All posts by HN Wines

Winemaker Profile: Florent Lançon, Domaine de la Solitude

Domaine de la Solitude belongs to one of the oldest families in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is packed full of history. Wines have been made on this estate for several hundred years, dating back to 1264 when the family arrived from Italy to serve the pope in Avignon. Here we take a look back to the very beginning of how the Domaine started and how current winemaker, Florent Lançon, is taking it forward.

Roman era
The site of Domaine Solitude was occupied as far back as the Gallo-Roman period, as evidenced by the presence of coins from the time.

1264
François Barberini, the first family member to arrive from Italy to the region, is born. He went on to spend time living in Provence as well as the region.

1400s
The Domaine Solitude family made Châteauneuf-du-Pape their home in the 15th century, making them one of the oldest families in the region.

1604
Jean Barberini changes his name to Barberin in order to sound more French. Later, his daughter marries vineyard owner Claude Martin and so the winemaking dynasty begins.

1623-1644
François’ ancestor, Maffeo Barberini, serves as the Pope in Rome under the name Urban VIII. Other family members go on to become Cardinals before settling in Avignon.

La Solitude labels today feature three hats, signifying the two bishops and a Pope in the family’s history.

Middle-Ages
Current wine labels exhibit a number of other links to the family’s history including three bees, a reference to the family in the Middle-Ages.

1815
Another of the family’s ancestors is awarded a medal by Napoleon after the Battle of Waterloo, the medal still features on labels today, giving another nod to the family’s history on current bottles.

1970s
Michel and Jean Lançon begin working at the Domaine under the guidance of their father, Pierre Lançon.

1980s
Following time working under Pierre’s expert instruction, Michel and Jean take over the management of the Domaine.

1999
Jean and Michel begin creating Prestige Cuvee wines to showcase the very best of the vineyards and region.

Today…

Florent Lançon, Michel’s son, now manages the day to day running of La Solitude. His focus is on a perfect balance of tradition and continuous improvement, and he is passionate about innovation. His range of wines includes both traditional styles and more modern interpretations. Careful attention is paid in the vineyard, where the harvest is carried out by hand, and only the best grapes are carefully selected. No fertilisers are used and the vineyards are farmed sustainably.

Florent also balances tradition and innovation in the winery, where tulip-shaped concrete tanks are now used alongside more familiar oak and stainless steel. He believes that using a blend of grapes creates a longer lived wine and expertly utilises the particular strengths of each grape variety to create wines with poise and complexity.

WOTM: Domaine Gouffier, ‘La Charmée’, Mercurey 2016

The festive season is just around the corner and what better wine to serve with a traditional meal than a classic red Burgundy, but with a twist. From the small village of Mercurey in the subregion of Côte Chalonnaise, this is a Pinot Noir with enough rich fruit flavour and texture to delight any table.

In a nutshell:

Great depth of flavour showing chunky plum fruits combined with coffee beans and a peppery finish.

The producer:

Domaine Gouffier owns five and a half hectares of vineyard in the villages of Fontaines and Mercurey in Côte Chalonnaise. The domain has been run by the Gouffier family for generations until Jerome Gouffier handed over the reins to his close friend Frédéric Gueugneau, formerly at La Chablisienne.

Since 2011, Frédéric and oenologist Benoît Pagot have brought about a new style of winemaking to the domain. They follow an organic philosophy to create wines that are modern, approachable and affordable, but with all the style and panache of good Burgundy. They have created a collection of wines of outstanding originality, verve and spirit.

The wine:

The grapes were hand-picked at optimum maturity and carefully selected in the cellar. 30% of the fruit was vinified as whole bunches as the stems help to stabilise the colour and impart structure to the wine. A cool maceration was followed by fermentation in barrels of 228 litres, one third of which was new. 15% of stems were put back into the fermentation barrels to support the fruit and impart structure to this fleshy wine.

