Yapp Brothers Blog

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.

 

 

Portland  »

April 1st, 2015 by Jason Yapp

 

Portland Restaurant London

 

113 Great Portland Street, London W1W 6QQ
www.portlandrestaurant.co.uk

 

To Portland, a restaurant named after a location, named after a Duke, named after a location (I digress) which is a hot ticket in London’s fashionable and fickle dining firmament at the moment. Like the Chiltern Fire House and Dabbous before it – it requires tenacity to secure a table and you can be darned sure that they are going to want it back after two hours to get more bums on seats. This practice of ‘turning tables’ used to infuriate me but modern restaurant economies depend upon it and when (as here) you are forewarned and it is done with grace (charm even) it’s hard to object – perhaps I’m mellowing with age and at least they let you book.

 

Portland Restaurant - interior

 

Given its provenance and location (next to the BBC) it is hardly surprising that Portland has been a hit with critics and customers alike. Patron and sometime front of house Will Lander is co-proprietor of the terrific Quality Chop House (previously reviewed here: http://www.yapp.co.uk/blog/index.php/2013/04/the-quality-chop-house/) in Farringdon as well as being the son of the FT’s long-serving restaurant critic Nick Lander and the ‘empress of wine’ Jancis Robinson. Having pulled strings to secure a table at midday (no later!) on a Wednesday lunchtime my expectations were running high – whereby disappointment usually follows.

Unsurprisingly, the wine list has been carefully compiled to provide interest and value in equal measure and there is a ‘Reserve’ wine list of special bottles in limited quantities that would keep the most demanding of oenophiles contented. As we were meeting fellow wine trade friends we brought our own bottles in under corkage terms I didn’t delve into.

 

Saint-Joseph: 'Circa' Jean-Louis Chave Sélection 2013

 

As we perused the short but imaginative menu we enjoyed a glass of white ‘Saint-Joseph ‘Circa’: J-L Chave Sélection 2013‘ which I thought was showing wonderfully well with lots of plump, peachy fruit preceding a very elegant, dry finish. It is de rigeur in modern metropolitan menu-construction to feature lots of ingredients one has never heard of and Portland does not disappoint – calcots, culaccia, ponzu, ‘Bermondsey Hardpress’ and bonito all required explanations from our patient and well-informed waiter. If dishes were expensively priced and advice was begrudgingly given this would be torturous but they are not and it isn’t so it’s great fun. Nobody wants to go out and eat the same stuff they have at home it’s far more entertaining to have your taste-buds teased and epicurean horizons extended.

 

Portland Restaurant - lunch menu

 

We enjoyed some delicious ‘snacks’ of Teriyaki quail, pickled Shitake mushrooms and the aforementioned calcots (which turned out to be a vegetable somewhere between a leek and a spring onion) before seguing on to more substantial starters of tartare of rump cap and Cornish mussels in cider.

 

Chave Hermitage and Chateau Giscours

 

Our friends Stephen and Oliver, from Farr Vintners, brought along a ridiculously indulgent pair of red wines to accompany our main courses – a Chave Hermitage 1974 and a Château Giscours 1970. The Chave is fully mature, fading in both colour and concentration but there is still some finesse and elegant fruit betraying its pedigree. By contrast the claret seemed amazingly youthful with a dark red robe intense core of cassis flavours and a firm tannic grip – a ‘sleeper’ if ever there was one. I’d be delighted to have some in my cellar. We all opted for venison, that was cooked to perfection and served with roast parsnips, to partner that pairing and the tender meat made a terrific foil for both wines.

 

venison

 

We rounded off a marvellous meal with a shared plate of excellent English cheeses and a bottle of Domaine de Trévallon 2003 from the Reserve wine list that was the only minor disappointment of the day – I should have referred to Jancis’s tasting note below before ordering that!

We just had time for a quick (and really good) expresso before our table was commandeered by another party of enthusiastic diners but I couldn’t begrudge a thing.

Some professional notes on the red wines we tasted:

Hermitage: Domaine J-L Chave 1974
“Some rust alongside the red; the palate is fine, has become elegant and long. Bouquet has softened, palate has sous-bois dampness. Very good in a difficult year. Drink now to 1988 for best results.” June 1984. ***
John Livingstone-Learmonth.

Château Giscours 1970
“One of the all-time great Giscours when the estate was at its zenith. Served blind at dinner at Chateau du Tertre, it has that typical masculine bouquet with sultry black fruits, tobacco and sous-bois, unfurling beautifully with passing minutes to reveal sandalwood, violets and smoke. Beautiful definition. The palate is medium-bodied with bewitching balance and a sense of natural harmony that is utterly beguiling. This is mature Margaux at its best and undoubtedly one of the great wines of the vintage.” Drink now-2020. Tasted September 2009. 95/100.
Neal Martin.

Domaine de Trévallon 2003
“Dark ruby with some evolution at the rim. A little monotone on the nose, so to speak. As though the grapes were pretty desiccated. Very drying tannins on the end. Not much fun and I think it will never really have enough juice or charm.” 13%. 16. Drink 2013-2018.
Jancis Robinson OBE, MW.

 

 

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