Old Vines Celebrated
Credit: Jancis Robinson
|Dear wine lover |
We are having a ball reading the 136 entries in our 2021 wine writing competition (WWC21) and are hugely impressed by the general standard of writing about old vines. Nick, making a good recovery from his gut surgery, has been recruited to help us decide which ones to publish over the next few weeks, the process being hugely stimulating but usefully sedentary. On Tuesday we published a first report on the response to our writing competition.
Yesterday we published a pretty gloomy report on Burgundy 2021 so far, written by Burgundy expert Anthony Hanson MW, who has just come back from several weeks spent there, where summer has been exceptionally slow to arrive.
On Monday I published a very long-overdue set of tasting notes and updates on the glamorous properties owned by the French Pinault family’s wine arm, Artémis Domaines.They include, inter alia, Ch Latour, Clos de Tart, Ch Grillet and Eisele Vineyard in Napa Valley. The tasting on which my article was based took place just before the pandemic struck last year, and was designed to herald the launch of Ch Latour 2012, the first vintage to be released as part of Latour’s innovative plan to withdraw from the en primeur circus. The jury is still out on whether this brave move is profitable or foolish as (a) it’s too early to judge and (b) everything last year was exceptional.
But it was Thorman Hunt’s tasting of top California wines reported on later in the week that reminded me I still had some unpublished notes on the excellent wines of Eisele, the estate that used to be known by the name of the previous owners, Araujo. Elaine wrote a fine profile of it under new French management back in 2017. This week’s California line-up includes stalwarts such as Harlan Estate, Shafer and Turley as well as some exciting new names.
Our esteemed Spanish specialist Ferran Centelles profiled the Garnachas of Navarra on Tuesday. The region’s signature grape, for long rather despised, is enjoying its moment in the sun (for evidence, just put ‘Garnacha’ in our search box) and so Ferran went off to explore how it is doing this far north.
Yesterday I allowed myself to be wooed back to the charms of Sauvignon Blanc with a tasting mainly of cutting-edge Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, appellations I have been guilty of rather taking for granted. And in today’s tasting article, Andy Howard MW assesses whether the M&S buying team, to which he used to belong, has its mojo back. I was particularly fascinated by Max Allen’s column on Monday, about Australia’s swerve back to cork after its complete espousal of the screwcap. Read about the reasons for this.
From corks to bottles, with my Saturday article about the extent to which empty bottles are being shipped around the world (most of America’s wine bottles now come from China) and, yet again, my whinge about unnecessarily heavy bottles and their impact on wine’s carbon footprint. Also on Saturday, Nick managed to summon the energy to write about three veteran restaurant critics in the UK. We continued our series on applicants for Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships with a profile of Jai Singh, whose wine journey has taken him from India to London to Italy and who wants to open a wine school and winery back home in India. And today’s wine of the week is a superb sherry chosen by Richard. Santé!
Dom Georges Vernay, Coteau de Vernon 2018 Condrie
A white wine that is sure to warm a white-wine drinker during the winter. Condrieu is arguably the northern Rhône’s most distinctive wine appellation. It offers deep flavours of apricot and blossom but it’s also avoury, with tension that may well be granite-influenced.
Serve it with deserving food.
Jancis Robinson Nov. 13, 2020
Dear wine lover
What a busy week!
We followed up last week’s 16 videos with 18 more, one from each of our shortlisted sustainable wine producers, comprising another trip around the world like last week’s collection of short films from each of our editorial team. To find any video, just click on the new Videos link on our horizontal menu along the top of any page of JancisRobinson.com. All of these free videos, by the way, are designed to celebrate our 20th anniversary this month.
One thing I did this week was update our Where to find us section. For the last few months it has said simply, ‘mainly at home, possibly until vaccinated’ but I thought I should add the various online events I have agreed to participate in and was rather surprised to see there are so many of them. One is particularly appropriate in view of our sustainability theme. One of the external judges in our 2020 writing competition, Tobias Webb of www.sustainablewine.co.uk, is organising theFuture of Wine Forum2020 on 26 and 27 November. It’s free to join; just sign up at www.futurewineforum.com. Participants include me and more than 50 other speakers, including CEOs of some of the world’s biggest wine companies and some of the smaller sustainable wine producers too. Questions are welcome; issues could hardly be more important.
