Real Wines - Our special tips

Life's to short... ...for ordinary wine

Life is a Cabernet…

This month we celebrate some of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons, from the classic 2014 vintage in Bordeaux and Bolgheri to the “best ever” 2014 and 2015 vintages in Western Australia!

Margaret River, 300kms south of Perth, is one of the world’s most dramatically beautiful wine regions. And it produces some of the finest and most sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignons outside of Bordeaux. But - just like its amazing beaches - not many people have discovered them…yet!
Drive a further 3 hours southeast and you reach what feels like the end of the world - Mount Barker in the “Great Southern” wine region! With the Antarctic Ocean to its south, the potential for high quality, cool climate, Bordeaux-style Cabernet here is superb.

Get 10% off these 3 wonderful Cabernets from Western Australia

Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Margaret River at CHF80/bt – Australia’s best-rated Cabernet from the best vintage in Moss Wood’s history (just arrived!)
Read more here...

Moss Wood Amy’s 2015, Margaret River at CHF25/bt – Moss Wood’s second wine from the excellent 2015 vintage is a stunning blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. The best example yet of this wine.
Read more here...

Harewood Estate Cabernet 2014, Mount Barker, Great Southern at CHF19.90/bt– simply the most delicious Cabernet under CHF20/bt we have tasted from Australia. Serious competition to the best “petit chateaux” of Bordeaux.
Read more here...



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Bordeaux 2014 has now arrived! Our favourite wines from this vintage are now in stock!

2014 is a rare mix in Bordeaux – a really fine, classic vintage which – for now at least – still offers genuinely good value!
See our selection of the best – and best value - 2014s here...

Sassicaia 2014 at CHF125/bt

The latest vintage of Italy’s most famous red – a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc – at the best price on the market!

Price CHF 125.00

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Bordeaux 2016 En Primeur –a “must buy” vintage!

Bordeaux’s “spine-tingling” new vintage will be released en primeur over the next few weeks. This is a genuinely “great” vintage, particularly for the cabernet-dominated reds from the Northern Medoc (Pauillac, St Estephe and St Julien). We will select only our favourites and offer them to you over the coming 4-6 weeks. The great thing about this vintage is that you don’t have to spend huge money to get fantastic wines! Many of the best chateaux’s “second wines” are almost as good as their top wines this year, so we highly recommend you buy a few examples for your cellar.
Please let us know if you would like to receive our Bordeaux 2016 offers?

You can read our full Bordeaux 2016 report here...

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Previous recommendations:

1. Portugal – probably the most exciting wine region in the world right now!

After a summer tour of Portugal’s key wine regions, I am convinced that the quality and value of Portuguese wines has never been better! I highly recommend the following producers whose wines are great examples of their different regions:

Foz Torto

full bodied, characterful reds from old vines grown on the sun-baked, schist-soiled slopes of the Cima Corgo – the Douro River’s best quality wine-producing zone. Wines made by highly-respected Sandra Tavares Da Silva.


Vinha Paz (New!)

A small, family-owned, secret treasure of a winery I hunted down this Summer. Fresh, medium bodied, structured reds with silky-smooth tannins and real minerality from the granite soils of the Dao region.
Run by Porto-based Doctor Canto Moniz and his son Henrique, a part time surfing instructor.

Quinta De Chocapalha (New!)

A wonderful, partly Swiss-owned family estate 40kms north east of Lisbon in the IGP Lisboa region. Fruit-packed, plush and velvety reds with freshness, power and loads of flavour.

2. The best of British

Our unrivalled range of English sparkling wines is guaranteed to impress your guests if you are planning any pre Christmas entertaining. Our English mixed case is the ideal way to test these wines at a reduced price.
And if you appreciate the better things in life, our carefully selected range of rare and mature Scottish malt whiskies will give you some memorable drinking experiences.




3. Villa Maria and Kalleske to be served on board Swiss First Class this Winter!

We are immensely proud that our Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015 from Marlborough, New Zealand and Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2013 from Barossa Valley, South Australia have beaten off all competition from “down under” to be served by Swiss on board this Winter between December and February 2017.

4. And for the classic French wine lover….Burgundy’s excellent 2014 vintage has arrived!

2014 is a delicious vintage for both red and white Burgundies – fresh, fruity and easy to enjoy in their youth, but with perfect structure, balance and finesse to age well for several years. Prices for the forthcoming 2015 and 2016 vintages are likely to rise significantly, so we highly recommend you buy some of our favourites from Pascal Marchand (Marchand Tawse), Pierre Yves Colin Morey, Arnaud Lachaud and Domaine Leroy now while you can.

View our full range of Burgundy 2014s here...

