Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Best English Grapes

Looking to get into English wine, but not sure what grapes to be looking out for? Head of Consumer Sales Simon Huntington checks out some of the most delicious options. The Best English Wine Grapes to Try England, in recent years, has become acclaimed as one of the world’s best producers of sparkling wines, and English fizz has beaten French Champagnes at a number of blind tastings. Yet the rise in quality of English still wines has been just as remarkable, if not as headline-grabbing. Some grapes like Bacchus actually seem to work better in English terroir than anywhere else. Others like Chardonnay aren’t better – just different – with distinctive flinty characteristics when grown in England’s chalky soils. The modern English wine industry is still so young that it’s a time of incredible learning, growth and change. The famous wine regions of continental Europe have had centuries to work out the best terroirs for growing grapes, and the best varieties to have planted. England’s just getting started – so while there are exquisite wines being made, there are also plenty of wines out there that have… room for improvement. So to save you the trouble of sorting the wheat from the chaff, we’ve outlined England’s best grapes: 3. English Chardonnay Flinty Perfection If you love Chablis, but hate buttery Chardonnays from the southern hemisphere, then English Chardonnay is for you. Like Chablis, good English Chardonnays have delicate structure and rounded mouthfeel from ageing on lees, yet they add a flinty mineral character from being grown on England’s chalky soils. Two superb examples are London Cru Chancery Lane Chardonnay, which is fresh, delicate and incredibly gluggable, and Simpson Estate Gravel Castle Chardonnay, which shows wonderful apple and nashi pear character, with creamy texture and a finely mineral finish. 2. English Pinot Noir Not just for sparkling England’s Pinot Noir is principally grown for sparkling wine production – as one of the three authorised varieties in Champagne, it’s a crucial component of most Traditional Method English sparkling wines. Many sparkling wine producers also make a still wine with some of their left over Pinot, but these can lack body and fruit intensity, since grapes for sparkling wines are typically picked too early for optimum still wine production. The best examples – like Simpson Estate Rabbit Hole Pinot Noir – are made from Burgundian Pinot Noir clones – specifically intended for still wine production and farmed separately to sparkling wine grapes. In this case, they can show the body and ripe fruit of a good red Burgundy, with a distinctive mineral character from England’s chalky soils. As a sideline, English Pinot Noir can also make exceptionally pure, delicate rosé. For a superb, Provence-like example from Kent, check out Simpson Estate Railway Hill Rosé, or for bashfully pale Pinot rosé from Surrey, try London Cru Rosaville Rd Rosé. 1. English Bacchus The Queen of England Bacchus loves the English climate. Like a typical northern-European who gets burnt the second the sun comes out, Bacchus suffers when the climate gets too warm, and its wines can lack vibrancy, acidity and aromatic profile. Of course too much sunshine is rarely a problem in England, and Bacchus grapes ripen perfectly, yet maintain a wonderfully zingy, citrus character, to match with aromas of elderflower and freshly-mown meadow. Top examples like London Cru Baker St Bacchus are utterly evocative of the English countryside – and there really isn’t a better match with a plate of freshly-shucked Whitstable oysters. For more news and offers on English wines, join our mailing list

07/03/2019

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

New Year, New Cru

Introducing Roberson Wine's new assistant winemaker Vintage 2018 is done, the fermentations are all complete, and as winter takes hold of London the activity for London Cru in the Roberson winery slows down. This is a great time for our team to stop and reflect on our achievements since opening the winery in 2013. We have become a well-known hub for tasting cracking wines, a lively event space, and a producer of critically acclaimed wines. The 2018 vintage was a particularly great one for us and highlights the growing maturity of the wine industry in the UK. With a great number of new vineyards being planted around the country, and production of increasingly high-quality grapes, England really has become a world class producer of cool climate wines. To support this future, the London Cru wines from 2018 were exclusively sourced from vineyards in England. This decision was made deliberately to support our local growers, allow us to showcase quality English wines in the heart of London, and finally to minimise the environmental impact of transporting our fruit long distances. As the first urban winery in London, we feel this new step is an important metamorphosis for our long-term sustainability. At London Cru we have shown the world that quality award winning wines can really be made right in the heart of the capital. In the coming years London Cru will continue to demystify wine and bring innovation and eccentricity into the London wine scene. With this new pathway in mind we would like to introduce Alex Hurley, who will join Agustín Novoa in the winery team for 2019. Alex worked as a Geologist through Australia and Asia before deciding to follow his passion for wine. Having previously made wines in Australia, Burgundy, and Barolo, the seduction of working with quality English grapes brought him to the UK. With a Master of Enology and Viticulture, Alex will drive the daily operations of the winery, work closely with our growers, as well as be a friendly face in the winery. In sync with our new direction with the London Cru wines, Alex loves to make wines with minimal intervention, great balance, and natural acidity. When not making or talking about wines, Alex is a passionate foodie and looks forward to exploring more of the English countryside. If you’re interested to get a sneaky taste of the wines from our winery tanks, have a chat with our team, or find out more about our new winemaking direction at London Cru, check out our upcoming tours and tastings.

