FIFA World Cup Brasil 2014 Offical Football and Champagne Taittinger

Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve FIFA World Cup Brasil Limited Edition

As the official Champagne of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brasil, Champagne Taittinger has released a special limited edition World Cup souvenir bottle of Brut Réserve NV. Designed to celebrate Taittinger’s association with the forthcoming tournament, the bottle and box have been designed using groundbreaking 3D print technology. The souvenir bottle is presented in an elegant white and gold gift box featuring hologram footballs. The bottle includes a gold label with the football theme continued and the World Cup trophy featuring on the neck label. This is the first time in the history of the tournament that a Champagne House has been chosen by FIFA as the official Champagne to be served to guests in FIFA’s VIP and VVIP areas. Comments Clovis Taittinger, export director, “We are delighted to be associated with this famous event. For Champagne Taittinger, the great eponymous and independent Family House, it is an immense honour not only due to the very consistent quality of its cuvées but also to its world reputation.

Champagne Taittinger FIFA World Cup Brasil Limited Edition Brut Reserver NV

Champagne Taittinger FIFA World Cup Brasil Limited Edition Brut Reserver NV

Buy a bottle and get entered into a draw for an official FIFA World Cup Brasil Football signed by President of Champagne Taittinger, Pierre Emanuel Taittinger. Buy the Limited Edition Champagne at our website.

FIFA World Cup Brasil 2014 Offical Football 2 signed by the President of Champagne Taittinger, Pierre Emanuel Taittinger.

FIFA World Cup Brasil 2014 Offical Football 2 signed by the President of Champagne Taittinger, Pierre Emanuel Taittinger.

The hallmark of the Taittinger blend is the high percentage of Chardonnay it contains,this gives the wines ultimate elegance, delicacy and finesse. The grapes for the Brut Reserve come from prime vineyards throughout Champagne, with approximately 50% coming from the Taittinger Estate. Produced each year from the first pressings of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay this is the definitive cuvée of Champagne Taittinger. It is a carefully balanced blend of wines from up to twenty-five different ‘crus’. It also includes a proportion of reserve wine to ensure consistency from year to year. Prior to release the Brut Reserve is aged for 3-4 years giving the wine depth whilst allowing the component parts to become fully integrated. 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier.

Champagne Taittinger Tasting Notes:

Champagne Taittinger Brut Reserve NV is a brilliant, golden straw yellow colour. The bubbles are fine. The mousse is both discreet and persistent. The nose, very expressive and open, is both fruity and bready. It exudes aromas of peach, white flowers (may blossom, acacia) and vanilla pod. On the palate, this lively fresh wine is at once in harmony. This is a delicate wine with flavours of fresh fruit and honey. In all a wine blessed with a well-developed aromatic potential. It is aged for three to four years in the cellars where it achieves perfect maturity.

Champagne Pierson Whitaker

Champagne Pierson Whitaker

Now available in the UK at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Champagne Pierson Whitaker is a very small, boutique producer of Champagne. The annual production is around 30,000 bottles in total which, in Champagne terms, is tiny and most of the work in the vineyards and cellar is done by hand. Pierson Whitaker is located in the Cotes des Blancs. We first became aware of the owner of Champagne Pierson Whitaker, Didier Pierson, when he became the first Champenois to release an English sparkling wine with Meonhill, near Droxford in Hampshire. You can read more about Meonhill wines here and here. Back to Champagne…..

Location – the Cotes des Blancs

Champagne Pierson Whitaker is based in the village of Avize in the heart of the Cotes des Blancs wine growing region of Champagne. The village of Avize is located to the south of Epernay and all of the village’s vineyards are classified as 100% Grand Cru in the Champagne vineyard classification – the Échelle des Crus (literally translated as ladder of growth). The Échelle des Crus is a system for setting the prices of grapes, the higher the rating, the more you a grower can charge for their grapes.

