Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Any Fin Goes

Putting The Fish Society to the Test We’ve partnered with The Fish Society to match six of their best-selling products, with six of our best wines for fish. To make sure that our wine pairings are up to scratch, Roberson staff put them to the test. Read on for the results…. If you'd like to try the wines yourself, a mixed case can be purchased now - use code FISH18 at checkout to save £31. Dover Sole Taster: Marion Adam Recipe: Grilled with lime, coconut and avocado relish. Wine Pairing: Moobuzz Chardonnay 2016 The tropical notes from lime, coriander, ginger, chili and toasted coconut flakes plus the creamy texture of the avocado relish added some weight and kick to the sole. It matched perfectly with the wine, a strong flavoured and oaky chardonnay and reinforced its citrusy aromas and the coconut notes from the barrel ageing. The recipe itself is done in 20 minutes, just grill the sole in the oven for about 3-4 minutes on each side with oil, peppercorn and salt. Combine the relish ingredients together (avocado, coconut flakes, red chili, ginger, lime and coriander). Serve with steamed coriander rice. Scottish Scampi Taster: David Adamick Recipe: Pan-fried with lentils Wine Pairing: Domaine des Cognettes, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2017 Muscadet and scampi. Pretty convenient, really: you could say both, in fact, are of the sea. Good Muscadet – in this case the exceptional Domaine des Cognettes Sèvre & Maine sur Lie – should have that invigorating, sea air briskness on the nose; citrussy zest, oyster shell and a natural yoghurt-like, leesy character. On the palate more lemon/grapefruit zip with a pronounced, saline minerality and vibrant acidity, countered by more leesy richness. Put this with scampi’s delicate, sweet meat and the pairing is effortless: saline and sweet are natural partners whilst the former’s rich texture is met by the wine’s leesiness in equal measure. So as far as the recipe goes, the trick was not to overwhelm the Muscadet by treating the scampi with too creamy a sauce or an Asian spice assault. I kept it far more local: gently pan-fried in butter, fennel seed, fresh, chopped parsley and garlic, the remnants of which then cut with fresh lemon juice and reduced. A slight browning of the butter did rather well to see to the wines leesy texture and when arranged on a bed of Puy lentil boiled in salted water, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and bay leaf, mixed with a few, finely diced sun-dried tomatoes, the combination was harmonious. On the side to keep up the freshness and zip was a simple salad of finely sliced cucumber and red onion dressed with sea salt and lemon juice. Some capers in there would be happy. Scatter with more chopped parsley and some chilli flakes and you’re not complaining! Black Cod Taster: Jack Green Recipe: Marinated in miso and grilled Wine Pairing: Ebner-Ebenauer, Grüner Veltliner 'Bürsting' 2016 Black Cod is one of the finest cuts of white fish available. Thanks to its high oil content, the flesh is incredibly buttery and soft. Its delicate flavour works beautifully with the sweetness of Miso paste, which in turn balances perfectly with the subtilties of Gruner Veltliner. I kept the cooking of this Black Cod simple, marinating the steaks in Miso paste for 24 hours then simply grilling the fish (skin side up) until nice and crisp. Served with sautéed