Operations assistant Max Edge continues his adventures in £10+ wines. Don't miss his previous post: Breaking Bacchus. Put a zin(g) in your step Something occurred to me recently. By actively buying wine only in the £6-8 bracket, I had been neglecting the 4th biggest wine growing nation in the world – the USA. You can bet your bottom dollar that is a lot of wine. Perhaps this ignorance had been influenced by some of the typical stereotypes associated with American Wine: Either it’s way too expensive, Or it’s under £6, found in abundance and probably best left on the shelf. So, in my next venture beyond the £10 threshold I shall heed the advice of the Pet Shop Boys and “Go West” to find an answer to the question: does delicious, great value American wine exist? The answers are fairly easy to find at Roberson. Having retained the title of International Wine Challenge Specialist Merchant of the Year for USA for the seventh consecutive year, our USA portfolio represents some of the most outstanding, respected producers, with quality wines across the entire price range. The difficulty comes in choosing which one to try. Roberson has a wonderful selection of wines in the £10-20 range. Cabernet Sauvignons & Zinfandels from Viano Vineyards and Marrietta Cellars, and Pinot Noirs by Backhouse and Moobuzz all represent astonishing value for money. My decision didn’t take too long. After all, there was an occasion in the diary and food to be matched with. A helping hand came in the form of a text message from Dad earlier in the week. “Saturday; Barbecue; Leg of Lamb; Bring Wine”. The Gastronomic cogs of my brain got to work. I’ve always had an affinity with the dark-skinned, high ripening varietals found all over Italy, and if I wasn’t venturing to the “land of the free” my go-to choice would be a Negroamaro or Primitivo of Puglia, where the warm Mediterranean climate creates super-ripe, medium-bodied wines with jammy dark berry fruits; perfect for the Summer season. A barbecue calls for something a little more full-bodied to spar with though. American red wine; full-bodied; high acidity; jammy dark red fruits; subtle peppery notes. There’s a clear winner. ZINFANDEL! I’m not ashamed to admit I only recently learnt that Zinfandel and Primitivo are more-or-less the same grape. I might be getting a few ‘side-eyes’ from my colleagues for this admission but expanding my knowledge of wine is the one of the reasons I traded in my bar blade and waiter’s friend. And until now, I didn’t drink American wine, so perhaps they’ll forgive me. I took the plunge and went for Sobon Estate Zinfandel, The Rocky Top (£19 a bottle). Oomph! The wine has a great complex nose of summer red berries (cherries, redcurrants & cranberries), notes of white pepper and cassia bark and has fantastic structure and depth. It’s one of those wines that lets you know you’re in for a good time. Thanks to the high elevation of the vineyard, the wine is fresh with great acidity, full bodied and rich along with some gentle spice. A perfect partner for the food being served up. Barbecued Moroccan Lamb Leg with Chickpea Tagine The lamb leg is boned and butterflied to allow for a quick cook time and marinated in a spice rub made of ras el hanout, hot paprika, cumin, pepper, parsley, coriander. These spices help create a mild aromatic flavour and form a tasty blackened crust when left over hot coals, while the meat is tender and pink inside. Served alongside chickpea tagine, packed with flavours of the Mediterranean and North Africa and a simple wild rocket salad. The jammy fruit notes in the wine perfectly complement the spiced crust and juicy pink lamb. Zinging acidity cuts through the naturally fatty meat and the velvety finish makes for easy drinking in the summer sun. At 14.5% however, I’d advise against committing to evening activities. Fortunately, I’d learnt my lesson from last time and came prepared with a second bottle. Evening sorted.
In search of Provencal perfection
Seeking Rosé from Paris to Provence. Provence rosé isn’t just for summer. To be fair, it never has been in my household. Rosé has always been a superb food matching wine, best drunk on the back of a super-yacht with that morning's catch of fresh lobster (so I’m told), as much as it’s an aperitif for those long summer afternoons. So, when we decided to bolster our already award-winning range, I felt I was born for the job. There’s only one place to go and look for Provence rosé, and unfortunately that is Paris. Luckily for me I arrived on a particularly dreary, cold winter's day at the annual Wine Paris trade event. A far, far cry from my imaginary yacht but my focus was clear, find the best possible rosé I could from well over 100 or so producers. Coeur Clémentine stood out from the start, not only because it tasted like pure Provençal pale nectar, but also because I had seen the label before and couldn’t for the life of me remember where. It’s not all miserable trade tastings in conference centres. Sometimes we do get to travel to these regions and taste from the horse’s mouth. A visit to Minuty last year involved a whistle-stop tour of some superb eateries, an excellent opportunity to see what the local sommeliers recommend and wax lyrical about. And just like that, staring down at my iPhone was a picture of Coeur Clémentine ‘Côtes de Provence’ Rosé with a plate of freshly prepared charcuterie in the background. I’ve lost enough tasting booklets over the years to know that snapping a picture of anything worthwhile is the way forward, so I at least knew the fact it was on my phone was a good sign. Fast forward to the summer and I’m incredibly excited to welcome owners Steve Veytia and Pierre Arosteguy to the Roberson family. The dry Côtes du Provence is a heavenly example of what Provence Rosé is all about. Delicate aromas of wild strawberry, almost floral with lovely bone-dry finish. They are also one of the few producers in Provence to make a sparkling rosé. Made from a selection of Grenache vineyards chosen extremely carefully, this is going to be the next big thing, after still Provence rosé that is. We currently have a range of Coeur Clémentine wines in stock now.
