In recent years, the landscape of South African winemaking has altered dramatically, culminating in the changes to the country’s wine regulations which were announced at the beginning of the week.
The alterations, which were brought about after lobbying
from a group of winemakers based in the region of Swartland, allow producers to
be more creative during the vinification process. Members of the lobby group
had expressed concerns that the style of their wines were deemed unsatisfactory
and, despite being in high demand in foreign markets, were being rejected by
the regulatory board due to the fact they had not been made using a classic
However, after the passing of these new regulations, six new classes of wine shall now be allowed to bear the official South African Wine and Spirit Board (SAWSB) crest on their bottles. These new categories including ‘skin-macerated white’, ‘natural pale/non-fortified pale’ and ‘sun wine’, are an indication that South African winemakers are prepared to break from the past and become increasingly experimental with their produce – while maintaining the quality for which South African wine is renowned.
The strength of this quality production focussing on slightly funkier wines was plain to see at the “New Wave South Africa” tasting in the London district of Soho last week, which Richard attended in order to speak with our South African producers and to get a feel for this new enthusiastic group of winemakers who are intent on doing things their own way.
Among the more eccentric producers that Richard was fortunate enough to meet, Johan Meyer is a winemaker who dedicates his whole operation to ensuring his products are a true expression of their natural terroirs. He cultivates a wide variety of grapes including Chenin, Semillon, Grenache Blanc, Cinsault, Syrah and Pinotage, in an effort to showcase the potential for quality in South African soil for the growth of a whole range of different varietals. Johan believes that, “the word terroir should be used in honest terms. Letting the area and grape speak for itself in the bottle is my goal – natural fermented grape juice, that’s all!” This standpoint is most definitely a sign of the shift away from strict, classical winemaking in South Africa. His range of cuvees, bottled under the labels of ‘Mother Rock’ and ‘Force Majeure’ are definitely worth looking out for.
Of our trusted producers, Richard was able to catch up with
Hein and Adi Badenhorst, the cousins who front up affairs for the team at AA
Badenhorst wines. Founded in 2007, this Swartland operation utilises modern
winemaking techniques that allow them to experiment with the wonderful terroirs
that surrounds them. In our eyes, their wines definitely represent all that is
good about “New Wave South Africa”.
As Scotland prepare to play South Africa in their crucial Rugby World Cup game this weekend, we hope that a newfound sense of creativity and a continued delivery of quality is limited to the South African vineyards and doesn’t extend to the rugby pitch…!
Papegaai, A.A Badenhorst, 2014 - £11.00
Secateur Rose, A.A Badenhorst, 2014 – £12.15
Secateur Chenin Blanc, A.A Badenhorst, 2014 - £12.15
Secateur Red, A.A Badenhorst, 2012 - £12.15
On Wednesday, Scotland made a strong start to their Rugby World Cup campaign with a convincing win over giant-killers Japan. As the competition intensifies, so does the divide in the office, as our French contingent continue to talk up their chances of becoming World Champions, while the Scots among us remain quietly confident of a strong showing in the tournament.
One area in which Philippe and Richard do hold obvious superiority is the wide array of patriotic wine in the warehouse that they are able to enjoy while they cheer on their side.
While global warming is yet to provide aspiring Scottish viticulturalists with the opportunity to cultivate vines here, in Jamie McCulloch’s produce we have the next best thing!
Jamie, originally from Edinburgh, founded his winery, “Les Deux Cimes”, in the Swiss Alps in 2007, one year after completing his oenology studies. He was attracted to working in this Swiss alpine region by its very particular mountain terroir that provides great scope for experimenting with a number of different grape varieties.
The wine scene in Switzerland is refreshingly populated, in the most part, by small independent wineries. Over the last few years, the quality of production has risen dramatically, yet due to the small amount of wine produced, only about 2% of overall production is ever exported.
Jancis Robinson once remarked that Swiss winemakers operated on such a small scale that, “yields are measured not in tonnes per acre or hectolitres per hectare, but in kilos per square metre.” In fact, it is reported that the village of Saillon in Valais, the same appellation as Jamie’s operation, contains the world’s smallest vineyards. It also has one of the more obscure vineyard owners in the world – the Dalai Lama!
At l’Art du Vin, we are fortunate enough to have an allocation of two of Jamie’s great wines. His Fendant, the Swiss name for Chasselas, is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc – fresh and zesty but fleshy with juicy yellow plum characters and a herbal, savoury finish.
