Tuesday, 20 December 2011

the year overall

The year 2011, well what a rush for all hey, in every way you look at it.
In many ways many of us have had it hard and ja hard. It's still not what we were used to and I think it will still be some time before we might find those times back.

So it comes to each and everyone of us to kind of find our inner-sanctuary and ability to look further.
Looking through history, we humans have hit a stag ever so often. Some were light and not so frightened some were hard and never really experienced for some generations our generations.

My year was turbulent in all directions, on a work level there was some big aspirations which turned out to be more like a big fat turnip, well one in particular. On the other hand I have met incredible new exciting people and I have had a wine full discovering year.

Many amazing wines have touched my lips in 2011, with one exceptional and truly rare, unique one.

As I am consulting several clients and buy wines for them, I have pushed and succeed to let them taste wines that are for us wine dictionaries, would be a total normal thing to taste, but for the passion wine enthusiast who is setting and learning the wonders and marvels of the wine world were total discoveries.

One beauty that I have able'd to let enjoyed the noble novelist was the marvelous Chateau Trotanoy 2000 Pomerol. It gives a kick and flurry to the palete that smiles were all around and orders for more were straight on demand. Truly this small Chateau, named the little brother of Petrus has really no doubt to hold this honor.

Also there were many vintages of Chateau Haut-Brion, the less great vintage of 2002, the superb 2000, the well balanced and intriguing 1996. A somewhat roller coaster of craft, creation and fighting, fighting to produce a wine of high quality and excellence. If and I did say "IF" you can afford this Chateau, this 1st growth you will discover how smooth, earthy, crafty and talented this king is.

There was of course the all so climbing in price and quality driven especially since the last decade of Chateau Beychevelle, Saint Julien. This is still a very affordable wine a wine that is so lucky to have a dragon boat as emblem, China is nuts for it and the prices have nutted as well. Just keep an eye out as I might be worried that they might trip over and run for China and sell at prices not always justify with the quality/value of the wine. I always say as with everything, all things have a price.

Chateau Pichon Longueville le Baron 1988, which took a good hit to the nose and palate. 1988 was not bad at all as a vintage but if you lay your hands on 1989 it will get a kick out of you with fine allure.

Yes there was also the magnums of 1986 Petrus, yes not the greatest of vintages but you could still distinguish the unique character of its terroir. There was manybe more expectation and attention of this Petrus but still if you took your time, there was sure enough material for you to enjoy and realize that when you hit a top vintage the worlds 8th wonder will most definitely reveal itself.

There was the surprising Rauzan Gassies 2000, which for is discretionary was surprisingly full of life, ambitions, excitement and joy. Truly a wine that made everyone notice what it actually was. Good wine at a very good price.

There was not to forget the Margaux 1996, same here again not the most greatest of works this Chateau has produced but nonetheless it is still a Margaux, just like a Ferrari it is still a Ferrari whatever comes out of the scuderia, something good will always be produced. so for who can offer a little Margaux well don't hesitate as you will drink history.

And last there was something soo special i have to tell you the story.

Its as simple as "La Passion Haut-Brion", yes for those who have not heard of it and there should not be many as it is literary a "secret d'etat" yes it truly is something special.

1.31ha of land planted right on the hill next to the water tower of Haut-Brion. yes right in the middle of Haut-brion a plot of land that belongs to the Allary family and between the late forties to 1978 the wine was produced, made by Haut-Brion of which 1/3 of the grapes was produced into Haut-Brion itself and the rest into La passion Haut-Brion. But in 1978 there was a law that was introduced that no house could produce 2 different wines under one roof by 2 different owners. so from than an agreement has been made that Haut-Brion would take all the grapes to make only Haut-Brion and in exchange Mr Allary would be paid in cases of Haut-Brion. But the lease runned out in 2007 and so since 2008 La Passion Haut-Brion has become a brand and name on its own again.
I have tasted 1978 the last vintage ever produced by Haut-Brion itself and i have the last 2 cases ever on this planet. So for those who might be interested in discovering this unique and last of its kind, well i am willing to share a bottle..... truly it is very special, it is true history.

so how more amazing to end this year with an amazing secret an unique wine.

so for all reading i wish you a happy 2012, with even more greatness to come.

till next time be responsible and wise.


Thursday, 24 November 2011

bar Veloce new york

As each year around this time, i have the encounters of more dinners and more parties to attend, as much for the private house party or a gathering of enthusiasts in a public place that forget about Mr Liver and Miss Kidney. Yes, I admit i see fewer people drinking water around this time than any other time of the year. So its the season of self indulgence i might say.

I try to keep the bottle of Volvic close to hand, a very well balanced water for our system i must say, but I do not drink enough of it at the moment. Usually i give my body over 1.5 liters of the juice of life a day but at the moment i knock the 1 liter and sometimes a bit less. Ai people keep up the water, anyways not here to talk you about that.

Past weekend I had a trip to New-York, yes just for the weekend. Nothing to do with wine, i went to visit someone dear and close to my heart i haven't seen for way to long. Of course knowing what i do wine bars were on the list, but funny enough first night there we ended up in a vodka bar.
Me not the typical vodka drinker had to adept to this different texture perceiving through my palate. I had all sorts of flavors and must admit had a great time, but next following morning tummy was not so happy even so we filled the stomach with solid foods to absorb the amount of liquid entered.
Please don't think i was binch drinking, i am a light weight my friends.

After all that, the next day was more civilized i must say, we visited one wine bar out of the bunch offered. Also I was not in the mood to drag my butt from bar to bar.

Bar Veloce, 176 seventh ave ny, ny (chelsea) http://www.barveloce.com/
A welcoming and soothing place, where stress and worries are brushed away. A simple, effective straight forward designed bar, making you feel comfortable, giving you the motion of spending some quality time.

We were received with a smile and professionalism and were given help where ever needed. We were offered tasters and suggestions a very nice touch, gives the customer a bit of freedom before buying.
The bar is solely orientated in Italian wines, which made me straight away looking for a couple of regions. Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily. After some consultation, tasting, I decided to go for a Sicilian wine.

Antica Tenuta Del Nafro http://www.nanfro.com/
From this winery we had the Frappato (Frappato is a typical grape from Sicily) 2009.
What impressed me to start was its beautiful, rustic, sophisticated, fruity, earthy nose. The aromas of ripe red fruits hits you immediately but than the power of spice and even hints of ash were flirting with your nostrils.

So of course you want to taste it immediately and surprisingly its very light for a wine coming from a very warm part of Europe, but than if there is enough fresh wind during the night it will help to give this wine its lightness and freshness.

It enrolled onto your palate with bursting fresh fruits and a good balance in acidity and even last for a fairly long time.
Overall a very pleasant and enjoyable wine, with character and personality. Price wise $52 was very well placed and I had no objections paying that money, even so its a wine in Europe you get for €11 in a shop.

We ordered some food to nibble, bruschette with prosciutto di Parma, which was tender and very tasty, only i wish it was a bit more substantial.

I was in perfect company and great wine, so if anyone hits New York, looking for a wine bar, bar Veloce is definitely recommended.

So listen to your gut, when it says "hey buddy we should stop here", it has learned me viable lessons. So keep control of the desire at this time of the year we find any excuse to have a drink. a laugh, a great time.

