The Secret’s Out: Exciting Wines from Bolivia

Shouldering against the titans of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Bolivia has undoubtedly got a battle on when it comes to export markets but to be fair wine has only been produced in Bolivia for 400 years or so.

Almost all of Bolivia’s vineyards are located between 1,600 and 3,000 metres above sea level. Indeed, Bolivia may very well be the country with the highest vineyard surface in the world. These lofty altitudes provide high UV exposure and wide ranging diurnal temperatures, giving deep coloured but fresh wines, with ripe tannins and high acidity and have been appropriately been given the name High Altitude Wines.

On a recent visit to Bolivia and with the help and guidance of the Wines of Bolivia Association, Wine Pleasures visited two of Bolivia’s most extensive wine producing regions: The Central Valley of Tarija (El Valle de la Concepción – some 2,400 hectares of vineyards) around but mostly south of the tranquil colonial town of Tarija and to the popular tourist spot of Samaipata (Valleys of Santa Cruz – 100 hectares of vineyards) a 2-3 hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Tarija

The main varieties planted in the central Valley of Tarija are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat, Garnacha and Barbera in reds and Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Franc Colombard and Chenin Blanc in whites.

Bodega La Concepción

First up was a visit to Bodega La Concepción. Started in 1986 with day to day table wines along with Singani Rujero it has evolved into a Premium wine producer making monovarietal and blended wines from the following international grape varieties: Cabernet Suavignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all under the brand name of High Altitude Vines.

Singani Rujero Colección Privada

Distilled from 100% high altitude Muscat of Alexandria, it’s a clear, bright punchy 40% alcohol spirit. Citrus on the nose with floral notes. Smooth velvety mouthfeel with lavender on the palate. Long lingering finish. Our host Carlos Paz Ide informed us that Singani works well in cocktails such as a refreshing Chuflay (ginger ale or lemon- lime soda), Sucumbé (milk, egg and cinnamon – a bit like eggnog), Yungueño (syrup and orange juice) and Té con Té ( hot black tea, cinnamon and lime – warms you up on the high mountains!).

Cepas de Altura Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep intense colour. Red forest fruits on the nose with hints of pepper and fennel. Fruity entrance albeit a tad herbaceous making for a slightly bitter palate. Assertive tannin. Some vanilla on the lingering finish. Should pair very well with a leg of lamb cooked with figs or prunes and some of the local strong cheeses.

Bodegas Kohlberg

After an interesting lunch in Fogon de Gringo in Tarija consisting of mostly meat, rice and vegetables followed by a pancake desert with cloves and aniseed (Tojori) and a red from La Concepción we headed back out for our second winery visit to Bodegas Kohlberg.

Just by entering the winery and seeing the huge towering and numerous inox tanks you would be right to guess that Kohlberg is the largest wine producer in the Tarija region. The wine we tasted was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Malbec (20%) & Syrah (20%) partly aged in new oak barrels. The wine is called 200 Años Gran Reserva and commemorates the bicentennial of Tarija.

200 Años Gran Reserva Edition limitada 2017

Intense fruit aromas of Fruits of the forest, dark cherry. Delicate and discreet fruit on the palate which is light bodied but with strong tannins still  abound. Slightly herbaceous on a subtle fruity finish which is lingering.

Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann

At the family winery Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann we were hosted by winemaker Franz Molina Conzelmann. Pioneer Franz Kuhlmann founded the winery in 1930 and is well known for making Singani and more recently an interesting sparkling wine called Altosama Espumente de Altura a Brut made using the charmat method. Tropical fruit and floral notes. Lively fizz. Fruity palate. Slight bitter almond on the finish. It is featured as one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2019 and was awarded a Gold medal (95 points) in the annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures.

The Singani Los Parrales Reserva Aniversario (100% Muscat of Alexandria) also won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits  Competition.

The winery recently built a state of the art new winery on the outskirts of Tarija in the Santa Ana district with great views of the Santa Ana valley and Alto Sama mountains.

The winery also owns the 5* Resort Hotel Los Parrales (where we stayed) 3.5 Kms out of the town centre which affords views of Tarija and the River Guadalquivír.

