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Top new products: March

Cognac Renault Avec

Cognac Renault has launched an innovative new Cognac, Avec, created specifically to drink with coffee.

Developed by Renault’s cellar master, David Croizet, Avec’s taste profile is achieved by using a new and unique process of cask-making that involves triple steam and fire toasting. Barrels for Avec are made by plunging them into tanks containing very hot water before being fire toasted. The operation is repeated three times to achieve the precise aromas.

Describing the process, Croizet said: “We have created a taste that is totally new to Renault and has never been seen in Cognac before. Our signature style has always been a balance of fruit and spice. I wanted to see if we could achieve specific aromas with notes of roasted coffee notes, mocha and vanillin.

“On the palate, Avec is incredibly smooth and soft. We were not looking for a big, powerful Cognac but one that complements good coffee.”

The eaux-de-vie in the Avec blend come from the classic three top crus in Cognac – Fins Bois, Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne – but are relatively young (between three to eight years).
The Cognac does not carry an age statement.

RRP: £39.67.

Contact: Jérôme Durand,

Vita Spirits Citric Vodka

In a bid to tap into the low-sugar market, Barcelona-based Vita Spirits is to launch a gluten- and sugar-free vodka in the UK, which it claims is the first vodka designed to be mixed with water.

Aimed at a health-conscious crowd, the 40% vodka launched in Spain last year and is designed to retain its flavour when mixed with water, removing the need to mix it with sugar-laden soft drinks or tonic water, according to its creators, friends Víctor Ruiz Lafita and Fadrique Balmaseda. Having both worked in London, they noticed that their local bars were often mixing vodka with soda water, but found the taste unpleasant. It took 18 months to perfect the formula in Barcelona, with the final spirit made from Italian rye grain and natural lemon peel extract. The water used in its production has an “exceptionally low mineral content”, which the pair claims allows the vodka to be mixed with any water, while keeping an “unaltered, natural and fresh citrus flavour”.

“We believe that many people won’t continue to drink in the traditional way and that Vita is way ahead of the game in this respect,” said Lafita. “We’ve had a great reaction in Spain, but as vodka consumption is 15 times higher in the UK, and the British are keen to look after their health, we’re very excited to launch there.”

RRP: £27.

Contact: Vita Spirits,

Château Fleur Haut Gaussens La Bergeronnette Cabernet Franc

Château Fleur Haut Gaussens in Vérac, Bordeaux, has launched La Bergeronnette – named after the white wagtail – a new cuvée made from 100% Cabernet Franc.

This is the second single-varietal release from this estate. Established in 1941, Château Fleur Haut Gaussens is now under the direction of fourth-generation winemaker Hervé Lhuillier.

The idea was born thanks to a small, independent and secretive bird, ‘la bergeronnette’, which is often to be found perching on the vine posts in the Cabernet Franc vineyard. The grapes are grown at this two-hectare plot with clay soil over a subsoil rich in limestone, and are all hand-picked.

Around 15% of the stems are retained during vinification, which involves a slow and gentle extraction in stainless steel tanks with very little pumping over, with a third of the wine then aged for six months in 400-litre barrels. The result is a Cabernet Franc with pure varietal expression, with notes of red fruit and spices on the nose, “aromatic elegance”on the palate, and silky, delicate tannins.

Château Fleur Haut Gaussens Cabernet Franc La Bergeronnette, as well as stablemates Château Fleur Haut Gaussens and Château Fleur Haut Gaussens Malbec La Viminière, are distributed by Berry Bros. & Rudd in the UK.

RRP: £22.50.

Contact: Château Fleur Haut Gaussens, +33 (0)608 991 097,

Jameson’s limited edition St Patrick’s Day Irish whiskey

Jameson has unveiled its seventh limited-edition bottle design in honour of St Patrick’s Day, created by a trio of artists to celebrate “the openness and spirit of friendship that Ireland is renowned for”.

British designer Alex Mellon and Irish photographer Leonn Ward joined Irish illustrator Claudine O’Sullivan to work on a brief for the collectible 2018 bottle of Jameson’s Irish whiskey – produced by Irish Distillers at the Midleton Distillery – inspired by the Fianna; Irish mythological warriors known for valuing loyalty and bravery.

O’Sullivan’s soaring eagle, drawn by hand, represents the “unity felt by the silhouette of three friends on a night out”, shot against Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge by Ward.

The banners and symbols in the background that surround the three silhouettes of friends represent Irish tribes of past and present, and are drawn by Mellon.

New for 2018, each limited-edition bottle features a near-field communication chip that allows consumers to access content on, where they can find out more about the artists and the story behind their design.

The limited-edition bottle will be available in 35 countries, including Ireland, Japan and Australia.

