Yapp Brothers Blog

Southern Symbolism  »

November 19th, 2014 by Jason Yapp

I was hosting a tasting for WSET diploma students last week and an inquisitive attendee from Korea asked me what the embossed crossed keys on the bottle of 2011 Châteaunueuf-du-Pape from Le Vieux Donjon symbolised. I was able to elucidate with a degree of professionalism that Avignon-based Clement V had been installed as the first of the ‘exiled’ Popes in 1309 and that his successor John XXII built his summer residence up-river in Châteauneuf’ between 1318 and 1333 giving the town both its name and its enduring links with the head of the Catholic church. I knew that the keys of Saint Peter symbol denoted a bottle of authentic château-bottled wine but I did not know that it was the great visionary Baron Pierre Le Roy Boiseaumarié himself, creator of the seminal Appellation Contrôlée system, who devised the embossed bottle as a way of distinguishing Châteauneuf’ from lesser pretenders. You can see it here on the only vintage I have to hand which is older than I am – a bottle of 1964 Chante Cigale but it was actually introduced in 1937 just one year after the appellation originated.


Chante Cigale 1964


It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and like many nifty ideas Baron Pierre’s raised relief has been ripped-off by all-manner of upstarts.


Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié

Baron Pierre Le Roy de Boiseaumarié


20 kilometres away in Gigondas they’ve opted for a shield a hunting horn and some foliage while across the river in Lirac they’ve got a spikey shield and what appears to be an arc de triomphe – although it might be a Cyclops robot – I’m extemporising here.




The pesky plagiarists of Vacqueyras have gone for a shameless bit of recessed cross key imagery while down in Corsica we get the majestic Moore’s head, a scallop shell, Neptune’s crown and a couple of Mer-people to boot. Obviously quite a broad brief on that one with understandable nautical leanings.




What really put a fly in the ointment though is that a whole bunch of Châteauneuf’ vignerons begrudged paying the subs for their right to deploy the Pontiff’s portal-opener imagery and, about a decade ago, introduced the controversial, rival embossed Mitre-bearing bottle. Traditionalists were incandescent and siblings stopped speaking to one another but to this day both symbols vie for supremacy. Personally I prefer the Baron’s original emblem but there is plenty of decent wine that ends up in ‘pointy hat’ bottles.


Chateauneuf-du-Pape mitre bottle


Not that the Baron was entirely original himself. Are great ideas always inspired rather than freshly forged? As this 1858 bottle of Bouzy illustrates wine-makers were embossing bottle-necks at least 79 years before the syndicateurs of Châteauneuf’ staked their claim.


Bouzy - 1858


The 2011 Vieux Donjon was unimpeachable by the way. Not a blockbuster but lots of briary garrigue berry fruit and gentle, spicy undertones against a background of supple tannins and cracked black pepper. I am sure the Baron would have approved!



Blind Tasting Reveal & Competition Results  »

November 12th, 2014 by Tom Ashworth

Great to see so many Yapp customers at our tasting at Vintners’ Hall on Tuesday evening, many of whom gamely had a crack at identifying our blind wine. We never find blind tasting easy (indeed, it’s often humbling), but it keeps one match-fit and focuses the mind.


Patrick Jasmin’s Côte Rôtie 2001


The wine was Patrick Jasmin’s Côte Rôtie 2001. Only one individual identified the appellation and they reckoned it was 2009 (which shows how well the 2001 has aged). Close, but no cigar – we’ll send them a corkscrew as we’re feeling generous! Several entrants thought the wine was Burgundy which isn’t far off the mark as Patrick’s Côte Rôtie has been described by Robert Parker as “the most Burgundian of the appellation”. Here’s Bob’s tasting note on the wine itself which he scored 90-92/100:
“The 2001 Cote Rotie’s deep ruby color is accompanied by explosive aromas of sweet raspberry fruit intermixed with a hint of apricots (7-8% Viognier is added to the blend). Well-delineated and floral, with a cherry/raspberry fruit component beautifully displayed, this medium-bodied 2001 is not a blockbuster, but it wins the taster over with its delicacy and finesse.”


Three Wine Men - Competition Autumn 2014


We also wrapped up our competition to win bottles signed by the ‘Three Wine Men’ Olly Smith, Oz Clarke and Tim Atkin.
Ms. Benson from Yorkshire receives the bottles as she was randomly selected from ‘correct respondents’. There were five runners-up, and the answers were as follows:

  1. This Gamay is from the Ardèche, but which French region just north of Lyon is most famous for making wine with this grape? Beaujolais
  2. Côtes du Thongue is part of which vast wine region beginning with ‘L’ that runs from Arles to Perpignan? Languedoc
  3. Château Fouquet lies in the appellation of Saumur. What is the name of the neighbouring appellation where you can ONLY make red wine? Saumur Champigny

Watch these pages for more competitions and, in the meantime, more practice needed on your blind tasting!



