Decanter The world’s most prestigious wine website, including news, reviews, learning, food and travel Thu, 07 Dec 2023 07:51:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Decanter 32 32 Covenant: California kosher fine wine producer profile and 10 wines tasted Thu, 07 Dec 2023 07:17:51 +0000 Covenant wines
Covenant owner and winemaker Jeff Morgan

Kosher fine wines from California's Covenant...

The post Covenant: California kosher fine wine producer profile and 10 wines tasted appeared first on Decanter.

Covenant wines
Covenant owner and winemaker Jeff Morgan

Covenant founding winemaker Jeff Morgan, 70, is both driven and eccentric. He favours the underdog. Take rosé, for instance. Morgan played an outsized role in jump-starting the rosé renaissance in America more than 20 years ago – long before it was fashionable.

Not only did Morgan co-found SoloRosa, the first American winery dedicated solely to dry rosé, but in 2005, he penned the first English language book on the subject as well (Rosé, A Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Wine, Chronicle Books).

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for ten Covenant wines tasted

In 2003, high-end kosher wine seemed like a long shot. But Covenant was among the first wineries to demonstrate that fine wine made with native yeast and organic grapes and without fining or filtration can also be kosher. It was a novel concept at the time.

Ten Covenant wines tasted

Related articles

American Zinfandel on Zinfandel Day

Sonoma County AVAs: Overview and 10 wines to try

Signorello Estate: Meeting winemaker Priyanka French plus four current releases tasted

The post Covenant: California kosher fine wine producer profile and 10 wines tasted appeared first on Decanter.

Christmas sorted: Your perfect gift guide Thu, 07 Dec 2023 07:00:06 +0000
The Wiston Hamper for Two

A cornucopia of wine gifts for all and sundry...

The post Christmas sorted: Your perfect gift guide appeared first on Decanter.

The Wiston Hamper for Two

Decanter’s selection of 24 wine-themed gift ideas

Exton Park 60 Above and 60 Below prestige pack

Exton Park 60 Above and 60 Below Prestige Pack

Exton Park 60 Above and 60 Below Prestige Pack
£225 Exton Park

A fascinating comparison, this limited-edition pack (only 150 produced) features two bottles of the Hampshire winery’s Blanc de Blancs 2014. Both have spent six years ageing on lees, one (‘Above’) in the cellar for six years, the other (‘Below’) under the sea off the coast of Brittany for one of its years. Read Decanter’s exclusive tasting report.

Taylor’s Chip Dry & Tonic in a can
Amazon UK

An ideal stocking filler, this classic combination of white Port and tonic comes in a handy single serving. Pour over ice, add a slice of lemon or orange and a sprig of mint, or simply serve chilled from the can.

Peugeot Frizz wine-cooling sleeve
£24.99 Peugeot Saveurs

Available also in red, this clever sleeve is made with expandable elastic so will fit snugly around any 75cl bottle, still or sparkling. Chill bottles from room temperature in 20 minutes and keep them chilled for two hours.

The Wine Society's Adventurer's Case wine selection

The Wine Society’s Adventurer’s Case

The Wine Society Adventurer’s Case
£62 The Wine Society

Perfect for the curious wine collector, and one of a range of gift cases, this selection (code XC2323A) of six offbeat bottles includes wines from Greece, Turkey and Moldova as well as lesser-known styles from Italy.

World Cocktail Atlas
Amazon UK

Decanter contributor and TV’s Saturday Kitchen wine presenter Olly Smith brings his infectious enthusiasm to this whirlwind tour of the world’s best cocktail recipes.

Le Nez du Vin 54 Aromas set

Le Nez du Vin 54 Aromas set

Le Nez du Vin 54 Aromas set
£269 Wineware

These kits (available in various sizes) are a godsend for anyone wanting to improve their blind-tasting skills, helping develop the sense of smell and ability to recognise and describe the common aromas of different wines.

Wine Escape Room game
£25 Menkind

Lock up a bottle of your favourite wine, then move through four imaginary rooms solving a clue in each to discover a four-digit code that unlocks the padlock. Buy a bottle of wine and lock it inside for a great gift.

Decanter gifts

Tickets to the highly anticipated February 2024 Decanter Italy Experience tasting event at the Landmark Hotel, London NW1? Or for those further afield, a subscription to the magazine or Decanter Premium website is the gift that keeps on giving.

Riedel Black Tie decanter
£600 Riedel

A design statement, guaranteed to impress on the dinner table. Free-blown and formed without the aid of a mould, so each looped design is unique. The decanter features a black stripe created by introducing a rod of black crystal into the molten glass before it is formed.

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book 2024
Amazon UK

Decanter columnist Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, billed as the ‘world’s best-selling annual wine guide’, is in its 47th year of publication (edited by Margaret Rand).
Facts and commentary on the wines, growers and wine regions, with advice on vintages to buy, drink and cellar. The perfect stocking filler.

WSET gift vouchers

Available in denominations from £5 to £200, these gift vouchers can be redeemed against any qualification course or evening tasting on offer at the Wine & Spirit Education
Trust’s London School, or against WSET study materials or textbooks. Must be redeemed by post or in person.

Kurt Zalto Josephine collection glasses

Kurt Zalto Josephine collection

Kurt Zalto Josephine collection

These handcrafted glasses (£70 each) feel as delicate and light as air, but are gloriously hardwearing. There are four wine glasses in the range, which was launched in the UK earlier this year: white, universal, red and Champagne.

Sustainable wine cooler
€3,349 PeVino

It cost the Danish company PeVino 3 million Danish kroner to develop the Imperial Eco wine cooler, which consumes less than half the power of the average model due to its
construction from materials including skyscraper glass (and low noise, too, at only 35dB). Holds 96 bottles.

Vineyard tour at Chapel Down

Chapel Down

Chapel Down tour and experiences
£750 for two Chapel Down 

Kent big-name winery Chapel Down has an impressive range of tours and tastings, including the ultimate treat, the Sissinghurst Castle Experience. Enjoy a private tour of the vineyards and winery, and three-course lunch in the winery restaurant. The package includes a two-night stay at the five-star Sissinghurst Castle B&B with access to the world-renowned Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, part of the National Trust estate.

12 Nights of Wine Collections

Sample a new wine every evening with the 12 Nights of Wine Cozy Collection (fireside reds) or Chill Collection (a mix of whites, rosé and chillable reds) – US$129 each or both for $199. Each elegantly presented case includes 12 wines (10cl each), wine guide with tasting notes and pairing suggestions, sommelier-led virtual tasting videos for each wine, and a 12 Nights of Wine art print.

Kloveo Champagne stopper

Kloveo Champagne stopper

Kloveo Champagne stopper
Amazon UK

Used in top Champagne bars around the world, this stopper has a patented design with a self-tightening seal and easy-release clip. Keeps that bottle of fizz fizzy for a few days at least.

Wine puzzles
Ginger Fox 

Puzzle Cru’s hand-drawn maps in jigsaw form come with an accompanying poster. Choose from Wines of France, Italy or Spain & Portugal (£17.99, 1,000 pieces each) or Whiskies of Scotland (£12.99, 500 pieces).

The Wiston Hamper for Two
£120 Wiston Estate

Perfect for a couple, this wicker hamper from award-winning Sussex winery Wiston Estate includes a bottle of its single-vineyard Cuvée 2016; a 50cl screwtop tin of Wiston Gin (Alc 40%) made with leftover grapes from the winemaking process; a voucher for two to enjoy a tour and tasting at the estate itself, a pair of sparkling wine glasses and a sparkling wine stopper.

Pour Me A Box cheese selection
$94.99 Beehive Cheese

This gift box from Utah company Beehive Cheese features three cheeses inspired by popular alcoholic tipples: Kentucky bourbon, spiced rum and Cabernet. Also includes a cheese knife and salami.

Üllo Wine Purifier
£69.99 Üllo

Ideal for those who are sensitive to sulphites in wine, the Üllo Wine Purifier is ingeniously designed to combine an adjustable wine aerator with a sulphites filter. Also includes a travel bag, display base and four single-bottle filters.

Ibérica Sherry discovery experience 

Ibérica Sherry discovery experience

Ibérica Sherry discovery experience 
£45 Ibérica 

Expand your knowledge of Sherry culture at Iberica’s London restaurants with a private tutored tasting of five different styles, each paired with savoury nibbles (the PX and blue cheese is a match made in heaven). The experience finishes with a choice of Sherry cocktail, and you’ll get printed and digital tasting notes to take home. Stay on for authentic tapas and make an evening of it.

Authentic Glühwein
£10.99 The WineBarn

A world away from the mulled wine you encounter at most UK commercial Christmas markets, the Glühwein from top German specialist The WineBarn is 100% organic Dornfelder, blended with spices, orange peel and a little sugar.

Coravin Limited Edition Timeless Three+
£259.99 Coravin 

It has revolutionised wine drinking, allowing you to preserve opened bottles of fine wine in tip-top condition. This smart limited-edition release includes two argon capsules, two screwcaps and an aerator.

Manchester Wine Tours
£75 Manchester Wine Tours 

Aimed at both Manchester locals and tourists, this three-hour tour of the city’s best wine bars, shops and restaurants for wine is guided by local food and drink writer and wine tutor Kelly Bishop, aka @keliseating. Includes six small glasses of wine and a series of wine-matched snacks at four or five different places.

Related articles

Give the gift of wine experiences this holiday season

Christmas 2023: Wine & Spirits Advent calendars

How to buy wine at a specialist retailer

The post Christmas sorted: Your perfect gift guide appeared first on Decanter.

Red wine for Christmas under £15 Thu, 07 Dec 2023 06:00:40 +0000

You don't need to break the bank this Christmas...

The post Red wine for Christmas under £15 appeared first on Decanter.


With Christmas just around the corner, and delivery delays looming large, it’s time to think seriously about replenishing your cellar with all the wine you’ll need in the festive weeks to come.

The festive season might be the time to splurge and treat yourself to a more expensive bottle. But with so many, and such different, moments of celebration, you’ll want to have some safe good-value options to choose from as well. Save where you can so you can spend more on gifts and other treats!

With that in mind, we’ve selected 20 wines, all under £15 a bottle, that deliver all the festive satisfaction without breaking the bank. They might even become your new everyday drinking favourites and/or cellar staples in the New Year.

The selection below covers a wide selection of regions and styles, which will pair perfectly with the different festive meals, whether it’s turkey, duck, beef, vegetarian banquet or boxing day leftovers. Another advantage of going for multiple, good-value pours rather than a single flagship bottle is that you’ll be able to cater to a wider range of tastes and requirements.

Decanter Premium is the perfect last-minute gift for wine lovers!

