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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

08/05/2015

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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.

23/04/2015

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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.

21/05/2014

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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.

07/04/2014

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The Wine Blogger 2013 Roundup – Wines of the Year

It’s the time of year for round-ups, top tens and best ofs, so we thought we’d ask some of the wine bloggers who’ve written about us over the past twelve months for their favourite wines (Roberson or otherwise) of 2013. In no particular order, here’s what they said… 2012 Domaine Bernard Gripa, ‘Les Pins’ St Péray Chosen by Matt Walls of Matt Walls Wine Blog (@mattwallswine) We drank a bottle of this white Marsanne/Roussanne blend whilst on holiday in the Rhône this summer. Drove directly to the domaine for a case the following day. It smells of freshly cut pears and flowers. It’s full-bodied, but with loads of vitality; long, pure and clean. No excess fat – an example of just how fine and fresh St Péray can be when in the right hands. Champagne Billecart-Salmon Rosé, Non Vintage Chosen by Vim of 12×75.com (@12×75) I was given a bottle to taste recently and decided to take it along to one of our ‘7 Word Wine Review’ evenings in London so everyone could try it. It proved to be one of the highlights of our evening and seemed to be universally loved by the group of tasters.  The wine has small, elegant bubbles and a flavour of delicate peaches with strawberries and raspberries, with a whiff of fresh brioche.  It had just the right amount of sweetness to confuse and delight at the same time – should you have it as an aperitif, or with dessert?  Maybe both…  and then later on, have some more! Azienda Agricola Vittorio Graziano, Lambrusco “Fontana dei Boschi” 2010 IGT Emilia Chosen by Nathan Nolan of Mr Drink ‘N’ Eat (@MrDrinknEat) I was entranced by this wine, it literally had an emotional persona to it. A funky skunky nose (in a nice way). On the palate wild sour dark fruits wrestled around with zip zing acids and fresh tannins, but with a very mature fruit finish. Chateau Phelan Segur 2004 Chosen by Wendy Narby of Insider Tasting (@insidertasting) The surprise when tasting this wine blind at a dinner at the Chateau was to discover the vintage. I loved the pure fruit, elegant tannins and great length from a vintage often offhandedly labelled as ‘Classique’. Big mistake to be put off by this description, the wine is a beauty. Situated in between classified growths of Saint Estephe, Chateau Phelan Segur produces very accessible wines (price as well as style) with an elegance that belies the appellation’s reputation for robustness. There’s nothing wrong with classic. Heinrich St. Laurent 2009 Chosen by Colin Smith of Grapefan’s Wine Adventures (@grapefan) My standout wine in 2013 was an Austrian red which I came across on the shelves of Waitrose. Austria is perhaps better known for its white wines made from the Gruner Veltliner grape but this 2009 red, made from the St Laurent grape by Weingut Heinrich Hartl, was beautifully soft, supply, fruity and perfectly balanced. It showed that despite having a reputation for making great whites the Austrians can make wonderful red wines also. Celler de Vermunver Genesi Varietal 2010 (100% Carignan) Chosen by Simon Woolf of The Morning Claret (@simonjwoolf) One of the most outstanding Carignan dominated wines that I discovered on a trip to the Priorat and Monsant regions in Spain. Perfectly demonstrates the freshness and elegance that these wines can have – no mean feat with 14.5% alcohol. The 2010 has inviting aromas of mint, eucalyptus and dried herbs, vibrant cassis fruit and refined, grippy tannins. Already very drinkable, but should have a great future too. Oaken Grove Benham Blush 2012, Oxfordshire, England Chosen by Joanne Randell of perfectfridaywine (@perfectfriwine) Produced from Pinot Noir and Bacchus grapes grown locally to me, near Henley-on-Thames in the Chiltern Hills and bottled by Stanlake Park, Berkshire, I discovered wine quite by accident during an English tasting that I ran for my monthly wine tasting group.  