Pol Roger Masterclass

by Blog admin 6 November 2013 13:10

Pol Roger is a connoisseur’s Champagne,” began James Simpson MW in his introduction to the evening, “most people start with the big brands and then graduate to Pol Roger.

Although many of the guests at this week’s masterclass were no strangers to this world-renowned producer, it was still a delight to welcome Pol Roger’s Sales and Marketing Director and noted Master of Wine, James Simpson to offer a closer look at the House’s production and history.


Upon arrival, guests enjoyed the most recent release of the Pol Roger Brut Reserve Non-Vintage. Simpson remarked that this was a particularly good version of the Non-Vintage as it had a large proportion of the excellent, 2008 vintage in the blend. It was paired with an appetizing array of freshly prepared canapés from Chef Antonia: Soya and mirin glazed salmon brochettes; Bacon, potato and goat’s cheese cakes with plum and apple relish; Confit of pork belly served with quince aioli; Red onion and fennel tartin.

The event’s wines were then presented in three flights: Blanc de Blancs, Brut Vintage, and Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, with three key vintages in each set, allowing guests to directly compare the nuances between them and to examine the development of each style.

Flight 1:
2002 Blanc de Blancs, Pol Roger
2000 Blanc de Blancs, Pol Roger
1996 Blanc de Blancs, Pol Roger

Flight 2:
2004 Brut Vintage, Pol Roger
2002 Brut Vintage, Pol Roger
2000 Brut Vintage, Pol Roger

Flight 3:
2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, Pol Roger
1998 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, Pol Roger
1990 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill, Pol Roger


As he presented each wine, Simpson expertly wove in all of the technical details on what occurs in the vineyard, the winery, and the cellar at this traditional, family-owned estate.. “Before you get your bottle of Pol Roger, in order to ensure that the quality is at the very highest level, it will have been handled at least 45 times." He went on to explain that, while not all of the grapes are picked by hand, all of the steps involved after that, from remuage to disgorgement, are still done by hand.

While Pol Roger does not hire celebrity brand ambassadors like many of their competitors, it does proudly promote its most famous client through their prestige cuvée.

Sir Winston Churchill had a lifelong ‘attachment’ to Pol Roger and he insisted on enjoying the wine at every occasion, even during the most dangerous and dark periods of wartime. He famously borrowed a slogan of Napoleon’s to describe his passion for this supremely invigorating Champagne: “In defeat I need it, in victory I deserve it.

In fact, historical records estimate that more than 500 cases of Pol Roger passed through Churchill’s cellars in the last ten years of his life. Pol Roger introduced the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill to the market in 1984 (with the release of the 1975 vintage), crafting the wine exclusively from Grand Cru plots that were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime. This exemplary and majestic cuvée is only made in the very best vintages.

By show of hands, it was determined that the favourite wines from each flight were the 1996 Blanc de Blancs, the 2000 Brut Vintage, and 1990 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill.

After the presentation, guests tasted all of the Champagnes again with a number of delicious dishes: Warm Puy Lentil Salad with celeriac, hazelnuts, and mint, and Pork with prunes and cider mash served on celeriac mash – agreeing that not only are these wines superb on their own, they are also incredibly food friendly and versatile.

On 11th of December, we will be holding a 5 Decades of Château d’Yquem & 5-Course, Michelin Star Dinner at Nobu and on 16th December, Thomas Duroux, Director of Château Palmer, will be presenting an exceptional range of the estate’s Grand Vin and Second Label: Palmer and Alter Ego de Palmer. Book your tickets now to join us for one of these upcoming evenings.

2005 Bordeaux Horizontal

by Blog admin 12 August 2013 10:30

2005 marked a monumental year in Bordeaux. Not only was it the third of the five, supremely great Bordeaux vintages of the 2000s, it was also the vintage that really ignited the global demand – pushed by a growing consumer base in Asia - for the region’s finest wines. In order to allow our clients to gain greater insight into the wines from this year, we recently welcomed Stephen Brook, one of the world’s leading experts on the region, as well as noted wine author and wine competition judge, to lead us through eight examples from this stellar vintage.