Important things to know when picking a red wine for Christmas:

  • Beware of tannins – Festive food tends to be quite intense, with multiple flavours, spices, and textures, as well with a significant amount of fat. Tannins bind with these compounds and if a wine is too tannic this will not be a pleasant feeling. So go for wines with medium, riper tannins instead. Or for wines that have lots of tannins but have mellowed through extended ageing. Keep the punchy reds for strong yet lean textures such as roast beef or braised tuna.
  • If you’re looking for a wine for homemade mulled wine, choose a medium-bodied style that has fruit but also herbal flavours. These will make for a more enjoyable and complex drink. Think Merlot or Cabernet Franc, rather than Garnacha.
  • Get the serving temperature of your red right – One of the most common mistakes when serving reds is to pour them too warm. This means actually need to be properly chilled down. Light to medium bodied reds should be at 12-16°C (54-61°F), while fuller bodied reds should be served at 15-18°C (59-65°F).
  • Price doesn’t always matter – while it can be an indication of quality, it is sometimes (often!) also driven by availability, brand placement and market pressures. You can trust some of the wines below to deliver the same quality and satisfaction than other bottles found on shelves at £20+
  • Trust your supplier – the best way to know whether you’re truly getting bang for your buck, as opposed to a low quality bargain, is to buy from trusted suppliers whose selections are careful and thoughtful, across price points. Our selection was also made with this in mind.

Red wine for Christmas under £15:

Related articles

Decanter Wine Club holiday gifting

Give a Decanter Premium subscription this Christmas

Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide

The post Red wine for Christmas under £15 appeared first on Decanter.

Wine with pork: Advice on great pairings Thu, 07 Dec 2023 06:00:24 +0000 wine with pork, roasted pork belly

From BBQ pulled pork to roasted belly or bangers and mash...

The post Wine with pork: Advice on great pairings appeared first on Decanter.

wine with pork, roasted pork belly

Seven wine styles to drink with pork:

White wine

  • German Riesling
  • Condrieu  (Viognier)
  • Chenin Blanc

Red wine

  • Pinot Noir
  • Grenache / Garnacha (red or rosé)
  • Aged Barolo (Nebbiolo)
  • Sicilian Nerello Mascalese

Search our expert wine reviews to find your perfect match

Red or white wine with pork?

‘Rich whites and juicy reds tend to work well’, said Decanter Rhône correspondent Matt Walls. But, there are no hard and fast rules for pairing wine with pork.

Nutritional studies class pork as a red meat, despite its relatively light appearance and a renowned advertising campaign by the US National Pork Board entitled ‘the other white meat’.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoine, dining room manager and director of wines at The Goring in London, said it’s important to consider:

  • the cut of the pork;
  • the way it’s cooked;
  • the sauce you are serving it with.

Wine with pork belly and suckling pig

For tender, melt-in-the-mouth suckling pig, Lemoine advised drinking lighter styles of red. These include Spanish Mencia, Nerello Mascalese from Sicily, Pinot Noir from cooler regions or Chilean Carménère.

Riesling with a touch of sweetness can work well for white wine drinkers, he said.

This is also a good option for pork belly and was listed as one of the top 25 food and wine pairings by Fiona Beckett in a previous article for

‘Roast pork belly works best with a wine that has a high level of acidity plus a touch of sweetness,’ Beckett wrote.

‘Cue dry German Riesling, especially if apple is served alongside. It provides welcome freshness, cuts through the fat and doesn’t detract from the crispness of the crackling.’

She also suggested a young red Burgundy, returning to the Pinot Noir theme above.

Red wine to drink with roast pork

A combination of fresh acidity and juicy red fruit can also work well with roast pork, on the other hand.

Decanter’s Julie Sheppard previously recommended this Cabernet Franc from Mendoza, available at Sainsbury’s in the UK, for instance.

Roast pork beyond suckling pig can handle a slightly bolder wine, although fleshy, juicy fruit and bright acidity should generally work better than the sort of tannic heavyweight that might pair with a darker red meat like steak.

‘Roast pork calls for something that combines richness with acidity, whether it’s white or red,’ said Matt Walls.

As an expert on the Rhône Valley in particular, he advised turning to the Grenache heartland of Gigondas.

Can you drink white wine with roast pork?

For white wine lovers, ‘Condrieu [Viognier] can be a brilliant match for pork roasted with herbs like Oregano or Marjoram,’ Walls said.

He added that it’s also worth considering Pinot Noir from warmer climates, plus fresher styles of Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc from either the Loire Valley or South Africa.

Some styles of white Rioja can also be delicious with roast pork. Decanter’s Amy Wislocki recommended this ‘intense, toasty, oily and nutty’ example from Allende, which also shows ‘incredible length’.

Wine with pork sausages

Walls returned to the Grenache theme when considering a wine for pork sausages. ‘For a classic bangers and mash, I tend to reach for a young Grenache-based wine like a southern Rhône.’

Grenache-based blends with lots of juicy fruit and depth could be a winner with barbecued sausages too.

A high-acid red like Barbera, meanwhile, can match well with the fattiness of a sausage pasta dish, especially if tomatoes have added extra acidity to the meal.

Rosé wine with BBQ pork

Dry rosé wines could be a good bet for BBQ pork, whether pulled or cooked as a chop.

However, the meat might overpower some of the more delicate styles.

The Goring’s Lemoine suggested a Grenache rosé, particularly the more full-bodied styles from Spain, where the grape variety is known as Garnacha.

Aged Barolo wine with roast ham

Are you lucky enough to have any bottles of top Barolo, Bordeaux or white Burgundy quietly ageing away in your cellar?

Then the serving of a roast ham – whether at Christmas or any other time of year – could be a great excuse to pull the cork on a treasured bottle, said Lemoine.

He said the softer tannins and complexity of these wines after a few years of bottle age will work well with the meat.

This article was first published in 2019 and has been edited in November 2023, including with the addition of new wine reviews (below).

Reviews by our experts: inspiration on pairing wine with pork

Related articles

Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide

Wine with beef: Pairing advice and styles to try

See more food and wine pairing ideas

The post Wine with pork: Advice on great pairings appeared first on Decanter.

Christmas whiskies for all Thu, 07 Dec 2023 06:00:02 +0000 glass of whisky with festive decorations

Gift ideas and tasty drams picked by Richard Woodward...

The post Christmas whiskies for all appeared first on Decanter.

glass of whisky with festive decorations

It’s 20 years since US psychologist Barry Schwartz wrote The Paradox of Choice – Why More is Less, a book which addresses a particular anxiety prevalent in modern society.

Schwartz argues that having more choice, rather than opening up opportunities, instead leaves us with a sense of powerlessness. It’s a sentiment that will be familiar to anyone who’s scrolled through Netflix menus or Spotify playlists… What should I choose? How do I choose? And what if I miss out on something great?

Whisky lovers know that feeling, too. There are more whiskies, from more places, with more flavours and styles, than ever before – and never is that phenomenon more evident than at Christmas, when we are bombarded with a multitude of tempting bottles.

The good news? Whether you’re hunting down present options for loved ones, self-gifting with a special treat, or just looking for a tasty dram to offer Santa on Christmas Eve, the perfect whisky does exist.

Not objectively perfect – that’s probably impossible, not to mention dull – but ideal instead for a particular occasion, or person. The perfect whisky is really a perfect whisky moment: a coming together of people, place, time and liquid to give joy. And what better time for that than Christmas?

The Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay

The Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay. Credit: Iain Masterton / Alamy Stock Photo

The perfect whisky for novices

Everyone’s beginning in whisky is different, but there’s usually a dram that converts you from curious outsider to devoted fan. It may not be a light whisky – for some, an Islay peat bomb will be the clincher – but your flavour preferences can help light the way. So, if you love lipsmacking, zesty fruit, then Glenmorangie 10 Year Old (Alc 40%, £27-£40/70cl Widely available) is a classic gateway malt. But those who hanker after something darker might plump for Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength (60%, £52-£70/70cl Widely available), a big, friendly Sherry giant.

Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Ireland
A modern classic, this is a fantastic example of single pot still Irish whiskey, with singing, tangy orchard fruit, a dry cereal backbone and an appealing finish of toffee and spice. Pure drinking pleasure. Alcohol 40%

The perfect whisky for Scotch lovers

Finding a whisky that universally pleases fans of Scotch is extraordinarily tricky, if not downright impossible. Do you go smoky – but not too smoky – with the peat/fruit/oak poise of Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride (43%, £115- £139/70cl Widely available)?

Or veer towards the super-fruity with a classic expression from a sometimes overlooked distillery, such as Longmorn 18 Year Old Secret Speyside Collection (48%, £103-£111/70cl Widely available), positively dripping with juicy mango and pineapple?

Compass Box Artist Blend, Scotland 
True Scotch lovers never dismiss blends – especially not when they’re as appealing and balanced as this beauty from John Glaser at Compass Box. A tribute to Edinburgh, its malt-heavy recipe (55%, Linkwood to the fore, alongside Balmenach and Clynelish) offers a whistle-clean all-rounder, with punchy orchard fruit, caramel and a mouthwatering salinity. Alc 43%

The perfect whisky for single malt fans

Single malts are all about character, and place. It’s hard to separate the taste of Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Lagavulin from the seaweed reek of Islay’s Kildalton coast. But associations between flavour and locale can shift. Speyside is a kaleidoscope of styles, from lightly fruity to heavily funky. For that reason, I adore Mossburn Vintage Casks’ bottling of Benrinnes 2008 (54.9%, £73.95-£80/70cl Widely available) for its softening of the distillery’s meaty distillate via an ex-Moscatel cask.

Meikle Tòir 5 Year Old The Original, Scotland
Doubly exciting: the first peated GlenAllachie (near Dufftown in Speyside) from Master Distiller Billy Walker, and the first release since he opted to extend fermentation times to a formidable 160 hours. St Fergus mainland peat brings scents of smoked cashew, with aromas of coffee roaster, nutmeg and a lick of dark honey. Alc 50%

The perfect whisky for American admirers

The American whiskey scene is one of the most dynamic on the planet now: rye is resurgent, they’re pushing bourbon boundaries in Kentucky and beyond, and craft distillers are pursuing esoteric grains and experimental techniques – as well as creating highly distinctive American single malt expressions. Beyond craft pioneers such as Westland, Westward and Balcones, there’s an almost endless variety of spirits to explore via independent bottlings: Dad’s Hat, Copperworks and Ironroot Republic are all names to conjure with.

Michter’s US*1 Unblended American Whiskey, USA
Michter’s unites American whiskey past and present, its small-batch bourbons and ryes exemplifying the US distilling renaissance. This can’t be called bourbon for reasons too dull to go into, but never mind: it’s an indulgent American classic brimming with sweet corn, dried apricot, butterscotch and a supremely creamy texture. Alc 41.7%

The perfect whisky for Irish whiskey fanatics

Ireland’s whiskey excitement levels are reaching new heights now that some of the younger distilleries are bottling increasingly mature liquid. The list of names to watch is lengthening, from provenance-rich Waterford to delicious Dingle; meanwhile, Dublin’s once vast whiskey industry has been revived by the likes of Teeling.

That, in turn, has prompted established names to raise their game, including an increasingly impressive range of aged whiskeys from Bushmills, and Irish Distillers’ experimental Method & Madness releases.

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy, Ireland
This takes the single pot still template of Green Spot and adds layers and layers of depth. There’s a savoury cereal backbone and a finish that edges into date and liquorice territory, but at the core lies the tangy, spice-dusted fruit: candied orange peel, poached apple and dried apricot. Alc 46%

The perfect whisky for world whisky explorers

The most exciting whisky nation right now? Stick a pin in an atlas and go from there. How about India and the rise of Rampur, Paul John and a host of newer operators? Or the Antipodes, including New Zealand’s brilliant Cardrona or Australia’s Starward?

