Five finalists from across the UK gathered at Le Cordon Bleu’s Cord restaurant yesterday to contest this year’s Gosset Matchmaker’s competition. Contestants were left in no doubt about the scale of the challenge facing them.
‘We started this in 2016 and its just got better and better over the last six years,’ said Will Oatley, MD of Gosset’s importers, Louis Latour Agencies.
Matthieu Longuere MS from Le Cordon Bleu London school, and chairman of the judges, told the assembled teams about the extra challenge facing them, in the form of a Mystery Box, from which they would have to create a second dish to match with the Gosset Grande Millésime 2012. There was a wide range of ingredients to choose from, but all creations had to use Berkswell cheese – a sheep’s milk cheese.
As the teams surveyed the list of ingredients and threw ideas around, chef judge Laetizia Keating said she was ‘looking for the teams to work harmoniously together’.
‘Chefs often have a strong character, but you have to respect that your colleague has their own experience,’ she said. ‘You can match food to wine, or wine to food. There are different approaches.’
But which approach would be successful? Before long, our teams were tasting, preparing and cooking assiduously, always with one eye on the clock. Our judges watched and waited and eventually, once all the dishes had been presented and tasted we had a winner.
Gosset Matchmakers Winner 2022
Fischers, Baslow Hall, Derbyshire
Matthew Davison and Adam Eyre
Hand-dived Orkney scallop with nori salt, baked celeriac, fermented ceps, XO sauce, umeboshi furikake.
A combination of their restaurant’s increasing Japanese/Asian influence, but with a seasonal, earthy, autumnal twist, the Fischers’ team’s signature dish held together well. Julien Cointreau was not the only one to appreciate the fact that he could clearly taste all the flavours – and that it worked very well with their chosen Blanc de Blancs.
‘A lot of thought went into this match,’ said Svet. ‘The use of the celeriac in the stock really works with the blanc de blancs. The whole thing is incredibly good.’
Moreover, they kept the standard high with their mystery box dish: Dover sole with mushroom and bean fricassee, black garlic purée and Berkswell cheese and cream velouté. ‘We knew we could go autumnal and savoury, because we knew the champagne would lift it,’ said sommelier Matthew, who was making his second appearance in the Matchmakers’ final.
‘They really had the right idea on the pairings,’ said Louise. ‘Their thought process was very good.’
‘They nailed it with both courses,’ added Will Oatley. ‘The concentration, the flavours, and the combination with the champagne. And both dishes were cooked to perfection.’
As well as a magnum each of Champagne Gosset Grand Blanc de Blanc Brut, which they took away on the day, Matthew and Adam will (Covid permitting) be heading off to northern France in January for a three day immersive Champagne experience as guests of Champagne Gosset. They will visit the chateau and vineyards, tour the cellar and get a masterclass in blending and tasting with the chef de cave, Odilon de Varine.
‘We are both quite nervous of competitions, so we genuinely weren’t expecting to win,’ said a delighted Matthew. ‘But the industry has been so tough over the last 18 months that to come here and win was extra special. We can’t wait for the trip. I’ve not been to champagne before, to it’s great to have something to look forward to!’
We’ll bring you a review of what is sure to be an amazing trip. And if you’d like to have a chance of winning the prize yourself, contact us, and we’ll make sure to let you know when next year’s entry goes live.
Runners up (in alphabetical order)
67 Pall Mall
Lucy Meza-Ortega and Sammy Benouhoud
Champagne-infused jelly with lime zest and a touch of lavender flower, crème patissiere infused with apricot, robed with honey, apricot and a smoked thyme coulis.
‘We focused on apricot, because that’s a key flavour in the champagne,’ said Lucy. ‘The champagne will refresh your palate but also mirror the flavours.’
Matching a dessert with a blanc de blancs was a brave call – and split the judges. Some found the strong citrus flavours dominated the Blanc de Blancs; others thought it was excellent and nominated it their top match of the day.
‘They didn’t make it too sweet, which was smart,’ said Svet Manolev MS. ‘For me it really worked. They understood the flavour components in the wine and the dish really well.’
The mystery box dish, using quinoa, beets, kohl rabi and Dover sole, cut through with honey and black garlic vinaigrette was less successful – not least because the cheese seemed rather lost, but there was much to admire in Lucy and Samy’s overall effort.
Vic Watkins and Emily-Rose Lucas
A take on a gateau Breton with a brown butter biscuit base, prunes cooked in manzanilla and irish sheeps’ cheese ice cream.
‘We noted a maltiness and a nuttiness in the Grande Reserve Brut,’ said chef Vic Watkins. ‘Also notes of manzanilla, and we wanted to incorporate that.’
Another ambitious attempt, our tasters felt the dish worked in isolation, but was less successful with the wine, where the sweetness made the champagne taste rather austere. However their mystery-box dish – of beans cooked with thyme and bay, charred leeks and cheese made into a cracker was an imaginative statement which drew admiration from the majority of our judges.
‘Of all the teams, this is the mystery box dish where the Berkswell cheese element works best,’ said Laetizia Keating.
Emeline Gigaud and Francesco di Flumeri
Trompe l’oeil of Granny Smith apple poached in oyster and champagne dressing, scallops coral foam with blanc de blancs jelly.
The Sketch duo had clearly put an enormous amount of effort into their presentation, with not one, but two prepared dishes, as well as the mystery-box dish, plus a home-made tisane designed to capture champagne flavours, and pre-printed menu cards outlining the two preconceived dishes.
‘Blanc de blancs is not only for an aperitif,’ said Emeline. ‘We think you can enjoy it at any time of the meal.’
It was an ambitious pitch, and the judges liked the idea of reworking the same ingredients in two different ways to create sweet and savoury dishes. But their prepared dishes ran into problems with the wine matching.
‘I liked the inventiveness, but I found the food overpowered the wine,’ said Louise Gordon.
The mystery-box dish, however – a far simpler bean risotto, made with fish-stock, was very well received. ‘I liked the simplicity – and it was a very good match,’ said Svet. Mathieu Longuere MS agreed, saying it was ‘their best dish’.
Where the Light Gets In
Emily Klomp, Seri Nam
Onion and scallop entrail sauce, emulsified with butter, soy and plum wine, topped with hawthorn oil, pickled samphire, sea purslane and maromi.
Of all the teams today, this Stockport team had the strongest sustainability ethos, with hand-foraging and home-creation very much part of their entry. ‘We hate to throw anything away,’ said Emily.
