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Oak In Wine

by Mary Ann Purtell

What does an "Oaked Wine" mean to the average consumer? Working for a large retail wine/liquor chain, I deal with interesting customers every day. When someone is searching for a chardonnay, the first thing you must determine is whether they like oaked or unoaked wine. What’s the difference between the two styles, you might ask? On the one hand, you can enjoy a classic Chablis that is crisp and lively with stone fruit, while on the other hand, oak will allow you to experience the round, creaminess of a Napa Valley Chardonnay. Simply put, oak is responsible for producing body, flavors, and aromas in chardonnay. When sipping a chardonnay, you might notice flavors of vanilla, pear, apple, melon, pineapple or even butter. That is oak doing its thing! The wine was aged in toasted barrels. Th...

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1810 Rumo Da India Madeira: An Historic Bottle Of Madeira Wine

by Stuart George

A while ago a colleague sent me some pictures of a an old bottle of Madeira that they’d “bought at a charity auction… No clues (about what it is) as it’s completely waxed and has maybe been redone.” Having stared intently at the photos of the label, and delved into my archives, I concluded that it was a bottle of 1810 Rumo da India Madeira. The Dutch East India Company used to pick up casks of Madeira wine and take them to India. The intense heat and constant movement of the ships had a profound effect on the wine and led to Madeira becoming a fortified wine that is heated in “estufas” (heated chambers or lofts) to replicate the conditions of the long journey south. This bottle is probably one of the very oldest surviving examples of Madeira wine that made the trip t...

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Niagara Wine Country, Ontario , Canada

by Sam Jonas

Our wine region is located between 40° and 44° North and situated in the heart of some of the world’s finest wine zone: example Burgundy France. It stretches across 17,000 acres; our vineyards are made up of complex limestone-based soils created by glaciers thousands of years ago. Niagara Wine Country comprises of 12 sub appellations from end-to-end throughout this entire region. The Topography for most of this region is lakeshore plains land, characterized by long, gentle slopes that become slightly more prominent in proximity to the north-facing Lake Iroquois Bluff. The gentle topography allows the entire region to enjoy generous sunlight exposure from early morning to late evening, which provides heat accumulation during the day and throughout the season, promoting an early start ...

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Does 1947 Château Cheval Blanc Escape The 25% Usa Wine Tariff...?

by Stuart George

As of Friday 13th March 2020, the USA’s 25% tariffs on imports of French, Spanish, and German still wines under 14% alcohol remain in place. Most, if not all, of Arden’s classic wines have less than 14% alcohol so we cannot dodge the tariff. However, it is not always stated or known what the alcohol level of old wines are. For example, it has been claimed that some of the grapes that contributed to Château Mouton Rothschild 1945 – of which we have sold a bottle from the cellar of Faringdon House – produced must at 15% alcohol. But the overall alcohol content of this exceptional wine is probably lower, and probably less than 14%. Older Bordeaux and Burgundy wines – up to the early-1980s, perhaps – frequently had alcohol levels of 11%-12.5%. Wines that achieved high ...

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Samuel Pepys’ Diary: 1665 Plague Vs. 2020 Coronavirus...

by Stuart George

The English diarist Samuel Pepys noted on Friday 10th April 1663 a visit to the “Royall Oak Tavern, in Lumbard Street… and here drank a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan (Haut-Brion), that hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with.” Two years after Pepys enjoyed drinking Château Haut-Brion at the Royall Oak Tavern, London was ravaged by The Great (Bubonic) Plague, which was transmitted by fleas that lived on rats. Coronavirus cannot compare to the deadly bubonic plague, but it is possible to see parallels between 1665 and 2020 from Pepys’ diary, as highlighted by Gavin Mortimer in a recent article. (The 1665 Plague is also chronicled in Daniel Defoe’s 1772 novel A Journal of the Plague Year.) On 30th April, Pepys wrote in his diary, “Great fear...

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Buying In Bond | Château Mouton Rothschild And 007

by Stuart George

James Bond (played by Roger Moore) enjoys 1934 Château Mouton Rothschild in the company of Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), served by Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) at lunch with Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) in The Man With The Golden Gun. Mouton 1934 comes from the best (and largest) vintage of an otherwise difficult decade for Bordeaux. With the possible exception of Cheval Blanc, Mouton is the best of the ’34s. Described by the late Michael Broadbent MW as “Lovely and – for Mouton – relatively low-keyed”. This vintage of Mouton comes from the era before its bespoke artist labels and only a year before the Comité National des Appellations d’Origine was created to manage and control the region and commune in which a wine was produced. An Art Deco label was ...

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Buying In Bond: 007 And Château Cheval Blanc

by Stuart George

In Never Say Never Again (1983), James Bond – played for the final time by Sean Connery – drinks a bottle of Château Cheval Blanc from a well-stocked hamper (in bed, with a friend – exactly how wine should be enjoyed). www.jamesbondlifestyle.com says, “Unfortunately the year of the wine can’t be seen clearly. It looks like 1982, the year before the movie was made, but it could also be a different year.” Filming of Never Say Never Again began on 27th September 1982. Cheval Blanc is aged in barrels for 18 months or so, so the earliest vintage that could appear in the film is 1980 – perhaps the best wine of an underwhelming vintage at the beginning of a golden decade for Bordeaux. Cheval 1979 and 1978 are also good wines. Indeed, Cheval was good throughout the 1970s, w...

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Downton Abbey And Fine Wines

by Stuart George

In my early days in the wine trade (far too many years ago) I was responsible for “Delivery Enquiries” (= van driver). Among the company’s clients was the 7th Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, well-known as the fictional setting of the historical drama series Downton Abbey. Never having seen Downton Abbey – because I have not owned a television for over 20 years – I was told that there were wine references in the programmes. Downton Abbey’s creator and co-writer Julian Fellowes is known to be a wine enthusiast. When interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in November 2011 he was asked – as all Desert Island Discs guests are – what would be their luxury good of choice to take with them to a desert island. Fellowes’ answer was: “Two enor...

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Buying In Bond: 007 And Château Angélus

by Stuart George

Château Angélus appeared in the James Bond movies Casino Royale (2006) and Spectre (2015). In Casino Royale, Angélus – apparently the 1982 vintage but my eyesight is not that good – is seen while Bond (played by Daniel Craig) dines with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in a railway dining car on his way to the Casino Royale in Montenegro. Angélus 2005 – still beyond my eyesight – is featured in Spectre (again on a train) when Bond dines with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). The de Boüard de Laforest family that owns Angélus has been there for seven generations, with roots in Saint-Émilion going back to 1564. Until the mid 1980s, L’Angélus (it became plain Angélus in 1990, to place it under “A” rather than “L” in computerized lists) was a well-regarded Saint-Ém...

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Desert Island Discs – And Wines

by Stuart George

I mentioned in previous dispatches that Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes‘ “luxury choice” on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs was “two enormous casks of Château Margaux”. Guests on Desert Island Discs are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island, and choose eight recordings, a book, and a “luxury” (which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside) to take with them. Wine has been a popular choice for castaways over the years. Château Margaux was also chosen by the Russian ballerina Natalia Makarova when she guested in 1984. Unlike Fellowes, she chose a specific vintage: the great 1961. Specific wine or vintage requests like this are uncommon. However, General Sir John Hackett chose ...

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