Châteauneuf-du-Pape Wine Tasting at Amathus City

Last night Amathus at Leadenhall had the pleasure of entertaining the Jacumins of Chateauneuf. With them we tasted their wonderful white and red. Fresh from the heat and torridness that is typical of the southern Rhone their fresh and light 2012 white seemed oddly deft and slight of touch. With a subtle chalkiness and apricot fruit a hidden note of almond and vanilla lingered.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Domaine Albin Jacumin Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Domaine Albin Jacumin Chateauneuf-du-Pape White 2012
Domaine Albin Jacumin Chateauneuf-du-Pape White 2012

Small producers are the backbone of the area of Chateauneuf making up to 90% of the production. And for this reason their livelihoods depend more and more upon quality as opposed to quantity, not synonymous with more recent times when wines were sold for more than their worth.

With the Jacumin estate quality can be guaranteed. The Domaine Albin Jacumin Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2010 is deep without the cloying sweetness that Grenache dominant wines can show. A peppery length matches the raisin-like fruit and a subtle grittiness clings to palette, reminiscent of dusty fruit from an untouched bowl. This is the hallmark of very good Chateauneuf.

Naturally these wines are of outstanding quality and value. Both priced between £25 and £30. The days of average Chateauneuf at eye-wateringly astronomic prices are thankfully a thing of the past and the wines of Jacumin reflect this faithfully.

Amen to that!

Wines for Easter – Amathus guide to holiday drinking

I don’t know about you but I’m definitely feeling more upbeat now that the clocks have changed! I’ve said goodbye to my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as said hello to my old friend, the BBQ, as I dust it off and look forward to going alfresco in the garden for the months ahead.

But, first up we have Easter to look forward to! As a food and wine lover, there are two things in particular that send me into a frenzy of excitement around this time of year – chocolate eggs and Spring lamb!

Given my sweet tooth, a bunker full of chocolate is unavoidable in my house. Over the years, I’ve experimented with many a wine alongside chocolate and have come to rely on two ‘bankers’ – winners every time.

The first wine is Moscato d’Asti. Moscato d’Asti is a specific style of wine from one of Italy’s most famous wine regions, Piedmont. It is light and sweet with a slight sparkle – very refreshing. The reason it works so well with chocolate is that the sweetness of the wine stands up to the sweetness of the chocolate whilst the slight fizz removes the weight and refreshes the palate. When slurping and munching are carried out in the right combination, you can keep going indefinitely! Try this Govone Moscato d’Asti: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/govone-moscato-d-asti.html

Try chocolate with Moscato d'Asti!
Try chocolate with Moscato d’Asti!

My other recommendation for chocolate is Port. I know what you are thinking but long gone are the days when Port is restricted to after dinner quaffing or cheese boards. Port has many guises and the Tawny style (lighter, nuttier, dried fruits and toffee character) works beautifully when chilled and served alongside a slab of chocolate.  Give it a go! The Calem Tawny port would work perfectly: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/calem-10yr-tawny.html

 

Calem Tawny port with chocoalte!
Calem Tawny port with chocolate!

Now, let’s turn to lamb! With a mother who spent half her life is Wales, I was indoctrinated from an early age on the joys of lamb.

By the end of April, the first spring lamb is emerging – delicate, tender, and utterly delicious. When choosing a wine for lamb, I tend to go one of two ways depending on my mood.

If I’m feeling traditional, I usually adhere to the adage that no wine has a greater affinity for lamb than red Bordeaux. A classic Bordeaux blend like the Chateau Cissac would be ideal. If, however, you like your Bordeaux but fancy trying something different, I urge you to give the reds from Washington State on the West Coast of the US a try. This is classic Merlot and Cabernet country and Washington is now making some seriously impressive wines. Our Gordon Estate Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot would be just the ticket.

The other choice is Pinot Noir – the joy of the Pinot Noir grape is that it has good acidity but is also known for having a wonderful perfume – trademark aromatics of red fruits. It is a lighter style than Bordeaux or Merlot/Cab blends and for that reason it is for me the best choice alongside the delicate flavour of new season lamb. I would suggest a Pinot from a cool climate – Oregon, Marlborough in New Zealand or Burgundy are all making top notch Pinot – one from Moillard, Georges Michel or Elk Cove is a great place to start.

 

You can find all the suggested wines in our Easter Wine Case: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/easter-wine-case.html

Pinot Noir with lamb
Pinot Noir with lamb

 

So, with all this in mind – happy munching, happy slurping, Happy Easter!

Alex Down

Wine Sales & Marketing Manager

Christmas lunch – what is the perfect Wine pairing?

