Louis Roederer acquires Sonoma winery Merry Edwards

Roederer Merry Edwards
Vineyards at Merry Edwards

The purchase for an undisclosed sum includes the Merry Edwards brand, stocks, winery and tasting room in Sebastopol, and vineyards totalling 79 acres (32 hectares).

Founded by Merry Edwards in 1997, the winery focuses mainly on Pinot Noir, but also makes some Chardonnay and barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast.

As well as using its own vineyards, including Meredith Estate, Coopersmith, Georganne, Warrens’ Hill and Richaven, the company sources grapes from local growers.

Edwards and her husband, Ken Coopersmith, completed Merry Edwards’ winery and tasting room in 2008. They will stay with the company during a transition period.

Roederer managing director Frédéric Rouzaud said the company had looked at several wineries in Northern California in recent years, but added that he had been ‘won over’ by Edwards’ personality, story and wines.

‘I knew it was the right moment,’ he said. ‘Going forward, it is our mission to ensure continuity as we have done with our other acquisitions since 1990.’

Edwards described Rouzaud as ‘a true soulmate’, adding: ‘I know my legacy is in good hands for the years to come as a member of the Maison Louis Roederer family.’

Roederer’s other California businesses include Scharffenberger Cellars, Roederer Estate and Domaine Anderson. As well as its eponymous Champagne house, the company also owns Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and Château de Pez in Bordeaux, Champagne Deutz and Rhône producer Delas Frères, Port producer Ramos-Pinto and Domaines Ott in Provence.

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Oscars 2019 menu: What the stars ate and drank in numbers

Oscars 2019 menu
What food and drink was served at the 2019 Oscars Awards ceremony.

Piper-Heidsieck Champagne continued its partnership with the Oscars, served to guests at the 91st edition of the Academy Awards, and the following Governors Ball.

The Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut NV was poured from limited edition designed magnums on the evening, and around 1,500 were expected to be served.

The wines served were from Francis Ford Coppola Winery, also served in previous years,  including two custom wines: Final Cut 91st Edition, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford 2016,  and Final Cut 91st Edition, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2017.

They also served the Sofia Rosé (named after director Sofia Ford Coppola), the Directors Cut Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Francis Coppola Reserve Pinot Noir and Eleanor wines.

In total, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery expected to serve 2,400 bottles of wine on the evening.

13,000 glasses were needed for the Champagne, wines, cocktails and other drinks served.

The food

The menu for the 1,500 guests at the Governors Ball was created by Wolfgang Puck, who has been creating these Oscars menus for the past 25 years. The food was a mix of tray passed hors d’Oeuvres, small plates, a ‘raw bar’ and some chefs stations.

It required 240 kgs Miyazaki wagyu beef, 250 Maine lobsters, over seven litres of PX sherry, 250lbs of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, 35 lbs of black winter truffles sourced from Burgundy, 15 kg of caviar and 6500 chocolate Oscars statues, from Valrhona Illanka.

Dishes showcased a range of cuisines, including black truffle chicken pot pie; Miyazaki Wagyu beef tartare on tapioca crisp; Crab deviled eggs; and Nashville hot fried quail, with pickles and red velvet waffle. The raw bar served a selection of sushi and ceviche.

Desserts included 24 karat dusted Valrhona Illanka chocolate Oscars, and Piper Heidsieck golden Champagne strawberry ‘Push Pops’.

See also: What was served at the Oscars 2018

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Jefford – Saperavi: Hoodlum or Hero?

Wine cellar in Georgia with traditional kvevri in front

The antiquity of its wine culture, the genetic diversity of its indigenous varieties and the uniqueness of its native wine-making techniques: those three calls on our attention make Georgia a wine magnet.

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Premiere Napa Valley 2019 auction fetches almost $3.7m

This year’s Premiere Napa Valley auction has fetched nearly $3.7 million, short of last year’s total but still seen as a vote of confidence for the 2017 Cabernet vintage.

Premiere Napa Valley 2019

Hundreds of bidders packed the top floor at the Culinary Institute of America’s grand Greystone campus building on Saturday (24 February) to vie for a series of one-of-a-kind lots in the Premiere Napa Valley 2019 auction.

Nearly $3.7 million was raised, said trade body Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) following the event.

That is lower than the $4.1m achieved in 2018. The auction’s record stands at $6m, set in 2015 and reflecting the excitement around the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon vintage.

This year’s sale saw 187 lots offered to the assembled trade bidders – 30 fewer than in 2018, according to NVV. It added that the average price per bottle was up slightly on last year’s sale, however.

