Burgfest: The 2015 Red Vintage

Burgfest: The 2015 Red Vintage

Tuesday 18th September 2018
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

The prospect of four mornings spent blind tasting some of the finest reds in the Cote d’Or would be a mouth-watering one to any Burgundy lover... 

...though the reality of tasting 244 embryonic red burgundies from one of the most tannic and deeply coloured vintages on record was a more sobering thought - the daunting idea of trying to retain an unflinching concentration to give each wine its fair chance whilst endless batteries of between four to nine wine flights come in, wave after to wave, to assault the senses. Fuelled by enough restorative baskets of bread and gallons of water, I would just about make it to the end, palate intact, I thought to myself.  And yet….  The 2015 confounded this and many other tasters in the room.  I was surprised by the openness, joy and energy I found in the wines, tasting them was a sheer pleasure from start to finish.  Make no mistake, this is a powerful and concentrated vintage, but one with a sense of balance.  Only a few wines displayed alcohols that were out of kilter. Equally some wines from some producers will always have harsh tannins, but for the most part I found the wines had nice contours  - tannins were fine-grained, even seamless in some cases.  Acidities were not obvious but you could sense the role they played in supporting the wines’ big structures. This is without doubt a vintage “de garde” but a classy one.

Domaine Bruno Clair: Our Man in Marsannay

Domaine Bruno Clair: Our Man in Marsannay

Thursday 13th September 2018
by Mark Dearing

Domaine Bruno Clair today concludes its grape harvest, one of the earliest in living memory. Like the rest of Europe, Burgundy has sweltered in the hot and dry summer of 2018. 

Reports suggest that less than a millimetre of rain has fallen since early June. Hot weather has really been the only concern though, coming soon after a series of complicated vintages marked by frost and hailstorms which posed far greater challenges for Burgundy’s vignerons. Nevertheless, thirty-three degrees centigrade in mid-September poses problems and the need to keep the freshly picked grapes as cool as possible is a concern. In Bruno Clair’s words though, “better too hot than wet.” 

The Vintage Report: Germany 2017

The Vintage Report: Germany 2017

Tuesday 28th August 2018
by Julian Campbell

Surprisingly good 2017s…a vintage to woo and charm, from intense Grosses Gewachs, to kaleidoscopic TBAs….


2017 was a vintage that threw up its fair share of challenges across Germany’s various winemaking regions– a summer like spring causing a super early start, frost, troubled flowering, hail for the unlucky, and early onset botrytis forcing a highly selective and early harvest.  Despite these conditions the ingenious Riesling grape, particularly in the hands of Germany’s greatest growers, by and large fared amazingly well. There are very many wines here that will not look out of place when viewed next to their sibling vintages of ’16 and ’15 – albeit in a markedly different style. And after all, isn’t that why we buy these wines year in and year out?

J&B Rare and Tusk Trust launch the J&B Rhino by Harland Miller

J&B Rare and Tusk Trust launch the J&B Rhino by Harland Miller

Wednesday 22nd August 2018
by Justerini & Brooks

'Hate's Outta Date!' Renowned artist Harland Miller creates J&B Rare rhino as part of the magnificent Tusk Trust Tusk Rhino Trail.

In the spirit of our history with conservation, and J&B Rare’s ‘Care for the Rare’, campaign, J&B Rare’s sponsored Rhino painted by Harland Miller will leave the stable and enter Trafalgar Square as part of the Tusk Rhino Trail.

The Tusk Rhino Trail highlights the ongoing threat from poaching to the survival of rhinos in Africa. As Justerini & Brooks conservation charity, J&B Rare is delighted to have sponsored Harland Miller’s creation, as part of Tusk Trust’s campaign. The crash of 21 colourful fibre-glass resin rhinos, have all been specially decorated, painted and embellished by notable artists and can be found across London’s most iconic locations.

A Tasting with Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards

A Tasting with Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards

Friday 6th July 2018
by Julian Campbell

We’ve been championing the wines from the ultra-remote Peay vineyard for a few years now. Planted in 1998, the vineyard turns 20 this year and quality levels have never been higher. 

The lion’s share of production goes to Pinot Noir, followed by Chardonnay and Syrah (alongside minute quantities of other varieties that don’t make it across the pond). The vineyard is nestled amongst huge redwoods, 600 feet above sea level, four miles from the coast and within the inversion layer. Effectively within the fog line, this a truly cool Californian vineyard whose year round temperatures are moderated in a meaningful way by the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. Contrary to being further in-land, out on the coast the higher you get the warmer it becomes. At 600 feet you hit something of a sweet spot, cool enough to moderate ripening but not so affected by fog as to be constantly battling mildew.  Being 600 feet lower than the lowest vineyards in the nearby Fort Ross and Seaview AVA, (home to the likes of Hirsch, Flowers and Martinelli) means that average yearly temperatures are 12-13 degrees lower at the Peay’s vineyard. That’s a meaningful drop. It is hardly surprising they were repeatedly told that ripening grapes would be a struggle out here and indeed today their tiny yields are testament to this perilous spot. Truly, this is winemaking on the edge.

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