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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

Watching and drinking Perseides concurrently.

Being British, I am obliged to comment on the Provencal weather this summer. Mostly hot with the occasional Mistral wind and, a few weeks ago, a threatened storm which yielded some highly unusual clouds, identified by a friend’s meteorologically talented daughter (moments before o ne of my own clever clogs) as being of the mammatus variety, these being, in effect, upside down clouds which, said expert explained occur when   the cold, moist poc kets of air sink rather than rise. Pic included of clouds over neighbouring property (would you believe me if I said it was sunny over us? No?).   What I ca n ’t give you a picture of bec ause (a) it hasn’t properly occurred this year yet (a brief flirtatio n last night but that’s all so far) and (b) my technological wizardry has yet to master how to tak e a still image of a (literally) flying circus, is tonight’s extravaganza of shooting stars, known as   Per séide s . (Some of you will, by now, have figured where this is going.) The useful peop

Postcard from Provence

With lockdown more or less over, we made a dash to the other side of the Channel and are currently languishing in the Vaucluse  d épartement , home to the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape  et al . Mont Ventoux, known to cyclists the world over, is staring at me as I write, only providing a shield from the sun in the early hours of the morning before the heat hits. Exercise here, recently so highly prized (the French were allowed no further than 1 km from home to exercise during their lockdown), is necessarily limited to a gentle morning stroll around the village to collect bread from the  boulang ère.  In time it may be possible to acclimatise but, looking at the locals, I wouldn’t bet on it. France went into lockdown before us, of course, and came out earlier as well so, if we in the UK are fortunate, what I am seeing is a glimpse into the future. We are welcome here – I know plenty of people with concerns about this but it is the Parisians they fear most here it seems. The UK, until