Here at l’Art du Vin HQ, every Friday is Black Friday – that is, when we are indulging in a dark, inky glass of Malbec from Cahors.
Named ‘black wine’ in the Middle Ages, Malbec is now ubiquitous on restaurant wine lists, primarily due to the commercial success of those wines produced in Argentina. In fact, both France and Argentina produce very distinct styles of wine from the same grape variety, owing to the many differences in the growing conditions of each area.
Also known as Côt and Auxxerois in some areas, Malbec was first planted in Cahors by the Romans over 2000 years ago. Since then, local winemakers have produced robust, rich wines that are dark purple in colour and that have sufficient quality and structure to keep for many years.
Yet despite Cahors’ claims to be the home of Malbec, 70% of worldwide Malbec production now occurs in Argentina. There is a dramatic difference in taste between the two regions due to the fact that Malbec is a fantastic indicator of how terroir affects wine production. As a grape that is highly vulnerable to rot, frost and pests, it is widely considered that Malbec offers a true reflection of the climate in which it was cultivated.
Malbec in Mendoza
Mendoza is home to 70% of Argentina’s vines, the majority of which produce Malbec. Infrequent rainfall and soaring summer temperatures combine with the high altitude of this mountainous region and a huge temperature swing between day and night to produce grapes that display good levels of ripeness and acidity.
The resulting wines owe their fruit-driven nature to this increased level of exposure to this intense sunlight, producing robust wines with brambly black fruit notes, including black cherry and plum, and sweet floral nuances, such as violet flowers, along with hints of chocolate and tobacco.
Malbec in Cahors
In contrast, the overriding traits of the French Malbec are concentrated towards the leathery end of the red wine spectrum. Black plum is still often present, yet plays second fiddle to green savoury notes, as well as black pepper and spice. They also possess higher acidity that the wines of Mendoza, owing to the cooler climate of Cahors, and as a result, tend to age longer, developing notes of tobacco, coffee and meaty notes.
At l’Art du Vin, we are proud to work with a number of wonderful Malbec estates across both Argentine and French regions, including our ‘black wine’ producers at Châtea du Cèdre in Cahors.
Under the guidance of our friend Pascal Verhaeghe, the team at Château du Cèdre produces Malbec wines that are both fruity and possess the necessary composition to improve with age, a true expression of their exceptional terroir and perfect for your glass this ‘Black Friday’ weekend.
6 Bottle Malbec Case - £77.35
Shiraz/Malbec, Villa Vieja, Mendoza, Argentina 2014 - £8.80
Quinto Malbec, Riglos, Valle de Uco, Argentina 2012 - £17.90
Festivo Malbec, Bodegas Monteviejo, Valle de Uco, Argentina 2014 - £10.85
Cuvée Prestige, Château du Cèdre, Cahors, France 2010 - £19.85
Heritage du Cèdre, Château du Cèdre, Cahors, France 2012 - £11.75
Malbec Cedrus, Château du Cèdre, Cahors, France 2014 - £8.20
Yesterday saw the launch of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau,
an important date for many in the wine calendar. Produced from Gamay grapes, the wine is
fermented for only a matter of weeks before it is released for sale on the
third Thursday of November each year.
Originally, Beaujolais Nouveau was made to be enjoyed as a celebratory drink for workers at the end of the annual harvest. However, in the 1950s, a group of local producers spotted the potential for this young, drinkable wine to be marketed properly. This sparked the concept of a race to Paris with the new vintage, as restaurants and bars clamoured to be the first to list the wines each year. By the 1970s, this race had become international, with restaurants all over the world attempting to secure the wines as early as possible. Nowadays, it is shipped all over the world ahead of the release date, then displayed in local markets from the third Thursday in November.
Beaujolais Nouveau is light and youthful, bottled only 6-8 weeks following the harvest. Traditionally served slightly chilled, it displays very little tannins and is dominated by fruity flavours such as banana, grape, strawberry and fig. Due to the winemaking processes involved in the production of these wines, they show clearly defined variations between vintages. Therefore, the annual release of Beaujolais Nouveau is considered to be an early indicator of the quality of the harvest.
However, not all Beaujolais has to be enjoyed within months
of bottling. Appellations such as Fleurie produce wines of great quality that
can be aged for a couple of years before drinking. Likewise, the area of Moulin-à-Vent,
a small 2-mile-square area of land on granite soils, has the potential to
produce wines that, when fully mature, resemble more a fine Burgundy or even a Rhône,
We at l’Art du Vin think that Moulin-à-Vent is one of the regions worldwide which best vindicates the principle of ‘terroir’. Fleurie, which is the neighbouring appellation, produces velvety, perfumed wines which are extremely approachable. On the other hand, wines which are meatier, more intense and possessing heavier tannins are produced just a couple of miles along the road in Moulin-à-Vent, despite the fact that both styles are made using the same grape - 100% Gamay.
We are fortunate at l’Art du Vin to work with Yohan Lardy, an undoubted rising star of the French wine world. Having worked with his father, Lucien Lardy, for a number of years, we were aware of Yohan’s potential from a young age. He studied at viticultural college then travelled the world in order to gain as much winemaking experience as possible, most notably in the production of Pinot Noir in Oregon.
