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Roberson Team Christmas Picks!
The lights are lit on Oxford Street, people are walking down the road with big trees on their shoulders, and the first doors of the advent calendar are open. Christmas time is officially upon us, and after all the doom and gloom this year has brought, it is definitely time for a hefty amount of festive cheer. At Roberson we are working away like elves in the workshop, making sure all your orders are ready and on their way for this magical time of year. We asked our team to weigh in and share their top bottles of the festive period. Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift, or something special to open on the big day, our expert drinkers have some top suggestions to fit the bill. Daniela Pimentel - Digital Retail Assistant Every year I find myself thinking of a special wine to have at my Christmas table, to enjoy with the family. So many great choices, how can I pick only one?! But well, I have to, and I have to make sure the one I pick will be remembered. After considering all the options, I’ve opted for Smith-Madrone, Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. I love a wine that, besides being delicious, has a story to tell. 2015 was an unusually small vintage, the winemakers and teams had to work harder to ensure every bit of good fruit was picked, and the result was a beautiful wine of effortless elegance, packed with flavour, well integrated tannins, distinctive and complex which we can enjoy now or keep for a few more years. Max Edge - Operations Manager I love the crisp fresh flavours of citrus and pear that this wine showcases balanced with a saline minerality synonymous with Domaine Schaller's Chablis. The wine is incredibly versatile with food and is often found in my fridge door. Enjoy a glass with your Christmas lunch appetisers or make the perfect pairing with winter favourites like moules marinières or fish pie. Simon Huntington - Commercial Director Turkey might ordinarily call for a buttery white like a Burgundy or Californian Chardonnay, yet with all the Christmas trimmings, I find a red tends to work better. Line up some pigs in blankets, a rich gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce, and you'll love the juiciness and vibrant red fruit of London Cru's 2019 Pinot Noir Précoce. Précoce is a strain of Pinot Noir that ripens early, while still bringing gorgeously ripe, silky fruit - so it's perfect for our cooler climate. We may be stuck in the UK this Christmas - so let's make the best of things with our amazing local produce. Keith Kirkpatrick - Buyer Tasting hundreds of wines every year, it’s hard to remember all the highlights when putting together the mixed case for Christmas. But for me, Maxime Magnon’s 2018‘Le Bégou’ is always the first wine on the list. A wine that truly made me sit up, say wow and enjoy the rush of goosebumps the first time I tasted it. Grenache Gris and Blanc are probably not the first 2 grapes you think of when considering Christmas lunch, however, you may want textured but mineral and saline, complex and fresh, voluminous yet elegant, precise and long. La Bégou is all these things and more, every glass makes me happy, and it comes with the added benefit that you could pop open a magnum for the same price as a bottle of half decent 1er Cru Burgundy. Patrick Robinson - Fine Wine Sales For me half the excitement of the Christmas period is Boxing day lunch, the extended family round the table tucking into leftover turkey and ham. For wine it is a day where value is often needed, but that doesn’t mean compromising on quality. A fresh fruity Bourgogne Rouge ticks all the boxes - wine chock full of crunchy black fruit flavours. The 2018 La Taupe from Domaine Chavy Chouet delivers this in spades, its everything I would want from a Bourgogne Rouge. Perfect! Happy Drinking!
London Cru 2019 Decanter Scores
The Decanter scores are in, and London Cru's 2019 vintage is officially its best yet. Here is the full rundown of scores, from Julie Sheppard, for the latest release. London Cru, Baker Street Bacchus, England, 2019 - 93 POINTS 'This elegant, gastronomic wine shows what can be achieved with English Bacchus in the right hands. Australian winemaker Alex Hurley uses grapes from West Sussex and produces this limited-quantity label (3,000 bottles) at the boutique London Cru winery - the capital's first urban winery. Fresh and appealing Sauvignon-like nose, with lime, gooseberry, herbal and grassy notes. Judicious oak use (23% of the wine spends seven months in used premier cru Burgundy barrels) adds a delightful creaminess to the palate, well balanced by fresh acidity, plus notes of citrus interwoven with passionfruit, fresh pineapple and subtle elderflower. Ends with a crisp grapefruit bite.' London Cru, Pimlico Road Pinot Noir Précoce, England, 2019 - 91 POINTS 'Précoce is an early-ripening type of Pinot Noir, well-suited to the British climate. Made at London Cru urban winery, using grapes grown in West Sussex, this dangerously drinkable light-bodied red can be served chilled. Attractive red and black berry aromas leap out of the glass, followed by a juicy palate with raspberry, cherry and blueberry fruit, plus soft tannins and a fresh cranberry crunch. Well judged oak (seven months in old Burgundy barrels) provides structure and adds spice to the lingering, fruity finish.' London Cru, Petticoat Lane Pinot Gris PetNat, England, 2019 - 90 POINTS Made in London's first urban winery with grapes grown in West Sussex, this funky PetNat has vigorous bubbles and crisp acid. Bottled with its lees, so if you keep it for three to five years it will evolve in the bottle, developing more bready, yeasty notes. Apple and yeasty farmyard aromas. The palate is crisp and fresh, with high natural acidity, notes of citrus and green apple. Only 200 bottles made. This vintage was the first entirely in the hands, and vision, of winemaker Alex Hurley. Alex has used his extensive experience and knowledge to make some innovative, and delicious, English wines that are both exciting and unique. Production for 2019 was considerably smaller than previous years at London Cru, but as these scores show the quality has never been better. With the 2020 vintage just around the corner, we are so excited to see what else Alex has up his sleeve, and enjoy the amazing English wines he will undoubtedly continue producing for London Cru.
