There’s nothing like the opportunity to flex our vinous muscles with a stonking issue of our Summer Grapevine. We’ve been inundated with new wines over the last few months and have narrowed down quite a wide field of hopefuls into a few handfuls of delight. Zippy whites, crunchy reds and lots more besides have exceeded the grade – this promises to be our favourite issue yet. Here’s to Summer!
Is there a more joyous time to the year? Light evenings, a bit of sunshine and the prospect of a few Bank Holidays to look forward to! Did you know that we have a national celebration for our wine industry too? Make sure you’re well stocked for English Wine Week at the end of May into June and don’t forget we’ve got lots of different English wines available in our shops and on our website. We’ve also included the odd parcel or two of ‘once they’re gone they’re gone’ wines like the Sablet and Boroli Barolo. There are some other brilliant wines in here as well as details of three upcoming tutored tastings so if you’re keen to experience the stories behind wine, why not book a ticket or two? Cheers!
descends into the arrival of Father Christmas and my desire to read on is severely tested.
“Here it is, that time of year, the snow is falling there’s lots of cheer…” so begins my son’s favourite bedtime book at the moment. I don’t mind this opening but then it descends into the arrival of Father Christmas and my desire to read on is severely tested. With this in mind, and the seemingly ever earlier arrival of Christmas adverts and offers, we’ve tried to keep this issue of the Grapevine a little more winter and a little less Christmas. We haven’t succeeded in all areas though. In honesty, the wines are totally interchangeable and, we hope, will cover all of your festive needs. Don’t forget that this is only a snippet of what we have and to check in our shops and online if there’s something in particular you’re after. Thanks for your continued custom throughout the year and, my apologies, merry Christmas to you all!
heartier wines and a few treats for a mid-week gloomy evening pick-me-up.
Summer came in the end then, although I suppose that might depend upon your geographical location. We love the autumn at Hennings. Not only are we lucky enough to be based in a part of the country that showcases the seasonal transformation so beautifully, but it also allows us to bring in some heartier wines and a few treats for a mid-week gloomy evening pick-me-up. From Vallone’s show stopping Graticciaia (page 4) to Iona’s sensational Chardonnay (page 13), we’ve got some of the most delicious wines ever featured in an issue. It’s now full steam ahead with our festive planning too so grab these offers while you can. Cheers from all at Hennings!
Our South African tutored tastings have always been hugely popular so we’re incredibly excited to welcome Nick Pentz of Groote Post to our HQ this April. Groote Post is a historic 18th century farm on the Cape’s West Coast where winemaking traditions have been revived by the Pentz family. Unique aspects and cool climatic conditions of the Darling Hills yield superlative fruit. The wines they produce reflect the uniqueness of their vineyards.
Nick will guide you through a selection of their excellent wines giving you the inside line on them, how they make them and why conservation is so important to everyone at the estate. As always, there will be a selection breads and cheeses (I hope Nick, a fourth generation dairyman, approves of them) laid on and the Hennings’ team will be out in force! Please note that this tasting has limited places and will sell out – book early to avoid disappointment!
A little background on Groote Post:
The Groote Post Homestead was built in 1808 and, for a while, was Lord Charles Somersets only genuine “shooting box” and later was the home of well known author, Hildagonda Duckitt. The name is derived from its original status as the largest guarding post in the area, set up to protect cattle from marauding Hottentot stock thieves. Since buying Groote Post in 1972 they later added the adjoining farm, the historic Klawer Valley, and today the combined farms total 3 000 hectares.
In 1904 Peter Pentz’s grandfather founded the Union Dairy in Cape Town. Dairy herds were established over time in Tokai, Philippi and Darling (Groote Post). Peter received the prestigious South African Agricultural Writers National Farmer of the Year Award for 1998 for his excellence in dairy farming. In 2001 the Pentz family decided to sell off their prize Holsten herd to concentrate solely on the production of world-class wine.
The thousands (yes really) of wines the team have tasted over the last few months…
It was light last night when I left work – let joy be unconfined. This issue of The Grapevine is almost finished too, once this bit has been typed, so it’s time for a double celebration. We’ve worked tirelessly on this issue and couldn’t be happier with the result. The thousands (yes really) of wines the team have tasted over the last few months have been distilled down to a seemingly small number and a selection of them can be found within these pages. The rest will make their way into our shops over the next few months so everyone has something new and exciting to explore. The tastings haven’t always been easy (see pages 18 and 19) but they’ve always been fun. There are some brilliant wines in here as well as details of three upcoming tutored tastings so if you’re keen to experience the stories behind wine, why not book a ticket or two? Cheers!
