Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Mar 26, 14 Chateau Cantenac Brown Margaux dinner at Clos Maggiore, London

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, restaurants

“The first job of Bordeaux is to be red.” That is a common saying in the region and one that  was repeated to me by Troisièmes Crus Classified Château Cantenac Brown Margaux winemaker Jose Sanfins at dinner the other night. So, why was he making a white wine in Bordeaux? Well, in a nutshell, Jose likes the whites of Sancerre very much and as he was looking around his vineyards, he noticed that the soil was very similar in that it was mostly clay and mineral laden. He decided that he could make a white wine just as well. The result is the Alto de Cantenac Brown, a 90% sauvignon blanc/10% semillon blend. We were at a winemaker’s dinner at Covent Garden restaurant Clos Maggiore and were just about to start on the first course. The Alto was the first wine being highlighted that evening and we were in for a treat as it was the first time the 2012 Alto had been tasted outside the winery. Most Bordeaux blanc is a blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon. The chateau only has 1 hectare planted for the Alto and only produce 8000 bottles a year. It is comprised mostly of sauvignon blanc and aged in used oak barrels which gives it a slightly smokey note. Fresh and balanced with loads of lemon and grapefruit on the nose and palate. It was delicious with the starter of Scottish scallop and salmon tartare. What piqued my interest the most was the double magnum of 1999 Château Cantenac Brown. Who doesn’t like seeing those big bottles on a table. The ’99 was tasting very well with structured tannins,  freshness and a hint of fruit still around with wood/cedar notes. I like savoury wines so this was right up my alley! It was paired with a oven roasted breast of Wood Pigeon from the Royal Windsor Estate (shot on the west side of the estate in case you’re wondering) and this is a wine that really does shine with a well placed...

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Guest Post – Proving ‘Sideways’ Wrong: Understanding Merlot

Mar 05, 14 Guest Post – Proving ‘Sideways’ Wrong: Understanding Merlot

Posted by in Guest Post

Comedy enthusiasts and wine lovers alike might remember the film ‘Sideways’, the tale of two wine lovers on a stag weekend. No doubt the part that sticks in their memory is one of the lead characters voicing an angry refusal to drink Merlot. Naturally, the film won’t have done any favours for this dry, red wine. Who knows, a lot of the audience might not have known anything about wine at all — other than that it tastes good! — so perhaps we should see learn a little about Merlot, about how it’s made, before anyone else turns their nose up at it. A River Runs Through It The first thing to know about Merlot is that it’s a Bordeaux wine. The blend of grapes in this south west region of France is particularly prominent. Sure, most places blend grapes, but not quite like Bordeaux! If someone tells you that you’re drinking a ‘right-bank’ Bordeaux wine, it’s not a shot in the dark to guess that it’s a Merlot. They’re actually a clue as to the blend of grapes in the wine. In right-bank wines, Merlot grapes have a heavier presence in the blend, whereas in left-bank ones Cabernet Sauvignon grapes gain the upper hand. You can both identify the wine type a touch easier and sound knowledgeable at a party! Jumping to It Merlot grapes wait for no one. They’re quick to over-ripen, so once they’re ripe for the picking, you have to get straight in there if you don’t want a dull tasting wine. (Incidentally, a winery and university in Valencia has actually created a ‘tongue’ that detects when a grape is ripe for winemaking, in case you should have problems in that sphere!) You can pick the grapes by hand or machine. With the picker on the ball, the grapes then find themselves swiftly en route to the winery, where they’re de-stemmed and crushed for fermentation. This fermentation can be conducted using yeast naturally in the air, or, for a more consistent final product, with selected strands of yeast. The length of the fermentation is up to the winemaker, but, normally, this...

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Featured Post – Exploring the World’s Greatest Wine Regions

