The closest link between the people that make wine and the people that drink it
Following the recent revelation that a couple of questionable bottles of whisky purporting to have been bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd in the 1970s have recently been offered for sale, I have taken steps to remove any fakes from circulation. Having seen the damage wrought in fine wine circles by a few unscrupulous individuals, some of whom are now facing criminal proceedings, I am adamant that we will do what we can to prevent a similar situation arising in the world of single malt whisky. We cannot purport to be experts in all whisky forgeries but we can be certain when it comes to our Berrys’ own bottlings.
Apparently coming from an Italian source, one bottle was advertised as a single malt from the 1930s, the other from the 1940s. An examination of the bottles, cross-checked against our extensive archives, quickly established that neither bottle was genuine. The bottles were subsequently withdrawn from sale.
We trust this is an isolated incident but, should you have any doubts regarding a bottle of Berry Bros. & Rudd whisky you own, please send the bottle in question to Douglas McIvor, Spirits Manager (email@example.com).
If genuine, the bottle will be returned with a certificate of authenticity. However, should the bottle be a fake, we will destroy it.
Congratulations to our colleague Anne McHale, from Berrys’ Wine School, for being crowned Young Wine Writer of the Year 2010 by the Circle of Wine Writers.
This award is by no means the first during Anne’s career at Berrys and probably not the last. Asked to write an opening chapter to an imaginary book Anne penned the piece below and we wanted to share it as we think it’s great…
I live and breathe the world of wine. I am surrounded by it at work, in my study time and in my free time. Along with my wine-loving friends and colleagues, I drink it, talk about it and think about it endlessly in all its guises – how much it costs, what it tastes like, who made it and how. My non wine-loving friends have no idea of the true extent to which this mere ‘beverage’ has become an intrinsic part of my daily existence. Yet I am desperate to show them, to help them to see the light and to incorporate this marvellous drink into their own daily lives. I think to myself: how can they not see how relevant wine is to nearly every passionate pursuit in which humans have engaged over the course of history? Wine is so much more than just a beverage – it is fascinatingly complex, bewilderingly diverse and marvellously paradoxical. So with this in mind I have a mission: to demonstrate in this book the conflicts and the harmonies embodied by wine, to explore its relationship with some of the deepest-rooted elements of human pleasure and culture, and essentially to indulge my own passion for the subject through the beauty of language!
Initial impressions of wine regions can often disappoint: arrival at a non-descript airport followed by a drive across a bleak light industrial landscape until hills loom into view on the horizon and vines are finally spotted. My first visit to Alsace was no exception, the drive from Basel airport across the border towards Colmar memorable only for the torrential rain, rather disappointing given Alsace’s track record for the second lowest rainfall in France after the Languedoc. After an hour on the motorway we were winding our way up into the mist-shrouded foothills of the Vosges, with vines stretching away on all sides: much more like it.
Monday dawned a little clearer and the Vosges loomed large as we set off to meet Olivier Humbrecht MW at his winery in the Heerenweg vineyard just outside Turckheim. Lest we were in any doubt about the weather, Olivier explained that this year’s May was more like an average March, but that the rain was more welcome viticulturally than the dry conditions which have recently strained vines in the region, last year particularly. (more…)
Despite the title, we haven’t entirely given up wine for the New Year. Wine Matters has, however, just finished Guardian wine writer Victoria Moore’s new book ‘How To Drink’ and what an interesting read it was too. One of the highlights, of course, was a mention of our very own Jasper Morris MW who, as well as being a wine connoisseur (and our Burgundian buyer) is also something of a tea aficionado. Here’s a snippet from the book:
In the latest post in our series about wine investment, James Waller talks about how he first discovered his passion for wine and why he now chooses to invest in it.
My love of food was really the thing that opened my eyes to wine. I used to work in marketing and I’d be entertained in very good restaurants and put in front of really good wines – it was during this time that I realised that wine takes food to the next level. Then I started to take advice from wine merchants and I began to understand what I actually like, rather than what I thought I should like, which was quite a surprise! I realised that these were things like Rhône wines, which are affordable and go far better with everyday food than some blockbuster Bordeauxs, which you’ve really got to be pretty careful what you eat with them.
In Wine Matters’ next installment on Wine Investment, Nicholas Pegna, Managing Director of Berrys’ in Hong Kong, talks about the growing fine wine market in Asia, what customers need to consider when investing, and as the current and emerging trends.
If you have any questions or comments for Nick or our team, then let us know.
Following on from our previous blogs on wine investment, Wine Matters went to visit Berrys’ state-of-the-art new warehouse in Hampshire, which is used to store customers’ private reserves (until they are ready to drink or sell on). In the following video Tom Cave, manager of Berrys’ Cellar Plan and Customer Private Reserves, talks to Keith Procter, Operations Director, about the importance of storage when investing in a wine and what features have been implemented at this facility to ensure that wines are kept in the best possible conditions, not just for investing, but also for future drinking:
Wine investment is definitely on the news agenda at the moment – our very own Simon Staples spoke to The Guardian last week about the topic. The article (available on the link below) talks about the current market and what it takes to be regarded as a ‘fine wine’ and includes Simon’s top tips for wine investment.
Over the next few days we will be posting a video taken in our Hampshire cellars which looks at the importance of storing wine correctly, whether it is for investment or future drinking.
