15 February 2010 3:34 pm | Posted by siteadmin

A little story about a very big  champagne born out of passion and imagination, handmade in the traditional way by the Cattier family and now voted the world’s number one champagne. brignac11

 First a little about the champagne itself and secondly some important comments on its recent status as the world’s number one.

This great champagne uses only the first pressing of harvested grapes and is thus classified as a ‘Prestige Cuvee’. A prestige cuvee contains only the richest wine from each harvest, enabling the champagne to become much more complex and delicate as it ages. Armand de Brignac owes its light, racy effervescence to the quality of its chardonnay grapes, these grapes come only from villages rated Grand Cru and Premier Cru. The berry driven pinot noir adds strength and boldness and is responsible for the depth of the Armand de Brignac palate and Pinot Meunier brings to the  champagne roundness, nuance and fruitiness to the bouquet and taste.

After the grapes are pressed, the Chateau’s oenologues Jean-Jacques and Alexander Cattier create the signature cuvee blend that embodies the quality and uncompromised individuality of Amand de Brignac. A percentage of the finest harvests stored from prior years is added to the newly harvested juice to ensure consistency between bottlings. This blending of top vintages preserves the Chateau’s character and brings the vivacity and excellence of the champagne art to the front.

When the champagne has been bottled and sealed the bottles are stored over 30 metres underground in cellars considered among the deepest in Champagne, these cellars maintain a constant cool temperature conducive to the slow natural aging process that enhances the classical character of Armand de Brignac. The remuage and degorgement process is again traditional, every operation is done by hand with no use of mechanized riddling devices—-uncompromised quality can only be guaranteed by time-honored techniques

Following remuage and degorgement, the blend of wine ia augmented with a special liqueur de dosage, a liqueur made from a secret formula passed down through the family. The liqueur is created from fine cane sugar and a blend of the very best still wines from prior harvests and is aged in oaken casks, which impart subtle accents to the champagne. This step is especially important in maintaining the unique nature of Armand de Brignac, as no other wine in the world includes the same combination of meticulously selected wine vintages from the Chateau’s private terroir. The end result of this long drawn out process is a cuvee of great distinction, a singular example of French Champagne Tradition.

This marvellously complex and full bodied champagne has a bouquet that is both fresh and lively, with light floral notes. On the palate Armand de Brignac has a sumptuous, racy fruit character that is perfectly integrated with the wine’s subtle brioche accents. The champagne’s texture is deliciously creamy, pairing rich depth with a long silky finish.


Yes the world’s number one—-2009 saw the world’s most respected wine critics and sommeliers conduct a rigorous blind tasting of more than 1000 brands of champagne. The results were published in ‘Fine Champagne Magazine’, the only international publication devoted to champagne and an authority on the industry.

Each champagne was rated on a 100 point scale. The process was so strict that, if judges’ scores were more than four points apart, the champagne would be re-tested and re-assessed. When the final results were presented, Armand de Brignac was ranked number one among the world’s best champagnes.brignac15



1.   96 points—Armand de Brignac Brut Gold
2.   95 points—2000 Dom Perignon
3.   94 points—1998 Mumm R. Lalou
4.   94 points—2002 Roederer Cristal
5.   94 points—2000 Egerier de Pannier
6.   94 points—1998 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill
7.   93 points—1998 Dom Perignon Rose
8.   93 points—1999 Jacquart Blanc de Blancs
9.   93 points—2002 Roederer Cristal Rose
10. 93 points—Chartogne-Taillet Fiacre

             The world is now aware of Armand de Brignac


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Whispering Angel – Cotes de Provence Rose

18 June 2009 9:07 am | Posted by siteadmin

Are there Angels in Provence   ???

Yes most definitely yes,  a certain alluring and bewitching corner of  Provence has thousands of Angels, angelall pink with shimmering and enriching qualities. So captivating and ideal are the conditions in this magical corner of South East France that these celestial Angels secretly keep reproducing around the same time each year when the warm, misty, quiet mornings of autumn prevail. Although these Angels from Provence can be mysterious, enchanting and unquestionably unique, they are generally accessible to us Homo Sapiens, but like all known Angels in limited quantities only.

