All posts by Ben Jackson

Comms & PR Manager. Food and wine enthusiast

Festive Wine

The festive period is one of the busiest in the on- and off-trade calendars, as businesses look to enhance the guest’s experience and create a memorable visit that will encourage return visits.

In a recent survey from guest experience management experts, HGEM, they discovered that during the Christmas period, 40% of guests like to try somewhere new that offers a unique menu. To help set yourself apart from the crowd we have come up with suggestions on what to pair with traditional festive dishes, from both the New and Old World wine producing regions.

As an aperitif:     

Berton Vineyard, Metal Label, Moscato Firzzante 2018

This wine is fresh, light and sweet with a subtle spritz that tickles the palate and aromas of fresh grapes and orange blossom.

Low in alcohol and perfect as an aperitif to ease guests into a festive banquet.

Champagne Collet Brut 1er Cru, Art Déco NV

A more traditional aperitif to serve guests, this is a broad style of Champagne with developed biscuit notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and salty finish.

Any leftover is also a perfect partner for a light game starter.

With a warming starter:

Larry Cherubino ‘Ad Hoc Hen and Chicken’ Chardonnay 2017

A complex wine with green apple, melon and citrus aromas enhanced by buttered brioche and a toasty nuttiness.

If you are serving a seafood starter, this is the ideal accompaniment.

Castello Pomino, Frescobaldi, Benefizio Bianco Riserva 2017

This barrique aged white wine is elegant and distinctive with a rich array of aromas and flavours such as apple, pineapple, citrus and honey.

Serve chilled to accompany meat starters, such as guinea fowl, chicken or wild mushrooms and white truffle.

To pair with a festive main course:

Doña Paula ‘Selección de Bodega’, Malbec 2015

Awarded 95 points by Tim Atkin, in his Argentina Special Report. This wine is big with balanced flavours of spicy blackberries, dark chocolate and wild herbs with an opulent and mouthfilling texture – elegant, rich and long.

Best alongside a piece of prime beef fillet, with a bit left over for the hard cheeses in the cheese course.

Château de Cîteaux, Philippe Bouzereau, Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru Les Duresses 2015

Beautiful Pinot Noir expression of ripe black fruits, peppery hints and a touch of violet on the nose. Silky, with rich but delicate fruit and a long finish.

When it comes to a traditional festive turkey dish, you don’t need to look beyond Pinot Noir from Burgundy, and this Premier Cur showcases a premium expression of the grape and the region.


To finish off the event:

Saint Clair, ‘Godfrey’s Creek’ Noble Riesling, Marlborough 2016

 A deliciously complex dessert wine, with a bouquet of poached apricot, candied citrus and white clover honey. Opulent and silky on the palate with rich orange, lemon and cocoa notes leading to a long, smooth finish.

This botrytised Riesling is ideally suited to a fruit-based dessert or blue cheese.

Barros 10 Year Old Tawny Port, Douro

Dried fruit aromas complemented by  delicate vanilla and chocolate notes

This is the multi-award winning fortified wine is the perfect partner to go with your Christmas pudding, its soft and silky texture and subtle nuances of wood are balanced by a refreshing palate which culminates with a long and elegant finish.

Winemaker profile: Dermot Sugrue

Acclaimed winemaker Dermot Sugrue is passionate about making great English sparkling wines.

Dermot’s passion for winemaking started as a teenager in Ireland, where he experimented with making beer and wine and was inspired to pursue oenology. Dermot’s enthusiasm for winemaking was further fuelled when he was given a copy of Hugh Johnson’s book; Vintage: The Story of Wine. He was so inspired reading it he can still recall whole paragraphs verbatim.

Having previously studied Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia Dermot decided to return to studying and completed a Viticulture and Oenology degree at Plumpton College. He then took this winemaking knowledge forward and gained crucial experience completing vintages in the UK and in Bordeaux at Châteaux including the prestigious Château Leoville-Barton, St Julien.

However, it was his next move that set Dermot on the path to his current success. He joined Nyetimber in 2003, became winemaker a year later and was instrumental in its rise to prominence, competing with the world’s best sparkling wines. A vintage at a Champagne house cemented his skill with fizz and was the final step before Dermot set up Wiston Estate with the Goring family.