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Previous recommendations:

2 light and elegant dry whites

Domaine d’Orfeuilles

Try our delicious, fresh, zesty, apple-fruited Vouvrays from Domaine d’Orfeuilles on the stony soils of the banks of the River Loire in France. 2014 was a classic, slightly understated vintage in this region, perfect for producing top quality Chenin Blanc grapes. Both the Domaine’s “easy-drinking” Vouvray Sec nature 2014 at CHF18/bt and more serious, long-lived and mineral Vouvray “Silex” 2014 at CHF23/bt are highly recommended. Enjoy these wines either as an apero or with subtly flavoured seafood, particularly shellfish.


A spectacularly fruity Swiss Rosé

Just arrived! The 2015 vintage of Weingut Florin’s Schiller Rosé from Stein am Rhein at CHF20/bt is packed with last Summer’s sunshine and warmth. A uniquely Swiss blend of (red) Pinot Noir and (white) Muller Thurgau grapes - grown together in the same vineyard and vinified together in the same vat – it is bursting with sweet, ripe raspberry and strawberry fruit and has wonderful purity and freshness. Perfect with light salads or summer fruit desserts.


25% off the new vintage of our best-selling Chilean red!

Vina Falernia Carmenere Reserva 2014
reduced from CHF25 to CHF18.75/bt!

This is full bodied and powerful with loads of super-ripe plum and blackberry fruit flavours. A proportion of the grapes were left to dry naturally on the vines to produce this Amarone-style red, the perfect partner to strongly flavoured meats smoked on the barbecue.


Martin Miller’s gin (distilled in England using the world’s purest water from Iceland) at CHF39.50/bt


Martin Miller’s Gin was THE pioneer of the new wave of super premium dry gins which has hit drinks stores all over the world in the past 2 years. In the 15 years or since its launch, it has won more top prizes and awards than any other gin in the world!

Price CHF 39.50

To order click here...

AND

Gordon Castle gin from Speyside, Scotland at CHF 49.50/bt

Martin Miller’s Gin was developed by friends Martin Miller, David Bromige and Andreas Versteegh who sought a superb, high quality gin that was nowhere to be found in the market prior to 1999. Once launched, it became the pioneer of “new wave” and “super premium” gin, setting off the gin renaissance that has rejuvenated this moribund spirit and catapulted it into the spotlight it enjoys today. It is the only gin blended using pure, live Icelandic Spring water. Only the finest ingredients are used in its distillation; juniper from Tuscany and India, cassia bark from China and Florentine Iris from Florence. In the past 10 years the brand has received more top prizes and awards than any other gin in the world!

Price CHF 49.50

To order click here...


Simple tip: Serve these 2 gins with Fever Tree Tonic water and fresh lime for the most simple and most refreshing of Summer cocktails!

And don’t forget, it’s gin time again!

Our 2 British gins proved a big hit last Summer, in fact Gordon Castle went from zero to hero becoming one of our top 10 sellers last year from its launch in July!

3 great value reds for CHF 20.-/bottle!

No wine regions in the world right now deliver more flavour and personality at affordable prices than Argentina, Chile and Portugal’s Douro Valley.
Here are 3 of our favourite red wines at CHF 20.-, all perfect for drinking in these cool late Winter and early weeks of Spring:

HJ Fabre Barrel-Select Malbec Reserva 2014, Patagonia, Argentina at CHF 20.-/bt

The new vintage of this wonderful Argentinean Malbec has just arrived, and it is every bit as good as the 2013. Classy, elegant, and bursting with dark plums, damsens and violets, it has the freshness of French Malbec combined with the fruit intensity of Mendoza. Winner of the Decanter Wine Magazine International Trophy 2015 for “best single varietal red wine”.


Foz Torto Douro Tinto 2012, Douro Valley, Portugal at CHF 20.-/bt

Portugal’s Douro Valley is finally starting to receive the respect and acclaim it deserves. Until recently more famous for Port wine production, now it is the region’s still red table wines which are in high demand. Foz Torto is a small, family-run winery with very old vines on the steep, terraced slatey slopes of the best quality production area of the Douro Valley – the Cima Corgo. Only 4,300 bottles of this classic, elegant blend of 40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca and 30% other local grape varieties were produced. With aromas of wild raspberries and woodland berries, this has rich, spicy fruit on the palate and gently integrated oak flavours; the true taste of the Douro!


Matetic Corralillo Syrah 2013, Casablanca Valley, Chile at CHF 20.-/bt

2013 is the best vintage yet of this great value Syrah. It comes from 2 hillside vineyards planted on granite soils, which are farmed 100% biodynamically. The resulting wine is dark, brooding and peppery, with huge amounts of fruit and a real stony, cool minerality on the finish. An amazingly serious and classy red for the price; recently awarded 92/100 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.


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15% off all wines from Bedrock Winery, Sonoma, California - the oldest vines in Sonoma!



