z and Muse played on the previous two nights and the headliners tonight are Depeche Mode. Inside the arena numerous stalls and bars selling alcohol line the perimeter. The choice is limited to lager, cider and a few spirits. Expect to pay top prices at music and sports events. A pint here costs 60AED, a double with a mixer around 120AED. We take turns buying possibly the most expensive rounds in history, and drink them very slowly indeed to the electro rhythms of Personal Jesus and Just Can’t Get Enough. The lager at least is cold and fizzy, which is more than can be said of pints I've drunk
at concerts in the UK. We leave early to avoid the taxi queues and head back and finish off the wine. While I occasionally miss pork scratchings and real ale, I’ve really warmed to Abu Dhabi. There’s hardly a drinking culture here, but that is no bad thing. The sense of moderation there is a pleasant change from the binge drinking excesses of the UK, and the surprisingly wide variety of alcoholic drinks available and places in which to drink them makes Abu Dhabi a hidden gem in the Middle East and one well worth visiting.
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Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, University of Puget Sound Twenty-dollar-bill wines don’t really cost twenty dollars, so you can put your wallet away. The name comes from a joke that is popular among economists and therefore essentially unknown to the rest of the world. The joke goes like this. A non-economist walks into a bar and says excitedly to the bartender (who is an economist). 'Wow, this is my lucky day! I just found a twentydollar bill on the sidewalk in front of your bar!' The bartender takes a long look at the fellow, who is waving the bill in the air. 'No, you didn’t,' he says. 'Yes, I did!' replies the customer. 'See, it’s right here!' 'Can’t be—you’re wrong,' the economist-bartender coolly replies. 'You’re ignoring rational economic theory. If there had been a twenty-dollar bill on the sidewalk, someone would have already picked it up. So it is logically impossible that you could have found one.' 'But look—here it is!' the customer exclaims. 'Look, buddy,' the bartender says, turning away, 'What do you think I’m going to believe—your bill or my theory?' The joke of course (sorry, but economists always explain jokes, even the obvious ones) is that economists tend to believe their theories even when
they can clearly see refuting evidence with their own eyes. You would think that this makes economists different from regular folks, but in the case of rare wines, we are all pretty much the same. There are many 'cult' wines that are famous for being impossible to buy. They are so scarce, the story goes, that they are all invisibly absorbed by the lucky few folks who years ago
gained access to the wine-club distribution list. No one else ever gets a shot. They are as rare as rare can be. I call these the twenty-dollar-bill wines because if you saw one (at a wine shop or on a restaurant wine list), you would probably rub your eyes. Impossible! How could that be? Must be a mistake (or maybe a fake!). If they really had that wine for sale, they would already have sold it.
Opus One produces approximately 250,000 bottles each year
Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014 | 15 The dirty little secret of these wines is that they are sometimes quite reasonably available, but the myth of impossible scarcity is maintained because that’s how myths work and because no one can believe their eyes. This was especially true during the Great Recession that began in 2008. Many impossible-to-find wines showed up in the marketplace as wine-club members resold their allocations and restaurants offloaded their new shipments, and some of their reserve wines were put on the market, too. You could pick up these wines on the sidewalk (well, not exactly . . .), yet the myth that they were impossible to find prevailed. Opus One is an example that illustrates the twenty-dollar-bill concept at work, although I admit that it is not a perfect example. Opus One is a cult Napa Valley winery founded in 1979 as a partnership between California legend Robert Mondavi and Bordeaux legend Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild and of course Mouton Cadet. Opus One is a red Bordeaux blend made from grapes sourced from Mondavi’s (also legendary) To Kalon vineyard. The website offers the opportunity to purchase a single bottle of the 2008 vintage of Opus One (no more!) for $225. It’s not impossible to purchase, apparently, but it is very limited. Objectively, however, Opus One and many other cult wines are relatively easy to find. I have read that Opus One produces thirty thousand cases (or 360,000 bottles) of its first wine, for example, which is a very considerable amount of wine given its selling price. It is rare, I admit, and I would be surprised to see it at a sidewalk sale, but its scarcity is as much the result of rational theory as