 Some say Angels are divine messengers from heaven and portray paragons of virtue. Our Angels are certainly divine, heavenly, full of virtue and contain the purity of inner beings. Our special Angel is the “Whispering Angel” from Chateau d’ Esclans  nestling on the outskirts of the charming village of La Motte, not too far from the well known coastal town of St. Tropez in Provence. “Whispering Angels”are born out of old grenache vines and live in the splendour of one of  the most beautiful chateauxdesclans-chateau in the whole of France, these Angels lead a great life which can now be shared with you.

“Whispering Angel” is part of a kindred family with a distinguished hierarchy and substantial pedigree. This family is made up of the Finest Rose Wines in the World, Rose Wines of such class they need to be tasted to be believed. “Whispering Angel” belongs to a family desclans-bottle-glass(excuse the gender) made up of  the mother, the grandmother and the great grandmother as follows:

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Whispering Angel,  is the beautiful baby

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Esclans,   is the gorgeous mother

     Chateau d’Esclans,   Les Clans,  is the gracious grandmother

     Chateau d’Esclans,  Garrus,  is the resplendent great grandmother

How do we describe these extraordinary wines which grace the tables of many of the worlds finest Hotels and Restaurants, maybe first we should highlight the exceptional people behind this remarkable estate. It’s a huge challenge to turn a wine grouping like rose whose reputation as a good quaffing wine is ok, but not great, into a wine of substance that can now sit comfortably at the same table with great red and white wines like those from Bordeaux and Burgundy. This challenge was taken up by Sacha Lichine the owner of Chateau d’ Esclans and the son of the distinguished wine writer and past owner of Chateau Prieure Lichine in Margaux, Alexis Lichine.

Sacha is the driving force behind this accomplished enterprise, his intense sacha1belief that rose wines could be propelled high up in the league of fine wine is equally matched by the investment he has committed and the astute move to persuade Patrick Leon out of retirement to take the lead as head winemaker. Patrick Leon  one of the worlds leading winemakers has leon1ptbeen a family friend for many decades and was before his original retirement the chief winemaker at Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and one of Patrick’s many claims to fame was his lead role with Robert Mondavi in developing Opus One at the Napa Valley winery in California, now one of the worlds greatest wines. With a great believer and a great winemaker success was inevitable.

If we can get a little technical and discuss the actual wines and bearing in mind the significant variation in costs, then the inevitable question that comes to mind is what is the difference between Chateau d’Esclans and other Provence roses and what are the differences between Chateau d’Esclans’s own four roses.

 desclans-vineyardsIts important we highlight the main differences between Chateau d’Esclans and other top Provence estates. First the Chateau predominatly uses Grenache from vines up to eighty years old for all of the four roses they produce and using this grape variety is unique in its own right.

 Secondly they adopted a unique process to Provence whereby  85 to 90 percent of all four roses are made from “free run juice” and limited very light and soft pneumatic pressings of between 0 to 2 bar for the remainder of the process.

The third major initiative is the meticulous and lengthy process of temperature control which starts with early morning harvesting with ice packs in each of the pickers basket, the grapes are then chilled before a short maceration process, then the juice is free run via gravity and the grapes own natural weight before a very limited and light pressing. The cooling process continues in the fermenting halls via refrigerated steel vats and yet another unique system for the wines stored in burgundy barrels, desclans-barrels-2these barrels have cooling tubes located through the centre which manages a slow fermentation over 3 to 4 months which in turn produces special wines of great taste, complexity and fragrant aromas unlike no other Rose Wines in the World.

The select processes and creativity mentioned above are not only very uncommon in wine making, but very time consuming and costly and only by tasting the wines can one realize the significant difference between the rose wines of Chateau d’Esclans and other best in class growers. Skill, effort and commitment  always reward in the end.

The following provides more detail regarding the individual wines:

Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel—the grapes are selected from the south exposure of the vineyard. The grape varieties utilized are Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Rolle (Vermentino). Maceration is at 10-12 C to extract maximum aromas. The assemblage has been made without barrel fermentation to keep the freshness and all the fruit flavours. This is a beautiful wine, delicately scented with lovely flavours and enchanting aromatics. Soft and round it displays layers of exotic and seductive fruit.

