Top Italian varieties from California

Top Italian varieties from CaliforniaCalifornian producers are finally building a selection of quality Italian grape variety wines. See Decanter expert Jon Bonne's top picks.The description of Italian grapes in California has been, to be candid, a near-total failure. Its greatest success was found in the mid-20th century, when jugs of not-quite-Chianti were made from Carignan, Zinfandel and many additional varieites California had inherited.
But the Californians success has changed when they thought less about copying Italy and more about incorporating the right grapes into its Pacific culture.
Jon Bonne gives us his top 10 picks of the best Italian varieties in California: Read more

Gordon Ramsay lists English sparkling wines at Bordeaux restaurant

Gordon Ramsay lists English sparkling wines at Bordeaux restaurantGordon Ramsay’s new restaurant, Le Pressoir d’Argent, will feature a selection of English sparkling wines, including Gusbourne Estate, Coates & Seely, Camel Valley and Ridgeview. Le Pressoir d'Argent in Bordeaux will include English wines on the menuLe Pressoir d’Argent, at Bordeaux’s Grand Hotel, will officially open its doors to the public on Friday September 25.
For the initial opening period, Ramsay will be present in Bordeaux on alternate weeks with Clare Smyth, chef patron at his Michelin three-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London. Full time executive chef is Gilad Peled, earlier from Les Sources des Alpes in Switzerland.
‘The challenge in Bordeaux is ensuring the food is at the same quality level as the wine,’ Ramsay told ‘This restaurant needs to draw on the exceptional local knowledge and produce… and then draw on our experience to get creative with it.
‘We are working with several local winemakers, but it’s hard to single out a particular progression or wine; this is an oasis of magical growers that can’t be matched anywhere in the world. My objective is to have the wine to become our epicentre’.
The wine list has been developed by the team in Bordeaux, led by sommelier and buying director Frederic Rouglan, with input from Ramsay and his wine buying team in London.
‘The wine list will be mainly from Bordeaux, but we have gone outside the province also. And we had to include English sparkling wine,’ Ramsay said, who has just bought a property in Cornwall in the Camel Valley. ‘We haven’t had a riot yet’.
Le Pressoir d’Argent is Ramsay’s second restaurant in France following the Trianon Palace in Versailles and both hotels are owned by Michel Ohayon.
Ramsay is the third huge name chef to open in the city over the past few months, following Joël Robuchon and Philippe Etchebest. Alain Ducasse is reportedly in talks to finalise a location.
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For the weekend: Wines under £20

For the weekend: Wines under £20Decanter international tastings director Christelle Guibert hunts the tastings to find exciting, fantastic value wines, all for below £20. See the latest here.Christelle Guibert and Decanter’s tasting team search the key tastings to hunt down the best value wines the supermakerts, high street and wine merchants can offer, all for below £20.
Branch out from your usual wine choices with something new, without breaking the bank.
This week includes a sparkling rosé wine from the Bio Bio Valley in Chile, a Burgenland Pinot Gris, Californian Chardonnay, New Zealand Pinot Noir from Nelson and an exciting Côtes Catalanes. Read more

Amazon France opens online wine service

Amazon France opens online wine serviceAfter several fake starts, Amazon France has started selling over 34,000 food and alcohol products, in a direct challenge to the power of French supermarkets.
Starting on 23rd September, the number of products available on Amazon France is around three times more than the average supermarket in France, according to industry observers. But so far there are no frozen or fresh crop.
There are, but, already over 4,000 references of wine, Champagnes, beers and spirits, in a go that will again threaten traditional distribution channels.
Delivery is free for orders over €25, and the opening range has over 800 different wines including Moët & Chandon Imperial for €41.29, Château Labégorce 2010 for €35.90, and a wide range of international wines – a category that is traditionally underserved in French supermarkets.
The number of wines available is expected to rise substantially.
Amazon France Food Retail Director, Yannick Migotto, told trade paper LSA Commerce & Consommation, ‘our objective is to offer low prices each day, but to combine that with excellent benefit’.
To mark the launch there are also a number of ‘exceptional products’ available, such as gourmet hampers. Read more