Morgan Peterson, son of Joel Peterson (the well respected owner of Ravenswood winery), set up Bedrock winery in 2007 with the principal goal of converting the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant and distinctly Californian wines.
His focus is on making personality-packed Zinfandels and Syrahs which give a unique expression of their individual terroirs. The youngest vines he works with were planted in the 1930s, but his own Bedrock vineyard was planted in the 1880s! These are truly exceptional wines, bursting with fruit, rich in concentration, but beautifully balanced by a freshness and spice you only find from very special, ancient vines.

To browse our offer of Bedrock wines please click here

To find out more about Bedrock winery: click here

Gordon Castle Gin, Scotland, 43Vol-%

Fresh, floral and herbal aromas develop gradually on the nose.
Very elegant, gentle and pure on the palate with an unmistakable taste of the Highlands with notes of sweet heather, mint and lavender. A classic, well structured and very noble gin.

Price CHF 49.50

To order click here...

Martin Miller’s

Martin Miller’s Gin was developed by friends Martin Miller, David Bromige and Andreas Versteegh who sought a superb, high quality gin that was nowhere to be found in the market prior to 1999. Once launched, it became the pioneer of “new wave” and “super premium” gin, setting off the gin renaissance that has rejuvenated this moribund spirit and catapulted it into the spotlight it enjoys today. It is the only gin blended using pure, live Icelandic Spring water. Only the finest ingredients are used in its distillation; juniper from Tuscany and India, cassia bark from China and Florentine Iris from Florence. In the past 10 years the brand has received more top prizes and awards than any other gin in the world!



Martin Miller’s Gin for Arctic Clarity, England,
40 Vol-%

Martin Miller’s Gin features a classic flavour profile with perfectly balanced notes of citrus and juniper. It is rich, pure and dry in flavour with an extremely long finish.

Price CHF 39.50

To order click here...

3 delicious cocktail recipes you must try with our gins!

A very dry Gordon Castle Gin Martini
To chill the glass you are going serve the martini in, fill it with crushed ice 
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
Pour a little dry vermouth into the shaker, shake and then discard / strain away most of the vermouth.
Add 50ml Gordon Castle gin and a small twist of unwaxed lemon peel / zest to the ice.
Shake vigorously.
Discard the ice in the glass and then strain the martini into the glass. Garnish with one twisted mint leaf.


The Monkey Gland

40ml Martin Miller’s Gin
20ml freshly squeezed orange juice
A dash of Grenadine Syrup
A dash of Absinthe

Shake the ingredients together with ice in a shaker and then pour into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of orange.


A Gordon Castle Gin Mojito, capitalising on the mint and citrus notes.
Put a good sprig of mint and a teaspoon of sugar syrup into a highball glass and muddle and mix. 
Fill the glass with ice and pour in the juice of half a lime and 50ml of Gordon Castle Gin.  Top up with Tonic water.
One stir, and garnish with a slice of lemon and serve.



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Previous recommendations:



Our 2 delicious new British gins!

Yes, a wine freak recommending gin. Has he lost his mind? No, not yet….in fact I hope my mind is expanding rather than reducing! On a recent whisky tour of the Scottish Highlands I was amazed and fascinated by the huge diversity of premium gins which have appeared on the market in the past couple of years. Every wine shop’s shelves seemed to be packed with almost as many gins as whiskies – gin is clearly enjoying a wonderful renaissance. I tasted many, too many to mention, but had 2 clear favourites, which I am very excited to be able to offer you now:

Gordon Castle

Gordon Castle, in the heart of beautiful Speyside in the Scottish Highlands, has been home to the Gordon Clan since the 15th century. The castle is one of Scotland’s finest sporting estates and has a beautiful eight acre walled garden where the traditional Highland herbs, fruits and vegetables used to flavour their gin are grown. The goal is to produce a classic, fresh dry gin in the best tradition of British Dry Gins.


3 heart-warming winter reds!

This Winter I have had the opportunity to taste many of the wines in our Real Wines range again - some on several occasions at different wine tastings and dinners – and here are 3 of my absolute highlights. These are all tasting fantastic right now and will be perfect for drinking in the cold Winter months ahead:

Economy Class:
HJ Fabre Barrel-Select Malbec 2013, Patagonia, Argentina
at CHF20/bt

This is magnificent Malbec at a great price; a cross in style between Cahors (Malbec’s home in South West France) and Mendoza (its adopted home in Argentina). It is dark, fresh and very elegant, with sweet purple perfumed fruit and firm underlying tannins and structure. It has 14.5% alcohol but you’d never know it was so powerful! Winner of the International Trophy for best single varietal wine under GBP15/bt in the UK’s Decanter World Wine Challenge 2014.

