Vintage Report: Rhone 2016 - The Rolling Rhônes

Vintage Report: Rhone 2016 - The Rolling Rhônes

Monday 20th November 2017
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

As flippant as the title may seem, Rhône is certainly on a very serious roll.  2016 will go down as another great Rhône vintage.  As hard as it may be to believe, this vintage is as good as and, in many cases, better than, 2015.  


There is no hesitation from Southern Rhône growers:  Vieux Télégraphe describe it as “magical”, Beaucastel as “idylllic and exceptional,” while Barroche’s Julien Barrot recalls picking berries at harvest:  “Cinema grapes, they were so beautiful to look at!” So why all the excitement? It was a dry rather than an excessively hot vintage.  By and large days were sunny and nights cool.  Flowering was successful so the crop was of good size and ripening homogenous.  Rain in mid-September ensured that the vines completed their ripening cycle before harvest at the end of the month. Certainly when tasting the wines you get no sense of a stressed season. For these 2016s are flowing and silken.  Notable for their incredibly fine tannins, belying a discrete intensity, the wines have a generous, alluring quality to them with enough of a pique of freshness to provide lift.  Comparisons have been drawn with 1990, 2007 but most of all 2010.  Though it is every bit as good if not better than the latter, we feel it is a very different vintage.  Acidities are as fresh as 2010 but the wines feel more charming in 2016 and alcohol, surprisingly, was lower ranging between 14 to 14.5%. Many growers have made their most abundant and what they believe to be their best vintage.  A great year to tuck away in the cellar or drink young, avoiding, of course, Châteauneuf’s infamous adolescent period between three and eight years after bottle.

Champagne Philipponnat: A Clos des Goisses dinner

Champagne Philipponnat: A Clos des Goisses dinner

Friday 27th October 2017
by Julian Campbell

“I have pressed many grapes… but I have NEVER pressed a duck!” 

So went the words of Charles Philipponnat as he was whisked upstairs by Otto, owner and Maitre d’ of his eponymous restaurant on Gray’s Inn Road. “A duck yields a surprising amount of juice!” Charles exclaimed on his return to the table, having been pressed, quite literally into action, helping to operate the silver duck press that Otto uses to serve his legendary Canard a la Presse.

We were in the Private Dining room at Otto’s, a gem of a place, to celebrate 40 years of Clos des Goisses with a group of champagne aficionados. This was the very night after we’d released the epic 2008 on the roof-top of the Ham Yard Hotel, so Clos des Goisses was very much in the air. Other than exploring the famous longevity of Clos des Goisses and its incredible ability to enhance a meal, the rough theme of the evening was ‘8s (for obvious reasons), the oldest wine providing us a rare look at some magical bottles of 1978.

Bordeaux 2015: London UGC Tasting

Bordeaux 2015: London UGC Tasting

Wednesday 18th October 2017
by Tom Jenkins

The British wine trade descended on Lindley Hall in Westminster yesterday for the annual London UGC. It was the turn of the much anticipated 2015s to flaunt their newly bottled wares. And they didn’t disappoint!

In truth, this is not the most flattering time to display, often there is a bit of bottle shock that subdues the exuberant fruit one might recall from barrel tastings. The 2015s had no such issues. These are extrovert wines packed with sweet, succulent fruit, and swathed in gloriously generous tannins. There is certainly a more noticeable tannic structure post elevage, but this can only be a positive. Charming and delicious as these will be in their youth, they possess the presence to last for medium and even long-term drinking.

A Vinous Voyage: Three Days in Chile

A Vinous Voyage: Three Days in Chile

Wednesday 11th October 2017
by Alex Turnbull

I have just returned from Chile where I spent three incredible days visiting Viña Errázuriz whose illustrious portfolio includes icon wines Don Maximiano, Seña and Viñedo Chadwick. As part of a larger group of UK wine merchants and importers we were the guests of Eduardo Chadwick Claro, the fifth generation of Errázuriz and the visionary who set out in 1983 to rebuild the family firm. 


Eduardo is one of the most inspirational people I have had the chance to meet and, although he will be humble and say he is only half way there, what he has already accomplished for the reputation of Chilean wine is remarkable. With head winemaker Francisco Baettig accompanying us, it was a pleasure to spend three days with Eduardo learning about what makes these wines so special.


As with all wine regions, geography is important. Chile is a long and narrow country defined by its geographic barriers. Stretching over 4,300km and with desert to the north, the Andes Mountains to the east, Patagonia to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west Chile has, unsurprisingly, a wide range of climates. The Humboldt Current that descends from Peru creates a permanent chilling effect and when coupled with the South Pacific anticyclone a temperate Mediterranean climate forms in the middle of the country around Santiago. Predictably this is where most of Chile’s vineyards are found. 

Harvest Report: August Kesseler

Harvest Report: August Kesseler

Friday 22nd September 2017
by Julian Campbell

The team at August Kesseler share their news of the latest vintage direct from the domaine.

“Once again, the time has come! This year our harvest team set off rather early and we have actually already started harvesting the grapes.”  “Over the coming weeks our sole focus will be the grapes and the weather. Will it hold? What vineyard do we harvest first? What grapes will we let hang for a couple more days?  These are the decisions we take on our daily trips through the vineyards from Lorchhausen to Eltville and we are not just thinking of the refractometer (that measures the weight of the must) but also taking a good look at the grapes themselves.  Above all, we give them a try! The most important resources for any winemaker are his taste buds and his experience.”     

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