New Wine Society launching at 1 Lombard St in the City

Aug 10, 11 New Wine Society launching at 1 Lombard St in the City

Posted by in Food and Wine

Charles Dickens used to work in a bank at 1 Lombard St. That bank has since been turned into the restaurant 1 Lombard St and I was there the other night for the launch of their new Wine Society. The restaurant’s sommelier Matthew Mawtus is going to be conducting winetastings in the bank’s former vault featuring not only his favourite wines but also the wine makers who make those wines. I Iike Matthew’s favourite wines as well. It seems his Society will be focusing on some of the world’s greatest wines of which I’m always happy to partake of, being an Old World wine kind of gal. Monday night he featured white Burgundy, Bordeaux and a tokaji – yum! All of the wines came from the restaurants extensive cellar and there are plenty of big names on the list from all the classic wine regions, which I suppose is to be expected from a restaurant in the heart of the City. The restaurant is right across the street from the Bank of England and I can imagine many a banker’s meeting being held the modern brasserie dining room. We started with an elegant Chassagne Montrachet, the 2007 from Domaine Louis Carillon. I just love those elegant white Burgundies, complex but harmonious on the palate and constantly evolving as I was drinking it. It was paired with poached sweetbreads, which I’m not a big fan of, but the sweetbreads were so well prepared that I ate them all and the wine was well matched, lemony citrus finish and a subtle chalky note to it. Everyone knows I like a good Bordeaux or Bored-O as my friends say because I seem to drone on and on about them but I do love them and so does Matthew. The 2004 Leoville Barton was served with noisettes of lamb. A classic Bordeaux, savoury nose- leather, cedar, graphite, and a touch of brett, which I always enjoy. The Leoville was free flowing and much enjoyed by everyone round the...

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Claret gets to London the old fashioned way – by boat

May 23, 11 Claret gets to London the old fashioned way – by boat

Posted by in France

What better way to end the London International Wine Fair then on a boat on the Thames, sipping claret (how the English used to and sometimes still do, refer to red Bordeaux) at the foot of Tower Bridge. Tony Laithwaite of Laithwaites thought that was as good a way as any and so we stepped onto a water taxi at Canary Wharf for the short trip up the Thames to Butler’s Wharf where Tony was waiting with the 2009 La Voyage du Chai au Quai. The Irene, a restored 121 ft wooden sailing freighter had set out 11 days before from the quayside in Bordeaux with their cargo of 9000 bottles of specially made, limited edition claret, the way it was done for over 600 years until the advent of railroads when it became cheaper to send the wine by train. Tony wanted to recreate the voyage, complete with a 100 foot sailing ketch, her hold full to the brim with claret. Tony joined the boat in Guernsey for the final leg of the trip,but Le Chai winemaker, Mark Hoddy was on the entire trip and tweeted/blogged daily. You can find their exploits here . The arrival of The Irene was not only to bring claret to London the old fashioned way but also raise awareness and funds for the Macmillan Cancer Support charity. There was an fine wine auction that evening at the Arches and Laithwaites hopes to raise £10,000 from the event. The wine is a modern claret, not too heavy on the tannins with good fruit, primarily plums and blackberries, fresh on the palate with well integrated oak notes but beware, the wine is unfined and minimally filtered so it’s probably best to decant before drinking. It comes from one of the lesser known appellations, the Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux AOC which makes it exceptional value. It also hails from the chateau where Tony got his start in the wine trade as a student washing bottles. A good wine to have...

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Ch. Clauzet, good Bordeaux that doesn’t break the bank…