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There are 6 villages in the Cote des Blancs that are all classified as Grand Cru – Avize, Chouilly, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Oger and Oiry. The Cotes des Blancs is a mainly east-facing slope planted with Chardonnay, some 95% of total plantings and provides Chardonnay (the white grape from which it takes its name) for many famous vintage Champagnes and prestige cuvées from the large Champagne houses. Champagnes from the Cotes des Blancs are characterised by light and delicate aromas, finesse and elegance.

About Champagne Pierson Whitaker

Champagne Pierson Whitaker was founded in 1992 by Champenois Didier Pierson, who inherited his vineyard from his grandparents, and his then English girlfriend Imogen Whitaker. Sadly they are no longer together but Didier is firmly at the helm of the business and the name Champagne Pierson Whitaker remains. Didier Pierson has Champagne in his blood, there are 5 Champagne houses within his immediate family, and he spent his youth moving from one to another learning all aspects of the Champagne business from the viticulture through to sales.

Champagne Pierson Whitaker Reserve 1er Cru Brut NVChampagne Pierson Whitaker Label

This is the house’s main Champagne, although they also produce a Rosé, Blanc de Blancs and a Vintage. It is a 50 / 50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir is sourced from Didier’s brother’s vineyard in the neighbouring village of Grauves. Grauves is rated as 1er Cru 99% on the Échelle des Crus, hence the wine is a 1er Cru and not a Grand Cru. A lot of Cotes des Blanc producers make mainly Blanc de Blancs wines, but Didier is a believer in the idea of “finesse” and loves experimenting with the “assemblage” which is why he adds Pinot Noir.

The Reserve Brut is a non-vintage blend of three different vintage Champagnes which are all aged for 5 or 6 years on the lees. This extended period of ageing allows the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to reach their full potential. The dosage is 9g/L. Annual production of the Brut Reserve is about 15,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes

Champagne Pierson Whitaker Brut Reserve 1er Cru is a bright, light golden colour with a fine bead of bubbles. It has an intense nose with floral, acacia and citrus fruit (grapefruit, lemon and orange) aromas. The palate is powerful and round with a good mouth-filling texture and a persistent mousse. It has hint of anise with chalky minerality and has a finely balanced, clean, dry finish with good acidity and length. A Champagne for all occasions!

Didier is a busy man, not content with producing his Champagne and Meonhill Wines, he has also been taken on as a wine making consultant at Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire, located not fare from Meonhill. It seems that he will get to know the roads between Hampshire and Avize very well.

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac is a single vintage Armagnac that is 60 years old in 2014.

Baron de Lustrac works with a number of small producers and growers and oversees production and ageing of their spirit – this allows them full control of their Armagnac. Only the finest eaux de vie from the best terroirs are used in the production of Baron de Lustrac Vintage Armagnac. Once distilled the colourless spirit is aged in 420 litre oak barrels. It is here, in barrel, that the Armagnac leaches vanillins and tannins from the toasted oak which lend the spirit colour and flavour. The depth of colour and complexity of flavour increase all the time the spirit is aged in cask, the colour can range from pale straw to rich amber. As Armagnac ages it becomes darker in colour and softer, smoother and more elegant on the palate whilst aromas and flavours of prunes, violets, fig, honey, butterscotch and rancio develop.

Buy Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac here.

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac Label

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac Label

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac is presented in an old-fashioned Armagnac bottle and wooden box, these rare vintage Armagnacs are available in strictly limited quantities. Each label is inscribed with the year of distillation, the name of the Domain of production, the bottle number and, where relevant, the grape variety.

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac Bottle and Box

Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac Bottle and Box

Vintage Armagnac, and other old Armagnacs, are usually aged in four hundred litre French oak barrels. Traditionally a local, dark oak called Monzelun is used to fabricate these barrels and this lends a certain richness and is great at taming the harsh, young Armagnac spirit. Gascon Monzelun oak is now in limited supply and some producers have now switched to Limousin or Troncais oak for barrel manufacture. Armagnac needs a good 10 years ageing in barrel for the right balance and roundness to develop with interaction from the oak barrels. This ageing process continues for many years however, when the Armagnac reaches between 40 and 60 years old, a lot of producers transfer the spirit to glass demi-johns which prevents the brandy becoming too woody whilst retaining desirable fruity and floral notes.

