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Critics Round-Up - Top Wines of 2019
At this time of the year the leading wine critics reflect on their wine highlights of the year. We look at some of the top picks from Antonio Galloni, James Suckling, James Halliday and Jeb Dunnuck whose range and variety only highlight the current health of the world of fine wine today. We identify some of their top picks for ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON January 8, 2020
Where Winemakers Drink: Part 1
As we look ahead into the New Year, our heads are full of ideas of things to see and do in 2020. For any true epicurean, a list of top restaurants to visit in the next twelve months requires serious deliberation. To help inspire you, we asked some of our favourite winemakers from around the world to give their local ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON January 2, 2020
Wines To Watch in January 2020
January is the month in which our Burgundy 2018 En Primeur campaign really hits top gear with the majority of domaines releasing their wines to market for the first time. Stay tuned for releases from Groffier, Lamarche, Gros Frère et Sœur and many more, including our top picks from Domaine Hudelot Noellat and Domaine Tortochot. Outside of the En Primeur ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON January 2, 2020
Top Wines + Spirits of 2019: FINE+RARE Staff Picks
This year the team at FINE+RARE encountered some astonishing bottles on our quest to source the finest wines and spirits from around the world. We asked our colleagues to highlight some of their favourites from 2019... Corentin Margier – Head of Buying Unicorn Wine/Spirit of the Year (something you are unlikely to taste/ experience again): Clos Vougeot 1937, Maison Leroy The ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON December 18, 2019
The Rhone Valley has been enjoying a consecutive set of remarkable vintages since 2015. According to Michel Chapoutier, 2018 has continued in the same vein and he describes it as “a terrific year”. Indeed, the Rhone Valley followed a similar path to the rest of France in 2018. A very wet start to the year helped provide plenty of water ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON December 6, 2019
F+R: As a wine lover and epicurean how would you best spend 24 hours in Montpellier and surrounding area? Andrew Jefford: This slightly depends if you are here in summer or winter.  If you’re here in the summer when it’s very hot, you might want to be near the sea and go swimming: sandy, super-safe and very child-friendly hereabouts.  There ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON December 4, 2019
Solaia Vertical with Antonio Galloni, Piero Antinori and Renzo Cotarell
The evening started with Piero Antinori explaining how Solaia first came about, how it was effectively the result of a very lucky accident, much in the same way as Champagne. In 1978, the vines used to make Antinori’s Tignanello produced an unusually high yield of Cabernet Sauvignon. Rather than waste this, or blend it into the other wines, they decided ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON November 29, 2019
Olivier Bernstein's Bespoke Burgundy
Undoubtedly one of our most memorable stops during our Autumn visit to Burgundy this year was the magnificent cellar of Olivier Bernstein in the heart of the old district of Beaune. Olivier Bernstein’s property is breathtaking, even before trying the wines in the cellar below. Olivier had the property completely renovated between 2005 and 2010, with the help of ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON November 26, 2019
24 Hours in... Brunello di Montalcino
Gianlorenzo Neri from top Brunello producer Casanova di Neri reveals his hidden gems in and around the region of Montalcino. Famed for its pinci pasta, wild boar and of course world class wines this is a thriving region for the travelling epicurean. Gianlorenzo provides us with his top restaurant tips, favourite wine lists and the best times in the year ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON November 22, 2019
Napa Valley 2016 & 2017 Vintage Insights
The 2016 Vintage 2016 was undoubtedly a sensational vintage in Napa. Whilst it was the 5th warm vintage in a row, the season had a very wet start, so it was the first vintage in Napa since 2011 not classified as a drought vintage. For many, this brought more finesse to the tannins, more minerality and more balance to the ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON November 6, 2019
The Wine Advocate's William Kelley shares his Burgundy 2018 Early Insight
F+R: After tasting in Burgundy and Champagne consistently over the last couple of years, what do you feel has been the most important developments in each of the regions in that time? William Kelley: I think that Burgundians are getting used to handling warm fruit. If you're not used to making wine from warm grapes, it's easy for things to go ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON November 1, 2019
Burgundy 2018 - What The Critics Are Saying
William Kelley, Wine Advocate F+R: After tasting in Burgundy and Champagne consistently over the last couple of years, what do you feel has been the most important developments in each of the regions in that time? William Kelley: I think that Burgundians are getting used to handling warm fruit. If you're not used to making wine from warm grapes, it's easy ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON October 30, 2019
Andrew Jefford - Burgundy 2018
Thanks to Andrew Jefford for sharing his Vintage overview first published on the Wine Scholar Guild website. Andrew (similarly to many wine makers we have spoken to) believes the Cote de Beaune white wines are outstanding in 2018 (4.5 vintage) and almost as good as the universally praised red wines throughout the Cote d'Or (5 vintage). Chablis After a ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON October 25, 2019
Jasper Morris MW (Inside Burgundy) provides an early insight to the Burgundy 2018 Vintage
We tend to focus on the weather conditions in the lead-up to the harvest and while the grapes are being picked, but a key factor in defining how the 2018 crop turned out was the winter before, which was grim and excessively rainy. This proved to be a blessing however during the drought months of high summer which followed. The ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON October 18, 2019
Brunello di Montalcino 2015 - On a par with 2010, arguably better!
