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Friends of Napa Tasting: 2018 Edition

When a select contingent of Napa Vintners and luminaries heads to London for the annual Decanter Fine Wine Encounter, there’s only one thing to do: build on the success of last year’s Friends of Napa tasting and lunch event and organise another one!

The splendid and aesthetically pleasing Haymarket Hotel in Piccadilly was selected as this year’s venue, and the stunning Shooting Gallery played host-with-the-most to a walkaround tasting of around 43 gems from 13 of Napa’s leading producers.  Each table was manned by a Vintner or their UK representative, so our Press and Trade guests could dig deep into what it is that makes this tiny AVA in California so special.

Pre-lunch, the 60 or so guests were treated to a taster of two 2010 vintage, uber limited edition Premiere Napa Valley Cabernets.   And then during lunch, vintners table-hopped between courses - bottles in hand - to share the love and their wines with as many of the assembled guests as possible.

Now that’s how to do lunch, Napa style…


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The Majesty of Moldovan Wine

Wednesday 10th October saw the culmination of our work with a small, independent importer of wines from Moldova - Novus BH Magister - to stage their first ever Press & Trade tasting. 

Moldovan sisters Irina Hriplivii and Aliona Braileanu, and Irina’s husband Sergiu, set up their company in 2016 after realising that while they and their family and friends were well aware of the quality of wines being produced in their home country today, the UK’s restaurants and retailers were not. 

Aliona told us, “Wine runs through the very fabric of Moldovan history and culture and our company was created to introduce ourselves as part of this rich heritage, and show why we are so proud to represent Moldovan wine in the UK.  The changes in winemaking standards over the last decade or so have been huge, and it’s time to show our current home the quality that is available.”

Irina and Aliona asked for our help in inviting journalists, sommeliers, independent merchants, educators and consultants to their tasting of wines from seven producers - six of whom have never shown their wines in the UK before.  We also set up focused masterclass tastings hosted by Eastern European wine expert Caroline Gilby MW.

As you can see from these pictures from the day, it looks like interest in Moldovan wines is set to grow…


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The 2018 Penfolds Collection Preview - The Next Chapter

We were supremely fortunate to contribute to the celebration of Australian winemaking, with the addition of yet another chapter to Penfolds’ long lineage of fine wine at the 2018 Collection Preview Tasting on 26th September.

Penfolds Chief Winemaker, the lovely Peter Gago, presented the 2018 Collection to our hand-selected group of Press at Hide Restaurant, followed by a flight of award-winning museum-release wines (including the 2010 Grange, win!), perfectly-matched to a sumptuous menu.

The event provided an opportunity to not only appreciate these time-honoured Aussie blends, but also the unabating integrity of Peter’s approach to his craft (and his many anecdotes!).

This event was held in conjunction with other tastings taking place around the world, including in Paris, Beijing and New York, as part of the Collection Preview roadshow.

Press in attendance
Adam Lechmere - Club Oenologique Magazine
Adrian Smith - Sypped, The Three Drinkers
Anthony Rose - Freelance
Colin Hampden White - The Three Drinkers
Edith Hancock - The Drinks Business
Joanna Simon - House & Garden, thewinegang.com
John Stimpfig - Decanter
Margaret Rand - Freelance
Matthew Jukes - Mail on Saturday, matthewjukes.com
Melanie Jappy - The Wine Show
Peter Dean - The Buyer
Sarah Ahmed - The Wine Detective
Will Lyons - Sunday Times

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The Modern Art of Winemaking in Rioja & Rueda with Ramon Bilbao

On a number of occasions, Ramón Bilbao winemaker Rodolfo Bastida has been ‘At Home’ in London to tell our Press and Trade contacts all about his work in the vineyards of Rioja.

This year, Rodolfo wanted to give the white side of the story and show why he turns to Rueda for white wines with all the freshness and elegance that has become the hallmark of Ramón Bilbao Rioja reds.

Of course, we couldn’t let his Rioja expertise go unmentioned, so we worked with the Ramón Bilbao team to stage ‘The Modern Art of Winemaking in Rueda & Rioja’ which we held in a private event space at Tate Modern on the South Bank.

After a morning’s Masterclass Tasting in the Aula (that’s Spanish for ‘Classroom’), we moved to the Comedor (or ‘Dining Room’) for a delicious lunch prepared by the Chefs at Tate Catering, with a menu specially matched by Tate Catering’s main man Hamish Anderson to a selection of Ramón Bilbao wines.

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Millésimes Alsace Encore Une Fois!

June 10th this year once again saw team ewpr take a group of top UK Press, Sommeliers and - for the first time - Independent Wine Merchants (21 people in total!) to the biannual Millésimes Alsace tasting in France. 

The first evening was spent at a welcome dinner and tasting hosted by Les diVINEs d’Alsace at Josmeyer - a great way to kick off exploring how Alsace wines match with different foods.  We were all up bright and early the next day for the Millésimes tasting itself - a walkaround format with over a hundred of Alsace’s producers showing their wines, with a major focus on Riesling.  A wonderful Gala Dinner was laid on that evening in the grounds of Les Dominicains Monastery in Guebwiller, complete with an impressive light show running across the Monastery walls to finish the evening.