Business Class:
Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel 2013, Sonoma, California at CHF35/bt

Brand new to our range this Winter, from 80 year old vines grown in the hot and dry Sonoma Valley, this is a Zinfandel like few others; dense and concentrated, with silky smooth tannins and deliciously ripe, sweet raspberry fruit, yet an underlying freshness and spice which make you want to drink glass after glass.

First Class:
Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz 2009, Barossa, South Australia at CHF80/bt

From 165 year old vines which are probably the oldest in Australia, this is silky smooth with rich, powerful, ripe blackberry fruit, milk chocolate and vanilla flavours: the very best of the Barossa!

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3 perfect Rosés for this Summer

Of all the Rosés we have tasted this year, quite simply these are the three which impressed the most.
3 different styles, 3 different countries, 3 different price points.
3 FANTASTIC EXPERIENCES!
Drink these chilled for maximum enjoyment.

Weingut Florin Schiller Rosé 2013,
Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

Light, crisp and immensely refreshing blend of Pinot Noir (red) and Riesling Sylvaner (white) grapes grown on the steep slopes rising above the Rhine at Stein am Rhein near Schaffhausen. Red and white grapes were grown together in the same plot of vines and then vinified together to produce this delicious and uniquely Swiss Summer Rosé.

Just voted one of the 3 best Rosés available in Switzerland under CHF20.- in the NZZ am Sonntag last Sunday 29th June. Read more... (PDF-File)

Price CHF 20.00

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Kalleske Rosina Rosé 2012,
Barossa, South Australia

Full in body, rich in fruit, bursting with warm, Barossa-style flavours, yet with a refreshing underlying bite of acidity. Just the slightest hint of sweetness to make it very easy to drink on its own or with fresh, summer-fruit desserts.

Price CHF 25.00

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Domaines Ott Chateau de Selles Rosé 2013,
Côtes de Provence, Southern France

Probably Europe’s most famous and classiest Rosé, coming from the steep hillsides of Provence and bottled in a unique, amphora-shaped bottle. Amazingly pale, very slightly pink colour (also known as “onion-skin”), pure, crisp acidity and very gentle, subtle, red forest fruit flavours. Light and elegant but at the same time serious, with an intensity and minerality you just don’t find in other rosés. No, it might not be cheap – but for the best Rosé in Europe it’s not expensive!

Price CHF 35.00

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2 fantastic wines for the Barbecue

Barbecues mean smoke, meat and a big mix of sauces, relishes and marinades. They need wines with real personality which can stand up to these flavours, ideally wines with some oak influence to counter the smokiness of the grill. We strongly recommend this Aussie pair:

Harewood Estate Chardonnay 2012,
Great Southern, West Australia

This great value, Burgundian-style white from the cool climate Great Southern region 700kms south of Perth has the complexity, richness and restraint of a premier Cru in Burgundy’s Chassagne or Puligny Montrachet. Maybe it’s a jump into the unknown first time you buy this, but we guarantee you will be hugely impressed!

Price CHF 20.00

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Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2012,
Barossa, South Australia

Probably the best value Barossa Shiraz on the market, from biodynamic, boutique winery Kalleske and the superb 2012 vintage. We’re not the only ones who love this wine – it’s our biggest-selling red and it was Peter Keller’s “wine of the week” in the NZZ am Sonntag on 19th June.
Read more... (PDF-File)

Price CHF 35.00

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Our top tips for this June – 3 stylish Italians

At the Masters of Wine Symposium in Florence last month, and before hand on a tour of Bolgheri and Montalcino, I had the opportunity to taste many wonderful, individual and personality-packed Italian wines. Here are 2 of my favourites which I strongly recommend for every day Summer drinking, as well as my absolute favourite wine of the trip to lay down in your cellar.

Great Value White:

Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche Torbato
2013 from Sardinia

Bring the Mediterranean into your own garden with this dry, fresh, zesty white and its deliciously salty aftertaste. From the local Sardinian Torbato grape.

Price CHF 18.00

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Great Value Red:

Sassicaia & Santadi «Montessu» 2012
from Sardinia

When the most famous wineries in Italy and Sardinia respectively collude, you can be pretty sure the result will be memorable. This fresh, perfumed, dark cherry fruited red with hints of violets and silky smooth tannins from the vibrant 2012 vintage has so much class and personality it is a steal at this price.

Price CHF 22.00

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World Class Red

Tenuta San Guido «Sassicaia» 2011
from Bolgheri

Tenuta San Guido were the original pioneers of the sunny and beautiful Bolgheri region of Southern Tuscany. Since its first vintage in 1968, their flagship wine Sassicaia has now become Italy’s best-known fine wine. This blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc is the epitome of elegance and class, its perfectly ripe red fruit seamlessly integrated with the silkiest of tannins and a freshness which is characteristic of their windy hillside vineyards. This is quite simply the finest 2011 Cabernet I have tried from anywhere – including any of the Bordeaux 1st Growths. It is drinking beautifully already but will develop for another 10-15 years in bottle.

