Reawakening the spirit of Scotland’s rugged North Shore

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Just over 2 weeks ago we saw the arrival of our new agency whisky, Wolfburn. This was a very exciting time for us, not only to have this wonderful whisky added to our portfolio but also because it’s a brand new single malt whisky, fresh to the market. This doesn’t happen a lot in the whisky world, so you can imagine how ecstatic we were to be given the honour of distributing Wolfburn throughout the UK.

So here’s a bit of background for you:

In 2011 the founders of Wolfburn Single Malt Whisky travelled to Thurso in Caithness, in search of the old Wolfburn distillery. All that remained was the flow of water that once fed the mash tun and stills many years ago. The team were convinced that if the water was still there, then the whisky could be too. In May 2012, the purchase of the land was finalised. By January 2013 the new Wolfburn distillery was complete and on Burns Night, a cask of Wolfburn Whisky – the first for nearly 150 years – was laid down in Thurso.

 

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Using unpeated malt, master distiller Shane Fraser and his team have crafted the latest incarnation of Wolfburn Whisky from a blank canvas by pot still distillation, the old way; no automation, no rush and a lot of care. Aged in Spanish and American oak casks, Wolfburn Single Malt Whisky is wonderfully unique in flavour. It’s light and fragrant with aromas of fruit, malt and a hint of peat. It’s sweet and nutty on the pallet, leaving a pleasant flavour of smoke in the mouth.

Spotlit Stage

 

As well as the Single Malt bottle there is also the Inaugural release. Crafted from the very first casks from the new Wolfburn distillery, it’s truly something for collectors and connoisseurs. Limited in number to 875 bottles (100 for the UK market), each individually numbered and engraved, and presented in a hand-made oak box.

The whisky inside was selected by Shane Fraser specifically to become Wolfburn’s first. Using long fermentation, long slow distillation, and matured in hand-selected casks, it is genuinely something very very special.


 

Since its release on the 14th March, Wolfburn Whisky has already taken the market by storm and is fast becoming a whisky that everyone is talking about. From articles in Harpers Food & Drink Magazine to fantastic reviews from the likes of Dave Broom, a very well-known writer in the whisky world. Scoring it an 8/10 and branding it ‘one to watch’, Broom adds ‘I’ve been impressed with Wolfburn’s quality from the word go and this doesn’t disappoint.’

To read the full review, please visit bit.ly/wolfburn.

Wolfburn Dave Broom


If you require anymore information on any of the two products, please visit our website or pop in to your nearest Amathus store.

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Famous Bordeaux Château turns to Argentina

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So, last week we saw the arrival of our new agency winery from Argentina.. Please say hello to Cuvelier Los Andes.

The story began in 1804 when Henri Cuvelier set out to share his great passion for fine wine with his friends and family across North France. It wasn’t long before he opened H. Cuvelier and Fils, a wine merchant company, whose rapid success continued to develop throughout the 19th century.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Cuvelier family anticipated the inevitable rise in château bottled wine, so decided to purchase top quality estates in the Bordeaux area. This began with the purchase of Château Le Crock in 1903, Château Camensac in 1912 and finally the prestigious Château Léoville Poyferré in 1920 (the one they’re extremely well known for).

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In the 1990’s, Bertrand and Jean-Guy Cuvelier decided to spread their wings and turned their attention to Mendoza in Argentina, where they worked firstly with Michel Rolland on his Clos de La Siete project. By 1999, the Cuvelier family had begun to plant their own vineyards – Cuvelier Los Andes – and produced their first wine under this label in 2003.

To this day, Michel Rolland, wine consultant for many of the world’s leading wineries, continues to oversee the winemaking at Cuvelier Los Andes.

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So let’s take a look at what Cuvelier Los Andes wines we’re lucky enough to have added to our portfolio.

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First up we have the Cuvelier Los Andes Coleccion Blend 2011. Malbec leads this wonderfully balanced and juicy blend, rounded by Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Aged for 12 months in French oak barrels this red delivers world class poise with a spicy flourish and aromas of blackberry, liquorice, bitter chocolate and a touch of violet. You do not need to be a wine connoisseur to appreciate this impeccable red!

cla_malbec_2013Next we have the Cuvelier Los Andes Coleccion Malbec 2013, a full bodied red with a lush texture, freshness, balance and just enough acidity. Its deep purple colour has stunning aromas of espresso, black cherry and raspberry. This is a definite must for all Malbec fans!

