Strange tales: Condé, Cognac and Bourbon lilies

9th August, 2017

In the spring of 1569, in a field in Cognac, two French armies clashed in a battle that would later inspire one of the region’s most famous spirit brands.

A German illustration of the Battle of Jarnac. The prince of Condé’s capture and murder is depicted in two stages on the left of the picture, where he is the figure in gold.

The battle was fought near Jarnac, on the road from Cognac to Angoulême between an army of French Catholics under the Burgundian nobleman, Gaspard de Saulx, the Sire of Tavannes and French Protestants (Huguenots) commanded by Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Condé.

An otherwise inconsequential piece of detritus from the battle would later inspire Paul-Émile Rémy Martin to create his Cognac house’s most prestigious creation, Louis XIII, while the two principal generals have also left a mark on the vineyards of Burgundy, in their own way.

Gaspard de Saulx-Tavannes was the scion of two powerful Burgundian houses, his mother being Marguerite de Tavannes. Born in Dijon and a governor general of Burgundy in the late 1550s, the Saulx-Tavannes family owned extensive land and property throughout Burgundy including in Pommard where the lieu-dit which bears their name, ‘Les Tavannes’ (a village-level vineyard opposite Les Petits Epenots), exists to this day.

The Prince of Condé, meanwhile, was the four times great-grandfather of Louis-François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti, the man who, in 1760, would acquire the vineyard of La Romanée and affix to it his title, giving the wine world one of its most storied names.1

‘The wine is drawn’

The battle of Jarnac was a minor clash in what was the third phase of the Wars of Religion, an exceedingly vile and bloody civil conflict that wracked France from 1562 to 1598 and during which some 3 million people are thought to have died, making it Europe’s second deadliest religious conflict behind only the Thirty Years War which erupted in 1618 and would claim an estimated 8 million lives.

The wars were, in effect, a Protestant reaction to increasing persecution that had begun under Francis I and continued with even greater brutality under Henry II; with massacres and counter-massacres fuelling hatred and internecine violence between Catholics and Protestants.

Louis, Prince of Condé was one of the foremost Protestant noblemen in France (although a relatively recent convert) and quickly became a champion of the Huguenot cause.

After another massacre at Vassy in March 1562, Condé and other Huguenot nobles declared they would now fight to protect their co-religionists and that they intended to free the king, Charles IX from the “evil counsel” that was clearly being fed to him by those his close (fervently Catholic) advisors, especially the ambitious and powerful Duke of Guise and Charles’s mother, Catherine de Medici.

There followed two periods of war and uneasy truce between 1562 and 1568 with the Peace of Longjumeau being signed in March of 1568 and promptly collapsing by August.

In early 1569 Condé was engaged in laying siege to various Catholic-held cities first in Poitou and Saintonge and then Angolême and Cognac in order to protect the foremost Huguenot city in France, La Rochelle, which was also an important port through which support from Protestant England could arrive. In fact, one English adventurer who fought for the Huguenots during the war and may have been at the battle of Jarnac was none other than the famous Elizabethan privateer, Walter Raleigh.2

A Catholic army moved to intercept the Huguenots. It was nominally led by the 17-year old Henry, Duke of Anjou (brother of King Charles IX and later king himself) but no doubt commanded in fact by the redoubtable Sieur de Tavanne (a veteran of Francis I’s Italian wars and soon to be made a Marshal of France).

Under cover of darkness the Catholics crossed the Charente at Chateauneuf (now Chateauneuf-sur-Charente) and advanced up the right bank of the river to surprise the Protestant picquets outside Bassac on the morning of 13 March.

In doing so they caught Condé’s second in command, Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, napping and he sent an urgent message to the Bourbon prince in Jarnac calling for help. Clearly annoyed to have been wrong-footed Condé is said to have resigned himself to battle with the words: “The wine is drawn, we must drink it.”

Gathering up his cavalry he raced to Coligny’s aid.

What followed was not a large battle, a skirmish really, and it was rare in that almost the entire action was between mounted troops; the vanguards of both armies.

It was a short, sharp fight The Protestant cavalry charged but without conviction (“flabbily” in one French account) and the Catholics were quickly reinforced by the household troops of the Duke of Anjou.

Attacked in the flank, Condé’s squadron was cut off and the prince, one arm in a sling after falling from his mount a few days before and with a nasty leg injury having been kicked by a horse just before the battle, was unhorsed and captured.

Having given his parole and surrendered his sword Condé was accosted by a certain Captain Montesquiou of the Duke of Anjou’s guard who asked who he was.

When the captain found out he was talking to Condé he supposedly exclaimed, “Then I shall kill you by God!” and shot the defenceless man through the head with his pistol.3  In another version, Condé is in the act of surrendering to two Catholic gentlemen he knew when Montesquiou gallops up and shouting, “kill him by God!”, shoots him from behind.

