Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Archive for the ‘Oenophilia’ Category

Another Dinner with Keith & Clare

Posted by Frank Ward on June 30, 2017

June 2017. My friends Keith and Clare are true oenophiles. They’ve visited wineries all over the world and Keith, who runs the Canterbury Wine-tasting Society, also lectures on wine. A true polymath, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject: there’s no region, producer, micro-climate, aspect of viticulture, viniculture, or oenology you can mention that he can’t throw additional light on. Together with Clare, he’s also a very generous host! A meal at their home just two nights ago comprised delicious poached salmon with dill-flecked mayonnaise; roast beef with vegetables from their own garden; some first-rate farmhouse cheeses; and two desserts [….]

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Birthday Treats

Posted by Frank Ward on April 14, 2017

April 2017. A friend of mine, born on Christmas Day, was miffed about that concurrence (you can’t celebrate both events at full throttle on the same day). So he awarded himself an “official” birthday midway between two Christmases: 30th June each year. On that day he just sat back waiting for presents. Which he got. And, on Christmas Day, not a few birthday presents too! My own birthday falls in March so I have to be satisfied with one lot of presents only. Though this year I upped the quantity of those presents by awarding myself eight very special wines. But not for myself alone: they were shared with oenophile friends on the appointed day.[….]

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Incremental Wines

Posted by Frank Ward on August 31, 2016

AvatarAugust 2016. Fine Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) was a noted orator and saint. At least one of his sayings has survived the passage of time and carries great resonance to this day. «Everyone wishes to reach old age, but nobody wishes to be old.” Who indeed wishes to be old? But for the oenophile, at least, getting older does bring one huge advantage. His or her collection of wines will, if well-chosen, steadily improve year by year. This fact was underlined when two friends, Keith and Philip, recently celebrated a joint 70th birthday with a fine dinner accompanied by some distinguished wines from their two collections. [….]

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Chez Philip & Cathie

Posted by Frank Ward on July 16, 2016

AvatarJuly 2016. A recent dinner at the home of Philip and Cathie, a couple who care about food and wine. The meal began with juicy melon with prosciutto, partnered with a wonderful 1996 Sancerre Etienne Henri from Henri Bourgeois. This was a case where a vineyard with its own unique character overrode the equally singular character of the grape in question, the Sauvignon Blanc. You knew the wine was exceptional yet it didn’t immediately show the very special, and often idiosyncratic traits, of that variety. At first we thought to it be a northern Rhone… and even considered several other possibilities. [….]

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Wines of Finesse Chez Keith & Clare

Posted by Frank Ward on June 6, 2016

AvatarJune 2016. Fine food and a range of superb wines to accompany it at the Kent home of our friends, Keith and Clare Powis. As always, the wines were served blind, in unmarked decanters. First, a superb 1995 champagne from Gosset. Crisp and vital, quite full, with a recognizable percentage of Pinot Noir providing thrust and body. It smelled of apples and almond, with a hint of chocolate too. The emphatic aftertaste was reminiscent of crab apple with a touch of pip. At its peak. [….]

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Wine & Health

Posted by Frank Ward on December 15, 2014

AvatarDecember 2014. When President John F. Kennedy once received a whole party of Nobel prize-winners in the Oval Office he told them that their presence represented the biggest concentration of human intellect in that building since President Thomas Jefferson had sat there alone during his own presidency, 1801-1809. Jefferson certainly was an exceptional man: lawyer, statesman, architect, oenophile, scholar, and all-round man of the enlightenment. [….]

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Tasting le Pin for Two Pins!

Posted by Frank Ward on March 5, 2014

AvatarMarch 2014. Together with Andrew Jefford, well-known wine writer, I am poised to taste two vintages of Château Le Pin, a Pomerol that, since its creation in the early 1980s, has achieved what’s called cult status. Collectors have shown themselves willing to pay several thousand pounds for a single bottle, especially for the 1982. The 1982 was, in fact, the very first vintage of this rare wine, made from a plot measuring a mere one-third of a hectare. The most amazing of all, the vines – mostly Merlot – in that first vintage were only four years old [….]

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Dinner With Friends

Posted by Frank Ward on February 7, 2014

AvatarFebruary 2014. We are three couples who meet regularly to eat dinner together and taste wines, each calculated to match the various dishes we try. The evenings seldom finish without our having tried at least eight or nine wines, all of them of distinction, even the few that prove to be over the top!. All are tasted blind. On blind tastings, a French wine producer once said to me: “la dégustation à l’aveugle est un exercice en l’humilité.” I made him chuckle by replying: “”Yes, and sometimes an exercise in humiliation!”.

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The Nectar of the Gods: Frank Ward on investing in wine

Posted by Frank Ward on December 5, 2013

There are two chief motives for investing in wine. Monetary gain is one; buying young, high-quality wines and waiting for them to improve, for the delectation of you and your friends, is the other. A bottle of good wine is a time capsule. Without moving an inch it makes a journey through time and becomes utterly transformed in the process. The aggressive tannins and acids in infant wine soften and harmonize slowly, transmuting into perfumes and flavours of astonishing beauty. […]

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More Writers on Wine : Tolstoy, Strindberg, Hemingway

Posted by Frank Ward on August 16, 2013

August 2013. Hugh Johnson, our foremost wine writer (and, indeed, one of the English language’s finest stylists), suggests that wine may have originated in the Caucasus – southern Russia – some 6000 years B.C. Close to 8000 years later the world’s greatest novelist, Leo Tolstoy, describes harvest time in a Cossack community in the region of the Terek River, in that part of the Caucasus close to Chechnya. Picking had started as early as August….

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