SC Pannell,  is one of the most interesting winery visits I’ve done in Australia.  Like most of the most interesting experience I had, besides great wine,it is always down to the wine maker, in this case, Stephen Pannell for S.C. Pannell.

I caught up with Stephen and visited his impressive new cellar door in the Vale in April this year.   Stephen and I  tasted together his whole range of wine, even the back vintages ones.  Definitely impressed by the way he approaches his winemaking and type of wine he aspires to make.  ​

Stephen emphasized quite few time what is important to him is to grow the right grape varieties in the right places, and he doesn’t follow recipe of how to make a wine.  He draws an analogy between his country’s art and wine.  Australian artists hardly paint what they actually but very European looking pieces until recently.   As for wine, he wasn’t sure if winemakers have really been making the wines they want to drink with everyone was looking to make how the french does.    Instead, his holistic philosophy to winemaking starts with the climate, empahasises the importance on the vineyard, as well as wine’s relation to food they  love to grow, cook, and eat.  He said, “the unique thing about good wine is a representation of time and place” which I can feel it through his wine and the way he makes them.
Owner and as well the wine maker of SC Pannell, he has been working in wine for most of his life. He grew up surrounded by wine: his parents established the Moss Wood vineyard in Margaret River in the late 1960s, part of a group of wine-mad doctors pioneering grape-growing in the region at the time.  He worked for BRL Hardy for a decade from the mid-90s, an era of export boom and corporate expansion followed by massive oversupply and the beginnings of a bust.

He won the Jimmy Watson Trophy for his first vintage at BRL Hardy’s Tintara Winery and quickly gained reputation for his restrained oak handling with shiraz and grenache.

The takeover of BRL Hardy by Constellation in 2003 , he resigned in 2004 from the corporate winemaking life, and and has worked 14 European vintages in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Barolo and Priorat.  He and his wife Fiona Lindquist established S.C. Pannell. “virtual” winery in 2004,  like many of his contemporaries at the time, he bought in grapes and made his wines in other people’s cellars.

The pursuit of making wines which express the terrior best and what match best with their food led Pannell to explore alternative, as well, non-mainstream  varieties, better suited to McLaren Vale’s warm, dry climate. The new Mediterranean grapes such as nebbiolo, touriga nacional, tempranillo and tinta cão have infiltrated his portfolio, while Aglianico has infiltrated the vineyard (with Carignan, Nero d’Avola and possibly Xinomavro to follow).  As for regional classics Shiraz and Grenache, in a bid to make the Australian typical big, heavy and sweet ones more drinkable,

In 2012, he  purchase of a vineyard at Blewitt Springs planted in 1891. It had contributed half of the 1995 Eileen Hardy Shiraz that won him his first Jimmy Watson.  And in 2014 he and Lindquist bought the old Tapestry vineyard in McLaren Vale and opened their long awaited cellar door in the heart of McLaren Vale.

We met during the peak of harvest time and he took 3 hours out climbing up and down in his cellar grabbing bottles he like to share with me and chat about, which I appreciate much.   After our meeting I drove with him to where he has to continue his fermentations work at another facility and it was already 7pm.   I can tell Stephen is a very busy man, running like a busy bee.  In fact, he isnot only for his own wine but he also works at Tinlins, a McLaren Vale bulk producer, making huge quantities of wine that’s sold to other companies. He is also a consultant to several companies across Australia to bring in the funds for his own brand.

Amongst the wine we tasted, I especially like his Grenache 2015 and which stephen only makes it when the vintage shines.  It is from a 70 year old vineyard with floral and musky nose;  very balanced, silky texture with raspberry, turkish delight, long finish. Also impressed and I bought a few bottles of his Koomilya Shiraz 2014.  The wine is from the property – on Amery Road,  blended from three of the Koomilya property’s Shiraz blocks, one planted in 1970 (to gewürztraminer, then grafted to shiraz in the early 1990s), the other two planted in the early 2000s. Vines grow on red iron stones with great depth of limestone under.  This wine went into all large-format French oak.  Only 852 cases were made. Rich and dense,  Bloody, iodine, meaty yet elegant with generous red fruit, xmas cake and slightly liquorice, firm tannins with a salty long finish, definitely will show what it fully got by time. 