“I remember it well,” wrote Raleigh later, “that, when the prince of Condé was slain after the battle of Jarnac, the Protestants did greatly bewail the loss of the said prince.”

So died the first Condé but his death was neither the end of the wars nor the end of this story.

The Jarnac flask and Louis XIII

The design for the bottle of Louis XIII Cognac (bottom right) was based on a flask found on the old battlefield of Jarnac. The shape of the bottle shows a clear inheritance from the leather and metal flasks (left and top right) which were common items throughout the 16th century. The examples here are quite plain but many were elaborately decorated.

Jarnac was not decisive. It was a severe blow for the Huguenot cause to lose such a stalwart general but the bulk of the Protestant army was not engaged and Coligny recovered and beat the Catholics a month later at La Roche l’Abeille.

A new figurehead for French Protestantism, he was subsequently murdered during the appalling St Bartholemew’s Day massacre of August 1572; an event that sparked further massacres throughout France and with them the resumption of the wars.

During this ‘fourth war’ an important event was the siege of Sancerre (which had become an important Protestant base) from January to August 1573, which quickly became a Protestant cause célèbre throughout Europe.

As would later happen with the Thirty Years War, as the French religious wars went on they became increasingly political and eventually a succession crisis overtook some of the more straightforward inter-religious hatreds.

The Duke of Anjou succeeded his brother as Henry III in 1574 but he soon fell out with the premier Catholic nobleman, Henry of Lorraine the Duke of Guise, who likely fancied himself a contender for the throne. Tired of the over-weening Guise and the power of his Spanish-backed Catholic League, Henry III had the duke assassinated, along with the duke’s brother who was a cardinal (no less!), in 1588.

The act shocked France and turned much of the Catholic population against the king. In desperation he formed an alliance with the latest Protestant figurehead, Henry, King of Navarre – the next legitimate male heir to the throne (Henry III had no children) and the nephew of Louis de Bourbon Prince of Condé.

Henry III was himself assassinated by a fanatical Dominican friar in 1589 and was succeeded by Henry of Navarre as Henry IV – ‘le bon’ (‘the good’) as he has become known to history and the first Bourbon king of France.

Although he converted to Catholicism in order to become king, Henry IV passed the Edict of Nantes in 1589, which granted at least limited state recognition and toleration of Huguenots and brought the Wars of Religion to an end – although he would still have to fight to secure his throne against militant Catholic nobles and the Spanish and Papal forces ranged against him into 1599.

After two failed attempts, ‘Good’ Henry was also assassinated in 1610 (stabbed to death in his coach by François Ravaillac) and, after a regency, his son, Louis, followed him to the throne as Louis XIII.

In the 19th century a farmer ploughing his fields near Jarnac turned up a long-buried object. It was a flask, made of metal and decorated with fleur-de-lis.

The flask, identified as a relic of the battle nearly 300 years before, was acquired by Paul-Émile Rémy Martin in 1850 and, it would seem, it set him to thinking

Twenty-four years later in 1874 on the occasion of Rémy Martin’s 150th anniversary, the house released a new Cognac in a decanter based on the flask found at Jarnac.

In time the Cognac would become known as Louis XIII, because he is regarded as being the first king to recognise ‘Cognac’ as being distinct from just ‘brandy’; giving it its own tax bracket (always a sign of official favour) in 1640.

Both the Houses of Valois-Orléans and Bourbon, as ‘princes of the blood’, used the royal fleur-de-lis as part of their coat of arms.

But what of the flask, who did it belong to? Sadly, the original flask is long gone and no drawings or photographs, if any were made, are also no more. So quite what it looked like or what it was for will remain forever a mystery.

Was it a water or a gunpowder flask (for priming a pistol or arquebus)? Who might it have belonged to? The fact it was decorated with fleur-de-lis is interesting but also frustrating.

On its website for Louis XIII Rémy Martin simply states the first decanter took its inspiration from a “royal flask”. But there’s no way of knowing to which side the former owner of the flask belonged as the two main protagonists were both prince du sang, ‘princes of the blood’, connected to the French royal family. As part of the House of Valois-Orléans, the Duke of Anjou sported three lilies on his coat of arms and his household ‘gentlemen’ may have done likewise too.

Yet Condé, from the House of Bourbon, had the three ‘royal’ flowers as his badge as well.

So to which royal house do we suppose the flask belonged? If it were still with us more modern appraisal might be able to assess its quality and, therefore, if it were carried by a nobleman and if so of what standing. Its decoration, as evidenced by the design of the decanter, certainly seems rather rich – though Remy Martin may have added a few flourishes of his own.

