Amathus Drinks has become the UK distributor for Kanpai, Britain’s first Sake brewery.

Kanpai is the Japanese for ‘Cheers!’. Founders, Tom and Lucy Wilson, were so inspired by what they saw and tasted in Japan that a few years ago they began home-brewing Sake with great success. Thanks to great word of mouth and the fantastic quality of what they produced, 2 years ago this hobby expanded to become a commercial operation operating out of the unlikely surrounds of Peckham, Southeast London where they have recently opened the doors of their taproom.

Traditionally, milled rice is sourced from both Japan and California and traditional Japanese Koji and yeasts are used. Kanpai sakes have already begun to win awards and national recognition with presence in traditional Japanese restaurants, cocktail bars and even Michelin-starred establishments. The quality more than matches that of their Japanese counterparts, who have been supportive in recognising the work done by Tom and Lucy.

                 Kanpai’s Founders – Tom and Lucy Wilson

The core range consists of 3 sakes, from the classic Junmai Sumi, to the Nigori / cloudy Kumo and a special hopped sparkling sake called Fizu; a unique product, which appeals to sake, wine and beer lovers alike. The sparkling sake is also available on tap and a range of seasonal specials is also produced.

Amathus Drinks’ Head of Wine, Jeremy Lithgow MW said: “We are really excited to begin this partnership with Kanpai. This is a properly artisanal operation, which is highly focused on quality and innovation. Tom and Lucy’s enthusiasm and passion is infectious and we think the potential is enormous for this ground-breaking product. At a time when demand for sake is booming, what better than to offer something made in our own backyard? ”.

Tom Wilson added: “As the UK’s first sake brewery, we’re excited to be working with Amathus to take the next leap in the sake revolution. We’re proud to join their interesting line up of exclusive and unique drinks, to reach all corners of the UK”.

Amathus has assumed exclusive distribution of Sassy Cidre in the UK market

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Sassy is the new, disruptive face of traditional Normandy Cidre. Its vision is to revolutionise the perception of artisanal cidre for a new generation. Its home – the Château de Sassy in Normandy – has preserved the tradition of cider and calvados making since 1852, thanks to co-founder Xavier d’Audiffret Pasquier’s family and their love for the terroir. In order to develop an innovative product that still respects these traditional techniques, the founders worked with a renowned cellar master to create carefully reworked recipes.

The result – a production process that relies only on extracting the fruit juice itself and which creates a product that is 100% natural, free from additives and concentrates. This ensures a fresh, smooth drink and reveals a well-balanced flavour across three varieties – Brut, Rosé and Poiré. From these carefully selected varieties of apples and pears, to the bottling, Sassy is proud to say that everything is locally-sourced.

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”We are delighted to be partnering with Amathus as our UK distributor and exclusive importer. Our mission is to change the perception of cider and reinvigorate the category, finally putting Normandy on the map – and we firmly believe that Amathus is ideally-placed to help us achieve this. Their premium portfolio and mindset closely align with our values and ambitions at Maison Sassy and we are looking forward to working closely together” says Xavier.

Simon Bradbury, Sales and Marketing Director at Amathus comments, ‘“We are thrilled to be welcoming Sassy to our portfolio of exclusive, quality products. The combination of 167 years of expertise in making great tasting cider along with a modern design, lower ABVs, to appeal to the growing number of consumers who want a lighter alternative, and its mixability in long drinks and cocktails makes it a great fit for us and our ever expanding portfolio.”

 

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Amathus Drinks is now the exclusive importer of Sherry producer Bodegas Argüeso

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Amathus Drinks is now the exclusive distributor of Sherry producer Bodegas Argüeso for the UK market.

Bodegas Argüeso was founded in 1822 in coastal Sanlucar de Barrameda, one of the three great towns of the Sherry triangle and the home of Manzanilla. They work with old vineyards in the highly regarded coastal Miraflores sector to produce a range of award-winning Sherries in all the major styles.

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Recently, Argüeso have benefited from substantial investment allowing them to upgrade the cellars and take the quality of their wines to a new level. This has included the installation of a team of in-house coopers to maintain and improve the quality of their hundreds of mature barrels.

Amathus has worked closely with the winery to develop the inaugural release of the “Argüeso 1822” range, which delivers a superb selection of older wines and smart, modern packaging to the market for the first time. This represents an uplift in quality from the standard range of Argüeso sherries.

The first Amathus shipment also includes the Manzanilla San Léon, winner of the 2017 IWC Trophy for Best Manzanilla.

Bodega Argueso Manzanilla San León

Amathus Drinks’ Head of Wine, Jeremy Lithgow MW said: “It has been a real pleasure working closely with Bodegas Argüeso to select, blend and develop this range. Argüeso are a great house with a tremendous inventory of older sherry, and we are delighted to be playing a part in their revival. The potential here is enormous and we are excited by the numerous possibilities this collaboration offers”.