Top lot in 2019 came from Silver Oak, which saw its 20-case offering of Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 sell for $140,000. The wine is 90% Cabernet and 10% Merlot and was expected to be released in January 2021.

Silver Oak also claimed top lot in 2018, when the same amount of a wine from its 2016 vintage sold for $110,000.

Premiere’s ethos is that wineries offer a one-off wine style to trade-only bidders, which will then sell on the wines and may see their value increase as a collectors’ item. All lots are between 60 and 240 bottles and are signed by producers.

Schramsberg, which is known for putting up mature sparkling wines in the auction, offered one of the more intriguing lots of the weekend. Its 60 bottles-worth of J Shram 1998 – late disgorged – sold for $24,000, equivalent to $400 per bottle.

Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the NVV, said, ‘We are very grateful for the support of our longtime bidders, as well as the 14 new successful bidders that acquired Premiere Napa Valley wines for the first time today.’

Around 72% of the lots offered this year were from 2017,  mostly still-in-barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, and this provided some fresh insight into a vintage that was forged in the face of some of California’s deadliest wildfires on record.

The wines on show at CIA were generally well received – already relatively approachable in several cases – and a number of producers reminded guests that most grapes had been picked prior to the fires.

‘There was pre-fire and post-fire,’ said Michael Honig, owner of Honig Vineyard and Winery. ‘Vintage conditions were exceptional before the fire,’ he told Decanter.com at a press tasting on Friday 23 February.

Most of the winery’s vineyards were unscathed, but it sold off a portion of 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon from some vines near to the fires, because ‘it wasn’t worth the risk [to quality]’, Honig said.

Stories from the wildfires inevitably came up during the pre-auction tasting at CIA.

While firefighters naturally prioritised saving lives and homes, several winemakers also faced problems accessing vineyards and had to deal with power outages in the cellar. A few wineries suffered significant damage to buildings.

Steven Burgess, president of Burgess Cellars on Howell Mountain and also a volunteer firefighter, told Decanter.com of how he helped try to contain blazes in the area for more than 50 hours straight, taking it in turns with fire crew colleagues to have 15-minute naps for respite.

‘Then I went to a trade show for three days. I slept when I came home,’ he said.

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Steven Spurrier’s wines of the month

Decanter’s long-standing consultant editor hand-picked fine wines for drinking now and for the cellar, based on tastings that he has attended recently.

steven spurrier

You may also like:

Steven Spurrier’s top wine memories
Decanter’s top wines of 2018: Most exciting picks
Ten wines to try in 2019

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Cobb Wines: Playing the ‘Pinot Noir long-game’

Will the quality and complexity of California Pinot Noir ever match that of Burgundy? Matthew Luczy, wine director at Mélisse Restaurant in Santa Monica, argues that Cobb’s Pinot Noirs have an identity all of their own…

Cobb Wines Pinot Noir
Ross Cobb admires the lineup of Pinot Noirs.

Cobb Wines: Factbox

Year founded 2001, by Ross Cobb
Annual production 2,500 cases, 200 of which are Chardonnay and Riesling
Vineyard sites:

Coastlands (6ha planted, 350m elevation, 3 miles from the ocean)

Emmaline Ann(1.2ha planted, 228m elevation, 4 miles from the ocean)

Rice-Spivak (2.4ha planted, 107m elevation, 6 miles from the ocean).

All lie within ‘Freestone-Occidental’, a subregion of the Sonoma Coast awaiting AVA approval. All farming is certified sustainable.

You may also like:

Top Sonoma reds for the cellar

Napa new releases to drink in 2019

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2016: Survivors in bottle

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Five things to know about Campo Viejo

Promotional feature
It’s one of the best-known names in Rioja, but here are five things that might surprise you about Campo Viejo

Campo Viejo winemakers

1. Invented the iconic ‘Rioja bottle’

José Ortigüela founded Campo Viejo as a premium Rioja brand in 1959, but he soon realised that a new kind of bottle was needed to reflect its bold and elegant style.

In 1961 Campo Viejo launched the classic Rioja bottle that has become a symbol of Spanish wine, gracing tables in over 50 countries around the world.

2. Carbon neutral pioneers

In 2012 Campo Viejo became the first Spanish winery to be certified as carbon neutral, leading the country’s wine industry towards a more sustainable future.

From cutting energy and water consumption to reusing organic by-products and protecting wildlife — Campo Viejo’s team work tirelessly to preserve the Rioja wine landscape for generations to come.

