Posts Tagged ‘Blanc’

White from white.

 

Much as we admire the op art of Bridget Riley, the films of Francois Truffaut and the frocks of Mary Quant, sometimes we grow tired of black and white. Two decidedly colorful champagne styles have overstated their case for decades. Champagne labelled blanc de blancs literally means ‘’white from whites” which is to indicate the wine is a white colour made from white grapes. Actually the wines should be dubbed jaune de verts because they are pale yellow and made from green hued grapes. By law in Champagne, blanc de blancs can only be produced from chardonnay and most other sparkling wine producers around the world follow this tradition as well.

Blanc de blancs is the new kid in Champagne, having been around only about 85 years of Champagne’s three century history. The first blanc de blancs was produced in 1920 by Eugèn-Aimé Salon, the founder of the highly collectible house of Salon. Two decades later, Taittinger launched its beloved blanc de blancs, Comtes de Champagne, and the rest is history. Blanc de blancs is now produced by most of the famed Champagne houses including Billecart-Salmon, Deutz, Charles Heidsieck, Jacquesson, G.H. Mumm, Bruno Paillard, Philipponat, Pol Roger, Louis Roederer and Ruinart amongst others on the Hong Kong market. Salon and Krug (Krug Clos du Mesnil) produce full-bodied blanc de blancs, but otherwise expect blanc de blancs to be light, dry and elegant. Its ethereal character and graceful finesse makes blanc de blancs a superb aperitif and ideal partner with seafood and fish. But don’t drink these wines when young as they’ll take the enamel off your teeth. Blanc de blancs requires at least 2 fashion cycles to mature, developing admirable character and complexity about 8-10 years from their vintage date.

 

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on the rise ...

On the rise …

 

It used to be the drink reserved for a hot summer’s day but now consumers are increasingly turning to Rose wine throughout the year with sales up 10 per cent in the last 13 years.

Rose now accounts for a record one in eight bottles of wine bought in supermarkets and off-licences, up from one in 40 in the year 2000.

Sales of rose wine in shops are currently worth £646 million in Britain, nearly £1.8 million a day, according to figures from market analysts Nielsen.

While growth in rose wine buying has slowed in recent years – attributed to poor summer weather – experts believe it is becoming a drink that is enjoyed all year round.

It is especially popular among women drinkers on a night out or sharing a bottle at home with friends.

Some winemakers have specifically targeted women drinkers by making less strong varieties with a typical alcohol by volume level of nine or 10 per cent, compared with other wines which can be up to 14 per cent in some cases.
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Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

Sauvignon blanc vines from Marlborough, New Zealand.

 

Few words in the UK wine market provoke a reaction as polarising as “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc”.

For a host of consumers those heady aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry and the entire spectrum of fruit salad ingredients in between act like catnip. Among others, however, including many in the trade itself, it is possible to detect a degree of fatigue with New Zealand’s hugely successful flagship style.

This latter camp saw its numbers swell when the bumper 2008 vintage saw shelves flooded with discounted stock. On top of oversupply came the observation from several corners that quality was slipping as fast as the prices. Just as this golden goose was starting to look decidedly wobbly on its feet, New Zealand’s producers regrouped, rallied and within just a few years have taken major strides towards revitalising the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc landscape.

At a mainstream level, the classic style is clearly going stronger than ever – just visit a UK supermarket and compare the shelf space dedicated to this single combination of variety and region with the area allocated to other entire countries. Against this backdrop of stability, however, many Marlborough producers have now identified an opportunity – a need even – to shake up the stereotype and show what else they can do.
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Durbanville Hills cellar 01

 

 

From its first vintage 15 years ago, Durbanville Hills Wines, which is located on the Tygerberg Hills and overlooks Table Mountain and Table Bay, has produced some of the best received super premium wines in the country.

Cellar master Martin Moore, who was appointed in 1998 when the cellar was still in the early stages of construction, reminisces fondly of the first vintage and the memorable wines produced in 1999.

“When the first grapes were delivered to the presses, work had not even started on that part of the building which today houses the maturation cellar, restaurant and wine-tasting area.

“But regardless of the challenges both the Luipaardsberg Merlot and the Biesjes Craal Sauvignon blanc from our first vintage received double gold at Veritas while the Durbanville Hills Chardonnay was awarded gold. During that first vintage just over 3 000 tons of grapes were pressed. Within a few short years production moved up to reach the cellar’s full capacity of 8 000 tons,” says Moore.

“Over the years we have extended our product range to showcase the diverse terroir of the area. During the 15 years we have created a number of what I believe are quite remarkable wines; wines which in my view truly capture the unique flavour spectrum found on our valley slopes.”

Durbanville Hills has over the years become particularly known for its top-quality Sauvignon blanc, due also to the cool-climate location of its production units which all enjoy ideal conditions for growing this cultivar.

