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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What’s the difference between a wine cougar and an anna nicole smith? Ch. Beaumont 1995

One of my favourite winebloggers are the BrixChix out in my sunny California. I was reading a post of their’s the other day about a discussion regarding whether wines should be drunk young or not. Liza, one of the BrixChix likes her wines young and refers to herself as  a “wine cougar”. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the term “cougar” used to describe older women who prefer younger men. Well, Liza likes her wines young, the younger the better as far as she’s concerned. Although, she’s no cradle robber! I, on the other hand, would probably call myself, what Liza refers to as, an ‘Anna Nicole Smith’. The older the better as far as I’m concerned. Luckily, Borough Wines , where I work, agrees with me and they have managed to get their hands on some lovely clarets from the mid 1990’s. Now, many of you may like your wines young but good claret always needs time to mature, much like one half of the human race. The majority are from the Haut Medoc but they also had a few St. Emilions in the mix. My favourite was the 1995 Ch. Beaumont. A cru bourgeois from the Haut Medoc, the chateau has been around since 1824 and they produce the quintessential claret. The ’95 is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc and spends between 12 – 18 months in oak. When I opened this one, red licorice and lovely lifted blackberry fruit notes on the nose, followed by tobacco and leather jabs. I had this wine with a dinner of steak and chips and it was delicious. After decanting, fabulous blackcurrant flavours came to the fore with plenty of  soft silky tannins. The wine finished off with a long black plum finish. Delicious. I could have savoured this one all night long but this oldie would only last so long and before I knew it, the bottle had given up the ghost. Oh well, on to the next, as Anna Nicole might have said…. The Chateau Beaumont 1995 is a steal at £30 in the market stall at Borough Wines in Borough...

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