Winewyse Press Articles

Winemaker Journeys From South Africa

Richard Esling - Monday, September 23, 2019
Winemaker Journeys From South Africa

And the Journeys End was in Brighton! Mike Dawson is the young, dynamic winemaker for one of South Africa’s top vineyards, with the unusual name of Journeys End. At the age of only 29, he has already been winemaker for the estate for five years, having trained in his own country and also in South America. Last week, he hosted a lunch at the fabulous Gingerman restaurant in Brighton, in order to showcase a selection of the wines for which he is responsible.

The name ‘Journeys End’ refers to the fact that the estate is at the end of the Stellenbosch region, an area where the majority of the best South African wines are made. Cradled in the foothills of the Hottentot mountains, the estate is located quite close to the sea and thus benefits from the cooling Ocean breezes, which often can be more like a hurricane than a breeze! “The distinctly cooler climate gives us great opportunities to make delicate, elegant wines of great quality, but also can involve significantly more work both in the vineyard and the winery”, comments Mike. His philosophy is that of minimum intervention in his winemaking in order to produce wines of character, which reflect both the terroir and the climate.

Stylistically, Mike aims to produce wines which are designed for the modern wine consumer, but have their roots firmly implanted in old world techniques. The Chardonnays are all barrel fermented, using mainly French oak, but the barrels are turned to mix the lees, rather than stirred with a baton. Time in the barrel is strictly controlled so that the oak only enhances the flavours in the wine, rather than dominating them. The result is a delicious, modern, vibrant wine, with both fruit character and complexity from the judicious use of oak. Burgundian in style, yet with more than a nod to New World influences.

The range of reds is equally delicious, and Mike eschews the iconic South African Pinotage, preferring to craft elegant, yet deep flavoured reds from Cabernet Sauvignon, which performs particularly well at Journeys End. We tasted the Journeys End Sir Lowry Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, a romantic pioneer born in England in 1772, who became Governor of the Cape from 1828-33. During his tenure, he brought immense progress to the region, opening up trade to the Southern Cape by building a mountain pass.

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes on low yielding vines, again influenced by cool breezes from False Bay. After fermentation, the wine was matured 18 months in French oak barrels, giving exceptional depth and complexity to a wine from this region. Wonderfully rich fruit with full, mellow tannins and dark fruit character, with a touch of spice and chocolate. Satisfyingly long finish, this is great value wine at only £11.99 from Waitrose Cellar ( currently £3 a bottle off until 8th October). The Journeys End Chardonnay 2018 is also available from the same supplier at £15.49 a bottle. Old World wines from the New World! 

The Rise of Albarino

Richard Esling - Monday, September 09, 2019
The Rise of Albarino

If you’re tired of the usual white grape varieties, Sauvignon Blanc from a hundred different places or the ubiquitous Chardonnay from all around the globe, you may find a liking for a fresh up-and-coming varietal from North-west Spain. The region of Rias Baixas is located in Galicia and is now widely regarded as the top white wine region of Spain.
95% of all grapes grown in this region are the Albariño variety, a grape variety which is growing greatly in popularity, now being grown successfully in California, New Zealand and some parts of Australia. The true heartland of Albariño, however, is the Rias Baixas in the far corner of North-west Spain. Known as ‘Green Spain’, the region experiences higher than average rainfall in comparison to the rest of Spain, and has lush, verdant countryside as a result.
Due to the humidity, the vines are grown high off the ground on trellises, using local granite posts. This allows better circulation of air, helping to prevent diseases and also facilitates harvesting, which is all done by hand. The UK is now the second largest market for wines from Rias Baixas after the USA, with 6,500 growers producing wines from 20,000 individual vineyard plots, covering some 10,000 acres. The grape’s thick skin enables it to withstand the damp climate of Galicia and the subsequent fruit is small, sweet and high in glycerol, producing wines high in alcohol and acidity.
Crafted close to the Atlantic Ocean, the wines from this region are perfect with fish and seafood of all descriptions. Crisp, dry and fresh, without the shadow of an oak cask, these wines have fruit, zest and vibrancy, being perfect for the modern wine-drinker and modern cuisine, including Thai dishes.
Several other white grape varieties are grown in this area, although Albariño is by far the most widespread. It is since the 1980s that the wine has been made as a single varietal, previously being mainly blended with other varieties. This is still the case for some wines and La Mar 2017 from Bodegas Terras Gauda, is made predominantly from Caiño Blanco, blended with Albariño and Loureiro. Production is scarce, as the ancient variety Caiño Blanco is difficult to work with, being thin skinned and ripening very late in the season. But when successful, the wine is outstanding, with tropical fruit characteristics, together with earthy, mineral notes and fresh, saline overtones. With good body and a creamy palate, the finish is long, yet fresh and fruity. £25 from on-line specialists such as
Varietal Albariño is now widely stocked, from Aldi to M&S, and it is difficult to find one which disappoints. Happily, it is now also finding its way onto restaurant wine lists, so well worth looking out for, particularly if fish is on the menu. Calazul Albariño 2018 is from the Val do Salnés sub-region and is a clear, straightforward, bright wine, with intense fruit flavours of green apple, pear and a touch of peach. Crisp acidity with a refreshing finish. £10 -£12 from on-line merchants such as 