potatoes and perfectly al dente Swiss Chard, finished with finely chopped garlic. Keep the roasting juices from the fish, add some butter and a touch of the water from the Swiss Chard and you’ll have a delicious jus to drizzle over the fish to round off the dish. The steely, rich dry white Gruner compliments the sweetness of the Miso and has enough acidity to cut through the oily flesh of the fish. A match made in heaven. Caribbean Rock Lobster Taster: Paul Williamson Recipe: Served Newburg over toast Wine Pairing: Domaine Guerrin, Mâcon-Vergisson 'Les Rochers' 2017 Lobster Newburg is a delicious, luxurious dish that requires a strong wine to be matched with it. After removing the tail flesh from the shell of the Caribbean Rock Lobster, I then cut it into half inch medallions. I cooked these beautiful jewels of lobster in a stock of white wine and herbs before transferring to a gently bubbling pan of butter. To this I added a couple of glugs of Palo Cortado sherry, double cream and a beaten egg yolk to thicken. I then served this beautifully rich dish on some buttered sourdough. Domaine Guerrin’s Macon-Vergisson Les Rochers is the perfect match for this dish, the beautiful acidity cuts through the creamy sauce and the rich, fruity Chardonnay blends with the sweetness of the lobster to perfection. Pure indulgence. fishRjumpin Smoked Scottish Salmon Taster: Simon Huntington Recipe: Served simply on farmhouse bread, with organic butter, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Wine Pairing: Domaine Schaller, Chablis 2017 Good quality smoked salmon is so delicious that it really doesn’t need much of a song and dance. The Fish Society taste-test each year, selecting only the best to go under their "fishRjumpin" own-label, so it certainly fits the bill. I layered slices of the salmon over some organic seeded farmhouse bread, spread thickly with top-quality unsalted butter, then ground some black pepper and squeezed some fresh lemon juice over the top. Served as a dinner party canapé with Schaller’s Chablis, it was absolutely sublime. The lemony citrus zest of the Chablis cut like a laser through the butter, while its rounded, succulent mouthfeel balanced perfectly with the rich, unctuous texture of the fish. At the risk of sounding like a rude host, I admit helping myself to the lion's share of the canapé slate. White Crab Meat Taster: Lona Jones Recipe: Shortcrust crab and leek tartlets Wine Pairing: Crémant de Limoux, Les Graimenous, 2016 In the search for perfect pairings you can’t go far wrong with creamy, Crémant de Limoux and homemade shortcrust leek and crab tartlets. From an ancient sparkling wine appellation in a cool, high corner of southern France, this elegant crémant is a balance of zingy acidity, ripe apple and citrus flavours with honey notes from Chenin Blanc. The tartlets are filled with crab claw meat mixed with eggs and crème fraîche, poured over a bed of softened leeks and sprinkled with a generous layer of Parmesan. Perfect as welcome nibbles for your guests, the tartlets will disappear at a rate of knots but paired with crémant they’re something to savour. The wine’s fresh acidity cuts through the cheese, bringing out the delicate crab flavours whilst the creaminess of the sparkling ‘mousse’ matches the crème fraîche filling. Crab, Christmas and crémant - game on! If you'd like to try the wines yourself, a mixed case can be purchased now - use code FISH18 at checkout to save £31.