Have you ever wondered what the difference between Cognac and Armagnac is?

Cossart Gordon Sercial 1954 Vintage Madeira

Cossart Gordon Sercial 1954 Vintage Madeira

Cossart Gordon can trace its beginnings back to 1745 when it was founded by three Scotsmen, Francis Newton, his brother Thomas , Thomas Gordon and Thomas Murdoch. It is the oldest company in the Madeira trade. An Irishman, William Cossart, joined the firm in 1808 and by the late nineteenth century the company was active in all areas of the wine trade including Port, Sherry, Marsala and Malaga. The company continued in the vein until the start of World War Two when the firm began to specialise only in Madeira. In 1953 Cossart Gordon became a member of the Madeira Wine Assocation, which would eventually become the Madeira Wine Company. In 1989 the Symington Family (world-famous owners of Dows, Grahams, Warres Port et al.) took a majority stake in the Madeira Wine Company which also owns Blandys, Leacocks and Miles Madeira. The Symingtons brought a vast amount of experience, investment and worldwide distribution channels to help reinvigorate the Madeira industry.

Due to the unique estufagem aging process Madeira is one of the longest-lived wines and also improves for days after opening, but will keep, once opened, for a month and more in a decanter. This Cossart Gordon 1954 Vintage Madeira is  made from 100% Sercial grapes and, like most Sercial is a dry style of Madeira. It would make a fantastic 60th Birthday or 60th Anniversary present in 2014.

Cossart Gordon Sercial 1954 Vintage Madeira is available to but at Fareham Wine Cellar. We also have some Baron de Lustrac 1954 Vintage Armagnac available too.

Cossart Gordon 1954 Sercial Vintage Madeira Back

Cossart Gordon 1954 Sercial Vintage Madeira Back

Cossart Gordon 1954 Sercial Vintage Madeira Front

Cossart Gordon 1954 Sercial Vintage Madeira Front

91 Points | Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate

Hambledon Vineyard Winemaking Visit – New Dates

Become a Winemaker for the day at Hambledon Vineyard!

A great opportunity to attend an English sparkling wine workshop at one of the best local, and the UK’s most exciting and hi-tech, wineries, Hambledon Vineyard.

Hambledon Vineyard Chardonnay Vines Hambledon Vineyard Number Two and One Wine Presses Hambledon Vineyard Winery Hambledon Vineyard Winery Adding the dosage at Hambledon Winery Hambledon Vineyard Cellars

Communication from Hambledon Vineyard reads,

Join us for an informative and fun evening. We’re delighted to announce that charismatic leading wine expert Joe Wadsack will be returning to the Vineyard to guide us through another tutored tasting of Champagne and English Sparkling Wine. This will include a dosage tasting where we will look at different levels of dosage and the effect this has on the wine. Participants will have a chance to disgorge a bottle of English Sparkling Wine and put in their own preferred level of dosage followed by finishing the bottle with a cork and wire, foil and labels. In other words, you will get a chance to go some way to making your own bottle of fizz, for you to keep.

25th April, 2014, 6 – 9pm Hambledon Vineyard Tasting Room and Winery

Cost: Special offer for this event, £55 per person, including sparkling wine tasting, winery tour, evening of education and entertainment, canapés, and your own custom made (by you) bottle of fizz to take away.

Please note for any inquiries, tickets etc. reference the workshop please email Hambledon Vineyard directly or telephone them on 02392 632358.

Hambledon Vineyard Diary Dates

As well as the workshop on Friday 25th April, they are also running the workshop on the following dates later in the year. Book now to avoid disappointment.

Friday 25th July 2014
Friday 3rd October 2014
Friday 5th December 2014

This is a fantastic evening and well worth the money. Where else can you get a tour round a gravity fed winery and make your own sparkling wine in the UK? One of my colleagues attended a similar event in November 2013 and had a great time and made a fantastic zero dosage wine, the video below will give you an idea of what is involved.