Till next time drink responsibly.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Latour 1976 and Margaux 1996

Yes, we have come to that point in the year were we receive so little light, and like a day like today there is not even a ray of sunshine to be seen. The London fog, well let me tell you living next to the river Thames, the mighty fog is truly and well present around this time in London town. Makes you think mysterious and even smell the mystery of uncertainty, so i had to find the light and certainty somewhere else and boy oh boy what a light it was.

I was at a clients house deciding what wines should be served for the dinner organised that evening.
As usual I went through the whole list of wines that would impress and feast the least of wine enthusiasts, than my clients finger suddenly stopped and pointed at Chateau Latour1976, asking me "what about that?". http://www.chateau-latour.com/index_fr.php#/home

This Iconic property is most likely one of the most known wine brand in the world. It has produced superb vintages like,1928,1945, 1949,1959,1961, 1970,1982,1990, 1996.2000,2001,2002,2003,2005,2009,2010.

So as you can see Latour has been very busy with being very good to excellent, of course that does also influence the price and which wine maker would not want his wine to be seen at the price of a piece Art.

That's what the likes of Latour and a few others have the privileged to be tagged as. Yes, seal your lips to this wine and you will realize that certain things are definitely done better by the hands of man than the hands of god himself.

Chateau Latour 1976, I was a bit hesitating even so '76 was a very hot year only 47 and 49 were hotter, also early that September there was some heavy rain fall which would have brought the grape to an over spill of water and so the sugars and aromas getting slightly diluted. Only the brave would have waited a bit longer and let the late September sun finish off the work evaporate the excess water and re-balance the aromas,sugars and acidity. Still 1976 was not seen as iconic vintage.

So I said to my client it should be drunk, its peak years were ending around 2000 so from now it was a little bit like the feeling of tipping over, not sure when the drop would be.

So we opened it and let it breath for a bit. When I decided that it was ready to be tasted, we were so sudden like two kids, tingling with anticipation. When pouring the colour appearing was still indicating that here we were talking big and experienced. You could see that the dress or robe had its heydays and was now more like a matured aged being than a matured young dynamo, I could not say if we should call Latour a He or a She, well not this vintage.

When the nose got involved you still got the flurry of fruits and dissipated oak and spice, my first word was interesting, which my client asked me why???
I said its a personal thing , its interesting for me as I did not expect it to hold that well.
When you tasted it it was smooth and soft very soft, only to end in the back of your throat dry becoming a bit astringent. It lasted still for some time but became very watery at the end. 

So still wonderful to have tasted a Latour 1976 but not the one to have a fond memory in waiting.

So of course other suggestion came up there was Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996 and 1998 one of my favourite wines, there was of course Lafite 1983, Mouton Rothschild 1996 and Margaux 1996.

I have been waiting to taste the Margaux 1996 for some time now and yes ai ai ai caramba what a slap, smile, love, seduction, power, elegance you name it.

Yes, it needed some breathing and you have to be patient with this wine as it will let you know when its ready to be drank. I had it breath for a good 60 minutes (you can decant it but do it for only about 15 to 18 minutes before serving) anyway if you want to let it breath longer its up to you but don't forget it will sit in your glass for some time as well.

When it was poured into the glass this dark red warm burst of fruit colour shined at you. Made you frown your eyebrows and fill your face with a cheeky smile, like a beautiful mature young woman walking by in the street and you need to turn around as you wanted to be sure, what you saw was so beautiful, than only to smash you head into the lamp post and have birds dancing around your head but still you keep on smiling. Yes Margaux is a she for me and she gives an amazing impression.

Which of course holds you to do one thing and that is to smell. Very composed and balanced, the fruits comes alive one by one, from blackberries, to dark cherries, to redcurrant, lifted by a warmth of spice and soft subtle oak. The smells went up your nostrils, invading your senses, seducing your mind.

When you finally are ready to take the sip, from the moment it touch your lips, you were seduced by its elegance, delicacy and a good injection of power. The enrolment of the fruits and the balance of the acidity very well preserved made this wine feel very young.

She plays and tickles your palette, she has made many grown man quieten for a moment. Through your mind will filter many thoughts which are only reserved for me my dear friends, we all have our journeys, this one becomes personal.

This wine finishes with a linger so impressive you want to pinch yourself, wondering if Charlize Theron was not the woman for who the lamp post was your destination.

So there you go i tasted two myths of which one had already one foot in the grave. Still enjoyed it for the experience and the journey but if you can lay your hands on a Margaux 1996, please do and find a good spot to open her.

Have a thought for me, i promise you will truly walk in the footsteps of giants.

Until next time be safe and drank responsibly.


Monday, 17 October 2011

what about Haut-Brion

So yes, i have been off in the quiet for some time but there has been some ups and downs, some left and rights and yes quite a bit of work.
So the mind and the inspiration was not at rendez-vous point for me to use my fingers and write you a new blog.

But let me tell you what i have been doing. I had the privilege to sip, drink and indulge the beautiful, seductive, indulging, majestic, classy, extremely well performed and up-most unique Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac Leognan 2000.

Well we can say that there is most probably no more experienced wine deities than the Delmas Family. Generation upon generation of family member to family member, the Delmas family have been making Haut-Brion since the 1920s, so they most certainly know the land, vine, mood, wind, rain, inside out.

Haut-Brion in the last century had 4 top vintages reaching the magical score of 100. These vintages are 1989, 1961, 1959, 1945.

The 2000 I indulged and sipped every drop of my glass got 98+ points which was not bad at all.
First of all you have to look at the bottle, the shape is different than any Bordeaux. She has a fairly long elegant neck with the seal of the chateau beaming out in pure style. The Bronze/copper capsule with the deep black writing gives you straight away the impression that here you dealing with no lightweight. The top of the bottle is somewhat larger than the bottom but when you hold the bottle in your hand, it feels just about right, it feels perfect.

Than the fun begins, from the moment you open the bottle, you smell the cork, it gives you shivers and inner smiles, right there and than, that here you are about to play party with the best the world of wine has to offer.

Of course this 2000 Haut-Brion ask for patience, this is a female here with a male attitude. She will look at you and chuckles with impatience as she knows how hard she will hit you. I would say let it breath for 30 to 45 minutes in the bottle, if you cant hold that patience than decant it 15 minutes before serving.

Take the time to look at it truly, observe its color or robe as they say in French. Look at how its sways in your glass, swirl it around, you will see the depth and structure of this great wine already before it has reached your nostrils or palate.

Than get yourself ready to be hit with the finest of wine has to offer, from the fruits to the spices, to the complexity and the drama. Absolute pleasure, all smiles are allowed and silence permitted.
The aromas are overwhelming and persistent and that makes you sooo impatience to taste the fruit that makes this drink so special.

From the moment it touches yours lips, the confirmation of what you saw and what you scented is truly the work of true craftsmanship.

The kindness and strength, the softness and power, the mystery and sublime, the longevity and beauty. Haut-Brion will amaze you, it will make your moment a special moment, a moment of 750ml of pure sensation.
Yes this beauty does not come at a cheap price as the 2000 is far from an average vintage. For much less but still about £250+ per bottle you will find the craft and hard work in the 2001,2002 and 2004 vintages which are ready to drink as well.
But if you can hit about £600+ bottle, i truly encourage you to try it out at least have this as one of your indulgence to have on your before dying list.

