Yapp Brothers Blog

The Lionheart Roars Again  »

March 24th, 2015 by Hamish Catanach

On Sunday we once again opened the doors of Yapp HQ to host a feeding station on the route of the Lionheart Sportive (http://humanrace.co.uk/events/cycling/lionheart-sportive) where over 1000 riders clad in various shades of lycra appeared like a swarm of near biblical proportions.


Lionheart - Yapp Brothers courtyard


We’d stocked up well with Vin de Pays de Vaucluse: Le Petit Caboche 2013 from the Yapp cellars and secured samples from our routine partners in crime at Godminster Cheese (http://www.godminster.com/) in Bruton where we complimented the real cycling energy food and added a French flavour to the proceedings.


Lionheart - Yapp Brothers - Petit Caboche


This year, unlike previous years, we were the last feed station on the route, so a fairly common comment from the now flagging cyclists after seeing the wine and cheese offering was ‘I think I might just stay here now and call it a day’ although a fair few riders had been using us as the proverbial carrot – just before joining us the comment had been ‘keep going, cheese and wine in 5 miles’!


Yapp Brothers Lionheart signs


I’m always impressed with these people who head off from Longleat at 8.00am on a Sunday in March knowing that there are either 100km or 100 miles ahead of them – and even when we finally see them 50 miles into the ride they are all in such high spirits and up for most anything – but particularly a slug of great red wine and some seriously good cheese!


Yapp Brothers - Lionheart - Andy

Yapp Brothers – Andy


Any riders local to Yapp HQ are advised that this Saturday, 28th March sees the first Yapp Tasting and Sale of the year where they’d be more than welcome to pay us a return visit – although there is no dress code, in this instance, excessive lycra may be slightly frowned upon in the tasting room!

Bin End Wine Tasting and Sale
Saturday 28th March 2015 – Yapp Brothers, Water Street, Mere, Wiltshire BA12 6DY
9.30am – 5.00pm.



David Chandler’s Urban Sketching  »

March 18th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

We were delighted to play host last Saturday to our good friend and frequent collaborator the artist David Chandler – whose work you may recognise from our seasonal offer leaflets and new ‘own label’ wines. David tutors a group of urban sketchers of various ages and denominations who all share a passion for drawing the built environment.


Urban sketchers - Yapp wines, Mere


He thought that they might enjoy visiting our premises in Mere with our fountain, antique wine presses, industrial chimney and old French vehicles giving a rich source of pictorial material. Despite chilly conditions there was a good turn out and an upbeat atmosphere amongst the draughts-men and women.


Urban sketchers - Yapp HQ


As several of the group were making their first ever visits to Yapp HQ I thought it churlish not to conduct a quick tasting of some of my favourite wines just before lunchtime and I think the sketchers were grateful of the opportunity to warm up in our boardroom. Our Vouvray Mousseux Brut proved a restorative crowd-pleaser and our Saint-Chinian ‘Cuvée Magali’ 2012, described by Matthew Jukes in ‘Money Week’ as ‘the definitive all-purpose winter red’, definitely brought some colour to their cheeks. We rounded off with a rich, honeyed Jurançon Mœlleux 2012 from Domaine Bellegarde which was very well-received by David and his team several of whom headed over to our shop to buy some bottles.


Urban sketchers - wine tasting


The fringe benefit of a most enjoyable day is a terrific collection of new artwork looking at our premises with fresh eyes and a wonderful variety of styles.


Urban sketchers - Yapp Brothers Old Brewery


If you fancy putting pencil to paper and want to find out more about David’s courses then do visit his website: http://www.davidchandler.net/


Urban sketchers - David Chandler



À Table  »

March 10th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

As someone who spends an indecent amount of time browsing and sluicing under the pretence of working I am frequently asked to name my favourite restaurants. Of course it is tempting to rattle off a list of ultra-fashionable, Michelin be-starred dining establishments where mortals cannot obtain a table at a time anyone would actually want to eat but, here I thought I would set the record straight and give you the low down (in no particular order) on the places I most frequent.

Hardy’s – 53 Dorset Street, London W1. www.hardysbrasserie.com


Hardy's Brasserie


This brilliant neighbourhood brassiere in the heart of what estate agents call ‘Marylebone village’ is an understated gem. You can call in for a coffee and a croissant or enjoy a four course expense account blow out and you will be given an equally warm welcome. The whole enterprise is presided over with élan by savvy patronne Dominique de Bastarrechea who has compiled an excellent wine list through which she will happily guide you.
Eat: Double-baked smoked haddock and cheddar soufflé.
Drink: Sancerre ‘Les Perriers’ 2013: André Vatan.


