This year's Decanter Mediterranean Fine Wine Encounter in London on Saturday 7th March 2015 is set to showcase an incredible selection of wines from top producers across this exciting region, so read our guide to five must-visit wineries taking part in this unique wine tasting event.
Recaredo set up shop in 1924 and is a biodynamically-run estate; indeed it was the very first Cava producer to receive an official stamp of approval from the biodynamic certification body, Demeter.
It’s not only insecticides or pesticides that are shunned here; sugar doesn’t get a look-in either, for all of its releases are always Brut Nature and always Vintage.
Recaredo is clearly never in an undue rush to get the bottles to market, as the bare minimum ageing period for any of its releases is 30 months, but as you will see from some of the wines they will have on show this is far often exceeded; indeed it still has wines that have been maturing in its cellars for almost three decades.
This is a producer unequivocally dedicated to its craft and is therefore justifiably regarded as one of the very finest exponents of Cava. These are serious, high class wines, and their appearance at this event affords you the opportunity to sample top-drawer Cava; wines that are a world away from those that have done the name no favours in recent times.
The vineyards of Simčič straddle the border between Italy and Slovenia in an area called the Brda hills. Famed for its mineral-rich sandstone and marl soil, this region also reaps the benefits of warm Mediterranean air on one side, and shelter from colder alpine influences on the other thanks to the Trnovoska Plateau; all three factors being recognised as far back as the Romans for being conducive to quality winemaking.
The farm was established in the latter half of the 19th century by Anton Simčič, who also built an inn and general store in the local village, plus a wine merchant in Vienna.
At the helm since 1988 has been Marjan Simčič who has overseen a transition towards more organic principles and the banishing of insecticides and chemical fertilisers.
For many, Simčič represents the apex of the Slovenian wine world, and it truly makes extraordinary wines full of personality and charm, as evidenced by the volume of awards it has been garlanded with around the world.
3. Chateau Ksara
With vineyards located in the heart of Lebanon, Ksara has over 150 years of winemaking knowhow under its belt, having been founded in the mid-19th Century by Jesuit monks who began to farm a 25ha patch of land, and who also lay claim to producing Lebanon’s first dry red wine.
It remained under the guidance of monks until the mid-1970s, when it was eventually relinquished as part of a push by the Vatican for any commercial assets to be sold off.
Over the course of history, Ksara has unsurprisingly witnessed significant periods of upheaval: French governance from 1920 until 1943; the devastating effects of the civil conflict which included the winery being occupied for a time by the Syrian army, and most recently the 2006 war with Israel which saw one of its neighbour’s tractors being obliterated in a missile strike having been mistakenly identified as being for military rather than agricultural use.
Despite such tumultuous events, Ksara has somehow never once failed to bring in a harvest and today undeniably stands as one of the country’s most respected and biggest producers, releasing almost three million bottles each year.
4. Golan Heights
Golan Heights was born in 1976 when its first vines went into the ground; however it waited a further eight years to release any wine at all, the debut being a 1983 Sauvignon Blanc.
It currently tends 28 vineyards which are divided into 400 separate blocks and extend over 600ha ranging between 400 and 1200m above sea level, growing some 21 different grape varieties including Gamay, Malbec and Riesling.
The man with his hand on the tiller is American Victor Schoenfeld. A native of California, his CV reveals stints at Robert Mondavi, Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma and the much-revered Champagne House, Jacquesson.
In 1992 he made the move to Israel and has been Head Winemaker at Golan Heights ever since, currently overseeing the production of several million bottles annually; moreover, he is universally recognised as being at the vanguard of the Israeli wine evolution.
5. Domaine Terra Vecchia
The island of Corsica is not generally regarded as a hotbed of French wine production, yet it is home to a clutch of fantastic estates who craft wonderfully characterful wines, something perfectly encapsulated by Domaine Terra Vecchia; one of the very finest.
Terra Vecchia, which means ‘old land’ in the local dialect, sits on red clay and granite soil, and the nearby marine pond called the Lake of Diana helps guard the vines from both the Mediterranean temperatures and the sea’s spray.
Terra Vecchia grows a range of varieties including Vermentino, Syrah and Nielluccio (also known as Sangiovese), and the resulting wines are distinctly engaging and idiosyncratic, making this producer an essential stop-over on your tour at the Decanter Mediterranean Fine Wine Encounter.
Tickets for the Mediterranean Encounter Grand Tasting, from 11am – 5pm, cost £45 each or £80 for two. For more information and to book tickets click here.
Written by Decanter