concrete fact. The real rarities, in my mind, are wines made in small quantities for local consumption from indigenous grapes – I call them the “invisible wines” because they are rarely seen outside their traditional homes. They have no large economic interests behind them and are frequently ignored or simply overlooked by wine media. Often they are produced in tiny quantities and can be found within a very small geographic neighborhood. They are wines to be savored if you are lucky enough to find them. Our last trip to Italy yielded three of these small treasures: Pignoletto, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, and Ruché. Pignoletto is a dry white wine grown only in the hills outside Bologna. “Lively, crisp, aromatic” is how Jancis Robinson describes it in her Guide to Wine Grapes. Pignoletto is distinctly Bolognese – grown there, made there, and I think that every last drop of it is consumed there, too, since it goes so well with the rich local cuisine (almost as if they evolved together . . . which I guess they did). It would be hard to beat the simple meal of salumi, cheese, and bread that we had with a bottle of pignoletto frizzante at Tamburini’s wine bar in the Bologna central market. Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is a distinctive red wine from the Marche region. Robinson describes it as 'fast maturing, strangely scented.' Burton Anderson says that it is a 'purplecrimson wine with . . . foxy berrylike odor and ripe plum flavor.' Apparently it fades very quickly, but it is distinctive and intense while it lasts. It sure stood up to the very rich cuisine of Ferrara when we visited our friends in that city. We were fortunate that the restaurant owner
guided us to this wine from the Mario Lucchetti estate. Ruché comes from the Piemonte, and we stumbled upon it by accident (which I guess is how we usually stumble...). We were attending the annual regional culinary fair in Moncalvo, a hill town half an hour north of Asti. Thirteen 'pro loco' civic groups from throughout the region set up food and wine booths in the central square and sold their distinctly local wares to a hungry luncheon crowd. I had never heard of ruché and honestly didn’t know what it might be until I happened upon the stand of the Castagnole Monferrato group. They were cooking with ruché, marinating fruit in ruché, and selling it by the glass—they were obviously very proud of their local wine. I had to try it and it was great. Suddenly I saw ruché everywhere (a common experience with a new discovery) and enjoyed a bottle at dinner in Asti that night. 'Like nebbiolo,' Jancis Robinson writes, “the wine is headily scented and its tannins imbue it with an almost bitter aftertaste.' An interesting wine and a memorable if unexpected discovery. Wines like these are diamonds in the rough (sometimes they can taste a bit rough, too, but that’s another story). So much attention is focused on famous names and international wine-grape varieties that we overlook the really rare, sometimes fragile wines. This extract from Mike Vesth's book Extreme Wine: Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered is published with permission from Rowman & Littlefield.
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Alain Geoffroy vines in Chablis
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French Wine Discoveries Tasting Domaine Alain Geoffroy We catch up with Pascal Sailley, representing Domaine Alain Geoffroy, at a recent tasting in Tobacco Dock, E1.
The Chablis vineyards are amongst the oldest vineyards in France and Domain Alain Geoffroy is one of the oldest family estates in Chablis. In the 12th century, the monks of Citeaux cultivated and carefully tended their vineyards, which produced agreeable nectar. HonorĂŠ Geoffroy, great-grandfather of Alain, established the estate around 1850 in the parishes of Beines and Chapelle-Vaupelteigne. Today the Domaine covers 50 hectares in Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru (Beauroy, Fourchaume and Vau-Ligneau) and Chablis Grand Cru.
Alain is the descendant of four generations of wine growers and one can see that the art of wine making is still very much alive. Today, at Domaine Alain Geoffroy, they continue to cherish their vines so that they produce wines that are not just thirst-quenchers but wines that provide everyone with pleasure. Domaine Alain Geoffroy is a familyrun estate of fifty hectares on the famous Kimmeridgian limestone soils of Chablis.
