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Oseleta - what is it?

Oseleta is a grape variety. 

That's straightforward then. Go to Jancis Robinson's website to find out more. After all, she and her colleague Julia Harding MW, wrote what must be the definitive guide to grape varieties. 

It's not there. Never mind, a good search comes to the rescue. Oseleta has a 'more tannic structure, minerality and dark berry notes and is very different to the light, more gentle, low tannin of most Valpolicella grapes' according to thedrinksbusiness.com in an online article entitled 'Rare variety adds backbone to Valpolicella'.

So now you have a clue as to my interest. I have been keeping quiet about a new range I have just brought into the UK from a rather interesting outfit called 'i Campi' (which my 'O' Level Latin translates as The Fields). I came across them following a discussion about Soave wines in which I became convinced that there were some seriously good ones out there somewhere (in the Soave zone, obviously). Sur…

St-Peray - what's that?

The southernmost appellation of the northern Rhone is not a name that many wine enthusiasts know or a wine that is commonly seen on the shelves. There are some decent sparklers bubbling out, and have been since the 1820s, but now the still whites are making a name for themselves in this tiny appellation - different sizes abound on this font of all knowledge, the internet, but it seems that it is between 55 and 90 hectares (by way of contrast, Chateau Lafite claims 112 hectares).

Earlier this year, I visited Pierre Gaillard, one of the northern Rhone's great risk-takers, who was clearly very pleased with his St-Peray (indeed, he has reason to be pleased with the whole range but the St-Peray seemed to be one he was especially proud of) and it was easy to see why. It is a wine grown just south of Cornas on clay and chalk, giving acidity and tension to the wine. The Marsanne/Roussanne blend give the wine delicate floral characters, complexity and balance.

Yesterday, I was flicking thr…

New arrivals tasted and a scientific experiment

It's been a while since my last post as the arrival of the British summer saw me de-camp to the continent for several weeks where wines were enjoyed but rarely intellectualised. I found that I still don't get on with Loire reds but I did find a Beaujolais I really liked, albeit one given a traditional, whole cluster fermentation followed by ageing in barriques (so, nothing like BoJo). Other wines came and went: a Ruche impressed me at lunch in Alba but, generally, I drank either wines which I import or, otherwise, wines of little consequence. Summer wines.

Arriving back in the UK, it was time to start the post-arrival tastings of 2015s that have been sitting quietly in the warehouse since late June. Several wines from the northern Rhone's Pierre Gaillard and Domaine Ste-Anne  in the south have been opened in the last week and, youthfulness aside, all have impressed greatly. From the latter estate, the St-Gervais 'Les Rouvieres' is surprisingly approachable although…

Southern Rhone whites decantered

Today sees the release of Decanter's August edition with the publication of the results of its Southern Rhone Whites tasting. We have a whopping seven wines in the line-up! As the notes show, Viognier is very much back in vogue.

Chateau Juvenal, Ventoux 2015 'Ribes de Vallat'
Another scoop for Juvenal, following its recent Wine of the Week (for the 2016) on jancisrobinson.com, now recognition for the 2015 - there's very little left but at least the follow-on comes highly recommended! The Juvenal Blanc is a blend of Clairette and Viognier.

'Calls to mind summer Mediterranean meadows and freshly mown grass. Peach, apricot and mango fruits dominate the palate, complemented by a rich, oily texture' (90/100, 13.5% ABV)

Domaine Brusset, Cairanne 2015 'Esprit de Papet'
One of two whites from Laurent Brusset and, if that's not enough, his 2015 Cairanne 'Chabriles' also scooped a Platinum Trophy for Best Value Rhone Red in the Decanter World Wine Award…

2006 revisited in Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Jancis Robinson has revisited 2006 Chateauneuf-du-Pape making two of our wines her Wines of the Week. She writes:

'I was reminded of how well the 2006 Châteauneufs are showing now when tasting a couple currently on offer from The Big Red Wine Company in the UK. I opened Raymond Usseglio 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (£24.50, 14.5% alcohol on the label) at the same time as Domaine de Cristia 2006 Châteauneuf-du-Pape(£23, 15%) and enjoyed how they played tag in the glass. At first the Raymond Usseglio wine was the more impressive – much denser and richer – but then the Cristia came up on the outside lane and overtook it, offering more elegance and staying power, despite the alcohol level, and making the Usseglio look a little grainy and tired after an hour or so.
'But the main message is that this vintage of Châteauneuf is drinking very well at the moment and, for serious, ageworthy wines that have had almost 10 years in bottle, they are not desperately expensive.' Dom Raymond Usseg…

Rhone 2015 EP offer... at last!

It's a little overdue, I know, but I hope people will find it worthwhile. There are some usual suspects on the list and a couple of new faces.

On my annual jaunt to Canterbury at the end of April, a small group of tasters sampled the 2015 Brusset 'Esprit de Papet' and Raymond Usseglio's 2015 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Both were enthusiastically received (and purchased in surprisingly large quantities).

