Breaking the £10 Barrier with Bacchus A few years ago, returning home from university and staring at the blank, terrifying canvas of career ambiguity that lay ahead of me, I decided to apply for the most sought after of Grad Schemes. Bar Work. I’d always been a keen home cook, passionate for the food and drink industry. Downtime in the restaurants would be spent at the pass with the Chef, discussing anything from the perfect searing time for a medium-rare steak, to the trendiest fruit to use in a salad (definitely still pomegranate). Since joining the Roberson family in March of this year, I have spent the last 3 months adjusting to an office lifestyle. Fortunately for me, I now have a good amount of overdue evening time to be selfish, reserved purely for doing the things I love. Like going to the supermarket, cooking tasty food from scratch, and washing it down with a glass of wine. My approach to wine has always been open-minded but limited by a distorted perception of what is value, never straying beyond £6 - £8 a bottle. So join me as I cross into the unknown territory of the double digit price tag. Let’s start close to home. And I mean literally. Just down the stairs from our office into London Cru. There’d been some buzz in the office about the Baker St Bacchus 2018. Many consider Bacchus to be England’s best grape for still wines - and this one is from England's so-called ‘Vintage of the Century’. “Aromas of Elderflower and gooseberry,” and “zingy acidity alongside luscious stone fruits in the mid-palate.” This looked like as good a place to start as any. So, I hurdled excitedly for the first time over the £10 fence. The ground underfoot remained steady. My mind raced on to the evening’s dinner. If four years’ worth of lunchbreaks picking the brains of chefs had taught me anything, it was that a Bacchus like this would be best enjoyed alongside fresh white fish. A hop and skip to the North End Road market that lunchtime flooded my mind with suggestions for the ideal cuisine to pair with this stunning English Bacchus. Light wines with zippy acidity and dynamite tropical fruits lean heavily toward Asian food, especially Thai. The complex blend of the sour, sweet, salty, and spicy, as well as bitter and aromatic mean the wine needs to have a sufficient personality to add to the chorus. There’d been a recipe I’d been dying to try for a while, a bit of a showstopper, and with some friends coming over, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for a Thai feast. Crispy-Seabass with a sour fruit and peanut dressing – marinated overnight in Thai Red Curry paste and blitzed coriander stalks (scoring the flesh to allow the marinade to work its magic). Deep-fried whole, the skin blisters and becomes crispy with soft delicate flesh underneath. Topped with a delicious sweet, sour, salty dressing made up of fish sauce, lime juice, chunks of pink grapefruit, light muscovado sugar & sesame oil, chopped toasted peanuts and freshly torn mint and coriander. Served alongside an aubergine Red Curry, Jasmine rice and Thai beef salad with a seared sirloin. As we tucked in, a relative quietness developed around the dinner table, allowing for an introduction of the Baker St Bacchus as I poured our glasses. Had I opted for the usual £6 - £8 purchase, the wine would have been lost among the flavours on our plates and drowned by the dining table conversation. Instead, the Bacchus jumped around our mouths like an overexcited toddler at Disneyland, cutting through the ensemble of flavour and providing mouth-watering refreshment for the next mouthful. The only downside - the bottle was swiftly emptied, and I hadn’t bought two! Stay tuned for more of Max’s double-digit wine adventures.