If you like great wine by talented wine maker and you so happened to be in Adelaide, you need to visit S.C. Pannell.

Lunch with great wine is always an uplifting start for a day.  This time, was a lunch with a few close media friends at China club for the launch of California’s Napa Valley, Newton Vineyard’s 2014 Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.

Newton The Puzzle Vineyard Packshot.jpg

Newton Winery, not a wine that has been most talked about as much as those popular names such as Colgin, Harlan nor Sine Qua Non etc.,  but definitely a new talked-about after LVMH head Jean-Guillaume Prats (Ex Château Cos-d’Estournel CEO, a trustworthy gentleman whom I met 10 years ago back at his own estate) had taken up one of his new projects here in Napa along with Robert Mann.  Panning over a rich, vegetation-filled 560-acres, Newton Winery established themselves in 1977.  The now terraced mountain estate boasts 3 appellations sitting between 500 and 1600 feet above sea level with vineyards cover less than 20% of the estate’s total acreage.  Of those 3 appellations, in the Mayacamas Mountains on the western edge of the Napa Valley, at steep south-facing altitudes of 750 feet, Mt. Veeder is the most rugged comprising of 20 blocks spread over 50 acres (around 20 hectares).  The land allows for the longest growing season of all the Napa Valley sub-regions.

Here, the Cabernet Sauvignon grows at its best.  The cooler climate with deep sedimentary soil from seabed produces structured red and black fruits with classic plush velvety style cab.


Newton Unfiltered Cab 2014 on the right (~@USD66) & Newton Mt Veedeer 2014 in middle (~@USD190)

Newton Unfiltered Cab 2014 (~@USD66) & Newton Mt Veedeer 2014 (~@USD190)The 2014 juice is from some 35-year-old vines, 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec. Each grape were individually plucked and hand sorted.  With only 500 cases produced, this wine aged in 60% new French oak for 14 months, aiming not to have oak overpowering the wine where most of us agreed during lunch (I certainly detest those over-Oaked napa cab and Chardonnay that we used to find in the “old days”, am sure not many likes those style anymore).

Estate Director and senior wine maker Robert Mann says the well-drained, sedimentary soil captures “the minerality and vibrancy of Cabernet Sauvignon, producing wines characterised by an intense blackcurrant fruit and firm, sinewy graphite structures”.

Robert Mann added: “This 2014 will reveal itself slowly over time and benefit those who can resist the temptation.  It is a wine that can be kept for the next generation.”

2014 Newton Unflitered Cab & Mt Veeder
When tasting the 2014 Cab which is a blend of Cab from the 3 vineyard, it was fabulous with juicy dark fruits fused with cinnamon, cloves and cedar (92) while this 2014 Mt Veeder is just 500% or more excellent I felt.  Its refined graphite like tannins (which definitely needs more time to show its best) with those deep, dark cassis notes; charcoal, mint, mushroom and wet forest floor;  plush, intense and polish with good depth; together with that long elegant yet powerful finish was something what a cab lover would love and dive for another glass. (96)

Winery and winemaker Info
Englishman Peter Newton and his Chinese wife Su Hua purchased one square mile of tumbling slopes high up on Spring Mountain overlooking St. Helena in 1977. The Estate was planted to Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Merlot thrives in a land which is rocky mixed with clay beneath the surface, while Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot like an impoverished soil, and Cabernet Sauvignon is happy in stony loam. The mountainous slopes of the vineyards not only have these soils, but also a full range of exposures. Spring Mountain provides the vines get all the sunlight they need without any baking heat stress.

Chardonnay needs chalky or loamy soil in a cooler region. Newton owns an old vineyard in Carneros and also has long-term grape contracts for several hillside vineyards verging on that region. Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay, introduced in 1990, is said to be the first unfiltered wine produced and sold in California, and is now regarded as an industry benchmark.

Su Hua insists on picking only ripe grapes from the vine. Her method of quality control is to be involved in every aspect of the harvest, during which time she can be found every day among the pickers. To ensure that only ripe grapes are harvested, there can be up to four separate pickings in a single vineyard – very difficult to do but, she believes, there is  no other way to produce a great wine.

