Category Archives: Italy

“I don’t want to ever leave Italy”

Hallgarten Marketing Coordinator, Charli Truelove, recently took to the road with Sales Manager, Phil Brodie in the Midlands team, and a group of his customers to experience the culture, cuisine and of course the wine in Emilia Romagna with the team from Cevico.

 

Day one we arrived in Bologna, the home of Bolognese, and were greeted by Alida Sangiorgi, Marketing Manager at Cevico, and our bus driver, Mauro, who took us to our first stop – an incredible visit and lunch, cooked by Chef Paola Cucchi,  at Tenuta La Massellina,  in the Castelbolognese commune of Emillia Romagna. The estate is owned by one of our most important partners, Cevico, and is the source of some of the Emilia-Romagna wines in our portfolio.

Here we were joined by more of the Cevico team who shared so much knowledge with us over the coming days; Cristina Melandri, our guide from the Cevico team and Alberto Medici, co-owner of the family run Medici Ermete.

After the already action-packed first morning and lunch, we took to the road once again to visit Basilica San Vitale one of the most important surviving examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. The walking tour unveiled of some of Ravenna’s historical monuments including Dante’s Tomb.

To finish the day, more food followed – it’s true what they say about how fantastic the cuisine is in this part of the world! A spectacular 7 course dinner awaited at Furfanti with the Cevico team. Both the food and wine were both unsurprisingly incredible… I am already thinking; “I don’t want to ever leave Italy.”

Day two, we drove along the coast to Rimini to visit Le Rocche Malatestiane, which takes its name from one of Rimini’s oldest noble families, the Malatesta family. We were given a tour by our guides, Elena Piva and Enrico Salvatori, where we were shown and told about its fermentation tanks, grape drying process and barrel cellar, followed by a wine tasting of three whites and three reds each more moreish than the last. Including the Antica Marineria Bianco, an oaked-aged white wine made from 100% Sangiovese. We talked everything from soils, fermentation, ageing and grape varieties – a very interesting tasting and visit.

Following this busy morning, we stopped for lunch at Trattoria Zaghini Santarcangelo where we were treated to a divine array of foods, and probably the best pasta I have even eaten (the wine was pretty good too), all set in a beautiful traditional Italian restaurant surrounding.

We were well in need of a walk after such an indulgent lunch, so stopped off at Santarcangelo, a medieval town 10km north of Rimini which had the atmosphere of a large village rather than a town.

The final evening of our trip of course involved more fantastic cuisine, with dinner on the canal at a seafood restaurant, Cesenatico. Alberto Medici toasted the evening with his Lambrusco – Medici Ermete ‘La Favorita’ Rosso Secco, Lambrusco NV – a chilled sparkling red, nothing like I have tried before, filled with an abundance red fruit flavours with a delicate finish. A truly spectacular wine!

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.

 

Island Hopping Wines

With  the UK enjoying Mediterranean style weather and many predicting a vintage year for English wine, we have taken a closer look at some of the sunny island wines you can serve here.

From the popular holiday destinations of Mallorca and Tenerife, to the picturesque and idyllic Santorini, to the lesser known island of  Brač off Croatia, there is plenty to tantalise taste buds.

From Mallorca… Bodega Biniagual, ‘Memories Negre’ 2013

Located in the heart of Binissalem, the small village of Biniagual was renowned for its wine production until the phylloxera plague destroyed most of the vines at the beginning of the 20th century.

“An approachable red with bright aromas of wild red berried fruits combined with a subtle hint of spice. Showing a beautifully balanced structure, soft and smooth with plenty of vibrant fruit and a satisfying finish. ”

From Brač, Croatia… Jako Vino, Stina ‘Cuvee White’, Dalmatia 2016

The beautiful Croatian island of Brač is famous for its white stone, which is known locally as Stina and was the inspiration behind the name of this stunning collection of Jako Vino wines.

“A youthful yet complex nose delights with layers of floral hints with tropical notes of apricot and mango. The full bodied palate is dry, refreshingly balanced and full of juicy yellow fruits with citrus hints on the lingering finish.”

From Santorini… Gaia Wines, ‘Thalassitis’, Assyrtiko 2017

One of the pioneers of the modern Greek wine revolution Gaia Estate was established in 1994 by Greek winemakers Leon Karatsalos and Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. This wine is made from the island’s indigenous variety Assyrtiko Episkopi, Akrotiri and Pyrgos regions.