We’ve had a bit of a fag-packet wine tasting calculation in the office and reckon we’ll taste around 2,500-3,000 wines between us by the end of February.
The first couple of months of the New Year are always a mixed bag for us. Following the Christmas chaos, organised chaos I’d like to add, January inevitably feels a little sluggish. There is a flip side to the calm start to the year. As well as having some time to plan our exciting wine tasting events for the year, a little bit of design work (new bags, banners and the like) and having a general website content catch up, I find myself in the gloriously manic wine tasting season.
This season comes around every year and lasts from mid-January to mid-March. Of course, we taste wines all year round but these early months are when we cull and refresh our range the most. We’ll taste anything – low-alcohol wines from Australia? Yep and no thanks; sparkling wine from Spain with a Sherry dosage? Let’s go for it; £5 Italian Sauvignon Blanc to £100 Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon? Everything has equal billing and I’m always delighted to be surprised so why not.
We have a few of options when it comes to tasting new wares. First, there are the agent and ‘body’ events. The agent/importer tastings tend to take place in London and will feature their entire range. They’re good fun and a great opportunity to taste new vintages of wines we already sell. The ‘body’ events can be massive. These are organised by a particular trade body or collective along a theme, so Wines of Australia, Wines of Argentina, The BFT (Big Fortified Tasting) etc. They can be massive affairs that are often pretty daunting – the recent Wines of Australia tasting featured over 1,000 wines from 245 wineries on 80 tables. The second, much more civilised option is to taste at our HQ.
We’ll gather samples from new importers, unrepresented vineyards and wines we’ve found at tastings before our ninja tasting team and crack through them. I would say this is a much softer paced affair than the big external tastings but in reality it’s still pretty full on. Two days into the week and we tasted 40 wines last night (highlights below), have another 72 tonight and the rest of the week is looking pretty stacked. We’ve had a bit of a fag-packet wine tasting calculation in the office and reckon we’ll taste around 2,500-3,000 wines between us by the end of February. I think next year I’ll make a note to keep an eye on numbers so I can bring you the exact number, it might also be worth mentioning it to my doctor.
For us there’s not a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to choosing new wines so when we taste we have to think about how the wine will fit into the existing range and what part of our business it’s for. Will the wine be for wholesale or retail, website or agency, special parcel or new continual line? The wine tastings can be a mixed bag and you can quite easily taste 50 wines and only think one or two are worth pursuing. Other times, like last night, you can taste 40 and love 15 of them – it’s all about tasting as much breadth as possible so we can find wines you’ll love. Last night’s tasting, with one eye on our spring Grapevine, had a range of wines from Argentina, Australia, Burgundy and a few thrown in from New Zealand and Chile. It was a joyously stimulating selection that is sure to appear over the coming months; we know you’ll love them so watch this space.
Puro Corte d’Oro 2012 – an amazing Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot blend from Mendoza. Made by an acclaimed Argentinian winemaker who also plies his trade in Pomerol it’s sumptuous and so classy. A likely special parcel of 20 dozen – should be about £18 (normal price £25). I’m in love with the packaging too.
Serbal Cabernet Franc 2015 – sometimes you come across a winery and winemaker at a wine tasting that can do no wrong. Atamisque is a perfect example of this. They make 13 wines and they’re all brilliant. This is from their Serbal range (all unoaked) and has amazing bell pepper and pencil shaving notes. It has loads of red berry fruit and top-notch freshness – great to see these ‘new’ varieties performing so strongly.
Catalpa Malbec 2013 – Philippe Caraguel from Atamisque can do no wrong for me. Malbec of this quality is hard to find and for sub-£15 it’s crazy. There’s layer upon layer of classic sweet Malbec fruit and subtle French oak (50% of the wine) with a resonating freshness. When this hits I’d be stocking up for summer and beyond. Take a bow Philippe.
VIK 2011 – What better way to finish a Monday night tasting than with an ‘icon’ wine? It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère blend from Millahue with a splash of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah. Sure, a £100 bottle of red from Chile might not be a school-night pleasure but it’s astoundingly fresh and complex. Think Bordeaux with a much broader aromatic range. You should take a peek at their winery/holistic retreat vik.cl/en/ – heavens above…