on Nov 19, 2010
Key Account Manager Ben Austin gives us an insight behind 3 Commercial Exclusive Pinot Grigio's - a must-have for any wine list...
The battle for middle earth has begun! With 3 epic Pinot Grigio’s fighting for glory. At 3 different price points, they each have individual strengths. The proportion of UK wine drinkers buying Pinot Grigio has increased by 30% over the past 3 years; however the quality within our range has continued to beat off the competition with a large spear like weapon (the sort of weapon Aragon would use!). Our brave warriors are:
60% Garganega; 40% Pinot Grigio
Alfredini would be like the pawn on a chess board, it’s the front line, ready to take the hit from enemy forces. It’s very much a pouring Pinot Grigio, able to satisfy different tastes. This wine has a fresh, floral nose, with melon and pear tones. On the palate there is an underlying acidity, and classic crisp, zesty lemon and limes flavours. It also has a unique richness imposed by the inclusion of Garganega, which is the grape of Soave wines. In conclusion the Alfredini is a brilliant, drinking wine at a price that is extremely competitive.
100% Pinot Grigio
Malandrino would be the second line of defence, the Archers, nimble, agile with pin-point accuracy. It has an enticing floral, perfumed and white flower aroma on the nose and is very much the classic Pinot Grigio on the palate, showing crisp, zesty, citrus notes. It is very much a wine that serves a purpose. People who enjoy a wide range of styles will enjoy this Pinot Grigio.
100% Pinot Grigio
San Giorgio would be the heavy artillery, trundling along smashing through everything in its path. With an intense freshness, zingy lemongrass, citrus and floral aromas this wine is a Pinot Grigio drinkers Pinot. Yet, on the palate, it disguises itself with crisp, elegant honeysuckle and citrus flavours. Lying, waiting to attack with its delicious stone fruit finish.
Furthermore the prices of these brave souls, standing tall with their screw caps held high, are at levels of which you would be able to offer your customer excellent value for money. Contact your Account Manager for further details.
on Nov 17, 2010
Majestic Commercial's Senior Account Manager Ian Cuthbert briefs us on some of this seasons fantastic Champagne offers...
With the festive party season just around the corner it is time to start making that difficult decision on which fizz you plan to serve to impress your guests.
With a wide range of styles, brands and price points to choose from I have put together a couple of suggestions that will guarantee your party is a hit!
Laurent Perrier NV
£21.28 excluding VAT
The largest family run Champagne House, Laurent Perrier’s house style is one of freshness, elegance and balance. The dominant grape variety is Chardonnay which exhibits aromas of citrus and white fruit. The rounded and expressive fruit flavours makes this classy Champagne the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to Canapés. On offer at £21.28 ex-VAT (until 31st January 2011; thereafter returning to £29.79 ex-VAT) this Grande Marque Champagne offers genuine quality and value, giving any festive occasion a feeling of luxury and style.
Buy Laurent Perrier NV here
Jacquart Brut NV
£12.77 excluding VAT
Accounting for 8% of the entire production in the Champagne region Jacquart is an up and coming Champagne house which offers real value without any compromise on quality. With a nose of pear and freshly baked bread, the palate is enhanced by an elegant mousse with a good length of citrus and gingerbread flavours. This fresh, crisp and lively Champagne punches well above its weight this Christmas with an offer price of £12.77 ex-VAT (until 31st January 2011; thereafter returning to £21.28 ex-VAT).
Buy Jacquart Brut NV here
on Nov 17, 2010
Further to our blog post about the Majestic Commerical team's recent visit to Italy, Ben Nicholl talks to us about the wineries themselves. Third and final leg of the trip was to Cantina Valpolicella di Negrar...
After two days of predominantly drinking Pinot Grigio, Vespaiolo, Prosecco and Peroni Nastro Azzurro it was time to travel from Breganze to Valpolicella to learn about some serious reds.
The Cantina Valpolicella di Negrar was founded in 1933 and their original mission, which still stands today, was to help the small grape growers within the valley of Negrar to work together for mutual benefit and to improve the cultivation of vines and production of wine.
Today it advises and co-ordinates the activities of around 200 grape growers across a total of 500 hectars, all located on the hillsides of the Valpolicella Classico region to the north west of Verona.
The Cantina di Negrar is set up to handle all stages of production for the grapes it takes in, including fermentation in small batches, maturation and ageing, and finally the bottling process.
The Majestic Tour
Our visit started at in the bottling plant. The hi tech equipment will bottle up to 7,000 bottles per hour. During the time we spent at the Cantina over 10,000 litres of Valpolicella went in at one end and 24 shrink wrapped pallets of wine in six packs came out at the other end ready for export to the UK market. Whilst we witnessed over 10,000 bottles going through the production line, the total annual production is over 6 million bottles, of which 75% is exported.