Surprisingly dry and crisp, with strawberries and cream, yet another English wine triumph that gives provencal rose a run for its money. Savagnin, Badoz, Côtes du Jura, France 2007 Chosen by Brett Jones of Brett, the Wine Maestro (@thewinemaestro) Gold. Sherbet lemons, lemon meringue pie, dry, bright with a fine depth. Little hints of yeast, great with concaillotte, a local young cheese… Local Jura grape variety made in the oxidative Jura style, but with bags of fruit. Also good with hard cheese (Comté) and light curries. Jura is a very special area in the east of France, about 50 miles east of Burgundy, renowned for Vin Jaune which must be aged in barrel for a minimum of 6 years 3 months without being topped up – thus made in an oxidative style. This wine is made with the same variety as used in Vin Jaune, Savagnin,  and is also not topped up. A good introduction to the Jurassien style! Pecorino, the grape variety Chosen by Andrew Barrow of Spittoon (@wine_scribbler) Less of a specific wine, more a grape variety. For some reason, perhaps the trips I’ve been on to Rome and the wine country in Italy, I’ve really grown fond of decent Italian white wines. Pecorino, the grape variety, rather than the cheese is one such. There was a great bottle in a wine bar in Rome that really opened my eyes, and back in the UK several restaurant meals and a decent under a tenner bottle from my local supermarket. It’s the combination of weight, a spicy edge (ginger) and a nutty complexity to the flavour that I adore.  I should also mention that I do also like pecorino the cheese. Anselmo Mendes, Muros Antigos, Alvarinho 2012 Chosen by Robert McIntosh of Thirst for Wine (@thirstforwine) I discovered this wine, and the amazing potential of this variety, in a beautiful converted building, down the narrow streets of Melgaço. The Solar do Alvarinho is a tasting room, bar and shop dedicated just to Alvarinho and the many small producers growing it locally. The town itself is beautiful, but the wine was an amazing combination of crisp freshness you’d expect from Vinho Verde, but more luscious tropical fruit and floral aromas to give it roundness. A wonderful reason to head back to the Minho region of northern Portugal as soon as possible. Toro Albala, Don PX Double Label 1911 Chosen by Tom Lewis of The Cambridge Wine Blogger (@CambWineBlogger) With only 106 bottles made, this century-old wine dates to an almost-Victorian era when Germany and Russia were still empires ruled by royal houses. Translucent black with coffee and liquorice, there is sweet vanilla, toffee and a fragrant-floral black chocolate savouriness. Complex and harmonious with an aged mellowness, it has a vibrancy that belies its centegenarian status. Rather like Mick Jagger or Sean Connery, its youthful, rogueish charm is still present - it has an energy - but it is matched by the assurance that comes with longevity. Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey 2010 Bourgogne Blanc Chosen by Nik Byrne of Wine from a Tumbler (@NikByrne) I had seen a lot of recent hype about this winemaker on Instagram and Twitter, so I jumped at the chance to try this wine when I was out at a friend’s birthday lunch at The Ledbury. This is labelled as a ‘Bourgogne’, which is a generic classification, but it punches well above its weight; it’s clean, classic and classy. Roberson stocks some wines from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, though I’m sure the 2010s would have sold out very quickly. It’s great to see the ‘cheaper’ appellations of Burgundy providing excellent quality juice. Stellenbosch, The Francophile Syrah 2012 Chosen by Simon Woods of Drinking Outside the Box (@woodswine) If there’s a common thread running through the wines I’m craving at the moment, it’s that they’re refreshing and red. It’s a combination that many parts of the world struggle to get right – Beaujolais can do it, Valpolicella used to be able to do it but seems to have forgotten how. So it was a thrill to come across The Liberator “Francophile” Syrah 2012 from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Forget clumsy Cape reds, this is vibrant young wine with floral notes to its blackberry and blackcurrant flavours, a touch of spice, and the roasted note you often find in northern Rhône reds. Perhaps not a wine to chill, but definitely fresh, perky and – most importantly – very tasty.

