Spring into action
Wondering what wines to pair with spring's seasonal ingredients? Roberson food and wine matching aficionado David Adamick makes some suggestions. Wine Pairings for Sp...
What's the connection between the Danish concept of 'hygge', wine and food? On-Trade Sales Manager David Adamick explains all. Drinking deeply Whenever ‘concept’ is mentioned in the wine world, one is inadvertently led back to the French ‘idea’ of ‘terroir’- something we’re regularly reminded cannot accurately be translated (the French: they insist on having a different word for everything). This month we’re doing it in Denmark - though the wine bit comes later - and the concept is ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ means the creation of a warm atmosphere, enjoying good things with good people. Cosiness, snuggling, the dim glow of candle light, reindeer stew in a pot hanging in a fireplace whilst the wintry elements rage outside… this is hygge. So already you can recognise the massive role wine can play in all this. And as such tucked-up settings naturally lend themselves to red wine, and that red wine naturally leads itself to meat, we’re off to an easy start. Let’s then consider ‘hygge’ as the orbit in which richer, more warming wines circle, some terrific new additions of which we’ll focus on here. What’s in season? In particular, venison, and our reds certainly need some heft here – no less when it’s stew or casserole. Deep gamey flavours, rich and weighty, Syrahs, Cabernets and the like immediately spring to mind, and indeed Roberson’s new seasonal collection presents some exceptional options. For example, how welcome is Malbec from other than you-know-where? Very. Step up Les Vignobles St. Didier Parnac’s Mission de Picpus Cahors, 2016, with its bitter, crunchy black fruit and sweet spice and violet nose; it’s an invigorating and fresh counterpoint to the rich gaminess of deer. Cleans up beautifully, and from what a great, long-lost appellation! Equally agreeable is Natacha Chave’s 2016 Domaine Aléofane St-Joseph, though a softer, 100% Syrah in this case. Also with a delicate violet nose, yet rounder, plummier fruit on the palate, it has classic Northern Rhone bitter, olive tapenade fruit with lovely nutmeg and cinnamon spice. Its velvety texture and breadth would happily meet a venison casserole half way. Then, one mustn’t overlook a classic Right Bank option and indeed the sheer value you can find in such satellite appellations as Lalande-de-Pomerol, where Chateau de Chambrun is quite ideal for a hygge fillet in mushroom sauce. Deep, dark, with black fruits on the nose; slightly minty; blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, silky tannins. 83%/17% Merlot/Cab Franc - the second varietal gives real zing and lift and does well to keep it fresh when up against the density and gamey flavours of the dish. Moving from cloven hooves to fowl feet, we are in October treated to pheasant. And wild mushrooms too can be very hygge. However, we should knock the reds’ weight back a few notches. Here we want more floral, ethereal wines - more red fruit and structure - and alpine wines fall right into place. This is to say from the Savoie region in eastern France, where André & Michel Quenard are in the fore for quality and value. A curious local varietal, Mondeuse, is de rigueur and offers that freshness and lighter, spiced fruit, that takes on fowl and wild fungal flavours beautifully. Equally so varietals such as Trousseau (from the not-so-far-off Jura), where Arnot-Roberts’s North Coast (California) expression is an absolute joy: pale, floral, sweet spice and gentle, juicy fruit really resonate in the log cabin. The Californian elegance continues apace at Jolie Laide, where their El Dorado Barsotti Vineyard Gamay offers similar. In truer tradition is Pinot Noir: Bergstrom’s Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley gives us more power and grip with beautiful earthiness, spicy red fruit and butterscotch on the nose, with a proper saline streak through vibrant red/earthy fruit on the palate. Utterly ideal with pheasant, fowl and fungus. Then, finally, to a Pinot that is gaining much interest: that of Germany. Rheinhessen, in the case of Carl Koch’s Spatburgunder, and this is surely Roberson’s best-value wine, at present. Leafy, crunchy red and black earthy fruit driven by a remarkable freshness, and an electric acidity driving from behind, it defies the common price ratio for German Pinots. Exceptional. Get these, get a corkscrew, get hygge. For more of our cosiest wines, check out our Wines with Hygge collection and save up to 25% during October.
