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 B...
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.
Interviewing Sideways Author Rex Pickett
Sideways is one of my all-time favourite wine-focused films. I had to watch it twice so I could remember the winemakers they visited and listen to Miles, the protagonist played by Paul Giamatti, waxing lyrical about the wonders of Pinot Noir. Sideways is a great, entertaining story with the chutzpah of Hollywood humour and drama. So sharing a stage with and interviewing Rex Pickett (author of the novel Sideways on which the film is based, and which he has now adapted for the London stage) caused me more than a couple of moments of wide-eyed, open-mouthed wonder. Chatting with Rex, who is genuinely easy to talk to and who loves sharing his anecdotes on wine and writing, the crowd and I yearned to be transported into the film. And what better way to do that than to taste wines from the stunning Santa Barbara region and the surrounding area? Rex loves his wines from Monterey and we discussed how underrated the region is as we tasted. Our range of Sandhi and Domaine de la Cote wines, brainchild of Rajat Parr (top US former sommelier and author of Secrets of the Sommelier) and talented winemaker Sashi Moorman, were a hit of the evening. Rex was stunned by their amazing elegance and really grateful to have tasted them - he has known of Raj for a long time. He was also humbled to learn that UK restaurants and consumers are really embracing wines from his homeland. This experience will go down in my bank of memorable moments. It was an amazing affirmation of something I strongly believe in - how wines merge cultures, change perceptions and bring people closer. Hail to the power of great Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays!
A Tribute to Grace
This week, we welcomed winemaker Angela Osborne from Tribute to Grace in California into the office to try her Grenache wines. Kiwi born, Angela became a winemaker after many years of hard graft. Starting at a wine shop in New Zealand whilst studying to be a film maker, she was persuaded that wine was her passion, and Grenache was the variety she wanted to work with. She then worked as a harvest intern in California, and was also in London for a few years working in wine sales before becoming what she calls a ‘gypsy winemaker’, moving from winery to winery in California to learn her craft. Although wine is her passion, Angela explained to us that her profession has been heavily influenced by her other love; film. It was Sideways that led Angela to take the plunge and finally become a winemaker. That and the British weather; Angela told us how she was living in Holloway when she went to see the film on a rainy day. A friend came by on a Vespa to pick her up, but the weather being as it was, they had to walk. Cold and wet, Angela sat watching a film about sunny Californian vineyards and began to question what she was still doing in the UK. Four months later, Angela was in California doing what she loved and making wine. Her life changing decision has definitely paid off. Tribute to Grace Wines, an homage to Angela’s Grandmother, are elegant and, funnily enough, graceful expressions of the Grenache grape. The wines are made using little intervention and Angela's approach is very 'hands-on', treading the grapes by foot and punching down by hand. The wines are all fermented using native yeasts and are matured in largely neutral oak for around 17 months. The result is a range beautiful Grenache wines with vibrant red berry flavours and peppery spice which express the subtle differences of the different vineyards where they come from.
What to cook with your Grüner Veltliner
In our email this week, Megan from our Online Department picked the Grüner Veltliner from Ebner-Ebenauer as her wine of the week. As you might expect, Grüner Veltliner works very well with many Austrian classics. Its crisp acidity makes it a refreshing accompaniment to anything coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Wiener Schnitzel or Backhendl (Viennese fried chicken) would be appropriate. Tafelspitz is the Viennese version of boiled beef and is always served with a glass of Grüner. Take a piece of topside and gently simmer (not boil) it in water with roughly chopped root vegetables, herbs and peppercorns. When it is soft (two to three hours) the most trying stage arrives, so for reassurance I quote Édouard de Pomiane: "Lift the beef from the saucepan and remove the string. The meat is grey outside and not very appetising. At this moment you may feel a little depressed." The key to overcoming this psychological barrier is to discard the vegetables and replace the meat. Overnight it will absorb some of the liquid and become more flavoursome, while you simultaneously recover your appetite for it. Reheat it gently and serve it sliced, with the juice poured over, apple and horseradish grated in equal amounts, rosti potatoes, creamed spinach and a sauce of egg yolk and oil flavoured with chopped chives. Alternatively, if you've just got in from work and don't have time for all that, the full, fresh flavour and peppery edge of this wine also go brilliantly with Kedgeree.
