Researchers are concerned about the potential spread of the spotted lanternfly, which first showed up in the US in Pennsylvania five years ago but was found in Virginia vineyards in early 2018.
The brightly-coloured, sap-sucking flies could damage California vineyards, according to UC Riverside, which is trying to get ahead by testing whether a type of ‘sesame seed-sized wasp’ can help.
‘We hope to be ready to release these wasps immediately when the spotted lanternfly shows up, giving us a really strong head start on the invasion,’ said Mark Hoddle, director of the Center for Invasive Species Research at UC Riverside.
The spotted lanternfly has the potential to harm grapevines, as well as some fruit trees.
‘It secretes copious amounts of “honeydew,” a waste product that encourages black, sooty mould and damages a plant’s ability to grow,’ said Hoddle.
UC Riverside said has been granted $544,000 from California’s Department of Food and Agriculture to test whether the tiny wasps, also from China, could be a solution. However, testing will take three years.
The wasps are known to lay their eggs inside those of the lanternflies. Wasp larvae then eat their way out.
UC Riverside said it was also important to test what impact the introduction of the wasps might have on local ecosystems.
Some insecticides have proved effective against the spotted lanternfly, according to the Virginia Vineyards Association.
The flies feed on the so-called ‘tree of heaven’, itself an invasive plant species. One method of trapping the flies is to use one of the trees as bait, before targeting them with insecticide.
There was an almost audible intake of breath in January 2011 when the British financier Charles Harman and the Czech-American investor and entrepreneur Zdenek Bakala bought Klein Constantia. The concern in the Cape was understandable. Both tycoons lived overseas, were unknown quantities and neither had any experience of running a wine estate. In short, nobody quite knew what was going to happen next.
Scroll down to see John Stimpfig’s top six Klein Constantia wines to try
See John Stimpfig’s top six Klein Constantia wines to try
Why visit Okay, so maybe Bodega Garzón doesn’t have 400 years of history or a romantic rags-to-riches story behind it – it was established by a wealthy oil and gas tycoon in 2007 – but this is wine tourism turned up to 11, and a must-visit for any serious foodie.
For starters, the winery itself is gorgeous, and offers everything from tours to tastings, with picnics among the vines and even hot air balloon rides and helicopter tours.
But perhaps best of all, it has Francis Mallmann. Of course, as executive chef, the great man isn’t there very often. But having overseen the menu and trained the team, you get the next best thing, which is to sample the Argentine’s famous ‘fire cooking’ at the winery’s restaurant, which opens from Wednesday to Sunday.
And if you fancy yourself as a gastro/pyromaniac, there’s even a three-hour course where you’ll learn how to use the techniques for yourself. Just make sure you book in advance.
When to visit November/December or February/March. Avoid January – it’s the height of the tourist season.
How to get there Garzón is about 2.5 hours’ drive from Montevideo airport, 160km to the west.
Where is it El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez, Andalucia.
Why visit There’s no shortage of wine tours in Jerez, but if you want something that combines small and traditional with bags of atmosphere, this should be on your list.
Along with the high roofs, dark spaces and slumbering barrels of a nearly 200-year-old Sherry bodega, Gutiérrez Colosía is the closest of all the region’s bodegas to the sea. It also has a restaurant next door that is daringly different. Bespoke is the brainchild of the family’s daughter, Carmen, who has transformed an abandoned space into a stimulating modern ‘Sherry Bar’, with decorations and furnishings made out of repurposed barrels and pallets.
The menu features all the usual Andaluz tapas (lots of seafood) and there’s also a vegan section, which is far less usual for Spain. A Sherry match is suggested for each dish, while the wine list offers 100 or so table wines, including organic, biodynamic and natural.
When to visit Spring – Seville’s big Feria is in April, while the Jerez horse fair is in May.
How to get there You can fly to Jerez via Madrid. Alternatively, it’s a 1.5-hour drive from Seville (120km) or 2.5 hours from Malaga (230km).
Why visit A major player in the Riojan wine landscape, key to Riscal’s success has been its ability to be both traditional and forward-thinking. So it’s not too surprising that, while its wines are respectful of the region’s history, the winery’s modernist hotel appears to have descended from Mars. Frank Gehry designed the famous Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, to the north, and continued here where he’d left off in the Basque capital. With its wavy roof patterns, the Riscal hotel made quite a splash when it opened in 2006.
Today its spa, wine bar and food offering are worth seeking out, with the latter ranging from casual to Michelin-starred.
The winery restaurant’s ‘21 ideas’ menu (€140 per person plus wine) should keep the most demanding foodie happy, and there’s also a 14-course version for €110.
