Friday, May 27, 2011

May News

It has been particularly busy over the past few weeks - with some nice logistical challenges!

We try not to ship any wines from producers during June, July and August to avoid any chances of heat damage. Try rattling around in the back of a truck for three days at 35 degrees Celsius and you'll know how a bottle of wine feels! It's one of the aspects of the wine business that is rarely discussed, but unfortunately many of the bottles that make it into our cellars or onto our tables are often exposed to extremes of temperature during shipping. Of course, there are ways of mitigating the impact of temperatures - for example using a refrigerated truck (or "reefer") during the Summer, but booking one is the easy bit - ensuring that the unit is actually switched on by the driver and running continuously (they use a lot of fuel!) is another challenge altogether. The best option is to try not to outdo Nature and just ship the wines when they shouldn't come to any harm. So new arrivals have been piling up in the warehouse as follows............

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey 2009 Vintage:
We raved about these wines following our visit with Pierre-Yves last November and our allocation has just landed. Those of you who purchased some as part of the Burgundy 2009 Offer will hear from us next week about delivery. For those who didn't, we have a little left of his wonderful St. Aubin 1er Cru "Champlots" 2009 @ €35.99. This is exemplary White Burgundy with clean, cool precision - from a vineyard on the Puligny side and similar in style.

Weingut Kunstler 2009 Vintage:
These arrived a short while ago and have already made it into the Irish Times "Wines of the Week". The 2009 Hochheimer Herrnberg Riesling Trocken 2009 @ €19.99 demonstrates just how good dry German Riesling can be - and has found many new friends.

Jacques & Nathalie Saumaize 2009 Vintage:
Another recent arrival already featured as "Wine of the Week" in the Irish Times - their St. Veran "en Creches" @ €18.99 has lots of lovely pure, supple Chardonnay fruit balanced by citrus and lime ripe acidity. We have been doing plenty of tastings in the hotels and restaurants we also supply, and this is consistently one of the "wow" wines.

Verus 2010 Vintage:
For any of you who read our various Blogs about the 2010 Vintage in Slovenia, you'll know the story behind the Pinot Gris 2010 @ €18.99 (and the other Verus wines) - essentially very small crop, heartbreaking selection (in terms of what had to be rejected) - and stunning quality at the end of the day. And yes, the recent vintage has also had it's 15 minutes of fame in the Irish Times too!

Istenic Sparkling Pennine:
It would be so much easier if we could just call them Champagnes.... the French must have had something to do with that.... Anyway, for the delicious Istenic Cuvee No. 1 @ €24.50 take a majority of Chardonnay, throw in a bit of local Rumeni Plavec and use exactly the same methods as the production of Champagne - time, cost, effort etc. - and you end up with a stunning "Champagne" that tastes great and is a good conversation piece. It's made by a ex-goalkeeper (hence the name Cuvee No. 1) and he's been at it for 40 years - acknowledged as the best around. Irish Times? Yes, it was there as well...

Chateau les Miaudoux 2010 Vintage:
This isn't a new name - we have been working with Gerard and Nathalie Cuisset for 10 years now - but it is the arrival of the new vintage of their Bergerac Sec. Sometimes one's relationship with a wine ebbs and flows - and then something comes along that makes you sit bolt upright and take notice! Their Bergerac Sec 2010 @ €11.99 is simply delicious - like biting into a chilled, crunchy Granny Smith apple - the tangy blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon works perfectly and this has been flying out of the warehouse - predicted to be one of our biggest Summer sellers.

So, apparently the weather is going to get much better next week and be really nice for the Bank Holiday next weekend - according to the wonderful Jean Byrne last night. Now I'm not great at predictions (I didn't even know the world was supposed to end last weekend), but it does seem like a good opportunity to put together a mixed case of these delicious news arrivals. At the very least, we can guarantee you'll enjoy the wines!
May Mixed Case Offer:
2 x bottles Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey St. Aubin 1er Cru "les Champlots" 2009
2 x bottles Weingut Kunstler Hochheimer Herrnberg Riesling Trocken 2009
2 x bottles Jacques & Nathalie Saumaize St. Veran "en Creches" 2009
2 x bottles Verus Pinot Gris 2010
2 x bottles Istenic Cuvee No. 1 Brut NV
2 x bottles Chateau les Miaudoux Bergerac Sec 2010
Normal Price = €260.90
Offer Price = €199.00 including delivery

Bordeaux 2010 Primeurs:
The great Bordeaux 2010 Primeurs Steeplechase is underway, with the Chateaux currently releasing the prices of their wines. The only problem is the pace - so far it has been one of the slowest campaigns in history, with only a fell well-know names having released at the time of writing - and almost all the Classified Growths still playing their cards very close to their chests. There's no doubting the exceptional quality of the vintage - universally acclaimed as being equal, but stylistically very different (more structured and potentially longer ageing) to the luscious, seductive 2009's. However the 2009's were released at very high prices, and although they sold very well, no-one is sure what appetite there is for a second highly priced vintage in a row. So there's a lot of caution going on: no-one wants to undervalue their wine and release too cheap, but equally they don't want to mis-judge the market and see their wine find no takers and languish in their cellars for years to come. One things is certain: the Chateau owners need to remember that the whole reason en-Primeur works is that it should be an opportunity to acquire wines at a cheaper price than when they are eventually physically available in 2013 - otherwise there's no reason to tie up money for 2 years.

From Bordeaux 2010 to BIB! I have blogged various opinions on the whole issue of Natural Wines, Organic wines etc. - and the various discussions will doubtless continue. We are also beginning to hear quite a bit about "carbon neutral" wineries. However one key aspect of the wine industry that many forget is the carbon footprint that the transport of the wines leaves - back to shipping again! If there was a product that meant less packaging, less weight on a pallet and easier to recycle packaging - then surely we'd all embrace it? Well, maybe.... Let's be honest, bag-in-box wines don't have a great reputation. But what if the wine was EXACTLY the same as inside a regular 75cl bottle of award-winning wine - but just cheaper and more environmentally friendly?

We are now taking a number of our wines in bag-in-box and so far response has been very positive. They are mostly sold to restaurants and hotels who serve by the glass, but if you're having a party or BBQ, they might be worth considering - here are a few figures to consider:
Clos Petite Bellane (one of the Red Wines of the Year):
By the single bottle = €13.99 / by 10L bag-in-box = €8.70 equivalent
Domaine Grauzan (award-winning Languedoc wines):
Grauzan Chardonnay by the single bottle = €10.99 / by the 5L bag-in-box = €7.99 equivalent
Grauzan Merlot by the single bottle = €10.99 / by the 5L bag-in-box = €7.99 equivalent

We'll be back among the vines in Slovenia in the next few weeks with plenty to report.