On-Trade Sales Manager David Adamick investigates which wines match best with summer's seasonal flavours. You'll find all of the wines he recommends in our Savouring Summer Collection. Matching Summer's Seasonal ingredients with wine If you’d read my blog some months ago, you’ll recall my aversion to most, if not all things autumnal/hibernal and so will be relieved to learn that I’ve managed to emerge out the other end. Scathed, but still with the will to type. But what a bank holiday weekend that was. And on the assumption it’s put you in the mood also, here’s a seasonal food update on what you’ve got to look forward to: In-Season Ingredients: Veg: Asparagus New potatoes Lettuce Aubergine Radish Peas Cucumber Cheeses: Soft English cheeses Reblochon Bleu d’Auvergne Chablichou Fish/seafood: Crab Mackerel Halibut Tuna Salmon Meat: Pork Lamb The Wines: Given it’s still early season, produce is delicate, fresh and green, and therefore we’re looking for wines of a similar nature. These delicate wines also accompany easily crab and halibut, as their flesh is equally so. Here we’ll look for racy, vibrant green/yellow fruited wines such as Domaine des Cognettes, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie – all organically-farmed, hand-harvested fruit, with its invigorating aromas of green apple, sea air, fresh yoghurt and oyster shell; the palate is full of creamy minerality and saline briskness; elegant green fruit with good leesiness to add body and length. This is such an overlooked appellation when the wines are right, and they are certainly so when from this great, great producer. Graham Tatomer’s 2017 Steinhugel Riesling from the Santa Lucia Highlands is of biodynamically farmed fruit on predominantly slate soils also does well here – and easily. Fine-tuned, creamy minerality underpins some lovely, yellow and white stone fruit, and always with the ‘old-world’ structure Graham insists upon. Similarly, zippy rosés are more than appropriate and no less so when in fizz form: 2017 Domaine J Laurens Crémant de Limoux Rosé is both a new addition to Roberson and an indispensable option for the season ahead. The Limoux region’s calcareous soils are ideal for Chardonnay, making up most of the assemblage, with 20% Pinot Noir for colour, red fruit, white pepper and body. Up the ante then, with Chris Brockway’s 2017 Love Rosé: an unusual and fascinating co-ferment of mostly Valdigué (once known as ‘Napa Gamay’) with small percentages of Zinfandel and Trousseau. High aromatics of watermelon and grapefruit with Zinfandel spice and a slightly waxy texture from the Trousseau. And though it weighs in at a mere 11% alcohol, Love Rosé’s acidity, spice and body will have it stand up to heavier, oilier fish as mackerel and tuna. Equally suited and from the eastern face of Mount Etna, Sicily, is a wonderful rosato blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from Cantine Murgo. Its brilliant, Provençale hue is of a properly dry rosé with lots of savoury red, pomegranate/currant fruit and white pepper. Absolutely perfect with ALL the above. Pork and lamb are quite simply at their best this time of year, and to keep things in line with the season’s produce we’ll stick with fresher styled reds: Jean-Paul Thevenet’s Morgon ‘Tradition’, Tatomer’s Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir and Chateau de la Bonnelière’s Chinon all have the structure, mineral core to drive their restrained fruit; no problem at all, either, to put on in the fridge for 25 minutes before serving as this will bring out that acidity just a little more to clean up fattier red meats as the aforementioned. Finally, though lamb dishes will go easily with just about any red wine, its added weight and oiliness tends to prefer a bit more guts in a red – though always wanting that acidity to keep the palate in shape. For this Domaine Maubernard’s 2013 Bandol is a perfect ticket: mainly Mourvèdre with a bit of Grenache, it is full bodied, spicy and big, but with lots and lots of minerality and structure to keep things on an even keel. Bags of dark, savoury, bitter/black fruit; a slight edginess that is wonderfully rustic and with a natural affinity to lamb. Given the small size and output of the appellation, the wines of Bandol are generally on the pricier side which is why we’ve chosen Domaine Maubernard as one of the best estates we’ve come across in a long time. Happy matching!