When to visit Spring and summer are good, but try to hit Elciego’s festival in September. Avoid January and February when the hotel carries out its scheduled maintenance work.
How to get there The 140km drive south from Bilbao airport takes between 90 minutes and two hours.
Why visit There have been Leflaives growing grapes and making wine in this neck of the woods for 17 generations. Olivier Leflaive initially pursued a career in TV and radio, before the pull of les vignes became too much and he re-entered the family business.
Staying at the winery’s hotel in Place du Monument, in the heart of Puligny-Montrachet, is the best way to experience what Leflaive wines are about. Walking tours of the vineyards and cellar visits all leave from here, with tastings every day except Sunday. Food-and wine-matching lunches and dinners cost €65 or €95, depending on the number of courses, with the option of paying a ‘grand cru supplement’ to upgrade your wine matches.
When to visit Autumn is a wonderful time, when the vineyards turn golden. The hotel is shut in January.
How to get there Burgundy isn’t the easiest wine region to access, but the hotel/winery is about 170km and less than two hours’ drive from Lyon-St Exupéry airport.
The village overlooking the vineyards of Castello di Volpaia
Where is it Radda in Chianti, Chianti Classico, Tuscany.
Why visit Castello di Volpaia is not really a winery at all – it’s an old medieval ‘borgo’ (village) that was abandoned and has since been repurposed. The result is winery equipment shoe-horned into old halls, churches and buildings, scattered around the hilltop hamlet.
Yes, it’s beautiful; yes, it’s great for Instagram; and yes, the wine is good. But it’s also something of a food hub, too. The bakery knocks out bread, cakes and – of course – pizza on a daily basis, while the Osteria is run by Colombian Juan Camilo Quintero, winner of the Emerging Chef of the Year title in last year’s Gambero Rosso.
If you want to take him on at his own game, the cooking school runs half-day courses that show you how to prepare a typical four-course Tuscan meal.
When to visit Try to coincide your visit with the Radda nel Bicchiere wine festival in June. Avoid winter, as many restaurants and hotels are closed for the season from November until the end of March.
How to get there Volpaia is more or less equidistant from Florence (60km) and Siena (50km) airports, about an hour’s drive from either.
Why visit Husband-and-wife grape-growing and winemaking team Gary and Kathy Jordan are the Cape’s celebrity wine couple, responsible for several decades for some of Stellenbosch’s most reliably good wines. They’ve built up the offerings at their estate to include numerous tour and tasting options, two quality restaurants and, most recently, high-class accommodation.
An open-top Land Rover tour is a great way to take in the beauty of the estate, but the view from the restaurant’s terrace out towards the Stellenbosch Mountains is a good substitute – and gives you more money to spend on chef George Jardine’s food. A former South African Chef of the Year who’s worked under Jean-Christophe Novelli, his food is as effortlessly beautiful as the scenery. Courses in food and wine pairing, cookery and breadmaking are also available.
When to visit Any time from September to April, although spring (October/November) is particularly lovely.
How to get there It’s a 30km drive from Cape Town airport, and just 12km from Stellenbosch.
Relax while exploring the vineyards at Viu Manent. Credit: enco
Why visit Still family owned (Miguel Viu-García emigrated from Catalonia in 1935), this is one of the most visitor-friendly wineries in Chile. You can explore the vineyards on mountain bikes, e-bikes and horse-drawn buggies, while the sunset tour allows you to savour the softening of the light with wines and a picnic.
If you’re more in the mood for a bit of independent vineyard exploration, the ‘picnic’ option is available at any time – though don’t do it at the expense of visiting their eateries. The café is good for light bites, while the Wine & Grill restaurant does simple things well.
Serious foodies should time their visit to coincide with one of the classes run by Chilean chef Pilar Rodriguez, in her food and wine studio. They run all weekend from October to May and include everything from short food- and wine-matching sessions to all-day cookery workshops.
When to visit The climate is fabulous in Chile from October to May. In March, Santa Cruz is home to the Fiesta de la Vendimia (harvest festival).
How to get there It takes about two hours to drive the 180km from Santiago airport.
Why visit Fontanafredda is set up brilliantly for visitors. The winery is lovely, and open for guided tours, though if you just want to taste you can do that too. There’s also a signposted walk through an ancient forest (the ‘Wood of Thoughts’) where you can let your mind wander as you build up an appetite for the serious business of eating.
The Osteria restaurant/wine bar offers hearty local fare, but for a special occasion Michelin-starred Ristorante Guido is a high-class alternative. Expect the likes of rabbit, kid, calves’ tongue and plenty of truffles. There’s a guesthouse here too, so you can make the most of the wine pairings without worrying about driving.