Every year in December I get inundated with phone calls, texts and emails from friends and family about which wines they should be choosing to go with their Christmas roast.

I never get tired of this question because there is no single “one size fits all” answer. Every meat – chicken, turkey, beef, pork, goose – has a very different flavour and texture and therefore demands a different choice of wine.

So, here are a few suggestions which will hopefully ensure that come the 25th you will not only have a cracking glass of wine in your hand, but also a wine that perfectly suits your Christmas lunch!

Turkey

Turkey’s mixture of white and dark meat suits a white wine that is fairly weighty but also has a good dose of crisp acidity.

I usually go for a Chardonnay from Burgundy in France. These wines often undergo oak aging which gives them a roundness which complements the richer dark meat, while Burgundy’s cooler climate allows the wines to retain fresh acidity. Something like the Domaine Moillard Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Blanc would be the ultimate match.

If you are looking for a wine to fit a budget, excellent value Chardonnay can be found in the Mâcon region of Burgundy – our Chateau de la Tour de L’Ange Macon Village is a great example of this.

If Chardonnay is not your thing, fear not. A worthy alternative is Pinot Gris. These wines tend to be full-bodied and rich and would make a superb companion to your turkey and all its trimmings. You can find excellent Pinot Gris in Alsace in France, like the Louis Sipp Nature ‘S’ Pinot Gris, as well as also from Oregon in the US – the Elk Cove Pinot Gris would be a very classy choice.

Pork

The wonderful thing about the pig is that it is a very versatile beast – you can eat pretty much any part of it. A similar versatility applies to your choice of wine – both red and white are perfectly acceptable choices here.

But, regardless of whether you are going for red or white, I would suggest you look for a wine with good acidity. Pork can be quite fatty at times and a wine with acidity will help cut through the fat and refresh your palate.

If you opt for a white wine, look no further than a Grüner Veltliner from Austria. In my opinion, Gruner is the ultimate white wine for pork – the Ewald Gruber Weinviertel Gruner Veltilner has a refreshing green apple fruit and white pepper character and would be just the thing to accompany your joint of pork.

When it comes to the reds, a popular suggestion among sommeliers is a wine from Italy (such as a Chianti) or a Cote du Rhone from France. But, personally, I like to go for something that is a little more approachable in its youth. That’s why the soft tannins and silky round fruit of Pinot Noir make it the ideal partner for pork in my opinion. If you want an Old Work option the Domaine Moillard Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge ticks all the boxes. Alternatively, New Zealand is producing some fantastic Pinot Noir nowadays, such as the Georges Michel Golden Mile Pinot Noir.

Also, if you plan on having porky cold cuts on Boxing Day, a slightly chilled red from Beaujolais, like the Manoir du Carra Fleurie, would make for a delightful match!

Beef

There is no better time to break out the big reds than when you are cooking roast beef. Juicy, bloody red meat demands a wine that is bold, full bodied and big on flavour.

For this reason, I am a big fan of the wines from the Americas. A bold, sun-kissed Californian red like the Pedroncelli Cabernet Sauvignon would certainly be up to the task in hand. Alternatively, a powerful, hearty South American wine – like the Carla Chiaro Malbec from Argentina or Anane Carmenere from Chile – would be a fantastic selection.

Lamb

One of lamb’s most enduring qualities to my mind is its strong, gamy flavour. But this, in turn, calls for a powerful and robust red wine.

The classic choice would be a red from Bordeaux as lamb and Bordeaux seem to have a natural affinity for each other – our Chateau Cissac Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel would be the ideal partner.

But, recently, I have found that the reds of the Rhône Valley in France are particularly good with lamb. These wines tend to be made from a blend of different grape varieties (usually always including Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre). The wines tend to be full bodied and have a dark fruit and spicy black pepper character – just the ticket alongside your succulent lamb and mint sauce.

We hope this helps you find the perfect wine for your Christmas lunch. But, if you are going off-piste – venison, woodcock, goose, for example – and need any wine suggestions, we would love to hear from you!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Rhône and Languedoc Leadenhall Master Class at Leadenhall Market

Last Night we had the pleasure to entertain Benedicte of agency wine labels Cazes, Domaine de Prince and St Hiliare. Fresh from the valley and Plateaus of the Costieres de Nimes and neighbouring Languedoc regions with wines in tow, we were whisked briefly but deftly through the evocative delights of what the very South of France has to offer.

