Friday, 18 March 2011

Château Gigault dinner

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

Last Friday we were delighted to welcome Christophe Reboul-Salze to Bristol.  Christophe owns Chateau Gigault - the finest estate in the 1eres Cotes du Blaye.  Many of us think of Blaye as a relatively new addition to the famous names of Bordeaux, so it was fascinating to learn that Averys had actually listed Gigault in our 1935 Wine List!  Christophe's promised to send us a copy (but not a bottle...).

Over twenty of us - the wine advisers, team Culver Street, Liz Field from the buying department, Beccy from marketing, and me - took Christophe to my favourite Bristol restaurant, where they not only accommodated our large party (plus bottles) but served us some top notch food.  Over the course of dinner we worked our way through a vertical tasting of Christophe's top bottling: Chateau Gigault Cuvee Viva.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Book release - Quicklook@Wine by Richard Avery

Quicklook@Wine provides an instant solution to help you get to grips with this fascinating industry and its products. Wine expert Richard Avery takes you briefly and clearly through the story of wine, exploring the amazing care taken in its production and the marriage of art, science and luck needed for success.

Son of the noted Bristol wine merchant John Avery, Richard Avery has wine in his blood. He represents the fifth generation of a family business founded in 1793. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors, Richard completed a Wine Tasting diploma at the University of Bordeaux in 1995. While in France, he helped to set up and manage Cousin et Cie, a Denmark-based wine company that challenged even the more established Bordeaux specialists. To this day, one of his proudest achievements is having sold Burgundy and Australian Shiraz to the Bordelais.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Château de Beaucastel tasting with Marc Perrin

By Aaron Rice

Chateau de Beaucastel is one of the leading lights of the Rhone valley – and recent vintages were illuminated for us when Marc Perrin visited last week to host a tutored tasting of some of the impressive wines which he and his brothers have crafted in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Almost all of their wines are blends because, as Marc explained “Each grape is like an instrument – and the symphony will always be more impressive than the solo recital” hence Rhone wines gain their depth, complexity and unique appeal from the interplay of different varieties; so blending becomes as important as the growing and making of the individual wines. This he cites as one of the main differences between the northern and southern Rhone.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Questions for Michel Chapoutier

How would you describe your winemaking philosophy? How important is the notion of ‘terroir’?
Firstly, we should explain the notion of terroir. The OIV (International Wine Body) has created a definition for terroir: this is the conjunction of soils, climate (can be a microclimate), a vintage and a man /woman with his/her historical traditions.

The Chapoutier philosophy is to have a respectful approach to the terroir. Producing an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) wine does not simply consist of extracting the aromatic flavours of grapes, it is much more than that.

It is also very important to talk about yeasts in relation to the terroir – during the alcoholic fermentation, yeasts will transform sugar into alcohol. Several types of yeasts exist and give the wine an aromatic signature. The wine is like a symphony and yeasts are musical instruments. At M. Chapoutier, our philosophy consists of choosing indigenous yeasts naturally present on the grape skin. Mineral elements extracted from the soil by the roots will select certain indigenous yeasts versus others during the fermentation. There is therefore a real link between yeasts and terroir and this is the reason why we can talk about terroir only for fermented products – for example, you cannot distinguish a granitic or a calcareous soil if you eat only the grapes. Each yeast, selected by a specific oligo-element will bring its aromatic signature.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

No spitting in Tower Hamlets

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

I rounded off a freezing cold week in January with an indulgent trip to Corney & Barrow's London offices, where I found perhaps the least used spitoons in the world for that one morning.  The occasion was the annual trade/press presentation of the latest vintage release from Domaine de la Romanee Conti - perhaps the greatest wine estate in the world.

The tasting was conducted in a hushed but relaxed atmosphere and it was really nice to be able to take my glass off to a corner and work quietly at my own pace. With each wine, after an initial swirl I was careful to put it aside, and leave it for a while to unfurl in the glass. Not a luxury you often find at these events.