Chilled to perfection…?

 June has seen scorching hot weather, some of the hottest days on record.  The last time the mercury edged this high was in the 1970’s and no fashionable summer dinner party was complete until someone had opened a bottle of one of Portugal’s most famous exports Mateus Rose to accompany their Parma ham and melon balls!  One of the things I love about wine is that just like food there is always a new taste to discover so let me introduce you to one I’ve discovered recently.

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Chilled red.  Yes I’ve discovered recently that there are many reds which are perfectly suited for chilling.  Lighter bodied reds such as Beaujolais, Barolos and even Pinot Noir can be delicious when served a few degrees lower than “celler temperature”.  Because of their low tannin content, they don’t see the negative impact that low temperatures can bring to heavier reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and many countries and cultures have a wine drinking tradition based around light, airy, bright and zippy red wines, served nicely chilled.

On a hot summer’s day, along with some charcuterie (maybe even Parma ham and melon balls) or similar, I can think of few things finer than a pleasantly cold (not fridge cold) glass of Pinot Noir.

Try these two from Berry Bros.

2015 Reuilly Rouge, Les Pierres Plates, Denis Jamain 14.95 Berry Bros
2013 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir Sandford & Benedict, Santa Ynez Valley 44.50 Berry Bros

And if you’re sipping your Pinot in the Caymen Islands 🇰🇾 this summer, tell ’em “the Grape Wizard” sent you because this beauty Furst Spatburgunder , Pinot Noir Kyd 44 is Fab. Jacque Scott

Traditionally, red wines are served between 62-68 oF (15-20oC) and whites  between 49-55 F (9-13 C). Try one of the reds at the white wine temperature.

Or try this : Pour a glass of red at room temperature.  Chill the rest of the half bottle and try a little.  Notice how temperature affects the experience and character of the wine. But as always what you like is more important to me than doing whats right or what’s fashionable.

While some wines, like Lambrusco and Beaujolais, are traditionally consumed chilled, experiment with Merlot, or a young Spanish Rioja or Chilean carmenere
You can’t guarantee fab results but it’s fun trying.  There are no rules!

So at your next Summer Soiree try sharing your experience

” Hmmmm  I don’t think this Cab Sav is ideally suited to be paired with lobster. “.

” I’d say this Chardonnay has a little too much oak to be paired with a Phaal “

Although these statements sound pretentious, just go with your instincts!  One day you’ll get it right!

Now back to chilled reds…..try some of these:

1. Lambrusco
Lambruscos are light-bodied sparkling wines made in NE Italy. Wine results when yeast eats grape juice; if a winemaker stops fermentation before the yeast has passed, there will be sugar left in the wine.

Some Lambruscos are therefore sweet (sugar left in the wine), some are medium-dry (small amount of sugar in the wine) and some are dry (little to no sugar left in the wine itself). You can try all three but for the purposes of this article I would just ask your nearest wine merchant for a dry Lambrusco and serve it chilled

Heres a recommendation for you  

Cavicchioli, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Vigna del Cristo, 2014  £12.29 Tannico

cavicchioli-vigna-del-cristo-lambrusco-di-sorbara-581738df5c2d4

 

2. Beaujolais

Beaujolais is the wine that comes from the Burgundy region of France. It’s made out of the Gamay grape, which produces some of the lightest-bodied reds out there. There is a relationship between how big a wine’s body is and how long it needs to be aged in bottle before release. It’s Gamay’s petit personality that enables some Beaujolais to be released as quickly as possible after a harvest as “Beaujolais Nouveau.”

Patrick Chodot Brouilly 75cl £9 Tesco by the case

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Even try your hand a Beaujolais Nouveau.  Louis Jadot Chateau des Jacques Morgon 2009, is complex and fruity, and lovely chilled.

3. Pinot Noir
Though some people first heard about it in the movie “Sideways”, Pinot Noir is one of the world’s most revered wine grapes. It’s the basis of the red wines of Burgundy — one of France’s most iconic regions — and it’s planted lots of other places, including New Zealand, California, and Oregon. It’s lighter bodied and produces famously complex and delicious wines.

2013 BOURGOGNE Pinot Noir Domaine François Raquillet £17.75 Lea & Sandeman2013-BOURGOGNE-Pinot-Noir-Domaine-Francois-Raquillet.240x700.17515

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Cristom Vineyards Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir £32.50 Honest Grapes

One of the problems with Pinot Noir wines is they’re labor-intensive to produce and therefore it’s hard to get good ones on the cheap.