Price CHF 135.00

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Nicolo Incisa della Rocchetta tasting his wonderful Sassicaia 2011


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Drinking really well this Spring – 3 excellent Chardonnays

In the last few years many people have turned away from Chardonnay and onto any grape but Chardonnay (the ABCs they are called…) Personally, I think it’s time they gave this truly top class grape another chance; the following 3 examples are just fantastic to drink right now:

Economy Class (up to CHF20)

Harewood Estate Chardonnay 2012 from the Great Southern, West Australia

Beautifully balanced, with fresh acidity (it’s cool in the far South-western tip of Australia), ripe melon and apple fruit, and an extra level of biscuit and brioche complexity from its short ageing in French barriques.

Price CHF 20.00

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Business Class (CHF21-50)

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2009 from Auckland, New Zealand

One of New Zealand’s best Chardonnays, with flavours of ripe apricot, honey-coated nuts and a long toasty finish. Crisp and fresh, with excellent concentration.

20% off reduced from CHF35 to CHF28/bt.

Price CHF 28.00

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First Class (>CHF50)

New!
Pascal Marchand Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Gain 2011, Burgundy

From a vineyard situated just above Montrachet Grand Cru, and 30 year old vines, this has lovely depth, intensity, freshness and minerality, together with a long, nutty finish. Top class Burgundy at a very fair price.

Price CHF 60.00

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My top 10 wine revelations of 2013

Certainly one of the best parts of working as a wine merchant is having the opportunity to visit many fascinating wine regions, wine tastings and wine events over the course of each year. The world of wine is constantly evolving and it is important to keep abreast of the many changes and developments taking place. Here are my 10 most exciting wine surprises of 2013; tastings which far exceeded my initial expectations and sent me home with warmth in my heart and a big smile on my face!

10. Chateauneuf du Pape 2010

I tasted 18 of the most famous wines from this wonderful region near Avignon in the Southern Rhone Valley in January this year. 2010 is clearly a superb vintage with delightful freshness, elegance and vitality to accompany the wide array of warm red fruit, spice and herb flavours typical of this area. Some wines were still a little closed and will need another 5-10 years to reach their peak. Try Domaine de Villeneuve Vielles Vignes CNDP 2010 at CHF49, packed with “garrigue”, herbs and spice flavours, perfectly balanced, serious and very long.

9. West Australia – Great Southern

This must be the most remote wine region in the world, located about 600kms south of Perth, itself the most remote city in the world! It is completely unlike any other region of Australia; green, cool and fairly wet, and a haven to some of the most exciting Chardonnays and dry Rieslings I have ever experienced. These wines have rapier-like acidity which gives them extra-long ageing potential. They are also very good value because this region is son little known. Try Harewood Estate Chardonnay 2012 which is an absolute bargain at CHF20. It has fresh acidity, delicious peach and citrus fruit flavours and wonderful purity and ripeness - a Chardonnay to please all palates, including those which don’t usually like Chardonnay!

8. Mature Chasselas

This tasting of 12 old vintages of some of the most famous Swiss Chasselas producers was a revelation indeed! I had no idea how well this apparently simple, easy-drinking and often uninspiring grape can age! My favourites were a Dézaley 1992 from Domaine Luc Massy in Épesses – intense, pure, elegant, low in alcohol at 12% but full of rich, leesy, biscuit complexity – and a Dézaley 1971 from Clos des Abbayes, Domaine de la Ville de Lausanne – again incredibly elegant and intense, harmonious, fresh and tasting of nuts, vanilla and golden-ripe stone fruits.

7. Burgundy 2007

After tasting over 70 of the top wines from this vintage during the Summer it was clear that this is truly a delicious vintage to drink in the next 3 to 5 years. The reds are soft, elegant, gentle and fresh, with charming sweet strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours. Joseph Voillot Volnay Champans 1er Cru 2007 was my “great value” tip of the vintage – silky, sensuous, ripe and sweet-fruited – but the best of the bunch was Gros Frères Richebourg 2007 – beautifully balanced, charming, sexy, gentle yet complex and long; «real» Burgundy!

6. Trocken Rieslings from Germany’s 2012 vintage

Wow! I never used to be a big fan of dry Riesling from Germany, but the style and quality level has improved dramatically over the past 5 years or so. 2012 really was a great vintage for dry Riesling, producing wines with beautiful, gentle stone-fruit flavours and zesty, fresh, invigorating acidity. You can already enjoy these wines now but the best will improve over the next 20, 30 maybe 50 years or more. Dönnhoff Riesling trocken Höllenpfad 2012 at CHF 35 was one of many stars – with that exquisite balance of fruit and acidity that only the best German Rieslings have; truly fine wine, and completely undervalued by today’s market.