The Battle for Vimy Ridge  »

November 7th, 2014 by Tom Ashworth

My excursions to France, whether for business or pleasure, normally see me emerge from the Eurotunnel and steam south on the A26 heading for Champagne or sunnier climes. The Nord-Pas–de Calais region seems to have little that encourages one to linger. This summer, however, I decided to dally overnight in the pretty medieval market town of Arras, one hour’s drive from the Channel.

Arras, with its Flemish-Baroque townhouses, UNESCO-listed belfry and network of underground galleries ‘Les Boves’ is well worth a stop in its own right, but I particularly wished to visit a WWI battlefield. Several friends had recommended this experience to me and, with the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the War upon us, it seemed particularly poignant, not least as my grand-father, Anthony Ashworth, had fought with the Lancashire Fusiliers on this front in 1916.


Vimy Ridge Memorial

Vimy Ridge Memorial


We chose to visit Vimy Ridge, an escarpment 8 kilometres east of Arras that was taken by Canadian troops over four days in April 1917. The memorial and visitor centre sits in 100 hectares of land bestowed on the Canadians by the French government after the war in recognition of their sacrifices. The battle (and the site itself) holds symbolic significance for Canada and, although the action was largely perceived to be a success of tactics and planning, they endured 4,000 mortalities and 7,000 wounded. Four VCs were awarded for valour in this action.


WW1 trenches


Even 100 years-on much of the terrain, honeycombed with trenches, tunnels and craters, remains closed to the public because of unexploded munitions. This in itself is an indication of the destruction wrought. Visiting the war graves could not fail to move the hardest of hearts. The many names, the callow ages, the preponderance of unknown graves marked simply ‘Known unto God’.


WW1 grave stones


We write a lot on our website and in this blog about living life to the full. Next time you are planning your route south, I would humbly advocate taking a small detour to honour those who never enjoyed that privilege.



That’s the Spirit!  »

November 6th, 2014 by Hamish Catanach

We’re set up in residence again for the Spirit of Christmas in Olympia after our inaugural visit last year and safe to say we’re feeling at home already!


Spirit of Christmas Fair, Olympia 2014


It’s always an odd feeling for me, getting on a train in the early hours of an early November morning trying to shift prematurely into ‘festive mood’ but there’s something about the 6 day bash that does trigger the Christmas Spirit.

There is just so much to see, taste and buy – I can’t think of any aspect of the festivities that are not catered for – we’ve got some terrific wines open for tasting and have a great selection of gifts and novel stocking fillers off the beaten track – yesterday we were cleaned out of Ratafia de Champagne – but thankfully the Yapp vans are heading back to London today to re-supply!


Yapp Brothers - Spirit of Christmas Fair


We’re set up at stand FD28, upstairs – come along and see us – we’re there until Sunday 9th November – literally the spirit in the sky!

Spirit of Christmas 2014 – http://www.spiritofchristmasfair.co.uk/



Rhône Ramble – Part 2  »

October 27th, 2014 by Jonathan Hoad

Bright eyed and bushy tailed after a good night’s kip we were now ready for the Northern part of our Rhône foray. First stop was a visit to long-standing Yapp supplier and Rhône ‘royalty’ Jean-Louis & Erin Chave. On the way we dropped into the 4 hectare Clos Florentin vineyard which is where the Chave’s have Roussanne vines from they produce the divine Saint Joseph ‘Céleste’ Blanc.


conkers & vines

Vines at Clos Florentin. The Chave’s traditionally begin their harvest ‘When the first conker falls’


Moving onto their newly-expanded cellars in Mauve, we were given an informative talk and tasting by Jean-Louis of the 2013 Hermitage white and red that is currently in barrel. It was fascinating to taste the nuances of the individual ‘lieux dits’ that are vinified separately ahead of the final blending that produces their iconic Hermitage. Jean-Louis is a consummate wine maker and has a progressive outlook when it comes to modernising the Domaine. The recently-developed cellars were impressive but it was also fascinating to hear him talk of the tradition that has been carried down through the many Chave generations and he is very passionate about being in tune with nature and the soil when he is making his wines. Indeed, he stated that his Grandfather’s mantra that “the harvest should begin when the first conker falls” still works today.


Team Yapp chez Chave

Jason & Tom catch up with old friends (Jean-Louis’ parents) Gérard & Monique Chave. In the background you can see the next generation in waiting.


From Mauves, we drove on to another Yapp stalwart, and the dark, brooding wines of Pierre & Oliver Clape in Cornas. This father and son team consistently produce stunning wines vintage on vintage and it is no surprise that we sell through our allocation rapidly! Another tasting from barrels of their 2013 affirmed that this is shaping up to be a classic vintage. Similar to the excellent 2005 and a certain ‘vin de garde’.


