grapes

Introducing Our Wines Of The Month

Introducing Our New Wines of the Month

May is here (albeit with a rather wetter introduction than we might have liked) but at last, we can introduce you to this month’s – Wines of the Month.

This month we’re offering something a little special. Not only do we have 3 brand new Italian wines to introduce you to but these gems all attract a 10% discount throughout May. Salute!

Mionetto Prosecco Treviso DOC Extra Dry

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For 125 years Mionetto in Valdobbiadene has been perfecting production of Prosecco. Established in 1887 by the master winemaker Francesco Mionetto, the Mionetto winery has become a flagship for the area and a shining example of Prosecco production on the international scene. Passion, tradition, research and excellence are the fundamental values of this winery.

The grapes are grown on the picturesque, sloping hills just north of Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy.

This prosecco has a straw yellow colour with hints of citrus fruits. It is a well-balanced wine with pleasant acidity, lively bubbles and a fresh and dry finish.

Perfect as an aperitif and for celebrations of every kind.

Available from us here.

Mario Giribaldi Barbaresco 2006 DOCG

GiribaldiBarberesco2006-Twitter

Agricola Mario Giribaldi was founded in 1920 in the very heart of Piedmont, Northern Italy. Now a third generation family run winery, the great passion used in production is evident in the quality of the wines.

Barbaresco ages for at least a year in oak and at least one year in the bottle to meet stringent DOCG standards. The Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) classification is the highest classification for Italian wines, denoting controlled production methods and guaranteeing quality.

This wine is smooth and elegant. Ruby red with sweet hints of cherries and red fruits mixed with subtle spice. A medium body with balanced tannins and plenty of acidity.

Pairs well with pastas and red meat dishes.

Available from us here.

Cantine Di Monserrato Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC

Monserrato Vermentino Di Sardegna Twitter

Cantina Sociale Di Monserrato was founded in 1924 in the rugged mountainous landscape of Sardinia. As the second largest island in the Mediterranean and an autonomous region of Italy, Sardinia lies off Italy’s west coast. It boasts many wine varietals that are less common than on mainland Italy.

Over the last nine decades successive generations of wine makers in Cantine Di Monserrato have worked hard to enrich their wines with the passion and experience evident in their labours.

Vermentino is a very important grape in Sardinia, constituting the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) appellation; Vermentino Di Sardegna. This wine has aromas of peach and zesty citrus fruits and a hint of minerality.

Pale straw coloured with refreshingly crisp acidity it is perfect with seafood, game and mature cheeses.

Available from us here.

Happy May everyone!

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The Rise and Rise of English Sparkling Wine

We’ve known it for a while – but it seems the secret’s out. English Sparkling Wine is a hit.

Sales were up over Christmas 2015 and experts are predicting that 2016 will see even greater growth.

To keep up with demand, production has also had to increase. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have cited a 103.2% increase in the production volume of English and Welsh sparkling wines between 2010 and 2014.

So keen is the interest in English wine that the renowned Champagne brand Taittinger has announced plans to produce it’s own English wine after buying land in Kent.

Awareness of English wine is also on the rise thanks to a series of high profile sponsorship deals. From the Nyetimber sponsorship of Cowes Week to Wimbledon offering an English Sparkling wine, there will be no shortage of English wines this summer. Virgin have even switched from offering Champagne to Meonhill Sparkling Wine from the Hambledon Vineyard on their 787 Dreamliners.

So whether you’re messing about on the river, watching a spot of tennis or flying first class, you’ll not be far from a glass of English sparkling wine.

If you are interested in finding out more, be sure to check out English Wine Week organised by the English Wine Producers. The week runs from 28th May to 5th June 2016 and features events across the country to highlight to brilliance of English wines. For more information see, http://www.englishwineproducers.co.uk/

Alternatively, if you fancy sampling English Wine but can’t wait for English Wine Week, you can have us deliver a bottle of our excellent Coates & Seely English sparkling wine direct to your door.

For more information see:

Introducing Our Wine Of The Month: Giribaldi Barolo DOCG

Here we are with April’s Wine of the month, and it’s brand new to Charles Rose Wines.

Barolo is a ruby red Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wine heralding from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the Nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines.