Chateau Haut-Brion is remarkable and of greatness, the land on which it grows its vines are blessed with the right elements and the hands that operate the transformation from fruit to vine are the best hands this wines could wish for.
So till next time please drink responsible and enjoy what you discover


Sunday, 4 September 2011

Trotanoy 2000

Yes it has been some time, but than August always does that, slowing things down let your imagination pause.
Look at the sun, listen to the sea, feel the breeze so most of us lock down and so did i, well in a way.
I could not lock totally down but i slowed down as until August things were kind off at much higher speed.

So reason why I did not blog either but I did miss it i must admit. So I had the great opportunity in this silence time to taste a marvelous, power generated, luscious and amazingly crafted wine.

Ya I do talk of the Beautiful Chateau Trotanoy 2000.

It needs some space here as for those who have not yet been able to taste, drink, indulge, been amazed by this wine, there is a bit to say about the little brother of Petrus.

Yes same owners as Petrus, the Moueix family, only Trotanoy for now is at a much more affordable price. This wine first of all when it arrives on the table, the bottle express simplicity, no pretension, no big talk, but as with all simplicity it express huge quality.

It is one of those wines that will take you for a ride without you noticing you took off. The moment you poor the wine, the color is dense deep and very inviting.
The aromas on the nose are full of ripe, mature, juicy red dark fruits, than under that you have the arrival of spice and oak but subtle and elegant.
It pulls your imagination in to the realm of sublime, in a world of wonders and where nothing can go wrong.
But when it hit yours lips it engulfs your palate and your mind. The fruits dissolve with a roundness and soft touch. The mid palate reveals the spices and the perfectly balanced acidity. Most of all it stops you abruptly in all your tracks, it gives you shivers up your spine, it makes you stand up and shout damn how beautiful life is.

Yes this wine is up there with the best this world can produce.
It is like a miracle with each sip you take, it grabs you by the throat, it pushes you to the back seat, it makes you happy and it makes you wanting more.
It gives you impulse, it gives you pure joy, this wine with all it qualities will never disappoint you.

The vintages to look out for are 2000 of course but also 1996, 1998, 2002, 2005, 2006, but 2005 and 2006 not really ready yet.

The forest of dark red fruits, the subtle oak, the spices and poetry this will enhance your moment, your moment with Chateau Trotanoy a wine you should not pass if you ever have the chance to sip and to encounter the magic it will give you.
Honestly if i would be stranded on a dessert island and Trotanoy would be my only partner, I would be a very happy man.

Until next time, drink responsible and enjoy the company you with.
bye for now.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A vineyard to discover

As summer is in full swing and most of us have burned our rubber wheels to a place of rest, if it is for the beach, country side, mountains, or even more and more the wine valleys of the world.

Many Chateaux's, Clos, Domain's open their doors, construct small hotels, spa therapies all to indulge the guest with another form of holidays.

The new world like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa are already well ahead with the term Oenotourism.

It is also for many a new sort of direction to expose and window their wines. So inevitably the old world and especially the big Bordeaux houses have now gulp a piece of this trend.

Chateau Pape Clement http://www.pape-clement.com/
Chateau Lynch-Bages http://www.lynchbages.com/
Les Sources Caudalie http://www.sources-caudalie.com/ (this is for the pure class spa therapy fanatics)

Just to give you a few but www.bordeaux-toursime.com has all the directions to please your taste and budget.

Of course Provence is expanding, Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon, Champagne even Burgundy has started to open its doors but still for most a very close circuit. ahh oui les Bourguignons not easy to charm and win(e) over.

Beside all that there is a wine you may not have heard of but is truly amazing and thrilled to be discovered.

Chateau Lagrezette Cahors South West France.

One of the oldest vineyards around over 500 years old, this Chateau was taking back in hand in the '80 by Alain Dominic Perrin head of the Richmond group for some time and also the man that brought Cartier to its global luxury status it is today.
A huge passion for wine and when this amazing property was for the taking he did not waste a whisper.
Re-worked it with the best there are on the market, over looked by Michel Rolland and praised by Robert Parker.

His Cuvee's are as followed
He has "Chateau Lagrezette", his entry level wine one would say, but it has character, is very masculine and will not pass in silence. Its like a stallion with wings, a passion with an orchestra. A good approach in fruits and a density and texture, screaming for meat. Very well priced and definitely a good example of how the root, the birthplace of Malbec (cot its original name) shows its true meaning.

Than there is cuvee "Dame D'Honneur", even so she is presented like a lady with an amazing dark purple dress, she has strength like a plow horse but with Louboutin shoes. She express scent all man have to take a seat, as a slap of fruit and oak with spice has just hit you right in he face. She is adventures and imposing, she is a lady to whom you hardly will be able to say no. She will assist you through your meal, making sure your night will be one never to forget.

But than he has made "Le Pigeonnier".

Here there is a pause, as even the strongest of man suddenly feels weak and overpowered, as this wine is such a bundle of concentration that you have no idea what just has hit you. It has already past and gone, run around the domain talk to the grapes and back before you could address a simple thought. This wine will even make the grumpiest of man smile even weep.
Yes, my advice is let it breath even decant it for a good 4 hours, this is a wine that will ask your attention, stare you in the eye before knocking yourself out.

These wines can be found at www.eminentwines.com

Till next time, drink reasonably and responsibly.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Gruaud Larose

I had once again the chance to savor the succulence and fruitful and very various Gruaud Larose St Julien Bordeaux.

What was nice this time that i had a few vintages to savior at once.

A bit of history first
L'Abbe Gruaud, worthy representative of the Noblesse de Robe, which typified the Pre-Revolutionary Ancien Regime of France, initiated the story of the château in 1725. He wanted a wine with elegance and power and was rapidly successful. Early records of the famous Bordeaux wine-broker Lawton spoke of the wines of a certain “Sire Gruaud” in 1755 - a century before its official classification - which produced 60 casks of premium wine always sold at high price. Gruaud had already made its reputation in Saint Julien and abroad. Thanks to the family of Joseph-Sébastien de Larose, son-in-law and heir of L’Abbé Gruaud, the wine not only made a reputation but also made a name for itself : Gruaud Larose. Over nearly 300 years, the château produced some iconic wines made of finesse when young and of elegance after a long ageing. And always with an underlying powerful structure. In that sense, every vintage reminds us that Gruaud is the soil, the tannins and the terroir, and Larose is poetry, aromas and bouquet.

Yes I tasted vintage 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003.

Gruaud 1998, yet coming well to age this wine still shows plenty of adventure and surprise.
The nose needs a little time to awaken but little by little it reveals intensity and suspicion of deep red fruits, spice and some oak. Its like a lost paradise but not first class, it lacks some straight points to be called "a hit right on the spot" but nonetheless it will take you on a ride.

The palate starts with a certain strength invades the walls of your palate and than hits with a burst of BlackBerry, slight cherry and currants, a mid palate that holds well with under layers of spice and a wood base. The end holds fairly well and satisfying.

A wine that stands its ground but i think that the wine of kings as they call it could bring more of its own identity and not trying to please certain palates.

Gruaud Larose 2000, yes this amazing vintage is really one of the best vintages this Chateau had in the last 10 years, truly remarkable. (did not taste 2009 and 2010)
The nose starts with the avalanche of fresh, juicy appealing red fruits. It is sway and very seductive, the oak is well set and the acidity in pure fashion.

