Balfour video winetasting at the Bluebird

Well, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’m a big fan of Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose from Hush Heath Estate and I’ve written about it numerous times. I even took a couple of bottles to the American winebloggers conference last summer where it was a big hit. Last week, Penny from the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird, had a tasting of the Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose. I took along my fellow wineblogger, Wine90, so she could see what all the fuss was about. We did a short winetasting video after the event and here it is… The Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose is available from the Bluebird, retail  £39.99 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Lunch partners Bruno and Joel (Paillard and Robuchon)

Picture it – 10:20 Monday morning, just sitting down to the laptop, still in my jammies with a nice big pot of coffee by my side, thinking of heading over to the California wine trade tasting later that afternoon. (Riiiiing, riiiiing) “Hullo?” “Denise? Hi, it’s Dan from Bibendum. Listen I’m very sorry to bother you. Are you busy today? ” “Just the California show today. Why? Are you going?” “I know this is really short notice and I do apologise but do you think you’d be available to hop on down to Covent Garden for a champagne tasting and lunch? I’m really sorry for such short notice. It’s Bruno Paillard Champagne at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Covent Garden and …um, someone dropped out and we have an extra space and…um… it would be great if you could make it by 11:30.” “11:30?!?!” It takes at least 45 minutes to get to Central London from my house but I wasn’t going to miss this lunch. California would be there til 5:30 and Hell, I’m from there! I promised I’d be at L’Atelier as close to noon as possible. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten ready so quick and I made it with seconds to spare. The luncheon was hosted by Bruno Paillard himself and Willie Lebus, one of  the Directors of Bibendum Wines. We started off with a tasting of Bruno’s Old Disgorgements Collection which was the occasion we were commemorating. The collections consisted of 5 bottles that had been disgorged at various intervals from 6 months to 12 years in order to appreciate the evolution of the champagne. As Bruno explained, after disgorgement, (basically removing the dead yeast cells after the second fermentation), the wine really comes into it’s own, aging throughout the years, passing through 5 or 6 distinct stages ranging from fruit dominated flavours and aromas all the way to the candied fruits and aged roasted notes of mature champagne. What can I say about the wines. Bruno Paillard is one of my favourites and I’ve written about his champagnes previously. I just love his style of champagnes, full...

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Ch. Musar – Lebanese wine & dinner at The Bluebird

  Ch. Musar is probably THE wine of Lebanon. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head but if you mention it to wine folk, you’ll get nods of recognition and faraway looks even if they’ve never tried it. Ch. Musar situated in the Bekaa Valley, has survived numerous Middle Eastern upheavals, since it’s founding in 1930, always managing to put out a vintage except for the ’76 and ’84 vintgages when the vineyards were caught in a no-man’s land due to war. And even then, they tried as best they could to bring in the grapes. Penny at Bluebird has been busy organizing various events for the Wine Cellar at Bluebird there and a couple of weeks ago I attended the Ch. Musar dinner she’d organized. The dinner was held to launch Ch. Musar’s celebration of chief winemaker Serge Hochar’s 50th anniversary of winemaking. His son, Ralph, was on hand to walk us through the tasting with a surprise appearance by Serge at dinner. The evening kicked off with an informal winetasting in the wineshop before moving on to dinner in the loft of the Bluebird restaurant. Ch. Musar makes primarily red wines but we were treated to their 2003 Hochar Pere et Fils white, an aged wine made from merwah, which is a close relative of semillon. The wine is made to be drunk with a bit of age and isn’t put on the market until after a year after bottling. I quite enjoyed it, ripe baked apples, spicy gingerbread, brioche, complex nose with great acidity. This is a wine that still had plenty of life in it. Penny helpfully supplied canapes to nibble on whilst tasting. Ch. Musar reds are made from various blends of cabernet sauvignon, carignan, cinsault and grenache. The Chateau also believes in using as little intervention as possible, making wine in the traditional Bordeaux way, using  natural yeasts only and no fining. Serge believes that the “sediments are the best part of the wines,” and contribute much to the wine.  We sampled the...

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Takatu wines from NZ

After the Austrian tasting, my tasting day was not yet over. A leisurely stop at Caffe Nero for a strong cup of joe, I caught the #11 bus to Chelsea for a New Zealand evening winetasting at the Bluebird. Penny had another boutique winery on tasting, this one from the Takatu peninsula from whence the winery gets its name. Takatu translates as “well prepared”  and the owners have done everything to ensure that their winery is well prepared to produce amazing wines. According to the website, “the topsoil was removed prior to planting in 2000, leaving only iron rich soils adding depth and opulence to the fruit. The vines are densely planted ( 4000 vines per hectare), no irrigation and extreme pruning ensure very low yields and other sustainable viticultural practices all ensure only the best wine is produced.”  They also use wild yeasts when possible. The winery  really is boutique, producing only 3 distinct wines. John Forsman, the owner and winemaker was on hand all the way from NZ to take us through the tasting. Luckily, he flies 747’s when he’s not making wine so coming to London just to do a tasting at the Bluebird was not too much of a stretch. We started with the ’07 Takatu pinot gris. The minerality of the soil really came jumped out of the glass. Stony fruits – apricots, pears, ripe pineapple on the nose. A  full, creamy palate with loads of fresh pears and tropical fruit rolling around my mouth. A pleasure to imbibe. The next two wines were reds. The ’06 Kawau Bay Merlot was a complex joy to drink. Loads of cherry, blackberries and spicy plums on the nose whilst the palate was nicely understated, all cigar box/cedar flavours against a backdrop of understated fruit, smooth and well structured. I could see having this with a nice hunk o’ meat. The last wine was their cuvee, the ‘ 05 Takatu Merlot Franc Malbec. This was one of the wines that was naturally fermented with wild yeasts.  An amazingly...

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The video – Riedel winetasting at the Bluebird

  I got a new camcorder the other day to play around with at tastings. I’m still learning to use this damn thing but I’m sure I’ll get better as I go along! The video is from the Riedel comparative winetasting at the Bluebird not long ago. A bit of geek speak, a bit of what it was like to be there. [viddler id=973e078e&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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