What about the Nordics, where a spirit of fearless innovation prevails, from terrific ryes to whiskies scented with smoked alder or nettle? And then there’s England, home to the likes of Cotswolds and The Lakes distilleries. Exciting times indeed.

Rampur Double Cask, India 
Expect great things from Rampur in the years ahead. Meanwhile, this is a splendid starting-point: a mix of ex-bourbon and Sherry wood creates a rich whisky with ripe mango edging into darker, dried fruit territory, baking spices and an enticing, toffee-butterscotch finish. Alc 45%

The perfect whisky for Sherry devotees

Sherried whiskies are made for Christmas. Flavours of dried fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar offer an obvious reminder of festive cake and pudding – and on cold nights there’s comfort in their rich embrace. Macallan, Glenfarclas, Aberlour and Tamdhu exemplify the Scotch template, but great Sherried whiskies are made all over the world: a personal favourite is Kavalan Triple Sherry Cask (40%, £82.70- £88/70cl Widely available), matured in oloroso, PX and Moscatel Sherry casks and a sweetly seductive winter dram.

Berry Bros & Rudd Linkwood 2010 Cask #301235 Pedro Ximénez finish (Christmas Edition), Scotland 

I love this for its restraint – not shouting too loudly with the Sherry cask flavours, but allowing those festive associations to build –clove-spikedorange,figandtreacle,plus a savoury undertow of spice and pleasantly drying oak. Alc 52.4%

The perfect whisky for peat freaks

The diversity of smoke-accented drams is growing by the day, from Islay’s maritime classics to the earthier mainland character expressed by the likes of Ardmore and peated Glenturret. Meanwhile, youthful releases from Skye’s Torabhaig show huge promise.

But Scotland doesn’t have a monopoly on peat, as some wonderfully smoky releases coming from the US, the Nordics and England (check out White Peak/Wire Works) illustrate. Dublin’s Teeling Blackpitts (46%, £46.90-£61.95 Widely available) ,with its enticing scents of chargrilled pineapple and clove, is a belter.

Port Askaig 8 Year Old, Scotland 
A revamped recipe has breathed new life into this Islay classic, reinforcing the billowing beach bonfire smoke with lighter scents of pine resin and dried thyme. A mix of cask types – bourbon, toasted American oak, PX butts, refill hogsheads – brings structure and breadth. Alc 45.8%

The perfect whisky for terroir nuts

Does whisky have… terroir? Many whiskies – single malts most obviously – embody a sense of place. If you transplanted everything to a different location, would the whisky taste the same?

Open to debate, but many distillers are now focusing intently on raw materials, and where they’re grown, to reinforce this sense of provenance. Bruichladdich on Islay has long been a standard-bearer for this approach – check out Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2012 (50%, £85-£114 Widely available) – and Westland in Washington state has done similarly pioneering work.

Waterford Cuvée Argot, Ireland 
Waterford has been fixated on ‘téireoir’ (its Gaelic take on the term) since its foundation, with a formidable stable of ‘single farm origin’ malt whiskies. This assemblage of several of them displays the blender’s art, and it’s a hugely vibrant, characterful whisky of fruit basket aromas, sweet shop flavours and just a whisper of peppery smoke. Alc 47%

The perfect whisky for collectors

If the average whisky fan is spoiled for choice in 2023, the well above-average (in terms of disposable income) individual may be experiencing pangs of Schwartzian angst. Diageo’s Prima & Ultima (as well as Special Releases), the House of Hazelwood collection from the Grant family’s stocks, Gordon & MacPhail’s Recollection Series… not to mention recent, long-aged one-off releases from the likes of Glen Scotia, Tomatin, Littlemill… I could go on.

Littlemill The Vanguards Collection, Chapter One Robert Muir 45 Year Old, Scotland
Littlemill was unloved for most of its long history, falling silent for the last time in 1994 and destroyed by fire a decade later. So this 45-year-old Lowland malt has a phoenix-like quality to it, replete with hedgerow scents of rose and honeysuckle, juicy orchard fruit and a pinch of nutmeg. The silky, vanilla-heavy finish lingers long on the palate. Alc 50.5%

Green Spot Single Pot Still

Compass Box Artist Blend

Meikle Tòir 5 Year Old The Original

Michter’s US*1 Unblended American Whiskey

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy

Rampur Double Cask

Berry Bros & Rudd Linkwood 2010 Cask #301235 Pedro Ximénez finish (Christmas Edition)

Port Askaig 8 Year Old

Waterford Cuvée Argot

Littlemill The Vanguards Collection Chapter One Robert Muir 45 Year Old

The post Christmas whiskies for all appeared first on Decanter.

Flaviar maintains expansion drive by purchasing Wine-Searcher Wed, 06 Dec 2023 12:33:54 +0000 Someone taking a bottle of wine off a shelf

Wine-Searcher is a leading database for wine enthusiasts, searched nearly 300 million times per year...

The post Flaviar maintains expansion drive by purchasing Wine-Searcher appeared first on Decanter.

Someone taking a bottle of wine off a shelf

The firm has embarked upon an ambitious expansion drive this year, having also snapped up fellow e-commerce player Barcart in June.

Flaviar said that the acquisition of Wine-Searcher ‘cements its dominant position as the global leader in beverage alcohol’.

Wine-Searcher is a leading database for wine enthusiasts, which provides information about thousands of wines, including price and availability.

‘This is a classic case where the sum is greater than the parts,’ said Flaviar CEO Jugoslav Petkovic, a Slovenian entrepreneur who co-founded the company in 2012.

‘We at Flaviar are experts in spirits and e-commerce in the US and Europe, while Wine-Searcher brings unparalleled global reach, depth of wine expertise and a wealth of historic pricing and availability data.

‘At the same time our two companies share a lot of our values, especially around independence, focus on benefits to the consumer and acting as an enabler for the industry participants to operate and improve their business.’

Wine-Searcher was established in 1999. It has featured around 18 million listings from more than 33,000 vendors, spread across 126 countries.

The database is searched nearly 300 million times per year, according to the company, and it has more than five million monthly active users.

‘After nearly 25 years of building Wine-Searcher’s database, relationships and reputation I’m leaving the company in the capable hands of a wonderful team and with full confidence that with the seasoned management team and new ownership the best days are still ahead,’ said Wine-Searcher founder Martin Brown.

Related articles

Hedonism launches first wine auction with Lafite 1989 magnum

Champagne Louis Roederer heads the line-up at new platform selling wine NFTs

US wine investment firm Vint launches new ‘marketplace’

The post Flaviar maintains expansion drive by purchasing Wine-Searcher appeared first on Decanter.

AI can pinpoint which estate Bordeaux wines come from with 100% accuracy Wed, 06 Dec 2023 11:21:39 +0000 Red wine swirling in a glass

The University of Geneva used AI to assess the chemical composition of 80 red wines...

The post AI can pinpoint which estate Bordeaux wines come from with 100% accuracy appeared first on Decanter.

Red wine swirling in a glass

Researchers described the algorithm as a ‘100% reliable model’ that could be used to combat counterfeiting within the fine wine trade.

A team from the University of Geneva in Switzerland used artificial intelligence to assess the chemical composition of 80 red wines from seven different châteaux.

They used wines from 12 different vintages between 1990 and 2007, all from renowned estates in Bordeaux.

The researchers vaporised the wines and broke them down to chemical components, resulting in a readout for each wine. The readout is known as a chromatogram, and it has around 30,000 points representing separate chemical compounds.

The team then used 73 chromatograms to train the AI, along with data on the vintage and the estate that produced the wines.

Researchers then tested the algorithm on seven chromatograms that were held back to see if it could guess which estate had produced the wines.

It managed to do so with 100% accuracy. The researchers repeated the process 50 times, changing the wines used each time, and the algorithm consistently earned full marks.

‘Our results show that it is possible to identify the geographical origin of a wine with 100% accuracy, by applying dimensionality reduction techniques to gas chromatograms,’ said lead researcher Alexandre Pouget, a neuroscience professor at the University of Geneva.

His goal was to identify a specific, invariable chemical signature for each estate. ‘The wine sector has made numerous attempts to answer this question, with questionable or sometimes correct results, but involving heavy techniques.’

Co-author Stéphanie Marchand, a professor at the Institute of Vine and Wine Science at the University of Bordeaux, added: ‘This [study] allowed us to show that each estate does have its own chemical signature. We also observed that three wines were grouped together on the right and four on the left, which corresponds to the two banks of the Garonne on which these estates are located.’

The algorithm could now be used to nail down each estate’s terroir in a more scientific manner than was previously possible.

Pouget believes that it could also be used to fight back against fraud. ‘There’s a lot of wine fraud around, with people making up some crap in their garage, printing off labels, and selling it for thousands of dollars,’ he said. ‘We show for the first time that we have enough sensitivity with our chemical techniques to tell the difference.’

It is the latest in a long line of remarkable developments in the rapidly advancing world of artificial intelligence. Machine learning tools can now beat the world’s best chess players, pass the bar and diagnose diseases.

AI has also been deployed at wineries, which use algorithms to monitor harvests, predict yields, sort grapes, manage inventory and prevent spoilage.

Related articles

France kicks off plan to grub up nearly 9% of Bordeaux vineyard

Fresh clue to red wine headaches revealed by new study

Bordeaux 1982 revisited: 45 wines tasted

The post AI can pinpoint which estate Bordeaux wines come from with 100% accuracy appeared first on Decanter.

Chablis 2022: Full vintage report and top-scoring wines Wed, 06 Dec 2023 06:44:10 +0000 Chablis 2022

It’s a ‘very fine vintage’, says a delighted Andy Howard MW...

The post Chablis 2022: Full vintage report and top-scoring wines appeared first on Decanter.

Chablis 2022

Chablis 2022: 4.5/5

‘It was a very good vintage with extremely healthy grapes’ – Vincent Dauvissat

Chablis 2022: wine of the vintage

Domaine Vincent Dauvissat, Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru

After a week spent in Chablis tasting 375 wines, it is clear that 2022 is a very good year – and potentially an excellent one. Although a warm and very dry vintage, yields were not excessive and, crucially, acidity is high. The resulting wines are very well balanced with a lovely combination of the freshness and minerality which typifies Chablis, combined with fleshy, ripe, stone- and tree-fruit flavours.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for a selection of top-scoring and top-value Chablis 2022 wines

Coming after the very challenging growing season in 2021 (severe frosts, cold weather and rainfall leading to disease pressure), Chablis 2022 has a different style and one which will appeal both to ‘classic’ Chablis lovers as well as those looking for more generous fruit character.

Top producer Vincent Dauvissat commented that in 2022 ‘the vines were recovering from 2021, and were compensating with lots of vegetative growth’. Dauvissat notes: ‘It was a very good vintage with extremely healthy grapes.’

See the Chablis 2022 top wines score table for all wines scoring 93 points or above

Howard’s pick: 30 great buys

The following wines are Andy Howard MW’s pick of the top-scoring and best-value Chablis 2022 wines, according to his own extensive tastings, as well as including wines from ‘producers to look out for’.