Chateau d’EsclansEsclans—the grapes are selected from the best sections of the chateau, mainly from a south east exposure. 80 year old Grenache provides 39% of the juice, the balance of the Grenache being selected from 30 to 40 year old vines, some Rolle (Vermentino) is utilized to provide balance to the blend. The grapes are sorted manually three times with maceration following at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas. The wine is partly vinified in demi-muids (500 to 600 litres barrels). The bottle bouquet of this class rose wine is powerful with an abundance of honey and melon sweet- smelling fruit. The underlying wine has an inner core of sumptuous and well proportioned fruit and acidity and a just fabulous finish.

Chateau d’Esclans,   Les Clans—the grapes are selected from the best south east parts of the vineyard. Grenache is the primary grape variety with 45% harvested from 80 year old vines. A little Rolle (Vermentino) being included to balance the blend. The grapes are tasted and bunches individually selected all by hand in the vineyard early morning before moving on to the winery. Maceration takes place at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas and then only free run juice is selected before pressing. Vinification is exclusively in demi-muids (500 and 600 litres barrels) for 7 months with burgundian style batonnage. This remarkable wine will age well for up to 5 years. A gorgeously complex wine with exceptional richness. This rose wine exhibits huge amounts of fragrance, admirable levels of concentrated fruit with a lovely long lasting fresh finish.

Chateau d’EsclansGarrus—the grapes are selected from the best south east parts of the vineyard and harvested at optimum maturity. Grenache is the primary grape variety with 48% harvested from 80 year old vines. A little Rolle (Vermentino) being included to balance the blend. The grapes are tasted and bunches individually selected all by hand in the vineyard early morning before moving on to the winery. Maceration takes place at 10 to 12 C to extract maximum aromas and then only free run juice is selected before pressing. Vinification is exclusively in demi-muids (500 and 600 litres barrels) for 8 months with burgundian style batonnage. This top cuvee will age well for up to 5 years. Yes, stunningly opulent and sensationally concentrated, yet very cultured, this monumental rose has such intense flavours which release magnificent and compelling quotas of fruit as the wine leisurely cascades over the palate, with a gorgeous finish that  lasts for ever and ever.

Remember— Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Bjorn all believed in Angels



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Wakefield Estate, Clare Valley, Australia

29 May 2009 9:33 am | Posted by siteadmin

Wakefield Estate is a leading family-owned winery established in 1969 in the Clare Valley region of Australia. Known as Taylors Wines, (unfortunately not any relation), they are one of the most highly regarded and awarded cool climate wine producers with the Wakefield brand being exported to Europe and the UK since 1985. Wakefield owns 400 hectares of vineyards surrounding the winery, making this the largest single estate vineyard in Australia. The first Wakefield Estate wines were released over 30 years ago with the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1973 winning gold medals at every national wine show including the prestigious Montgomery Trophy at the Adelaide Wine Show. A  reputation was forged and continues today with vintages of the same wines winning medals at national and international shows every year. The range consistently delivers quality and appeal their classic fruit definition and enviable ability to age.

A recently released wine is a juicy medium bodied Pinot Noir from Adelaide Hills with fresh cherry flavours, spice and plum, lovely soft French oak gives some length to the finish. 

We have selected three wines from their newest Eighty Acres range. This  range was created to celebrate the heritage when in 1969 Bill Taylor first got his hands dirty planting vines on the traditional 80 acre blocks that make up the Taylor family vineyard, the first block was named “Eighty Acres”.   

Eighty Acres Chardonnay Viognier is a lovely wine, full of aromas of  apricot and spice with Clare Valley Chardonnay offering aromas of pineapple, peach, melon and citrus. The wine has a luscious, round mouthfilling palate, is medium to full bodied and a rich, almost creamy finish.

The Eighty Acres Cabernet Shiraz Merlot has a complex nose with aromas of blackcurrants, plum and mint with savoury characters of dried herbs, spice, cedar and chocolate adding to its charm. Rich in texture but with a soft, round mid palate with long elegant tannins and a velvety, persistent finish.