Then, last week, Jancis Robinson published her reviews of the new releases from Chateau Juvenal, one of the rising stars of the Ventoux. Needless to say, she loved the four wines she tasted.

Now, to add to these three names - and to the wines of Chateau de Beaucastel/Famille Perrin which were first offered last November - we have some new names to add to the list:

Pierre Gaillard is a winemaker based at Malleval in the northern Rhone. His first vineyard was St Joseph 'Clos de Cuminaille', a wine we sold when we started the business. We are thrilled to have it back, esp…

Jancis raves about Juvenal

A couple of weeks ago, I dropped off a box of wines at the London office of Jancis Robinson MW, affectionately known in the trade as HRH (she is charming, gracious and knows her stuff!). Earlier this week, I received an email telling me, 'Like the Juvenal white' and, after a few more email exchanges to get photos etc to her, it transpired she was going to make this her Wine of the Week.

Them, a couple of days ago, another email asking for some more information about the red wines which were also in the box. Today, with reviews of all four wines posted on her website (jancisrobinson.com, well worth the subscription for all serious wine enthusiasts), her WoW review is published and includes all the wines. A coup for Juvenal indeed!

Here it is (published with permission):

Château Juvenal is a name that is new to me. The Forestiers bought the property in 2001 and in 2011 joined forces with local vignerons the Alban family, who had until then delivered their grapes to the Beaumes-de…

Verulam tasting

A recommendation from someone who attended a tasting a year or so ago in Rutland lead to an invitation to present a selection of Rhone wines to a group of 80 or so people in St Albans last night. On arrival I was tested out with a radio microphone which I did everything I could to avoid using but managed to amuse and offend in equal measure (I suggested that I was rather younger than most of those present which was true but someone who was of a similar age thought I meant that everyone was considerably older than me) but, above all, inform people about the Rhone and its wines. It's often tricky in these situations since I don't know how much they know and don't want to patronise them; equally, it is a waste of their time if they go away without any greater understanding of the region.

Three whites to begin with: Chateau Juvenal's 2015 'Ribes de Vallat', an atypical blend of Clairette and Viognier, the latter grape giving the wine a sumptuous lift, followed by t…

And the award goes to...

OK, it's not the Oscars but, after last night's fiasco, it is probably better managed. Following our recent garlanding by Lux Magazine, we now find similar honours bestowed on us by Industry Insight Monthly, a quarterly publication which considers itself a resource tool for industry. I am not entirely sure what this means but they do have the same mailing address as Lux and, like Lux, they would like me to pay for a crystal trophy (a snip at £250) or give them some money for something or other (to be fair their is a free package but you have to look hard to find any reference to The Big Red Wine Company!).

Anyway, I suppose I should be overjoyed at all this recognition and I can confirm that, when the results are officially published, on top of all the titles I was awarded by Lux, I am now...

Best Fine Wine Retailer - East Anglia

Venison with...?

I have been asked to blog more about wine with food and, as someone who enjoys cooking, I hope this will enliven things around here! Appropriate to the time of year, today I am writing about venison.

Venison is popular in our house - with me, anyway. Buying it a side at a time (from Archers Butchers in Norwich) is a highly cost effective way to fill the freezer with the healthiest of meats. Compared with beef, it's leaner, has about half the calories and a fifth of the total fat and one-sixth of the saturated fat of the equivalent beef. It has around 10% more protein and higher levels of vitamins and minerals although it is around 20% higher in cholesterol.

My freezer is currently bursting at the seams with various cuts and, consequently, I have to think up different ways to present it to my family who, unlike me, would get rather bored of a slab of meat with some sort of carbs and greens put in front of them several nights each week.
1. Venison mince
Mincing the scraps with one part…

2015 Burgundy - is there enough?

January is traditionally the month for tasting and buying the new vintage of Burgundy, wines which are mostly still in tanks and barrels, having been harvested only 15 months earlier. This year was the turn of the much heralded 2015s. This was a year in which not much could go wrong and, on the evidence of the wines I have tasted, very little did.

For me, I tasted extensively in the Chalonnaise, especially around Givry - I wanted to ensure that Domaine Joblot continues to be the best (it does) and, as a consumer, I have to consider that these are wines I can actually afford to drink. I also went to the so-called Ozgundians tasting in Soho where three Australians who make excellent (but by no means cheap) Burgundies were showing off their 2015s. A handful of other wines tasted confirmed, with all the above, that this is one of the great vintages. But you don't need me to tell you that when it's all over the wine press.

What I can tell you about is the excellent 2015s from Domai…

Enjoyed last night...

On wine (briefly), a bottle of 2010 Givry 1er Cru 'Bois Chevaux' from Domaine Joblot was drinking magnificently last night. I am sure real experts would be able to find faults but for mere amateurs such as myself, this was quite simply a lovely wine, in the right place and the is certainly no reason to focus on anything other than the immense pleasure it affords. Sorry, all gone now but there are some very good follow-on vintages still available!