NB: many retailers’ allocations for these wines are as yet unconfirmed – prices and stockists are given where available, and alcohol levels are shown where known at the time of writing. If we have awarded ‘Top value’ to an as-yet unpriced wine, it is based on our predicted pricing.

Related articles

Chablis 2021: full vintage report and top-scoring wines

What happened to Chablis? Ask Decanter

Burgundy 2022: What to expect

The post Chablis 2022: Full vintage report and top-scoring wines appeared first on Decanter.

Waitrose 10 Fine Wines at £10 promotion: Tasted and rated Wed, 06 Dec 2023 06:00:05 +0000

A selection of upper shelf wines for only a tenner....

The post Waitrose 10 Fine Wines at £10 promotion: Tasted and rated appeared first on Decanter.


As Christmas approaches we’re all looking for an offer on our wine shopping, and Waitrose’s Fine Wines at £10 promotion is a particularly tempting proposition, with 10 fine wines (plus one tawny Port) across different styles, marked down to just a tenner each. 

This represents a significant discount on the retail price for most of the wines featured – all of these wines will set you back at least £14.99 when not discounted, and the most expensive included in the offer (the Villa Antinori Rosso di Toscana) has a price-tag of £18.99, so a great saving if you’re on the lookout for a Tuscan red to go with your festive meat dishes.

Decanter Premium: The perfect gift for a special wine lover

Classic styles

This Christmas promotion is all about the classics, with the line-up including customer favourites such as Chablis, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Provence Rosé, Rioja and Argentinian Malbec among the featured wines, as well as a sparkling wine and the tawny Port. 

It may seem like a rather conservative selection given the excitement elsewhere in Waitrose’s range – in its excellent Loved & Found discovery range, for example – but it’s the classic styles that are most in demand at this time of year so these are unsurprisingly the focus here. This is not a line-up that is going to broaden your horizons, but without a doubt these wines are great value at this price.

So what were the highlights of the range? Among the whites, the crisply mineral Broglia Gavi di Gavi from Piedmont is delicious, and would be a good match for fish or seafood dishes. And for red, we’d make a beeline for the Aussie Shiraz, The Hedonist, made from McLaren Vale fruit – a full-bodied and richly fruited wine that would be perfect in these freezing winter temperatures.

This year’s promotion runs while stocks last, until 1 January 2024, in most stores and online – at and Waitrose Cellar. (The exception to this is the Chablis, which is available at the £10 price only until 13 December.) 

Waitrose’s 10 Fine Wines at £10

All wines tasted 21 November 2023. Prices shown here are the full retail prices, and do not reflect this special offer. Some wines might only be available in selected stores. Wines grouped by style and ordered by score, in descending order.

Related articles

Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide

Top Lidl wines to buy this winter

Waitrose – Best buys this winter

The post Waitrose 10 Fine Wines at £10 promotion: Tasted and rated appeared first on Decanter.

Liquid Gold: Outstanding sweet wines of the world Tue, 05 Dec 2023 08:00:29 +0000

From notable classics to new discoveries, explore the best from Decanter World Wine Awards...

The post Liquid Gold: Outstanding sweet wines of the world appeared first on Decanter.


Once the most famed and coveted wine style in the world, sweet wines have the ability to inspire otherworldly experiences.

Outstanding examples divulge layers of complexity wrapped up in luscious texture yet are never cloying, with aromas and flavours that continue to develop gracefully with age.

Lying behind the term ‘sweet wine’ are centuries of history, tradition and varying production techniques, from grapes affected by noble rot or dried in the sun, to those left on the vine until frozen. Whatever the process, it’s often a labour of love that gives small quantities in return.

The quality and absolute joy of sweet wines is recognised annually during Decanter World Wine Awards, whereby hundreds of sweet wines from regions all around the world are rated by leading experts, invariably with brilliant results.

Scroll down to see 15 top-scoring sweet wines from DWWA 2023

The 2023 competition saw two of the Top 50 Best in Show medals awarded to sweet wines from Austria and Greece, with eight more awarded 97 points in the Platinum category.

From notable classics to new discoveries, a total of 41 sweet wines from 12 countries were awarded 95 points (Gold) or more, with wines from the Czech Republic, Portugal and China on quality par with the great sweets of France, Germany and Hungary.

‘The Decanter World Wine Awards has become a kind of international benchmark for the wine world,’ explains Co-Chair Andrew Jefford – and a look at results within a specific region, grape variety, colour or style category, as here, reflects this.

As an aperitif, a sweet treat to complete a meal, or savoured on its own, below discover the liquid Gold of the DWWA competition – this year’s global sweet wine benchmarks – with more to search and find at

Liquid Gold: Top-awarded sweet wines to try


Tschida Angerhof, Schilfwein Muskat Ottonel, Neusiedlersee 2021

Best in Show, 97 points 
£73.25/37.5cl Astrum Wine Cellars, Sociovino
Aromas of honeyed, musky enchantment: seduction exemplified. Palate-teasingly rich (308g/L sugars) yet never cloying, thanks principally to those head-turning perfumes and to a lesser extent to its subdued orange-decked acidity. Creamy and rich, and it leaves the mouth with a jasmine freshness. Resist it if you can. Alcohol 8%


Estate Argyros, First Release Vinsanto, Santorini 2015

Best in Show, 97 points
£45.55-£60/50cl Clark Foyster, Epinoia, Tanners, Wine & Greene
Waxy, incense-like aromas almost seem to evoke the interior of Orthodox churches. The flavours are deep, dense and close-knit, the balance riveting – extravagant sugars (250g/L) are offset by the distinctive acid cut of Assyrtiko and a ‘rancio’ oxidative tang and tannic grip, the legacy of long wood-ageing. Classic Santorini salinity adds a further layer to a unique wine experience. Alc 13%


De Bortoli, Noble One Botrytis Semillon, New South Wales 2019

Platinum, 97 points 
£21.95/37.5cl (2020) Eynsham Cellars, Gwin Dylanwad, WoodWinters
Big, unctuous and brimming with masses of honey, crystalline sugar, lemon rind and burnt orange. Lusciously sweet crème caramel texture, all held together by a succulent, cleansing acidity. Long, intense and mouthfilling. Divine. Alc 10%


Yajianggu Winery, Vidal Icewine, Tonghua, Jilin 2017

Gold, 95 points 
The nose displays lovely scents of flowers with notes of tropical mango and pineapple, caramel and fresh honey. Crisp and lemony on the palate. Alc 10.6%


Benvenuti, San Salvatore Muškat, Istria 2018

Gold, 95 points
A rich and intricate flavour profile features notes of raisin, caramel and dried apricot. Its texture is velvety smooth, with hints of peach and beeswax, the finish sweet and long-lasting. Truly impressive. Alc 11%

Czech Republic

Portz Insel, Cibulka Ryzlink Vlašský, Mikulovská, Moravia 2018

Gold, 95 points
Truly fabulous, showing elegant aromas of honeyed peaches, apple pie, orange peel and fresh citrus fruits. Sweet and unctuous, with harmonious and lively acidity. Alc 12%


Domaine des Petits Quarts, Clos des Melleresses, Bonnezeaux, Loire 2021

Platinum, 97 points
Has layers of sumptuous candied orange peel and rich honeyed citrus fruit. Caressingly rich and lavish with a hugely concentrated, mouthwatering texture and a seamlessly fresh, contrasting line of acidity. Delectable, delicious and endless. Alc 11.5%


Dr Loosen, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling TBA, Mosel 2013

Platinum, 97 points 
POA ABS Wine Agencies
Waves of sublime honeyed apricot, dried pineapple, mango and marmalade with a luscious backbone of exotic saffron and rosehip bathed in vibrant acidity which cleanses the sweetness. Delightfully poised and pristine, incredible length. Alc 7.5%

Hans Wirsching, Iphöfer Julius-Echter -Berg Rieslaner TBA, Franken 2021

Platinum, 97 points
POA The WineBarn
Enticing, intense aromas of dried apricot, candied orange peel, marmalade, peach jam and pineapple dive into a sweet-sour tightrope of tension and delectable oily viscosity, with distinctive acidity and lifted, Angelica root-infused finish. Alc 7%

Korrell, Kreuznacher Paradies Riesling Eiswein, Nahe 2021

Platinum, 97 points
Emblazoned with mouthwatering honeyed peach and apricot fruit, lemon curd and dried blossom with a tingling knife-edge acidity and seamless minerality piercing through the staggeringly intense sweetness. An utterly mindblowing experience. Alc 6%


Gizella, Szamorodni, Tokaj 2019

Platinum, 97 points
£33.99/50cl Novel Wines
Smoulderingly rich with swathes of succulent apricot, honeyed white peach, dried mango and passion fruit encased in a penetrating lime and grapefruit freshness. Decadent, full and rapturously luscious with a wonderfully long and youthful finish. Alc 11%


La Colombaia Ville di Bagnolo, Torri della Colombaia, Vin Santo del Chianti, Tuscany 2009

Platinum, 97 points
Mesmerising shades of crushed walnuts, dried mango, peach and ginger spice are engulfed in a luscious caramel intensity. Deeply rich and sublimely sweet, a suggestion of toasty vanilla and a lipsmacking tang of refreshing acidity. Very long. Alc 15%


Companhia das Lezírias, Séries Singulares Colheita Tardia, Tejo 2021

Gold, 96 points
Absolutely impeccable. Heady and unctuous cut lime, pear, lychee, Turkish delight and butterscotch with a harmony of grapefruit acidity and a long, super- spicy finish. Alc 13%

South Africa

Paul Cluver, Noble Late Harvest Riesling, Elgin 2021

Gold, 95 points 
£22-£27.50/37.5cl Christopher Piper, Dunell’s, Frontier Fine Wines, The Oxford Wine Co, Vinvm
Thrilling layers of sundried mango, pineapple, honey and marmalade with a surge of crisp lime acid precision. Hugely generous and enticing with a very long finish. Alc 10%

Search all DWWA 2023 results

Related articles

Sauternes – shaken or stirred?

The best after-dinner drinks

DFWE London 2023: DWWA top-scoring wines to discover

The post Liquid Gold: Outstanding sweet wines of the world appeared first on Decanter.

Sommeliers offer tips on gifting wine the right way Tue, 05 Dec 2023 07:47:54 +0000 guests bring gifts to a holiday party

Jillian Dara shares wine party etiquette from a somm's perspective...

The post Sommeliers offer tips on gifting wine the right way appeared first on Decanter.

guests bring gifts to a holiday party

Attending a dinner party is supposed to be the relaxing end of the guest-host trade-off. You can simply show up while the host organises all the minute details to make the gathering a memorable one. Yet, before settling in for a hosted evening, there’s one detail that requires your attention – choosing the perfect bottle of wine.

Wine as a thoughtful gift

With so many styles, regions and labels to choose from, this can often trigger social anxiety. Does my host like white or red? What are we having for dinner? How many people will be there? These are all questions that arise in anticipation of finding the perfect bottle. Instead of asking them rhetorically, sommelier and founder of The Hue Society, Tahiirah Habibi says you should actually ask them.