Joss Fowler looks at wine investment over the last year
This time last year was about the time that fear hit the fine wine market. We had seemed immune from the wider travails of the economy – 10 cases of 2000 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild selling at Christie’s for a shade under £11,000 per case just days after Lehmans filed for bankruptcy protection – but in October and November prices, notably those of the top 2005s, dropped off. 2005 Lafite, which was touching the £10,000 per case mark in the summer of 2008, could be picked up for £6,000 per case in November of that year. This was clearly an opportunity for the brave – Lafite 2005 is now selling for £7,500 per case and more.
For those of you who have been following Wine Matters’ blog posts, you will remember that many-a discussion was created around the topic of biodynamics. Please keep these comments coming as we move on to a new subject: Wine Investment. We will be kicking this theme off with a post from Joss Fowler, one of Berrys’ resident fine wine experts, who will talk us through the roller coaster ride of the last year in wine investment. Joss will be posting his thoughts on Berrys’ Wine Blog tomorrow, followed up by videos and posts from industry experts and those who have taken the plunge and invested in wine themselves. Next week we will be taking a look around Gateway House, Berry’s new storage warehouse and talking to Tom Cave (Berrys’ Cellar Plan Manager) and Keith Procter (Operations Director) about the importance of provenance when storing and investing in wine.
As we prepare for Monday’s biodynamic Twitter Taste Live event, we take a sneak preview of the wines we’ll be trying:
The first will be 2007 Mâcon, Les Héretieres du Comte Lafon, Burgundy and in the video below Simon Field MW, buyer at Berrys, takes a moment to talk about how the biodynamic principles used have made this wine so special.
Wine Matters will be hosting a live Twitter tasting of three biodynamic wines on Monday 7th September at 7pm.
Wine Matters has been delving into the topic of biodynamics over the past couple of months, so be sure to take a look at the posts to refresh your memory, or visit Jamie Goode’s series of articles to really get an idea of what’s involved.
Wine Matters interviews Rhône producer Christine Saurel from Montirius, about deciding to become biodynamic and what it means to them
WM: What attracted you to follow biodynamic production methods?
CS: When our oldest daughter Justine fell ill we started using homeopathic medicine and found it to be an effective treatment. This discovery brought important changes to the way we treated illnesses, our eating habits and our general way of thinking. We starting questioning the methods we used to grow grapes and work the land and began looking at how to make the transition from conventional viticulture to biodynamic production.
We felt it made sense for us to start following biodynamic farming methods as it mirrored, in principle, the way we successfully treated our daughter’s illness, by administering homeopathic doses of natural products to the vine according to the phases of the moon and sun.
Nigel Greening of Felton Road Estate in New Zealand talks about biodynamics in the New World
Two of the aspects of Biodynamics which I personally find least convincing are the preparations (500-508), and the calendar. Unfortunately these are probably the two areas that also get the vast majority of the publicity associated with Biodynamic farming, largely because of the “Harry Potter makes some potions” aspect of the whole thing.
Davide Rosso of Barolo producer Giovanni Rosso, Serralunga d’Alba, decided to test the power of biodynamics during a week-long experiment, here Wine Matters asks him all about it.
WM: What experience did you have of biodynamics and working with the moon prior to this experiment?
DR: I have not worked biodynamically before. For many years now I have not used herbicides or chemical products in the vine, nor used cultured yeasts or synthetic products in the winery. However we have always followed a traditional way of working with the moon, bottling with the waning moon; something that’s been passed down through the generations.
Olivier Humbrecht MW, of Domaine Zind Humbrecht in Alsace, converted to biodynamic farming in 1997 after carrying out experiments with the soils in his vineyard. In this interview he talks about how his quest for minerality in wine has lead him down the path to biodynamics.
Wine Matters: What is minerality in wine?
Olivier Humbrecht MW: I often use the word ‘minerality’ to describe a wine that shows a strong sense of place and soil character on the nose. Unfortunately I am partly wrong, because minerals have no odours.
In wines, the mineral nose can often be associated with certain wine making techniques (long lees contact, more reductive vinification, sometimes sulphurs or sulfites) or the absence of some strong varietal characteristics (for example, a Riesling nose will always appear more mineral than a Gewürztraminer because it is less aromatic…).
If all this talk of biodynamic wines has whet your appetite and made you curious, then we have created a biodynamic mixed case of eight bottles which we are offering to Wine Matters readers a week before we tell anyone else.
Take a look at the case here – it is made up of four different wines, including whites from Burgundy and reds from Montirius in the Rhône (who will be interviewed on Wine Matters very soon).
As a little ‘green’ bonus, it also comes with a free Berrys’ Bag for Life which, aside from being ethically and environmentally friendly, also includes handy compartments to keep your cheese and wine separate. Bring on the picnics!
In this video Jasper Morris MW helps explain how the biodynamic calendar works.
This weekend staff at Berrys’ Factory Outlet in Basingstoke opened a range of biodynamic wines for customers to taste alongside wines from non-biodynamic producers.
The successful event was held at the tasting table in the shop, with Berrys’ staff at hand to educate customers on the principles of biodynamics and guide them through the tasting table, which included delights from Montirius, Zind Humbrecht and Chapoutier.
Gavin Partington, Head of Communications at The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, answers some questions about their view on biodynamic wines
Wine Matters: What is the WSTA’s official line on biodynamic wine production?
Gavin Partington: The increasing popularity of biodynamic wine production stems in large part from the growing interest in methods of organic food production. The EU Commission is currently considering a regulation for organic wine production. However we shouldn’t exaggerate the impact of the current fashion on the industry as a whole. Our view is that biodynamic and organic methods of wine production will, overall, make a minor contribution to influencing production methods of the category as a whole.