Mixed Case

Appellations

Although only separated by some thirty miles; the Medoc and the Right Bank are very different stylistically, historically and culturally. The left bank is dominated by Cabernet plantings, largely due to the fast draining gravel found close to the Garonne estuary. St Emilion and Pomerol are predominantly planted with Merlot and a small smattering of Cabertnet Franc. These varieties thrive on the limestone slopes and clay plateau found around St Emilion and Libourne. In the Medoc one encounters vast, fairytale Chateaux surrounded by vast, flat vineyards. The Right Bank is a little less grand with more modest Chateaux or sometimes no Chateau at all. The topography of St Emilion and Pomerol are quite varied too. The flat planes beneath St Emilion produce unexceptional wines on sandy soils. The Cote of St Emilion affords vineyards a steep southerly exposure. It is here where limestone dominates that St Emilion really shines. As one moves towards Libourne from St Emilion the vineyards gently slope up towards the plateau of Pomerol. By Bordeaux standards the vineyards on the plateau have to be considered quite high altitude... The Medoc was classified in 1855 creating a hierarchy which is still relevant today. The first growths are more sought after and command higher prices than even before. Today, one can drive the short distance from Bordeaux town to the vineyards of St Emilion in a mere 45 minutes. However, before the advent of the car, trade was reliant on the Garonne and Gironde. Therefore, although Belair and Ausone were considered to be of similar quality and shared a similar status to that of Latour, Lafite and Margaux, they were not recognised in the 1855 classification. Pomerol now enjoys a reputation as one of the most exclusive appellations in the world. Their wines are perfumed, seductive and exude breed. They boast many household names such as Petrus, Le Pin, Evangile, Conseillante, Lafleur, Eglise Clinet and Trotanoy, however, serious winemaking is relatively new to this region. Until the '40s, Sauvignon Blanc dominated plantings and the appellation was considered a rather poor neighbour to the more illustrious St Emilion. Generalisations are difficult to make in Bordeaux given the vast number of Chateaux, the multitude of microclimates, winemakers, soils, subsoils, grape varieties and winemaking techniques. However, given the dominance of Cabernet on the left bank, wines tend to be structured, cool and ageworthy, whereas the Merlot biased wines from the right bank demonstrate a fleshy, approachable character, which affords earlier drinking.
Bourgogne or Burgundy is a wide-ranging generic appellation in eastern France that has been planted with the vine at least since Roman times, the earliest archaeological evidence coming from 2nd Century A.D. The region, now spanning up to 28,000 hectares, owes a lot to the work of Cistercian Monks in the 11th and 12th Centuries, particularly in the Côte d'Or, who were responsible for identifying some of the finest vineyard plots still in existence today. The appellation is large, stretching between the cities of Auxerre in the North and Lyon in the south and includes Chablis, the Côte d'Or (from where hail some of the world's finest examples of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), the Chalonnais, Maconnais and Beaujolais. Chardonnay is the main white grape planted, though there is still a fair amount of Aligote to be found if an ever decreasing amount, as well as tiny proportions of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Beurrot. For quality reds Pinot Noir is the dominant grape and the only permitted variety for the "Bourgogne Rouge" appellation controlee, there are plantings of Gamay too, though, which can be blended with a minimum one third Pinot Noir to make "Bourgogne Passetoutgrain." There is also the rarely seen Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire, which may include the Pinot Noir, Gamay, César, and Tressot varieties. This appellation also exists for whites, allowing a blend of Chardonnay, Aligoté and Melon de Bourgogne. Being such a big area style can vary enormously: From the steely, minerally white Bourgognes near Chablis to the rounder, more buttery offerings in the Maconnais. Very fine and extremely good value examples of red and white Bourgognes are made by many of the high quality estates in the Côte d'Or, the designated "Bourgogne" vineyards here being on the flatter less well-drained terrain the other side of the RN74 road to the villages and 1er Cru appellations. Some Bourgogne Rosé can also made be made but this is a tiny fraction of the red and white wine production.
Champagne is the world's original and most famous region for the production of sparkling wine. A range of styles are produced from the Non-Vintage, through Rose, Vintage and more recently a host of prestige, Vintage luxury cuvees. The three permitted grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Constantia is a historic wine-growing area in the southern suburbs of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa. The area has become synonymous with its world-renowned dessert wine "Vin de Constance".
