Volcanoes and Pine Barrels

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In March 2019 I had the good fortune to be invited to visit the Canary Islands by Gabriel Santós of La Laguna University in Tenerife. At the university I met young winemakers, and tasted and discussed their red, white and rosé wines.

With young winemakers of the Canaries

I also visited a few vineyards, where, because of the region’s isolation from the mainland, phylloxera never arrived in the Canary Islands, meaning that vines can be hundreds of years old, often trained using traditional methods.

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The 2019 Coteaux Varois Tasting

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Tasting the wines of Provence has been a bit erratic this year. While Côtes de Provence had a stand at both WineParis (11-13 February) and Prowein (17-19 March), the 2018 vintage had often only just been bottled and were still quite young and closed. My preferred time for tasting the new vintage rosés is later in the spring, often at the generic appellation tastings, usually in April. However, for various reasons, the appellations of Côtes de Provence and Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, have chosen not to hold their annual tasting in 2019, leaving only Coteaux Varois to present their wines.

The appellation of Coteaux Varois

The Coteaux Varois annual tasting is always held in the gardens of the Alain Ducasse restaurant at La Celle in Brignoles, due to the fact that the Maison des Vins is in part of the same old monastic building. In past years, the tasting has fitted neatly into the small garden in the corner of the old monastery, giving it a neat back drop and a certain elegance, with colour co-ordinated ice bags and bunches of flowers, giving the tasting fantastic visual appeal. See earlier posts. Continue reading

Moving on from Bull’s Blood

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At the end of February I was invited to talk at the XIX Vine and Wine Conference at the Károly Esterházy University in Eger, on marketing Hungarian wine in a global context. Some of my research highlighted the fact that after Tokaj, Bull’s Blood was the most well known Hungarian wine in many countries. It also indicated that Bull’s Blood had a reputation for wine in the cheaper bulk wine category, with many wines generically labelled ‘Bull’s Blood’.

Ceiling of the conference hall at the Károly Esterházy University

The successful marketing campaign for Bull’s Blood refers to the legend of when the Ottoman Turks believed the Hungarians were drinking blood to fortify themselves before battle when they saw the red wine stains on their beards. Today, it is largely the entry level wines which are called Bull’s Blood: blended reds which are bottled in Eger. Mostly, serious Eger producers choose to call their wines by the Hungarian name bikavér, with maybe a passing nod to a bull on the label, such as those of Ferenc Tóth and János Bolyki. Continue reading

Musings on Wine and Brexit

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Ben Bernheim, grew up in France and is a recent graduate from Edinburgh University, Scotland, with an MA in Economics and Economic History.  He was a member of the winning tasting team for the Edinburgh Wine Society. He is currently spending the summer working in a few Israeli vineyards.

A year ago, I was asked to write something on the economic impact on the wine trade of Brexit. I didn’t. Partially because I’m lazy, but mostly because I didn’t have the foggiest what would actually happen. At the time, I don’t think anyone did. Twelve months and a general election later, that’s still the case. Continue reading

Kadarka, Cadarca, Gamza

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Based on a post first written and posted for Blue Danube Wines and a masterclass at RoVinHud in Romania, November 2016. Updated 16 March 2017 following a Kadarka tasting in Szekszárd.

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Line up of Kadarka wines from Romania, Serbia and Hungary at my masterclass RoVinHud in Romania

Hungary is increasingly looking to its vinous history and indigenous varieties. There is a growing number of winemakers, who, with the help of research institutes like the one at Pécs, are replanting varieties which were almost lost during the phylloxera epidemic. Kadarka is one of those varieties now seeing a revival. It also happens to be my current favourite variety. Continue reading

353 Shades of Rosé

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Last month I had the exciting – and rare – opportunity of tasting an amazing selection of 353 still rosés from around the world. This proved a glorious spectacle of the most amazing shades of pink – forget 50 – this was far more dazzling. The range of colours was an easy reason why this sector of the wine market has so attracted the consumer; who is not enchanted by a glass of shell-like pink or glowing ruby wine, lit up by sun- or candle-light?

Tasting Rosés at The Drinks Business Rosé Masters

Jonathan Pedley MW tasting Rosés at The Drinks Business Rosé Masters

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Rosé 2015 Tasting from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence

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On a cold grey blustery day in early April, I made my way to the Salon du Millesime 2015 Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence held at the Hotel Renaissance in Aix-en-Provence. This is the only one of the repertoire of Provence tastings which takes place in the evening, from 4 to 9pm.

In my post last year of the rosé 2014 vintage, I summed up the different regions of Coteaux d’Aix and noted how the four different terroirs had an impact on the styles of Coteaux d’Aix rosés. This year, the tasting table clearly indicated from which region each wine came from, which help tasters recognise regional styles. Sommelier Nadine Rosier was on hand to discuss the wines.

The rosé tasting table

The rosé tasting table with colour-coded labels to indicate regions

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Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu Rosé 2015

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In 2013, the 4th sub-appellation of Côtes de Provence, Côtes de Provence Pierrefeu, was announced for red and rosé wines, adding to La Londe, Ste Victoire and Fréjus.

Cotes de Provence Pierrefeu in darker purple

Cotes de Provence Pierrefeu in darker purple

Launching a new appellation is no easy process. This took some ten years, which is not atypical. In 2003 some 30 producers (including 4 co-operatives) in the triangular region of Pierrefeu-Cuers-Puget-Ville came together to promote their belief that the largest area of production within the larger Côtes de Provence appellation had a distinctive character worthy of a sub-appellation.

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A Bouquet of Tibouren Rosés

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Tibouren is regarded by many in Provence as the traditional variety for making rosé, unique to the area. Tibouren is a pale-skinned grape, suited to making rosé, as it allows for fuller fruity character to be developed without extracting lots of colour. An early ripening variety, it seems to do best in sunnier sites, usually the hotter coastal regions which also benefit from damper maritime winds. Plantings have never been extensive (currently around 450ha), as it is regarded as slightly temperamental, with susceptibility to coulure (poor fruit-set after flowering), and irregular yields. Most Tibouren is from old vines. DNA analysis suggests a close connection with the equally rare Rossese which makes red wine in Dolceacqua, just over the border from Nice in western Liguria, Italy. Continue reading