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Bond had a thing for Chateau Batailley. He could recognise with his eyes wide shut that classic blackcurrant and
cedar nose and playful minerality. It was fragrant, sweet and spicy, an expansive wine that at any moment could turn
violent, pin you in an arm lock and render you unconscious.
The beautifully-drinking second wine of Château Gruaud-Larose at a corpse-reviving price. We have an old vintage
of Daddy-Larose. There is a healthy dollop of Merlot (about 30%) in the blend. Traditionally Gruaud has been a rich
chunky wine revealing a big mouthful of raw flavours: blackcurrants, plums, tar, leather, smoked beef and herbs.
More recently it has become refined and less rustic. The 1978 is old style for those who enjoy the tawnier things in
life. The two Gruauds from the 80s would grace any cellar: the 85 still rich and chunky, the 82, yet more layered,
probably the finest wine from this estate.
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Bernard: The older the wine the gooder it is
Manny: The more expensive the wine the gooder it is
Château Paveil de Luze is a small family estate in Soussans in the Médoc. It is an old property dating back to the 17
The Baron Alfred de Luze purchased the estate in 1862, and his descendants have held it ever since.
It lies on deep, well-drained gravel soils that are ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines are an average of 20 years old. This
wine spent 18 months in new oak barrels. It is a classic Margaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (30%), and
Cabernet Franc (5%). Beautiful garnet colour. Supple nose of black fruit and herbs. Ripe, juicy fruit across the palate with
good underlying acidity. Some gentle spice and herb flavours. Velvety tannins and a long, smooth finish. It is not what you
would call a Parker wine.
CHATEAU PAVEIL DE LUZE
MOULIS, GRAND BOURGEOIS EXCEPTIONNEL
On the “Route des Châteaux” in the Médoc, just after the village of Arcins, to the left after the famous inn the Lion d’Or, are
the vineyards of Chasse Spleen. South of the gravelly brow of Grand Poujeaux, this vineyard benefits from a remarkably well
drained subsoil and is superbly well exposed to the hot summer sun. The soil is composed of 80% Garonne gravel on a chalky
substratum and 20% chalky clay. Before the vines were planted only extremely rustic cereal like rye grew on this land.
The climate is also particularly important. The rainy Médoc springtime constitutes a water reserve in the buried tertiary shelf.
A hot summer is hard on the vines, and means that the roots must go even deeper underground for their necessary water
supply. The weather and the poor soil are exactly what are needed for the Médoc grape varieties: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon,
20% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot.
The wines, from comparatively old vines, are top class. This is one of the handful of Médoc estates that does not filter either
after the malolactic fermentation or before bottling. The best vintages have remarkable depth: cassis fruits, extract, body and
texture with a hint of plums and spicy new oak (50% new oak casks are used for ageing).
CHATEAU CHASSE-SPLEEN – magnum
CHATEAU CHASSE-SPLEEN – magnum
CHATEAU CHASSE-SPLEEN – magnum
MOULIS, GRAND BOURGEOIS EXCEPTIONNEL
The château is in the village of Poujeaux and has ancient origins, being an estate dating back to 1544 when it was a
dependency of Château Latour. The property is now run by the Theil family who took it over in the 1920s and reunified the
various parts on the estate. The vineyard is located on a rich vein of deep gravel, which it shares with Château Chasse-Spleen.
The encépagement is interesting because all four traditional grape varieties are used with the proportion of Petit Verdot being
surprisingly high (around 10%). The vinification is traditional with long fermentations and macerations of 4-6 weeks in
wooden, concrete and stainless steel vats. 30-40% new casks are used and the Theils either do not believe in filtering their
wine (according to David Peppercorn) or they do (Robert Parker). Whichever, the wines themselves are deep coloured with
overtones of tobacco, and the flavour stylish and fine, although rich and powerful. The 1999 was a fine effort packed with
high tannin but also exhibiting sweet blackcurrant fruit, care of the ripe Cabernet Sauvignon which confers splendid cassis
notes and ripe tannins. The fleshiness derives from the opulent Merlot. With a good twenty years in the tank this is the sort of
wine that could give Bordeaux a good name. And I’m not being too heavily ironic.