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

From Tenerife… Bodegas Viñátigo, Listán Blanco 2017

The philosophy behind Bodegas Viñátigo is to revive and promote the extensive varietal heritage of the Canary Islands. The journey started in the 1990s, at a century old plot in the village of La Guancha, in the north of Tenerife, where the traditional varieties of Listán Blanco and Listán Negro were vinified in the old family winery.

“Made entirely from the local Listán Blanco grape, the wine shows aromas of dry fruits and an enticing hint of fennel. The palate is full-bodied with a refreshing, balancing acidity and ample fruity flavours and floral notes. A lovely crisp wine with great intensity and a long, persistent finish.”

From Sardinia… Poderi Parpinello,Isola del Nuraghi, Cagnulari 2015

Giampaolo Parpinello and his son Paolo strive to reflect the Sardinian terroir and reveal the typicity of the wines, on a 30 hectare estate the family have been running for three generations.

“A deep, intense Cagnulari with delicate aromas of wild flowers backed by concentrated, ripe red fruits and a touch of spice. Dry and elegantly structured with a smooth finish.”

From Crete… Idaia Winery, Dafnes, Vidiano 2017

Idaia Winery is located in Venerato, a village in the heart of the vineyards of the Malevizi district, which is part of the Dafnes appellation area.

“Delicate aromatic characters of ripe pear, melon and a hint of banana, lead to a refreshing acidity which balances the rich and charming palate. With an impressively aromatic aftertaste, this is the quintessential introduction to the Vidiano grape.”

 

For further details on any of the wines above, please get in touch with your account manager. 

WOTM: Tenuta Ammiraglia, Alìe Rosé, Toscana 2017

Alìe Rosé, located in Magliano in the Maremma on the southern tip of Tuscany, the Ammiraglia estate boasts 150 hectares of vineyards that blanket gently rolling hills overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

In a nutshell:

Aromas of white flowers, wild cherry and citrus peel, with
velvety peaks of minerality resulting in a dry and herbal
finish.

The producer:

The wines of Tenuta Ammiraglia represent the Frescobaldi’s expression of modern Tuscan wines: influenced and inspired by the Mediterranean sun, sea and coastal breezes. The modern Ammiraglia winery, designed by the architect Piero Sartogo, is reminiscent of the prow of a ship pointing towards the sea. Perfectly integrated amid the hills and covered with greenery, it combines the most recent technological innovations with respect for the land and surrounding nature. The wines of Tenuta Ammiraglia are distinguished by the freshness, minerality and richness of the fruit.

The wine:

The berries were carefully selected and immediately pressed without any maceration, capturing just a hint of the colour from the skins, resulting in the delicate rosé colour. The grapes were then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel for three  months, retaining the purity of fruit and aromatic expression. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation. The Syrah was blended with a touch of Vermentino and the wine spent one month in bottle, prior to release.

Serving suggestion:

The berries were carefully selected and immediately pressed without any maceration, capturing just a hint of the colour from the skins, resulting in the delicate rosé colour. The grapes were then fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel for three months, retaining the purity of fruit and aromatic expression. The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation. The Syrah was blended with a touch of Vermentino and the wine spent one month in bottle, prior to release.

 

Royal Ascot 2018: What to expect

Hallgarten recently became Official Wine Supplier to Ascot Racecourse, exclusively supplying all still wines to the world’s most famous racecourse.

The partnership will see Hallgarten supply wine across the site, including at Royal Ascot. Michelin-Starred chefs Simon Rogan, Philip Howard and Raymond Blanc OBE will all showcase a specially selected range of wines in their respective restaurants during the Royal Meeting.

Royal Ascot is one of the most iconic race meetings across the world – there’s nothing quite like it. From the Royal procession, to the style and fashion, to the strawberries and cream (and the racing of course), over 300,000 people are expected to attend.

There’s a lot to consider across the five day spectacle, we’ve taken a closer look at what you can expect.

At Royal Ascot’s award-winning, fifth-floor restaurant, On 5, with its extraordinary garden terrace offering panoramic views of the racecourse. What will Michelin starred Philip Howard be pouring with his signature menus…

White:

Tenuta Ammiraglia, Massovivo, Toscana, Vermentino 
A lovely, intense straw colour, which leads to an impressive bouquet of fragrant blossom and exotic fruits, along with a fascinating vein of earthy minerality which is classic of this area. Fresh, crisp and sapid, but well sustained by its structure, it has an intriguing hint of almond on the finish.

Swartland Winery, ‘Founders’, Swartland, Chenin Blanc
An expressive Chenin Blanc, showing vibrant aromas of ripe passion fruit, guava and pineapple, underpinned by refreshing citrus notes. Well balanced with a full, fruity palate and a refreshing minerality on the finish.

