Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Young Danny was showing the group of golfers round the cellar when he showed them the Dom Perignon Oenotheque wines. As we are a depositaire for the Oenotheque range we have a wide range of Oenotheque from 1959 to the latest release 1992. Bugger me if he hasnt gone and sold a bottle of the 1959 at £1500 a bottle. That makes out total sales of that vintage to five bottles. Pretty impressive.
I havent tasted it this time, but tomorrow I'll get young Danny to write a tasting note to post here himself. He deserves some major credit for that. Good arrows Dannyboy!!
And on that pleasant note, its time I went home and washed my poor aching feet.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
So for me the beers that really stood out and excited my palate were these:
Little Creatures Pale Ale - a fantastic pale ale from Freemantle in Australia that is made by a consortium of winemakers including Janice McDonald of Stella Bella/Suckfizzle and Phil Sexton of Devils Lair and Giant Steps Winery. The bitter elements of the flavour come from their use of the whole hop flowers, and this is kept in balance with crisp grapefruity flavours with a touch of honeyed sweetness.
Orval - genuine Trappist beer from the Vallee d'Or in Luxembourg. Their use of wild natural yeasts results in a slightly sour edge to the otherwise hoppy, and autolytic yeasty flavours.
Mort Subite Kriek - one of my favourite beers of the tastings - a Lambic beer, that is one that is allowed to begin fermentation spontaneously from wild airborne yeasts. Cherries are added to the beer during fermentation to sweeten the otherwise sour flavour, giving the beer a bright reddish colour and a fine fruity flavour with real smoothness to it.
I must try and find a way of integrating some of these into the gastronomic menu, to create a wider tasting experience.
Then Ive got to rush back up here and get into work for about 7pm, as we have a few tables in that night. Gonna be a long day!!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Anyway, one of the joys of dealing with people is the number of insane questions that we face on a daily basis. Some are comical, many are interesting, more than a few are bizarre and some are just downright daft. We always try to respond in an appropriate manner, but sometimes it is hard. When the customer asks you if the pigeons are caught locally, what are we supposed to say?? I swear sometimes it is hard to keep a straight face.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Had a visit today from Duncan Ferguson and Susana Fernandez of Cascabel winery in McLaren Vale, South Australia. They had been showing their wines at a dinner last night at Establishment, and as I had been unable to attend they wanted me to see their wines, so they came to me. Im glad they did, for the wines that they showed me were fantastic and Im planning on putting one of them on by the glass in the Library.
The first red that I tasted from them was the Tempranillo Joven, which is a kind of spanish take on beaujolais nouveau. The idea is that the wine undergoes minimal oak and is usually released as soon after the vintage as possible. This is a bit easier in Australia were the grapes are often harvested from April onwards. The nose had loads of fruit character with no perceptable oak flavours. I wouldnt have guessed it was a tempranillo blind because Ive never tried a tempranillo without the more dominant oak characters. This wine has seen some oak though, three months in used french oak, just enough to take the edge off the fruit and add a bit of depth and a touch of tannin. Only 13% alcohol which is great. A good easy drinking red with loads of fruit character and some depth to it, I reckon this would make a good replacement for the Julienas we are selling by the glass just now.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Gavin is coming over next year to do a gourmet evening in the Arkle, on Tuesday the 27th February. It is an interesting story that someday soon I ought to tell here.
PS a quick google search fails to enlighten me as to the collective noun for hoteliers, but it has thrown up these posibilities - an asylim of hoteliers (promising), a bed of hoteliers (appropriate) but my favourite - a charm of hoteliers.
While dining at a friends house in Maryland, USA, they chose a bottle of 82 Mouton from his hosts extensively stocked cellar. While enjoying the wine, they got to talking about how you would describe such a divine wine, and Mr M. chose to describe it thus: "Imagine the most fantastically sexy pair of legs, clad in the finest, silkiest stockings. This mouton is like stroking the upper thigh of those legs" How cool is that!!!! I totally understood what he meant by that description, and so did many of the other gentlemen in the room last night!! So now Ive just got to get some 82 Mouton, so when someone asks me what it is like, well you know what Im going to say, dont you!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
L Aubry fils, Brut Tradition, Premier Cru de Jouy-les-Reims, NV.
Meunier dominated champagne from a pair of twins, Pierre and Phillipe Aubry. They used to sell the majority of their fruit to Veuve Clicquot before branching out into their own production. They are fortunate to be in a position of farming vineyards planted to several little known varieties that due to vagaries in the Champagne AOC regs are still legal, such as Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris (known locally as Fromonteau). While the Champenois have shunned these varieties in favour of the more noble Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir, the brothers feel that they must have been grown for a reason, and that they contribute immeasurably to the overall blend of the wine.
Anyway I digress, for this wine is a blend of 40% Meunier and 30% each of Pinot Noir and chardonnay. The wine has a rich golden yellow colour to it, with a persistence of fine bubbles, and an impressive mousse. Very herbaceous on the nose with rye grass, cereal grains and germanic pumpernickel bread, followed by more fruity aromas. There are subtle aromas of whitecurrants and greengages with a hint of a floral character that I just can't pin down. These flavours are quite evident on the palate with a crisp green apple acidity that makes this a great aperitif wine. I would even be tempted to decant the wine, because it improves with opening, and the flavours become more pronounced and integrated with time in the glass. A great grower champagne for a few quid less than a grand marque!! We are selling this for £13.50 a flute at the moment, and the response has been very positive. I find this accents the flavours of a goats cheese tarte fine with roasted fig dressing quite well. (sorry no food porn to go with this. The files we have are enormous (5mb+ professional shots).
