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Mention Chile these days across wine industry experts and you’ll find buckets of respect for what this country has achieved.

Chief Winemaker Meinard Bloem at Casas del Bosque

It’s true, Chile has been producing wine since the Spanish conquistadors pitched up in the 1600s, tempted by just how perfect the growing conditions were for making wine.  Surrounded by the Andes on one side, desert in the north and the Pacific on the west, it proved an ideal land for growing, well, just about anything.  In recent years, it’s been regularly reported that if, hypothetically, all of the Chilean farmers of all crops came together, there would be a strong argument for certifying Chile as a nation 100% organic, such is the limited need for pest control and the like.  That’s quite a statement to make and whilst it unlikely to be achievable on paper, in practice it’s worthy noting that, overall, Chile likely produces the most wine with the least chemical intervention.

Casas reds

A brace of perfection!

Our good friends at Casas del Bosque are no different and we are proud to have listed them within our portfolio since Hannibal Brown was founded back in November 2012.

We were charmed initially by the Carmenere Reserva.  Not so long ago, this grape variety was widely confused in the vineyards with Merlot, but for the fact that it presented a consistently more robust characteristic.  For those less familiar with this varietal, it’s worth remembering that Carmenere is to Chile what Malbec is to Argentina (and I defy anyone reading this to have never heard of the latter!).

Such was our intrigue that we researched Casas del Bosque more thoroughly, introducing Syrah Gran Reserva (aka. Ribena on steroids), the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and more recently the Cabernet Sauvignon.  Casas del Bosque don’t do blends – they prefer their wines to reflect true single varietal characteristics and they are masters at optimising the fruit and purity in each and every one of them.

To discover more, we’re excited to be tasting the Syrah and Carmenere with Meinard Bloem, Bosque’s Chief Winemaker, who joins us for a virtual chit-chat via Facebook Live! and YouTube on Thursday 6th August 2020.   We hope you can join us!

 

Today sees the launch of a new listing for us from a super producer, based in the stunning Paarl region of the South African Winelands.

Anyone who has taken time to visit the wineries of the Western Cape will know that the region is arguably one of the gems of the wine world.  My first venture to South Africa was in the Year 2000, when sanctions had only recently been lifted, and expertise was joined with excitement in the development of their wine industry.  Throughout the apartheid era, a co-operative (KWV) monopolised the industry, and whilst volume was not inconsiderable, quality was lacking in most areas.  Insufficient funding to sustain wineries, poor winemaking and often lack of hygiene were all contributors to a nation’s wine industry that was lagging way behind the buoyant Aussies and Kiwi production that we have come to love so much.

Those days are in the past, and South Africa these days is well positioned in the everyday, less expensive category, right up to the best of the boutique range.  And we Brits can’t get enough of them.  I for one am amongst their #1 fans – how a country could turn an industry in such a short space of time has to be admired.   Visiting those Winelands time and again is a joy that everyone who has a penchant for wine and travel should explore.  (Give me a shout if you want any advice on where to go.)

Our latest additions – a white and a red known as Jonty’s Ducks have a delightful story.  Organic is their middle name – just watch this video and our web-footed friends and you’ll be instantly charmed.  As for the wine, well if this isn’t worth a look, then….

Find the wines here>

 

 

Last month, Hannibal Brown sent five lucky Golden Ticket Competition winners for a trip to Domaine La Maurerie in Saint Chinian, down in the south of France.  This is a wonderful account of the fun they had whilst down there.  Read on…..

DOMAINE LA MAURERIE – A LITTLE CORNER OF PARADISE

The instructions from Maria Depaule (co-owner of DLM, as we now refer to this wonderfully understated property) stated, “when you think you’re lost, you’ll probably be there”.  She was right – 5km after the last village, we took a turn off the main road.  And another 2km of meandering through grape-laden vines, we finally reached the tiny hamlet of La Maurerie and our home for the next five days.  Close to midnight, we arrived to a true Depaule welcome:  3 boxes laden with glorious La Maurerie wine, not to mention a friendly greeting from Carla, the resident wirey old farm dog.  Sitting outside our gite under the stars, several glasses down, it was hard to believe that we had been rushing around London just a few hours earlier.

Maurerie

Maurerie

We had timed our visit to DLM to perfection.  The locals, relieved and happy following a successful white grape harvest, were taking a well earned indulgent break before embarking on the reds.  The vines looked amazing with those plump purple grapes, crying to be picked.

Next morning, surprisingly fresh (it’s the lack of sulphites apparently), we were treated to a winery tour with Michel Depaule (vigneron and other half of this humble property) during which time he taught us that magnums were infinitely preferable to bottles as the ‘wine comes alive and develops far better’.  Maria, meanwhile, showed off the new winery equipment and their splendid party room (definitely NOT a conference room!).   We then began the day’s essential tasting with the newly bottled 2011 vintage.  We especially loved the Crestell – which tasted even better in the smug knowledge that we’d snuck a taste in before Hannibal!

We experienced market day in Saint Chinian, a quaint little medieval town with the biggest southern French character and rusticity.  Here, we petted the world’s smallest pig(!), bought the world’s most expensive macaroons and constructed world’s tastiest cheeseboard.  And after sampling (drinking) maybe a little too much of the local Saint Chinian co-oerative wine with the locals, we stumbled back across vineyards to our gite (the converted old barn of the DLM winery), where we barbecued on old vine roots and shared stories of the day’s events with our hosts.

The rest of the week involved kayaking, oysters, tractor driving, beach, walks and new friends.  This hamlet in the middle of nowhere managed to feel like the centre of everything to us lucky Golden Ticket winners.  Sante Hannibal!