Critics and winemakers alike have put the 2015 vintage on a par with the great 2010, sharing similar levels of opulence and voluptuousness on the palate. The 2015 vintage has produced some incredibly juicy yet vibrant wines. Wines with amazing voluptuousness backed with great acidity, fatness and freshness. This style, like 2010 is a real crowd-pleaser, but with trends ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON October 10, 2019
Winehog's Early Impressions on the Burgundy 2018s
F+R: How good is 2018 as a vintage – does it live up to the hype? Steen Ohman: 2018 was a hot year – compared by some to 1947. But despite the warm conditions, the quality of the wines on average seems to be very fine, hence living up to some of the vintage’s initial hype. The 2018 vintage is, ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON October 3, 2019
Top Burgundy Negociants on the 2018 Vintage
ALAIN SERVEAU (HEAD WINEMAKER AT ALBERT BICHOT) After a number of challenging conditions in previous vintages, Alain was happy to report that the “2018 vintage offered close to perfect conditions.  With such conditions, the challenge was to keep the “charge” in the wines and to avoid reaching high yields in order to maintain concentrations.” This required necessary “de-budding” during springtime, ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON September 26, 2019
White Burgundy 2018 Review
"We don't need to be a great expert to know that this is an exceptional vintage, for both red and white wines.” Aubert de Villaine (Domaine Romanee-Conti) The hallmark of the 2018 vintage was brightness, with remarkable levels of sunshine from April right through to September. Budburst and canopy growth happened at normal times and the settled weather meant ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON September 17, 2019
Vintage Insight - Germany 2018
“Quick Growth, early blossom, lots of sun, a magnificent summer” This was the vintage report in a sentence from Donnhoff, one of Germany’s most respected producers. A real cold snap at the beginning of the year looked like budding might be delayed but in late March the weather completely switched bringing mid-Summer temperatures to the vineyards causing “the vegetative cycle ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON September 11, 2019
The Most Iconic Rhône Wines
1. Domaine Guigal Cote Rotie “La Mouline” 89% Syrah, 11% Viognier. The vine age ranges from 50 to 100 years grown on 1 hectare of vines planted in the Côte Blonde district of Côte Rôtie. Jeff Leve describes La Mouline as “one of the most exotic and erotic wines on the planet!... The texture is unlike any other wine in ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON August 1, 2019
F+R Early Insight into the 2018 Burgundy Vintage
F+R were in Burgundy this week for the first tastings of the 2018 vintage and we were thrilled by what we tasted. There is plenty of excitement from the producers we visited with praise for the vintage being universal, 2018 is without doubt an exceptional vintage. Many of the producers we visited are already comparing it to previous stellar vintages ...
BY Gavin Smith,
ON July 19, 2019
Behind the Bottle: Chateau des Jacques 2018 Moulin-à-Vent Clos de Rochegrès
“Beaujolais is on a roll, not to mention the just-coming-out superb 2018s” The 2018s “may be even better than 2015….Great vintages like these can age.” - James Suckling An ageworthy Moulin-à-Vent from a fantastic Beaujolais vintage We are hearing great things about the 2018 vintage in Burgundy: the hot weather, for those who picked at ...
ON July 19, 2019
24 hours in Venice
Venissa's Annalisa Florian shares her insider knowledge on wining and dining like a true Venetian, as well as must see artisan discoveries. Best wine lists: Osteria Ai Rusteghi, near the Rialto bridge, is a hidden gem. With courtyard seating and small but well curated Italian and international wine list, this is a perfect stop for fantastic artisanal charcuterie ...
ON July 12, 2019
Unmissable Wines This July
For many in the wine trade, July and August are a hiatus between the Bordeaux EP campaign and the flurry of releases we will see in September.  Not here! Call us impatient but there are too many wines in the line-up to our clients that we are absolutely bursting to offer. Summer is definitely an exciting period. The F+R buying ...
BY Katie Reading,
ON July 5, 2019
24 Hours in Melbourne
We caught up with Karen Foster, Melbourne-based founder of The Wine Loop, on her top tips for wine lovers visiting Australia's food and drink mecca. As a wine lover and epicurean how would you best spend 24 hours in Melbourne? Being a South Melbourne girl, I’d start the day with a croissant or flan from Agathé Pâtisserie in the fantastic ...
