Yapp Brothers Blog

Wine to drink with haggis  »

January 21st, 2015 by Richard Hope

This Sunday – 25th January – is Burns Night, or more accurately Burns Supper, or even more accurately Burns Nicht. True followers will no doubt toast the poet with whisky, but we would (naturellement) suggest a robust red like the Rasteau Côtes du Rhône Villages: Saint Gayan 2011.


Burns Night - wines to drink with Haggis


We have before produced a piece or two on wine to drink with haggis – this piece from 2011 an example I can look back on with equal amounts of pride and self-concious shame – so to avoid repetition this year we will leave haggis commentary to Monty Python, with The Haggis Poem (a.k.a. The Horace Poem) – which is just a little bit rude…


Monty Python


Much to his dad and mum’s dismay
Horace ate himself one day
He didn’t stop to say his grace
He just sat down and ate his face
“We can’t have this!” his dad declared
“If that lad’s ate he should be shared”
But even as he spoke they saw
Horace eating more and more:
First his legs and then his thighs,
His arms, his nose, his hair, his eyes
“Stop him someone!” Mother cried
“Those eyeballs would be better fried!”
But all too late for they were gone,
And he had started on his dong…
“Oh foolish child!” the father mourned
“You could have deep-fried those with prawns,
Some parsely and some tartar sauce…”
But H was on his second course;
His liver and his lights and lung,
His ears, his neck, his chin, his tongue
“To think I raised him from the cot
And now he’s gone to scoff the lot!”
His mother cried what shall we do?
What’s left won’t even make a stew…”
And as she wept her son was seen
To eat his head his heart his spleen
And there he lay, a boy no more
Just a stomach on the floor…
None the less since it was his
They ate it – and that’s what haggis is.



Dry January? Not on your nelly.  »

January 9th, 2015 by Tom Ashworth

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Christina Georgina Rossetti’s 19th century romantic verse still sends a shiver through my bones. Yet one more reason why January seems the strangest month for a purge. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter. It’s the ying for the Summer yang. There’s a sense of perseverance, of wrapping up for long country walks to cozy pubs with roaring fires and warm beer. I have genuinely fond memories of playing rugby in the snow. For me, the initial joy of hot weather all year round on Necker Island would soon grate, as evidenced by Richard Branson’s French chef (6th Jan, BBC2). Right now the body needs spicy sausage casserole with a glass of Châteauneuf’, not kale juice and a Ryvita cracker. Save that for the Summer, when the heat suppresses the appetite anyway and you can absorb energy from the sun’s rays.


Harlequins - rugby in the snow

Harlequins RFC.


There have been a number of good articles recently on the subject of Dry January. Victoria Moore (Telegraph, 1 Jan) suggests taking it easy through Christmas and ‘drinking smarter’ (Telegraph, 2 Jan) in 2015. Lucy Hunter Johnston (The Independent, 31st Dec) lays into the ‘absurdity’ of Dry January in very entertaining manner.

Like Victoria and, I believe, much of the wine trade (exhausted by a manic pre-Christmas rush), I take it easy over Christmas and New Year – a grossly over-rated evening with once-a-year drinkers clogging up bar service and entry charges to pubs (surely a breach of our Constitutional rights?). January, when the days are already getting longer with a promise of hope, is there to be enjoyed. Here are good reasons why I will be drinking (in moderation, as ever) this month:

  1. It’s my birthday on the 14th.
  2. It’s the Yapp Brothers’ Christmas party on the 17th.
  3. I’m yomping across Hampstead Heath with friends to the excellent Wells pub this weekend.
  4. I’ve got to do my tax return one evening.
  5. Nigel Farage is doing ‘Dry January’ this year to be ‘unpredictable’.


Tom's birthday stash

Tom’s birthday stash



New Regime  »

January 7th, 2015 by Jason Yapp

For many of us, especially those in the wine trade, January is a contemplative month of metaphorical and hopefully physical belt-tightening. The hefty outlay of Christmas shopping comes home to roost and the bathroom scales provide testament to days of festive indulgence. It is a time to take stock and put ones house in order but it need not be a case of penance and doom and gloom. Once you’ve jettisoned the Christmas cards and made the walk of shame to the bottle bank there is nothing more uplifting than hanging up a brand new calendar and planning some excursions for the year ahead. Whether it’s a long weekend skiing in Saint-Moritz or bog-snorkelling in Bodmin there is much fun to be had in weighing up the pros, cons and, of course, costs of different options and getting something to look forward to set in the diary.


Bog snorkelling


Then, of course, we have the unholy trinity of diet, exercise and (even worse) abstinence to contemplate. Here too it is essential to maintain a positive mind set. I always find it a tad depressing how gym attendance spikes and the swimming lanes become packed at this time of year only for good intentions to wain in a few weeks’ time. Running, walking, cycling and (I’m ‘on-trend’ here) ‘wild swimming’ are all free once you’ve invested in the requisite kit and an hour or two spent in the great outdoors breathing fresh air beats the hell out of thrashing it out on a treadmill. You’ll feel virtuous, sleep soundly and soon start to regain any lost muscle tone.


