Operations assistant Max Edge continues his adventures in £10+ wines. Don't miss his previous post: Breaking Bacchus. Put a zin(g) in your step Something occ...
In search of Provencal perfection
Seeking Rosé from Paris to Provence. Provence rosé isn’t just for summer. To be fair, it never has been in my household. Rosé has always been a superb food matching wine, best drunk on the back of a super-yacht with that morning's catch of fresh lobster (so I’m told), as much as it’s an aperitif for those long summer afternoons. So, when we decided to bolster our already award-winning range, I felt I was born for the job. There’s only one place to go and look for Provence rosé, and unfortunately that is Paris. Luckily for me I arrived on a particularly dreary, cold winter's day at the annual Wine Paris trade event. A far, far cry from my imaginary yacht but my focus was clear, find the best possible rosé I could from well over 100 or so producers. Coeur Clémentine stood out from the start, not only because it tasted like pure Provençal pale nectar, but also because I had seen the label before and couldn’t for the life of me remember where. It’s not all miserable trade tastings in conference centres. Sometimes we do get to travel to these regions and taste from the horse’s mouth. A visit to Minuty last year involved a whistle-stop tour of some superb eateries, an excellent opportunity to see what the local sommeliers recommend and wax lyrical about. And just like that, staring down at my iPhone was a picture of Coeur Clémentine ‘Côtes de Provence’ Rosé with a plate of freshly prepared charcuterie in the background. I’ve lost enough tasting booklets over the years to know that snapping a picture of anything worthwhile is the way forward, so I at least knew the fact it was on my phone was a good sign. Fast forward to the summer and I’m incredibly excited to welcome owners Steve Veytia and Pierre Arosteguy to the Roberson family. The dry Côtes du Provence is a heavenly example of what Provence Rosé is all about. Delicate aromas of wild strawberry, almost floral with lovely bone-dry finish. They are also one of the few producers in Provence to make a sparkling rosé. Made from a selection of Grenache vineyards chosen extremely carefully, this is going to be the next big thing, after still Provence rosé that is. We currently have a range of Coeur Clémentine wines in stock now.
How to pair Rosé wine with vegetarian food
This year, for the first time, Roberson Wine has won a Highly Commended award in the International Wine Challenge's Rosé Specialist Merchant of the Year competition! Pulling together one of the UK’s most exciting ranges of rosé wines was no mean feat, but what’s the point of having all these award-winning wines if there’s no food to enjoy them with? The great thing about rosé, and often overlooked, is how well the subtle flavours pair with food - especially vegetarian dishes. So we've pulled together some delicious veggie recipes to pair with 6 rosés that we feel landed us that coveted award. All these recipes lend themselves to alfresco dining, and don’t be afraid to get those veggies on the BBQ! Afterall, the BBQ isn’t just for overcooked (or undercooked) sausages! Domaine Pierre Chavin ‘Pierre Zero’ Alcohol Free Rosé With a nose full of fresh wild strawberries and a palate with subtle hints of rhubarb, we think a recipe with a nod to the tropical fruits would be a perfect fit. The grapes for this wine are harvested at night, to retain all the natural freshness in the fruit. So, recipes with lots of crisp fruit like watermelon work well. Recipes Grilled vegetable salad with pomegranate and mint Grilled watermelon, feta and tomato salad Grilled artichokes with caper mint sauce Château Minuty 'M de Minuty' Rosé 2018 With a direct pressing process, Château Minuty was the first to give this pale colour to its rosés. A light rosé with aromas of orange peels and red currant that will go very well with pizzas to remind us of the Mediterranean Sea. Trust me, nothing can beat the combination of fresh ingredients and aromatic wine. Recipes Provencal pizza Margherita vegan pizza Mediterranean pizza Broc Cellars Love Rosé 2017 Located at the East of Napa Valley, this natural wine is an interesting one! With a blend like this, the characteristics of the wine are perfect for enjoying both Trousseau's texture and Zinfandel's spices. This complex rosé is the reincarnation of a juicy watermelon of summer, pleasant notes with salad! Recipes Asian salad Apple and grilled goat cheese salad Vietnamese vegan spring rolls London Cru 'Rosaville Road' Rosé 2018 With this 100% English wine, you will no longer have to look overseas for your rosé fix. This Surrey Pinot Noir will satisfy your summer expectations with pink grapefruits and fresh strawberries! And thanks to lees ageing, the palate has a creamy texture. And what could be better than English asparagus and rosé at a picnic? Recipes Asparagus and cheese tart Asparagus and red onion tart Asparagus salad La Tour Melas 'Idylle' Rosé 2018 Want to escape the city? Why not turn to a biodynamic rosé from Greece? Very old vines producing rosé wines with great acidity as well as wonderful aromas of pomegranate and cherries! I can only recommend Greek meals for a perfect combination. Recipes Tomatokeftedes Greek rice-stuffed tomatoes Traditional Greek salad Château d’Esclans, Whispering Angel Rosé 2018 This popular rosé is an interesting blend of different grapes from La Motte en Provence. A perfect bouquet of red fruits, peaches and blossom orange! A long finish with hints of tangy lemon. Something to delight your taste buds with exotic pairing! Recipes Roasted zucchini, corn and tomatoes tacos Spicy black bean tacos Smoky tofu tortilla