Experience Life at the Chateau

Richard Esling - Monday, September 02, 2019
Experience Life at the Chateau

As you arrive at Bordeaux airport in Merignac, you are greeted by a smartly dressed driver who immediately takes your bags. Stepping outside the terminal building, a gleaming 1969 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow is waiting to whisk you off to your Chateau. Passing row after row of vines responsible for some of the world’s best wines, you then enter through huge wrought iron gates, as the car gently crunches on the long gravel tree-lined avenue. Through the ancient archway, the Rolls Royce glides to a halt in the courtyard, as the Regisseur du Chateau arrives to greet you with a warm welcome.
A work of fiction? By no means! You could be the one in that Rolls, about to enjoy the experience of a lifetime, staying in a Chateau producing Bordeaux Wine. Chateau Prieuré Marquet is set amongst the vineyards not far from the famous wine town of Saint Emilion, just under an hour from Bordeaux. 11 different luxuriously appointed rooms are available for any celebration you can name. Alternatively, the entire Chateau can be hired for the ultimate celebratory event, such as a wedding.
Picture yourself sipping champagne on the terrace, relaxing by the pool or strolling through the leafy vineyards. Throw open the shutters in the morning, as the sun streams into your bedroom and you gaze over the peaceful scenery, before enjoying a delicious croissant and coffee in the conservatory.
Prieuré Marquet is a wine château with a difference. Steeped in history, it produces a range of wines under the Bordeaux Superieur designation, in a modern winery which combines both old and new techniques. Stainless steel fermentation tanks sit alongside large terracotta jars, modelled on those used by the Greeks and Romans. The beams of the old winery building have been carefully preserved and the entire building is covered by a modern, removable shell to control temperature, keeping the historic nature of the establishment intact.
With a forward-thinking owner and a top oenologist wine-maker Luc Barusseau, the boundaries of Bordeaux wine production are being pushed in new directions. Gamay and Chardonnay vines have been introduced, varieties normally associated with Burgundy rather than Bordeaux. With the first production of these wines due this year, the results are awaited with great interest.
The magnificent Chateau building is an architectural gem, which has been carefully restored with both respect for the past and contemporary imagination, under the guidance of the entrepreneur owner Bernard Canonne. Apart from producing award winning Bordeaux wines, it now offers prestigious accommodation, along with bespoke dining and a host of services which can be arranged according to your wishes.
An ideal base for wine tourism, exploring the surrounding vineyards of Saint Emilion, Pomerol, Fronsac and other Bordeaux Appellations, it is also the wedding venue par excellence. The entire chateau can be put at your disposal, with 11 guest bedrooms and the spacious and luxurious salons and sitting rooms overlooking the vineyards, the elegant, wide corridors, swimming pool, terrace, conservatory and dining room. All services can be provided by the chateau and its partners, to make your event one which you will remember forever.
For further information and details on guest rooms (Chambre d’hôtes) or reservations of the entire chateau for your forthcoming wedding, please phone the England based representative, Catherine, on 07884 238170.