The intensity of the scallop entrail sauce drew approving nods from our judges, as well as Cordon Bleu’s head chef, David Duverger, who was overseeing the teams in the kitchen. But it created problems for the wine. ‘It just overpowers the Blanc de Blanc,’ said Laetitia. Reworking the sauce into a supporting rather than starring role would have been better, they felt.
Their mystery-box dish – Dover sole with creamy cheese water sauce, black garlic and crispy kale – was well conceived but just missed the mark.
‘You can see what they were trying to do, but they didn’t quite execute on it,’ said Louise.
Feedback From The Judges
If you’re thinking of entering next year (and you should!) then our judges have some advice for you.
‘Teams often just tried to match the flavours in the wine with similar flavours in the food. But it’s about more than that. Food pairing is how textures, temperatures and flavours interact… all of it.’ Svet Manolev MS, 67 Pall Mall
‘Some teams had one great dish but were let down by the other. It’s about consistency across the board.’ Laetizia Keating, Head Chef, The Pem
‘We weren’t necessarily looking for wow factor or theatre. We wanted something where neither the food or wine dominated. There were some dishes we loved on their own, but they changed big-time with the wine. We wanted dishes where you could still taste the wine and the food was highlighted by it.’ Mathieu Longuere MS, Wine Director, Cordon Bleu
‘The teams didn’t always talk enough about their thought process behind the wine matching – and that’s important. This isn’t about showing off. It’s about getting the essentials right and working together.’ Julien Cointreau, Director, Champagne Gosset
‘There were some outstanding dishes, but often they were let down by the mystery dish. Interestingly, simple was usually better.’ Louise Gordon, Head of Wine and Bars, Heckfield Place
Many thanks to Teresa, David and all the team at Cord for the use of their restaurant, and all their help on the day. Congratulations to all the teams who entered – particularly those who trekked down to London for the final. And many thanks to Champagne Gosset for a great idea, encouraging young somms and chefs to get creative, work together – and drink great Champagne!
If you’d like to be notified about next year’s competition, ping us an email
One of the defining elements of The Sommelier Collective is that it is entirely focused on what you – our members – want and need. And our Awards Tastings are no different.
Wines are rated and scored – for those of you who like numbers and ranking systems; and our judges select their own favourite wines from the tasting – for those of you who prefer peer recommendation.
But the third part of our judging process is choosing our List Champions. These are wines that stood out in the tasting either for getting the highest score overall (Best in Class) or having the best score to price ratio (Best Value).
But we also asked our judges to look for wines that were particularly well-suited to fulfilling certain key roles within the restaurant.
So we also gave out awards for the wines deemed Best for Group Dining; Best for Preservation System and Best for By The Glass. In making these assessments, our judges looked not just for quality but also for style, price and value for money. The winning wine had to be good, good for the role, and good for the money.
They are very practical awards that are designed to make it easier for sommeliers across the UK to home in on finding a specific wine style quickly. They’re a bit different, but we hope that you like them and find them useful – certainly our judges enjoyed having to think about the wines in this way.
Anyway, many congratulations to our winners. We hope that you enjoy trying them, listing them and selling them.
Best in Class
Brancaia Chianti Classico 2019
This award goes to the wine with the best overall score. Since there were two other wines that averaged a score of 96, our judges looked at the one that had consistently high scores from all tasters (rather than, say, three very high scores and two lower ones). Price, too, was a factor. The Brancaia was significantly cheaper than either of the other 96-point wines, making it great value.
Our judges loved this, quite simply, for being a brilliantly classic expression of Chianti. Not big and shouty, but bright, elegant and beautifully put together. Any venue looking for a quality Classico expression should have this on their radar. And the margin options are good at this price.
‘Quite pale, which anticipates the suave, finely perfumed cherry nose. Very elegant and harmonious. Acidity is the leitmotif – vibrant, elegant Chianti.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Floral, fruity, not too intense, delicate and elegant.’ Franco Fortunati
‘Classic Chianti colour and nose, with a high acidity and velvety texture. Aromas of tomato paste, dried oregano, dried roses, meat and pepper. Classic Chianti flavours.’ Paola Giraldo
Best Value for Money
Rocca di Montegrossi Chianti Classico 2018
On one level, value for money is easy to calculate – it’s the wine with the most number of points for the lowest price. But our judges also felt that we should be going for a wine with at least 90 points. Something, in other words, that our tasters really wanted to list. And at this level, the Rocca di Montegrossi really stood out. Serious quality for the money.
There was a structured linearity to this wine that really appealed to our tasters – like it was walking a tightrope between ‘fruity’ and ‘edgy’ but always perfectly in balance.
‘Pronounced on the nose, with ripe strawberries, cherries and earthy notes with a hint of vanilla and spices. Rich, but not harsh tannins. Complex, with well-defined flavours.’ Paola Giraldo
‘A dry, ‘vertical’ Chianti. A fine balance of nerves and fibre, length and intensity with purity of flavours.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Black fruit, plums and balsamic notes, this is very clean and balanced. Great to pair with food such as pork and pasta.’ Franco Fortunati
Available from Flint Wines, £13.50
Best for By The Glass
Quercia al Poggio Chianti Classico 2019
The By The Glass criteria are easy to understand: the wine needs to be easy-going enough to drink on its own, but have the chops to work with food if necessary. The nature of Chianti – that it is largely a ‘food’ wine rather than ‘drinking’ wine perhaps explains why our winner here is priced where it is. The cheaper entries, while often pretty good, mostly needed food.
This light to mid-weight Chianti was one of the most drinkable of our tasting – certainly for the price point, all spicy red fruit, flowers and lift.
‘Classic fine Chianti aromas – red plum compote, flowers, a hint of freshly ground black pepper, mocha and slight smokiness.’ Lionel Periner
‘Ripe and juicy on the nose, with red plums and cherries. Very approachable.’ Stefano Barbarino
‘Vanilla, cinnamon and strawberry on the nose; good complexity and a round structure.’ Konstantinos Nestoridis
Currently not imported in the UK. Contact the winery for information. Trade price calculated at £12.46 ex VAT
Best for Group Dining
Villa Cerna Chianti Classico 2016, Cecchi
Group Dining is growing in importance in hospitality (or was, pre-Covid!) so having the right wines is really important. Our tasters wanted a wine that was very typical of its style, but also approachable for everyone and (very important) at the right price – several notches above ‘house’ or ‘entry level’ but not actively expensive.
