The term ‘fine wine’ is well established, referring to those wines that are a ‘cut above’ the more everyday type and perhaps also carrying a higher price tag.
Those wines that are extra special and are top quality among those encountered around the globe.
But it is easy to forget that, in terms of historical wine production, ‘fine wine’ is a relatively new concept and has grown up mainly within the past 150 years or so. The Bordeaux classification of top wines, for example, dates from 1855 and classifications in other regions of France are even more recent.
Continuing my theme of ‘The Changing World of Wine’, this concept was illustrated again with a masterclass recently held in London in a club at 67 Pall Mall, which is dedicated to fine wine. The masterclass was hosted by two of the wine-world greats – Steven Spurrier MW, Decanter man-of-the-year in 2017, and Eduardo Chadwick, who has the same accolade for this year, and is CEO of the top Chilean wine producer, Errazuriz. The masterclass was titled ‘Into the Future’ and was designed to showcase two new fine wine regions, which will undoubtedly increase in prominence in the future.
The two regions were the South of England and Aconcagua in Chile, both of which produce top quality wines that are considered among the highest quality in the world. Surprising? Perhaps, since sparkling wine production in England is very, very, recent and Chile is mainly known for its large production of well-made but largely uninspiring ‘everyday’ wines. Yet here were two undisputed experts spreading the word about two wine regions, which they consider to be among the fine wine regions of the future.
Steven Spurrier is well-known in wine circles for having created the ‘Judgement of Paris’ event, way back in 1976, when some Californian wines beat top wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy in a blind tasting. In Steven’s words, wines should stand on their merits and not purely on their reputation, the point being brought home with a jolt back in 1976. During the masterclass, he introduced three different English sparkling wines, which he considers among the best examples of wines from Southern England.
The first of the three was Nyetimber Classic Cuvée non-vintage, made from the classic champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. White flowers on the nose, pastry and baked apple with great balance and length.
Next was Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs 2010, a wine that has been awarded no less than six gold medals in international competitions, made by Dermot Sugrue, considered by many, including Steven, as the best wine-maker in England. Pale yellow colour, with citrus and honey on the nose, together with toasty brioche from long ageing. Truly first class.
The last of the three was Steven’s own Bride Valley Rosé 2014 from his vineyard in Dorset. With a low dosage, the wine was fresh and dry, with good acidity and a character of wild strawberries from the Pinot Noir.
Eduardo Chadwick, largely responsible for changing consumer perception of Chilean wines, then introduced a range of wines the equal to any produced in other fine wine regions of the world. Chilean wines have only been in the international market-place since democracy was restored in 1989, but since that time, Eduardo and his company Errazuriz have striven to show the world that Chile can make exceptional wines. The Las Pizarras Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 2016 are of equivalent quality to Grand Cru wines from Burgundy, and the Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 2014, made from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, has stood up in blind tastings against Premier Grand Cru Classé wines from Bordeaux.
Two amazing wine personalities extolling the virtues of two of the world’s fine wine regions of the future.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
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