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Finally we have the Cuvelier Los Andes Grand Vin 2010, a full bodied, rich red with chocolate, hazelnut and fruit characters. Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months this Grand Vin is Malbec prevailing, softened and completed with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.


If you would like any more information on any of the wines above, please visit our website or pop in to your nearest store.

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Twelve generations of Le Brun winemakers

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So what better way to welcome a new month than with the arrival of our new sparkling wines from Marlborough, New Zealand. Introducing to you.. No.1 Family Estate!

No. 1 Family Estate was founded in 1997 by Daniel Le Brun, his wife Adele and their children Virginie and Remy. Each of the wines are made using the same process perfected by Daniel’s Champagne-making family in France over the last 12 generations.

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The winery is set out with state of the art processing equipment imported from Champagne. They focus on producing limited edition wines, using top quality grapes, which are grown specifically for making Methode Traditionelle wines.

Daniel & Virginie

So let’s journey back to where it all began with their No.1 Cuvée Blanc de Blanc NV.

No1

Released in 1999, No.1 Cuvée was the first wine ever produced by the estate. Nowadays, it is one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded Methode Traditionelle wines, winning numerous gold medals and awards since its release.

No.1 Cuvée is 100% Chardonnay (blanc de blancs) with fresh, vibrant citrus and floral characters. The wine is held on lees for at least two years, allowing the perfect level of maturity. The palate is smooth and seamless with a wonderful balance of acidity, giving a wine of elegance and style!

Rose

A cut above most sparkling rose’s, No.1 Cuvée Rosé NV is fresh and lively with subtle hints of cherry and almond. This 100% Pinot Noir is very elegant with a delicate salmon-pink colour and a mass of tiny bubbles. This wine celebrates the superb climate of Marlborough and will continue to age and delight for another two to three years.

 

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No.1 Assemble NV is a fitting stablemate for their Cuvée No 1 (100% Chardonnay) and No 1 Rosé (100% Pinot Noir), as it assembles both the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay into a traditional blend.

A non-vintage brut, Assemblé is fresh and inviting with sophisticated and intense flavours of green apples, lime and melon. It’s extremely easy to drink and is a great accompaniment with fresh seafood… prawns and bubbles is a pairing I wouldn’t say no to!

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Each year, a limited amount of their No.1 Cuvée is set aside for long-term, ageing on lees and released after several years as a ‘Reserve’. The extended ageing on the lees has given it a more intense flavour with extra richness, complex biscuity notes and a well balanced delicate freshness.

The No.1 Reserve is limited to 1000 bottles, each of which have been individually hand numbered and labelled. We feel extremely lucky to have this added to our portfolio and available for you to purchase.


If you would like any more information on any of the wines above, please visit our website or pop in to your nearest store.

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New & Exclusive to Amathus: Tsiakkas Wines

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So, last week was a very exciting week for Amathus as we saw the arrival of our new Tsiakkas Wines from Cyprus. Cyprus probably isn’t the first country that comes to mind when you think of wine, but this region is definitely renowned for its wine-making skills, producing some seriously impressive, flavoursome wines.

To a lot of people, Cypriot wines can be mistaken for ‘new world’ wines but what is actually quite surprising is that the history of winemaking in Cyprus is very old. In fact, it’s one of the oldest in the world. Recent excavations by Italian archaeologists suggest that wine-making in Cyprus may have existed 6,000 years ago but it wasn’t until the 1990’s when the country’s wine-making skills really began to shine.

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The location of Cyprus, 50 miles off the south coast of Turkey, certainly provides a challenging environment for the nation’s winemakers. Over the years numerous international and native grape varieties, such as Xynisteri, have been planted. These varietals have spent hundreds – if not thousands – of years adapting to the hot and dry conditions and now form the basis of premium wine production in Cyprus.