Like many of the best wines in this tasting, the Villa Cerna managed to balance some classic Chianti savouriness with plenty of fruit ripeness, to leave a wine that was very much of its place, but still accessible.
‘Ripe red fruits. Smoky and toasty – elegant on the palate, with a beautiful stony finish.’ Stefano Barbarino
‘Fresh raspberries with a hint of saltiness. Very fresh and vibrant.’ Paola Giraldo
‘Cassis and pencil lead with hints of balsamic. Seductive tannins.’ Fernando Cubas
Best for Preservation System
Castello di Fonterutoli Gran Selezione 2016
We all know the importance of having a top-notch selection of wines on by the glass pour. It brings something special to your customers, allows for imaginative (and upgraded) tasting menus and can be good news for your cash take. Because these wines are often rare, unusual or expensive, quality and character, rather than price was the key factor here.
Gran Selezione can be a controversial style. Chianti purists don’t always like the oak use, though looking at the scores in our Awards tasting, our judges didn’t have a problem with it. Because the style is polarising, this is a good style to sell in single (expensive) serves, and this offering from Castello di Fonterutoli was reckoned to be the best wine of the tasting for that purpose.
It was different, self-confident and very definitely had its own character. Perfect for your wine preserver.
‘Red and dark berries, cooked blueberries and flowers. A creamy texture, with high tannins. Full-bodied, but the tannins, fruit and acidity are balanced.’ Paola Giraldo
‘Seductive and extrovert. Pretty, forward sweet red fruits. An artwork. I love this take on GS.’ Mattia Mazzi
‘Leather, tobacco and earthy.’ Franco Fortunati
£30.66, Maisons Marques et Domaines
Chianti Classico Awards 2021Full list of award winning wines from The Sommelier Collective Awards.
|96||Brancaia||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Enotria&Coe|
|Quite pale, which anticipates the suave, finely perfumed cherry nose. Very elegant and harmonious. Acidity is the leitmotif - vibrant, elegant Chianti.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Floral, fruity, not too intense, delicate and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Classic Chianti colour and nose, with a high acidity and velvety texture. Aromas of tomato paste, dried oregano, dried roses, meat and pepper. Classic Chianti flavours.' Paola Giraldo.|
|94||Il Palagio di Panzano||Chianti Classico 2016||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Forest floor, cedar wood and plums. A complex nose, but very elegant at the same time. Smooth and well-balanced with a long aftertaste, and very well integrated oak.' Franco Fortunati. 'The most complex, charming and classy of our flight.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Intense and pronounced, with aromas of kirsch, dark cherries, plums and balsamic. Still very young and bright.' Paola Giraldo|
|92||Famiglia Zingarelli||Rocca delle Macie Tenuta Sant'Alfonso Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Ripe but not cooked fruit, herbal - thyme, oregano, tomato leaf; forest floor, coffee, vanilla - high quality oak. Long, evolving finish with ripe tannins.' Klearhos Kannelakis. 'Dark fruit, hints of cacao and dry flower petals. Dry and spicy with a full-bodied structure. It would match with slow-cooked food.' Lionel Periner. 'Black fruit with hints of black pepper and spices - good concentration on the palate.' Fernando Cubas|
|91||Casaloste||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Laytons|
|Nice expressive red fruit - cherries, strawberries and tomato leaf. New French oak, with lavender, juniper and polished tannins.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Pronounced and complex, fruity, spicy and seductive with black cherries and roses. Very defined fruit, acidity and tannins.' 'Plump fruit, warm, gentle and approachable.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Conti Capponi||Villa Calcinaia Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Cava Spiliadis|
|A touch of liquorice syrup, blueberries, cinnamon, cloves and cedar. A great expression of age and balance.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Moreish cherries, elegant and intense, the fruit is well-defined. A very well thought-out wine. It's a step up in concentration, colour and aromatic intensity.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Very fresh and smooth with a long length. It would be lovely to pair this with a beef tartare.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|91||Ruffino||Santedame Estate Chianti Classico 2015||Chianti Classico||Bibendum|
|A lot of earthy notes and pungent spices, such as black pepper and tobacco, but fresh on the palate and very well balanced. Would like to pair this with a loin of lamb.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Open and complex. Cherries and dark berries with lightly toasted bread and hints of pot pourri. Nicely aged Chianti.' Lionel Periner. 'Gentle and well-balanced between acidity, tannin and fruit. Silky.' Fernando Cubas|
|91||Rocca di Montegrossi||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Flint Wines|
|Pronounced on the nose, with ripe strawberries, cherries and earthy notes with a hint of vanilla and spices. Rich, but not harsh tannins. Complex, with well-defined flavours.' Paola Giraldo. 'A dry, 'vertical' Chianti. A fine balance of nerves and fibre, length and intensity with purity of flavours.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Black fruit, plums and balsamic notes, this is very clean and balanced. Great to pair with food such as pork and pasta.' Franco Fortunati|
|90||Riecine||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Alliance Wines|
|A very elegant young Classico. Approachable now, but with concentration and complexity. Pure, modern, top tier.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Great aromatic character of black cherries and black tea with violets and raspberries on the palate. Good complexity.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Ripe on the nose, with crunchiness on the palate. Clean, gentle and lively. Youthful, but with lots of potential.' Stefano Barbarino|
|90||Tenuta di Arceno||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|The nose is open, with dark cherries, dark fruit, plum, light spices and a hint of bitter cacao. Harmonious, dry and elegant with great structure.' Lionel Periner. 'Dark fruit and sweet spices - vanilla, cloves and pine.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Ripe red plum fruit on the palate. Concentrated, with grainy tannins.' Fernando Cubas. '|
|89||Fonterutoli||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||MMD|
|Dry fresh berries, with a hint of spices and fresh oregano with some saline notes. Very Mediterranean.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cranberries, strawberries and cherries with hints of liquorice. Would pair well with a duck breast.' Stefano Barbarino|
|89||Banfi||Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Louis Latour|
|Kirsch, dark cherries and strawberries. In a good way, it's not too complex - good balance, juicy and easy to drink.' Franco Fortunati. 'Violets, wooden box and red fruit. It shows off the region and the grape really well.' Konstantinos Nestoridis|
|89||Mannucci Droandi||Ceppeto Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Flint Wines|
