Palliser Estate CEO to lead our In-Store Tasting on Thursday 15 Sep 2016
Pip Goodwin is a hands-on CEO, lending a hand with the wine making and also leading on environmental standards - for which Palliser is at the cutting edge among New Zealand wine producers. Pip's energies also extend to regular keep-fit exercise and a love of dogs - which explains some of the wine names in their portfolio!
Palliser, based in Martinborough, is one of the leading twelve Family producers in New Zealand, these having linked up to maintain and enhance their own high standards. The tasting will cover the full range of Palliser's wines, from Pinot Gris and Riesling through Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay, then a selection of their Pinot Noirs. Please register early!
Ata Rangi, New Zealand's No 1 Pinot Noir - Winemaker, Helen Masters, visits Divine Fine Wines
The red carpet was rolled out on Thursday 2 October, for the 'Royal' visit of New Zealand's Queen of Pinot Noir. Helen Masters is Ata Rangi's winemaker in Martinborough - at the Southern tip of North Island. She talked us through a tasting of all five wines available in the UK. All reflected the vineyard's dedication to minimal intervention, both in the vineyard and in the winery. Helen stressed the importance of Martinborough's terroir, a marginal climate and challenging soils limiting yields to about a third of those in Marlborough. You can sense this in the wines, which show lovely concentration of flavour, plenty of minerality, but elegance, too. I've met many winemakers, but I learned far more from Helen than from others that I've met. It is not surprising, then, that Ata Rangi Martinborough Pinot Noir is the very best from New Zealand.
BOLLINGER TASTING THURSDAY 12 JUNE - OUR BEST TASTING EVER, IN TERMS OF THE QUALITY OF WINES.
Led by Carol Batten, guests were talked through a terrific set of wines which included Special Cuvee NV; Rose NV; Grande Annee 2004 Blanc and Grande Annee 2004 Rose. We then tried The Crossings Pinot Noir 2013 (medium bodied and well suited to the heat that evening) and Domaine Tournon Shiraz 2009 - Chapoutier (Victoria, Aus). Generous samples were accompanied by a selection of canapes, which helped to illustrate the versatility of the Champagnes, particularly the vintage ones - which work well/better with food. It was the first tasting where nobody at all said they disliked any of the wines. Our next tasting will be in September, allowing a rest for summer holidays.
Ch Musar - A Great Dish to complement A Great Wine
The cult Lebanese wine, Chateau Musar, is an exotic Bordeaux-type wine with cedar and cinnamon spice aromas. As with a good claret, you need the right food to fully enjoy this fabulous wine. Here is our tip for a classic accompaniment.......
Lamb Tagine is a Morrocan dish which combines rich and exotic flavours, with spices that do not overpower the palate. The slow cooking of a Tagine dish ensures tender meat with well integrated ingredients. The sweet dried fruits and the Middle Eastern spices are ideally suited to Chateau Musar, which has similar characteristics. Food & Wine are in harmony. Hit the link below to see Antony Worral-Thompson's great recipe. Lamb Tagine is his favourite dish, so you would expect this to be an exceptional recipe. It is!
BORDEAUX UGC TASTING - 20 May 2014, Somerset House
Each year, the UK wine trade gets the chance to taste the last 4 vintages of GCC wines from 13 prestigious Chateaux. This year, the line-up was 2010;2011;2012;2013. The Chateaux included Pontet Canet; Smith Haut Lafitte; Leoville Poyferre; Rauzan Segla; La Mondotte etc.
For me, it was my first chance to try the 2013 vintage, though I was not expecting a lot from such a difficult vintage. Sure enough, the 2013 Reds were typically the poorest of each Chateau's selection. Commonly light on structure and dilute with under-ripe fruit and bitter tannins. In several cases, the oak really over-powered the wine. I was unable to score any wines above 90pts, a rare experience for me, where Bordeaux GCC is concerned. The best 2013s were Gazin; Leoville Poyferre; Le Crock; La Mondotte. The most disappointing wine was Pontet Canet, tasting nothing like any previous vintage I've tried. Normally such a full-bodied, concentrated wine with big structure, this offering was a pale shadow of what it should be.