Rosé Serving Temperature
At what temperature should you serve rosé? Devotees of Will Lyons’ Twitter feed will have followed a storm in a wine glass in recent days, as some on social media took issue with his Sunday Times article on rosé. Particular umbrage was taken by some who believed he had advised that rosé is best served “piercingly cold”, arguing that doing so strips a wine of its finer flavours and prevents enjoyment of its full complexity. But is there such a thing as a perfect temperature at which to serve rosé? Is it, for example, suited more to treatment as a light, Beaujolais-style red, which is delicious enjoyed after just half an hour in the fridge? Or should your bottle be mercilessly chilled to within a few degrees of absolute zero and kept between pouring in a bucket of liquid nitrogen? We’ve canvassed the opinions of three of Roberson’s most passionate rosé-drinking staff, each with their own expert take on the issue. The Ex-Sommelier Shana Dilworth is Roberson’s poacher turned gamekeeper, having worked previously as a sommelier at fine dining establishments including Orrery and Skylon. Here’s her foodie take on the rosé temperature issue: “The temperature you serve rosé at really depends on the setting. “If it’s a hot, sunny day and you’re enjoying a picnic, I think it’s absolutely fine to stick the bottle in an ice bucket and serve it well-chilled. “On the other hand, if it’s a Sunday evening and you’re serving rosé with food like a Tuna Niçoise salad, it really needs to be warmer to enjoy all the nuances of flavour. In this scenario, I’d treat the rosé like you would a light Beaujolais and serve at around 12°C. “Most white wines would typically be served at 7° - 9°, so it’s clearly quite a bit warmer.” The Winemaker Alex Hurley is Roberson’s in-house winemaker, responsible for making our London Cru wines, and had a major hand in production of our 2018 Rosaville Rd English Rosé. Unsurprisingly as a winemaker, he has a strong opinion: “Serve rosé too cold and you lose all the character. No wine fridge at optimal serving temperature would ever be set at 4 or 5 degrees, so why would you serve a rosé ice-cold? “Yes, very heavily chilled rosé is easy to drink and refreshing, but the flavour is completely subdued. Why even bother drinking wine? You might as well make a gin and tonic. “As winemakers we go to huge lengths to bring as much expression to your glass as possible. Chill a wine too much and you’re undoing all of our hard work! “Serve as you would a chilled red, at about 12° - 14°C.” The Buyer Keith Kirkpatrick is Roberson’s Head of Agencies and Buying, and has previously worked in restaurant wine sales. Here’s his view: “For me you drink rosé when you want the red fruit flavours of a red wine, but with the refreshment and easy-drinking character of a white. So why wouldn’t you serve it well-chilled? “I mainly drink rosé as a ‘getting-ready’ wine – when I’m cooking a meal or setting up the barbecue. I’m not looking for something that requires concentration. “I also love the south of France, and there’s nothing better than sitting on a sun-dappled lunch terrace with a plate of langoustines. But even then, the outside temperature means that you want the wine as cold as possible. “Treat your rosé like you would a refreshing white wine and don't take it too seriously.” So there you have it. Either chill your rosé, or don't. Treat rosé like a white wine, or don't. It's up to you.
California Vintage Update
This week Roberson Agency Buyer Keith Kirkpatrick hears from Jill Matthiasson about how the latest vintage in California is going. California Vintage 2018/2019 Jill Matthiasson: In the Napa Valley, we have a wet season and a dry season, and all of our rain comes in a 6-month period between November and May. Some years we get a lot of rain, some years we don’t. This year we got a lot. Now that the rainy season has ended and the weather has warmed up, everyone is hard at work in the vineyards. The shoots are growing like crazy; we are mowing down the waist-high cover crops and we have three tractors going non-stop. The crop looks excellent, lots of clusters on happy vines. We leased two more small Cabernet Vineyards, one on Mt. Veeder and one in Oak Knoll, so we will have more blending sources for our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which is quickly becoming our flagship wine. The Mt. Veeder vineyard is already CCOF certified organic, we will start farming the other new vineyard organically, and we finally convinced our last non-organic fruit-buying source to convert to organic, so we are very excited that for 2019 we will reach our goal of 100% organically farmed fruit! In other news, we opened our tasting room at our new winery, and are now welcoming visitors every day of the week. If you’re coming out this way any time soon… we’d love to show you around our new place. We made all of our wine in the new winery last year except our rosé, with all indigenous fermentations, and everything went great. We’re so happy to finally have the whole process, from farming through to winemaking, under our complete control. If you’re interested in seeing how this year’s wines might turn out, browse our range of Matthiasson wines now.
