Though rain is forecast I do at least feel like Summer is finally en route. As such, two classic Summer reds, though truly at either end of the spectrum:
Kaesler Vineyards “The Bogan” 2004 Barossa Valley, South Australia at £ 35.00 per Bottle
Here is the epitome of the perfect BBQ wine. Rich, ripe, intense berry fruit in this ballsy Barossa Shiraz. It has lost its fiery belly as the bottle-age has made this chewy offering age gracefully and mellow just a touch.
Not just the 10+ years bottle-age but 2004 is one of Southern Australia’s finest vintages. A bogan is derogatory Australasian slang for someone of uncouth appearance and or behaviour. So if you have any visiting Bruce & Sheila’s, an amusing little nod at least.
For those party minded, there is just one Double Magnum left at a comparatively modest £ 149.00. (92-95 points – Robert Parker)
Next up and one I thought we had long lost. One of my absolute favourite red Burgundy Vintages is 2010. More fruit-driven, purer examples surround but to me 2010 gives the clearest nod to the terroir variations of this temperamental but brilliant corner of France. When we last had this it was £ 33.50 on the shelf so a pound and a half up is not nothing but 2010 will continue, rapidly, to grow scarcer and we know what happens to prices when it does:
Nuits St-Georges “Les Lavières” 2010 Domaine Jean Chauvenet at £ 35.00 per Bottle
The opposite of The Bogan in that this is a pale, see-through, delicate Pinot Noir. A hint of Nuits St-Georges rusticity (character) but perhaps more like a Chambolle-Musigny without their touch of sweetness.
The alcohol level is the typical 13% but it doesn’t feel like it. This will acquit almost equally with a bloody steak as with fish. Classic cool-climate Pinot.
We had approximately 35 cases last year and they did not last long. Now we have a mere 72 Bottles, so don’t dilly-dally.
Both on the shelf.
Weekly wine news:
In just this very morning: Méo-Camuzet 2010; Barbaresco 2010; St-Émilion 1er Cru 1990; Magnums of 2010 red Burgundy…
Urbina 2001 is out-of-stock but we are shipping 480 Bottles directly from the Bodegas and would hope that these arrive late May, or by early June. On the shelf it will go up £1.00 but for any who had at £ 18.50 (and can remember!) we will still peddle this to you at the same modest £ 18.50.
Next week: having tasted a bevy of mostly overpriced Californian red and whites at the start of the week, a couple did stand out for that rare Californian combo, quality and price. As such I’ll lead next week with an elegant Chardonnay from Schug Sonoma Chardonnay which will replace our slightly more obvious Ramey Russian River as double-whammy, the prices have gone up 15%. The Schug will be a better fit.
With the outstanding 2014 White Burgundies just beginning to grow thin on the ground, it is imperative to seek out what you can, be that for drinking now or cellaring. Now the more widely available but much hyped 2015’s have merit indeed but in my little book, not to the uniform degree and classic heights that 2014 seems to possess. Last week we sold our last case of 2014 Jean-Noël Gagnard Chassagne-Montrachet. So here is a direct missing link to that:
Santenay “Les Hâtes” 2014 Domaine René Lequin-Colin at £ 25.00 per Bottle
I first tried this a fortnight back and blind thought it was a Chassagne-Montrachet. Mouth-puckering savoury, saline, grassy notes yet still a Chardonnay core.
The relative poor cousin to Meursault (power and opulence) and Puligny-Montrachet (refined and elegant) but Chassagne-Montrachet, albeit rustic in comparison, gives bags of flavour. Glassy, chewy, it holds your attention.
A half-decent Chassagne costs £ 36-44 so a young pretender at £ 25 is a real deal. In stock tomorrow.
“Chill Bill”. Huntsworth has just bought two new wine fridges and to make it easier for you we have a designated “In The Fridge” Page on our website! When the Celsius rises, you can check beforehand which wines we will have perfectly chilled. Any pre-orders for other wines can be put in our third fridge downstairs, given a modicum of notice.
As the BBQ season still looks to evade us I will bide my time ‘til next week. But then we will have both Bottles and Double Magnums of a legendary Barossa Valley Shiraz, from the fabled 2004 Vintage. High Parker score, perfectly aged and a sensible £ 35.00 for such a quality showing. Plenty at £ 15-20 for BBQ offerings if £ 35 is too lofty for your visiting hordes.
Again, miserable weather aside, we are anticipating the arrival, this very morning of our lead Provence Rosé,Château Des Chaberts “Cuvée Prestige”, in both Bottles and Magnums. Price unchanged from last year.