Here, Dermot produces his own exciting wine, Sugrue, as well as many other excellent wines produced at Wiston. Dermot focuses on small plots of vines and employs huge attention to detail in both the vineyard and winery to create wines with character and precision. Storrington Priory was planted by Dermot in 2006. The vineyard benefits from the complexity of two soil types and an atypical orientation of the vines.

 

Dermot went on to purchase Mount Harry, a renowned vineyard site, and the two sites provide outstanding grapes for Dermot’s wine, ‘The Trouble with Dreams’, a complex, elegant and award-winning wines which is a culmination of Dermot’s vast winemaking experience and exceptional skill.

WOTM: Château de Rouillac Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2012

Autumn is upon us and winter is not far around the corner, our November wine of the month is an SWA Silver Medal winner, perfect winter warmer that wouldn’t look out of place served by a warming log fire with a plate of mature cheese or decanted at the table alongside the quintessential Sunday roast.

In a nutshell:

A concentrated, silky smooth wine with berried fruits enhanced by spicy notes of cloves and subtle truffle flavours. Long and elegant on the finish

The producer:

Based in Pessac Leognan on the left bank of Bordeaux, the elegant and noble Château de Rouillac is imbued with a historic past. In the 19th century Château de Rouillac was owned by Baron Haussmann, who produced a delicious wine which is said to have delighted Napoleon III. The current proprietor Laurent Cisneros and his family took up the reins of this magnificent property in 2009, passionately championing sustainable and environmental practices. The property has had a long association with horses and possesses beautiful stables; Titan their huge and impressive horse is still used today to plough the exceptional gravel soils in the vineyard. Renowned oenologist Eric Boissenot produces wines which are delicately blended with the utmost precision to reveal their optimum expression

The wine:

The grapes were manually harvested. Fermentation and maceration of the skins took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, lasting for 20 to 25 days. During vinification daily pump-overs and punching down of the cap took place in order to extract colour and tannins; and impart structure and flavour. 100% of the wine was
transferred to French oak barrels, one third of which was new and the wine underwent malolactic fermentation; two thirds of the wine were aged in barrels of one year.

Serving suggestion:

Grilled duck breast, roast beef or mature cheese. Decanting is recommended.

For further information on the Château de Rouillac Rouge, Pessac-Leognan 2012 or any other Château de Rouillac wines, please contact your account manager. 

Winemaker profile: Matías Riccitelli, Riccitelli Wines

What does the name Matías Riccitelli mean to us, Riccitelli Wines and the wine industry as a whole? We have taken a look at the great man and his back story in our latest Winemaker Profile.

Matías Riccitelli, owner and winemaker of Riccitelli Wines, was born in Cafayate, Salta, a village in Northern Argentina, famous for its wines.

After moving to Mendoza when he was a few years older, he began to study winemaking. The rest is history!

Time spent completing vintages in numerous countries honed Matías’ skills. Following this, he decided that Mendoza was the region for him and decided to focus on exploring the terroir of the region, working as Chief Winemaker for two leading Argentinian wineries.

It’s a family affair! Matías was mentored by his father, Jorge Riccitelli, the first Latin American to win Winemaker of the Year from Wine Enthusiast. Winemaking accolades run in the family with Matías winning Tim Atkin’s Young Winemaker of the Year in 2016.

A keen traveller, he considers himself something of a dreamer and is now fulfilling his dream as Chief Winemaker of his own boutique winery – Riccitelli Wines – which he began in 2009. His vineyards are spread over 50 hectares and three sites within the premium growing region of Lujan de Cuyo, as well as vines in Río Negro, Patagonia. His aim is to use grapes from the most prestigious regions in Argentina and make wines in his own unique style. Matías puts his huge creative energy into creating wines with freshness and vibrancy.

Semillon, Torrontes and Chardonnay are all part of Matías’ exciting range of wines; he is hugely passionate about Argentinian white wines and believes they can retain great freshness and acidity if the grapes come from well-located vineyards.

 

For more information on Riccitelli Wines, speak to your account manager.