RRP: £20.

Contact: Irish Distillers,

Bruno Giacosa 2012, ’14, ’15

The latest vintages from famous Barolo estate Bruno Giacosa have been released through UK agent Armit. The wines include Barbaresco Rabaja 2014; Barolo Falletto 2014; Barbaresco 2015 Asili and the “hotly anticipated” red label (ie. a Riserva) Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2012.

The release from the estate is the first since Bruno died in January, aged 88. Taking the reins of the family business in 1960, the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco producer was one of the new wave of Piedmontese producers who, in the 1960s, shook up viticulture in the region.

Having stepped away from the day-to-day running of the estate in 2006, handing over to his daughter, Bruna, Bruno maintained a close interest in the wines produced, and considered the 2014 vintage in Barolo “exceptional” and worthy of the estate’s sought-after riservas.

Kirsten Kilby, managing director of Armit Wines, paid tribute to “the maestro of Nebbiolo”, and added: “The new releases from Giacosa are always eagerly anticipated, and rightly so.”

RRP: Six in bond, Barbaresco Rabaja 2014, £565; Barolo Falletto 2014, £695; Barbaresco 2015 Asili, £565; Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2012, £1,590.

Contact: Armit Wines, +44 (0)20 7908 0655

Lapostolle Vigno 2016

Lapostolle’s latest release is a 100% dry-farmed Carignan produced under the collective Vigno project, which is working to revive the old-vine heritage of Maule in Chile.

Hailing from Empedrado, between the coastal drylands and the interior valleys in the coastal southern Maule region, Lapostolle’s Vigno benefits from a semi-arid Mediterranean climate with a cold influence from the Pacific, and is grown from 60-year-old bush vines, ungrafted and dry farmed.

Grapes are harvested and destemmed by hand and are left to cold soak for six days at 8ºC instead of being crushed, followed by a wild ferment and manual punch down only.

Unfined and unfiltered, the wine has been aged for 15 months in third-use French oak barrels. The resulting wine is described as bright in colour, with a complex and intense nose of red berries, flowers and spices, with juicy tannins and a pleasant acidity with a long finish on the palate. Just 979 bottles have been produced.

RRP: £22.

Contact: Berkmann Wine Cellars, +44 (0)20 7609 4711

Champagne Pol Roger 2009

Pol Roger has launched its 2009, it’s sixth and final vintage release for the last decade.

The Champagne follows a run of great vintage releases from Pol Roger during the noughties, starting with 2000, and followed by the 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008, with the 2009 being the final expression from this decade, according to chef de caves, Dominique Petit, who told the drinks business that there would be no 2010 from the producer.

Comparing the 2009 vintage with the 2008, launched at the end of 2016 to much critical-acclaim, Petit said that both vintages were equally “complex”, but described 2008 as having more “power” than the 2009, which had, in contrast, greater “delicacy”. “You won’t be disappointed in either,” he summed up.
Although 2008 has been widely declared the greatest vintage of the last decade after 2002, as the 2009s begin to come onto the market, this latter harvest is undergoing a reassessment, with some cellar masters comparing it to 2002 – a year that produced wonderfully ripe and balanced wines, and some of the greatest Champagnes ever made.

The 2009 was disgorged in September 2017 with a dosage of 7g/l and contains 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, which hail from 20 grands and premiers crus in Champagne’s Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs.

RRP: £75.

Contact: Pol Roger Ltd, +44 (0)1432 262 800

Pinkster Bag-in-Box gin

As the bag-in-box movement gains momentum in the wine industry, pink gin brand Pinkster has unveiled a three-litre carton of its raspberry-infused gin, priced at £135.

The gin brand states that the move is inspired by the need to drive sustainability in the spirits sector. The new packaging, which is fully recyclable, will be aimed at both the on- and off-trade, and especially targeted at the forthcoming summer events market.

Pinkster has already committed to reduce waste by recycling “inebriated raspberries” left over from the gin-production process and transforming them into jars of boozy jam.

Stephen Marsh, managing director at Pinkster, said: “Pinkster on tap is all about convenience and sustainability delivered in an eye-catching, stylish format. Rather than ordering bottle after bottle, the on-trade can now refuel in an environmentally friendly fashion and save a few pounds in the process. We’ve tested the concept with selected accounts, and initial feedback has been mighty positive. It’s time for bag-in-boxes to shed their negative and passé perceptions, and we’re proud as a premium brand to be leading the way on this.”

RRP: £135 for three litres, equating to a £15 saving over buying the equivalent volume in glass bottles.

Contact: Pinkster, +44 (0)1763 849 739

New look for Tanqueray Rangpur

Diageo’s Tanqueray gin has unveiled a new look for its Rangpur expression, while also announcing the expansion of its distribution into new markets.