Côtes du Rhône is a huge appellation spanning over 40,000 ha of the Rhône valley, ranging from pockets of vineyard skirting the Northern Rhône appellations to the flat, arid plateaux of the Southern Rhône. Most of the production comes from the South from the Grenache grape, however the other Châteauneuf varieties are permitted too. This vast swathe of vine-growing land is as big as AC Bordeaux and makes huge quantities of low-priced wine consumed in brasseries up and down France. Alot of the lower priced wines are made in a similar method to Beaujolais, carbonic or semi-carbonic maceration, which gives light wines of soft tannins and aromatic, but often confected fruit. The quality of these inexpensive wines is usually bland at best, however there are a number of great wine estates from the more solubrious parts of the Rhône, particularly Châteauneuf-du-Pape, who make very good examples at a fraction of the price of their top wines. The vast majority of the production is Red, followed by rosé, very little white wine is produced. All but the wines from the greatest wine-producers are for drinking within 1-3 years after the vintage.
The Douro valley is the home of Port production and is one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world. The vineyards follow a band of Schist along the valley rising up in steep terraced slopes from the river. Upstream lies Spains Ribera del Duero. Increasingly, unfortified wines are produced here, but it is really for great vintage port that the region is known.
A town in the Côte de Nuits producing some of Burgundy's most renowned red wines. With 400ha of vineyard area this is the largest wine-producing region in the Côte d'Or. Gevrey-Chambertin's wines are typically some of the sturdiest in the Côte de Nuits, certainly bigger and heavier than those of close neighbours Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny. As such the best examples require a longer bottle-ageing to show at their best, however whilst the best examples rate as highly as those of Vosne-Romanée and Chambolle-Musigny, being a large commune there are all too many disappointing wines that lack the ripeness structure and power they should have. Fortunately there are a number of top class growers making Gevrey, including Armand Rousseau, Denis Mortet, Bruno Clair, Drouhin-Laroze, Trapet, Rossignol-Trapet, and Denis Bachelet.
Gevrey also boasts eight grands crus, perhaps too many!, the finest of which are Chambertin and Chambertin-Clos de Bèze. Whilst it is questionable whether some of these are worthy of their Grand Cru status, Gevrey also boasts two Premiers Crus, the region's best, considered worthy of elevation to Grand Cru status. These are Les Cazetiers and Clos St-Jacques, a particularly fine bottling of the latter is produced by Domaine Armand Rousseau, who charge more for their Clos St-Jacques than for several of their other Grands Crus.
Madeira is a beautiful island located off the coast of Portugal famed for its dazzling array of fortified wines. Discovered by happy accident, it undergoes a fairly brutal ageing process which bizarrely renders the final wine not only highly delicious, but also as age-worthy as just about any wine in existence. 18th century trans-Atlantic voyages saw barrels of astringent wine fortified with a bucket or two of local brandy, a process these days replicated with long barrel ageing in specially constructed hot stores called Estufas. This process of repeated heating and cooling, a sure death knell for any other wine, produces wines that run from aperitif to digestif, with broad swathes of intense flavour always tempered by a keen blade of uplifting acidity.
Meursault is the largest commune in the Côte de Beaune (spanning over 370ha) producing predominantly white wines. There are no Grand Cru vineyards, but its Premier Crus can equal the best white wines in the Côte de Beaune. The finest vineyards are Les Perrières, Les Genevrières, and Les Charmes. In addition Meursault has a plethora of other named vineyards that aren't Premier Cru but nonetheless show their own distinct characteristics and can offer excellent value, some of the best are Chevalières, Tessons, Clos de la Barre, Luchets, Narvaux, and Tillets. These are lower-lying than the Premiers Crus but are much more interesting than the villages wines of Puligny where the water table is higher. The low water-table is also the reason why some of the region's deepest cellars can be found in Meursault. The commune is big so the style and quality are varied. Generally speaking Meursault is known for its full body and, nutty, buttery character. The best examples have enough vitality and acidity to balance out the 'fat.'
The Cabernet Sauvignon domanates the appellation, in fact some might justifiably call Pauillac the most classical expression there is of Cabernet based Claret. It is sandwiched between St-Julien to the south and St-Estèphe to the north, a stone’s throw from the Gironde Estuary. The excellent drainage of the intensely gravely soils are the key to quality, producing some of the world’s most long-lived wines. The First Growths of Latour, Lafite and Mouton-Rothschild are found here, while other great Châteaux include Pichon Baron, Pichon Lalande, Pontet Canet, Lynch-Bages and Grand-Puy-Lacoste.
A commune in Burgundy renowned for producing the most powerful and tannic red wines of the Côte de Beaune. A dearth of good producers actually in Pommard has perhaps meant that the commune has not always realised its true potential. There are some very fine examples from, amongst others, Comte Armand, however many of the best Pommards seem to be made from producers outside of the village. The cool, moist heavy clay soils result in strong, muscular wines designed for ageing which are deeper in colour and usually more structured than those of its neighbour, Volnay.

Pommard spans from the border of Beaune to, on the south side, the edge of Volnay. On the Beaune side, the finest vineyards are Les Pézerolles and Les Épenots, including the Clos des Épeneaux monopole of Comte Armand. Towards Volnay is Les Rugiens, wines from the lower section, known as Les Rugiens Bas, are considered to have the potential to be the communes best and there are those who feel it is justified elevation to Grand Cru status.
