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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Slow Cooked Breast of Lamb - And a Pinot Noir

Slow Cooked Breast of Lamb, Pickled Red Onion, Mint Crème Fraiche and Spring Vegetables Created by Le Cordon Bleu, London to enjoy with Louis Latour Les Pierres Dorées Pinot Noir

Serves 4

Slow cooking the breast of lamb makes for a tender texture; here it is marinated and slow cooked in duck fat creating a rich flavour which is complemented the sweet-pickled onions and finished with green spring vegetables and a refreshing minty crème fraiche.

Slow cooked breast of lamb
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
finely chopped rosemary leaves
10 g Maldon sea salt, 
500 g lamb breast off the bone, duck fat to cover (about 1 kg)
150 g flour
2 eggs beaten
500 g Panko breadcrumbs 

Mix garlic, rosemary and Maldon sea salt to combine and rub into the lamb. Leave in fridge for 3 to 6 hours. Wash lamb with cold water to remove the salt mixture and pat dry. Melt duck fat in a pan over a low heat. Place the lamb in a deep oven proof dish and pour over the warm duck fat and cook in oven at 150˚C for 3 hours until soft and tender. Allow lamb to cool before removing from fat. Roll the lamb tightly in clingfilm to make a cylindrical tube shape. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, until firm. Slice the lamb into 8 equal sized disks. Coat lamb in a thin layer of flour, then beaten eggs and finally breadcrumbs. Season and refrigerate until required.

Pickled red onion 
10 g granulated sugar
20 ml red wine vinegar
30 ml water
1 thyme sprig
1 red onion peeled and thinly sliced

Put sugar, vinegar, water and thyme in a pan and bring to a boil. Add onion and continue to boil for another minute. Remove from heat, lid pan and leave to infuse. When cool remove the red onion and discard the liquid.

Mint crème fraiche
50 g mint washed and finely chopped
200 g crème fraiche

Mix mint with crème fraiche and season. Set aside.

Spring vegetables
12 asparagus spears peeled
100g broad beans
100g peas
60g lambs lettuce washed
½ bunch French breakfast radish thinly sliced lengthways
20 g butter

Bring salted water to a boil in a saucepan and cook each vegetable separately so they retain a ‘bite’, around 3 minutes for asparagus, 2 minutes for broad beans and 1 minute for peas. Drain, refresh and set aside. Pod broad beans from their skins. Set aside with lambs lettuce and radish.

To serve: Heat oven to 200˚C. Cook lamb for around 20 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy. Reheat asparagus, peas and broad beans in a pan with butter and a tablespoon of water. Season to taste. On each plate, arrange warm vegetables, with two discs of lamb (per person), and top with radish slices, lambs lettuce and pickled onions. Finish with dots of mint crème fraiche.

Monday, 26 April 2021

The CWB Non-Burgundy French Pinot-Off

Two French Pinots that are not Burgundies

Burgundy will tell you that Pinot Noir is fickle, pale, elegant and expensive.

While all of this is true to a greater or lesser extent, other parts of France will invite you try Pinot's charms more reliably and more affordably.

There was a time when it was only Burgundy's white grape, Chardonnay, that had successfully gone around the world and become everyone's favourite "glass of white".

Now, increasingly, the red Pinot Noir is finding more areas to its liking - even if, being thin-skinned, prone to disease, and liking only cooler climates, it is never an easy grape to grow.

Its thin skin means paler, softer wines and this perhaps explains its popularity; with low colour and tannins, it occupies something of a middle ground between red wines and white in much the same way as other popular styles, such as rosé or kiwi Sauvignon.

Food-friendly yet easy-drinking, approachable in youth but with the potential to age, Pinot seemingly has it all.

These two Pinots are both from non-Burgundy France, and specifically from warmer climates than the Côte-d'Or.

They have more alcohol, colour and depth than many a red Burgundy - and a much lower price tag.

Calmel & Joseph Le Domaine Le Sentier 2019, Pays d’Oc, France (£14) ripe black cherry fruit with raspberry, spice and something slightly herbaceous; fresh and savoury with very fine but persistent tannins. Well-made, precise and elegant.