You can read much more in Part 1 and Part 2 of my earlier blog posts about my visit to Hambledon Vineyard. Please have a look at Fareham Wine Cellar’s English Wine Selection.

World Whisky Awards 2014

2014 World Whisky Awards – Winners and medal winners available from Fareham Wine Cellar

The results of the 2014 World Whisky Awards have just been released, so I thought I would share the whiskies that we keep in stock that have prospered this year! Perhaps the most interesting result was the winner of the World’s Best Single Malt Whisky – Sullivans Cove French Oak Cask  – a single cask, single malt whisky from Tasmania finished in French oak. However, I am led to believe you will be lucky to find any now!

You can see the full list of result at the World Whisky Awards Website.

World Whisky Awards – Awards Winners 2014

World’s Best Blended Malt Whisky & Best Japanese Blended Malt 2014

Nikka Taketsuru 17 year old 43% Blended 70clCompass Box Peat Monster Blended Malt Whisky

This 17 year old whisky is named after founder of Nikka himself. A tropical nose with a touch of cherries and baked apples and a little toffee and smoke. Starts sweetly on the palate but soon the spice and oak kick in with heavier emphasis. The balance is maintained by the roundness and the touches of vanilla and mocha on the finish. Rich, big, malty and smoky with oaky notes.

Best Scotch Blended Malt 2014

Compass Box Whisky Peat Monster Blended Malt 46% 70cl

Rich and loaded with flavour: a bacon-fat smokiness, full-blown peat, a maltiness, hints of fruit and spice. The finish is very long, echoing peat and smoke for several minutes. A fantastic late-night digestif malt whisky. Also suitable for taking the chill off a cold day. Excellent with blue vein cheeses.

The World’s Best Grain Whisky 2014Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey, The Teeling Whiskey Company 46%

Teeling Single Grain Irish Whiskey is a small batch whiskey blend made from specially selected casks of grain whiskey. It undergoes a further maturation in old wine barrels which gives an extra sweet and fruity character to the whiskey.

Best European Rye Whisky 2014

Millstone 8 Year Old Rye Whisky, Baarle-Nassau, Zuidam Distillers 50%

Hand crafted in the traditional distillery that is owned and operated by the Zuidam Family. More than 50 years of experience in distilling of exclusive spirits and a constant search for perfection has led to the birth of this exquisite whisky.

The World’s Best Pot Still Whiskey and Best Irish Pot Still Whisky 2014

Jameson Redbreast 15 year old, Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey 46% 70cl

“Redbreast 12 year old is a classic pure pot still Redbreast 15 Year Old Pot Still Irish WhiskeyIrish whiskey, so where can one go from here? This new 15 year old expression is more muscular (bottling at 46% and not chill-filtered certainly helps.), but there are trade-offs. It’s a bit closed on the nose (like a great Bordeaux wine that’s too young). I do enjoy the silky/oily texture, the bold resinous oak spice grip on the finish, and the rich nutty toffee, fig, black raspberry, chocolaty, chewy nougat throughout the palate. Still, it’s not as eminently drinkable, refined or balanced as the 12 year old. (Imagine the 12 year old on steroids.)” Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92, from the Whisky Advocate Blog.

Best Irish Single Malt Whiskey 2014

Teeling Vintage Reserve 21 Year Old Irish Whiskey, The Teeling Whiskey Company 46%

“Tangerine, satsuma and grapefruit. The fruit displays a lovely, natural pithy quality along with some dense, herbal honey, lightly dusty oak and a little fish oils and leafy herbs. Luscious palate, complex and juicy with candies lemon peel, orange, grapefruit, barley and lashing of manuka honey. Gentle if slightly bitter spices build towards the middle but the juicy fruit and honey keeps the balance amazingly well.” Chris Goodrum, WWA2014