‘Get as much information about the host and event as possible, that way you can tailor your selections,’ she says. ‘Cultural identities, commonalities, celebrations and food preparation can really help you understand your host’s wine preferences and they will appreciate the effort.’

Of course, there are times when you can’t secure these details – maybe the host hasn’t chosen the menu or perhaps you are a guest-of-a-guest and aren’t able to ask the host. In that case, there are a few ways to go about choosing the best bottle.

a woman shopping for wine is standing in front of a large selection of wines

Credit: d3sign / Moment via Getty Images

Choose a wine with a personal meaning, says Vincent Morrow, MS and beverage director at PRESS Napa Valley. ‘Wine is meant to be shared and if all else fails, bring a bottle that means something to you.’ Morrow shares he often presents a Riesling that he and his fiancée helped produce in the Pfalz region of Germany. ‘It is a stunning wine by itself, but the story means so much more to us.’

Along these lines: ‘Something that you’re excited to try will be exciting for whom you share the experience with,’ says Abe Zarate, sommelier at The Modern in New York.

A guest can also look at the occasion to help narrow down the choice. Even if you don’t know the host or the minutiae of the hosted event, is it in celebration of a birthday or a holiday?

Wines for the right occasion

For instance, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to bring a unique bottle to the table, says Jeremy Shanker MS, corporate wine director of Mina Group. ‘Have a little more fun with it,’ he says, noting the challenging amalgamation of flavours on a Thanksgiving plate. Chenin Blanc matches the caramel in sweet potatoes, the tartness of cranberry and savoury items like turkey.

Understanding the occasion, Shanker advises, also applies to birthdays, in which case he says there is a line where a bottle could be considered too cheap. ‘If you’re gifting somebody a bottle of wine, you might as well do it right,’ he says. This doesn’t necessarily translate to spending more money, as you can gift somebody a bottle that isn’t readily accessible or that they wouldn’t find at their local bottle shop, like a grower’s Champagne instead of Veuve Clicquot, he notes.

Zarate agrees with the swap: ‘Value wines outperform expectations in quality while offering an element of surprise,’ he says, offering a look at producers of great renown. ‘These days, they are likely to be working with lesser known or underrated regions and grapes.’ Zarate considers white Burgundy producers – instead of opting for their Grand Cru bottle, they might make an Aligoté, Bourgogne Blanc or even have a project in places like Oregon and California.

The price is right

On that note, what is the appropriate price tag for a gifted bottle? This is all dependent on the above and your relationship with the host, but on average, Habibi suggests a range of $20 to $50, which can be increased around the holidays to between $30 to $100. ‘I would try to avoid overly extravagant or inexpensive wines,’ she adds, re-emphasising the key of tailoring your choice to the host’s preferences and the context of the gathering.

Morrow agrees: ‘Don’t spend beyond your comfort level and risk also feeling resentment should they not like it.’

When it comes to presentation, context also plays a role: ‘The way that you package the bottle hints whether it’s a gift or whether it’s being opened that evening,’ says Shanker, who says if he was presented with a bottle of Champagne in a gift box or a bottle of wine in a bag with tissue paper, he’d assume it’s a gift and put it aside.

You also don’t need to go over the top, says Habibi. ‘Wrapping it nicely with a ribbon can enhance the presentation. Including a personalised note as to why you made the selection is a great touch.’

If you show up with no bag, it’s a clue to open it at the gathering, but by no means an expectation. ‘If it doesn’t get opened, then you leave the bottle. Don’t take it with you,’ stresses Shanker.

Though you can follow any of the aforementioned tips, perhaps the best advice is when all else fails, bubbles save the day. ‘You can’t ever go wrong with Champagne,’ says Shanker.

a champagne toast at a dinner party

Credit: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision via Getty Images

Related articles

The sommelier suggests… Carignan by Daniel Illsley

The sommelier suggests… Savennières by Pascaline Lepeltier

Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide

The post Sommeliers offer tips on gifting wine the right way appeared first on Decanter.

Best English wines to try this Christmas Tue, 05 Dec 2023 07:00:34 +0000

Stock up with some top-scoring English sparkling and still wines...

The post Best English wines to try this Christmas appeared first on Decanter.


Light up your Christmas with the vivacious bubbles and bright acidity of English sparkling and still wines, hand-picked by the Decanter team. Be spoiled for choice from premium bubbles, festive rosés and gift options in magnum format. All wines are above 88 points.

Our highlights

From the premium end, the 2010 vintage of Nyetimber’s 1086 is the latest release of the estate’s Prestige Cuvée. A truly special treat that stands testament to the ageing potential of English sparkling wines. Hambledon Vineyard’s Première Cuvée Rosé 2016, driven by Pinot Meunier, offers a punchy, memorable flavour profile that sets to change your perception of an English sparkling rosé.

For Christmas gift ideas, Exton Park has released a twin-pack of its 2014 Blanc de Blancs, one cellar-aged and one sea-aged, each showing intriguingly distinctive characters. From Simpsons Wine Estate, the Q Class Chardonnay, in magnum, is only made in exceptional years. The 2020 vintage was especially impressive with its depth and richness. Ridgeview’s late disgorged edition of its NV Oak Reserve sparkling wine, with its laminated cherry wood label, will certainly inspire some curious conversations at the dinner table.

For fizzes that offer both value and quality, Greyfriars’ Blanc de Blancs 2015, at £27 per bottle, is our top recommendation. The NV Brut from Louis Pommery, at £30 via Ocado, and Quob Park Extra Brut at £31.50, are also value finds that won’t disappoint.

If you are in the mood for Burgundian-style still whites, opt for Balfour Winery’s tank-aged Skye’s Chardonnay 2022 or Gusbourne’s barrel-fermented Guinevere Chardonnay 2021 and savour the subtle differences. For a serious taste of the English ‘signature grape’ – Bacchus – Chapel Down’s Kit’s Coty Bacchus 2020 will surprise you with its complex perfume and palate.

For a splash of colour, some of our favourite festive pinks include Rathfinny’s sparkling Rosé 2019, Black Chalk’s Wild Rose 2020 and Railway Hill Rosé 2022 from Simpsons.

A growing industry

In 2022, 12.2 million bottles of wine were produced in Great Britain, a 130% increase from 2017, according to the most recent survey conducted by industry body WineGB.

Britain has 3,928ha of land under vine – excluding an estimated further 400ha planted in 2023 – and 943 vineyards and 209 wineries.

Chardonnay (1228ha), Pinot Noir (1,141ha) and Pinot Meunier (343) remain the favourites of wine growers in England and Wales, while cool-climate varieties such as Bacchus (298ha), Seyval Blanc (122ha) and Solaris (95ha) are increasingly valued for their ability to produce quality still wines.

Sparkling wines still account for 68% of Britain’s total wine production, with the majority (93%) made using the traditional method. The remaining 32% of production comprises a wide range of still wines, among which 62% are white and 21% are rosé.

Data from WineGB / Wine Standards

Best English wines for Christmas

Related articles

The rise of English and Welsh orange wine

English vineyard with Pinot Noir goes on sale at £1.3m

Jackson Family Wines announces major expansion into English wine industry

The post Best English wines to try this Christmas appeared first on Decanter.

Ultimate Marlborough road trip Tue, 05 Dec 2023 07:00:25 +0000 Picton town and its sheltered harbour for the Cook Strait ferry, Marlborough
Picton town and its sheltered harbour for the Cook Strait ferry.

Oliver Styles guides you on the ultimate road trip in this stunning region...

The post Ultimate Marlborough road trip appeared first on Decanter.

Picton town and its sheltered harbour for the Cook Strait ferry, Marlborough
Picton town and its sheltered harbour for the Cook Strait ferry.

Marlborough’s problem is one of transition: for people visiting New Zealand, even for many nationals, it is a place you go past if you’re going somewhere else. Its location – a 30-minute drive south of Picton (the main port of entry to the South Island via the Cook Strait car ferry from Wellington) – means people are either trying to make it north to the ferry or continuing south to Christchurch, Otago or even west to Nelson and the West Coast region.

That’s a shame because Marlborough has everything to offer if you just stop and take a bit more time. Its main centre Blenheim is a functional town but set in beautiful part of New Zealand. And the mountains and hills feel close, especially the dramatic Richmond Range to the north.

Indeed, as Auntsfield winemaker Luc Cowley pointed out, you can always orient yourself in the Wairau Valley, Marlborough’s main wine-growing area: the blue mountains (the Richmond Ranges) lie to the north and the green mountains lie to the south. These latter are more a shade of brown in summer, hence their name: the Wither Hills.

The Marlborough Sounds, too – a collection of ancient valleys flooded with Pacific ocean waters along a 1,500km stretch of coastline – is a stone’s throw away. While many patrons of the car ferry admire its beauty as they pass through the parade of pristine, almost uninhabited bays and coves before hopping in their vehicle and driving on, it is a very good reason to hang around.

Diversity in abundance

There is much else on offer in Marlborough – and that is true of the wines, too. The region has considerably more to recommend it than the Sauvignon Blanc upon which it made its reputation. What’s more, most cellar doors are focused in a relatively small and easily navigable area around Blenheim and Renwick 8km to its west, with the region’s airport lying in between.

In this road trip, we’ve allocated two days to the Wairau Valley so visitors can really get an idea of how diverse the sub-region and its wines can be. Further information can be found on the wine tourism map at, while the more energetic traveller can take advantage of local bicycle routes.

We’ve grouped our three-day itinerary so it can easily be rearranged. For instance, those travelling down from North Island could arrive in Picton and head straight to the Marlborough Sounds before returning to Picton the next morning and heading south to Blenheim. Both days 1 and 2 finish around Renwick, which allows travellers to take the 1.5-hour drive along State Highway 6 (SH6) further west to Nelson.

If you only have two days available, start with the day 2 itinerary then do day 1’s suggested trip in reverse (ie, drive out to Renwick and head up SH6 before turning east onto Rapaura Road). Fit in the wineries you want before continuing on Rapaura Road to meet SH1 and continue your journey south.

Day one: Wairau Valley from Blenheim

Nautilus Estate’s main entrance and cellar door on Rapaura Road, Renwick

Nautilus Estate’s main entrance and cellar door on Rapaura Road, Renwick

Grab a breakfast coffee and toastie from Sammies on Scott Street. A Kimcheese (kimchi and cheese – add a pork and fennel sausage pattie if you want) is a monumental start to anyone’s day. From there, it’s a short drive just out of town to Lawson’s Dry Hills – a pioneer of sustainable practices in Marlborough and producer of fine aromatic white wines. From here, a variation on our itinerary would be a 15-minute drive down State Highway One (SH1) to Seddon and the Awatere Valley. This sub-region is slightly cooler than the main Wairau Valley and contains many newer – and sizeable – vineyard plantings, which deliver some truly exciting wines. One of the few cellar doors here is Yealands.

But our main route heads north on SH1 for 15 minutes, crossing the Wairau river to stop off the roundabout at Tuamarina to visit the memorial to the Wairau Affray of 1843 and a glimpse of the country’s often violent colonial past.

