Yapp Brothers Blog

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…



CIVL Partnership  »

October 20th, 2014 by Jason Yapp

Here at Yapp Brothers we seldom participate in organised wine tasting trips as we enjoy the freedom of setting our own agenda and deviating from it as and when we care to. However an invitation from the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins AOC du Languedoc aka ‘CIVL’ to spend 3 days tasting sur place at the end of the 2014 harvest this week proved irresistible as there are wines of increasing quality and value to be found here – and Tom had managed to procure a couple of rugby tickets to see Toulon vs. Scarlets this Sunday.


Coteaux du Languedoc


Having left Heathrow under distinctly Autumnal skies we touched down in Toulouse in glorious sunshine last Tuesday and then headed to Narbonne where we checked into the functional but welcoming Clarion Suites hotel, which has an enviable location right by the Canal du Midi. We then repaired to Le Petit Comptoir restaurant for a convivial supper and wine sampling with representatives of Languedoc wine production and various compatriots who share our enthusiasm for the region’s wines.


halte digestive


After retiring at an uncharacteristically sensible hour we were all ready to board our bus to the Maison des Vins du Languedoc in Lattes on Wednesday morning for an extensive sampling of Terrasses du Larzac, Saint-Saturnin, AOC Coteaux du Languedoc and Pic Saint-Loup. Space precludes going into too much detail here but recent vintages have been good. Most growers seem to have managed to pick most of their grapes before the rains came this year, and 2013 was another strong vintage. There are increasing numbers of wine-makers converting to organic viticulture, and the quality of white wines has increased enormously although they still represent a fraction of overall production.




We then repaired to La Ferme Marine, a large seafood restaurant, on the Bassin du Thau for a fruits de mer fest accompanied by a potable Picpoul de Pinet from l’Ormarine. It was then straight back on the bus to the impressive Cistercian Abbaye de Valmagne for another extensive tasting of generic Coteaux du Languedoc and IGP wines, which bought a broader range of grapes styles and quality into play.


Sardines and Black Rice


On Thursday we decamped to the picturesque village of Rouquebrun to major on Saint-Chinian after which we had a restorative lunch au plien air at the restaurant Le Faitout in the village of Berlou which was the gastronomic highlight of the trip thus far. Sardines and black rice with a chilled young red Saint-Chinian proved an unashamed crowd-pleaser.


Maison des Vins du Saint Chinian


It was then back to Narbonne for another big tasting of IGP or Vin de Pays wines before our final foray on Friday morning at Château du Luc in Corbières, whereafter our compadres headed off to Toulouse airport and we picked up a hire car in Carcassone and onwards to appointments with some of our long-established suppliers.

Our conclusions thus far. The Languedoc is a vast and variable wine-area but there are gems here if you are prepared to seek them out, and still bargains to be found particularly at IGP level. You can still eat very well in France although that requires more effort than it once seemingly did. Organised trips definitely expose you to more wines than you could possibly taste under your own steam and it is good fun to taste wines in the company of fellow enthusiasts. It is very difficult to pack in rain and arrive in sunshine. When we have the wood-burner on in Somerset people are still swimming in the Med in Toulon!


after the wine tasting

There’s nothing like a post-tasting beer.


With thanks to: Chistina, Jerôme, Estelle, Sam, Trevor, Guy, Tom and Ed.



Rhône Wine: Old and New  »

October 15th, 2014 by Tom Ashworth

Our recent archive release of older vintages from the Rhône has been a spectacular hit, particularly with restaurants looking to get exciting, great value wines on their list for the Autumn. Trade magazine ‘Drinks Business’ reported as follows:

“According to Yapp’s Bianca Ford, there has been keen interest from the on-trade. ‘I think these older vintages are giving very good quality wines at fairly decent prices. Sommeliers are looking for new lines with more London restaurants starting to compose Rhône lists. The Rhône is definitely up and coming from the last few en primeur campaigns I’ve done, and in a way the high price of Bordeaux has helped.’ Yapp’s 2013 prices are set to be released early next month.” Yapp Releases Old Gems from the Rhône.


Cornas: Domaine Clape


We still have some of the older wines – check out our website or give us a call. If, however, you’d like to receive information on our forthcoming Rhône 2013 en primeur release, please email us on sales@yapp.co.uk and you’ll be the first to know.

Our team will be in the Rhône next week, reporting back shortly.



Library Luncheon  »

October 8th, 2014 by Jason Yapp

To the impressive new ‘Chef’s Library’ private room at Le Gavroche to meet with Michel Roux, Silvano Giraldin and head sommelier David Galetti for a marathon of food and wine matching to make our selections for our annual Autumn lunch this Thursday. That may sound like a first class ticket on the gravy train but I assure you that a direct audience with three of the hospitality industry’s pre-eminent figures does focus one’s attention.


David Galetti, Michel Roux & Silvano Giraldin.