The palate is taken by absolute delight and poesy, cheer attitude, the freshness and fruit burst is crunchy and smooth. This wine has still life in it so even for safe keeping you are making here a safe bet and it really will get ready to its optimum around 2013. It will give fire and delight till 2030+,
so yes if you can lay your hands on this vintage you will see each bottle tells its own story, a personal story, maybe your story.

Gruaud Larose 2001, yes this vintage i called the silent vintage as for many it started out not so well.
But it was what I call a late shiner, yes it took some time as we all thought this one would crumble.
Well even so it has not such a life span as a 2000 it has surprisingly a very good punch to give.

The nose is a bit shy but the little leather mix up with the fruits, tobacco and pepper as a spice were all little under layers of the overwhelming fruit on offer.

The palate is medium and characterful, a variety of levels of the traditional red fruits, the spice and the oak gave this wine a reason the shout. The acidity works it balance it had a fairly good lasting not too short. It's just a wine that will not live the distance but good value for money and great to enjoy

Gruaud Larose 2003, Now the nose to start of with is somewhat a bit disappointing. It gradually opens up and reveal this warm dens fruit indicating also the year of heat and you can smell it how deep the sun has penetrated the fruit. So there is for me a lack of variety in this wine and not their best.

On the palate it feels a bit tight and lazy, as the acidity is there but not pronounced and so not fresh. What it does give is the intention and good will of trying to produce a good wine. The end is somewhat a bit sharp but having tasted it after it was open for 1 hour it went down a lot and got much softer. Don't get me wrong its far from a bad wine but it does not come into the category of their good vintages.

In all I did enjoy each of them and it was good to interact with the wine and try to distinguish the years and the attitude towards the wine.

I give this house on 100 a 89 to 93.

Do try it out and let me know.
until next time drinks reasonably and responsible


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

en primeur 2010

Yes as every year it is around this time that all the houses have finally released their wines and of course the price tag.
According to many insiders they predict that the 2010 vintage will be about 5% dearer than the already massive price hiked 2009.

So I do really think that we are here at a cusp of reflection and wonder where all this will lead. Well a problem will arise for this new wine investment trend as the prices of 2009 have hardly increased in value in the last year!! There is a game going on here with buyers refusing to buy and sellers siting on stock they need to sell. But with vintages like these, the sellers know and if they can play their cards right that they have a good longevity in these wines and sooner or later the market will be in demand. Of course that is as I said, if you can play the waiting game.

Even so buyers have slammed the brakes and are reluctant to buy, interestingly enough most traders have made more money than last year.
So its swinging between a silk handkerchief and a concrete wall. I do talk mostly here for the first 5 growth of Bordeaux, the top ranked St Emilion, Graves and Pomerol's, which is a fraction of the whole production of the Bordeaux region, its about 169 first wines here and some producing just about 12,000 bottles.

Here a little guide through some of those beautiful wines. Prices are Ex cellar meaning not what you will see on the shelves in the shop.

St. Estephe

The highest score this year is awarded to :
Chateau Montrose with 96-99+ pts at approx £1528 case
Cos d'Estournel 95-97 pts at approx £2100 a case
Chateau Calon Segur 92-94+ pts at approx £650 a case
Chateau Lafon-Rochet 92-94 pts at approx £314 a case
Pagodes de Cos de Cos D''Estournel 90-93 pts at approx £400 a case
Chateau Ormes de Pez 87-90 pts at approx £260 a case


The highest score this year is awarded to:
Chateau Lafite Rothschild with 98-100 pts at approx £9,000 a case
Chateau Latour with 98-100 pts at approx £10,000 a case
Mouton Rothschild with 97-100 pts at approx £5.900 a case
Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron with 95-98 pts at approx £1,487 a case
Chateau Lynch-Bages with 95-97 pts at approx £1,191 a case
Chateau Duhart Milon with 94-96 pts at approx £1,000 a case
Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste with 93-96 pts at approx £613 a case
Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with 92-95+pts at approx £1,500 a case
Carruades de Lafite with 91-94 pts at approx £2.900 a case
Chateau Clerc Milon with 91-93 pts at approx £500 a case
Chateau D'Armailhac with 89-92 pts at approx £340 a case


The highest score this year is awarded to:
Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou with 96-98+ pts at approx £1,500 a case
Chateau Leoville Las Cases with 95-98 pts at approx £2,000 a case
Chateau Leoville Poyferre with 93-95 pts at approx £990 a case
Chateau Branaire Ducru with 93-95 pts at approx £510 a case
Chateau Gruaud Larose with 92-94 pts at approx £509 a case
Clos du Marquis with 92-94 pts at approx £383 a case
Chateau Leoville Barton with 91-93+ pts at approx £803 a case
Chateau Talbot with 91-93 pts at approx £415 a case
Chateau Langoa Barton with 90-92 pts at approx £496 a case
Chateau Beychevelle with 90-92 pts at approx £665


The highest score this year is awarded to:
Chateau Margaux with 97-99+ pts at approx £7,900 a case
Chateau Palmer with 95-97 pts at approx £2,200 a case
Chateau Lascombes with 94-97 pts at approx £780 a case
Chateau D'Issan with 94-96 pts at approx £530 a case
Chateau Giscours with 92-95 pts at approx £466 a case
Pavillon Blanc de Margaux with 91-93 pts at approx £1,100 a case
Chateau Kirwan with 90-93 pts at approx £480 a case
Pavillon rouge de Margaux with 90-92 pts at approx £1,600 a case
Alter Ego the Palmer with 90-92 pts at approx £540 a case

Pessac Leognan (Graves)

The highest score this year is awarded to:
Chateau Haut Brion with 98-100 pts at approx £8,000 a case
Chateau la Mission Haut Brion with 98-100 pts at approx £7,000 a case
Chateau Branon with 96-98 pts at approx £940 a case
Chateau Haut-Bailly with 95-97 pts at approx £947 a case
Chateau Smith-Haut lafitte with 95-97 pts a approx £796 a case
Chateau Pape Clement Rouge with 93-95+ pts at approx £986 a case
Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere with 92-94 pts at approx £520 a case
Domaine de Chevalier Blanc with 92-94 pts at approx £740 a case
La chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion with 91-93 pts at approx £1,200 a case
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge with 91-93 pts at approx £560 a case
Chateau Carbonnieux with 91-93 pts at approx £550 a case
Clos Floridene with 90-93 pts at approx £150 a case
Latour-Martillac with 90-92 pts at approx £230 a case

St. Emilion

The highest score this year is awarded to:
Ausone with 98-100 pts at approx £13,000 a case
Chateau Beausejour Duffau Lagarosse with 96-100 pts at approx £2,400 a case
Chateau Troplong Mondot with 96-98+ pts at approx £1,150 a case
Chateau Cheval Blanc with 96-98+ pts at approx £9.900 a case
Chateau Pavie with 95-98+ pts at approx £2,600 a case
Chateau Larcie Ducasse with 95-97 pts at approx £600 a case
Clos Fourtet with 95-97 pts at approx £766 a case
Chateau Figeac with 93-96 pts at approx £2,000 a case
Chapelle d'Ausone with 92-94 pts at approx £1,700 a case
Chateau Bellevue with 91-94 pts at approx £2,600 a case


The highest score this year is awarded to:
Petrus with 98-100 pts at approx £25,000 a case
Chateau Le Pin with 96-98 pts at approx £10,900 a case
Vieux Chateau Certan with 96-98 pts at approx £2,300 a case
L'Evangile with 96-98 pts at approx £2,400 a case
Chateau Clinet with 95-98 pts at approx £1,050 a case
La Conseillante with 95-98 pts at approx £1,700 a case
Chateau Le gay with 95-97 pts at approx £1,000 a case
Clos de L'eglise with 92-95 pts at approx £1,200 a case
Feytit Clinet with 92-94 pts at approx £540 a case
Nenin with 90-92 pts at approx £495 a case

So here you have it, a majority overlook on the big winners and sadly also taken in count that if you are not well off for the least, buying cases will be a thing from the past as it is always more advantageous to buy cases. When these wines will be available they might well increase at about another 35 to 40% and than add another 15% if you buy individual bottles in retail.

