One of just 409 masters of wine in the world (of which 143 are women), Beverly not only selects the most incredible wines for Hallgarten & Novum’s impressive collection but also shares her knowledge with colleagues and customers as founder of the training and education team. We asked her to clear up a few wine myths and share some unmissable finds
Which common wine mistakes would you like to see cleared up?
‘Cork is better than screwcap’ and ‘red wine should never be served chilled’ are just a couple of the myths I’ve heard during my career and I am delighted to say they are both completely wrong.
Wines sealed with cork have an added level of theatrics when opening the bottle, but is a great pop worth it? It’s estimated that 2-3 per cent of wine is corked – when discussing this with peers, we’re unanimous in our opinion that screwcap is the preferred option.
Some red wines are perfectly suited to being lightly chilled as it can completely change the texture and taste of the wine. During the summer months when you’re after something thirst quenching, a chilled bottle of Beaujolais or Loire Valley Cabernet Franc can be incredible. However, it’s important not to over-chill it: 30 minutes to an hour in the fridge before serving will suffice.
Finally, don’t believe preconceptions about specific wines: Chardonnay is not always made with too much oak and you can get some very good Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.
Which wine regions are on the rise?
At Hallgarten & Novum we have long been advocates of Greece and eastern Mediterranean wine regions, and they are certainly on the rise more than ever. The wines from this part of the world are made from some of the oldest wine producing regions and perfectly suited to the palates of UK consumers.
Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey and Greece all produce wines from a mixture of easily recognisable international grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as indigenous grapes such as Assyrtiko, Rkatsitelli and Xinomavro. While some of these are a challenge to pronounce, they are well worth seeking out from local wine merchants or online.
Which wine trends should we be looking out for?
English wine. While wine from our shores is not a new trend, it is one we see growing every year. The quality of the wine keeps getting better and the winemakers are now making a name for themselves on the world stage – for both still and sparkling wines.
One British winemaker to keep an eye out for is Dermot Sugrue who was recently awarded Boutique Producer of the Year 2020 at the Wine GB Awards for his Sugrue South Downs brand. He was also described as ‘the best winemaker in England’ by wine expert Steven Spurrier.
Favourite wine and food pairings?
I love cheese and I’m always happy to try something different with a cheeseboard. While red wine and cheese is a great pairing, it’s not the only option; I really enjoy a botrytised sweet wine which can complement blue cheese perfectly.
Most memorable dining experience?
Having been unable to visit restaurants over the last few months due to the pandemic, I recently had my first evening out with a couple of friends in a local Sicilian restaurant. The food, wine and service were great and it was lovely to be able to resume a bit of normality.
Wine from Sicily is one of Italy’s hidden secrets as the volcanic soil of the island can give a wine an amazing minerality (that salty tang you sometimes taste).
Which wines on the current Hallgarten & Novum list should everyone know about?
The wines from Blackbook, an urban winery based in a railway arch outside Battersea station, are certainly leading by example in the UK. They are fun, eye-catching wines made to an exceptional standard and really embody the future of British wine.
From further afield, I have always enjoyed wines from the South of France and former France rugby player Gérard Bertrand is a biodynamic winemaking pioneer. Gérard is committed to sharing the characteristics and exceptional diversity of each of the terroirs at his numerous estates across the Languedoc-Roussillon. His wines pick up awards around the world and, in 2019, the Château l’Hospitalet Grand Vin Rouge, La Clape 2017 was awarded the Champion Red prize at the International Wine Challenge.
Any advice for choosing wine in a restaurant?
Try something obscure. You can rest assured that the Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Prosecco on restaurant wine lists will be reliable and offer something you’ll enjoy, so be adventurous and try something you don’t recognise from a region you may not have heard of – you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.