January: The vines start the New Year in much the same condition as the rest of us; fast asleep. The leaves have long since gone, and the green canes that grew in the summer before will have lignified; that is, turned brown and woody. Any extra carbohydrates will be stored deep in the trunk of the vine and this is a sign that winter pruning can begin. Traditionally pruning starts on the 22nd January or the feast of the patron saint of vignerons, St. Vincent, although for practical reasons it tends to begin a lot sooner. Winter pruning is an arduous but necessary task as it determines the numer of buds left on the vine for this years growing season and subsequent harvest. Not the most thrilling of jobs in the cold winter but there’s little rest when it comes to the production of good quality wine!
Hello Wine Lovers! Happy New Year to you all! 2017 was a challenging year for reasons both economical, political and even geographical, as the world had more than its fair share of natural disasters and adverse weather conditions. This doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon, so it’s good that we can still get together on a regular basis, drink some top quality wine and forget all about it for a couple of hours! This year sees the end of my gruelling exam schedule of the last few years, and I’m very much looking forward to spending more time writing articles, organising tastings and seeking out yet more wine to try, drink and share. We’ll kick off 2018 with two tastings, one exploring our often forgotten neighbour Portugal on the 11th January, followed by an international blind tasting on the 25th. I’m hoping to broaden the scope a little bit this year, with a more detailed newsletter, different tasting formats and brand new wines from all over the world. I hope you’re reading this with a clear(ish) head after the nights festivities, and I look forward to seeing you all over the coming months. Happy 2018, everyone!
Events: Maestrazgo Wine Club:
11th January– International Wine Tasting: The Wines of Portugal- 30 euros p/p
25th January – International Blind Tasting – 30 euros p/p
Articles: I probably spend too much of my time reading online articles about wine. However, as a result I can find and select a choice few to share – here are my three favourites from last month!
1. ‘The Devastator: Phylloxera Vastatrix’ by Kelli White. Everything I’ve read in the past year by Kelli White makes me think she may just be one of the future greats of wine writing. Everything is clear, concise and immaculately researched. Case in point – this detailed look at the most devastating pest ever to come into contact with vines. Phylloxera is well understood, but Kelli takes it further by looking at the human element and errors that resulted in further loss of industry, as well as how it affected different parts of the world. A longish read, but well worth your time. https://www.guildsomm.com/public_content/features/features/b/kelli-white/posts/phylloxera-vastatrix
2. ‘The future of the wine industry’ by Robert Joseph. Around this time every year, the wine trade starts to make predictions about trends, regions-to-watch and general thoughts about the coming year. The one I always read comes from Meininger, for the simple reason that they canvass a broad spectrum of professionals across the industry and categorise the responses. As a result, this is basically an article about how the industry feels about its existence at the moment, and where it thinks the driver factors for change will come from. Always an interesting read and more than a few interesting responses! https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/future-of-wine-industry
3. ‘Cava’s Sweet Spot’ by Miquel Hudin. I’ve seen Miquel write about this a couple of times but it feels like screaming into the wind a little, as bulk, generic Cava still makes up an overwhelming quantity of everything produced in the country. Going super-premium isn’t necessary, but over 10 euros, Cava does start to get a lot more interesting. The Cava profiled was a pleasant surprise for me earlier in the year, and I have another bottle to taste in the near future – I’d recommend it to anyone, along with the general message of trading up above the 5-9 euro range that seems so prevalent! https://wineonsix.com/cavas-actual-entry-point/
Wine of the Month: I’m constantly on the look-out for wines of real quality and value; here is my favourite wine of the month:
Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne 2007: The wine of the month at this time of the year is always something a bit special, as December always feels like the right time to open the really good stuff! Grand Cru Burgundy from top producers is so outrageously overpriced at the moment, I feel very fortunate that I bought two bottles of this wine on sale at the beginning of last year. Henri Boillot is a Meursault based grower and negociant, producing his own wines from small plots of premier and grand cru vineyards around the Cote d’Or. Corton-Charlemagne is a famous grand cru on the hill of Corton, drenched in sun and often responsible for some of the most powerful white Burgundies. This 10 year old example certainly lived up to that reputation, with beautiful aromas of ripe stone fruits, lemon-curd, honey, smoke and cream. Despite the huge concentration of flavour and 14% ABV, this was so fresh and light on its feet, full of energy and verve. The finish was outstanding – I was tasting this minutes after every sip.
I wish Burgundy prices weren’t so mad, because there’s nothing quite like these wines at their best. This was one of the best wines I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking, just gorgeous. Double-decanting it was a good idea, as it really opened up with some air!
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That’s it for this months newsletter. I hope you enjoyed it and please, if you have any suggestions or things you would like to see get in touch! Either respond to me here or email to email@example.com I can’t wait to see you all soon for more wine, food and good company. Happy New Year, everyone!