Anson on Thursday: The Winery in the Desert

In this week's column, Jane Anson sees the vineyards at the Bardenas national park, where Bordeaux varieties are growing in desert conditions. Vines growing in the Bardenas desertThis week, Game of Thrones is filming its sixth series in the Bardenas National Park. My guess is that not many of the 8 million viewers, or even the 1,200 extras drafted in for filming, will have heard of this UNESCO-protected, semi-arid, desert in Navarra, northwest Spain. But for those who have, the choice makes perfect sense.
The desolate landscape of the 42,000-hectare Bardenas Reales could be in Mexico, Nevada, Egypt, Tunisia, Mars… (or even Essos, Game of Thrones fans). Single-footstep roads lead you to canyons, plateaus and sun-baked rocky crags rising out of the sand. It is hard to believe that this martian landscape, whipped by wind and wearing away, sits just over an hour from the fertile Pyrénées Mountains. A link of Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns have been filmed here, as has a recent Duniya Soori Bollywood musical and a host of Spanish thrillers.
If you want to explore it for yourself, there is only one hotel that gets you really close. The Aires de Bardenas sits just back from the dusty footstep that leads into the park. It is as stark and dreamlike as the surrounding badlands, with ancient fruit crates forming the outer walls of the carpark and swimming pool. And if you head just a small further along, as the desert landscape takes over and the cracks in the sun-parched earth start to widen ominously, there is a vineyard.
The first time I saw it was a ‘slam-on-the-brakes’ moment. Vines are, as we all know, hardy and stubborn plants. They like to grow where additional shrubbery takes flight. But few places bring this home more brutally than seeing them thriving and healthy on the edge of the Bardenas desert. Read more

DAWA tasting at “The Magnificent Chefs in Macau”

DAWA tasting at “The Magnificent Chefs in Macau”A special tasting of Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015 winners will take place at the Institute of Visiting the attractions Studies restaurant in Macau on 16 October 2015 at 6-8pm. Guests at “The Magnificent Chefs of Macau”, taking place on Friday 16 October 2015, will have the chance to taste winning wines from the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015. The wines are specially selected at the judging of the competition in early September 2015, to show support towards development and learning within the wine trade in Asia. Decanter is also sponsoring two scholarships at the Institute to award academic distinction and encourage wine studies, which is named the ‘Decanter Scholarship’.
Winning wines showcased at the tasting are: Read more

Pouilly Fumé winemaker to fight INAO over right to use AOC

Pouilly Fumé winemaker to fight INAO over right to use AOCA leading proponent of biodynamic and natural-winemaking in Pouilly-Fumé will take the national institute for appellations - or INAO - to court, over its choice to strip him of his right to an AOC.
Domaine Alexandre BainAlexandre Bain of Domaine Alexandre Bain in the Loire appellation of Pouilly-Fumé received a letter from the INAO last week ‘definitively’ revoking the right to mark his wines AOC Pouilly-Fumé.
The choice was taken due to a missed deadline for a technical inspection of his vineyards and cellar that was to be carried out by September 1 by the independent inspection body Organisme d’inspection des Vins du Centre (OIVC).
Bain insists that the plotted meeting was first cancelled by the OIVC, set for August 25, and that he postponed a second meeting on September 3 due to the 2015 harvest.
He has also said that he believes he is being treated severely because of his advocacy of natural wines, without added sulphur during winemaking and without the use of any chemical products in the vineyard. He believes this is why he has struggled to receive AOC accreditation in previous vintages, with several of his wines having to be marked Vin de France in 2012.
‘I am awaiting clarification if this refers to all the vintages in my cellar – so 2014 as well as the newly-harvested 2015,’ Bain told
‘It is very hard to accept, as the consequences seem to far outweigh the supposed fault. I can not let this pass’.
Bain has now appointed leading lawyer Eric Morain, who has successfully represented Olivier Cousin from Anjou in his own fight with the INAO.
‘It is very hard in France to challenge the administration,’ said Bain. ‘My wines are different from many in Pouilly-Fumé, but I believe it is because they express the soil and the climate, and do not homogenise the taste. I must stand up for artisan winemakers everywhere’.
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