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!
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!
The Grapevine 41…an opportunity to wrap up and drink some richer wines…
Well, thank goodness that’s over. There’s nothing I like more than moving into winter and the opportunity to wrap up and drink some richer wines. The team here have been hard at work compiling our festive favourites into The Grapevine 41 for your vinous pleasure over the next couple of months and think we’ve cracked it. Obviously, with over 1,000 products we’ve got masses more available both online and in our shops so if there’s something else you’re after then peruse via your preferred method – I’m certain you’ll find it. All at Hennings would like to wish you well for the coming festive period and take the opportunity to thank you all for continuing to support the independent – we couldn’t do it without you.
Indigenous grape varieties such as Fernão Pires and Touriga Nacional sit happily alongside international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir at Quinta de SantAna.
On a recent trip to Portugal I found myself negotiating hair pin turns on a mission to seek out the hidden gem that is Quinta de SantAna. Nestled in the hills some 35km or so North of Lisbon I found myself rounding the final corner and being greeted by the unmistakably yellow estate. For James Frost and his wife Ann, this place signifies so much more than a home for themselves and their seven sons.
Ann’s side of the family, the Von Fürstenburgs, owned and lived at the predominantly arable estate until the revolution in 1974 when the family returned to Germany and the gates were closed. A family friend ensured that the estate didn’t become completely derelict and in time the farm was handed down to Ann and her husband James, an Englishman from Dorset. They then set about not only turning the estate into the most beautiful setting for weddings, parties and holiday accommodation but also painstakingly re-instating its vineyard. James’ background is that of farming and with the help of his winemaker has certainly played to his strengths developing the vineyard and ensuring that quality, not quantity, is the key. Indigenous grape varieties such as Fernão Pires and Touriga Nacional sit happily alongside international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
The estate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic and as a result the whites are crisp and the reds fresh and full of character. The winery is small yet perfectly formed with two lagares (granite troughs) where the grapes are still trodden in the traditional way. These are surrounded by the more modern vats and stainless steel tanks. The combination of the traditional and modern can be found throughout Quinta de SantAna. Nods to the history of the Quinta being found everywhere including the name of their top wine – Baron Von Fürstenburg.
The variety and quality of Portuguese wine has come on in leaps and bounds recently and as is often the case in relatively underrated areas of the wine world there are some real bargains to be had. We think that these wines offer real value and are well worth your attention. Saúde!
Taste all of the Quinta’s wines at our tutored tasting at the end of November.
Brunello Di Montalcino 2010 vintage was perfect in Montalcino and, unusually, almost uniformly so for the region.
It’s not often that we hear the phrase ‘vintage of a lifetime’ bandied around by critics and the press, unless it’s in relation to Bordeaux, so hearing the reports about this amazing Brunello vintage we decided it warranted further inspection. The wines were unveiled to the world earlier this year following their customary and legally defined 50 months of aging, and the trade has had plenty of time to evaluate and exalt its brilliance.
Montalcino is a beautiful hilltop town in the heart of Tuscany (think rolling hills and Cyprus trees) and the wine that bears its name is made from 100% Sangiovese – the Chianti grape variety.
The 2010 vintage was perfect in Montalcino and, unusually, almost uniformly so for the region. Whilst the wines are powerful, they are far from being austere, being fruit driven with soft tannins combining freshness, structure, opulence and balance.
We have secured a shipment of two wines from Brunello’s amazing 2010 vintage. The ‘Cupio’ is open, juicy and invites you to jump in right now thanks to its berry fruit and a richly textured palate. The ‘Pinino’ is, whilst very drinkable now, the wine that will reward those with a touch more patience; it has the makings of a great wine with all the structure and fruit indicating a long life ahead of it.
You would have thought that having already visited various wine regions of Spain on buying trips more than a dozen times over the last 25 years there would be very little that could surprise one. My latest jaunt, at the end of April, flew in the face of this idea whilst invigorating my love for Spanish wine.
Starting in the Ribera del Duero, located on Spain’s northern plateau, our intrepid party visited the Legaris winery. This winery grows all its grapes in small bunches and tends them by hand. This, combined with their judicious use of barrels, means that the wines have great concentration and are a brilliant match to barbecued meats. Next stop Rioja.
Rioja, in north-central Spain, is easily the most famous Spanish wine region and takes its name from the Rio (river) Oja. Bodegas Bilbaínas is one of the oldest estates in the D.O. and was one of the 10 original wineries to register as a bottler in the early 20th century. As land wasn’t as scarce at the time of its founding all of its vineyards surround the winery, so they have excellent control during each vintage.
Costers del Segre, to the north-west of Barcelona, was next on the agenda with a visit to the incredible Raimat vineyards. It’s hard to believe that 100 years ago the area was desert and it wasn’t until the Spanish government built a canal system that the area was turned over to vines. Raimat was the first winery to be established here and today produces around 85% of the D.O.’s wines in one of Europe’s largest vineyards. Their fantastically valued wines, made under the head winemaker Mark Nairn, have that typical Spanish wine depth and richness but also lovely elegance and length.
It’s been at least 25 years since I last visited Priorat and it has changed so much. Last time I visited there were four wineries; now there are in excess of 90! Going to Scala Dei was like visiting an old friend as I’d visited it on a previous trip. It’s the oldest winery in Priorat, dating back to the 12th century, and has a very limited production due to its low-yielding hand-harvested Garnatxa vines. The wines are stunning and I’ve picked out the Scala Dei Garnatxa as a brilliant example of modern Priorat winemaking. We also stock the flagship Scala Dei Cartoixa which gives a fantastic expression of the more traditional Priorat style.
Last up was Peñedes and a visit to Codorníu and their delicious Cavas. Cava, although much derided, is made in the Traditional Method (see Steph’s piece on p14) and offers great depth and structure without breaking the bank. The Ecologica is a great summer fizz and is a real crowd-pleaser.
Well, that was the trip finished; time to board the early flight home and read up on my notes. What was a sprint between five of Spain’s best regions became the perfect opportunity to rekindle a love-affair with Spanish wines. I hope you enjoy the selection – it was tricky keeping it to six.
Chilled red wine might seem like heresy but it might be time to think again.
Before you wheel the barbecue out of hibernation this year, perhaps a little vinous preparation might be in order. No doubt your fridge will be well stocked with white and rosé in anticipation of a glorious summer, but may I suggest a quick shift-about to make some room for a couple of bottles of chilled red wine as well?
Some of you may well have tried a wonderfully chilled Beaujolais, as indeed we have recommended below, along with some others. However there are lots of wines you could choose that can be enjoyed at a cooler temperature. Follow the five tips below and you won’t go far wrong.
1. Fresh and fruity. Beaujolais being the classic example of chilled red wine. Oonce chilled it becomes refreshing without losing any character.
2. Chilled, not ice cold. 45 minutes in a fridge should do it. Don’t treat it like a white wine and leave in the fridge all day as most of the delicate flavours will be muted and it’ll taste dull. The only exception to this would be a sparkling red such as Lambrusco, which is best served nice and cold.
3. Cool climate. Generally, coastal wineries or high altitude wines without too much weight or alcohol with good acidity are best.
4. Light not heavy. Heavier wines tend to lose too much character when chilled and become very clumsy. Choose lighter varietals like Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cab Franc, not Cab Sauvignon or Shiraz.
5. Have fun and experiment!