All posts filed under: English

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 …

Aging with grace

The atypical yet complex and subtle signature of Charles Heidsieck Champagnes develops over a period of years. The unique aging process does its work patiently, underground. For the Champagne house, a great wine demands the finest grape varieties, grapes that are picked just at the right moment, and plenty of time.This approach has been integral to the identity of the wines that the house has been producing since 1851 ; the heir to the company, Charles-Camille Heidsieck, chose to acquire Gallo- Roman chalk pits, where the humidity and temperature levels were constant. The chalk pits offer the ideal environment for the Champagnes to mature, allowing the emphasis to be on quality rather than quantity. “The house has chosen the diffcult option: 40 percent of what we produce is stored to ensure it reaches its full potential by the time it is opened,”explains Cyril Brun, chief cellarman at Charles Heidsieck. “In our cellars, the bottles are on average five years old.”That’s the age of maturity for these Champagnes, which acquire a variety of complex aromas, with …

Best of Bordeaux primeurs 2015 – château Beychevelle St-Julien

On arrival, you’re greeted by the aromas of the earth, the gurgling of the Gironde River and the crunch of footsteps on gravel. At the end of drive stands an ivy-covered château that has been standing here since the 16th century. It once belonged to the duc d’Epernon, who asked approaching ships to lower their sails as a sign of allegiance, with “Baisse-voile” becoming Beychevelle. Over the centuries, wine-making fourished at the “little Versailles of the Médoc“. The estate now also offers 11 guestrooms and 2 suites. With their high ceilings, old wardrobes, rugs and silk hangings, they offer views of the formal gardens or the vineyards. A personal chef is available on request to pair your plates with the red rubis of the grands crus of the estate. Château Beychevelle “en primeur” 2015 :  the clocks are silent, as if gripped with respect; during the tasting time stops and seems to expand. This wine is slipping into the interstices of the world, spurred along by the winds of the Gironde River and add depth …

Late “En Primeur” Tasting, 2014 Vintage

22nd March 2016 : The over 300 industry professionals in attendance — journalists, brokers, merchants, chateaux owners—did not hide their pleasure to rediscover the 2014 grands crus, only just three months away from bottling. 144 chateaux from both the Left and Right Banks were available for tasting and judgement by these professionals at Millésima’s Cellars in Bordeaux, who once again responded overwhelmingly positively for one of the most highly-anticipated tastings of the year. As for the vintage, the wines were showing well even in the cool cellars—temperature control being obligatory for the 2,500,000 bottles in stock! Many of the samples were quite expressive, showing notable fruit and a firm structure. Though 2014 lacks the intensity concentration of 2009 and 2010, it shines with its richness, something its predecessor in 2013 lacked. The 2014s were also more competitively priced (and still are), making them much more attractive on the market. Tasting just before bottling present the opportunity to appreciate these wines before they are subject to review, meaning that opinions are not tainted or influenced by …