Category Archives: Wine and Spirits

Icon Wine of the Week: Chateau Montelena

Made legendary by the historic Judgement of Paris, to which we are so indebted, Chateau Montelena is a rich, juicy, profound red, a showstopping Cabernet ideal for the Christmas table. Fittingly, it is our Christmas Weekend icon wine.

Montelena

Chateau Montelena was founded in 1882 by Alfred Tubbs. The renaissance of the winery, under the leadership of James Barrett, began in 1972 with the replanting of the Estate vineyard and the establishment of the Chateau Montelena philosophy: make the best, period.

Today the tradition continues. Jim Barrett’s son, Bo, winemaker at Chateau Montelena beginning in 1982, is now its Master Winemaker. After more than three decades of experience with the same vineyards and varieties, the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Chardonnay are recognized as world-class. This is a smooth and elegant wine with a long finish.

The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (an 8,600-case cuvée made from yields of 1.98 tons of fruit per acre) is considered by Bo Barrett to be a “great” year. The wine boasts a saturated inky/purple colour as well as extraordinary density of fruit and cassis, and huge tannin, body, and extract. It is a substantial, palate-staining, long, muscular Cabernet.

There is the trademark Montelena earthy, berry fruit, smoky and rich with many subtleties. On the palate it has a big juicy front, a very full texture and many layers of flavours in a rich cross section of fruit and terroir.

Great with our chefs Cornish Lamb shoulder or grilled red beef.

Icon Wine of the Week: Château Lagrange from St. Julien

Bordeaux is one of the most revered and long-standing wine regions in the world. St Julien, situated on the Left Bank, is no exception, producing Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated reds.

St Julien

Château Lagrange was known in the Middle Ages as the Noble House of Lagrange Montei. Records of the successive owners go back as far as 1631. In 1824 the total production was 120 barrels (12 000 cases). In 1842, the ex-Home Secretary to King Louis-Philippe, Count Duchatel, left his mark on the property and the Médoc by introducing a drainage system in the vineyard. This helped improve the wine immensely. While drainage in vineyards is common today, that was very forward thinking in 1842.

The Count brought the annual production up to 300 barrels. This was a golden age for Lagrange, with the famous 1855 classification awarding the property the title of Third Classified Growth. The beginning of the 20th century was much less glorious as the economic conditions deteriorated. Despite several changes in ownership the yields were lower and of lesser quality. A decline in business meant the estate had to be broken up from 280 hectares (around 700 acres) in 1840, the domain had been reduced to 157 hectares (392 acres) by December 1983, when the Japanese group Suntory bought it from the Cendoya family, owners since 1925.

Lots of floral, berry and raspberry character on the nose lead to a medium- to full-bodied, with well-integrated tannins and a fresh finish. Aromas of tobacco, smoke, cigar box, blackberry and cedar wood personality. The tannins are ripe, the fruit is ample and fresh, finish with a spicy, cassis and pomegranate note. Lovely wine. Round and refined.

Great with our chef’s lamb and beef.

Icon Wine of the Week: 2005 Gevrey Chambertin

Gevrey-Chambertin is a town in the Côte de Nuits producing some of Burgundy’s most renowned red wines. This weekend, our wine team introduce a 2005 from this town, available by the glass.

Gevrey Chambertin

With 400 hectares of vineyard area this is the largest wine-producing region in the Côte d’Or. Gevrey Chambertin wines are sturdier, bigger and heavier than those of their neighbours Vosne-Romanée.

The 2005 Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Cinq Terroirs perpetuates the practice of combining the fruit from Au Velle, En Motrot, Combe du Dessus, En Deree and En Champs (all downhill from Champeaux on the north side of Gevrey) into a single and – at least in this instance- highly synergistic village wine, representing nearly half of the estates total acreage. Fruit from these sites are co-fermented in two lots segregated by age of vine, and then blended.

This fine wine is fresh, very ripe and moderately earthy nose that features ripe black fruits with carnal, fungal, and mineral nuances combine for a clear, bright, satin-textured, and substantially-concentrated impression, free of any superficial sweetness and successfully resisting the influence the all new barrels.