World Whisky AwardsGold Medal Winners 2014

Japanese Blended Malt Whisky 13 to 20 Years Hibiki 12 Year Old Suntory Whisky

Nikka Taketsuru 17 year old 43% Blended 70cl

Japanese Blended Whisky 12 Years and Under

Suntory Hibiki 12 Year Old Blended Whisky 50cl 43%

Japanese Blended Whisky No Age Statement

Nikka From The Barrel 51.4% Blended, Nikka 50cl

Irish Pot Still Whiskey 12 Years and Under

Redbreast 12 year old, Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Irish Single Malt 21 Years and Over

Teeling Vintage Reserve 21 Year Old Irish Whiskey, The Teeling Whiskey Company 46%

Irish Pot Still Whiskey 13 to 20 YearsThree Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt South African Whisky

Redbreast 15 year old, Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey 46% 70cl

European Rye Whisky 8 Years and over

Millstone 8 Year Old Rye Whisky, Baarle-Nassau, Zuidam Distillers 50%

African Single Malt 12 Years and Under

Three Ships 10 Year Old Single Malt South African Whisky 43% 75cl, James Sedgewick Distillery


World Whisky AwardsSilver Medal Winners 2014

Grain Whisky

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky Single Grain South African Whiskey 43% 75cl, James Sedgewick Distillery

European Single Malt 12 Years and Under

Millstone 12 Year Old Sherry Cask Single Malt Whisky, Baarle-Nassau, Zuidam Distillers 46%

Islay Single Malt 12 Years and UnderArdbeg 10 Year Old Islay Single Malt Whisky

Ardbeg 10 Year Old, Islay Single Malt, Non Chill Filtered 46%

Speyside Single Malt No Age Statement

Aberlour A’bunadh, Single Speyside Malt, Cask Strength 60.2% – Batch No. 45

Islay Single Malt No Age Statement

Ardbeg Uigeadail, Islay Single Malt, Non Chill Filtered 54.2%


World Whisky AwardsBronze Medal Winners 2014

Irish Blended Whisky No Age Statement

Teeling Irish Whiskey, The Teeling Whiskey Company 46%

Malbec World Day

Are you celebrating Malbec World Day this year?

Malbec World Day (MWD) takes place on the 17th April each year and took place for the first time in 2011. It is a concept that was created by Wines of Argentina with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade of Argentina. It is a day dedicated entirely to promoting the Malbec grape variety and its wines. Malbec World Day sees a whole range of tasting and wine event across the globe – in 2013, 106 events were held in 76 cities across 50 countries and there are even more planned for 2014.

Malbec World Day is also associated with Street Art and street artist including Run Don’t Walk, Jaz, Pum Pum, Panama Club, Planet Cees, Cekis and Clandestinos have created murals and street artworks in Mendoza, San Pablo, New York and London. As the Wines Of Argentina website says, “On this occasion Wines of Argentina has decided to highlight Malbec as an artistic and cultural expression and connect it with the communicative force of street art. Malbec will flood the streets around the world.”

Malbec World Day LogoWhy is Malbec World Day held on April 17th?

On April 17th 1853 a bill was submitted by the President, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, to the Argentine government for the foundation of Quinta Normal and a school of agriculture. This bill was a key step in the early days of Argentina’s viticultural history and in transforming the Argentine wine industry. Sarmiento charged French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget with the task of bringing new vines to Argentina. One of the grape varieties he introduced was Malbec in 1868. The rest, they say, is history.

Find out more at the Malbec World Day Website and don’t forget to check out my Chimichurri Sauce Recipe to go with a steak washed down with a glass of malbec.

Malbec Trivia

Malbec was first planted in the Lot Valley in South West France nearly 2000 years ago.

Malbec was introduced to Argentina in 1868 by French agronomist Michel Aimé Pouget.

Malbec was grown in 30 wine growing regions of France, today it is mainly found in Bordeaux and Cahors – it is still one of 6 red grape varieties allowed in the red Bordeaux wine.

Plantings of Malbec in France were decimated twice, once in 1889 by phylloxera and once on 1956 by a severe frost, after which a lot of vines were not replanted.

In Cahors, Malbec is often known as “Black Wine” due to its dark purple / black colour.

