A Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy Dinner

A Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy Dinner

Friday 2nd November 2018
by Alex Turnbull

Two weeks ago a very special dinner took place at 61 St James’s Street celebrating the wines of Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy and others. 

It was a magical evening, made all the better by exceptional food from Simpkin and Roses. All of the Bize-Leroy wines, including the Romanee Conti’s, came from the Justerini & Brooks Cellar, where they have been sitting since shipping from the respective Domaines on release. These are my notes.

Kicking off the evening with a glass of fizz and a canapé, we tried two vintages of iconic Champagne Salon from Les Mesnil Sur Oger. Easily one of the most instantly recognisable Champagne houses, it was fascinating to try the 1999 and 1996 in quick succession. Some wines have the remarkable ability to transport you back in time, and the 1999 did just that. Orchard and citrus fruits of apples and lemons, with a lovely creamy texture and a perfumed finish, I am pleased to report that the 1999 has barely developed since the last time I tried it and shows all of the signs that it will continue to age at a snail-like pace. The 1996 which we drunk next was marginally more evolved but no less delicious, and definitely entering its drinking window now.

Rhone 2017 - A tale of the unexpected

Rhone 2017 - A tale of the unexpected

Thursday 25th October 2018
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

During a week of bounding up and down the Rhone valley I have tasted some truly delicious wines. My focus has been on 2017s from barrel but I have also been tasting 2016s and 2015s from bottle. 

Before I launch into the many surprises 2017 sprung on me, a word on 2015 Chateauneufs. These are in a very good place right now and it is clearly a superbly-balanced vintage, they may well go into the shut-down phase that most Chateauneufs do but right now they are a joy and what’s more they show the harmony to suggest excellent ageing potential, it can genuinely be considered a great year in the South. People may remember France being bathed  in sunshine throughout 2015 but in the Southern Rhône it was not too much of a heat-wave vintage, there was a little more rain and ensuing cooler temperatures than further north.  The results were wines of great allure, roundness and charm. For sure richer than a “cool” style vintage but less alcoholic than other hallowed years like 2016 and 2007, for example. If you missed these at the time, then don’t hesitate to snap up 2015 Southern Rhônes. 

A Portfolio Tasting in Scotland

A Portfolio Tasting in Scotland

Thursday 4th October 2018
by Alasdair Lawson-Dick

Last week we welcomed guests to the New Club in Edinburgh for a Portfolio tasting, our first tasting in Scotland for two years.

With views overlooking Edinburgh Castle, the top floor rooms at the New Club provided the perfect setting to showcase a snapshot of our 3,000 strong portfolio. It is always a daunting process for our Buyers to pick a broad sweep of bottles to show clients at our tastings, representing some of our best and brightest producers, however, with more than 100 wines opened from across France, Germany, Spain, Austria, South Africa, Champagne, America, South America, Australia and New Zealand, there were plenty of old favourites and new gems for guests to discover.

Burgfest: The 2015 Red Vintage

Burgfest: The 2015 Red Vintage

Tuesday 18th September 2018
by Giles Burke-Gaffney

The prospect of four mornings spent blind tasting some of the finest reds in the Cote d’Or would be a mouth-watering one to any Burgundy lover... 

...though the reality of tasting 244 embryonic red burgundies from one of the most tannic and deeply coloured vintages on record was a more sobering thought - the daunting idea of trying to retain an unflinching concentration to give each wine its fair chance whilst endless batteries of between four to nine wine flights come in, wave after to wave, to assault the senses. Fuelled by enough restorative baskets of bread and gallons of water, I would just about make it to the end, palate intact, I thought to myself.  And yet….  The 2015 confounded this and many other tasters in the room.  I was surprised by the openness, joy and energy I found in the wines, tasting them was a sheer pleasure from start to finish.  Make no mistake, this is a powerful and concentrated vintage, but one with a sense of balance.  Only a few wines displayed alcohols that were out of kilter. Equally some wines from some producers will always have harsh tannins, but for the most part I found the wines had nice contours  - tannins were fine-grained, even seamless in some cases.  Acidities were not obvious but you could sense the role they played in supporting the wines’ big structures. This is without doubt a vintage “de garde” but a classy one.

Domaine Bruno Clair: Our Man in Marsannay

Domaine Bruno Clair: Our Man in Marsannay

Thursday 13th September 2018
by Mark Dearing

Domaine Bruno Clair today concludes its grape harvest, one of the earliest in living memory. Like the rest of Europe, Burgundy has sweltered in the hot and dry summer of 2018. 

Reports suggest that less than a millimetre of rain has fallen since early June. Hot weather has really been the only concern though, coming soon after a series of complicated vintages marked by frost and hailstorms which posed far greater challenges for Burgundy’s vignerons. Nevertheless, thirty-three degrees centigrade in mid-September poses problems and the need to keep the freshly picked grapes as cool as possible is a concern. In Bruno Clair’s words though, “better too hot than wet.” 

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