Improves with some aeration.


Match with tuna tartare or roast duck.

Calmel & Joseph say of their wine: An appealingly cherry red. Aromas of red and black fruit and pomegranate seeds announce a wine of great freshness and superb tension. An impression confirmed in the mouth that opens with fresh summer fruits such as wild cherry and finishes on more spicy, peppery and floral notes. A poised and magnificently balanced wine.

Louis Latour Pinot Noir Les Pierres Dorée (£20-22, Whitebridge Wines, Bakers and Larners of Holt, Mr Wheeler, La Zouch and The Drink Shop.com)

Les Pierres Dorées, (‘golden stones’) is a small sub-region of Beaujolais about 40km north west of Lyon, often referred to as ‘Little Tuscany’ thanks to its steep hills and landscape dotted with golden stone buildings.

The soils here are clay and limestone, very similar to those found in Burgundy. The vineyards are planted at the same altitude as Burgundy, so the grapes can ripen, yet retain their critical, natural acidity. This very specific terroir, coupled with ample sunshine, a warm climate and cool night-time temperatures give the wine its incredible aromatic complexity when vinified with Maison Louis Latour’s signature elegance.

Dark for a Pinot, with a complex, toasty nose of roasted spices and dark fruits; elderberry and dark plum with oaky spice and mint; cassis and cherry fruit; grippy and persistent. Savoury and complex with a full mid-palate.


Improves significantly with aeration and will repay some cellaring.

Match with slow-cooked breast of lamb - recipe here: The Cambridge Wine Blogger: Slow Cooked Breast of Lamb - And a Pinot Noir

Louis Latour says of this wine: The calcareous soil rich in iron oxide which confers him a very particular ochre color, as well as altitude, contribute to produce this surprising wine which associates richness and freshness with a beautiful aromatic complexity. Bright and intense red colour with red-garnet lights.

On the nose, we discover a gourmet blend of flowers, red berries and soft spices. On the palate, it is crunchy, round and ample. The Pinot Noir from the Pierres Dorées terroir off ers a wine with a great freshness, underlined by concentrated black fruits aromas with a superb length. 

Vinification notes This region offers beautiful argilo-calcareous soils, the plots selected by Maison Louis Latour form two islands and are situated on the villages of Morancé and Theizé. With a continental moderate climate, vineyards benefit from an ideal period of sunshine but the temperatures are relatively fresh between 280 and 400 meters in altitude. Traditional vinification. 10 to 12 months ageing stainless steel vats and oak barrels  

Pro reviews of  Les Pierres Dorées:

JancisRobinson.com (2016) - 16 pts Sweet red fruit and a good herby note – great flavour definition here, and it finishes with fragrant floral character. Light and short, but satisfies the Pinot flavour criteria. (RH)

Wine Spectator (2015) - 88 pts Balanced and fresh, with cherry, ground spice and currant notes, this medium-bodied red shows undertones of mineral and herb through the tangy, lightly tannic finish. Drink now through 2020

James Suckling (2016) - 89 pts An attractively light and charming pinot noir with some nice, warm and dry tannins. There is also friendly acidity for this often-tart category. Drink now or in 2019. 

Pro reviews of  Le Sentier

Jancis Robinson  (18/03/2020) Certified organic. Single vineyard. From their own property. Smells like cherry pie and stick cinnamon. Dry but ripe. Tannins like a comfortable cup of proper builder’s tea. Neither too much nor too little. Touch of green in the flavour (not the texture). Light-bodied, neat, pointed on the finish. Exceptionally good for a Pays d'Oc Pinot. Tamlyn Currin 16.0 / 20

Jamie Goode: Organically farmed Pinot Noir. Aromatic cherry fruit nose with some cedar and spice notes. The palate is supple and sweetly fruited with plums and berries, a touch of raspberry, and some savoury cedar spice notes. It’s nicely balanced with some savoury grip on the finish. Amazing to have a Pinot Noir this fresh and balanced from a warm climate. Lovely weight, finishing dry and grippy. 91/100 (£14 UK retail)

Highlights: high-end wines from Calmel & Joseph – wineanorak.com

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Three More Wines from Vineyard Productions

Three more wines from Vineyard Productions

For Part #1 see here.