Our third wine is the Eighty Acres Shiraz Viognier with its overt lifted aroma of black berry fruits, plums, licorice and subtle apricots and underlying aromas of vanilla, cinnamon, dark chocolate, violets and cedar adding to the complexity. A medium bodied wine,  rich and smooth with delicious juicy flavours which last well after the wine has finished.

Another new comer with a lifted, complex aroma of subtle white peach and nectarine combined with another layer of aromas of cream and cashew nuts from barrel fermentation is Jaraman Chardonnay.  A combination of  Clare Valley grapes giving richness and weight with fleshy stone fruit flavours and the elegance and length coming from grapes grown in Adelaide Hills. A clean crisp structure with great persistence.

I have always enjoyed the flavours from Coonawarra wines and Jaraman Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine with the characteristic Coonawarra black olive/mint bouquet with a powerful, sweet and fleshy palate from the Clare Valley. a a superb richness of cedary oak and spice with blackcurrant, mint and dark chocolate characters on the nose.

 To help introduce our customers to the fine Clare Valley wines from Wakefield Estate, we have introduced a special offer which we hope you will find attractive and an incentive to try these superb Australian wines.


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Wines of Mallorca…Vinyes Mortitx

7 May 2009 9:15 am | Posted by siteadmin

 MALLORCA….Always Beautiful Sandy Beaches with lots of Sunshine and now Wonderfully Delicious Wines

With regard to great holidays in the sun, Mallorca is well known all around the world, but  with regards to Mallorcan wines outside this beautiful island, they are not so well known. Maybe the reason for their limited availability outside the island is that only a dozen or so years ago most of the red wines produced were boardering on the harsh side and lacking finesse, while the white wines were mainly dry, thin and too acidic, only being enjoyed by the locals with most tourists sticking to beer, Menorcan gin and of course jugs of fruit filled sangria.

Although the wine making state of affairs has dramatically changed for the better in recent years, even so, the wines are sadly still relatively unknown outside the Ballearic Islands. There are many vineyards large and small around Mallorca with about twenty now producing stunning red and white wines along with some very decent rose, wines of such quality would command at least double the price if they were produced in Rioja or Ribera del Duero.  Many of these imagen2instalacion2vineyards I have visited over the past four to five years and can truly testify to the huge changes made to both facilities and the processing of wine e.g. modern stainless steel equipment and storage tanks, refrigeration and proper control of the fermentation temperature, automatic irrigation systems, much experimenting and more use of oak barrels for maturing wines and most importantly greatly increased planting and quality spacing of the more popular grape varities like cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, chardonnay, viognier and malvasia and these varities are now producing many deliciously tasting varietal wines as well as carefully crafted blends.

Mallorca is perceived by most visitors to be an island in the sun, with many fine and interesting coastal resorts and beautiful golden beaches with crystal clear and seductively tainted azure waters and then to be arid,dry and uninteresting further inland where even today very few venture. For certain that is not the case, many parts of the central plain are extremely fertile, lush with ever ending fields of natures flowers, sweet smelling herbs and tiny leaved shrubs. Follow the ever winding narrow roads lined either side with wild poppys and you will also come upon acres and acres of  fields of deep red soil producing each year successions of crops like strawberries, artichokes, potatos and green salads. Further on you could find huge orchards ripe with growing peaches, nectarines, oranges, lemons, almonds and we must not forget to mention thousands and thousands of olive trees. The whole island is a paradise, sadly to so few visitors.

The centre of the island around Inca and Manacor (note, Nadal territory )  is where the majority of  Mallorcan vineyards are located, although you can find small industrious and successful growers around other parts of the island. Traditionally the grape of the island has and still is Monastrell, on its own it simply does not produce good red wines, but blended with other varities, the results can be simply outstanding. 

