What better to sit back with than a bottle from the Spanish masters? Everybody knows that the Spanish have been in the wine game for a very long time. Some believe that the first grape vines were cultivated in Spain sometime between 4000 and3000BC. It would seem that they have had quite a while to perfect their skills, let’s have a look at what they have to offer…

Hecula Monsatrell, Familia Castano 2014 @ £9.95

This 100% Monastrell wine is deep cherry red in colour, with complex aromas of raspberry, mulberry and liquorice. On the palate, it shows juicy blackberry flavours, freshness, soft and rounded tannins and a long finish. Enjoy with hearty stews.

Izadi Rioja Blanco 2014 @ £12.95

Straw yellow in colour with bright green tones. With succulent citrus and yellow stone fruit on both the nose and the palate, this fresh wine is well-structured and has a refreshing acidity but a nice bit of body to give some backbone to this wine.

Vina Ardanza Reserva Rioja Alta 2007 @ £26.95

Complex and perfumed primary and secondary aromas of earth, spice and red fruits with a long, elegantly structured medium weight body of spicy tannins and layers of flavour. Enjoy over the next decade as the richness and power will soften to spice and earth, augmenting game casserole or wild duck.

All of these wines are available in the shop but are all rather popular! Come and grab a couple before they all disappear!

 

After a pretty wet weekend we think it's time for a wine which will correct all of our troubles and give you a little bit of your own personal sunshine. Our Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Blanc is a pure chardonnay and of absolutely amazing quality for the price...

Nicolas Potel Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013 @ £9.95 down to £8.96
Nicolas Potel living up to his name. This bold but classic citrus-led nose offers notes of blossoming acacia flowers and marzipan. Straightforward at first and nicely rounded on the palate, with a complex flavour of almond on the finish.

This offer of 10% off extends to out entire range of Burgundian whites so now is definitely the time to come and grab a couple! Use BOURGBLANC10OFF at the checkout on the website or come in-store to take advantage of this offer!

Cheers!

Don't forget about out weekly offer! This week it's on our amazing Esk Valley Riesling which has 10% off.

Esk Valley Riesling 2015 @ £11.95 down to £10.76

This is a dry style of Riesling which is versatile and suited to a wide variety of food matches or as an aperitif. It has classic Marlborough Riesling characters of peach, citrus and honey with a long refreshing finish.

This one is definitely something to keep your eye on. This discount will only last for a week (18/09/2017) so get down here before the offer ends!

Brexit pain as wine prices rise further, says trade

There has been no let-up in the run of price rises on wine since the UK voted to leave the European Union and the pain may be about to get worse, according to the latest figures from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association.

The average price of a bottle of wine in the UK rose to £5.58 between the Chancellor’s Budget in March and 17 June 2017, up 4% on the previous year, said the WSTA. Its statement coincided with Parliament’s first reading of a Brexit divorce bill that would transfer EU rules into UK law.

Average wine prices had already passed the £5.50 mark for the first time in the final three months of 2016, according to figures from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).

While this run of price rises may not immediately impact drinkers of premium and fine wines, the WSTA warned that the entire industry is facing a ‘triple whammy’ of price pressures going into the autumn.

‘For the first time we can see the how prices have been affected by the triple whammy resulting from Brexit’s impact on the pound, rising inflation and the 3.9% inflationary duty rise on alcohol imposed by the Chancellor at his Budget in March,’ said the WSTA, which is holding its annual conference in London today (12 September).

‘I am sad to say the pain doesn’t end here,’ said the WSTA’s chief executive, Miles Beale. ‘The Autumn Budget is set to see alcohol duty rise by inflation once again,’ he added, calling for a ‘time out’ on tax rises.

The WSTA said that it commissioned a YouGov poll that found four out of every five respondents concerned about the prospect of paying higher prices for food and drink. The WSTA has committed to working with the government in order to achieve the best possible deal in Brexit negotiations.

 




 

Hurricane Irma: Rapid response team ‘rescues’ fine wines

Some Florida residents reportedly made hurried calls to wine removals specialists in an attempt to protect valuable bottles from Hurricane Irma, which has left a trail of destruction through the US state and across the Caribbean, with dozens of deaths reported.

It won’t have topped the list of concerns for many, but wine removals specialist Xpeditr said that its ’emergency response team’ was dealing with requests in Florida to rescue precious bottles from the path of Hurricane Irma.

Around 20,000 bottles worth up to $5 million in total had been removed from cellars in the US state by the end of last week, according to Xpeditr’s chief executive, Adam Gungle, who was interviewed by the Reuters news agency. Some vintages pre-dated the First World War, he said.

Gungle was unable to comment straight away when contacted, but has been in the region with his team.