19/12/2013

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Exclusive Recipe & Wine Match from Rebecca Seal

To celebrate the launch of her fantastic new book, Istanbul, Recipes from the heart of Turkey, we’ve teamed up with Channel 4′s Rebecca Seal to give our customers an exclusive preview of a recipe from the book, as well as (of course) two wine matches chosen by Rebecca from our range. Hünkar Beğendi: Aubergine Purée Topped with Lamb Stew This is a rich and satisfying Ottoman dish of lamb stew on a bed of aubergine and cheese, and it smells progressively more delicious as it slowly cooks, making it harder and harder to resist dipping a corner of bread into the pot! The name means the Sultan’s Delight (or the Sultan liked it), and there are two stories about its origins: one is that it was created for a sultan in the 1600s who did indeed like it; the other is that it was served in the nineteenth century Sultan’s court to Napoleon’s wife, who liked it so much she requested the recipe (the chef refused to give it to her). A salad of bitter leaves with a sharp dressing goes nicely here, or some winter greens. Serves four. For the Lamb Stew 850 g (1 lb 14oz) boneless stewing lamb (shoulder, shank or leg), cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) dice, excess fat removed 1 onion, finely chopped Pinch of salt 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tablespoon Turkish tomato paste or concentrated tomato puree (paste) 2–3 fresh tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and roughly chopped 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 200 ml (7 fl oz/generous 3/4 cup) hot water 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley For the Aubergine Purée 4 large aubergines, trimmed 1 tablespoon lemon juice 30 g (1 oz/2 tablespoons) butter 30 g (1 oz/. cup) plain (all-purpose) flour 350 ml (12 fl oz/1⅓ cups) milk 60 g (2 oz/. cup) grated kasseri, parmesan, comte or other hard cheese Salt and freshly ground black pepper Method Prepare the lamb. Brown the meat in a deep saucepan with a lid, or a deep flameproof casserole, over a high heat and in batches (if the pan is too crowded the meat will stew rather than caramelise and be less tasty). Turn the heat down to low, return all the meat to the pan and add the onion and salt. Allow the onion to soften and become translucent for 10 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, then add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring again, for a further 2 minutes. Finally add the fresh tomatoes, dried herbs and hot water (the meat should be just covered, so add a little more water if it is not). Stir thoroughly and cover. Simmer for about 2 hours, checking frequently that the sauce is not sticking or reducing too fast – add splashes of hot water whenever necessary to prevent this. The stew is ready when the tomatoes and liquid have reduced and thickened and the meat is just beginning to fall apart. About 40 minutes before the stew is fully cooked, start the aubergine purée (don’t worry if timings over-run – the stew will keep happily with a lid on. You could even make it the day before). Either thoroughly char and blacken their skins for 10 minutes directly over a gas ring  or place under a grill set to its highest temperature, and allow the skins to blacken and wrinkle, turning them regularly. (If you prefer a less smoky flavour, grill or broil them more slowly, further from the heat.) When the skins are charred, set them aside in a bowl and splash over the lemon juice. Allow them to cool and then scoop out the flesh by splitting each one down the middle with a spoon and using it to gently scrape out the insides. Pull out any large strands of seeds and discard, roughly chop the flesh and place in a colander to drain. Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan big enough to take all the milk and the cooked aubergines, over a low heat. Warm the milk in a separate pan. When the butter is foaming but not brown, add the flour. Mix well and cook over a very low heat for 2 minutes. Slowly add the hot milk, a quarter at a time, stirring to incorporate each time. (Don’t add it all at once as the sauce will become lumpy.) When all the milk has been added the sauce should be thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thick, add a little more milk and whisk it in. Add the cheese and the chopped aubergine and cook for 2–3 minutes over the lowest possible heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir the parsley into the lamb stew and taste to check the seasoning. Spoon the hot aubergine purée in a thick layer onto a warm serving dish and top with the lamb stew, or serve as individual portions in bowls. Rebecca’s Wine Choices Vourla 2010 from Urla winery is a particularly delicious wine, given masses of structure, I think, by the Boğazkere in the blend, which is a Turkish grape known for being very rich in fine tannins. It stands up well to the richness and gentle spicing in my Adana-style kebabs, or marinated lamb kebabs, which are spicier and served with some charring from the grill. It’s also particularly good with hunkar begendi – it’s a complex and hearty dish and needs a wine with some backbone to deal with all the different flavours and textures. Another wine which goes wonderfully with hunkar begendi is Ellipse 2010 from Zélige Caravent, which works in part because of the tomatoes in the sauce. They cook for two hours in the stew so are thoroughly melted and melded with the lamb and herbs by the time the dish gets to the table, but lend a gentle tang of acidity which cuts through the richness of the aubergine. The Ellipse is a more delicate wine than the Vourla but it has more than enough depth to cope.

31/07/2013

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