2012s showed well, almost always better than the 2011s. I'd suggest buying some 2012, as the vintage is showing better than many anticipated, so prices may start to rise. 2010 was always the best of each Chateau's reds, no surprise there. Price has always been an issue but, with current prices often 30-35% down on release prices, it is a good time to buy some of this vintage of a lifetime.
2011 VINTAGE PORT
RISING STARS: New Zealand; Chile & Argentina
For some time now, Divine Fine Wines has picked out New Zealand;Chile and Argentina as the main countries to watch in the New World. We are pleased to see that wine awards and trade figures appear to be confirming this.
Divine Fine Wines has always been a big fan of Kiwi wines, as we believe they exude high quality; distinctive expression; and elegance - and at affordable prices. They also place high emphasis on environmentally friendly methods, with minimal use of pesticides and chemicals - that is increasingly important in our minds.
New Zealand wine regions have growing conditions similar to those of the Loire and Burgundy, hence the success of their sauvignon blanc; chardonnay; and pinot noir wines.
Recent stars have included Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc - released in 2009 by the guy who started Cloudy Bay, Kevin Judd. My first score on UK releases was 91/100. Also, Wild Earth Pinot Noir from Central Otago - the 2007 won 5 trophies at DWWA & IWC. Palliser and Spy Valley continue at the top of the Tree, piling up yet more awards.
Chile is gaining ground fast in the UK, and only two countries get more mentions in the UK Press (France & Australia). The quality / price ratio is excellent. Our Chocalan and Casa Rivas wines are among the best in Chile at their modest price points. Los Vascos Grande Reserve shows what Chile can do when faced with the challenge of producing a Bordeaux look-alike. Owned by Rothschild, this wine excels at not much more than a tenner.
Argentina now joins Chile as great exponents of quality wines offering best value for money. We are massive fans of Catena. Owner, Nicolas Catena was (deservedly) Decanter Wine man of the Year in 2009. His flag-ship wine - Catena Zapata - has gained wonderful scores from R parker. 2005 98pts; 2006 97pts. But all the way down their range, you will find stunning value and wines that have elegance and purity.
So, we recommend that you watch New Zealand; Chile and (especially) Argentina over the next few years, and make an effort to try their wines.
SCREW CAP CLOSURES
Screw cap closures are increasingly replacing traditional corks, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. Do n't be fooled into thinking that a screw cap closure indicates a cheaper wine - you would be completely wrong. Other synthetic closures, such as plastic, are usually inferior and often indicate a lower quality wine. But screw caps are now being used by many of the best wineries in Australia and New Zealand - including the Worldwide-acclaimed Voyager and Palliser Estates, whose wines are among our best.
Read on for more information including pros and cons.
Screw cap closures have been introduced by many wineries in the last few years. This is to counteract the risks of cork taint. How much wine is spoiled by cork taint? Well, estimates vary greatly according to the winery and /or the person you talk to, anything from 3-10%. Our personal experience is that it is at the bottom end of that range.
There are varying degrees of cork taint. Whilst a badly corked wine will be obvious to most/all, some cork taint is only detected by wine lovers/experts with a particularly sharp nose/palate.
We believe that some white wines benefit from screw caps, particularly fresh, more acidic, vibrant wines which are designed more for early drinking. That includes Sauvignon Blanc. But many fine wines, say £8 plus, benefit from ageing in the bottle - particularly reds. This is thought to require a cork closure, as that allows in the tiny degree of oxygen that enables enzymes to work within the wine. So the jury is still out on whether screw caps have a net benefit for red wines requiring bottle-ageing. And we may never know the answer with real certainty, as it would require many years of cellaring the same wines in the two types of closure. We are not aware that any of the grand chateaux in Bordeaux are trialling closures in this way, so a preference for cork is likely to remain for fine red wine.
