HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  SEPTEMBER 2022

It was back to normal service at the beginning of the month – and our biggest event of the year – the Burghley Horse Trials.  With a three year break, we had no idea what to expect and so were delighted when the crowds flocked and the sun shone.   This is quite simply a staggeringly enjoyable event where (dare I say), for many visitors, the horses are just a distraction and it’s the fabulous shopping opportunities it provides.  From outside garden furniture to the best smoked salmon – and of course Hannibal’s great range of wines all ready to be tasted and enjoyed.  We are sure to be back there next year, so do consider it as the perfect end of summer event.

2022 – FINGERS CROSSED, SURPRISINGLY GOOD QUALITY PREDICTED

Europe is set to report a pretty good quality vintage overall – assuming all continues to go well.  Picking is now well under way in some parts of France and Italy.   In spite of early frosts and exceptionally dry weather (France reports the driest on record since 1959), the vines are largely disease free.  Surprisingly, Champagne yields are reporting 10% up on 2021 and more in line with their five year average.  Bordeaux, on the other hand, is likely to be lower as a result of their blistering heat and this is more likely to be the norm across western European production – good quality, lower quantities.

WHAT CAN OUR NEW LEADER DO?

As our new Prime Minister gathers her thoughts, we are tightening our belts and doing everything in our power to mitigate possible cost increases, let’s face it, most of which will probably be outside any PM’s control.   If she can magic an improvement in the value of Sterling, then this will do wonders for wine pricing.  But in the meantime, it’s our job to highlight what we believe are our best value offerings.  And what better than to highlight our bestsellers at Burghley Horse Trials last week :

     CHATEAU D’OLLIERES, PROVENCE ROSE – £14.65

The biggest seller of the weekend, pushed on by the continued sunshine.   Go on, treat yourself to a few last bottles to see out the summer in style!

     CIELLO BIANCO, SICILY  –  £10.25

Often referred to as ‘the cloudy one’, this 100% catarratto grape is an organic/bio-dynamically produced gem.  Unfiltered (hence the cloudiness), it has real intrigue and just a bit more to it then many wines at this price point.  Another sell out at Burghley, so give it a go

     THE PENNY BLACK, POST HOUSE WINERY, STELLENBOSCH, S AFRICA – £23.75

We introduced this several months ago, showed it to a big wine society and have been bowled over by it ever since.  Yes is a bit meaty on price, but we think it is an absolute steal compared to other wines of this quality (think north of £100 for a good Bordeaux and you’ll understand why we are highlighting it).

Cheers!

Hannibal Brown

HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  MAY 2022

We are slam bang in the midst of our busy festival season – and we’re loving it!

Fresh back from Badminton Horse Trials (the first event for them and us) for three years, we are delighted to report that the public proved to be a thirsty bunch after such a long wait.  Attracting visitors from all over the world, the thirst was finally quenchd by this great outdoor event.  Indeed we were blessed with perfect sunshine to boot.

Next stop:  the International Hay Book Festival.  Situated in rolling hills on the Welsh border, Hay on Wye is a stunning little village at the foot of the Black Mountains.  Twinned with Timbuktu (yup, you read that right), it is the centre of world book culture and a delight to visit.  Like Badminton, this is their first festival since 2019 and we urge you to give it a whirl.  Do join us if you can – we’ll have plenty of wines to taste.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN AFRICA?

 Last week, we presented an array of South African wines to a very welcoming wine society situated down in the heart of the Hampshire countryside.  Of course, all talks always need fine-tuning and I found myself with my head in the books, genning up on the latest news from the Cape.  What caught my eye was the latest in farming technology and I thought I’d share it with you – something called :

AGRIVOLTAICS

Ever heard of this?  Me neither.  But that’s because it’s hot off the press.  In a nutshell, it is the simultaneous use of land for growing crops and generating electricity with solar panels.

Solar panels are mounted high enough for crops to be grown underneath, sheltering them from over-powerful sun rays and allowing rainwater harvesting.  The tilt of the solar panels is adjusted robotically to optimize sun vs rainwater capture, as well as to protect crops from potential frost, wind and other adverse weather.

So far, there have been successful trials in Kenya and it would appear that vineyards are looking to getting involved with further trials.   In France, a trial is being conducted in the Vaucluse and already they are seeing incredible results, not least the reduction of water use by up to 13% (less evaporation).