Well as always drink responsibly and when you lay your hands on one of these beauties, please drink it at the right time with the right person or people.

untill next time.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Ruinart the collection

Image result for ruinart logo

I attended a masterclass as assistant on an event named Masterpiece.

What is it all about?  Well it is actually a collection of antique art dealers getting together and showcasing their most exquisite Art/Antiques at hand. This is not like the Frieze Art fair where you have new works from existing Artist.
No at Masterpiece you really find amazing pieces to buy, or if you walley isn't that solid just watch which are hundred and hundred of years old from all walk and forms of life. Real truthful classic collections.

The reason why I want to talk about this, is simply because I had the opportunity to attend and serve alongside Gerard Basset world sommelier 2010 a Ruinart Master class. Ruinart was one of the main sponsors of the event and so this house wanted to showcase to, their craft and collection from the house that is the oldest in the Champagne history (we talk making bubbles, Gosset is the oldest house making wine at first)

I always wanted to have an opportunity like this, and it is not every day you are able to taste the whole range Ruinart and especially the Dom Ruinart in several vintages.

As with all champagne tastings, you always start with the Brut NV here on this occasion the R de Ruinart. Ruinart is a chardonnay based house but the NV has a blend of the three grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinto Meunier. For me it has never hit me with great enthusiasm. It is a champagne well constructed and has layers of fruit and acidity, a fair complexity but a bit heavy for me.

Ruinart  the oldest champagne house and part of the group LVMH, is based in the heart of Reims, next to Veuve and Pommery. The house itself isn't big, compared to the giants like Moet &Chandon, Veuve Clicquot (also part of LVMH), Laurent-Perrier.......The birth of this house dates back to 1729 but were not making Champagne then, the first house making Champagne is Gosset.
Image result for r ruinart

Move on to.... 

The Ruinart Blanc de Blanc is straight away a different persona and more to my liking. 100% chardonnay which is the significant of the word Blanc de Blanc (white of white) you have also Blanc de Noir (white from black). There is softness, fruits in abundance, lightness, freshness a big crowd pleaser. A champagne with great complexity, structure and endurance.  

Image result for ruinart blanc de blanc brut
It was the first time I tasted a Ruinart Rose, and to be honest I was truly surprised and enchanted by it. Its delicate red fruits all over the nose with rose petals and slight almonds aromas and when it hits the palate it arrived with kindness and great subtlety. Many attendance would have loved to go for another glass. I do recommend it if you have the chance.

Image result for ruinart blanc rose
Than we came to the big one. The Dom Ruinart.
Well I can truly say that this one is amongst the best champagnes made. It's 100% chardonnay, the house identity and it will move you, seduce you, flirt with you, be in control of you. It swings from joy to pleasure, complexity in greatness a master in his class. 

We started with the 1998, The house Ruinart actually does take their time to release their top cuvee.
Every aspect of  how a top Champagne should be was in place and indicates that this one will go for quite some time. It was not entirely saying I am ready, I am at my optimum. But you could feel it and realize that this was craftsmanship. 1998 was not the exceptional vintage but a good vintage nonetheless, even here indicating the true craftsmanship of a top Champagne. 

Then we went through the very interesting average vintage of Dom Ruinart 1993 magnum, it had a deep and intense flavour and well balanced fruit, but it lacked of depth and character. But for an average vintage and already aged 18 years it was a good surprise and still drinkable pleasantly. 

We ended the class with the remarkable magum Dom Ruinart 1996. It was till extremely fresh, the fruits were overwhelming and the acidity was perfectly placed, it was elegant, full of joy and superb. A vintage that has many many years to go still and will amaze you once you sipped that wonder of a Champange.
Image result for dom ruinart

In all Dom Ruinart is a superb champagne and stands firmly in the top class champagne ever produced.

Until next time please do drink responsibly.

imbibe 2011

My apologies as it has been awhile but i have been a bit short for time to write some blogs, well guess what now you will get 2 in a row.

First of all i like to talk about imbibe 2011, its the UK on-trade drinks trade for professionals. It is more orientated on bars but there were quiet a few wine merchants on show as well.

We and in we i mean me and the wine supplying company i work with called Eminent Wines. We were there in force as we wanted to highlight our choices in wines and all the other attributes the company represent.
Eminent wines does not just do wines, it also does luxury wine accessories, wine tourism, wine investment, designing and maintaining of wine cellars, Wine properties. Yes quiet a bit but it all works and fit in the ethos and image of Eminent Wines.

We had also the champagne house Gardet on show as we are expanding the Brand to the public. It is a house with a very good range and appealing structure. www.champagne-gardet.com

We had wines from Alsace, Loire, Languedoc Roussillon, Bordeaux, Provence Bulgaria and Japan. With some unusual elements there we got quite some attention especially as we were there to promote the 18 carat Swiss Gold leave Vodka from Struder. http://www.davisimmo.eu/pr/info1.php/currentlanguage=nl/modulecode=Project

It has such an appeal and many found it a great vodka, the link above will show all the other assets they posses and very innovative as well.

So many professionals did come to the fair but imbibe is predominately centered on the bar trade and so spirits. We had many bar man from all different parts of the UK passing by, of which some really need to get a grip on the consumption aspect. There was especially towards the end of the day some that had clearly too much abuse on the alcohol.
I personally had a problem with that as when you walk into this market you need to be responsible of the product you work with, here in this case alcohol.
Clearly for a part of them it seems like not sinking in the seriousness of the business as bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants get constantly bombarded with government attacks on the abuse of alcohol.
So each time taxes go up it is always in the alcohol and tobacco trade.
Anyway i wanted this of my chest.
In general there was as for the wine department quiet some representation and sadly as we were so busy for the 2 days i had not the time to check out the competition.
But according to many of the on-trade we had a very well selected set of wines on offer.

The wines from Valentin Zusslin were in particularly very well perceived. http://www.zusslin.com/

The dry muscat was in particularly impressive. It comes at you like a book from which you see the cover, you implant a perception and once on the other end you wonder what just happen. This dry and ripe fruitful appearance already tells you on the nose that something is totally against the odds of what you thought it would be. On the palate is sways and waltz you in a rhythm full of joy and surprises. The fruits and acid accomplish well the work that's been put in.
As I said at the end you wonder what just happened, a wine fit for dinner and suits white meats and fish.

