Issue: 49 / Sunday 25 November, 2018
Written by Stuart McCloskey
It has been an extraordinarily busy week and we haven’t hit our Christmas stride yet. We took an early decision to buy ahead of Brexit as we fear there will be turbulence with our supply route and possible customs disruptions, which we are already witnessing. Last week, our Australian order containing multiple pallets of Dr Edge Pinot Noir, Kaesler and Standish wines were held, without explanation by customs, which delayed delivery to both our HQ warehouse and bonded facility by a week. All HQ stock is now ready to be despatched however, wines destined for our bond have yet to clear, which adds a further layer of complexity and of course stress, as many cases have been pre-sold and need to be released for onward world-wide shipping. The clock is ticking for exports and pre-Christmas arrivals. We also took the decision to purchase a substantial amount of Zalto glassware (two pallets in fact) which arrived from Austria on Friday. This should, we hope, comfortably see us through to the spring however, sales of this beautiful glassware are quite remarkable. I believe we have sold more Zalto in the past three months than we have Riedel over the course of the past two years (and we are effectively selling-off our Riedel Veritas range at cost). Understandable and something I firmly believe - every wine should be served using Zalto as the drinking pleasure is dramatically heightened.
We also took the decision to collect as much of our and our clients 2016 Bordeaux this side of Christmas. Given the value, a dedicated vehicle and two drivers were employed to collect out of Bordeaux on Monday for arrival at our UK bond on Thursday. Alas, and we know how much the French love to strike, burning roadblocks cut-off their access, which delayed our collection by one full day. Further delays en-route back to the UK ensured they missed their booking in slot, which on the one hand seems rather trivial but everyone’s blood pressure rose when our bond stated they will reject our delivery and will not be able to re-book a slot for one week. Certainly, stressful when over four-hundred thousand pounds of ‘top’ Bordeaux wines are sitting on the back of a lorry without a home. Thankfully, and after a little mediation, our bond, LCB kindly agreed to unload our wines. We will be heading back to Bordeaux in the spring to collect the remaining wines which were not available – These include Châteaux Lafite, Mouton, Margaux, Montrose, VCC, Canon and Lynch Bages to name a few. The team will be liaising with all 2016 Bordeaux customers over the coming weeks.
We warmly welcome a new team member, Clive who joins Michelle in our finance department. We had every intention of announcing Clive with his own introduction (he spent 33 years in the RAF) but, it was the length of a novel and needs serious editing. We will include an abridged version next week with a link to the full story as I would hate to upset a new member of the team! We are also looking forward to welcoming Shontelle who joins our customer service and logistics team and Peter who will be working closely with Magda and looking after you all. They both join the team at the beginning of the New Year and will be tremendous assets.
Daily pressures are gently eased with sample after sample and we’ve opened some absolute belters this week. Some of you may have come across the multi award-winning producer, Bay of Fires from Tasmania. We sampled their 2015 Chardonnay and were stunned by the quality. I honestly declare, this is the best Chardonnay I have ever sampled at this price level which is some going as I have been in the industry for twenty-five years. We have purchased all the stock with 600 bottles available for immediate despatch. A clear winner for Wine of the Week (see below) and certainly the best value wine of 2018. Please pay particular attention to the special 12-pack case offer.
Magda and I also welcomed St Hallett’s Stuart Blackwell to our HQ. Stuart’s winemaking career spans four decades and much of that with the same Barossa producer. Stuart has developed not only a deep understanding of the rich tapestry of site and climatic variances in the Barossa but also an appreciation of the importance of both dedicated growers and ‘old vine’ Shiraz.
His commitment to the region over the past four decades has won the hearts of some of the Barossa’s most dedicated and passionate growers giving St Hallett access to the Barossa’s most prized ‘old vine’ Shiraz vineyards dating back 60 to over 100 years of age. These strongly forged relationships have yielded exceptional quality fruit consequentially leading to benchmark Barossa wines of extraordinary acclaim, all endorsing Stuart’s sincere and long-term approach in the Barossa over the past four decades.
Stuart’s warmth and honesty are contagious. His knowledge deep and I found the entire afternoon enthralling. Hours passed far too quickly as we swapped stories whilst sampling a large range of St Hallett wines. Who said the Barossa lacks terroir as each bottle offered a different side to Shiraz. Soil type, elevation, aspect and vintage variation were clearly visible. Perhaps more than any other Barossa producer I know. From the honesty of Faith to the majesty of Old Block, Shiraz forms the core of the St Hallett range and each wine was excellent. Their Touriga Nacional and Mataro were also enjoyable however, and purely subjective of course, these did not strike the same cord. I was particularly impressed with their Butcher’s Cart Shiraz, with fruit sourced from Barossa Valley vineyards that share the soil type of red-brown earth which commonly delivers rich and generous Shiraz and a little component from the higher altitude region of Eden Valley. Granted, this is not an overly complex wine but just simply delicious. I shall be bringing this to the UK next year. The 2014 Old Block was showing very well – there’s much to like from this elegant wine. Stuart explained that to qualify for Old Block, vineyards must be planted on their own rootstock and must be older than 40 years. The youngest vineyard used in the 2014 Old Block Shiraz was planted in 1963 and the oldest planting was 1870. Once the vineyard has qualified to be considered Old Block; it is graded in a blind tasting by the winemaking team to determine if it meets the quality standard. The parcels from Eden and Barossa Valley are then carefully blended by Senior Winemaker Toby Barlow.