15/11/2018

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Top 5 Greek Wines

What are the best Greek wines to be drinking right now? Greek wine fan and Head of Consumer Sales Simon Huntington takes a look at the most delicious styles. Hellenic Titans There’s been a revolution in the quality of Greek wine production over the last ten years, with memories of overtly ‘pine fresh’ retsina and simple, alcoholic, rustic reds now well and truly banished. Greece has instead turned itself into one of the most exciting wine producing countries in the world, choc-a-block with interesting indigenous grape varieties and utterly delicious wines. So where do you start on your Hellenic wine odyssey? We run down the top five Greek wines to be drinking right now: 5. Peloponnese Moschofilero If you like good-quality Pinot Grigio, this local Greek grape’s for you. Pronounced “moss-coe-fill-e-roe”, this is a delicious white grape you’ll find planted all over Greece’s Peloponnese region. It varies quite a bit in style, with entry-level examples showing delicate floral aromas, with light, soft, easy-drinking character – a bit like a Greek take on Pinot Grigio. Higher-quality Moschofilero wines show greater intensity, texture and mineral complexity. Try the Thea Mantinia from Seméli as an example of one of the best. 4. Nemea Agiorgitiko An indigenous Greek version of Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon. You probably have to speak fluent Greek to do this one full justice, but it’s pronounced something like “ash-ee-or-shee-teeko”. It’s considered to be the best quality red grape grown in the Nemea region of the Peloponnese, where it makes full-flavoured, polished and age-worthy reds, showing complex notes of dark fruit, leather, tar and spice – a little like Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of the best examples come from Asprokambos – the highest altitude part of Nemea – we recommend Bizios Estate’s Agiorgitiko. 3. Naoussa Xinomavro Greece’s world-class grape. Xinomavro (“zee-no-mav-roe”) is one of Greece's world-class grapes, capable of creating breathtakingly complex wines. As a thin-skinned, highly tannic variety, it requires extremely careful handling. Apostolos Thymiopoulos is described by leading Greek Master of Wine Yiannis Karakasis as "one of the stars of Greek winemaking" and his Xinomavro is breathtakingly good; full-bodied yet somehow supremely graceful. Try Thymiopoulos’ Jeunes Vignes as a great entry-point, then graduate to his Earth and Sky Xinomavro when you want to taste the best. 2. Santorini Assyrtiko A unique white that’s incredible with grilled fish. Assyrtiko (“ass-ear-teeko”) is probably the best-known Greek grape internationally, based entirely on the reputation established by one tiny island in the Cyclades - Santorini. Santorini’s grey sand-like volcanic soil is so poor that almost nothing will grow – except for this supremely hardy grape, which produces exquisitely fresh, lime-infused whites, with laser-like mineral intensity. The best of the traditional producers is Matthew Argyros, whose Santorini Assyrtiko is stunningly good, while new kid on the block Vassaltis Vineyards is garnering a great deal of international acclaim and Michelin Star restaurant listings. But don’t forget Santorini’s “other grape” Aidani. Argyros also make a superb example, which shows wonderful notes of cucumber, pear and smoky minerals. 1. Limniona from Thessaly Greece’s answer to Pinot Noir. Limniona (“lim-nee-ona”) is Greece’s answer to Pinot Noir, producing wines with fragrant aromas of red-berries and rose petals, over delicate, rounded, silky texture. Many Limniona vineyards were grubbed up during the 1980s and 90s, as the vine is not particularly productive, and the wines anathema to the then-fashion for heavy, inky-coloured, oaky reds. Fortunately, far-sighted producers like Christos Zafeirakis returned from training in Bordeaux and Piedmont to save his family vineyards, producing a superbly complex, juicy Limniona. It was scored at 95 points by Decanter Magazine recently and will partner beautifully with barbecued lamb kebabs, boeuf bourguignon, or ratatouille. Yamas! For more fantastic Greek wines, check our our Hellenic Titans collection.

03/08/2018

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Hibernating in style