|Beautiful nose of black cherries, lavender and pine herbs. Savoury and sweet red fruit palate with silky tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'Cherries, balsamic and a leather note with violets. Very enjoyable. Would work well by the glass.' Franco Fortunati.|
|89||Lamole di Lamole||Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Alivini|
|Red fruit, floral aromas with bitter chocolate and thyme. Textured tannins and good length.' Fernando Cubas. 'Herbal, with a hint of sweet spice and white chocolate. Crunchy fruit on the palate. Easy drinking.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|89||Quercia al Poggio||Chianti Classico 2019||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Classic fine Chianti aromas - red plum compote, flowers, a hint of freshly ground black pepper, mocha and slight smokiness.' Lionel Periner. 'Ripe and juicy on the nose, with red plums and cherries. Very approachable.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|87||Fattorie Melini||Granaio Chianti Classico 2018||Chianti Classico||Bibendum|
|Black plums, rosemary and rose petals on the nose and spicy red cherries on the palate.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Lovely aromas. Dark cherry fruit, with a hint of gentle spice and dry herbs. Full bodied with dry, full tannins.' Lionel Periner|
|87||Tenuta Carobbio||Chianti Classico 2016||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Dark fruit, plums and balsamic. Good to drink by itself or with pasta dishes. Easy drinking.' Franco Fortunati. 'Red fruits, sour cherries and herbs. Dry, high tannins on the palate.' Paola Giraldo.|
|87||Borratella||Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Seeking UK importer|
|Fine herbal nose and a cherry palate with silky tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'Simple wine, though with great vibrant fruit and nice freshness. Friendly.' Lionel Periner.|
|85||Cecchi||Villa Cerna Primocolle Chianti Classico 2017||Chianti Classico||Vinexus|
|Red plums, berries and some floral character. Open and fruity, but quite light.' Lionel Periner. 'Ripe fruit, but also quite herbaceous. Dry tannins show its youth.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|96||Casaloste||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Laytons|
|Dark berries, red fruit and orange peel, with meaty hints. Dry, but with a velvet texture - the tannins are dry, but well integrated.' Lionel Periner. 'Fruity, but with a herbal, leafy meatiness. Would pair really well with bolognese.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Very complex and seductive, rich and flavourful. Perfect for lamb cutlets and grilled parmigiana.' Paola Giraldo.|
|94||Famiglia Zingarelli||Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Intense, with ripe fruit, herbal tones, a chalky minerality and some earthiness. Long, complex and high quality.' Klearhos Kannelakis. 'Earth, mushrooms, liquorice and a hint of blueberries. Savoury palate, with a hint of pepper and a stony minerality.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Fresh cut herbs, well adapted tannins and good balance.' Fernando Cubas.|
|92||Castellare di Castellina||Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Bibendum|
|Intense cherries, roses and an almost seaweed salad aroma - herbal with a hint of minerality. Complex, and very interesting.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cassis, black pepper and thyme, with hints of blueberry jam. Silky tannins with a balsamic finish.' Fernando Cubas. 'Elegant aromas with smooth texture and velvety tannins.' Lionel Periner.|
|92||Brancaia||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Enotria&Coe|
|Cedar, prunes, nutmeg, wet stones, liquorice and pepper. It's like a tomato-based Roman sauce! Huge potential.' Paola Giraldo. 'Wild strawberries and rosemary, with well-balanced acidity and tannins.' Fernando Cubas. 'A lot of floral violet notes on the nose, with ripe red and blue fruits and sweet oaky spice. Rich, but really drinkable. Great for pork chop with borlotti beans and a red wine sauce!' Stefano Barbarino.|
|92||Frescobaldi||Tenuta Perano Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Hallgarten&Novum Wines|
|Tobacco, leather, baked fruit, wooden floor and sweet spices. Fruity, smooth and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Cranberries, orange, silky oak - elegant and smooth with a hint of kirsch.' Lionel Periner. 'Sweet and sour on the palate - almost like Amarone.' Stefano Barbarino.|
|92||Il Palagio di Panzano||Chianti Classico Riserva 2016||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Very herbaceous with lots of pungent spices. Intense, with a long, spicy finish.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Kirsch, cherry, violets, leather and sweet spicy notes. Well integrated oak, with a long finish. Would work well in a Coravin.' Franco Fortunati. 'Tangible fruit, but multi-dimensional. Warm and firm. Developing nicely.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Carobbio||Chianti Classico Riserva 2015||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Cherries, orange peel and flowers. Full-bodied palate with coffee and toasted bread, but an elegant finish.' Lionel Periner. 'Blueberries, morello cherries and sweet spices, with hints of tea. Vibrant.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Cinnamon, cloves, coffee, black fruit and violets. Would pair well with pasta dishes or mushroom risotto.' Franco Fortunati.|
|90||Borratella||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Seeking UK importer|
|Redcurrant and roses with sour cherries and sweet spices. Quite high acidity.' Paola Giraldo. 'Ripe fruit, soya and ink. Earthy tobacco. Long finish.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Herbs, game and red fruit on the palate with very fine tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|90||Cecchi||Villa Cerna Chianti Classico 2016||Riserva||Vinexus|
|Ripe red fruits. Smoky and toasty - elegant on the palate, with a beautiful stony finish.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Fresh raspberries with a hint of saltiness. Very fresh and vibrant.' Paola Giraldo. 'Cassis and pencil lead with hints of balsamic. Seductive tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|90||Fattorie Melini||Vigneti La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 2015||Riserva||Bibendum|
|Smoky and meaty on the nose. Blackberries and dark plums with a spicy background.' Stefano Barbarino. 'Not pretentious, but well-made and assertive at a great price point.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Dark fruit and cranberries. Finish is elegant, but a bit short.' Lionel Periner.|
|89||Mannucci Droandi||Ceppeto Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Flint Wines|
|Elegant aromas of red fruit and sour cherries. Well defined, with fresh acidity. Would work by the glass.' Paola Giraldo. 'Gentle fruit, textured tannins and fresh herbs.' Fernando Cubas.|
|88||Lamole di Lamole||Chianti Classico Riserva 2017||Riserva||Alivini|
|Orange peel, forests and crunchy red fruit. Dry palate with smooth tannin.' Lionel Periner. 'Well balanced and well integrated.' Fernando Cubas. 'Lean and green.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|88||Tenuta di Arceno||Chianti Classico Riserva 2018||Riserva||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|Mushroom, leather, tobacco, but doesn't develop too well on the palate.' Franco Fortunati. 'Cassis and Indian spices. Grippy tannins.' Fernando Cubas.|