Our Barolo comes from Giribaldi, a third-generation family run wine maker. It is a deliciously deep red colour with hints of coffee, liquorice and chocolate. Full bodied with soft silky tannins, overflowing with red fruit. This wine finishes clean and elegantly.

Barolo is well known for it’s powerful tannins and so it pairs well with red meat dishes, rich risottos and powerful pastas.

So if you are looking for a big wine to ring in the spring then give it a try! With 10% off the RRP until the end of the month!

 

Champagne

Let’s Raise A Toast To Champagne!

What do two wine producing regions in France, a victorian railway bridge and a botanical garden have in common?

It may sound like the start of a joke, but it’s not. They have all been recently awarded ‘World Heritage Status” by UNESCO.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and is a specialised agency of the United Nations system. The organisation was created in 1946 with the aim of ‘building defences of peace in the minds of men.’

The World Heritage List was first published in 1978. The idea was to list places on Earth that were of outstanding universal value to humanity. To secure a place on the list a site must be of special cultural or physical significance. The sites listed are intended to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy. The first list from 1978 contained 12 protected monuments and included the Galapagos Islands and Aachen Cathedral. At present there are over 1,000 sites listed split over 163 states.

In July 2015 the latest additions to the UNESCO list were announced and among the winners were the wine producing regions of Champagne and part of Burgundy, the Forth Bridge in Scotland and Singapore’s botanical gardens.

UNESCO said that the Champagne status covered “the places sparkling wine was developed using a second fermentation method in the bottle from the beginning of the 17th century until its early industrialisation in the 19th century”. Special mention was made of Hautvilliers, where legend has it that, Dom Perignon invented Champagne. For more information on why we celebrate with Champagne check out our blog post here.

In Burgundy, the vineyards on the slopes of the Cote de Nuits and the Cote de Beaune, which sit to the south of Dijon were marked out for World Heritage Status. These vineyards produce pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, which are then used to produce some of the finest red wines in the world.

UNESCO have helpfully produced an app listing all of the World Heritage Status Sites  – albeit that it needs to be updated to include the newest additions to the list. Using the app, it’s possible to tick off the Sites you’ve visited. So, that means 24 down for us, just 1,007 to go!

Image by Vassil (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How Victorian Botanists Unwittingly Changed European Winemaking Forever

A few select European wines are sold as:

“produced with grapes from ungrafted rootstock”

Ever wondered what that means? Let us tell you!

Vitis Vinifera, the common Europe wine grape, has between 5,000 and 10,000 varietals. Of these, only a few account for nearly all European wine production (we posted about the lack of grape diversity previously).

The current method for growing vines in Europe relies on grafting Vitis Vinifera onto the rootstock of North American vines. A small number of wines are produced using grapes from “ungrafted” vines, but these are usually phenomenally expensive.

Grafting is time consuming and can be difficult. So, why don’t we use ungrafted vines for all European wines?

The short answer is, we can’t.

Grape phylloxera, the scourge of vineyards, makes the use of ungrafted vines impossible almost everywhere in Europe. This tiny relative of the aphid feeds on the roots of grapevines, sucking the sap from them. The resulting damage leaves the vine susceptible to disease.

Grape species native to North America, such as Vitis Labrusca, have developed some resistance to phylloxera. The roots of American vines can secrete a sticky sap that clogs the mouths of phylloxera. If the insect manages to cut into the roots of American vines then once they have moved on the vine can grow a layer of tissue over the wound to prevent bacterial or fungal infection.

North American vines are equipped to defend themselves against phylloxera. However, Vitis Vinifera is not.

French colonists tried to grow Vitis Vinifera in North America in the 16th Century but the vineyards inexplicably failed. Discovering the cause was made all the more difficult by the behaviour of phylloxera. Once the roots have lost a large percentage of sap the pest moves on. Usually, this is before the vine shows any signs of distress. Digging up a dying vine will not likely reveal any of the insects in the roots.

It was subsequently assumed that European vines simply couldn’t be grown in North America. Nobody could understand why.

In the 19th Century it became common practice to import exotic non-native plants into Europe. This was very much a feature of the Victorian era, with Botanists excitedly experimenting with growing plant species gathered from far away places.

