Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Champagne Offer 2012

The festive season has come around quickly, and it's yet again Christmas Champagne offer time. For anyone who hasn't received the offer by email and would like it, let me know:
The offer features out two small growers: Renard Barnier and Philippe Gonet. Not to be missed.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Burgundy harvest

One week from today I’ll be arriving in the Côte D’Or for the vendanges. I’ll be spending a few weeks in the cellar at Domaine Hubert Lignier, one of Robert’s long-standing producers of the highest quality pinot noir.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Matthieu Delaporte Makes Waves

In this month's 'Spurrier's World' in Decanter Magazine, Steven visits the Loire and makes special mention of Matthieu Delaporte, 24, who is 'fine-tuning' his whites and 'making waves' with Pinot Noir. The Delaportes have been making wines in Chavignol, Sancerre, for generations. Young Matthieu is pushing boundries, experimenting with pruning techniques on a small plot of pinot vines, and continuing his family's signature style of taught, elegant and expressive Sancerre wines. Of particular interest to wine enthusiasts will be his Cuvée Maximes (in both white and red). Steven Spurrier picks out the Pinot Noir as having 'complexity and vigour' with a northern purity. The white cuvée, like the red, is oak aged and will take drinkers into another realm of Sauvignon Blanc, made from vines of 50 years+ grown on clay-limestone soils. The Delaporte's white Sancerres have the fantastic and rare ability to age wonderfully. The current vintages (2011 for the unoaked Sancerre, and 2010 for the oaked Maxime) are both cellar worthy and will be hugely rewarding in years to come. Get in touch if you'd like to see for yourself. Email for further details and prices.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Rhône Trip with the Vinoteca boys

Charlie Young, Brett Woonton and Robert Rolls let loose in the Rhône earlier this year. Read Charlie's take on it here

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Medal Winners

Some of our producers have had a bit of success at the Decanter World Wine Awards this year:

Domaine Zinck Gewurztraminer 2010
Perusini Pinot Grigio 2010

Bronze Medals:
Chateau Le Grand Verdus Blanc 2011
Domaine Zinck Pinot Gris 'Terroir' 2010
Domaine Zinck Riesling 'Portrait' 2010
Domaine Zinck Riesling 'Terroir' 2010

Philippe Gonet Roy Soleil Grand Cru NV
Philippe Gonet Signature Blanc de Blancs NV
Perusini Ribolla Gialla 2010

Gold Medal:
Perusini Merlot Black Label 2008

Solid performances from our Alsace (Zinck) and Champagne (Gonet) growers, but bringing it home with the gold is Azienda Agricola Perusini, the one and only Italian on the RR books. Congratulazioni!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Delaporte Rosé

Read Jancis Robinson's recent Financial Times rosé article here and look to paragraph 5 for a glowing report of the current Delaporte Sancerre Rosé.
Please get in touch if you'd like to place an order and try some yourself.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Recent Review

Jancis Robinson has recently reviewed some of our summer wines. Here's what she had to say:

St André de Figuière, 'Magali' Rosé 2011: "haunting herby fragrance ... Clean, fairly dry and easy" 15/20

St André de Figuière, Les Vieilles Vignes Rosé 2011: "A different assemblage from the other two pink wines from the Combard family with the Mourvèdre dominating the Grenache and Cinsault, according to the back label, which also claims this wine can benefit from age. Delicate, smoky aromas. Clean cut across the palate. Very juicy with attractive freshness rather than astringency on the finish. Bone dry. Neat. A success. " 16/20

Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Sancerre Rosé 2011: "Quite a deep rose pink - like a pale Pinot Noir, which indeed it is. Surprisingly full of fruit and character on the nose (most pink Sancerre is anaemic in my experience). Definite Pinot fruit character and the fresh acidity of Sancerre. Bone dry finish. A very successful pink Sancerre." 16.5/20

Domaine Vincent Delaporte, Sancerre Blanc 2011: "Quite big and assertive. Nicely splits the difference between Loire restraint and New World exuberance. Any hint of green vegetation is nicely tempered by blackcurrant leaves and quite a bit of body. Neat and satisfying." 17/20  

Domaine Zinck, Muscat 'Terroir' 2010: "Handily on the back label is a graphic telling us this is sweetness level 2 out of 8. It is very slightly oily and the Muscat aromas are a little less exuberant than in Alsace's finest Muscats but it has a satisfying savoury long aftertaste. Clean, fresh minerality on the finish." 16/20

Please go to her 'Purple Pages' for the full report:

Friday, 27 April 2012

Spring Offer

Our Spring Offer is launched today - including fine wine bin ends and new season rosés. Contact if you'd like to receive the full offer list.

Friday, 9 March 2012

France Under One Roof

We'll be showing the full range of Renard Barnier Champagnes at next Tuesday's France Under One Roof tasting at Lord's Cricket Ground, for the trade and press. If you're going, come along and see us at Table 84.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Vinisud 2012

This week Robert and I spent two days at the biennial Vinisud trade fair in Montpellier, visiting our established producers, and hoping to chance upon some new finds. Vinisud shows wines from the whole Mediterranean basin, though we were really there to look at Southern France.