He then returned to work at his father’s estate in Beaujolais, before acquiring his own small plot of land, comprising only 2 hectares, in Moulin-à-Vent. He ferments his grapes using wild yeasts, then ages the wine for 8 months in 2-3 year old barriques. The result is stunning; a wine that we believe would not be out of place in a Côte de Beaune tasting.
Beaujolais Nouveau, Marcel Lapierre, Beaujolais 2015 - £13.85
Moulin-à-Vent ‘Les Michelons’, Domaine Lardy, Beaujolais 2013 - £17.30
( http://www.aduv.co.uk/store/product/3_by-country/67_france/10_beaujolais/733_moulin-a-vent-les-michelons-domaine-lardy-2013/ )
The Rugby World Cup has been the talk of the office for the
last 6 weeks and as this weekend sees the competition draw to a close, we
thought it appropriate to host our own short awards ceremony celebrating the
top moments of this year’s event.
Team of the tournament - New Zealand
Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc ‘Black Edition’, Marlborough, New Zealand 2012 - £24.85
While the competition will ultimately be decided on Saturday, there is no doubt that in the past few weeks the team from the land of the long white cloud have looked supremely dominant. A potent mix of pace, power and unbelievable skills, it will take a mighty performance from Australia to prevent the All Blacks winning back-to-back trophies.
Much like the New Zealand team, this range from the team at Little Beauty comes clad in All Black.
The ‘Black Edition’ is produced using only the best grapes on the Little Beauty
Marlborough estate. The wines are then aged carefully in French oak in order to
add extra weight and depth, giving them an added dimension compared to the
other Little Beauty vintages. This Sauvignon Blanc is produced from a single vineyard
in the Waihopai Valley, drawing fruit from three carefully identified parcels.
The final result is a complex wine that offers something different from a
standard Sauvignon Blanc. The fact it is fermented with 100% wild yeast in
French Oak tapers the sharp acidity that is often associated with this variety;
the Black Edition instead carries a creamy, mellow texture.
Surprise of the tournament – Japan
Honjozo Sake, Akashi-Tai 30cl - £9.45
Shiraume Umeshu (Plum-Infused), Akashi-Tai 50cl - £19.30
There is no question who the outstanding underdogs of this tournament have been. Japan caused arguably the biggest World Cup upset in history when they defeated South Africa in their opening tie. Much to everyone’s surprise, they managed to maintain that form to record another 2 victories as they became the first side in history to win three matches and still fail to qualify for the knockout stages. The 2019 World Cup will be staged in Japan and on this evidence the Cherry Blossoms may well be a force to be reckoned with.
As wine merchants, many would be surprised by the fact we have a Japanese section to our portfolio. However, when we first came across the produce of Akashi-Tai Sake Brewery, we knew we wanted to get involved. Akashi-Tai is a boutique sake producer based in Akashi City, a fishing town in western Japan. The brewery has been producing premium Sake and Umeshu for over 150 years under the ownership of the Yonezawa family
themselves on maintaining a handcrafted approach to creating the finest
Japanese sake. While protecting these
traditional methods, the Yonezawas are also exploring new ideas and innovative
flavours, such as their distinctive brown rice sake and plum-infused Umeshu.
The Sakes are versatile, providing fantastic pairings with a variety of
different dishes – not only those that are Asian influenced.
Most Improved team - Argentina
Quinto Malbec, Riglos, Valle de Uco, Argentina 2012 - £17.90
Since their move to join the Tri-Nations (the Southern Hemispheres equivalent of the Six Nations) in 2012 and expand the competition to four teams, Argentina have steadily improved, to the extent they are now one of the most dynamic and exciting teams on the world scene. Their destruction of Ireland showcased their combination of vibrancy in attack and robust forward play, attributes that in many ways are shared by the wines from our friends at Riglos Estate in Tupungato.
A fairly new venture,
headed by a combination of businessmen and oenology experts, the team at Riglos
produce unbelievably complex wines, particularly considering that the majority
of their vines are still under 10 years old. The combination of intense fruit
concentration and an under-stated quality is impossible to ignore and it is
unsurprising that these wines are quickly gaining recognition as being among
the best from the region.
Biggest Individual Impact - Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Badenhorst, Swartland, South Africa 2014 - £11.00
Joubert shot to infamy on these shores following his decision to award a contentious penalty against Scotland in their nail-biting quarter final defeat to Australia. The situation became more complicated in the aftermath of the game, as World Rugby announced that he had indeed made a mistake and that, had he applied the rules correctly, Scotland would have taken their place in the penultimate round of the competition.
In light of Joubert’s actions, we thought we would direct you towards something else from South Africa that bends the rules slightly…
Hein and Adi Badenhorst, the cousins who front up affairs for the team at AA Badenhorst wines, are very much at the forefront of the ‘New Wave South Africa’ movement that is sweeping across the country. Founded in 2007, this Swartland operation utilises modern winemaking techniques that allow them to experiment with the wonderful terroir that surrounds them.