Wine Pairings for Spring Flavours
Matching Californian wines with the Spring Table As sure as eggs is eggs, I’m once again putting them all in the wines-of-California basket, and placing that firmly by the season’s cornucopia, in which you’ll find: Meat: spring lamb, venison, pigeon Fish: cod, mussels, oysters, salmon, halibut Cheeses: Sainte Maure, Valençay, Selles Sur Cher, Brie de Meaux, Brie de Melun, mature (12 Month+) artisan cheddars Veg: Beetroot, leeks, Savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, kale, parsnips, celeriac, cauliflower Wine line-up: 2016 Tatomer, Meeresboden Gruner Veltliner, Santa Barbara County 2015 Arnot-Roberts, Watson Ranch Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2016 Matthiasson, Linda Vista Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2015 Sandhi, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2015 Kutch, Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016 Broc Cellars, Vine Star Zinfandel, Sonoma County 2016 Vinca Minor, Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz Mountains 2014 Matthiasson, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 Arnot-Roberts, Sonoma Syrah Here I’ve lined up some key Roberson Californian wines to go the distance, whose elegance and structure will invigorate. Starting with the whites, let’s hit the cheeseboard: Vanlençay/Selles Sur Cher/Sainte Maure are all Loire Valley goat’s cheeses and amongst several now in season. As their fresh, citric, salty and acidic natures will require something to meet on terms, we want something with a bit of steel, zip and backbone with minerally, citrus fruit. Step forward Graham Tatomer’s Meeresboden Gruner Veltliner and Steve Matthiasson’s Linda Vista Chardonnay: both with laser focus and precision (the latter toward the Chablisien); delicate, chiselled green, yellow and apple fruit with remarkable length. For the richer, weightier dairy options such as Brie de Meaux/de Melun and artisanal cheddars, we’ll want similarity in our whites, where Chardonnay springs easily to mind. Matthiasson’s Linda Vista still has the stuff to take on creamier fare and you can move seamlessly to Arnot-Roberts Watson Ranch as it offers a bit more texture and weight but still with the brisk and lively current of acidity to keep the palate in top shape. To progress the fruit and richness we move to Sandhi’s Santa Barbara Chardonnay, offering a bit more by the way of stone fruit and spice; the higher degree of malolactic takes up the brie in easy harmony. Equally easy are all four whites with the seasonal seafood and fish with the Tatomer and Matthiasson being to the shellfish what they are to the Loire cheeses: perfectly resonant. As cod and salmon are fleshier, best keep to the Sandhi but again, you can chop and change any combination and pretty much come out a winner. For meat it’s a no-brainer: lamb loves all red wine, though some more than others. To lamb’s inherent fattiness, our Californians offer that structural edge, both cleansing the palate and enhancing the flavours with clean, articulated fruit and heightened acidity. Jamie Kutch’s Sonoma Coast Pinot is first in line here with bright, savoury, spiced cherry fruit; freshness, precision and depth; the acidity cuts easily through fat and cleans up neatly. Perhaps a touch delicate for something like venison, red fruit like this does make a beautiful combination with squab, also in season. Reach for the Syrahs and Cab Sauvs, then, when confronting the deer, and our latest addition Vinca Minor of Santa Cruz Mountains offers all the classic notes of elegant Cab: black currant, mint, cedar, cigar box, with Steve Matthiasson’s Napa Valley expression an equally ideal option, offering slightly darker fruits and spice, but both with that briskness that keeps the appetite ticking over. Chris Brockway’s Vine Star Zinfandel weighs in somewhere between the Pinot and the Cabs, though given its floral, lifted sweet spice and red-fruit profile, it would ally better with the Kutch. ‘The pretty side of Zin’, as Chris puts it. Quite! All this leaves us with the crowning glory of Arnot-Roberts’ Sonoma Coast Syrah on the lamb. Here is fresh damson/plum fruit with the crucial attributes of olive tapenade, cured meat, wild herb and violet; firm tannins and that cool-climate structure, it can’t get much better. It also can’t get much easier to explore the affinity Roberson’s California offer has with Old World gastronomic regionality and in time for one of the calendar’s most festive – and digestive – seasons.