Vinisud is vast, bigger even that its closest neighbour, the Montpellier International Airport. There’s no point in wandering in and taking pot luck. If the visit confirmed one thing for me, it was that there is a hell of a lot of mediocre wine out there, with the rare anomaly of something so brilliant it beggars belief (I finally got to taste the otherworldly Domaine Tempier from Bandol). Pit stops with our handful of producers, mercifully, bucked the trend of mediocrity. Preignes le Neuf got us off to a good start, showing that entry level wines can have decent character and structure (particularly good was the 2011 Preignes le Neuf Chardonnay, Vin de Pays des Coteaux du Libron).
Next, Magali at Saint André de Figuѐre took us through her impressive range of Provençal wines.  Particular stand outs were the Valérie Blanc 2011, which is a peachy, concentrated blend of Vermentino, Ugni Blanc and Semillon, and the top selection range, ‘Confidentielle’, AOC La Londe, with vines grown on the isolated patch of schist in the Provence region.
The second day saw us focus on the Rhône, starting with Domaine Belle of Crozes Hermitage. Robert was introduced to Philippe Belle by Yves Gras of Domaine Santa Duc in Gigondas, with whom he has worked for many years. Belle’s balanced, deep syrahs have always appealed, but I think the tasting at Vinisud rather astonished Robert in its level. For me it was my first chance to taste through the whole range and get to grips with the viticulture and winemaking with Philippe.
With the winery in Larnage, Crozes Hermintage, the Domaine has vines in Crozes, St Joseph and the much lauded Hermitage. The La Roche Blanche 2010, made from old vine Marsanne grown on kaolin (white chalk) was brilliantly perfumed and had delicious concentration in the mouth. Tasting the 2009 and 2010 Hermitage Blancs next to one another it was interesting to see the stark elevation of the 2010’s complexity. This theme continued with the reds.... the 2009s were all well balanced, well made, with lovely fruit character and supple length, but the 2010s just had something more, some other dimension I don’t even know how to describe. It really was a revelation tasting thought the three Crozes Hermitage blends (Les Pierreles, Cuvée Louis Belle, Roche Pierre), the St Joseph Les Rivoires, as well as the Hermitage.
An exploration through the Chateauneuf-du-Pape stand turned up disappointment after disappointment, which I have to say I wasn’t expecting. The praise from the press for the Southern Rhône 2010s has been effusive, and if Belle’s Northern Rhônes were anything to go by I thought we’d find some knockouts in Chateauneuf. We tried boring wines, dirty wines, and some downright weird wines until finally we did stumble across a bit of a gem. I’ll mention no names at this point, but this Chateauneuf producer might be finding its way onto the RR lists soon. They make the most unusual, but completely delightful and more-ish Côtes du Rhône Blanc made from a ancient native variety (the effect was uncannily like a top class Vouvray Sec) , and the 2008 Chateauneuf-du-Pape that had Rob hopping with excitement.
We’ll be getting together a 2010 offer for Domaine Belle et al. soon, so get in touch if you’d like to be contacted with prices. Please email me at

Monday, 13 February 2012

Gonet Champagne

Chantal's map of the family vineyards:

Siblings Chantal and Pierre Gonet are 7th generation family growers in the Grand Cru village of Le Mesnil. Winemaker Pierre combines modern winemaking methods and traditional techniques to bring out the best of the minerality and structure of their 19 hectare estate on the Mesnil terroir. This is single vineyard blanc de blancs Champagne at its best, a rare gem in the world of big brand Champagne houses, and is now beginning to sideline many of these famous names in the upper echelons of London restaurants.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Domaine Zinck

Philippe Zinck from Alsace was in town this week to show his wines to some London restaurants. The Riesling 2010 looks set for a bright future (5g/l r.s., soaring acidity, lime zest freshness). Both the Muscat and Gewurz 2009s were showing fantastic complexity and sustained mid-palate concentration. It is not a coincidence that both these wines come from vines over 50 years old.

The 2009 vintage was a hot one, and the wines are rounder with slightly lower acidity than the average year. But let us not forget what acidity levels in Alsace are: these wines still have great balance and freshness, with a textured weight (and great acidity in comparison to any other region!). The 2010 is back to a much more classic Alsace style with high, tight acidity, and spiced perfume. Definitely one to watch.

As of the 2011 vendanges Domaine Zinck is 100% organically farmed. All the whites are handpicked and whole bunch pressed to retain the naturally pure aromatics and focused minerality of the palates.

Since Philippe took over from father Paul Zinck this domaine has gone from strength to strength. It is fast rising in international repute as a producer of classically styled but modern Alsace wines of outstanding quality and finesse.

Philippe was impressed with the attitude of the London restaurant scene, where waiters and bar staff are encouraged to taste alongside wine buyers and sommeliers with visiting growers, meaning they really understand the wines on their lists.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Saint André de Figuiѐre

The middle of winter may feel like a strange time to think about Provence Rosé, but this fantastic Domaine we work with has been telling us about some recent changes and their optimism for the future.

Saint André de Figuiѐre have begun construction of a 1.000m square building to house their bottling line, a new vat room (with 300hl capacity), and more storage space. This means that their winemaking, bottling, and storage will now be centralized. New labels have been designed, and a new white wine will be added to the collection. The release of 'Atmosphere' 2010 will mark the second release of their Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine. And from the 'traditionelle' to the technological, a Q.R code (or flash code) will be added to the back labels of their four rosé wines, which will allow you to watch a short video filmed at the Domaine that gives advice on tasting and pairing with food.

For a full list of the Saint André de Figuiѐre's wines that are available from Robert Rolls click here.