New World order


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Catriona Felstead MW – New World Buyer for both Wine Club and the business as a whole – recalls the bottle that first drew her to wine, and outlines the winemaking regions inspiring her today

My husband remembers things by football matches – he has an amazingly accurate ability to recall where he was and what he was doing by the football results for that day (Liverpool winning the Champions League in 2005 is probably the main reason that he remembers our anniversary; our wedding was just a few days later). I remember wines.

I will never forget the first moment when I truly ‘got into’ wine. I was travelling around Spain in 1997 with a friend, having spent a year abroad in France as part of my degree. We went to what was advertised as the oldest bar in Granada and I asked for a glass of red wine. It was an old-style Rioja, and quite the most incredible thing I had ever tasted. I was converted. Wine has been a passion for me ever since.

One of the worst questions you can be asked as a Master of Wine is, ‘what is your favourite wine?’ There are so many that it is impossible to say. I still love Spanish wines – that first experience in Granada will always keep them close to my heart. However, fine Rieslings, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Cabernet blends and Syrahs are also up there, not to mention less mainstream styles such as Roussanne and Carignan. For me, the balance of the wine is key – that is, the interplay between the fruit, acidity, alcohol and tannins (in reds and in some white wines too). Freshness is so important – the desire to want to take another sip, or to pour another glass. When buying wine, one of the most important things to ask yourself is, ‘would I want to drink this at home?’

The New World offers a wonderful variety of wines of all shapes, sizes and colours, and I am fortunate enough to be in a position to pass on my enthusiasm for these to our customers at Berry Bros. & Rudd. It is an exciting area for us and one that has the potential to be developed further. Australia has undergone a couple of transformations over the past decade but it seems that it is finally achieving that elusive balance between flavour and freshness. Chile and Argentina offer wonderful opportunities for high quality, cool climate wines whilst up-and-coming South African producers such as Mullineux in Swartland are creating truly fascinating blends.

New Zealand is refining its offering but it may be that regional North America is the next place to watch, with wines from areas such as Virginia and Washington State coming to the fore. I intend to progress these opportunities and to bring you some interesting and exciting new wines to try over the next year, wines which, I hope, will enthuse your palate, just as the old-style Rioja did mine.

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