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Hard To Fine Wines

  • The meteoric comeback of Pinotage

    For many wine drinkers, Pinotage is very much a marmite grape variety, or so many think.

    The Pinotage varietal was developed in the early part of the 19th century in South Africa by Abraham Perold, the first viticulturalist specialist at Stellenbosch university. The idea was to produce a form of Pinot Noir, notoriously difficult to grow, that would thrive in the less forgiving terroir of the Western Cape. The resulting varietal became known as Pinotage, a derivative of the two grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Hermitage (now more commonly known as Cinsault).

    However, having left Stellenbosch university Perold's new vines were all but forgotten until their rediscovery over a decade later, and from these vines the first blocks were planted in Myrtle Grove and Kanonkop during the mid part of the century. The first recognised Pinotage commercially available was not to come until 1961 from Lanzerac, whose wine Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage which pays homage to this wine is still available today.

    During the Apartheid years Pinotage flourished in South Africa, with no international exports producers focussed on earthy full bodied reds for the indigenous wine drinkers, with Pinotage a perfect fit. However, as trade barriers were lifted, many estates realised Pinotage was less to the tastes of European and US oenophiles and began replacing the vines with Shiraz and Cabernet which offered a less distinctively South African palate.

    Thankfully 20 years on, many have returned to the indigenous Pinotage grape variety. In most examples the rough vegetal farmyard elements have been smoothed into a more luxurious supple wine. Pinotage does still convey the original earthy terroir but now is more often a more refined beast, still with plenty of oomph and weight, but more rounded and supple than it's predecessors.

    Sales of Pinotage at Hard to Find Wines have near tripled over the past couple of years, with a real resurgence of this unique varietal. Although many South African vineyards are yet to return to Pinotage, we have a range of fantastic quality Pinotage to suit any budget, from less than £7 a bottle to over £40. Our range of Pinotage can be found here

  • Mont Rochelle Wines Now Available in the UK

    Mont Rochelle in the French Quarter of Franschhoek is the newest addition to Virgin Limited Edition and was purchased by the Richard Branson company back in 2014. Since then the old farm has been transformed into a luxurious hotel, as well as investing heavily into the infrastructure of the wine farm.

    The vineyard is located in a perfect position within the Franschhoek area, benefiting from a more temperate climate than much of the rest of South Africa as well as having wonderfully fertile granite and clay soils on it's sloping plantation.

    Although only a small range of wines is being produced at the Mont Rochelle Estate, the wines are, as one would expect, of a very high quality and beautifully capture the terroir of the region. A mere 6500 cases a year are produced across the Mont Rochelle portfolio all under the watchful eye of winemaker Dustin Osborne.

    Perhaps the most striking feature of the Mont Rochelle wine range is the absolutely incredible value for money that these hand crafted wines offer. Starting at just over £10 a bottle these wines give many a wine double the price a good run for their money and are set to only improve on this start.

    The Little Rock range of white and red are immaculately presented and do not disappoint on the taste front either. The White pale straw green in colour with a delicate peach and citrus profile, elegant with balanced texture and acidity. The wine is produced using a blend of four distinct grapes: Semillon, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The red is a blended wine of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with dollops of Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot all lending a helping hand to the final blend. This wine strikes a perfect balance between easy-drinking and complexity showing a balanced fruit profile and a smooth, soft palate.

    The premium range from Mont Rochelle is equally good value from between £11.49 to £14.49 a bottle with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon on offer. The full portfolio of Mont Rochelle wines we have in stock can be found here.

  • Our SA Wines Online offering

    Way back over a decade ago when Hard to Find Wines was started, South African Wines were the first we imported from vineyards including Haute Cabriere, Glenwood and Du Toitskloof.

    Now our range of SA wines online stands at over 200 wines, one of the most comprehensive ranges available of SA wines online in the UK. The old favourites from our original vineyards still play a big part of our online offering, and we believe them to still be some of the best SA wines on the market.

    Over the past 10 years we have slowly but surely added to our SA wines online, and now import wines from all over the world, with a portfolio of quality wines at affordable prices. Our mantra has remained the same, sourcing high quality wines from smaller boutique wine estates and importing directly from the farms into the UK. These wines still make up over 90% of the wines we sell online at Hard to Find Wines, with the remainder being hand selected wines from other importers but always quality and competitively priced.