|96||Ruffino||Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 Gran Selezione||Gran Selezione||Bibendum|
|Cassis, strawberry and raspberry jam with pleasant use of oak that's well integrated. Smooth tannins and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Well balanced and complex. Fruit, herbs, earth, cinnamon and smoky oak. Harmonious.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Ripe and fruity, with balsamic and liquorice notes. Saline, savoury and meaty on the palate.' Paola Giraldo.|
|95||Castello di Fonterutoli||Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||MMD|
|Red and dark berries, cooked blueberries and flowers. A creamy texture, with high tannins. Full-bodied, but the tannins, fruit and acidity are balanced.' Paola Giraldo. 'Seductive and extrovert. Pretty, forward sweet red fruits. An artwork. I love this take on GS.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Leather, tobacco and earthy.' Franco Fortunati.|
|92||Rocca di Montegrossi||Vigneto San Marcellino Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2015||Gran Selezione||Flint Wines|
|Ripe, dense, slightly woody and herbal.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Tangy and dry, with quite intense vigour. Tobacco, gravelly flowers and minerality.' Paola Giraldo. 'This wine is true to its place and coherent to its appellation. Extremely well made.' Mattia Mazzi.|
|91||Quercia al Poggio||Vigna le Cataste Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Armit|
|Blueberries and cigar box, with cinnamon, vanilla and firm tannins - would work well in a Coravin.' Konstantinos Nestoridis. 'Baked plums, and black fruit, balsamic notes, cedar wood, cinnamon and cloves.' Franco Fortunati. 'Nice fruit and richness, though the tannins cut in on the finish.' Paola Giraldo.|
|89||Tenuta Di Arceno||Strada al Sasso Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Oenofuture/Jackson Family Wines|
|Cassis, blackberries and herbs on the nose, but delivers less on the palate.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Fruit and roses on the nose with a hint of nutmeg and pepper. High acidity on the palate - this is still young.' Paola Giraldo.|
|88||Rocca delle Macie||Riserva di Fizzano Gran Selezione 2018||Gran Selezione||Seeking UK importer|
|Wild, spiced and polished. Definitely made to impress, with cutting-edge winemaking. Attractive and polished.' Mattia Mazzi. 'Still vigorous on the nose, and it needs to soften. But definitely complex, with ripe cherries, minerality and some earthy notes.' Paola Giraldo.|
|88||Lamole di Lamole||Vigneto di Campolungo Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione 2016||Gran Selezione||Alivini|
|Floral and ripe-fruited, though still quite tannic.' Klearhos Kanellakis. 'Sandalwood and vanilla. Smooth and elegant.' Franco Fortunati. 'Plumper fruit, coarser tannin. Masculine and muscular.' Mattia Mazzi.|
Become a wine judge
If you want to be considered as a judge for our next Awards tasting, please apply here.
We’ll be looking at English sparkling wine and New Zealand Pinot Noir.
Many, many thanks to Fernando and the team at the Intercontinental on Park Lane for hosting the tasting, looking after us so beautifully and supplying us with lots of coffee. Big respect.
Next in the Awards series will be Great British Sparkling Wine and New Zealand Pinot Noir.
You don’t need to grow up surrounded by wine to develop a passion for it. Collective member Adam Michocki tells us about his journey to Michelin star status, the pressure of becoming a head sommelier, and how he hopes to make Polish wine the next big thing
You grew up in Poland – did you drink much wine when you were younger?
I had zero exposure to wine when I was growing up. Literally zero. At that time there was no culture for wine at all [in Poland]. So when I started working in hospitality it was all completely new. Burgundy and Bordeaux were colours rather than wine styles!
So how did you get into wine?
I worked for a year at an independent fine dining restaurant in Lodz and they did wine tastings and training. The first training we had, I was so amazed by the wine. Weirdly it was aromatic varieties that I loved at first – Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurz, Pinot Gris.
Where did your wine journey take you next?
I moved to Alsace, in Colmar. I didn’t know anything about Michelin starred service at that time, but it was full service – everything was served under a cloche. I was there for two months. I was just exploring – nothing serious. But then when I went back to Poland it was to a very good restaurant, Likus. They had 250 wines on the list, all from France, Italy and Spain. For French wines, especially, it was very good.
Is that what really sparked your interest?
I was very curious about the wines, regions and grapes, and I wanted to learn new things. I did WSET level 3, but i wanted to do the Diploma, which meant going to either Austria or London. I hate speaking German, so I decided to come to the UK in 2016.
Where did you start?
At Chez Bruce. I didn’t care what the food style was. I just wanted to work under a head sommelier – Sara Bachiorri – who was happy to share their knowledge and experience. Eleven months later I moved to our sister restaurant, The Glasshouse, to be a head sommelier for the first time.
How did that feel? Was it intimidating?
I always wanted to be a head sommelier, and the Glasshouse was good. I could do what I believed in. I had a free hand, and it had 700 bins. But when it happened I wondered whether I was good enough. I was 27 and it’s a big responsibility. I was very afraid that I wasn’t ready, that I wouldn’t be good enough. So I started studying a lot and doing competitions.
So at that stage was education key for you?
Qualifications are important – they help you to grow. But personality is also very important. You shouldn’t show off in front of the guests. You need to be humble and kind. Some people pass WSET Level 3 and they think they know everything, when they don’t. People need more time to relax into the responsibility and understand that customers don’t come to a venue for the sommelier – they come there to enjoy themselves.
Are you still taking qualifications?
My Advanced has been postponed seven times over the last two years. I went for Advanced in February 2019, but I got sick and lost it on the blind tasting. Theory I had 85% and I passed the practical, but you can’t taste with a blocked nose… There’s nothing you can do. It’s your day and you need to be ready. I always felt like I needed the papers – the pins. But now I’m much more relaxed about it. I have a family, and dogs – so many other things I need to do with my time.
Any tips for studying?
It’s very helpful to taste with someone else. It gives you someone else’s perspective. It’s something I like about judging with other people. But WSET Diploma and CMS are both totally different in their approach to theory and the tasting. You need to connect with people who are doing the same thing.
And where are you now?
Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall. It’s a big operation. A really great hotel and very impressive. When they opened they were named second best newcomer in the world. The restaurant is one Michelin star, and the plan is to get up to two or three-star. We have the inspector coming tomorrow! I’m doing about 55 hours a week. In the Glasshouse I was doing 44 hours. So it’s a big commitment.
Do you have any tips for putting a list together?