The corner stone of the range are four wines and like any great wine producing area it’s a combination of grapes, soil, climate and the wine making process that give them their distinctive style.
Starting with the same three grapes it is the winemaking process that shapes the wines.
Corvina - 40% to 70% of the blend
Rondinella - 25 to 40% of the blend
Molinara - 5% to 15% of the blend
And it is from these grape varieties that the four key wines from Cantina di Negrar are made.
VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO DOC
Matured in stainless steel vats, the Valpolicella Classico is medium-bodied and well balanced.
It is a typical Italian red and a fine companion to both the chicken pappardelle and mushroom risotto that we ate at the restaurant in Negrar.
AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO DOC
Amarone is one of Italy’s greatest wines and one that is the peak of expression of the Valpolicella area: a blend of land, tradition and human input. Grapes are picked by hand, normally around the first ten days of October. A further selection of healthy whole bunches are laid out in crates or on straw mats to dry for 120 days. This "appassimento" process shrivels the grapes and concentrates sugars, colour and flavour. The dried grapes are de-stemmed and pressed in early February. Maturation takes place in oak for 18 months using both 225 litre French barriques (Allier and Nevers oak) and 50 hectolitre casks. A further 6 months ageing in bottle before release.
With 15% alcohol it’s full-bodied, rich and backed by structured, yet velvety tannins.
VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO SUPERIORE "RIPASSO"
Like the Valpolicella Classico this wine is stored in stainless steel vats but Amarone skins are added for a second fermentation or "Ripasso" with maceration for 15 days. The wine is transferred to barrels for 24 months. Minimum of 6 months in bottle before release.
A combination of the "Ripasso" process and extra ageing creates a well balanced, full-bodied red that’s velvet-smooth with harmonious tannins.
RECIOTO DELLA VALPOLICELLA CLASSICO DOC
The grapes to make this sweet red wine are also laid out in crates or on straw mats to dry for 120 days.
The resulting wine has an intensely fruity and fragrant bouquet with generous sweet flavours and velvety tannins. It’s traditionally served with local cakes and biscuits; it can also be matched with dark chocolate and creamy blue cheese.
It’s the drying process that makes the wine unique and a fair amount of the fabulous winery is dedicated to the "appassimento" process.
However the birth of Amarone was thanks to a 'lucky oversight' in 1938 when Gaetano Dall’Ora, one of founder of Cantina Valpolicella di Negrar, and the cellar master tasted from a vat of Recioto that they had forgotton to rack.
Both expected the wine to taste like vinegar, but instead they found a new style of wine – no longer sweet but robust and full flavoured, yet elegant.
In this forgotten cask, the traditionally sweet wine of Verona had undergone a complete fermentation, turning the sugars into alcohol and the Recioto had been transformed into something altogether different; deep, powerful and with a note of bitterness.
It had become true Amarone and it is today the most prestigious wine of this part of Italy and lies very much at the heart of Cantina Valpolicella di Negrar identity.
on Nov 16, 2010
Further to our blog post about the Majestic Commerical team's recent visit to Italy, Ben Nicholl talks to us about the wineries themselves. Day 2 of their Italian wine tour took them to Cantina Breganze...
Cantina Beato Bartolomeo, or Breganze to you and I is a passionate co-operative with over 900 members. Named after a 13th century Dominican monk, Beato Bartolomeo, it was formed by 121 local growers in 1950.
Breganze can be found in the heart of the historical Veneto region. The vineyards are scattered through the beautifully undulating landscape at the foot of the Asiago Plateau. Winemaking has dominated the area for over 1000 years.
Beato Bartolomeo produces an impressive 3 million bottles each year and accounts for 70% of all Breganze DOC production.
The impressive winery we visited was expanded in 1970 to house 260 oak barrels in an excavated cellar 15 metres underground. The winery has since expanded further with a much grater presence of stainless steel tanks required to meet the demands for the in fashion Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.
The one thing that seemed obvious when viewing the site was the organisation of not only the cellars but also the bottling line and the warehouse. Although the production here is high, it is less than half the size of Botter. Although their planning and passion for the product was immense.
This passion came through in spades when we visited one of the local co-operative members. Most of the members own less than a hectare of vines, and produce wine for love rather than for money.
The vines were guyot trained and many different varieties were grown. The one thing that amazed all of us was how changes in soil can affect production in such a small area. One row of vines lay on two different soil types, one side was rich volcanic and on the other clay. As soon as the vines reached the clay they were half the size and likely to yield little or no fruit. This was an instant demise from one vine to the next.
Cherry trees are in abundance in Veneto, which really comes across in the red wines that we tried. Beato Bartolomeo offer a large range of different wines at varying quality levels, starting with petrol pump style house wines up to some incredibly rich and aromatic desert wines.