There are over 1000 synonyms for the Malbec grape variety including Auxerrois, Cot or Cot Noir, Pressac, Quercy, Agreste, Cahors, Gourdaux, Noir de Pressac, Teinturin et al.

Today Argentina has the largest surface area planting of Malbec vines followed, in decreasing size, by France, Chile, California, Washington, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, British Columbia, New York (Long Island), Oregon, Bolivia, Italy, Texas and Ontario.

Chimichurri Sauce Recipe

Chimichurri Sauce & Malbec World DayMalbec World Day Logo

Not many people know but April 17th is Malbec World Day.  So why am I posting a Chimichurri Sauce Recipe? Well, when people ask me what food Malbec goes best with, my answer is invariably lamb or beef, although it is a pretty versatile wine. Actually I think that you can’t beat Malbec and a good steak. Which is where this Chimichurri Sauce Recipe comes in. Chimichurri is an iconic Argentinian sauce for beef and, yes, I am aware that Malbec is grown in many other countries, but in recent years Malbec is clearly most identified with Argentina.

So what is Chimichurri Sauce?Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce is a herby, green sauce used for grilled meats originating from Argentina. It is not the only herby, green sauce from South America – there is also Llajua from Bolivia, Molho a Campanha from Brazil and a close relative from Mexico, Pico di Gallo – and I suppose their distant cousins would be Salsa  Verde and Sauce Verte or Persillade from Italy and France respectively.

Chimichurri Sauce can be considered to be Argentina’s national steak sauce. It is basically chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar – so perhaps it can be considered to be a sort of vinaigrette. Sometimes various additions are made such as cumin, thyme, lemon etc. Some people put some finely chopped onion in too. You can also make a red Chimichurri with the addition of tomato and red pepper. It is not really a very complicated sauce.

Originally it was probably made by the Gauchos, the cowboys of the pampas, who would probably have used dried herbs that they could take with them easily in a saddle bay. The combination of the vinegar, which helps to cut through any fattiness in the steak, and the herbs and garlic, which complement the beefy, meaty flavours have to be tried. And imagine this combination with a full, rich, plummy and spicy Malbec. You have to give it a go! Why not try it for Malbec World Day? You can now even buy bottled Chimichurri Sauce in the UK.

My Chimichurri Sauce RecipeChimichurri Sauce Ingredients

I don’t go mad with lots of extra ingredients, but I think the addition of a bit of thyme and some lemon zest just helps to give a little bit more character and the lemon zest lightens it up a bit.

1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped

6 to 8 cloves of  garlic, minced, grated or finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 or 2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped

Lemon zest, not much, about half a lemon’s worth

250ml Olive oil, I use an inexpensive extra virgin olive oil – you don’t want to use your finest for this, it’ll be swamped by the other ingredients

100ml Red wine vinegar, I use red wine vinegar because I make my own, you can use white wine or cider vinegar

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

If you like a bit of heat add half a teaspoon dried red chili flakes

Combine all the ingredients and seal in an airtight container. Whizz up in a food processer if you like. If it is too think add a bit of water to loosen it a little. I try and make it a couple of days in advance so the flavours combine together more. Once it is made, the Chimichurri Sauce can be kept in a sealed container in the fridge for a month or so. Just remember to take it out of the fridge to bring it to room temperature before serving.

Malbec Suggestions

Nieto Don Nicanor Malbec, Mendoza, Bodegas Nieto Senetiner

Trapiche Melodias Winemakers Reserve Malbec, Mendoza

Trapiche Single Vineyard Malbec Jorge Miralles, La Consulta, San Carlos, Mendoza

Raymond Reynolds Wine Tasting

Raymond Reynolds Wine Tasting Spring 2014

Tuesday 4th March 2014 @ Vinoteca, Beak Street, London

The UK wine trade’s favourite specialist Portuguese wine importer, Raymond Reynolds Ltd., held a couple of Portfolio wine tastings this year, one in Manchester, and the other wine tasting in Vinoteca restaurant in London – I was lucky enough to attend the tasting in London. There were a number of Portuguese producers represented from Raymond’s Portfolio and I thought I would share my highlights.