Olivier Clape - Cornas 2013

Olivier Clape taking a barrel sample of the 2013 Cornas


To finish what had been an excellent day of tasting we whizzed down to Brézème and Domaine Lombard. We have been importing these wines for some time from wine maker Jean-Marie Lombard, but recently he sold up and retired and we were keen to meet the new owners. Julien and Emmanuelle Montagnon were most welcoming and we were all impressed with their enthusiasm and energy in what they were doing. The Domaine has had some major investment in terms of equipment and buildings and Julien is very keen to expand both the quality and the recognition of wines from this region. To this end they are soon to be certified organic. Certainly in terms of what we tasted they are on the right track and you will need to keep an eye out on our website and 2015 list for evidence of this progression and some exciting new wines.


Maxime and Antoine Graillot

Maxime and Antoine Graillot


Day three was upon us and any sadness about leaving what has been a stunning whistle-stop tour of the Rhône valley was tempered with the knowledge that we still had three premier domaines to visit before our flight from Lyon. First up was a visit to Domaine Alain Graillot to meet with Antoine & Maxime Graillot alongside their good friend and business partner Thomas Schmittel. The Frères Graillot have been continuing their father’s great work and the Domaine goes from strength to strength. Thomas described the difficult 2014 vintage as one where they ‘learnt a lot’. Time will tell how this will develop but for now the 2013 were showing very well indeed.


Patrick Jasmin

Patrick Jasmin pours some 2009


Leaving the flat Chassis plateau and Crozes Hermitage, we continued ever northward to the steep slopes of Côte Rôtie and Domaine Patrick Jasmin. With his cellars in the heart of Ampuis Patrick produces elegant wines with plenty of structure and depth. He produces just one cuvée of Côte Rôtie from different parcels of vines located in both the Côte Brune and the Côte Blonde. It was most interesting to see Patrick take samples from several barrels to give us an impromptu blending of his 2013 vintage! We also got to taste a flight of vintages back to 2009 which was a top year and it was indeed a top wine.


Team Yapp - Patrick & Arlette Jasmin

Yapp and the Jasmin’s share lunch and some laughs in Ampuis


We had a most enjoyable lunch with Patrick and his wife Arlette just down the road from their cellars at Bistro de Sérine, where Patrick caused some amusement by complaining that he often could find no food in the house and was glad to be able to take us to the Bistro. Arlette remarked that perhaps his stout figure did not necessarily reflect the validity of his complaint. We’ll leave you to decide!

Our final stop was at Domaine Georges Vernay for a quick taste of the latest vintages before we headed into the hills for a look at the stunning terraced vineyards of Château Grillet.


Château Grillet

The Château Grillet ‘amphitheatre’ of vines


As our plane departed Lyon to eventually join the Heathrow stacking system later that evening, we had time to reflect on our visits and discuss our tasting notes. Do watch out for the definitive Rhône Report that Jason Yapp is putting the finishing touches to ahead of our launch of our ‘en primeur’ Rhône offerings!


Jason Yapp - Cornas

Jason compiling notes for the Yapp Rhône Report



Rhône Ramble – The South  »

October 22nd, 2014 by Jonathan Hoad
Chateauneuf du Pape Fountain

Jonathan at the fountain in Chateauneuf du Pape. We’ve got one just like that…


By the time we arrived in Châteauneuf-du-Pape on Monday, morning mists were clearing to reveal a vista of vines in golden Autumn sunshine. Our first port of call was at Le Vieux Donjon where a smiling Claire Michel told us she was relieved to have completed the complicated 2014 harvest. Hot on the heels of the Wine Advocate’s Rhône guru Jeb Dunnuck, who is a great admirer of this traditional estate, we tasted a vat blend of the short and atypical 2013 harvest which will have a lower Grenache content than usual due to a cool Spring inhibiting fruit development.


Chateauneuf du Pape


Next stop up the road at Domaine du Père Caboche, Emilie Boisson concurred that 2014 and 2013 were two very different vintages but both with their individual charms. With lots to do on our three day mission, we sadly did not have too much time to linger before we were back on the road.


Jean-Pierre and Emilie Boisson

Jean-Pierre and Emilie Boisson – Domaine du Père Caboche


This time we pointed the voiture due north-east, heading for the imposing edifice of the Dentelles Montmirail and the picturesque Domaine Saint Gayan. A friendly welcome from Syrah, the domaine’s black labrador, was followed with equally amiable greetings and then tasting from Jean-Pierre Meffre and his son-in-law Christian-Yves.


Jean-Pierre Meffre - Domaine Saint Gayan

Jean-Pierre Meffre – Domaine Saint Gayan


The departure from the Meffres also meant our leaving the Southern Rhône as we sped north through the industrial landscape of Les Usines Rhoddannienes towards Tain L’Hermitage and the more hilly North. We had time for a quick hotel freshen-up before venturing out to replenish our dwindling energy levels with a superb dinner at Le Mangevins, where the quality of the cuisine is matched equally with the depth of the wine list which had some absolute gems at “rub your eyes” great value prices.


Team Yapp - Chateauneuf du Pape

Team Yapp hit Châteauneuf


Fully sated we repaired to bed ready for day two…