When you start to take more than a casual interest in wine, one of the first questions is often: how do I find good wines?

Masters of Wine have some of the best-trained palates in the world, so are a reliable guide to what is considered good in wine.

You don't have to agree with them, of course - preferences are highly personal. But it's a good idea to learn the rules before you can break the rules.

These three wines from Vineyard Productions all have something of a house style or family resemblance; beyond being merely well-made and adept, they have a food-friendly mid-palate savouriness from extended lees aging.

This is not, I'm told, a Vineyard Productions identikit approach, but rather just one of tools in founder Liam Steevenson's toolkit.

Liam grew up in the wine trade and was the youngest person to qualify as a Master of Wine; with an ambition to make wine but no actual vineyards, he set up a series of partnerships with various winemakers to make small amounts of wine using their grapes.

The plan was to start with very small quantities and deliver a proof of principle; if the wine worked and sold well, he would then seek to make it in larger quantities the following year. He now makes wines all over the world from Languedoc to New Zealand via Portugal, Spain and even India.

Here is Cornwall Wine Merchant Mike Boyne of Two Bin Padstow discussing one of Liam's wines.

He also stocks 

Céu na Terra Alvarinho 2019 (around £17)

Expressive Alvarinho from the inland part of Portugal's Vinho Verde area, this is closer in style to a kiwi Sauvignon blanc; fuller bodied with some skin contact for gentle tannins and lees aging for depth, it is fresh and zippy.

It is made by Quinta de Santiago just inside the Portuguese border from grapes grown on clay (for fruit) with a mixture of Atlantic climate (for freshness) and some continental influence (for ripeness).

Aromatic and complex nose with zesty tropical fruits, lemon curd and brioche; full, supple and refreshing with lemongrass, lime marmalade and savoury, saline minerality.

Very Good.

Drinks nicely on first pouring but can be aged for several years.

Fresh enough for an aperitif, it will match with white meat and herbs: pork terrine, monkfish in broth or Moules marinière

Fincher & Co. The Dividing Line Sauvignon Blanc, 2018 (around £20)

Hand picked, straight to barrel feral ferment and left until November - then a blend selection is taken place and prepped for bottling in February

The wines shows quite dramatic funk and citrus notes with underlying exotic fruits and floral tones.

The extended time on natural lees give the wine an unexpected texture as well as a deliciously nutty character. A full bodied style of Sauvignon Blanc with a dried herbal edge, vibrant acidity and a long, persistent finish

 Herbal and citrussy with signature kiwi pungency and ripe exotic fruits; textured, mineral and crisp yet broad with a nutty complexity and a dried herbal edge. Full and supple, precise and persistent. Very clean and pure.

Very Good.

Match with grilled fish especially squid or swordfish. Dishes with herbs and greens - salmon with dill, for instance, but great with recipes that contain basil, coriander, rocket and especially mint. Salads with goats cheese and feta, asparagus, avocado or grilled red peppers, fresh tomato salads or salads with fennel, mango or papaya

El Garbi Blanco Terra Alta 2019 (around £24)

Grenache blanc from high sites in north eastern Spain near the Mediterranean coast.

Rich and textured with apricot, golden apple and sweet spice; toasted brioche, fennel and aniseed with a long lingering finish; full and supple.

Very Good.

Pairs with a diverse range of food flavours, particularly suited to richly spiced dishes especially those containing cumin. Try with chicken satay, Chinese 5-spice sea bass, tempura shrimp, lobster, Moroccan tagine, roasted pork shoulder or creamy cheeses.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Three Mature Wines (and some food)

A 1983 German Riesling, a 2014 NZ Riesling, a 2012 Rhône and a take-away restaurant meal

A neighbour was moving house and asked if I had any surplus wine packaging going spare; in return for a few cartons retrieved from the recycling, he proffered a bottle from the cellar, with the warning "It's a bit Madeirised, but hopefully OK".