5. Bordeaux 2009

OK, so the fact that these wines are so good is no surprise! So much has already been written about this vintage that there is little for me to add. But having tasted all the best known Chateaux in London in November, what surprised me most was both how immediately accessible most of these wines are already – you can drink the lesser wines from both Left and Right Bank already – and what wonderful wines there are at all price levels. If you’re looking for clever buys, you can’t go wrong with second wines from really good chateaux – Capbern Gasqueton (2nd wine of Calon Segur), Croix Beaucaillou (Ducru Beaucaillou) and Pavillon Rouge (Chateau Margaux) are my top tips at CHF28, CHF 55 and CHF175 respectively.

4. Bordeaux 2001

This is THE Bordeaux vintage to be drinking this Christmas! The wines of the better chateaux of both left and right banks are now perfectly mature and showing great complexity of flavour. And, even today, they still represent great value, particularly in comparison with more recent vintages or the much more highly acclaimed (and priced) 2000s. The best wines of the Right bank just have the edge, showing more fruit ripeness, richness and opulence than the slightly leaner, firmer and more structured wines from the Medoc. The best of our tasting of 16 of the biggest names from this vintage were Chateau Figeac (St Emilion), Eglise Clinet (Pomerol) and Chateau Haut Brion (Pessac Léognan). Ducru Beaucaillou 2001 was my favourite from the Medoc.

3. The Mémoire and Friends annual tasting of Swiss wines 2013
This event, held in Zürich at the end of the Summer, provides a superb opportunity to taste a broad range of Switzerland’s best producers from many different Kantons. I am already a big fan of some of Graubunden’s most popular Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, (look out specifically for Georg Fromm Chardonnay 2012 at CHF35) and I love the aromatic whites, especially Petite Arvine, from Valais (try Histoire d’Enfer Petite Arvine 2011 at CHF30). But what particularly surprised me at this tasting was the high overall standard of wines from lesser known regions, such as Schaffhausen, Thurgau and Aargau! My most memorable discoveries were the densely fruity, silky-tannined Pinot Noirs of biodynamic Broger Weinbau in Thurgau; the fresh and intensely fruity whites of Hedinger Sunneberg Kellerei in Schaffhausen; and the amazingly mineral, elegant and vivacious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of biodynamic Litwan Wein in Aargau – surely a star of the future!

2. Old vine wines from the Barossa Valley, South Australia

My single most memorable tasting of 2013 took place in Chateau Tanunda in the Barossa Valley, where we were treated to a selection of at least 20 Shirazes from vines over 100 years old. The Barossa has some of the oldest vines in the world as it has never been infected by the dreaded Phylloxera (Reblaus) which destroyed so many vines in Europe in the late 19th century. I am now, more than ever before, convinced that old vines have the potential to make truly great wines. Never have I tasted such silky-smooth, spicy, concentrated Shiraz, yet with such remarkably fresh acidity. These wines somehow reminded me of super-charged red burgundies from Vosne Romanée, such was their silkiness, smoothness and charm. My undoubted highlights were Henschke ‘s Mount Edelstone Shiraz 2009 at CHF130 - from 101 year old vines - and Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz 2008/9 at CHF80, produced from vines over 165 years old! (Note – I am the importer of this wine)

1. Red Burgundy 2012
I headed to Dijon in late November with no great expectations. I had read that this vintage will be dramatically reduced in quantity but that quality overall would be good. However, after visiting 15 of the region’s best known producers over 4 days, I am left with the lasting impression that 2012 is a fantastic red Burgundy vintage, specifically in the Côtes de Nuits! The best wines seem to have several layers of sweet cherry fruit, real density and weight (“gras” as they say in Burgundy), and are supported by invigoratingly fresh acidity, similar to that of 2010 but more easily approachable now. My particular favourites were Domaine Hudellot-Noellat of Chambolle Musigny, Domaine Rossignol Trapet of Gevrey Chambertin and Domaine Anne Gros of Vosne Romanée. I wholeheartedly recommend any wine from these domaines in this vintage, should you be lucky enough to find any.

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Personal tips for the Summer – what’s drinking well now?

Of the many wines I have tasted over the last few weeks, the following stick in my mind as tasting fantastic right now. They should also be perfect for when/if warmer Summer weather finally arrives:

Whites

New vintage!
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough,
New Zealand

The new vintage of this great Sauvignon Blanc is the best yet, and that’s saying something! It has such intense grapefruit flavour and beautifully fresh acidity it is simply the ideal Summer aperitif. Or if you want it to taste even better, try drinking it alongside the winemaker’s personal preferred food companion - take a look at the new wine and food matching section on our website.