Spring into action
Wondering what wines to pair with spring's seasonal ingredients? Roberson food and wine matching aficionado David Adamick makes some suggestions. Wine Pairings for Spring Ingredients This should put a little one in your step now that the season’s arrived, and with it some great new additions to the Roberson portfolio: Jurançon Sec, London Cru English Bacchus/Pinot Noir Rosé, Jasnières, Coteaux-de-Loire, Cahors and Lalande-de-Pomerol to keep us busy when taking on spring’s seasonal offerings. These being morels, cockles, winkles, oysters, sardines, crab, spring lamb and venison to name a few. At a glance, things for the most part are looking fresh and delicate, where wines of elegance and restraint will find their best expression. Shellfish love everything from Champagne to Sauvignon/Chenin Blanc to Picpoul de Pinet and it’s always a minor joy to find more obscure, regional alternatives to the old favourites. Step up regional co-op Cave de Gan’s ‘Brut Océan’ Jurançon Sec, a cuvée of 100% Gros Manseng, a main local varietal from the Jurançon appellation near the town of Pau in the extreme south-west of France. All hand-harvested fruit of certified raisonée farming, fermented in stainless steel tank, ‘Brut Océan’ offers crisp, white stone fruit, a slight waxy and nuttiness and underlined by saline minerality, having both the acidity and definition to meet the delicacy of the season’s frutti di mare, and yet rounded with more body than you might expect. And as with Picpoul, Gros Manseng is perfect with grilled sardines – they also being in season. No less so Roberson’s soon-to-arrive wines from Pascal Janvier, whose Jasnières (Cuvée du Silex) and Coteaux-de-Loire give us striking acidity and a precision of fruit ideal with more delicate crustacea: pale, straw-hued, light and also delicate; nicely balanced and quite fresh; both cuvées have the slightest residual sugar that harmonises well with crab’s natural sweetness. And continuing the elegance is the returning London Cru Baker Street Bacchus, fresh from Kent/West Sussex vineyards: expressive gooseberry and elderflower aromas and a hint of freshly cut meadow. On the palate is great length, crisp acidity and wonderfully textured finish from aging on lees. Hand-picked fruit and gently pressed in whole bunches to preserve the delicate aroma and freshness, the majority fermented in stainless steel, with 10% fermented in barrel to help build texture on the mid palate. Close on the heels of Bacchus is the new Rosaville Rd Rosé, 100% Pinot Noir rosé from Surrey’s Greyfriars Vineyard. This will offer seasonal fare aromas of pink grapefruit and fresh strawberries with an elegant textural quality from time ageing on lees. A luminous, pale salmon hue it has also subtle savoury Pinot notes to compliment beautifully the natural delicacies of spring. As for reds, well, lamb loves ‘em all. But given its fattiness, we can do with an extra bit of tannin for which our first stop will be France’s own Mendoza -- Cahors. That is to say, the original heartland of Malbec. The twist here, however, is that Roberson’s new Prieuré de Cénac Cahors is made by a long-time winemaker in Argentina, Hervé Fabre, offering a wonderful expression to counter the relative glut of South American Malbec in the UK market. Fresh, crunchy black fruit with wonderful grip; firm structure, lovely sweet spice and deep, earthy flavours with smoky, liquorice notes. Quite literally, Prieuré de Cénac Malbec is a most welcome refreshment from what is often enough the heavy-going, overripe and alcoholic New World offerings that abound. Finally, Châteaux Moncets and Chambrun, a coupled establishment of the Lalande-de-Pomerol appellation will be a final and ideal consideration as their Merlot-based, Right Bank wines meet both the weight and richness of lamb and venison, providing superb grip and acidity for counter balance. The 2014 Chateau Moncets is 66/32/2% Merlot, Cab-Franc, Cab Sauv offering more verve, freshness, red/black fruit and heightened acidity cleaning up nicely with ¾ used oak elegantly interwoven. A gutsier and opulent 2011 Château Chambrun has a predominance of Merlot (83%) with the remainder Cabernet Franc, offering slightly smoky, blackcurrant and blackberry fruit on the nose with silky tannins, sweet spice, fresh black fruit on the palate, finishing long and clean. With 50/50% new/old wood this time (also 16 months on) both wines display a more modern freshness and purity of fruit over oak and extraction. May your spring table creak!
Roberson's Best Rosé
Love rosé, but want to find out how to sort the pink from the plonk? Read on.... What makes a great rosé? Time was that rosé was nothing more than a money-spinning secondary product made by profit-hungry red wine producers. By bleeding off some of the juice during fermentation (known as the ‘saignée method’ - pronounced "san-yay"), your red became more concentrated, and you had some cheap pinkish juice that could be quickly vinified and sold for cash without the need for ageing. Nowadays the tables have turned, and rosé has become so popular that winemakers from in-demand regions like Provence are giving up on reds to concentrate solely on producing rosé. Yet success can be a double-edged sword. Such is the fashion for Provence’s pale, dry, delicate style of rosé that the number of brands has exploded, fruit prices have started to soar, and quality can sometimes play second fiddle to hitting a supermarket price point. So how do you sort the pink from the plonk? We’ve picked five of our best rosés, each of which is guaranteed to transport you to warm summer days and sun-dappled evenings. M de Minuty Rosé