4. Barbera d’Asti
Also in NE Italy, the Barbera D’Asti region relies upon the Barbera grape, which is the third-most planted grape in Italy. Barbera D’Asti wines have relatively high acid, aren’t tremendously complicated and aren’t usually aged for a long time, which is all good news for chilled drinking.

Araldica Barbera D’asti Superiore £8.99shopping-1

Araldica Barbera D’Asti Superiore, Italian, Red Wine £8.99 Waitrose

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Barbera d’Asti Superiore Trinchero DOCG Organic £17.90  Vorrei

5. Zinfandel
Zinfandel is arguably the flagship red grape of California — for a long time, in fact, people even thought it was native there. (Since genetic testing came about, it’s been discovered it’s the same as a red grape from Italy called Primitivo.) The biggest bodied of the wines on this list by a long shot, Zinfandels are not often consumed cold, but they can be.

As with the Pinot Noirs, you can break the bank with Zinfandel — but there’s no need to for these purposes. You want something inexpensive, bright, and jammy. Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is a great place to source from.

So chill out and try something new!

So for those of you sipping your chilled red in the Caymen Islands or even the rest of us on our sun lounger in the back garden, remember wherever you are, you are in a pretty place indeed. Its summer, sit back, enjoy the sunshine and suck (or sip) the marrow out of life!

Enjoy this moment. It is a moment of reflection and relaxation.

And as such you need some music. So here it is this weeks music pairing

Pair wine with.

Unknown-4Ben Howard.

 

En- Primeur 2016 : Leoville barton -the one to watch with unbeatable value !

This year , as happens every year, in the wine market the release of the en-primeur wines is upon us. The importance of price relies on the quality of the vintage . The best years of Bordeaux carry the greater demand and the years that are regarded as the worst are usually cheaper.  These best years are often called “the stellar years” – 1982, 1990, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and now possibly 2016.

 Get the right producer for the right price and you could invest into a good return (Wine investment)

So what is a good investment in this years 2016 release

Having looked quite closely at the recent release there were prices that had jumped up (markets view on Prices) Indeed these producers have their prices listed below :

Chateau                 Release Price             Current Price (GBP)         % Change
Haut Brion                 £4,150                            £4,550                              9.64%
Lafite                          £4,390                             £5,000                             13.90%
Marguax                    £4,400                             £6,050                              37.50%
Mouton                      £4,150                             £4,600                              10.84%
Las Cases                   £1,450                             £1,590                               9.66%
Angelus                      £2,650                            £2,950                                11.32%
Palmer                        £2,160                            £2,400                               11.11%

So which Chateau is good value – one producer that stands out is

Leoville-Barton

this years release price is  £372 En Primeur for a ½ case of 6 must be a steal !

To explain En Primeur in Grapewizard speakeasy is simple !

  • Wines are bought before they are bottled and released onto the market.
  • Wines are void of Duty and VAT and then usually shipped 2-3 years after the vintage. 
  • Wines are bought at In Bond prices – No Duty or VAT paid 
  • On arrival in the UK the wines will be stored, under bond until they are bought and then tax is paid

The main advantage with this is that the prices are always considerably cheaper than the future price of the wine on the open market.

How much is Wine Duty?
£2.16 per 75cl bottle of still wine.
UK VAT = 20% (applied after duty)

So add En Primeur price + £2.16 per bottle(Duty) and 20%vat  increase = cost of bought wine

Wine is a great investment and has been outstripping gold and silver in recent years and is often seen as an alternative to investing in Art

NOW the fun bit !!! 

LEOVILLE BARTON is situated in one of Bordeaux’s favoured regions . That of St Julien

bordeaux_map
St Julien is the smallest of the ‘Big Four’ Médoc communes, it is recognised as one of the most consistent of the main regions .  At their very finest they combine Margaux’s elegance and refinement with Pauillac’s power and substance.

Léoville Barton one of three estates in the Léoville estate and has been owned by the Barton family since 1826. There is no château and the wine is made at Langoa Barton. Léoville Barton’s 48 hectares of vineyards are located in the east of the St-Julien wine appellation and lie on gravelly-clay soils. They are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon 72%, Merlot 20%, Cabernet Franc 8%. The wine is matured in oak barrels  (50% new) for 18 months.