Price CHF 25.00

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New!
Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris 2011, Alsace, France

I love Olivier Humbrecht’s wines and his new vintage tasting held every March in Alsace is one of the very few producer tastings I make sure I attend every year. For me he is the master Pinot Gris winemaker in the world, and this wine at this price is just unbeatable value. Lovely nutty richness, notes of honey and spice, a touch of melon and pineapple fruit – how could anyone not like this?

Price CHF 25.00

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New!
Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2009, Auckland, New Zealand

Just arrived from Auckland, Kumeu River are New Zealand’s most renowned Chardonnay producers. This is their “village” wine, but it has such perfect balance of crisp acidity, warm mango and pear fruit, and gently integrated butterscotch and vanilla notes from its maturation in Burgundy barrels, that it could very easily be mistaken for a good Premier Cru.

Price CHF 35.00

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Rosé

New!
Weingut Florin Schiller Rosé 2012, Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

It really will be Summer soon, and this fresh, dry, fruity, uncomplicated Rosé is just what you need to chill you down after work. I love this wine and the story behind it. “Schiller” is a uniquely Swiss wine style originating from the Bundner Herrschaft. It’s a mix of red and white grapes which have been grown together, intermingled, in the same vineyard.

Price CHF 20.00

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Reds

Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py 2010, Beaujolais, France

Beaujolais still suffers from a complete lack of credibility due to the gallons of Beaujolais Nouveau churned out in the past 30 years. What people sadly don’t realise is that at the top end, from old vines grown on the best terroirs of Morgon, Fleurie and Moulin à Vent, there are some fantastic Gamays being produced. This is my favourite. Made from 70 year old vines by a true “man of the soil“ this is deep, dark-cherry-packed, sensual and soft, yet wonderfully fresh and elegant at the same time. Only a top terroir in a great vintage, which 2010 most certainly was, can produce Beaujolais of this calibre.

Price CHF 35.00

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New!
Binet Jacquet Faugères Tradition 2011, Faugères, South West France

Vibrantly fresh, packed with the herbs, spice and “garrigue” flavours so typical of Southern France, this true Mediterranean red should not be missed. Perfect with salads containing olives and tomatoes, lamb chops from the barbecue topped with thyme or rosemary, or any spicy pasta dish.

Price CHF 19.00

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New vintage!
Felton Road Pinot Noir 2011, Central Otago, New Zealand

Whether or not you are a Pinot-lover, you can’t help but be entranced by this beautiful example from the most Southerly vineyards in the world. This wine is what wine writers would describe as “feminine”, with its sweet red cherry fruit, dancing acidity, elegance and freshness. But it has a little more weight than red Burgundy, and a bit more alcohol and punch at the same time. I guess I like that in a woman!

Price CHF 50.00

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New vintage!
D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2009, MacLaren Vale,
South Australia

Maybe not the most obvious hot weather wine, as this is packed with warmth, fruit and alcohol, but surely the perfect red for an upmarket barbecue! D’Arenberg’s flagship Shiraz is a beauty, a monster, the wine for anyone who loves big, robust and powerful Aussie reds. But if you don’t want to drink it now, no worries, this will age fantastically for another 10-15 years…

Price CHF 49.00

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Recommended Red

Kalleske Pirathon Shiraz 2010,
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Many people assume that vintages in the warmer countries of the New World are always the same, that they are constant in style and quality from one year to another. This is absolutely not true! 2010 was however a truly superb vintage in South Australia, ranking alongside 2002 and 1998 in quality. There was plenty of warmth during the growing season, but never too much, and enough cool weather and rain at the right times to give freshness and balance to the wines.
This shiraz has the typical fruitcake and milk chocolate flavours of Barossa in abundance, but possesses a freshness and vitality which make it wonderful to drink. It is big in body and in alcohol, but not too big; has gentle vanilla oak flavours but these are never too evident. This wine is made biodynamically, with minimal use of chemicals in the vineyard or winery, from very old eighty year old bush vines. It rarely fails to please, whatever your palate, and is well worth its price tag. A near-perfect example of Barossa Shiraz from a great vintage; definitely worth putting a case in the cellar as it will keep for 5-7 years no problem.

Price CHF 35.00

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Recommended white

Domaine d’Orfeuilles Dry Vouvray 2010,
Loire Valley, France

Maybe it’s not the warmest white wine drinking weather at the moment, but if you do want to try something a little different, deliciously refreshing, with just a touch of sweetness to counter its green apple acidity, then this is the wine! Made from the long-lived Chenin Blanc grape which one associates these days more with South Africa than its home turf along the Loire, this has a real stony minerality from the white flinty soils where the vines grow. Perfect with seafood or on its own, this is a great value white which has proved almost universally popular in all our tastings until now.