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Amathus Drinks and Bodegas Argüeso will display their new range of sherries for the first time at The Big Fortified tasting on April 16th.

 

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Easter wines and all things nice…

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On this particularly long weekend, most of us are well versed in what food to serve and when. From fish on Good Friday to roast lamb on Easter Sunday with lashings of chocolate in between. When it comes to pairing these foods with wine, however, not everyone knows where to start – especially when your Easter wines have some bold flavours to stand up too.

Fear not, as we have been busy compiling a list of our top picks to make choosing your Easter wines a walk in the park.

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The Aperitif 

Every celebration should begin with the obligatory glass of fizz; our go-to is the award-winning Champagne Duval-Leroy or Fox & Fox – an outstanding selection of sparkling wines with an English twist.

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The Fish Course

Tradition says that fish is the meal of choice on Good Friday. No wonder fish and chip shops across the country do a roaring trade on this particular bank holiday. With fish in mind, whether you’re having cod from the chippy or cooking a delightful fish dish at home, your wine of choice should be the Domaine Gueguen Chablis 1er Cru Vogros or the Abad Dom Bueno Bierzo Mencia if you’re partial to a glass of red.

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The Main Meal 

As at Christmas with turkey, Easter has long been associated with lamb (otherwise known as the king of Easter dinner). A succulent leg of lamb deserves the finest of wines to accompany and a long-time favourite of ours is the Fess Parker Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir, closely followed by the Org de Rac Die Waghuis Red Blend from the region of Swartland in South Africa, today the source of many of the country’s most exciting wines.

Ham is another favourite entree for Easter dinner, with so many great wines that pair perfectly with this extra-savoury meat. On top of our list is the Amastuola Primitivo Centosassi IGT, bursting with intense fruitiness, hints of prunes, Marasca cherries and cinnamon… yum!

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The Sweet Stuff

Easter weekend is definitely a weekend many of us look forward to, as it means the Lent fast can be broken and I’m sure that fast for many includes chocolate and sweets. With the mountain of sweet treats consumed over the Easter period it would be rude not to have some wines to match.

Starting with the obvious… being chocolate of course. Chocolate and wine are two of life’s greatest pleasures. However, when pairing wine with chocolate you need to be extremely careful as very few wines pair well with it. Opting for something, which is equally as sweet, is key to finding the ideal match. The sugar in chocolate tends to coat the month when it melts, which can mask the fruity flavours of a lot of wines and leave them tasting bitter – so the sweeter the wine the better. Go for the Mas Cristine Rivesaltes Ambré or the Woodstock Muscat.

Hot cross buns are another Easter tradition, paired perfectly with a sweet wine or a Tawny Port. It has to be the Château Haut-Mayne Sauternes for the sweet and the Cálem 10yr Tawny for the Port.

After copious amounts of chocolate no doubt already consumed, something citrusy and refreshing seems fitting for dessert on Easter Sunday and lemon tart is a definite crowd pleaser. Roland Grangier Chante Louve VDF is a textbook Viognier from Northern Rhône, with intense flavours of fresh apricot and honeysuckle, which will pair perfectly with your lemon dessert. Another option if you’re white wined out is cracking open a bottle of Sherry, in particular the Argüeso 1822 Fino.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter from the Amathus team!

 

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Mistelle – Wine’s not-so-distant cousin

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The story tends to be the same regardless of the region: at some point in history, a careless worker at an unknown distillery or winery tipped some brandy into a barrel, not realising it was two-thirds full of juice, thus serendipitously creating the local aperitif. Versions of this happy accident are told in pretty much every brandy-producing region of France. The story itself is certainly apocryphal (this drinker is more persuaded that our heroic workers simply combined two delicious liquids in the age-old spirit of enquiry: see also the Miami Vice cocktail) but is found in all of France’s major brandy-producing areas, and has been a traditional drink for the producers in these areas for around 300 years.

Regardless of the area the method is effectively the same: take 1 part young brandy and 2 parts unfermented grape or apple juice, mix them together and put it in a barrel for a period. There are variations – notably that Cognac and Armagnac use grapes and Calvados uses apples – but the principle is identical. The high-ABV brandy – typically 65-72% – fortifies the must to a strength at which yeast can’t act; this process is known as mutage. This means all the sugars in the juice remain unfermented, and a wine-like liquid with an ABV of 17-20% is the result. If done in Cognac the mistelle is called ‘Pineau des Charentes’, in Armagnac ‘Floc de Gasgogne’, in Calvados ‘Pommeau’ and in Burgundy and Champagne ‘Ratafia’.

