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  1. Rhône Reconnaissance – South and Beyond
    Posted On: October 30th, 2012

    Rhône Reconnaissance – South and Beyond

    However many times one traverses the Montélimar meridian, the shift in climate and scenery heading South is always a striking contrast. Arriving at Châteauneuf-du-Pape in a Mediterranean 24 degrees, we rued packing those scarves and gloves. Claire Michel at Le Vieux Donjon reported a superb 2012 harvest, although volumes are down by around 20%. The recently assembled 2011 Vieux Donjon...
  2. Rhône Reconnaissance – North
    Posted On: October 26th, 2012

    Rhône Reconnaissance – North

    Having packed coats, gloves, jumpers and scarves in our hand luggage, we touched down at Lyon airport in glorious sunshine. Our mission was to undertake extensive barrel tastings of the Rhône 2011 vintage and get a heads up on the recent 2012 harvest. Our first port of call was at the celebrated Domaine Georges Vernay in the centre of Condrieu...
  3. 2012 Vintage Update
    Posted On: September 12th, 2012

    2012 Vintage Update

    Harvesting begins The harvest is taking place in France and 2012 has been a challenging year for winemakers. A cold wet Spring and early Summer gave way to a searing heatwave in August with day time temperatures regularly over 40 degrees. As a result, vineyards have pretty much had everything chucked at them – frost, mildew, drought. As a...
  4. Grape Expectations
    Posted On: August 15th, 2012

    Grape Expectations

    Sauvignon falls into the tiny category of grape varieties that are so popular that people order them in pubs and bistros without even specifying a preferred geographical point of origin – see also Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. While such a cavalier approach (which is even more prevalent Stateside than on these shores) may be leaving a lot to chance...
  5. Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 3
    Posted On: October 21st, 2011

    Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 3

    Our last day in the Rhône valley and feeling a little road weary, but we’ve saved the best till last. Appointments at Clape, Graillot and Chave proved to be as exciting as we had anticipated. A multiple cask sampling chez Clape is always an enjoyable experience, but not for the faint-hearted. The 2010 vintage in Cornas is another corker and...
  6. Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 2
    Posted On: October 20th, 2011

    Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 2

    Another pre-dawn awakening as we shuttled up a fog-bound Autoroute de Soleil to make our first appointment in Côte Rôtie at 10.00am. We found gregarious patron Joel Champet talking up the merits of the 2010 vintage as well as the prospects of ‘Les Bleues’ in this weekend’s Rugby World Cup Final: "they have nothing to lose". Down the road in...
  7. Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 1
    Posted On: October 19th, 2011

    Rhône Reconnaissance – Day 1

    A 3.00am start in London to catch the ‘commuter’ flight to Marseille is never a joy but the blue skies and Provençal sunshine off-set any fatigue. We hit the ground running and were tasting at Domaine de Trévallon by 11.00. Antoine and Ostiane Durrbach gave us a warm welcome and we were treated to a whistle-stop tasting of the 2010...
  8. En Primeur – is it (still) worth it?
    Posted On: September 28th, 2011

    En Primeur – is it (still) worth it?

    There are only two reasons to buy wine futures (or 'en primeur' as it is known in the trade). One, because it secures rare wine where demand outstrips supply and two, because the en primeur price should be at a discount to the wine once bottled and physically available. Sure, there are secondary reasons – ensuring sound provenance, investment purposes...
  9. Bountiful Bandol
    Posted On: August 17th, 2011

    Bountiful Bandol

    Occasionally food and wine combinations marry so brilliantly that they transcend the everyday and transport you to a different plain of appreciation. Just such a moment occurred at the end of a busy buying trip earlier in the year. We were sitting on the terrace of Le Safari restaurant in the Vieux Port of Nice, which is a nice place...
  10. Ask the Expert - Wines to Accompany Asparagus
    Posted On: May 10th, 2011

    Ask the Expert - Wines to Accompany Asparagus

    I was fortunate enough to spend last Thursday lunchtime at Le Gavroche selecting the wines for our forthcoming Spring lunch. I took the opportunity to buttonhole the head sommelier David Galetti, who presides over a list of biblical proportions, about his personal recommendations of wines to accompany asparagus. David Galetti - Le Gavroche When English asparagus is in season, as...

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