Campos de Solana

At Campos de Solana, a large, premium brand open for wine tourism we were hosted by winemaker Nelson Sfarcich and Production Manager Jorge Furio. Working with Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, tannat in reds and Riesling in whites, we were treated to their Decanter (Platinum) award winning wine Único 2016 on what was a flying visit.

Samaipata

For the last leg of our trip to discover wines and wine tourism in Bolivia we were to head to the Valleys of Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is home to only a few small wineries dedicated to the production of wine and Singani. The Valleys of Santa Cruz are located immediately to the Southwest of the Codo de los Andes between 18º and 19º of latitude south. Currently there are up to 300 ha planted but there is a potential to plant as many as 10,000 ha especially around Vallegrande well known by Che Guevara pilgrims. Our destination was to be the Uvairenda winery located close to the touristic town of Samaipata (a two and a half hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra) in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental.

Uvairenda

Francisco Roig, Head Winemaker & Co-Owner of Uvairenda has his vineyards  between 1700 and 1800 meters above sea level on terraced slopes, and is working with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for reds and Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Giménez and Chardonnay for whites. His wines can be best described as boutique and while we did not get the chance to meet Francisco we were able to talk to his colleague, Humberto Andrade in the Uvairenda office and shop in Calle Sucre #700 (Casco Viejo), Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

We tasted the following wines:

1750 – Pedro Giménez 2017 Citrus notes particularly grapefruit on the nose and buttery notes. Creamy texture, bitter almond entrance and palate. Long persistent nutty finish.

1750 – Tannat Vintage 2017 Blackcurrant, licorice, blackberry, herbs, cloves, Fruity entrance, spicy and slightly bitter palate. Pleasant tannins. Long lingering finish.

We asked about the 1750 on the labels expecting it to be a year something happened but in fact it is the minimum altitude of Francisco’s vineyards.

While most have probably never heard of wines of Bolivia let alone tasted any, this could well be all set to change in the coming years as Wines of Bolivia get noticed at trade fairs such as Prowein and international wine competitions. With most tour operators and travel agents currently taking FIT and group travel to La Paz, Lake Titcaca and a flight down to Salar de Uyuni, there is much to be done by the Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo from a wine and culinary tourism perspective as little is currently being done to attract this niche tourism.

Article by Anthony Swift
Photos by Rosa Antelo Moreno

World’s Top Sparkling Wine Competitions

Effervescents du Monde

The longest running competition exclusively for sparkling wines Effervescents du Monde, organised by the Association Forum Œnologie, in participation with the Revue des Œnologues and in partnership with the Castel Culinary School (Dijon, France), which acts as the sensory performance assessment centre for the expert judges, and hosts the competition. The competition receives over 500 entries from over 20 countries. The majority of the entries are from France and involves some 100 international judges. More information here>>

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World Competition

The completion 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World makes for a more competitive competition as medals are only awarded to those producers awarded the 50 best scores. 5 judges are appointed each year with 2 of them being constant. Judges are typically wine buyers/sommeliers with current direct commercial buying responsibility. The competition singles out and shines the spotlight on 50 sparkling wines that consumers really want to buy and have a clear market value for trade buyers. Judging is organised according to method of production. Portugal, Italy and Spain tend to dominate the top 50 positions. More information here>>

The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships

A more sophisticated sparkling wine completion which not only tastes and rates the wines but also breaks down the results into several category winners so for example you have World Champion by Style, National Champion, Regional Champion, Best in Class, Chairman’s Choice and the list goes on. Unique to this competition is that there are just 3 judges namely Tom Stevenson, Essi AveLlan MW and Dr. Tony Jordan and as a team they judge all of the entries on a year on year basis which means constant, reliable and efficient judging. As the name of the competition implies a high number of entries from France. More information here>>

50 Great Cavas

The only competition for sparkling wines produced under Spain’s Designation of Origen, Cava. A panel of 5 international judges from around the world including including Masters of Wine and Sommeliers, importers, wine makers, journalists sit down over two days and judge the Cavas according to 4 categories Cava, Reserva, Gran Reserva, Cava de Paraje. Within each category Cavas are organised in flights according to dosage. Gold and Silver medals are awarded to the top 50 scorers. More information here>>

