Anna Von Bertele
A letter to Matthiasson
Dear Steve and Jill, Arriving at your house was like walking in to a fairy tale; crossing the little footbridge bridge to a world surrounded by wildlife, exotic vegetables growin...
Artèis tasting - Perfect Champagnes for food
You know it’s a good day when someone is pouring you a glass of Champagne before midday. That’s exactly what happened in the office last Friday when Fabien Gay from Artèis popped by the Roberson office to taste through some of his wines with us. Fabien is a keen advocate for pairing Champagnes with food. In the UK, you don’t hear of many people matching their Champagne with a meal, as it’s usually a wine that we’ll open only for celebratory purposes, or when we want to toast an occasion. We’re definitely missing a trick – Champagne is a lot more versatile as a food wine than many others out there. With varying styles (vintage, rosé, demi-sec etc.), there is Champagne for every occasion. When tasting the Artèis Champagnes, you could tell straight away that they would be perfect partners for a variety of dishes. There is no doubt that the Brut 2004 is made for food – it’s quite full bodied with great acidity, which means it could stand up to a range of seafood dishes, or even white meats. The 2002 is similar, but more developed, with the white fruit aromas giving way to more complex nutty notes. While these were both lovely, the best wine for me was the Blanc de Blancs 2004 ; with its fresh floral and citrus profile, this would be perfect with something like carpaccio.
Anna Von Bertele
A letter to Jamie Kutch
Dear Jamie, I’m finding it hard to put in to words quite how amazing the feeling was of leaving foggy San Francisco to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful, blue skied Sonoma, knowing I was going to have a whole week in the stunning wine country. I’m envious that you get to make this journey every day. Although I felt familiar with your wines from the excellent tasting you held here in February, it was so great to visit you at your winery and see how you work. I thought I was pretty familiar with the way wine is made and was aware of your minimal intervention methods, but it made such a difference to walk through the process with you and understand the decisions you make at each step of the wine. Your size and production methods actually reminded me of London Cru, our winery here in West Brompton. The morning spent with you and your assistant winemaker, Joanna, was fantastic. I found trying your wines side by side and noticing the different vineyard characteristic very interesting. I’m particularly intrigued by the idea of the different wild yeasts from the vineyards contributing to the taste of the different vineyard wines as they all had such distinct characteristics, despite being made in exactly the same way. It’s hard to pick a favourite Pinot from your range, though if I had to choose it would be the Falstaff Pinot 2014. I love the ripeness of the fruit, but how balanced and elegant it is because of the close proximity of the vineyard to the ocean. I look forward to buying a couple of bottles and trying them in a year or two. Also, thank you for a delicious lunch – I loved the Fremont Diner and discovering the American biscuit – I didn’t think I’d ever be hungry again! Love, Anna X
Anna Von Bertele
IWC 2016 Specialist Merchant of the year USA
Last Thursday evening, Roberson attended the International Wine Challenge award ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane, fingers crossed that we’d hold on to our award as the UK specialists of the USA. Four years ago we began to focus our attention on the ‘New USA,’ a range of producers in America that were part of a revolution in the country and breaking away from the old-fashioned template of big point-scoring wines in favour of bright, graceful, Old World inspired wines. We are so proud of the response these wines have had over the years, receiving lots of praise from our retail customers, as well as seeing them poured across some of the best restaurants in London. After a nail-biting ceremony, we are very pleased to announce we won it for the fourth year running are hold on to the title as the number one merchant of the USA. To celebrate this with our loyal customers, we’re offering 20% off our whole range of producers for one week only; make sure you snap up some of the best wines America has to offer.
My wine of the week
My pick for this week has to be the stunning Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Loibner Klostersatz 2012 from FX Pichler. Athough the sun may have disappeared now I'm writing this, the rising temperatures last week coaxed me and my friends out to the park to enjoy a barbecue. As a big fan of light and refreshing white wines, I decided to bring a bottle of Austrian Grüner Veltliner Federspiel Loibner Klostersatz 2012 from FX Pichler. It didn’t take long and the wine was the big talking point amongst us, and to keep things short: it was an absolute success! I love Güner Veltliner, especially in the summer, because the wines are just purely refreshing and their aromatic characteristics and depth make them also ideal companions for summery salads. FX Pichler has been described by Robert parker as the Château Latour and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of the Wachau, and the Grüner Veltliner confirms their status as one of the best producers in Austria. The wine is light and crisp with a refreshing acidity and beautiful aromas of green apple, delicate herbaceous notes with hints of honey and a long mineral finish. It really doesn’t get much better than this for summer drinking.