Unwinding in the Wind
2019 Vintage with Julien Sunier Just a few days ago, we were sitting on the deck of Julien Sunier’s beautiful house overlooking the village of Avenas in the heart of the Beaujolais cru. Julien has spent 10 years renovating this property, which he heats with logs, and plumbs from a spring well. Julien is committed to organic winemaking and lives as he works with a respect for nature and in pursuit of harmony. As we unwind together over a glass of Fleurie, he reflects on the 2019 vintage. “We are in the flowering period… the most vulnerable time for any winemaker as it will determine the volume of grapes we can harvest. “Today, you can feel this strong, warm southerly wind. We don’t like this kind of wind as it can mean a storm is coming. If that storm brings hail it can be very bad for the crop as it can damage the buds which will reduce the number of grapes the vines produce. “I’m in the vineyards at five in the morning and every day I can see the new growth. At this time of year, it can be as much as 50cm a week, so it means we must work very fast to tie the vines to keep them controlled and protected from the winds. “But… we do need the rain. It is very dry this year: the grass along the roadsides is yellow and brittle like straw. It is like the end of summer. So, in the next week some gentle rain would be very good for the crops. “If we had another year like 2018, that would be amazing. The conditions were so good: the best we’ve had in thirty years. We had lots of excellent quality fruit and this really shines through in the latest release.” We currently have a range of Julien Sunier wines in stock from the 2017 vintage - 2018s arriving later this year.
Breaking the £10 Barrier with Bacchus A few years ago, returning home from university and staring at the blank, terrifying canvas of career ambiguity that lay ahead of me, I decided to apply for the most sought after of Grad Schemes. Bar Work. I’d always been a keen home cook, passionate for the food and drink industry. Downtime in the restaurants would be spent at the pass with the Chef, discussing anything from the perfect searing time for a medium-rare steak, to the trendiest fruit to use in a salad (definitely still pomegranate). Since joining the Roberson family in March of this year, I have spent the last 3 months adjusting to an office lifestyle. Fortunately for me, I now have a good amount of overdue evening time to be selfish, reserved purely for doing the things I love. Like going to the supermarket, cooking tasty food from scratch, and washing it down with a glass of wine. My approach to wine has always been open-minded but limited by a distorted perception of what is value, never straying beyond £6 - £8 a bottle. So join me as I cross into the unknown territory of the double digit price tag. Let’s start close to home. And I mean literally. Just down the stairs from our office into London Cru. There’d been some buzz in the office about the Baker St Bacchus 2018. Many consider Bacchus to be England’s best grape for still wines - and this one is from England's so-called ‘Vintage of the Century’. “Aromas of Elderflower and gooseberry,” and “zingy acidity alongside luscious stone fruits in the mid-palate.” This looked like as good a place to start as any. So, I hurdled excitedly for the first time over the £10 fence. The ground underfoot remained steady. My mind raced on to the evening’s dinner. If four years’ worth of lunchbreaks picking the brains of chefs had taught me anything, it was that a Bacchus like this would be best enjoyed alongside fresh white fish. A hop and skip to the North End Road market that lunchtime flooded my mind with suggestions for the ideal cuisine to pair with this stunning English Bacchus. Light wines with zippy acidity and dynamite tropical fruits lean heavily toward Asian food, especially Thai. The complex blend of the sour, sweet, salty, and spicy, as well as bitter and aromatic mean the wine needs to have a sufficient personality to add to the chorus. There’d been a recipe I’d been dying to try for a while, a bit of a showstopper, and with some friends coming over, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a Thai feast. Crispy-Seabass with a sour fruit and peanut dressing – marinated overnight in Thai Red Curry paste and blitzed coriander stalks (scoring the flesh to allow the marinade to work its magic). Deep-fried whole, the skin blisters and becomes crispy with soft delicate flesh underneath. Topped with a delicious sweet, sour, salty dressing made up of fish sauce, lime juice, chunks of pink grapefruit, light muscovado sugar & sesame oil, chopped toasted peanuts and freshly torn mint and coriander. Served alongside an aubergine Red Curry, Jasmine rice and Thai beef salad with a seared sirloin. As we tucked in, a relative quietness developed around the dinner table, allowing for an introduction of the Baker St Bacchus as I poured our glasses. Had I opted for the usual £6 - £8 purchase, the wine would have been lost among the flavours on our plates and drowned by the dining table conversation. Instead, the Bacchus jumped around our mouths like an overexcited toddler at Disneyland, cutting through the ensemble of flavour and providing mouth-watering refreshment for the next mouthful. The only downside - the bottle was swiftly emptied, and I hadn’t bought two! Stay tuned for more of Max’s double-digit wine adventures.