Winemaker Frédéric uses oak judiciously, in order not to overpower the purity of the fruit. Domaine Gouffier has been experimenting with using oak from the state forests of Fontaine, just a few miles from the vines, endeavouring to stay true to the local terroir.

 

For further information on the Domaine Gouffier, ‘La Charmée’, Mercurey 2016 or any other Domaine Gouffier wines, please contact your account manager. 

Know Wine: Three months at Hallgarten

Internships are a fantastic way of getting a sneak peak into an industry that you are looking to get experience working in. This summer, at Hallgarten, we welcomed Amica Zago,  BA Wine Business student at Plumpton College to the team where she experienced all aspects of the organisation – here is what she thought:

“One tasting, one contact, one email and hey presto I got myself a summer internship at Hallgarten & Novum Wines.

“Wow…what an experience. Having an opportunity like this has helped me find my feet in the wine industry and helped me to understand the ins and outs of a business. Before this, I had never worked in an office or for a big company so that was an experience in itself.

“Luckily for me, I was also invited to help at tastings which I found an extremely useful tool for understanding a business through observing how a company sets up, displays and talks through their range. The wines at Hallgarten are all stunning, my favourites out of all the wines were definitely the Spanish Island wines, nevertheless all the wines I have tasted, I have adored!

“Although I did get to venture out a lot, more than I would have ever expected, my day to day tasks were office based. Researching prospects, competitor research and producing sell sheets were some of my main tasks over the three months. I also had the big task of checking out the financial side and margins the reps were working with.

“Not knowing before working at Hallgarten where in the industry my head was at, they allowed me to help in both the sales side and the marketing side of the business. I now know that both sides are areas where I would happily love to work! However, after spending several days out with the London Sales Reps, I have decided that sales is the job for me (well at least at the moment). It has been said that you are either made for sales or you aren’t; I suppose the only way to find that out is by giving it a go.”

Keep track on what Amica is up to in her journey through wine on her blog – KnowWine – or on Twitter and Instagram.

Steve Daniel: The Cape Crusader

Hallgarten Head Buyer, Steve Daniel, is somewhat of an expert when it comes to tasting and blending wines. Below is a snapshot from his recent trip to the Swartland region of South Africa.

I will not lie visiting South Africa is not a chore. It is one of the most beautiful wine producing countries.

April has now become the month for my annual visit to the Cape. The primary reason is to blend the wines we and several large wine merchants and retailers take from the Swartland Winery. I also use the five days to visit our other South African producers.

I arrived in Cape Town early on Sunday morning, tired and a little stiff after a 12 hour overnight journey in Economy Class. I picked up my car and drove the 90 minutes to Riebeek Kasteel in the heart of the Swartland. Riebeek was established in 1661 and is full of old world charm.

It is also home to many artists and the epicentre for the super trendy Swartland revolution winemakers.

I caught up on my sleep and was rested the following morning after my 90 second shower – there are very strict water restrictions in the region as it has been experiencing drought conditions for 3 years.  I then drove 30 minutes to Swartland Winery for an extensive tasting.

The Winery was set up as a co-op in 1948 and has been through many transformations to the present day. Today it is no longer a co-op but a winery, production unit and bottling plant . They make their own wines and bottle many of the entry level wines from the trendy small boutique Swartland producers. Swartland has access to over 3,600 hectares of vineyards so I was not surprised that my day’s wines consisted of 87 different samples of Chenin, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Pinotage, as well as the rest of the great and the good of the region’s wine grapes.

When confronted with so many samples you need to be ruthless and quickly taste them all and reject any that do not hit the required standard. You then taste through and pick out the superstar samples.

The superstar samples represent around 40 wines. This is an incredibly high number as I usually only select around 10% – it is a good year in the region. Minuscule yields due to the drought. I make our selections and blends for our wines and retire to Riebeek for a well earned dinner.