the site since 1850. Fermentation of this wine is achieved using yeasts naturally present in the winery. The wine then spends three months on its lees before bottling. Wines presented at the tasting: Petit Chablis 2012 Chablis 2012 Chablis 1er Cru Vau-Lingeau 2012 Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2012 Representation in UK: Oddbins www.chablis-geoffroy.com +33 (0) 3 86 42 43 76
The Geoffroy family have been on
Alain Geoffroy vines in Chablis
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French Wine Discoveries Tasting Domaine Jo Riu AOP Limoux Les Coteaux de Fournes Wines presented at the tasting: Esprit de Familie cuvee Capucine 2011 White Esprit de Familie 2011 Red Esprit de Familie 2010 Red Cremant Rose Terrajo 2011 Red
Representation: Not yet distributed in UK www.domainejoriu.com +33 (0) 6 22 87 82 17
Les Claux des Tourettes
French Wine Discoveries Tasting Domaine Dubois
Les Claux des Tourettes produces today about 45 000 hecto liter of wine each year: red, rosé and white. The denominations are IGP Cévennes, IGP Pays d’Oc and Duché d’Uzès. 10 % of the harvest is certified Ecocert. The 700 hectares are cultivated by 70 wine growers and covers 23 municipalities. Expressive wines at competitive pricepoints.
Wines presented at the tasting: Cotes de Nuits Villages White Les Monts de Boncourt 2012 Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits Red 2012 Beaune Red 2011 Cotes de Nuits Villages Red 2011 Savigny 1er Cru Red 2011 Les Narbantons Representation: Not yet distributed in UK www.domaine-dubois.com +33 (0) 3 80 62 30 61
Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014 | 19
French Wine Discoveries Tasting Les Claux des Tourettes Languedoc - Roussillon / Cevennes Les Coteaux de Fournes Rhone Valley Les Claux des Tourettes produces today about 45 000 hecto liter of wine each year: red, rosé and white. The denominations are IGP Cévennes, IGP Pays d’Oc and Duché d’Uzès. 10 % of the harvest is certified Ecocert. The 700 hectares are cultivated by 70 wine growers and covers 23 municipalities. Expressive wines at competitive pricepoints!
Wines presented at the tasting: Muscat IGP Cevennes Sauvignon Blanc IGP Cevennes Chardonnay IGP Cevennes Grenache IGP Cevennes Rose Merlot / Cabernet IGP Cevennes Alicante / Merlot IGP Cevennes Representation: Not yet distributed in UK www.cevenneswines.com +33 (0) 4 66 83 21 64
WineTasting Events in London Winfield Wines have been arranging successful wine tasting events since 1997. We specialize in tailor-made events to meet our clientsâ€™ exact needs, often based on a tried and tested format and we can arrange tasting events and dinners for groups from as small as 12 up to any number. Email: email@example.com Telephone: 020 8997 4718
Birkbeck Wine Society is based at University of London and dedicated to promotion of enjoyment and understanding of wine. We provide access to merchants, critics, authors and wine educators.
Birkbeck Wine Society Event Friday, January 31, 2014 Georgian Wine Tasting (co-hosted by Oxford's Georgian Wine Society) The country of Georgia in the Caucasus is known as "The Cradle of Wine" - the land where wine making first began, around 7000 years ago. Georgia also has over 500 indigenous varieties of grape (think Saperavi and Rkatsiteli, rather than Shiraz and Chardonnay), and one of the most developed wine cultures in the world. It is therefore suprising that these wines are relatively unknown in the Western World, but the reason for this obscurity is that for the last century Russia and Eastern Europe's insatiable demand for Georgian wine meant that it never reached UK shores. With Georgian winemakers now looking for new export markets, there is a unique opportunity to sample these wines that were once known throughout Europe. Georgian Wine Society co-founder Chris Bowling will be bringing a selection of wines that demonstrates Georgia's broad variety of indigenous grapes, as well as the traditional and modern styles of Georgian winemaking. For more details and tickets email firstname.lastname@example.org
The society hosts regular wine tasting events. It is our aim to attempt to understand and explain the relationship between land, grape variety and wine maker. With experts on hand to offer information and advice, this is perhaps the most enjoyable way to expand your wine knowledge. Our tastings are suitable for everyone from the complete beginner who wants to expand their wine horizons to those with more experience.