The Thai Kitchen – 8 King Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11. www.thaikitchenfrome.com


The Thai Kitchen, Frome


This bijou family-run local has no frills but the front of house service is exemplary and the food is sensationally fresh and very reasonably-priced. There is no wine list but corkage is minimal and they have a terrific shop stocking over 200 authentic Thai ingredients.
Eat: Som Tam – papaya salad.
Drink: Lime juice.


Andrew Edmunds – 46 Lexington Street, London, W1. www.andrewedmunds.com


Andrew Edmunds


I was first taken to this Dickensian Soho stalwart by my Dad when I was an undergraduate in the 1980s and the earth moved for me – if not for him. Until that point I hadn’t realised it was possible to combine simplicity and sophistication to such great effect and I can still recall being impressed by the wonderfully minimalist ‘Modern British’ menu and arcane list of world class wines. Today the food and wine are as good as ever and I am happy to count myself as a regular.
Eat: Beef shin ragu with rigatoni.
Drink: Collioure ‘La Pinède’ 2012: Domaine la Tour Vieille.


The Talbot Inn – Mells, Somerset, BA11. www.talbotinn.com


The Talbot Inn, Mells


I am a man with a mission to sustain the tradition of the ‘working lunch’ when two or three colleagues or associates get together and vaguely touch upon business matters while enjoying some really good food, wine and company. The Talbot lends itself well to this although it is an excellent dinner venue too. The grill, housed in an old coach house, where we recently held our staff party, is particularly good. Its sister establishment the Beckford Arms in Fonthill Gifford is also exemplary.
Eat: Home-smoked trout terrine.
Drink: Butcombe bitter.


Otto’s – 182 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1. www.ottos-restaurant.com


Otto's Restaurant

Otto Tepasse and Jason Yapp


In an era when chains proliferate and bean-counters seem to be running the show Otto’s is a refreshing throwback to fin de siècle glamour when the customer was king and nothing was too much trouble. Tour d’Argent-trained owner Otto serves up inimitable treats such as pressed lobster or duck (advance booking required) that have gastronomes and greedy hogs (like myself) beating a path to his door. The wine list is superb and very benignly-priced.
Eat: Hommard à la presse.
Drink: Condrieu ‘Couteau de Vernon’ 2012: Georges Vernay


Le Gavroche – 43 Upper Brook Street, London, W1. www.le-gavroche.co.uk


Le Gavroche


My impecuniosity and its’ popularity mean that I don’t dine at Le Gavroche as frequently as I might wish – but does anyone? Fortunately, I have a long-standing arrangement to host wine lunches there so do get through the doors fairly regularly. For me this represents perfection – an insightful 21st century take on classic French cuisine run by the best-drilled team in the business.
Eat: Oeuf poche Victoria or soufflé Suissesse.
Drink: Whatever chef sommelier David Galetti recommends – he’s inspired!


L’Hôtel de France – Saint-Pardoux la Rivière, Périgord, France. www.hoteldefrance-cibot.com


Hotel de France


I have been visiting this small town Hôtel and restaurant, which is run with panache and passion by the Cibot family, for over twenty years and it ought to be subject to a preservation order. It never disappoints but is at its best in the summer when we meet up with other families to share an enormous table on the terrace for long and languorous lunches. The ‘Menu de Jour’ is ridiculously good value but I love the ‘Menu Perigourdin’ which features wild mushrooms, foie gras and confit du canard.
Eat: Omlette aux cèpes.
Drink: Chilled Saumur-Champigny.


The High Pavement Evening Café – 8 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11.


The High Pavement Evening Cafe


This gem of a local, located in an old townhouse, is bijou and bustling so advance booking is advisable. It is only open on Friday and Saturday evening and is run with infectious enthusiasm by Stuart Bastiman in the kitchen and Aimee Snell at the front of house. The cuisine is Iberian and Moorish in its leanings and the short, regularly-changing menu, is well considered and very well executed.
Eat: Smoked aubergine and feta croquettas.
Drink: ‘Tandem’ Syrah du Maroc 2011: Alain Graillot


Bellamy’s of Bruton Place – 18 Bruton Place, London, W1. www.bellamysrestaurant .co.uk


Bellamy's Restaurant


I have a nagging doubt that I seriously lower the tone of this smoothly-run Mayfair institution every time I pitch up but the attentive owner-operator Gavin Rankin keeps a stiff upper lip and has yet to banish me. It is renowned for its caviar and oysters but there isn’t a duff dish on the menu and the wine list has something for everybody and some interesting offerings by the glass.
Eat: Whitebait.
Drink: Vouvray Sec 2012: Domaine Aubert.