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The perfect English murder... care of Midsomer Murders
Being nailed to a lawn by croquet hoops whilst a trebuchet, operated by an unseen hand, fires first growth clarets at your stricken body.
A bottle arcs into the sky and explodes on the ground narrowly missing its victim.
Would be victim: “That’s a bloody Château Margaux 78!!”
“How I like claret! …It fills one’s mouth with a gushing freshness, then goes down to cool and feverless; then, you do not feel it
quarrelling with one’s liver. No; ‘tis rather a peace-maker, and lies as quiet as it did in the grape. Then it is as fragrant as the Queen
Bee, and the more ethereal part mounts into the brain, not assaulting the cerebral apartments, like a bully looking for his trull, and
hurrying from door to door, bouncing against the wainscot,, but rather walks like Aladdin about his enchanted palace, so gently that you
do not feel his step.”
John Keats (1795-1821)
You know it’s not bad, but you should really try a Jurançon or a Vouvray. Oh, I said that before. The quality of this
second growth estate has improved markedly since the mid 1980s. The location is just to the north of the village of
Sauternes on gravelly hillside beds with a southwest orientation. Yields are low (about 15hl/ha) and the blend is
Sémillon (55%), Sauvignon (40%) and Muscadelle (5%). This high proportion of Sauvignon and the refusal to use any
new oak (the wine is aged in stainless steel and 5+yr old oak barrels for 24-36 months) gives Filhot a fruitier, more
aromatic quality than some of the bigger-boned Sauternes. No, definitely better than a slap on the shins with a warm
CHATEAU FILHOT – ½ bottle
Bordeaux, Basic – This is what I feel about honest-to-badness Bordeaux (just substitute descending cru classifications for schools). ‘We
class schools, you see, into four grades: Leading School, First-Rate School, Good School and School. Frankly’, said Mr Levy, ‘School is
pretty bad.’ (Decline and Fall – Evelyn Waugh).
The Alternative Wine Glossary
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Like Dead Sea fruits, that tempt the eye, but turn to ashes on the lips! – Thomas Moore – Lalla Rookh
My great mate Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has an enormous
cellar full of the last century’s best Beaujolais vintages. He…
has his cellar rigged up with a quadraphonic high fidelity
phonograph set on a continuous loop. This device plays his hit
musicals over and over again at considerable volume. The
wines seem to love it, for they are amongst the finest examples
of aged Beaujolais that I’ve ever tasted.
There is now more to these wines than jam today. The Beaujolais-
Villages and Régnié from Domaine de La Plaigne have impressive
colour and extract; the Brouilly from Domaine Cret des Garanches is
enticingly juicy but with the sort of tannin to tackle food and the
quartet from Didier Desvignes (there’s a name for a vigneron are
certainly no bubblegum bimbos. And now to prove that Gamay from
old vines on poor soils can compete with the posh neighbours in
Burgundy: welcome a silky Chiroubles from Damien Coquelet, a
brilliant, mineral Fleurie from Yvon Métras, beefy Brouilly from
Domaine Lapalu, meaty Régnié from Georges Descombes and the
inimitable Burgundian Morgons from Jean Foillard. Here be premier
and low yields using minimal sulphur. Gimme that Gamay!
LYON HEARTY CUISINE
The most obvious reason for Lyon’s reputation as a leading gastronomic centre of the world is that it is so well situated – it has access to
the very best food supplies. It is near “the Dauphine”, one of the first regions of France where potatoes were successfully cultivated (in
the seventeenth century); it is near the Charolais for beef, the farms of Bresse for poultry, the Auvergne for lamb, the lakes of the Dombes
and Bourget for carp and frogs, Savoy for mushrooms, and innumerable rivers for fish. And this is not a recent phenomenon, the result of
modern marketing. Before the end of the nineteenth century, travellers were already enchanted by the animated markets by the Saone.