I decided I had got the better end of the bargain and decided to put it up against another aged Riesling and some food from Alex Rushmer's Vanderlyle.

Opening the wine was surprisingly easy, if somewhat unconventional; applying the corkscrew, the cork slipped down the neck of the bottle irretrievably, so I pushed it all the way in then fetched a decanter-plus-tea-strainer and out it poured.

What else to pair with an aged Riesling but another aged Riesling?

Peter Ranscombe had recently tipped a 2014 Marlborough Riesling from Aldi and I'd been intrigued enough to buy a few bottles.

Freeman’s Bay Marlborough Riesling 2014 (£7.99, Aldi) sealed under screwcap, it has not evolved as much as a similarly priced and similarly aged Mosel Riesling from The Co-op.

Honeysuckle, citrus and a hint of petrol, zippy and fresh with lime marmalade and a slatey mineral thrill; falls away quickly but mineral-persistent on the finish. Thoroughly pleasant and off-the-beaten-track.

Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker Riesling Spatlese 1983 golden topaz in colour, or Earl Grey tea, with aromas of bruised apple, a touch of old leather and some cellar mustiness but nothing approaching diesel or kerosene.

On the palate, stone fruit and citrus with toasted brazil nut and cashew, sultanas, beurre noisette and savoury, caramelised butterscotch; sweet-sour, saline-mineral and long. A well-knitted, complex and harmonious mass of wonderful contradictions; starts sweet and finishes dry, mellow yet energetic, fruited but savoury, oxidised yet fresh.

Very Good.

Drink as an aperitif or match with lighter game or mushrooms.

Domaine de Fontbonau Cotes-du-Rhone 2012 (£12.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants) Alex had suggested a gutsy Malbec to go with his main course, a multi-stage, two-day chili, so I picked out this warming, mature red.

A bin-end, fire-sale wine that had been destined for the restaurant trade; I bought several cases of this, and also sent a bottle to Peak District-based PR Francesca Gaffey as part of Dan Kirby's twitter wineswap.

Mature Rhônes are somewhat unusual as they tend to be consumed young, but this is ripe yet savoury, intense and supple with very fine tannins.

The Food - Vanderlyle

Vanderlyle and MJP@TheShepherds are the Blur and Oasis of the Cambridge Dining Scene; Alex was a Masterchef finalist and Mark has held a Michelin Star.


Rapeseed oil focaccia with blackened salsa; tomatoes and roasted chili, with cardamom and fennel seeds. Warm the bread, dip into the salsa; more amuse bouche than starter but very well-made.


Carlin Pea & Morita Pepper Chili
Aged Cheddar Mac 'n' Cheese
Braised Spring Greens

Spicy-savoury and rich; it took a few mouthfuls before we realised it was vegetarian (or at least meat-free); appropriately hearty and warming for a late-spring chill.


Orange Poppyseed & Olive Oil Pudding Custard

More a light cake than a pudding, the most adept and elegant part of the meal.

With coffee

Vanderlyle "Black & White Biscuit"

A homemade Oreo - but so much better.

Footnotes: Deidesheim is a small, highly prestigious wine-growing village in Germany's Pfalz wine region. It is best known for its Riesling, which is by far the dominant variety here. Like other Pfalz wines, Riesling made here is fuller-bodied and richer than most other German Riesling, thanks to the region's relatively warm, dry climate.

Most Deidesheimer Rieslings are trocken (dry). Situated just a few miles north of Neustadt town, Deidesheim lies right at the heart of Pfalz's top vineyard area. The village and its vineyards sit at the foot of the Haardt mountain range, giving them a much-prized easterly aspect and sheltered position. This, combined with the rain shadow cast by the peaks above, makes for a warmer, brighter and drier macroclimate than those a few miles away.

Jancis Robinson says of the 2009 vintage of this wine:

Georg Mosbacher, Deidesheimer Hergottsacker Riesling Spätlese trocken 2009 Pfalz 17 Drink 2011-2014

100% Riesling from Weingut Georg Mosbacher, a family-owned estate with nearly 45 acres of vineyards in the picturesque wine village of Forst, in Germany's Pfalz region. Vines are planted on clay sand with a high percentage of stones. The grapes were hand-picked and fermented with temperature control at 18°C with selected yeast in stainless-steel tanks. Bottled in May 2010.