Brazilian Sparkling Contest

Recognized as the main competition for the promotion of Brazilian sparkling wine, the Brazilian Sparkling Contest receives registrations of sparkling wines obtained from the different methods of production. The sparkling wines are tasted by a select group of tasters chosen by the Associação Brasileira de Enologia (charmat and traditional method). Tasting standards of the International Grape and Wine Organization (OIV) and the International Union of Winemakers (UIOE) continue to guide the event. The best sparkling wines are awarded according to category. More information here>>

Did we miss any? Please feel free to add a comment pointing to a competition not listed here.

Top 50 Sparkling Wines for 2019

From 157 Sparkling wines entered to the annual completion organised by Wine Pleasures, our judges tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2019. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Once again, the competition to find the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has popped a breathtaking blend of award – winning sparkling wines from around the world. Of the 157 sparkling wines entered from diverse terroirs and countries the top 50 are dominated by bubbles from Italy, Portugal & Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Glera, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties such as Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia, Austria, Slovenia and the UK.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. In many cases there was significant ageing on the lees giving wines great character and complexity. Gold medals and classified as Exceptional each with 97 points are Freixenet Can Sala by Freixenet (Penedès (Cava), Spain), Soldati La Scolca Spumante Brut Millesimato d’Antan by La Scolca (Gavi, Italy) and Adega de Palmela Medium Dry by Adega de Palmela (Península de Setúbal, Portugal). 

English new comers to the competition Blackdown Ridge and Court Garden both with vineyards in Sussex make a statement for English Sparkling wine with both obtaining Gold medals.

Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. Most demonstrated a combination of great finesse with a fine mousse and crisp acidity. Three gold medals awarded for this method of production and classified as Outstanding: Eight Carat Cuvee Rosé by Geoff Johnston Wines T/as Pirramimma (McLaren Vale, Australia) , Mateus Sparkling Rosé Brut Baga And Shiraz by Sogrape Vinhos (Porto, Portugal), Viña Albali Sec by Félix Solís Avantis (Castilla La Mancha Valdepeñas, Spain

This year saw just 3 Frizzantes entered with Bonarda Cresta Del Ghiffi by Fratelli Agnes (Lombardia, Italy) gaining a silver medal and a place amongst the 50 Greats.

Quality was high. Traditional method vintage production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €6 to €25 Euros. Charmat method production wines range from €5 to €15.

Bubble lovers will more than likely find it a tough task to find the sparkling wines amongst the 50 Greats published here in their preferred wine retailer as most wines are “boutique” and therefore not mass produced. Best option would be to look online to see if the producers sell direct to the wine lover or if there are any online retailers selling the product.

We hope the results of the competition will encourage both the trade and the wine lover to find, try and enjoy the most exceptional sparkling wines at Christmas and during 2019. To view the great sparkling wine discoveries for 2019 click on the banner below:

After 300 harvests, Mas Codina go back to organic roots

Up in the Alt Penedès, watched over by the impressive peak of Montserrat, Mas Codina is a small organic family winery, which maintains very much of a local and traditional feel, growing 40 hectares of red and white grapes. A lazy Saturday morning provided the perfect excuse to pay a little visit to learn about their personal process and sample some of the fruits of their labours.

The house was constructed back in 1681, with grape cultivation beginning some time after that (records are a little patchy so far back in the mists of time!). When wine production first began, it was originally stored in barrels and sold to other wineries in that format, along with harvested grapes ready for processing, but in 1985 the family began bottling their own wine. The business has grown from there, still today growing all of their own vines, and selling some of their grapes on to other wine producers.

Many of their vines are still in the traditional style of freestanding bushes, making the most of the available space, slowly being replaced by the system of row support wires now more widely seen around the world. The different varieties are planted in differing directions to make the most of the sunlight. While around 10% of the crop is harvested by machine in the cooler night-times in August, the rest is all lovingly harvested by hand slightly later in the year as the other varieties ripen, and more helping hands are available assist with the picking.