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Tsiakkas

Tsiakkas Winery is located in the village of Pelendri in the Pitsilia region of Cyprus, which is traditionally well-known for its grape vines. Costas Tsiakkas established the winery in 1988 which he runs together with his wife Maria. The winery produces a range of wines from grapes varieties such as Chardonnay, Xynisteri, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tsiakkas Winery prides itself on producing high quality wines, which continue to improve in quality year after year.
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So let’s take a look at some of the wines Tsiakkas Winery produce (each of the wines are now available to purchase from all Amathus stores and from our website too)
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The Tsiakkas Xynisteri 2014 is an exceptional white wine made from the grape variety Xynisteri. On the nose you get aromas of lime, green apple, herbs and beautiful floral notes. Its high acidity completes its fresh, lively, yet delicate style. This wine is bottled fresh to retain its citrus aromas, has a medium body and long lasting finish.

 

wine bottle Pictures 012Tsiakkas Vamvakada 2013 is a red wine made from the indigenous variety Vamvakada. It’s a medium bodied wine with spicy currants and vanilla undertones. It has a distinct taste of dark forest fruits, firm tannins and is said to age extremely well over time. I guess the longer you leave it, the better!

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Tsiakkas Winery is one of the producers that have returned to producing the historic dessert wine Commandaria. Tsiakkas Commandaria 2008 is made using natural fermentation avoiding the use of fortification, to retain its fruits. The wine is aged for 4 years in small oak casks at very low temperatures. On the nose you get hints of crème brulee, coffee, roasted dry nuts and quince! It’s best paired with sour desserts, so go for something lemony- we’d recommend the obvious choice and the best dessert ever.. lemon cheesecake!


We’re thrilled to have Tsiakkas Wines in our portfolio and we’re really excited for you all to try them!

If you would like any more information on any of the wines above, please visit our website or pop in to your nearest store.

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Try our delicious new range of Contratto

Try our delicious new range of Contratto, now sold in store and online. The range includes three Vermouth’s (Americano, Bianco and Rosso), an Aperitif and a Bitter. all_together (4)

Contratto was founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto. The winery is known as the oldest producer of sparkling wine in Italy. In 150 years of wine making, Contratto went from producing sparkling Moscato and red wine to still wines, Vermouth, Tonic and Syrups. The winery is now owned by La Spinetta who acquired it in 2011. Since then they have reintroduced Contratto to the world and continued to preserve and uphold its 140-year-old tradition and top quality.

The aromatic blend of herbs and spices in the Contratto Vermouth’s, Aperitif and Bitter, create a unique bouquet and well-balanced taste!

Now let’s delve a little deeper into the making and flavours of the Contratto products we have available.

Contratto Vermouth’s

The original recipe from the early 19th century for Contratto Vermouth is based on a combination of white wine and Italian brandy and more than 50 delicately infused natural herbs, spices, roots and seeds. This traditional process is again used to create a sophisticated elixir and a complex and well-balanced boutique aperitif that will make any Vermouth based cocktail an exceptional experience. They’re the perfect Vermouth’s for classic and contemporary mixology.

All three Vermouth’s are delicious served chilled on their own with a twist of lemon or orange.

We can’t give you the whole list of aromas and flavours in the Contratto Vermouth’s (because that’s a secret!) but here’re some of the ones you will find.

Contratto Americano Rosso

Ginger, mint leaves, hibiscus flower, hawthorn flower, nettle leaves, angelica leaves, bitter and sweet orange peel, rhubarb, sage liquorice and much more.

Contratto Vermouth Bianco

Coriander seeds, bay laurel leaves, yellow sweet clover, cinnamon, angelica roots, nutmeg, bitter orange peel, carob tree pods, pimento seeds, rhubarb roots, sage, bark of china, lemon peel, sweet orange peel, liquorice roots, sandal wood and many more.

Contratto Rosso

Hawthorn flowers and seeds, coriander seeds, marjoram leaves, bay laurel leaves, chamomile leaves, yellow sweet clover, aloe juice, cinnamon, mint leaves, ginger roots, angelica roots, nutmeg and sage.

From Vermouth’s to Bitters and Aperitifs, Contratto can certainly do it all!

Contratto Bitter

The original recipe for Contratto Bitter dates back to 1933 and is based on a mixture of delicately infused, premium natural herbs, spices, roots and seeds combined with Italian Brandy. A slow, cold maceration process is carried out resulting in a sophisticated, all-natural elixir.