Day two saw us split into groups to explore the Grands Crus of Altenberg de Bergheim, Rosacker and Brand with producers showing us just what each terroir brings to their wines.  The next few days were spent attending focus tastings at CIVA HQ and visiting different producers throughout Alsace.

Joining us on our Alsace adventure were:

Nina Caplan
Anne Krebiehl MW
Neil Beckett
Kate Hawkings
Darren Smith

Sommeliers & Trade
Remi Cousin - Le Gavroche, London
Matthieu Ghezouli - Restaurant Martin Wishart, Edinburgh
Alfonso Zapater - Champany Inn, Edinburgh
Diana Thompson - Wine Events Scotland
Eric Zwiebel MS aka Mr Alsace - Summer Lodge Hotel, Dorset
Serdar Balkaya - Royal Automobile Club, London
Frederic Billet - Luton Hoo Hotels, Luton
Gareth Ferreria - Core by Clare Smyth, London
Martin Lam - Consultant
Zsofia Kiss - 67 Pall Mall, London

Carlos Blanco - Blanco & Gomez, London
Archie McDiarmid - Luvian’s Bottle Shop, St Andrews
Sam Johnson - Whalley Wine Shop, Lancashire
Kate Miller - BinTwo, Cornwall
Paola Tich - Park & Bridge, London
Ruby Willis - Theatre of Wine, London

Actually - one of our group, Sam from Whalley Wine Shop, says it all far better than we could…  

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Turkish Delights With Kayra Wines

A posse of five Press and seven Indies were treated by Turkey’s Kayra Wines to a day’s gastronomy tour in Istanbul, followed by a comprehensive tasting in Kayra’s winery in Elazig hosted by the inimitable, irreverent and irresistibly entertaining Californian consultant winemaker Daniel O’Donnell.  This was followed by a visit to Kayra’s picturesque Alpagut vineyard.  The group returned replete, enlightened and with the names of those tricksy indigenous Turkish varietals off pat!

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Napa’s Trefethen Brings 50th Anniversary Tasting To London…

When Napa pioneers Trefethen asked us to organise their 50th anniversary Masterclass tasting in London, we knew there was just one place to go: 67 Pall Mall.

Janet Trefethen and son Lorenzo co-hosted this tasting - which focused on their Napa Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons going back to the 1976 vintage – the year of the now legendary Judgement of Paris which made it entirely appropriate that Steven Spurrier was the invited guest moderator. 

The Press, Sommelier and Independent Merchant attendees were treated to 14 wines including a Riesling 1988, Chardonnay 1976 (which was named ‘Best Chardonnay in the World’ at the Gault Millau World Wine Olympics in France in 1979 and 1980), and Cabernet Sauvignons from the last five decades.

67 Pall Mall’s Head Sommelier Terry Kandylis was on hand to oversee the opening, decanting and - all importantly - pouring of the wines with his team.  As one journalist said in an email to us afterwards, “Super tasting, one of those that will be talked about for ages to come.”

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Top Alsace Producers Take ACTion

Top Alsace Producers Take ACTion

The nineteen Alsace producers who make up ACT -  Alsace Crus & Terroirs - arrived in London on Monday 5th March ready to tempt the Trade and Press with a ‘Terroirs of Alsace’ Tasting. 

A morning Masterclass focusing on the influence of different terroirs across a selection of 2010 vintage Rieslings was followed by a Walkaround Tasting with a twist: attendees could choose to taste geographically by producer, or could follow a colour coding and taste instead by terroir - from granitic to volcanic, limestone to sandstone to marl.

Over 100 guests tasted 50 wines from producers such as Domaines Schlumberger, Trimbach and Albert Mann (no relation of Ali!)

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ewpr Christmas Party 2017

It’s December, so it must be the ewpr Christmas party!

This year, we were up at the crack of dawn for our team outing to the Isle Wight - catching a ferry from Portsmouth, and arriving at Fishbourne in time for lunch.  After a quick glam-up at the perfectly pink Mole Cottage, we travelled across the island to Thompson's where Chef-Owner Robert Thompson cooked up an absolutely delicious tasting menu.  This may possibly have been followed by quick(ish) trip to a nearby pub, where Jess and Poppy thrashed Ali and Emma at Articulate, before returning to Mole Cottage.

Christmas tree decorating was followed by a festive film (Nativity - highly recommended), with a special guest arrival - a semi-tame badger with a penchant for peanuts!  The next morning, decked out in our Christmas jumpers we made our way back to London to get back to some very important wine PR-ing.

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Friends Of Napa Turn Out In Force…

The UK Press and Trade turned out in enthusiastic force on Friday 10th November to show their support for a group of no less than 15 Napa Vintners who flew into town to honour their long-standing commitment to a ‘Friends of Napa Tasting & Lunch’, in spite of the recent Californian wildfires.

The 53 guests tasted over 40 wines from established favourites such as Diamond Creek and Grgich, alongside Napa newbies to the market including Gallica and Rombauer.

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