Perhaps, if one lets one’s imagination run wild, one can see how it might have even belonged to Condé himself. He was unhorsed in the mêlée. Could his flask have come loose in the chaos of trampling hooves and whirling of the fray? It’s a flight of fancy of course, we will never know.

But, considering the Cognac bears the name of his great-nephew, it’s tantalising to think the flask was once Condé’s or at least one his men’s and those are indeed Bourbon lilies after all.

 

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1 The titles of Condé and Conti were hereditary titles in the House of Condé, a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon-Vendôme, the senior branch of which went on to become kings of France and Navarre. The title, Prince of Condé, was granted to the eldest son and Prince of Conti to the next. Louis de Bourbon’s second son, François, was the first Prince of Conti but he died without heirs in 1614. The title then fell into abeyance until the birth of Armand de Bourbon in 1629, the second son of Henry II, Prince of Condé, who’s eldest son, Louis, would go on to be known as ‘le Grand Condé’, one of Louis XIV’s great generals and victor of Rocroi in 1643 which broke the hegemony of Habsburg Spain and set France in its place as Europe’s leading superpower for the next century and a half.

2 In his memoirs Raleigh never says he was at the battle, merely that he remembers the “great wailing” and despair among the Huguenots after it is learned that Condé has been killed. It is the sense of the immediacy he suggests in his writing that has created the assumption he may have at least watched the battle unfold if not actively participated.

3 There is a close parallel between the death of Louis and another Protestant champion, Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden who was effectively executed on the field of Lützen in 1632 with a pistol shot to the head.

London and Home Counties lead English wine sales

9th August, 2017

Sales of English wine jumped by 16% at Naked Wines in the past 12 months, to July 2017, with London and the Home Counties 10 times more likely to drink home-grown wine than the rest of the country, according to the online retailer.

An English sparkling wine vineyard planted with Pinot Noir at harvest time, basking in autumnal sunshine.

Founded in 2008, Naked Wines is a crowd-funded wine retailer which see its “angels” contribute a sum each month which is then invested in a wine producer in return for exclusive deals on their wines and wholesale prices. The company was bought by Majestic in 2015.

The positive performance of English wine among its consumers in the past year has led the merchant to commit to investing a further £1m in supporting new English winemakers.

English wine has proved most popular with Londoners and those living in the Home Counties, where many of the country’s vineyards are located, who are 10 times more likely to choose English wines than the rest of the country. Interestingly Lancashire proved to be the ninth biggest consumer of English wines from Naked, the only region outside of southern England to appear in its top 10 list of English wine-consuming counties.

Sales in these counties account for 51% of all Naked Wines English sparkling wine sales in the UK. Naked Wines’ best-selling English fizz is Old Winchester Hill Blanc de Blancs NV from the Hampshire vineyard of ex-banker Ian Kellett.

“As a crowd-funded wine business, we invest where our customers tell us to, so it’s fantastic to see English fizz now bubbling over as one of their favourites,” said Eamon FitzGerald, MD of Naked Wines UK.

Naked Wine’s top 10 counties for English wine

“People are voting with their taste buds, backing British businesses and winemakers pursuing their dreams. This has given us the confidence to commit £1m of investment into English wine. We’re very proud to be backing Britain.”

One of the biggest wine success stories in recent years, the English wine industry grew its turnover by 16% last year to a record high of £132 million, having nearly trebled over the last five years from £55.7 million in 2011.

Earlier this year, The United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA) and English Wine Producers (EWP) voted to merge to form one single-industry representative body called UK Wine Producers.

The new organisation will promote, represent and support all UK wine producers and vineyards, irrespective of their size in dealings with the government and other national and international organisations.

‘Lucifer’ heatwave impacts Italian grape harvest

9th August, 2017

A summer heatwave sweeping through Europe, dubbed Lucifer, has prompted some of the earliest grape harvests seen in Italy for decades, with temperatures soaring to 47 degrees following months of drought.

Some sparkling wine producers in northern Italy have started harvesting grapes 12 days earlier than normal, with winemakers in Franciacorta, in Lombardy, beginning their wine harvest on 3 August. Ordinarily, the harvest would not start until 15 August.

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement – an organisation that promotes local food and traditional cooking – told La Stampa newspaper that the grape harvest had never before “in living memory” started before 15 August.

In Franciacorta, the harvest is expected to be down by as much as 30%, with the heatwave compounding the impact of “bizarre” weather and spring frosts earlier in the season.

Droughts in Chianti and other denominations in Tuscany over the summer have also impacted this year’s Italian harvest, causing volumes to fall by around 20-30%.

Overall, Italy’s 2017 harvest is expected to be down by around 10 to 15%, according to Italian farmers association Coldiretti.

“Much will depend on the months of August and September, but the current conditions hope for a vintage of good quality, especially for vineyards that have undergone water shortages or where farmers have succeeded in rescue irrigation,” a statement from the organisation said.