    With online wine sales having had its ups and downs over the last few years, we have invested heavily in upgrading our online website and in the spring of 2017 will be moving into our new purpose built offices and wine storage facility on our farm in Shropshire. The South African wines online that we sell will continue to play a significant role in our portfolio, but with additions of wines from other regions along with our new offerings of premium fine wines from Bordeaux, Napa and Italy. We already have in stock some fantastic wines from the 1998, 2000 and 2003 Bordeaux vintages, all at highly competitive online prices.

    We look forward to continuing our growth with our wines online, and of course are always available to give advice and help on 01746 389749.

  • New wines from Vierkoppen available now

    When approached a few months back by Vierkoppen to see if we were interested in stocking their wines, there was a hint of trepidation. This is in no small part to the fact that the location of this vineyard in Robertson, South Africa, holds mixed feelings for me.

    If we were to rewind 10 years, Robertson was hardly considered as a quality wine growing region, perhaps producing bulk fruit for supermarket type wines, but certainly less so for high quality premium wines. However, times have very much changed, and Robertson is now without doubt one of the world's best kept secrets in terms of quality wine growing regions.

    Focussing primarily on Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon, Vierkoppen is an outstanding producer of top quality South African wine. In the latest edition of Platter a brace of their wines achieved the heady heights of 4.5 stars - no mean achievement when considering many estates take decades to achieve this level of quality and recognition from their wines, and Vierkoppen have done it in just a handful of years.

    The Vierkoppen Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect balance between fresh tropical fruits and a refreshing minerality, a wonderful bed fellow to spicy foods or to be enjoyed on a sun soaked veranda. At just £10.99 it also represents fantastic value for money, with many similar style Sauvignons from across the mountains in Stellenbosch coming in at over 30% more in price.

    Similar can be said for the two red wines produced, the Vierkoppen Pinotage and Vierkoppen Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines come in at just under £13, but wow what are treat you are getting for your hard earned cash. Both ooze quality with refined tannins and supple mouth feel, followed by layers of textured fruit. All of these wines are handcrafted and produced in only minute quantities, a far cry from the South African bulk wine days of old, whose mantle seems to have been taken up now by the Australians (there are still wonderful boutique vineyards in Oz, but far too many have been eaten up by the commercial breweries and multinational conglomerates).

    The South African wine industry in my view, is currently leading much of the world in how it approaches and delivers wonderful wines. Their winemakers, usually from a grounding at Stellenbosch University, embrace the world of wine growing practices from across the globe, along with winemaking skills. Unlike the rigid appellation systems in France, Spain and Italy they are free to experiment, and work with the land, vines and grapes to produce the best possible wine from that terroir.

    If you only try one new wine this year, you could not go far wrong with one of these awesome wines from Robertson, which can be found here

  • Over 100 wines under £10

    Hard to Find Wines now lists over 100 wines under £10 a bottle. All offering excellent quality in a diverse range of styles to tempt every palate.

    Over the past 10 years we have built up a substantial portfolio of wines we believe to offer fantastic value for money. With over a third of the price of a bottle of wine being made up of duty and tax these wines are certainly becoming more scarce, but we strive to continually update our list of wines to offer our clients the best that the wine world has to offer. Wines from Australia, France, Luxembourg, South Africa and New Zealand are just some of our wines under £10.

    Many wines below £7 in the UK offered by major retailers and supermarkets are now produced and bottled in the UK, from concentrate liquid shipped in from a multitude of areas. At Hard to Find Wines we passionately believe that the best wine is crafted in situ at the vineyard, with experienced winemakers at the helm. All of our wines are produced in this way, with many hand crafted in tiny quantities, and with the team at Hard to Find Wines having personal knowledge of both the vineyards, winemaking process and winemakers. Wine does not necessarily need to be expensive to be enjoyed, but it does need to be quality! Our wines under £10 selection represents just this philosophy, offering quality and value to our clients.

    A selection of our top 2 dozen wines can be found here or alternatively our full range of wines are available at htfwines.co.uk

  • New Martinborough wine Te Hera Pinot Noir available from Hard to Find Wines

    Having been searching for sometime for a new Martinborough producer to add to our portfolio, last Summer was a eureka moment when stumbling across Te Hera Estate at the London World's Leading Wines fair and were compelled to introduce our clients to their incredible Te Hera Pinot Noir.

    The estate was originally planted in 1996 and produces stunning Pinot Noir grapes from its tiny 13 acre estate. It is very much a family affair, with the captain at the helm (Te Hera translates as "the sail") John Douglas.

    The Pinot Noir wines created at Te Hera reflect without question the wonderful terroir of Martinborough which benefits from cool breezes and low rainfall to provide optimum growing conditions for the notoriously difficult Pinot Noir cultivar. The fruit produced is of exceptional quality which is then transformed into the Kiritea and Reserve labels by meticulous handcrafted winemaking.

