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Andrew Catchpole's final Regional Heroes blog from Australia

Published:  23 August, 2010

From the Hills to Clare Valley, where a cracking turn out of winemakers reinforces one of the best masterclass tastings of the trip, fronted by the region's lime-slaked, bone dry signature style of Riesling.

 

Dave and Diane Palmer of Skillogallee, Jeffrey Grosset of Grosset and Stephanie Toole of Mount Horrocks were just a few of the dozen leading Clare winemakers who joined us for a tasting lunch following a serious crack at Clare sub-regionality under the guidance of Kilikanoon's Kevin Mitchell.

 

Flights of the superb 02 and '09 Riesling were shown blind, followed by a bracket of iconic Clare Shiraz (think Jim Barry's 'The Armagh' and Tim Adams 'Aberfeldy'), before launching into a lunch which then opened the field on Clare's myriad styles, including plush Cabernet-driven wines epitomised by Grosset's seamless Gaia and Mount Horrrock's seductive Semillon.

 

It was the Rieslings, though, that really pinpointed the character of Clare, as we traced a progression from warmer, fleshier Auburn in the lower Valley via the well-structured complexities of Watervale and Sevenhill to the tightly knit, mineral charged wines of Polish Hill. '02's, especially from sub-regions showing more minerally, tighter character in youth, also impressed upon our group how well Clare Riesling can age.

 

After such a whirlwind tour of cool and cooler climate regions it was intriguing to contemplate how Barossa, king of the blockbuster Shiraz, would show after such a run of aromatic Rieslings, fresh and restrained Chardonnays, vibrant Pinot Noirs, cooler region savoury Shiraz/Syrahs a host of other up-and-coming varieties including Rhone whites, Italians (Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Nero d'Avola, Fiano and Arneis, among others), plus the odd dollop of good-looking Tempranillo.

 

It was pretty simple and quite a coup. The Barossa boys and girls pulled out their Old Vine Charter and soaked our palates with flights of Old Vine (35+ years of age), Barossa Survivor Vine (70+), Barossa Centenarian Vine (100+) and Barossa Ancester Vine (125+). These old vines are - no cliché here - a national treasure and given the extraordinary combination of balance, harmony and concentration that overwhelmingly informed this superb flight of 12 Barossa classics, it seems churlish to single out any single wines. However, an '07 Cirillo Estate Vineyard Grenache, from 1850 plantings, and a 164 year old '05 Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz deserve special mention.

 

The final stages of this Regional Heroes trip played out in the Barossa and its more elevated sister region Eden with visits to a trio of wineries, all very different and all thoroughly enjoyable, not least for their more intimate tours and tastings after so many masterclasses in so many and such contrasting regions. It was a good reminder of something that Australia does well - namely approachable and down to earth winemakers. Stephen Henschke of Henschke, Louisa Rose at Yalumba and Christie Schulz at Turkey Flat all proved generous with both their time and their wines, including some exciting barrel and tank work where we again looked at some very promising 2010 wines in the making.

 

After 300+ wines, nine regions, a wealth of masterclasses, innumerable visits, the chance to look at a wealth of 'new wave' varieties and style coming on line, along with the emerging and established classic Australian styles, and what could generally be described as a pretty full-on immersion in the current wine scene Down Under, the Regional Heroes delegates - Rachael, Robert and Matt - agreed that they had only scratched the surface in terms what Australia offers. But the depth and diversity of that offer was clearly apparent. All in all a great trip and some superb wines.

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Carol Emmas reviews Roux at Parliament Square

Published:  16 August, 2010

It was a sad day for me when the peace protesters were removed from Parliament Square - where some had camped for almost a decade.

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Speaker highlights at Top Merchants, Bristol conference

Published:  03 August, 2010


Speaker highlights from the Top Merchants conference held in Bristol on July 19.

 

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Carol Emmas reviews Inter Beaujolais

Published:  29 July, 2010

Unless you've been residing on another planet these past few weeks, it's unlikely the hype of the 2009 Beaujolais vintage has passed you by. Xavier Barbet, vice-president of Inter Beaujolais, says this is the best vintage he's ever seen.

 

I have to say it's nice to have a Beaujolais revival because when Gamay is good it's a joy to behold. Plus it sits so well with what the consumer wants these days: it's light, not a high abv, tastes good chilled and is a great food wine. It also stands out on its own in terms of individuality and style.

 


All 12 appellations were on show, from the light, frivolous and fruity through to the more serious and complex. There were a couple that fell a little flat , but there were many more delightful, luscious and succulent wines on show and it's these that will have the consumer coming back for more.

 

Some of the more complex wines were good to savour and good value on the pocket. But to me it's about making hay while the sun shines and I'd be opting for the bright-fruited fun aspect - and there's plenty of that to be had this year.

 


Henry Fessy Beaujolais Rouge 2009 (Louis Latour Agencies) had a colour you'd want on your palette as well as your palate. Red-purple in the glass, it had a lively nose of raspberry and violets, with upbeat, red berry fruits to taste.