The extreme heat seen this week is in sharp contrast to the severe frosts experienced by much of Europe in the spring, when many producers were forced to deploy thousands of candles in a bid to protect their vines. Bitter frosts swept across much of southern England, France, Spain and Italy in late April.

Earlier this week, warnings were issued to tourists travelling to many parts of Europe, amid the hottest heatwave seen since 2003.

Temperatures have exceeded 40° Celsius in many holiday hotspots, with European weather alert system Meteoalarm issuing “red alerts” for Italy, Croatia and Hungary, among eight European countries.

Fever-Tree sets sights on Chinese market

9th August, 2017

With first half year sales rising 77%, London-based tonic water producer, Fever-Tree, has revealed that it plans to tap into the Chinese market “within months,” following the success of an earlier deal with Hong Kong fine wine importer Summergate to distribute its products in the local market.

“We anticipate launching within the next few months and are very much looking forward to bringing some innovation and focus to the mixer category in China,” Andy Gaunt, Fever-Tree Asia Pacific brand director, told dbHK.

The drinks mixer brand, known for its exotic ingredients such as ginger from the Ivory Coast and India, has recently seen impressive sales growth riding on the back of the global gin and tonic boom. Its sales in the first half of the year grew by 77% to US$32.8 million.

The company signed an exclusive distribution deal with Summergate in January this year, primarily focusing on on-trade sales. Without revealing specific sales figures in Hong Kong, the executive said the company is “very happy” with the growth of distribution and share growth across Hong Kong and Macau, thanks to its strategy to incorporate more mixers designed for dark and aged spirits, which accounted for 80% of premium spirits consumed in Hong Kong.

“Our sales mix has historically leaned towards our tonic business, it is, after all, where we started, but we are seeing a balancing in our portfolio as we address the opportunities in promoting better choices for mixers with dark spirits  such as soda, ginger ale, cola and ginger beer,” he explained.

The growing popularity of crisp, refreshing gin and tonics in Hong Kong, with backings from specialist bars like ‘Ping Pong,’ also helped drive its growth.  

“Without a doubt there is continued growth and interest in gin here in Hong Kong as we see across the world. The gin and tonic is booming thanks to the increased availability and range of gin, and importantly of high quality tonic waters that offer a range of tastes,” Gaunt commented.

Its current range encompasses varying flavours from the more traditional dry bitter hit of ‘Indian Tonic’ or the ‘Naturally Light Tonic’, which is 60% lower in calories, to the soft floral flavours of ‘Mediterranean Tonic’, or the zesty sweetness of ‘Elderflower Tonic’ and the bitter citrus of the ‘Sicilian Lemon Tonic’.

While the gin and tonic boom is evident in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, driving gin sales is arguably more challenging in mainland China, given that dark spirits take up about 90% of the market share, with gin accounting for less than 3% of premium imported spirits consumed in the market.

Leveraging on its wide range of products that cater to “all mixing opportunities,” the company sees growth opportunity in Chinese consumers’ growing interest in longer, refreshing drinks based on whiskies and Cognacs, according to the brand director.

Speaking about other Asian markets, Gaunt pointed out that Taipei has been “one of more innovative and forward thinking cocktail scenes” in the last decade, and as these new drink trends reach the new generation of drinkers, “we’ll no doubt see a shift in consumption trends,” he predicated.

Having one of the richest cocktail cultures in the world, Japan will see younger bartenders with a more international perspective than the previous generation start to come of age, he continued.

Stockton bar’s ‘literary giants’ cocktails

9th August, 2017

If there’s a cocktail inspired by your literary idol, what would it be?  We examine the relationship between some of the world’s greatest writers and alcohol as we review Stockton’s take on 13 cocktails inspired by literary giants from Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson to John Cheever and Truman Capote.

Papa Hemingway enjoying a bottle or two

The cocktails are part of the ‘Minds Undone’ series launched recently by Stockton, ranked No. 8 on Asia’s 50 Best Bar List in 2017, to pay homage to great literary giants who are known for their liberal use of libations as their agent for creativity.

Led by Malcolm Wood and mixologist Suraj Gurung, the mixology team at Stockton have put their favourite authors in the limelight and curated a menu based on these creative minds’ tipples of choice. William Faulkner, the great American writer from Mississippi, always kept his whiskey within reach, and F. Scott Fitzgerald probably never wrote anything significant without the influence of alcohol, as he insisted that: “My stories written when sober are stupid”.