We were also lucky to sample the 2015 Old Block which is not yet released to the world market. The contrast between the two vintages was staggering with the ’15 offering far more opulence. We have pre-ordered 100 cases (the entire UK allocation) which will be arriving next year. As ever, talk turned to special wines and projects and is there something we can create for Vinorium customers only. An underground Max Schubert type project to get everyone excited, which is something Stuart is willing to explore. The St Hallett winemaking team have produced a one-off wine sourced from vines dating back to 1919. I was keen to learn if this was a commercial sales strategy or an honest attempt to introduce a wine of greater quality to their iconic Old Block. Stuart confirmed the latter but is unsure of how the market will welcome this wine. We are assured of a small allocation, which will be offered on an En-Primeur / pre-shipment basis early next year.
I am also keen to introduce four wines from their portfolio which have not been seen the in the UK before. Their Dawkins vineyard Shiraz which is tucked away in the eastern part of Eden Valley. Their Mattschoss vineyard which is their highest Shiraz vineyard in Eden Valley (elevation of 489m), Scholz Shiraz which takes its name and character from a single vineyard owned by the Scholz family, in the northern area of the Barossa Valley. The vineyard site has a distinct soil type and has a remarkable lack of variation across this block. This area of the Barossa near the Ebeneezer church is renowned for its richly flavoured Shiraz with intense and luscious middle palate flavours and their Materne Shiraz which takes its name and personality from a single vineyard nestled on the banks of a tree-lined creek that runs through the Greenock township in the north western hills of the Barossa Valley. News on all new releases to follow in the New Year
Our Very Special Wine of the Week…
A Must-Have Vinorium Exclusivity
Presenting the multi award-winning winery Bay of Fires, Tasmania and quite simply the best Chardonnay I have ever sampled at this price level
Bay of Fires Chardonnay 2015
£14.50 per bottle
** Special 12 bottle case price - £11.95 per bottle **
96+ Points Stuart McCloskey - Hand-picked from the Coal River Valley, East Coast and Derwent Valley, whole bunch-pressed, fermented in French oak from five different coopers. Deep aromas of gunflint and ripe, yellow stone fruits harmoniously fused with layers of mineral complexity and a touch of nutty oak. Medium to full-bodied and a silk-like mouthfeel. The palate is drenched with ripe stone fruits and a density, opulence, energy and drive which is quite extraordinary given the wine’s value. Every grape is assessed for its quality and character, hand-picked with care and thoughtfully considered for its winemaking potential. Each fruit parcel is kept separate, which ensures the core of its flavour components are captured at precisely the right moment. Each batch of wine is matured in the finest oak, resulting in a wine that is deeply impressive. Please do not miss this wine's exhilarating complexity and pedigree. Truly remarkable for the price and quite simply the best Chardonnay I have ever sampled at this price level. Magnificent. Superb now and enjoy to 2023. Served using Zalto Bordeaux glassware.
Join Stu for Supper & a Tasting
at the Uber-Trendy Goodmans Restaurant, London
Buy 3 bottles and a ticket is yours.
Only 10 tickets available.
Join us for a special Louis Martini food and wine matching evening at Goodmans, voted the best steak restaurant in London.
Simply purchase 3 bottles (minimum) of the superb 2013 Louis M Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma Valley and a ticket is yours.
Purchase six and two tickets are yours!
End of January / first week of February 2019 as we know
Christmas is a busy time for you all.
2013 Louis M Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon,
Sonoma Valley (each bottle is presented in its OWC)
“An absolutely outrageous wine and probably one of the great all-time Cabernet Sauvignons from Sonoma is the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Rosso Vineyard Sonoma Valley. This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the relatively recent Moon Mountain AVA, that aged for 27 months in 67% new French and 14 % new American oak. This is a wine of thrilling levels of intensity, with an incredible fragrance of spring flowers, blue fruits, black fruits, especially crème de cassis and blackberry, loamy soil undertones, and a touch of licorice and smoke. The wine is full-bodied, with magnificent fruit intensity and purity, loads of glycerin (15.5% alcohol) and a finish of a good 40+ seconds”
2013 Vintage: The Cabernet grapes for this wine were carefully hand harvested and hand sorted, then cold soaked for up to three days before being gravity fed into 3.5 ton and 7-ton open top fermenters. After primary fermentation, free run juice was drained and the must gently pressed in a 5-ton basket press. The wine was racked by gravity into oak barrels for malolactic fermentation, then aged in separate lots for up to 26 months in French and American oak barrels (72% new French, 16% new American, 12% neutral barrels). The final blend was assembled, then sent back to barrel to allow the flavors to integrate before bottling.