 


Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Rouge Coeur de Vendange 2009 (Enotria) was a gluggable wine, with cherry and raspberry flavours backed by firm tannins and a succulent finish.
Les Vins Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages 2009 (Berkmann Wine Cellars) had vibrant red and purple fruit that skimmed and teased the palate and delivered a long, juice-laden finish.

 

Domaine de la Madone Vieilles Vignes Fleurie 2009 (Thorman Hunt) showed aromas of violets and dark red fruit, intense flavours of liquorice, a touch of spice, good acidity and lively tannins.


But it wasn't all about the reds. There were a few whites under the Beaujolais Blanc appellation and the Château des Jacques Grand Clos de Loyse 2009 (Hatch Mansfield) showed a fresh, clean nose with lemons and nuts on the palate and a good level of minerality.

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Richard Siddle dines at The Milroy

Published:  29 July, 2010

Walking into The Milroy you feel like you've stepped up a notch or two in social class, which is all part of its new-found appeal. Previously you were only able to dine here if you were rich enough to pay the membership fee for what is essentially a private casino - Les Ambassadeurs Club.


Located on the cusp of Hyde Park, The Milroy is situated in what used to be one of Henry VIII's hunting lodges and its interior is still modelled on the fin de siècle Louis XV style incorporated in the 1870s. Dining here certainly makes you feel one step closer to royalty.


The food is European traditional, dressed up with a serious modern twist. It's the kind of menu where you need the staff to explain at least two ingredients per dish. But this is no surprise as head chef Simon Foster was trained by Pierre Koffman at La Tante Claire.


Foams, juses and mousses run alongside Barnsley chops, ribs of beef, sole meunière and pan-fried skate.


The wine list is tilted to the Old World but evenly spread around the New World. With Cloudy Bay and Hunter Valley running up alongside Meursault, Pommard and Nuits St George. Under head sommelier Andres Lucas it features 200 bins, 10 by-the-glass at £7.50, and fairly priced bottles starting at £22.


Lunch here is a grand occasion. A step up and a step back in time. But well worth stepping up for.

 

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JF Hillebrand acquires Bora Shipping

Published:  26 July, 2010

Logistics supplier to the wines and spirits industry JF Hillebrand has acquired Bulgarian beverage logistics specialist Bora Shipping.

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Connoisseur Estates takes on Adelaide Hills producer

Published:  22 July, 2010

Connoisseur Estates has been appointed as the UK agent for Sidewood Estate from the cool climate Adelaide Hills region of South Australia.

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Pernod Ricard announces sale of Bodegas Marques de Arienzo

Published:  22 July, 2010

Pernod Ricard has announced the cash sale of its Bodegas Marques de Arienzo winery in Spain for €28 million.

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Pernod Ricard to use Facebook in anti drink-driving campaign

Published:  20 July, 2010

Pernod Ricard UK is to use social networking sites to target 18 to 24-year-old drivers in the the latest phase of its Accept Responsibility campaign.

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Wines in the Pres, July 10-11, 2010

Published:  13 July, 2010


What have the national wine critics had to say this week? Find out with our round up of Wines in the Press for July 10, 11.

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Laura Clark - Christmas time, mistletoe and wine

Published:  02 July, 2010

And so the seemingly endless stream of Christmas tastings that journalists finds themselves traipsing to in the sweltering heat of the summer has begun.

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Pernod Ricard launches online bartender community

Published:  24 June, 2010

Pernod Ricard UK has launched an online networking and knowledge sharing community for on-trade professionals.

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Montana rebrands to become Brancott Estate

Published:  23 June, 2010

Montana Wine has changed its name to Brancott Estate and is to be official sponsor of the 2011 rugby union World Cup.

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Pernod Ricard launches online community for bartenders

Published:  17 June, 2010

Pernod Ricard has launched an online networking and knowledge-sharing community dedicated exclusively to bartenders in the UK on-trade.

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Finca Flichman becomes UK No1 branded Argentine wine

Published:  16 June, 2010

Argentine export monitor, Caucasia Wine Thinking, has released figures showing that Finca Flichman is the UK's number one branded Argentine wine in 2010.

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Richard Siddle,World Cup wine blog: Recovering from a Green day

Published:  14 June, 2010

 

Resurfaced in Cape Town after manic two days immersed in the World Cup in Johannesburg and Rustenberg. You will pleased to hear that Cape Town is covered in cloud, driving rain and whistling winds - big difference to weather up north.

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Richard Siddle, World Cup blog, Day 5: The English are coming!

Published:  12 June, 2010

After a great last day sipping and tasting my way through Stellenbosch I have now flown up to Johannesburg to the heart of the World Cup in readiness for tonight's England game.

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Viñalba Reserva Malbec - Touriga Nacional on sale now

Published:  04 June, 2010

Viñalba Reserva Malbec - Touriga Nacional, the latest addition to Buckingham Schenk's trophy-winning Argentine brand Viñalba, has secured a major UK listing with Majestic Wine.

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AdVini looks to drive quality French wine sales

Published:  02 June, 2010

Newly merged French wine giant AdVini has unveiled plans designed to keep the company at the top of quality French winemaking.

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French launch first 3-D Virtual Wine Fair

Published:  28 May, 2010

The www.WineFair.com plans to help busy wine and spirit professionals network worldwide from the comfort of their desks

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