Seeking to be kinder to the environment, and also following the increasingly popular trend, Mas Codina was certified as an organic producer in 2017, after the required three years’ conversion period. Today, they use no chemicals on their grapes, only certain minerals such as copper and sulphur to help in natural prevention of crop diseases. In place of harmful insecticides, natural hormones are used to discourage moths from destroying the grapes. Old, gnarly olive trees provide a rustic border to the vineyards, and are also used for the production of organic olive oil.

The cellar keeps the bottles cool to allow the Cavas to age and create their complexity, with climate control if needed to maintain exactly the right temperature during the hot summers’ days. The pressing and storage machines are glistening and modern, to maximise the efficiency of production, but as the winery’s unwritten motto says, the quality of the product is down to the grapes and the traditional know how that goes into their growing and cultivation through the year. Good grapes mean a good final product; the machines simply facilitate the process.

The grapes are separated from the twigs, cooled to around 15° to protect the aroma and avoid oxidation, and pressed. Like many grape growers, Mas Codina keep only the finest grapes and the first pressing for themselves, selling off any excess and further pressings to other wineries. Of the wine produced, 70% is cava, and the rest is still wine, both red and white. Roughly 65% is exported, 25% being consumed in the local Catalan region, and 10% being consumed elsewhere in Spain – it seems the rest of Spain has not yet discovered the deliciousness within.

As any good winery visit should, ours ended with a tasting.  Seated around a small round table, the anticipation was palpable – having featured several times previously in the annual 50 Great Cavas competition, it was little surprise that the Cava we tried was delicious, and it was just a shame there was not the chance to try more – rumour has it that the Mas Codina Brut Rosé is especially tasty!

The award winning Cava we tasted on the day was the Mas Codina Brut Nature Reserva 2015

Tim Hall
Travel Blog Writer>>

Wine Pleasures To Show Award Winning Sparkling Wines in London

Organisers of two annual sparkling wine competitions, Wine Pleasures takes a selection of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World and a sample of some of the 50 Great Cavas from Spain (the only competition exclusively for Cava) to the London trade and media at the Glass of Bubbly Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting & Summit London 30 April 2018.

50 Great Cavas 2018 – The Competition has been running for 8 years and is valued by wine importers from around the world when it comes to discovering great Cavas for import.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2018 – The Competition  has been running for 5 years and is an off spring of the 50 Great Cava initiative accommodating all methods of production of sparkling wines from around the globe.

At the 50 Great Cava table will be the following gold and silver medal winning producers and Cavas:

Celler Vell Brut Nature Reserva 2014
Cava Gran Fuchs de Vidal Reserva, Brut Nature 2014.
Via De La Plata Chardonnay Brut Nature Reserva 2015
Mas Codina Brut Reserva 2015
Cava Adernats Gran Reserva Brut Nature 2012
Castellroig Brut Nature Gran Reserva Josep Coca 2011
Finca Valldosera Subirat Parent Brut Nature 2011
Finca Valldosera Brut Nature 2012

View the 50 Great Cavas for 2018 here>>

At the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World table will be the following gold and silver medal winning producers and sparkling wines:

Contro Tempo Ortrugo dei Colli Piacentini DOC 2017 by Mossi 1558, Italy
Charmat Method
Astoria Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato 2017 by Astoria, Italy. Charmat Method
Donna Giulia 2013 by Fattoria Le Terrazze, Italy. Traditional Method. Competition winner!
Verduzzo Grand Dessert 2015 by Cormons, Italy. Charmat Method
Brut Rosé  2014 by Baracchi Winery, Italy. Traditional Method
Zlata Radgonska Penina Selection  2014 by Radgonske Gorice, Slovenia. Traditional Method
Cuvage Rosé Brut Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC 2017 by Cuvage, Italy. Traditional Method
Côto de Mamoelas 2015 by Provam, Portugal. Traditional Method

View the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World for 2018 here>>