The beautiful wines of Rhone and Languedoc
The beautiful wines of Rhone and Languedoc

We started with three precise and carefully crafted whites first of which was an unoaked Chardonnay under the label of Cazes. The hidden citrus fruits of such an understated variety simmered gently beneath a clean minerality and a tongue curling crispness. Often slated and sniffed at, clean chardonnays such as this one only enhance an otherwise awkward reputation. This was followed by a small batch production of Costieres de Nimes white under the label of Domaine de Prince. With mostly Grenache blanc in the varietal blend the very typical flinty notes dusted a bruised and light peach-like fruit. And bringing up the rear for the whites was the Cotes du Rhone St Hiliare blanc. Rounder and somewhat broader the Southern Rhone blends of Marsanne and Rousanne were given width with the inclusion of Clairette and Viognier. Clairette is closely linked with wines from the south east corner of France and can seem a clumsy grape when used alone, but marry it to a blend and the best of the berry fruit comes to the fore giving this wine an aromatic lift.

And so we turned to reds. The partner to the Cazes chardonnay was a Cabernet Sauvignon. Bottled as a single varietal but grown in a generally temperate climate, Cab sav, as we so fondly name it can express its typical character of cassis as did this offering. This was followed by the brother to the Cotes du Rhone blanc a peppery and coffee-like red while the evening was ended with Domaine du Prince  which echoed the cotes du Rhone’s espresso and blackberry notes on a more brooding and smokier level.

A fitting end to a charming evening and don’t forget we have all these lines on sale here at Amathus Drinks Leadenhall and all surprisingly good value.

If you fancy learning more about the wines we tasted, visit the links below:

Domaine Prince: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=prince&x=-1418&y=-121&order=relevance&dir=desc

Caze Blanque: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=caze&x=-1427&y=-121&order=relevance&dir=desc

St Hilaire Prestige: http://www.amathusdrinks.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=hilaire&x=-1427&y=-121&order=relevance&dir=desc

Let us know if you have tried them already and what you think!

Wine Buyer’s Spring Selection by Sarah Knowles

Hello! Sadly summer this year seems to be falling a little short of expectations following an amazing April… With grey skies, rain and clammy humidity yet no sun, it’s really driving me to drink! You too?

On the humid city evenings, I have been sitting outside on my postage stamp sized terrace with large glasses of chilled Caze Blanque Rose, (a great Provence look a like) and Louis Sipps Pinot Blanc.

However on the cooler rain filled nights I seem to be turning to winter warmers – Bordeaux (Chateau Vieux Tuquet) being my new bargain buy, Acrobat Shiraz still making me smile (and dream of sunnier climates) and, luckily, Le Chiantigiane’s spicy Sangiovese is available at my wonderful local (the Barnsbury, N1).

The “emergency biscuit” for me this summer though goes to our new Terra Serena rose prosecco – once the cork is popped, I seem to forget about the hit and miss weather, move the picnic indoors and celebrate the great English weather – at least the ducks must be happy!

Terra Serena Rose Spumante
Red cherry and cranberry nose, with delicate lively bubbles and a fruity crisp finish.

Louis Sipp Pinot Blanc
Mineral and lemon aromas, balanced by a rich chalk body and citrus fresh fruit flavours. A classic elegant finish, with flint and lemon rind developing.

Ewald Gruber Gruner Vertliner
White pepper and peaches are typical on the nose, fantastic pure lemon and sour peach fruit flavour on the palate, with complex spices developing. Very long mineral finish.

Granbazan Albarino Verde
Powerful peach and pineapple nose, with high natural acidity, crisp clean lemon and peach flavours on the palate. Long fruit driven length.

Caze Blanque Rose
Great fresh strawberries and sweet cherries, summer in a glass, but with a refined dry finish.

Carelli 34 Rose
Great strawberry and raspberry nose, with ripe fruit flavours on the palate. An easy summer drink.

Chateau Vieux Tuquet
Plum and blackcurrant on the nose with spice developing in the glass; firm but integrated tannins, well balanced by fresh acidity, and good depth of berry flavour continuing on the finish.

Le Chiantigiane Sangiovese
Sour cherry and bacon on the nose, with a great deep complex flavour of cherry, smoked ham, and plums. A juicy length and rounded tannins.

Acrobat Shiraz
Deep ruby colour with sweet spicy plums and blackberries on the nose, a rich blackcurrant and cardamon juicy palate leads to a long satisfying finish.

Palacio de Sada Crianza
Burnt strawberry and rich vanilla aromas entice. Great acidity and rich tannins are balanced well with redcurrant, plum, and white pepper spices. A generous depth of flavor and long length makes this a great traditional Spanish wine with a wonderful modern twist.

By Sarah Knowles, Amathus’ Wine Buyer