Winemaker Juergen Dueringer. TA 7.1 g/l, RS 3.1 g/l.

Great to see a supermarket bothering with top-quality Germans! Honeyed nose. Very broad peppery palate. Lovely well-balanced stuff that is already drinking well and is chock full of fruit but not sugar. Really good! 13% £16.99 Waitrose (8 stores)

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Six Wines from Daniel Lambert - Part #2/3

Two more wines from Daniel Lambert - whites from France

See here for part #1 of this review.

Both these whites from Daniel Lambert are somewhat unusual in their own way and carry a certain amount of bragging rights if you like off-the-beaten track bottles.

That said, you could also just enjoy them for being inherently good wines as well.

Fabien Murail Le Clos des Chaumes, Fiefs Vendeens Blanc, 2020

Fiefs Vendeens is the region - a small zone in Vendee close to the west coast of France south of Nantes. Mareuil is the sub-region, some 20 miles inland from the coast.

In practice, this means a maritime climate with a bit more warmth than, say, Muscadet country but the freshness of the Atlantic. It also allows for a wider range of grape varieties;  Chenin Blanc (minimum of 50 percent), Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, plus Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet grape) and Grolleau Gris 

The region was officially created only in 1984, but winemaking here dates back to Roman times and covers red, white and rosé wines.

Winemaker Fabien Murail uses a blend of 60% chenin blanc and 40% chardonnay for this Le Clos des Chaumes.

Floral with honeysuckle and white flowers; yellow stone fruits, ripe orchard fruits and fresh, citrussy pineapple; full and supple with a saline minerality. 


A versatile food wine, match with richer dishes such as roast pork or monkfish in beurre blanc.

This would also be a great wine wine to serve blind and see if anyone can guess the blend or region.

Calmel & Joseph Le Domaine Le Penchant 2019

I have been a fan of Calmel & Joseph's Languedoc wines for some time now and it was their Malbec that first led me to importer Daniel Lambert.

Calmel & Joseph is a "maison de négoce" specializing in Languedoc-Roussillon wines from across the region. Over the years, they have built close personal relationships with a large number of growers from all appellations. Convinced of the extraordinary potential of this region, oenologist, Laurent Calmel along with Jerome Joseph work together on the vinification, blending and ageing of wines with the common purpose of demonstrating the little known yet unique quality of these Mediterranean terroirs 

The wine's name does not tell you, but it is a varietal Roussanne. This is important because varietal Roussanne is somewhat uncommon with a distinctive flavour profile.

The chances are that if you have ever had Roussanne, it was probably in a white northern-Rhône blend, possibly a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Despite being a warm-climate grape, its flavours of white fruits and fresh herbs suggest something more northerly. The richness comes via almond flavours, which develop towards greater nuttiness as the wine ages, and finally there is some minty-liquorice which is more commonly found in red wines.

So, what foods match with this unusual combination of flavours?

The view of various somms is to match the dominant herbal-aniseed notes with tarragon or fennel, so think roast chickenchicken and tarragon salad with parmesan, pork with fennel or for vegetarians, curry-spiced cauliflower steak.

Delicate white flowers and white stone fruit; orchard fruits, honeysuckle and fresh herbs with creamy-almondy-savoury richness and minty liquorice. Fresh, concentrated and saline. Delicate yet intense.

Improves with aeration and will repay cellaring.


Jancis Robinson writer Tamlyn Currin says of this wine:

Deeply fragrant, inviting, yellow blossom and nectarines with a trace of honeysuckle that pulls through to the palate like a golden thread. Ripe white-peach fruit flaring fan-like across the mouth, beautifully juicy and fresh, with the added delicacy of chamomile flowers. Fennel-seed crunch and edge towards the finish. Really gorgeous, with potential to become interesting with a bit of age.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Around The World in Viognier

Been around the world and I, I, I
I can't find my baby

- Lisa Stansfield, 1989

Not that long ago, you would be hard pushed to find a Viognier; it had become almost extinct by the 1960s and was mostly limited to some rarefied - and pricey - whites in the northern Rhône.

