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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Golf Live Show this weekend (and wine!)

May 21, 11 Golf Live Show this weekend (and wine!)

Posted by in Lifestyle

If you like golf like I like golf, you should get down to the Golf Live Show going on right now! This weekend at the London Golf Club just outside of Tunbridge Wells. I was invited as a guest of Hotel du Vin, they know I like my wine but what do they have to do with golf? Plenty it turns out, as they work with the 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montogomerie in support of Elizabeth Montogomerie Foundation, Colin’s charity that he set up in memory of his mother who died of cancer. Hotel du Vin also plays host to all the professional golfers, providing their accommodation for the duration of the show. They are some lucky golfers enjoying the Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells and all it’s fabulous wines. The show is everything to do with golf. I was in golf heaven. They have pros on hand to give tips on how to improve your putting, driving, chipping, slicing, you name it, they can probably solve your problem.  There are also plenty of masterclasses from some golfing greats. Besides Colin , Ian Woosnam, David Howell, Carly Booth and Trick Shot master Jeremy Dale are just a few of the pros  on hand to give demonstrations and chat. Golf Courses to me are some of the most beautiful places to visit and there are plenty of golf course representatives on hand if you fancy booking a holiday. From the very trad Scotland and Ireland to the more exotic Dominican Republic and, the one I’d like to visit, Turkey, you can take your pick. Of course, they all seem to be giving away holidays, so fingers crossed, I win one! Of course, being the ‘sleuth, I did find some very good wine at the show as well. The Desires de Vin company have a stall where you can pop by and buy a glass or two of red or white Burgundy. I particularly liked the 2009 Auxey Duresses red, silky and fruity with some...

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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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I visited Piedmont with Berry Brothers & Rudd and so can you…

It’s not too late to enter Berry Bros. & Rudd’s latest competition to win a trip to Piedmont, Italy with their resident wine buyer, nebbiolo expert, and 8th generation Berry, David Berry Green. Berry Bros. & Rudd is one of the oldest wine merchants in the world and is offering one lucky person and a companion the chance to hang out with their Piedmont winebuyer. Piedmont is well known for it’s Barolo’s but did you know that Barolo is made from nebbiolo? Or that nebbiolo is also made into an early drinking, bright and very food friendly wine? All you have to do is make a short video explaining why you think you’d like to win. I was invited to visit Serralunga d’Alba, where David is based in Langhe, Piedmont, and met many of the producers as well as eat some very choice food and visit medieval castles. But the real reason we were there was to discover the wines made from the nebbiolo grape. I had a chance to sit down with David and asked him why he thought nebbiolo was worthy of being in the spotlight. See how easy it is to make a video and what a lovely chap David is? So what are you waiting for, make your own video explaining why you think you should win the trip and get your entry in by 21 April 2011. Good luck! Full Details and how to enter here  in Competition Details Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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