Probably the most significant addition to the site this week – though I say it myself – was my series of four articles on burgundy 2019s, an overview and three sets of tasting notes grouped alphabetically by producer. There has been very little coverage of the latest vintage so far, certainly very few tasting notes, so I hope that you find my observations useful. The good news is that although the smartest burgundies are nowadays unthinkably expensive, I found many delicious 2019s from much more affordable appellations. See some specific recommendations a week tomorrow. We also published the start of a guide to our coverage of 2019 burgundy but there is much more to add to judge from the roster of tastings in London. We plan to add a tasting article for each of these tastings to supplement my tasting notes taken at 23 of the finest domaines. This week’s picture is the view from our bathroom in Morey-St-Denis last month up towards its (unaffordable) grands crus.
The only other tasting article was a survey of wines from Brooks of Oregon, to go with the first of our sustainable producer videos, which is presented by Pascal Brooks, co-winner of this year’s writing competition.
On Saturday I outlined the Grenache/Garnacha revolution and even suggested that some examples would make less-expensive alternatives to red burgundy, heretical as that may seem. Nick considered from the hospitality industry’s point of view the second lockdown so many of us in Europe are currently experiencing.
We published two vintage reports, Douro 2020 and Minervois 2020, and republished Sarah Phillips’ look at the Virginia wine scene since the nearby White House is still not far from our thoughts. And the article that fascinated me most this week is Matthew Hayes’ hard-hitting insider look at the world of fine-wine trading, a response to last week’s encomium to investing in burgundy from Ian Mill QC.
Today it’s all Tam: the next collection of her incisive and unrivalled book reviews, this week’s theme being politics and piety, and her wine of the week, a completely delicious madeira.
Burgundy – Filling In
Dear Wine Lover,
Nick and I are currently in a rather rainy Burgundy, masks and hand sanitizer at the ready, with me getting a fix on the 2019 vintage to be offered early next year, hoping this may be particularly useful to wine lovers. Frédéric Lafarge always kindly constructs the temporary ‘desk’ pictured here for me and my laptop. All the producers I have encountered so far report that their diaries are unusually empty, with practically no visitors from either Asia or America and not many Europeans during what is usually the region’s busiest time for tastings. A 2021 version of London’s annual Burgundy Week in January, with its plethora of tastings in tightly packed rooms, looks highly uncertain.
We will of course, as UK citizens returning from France, have to quarantine ourselves for 14 days when we get back. Thank goodness for our children, all of whom live quite close to us in London and have a fine record of ensuring their parents don’t starve.
JancisRobinson.com this week was dominated by German wine and Champagne. Our German specialist Michael Schmidt shared his tasting notes on this year’s Grosse Gewächse with some revealing observations on the styles he encountered in Wiesbaden. Mosel and Nahe on Monday and Rheingau and Rheinhessen today. On Saturday I wondered whether the 2019 German vintage might not represent a breakthrough for dry German Rieslings.
Tim Hall of Scala Wine has provided us with a three-part, detailed survey of the current febrile situation in Champagne: first the battle between growers and houses over controlling yields in a shrinking market; then how this plays out financially, including the dominant role of the Moët group; and finally, a detailed look at the COVID-affected 2020 vintage.
Sam Cole-Johnson reported from Napa under fire – although the good news is that the predicted hot, dry winds did not in fact eventuate and things are now a little cooler and damper there, as both Alder and Elaine confirmed in our Members’ forum.
Ferran Centelles presented a great report on the special qualities of the Montilla-Moriles region and its wines – so often, wrongly, viewed as simply an adjunct to sherry. Tam reported in great detail on the Hungarian Eger region, which produces so much more than Bull’s Blood. And I shared a review of an array of truly exciting wines from South Africa.
Nick contributed two articles this week: one, as suggested by Purple Pager Andrew McKinna, a review of his 20 best restaurant experiences (a foretaste of our 20th-anniversary celebrations); and a howl of pain on behalf of the UK hospitality industry over the current 10 pm curfew.
Tam has chosen today’s wine of the week, a red from the Greek island of Santorini, inspired by Jonathan Reeve’s recent trip there, which gave rise to this photo-report.
Ossian, Quintaluna 2015 Castilla y Leon (Spain)
Made from 100% Verdejo grapes, this fresh, zesty, lemon and grapefruit-scented white wine is a delicious and great-value introduction to the Verdejo-obsessed wines.