Rosé:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Gris Blanc’, Pays d’Oc
The palest of salmon pinks, this is a wonderfully pure, fresh flavoured wine, with vibrant fruit aromatics. The fruity characters are echoed on the palate, which has a lovely minerality and a zesty finish.

Red:

Saint Clair, ‘Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Noir 
Aromas of sun-kissed dark berries, boysenberry and freshly picked blackberries, are interlaced with toasted wood notes and a hint of dark chocolate. The palate is full of sumptuous dark berries, layered with freshly ground coffee beans and dark chocolate. A hint of cinnamon spice leads into a savoury finish.

 

Raymond Blanc OBE returns as chef-in-residence to the sixth-floor Panoramic Restaurant, which offers one of the finest views across the track and down the straight mile. What will Raymond be pouring this year with his gastronomic menu…

 

White:

Domaine Tabordet ‘Laurier’, Pouilly-Fumé
A classic Pouilly Fumé showing minerality complemented by notes of exotic fruits, tangerine, pink grapefruit and spicy undertones. The palate is powerful and refreshing and delivers a long, flinty finish.

Rosé:

Château de l’Aumérade ‘Cuvée Marie Christine’ Rosé, Cru Classé Côtes de Provence
A lovely pale powder pink hue, with refreshing aromas of grapefruit leading to succulent peach and apricot on the palate. Fruit forward and full, with a hint of spice, this elegant rosé has a refreshing acidity and a long finish.

Red:

Domaine de la Ville Rouge ‘Inspiration’, Crozes-Hermitage 
Deep red, intense aromas of red fruits and black olives. Spicy and peppery notes with silky tannins. An elegant and silky textured wine.

 Sweet:

Château Suduiraut, Castelnau de Suduiraut, Sauternes
This elegantly rich wine shows orange peel and mineral notes on the nose. The palate is full bodied with almonds, spice, honey and candied fruits through to a lovely, lingering finish.

 

Chef Adam Handling, of The Frog E1 and Frog by Adam Handling in Covent Garden, makes his Royal Ascot debut in 2018 as he takes his role as ‘Chef in Residence’ of The Balmoral – a brand new Fine Dining restaurant within the Royal Enclosure.

White:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Terroir’ Picpoul de Pinet
A complex nose, full of citrus and floral notes combined with white peach, exotic fruit and a hint of pineapple. The palate is rich with zesty fruit and a livewire acidity which keeps your taste buds tingling. The finish is long and well rounded.

Rosé:

Saint Clair,’Origin’, Marlborough, Pinot Gris Rosé
Pale salmon in colour, a refreshing rosé with lifted aromas of sun-ripened strawberry, whipped cream and spiced pear. Beautifully balanced and finely structured on the palate with creamy fruit flavours of raspberries and strawberries leading to a hint of spice on the finish.

Red:

Gérard Bertrand ‘Naturalys’, Pays d’Oc, Syrah
A deep colour, with shimmering hints of violet. Generous nose, packed with red fruit and spice. Supple, aromatic and impeccably elegant on the palate, with refined tannins and lively fruit flavours offset by subtle herbaceous aromas.

Sweet:

Quady Winery, ‘Essensia’, California, Orange Muscat
Vibrant orange in colour, this wine delivers luscious sweet oranges and apricots on the palate. The bittersweet orange marmalade notes balance well with the zesty citric acidity.

 

What else to expect by numbers…

56,000
bottles of Champagne

80,000
cups of tea

21,000
jugs of Pimm’s

7,000
rumps of English lamb

3,000
kilos of beef sirloin

3,500
fresh lobsters

 

Winemaker profile: Stefano Chiarlo

For generations, the iconic Chiarlo family has produced some of Piedmont’s truly great wines and winemakers. Stefano Chiarlo, Michele Chiarlo’s current Oenologist and Vineyard Manager, runs the winery alongside his parents and brother.

Founded by Stefano’s father, Michele Chiarlo in 1956, the family owns 60 hectares of vineyards and produces single varietal wines from indigenous grape varieties. The winery remains in the town where Michele was born and the family are proud to represent this area, where Michele is a leading figure in the Piedmont wine industry.

Following time spent studying Oenology at the Enological School in Alba, and after a period of National Service following his graduation, Stefano joined Michele Chiarlo in 1991.

Initially working as Assistant to Oenologist, Roberto Bezzato, Stefano was responsible for managing the vineyard and the vinification of Gavi, a hugely important wine for Chiarlo and Piedmont. Following seven years learning the trade at the winery, Stefano became chief winemaker in 1999 (a very good vintage for Nebbiolo based wines).

