Cornas ‘legend’ Noël Verset dies at the age of 95

Cornas ‘legend’ Noël Verset dies at the age of 95Cornas winemaker, Noël Verset, has passed away in the town of Guilherand-Granges, on 14th September 2015, at the age of 95.Born in Cornas, in December 1919, Noël Verset was considered by many a legend in Cornas winemaking, particularly for his stubbornness about keeping his vines on very steep slopes.
He started working in the vines in 1931, at the age of 12 with his father, continuing until 1943.
After the phyloxerra crisis and the fantastic recession in France, wines from Cornas were predominantly sold in bulk. Prices dropped and the vintners started to plant vines in places that were simpler to plow, such as the plains.
Noël Verset, with his fellow colleagues, Auguste Clape and René Balthazar, persisted in working with his vines on steep slopes, despite the hard nature of work.
Noël Verset highlighted the quality found in Cornas and helped open the way to younger generations, such as Thierry Allemand, Laurent Courbis and his nephew Franck Balthazar.
His traditional winemaking practices became a benchmark for many winemakers working in the province today: low yields, full maturity, fermentation in cement vats and ageing in ancient demi-muids (600-litre barrels).
Despite owning some of the best terroirs in Cornas, like Chaillots, Reynard and Sabarotte, Verset produced only one cuvee, which was assembled from all of his terroirs.
In 1985, he chose to sell his Reynard parcel to one of  his philosophical heirs, Thierry Allemand. In 2001, in preparation for his retirement, he sold his Sabarotte parcel to Auguste Clape and Laurent Courbis, and a few years before long, sold the Chaillots parcel to his nephew, Franck Balthazar.
The 2000 was his last vintage, but he continued to make wine for himself and his family until 2006.
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Croft Port opens Duoro Valley vineyard to tourists

Croft Port opens Duoro Valley vineyard to touristsCroft Port, one of the oldest names in Port, has opened the doors of its Duoro Valley vineyard, Quinta da Roeda, to tourists.
The visitor centre at the Duoro ValleyCroft Port’s new visitor centre offers tourists an insight into a working vineyard, with tastings of a range of Croft Ports, tours of the vineyards and wineries and a chance to experience the foot-treading of the grapes.
Quinta da Roeda, near the village of Pinhao in Portugal, has terraced vineyards overlooking the River Duoro.
The vineyards and cellars were extensively renovated when Croft returned to family ownership in 2001, including reintroducing traditional granite lagares – the large tanks used for food-treading grapes.
Tourists will have the opportunity to participate in traditional foot-treading at the visitor centre during harvest time. Read more

Cru bourgeois votes for two-tier system

Cru bourgeois votes for two-tier systemThe Alliance de Cru Bourgeois has voted for a two-tier system that will see its members’ wines split into Cru Bourgeois and Cru Bourgeois Supérieur. 75 per cent of the 276 members voted in a secret ballot for the change at an AGM held on September 18.
It will mean that the current ‘Reconnaissance Cru Bourgeois’ will become a ‘Classement des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc’.
Once granted, the title will be valid for five years at a time – instead of the annual renewal administer that has been in place since 2008, which has been criticised by winemakers for building sustained communication with customers hard.
At the same time, the best wines will be separated off into a higher quality category, reminiscent of the former classification system when there were three levels of Cru Bourgeois, Supérieur and Exceptionnel.
The new system is expected to come into place in 2020 for the 2018 vintage, and future moves to reinstate all three levels have not been ruled out.
Fréderique de Lamotte, director of the Alliance, told that the change will give ‘a fresh sense of direction and drive’ to the cru bourgeois wines.
Frédéric de Luze, president of the Alliance, commented that the aim of the changes is to ‘clarify the communication for consumers, and to allocate winemakers to concentrate on developing and promoting the brands over a longer period of time’.
Although the final details are not yet finalised, it is understood that tasting will account for over 50 per cent of the inscription given to choose which level a château is awarded.
At least five years of vintages will be judged and all member châteaux will be eligible for the Cru Bourgeois Supérieur level.
The 2013 Cru Bourgeois official selection, below the current system, is due out this week.
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Top 10 South African Syrah

Top 10 South African SyrahTim Atkin MW chooses his top 10 South African Syrah, where Syrah is emerging as the Cape's most exciting red grape. The best South African Syrah
If you were looking for evidence of how recently Syrah has risen to prominence in South Africa, you could do worse than visit Sijnn in Malgas and Porseleinberg in the Swartland – remarkable vineyards at opposite ends of the winelands. These very different sites are producing two of the finest examples of the grape in the country and yet their first vintages were in 2007 and 2010, correspondingly.
Syrah may have arrived on South African shores in the second half of the 17th century, but it’s only recently that it has emerged as the Cape’s most exciting red grape, with 10% of plantings and increasing.
Are these Rhône style? It all depends what you mean by the term. The Cape has a Mediterranean climate, so even its cooler sites, located at altitude or close to the Atlantic or Indian oceans, are warmer than the northern Rhône. And yet many of the best wines show the pepper spice, tapenade and blackberry notes that are so predictable of that well-known french valley. Read more

