It is always a pleasure to be invited to dinner with Effi of Dynamic Webs – our web provider and host, but more importantly a bon viveur and all round good egg.
We ate at the picturesque Ashdown Hotel in Sussex and I was asked by Effi to open the innings re: the wine. We both chose a venison carpaccio and so it had to be PInot. I chose a 2006 Bourgogne Pinot from Parent – always reliable in my view. Indeed it had a very seductive elegant nose and impressed first up.
Before I could really get to grips with it however a new slant on ‘bring your own’ was being introduced to me by Effi. Unhappy with the glassware on a visit three months previously, he decided to bring his own glasses (impressive Burgundy style efforts from Spiegelau as it turned out).
Fair play to the sommelier – who didn’t flinch an inch, acceded to our wishes and we ploughed on. Next, we selected a Pinot from Alto Adige. I have always liked Italian Pinots and reds from the Sudtirol to be honest. The wine was from San Michele Appiano – more famed, in truth, for its Sauvignon, but from memory their Lagrein is also very good.
The Pinot had good structure, a decent weight of crunchy fruit, good vitality and mineral notes, all of which complemented our duck confit and pork medallions.
Wine with the cheese was less of a success, a 2005 Cabernet/Merlot from CJ Pask Gimblett Gravels of Hawke’s Bay has moved on tremendously in recent times, but some herbaceous notes spoiled it a little for me.
No doubt Effi and I will convene again soon for dinner and conversation and I fully expect him to produce his own kobe beef or perhaps a puffa fish for the chef to prepare!
“An Italian asked to make wine in France – have you gone completely mad?”
Stefano Chioccioli is one of Italy’s leading winemakers, and (alongside Giacomo Tachis of Sassicaia fame), is only one of two Italian winemakers to have won a 100 Robert Parker rating for their wines, which many in the know consider to be the pinnacle of the fine wine pyramid.
But Stefano, who earned his rating for the Super Tuscan Tua Rita 2000 vintage and consults for many Tuscan producers (where his operation is based) is now doing the unthinkable for many French wine producers and critics (and indeed, the French public in general) – consulting for a French wine producer.
Stefano has been employed by the Lignères family who own Chateau La Baronne down in the Languedoc hotbed. The Languedoc has a reputation for up-front characterful wines, but are often lacking a little freshness. This is not true of Baronne’s wines, whose remarkable terroir has been coaxed by Chiccioli into making wines of uncommon complexity and freshness; and their upmarket ‘La Baronne’ label has been going down a storm over in the States.
We have managed to gain a small allocation of Stefano’s La Baronne wines.
The 2009 Bordeaux vintage has all the early signs of being a great Bordeaux vintage.
In fact, a warm, dry growing season got the vignerons gossiping on whether they would have another 2005 on their hands. Well, it was certainly the finest growing season since 2005, with both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon ripening rapidly.
But, the proof, as ever, will be in the bottle and there will be a heightened sense of anticpation come the rapidly approaching en primeur season – which, should at least prove to be a more enjoyable tasting experience than the last few years.
However, behind the purple grins of the leading châteaux and the guarded enthusiasm of the critics, wine investors and specialist fine wine merchants attending, there will be one underlying thought on everybody’s minds. What price for the 2009s?
With the noticeable price drops in recent vintages, we may well see a reversion to the stratospheric hiking of past great vintages – which could be good news for wealthy investors – but less so for consumers. However, you can be rest assured that our experts will be seeking to dig out great wines at great values from those châteaux that fly under the radar of the Asian and American investment markets.
The freeze is on – in more ways than one.
We have held our VAT prices on hundreds of wines. And with many wines also on offer in our January Sale, there are some great fine wine bargains to be had for a limited time.
So, while we all shiver with cold, I hope these fine wine savings may bring a shiver of excitement.
However, due to heavy demand, the stock of many sale wines may thaw before the weather does, so please do order now as we expect these to sell out quickly.