From Tuamarina, head back the way you came and turn right onto Rapaura Road at Spring Creek where a number of wineries have their cellar doors. We suggest the pan-regional Saint Clair and idiosyncratic Rock Ferry on the way to a tasting and lunch at Cloudy Bay on Jacksons Road. One of Marlborough’s flagship brands, owned by French luxury goods giant LVMH, its cellar door will impress even the most corporate-cynical.

From Cloudy Bay, get back onto Rapaura Road and head west (and then south) to Renwick. There are many wineries on this stretch, so how many you have time for will depend on how long that lunch was.

The proudly organic Te Whare Ra is one of Marlborough’s must-visit wineries and Framingham has a well-deserved reputation for its Rieslings. Hans Herzog produces a range of unexpected varieties and wines, while Huia is an unsung gem. Bubbles fans can stop in at No1 Family Estate, while Nautilus provides a glimpse into day 2 as some of its fruit (in particular its Pinot Noir) is sourced from the Southern Valleys sub-region. And the excellent Fromm is near the airport on your 11-minute drive back to Blenheim.

Day two: Southern Valleys from Blenheim

Winemaker Jules Taylor under bird netting at The Wrekin vineyard in Brancott Valley.

Winemaker Jules Taylor under bird netting at The Wrekin vineyard in Brancott Valley. Credit: Lisa Duncan Photography

Fuel up for the day at Burleigh Gourmet Pies, a Marlborough landmark on the southwestern edge of Blenheim town – try the signature pork belly pie. Then, just a few hundred metres west along New Renwick Road is the turn-off for the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (see ‘address book’, below), which includes Sir Peter Jackson’s impressive collection of World War I aircraft.

Back on New Renwick Road and the turn-off south to Auntsfield marks the first stop on our Southern Valleys wine tour where wind-blown loess has settled in the valleys and provided the clay so essential to its Pinot Noir.

Brancott Valley is the next one along and, although there are no major cellar doors, a number of producers source fruit from here, and Dog Point sits at the base of the ridge that separates Brancott Valley from Omaka Valley. At the head of the Brancott Valley lie two vineyards with stellar reputations: Clayvin, now part of Giesen, and The Wrekin. The latter’s excellent organic fruit is used by numerous brands and highlighted on their wine labels, from one-man-band outfits to the more established Jules Taylor Wines.

Back onto the New Renwick Road again and continuing onto Dog Point Road, Omaka Valley is the next one along, and here you’ll find the must-visit Greywacke – make sure you book an appointment-only, no-charge tasting in advance (weekdays 11am or 2pm) by emailing through the website.

Drive back up towards Renwick to take the SH63 west a short distance before ducking down to the more expansive Waihopai Valley. Once home to the New Zealand government’s not-so-secret satellite listening facility (the huge white domes have since been dismantled, although the facility is still in operation), it also houses Spy Valley Wines and Churton – both well worth a visit, although Churton is by appointment only.

Finally, call in at nearby Clos Henri, which is owned by the Bourgeois family from Sancerre in the Loire, before heading back to Blenheim.

Day three: Picton, Nelson, Marlborough Sounds

Bay of Many Coves Resort

Bay of Many Coves Resort

Time to head into the locals’ playground: the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Drive up to Picton with a quick stop at Johanneshof cellar door on the way. Once in town, park the car, check the ferry timetable and stop in at Toastie for a snack while you wait. There is a range of truly breathtaking resorts and lodges throughout the Sounds, each of which offers a variety of activities, but Punga Cove, Bay of Many Coves Resort and Furneaux Lodge are among those recommended.

The more adventurous early-riser might want to combine this leg with a spot of guided kayaking or a stint on the Queen Charlotte Track, a 71km-long walking and biking track running from Anakiwa, at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound in the south (about 30 minutes’ drive from Picton) to Meretoto/Ship Cove in the north of the Sounds. A local operator such as Wilderness Guides should steer you in the right direction.

Once you’ve chosen your activity, board the ferry, or bike, walk or paddle your way to your chosen destination. Then, whether you’ve hiked, paddled, snorkeled, sailed or cycled – or merely strolled the jetty – it’s time to sit back and relax with a glass of Marlborough wine.

An illustrated map of Marlborough

Credit: Maggie Nelson

How to get there

If you already have your own vehicle, Cook Strait ferries run between Wellington and Picton, the journey time being around 3.5 hours; otherwise it’s a 300km (4-4.5 hour) scenic drive from Christchurch. Otherwise, hire a car after arriving into Marlborough Airport Blenheim: Air New Zealand flies from Auckland and Wellington, and Sounds Air runs limited services from Christchurch, Wellington and Paraparaumu.

Your Marlborough address book

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival

Marlborough Wine & Food Festival. Credit: Richard Briggs


14th Lane
Ideally located in central Blenheim. Formerly The Builder’s Arms, the views aren’t great and it boasts no restaurant or bar, but the rooms more than compensate.

Furneaux Lodge
Tucked all the way up in the stunning Marlborough Sounds, just over the hill from Captain Cook’s favourite NZ anchorage, this place is as magical in the rain as it is in the sun.

Hotel d’Urville
Full of character, both inside and out, the rear bar flows into an outside area which doesn’t quite match the inside vibe but is surprisingly comfortable on summer evenings.

Restaurants & cafés

The fine-dining Marlborough experience on everyone’s lips, winemakers included. Named NZ’s Best Regional Restaurant in 2022 by Cuisine, it also has a coveted ‘two hats’ rating from the food and drink lifestyle publication.

Frank’s Oyster Bar and Eatery
Another restaurant that comes recommended by local winemakers, you’ll find this one in central Blenheim.

The Store
In Kekerengu, a 50-minute drive south of Blenheim on SH1, its sweeping vistas across a wild coastline make it well worth the stop on the way to Christchurch.

Things to do

The summer months of January, February and March respectively feature the Picton Maritime Festival, the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival and the Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival.

Marlborough Farmers Market
Held on Sundays at Blenheim’s A&P showgrounds, this is a great way to enjoy a range of regional produce with a minimum of travel.

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
A must-visit for historic aircraft enthusiasts, or for an extra-special occasion, this renowned aviation museum at Blenheim offers the chance to book a flight on a fully restored World War II-era Avro Anson – a package starting at NZ$990 (£475) per person including a 25-minute flight. Or a 20-minute flight in a Boeing Stearman biplane, costing NZ$395 (£189) for one or two people.

Love NZ Sauvignon?

See our January 2024 issue (on sale from Wednesday 3 January 2024) for an extensive panel tasting of more than 200 current-release New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, with notes and scores by judges Roger Jones, Freddy Bulmer and Cat Lomax.

Related articles

New Zealand aromatic whites: 20 top wines to discover

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022: 15 wines under £20

New Zealand wine exports surge by a record 23%

The post Ultimate Marlborough road trip appeared first on Decanter.

ProWine Shanghai 2023 highlights: A growing DWWA award-winning wine showcase Mon, 04 Dec 2023 15:00:51 +0000

More than 40 DWWA-awarded wines were showcased at mainland China's leading wine fair...

The post ProWine Shanghai 2023 highlights: A growing DWWA award-winning wine showcase appeared first on Decanter.


ProWine Shanghai, the leading wine and spirits industry trade fair in the Chinese mainland, was held from 8-10 November at the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC). First launched as ProWine China in 2013, the event celebrated its 10th anniversary this year after postponement due to the pandemic in 2022.

Decanter has exhibited with Decanter World Wine Awards medal winners at the trade fair since its first edition this year seeing its biggest showcase to date with 41 award-winning wines showcased from the 2023 and 2022 competitions.

At the 2023 edition, over 660 exhibitors from 32 countries and regions participated in the three-day event, attracting a total of 27,363 trade attendees an 81.7% growth from the previous edition.

Decanter stand at ProWine Shanghai 2023

Attendees tasting DWWA 2022 & 2023 award-winning wines at the Decanter stand at ProWine Shanghai 2023

The Decanter stand showcased 32 wines from eight countries: China, France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Austria, Greece and Australia.

The line-up covered red and white wines of different styles to display the diversity and quality of wines recognised and endorsed by Decanter World Wine Awards in the 2022 and 2023 competitions, including two Best in Show, one Platinum, 10 Gold, 14 Silver and five Bronze medals.

Scroll down to see all DWWA-awarded wines showcased

Celebrating DWWA’s 20th anniversary, Decanter also teamed up with one of China’s leading wine experts Professor Li Demei, a DWWA judge, columnist and director of enology engineering at Beijing University of Agriculture, to present a masterclass which featured some of the top Asian wines from the 2023 competition.

Professor Li Demei presenting a selection of awarded Asian wines from DWWA 2023 to a full masterclass.

Over 60 Chinese wine professionals joined the masterclass, which included a review of the history of the world’s largest wine competition and an introduction to the rules of entry and scoring system before Professor Li guided attendees through a tasting of nine award-winning wines from DWWA 2023, including:

Sula Vineyards, Brut, Nashik, Maharashtra, India NV
Bronze, 88 points

Domaine Xigu, Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Tianshui, Gansu, China (Mainland) 2020
Silver, 91 points

Chateau Summer Land, Mourvedre, Wuwei, Gansu, China (Mainland) 2021
Silver, 94 points

Helan Qingxue Vineyard, Baby Feet Malbec, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2019
Silver, 93 points

Chateau Changyu Castel, Reserva Cabernet Gernischt, Yantai, Shandong, China (Mainland) 2019
Gold, 96 points

Puchang Vineyard, Viaseres Reserve Saperavi, Turpan, Xinjiang, China (Mainland) 2017
Gold, 96 points

Tiansai Vineyards, Skyline of Gobi Grand Reserve Marselan, Yanqi, Xinjiang, China (Mainland) 2017
Gold, 95 points

Chateau Lion, Lion Prince, Fangshan, Beijing, China (Mainland) 2019
Silver, 90 points

Tongtian Winery, Yalu Valley No.1 Icewine, Tonghua, Jilin, China (Mainland) 2019
Silver, 92 points

The nine DWWA 2023 medal-winning wines showcased by Li Demei at Decanter’s ProWine Shanghai masterclass.

Decanter World Wine Awards also sponsored three Prosecco DOCG wines awarded medals at the launch ceremony of the Chinese edition of “The Power of Terroir: the Case Study of Prosecco Wine,” translated by Professor Li Demei.

With help from Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco, the awarded wines included:

Masottina, Contrada Granda Extra Dry, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG NV
DWWA 2023 Bronze, 89 points

Ruggeri, Giustino B. Extra Dry, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG 2021
DWWA 2023 Bronze, 89 points

Bellenda, San Fermo Brut, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG 2020
DWWA 2021 Bronze, 89 points

Li Demei presenting ‘The Power of Terroir’ masterclass which included three DWWA-awarded Prosecco wines.