When it’s cold, wet and starting to get dark around the same time you’re eating lunch, there’s only one thing for it: hunker down and wait for spring. After all, why would you want to go out when there’s a new series of Stranger Things on Netflix? But just because you’re wintering like a Grizzly doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself. It’s the best time of year for all sorts of delicious foods. And you’re much better off relaxing with friends over a cosy dinner chez vous, than fighting over the last 8pm table at Tres Cher. So how do you hibernate in style? Here are a few pro-level tips from Roberson Wine: The inexpensive Crémant that’s better than Champagne You might be staying in, but that’s no reason not to celebrate, even if you’re just celebrating the fact that you’re toasty and dry while the rest of the world are out losing their minds over hipster fried chicken and closed loop cocktails. J Laurens’ Champagne-method Crémant de Limoux is so well-made that it’s easily as good as most Champagnes costing twice as much. But at under £15 per bottle, you really can open a bottle just because it’s Friday night and you fancy some bubbles. Whites to keep in the fridge door What’s your tactic for fast-chilling a bottle when someone fancies a glass of white? Stick it in the freezer? Run it under a cold tap? Chuck a couple of ice cubes in the glass? Much better always to have something light, fresh and crisp sat in the fridge, ready for action. But why does it have to be boring old Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio? Try one of these inexpensive, but completely delicious beauties instead: Domaine des Cognettes Muscadet Ebner-Ebenauer Grüner Veltliner London Cru Baker Street Bacchus Fattoria Kappa Etabeta Vermentino Reds to drink with chocolate What could be better than stretching out on the sofa with a good book, some chocolate and a glass of red, while the rain lashes down outside? But does red wine even match with chocolate? First of all, we’re going to have to get something straight: there’s chocolate and then there’s chocolate. Dry red wines just don't match well with cheaper, more sugary, mass-market chocolate bars; if you're a Yorkie bar trucker or a Milkybar kid, you’d be better off going with a Pedro Ximinez Sherry. But increase the cocoa content to 60% or more and red wine matches start to work – after all, high-quality chocolate and red wine contain the same type of polyphenols, which are the plant compounds that act as antioxidants. You’ll still need to go for something ripe and velvety with soft tannins, so we’d recommend the following - all under £20: Vistalba Temporada Malbec Dupeuble Beaujolais Villages Viano Zinfandel Moobuzz Pinot Noir Reds to impress your foodie friends There are so many amazing flavours to be had at this time of year that you’d be crazy not to invite a few friends over, cook something special and get stuck in. Most game birds are now in season, British venison is widely available in the supermarkets, and it’s truffle festival time in Alba. If you want a great read about wines to drink with autumnal foods, check out David Adamick’s post The Great Game, but in general, full-flavoured reds with balancing juicy acidity tend to work well with both game and mushroom-based foods. David recommends: Mushrooms: Le Cantine Murgo Etna Rosso Wood Pigeon and Wild Boar: Coster del Sio Les Creus Venison: Hunt & Harvest Napa Cabernet Sauvignon The ridiculously under-priced sweet wine If you’ve heard anything about Sauternes, you’ll have heard that the most sought-after estate in the region is Chateau d'Yquem. The estate’s combination of topography and proximity to the river Garonne give its vineyards the perfect microclimate for the flourishing of Botrytis – the noble rot responsible for the world’s greatest sweet wines. But if you’ve heard anything about Sauternes, you’ll also have heard that Chateau d’Yquem can cost a fortune. However, nestled in the middle of d’Yquem’s vineyards is an interesting anomaly – a tract of land surrounded by d’Yquem on all sides, but owned by someone else entirely – Chateau Lafon. It’s one of the only significant Sauternes estates still to be family-owned and it’s rich, lusciously sweet, and a perfect match for blue cheese. But unlike d’Yquem, no one’s heard of Lafon, so a half bottle of their delicious nectar can be had for just £11.99. --- Happy Hibernation!

