Yapp Brothers Blog

Vital Signs  »

May 24th, 2015 by Hamish Catanach

After a recent bout of insomnia, in the early hours of the morning with the glow of my Kindle tempting me to download something new I stumbled on “I Blame Morrissey” by Jamie Jones. So far so good, it’s always reassuring reading another music obsessive’s take on the 1990s indie bands. For me, it started years ago & although I grew up around music (my mum is Grade 8 classically trained, although my dad played everything loud – not many people did that with Peters and Lee and Doctor Hook but there you go).

 

Rush - Moving Pictures

 

I’m still friends with my school mates and we still are obsessive about bands. Way back at school we all loved AC/DC but some of us dabbled on the darker side of rock (yes, Progressive is the word I’m trying to avoid). Rush are a Canadian band, still going strong and about to celebrate their 50th anniversary. In 1981 however they released an album (yes, vinyl) called ‘Moving Pictures’. As I’d just started teaching myself to play guitar this was a real eye opener – cracking guitar parts, hooks aplenty, odd time signatures and a great instrumental track called ‘YYZ’ – that we’d all try and work out how on earth to play it (Mark “Benny” Jones taught me the solo part over a long week of evenings that summer). This was around the time of our ‘first gigs without parental involvement’, John saw Rush before me (at what was in effect a Cow Shed in Staffordshire, AKA Bingley Hall) – I saw them at the NEC on the next tour. The crowd went bananas during ‘YYZ’, I assumed just because they liked it. So, signs, being a Canadian band, I now years later realise that ‘YYZ’ is the airport code for Toronto Pearson International Airport – hence the expats getting (over) excited.

 

Fender pick guards

 

As I’d worked my way through a number of cheap (“cheese grater”) guitars back then I decided I’d better get a half decent one – Joe Strummer always played a Fender Telecaster, and this was because he’d seen Wilko Johnson of Doctor Feelgood playing one – so I wanted to follow suit. I still have my beloved first Fender Telecaster years later (and a few others but that’s just collecting I guess) – but the Fender logo still reassures me. Last week I even upgraded the face plate to a genuine ‘mint green’ one – again with my much loved Fender Logo.

 

IGP Viognier Domaine de Durban

 

In the wine world, there are many logos that appear – but last night I opened a new Yapp wine (Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Domaine de Durban Viognier 2014) that as I’d opened the bottle straight from the fridge I saw the stamp “Vigneron Indépendant” – so being reassured I waded in – and safe to say it was all it should be, just like Fenders! After eating I picked up another glass of the Viognier, picked up a Telecaster and pondered writing a song called BRS (Bristol Airport’s International Code) – but thankfully thought better of it!

 

 

Spring Selections at Le Gavroche  »

May 15th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

To 43 Upper Brook Street, Mayfair in my least constrictive suitings to meet Silvano Giraldin, Michel Roux and super sommelier David Galetti to select the menu and wines for our keenly-anticipated Spring Lunch next Thursday. If I had £1 for every time I’ve been told that I have an enviably cushy job and that this doesn’t constitute proper work I’d be able to dine there more frequently and besides, people have no idea how much effort goes into making things appear effortless.

 

Le Gavroche - Upper Brook Street - London W1

 

Alongside some delicious canapés we road-tested a couple of sparkling wines and had a very clear winner in the form a Crémant de Loire rosé, whose gentle summer berry scents and flavours met with universal approval – so we will definitely kick-off with that next week.

 

Team Work!

Team Work!

 

You need an iron will to strike a well-executed Soufflé Suissesse from the race card, especially one that has found a perfect partner in the form of a young Jacquère from the Savoie, but with ruthless saing froid we rejected it in favour of new season’s asparagus with parmesan shavings and a truffle dressing that had a marvellous affinity with an interesting, organic Faugères Blanc from Château des Estanilles.