This kind of technology may be costly.  But if it works, let’s hope the world can find the necessary funding.

NEW FROM PUGLIA

The first of two new wines this month – Puglia Bianco – a 50/50 blend of Fiano and Falanghina.  We are describing it as a ‘chameleon’ wine because it has such a diversity of flavour.  Organic and bio-dynamically grown.  Price £11.99.

NEW FROM UCO VALLEY

A 100% Cabernet Franc and known as ‘Sombrero’, this is a really grippy red, almost black in colour.  Definitely a wine to decant – and once you have, the deep fruit sings on the palate and the structured tannins integrate beautifully.  Price £14.50.

Cheers!

 

HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  APRIL 2022

The months really are steaming along!  The change of hour to British Summer Time in late March is always so gratefully received, but it’s the extended light hours that really take effect in April.

And yet the weather is still doing the strangest things….

BUD BURST

In late March, we saw un-seasonally high temperatures across Europe – time to finally take the thermals off, hooray!  Anyone with a garden or who walks a dog will have noticed the grass growing like billy-o and the daffs springing into action finally.  As for the vineyards, the ‘bud burst’ came early to many European countries – this is where grape vines spring out of dormancy and into their growing season.

Ten days on and Europe saw sub zero temperatures, well below the seasonal norm.  French vignerons were forced to take desperate action for a second year in a row to protect their vineyards from frost.  With bud burst already under way, the threat of frost damage is acute and with it the potential of a lost harvest.  The Alps saw massive snow dumps last week; Brittany was awash with rain – the climate is increasingly a nail-biting roller coaster for farmers.

PROTECTING FROM FROST

Lighting fires in the vineyards is one way of keeping the frost at bay although this can cause unwelcome smoke pollution; other farmers spray water, thus protecting the vines from further drop of temperature; others use helicopters or windmills to increase the air circulation in the vineyard.  fires in vinesWhatever the method, it’s imperative to do something when frost appears.  It’s no wonder the price of wine is exploding! 

THE HUNGRY GAP – Update

The 2021 European rosé bottlings are complete and the wines are on the water.  We expect them to land any moment.  The fresh acidity and zip of the latest harvest literally kick-starts the tastebuds each spring and we can’t wait for you to try them.  Rosé wines will be less plentiful this year in terms of production because of the frost of 2020.  Nevertheless, there should be enough to quench most thirsts.

Easter wine suggestions

A delicious leg of lamb is a ‘must’ at Easter!  Having said that, many of us (this team included) are reducing our meat intake, favouring seasonal veg instead.  Whatever your culinary fancy, take a look at these great wines this month:  Ripasso from Casalforte, Cairanne from Georges Darriaud, Winery of Good Hope Pinot Noir and not forgetting Sembro from Ribera del Duero.

Hannibal is stepping out

It’s been a long, long time coming and we are delighted to look forward to our first major event since Spring 2019 – the Badminton Horse Trials.  Not into horses?  No matter, it’s a known fact that the majority of visitors attend Badminton each year purely for the incredible shopping opportunity.  Packed with small boutique companies selling exceptional quality, unique goods, it’s a great day out.  We’ll be there showing our wares and encourage you to think about attending.  Runs 4th to 8th May – a grand day out!

Please remember, don’t forget…

National Pigs-in-Blankets Day!  –  24th April

Freedom Day South Africa – 27th April

Happy Easter!

Hannibal Brown

HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  MARCH 2022

After a (semi-) successful January of wine abstinence (yes, even we embrace a bit of the ‘Dry J’ thing), February brought with it an interesting shot at vegetarianism and I am pleased to report that, with the exception of the odd fishy inclusion, it was far easier to conquer!  “It’s all about textures”, says Jude.  And she’s not wrong (check out her recipes on our website and you’ll see she knows what she’s talking about).  “Food is just like wine – the more layers of texture, as well as flavour, the more exciting it becomes.”

One unexpected, yet very welcome outcome from taking the veggie challenge was the positive impact on the purse strings – I’d never really appreciated how reasonably priced veg is compared to hunks of meat.  Food for thought, as they say.

Wasn’t it fun to welcome March 2022 with the flip of a few pancakes!  Any aficionado of any substance will surely agree that the best pancake is the classic lemon and sugar option – totally delicious and surprisingly improved by a glass of barrel-fermented Spanish Chardonnay from Sabina.