Stephen Brook


Prior to the vintage horizontal, Stephen and our guests enjoyed a Champagne reception with a selection of hot and cold canapés, including beef carpaccio crostini with rocket, parmesan, crème fraiche and truffle oil, pumpkin tortellini with sage butter, and salmon, quail egg and hollandaise baskets, as well as mini salmon fishcakes with tartar sauce. Our in-house chef certainly outdid herself on this occasion!

Champagne Reception


To start things off, Stephen reviewed some of his own notes on the 2005 vintage for both the Left and Right Banks, as well as for Sauternes, explaining that for each of these areas, "2005 stood out, from the very beginning and from the very earliest sampling sessions, as one of the best Bordeaux years in recent memory."

Right Bank
Wine 1: 2005 Château Gazin
Wine 2: 2005 Vieux Château Certan
Wine 3: 2005 Château Trottevieille

Left Bank
Wine 4: 2005 Château Beychevelle
Wine 5: 2005 Château Léoville Poyferré
Wine 6: 2005 Château Palmer

Wine 7: 2005 Château Climens
Wine 8: 2005 Château d’Yquem

2005 Bordeaux Horizontal


The line-up started beautifully, with Château Gazin receiving a warm reception. Stephen commented that the estate’s plots are almost completely dominated by Merlot vines and that the land is of such high quality and is so ideal for the variety that in the 1970s, 4.5 ha of Gazin’s property was actually sold off to famous, neighbouring estate, Château Pétrus. Many people indicated their surprise at just how developed the Gazin already seemed for a 2005, however, Stephen felt that the wine still had significant potential to age well and that there remained a fine future ahead of it.

Guests at the event


Despite being located less than 500 metres away from Gazin, Vieux Château Certan, the night’s second wine, had a completely different aroma and flavour profile, with greater wood influence - 100% new oak is used – as well as an unusual, herbaceous character with hints of dark chocolate and smoke. Despite VCC’s justifiable fame, overall, it was actually the third and final Right Bank wine, the 2005 Château Trottevieille, which was the favourite of the regional selections, with Stephen exclaiming that he felt it had, "really impressive length and that the acidity and structure would to allow it to go the distance."

Moving across the river and on to the Left Bank, it was the 2005 Château Beychevelle that led off the flight. Stephen explained how the ship with the dragon head on its prow - that emblem that appears on the wine’s label - helped sales of Beychevelle soar in certain markets, particularly in China, with the upswing in demand increasing dramatically around the time of the 2005 release. Interestingly, the 2005 vintage was also the first year that Beychevelle did not utilise the process of chaptalisation – this is a winemaking technique by which additional sugar is added to the just-crushed grapes in order to increase the potential alcohol that will result from their fermentation.

Guests at the event


While the Château Léoville-Poyferré was certainly well constructed and tasty, for Stephen, as well as for the majority of the guests, it was the sixth wine, Château Palmer, which stole the show. The estate is named after General Charles Palmer, who acquired the property in 1814. Situated just a stone’s through from First Growth Château Margaux, the vineyards of Palmer are farmed completely organically, which is still a rare occurrence in Bordeaux.

After guests had a chance to go back and re-sample all of the red wines and discuss their notes with Stephen, everyone moved on to the final two wines of the night – the 2005 Château Climens and the 2005 Château d’Yquem.

Chateau Climens and Chateau d'Yquem


The freshness and elegance of the Climens, which had a wealth of beguiling and attractive, floral notes was absolutely invigorating – particularly because the evening’s weather was quite warm and the bottle was nicely chilled. The finish on this wine was strikingly long and Stephen said that he’d wager that it could be placed in a cellar and enjoyed in 50 years’ time, without any issue.

In comparison, Château d’Yquem displayed significantly more texture and a notable creaminess on the palate. However, the acidity was so spectacular that it didn’t come off as overly heavy or cloying in any way. The delicious flavours of marmalade and crème brûlée that will appear significantly and will dominate the palate profile as this wine continues to age were only just starting to show themselves.

With everyone in agreement that 2005 was an exceptional vintage, by popular vote, it was decided that the Red Wine of The Night was the 2005 Château Palmer and that the favourite between the two Sauternes was easily the 2005 Château d’Yquem.

Chateau Palmer


In October we will be welcoming Steven Spurrier, author, judge and wine educator, to present a ‘parallel horizontal’ (the 1998 vintage versus the 2007 vintage from four different estates) of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Mr. Spurrier will also be bringing a special bottle from his own personal cellar to share with everyone at the end of the evening. This event is going to be quite popular, so ensure you book your tickets early. We hope to see you there.

Shades of Provence

by Blog admin 1 August 2013 12:23

Earlier this month, on the hottest day of the entire year in London thus far, expert wine writer and educator, Richard Hemming, of JancisRobinson.com, hosted our Shades of Provence: Rosé Masterclass & Regional Food Pairings event at AWC Wine Academy. The weather was ideal for enjoying rosé and all of the wines were expertly matched with delicious, Provence-inspired dishes throughout the evening.

Richard Hemming


As the rosés were being chilled down to their optimum serving temperature, guests were welcomed with a refreshing glass of Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Champagne and canapés with a Mediterranean twist. This included savoury tomato and olive tapenade tartlets, lemon flavoured salmon ceviche en croute and grilled courgette rolls with rocket & goats cheese.

During the first flight of wines, Richard introduced attendees to the processes involved with making rosé and the scope of rosé production in Provence. He explained that whilst 88% of total output in Provence is rosé wine, it accounts for only 8% of the world’s total production of rosé (however, it certainly remains the most premium and the highest quality).



Ensuring that attendees knew how to properly asses a rosé wine, Richard went on to briefly explain how these wines differ from whites and reds and what one should look for in the appearance, nose and palate in order to come to an overall conclusion on the quality of a rosé. He explained that the evening’s nine wines were categorized into three different flights with the following themes: very pale rosés from the Côtes de Provence, slightly fuller-bodied rosés from Bandol, and the Super Premium rosés that are currently the finest and rarest styles in production.

Flight 1: Côtes de Provence
Wine 1: 2010 Château Miraval, Côtes de Provence Rosé
Wine 2: Château Minuty, Rosé et Or
Wine 3: 2012 Domaines Ott, Château de Selle Rosé, Coeur de Grain

Flight 2: Bandol
Wine 4: 2012 Domaine la Suffrène, Rosé Tradition
Wine 5: 2012 Château de Pibarnon, Rosé
Wine 6: 2012 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rosé

Flight 3: Super Premium
Wine 7: 2012 Château Simone, Rosé Palette
Wine 8: 2010 Domaine de la Source, Bellet
Wine 9: 2010 Château d’Esclans, Les Clans

The Wines


Two out of three of the wines in the first flight were the classic, ‘white peach flesh’ colour one would expect to find in a quintessential Provence rosé, a trait that guests were easily able to see from the built-in light boxes that are situated at each table in the Academy.



For the food, this first flight was paired with a light, seared tuna niçoise salad with quail eggs and rosemary croutons. It not only complimented the starting wines wonderfully, it was also a delectable choice to lead off the evening’s dishes.



The second flight of wines all had noticeably fuller and more concentrated palates compared to the first flight. There was a greater evidence of specific fruit characteristics and a noticeable persistence of flavour evident in all of them but particularly in the 2012 Domaine la Suffrène. As we moved further through this second set of Bandol selections, we reached Wine 6, the 2012 Domaine Tempier, which is, without a doubt, one of the most exceptional and well respected wines from the entire Bandol region. A deliciously creamy seafood risotto with langoustine and threads of saffron was served alongside the wines, perfectly complimenting this fuller style of rosé.

Between flights and food pairings the room was full of lively debate, as some people clearly preferred the higher acid and Sancerre-like, as well as somewhat herbaceous, character of certain wines, whilst others enjoyed the more fruit-forward examples and the wines that offered hints of melon, peach and red berries.

After the final wines were poured, Richard moved swiftly on to Wine 7, the 2012 Château Simone. Out of all the wines tasted on the night, this was the only one to show some noticeable tannin due to the longer maceration time that is applied during the vinification process. Richard also pointed out that Wine 8, which uses a very rare grape variety called Braquet, could quite easily be mistaken for a white wine if tasted blind due to its flavour profile and complexity. There are only 12 hectares of Braquet in the entire world, all of them are in one Provence village and Domaine de la Source owns half of the total, thereby establishing this wine’s premium positioning.



The evening ended with the 2010 Château d’Esclans, Les Clans – the most luxurious wine of the night. Produced using classically Burgundian winemaking techniques and with the influence of new, French oak barrels, the wine had a subtle hint of coconut and was exceptionally creamy on the palate.

As we finished this last wine, we also enjoyed the night’s final dish, lamb cutlets with anchovy and rosemary breadcrumbs, salsa verde and wilted chard, Richard received a round of applause from a room of very satisfied guests and it was revealed that the wine of the night was the 2012 Domaine Tempier.

Attendees enjoying the final flight of wines


In August we have the WSET Level 1 Certified Course being held here at the Wine Academy, as well as some great events throughout September, such as The Importance of Glassware: A Tutored Comparison on 10th September and a Château Pape Clément Masterclass on 17th September.

Château Belle-Brise Vertical

by Blog admin 15 July 2013 09:56

Last week, we were delighted to welcome Henri-Bruno de Coincy to present wines from his estate, Château Belle-Brise, which is one of Pomerol’s greatest secrets. This tiny, 2 hectare property has a miniscule, annual production of just 800 bottles (similar to neighbouring, Pomerol stand-out, Château Le Pin).

Due to the small output and the fact that they do not sell any of their wines via En Primeur, in most vintages Château Belle-Brise can barely satisfy the market demand from their pre-existing, long-time customers. Principally this includes some of the world’s greatest, Michelin starred restaurants in locations such as Monaco, Switzerland and Japan, as well as the Élysée Palace in Paris and Hôtel Matignon, the official residence of the French Prime Minister.

Château Belle-Brise Bottles

During the welcome reception, guests were treated to glasses of Franck Bonville Blanc de Blancs Champagne and canapés prepared by AWC’s in-house chef, all of which featured local, seasonal ingredients. These included such delights as warm asparagus, goat cheese and black olive tartlets with red pepper pesto, pork and fennel sausage rolls and mini shepherds pies.

Reflecting the artisanal and family focused approach that Henri takes with his estate, it was lovely to see him arrive with his two daughters and wife for the masterclass.



As the guests took their seats, he greeted everyone warmly and began his very personal and illustrious presentation of the Château’s history and production – entirely in French. Luckily, AWC’s Purchasing Manager, Robert Hankey, was there to provide an excellent and continuous English translation.

Following the introduction, guests enjoyed a vertical of the 8 most recent vintages, aside from 2003 due to it being completely sold out – even Henri said he has none left in his library cellar:



The Pairs of Château Belle-Brise

Guests remarked that the purity of each vintage was outstanding and that the varying influences of the weather and harvest shone through on the palate. The 2010 was bold, with very ripe, dark fruit flavours and firm tannins, while the 2009 displayed a more elegant palate of sweet, red fruits and softer tannins, being quite reminiscent of a very fine Burgundy from a warm vintage.

Tasting Château Belle-Brise

Henri spoke at length about his transition from the banking industry to the world of fine wine, as he first settled in Bas-Armagnac – where his family has made Armagnac for over 700 years at La Fontaine de Coincy - and he worked on reuniting more than 30 separate plots of land that had been sold off over the generations to re-form the original Domaine de Toujun estate, which now produces a still white wine.

He confessed his passion and commitment to all things natural and to the concept of complete terroir expression. Through his acquisition of Château Belle-Brise in 1991 he settled in Pomerol and adopted the same methods that he had already been practicing in Armagnac. Although many Left Bank estates have already done so, Henri is now the first producer in Pomerol to reintroduce the use of horses to work the vines.

While the guests enjoyed discussing the intricacies between the various, recent vintages, a show of hands proved 2005 was the clear wine of the night.

One of the guests commented that, “I thought the wines were very good and [I now] understand the Burgundy comparison…the 2009 and 2005 were my favourites (along with the 2008)…the 2005, in my opinion, was the shining star, [with] really good structure, complexity, excellent length and balance...it was a surprising tasting for me because I haven’t been too excited about Bordeaux recently but it proved to me that I shouldn’t forget them…also that good Pomerol is really classy and can have excellent texture and weight.”

Following the presentation, attendees revisited the wines alongside freshly prepared polenta with mushroom ragout and slow roasted lamb shoulder served over sweet potato mash.

Enjoying Château Belle-Brise

If you’re interested in purchasing selections from Château Belle-Brise, please contact us directly as AWC is now the exclusive agent, importer and distributor for the estate in the UK.

We also have some fantastic events coming up here at AWC Wine Academy, including a 2005 Bordeaux Horizontal: Fine Wine Seminar with Stephen Brook on 23rd July, and a WSET Level 2 Certified Course running between 21-23 August. We hope to welcome you to one of these evenings, or to one of our many other upcoming events in the near future.

Super Tuscan Rarities: Special Italian Masterclass

by Blog admin 12 July 2013 07:34

Walter Speller, Italian Wine Correspondent for Jancis Robinson MW’s website, led an exceptional Masterclass at AWC yesterday evening, which saw guests enjoy a number of outstanding vintages from Masseto, Ornellaia, Solaia and Sassicaia.

Walter Speller


Our in-house chef created some stupendous, Italian-inspired canapés specifically for the event. These included prosciutto wrapped prawns, shaved fennel and parmesan wrapped in bresaola, and butternut squash arancini, which were served to guests along with Champagne to start off the evening.

Prosciutto wrapped prawns canapes


For the main event, each of the below wines were openly displayed, except for the final wine which was served blind.

Super Tuscan Rarities: Special Italian Masterclass


Walter began by explaining to everyone the term ‘Super Tuscan’ and the fact that it refers to wines that were originally produced outside of Italian wine production law. This was because international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as French oak, tended to be used and this meant that they could not be recognised by the EU. Producers coined the term ‘Super Tuscan’ to distinguish their wines from the more traditionally-styled, relatively inexpensive and generally lower-quality wines that Tuscany was known for producing at that time. Today, the majority of Super Tuscans use the legal appellation of IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), which allows for more flexibility than the likes of Chianti and other Tuscan DOCs.

Wines from the masterclass


As guests tasted through the various vintages of Ornellaia, Walter described how a fruit selection method pioneered within French cellars is applied when producing these wines as well. In particular, the grapes are individually inspected by hand and any that look at all imperfect are carefully removed.

When transitioning to the fourth wine, guests learned how Masseto’s vineyard is split into three parts and that it is the clay section of the vineyard that provides the ideal soil for producing this particular, stand-out wine. Walter rightly described it as being ‘one of the best examples of a Merlot wine anywhere,’ with which most of the assembled agreed whole-heartedly.

2003 Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia, Masseto


Discussion between the guests and Walter grew throughout the evening, particularly concerning matters of the effect that global warming has had on the production of wines in Tuscany and the differences between the various vintages of each wine in the line-up, as, for example, guests preferred the 2007 over the 2000 Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia.

Group discussion


Following the eight wines, guests reached wine nine, which was tasted blind. To add a competitive element guests were informed that whichever person correctly guessed the vintage and type of wine, they would win a complimentary bottle of 2000 Sassicaia – an impressive prize indeed! Gradually the vintages were whittled down until one lucky attendee correctly guessed the wine as a 1987 Sassicaia, which meant that they went home with a superb bottle to add to their collection.

Range of Sassicaia wines


Bowls of spring vegetable risotto and duck, black olive and tomato ragu were served to guests as they revisited their favourite wines of the evening and discussed the wines on offer. By popular vote it was revealed that the wine of the night was the 2007 Tenuta San Guido, Sassicaia, followed closely by the 2003 Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia Masseto.

Bowls of Risotto


Later this month we have a fantastic 2005 Bordeaux Horizontal: Fine Wine Seminar presented by wine expert and author Stephen Brook, followed by a Private Collection Showcase: 1997 Piedmont & Tuscan Treasures on 4th September. We hope to see you at of our Wine Academy events in the near future.

Château Haut-Bailly Vertical

by Blog admin 12 July 2013 05:27

We were delighted to welcome Véronique Sanders, Managing Director of Château Haut-Bailly, to AWC earlier this week for an insightful and engaging vertical of the estate’s wines.

During the Champagne reception, which featured our superior house selection, Champagne Franck Bonville, guests enjoyed canapés of smoked salmon and sweet potato rosti, confit of pork belly with quince aioli, and chervil pancakes with aubergine caviar and pomegranate. Certainly this was a very delicious way to start off the evening!

Pouring the wines


Véronique started out by giving everyone a thorough overview of Pessac-Léognan and Château Haut-Bailly’s place in the Graves region. Explaining the long history of the property, she revealed that in the beginning of the 20th century, Château Haut Bailly was actually considered amongst the Top 8 of the greatest Bordeaux estates, alongside the likes of Château d’Yquem, Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, Château Ausone, Château Margaux, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Haut-Brion. Amazingly, she even had an original advertorial print to prove the point!

Advertorial print for Chateau Haut-Bailly


The Sanders family had owned Château Haut-Bailly for 4 consecutive generations until 1998 when it was sold to an American banker. While Véronique admitted that it was a difficult decision to sell the estate, she was pleased to have been appointed Managing Director by the new owner and she reported that she still works just as passionately as she would if the estate was still her own. She was also pleased to note that they are very much on track to achieve the objectives that they had originally set out for themselves during the sale proceedings.

Responsible for every major decision at Château Haut-Bailly and travelling over 50% of the time, Sanders maintains this is a, “fantastic profession– one day you can be in the vineyard, the next in the cellars, and the following in another country altogether promoting the wines you produce.”

Veronique Sanders


Véronique strives to maintain the identity of Château Haut-Bailly year after year. If they’re not happy with how a vintage shows, they simply won’t bottle it. That, she comments, “is a very expensive decision to make, believe me!” However, if they’re not convinced that the wine will achieve anything less than the excellence and elegance they expect, then they also wouldn’t want their consumers to experience it and they are willing to take the loss of not releasing the wine.

Following the introductory overview, guests went on to experience the following, carefully paired vintages:

  • Pair 1: 2010 Château Haut-Bailly and 2009 Château Haut-Bailly
  • Pair 2: 2008 Château Haut-Bailly and 2006 Château Haut-Bailly
  • Pair 3: 2005 Château Haut-Bailly and 2004 Château Haut-Bailly
  • Pair 4: 2000 Château Haut-Bailly and 1998 Château Haut-Bailly

The Haut-Bailly Vertical


Beginning with the first pair, 2009 was described as being exceptionally charming with its long, silky finish. Véronique admitted that when 2010 vintage came along right after the success of the 2009 they were amazed that a wine of such high but equal quality could be produced. How could it be that the alcohol, sugars, tannins and acidity could be so high? “No one will ever believe us, we all thought!” With this, she also acknowledged the importance of wine critics and the key role that they play, “it’s great to produce a fantastic wine, but people need to be told about it.

Sampling the vintage pairs


For Véronique, 2008 was a good, representative example of Château Haut-Bailly’s house style, with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot in the blend. As guests moved through the pairs, questions began to flow regarding her views on this particularity of this style and how it differs from the neighbouring estates, along with more technical queries on such areas as average annual production levels and the processes involved in harvest.

Reflecting, Véronique recalled a time she enjoyed a magnum of 1964 Château Haut-Bailly. She said she instantly recognised the taste, texture and aroma of the wine and that in tasting it she felt transported back to the times she spent with her grandfather as a young girl. Recalling this, she spoke of how wine can have quite strong emotional ties to certain points in someone’s life and that the taste and smell of a particular wine can easily transport you back to a specific memory.

Veronique Sanders


The vote for Wine of The Night was overwhelming in favour of the 2000 vintage. Guests commented that although all of the vintages presented were remarkably consistent and pure, the 2000 was an outstanding and complex wine that showed beautiful development and yet promised a long life ahead of it still.

Guests were then given the opportunity to retaste each vintage and dine on a light, seasonal supper, while Véronique answered additional questions and wrapped up a thoroughly enjoyable and informative vertical.

The following day, The Drinks Business also had quite a nice article on the event. You can read it here.

Comparing Notes


We look forward to welcoming you to one of our upcoming events at AWC Wine Academy in the near future, such as our 2005 Bordeaux Horizontal: Fine Wine Seminar on 23rd July, or our Private Collection Showcase: 1997 Piedmont & Tuscan Treasures on 4th September.

Château La Conseillante Vertical

by Blog admin 3 July 2013 12:54

Last week, Jean-Michel Laporte, Director of Château La Conseillante, flew over to London from his property in Pomerol to present a fantastic vertical of the estate’s wines.

Jean-Michel Laporte


As guests settled into their seats following a wonderful Champagne and canapé reception that featured seared scallops with cauliflower purée and pomegranate and orange salsa, rare roast beef with caponata served on bruschetta, and pumpkin, thyme and gorgonzola tartin, Jean-Michel kindly commented to the audience that AWC Wine Academy was one of the best tasting rooms he had ever seen, anywhere in the world.

Seared scallops with cauliflower puree and pomegranate


Taking guests on a virtual tour of the region of Pomerol, Jean-Michel began by speaking passionately about the region and by telling guests that if there was to be one thing that they should take away from the evening, he preferred it be this – that because it straddles the appellation border, Château La Conseillante is, in reality, actually a blend of both Saint-Émilion and Pomerol, something which is quite unusual amongst the châteaux of the region.

As a long standing family operation, it is now the fifth generation that is in charge of the property. The family’s overall goal is still to preserve the style of the wines and the estate’s history and to continue crafting the wines with the same ‘soul’ of La Conseillante, as has been done on the property for several centuries now.

Guests enjoy the vertical


Following the introduction, guests enjoyed the following, eight vintage vertical:

  • Pair 1: 2010 Château La Conseillante and 2009 Château La Conseillante
  • Pair 2: 2008 Château La Conseillante and 2005 Château La Conseillante
  • Pair 3: 2001 Château La Conseillante and 2000 Château La Conseillante
  • Pair 4: 1998 Château La Conseillante and 1996 Château La Conseillante

La Conseillante Vertical


The 2010 was described by several guests as having a more spectacular finish than the 2009, although both were vibrant and complex. Jean-Michel said he finds that he, personally, now enjoys the 2010 more than the 2009 despite them both being wines that are approachable quite early in their lives.

As for pair two, the tannins present in the 2008 were not as prominent as those in 2005. Interestingly though, both wines have been rated similarly by critics, with the 2008 scoring 95 points from Robert Parker at The Wine Advocate and the 2005 scoring a 96. Despite having this in common, the difference between the two wines was certainly noticeable, as the 2005 was significantly more balanced and offered an increased roundness in the mouth, more explosive aromas, pronounced but smooth tannins, better acidity and a greater sense of finesse.

Guests take notes about their favourite wines


The third pair, 2001 and 2000, presented the room with the biggest challenge. Attendees found it hard to choose their favourite of the two, with both wines receiving an outstanding reception. Jean-Michel explained that when he first arrived at La Conseillante, he asked to taste a vertical of the wines in order to fully immerse himself in the history of the estate. At that time it was the 2000 which stole the show for him. However, in the intervening years, his personal preference has now changed to the 2001, which he believes is the wine that best reflects the ‘true identity of La Conseillante.’

The 1996 vintage in the final pairing, Jean-Michel confessed, is more widely known as a superlative vintage on the Left Bank. However, he noted that 1996 was also very successful at La Conseillante specifically and it was very nice to compare it against the 1998 as the ageing of the two wines seems to have taken a similar trajectory. Both wines showed nuanced and layered fragrances and flavours of finely aged claret, however, it was the 1996 which seemed to edge out the 1998 as it had a slightly more expressive and floral nose.

After an interesting, insightful and highly enjoyable evening, attendees indulged in bowls of lamb, rosemary and black olive stew which was served over roasted garlic mash, as well as warm, puy lentil salad with celeriac, hazelnuts and mint, while they continued enjoying their favourite vintages. Ultimately, it was quite hard to decide on the Wine of The Night, as the room was very much split between the 1998, 2000 and 2001.

Lamb and rosemary stew


We have some fantastic events coming up here at AWC Wine Academy, including a Château Haut-Bailly Vertical with Veronique Sanders, Director of Château Haut-Bailly on 8th July, and a Super Tuscan Rarities: Special Italian Masterclass with Walter Speller (Italian Wine Correspondent for Jancis Robinson, MW) on 10th July. We hope to welcome you to one of these, or one of our many other upcoming events very soon.

Red & White Burgundy Masterclass: 1er and Grand Cru Selections

by Blog admin 17 June 2013 11:39

Award-winning wine expert and respected author, Mr. Robert Joseph, guided attendees through an exceptional selection of Premier and Grand Cru Burgundies last week here at AWC Wine Academy.

Robert Joseph checks the wines for the evening

After a Champagne and canapé reception, the evening began with the following four whites:

  • 2009 Meursault-Goutte d’Or 1er Cru, Domaine des Comtes Lafon
  • 2005 Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru, Domaine Billaud-Simon
  • 2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru, Domaine Bonneau du Martray
  • 2007 Montrachet Grand Cru, Maison Louis Latour

Although the order was a bit unusual, Robert explained his reasoning behind starting with the Meursault rather than with the Chablis. As both wines were examples of newer styles of winemaking in their regions - with less and more oak influence respectively - than might otherwise be found, this dictated the order change.

The 2009 Meursault-Goutte d’Or 1er Cru, Domaine des Comtes Lafon was a beautiful starting point. Rich and opulent, with layered flavours of lemon meringue and sweet, grapefruit pith, it thankfully lacked the intense, new wood influence that can, in certain vintages, be overpowering in this wine. All in all, it was a very classy effort from a first rate producer.

Having previously lived in Burgundy for 6 years, Robert reminisced about his first impressions of the town of Chablis and explained how the use of new oak in the region has transformed over the years from a simple method of storage to a purposeful, stylistic production choice. An example of even-handed oak use would be the 2005 Chablis Vaudesir Grand Cru, Domaine Billaud-Simon which we enjoyed next. It remains one of our favourite ever white wines here at AWC because it is a serious, mineral-driven, ‘Chablis lover’s Chablis’ and also a simply brilliant, everyday drinking Chardonnay.

Guests at the Masterclass

Given that there were a few of London’s star sommeliers in attendance, Robert put them to the test by asking which foods they would serve with the Meursault in order to enhance its character. The confident consensus amongst the service professionals was that either a roast chicken or sautéed lobster dish, or perhaps an assortment of creamy, cow’s milk cheeses, would enrich the qualities of the wine beautifully.

White Burgundy Selections

After the first two wines, Robert kindly asked everyone to alter the finishing order and take a sip of the 2007 Montrachet Grand Cru from Maison Louis Latour before the 2007 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru from Domaine Bonneau du Martray. By way of explanation, he noted that when he tested all of the wines before the start of the evening, the Corton-Charlemagne was actually his favourite of the whites. Despite the inarguable pedigree and the impressive nature of the Montrachet, Robert felt that by enjoying the wines in reverse order it would allow everyone to appreciate the full magnitude of the Corton-Charlemagne. This was prescient, as the group ultimately voted the Corton-Charlemagne as their top white of the night.

Sampling the White Burgundy wines

We then moved on to the following red selections:

  • 2008 Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1er Cru, Domaine Robert Groffier
  • 2007 Griotte-Chambertin Grand Cru, Domaine Claude Dugat
  • 2005 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru, Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot
  • ‘Mystery’ Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

Robert divulged that he believes people don’t pay enough attention to the texture of wines as they should, whilst perhaps simultaneously paying too much attention to the aromas. Surprisingly, he also maintained that people don’t necessarily smell wines as much as they believe they do.
Despite the differences between the various vintages, crus, and producers of the reds it was still incredible to experience such an obvious variance between the wines, particularly considering they all came from the same variety and were all produced within the same decade, “that’s the power of terroir for you,” explained Robert.

The highlight and grand finale of the night was the mystery Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, selection which was served blind. Teasing guests with a game of ‘Wine Options’, Robert whittled down the various facts about the wine until there was one clear winner in the room, who successfully guessed the correct wine in its entirety - a 1999 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru, Cuvée Duvault-Blochet. It is fair to say that this was definitely the red wine of the night and that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all, as there were nothing but completely empty glasses left at each table afterwards!

Red Burgundy Selections

At the end of the evening, guests dined on two delicious dishes - roast pork shoulder with prunes served over celeriac mash and a fresh, summer vegetable risotto.

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About the author

Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams, Founder and CEO

Stephen Williams began trading as a wine merchant in 1982 and wishes he had stocked his cellar with Château Pétrus on day one. Since founding The Antique Wine Company,  Stephen has built The Antique Wine Group into an organisation with clients in 63 countries and a global network of offices, representatives and business groups. Regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in fine and rare wines, he has created some of the greatest wine cellars and collections in existence – in châteaux, palaces, wineries, hotels and private residences across Europe, Asia and North America. As a popular commentator on the wine industry, fine wine investment and the global wine market, Stephen is frequently quoted by both the UK and international press corps. Along with his regular lectures at AWC Wine Academy, this blog offers a behind-the-scenes view into the world of fine wine.

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