Lyon sausages have always been famous. In an English cookbook of 1865, they were recommended for breakfast. Nowadays the best
sausages are made from leg of pork that has been stuffed into the rosette, the long pig’s gut measuring about twenty inches. The meat is
salted twenty-four hours before being cooked. To it are added small pieces of pork, taken from the firmest parts of the flesh that have
been soaked in marc (a spirit distilled from the skins and pips of grapes after the wine has been made) and pepper and other seasonings.
Another form of sausage is the andouillette, which in Lyon is a tripe sausage based on veal rather than pork. Edouard Herriot, who was
mayor of Lyon from 1905 to 1957, used to say that there were only two things that left an unmentionable taste in the mouth, politics and
andouillette, and it is perhaps because of this opinion that the Lyonnais started to use veal.
Look out too for the local salamis Jésus and rosette de Lyon. The most typical meat dish is pot au feu, a selection of boiled meats served
with leeks and mustard. More adventurous meat-lovers can try the unusual cervelas pistaché et truffé – sausages boiled in fat and dotted
with pistachios and truffles. Still further courage is needed to assay sabodet (pig’s head sausage) or other Lyonnais favourites such as
tablier de sapeur (tripe), gratins (fried pork fat) or crubeens (pig’s trotters). Delicious dishes include slabs of pâté wrapped in pastry (pâté
en croute), and those various aforementioned sausages for which the city is famous – including boudin blanc (veal sausage) and the air-
dried or boiled saucison de Lyon.
The potato was “the truffle of the poor,” and Stendhal claimed that in Lyon he discovered twenty different ways of cooking potatoes, at
least ten of which were unknown in Paris. In the neighbouring province of the Bourbonnais, where the potato is also abundant and
important in the diet of poor people, there is a potato dish called le paté de pommes de terre, which is known in the Lyonnais as pommes
de terre à la paté. (Vive la difference!)
Another popular local dish is quenelles (dumplings), which can be made from meat, fish, poultry or cheese, and are usually served with a
crayfish sauce. If you find that you have four quenelles on your plate, don’t announce the fact too loudly! For something less carnivorous
opt for a platter of freshwater crayfish (l’écrevisse), paillasson (fried hashed potatoes) or a Lyonnais salad, which will contain boiled eggs
and bacon pieces (well, a bit of meat).
Good local cheeses include the creamy blue-veined Bresse Bleu, Cervelle de Canuts, a soft cheese with herbs, and the soft goat’s cheese
Saint Marcellin. Finish off with a regional dessert – white nougat from Montélimar, marrons glacés (sweetened chestnuts) from the
Ardèche and Lyon’s speciality, rich chocolate cakes. That may finish you off.
Although Lyon looks south to the Rhône, its true partner-in-wine is Beaujolais (the local Côtes du Lyonnais wines are Gamay). A primeur
wine with that familiar slight prickle of gas is good to slug with fish and country salads as well as soft cheese. A Beaujolais-Villages
would suit a plate of charcuterie. Chiroubles and Brouilly, although fruity, still have sufficient weight and acidity to tackle dishes like
pig’s trotters. Régnié would also trough well with various parts of the pig, while an aromatic Fleurie will happily wash down equally
aromatic andouillette. Morgon, one of the more full-bodied and robust of the cru Beaujolais, could cope with game and beef. Overall the
Beaujolais wines are adaptable, juicy and fruity. Gamay may not hit great heights, but when you’re eating… simplicity is a friend to
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The constant intimate link with the land which makes him love and desire it with a passion such as you might feel for someone else’s wife
whom you care for and take in your arms but can never possess; that land which, after you have coveted it in such suffering for centuries,
you finally obtain by conquest and make your own, the sole joy and light of your life. And this desire which had been built up over the
centuries, this possession seemingly never to be achieved, explained his love for his own plot, his passion for land, the largest possible
amount of land, the rich, heavy lump of soil you can touch and weigh in your hand.