Venue: Le Méridien Piccadilly Hotel London W1J 0BH

Date & Time: Monday 30th April 2018  11:00 – 18:00

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2018 Revealed

Top 50 Sparkling Wines of the World. Our experts tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2018. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Yet again, the competition to find the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has popped a breathtaking range of award – winning sparkling wines from around the world. Close on 100 sparkling wines were entered from diverse terroirs and countries with the top 50 dominated by bubbles from Italy, Portugal & Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Glera, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties based on Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia and Slovenia.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. In many cases there was significant ageing on the lees giving wines great character and complexity. Gold medals and classified as exceptional each with 97 points are Donna Giulia by Le Terrazze di Antonio Terni (Italy), Rovellats Gran Reserva Brut Nature by Rovellats (Spain) and Vía de la Plata Rosado by Vía de la Plata (Spain)

Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. Most demonstrated a combination of great finesse with a fine mouthfeel and crisp acidity. Just two gold medals awarded for this method of production: Verduzzo Gran Dessert by Cormons (Italy) and Prosecco Spumante DOC Brut by Bacio della Luna Spumanti (Italy). Once again, this year saw a couple of Frizzantes by Fratelli Agnes (Italy) make the 50 Greats.

Quality was high – all of the Sparkling wines included in the competition have scored at least 90 points. Traditional method vintage production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €6 to €25 Euros. Charmat method production wines range from €5 to €20.

Bubble lovers will more than likely find it a tough task to find the sparkling wines amongst the 50 Greats published here in their preferred wine retailer as most wines are “boutique” and therefore not mass produced. Best option would be to look online to see if the producers sell direct to the wine lover or if there are any online retailers selling the product.

We hope the results of the competition will encourage both the trade and the wine lover to find, try and enjoy the most exceptional sparkling wines at Christmas and during 2018.

Discover the 50 Great Sparkling Wines here>>

50 Stellar Sparkling Wines for 2017

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World by Wine Pleasures

Top 50 Sparkling Wines of the World. Our experts tasted through premium bubblies from around the Old and New World to bring you the best 50 available for 2017. Anthony Swift, Competition Director looks at the results.

Close on 100 sparkling wines were entered from diverse terroirs and countries such as: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa and Spain.  Diverse too were the grape varieties used to make top quality sparkling wines such as Alvarinho and Touriga Nacional from Portugal, Trebbiano & Sangiovese from Italy, Macabeo, Perellada & Xarel.lo from Spain as well as the classic Champagne varieties based on Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir made in Australia, France and South Africa.

In the case of sparkling wines made using the traditional method these were classified and tasted according to dosage and ageing time on the lees. Sparkling wines made using the Charmat method were classified and tasted according to dosage. This year saw a couple of Frizzantes make the 50 Greats.

Quality was high – all of the Sparkling wines included in the competition have scored at least 90 points. Traditional method production dominated the competition with some nice prices, most ranging from €6 to €35 Euros with several coming in at €40 and anything up to €145. Charmat method production wines range from €6.50 to €15

Sparkling Wines made using the Traditional Method

Champagne Collet wins the Traditional method production category with a Gold triple Esprit Couture (NV), Brut Vintage 2006 Collection Privée, and Millesime 2006 each receive a score of 97 points have been classified as Exceptional

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

10 Sparkling Wines also with Gold and classified as Exceptional are Soldati la Scolca D’Antan Blanc de Blancs Brut & Soldati la Scolca Spumante Brut by La Scolca (Piemonte, Italy), The Rosé by Velenosi (Marche, Italy), QM Alvarinho Super Reserva by Quintas de Melgaço (Vinho Verde, Portugal), La Pamelita & Insolitam by Lobban Wines (Penedès, Spain), Mascolino Metodo Classico Vino Bianco Spumante Brut 60 Mesi by Faccioli Enzo (Veneto, Italy), Brut Art Deco by Champagne Collet (Champagne, France), Cremant D’Alsace Brut Rosé by Caves Meyer Thuet (Alsace, France) & Montesquius Gran Reserva 2004 Brut Nature Magnum by Montesquius (Cava, Spain).

Sparkling Wines made using the Charmat Method

Welgemeend Estate Winery  Sparkling Symphony 2016 (Paarl/ Stellenbosch, South Africa) & La Canosa Brut Rosé (Marche, Italy) top the ratings each with 95 points and are awarded Gold.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Silver medal winners with 94 points include Bettili Cristiana (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy) Prosecco Brut Polzner and Velenosi (Marche, Italy) Passerina Brut.