When to visit During truffle season from October to mid-November. Alba’s truffle fair is one of the best in Italy.
How to get there It’s less than two hours’ drive from either Turin or Genoa airports.
Why visit You don’t need a great view to make great wine, but there’s no harm in having one. Elephant Hill winery is on the bottom edge of the crescent-shaped curve of Hawke’s Bay; its vineyards are just a few minutes as the kiwi scutters from the Pacific.
The winery’s restaurant makes the most of this unforgettable vista with big windows and airy decoration. Fortunately, the food and wine aren’t too shabby either. The eatery won Best Winery Restaurant and two hats from the Cuisine Good Food Guide last year, while Elephant Hill wines are in the premier league of Hawke’s Bay.
This is red wine country, so give yourself a break from Sauvignon Blanc. Drinking the (excellent) Reserve Syrah with wagyu beef while gazing out over the rolling breakers is nourishment for the soul as well as the stomach.
When to visit February and March are best, when the weather is reliable but it’s out of the busiest part of tourist season.
How to get there The 25km drive from Hawke’s Bay airport, just north of the art deco town of Napier, takes about 30 minutes, but make sure Napier is part of any tour.
Why visit The estate dates back to the 14th century and is farmed organically – so if you visit in spring you might see horses plodding down the vine rows. But there’s no shortage of stimulating modernity. The spa (Les Sources de Caudalie) has justifiably won dozens of awards for its vine-based treatments and you’ll find plenty of interesting art around the grounds, too.
The winery offers myriad themed tastings and matchings, and La Grand’Vigne restaurant is two Michelin stars-worth of excellence, where Nicolas Masse’s modern, elegant dishes are designed to match the château’s wines. Learn from the man himself at one of the three-hour Saturday morning cookery classes, followed by lunch. The bistro, Table du Lavoir, offers a more affordable dining option.
When to visit Avoid en primeur at the start of April: Bordeaux will be packed. Similarly, check it’s not a Vinexpo wine trade expo year. Otherwise, late spring or early summer is a good time to visit. How to get there Just 20km from Bordeaux airport, the château is about 10 minutes’ drive from the southernmost edges of the Rocade ring road.
The best of the rest: hotspots for wine-loving foodies
Napa, US Classy lunch and dinner ‘experiences’ featuring art and winery tours, plus dinner in a private dining room.
Chris Losh is editor of Imbibe magazine and has been writing about wine for more than 20 years. In that time he’s travelled widely, eaten plenty and tasted with abandon. He is author of Where to Drink Wine: the essential guide to the world’s must-visit wineries (£22, Quadrille, September 2018)
In 1979, a blind-tasting in Paris, the Gault-Millau Wine Olympics, placed great French classic Cabernets such as Châteaux Latour and La Mission Haut-Brion alongside newcomers such as this wine from Torres. Known as Black Label, the 1970 was made from young vines, but the wine still triumphed, launching Torres onto the international stage.
The firm of Torres was founded in 1870, and in 1962 a youthful Miguel A Torres took over the winery. Forward-looking and open-minded, in 1964 he planted international varieties in some of the Penedès vineyards. The Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings came from Jean Leon, another Penedès pioneer, and it’s rumoured that its source was the Médoc: Châteaux Lafite and La Lagune. Moreover, some cuttings came from a nursery in Montpellier. Planting French varieties was a controversial decision, and even Torres’ father had strong reservations about the wisdom of planting Cabernet. 1970 was the first vintage of the Black Label, which from the 1995 vintage on was renamed after the vineyard, Mas La Plana.
Now fourth-generation president of Familia Torres, Miguel A Torres recalls: ‘The wine was so different, it immediately gained a reputation, especially by triumphing over some of the best French wines. What a lot of people don’t know is that it was my mother’s idea to send Mas La Plana to the 1979 tasting.’
An outstanding year in Penedès as well as Rioja, 1970 offered an ideal growing season, although the crop was small.
29ha of Cabernet Sauvignon are planted in the Pacs sub-region of central Penedès. The original plantings were on deep, yellowish grey-brown alluvial soils that are well drained and have a moderate water holding capacity. The soil is made up of layers of gravel, sand and clay. The elevation of 225m ensures relatively cool night-time temperatures.
The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks; indeed Torres was almost certainly the first Spanish wine producer to install them. The wine was then aged six months in new American oak, then in older barrels for a year more. It was not until the 1990 vintage that Torres decided to age the wine entirely in French barriques.
Stephen Brook tasted the wine in 1993: ‘Fairly deep red but becoming pale and russet on the rim. Light liquorice nose, becoming attenuated but still attractive… still powerful but perhaps the fruit is in retreat.’