WOTM: Domaine Brigitte Cerveau, Chablis 2016

Although the spring of 2016 in Chablis was cold and rainy with spring frost, and the summer experienced hail resulting in reduced yields, August brought warmer, dry weather which enabled the grapes to ripen, encouraging the the fruit to reach full maturity in September. The resulting wines of Domaine Brigitte Cerveau are of high quality, with lively and beautiful balance.

In a nutshell:

A wonderful balance between vibrant citrus and green apple fruit and the characteristic salty minerality. Crisp, dry and textured on the palate with a fresh, mouthwatering finish.

The producer:

In 1975, Jean-Pierre Ellevin established the current domain, which is situated in the village of Clichée, in the heart of the Chablis appellation and decided to specialise in the production of Chablis. Jean-Pierre is the fifth generation of the family to own and run the domain with expertise having been passed from father to son over the years. In the 1980’s Jean-Pierre married his wife, Brigitte Cerveau, also from a winemaking family with a history dating back to the French revolution.

Today, Jean-Pierre and Brigitte cultivate 16 hectares, which is exclusively Chardonnay. Together with their son Alexandre Ellevin, who heads up the winemaking, they are passionate about respecting tradition whilst producing excellent, aromatic wines, which are a true reflection of their origin.

The wine:

Traditional vinification techniques were used to produce this Chablis, while following a philosophy of minimal intervention. The grapes were fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks preserving the primary flavours and characteristics of the terroir. The wine was kept on its fine lees in order to achieve the perfect balance between fruit and a rounded texture. Unoaked in style, the wine was aged in stainless steel for 12 to 15 months.

Serving suggestion:

The classic pairing with oysters or creamy seafood dishes.

For further information on the Domaine Brigitte Cerveau, Chablis 2016 or any other Domaine Brigitte Cerveau wines, please contact your account manager. 

What’s Steve been drinking?

Hallgarten Head Buyer, the man with the amazing palate, Steve Daniel, has been sampling the delights of Santorini this month with the Gaia Wines, Santorini, ‘Wild Ferment’ Assyrtiko 2017 particularly catching his eye.

Gaia Wines, Santorini, ‘Wild Ferment’ Assyrtiko 2017

My desert island wine. In my opinion, the best wine produced on the stunning island of Santorini and one of the most exciting wines on the planet.

The wine is made from ancient (the oldest wines on earth), low yielding vines, from the high slopes of Pyrgos, Santorini.

The wine is only fermented using wild yeasts. 50% of the wine is fermented in new barrels a third of which are Acacia, with a small proportion fermented in Ceramic tanks and the balance in stainless steel.

Explosive, with layers of volcanic minerals, white flowers, lemon zest and a touch of roasted pineapple. This is the fruitiest wine Gaia has ever made on Santorini! It has energy and power in abundance, and an almost endless finish.

A truly stunning wine. Due to the diminishing vineyard area, increasing number of wineries on the island and a surge in popularity of these unique wines the price of grapes on the island has sky-rocketed. Five years ago a kilo of grapes cost €1 – an average price for the world. This year the price is €4.50 per kilo. The grapes are now some of the most expensive in the world, with only Champagne and Grand Cru Burgundies coming in more expensive.

So make the most of the Wild Ferment this year, as next vintage will reflect the new costs!

WOTM: Paringa Estate ‘Peninsula’, Mornington Peninsula, Shiraz 2016

In the words of James Halliday in the Wine Companion on the 97 point winning Paringa Estate ‘Peninsula’, Mornington Peninsula, Shiraz 2016; “Absolutely classic Paringa, one of the best – if not the best – of the early starters, with full-on cool climate Shiraz thrust. Likewise, classic blackberry, blood plum and liquorice flavours are supported by fine tannins and subtle oak.”

In a nutshell:

A subtle hint of violets laces the warm mint chocolate
and pepper core. A wonderfully enticing and silky cool
climate Shiraz.