His winemaking philosophy centres on creating wines which are elegant, with subtle use of oak and respect for the varietal and terroir.

Away from the winery and vineyard Stefano, along with his father and brother, is a keen Torino football supporter. He also enjoys skiing, visiting good pubs and is a lover of the sea.

We are proud to list 14 wines created under Stefano’s watchful eye at Michele Chiarlo in our portfolio, from the iconic Barolos, to the pioneering Barberas, the immensely important Gavis and the delicious Moscatos. For more information on any of these wines, visit our website.

Greece’s Tuscan Future

On the road north out of Athens you pass some astounding Homeric monuments, so illusory they could be a series of Hollywood sound stages. These are juxtaposed with a display of graffiti of appropriately Olympian standard, on a par with anything the guerrilla precincts of Amsterdam and Berlin have to offer. Startling.

We are driving to the Gaia winery in Nemea on the Peloponnese, home of the Agiorgitiko. Yiannis Paraskevopoulosis, the co-owner of Gaia, is at the wheel. He is a tall, well built, square-jawed, handsome Athenian of very strong opinions, not afraid to air them, yet often doing so in a surprisingly soft voice. Each statement is phrased almost as a question, a prelude to polite debate, you might think; but he is not to be messed with. When we reach the subject of Natural Wines, he raises his eyebrows: “If you ask me: what is a natural wine, I ask: well, what is an unnatural wine?”

It takes about 90 minutes before the northern suburbs give way to the Gulf of Corinth and you get your first glimpse of the turquoise and latte Aegean out of which seem to grow the distant, spectral hills, oddly familiar somehow, and you think: ah, Greece!

When we reach the Gaia winery, perched at 500 metres above sea level in Koutsi, we gaze down at the valley floor spread alluringly before us like a quilt, then up towards Mount Kyllini, its peak covered in snow, and – my God – the wind is screaming. And it is here that Yiannis discourses on his love of Tuscany, Agiorgitiko’s resemblance to Sangiovese – and why he believes the best – oh yes! – is yet to come for his beloved Nemea.

You politely listen while he states his case.

“We have wasted forty years by planting the wrong clones. Forty years!”

According to Yannis, in ancient times the land was planted with 10,000 vines per hectare, which meant the grapes had to fight to survive. A couple of generations ago the farmers were encouraged to replant, this time at 3,000 vines per hectare. The results were weak grapes, and wines high in acidity and astringency.

“When I arrived here in 1997 the wines were a pinkish red.” He shrugs his shoulders expansively. “The other issue is that Agiorgitiko is a very flexible grape. If you increase the yield dramatically you will still get a palatable wine, and if you are paid by the kilo – which is how the growers were paid then – then that is what you will produce – a palatable wine.”

He gazes round the vineyard. “Now, we have replanted. We have seven hectares, six of which are planted with Agiorgitiko, one of which with Syrah. We also work with a very small number of growers, about fifteen, with whom we have long-term agreements. The key thing here is that we pay by the hectare, not by the kilo, so it makes no sense for any growers to simply produce a ton of low-class grapes.

“But the biggest problem for the area – and this is what separates us from Tuscany – is clonal selection. We were planting the wrong clones. Or, rather, an unidentified blend of clones, good & bad! They were always virus infected. And these viruses will mean that you lose polyphenols and therefore grape sugars. What we need is to create a Nemea that is virus-free which is largely what they have in Tuscany. We have a unique plant – there is no other Agiorgitiko in Greece apart from some experimental plantings in Drama in the north.”

But things are looking up – and Yannis explains the reason for his optimism. “We have worked with a scientist called Kostas Bakasietas, who has collaborated with the Entav Inra nursery in France. Only he was capable of doing it. Our research institutions proved incapable. He has identified five different Agiorgitiko clones which are the Olympic champions of the variety. Just five. And only one of those clones is currently in operation. And there is only one hectare planted with this clone. And guess where that is. Here! In the whole of the 3,000 hectares of Nemea, the largest appellation in Greece, there is one hectare. Right out there!”

He pauses. “But. It took me this long to work that out! What was I doing for all that time, you might ask. Well, I spent all of that time trying to make the current vines better. I looked after the water stress management; I raised the canopy by two feet; I started early leaf removing to expose the flowers. So I made lots of adjustments. But the key will be the new clones. Kostas is the engine and we are the first on to the train.”

As we make our way down to the winery, Yiannis continues. “You know, what has also held us back is the cost of land, and the difficulty of getting permission to plant vines. The Government thinks us wine producers are rich and so they prefer to give the farming rights to “poor” farmers.”

