Lona Jones, Events Ambassador and Sales Advisor at Roberson Wine, investigates wine's best kept secrets. Almost Famous Everyone likes a little insider knowledge; being privy to information only a select few have access to. Whether it’s knowledge of a gem of a local restaurant that’s currently under the food critics' radar or being tipped off about new talent bound for stardom. If you were a regular at the Northwood Hills Hotel in Pinner, Middlesex, in the early 60’s watching a budding 15-year-old singer/songwriter called ‘Reggie’, you were in the right place at the right time. Reginald Kenneth Dwight, to give him his full title, would later be catapulted to stardom with a name change and some stratospheric platform boots, as Elton John. In wine circles, undiscovered finds are often there if you scratch the surface or more accurately in this case, peer over the fence. Take Pauillac, for example. Drop the name of this famous Bordeaux commune into the conversation and it’s likely one of the area's three Premier Crus (First Growth) estates, will get a mention. From the 1600’s onwards, when Bordeaux wine started to be exported, Château Lafite, Château Latour and Château Mouton-Rothschild have been considered the most prestigious estates with the finest wines, in the region. After the 1855 ‘Classification of the Medoc’, this was etched in stone for eternity or until French law changes, whichever is first! If the top-notch prices commanded by Bordeaux’s premier elite are a little beyond your reach, take a short, 200m stroll south from Château Latour, (if you head north you’ll reach the second growth estate of Chateau Lynch-Bages), and you’ll find Chateau Gaudin. Sharing the same soils and climate as Chateau Latour, Chateau Gaudin produce similarly structured and robust Cabernet-dominated wines, possessing the potential to develop beautifully in bottle. They perfectly balance weight with finesse and show concentrated flavours of cassis and black plum, with hints of tobacco and sweet spice. Being labelled Pauillac AC, (as opposed to Premier Cru Classé like its A-lister neighbour), means you can knock at least one zero off the price, whilst still tasting wine made in one of the most expensive viticultural areas in the world. Chateau de Chambrun's Le Bourg' sits across La Barbanne river from the most famous, unclassified Chateau in the world, Petrus. Chateau de Chambrun happily benefits from the same ‘blue clay’ soils as its much-revered neighbour and taking full advantage, produces Merlot dominated wines that, when mature, show great depth with tertiary notes of coffee and earth overlayed with rich red plum and cherry flavours. If you've a sweet tooth, head over to Sauternes. Here, world famous Premier Cru Supérieur producer Chateau d’Yquem has been making exquisite botrytised dessert wines for four centuries. The d’Yquem vineyards encircle those of adjoining property, Chateau Lafon. Whilst not able to boast a prestigious classification and dating back from a mere 1867, Lafon are proud to be family-owned and produce lusciously sweet wines with aromas of honeyed apricot, creme brûlée, a glorious, textured mouthfeel and excellent acidity, descriptions often associated with the premium-priced wines from their immediate neighbour. Branching out from Bordeaux... Romaric Chavy is a young winemaker in Cotes de Beaune, Burgundy, who has inherited world class vineyards, two of which are Premier Cru standard and 40% within the famous appellation of Puligny Montrachet. He labels his wine by the regional AC Bourgone Blanc but Domaine Chavy Chouet "Les Femelottes" is closer in quality to Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru wines, at a fraction of the cost. It’s not just famous neighbours that are worth investigating - following the careers of renowned winemakers can also lead to some excellent new wines. Kevin Judd, widely acknowledged as the pioneering winemaker behind Marlborough’s signature style Sauvignon Blanc left Cloudy Bay after 25 years, to concentrate on his own winemaking venture, Greywacke, a vibrant, stylish wine from fruit sourced in prime sites across the central Wairau Plains and Southern Valleys. Tracking the provenance of grapes can also be fruitful (sorry!) Based in Rhone’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Romain Duvernay grows premium quality grapes that he previously used to supply to Etienne Guigal, for his famous Côtes du Rhône wines. Deciding they were too good to share, Romain now produces his own stunning wine. Checking closer to home can also reap rewards. London Cru, the first urban winery in London, opened in 2013. A policy of sourcing only the finest grapes from small producers across England and Europe, serendipitously brought them in contact with The Cordero Family, based in Piedmont, Northern Italy. Described as 'rock stars in the Italian winemaking world', father and daughter team, Gianfranco and Serena grow outstanding grapes which they supply to London Cru to make stunning, age-worthy Barbera, full of ripe red fruits with a punchy acidity and great structure. For the 2018 vintage London Cru is launching an English Sparkling Rosé, which you can taste at our October Open Cellar Door event or during our much anticipated Christmas tasting . You heard it here first! For more 'almost famous' wines, check out our collection now.
