Marquis d'Angerville, an emblem of Burgundy's magic

Marquis d'Angerville, an emblem of Burgundy's magic

Monday 24th April 2017
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

Guillaume d'Angerville treated us to a rare visit to London last week to share the wines of his family's historic domaine with both customers and journalists, over dinner and lunch the following day. The two mouth-watering events, which covered five vintages and eight premiers crus, reinforced our belief that this is one of the great Domaines of Burgundy.

Sem, Marquis d'Angerville, and Henri Gouges, sparked the move towards domaine bottling in the early 20th century and were also central to the development of the Premier and Grand Cru system. Many say that they did not put forward any Grands Crus from their own villages, Volnay and Nuits st Georges, to ensure the process was seen to be completely impartial. A shame, perhaps, for the village of Volnay but a delicious anomaly for today's savvy wine drinker.  The fine quality coming out of this domaine, and the village in general, is simply not reflected in the gap in prices to its Côte de Nuits neighbours.

Wine dinner at Oxleaze Barn, Gloucestershire

Wine dinner at Oxleaze Barn, Gloucestershire

Friday 21st April 2017
by Justerini & Brooks

Luckily our Cotswold barn scrubbed up suitably well for a Justerini & Brooks’s private customer dinner. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect, the location was a beautiful farm in the Cotswold countryside, and the evening sun was out.

As the great and the good from Gloucestershire arrived and sipped on Pol Roger 2006 and Gusbourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2012, Andrew Kojima, a masterchef finalist, was preparing our delicious Japanese fusion style dishes for the night.

I had been looking forward to this for a long time, I was a little nervous too as it was my launch with Justerini & Brooks in the South West (having done 14 years with them in Scotland) so there was a bit hanging in the balance as they say.  Luckily I had the support on the night of Hew Blair the Chairman!

The guest list was strong, the wines were exciting, and the food was fresh and fashionable. After my introduction to Justerini & Brooks, and a little talk about Gusbourne and Pol Roger, thirty of us sat down to a stunning table set with glasses, flowers and surrounded by the rustic charm of the barn. This was definitely a cool place to hold a fine wine dinner.

Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2016 - Back to the future

Vintage Report: Bordeaux 2016 - Back to the future

Thursday 13th April 2017
by Tom Jenkins

Tasting back to back vintages like 2015 and 2016 is fascinating. These are both exceptional years, although polar opposite in style. It is perhaps hard to be as loquacious about the 2016s as we were about the sumptuous 2015s. 

This is in no way a barometer for the vintage – 2016 is certainly as good as 2015, probably better, but the wines are generally less expressive and generous at this early stage. The 2015s were a sheer joy to taste - 2016s are more cerebral, introverted, structured, serious and profound. In most cases, and particularly on the Left Bank, there is a reserve and classicism that makes one think of ancient vintages with huge tannic profiles and long-term aging potential. Certainly, the best Chateaux have flexed their technical know-how and have produced wines with stunning purity of fruit and precision, but there’s no getting away from the fact that 2016s are real vins de garde.

The extraordinary growing season and Mother Nature have combined to produce something remarkable. There are many contributing factors to the success. After the early season deluge the drought and heat of July and August were welcomed by all. Old vines and soils with some clay component were best placed to benefit from the conditions. Critically, during harvest, there were dramatic day/night temperature differences. This helped the grapes to mature, but retain acidity, and also kept alcohol levels exceptionally low, a key feature of 2016s.

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day two, Moving on

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day two, Moving on

Tuesday 4th April 2017
by Tom Jenkins

We wrapped up the Right Bank with a few morning visits. Our tasting at Chateau Teyssier was perhaps a little disappointing. The Teyssier itself is good and honest and there’s plenty to admire. 

The flagship Le Dome seems to have taken a backward step. Recent vintages have lent more towards elegance and a less-extracted style. It seemed like the 2016 was a super-charged, massive Le Dome, although probably made with greater precision than wines of the past. The tannins are big and gravelly – time will tell if this works.

Frederic Faye welcomed us to Figeac, an estate reborn. In truth, the wines never really went off the boil, but their over-ambitious pricing in 2009 and 2010 lost them a few friends. Now working with superstar oenologist, Michel Rolland, the wines are better than ever and are becoming much sought after. We loved the 2016 and it sent us on our way to La Pointe for the UGC Pomerol in good spirits. Alas, this mood was short lived. The UGCs on the Right Bank are becoming a bit of an irrelevance for us. So many of the top estates have excused themselves, there’s only a handful of wines to taste, and many of these don’t cut the mustard. Gazin was the standout star in Pomerol – a really handsome, serious wine with a good future ahead. One of the estates that has headed for the door was La Conseillante, so we dropped in for a quick unscheduled stop, and we were very glad that we did. After a string of disappointments (for us anyway), the 2016 sees Conseillante back to its very best – a really classy, refined Pomerol with just the right amount of make-up; it’s authentic, pretty and very well groomed.

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day one, The Right Stuff

UGC Week: Bordeaux 2016 - Day one, The Right Stuff

Monday 3rd April 2017
by Tom Jenkins

Our custom is to start on the Right Bank and ‘avoid the crowds’. Monday morning started with an early appointment with Denis Durantou at L’Eglise Clinet. Saintayme, Le Chenade, Cruzelles and Montlandrie were all spectacular, possibly the best range we’ve seen from Denis, boasting wonderful purity, lots of intensity and great balance. 

The Pomerols were a step up again; both very profound and exciting wines. Bravo Denis. Next stop was Le Pin to meet Jacques and George Thienpont. L’If continues to go from strength to strength, a St Emilion with real verve and a nervous tension that delights the taste buds. Le Pin is very grown up and muscular, less flamboyant than normal, but still packing a kaleidoscope of decadent fruits and seriously impressive tannins. This was becoming a tough morning and it was about to get tougher… Alexandre and Guillaume Thienpont presented the magnificent Vieux Chateau Certan 2016. They are rightly proud, this is a very handsome VCC full of breed. Did I mention that this was hard work? Next stop was Petrus for a very important ‘initiation ceremony’. We feared that the J&B bulldog, donated a few years ago, was about to get the snip, but this was actually a huge honour for our humble hound – he was made the official mascot for the forthcoming Petrus vintage. The wine itself is stunning and quite unique. It’s a powerful Petrus that harks back to greats of ’89 and ’90,  with a hint of exotic spice, yet all wrapped up in the suavest of tannins – it really is quite moving and deeply impressive – chapeau!

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