Château Minuty’s ‘M’ has been our best-selling rosé for years, and no wonder – with its iconic bottle design and strawberry-scented fruit, it’s the archetype of Provence rosé. While many producers in Provence have started to explore less favoured areas in search of cheaper fruit, Minuty only sources grapes from the best Côtes de Provence vineyards. M de Minuty is designed to be enjoyed as young and fresh as possible, so it’s always best to go for the newest vintage you can get your hands on. Fortunately, we’re Minuty’s official UK importer – so you’re always guaranteed to get the best price and freshest rosé at Roberson. Whispering Angel Whispering Angel by Chateau d’Esclans has arguably contributed more than any other wine to the incredible success enjoyed by Provence rosé today – so much so that it’s responsible for 20% of all Provence rosé imports into the USA. There’s a reason for the success – and it isn’t just the wine’s pretty bottle and evocative name. Crack open a bottle of Whispering Angel and you’re guaranteed fine, ethereal fruit and beautifully soft, silky texture. Minuty Rose et Or Rose et Or is one of the finest rosés in Provence, made from 30 year old vines planted immediately next to Château Minuty itself. It’s made solely using the ‘pressurage direct’ method, where red grapes are pressed and then the juice is left for a short time in contact with the skins, gently extracting colour. Timing is critical - too short and your rosé has no colour – too long and your rosé is a red. Fortunately Minuty has mastered the technique, and the Rose et Or is a wine to rival any in the world. Subtle, dry and beautifully well-balanced, it can be enjoyed by itself, or served as a proper foodie wine with seafood or charcuterie. London Cru Rosaville Rd Rosé The 2018 vintage is all about England. The summer that never seemed to end brought our wines previously unheard of levels of fruit ripeness and intensity, to match with the beautiful minerality that comes from growing vines on our chalky slopes. London Cru’s rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir grown on Surrey’s North Downs. With aromas of pink grapefruit and fresh strawberries, this is light, fresh and incredibly moreish, finishing with silky texture from time ageing on lees. Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé If there’s one English winery to watch, it’s Simpsons Wine Estate in Kent. Located just south of Canterbury, this area has the country's best wine-growing combination of chalky soils, low rainfall and high number of sunshine hours during the growing season – all contributing to the region’s fame as the garden of England. The 2018, from 100% Pinot Noir, has beautifully rounded texture, notes of citrus and nectarine, and is superbly mouth-watering. Finishing with a burst of minerals, this is the ultimate sunny-evening pick-me-up, or could be matched with fine English seafood. Cheers!
Designing Minuty Limited Edition
This summer’s M de Minuty Limited Edition Rosé has been launched by Château Minuty and is on sale now. The Limited Edition bottle is prettier than ever this year, featuring beautiful new artwork by acclaimed British designer Ruby Taylor. Inspiring The Limited Edition Rosé The new M de Minuty Limited Edition design effortless captures the feel of summer in St Tropez, featuring shells, seafood and sunglasses – all of which match perfectly with the beautifully pale, delicate and refreshing rosé contained within. One sip of M de Minuty Rosé is all it takes to transport you to long summer days and warm Mediterranean breezes – and the Limited Edition bottle is sure to set the scene at any picnic, barbecue, or garden party this summer. But what about the artist behind the design? We met up with Ruby Taylor to find out a little bit more about drawing inspiration from Provence and the design process behind the new Limited Edition bottle. An Interview with Ruby Taylor Roberson Wine: Hi Ruby, we love this year’s Minuty Limited Edition bottle. You obviously have an appreciation for all things Provençal - what was it about Provence that inspired you the most? Ruby Taylor: I love the colours and the atmosphere, the mix of old and new. There was so much amazing food and wine, it was incredible. RW: What was your favourite food and wine experience in Provence? Ruby Taylor: I think La Verdoyante was probably my favourite, the view was amazing! RW: So were you a wine drinker before the Minuty project? Ruby Taylor: Absolutely! I’ve always been partial to a glass of Taittinger, although M de Minuty is now my tipple of choice, obviously. RW: Glad to hear it! You obviously spent quite a bit of time in Provence, gathering inspiration for this year’s Limited Edition Rosé design. Do you have any insider tips, that a typical visitor might not know about? Ruby Taylor: I had lots of fun when we hired a Mini Moke - a classic little open-top car a bit like a tiny jeep. It’s a really fun way to zip around and see the sights. RW: It must be an unusual challenge, creating a design for a bottle. Did you have to approach the artwork differently to other projects you’ve worked on? Ruby Taylor: I try to approach all projects similarly, sketching ideas first and then building up to a final design. This was a bit trickier in a sense that the ‘canvas’ was a bottle so there were some constraints as to how it could be printed, which meant there was more planning involved. RW: So do you now have a lifetime supply of M de Minuty Rosé? Ruby Taylor: Ah that’s a good point! I’ll have to check with Minuty! Chateau Minuty’s 2018 M de Minuty Limited Edition Rosé is on sale now.
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