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 (“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.
Cool Climate Classic
Our Consumer Sales and Events ambassador, Lona Jones muses over the changing fortunes of German Riesling. Riesling - A steep slope to stardom German wines made an impression on me in the 80’s, with sweet, easily quaffable Liebfraumilch, Piesporter Michelsberg and Blue Nun being the mainstay of enlightened neighbours' drinks cabinets. Times and tastes have moved on, however, but the negative image of low quality, sugary German wines appears slow to shake off. But, what are we missing? The Victorians valued German Hock wines as part of a holy trinity, alongside Claret and Champagne, and a Rudesheim Riesling was paired with poached salmon and mousseline sauce, in the first class dining room of the Titanic. Luckily, German wines and Rieslings, in particular, have been championed by influential wine critics like Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson for some time and at Roberson, we feel it’s high time to celebrate this fine grape. In July, we're focussing on 31 days of Riesling. My favourite styles are bone-dry ‘Trocken’ or GG ‘Great Growth’ (equivalent to Grand Crus in Germany). Dry Rieslings are naturally high in fruity acidity, without the harshness attached to some other high acid grapes. Aromatic and often low in alcohol, they ripen late so, in cool climates, can only attain optimal ripeness in the best positioned vineyards. Try our delicious Weingut Weschler Riesling Trocken as an example. Despite my initial introductions, I have tentatively re-visited off dry and sweet versions of Riesling and can honestly say, these wines are a world away from the bulk versions popularised last century. Kabinett styles show punchy acidity with a hint of residual sugar and are extremely refreshing. Auslese is made from hand picked ripe fruit. This style can be fermented dry or ‘Feinherb’ which means ripe and balanced with some sweetness - as with the Green Capsule Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese from Markus Molitor. More often these are big complex, sweet wines that can age for decades. Markus Molitor's Gold Capsule series Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese is amongst the best there is. Whatever your preferred style, there’s no better time to acquaint yourself with the delights the Rhine has to offer and indulge in cool-climate, quality wines.
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