Join world renowned antipodean wine expert Matthew Jukes and the Hennings team for the latest grand tour of Matthew’s 100 Best Roadshow at our Pulborough HQ (RH20 1AQ). Yet again there promises to be a rip-snorting lineup of Australia’s very best wines offering all an unparalleled opportunity to explore this beautiful country’s best wines. Estates include Leeuwin Estate, Brokenwood, Tyrrell’s, Jim Barry and Wakefield among many others. A-must attend tasting for any wine lover.
I often look back to my school days and think “if someone had told me then that working in wine is all science and geography I would have probably paid a lot more attention!” Therefore, these days, I like to make it my mission to spread the word that there is so much more to wine than just a cheeky ‘wine Wednesday’ tipple!
At Hennings we are very proud that we’re a WSET approved provider. This means that we are qualified to teach both Level 1 and Level 2 courses from the WSET. You wouldn’t know unless you’ve attended onen but The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) offers qualifications in wines, spirits and sake, for professionals and enthusiasts.
A couple of weeks ago we held a level one day course in our Chichester branch, and I’ll let you into a little secret – teaching these courses is one of my favourite parts of my job. Colin (Nicholson #RM) and I get to meet people from different corners of the wine world, whether that be customers from our trade outlets, members of our own team or retail customers who are keen to find out more about the vinous delights we recommend to you each week!
The Level 1 course is great fun and is a day course that is jam packed with enough wine knowledge to give a confidence boost in both choosing and recommending from a wine list. We cover how wine is made as well as the impacts of climate; winery technique; principle grape varieties; food and wine matching and a whole heap of tasting! For good measure we also throw in a few activities from word searches to grape dissection!
For me it’s great when the room starts to get as interested and excited about the structures and stories behind a wine as I do. Once our budding Level 1 candidates have passed the day course with flying colours, we love to see familiar faces book onto our Level 2 course. This one is much more in depth and runs for two hours a week for eight weeks. Over these weeks we get to build a great relationship with our students, each week covering a wine region or specific grape variety in much more detail and of course we taste and analyse a plethora of wine styles to ensure we keep the palates happy with the practical elements of the course!
You may now be wondering what makes me so qualified to impart all this wine knowledge upon other people? Well, beyond the fun and fascination of Levels 1 and Level 2, comes the serious business of Level 3 and the Diploma. Two years and five exams down (three to go) I am very near the completion of my Diploma which looks into the global market, vitification and vinification, alongside every wine and spirits style you can think of…in the world. Yes, it is intense and a huge amount of reading, tasting and understanding but the level of information and fascination I now have is both exciting and thoroughly interesting. Ultimately, this leads me back to being able to spread the word from the wine gospel to all you keen enthusiasts out there!
So yes, it turns out it is all science and geography, but it’s also a huge amount of fun! Hopefully I might see you in one of our courses – we’re very welcoming and try to keep them as fun as we can! They also make great gifts for budding wine enthusiasts so please do get in touch for more information and I’ll look forward to seeing you in our classroom soon!
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!
After a whirlwind week walking and distillery visiting on Islay, well you have to have somewhere to go when it rains, I left with a much clearer understanding of peated whisky. I have to say this style of malt used to be a bit of a struggle for me and I had to very much be in the mood for it. After extensive tasting I now find myself really enjoying the smoky malts from these parts. Some Islay whiskies are peated more than others. Kilchoman, a new(ish) distillery established in 2005, is peated to 20-25ppm; considerably less than Coal Ila, at 30-35ppm, and less still than Ardbeg (a whopping 55ppm). The important thing is how this affects the flavour so let me explain ppm and how peat influences the style of a whisky.
To make alcohol for Scottish whisky you first need to convert the starch within barley into sugar because without sugar you cannot ferment and then distill to produce alcohol. Heating the barley and adding water tricks the barley into germinating and the by-product of this is a conversion of starch into fermentable sugars. Dry this out and at this point you can call it “Malted Barley”.
On a hard to get to place like Islay, where electricity or coal need to be imported to create heat, you need to use something cheap that you already have. Enter peat, a layer of compacted organic matter formed over thousands of years that is in abundance on most of the west Scotland. Once cut from the ground and dried it is a superb and slow burning heat source. The smoke from this slow burning heat imparts a smoky flavour to the barley which over the course of production stays with the spirit all the way through to the final bottled product.
This level of smokiness is measured in what we call ppm (phenol parts per million). Malted barley is usually purchased smoked to order and a distillery will use the same level for all its malts. However it’s then cask ageing, and indeed the type of wood used, that go on to make the biggest differences in flavour. Gas and electricity are now commonly used for heating the stills but Islay whiskies are known for their smoky flavours so distilleries still use peat to keep that distinctive traditional flavour. A couple of years ago the Scottish government ran a study on the ecological impact of peat extraction and the distilleries got very nervous. Fortunately they found that Islay alone has enough peat to last the next 800 years with no discernible change to the habitat. Although taking peat is not the free for all it was and is now licensed.
Finally to produce enough malt whisky you need a plentiful source of water, and believe me it rains an awful lot in west Scotland. About 10 litres of water are needed to produce 1 litre of new make spirit. Blimey, if anybody is still with me well done, lesson over and please read on!
Well after that it wouldn’t be right to have a malt of the month from anywhere else would it? Caol Ila is one of two Diageo owned distilleries on the island and the Caol Ila 12 Year Old is the distillery’s signature malt. As soon as you mention the word peat, people expect to taste big medicinal smoky drams, but this is just the opposite. It’s light and fresh. Yes you can smell the smoke, but it’s gentle and interwoven with lovely nuances of cream, apple and hints of raisin and is floral, almost Pinot Gris like. On the palate it’s more of the same, fresh and alive with an extremely smooth texture. Caol ila showed me this malt paired with some creamy blue cheese, sounds strange but blimey did it work. A big thank you to Justina who showed my wife and I around and paired the whiskies with different food.
We will be hosting Kilchoman for an evening of Islay malt whisky here in our Pulborough shop on Friday 4th November from 7.00 to 8.30pm. Places are limited to 24 so please call me on 01798 872671 to book your place.
Please view our events section for information on all tastings.
Kilchoman Machir Bay is the first new Islay distillery built for 150 years
Happy New Year whisky lovers! No doubt plenty a dram was consumed over the festive period? Let’s kick off 2016 with a tasty malt to keep what is turning into a dreary damp winter at bay. Kilchoman (pronounced Kilhoman) has just celebrated its 10th anniversary and was the first new Islay distillery built for 150 years. Machir Bay is the core malt in the range matured in ex-bourbon and sherry casks. Candied fruit on the nose with obvious peat, but not medicinal. The palate has ripe fruit and nuts and a gentle wash of sweet spice. The finish is smokey but barley and vanilla play a part – the future is very bright indeed for this distillery! Pop into Pulborough shop where a bottle of Kilchoman Machir Bay is open for you to try.
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.
The Grapevine 40…order some wine, put the heating on, sit down and pop your feet up…
Summer certainly had its ups and downs with regard to the weather. On the whole it did offer a brilliant opportunity to enjoy the refreshing whites and spicy Provence Rosé wines of our last Grapevine in their preferred environment! As I stare out of my window Autumn, seemingly, is upon us so it’s time to revel in some fuller reds and richer whites. We’ve got some new and exciting Italian wines including some rustic reds and a delicious new Prosecco among a plethora of fuller and richer wines – the Cien Y Pico and Aragonia Garnacha are my picks. Order some wine from The Grapevine 40, put the heating on, sit down and pop your feet up – silly season is almost here.
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.