One of the things that surprised me was the large presence of sparkling wine in their range. As well as Prosecco and Pinot Bianco sparkling, the grape that stood out most was Vespaiolo, a grape indigenous to the area. We tried this in both still and sparkling form, the sparkling winning the most praise, with its intense floral and citrus flavours and mouth-watering acidity.
Interestingly both Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are grown here, however another local grape stood out on the reds. Marzemino is produced in small quantities and oak aged to give a very round soft wine with the typical dark cherry flavours oozing through.
The best however was yet to come. Torcolato, a local desert wine produced from the Vespaiolo stole the show. The best grapes are separated and twisted round string and hung from the roof to dry out until the New Year. The grapes shrink to 40% of their original size before being pressed, fermented and matured in French oak for 2 years. It offers wonderful aromas of honey, apple and vanilla, balanced with excellent acidity and a fantastic length.
The wines offered from Beato Bartolomeo, were both good quality and good value. These wines coupled with the fantastic scenery and warm culture that we came face to face with made Breganze a truely enjoyable trip. See Breganze wines at Majestic here.
Final visit coming up... Cantina Valpolicella di Negrar.
on Nov 16, 2010
Further to our blog post about the Majestic Commerical team's recent visit to Italy, Ben Nicholl talks to us about the wineries themselves. The first destination on their Italian wine tour was to Vini Botter...
The first stop on our Italy trip was Botter and after a bit of a struggle to get there we finally arrived at our destination in Fossalta di Piave. We were met by Rebecca who is in charge of customer care for us Brits.
Botter was founded in 1928 by Carlo Botter. The company started as a retailer to restaurants and smaller retails in cask, only in the 50’s when the 2nd generation of the Botter took control of the winery did they start bottling wines. The company is now run by 3rd generation Botter’s. The company now exports 98% of its production and exports to over 50 countries. Last year Botter turned over 77 million euro and sold around 41.1 million bottles.
After the tour of the winery we went back to their tasting room and met Giovanni Botter and Alessandro Botter.
We then tasted our range of wine with them:
Prosecco Corte Alta
Made from 100% Prosecco this wine has been cellared for 2 years. The colour is a straw shade of yellow with well balanced fruit flavours of apples and pineapple.
Food match: Excellent with vegetable or seafood starters, risotto and light fish dishes also ideal as an aperitif.
This product will be dropping the name Prosecco due to new laws in Italy, however the product will be remaining the same.
Made from 55% Prosecco and 45% Raboso. It has a elegant and intense bouquet with a dry, soft and well-balanced palate which is round and full in structure.
Food match: Perfect as an aperitif but also great with fish soups, grilled fish and courses based on mushrooms.
Pinot Grigio Malandrino
Harvested in the first part of September this wine is made in a light easy drinking style. Almost water white in colour with citrus flavours on the palate with a dry finish.
Food match: Excellent with fish soup, grilled fish. Perfect with lasagne made with Cuttlefish and prawn sauce.
Alfredini Garganega/ Pinot Grigio
Light green in colour, it has a fruity bouquet typical of Pinot Grigio, it is surprisingly full-bodied on the palate with a floral fruit character. It has good structure with a strong backbone of refreshing acidity, this is a flexible wine.
Food match: Ideal as an aperitif but also with light pasta salads and grilled fish.
Torre Alta Pinot Grigio Rose
Blended with a bit of Merlot this Rose is fresh in style with sweet violet notes on the nose and ripe fruit on the palate.
Food Match: Light fish dishes and salads.
Bacaro Sangiovese/ Rubicone
This medium bodied wine has a pleasant, fresh bouquet with aromas of dark cherry and plum. Very easy on the palate with light tannins and a smooth finish.
Food match: Well-matched for the flavors of chicken, red meat, fish, lamb, pork, pastas, stews or well-aged cheeses.
Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo
Deep, ruby-red colour with violet highlights and a pleasant and fruity bouquet on the palate. The finish of this wine is full-bodied with soft tannins and good acidity.
Food match: Ideal with pasta courses and red meat.
More to follow... The Commercial team visit Cantina Breganze next...
on Nov 15, 2010
At Majestic we are all passionate about wine and we strive to give our customers the best possible service and benefit from the wealth of knowledge of our staff. Our commercial team recently went to visit some of Majestic's Italian wine producers and Commercial Sales Manager, Ben Nicholl tells us how they got on...
On arrival at Marco Polo airport we jumped into our hire car and headed off to Fossalta di Piave, a town 40 miles north of Venice to commence our wine tasting extraordinaire.