Since Anthony Barton (8th Generation) took over the reins quality has soared at Léoville Barton and the wine has gone from being a solid mid-league performing 2ème Cru Classé to one of the most exciting wines in St. Julien.

  • Léoville Barton is tannic and austere in youth but with time turns into a cedary character that is the hallmark of St. Julien, along with intensely pure blackcurrant and cassis fruit notes.

Léoville Barton’s wines are made for cellaring show at their best with 10-15 years of bottle ageing.

Anthony Barton was born in 1930 . He stood in line to inherit very little of the wine estate. His elder brother Christopher was the heir to other estates whilst the Bordeaux domaines belonged to his uncle Ronald who was expected to marry and have his own children who would subsequently inherit his estates. However Ronald was old by the time he married and had no children, thus Anthony who became heir.

 He moved to Bordeaux in 1951.  and such was the harvest that year that Anthony’s  Uncle Ronald told him, ”Another harvest like this and I will have to sell”.

 Since 1986, Anthony has lived in the Médoc château with his wife Eva.

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Other notable family members to the estate include

  • Lilian Barton Sartorius (9th Gen.) and Anthony’s daughter
    Studied in England and at the age of 22 Lilian joined her father at his merchant company and obtained the DUAD wine tasting diploma at the University of Bordeaux.

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For over 30 years they have divided their responsibilities between the Saint Julien vineyards and the merchant business ‘Les Vins Fins Anthony Barton’, where they were joined by Lilian’s husband, Michel Sartorius. Lilian Barton has now taken over from her father in running the wine properties and family merchant company. She has since been joined by her two children, Mélanie and Damien.

  • Mélanie Barton Sartorius,

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the family’s 1st Oenologist, took on the role of Technical Director in 2013 at Chateau Mauvesin Barton in Moulis (Médoc), a domaine that was purchased by the family in 2011.

  • Damien Barton Sartorius

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divides his time between the family’s properties and other wine related projects.

THE VINTAGE 2016

1st Wine           Chateau Leoville Barton

2nd Wine          La Reserve de Leoville Barton  

As with most Bordeaux producers every winemaker showcases their fines wines as the chateaux’s jewel.  Wines that are made to be accessible to the greater public at a lesser cost and intended to be a snapshot of what is about to come are often referred to as “second wines”  These are in no way inferior and allow consumers to purchase wines from high or low rated producers.

BLENDING
83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc

ALCOHOL13.5°

DATES OF MANUAL HARVEST – 25th september to 8th october

NEW BARRELS 60%
TASTING
A stream of cherries, raspberries and grapefruit… Opulent and rich but with a glamour and class side, wrapped in a lace dress, extremely fine.

Wine cellar Insider commented on the 2016 Leoville Barton – “A nose of blackberry, licorice, earth and smoky tobacco is easy to notice. Darkly colored, Full bodied, rich, fresh, long and sweet, there is a reflection coming off the ample tannins and lift that accentuates the densely textured, fruit-filled finish. This wine leaves a great impression. Produced from blending 86% Cabernet Sauvignon and 14% Merlot, the wine reached 13% alcohol. The harvest took place September 29 to October 13. 94 – 96 Pts

 Fine + Rare commented “A consistent appellation from a quality perspective that offers masses of variety in terms of style. St Julien also appears to have produced some outstanding wines. Trademark elegance is abundant, combined robust but silky tannins, these were a pleasure to taste. Critics have already singled out Ducru-Beaucaillou and Léoville Las Cases for enormous praise. Although dependent on final pricing, Talbot and Clos du Marquis may well offer excellent value. Although only a handful of critics have released their scores, tasting notes from St Julien are peppered with “best ever” and comparisons to 2009, 2010 and 2015”

This wine is sure to last at least till 2040

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So although a brief snap shot of the producer is outlined above there is an awful lot of choice for consumers to purchase and drink. Each region has its own characteristic and St Julien is no different. One omission in this blog is the price of Leoville-Barton’s 1st wine was approx £1500 per case (early 80’s) and yet today it is £374 for six. This can only surely be down to the producer being out of favour with drinkers. This producer is a favoured producer of Bordeaux and the quality is never in question. Maybe market demand is fickle and could be cyclical. What was once popular may once again be so. Tastes change and at the moment  Leoville-Barton is a serious inclusion to any investment

Its just a shame i have to wait a pesky 10-15 years to try it at its best

 

 

 

music Pairing :           images-1

Enjoy with “time-out” peace of mind and a leather club chair !