 

Asparagus with parmesan shavings and a truffle dressing

Asparagus with parmesan shavings and a truffle dressing

 

If that decision was a tough one the next was harder still. After sampling various different piscine plates we ended up with a near dead heat between a garlic risotto with squid and galinette et ratatouille. The latter won the day on points as it absolutely shone alongside an on form Cassis: Clos Sainte Magdeleine 2013. Provençal Perfection – I would not have been surprised to open my eyes and find myself sitting in a cove beneath Les Calanques!

 

Galinette et ratatouille

Galinette et ratatouille

 

After leaning towards lamb with spring vegetables for our main course our heads were turned by an audacious dish of pork loin and belly served with macaroni, wild mushrooms and a green mustard sauce that romped home hotly pursued by Fredrik Fillitreau’s sublime old vine Saumur-Champigny and a tub-thumping Bandol ‘Mas de la Rouvière’.

 

Silvano and Chef Michel

Silvano and Chef Michel

 

The assiette des desserts at Le Gavroche is a thing of wonder and I for one struggle to forgo the peerless and unashamedly boozy rhum baba but Silvano is a stickler for seasonality and pointed out that more sophisticated palates than mine might appreciate a delicate rhubarb and ginger panna cotta. To partner this heavenly creation we plumped for a Jurançon Moelleux from Domaine Bellegarde, packed with honeyed, orchard fruit and offset by a fine acidity this should bring proceedings to a suitably uplifting conclusion.

Writing this back in the more profane atmosphere of our office I’m already looking forward to my return visit next week!

 

 

Asparagus Tips  »

May 8th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

The English asparagus season is upon us which is a cause of celebration in its own right. I boycott the inferior, factory farmed Peruvian stuff with its indefensible air miles, which is available all the year round in the supermarkets, so tend to go overboard when our peerless home grown spears become available. The big question, that I’m frequently asked, is: What wine to serve with this monarch of the vegetable world? For many years my default response was ‘Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley’s Central Vineyards’. There is something about the racy minerality of a top notch Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé that has a magical affinity with the verdant, freshness of new season’s asparagus.

 

Wines to go with asparagus

 

As my culinary horizons extended I experimented with different cooking methods – having started out as a plain ‘boiler’ (oh the ignorance of youth) I became an ardent steamer (so sophisticated), then an oven roaster and finally an on-trend griddler and griller. How you cook asparagus and, moreover, what you choose to serve it with does have a bearing on what wines you can partner it with. At Le Gavroche, where they serve it with shavings of summer truffles, head sommelier David Galetti favours a Corsican Vermentino which is a bold and beautiful match as the sun-kissed, scrub scented wine marries perfectly with the tender stalks and earthy truffle flavours. If you adorn your asparagus with mozzarella, olive oil, Parma ham, Hollandaise sauce or shavings of Parmesan cheese it can stand up to Chenin Blancs, Pinot Grigio and lighter un-oaked Chardonnays.

 

Asparagus

 

A happy discovery last year was a white Appellation d’Origine Protégée ‘Duché d’Uzès’ from Domaine Camp Galhan called ‘Cuvée Amanlie‘. It is made by a chap called Lionel Pourquier from a blend of Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Roussanne and according to no lesser personage than Robert Parker it ‘offers pungent cress, lemon zest, and white pepper along with ripe peach’. As well as being an accomplished wine-maker Lionel also cultivates asparagus so perhaps it is unsurprising that his Amanlie makes a magnificent accompaniment to it.

 

Amanlie and asparagus

 

My rule of thumb is to avoid any wines that are too exotically scented, oaky or full-bodied and plump for nervy, youthful bottlings that capture the spirit of Spring. Today I’ve pretty much come full circle – if you lightly steam a generous quantity of spears (never too thick or fine), refresh them with cold water to arrest the cooking and dress them with good olive oil and lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper and serve them with a chilled glass of Pouilly Fumé or such-like you can’t really improve on that. I’ve just taken the photograph below, the sun is shining and you can guess what happened next!

 

Wine and asparagus

 

 

Yapp Brothers – Own Label Wines  »

May 1st, 2015 by Jason Yapp

There is much excitement here at Yapp H.Q. in Mere as our keenly-anticipated, new own label bottlings have just arrived. One could argue that we have been slow off the mark here but, in mitigation, we do have a long and proud history of commissioning some great bespoke labels such as our magnificent Muscadet label by Quentin Blake that my father Robin persuaded him to produce back in 1985.