How to pair Rosé wine with vegetarian food
This year, for the first time, Roberson Wine has won a Highly Commended award in the International Wine Challenge's Rosé Specialist Merchant of the Year competition! Pulling together one of the UK’s most exciting ranges of rosé wines was no mean feat, but what’s the point of having all these award-winning wines if there’s no food to enjoy them with? The great thing about rosé, and often overlooked, is how well the subtle flavours pair with food - especially vegetarian dishes. So we've pulled together some delicious veggie recipes to pair with 6 rosés that we feel landed us that coveted award. All these recipes lend themselves to alfresco dining, and don’t be afraid to get those veggies on the BBQ! Afterall, the BBQ isn’t just for overcooked (or undercooked) sausages! Domaine Pierre Chavin ‘Pierre Zero’ Alcohol Free Rosé With a nose full of fresh wild strawberries and a palate with subtle hints of rhubarb, we think a recipe with a nod to the tropical fruits would be a perfect fit. The grapes for this wine are harvested at night, to retain all the natural freshness in the fruit. So, recipes with lots of crisp fruit like watermelon work well. Recipes Grilled vegetable salad with pomegranate and mint Grilled watermelon, feta and tomato salad Grilled artichokes with caper mint sauce Château Minuty 'M de Minuty' Rosé 2018 With a direct pressing process, Château Minuty was the first to give this pale colour to its rosés. A light rosé with aromas of orange peels and red currant that will go very well with pizzas to remind us of the Mediterranean Sea. Trust me, nothing can beat the combination of fresh ingredients and aromatic wine. Recipes Provencal pizza Margherita vegan pizza Mediterranean pizza Broc Cellars Love Rosé 2017 Located at the East of Napa Valley, this natural wine is an interesting one! With a blend like this, the characteristics of the wine are perfect for enjoying both Trousseau's texture and Zinfandel's spices. This complex rosé is the reincarnation of a juicy watermelon of summer, pleasant notes with salad! Recipes Asian salad Apple and grilled goat cheese salad Vietnamese vegan spring rolls London Cru 'Rosaville Road' Rosé 2018 With this 100% English wine, you will no longer have to look overseas for your rosé fix. This Surrey Pinot Noir will satisfy your summer expectations with pink grapefruits and fresh strawberries! And thanks to lees ageing, the palate has a creamy texture. And what could be better than English asparagus and rosé at a picnic? Recipes Asparagus and cheese tart Asparagus and red onion tart Asparagus salad La Tour Melas 'Idylle' Rosé 2018 Want to escape the city? Why not turn to a biodynamic rosé from Greece? Very old vines producing rosé wines with great acidity as well as wonderful aromas of pomegranate and cherries! I can only recommend Greek meals for a perfect combination. Recipes Tomatokeftedes Greek rice-stuffed tomatoes Traditional Greek salad Château d’Esclans, Whispering Angel Rosé 2018 This popular rosé is an interesting blend of different grapes from La Motte en Provence. A perfect bouquet of red fruits, peaches and blossom orange! A long finish with hints of tangy lemon. Something to delight your taste buds with exotic pairing! Recipes Roasted zucchini, corn and tomatoes tacos Spicy black bean tacos Smoky tofu tortilla
Unwinding in the Wind
2019 Vintage with Julien Sunier Just a few days ago, we were sitting on the deck of Julien Sunier’s beautiful house overlooking the village of Avenas in the heart of the Beaujolais cru. Julien has spent 10 years renovating this property, which he heats with logs, and plumbs from a spring well. Julien is committed to organic winemaking and lives as he works with a respect for nature and in pursuit of harmony. As we unwind together over a glass of Fleurie, he reflects on the 2019 vintage. “We are in the flowering period… the most vulnerable time for any winemaker as it will determine the volume of grapes we can harvest. “Today, you can feel this strong, warm southerly wind. We don’t like this kind of wind as it can mean a storm is coming. If that storm brings hail it can be very bad for the crop as it can damage the buds which will reduce the number of grapes the vines produce. “I’m in the vineyards at five in the morning and every day I can see the new growth. At this time of year, it can be as much as 50cm a week, so it means we must work very fast to tie the vines to keep them controlled and protected from the winds. “But… we do need the rain. It is very dry this year: the grass along the roadsides is yellow and brittle like straw. It is like the end of summer. So, in the next week some gentle rain would be very good for the crops. “If we had another year like 2018, that would be amazing. The conditions were so good: the best we’ve had in thirty years. We had lots of excellent quality fruit and this really shines through in the latest release.” We currently have a range of Julien Sunier wines in stock from the 2017 vintage - 2018s arriving later this year.
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.
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