Sandhi Chardonnay 2012 St. Rita Hills
New-wave cool Californian with flavours of stone fruit and real substance.There is more than a hint of burgundy in this, and it gets better and better towards the finish. It has great intensity for the alcohol level and not a hint of sweetness. It is a great white for winter!
Dear Wine Lover
|Dear wine lover
We pride ourselves on taking German wine more seriously than any other non-specialist wine website and this week was no exception. Our German specialist Michael Schmidt, who lives in the Ahr Valley, delivered the first of his three reports on his intensive tasting of Grosse Gewächse at this year’s showing in Wiesbaden – this week GG Weiss- and Spätburgunders. Once the other two are published next week, we’ll have published Michael’s detailed tasting notes on 240 of these GGs – mainly 2018 dry whites and 2017 reds. Many of these represent fabulous value compared with their non-German peers, particularly red and white burgundies.
And then don’t forget that way back in April Julia treated us to a preview of the 2018 GGs from the hugely respected Keller of Rheinhessen. Just after last week’s email went out on Friday, we published Michael’s report of this year’s Nahe auction results, in which Keller wines, once again, reached incredible heights.
We published perhaps our longest article ever, all the entries on brandy from the second edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine, which we were forced to omit from the third edition for reasons of space. An attentive Purple Pages member with a particularly long memory reminded me – 13 years afterwards – that I had promised to publish them on JancisRobinson.com.
Samantha Cole-Johnson continued to share the secrets of winemaking and the 2019 Oregon harvest from her position as an intern in a Willamette Valley winery. There is so much topical information there, and interesting images, that we republished it free yesterday.
Nick interviewed the popular Christine Parkinson on her first day of leisure after 18 years of guiding the drinks offerings at the Hakkasan group of restaurants all over the world. Her wise words on sommeliers and the evolution of taste in alcoholic drinks are well worth reading. Also on Saturday I published my thoughts on the state of rosé champagne, while my fellow Master of Wine Charles Curtis contributed an overview of the US champagne market after this year’s MW champagne tasting in America. I contributed one of those articles that will make many people sick, a description of two quite amazing dinners I was treated to in the space of three nights recently, in Mouton and Pol – perks of the job. I took this picture at Mouton’s extravaganza at the Palace of Versailles. Slightly more down to earth was my account of a presentation of wines by Australians Andrew Caillard MW and Mike Bennie chosen to represent likely future icons of Australia.
I also wrote about a new annual award for the ‘world’s best vineyards‘. I’m a little sceptical about the enterprise but was delighted to find that those given first and second position in the inaugural awards, Zuccardi of Argentina and Garzón of Uruguay, happened to be kindly supplying wine for last night’s London wine gala for the global literacy charity Room to Read. My World Atlas of Wine co-author Hugh Johnson attended, to celebrate our UK publication day (Tuesday saw it published in the US), and donated a bottle of his Tokaji Essencia 1993 for the auction. Also at our table was Guillaume d’Angerville of Volnay, who was inspired to donate his top Jura Chardonnay from Domaine du Pélican for us all to drink with a Central Coast Chardonnay from Raj Parr because of his faith in the curative powers of reading.
Today has a strong Australian accent. We offer up Julia’s detailed report on some top Clare Valley Rieslings (a riposte to Michael?) and Richard’s wine of the week, an Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir that withstood blind comparison with some other fine Pinots, including some from Burgundy. We wish you many great wine discoveries,
Sigalas Assyrtiko 2018 Santorini
Delivering a haze of grapefruit, the Sigalas Assyrtiko 2018 Santorini is neither sweet nor bitter. It has breadth and power but doesn’t dominate the palate. Despite an alcohol con-tent of 14%, this wine delivers a flavor that is both graceful and balanced. Pair with shellfish, crab or lobster for a full experience.
Allegrini 2018 Valpolicella
“Deliciously, shiny-red, pure, unaffected red fruit-mouth-watering freshness,” is the only way to describe the Allegrini 2018 Valpolicella. The signature high acidity and relatively low tannins of this wine are balanced with a tart cherry fruit, making this an ideal wine for quick everyday meals including pasta and chicken.
Credit: Jancis Robinson