 

World Gin week- delayed because I’m on holiday drinking Amalfi Gin & Tonic in Italia !

I could make this as dry as gin itself but I’ll try and compact 300 years into a blog post and make it easy to read !!!

A few points of history  (The geeky bit )

  • A Dutch physician Franciscus Sylvius

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(Here he is ! 😜)

…is often falsely credited with the invention of gin around 1650.  Here is why:

  • The first ever literary reference to jenever  ( original term for gin)  was in a play “The Duke of Milan” (1623), when Sylvius would have been nine!
  • English soldiers in 1585 were already drinking jenever for its calming effects before battle, from which “Dutch Courage” is believed to have originated.
  • The earliest known reference to jenever appears in the 13th century encyclopaedic work Der Naturen Bloeme (Bruges),
  • And the earliest printed recipe for jenever dating from 16th century work Een Constelijck Distileerboec (Antwerp).

Gin emerged in England in varying forms as of the early 17th century, When William of Orange,

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(these guys don’t do anything for the Alpha Males!!)

Ruler of the Dutch Republic, occupied the British throne with his wife Mary – gin became vastly more popular, particularly in it’s crude, inferior forms, where it was more likely to be flavoured with turpentine as an alternative to juniper.

The formation by King Charles I of the Worshipful Company of Distillers (WCD), where members had the sole right to distil spirits in London and Westminster and up to twenty-one miles beyond improved both the quality of gin and its image; it also helped English agriculture by using surplus corn and barley. Anyone could now distil by simply posting a notice in public and just waiting ten days (if only it were so simple nowadays!).  Sometimes gin was distributed to workers as part of their wages and soon the volume sold daily exceeded that of beer and ale, which was more expensive anyway.

In 1729, an excise licence of £20 was introduced and two shillings per gallon duty was levied. In addition to which, retailers now required a licence. This almost suppressed good gin but it was the quantity consumed of bad spirits which continued to rise.😪

In 1730 London had over 7,000 shops that sold only spirits.

William Hogarth in his ‘Gin Lane’, an engraving depicting gin drinking at the time portrays a scene of idleness, vice and misery, leading to madness and death. Typical of the time and showcases how bad it must of been!

See below

Gin-lane ART 2

The Gin Riots

The problem was tackled by introducing The Gin Act in 1736, which made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy retail being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act since they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out. About this time, 11 million gallons of gin were distilled in London, which was over 20 times the 1690 figure and has been estimated to be the equivalent of 14 gallons for each adult male. But within six years of the Gin Act being introduced, only two distillers took out licences, yet, over the same period of time, production rose by almost fifty per cent.

The Gin Act, finally recognised as unenforceable, was repealed in 1742 and a new policy, which distillers helped to draft was introduced: reasonably high prices, reasonable excise duties and licensed retailers under the supervision of magistrates.  Still applicable today.

These changes led to more respectable firms embarking on the business of distilling and retailing gin and it became the drink of high quality, which it has since remained.

Gin had been known as ‘Mother’s Milk’ from the 1820s but later in the century it became known as ‘Mother’s Ruin’, a description perhaps originating from the earlier ‘Blue Ruin’ of the prohibition era in the previous century.

As reforms took effect, so the gin production process became more refined. Gin evolved to become a delicate balance of  elegance and began its ascent into high society.

Ok you get the picture…

Jump forward to 2009 and HMRC receives applications for not one, but two microdistilleries in London: Sipsmith in Hammersmith, and Sacred in Highgate. There was a problem, however. HMRC didn’t know how to deal with them.  Licences had not been issued in such a long time that the process was somewhat outdated

 

After much to-ing and fro-ing, the licences were dispatched, and the two craft distilleries were in business.

 

Sipsmith Website                                 Sacred Gin Website

Ian Hart of Sacred – who cold distills his gins, vodka and vermouths using his laboratory set up in his living room – remembers how difficult it was in the early days. ‘Back in 2009 when we and Sipsmith started, people had only really heard about Gordon’s, Beefeater, Tanqueray… the idea that there was a two-man band operating out of their house was very unusual, and it was a real uphill struggle to start with. But it’s a lot easier now, because there’s a lot more enthusiasm for new artisan gins.’

The UK has come a long way since 2009 – HMRC are now prepared and willing to work with new craft distillers to help get them set up with the required licences, and this step change has had a positive effect.