The Hungry Gap

So who is bracing themselves for March winds?  Let’s be honest, it surely can’t be any worse than those we experienced throughout February.  But the third month of the year always sees another challenge.  The ‘hungry gap’, as it’s known to farmers, is the moment when there’s a lull in fresh vegetable availability.  In wine terms, we have our own ‘thirsty gap’ as we impatiently await the new 2021 bottlings from the northern hemisphere wine estates to arrive on our shelves – the fresh acidity and zip of the latest harvest literally kick-starts the tastebuds each spring.

Spotlight on…

The news of the moment is we have just launched our ‘Spotlight on…‘ series.  Pam & Jude turned on the search lamps last month to highlight some real treasures that have been hiding in the shadows for far too long.  Each week the spotlight will fall on an individual wine of their choice.   From recipes for the perfect food pairing to juicy nuggets of expanded info on the wine and winery, let us set your curiosity alight and – who knows – maybe even entice you to buy a bottle!   We’ve kicked off with our limited edition Carmenere from the Perez Cruz family estate in Chile, followed by a new white Viognier from the Limari valley, within spitting distance of the Atacama desert.  This week, we are delighted to welcome the 2019 vintage of the oh-so-special ‘Dindori’ Shiraz from our good friends at Sula in central India.  Do check these out on our website.

Please remember, don’t forget…

International Women’s Day – Tuesday 8th March

No Smoking Day! – Wednesday 9th March

World Water Day  –  Tuesday 22nd March

Mother’s Day – Sunday 27th March

A final word – no time for procrastination…

We continue our efforts to keep costs to an all time low and with it our carbon footprint.  (You’ll notice that even this letter is printed on recycled paper!)  Sadly, however, our pricing is being literally battered by one disaster after another.  And as fuel costs continue to spiral out of cost of of wine production, shipping  and packaging.  It is likely that we will be forced to push some prices a degree or two north in the coming weeks, so don’t delay if you want to take advantage of current pricing.

Cheers for now!

Hannibal

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that most wine merchants hibernate in January.

With the exception of 2021 (a bonkers year of wine consumption brought on by pandemic lockdown), January falls silent, as the world comes to terms with December over-indulgence, over-spend and the dreaded New Year abstention plans.  Uggghh!

Finn McCool on early patrol

But here we are, in the blink of an eye, February is upon us and possibly, just possibly, an opportunity to really start planning for a happier and healthier new year.

SPRING IS ON ITS WAY!

We imagine, like us, many of you have had events and holidays cancelled – trust us, we know and share your frustration and disappointment.  Indeed, having to cancel Hannibal’s annual Christmas tasting for a second year running was a blow, not least because it starved us and you of the chance to meet up and enjoy an evening of great wine and great company.  Rest assured that we are already working on a Spring revival and will let you know more details as they unfold.

DRY JANUARY MEANS A WET FEBRUARY!

My attempts this year to achieve that ever-illusive ‘dry’ January were once more put to the test.  Still, I had a shot at it and am pleased to report that I rallied for the first couple of weeks, before the remaining month (such a long month) became damper by the day.  But it got me thinking about wine in general – the joy it brings, the amazing way the right wine can combine so perfectly with the right food; the significance of organically grown/produced wines and of course the need to maintain moderation.  One point to make is the impact of introducing food whilst drinking, improving the body’s ability to metabolise alcohol more efficiently.  In my opinion, moderate wine consumption alongside exercise and a balanced diet leads arguably to a happier lifestyle.

Which leads me onto February… the days are longer and the outdoors beckons.  It’s not quite barbecue weather, but the running shoes are out, as are the healthy cook books.  All that’s needed is a dabble into the range of wines to find some perfect healthy combos.  When you peruse the wines on our website, be sure to check out our ‘food pairings’ section within each product description.  Most suggestions are tried and tested.  Indeed, if you have a great wine and food pairing suggestion, we’d love to hear from you.

DOING OUR BIT FOR THE WORLD

You may recall back in November, with COP26 bearing down upon us, we took a look at Hannibal’s own sustainability.  We continue to ask the same questions – what can we do better?  What can we contribute to the enormous world burden of achieving the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals?

We already recycle all of our waste, right down to the last coffee granule!  We print our missives on recycled paper using ‘green’ ink.  We’ve even installed recycled carpet recently to keep our feet warm and keep the heating off as much as we can bear during the winter.