We have also the impressive and surprising Magrez-Aruga from Japan, a white wine with such a delicacy it takes time to get use to it but once you have captured the essence of it, you will definitely like it.
It is so delicate in it white fruits and zest that it will appear like powdered fruit with a sudden boots of fresh lemons and minerals. The palate will be gently touched with is frail and simple structure, but it is that simplicity that will amaze you as at the end it becomes somewhat a bit more complex and variable warm and lasting. http://www.bernard-magrez.com/content/en/?

We also had great success with our wine accessories. Yes if you want some cool design items for your wine and champagne than look no further. L'Orvevrerie d'Anjou. http://www.lorfevreriedanjou.com/
These luxury items will blow your mind away, absolute quality and top style, browse their site and i am sure you will agree with me.

In all it was exhausting the 2 days but fruitful and interesting.
As I just have checked the time and it is a bit late so i will add my blog on masterpiece London 2011 tomorrow till than i say be good and drink responsible.

xx H.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Taste of London 2011

Yes it is time to talk about Taste of London,

Each year around this time one of the biggest if not the biggest food festival around is coming to town; Taste of London 2011 had it all. Well almost! The weather was not really in the mood to be there, so it dampened the spirit a little bit as June should be warm and sunny but than again your are in the UK and the weather here is at times very unpredictable.

I had an invitation to go and follow the Laurent-Perrier master class and I was looking forward to enjoy a little spiel of bubble talk and food pairing. Well let me tell you at 2pm this all changed.

A phone call from Danny Brennan a dear friend but also head of marketing for Laurent-Perrier UK, asking me, if I could help them out as their lecturer for the master classes could not do the first 2 classes.

Knowing that the first class was starting at 5.30 pm and lasting for about 25 minutes, my heart started racing and nerves were mounting.
As I have been the ambassador for Laurent-Perrier UK in the past I knew that not all was lost but still talking in front of a group of people for 25 minutes was not such an easy task after all.

But convincingly as he is my sweet friend Danny, me and myself wanted to take on the challenge and yes I went for it.

So quick under the shower whilst reciting the points I wanted to make and getting through some technical elements of the brand, I got into my suit and off I was; direction Regent park, London.

The first master class was a bit of a struggle for me as of course thrown into the lions den I stumbled on a few points as I realized after 5 minutes I had already said all I wished to recite in 25 minutes, how the hell did that happen.

So I started to ask questions to people and of course no one had really any questions as for most hearing your own voice out loud can feel a bit intimidating, I after all do not like my voice funny enough. So I kept on giving them technical facts until Barry Fitzgerald supervising the class gave me sign of cut it off you did enough, oooff

The second class was much better and thank god as it was full of journalist and professionals from the industry. A couple of sips of the LP Ultra brut a dry and crystal clear champagne perfect with sea food only this time paired with Parma ham and a tuille of Parmesan gave me the gear of cruising and feeling more relaxed.
Very strong in flavour but the Ultra brut cut through it like a knife separating all the ingredients and smoothly blending them into a very pleasant pairing.
If any of you have not yet tasted the Ultra brut the Laurent Perrier, when you come along it please don't hesitate to have a sip of it, it will amaze you.

Next up we had the Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002 and boy tell me this champagne is a beauty.
Already 2002 is a must vintage for champagne, this one was subtle and round, deep and overwhelming. Paired with a seabass ceviche and avocado puree with herbs and red endive. It was fresh light and very yummy. The champagne enchanted you with pleasure and asking for more, beautifully done.

Than the last champagne was of the course the most famous rose on the planet the Laurent-Perrier Rose brut, which was paired with a marinated prawn tandoori, on a crusted bed of semolina toast with a dash of chutney and wild herbs. The 2 were a match in heaven, the rose champagne made in the saigne method (bleeding method leaving the skin for a certain amount of time in contact with the jus). It has raspberries and strawberries flavors, it was somewhat a bit smokey and warm. went down like treat. A champagne that never has disappointed anyone.

At the end of the class I felt a huge weight lifted of my shoulder and was happy it went well as there was the financial times, the independent and decanter journalist plus a couple of chefs attending.

I was then invited to attend the Laurent-Perrier master class Grand Siecle and damn what is that champagne good. No need to describe it just when you have the chance to taste the Grand Siecle please do, you will see how amazing and unique this champagne is.

So duties done, me and a colleague went on the stroll and look out for what was on offer.
The variety of London restaurants on show was just astounding and yes London has culinary excellence to stand with.

Many big restaurants were on show and so many different variety of cuisine were to discover.
Many wines from all places were on display so much to try out and if you say you from the trade and are here to discover and ask to spit, you can get pretty much away with everything.

Brazilian wines were interesting but still some work to do. The vines from Brazil are planted close to the Uruguay border so climate well adapted to make something very good, but lets not forget that it is not because you can grow and make wine that for that your wine will be good.
It takes time for a vine to adapt to its soils. The new world wants to run sometimes a bit too fast.

Look at the USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, it is really in the last 10 years that they have become truly global challengers to the old world as it does take time to get consistency.
I have sampled some wines from those countries and are absolutely mind blowing and I am sure better is to come, if they will topple France and Italy or Spain.... well maybe and that is maybe when you and I will be old and stiff.

In all the weather as I said was not present and just before the close down of the event the heavens opened up and yeee did it rain, luckily for us we were in the VIP lounge of British Airways who by the way are the major sponsor of Taste of London.

Yes, I was nervous, exhilarated, stuffed and had some amazing bubbles, not bad for a Thursday.

Till next time be good an drink with moderation and eat with care.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Champagne Gardet

It's middle of June, well almost and one would expect that the weather is at its best, well let me tell you it isn't. Many have complained that there is not enough rain and officially some places in the UK are so dry, they are classified as drought areas. Which for the UK is a very rare word to employ as we are known for rain and rain and rain again. Well it is true since march we have had very good spell of beautiful weather and unusual high temperatures. Besides all that I have been introduced to a new Champagne house; Champagne Gardet. http://www.champagne-gardet.com
Overall I was very pleasantly surprised with the whole range.

We started with the Brut Tradition, (45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay) a fresh, dry, fruity, light champagne . The perfect way to start an evening or reception, or simple celebration. Its freshens your palate with white fruits, given you a sensation of lightness and freedom. Really liked this, if any of you have the chance to taste please do and let me know.

Than there was the Brut Premiere Cru, (60%Pinot Noir 40& Pinot Meunier), a much fuller and mature like champagne, deeper, more intense but still with amazing lightness to it. Playing on the fruits, this champagne accompanied food very well, salads with meats or fleshy fish.
A true eye opener.

I was not keen on the demi-sec but than I am not too big fan of sweet champagnes. So for me a no go-er.

Than we had the Blanc de Blanc, (100% chardonnay), as the house is mainly a producer of red grapes, I was looking forward to taste this one as it demands a different philosophy.

A freshness all along the journey and a lasting that was never ending. This house was really surprising me and with an abundance of white fruits and brioche, almonds, minerality obscurely hidden between the layers of your white fleshy fruits, hints you that this wine will go well with shell fish. This Champagne house was taking me step by step up the ladder of satisfaction.

Brut Rose, well I think I was a bit too optimistic as this rose knocked me right down to the ground. (45% Pinot Munier, 45% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay), adding 15% of AOC champagne red wine.
It was a rose just a bit heavy for me and to dark in its colour which did not give it that elegance and beauty. It was a bit aggressive on the nose, too much power and the palate did not give me the pleasure what a rose should be about.