Condrieu is its spiritual home, but this low-yielding, sensitive but warmth-loving grape has been around the world making a comeback and now even has its own day, International Viognier Day, on 30th April 2021.

If you have yet to get to know her, expect ginger, stone fruit, white peaches, apricots, white pepper and exotic star anise character from Viognier. She is is a low acid wine, full-bodied like Chardonnay but with a more aromatic character.

Helena Nicklin describes Viognier as a tropical Sun Goddess.

Here are five Viogniers from around the world with tasting notes and food matching suggestions from their producers.


Samuel’s Collection Eden Valley Viognier 2017, (£17.99 Taurus Wines, winedirect.co.uk, vinvm.co.uk, auswineonline.co.uk, Yorke Vines, Liquorice Wines, Flagship Wines)

Yalumba is one of the most influential producers and world leaders of Viognier. In 1980, when other Barossa wineries were planting Chardonnay, Yalumba planted the first significant plantings of Viognier in Australia, on the elevated slopes of the Eden Valley. This wine honours Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith. It is spicy, with stone fruit characters, richness and softness.

The 2017 vintage is a blend of grapes from six vineyards, 60% barrel fermented in old hogsheads and the rest in stainless steel. The juice passively interacts with air creating a perfect environment for the natural yeast to do their job before maturing on the lees for 10 months. Over time, the wine will continue to develop in the bottle where it will develop honey flavours and toasty complexity.

The richness and the spice in the Viognier bring out flavours and textures in food, and this one pairs particularly well with spicy and rich dishes. Try with a wild mushroom and thyme risotto.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2020, (£9.49 Majestic, Asda, Morrison’s, The Co-op)

When Louisa Rose, joined Yalumba in 1992, she took the variety under her wing. All Yalumba Viogniers are fermented using wild yeasts which come in with the grapes when they are picked. The wild yeasts add extra character and complexity to the wines.

A pure expression of the variety, Yalumba Y Series Viognier is made with as little intervention as possible and a commitment to ‘getting it right’ in the vineyard and first stages of the winemaking process.

A delicious young wine to enjoy with food to show its true credentials; an incredible food wine pairing particularly well with spicy and rich dishes such as a Sri Lankan vegetable or chicken curry.


Louis Latour Ardèche Viognier 2018, (around £15 from Dickens House Wine Emporium, Il Vino, Worsley Wines, winedirect.co.uk)

A beautifully crafted Viognier from Louis Latour who produce fine Burgundian wines. In the 80’s they stepped outside their traditional wine making region and after great success with Chardonnay in the Ardèche, in 2007, they began to make wines with Viognier, a grape that has long been grown in the region.

The Viognier grapes are planted on steeper hillsides than the Chardonnay and are hand-picked and vinified at Louis Latour's modern winery on the outskirts of the village of Alba-la-Romaine.

30% aged in French oak barrels from Latour’s cooperage in Beaune, giving the wine a roundness and slightly spicy edge. The remaining 70% is matured entirely in stainless steel.

The resulting wine is elegant offering notes of apricot, honey and hints of fresh almonds and is a joy as an aperitif or alongside Duck terrine with chestnuts or with a simple plate of charcuterie.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2019, (£12-£14.75, Tesco, North & South Wines, Clifton Cellars, Amps Fine Wines, Amazon)

Guigal is one of the most famous Rhône producers, where white wine production accounts for just 6%, yet 25% of all Guigal’s wine production is white wines.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc is a blend of 60% Viognier (unusually high for white Côtes du Rhône) with Roussane, Marsanne and others to make this the most captivating Rhône white. Guigal source the best grapes from vineyards in the Southern Rhône and the average vine age is 25 years old.

The dominant presence of Viognier in this wine gives it a wonderful density and  freshness marked with peachy fruit and blossomy honey. Drink as an aperitif, with starters lightly spiced or curried dishes.