    The Kiritea is a wonderfully easy drinking fruit led Pinot and is staggeringly good value for money at just £12.99. The Te Hera Reserve Pinot Noir is a slightly more serious wine, with 16 months in French oak adding a layer of complexity to the wine along with fabulous ageing potential, and is still a snip for a Pinot of this quality at just £18.99. In my quest for Martinborough Pinot Noir I have often sampled wines half the quality for well over double the price!

    These two new Te Hera Pinot Noirs have now landed with us in the UK and are available for immediate delivery and can be purchased here.

  • Up to 60% off South African Wines

    Over the past 10 years we have had the pleasure of importing some fantastic quality wines from all over the world. However, we continually strive to find new wines and boutique vineyards offering exciting and tasty wines for our clients to enjoy. Inevitably this means some wines have to make way for the new, and currently we have a selection of South African wines which are making way for the new.

    Seidelberg was a firm favourite of ours being one of the original vineyards we imported from. Unfortunately a few years ago the farm was bought up by the neighbouring Fairview in Paarl, and the Seidelberg and De Leuwen Jagt ranges are no longer produced. We have just limited stock of a few of the Seidelberg range remaining, without doubt the last in the world.

    Du Toitskloof was another of our first imports, again now no longer looking to export its own branded wines to the UK and instead with new management taking over a few years ago, are producing primarily own label wines for large retailers.

    Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, although great wines, was a vineyard whose range never seemed to particularly take off here in the UK. Just a small amount of stock remains in our warehouse, but we are happy to have taken on a replacement in the form of Lanzerac, a stunning estate not too far away and home to the first ever Pinotage produced.

    Wines from the above vineyards are currently with up to 60% off so grab yourself a bargain here

  • Low Alcohol Wine, Monopole Brut just 8.5%

    With new UK guidelines on how much booze we should drink now at the paltry level of just 14 units per week for both men and women, just how can we make our units stretch?

    Probably the best way is to lower the alcohol content of your wine (although the 7 glasses a week quoted are based on just 10.5% alcohol anyway). Many of the large supermarket chains have already started to move in this direction with some "wines" offering a meagre 3.5% alcohol, great to keep within the guideline limits, unfortunately not so fantastic on the taste front.

    However, on our travels we have stumbled upon an unlikely solution in the form of a Luxembourg wine from the Moselle region. Domaine Vinsmoselle Monopole Brut is a semi sparkling white wine in the same style as many of the ever popular Prosecco Frizzante from Italy. A wonderfully easy drinking wine with a refreshing effervescence, hints of apples and pears and an alcohol of just 8.5%.

    Just £7.49 a bottle imported exclusively by Hard to Find Wines, the lower alcohol level means you can indulge in an extra glass every week and still enjoy a quality wine. Of course everything in moderation, so I will not be throwing out my Chianti at 15% just yet!

    You can find the Domaine Vinsmoselle Monopole Brut here

  • Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2015

    As we stare headlong into the run up to Christmas, happily we are now in possession of the new vintage of Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2015.

    Although the quality of this wine from the Von Arnim family in Franschhoek has always been very consistent, from the couple of tastings we have done with it out and about over the last few weeks, the general consensus seems to be that the new 2015 vintage is a corker!

    Still a great all rounder, this unusual white wine blended from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, remains soft and supple with plenty of white stone fruit flavours and an enticing fresh nose. However, the new offering has edged slightly more towards the wine of old, with a more prominent integrated acidity which just lifts the wine into a more bracing style. With or without food, this will certainly be my go to white wine over the festive period.

    The Haute Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir has long been our biggest selling wine, with it undoubtedly offering amazing quality and value. For those who prefer reds, the Pinot Noir gives just that added zip of berry fruits making this a weightier white than most. It also appeals to those who prefer their whites without oak, but perhaps not as grassy as Sauvignon Blanc. The Cabriere Chardonnay Pinot Noir balances just right the flavoursome nature with acidity and refreshment. Overall simply a stunning wine.

  • Orange River Cellars offers tremendous value for money

    We have been in search of a new range of quality SA wines for under £7 for quite some time now, and are delighted to have finally found them!

    Orange River Cellars is located to the North of Cape Town in Upington and when we first tasted the samples sent over at the start of the year, were blown away by the quality for the price. The range of Orange River wines consists of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites and Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds.

    Fresh and fruit driven, these wines are undoubtedly some of our best value for money wines and are perfect for parties or weddings.

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