Click through the pages to see the cocktails, inspired by storytellers, poets and journalists, iconic artists and the stories behind each drink. All cocktails are priced at HK$130 each.

dbHK eats: Okra

9th August, 2017

Tucked away in the revamped Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood at the western end of Hong Kong Island, Okra, a Japanese-influenced restaurant, despite its name is a seafood-focused outpost that straddles two floors, offering casual izakaya style sharing plates on the ground floor and a (more expensive) creative fine dining experience upstairs.

Nigari Sai farmhouse tofu

Opened in 2016 in Hong Kong by chef Max Levy, a New Orleans native trained in New York and Tokyo before arriving in Beijing over 10 years ago, the restaurant is an upgraded version of its much acclaimed Okra 1949 in Beijing (now defunct) that earned him the ‘Time Out Beijing’s Chef of the Year 2009-2011’ title.

The ground floor Okra Kitchen, which we reviewed this time, takes its cues from traditional Japanese kappou, or kitchen-bars that serve fine cuisine and quality saké. The open kitchen on the ground floor gave diners a front seat view of the action with chef Levy usually behind the table preparing and giving the finishing touch to each dish while participating in friendly banter with guests.

The sleek and minimalistic design features a muted grey tone and warm lighting. It creates a strangely calm and inviting environment that sets it aside from the often-raucous and flamboyant dining circus one sees in Central. Granted, design is not everything and grandiosity, in most cases, often fails to impress. But when it’s done right as is the case with Okra, it commands your attention and wakes you up to the tastes and smells of the food.

Don’t expect to be overwhelmed by pronounced and exuberant flavours. Like any respecting Japanese restaurant, the flavours here are subtle yet lingering.

The menu is compact and divided into small and larger plates called A-sides and B-sides with interesting scribbles and caricatures that one might find in a children’s playbook, belying the sophistication of the creative cuisine here.

Chicken-fried Hamachi

Tofu, especially raw tofu, has never been a favourite until we tried the Nigari Sai farmhouse tofu dish. The often bland tofu was elevated with the saltiness of the soy beans and the restaurant’s own black pigeon sauce. The fresh and juicy cherry tomatoes added a nice dose of acidity to lift the flavours as well.

The wild Sicilian seaweed salad meanwhile was a more tangy and savoury option to the simple summer season greens. Dressed in sesame seed oil and garnished with sesame seeds and spring onions, the dish was light and refreshing.

Moving on, the sashimi style yazu yellowtail and house-made yuba with garlic and ponzu sauce was satisfactory but not awe-inspiring. The yellowtail, according to bartender Sven Selbak, was sourced from northern China and Japan.

What really caught our attention was the ‘Chicken-fried Hamachi’ that actually has no chicken in it. It was in fact made from wild yellowtail, but cooked with a thin coat of batter to mimic  the “fried chicken” look. It was delicately fried, crispy without being overtly greasy. Served in crystal hot sauce, the dish was given an extra layer of flavour with freshly grated daikon that added a fluffy lightness to the dish.

The smoked baby back ribs packed plenty of flavour and the yuzu jam helped cut through the richness. It’s a finger and lip smacking kind of good. The only downside was that even though this came from the larger plate side of the menu, we were left wanting for more. [Ed: ‘Twas ever thus]

This would not have been a complete Japanese experience without the Unagi, the Japanese freshwater eel, served with steamed rice. In this case, we had the best of both in a dish called ‘Unagi Fun’, reminiscent of Unadon except the rice was fried sushi rice instead of steamed rice. The glaze-grilled unagi was exceptionally refined and tender and formed a perfect contrast with the crispy fried sushi rice.

Unagi Fun

And of course, consistent with the Japanese-influenced theme, saké is ubiquitous on Okra’s drinks menu.

Chef Levy and bartender Selbak take their saké very seriously, offering more than 20 exclusive and rare sake brands by the glass and by the bottle. The ‘Monk’s Tears’ by Takacho, brewed from 60% Hino Hikari rice, is a stunning example of the purity of saké. ‘The Monkey’, a collaboration between famed Hong Kong film director Hark Tsui and the restaurant, is a crowd-pleaser because of its incredibly smooth taste with toasted coconut and butter notes on the palate.

Other highlights include the earthy and complex Wakatakeya ‘Debut’ Nama Muroka Genshu Junmai from Fukuoka, as well as the fresh and aromatic Kaze no Mori Akitsuho Junmai, made from Nara’s prized Akitsuho rice.

For dessert, we recommend the roasted green tea and red bean cookie with smoked cream and lemon salt. The texture reminded us more of a soufflé than a cookie, and the touch of lemon salt just elevated the flavour and held everything together – the fragrant green tea, the sweetness of red beans and the luscious cream doused on top. For pairing, bartender Selbak poured us a glass of plum saké, a perfect complement to the experience.

A few of the sakés on offer at Okra

If you are looking for fine-dining Japanese sushi bar, the upstairs Okra Bar falls right into your alley. Featuring a minimalist eight-seater bar, guests will get to enjoy Levy’s take on premium sushi paired with natural wines and sakés.