13/11/2017

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

What Do Wine Tasting Terms Mean?

Lost in translation? Common wine tasting terms explained: Ever read a wine tasting note and thought, “what on earth does that mean?” The descriptive terms used in tasting notes can sometimes seem downright odd. After all, there are no twigs in an oaky white, or pebbles in a mineral red. Often, this is because language is just really bad at describing the sensations we feel. This is especially true of senses as primal as taste and smell, which evolved long before we developed language. Wine tasters, therefore, are forced to convey their impressions via metaphors. As a parallel, think about how hard it would be to describe pain without metaphor. A stabbing pain doesn’t literally have to mean you’re being shanked, and you don’t have to be sitting too close to a radiator to have a burning pain (although you should probably get that checked out). With wine, there’s the added problem that, if tasting notes are written immediately after a particularly lengthy and enjoyable tasting, the creative juices can be a little over-stimulated. But we’ve read many wine tasting notes that seem like they could only have been written by a random wine review generator: “The 2011 Syrah from Champs de Merde incorporates flippant shrimp midtones with a complex millet essence….” Wait… what? We can’t promise to explain what a flippant shrimp tastes like, but we can explain what many of the most common tasting terms mean. Wine Tasting Terms - The List: A.B.V. Abbreviation of ‘alcohol by volume’. It is normally listed on a wine label in percentage format to let you know how much alcohol is in the bottle you’re about to drink. ACIDITY Acid is present in all grapes and is an absolutely essential part of any wine. It can be detected by the sharp, crisp character it gives wines. It is responsible for making a wine taste fresh and is an important balance to any sweetness. AUTOLYTIC Wine described as having an 'autolytic' character have a yeasty or bread-like smell or taste. Often this comes from ageing the wine on its lees. BALANCED When a wine has all its essential components (acid, tannin, sugar and alcohol) in harmony, so that one component does not overwhelm any of the others. BARREL Barrels in winemaking are usually made from oak - either French or American - and are often used to age wine or sometimes as a container for fermentation. American oak tends to impart a stronger, sweeter flavour than French oak. Either can be toasted before use to bring a different dimension, but the most common distinction made between barrel types is between old and new. New barrels can overwhelm the natural flavour of the wine if they're overused, so older ones, or a mixture, are often preferred. BARRIQUE A special type of barrel. Barriques have a capacity of 225 litres and are relatively tall. Although they are all a set size, the term barrique does not indicate whether it is old or new oak, or the level of toasting inside. BIODYNAMIC WINE Biodynamics is a farming practice that advocates harmony between the earth, the vine and the cosmos. Its theories hail from anthropologist Rudolph Steiner who proposed that everything is connected and cyclical when it comes to agriculture. Proponents of this system say that their wines are more stable and are truer expressions of their vineyard. Some of our growers use biodynamic practices, but whether this is what makes their grapes so good, or whether they are just good growers anyway, is open to debate. BLEND Individual wines can be blended together to make something with better balance. Blending might be between wines made from different grape varieties, grown in different vineyards, harvested in different years, or treated differently during the winemaking process. BLIND TASTING A tasting where the identity of the wines being tasted is withheld from the people doing the tasting. It’s a pretty good way to sort out wines that legitimately taste amazing, from those relying on their label and/or reputation to influence the tasters. BODY Term to describe the weight of a wine in the mouth. Full-bodied wine is heavier, with more power, more alcohol, tannin and flavour. Lighter-bodied wine is more delicate. CLOSED / TIGHT A wine that’s not very forthcoming with its characteristics and maybe needs to breathe, or age for a bit longer. It doesn’t necessarily mean a bad wine – like a person who’s not very open and friendly at first, but then turns out to be really nice once you get to know them, sometimes you just have to give a wine the benefit of the doubt. COMPLEX Not a wine with emotional problems, but a wine with lots of different flavour characteristics, all working together. Generally considered a good thing. CORKED Cork taint is a specific wine fault caused by a fungus which can lay hidden deep within cork bark. Its effects can range from the barely detectable to the severe. At the less serious end of the scale, it’s often difficult to say for certain that something is amiss without opening a second bottle for comparison. The fruit flavour of the wine may appear dull and muted, and the wine may finish short. In more severe cases, the wine will smell distinctly musty and, in extreme instances, of rotting cardboard or like a mouldy dog. A wine with a few bits of cork floating around in it is not corked, although you might want to have a word with the person who poured you your glass. CRISP A wine (typically white) with higher acidity and leaner fruit, which comes across to the drinker as fresher, more zingy and more enjoyable to drink on a hot day. If it tastes of cheese and onion, you’re not drinking wine. CRUNCHY Some wines have a taste of red fruit, combined with juicy acidity, which