“During the summer months and then mostly in the late afternoon, the southeaster , blows off False Bay over the Cape Flats, bringing with it cool, moist air. The wind is surprisingly cold as it comes sweeping over the contours of the hills, cooling down the vineyards even on the hottest day. And when the southeaster is not blowing, a westerly wind coming off the cold Atlantic produces the same results,” says Moore.

Sauvignon blanc is represented across the cellar’s three wine ranges. All of them regularly receive awards at national and international competitions. Although the wines can be enjoyed immediately, the winery’s Sauvignon blancs are known for their longevity, with the Biesjes Craal in particular lasting for up to ten years.

The wines are available from the cellar and leading liquor outlets and retail for about R52 in the case of the 2012 Durbanville Hills Sauvignon Blanc and R85 for the 2012 Rhinofields Sauvignon Blanc while you should expect to pay about R115 for the 2012 Biesjes Craal Sauvignon Blanc.

 

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The wine trade’s recent rhapsody in pink has resulted in a rosé marketing binge which can confuse as well as entice.

Not so long ago, rosé was just a swimming pool wine: slippy and thirst-quenching, a frivolous herald of summer weather. Then it became popular. We all started to drink pink, even the French, who don’t just knock back getting on for twice as much rosé as they do white wine, but also more rosé than they make: over a third of the pink wine produced on the planet is consumed in France.

 
Now rosé is also chic. And as always along with chic comes prestige, high prices – and Brangelina, whose 6,000-bottle release of the first vintage of rosé from their Château Miraval bolt-hole in Provence (€105/£88 for a six-bottle case) sold out within five hours when it went online earlier this month.

 
Oh la la. Does rosé just have delusions of grandeur or is it actually grand? You can now buy the still stuff in (increasingly expensive thanks to the cost of the glass) yacht-christening sizes: magnums, jeroboams, clanking great nine-bottle-big methuselahs. Pink champagne, which once had all the class of a hen-night stretch limousine, is now super-smart – and super-expensive.

 
And then there’s the performance of flogging rosé “en primeur” à la Brangelina, often before the wine has even been bottled, for all the world as if this pale-pink mayfly of a wine were a fancy first growth or limited-production burgundy – which seems presumptuous beyond belief.

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After 6 weeks of working 15 hour days, the wine harvest in the Durbanville area is in final hour!

Here is a view photographs snapped on my iphone 5:

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Moët Hennessy's first winery in China

Moët Hennessy’s first winery in China

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Moet Hennessy has declined to comment on reports suggesting its new winery in China is set to open by June.

The new US$5.5m winery in the Ningxia Hui region of north-west China will see its first wines hitting shelves next year, according to a report on the website Asia Travel Tips. Premium sparking wines will be produced under the company’s Chandon brand name.

The 6,300 sqm facility will feature a fully operational winery, fermentation cellars, tasting rooms and luxury visitor centre,

When contacted by just-drinks today (15 January), however, a Moet Hennessy spokesperson declined to comment on the report.
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New research “empowers” sauvignon blanc producers.

It’s hard to believe that New Zealand sauvignon blanc didn’t exist before 1973. Local winemakers were more interested in turning out bulk-produced Müller-Thurgau. How times change.

Today, sauvignon blanc is one of the country’s major exports, along with lamb, Flight of the Conchords and “The Lord of the Rings.” The aromatic varietal represents four out of every five bottles of wine that leave New Zealand shores. With such a reliance on this cat’s-pee-in-a-gooseberry-bush grape, the industry launched extensive research to explore its key aroma and flavor compounds, and how they relate to viticulture and winemaking.

“In our research program, we wanted to understand the unique characters of New Zealand sauvignon blanc,” explains Dr Simon Hooker, general manager for research at N.Z. Winegrowers. “What are its sensory attributes? Can they be linked back to viticultural management? Are they generated in the vineyard, through winemaking processes, or by the yeasts?”

The findings of six years of research are revealed in a new book, “The Science of Sauvignon Blanc,” authored by U.K. wine writer – and plant biologist – Dr. Jamie Goode.

Hooker says the book presents a “very user-friendly” overview of the questions that prompted the research, and provides the wine industry with “new tools for driving flavor.”

So what did the study program reveal?

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Chenin Blanc wines are probably quite familiar to most wine consumers.

Since the 11th Century, France’s Loire Valley has always produced lovely Chenin Blancs, such those from Savennieres and Vouvray. The French wines have varied from dry to sweet, and both seem to last decades or more. On the other hand, this is usually not the case for Chenin Blancs from the New World.

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Ken Forrester on Chenin Blanc in South Africa.

Ken Forrester on Chenin Blanc in South Africa.

Join us as we talk with Ken Forrester, of Ken Forrester Wines in South Africa. He’s an excellent spokesperson for the grape, its history, and for the beautiful wines that can be made from it.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW