Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Oct 29, 12 Lunch with Champagne Duval-Leroy, A family run champagne house

Posted by in Champagne, Food and Wine, France, restaurants

One of the things I love about wine, among the many, are the back stories that go with them. Meeting the winemakers or owners and listening to their tales of how the wine came to be, is fascinating and for me, always enhances the wine drinking experience. I had just returned to London from a long press trip but wasn’t going to let that stop me and went straight from Southampton to The Greenhouse Restaurant in Mayfair to meet Carol Duval-Leroy, her son Julien and their winemaker, Sandrine Logette-Jardin. I do love champagne and never say no if I can help it! What piqued my interest about Duval-Leroy was the fact that Carol took over after the untimely death of her husband about 20 years ago. She has not only kept the house going but is also the only woman to head a champagne house today. She now runs the house with the along with her three sons. Much like the original Veuve Clicqout of the 1700’s, she has not only continued but made many innovations as well as producing top quality champagne. The House is one of the few that uses organic grapes for their Brut Champagne and their tasting room is the only one in Champagne to  incorporate photovolataic panels, have a system for retrieving rainwater and have soundproofed it with a wall of vegetation. Over 40% of the Estate is made up of Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages on the Cotes des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. But enough of that, on to lunch. We started with the Fleur de Champagne 1er Cru, made from 100% Premier Cru grapes, they call it the Fleur because the nose is very floral. A blend of 70/30 chardonnay/pinot noir, it was light and fresh, a great aperitif and way to start the lunch. The Rose Prestige 1er cru is made by letting the must goes through an 18 to 20 hr maceration before malolactic fermentation and then a blend of rose saignee and white...

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Chatting with Edgardo del Popolo of Dona Paula Estates, Argentina

Sep 24, 12 Chatting with Edgardo del Popolo of Dona Paula Estates, Argentina

Posted by in Argentina

“Blends are definitely the next step for Argentine malbec.” That opinion was voiced to me by Dona Paula winemaker Edgardo del Popolo while we were tasting a few of his wines the other day. Edgardo (or Edy as he prefers to be called) and I were at The Only Running Footman in Mayfair for a small tasting and we were chatting about not only Dona Paula’s wines but also meandered into the future of Argentine wine. Edy was referring specifically to malbec/cabernet franc blends. He thinks that consumers today are looking for not just everyday wines from Argentina but also for premium, high quality wines. And that is where blends come into play. Dona Paula have found some great vineyard spots in the Uco Valley of Mendoza and it is here that he’s planted not only cabernet franc but also chardonnay and malbec. Edy thinks that the cabernet franc lifts malbec, giving it the structure that it needs. He compares it to Bordeaux blends, merlot and cabernet sauvignon are fine on their own but put them together and it’s a whole different dimension. So what about these great vineyards that Edy was talking about? He was referring to the Altamira and Gualtallary vineyards of the Uco Valley. Dona Paula has such confidence in Edy that about 15 years ago he was tasked with finding the best region both in climate and soil for Dona Paula’s wines. Edy found both areas by flying over them and once identified, they had to ride in on horseback to inspect the soil as they were in a completely isolated region. Dona Paula then bought 160 hectares, each hectare going through extensive analysis to decide what would grow best there. Edy liked the region because the soils were particularly poor but full of calcium carbonate which he believes gives his wines the minerality he prizes. One of the grapes he thinks do well in the Gualtallary is chardonnay. Edy wants to make a chardonnay that is not the usual...