Second Wines, Not Second Best
What is a second wine? The 'second wine' concept originates in Bordeaux, where as well as the 'Grand Vin', many estates will also make an additional cuvée with fruit from less mature vines, typically in a way that allows for drinking without any need for extended ageing in the cellar. Oftentimes these wines are lighter, and more fruit driven, easier and earlier drinking in addition to being generally great value. So what do you want to do with your wine? Do you want to drink it now or lay it down for 10 years before it is approachable? Do you want to blow the holiday budget on one bottle or keep it and buy something with similar flavours, but a far more reasonable price tag? In the interests of research for our customers (I know, tough gig), we tasted three amazing examples of second wines this week, with the visit of Cécile Cazard, who represents Chanel-owned estates, Chateau Rauzan-Ségla & Chateau Canon. You know when you are tasting vintage claret at 09:45 am that you have started the day on the right footing. Croix Canon Croix Canon is the second wine of Château Canon, located in St-Émilion on the right-bank of the Gironde. Rather wonderfully, Chateau Canon was purchased in 1760 by Jacques Kanon who earned his fortune as a ‘privateer’, a polite way of saying pirate in those days. The Fournier family managed the estate from 1919 until it was sold in 1996 to Alain Wertheimer and Gerard Wertheimer, the owners of the famous luxury goods manufacturer Chanel, who had previously purchased Château Rauzan-Ségla in 1994. While Rauzan-Ségla’s and Canon’s first wines continue to fetch staggering prices, in part driven by their investment-grade status, there is amazing value to be had in their second wines. Croix Canon 2014 First up was Croix Canon 2014. This was a classic vintage across Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion, which reaped the benefits of an Indian summer that kicked into action in late August and continued through September and October. The resulting wine has a wonderful purity of fruit and a long finish to match. As with most right-bank estates, the dominant grape here is Merlot. One of the most surprising things we learned was that contrary to conventional food matching, Cécile recommended having a tasty white fish with the Croix Canon, for example a meaty fillet of grilled hake. Ségla Ségla is the second wine from the Château Rauzan-Ségla estate, located within the Margaux appellation on the left-bank. The château was managed by John Kolasa, who was also in charge of Château Canon until late 2014. The history of the estate dates back to 1661. Thomas Jefferson ordered 10 cases of Rauzan-Ségla after visiting Bordeaux in 1787. Ségla 2011 The 2011 vintage was marked by a warm spring and a cool summer, which suited the sandier soils of Margaux. The wine has intense aromas of black fruits and blueberries, integrated with subtle notes of vanilla. And the blend is predominantly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc thrown in for good measure. Cécile also suggested an unusual pairing for this wine. After allowing some time for the wine to breathe, she said that it would match excellently with some Indian cuisine. Ségla 2009 To round off a superb morning tasting, Cécile poured us the 2009 vintage from Ségla. Following a difficult winter, the spring, summer and autumn were ideal a decade ago in Bordeaux. The wine was noted for its elegance and silky tannins. While it is drinking very well right now, this is a wine that still has plenty of fine years ahead! We don’t know about you, but we are dying to put these food pairing suggestions to the test. We shall report back tout suite!
Celebrate and Win
Celebrate our 10th birthday and win a magnum of 2003 La Réserve de Léoville-Barton RobersonWine.com turned 10 years old on Monday 10th September. It's been a great ten years, and as part of our celebration, we're giving away magnums of the first wine we ever sold online, La Réserve de Léoville-Barton 2003, every week for the rest of September. The 2003 magnums have only become better with age (just like us...) - and this superb Bordeaux is drinking beautifully now. To be in with a chance of winning, place an order through the Roberson website, and you'll be automatically entered into the draw for that week. If you don't win that week, don't worry, simply place another order any other week during September and you'll have another chance to win. Good luck!