Oct 24, 13 Featured Post – Exploring the World’s Greatest Wine Regions

Posted by in All, Featured Post

Exploring the world’s greatest wine regions… France, Italy and Spain are the top three wine countries in the world, producing almost half of the world’s wine – but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should only visit wine regions within these countries. Wine is produced all over the world and so it can be very difficult to decide where to go to sample to the best wines on holiday, especially if you’re a beginner whose passion for wine has only just begun. Here Columbus Direct takes a look at some of world’s greatest wine regions and what you can expect from each one… Bordeaux, France It is likely that even the most novice of wine lovers know that Bordeaux is generally considered one of, if not the greatest wine region in the world. Bordeaux boasts around 284,320 acres of vineyards, producing a huge variety of grapes including Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. If you’re a lover of red wine in particular, you certainly won’t be disappointed, as around 75 to 80 per cent of the wine produced there is red. Bordeaux is also famous for making some of the most expensive and prized wines – though that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot when you’re over there. Wine tours are pretty inexpensive and there are plenty of wines available at reasonable prices, so don’t think it’s out of your price range. Napa Valley, California Napa Valley is considered to house the greatest collection of wineries in America, despite the fact it only produces around four per cent of California’s wine. Size wise, the region is about an eighth of the size of Bordeaux, yet there are around 220 wine producers here and around 95 per cent of them are family-run businesses. Napa Valley creates a wide variety of premium grapes – including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Merlot, among others. There are certainly enough different types here to keep wine lovers of all kinds happy. Maipo Valley, Chile Maipo Valley is the most established wine region in Chile, it’s most famous grape is Cabernet Sauvignon but Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes are also...

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Wines for Father’s Day and Beyond, Chateau Chantelune and Premier Cru Chablis

Jun 08, 13 Wines for Father’s Day and Beyond, Chateau Chantelune and Premier Cru Chablis

Posted by in France

Father’s Day is just round the corner but it’s not too late to get your Dad the perfect gift. If you’re visiting me, you must be looking for a few wine recommendations and I’ve got a few from The Perfect Cellar.  I was recently sent these two lovely wines (Chateau Chantelune and Premier Cru Chablis 2011 Mont de Milieu) by the Perfect Cellar and think they’d be very good choices for your Father’s Day gift giving. The first one is a red Bordeaux produced by Chateau Chantelune. They may not be very well known but are a small vineyard that has been developed and cared for by Jose Sansfins, technical director of Margaux house, Ch. Cantenac-Brown. I tried the 2009 Chateau Chantelune, a fabulous blend of merlot and petit verdot, with a plate of charcuterie and bread. I decanted it for about half an hour before drinking it and it opened up nicely. On the nose, loads of black fruits and spices jumped out of the glass, followed by a smooth, velvety textured palate. I noticed flavours of blackberries, licorice and toast with a long finish. A great choice and priced at £32.99 a bottle, a Bordeaux that punches above it’s price point. I was recently in Chablis and came away with a new found appreciation of Premier Cru Chablis. There are only 40 Premier Cru in Chablis, most planted on southeastern facing slopes which helps them get as much sun as possible. Premier cru wines also spend a bit of time in oak which gives them complexity and flavour but they still have the crispness that one associates with chablis. The Mont de Milieu 2011 Premier Cru by Domaine Charly Nicolle. A fresh but elegant wine, full of white flower and white stone fruits on the nose with a distinct hint of minerality. This wine would be great with creamy seafood dishes or roast chicken. Retailing for £20.45 a bottle, a real charmer. As an added bonus, The Perfect Cellar is running a promotion in...

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Win a pair of tix to Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

Film4 Summer Screen is returning to Somerset House from 16th to 27th August, and The Wine Sleuth has teamed up with the official wine sponsor of this year’s events, Bordeaux Wines, to offer a pair of tickets to one of the sold out performances – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (PG) on Sunday 26th August. All tickets are completely sold out so this is your chance to win tix. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets for the performance, all you need to do is answer the following question: Q: Bordeaux is the home of grapes renowned the world over. Name one of the three most widely used grape varieties in Bordeaux blends. Tip – there is a hint here TO enter: leave the answer in the comment section at the bottom of this post. Our lucky winner will be able to enjoy Steven Spielberg’s wild, whip-cracking sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The man in the hat is back when Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The action comes thicker and faster second time around, as Indy’s search for a mystical stone leads him to a dangerous subterranean world and pits him against a sinister religious cult. Each evening a film will be shown on the giant screen with full surround sound under the stars. The series will offer visitors an exciting and eclectic line-up of classic, cult and contemporary films, enjoyed with Bordeaux wine by the glass or bottle. Alongside the films will be an accompanying programme of insider talks and special events as part of Behind the Screen, and ticket holders are invited to arrive early and listen to a line- up of London DJs. The official wine sponsor of this year’s events, Bordeaux Wine, from the South West of France has produced red, white and rosé wines for centuries. Bordeaux wines will be on sale at the Courtyard Bar and the CIVB will also be sampling wines...

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