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Meet the winemakers: virtual masterclasses to enjoy at home

Get to know some of the top names in the wine world, from the comfort of your sofa, ideally with a glass at hand...

Wineries around the world are seizing the opportunity presented by the current lockdown to present their wines directly to you – virtually. We’ve summarised the virtual tastings from across the globe to make it easier to find the ones you are interested in. Double check the local time zones to make sure you don’t miss out; though luckily, all virtual events are available to watch later on demand.

Explore Washington’s Red Mountain AVA

Bring the beauty of one of Washington’s most acclaimed wine-growing regions into your living room, with the Red Mountain AVA Alliance’s series of virtual tours and tastings, broadcast live on its Facebook page throughout April. Sessions include a virtual horseback ride and vineyard tour of Red Mountain (16 April), a tasting of vintages past and present (23 April), and food pairing sessions that match Red Mountain wines with popular takeout cusines (9 April), and barbecue classics (30 April). Wineries taking part include Hedges Family Estate, Schooler Nolan, Fidelitas and Kiona Vineyards & Winery.

A short documentary film, Red Mountain Revealed, has also been made available for home viewing.

Live broadcasts run every Thursday in April, at 4pm PDT.

Symington Family Estates: Port’s 2018 vintage

In a world first for the Port trade, Symington will next month launch six 2018 single-quinta Vintage Ports by a live video presentation, open to all. Two of the six wines, Quinta do Vesuvio and Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira, are being bottled for immediate release en primeur. The other wines will be aged before future release. The launch offers Port lovers a great opportunity to learn more about the 2018 vintage, and the single-quinta wines made by Symington, which encompasses the Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warre’s brands. 

Register for the event on Thursday 14 May here    

Discover different Douro styles with Churchill’s 

Meanwhile, in a series of e-tastings live on Instagram, Churchill’s is inviting wine lovers to meet the winemaking talent behind the Churchill’s name. On Tuesday 21 April, founder and head winemaker Johnny Graham will introduce three styles of Port, tasting through Churchill’s Dry White Port, Reserve Port and 10 Year Old Tawny. On Thursday 23 April, Ricardo Pinto Nunes will shift the focus to Douro table wines, tasting through the single-estate wines from Quinta da Gricha.

Events start at 8.30pm GMT and include a live Q&A with the winemakers. E-tasting kits are available from the online shop, so that you can taste through while watching.

Tuscan classic: Ornellaia in depth

A-list SuperTuscan winery Ornellaia has launched a series of four virtual tastings with estate director Axel Heinz, streamed direct from the estate, every Tuesday in April. Entitled Ornellaia Wine&Talks, the sessions focus on the 2017 vintage of Ornellaia and on Ornellaia Bianco (7 April); the two second wines, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2017 and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2018 (14 April); a vertical tasting of 2016, 2017 and 2018 Le Volte dell’Ornellaia (21 April); and a personal look at Axel’s three ‘dream vintages’ of Ornellaia (28 April).

Episodes will be broadcast on Instagram Live and WeChat Live, in Italian (3pm) and English (6pm CET).

Wine and food with Marimar Torres

Back in the New World, but still with a Spanish flavour, mother and daughter team Marimar and Cristina Torres of Marimar Estate in California’s Russian River Valley have launched a weekly live cooking show. Every Friday the duo broadcast from Marimar’s home kitchen, walking viewers through a different recipe from Marimar’s Spanish cookbooks The Spanish Table and The Catalan Country Kitchen, with two wine pairings each time. On 24 April, the pair will cook pastis de Carbassó Cristina (Zucchini Cake Cristina), paired with Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay 2018 and Chardonnay/Albarino 2017.

Episodes are broadcast every Friday at 5pm PT, on Facebook Live.

Wine tour of Spain coming soon 

Leading Rioja winery Ramon Bilbao was due to hit the road this spring to launch its Spanish Wine Academy, to help trade and consumers discover wine styles from Spain’s different DOs. Undeterred by the lockdown, it is forging ahead with a schedule of online tastings and webinars, which will launch on its website soon. Regular Instagram tastings and online ‘wine meets’ around the world are also planned. In the meantime, the winery has teamed up with Decanter to share a series of articles on Spanish wine.

67 Pall Mall Virtual Wine Club: learn with the experts

London private members club 67 Pall Mall has become an institution among wine connoisseurs and those in the trade – hard to believe that it only launched in December 2015. During the lockdown period, it is opening up its virtual doors to the public with a series of online masterclasses, tastings and discussions. Topics covered so far have seen Jasper Morris MW comparing red Burgundy’s 2009 and 2010 vintages; Tim Atkin MW introducing the wines of Chile; and Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent Jane Anson compare and contrast Pauillac and Pomerol. This is a great opportunity to see some of Decanter’s leading writers in action, bringing their areas of expertise to life – keep an eye on the website for future scheduled events.

The club has also launched ‘virtual memberships’, for £10. Virtual members will now be able to pre-order wines for the clubs popular daily online masterclasses and once the club re-opens, visit the club once a year.

Events are hosted daily on Zoom, and those Zooming in are encouraged to open a bottle that aligns with the theme. Past sessions will be added to the club’s website, but in the meantime can be accessed here

Wine merchants get in on the act

Meanwhile, many wine merchants have launched a program of virtual tastings – in the UK these include Armit Wines, Corney & Barrow, Honest Grapes, Justerini & Brooks and The Wine Society. Obviously these tastings will focus on the wines they sell, but these include some of the wine world’s top names and the buyers have a wealth of knowledge that wine lovers can benefit from. The advantage of watching live, of course, is that viewers will usually have an opportunity to ask questions.

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