Our biggest usage is undoubtedly packaging.  This said, we managed to reduce our cardboard outer packaging usage by over 30% in 2021.  We did this simply by recycling the use of existing packaging wherever we can.  For you, our customers, you will see us re-using cardboard more and more.  And where we can, we’ll deliver in the wine’s original cartons.  You can be assured that the cost savings of surplus packaging will help keep our wine prices stable.

STOP PRESS – February PROMO!  We’re kick-starting February with a quick bin-end sale.  It helps us tidy our shelves a little and make way for the new vintages later in the year.  Don’t delay – take a look HERE>

Cheers for now!

HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  OCTOBER 2021

With a glorious September behind us, we can all sense the chill of autumn descending upon us.  And with it the subtle changes of mood.  We say ‘cheerio’ to our beloved barbecues and a wholehearted ‘woohoo’ to tasty  casseroles around the fireplace.  Out go the glugging rosés and in come the flavoursome, richer whites and reds to tantalise our tastebuds.

Note that we never stop selling rosé wines – they’re listed throughout the year – but you just won’t hear us talking about them quite so much during winter.

Our ‘Bounce Back’ Open Air Consumer Wine Event was a resounding success.  We were delighted to welcome back customers to our open air event in Wimbledon in September.  Ensuring safety first, we only got slightly soggy in the beautiful garden of Saint Mark’s Church, before the moon came out to much cheer.   Noteworthy wines of the evening were Akurra ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay and Jacques Bruere’s Cap Classique Sparkling (Champagne Method) – the latter at just £17.99 is an absolute steal and will give any Champagne twice it’s price a run for its money.

Date for your diary – 9th December 2021 – Hannibal’s Christmas wine event – more details soon.

Our Weird Weather  –  as October arrived, the squalls have come at us with gusto.  The grapes of all English wine estates are now picked and we wish all our domestic winemakers the best of luck with what our climate has dealt them in 2021.  Some estates will undoubtedly fair better than others, but it’s fair to say don’t take the English 2021 vintage for granted – it’s had its challenges and the wines will reflect that.

Hannibal’s Wine of the Month –  this month, we are launching a series of new wines from South America.  Look out for El Relator from Argentina and an absolutely stunning Syrah from El Secretto in Chile.  These were featured at our Bounce Back event and are now available here>

Recipe of the Month –  how about Beef Empanadas to go with those new South American listings? Rich, meaty flavours for a match made in Heaven.  Check out our recipe section> on our website at hannibalbrown.com

News of Finn McCool –  who’d have thought the our resident pooch would be such a delicate rose?  On a recent trip to Suffolk for a sneak mushroom preview, the beast came a cropper with a nasty rash brought on by bramble, heather, ferns, you name it.  Just like us humans, antihistamines came to Finn’s remedial rescue and you’ll be pleased to learn that normal ‘bonkersness’ has since resumed.

 

 

 

Cheers for now!

 

Hannibal Brown

The Olympics seem like a long, distant memory, as do the Para-Olympics and they were in September!  But remember those blistering performances? And what seemed like an endless flow of gongs!  Well done GB, well done the world – what an achievement after 18 months of….

And then we turned our eye to the possibility of the nation having a champion female tennis player.  What an achievement by Emma Raducanu, capturing the nation’s heart with her smile as much as her success.  Indeed so did her Canadian opponent – how refreshing to see two competitors actually enjoying themselves.  These are the sort of things that keep us smiling here at Hannibal Brown – we need that as the summer draws to a close.

Our ‘Bounce Back’ Open Air Consumer Wine Event was a resounding success earlier this month.  We were delighted to welcome back clients to our open air event in Wimbledon.  Ensuring safety first, we only got slightly soggy in the beautiful garden of Saint Mark’s Church, before the moon came out to much cheer.   Noteworthy wines of the evening were Akurra ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay and Jacques Bruere’s Cap Classique Sparkling (Champagne Method) – the latter at just £17.99 is an absolute steal and will give any Champagne twice it’s price a run for its money.

Date for your diary –  9th December 2021 – Hannibal’s Christmas wine event – more details soon.