The Dragon Pearl – 18 Palmer Street, Frome, Somerset, BA11. www.dragon-pearl.co.uk


Dragon Pearl Chinese Restaurant Frome


This family-run Chinese restaurant is situated on the top floor of a former department store giving marvellous views and the air of being on an ocean liner. It is a great place to meet up with a group of friends to share an array of dishes decked around a Lazy Susan. We regularly take advantage of an excellent, weekday fixed-price deal and major on starters such as chicken satay, prawn toast, wantons and chilli squid before seguing on to crispy aromatic duck and then noodles. The service is very friendly and efficient and the wine list is well put together.
Eat: ‘Salt and pepper’ king prawns.
Drink: Marques de Caceres Blanco – Rioja.



The Real Thing  »

March 5th, 2015 by Jonathan Hoad

Saatchi Gallery


Last Saturday saw the great, and the very good indeed, on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London when the Robert Parker Matter of Taste road-show came to town. This event featured over 200 wines from around the world, the ‘only’ requirement for entry being that they needed to have scored 90 or more points in Robert Parker’s ‘Wine Advocate’.

We were delighted to be present at this unique showcase alongside Ron & Elva Laughton from their iconic Heathcote winery – Jasper Hill. They had popped over to show the latest vintage releases that will be hitting our shores later this year. Fortuitously, the Parker scores for these wines were announced just the day before the show and, as with previous vintages, Ron and his winemaker daughter Emily, had yet again produced a cracking range of wines.


Jasper Hill wines


The Wines and their Parker Scores:

  • Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Riesling 2014 – 91
  • Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Nebbiolo 2013 – 92+
  • Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2013 – 93+
  • Jasper Hill Emily’s Paddock Shiraz 2013 – 95+
  • La Pleiade Shiraz 2012 – 95+

Being located in the Saatchi Gallery, there was no shortage of artwork on display alongside these knockout wines. The Jasper Hill wines were shown alongside Michel Chapoutier’s top Cuvées and both winemakers were located next to Alexander Kosolapov artwork. It may have been pure luck or perhaps shrewd organising but Kosolapov’s ‘Lenin and Coca-Cola’ work with “The Real Thing” logo cried out for a bit of cheeky photo bombing by Ron. His and Michel’s wines are a polar opposite to the artificial alchemy of the world’s favourite sugar rush.


Jasper Hill - Ron Laughton - The Real Thing


The Jasper Hill secret is simplicity. Why does Jasper Hill taste so good and can truly be called “The Real Thing”?

  • No chemical has touched the vineyard soils since Jasper Hill’s humble beginning in the mid-70’s (first vintage 1982).
  • The vines are grown on un-grafted rootstock, there is no American rootstock influencing the original Shiraz vine.
  • No irrigation – The Jasper Hill vines grow deep through the Cambrian Basaltic, mineral rich soil.
  • Biodynamic theory employed in regard to compost and the biodiversity of the vineyard lifecycle.
  • Hands off wine making – Let the soil and the sun do the work. Ron harvests when the grapes are ready.
  • No acidification – The Jasper Hill wines have a beautiful natural acidity which means that none needs to be added.

Ron Laughton’s passion for being as natural as possible with his wine making attracted the attention of Rhône producer Michel Chapoutier and they subsequently started a joint venture producing a Heathcote Shiraz called La Pleiade. This old world/new world collaboration is stunning. Yapp Brothers still have a few bottles left of the 2010 vintage as described by Mr Parker “They are of very high quality and deserve readers’ attention. Hopefully my prose has convinced more than a handful of readers to try these remarkable wines from one of the most fascinating and compelling personalities in the entire wine world, and one dedicated to the highest quality.” 96/100. Then we have to wait for the 2012 (95+ points) to arrive in the next couple of months or so. With another high score and great reception on Saturday it may well be worth considering putting in a pre-order to guarantee an allocation!


Jeb Dunnuck - Michel Chapoutier - Ron Laughton

Jeb Dunnuck – Michel Chapoutier – Ron Laughton


The day ended with an avidly attended Masterclass from Ron and Michel, hosted by The Wine Advocate’s Jebb Dunnock. It was fascinating to hear the two winemakers joint philosophy (as well as an occasional difference) whilst tasting 8 top scored wines from their archives as they both spoke about their friendship and their shared passion for the real thing.


