The Latest from Roberson

Thoughts on wine and other topics from the Roberson team


Marion Adam

Apéro - the best way to drink

With the Euros underway, everyone in England will be heading down to the pub, while the French prefer to celebrate in their own way, enjoying an apéro in their gardens and homes. Prendre l’apéro is a special time, before lunch or more generally dinner, when you relax and share food and wine with friends and family at home. As a food obsessed nation, we bring all sorts of small plates and easy drinking wines that you would have bought on your way to the “party”. This ritual can take a couple of hours depending on the conversation and if you have planned dinner afterwards (if not, it is called an apero dinatoire). We usually bring to the table savoury biscuits, stuffed olives and mix of nuts which go really well with a light and refreshing white like Muscadet from Domaine des Cognettes 2014 . However, you will also find regional food such as tapenade on toast (olive paste from Provence) to enjoy with a glass of rosé like Mas des Dames Rosé; Saucisson brioché from Lyon with a glass of Beaujolais like Château des Pertonnieres or Colioure anchovies with olive oil on toast with some Picpoul de Pinet from Domaine des Lauriers 13 Vents 2015. The pairings are a perfect reflection of the diversity of the French culinary culture and how well the food and wines are defined by terroir. So if you fancy something different to beer while you’re watching the football this summer, why not grab a few of these bottles and throw an apéro à la française? PS: Allez les Bleus!



Max Margaritoff

Austrian Labels - What do they mean?

The sun is out, temperatures are rising and you are packing up your things to hit the park for a sunbathing session or a get-together with your friends to fire up the BBQ. All that is missing is an aromatic mineral white wine to make your day complete. The whites of Austria, in particular Riesling and Güner Veltliner, are the ideal wines for the summer, as their acidity is purely refreshing yet their aromatic characteristics and depth make them also ideal companions for your BBQ and summery salads. But how do you find your new favourite white wine from one of Austria’s many winegrowing regions? Similarly to the German label, the Austrian wine label, too, can be difficult to decipher as it includes many Austrian-German terms and phrases that can leave you in more uncertainty than intended. Here are some of the most important terms, commonly found on an Austrian wine label explained, so that you can pick your next bottle of Grüner Veltliner without being left confused! Though generally following the German quality classification system (Prädikatswein, Qualitätswein and Landwein), the Austrian Prädikatswein category does have slightly different meanings and categories. Prädikatswein Prädikatswein is divided into seven different distinctions (Prädikat), the classification is based on the ripeness level of the grapes. Spätlese. Means late harvest. Grapes are fully ripe. Auslese. Means ‘selected harvest’. All grapes are fully ripe and are sorted with all unripe, damaged or unhealthy grapes removed. Beerenauslese (BA). Means ‘selected harvest’. All grapes are fully ripe and are sorted with all unripe, damaged or unhealthy grapes removed. Stohwein/Schilfwein. Means straw or reed wine. The wine is made from fully ripened and sweet grapes that prior to processing were air-dried for a minimum period of three months on straw or reed. Eiswein. Means ‘ice wine’. The grapes were both harvested and processed during a naturally frozen state. Ausbruch. Means ‘break-out’. In most regions in Austria outside of the town of Rust on the Hungarian border, these wines will be termed Beerenauslese. The wines are made exclusively from dried, botrytis affected berries. Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). Means 'dry berry selection’. Wine produced primarily from dried, botrytis affected grape berries. The best quality wines will be made primarily from berries with noble rot. Qualitätswein Qualitätswein is the second tier after Prädikatswein in the Austrian wine classification. If you see this term on the label (usually on the back), you can be certain that the wine is made from the list of classified Austrian grape varieties and only from one officially recognised wine-growing region. Landwein Landwein means ‘country wine’. Similar to the Vin de Pays the Landwein category falls under the IGP category in Europe. A more detailed declaration of the wine-growing area or a larger site is not permitted on the label. DAC In order to make things a little more confusing, Austrian wine law recognises a second classification system, which in the designated areas with the DAC title, takes precedence over Prädikatswein classification. DAC stands for Districtus Austriae Controllatus, which literally means ‘protected Austrian declaration of origin’ and serves as a designation for both the region itself (like Kamptal) and its wine style. In this way the DAC is very similar to the French AOP, rather than the German wine classification system or Prädikastwein. Introduced in 2001, the first of the now nine DAC regions was Weinviertel DAC, approved in 2003. There are nine Austrian DAC regions with the approved grape varieties for each of the respective DAC. It is also worth noting that each DAC can make either Klassik or Reserve wines. Klassik. Not a legal term, ‘classic’ wine style refers to lighter, more fruit driven wines that have moderate levels of alcohol. Reserve. These wines are usually more full-bodied and aromatic style of wines, often with some oak influence. The wines need to show the vintage on the label, have at least 13% alcohol by volume, must be made from recommended varieties (see DAC) and be typical for its grape variety and regional origin. Finally these wines shall not be released to the market for sale right away. Vinea Wachau Finally it is worth looking at the third (and final) classification system, that you may encounter when scanning the label for one of the many Austrian-German terms: Vinea Wachau. Wachau is one of Austria’s most famous wine-growing regions, and known to produce world-class white wine. Founded by the winemakers in 1983, Wachau opted-out of the DAC and instead continues their quality classification system based on the style of the wines. This system is divided into three categories found on the label: Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. Steinfeder. The name literally means ‘stone feather’ and is the lightest one in style. The stonefeather is a type of grass that grows in and around the vineyard terraces in the Wachau. Like this grass, the wines have a light, fruity and crisp structure with a maximum alcohol content of 11.5% ABV. Federspiel. The name is derived from falconry, and describes the return of the falcon to its Master. Falconry historically was a favourite pastime for the elite in Wachau. The wines are medium in weight and always between 11.5% and 12.5% ABV. The wines are meant to resemble the power and finesse of the falcon. Smaragd. This term denotes the best and most valuable wine of the Vinea Wachau wine-makers and always have at least 12.5% ABV. These wines often present some of the best wines made in Austria and can, arguably, be ranked among the best in the world. They are rich and full-bodied and often very complex wines. Smaragd literally translates to ‘emerald’, and refers to the emerald-green lizards that are home in the sun-drenched wine terraces of the Wachau.