Every place is different. The Man Behind the Curtain [one-star Michelin in Leeds] was tasting menus, so it was all about the pairings rather than the wine list – which was very short. Just 30 whites and 30 reds. Here it’s a tasting menu too, but there are 500 bins – top Bordeaux and Burgundy: DRC, Petrus and so on – and people are buying them. But building a small wine list is a lot more difficult. You need to do really smart buying to accommodate different countries and different styles in the price ranges. You’re never going to put five Burgundies on the list if you only have 30 available spaces.
What’s your approach to wine pairings?
I like to put unusual wines and styles which people wouldn’t normally choose like Brachetto d’Acqui, Bugey Cerdon St. Joseph Blanc, Yuzu Sake, fortified Malbec, Czech Pinot Noir. Nothing too funky – but just enough so people can get out of their comfort zone in a very enjoyable way.
Are any wine styles exciting you at the moment?
My palate is constantly evolving. Initially it was aromatic whites, then full-bodied reds. Then I fell into Champagne and oaked Chardonnay. Now I’m really excited by Polish wines. I tasted over 100 during lockdown. I tried a Pinot from the Czech Republic, from Moravia – the same latitude as Burgundy, only the climate is a bit more continental. It was so stunning, when I tasted it I thought it was a Chambolle-Musigny premier cru, at least. But a fraction of the price.
Is it possible to find wines like this in the UK?
Suppliers don’t know about them. But I’m working to import some of these wines. They’re in London City Bond and should be ready any day now. There are a lot of hybrid PiWi varieties, like Solaris and Johanniter. But there’s a move to vitis vinifera – especially Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, plus some Austrian varieties like Zweigelt.
The Sommelier Collective will be running an article by Adam about Polish wines shortly. But if somms want more information on the subject, or to enquire about tastings, they can contact Adam via Instagram on adam.somm or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
We know how important the opinions of your fellow sommeliers are to members of the Collective. So a key part of our Awards Tastings is to ask the judges to pick their own favourite wine from what they’ve tasted on the day.
It needn’t be the highest-scoring or most-expensive wine; it needn’t have won a Special Award. It didn’t even matter if the rest of their team didn’t like it as much as they did.
The point is, it was a wine that really spoke to them, for whatever reason. So if you like what they say about it, perhaps it will speak to you, too.
Il Palagio di Panzano Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 (92 points)
This wine had gorgeous, tangible fruit, with depth of concentration and real multi-dimensionality, as if it was a blend of several different plots. There was warmth and muscle, but also restraint – it was really developing nicely. For me it had a sense of place, but also its own identity. It would work well by the glass in a wine preservation system.
Currently not imported, contact email@example.com for information. Predicted price £28.20
Casaloste Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 (96 points)
This wine has a complex, seductive nose – tomato passata, reduced sauce, bolognese, spices and nutmeg. It’s rich and powerful, but also a very good expression of terroir – complex and elegant at the same time, and I found it good value for money. It would be great with flavourful dishes like pan-fried meat with butter and herbs, parmigiano-based dishes, cured meat and stews.
Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2018 (89 points)
This is quite ripe, with plenty of strawberry and cranberry character, but it’s also herbal with hints of black pepper and slightly spicy on the palate. It’s fresh, clean and gentle, but also elegant – from a cooler vintage so it has nice freshness. The tannins are ripe and soft. It’s just a very enjoyable, easy-drinking wine, and I’d serve it with duck breast and cherry compote.
£13.15, Maisons, Marques et Domaines
Il Palagio di Panzano Chianti Classico 2016 (94 points)
This wine has a complex nose, with notes of wood floor, plums and cedar wood. It’s very smooth and elegant on the palate – well integrated with seamless tannins and balsamic notes. It’s nicely aged. It’s a complex wine but very well balanced and the price/quality ratio is outstanding. It’s a lovely expression of Chianti Classico, and I’d have it with rack of lamb.
Currently not imported, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information. Predicted price £28.20
Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico 2019 (90 points)
This is a ruby-coloured wine, with aromas of fresh and ripe fruit – mostly plums. It has good concentration on the acidity, but also neat structure – fresh acidity and grainy tannins with a finish that’s both savoury and long. I really liked its balance and concentration – particularly for the price point. It’d be great with beef, hard cheese and pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces.
£15.00, Oenofuture/Jacksons Family Wine Estates
Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2018, Famiglia Zingarelli (94 points)
There was ripe fruit here together with herbal notes, chalky minerality and a light earthiness. High quality oak, but also balanced with ripe tannins. It’s very classy – everything you would want from a top Chianti Classico, with a high level of complexity, typicity and elegance. It’s a good wine for wine-pairing; great with beef wellington, for instance.
Currently not imported, contact the winery for information. Predicted price £36.00
Banfi Chianti Classico 2017 (89 points)
This has an attractive ruby colour, with notes that are really reflective of the region. There’s wooden box, followed by a tart of Muscat grapes, then it’s dry on the palate. It’s friendly and relaxed, fresh but full-bodied. It’s great value for what it is. I’d have it with duck a l’orange with smoked beetroot.
£13.08, Louis Latour
If you’d like to be considered as a judge for our next Awards tasting – UK sparkling wine and New Zealand Pinot Noir – please register here.
Food and wine matching is the heart of the sommelier’s job; a combination of passion and flair, but also knowledge and experience. This is why the Gosset Matchmakers competition has established itself so quickly in the heart of the profession – because it taps straight into what makes the job both interesting and challenging.
To remind you how it works: a chef/sommelier team select an expression from the Gosset range of champagnes, and work together to create a dish that they think matches it perfectly.
It’s a chance for young chefs and sommeliers – entrants must have less than five years’ experience – to show what they can do. To ally teamwork and vision with creativity and delivering under pressure.
Sifting through the entries was a particular treat this year, since we’d asked the candidates to create short Instagram videos showing what they had done and why. We felt as though we’d got to know the entrants even before we’d tasted their amazing creations!
There was so much skill and talent on show that creating a shortlist was a tough task indeed.
But here are the entrants to make our first ‘cut’, with the finalists due to be announced next week.
Having seen so many wonderful looking food-pairings on screen, we can’t wait to taste them in real life – and we hope you enjoy watching their videos as much as we did!
Gosset Matchmakers Shortlist 2021
(entrants listed in alphabetical order)
67 Pall Mall, London
Lucy Meza-Ortega and Sammy Benouhoud
Chosen Wine: Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut
The team at 67 Pall Mall elected to match the Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs with a dessert containing many of the champagne’s key flavours of citrus and stone-fruit.