Three grape varieties are planted: Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle. Sémillon is the principal grape, because it is especially susceptible to noble rot, Sauvignon is used for its naturally high acidity, whilst tiny proportions of the capricious Muscadelle are used for aromatic qualities. Sweet wine has been made here at least since the late 18th century. Its position is unique, close to two rivers, the broad Garonne and its small tributary, the Ciron. In autumn, the cool Ciron waters flow into the warmer tidal Garonne, evening mists develop that envelop the vineyards until late morning the following day, after the sun has burnt the mist away all that is left is moisture on trhe grapes that encourages noble rot or Botrytis cinerea. This fungus attacks grapes, causing them to shrivel, concentrating flavour sugars and acids. The wines were classified in 1855, the most prominent of which is Château Yquem, whose yields even in a vintage where noble rot is prominent, reach no more than 10 hl/ha.
The most productive wine region in Australia, with just under 50% of all grapes grown, grown here. It includes the regions of Barossa, Mclaren Vale, Connawarra and the Clare Valley.
St-Émilion is a very different region to those of the Médoc, dominated by small-holding farmers and estates rather than grand Châteaux. Merlot is widely planted as is Cabernet Franc in some parts. The wines are enormously variable in style depending on the terroir, the grape variety make-up and winemaking style. Loosely the region is divided between the limestone Côtes, Graves or gravelly limestone plateau or the sandy alluvial soils nearer the Dordogne. Traditionally Médoc wines were trade from Bordeaux and St Emilions from Libourne so they have their own classification system separate to that of 1855. The classification is revised every ten years and falls into four categories, St Emilion, St Emilion Grand Cru, St Emilion Grand Cru Classé and St Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classé
Most of the district's best properties are either on the steep, clay-limestone hillsides immediately below the town or on a gravelly section of the plateau west of St Emilion itself abutting Pomerol. There are several high profile estates in the region, including Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Figeac, Le Dôme, Valandraud and Pavie.
St-Julien may not have any first growths like its neighbour Pauillac but has a raft of high-performing Châteaux in its ranks, second through to fourth growths, Including Ducru-Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases, Léoville-Poyferré, Léoville-Barton.
Gruaud-Larose and Talbot. For many St-Julien is quintessential claret, robust, powerful but refined subtle and poised. Gravelly soils dominate, hence wide plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot.
Stellenbosch is the second oldest wine region in South Africa (after Constantia), established in 1679. Made up of five wards whose characteristics vary greatly, the dominant feature of the zone is the influence of the atlantic breeze sweeping in and keeping a check on the African heat. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Pinotage are the regions best known varieties, but Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are also seeing some measure of success. Vineyards at a little altitude, aided by the atlantic breeze, are producing wines that marry New World charm with old world elegance.
One of the most interesting wine regions in the world, Tokaj has a grand history of wine-making going back more than 500 years. The sweet wines produced here are these days considered to be some of the greatest and most distinctive in the world.
A commune in the Côte de Nuits that is home to some of Burgundy's and the world's finest examples of Pinot Noir. Vosne-Romanée villages, an appellation that encompasses the villages wines of neighbouring commune Flagey-Échézeaux, can be very good value. In addition to these there some excellent Premiers Crus vineyards and six Grands Crus, three of which share the name Romanée, the suffix to which Vosne was hyphenated in 1866. Right accross the appellation from village to Grand Cru the wines share a very distinctive combination of richness and silkiness that Vosne-Romanée has so successfully built its reputation on.

The Grands Crus are Romanée-Conti, La Romanée, La Tâche, Richebourg, Romanée-St-Vivant, and La Grande Rue. Between them they produce, with Musigny and Chambertin, the greatest wines of the Côte de Nuits. They have more finesse than any other but nonetheless show as much power and intensity as their nearest rivals. The Premiers Crus wines can be world class, too, amongst the best of them being, Aux Malconsorts, next door to La Tâche, Clos des Réas, Cros Parantoux made famous by Henri Jayer which lies above Grands Crus, Aux Brûlées of which a fine example is made by Méo-Camuzet, and Les Beauxmonts and Les Suchots next door to Flagey-Échézeaux.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is and has been one of the great names that dominates the commune, however the late Henri Jayer must surely rival if not surpass them in terms of influence and reputation. Apart from making some of the most startling examples of Vosne and Échézeaux, Henri influenced a whole generation of great young wine-growers who are now doing extremely well. The village's other great Domaines are Domaine du Comte-Liger Belair, Domaine Leroy, that includes part of the former Domaine Nöellat, Anne Gros, Jean Grivot, Méo-Camuzet, Sylvain Cathiard and the recently revived Domaine François Lamarche.