Yiannis lets out a meaty laugh. “I have enemies. Nothing but enemies!”

As we begin tasting in a stylishly-designed barrel room, Yannis talks of his love affair with Sangiovese and Tuscany. “I have always been inspired by Tuscany,” he said. “And Agiorgitiko is stylistically very similar to Sangiovese. Neither of them are blockbuster wines. Both are supple and have very round tannins. If you were to blend a Merlot into a Sangiovese you would have an Agiorgitiko. I look to Tuscany for inspiration. For instance, I decided to plant Syrah. Why? Well, partly because I love Syrah, but also because I wanted to do what they did with Super Tuscans. To step outside the legal boundaries, do something different. And Syrah performs brilliantly down here.”

And it does! After a beautifully balanced 2017 Assyrtiko – fresh, lemony and lively – and a lovely 2017 Moschofilero – rose petals, amazingly fresh – we crack on with the reds, investigating first the 2017 Notios, an 85% Agiorgitiko/15% Syrah blend, showing rasping fruit and lovely soft tannins. The 2016 Gaia S, a 70/30 blend of the same grapes, has masses of sweet, dark unctuous fruit. Finally, the 2015 Gaia Estate, 100% Agiorgitiko from 40 year old vines, is a stunner, sweet vivacious fruit, raspberry coulis, grippy tannins, amazing length.

Over a lunch of grouper at a beachside taverna that looks like something out of Mamma Mia! Yiannis’ passion is infectious. “We need to move fast. We need different classifications to show the higher quality of hilly Nemea to valley Nemea. I want a different PDO for anything grown above five hundred metres but “they” won’t let me. We need to go higher to find the cooler nights. I am looking for longer ripening periods. Even at 15% alcohol you can end up with wines which are too jammy. But…” he leaves the sentence unfinished, a testament to his “enemies.”

Yiannis concedes that Greece’s reputation is built on whites. “But you can make great whites without taking great risks. With reds, you need to work harder. And even with our new good clones it is still a risk. We can learn from other peoples’ experience to get the learning period down from forty years to twenty years. But there is still a risk.”

He laughs. “But if we can get it right, then we can take on Tuscany. Yes, we have lost forty years. But I am positive. If you think that the wines of Gaia Estate are good today, then the Gaia wines of the future will blow your mind!”

Women with Bottle

In organoleptic experiments to test the wine tasting ability of men and women, female participants consistently come out on top. Their superior palates and tasting precision are well documented in scientific papers and journals, which explains why the female success rate in the Master of Wine qualification is now higher than men’s. This is now being reflected in wineries and cellars around the world as female winemakers take the helm in a traditionally male environment.

We’re proud to represent some of the best female winemakers around, and we believe the wines crafted by theses talented women from Japan and South Africa to Italy and France – are some of the very best in the Hallgarten portfolio.

Let’s take a look at these women with bottle.

Ayana Misawa – Grace Winery

It’s fitting that Ayana makes wine in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture from the revered Koshu grape. Her father Shigekazu Misawa is regarded as Japan’s Koshu pioneer. Ayana has studied winemaking on three continents, at the Enology and Viticulture Institute in Yamanishi, the Faculty of Enology of the University of Bordeaux, and South Africa’s Stellenbosch University. She has also made wine at some very well-known wineries, including Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile and Mountford in New Zealand.

She’s now returned to her homeland and works for Grace Winery, one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries.

Try the; Grace Winery, Private Reserve Koshu, Yamanashi 2016

“Pure, sublimely crisp and mineral in style, this wine is fresh and elegant with subtle notes of citrus fruit and white pear. The palate, like the nose shows white fruits and spicy white pepper notes with a savoury note on the finish.”

Estelle Roumage – Château Lestrille

Estelle Roumage embodies this outstanding family domaine in Entre-deux-Mers, close to St Emilion. Her wines are delicate, precise and consistently punch above their appellation. She manages to blend respect for tradition with a modern outlook to vine management and winemaking techniques. On top of this Estelle has a real passion and talent for bringing her wines to her customers and engaging, in a way that really ignites their taste buds.

Try the; Château Lestrille, Le Secret de Lestrille, Bordeaux Supérieur 2012

“A rich, powerful wine with a beautiful balance between roasted aromas and intense black fruit flavours. Structured, it has velvety tannins and well integrated oak, complemented by complex dark berry flavours, hints of cigar box and a smooth, elegant finish.”

