La Maison du Chocolat always excels itself with imaginative ideas for Christmas and passing through Paris this weekend I had to stock up for the festive season. Sadly I wasn’t there at the right moment to try some of their tasting classes. There are several to choose from including cooking classes but the one that caught my eye was the ‘Instants Duo’ : On the 12th December and 13th & 23rd January you can join in at their flag ship store on rue François 1er for a tasting accompanied by rare teas and wines from the famous Taillevent restaurant cellars but book ahead on Tel : +33 147233825.
Never one to be left behind by innovation, Olivier Leflaive has introduced new closure for his Village appellations with the bottling of his 2007 vintage.
Created by the Italian company Ardea Seal the new Guala corks have a clever combination of polymers and a centre that not only allows the traditional slight porosity of a cork but will not destroy your corkscrew. Neatly branded Olivier Leflaive they are a fashionable and practical alternative to screw caps or the rather less attractive plastic corks.
Touring Burgundy with a private group organised by Arblaster & Clarke we had the pleasure of meeting Nadine Gublin who has been the wine maker at the Domaine Jacques Prieur in Mersault since 1990. Almost a first in this traditionally dominated male part of the industry.
In the stunning new underground tasting room overlooking the 2008’s and 2009’s ageing in their barrels, Nadine led a horizontal tasting of the excellent 2007’s, clearly illustrating how the complexity of the Burgundy terroir shows itself through their 26 different appellations spread over 20 ha in the Côte d’Or.
Charles Taylor MW at Domaine Jacques Prieur
Could it be the success of the recent Hospices de Beaune auctions that is putting a smile on the lips of David Rossignol at Domaine Rossignol-Trapet ?
Prices for the 2009 were expected to drop by 20% but in fact did the opposite – reinforcing the buzz around the quality of the new vintage in both Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Or could it be the legendary Burgundy hospitality as he shares a bottle of his 1971 1er Cru with us in their cellars beautiful underground cellars?
The little wooden huts of Bordeaux’s ‘Marché de Noël’ are being built before my eyes in front on the Wine School on the Allées de Tourny. From 27th November to 30th December you can start the festivities and do some Christmas shopping while sipping your ‘Vin Chaud’.
The vast majority of the vines in Bordeaux are grafted to protect them against Phyloxera, but here and there you will find a few plots of non grafted pre phyloxera vines.
Just such a spot is in Sauternes on the estate of Château Haut Bergeron . The estate has several unique qualities, one of which is the diversity of the terroir. Although under the same family ownership since the 18th century, the property has been built up since the 50’s by the purchase of various plots throughout the villages that make up the appellation. This diversity from the Barsac clay and limestone to the plateau of gravel in Sauternes – in the shadow of Château d’Yquem- explains the complexity of the classic Sauternes. In certain vintages however Hervé Lamothe will keep back the oldest plot of the vineyard with these non grafted vines that are over a century old and make just 580 bottles (2 barrels) that he ages in new oak for 36 months. Available exclusively at the cellar door each cuvée is named with the age of the vines rather than the vintage; hence in 2001 he produced the Cuvée 105.
Pronouncing difficult wine names can be a drawback to amateurs wanting to order a wine but being afraid to make a fool of themselves – especially in a foreign market.
Château names that are the easiest to say and the easiest to remember certainly have a competitive advantage. Château Lynch Bages has always enjoyed this – often affectionately known as ‘Lunch Bags’in Anglo-Saxon markets!
Not so for their second wine with the tongue twister name Haut Bages Averous – there is also little in the name to suggest any link to its famous big brother.
This is all changing with the soon to be released 2008 vintage when the second wine will henceforth be known as Echo de Lynch Bages. Altogether an easier mouthful.
Before Château Bottling became common place in Bordeaux in the 20th century, many owners would check the quality of their wines bottled by the negociants and guarantee their authenticity by sealing them with a wire sleeve. This practice faded out in Bordeaux after the Second World War and is now more common in Spain and for some spirits.
There is an exception; Château Lalaudey Cru Bourgeois of Moulis. The heavy bottle with its modern label is easily recognised by its wire packaging. It’s not a coincidence that the property was purchased by Patrick Meynard in 2007 who also owns the wire sleeving company Meynard & Fils based in Bordeaux, on the Quai des Chartrons, since 1880.
The Regent Grand Hotel in Bordeaux has just received two awards, the first for its décor and the second for its cuisine.
Food first : chef Pascal Nibaudeau has received 3 hats from Gault & Millau 2010 for the Pressoir d’Argent, their top restaurant, and despite what you might think it doesn’t cost a fortune to eat there. With the recent change in the VAT rate for restaurants the menu now starts at 34 instead of 39 Euros.
The Regent was also in the top 5 nominations for the ‘Prix Villégiature’ for the best Hotel Architecture – which as you can see from the photo is fabulous, especially when all lit up at night.
Move over Brussels, come to Leeds for fresh hand-made chocolates under the Lauden label, so fresh they only have a 10 day shelf life. Sun (from Singapore) and Stephen created the company in 2007. Their delicious fruity flavours : Lychee and Rose, Sour Cherry, Passion fruit, to name a few, are illustrated with elegant transfers designed by Sun. Fresh fruit pulp is made into a Ganache and covered in dark chocolate.
So is this the new chocolate and wine matching ? Lime and lemon with Sauvignon Blanc, Mediterrean Orange with Sauternes, Raspberry and Rose with Saint Emilion, Blackcurrant and red currant with Cabernet? Works for me !