They particularly push the boundaries with their ‘Papegaai’ cuvee, a blend of Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Marsanne. In our eyes their wines represent all that is good about “New Wave South Africa”, as winemakers are increasingly willing to stray from the conventional and experiment with their terroirs.
As the nights begin to close in, Christmas preparations are well underway at l’Art du Vin HQ, to ensure that we are in the best possible position to support our customers as they enter the hectic festive period.
While the bulk of our customers are from the on-trade sector, we are keen to highlight that our support network also extends to you, our loyal private customers.
Over recent years we have worked with an increasing amount of corporate clients throughout the winter months, sourcing and distributing gifts across the country, as well as facilitating wine events at office Christmas events and staff days out.
If you think that our services could be of use to your business or organisation then please do not hesitate to get in touch by sending a message to; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please find below the details of a number of wines from our portfolio that tend to be particularly popular over the festive period.
And of course, should your personal cellar need topping up as autumn turns to winter then please visit our website or give us a call.
The l’Art du Vin team
The Cannonberg Project Package - £15.30
1 x Cannonberg Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa 2015 - £7.10
1 x Cannonberg Cabernet Sauvignon, Western Cape, South Africa 2013 - £8.20
Package - £29.45
1 x Fleurie Vieilles Vignes 'Le Vivier', Domaine Lardy, Beaujolais, France 2014 - £13.65
1 x Pouilly Fumé Jonathan et Didier Pabiot, Loire, France 2014 - £15.80
Brut Tradition, Champagne Janisson et Fils, Champagne, France NV - £29.90
Rioja Reserva, Bodegas Altanza, Rioja, Spain 2008 - £35.90
These magnums from our friends at Bodegas Altanza arrive in an elegant presentation case, making them the perfect festive gift (check out our twitter @LArtduVin1 for pictorial evidence)!
In the latest instalment from our recent trip to the Loire Valley, we speak with Vincent Gaudry, one of our key producers in the appellation of Sancerre. Known for his eccentricity, Vincent is a firm believer in the principles of biodynamics – to the extent that he has erected standing stones in his vineyard in an attempt to channel more energy to his vines.
A truly engaging character, Vincent talked at length about the ways in which biodynamics can help produce wines of a higher quality, while simultaneously preserving the health of the land for the benefit of future generations. Below are a selection of extracts from our conversation which we hope will give you an insight into the work of this enigmatic winemaker.
Your wines are all biodynamic, why are these principles important to you?
“In truth, my wines are beyond biodynamic. The biodynamic movement has become like a political party with rules and regulations. My wines are all about energy, relationships, attraction and gut instincts.”
Does that mean you refuse to use any modern winemaking techniques?
“Modern winemaking techniques are important but we must also learn from past generations. The most important lesson we must learn from them is to respect the land. They gave us the land, therefore we must also hand over the land in good condition to future generations.”
“Nowadays, we are too educated and too sophisticated yet simultaneously we are now so superficial. We need to regain control of all our primary instincts and senses. We have the same senses as animals but they use them properly and we don’t.
Do wines continue to react with their environment once they are bottled?
“Why, of course they do. For example, my wines are tasting well just now. Why? Because it is the harvest. The sap is up in the vines. Yes, people ask why should this make a difference as the wine is in the bottle and the vines are in the vineyard. But I answer that my wines are alive. They react with all the different energies that are around them.”
How would you say that this energy materialises in bottled wine?
“Only 20% of Sancerre has flint based soils. Those of us lucky enough to have some are really envied. It brings a real vibrancy and energy to the soil that translates into the wine. If you opened a bottle of 20 year old Sancerre from flint soils it would contain the same fruit vibrancy as a typical Sancerre of 5-10 years old.”
“Sun exposure makes no difference to me. I only really care about drainage. Anywhere with good drainage can produce good wine possessing lots of energy, regardless of whether the vines face to the north or south.
Are there any issues that you believe will challenge Sancerre producers in the near future?
“The issue that we have in Sancerre is that people are good salesmen first, then are good winemakers. They admit that the wine market in Sancerre is good at the moment and that, if it were to dip, they would opt to sell something else instead. The lack of passion that they demonstrate frustrates me.”
Sancerre Blanc 'Tournebride' Domaine Vincent Gaudry 2014 - £18.25
“A big Sancerre with depth and width, packed with lemon, grapefruit and asparagus notes. A long, juicy mineral finish.”
Sancerre Blanc Constellation du Scorpion Domaine Vincent Gaudry 2013 - £21.15
“Half of the wine's vinification has taken place in oak (20% new). The wine is generous and satisfying, with a lovely mineral structure and elegant spiciness from its light oak. Ideal with rich white meat dishes or matured cheese.”
Sancerre Rouge 'Vincengetorix' Domaine Vincent Gaudry 2013 - £19.50
“A lot of structure for a red Sancerre that is more reminiscent of Côtes de Beaune Pinot Noir. Delicious cherry jam and pain grillé characters, with a spicy and mineral finish.”
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