imagen2presentacion3Out of the many first class vineyards in Mallorca our favourite has to be MORTITX, a sleeping beauty  and that is why we import, retail and wholesale six of their wonderfully complex, deep and rounded wines. Mortitx  is located in the quiet North East of  Mallorca a few kilometors from Pollensa on the steep rising road from Pollensa to Soller up in a hidden valley within the Tramontana  mountain range. An awsome and captivating  location with panoramic views looking down on to the enormous and attractive bays of Pollensa and Alcudia. Visitors are most welcome to taste and buy wines at the winery whose location is breathtakingly sited below  rugged and steep  pinky mauve coloured mountains with eagles and kites souring high above the sun baked pine trees and cliff tops and all around you take in the inviting scent of wild rosemary, thyme and juniper. This most appealing winery is owned by a number of private shareholders,many of whom own hotels and fine restaurants on the island and make available these exceptional Mortitx wines for sale in their own establishments.

From this magnificent vineyard we list the following wines:

Mortitx Negre Anyada Tinto 

            Mortitx Rodal Pla Tinto  

             Mortitx Syrah 

Mortitx L’u Tinto 

Mortitx Rosat  

 Mortitx Blanc  

Mortitx Dolce de Gel





These wines can be purchased via our website or by visiting our Retail Outlet near Southampton

For Food Matches with the Mortitx Wines please check on which takes you to our websites specialist section on ” Matching Wines with Foods” then just type in the name of the wine in the box located under “TYPE IN WINE”.

Happy Mallorcan Days

 Updated 23 September 2010

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New Zealand Wines…Pinot Noir

28 April 2009 12:06 pm | Posted by siteadmin


Pinot Noir is one of the more difficult grapes to grow and make into a fine wine, not only must the climate and soil characteristics must be right, the winemaker or oenologist’s skills also have a major part to play as do the forces of nature.  This wine at its best will leave a lasting impression on the palate and in the memory and a desire for more My passion comes with the appealing qualities of Pinot Noir – its soft, velvety texture, almost like imagining sensual liquid silk, it is unique and definitely my first love.
Its aroma is often one of the most complex of all varietals and can be intense with a ripe-grape or black cherry aroma, frequently accented by a pronounced spiciness that suggests cinnamon, sassafras, or mint. Ripe sweet tomato is also a common description for identifying Pinot Noir. It is full-bodied and rich but not heavy, high in alcohol, yet neither acidic nor tannic, with substantial flavour despite its delicacy.

One of my favourite Pinot Noirs has to be from Hunter’s Wines, Marlborough, New Zealand. I have known Jane Hunter for over 20 years and have always followed and sold her wines. She is the most acclaimed and awarded woman in New Zealand’s wine industry and was made OBE in 1993 for her services to the wine industry, recipient of a CNZM in the 2009 New Zealand New Year Honours List and most recently  World Class New Zealand 2009 Award. Jane is acknowledged as one of the first to capture international attention for Marlborough as an influential wine growing region. Her wines have won innumerable international medals, awards and accolades.  

hunters-pinotnoir1I have recently re-tasted Hunters Pinot Noir 2006 (16.50). This is an easy drinking wine with light, delicate cherry fruit. Savoury flavours mix with spicy characters on the palate.

Hunters Pinot Noir 2007 is wonderfully smooth and generous with ripe cherry, plum and raspberry fruit combined with a touch of sweet spice which is so characteristic of Pinot and then there is a soft clean finish. This wine will be available as from May/ June this year.

For the record, Jane Hunter also produces the following superb wines :

Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (14.57)
A classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc  with intense tropical/gooseberry flavours dominating the palate leaving a lingering finish

Kaho Roa Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (15.91)
hunters-kaho-roa2A subtle twist of oak blended with very ripe, slightly less overt gooseberry fruit character of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. A very soft approachable wine

Chardonnay 2006 (15.91)
Rich and elegant with characteristically ripe fruit flavour, superbly balanced following maturation in French oak.

I can highly recommend Jane Hunter’s fine wines, they easily match other New Zealand wines that cost considerably more – I will mention no names

My perfect food match that also brings fond memories of New Zealand to mind, would be grilled snapper and Hunter’s Pinot Noir but for help in matching Pinot Noirs with food please click on which takes you to our websites specialist section on “MATCHING WINES WITH FOOD”, then just type in Pinot Noir in the box located under “TYPE IN WINE”


Happy Pinot Noir Days



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