ProWine Shanghai: DWWA 2022 & 2023 awarded wines showcased on the Decanter stand


Chandon, Brut, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) NV
DWWA 2022 Gold, 95 points

Masottina, Contrada Granda Extra Dry, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore, Veneto, Italy NV
DWWA 2023 Bronze, 89 points


Weinkellerei Lenz Moser, Grüner Veltliner, Kremstal, Niederösterreich, Austria 2021
DWWA 2022 Silver, 92 points

Plaimont, Echo Indigo, IGP Côtes de Gascogne, Southwest France, France 2022
DWWA 2023 Gold, 95 points

Château St-Jacques D’albas, Albas, Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon, France 2021
DWWA 2022 Silver, 91 points

Constantia Glen, Two Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon, Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa 2021
DWWA 2023 Silver, 93 points

Attis Bodega Y Viñedos, Nana, Rías Baixas, Spain 2021
DWWA 2023 Silver, 93 points

Attis, Nana Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2019
DWWA 2022 Gold, 96 points

Attis, Embaixador Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain 2018
DWWA 2022 Platinum, 97 points

Attis Bodega Y Viñedos, Coribante, Rías Baixas, Spain 2018
DWWA 2023 Bronze, 88 points

Pernod Ricard Ningxia, Helan Mountain Premium Collection Chardonnay, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2017
DWWA 2022 Gold, 96 points

Gustave Lorentz, Vieilles Vignes Riesling, Grand Cru Altenberg-de-Bergheim, Alsace, France 2019
DWWA 2023 Best in Show, 97 points

Plaimont, Elia Colombard, IGP Côtes de Gascogne, Southwest France, France 2022
DWWA 2023 Bronze, 87 points


Petit Mont, Petit Mont Dunkelfelder 2020, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2020
DWWA 2022 Bronze, 86 points

Martinez Lacuesta, La Sucursal, Rioja, Spain 2020
DWWA 2022 Silver, 91 points

Martínez Lacuesta, Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2012
DWWA 2022 Gold, 96 points

Martinez Lacuesta, Felix Martinez Lacuesta, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain 2015
DWWA 2022 Silver, 90 points

Alpha Estate, Single Vineyard Hedgehog Xinomavro, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece 2019
DWWA 2022 Gold, 95 points

Alpha Estate, Ecosystem Xinomavro Reserve Vieilles Vignes Single Block Barba Yannis, Amyndeon, Macedonia, Greece 2018
DWWA 2022 Silver, 90 points

Xige Estate, Jade Dove Single Vineyard Cabernet Gernischt, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2018
DWWA 2022 Silver, 90 points

Le Riche Wines, Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, South Africa 2020
DWWA 2023 Best in Show, 97 points

Constantia Glen, Five, Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa 2020
DWWA 2023 Gold, 95 points

Chateau Mihope, Limited Release, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2019
DWWA 2022 Gold, 95 points

Howling Wolves, Howling Wolves Small Batch Cabernet Shiraz, Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia 2018
DWWA 2022 Bronze, 88 points

Tiansai Vineyards, T50 Syrah, Yanqi, Xinjiang, China (Mainland) 2020
DWWA 2023 Gold, 95 points

Chateau Tigerose, Marselan, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2020
DWWA 2022 Gold, 96 points

Chateau Huahao, Family Collection Marselan, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2019
DWWA 2022 Silver, 91 points

Chateau Rong Yuanmei, Hongfangyin Malbec, Helan Mountain East, Ningxia, China (Mainland) 2019
DWWA 2022 Silver, 90 points

Tenute Cisa Asinari Dei Marchesi Di Gresy, Martinenga Gaiun, Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy 2017
DWWA 2022 Silver, 92 points

Sordo, Barolo, Piedmont, Italy 2016
DWWA 2022 Silver, 91 points

Achille Viglione, Durè, Barolo Riserva, Piedmont, Italy 2017
DWWA 2023 Silver, 92 points


Zangdong Treasure, Dameiyong Rose Honey, Tibet, China (Mainland) 2021
DWWA 2022 Silver, 90 points

See all DWWA 2023 results

Related articles

Wine Vision by Open Balkan: Showcasing the quality of Serbia, North Macedonia & Albania

An iconic day: DWWA winners’ table at DFWE

DWWA Italian Masterclass at Chicago’s International Wine Expo with Vinitaly

The post ProWine Shanghai 2023 highlights: A growing DWWA award-winning wine showcase appeared first on Decanter.

Rhône Valley wine tour 2024: Priority access now open Mon, 04 Dec 2023 13:22:21 +0000 We’re heading back to the Rhône Valley with Matt Walls for another excellent wine tour.

Rhone valley wine tour 2024

Premium subscribers get priority access to next year's Rhône Valley wine tour with Matt Walls...

The post Rhône Valley wine tour 2024: Priority access now open appeared first on Decanter.

We’re heading back to the Rhône Valley with Matt Walls for another excellent wine tour.

Rhone valley wine tour 2024

For the third consecutive year, we are heading back to the Rhône Valley for an unforgettable tour of this iconic wine region with our regional expert, Matt Walls.

You can expect some exciting new wineries on the itinerary and impeccable vintages on the wine lists. There’s no denying, these trips just keep getting better.

Priority access is now open for Decanter Premium subscribers only, so take advantage of early access by booking before the general release next week.

The post Rhône Valley wine tour 2024: Priority access now open appeared first on Decanter.

Wine with beef: Expert pairing advice and styles to try Mon, 04 Dec 2023 08:00:48 +0000 wine with beef food pairing

Updated with new wine reviews...

The post Wine with beef: Expert pairing advice and styles to try appeared first on Decanter.

wine with beef food pairing

Six wine styles that pair well with beef:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Grenache or ‘GSM’ blends

  • Malbec

  • Shiraz

  • Aged Nebbiolo (Barolo)

  • Traditional white Rioja

Search Decanter wine reviews to find the perfect bottle

Choosing a wine to drink with roast beef

It’s hard to beat a delicious bottle of red wine with hearty roast beef on a wintry afternoon, whether it’s Christmas Day or simply a relaxed Sunday lunch.

Classic fuller-bodied reds, such as Bordeaux blends led by Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the southern Rhône or Australian Shiraz, are often considered go-to wines that can match the flavour intensity of a roast beef dish.

Yet balance is important in any great wine. A refreshing dose of acidity can work wonders, particularly if you also have a range of trimmings on the dinner table.

A bit of bottle age can bring depth and complexity, too, as Decanter’s Natalie Earl noted after tasting this Château Brane-Cantenac 2010 from the Margaux appellation.

‘It’s showing nice maturity already, with savoury saddle leather spice enhancing red plum and bright cassis fruit – a natural partner for roast beef,’ she said.

Pairing wine with beef also offers plenty of scope for experimenting and personal preference.

If you’re thinking about a more precise wine and beef match, consider the following:

  • cut
  • age
  • cooking time
  • accompaniments.

Surprise the wine connoisseur in your life this Christmas!

Red wine with beef: what makes the cut? 

‘The easiest way to pair wine with beef is to think about matching the flavour intensity of your wine with your beef,’ said Mark Quick, wine director for Hawksmoor steakhouse restaurants.

‘The fat in your cut is where all of the flavour is locked up,’ he told in December 2020.

‘More fat equals more intense beefy flavour. For example, a fillet would be one of the leaner cuts and usually have a very subtle flavour, on the other end of the scale would be a heavily marbled rib-eye.’

Leaner cuts, like fillet or topside, can be beautifully melt-in-the-mouth tender but could also be overpowered by a wine that is too bold.

‘You could be better off going with a lighter and more subtle drop,’ said Quick.

‘For example, a red from the Jura, a Pinot Noir from anywhere, or there are some very good lighter Garnachas [Grenache] coming out of the New and Old world nowadays that work very well too.’ He highlighted Dani Landi, ‘La Uvas de la Ira’, as a particular favourite.

Malbec lovers could look towards fresher styles from Altamira and Gualtallary in Argentina’s Uco Valley, as previously suggested by South American wine expert Patricio Tapia, a Decanter contributor.

A leaner cut of beef served rare or pink might also benefit from a red that puts bright, juicy fruit front and centre, yet still with enough depth to match the flavour of the meat.

Fat and tannin: a match made in heaven

Fattier cuts of beef, such as rump, fore rib and shin, have a deeper flavour than leaner cuts.

Quick said that the higher the fat content of the beef, the higher its capacity to pair with richer wines that have bolder tannins.

Fat content washes away tannin in your mouth and vice-versa, he said. ‘That’s what keeps you coming back for more of both your wine and your steak.’

Drinking Barolo with aged beef

If you’ve gone for dry-aged steak or beef, then think about how long the meat has been aged for.

‘Heavily aged beef possesses a gamey, sometimes cheesy characteristic that marries extremely well with old wines,’ said Quick.

How about wine with a few years of bottle age? ‘An aged Barolo or red Burgundy would be epic,’ said Quick. ‘It could be the perfect excuse to drink that bottle that has been staring at you.’

Sauce may affect your choice of wine to go with beef

Many of the classic sauces with beef hold pretty strong flavour themselves. How about meeting that peppercorn sauce head-on with the peppery notes of a Syrah/Shiraz, for instance?

Roast beef with red wine sauce or jus might work better with a red that showcases riper fruit, while a traditional gravy has more savoury elements to it.

When it comes to sauce, Hawksmoor’s Quick said, ‘Ignore all of my advice about avoiding big, powerful, tannic wines with lean cuts if you are going to pour sauce all over your steak. You are essentially covering your steak in butter or beef fat anyway, so should revert to the advice about fatty steaks in this instance.’

Can you drink white wine with beef?

It might be considered a faux-pas in some circles, but personal taste is important – and several sommeliers say some white wines can work well with beef.

If you’ve got a lovely caramelised crust on your meat then a white wine with nutty flavours can be brilliant, said Quick. ‘Look for extended oxidative ageing,’ he said, suggesting Jura or traditional white Riojas.

He also highlighted Sherry as a potential match here. ‘If that’s what you are into, [it] would work wonders,’ he said.

Oloroso, for example, is a Sherry style known for its nutty complexity.

Tasting notes: Inspiration for pairing wine with beef this Christmas

The wines below have been recently reviewed by Decanter experts.

Related articles

Wine with turkey: A food pairing guide

Wine with pork: Advice on great pairings

The 10 rules of food and wine pairing by Karen MacNeil

The post Wine with beef: Expert pairing advice and styles to try appeared first on Decanter.

Regional profile: Abruzzo plus 10 wines to seek out Mon, 04 Dec 2023 07:24:29 +0000 Abruzzo
Vineyards outside the fortified hilltop town of Capestrano, on the edge of the Gran Sasso national park in L’Aquila province.

This region and its wines should be better known, insists Alessandra Piubello...

The post Regional profile: Abruzzo plus 10 wines to seek out appeared first on Decanter.

Vineyards outside the fortified hilltop town of Capestrano, on the edge of the Gran Sasso national park in L’Aquila province.

Abruzzo is often described as a ‘miniature Italy’: in just a few square kilometres it encapsulates a world of bucolic landscapes, nature, parks, pristine villages, waterfalls, castles and historic cities, offering a blend of tradition and modernity, and is still largely undiscovered by international tourists. The region boasts 130km of coastline; to the north, the beaches are flat and sandy, while the southern area known as the Costa dei Trabocchi (trabocchi are traditional fishing platforms) has long stretches of rocky cliffs.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for 10 Abruzzo wines in a range of styles

Geographically, this is central Italy. The regional capital, L’Aquila, is an hour and a half by car from Rome (120km) and one hour (100km) from Pescara’s international airport on the Adriatic coast. It’s a region of incredible variety and contrasts, with a vast range of soil composition and climate conditions, and striking biodiversity.

