Over the next few days we're going to have a good number of new lines in the shop. To begin our introductions we have this beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon from Donald Hess...

Donald Hess, Swiss by birth, bought his first vineyard in Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley in 1978. He recognised the potential of the deep volcanic rocky soils to produce small and concentrated berries that yield structured powerful wines. His dedication to quality meant that the first wines were not released until 1987. Today, the Hess Collection Vineyards comprise more than 419 hectares of vineyards in California, with 285 hectares in the Napa Valley.

From the beginning, Hess was dedicated to sustainable farming, their motto being "Nurture the land and return what you take." As a result they have achieved various certifications because their sensitivity towards the environment touches every aspect of production, from vineyard to packaging.

Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2014 @ £19.95 - Buy it here!

The wine showcases a deep ruby colour with aromas of raspberries and black cherries. On the palate, there are spicy notes of blackcurrants, anise, cloves, cedar, mocha and some roasted vanilla from oak ageing. The wine shows ideal varietal character, with a medium body, mouth-coating tannins, perfectly balanced acidity and hints of cherry and cola spice on the finish.

Come and try this new stonker. There isn't much so don't miss your chance!

For the immediate future, buy any three of the pictured bottles to get 2 free craft beers of your choice! There are 4 wines and 4 beers to choose from. We think it’s always good to broaden your horizons and what better way than to give craft beer a little nod.

Esk Valley Riesling 2015 @ £11.95
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.

Delta Vineyards, Sauvignon Blanc 2015 @ £12.95
A wine with great concentration and a classic spectrum of flavour. It has a depth of blackcurrant notes and blackcurrant leaves on the nose with hints of peach and passionfruit. The palate is textural and mouthwatering with passionfruit and mineral flavours. Fresh acidity with underlying green herbal notes adds focus to the wine.

Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2014 @ £11.95
Of a lovely pale yellow colour, with greenish reflections, the Aconcagua Costa single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is elegant and austere. Citric aromas of grapefruit and lime laced with notes of passion fruit and subtle hints of herbs and a leafiness are predominant on the nose. This very big wine feels dry and edgy on the palate, with great acidity and a light mineral flavour that gives it nerve and freshness.

Seifried Estates Gruner Veltliner 2015 @ £12.95
The nose is delicately fragranced with peppery characters, subtle spice and a twist of ginger. The palate has soft lemon/lime notes and a gentle phenolic and minerally backbone. The wine is dry and reveals an earthy mineral structure.

Come down and grab any of these to take advantage of this new deal. We aren’t even sure when it’s going to end so don’t miss out!





Eighteen new Masters of Wine sworn in

The Institute of Masters of Wine has welcomed 18 new members into the exclusive club at its annual awards ceremony.

The 18 new MWs, who passed all parts of the MW examination in March and September 2017, are:

Mark Andrew MW (UK)

Nova Cadamatre MW (USA)

Julie Chéné Nyheim MW (Norway)

Alistair Cooper MW (UK)

Jeremy Cukierman MW (France)

Emma Dawson MW (UK)

David Forer MW (Spain)

Philip Harden MW (UK)

Ashley Hausman Vaughters MW (USA)

Sarah Heller MW (Hong Kong)

Tim Jackson MW (UK)

Andreas Kubach MW (Spain)

Fernando Mora MW (Spain)

Aina Mee Myhre MW (Norway)

Billo Naravane MW (USA)

Catherine Petrie MW (UK)

Nigel Sneyd MW (USA)

Morgan Twain-Peterson MW (USA)

Several awards were handed out during the evening.

Nova Cadamatre MW received the Taransaud Tonnellerie Award, for her knowledge in the production and handling of wine, according to IMW.

Jeremy Cukierman MW received the Bollinger Medal for his tasting ability.

Fernando Mora MW won the Noval Award for his research paper, titled ‘Proposals for creating a revised wine quality classification in Denomination of Origin (DO) Campo de Borja, with recommendations for potential implementation in other DOs in Spain’.

Sarah Heller MW scooped four awards at the ceremony. This included the Villa Maria Prize for her knowledge and understanding of viticulture and the Errazuriz Award for her performance in the business of wine exam.

Heller also won the Robert Mondavi Winery Award for her performance in the theory papers of the MW exams, plus the Austrian Wine Marketing Board (AWMB) Outstanding Achievement Award – for her high marks in all MW exams.

It is notoriously difficult to pass the three MW exams set by the Institute of Masters of Wine.

The tests include a practical tasting exam, a theory test and a final, essay module.

President Xi serves up Chinese wine for Trump dinner

China's Xi Jinping served a selection of Chinese wines to Donald Trump during their meeting in Beijing, as the pair struck a conciliatory tone with each other.