Juliette Joblot – Domaine Joblot

Juliette’s father Jean-Marc Joblot introduced her to winemaking on the family estate in Givry. She started making the wines herself in 2010 and has never looked back. “I learnt a lot from my father,” she says, “and now I make decisions.” She’s aware that little-by-little more women are entering the world of winemaking but is also quick to point out that in regions like Burgundy it can be difficult to be a women in the winery “because the Bourgogne men are very macho!” The young yet determined Juliette is further exploring her father’s approach of ‘lutte raisonnée’ in the vineyards, and is also looking to retain more freshness by limiting oxygen contact in the winery as much as possible.

Try the; Domaine Joblot, Mademoiselle Blanc, Givry 1er Cru 2016

“Elegant and poised, this stunning wine shows complex aromas of yellow stone fruits and citrus notes layered with delicate floral nuances. Harmoniously balanced, it has a generous texture on the palate and a wonderful tension on the finish.”

Caterina Bellanova – San Marzano

Caterina is the queen of San Marzano and Primitivo is considered the king of Puglian grapes: this is certainly a winning marriage! Named European Producer of the Year 2015 in the Sommelier Wine Awards,  San Marzano is one of the most professional, forward-thinking cooperatives in Southern Italy with a reputationfor producing great wines. Trained biologist Caterina Bellanova, whose wines reflect the region and its native grape varieties, is at the helm.

Try the; San Marzano, Edda Lei Bianco, Salento 2016

“A distinctive blend with delicate aromas of sun-ripened peach and floral aromatics, which are interwoven with delightful hints of freshly squeezed lime, mint and herbal complexity. Beautifully balanced, the rounded palate is elegantly styled and has a touch of minerality on the finish.”

Louise Chéreau – Chéreau Carré

Chéreau-Carré has always been a family affair, and Louise Chéreau is the third generation to work in the winery which was founded by her grandfather in 1960. Alongside her father Bernard, she is heavily involved in the winemaking process, working the vintage from harvest to blending. “It is great to learn from my father as we build together a solid philosophy that will last until – maybe – a new generation is coming. We are a good team.”

Try the; Chéreau Carré, Château de Chasseloir, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2014

“The wine was matured on its fine lees- “Sur Lie” -until bottling which imparts an attractive “prickle” on the palate and a nice weight. Dry, with a characteristic crisp acidity and a bright, fresh minerality.”

Steffi Weegmüller – Weingut Weegmüller

With 300 years of winemaking history and a gaze to the future, the Weegmüller sisters have excelled in making delicious Riesling. Steffi is one of the first women to have worked in Germany’s male-dominated wine industry and she has mastered the technical aspects of winemaking, and – crucially – brings heart and sensuality to her work. She has been making the highest quality Pfalz wines for more than 25 years aided and abetted by a largely female team at the winery and behind the scenes. Her clean, pure wines have a delicate Pfalz spice and are very generous in fruit and length.

Try the; Weegmüller, Bürgergarten, Pfalz, Gewürztraminer Spätlese Trocken 2015

“Aromatic and restrained Gewürztraminer with a creamy texture and notes of rose, lychee, delicate spice and fresh ginger. Elegant, balanced and full of flavour.”

Nadine Ferrand – Domaine Ferrand

Nadine Ferrand is the latest family member to take helm at the Domaine in the heart of Pouilly Fuissé. She has transformed the vineyard and winery since taking over in 1984. She and her daughters are clearly doing something right as the wines regularly receive high scores from Robert Parker. Nadine Ferrand has brought the domaine to the top of Pouilly Fuissé. Her wines with vivacious fruit notes, buttery roundness and appealing minerality have been recognised by the Sommelier Wine Awards as a jewel of the appellation

Try the; Domaine Ferrand, Saint-Véran 2016

“This is a refreshing, complex and velvety white from Saint Véran. Ripe fruit flavours of juicy white pear combine with delicate notes of zesty lemon. Softly textured, with a harmonious balance between refreshing acidity and fruitiness, this shows great finesse on the finish.”

Samantha OKeefe – Lismore

Samantha O’Keefe’s is an amazing story. A native Californian, Berkeley educated, she and her husband realised their dream and bought a mountain in Africa. But then her husband upped sticks and Sam was left to bring up two young boys on her own, 300 metres up a mountain, surrounded by wilderness (and baboons). But nothing seems to faze her and she has made her mark with a string of stunning cool-climate wines that have wowed customers and critics the world over.

Try the; Lismore, Greyton, Reserve Chardonnay 2016

“A stunning example of a restrained, cool climate Chardonnay. Intense citrus aromas and classic soft fruits are layered with honey and vanilla notes. The palate is beautifully balanced with a refreshing, crisp acidity and a distinct minerality. Concentrated and refined, with a lingering citrus finish.”