May 16, 11 Ch. Clauzet, good Bordeaux that doesn’t break the bank…

Posted by in France

I do like my claret. Until I moved to England I had no idea what claret was (it’s what the English call Bordeaux red wines) and even then I didn’t think would have much of a chance to drink it. “Oh, I don’t have enough money to even contemplate buying a bottle, let alone a case!” However, once you look past the big names there are plenty of excellent and good value for money choices, on both the Left and Right Banks of the Gironde River. The St Estephe commune is located near the mouth of the Gironde river estuary on the Left Bank in the northernmost corner. It’s known primarily for it’s muscular and well structured red wines, wines that usually need a lot of time to mellow before you can drink them. I was invited to a dinner at Racine with the owner of Chateau Clauzet and Chateau de Come, Baron Maurice Velge, as well as the technical director, Jose Bueno, last week to taste their efforts at producing a St. Estephe wine that was not only imminently drinkable but also a combination of strength and elegance. Because of it’s location so far north, St. Estephe is often overlooked, but the vineyards of Ch. Clauzet are neighbours of Lafitte and Cos d’Estournal and have very similar soils, deep gravel and gentle slopes thus providing good drainage. The wines are a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a dash of petit verdot and/or cabernet franc.  Technical Director, Jose Bueno, came to the vineyards after spending 23 years as cellar master with Baron Phillipe de Rothschild and wanted the challenge of working with what he views as “the outstanding terroir” of the estate. The Chateau Clauzet is a blend of 55% cab sauv. 40% merlot and 5% petit verdot/cabernet franc. We tasted a vertical of the wines from 2010 to 2004 right off the bat. It was informal and we were left to our own devices during the tasting although Jose was on hand...

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A funny thing happened on the way to Bordeaux en primeur

SO, there I was, first day of Bordeaux En Primeur 2010. 9:30am,we set out, my palate was fresh and it was a beautiful sunny early Spring day. First on the list, Pomerol, where we were heading to one of the grand cru classe tastings. I couldn’t wait to finally experience what it would be like to taste these great wines when they’re just months old. It was going to be a giant learning curve but I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. And then disaster. We had barely driven 500 meters from the chateau we were staying in when the car died. Ironically enough, in a place called Grace Dieu (God’s Place). I’ll give the car this much, like elephants, it picked an appropriate place to die. Rather then spend our first morning in St. Emilion at a grand chateau, what did we do? Wait for the French equivalent of the AAA. To add insult to injury, there were loads of cars passing us by full of journos,who I’m sure were on their way to the very same tasting we had wanted to do. After waiting about 3 hrs by the roadside, yes, the French AAA is just as speedy as the American version. We ended up at a biodynamic wine tasting that was held at Ch. Fonroque which itself is a grand cru classe of St. Emilion. The tasting had almost nothing to do with St. Emilion but it was close by and they did have an organic/biodynamic lunch for all those who were crazy or desperate enough to go to a biodynamic tasting during en primeur. Biodyvin is a body of wine produers in France who make their wines according to biodynamic priciples, which in a nutshell is homepathy for plants, using the lunar cycle to plant, harvest and even bottle the wine. Some would consider them a bit out there but of all the biodynamic wines I tasted at Biodyvin, most were very high quality indeed. There was even 3 champagne...

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Old Vines, New Shoots -2010 Bordeaux

I really didn’t think I was going to make the tasting and dinner at Gauthier Soho after my flight was delayed. I had been in Bordeaux all day at Millesima’s Panorama tasting of the 2009 vintage and my 6:20 flight back to London had been delayed by an hour. Would I make it back in time to get through immigration, catch the Gatwick Express to Victoria and then the Tube to Piccadilly? Well, I was willing to give it a try, especially after the cheeky nap I managed to sneak in in the departure lounge of Bordeaux airport while waiting for my flight. I was in a rush to get to Gauthier as I had been invited by Neil Phillips (The Wine Tipster) to meet a couple of Bordelais winemakers who were, while not exactly trying to modernize Bordeaux, had decided to make their wines a bit more contemporary in style while still maintaining excellent quality at a reasonable price. A tall order to fill but Neil was confident we’d find the wines appealing. An interesting aspect of the evening was that we would not only be trying older vintages of each chateau but each of the winemakers had brought the recently finished 2010’s, giving us the opportunity to try them before anyone else in either the press or trade. En primeur was still a few weeks away, the dinner being in early March and en primeur week being in April. Neil had chosen 3 Bordeaux chateaux, La Dauphine (Fronsac), La Pointe (Pomerol) and Marquis de Terme (Margaux) to showcase their 2010 wines. All three chateaux have undergone extensive refurbishing, replanting and analysis of their vines to produce not only the best wine possible but also making wine that is affordable for the average consumer as well as approachable. The 2010 Chateau de la Dauphine from the Fronsac AOC was a delightfully fresh and intensely fruity wine. The fruit coming out on the mid palate and carrying on for quite some time. Great acidity...

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