Monthly Archives: May 2012

Get some closure

I’ve recently become a fan of Austrian Gruner Vetliner and I’m not the only one judging by more frequent sightings in wine merchants and on wine lists, perhaps it’s the relief of some lower alcohol wines. Opening this bottle of Steininger I was surprised to find this lovely glass stopper which only reinforced my affection. It’s nothing new I know, Chateau Latour has a few ancients bottles with glass stoppers in their wine library.


The method of ‘closure’ for bottles often creates a animated debate. At a recent tasting dinner I hosted in Bordeaux for the Weekend des Grands Crus organised in Bordeaux by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux I had an eclectic audience of French, American and Asian. One of the wines served was Chateau La Louviere Pessac Leognan white, one of my favorites from the Andre Lurton stable. That innovative septanogenierian decided a few years back to bottle some of his top whites and roses with a screw cap and there was a definite divide in the assistance as to whether this was considered a good thing. The Americans and Asian were in admiration of the innovation the French disliked it enormously – associating the screw cap with cheaper wines.
What would they think about the new trend for making boxed wines look great. Volere from Italy have created a range of 3 (red, white, and rose) boxed wines that look like handbags, smart enough to wear on your arm – trust those stylish Italians.

Closer to home English company Greenbottle , is doing what its name suggests and creating biodegradable bottles from cardboard with a thin plastic liner. It is it not just the disposal that is an advantage, weighing in at 55g compared to 400g for a conventional glass bottle the transport carbon footprint is also reduced.

Consumers love these bottles for their milk and fruit juice, now all we need is an innovative Bordelais to try them for wine – perhaps I should mention them to M. Lurton?

A fishy business

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside and when Bordeaux Blonde made the most of her trip to the Cornish coast to sample the local seafood, and there was no shortage of choice of venues

Padstow was the first stop, known to many as Padstein thanks to the dominance of Rick Stein in the town. Starting with his Fish and chip shop We worked our way to the pinnacle of the flagship Seafood Restaurant on the next day. As wonderful as the food was a special mention to the fantastic staff who literally went the extra mile for us – they know who they are ! It reflects so well on an establishment when the staff are so efficient, friendly and so very obviously happy in their work.
One of the ‘graduates’ from the school of Stein (amongst others including Roux and Bras) is James Nathan, winner of Masterchef in 2008 James has now an independent chef. He came to the lovely Bothy in Trevone to cater for us and showed that his skills were not limited to fish but happily encompassed a complete range of regional, seasonal and even wild Cornish fare.

20120521-115625.jpgJames Nathan explains Cornish Cuisine at The Bothy.

However not all the eateries are Steined in Padstow – the wonderful harbour front tea shop The Cherry Tree, offered a mouthwatering selections of home made cakes and desserts that were difficult to resist and after a 2 hour hike across the cliff top from Trevone I didn’t feel I had to!

20120521-115828.jpgJust desserts at the Cherry Tree after a cliff top walk.

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I sadly didn’t make it to the other side of Cornwall to another fish address on my bucket list; The Seahorse in Dartmouth the current HQ of fishmonger extraordinaire Mitch Tonks after leaving his Fishworks chain in 2007 but a close second I did manage to call into what was his original restaurant in Bristol now known as Rockfish. It remains a temple to fresh fish, simply and beautifully prepared, which was the whole ethos of his original vision inspired by Mitch’s background as a local fisherman. After a recent refurbishment the restaurant has a more modern look and a sneak preview of the new wine list showed several new Bordeaux listings – an added bonus for Bordeaux Blonde – red wine with fish anyone? Absolutely.

A one stop shop

There is no shortage of wine shops on the medieval streets of Saint Emilion, over 20 at the last count, many of which are owned or part owned by either producers or merchants.
A new one on the block is La Cave de Dourthe – and it ticks all boxes as wine makers, chateau owners and negociants. Dourthe dates back to the 1840’s and in 1987 as CVBG-Dourthe it was the No 1 wine company in Bordeaux. This gave rise to the creation of their famous brand Dourthe No 1 white in 1988 followed by the red in 1993, made in partnership with growers throughout the Bordeaux vineyards. A wine that still represents one of the most reliable and affordable Bordeaux brands.

Owners of Chateau Pey de la Tour in the Entre-Deux-Mers and Chateau La Garde in Pessac Leognan they also manage Chateau Belgrave classified growth of Haut Medoc, Chateau le Boscq Cru Bourgeois of Saint Estephe, Chateau Reysson Cru Bourgeois of Haut Medoc and since 2005, Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, Grand Cru of Saint Emilion. So they really get the complete Bordeaux picture.

Dourthe have always had a policy of hospitality at their various properties and have continued this with the opening of their boutique in the cellars of Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac on the road from Libourne to Saint Emilion. It is not only a terrific location with a car park on the doorstep for all those heavy cases, but also allows visitors to discover the cellars of the chateau and taste a range of Bordeaux wines from the company vineyards and the many other Bordeaux properties they stock, rather than just a single vineyard’s production – so the best of all worlds really.
In 2007 Dourthe joined the Alan Thienot Champagne group so you can end your tastings with a glass of palate cleansing Thienot champagne too. A one-stop shop!