Moët & Chandon 270th Anniversary Auction

To mark Moët & Chandon‘s 270th anniversary,  hundreds of bottles of Champagne that represent the past century are set to go under the hammer at a special auction hosted by Sotheby’s.

Chef de cave, Benoît Gouez has hand picked every single one of the 270 bottles, 174 magnums and three jeroboams from Moët’s Grand Vintage Collection, located at its cellars in Epernay which span for around 28km. 

The vintages in the auction will range from 2004 right the way back to 1914, said the Champagne house, which is part of French billionaire Bernard Arnaud’s LVMH luxury goods empire. ‘There are some incredible wines in this auction,’ said Gouez. Some of the wines, including those from 1914 and the ‘20s, ‘50s and ‘60s, were only disgorged earlier this year.

The six bottles from 1914 are expected to receive up to £6,000 each at the auction; Michael Edwards, Champagne judge at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards said:

‘The vintage has a special poignancy, as it was picked by women, their men being at the front [for World War One].’ Edwards, who is also author of The Finest Wines of Champagne, said the 1914 was in ‘fine shape’ with good fruit and no signs of oxidation when he last tasted it, in 1968. ‘After another half a century, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t still be goodish,’ he said, adding that ‘the fact that it has lain on its lees in Epernay until disgorged is a very good sign’.

Sotheby’s Worldwide head of wines, Serena Sutcliffe MW, said, ‘I tasted the legendary 1914 with Benoît [Gouez] earlier this year and it is superlative’. There are plenty of other renowned vintages to feature too, including two bottles of the 1921 and one bottle of 1928, expected to fetch up to £5,200 and £2,400 respectively.

The sale is to take place in London on November 13th.

By Connell Green

photo credit: play4smee via photopin cc


Buying Your Wine Online? Read This ……

No More Restrictions

As we’re all now getting pretty savvy with the whole shopping on the internet malarkey, the wine industry has seen a massive increase in purchases and smaller businesses are really starting to take off.

There are many contributing factors to this rise, but the fact that there are no restrictions as to what you may find online, boutique producers can access the far flung corners of the Earth with a reasonable price tag on their bottle.

Retailers that customers find online often buy direct from the wineries which cuts down the cost for everyone, but a little bit of research may pay off with some businesses showing evidence of misleading customers. Some can be seen claiming they have a stock of thousands of bottles and come direct from the wineries, when actually they are small convenience stores ordering on demand, from places you could go to direct yourself.

Tax dodgers

Although businesses misleading customers in regards to what they stock sounds bad enough, there is something far worse taking hold in the UK. Due to the strict tax on alcohol in the UK, continental retailers are targeting British consumers and selling to them without paying UK Duty on the items. The websites look legit ( and claim all is above board, but if you get caught you’re up for the high jump, and the owners aren’t going to be penalised.

Under UK law you are more than welcome to bring any reasonable quantity of wine into the UK as long as:

  • You physically accompany the goods – i.e. you cannot do it by mail order/internet/courier
  • The wine must be for your own consumption – i.e. not for resale or use in a restaurant/pub etc

There are other companies as well as Weinbaule doing this. Uvinum for example who up till last week were advertising 1 litre of Smirnoff for £10.50 delivered into the UK. There is UK excise duty of over £10 per litre plus VAT meaning the tax alone even if the vodka was free would be over £12.

UK excise duty fraud on alcohol costs the Treasury over 1 billion pounds every year and of course we’d all like to save money, but  its quite eveident that there’s also a growing resentment in the UK for companies who take part in tax avoidance/evasion to this scale.

To wrap things up, if you buy online make sure everything’s above board and do a bit of research before hitting the purchase button!

By Connell Green

photo credit: elm3r via photopin cc

Quality Not Quantity – Margaret River Leads The Way

Cabernet is King

A statistic that I picked up whilst working in the Margaret River Wine Region last year has stuck with me every since, I learnt that Margaret River provides around 5% of Australia’s wine production, but offers around 20% of Australia’s premium wine. Margaret River is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon, and according to Vasse Felix‘s Chief Winemaker Virginia Wilcock,

 “When Cabernet is great, it has aromatic perfumes unlike any other variety. It is full of fragrant red berry fruit, sometimes blackberry, floral notes, wonderful savoury, gravelly, earthy characters and light notes of winter herbs (sage, rosemary and thyme). The palate can be succulent and juicy on entry with a wonderful build of voluminous powdery tannin leaving the mouth dry but full of perfume. It has the ability to have elegance and finesse but with fruit power and tannin simply building to the finish.”

