Tag Archives: James Hocking

What to drink this spring

What to drink this springSpring is here! OK, the weather may be a little variable at the moment, but things are definitely warming up and this certainly affects my seasonal wine selections. Read on for my recommendations on what to drink this spring.

Historically, March and April see the gamut of new wine and vintage releases throughout the vinous word. Many wine trade fairs are hosted around the country, with producers across the globe visiting the UK and showcasing their latest releases. So, what am I drinking at the moment…?

I always have a soft spot for Italy at this time of year, and have picked up a beautiful new Greco di Tufo from Feudi di San Gregorio, based down in Campania, Southern Italy (RRP £15.52). Lovely almond nose with a touch of white peach and honeysuckle flavours. I added their red wine Rubrato, made from the Aglianico grape (RRP £14.10) at the same time wanting that lovely balance of high acidity and low tannin. With a charcuterie board, either of these will be stunning. The whole concept of wine and food pairing is second nature in Italy…it’s just a concept that works!

wine glasses with rose wineLeaving Italy for a second, Germany and the classic grape of the region Riesling starts to come into fashion at this time of year, with Koester Wolf Riesling Kabinett (RRP £8.75) being consumed by the gallon chez Hocking, loaded with all that crisp lemon/lime zesty flavour and suitable for the spiciest of dishes. Also look out on our wine lists for the most exciting rosé wine I’ve tasted in years and on the water now – it’s from Austria and called Umathum. Every household should open this whilst the BBQ is getting up to temperature!

We have an Italian wine school coming up at The Vineyard on 8th April where you’ll be able to try some fantastic wines from all the great wine producing regions. We’ll also go into detail about how to match these delicious wines with food. Discover more

Cheers

James Hocking
Director of wine

James Hocking: A Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne

On Monday 9th July, I was invited to London to be “inducted” into a rather special “club”. This being the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Whilst those of you who know me will be wondering why I’m doing something non-Californian (!), our connections with Champagne at The Vineyard are immense, encompassing Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Gremillet, and a raft of others.

The role of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne is to promote the wines of Champagne, their unique features, their ways of consumption and everything which contributes to their reputation and their image as the most prestigious symbol of success and celebration. Its mission is to contribute to the dissemination of essential information concerning the wines of Champagne by creating and motivating a network of staunch supporters (professional restaurateurs, sommeliers, connoisseurs and personalities from the world of politics, media, stage and screen), most notably through Champagne-led events throughout the world.

Around 1650 young aristocrats at the court of Louis the XIVth, amongst whom were Mortemart, Ollonne, Brousse and the satirist Saint-Evremont, founded an elegant academy dedicated to good wines. They were all famous wine connoisseurs and were particularly fond of the champagne wines from the three “coteaux” (hillsides) Ay, Avenay and Hautvillers. Hence the name given to this association “Ordre des Coteaux”. It disappeared shortly before the revolution.

In 1956 a group of “champenois” led by Roger Gaucher and Francois Tatittinger in particular, who did the historical research, decided to revive the original “Ordre des Coteaux”.

At the dinner, which followed the intronisation ceremony, jeroboams and magnums of Champagnes Deutz, Drappierand Taittinger were served to accompany the food. I felt proud to have been asked to join the Ordre (in the rank of Chevalier), and am looking forward to assisting further with the promotion of what must be the world’s ultimate celebration wine…

First picture –  James Hocking, Director of Wine at The Vineyard Group and Justin Llewelyn – UK, Ireland & Channel islands Ambassador, Champagne Taittinger and Consul General, Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

Californian sparkling wine offer and free delivery: Enjoy 10% off one of our new arrivals – Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 08, until 31st August 2012 and take advantage of free delivery when you spend over £150. Please quote ‘blanc08‘ at checkout. Visit The Vineyard Cellars website now.

James Hocking

Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars
The Vineyard

The Peter Michael Winery Dinner June 2012 – Raiding the Library

On Saturday June 16th, I was asked to host and preside over something really special. For those who know the Peter Michael Winery and Vineyard Cellars, we spend more time than anything else saying “I’m sorry. We have no wine to sell”. This year is no exception, with a 2-year wait on the winery mailing list and only minimal stocks left here in the UK. “Raiding the Library” was therefore a chance to sample the unobtainable, paired with Daniel Galmiche’s bespoke tasting menu.

First up, Coeur a Coeur. A new wine for the winery made from 50% each Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Crisp, refreshing, but with the weight one would expect from Laville Haut-Brion or equivalent top Graves. A pair of Chardonnays followed to demonstrate the differences that terroir and micro climate in a single area can bring. Richness and ripeness versus minerality and steeliness, all within a couple of miles of each other!  On to the reds. Le Moulin Rouge is the opulent, blockbusting Pinot Noir from Gary Pisoni’s ranch down in Santa Lucia, South of San Francisco. Often the rarest wine made by the winery, this was the first time we opened this at any event in Europe. The flagship Les Pavots followed, exuding those classic left-bank Bordeaux characteristics of graphite, mineral, and dark fruit notes, lifted by a touch of cinnamon and other spice notes. The evening was complete…

But not quite. I had collected many old bottles of “PMW” as we call them over the past fifteen years,  and opened a few late-night bottles for our more hardened tasters. Clos du Ciel (long-since departed Chardonnay from Howell Mountain), Crète d’Or (Russian River Valley Chardonnay made once!), and older vintages of Belle Côte Chardonnay and Les Pavots Proprietary Red made up the list. We were done!

A very special evening, in the presence of Paul & Emily Michael and around forty ardent Peter Michael Winery fans. We’ll do it again some time…

James Hocking
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Group