Talking Wine – January 2018

Malt whisky has enjoyed huge popularity in recent years and now the giant drinks operation Diageo is to revive the closed distilleries Port Ellen and Brora. Both distilleries closed in 1983 and there are not many people who have had the opportunity to taste these products which are rare and extremely expensive. The reopening is partly due to pressure from enthusiasts but also reflects the strong growth in the industry and an opportunity to reawaken new generations of whisky consumers. Port Ellen is on the island of Islay and Brora on the remote eastern coast of Sutherland. They are small distilleries in relation to others in the Diageo portfolio but the key here is for them to reproduce the peated taste and style of the original.

Keep an eye out for an original bottle – we are now out of stock but there may be some sleepy merchant around who has a bottle hidden! It should prove a fantastic investment.

The French came 11th in a competition recently to identify wines from around the world. The competition was won by Sweden with England in second place- the key in both cases being that neither has a wine industry of note ( apologies to the UK who are rapidly developing one!). The point is that we are exposed to wines from all over the world and consequently are better at identifying the grapes and styles whereas the French are extremely insular in their drinking habits and it is quite an achievement to get them to drink a Burgundy if they live in Bordeaux ! The French generally are beginning to learn something from the new world and much of their wine making has improved over the past 30 years as a result – it needed to ! Most top French wine makers have experienced spells abroad and developed their skills but clearly the team in this competition were firmly rooted in France where they did , at least, excel in identifying their own countries products.

Penfolds have released a blend of three different vintages of Grange , the icon wine produced in Australia which sells for approx 1000 dollars a bottle. Penfolds is a blend every year with small parcels of fruit being blended from some of the best and most iconic regions so this new wine, known as g3 is a blend of a blend. Using two older vintages plus some 2014 to freshen the blend this wine sells for 3 times the Grange price which makes me just wonder if this whole exercise is simply a money making operation – or am I just being cynical ?