As well as the two awesome Cabernets that come out of Vasse Felix (the Estate Cabernet and the Heytesbury, a Cabernet, Malbec and Petit Verdot blend) these three also caught my eye when I was out there:

  • Devils Lair 2009 Cabernet
  • Moss Wood Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
  • Stella Bella Serie Luminosa Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


Cape Naturaliste, Cape Leeuwin, the Indian Ocean and Geographe Bay are all contributors to the Mediterranean growing environment that lead to the more advanced “European” style wines for which Margaret River is renowned for.

I also think it’s fantastic to see the local Shire so involved with nature itself, and having the foresight to see that they need to look after what they’ve got. A representative stated that:

“The Council is committed to using its best endeavours to meet the needs of current and future generations through integration of environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity..”


You’ve only got to take a look at the map here to get an idea of how much there is to discover. With around 1.5 million visitors a year, the Margaret River economy is centered around the wine and tourism area, and with so many cellar doors there is the necessity to stand out to attract as many visitors as possible, although Lawrence Wines have their ‘Lady on a stick’, as well as the Apple Tree at the front gates on Caves Road, which very understandably not to everyone’s taste.

On the weekend of November 22 the region will play host to many big names in the culinary world at this years Gourmet Escape. It will showcase over 25 international, Australian and local food & wine celebrities including Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein, Alex Atala, Sat Bains, Neil Perry and Adriano Zumbo in over 15 unique events set in stunning locations across the Margaret River Wine region.

Heston Blumenthal has commented saying:

The Gourmet Escape is going to be quite unlike any other, you will be able to mix with wine makers, cheese makers, chefs, producers; all kinds of people who are passionate about food and cooking.

All in all I think people are soon going to be paying a lot of attention to this part of the world, with fantastic wine, good surf, amazing people and unrivaled weather, I will definitely be keeping my attention fixed on this stunning destination!

New Zealand Winemakers Look To Regain The Market

NZ Sauvignon Blanc Markets Down

Having suffered two reduced harvests in a row in New Zealand, the UK off-trade sales of Sauvignon Blanc were down by almost 25% in the three months leading up to 25 May.

The same period of time saw prices hike over 10% for the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, this has led to consumers taking to Sauv Blanc from different regions, including Chile.

Marcelo Papa, winemaker at Concha y Toro, believes the coastline region of Casablanca is currently generating Chile’s finest Sauvignon Blancs, which he describes as “dramatic and intensely aromatic”, while those from nearby Leyda are more “gentle and mineral” in style.

The Bright Side

It’s not all bad news from New Zealand though, Winemakers here have described this years vintage as “one of the best vintages in history”, with the 2013 crop up nearly 30% on last year, i’ve got a feeling they’ll be praying that this will help them claw back sales from the clutches of their New World competitors.

From A Wider Perspective

Aside from this news on Sauvignon Blanc alone, the UK Market & Consumer Report states that UK retail sales of wine costing £8-9 a bottle are up by 21% and that Prosecco and Cava continue to pose a threat to Champagne retail sales in the UK.

“The growth of sales of £8-9 wines shows a burgeoning market for high quality wines in the UK and a growing demand from consumers to find out more on the subject,” the report states before claiming that “Wine is really beginning to capture the imagination of drinkers who are increasingly spending more money to find something new, exciting and delicious,”

The report also revealed that off-trade sparkling wine sales were up 10% in volume and 13% in value in the 12 months to May 2013, with cava and Prosecco increasingly encroaching on Champagne’s sales turf.

The report suggested that “If wine is to boost sales and steal market share it must emphasise premium wine characteristics such as limited editions and quality of production,” the report urged.

By Connell Green

photo credit: Carlos Varela via photopin cc

Turkey’s First Master of Wine Relishes Challenge

Dilek Caner, Turkey’s first Master of Wine, has said she aims to do more to push Turkish wines onto the international stage.

Caner, was one of eight new Masters of Wine (MW) announced late last week, and feels that passing the notoriously tough set of exams represents ‘a big life change’ for her.

‘I am very happy that Turkey can now claim an MW,’ said Caner, who is presently working as a full-time wine educator in Texas, USA. ‘There are now very dedicated producers and wine enthusiasts in the country,’ she said. ‘Of course, one of my first steps will be to try and become more involved with Turkish wine, [to] see if I can help in any way. Hopefully we’ll also see more Turkish MWs in the coming years.’