Newton Harvest.jpg

Newton during harvest 

Newton currently comprises 120 acres of vineyard with some plantings on Mount Veeder, Yountville and Carneros, but the kernel of the estate at Spring Mountain is very promisingly located between the super-lauded Abreu and my beloved Spottswoode.

Winemaker Robert Mann is from a famous winemaking dynasty and grandson of one of Australia’s most respected winemakers ever. His grandfather Jack Mann not only created the best-selling Houghton’s White Burgundy but, perhaps more significantly, made so many great Cabernet-based reds in Western Australia during his 50-vintage career that Hardys’ top bottling is named after him. Rob was senior winemaker at Hardys’ historic Tintara winery in South Australia before being recruited by LVMH in 2005 to take the tiller at Cape Mentelle, their flagship Margaret River winery.  During Mann’s 10 years at Cape Mentelle, the winery was twice awarded Producer of the Year and Rob Mann Winemaker of the Year.

In most countries, their local cuisines always go with the wine/drinks which produces locally. Take a look at Argentinian steak and Malbec, Barolo with their rabbit while Japanese sushi goes well with sake.   You might be surprised how delicious wine and sushi can be together. But amongst sushi lovers or even some wine lovers, the bigger question is, which bottles should we open? 

Although wine is a very personal thing.  It is quite a safe bet to pair sushi with white.  With sushi, I tend to pair with a Chardonnay-based wines for good sushi, such as a Blanc de blancs sparkling wine , a nice white Burgundy like a good Chablis.  Sips between bites helps to cleanse your palate and focus on the taste experience.  Growers I like in Champagne include Chartogne-Taillet, Ulysses Colin, Bereche,  Agrapart (his Minéral Bdb is amazing), of course I can always use an older vintage Salon or Krug (However, for budget reason as a day to day drink, I find best value at some good RM.)

For chablis that goods almost perfectly with most Japanese fish,  I like Raveneau, Dauvissat, and William Fevre;  With tuna,  pork or beef, a great pinot noir would be unbeatable.

Recently I went to a very tasty and hearty japanese restaurant, Sushi Love沁の料理, situated in the heart of HK island in Causeway Bay .  Wonderful night with great food and wine friends.  This time, all we drink was wine.

Here is what we drank:

The lush and rounded Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne (HKD850) with the really tasting “amuse bouche” uni and scallop appetizer.

Grand Siècle is Laurent-Perrier’s prestige cuvee made with a pinot noir and chardonnay blend, which has always been non vintage, a blending of top wines from top years. Twelve of the most prestigious villages supply these grapes; all of them classified at 100% Grands Crus such as Ambonnay, Verzenay, Mailly, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Within the vineyards of these villages, only the very best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. The wine is aged on the yeast in bottle for approximately five years.

It is a truly amazing NV, one of the best NV Champagne I found.  It is elegant, balanced with great fruit with aged flavors of  honey, hazelnuts, grilled almonds and brioche, make this the perfect companion for refined dishes.

Then we opened a bottle of Kosta Brown “One Sixteen” Chardonnay 2013 (HKD500) from the coolest part of the Russian River Valley in USA, paired with some raw sashimi (as shown in picture).  The wine is round, rich with great intensity and minerality;  tropical fruits like apricot green apple and honey, style is slightly oaky in a good way.  I find the alcohol of this wine slightly higher and the wine opens up nicer after time.  The pairing was surprisingly great especially with the  raw shrimps together with roes really freshen and sweetened up with the wine.

Then we moved on to one of the chardonnay I love outside of burgundy.  The Australian Leeuwin Estates Art Series 2013 (HKD550).  This Chardonnay is wonderful by itself or with food.  It is lemon fresh, elegant and finely balanced with white flowers, almond, great complexity and length. The great acidity of the Chardonnay cuts the fat of our paired pork asparagus roll and the tempura, making everything light weighted.

Finally there comes something non-chardonnay.  It was a pinot noir from one of the best land.  The broad and generous Burgundy Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares 2013 (HKD2200) pairs so well with few pieces of sushi (highlight the toro and the fried shrimp head!) on the board.   A refine bouquet of dark berries and earth. Powerful(yet not too powerful for food we are having) well balance with such great long finish.  Beauty always takes time but even opening it up today, it taste so fresh and enjoyable.

