The snow we had yesterday that covers the hills outside my window are a clear indicator that we should stay inside and read. About wine, for example. Maybe even with a nice glass of wine on the side. To satisfy this wonderful desire, we cannot provide you with the liquid, but at least we can provide you with our customary round-up of weekly wine news entitled the JollyCellarMaster Weekly:
Fair Warnings, New Sherry and Island Treasures
The mother of all charity wine auctions
Every year, on the third Sunday of November, an event takes place in the heart of Burgundy that could be described as the mother of all wine charity auctions. We are, of course, talking about the auction of the Hospices de Beaune, the former charitable hospital and almshouse.
The institution was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Roulin, back in the day chancellor to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, shortly after the end of the Hundred Years’ War, which had left large parts of Central Europe in disarray.
Following three days of festivities called the Trois Glorieuses that celebrate the food and wine of the region, the auction took place for the first time in 1859. At stake are barrels of 228 litres – the traditional Burgundian piece – containing the wines from the latest harvests from vineyards the Hospices have accumulated over the centuries that consist also some very fine Premier Cru and Grand Cru across the Cote d’Or.
In most cases the wines are a cuvée from different parcels and are named after donors like Roulin himself.
While the prices achieved usually are A good indicator where prices in one of the most expensive wine regions of the world are heading, the auction this year has once more outdone itself.
Organised for the second time by the good people of Sotheby’s who took over last year from Christie’s, this year’s charity auction netted almost thirty million Euros (even without the buyer‘s premium), more than doubling the previous record set in 2018 (€14,187,150) for the sale of 802 barrels. The biggest reward, as usual, claimed the ‘Pièce des Présidents’’, which sold for €810,000, beating the record set last year (€800,000) and which is made collectively by a group of Burgundy négociant houses.
New regulations in Andalusia
The annual Sherry week has come to a close on the 13th and one of the most interesting news coming to be found was the talk about the new regulations that were approved in October and now given the all clear by the president of the DO’s Consejo Regulator, Cesar Saldana.
To begin with, we will see an extension of the Ageing Zone of the DO “Jerez-Xérès-Sherry” as the final phase of ageing of the protected wines had to take place in one of the municipalities of what is known as the “Sherry Triangle” (Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar de Barrameda). Not anymore.
There is also more recognition of the “pagos”, the traditional viticultural districts, in the DO´s product specification, the bodegas will have the possibility of indicating on their labels the specific origin of the grapes.
Then the use of other grape varieties traditional to the area will be permitted as in addition to the three varieties authorised until now, it will be permitted to produce the protected wines with other six varieties: Beba, Cañocazo, Mantúo Castellano, Mantúo de Pilas, Perruno and Vigiriega.
There is now the possibility of describing vineyards located in any municipality as “Jerez Superior” as well as the creation of the category “Fino Viejo”.
Sugar levels will be established considering glucose and fructose exclusively, without taking into account other reducing materials, as it was the case until now. A headache for anyone having to memorise the exact amount for, say, an exam…
Also, the use of the term “en rama” will be reserved to wines that are not subjected to clarification or cold stabilisation processes.
One of the biggest headlines was caused by the announcement that wine fortification will not be mandatory if the wines reach naturally the ABV required for each type (15% for finos and manzanillas, 17% for olorosos, etc.).
And lastly, all biologically aged wines form Sanlúcar will be Manzanilla.
Sweet Treasure Island
I usually don’t pick up on what was probably sponsored piece on The drinksbusiness but since it provides so much information on one of the finest sweet wines, I think we can make an exception.
The thing with sweet wines is that everyone loves them but no one seems to buy them anymore. Me included. The one in question is the Passito di Pantelleria made on the small Italian island off the coast of Tunisia. In fact, it’s closer to Tunis than Sicily, which explains its hot climatic conditions – not that Sicilia would automatically make you think of cool climate unless we get into the discussion of Mount Etna wines, but let’s not get carried away.
Made for the Zibibbo grape, which is no other than Muscat d’Alexandrie and takes its name from from the Arabic word ‘zabīb’, which means ‘raisin’. There you already have a clear indication on how the wine is made and some of its main characteristics. Growing on vineyards at sea level and up to 400 metres above, the plants are pruned into low bush vines and are grown in ‘conche’ (hollows) to protect them from the strong winds like the Scirocco that brush over the island.
It comes in three different styles depending on how it is made, i.e. whether dried grapes are included and whether it is then fortified and takes the name liquoroso. Dried in the scolding sun, all three types come with elevated sugar levels and are absolutely delicious. I really ought to head to the cellar and get one…
And that’s already it for today. However, if you have an interesting story to tell or simply want to chat about wine as a guest on the Podcast, connect on Twitter or drop me a line. And if you want to stay in the loop about things happening at the JollyCellarMaster and the world of wine, make sure you sign up to our newsletter.
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