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Fresh New Beginnings

It is currently 27 degrees (I had to check my phone for confirmation) as I write this [sorry Al, took a bit of time to upload…!]. Most of the UK’s been bathed in sunny, clear blue skies for what is coming up to a week now. As much as I like this weather, it would be very un-British to not moan so I cannot resist in saying that I’m certainly looking forward to cooler evenings and fresher, less sweltering days [no sooner said than done!].

Being my first post, it would be rude not to introduce myself and tell you a little snippet about my background working in the wine trade and Hennings. I must admit, I’m not one to usually talk openly about myself! I have tried to come up with a fun way of relating my progression in the trade with a style of wine. This sounded so easy in my head compared to typing it down, so here goes….

I was incredibly fortunate to land a role at family-owned Nautilus Estate in New Zealand’s Marlborough region…

To kick start my career in wine, I joined Hennings’ Chichester shop some six years ago, fresh from completing the WSET Level 2 award, which we teach if you’re interested. It was an exciting opportunity to work in a small, close-knit team where you could learn from one-another. This was no more evident than gradually tasting through the range. Hosting producer tasting events became invaluable, as did our Enomatic tasting machines. This encouraged me to undertake my WSET Level 3 award, which was a step-up in difficulty and stress factor, especially when tasting wines blind!

Albarino would be my first wine when comparing these early days to a bottle of vino as it’s new, refreshing and very approachable. It’s grown all over the world but its home is the Rias Baixas region in Spain. The wines are utterly refreshing, and show an array of stone fruits and citrus with zippy acidity thanks to the cool, coastal climate. It just calls for a hot summer’s day enjoyed with friends, and pairs beautifully with any seafood dish – in particular paella or risotto. My pick would be the sensational Mar de Frades Albarino.

Fast forward a couple of years and, with my experience and knowledge growing, I had an itch to go work a vintage in a winery – an ideal opportunity to see the whole winemaking process from grape to bottle. I was incredibly fortunate to land a role at family-owned Nautilus Estate in New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It was an experience that encompassed working with like-minded individuals from around the world, in all aspects of winemaking from processing picked grapes through to filling and sampling tank/barrel fermentations. This experience helped me grow as a person and bought with it a wealth of knowledge upon the finale of the season and my return to Hennings.

It would be easy to pick New Zealand Pinot Noir for my comparison (especially coming back with a particular taste for it) but Chenin Blanc, and its ability to change with age, would be my second comparative pick. Made in a variety of styles, it has this lovely balance of fresh orchard and stone fruits when young but given time will develop honeyed characteristic. Always an underrated option and one I easily recommend to people wanting to try something new! It’s very hard to beat the brilliant False Bay Slow Chenin Blanc 2020 when it comes to Chenin Blanc at a sensational price.

A bit of a gem that really opened my eyes to Greek winemaking and wider possibilities…

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and with it, exciting new opportunities arise! Not least when referring to the heartfelt closure of our Chichester shop and a new opportunity to work in Digital Marketing here at Head Office. I am looking forward to seeing yet another aspect of the wine trade and where this journey will progress to for me. I’ll be posting regularly here, as well as through our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels. You may even see me working an odd (not literally) shift in one of our Petworth or Pulborough stores so don’t hesitate to say hello! So, for the final wine, I’ve gone a bit off-piste with the native grape variety Xinamavro (please try the Thymiopoulos Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes 2019) from Greece. A bit of a gem that really opened my eyes to Greek winemaking and wider possibilities. Often compared stylistically as sitting somewhere between Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir, the wines are light red in colour revealing an abundance of fresh, crunchy red fruits; cherries, strawberry and raspberry, with liquorice and tobacco notes developing with further age. Cracking wines that will age for decades – hopefully like my career in wine!

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The Grapevine 46

The Grapevine 46

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!

View issue 46 of The Grapevine

South Africa’s Western Coast with Nick Pentz | Groote Post Tutored Tasting

Groote Post

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.

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The Grapevine 42

The Grapevine 42_cropped

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!

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