Raymond Reynolds Portfolio Wine Tasting Spring 2014 Raymond Reynolds Portfolio Wine Tasting Spring 2014 Raymond Reynolds Portfolio Wine Tasting Spring 2014 Raymond Reynolds Portfolio Wine Tasting Spring 2014

Quinta da Raza – Diogo and Mafalda Teixeira – Minho / Vinho Verde

I love the Raza Vino Verde. Quinta da Raza also produce a 100% Arinto and a 100% Alvarinho (floral with a slight salty tang!) but I found myself drawn to the Raza Vinho Verde 2013 (again!). It was pale green, clear, spritzy, fresh, floral – everything that that a good Vinho Verde should be.

Luis Pato – “The Rebel” of Bairrada – Beira / Bairrada

The Mario Gomes Espumante reminded me why I liked it the last time I tasted it, it has slightly stewed fruit notes but with good, clean and refreshing character at the same time. The most interesting wine from Pato, for me, was the Luis Pato Barrosa 2009, his top wine – 99% Baga and 1% white grape varieties including Bical – very elegant for a Portuguese red wine and not as dry as his 100 % Baga, the Vinha Pan. Luis says that 2009 was a difficult vintage for him because it was so hot, grapes were riper than usual and the alcohol crept up to 14.5% abv – when he likes to around 13.5% abv for all his wines. Having said that the Barrosa certainly had a good, viscous mouthfeel to it!

Contraste and Conceita – Rita Marques Ferreira – Douro

The surprise wine for me here was the Contraste Branco 2012, a blend of Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Códega and Viosinho, 30% Barrel Fermented. It was aromatic and fresh with good citrus notes and plenty of minerality. The Conceito Bastardo 2012 was also very good – I always describe it as a “Portuguese Barolo” – deceptively light in colour, lots of dried fruits, liquorice but very pure and elegant at the same time. I have written abouth this before -read more about Conceito Bastardo here. Rita’s top red wine, the Conceito Tinto 2011, was also very good – sourced from 80 year old vines, 50% aged in new French oak barrels.

Luis Lourenco – Quinta dos Roques / Quinta das Maias – Dao

What surprised me most at this wine tasting most were the white wines. The organic Quinta das Maias Branco 2012 and the Quinta dos Roques Encruzado 2012 were both particularly good. The Quinta das Maias Branco is a blend of Malvasia Fina, Cercial (Sercial), Verdelho and Encruzado and is a fresh citrus-y style with a good mineral background. The Quinta dos Roques Encruzado (100%) was a revelation – it oak aged, 65% in new French oak, bit the oak is perfectly well-balanced with the Encruzado’s fruity, citrus-y notes. The Quinta das Maias Tinto 2012 is always superb value for money (around £10 bottle), the 2012 is no exception.

Luisa Olazabal & Pedro – Quinta do Vale Meao – Douro

No surprise that the Quinta do Vale Meao 2011 was one of my favourite red wines of the wine tasting – it is always superb and 2011 seems to have been a very good vintage for them – it was packed with black fruit, milk chocolate, vanilla, dried fruit – with power and finesse at the same time. I had not tried the Quinta do Vale Meao Vintage Port before, needless to say the 2011 Port was excellent too – dark black / purple with hints of clove, prune, black fruit and a hint of smokiness on the nose. The palate it broad, plump and very well-balanced with hints of spicy liquorice. It would have been good to try this up against the other 2011 Vintage Ports.

Felipa Silva – Monte de Peceguina / Malhadinha Nova – Alentejo

The Malhadinha Nova Branco 2011 was a surprise – almost Burgundian in style – A Chardonnnay / Arinto / Viognier blend aged for 7 months in French oak. Rich, full-bodied with very well integrated oak. The Malhadinha Nova Tinto 2010 is a Alicante Bouschet, Tinta Miúda, Touriga Nacional and Cabernet Sauvignon blend aged for 17 months in oak – if the white reminded me of Burgundy, this was almost Bordeaux like with its herbaceous, blackcurrant character and toasty oak.