 

Quentin Blake - Yapp Brothers Muscadet Label

 

In the mid-1990s I then cajoled the erudite and talented Pippa Goldfinger to design some strikingly modernist and minimalist labels based on graffito of Charles de Gaulle for our top-selling red and white Saumur. These too have had enduring appeal – although they upset a few traditionalists in the Shires when they first appeared on the scene.

 

Yapp Brothers - Saumur wine

 

This time around in response to customer demand for reliable and affordable wines for everyday drinking we have collaborated with our good friend David Chandler whose eye catching iPad illustrations were very well received in our 2013 list. Both wines hail from the Ardèche and we have had them bottled under screw-cap to conserve their youthful fruit and eliminate the possibility of cork taint. The ‘Yapp Blanc’ is made from a blend of white Grenache and Sauvignon and is un-oaked, fresh, dry and fruity. Its red sibling is made from pure Cabernet Sauvignon has lots of ripe hedgerow berry fruit offset by a fresh acidity. Both are light enough to enjoy on their own but have enough weight to accompany food too.

 

Yapp Brothers Own Label Wines

 

David’s design remit was fairly broad but we were keen to have an image that was readily recognisable, unmistakably Gallic and evocative of our joie de vivre. Having depicted it many times David was understandably drawn to our old Citroën H-van which seemed a good starting point although his original prototype went through many modifications before we could sign off on it. At one point we thought we had it nailed before my Dutch colleague Bianca politely pointed out that David had deployed her national flag as his background!

 

Yapp Label Version

 

There then followed a long exchange of e-mails to France to make sure we complied with the arcane labelling and lettering laws not to mention prolonged negotiations about bottle shapes, colours and closures. A neat finishing touch saw the van’s number plate sporting the vintage of the wine. Happily we got there in the end and we hope you enjoy the finished products as much as we do.

 

Yapp Own Label WInes - Final design

 

In an effort to reward the party faithful for their loyalty and patience we are giving away a bottle of both the red and the white with all of our (full case) Spring Offers: http://www.yapp.co.uk/Current-wine-offers/mixed-cases/ and you are also welcome to come and try them in our shop.

 

yapp own label wines display

 

Santé!

 

Jason Yapp - own label wines

 

 

Greatest Hits  »

April 22nd, 2015 by Jason Yapp

The affinity between fine wine and great music has long been documented so I thought it might be fun to recall some of the best wines that I have been privileged to sample and pair them with resonant recordings released in the year of each vintage. Of course, taste in anything is subjective and dependent upon numerous variables so if you disagree with my selections feel free to compile your own.

 

Hermitage: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 1978

 

Hermitage: Domaine Jean-Louis Chave 1978
I have had the pleasure of tasting this iconic bottling on several occasions over the last 20 years but it is now a very rare and sought-after wine so I’ve no idea if or when I’ll get to sample it again. 1978 was a touch-stone vintage in the Northern Rhône – a cool and wet spring reduced yields but a warm summer followed creating the raw material to make powerful, tannic wines of great concentration and longevity. Now fully mature the legendary Chave ’78 is beautifully balanced with warm red stone fruit scents and flavours, a sensuous texture and long, persistent finish. 1978 was a marvellous year for music too although I doubt the likes of Gérard Chave and Auguste Clape had much insight into the burgeoning British punk scene at the time. If pushed I’d have to go for Siouxsie and the Banshees debut single ‘Hong Kong Garden’ to accompany this beauty.

 

Sauternes: Château d'Yquem 1967

 

Sauternes: Château d’Yquem 1967
This is an evocative wine for me as I was born in 1967 and I once blew a month’s wages on a single bottle that I drank many years later in very good company including Michael Broadbent who has sampled it on almost fifty occasions and says ‘ambrosial’ is the adjective that always springs to mind. I possess only one half-bottle in my cellar, which was previously the property of the late, great bon viveur and diarist Alan Clark. I am saving it for my dotage when I shall share it with whoever can abide my company – I’ll put an original vinyl copy of the Kinks’ ‘Waterloo Sunset’ on the turntable and reflect on the thought that as the grapes that made the wine were developing so was I.