is best described as “crunchy”. Think of a crisp red apple, or a firm red plum. CUVÉE A French term for a particular batch, blend or type of wine. DRY A wine is dry if it contains little or no residual sugar. A common mistake is to believe that a wine is not dry if it tastes of sweet things, such as fruit. The flavour of the wine is unrelated to whether a wine is dry or not. EARTHY A wine with more savoury flavours and aromas of forest floor or mushrooms might be said to be earthy. It usually also indicates a style of wine with less impression of fruit sweetness. FLABBY A wine that lacks acidity. Think how less refreshing fizzy drinks become when they go flat; the carbon dioxide bubbles give these drinks more acidity and, once it’s gone, they’re not as nice to drink. FINISH When you swallow a wine (or spit it out… like that’s a thing) the flavours and sensations of the wine will stay with you for a period of time. Poor quality wines tend to disappear from the mouth quickly, whereas high quality wines are said to have a long finish i.e. the flavours last a long time. If you like the taste, that’s a good thing! FRUIT FORWARD A wine which emphasises ripe, jammy fruit character as its principal characteristic, as opposed to an older wine, which might be more earthy and gamey, or an oaky wine dominated by aromas of toast or vanilla. HORIZONTAL TASTING A tasting of wines from the same year, but from multiple producers. Usually organised around a theme such as grape, region or style. LEES The particles that settle at the bottom of a tank or barrel after fermentation or ageing, made up of dead yeast cells and grape fragments. Leaving a wine to age on these lees can impart additional complexity to the finished product, adding silky texture and bready aromas. MINERAL / MINERALITY Vines growing on particular types of soil – for example Santorini’s volcanic soils, or Chablis’ Kimmeridgian chalk – are said to impart a mineral characteristic to their wines. While it’s hard to define what constitutes a mineral flavour, research conducted by Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University, New Zealand found that most tasters agree that mineral wines tend to taste of citrus, with fresh zingy notes, a smoky character, and chalky texture. OAKY A wine smelling or tasting of characteristics derived from ageing in oak barrels. These can range from sweet vanilla (indicating use of American oak) or more subtle buttered-toast notes (from French oak). OLD VINE As vines get older, they become less vigorous and produce fewer grapes, but the grapes they do produce become more intensely flavoured and complex. There’s no legal definition, but as a rule of thumb, vines would need to be aged around 50 years to be considered old. If a vine produces less fruit, this means less wine can be made, so as well as being better, a wine made from old vines is also likely to be a little more expensive. OXIDISED This is what happens when a wine has been exposed to oxygen for too long. This can happen during the winemaking process, or if it has been stored incorrectly and the closure has failed. It’s why your wine starts to taste like vinegar after a few days of being left open. POLISHED No Mr Muscle involved. Just means a well-made wine with smooth tannins / texture. SOMMELIER A specialist waiter in a restaurant, who oversees the wine list and advises customers on wine choices. Not everyone who loves wine, or whose profession involves wine, is a sommelier. STRUCTURE Acidity and tannin are two major components of a wine that give it structure, texture and the ability to age and improve. Think of a glass of wine being a bit like a body – the fruit is the muscle and the acidity and tannin are the skeleton – neither would work without the other. A well-structured wine is one where these different components are in harmony with each other, and this might also give the impression that the wine could age well. SWEET Some wines are actually sweet – in other words, they contain a significant amount of sugar. Others may be incorrectly described as sweet, even when they’re actually bone dry, because their ripe fruit character gives an impression of sweetness. TANNIN A bitter compound that naturally occurs in the skins, seeds and stems of a grape. They give wines dryness and structure, and can add complexity. Tannins are also an antioxidant, working to protect the wine as it ages. Tannins can be detected in many wines - they feel grainy and drying on your gums. TERROIR A French term, which doesn't have a single direct equivalent in English. It refers to the combination of factors that influence the quality and character of wine in a particular area or vineyard, including soil, climate and grape variety. If a vineyard or region is said to have good terroir, it means that it is all of those factors are favourable for the production of good wine. A wine tasting of its terroir indicates that it is typical of its region and/or vineyard. VERTICAL TASTING A tasting of the same wine, but from different vintages, alongside one another. VINTAGE The year a particular wine’s grapes were picked. If a wine is 'non-vintage' it means it is made up of a blend of wines from different years, and not that it is of lesser quality. Most Champagne, for example, is non-vintage. WET STONE Who’s ever actually tasted a wet stone? Not us! This is one of those difficult-to-define, evocative terms, indicating something like the smell of a pebble beach in the rain, with hints of salinity and earth. WINEMAKER A person who lives in a winery and occasionally makes wine. Anything you think we missed? Get in touch with your best / worst / funniest wine tasting notes and we’ll do our best to decipher them and get them added to our list.