The producer:

Located in the heart of Victoria’s beautiful Mornington Peninsula, Paringa Estate was founded in 1984 by Lindsay McCall when he purchased a derelict orchard. Lindsay’s passion and fascination with wine began in the mid 1970s and by the mid 1980s he decided to follow his dream by establishing Paringa Estate. The first vintage was in 1988 with just three tonnes of fruit and over the years it has grown considerably, with production now at 16,000 cases. Paringa Estate is one of the most highly awarded boutique wineries in Australia, regularly winning trophies for its Shiraz, Pinot Noir and
Chardonnay. The collection includes a stunning and precise Pinot Gris, as Lindsay says anywhere capable of growing great Pinot Noir should be capable of growing great Pinot Gris. The wines pay homage to Burgundy in style and James Halliday says Paringa Estate is “one of the best, if not the best, wineries on the Peninsula”.

The wine:

The berries were destemmed and 5% Viognier was co fermented in two tonne open stainless steel fermenters. This was followed by 11 months ageing in French oak barriques, of which approximately 10% were new.

Serving suggestion:

This works well with a Morrocan influenced tagine or a traditional shepherd’s pie.

 

For further information on the Paringa Estate, ‘Peninsula’ Shiraz 2016 or any other Paringa Estate wines, please contact your account manager. 

Winemaker profile: Elizma Visser, Olifantsberg

Elizma joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015 following extensive winemaking experience; studying Oenology and Viticulture in Stellenbosch and working in France and Italy, before returning home to South Africa.

Her time making wine in Europe proved to be an excellent springboard to go on and start creating elegant Rhône style wines of her own.

Elizma certainly has her work cut out, looking after all areas of the management of the vineyards and winery at Olifantsberg. In the vineyards, Elizma’s focus is on taking care of the soils and maintaining the quality and sustainability of the vines. Whereas her focus in the winery, is to get the best expression of the fruit using a variety of techniques.

Here are a few facts you may not have known about Elizma:

 

  • Wine is a family affair! Elizma is married to a fellow winemaker and they have two young sons
  • A music fan, she likes; Indie Rock, Alternative and Acoustic and would love to pick up learning the guitar again
  • It’s not just rock music that’s a hit with Elizma, she also enjoys collecting rocks
  • Before embarking on her current career Elizma had ambitions to learn Greek and study Philosophy but now it is her winemaking philosophy that is centre stage
  • Favourite quote: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their mind to be”
  • Elizma could have ended up on a very different road, if she hadn’t pursued wine, she would have liked to have become a professional rally driver and knows quite a bit about cars
  • Floristry is a big passion for Elizma. She hopes to own a flower shop one day… with a small wine bar inside of course. The Olifantsberg Blanc, with its floral notes, would surely make a great flower shop wine!

 

For more information on Elizma’s wines at Olifantsberg, contact your account manager.

Galicia’s Greatest – Xosé Lois Sebio

The team at Imbibe has cast its vote, with the help of industry-leading sommeliers, on Galicia’s greatest whites. After a rigorous blind tasting of 25 white wines, where the tasters were only aware of each wine’s variety, region and price, the panel came to their decision.

Firstly, Godello; wines that often provide value for money and food-friendliness, and some real points of interest for those who don’t mind a bit of hand-selling!

The panel’s TOP Godello: Xosé Lois Sebio, Máis Alá 2015

What did they say about it?

“This explodes on the palate. It’s an appley number, with lots of lees contact adding weight. Texturally, this is like silk bedsheets for your mouth,” Euan McColm, Beaverbrook.

“A lovely nose of peach and apricot; toasty, nutty flavours too, and more hazelnut and almond notes reflecting on the palate. Easy to sell to a white Burgundy drinker,” Stefano Barbarino, Chez Bruce Restaurant.

Next up, Albariño – wine thats ticks all the boxes; light, aromatic, refreshing and food-friendly, with growing customer recognition.

The panel’s TOP Albariño: Xosé Lois Sebio, O Con Albariño 2015, Rías Baixas

What did they say about it?

“This is rich and textured, with peaches and cream, and warm, woody notes that complement the bright orchard fruit. Leads to lots of salinity and freshness on the finish,” Andres Ituarte, Coq d’Argent.

“Like a lemon meringue pie, with zesty, salty butter. Super-creamy too – this really stands out in terms of quality, and I think restaurant guests would be happy to pay extra for it,” Alex Pitt, Typing Room.