Named after an exotic lime that originated in India, Tanqueray Rangpur was launched in 2006, and is described as a “light, easy-drinking gin with a juicy citrus taste”. It is available in Australia, Brazil, Colombia and Greece, with a refreshed bottle also launching to mark the brand’s expansion. The new labels feature a Raj-inspired border in Tanqueray green and tell a visual story of its signature ingredient, the Rangpur lime. For the first time, the label also features the signature of the brand’s founder – Charles Tanqueray.

“Like our founder, who searched the globe for the perfect ingredients, we believe that it’s what you put in that matters, and Tanqueray Rangpur is no different,” said global marketing manager Joanna Segesser.

“Distilled with rare Rangpur limes, the result is a distinctive zesty flavour. Our new-look bottle reflects this rich heritage and its exotic flavour, while paying homage to the ultimate gin pioneer – Charles Tanqueray.”

RRP: £25.

Contact: Diageo, +44(0)20 8978 6000,

Berry Bros & Rudd’s Best Gin

Wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has relaunched its own-label London Dry gin, Berrys’ Best Gin, after it ceased production in 2014.

The gin was originally produced in 1909, but it disappeared from the merchant’s range in 2014. After a four-year hiatus, it has been reintroduced to the UK and will be distributed through its in-house UK distribution arm, Fields Morris & Verdin. A sample of gin was taken from the merchant’s oldest remaining bottle, dating from the 1950s, and was given to Thames Distillers, which recreated the formula.

Berrys’ Best Gin has botanicals including juniper berries, coriander seeds, angelica root and winter savory. It is described as having “hints of violet creams and a soft chalkiness” on the nose with a “floral slant” on the palate.

Charles Maxwell, director at Thames Distillers, said: “It was a fascinating challenge to build a recipe with just a small sample of the 1950s gin as a reference. We are very pleased to have made a product that has been passed as being up to Berrys’ renowned high standards and a match to the historic gin.”

RRP: £25 per (70cl) bottle.

Contact: Berry Bros & Rudd, +44 (0)20 7022 8973

Tomatin metal and water whiskies

Scottish whisky distillery Tomatin has released the final two expressions in its limited edition Five Virtues series: Metal and Water.

The series draws inspiration from the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – with a limited run of 6,000 bottles of each single malt expression, distinguished by different cask maturations.
The Metal edition is expressed by the distillery’s 12 copper stills, and is finished in first fill Bourbon barrels, resulting in a whisky that is “soft, sweet and light, with flavours of creamy vanilla, laced with sweet treats like milk chocolate, marshmallows and ice cream”.

Water is made using water from the Alt-na-Frith burn – Tomatin’s private water source – and is produced in the winter months before being finished in ex-Sherry casks, resulting in a whisky with “hints of chocolate honeycomb and toffee”, and “rich blood-orange marmalade”.

“During the cold winter months at Tomatin, the spirit vapours have less contact with the condensers during the distillation process and are therefore turned back into liquid form far quicker,” explained Graham Eunson, distillery general manager. “In the Water expression, a winter-distilled spirit, this results in a slightly heavier and fuller spirit, which, when combined with its Sherry cask maturation, gives a great, full-bodied whisky. The Metal expression, meanwhile uses Bourbon barrels, which really accentuate Tomatin’s house style: light, sweet and fruity.”

RRP: £49.99.

Contact: Tomatin, +44 (0)1463 248 148

Hawkes Graff Beer/ Cider hybrid

Urban cidery Hawkes, based in south-east London, has launched a co-fermented beer-and-cider hybrid called Graff, which it claims is the first of its kind in the UK.

Graff is produced by fermenting Braeburn and Bramley apples with a beer wort, and then adding American ale and Sauvignon Blanc yeasts. Made to a strength of 5.4% ABV, it is hopped with Amarillo and Cascade. The production of Graff was inspired by a visit to the US and made a reality thanks to Hawkes chief cider maker Roberto Basilico’s brewing experience. The hybrid joins the Hawkes range, which includes Urban Orchard apple, Urban Orchard berry, Elephants on Ice winter cider, Soul Trader and Hawkes Alcoholic Ginger Beer.

Simon Wright, chief brewer, said: “I believe this is a landmark day for cider, and proof of what the industry can achieve when we push ourselves to innovate. Graff defines the very purpose of Hawkes, which is to challenge ourselves to create industry-leading liquids, then take it to the masses, defining a new genre of cidermaker.”

Graff is described as having an aroma of “crusty bread”, with “an intense mouthfeel evoking memories of continental beer, against the subtle sweetness of pure apple juice”.

RRP: £3 per 330ml can, or £10 for four.

Contact: Hawkes, +44 (0)20 3903 8387

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