3. Winemakers led by women

Campo Viejo’s award-winning wines are made by a blend of three leading Rioja winemakers who happen to be women: Logroño-born Elena Adell has been the winemaking director since 1998, she is an expert agronomist who is dedicated to protecting quality and the environment. Passionate and innovative Clara Canals joined the winemaking team in 2011 after studying in France, South Africa and New Zealand.

Trained in both pharmacology and oenology, Campo Viejo’s newest winemaker Irene Perez combines scientific expertise with artistic creativity.

Campo Viejo underground winery

4. Underground winery

Campo Viejo has a cutting-edge winery with one unusual distinction – it is built almost entirely underground.

Not far from Rioja’s capital city, Logroño, the vast hidden winery has been constructed 20 metres beneath the earth’s surface, including barrel rooms and maturation cellars.

Aside from extraordinary architecture, the underground location provides natural insulation to keep temperatures constant, removing the need for an energy-guzzling cooling system.

5. A unique small batch experimental winery

Besides the main winery, Campo Viejo designed a specialised research centre where its winemaking team can study old traditions and shape the future of Rioja wines.

The team trials new grape varieties and winemaking techniques to find fresh expressions of the regional styles.

It was here that Campo Viejo created their trailblazing Tempranillo Blanco wine, bringing a lesser-known yet indigenous varietal to an overseas audience.

Campo Viejo vineyard


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Winners at the inaugural World Restaurant awards

The first edition of the World Restaurant awards took place on 18 February 2019 in Paris.

World's Best restaurants awards
Mugaritz, in San Sebastián, won the ‘Forward Drinker’ award

Restaurant of the Year was awarded to Wolfgat in South Africa, which also won the award for ‘off-beat destination.’

Wolfgat is a small, beach side restaurant in the Western Cape, which only offers 20 places per sitting, to keep their production sustainable, according to their website.

The food style is described as ‘seasonal, inspired by the weather, with a naturalist approach and minimum intervention’, and the judges said it ‘feels like a restaurant that’s giving back to the community.’

The winner of the ‘Forward drinking’ award went to Mugaritz in San Sebastián, of which judges said ‘Mugaritz’s wine programme is singularly ambitious. The restaurant’s cellar holds around 1,600 wines and some 90 sakes.’

The awards are divided into Big Plates winners – which aim to ‘champion excellence and integrity while trying to better promote the diversity of the world’s restaurant community’, according to World Restaurant Awards.

‘Small Plates’ winners recognise ‘contemporary cultural nuances’ and acknowledge the role of social media and attempts to subvert current gastronomic fashions. These include awards such as ‘tattoo-free chef of the year’ and ‘tweezer-free kitchen.’

The ‘Red wine serving restaurant’ went to wine bar Noble Rot in London, of which judges said ‘It’s hard not to fall in love with Noble Rot.’

It was praised as being ‘a driving force in making wine bars cool again, it does not fall into the trap – as so many fashionable new wave restaurants and wine bars do – of championing white wine over red.’

Top London wine bars – chosen by Decanter experts

About the awards

The World Restaurant Awards were created by IMG in partnership with Joe Warwick and Andrea Petrini to ‘celebrate restaurants as culture, considered in the same way as film, art and music.’

See all of the winners at World Restaurants awards:

Big Plates winners:

Restaurant of the Year
Winner: Wolfgat, Paternoster | South Africa

Arrival of the Year
Winner: Inua, Tokyo | Japan

Atmosphere of the Year
Winner: Vespertine, Los Angeles | United States

Collaboration of the Year
Winner: Paradiso X Gortnanain, Cork | Ireland

Enduring Classic
Winner: La Mère Brazier, Lyon | France

Ethical Thinking
Winner: Refettorio (Food For Soul), Various locations | Italy

Event of the Year
Winner: Refugee Food Festival, Paris (and worldwide) | France

House Special
Winner: Lido 84 (Cacio e Pepe), Lombardy | Italy

Forward Drinking
Winner: Mugaritz, San Sebastián | Spain

No Reservations Required
Winner: Mocotó, São Paulo | Brazil

Off-Map Destination
Winner: Wolfgat, Paternoster | South Africa

Original Thinking
Winner: Le Clerence, Paris | France

Small Plates winners:

Instagram Account of the Year
Winner: Alain Passard (@alain_passard), Paris | France

Long-Form Journalism
Winner: Lisa Abend, The Food Circus | Fool Magazine

Red-Wine Serving Restaurant
Winner: Noble Rot, London | United Kingdom

Tattoo-Free Chef
Winner: Alain Ducasse, Paris | France

Trolley of the Year
Ballymaloe House, Cork | Ireland

Tweezer-Free Kitchen
Winner: Bo.Lan, Bangkok | Thailand

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