An Extreme-ly Good Year
Buying Assistant Marion Adam gets the lowdown from our European producers on the 2018 vintage - a year of weather extremes. 2018 Vintage Review 2018 was the year of all excess in the UK. From the snowfalls of "The Beast from the East" in late February, to having the hottest summer on record, Mother Nature was full of surprises. But imagine being a winemaker and having your whole business depend on the weather’s whim. Checking the forecast for them is not just about knowing if you need to take your umbrella with you on your way out, but it really dictates the planning of their production. This year though, our producers have been lucky in mainland Europe, although the harvests started very early - two weeks earlier than usual in most places. The record was set in Rheinnessen and Mosel in Germany, where the wineries started on the first week of August, 6 days before the previous record in 2011. According to Rudolf Trossen, "it's the best we've had in 20 years." All over France, winemakers have also been raving about the exceptional harvest: “There will be structure and length, after this incredible Spring, a superb vintage.” - Sophie Holzberg from Château Franc-Cardinal. “The bunches were beautiful, not a rotten grape and optimal maturity! I think we will have a generous vintage with a lot of fruit, a great aromatic purity and lots of finesse.” - Bastien Guerrin from Domaine Guerrin & Fils “A perfect trio for 2018 : full maturity, fantastic quality grapes, and an abundant harvest.” - Dominique Piron, Domaine Piron Lameloise It wasn't all a tale of perfection though. There were some difficulties on the Atlantic coast and the South of France where Spring was extremely wet, resulting in mildew attacks, which translated into a smaller harvest. Fortunately, the recent flooding happened once the harvest was over. In addition, very localised hailstorms on the right bank of Bordeaux have destroyed the whole production of Chateau Falfas. Winemaker Veronique Cochran said it happened just as the flowering was finished so there was nothing left: “this is part of our job, thankfully the last few years I had a good harvest, so I am not in too much trouble”. To conclude, 2018 is recognised by winemakers as a great vintage from Mosel to Bordeaux and similar for Italy and Spain. It was marked by a long summer with no rain during harvest time, creating perfectly hygienic conditions for grape quality. Volumes are higher, and the grapes will be riper with a balanced acidity thanks to the earlier picking.
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.
Dosnon at Cigalon
Dosnon at Cigalon Christmas is coming soon and Cigalon Restaurant has chosen to celebrate this magical period with one of the most exciting wine regions in France: Champagne. As part of this celebration, Cigalon will be presenting a special tasting menu to show off the incredible quality of Dosnon's Champagne range on Tuesday 27th November. A model for the future of small, artisanal Champagne houses, Dosnon is the brainchild of Davy Dosnon who grew up in this beautiful region of rolling hills, wheat fields, and Champagne vines. Davy studied viticulture and worked in top Burgundy wine houses for years before returning to his native Champagne to work for Moutard and Serge Mathieu. The menu and matches will be as follows: Scallop Carpaccio, Pear & Pickled Crosnes / Récolte Brute, Extra Brut Confit Trout, Trout Eggs, Parsnips & Cardamom / Récolte Blanche, Blanc de Blancs Roasted Landais Chicken Breast, Salsify & Kumquat / Récolte Noire, Blanc de Noirs Vanilla Fromage Blanc, Cranberry Sangria & Lemon Balm / Récolte Rose, Rosé To reserve your table and receive a complimentary glass of Champagne, please contact George at Cigalon on 020 7242 8373 and mention Roberson Wine when booking.
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.
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