The news comes amid widespread reports of devastation and mass flooding in parts of the Caribbean and also Florida following the Hurricane Irma storm, which has seen 145mph winds batter buildings and coastlines. There had been 37 confirmed deaths across the Caribbean and 10 deaths in the US by Tuesday morning (12 September).

In Miami, authorities said that 72% of the city was without power on Monday 11 September. Police in Orland, Florida, warned people to stay indoors and told those who might be ‘sight-seeing’ in damaged areas to go home. ‘We are not joking,’ police said. Richard Branson, the British billionaire entrepreneur, sheltered in a concrete wine cellar at his Necker island resort as the hurricane passed.

He emerged to find significant damage on the island, he reported in a blog post. He also expressed concern for communities in the region and called for financial aid to be given to badly affected areas of the Caribbean, including the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Calls to Xpeditr suggest that collectors and the trade appear to have learned some lessons from previous natural disasters.

Millions of dollars of wine was ruined and damaged when Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, with cellars in Manhattan submerged in water. Sandy prompted Xpeditr to set up its emergency response service, Gungle told Reuters.

 




English wine makes up half of UK Government’s cellar purchases

The UK government has defended its record on English wine by saying that it buys more homegrown wines for its hospitality events than from any other nation.

Figures show that English wine accounted for 1,500 of the 3,052 bottles bought for the UK government’s hospitality cellar in the 2016/17 tax year, and that 52 per cent of wine consumed at ‘high profile receptions’ was English.

Ten years ago, just 20 per cent of wines served at these events were from England, said the Foreign Office, which manages the cellar. Its release of the figures follows criticism from some quarters over the amount of government support given to the UK wine industry, which has won several high-profile awards in recent years. English sparkling wine has been served at official functions for several years.

‘The UK produces some of the finest wines in the world, and the Foreign Office is committed to showcasing them to a global market,’ said a spokesperson for the Foreign Office. ‘Our food and drink products are more popular than ever and we will continue to do all we can to support this vital sector, and create new export opportunities.’

Whilst the majority of wines produced in the UK are sparkling, the Government’s wine cellar is also serving English still whites and rosés to guests. ‘Earlier in the year, we urged Government departments to ‘Serve British’ and it’s great to hear that the FCO is stocking, serving and therefore supporting English wine,’ said Miles Beale, CEO of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

Earlier in the year, a bill was proposed to Parliament to make British embassies serve UK wines.

‘There has been a concerted move by the industry, the producers and huge support of WSTA over the last years to encourage Government to serve British products and in so doing, show their support for the fantastic food and drink industry that we have,’ said Julia Trustram-Eve,  of trade body UK Wine Producers.

‘It’s great to see that both FCO and overseas missions are now serving English wine and flying the flag for our exciting industry.’

Not everyone is such a fan, however.

Chef Marco Pierre-White is reported to have said ‘English wine is nonsense’ and that only a ‘numpty’ would buy it, at the launch of one of his restaurants this weekend.

‘Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but there are many more fellow restaurateurs who would beg to differ, and do list English wines,’ said Julia Trustram-Eve.

 

 

Now Riesling isn’t a grape many people look to for their evening enjoyment and we think that should change! Some amazing examples of this wine are appearing from all over the world in distinctive styles. We think our Esk Valley Riseling 2015 deserves a special mention and even a 10% discount due to its fantastic quality.



Esk Valley Riesling 2015 @ £11.95 down to £10.76

This is a dry style of Riesling which is versatile and suited to a wide variety of food matches or as an aperitif. It has classic Marlborough Riesling characters of peach, citrus and honey with a long refreshing finish.

This one is definitely something to keep your eye on. This discount will only last for a week (18/09/2017) so get down here before the offer ends!

Coravin launches new system for screw cap wines

A new accessory released by Coravin claims to keep screw cap wines fresh for up to three months once the original seal has been broken.

Coravin screw caps have been made available to Coravin Club members and are expected to go on general sale in the UK from 15 September, the company said this week. A pack of six caps costs £29.95, it said. It has already launched the screw cap devices in the US this summer.

Coravin has made a name for itself with technology that allows wine lovers to draw wine out of the bottle without pulling the cork and the new launch is its latest move to expand the range.

Coravin said its screw caps can keep wine fresh for up to three months once the original cap seal has been removed and the first needle puncture from the Coravin system is made. Buyers still need a Coravin system to extract wine, as they would if the bottle was sealed with a cork.

‘A screw cap solution has been a popular request since introducing the original Coravin in 2013,’ said Greg Lambrecht, founder and inventor of Coravin.

‘We’re here to help enhance the wine experience by helping people enjoy any wine, in any quantity, at any time – without compromise.’ The caps are available in standard and large sizes, and can withstand up to 50 punctures, making them reusable for around 10 bottles of wine, Coravin said.