Long, rolling low tones of black fruits and forest floor complete a picture very 2005 in its combination of bright fresh fruit acids with dark, even slightly sombre hues of flavour. There is ample mid-palate fat that does a fine job of buffering the relatively fine underlying structure and this should be approachable young but have the capacity to age.

Icon Wine of the Week: 2010 Sassicaia

The original “Super Tuscan”,  2010 Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido Incisa della Rocchetta from Bolgheri in Tuscany, Italy welcomes in the first weekend of advent. Warm, rich and lustrous, this is the ideal winter warmer by our fire. One of our wine team, Michael Meyers, tells us more.

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Sassicaia is the only single estate wine in Italy with its own appellation – Bolgheri Sassicaia. It was the original “Super Tuscan” and is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged for 24 months in French barriques, of which these days ony 20% are new.

Mario Incisa della Rochetta, part of a grand old Italian family who’s roots extend back to the Renaissance and beyond, and cousin of the Antinoris, married Clarice della Gherardesca in 1930 and with his wife came some land in Bolgheri. The story of Sassicaia was just beginning. Mario dreamed of making a wine like the grand vins of Bordeaux and, noticing a similarity between his Bolgheri vineyards and those of the Graves, decided to plant some Cabernet Sauvignon. In the early years the wine was just for consumption on the estate and was not always well appreciated. Fortunately, a few cases were put away to age with each vintage and, once time had worked its magic, it became clear that these were wines that only truly showed their majesty with a few years in bottle.

The first vintage released for commercial sale was the 1968 and it transformed Tuscan wine and has given rise to a host of imitators and rivals. Sassicaia is now revered, not only as one of the best wines in Italy, but as one of the best wines in the world.

The 2010 Sassicaia is intensely saline, savoury and energetic. Rosemary, sage, plums and black cherry notes meld into graphite, crushed rocks and a host of other more mineral-inflected nuances. This red is very aromatic with currant, dried berry, cocoa bean, and hints of wood. It’s full-bodied, with intense yet very polished tannins and a long finish. It’s very refined and beautiful with a tangy finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through here at the finish.

This is great with lamb and beef.

Icon Wine of the Week: Nebbiolo’s Barbaresco

This week, we are exploring one of the greatest examples of the Nebbiolo grape: Spinetta from Vignetto Gallina,  Italy. Producing highly tannic wines, commonly suitable for ageing, here we showcase one of the greatest vintages in modern times.

Nebbiolo

Barbaresco from the DOCG of Piedmont in North Western Italy is made from the Nebbiolo grape, ubiquitous in this region. Nebbiolo is a very delicate grape variety producing a light red wine, almost similar to Pinot Noir but with a heavier structure. It is very food friendly, and as wines traditionally best match with the cuisine of the local area, the foods of North Western Italy is ideal.

Most wines made using Nebbiolo are made for ageing. This bottle, a 1997, will have softened somewhat over 18 years, to bring out more mature and complex notes, with tar and roses coming to the fore.

1997 is always regarded as a great vintage in Italy and this is one of the greatest examples of Nebbiolo. The wine develops some ripe dark cherries, plums and cooked strawberries aromas followed by a touch of violet, cedar wood, truffle with an earthy note and showing a soft and feminine palate.
This wine pairs perfectly with duck.

Icon Wine of the Week: Château Climens

The colder months often warrant something a little richer, and few bottles can beat a Sauternes from France. Luscious and with a lovely nose, this particular bottle – a 1967 Ch. Climens – is something special.

 Sauternes

This weekend we are celebrating one of the finest dessert wines! Château Climens is a Premier Cru Classé from Bordeaux 1967

Barsac is one of the five villages to be able to carry the appellation Sauternes but can also have its own. Château Climens has been classified as a First Growth in 1855 and is made in the same way as Sauternes, with the Semillon grape. Sauternes can be made with two other gape varieties in minority too, but the grape variety here is 100 percent Semillon, said to suit the vineyard’s chalky soil.

This area of France is one of the few wine regions that naturally enables Sauternes to be made. It requires a naturally occurring fungus, Botrytis Cinerea, also known as Noble Rot, which makes the grapes partially raisined, concentrating the flavours in the grape.  Much of the Sautners area has river running through it, and low lying vineyards, where a mist can develop, this damp condition encourages the fungus to grow.