The champagne Gardet reserve, began to introduce you to a different field and elements this house is achieving. This wine is made of a third Pinot Noir, a third Pinot Meuneir and the rest chardonnay of which 25% of the champagne comes from oak barrels.

Deep, intense but light and fresh on the same time this wine has the likes of a Krug, Bollinger. Really aiming at high quality product. This goes well with meats and bird. Really interesting and personal as a champagne

Then we finished with the Prestige Charles 2002 and Prestige Charles Rose 2005.
These 2 top cuvee's will take you on a journey where beauty, poetry, elegance, adventure and precision crosses your path. They will make you stop and reflect, they will open your emotions and make you smile. The rose made of the Saignee method (meaning leaving the skin in contact with the juice to create the colour, aromas and character). It will sway you and challenge you, it will give you satisfaction and pleasure. The prestige cuvee Charles 2002 will grip you by the throat, shake you awake and seduce you, emotions will roll and talk will be halted as this wine demand a time to reflect and given attention to.

In all this was a house with many good elements and a house a truly recommend. The house Gardet will hopefully in some time be a house that we all have heard off.

Till next time.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

wine tasting

Yes i came home on Monday evening with a bursting headache. I had endured a 6 hours wine tasting.
As said before I work for a wine supplier www.eminentwines.com and we had go through a large stack of samples that has been send to us and needed to be opened and tried, ai ai ai .......

This time around it was predominately white wines, and i cannot tell you how disappointed i was.

We had wines from France, Luxembourg, Lebanon. Turkey, Italy so a good variety.

For France
We had wines from Loire, Languedoc, Bordeaux, Alsace

Pretty much all of the wines from Loire seem to have been produced by the same man on different plots of land.

There was little differene in the aromas and personality, well if you can call that a personality.
Domaine Roblin, sended us red which was reduit meaning when the fermentation process happen there was a lack of oxygen and so you smell odeurs like mold, dry rot, at times we use the expression it smells of cows ass which also begs the question of the presence of brett (bretanomyces) a bacteria that is found inside the tanks or barrels because they have not been properly cleaned. In all not a good sign, yes there are wines that have that farmyard type of smell but they do evolve after little time in contact with oxygen.

Another issue when you have that type of constant smell is the bacterie brettanomyces which comes from yeast used in the process of wine making and it comes from not keeping your winery clean enough so it effect the cuves especially concrete made ones.

When we tasted the white and the rose from Domaine Roblin which both were Sancerre, there was little to celebrate and i will not spend more time on it. hopefully next vintage will be better.

Domaine Chauveau with their Pouilly Fume, http://www.domaine-chauveau.com/
we had three different cuvees.
Les charmette 2010, was ok fair and juste but without getting excited.
Les Croqueloups was the one really shining, it was zesty, fresh and easy to drink just a bit sharp but should ease down in the coming year.
And Clelie their top cuvee, expected more, deeper, more surprising but it did not.

I have made up a list of Loire wines I want to taste if you have any other in mind let me know. Chateau de Villeneuve, Chateau Pierre Bise, Domaine Clos Naudin, Domaine Alphonse Mellot, Domaine Francois Crochet, Domaine Gerard Boulay, Domaine Henry Pelle, Domaine Masson-Blondelet, Domaine Pascal Cotat, Domaine Vacheron.

The Languedoc had some really nice surprises but over all i was not happy, as i have studied in the Ecole d'oenologie et Viticulture I know what amazing wines this region is producing.

The Chateau Lascaux rose and the 2 whites were of great craftmantship. http://www.chateau-lascaux.com/
We had already tasted their reds and a domaine with a good vision and structure especially at the price they stand. good value for money.

Domaine de Cambis an absolute delight. http://www.cambis.fr/
Le chant des griots 2007 (no more in stock) beautiful fruits light and fresh, apples, melons, white flowers, on the palate light, fresh, dry and lasting very cute wine as it is so seductive.
La vie en Rose is of course their rose wine, simple and easy. Based on fruit and simplicity, easy drinking perfect for summer and early evening drinks with some light salads, langoustine, nibbles.
In the red we had Carnet de voyage, Syrah, Grenache, deep intense fruit, round and refreshing.
great to go with meat and cheeses.
A domaine with pure straight intension, making good wine.

Than there was Domaine Fabregues, what i did not like about this this winery is the variety of wines 12+ wines and not necessarily with great distinction, Most based on fruit and fruit and fruit, but so many come up with the same line but not really giving me fruit but more like made from concentrated fruit extracts. I wished they did less, instead of more and more. There is however ambition and passion but I feel they need to identify themselves a bit more without being pushy, after all if I would take these wines on I need to believe in them for me to able to sell.... and right now I do not yet.

We had Luxembourg wines and i pass, as i was not impressed with it at all, regardless of some attempts that made me think ohhhhh just maybe until i was swirling it for some time in the glass and than tasted it, no not impressed. Hope to find some others.

One wine from Italy which gave me a headache and did not even write it down to have some record. Italy produce way better that this wine. The only thing i found interesting was the label, the image, but that does not take me far.
Yes Lebanon Ixsir Grand Reserva white Viognier, Sauvignon,Chardonnay was one of the best surprises
It was deep , round, Oaky, pretty intense, not that i agree with the blending variety, but i did not expect this freshness and aromas to well balanced. On the palate there was work and adventure plus it lasted well, after taste was soft and pleasant.

I will end with Turkey, which for a long time are Europe's supplier of table grapes, but yes history has proven that it is also a land where wine is produced and Turasan wines were well perceived.
The fun and likable part of these wines is the indigenous grape varieties they use.

The range
1. okuzgozu, bogazkere deep warm, fruity, good structure, still some way to go to the likes of the big boys but to keep an eye on, label wise not so appealing at all.
2.cab merlot syrah, traditional Mediterranean grapes and yes even in Turkey around the Med they produce good results. Aged for 12 months in French oak, deep purple color, perfect with meat, it does miss some freshness and acidity.
3. okuzgozu same structure form as the 2 others here 10 months in French oak, plum, cherries, cinnamon, meaty wines.
In all a pleasant discovery.

Next tasting is only bubbles from all parts of France, so that will be it for now and do not hesitate to give me your comments or would like to find out more about wines.


Saturday, 28 May 2011

Wine Tourisme

In the last decade the whole aspect wine has become so much more interested. So many different branches finally recognized and observed by a wider audience if i may put it that way.

I work also for a wine imported and exported here in the UK, where we have now an office in Hong Kong as well. The reason why I associated myself with this company was for its several assets it had.
The Company is called Eminent Wines, www.eminentwines.com

One of the assets or departments of the company is wine Tourism. Even so that we all might think that France should be ways ahead of its competitors, actually it has only really began fully to take the bug since a couple of years seriously.

There are so many mazing places popping up all around France and in every department where wine is produced.

So me and my boss headed to the region of Champagne-Ardennes and Epernay in particular where there was the 1st fair on wine tourism for the region, called "vins et passion" in other words wine and passion.

We stayed in Reims at one of the most prestigious places "Les Crayeres" or in English something like the chalks. www.lescrayeres.com
As one says prestigious means also heavy on the wallet. One night stay starts high and low season combined from about €345 and goes up to €700. But you will be pampered and stay in a magnificent building dating from early 20th Century. It was Madame Pommery how build it for her daughter, as you do and has been bought later by the Gardinier family who own Phelan Segur in Bordeaux.