What's the connection between the Danish concept of 'hygge', wine and food? On-Trade Sales Manager David Adamick explains all. Drinking deeply Whenever ‘concept’ is mentioned in the wine world, one is inadvertently led back to the French ‘idea’ of ‘terroir’- something we’re regularly reminded cannot accurately be translated (the French: they insist on having a different word for everything). This month we’re doing it in Denmark - though the wine bit comes later - and the concept is ‘hygge’. ‘Hygge’ means the creation of a warm atmosphere, enjoying good things with good people. Cosiness, snuggling, the dim glow of candle light, reindeer stew in a pot hanging in a fireplace whilst the wintry elements rage outside… this is hygge. So already you can recognise the massive role wine can play in all this. And as such tucked-up settings naturally lend themselves to red wine, and that red wine naturally leads itself to meat, we’re off to an easy start. Let’s then consider ‘hygge’ as the orbit in which richer, more warming wines circle, some terrific new additions of which we’ll focus on here. What’s in season? In particular, venison, and our reds certainly need some heft here – no less when it’s stew or casserole. Deep gamey flavours, rich and weighty, Syrahs, Cabernets and the like immediately spring to mind, and indeed Roberson’s new seasonal collection presents some exceptional options. For example, how welcome is Malbec from other than you-know-where? Very. Step up Les Vignobles St. Didier Parnac’s Mission de Picpus Cahors, 2016, with its bitter, crunchy black fruit and sweet spice and violet nose; it’s an invigorating and fresh counterpoint to the rich gaminess of deer. Cleans up beautifully, and from what a great, long-lost appellation! Equally agreeable is Natacha Chave’s 2016 Domaine Aléofane St-Joseph, though a softer, 100% Syrah in this case. Also with a delicate violet nose, yet rounder, plummier fruit on the palate, it has classic Northern Rhone bitter, olive tapenade fruit with lovely nutmeg and cinnamon spice. Its velvety texture and breadth would happily meet a venison casserole half way. Then, one mustn’t overlook a classic Right Bank option and indeed the sheer value you can find in such satellite appellations as Lalande-de-Pomerol, where Chateau de Chambrun is quite ideal for a hygge fillet in mushroom sauce. Deep, dark, with black fruits on the nose; slightly minty; blackberry and blackcurrant fruit, silky tannins. 83%/17% Merlot/Cab Franc - the second varietal gives real zing and lift and does well to keep it fresh when up against the density and gamey flavours of the dish. Moving from cloven hooves to fowl feet, we are in October treated to pheasant. And wild mushrooms too can be very hygge. However, we should knock the reds’ weight back a few notches. Here we want more floral, ethereal wines - more red fruit and structure - and alpine wines fall right into place. This is to say from the Savoie region in eastern France, where André & Michel Quenard are in the fore for quality and value. A curious local varietal, Mondeuse, is de rigueur and offers that freshness and lighter, spiced fruit, that takes on fowl and wild fungal flavours beautifully. Equally so varietals such as Trousseau (from the not-so-far-off Jura), where Arnot-Roberts’s North Coast (California) expression is an absolute joy: pale, floral, sweet spice and gentle, juicy fruit really resonate in the log cabin. The Californian elegance continues apace at Jolie Laide, where their El Dorado Barsotti Vineyard Gamay offers similar. In truer tradition is Pinot Noir: Bergstrom’s Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley gives us more power and grip with beautiful earthiness, spicy red fruit and butterscotch on the nose, with a proper saline streak through vibrant red/earthy fruit on the palate. Utterly ideal with pheasant, fowl and fungus. Then, finally, to a Pinot that is gaining much interest: that of Germany. Rheinhessen, in the case of Carl Koch’s Spatburgunder, and this is surely Roberson’s best-value wine, at present. Leafy, crunchy red and black earthy fruit driven by a remarkable freshness, and an electric acidity driving from behind, it defies the common price ratio for German Pinots. Exceptional. Get these, get a corkscrew, get hygge. For more of our cosiest wines, check out our Wines with Hygge collection and save up to 25% during October.