They do a wine which has the previously mentioned rarer varieties, which is called Le Nombre d'Or - Campanae Veteres Vites - which roughly translates as the Old vines of the country. It's a fantastic wine, that should be experienced at least once by anyone who loves champagne.
Based around the Grand Cru village of Ambonnay, the house of Egly-Ouriet farms a modest 9 hectares of vineyards, 7 of which are devoted to Pinot Noir. With the majority of the wines sitting the right side of 30 years old, and a careful yield management which includes a vendage vert if neccessary, the production is kept to around 5 thousand cases, of which surpisingly little gets across to the UK. I was told by the merchant that supplied me, that his allocation of the brut nv is less than a dozen cases, he gets two or three cases of the rose, two cases of the blancs de noir, and about a half dozen bottles of the vintage. I guess Im lucky to have managed to get three bottles of the blancs de noir and rose then!! With this scarecity in mind, I made these notes last week, after selling a bottle (with the guests approval) to share them here today.
Egly-Ouriet Blancs de Noirs Grand Cru, Brut NV - Vielle Vigne de Pinot Noir Lieu-dit "Les Crayeres" a Ambonnay. Degorged July 2005.
It is a dark straw colour with very fine bubbles and a medium persistance of the mousse. On the nose I found an aroma of braeburn apples - those crisp greeny red efforts with a hint of sweetness to the fruit - with an exotic mushroomy character coming behind it. Almost like when the kitchen are prepping the cepes - more foresty wild mushrooms. The aromas were really quite dense with a rye bread aroma coming forward quite frequently. On the palate the bubbles dissolved effortlessly leaving flavours of wild fruits and slightly underipe pears with hints of cocao. The flavours seemed to remain on the palate for over a minute before slowly fading to more autolytic characters. As the back label states this has had 49 months on the lees, and with Egly's practice of minimal intervention in the winery and no filtration or fining of the base wines, the autolytic flavours are expected to be quite dominant, although they were never overbearing. Damn this is a great champagne and quite a bit beyond my means, so I was grateful to the generous customer who allowed me to sample their champagne. Bummer that Ive only got two bottles left!!
PS Im supposed to give some idea of what food this would go with, Sam's website being predominantly foodie, so I would put this wine with something like - Loin of Rabbit, with sweetbreads, seasonal mushrooms (Ceps, Girolles and shi-take) with a redcurrant reduction.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
The issue of fakes is a very serious one that is on a massive increase. Serena Sutcliffe apparently commented last year that nearly twice as many 1945's were sold than were actually produced. However the bottles that they reject as suspected fakes often end up being sold through less diligent merchants and auction houses. With the hammer prices reaching four and five figures per bottle for some of these wines, it can represent some serious investment for the criminal gangs that perpetrate the counterfieting.
All of this gives me some cause for concern when we purchase our stock. This is why we use reputable merchants and only buy from recognised sources. The old adage that if it sounds too good to be true it usually is, holds especially true here. If it means that we pay a higher price for the products I would rather do that and be secure in its provenance than score a bargain that is a bit dodgy. Apparantly a lot of the fakes are seriously contaminated with methanol, which can result in blindness and serious liver damage and even death.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Im hoping that we will have a bit of time to explore the region a little bit and I especially want to visit Beaune because there is a bookshop there that I plan to hammer the credit card in!!
Friday, September 01, 2006
Philiponnat Clos des Goisses 1980 Champagne. - the original walled vineyard (Clos) in champagne, some thirty plus years before Krugs Clos de Mesnil, Clos des Goisses is as rare as hens teeth. Pinot dominated the fruit comes from a steep walled vineyard on the banks of the canal at Mareuil-sur-Ay. The wine has a beautiful straw gold colour with quite a vibrant mousse for a wine that is 26 years old. On the nose there is hazelnut latte with a hint of that seaweed that they wrap sushi with. Full flavoured with a slate like mineral flavour and an amazingly long length.
Opus One 1980. Second vintage made, and the first to be made available in the UK. When it was opened it seemed a bit dirty on the nose with an earthy farmyardy kind of aroma. Thankfully that soon cleared and we were left with quite fruity aromas of dark soft berry fruit with a mulberry and cedarwood overtone. The earthyness remained a bit, and I wonder if it maybe was a slight fault - perhaps Brett? But a good clear wine with quite a lot of fruit character considering it is over 20 years old.
La Fleur Petrus 1982. My favourite of the night. Tobacco and leather notes over a blackberry and redcurrant flavour with hints of granny's xmas pudding in for good measure!! One of my last two bottles, I reckon that I might have to try and source some more. It may well have been half the price of the La Tache that he was originally leaning towards, but this bottle would have knocked six bells out of the la tache and barely broken a sweat. Perfect complement to the duck.
Not too bad a night, considering.
By the way the awful mug shot was about the best that I could do at short notice. I comes from a publicity shot taken when I had just started working here. We cropped in real tight to remove the cringeworthy pose with a bottle of Opus One.