 

Domaine de Trévallon 1990

 

Domaine de Trévallon 1990
I have an enduring penchant for Domaine de Trévallon but it is jolly vintage sensitive and it is a pity it is no longer the bargain it was before it came to the attention of an international audience. I’ve been lucky enough to taste just about every vintage ever produced, some many times, and I think my all-time favourite is the 1990. It has all the components of a great wine – fruit, tannin, acidity and finesse and they are all harmoniously integrated. It is still drinking beautifully and I imagine will continue to do so for another decade or more. 1990 was a dodgy year in the charts though with the New Kids on the Block, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Janet Jackson all featuring prominently but I think Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares to You’ stands the test of time – one could certainly do far worse.

 

Saint Julien Chateau Gruaud Larose 1982

 

Saint-Julien: Château Gruaud Larose 1982
Much as I love mature classed growth Claret I sadly possess very little but I was treated to a bottle of this by Bordeaux big-wig Stephen Browett, the boss of Farr Vintners, and I felt the earth move. Robert Parker observed that it was built for the long haul stating that: “This behemoth is a singularly profound example of Gruaud Larose that continues to justify its legendary status.” ‘A Town Called Malice’ by The Jam would be my prescribed musical accompaniment.

 

Morey-Saint-Denis: Clos du Tart 2003

 

Morey-Saint-Denis: Clos du Tart 2003
Despite having worked in the wine trade all of my adult life and having spent a year in my twenties living in Burgundy I retained a bit of a Pinot Noir block until my forties. Adam Brett-Smith of Corney & Barrow very generously sent a glass of this over to my table when we were dining in the same establishment and it was a revelation. Something clicked into place and (as with first class air travel) I realised that I was born into the wrong family. Nil desperandum I can always cheer myself with a bit of Beyoncé being ‘Crazy in Love’ with her future husband Jay Z.

 

Screaming Eagle 1997

 

Screaming Eagle 1997
So many of the best wines I have tasted have been down to the generosity of others and their eagerness to share their enthusiasm and this is no exception. Restaurateur and print expert Andrew Edmunds popped a cork on this Californian rarity without a second thought to its value one lunchtime and it went down very well with some lamb chops and mashed potato. Complex and concentrated it has been described as a ‘perfect’ wine but its four figure price tag probably precludes my sampling it again. Is there such a thing as a perfect record? Erykak Badu’s ‘On and on’ is surely close to perfection.

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Père Caboche 1959

 

Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Père Caboche 1959
Jean-Pierre Boisson the erstwhile mayor of Châteauneuf-du-Pape once indulged me with oldest Southern Rhône wine I’ve ever sampled to prove the point that old vine Grenache can age gracefully. Well he was right this beauty had a faded robe but lots of stewed red berry flavours and a lovely silky texture. If I ever get my hands on another bottle I shall accompany it with an equally enduring hit Dion and the Belmonts ‘Teenager in Love’.

 

Saumur-Champigny 'Vieilles Vignes': Domaine Filliatreau 1989

 

Saumur-Champigny ‘Vieilles Vignes’: Domaine Filliatreau 1989
1989 (the year of my graduation) was an outstanding vintage in the Loire valley – a warm summer yielded wonderfully rich, powerful, age-worthy reds of which this is a prime example. Matthew Jukes avers that this is a ‘mesmerising and peerless glimpse of what Loire Cabernet Franc is capable of’ and I concur. As ever large bottle bottle formats have aged best just like ‘Back to Life’ by Soul II Soul.

 

Krug Brut 1982

 

Krug Brut 1982
I first sampled this when I was stacking shelves in Oddbins in Marylebone and I think my penury made it taste all the more wonderful. Long, layered, complex and refined – this is one premium Champagne that is worthy of its reputation. In the unlikely event of our paths crossing again I’ll ‘Get Down On It’ with Kool and the Gang.