Elizma Visser – Olifantsberg

 

Olifantsberg is situated on the Breedekloof’s Brandwacht mountain slopes, and is owned by Hollander Paul Leeuwerik, who is making great strides in progressing towards producing excellent Rhone-style wines. Elizma Visser joined the Olifantsberg team in 2015. This down to earth Elsenburg-trained winemaker has worked in France and Italy, before returning to South Africa.

Try the; Olifantsberg, Grenache Blanc, Breedekloof 2016

“A unique style of Grenache Blanc which shows delicacy and finesse. Subtle aromas of lime blossom combine with green herbal notes, white peach and quince through to a beautifully balanced and richly textured palate with a delicious saline hint on the finish.”

 

Veganuary

Over the past ten years, the number of vegans has increased by a staggering 360%, rising to 542,000 in the UK (according to the Vegan Society). For many, the inspiration to go vegan stems from completing the popular ‘Veganuary’ challenge. The Veganuary trend is growing more and more every year, with 2018 proving to be a record-breaking year with more than 120,000 people signing up to follow a fully plant-based diet for a month.

Seen as a few of the Hallgarten team have signed up and are well on their way to completing Veganuary, we thought we would help them out with a few vegan wine pairing suggestions (and help them also complete Tryanuary – see previous blog).

Each of these wines are suitable for vegans, having been made using alternative filtration methods.

Wild Mushroom Risotto x Santa Maria La Nave, Sicilia Bianco ‘Millesulmare’ 2014

A bright and fine example of Grecanico Dorato, with a distinctive minerality combined with wild mountain fruits, citrus characters and a hint of pineapple. Dry, with a balanced acidity, this elegant and harmonious wine has a lovely lingering finish.

This wine from a small, boutique winery on the north-western slopes of Mount Etna is a perfect pairing for all vegan food, including a wild mushroom risotto.

Thai Salad with Chickpea Carrot Peanut Crumble & Garlic Soy Dressing x Eden Road, Canberra Riesling 2016

A dry Riesling with hints of lime blossom and elderflower. Steely with an uplifting peppery finish. This New World style is from Murrumbateman in the Canberra Wine District, where they make refined wines that are produced from some of Australia’s highest vineyards. The unique combination of altitude and some of the world’s oldest soils, which were formed over 400 million years ago.

The dry style of this Riesling with good acidity makes it a perfect pairing to cut through the spice of a vegan Thai salad. The small amount of residual sugar (0.8g) in the wine is ideal for when you eat something spicy as the sugar goes to the background and the fruit comes forward.

Chana Masala, Indian curry x Fratelli, Maharashtra, Sangiovese 2016

What better pairing that a vegan Indian wine, with a vegan Indian curry? This light, but elegantly oaky wine provides the perfect fusion of acidity, with a natural impression of fruit sweetness and elegant tannins. Perfect to cut through a spicy dish.

The viticultural and winemaking expertise has been provided by Piero Masi, a master winemaker from Tuscany and creator of the famous ‘Chianti Classico Casa Sola’. The modern winery located in Akluj, in the Solapur district follows Italian traditions to showcase the team’s passion.

Quinoa Stuffed peppers x Johann Donabaum, Grüner Veltliner ‘Johann’ Federspiel 2015

A fabulous, restrained Grüner Veltliner with apple and lime characters combined with white pepper, cardamom and spicy minerality. This balanced and refreshing wine makes it a perfect combination with a simple vegan dish packed full of flavour.

Johann is carving out a formidable reputation for concentrated, mineral laden white wines. The production from his five hectares of hillside vineyard in the Spitzer Valley is miniscule, but despite this his prices remain really competitive.

 

For a full list of our vegan wines, contact your account manager.

 

The perils of travelling with the Portfolio Director

We arrived late at Michele Chiarlo. Gen and I had touched down at Milan airport at dusk and picked up the hire car. “No need for the satnav, Gen,” I stated. “I know a shortcut.”

So obviously we got lost.

By the time we arrived in Piemonte it was pitch black. Picture this. The small village of Barolo is in the middle of nowhere. It is surrounded by very steep hills. It is freezing cold in the winter, and tonight it has snowed heavily. The hapless Geordie driver peers through the windscreen, his demure brand manager in the passenger seat (wondering what she has done to deserve this.)

“I think it’s down here,” I say.

“Are you sure, Jeem? That road doesn’t look safe.”

“Trust me, Gen. I’m an old hand at this. I’m sure these are Chiarlo vineyards and those lights at the top of the hill – that’s the Chiarlo guest house.”

