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Bruno Clair Marsannay Les Longeroies

14 Mar

The first time I worked in a wine-related job I was helping to organise a big wine competition. Back then, I knew that I liked wine, and actually thought I knew something about it, but my instinct was that good wine really just came from France, possibly Italy, and occasionally Spain. How wrong I was.

Uncorked by Richard R.

Before that job started, I set myself a goal. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to grips with the complexities of the wines of Burgundy. With all those bottles to taste and sample, wouldn’t it just be an ideal chance to understand the specifics of the different villages and appellations – the tiny nuances of character that define that region? Well, much to my surprise, the producers of top Burgundy are not the biggest supporters of international wine competitions, but the real thrill was that instead I learned about dozens of wine-producing countries that I hadn’t understood were making great wines of world class. (more…)

The Undisputed Charms of Central Otago: Pisa Range Estate Black Poplar Pinot Noir 2007

29 Feb

Living and breathing the beauty of Central Otago for close to a decade endows you with a unique collective resonance about how valuable its assets are. Nowhere else in New Zealand is quite as dramatic as the deep south, lying at 45 degrees latitude, boasting textbook seasonal extremities. Cavernous valleys and gorges harmonize with wide unfurled plateaus, while steep sugar loaf hills crowned by snow-capped peaks cascade down to silty, glacial lakes and rivers. Upon absorbing for the first time this continental, alpine, at times desert-like milieu, you would be forgiven for thinking this environment was hostile to growing grapes to produce world-class wines.

However the 1980s saw a general country-wide viticultural awakening, and Central Otago sowed its vinous roots, heralding a future as a progenitor of (amongst others) superlative Pinot Noir wines. Growing up in this wondrous playground ushered in my prefatory taste of Pinot Noir – and it is a love of mine that since has not waned.

It makes absolute sense then to select and share with you all a Pinot Noir from this place I know intimately, typifying all that is glorious about this grape variety. One of the more remarkable mountain ranges in Central Otago is the Pisa Range, forming the boundary of the Cromwell basin. It begins just 10km north of the Cromwell township on the shores of the man-made Lake Dunstan. Pinot Noir plantings here have proven incredibly successful, and an estate specialising in Pinot I have been continually impressed with is cradled by this magnificent and imposing landmark – this is the appropriately named Pisa Range Estate.

Uncorked by Sonia P.


The Sparkle of the French Alps – Savoie Ayse, Domaine Belluard

22 Feb

When I serve this highly unusual sparkling wine from the French mountains it seems always to make my guests smile, both because of the taste and its story.

Most Savoie wines are produced from vineyards not far from the town of Chambéry, the capital city of the Savoie department. Ayse sparkling wines, however, are from a tiny vineyard area on the steep, sunny slopes behind the town of Bonneville, in the valley of the river Arve, which flows down from Mont Blanc and the town of Chamonix. These are the closest vineyards to my French mountain home, about 40 minutes drive away.

Ayse or Ayze (both spellings exist) is a single designated cru for the Savoie appellation, applicable to sparkling wines made in the Traditional Method and for a tiny quantity of still white wines. Both must be made predominantly from the rare Gringet grape. Domaine Belluard is the only winegrower in the appellation of any size and they own just 12 hectares (27 acres) of Gringet out of less than 20 hectares remaining in this appellation. Historically this area once had a much greater area of vineyards, but being so close to Geneva and to major ski resorts, unfortunately housing has often taken precedence over vineyards.

Uncorked by Brett