The 2013 growing season on the Mayacamas and at Monte Rosso was another excellent year in a string of great vintages. The spring was mild and dry, summer was consistently warm but not extremely hot, and fall stayed dry through harvest. That long, consistent hang time allowed for wonderful fruit development, and the mix of steady warm sun and cool nights gave the fruit vibrant color, excellent acidity,
intense fruit flavors and rich texture.
2015 Eileen Hardy Shiraz
Receives 98 Points
“Providing flavour and texture
balance beyond compare” says James Halliday
Australia’s leading critic, James Halliday has published a raft of scores including the ’15 Eileen Hardy Shiraz, exclusive to The Vinorium in the UK. James awards a fantastic 98 points which pips the newly released 2013 Henschke Hill of Grace (97 & £575 per bottle), 2014 Penfolds Grange (97 & £415 per bottle) and draws equal to Clonakilla’s 2017 Shiraz Viognier (£70 per bottle) and Mount Pleasant’s stunning 1880 Vines Old Hill Vineyard Hunter Valley Shiraz, which and if you are lucky to get hold of a bottle, retails north of £100 per bottle.
It would be accurate to say that our price of £33.50 is an absolute steal.
Also available under bond at £152.25 per case of six.
98 Points James Halliday “From two old vineyards in McLaren Vale with an average age of over 80yo, wild yeast open-fermented, plunged, basket-pressed. Deeply coloured, this plum, blackberry and dark chocolate wine has countless layers of tightly wound fruit, the gently savoury finish providing flavour and texture balance beyond compare. Oak? Yes, it's there somewhere”.
Our 2018 Wines of the Week
those which have not sold out!
A little treat with Christmas pudding…
Chambers Rosewood Vineyards Rare Muscadelle NV Half
“life is too short not to try this wine ...
a true Australian treasure”
“It must be tasted to be believed”
“this is one of the world’s most remarkable dessert wines, and is worth every effort to latch on to a half bottle or so”
Mr Parker’s a fan
100 Points - Robert Parker "My notes essentially read the same every year, even though the bottlings are non-vintage and I taste the most recent releases. Consistency and greatness are the norm at this Rutherglen winery. The average age is 7-10 years for the regular cuvees, about 70 years for the grand cuvees, and the ancient rare cuvees date back to soleras from 1890. The Muscadelle (Tokay) reveals caramel, toffee, fig, prune, raisiny notes, an incredible, unctuous texture, and amazing zesty acidity which keeps it from being cloying. It is redundant to keep repeating the same tasting notes, so readers will have to take my word for it ... this is one of the world’s most remarkable dessert wines, and is worth every effort to latch on to a half bottle or so."
100 Points Jay Miller (Robert Parker.com) "The Rare series has achieved perfection frequently in these pages. Happily nothing has changed. The Non-Vintage Rare Muscadelle is amber/brown approaching black. It offers an ethereal perfume of fig, graham cracker, coconut, caramel, and spice box. Thick, rich, and concentrated, it goes on and on in the finish. Chambers Rosewood Vineyards makes my short list of greatest fortified wine producers. The winery was started in 1858 and continues to be owned by the Chambers family. Some of the material for these blends is over 100 years old. As Robert Parker noted in Issue 168, these wines are the product of solera systems so there is very little, if any, difference from release to release."
Our Shop is Open Next Saturday
1st December 10am-4pm
The Vinorium, Ashmill House,
Ashmill Business Park, Ashford Road, Lenham, ME17 2GQ
Christmas Domestic (UK) Delivery
Schedule from our HQ
• We are advising all our customers to place their orders before
4.30pm on Wednesday 19th December to ensure delivery before Christmas.
• We will be despatching all orders placed before 4.30pm on Thursday 20th December on the same day but please note that these are not guaranteed to arrive pre-Christmas.
• We will be extending our same day despatch promise until 4.30pm from
Monday 10th December.
• All orders placed after 4.30pm on Thursday 20th December will be despatched on Thursday 3rd January.
Domestic (UK) Delivery
Schedule from our UK Bond
• We are advising all our customers to place their orders before
12pm on Wednesday 20th December to ensure delivery before Christmas.
• Orders for the following postcodes must be placed by:
HS, KA, KW, PA, ZE
AB, BT, DD, DG, FK, IV, KA, KY, PH, TD
EH, FK, G, LD, ML, PA
European Delivery Schedule
• European delivery cut offs are yet to be confirmed.
Our Office and Shop Christmas Hours
• The shop will be open Monday to Thursday from 9am-5pm and Friday from 9am-3pm (extended until 5pm on Friday 14th and 21st)
1st December – 10am-4pm
8th December – 10am-5pm
15th, 22nd and 23rd December – 9am-6pm
The shop will be closed on Christmas eve
• Our office will close on Friday 21st December at 5pm
and re-open on Thursday 3rd January.