Wines that won’t wilt your wallet #Bdx15

Dinner evening Fieuzal

By Panos Kakaviatos for

24 July 2016

In celebrated Bordeaux vintages, consumers may find that prices are out of reach. Sure, wines like Ducru Beaucaillou and Léoville Las Cases are excitingly delicious, but not all us mortals can afford them.

A sign of a top vintage is finding barrel samples that please your palate across all price points. And Bordeaux 2015 makes me happy, too, as it features many high quality cru bourgeois level wines that won’t wilt your wallet. So it is easy to be all smiles about the vintage, as the photo above from a lovely press dinner at Château de Fieuzal shows, with fellow taster Vasily Raskov from Moscow and Emilie Gervoson of Château Larrivet Haut Brion.  Read More

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English fizz hits the headlines


And it is delicious: Visit to Gusbourne Estate

By Panos Kakaviatos for 

24 July 2016

Just how delicious English bubbly can be was reconfirmed to me over dinner with Gusbourne Estate’s Andrew Weeber and promotion agency Vita Bella’s Guillaume Jourdan. It was the conclusion to a wonderful day of visiting vineyards, tasting wines, and enjoying a fine summer picnic with great wines.

We ended the visit with a relaxing summer evening, enjoying veritable fish and chips at a most charming bed and breakfast in Kent, the Woolpack Inn Warehorne.


Freshly caught cod – not fried but grilled to perfection – paired perfectly with homemade potato chips, or thickly cut fries, in American English. The wine? Gusbourne Estate 2010 Blanc de Blancs vintage brut: crisp, precise and creamy. It proved a perfect match for the food. Read More

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Ferrari conquers Hong Kong


Not the car, the quality bubbles!

By Panos Kakaviatos for

23 June 2016

Today more than ever, Ferrari impresses people worldwide as an ambassador for the Italian art of living.

No, I do not mean the automaker, but rather the sparkling wine producer, with vineyards in the extraordinary natural monument of the Dolomites, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2009.

The appellation is Trentodoc, which can define itself as a sparkling wine from the mountains, thanks to a special blend of elements: land, high altitude and climate. Just several months ago, I had visited the region, and tried some of the sparkling wines from there. The star remains Cantine Ferrari Trento. Indeed it is not for nothing that Wine Enthusiast awarded the estate as European Winery of the Year in January this year.

Over a century ago, back in 1902, Giulio Ferrari took advantage of cooler climates high in the mountains to make sparkling wine using the Champagne method. After two world wars and economic depression, Ferrari chose Bruno Lunelli to take over.

To illustrate the worldwide appeal of these wines, current CEO Matteo Bruno Lunelli travelled to Hong Kong during Vinexpo in May 2016, to host a very special lunch at the city’s top Italian restaurant 8½ Otto e Mezzo. Read More

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Crafting personalized Champagne at Duval-Leroy

Champagne before it becomes Champagne – and making it your own

19 June 2016

By Panos Kakaviatos for

One of the most unique things about Duval-Leroy Champagne is that the domain permits individuals – usually wealthy businessmen and their mistresses, as I was told at the estate – to craft their personalized bubbly blend. It costs between $30,000 (for non-vintage blends) to $50,000 for vintage blends. In return, private clients get 600 personalized bottles of Champagne that they themselves crafted, based on tastings of still wines from various lieu dits with varying levels of residual sugars and different vintages.

A recent visit to Duval Leroy with several fellow wine writers included this fascinating experience, with directeur de caves Sandrine Logette-Jardin, who has been with the estate since 1991. A trained enologist, she specializes in blending and takes the time to guide private clients to blend their own Champagnes, dubbed cuvee sur mesure. So we amused ourselves pretending to be millionaires who can afford the pricey fee for our own crafted blends. It was fascinating for example to try the same 2010 vintage, but with different levels of residual sugar. Initially sampled with five grams of residual sugar, we tried it again with six – and opinions varied. While some preferred the liveliness of the former, I almost preferred the richer style of 6 grams, as it lent more body while not losing verve. You can see a bit of this experience in the video below.  Read More

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Vinexpo Hong Kong buoyant, China “rebound” sees major increase in international presence

Press release from #Vinexpo16 #HongKong

Hong Kong, 26 May, 2016 – Vinexpo Hong Kong 2016 reinforced its renown as Asia’s premier wine and spirits event, from May 24-26 this week. The three-day exclusively trade exhibition – recognised for its quality exhibitors, buyers and diverse program – continued to exceed all expectations with 1,300 exhibitors representing wine and spirit brands from 33 countries.  

With a rebound of China, the world’s fifth largest wine consuming market, as well as a dynamic overall Asia-Pacific presence, both exhibitors and buyers were in a buoyant mood.

Overall visitor numbers surpassed expectations with over 17,000 visitors through the doors. This was further reflected as Vinexpo estimates a 9% increase of visitors from mainland China, compared to 2014 show figures. This strong growth meaning Mainland China now holds prime position as the shows number one visiting country. Read More

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