Viu Manent Secret Viognier  2018 (around £14, Great Grog, Chester Wine and Beer, Albury Wine Store, La Zouch, The Wine Chambers, Flagship Wines)

The predominant grape in this wine is Viognier. The ‘secret’ is that up to 15% of the blend in this range are ‘other varieties’ which can vary each year depending on weather conditions. The grapes for the Viu Manent Secret Viognier 2018 come from the family-owned San Carlos vineyard in Colchagua valley, where the average age of the vines is 17 years.

Here the warm days, cool nights and moderating breezes from the Andes and the Pacific Ocean provide perfect conditions. The grapes are hand-picked, whole bunch pressed, fermented with native natural yeasts and vinified in stainless steel with no oak, resulting a wine that is fresh and complex with delicious notes of pineapple, white peach, pear and subtle floral notes.

It’s super-versatile when it comes to pairing with different dishes, enjoy it with all manner of stews, turkey, grilled chicken, sweet and sour chicken, fish, such as salmon or tuna or a seafood risotto.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Six Wines From Daniel Lambert - Part 1

Six wines from UK wine merchant Daniel Lambert

I don't generally do politics here; I leave that for conversations around the watercooler or over the dinner table.

But it is impossible to talk about Daniel Lambert Wines without mentioning the eponymous owner's recent campaign to raise awareness of the additional red tape faced by wine importers since Brexit.

Like science, The Virus and Marcus Rashford, Daniel Lambert can be credited with pretty much single-handedly forcing the UK government into one of its regular U-turns. In his case it involved an obscure but costly and pointless bureaucratic document called the Vi-1.

Take away the technical details and you can read this as just another example of the lie that was Brexit coming to light. Or you can see one man's struggle on  behalf of an entire sector for common sense and pragmatism to prevail over simplistic, jingoistic state-sponsored gaslightling.

Opinionated and not afraid to speak truth to power, Daniel is a man after my own heart.

He also sells some superb wines.

I know this because he imports a Calmel and Joseph Languedoc Malbec that I liked a lot.

I discovered that that wine was not merely a fluke when I subsequently tasted my way round his portfolio in London, just prior to lockdown.

As I noted at the time, there was nothing I didn't like; all the wines were at least Good, and many were much better than that (David Kermode's take is here).

After a twitter exchange, Daniel sent me a selection of his wines to try. I started with a Spanish Chardonnay and an Austrian red.

Enate Chardonnay 234, Somontano, Spain

An area in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Jancis Robinson describes Somontano as "another Spanish wine region worthy of international attention". More specifically, she characterises it as a small and growing region, potentially one of Spain's most exciting, even if much of its produce tends to be fashioned in the image of international classics. She singles out producer Enate, saying that they make some fine reds and whites from imported grape varieties.

Tasted blind, you'd be forgiven for having no idea where this wine comes from; it has a warm-climate topicality and breadth with a European complexity and elegance. It hints at the perfumed richness of Alsace with the waxiness of the Rhône.

Floral and aromatic with tropical citrus fruits and toasty leesiness; pineapple, melon and passionfruit with fennel, ginger and warming sweet spices; savoury, leesy and waxy with just enough freshness to hold everything together. Very clean, pure and long.


Match with rich, Alsace-style dishes such as pork with creamy sauce or mature hard cheeses.

Weingut Pfaffl Plum St Laurent, Lower Austria

Austrian whites were my first love, but I am a more recent convert to the country's reds. Where the whites are austere and structured, the reds are generally delicate and juicy. Think Chablis vs Beaujolais.

St Laurent is a signature Austrian red grape along with the more well-known Blaufraenkisch; while both grapes are Pinot-esque, this St Laurent is more Gamay than Burgundian.

Dark purple with cherry and custard aromas; juicy and spicy with black cherries and dark-plummy fruit, pencil shavings, inkiness and spice with some florality; juicy and fresh with a gentle firmness and good savoury underpinnings.


Fresh and versatile, an easy quaffer or picnic wine with the freshness for tuna tartare, mixed anti-pasti or roast chicken.