Rosé Serving Temperature
At what temperature should you serve rosé? Devotees of Will Lyons’ Twitter feed will have followed a storm in a wine glass in recent days, as some on social media took issue with his Sunday Times article on rosé. Particular umbrage was taken by some who believed he had advised that rosé is best served “piercingly cold”, arguing that doing so strips a wine of its finer flavours and prevents enjoyment of its full complexity. But is there such a thing as a perfect temperature at which to serve rosé? Is it, for example, suited more to treatment as a light, Beaujolais-style red, which is delicious enjoyed after just half an hour in the fridge? Or should your bottle be mercilessly chilled to within a few degrees of absolute zero and kept between pouring in a bucket of liquid nitrogen? We’ve canvassed the opinions of three of Roberson’s most passionate rosé-drinking staff, each with their own expert take on the issue. The Ex-Sommelier Shana Dilworth is Roberson’s poacher turned gamekeeper, having worked previously as a sommelier at fine dining establishments including Orrery and Skylon. Here’s her foodie take on the rosé temperature issue: “The temperature you serve rosé at really depends on the setting. “If it’s a hot, sunny day and you’re enjoying a picnic, I think it’s absolutely fine to stick the bottle in an ice bucket and serve it well-chilled. “On the other hand, if it’s a Sunday evening and you’re serving rosé with food like a Tuna Niçoise salad, it really needs to be warmer to enjoy all the nuances of flavour. In this scenario, I’d treat the rosé like you would a light Beaujolais and serve at around 12°C. “Most white wines would typically be served at 7° - 9°, so it’s clearly quite a bit warmer.” The Winemaker Alex Hurley is Roberson’s in-house winemaker, responsible for making our London Cru wines, and had a major hand in production of our 2018 Rosaville Rd English Rosé. Unsurprisingly as a winemaker, he has a strong opinion: “Serve rosé too cold and you lose all the character. No wine fridge at optimal serving temperature would ever be set at 4 or 5 degrees, so why would you serve a rosé ice-cold? “Yes, very heavily chilled rosé is easy to drink and refreshing, but the flavour is completely subdued. Why even bother drinking wine? You might as well make a gin and tonic. “As winemakers we go to huge lengths to bring as much expression to your glass as possible. Chill a wine too much and you’re undoing all of our hard work! “Serve as you would a chilled red, at about 12° - 14°C.” The Buyer Keith Kirkpatrick is Roberson’s Head of Agencies and Buying, and has previously worked in restaurant wine sales. Here’s his view: “For me you drink rosé when you want the red fruit flavours of a red wine, but with the refreshment and easy-drinking character of a white. So why wouldn’t you serve it well-chilled? “I mainly drink rosé as a ‘getting-ready’ wine – when I’m cooking a meal or setting up the barbecue. I’m not looking for something that requires concentration. “I also love the south of France, and there’s nothing better than sitting on a sun-dappled lunch terrace with a plate of langoustines. But even then, the outside temperature means that you want the wine as cold as possible. “Treat your rosé like you would a refreshing white wine and don't take it too seriously.” So there you have it. Either chill your rosé, or don't. Treat rosé like a white wine, or don't. It's up to you.
California Vintage Update
This week Roberson Agency Buyer Keith Kirkpatrick hears from Jill Matthiasson about how the latest vintage in California is going. California Vintage 2018/2019 Jill Matthiasson: In the Napa Valley, we have a wet season and a dry season, and all of our rain comes in a 6-month period between November and May. Some years we get a lot of rain, some years we don’t. This year we got a lot. Now that the rainy season has ended and the weather has warmed up, everyone is hard at work in the vineyards. The shoots are growing like crazy; we are mowing down the waist-high cover crops and we have three tractors going non-stop. The crop looks excellent, lots of clusters on happy vines. We leased two more small Cabernet Vineyards, one on Mt. Veeder and one in Oak Knoll, so we will have more blending sources for our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quickly becoming our flagship wine. The Mt. Veeder vineyard is already CCOF certified organic, we will start farming the other new vineyard organically, and we finally convinced our last non-organic fruit-buying source to convert to organic, so we are very excited that for 2019 we will reach our goal of 100% organically farmed fruit! In other news, we opened our tasting room at our new winery, and are now welcoming visitors every day of the week. If you’re coming out this way any time soon… we’d love to show you around our new place. We made all of our wine in the new winery last year except our rosé, with all indigenous fermentations, and everything went great. We’re so happy to finally have the whole process, from farming through to winemaking, under our complete control. If you’re interested in seeing how this year’s wines might turn out, browse our range of Matthiasson wines now.
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