Not to be one always looking back, whenever I start a new year I try and think about all the great times of last year and it helps me get really up for all the challenges and possibilites for 2020.
So whilst most of you are doing Dry January or something equally as healthy to overcome the post-Christmas and New Year booze/chocolate/meat comas, I thought I’d start the year with a quick recap of the wines that meant a lot to me in 2019…
FEBRUARY – MILLTON’S CLOS STE ANNE CHARDONNAY 2015
Down in Maçon, in Southern Burgundy, there are a few producers who deserve a bit of respect. Or at least more so than they think they’re getting. I had the immense pleasure of having dinner recently with Audrey Braccini, head winemaker at Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, and this topic was a hot one for her.
The wines of the New World nailed it during the nineties and noughties on the shelves of the supermarkets in the UK. The French, the Italians, even the Spanish were blasted away by low priced but solid quality wines from the varietals everyone had heard of. Chilean wine was up there in the crow’s nest of this move but, like many others, the move from low margin, high volume wines to showing off the best that country can offer is a tricky one.
I got called out by Phil Cox from Cramele Recas during a tasting we did at his place. I’ve always been of the school of thought that to make a difference as an up and coming wine region it’s important to promote your local varieties. I didn’t tell him that was my view, but he got it out there as something daft that wine bloggers seem to write, without looking at the bigger picture. I sheepishly apologised after he pointed out why I’m talking out my arse.
It’s not everyday you bump into the best young winemaker in Argentina. It’s not everyday you can say that and it actually be true either. But when my mate, Louise, took me to meet the very cool German Berra of Finca Flichman at the recent London Wine Fair, it was fair enough. He’d been voted the top boy in Argentina the year before, and as much as I’m sometimes a bit dubious about these titles, I’ll let him off, I reckon he deserves this one!
I think turkey gets a bad reputation, mostly cos it’s a big bird and it’s hard to cook properly. Ever since someone bought my mum “Nigella at Christmas” then we’ve been having a great time of it. It’s also an incredibly good meat for promoting the production of serotonin (the happy hormone), so one to look out for all year round if you can!
Chardonnay, for some reason, has been an unfashionable grape ever since I can remember. I don’t get why. How could you refuse a crisp glass of Chablis? A bit of Blanc de Blancs Champagne maybe? Something with the depth and scale of a Russian River Valley? Well if you can, you need your head testing!
At the minute there’s a lot of push to change the thinking about certain wine regions. For example, somewhere like Bordeaux wants you to know they can do good bulk brands as we’ve seen with Mouton Cadet. On the flip side, somewhere like Australia wants you to know that they do fantastic premium wine, and they’re not just the big brand wonders that we all have in our heads.
It’s bad enough when you hit the Champagne aisle and there are so many manufacturers and labeling terms that just mess with your head. Do I buy Lanson or Mumm? What do they mean by Brut as opposed to Sec? Then they throw this Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs into the mix. It’s game over at this point for the occasional wine-o!
For this month’s Wine Writing Challenge the theme is “Tradition”. Given the fact we’ve just been through arguably the busiest time of year when it comes to family-meet-ups, some of the things we all do when we’re together are still fresh in the memory.