‘There was a wave of craft distillers starting up in America, and that really inspired what happened in the UK – the first wave was Chase [in Herefordshire], Sipsmith and Sacred,’ says Jamie Baxter, master distiller at COLD, who used to be the distiller at Chase. ‘We’re part of the second wave that’s coming through at the moment, and the third wave is just about to start.’

 

 

VESPER MARTINI

 

Now onto drinking the stuff.  One of the best ways to appreciate its unique characteristics is in a classic Martini.  My favourite is The Vesper which according to Ian Fleming Is 007’s cocktail of choice, shaken not stirred naturally:

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
-Casino Royale, Chapter 7

 

Gin-lane ART 5

GIN 50 cl and Tonic 1 measure of gin and three of tonic 150cl

and because I am writing this from Italy here is the Italian way of drinking it:

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NEGRONI

1 oz. dry gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. vermouth rosso
cocktail glass

So what ever you do this week  what ever gin you choose  just enjoy yourself and dont let anyone tell you there are set rules for what gin goes.  Of course enjoy the classics but there are so many to choose from nowadays, all with their own aromatic and distinctive character. It would be a shame to stop at Gordon’s, Tanqueray or even Sipsmith.  It may not turn out to be your forever favourite but it just might be! That’s the fun of discovering something new.  I for one am on the hunt this week for a local Apuglian gin – I might find a blinder or I might not but the enjoying the experience is what counts!

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Please send me photos of you gin pick today to thegrapewizard@gmail.com  Salute!!

See these fab links for more stuff

World Gin Awards 2017

Best London Gin Bars

Best Gins in NYC

Famous Gin moments in the movies,tv and books

Tiger Gin – Big brave and ready to take on the world – and that’s only JJ Lawrence

tiger 1

If ever there was David and Goliath moment . This was it!  An event of a global super brand taking on a minnow And loosing ! (High court battle against Heineken) 😀

Tiger Gin had a problem on its hands and Heineken though it could squash the annoying little bug 🐜 and protect their brand. Heineken had argued that “tiger gin” and “tiger 🐯 beer ” were  too closely linked and that one would damage the image of the other.  The judges in the court case overthrew Heineken’s objections and the end result was that Tiger Gin got its name and I get to try this product to see what all the fuss is about.

JJ Lawrence (owner of Tiger Gin) followed his passion and produced a new class of luxury British Spirit using only the finest botanicals and spices, carefully chosen from the best harvests from around the world.

A formula that gives the taste a smooth and sweet feel.

Distilled and bottled in the UK.

It was named TIGER GIN  due to the long drawn out fight with JJ and the courageous actions for the little guy to take on a global company.

tiger 41/6/17 Setting up the fabulous Gin !

Having won a legal battle in the High Court, this Shropshire gin is the ‘baby’ of a Shropshire lad – JJ Lawrence. It is crafted in England by artisan master distillers using traditional methods, and proudly presented in a unique bottle with great care and affection. Working alongside a local distiller they have created a unique, complex formula. which results in a great tasting, smooth, sweet gin.

Below (if you’ve never seen them are the ingredients for TG.)

Image result for angelica root

 

 Angelica root

cassia bark

 Image result for cinnamon bark

cinnamon bark

 Image result for ground nutmeg

 
ground nutmeg

Image result for lemon peel

lemon peel

liquorice root


 Image result for orange peel

orange peel

orris root

The taste test.

Aroma : Strong Juniper and a zesty lemon drizzle cake citrus

To taste, Strong juniper and liquorice fill the mouth – slightly sweet. Coriander seed, cinnamon and cassia bring a waxy lemon finish.

Tiger is classically styled gin to taste as the gin slides down the throat easily . Rich juniper enhances the classic G&T taste and in terms of a cocktail. In terms of a cocktail, the liquid makes for a lovely, traditional Martini.

Image result for traditional martini

 

One thing that is mysterious is …. who is JJ Lawrence. A quick search of the internet shows little evidence of the man/ or woman behind this fabulous product.  Maybe that the way it’s supposed to happen ,  maybe the brand speaks louder than the people behind it.

Any info on the man the myth is greatly appreciated .

Music Pairing :  Ludivico Einaudi  – Elements

Image result for einaudi elements
So to sum up upon tasting the gin i was very surprised at how much a couple of slices of oranges made to the drink . very much a big citrus punch juniper came through like a steamroller but all ingredients are symbiotic and harmonize the overall character of the product. A must have addition in any cocktail cabinet