Ten Fine Years
With RobersonWine.com celebrating its 10th birthday this month, Private Client Sales Manager Paul Williamson reflects on ten years in fine wine. 10 Years Re-Fining Your Palate The world of fine wines is a fascinating place that never ceases to beguile and entice me. One of the reasons for this is the dynamic and fluid nature of fine wine trends and changes. Roberson began selling fine wines online 10 years ago, so it seems like the right time to look back and reflect on the changes in fine wine over that period. Technology and the internet have had a huge influence on the way that people experience fine wine. 10 years ago, Roberson was one of the very first wine merchants who helped to revolutionise the way in which consumers could purchase their favourite Cru Classé tipple by launching an online shop. Back then websites were a bit simplistic, but now fine wine lovers have a wealth of resources and information at their fingertips in order to manage their portfolios. For example, there are now a number of trading platforms available for private collectors to buy and sell wines anonymously online. Today the better wine websites, such as ours, don’t just give you the name, region and perhaps grape variety of a particular wine, but can tell you how the wine was made, the back story of the winemaker and even provide a food pairing. The increased access to information, direct communication with wine producers and the proliferation of wine consumer review websites has resulted in the waning influence of wine critics. Robert Parker’s ability to shape wine trends and consumer tastes was almost undisputed 10 years ago. These days consumers have a wealth of resources available to them to help them discover the wines, regions and styles that they love. Parker favoured wines that were big, powerful, fruity and oaky. Over the last 10 years there has been a massive stylistic change back to more elegant, balanced and refined wines. This is in no small part down to the lessening influence of Parker and the rising influence of the broadening stylistic desires of younger generations of wine lovers. 10 years ago, fine wine was almost exclusively limited to the classic regions of France and Italy. Today, the demand from consumers for new styles and tastes has brought obscure regions such as Tenerife and Mount Etna into focus. Even Beaujolais, once written off as a poor cousin of Burgundy, only good for cheap, fruity wines has had a renaissance with many quality producers making top end wines. If you were to look at the fine wine sales at Roberson in 2008, Bordeaux would probably account for 90% or more. These days it is much more diverse, with Italy, Burgundy and Champagne growing steadily. There is one region above all which has been rising exponentially, USA. We are very proud that we discovered the growing trend of top quality fine wine being produced in the US before many others in the UK did. We now import from over 30 producers in the US, with the likes of Kongsgaard, Corison, Mayacamas, Kutch and Domaine de la Cote, amongst others, firmly challenging the very best wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. While trends and styles are constantly changing the thirst for luxury products and the finer things in life seems to continue unabated. As one of London’s finest wine merchants, we will continue to seek out the very best examples for you to enjoy. To receive further information about Roberson's Private Client service, and to receive exclusive fine wine offers, please contact Paul Williamson.
Celebrate and Win
Celebrate our 10th birthday and win a magnum of 2003 La Réserve de Léoville-Barton RobersonWine.com turned 10 years old on Monday 10th September. It's been a great ten years, and as part of our celebration, we're giving away magnums of the first wine we ever sold online, La Réserve de Léoville-Barton 2003, every week for the rest of September. The 2003 magnums have only become better with age (just like us...) - and this superb Bordeaux is drinking beautifully now. To be in with a chance of winning, place an order through the Roberson website, and you'll be automatically entered into the draw for that week. If you don't win that week, don't worry, simply place another order any other week during September and you'll have another chance to win. Good luck!
Longing for Liguria
Peering over the shoulder of my fellow commuter I see a familiar picture in the Guardian Travel section entitled ‘Genovese Made Easy’; it’s a picture of a quaint fishing village nestled between the hills and the sea. The buildings are an array of different colours, from terra-cotta red to a striking yellow. They embody the ruggedness of their surroundings and are weathered from their constant exposure to the intense sun, wind and rain. I sigh. I was just there, far away from the delayed District Line and the crowd of overheated passengers. There must be a strand of Ligurian ancestry in my DNA and I think it’s somewhere in my stomach. This was my 3rd trip to the Cinque Terre, just south of Genova, and now that I know where and what to eat I venture out beyond the ‘easy’ tourist restaurants to the local spots where I practice my mix of Italian-Spanish. It’s a bit more of an effort but it’s always worth it, I get to eat and drink like a local! The Cinque Terre is located within La Spezia province and is the home of pesto, Torta di Verdura, Forinata - a chickpea flour pancake baked in the woodfire oven and covered in local sweet cheese - and of course Ciuppin, the traditional fish stew of Liguria. The simplicity of the food is inspiring; the quality of the ingredients makes me envious. The villages of the Cinque Terre are surrounded by ancient, terraced farm land that carves out the mountainsides and blankets them in green. Tomatoes, vineyards and trees - fig, olive and pine - cover the hillsides in all directions, just take one of the many well marked paths from one village to the next and before you know it you will be wondering through the steep vineyards of the Cinque Terre DOC. Zig-zagging over the walking trails are monorail tracks used for harvesting the local grape varieties like Bosco, Albarola and the more well-known Vermentino. Upon harvesting, some of the grapes are then laid out on straw to dry, making the sugar super-concentrated, together they make up the blend in the sweet Sciacchetra wines that are served around the villages with local cheese and desserts. Although rarely seen in the UK, the dry wines of the Cinque Terre have more than a few relatives available here in London, like one of my favourites from Tuscany: Fattoria Kappa ‘Etabeta’. Etabeta and onion focaccia with pesto - the perfect snack for a Sunday afternoon in the garden! My favourite pesto recipe: 50g fresh basil leaves 65g freshly grated Grana Padano 240ml extra virgin olive oil 45g pine nuts (organic - to avoid pine nut mouth) 3 garlic cloves minced 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Blend and serve.
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.
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