Bordeaux 2018 - A Roller Coaster Vintage

Bordeaux 2018 - A Roller Coaster Vintage

Monday 15th April 2019
by Tom Jenkins

There were no magic micro-climates in 2018. This simple analysis of the vintage is the same from St Estephe to Castillon. This is one of the great turn-around stories, from despair to elation, but it was anything but straightforward. Nicolas Audebert from Rauzan Segla and Canon coined it the ‘Grand Huit’, or a rollercoaster. Even when summer arrived, this brought its own challenges. Water stress is necessary to make great red wines, however, those without clay subsoils were at risk of hydric stress and the dangers of blocked maturity. 

After a natural crop thinning by virtue of mildew, the vines were not carrying an abundance of fruit. Most vignerons didn’t do much in the way of green harvests and many did minimal canopy thinning. What was on the vine was very healthy with thick skins and wonderful potential. 

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 1)

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 1)

Wednesday 10th April 2019
by Mark Dearing

Fresh from a tour of the Cape winelands I feel animated as never before about the wines of South Africa. Not only is this the most exciting wine producing country in the “New World” in my view, it is a country with a rich cultural history and heritage unlike any other.

Despite a winemaking legacy that originated in Constantia in the late 1600s, what we consider now as the beginning of the modern era began in 1994 at the end of apartheid and the country’s re-emergence at an international level. Well-established wine estates such as Kanonkop, Meerlust, Vergelegen, Rustenberg, Boschendal, Hamilton Russell, Klein Constantia, Rust en Vrede and others were reinvigorated and set the tone for the new, outward looking wine industry, building more established, consistent brands that became reasonably successful. Unfortunately, that did little to stem the tide of the newly tradeable, poor-quality bulk wine from virus-ridden vineyards that was still to mark South Africa’s card for at least the next decade. The political and economic freedoms in the new South Africa would not herald the rebirth of a truly great wine industry for a few years yet. For in the post-apartheid decade, it’s fair to say that priorities, naturally, laid more in building improved legal and political infrastructures, curbing entrenched racial and economic inequality, and refining the country’s reputation on the world stage; issues that endure to this day and that no other serious wine producing country needs to face up to in quite the same way.

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 2)

South Africa: Brave New World (Part 2)

Wednesday 10th April 2019
by Mark Dearing

Ten years ago, there were just four single-varietal Cinsaults on the market. Eben Sadie’s Pofadder, from schist soils around Riebeeck Casteel, was the most famous then, and probably still is now. 

However, today there are at least forty straight Cinsaults on the market and based on what I tasted, this feels like a sensible development. Not only is Cinsault accustomed to hot weather and dry conditions, it is a high yielding variety and regarded now as one of the main reasons why the Cape red blends of the mid-twentieth century have aged better than their modern Bordeaux-style counterparts. When delicately handled, Cinsault can be red fruit forward, spicy and succulent, with an authenticity built on tannin rather than acidity. While some examples, such as “Pofadder” manage to straddle complexity and depth with dancing aroma, most are best when produced in a primary, light and fruity style where the natural tannic grip stops short of astringency. A renewed focus on Cinsault in general means that the vineyards are generally either very young or very old (and thus increasingly hard to come by) as the unpopularity of Cinsault in the latter part of the twentieth century meant that new plantings ground to a halt. My preferred examples were Duncan Savage’s silky Follow the Line 2017 from alluvial soils around Darling and Blank Bottle’s My Koffer 2017, produced in homage to Tassenberg – a cheap Cinsault they drank lots of as students. The name My Koffer translates as “my suitcase” and represents the memories of the good-old-days stored within. From a vineyard in the Breedekloof, just outside Paarl, in a region dominated by co-operatives, this Cinsault is a wilder strawberry, herbal-spicy affair. Donovan Rall’s as yet unreleased 2018 from a vineyard on the border between Swartland and Darling is an incredibly satisfying juicy example aged for just 6-7 months in a combination of concrete and barrel.

Bordeaux week

Bordeaux week

Tuesday 26th March 2019
by Tom Jenkins

Justerinis’ Bordeaux week 2019 opened with a star-studded line up at BAFTA. There were gongs aplenty and the only talk of raspberries, was being used to describe the delicate fragrance wafting from the glasses. 

For many guests, this was their first experience of the much vaunted 2016 vintage, and by the reactions, they lived up to expectations and some. Our own team who have tasted these wines from barrel and bottle were equally enthralled – they just keep getting better and better. Initially they were not as flamboyant as the glitzy 2015s, but as their predecessors have closed down a touch and are showing more of their structure, the 2016’s fruit is purity and class. They display an effortless grace that is so seductive you just want to drink them now, although that would be a huge mistake – these have all the hallmarks of a great, age worthy vintage. 

Whisky:  The 39 Year Old Port Ellen

Whisky: The 39 Year Old Port Ellen

Wednesday 13th March 2019
by Tod Bradbury

This April, Port Ellen will unveil the oldest liquid to be release from their stock and made available to the public. Port Ellen: Untold Stories The Spirit Safe. 

A 39-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky and the first exclusive release in a series of high aged whiskies from this revered distillery. The Port Ellen Untold Stories Series is an exploration into the innovative and trailblazing background of this iconic Islay distillery. Closed over thirty years ago in 1983, set to remain silent for all time, it is now to be reopened in 2021. While the world waits for it to start production again, only a finite amount of its original stock remains, having gained cult status with collectors and connoisseurs alike.

The 39-Year-old will represent one of the last chances to own a piece of Port Ellen history, before the distillery begins creating new legendary whiskies. The ultimate expression of Islay, the copper stills that made this unique tasting malt may be long gone, but the people of the Port Ellen distillery carefully kept these memories alive.  Distilled in 1978, this elegant and complex Single Malt Scotch Whisky, expertly married from a selection of ex US-Bourbon and ex European Sherry refill casks, is one of extraordinary character.

Older Posts >