Nick Delaforce – Niepoort Vinhos – Douro

Nick Delaforce is the Port winemaker at Niepoort, he is also responsible for making the hugely successful Niepoort Drink Me. Four Niepoort Ports were the highlights of the wine tasting for me – the Tawny Dee, the Senior, the new Niepoort Crusted Port bottling and Niepoort Colheita 2001. Tawny Dee is a young Tawny Port which is a little bit older than their basic Tawny and is aged around 3 to 3.5 years age with a higher proportion of reserve wines. I love this Tawny because it is not very Tawny like!! It is still very red, fruity and very vibrant. The Niepoort Senior Tawny Port is around 7 to 7.5 years old and has really started to develop much more Tawny character, it is sweet and nutty with dried fruit, prunes, raisins and a lengthy spicy, tobacco-y finish.Very good stuff.

The star Port for me though was the new Niepoort Crusted Port. Dirk Niepoort only released his first Crusted Port in around 2009 and it was a blend of 2003 and 2005 vintage Ports bottled in 2007. This second bottling is a blend of mainly 2008 (80%) and 2007 vintage Ports and was bottled in 2011. It had a brilliant, dark ruby colour. The nose was packed full of blackberry and plum notes and the finish was full, with silky tannins, elegance and purity. Superb stuff, I can’t wait to get hold of some of this.

I was probably most surprised by the quality of the white wines. I have always been a fan of Portuguese red wines and these have been at the forefront of the development of Portuguese wines in the UK, quite naturally following on from Port. Perhaps the white wines have taken a bit of a back seat to the red wines in the past but, from what I have tried recently, they seem to be catching up rapidly. They are also made from unusual, indigenous grape varietes – Bical, Malvasia Fina, Arinto, Alvarinho et al. – great for the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd. It was also good to bump into Ben from Bat and Bottle Wine and finally put a face to the tweets of The Wine Detective a.k.a. Sarah Ahmed (@sarahwine).


What is Vermouth?

What is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavoured (or aromatized) with various botanicals. There are many types of Vermouth and the botanicals vary from producer to producer but will include a blend of roots, bark, flowers, herbs, spices and seeds. Vermouth is one of the most famous and classic cocktail ingredients and is particularly well known as an ingredient in the Martini and Manhattan cocktails. Originally the two main types of Vermouth were sweet and dry but today there are more types and styles including white (bianco), amber and rosé.

How is Vermouth Made?

All Vermouth is made in the same basic way – a low alcohol white wine is made which may or may not be aged briefly. If the Vermouth is to be sweet, sugar syrup is added to the wine prior to it being fortified with extra alcohol – this is normally a neutral grape spirit. After this the wine is then place in oak barrels with the dry botanicals and left to age, with occasional stirring, until it is ready for bottling. Red Vermouth is made by adding caramel colour. It is usually bottled at between 16% and 18% abv.

Antica Formula Vermouth Carpano Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth Label Dubonnet Red Vermouth, France Dubonnet Red Vermouth, France Quady Vya Californian Extra Dry Vermouth

Producers of Vermouth

The most famous Vermouth producers are Carpano (Punt e Mes and Antica Formula), Cinzano, Dubonnet, Gallo, Martini & Rossi, Noilly Prat and Tribuno but there are a number of smaller, more boutique producers. The French region of Chambery in the Savoie has been awarded an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) for its Vermouths which include Chamberyzette, which is a strawberry-flavoured version. More recently a number Vermouth producers have sprung up in the USA including Atsby from New York, Imbue from Portland and Vya made by Quady Wines in Madera County. California. Each of these is made from different ingredients and all have their own characteristics.

Uses of Vermouth

There are many cocktails that require Vermouth and these include the  Martini, Manhattan, Rob Roy, Negroni, Americano, Bronx and Gibson. In France it is often drunk neat. It is also an invaluable cooking ingredient and is used in many fish, pork and chicken recipes.

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