ON June 28, 2019
Tuscany 2016 - A Stellar Vintage
Two magnificent vintages back to back: after the powerful 2015 comes the stellar 2016 - a standout for its purity and elegance. After tasting the first major 2015 releases last year it was clear this vintage in Tuscany was something very special. When wines like Solaia 2015 scored their first 100 points from the Wine Advocate and other iconic ...
ON June 28, 2019
F+R On The Road: A Tour of Italy's Places, People + Wines
This week F+R took a tour of some of Italy's finest vineyards, visiting a small selection of our favourite producers, tasting the latest vintages and talking to these iconic winemakers to better understand their philosophies, techniques and what makes their wines so special. The stories of fine wine tend to be ones of sacrifice and struggle. Great wine always comes ...
ON June 21, 2019
Bordeaux Radicals: Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Stephanie Libreau from Chateau Les Carmes Haut-Brion at our London HQ, for a vertical tasting dating from 2016 back to 2012. These wines are brilliantly made, unique in so many ways and represent the cutting-edge of vinification techniques in Bordeaux. The rise in quality at the Chateau, along with the estate's reputation ...
ON June 13, 2019
24 Hours in Alsace
Alsace is a unique place. With its chocolate box houses, cobbled streets and its steep rising hills and valleys, it is a beautiful destination. There is much to enjoy aside from the wine, foremost the stunning scenery and the traditional cuisine. The region has some of the highest proportion of Michelin stars restaurants in France and has great cycling routes ...
ON June 7, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #7
A big week in Bordeaux EP started with a bang. Leoville Lascases was released to high anticipation having received sky high scores. With potential 100 points across the board, this St Julien is the highest scoring wine of the vintage. James Suckling simply declared: “OMG”, whilst Jeb Dunnuck hailed it as “a candidate for the wine of the vintage... it’s ...
ON June 7, 2019
Château Cos d'Estournel: The singular gem of St. Estèphe
Ahead of next week's 2018 En Primeur release, we explore what makes St. Estèphe's Cos d’Estournel such an extraordinary estate... The last three vintages of Cos d’Estournel (2018, 2017, 2016) have shot the lights out in terms of critics’ scores. A hat-trick of potentially perfect wines, as judged by the Wine Advocate, is a rare accolade - even more ...
ON May 31, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #6
Following the UK bank holiday on Monday we came back to three compelling releases on Tuesday. Troplong Mondot was released at well below the price of the excellent 2016 vintage, at a very reasonable £459 per 6. The stylistic choices the Chateau made in the 2018 vintage to focus on purity of fruit and freshness produced a stunning wine that ...
ON May 31, 2019
Port 2017: The New Vintage Declaration
Yesterday we got our first in-depth look at the latest Vintage Ports from 2017. It is a rare event indeed to have two vintages (2016 and 2017) so widely declared back to back. But according to all the top Port houses, the 2017s are without question a match for 2016s, albeit with wines possessing a very different profile. Even ...
ON May 24, 2019
Tenerife + its Terroir - in conversation with Jonatan Garçia Lima of Suertes del Marqués
For many of us, Tenerife has more to do with holidays in the sun than fine wine, but there has in fact been a long history of winemaking on the mountain slopes of the northern part of the island, which is much cooler than the tourist hub in the south. The grapes are grown on some of the world's most ...
ON May 17, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur 2018: Critics' Scores Round-Up
The reviews are in. The overall top scorers for the 2018 vintage are Chateau Ausone and Petrus, both sharing an aggregate score of 99.5, with Chateau Lafleur just behind with 99.3. These aggregate scores are compiled from the top Bordeaux expert critics: James Suckling, Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate), Jeb Dunnuck, Jane Anson (Decanter) and Antonio Galloni (Vinous). Out of the ...
ON May 17, 2019
Energy and Intensity: Dom Perignon 2002 Plenitude 2 Revealed
It’s a good thing Dom Perignon’s Vincent Chaperon is an energetic, fit and talkative person. He needed it for a day of back-to-back tastings with trade and press to launch the latest incarnation of the house’s sensational 2002 vintage: Dom Perignon P2 2002. The theme of the launch was "energy and intensity". There was plenty of it in the room ...
ON May 16, 2019
Chateau Lafleur - Exploring the iconic estate's unique DNA with Omri Ram
It was a great pleasure to spend some time over the last few weeks with Omri Ram, the winemaker and viticulturalist at the helm of Chateau Lafleur - first tasting the new 2018 releases with him at Chateau Lafleur and then again on his recent visit to London. Following the tasting it was no surprise to see the spectacular scores ...
ON May 10, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #4
Another busy week in Bordeaux with some major releases stirring huge interest from around the world. Chateau Pavie Macquin was one of the top picks in Saint-Emilion in terms of quality and price and the wine unsurprisingly sold out very quickly. Le Dome was another Saint-Emilion hit in 2018 and again its fair pricing combined with huge critic approval saw ...