Quality from a French cooperative
I feel really lucky to have grown up in the south of France and I regularly go back to visit family and friends. This time, I stayed an extra day to go to the Cave Cooperative d’Estezargues , located between the Pont du Gard and the former Pope’s Capital of Avignon. The village of Estezargues used to be a Roman fortress, with a castle the top of the hill and vineyards, forests and olive trees surrounding it below. Wine has been an integral part of the culture here, and a statue of Bacchus and Diane that was discovered here in 1896 is now on dispalay at the Louvres. When I arrived, I met with Denis, the director of the cooperative. He was wearing his “London” t-shirt, a little sign of his appreciation for Roberson, and we jumped in a car to head off and see the different parts of the vineyards. I learnt that the vineyards in the Signargues Plateau are planted in soils composed of red stone pebbles, deposited by a prehistoric river. This area is classified as Côtes du Rhone Village, and the plots downhill are mostly limestone and sand. Viticulture in this area is actually quite recent- before the 60s, most of the land was dedicated to the arboriculture and apricot/cherry orchards. As some of the soil was not fertile enough for growing fruit, vines were planted, mainly Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Carignan. The Cooperative has been going since 1989, and was started up by Jean-François Nicq. Jean-François got ten wine makers to work together and share resources, whilst simultaneously retaining their individuality in their wines. The cooperative have a great focus on sustainability - half of the production is certified organic while the rest is cultivated following the principles of Terra Vitis. All of the wines are made naturally (no filtration, natural yeast, no added chemicals). Denis and I tasted some wines, including the Domaine de Pierredon and Domaine d’Andezon, both reflecting the warmth of the terroir with notes of delicious ripe fruits. They are both delicious to taste now or to lay down for a few years and will go perfectly with anything meaty and flavourful. These are some of the best-value wines in our range, and it's hard to believe that these are cooperative wines!
Anna Von Bertele
A letter to Mount Eden Vineyards
Dear Ellie, Sitting back in London on this cloudy day, I am finding myself daydreaming of my visit to Mount Eden Vineyards. I can remember how exciting it was driving towards the mountains from Santa Cruz – you were the first winery I visited and after months of planning I got butterflies of excitement weaving my way up the steep mountain that I’d actually be tasting your delicious wines where they’re made. I'd heard how stunning your place was but my imagination didn't do justice to quite how beautiful it was. Living 2000ft high with the vineyards below is one of the most picturesque places I can imagine. I love the idea of watching the fog lift below whilst drinking my morning coffee - the way this cools the vines to stop the grapes becoming over-ripe from the sunshine made much more sense from witnessing it. I really enjoyed trying your range of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although I love your top Mount Eden wines, I think the Domaine wines are excellent value. I didn't realise they’re made in exactly the same style as the top wines, but just using fruit from the nearby Domaine Eden to make them more approachable in their youth. I found them so Burgundian and elegant in style, and now having experienced the cooling breeze on the vines, I can understand how you achieve this. I was also so impressed with the Mount Eden Cabernet Sauvignon. Sometimes I find Cabernet a bit too heavy, but this was so elegant and well balanced from the vineyard's altitude and close proximity to the ocean. It was interesting to learn that the heritage of the Cabernet clone dates back to the 1890s when Emmett Rixford obtained cuttings from first growth Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux and planted them in California. I like the way the present day vines can be traced back to this vineyard through various cuttings which are all related to the original vine. As I tried it I did actually think of a Bordeaux (though I'm sure it wouldn’t be as affordable as this!) and will definitely be buying a bottle to age. As I was leaving I felt very envious of your dog lying in the sunshine by the vines – what an amazing life he has. Thank you again for showing me your range – you are one the most historic estates in our collection and I feel so fortunate to have visited. Love, Anna X
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