Currently only available for the dinner service, from Wednesday to Saturday, booking and advanced payment are required through www.okra.bar, powered by Tock, the premium F&B booking system by world renowned chef Grant Achatz (Alinea/ Next). Charge is HK$1,200 for the ‘omakase’ menu and an optional HK$600 for drinks pairing.

Overall, the service was attentive and staff were eager to please. But this is the kind of restaurant where you should visit with a moderate appetite and a resilient lower back as all the stools have no back support. Not exactly the kind of seating plan that invites you to dwell and linger.

新西兰酿酒师:不只是长相思

9th August, 2017

长相思和黑皮诺无疑是新西兰葡萄酒的代名词,但新的机遇正在产生,小众芳香型白葡萄酒正成为诸多酿酒师下注的“下一波发现”。

在可预见的未来,长相思毫无疑问仍是新西兰葡萄酒出口的主角,占整个新西兰葡萄酒总产量的74%,其中大部分来自马尔堡产区。由于长相思的巨大成功,新西兰葡萄酒的出口总值在2016年继续增长了10%,其中美国首次超过澳洲成为新西兰的第一大出口市场。

但是长相思的耀眼光芒并没有就此掩盖和抹杀所有其它葡萄品种。事实上一大批新西兰酿酒师正为新西兰境内更为小众的芳香型白葡萄酒大唱赞歌,并于今年早期组织了一场历时两天的“芳香专题酒会”,探索灰皮诺、琼瑶浆、雷司令以及阿尔巴利诺(Albariño)等品种的发展潜力。

“我们忙着在下面(意指新西兰南部Nelson地区)探索这些非长相思品种的习性,以及它们通过不同风土和藤龄的不同细微表达。”Accolade的前酿酒师,现于Zephyr酒庄工作的Ben Glover表示,并补充说,他还在积极试验橙色葡萄酒的酿造,已经发布了一款名为Agent的由琼瑶浆、雷司令和长相思混酿的橙酒酒款。

“我深信新西兰的下一波发现,下一个巨大成功就在我们这些芳香型的白葡萄酒上,在这些品种生长的风土和它们背后的酿酒师上。”Glover说,并指出他所在的Zephyr家族酒庄正是芳香型白葡萄酒的专家代表,在霞多丽和长相思之外还生产酿造雷司令、琼瑶浆和灰皮诺。

目前,这些新兴芳香型白葡萄品种中种植面积最广的是灰皮诺,共种有2440公顷(比下一位雷司令的752公顷要多出3倍以上),但名声最响、被谈论最多的却是阿尔巴利诺(Albarino),尽管其种植面积只有区区27公顷。

“这是一个杰出的葡萄品种,很适合新西兰的风土条件,也很有成为下一个明星的潜质。”新西兰葡萄酒的酒评专家、葡萄酒大师Bob Campbell MW表示,“但另一方面,这个品种名称的发音很难。消费者的接受度将是关键,而现在市场上又没有足够多的阿尔巴利诺,因而很难做任何营销和推广。”

Coopers Creek是首个于2009年开始种植阿尔巴利诺的酒庄。它在奥克兰、霍克湾、马尔堡和中奥塔克等多地都拥有葡萄园,并希望有朝一日能将阿尔巴利诺推向国际市场。另外酿造阿尔巴利诺的新西兰酒庄还有Kono Beverages (Aronui),Stanley Estates, Neudorf, Nautilus, Waimea, Astrolabe, Rod Macdonald, Matawhero, Villa Maria以及Sileni。

“阿尔巴利诺在我们的生长环境中似乎很开心,”Coopers Creek的酿酒师Simon Nunns表示,“它所酿出的葡萄酒非常特别,具有明显的品种特征。它十分适合这里的夏日和文化,闻一闻新西兰的阿尔巴利诺你就能联想到阳光、冲浪、海鲜、沙滩和美好的夏日时光,这简直就是夏日海滨度假的葡萄酒护照。”

此外,在解释这一品种在新西兰的风格区分上,Nunns指出酸度结构是决定因素,越往马尔堡等凉爽地区走酸度就越明显。“因此温暖产区的阿尔巴利诺有更多果肉的馥郁香气,而凉爽地区的酒款则更线性,更精准。”

遗憾的是,出于产量过小的原因,目前这些芳香型白葡萄酒的绝大部分都在新西兰国内消费,少见出口,尽管国际市场对非长相思白葡萄酒的需求正明显上升。但在短期内,不管是生产商本身希望保持小型精品酒庄的形象,还是暂未具有向海外市场出口拓展的准备,这些美味的芳香型白葡萄酒应该都只能在有限的业内酒会以及精品独立零售专门店中才能被发现了。