Charles Shaw Editor
22 | Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014
Port: It’s Not Just
For Breakfast Any More Roy Hersh
Some traditions die hard and the same goes for preconceived notions. Port is arguably as traditional a wine as any on the face of the planet. Nonetheless, fairly or not, in many circles Port remains stuck in the 19th or 20th centuries … or at least the perception of its character does. So it is time to remove the shackles once and for all and embrace natural progression. First we must have a look at the anachronistic reputation of Port and the image it portrays for some wine enthusiasts. ‘Port is consumed in smoke-filled leather clad club rooms by old English gentlemen, always after dinner and absent their women who are excluded from sharing in this privileged drink of the well-todo.’ As ridiculous as many of us find this picture; unfortunately it remains the prevailing view of the unenlightened. Often times this inaccurate depiction is fostered in the new media by “writers” who rarely bother to learn more about Port than reading a few pages of an article or chapter in a book written decades or centuries ago, before spreading their misinformation -- or worse -- conjuring up those hackneyed images in their work. Tasting room
Influence can be dangerous, especially when it comes to reporting “news” or so called “facts” and it is no different with Port wine. Time and again, I am left shaking my head after reading factually flawed magazine articles, online blogs or commentary by wine generalists attempting to discuss Port. A little bit of fact checking could easily be the panacea, but requires time and effort and some writers just don’t want to be bothered. In today’s world of information-spewing from their couches, airplanes and mobile devices, it often times appears to be more essential to meet a deadline, than to accurately relay a story on Port (not to mention, wine in general). It is not news that Port producers are struggling to rebuild market share for their time-honoured drink in today’s competitive environment. Tougher drunk driving laws, a stagnant global economy, greater awareness of wine’s alcohol levels and BAC, and the aforementioned old perceptions; have all hampered Port sales for the majority of the past decade. At the same time a traditional industry has sought to reach new and younger consumers in a variety of progressive ways. Port pairing was once limited to
chocolate, walnuts, Stilton cheese, cigars and a variety of desserts. But that was your grandfather’s Port. Necessity is the mother of invention and the shippers have begun to aggressively market their wares and link Ports to today’s consumer. No longer is Port solely relegated to the end of a meal. New categories like Aged White Ports and Rosé Ports are changing the landscape and it is not uncommon to find Port mixed in unique cocktail concoctions, served as an aperitif or even as part of the meal itself. I’ve observed dozens of new recipes developed over the past couple of years, emanating from the Port producers who work with esteemed chefs to innovate delicious dishes that work well with Vinho do Porto. Now is the time to look at Port differently, even if at first blush the solutions might seem rather avantgarde. My friend Andy Velebil has occasionally held Port ‘n pizza parties for his friends and others who are budding young Port enthusiasts, with great success. Pairings have gone wild, serving glasses of Port with game such as lamb, boar, bear and elk as well as grilled steaks, Port is no longer just used to marinate those meats. But why not try a 10 or 20 year old Tawny to complement
Bloomsbury Wine Review | January 2014 | 23
certain seafood preparations, or an offdry White Port in conjunction with Thai or other Asian fare, or Greek food to name just two ethnic options. Is that going too far afield? I think not. Port and the Port trade have successfully braved many a difficult obstacle over the centuries. Today’s challenges are obviously different, but in order to gain further significance during the course of this new decade, creativity must spawn dynamic ideas, some of which have never been tried before. One not so new suggestion, is to further promote Port “lifestyle experiences” that could be part of our current culture, rather than focusing on food pairings.
Advertisements depicting photos of Port, an ashtray with a cigar or Stilton and nuts is so, well, 1970’s. Why not show a pair of young couples sipping Port slope side after skiing? Given the importance of social media, how about a bottle of Port and a half filled glass next to a computer with Facebook on the screen? A group of twenty-somethings sitting at their mountaintop camp site with a bottle of Port being passed around sans glasses? How about featuring images of different ethnic groups sipping Port, which I’ve rarely if ever seen appear in wine advertising, (a largely untapped and growing demographic)? Or a group of young men and women watching a sporting event like FIFA football, with a glass of Port in hand, instead of beer, (may
be the case in Europe, but why not in N. America)? Don’t wait! Now is the time to replace the nostalgic images and perceptions of Port and bring it full circle, into the 21st century! Roy Hersh is a Port enthusiast and editor of For The Love Of Port, a website specializing in the wines of Douro Region. Considered one of the leading Port wine and Madeira authorities and journalists in the United States, Roy was one of just
two Americans selected by the Confraria do Vinho do Porto (Port Wine Brotherhood) www.fortheloveofport.com
PUBLISHED BY BIRKBECK WINE SOCIETY WWW.BIRKBECKWINESOCIETY.ORG BIRKBECK, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON © 2014 BIRKBECK WINE SOCIETY
Published on Jan 18, 2014