ON May 10, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #3
Another busy week of En Primeur with a steady flow of releases from across the appellations. The highlight release of the week had to be Chateau Clinet who produced an outstanding wine in 2018, receiving some of the highest scores ever at the property, yet releasing the wine at a significantly lower price than both its 2015 and 2016 wines. ...
ON May 3, 2019
The Lighthouse: In Search of Cuban Tobacco
Destination: Cuba; "the key to the Caribbean", nearly 110,000 km2 with a population of 11+ million. Target: The Cuban cigar. There are few places in the world that can match Cuba when it comes to growing cigar tobacco. The co-founders of Bloomsbury Atelier travelled to the largest island in the Caribbean to find out what makes it so well suited to this ...
ON May 3, 2019
2017 Vintage Port Release and Vertical Tasting with Dirk Niepoort
“The 2017 vintage is the best wine I ever did”…. A bold claim from the larger-than-life Dirk Niepoort - made none the less impactful by the laughing concession that he had said the same of his 2015, 2011 and 2005 vintages. 2005 and 2011 vintages were universally declared, whilst the 2015 was a more limited vintage for declarations from the ...
ON April 26, 2019
2018 Bordeaux En Primeur: The Week in Review #2
The first full week of the campaign is now behind us and already we have seen some top wines released. So far the Right Bank has dominated, with Chateau Angelus being the only top Grand Cru Classe released so far, causing huge interest. However, the high scoring, low priced Chateau Laroque was also an incredibly popular choice as was Chateau ...
ON April 26, 2019
2018 En Primeur Release of Pomerol's Chateau Belle-Brise
The 2018 Bordeaux En Primeur campaign reached new heights this week with the surprise release of one of Saint-Emilion’s top estates - Chateau Angelus. As well as offering a pleasing reduction in price versus their last two vintages, this welcome surprise set the tone for potentially one of the most exciting En Primeur campaigns ever. Last week our first releases ...
ON April 18, 2019
Venusa: The New Artisanal beer from the amazing Venissa Heritage Project
Venusa artisanal beer is the latest release from the talented craftsmen at Venissa who, thanks to a combination of biological expertise and historical investigation, have created a beer that uniquely represents the flora and fauna of the Venetian islands, as well as rekindling the lost agricultural traditions that made Venice the thriving mercantile centre of Europe during the Renaissance. Venusa ...
ON April 18, 2019
Rosé Season: F+R's Top Pink Picks
Every year we taste a huge range of this season's rosé releases, whittling down to the wines we believe are the ideal offering for this summer’s drinking. As the rose market becomes ever more populated with more varying styles we have outlined below two top picks that offer two very contrasting styles of rosé. Castello di Ama’s “Purple” Rose manages ...
ON April 18, 2019
Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche Vertical Tasting with Véronique Drouhin
The Drouhin-Laguiche relationship has borne beautiful fruit since the fortuitous meeting of Maurice Drouhin and the Marquis de Laguiche during the Second World War; when they met, became friends and decided to combine the Marquis’ ownership of a prime piece of the already celebrated Montrachet Grand Cru and Maurice’s skills as a négociant. Maurice bought two barrels in 1943 and ...
ON April 12, 2019
A Sign of Things to Come? Potential 100 Point Wines from Bordeaux 2018
Reviewing the Bordeaux Barrel Tasting Reports from the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworth dating back to 2010, we can confidently say that Bordeaux 2018 has seen the highest number of potential 100 point scores in the last decade, with a total of five wines awarded 97-100 points. With the benefit of one consistent taster throughout the decade - not to mention a ...
ON April 4, 2019
Nicolas Potel: A Liquid History Lesson
Last week we were blessed with a visit to our offices in London from Burgundian legend Nicolas Potel. Listening to Nicolas recant tales of drinking vintages back to 1865, you realise the wealth of experience he has - from growing up in the footsteps of his father at one of Burgundy’s great wine estates, Pousse d’Or, before branching out into ...
ON April 4, 2019
New Releases Not To Be Missed This Month: April 2019
Champagne 2012 Spring is well and truly here and as the sunshine makes a reappearance we start to think of upcoming outdoor events and all the wines required to accompany them. Of course, Champagne is an ideal accompaniment and this month sees a host of releases from the 2012 vintage. As it begins to creep onto the market, 2012 is fast ...
ON April 4, 2019
How to Spend 24 Hours in Santa Barbara
The Santa Barbara Hills in Southern California (situated just north of LA, beyond Malibu) are currently producing some of the most exciting wines in the whole of California. Whilst less established than Napa Valley or Sonoma further North, this wilder territory has attracted a young generation of winemakers who are not scared to experiment. Just a few decades since the ...
ON March 29, 2019
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