Wine, Food & Drink Articles

Submit Your Article

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...

Read Article


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 ...

Read Article


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...

Read Article


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...

Read Article


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...

Read Article



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 ...

Read Article


What The Shah Of Iran Drank…

by Stuart George

Last year BBC4’s excellent “Storyville” series showed a film about “The 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire”, held by the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi 12th-16th October 1971, on the occasion of the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Imperial State of Iran and First Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. A client contacted me recently to say that they had a magnum bottle – empty, alas – of 1970 Dom Pérignon, “with (the Shah’s) ornate label on the back.” The client told me: “My father in law was the Shah of Iran’s physician at the Mayo Clinic. While doing our Covid 19 cleaning projects, we discovered a 1970 bottle of Dom Pérignon with his ornate label on the back.” Guests at the 1971 event included over sixty of the world’s kings, q...

Read Article


How Much Might The Romanée-conti Vineyard Be Worth? (clue: A Lot…)

by Stuart George

The source of the world’s most revered and expensive wine is unlikely to be sold but we can have a guess by using purported figures from the October 2017 sale of Clos de Tart to French billionaire François Pinault’s Groupe Artémis holding company, which also owns Château Latour and Christie’s. Clos de Tart is 7.5 hectare Grand Cru vineyard in Morey-St-Denis. “Le Point” reported, “la somme mise pour acquérir ce bijou dépasserait allègrement les 200 millions d’euros” (“the sum put to acquire this jewel would happily exceed 200 million euros”). Burgundy vineyards don’t come cheap. In May 2014, LVMH purchased Domaine des Lambrays lock, stock and barrique, which included the 8.7 hectare Grand Cru vineyard Clos des Lambrays, for €101 million, or €11,609,195 ...

Read Article


Château Haut-brion In London In The 17th Century: Best Drunk With Salads…

by Stuart George

It wasn’t just Samuel Pepys who was drinking Château Haut-Brion in London in the 17th century and then writing about it in their diary. Born in 1620, John Evelyn was 13 years older than Pepys. He began keeping a diary as a student in 1640 and stopped writing in 1706, the year he died. Evelyn was a prolific and spectacularly well-connected polymath who helped to plan the reconstruction of St Paul’s Cathedral. He briefly let his house in Deptford, southeast London, to Peter the Great and co-founded the Royal Society, while writing 30 books on subjects including politics, theology, and trees. His 1699 book Acetaria: A Discourse of Sallets is the first recorded book of salad recipes. More than 300 years before most people had heard of a plant-based diet, Evelyn was singing the p...

Read Article


Samuel Pepys And Wine: Teetotalism During A Pandemic

by Stuart George

On Friday 10 April 1663, Samuel Pepys – a senior administrator of the navy of England – wrote in his diary that he had that day been “Off the Exchange with Sir J. Cutler and Mr. Grant to the Royall Oak Tavern, in Lumbard Street, where Alexander Broome the poet was, a merry and witty man, I believe, if he be not a little conceited, and here drank a sort of French wine, called Ho Bryan, that hath a good and most particular taste that I never met with.” This is not the first recorded mention of Château Haut-Brion. It is mentioned as “Hobrionno” in the 1660 cellar book of King Charles II – which shows how reputed the wine was in England in the 17th century – and has been traced as far back as January 1521 in a document discovered in the Gironde Departmental Archives that ...

Read Article