‘When we first tasted this champagne we were delighted by its elegance and refinement,’ said sommelier Lucy. ‘We wanted to mirror this through a simple yet effective dish, where balance is key.’
At the base of the dish was a champagne-infused jelly with lime zest and a touch of lavender flower, on top of that a crème patissiere infused with fresh apricot, apricot tartare, robed with honey, apricot and smoked thyme coulis. Finally there was a sprinkling of crumble, also infused with lime zest and smoked thyme.
‘We put together all this to bring out the beautiful flavours of the champagne without hiding them,’ explained Lucy. ‘They really come together to create something that elevates both the dish and the champagne without hiding each other’s components.’
City Social, London
Ljudmila Bobik and Adam Cowie
Chosen Wine: Gosset Grande Reserve Brut
The starting point for this team’s pairing was a simple one: ‘It was inspired by the idea of ‘it goes where it grows’,’ said sommelier Ljudmila. Champagne, as she pointed out, is famous for its rabbit dishes, so that’s what they majored on.
In this case, the rabbit was wrapped in parma ham with new Jersey potatoes, morels, broad beans and peas, finished with a truffle black mushroom puree with pea shoots. An accompanying sauce was made from rabbit bone stock.
‘The rabbit is cooked sous vide so it’s very delicate, and the champagne pairs with it very nicely and brings some more savouriness,’ explained Ljudmila. ‘Also it cuts the richness and toastiness of the parma ham while cleaning the palate. The elegance, freshness and complexity of the champagne is a perfect match.’
The Creameries, Manchester
Emily-Rose Lucas and Vic Watkins
Chosen wine: Gosset Grande Reserve Brut
Both Emily-Rose and her chef, Vic, were of one mind with their choice of matching the Gosset Grande Reserve with a dessert.
‘The sweetness that comes through on it, followed by that very beautiful nutty profile… We found it incredibly appealing to work with,’ said Emily-Rose.
‘As soon as we tried it, we thought it would pair really well with a quite salty or savoury dessert,’ added Vic.
The result was a take on a Gateau Breton: a brown butter biscuit base, on top of which are prunes gently cooked in manzanilla sherry, ice cream made out of a ‘tangy and creamy’ Irish sheep’s cheese with malt loaf biscotti and roasted almonds to give it some rich malty flavour.
Fischer’s Baslow Hall, Chesterfield
Matthew Davison and Adam Eyre
Chosen wine: Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut
The entry from the Peak District designed an ambitious scallop dish that they were hoping would ‘encapsulate the five tastes that you would experience on your palate.’
Looking towards the autumn season, they started with a hand dived-Orkney scallop with nori salt, baked celeriac, fermented ceps from ‘last season’s forage’, XO sauce, umeboshi furikake with more sliced nori on top and a reduced celeriac stock.
‘We are looking more towards autumn with this dish,’ explained sommelier Matthew. ‘But we feel that the fact that Gosset don’t do any malolactic fermentation means the true expression of champagne will shine through and allow it to cut through the natural sweetness of the scallop. It offers toasted and nutty subtleties to complement our dish and create balance.’
The Game Bird at The Stafford, London
Davide Santeramo and Marco d’Andrea
Chosen wine: Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut
Chef Marco created a vibrant green asparagus risotto with a carpaccio of Sicilian red prawns on top of it with crispy onion garnish and artfully positioned blobs of yuzu cream that captured the very essence of early summer.
And it was this joyous, breezy element that formed the basis for the wine matching.
‘I chose the Gosset Blanc de Blancs to go with this because of the elegance and finesse of the wine,’ said sommelier Davide. ‘It should match perfectly with the flavours in the dish. The risotto is made in a light, summery style so the acidity of the champagne will cut through the creaminess and fattiness without being overwhelmed.
‘I also think the citrus notes of the champagne will work well with the red prawn carpaccio placed on top.’
Sketch: Lecture Room & Library, London
Emeline Gigaud and Francesco Di Flumeri
Chosen wine: Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut
Emeline and Francesco created a video that was something of a work of art, featuring the grand arrival of the bottle and ingredients into the venue, and a beautifully-shot preparation and serving of not one, but two dishes – a starter and a dessert – based on the same key ingredients.
‘We started with the concept that champagne and blanc de blancs is always suggested at the beginning of the meal, but never enjoyed with the dessert,’ said Emeline. The idea was to tap into Gosset’s sustainability message by using the same ingredients throughout.
The main course was a ‘trompe l’oeil’ of Granny Smith apple poached in oyster and champagne dressing, scallops coral foam with Gosset blanc de blancs jelly, Granny Smith and samphire salad with apple vinaigrette and breadcrumbs. ‘The dish extends the continuity of the champagne,’ explained Emeline. ‘It’s all about the balance between the delicacy of the creaminess and the twist of the freshness.’
The dessert – Lemon Amalfi confit with vanilla – used the same components but ‘worked in a different way’. ‘This is a contrast pairing,’ said Emeline. ‘Proof that minerality and sweetness are not opposed, but can be complementary.’
Where The Light Gets In, Stockport
Emily Klomp and Seri Nam
Chosen wine: Gosset Grand Blanc de Blancs Brut
‘Champagne is usually associated with quite luxurious ingredients,’ said sommelier Emily. ‘So I think what we’ve decided to pair with it is very interesting.’
Certainly, the innovation is to be applauded. This does not look like a dish that would be served in too many restaurants in and around Reims.
‘The delicate flowers on the nose and saline finish took us straight to the beach,’ explained Emily. ‘For the oldest champagne house we created something luxurious but patient and considered at the same time.’
The main ingredient is onion and scallop entrail sauce. ‘We cooked the onion wrapped in kombu and steamed after leaving it to marinate overnight,’ said chef Seri.
The sauce was emulsified with butter, soy and plum wine, before over the top they added a little hawthorn oil, pickled samphire (foraged locally), sea purslane powder, and a touch of maromi ‘a by-product of our bread soy-making process’.
‘The sea herbs bring forward the chalky minerality, and a little plum wine in the sauce heightens those mirabelle plum notes on the nose,’ explained Emily. ‘Seri’s idea to marinate the onions gently in kombu brings out a really delicious savoury, umami note in the wine.’
The Rheingau is close to my heart. Frankfurt is where I was allowed to manage my very first wine list as a sommelier, and from there I was able to visit the prestige vineyards and producers based around the famous villages along the Rhine River.