Busy week with four new offerings:
Perhaps another instance of marketing over sales but I am still remain not fully convinced by Guidalberto(Bolgheri, Tuscany). Nonetheless, as some of you insist on the likes of Château Miraval, Cloudy Bay etc., we do also have requests for Guidalberto, 24 bottles already delivered to Sheffield Terrace this morning, so I thought I’d at least let you know that this second wine of the absolute cult “Super Tuscan” classic, Sassicaia has arrived on our shop floor today. £ 28.50 on the shelf for the new 2015 Vintage.
Any Wine Merchant who says they can do everything is lying. Thus realistically we will have gaps. Gaps in Sherry; Vodka; regional Italian; some New World; and if truth be told, white wines in general. We have nearly three times the number of reds on our shelves. With summer en route I am determined to beef-up our range of whites, though they will have to hit the same high standards and criteria so expect a trickle not a flood. I have many Italians lined-up to taste over the next fortnight. And next week we’ll have a mid £ 20’s Burgundy (Santenay) that is a true match for mid £ 30’s Chassagne-Montrachet but for this week, our at times overlooked whites from the Loire. This region is not as enticing as Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône but do not switch off, these are good:
Anjou “Les Bergères” 2014 Famille Fournier-Longchamps at £ 17.00 per Bottle
Too many Loire whites are to me somewhat wishy-washy and that is why we have a fraction of the range compared with Burgundy. Here is a charming and understated Chenin-Blanc. Due in next week.
Pouilly-Fumé “Seduction” 2015 André Dezat at £ 23.50 per Bottle
We already stock the sappy and engaging Sancerre Rouge by Dezat but this is a serious step up. Fabulously enticing nose, rich, minerally but a gentle finish and no overt Sauvignon grassy overtones here. Terrific. In stock tomorrow.
Vouvray Petillant by Domaine Vigneau-Chevreux at £ 17.00 per Bottle
This was a real surprise for me. I don’t often venture out of Champagne when it comes to bubbles. And any of you who find Prosecco just too peachy, too much nail varnish like, this is another delight.
Petillant meaning it is a fraction of the bubbles of say a Veuve Clicquot but the clincher to me was the fabulous salinity in this Vouvray. An added bonus is that this is bio-dynamic
So when it is warm enough to dip your toes in the pool but like me you have a (natural) resistance to Prosecco or Cava, do try this. In stock tomorrow.
Easy come, easy go. We have stocked Ridge Vineyards for many years and strived to show them in their best light which we consider to be, with a touch of bottle-age. Sadly a change of policy means that these wines are only available to Independent Merchants “En Primeur” and ageing stock will only go to restaurants. Upon release, I think these wines are just way to bruising to put on the shelf. Not quite as bad as when Krug and Dom Pérignon Magnums are held back only for nightclubs and not for discerning private customers like you but not exactly putting best foot forward either. Other favourites will also fall by the wayside. When we gun for mainstays like the Brande-Bergère 2010 which we loosely describe as “a £16 wine that drinks like £20”, then a few Centimes rise can I feel be justified. But if a wine jumps by 10% and the ensuing Vintage is simply not as good then time to say au revoir. Au revoir therefore to Swan’s Russian River Pinot Noir as I just don’t see the 2013 as being worth £ 35 or so. I’ll be sampling many more non-Burgundy Pinots in the next month or two. Fingers crossed.
We still have the classic 2004 Vintage La Rioja Alta “904” at £ 36.00. Having spotted the just released 2007 Vintage at £ 44.00 at Oddbins last night and though we’d be about 10% below that price, I am still mulling over whether we should pile in with the same vigour as the 1995 & 2001 & 2004 Vintages. Judgement deferred.
Not unlike the La Rioja Alta is another wonderfully old-fashioned, backward, characterful, Pinot Noir brittle like Barbaresco 2013 from Produttori di Barbaresco. If you want textbook Nebbiolo and or Piedmont, this is it. A few cases arrived today. A couple of years back we had the 2010 Vintage at £ 27.00 and though this will go on the shelf at £ 29.50 later today, with a firm nod to that historic price we will do that at £ 27.50 for any weekly e-mail readers.
“Gentleman’s Claret” – traditionally this meant keeping a recognised Bordeaux for a benchmark twelve years before daring to touch. Well, bang on, this Friday we will have a fair smattering of 2005 Grand Cru Classé and top Cru Bourgeois, from Margaux, St-Julie, St-Estèphe, St-Émilion; Lalande-de-Pomerol; Haut-Médoc. From low £ 20’s to low £ 200’s. Currently out but another dozen cases of Château Brande-Bergère “Cuvée O’Byrne” 2010 back on the shop floor Friday.