That night the heavens opened and it rained for the whole week. People in the Cape were very happy and I set off to Stellenbosch and my remaining visits.

WOTW: Kidonitsa White PGI Laconia, Monemvasia Estate, 2015

In a nutshell: Translates as ‘little quince’ from Greek displaying intense aromas and ripe quince characters, this is one of very few single varietal Kidonitsa around

The Producer: The appellation of origin Malvasia is referred to the Byzantine city of Monemvasia whose name was also given by the Franks to its wine. The vineyards were located at Dorieon Chora the region of the countryside of Epidavros Limiras which was a favourable environment for the vineyard cultivation. The mild coastal climate in combination with the terrain made up the exceptional features which gave a unique quality to the wines of Malvasia. This is where Malvasia was made prior to the 13th century when the local traders loaded it onto the ships from the port of Monemvasia. In the Byzantine era, the economy of fortified cities such as Monemvasia was based on trade. After the 14th century, these cities gained significant privileges and traded freely in all major trading centres.

The Wine: The grapes were carefully selected. The fermentation took place with selected yeasts, in stainless steel at low temperatures of between 14 to 16°C for a period of 15 to 20 days, preserving the quince aromatics of this variety and retaining the freshness of the style.

Tasting note: Elegant aromas of tropical fruits and quince, which follow through pleasantly on to the palate, crisp with excellent balance and a fairly long finish.

The Tandem Harvest Begins

Excitement is all around at Tandem as the 2016 harvest begins with the picking of Tempranillo from a plot in Maneru, where 27,000kg of beautiful and healthy grapes were picked on 4th October – 17 days later than in 2015.

The cool microclimate in Tandem means the grapes are always picked later in the year (as much as 4 weeks) than the vines in the South of Navarra, resulting in naturally occurring acidity that enhances the freshness and elegance of each wine.

The timing of this year’s harvest is ideal for the winery, with the slow ripening cycle adding to the acidity of the grapes.

The Tempranillo grapes and the must are now cool macerating and fermentation will shortly start with its natural yeasts.

LARRY CHERUBINO WINES SHINE

QANTAS EPIQURE HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION AWARDS
Halliday has spoken, and once again its excellent news for Western Australian wine, with Larry Cherubino Wines awarded Best Value Winery of the Year in the 2017 Qantas Epiqure Halliday Wine Companion Awards. Recognised as one of the Australian wine industry’s highest honours, Halliday’s Best Value Winery award recognises producers whose portfolio confidently displays that most holy of unions – outstanding wines and great value for money.
The 2017 guide features 35 wines from the Cherubino stable – 28 of which received the all-important ‘value’ rosette across Cherubino, Laissez Faire, The Yard, Pedestal and Ad Hoc. This is a superb endorsement of the drive for consistency that winemaker Larry Cherubino has made his mission. “To us, it’s part of what we represent, to make wines that people want to drink and in turn, keep them coming back” the winemaker says. “This award is great in demonstrating that what we are doing is not only valuable to our customers but also to the regions we grow and source our grapes from. This recognition drives me to keep pushing myself to grow better grapes and make the wines that we want to drink”.
After 25 years in the industry, Cherubino’s knack for achieving elegance and consistency across region, vintage and price point certainly isn’t going unnoticed. Having taken out Halliday’s Winery of the Year along with multiple awards and medals in recent years, this recent award reinforces the story of Cherubino. “Wine is constantly evolving. We are always learning and having to change and we will always work hard to make sure we continue to chase both quality and value’.
“First up, in 2011 [Cherubino’s] eponymous winery was honoured as Winery of the Year. Second, in 15 years he has traversed all the challenges and practices of the issues [of modern winemaking]. And he has done it in style.” – James Halliday, 2017 Halliday Wine Companion

