The AWE Blog

The AWE blog is a collection of posts from AWE members.
  1. Paul Howard MBA

    Book Review: Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés 1855

    By Paul Howard MBA
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    The Bordeaux Grands Crus Classés 1855 gave official recognition to the best wines of the Médoc and Sauternes. 163 years later, it’s still a compelling listing, though hardly without flaws. This handsome new book about this classification claims to be the essential reference for wine aficionados. Does it live up to this billing? Background First, a little scene-setting. 1855 was the year the Daily Telegraph began and when the drug Cocaine was first purified. David Livingstone became the first European to see the Victoria Falls in Africa. Meanwhile, his Queen had already reigned over Britain for 18 of her 63 years. In 1855, Emperor Napoleon III ruled France after seizing power in a coup d’état four years earlier. Allied with Britain, both were fighting against the Russians in the Crimea. The phylloxera blight was still in the future, as it would not reach Bordeaux until 1869. From 1875, the vineyards would lay in ruin. The Exposition Universelle de Paris Meanwhile, 1855 was also the year of the Exposition Universelle de Paris. This industrial fair attempted to surpass Britain’s Great Exhibition of  1851 held at the Crystal Palace in London. Some say Napoleon III demanded a new classification of the best red and white Bordeaux wines for the exhibition. Napoleon...
  2. Steve Hovington

    German Wine Academy Day 2 – Riesling rocks and new discoveries

    By Steve Hovington
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    Surrounded by immaculately tended vineyards and with the brooding Haardt mountains looking down from the west, the Weincampus Neustadt made a wonderful location for two days of seminars and tastings courtesy of the German Wine Institute. Day one started with a fascinating and thought provoking lecture by Professor. Dr.Ulrich Fischer on the impact of terroir and winemaking on German Riesling styles. We tasted seven wines from different regions and soils, all in the €10-15 bracket, from the excellent 2015 vintage and with no MLF or oak influence. Were there noticeable differences in style? You bet there were! We noted how slate tended to produce grassier notes whilst sandstone harsher, green apple acidity and shell limestone a softer acid profile. The highlight for me was a Spätlese Trocken from Baden, a region not well known for Riesling, which had a wonderful streamlined, sleek mouthfeel despite a hefty 14% alcohol. The long, lasting acidity was all down to the granite soil. Enlightening stuff and proof indeed that Riesling rocks! Next up it was Hammer time. Jürgen that is. Ace sommelier, wine educator and possessor of a ‘Riesling rules’ tattoo on his forearm. Jürgen looked like he might be just as at home...
  3. Vivienne Franks

    German Wine Academy Day 3 – Sexy Sekt and Silky Silvaner

    By Vivienne Franks
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    German Wine Academy Day 2 – Sexy Sekt and Silky Silvaner Premium Sekt – The next big thing? Another early start at the German Wine Academy, what better way to refresh the palate than with a fascinating lecture by Romana Echensperger MW and a truly interesting tasting of a dozen ‘Traditional Method’ Sekts? Half of Germany’s Premium Sekt is made from Riesling, 30% from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and 20% from other aromatic varietals. Like the ‘Champagne’ grapes, Riesling has a good balance of ripeness and acidity with a low pH. Winemakers have to ensure that the pressing of grapes is delicate to avoid petrol aromas. Terroir differences can be ascertained in the finished product. We tasted wines from the Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen,Wurttemberg, Franken and Nahe, awesome differences! There are many challenges for the future of this wine style, not least in marketing this Premium Sekt. The retail price sits somewhere between Champagne and Prosecco. Consumers need to be guided to appreciate the availability of different styles and winemaking methods. Tank method Sekt is around 85% of production, Traditional Method, with grapes sourced from specified regions and 9 months lees ageing makes up the rest. The...
  4. Dr. Helen Savage

    Chenonceaux 2017 Revisited

    By Dr. Helen Savage
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    Chenonceaux 2017 – Revisited   2017 will be remembered in too many parts of France for the severe late April frosts that slashed yields and dashed hopes of a successful season. The western Loire escaped relatively lightly, Touraine was more cruelly exposed to the wide plume of icy Scandinavian air and did not. In Chenonceaux wine growers estimated that up to half of their crop would be lost. It was a pleasure, therefore, to return to the region at the end of harvest and be met with relieved smiles. Crop levels are down, but quality is reassuringly promising.   Picking began earlier than in 2016. The red wine varieties, Côt and then Cabernet Franc kicked off from 6 September, with potential alcohol levels typically 12.5 to 13%, but up to 14% in some plots, together with decent phenolic ripeness. The Sauvignon Blanc followed a week or so later, again with some plots again recording a potential 14% alcohol. At this very early stage the reds look good, but the whites seem to be very good indeed.   I was privileged to be able to re-taste some of the wines we’d sampled during the AWE visit in July as well as...