Blair Athol

Expectations | Burgundy 2015

2015 has been hailed as an exceptional vintage across France. So far this year it has been touted as one of the best in Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley, with perhaps the latter slightly eclipsing the former in consistency, but both offering some stunning wines. We will be visiting Burgundy next week to get the measure of the vintage but it’s worth taking a moment to evaluate what we think we know.

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Port Ellen

Investing in Whisky

As investors are becoming more and more wine-savvy, there is a natural inclination to look elsewhere for new opportunities. Every class and category of whisk(e)y is seeing unprecedented demand and as a result, sales are soaring globally. Not just in traditional markets such as Europe, North America and Japan, but also elsewhere in Asia, Africa and South America with clamour particularly high for prestige bottles.

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Portugal: An Island with Two Sides

I have just returned from my inaugural trip to Portugal, a wine producing country of which I (and most I would imagine) knew relatively little about beyond the sweeties we love to consume with stilton. The general expectation was of tradition over modernity, and this is certainly true, but there are quiet innovations taking place in cellars and vineyards throughout. Though I am no geography expert, I am well aware that Portugal is not an island, but it certainly feels more far removed from the rest of Europe than its 2 firmly landlocked sides would suggest. First of all, the language… most well-travelled individuals can generally muddle their way through the language of another European country, when an announcement comes on in the Gare du Nord or Madrid airport you can usually decipher at least the overall nature of it. Portuguese, however, is halting and furious, sounding more like something from further East. It is disorienting to not leave the time zone and yet be so confounded by what is being said around you.

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The Art of Collaboration

With the recent release of the 2013 vintage of Caro, it is easy to see how successful this collaboration between two of the world’s most famous wineries has been over the years. Consistent high-scores, high-demand and always fast to sell-out, it is proof of the value of cooperation in wine.

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How To keep Wine At Home

If you were to do a google image search of wine cellars you’ll see all kinds of grandeur, from modern, bespoke Spiral Cellars to mediaeval-looking dungeons fitted out with cast iron racks. For all this variety there are basic elements that all good cellars share: consistent temperature, darkness and reasonable humidity. As we all know, wine cellars are generally underground because this is the only place these conditions occur naturally. In an urban setting, it’s not so common to have access to an underground cellar and if you’re in a high-rise flat or apartment, there’s no chance. So how do you make sure your prized bottles don’t go off?

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Rhone 2015 | Bringing Sexy Back

I’ve just been out to the Rhone to catch a sneaky peek at the highly anticipated 2015 vintage. I can confirm that things are looking good. Bombastic fruit, velvet tannins, electric freshness and best of all, there is plenty of it – yields are at a normal/good level for the first time in years. Producers had very little to report in terms of problems, the grapes had been healthy, harvest conditions were ideal. It was undoubtedly a hot year, but the nights were cool, bringing balance. This heat in the north was quite welcome, bringing levels of concentration not seen since 2009/2010, but many growers think that 2015 exceeds even the stellar 2010 in quality (some said it was the best they had ever seen, in fact).

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Destination | Islay

The May bank holiday is behind us and many in Britain have had their first taste of Summer travel, whether it was off to Spain, the South of France or any number of classic destinations, it will surely have whetted the appetite for a summer packed with holidays away. As great as it is to spend a sunny day on the beach with a glass of rosé, some people might enjoy a more remote experience. Swapping the sand for green hills and the rose for a peaty dram; those looking for something a bit out of the ordinary should consider a more northerly heading.

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Porto Quay

Destination | Porto

Spring is nearly upon us and we eagerly anticipate the return of the warm days and sunny evenings. Before the full-fledged summer holiday season, the spring provides a wonderful opportunity to visit some wonderful locations and avoid the crowds as well as the summer heat. It is also a nice time to enjoy a bit of wine tourism in the Northern Hemisphere, heading to places like Champagne, Provence and Spain.

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Burgundy 2014: The Trip Part I

Just past the halfway point of our trip to Burgundy we have to say that we have been presented with a much clearer, and more exciting picture of this highly anticipated vintage. Last week I wrote about the preconceptions we had and we also previewed some of the producers to be excited about. After three days and (literally) hundreds of wines, we are beginning to add to the previous expectations.

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Nectar of the Gods

Dessert wine, Pudding wine, sticky…no matter what the moniker, the sweet nectar of the gods have always held a special place at the dinner table (and in our gluttonous hearts). Some may have a penchant for the ancient method of air dried grapes, utilized in Vin Santo and Pedro Ximenez, others preferring the thrilling unpredictability of achieving just the right conditions required to produce German or Canadian Eiswein, and still others are loyal to the “noblest” of all sweet wines reached through botrytis (or noble rot), most famously used in Sauternes and Tokaj.

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Tour of "The other Spain"

Outside the obvious regions of Spain there are hidden gems to be uncovered, ‘The Other Spain.’ The regions of Rueda, Bierzo, Ribera del Duero, Penedes, Priorat and Jumilla are well worth a look. Our buyer, Madeline Mehalko, shares these unique regions (each marked by red circles on the map above).

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Keepin' the Summer Alive

While cocktails like the Aperol Spritz and the Hugo have had their moments in the spotlight over the past several summers, it is still a crisp, refreshing palest pink glass of Provencal rose that has yet to fall out of favour amongst sun worshippers around the world. This summer even saw the rising popularity of “brosé” officially paving the way for men to proudly brandish their own glass of the pink stuff, even flashing premium labels likeWhispering Angel and Chateau Leoube to show off their new found elite status. There is no shame in adding a few clinking ice cubes to your glass of rosé, this is the time to shed any wine pretension and focus instead on soaking up every bit of summertime joie de vivre. But what then becomes of our go-to summertime fling when the chill of September sets in?

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White Burgundy

Burgundy 2013 Superstars

It is no secret that 2013 was a somewhat challenging year for Burgundy, and while this seemed to put a bit of a pallor over the campaign when it kicked off in January earlier this year, nine months later, these undersung wines are securely in bottle and are arriving in the UK. I for one am loving what has come a-knocking. It only takes opening up a bottle of something like the Domaine Duroché Les Jeunes Rois or the Domaine Taupenot-Merme Auxey-Duresses 1er Cru (both celebrated in Decanter’s recent 30 Burgundy 2013 wines under £25) to be able to appreciate the deliciously drinkable style of these wines and the gorgeous purity of fruit, which is so characteristic of the 2013 vintage.

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