Next time, when sushi meets you, perhaps have them with wine (and sake!), why not!

Restaurant / Sushi Love 沁の料理
Address / Henry House, 12F,, 42 Yun Ping Rd, East Point
Phone / +852 – 2851 9128

Menu / Chef’s Omakase Menu from HKD980

Got back home after attending the official launch dinner of the rare and renowned Suntory’s hotly anticipated Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Edition.  Not at all tired but full of excitement still, thanks to the power of great whiskey!  (Jump to side note below for more info🖋)
It was an unbeatable line up of Hibiki, Hakushu, Yamazaki paired with amazingly fresh Japanese oysters and lots of delicious dishes at Oyster & Wine Bar, Sheraton.

Chocolate becomes explosive after a sip and the Sherry cask becomes lighter in weight with more citrus yet chocolate flavors. Explosive.

Lot of us noticed that with the first few courses, whiskey was being carefully served in the traditional japanese whiskey drinking way,that is, 50% whiskey 50% water and a few pieces of ice so not to overpower the food, and surely it works.  Mr. Mike Miyamoto, global brand ambassador of Suntory Whisky was telling me that the beauty and uniqueness of their whiskey, unlike few other houses, is that by adding water, their whiskey would still maintain the balance and framework of their meant whiskey style and taste.  Who said whiskey can’t do pairing with great thoughts? Besides Sherry cask tonight, I especially love the Yamazaki 12 and Hakushu 18.

Side BUT Good To Read Note:

Crowned with the title of “Best whisky in the world” for the year 2015, this no age statement Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 had caused a stir and is still the subject of delirious speculation (especially when we know the seriousness of the relative author behind this title).

For this new edition of 5000 bottles (including 1500 for Japan launched locally in February this year), Suntory and its Chief blender, Shinji Fukuyo, decided to surf the incredible success of the 2013 edition. As well as all Yamazaki Cask Collection limited editions (made from only one type of casks) such as Mizunara, Puncheon or Bourbon Barrel, Sherry Cask 2016 has been made from single malts exclusively aged in Spanish oak casks, the famous Sherry Casks that previously served to age Oloroso Sherry (for this cask) in Spain for three  years.

This mix consists of the 2013 blend with two more years of aging, as well as some selected malt up to 20 years , all carefully selected by Suntory Chef blender for their taste but also for their specific colors. Bottled at 48% alc., according to Shinji Fukuyo this single malt was not created for novices, but it was composed for Suntory whisky lovers. In other words, it’s a whisky to open and taste to appreciate all the work of its creator and not to keep in collection for possible further speculation on the price.

This Sherry Cask 2016 is a full, elegant and refined dram, one can find different flavors with each sip, from sweet fruits to hints of smoke to lovely citrusy notes, you may also notice a distinctive notes of raisins and chocolate, cut with a slight bitterness. (Which matched so well with chocolate I found).

Finding these bottles may be a challenge with a heavy price tag (originally released by Suntory at USD300 for their loyal customers this February despite knowing price will be jacked up immediately next day at over USD 1000; today it is already at 10 times more), however, as one of the member Kit Wong from the HK official distributor ASC Fine Wines suggested, it will seem like a bargain when bottles start popping up at auctions in few years time. So, if you ever have a chance to drink it, be sure not to miss, it would be a crime if you give it a pass!

Mr. Mike Miyamoto, global brand ambassador of Suntory Whisky, former whiskey blender telling us the making and difference between their Yamazaki, Hibiki and Hakushu. We are holding the precious bottle of Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 here

Here is a quick post for attending the official launch of 2014 Almaviva and the tasting of 2003,2008 and 2014 in HK few days ago led by Andres Ballesteros, the Commercial Director APAC of Almaviva.

I don’t have a habit to post every tasting events, however, I should record this for my own future references as am sure there will be more to come for this delicious wine,  especially I had a vertical of Almaviva with their wine maker last year in Bordeaux for their 1997, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2013, which really were impressive.