Coravin tested its screw caps extensively in Australia before release. Australia and New Zealand winemakers have pioneered using screw caps on some of their best wines.



Napa Harvest Reaches Crisis Point

"Labor or lack thereof this year is the big story," Rod Berglund, owner and winemaker of Joseph Swan Vineyards in Sonoma County, has said. "Vineyard managers are demanding a week's notice for picking and even then cannot guarantee a spot on their calendar."

Until Labor Day weekend, the 2017 vintage was proceeding smoothly. California had above-average rainfall last winter for the first time in five years, alleviating longterm drought concerns, but the rains did not continue into the summer, so mildew hasn't yet been a big problem. (That may be about to change.) The crop size was looking a little smaller than average, perhaps a longterm drought effect, but the ripening was steady and the quality looked good.

Then came an unprecedented heatwave in the country that now officially does not believe in global warming.

On September 1, famously foggy San Francisco had the hottest day in the city's history at 106° Fahrenheit (41°C). As usual, the city was significantly cooler than surrounding wine regions – even the cool-climate ones. Healdsburg, at the nexus of the Russian River Valley and Dry Creek Valley, reached 114°F (46°C). Salinas, in normally chilly Monterey County, hit 107°F (42°C).

"Before the heat spike, this year's harvest started slower and at a nice pace," Lee Martinelli, owner of Martinelli Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma County, told the media. "However, with the recent heat, many vineyards have ripened all at once so the demand to pick them has risen as well."

An ongoing crackdown on illegal immigrants, which started under President Obama and has accelerated under President Trump, has led to shortages of farm labor.

"The big immigration concerns mean that even though the industry here employs only legal workers, the giant vacuum created by the crackdown has meant that many people that might have come for the harvest are now ending up filling slots in other industries and areas," Berglund said.

This is good for the remaining workers: the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week before the heat spike that some high-end Napa wineries are paying $45 an hour for grape pickers. But it's not good for wineries, which must outbid each other to get crews and even in some cases pay in advance.

And with many grapes ripening at once, pickers are not the only necessity in short supply. Corey Beck, executive vice president of Francis Coppola Winery, mentioned that there's a lack of trucks available to transport freshly picked grapes to wineries because many small wineries do not own their own trucks.

All of this might sound dire, but the timing of the heat spike is at an interesting point in the harvest: pretty late in the game for white grapes, thus endangering the quality of those that were still hanging last weekend, but fairly early for the grape by which California will be most judged, Cabernet Sauvignon. Some growers will get lucky with the timing.




Sicilians the First Italian Wine Drinkers

While Georgia might claim the title of wine's birthplace, a recent find in Sicily has made scientists rethink their time frames when it comes to wine drinking in Italy.

A team from the University of South Florida discovered the remains of terracotta pots during an archaeological dig in a cave on Monte Kronio in southwest Sicily and found wine residue on the bottom of the pots, showing that the original owners of the pots were drinking wine more than 6000 years ago.

Before the find, scientists believed that winemaking developed in Italy around 1200BC, but the USF team's find appears to have pushed that date back by about 3000 years.

"Unlike earlier discoveries that were limited to vines and so showed only that grapes were being grown, our work has resulted in the identification of a wine residue," said Davide Tanasi, the archaeologist who led the research. "That obviously involves not just the practice of viticulture but the production of actual wine – and during a much earlier period."

To give some idea of just how early that was in human history, it is about the same time that scientists believe the first horses and chickens were domesticated, so that coq au vin recipe might be older than you think.

The find also suggests that there might be some competition for the title of the cradle of winemaking. The earliest known evidence of winemaking was found in a dig near the small town of Aremi in Armenia back in 2011. That was also 6000 years old, although some of the traces found in that particular residue might have come from pomegranates, which are common in Armenia, to the point of being the national fruit. The Sicilian find is important, because pomegranates did not grow in Sicily then, so the residue is definitely from wine.

To add to the confusion about where wine originated, the country of Georgia has long claimed the honor for itself. Just last year a dig in the southeastern region of Kvemo Kartli found vine residue and grape seeds that dated back 8000 years to Neolithic times. However, the Sicily discovery would appear to be the oldest actual wine residue to be found so far.

Local winemaker and historian Alessio Planeta told the Guardian newspaper that the discovery filled him joy. "Before this, we used to think that Sicily's wine culture arrived with the island's colonization by the ancient Greeks."

The find suggests wine drinking was a pretty big priority for ancient humans, putting winemaking within a thousand years of the development of the wheel. In fact, it precedes the written word as we know it by some 800 years, and therefore, presumably, the first wine critic.

But, in the great scheme of human development, winemaking is still an infant practice compared to beer, which dates back to between 8000 and 7000BC.  

 

 
That's all for this week, come back again next Thursday for our next installment!
Cheers!