 

Pitted against its peers in the UK, the wines from winemaker Xosé Lois Sebio have come out top in both categories! Xosé has produced a stunning eponymous collection of wines as a result of his personal quest: to find wines with unique personality from more risky processing zones and with a very marked identity. This original and quirky range is made from high quality grapes in areas which are often neglected or simply different; vineyards that are difficult to farm due to the high costs of conventional viticulture.

Away from fashions and conventions, the sole intention is to respect and express the soil, variety and area; producing wines with soul and personality. The wines are vinified with minimal intervention and low sulphur. These are collectable wines for lovers of the authentic and different.

For more information on the wines of  Xosé Lois Sebio, please speak to your account manager. To read the full tasting article on Imbibe – click here.

50 years of The Armagh

Certain names resonate strongly within Australian wine history and Jim Barry is one of them. It was Jim Barry’s drive that helped shape South Australia’s Clare Valley as a benchmark producer of world class Riesling, iconic Shiraz and cemented it as one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Here we take a look at the story of the Armagh vineyard.

 

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the planting of the iconic Armagh vineyard, a wine that has achieved extraordinary success and is regarded as one of Australia’s highest quality wines (check out Robert Parker’s point scores below).

 

The vineyard was named after the adjoining hamlet of Armagh, established by Irish settlers in 1849 and named after the lush rolling hills of their homeland. Jim Barry planted the 3.3 hectare vineyard in 1968 with Shiraz grapes.

 

20 years later South Australia had a glut of red wine – mainly Shiraz – and a Vine Pull Scheme was taking hold, however the Barry family decided the Armagh block of Shiraz should remain and become the icon red for Jim Barry Wines akin to Grange and Hill of Grace.

 

The vineyard is planted on its own roots on grey sandy abrasive topsoil over clay subsoil and receives an average rainfall of 600 millimetres per year. Such is The Armagh vineyards suitability that minimal intervention is needed to maintain yields below 4 tonnes per hectare, which produce rich and concentrated fruit of the rare quality required to produce wines with ageing potential.

 

The vineyard lies on a northwest facing slope which acts as a natural sun trap, ensuring the fruit is always fully ripened at harvest time, resulting in low-yielding vines that produce less than 27 hectolitres per hectare.

 

Awards

2013: 96 Pts; Robert Parker, 2016

2012: 98 Pts; Robert Parker, 2018

2010: 99 Pts; Robert Parker, 2016

2009: 96 Pts; Robert Parker, 2013

2008: 94 Pts; Robert Parker, 2013

2007: 96 Pts; Robert Parker, 2011

2006: 97 Pts; Robert Parker, 2016

2005: 96 Pts; Robert Parker, 2013

 

Speak to your account manager for more details of any of The Armagh wines in stock.

 

Fire in the booze!

From Santorini to Soave, some of the world’s most interesting and talked-about wines come from vineyards planted on volcanic soils. It comes as no surprise that there’s been an explosion of interest in these ‘volcanic’ wines from sommeliers and wine merchants alike.

So what singles out these wines among all the others? Certainly the mineral-rich nature of volcanic soils plays a massive part, as does the finite-availability of wines from such specific sites. It’s true that vines grown on plain old clay or limestone can be world-beating, but you can find these soils in every wine-growing region of the world.

The ‘wow factor’ and story of behind volcanic wines shouldn’t be overlooked either. These vines grown on ancient soils really do take terroir to the next level with their mineral characters, fresh acidity, salinity and distinct longevity. The sight of green shoots and leaves emerging from the black volcanic soil is as ethereal as its gets in the vineyard.

According to Jamie Goode in his book The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass, wines from volcanic soils are said to be riper, weightier, richer, and with texture and minerality that make them age worthy. Quite an attractive list of assets, but where do these characters come from?

Volcanic soils are rich in potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium, as well as other elements, which can contribute greatly to a wine’s mineral profile. Potassium-rich soils tend to produce wines with an almost almond-edged and savoury finish, while black volcanic soils enhance the citrus, peach and apricot aromas. They all enjoy a wonderful freshness.

Add to this the fact that volcanic rocks constitute high levels of macro-porosity in soils which allows water to be delivered to the roots of vines very slowly. This water-retaining property can be a lifesaver during a dry growing season when vines must rely on groundwater to survive.