There is attention to detail and a service where no fuss and huss, peep and weep is to much to ask. The rooms have all their individual touch and character, all dating back to the early 20th century. In the heart of Reims and close to the houses of Pommery, Ruinart, Veuve Clicquot and placed in a garden of 7 hectares, it is the perfect place to start your trip in discovering Champagne.

The salon or fair had many things to offer and another place need to be mentioned is "La Brigueterie" www.labriqueterie.fr

The only luxe hotel with spa treatment facilities in the region so far. Placed in the middle of the vines where you are close to nature and close the essential product itself "Champagne". Here as well the style is classic but less in opulence than Les Crayeres. Once again the service is to its up-most and no detail is left aside, it is also here that you will find one of the biggest references in choice of Champagne, over 300 different brands. Rooms here are from €180 to €290, which is already more reasonable in some ways but you can't compare Les Crayeres with this one here different animal i would say.
So here totally in the country side, no honking or stuck traffic, no here it is the birds the bees and the vines.

Of course there are many other places with less steeper prices all info is given at the office of tourism the Reims. www.reims-tourisme.com.

The region is absolute adorable especially around the Town of Epernay which is the epi center of the word of Champagne. Around it, many little grand cru and premier cru villages.

One last place I have to mention if you are a big champagne fan is soon to be open and I talk in the next couple of weeks, so I will come back with all the info available is the house/hotel of Jacque Selosse now taken in hand by the son, Anselme Selosse which I had the great privilege to meet and for the first time in my life i was really star struck. As this gentleman has talent at his finger tips and ideas that revolutionized the brand Champagne.

The hotel is like a house full of all the needs and luxe you expect, only 10 rooms, so 20 people max. You enter into the world of Anselme and Corinne Selosse. Tranquil, comfortable, relaxing, harmonious, indulging, rechargeable, encounter. All the elements to create a place of heaven, placed in the village of Avize which is a grand cru, the hotel is placed at the entrance of the village. As I said once they are open and up and running I will let you know more about it. Keep this spot in mind.

Of course being here in Champagne some tastings were a must. As i was at the London wine fair a couple days before and had tasted the Champagne Henri Giraud , a visit to the house was not to be missed. www.champagne-giraud.com

A house with about a 250.000 production, which is fairly small compared to some houses. I like the philosophy of this house the way they approach the identity of their champagnes. They use wooden barrels for pretty much all their champagnes and wow what a result. The range Esprit is where you start, you get hit with amazing sensations when you taste the hommage to Francois Hemard, superb and thrilling. Setting you straight in line for the rest to come. Before the Hommage we had the Esprit Blanc de Blance and the Brut NV which again both where playing with your taste buds and emotions.

The two code, champagnes the Noir and Rose are something of a novelty as they are the decoding of the grape Pinot Noir. As you may know there are many different Pinot Noir created, clones to adapt at various different soils and climates. But the original Pinot has its roots steeped in the history of champagne and so Code Noir and Rose both 100% Pinot Noir taking you into an experience very few champagnes will take you and you will find back memories you thought never to have remembered.

Of course you always end your tasting with the top cuvee, well I thought i had already tasted a few of their top cuvees.
The Henri Giraud Fut de Chene 2002 simply knocked me of my feet, shook the earth and i felt like reborn again. It is so powerful in emotions, character and craft that I had to say that this is now amongst one of the best champagnes ever tasted.

The other house we tasted was Champagne house Gardet. www.champagne-gardet.com
A much bigger house but relatively small still compared to Moet and company.
This house produces 1.2 million bottles, but has a range of champagnes absolutely crafted with identity.

We started with the Brut tradition nv, which was light and delightful perfect as an aperitif drink, to start of an evening to celebrate an occasion

Than we had the Brut Premier cru nv, Here already you we welcomed with deeper aromas and more intenser characters. Delightful on the palate and definitely a champagne asking for food the be served with, white meats and fish salads or dishes.

The Blanc de Blanc was so soft and elegant, which was a surprise as this house is more of a Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier producer and so to bring this fruitful and joyful champagne was a delight. White fruits and zesty elements with some undertones of bread notes.

We had than the first rose of the family, which was well crafted lots of red fruits and structure, but did not struck me a cord, nevertheless this is still a well made champagne.

The Brut Reserve nv, was compared to the brut traditions a total different beast, here there was more cream to the palate and intenser fruits, felt more like concentrated but than reserves are part of the production kept aside and maintained to be revealed at the right time so a total different character.

The brut selected reserve, is barrel fermented and plunging you into a wine so personal and identified, it requires reflection and appreciation. Beautifully crafted. Don't forget that Gardet ferment most of its champagnes as many houses in steel vats, so to have the combination of the two is a very good asset to have.
Here we arrive to the top cuvees of Charles Gardet.

Cuvee Charles Gardet 2002, what a delight, what a joy, fully focused and totally in control, the house has been working hard to get back the recognition it deserves and i can only say, you need to taste it to believe it.

The second top cuvee is of course the Charles Gardet cuvee Rose 2005, as in the village Chigny-Les_Roses, there are hints of rose petals and red fruits surging through properties of this champagne.
Lamb, wild , some desserts work perfectly with this champagne. This cuvee was such a nice ending to this tasting that i asked to taste it again and again. A pure joy.

I will write a separate article soon on champagne but to com to a conclusion Wine tourism is a fine fun educative new way of taking a holiday.
One thing you need to assure is to find a driver or hire one otherwise it will spoil the fun.

Till next time be safe, drink responsible and keep on discovering.


Monday, 16 May 2011

the world loves wine

I first have to say that i know that my blog has been silent for a long time, actually just about over a year.

So it is, but let's say we move on and focus on some different matters.

We have arrived onto a new vintage once again according to the Professionals it will be a wonderfull unique and amazing drop of wine.

All the scores are in and it looks like it has just topped last years scores with chateaux's hitting top marks like Cheval Blanc, Margaux, Latour and Lafite.

This will for most of us look like a beautiful display of wonders we might sip if we luckily are invited to some billionaire's table. Otherwise they will be a far dream as the prices of the first growth will hit a level most likely never seen before.

So rest assured that they will be flying out of the cellars much to the owners delight. It has become clear that wine is a reall value and profitable investment, and if you have some money aside don't set it onto your savings account but find a trusted source and invest in wine. You will never have done a better move in your life.

So this 2010 looks like it has stated itself as unique above all vintage one that will sleep in your cellar and each day will increase in its talent, craft, persona and inspiration.

The marvels from Pomerol, St Emilion, Pessac-Leognan, Margaux, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estephe, not just the first growths but the somewhat 153 classified wines in the top rank of the Bordeaux allmighty. All have and are working and upped their game as they know that if you get the right score, a nice price tag will be allowed and people will pay for it.

There is more demand out there than there is supply and let's not forget that it has such a wonderfull future as with most products more demand the owners increase production, with wine increasing demand fewer will be able to get it.

Wine is regulated and controlled and has to respect rules and regulations and especially with Bordeaux they want to make sure that they keep the crown and stay firmly on top.

Next time i will take regions apart and talk about the stars and the ones to look out to if you want some extra opinion.

to next time