A -J-Bikes-Shades

Yapp père & fils pose with bikes!


I’m not an advocate of calorie counting or self-denial generally but rustling up some healthy, warming winter dishes can be good fun and you don’t have to don a hair shirt to do it. Current scientific thinking advocates serving foods that leave you feeling ‘fuller for longer’ and soups, which literally drip-feed into your metabolism, are high on the list. ‘Super foods’, like kale and beetroot, are de rigeur with nutritionists at the moment so a big bowl of borscht can bring colour and virtue in equal measure. Sure, it is probably best to lay off the mince pies, cheese and chocolate for a while but you’ve had a bellyful of those anyway so let’s ring the changes.




While I can enjoy exercise and healthy eating to a degree I do find eschewing the demon drink difficult but I can proffer a few tips that may be helpful:

  1. Don’t attempt the impossible and then throw in the towel because you have failed. Pace yourself day by day and everything becomes more manageable.
  2. Reward your own good behaviour. Wine writers Fiona Beckett and Jonathan Ray both advocate drinking less but trading up. If you don’t drink during the week you can then treat yourself to a really aspirational bottle or half-bottle at the weekend.




  3. Opt for wines that are lower in alcohol. This may seem like a ‘no-brainer’ but it is all too often ignored. Light, racy Chenins, Sauvignons and Riesling and toothsome Gamays and Cabernet Francs often weigh in at just 12° alcohol by volume, or less, so seek them out.
  4. Be aware of your personal ‘triggers’. After a hard day at the rock-face I only need to hear the Archers theme tune and I’m grappling for a corkscrew like one of Pavlov’s dogs with a can-opener. The trick here is to distract yourself with a new activity whether it’s those guitar lessons you always meant to take or a correspondence course in Mandarin think new and exciting rather than same old same old.

So there you have it. A new year – a new you. It is all about accentuating the positive, looking ahead and not behind and celebrating your successes. There are only another 353 shopping days until next Christmas – so what are you waiting for?



Festive Feasting  »

December 18th, 2014 by Tom Ashworth

The Yapp team spend a great deal of time discussing food and wine combinations with our discerning clientele, particularly in the run up to Christmas, so we thought we would share a few of our own plans for the forthcoming festivities.

Christmas Eve

Bianca who is heading off to join friends and family in her native Holland will be rustling up a serving of bitterballen (deep-fried and crumbed balls filled with a creamy meat ragu), devilled eggs and platters of cheese or charcuterie. She’s packing half a dozen Crémant de Limoux to kick start the party.





Jackie will be cooking baccalau (salt cod) which is a popular dish in Italy, Spain & Portugal on Nochebuena. She’s grabbing a couple of bottles of Irouléguy Blanc if we haven’t sold out, if not then the bold, herby Bellet Blanc.





Christmas Day

The Catanach clan are staying put in Wiltshire and keeping it traditional. Vouvray Mousseux Brut as an aperitif will be followed by a magnum of Gigondas: Domaine Saint Gayan 2009 to accompany the free-range turkey. Hamish is hoping the 1.5L format will leave a splosh for the cheese course. To finish, they’ll wash down an organic Christmas pudding with Banyuls Réserva Domaine la Tour Vieille.


Chambolle Musigny 2007


Tom will also be roasting a turkey (partnered with his last bottle of Chambolle Musigny 2007) and imposing mandatory brussel sprouts on unsuspecting Colombian and Lebanese guests. Not to be too mean, he’s serving canapés of bunuelos (cheesy dough balls, and also slang for a bad driver) and figs with ricotta. Both dishes are rich and so the cutting edge of Dumangin Extra Brut will be required.


Fresh figs with ricotta and honey - leitesculinaria.com

Fresh figs with ricotta and honey


Boxing Day

Jason will be returning from a restorative dog walk with neighbours to enjoy a clove-studded glazed ham along with a magnum of Fred Filliatreau’s Vieilles Vignes.

We hope this has provided some inspiration.
Merry Christmas!



Advent Artwork  »

December 10th, 2014 by Jason Yapp

Back in the olden days before Facebook and YouTube, when we could still coerce our progeny into communal craftwork, we decided to resist the commercialisation of Christmas and create an in-house Christmas card. What began as a bit of a lark has now become a labour of love and as the festive season looms we struggle to come up with a new idea and then execute it. Looking through the roll call of previous efforts some don’t seem too bad while others are definitely best consigned to the recycling bin.

Here are a few highlights:


Scissors christmas card


This early effort was nice and simple and a surprising number of friends and relatives actually made paper-chains from the template.


Aardman Christmas Card


This homage to Aardman Animation was more fiddly than it looks but was well received at the time.


Casino Royale Christmas Card


This effort was inspired by the great credit sequence from Casino Royale – perhaps it would have worked better as wrapping paper!


Lego Christmas Card


Lego™ was the order of the day back in 2010!