Almaviva, the Primer Orden in Chile – a Grand Cru Classé equivalent among Chilean wines (putting it in Bordeaux terms if that is easier for some) with “One Château, one wine” concept, one criticism always levelled at almaviva is their overpricing, e.g their 2003 and 2008 are around at 90-110 Gbp a bottle,  while with winery responses are that in many comparative tasting it fares well again more expensive Bordeaulais or Californians. From my many occasion of Almaviva tastings and dinners, I am a big fan and Almaviva is certainly of top quality with good character consistency that justify a premium price, one of best from Chile and even in world. Anyone if you have a chance to taste, especially those whom may have some preconceptions about Chilean wine, Almaviva will makes you stop and rethink.

Almaviva 2003 magnum

Harvest April 15-May 5

73% Cabernet Sauvignon  carmenere 24% Cabernet franc 3%

Inky ruby with slight bluish on rim. Powerful profound nose with violet black currents. Sweet on entry with good salinity. Massive with good depth. Blackcurrant black berries balance with good tannins needs more time for even more silkier finish. Elegantly delicious./ 96

Almaviva 2008 magnum

Harvest April 21-May 17 (around 24-5brix degree)

66% Cabernet Sauvignon carmenere 26% Cabernet franc 8%

Camenere allows the wine to be smoother (lacks acidity ) While its Cab franc gives acidity a silkiness. Coffee nose with good licorice.  Fresh acidity with pure blue berries and black currants silky tannins. Quite elegant. /92

Almaviva 2014

68% Cabernet Sauvignon carmenere 22% Cabernet franc 8% rest petite Verdot (give sole complexity )

Harvest April 1-May 28
Great expressive deep red fruits blueberries with vanilla coffee nose.  Immediate enjoyable juiciness on entry.  Red and blue fruits,  chocolate with great style of ripe tannins and a bit of spicy peppery kick. For the moment is a very expressive fruit forward one yet it will be long lived ./ 94


Winery info:


Almaviva was established in 1996 by Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton-Rothschild and Concha y Toro. Their aim was to create the first Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé equivalent in Chile.

Located in the Maipo Valley, in Chile’s central zone, Puente Alto was recognized over twenty years ago as offering ideal conditions for growing the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. It is here that 85 hectares have been reserved exclusively for Almaviva.

Characteristic features of Puente Alto include its stony soil, cold, rainy winters, and the hot days and cool nights of its summers. A revolutionary underground drip irrigation system has been installed, making it possible to deliver the precise amount of water that each vine needs with a constant concern for quality.

Sherry is sweet dark sticky liquid left over from last Xmas?  Nothing can be further from the truth.

Sherry is delicious versatile wine from bone dry to luscious sweet.  It’d only be a pity (“tragic” to me, if I hadn’t had explored such crazy stuff and missing the world of it in life)  if we kept thinking it’s some out-dated drinks only for Xmas.  In fact, they are just amazing!

Some people told me I was being a little crazy to turn down the very kind invitation to the Commanderie du Bontemps dinner for hosting a sherry dinner.

As much as I adore 1990 Chateau Lafite, some bordeaux good buddies and winemakers whom I may had missed at dinner, to me,  it’d have been more insane if I’d not shared my love for Sherry through hosting a good collectors’ lineup for Bodegas Tradicion with Lorenzo García-Iglesias Soto freshly landed in HK from Jerez last Tuesday.tableFor a quick peek, here is our “Bodega Tradicion Collector Selections Dinner” – Our once a lifetime Tradition line up: ✨

* Fino 12years
a fairly new expression released in 2013. Bottled en rama around 12 years of age.  Who said fino has to be fresh!

* Palo Cortado VORS 40years
a big wow, same feeling that I had when I was at Tradition.  It pairs fantastically with Escargot with Pastis & Tomato Sauce, explosive flavors, salty, hazelnut, dried apricot, almond with caramel at the same time, long finish

* Amontillado VORS 45years

* Oloroso Tradicion VORS 45 years
A 45 year old Oloroso composed from different soleras dating back to the 18th Century,  orange peel, nuts, chocolate – round and pure

* Amontillado Viejisimo 80+years
80 years is only an average time the wine had spend in the solera system, when I drink this wine, I can’t help thinking of the 100 years ago when they start harvesting and making the wine in my hand.  It’s a concentrated wine full of savory flavors, something crazy that you will only know it if you try it

* Cream VOS 25 years
It is basically a mix of 70% Oloroso VORS with 30% of younger P.X.