The aspect of the volcano itself and the altitude at which many vineyards are planted also help to produce top quality fruit, as does the unflinching determination and attitude of generations of viticulturists who have risked eruptions to plant, tend and harvest vines. Simply put, these are very special sites, and they look awesome too.

Here’s a few volcanic suggestions from our portfolio.

Feudi di San Gregorio, Greco di Tufo, Campania, 2017:
“An aromatic and mineral wine showing flavours of peach, melon and citrus over a creamy texture.”

Ca’Rugate, Monte Fiorentine Soave Classico, Veneto, 2016:
“A beautifully layered wine with a rich flavour of ripe pineapple through to a fresh, mineral and lemon finish, full of flavour.”

Gaia Thalassitis Assyrtiko Santorini 2017:
“Explosive minerality with fresh lemon zest on the nose, crisp acidity on the palate and underlying floral notes. Refreshing with a crisp, mineral finish.”

Domaine Lavigne, Saumur Champigny Vieilles Vignes, Loire, 2016:
“A red Loire showing typical Cabernet Franc rhubarb and graphite character with a refreshing dryness on the finish.”

Chateau Grand Pré, Morgon, Beaujolais, 2016/2017:
“Rich, fleshy and balanced, with an appealing sauvage nose of green plums, chunky cherries and a hint of smokiness and spice.”

Basilisco, Teodosio Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata, 2014:
“A full bodied and concentrated wine with aromas of soft fruit, plum and Morello cherry. Well balanced through to a dry, lingering finish.”

I Scream, You Scream, What do you serve with ice cream?

The scorching hot UK summer has seen temperatures exceed 30C sending customers into bars and restaurants in search of ice cream, with some retailers reporting a sales increase of over 100 per cent compared to July 2017.

We’ve taken a closer look at a question hospitality venues are hearing more and more this summer – which wines you should pair with which flavours of ice cream?

Pistachio Ice Cream

Pair this Mediterranean classic ice cream with another classic – Cava. It’s made in the same style as a Champagne, without the slightly larger price tag. The Pinord, Cava ‘+ & + Seleccion’ Brut NV is ideally suited to this ice cream, named because the winemaker’s family that first tasted the wine always wanted a little bit more, and a little bit more, and a bit more… ‘More’ in Spanish is ‘plus’ – and so the name was born.

Blood Orange Sorbet

Moscato d’Asti is your match. Almost any sorbet tastes great with this bubbly, semi-sweet dessert wine – you could even pour the Moscato over the sorbet for a refreshing sorbet float. The Michele Chiarlo ‘Nivole’, Moscato d’Asti 2017 is the wine for the job here, with its floral aromas, which are seamlessly complemented by peach and apricot notes on the fragrant bouquet. The gently sparkling palate is delicate, light and creamy.

Strawberry Ice Cream

When serving a dessert with strawberry ice cream, we would always suggest recommending a glass of off-dry rosé, such as the New Hall Vineyards, Pinot Noir Rosé 2017 from Essex. The wine has notes of ripe cassis and wild raspberry on the finish, which is perfect for cutting the richness of ice cream.

 

Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla ice cream is a simple classic, so often overlooked, but it is also a blank canvas for whatever toppings you’d like to serve. If you are topping with nuts or chocolate, you can’t go wrong with the Barros 10 Year Old Tawny Port, with its soft and silky texture, and subtle nuances of wood which are balanced by a fresh acidity and impetus tannin.

 

Plain Greek Frozen Yogurt

The sour notes of plain Greek frozen yogurt pair perfectly with the similar tart flavour profile of a Santorini Vin Santo. The extended barrel aging of the Gaia Wines, Vin Santo, Santorini 2006 provides richness, as well as acidity, resulting in a wine that is deep honey in colour, complex and full-flavoured, with notes of toffee and caramel. For the ultimate pairing experience, serve with baked spiced apples or pears.

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Here’s where Australian Shiraz comes into its element. The rich, red raspberry fruits, chocolate nuances, and subtle eucalyptus notes are cross-complementary with a scoop of mint and chocolate ice cream. A wine that is perfectly suited to this task is the ‘Eight Uncles’, Barossa Valley, Shiraz 2015 from family run winery, Fox Gordon, which specialises in contemporary and premium wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide Hills.