All posts filed under: English

London Whisky, the start of the story

Who invented whisky? The Scots and Irish have been slugging this one out for centuries. But there’s a case for saying it was actually Londoners. Records show King Harold making a barley-based eau de vie in north London as early as 1060. This would pre-date the first known example of Scottish whisky production by more than 400 years. London’s tradition of whisky distilling has been largely forgotten, but in the first half of the 19th century the capital  was home to at least 6 whisky distilleries. Competition from the Scots and a dramatic crash in whisky prices, put nearly all of them out of business (Source : Darren Rook, founder of the London Distillery Company, Evening Standard 19.04.2017). Now a new generation of craft distillers are on the brink of resurrecting that tradition and there’s a bit of a race on at the moment to be the first to relaese a London whisky, but there’s no rush. The important thing to remember is that making a good whisky takes time (you have to age a …

The real “meal deal”

Tripadvisor’s 2017 list of its top London restaurants might just surprise you. Forget about going to Gordon’s place… here’s where you should “really” eat in London. When it comes to fine dining, London is NOW one of the world’s great gastronomic destinations, with a total of 79 Michelin stars (the only city in Europe with more is Paris), but in the early ‘90s the height of sophistication could be summed up by a visit to a trattoria, some red-and-white checked tablecloths and a candle shoved into a hard straw-encased Chianti bottle. If you were feeling brave, you’d order daring dishes such as spaghetti bolognese. If you were playing it safe, you’d go for a prawn cocktail, followed by a steak so well done you could have worn it as a shoe. Fast-forward to 2017, and the UK scene couldn’t be more different . In a city boasting so many Michelin stars, the annual TripAdvisor list of London’s top 10 restaurants is very surprising. You won’t find too many celebrity chefs here, and only one spot …

Escape.

Quit your daily routine, sell your shoe collection and sit on board of a flight aimed roughly in the direction of some adventure…. It takes real guts to leave the stability of your life behind and head on out into the unknown, but the best decisions always do. Thankfully, you can sometimes find the most fantastic things going on at the end of your own street, like live and work for two months in London (1.5h flight from home), a realistic option. As you know, I work for a company that buys directly from wine producers, stores the bottles in optimal conditions, then sells them with a guarantee of provenance to oenophiles around the world. The operation hinges on developing close relationships with the châteaux and domaines from where the wine is sourced as well as the customers. The world of wine and service is all about the people, it’s essential to meet in person if you want to develop an understanding of someone’s needs and put back some personality into the process. That’s why …

Sauvignon blanc, a polarising grape

Not sure about sauvignon blanc ? For me it helps to know where you sit (and sip) on the flavour spectrum. Fans blissfully imbibe this wine, while detractors describe it as “cat’s pee ” or sweaty armpits. Devotees like it cold on a hot day. The cynics wouldn’t be seen dead with a glass yet offer them chilled Sancerre and they’ll purr words such as “clean, crisp and minerally”. Like so many things in life, there is truth in both extremes. Under the wine laws of France, sauvignon blanc is the mandatory white grape of the Sancerre region. When planted in the area’s chalk – laden soils, it takes on a unique personality : subtle and charming, restrained and discreet, an excellent example of terroir, that indefinable word that expresses a wine’s sense of place rather than its variety. The other distinct terroir for sauvignon blanc is Marlborough, on New Zealand’s south island. It’s recent (and equally valid) terroir, first recognised with the pivotal 1985 Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. Fresh – cut grass, goosebarry, passion …

Like Christopher Columbus, I left Palos de la Frontera…

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way for a 3 months wine journey in #AustralAsia, but before heading to the Barossa Valley, I visited old friends in Spain near the town of Toro and the Duero river. I used to work in the area when I was in charge of the mkg dept. for François Lurton – Bodega Lurton – located on a wide plateau above the river, made of a deeply gravelly, sandy soil with big rusty-coloured rounded stones. These stones are highly reflective and the gravelly soils are well-aerated. The altitude is between 700m to 800m above sea level. All of these factors lead to the production of a very high quality of grapes with optimal ripeness and concentration but with an element of freshness. The location of the nearby Duero River has a positive influence on the plots helping to temper any extreme summer temperatures. But, at that time, we didn’t reinvent or redesign a wine space. Today a miracle has taken place in Valdefinjas, another little village in Castile-León : Under the vast sky, wine …

Call it “Eat, Pray, Love” (and Drink) Syndrome

This Christmas I’ll be turning 40 and stop dreaming about taking a career break to travel. After years of disciplined life, I’ll do it ! I’ll leave my job in Bordeaux for a few months, bid “adieu” to my bo-ho loft, drop off my beloved black cats at “Chez Maman” and pack my bags. I used to follow (and hate) several round-the-world travelers on Instagram. Whenever I’d scroll through my feed and see photos of them kicking back on a beach or sampling street food from a cart, I’d be filled with jealousy… Well, now I’ll be the dick posting all the photos of Australian beaches and Indian meats-on-a-stick! But what you’ll see on my Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Blog won’t be the whole story, not even half of it… Fête de la Fleur parties happen every year. This is once in a lifetime. When I first started telling people my grand plan, I was met with one of three responses: (a) awe and envy, usually from fellow travelers; (b) fear for my well-being (What about terrorists?) and my bank account (no …

Frescobaldi, a culture beyond the vine and the grape

« Cultivation » and « culture » are an inseparable combination in Tuscany. The richness of this region lies in its diversity, in the union between north and south, amalgamating mountains and sea, cities and countrysides, land and the men who work it. The history of the Frescobaldi family starts over a thousand years ago and it’s a unique and peerless treasure of knowledge and traditions that give wines with their own matchless personality in their six family estates : Tenuta Castiglioni in Montespertoli, Chianti And Toscana IGT Castello Pomino, Pomino DOC Castello Nipozzano, Chianti Rufina and Toscana IGT Tenuta Castelgiocondo in Montalcino Tenuta Remole in Sieci Tenuta Ammiraglia in Magliano, Maremma Toscana DOC and Morellino di Scansano DOCG which I visited this summer. The Ammiraglia winery, built by the architect Piero Sartogo (from Rome) in 2006, is reminiscent with its modern lines of the prow of a ship pointing towards the sea, in search of a new horizon and the wines represent a modern, more Mediterranean Tuscany, facing seawards in search of this new horizon. Perfectly integrated amid the …