Monthly Archives: November 2014

  • The perfect wine for Thanksgiving

    What is the perfect wine to pair with your Thanksgiving turkey? Here are a few tips for our American friends in the UK.

    Photo: Tim Sackton Photo: Tim Sackton

    Pinot Noir

    You do not need a massive wine to pair with the delicate flesh of a freshly roasted turkey. A delicate red wine such as Pinot Noir would probably be a better match. US Pinot Noir – either from California or Oregon – would be the obvious choice here. Alternatively, you can opt for Burgundy Pinot Noir such as Domaine Carré Hautes-Côtes de Beaune. Light and delicate on the palate with bright raspberry and cherry flavours, it will be delicious with your Thanksgiving turkey!

    Gamay (Beaujolais Cru)

    Gamay produces wines which are not too dissimilar to Pinot Noir, generally light-bodied with bright fruit aromas. Beaujolais crus – wines made from grapes grown in one of the top vineyards of the region – can offer incredible value. Paul-Henri Thillardon’s Chénas Les Carrières would be a great choice: fresh dark berries and cherry flavours yet with enough structure and delicate tannins.

    Red Côtes-du-Rhône

    A Grenache-based blend from the Southern Rhone is likely to be significantly fuller-bodied than Pinot Noir or Gamay, but round and not overly tannic. Why not trying a red Côtes-du-Rhône by Clos du Mont-Olivet, one of the top estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape? This is rich and soft on the palate with plenty of flavours that will remind you of ripe strawberries, plum and chocolate.

    Burgundy Chardonnay

    Yet you do not necessarily need a red wine to drink with turkey. When served with classic pan gravy, a full-bodied white wine could even be a better choice. Domaine Cornin Pouilly-Fuissé Les Chevrières is made from Chardonnay grown in Southern Burgundy. It has intense flavours of white fruit, citrus, nuts and butter, together with a full-body yet with sufficient acidity to balance the rich sauce.

    Photo: Yi Wang Photo: Yi Wang

    Rosé Champagne

    Champagne could also be an option to celebrate with your friends and family. However you need a Champagne that is rich and vinous enough to pair with turkey. Rosé Experience by Champagne André Jacquart – made from 80 % Pinot Noir and aged in barrels – has an unusually deep pink colour and intense aromas of red fruit, biscuit and nuts. On the palate, it is rich and vinous and will be the perfect partner for your Thanksgiving turkey.

    Do not hesitate to contact us (sylvain@sipandlearn.co.uk) if you have any questions regarding food and wine pairing.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • Our top wines from Pouilly-Fuissé

    I have recently tasted more than a hundred Chardonnays from the Mâconnais region at Artisans Vignerons de Bourgogne du Sud  annual tasting. This small-scale wine fair – held annually at the Castle of Hurigny in Southern Burgundy – gathers “a small group of wine-growing friends in the Mâcon wine-growing region” who aim at producing wines “on the basis of small-scale, human, craftsman-based agriculture”.

    Domaine Cornin Pouilly-Fuissé Domaine Cornin - Photo: Marie-Anne Onraed

    Even without some of the best-known names in the region such as Domaine Ferret or Belgian-born Jean-Marie Guffens, I have to say that I have been very impressed by the high quality level of most wines presented at the tasting. The Mâconnais is increasingly becoming the region of choice for those looking for excellent value white Burgundies. The most talented winemakers of the Mâconnais now produce complex and vibrant Chardonnays selling for little more than what you would pay for entry-level regional appellation wines from the far more famous Côte-d'Or in the heart of Burgundy.

    Here are our top five wines from Pouilly-Fuissé, the star appellation of the Mâconnais region (in no particular order). Other very good Pouilly-Fuissé tasted there include wines by rising-star Denis Jeandeau, Pierre Vessigaud or “natural wine” oriented producer Philippe Valette.

    Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards seen from the Rock of Solutré Pouilly-Fuissé vineyards seen from the Rock of Solutré - Photo: Sylvain Wellhoff

    Domaine Cornin Pouilly-Fuissé Les Chevrières 2012: this is a wine we know pretty well as Cornin’s Chevrières 2011 is the Chardonnay we have selected for Sip and Learn box #1. The 2012 – which was still a bit closed in previous tastings – is now showing very well, with elegant aromas of pear, citrus fruit, nuts, honeysuckle, together with hints of butter and vanilla. Round and perfectly balanced on the palate, in a more delicate style than Clos Reyssié (Cornin’s other single-vineyard Pouilly-Fuissé). Excellent (organic)

    Saumaize-Michelin Pouilly-Fuissé Clos sur La Roche 2013: “Sur La Roche” vineyard in the village of Vergisson is one of the most intriguing single-vineyards in the Pouilly-Fuissé area. As the name suggests, the vines are grown on the limestone soils of the Rock of Vergisson. At around 400 metres above sea level, this is a high-altitude vineyard by Burgundy standards. Probably not the most expressive wine of the tasting, but elegant and delicate, with excellent acidity and a strong mineral character. Good / Very good (organic).