In 2008, Tom Cannavan noted: ‘Lovely old wine vegetal sweetness on the nose, notes of dried blood, truffle, prune and that echo of very sweet black fruit. On the palate lovely sweetness still, masses of clove and spice, and still a fine core of redcurrant and cherry acidity. Lovely soft, truffly finish.’
In 2015 in Beijing, Edward Ragg wrote: ‘Tertiary aromas of roasted meats, mushroom, leather, combining with barrel-matured notes of coffee, cocoa, chocolate, now caramelised with age… complex. On the palate a profound tannic structure, but still with this wonderful core of fruit coming through… Lively acidity, quite vibrant fruit – this wine is not “dried out” in any sense – with mellowing chewy tannins and a long, layered finish.’
A recent tasting with Tua Rita’s owner, Stefano Frascolla was a great opportunity to taste through some of the wines from their nine-strong lineup.
The estate specialises in Bordeaux varieties, most notably in its 100% Merlot super Tuscan Redigaffi, although it also produces two 100% Syrah wines – the amphora-aged Keir and barrique-aged Per Sempre – while Sangiovese features in some blends plus the single-varietal Perlato del Bosco.
The majority of these latest releases are from the 2017 vintage, a hot and dry year producing smaller crops that usual, although the flagship Redigaffi is from the 2016 vintage – a year that Stefano believes is the best in 20 years for Tuscany.
In the same town, Erbusco, another not-to-be-missed stop is Bellavista, where Vittorio Moretti, a leading player and current president of the Franciacorta consorzio, is a reference for the area. This first-class winery is named after the location of its vineyards on top of the Bellavista hill with its splendid view. Bellavista makes the most of its scenery, the visual impact and blend of art, sculpture and ‘bon ton’ (the waterfall and swing are enchanting).
Just 10 minutes away is Il Mosnel, belonging to the Barzanò Barboglio family, now in its fifth generation. The winery, with its 16th-century cellars, is the starting point for two excursions of 4km and 7km respectively around the estate’s 40 hectares, and also offers themed dinners.
Another 2km on, and we come to the Monterossa vineyards, now under the guidance of Emanuele Rabotti, located on the top of a hill overlooking the entire morainic amphitheatre and whose grounds include a spectacular rose garden.
Travelling another 15km towards Monticelli Brusati (the nature walk to the Gaina waterfall is wonderful), we find La Montina, run by the Bozza brothers, where you can combine wine tasting with culture – make time to look at the contemporary art in its gallery.
A 10-minute drive away is yet another company that has helped shape the history of Franciacorta, Ricci Curbastro. Here you will find an agricultural museum outlining the stages of the farming calendar, an agriturismo and an antiques shop.
Franciacorta was first re-fermented in the bottle in 1961 at the Guido Berlucchi winery in Borgonato. The Ziliani family has dedicated a special label to that first vintage, while another label is named after stately home Palazzo Lana.
Barone Pizzini in Provaglio d’Iseo also holds a record: that of being the first winery to produce DOCG Franciacorta from organic grapes. The winery offers two tasting opportunities via the Animante tour or the Edizione tour with vintage-focused tasting.
This was first published as part of a travel guide in the November 2016 issue of Decanter.
Alessandra Piubello is a writer and journalist with a focus on wine and food. She grew up in a winemaking family in the Valpolicella region
Head Sommelier at The Vineyard in Stockcross, Bourger competed against 15 hopefuls before going head to head with two other head sommeliers, Gareth Ferreira and Alan Bednarski, in the final.
Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier at Core by Clare Smyth in London’s Notting Hill, came second, whilst first-timer Alan Bednarski, head sommelier at Michelin-starred Texture, took third place.
The grand final, completed on stage in front of an audience of wine trade professionals, comprised a number of time-pressured tasks testing the contestants’ blind tasting skills, bar service and decanting skills, and wine knowledge.
On stage to guide them through the process was President of the Academy of Food and Wine Service and DWWA judge Nicolas Clerc MS, a previous winner of the UK Sommelier of the Year competition in 2007.
The first task involved identifying errors on a wine list, followed by a blind tasting of three wines where the candidates were asked to identify the region, appellation, grape variety and vintage, and a blind tasting of spirits from black glasses.
For the food pairing task, the candidates were asked by a table of industry experts, including DWWA judges Roger Jones and Ronan Sayburn MS, to suggest five beverages originating from outside the EU to pair with their menu.
For one of the final tasks, the candidates had to identify a series of photographs, which included Château Margaux, the award-winning Rubik’s cube inspired visitor centre at d’Arenberg, and the winemaking process of appassimento.