Contratto Aperitif

Similar to Contratto Bitter a slow, cold maceration process is carried out resulting in a sophisticated, all natural elixir. This complex yet well-balanced boutique aperitif is capable of turning any Contratto Aperitif based cocktail into a wonderful experience.

 If you want more information on any of these products please visit our website, or head in to your closest Amathus store:

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A Wine Tasting Journey with Idiom Estate

Amathus Drinks is thrilled to have South African, family run winery, Idiom in its portfolio so when we had the opportunity to taste their range of wines with Roberto Bottega, we couldn’t let it pass. Roberto is the son of Alberto who set up the winery as a retirement project in 1997. You can read more about the history of the family and the winery by following the link, but for now we’re going to be focussing on the wines themselves. This blog will just look at the French influenced wines but follow the link and you can explore the Italian varietals too.

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Taste the Journey

Despite being categorised as a New World wine making country, the climate in and around Stellenbosch in South Africa is actually more similar to that of the French wine making regions; the cool sea breezes from both the Atlantic and Indian oceans and the cooler temperatures found at altitude up the mountains are to thank for this. The grapes benefit from glorious New World sunshine but with cooler, Old World temperatures which allow for elegant, refined wines.

Roberto and his family have taken their influence from these factors and have produced wines that mimic some of the iconic wines of France. In our master class we started in the Rhone Valley and began by tasting the only white in the range, Viognier.

Idiom Viognier 2011

This expressive, elegant white emulates the iconic wine from Condrieu. The texture is incredibly rounded and complex thanks, in part, to two pickings taking place. The first just before the grapes are at their prime ripeness, this retains the freshness, acidity and elegance, and the second later on when the grapes are fully ripe, succulent and with optimum sugars. 50% of the wine is then fermented in new French oak barrels to add a spicy, warmth to the final blend before all the wine is matured in older barrels. The result is a rich, creamy, spicy wine with notes of apricot, honey, blossom, lime peel and peach. The finish lingers beautifully on the tongue to ensure you appreciate this multifaceted wine to its full effect.

Staying in Northern Rhone we moved onto the reds with a wine that emulates Cote-Rotie:

Idiom Shiraz, Mourvedre, Viognier 2008

The blend here is 52% Shiraz, 44% Mourvedre and 4% Viognier. The addition of a little bit of white wines adds a real elegance and refinement to the finish of wine and ‘cools’ the heat of the reds grapes. The three are vinified separately then expertly blended to achieve the perfect balance. The result is a sumptuous yet savoury wine with notes of smoky bacon, cloves, herbs and licorice but cram-packed full of juicy black cherries and black currants. It’s a really inviting wine, but be warned, there are sinister undertones lurking in its dark, brooding depths.

Next we move west to visit Bordeaux and a wine style that South Africa has become well known for:

Idiom Bordeaux Blend 2007

Right in the middle of the floral kingdom of the Western Cape is where we find the vineyards that grow the grapes for this exciting blend. The Bottega family have allowed many different clones of different grape varieties to grow on different patches of vineyard with different aspects and soil profiles. When skilfully blended the final wine shows many small bumps of complexity rather than one large peak. It is this complexity of black currant, black berry, mace spice, wild flowers, fruit cake and ripe plums, along with firm tannin and fresh acidity, that make this wine fine and elegant for drinking now but with the potential to age for a further 5 years. Simply delicious.

Our final wine in this flight is something unique to South Africa that has its root firmly back in France.

Idiom Cape Blend 2008

To be called a Cape Blend a wine must have a minimum of 30% Pinotage along with, usually, but not always, Bordeaux varietals. Pinotage was developed in South Africa as a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, both French varietals. The rest of this Idiom Cape Blend is 40% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. It exudes cassis and sweet red cherry, which are balanced with warming pudding spice, worn leather and a mushroom earthiness. It is enticing and intriguing and a delight to drink, especially now the nights are drawing in.

If you liked the sound of Idiom range so far, check out the Italian style wines they produce too, just follow the link. Or if you’d like to explore the French style wines for yourself, Amathus Knightsbride will be hosting a comparative masterclass on Thursday 20th November. Email tastings@amathusdrinks.com to book your place and join us to compare the Idiom wines with their French counterparts.