The 2017 edition of 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World takes the form of a 18 page full colour collectable publication and contains all the Gold and Silver medal winners with photos and tasting notes for each. The magazine also outlines how Sparkling wine is made, clarifies the difference between the Traditional and Charmat method. 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2017 is available to view free and is a useful resource for both the trade and the end wine consumer/wine traveller.

Read more about 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World>>

50-great-sparkling-wines-for-2017Also of interest:

50 Great Cavas 2017 – the best of Cava for 2017>>

50-great-cavas-2017

Nastl Riesling Sparkles in Austria’s Langenlois

The Nastl winery is a celebrated winery in the Kamptal area of Austria, in the lovely town of Langenlois.  They are a particularly well-known producer of the Grüner Veltliner in Austria.  Due to the specialization of this grape, they are able to offer five different types of wines made from Grüner Veltliner grown in their own vineyards.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThe tradition of winemaking in the Nastl family dates back to as early as 1656.  For nearly 400 years, the Nastl family has been creating wines of outstanding quality in Austria.  The heads of the family today are Günter and Renate.  They, alongside their children Christian, Alexander and Petra, have taken the winemaking to a whole new level of excellence.  The entire family exudes special passion for food and wine.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldAfter nearly two decades of growing grapes and wine making, the family decided that it was time for a new cellar.  The idea was to combine the typical underground cellar, which is carved deeply into the loess beneath the winery, with a new cellar that can meet all the requirements for state-of-the-art winemaking.  It was in 2003 that the new cellar was inaugurated with the first harvest.  The three level cellar is a marriage of four hundred years of wine making tradition and more efficient modern wine making techniques.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldLangenlois, hometown of the Nastl family, is the biggest wine town in Austria.  Situated in the romantic Kamptal region of Lower Austria, only 70 km northwest of Vienna.  The landscape is a picturesque expanse of rivers and rolling hills dotted with castles, manors and wineries. The name of this region comes from the river Kamp, which flows through this area and lends special qualities to the terroir here.

Nastl Riesling Sekt 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThis area is famous for not only the aforementioned Grüner Veltliner, but also Riesling and Muskateller (also known as Muscat Ottonel).  The terroir is perfect for these grape varietals. The sandstone slopes are very steep, so only a thin layer of soil is retained, and exposure to the sun is high.  Riesling thrives on steep slopes such as these.  The micro-climate and soils are perfect for growing grapes to create delicate and refreshing wines.  The atmospheric conditions allow an interplay between hot days and cool nights, and the terroir is mainly rock, silt and loess.  These are some of the factors that impart lively aromas, subtle fruit, complexity and bright acidity to the wine.

The Nastl family not only produce some of the most remarkable wines of the area, they have also run a special restaurant, known as the Heuriger, for over 40 years!  This luminous, cozy space is nestled in a grove of walnut trees near the Nastl winery.  The restaurant is open for a few weeks at a time, only three times per year (April, August and October); to offer carefully selected pairings of traditional Austrian cuisine with their exquisite wine.  They also host tastings and special events.

The Nastl winery offers tours and tastings, and reservations must be made in advance directly through the winery.

Nastl has the following sparkling wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016>>

Riesling Sekt (Silver medal with 93 pts) Mango, papaya, candied fruit and melon with hints of flowers. Palate is medium bodied and fruity, boasting a great seam of acidity. Youthful. Front Cover 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

 

Argentinan “Mascota” Sparkles Gold in 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World

Rodolfo Sadler, affectionately known as “Opi” has had an illustrious career in the Argentinean wine world.  With over 25 years of experience, Opi is known for exceptional deftness and knowledge of vineyards and grapes with a particular mastery of the different Argentinean terroirs.  Having learned and perfected his craft working for the likes of the National Institute of Viticulture, and Bodegas Santa Ana, Opi started Mascota as a place to showcase his skill and passion for winemaking.