Wines served during a dinner between Chinese president Xi and US president Trump, plus other dignatories – including business leaders – were largely from Great Wall’s Chateau Sungod based in Hebei province near to Beijing, according to a statement from the producer.

Although Trump has declared that he is tee-total, other US and Chinese delegates at the dinner were given Great Wall ‘the Chief Winemaker’s Selection’ 2009 – a Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Sungod in Hebei, plus Chateau Sungod Riesling 2011.

Other wines poured for the occasion included a Chateau Sungod Syrah, a Riesling from Chateau Yunmo in Ningxia – one of the most hotly tipped Chinese wine regions – and a traditional method sparkling wine from Chateau Sungod. Food served at the dinner is understood to have included a blend of dishes, from ‘kung pow chicken’ to steak and with an option of pastries for dessert.

Chinese wines are now a mainstay of international diplomacy, thanks in no small part, of course, to both China’s prominence in geo-political discussions and also the now-established cusom of host nations serving home-made wines.

Sylvia Wu described the focus on Great Wall wines as a relatively safe political choice. Great Wall wines and those made by the producer Changyu have both featured heavily at official Chinese functions in recent years. Great Wall has tended to be the preferred choice for diplomatic receptions in and around Beijing.

The wine regions in Hebei province include Shacheng, located in the northwest of Beijing, which is better known for dry white wines; and Changli, which is in the northeast of Beijing and is more associated with red wines.

Reprieve for creator of long-lost Bordeaux wine

We have been wrestling with this story since the summer. On the face of it, it’s a simple good news piece for a local winemaker. You might remember Loic Pasquet – the man behind Liber Pater, one of the most curious and most expensive wines in Bordeaux.

You might also remember that in 2016 Pasquet was found guilty of defrauding the authorities of almost €600,000 in aids and grants from both the European Union and France Agrimer.

And that in a confusingly-timed separate case brought by French appellations body the INAO, he was also found guilty of contravening winemaking rules set out in the Cahier de Charges of his local AOC Graves.

The news was liberally covered in pretty much every French newspaper, so it seemed strange that the same press was extremely quiet about the fact that, on 14 June 14 this year, a French appeal judge overturned a key part of the verdict in the INAO case. The financial fraud verdict still stands, but Pasquet has lodged an appeal.

When approached by the media, he was only too happy to send the most recent INAO ruling set out by the judge. It said that the INAO inquiry ‘raised questions about the way that Loic Pasquet carries out his viticultural work that are not in line with usual practices’, but that he had not specifically contravened the local Cahier de Charges  – rules – of the Graves appellation.

The court documents emailed by Pasquet seemed to be missing a few pages, so his barrister Jean Gonthier was contacted to try to better understand what was going on – and also what was happening with the separate financial fraud case.

He explained some of the accusations listed in the original complaint – specifically that Pasquet was planning to plant ungrafted vines at 30,000 plants per hectare, instead of the more usual 5,000 to 10,000 in Graves. The judge noted that Pasquet had abandoned this idea and that the high density vines that he does have (at 20,000 plants per hectare) fall within the allowable regulations for space between plants and rows. The accusations regarding chaptalisation were ruled to be groundless.

‘For a winemaker to be accused of fraud over what he puts in the bottle is a gross defamation,’ Gonthier ,who was not Pasquet’s lawyer for the original hearing, said. ‘My client found this the far more serious of the charges brought against him, and is extremely satisfied with this result.’

This rather neatly suggests that financial fraud is a less serious charge, but it does seem that Pasquet’s winemaking has been deemed simply eccentric rather than illegal. It backs up the argument, set out by Pasquet and his lawyer, that the disputes are in fact over his attempts to recreate the taste of pre-Phylloxera Bordeaux wine.

There’s no doubt that he has caused a stir since arriving in Landiras just over a decade ago.

Rather than making just another Graves red, Pasquet instead read through ancient texts on 19th century winemaking, and set about planting 14 forgotten grape varieties that were typical at the time of the 1855 Paris Classification such as Castet, Mancin, Lauzet, Camaralet and Prunelard (alongside Sémillon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon).

These have been planted without rootstocks at high density, as was common in the 19th century. They are to be bottled as Vin de France, separately to his existing Graves wines that sell for prices upwards of €4,000.

The first results of the ancient varieties are now ready for tasting but have not made it onto the market – something that further complicates things when trying to work out exactly what is going on at the estate.

Clearly never one to let sleeping dogs lie, Pasquet said that he has launched his own defamation case against the INAO. While he says this year’s verdict is ‘a victory for the cultural heritage of wine and for the diversity of taste’, he still mutters darkly about powerful figures with vested interests being unwilling to see him challenge the modern taste of Bordeaux wine.

