Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Loss of Leasingham

Sad news in Harpers last week. Apparently, Constellation will close the Leasingham winery in the Clare Valley, Australia, if they cannot find a buyer soon. Rationalisation was inevitable for many big companies in the current climate, as they try to maximise profit from falling revenue.

The plan for the 116 year old estate had been to maintain the Leasingham brand, purchasing the grapes from its new owners. Unfortunately a buyer has yet to be found according to Harpers. This week though it managed to sell 75 hectares to Tim Adams Wines, another Clare Valley Producer, at a knock down price. Sadly, this leaves housing redevelopment as an option for the remainder of the estate.

The Leasingham winery produces some fantastic wines from Shiraz, both as a still and a sparkling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling…one of my favourite wines.

I hope a buyer can be found soon, or alternatively, that Constellation changes it mind and keeps the winery. If they don’t, whilst the brand Leasingham will remain, it will no longer be specifically grapes from that estate and could encompass any Australian grape. I don’t know about you, but for me, it just wouldn’t be the same again!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Million $ Book

Maybe this is just me, but in a time of economic difficulties, I think the world might be going a little mad. Well, the publishing world at least. I was amazed to read in Decanter that publisher Kraken Opus is due to publish a wine book next year weighing in at 30kg and costing US$1m (£600,000)!

The wine opus will list the world’s top 100 wineries, and every purchaser of the book will receive a six bottle case from every one of the 100 wineries listed. In addition to that, there will also be an invite to visit some of them!

Only 100 copies will be produced, making it a very limited edition (no surprise at this price!). However, another reason for this maybe that many of the wines are of limited supply. A proportion of the copies will go to auction, and amazingly, 25 have already been pre-ordered, so if you want one, better get that order in soon!

In order to create the contents, first of all a list of the top 100 wineries must be made. A panel of experts will short list around 300 producers, a second panel of 40 sommeliers will narrow it down to the required 100, with a third vote to decide the top 10. Who will be making these decisions is yet to be revealed, they have however said that Marco Pierre White will be involved in the launch.

I suppose the 600 bottle wine collection you receive with each book goes some way to justify the price tag, though it puts it out of the reach of many of the most enthusiastic wine lovers. However, those lucky enough to be able to buy it will at least be safe in the knowledge that they are enjoying some of the greatest wines in the world!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Radcliffe's Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The other wine I had the pleasure of tasting at dinner last week was Radcliffe’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

One of the more prestigious wines from the Southern Rhone, it can contain up to thirteen different varieties of grape. The blend will primarily be Grenache, Syrah (Shiraz) and Mouvedre, creating a wonderful wine with fantastic complex flavours.

The wine had a wonderful deep red colour, with developing aromas of plums and dark cherries, with a hint of spice coming through. These were also the flavours that came through on the palate with an added hint of smoke in the background. The low level of tannins and good level of acidity made it a very well balanced wine, as you would expect, resulting in a very enjoyable drink.

Recommendation, definitely worth a punt if your looking for a wine with a bit more class than your standard table wine; but don’t want anything to heavy or overpowering.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Montanna Unoaked Chardonnay

We had the pleasure of being invited out for dinner last week, and I thought what better an opportunity to gather some more material for my blog!

The first wine I got the opportunity to taste was an unoaked Chardonnay from the Montanna winery in New Zealand. Now if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I’m a huge fan of New Zealand wines, especially it’s Sauvignon Blanc. This was a wine I’d not tasted before, so was of great interest to me.

On pouring the wine, the first thing I noticed was the colour, which wasn’t what I’d expected from a New World Chardonnay. Actually the same went for the taste and aromas!

For a New World Chardonnay you’d expect it to be a lemon, gold colour, but this was more of a lemon green. The aromas and flavours were of crisp green apples and gooseberries, not the tropical fruit I was expecting! Along with the flavours there was a wonderfully refreshing acidity which made the wine such a pleasant drink.

This wine reminded me far more of an old world wine along the lines of a Chablis, just not as complex! But the real question, is would I recommend it?...Absolutely!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Vina Anfi Rioja Crianza 2002

On a recent holiday to Spain, the in-laws bought us back a Rioja Crianza as a present. Great for me, but not so much for the other half isn’t a fan of red wine! Never mind, it meant all the more for me!

The term Crianza relates to the ageing period of the wine. In this case, the wine cannot be sold until its three years old, and has spent a minimum of six months in oak barrels. However, for Rioja, it needs to spend twelve months in oak. The usual grapes that go into the blend of a Rioja are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache).

The wine had a wonderful deep red colour, with aromas of black fruit such as blackberries and plums, with a touch of spice in the background. Again these came through on the palate, with wonderfully smooth tannins and oak characteristics, resulting in a beautifully balanced wine.

Recommendation? Yes I would, just be careful of other Rioja Criaza on the markets, as some are not as good as this one!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

UK Vineyards on the Increase

Having already written several pieces about English Sparkling wine, I was searching through my inbox and found an interesting article on the UK wine industry

Over the last four years, the area covered by UK vineyards has grown by a massive 45%. Now, there is a total of 1,106 hectares under vine, 40% of which is made up of the sparkling grape varieties. With Waitrose now entering the foray with its own 4.5 hectare site in Leckford, Hampshire, the remainder of the increase mainly comes from two producers, Chapel Down and Nyetimber. And it’s not just the area, the number of vineyards has also grown, with around 400 now recorded.

It is the traditional sparkling grape varieties that have seen the biggest increases over the years, with Pinot Noir now accounting for 19% of total hectarage, giving it a total of 250 hectares, and Chardonnay now covering 225 hectares at 17%.

Let’s hope with the UK economy in its current state, the UK wine industry can accommodate this continued growth. We have seen recently how the French wine industry, which was already struggling, is finding it hard to weather the current economic storms. However, current demand far outstrips supply of English Sparkling, which gives it a clear advantage. In my eyes, all the producers need to do is ensure the quality in their wines, or they will be facing the problems the French currently have!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Australian Fortified Wine

Firstly I’d like to apologise for my recent absence, I’ve been on holiday and had decided that I needed a break from everything, but I’m back now all refreshed!

I’ve been trawling through my inbox to catch up on the news and came across an email from Decanter about how Australians are “planning to reignite interest in the languishing category” of Australian fortified wine, which is apparently declining by 3% a year. (

To combat this, producers have come up with a range of strategies to improve understanding among restauranteurs and retailers. This includes educating them on how and when to serve fortifieds. The aim is to increase awareness with 25-44 year old drinkers, and hopefully boost sales!

I don’t know a lot about Australian fortifieds aside from the fact they make Port, Sherry and Liquor Muscat style wines. The most famous is the Liquor Muscat from the Rutherglen region. It was this that I had the pleasure of tasting for my WSET Diploma exam. From what I can remember, it was a lusciously rich and sweet wine, with flavours of raisins and dried fruit, definitely well worth trying.

Let’s hope that for the Australian producers that they get the boost in sales they are after, I would certainly recommend people try them, especially the Rutherglen Muscat mentioned above.