Nine years ago I attended a dinner that shifted my perception of how good wines could be. Over a long evening at Medlar in London, we drank several wines that in isolation could have been my greatest ever, and ones that I would gladly have said were perfect - or 100 point - wines. The problem with drinking so many outstanding wines with their qualitative peers is that it immediately becomes a ranking game, and someone has to come out on top. On the night, that was easy for me; a bottle of Pétrus 1959 served blind absolutely blew me away. I had never tasted anything like it and no one in the room was close to considering it a then 55-year-old wine.
The greatness of 2009 Bordeaux has been written about at length. From Robert Parker's huge barrel and bottle scores, to praise from critic and merchant alike since the first tastings from barrel in 2010. The vintage has widely, and appropriately, been judged as one of the region's greats. Now, with over a decade in bottle and several other recent contenders for "Vintage of the Century", just how good are the top wines in this celebrated, warm year?
After 25 years in this business I remain fascinated by the product that we buy and sell. I’m lucky enough to taste a great deal of wine and, whilst I’m probably the most cynical member of the team, and likely the most conservative in my tastes, at least once a month I taste something that bowls me over, or something that has me questioning what the whole thing is about. It still amazes me that the simple concept of growing some grapes, harvesting, vinifying and bottling the juice, can create something that gives so much pleasure.
The annual “Ten Years On” blind tasting took place in February this year, three weeks after the magnificent 2019 Southwold tasting. The two tastings could not have been more different, and we arguably went from the very best of Bordeaux to the worst.
The Southwold Group has tasted the top wines of Bordeaux from the latest physically available vintage together for over 40 years. This used to take place – as the group’s name suggests – in Southwold in Suffolk, but it has now moved to Farr Vintners where we taste in a purpose-built modern tasting room. This is now my seventh Southwold Group tasting, with 2019 my tenth vintage tasted En Primeur (albeit in strange circumstances due to COVID restrictions).
The team at Farr Vintners have enjoyed some spectacular wines in 2022. Here, you can see some of their favourites.
The following article was originally published on JancisRobinson.com.
Virginie and Bertrand Waris own seven hectares of vineyards across Champagne, making small production wines from a majority Pinot Noir from Sézannais, Epernay and Aube. As the fourth generation of the family, their practices are well established in making grower Champagne. Based in Avize, the property is a stone's throw from both Agrapart and Selosse, the celebrity growers in the village. Bertrand - who studied viticulture - has a clear passion for vineyard work and clarity of expression in the wines, but the Waris name remains relatively under the radar, the wines therefore offering good value for money. Waris have made Farr Vintners' "Ville de la Reine" label for fifteen years, so it was about time for me to visit the property and get a greater understanding of the wines and the philosophy behind them.
Last month, the Farr Vintners team spent three days in Scotland on a fact finding (and dram drinking) mission to learn more about whisky. Having been selling everything from single bottles to full casks for a number of years now, and with the recent release of our very own independent bottlings, it was the perfect time to take a deep dive, in situ, into this unique and inimitable drink.
New Zealand has an astonishing presence and reputation within the wine world compared to the volume of wine it produces. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the strongest regional brands of the New World, and the country – particularly Central Otago – is synonymous with Pinot Noir. There are roughly 5,500 hectares of Pinot Noir planted in New Zealand (compared to over 20,000 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc), with a large proportion intended for sparkling wine. To compare, the hectares-under-vine are 10,000 in Burgundy, 12,500 in Oregon, and nearly 20,000 in California. Despite the relatively small plantings of Pinot Noir, New Zealand is considered one of the most important areas for the variety. That is, in part, because New Zealand’s wine production has always looked to high quality and premium prices. The climate, too, plays a significant role in the potential here. Though the region is still in relative infancy compared to the Old World, vines are now starting to mature, reaching deep into soils and producing world-class wines that can stand up to Pinot produced anywhere in the world – including Burgundy itself.