The Great Game
Matching wines with the flavours of the new season As loathe as I am to admit it, autumn is coming. You may have noticed also. It’s been coming since about 28 July, as I make it. And by mid-August I was reminded almost daily of that cruel, soul-corroding British ‘joke’ about ‘summer falling on a Wednesday this year’. Ha ha. It’s inevitable. So what else to do but drink well and therefore happily, and happily the silver lining comes in the form of wonderful autumnal game offerings to help do so: grouse, guinea fowl, venison, wood pigeon, partridge, rabbit… wild mushroom. Here are autumnal flavours for the taking, with not-so-little help from those reds which have the guts, acidity and structure to stand up to the deeper, earthy and nuttier glories of the season. But let’s for a moment resist the Pinot Noir default reflex and look further afield: Nerello Mascalese from Sicily. Cantine Murgo’s 2015 Etna Rosso has wonderfully fresh acidity and nice sweet/savoury, zippy and spicy red fruit flavours and also fits in where a good Gamay would. Grown on Etna’s volcanic soils and aged 8 months in the traditional chestnut, just about any fowl will be game with Le Cantine’s cuvée. Get some ceps, chanterelles or porcini involved and things get really exciting. Moving along the spectrum of flavour we get darker power with wood pigeon and wild boar. Accordingly, things should get weightier with the reds, though with a need to keep that acidity up - Sangiovese being the easy option. But let’s again go off-piste to the curious little Catalonian appellation Costers del Segre (no, I’d not heard of it either). Real freshness and depth to be found in Costers del Sió’s 2014 ‘Les Creus’, an invigorating blend of Tempranillo and Grenache (85% / 15%) giving enough weight and brightness to balance all elements. Red berries, spice, earthy minerality and cleanly finishing off any lingering gaminess. This is right. Finally, the end game (sorry, I’m almost done) is venison. Big, bold, rich… and though Napa Cab with deer may not be so uncommon, an affordable and fresh expression of the former often is. 2015 Hunt & Harvest Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is black, sweet, deep and supple but with that green pepper typicity to give life and verve to what can sometimes be a cloying experience for the palate when getting through such-sized elements. I return again to acidity and structure: they are here as they must be and all helped along with a wee bit of Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot in the mix. Weighty, fully-flavoured, refined tannin & freshness, H&H cleans up and redeems beautifully a seasonal culinary experience. Get on with it, autumn.
Old Rioja Walkabout
Thursday night of last week saw once again an outstanding show of properly aged, traditional wares at Roberson, High Street Kensington: Cune, Muga, La Rioja Alta, Marques de Murrieta, Marques de Riscal, Marques de Caceras and various one-offs spanning from mid-50s to early-80s. These revealed not only the magic with which the decades can imbue properly made wine, but indeed, in the case of traditional Rioja, how differently the wine was once made. For those of us used to what we term ‘modern Rioja’ – a stylistic trend spawned in the mid 90s – the tasting event’s stars were the products not of new French oak, single site fruit, low yield/high alcohol, full-bodied, brooding dark fruit. Instead they were of used American oak, more inclusive varietal blending (more Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuelo) and blending of vineyards spanning in some cases hundreds of hectares. That traditional Rioja was in fact made and expected to age 20-40 years is case and point; indeed after decades of such ageing the results were revealed to all in an ethereal, almost evasive, perfumed red fruit nuanced by notes of leather, tobacco leaf and fig of varying degrees. Vintage-wise, the general consensus seemed to be particularly behind the ’69′ ’70 and ’75 vintages as well as with Riscal’s outstanding ’82 – all still displaying an amazing vigour and freshness despite their age. It was certainly not Rioja as most had ever known it and this became an evident joy as the evening wore on.
A Bergström Supper
Last week, Josh Bergström from Bergström Winery in Oregon, came to London to spend a few days with Roberson to showcase his wines, that are increasingly gaining international acclaim. As well as doing a tasting at our shop, one of the highlights of his visit was a meal at Galvin La Chapelle, where all the food was matched with Bergström wines. The menu consisted of cured Loch Duart salmon with fennel, avocado & ruby grapefruit; seared presa Iberica pork shoulder, white polenta & asparagus and an excellent cheeseboard to finish the meal. All the food was elegantly lifted to even greater gastronomic heights by Josh’s Cuvées- we drank the ‘Old Stones‘ and ‘Sigrid’ Chardonnays 2010/2011 and ‘Cumberland Reserve‘, ‘Shea Vineyard‘ ‘De Lancellotti Vineyard‘ and ‘Bergström Vineyard’ Pinot Noirs. Josh was of course with us every step of the way, sharing the intimate and profound technical knowledge of his truly delicious craft, all supported by some stimulating narrative. Not only is Oregon one to watch, but more so the beacon of wine-making finesse, elegance and identity that is Josh Bergström.
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