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A great value alternative to Côte Rôtie

From Matt Wall's forthcoming article on great value alternatives to Côte Rôtie, Pierre Gaillard's 2016 St Joseph 'Clos du Cuminaile' is a lovely wine to drink now ( there  2015 is still building). Matt scored it 92 points and reviewed it as follows: 'From a 40-year-old vineyard in Chavanay, grapes were fully destemmed. It’s showing blackberry, bonfire ashes and blackcurrant leaf aromas. 2016 was not the most concentrated vintage, so it’s medium-bodied but very smooth in the mouth. The finish is lifted and fresh, with bright berry acidity. Quite lean and transparent, this is mostly based around fresh acidity, with fine, slight tannins and a granitic spine.' (Not the most contemporary looking label but the wine is extremely drinkable!) We have, of course, tasted it ourselves a couple of times recently and found it to be on the lighter side of Syrah - St Joseph can range from red to black fruit character and be light and pretty or dense and demanding (for the latte

Girardin's return

When Justin Girardin, nephew of the famous Vincent, sent me through his 2021 list, I was struck by the fact that, even with some modest price rises, his wines offer remarkably good value for Burgundies of this quality. Where can you find a grower's Santenay at Premier Cru level under £30 these days? Answer: chez Girardin. Yes, we have been working with Justin and his family for several years and even have a (very) few bottles left of some of his 2012 Premier Cru wines - bottled under Justin's father Jacques' name - which are drinking fabulously now: smooth and unctuous with velvety tannins and soft Pinot fruit (Clos Rousseau) and a little more typical Santenay black fruit character from the Maladières  lieu dit . Both tried recently and a few bottles of each reserved for us (hence the reduced quantities available). The 2013 vintage was very successful here, perhaps more so than the 2013, defying the region generally. A simple explanation can be offered for this: Justin has

TN: Ste Anne's Rouvieres - the story of a Mourvedre's coming of age

With our profile of Domaine Ste-Anne this week, I suddenly realised it is months since we last tasted the pure Mourvedre cuvee, Rouvières (2015 vintage). Last time, some time early in 2020, I think, the fruit was still quite masked by the tannins. They're still there but more as a supporting act to the red-black fruit which lingers well on the palate. Some nice acidity too. Next taste: after some bread and Château Juvenal olive oil (sorry, sold out and there isn't going to be any available this year), the tannins are thrown further into the background (well, mid-ground. There's no denying them but it wouldn't be Mourvèdre without them) and the fruit becomes quite masterful. Add to the mix some well-matured Epoisses, the wine brings out the intensity of this cheese so well but the fruit carries through. Comté further softens the tannins and brings out some spiciness: svelte is the word. Next, to pair it with some Bercovici  salami, 'The Barolo' being the obvious

Estate Profile: the truly excellent Domaine Ste-Anne

Simple labels adorn the bottles of these highly effective and enjoyable wines which have a distinct nod to the northern Rhône and even Burgundy and Bandol despite their southern Rhône setting. Described by Robert Parker as ‘one of the best estates in the entire Rhône Valley’, Domaine Ste-Anne has been in the Steinmaier family since 1965 when it was bought as a holiday home for this Burgundian family. Guy Steinmaier quickly recognised the potential of the 12 hectares of vines and set about replanting them.   Now under the stewardship of his son Jean, who studied winemaking in Beaune before taking over in 1977, they have remained consistent throughout making remarkably un-Parkerised wines (that is to say, these are elegant and refined rather than the blockbusters generally regarded by the former uber-critic). A quarter of a century since Parker wrote those words, Domaine Ste-Anne remains synonymous with the Côtes du Rhône Village of St-Gervais. Today the range is much the same as it was

Joblot in the glass

Always one of my favourite tastings: the new vintage – in this case the 2019s – of Domaine Joblot’s wines from the bottle and, better still, in the comfort of my own home. 2019 has been much lauded but, thanks to Covid, only a very few people have tasted widely around the vintage. Jancis Robinson said of the wines she tasted, ‘ the wines were delightfully easy to like ’ although she rarely looks at the Chalonnaise which can be viewed as unfortunate for the top estates there but, perhaps, lucky for us since it keeps prices down and wines available. Anyone wanting to delve into Joblot’s wines could either choose any available vintagesand try wines from across the range or follow particular cuvées across a range of vintages (horizontal or vertical comparisons).   Juliette was clearly pleased with the way the wines turned out and rightly so. They tend towards sweetness in their youth but that is necessary for the wines to show at their best after 5-10m years (they will last much, much long

Salumi Success

I have been perfecting (I hope) my curing skills in the hope that I will soon be able to start making and selling salumi (that's Italian charcuterie although some may be more French than Italian, of course). I seem to be getting there. Shortly before Christmas - for some reason, at my busiest time of the year, I always need an additional project. Probably, if I don't keep going, I'll simply stop altogether - I cured a Coppa (the muscle that runs from the neck to the loin), a Lonzo (the loin) and made various salami from a basic recipe with additions: some with olives, some simply with black pepper and, best of all, a Fenocchiona which has lots of garlic and fennel. The Lonzo was cold smoked for a couple of hours. Here are the results: My youngest son and I demolished this in a matter of minutes. He didn't get any wine to go with it but I did: Fabrizio Battaglino 's Roero Riserva 2015 : just about reaching perfection, this has elegant Nebbiolo character with some sup

Decanter’s top Rhône wines under £20

The moratorium is over. Decanter’s December issue has been published and I can announce our successes in the recent tasting undertaken by their Rhône expert, Matt Walls who has recently returned from a year and a half in the region. If you look on Decanter.com today (November 2020), you will see a link to ‘Top Côtes du Rhône wines under £20’. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the brief of its writer was to taste and rate wines from across the valley in that price range and that the top scoring white wine was actually a Ventoux. No prizes for guessing that it was  Château Juvenal’s 2019 ‘Ribes de Vallat’ Blanc , awarded 91 points, which, at £12.60 is also the best value of any of the white wines on the list: 'From 30- to 40-year-old vines grown on granite south-facing slopes; half of the wine is matured for six months in demi-muid leaving no overt oakiness to the aromatics. Full-bodied, rich and opulent style, very ripe and fulsome. Some mango and pineapple juice. Unmist