* PX VOS 25years
sweet and luscious yet very balanced by great acidity, perfect on its own or like the spanish suggested, on a vanilla ice-cream.  (yet, I had it with artichoke at Tabanco El Pasaie in Jerez, it was delicious)

* PX VORS 45years limited edition
less sweet than PX VOS with great acidity and freshness.   I prefer this to drink on its own.

* Brandy solera gran reserva 25years

Lorenzo with wine for the night

For further read, if you are interested:

Sherry is a fortified wine, produced in Spain’s sherry triangle. Located in the province of Andalucia, this triangle consists of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María. The soil in this region is chalky, limestone based, and provides the perfect conditions for growing the Palomino grape, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel, the three grapes used for making sherry wine.

There are quite a few kinds of sherry and that makes my head ache at the beginning.  However, in terms of style, we can just say there are 2 major style:  biologically aged (under a layer of flor yeast)– Fino and Manzanilla and oxidatively aged (in the absence of flor) – Oloroso. Two intermediate styles exist – Amontillado and Palo Cortado, which start biologically but gradually loose their layer of flor and continue their maturation in the oxidative way. All of these wines are bone dry, while there are also two types of naturally sweet wines (Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel) as well as a category of artificially sweetened wines (called Cream sherry or Dulce).

Since spending my last September in Jerez for the Vendemia, the culture, music, people and my time at the bodegas made me fall in love with this amazingly delicious wine.  It is a new flavor sensations.

Bodegas Tradition is a boutique bodega which only bottle consistently genre-defining, very fully aged wines capable of pleasurably filling the senses. All their wine  are bottled en rama, unchill, unfiltered, nor cold stabilized, with no additives and with only the sulfites used long ago for fermentation.

Some may find the taste of sherry not quite pleasant, perhaps due to the fact that we are too used to the typical red and white wine we’ve been drinking, however,  I do believe, the more you try enough of the good stuff (my other favorite ones: Bodegas Emilo Hidalgo, Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla, Bodegas El Mastro Sierra, Bodegas Barbadilo etc) and especially if you happened to stop by Jerez, you’d fall in love with these very special wine like I do and they will be close to your heart ever since ….. Be careful!

One of the most exciting things with wine is to keep along our adventure with wine, keep tasting new things, so don’t ever pass up these wine if you get the chance to taste it.   If you would like to taste it in HK, surely can pm me, or check !

Enter a caption

My tasting at Tradicion having one of 2500 bottles of this 30+years Palo Cortado full of elegance and complexity 


we had more than what it shows here, check out the lineup above.

Winery info :

Bodegas Tradición is a newer winery located in Jerez, but it holds the honor of being the successor of the oldest winery in the Jerez production area. The bodega was founded in 1998 by Mr. Joaquín Rivero, who decided to give continuity to the family tradition in the sherry industry.

The origins of Bodegas Tradicion are based on “Bodega CZ, J.M. Rivero”, the oldest of the sherry houses known, with business dated back in 1650. J.M. Rivero was, by appointment, supplier of the Royal Houses of Spain and Portugal and the winery obtained many different international rewards.

The man who started the business was Mr. Diego Cabeza de Aranda y Zarco, who run the winery until Mr. Francisco Antonio de la Tixera joined him as a partner. The brand name CZ corresponds to the initials of the last names of the founder, and as the daughter of Mr. De la Tixera married Mr. Joaquín María Rivero y González, the winery was renamed as Bodegas J.M. Rivero keeping CZ as the main brand name.

The winery became a very successful business during the 19th century, and in 1855 the property had 3.188 wine casks and worldwide known brands, such as Solera Cabeza 1770, Tixera 1783, Trafalgar 1805, Viejo Oloroso C.Z, Pedro Ximénez del Carnero, San Enrique, Moscatel Menudo P.A.R., Pajarete Menchaca , Fino Viña del Barco, Fino Rivero, Mantecoso, Amontillado el Gallo, Brandy el Gallo, Brandy Montesión and Brandy Trafalgar.

Bodegas J.M. Rivero were sold in 1991 to another wine merchant, and immediately after Mr. Joaquín Rivero started planning the reinstatement of the family tradition through a new wine house and a different strategy: “The name Tradicion responds to a double requirement: continuance to the family wine business and a comeback of the traditional styles and the processes in the making of Jerez wines”.