08/01/2019

Simon huntington blog

Simon Huntington

Bubbles with Personality

What's your Champagne Personality? Ever wondered what style of Champagne suits your personality? Take our quiz and find out. Once you've established your personality fit, follow the links to find the Champagnes that match. Select one answer for each scenario: 1. You’re meeting a new partner’s parents for the first time. What do you wear? A: Whatever’s clean will do. B: My outfit will be well-chosen, beautiful, and express my personality. C: Anything Gucci or Prada. D: A bespoke, crisply-pressed, Saville Row suit. 2. You’re upgrading your mobile phone. What do you go for? A: My Nokia 3310 still works fine, and I see no reason to change. B: My upgrade plan means that I always have the latest iPhone. C: Whatever has the best camera – my thousands of followers demand quality selfies. D: I own a mobile, but only switch it on when I want to call somebody. 3. Where do you like to eat out? A: There’s a fantastic small restaurant around the corner from where I live. I know the owner and she usually offers me a glass of something on the house. B: I’m always at the latest launch. I’ve eaten there before the critics have even heard of it. C: The more Michelin stars the better. D: I usually book a private room at the Gavroche. 4. You’re going to see a movie. What do you pick? A: Why pay £15 to listen to people scoff popcorn? I’d rather curl up on the sofa with a classic Robert De Niro. B: I’m a member of an exclusive pop-up film club. C: If there aren’t explosions, I’m not interested. D: Movies are books for people who lack patience and imagination. 5. You’re planning a holiday. What do you book? A: Cornwall or Scotland. Why go abroad when there are so many beautiful parts of the UK? B: The best adventures are unplanned. I'll find out where I'm going when I get there. C: A fabulous villa in Mykonos. Preferably somewhere close to Scorpios Beach Club. D: We have a family house in the south of France. Good food, good wine and good times. 6. You’re going to a music festival. Where will your friends find you? A: I always set up an area at the top of the slope. You can see the stage and enjoy the music without getting too crowded. B: I’m friends with one of the bands and they always get me a backstage VIP access pass. C: Stage-diving anyone? D: Music festival? You mean Glyndebourne, right? 7. Money is no object. What type of car do you buy? A: Something German, but nothing too flashy. Reliability is more important than 0-60. B: Ownership is such a "20th Century" way of thinking about things. C: A Lamborghini Huracan Performante. D: I wouldn’t trade my 1961 Jaguar E-Type for anything. 8. You’re buying a house. Where’s the new pad? A: Somewhere with good schools and an easy commute. B: There’s a polyamorous co-habitation space I’m looking into. I’m interested in new ways of living. C: The important thing is that there’s space to land a helicopter. D: One doesn’t buy houses. One simply looks after them for the next generation. Answers: Mainly As: You enjoy the finer things in life, but you’ve an eye for a bargain. Big brand bling and marketing spiel don’t impress you. Try Henri Dosnon or Veuve Borodin, each of which offer superb, artisan-producer quality at 'Tuesday night' prices. Mainly Bs: You’re a trend setting early adopter and an independent thinker. You’re never afraid to experiment and discover new things. Try Artéis and Co. Brut 2004 or Dosnon Recolte Noire. Each of these are from smaller producers you may not have heard of, but offer an interesting spin on typical Champagne styles. Mainly Cs: You have a big personality and aren’t afraid to share it with the world. You enjoy the best of everything and aren’t afraid to pay for what you want. If you want the best, regardless of price, try Bollinger's La Grande Année or Dom Pérignon 2009. Each offers exquisite quality that's hard to beat. Mainly Ds: You’ve got great taste and you know quality when you see it. You’re understated, quietly confident, and your friends know they can always trust your recommendations (if they can afford them of course…). Try Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition or Jacques Selosse 'Sous le Mont'. These are amongst the finest examples of small grower Champagnes, made without compromise for the true aficionado.

28/11/2018

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-eh-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 (“cazee-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 and sign up to our mailing list.

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

About us

We sell wine that offers quality and value at every level, from the everyday to the extraordinary. Read more about us.

Awards & press Our latest awards

We're Decanter and IWC Specialist Merchant of the Year for our USA range.

... London's best collection of seriously smart wine available by the single bottle

Jancis Robison MW