With the advent of steamships, crossings of the Atlantic could be carried out in record time. Hence, it is thought that phylloxera began to survive the crossing in the roots of North American vines imported into Europe.

Of course, the inevitable happened, and European wine making was forever changed by what became known as the Great French Wine Blight of the 1850s. That century somewhere between 66% and 90% of all vineyards in Europe were destroyed by the ensuing phylloxera epidemic.

The only known method found to combat phylloxera was proposed by two French wine growers, Leo Laliman and Gaston Bazille, in the 1870s. This technique, namely rootstock grafting, is still in use today. European vines are grafted onto the roots of North American vines. This allows the vines to produce fruit as normal and the roots to have some chance of surviving phylloxera.

A few vineyards did escape the phylloxera epidemic and now produce the only examples of European wines as they were before the epidemic. These ungrafted vines produce grapes which are made into very expensive wines, such as Bollinger’s Vieilles Vignes Françaises Champagne, and Quinta do Noval’s Nacional Vintage Port.

The debate about whether or not grafted or ungrafted vines produce the best grapes is still ongoing to this day.

Image is “Phylloxera cartoon“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Russia Moves To Tackle Counterfeit Wine

Counterfeit alcohol is big business in Russia. Decanter Magazine recently covered new steps taken by the government to do something about it.

The Independent reported in 2010 that an official from the Federal Service for Alcohol Market Regulation stated that 50% of wine and 70% of cognac on sale in Russia was counterfeit. That year around 927 million litres of wine was consumed, constituting off-trade sales of around £5.2 billion. That’s of lot of money!

To combat this Russia is introducing minimum pricing for wine, expected to be around 100 Roubles per litre, (or 75p) for a 750ml bottle. A similar strategy was taken in 2010 to combat counterfeit vodka. This has reduced the volume of counterfeit vodka sold by 25-30% and is expected to have a similar effect on the counterfeit wine trade.

75p a bottle might seem cheap but average wages in Russia are around 40,000 roubles a month, or £400. In the UK the average monthly salary is more than 5 times higher than that at around £2,200 before tax. Apparently wine retailers in Russia are concerned that setting a minimum price might drive people to cheaper alcohol.

We recently wrote about Russia increasing investment in it’s wine industry. The anti-counterfeit measures coincide with an initiative to grow Russian vineyards from 90,000 to 140,000 hectares by 2020, a 55% increase. A third of the existing 90,000 hectares was gained when Russian annexed the Crimean peninsular in 2014.

According to The Moscow Times, this is all part of a push to restore Russian wine production to the glory days of the Soviet Union. In the 1980s the USSR had around 200,000 hectares of vineyards. In contrast, France has around 867,000 hectares of vineyards.

Today Russia’s vineyards are subsidised by the government to the tune of around £5.8 million annually. This represents between 10-20% the cost of growing grapes. However, this pales into insignificance when compared to the subsidies France provides.

France receives around £9 billion under the European Union (EU) Common Agricultural Policy and will be spending an EU grant of £230 million this year just on promoting it’s wine outside the EU. French vineyards receive subsidies of between 60-80%.

Full story in Decanter.

Image by 17Rising17 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Wine For The Pregnant?

Alcohol-free wines are a mixed bunch. So when we noticed this article titled “There’s now a ‘wine’ for pregnant women” we were naturally curious.

9Months is a company based in Carolina in the US. It is essentially bottling South Australian grape juice and adding carbonation to produce a sparkling… err… let’s call it juice, as wine is usually defined as an alcoholic drink.

The grapes are immediately frozen after picking to prevent fermentation. It’s intended to be a premium product priced at $16.50.

On the surface this seems like a great idea. Take grapes that would have been used for wine, don’t let them ferment, turn them into a wine-like drink but without the alcohol. Hey presto, a wine alternative for people who don’t drink and for expecting mothers.

It’s a fantastic idea, so good in fact that it’s already been done, by Shloer of course. We have lots of friends that don’t drink either through choice or according to religious beliefs. Accordingly, when the Charles Rose Wines team is entertaining, we serve a variety of soft drinks including Shloer.

Shloer is named after Jules Shloer who supposedly invented the original recipe, and much to our surprise, it seems this seemingly ubiquitous beverage never made it out of the UK to the US.