When the Motorway ahead is clear and straight the temptation is to put it into top gear and floor it. Sometimes however it is perhaps wiser to drop down into third gear and pace oneself. Last week after winemaker dinners; birthday dinners; and customer wine tastings it was all a bit full-throttle. Like 2015 Burgundy, rich, ripe but at times a bit too full-throttle. As such I am taking a leaf out of that well-worn book and dropping down a gear to consider the pick of Mark Haisma’s 2013 and 2014. For those remotely concerned with global warming and just one side effect, higher alcohol levels, today’s offerings are both at a more sensible 13% abv. This coincidentally reminds me that I need to delve back into Thomas L.Friedman’s “Thank You For Being Late”.
For a big burly Aussie, Mark Haisma has always managed a very deft touch when he makes Pinot Noir. In no sense are they “colour by numbers”. If you want more old school, cooler, fresher Pinot these are certainly worth a look and not just for those Mark Haisma aficionados. He makes a handful of wines but these were my (and his) two picks for the respective vintages (and £1.00 each less than on the shelf):
Volnay “Les Grands Poisots” 2014 Mark Haisma at £ 35.00 per Bottle
Gevrey-Chambertin “Croix Des Champs” 2013 Mark Haisma at £ 36.00 per Bottle
(The Gevrey is already in stock; the Volnay due to follow tomorrow.)
Aged Australian: in any day now, some 2005 & 2006 Barossa Shiraz from a couple of legendary names just about to hit the floor. Speaking of legends, Dave Powell (formerly of Torbreck fame) came in obscenely early on Monday morning and I tried a range of his Powell & Son wines, mostly G.S.M., and a couple of relative successes will also follow in due course.
Château Beauchene, Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2016 has arrived after the speedy success of the 2015 Vintage.Fleurie (Villa Ponciago) also back on the shelf.
For those that do follow Instagram, we are on Huntsworth_wine and typically that is where you can first see my current picks and successes.
After listing a whopping 28 wines last week it was no surprise that I had one “please unsubscribe me”. Thus short & sweet this week.
With American Thanksgiving looming (though in about a week’s time the notion of Thanksgiving might change somewhat) I will e-mail American customers with some “fly the flag” options including Kistler Vineyards; Arnot Roberts; Ridge Vineyards; Peter Michael…
Aside of some, seasonal, 2001 Sauternes (bottles & halves), super traditional Rioja 2004; top Californian Chardonnay; more 2003 & 2005 Bordeaux all in this week it is worth reiterating that I have rarely bought with such gusto as these last couple of months so if you can drop by to see the new kids on the block, please do. And to further reiterate just how good the 2015 Brouilly; Sancerre rouge; & Piedmont Nebbiolo (£ 15 to £ 18.50) all are.
Food glorious food this week. Okay, so my bias is towards the vino fino but how many London restaurants would I not want to take my own wine to, Noble Rot, Andrew Edmunds…? That’s a pretty short list. A wee new development for that bastion of tradition and character in the not so seedy backwaters of Soho is the wine trades’ perennial favourite, Andrew Edmunds. Their literary luvvies clearly decamp each weekend and that means the upstairs Club is now open for the weekend. For circa 20-25 people this can now be booked privately, weekends only.
We are a little pushed for wine dinners between now and Christmas so will look to have three in 2017’s first quarter. The first of which will be Wednesday, 18th January at Holland Park’s “Flat Three”. Aside of a planned seven course menu (£ 69.00) we will line-up a Riesling & Pomerol extravaganza. They are incredibly kindly not charging corkage so not to be missed and again I will individually e-mail the usual suspects for our wine dinners. One of the overwhelmingly successful curiosities of our last wine dinner here were genuine (dead) wood ants. And at £ 600 per kilo, no mere frivolity either. This should satiate both the adventurous and the classicists. Again, wine dinners can be booked, privately and individually, just like at Sally Clarke’s so if emboldened, just ask and we will strive to fit.
Lastly Aladino’s on the bend down the hill. I went t’other night and only two other tables were taken. A great shame because the food (or the starters at least – I had three) were all excellent. They have a small corkage charge and kindly even waived it for us. Their effort was commendable, beautifully decanted, great wine glasses. Shame for them in that they really deserve and need to be fuller.