David Galetti, Michel Roux & Silvano Giraldin.


Fortunately we got off to a good start as we were in unanimous agreement about which wine worked best as an aperitif to accompany canapés and soon settled upon a Vouvray Mousseux Brut from Domaine Aubert as a crowd-pleasing fizz to prime palates for the ensuing feast. Then, after much deliberation and samplings of the kitchen’s legendary Soufflé Suissesse and mi-cuît Scottish salmon we settled upon a Carpaccio of Beef with pickled beets and rye toast as a delicious and unusual amuse-bouche that really shone out alongside a scrub-scented Corsican Vermentino from Domaine Saparale.

For our starter a dish of seared scallops with white bean purée and truffled mushrooms was on everybody’s short-list but it took us a while to find a really resonant wine match. Eventually we hit upon an organic Marsanne-Roussanne blend from the Languedoc called ‘Les Mûriers’ from Mas Bruguière whose wild herb notes and oily texture married marvellously with the shellfish and the more earthy mushroom flavours.


Le Gavroche Autumn Menu


We all concurred that we should feature a really indulgent and comforting dish alongside a brace of chest-thumping reds to herald the onset of Autumn. After sampling some delicious lamb and unimpeachable pheasant we had a clear winner – a slow-braised rump cap of beef served with the smoothest, creamiest mashed potato I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. There was universal agreement on the wine front too. Firstly a black-fruited Brézème ‘Grand Chêne’ 2012 – a tarry straight Syrah from the base of the Northern Rhône followed by the terrific Domaine Richeaume ‘Cuvée Tradition’ a sumptuous, organic blend of Rhône and Bordelais grapes from Provence.

By way of a finale we worked our way through the entire ‘Assiette du Chef’, a heavenly selection of miniature desserts that featured a divine rum baba and a perfect panna cotta. We eventually agreed upon a dish of caramelized apples, almond cake and vanilla ice-cream that was a clear favourite paired with our stalwart – Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from Domaine de Durban – a heady, sweet nectar that left us all smiling.


Le Gavroche sign


I’m already looking forward to re-visiting our selections in the full confidence that they have been thoroughly road-tested by the best in the business!

(For those unable to attend, we have put together a mixed case of the wines featured in our Autumn Lunch – available on our website here).



Willi’s Wine Bar  »

October 6th, 2014 by Tom Ashworth

There are certain bars and restaurants that transcend their industry. The roll call of chefs who learned their métier at Le Gavroche reads like a who’s who of haute cuisine – Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, Rowley Leigh & Andrew Fairlie, to name a few. Likewise, back in the day, Oddbins was the launch pad for many a career in the wine trade.


Willi's Wine Bar, Paris


Just north of Palais Royale, at 13 rue des Petits Champs, sits Willi’s Wine Bar. Opened in 1980 by Mark Williamson and Tim Johnstone it introduced Rhône wines to Parisian drinkers and the wine trade to many a wayward ex-pat ‘yoof’…such as myself. In 1988, having left school and seeking remunerated adventure during a gap year, I pitched up at their door on the advice of Robin (Yapp) and spent the next year in their employ. I shared digs in the Marais with Tim’s nephew Richard Manners who now owns a successful London pub group (The Atlas, Anglesea Arms) with his brother George. Ask around the UK wine trade and you’ll find many who washed glasses, pulled corks, delivered fish or ran errands for Tim & Mark.


Willi's Wine Bar


The duo parted company in the nineties, Tim now focuses on the equally successful Juveniles bar/restaurant, 50 yards around the corner in rue Richelieu. However, this wave of Brits in Paris including, of course, Steven Spurrier, whose famous Caves de la Madeleine Tim & Mark bought in the late eighties (I vividly recall gutting it with sledge hammers one Sunday afternoon), were the pioneers of a wine bar movement that now thrives in both cities. On a recent weekend in Paris I popped into Juveniles to pay my respects to Tim who was holding court after a generous lunch. I would highly recommend you to do the same.


Tom at Willi's Wine Bar

Tom outside Willi’s 26 years on.


Working at Willi’s – memorable moments:

  • Learning about great food, wine and poster art.
  • Serving Willi’s regulars such as Chanel’s style icon, Ines de la Fressange.
  • Seeing ‘new band’ Hot House Flowers play the Cirque d’Hiver.
  • Christmas in The Marais with my family.
  • Clubbing at the Rex, Locomotive and Bains with young (now legendary) DJ Laurent Garnier whose Mancunian girlfriend waitressed at the restaurant.

Working at Willi’s – best forgotten:

  • Unloading fish into iced containers at Rungis market at 4am in minus 10 degrees.
  • Breaking the lift at Steven Spurrier’s apartment block (with his son Christian, plus others who shall remain nameless) and having to be manually winched down by an irate concierge.
  • Confusing a bar regular’s request for an ashtray (cendrier) for an order of wild boar (sanglier), to the never-ending amusement of the locals.