First up on our wine tour was a visit to Botter in Fossalta di Piave. Maybe somewhat naively, I hadn’t imagined that Chief Botter would make a grand entrance at our lunch venue in a Maserati and within minutes be telling risqué jokes to break the ice. Despite the area’s proximity to Venice, the surrounds of the Botter winery were far enough away from the tourist track to warrant menus to be printed only in Italian. Despite it being my 18th trip to Italy the options made no sense and the consensus of opinion pointed to Mr Botter choosing the best offerings of this region for all.
Beautifully fresh mozzarella and an unbelievably pure extra-virgin olive oil were the highlights of the starter, with ravioli to follow and then an incredibly flavoured veal dish after that. Italian wines are intended to accompany food and here they did that perfectly. Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and - maybe somewhat surprisingly for this area - a Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied the 3 dishes perfectly. After a kick-starting espresso we followed a previously unheard of tradition where the espresso cup in washed out with grappa – the grappa is then drunk straight from the espresso cup.
Lido di Jesolo
Returning to the town of Lido di Jesolo where we were staying for the night our evening meal did not quite follow in the style of lunch. Left to our own devices in Lido di Jesolo we found an establishment offering pizzas and beer...
It became apparent that Jesolo was effectively a German colony – a “towels on sunbeds at dawn” type of affair. The colour scheme made it feel like the hotel had been constructed out of Lego – not necessarily a criticism, just an observation. The hospitality was friendly and warm.
For morning coffee we descended upon a local café we were amazed by the difference in quality of a coffee from an Italian plaza to one in a mock Italian café in the UK. It set us up for what transpired to be a long day ahead.
It is my belief that the intention of a GPS/Sat Nav is to remove any uncertainty from a journey. No more maps. The journey from Jesolo to Breganze seemed to confuse the Sat Nav, however, it spent the first hour of the journey positioning us in fields and recalculating our route. After 4 three-point turns we resorted to more traditional paper-based methods which resulted in greater success.
After a perfect afternoon wandering the winery and vineyards of Cantina Breganze we arrived at our accommodation. A 16th century monastery conversion located amongst hectares of vines. The Italian government offers a grant to encourage the redevelopment of run-down buildings with the majority of these projects resulting in visitor accommodation. Between us we were given the matrimonial suite, a tasteful new ‘motel-esq’ section and a wing of the converted monastery. We all shared a glass of Prosecco with the owner, Stefano. Stefano spoke no English and we no Italian, yet we somehow agreed that the World Cup would result in an Italy v England final!
A steep road climb to a hilltop was a most spectacular restaurant located inside a ruined castle near the home of superbike champion Valentino Rossi.
Once again we allowed our hosts to choose our meal. It appeared that the restaurant had a glut of asparagus as it was asparagus which seemed to feature in each course to some degree. Even an amuse bouche of asparagus puree, with scrambled egg and crispy pancetta!
Gioseppe and Paula from Cantina Breganze ordered a feast which included dishes of octopus, finocchio (fennel), risotto (with asparagus of course), lamb and rabbit, all cooked to local recipes and presented by an eccentric Egyptian.
Vespaiolo had been the clear winner in the winery earlier in the day showing an aromatic quality along with notes of green apple. It was this varietal that accompanied the opening courses of the meal, in both sparkling and still form. Its aromatic nature complemented the food perfectly. As we moved on to the meat dishes, a deeply intense red produced from the Marzemino grape was brought out. Aged in Slavonian oak barrels, this wine showed rounded berry fruits but also an added complexity from the ageing process.
Despite the clock ticking past midnight, we descended after dinner to the medieval town below. The temperate climate ensured we could sit outside a café and enjoy a further beverage – a Spritz. Aperol (a close relation to Campari) was mixed with soda and other things to which I have no clue what they were. Some found this pretty refreshing, others disgusting.
We needed to hit Negrar by 9.30am and so we were all up bright and early. The monastery’s resident Nescafe coffee machine meant that the previous morning’s coffee went unrivalled in terms of quality. I thought monks had better standards….
After two days for drinking predominantly Pinot Grigio, Vespaiolo, Prosecco and Peroni Nastro Azzurro it was time to travel to Valpolicella and learn about some serious reds.
We were promised a light lunch after our trip around the Negrar winery. Light lunches like this I could get used to!
Pappardelle (a broad ribbon-shaped pasta) was served with an incredible sauce in which lay chicken and turkey. This was followed by a mushroom risotto. Both courses were accompanied by an Amarone which whilst intense did not overpower the food. This "light" lunch was finished with cinnamon ice cream and cherries.
The journey back to Marco Polo airport involved a repetitive noise which we believed to be a speed camera warning from the Sat Nav. On arrival at the airport some 2 hours later it transpired that the noise was a warning that the car door had been open for the entire journey!
This trip provided a perfect balance - bringing suppliers to life, enabling members of the team to enhance knowledge to pass onto and advise our customers, whilst being relaxed enough to have a great time with laughter throughout.