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Lona Jones, Events Ambassador and Sales Advisor at Roberson Wine, investigates wine's best kept secrets. Almost Famous Everyone likes a little insider knowledge; being privy to information only a select few have access to. Whether it’s knowledge of a gem of a local restaurant that’s currently under the food critics' radar or being tipped off about new talent bound for stardom. If you were a regular at the Northwood Hills Hotel in Pinner, Middlesex, in the early 60’s watching a budding 15-year-old singer/songwriter called ‘Reggie’, you were in the right place at the right time. Reginald Kenneth Dwight, to give him his full title, would later be catapulted to stardom with a name change and some stratospheric platform boots, as Elton John. In wine circles, undiscovered finds are often there if you scratch the surface or more accurately in this case, peer over the fence. Take Pauillac, for example. Drop the name of this famous Bordeaux commune into the conversation and it’s likely one of the area's three Premier Crus (First Growth) estates, will get a mention. From the 1600’s onwards, when Bordeaux wine started to be exported, Château Lafite, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild have been considered the most prestigious estates with the finest wines, in the region. After the 1855 ‘Classification of the Medoc’, this was etched in stone for eternity or until French law changes, whichever is first! If the top-notch prices commanded by Bordeaux’s premier elite are a little beyond your reach, take a short, 200m stroll south from Château Latour, (if you head north you’ll reach the second growth estate of Chateau Lynch-Bages), and you’ll find Chateau Gaudin. Sharing the same soils and climate as Chateau Latour, Chateau Gaudin produce similarly structured and robust Cabernet-dominated wines, possessing the potential to develop beautifully in bottle. They perfectly balance weight with finesse and show concentrated flavours of cassis and black plum, with hints of tobacco and sweet spice. Being labelled Pauillac AC, (as opposed to Premier Cru Classé like its A-lister neighbour), means you can knock at least one zero off the price, whilst still tasting wine made in one of the most expensive viticultural areas in the world. Chateau de Chambrun's Le Bourg' sits across La Barbanne river from the most famous, unclassified Chateau in the world, Petrus. Chateau de Chambrun happily benefits from the same ‘blue clay’ soils as its much-revered neighbour and taking full advantage, produces Merlot dominated wines that, when mature, show great depth with tertiary notes of coffee and earth overlayed with rich red plum and cherry flavours. If you've a sweet tooth, head over to Sauternes. Here, world famous Premier Cru Supérieur producer Chateau d’Yquem has been making exquisite botrytised dessert wines for four centuries. The d’Yquem vineyards encircle those of adjoining property, Chateau Lafon. Whilst not able to boast a prestigious classification and dating back from a mere 1867, Lafon are proud to be family-owned and produce lusciously sweet wines with aromas of honeyed apricot, creme brûlée, a glorious, textured mouthfeel and excellent acidity, descriptions often associated with the premium-priced wines from their immediate neighbour. Branching out from Bordeaux... Romaric Chavy is a young winemaker in Cotes de Beaune, Burgundy, who has inherited world class vineyards, two of which are Premier Cru standard and 40% within the famous appellation of Puligny Montrachet. He labels his wine by the regional AC Bourgone Blanc but Domaine Chavy Chouet "Les Femelottes" is closer in quality to Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru wines, at a fraction of the cost. It’s not just famous neighbours that are worth investigating - following the careers of renowned winemakers can also lead to some excellent new wines. Kevin Judd, widely acknowledged as the pioneering winemaker behind Marlborough’s signature style Sauvignon Blanc left Cloudy Bay after 25 years, to concentrate on his own winemaking venture, Greywacke, a vibrant, stylish wine from fruit sourced in prime sites across the central Wairau Plains and Southern Valleys. Tracking the provenance of grapes can also be fruitful (sorry!) Based in Rhone’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Romain Duvernay grows premium quality grapes that he previously used to supply to Etienne Guigal, for his famous Côtes du Rhône wines. Deciding they were too good to share, Romain now produces his own stunning wine. Checking closer to home can also reap rewards. London Cru, the first urban winery in London, opened in 2013. A policy of sourcing only the finest grapes from small producers across England and Europe, serendipitously brought them in contact with The Cordero Family, based in Piedmont, Northern Italy. Described as 'rock stars in the Italian winemaking world', father and daughter team, Gianfranco and Serena grow outstanding grapes which they supply to London Cru to make stunning, age-worthy Barbera, full of ripe red fruits with a punchy acidity and great structure. For the 2018 vintage London Cru is launching an English Sparkling Rosé, which you can taste at our October Open Cellar Door event or during our much anticipated Christmas tasting . You heard it here first! For more 'almost famous' wines, check out our collection now.
Cool Climate Classic
Our Consumer Sales and Events ambassador, Lona Jones muses over the changing fortunes of German Riesling. Riesling - A steep slope to stardom German wines made an impression on me in the 80’s, with sweet, easily quaffable Liebfraumilch, Piesporter Michelsberg and Blue Nun being the mainstay of enlightened neighbours' drinks cabinets. Times and tastes have moved on, however, but the negative image of low quality, sugary German wines appears slow to shake off. But, what are we missing? The Victorians valued German Hock wines as part of a holy trinity, alongside Claret and Champagne, and a Rudesheim Riesling was paired with poached salmon and mousseline sauce, in the first class dining room of the Titanic. Luckily, German wines and Rieslings, in particular, have been championed by influential wine critics like Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson for some time and at Roberson, we feel it’s high time to celebrate this fine grape. In July, we're focussing on 31 days of Riesling. My favourite styles are bone-dry ‘Trocken’ or GG ‘Great Growth’ (equivalent to Grand Crus in Germany). Dry Rieslings are naturally high in fruity acidity, without the harshness attached to some other high acid grapes. Aromatic and often low in alcohol, they ripen late so, in cool climates, can only attain optimal ripeness in the best positioned vineyards. Try our delicious Weingut Weschler Riesling Trocken as an example. Despite my initial introductions, I have tentatively re-visited off dry and sweet versions of Riesling and can honestly say, these wines are a world away from the bulk versions popularised last century. Kabinett styles show punchy acidity with a hint of residual sugar and are extremely refreshing. Auslese is made from hand picked ripe fruit. This style can be fermented dry or ‘Feinherb’ which means ripe and balanced with some sweetness - as with the Green Capsule Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese from Markus Molitor. More often these are big complex, sweet wines that can age for decades. Markus Molitor's Gold Capsule series Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese is amongst the best there is. Whatever your preferred style, there’s no better time to acquaint yourself with the delights the Rhine has to offer and indulge in cool-climate, quality wines.
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