Celebrating English Chardonnay
Liz Sagues, author of A Celebration of English Wine (Robert Hale, 2018), investigates the growing success of English Chardonnay English Chardonnay - Something to Celebrate? English Chardonnay: what a world away, in flavour as well as distance, from the gold-hued, oaky, vanilla-sweet examples that gave the grape such a bad reputation, prompted the ABC (anything but Chardonnay) movement and still influence those wine drinkers who have never realised that Chablis is made from Chardonnay. And Chablis is so much better a comparison for English Chardonnay than wines from hotter vineyards. Our home product isn't truly Chablis-like, even though some who make it hint at that. But it does share some characteristics, with a properly British individuality – after all, there can be very considerable similarity in the soils into which the vine roots dig. While English Chardonnay has the crispness of the French classic, there isn't yet the same stony minerality, and the scents and flavours more often evoke the flowers of hedgerow and meadow than tropical fruits. As befits so young an introduction, styles vary a lot, from the very light and almost tart to denser, riper wines. Oak rarely appears – generally, unless the cellar skill is very high, a good thing with such delicate raw material. Older vines, and a little more maturity before wines are sold, will surely raise the 'wow' level soon. Quite rightly, Chardonnay is called the chameleon grape, and England will as the years progress add more colours to the existing spectrum, though they will surely remain bright and fresh. To put the present story in context, a little history is relevant. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are now by far the most-planted grape varieties in England, a massive switch from the late 20th century, when Müller-Thurgau, Reichensteiner and Seyval Blanc filled the vineyards and the noble varieties were rare. But they were there: Sir Guy Salisbury Jones, the man who revived English commercial viticulture after WWII with his 1950s Hambledon vineyard, had Chardonnay vines. Ripening was a problem, though. Pathé filmmakers recording the 1972 harvest thought the berries were 'too small and too green'; Chris Foss, head of the pioneering wine department at Plumpton College, felt much the same about other plantings a decade later: 'Chardonnay berries were like frozen peas'. The revolution in vine choice has come about for two reasons. One is that noble varieties now ripen properly most years in England, because of the gentle rise in summer temperatures (global warming is less welcome for the weather variability and violence it also brings). The other, probably more influential, is the success of English sparkling wine, where the vast majority of Chardonnay grapes end up. Fizz needs acid, and England's grapes have that. But the increasing, and increasingly good, examples of still Chardonnay are proving that the destination should not always be sparkling. A good number of new entrants release still Chardonnay while waiting for their sparkling wine to be ready for the market – it makes budget sense. There are, though, going to be more and more producers for whom still wine is most important, and significant figures favour Chardonnay. London Cru's 2017 Chancery Lane English Chardonnay is on sale now at £18 per bottle.
Longing for l'Apero
Purchasing Assistant Marion shares her favourite tradition. I love pubs in the UK. There is nothing like them in France, but I have to admit, I sometimes get a bit nostalgic about the “aperos” we do in my country. An apero is basically a pre-dinner drink that very often, evolves into the dinner itself. Like having a pint and crisps in the pub, we meet up with friends in a bistro or at home and enjoy wine and finger foods. For these occasions, I always go for a good rosé and it is usually the first bottle to be emptied! With our current rosé focus sale, there are plenty of ways to match your wine for l’apero: M de Minuty, Château Minuty The fresh acidity and delicate fruits are so versatile, that you can pair Minuty with almost anything. For a quick apero, just match it with stuffed olives and mixed nuts like pistachios, cashews, almonds, peanuts… so simple! Rose et Or, Château Minuty More expressive than M de Minuty, with grapefruit notes and white peach. The Rose et Or is great with a charcuterie board (saucisson, jambon cru, pate en croute…) as its acidity will balance out the fattiness of the meat. Whispering Angel, Château d'Esclans In the same style of Minuty, Whispering Angel is also a dry Provence rosé made by Sacha Lichine, who has become famous for making Provence’s most expensive rosé wine: Garrus. Whispering Angel is expressive, slightly sweeter on the palate, with notes of strawberries and raspberries. This wine would be heavenly with fresh goat’s cheese, rosemary and honey toasts, and a bowl of cherry tomatoes. Cremant de Limoux Rosé J Laurens, N7 Sparkling wine is also great for apero and it is a shame to keep it for dessert only! The sweetness and creaminess of the bubbles call for melon and prosciutto wraps, or watermelon and feta slices with a drop of balsamic vinegar. For all these wines, make sure to chill them before serving, but don’t freeze them otherwise all the subtle aromas won’t develop in your glass. Bonne santé!
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