La Mascota 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016Located in Finca La Mascota, the vineyards sit at the foot of the Andes in an area labelled “Primera Zona,” and recognised as Argentina’s best wine region.  A place with wide temperamental range with alluvial soil comprised of rock underneath clay-loam surface and near the Mendoza River, make for an ideal microclimate for Mascota’s 97 hectares of vineyards.

mv-lm-entrancela-mascota-sparkling-rose-extra-brut-3Inside the cellars, Opi’s hands-on approach means wines are carefully brought to maturity through small batch fermentation and barrel aging.  Expressive tastes are achieved through a combination of skill with artistic license, but with a strict focus on balance and varietal character that reflects the terroirs of the land.  This isn’t to say that refreshing and bright flavours take a back seat to woody or earthy tones that can often times by imbued from barrel aging, but rather base wines and curvee are crafted to enhance fruit flavours that add complexity and boldness to the final product.

Mascota is the culmination of Opi’s achievements as a prolific and celebrated winemaker.  Winemaking is his art, and Mascota is his canvas, where he has shown his ability to create exceptional wines ranging from basic, still, to high end, and sparkling.  No matter the price range, every bottle of Mascota is created with the same care and love and taste like an expensive treat.

La Mascota has the following sparkling wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016>>

La Mascota Sparkling (Gold medal with 94 pts) A wonderfully lively wine with a real dynamic play between acidity and fresh red summer fruits. Wild strawberry and lemon rind on the nose. A brisk style that is attractive and pleasant.Front Cover 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016

 

Great Sparkling Wine by the Sea from Les Caves Richemer

The story of Les Caves Richemer begins in France in the year 1998.  This is the year that the cooperative wineries of D’Adge and Marsaillen were married, bringing 450 winemakers together and giving birth to what would soon become numerous wine ranges of outstanding quality.  The name Les Caves Richemer comes from Henri Richet, a legendary local winemaker who became very wealthy from sea borne wine trader, especially vermouth.  The cooperative adopted the name Henri de Richemer, and working together they began to thrive and create exceptional wines.

Les Caves Richemer 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldEach year, at the end of the summer, hoppers loaded with grapes sit side by side the numerous boats docked at Marsaillen.  This is because the wine cellar of Henri de Richemer is in the very heart of the city, on the port!  The wines are sold very close to where they are produced, in the three wine shops of Les Caves Richemer, those in Marsaillen-Ville, Marsaillen-Plage (the beach of Marsaillen) and D’Adge.

Les Caves Richemer wines are separated into five special ranges and produce a total of 300,000 bottles of wine per year, all made from grapes grown in the regions of Hérault, Côtes de Thau and from the Pays d’Oc

The 450 winegrowers of this cooperative have a combined 1,500 hectares of vineyards.  In their unique location between land and sea, the vineyards of Les Caves Richemer create exceptionally bright white, rose and sparkling wines.  This is partly because of the soil in the Mediterranean waterfront, which is mainly composed of tertiary sediments (clay and sand) and quaternary (gravel) which are particularly conducive to growing grapes with delicate and complex flavours.

Les Caves Richemer 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThe climate of this area is heavily influenced by the vineyards’ proximity to the second largest lake in France, the Etang de Thau.  This is the largest in a string of lagoons in France that stretches from the Rhône River to the foothills of the Pyrenees, and lends a specific moisture and freshness imperative for creating beautifully subtle and delicate wines.

Their ranges include wines made from traditional single grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Their iconic range of cuvées, the Terre & Mer, focuses on vins de pays made with local varieties of grapes.  These are Terret for whites, Marselan and Syrah for rosés and reds, and both noir and blanc Piquepol.  Only the oldest wines are used for this range, which is the special of Les Caves Richemer. These are very special grapes and the wines that the cooperative of Les Caves  Richemer have created with them are truly outstanding.

Les Caves Richemer 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldLes Caves Richemer 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the WorldThe doors of the cellar of Henri de Richemer face the beautiful port, and surely have had a hand in perpetuating the traditions of the first port on the Thau, as well as promoting the rich architectural and urban heritage of the waterfront.

Les Caves Richemer has the following sparkling wine amongst the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016>>

Terre &t Mer Brut (Gold medal with 96 pts) Fresh orange and floral notes. Fruity attack with sprightly acidity. Clean lines. Short pleasant finish. Youthful.Front Cover 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2016