Emile Zola – The Earth
DOMAINE DU CALVAIRE DE ROCHE-GRES, DIDIER DESVIGNES, Morgon
Didier Desvignes is another grower who believes that great wines are produced from healthy and mature grapes. His
main aim, therefore, is to reduce the vigour of the vine, treat each parcel of vines according to its needs and practise a
strict green harvest. Manual harvest and selection allied to a respect for the equilibrium of the vines and the soil by
treatment with organic manures creates wines, which express a balance between the aromatic richness of the grape
variety and natural sugars and acidity. Traditional vinification techniques reflect the quality and character of each
parcel of grapes. For the Morgons greater extraction of material gives greater weight, intensity and capacity. For the
Chiroubles and Fleurie the objective is to create deliciously aromatic wines.
A delicious purple-robed wine throbbing with floral aromas – roses, irises and elderflowers – the Chiroubles is the
lightest and sweetest of the cru Beaujolais. The vineyard has a favourable east to south-east exposition on granitic
slopes. After a five to seven-day carbonic maceration the wine remains in tank before assemblage. The Fleurie (vines
on pink granite) is made in the same fashion with an extra couple of day’s maceration. A lovely nose of violets greets
you, whilst in the mouth pure finesse and suppleness leads to notes of mineral. This would flow throughout the meal
with bird of any feather- roast partridge stuffed with herbs might be one choice.
The Morgon, from a single vineyard with exceptional terroir, is ample and balanced with robust cherry and apricot
fruit. The Morgon wines, particularly the Charmes, will morgonner as the French would say, in other words, develop
slowly and uniquely, eventually taking on the characteristics and qualities of a red Burgundy. The vines grow on shale
with deposits of ferrous oxide and manganese sometimes called terre pourrie or rotten soil. The resultant wines
exhibit aromas of kirsch and fruit eaux de vie as well as subtler mineral characteristics inherited from the schistous
terroir. The expression “the fruit of Beaujolais, the charm of Burgundy” describes this à point. Another coup de cuvee
for this top grower.
FLEURIE – ½ bottle
MORGON PRESTIGE – ½ bottle
DOMAINE DE LA PLAIGNE, GILLES & CECILE ROUX, Beaujolais
“Beaujolais is nature with its fragrances, its light, its infinity, evening rest and morning enthusiasm.” Jules Chauvet
Consistently good wines with great depth of fruit and concentration from vineyards on sandy granitic soils. Gilles and
Cécile Roux harvest by hand with a strict selection ensuring wines of concentration.
The Beaujolais-Villages has very good colour and avoids the boiled sweets clichés being vivid crimson with blackberry and
cherry fruit. Plenty of wine here to tackle a steak, but best with fish such as pike and salmon with a sorrel sauce.
The Régnié, still a comparatively infant cru (albeit from 40-year-old vines), is very firm with compact tannins and needs
food. Blood sausage, if you are that way inclined, or Jambon persillé. Recently, we tried a bottle of the 1990 and swelp me
if we weren’t supping complex, aromatic Burgundy. So age that Beaujolais, but do remember that your investment can go
down as well as up.
BEAUJOLAIS-VILLAGES – ½ bottle
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Take the Foillards in Morgon, for example. Morgon is in the heart of the Beaujolais, and is as tumblingly pretty a winegrowing landscape
as you can find anywhere. Jean Foillard is one of the region’s greatest growers, and he has a big parcel of vines up on the Côte de Py,
whose iron-stained, ‘rotten’ (or crumbled) schist soils produce wines out of which regiments of cherries march like gleaming toy soldiers.
His wife, Agnès, has turned their rambling old farm into a warm, modern guesthouse where I stayed that night, eating, as darkness fell,
with her and the children. When we had tasted wine a little earlier, the children were playing in the courtyard; an old neighbour (the man
who organised the village band) had dropped in; other guests had arrived, tasted and talked about the wine, comparing it to others they
knew. Bordeaux, maybe... or a fresh red from Chinon... and what about Santenay?... or then there’s Poulsard from the Jura...
Their voices faded. I wrote in the book about the intense emotion Jean Foillard’s Morgon suddenly produced in me; what I didn’t write
about was how, at the same moment, I was suddenly hit by an overwhelming sense of rootedness. The Foillards seemed, for a few
moments, like their own vines, anchored in the Côte de Py, belonging to it, exploring it for a short lifetime, before their own children
arrived, and their children’s children, and so on, like another line of toy soldiers, marching off into the future.
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