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...
Making the most of the new drinking guidelines
When I heard that the government were revising their recommended drinking limits, my first thought was, ‘At last! They’ve been far too low for far too long.’ But before I could crack open a celebtatory magnum of gin, it became clear that, on the contrary, they were proposing to lower them. The last set of guidelines were published in 1995, when I was fourteen. Naturally, along with the rest of you, I immediately embarked upon a regime of consuming alcohol at a rate of four units per day, just to be on the safe side. Now, twenty years later, I discover that not only will I have to cut that back to two units, but all this time I have been unwittingly drinking double the maximum. On reading this news, I immediately began to feel unwell. Visions of some of my more debauched evenings rose in vivid, ghastly detail before me. Why? Why? Why had I drunk that third small glass of wine on my 21st birthday? But that wasn’t the worst of it. Not only had the weekly limit been reduced, but a handy loophole - wherein you could store up your daily allowance for special occasions - had been closed. Apparently, the government had discovered that heavy drinking sessions increase the risk of accidents and injury, and, frankly, they didn’t much like it. Although the advised limit is now seven small (175ml) glasses of weak (11.5%) wine every seven days, the guidelines are at pains to emphasise how generous that allowance is, because actually 'there is no safe limit'. In other words, if you absolutely insist on doing yourself in with a daily schooner of underripe Riesling, don’t say we didn’t warn you when you’re discovered drowned at the age of 35, face down in a bowl of punch in the corner of Trader Vic’s. I must say, I found that thought quite alarming, until I read the details of how the limit was arrived at over on the BBC website. It seems that if you drink your 14 units of alcohol every seven days, there is approximately a 1% chance that you will die from an alcohol-related disease at some point in the future. It's apparently less risky than such daredevil weekly activities as eating more than two bacon sandwiches, or watching more than an hour of TV. I’m neither a doctor nor financially geared for an expensive lawsuit, so I’m absolutely not going to advise you to ignore these guidelines, or say that reducing your alcohol intake isn’t a good idea. What I will say though, is that if you are cutting back on your consumption, let's say by half, then this represents a golden opportunity for you to drink better wine. Two bottles of £5 wine are not only worse for you than one bottle of £10 wine, they are also less than half as nice. And if you choose quality, you might well discover that great wine is one of the things that makes life worth living in the first place.
English fizz beats Champagne in blind tasting
You've probably read a lot about English sparkling wine and the challenge it poses to Champagne, but if you are still in any doubt - here's the proof. In September our friends at wine magazine Noble Rot organised one of the most rigorous contests between these wines to date. A panel of genuine experts including sommeliers, wine writers like Jancis Robinson and Neal Martin, and chefs like Stephen Harris (The Sportsman) and Mikael Jonsson (Hedone) tasted ten wines blind. Six were famous Champagnes (a mix of growers and grandes marques), four were their English challengers. When the scores were tallied up, the panel's top two wines were both English. And the clear winner was Hambledon. Hambledon's classic cuvée is made from the traditional Champagne grape varieties by head winemaker Hervé Jestin (formerly of Champagne house Duval-Leroy). The grapes are grown on Windmill Down in Hampshire, part of the same chalk ridge that runs through the Champagne region. So grapes, winemaker and soil are as close as you can get to Champagne without actually being there. And yes, the wine does taste like a very good Champagne, but it also has something a bit different about it - a really tart, fresh and racy acidity, balanced by lots of fruit. English sparkling wine is already a serious alternative to Champagne, and it's only getting better. As that continues, it will be fascinating to see not just how good these wines can get at imitating Champagne, but what they can do to set themselves apart.
G is for Gluttony
If anything can make you feel better about overindulging in wine at Christmas, it's writing like this by M.F.K. Fisher. “Perhaps the nearest I come to gluttony is with wine. As often as possible, when a really beautiful bottle is before me, I drink all I can of it, even when I know that I have had more than I want physically. That is gluttonous. But I think to myself, when again will I have this taste upon my tongue? Where else in the world is there just such wine as this, with just this bouquet, at just this heat, in just this crystal cup? And when again will I be alive to it as I am this very minute, sitting here on a green hillside above the sea, or here in this dim, murmuring, richly odorous restaurant, or here in this fishermen's café on the wharf? More, more, I think - all of it, to the last exquisite drop, for there is no satiety for me, nor ever has been, in such drinking.” M.F.K. Fisher, 'G is for Gluttony', 1949
Our top four bestselling Christmas wines
Here at Roberson, we love to talk about the latest wines from the hottest undiscovered regions, but there are some wines that are so good, we go back to them year after year. Here are the four top-selling Roberson wines from last Christmas - all superb for Christmas drinking and recommended by the experts. And what's more, they're all part of our Christmas offers with special prices until the end of the month. 4. Chavy-Chouet's Bourgogne Blanc, 'Les Femelottes' At number four, it's the Bourgogne Blanc that thinks it’s a Puligny-Montrachet. Single-vineyard Burgundy from a brilliant producer. Wine writer Matthew Jukes reckons this tastes like it costs £30 and we agree. It's amazing, and it's now £12.99, reduced from £16. Buy it here 3. Moobuzz's Monterey Pinot Noir Moobuzz Pinot Noir, the most popular wine in our New USA range, has returned with a new label, and is 15% off - just £12.75 reduced from £15. Juicy, exuberant and with an easy-going Moneterey elegance - this is easy-drinking and absolutely delicious. No wonder it's number three in our bestselling Christmas wine list. Buy it here 2. J. Laurens' Crémant de Limoux Unbelievable quality for £11.99, reduced from £15, this is the best sparkling wine we’ve ever tasted that isn’t Champagne at £30+. This has been many a wine journalist’s top Christmas pick for years and it's number two in our list. Buy it here 1. Château Sénéjac's 2006 And finally, our bestselling Christmas wine - Sénéjac 2006. This was given a rave review by Jancis Robinson in the FT that it fully deserves. Incredible value for a classic left-bank Bordeaux to drink now or keep. Just £16.99 reduced from £20. Buy it here
A Christmas Portrait
The first couple of doors on the advent calendar are now officially open, so we thought today would be a good day to share with you our first annual company photo. Expertly taken by Ian from off-trade - sorry, I mean the team at Ian Stirling Photography (slogan: 'Every. Moment. Captured.') - this beautiful image will shortly be winging its way to your door (possibly) in the form of a Christmas card. Framed copies may be available on request and if so would make a wonderful Christmas gift for any wine lover. Notice the tanks in the background - that's our sister company, London Cru - the capital's first urban winery. Check it out. In other Christmas news - can it really be five years since Cliff released his Christmas single - a rap about his life in the wine industry? Indeed it can. If you've never heard it before, right click this link and save it to your desktop now.