Gerard Basset Lifetime Achievement Award
A tribute video was shown to honour the late Gerard Basset MS MW, who was previously head judge at the competition, in which many of the top sommeliers in the UK spoke about Basset’s influence and their memories of him.
It was also announced that the Gerard Basset Lifetime Achievement Award has been set up in honour of Basset, which aims to recognise an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the UK industry.
Basset’s wife Nina and son Romanée were present to announce that the inaugural award was going to Ian Harris MBE, Chief Executive at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET).
Harris has spent over 15 years working to educate and support wine industry professionals through the WSET, which Nina described as a ‘world-wide force of good for wine education’.
Speaking on stage, Nina Basset said that the UK Sommelier of the Year competition was ‘one of Gerard’s most favourite dates in the sommelier calendar’.
‘It is great to see so many people on stage who were his protégés,’ she said. ‘Gerard would be delighted to know that we are honouring someone so special each year’.
The 15 finalists for 2019 were:
Vincenzo Arnese, head sommelier, Dinner by Heston, London
Alan Bednarski, head sommelier, Texture, London
Romain Bourger, head sommelier, the Vineyard, Stockcross
Pierre Brunelli, operations manager, L’Enclume, Cumbria
Emmanuel Cadieu, deputy head sommelier, 67 Pall Mall, London
Charles Carron Brown, assistant head sommelier, L’Enclume, Cumbria
Rupert Crick, junior assistant head sommelier, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxfordshire
Tamas Czinki, head sommelier, Northcote, Lancashire
Paul Fauvel, head sommelier, The Lanesborough, London
Gareth Ferreira, head sommelier, Core by Clare Smyth, London
Tony Lecuroux, sommelier, Moor Hall, Lancashire
Matteo Montone, director of wine, Berners Tavern, London
Christopher Parker, head sommelier, Lime Wood, Hampshire
Paul Robineau, sommelier, Moor Hall, Lancashire
Toru Takamatsu, assistant wine manager, Hide, London
Previous winners of the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year award include Gerard Basset MW MS, Ronan Sayburn MS, Xavier Rousset MS, Nicolas Clerc MS and Jan Konetzki.
Bernard Arnault, of luxury goods group LVMH, has again headed the list of France’s richest people in the annual ranking by Challenges magazine.
The magazine’s list re-emphasises the strong links between the country’s wealthiest and its most renowned wine names.
Arnault’s estimated fortune has risen considerably in the last few years and stands at €90bn, according to Challenges.
For LVMH, wine and spirits are a core component of its luxury business, taking in names such as Krug, Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, plus Hennessy Cognac, Château d’Yquem and Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux, as well as Clos des Lambrays in Burgundy.
Following Arnault, and with a similarly meteoric rise up the wealth scale in recent years, are the Wertheimer bothers – Alain and Gérard – with an estimated fortune of €50bn.
Via their Chanel business, they own Châteaux Canon, Rauzan-Ségla and Berliquet in Bordeaux, as well as St Supery in Napa Valley.
In sixth place on the list sits François Pinault, owner of Pauillac first growth Château Latour, with a fortune of €29bn. Pinault also acquired Burgundy’s Clos de Tart in 2017, via his family-held investment company.
Just behind Pinault, in seventh place in the 2019 list, is the Dassault family of the eponymous St-Emilion Château, with an estimated fortune of €23bn.
Serge Dassault died last year, but the formidable aeronautics and business empire that he built is now controlled by his children, Olivier, Laurent, Marie-Hélène et Thierry, according to Challenges.
Pierre Castel lies in eighth place with an estimated fortune of €14bn, having largely built his fortune in drinks distribution – notably in Africa – as well as in wine.
Rounding-off the top 10 is Patrick Drahi, with a fortune of €9bn. While Drahi has made his fortune in telecoms and media, and doesn’t own a major wine estate, he recently agreed to buy auction house Sotheby’s in a deal worth a reported $3.7bn.
In 11th place, with a fortune of €8.5bn, is the Perrodo family that owns Châteaux Marquis d’Alesme and Labégorce in the Margaux appellation.
Many notable wine families feature further down the list, which runs to 500.
For example, these include the Bollinger family, the de Boüard de Laforest family of Château d’Angélus, and the Moueix family – all with estimated fortunes of €330m. The Cazes family, of Château Lynch-Bages, has an estimated fortune of €320m.
It’s possibly not as exceptional as 2006, which was unique and without comparison, and neither is it the favourite of consultant Michel Rolland, who continues to prefer 2001, but 2016 is one of the best vintages ever in Bolgheri.