Caner is set on keeping teaching a core part of her life, although she has claimed that there are a few major projects in the pipeline. She did her dissertation on US consumer and trade perspectives around Washington State Syrah, and also holds a PhD in economics from New York University.

With 24 countries holding 312 MWs across 24 countries, the list grows ever longer of those at the top of the wine pyramid.

Of the other seven MWs announced last week, six are based in the UK and one in the US.

They are: Demetri Walters, sales manager for private wine events at Berry Bros & Rudd; Anne McHale, a wine education specialist at Berry Bros & Rudd’s wine school; Jon Pepper, MD of UK importer Buckingham Schenk; Matthew Hemming, fine wine specialist at Averys Wine Merchants in Bristol; Barry Dick, UK wine development director for Accolade Wines; James Davis, senior buyer for retailer, pub owner and brewer Greene King; Amy Christine, of Kermit Lynch, a boutique Burgundy and Bordeauximporter in Berkeley, California, US.

By Connell Green

photo credit: waynemah via photopin cc

What Is Tannin? … Lets Put The Story Straight!

Firstly I would like to say that the subject of tannin is a huge one, and therefore I will be publishing more than one article to help approach the subject, so I do apologise for the amount of information here, but I feel it’s an interesting and informative subject to write about.

Define Tannin

I often hear the term ‘tannin’ when dipping in and out of different wine circles, although I’m very sure that many of those letting this word slip off their tongue are not overly sure what tannin is.

The world of tannin is a confusing one, with scientists only just nailing down exactly what effect it has on the consumer, and the understanding of the role of tannins in red wines, as well as the mouth.

The term ‘tannin’ comes from the process of using extracts from plants including chestnuts to cure leather (referred to as ‘tanning’). This process came about as tannins have a strong link to other chemical entities, most importantly proteins. When they are applied to animal skins, they will turn something soft and flaccid into a substance that’s tough and static enough to make garments such as shoes, belts and saddles.

Many people only attribute tannin with only red wine, which is wrong; all wine has some level of tannin which is introduced through the skin of the grape. With more time on skins or time in barrel, tannin will be introduced to the juice/wine.

Where does tannin come from?

Tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in plants, seeds, bark, wood, leaves and fruit skins.

Good examples of where you can find tannins are:

  • Tea
  • Leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds and Nuts with Skins
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves and other spices
  • Grapes

Tannin and Mouth feel

Tannin is always going to come up when addressing ‘mouthfeel’ and the structure of wines. They are known to contribute two characteristics to red wine character, astringency (probably most significantly) and bitterness

Tannins are thought to taste astringent because they bind with salivary proteins and precipitate them out; this leads to a sense of dryness or roughness in the mouth. The term ‘mouth feel’ has been coined to describe the sensation of wine in the mouth, and it is now recognised that this is an important property of red wines.

To be continued…

I’m thinking that this is proably enough on the subject for the time being, but please keep your eye out for part two, and in the mean time if you have naything to add, please feel free to reply in the comments box below.

By Connell Green

Ashcroft Invests In English Sparkling Venture

The English Sparkling wine industry has got a new contender in Lord Ashcroft after he is looking to complete a £7m deal to buy Gusborne Estate in Kent.

Gusbourne is home to an award-winning Brut Reserve, Blanc de Blanc and Guinevere, and can all be found in stores such as Selfridges and Berry Bros & Rudd retailing for around £20 and £30 a bottle.

Ashcroft has undertaken the sale through the investment company Shellproof, of which he owns around 75%.

The estate comes with close to sixty acres of vines, which is set to increase to around 200 acres with the inclusion of Shellproof’s Halnaker vineyard in Kent as well as other sites in West Sussex.

English wine has been through a revolution. Old grape varieties are out, new owners are in and with wine retailer Majestic announcing that sales of English sparkling wine trebled in 2012 the investment Lord Ashcroft has made could be set to make a mint, reiterated in shares shooting up 10.5p to 42p.

Gusbourne founder and owner Andrew Weeber, who will become chairman of the company, said: “Our recent successes demonstrate the huge potential of the Gusbourne brand and I am very excited to be embarking on a new phase of business development and expansion.”

The news was announced on twitter, with Lord Ashcroft asking whether he was “wise or foolish?” to make such an investment .. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

By Connell Green

photo credit: wallyg via photopin cc