A few days after the U.K. Referendum an Irish drinking buddy from The Churchill Arms opposite said “you’ll be sorry when all those bankers disappear!”. It is not as if I hadn’t given a thought but it did make me draw up a list our top thirty customers and see what their demographic of plying of trade led to. Interesting. An arty bunch you mostly are! Anyway, using that same marker I have taken our top-selling, most appealing, recommended etc., thirty or so wines and am giving you as good a guide as I can as to what has or soon will be raised due to a stronger Euro versus the Pound. Given that I am told, some Merchants, have simply put all their prices up across the board by 10%, I thought this weekly is especially pertinent for Huntsworth to show its colours. I am pleased to say that the damage thus far is limited and by buying forward (more than we have ever done) look to mitigate for as long as possible. As of today, only two wines out of 28 below have been increased thus far.
Eusebia 2014 Felines Jourdan, Languedoc – from £ 8.50, now £ 8.95 (but still eminently worth it)
Réserve de Gassac Blanc 2015 Languedoc at £ 10.00 (up 3% to us but price unchanged)
Château Beauchene 2015 Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc at £ 12.50 (hope to maintain)
St-Véran 2014 Cave de Prissé at £ 13.00 (hope to maintain)
Gewürztraminer 2014 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht at £ 16.50 (unchanged ‘til Christmas then up 5%)
Jean Daneel Chenin Blanc 2014 South Africa at £ 17.00 (with 52 cases still in our Bond we can maintain this into next year and this price is already lower than the last 2-3 years)
Kumeu River Chardonnay 2013 New Zealand at £ 19.00 (with a little effort from the Estate we anticipate no increase through Christmas at least)
Sancerre 2014-2015 Comtes Lafond at £ 22.50 (an increase to us but we have just bought 252 bottles of the 2015 so will maintain for a while yet)
Pouilly-Vinzelles “La Soufrandière” 2014 Bret Brothers at £ 23.50 (circa 15 cases and will maintain ‘til exhausted)
Côtes-du-Rhône 2012 É.Guigal at £ 9.50 (an opening offer and currently lowest market price as far as we can see)
Château Brande-Bergère “Cuvée O’Byrne” 2010 at £ 16.00 (with some forward currency for the 200 cases still reserved for us ex Château we will maintain this price well into next year and very likely until exhausted)
Bourgogne Rouge “Vieilli en Fût Chêne” 2014 Nicolas Potel at £ 16.00 (just shipping some more and will maintain price)
Sancerre Rouge 2015 André Dezat, Loire at £ 16.50 (to remain unchanged for foreseeable future)
Blaufränkisch 2013 Moric, Austria at £ 17.50 (fractional rise but we’ll maintain historic price)
Urbina Reserva Especial 2001 Rioja at £ 18.50 (37 cases in Bond so price unchanged until exhausted)
Urbina Gran Reserva 1994 Rioja (after two years unchanged) rising from £ 26.00 to £ 27.00
Chianti Classico 2012 Fontodi at £ 19.50 (56 bottles left only, unchanged ‘til exhausted)
Turpino 2010 Querciabella, Tuscany at £ 23.50 (stunning price already and looking to secure a further 144 bottles to maintain that)
Château La Tour de By 2005 Médoc at £ 23.50 (from our ex Château shipment, just a 3-4 cases remain)
Le Cupole 2012 Tuscany at £ 28.00 (circa 50 bottles remaining, unchanged ‘til exhausted)
Palladian Cabernet-Sauvignon 2006 Napa Valley at £ 32.00 (20 cases in our Bond so until exhausted)
Vigno Zamo 2007 Friuli at £ 33.50 (last 18 bottles arrive tomorrow before reviewing the 2008 vintage)
La Rioja Alta “904” Gran Reserva at £ 35.00 (circa 90 bottles remaining, unchanged ‘til exhausted)
Castello di Bolgheri 2011 Tuscany at £ 44.00 (we have 80 bottles remaining and then Pavarotti has emphatically sung!)
Admittedly this will be our toughest area in potential and indeed certain price rises. We will do what we can but some Champagne Houses are working with us.
R.& H.Lamotte Premier Cru & 2006 Vintage at £ 24.50 & 26.00 (200-250 bottles of each, then afterwards, not sure…)
Pierre Gimmonet 2009 at £ 37.00 (a mere 24 bottles, then maybe £ 39.00)
De Venoge Blanc-de-Noirs at £ 42.00 (just taken 72 bottles in today and delighted to say that De Venoge are working with us to maintain current pricing)
Jacquart Le Mesnil Blanc-de-Blancs at £ 47.00 (delighted to say that Jacquart are working with us to maintain current pricing)
So many fabulous things in this week (1982 Bas Armagnac; Double Magnums 2000 & 2005 Bordeaux; 2014 Puligny-Montrachet; Meursault; Corton-Charlemagne & a plethora of other Bordeaux from classic vintages) but this week’s Top Thirty sufficiently long so weekly indulgence and silly season and Tuggy’s Tips, next week!