Price CHF 18.00

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Previous recommendations

February/March 2013

Recommended white

Domaine Francois Villard
Condrieu Deponcins 2009
Northern Rhone, France

Condrieu is a tiny appellation just south of Valence in the Northern Rhone Valley and uniquely for this red wine-dominated region of France can only produce white wine. The grape is Viognier, the soils are granitic and unforgiving, the wines are breathtaking. The Viognier grape reached its apogee in Condrieu, producing wines with restrained peach and apricot fruit, elegance, minerality and restraint. At the same time the ripe 2009 vintage has made the fruit more explosive than usual in the mouth, and there are perfectly integrated toasty oak notes. If you have ever wondered what Condrieu should taste like, this is it. If you just fancy drinking something a bit different, then try this. Or if this Condrieu is a little too expensive, try its little brother - also in our range and also produced by Francois Villard – Les Contours de Deponcins 2009 at CHF29/bt. It is an excellent “baby-Condrieu” at half the price!

Price CHF 60.00

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Recommended Red

Domaine Jean Foillard
Morgon Côte de Py 2009
Beaujolais, France

This is quite simply the best Beaujolais wine from any vintage we have tasted! Produced from very old vines grown on the best granite soils of the sub region of Morgon, it has sweet black cherry fruit, lovely balancing acidity to give freshness, and the silkiest, smoothest mouth feel you can imagine. There are no oak flavours – this wine was matured for a year or so in old oak barrels but these give no oaky taste – just layers of gloriously pure, ripe, unadulterated fruit. If this was a Burgundy it would rival premier cru Musigny in its feminine charms and wonderful sensuality! Limited stock.

Price CHF 32.00

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Previous recommendations

September 2011

Recommended white

Zind Humbrecht
Riesling Clos Windsbuhl 2008, Alsace, France

This was in our opinion Olivier Humbrecht’s most successful Riesling in 2008, a vintage full of freshness and acidity in which he produced wonderful whites across the board.

It is just starting to gain a slightly deeper straw yellow colour now and on the nose and palate is really beginning to open out, showing an amazing array of flavours. The acidity underpinning the wine is fine and intense and will allow it to develop beautifully for 15 more years without problem. But leave it an hour or so after opening and this will allow the lime, peach and subtle petrol aromas to come to the fore. This is a dry Riesling from Alsace, not sweet in German style, and has medium to full body. It is a delight on its own, or ideal with green salad, fish, or if you’re feeling more adventurous a mildly spicy Thai green curry.

Price CHF 65.00

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Recommended Red

Domaine Léon Barral
Tradition 2008, Faugères, Southern France

As the Summer finally draws to a close and fresher Autumnal temperatures return, this is the perfect time to be drinking this wine, one of our favourite French reds. Léon Barral is a master of making wine which reflects perfectly the sights and scents of his garrigue-scented vineyards on the rugged hills about 30 km north of the Mediterranean in South West France.
The 2008 vintage in this warm part of France was relatively cool and fresh, giving the wine lifted fruit flavours and a fresh and lively acidity to balance its rustic tannins. It is fairly full in body, and packed with flavours unique to the region – game, spice and herbs complement pure red berry fruits. His old vines tended in the most natural way provide the ultimate expression of the Carignan, Syrah and Grenache grapes so typical of this area.

Price CHF 23.00

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Previous recommendations

December 2011

Recommended white

Matetic Corralillo Chardonnay 2009,
Casablanca Valley, Chile

I tasted this on one of those very cold (-15 Centigrade outside) days in early February and to be frank was not expecting to be wowed by a humble CHF17/bt Chilean Chardonnay. Never judge a book by its cover though; this is a zesty, fresh, gently ripe, fruity white with surprising structure, length and complexity for the price. It has a barely perceptible touch of French oak to add depth of flavour. At this price I have tasted few better Chardonnays in the last few years; and certainly few that have been farmed biodynamically as this has.

Price CHF 17.00

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Recommended Red

Chateau Carignan Cuvée Prima 2009,
1ères Côtes de Bordeaux, France

You may have read much glowing press comment recently about the 2009 vintage in Bordeaux. Well, it’s all well-deserved. 2009 is a deliciously ripe and fruity vintage in Bordeaux and across France, and has produced well structured reds which are already open and accessible now but which will age for several years depending on their pedigree.

This 100% Merlot from South East of Bordeaux is a prime example of the old adage that “you don’t need to buy the most expensive wines in a great vintage”. It has huge personality, lovely elegance and perfectly integrated sweet black fruit with fine vanilla oak tannins. It genuinely is a pleasure to drink already, which one is rarely able to say about a two and a half year old Bordeaux; a combination of the vintage and the fact that the Merlot grape is always smoother and rounder and easier to drink than more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon. Buy this by the case – you won’t be disappointed!

Price CHF 25.00

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Previous recommendations

October 2012

Real Wines,   Im Junker 8,   8143 Stallikon,   Tel. +41 43 466 08 90     Fax. +41 43 466 08 89