Skip to main content

Happy New Year

No posts in December (except a brief one to praise Paul Strang's book on South West France which has had the inevitable effect of making me want to return this summer to check out all things I missed last year). Things got hectic - as always - and I thought people would prefer to receive their wines than read my rants.

Most things went OK. There was the odd wrong delivery, of course, and always the ones that are most difficult to put right (a case of Monte Rosola's "Crescendo" delivered to Ireland in place of their "Corpo Notte" was by far the worst example) but I think (hope) everyone had the wines they wanted on their table over the holiday season. We did!

We have been drinking through some of the more mature wines on the list and in our own cellar such as Raymond Usseglio's superb 2000 Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is everything I want a Chateauneuf to be: spicy but smooth, rich and complex but not so heavy I need a knife to slice it with. On NYE, we opened (from the same vintage) a magnum of Pegau and bottles of Beaucastel and Vieux Telegraphe. The Beaucastel showed extremely well (as it has from a relatively young age) although I would like to see what it is going to be like at the next decade's end; the Pegau classic. VT was, as I too often find, a big disappointment with a little too much oxidation (the last bottle of 2003 was so ghastly that I am finding it difficult to open another!). Raymond - or, rather, Stef - Usseglio's wine held up extremely well in this exalted company. I wouldn't particularly rank them as they are quite different; only the VT was below par.

For Christmas Day, with twelve at the table (OK, so four of them were under 12 years old), I decided against the very best (apart from anything else, some of them might not know a decent wine if it bit them) but still had to have something good enough for us to enjoy. The day started early: our oldest woke up at 3.15 although it was three hours later when we said they could all come through to show us what was in their stockings. By 11am, the first family members arrived so we cracked open a Rasteau Rancio from Domaine Bressy-Masson which struck me as a very sophisticated way to get into the day: sweet but with a dryness about it that left you searching for the bowl of nuts that we had overlooked.

A bottle or two from Champagne Michel Rocourt for those who don't like Buck's Fizz (personally I prefer their music, and that's really saying something!) with the traditional brunch then a break before lunch where the wine choice was Pascal Perrier's Domaine de Gachon 1999 St Joseph. This wine has been sitting around for seven years and has finally come together. Almost Burgundian in its finesse but with classic mature Northern Rhone Syrah fruit including a whiff of the bacon fat associated with Cote Rotie. Several bottles later, we completely forgot about pudding wines although this was more than remedied on NYE with a bottle of Domaine Bernardins' Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise "Hommage", a Rancio of sorts which tastes more like Christmas than some of the mince pies pushed my way over the last few weeks. Actually, as someone who usually finds Muscat rather insipid, I have to confess a liking for their regular Muscat. I only hope some of the people who bought this by the case recently will let a few bottles mature (don't let anyone tell you that fortified Muscats don't age; it's a lie to keep you off track and keep all the best wines for the person giving you this misinformation!)

Happy New Year - and I will try to be more observant about posting this year (note, this is not a resolution).


  1. A few bottles of BRWs particularly enjoyed in the Bogle household over Christmas.....

    Sarazin Aligote went perfectly with the enormous paella that we cooked on Christmas Eve. Lovely crisp acidity and freshness with the seafood. Hollow legged brother-in-law polished off his fourth portion of the paella around midnight.

    I decided to put two different bottles of Chateauneuf on the table the following day with the beef and allowed everyone to mix and match. An 03 Raymond Ussegliio was rich and smooth with good ripeness of fruit. An 01 Mont Redon picked up at the cellar door during an enjoyable summer fortnight in the southern rhone had more austerity by comparison but went well with the meat.

    On New Years Day once the champagne induced hangover had cleared my last bottle of Walter McKinlay's second vintage - Mourchon '99 was savoured and enjoyed with those I love. Just wish I'd bought more of James' remaining stock before it all sold out as there is certainly none left for sale at the domaine itself.

  2. Hi Paul

    Glad you're still enjoying the Usseglio - we've been ploughing through the last case of 2000 (swapped with a friend as we had finished ours off over a year ago and the 2001 is still not quite ready for my palate). The 2004 is just coming through although, being more classic, is not anything like as mature as the 2003. All good wines though (of course!)

    The 1999 Mourchon must have been good too - I wish I had kept a few more bottles back for myself! I always found it much better than the 1998. Either way, the thing with these "special parcels" of mature wines is to snap them up when they are available, especially when Walter is offering them at such attractive prices!


Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

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 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

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

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