Due to the fact that production can be hit and miss, the price of these sweet delights is often high, and aged Sauternes are very sought after.

This particular wine develops a lovely nose of mandarin, orange marmalade, apple compote with a hint of saffron as well as some fresh hazelnut, honey and caramel.

The palate is rich but as a great balance and the very syrupy texture of its youth has decreased to bring more freshness to it in old age. Refined!

This is absolutely delectable with our Foie Gras dish or with our delicious Caramel dessert!

Spotlight on Festival Exhibitors: Two Cocks Brewery

In just under a week we welcome our sixth annual Wine Festival. It is back with a diference. We have invited esteemed friends from the drinks trade, including our brewery partner, Two Cocks Brewery. Here, we learn a little more about them.

Brewery

Phil and Michael started Two Cocks Brewery in 2011 and now produce award–winning ale in small batches using water drawn from the farm’s borehole.

Using this clear, fresh and sweet tasting water and some of the farm’s own hedgerow hops in every brew gives the beers a distinctive edge.

Hot on sustainability, the spent grain is used to feed the farm’s livestock and the spent hops are used to enrich the soil.

The Two Cocks name and hand-applied feather on every bottle label gives a nod to the brewery’s poultry farm roots and underlines the brewery’s desire to produce artisan beers with a known provenance. The beers have already won 17 major awards and gained a following of several Michelin-starred chefs.

The beers all have Civil War-inspired names in honour of the fact that the brewery is based on a Roundhead encampment of the 1643 battle of Newbury.

Icon Wine of the Week: Peter Michael Winery Pinot Noir

This week’s exceptional wine by the glass is our very own 2011 Peter Michael Winery, Clos du Ciel Pinot Noir. Recently award-winning, this is something we make ourselves and are very proud of. Our Sommelier team tell us more.

Peter Michael Winery

2010 showed to be an exceptional year for Sonoma’s Pinot Noir with both our Ma Danseuse and Clos du Ciel being awarded a prestigious 100 points by Robert Parker.

Sonoma, often said as being capable of competing with Burgundy’s finest, has proved to be producing some of the greatest California Pinot Noir. The wine Clos du Ciel is a tribute to this beautiful region and to the walled vineyards called “clos”.

This is no wallflower of a Pinot Noir: the soft palate offers a great panel of ripe dark cherry, dry flowers and slightly plummy with a hint of spices and a fantastic balance.

The power of this Pinot Noir will accompany our tender lamb course beautifully.

Icon Wine of the Week: 2004 Meursault

This month heralds our Wine Festival, and our Icon Wines this month are all diverse and superlative in their class. Cue 2004 Meursault: an undervalued gem.

Meursault

 

We are now paying tribute to one of the most talented producers in Burgundy: Anne Claude Leflaive. Domaine Leflaive was established in 1717 and is nowadays regarded as one of the finest estates in Burgundy.

This wine is a 2004 Premier Cru from a four-acre vineyard. 2004 is quite underrated but is actually a fantastic vintage for white wines, maybe even better than 2005!

With 12 months in barrel and a further six months in stainless steel, the wine has a creamy texture and develops notes of hazelnuts and roasted almonds as well as some baked apple and stone fruit notes. The rich palate is balanced by a chalky minerality giving a great freshness to the wine.

It is a great pairing to cod.

Icon Wine of the Week: 1999 Jasper Hill from Australia

Further afield this week to Australia, we visit Heathcote in Central Victoria to sample the 1999 Jasper Hill Shiraz Cabernet Franc blend.  Made by Emily’s Paddock, this is a delightfully hearty red with a lot to give. Our Sommelier team tell us more.

Australia

 

Heathcote is a lesser known area of Victoria, Australia. Nevertheless, some of the wines show a fantastic quality and potential.

 

This weekend’s Icon Wine is one of them.

 

Jasper Hill was bought in 1975 by Ron and Elva Laughton and produced their 1st vintage under the Jasper Hill in 1982. They are renowned to be one of the pioneers in this region.

 

The wine has a great complexity with tones of Maraschino cherry, plums and prunes as well as some sweet spices with a round and velvety palate.

 

Fantastic with our Beef dish or as an after dinner glass of wine.