Once you cross the Schiersteiner Brücke from the south and turn left, a route packed with history and tradition opens up in front of you.
From Eltville in the east to Rüdesheim in the west, this is one of the most famous 20km stretches in the German wine world: the home to such A-list vineyards as Schlossberg, Nussbrunnen, Gräfenberg, Berg Schlossberg and Höllenberg.
The reason for this is simple. Most of the time, the Rhein flows from south to north. But here it briefly turns through 90 degrees to run east to west. This means that the Rheingau’s vineyards have a full southern exposure and are protected by the hills of the Taunus mountain range to the north.
The Rhine River has a warming effect during the night but also maintains a constant temperature during the ripening phase.
Don’t forget, we are at 50 degrees north here. This is still a cool wine region and grapes sometimes struggle to ripen fully.
All About Riesling
The Rheingau is Riesling. Fact. There is some Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, and good Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) on the west-facing, slate soils of Assmanshausen when the river makes a turn back to the north.
But 80% of the Rheingau is planted to the White Queen.
Though some of the country’s best Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenausles come from here, the wines generally tend towards the dry style.
Soils change constantly, from slate in Assmannshausen, to quartzite in Rüdesheim, and löss/clay soil in the centre of the region and on the top of the hills. The slopes are steep and can quickly climb to almost 350m above the river.
Located above the village of Kiedrich the Gräfenberg is owned almost exclusively by Weingut Robert Weil, which has 9.7ha of its 10.5ha. Only two other producers take grapes from here.
It is famous for wine of higher, sweeter qualities such as Beerenauslese, Trockenberenauslese and Eiswein. But what people don’t know is that it also produces some of the best dry Rieslings, from fresh crisp Gutswein, through the delicious Kiedricher up to Grand Cru (Großes Gewächs – usually known as GG) quality.
For GG, low yield, 40hl/ha is a standard, the use of large Stück (1200l) or Doppelstück (2400l), mostly old casks, is a given.
As the vines became older, the Riesling in some smaller parcels of the Grafenberg vineyard stood out, for giving wines with more complexity, flavour intensity and the character.
Home of Monte Vacano
One such ‘special’ parcel was the Gräfenberg-Lay in the north-west, very close to the Turmberg. The soil here is predominantly slate, called Phylliteschiefer, which is spread throughout the Gräfenberg but has a higher content in this parcel. The vines on this 0.5ha parcel are now 40-60 years old.
And this is the home of a special new launch from the Robert Weil winery: Monte Vacano.
Named after the founder’s wife (she was a descendant of the Vacano family in Lombardy) 100 years ago, it used to be made just for the family. After the 1922 vintage it was incorporated into the regular GG Gräfenberg.
But Wilhelm Weil decided to revisit his family’s traditions and bottle the 2018.
Wild-fermented, and matured for 24 months on its lees in large traditional Stück, the Monte Vacano comes 100% from the Lay parcel of the Gräfenberg. Production is tiny – there are only 1200 bottles (plus a few magnums and one double-magnum) – and prices are around the €130 mark.
On the 6th of March at the VDP Rheingau Reserve Auction, one 12l bottle 2018 was under the hammer for an incredible €18,000. The Magnum got auctioned off at 520€.
This new arrival is not cheap. But it is a genuinely exciting arrival on Germany’s fine wine scene – innovative and experimental. And I really hope that this will inspire other Rheingau producers to follow Wilhelm Weil and his team – to respect the region’s traditions while still trying to do something different.
If you’re anything like us, there’s probably nothing you enjoy more than having a good nose around someone else’s cellar. In the latest in our ongoing series, Collective member Sara Rossi shares five of the favourites from her wine rack at one Michelin-starred Trinity restaurant in Clapham.
Chardonnay ‘Ried Sausaler Schlössl’ 2015, Wohlmuth, Burgenland, Austria
1 This is an incredible Chardonnay from Austria. It is one of my favourites, because I love the complexity of the wines with ripe yellow apples, subtle smoky and toast aromas and long finish. I have been doing this as a wine match at Trinity with Dover Sole and it works beautifully. It is also a good alternative for Burgundy lovers.
Fleurie ‘Chapelle des Bois’ 2010, Jules Desjourneys, Beaujolais, France
2 This is an excellent example of grand cru Beaujolais. It has great intensity and concentration, with crisp and refreshening red fruits aromas of strawberries and cherries. I love this wine because it has outstanding character and structure.
It needs to be drunk with food, because it has great intensity. I usually recommend grilled meat or mature cheese.
Ribolla Gialla ‘Vare Vineyard’ 2017, Arnot-Roberts, Napa Valley, California, USA
3 I love the project of Arnot-Roberts and this Ribolla Gialla comes from cuttings from Josko Gravner’s heralded vineyard in Friuli. The vineyard is farmed by Steve Mathiasson, another talented producer.
The wine shows flavours of pear and almond with a creamy texture and a long mineral finish. The project started in 2001, both of the producers have a viticulture and winemaking background. Their aim is to produce top California wines with great intensity of fruits and high levels of acidity. This gives freshness to the wines and good potential for ageing.
Their quantity is always low and they are usually on allocation.
Mâcon-Pierreclos ‘Tri de Chavigne’ 2014, Domaine Guffens-Heynen, Burgundy, France
4 One of my favourite white Burgundies off the Trinity list. Chef Adam and I are big fans of Domaine Guffens-Heynen. The wine has great complexity – smooth and slighty toasted – but also with a refreshing finish.
It is a wine for every occasion. I usually pair it with baked lemon sole, truffle cacio pepe and roasted chicken cooked in white Burgundy sauce.
(Wine also available en primeur via Millésima – pic courtesy of Millésima)
Brunello di Montalcino ‘Flauto Magico’ 2012, Paradiso di Frassina, Tuscany, Italy
5 I have always loved Brunello di Montalcino and in particular this producer. Strangely enough, I came across the winemaker, Carlo Cignozzi, by reading his book first “L’uomo che sussurrava alle vigne” (the man who was whispering to the vines)then tasting his wines.
The story behind this project is really fascinating, because the winemaker started a new approach in viticulture and the winery, where classical music plays an important part. The wine has an elegant and complex texture with fresh blackberries and dark cherries. There are also aromas of forest floor, with clove and black olives. Silky tannins, which are well balanced with the aromas and body.
It is definitely ready to drink now, but it has good potential for ageing for two decades.