    Château des Rontets Les Birbettes 2012: Château des Rontets wines will never be the showiest wines around when young but the 2012 Birbettes is surely one of the most elegant Pouilly-Fuissé of the vintage. White fruit flavours with delicate aromas of nuts, white flavours and just the slightest hint of vanilla. Not quite as big on the palate as many others wines, but perfectly balanced, with a long finish. Will need cellaring to unfurl fully. Excellent (organic)

    Domaine de Thalie Pouilly-Fuissé 2012: made from purchased grapes as this young winemaker – whose winery was established only five years ago – doesn’t own vineyards in Pouilly-Fuissé. Flavours of ripe peach, pear, vanilla with a slight iodine character. Not the most concentrated wine on the palate, but very well balanced. Rather long finish with orange marmalade notes. Well worth a try if you can get your hands on one of the only 1,500 bottles produced. Excellent value (organic).

    Frantz Chagnoleau Pouilly-Fuissé Pastoral 2013: Frantz Chagnoleau was born and raised in the Cognac region – not Burgundy. He established his winery five years ago, after working with Olivier Merlin, one of the best-known names in the Mâconnais region. His wife Caroline – a trained enologist who has worked in Napa Valley – is now working with him. This wine has been made from purchased grapes as Frantz Chagnoleau doesn’t own vineyards in Pouilly-Fuissé. Elegant aromas of citrus fruit, with a hint of reduction and toasted notes from oak ageing that will integrate over time. Rich, round and balanced on the palate. Frantz Chagnoleau is convinced that there is still plenty of room for improvement for this wine. Already very good (organic).

    Pouilly-Fuissé is only the tip of the iceberg of great wines produced in the Mâconnais region Coming soon: our top wines from the lesser-known appellation of Southern Burgundy (Saint-Véran, Viré-Clessé, Mâcon-Villages).

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  • Why you should get yourself a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau

    Today is Beaujolais Nouveau day, and it has been so every third Thursday of November for more than 60 years now. Yet most wine lovers will simply ignore Beaujolais Nouveau as many consider it as no more than a marketing invention to sell huge quantities of under-par wine. Is Beaujolais Nouveau actually no more than that?

    Beaujolais vineyards - November 2014 Beaujolais vineyards - November 2014 - Photo: Goproo3

    What is Beaujolais Nouveau?

    As any Beaujolais, Beaujolais Nouveau is 100% Gamay, a grape that is too often overlooked. It is made from grapes that were harvested two months ago and made into a light and fruity wine designed to be enjoyed young and fresh. When made with care, Beaujolais Nouveau can be deliciously fruity with intense flavours of fresh raspberry, blackberry and violet. Aromas of banana and nail polish – which have unfortunately been associated with some wines – have no more place in Beaujolais Nouveau than in any other quality wine.

    A new generation of young and talented producers really takes pride in producing excellent quality Beaujolais Nouveau. One of our favourite producers is 28-year-old Paul-Henri Thillardon, one of Beaujolais’ rising stars, whose Beaujolais Nouveau is well worth a try!

    What to pair with Beaujolais?

    As a simple and fruity wine, Beaujolais Nouveau is not made for pairing with complex dishes. It’s probably best enjoyed as an uncomplicated drink to share with your friends. In Lyon – not far from where it is produced – Beaujolais Nouveau is often paired with local sausages cooked in a Beaujolais sauce.

    If you are looking for a more complex wine to pair with food, why not trying a “Beaujolais Cru” – a wine made from grapes grown in one of the top vineyards of the region. The likes of Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie or Chénas offer more complexity and body while still exhibiting deliciously fruity aromas.

    Cheers!

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  • Introducing Sip & Learn!


    We are so excited to be launching Sip & Learn today!
     
    This is just the beginning but it is a key step in a journey that started several months ago.
    We love wine and we’ve always wanted to learn more about what we drink to make the most of it.

    However, it’s always been a huge frustration that I couldn't tell what was in my glass or when I tried to learn that what was in my glass never matched what I could read in books or on blogs.

    This is the reason why we decided to create Sip & Learn: to bring you great wines and at the same time help you to learn all you need to know about those wines so you can appreciate them the most.

    Sip & Learn - The Wine Tasting box pack shot

    But it’s not only about the 2 bottles in the box, we have created a programme to teach the basics about wine so you will discover how to taste wine, how wine is made, the main wine regions of the world and the most important understand what wines you like and why. The idea is that month after month you will discover general knowledge about wine and specific grape varieties which will help you to select wines in shops or in restaurants that you will really enjoy.

    Our wine expert Sylvain has visited hundreds of vineyards over the past few years; and tasted several thousands of bottles of wine to bring you his top picks. But it would be too good to be true for him if it was only about tasting wine; he also worked hard to write great educational content.

    As you’ll see, it’s at the same time easy to read and to understand and you’ll learn so much that you’ll be impatient to receive your next box!

    There has been setbacks along the way - who said it was easy to create a company in the UK? Well, certainly not if you want to sell wine! - but we are so proud that what was a nice idea 6 months ago has turned into such a nice and exciting product.

    We’d like to thank our designer Delphine for her amazing work on the website and the booklet, as well as our web-developer Alvin, and all those who supported us along our journey to launch Sip & Learn.

    On this blog, we will share additional wine education content, food and wine pairing, and much more.

    We would love to hear from you, please write on our Facebook page or send us a tweet @sipandlearnuk !

    The Sip & Learn team


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