In the meantime, we should not forget that drinking wine is an occasion. For many of us, the traditional uncorking of a wine bottle, and the pop as the cork is drawn, is an important element of that sense of occasion.
Were you born in a good vintage?
Here’s a quick run down for those born in the Sixties. If you are older / younger, and would like to know, please get in touch and we will get back to you. Incidentally, 1955 and 1959 were both magnificent years.
Why not celebrate a big birthday / occasion with a special wine from that year?
As you will see below, the quality of each vintage can vary considerably, so it is important to have good advice, including that on choice of wine and its likely condition. If your year of birth was not a good vintage, then do not despair. Simply celebrate some other special occasion that coincides with a good vintage (e.g. your wedding or the birth of a child) !
1960 Bad weather wrecked the vintage in Bordeaux and Burgundy, and Champagne was unable to declare a vintage in this year. Port had a fine year - at it’s best now.
1961 Bordeaux and Rhone are better than Burgundy or Port. The ’61 clarets are among the best of the century. Champagne is probably past it’s best now.
1962 Good News! You can take your pick among wines from Bordeaux (good almost everywhere and superb in Sauternes).
1963 A great vintage for Port lovers, but largely a disaster elsewhere.
1964 Reds from Burgundy, the Rhône, and Bordeaux’s Right Bank were the stars. The Médoc also did well. If you love Port, Champagne or Sauternes, then you’re out of luck.
1965 Bad News! A wash-out in the Old World.
1966 Celebrate England’s World Cup win with this golden vintage ! Burgundy – both red and white – set benchmark standards, as did the Rhône. The Right and Left Banks of Bordeaux were also well above average, although Sauternes lets the side down a little (merely a good vintage). The icing on the cake is that 1966 was also a great year for vintage Port.
1967 Not a great year for dry wines. Try a really good bottle of Sauternes.
1968 Unfortunately, a poor year all-round. Why not celebrate the year of your wedding (or divorce!) instead.
1969 A terrible year in Bordeaux – but cheer up, if you’re a Burgundy lover, 69 was a bit of a treat, producing classic reds and whites.
Simple Wine Storage Tips
Wine storage is a science in itself, and yet many keen drinkers make fundamental mistakes. The following tips are just a basic guide, but may help you avoid a major disappointment when you open that special bottle that you've long been looking forward to.......
A stable. cool temperature - ideally 10c but no more than 15c if possible
Reasonable humidity - e.g.place a small bowl of water in the storage area
Store bottles on their side, to keep wine in contact with the cork
Keep the environment clean & free from strong smells, e.g. paints, white spirit, etc in the garage.
Long term storage of wines that are meant to be drunk young (most wines under say £6 are best drunk within a few months)
Storing bottles upright
Closeness to radiators or other sources of heat
Large variations in temperature
Vibration or excessive movement
A very dry or a very moist environment
Keeping wine in the kitchen
Why Red Wines benefit your Heart
Increasingly, medical opinion favours modest consumption of red wine, as an aid to maintaining a healthy heart. By "modest" we mean a glass or two a day, but please discuss with your doctor if in doubt.
Red wines contain Polyphenols, a natural constituent that helps to prevent heart disease. For many years this secret lay behind the “French Paradox” - the mystery of why the French population had a good record on heart disease, despite a high fat content in their national diet (particularly cheeses).
The high altitude of Catena’s vineyards, in Argentina, produces grapes that are very high in Polyphenols. Research by Professor Roger Corder (William Harvey Research Institute in London) shows that Catena Alta’s wines have Polyphenol levels of 10-11. This compares with typical levels of 5-7 for red wines from other parts of the World. White and Rose wines typically score less than 1.
A full range of Catena wines is available from Divine Fine Wines. If you do n't get as much exercise as you would like, and particularly if you smoke, then check out Catena Alta wines in the Connoisseurs Section.