Stuart George

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

Worcester Sauce named as one of the UK’s top ten wine blogs

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2010 at 11:03 am

To my great surprise and pleasure, the media monitoring company Cision has named Worcester Sauce in its list of the UK’s top ten wine blogs.

The report can be seen here.

Thanks to everyone who has supported this blog!

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Bougros Woogie: William Fèvre Chablis 2008-1998

In Tastings on June 10, 2010 at 10:44 am

Yesterday afternoon (9 June) the London wine merchant Bordeaux Index hosted a short five-wine vertical of Domaine William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Cru Bougros, spanning 2008 to 1998.

Fèvre is one of the great names of Chablis, with a history stretching back over 250 years and (I believe) the largest single ownership of Grands Crus vineyards – just over 15 hectares, which represents 15% of total Grands Crus plantings, which themselves are only 2% of all Chablis production.

In the 1980s William Fèvre was a vocal champion of Chablis terroir, insisting that the wine could be made only on the Kimmeridgean chalk soil for which the region is famed. He condemned those that insisted on wider geographical boundaries, such as Jean Durup, as parvenus.

Yet perversely Fèvre made his wines with a lot of new oak, which completely overwhelmed any sense of Chablis minerality that might have been there in the first place. I never could reconcile his pro-terroir / pro-new oak stance.

The use of oak has been toned down in recent years, however. Didier Seguier became winemaker chez Fèvre in 1998, which is where our tasting began.

The Bougros vineyard is the north-west bookend of the Chablis Grands Crus, with mainly clay soil that tends to produce wines of density and richness.

I have been to Chablis only once so I am no expert on this!

2008

Quite fat for a Chablis, with waxy, oak-influenced flavours. Generous and approchable. Now to 2015?

2007

Fresher on the nose than the 2008 and better acidity on the palate. Superior length, too. Now to 2017?

2003

Not as flabby as one might expect of a cool-climate wine from this notoriously scorched year, but the nose seemed a bit oxidative to me… Potent finish, though – long. Now to 2015?

2000

Much more backwards than the previous wines and the most Chablisienne, with some green apple flavours and waves of acidity on the finish. 2012 to 2020?

1998

Taut, as proper Chablis should be! Long and clean, with acidity as sharp as a hatchet. 2013 to 2025?

It was rather perverse that the older wines had the most acidity and the strongest Chablis character. I wonder if the more recent wines will age as well as this 1998, which is a relatively indifferent vintage, and the 2000.

Cecchi nowt: Identità London 2010

In Restaurants/wine and food on June 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I spent lunchtime today (7 June) at Vinopolis, where the Italian wine journalist Filippo Bartolatta hosted a tasting of Cecchi wines with Andrea and Cesare Cecchi.

The tasting was a showcase for the launch of Cecchi’s new Supertuscan wine Coevo IGT Toscana 2006, half of which is Sangiovese, with the rest Cabernet Sauvignon (of course!), Merlot and Petit Verdot. As one might predict from its blend, Coevo “has no style but is all style”, as C.B. Fry said of Victor Trumper. A good drink but utterly soulless.

The other recent wines shown – 2007 Il Boschetto, 2007 Poggio al Leone, 2008 Val di Toro and 2009 La Sughera – were in much the same vein: fleshy, some tannin, warming alcohol and moderate length.

However, the 1988 Il Boschetto and 1989 La Gavina Cabernet Sauvignon were much more interesting. The Sangiovese in purezza of Il Boschetto had faded into oxidation, with more acidity than anything else on the palate. Although made from Cabernet, La Gavina was very similar to Il Boschetto, hearteningly evoking the smells and flavours of Tuscany rather than of Cabernet.

The ’89 showed even better when Massimo Bottura of Modena’s Osteria Francescana showed us a few of his dishes. This man is a genius, an Italian Heston Blumenthal. The five dishes we tasted with him were magnificent. I’m no chef and much of what he said was over my head – I can’t type that quickly, anyway.

First up was a panino di mortadella, in which Massimo had somehow turned mortadella into a liquid. I ate it before I remembered to photograph with my recently acquired iPhone… Sorry.

Then we had some risotto with truffles, which was superb with the similar flavours of the 1989 La Gavina.

The third dish was ravioli with cotechino. Massimo said that the cotechino was steamed for five hours. Yum.