As for the financial mismanagement case, his appeal against the guilty verdict is ongoing – as is the feeling that this most interesting and challenging of winemakers is not done yet.



After a good long time we finally have the beauties from Chapel Down back in our hands. This amazing English producer is showing the world what we are capable of! Quality to match even the most skilfully crafted champagne or even Burgundian wine...

Chapel Down Bacchus 2016 @ £13.50

A crisp, refreshing white wine with aromas of melon, pineapple, elderflower and grapefruit. The palate is fresh and zesty with flavours of gooseberry and nettle leading to a crisp, dry finish.

Chapel Down Chardonnay 2013 @ £13.99

An elegant unoaked Chardonnay with aromas of apple, white peach and kiwi fruit with background aromas of fresh hay. The palate is fresh and linear with pineapple and citrus characters leading to a mineral finish.

Come and give them a go! They are absolutely amazing and definitely worth it.

As it gets colder and colder we thought the wine should start to reflect that. Bigger, meatier wines are needed to push that cold away and help us stay as cozy as physically possible. Our Lost Block 2013 should be a great match considering it's currently 10% off...

Tyrrell's Lost Block Heathcote Shiraz 2013 @ £11.65 - Buy it here!

Lost Block wines are deliberately made to be fruit-laden, fresh, vibrant and easy to drink. A fragrant perfume of dark fruits, white pepper, violets, spice and a hint of French oak. On the palate the wine shows balance and precision, with the dominant characters of rich shiraz plum fruit being ever prominent and balanced by soft tannins and fine acid profile giving the wine great length. 

Come and grab a couple for the weekend or ever just for the evening. They're definitely worth it with the discount!


Clos de Tart sold to Latour owner Pinault

Château Latour owner Francois Pinault has acquired renowned Burgundy winery Clos de Tart via his family-held investment company for an undisclosed fee.

François Pinault and his family announced on Friday (27 October) that they have bought Clos de Tart, the renowned domaine of Morey St-Denis in Burgundy’s Côtes de Nuits, via their holding company Artémis.

No fee was disclosed, although Burgundy grand cru vineyards are the most expensive in the world, costing several million euros per hectare. Clos de Tart has 7.53 hectares. Some reports in France suggested that the purchased price was possibly as high as 250 million euros, but this could not be verified. It marks the latest in a string of high profile winery sales this year.

There has been speculation over Clos de Tart’s future for several weeks. At least one other high profile bidder showed significant interest, but decided not to pursue a deal.

Clos de Tart was created in 1141 by a group of nuns, les Bernardines de Tart, a branch of the nearby Cistercian congregation. It was requisitioned after the French Revolution and sold at auction in 1791 to Charles Dumand and the Marey-Monge family.

More recently it was owned by Maison Champy and Chauvenet in Nuits-Saint-Georges, until the Mommessin family bought Clos de Tart in 1932 and has owned the estate until now.

From 1996, under the impetus of estate director Sylvain Pitiot, Clos de Tart is widely acknowledged to have seen a strong return to form and is again among the most prized wines of Burgundy.

Clos de Tart is the largest monopole vineyard classified as Burgundy grand cru and has never been broken up. The vineyard is largely defined by very stony soils, resting on calcareous subsoils and with clay near the surface.

Through Artémis, Pinault also owns first growth Château Latour in Bordeaux, Eisele Vineyard Estate in Napa Valley – previously named Araujo – plus Domaine Eugénie in Burgundy and Château Grillet in Northern Rhône. With this purchase, François Pinault becomes the neighbour of his rival, Bernard Arnault, owner of LVMH, which bought Clos des Lambrays in Burgundy in 2014.

Zero emissions winery possible in 15 years, says Torres

Spanish winemaker Miguel Torres Snr has said that wineries must aim to be carbon neutral and that he is looking at ways to re-use carbon dioxide from fermentation as part of a project that involves investing more than 10% of company profits annually. John Stimpfig reports from Penedes.

Miguel Torres Snr, president of Bodegas Torres and with operations across Spain, US and Chile, was speaking at a Torres & Earth presentation in Penedes, Catalonia, this month to showcase new and emerging technologies that could help wineries mitigate the effects of climate change.

‘In 10-15 years, I think it is perfectly possible we will see wineries which are carbon neutral with zero carbon emissions,’ he said.

Torres has become known as a passionate advocate of environmental protection after he saw Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ in 2007.

‘I came out of the film and said to my wife, “we have to do something about global warming for the sake of our vineyards”,’ he said.

Several studies suggest that climate change poses stark risks for vineyards, which may be exposed to more extreme weather and see traditional grape varieties struggle to achieve balance in altered conditions.