Artisanal Cachaça: The Versatility of Germana, by David T Smith

With the closing of London’s Olympic Season for 2012, my thoughts turned to the host of the 2016 Games and the 2014 Football World Cup, Brazil. With the sporting world’s eyes on this South American powerhouse, no doubt interests will also increase for their national spirit, Cachaça.

Anyone who is familiar with the drinks industry will know that Gin, Cognac, Rum and, now, Tequila have all grown in popularity, but, for many, Cachaça still remains an unfamiliar spirit.

An introduction to what Cachaça is can be found here on the Amathus site and so, to avoid repetition, let’s move on to looking at one brand in more detail.

Germana is made by Uniagro, but was first made by the Caetano family on their Vista Alegra ranch in 1912; the family still retain some ownership today. The name “Germana” means something that is genuine, pure, without mixing. It was also the name of a mystical nun who used Cachaça in medicinal preparations.

Germana is an artisanal Cachaça, made without the addition of sugar or chemicals and from spirit that is distilled in copper pot stills. They also use natural fermentation (using the cornmeal-fed yeast in the sugar cane) for their mash.

Today, we are looking at their Unaged Cachaça (40%ABV), but Germana also make Cachaça that has been aged for 2 years and 10 years, as well as a Single Barrel and a Heritage bottling. Some of the bottles are wrapped in dried banana leaves, which is hark back to a tradition started a century ago to protect the bottles as they were transported.

On its own
Nose: Very fruity: figs, raisins; lots of jammy fruit. Also, a touch of spice.
Taste: Quite thick in texture, this is also rather rum-like, with flavours of dark treacle and raisins. It reminds me somewhat of Pusser’s or Wood’s Rum. The finish was clean, woody and dry.

Caipirinha
Cooling and clean, with some hints of smoked ham and anise. Simple, but effective and with character, this is very easy to enjoy, having some depth but not being overly-complex.

But there is more to the spirit than these two drinks and it is not just a beverage for the hot months; to illustrate this, I have used the unaged Germana in four seasonal cocktails.

Spring – Marmalade Sour
[30ml Cachaça. 10ml Lemon Juice, 1tsp Marmalade, 2 Dashes Orange Bitters – SHAKE]
This is a variation on Harry Craddock’s Marmalade Cocktail.
This drink is superb. I like gin, but I actually prefer this drink with Cachaça. The sweet, juicy elements of the Cachaça complements the rich, bitter-sweetness of the marmalade, with the lemon juice bringing balance to the drink. Delicious.

Summer – Woody Woodpecker
[40ml Cachaça, 15ml Orange Juice, 10ml Galliano – SHAKE]
OK, so this is not exactly the epitome of Brazilian tradition, but it’s a variation on a drink that many will be familiar with, the Harvey Wallbanger.
The drink is smooth and clean, but surprisingly sweet, making it more well-suited to a post- rather than pre-dinner drink. The sweet Galliano brings out the sweet, fruity flavours of the Germana. For a tarter drink, add 10ml of lemon juice.

Autumn – Rabo de Galo
[30ml Cachaça, 10ml Red Vermouth – SHAKE]
A traditional Brazilian cocktail, this is simple, but packed full of flavour. Warming, with the herbal notes, this is well-suited as an aperitif to stimulate the appetite. Very tasty.

Winter – Quentão
A traditional drink for the Brazilian Winter; a sort of mulled Cachaça. I used a mix of Cachaça, sugar, water, ginger, cloves and other spices, along with citrus peel, which I heated in a saucepan and then served in heatproof glasses.
The spicy ginger and christmas spices complement the juicy and jammy notes of the Cachaça, making for a cosy, warming and comforting drink – perfect for keeping the chills at bay.

After exploring Germana Cachaça a little more, I am impressed with its versatility, being easy to use in a whole range of cocktails, from summer coolers to winter warmers. My favourite was the Marmalade Sour, although I am quite fond of drinking Germana on its own.

 

By
David T Smith
Summer Fruit Cup
david@summerfruitcup.com
http://www.summerfruitcup.com
07759 419997