His avant-garde take on bollito misto included injecting eggs with ragù, which he claimed inspired an episode of House. I watch very little television and have never seen that programme.

A dish of veal was as tender as the night (to misquote Keats). The meat was cooked for 22 hours! The parsley sauce was great, as was the creamy sauce made with extra virgin oil and mashed potato. For me, this was the only dish that went better with a younger wine and it worked well with the Coevo 2006.

The final masterpiece was what Massimo called an “ice cream bar.” This was a terrine of foie gras injected with 35-year old balsamic vinegar. Truly magnificent, though I felt a pang of guilt at eating foie gras… I no longer order foie gras but can still force it down when confronted with it at a tasting.

This Cecchi tasting was part of the Identità London event beiong held at Vinopolis today and tomorrow. This “international chef congress” is a place for top chefs “to present and exchange ideas.” The theme of the 2010 congress is, appropriately given Mr Cameron’s recent pronouncements, “The Luxury of Simplicity”.

In the expo area there were tastings of hams, cheeses, beers, oils, pastas and so on. The Prosciutto di San Daniele and Montasio cheese from Friuli brought back happy memories of my time in that lovely part of Italy during the autumn and winter of 2001-2.

Of course, this being an Italian-themed event there was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Here is a lovely pair of dishes that I spotted:

Stockwell Flats

In Art and artists on June 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm

At the London International Fine Art Fair on Saturday 6 June, I had a wander to see what was going on and enjoy the opportunity to see artworks that normally are hidden away behind the intimidating doors of Mayfair and St James’s dealers.

I was particularly struck by David Hepher’s Stockwell Flats, which I had not seen before. I have been a Stockwell resident for over five years so anything connected to the area is always of interest to me.

Stockwell Flats (oil on canvas 108 x 76 inches / 274.5 x 193 cm, 1974)

Born in 1935, Hepher continues to be based in South London. Stockwell Flats was the first in a series of paintings of unglamorous high-rise council blocks and was first shown at the “New Work” exhibition, an Arts Council group exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery in November-December 1975.

Doubtless the seven-storey high-rise depicted by Hepher still exists but I don’t recognise it and I can’t see it from my roof terrace, from which I have panoramic views across the local streets towards central London and the City.

But I can see the ghastly Kelvedon House, a vast 20-storey ex-local authority block that I have to visit occasionally because my illiterate postman sometimes delivers something to me that was destined for one of the unlucky souls in Kelvedon.

Not the view from the boundary

In Cricket on June 6, 2010 at 6:33 pm

The usually fearsome Bill Gordon, the groundsman at The Oval, must have been in a good mood today.

Spectators were allowed onto the playing area, allowing us a rare glimpse of what the ground looks like from a player’s perspective.

The Oval has a vast playing area, noticeably bigger than either Lord’s or Edgbaston, both of which I have seen from the pitch.

Today’s match between Surrey and Leicestershire was played on a pitch towards Blocks 1-5 on the south-west side of the ground, with the boundary rope pulled well in by the Peter May Stand on the opposite side. But even the more central pitches, which I suppose are used mostly for international matches, are still a long way from the boundary.

By the way, Surrey lost (again). They were thumped by a very average but very noisy Leicestershire side by an innings and 60 runs. This is probably the worst-ever Surrey team. Not that I support them – I’m a Warwickshire boy. (They lost to Somerset today – sob sob.)

But England beat the mighty Bangladesh – hurrah!

Fine legs? Ladies’ day at Lord’s

In Cricket on June 6, 2010 at 8:34 am

I spent yesterday’s sweltering afternoon at Lord’s, alternatively watching Middlesex vs. Northamptonshire outside or England vs. Bangladesh on the TV in the Bowlers’ Bar.

Lord’s had decreed that Saturday 5 June was “Ladies’ Day”, in the tradition of the same at The Derby on the previous day. Under- or loudly-dressed young (and not so young) ladies could enter free of charge.

I should not complain about loud-dressing – my egg and bacon tie and claret moleskin trousers combination always gets a few comments.

One gentleman, however, took the Ladies’ Day concept perhaps a bit too literally. He was sat in the Members’ Bar wearing a kilt – a dress, I’d call it.

The legs were not fine but I was assured that the ball swung.