编译:肖斐远

波尔多飞龙世家被售予船运公司

9th August, 2017

最近有传闻说位于波尔多圣埃斯泰夫的名庄飞龙世家(Phélan-Ségur)已被售予一家船运公司的业主。

 

The Gardinier brothers

据葡萄酒大师Jancis Robinson MW发送的一条推特称(但遗憾的是db杂志截至发稿都未能联系到Jancis以求证实),飞龙世家的Gardinier家族已将这家优秀中级庄(‘cru bourgeois exceptionnel’)售予Philippe Van de Vyvere,欧洲最大的船运公司之一Sea-Invest的业主。

此次出售的各项细节目前均无从知晓,但据悉,飞龙大约在两个月前悄无声息的将酒庄列牌出售。db杂志为此联系了飞龙世家和船运公司,但两者都至今没有确实这一出售。但业界普遍认为Gardinier家族此次是以整体形式售出酒庄,并未保留任何股份,尽管技术团队将至少在短期内保留原职。

Gardinier家族自1985年起便掌管这家酒庄,而Thierry, Laurent和Stéphane兄弟三人(见题图)则从1990年代其开始接管。家族在这一酒庄之外,还拥有著名的巴黎餐厅Taillevent(餐厅现在还于伦敦开设了分店Les 110 de Tailleven),以及香槟区的顶级酒店之一,位于兰斯的Les Crayères。

此次酒庄出售的目的我们仍未知晓。一个猜测是他们试图将精力集中在酒店和餐厅行业,因此需要从这一昂贵的投资中抽身以免分心;但另一方面,家族已在近年来向酒庄注入巨额资金,酒庄酒款品质的飞速提升更是得到了酒评界和酒商的一致公认,其最近的2016年份更是被赞为“史上最佳”的酒庄出品。是否有可能在他们不断推高飞龙酒款品质的同时,却发现售价已经封顶而不再容易售出存货了呢?

无论出于何种缘由,飞龙世家的品牌广受青睐,且毫无疑问高出普通中级庄的水准。鉴于其显赫的名声、品质以及价格,很多人甚至想当然地认定其为波尔多的列级庄。此外,近年来酒庄的要价更是不断上升,尽管其涨幅和产区内其它酒庄的涨幅大致相当。飞龙世家还是一个大酒庄,面积达70公顷,年产量颇丰。

db杂志将在最终确实各项细节后为大家做后续报导。

编译:肖斐远

Californian wine enjoying a ‘golden age’

8th August, 2017

California has entered a “golden age” of wine production, one producer has claimed – with the state’s wines being more readily embraced by the UK market.

Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley (Photo: Wiki)

Chuck Cramer, director of European sales and marketing at Terlato Wines told db it was “a great time for California in general”, with more US wines available in the UK on- and off-trade, and a growing awareness of the quality and value among consumers.

“The wines are good value for money, but what opened the door to Californian wines two years ago was the prices in Bordeaux and Burgundy escalating, so all of a sudden, French sommeliers were taking notice of the category,” he said.

As a result, people started to recognise what good value Californian Pinot Noir offered.

“Obviously the UK has a long history with French wines and Californian Pinot Noir doesn’t have the same earthy notes as those from Burgundy, but they are a bit more fruit-forward and you do get that complexity, as the ocean is not far away, so you get that cold influence of breezes,” he told db.

“In terms of value for money, something like Terlato’s Chimney Rock is at the higher range, but compared to a left or right bank Bordeaux, it is good value,” he argued. “California really over delivers, especially the 2013 vintage, which was a great year in California.”

Cramer said California was performing well in the UK, appealing to both the on-trade and independent and fine wine retailers, particularly at the higher end. “The category is developing and growing and very interesting, but the premium Californian wines are being well-received at £20-70,” he said.

“If you’re looking at the last 18 months-two years, especially at the premium and super-premium end, listings have doubled easily in the on-trade, driven by the US-style restaurants, such as steak house Smith & Wollensky and Hawksmoor and bbq and burger restaurants.”

“Five years ago you would maybe get a few Californian wines in a fine wine merchant, but now they have their own section in places like Oddbins, Eagle’s, Philglass & Swiggot, Hedonism Wine and the Last Drop. And those sections have grown dramatically,” he added. “If they don’t know their wine regions, they are still buying into a lifestyle, the sun, the sea, the beach, Hollywood, Mustangs – they can get a piece of the American Dream off the shelf or off the wine list, so that ‘picture’ is there.”

Shifting attitudes

The had been a discernible shift in attitude over the last five years, he noted, which represented the next big development for Californian wine – a greater recognition of the diversity and variety of wines that are made across the state, due to its size and diverse terroirs.