The natural landscape is mostly untouched and, with three national parks, one regional park and numerous other protected nature reserves, Abruzzo has earned itself a well-deserved reputation as ‘the green region of Europe’.

Pick and mix: Piubello’s 10 Abruzzo wines to showcase the region’s styles

Related articles

East coast Italy: Marche, Abruzzo & Molise

Discovering Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: 40 wines tasted and rated

A taste of Italy in London

The post Regional profile: Abruzzo plus 10 wines to seek out appeared first on Decanter.

Expert's choice: Franciacorta Mon, 04 Dec 2023 07:18:34 +0000 Franciacorta wines
Vines near the town of Iseo, on the southern shore of Lake Iseo.

Federico Moccia recommends 18 personal favourites from Lombardy’s premium sparkling wine region...

The post Expert's choice: Franciacorta appeared first on Decanter.

Franciacorta wines
Vines near the town of Iseo, on the southern shore of Lake Iseo.

Franciacorta, a small DOCG wine region in Lombardy, 70km east of Milan, is uniquely positioned at the foothills of the Italian Alps. Its vineyards benefit from a warm continental climate, moderated by nearby lake Iseo and sheltered by the mountains. The gentle, southwest-facing slopes of Monte Orfano further provide an ideal environment for grapes to ripen while maintaining acidity, contributing to the distinctive and complex character of Franciacorta’s wines.

Scroll down for Federico Moccia’s pick of 18 Franciacorta wines to try

Federico Moccia’s pick of the best 18 Franciacorta wines

Related articles

Franciacorta: six top producers to know

Best offbeat sparkling: 15 wines to try

Italy’s finest white wines: 20 top bottles, region by region

The post Expert's choice: Franciacorta appeared first on Decanter.

International Cabernet Franc day: The best bottles to celebrate with Mon, 04 Dec 2023 07:01:31 +0000

The bottles worth seeking out to celebrate...

The post International Cabernet Franc day: The best bottles to celebrate with appeared first on Decanter.


December 4th is International Cabernet Franc Day, honouring one of the wine world’s most important, yet often understated, red grape varieties.

Although frequently found in the shadows of the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc has an equally big, if not bigger, role to play in the world of viticulture.

In addition to parenting Cabernet Sauvignon (in conjunction with Sauvignon Blanc), Cabernet Franc is also a parent variety to Merlot and Carménère.

The grape finds its origins in Bordeaux, where it is growing in cultivation today. While Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot tend to dominate the blends here, Cabernet Franc is a frequent second fiddle in both Left Bank and Right Bank blends.

Outside of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc is one of the main players in the Loire Valley, where it is often bottled as a monovarietal wine. Here, the grape tends to create light to medium-bodied wines laden with flavours of red fruit, green bell pepper, and earth.

Beyond France, Cabernet Franc is finding significant footing in Argentina, and northern Italy.

Scroll down to see award-winning Cabernet Franc wines from DWWA 2023

On the vine, Cabernet Franc boasts thin, bluish-black skins and is earlier ripening than Cabernet Sauvignon. The grape thrives in cooler climates; when grown in chillier areas, Cabernet Franc-based wines will have lighter bodies and earthier / greener notes, whereas wines produced in warmer areas will show jammier, more fruit-driven flavours. Wines produced from Cabernet Franc often show notes of raspberry, red currants, forest floor, black pepper, green bell pepper, and earth. Acidity is generally medium to high and tannins are present yet approachable.

When produced at the hands of great winemakers, well-made expressions of Cabernet Franc can withstand decades in the cellar. For ageworthy expressions of Cabernet Franc, looking to legendary producers from Saumur, Chinon, and Saumur-Champigny is a great place to start.

Here is a selection of the best performing single varietal Cabernet Franc wines from around the world at Decanter World Wine Awards 2023 to better understand what this grape is all about. Discover more at

International Cabernet Franc Day: Single varietal awarded wines to try 


Fattoria Villa Saletta, 980 AD, Toscana, Tuscany 2018
Best in Show, 97 points
Has Cabernet Franc’s time finally come? It’s noticeable that in many areas outside its Loire Valley and Bordeaux heartlands, the ‘other Cabernet’ is winning friends and setting down roots in a variety of distinguished terroirs, often to impressive effect. This characterful Tuscan version appealed to our judges – for the best of reasons: it’s Tuscan style rather than varietal style you’ll find here. The variety simply provides a new range of expressive possibilities for the place. This wine is dark, dense black-red in colour, with complex aromas in which almost apothecary fruits mingle with root spice and a forest-like scents of earth and twig. The wine is sombre, dark and dense in flavour, and its balance and intrinsic richness compel, sip after sip; the finish is subtle, despite its generosity. The wine will age well, and perform admirably at table, too. Alcohol 14%


Bodega Antucura, Single Vineyard Tani Cabernet Franc, Vista Flores, Tunuyán, Mendoza 2020
Gold, 95 points
Expressive and beautiful nose showing leafy freshness, elegant notes of green bell pepper and ripe cherries. Soft and well resolved tannins. Characterful long finish. Alc 14.3%

Bodega Renacer, Cabernet Franc, Mendoza 2020
Gold, 95 points
The nose displays aromas of green bell pepper, with pure red fruit aromas and minty black plums, seasoned by hints of tobacco and herbs. Sandy textured tannins. Alc 14%

Bodega Zuccardi, Brazos De Los Andes Cabernet Franc, Uco Valley, Mendoza 2022
Gold, 95 points
A skilfully crafted wine with beguilingly aromatic blueberry fruit, violet perfumes and some peppery spice. The palate has more plum and blueberry fruits with an attractive, spicy core; palpable yet refined tannins. Alc 14%


Gorun Winery, Reserve Cabernet Franc, Pleven, Northern Region – Danubian Plain 2020
Gold, 95 points
A concentrated, serious and complex example with black plums, well-integrated oak, sleek tannins, a bright beam of tingling acidity and a really, long and elegant finish. Rather stylish. Alc 14.3%


Kacaba, Signature Series Reserve Cabernet Franc, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario – Niagara Peninsula 2020
Gold, 95 points
Opulent, plush and inviting, with aromas of lush dark cherry, cocoa, dark berry , liquorice and espresso, while the textured palate is graced with blackberry, spice and well managed tannins. Alc 14.9%

Thirty Bench, Small Lot Cabernet Franc, Beamsville Bench, Ontario – Niagara Peninsula 2020
Gold, 95 points
Fragrant and perfumed, with pretty red currant, mint, chocolate and blackberry aromatics lead to a herbaceous palate graced with textured, intense fruit, leafy notes and lovely, well managed textured tannins. Alc 13.9%


Terra Slavonia, Apolitico Cabernet Franc, Slavonija, Continental 2021
Gold, 95 points
An exciting, well-made, silky wine with violet, red and black fruit aromas. It has a concentrated palate of dark fruits and beautiful acidity with touches of mint and spice. Long, elegant finish. Superb! Alc 13.5%


Château De Chaintres, Clos Des Oratoriens, Saumur-Champigny, Loire 2020
Platinum, 97 points
A dazzling core of intense cassis and blackberry aromatics with an opulent, mouthwatering texture and a rich, juicy ripe fruit concentration. Beautifully elegant with a soft cushion of velvet tannins and a long, beguiling finish. Alc 14.5%

Domaine Grosbois, Clôture, Chinon, Loire 2018
Gold, 96 points
A superb concentration of black briary fruit, raspberries and smoky plums; lovely and refreshing with a delicate acidity, alluring tannins and a long, elegant finish. Alc 14%

Donatien Bahuaud, Les Boires, Chinon, Loire 2019
Gold, 95 points
Myriad juicy black and red plum fruit on the nose and palate with a mouthfilling complexity, velvety tannins and a long, spicy finish. Great value. Alc 13%

Search all DWWA 2023 results

DWWA 2024 banner

Related articles

The sommelier suggests… Cabernet Franc by Giuseppe D’Aniello

Loire harvest report 2023: A complicated vintage

The Wine Society: Best buys this winter

The post International Cabernet Franc day: The best bottles to celebrate with appeared first on Decanter.

Wine to 5: Queena Wong, wine connector Mon, 04 Dec 2023 07:00:28 +0000 Qeena Wong holding up a glass of red wine in assessment

Inside a professional’s everyday life...

The post Wine to 5: Queena Wong, wine connector appeared first on Decanter.

Qeena Wong holding up a glass of red wine in assessment

Queena Wong, a prominent London wine collector, is the leader of Curious Vines – a UK-based supportive community of wine industry women that cultivates connectivity and female visibility via inclusive events, member-led newsletters and pioneering education support programmes. She was named Connector of the Year in 2023’s CODE Hospitality Women of the Year Awards.

In what way are you a wine connector?

I love putting people together. I do this within the wine industry, with collectors and also for broader hospitality. I allow the young to access the experienced, pull wine students together to have study buddies, create new social circles for consumer collectors or raise the profiles of somms further into the hospitality world. My friendships are diverse so I ‘bash’ people together who would not normally meet in their usual circles and can create incredible panels to inspire the next gen. The 360-degree nature of my own address book means combinations are endless.

What led you to it?

People are either natural connectors or not. It’s a desire to help others which drives connectors, rather than a particular experience.

What’s the best thing about your work?

The gratitude from the people I have helped and now how I can use all the connections to make an impact for good. I’m teaching a new way of operating that sharing is better than old-school turf protecting, akin to JFK’s quote, ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. It allows people to build a personal boardroom by having their own varied support network to seek opinion, bounce ideas and solve problems.

What’s the most common misconception about what you do?

That I am anti-men and aggressive. I have many male friends and many who actively support what I do and help me navigate the tricky arena around gender equity. Standing firm with values and principles also seems to make me suddenly an aggressive feminist. Couldn’t be further from the truth – I hate conflict.

Also people often get confused about my roles. I am a hybrid wine person, being both a collector and a champion of hospitality as well an advocate for gender equity. It is hard work juggling them – these seemingly different spheres help each other so it has to happen together.

What’s your greatest achievement?

Creating the first UK Women in Wine Survey. Having built a female community with incredible job and age/experience diversity, it provided me with a resource pool I could reach into to assist in its construct, and the size fuelled meaningful participation.

And your greatest mistake?

Not knowing when to stop giving to others due to my lack of boundaries and not demanding value to my contributions. This has resulted in my being taken advantage of.

Do you think women still face more hurdles in the wine industry today?

Of course, though the lack of equity for women in the workforce is no different to any other industry. In addition to needing equity addressed, wine being an alcohol also places greater risks to women’s safety. I feel positive that progressive companies will start looking at the sustainability of female resource and work towards dealing with both the equity for career advancement and their safety.

What advice do you give women about how to raise their profile?

Learn to be proud of your achievements and tell others about them. Self-promotion is not boasting and the more you do it, the more your self-confidence grows. If your friends or colleagues struggle to do this, then cheerlead for them until they can take their first steps to do it on their own.

Related articles

Wine to 5: Ailsa Chambers, grape picker

Wine to 5: Chris Ashton

Wine to 5: Michael Baynes, vineyard transaction specialist

The post Wine to 5: Queena Wong, wine connector appeared first on Decanter.