Many scientists believe that it is close to inevitable that global temperatures will rise by two degrees this century, without rapid intervention from the world’s biggest polluters.

Bodegas Torres has said it is focused on developing technologies to capture and reuse carbon dioxide.

‘Climate change has not gone away, but nobody is really talking about it,’ Torres Snr told the media. ‘Moreover, it remains the biggest challenge facing the wine industry in general and vine-growing in particular. Increasing temperatures mean that the grape harvest is earlier every year, which could come to affect the quality of wines and even alter the vine growing map.’

Torres has committed to reducing carbon emissions, from vine to final destination, by 30% versus 2008 levels by 2020; one of several sustainability initiatives now up-and-running across the wine world.

To achieve that, Torres said that its family business has consistently set aside 11% of its annual profits for environmental projects. This year, the total investment in the programme will exceed 12m euros.

It now has a biomass boiler in Penedes, cutting 1,300 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Solar and photovoltaic installations have also enabled the Penedes winery to generate 25% of its own electricity needs.

Other eco efficiency measures include optimising water resources, reducing average bottle weight, insulating vats and transportation. This year it created the Torres & Earth Supplier Awards to encourage its suppliers in the same direction.

How has it done? In 2016, Bodegas Torres had reduced its own CO2 emissions by 40% compared to 2008. When suppliers and partners are included, the figure was 18.9% at the end of June 2017; meaning there is more to be done to hit the 30% overall reduction target.

Torres Snr said the company was already looking at the possibility of becoming carbon neutral. He is interested in the complex area of carbon capture, storage and potential reuse – turning CO2 back into energy.

Each year, Torres produces 3,000 tonnes of CO2 by fermenting grapes.

‘The idea is to capture CO2 from fermentation and then transform it into a source of energy which could be used to reduce cost or sold to generate income,’ Torres Snr said. His said his team has been working in Penedes with universities and commercial companies on ways to achieve this. He added that Torres will make its research results available to other wineries.

‘All they need to do is register an interest. Already, 25 Spanish wineries have done so.’ But, he said that he would also like to see more environmental support from the Spanish government. ‘I have been frustrated by the overall progress in sustainability in our industry to date. When we set up Wineries for Climate Change in Spain, three years ago, the response was disappointing.

‘But now I think people are prepared and ready to invest. It is helped by the fact that the cost of renewables has come down, which is a positive trend. But also attitudes and the technology are changing fast.

‘In 10-15 years you will see a big difference. We will have carbon neutral wineries with no emissions. I promise you this is not a pipe dream. We will make it happen.’

Loire 2017 harvest shows mixed fortunes after frost

There has been a stark contrast in fortunes across the Loire in 2017, with spring frost hitting some areas much harder than others, but an early crop means that quality is looking good overall, reports Jim Budd.

Loire 2017 is an early vintage of promising to very promising quality but volumes are very variable due to the uneven damage caused by the late April frosts.

According to estimates published in July by the French Ministry of Agriculture the Loire is predicted to up by 7% at 2,3 millions hl on 2016. However, but this is still a small vintage as the frost and mildew affected 2016 vintage was 25% below average.

Picking started picking at the end of August, especially for Crémant. 30th August was the official start for the Muscadet harvest, the eighth earliest start in recent years. However, heat wave 2003 was 11 days earlier – 19th August.

Much of the Loire harvest was over by mid-October.

Tasting the 2017 grape juice from Muscadet through to Pouilly-sur-Loire all of them appeared to be very clean, precise with ripe fruit and well balanced. Although it is difficult to know clearly at this stage how the finished wines will turn out, the quality of the 2017 looks to be good. Certainly many of the grapes were very clean with little rot.

While quality appears to be good through out the Loire volumes made are very variable.

Following an early bud-break there were a series of frosts in the last two weeks of April. The effects on the harvest have been very variable.

Parts of Muscadet were very badly affected – Fred Niger in Le Landreau made only three hectolitres per hectare. Nearby Domaine Pierre Luneau Papin, Bonnet-Huteau (La Chapelle-Heulin) and Vincent Caillé (Monnières) were also severely hit. In contrast Jérémie Hutchet (Château-Thebaud) was barely affected.

In the Fiefs Vendéens Thierry Michot’s white varieties were greatly reduced by frost, while his reds are very good.

Much of Savennières made very little wine, except for the eastern part. In contrast much of Bourgueil and Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil had a plentiful harvest – a relief after being severely frosted in 2016.

In the Central Vineayrds Mentou-Salon had a generous harvest after making virtually nothing 2016. Parts of Pouilly-Fumé are well down, while the Coteaux de Giennois has made more than initially feared. Volume in Sancerre may be a little down but here again the quality should be high.