Mistelles are closely related to dessert wines, fortified wines, vermouths & quinquinas (L.N. Mattei Cap Corse is actually based on a mistelle) but the production process leads to a different flavour profile and mouthfeel. The natural sugars in the juice give them a sweetness, balanced by a crisp acidity, and ageing in barrels gives them delicate nutty flavours and floral aromas – ‘Floc’ is actually a Gascon word meaning ‘bouquet of flowers’. Traditionally they are paired with foods (foie gras, apple tart), served chilled as an aperitif or over cantaloupe melon, but more and more bartenders are waking up to the possibilities offered by these delicate and complex liqueurs – as substitutes for vermouths or as ingredients in their own right, especially for lower ABV drinks.

Mistelle Mixed 

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Gascon Martini

50ml Laubade AOC Blanche
20ml Laubade Floc de Gasgogne Blanc
1 dash F Bitters Sweet Symphony Winerose Lavender

Stir and strain into a chilled coupette and garnish with a lemon twist.

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Norman Cobbler

1 Orange wedge
1 Pineapple
1 Lemon wedge
70ml Château du Breuil Pommeau
10ml Sugar
15ml Cartron Sureau (Elderflower)

Muddle the fruit briefly then shake and strain into a highball over crushed ice. Garnish with an apple fan.

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Cantaloupe Spritz

40ml François Voyer Pineau des Charentes
15ml Cartron Melon Liqueur
Top with tonic

Pour all ingredients in a wine glass over cubed ice; garnish with a slice of grapefruit.

 

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Org de Rac – a Brand New Organic South African Estate for the UK

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Org de Rac is an award-winning, organically certified estate located in the fashionable region of Swartland, today the source of many of South Africa’s most exciting wines. Org de Rac was established in 2001 as one of the first fully organic producers of South Africa and in 2005, the first wines were produced from low-yielding vineyards on well-drained south facing slopes. The wines are crafted by talented veteran winemaker Frank Meaker who has also overseen the shift towards completely vegan production methods. This pioneering producer makes a wide range of wines, all with the common thread of great value and varietal definition.

Across the board the wines frequently receive 4 stars and above from the influential John Platter guide, as well as regular gold medals from the South African Michelangelo wine awards.

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Our first shipment includes a fresh, citrus and herb-driven Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot of incredible complexity for the price, a rich, textured Chardonnay and a Rhone-style Syrah. In addition, a pair of stunning red and white blends under their Die Waghuis label have been imported.

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Amathus Head of Wine Jeremy Lithgow MW said: “We’re really pleased to be representing Org de Rac in the UK. We were bowled over by the quality/value ratio of these wines when we tried them and it’s particularly important to us that they are at the forefront of the South African organic movement, as this is a direction in which we are increasingly heading as a business.”

 

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The Latest Additions to the Amathus Wine Portfolio

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Leading Bierzo winery Bodega del Abad has just joined the wine portfolio of Amathus Drinks. The Bierzo region located in Northwest Spain is experiencing a surge of popularity as sommeliers and consumers are attracted by the combination of ripe yet fresh, elegant, mineral wines which pair superbly with food. The region enjoys a unique microclimate, resulting from the combination of both Atlantic and Mediterranean continental climates, while the steep slate-soiled hillsides are perfect for the production of high-quality grapes. Bodega del Abad was founded in 2000 with a hi-tech winery, and now has 35 hectares of vines split between the red Mencia grape, and the white Godello. The majority of the vineyards are at high altitude and some are over 100 years old. Both red and white wines range from light, fresh unoaked styles to powerful complex barrel aged wines. The value for money across the board is outstanding.

The last 12 months has seen a burst of activity for the wine division of Amathus drinks, with 12 new producers added to their growing portfolio of wine agencies.

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The year started with the high profile signing of leading Champagne house Duval-Leroy, and continued with the addition of organic estates Petit Roubiéand Château La Liquière from the Languedoc, alongside Mas Cristine and Champ des Soeurs from the Roussillon. Other additions include Prosecco producer 8cento and from the Northern Rhône Roland Grangier in St-Joseph and Condrieu, plus the organic Laurent Habrard in Crozes-Hermitage. Progressive Greek producer Avantis Estate further increased the diversity of the portfolio, as did the high-scoring Addendum Napa Cabernets from the team behind Fess Parker. A range of petit château Bordeaux from across the region has added increased depth to the range.

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Further new listings from Spain, South Africa, France and Japan amongst others are to be confirmed very soon, while the rest of 2019 promises a similar wave of new agencies from across the globe as Amathus continue to build a wine range to match the wide-ranging spirit selection for which they are renowned.

Amathus Head of Wine, Jeremy Lithgow MW, said recently: “What Amathus is building is truly exciting; the route to market established by our diverse spirits agencies alongside our ability to offer a comprehensive wholesale package has given us the foundation to build a wine business with the ability to compete against the more established players in the market. Not only are we looking to provide a range of great value every day essentials, but also to offer a diverse range of wines at all levels from quality-driven estates delivering real excitement from all corners of the globe.”

 

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