Our Weird Weather  –  as autumn arrived, we moved to a drier spell of sunshine and heat.  This bodes ‘better’ for the wine estates in southern England, but biblical downpours, hectic winds followed by sub-tropical heat have taken their toll.  Indeed, the tomato crop has been less than impressive this year and from our ventures to a few vineyards in Surrey and Sussex, the crops are acutely lower than in previous years.  France too will not produce its normal abundant crop.   But do not fear, we’ll always have plenty of wine to tempt you with!

Hannibal’s Wine of the Month –  this month, we are launching a series of new wines from South America.  Look out for El Relator from Argentina and Longavi from the Leyda valley in Chile.  These were featured at our Bounce Back event and are now available on our website.

Our recipe of the month –  ever thought of making your own Salmon Jerky?  You’ll be hooked when you’ve tasted it.  It’s simple and a great accompaniment to Chateau d’Ollieres Rose from Provence.  Recipe is on our website at https://www.hannibalbrown.com/salmon-jerky-ollieres-rose

Our resident pooch, Finn McCool has been busy joining us in our on-going virtual wine events.  We thought these might die away as we all get used to venturing outside post Lockdown.  But it seems there is still an appetite for online Zoom events.  If you are interested in holding one, do call us to discuss or go to our YouTube channel to see us (and Finn) in action.

Cheers for now!

HANNIBAL’S NEWS  –  JULY 2021 

There’s so much to talk about this month, it’s hard to know where to start!   It’s been great to see the Wimbledon Championships take place after last year’s cancellation.  As Wimbledon is the home of Hannibal Brown, we take a keen interest in the tournament and could not help notice that champagne was only being sold in half bottles this year.  What a shock!  Have tennis fans lost their consumption capability?  Or is the Championships putting ‘moderation’ first?  Or more intriguing still, is there a surplus of champagne half bottles in the market?  Or were they too embarrassed to charge over £50 for a bottle of Lanson?  I am searching the answer and will let you know.

Three vinous cheers! For Wimbledon wildcards Cameron Norrie and Emma Raducanu for reaching the third round and quarter final of the tournament respectively.  And a further three cheers for  the English and Italians football teams who both defied the cynics and made it all the way to the Euro Final.  Let’s face it, when you get to the Final, that’s achievement in itself.  The English are producing world class players these days, just as they are producing world class wines with over 50 vineyards now operating on the South Downs.  The Italians on the other hand produce more wine than any other nation in the world, providing plenty of quirk and variety, just like their players!  To celebrate, we put together a blistering 12 bottle case of mixed Italian wines.  It’s still available – https://www.hannibalbrown.com/product/viva-il-vino-italiano/

July’s buzzword has to be ‘unlocking’, although it remains to be seen how this will play out.  The team is chomping on the bit in anticipation of our next consumer ‘in-the-flesh’ wine event.   Once we are confident that these can be held safely and risk-free, we’ll be making the announcement.  In the meantime, many of us will be stay-cationing and if you’re wondering what to do in the evenings, we’ve found that our DIY Tasting Kits fit the bill perfectly.

As our English summer progresses, we are hopefully moving to a drier period with prolonged sunshine in the south.  This bodes ‘better’ for the wine estates in southern England, but heavy rain and the cold spring will have taken their toll on the vines.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a climatic flourish to see the grapes come good this harvest.

This month, we’ve been throwing something extra into case purchases.  With every 12 bottle case, there’s a complimentary packet of specialist Bombay Mix from our friends at the award-winning Howdah.  This unusual but delicious savoury is a great accompaniment to bubbly and aromatic wines.   What’s more, every packet sold provides a school meal for a child in India.

Our recipe of the month is a Smoked Paprika, Tomato & Garlic Dip.  Serve with breadsticks and a bottle of Rosé from Georges Darriaud – an unbelievable delicious combination.   Details at https://www.hannibalbrown.com/july-recipe/

Our resident pooch, Finn McCool has been up to his usual antics.  The recovery of some dubious foreign objects from his insides suggested he’d been doing his normal ‘I’ll eat anything’ trick.  Who would have imagined he could chew his way through a tin of dog food – yes, I said tin!

Finn has his own summer tipple to keep him cool.  It’s called Slurps – brilliant hydration for dogs.  Check it out at www.slurps4pets.co.uk.

My own preferred July tipple– a chilled dry Riesling from Christian Binner in Alsace, liquid sunshine in a bottle.

Cheers!

Hannibal Brown