Bordeaux 2015 - Vintage Overview
For many in the UK wine trade the first week of April marks the time of year for the annual pilgrimage to Bordeaux. This is the period where the Bordeaux châteaux traditionally offer samples of their wines from the previous vintage before releasing the prices for pre-sale, or En Primeur. This was my first ever En Primeur trip after five years in the trade. The reason for our trip now was that supposedly there hasn’t been a vintage like 2015 since the ‘classic’ 2010. Would it live up to the hype? To find out for ourselves, myself and my colleague Oliver joined the rest of the UK trade, akin to a band of tweed-clad investigators, sent to inspect what the Bordelaise have been hiding from us in their barrel rooms since last September. Margaux and Saint-Julien Day one started off fairly small-scale, with a 9am appointment at Château Margaux. The spring sunshine and wispy mists rising off the broad vineyard landscape made the place seem even more fantastical than in the commercial photos you see regularly. After trying Pavillon Blanc and Pavillon Rouge, followed by the Grand Vin itself, the first impressions were that indeed, yes, this could be a wonderful vintage. The wines showed great freshness and finesse straight away. Caution was advised by our seasoned guide, however, who pointed out that it is easy to be seduced by the first tasting in such magnificent surroundings. This was Château Margaux of course, and there were hundreds of wines still to taste. The rest of the first day was spent exploring Margaux and Saint-Julien. One of the highlights was Château Rauzan-Segla, where we had the privilege to taste the wine from barrel. In fact, we were invited to choose which barrels to taste from. There was a marked difference between a sample from a new barrel and a one year old barrel, yet in both there was the same underlying fruit of the utmost beauty. The wines of Margaux were certainly showing very well, with Château Palmer also one of the wines of the vintage. There was a real purity and finesse to the wines with silky tannins and perfumed fruit. Lunch was taken at Château Beychevelle - very grand surroundings indeed, the ‘Versailles of Bordeaux’. Afterwards the winemaker, our old pal Phillippe Blanc, showed us the progress made on building his brand new winery. There certainly is no expense spared amongst the top châteaux in improving facilities, for winemaking purposes or otherwise. The Saint-Julien wines were very classic of the region and the vintage - fresh, juicy and very appealing. Pessac-Léognan and Saint-Emilion Pessac-Léognan and Saint-Emilion were the focus of Day two. The first stop was an appellation-wide tasting of Pessac wines. There is nothing quite like tasting 30 wines in 30 minutes first thing in the morning with the deadline of an appointment at Château La Mission Haut-Brion looming. Unfortunately our hastiness, coupled with my rookie mistake of wearing white, resulted in the ignominy of sporting a purple polka-dotted shirt for the rest of the day. Impressions of Pessac were generally good. The whites tasted fresh and lively on the whole and should provide very enjoyable drinking in the short and medium term, and they should be good value. The reds showed nice purity of fruit, with Château La Mission Haut-Brion my wine of the region. Before departing for Bordeaux we had heard that 2015 could be a right bank vintage. When we arrived we also heard many say that it was a perfect vintage for Merlot. So with that in mind we headed to Saint-Emilion with great expectations. The big open tasting of 30 or so châteaux left much food for thought. After some food for the stomach at Château La Couspade (some of the best marquee food I think I’ve had) we were back on the road visiting some of Saint-Emilion’s most illustrious names. There were certainly highlights, with Cheval Blanc being probably our wine of the vintage. It has the most beautiful perfume and a balance, finesse and elegance not matched anywhere else. Above is their new winery – yes, wine is actually made in that room. However, the overall impression of Saint-Emilion is mixed. There were certainly no terrible wines, but some châteaux seem to have overworked the fruit, leaving the finished products too jammy and over-oaked. The châteaux who have been careful and have allowed the fruit to speak have made pure, bright and delicious wines. Unfortunately, Château Pétrus wouldn’t let us in so I can’t tell you what that tastes like. Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe Our final day involved a trip back to the left bank where we ticked off three of the ‘first growths’ in one morning. Not an easy task but someone had to do it. Perhaps the tasting of the vintage was at Château Latour. Not being involved in the En Primeur system gave them the opportunity to show some back vintages, with 2000 a real showstopper, and what a relief these were for the palate. The talk of the town was that the northern part of the Médoc bore the brunt of some serious rainfall during September. If this showed in any way in the wines it was perhaps with the Saint-Estèphes, which for me were the weakest of the left banks but still in no way bad wines. Pauillac seemed very Pauillac, with tonnes of dark fruit and graphite. Château Pichon-Baron have made a seriously good wine and Château Lynch-Bages as always was very strong. Overall impressions Tasting young Bordeaux is tough work. No, seriously, it requires discipline to give every wine due attention, especially when your palate is saying ‘no more please’. Even the most seasoned tasters will tell you that judging the merits of Bordeaux at this stage is a tricky task. However, what is achievable is to get an overall feel of the vintage, and those vibes are certainly strong. There is a real juiciness and purity to the fruit. There is also lots of freshness and elegance in the wines. There is always a tendency to make comparisons with other vintages and if pushed to do so I would compare the structure and fruit to 2005, rather than the plushness of 2009 and 2010. However, 2015 should be considered on its own merits. In my opinion it is a very good vintage where the careful winemakers have allowed the terroir to be expressed and the best wines will age very well.
Anna Von Bertele
London Cru in Saturday's Telegraph
“The bacchus 2014 might just be the best I’ve tasted…” That was the opinion of Victoria Moore in this Saturday’s edition of The Daily Telegraph, after she visited the tasting bench at London Cru, our sister company, last week. Of the LDN Cru Bacchus 2014 she observes:“the wine is absolutely bone dry. It’s lovely, broad, yet also fine, redolent of elderflowers and fat blades of grass.” We are delighted she also enjoyed the tasting of Red Wine SW3 Cabernet Sauvignon from the 2013 crush: “the wine that elbowed this simple catch-up visit out of my notebook and into the space on this page was a bottle of cabernet sauvignon we tasted from the original 2013 crush… Would I like to try it again? You bet. Reader it is a superb bottle of wine for £15… It would be great with Easter lamb…” The full article can be read on The Telegraph website and all of the wines can be ordered online.
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