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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.
Blogger Roundup: The Most Remarkable Vineyards
For centuries, wine has graced our tables, delighted our palates and captivated our interests. Although our wine experience relies mainly on the bottled product, vineyards, wineries and the industry as a whole are fascinating subjects. We wanted to go to the source and investigate where the wine magic happens, so we asked a group of wine bloggers: ‘what is the most remarkable vineyard or winery you’ve come across in your travels?’ ‘Château Pontet-Canet’ Diana Isac, CEO and Co-founder of Winerist Pontet-Canet has a soul which is passed through generations of exquisite winemakers. The Tesseron family is committed to biodynamic farming and there is nothing more mesmerising that watching the horses work the land. The fact that the wines are amongst the best in the world is no surprise to the wine lover. A visit to Bordeaux cannot be complete without a visit to Pontet-Canet. Twitter: @TheWinerist ‘Niepoort Vinhos’ Elaine Chukan Brown, Writer at Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews I was able to spend four days following Dirk Niepoort of Niepoort Vinhos through harvest 2014 in the Douro. Seeing how he has integrated quality table wine into their portfolio, and shifted the house approach to making all of their own Port after four generations as a negociant Port house was truly remarkable. Quinta de Napoles, the Niepoort still wine winery, is a beautiful spot in a remarkable wine region. Twitter: @hawk_wakawaka ‘Flowers Vineyard and Winery’ Meghan Malloy, Food, Travel and Wine Writer at Travel, Wine, and Dine It took me a couple of years and several trips to Northern Sonoma, and this time around we finally got to Flowers. From the first time I tasted their Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, I was in love and wanted to visit this stunning Sonoma Coast property, nestled in beautiful mountains and off a winding, wooded road. It was worth the wait and everything I hoped it would be. Twitter: @traveleatlovemm ‘Domaine Bousquet’ ...say Britt and Per Karlsson, Founders of BKWine, BKWine Magazine The roads are winding, the landscape dry and harsh. We drive through what’s almost a desert for an hour. The mountains seem to come closer and closer. We are on are way from Mendoza to Valle de Uco in Argentina. We are close to Mount Tupungato, a still active volcano and one of the highest mountains in South America. Suddenly there is a sign announcing our destination Domaine Bousquet. And a green oasis appears, quite unexpectedly. A lake, a perfectly green lawn, vineyards, and a stunning view of the snow-capped Andes Mountains. For a few moments we stay silent and just admire the scene. Soon glasses with sparkling wine appear and what we thought was perfect becomes even more so. Twitter: @bkwineper ‘Point of the Bluff Vineyards’ Melissa, writer at Yummy Feed Point of the Bluff Vineyards is one of the most beautiful vineyards, it is nestled on the bluff overlooking Keuka Lake in the Heart of the Fingerlakes Region in Upstate New York. The vineyards are on a southwest-facing slope with plenty of sunshine and a remarkable view. The International award winning wines make the visit even more impressive. Once you have been there you won't want to leave. Twitter: @yummyfeeduk ‘Camina Nova vineyard’ Alice Feiring, Writer at The Feiring Line Ribera Sacra – Caminia Nova is almost completely abandoned, and it is certainly abandoned by organic viticulture. Roberto Santana and his 3-friends are reviving old vineyards, converting them back to organic and making beautiful wines in breathtaking, (and almost impossible to farm) settings. Twitter: @alicefeiring
Food and Wine Pairing - An Infographic
Looking for some good advice on food and wine pairing? We've helped prepare this handy infographic. Feel free to share it on your site.
International Wine and Food Pairing Blogger Roundup
At the end of last year, we asked a group of wine bloggers to select their favourite wines of the year, Roberson or not. Given that post’s popularity, we thought it was about time to do it again. This time we asked bloggers from around the world to tell us about their favourite wine and food match. The results make for some interesting reading, and include a few unexpected wildcards. Read on to see what they chose… Unoaked Santorini Assyrtiko paired with Sushi Selected by Markus Blog from ELLOINOS – @elloinos Assyrtiko vines are grown in the volcanic soils of the Greek Island Santorini, one of the hottest growing regions on earth. The resulting wines are salty, mineral, with a very high acidity. They manage to cut through the umami character of sushi and enhance the natural flavors of the fresh and raw ingredients. Domaine des Schistes Rancio with Gruyère cheese Selected by Henry Jeffreys, author of Empire of Booze – @henrygjeffreys I normally just want to enjoy the meal rather than obsess over the perfect food and wine match. Sometimes, however, things just accidentally come together. Last year I brought a bottle of Domaine des Schistes Rancio Sec back from the South of France. This is a solera fortified wine made mainly from Grenache Gris and Blanc. Initially it seemed piercingly dry but a salty piece of Gruyere brought out a sweetness and fruitiness to it. Each made the other more complex. The wine isn’t available in England but I think a dry madeira would work eg. Barbeito Verdelho 10 year old. Picpoul de Pinet with shellfish or native oysters on the Kent Coast Selected by Miles Thomas from Wine Psych – @winepsych I am a big fan of Picpoul de Pinet, particularly with oysters. Picpoul is a pretty humble grape but does a great job with shellfish. The best place to try the combo is the fisherman’s outlet in the harbour at Port Vendres in Languedoc Rousillon but the grape also works with native oysters on the Kent Coast. Pinot Noir Paired with Boeuf Bourgogne Selected by L.M. Archer, FWS from binNotes – @binNotes Pinot noir is a light-to-medium bodied red wine with hints of fruit, mushroom, earth and leather. The lovely acids, silky tannins and lingering finish of pinot noir pair well with salmon, fowl, or game, and rich stews such as Boeuf Bourgogne. Riesling with fish and grilled asparagus Selected by Torsten Reimer from The Wine Rambler – @winerambler Riesling must be one of the most versatile and exciting white wines – still or sparkling, bone dry or sweet, young or decades old. It is an exciting, aromatic wine that features fresh acidity, crunchy minerality and great aromas and flavours such as herbs and peach. Riesling is generally food friendly but as it is now asparagus season you should pair it with fish, grilled asparagus and perhaps a light sauce. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and French fries Selected by Tara Devon from Wine Passionista – @tara_devon Oysters are a classic pairing for Champagne, and while this is a great match, oysters are often an acquired taste. An equally impressive partner for this inimitable bubbly is a basket of French fries. The bright purity of the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs is the perfect foil for the decadent salty, deep-fried potato batons, be they shoestring or wedges. The ideal informal indulgence. Butterscotch Budino with 2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling Selected by John Cesano from JohnOnWine – @JohnOnWine I am not a matchy-matchy kind of a guy, pairing dessert wines with desserts – it is just too much sweetness and I don’t want to bring an insulin injector to the dinner table. That said, the best food and wine pairing of the last year for me was the 2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling and the Butterscotch Budino, a dessert created by Chef Jesse Elhardt of Crush Restaurant in Ukiah, CA. Butterscotch Budino is a bowl with chocolate pudding on the bottom, then caramel pearls, then butterscotch pudding, topped with Chantilly cream and mint – you dig down to get all layers with each spoonful – and when paired with the Double Gold and Best of Class awarded 2011 McFadden Late Harvest Riesling. I expected delicious, but this pairing left delicious far behind; this was a perfect pairing. A spoon and a tiny sip, another spoon and another sip, until, too soon, it was gone.
Bordeaux 2013 – Our View
April 2014 and Bordeaux once again shows off its latest vintage to the waiting world, although in truth the level of anticipation this year has not been terribly high. The last few campaigns have disappointed, with some eye-wateringly high pricing leading to a great deal of unsold wine sitting on merchants’ books, both in Bordeaux itself and in the wider world, and consumers have sometimes been left with wine that is worth less than they paid for it. Allied to this is the nature of the vintage itself – the well-trailed difficulties faced by the vignerons in 2013 hardly promised an exciting set of wines to be tasted. There was a certain weariness apparent as the trade made their way towards the Gironde, and over the course of the week tasting rooms were noticeably quieter than usual, the customary phalanxes of tasters thinned down to ones, twos and threes. The difficulties of the growing season are fairly well documented: a wet and cool May and June were followed by a hot summer and a humid and rainy autumn. Ripeness was difficult to achieve before rot laid waste to the vineyards, and picking generally took place a good week or so earlier than many would have deemed ideal. In certain cases this may have produced a pleasing freshness, but for many wines the result has been a distinct lack of mid-palate presence and an overall impression of textural disharmony: alcohols (though not that high by recent standards) and particularly acidities stand out markedly. It is dangerous to make too many generalisations about the reds by commune or position in the classification. However, we can say that the best wines are the result of the best terroirs, effective vineyard management coaxing maximum ripeness from the fruit, and the nature of said fruit being respected in the winemaking. The most successful have worked with the fruit they have in order to make refreshing, light, attractively perfumed wines of not a little elegance and refinement, which nevertheless lack the richness and intensity of a greater vintage. Where the winemakers have pushed too hard the results have been drying and bitter. It is a year to look to those who generally prioritise balance over power (the delicacy of the wines also appeared to lead to a bit of sample variation over the week with more disagreement than usual among tasters as to the relative merits of some grand old names). The whites are generally good, with some notable successes, and the Sauternes are excellent. Yquem is, as usual the ne plus ultra (and probably the wine of the vintage), but fantastic sweet wines can be found at all levels. The Campaign Ahead As for the campaign itself, who knows? Yields and production were low, and where they have been able to the châteaux have made some very drastic selections in order to maintain a semblance of quality. They will not have much wine to sell and this may compel some pricing decisions that will make little sense to the consumer. What we do know is that, while the vintage is a bit of a curate’s egg – there are some genuinely lovely wines to be found among the less successful – the indications are that pricing will not be low enough to compel the consumer to buy heavily. The most commonly heard word from the négociants we spoke to in regard to pricing is that it promises to be ‘complicated’, a choice of words which does not inspire too much confidence. The likely situation is that wines will be offered at a premium over some physical vintages, 2007 being the most obvious analogue, and we will offer a comparison where applicable. It is only fair that we also inform you where Roberson thinks that pricing is attractive enough for us to buy for stock (and, perhaps of greater use, where it is not). Pontet Canet and Gazin are already on the market and, while both wines are good, it is possible to buy physical vintages more cheaply, both ex-Bordeaux and on the secondary market. Technical improvements in the vineyard and modern winemaking techniques allow much better wines to be made in challenging vintages than in the past and while there are certainly differences in quality there are very few total failures. Some may also find the early-picked freshness to be a plus and it is true that there is a certain classicism to some wines that will be of appeal to the drinker who prefers a more traditional style. If particular châteaux are of interest then please let us know and we will contact you when they are released. Aside from that we will happily recommend based on quality and release price as the campaign progresses.
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