Megan O'Rahilly

Tasting with Jimmy Hayes from Mayacamas

Securing legendary status with the 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon at the Judgement of Paris tasting, Mayacamas Vineyards has been a highly revered name in the wine world for decades. This week, we’ve been lucky to have Estate Director Jimmy Hayes with us for some spectacular trade and consumer tastings. It’s slightly ironic that a winery founded in 1889 can be seen as part of the New California movement, especially since Mayacamas haven’t really changed a thing about their wines since the sixties. Quietly resisting modernisation since then, Mayacamas have been able to retain their old diehard fans whilst simultaneously gaining a following from wine hipsters off the back of the resurgence of more traditional style wines. The Mount Vedeer appellation which bears the fruit for these wines is pretty rugged; the vines are planted in volcanic soils at altitudes ranging from 600m- 800m above sea level. That doesn’t make life particularly easy for the vines, but this means that they yield fruit which reflects the cool climate and the tough, mountainous terroir. The two wines we tried with Jimmy in our office tasting are typified by this rusticity. The 2013 Chardonnay was showing plenty of candied citrus and white stone fruit aromas on the nose. The palate was steely and bright with more of the lemon peel flavours shining through on the long, precise finish. The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was also delicious; the dark fruit aroma is incredibly concentrated with an earthy undertone. Full bodied with superb tannins and acidity, this is definitely a wine which is only going to improve with age.



Jack Green

Auction Against Hunger at Hawker House

On the 26th May, Hawker House in Canada Water opened its doors to raise money for the charity Action Against Hunger. Some of the most celebrated chefs donned their whites to cook up Michelin-star quality dishes street-food style and auction off their time to raise money for those less fortunate than us. Action Against Hunger operates in over 40 countries worldwide to carry out innovative, lifesaving programmes in nutrition, food security, water, sanitation and hygiene. As well as a silent auction throughout the evening, guests were able to bid on some brilliant experiences in a live auction hosted by Christie's. Prizes included dinner at your house hosted by the River Café, unlimited burgers for a year provided by Meat Liquor, and a Spanish BBQ for your friends cooked and hosted by Jose Pizarro. All the food on the night was supplied free of charge by the chefs participating. Roberson was proud to donate one of our favourite Californian Chardonnays from Jackhammer, using our Wine on Tap system. The event so far has raised over £220,000 and continues to build awareness for a cause that’s very close to the industry we work in. Charity organiser Ben Maschler said "We are so lucky to be able to afford to choose what we eat and drink in this country and a wonderful business, full of fantastic people has built up around this fact. Ultimately, what drives me, is the fact that child malnutrition is a solvable problem. I do not feel that we are pouring money in to a black hole - I feel that we are working towards an end. An end that will see the end of child hunger around the world." To find out more about Action Against Hunger and the amazing work they do, click here.


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Emma Partington

Drink London Wine During London Wine Week

What better way to mark London Wine Week than by tasting a wine made in the heart of the city? Our sister company, and London's only winery, London Cru is teaming up with Bermondsey Street bar The Hide to offer a week-long celebration of London Cru wines. For one week only The Hide are foregoing their usual wine list and serving only London Cru wines, all of which will be available by the glass from Tuesday 24 May until Saturday 28th May. Tasting Event During this week, for one night only, talented London Cru winemaker Gavin Monery will be hosting a free tasting of London Cru's 2013 and 2014 vintages at The Hide . It's a unique opportunity to learn more about one of Europe's most innovative wineries and get an exclusive introduction to the different wines made in the heart of London. Date: Tuesday 24th May Time: 8-9pm Location: The Hide, 39-45 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3XF Spaces for the tasting are limited. RSVP to



Megan O'Rahilly

Taste £1,000 of wine for just £25

Please note: This offer has now ended. To kick off our 25th anniversary celebrations this year, we will be holding an exclusive tasting for Roberson Wine Club members, featuring some rare, fine wines from Cliff Roberson's private cellar. The tasting will take place on the 29th of June at London's only winery - our sister company, London Cru. Among the many wines open to taste will be Krug Champagne, Premier Cru Puligny-Montrachet by Sauzet and Carillon, Bordeaux from one of the region's finest producers - Château Palmer, and the world's greatest sweet wine - Château d'Yquem. In all, over £1,000 worth of wine will be open to taste, for a ticket price of just £25. Tickets go on sale on the 23rd May and will be available to Roberson Wine Club members only (maximum two per member). If you aren't already a member, join the Roberson Wine Club by the 23rd May and you too can get access to these tickets. We hope to see you there.


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