“You have mainstream California and IPOB wines [referring to In Pursuit of Balance, a non-profit organisation running from 2011-16 to promote dialogue around the meaning of balance in California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay], which brought great noise to the category but the two were almost competing with each other. But now people are buying Californian wine because it is good quality, whether that is something big and fruity like Terlato’s Federalist or something more restrained.”

“But California is so diverse, that is what people don’t understand here [in the UK] fully,” he said.

Terlato’s wines include ‘honest red blend’ Federalist, which Cramer said was the second faster growing brand in the US, and which is available in the UK through Matthew Clark.

“We wanted to create a brand that proclaims its American heritage, so it has Abe Lincoln on the label, and you can have a bit of fun with it,” he said.

The blend comprises Merlot from Mendocino County and Sonoma, Zinfandel from Napa Valley and Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon to give “smooth easy tannins and everyday drinking”.

Red blends were currently “a hot category” in the US, Cramer noted. “You can offer more complexity in terms of styles, where evolved, smooth tannins and fruit is approachable, and when you’re going for finesse,” he pointed out.

The value of California wine shipments to the US market hit $34.1 billion in 2016, up 4.6% on the previous year and a record for the golden state’s winemakers, The Wine Institute revealed in May

New drinks podcast helps you ‘drink better, not more’

8th August, 2017

The Thinking Drinkers, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, together with BBC Saturday Kitchen wine expert Sam Caporn MW, have released a new drinks podcast entitled ‘It’s The Drink Talking,’ with the aim of helping listeners to ‘drink better, not more’.

It’s The Drink Talking launched on 14 July and aims to be ‘fun, informative, enlightening and educational’. Covering BWS current affairs, social history and inspirational drinks-related figures, the podcast provides guidance with the ultimate goal to encourage listeners to ‘drink better, not more’.

The show is divided into three sections: ‘spit or swallow’, a tasting, and ‘legend of liquor.’ A new episode is released each week on Friday.

In the ‘spit or swallow’ section, one of the hosts discusses something that they like and dislike within the world of drinks. In the first four podcasts, the presenters have ‘spat’ at overdoing theatre in cocktails, blue wine, the banker’s ban on lunchtime beer and the duty on spirits. Meanwhile, they have ‘swallowed’ gin being added to the ONS shopping basket, the transformation of rosé, the science behind beer goggles, and liquor-loving rats.

This is followed by a tasting which to date has included sparkling wines, American IPAs, botanical gins and Chardonnay.

The final section, legend of liquor, pays tribute to a figure in drinks, whether historical or currently working in the business. So far, the hosts have mentioned 12th century nun and home-brewer Hildegard of Bingen; vodka swilling and triple distilling pioneer Peter the Great; wine fraud expert Maureen Downey, and 7ft 4in wrestler André René Roussimoff, also known as André the Giant, who holds the world record for the most bottles of beer drunk in one, six-hour session.

The Thinking Drinkers, otherwise known as Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, are drinks writers and comedy performers that regularly contribute to the Daily Telegraph and The Spectator and the Metro. They are currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe where they debuted The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol, a comedy show, in 2011.

In their own right, McFarland specialises in beer and is the author of World’s Best Beers: 1,000 Unmissable Brews from Portland to Prague and Boutique Beer: 500 of the World’s Finest Craft Brews. Sandham focuses on spirits and lectures on the subject at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust as well as being the author of several books including World’s Best Cocktails.

Sam Caporn MW passed her Master of Wine qualification in 2011, winning the Bollinger Medal for outstanding achievement in the practical paper while doing so. Under the pseudonym of ‘The Mistress of Wine’, she currently works as a wine consultant, judge, educator and a wine expert on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen.

Speaking to the drinks business about trio’s plans for the podcast, Caporn said the aim is “for it to roll so that there are no series as such but one a week.”

“We have recorded 12 so far and once the boys are back from performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, we will carry on recording in September”.

As is so often the case in the drinks industry, Caporn was introduced to both McFarland and Sandham through a friend of a friend. One of their mutual connections produces podcasts at 7 Digital.

Caporn added: “He suggested that the three of us, as we covered all of the main booze bases as experts in our respective fields, would make an entertaining combination to both educate and amuse, taking about beer, wine and spirits”.

“So we met up, recorded a pilot with 7 Digital and pushed ahead!”

When asked what was her ultimate goal for the podcast, Caporn said: “I guess to get a lot of people listening and enjoying learning about alcohol. It’s such a fascinating topic and there is so much to talk about so we want to help people learn about it so they can make better choices, drink better wines, beers and spirits, and as the Thinking Drinkers say, drink less but better”.

As for the intended audience, Caporn suggests that the “core demographic will be those aged between 18 and 50 and commuters or people exercising and chilling out at home”.

The podcast can be accessed here.