AUSTRALIAN WINE COMPANION 2017 EDITION
2017 Best Value Winery – Larry Cherubino Wines
2013 Cherubino Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon – 97 points
2015 Cherubino Pemberton Sauvignon Blanc – 96 points
2015 Cherubino Margaret River Chardonnay – 96 points
2015 Laissez Faire Porongurup Riesling – 95 points
2015 Laissez Faire Frankland River Fiano – 94 points
2015 Laissez Faire Margaret River Field Blend – 94 points
2014 Laissez Faire Porongurup Pinot Noir – 90 points
2015 Pedestal Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc – 95 points
2014 Pedestal Margaret River Cabernet Merlot – 93 points
2014 The Yard Frankland River Acacia Shiraz – 94 points
2015 Ad Hoc Great Southern Wallflower Riesling – 94 points
2015 Ad Hoc Margaret River Straw Man Sauvignon Blanc Semillon – 95 points
2015 Ad Hoc Pemberton ‘Hen & Chicken’ Chardonnay – 92 points
2015 Ad Hoc Pemberton ‘Hen & Chicken’ Chardonnay – 92 points
2014 Ad Hoc Frankland River Avant Gardening Cabernet Malbec – 93 points
2014 Ad Hoc Frankland River Middle of Everywhere Shiraz – 94 points

WOTW: Bloemendal Suider-Terras Sauvignon Blanc, 2014

In A Nutshell: A modern classic, one of South Africa’s most-celebrated Sauvignons.

The Producer: Stunning, world-class Sauvignon Blanc has put the Bloemendal Wine Estate firmly on the map as a sought after producer among world wines. Situated in the heart of picturesque Durbanville just 30 minutes north of Cape Town, the 239 hectare Estate includes Kanonberg Mountain. This hilltop has amazing views of Table Mountain, False Bay, Stellenbosch, Swartland and beyond. It is here on the Southern Slope or ‘Suider-Terras’ where the vineyards are planted with French cultivars, predominantly Sauvignon Blanc.

The Wine: Three successive pickings from the fabled Suider Terras block stretching over a two week period, allowed for lots with both punchy aromatics and luscious texture. Fermented took place in a combination of 500 litre French oak and concrete tanks; the lots were blended in April and aged in barrel for ten months

Tasting Note: A vibrant golden hue with green core, the wine explodes with the characteristics of fynbos, chalk, limes and herbs. A robust wine built for serious ageing and development. Made for pairing with good food and will age between 7-10 yrs.

Winemaker Profile: Hamish Clark, Saint Clair

Saint Clair’s senior winemaker Hamish Clark has been at the winery for 13 years. The Zoology graduate worked his way up from the position of cellar hand in 2001 and is now a key member of the winemaking team. Here he shares his thoughts on Saint Clair, foie gras and conquering Everest.

Continue reading Winemaker Profile: Hamish Clark, Saint Clair

WOTW: Hiruzta Txakoli, 2015

In A Nutshell: A zippy, high-acid wine with great salinity and fruit. Difficult to pronounce but very easy to drink, especially with seafood.

The Producer: This northern Spanish producer makes exceptional wines from the Basque Country’s native Txakoli grape. The Rekalde Family are behind project and their aim is to restore the tradition of Txakoli production in Hondarribia (the town which lends its name to the grape variety with which Txakoli is produced. This tradition was lost in the 17th century and is now being restored. The first vineyards were planted in 2008, and the first wines were placed on the market in 2011.

The Wine: Txakoli is incredibly on trend, especially among sommeliers, and the wines are a perfect match for seafood and great by-the-glass offerings. “Txakoli is set to be the new Albarino!,” says Hallgarten buyer Steve Daniel, and he should know.

Tasting Note: Rich aromas of crisp apples, grapefruit and tropical pineapple are cloaked in an array of white flowers, all enhanced by the subtle effervescence of the natural carbonic gas. Balanced, fresh and mineral in the mouth, it has the slight characteristic of a pearl wine with well integrated acidity, hints of tropical fruits and a dry, salivating finish.