Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Losing an old friend.

Tonight I lost my buddy, my companion for the past seven years. Weve shared some tough times, and some fun times, seen some great wines and many many good wines. And through all those bottles hes been there beside me, my faithful pulltap wine-knive. But tonight his spine snapped, and he lies at the bottom of my locker now, in two pieces. Im gutted, not least because it was a damned good wine-knife, but its been with me for so long. Originally it was black, but all those years of use have worn the blacking off of it and it is now a shiny metal colour. Luckily for me, I have plenty of back-up wine-knives, including a Laguiole given to me one night by an appreciative customer, but they just dont feel the same as my lucky black pulltap.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Providing Options

I have an ambitious plan. Perhaps a touch too ambitious, but sod it, Im going to go ahead and do it anyway. I plan to offer 100 wines by the carafe. Yes thats One Hundred wines in a 350ml carafe. Im going to offer Dolcetto, Fiano, Txakoli, Viognier, Alvarinho and Albarino, Romorintin, Arinto, Loureiro, Nero d'Avola, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, and loads of obscure grapes, as well as the classic styles of wine - german riesling, alsace pinot blanc, loire sauvignon, beaujolais cru and many other wonderful wines, that people might be reluctant to spend for a full bottle. We're going to have some fun with the wine-list, give people the opportunity to try some new things, discover some new wines and explore some new regions. Now its up to the customers to think outside the box and take the chance to try something different.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

En Primeur 2007

The en primeur 2007 is nearly at an end. Pretty much all thats left to declare their prices is Petrus, and they usually wait until about the middle of July. We have bought quite a bit this year, about £15k altogether including two cases of Mouton for £5200. Weve mostly gone for the good stuff, Palmer, Ducru-Beaucaillou, Pichon-Lalande Comtesse, Rauzan Segla, La Fleur Petrus, La Grave a Pomerol and Cos d'Estournel. The 2007's arent going to be a keeping vintage by all accounts, at least according to the reporting from the mass of tasters, buyers and journalists who were part of the en primeur tastings earlier in the year. But perhaps thats a good thing. Certainly in most cases the prices were down on last year, still expensive, but as far as fine is concerned it seems to be a sellers market just now. Were just starting to see the 2005's arrive just now, Ive already had the Mouton, Lascombes and Pichon delivered, Im sure there will be more to come over the next few months.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wines by the glass.

With only the most terrible sense of timing imaginable, Im changing the wines we pour by the glass. As part of my proposed plan to widen the range of wines that we offer by the glass, the first stage is to change the wines on offer. Once they have bedded in, I plan to gradually offer a wide range of wines by the carafe - 250ml. Hopefully this will offer people a safer option to try some more esoteric grape varieties without risking too much. Things like Albarino, Txakoli, Arinto de Bucelas, Greco di Tufo, Mencia and many other wierd and wonderful varieties can now be explored without breaking the bank, and it should allow me much more fun when menu matching.

So here briefly is the run down on the new wines by the glass.

Whites -
Basserman Jordan, Estate Dry Riesling. Bone dry classic german riesling, of the sort that the UK has been missing out on for years.

Quinta da Murta, Vale da Murta Arinto. Crisp dry citrus notes with a tangy herbal finish make this the perfect partner to fish.

Chateau Lamothe de Haux, Cuvee Valentine Blanc, Lovely bordeaux blanc made in the town of Haux in the Premiere Cotes de Bordeaux. Made predominantly from Sauvignon Gris this has a richer flavour than most bordeaux blancs.

Il Cascinone, Belvedere Moscato d'Asti. Perfect summer sipper, light fruity, a touch fizzy and a dash of sweetness. Best of all, at only 5%abv, its not going to send you loopy!

Charles Schleret Gewurztraminer Reserve. Off dry, lovely aromatic white wine, tropical fruits and a touch of oilyness.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon 2007. iconic savvy blanc that is just starting to develop towards its potential. As the acidity starts to balance down, the ripe lushness of the fruit is able to show. Well made, incredibly well marketed.

Pierre Bouree Bourgogne Blanc. From Louis and Bernard Vallet in Gevrey Chambertin, this is classic bourgogne blanc. Barrel fermented with natural yeasts in a mixture of new and second fill oak. This is the vintage that I was working on when I did the vendage there.


Feudi di San Gregorio Ros'Aura Irpinia. Made from Aglianico grown in their vineyards in Taurasi, Peternopoli, Pietradefusi and Castelvetere, this is a fresh vibrant rose, wild alpine berries with a hint of sweet cherries. Pure summer indulgence.

Verdad Rose - made by Louise Saywer Lindquist (wife of Bob Lindquist of Qupe wines) this is a delicious blend of Grenache and Mourvedre from the Arroyo Grande Valley. Raspberry and strawberries with a hint of watermelon(?) and a slight nippy spicyness too. She makes a damned good Albarino too!!

Bodegas Palacios Remondo, La Vendimia, Rioja. Extra-ordinary rioja from Alvaro Palacios of l'Ermita fame. A 50/50 blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo this is their interpretation of a joven style, having spend a mere four months in second fill oak (mainly french) before being fined and bottled. Meant to be drunk young, this is quite expressive of blackberry jam, scrubby herbs and a touch of greengage.

Tabali Pinot Noir. From Chile's Limari Valley. Soft fruity red with typical pinot character - soft red fruits - raspberry and cherry with a touch of strawberry after time.

Ascheri Dolcetto d'Alba. 100% Dolcetto from the Nirane vineyard in Verduno. Small red berries with cherry fruit and a touch of violets on the nose. Smooth and silky on the palate.

Escudo Rojo. Mouton Rothschilds estate red from the Maipo in Chile. A bordeaux inspired blend of Cabernets Sauv and Franc, and Carmenere. (Im sure theres some syrah in there too, but there seems to be a lot of diverse information on the interwebs. Big chocolatey red fruit flavours, wrapped up in a nice bundle of oakyness.

Henry Dugat, Morgon Cote de Py. Beaujolais cru - bubblegummy soft red fruits with cherries and touch of smokyness.

Another Mouton Post.

Two guys in the brasserie ask about Chateau Talbot. Currently we only have the 2005 in the cellar, which is way too young. So they ask me for a suggestion.
Suggestion no 1 - Reserve da la Comtesse 99, second wine of Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. I think its pretty good value for £67 on the list.
Not enough money they say, go higher. (Talbot would be around £75-90 on the list depending on the vintage)
Suggestion no 2 - Les Pagodes de Cos 1996, second wine of Cos d'Estournel. £95.
Still too little, they say, go higher.
Suggestion no 3 - Chateau Gruaud-Larose 1996 £130.
Nowhere near high enough they say, higher still.
Suggestion no 4 - Les Forts de Latour 1985 £280
At this point one of the fellas points to the wine underneath it, thats more like it, he bellows, well have that one there.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1988 £560.
The colour was a ruby red with a definite brick red tinge about the rim. On the nose it was vibrant, smoky with peppers, soft black fruits and a cedary almost tobacco finish. On the palate it was silky soft, the flavours of currants and brambles mixed with a woody spicyness and a touch of peppery salsa. It had a pretty long length to it, with the flavours gradually fading. My last bottle for now, but we are stocking up with some stock ex-chateau. I cant wait until its all here.