 

Port: Fonseca 1977

 

Port: Fonseca 1977
I bought and stashed a few bottles of the brilliant ‘Jubilee’ vintage when I first secured (almost) gainful employment. It’s stood the test of time and still exhibits amazing youth and plenty of dark, sweet, alluring fruit – just the thing to accompany a cheese board and ‘White Riot’ by The Clash.

 

 

Market Forces  »

April 15th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

In keen anticipation of a family holiday in France thoughts turn to the pleasures of French market shopping and the wealth and quality of the comestibles to be found and fine meals that will ensue. The first task is to select a decent market. In high summer that means nothing too large or touristy. Bigger towns that attract a multitude of visitors are hellish to park in, have a higher ratio of vendors selling tat and you are more likely to get fleeced. There will always be African guys selling fake Raybans and Bob Marley T-shirts on the periphery of proceedings but an influx of people inflicting henna tattoos and hair braids is best avoided. Another key point is to get there early. This is when the locals shop, when the bars and cafés are still accessible and when the best provender is to be bagged. You also avoid the ignominy of hearing your compatriots murder la belle langue française or, worse still, bellow in English under the common miss-conception that the louder they speak the more comprehensible they become.

 

fraises - strawberries

 

The first thing to do on arrival is buy bread – you can always take it back to your car if you don’t want to cart it around. The French rely on their pain quotidien and the boulangerie is where the longest queues will form by mid-morning. The second, for the same reason, is to have a quick stand-up coffee in a bar. If you want to sit outside a café at 11am being studiously ignored by an over-worked waiter then good luck to you. I then like to assign tasks to my various cohorts (being bossy as well as snobbish) so we are not doubling up duties and buying 3 punnets of strawberries but no melons. Speaking of melons I get them almost last of all due to their bulk and weight, ditto booze – although finding potable plonk at le marché is a fool’s errand so I tend to stock up elsewhere. The melons, which are small-ish and from the Charente, are second to none. They have a wonderfully succulent texture and are sweet and juicy. I’m acquainted with several French elders who swear by sniffing them prior to purchase but if this is of any true benefit it is lost on me.

 

Ham and Melon

 

Cheese, although fantastic, should be bought with caution as Gallic fromagères are taught from an early age how to deftly draw a cheese-wire at an acute angle so that you end up with a wedge 3 times the size you had indicated. When this, inevitably, occurs you must insist that they subdivide the slab in question so that you leave with only 50% more than you intended. The little goat cheeses called cabicou are particularly good in salads dressed with walnut oil when they are young and fresh and snowy white beneath their creamy skins.

 

Fromage at Thiviers Market

Fromage at Thiviers Market

 

I rarely buy much in the way of meat on market day and am never tempted by horse although it is meant to be both healthy and tasty. The exception being rotisserie chicken (you need to specify fermière to get one of good provenance) which we buy last of all to take home and scoff with potatoes basted in the roasting juices and a crisp, green salad. Fish is another matter altogether and it is a sorry market that doesn’t boast a poissonnerie selling oysters, sea snails, and langoustines which make for wonderful al fresco eating.

 

Rotisserie - poulet -  chicken

 

Saladings (aka rabbit food) and veg I leave to the memsahib (add sexist to that list of shortcomings) as she takes an interest in such matters and is much more likely to procure tasty tomatoes and lively lettuce than a Philistine like me.

 

Artichokes - artichauts

 

By and large we try and avoid impulse buys but that is not to say that we don’t boast a fine collection of mouse traps, unworn espadrilles, garlic crushers and wind chimes. So when your attention starts to drift and you are on the verge of buying something you neither want nor need it is time to beat a tactical retreat before the hordes descend.

 

Dejeuner Chez Child

Dejeuner Chez Child

 

Once back at your lodgings it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labour which should be unpacked straight on to an outdoor table and accompanied by a glass of something chilled and inappropriate for the disenfranchised.

 

Thiviers Church

Thiviers Church

 

So if you find yourself in Thiviers, Nontron or Piégut-Pluviers during les vacances and see a well fed Englishman laden with shopping that could well be me.