I edge the car forward down a steep hill – and then the fun starts.

After 50 yards we hit black ice. Car skids. Dirt road. Pitch black. Can’t control the car. Heart in my mouth. “Brace yourself!”

I career down the ice. There’s a solid brick wall on one side. A vineyard on the other. I try to steer the car into the vineyard: softer landing.

It is at this point that Gen shows her class.

“Oh no, Jeem! Not there – that’s Cerequio!”

Five yards later we hit a dry patch and the car skids to a halt. And we breathe again.

Thankfully, the rest of the trip is much less eventful and a lot more fun. After somehow managing to get the car out of the vineyard, we eventually find the Chiarlo guest house and meet up with Stefano and Erica for a bite to eat and a catch-up.

Alberto joins us for the business meeting, and then conducts a brilliant tasting. A couple of highlights for me:

Cipressi 2015 (the second vintage to be made under the new Nizza DOCG) – looks spectacular. On the nose you get hugely perfumed blackberries, massive and profound. On the palate: lovely, grippy, sappy tannins. Mouth filling, a touch of savoury now begins to assert. Huge finish which goes on forever.
Cerequio 2013 – refined and elegant nose, loganberries, cranberries, exotic fruit. A touch of boot polish. Tannins are firm but not harsh, coating rather than dominating. A touch of bacon sandwich on the finish, but very soft and smooth and classy. Needs at least another two years.

The following morning we drive to the winery, gorgeous snowy vistas every side of us. At the winery a sprightly Michele welcomes us, proudly showing us through the fermentation and barrel rooms, before making Gen’s day by posing with her for photographs. The 82 year-old, who still works at the winery every day, tells us the ’17 vintage will be short on volume but good in terms of quality – especially for Barolo. I cross my fingers and hope Gen doesn’t volunteer that I almost wiped out a row of those precious Cerequio vines!

New Year’s Eve Crackers

Which fizzy tipples are most likely to make a New Year’s Eve celebration go off with a bang? Here we look at what will add some sparkle to your celebration.
Something classic…
Champagne Collet Brut, Art Déco NV

A Champagne from one of the new additions to our portfolio; a broad style  with developed biscuity notes from extended ageing on the lees and a lovely long and savoury finish.

A real foodie Champagne that is perfect as an apéritif or served with a light game starter.

Something English…
Sugrue-Pierre, The Trouble with Dreams Brut 2013

You don’t have to go far when looking for an English sparkling wine to impress than Dermot Sugrue’s Trouble with Dreams 2013, which recently took the top spot in the Independent English Wine Awards.

A pure and elegant multi-award winning sparkling wine, showing lemon and apple aromas, leading to a palate of delicate stone fruit and crisp acidity. Long, biscuity and absolutely delicious.

Something French…
Gérard Bertrand, Code Rouge, Crémant de Limoux NV

As a Champagne alternative, the trend for Crémant has grown dramatically in 2017 with those who are after a fizz with a difference.

King of the Languedoc, Gérard Bertrand’s attractively styled Code Rouge has an enticing floral aroma with notes of pear and citrus,refreshing and vibrant on the palate.

This Blanc de Blanc shows great finesse and elegance and works as well as an apéritif as it does with exciting Asian inspired cuisine.

Something South American…
Doña Paula, Sauvage Blanc NV

Guaranteed to be a talking point amongst guests, Doña Paula’s Sauvage Blanc is Argentina’s first 100% Sauvignon Blanc sparkling wine which shows intense aromas of orange blossom, hints of
grapefruit and an intriguing touch of mint.

An SWA Silver Medal winner in 2017, this fizz also doubles up as an amazing apéritif or served alongside rich fish dishes of salmon,
tuna or shellfish.

Something Italian…
Feudi di San Gregorio, Dubl + Spumante Greco NV

Another conversation starter, this is a traditional method sparkling wine with a fine and persistent mousse made using 100% Greco.

Floral and fruity aromas of pumpkin flowers, honey, mango and citrus fruits contrast with the chalky vibe of the Greco grape. A good weight on the palate combines with youthfulness and a persistent minerality typical of the terroir.

Something to kick off the event…
Quady Winery, Vya Extra Dry Vermouth & Quady Winery, Vya Sweet Vermouth

No better way to welcome guests to an event than with a pre-dinner cocktail. Quady Winery has designed the Perfect Manhattan, using two of its signature Vermouth creations.

  • 60ml straight rye whiskey
  • 15ml Vya Sweet Vermouth
  • 15ml Vya Extra Dry Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Lemon or orange twist

Stir well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and twist a swatch of thin-cut lemon peel over the top.