31/08/2017

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

IWC Wine Merchant of the Year Awards Dinner

Simon gives his take on the IWC Wine Merchant of the Year Awards dinner: Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the 2017 IWC Wine Merchant of the Year awards at London’s Hilton, Park Lane. With multiple awards won at both the IWC and Decanter Wine Awards over the last decade, many Roberson staff members are old hands at the wine award-winning business. But I, as a comparative newbie, was excited to be attending my first wine industry awards show – especially since my team was up for one of the major awards of the night – Online Retailer of the Year. The first challenge of attending was getting properly dressed; my attendance of functions requiring black tie has been pretty minimal since a rash of 21st birthday parties several decades ago. I wasn’t overly confident that my dinner suit, acquired around the same time for $35 US Dollars and constructed overnight of the finest nylon in Hoi An, Vietnam, would still be up to the job. Luckily, my wife had the foresight to persuade me to pick up a new dinner suit at the same time as buying a suit for my wedding a few years ago – and, after a bit of a dry clean, it proved to be in more than serviceable condition. So, appropriately attired and looking forward to getting a little moist around the collar on the Piccadilly Line, we set off to Park Lane, arriving just in time to glug a refreshing glass of Champagne and watch the first raft of specialist merchant awards being announced. Roberson Wine had won the IWC Specialist Merchant of the Year USA award for the previous 4 years. While we were nominated again this year, it was felt that the IWC might give someone else the nod, just to spread it around a little. As it turned out, this fear was unrealised, as the eminent judges of the International Wine Challenge sagely saw fit to give us the award again this year – for the fifth year in a row – and up onto the stage we went to collect our winnings. Once the applause died down and I had the chance to catch my breath, I was able to have a bit more of a look around the event – and, as well as bumping into London Cru winemaker Gavin Monery, I was extremely impressed by the size and slick organisation of the show. With a multitude of bars pouring a host of this year’s IWC Platinum Award-winning wines, a seated dinner for about 500 and a spectacular stage and screen awards presentation, it wasn’t hard to see why the gent sitting next to me at dinner described the event as “the biggest night of the year.” Finally the big moment for me personally arrived – the Online Retailer of the Year award, in which we were nominated for the first time, but up against two massively larger rivals. To cut a long story short, we didn’t win – but out of the 43 award categories, we were one of only 6 entries to be given a “Highly Commended” trophy, so we felt some justification in feeling rather pleased with ourselves. All in all, a fantastic evening – and looking forward to finding as many ways as possible to make our online service even better over the course of the next year – and picking up first prize next time.

11/07/2017

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Why Love Europe?

Europe means different things to different people. To some, it’s a hot-topic political entity; to others it’s just a place they visit for two weeks every summer. To us of course, it’s Bordeaux and Burgundy, Bolgheri and Barolo, the slate slopes of the Rhine and the volcanic soils of Santorini. Our tiny corner of the northern hemisphere is absolutely central to wine. Remains of amphora in archaeological sites are evidence of its intrinsic role in our culture since antiquity. Today we’re responsible for more than half of the entire world’s wine production and, I’d argue, an even greater share of its wine diversity. Few other regions can produce wines that would rank amongst the world’s greatest examples of ripe, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon, perfumed and silky-delicate Pinot Noir, sumptuously rich Chardonnay and pinpoint-precise, mineral-laden Riesling. Add in Galician Albarino, Nerello Mascalese grown on the slopes of Mount Etna, Greek Xinomavro and countless other uniquely European wines, and there’s no debate to be had. While wine production all over the world traces its origins to European settlement, Europe continues to set the standards to which the rest of the wine world aspires. The highest compliment you can pay many Aussie Chardonnay producers is that their wine tastes like white Burgundy. The best Napa Cabernets taste like First Growth Bordeaux. If you’re a South American billionaire with aspirations to own a great wine estate, the consultant you hire to enact your vision will probably be a European like Alberto Antonini, Eric Boissenot, or Michel Rolland. It’s not a one-way relationship; advances made by new world organisations like UC Davis have changed – and often improved – the way we in Europe make our wines too. But it’s fairly telling that many of Europe’s finest winemakers are turning away from the technological developments of the late 20th century, in favour of a return to the low-impact, artisan techniques used by their great-grandparents. So whatever your individual wine preferences might be, there’s obviously something about Europe that you should love. But if it’s so obvious, why are we making a fuss about it? At Roberson Wine we’ve become renowned in recent years for our unparalleled range of Californian wines. We were the first UK merchant to spot an emerging trend towards production of finer, more elegant and stylistically more European wines in the golden state and, with all the excitement and column inches this has generated, it could be easy to forget that the core of our range has always come from the wonderfully eclectic wine regions of Europe. While we’re delighted that our Californian wines have been so successful, when Cliff Roberson set up a wine shop on Kensington High Street in 1991, his idea was to offer the classic wines of Europe in a fresh, new and innovative way. 26 years later, our vision remains just as strong. We'll be shining a spotlight on our European range throughout June with our Love Europe campaign. Shop our Love Europe Collection and join us at our Love Europe Tasting on Thursday 22nd June.

01/06/2017

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