Mistletoe Christmas Card


This simple line drawing has a certain je ne sais quoi but it was Alfred’s mistletoe that really finessed it.

Of course, if you want a really good card design you need to call upon a professional and not a bunch of amateurs. Our friend Glen Baxter never fails to raise a smile with his annual Michaelmas missives.


Glen Baxter Bike


You can never go far wrong with a really apposite photograph.


Saint Nicolas


My Dad took this snap of a statue of Saint Nicolas in Auxerre back in the 1970s. I really like the terracotta tones and the serendipitous letter sticking out of the letter-box.

At the time of writing we’ve just taken delivery of some glorious ‘Grapevine’ greetings cards by graphic artist Emily Burningham at our shop here in Mere.


Emily Burningham


I think it might be time to put away the coloured card and PVA glue and leave things to the professionals. Incidentally, if you’re stuck for last-minute gift ideas we’ve also got some luxurious cushions in the same fabulous print.



Festive Favourites  »

December 4th, 2014 by Jason Yapp

December is a bit of a crunch time here at Yapp Brothers so I plan to do all of my shopping as locally as possible or on-line. The secret of a stress free festive season lies in prior planning so here is my personal guide to items I recommend as gifts to others or (even better) oneself!


1. I Dress Myself
The ‘go to’ purveyor of groovy T-Shirts for kids or ‘young adults’ as they despise to be called; as modelled here by the junior Yapps. They’ve got impeccable environmentally-friendly credentials to boot and only deploy solvent-free inks. Check them out at: www.idressmyself.co.uk


I Dress Myself


2. Addictaball
I bought one of these fiendish spheres for a juvenile acquaintance a couple of Christmases ago and I had hours of fun much to their chagrin. You have to guide a ball bearing around a devilish maze by skill and gravity alone. No batteries or relatives required.




3. Glorious Greek Slippers
If you’re stuffed for a gift idea for a loved one, slippers are a fail-safe and unimaginative cliché that may meet with disapproval on the day but will be appreciated for months afterwards. These Hellenic head-turners come from the magnificent Frome ‘Independent’ market where I’ll be doing the bulk of my Christmas shopping next Sunday 7th December. www.thefromeindependent.org.uk


Greek Slippers


4. Chesil Smokery ‘Cold Smoked’ Salmon
I hope that if I keep banging on about how delicious Mark Firth’s peerless cold smoked salmon is he’ll cross my palm with fish. His Dorset-cured salmon knocks all supermarket offerings into the shade. Chez Yapp we enjoy it with scrambled eggs for breakfast or with sour cream and blinis at cocktail hour. They pre-slice it by hand to perfection which saves all-manner of hassle. www.chesilsmokery.com


Chesil Smokery


5. Scrabble™ for iPad by Mattel
How I filled the empty hours before I discovered this 21st Century take on the 20th century’s favourite word game I cannot imagine. I like to play against the computer which has an inexhaustible lexicon and, un-sportingly, favours multiple 2 letter combinations yielding improbably high scores. It can, however, be beaten if you find its weak spot – in ‘Settings’.


ipad scrabble


6. Das Boot by Lothar Günther Bucheim
This chilling auto-biographical account of a tour of duty on a U-boat during WWII was a smash hit with my Gentlemen’s Literary Association (alright Book Club) earlier in the year. Brilliantly translated by Alfred A. Knopf with a cracking cover illustration by Dan Mogford – the tension between hunters and hunted is played out against a background of sonic pings in this gripping nautical narrative. Just don’t read it in the bath!


Das Boot


7. Carhartt™ Watch Cap
Benny from Crossroads has a lot to answer for but these beanies are beauties as modelled by Alfred (Forest Green) and me (Forêt Noire).


Carhartt hats


8. Norfolk Bronze Turkey
I have one of these on standing order at Stourhead Farm Shop and they never fail to please. It’s always the centrepiece of our traditional Christmas dinner. My sister makes the watercress stuffing and bread sauce and we ‘devil and pull’ any left-overs on Boxing Day as per a medieval recipe revived by the late, great Jane Grigson. www.stourhead.com/shop/farmshop.html


Norfolk Bronze Turkey


9. Kirsty Almeida – Déja Voodu
I’ve been a fan of this Gibraltar-raised chantoose ever since I saw her live act a couple of years ago. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this upbeat, funky, folky album except perhaps my Dad so I’ll definitely be getting him a copy!


Kirsty Almeida - Deja Voodu


10. Crozes Hermitage 2011: Alain Graillot – Magnum
Nothing graces a festive table better than a magnum – they’re big and bountiful and you have fewer corks to pull. Alain Graillot’s Crozes-Hermitage is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser – brimming with dark Autumnal fruit with cool, granitic undertones it will go down a treat with the turkey and should put a smile on everyone’s faces. www.yapp.co.uk/Wine-List/Rhone-Wines/Crozes-Hermitage-Wines/Crozes-Hermitage–Alain-Graillot-2011/


Graillot Magnum