Wednesday 30 June
French wine sales are suffering at the hands of the Australians, Californians, Italians and South Africans in the UK. To add insult to injury, English wines are beating them at their own game: the International Wine Challenge (IWC) has just announced Camel Valley’s 2008 Pinot Noir Brut has taken the sparkling rose trophy ahead of the Champenois. This is another kick in the teeth for the Champagne region, after poor sales in 2009.
What I like most about the competition is the value awards. As a tight northerner, the price of decent wines can make my eyes water. Finding a great wine under a tenner certainly improves my mood. And my dad, a Liverpudlian (an even more notoriously tight lot), will be making a special trip to the supermarket to fill up on bargains when he sees the results (although not to Waitrose, as they haven’t made it as far north as my hometown yet)
So, what are the stars I’ll be sending my dad out to buy:-
Oloroso Trophy winner: Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Oloroso 12 year old for a mere £6.49
La Différence Carignan 2009, France, £5.81, France, Tesco.
Moon Bridge Riesling 2009, Australia, £5.49, Marks & Spencer
Domaine Villargeau Sauvignon Blanc 2009, France, £9.99, Majestic Wine Warehouse
Falanghina Campania 2009, Italy £9.99, Laytons, Oddbins
English wine gets boost from AXA head
Saturday 18 July
Christian Seely, managing director of AXA Millesimés, which owns properties like Quinta do Noval and Tokaji’s Disznoko, is setting up an English sparkling wine project. In less than an hour from the pandemonium of Waterloo station, I was in his new tranquil vineyard to find out more.
Seely has set up the venture independently of AXA (apparently AXA weren’t interested in English vineyards) with an old friend who used to work in banking, Nicholas Coates.
The Hampshire vineyard has 5 hectares of 15 year-old Pinot Noir and German vines. The German varieties will be grafted over with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay later this year. This spring, Seely brought over his Douro vineyard workers to plant a further 7ha of the Champagne varieties on a south-east facing chalk slope (apparently the Bordelais soil analyst told the pair “vous avez le sol Champenois”).
A farm building on the property is being converted to a winery in time for the harvest and Seely’s winemaking wife will be making the base wines (I may be lending a hand this autumn!). Consultants from Champagne will be brought in to oversee the sparkling wine process.
The first wine should be released in time for Christmas 2011. Seely says he plans to have both a rosé and a white sparkling wine; vintage and non-vintage cuvées.
There are hopes for a cellar door and a website is promised. Seely’s even planning a blog to keep us updated but he’s drawing the line at twitter!
For more information, see my article on decanter.com.