Yapp Brothers Blog

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



A Fondness for Fondue  »

February 14th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

My Dutch colleague Bianca and I share a predilection for fondue and there has been a long-running debate over which of us executes the superior version. Chivalry and modesty prevent me expounding my thoughts on Bianca’s interpretation of this celebrated dish of the mountains but let’s just say that the Low Countries aren’t noted for their fine cuisine. Of course if you are after ‘pot’, pancakes, herring or Old Masters that’s a different matter altogether but perhaps cobblers should stick to their lasts and not get any delusions of grandeur.


Fruit fondue

Don’t do this at home!


One thing that Bianca and I do agree on is that ‘proper’ fondue is the molten cheese version and nothing to do with raw meat and hot oil or (even worse) fruit and chocolate. To enjoy a decent fondue you need a hearty appetite, cold weather (the latter should help induce the former) and the requisite kit. I was given a very smart mushroom coloured ‘Le Creuset™’ fondue set by tearful colleagues when I left gainful employment at Gabriel Boudier’s liqueur emporium in Dijon back in the early nineties. It served me well over the next decade or so but bits and pieces parted company over the years and so I recently invested in this smart new version.


fondue set


Without giving away too many trade secrets the trick of making decent fondue lies in sourcing good cheese. The classic ‘Fondue Savoyarde’ calls for Comté, Gruyère and Emmental in approximately equal proportions and they then need to be coarsely grated. You start off by vigorously rubbing a scored clove of garlic round the inside of your fondue pan. You then add white wine, heat the pan, gradually add the cheese, season with black pepper and nutmeg and thin the mixture with a little kirsch or vodka. Most recipes include corn starch but I can’t see why you would need a thickening agent so never bother with that. The other really important ingredient is good ‘Breugal’ bread. You need a chewy, textured country loaf that can support a decent weight of molten cheese and won’t disintegrate.


Asterix in Switzerland


Aesthetes may want to serve a lightly-dressed green salad on the side but the real appeal of fondue is that it is one pot peasant fare for feeding up hungry outdoor folk. Wine matching is very straightforward as you can’t go wrong with Savoie. A white Jacquère or red Mondeuse would be ideal as their clean, fruity flavours make a great foil for the rich cheese hit. Required background reading is ‘Asterix in Switzerland’ which goes into great detail about the traditional fines and forfeits for losing your bread which should, of course, be adhered to. Lastly, do not volunteer to do the washing up. Cleaning a fondue pan is a punishment that should be imposed upon the least popular or well-behaved diner present.



Loire 2014 Vintage Update – Part 2  »

February 9th, 2015 by Tom Ashworth

Two further days of tastings and meetings in the Loire focused on the Touraine. The format of tastings in a region that incorporates diverse AOCs can be polarised.


vouvray and rilettes


For example, a visit to Didier & Nadège Aubert in Vouvray incorporated sec, demi-sec, sweet and sparkling versions of Vouvray (Chenin blanc) in multiple vintages. Didier pulled the cork on a bottle of 1997 demi-sec, his inaugural year of vinification – a sterling effort. By contrast, a brief but fruitful meeting with the Desbourdes family involved tasting only two different cuvées of their awesome 2014 red Chinon that will be assembled and bottled next month. A short hop across the Loire to Bourgueil took in an extensive tasting of Pierre Druet’s range of reds, again going back to 1990. What all these tasting have in common, however, is the extremely tempting ‘courtesies’ of rillon, rillettes and goat’s cheese (St-Maure). Inevitably, greedy sods like us are easy prey and the smorgasbord (and our wastelines) take a pounding.


Loire 2014 vintage


Having tasted with over a dozen winemakers in 3 days, we had one final rendez-vous with Sebastien Chereau on the wind-swept wild west plains of Muscadet. This particular AOC has had a tough few decades, but Seb is a steady hand and a positive soul. Like many of his fellow Loire producers, he’s pleased to be working with an abundant and high-quality harvest in 2014. We look forward to their arrival in our cellars in coming months.


Loire 2014 wine tasting

Muscadet tasting in the Wild West



Loire 2014 Vintage Update  »

February 3rd, 2015 by Jason Yapp

The annual Salon des Vins de Loire at the Parc d’Expositions in Angers at the beginning of February is a great opportunity to meet multiple wine makers under one roof, catch up on their news and sample their latest offerings.


Salon des Vins de Loire 2015


After two vintages when volumes were down in 2012 and 2013 the atmosphere was upbeat as growers along the length of the Loire happily reported that both quantity and quality surpassed expectations last year. After a very variable summer with quite high rainfall, a dry, sunny September gave optimum ripening conditions.


TA at Angers


The most marked expression of a bumper harvest came in the form of youthful reds (Pinots and Cabernet francs) that were showing bags of juicy, exuberant fruit and super ripe tannins. Our old friend Fred Filliatreau was particularly enthusiastic and a great tasting across his range – Domaine, Fouquet, Grand Vignolle and Vieilles Vignes – was enhanced by a delicious coarse pate (made by Fred’s wife Laurence).


Tasting with Fred Filliatreau

Tasting with Fred Filliatreau


We rounded off a terrific day’s tasting with some vat samples of racy young Sauvignons from Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Menetou-Salon. These should be delicious when they are released in the Spring as they combine fruit and freshness in equal measure. Patricia Luneau of Domaine Jean Teiller told us it was unquestionably her best vintage after 10 years at the helm of her family’s cellars.


Tom Ashworth with Olivier and Patricia Luneau.

Tom Ashworth with Olivier and Patricia Luneau.


Make no mistake, 2014 has been a great success in the Loire valley and we look forward to further meetings in the Touraine as we head East.