All this means that if you want a sparkling grape juice drink, then in the UK you can get one for £2, but an equivalent, albeit perhaps higher quality version in the US will cost you a tenner.

Surely the US already has grape juice drinks? Surely? Anyone?

We’ll stop now before we sound like a Shloer marketing partner! Image is of our sole remaining bottle purchased (not given to us by Shloer before you ask) some time ago at a popular supermarket.

Forget About White Wine Sending Women Loopy! Does It Even Actually Exist?

Does white wine send women loopy? Does it even exist? It’s not an existential question, this is a wine blog after all!

The commonly held belief is that red and white wine grapes are fundamentally different because white wine grapes lack the pigment that turns red wine grapes red.

However, an article in New Scientist seems to refute this. It turns out that white wine grapes do contain the same pigments in red wine grapes, anthocyanins, just in far lower concentrations.

This explains why some bottles that are intended to be white wine, can actually come out with a tint of rosé.

So, if white wine grapes are just red wine grapes with lower concentrations of anthocyanins, do we really only have red wine grapes? Do we only really have wine grapes? Does white wine even exist?! Thats as much pondering on that subject as we are prepared to do.

Turning to the bigger story of late, the Daily Mail’s story that white wine turns women crazy! The Telegraph has a more balanced approach, as you might expect, to addressing this particular urban legend.

Decide for yourself, but know this, if white wine does send you (or anyone you know regardless of gender) crazy then its highly probable red wine would also have the same effect!

Image is “White Wine” by Quinn Dombrowski is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Get Some Sunblock On Your Grapes

When it comes to dealing with extreme climate Australia must surely be one of the most experienced and resourceful countries in the world.

2014 was Australia’s third hottest on record, and the ten hottest years have all occurred in the last 13 years according to The Conversation.

Extreme heat is bad news for grapes, if the temperature is too high they suffer a similar fate to people, heat stress. Grapes get dehydrated and sunburnt. Countering dehydration is a simple matter of adding more water, assuming you have it. However, how do you stop a grape getting sunburn? Simple, sunblock of course!

If you find this surprising you might also be surprised to know that similar products are being tested on fruit and vegetables in countries around the world to prevent heat stress.

On the surface this might seem like a waste of time and resources but heat stress for fruit and vegetables is a major problem. Plants sweat in a similar way to people, water is secreted through pores in the plant as part of photosynthesis, in a process called transpiration. As this water evaporates it helps to cool the plant.

However, just as with people, as the ambient temperature rises, so does the amount of water a person, or a plant, needs.

So, before you scoff at sunblock for Syrah, consider that it might help reduce the amount of water required by fruit and vegetable growers, which can only be a good thing.

Full story at The BBC.

Image is “Hunter panorama-1b-web-l” by Mfunnell at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:JohnnyMrNinja using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Why do we celebrate with Champagne?

From the smashing of a bottle to launch a ship, the popping of corks at New Year or a wedding, or the spraying from the winners podium of a formula 1 race, champagne is the celebratory drink of choice.

But why do we celebrate with Champagne?

Following the development of sparkling wine in the Sixteenth century in the Languedoc region of France, it seems that Champagne was first produced in the Champagne region in the Eighteenth century. However, it was initially referred to as “the devil’s wine”, due to it’s propensity to explode or pop it’s cork thanks to pressure in the bottle.

Over time and thanks to the work of people such as Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin and Andre Francois, Champagne production became more stable and the taste refined.

Despite that initial stigma, Champagne has long been associated with the anointing of French Kings and was fashionable at the Court of Henry IV.

While royal favour did much to encourage patronisation amongst the nobility, it was in the 19th century and the increasing rise of the middle classes, that Champagne took hold as the sign of celebration. As the new merchant classes rose in number and wealth, so did the purchase of Champagne. While merchants could not afford to drink Champagne every day, they would purchase bottles for special occasions.

So let’s raise a glass in celebration of celebrating with Champagne!

Interested in trying some? We’d love it if you glanced at our range of Champagne!

Image is “Champagne” by Jon Sullivan/PDPhoto.org – http://pdphoto.org/PictureDetail.php?mat=pdef&pg=8346. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.