With this aim an old sherry warehouse was acquired and after restoration of the warehouse the first casks arrived to Bodegas Tradición. Pursuing of the best soleras at the time was the main objective of the company, as well as sourcing old and first-rate American oak casks to keep the wines which were selected by the team of experts who were hired to work in Bodegas Tradicion.

Mr. Jose Ignacio Domecq Fernández de Bobadilla, former oenologist from Domecq, and son of one of the most famous oenologists from the golden age of sherry, Mr. José Ignacio Domecq González -“The Nose”- was hired to select the wines to be purchased and to create the Tradicion Styles. Along to Mr. Domecq, Mr. José Blandino, our foreman, with almost 50 years of experience in Domecq was hired as well, in order to select the casks and to make all the necessary arrangements in the house to set up the soleras.

In 2007 a new warehouse was acquired next to the original ones, named Rincón Malillo, which will be housing our newest release, Fino Tradicion, a new solera which is being developed and will hold approximately 400 casks.

I recently had the luck to have a good sit down, tasting with Benoît Gouez, whom has been the chef de cave at Moët & Chandon since 2005, talked about their new baby, MCIII,  a multi-vintage Champagne from the assembly of three wines all raised differently, in metal, wood and glass.  Here is some sharing. 


To me, this Champagne is quite interesting, as well, delicious.  How do they make it?  First it consists of 37%-40% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from 2003 were vinified in stainless steel tanks which gives fruity dimension to the blend. 

Then the 2nd stratum is made from the wood (around  37%-40% ) they added Moët ‘s “Grand Vintage” 1998, 2000 and 2002 which partially aged in oak casks and then preserved in stainless steel vats.  

Finally, the assemblage (around  37%-40% )  is completed by Moet’s vintages from 1999, 1998 and 1993 aged in glass bottles (like what you would normally find in the market). “This layer complete the balance of the final assemblage by integrating a dimension that is lively and full of vitality with more roasted note and depth, turned into an eminent maturity evoking refinement and radiance,” said the house.

Surely, it takes guts to disgorge some good bottles of 1999, 1998 and 1993 and pour into the blend which may possibly fail. It also takes a very large cellar stocks which Moët has, the world’s largest cellar of vintage champagnes. Nothing comes easy, and certainly some good bottles were wasted, in fact, they failed twice, if anyone actually know about it.

Their first blend was in 1998, using the base wine of 1998; and the 2nd trying was in 2000 and both were not satisfying until 2003 which I am tasting now become a success and finally released to market end of last year (soon in HK).

I was tasting 2006, 2002, 1999 and MCIII side by side, in typical tube while MCIII in Zalto Bordeaux glass.   Below are some of my notes:

Moët & Chandon 2006

Ripe on nose with apricot and mandarin.  Rich and good structure however, not as fresh as the less hotter years.  A bitter sweet finish.

Moët & Chandon 2002

Citrusy, peachy, spicy and biscuits to start with.  Lively with great acidity on entry and rich with good complexity and structure, great texture as well.  Long lasting tasteful finish, a pink grapefruit touch.  Love this the most out of all.

Moët & Chandon 1999

Rich on nose, mature with bitter grapefruit, honey and toffee notes. Rich full body with “brownness” flavors such as chestnuts, dough, toffee and a long finish.

MCIII (in Zalto Bordeaux Glass) 

Disgorged in 2014, this wine has 10 years of assemblage and aged in cellar.

Very fine mouse (most refine compare to the previous 3 vintages), however, nose wasn’t as expressive as one would had expected despite a Zalto glass been used.   It was interesting though, opens up from toffee and mocha, pastry like note to citrus, mandarin peels then oysters seashell notes.   On the palate, it was fantastic with the highest complexity among all. Definitely more interesting then the nose one may had anticipated.  White peach, pink grapefruits, nutmeg, fresh yet mature at same time. MCIII evolves towards a long mineral finish with a bitter saltiness touch.  A contemporary one I must say. not cheap though roughly on the HKD 2k plus per bottle, would say if you are not tight in cash, it’s definitely fun and worth a try.