The Ultimate Box Collection from Moet & Hennessey, winemakers video

Why were 3 winemakers from far flung parts of the globe all in Central London at the same time? They were here for the launch of Moet Hennessey’s Ultimate Collection Box, a collection of 6 iconic wines from MH’s wine portfolio. Although there are 6 different wines, it is hard enough to get 3 winemakers together at one time, let alone all 6 so I felt lucky to be chatting with Manuel Loazada of Numanthia, Nicholas Audebert of Cheval des Andes and Ian Morden of Cloudy Bay, all 3, Chief Winemakers for their respective estates. The Ultimate Box Collection was designed by Argentine artist Pablo Reinoso and is a handsome, handcrafted wooden jewel box designed to showcase the flagship bottles from each of the wineries from its Estates and Wines portfolio which are: Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Cloudy Bay’s Te Koko, Cheval des Andes, Newton’s The Puzzle, Numanthia’s Termanthia and Terrazas de los Andes’ Afincado Malbec. The box was created in part to respond to the growing consumer demand for Super Premium New World wines. Why would Moet Hennessey put together such a box and launch it now, I asked Manuel. Well, now is as good as time as any, he replied. And besides, if they waited to get all 6 winemakers together in one place, it would never happen. I had a brief chat with the 3 to see what they thought of the whole Collection concept… The Ultimate Collection Box is available from Harrod’s and thechampagnecompany.com at a suggested retail price of £500 so start saving those pennies… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Thanks to the WBC scholarship fund, I’m off to Virginia for the 2011 WBC

Jul 08, 11 Thanks to the WBC scholarship fund, I’m off to Virginia for the 2011 WBC

Posted by in N. America

In 2008 I stumbled onto this obscure conference  about wineblogging while surfing the net and decided to check it out. Back then, I had been blogging for a few months and even though I wasn’t doing it professionally, the whole blogging thing intrigued me.  I thought, “What the hell, it’s in Rioja, costs 50 euros to register and if anything, I’ll get to drink lots of Spanish wine.” I went to the EWBC’08 and had a blast! The first one was  small affair, only about 40 of us but what great, enthusiastic people I met and everyone so passionate about wine. I left Rioja on fire. While I was there, I heard about the first American Winebloggers conference which was going to be held a few months later in Napa. I briefly considered going but looking at my finances, realised it was just a pipe dream. That is until I got back to London where a nice big fat tax rebate cheque was waiting for me. You can guess where the majority of that rebate went. I went to CA (my post here) and never looked back, at least from a wine blogging perspective. I’ve been to all the EWBC’s since then but hadn’t returned to the States, the issue of money always being in the background, especially as a professional freelance wineblogger, money is shall we say, not very forthcoming, rather like pulling teeth with a pair of tweezers. So when I heard about the WBC scholarship, which is an independently administered entity founded and run by bloggers themselves, I decided to give it a shot. And I’m certainly glad I did as I was awarded a full scholarship which enabled me to fly to Virginia and participate in this year’s conference. Thanks to the many generous sponsors (full list below) not only me but 13 other worthy bloggers are being given a helping hand to meet up, learn and interact with each other. The scholarship is now in it’s 3rd year and...

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Chatting with Steven Spurrier about the 2011 Decanter Wine Awards

The winners of the 2011 Decanter Wine Awards were announced at the recent London International Wine Fair. I’ve always been vaguely aware of the awards but never really paid much attention to them, I must admit. Oh sure, I would register the Decanter stickers on wine bottles in the shops but it never influenced my buying decisions in any significant way. That is until I  got the chance to chat with founder of the awards, Steven Spurrier at the LIWF. What I found was that the awards were not devised as some sort of wine trade accolade but were begun as a way for consumers to be assured they were buying quality wines in the marketplace. Steven pointed out that Decanter is a consumer magazine so it only makes sense that they give out awards that reward not only quality and value for money but also flag wines that might otherwise be overlooked. They look for wines that are the “new kids on the block” and so would be of excellent quality and good value for money at the same time. He sees the awards as the “engine that powers the wine trade, (the awards) are the engine room of the wine trade ship.”I asked him what were the surprises of this years awards and he was very enthusiastic about China (“…they’ve got 5000 years of history, it’s no fluke that they got a gold medal this year, they deserved it”), India (“getting better but no gold medal yet…”) and Thailand and Cambodia (…”extraordinary wine culture. The awards are here to recognize quality at any stage of the game…”). I’d like to point out that I tasted and wrote about the Thai winery GranMonte  a few months ago when I had the pleasure of trying their wines during Bordeaxu en primeur. Their wines won 2 silvers, 1 bronze and 1 commendation in the 2011 Decanter Awards. It won’t be long now before winemaker Nikki Lohitnavy gets a gold, I think. This year Decanter received...