The Michelin Star Wine List
It may be beyond most of us to prepare a passable 'Ravioli of lobster, langoustine and salmon poached in a light bisque with oxalis and wood sorrel', but there's one part of the Michelin Star dining experience that we can all enjoy at home - the wine. Our restaurant team supply the country's finest restaurants with the wines they serve every day. We asked some of their sommeliers to pick the wines they'll be drinking this Christmas. Andrea Bricarello 'This Barolo from Aldo Conterno is an amazing expression of Monforte’s Nebbiolo; typical notes of ripe plums, dark cherries and undertones of roses and truffles. Earthy with firm tannins, it’s the perfect wine to celebrate the festive season.' Andrea Bricarello, Head Sommelier, Galvin la Chapelle Andrea Domenicucci 'The Asili vineyard in Barbaresco is known for the elegance, finesse and astonishing beauty of its wines. With time, the wines take on a rare personality and charm. This masterful example of Asili has been made by Bruno Giacosa since 1967.' Andrea Domenicucci, Head Sommelier, Whatley Manor Benoit Allauzen 'The festive season is synonymous with Champagne, and if I had to choose just one of them it would be the 2002 Brut by Artéis. The packaging is a classy black and gold. Disgorgement is quite recent so the wine is beautifully mature. Notes of dried figs, honey and biscuit; round and powerful; structured and elegant; long and lingering finish with plenty of nutty and buttery flavours. The perfect companion to wintery dishes and Christmas pudding - quite simply, a truly gastronomic Champagne.' Benoit Allauzen, South Place Hotel Brad Pace 'I love the Domaine de la Cote wines. They bring Burgundy and California (my favourite regions) together is the most delicious way - smooth Pinot with velvety fruit and very well integrated oak. They are truly beautiful, well made wines - so much so that Bloom’s Field will be up there on my table with the turkey and pot of cranberry sauce this Christmas.' Brad Pace, Sommelier, Purnell's Guillaume Kaczmar 'Les Folatières is a 1er Cru of Puligny-Montrachet located on the same level of altitude and just a couple of hundred yards away from Montrachet Grand Cru. This very famous plot of mature vines gives Chardonnay of outstanding quality - elegant and generous. Domaine Chavy-Chouet's wine has delicious hints of honey and stone fruit, combined with a zesty, spicy touch - an elegant invitation to taste. It feels soft, with a creamy texture and a zesty finish, long, harmonious and lively. A real treat and a perfect pairing with the finest fish courses.' Guillaume Kaczmar, Head Sommelier, L'Ortolan Laurent Richet 'The wine I’ll be pouring on Christmas day is the Muscadet sur lie from Domaine des Cognettes. In France it is customary to enjoy platters of oysters at Christmas, and Muscadet is the perfect pairing. The intense minerality works magic with the seawater flavours, and the bracing acidity balances the acidity of the shallot and vinegar sauce we serve alongside it. This is what Christmas is all about for me – beautiful food and wine pairings shared with friends.' Laurent Richet, Master Sommelier, Restaurant Sat Bains Patrick Frawley 'One question all sommeliers are asked on a daily basis is 'what is your favourite wine?' which is somewhat like asking a parent which is their favourite child. This, however, is an easy question for me to answer: Champagne. I love Champagne. It is the great equaliser when it comes to the world of wine. You can know nothing about wine or be a Master Sommelier, but everyone enjoys a good glass of bubbles, and few make them better than Gosset. I love to start the Christmas celebration with good friends with a bottle of their NV Grande Réserve. Chardonnay leads the flavour profile, producing a full but rounded wine, perfect as an aperitif or to enjoy with canapés. Salmon roe bellinis are my favourite match. Enjoy.' Patrick Frawley, Head Sommelier, Restaurant Story Sandia Chang 'Egly-Ouriet’s Champagne always has the most elegant and expressive style, perfect for the festive season. The Tradition is a crowd-pleaser with its ripe baked fruit and nutty spiced ginger notes. It reminds me of warm waffles with yellow plum compote.' Sandia Chang, Sommelier, Bubbledogs & Kitchen Table Tanguy Martin 'Rich, mature, corpulent, and intense - Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a touch of Sauternes with your foie gras. Or with your dessert. Or even with your foie gras dessert. This 1989 Suduiraut offers great balance and exceptional sweetness.' Tanguy Martin, Head Sommelier, La Trompette You can browse and buy all the wines mentioned on our Michelin Star Wine List collection.
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