Jeb Dunnuck and Ron Laughton

Jeb Dunnuck and Ron Laughton



I do Like to be Beside the Seaside  »

February 25th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

The Seaside Boarding House in Burton Bradstock has just thrown its doors open to the great unwashed and is the most keenly anticipated restaurant or hotel opening since the Chiltern Fire House last year. Located on Dorset’s suddenly über-fashionable Jurassic coast (blame Broadchurch) above Chesil Beach and conceived and brought into being by Tony Mackintosh and Mary-Lou Sturridge, the dream team behind the original Groucho Club, this has been top of my list of places to visit.


The Seaside Boarding House Restaurant


Unfortunately Mr Yapp senior, a Groucho habitué from the early days, got wind of my plans and invited himself along as dedicated wine sampler and Sat Nav stand-in. If there is one thing more ineluctable than a determined child it is a resolute parent, so I steeled myself for a selection of wine trade anecdote ‘greatest hits’ and some savage criticism of my driving and welcomed the Old Man along for the ride.


Robin Yapp - Seaside Boarding House


Even shrouded in mist on an overcast winter’s day, there is something magical about the Seaside Boarding House’s cliff-top location and the views must be outstanding in fine weather. Not surprisingly, the decoration and furnishings are in modernist good taste with beautiful bare wooden floors and muted grey and blue colour schemes giving light, airy spaces and a vaguely nautical feel. The front of house service, presided over Jonny Jeffrey (who will be the person to know come the high season) is certainly ship shape and we were given a warm welcome and a spacious table after an aperitif in the bar.


The Seaside Boarding House - Lunch Menu


The menu and wine list are both sensibly short but carefully considered and there is a strong emphasis on seafood, which is understandable given the locale. Mr Yapp senior kicked-off with crab on toast which he declared to be unimpeachable and went down a treat with a nervy, young Albarino Abadia de San Campio. I started with some sautéed squid with red pepper relish which was served with a tasty green salad and had a lovely kick of chilli in the dressing. For our next course my Dad opted for a ‘terrific’ Vietnamese beef salad while I enjoyed seabass with olives, orange and tarragon.


The Seaside Boarding House - sauteed squid


With 60 years of wine trade lunches between us, neither of us could justify cheese or pudding but we overheard enthusiastic reports from other diners. The coffee, which along with bread and chips, is one the key hallmarks of any dining establishment, was excellent. The SBH has eight bedrooms and I can’t wait to go back for an appetite-inducing coastal walk and a more serious assault on the wine list, which features some interesting selections by the glass and 500ml pichet. As we wended our way back to Mere, via Swyre and Abbotsbury along the delightful Heritage Coast, I was surprised to learn that even my driving has improved so I think Dad enjoyed our excursion as much as I did.


The Seaside Boarding House Burton Bradstock



Wired for Sound  »

February 20th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

My 13 year-old son Will loves nothing more than fossicking around in the shed or attic in search of interesting archaeological discoveries. This week he unearthed my old Sony ‘Walkman’ and a box of cassette tapes and he was absolutely delighted. To my surprise this veteran iPod habitué loved the retro look and feel and of this now defunct format. In testament to Japanese manufacturing it worked perfectly as soon as we put new batteries in it, despite having been dormant for the best part of two decades.


Will Yapp with Walkman

Will Yapp with Walkman


In freaky syncopation this serendipitous discovery coincided with Sony’s announcement that it was ‘spinning off’ the department responsible for the Walkman brand into a separate subsidiary to concentrate on its much more profitable smartphone component business. You can be king of the hill one day and languishing forgotten in the shed the next. It is odd to think that our tablets and iPhones will be considered archaic by our children’s children and one daren’t contemplate what they will regard as cutting-edge technology.


sony walkman


As Will discovered the delights of Gregory Isaacs and Robert Cray for the first time I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for the cassette tape era. Sure they weren’t as tactile and aurally rich as vinyl but it did provide my teenage self with a great sound library and making mix tapes for friends was an unalloyed pleasure. There Kool and the Gang could rub shoulders with Public Image Ltd and nobody objected.


walkman mix tape


A second amusing find was this model I’d made of my first Walkman which seems an odd thing for a teenage boy to do – I guess I was impressed by the technology and I’m amazed that it too has survived. It’s all coming back to me now. Racing along on my Dawes ‘Lightening’ listening to Colour by Numbers in perfect stereo – those were the days. Heaven knows what Will will find next but for now he has the Bangles and Leonard Cohen and I’m sure none of his contemporaries are listening to them on their MP3 players!


walkman model