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Talking with Australian winemaker Brian Croser about his Tapanappa wines… (podcast)

Jul 16, 12 Talking with Australian winemaker Brian Croser about his Tapanappa wines… (podcast)

Posted by in Australia, Podcast

In this edition of  my podcast I had the pleasure of speaking with the legendary Australian winemaker, Brian Croser. Brian, as most of you probably know, started Petaluma Winery in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia in 1976 and sold it in 2001. However, selling Petaluma was a new start for Brian and his wine Anne and after the sale, they started a new label and called it Tappanapa. I had dinner with Brian and Anne at the Savoy Grill recently here in London where I asked Brain to explain Tappanapa and it’s wines and philosophy in a bit more detail. Brian talks about why he thinks terroir is most important when it comes to producing quality wines and why he thinks that the diurnal differential is a myth…. (Listen Here to) Australian wine maker Brian Croser …And that was the delightful Australian wine maker Brian Crozer talking about his wine label, Tapanappa. Thanks for  listening and if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Wine(sleuth) and (London) Food(ie) matching supper club

So the London Foodie and I put on a supper club not long ago. How did that happen? And more importantly, how did it go? Luiz and I were sitting around one evening, shooting the breeze and imbibing a delicious red Rhone. “We should do a dinner with food and wine matching!” One of us always says that whenever we start drinking the vino but we never get around to actually picking a date. This time was different. “Let’s pick a date and do it,” I said. Goading Luiz on, he jumped on the laptop and put up a post right then and there announcing our supper club date. Next morning – “uh-oh.” Luiz came up with a menu in two seconds but me, well…better get thinking about what to match with Japanese (!) cuisine. Japanese food is notoriously difficult to pair with wine and for some reason we decided to call the evening ” French wine and Japanese food” in our wine haze. I love champagne and honestly, it does work so very well with  Japanese cuisine so a quick email to Perrier Jouet and they offered up the Mumm NV rosé for one of our courses. I paired it with the starter of tuna tataki with yuzu dressing. Rosé champagne is great with food, sometimes even better then non-rosé champagne. Everyone was surprised and delighted to be served bubbles in the middle of a meal. The rest of the menu featured still table wines from my friends over at DVine Wine. Greg and co. are big on sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines and I was impressed by their range when I worked with them on a recent market stall. I chose a 2010 sauvignon blanc from Guy Allion in the Loire. A elderflower and gooseberry flavoured wine, a great aperitif and paired with the canapes of Yakitori Chicken, Peppers and Baby Leek in Teriyaki Sauce and sushi, everyone commented on what a delight the wine was both by itself and with the...

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Uruguayan Bodega Marichal and their pinot/chard blend

This is one of those stories where inspiration strikes and the result is, well, maybe not divine but definitely delicious. Winemaking like so much else has embraced technology but sometimes all you need is good old ingenuity to correct a problem. That´s what faced Juan Andrés Marichal when he decided to make a pinot noir solely from saignee (first press of the berries but macerated for 4 hours) from a portion of his pinot noir harvest and discovered after a short time that it was quickly losing its acidity in barrel. I suppose I should back track  a bit and explain how I got to know Juan Andrés´story. I was visiting  his family vineyard, Marichal, in the Canelones region of Uruguay, roughly 40 kilometers outside of Montevideo. The Marichal vines were first planted by Andres´great-grandfather, Isebelino Marichal in the early 20th century, when he arrived to Uruguay from the Canary Islands. It wasn´t until 1938 however, that the winery was built and ever since, it´s been a family-run winery. Juan Andrés likes to tell the story of how his grandparents met. He stares off into the distance from the doorstep of his winery, points to a house about 500 mtrs up the road and says, “that´s where my grandmother grew up and where we are standing now is where my grandfather grew up.” His grandfather literally married the girl next door, or at least the closest next door neighbour he had. What started with his great grandfather has continued through the years to Juan Andrés and his brother. Although neither live at the vineyard, they both live in nearby Montevideo and visit often. Juan Andrés told me that Uruguay has not always been a quality wine producer but in the 1980´s, the government took an interest in the winegrowing industry and provided incentives to pull up all the inferior rootstock and replant it with higher quality vines. The family took advantage of this program and replanted extensively.  Juan Andrés also took advantage of the opportunity to study in Mendoza, Argentina. Today, Juan Andrés and his brother...

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