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Sonomo Cutrer 2006 Chardonnay – brief tasting note

California chardonnay. Not usually one of my go-to wines but I had a chardonnay from Sonoma-Cutrer the other day that was really quite enjoyable. Sonoma-Cutrer is located in the Russian River Valley and have been producing quality chardonnay since the early 1980’s. I was a bit sceptical as my memory of California chardonnays are oaky butter bombs but the 2006 Sonoma-Cutrer is nothing of the sort. A straight up chardonnay, it was a clear bright wine with flecks of gold dancing around the glass. A fresh nose of tropical fruits, most notably creamy pineapple along with mango and ginger and a faint aroma of honeysuckle. There wasn’t a butter bomb in sight. The wine slipped down quite easily. Quite a rich chardonnay, with more of the pineapple notes and a zesty lime finish. The oak was present but not overpowering. I had it with my dinner of roast chicken and salad and it was quite tasty. I’m no longer afraid of California chardonnays, at least not Sonoma-Cutrer’s chardonnays. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Charles Smith, winemaker and Winesleuth hair twin

I met my hair twin the other night at Hawksmoor Steakhouse in London. We weren’t exactly hair twins, he’s blonde and I’m not but we both have wild and curly hair and we both like wine a lot! My hair twin in Charles Smith, ex-rock band manager and “2009 Food and Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year” for K Vintners of Washington State. Charles has quite a reputation as a innovator, marketing genius, and is never afraid to speak his mind, his opinion of European wine drinkers – they’re “pussies” if they look at the back label see 15.5% alcohol and deem it too much for them without even trying it first. Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I didn’t realize the alcohol content until late in the evening while chatting to Charles. His wines are extremely well balanced. I would never have guessed that they contained so much alcohol, no hint of a burn or alcohol on the nose, just  full bodied wines with refined tannins. If you start reading ingredients on a wine label, then his wines are not for you in Charles’ opinion. He does acknowledge that his wines “are not for everybody, they never are, it’s all about the individual”.  Charles picks the grapes when they are ready and not beforehand and if they have 15% alcohol so be it.  He wants to produce wines that reflect not only the region but also the vineyard where they are grown. To him, the most important thing is to produce balanced, soft, round and integrated wines. To drink his wines, you need food that’s going to stand up to it and Hawksmoor did an admirable job of serving up Porterhouse and Rib-eye steaks to match the wines. We had a selection of K Vintners wines, the 2008 Northridge Syrah from Wahluke Slope, the 2008 Morrison Lane Syrah, Walla Walla Valley and K Vintners 2008 Creator ( a blend of cabernet and syrah), Colombia Valley. Each wine was unique...

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Redwood Creek Wines

I neglected ‘Sleuth a bit during the month of July because I was so busy working summer festivals. Despite the fact that I’ve lived in this country for 4 years, I’d never been to a proper British music festival. I still haven’t been to a proper British music festival but I worked/attended Art in Oxford and the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. The Port Eliot Festival is a literary festival situated on the manor grounds of Lord and Lady St. Germans and every year plays host to a variety of authors as well as various musical groups. I loved the location, the festival was spread among the rolling green hills of the estate, as well as in the woods and along the river that runs through the estate. You’re probably wondering, “What the hell does this have to do with wine?” I’m getting to it. I was sent some wine by the California winemaker Redwood Creek and thought it would be great to take along these wines to a nature setting. Redwood Creek like to think of themselves as a wine of the Great Outdoors and what better place to try their wines then in the wilds of Cornwall. My friends and I stopped by the river to taste the Redwood Creek 2008 Merlot. A straightforward merlot, plums and black cherry, a bit of spice and mocha,  lovely round tannins but not jammy or overcooked. It was fresh and relaxed. I was really expecting a gigantic fruit bomb but this wine was nicely balanced. It’s a nice little wine, perfect for picnics or festivals when you really just want a good time wine. We joked that this wine was the good time girl of wines, lots of fun but you wouldn’t exactly take her home to meet your mom. We also tried the 2008 Redwood Creek Cabernet but felt it wasn’t as well balanced as the merlot nor was it anywhere near as satisfying as it. If you’re faced with both in the aisle,...

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