Switzerland now produces more red than white wine and Jamie’s Pinot Noir provides an example of the high quality on offer in the region. Barrel aged, it is medium bodied but elegant and refined with juicy, crushed black cherry and strawberry characters. Hints of orange and spice are noticeable on the finish.
We hope that you are able to sit back and enjoy the rugby with a glass of Fendant or Pinot Noir and feel a degree more patriotic about what you are drinking!
Allez les bleus!
Fendant, Les Deux
Cimes, Valais, Switzerland 2014 - £17.90
“Classic Swiss wine made by our Scottish friend Jamie McCulloch. Svelte, elegant with subtle flavours combining flowers and orchard fruits. Only 1000 cases produced each year!”
Pinot Noir, Les Deux Cimes, Valais, Switzerland 2014 -
“Fermented and aged in oak casks, this is a piercing, smoky Pinot Noir with hints of blackberries and wild raspberries.”
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As you will have noticed from our brief message earlier in the week, this year we will not be hosting our hugely successful ‘Meet the Producers Tasting’ in November.
Over the course of 2015 we have pursued other projects, such as our ‘Wine Restaurant’ pop-up during the Edinburgh Festival. Furthermore, we are currently in the process of planning a couple of events that will take place in the run-up to the festive period. We will keep you updated on our progress with regards to these exciting goings-on over the next few weeks!
However, do not worry, as in 2016 the ‘Meet the Producers’ event will be making a return! We are looking to improve the event and if you have any feedback on previous years then please get in touch with us.
For us, the main objective of the ‘Meet the Producers’ event is to showcase as much of our current selection as possible, with a primary focus on the new wines that we have acquired each year.
To ensure that our valued customers are not missing out on the experience of trying the new wines that most excite us, we have each selected 6 of our favourite recent additions to our portfolio, highlighting some of our personal favourites from the last year. Being competitive, our pride is on the line as we wait to see which of our case selections proves to be the most popular with you all!
If you would like to purchase any of these cases (which will be delivered free of charge and arrive with accompanying tasting notes) then please email email@example.com or call 01383 873 510. Please note that all wines can also be purchased individually.
Philippe’s case - £87.60
Godello Louro do
Bollo, Rafael Palacios, Valdeorras, Spain 2014 (£18.45)
“My wife’s favourite wine, so we always have a couple of bottles in our home cellar!”
Farmlands Pinot Noir, Johan Vineyards, Oregon, USA 2013
“This range of wines only arrived in our warehouse last week! This is a great example of the quality of wines now being produced in Oregon and I can’t wait to take a few more bottles home for ‘research’ purposes…”
Menetou Salon, Domaine Philippe Gilbert, Loire, France 2012
“My preferred style of Sauvignon Blanc, powerful and elegant with citrus notes but possessing a touch of minerality on the finish.”
Rivesaltes Ambré, Domaine Lafage, Roussillon, France NV 50cl
“The best sweet wine I have come across this year – the perfect match to light chocolate, caramel or an old favourite of mine, sticky toffee pudding!”
Gaillac Blanc Sec, Chateau Château Clement-Termes, Gaillac,
France 2014 (£10.35)
“A fascinating blend of native grape varieties, including Mauzac, Loin de l’Oeil and Muscadelle, this wine is the perfect partner to light salads or a wide variety of fish dishes.”
Malbec Cedrus, Chateau du Cedre, Cahors, France 2014 (£8.20)
“A wonderfully rustic wine that is a great accompaniment to the French comfort food I cook during the cold Scottish winter!”
Lewis’ case - £87.65
Pinot Grigio, Channing Daughters, Long Island, USA 2013
“Like no Pinot Grigio I have ever tasted. A wine that will change your perceptions of this variety.”
Viognier, Chateau Pesquie, Rhone, France 2014 (£9.00)
“A great aperitif but I enjoy it best alongside a mildly spiced dish – korma is a particular favourite.”
Gavi de Gavi
Monserito, Tenuta Carretta, Piemonte, Italy 2014 (£13.85)
“Straw-yellow in colour with striking green highlights and bursting with citrus fruit, this is like an Indian Summer in a glass – hopefully we have the weather to match it!”
Tommy Ruff Shiraz Mourvèdre, Tom Shobbrook, Barossa Valley,
Australia 2011 (£24.85)
“Far more intricate than the majority of produce from Barossa, this wine showcases the potential created by using natural yeasts and employing practices of minimal intervention. Silky smooth, one glass quickly turns into a whole bottle…”
Pinot Noir, Seigneurie De Peyrat, Languedoc, France 2014
“Great value for money. A wine that highlights the potential quality of Reds from the Languedoc.”
Pittacum, Bodegas Pittacum, Bierzo, Spain 2014 (£11.40)
“My favourite autumnal red – perfect with a hearty stew as the nights draw in.”
Richard’s case - £74.60
Sauvignon Blanc, Mahi, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013
“Made by one of the best Kiwi wine makers. This Sauvignon offers texture and depth, rather than focussing solely on primary fruit notes like many other examples from the region.”
Unfiltered/Unfined Catarratto, Ciello Bianco, Sicily, Italy
“Great match to my wife's fabulous risotto, becoming an iconic wine. Can appear cloudy due to limited fining. This provides the benefit of greater flavour, texture and mouthfeel.”
Chardonnay, Channing Daughters, Long Island, USA 2013
“After years of being shunned by many drinkers, Chardonnay is back! This is an elegant, Chablis-style wine from the Hamptons.”
Valvares, Bodegas Altanza, Rioja, Spain 2013 (£8.95)
“Modern juicy, easy Rioja. Ideal for a school night.”
Corbieres Rouge Cuvee Classique, Chateau Ollieux Romanis,
“A stunning autumn warmer – try it with venison dishes.”
Bodegas Monteviejo, Valle de Uco, Argentina 2014 (£10.85)
“Malbec with a bit of "je ne sais quoi", ideal with grilled steak.”
Mark’s Case - £101.60
Donkeyxote Garnacha, Donkeyxote, Navarra, Spain 2013 (£9.60)
“A great wine to have at barbeques – hopefully I have the chance to host a few more this year!”
Savigny les Beaune 1er Cru 'Les Peuillets', Domaine D'Ardhuy,
Burgundy, France 2011 (£24.35)
“I recently received a bottle of this Savigny as a gift. Undoubtedly a special wine for a special occasion.”
Cote Floral, Domaine Lafage, Roussilon, France 2014 (£9.60)
“A blend dominated by Muscat and Viognier, the Cote Floral is perfect for a chilled night in with friends.”
12 Volts, 4 Kilos Vinicola, Mallorca, Spain 2013 (£22.20)
“My favourite addition to our Spanish portfolio. A wine that most definitely highlights the quality of wines from lesser known Spanish regions.”
Arneis, Tenuta Carretta, Piemonte, Italy 2014 (£13.85)
“This little-known indigenous Italian grape varietal forms a wine that is fruity, floral and very well structured.”
Pinot Noir Malterdinger, Bernhard Huber, Baden, Germany 2013 (£22)
“This Pinot Noir has been a favourite of mine for a number of years. Thankfully the latest vintage, which we received just last week, is just as good as the last one!”
At l’Art du Vin we pride ourselves on the relationships that we maintain with each of our producers. We strive to keep abreast of all the goings-on at the estates we work with across the world and thoroughly enjoy frequent conversations with our winemaking partners.
As a result, whenever we hear news of bad weather in a wine producing region, we hold our breath. Mother Nature can be cruel and in the past we have seen the entire harvest at some of our friends’ estates destroyed in a matter of minutes due to rain, wind, hail or drastic changes in temperatures.
Last week, in the early hours of Tuesday 1st of September, a freak hail storm struck the area of Chablis. While hail can be devastating to any winemaking region, the timing last week in Burgundy was particularly cruel, as it arrived just days before the harvest was due to commence. Furthermore, after several years of hail-affected harvests, many had been touting this particular vintage as exceptional, only for around 100 hectares of vines to be completely destroyed in a matter of hours.
On Tuesday morning, as soon as we became aware of the news, Richard called Nicolas Laroche, head of the team at Domaine de la Meulière, who has supplied us with premium-quality Chablis wines since our inception in 2007.
Thankfully, their vines were unharmed and their prestigious Premier Cru appellations of Les Fourneaux and Monts de Milieu emerged unscathed. A relieved Nicolas was in the process of planning the harvest, which is taking place as we speak. We are sure it will turn out to be a great vintage, despite their latest stroke of bad luck.
The Laroche family have been independent wine growers for generations, producing fantastic Chablis from Domaine de la Meulière since the late 19th century. In recent years, the youngest generation of workers, namely Nicolas and his brother Vincent, have introduced a number of modern winemaking techniques. However, they still maintain a clear connection with the traditional methods employed by their ancestors and in 2015, they will count themselves as part of an ever-shrinking group of Chablis producers who continue to complete their harvest by hand.
We would like to wish Nicolas and his team all the best for their impending harvest and we hope they manage to complete their operations before any further freak weather affects the area.
In the meantime, why don’t you enjoy the fruits of Nicolas’ past harvests? Details of ours wines from Domaine de la Meulière are listed below.
Domaine de la Meulière
Petit Chablis 2014, £13.75
Text book Chablis, crisp, green apples, fennel and flinty notes on the finish
Chablis 2014, £15.00
Classic, crisp, un-oaked Chardonnay with citrus and mineral characters
Chablis 1er Cru 'Les
Fourneaux' 2013, £20.60
As it is starting to age, this 1er Cru is showing some lovely honey and almond characters along with a distinctive savoury, fennel finish
Chablis 1er Cru
'Monts de Millieu' 2013, £22.25
Vigorous and full-bodied with good minerality and a wide variety of fruit and flower aromas. Displays great keeping qualities.
The Wine Restaurant – Week #3
Last week saw the culmination of our ‘Wine Restaurant’ project, in partnership with the Institut Francais. Two sell-out sittings enjoyed another carefully devised menu from chef Emmanuel Métivier that accompanied the wines selected by Philippe.
A starter of salmon carpaccio kicked off the evening, chosen to partner a glass of Blanc Seleccio (£11.70), produced by Jane Ventura, in the Spanish region of Penedes. More commonly known as the home of Cava, many viticulturalists in this area of Catalonia have taken to using traditional grapes to make still wines, of which Jane’s Blanc Seleccio is a fine example. The blend is dominated by the indigenous grape variety of Xarel•lo (65%), along with Macabeu, Garnatxa Blanca, Malvasia de Sitges. Aromas of lychee, pineapple, grapefruit and scents of fennel are detectable on the nose, while the palate is crisp with hints of white flowers, providing an ideal accompaniment to the oily salmon.
Over the course of the 3 weeks, Philippe elected to show only one rosé wine. However, feedback from our guests suggested that his selection, a Tavel from Prieure de Montezargues (£13) in the southern Rhone, was worth the wait! Well regarded as the best rosé producing district of the Rhone Valley, Tavel wines are crafted using a careful blend of grape varieties that produce some France’s more full blooded rosés. This rosé has lovely aromas of ripe, red berries with notes of the ubiquitous spicy garrigue – perfect when paired with a beautiful Scottish scallop served on a bed of ratatouille.
Domaine D'Ardhuy, located in the heart of Burgundy, is a producer that we have recently added to our portfolio. Like many of our favourite estates, the vineyard is family owned, currently headed by Gabriel d’Ardhuy. Their whole operation follows strict biodynamic principles, ensuring that their wines provide a true representation of their wonderful terroir. The Ladoix (£18.80), comes from vineyards near the Clos des Langres, located on the border between the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune. The wine possesses crisp acidity which tops the attractive, balanced red fruits, lending itself to provide an interesting partnership with the evening’s main course, beef bourguignon cooked in the traditional Burgundy style.
Staying with the biodynamic theme, the penultimate wine of the evening is, in our eyes, an unbelievable example of the quality that can be produced using minimal intervention. Tommy Ruff (£25), produced by Tom Shorrbrook in Australia’s Barossa Valley, in an unfiltered blend of Syrah and Mourvedre that is delightfully light when compared with the more powerful reds that arrive in the UK market from Oz. Served alongside the cheese course, the wine expresses Tom’s desire to let the land speak for itself, an ethos that we at l’Art du Vin certainly agree with!
To conclude the evening, our guests were treated to a caramel semifredo accompanied by a glass of Poire Granit cider, fashioned by renowned former sommelier Eric Bordelet on his Chateau de Hauteville estate in Normandy. It is, without question, a sublime expression of fruit from ancient trees that are over 300 years old. Eric’s production methods also follow biodynamic principles and the result is a Poire Granit that should be treated like a wine – possessing an edgy earthiness and terrific structure.
We have thoroughly enjoyed running ‘The Wine Restaurant’ and we are glad that so many of you chose to join us. If you have any comments or feedback from any of the evenings then please do not hesitate to get in touch. After the success of this project we hope to organise similar events throughout the course of the year – please keep an eye on our website for further details.
If you would like any further information about the wines tasted during the evening or have any feedback/queries regarding the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01383 873 510.
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