Minimal winery damage in Chilean earthquake, say first reports

Minimal winery damage in Chilean earthquake, say first reportsChile’s winemakers appear to have got away with only a few cracked vats following the powerful earthquake that struck near to Coquimbo and has killed 10 people. Coquimbo Chile, September 17th. The aftermath of this weeks earthquake. Trade body Wines of Chile said that early reports suggest the industry has not been terribly affected by the earthquake, which also saw 1m people forced to leave their homes.
Wines of Chile has been contacting the wineries in the area near La Serena – close to the earthquake’s epicentre – where they said hurt is minimal.
Anita Jackson, UK Director of Wines of Chile said, ‘Amazingly apart from some buckled stainless steel tank legs, some cracks in additional tanks, there has been a minimum loss of wine.’
Wineries south of the epicentre have reported the same.
But, Wines of Chile is subdue continuing to gather in rank on the situation, with the help of the wineries in the association.
The vineyards and wineries have been able to continue to work in habitual conditions since the earthquake, which is due to the high standard of construction and equipment Chilean wineries have, Wines of Chile said.
Chile is one of the most earthquake-level countries in the world.
Jackson said, ‘Today (September 18th) is Chile’s Independence Day (Dieciocho Day), it’s a public holiday so the nation will subdue try and celebrate despite the earthquake. We should raise a class to them, for their staunch attitude, they amaze me with their shaken but not broken attitude.’
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Sardinia: where to stay, eat and shop

Sardinia: where to stay, eat and shopCarla Capalbo picks out the must visit hotels, restaurants and shops for the ideal Sardinia wine holiday. Hotel Nibaru, SardiniaSardinia: where to stay, eat and shop
Locanda Conte Mameli, Olbia
In the town centre, this is a small hotel in a historic palazzo with some character.
Li Finistreddi, Arzachena
Near Arzachena, at Micalosu, this country resort near the vineyards offers all the comforts of a summer retreat.
Hotel Nibaru, Cala di Volpe
Stay here to delight in the Costa Smeralda on a budget: fantastic location, a lovely pool and walking access to several beaches.
Agriturismo Agrisole, Casagliana
If you prefer to stay outside the towns, this agriturismo is middle between Olbia and Arzachena, and offers a more rustic atmosphere, with local dishes available for dinner.
Caffè Cosimino, Olbia
In Olbia’s town centre of Piazza Margherita, this wine bar features a huge selection of wines and excellent food. Always open. Tel: +39 0789 21001
Ristorante Barbagia, Olbia
Try some of the hinterland dishes of pork, wild boar and cheeses in the spacious Ristorante Barbagia.
Ristorante Nino, Pittulongu
A few kilometres outside Olbia, in Hotel Stefania, this restaurant offers local Sardinian dishes, along with lovely rooms and views of (and access to) the sandy Pittulongu beaches.
Ristorante Il Tirabusciò, Calangianus
Inland at Calangianus, in the hills where the cork trees grow, this affordable venue prepares homemade traditional food, with pastas (boiled and fried) and locally reared meats and vegetables. Tel: +39 0796 61849
Gelateria da Pasqualina, Porto Cervo
In the Promenade du Port at Porto Cervo, this ice creamery makes its own fabulous ices and pastries from Mediterranean fruits and nuts.
Stelle D Stelle, Porto Cervo
Stelle D Stelle hosts Michelin-starred chefs in summer.
In summer, this restaurant hosts Italian Michelin- starred chefs who prepare their own gourmet food.
Soha Sardinia, Porto Cervo
As well as offering handmade jewellery and additional accessories, this boutique makes fine, polyphenol-rich skin creams using an wring of red Cannonau grapes.
In Vino Veritas, Olbia
On the Corso Umberto in the centre of Olbia, you will find a large selection of Sardinian wines to taste and buy, and they also supply set alight lunches.
Thursday market, San Pantaleo
In the small, traditional village of San Pantaleo, there is a fun market each week where you can find local produce, crafts, artworks and more.
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Video: DAWA 2015 Judging Week

Video: DAWA 2015 Judging WeekSee the highlights of DAWA 2015 Judging week, hear from our DAWA judges, and find out why you should look out for a DAWA medal!See DAWA 2015 judging week in pictures
See the DAWA 2015 judging panel
Find out where you can taste DAWA winning wines
Find DAWA wines and promotional offers
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My perfect day in Gallura, Sardinia

Carla Capalbo tells Decanter her perfect day in Gallura, Sardinia, in the Northeastern corner of the island. Breakfast pastries with a view. Gallura, Sardinia is Vermentino’s natural home and has been cultivated there since the 14th century. Carlo Capalbo tells Decanter her ideal day in Gallura, Sardinia Vermento country.
At Antica Dimora La Coronoa, wake up to a breakfast of Sardinian pastries and sheep’s ricotta in a considerably restored 18th-century house in the village of San Pantaleo. From there it’s a small drive across the hills to Capichera winery near Arzachena and Cudacciolu, run by Emanuele Ragnedda with his father and uncle. ‘My family has been in Sardinia for 300 years, and was the first, in 1980, to make single-varietal Vermentino,’ he says. Make sure you visit the Giant’s Tomb, a stone megalith from Sardinia’s Nuragic Bronze Age civilisation – more than 3,000 exist in Sardinia.
After tasting the wines and some local salumi, head down to Porto Cervo – full of cafés and designer shops – to eat lunch in one of Hotel Cervo’s restaurants, such as Il Pomodoro, which has the area’s best pizza. There are breezy sea views from the terrace, perfect for people-watching. After lunch, drive a few kilometres to Palau and take the boat around Isola della Maddalena national park, an pure, seven-island archipelago close to southern Corsica.
Evening and overnight
In the late afternoon stop in at Vigne Surrau, east of Arzachena. This estate is impressive, with a modern building for tasting and buying wines, sampling local pecorino cheeses and salumi, and learning about winemaking. They produce five versions of Vermentino, including one sparkling and a sweet passito. Meals can be ordered in advance. After that aperitivo, drive west for 15 minutes to Agriturismo Tenuta Pilastru for dinner and an overnight stay. The food is strictly Sardinian.
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