Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Archive for the ‘Oenophilia’ Category


Posted by Frank Ward on March 9, 2019

March 2019. Another dinner, with accompanying wines, with our friends Keith and Claire. The food: a tasty soufflé-cum-vol au vent, duck breast in rich gravy, cheeses, and a sweet tart to finish. All of the wines were tasted blind. A note on blind tasting: a French vigneron once said to me, “blind tasting is often a lesson in humility.” “Yes,” I replied, “and sometimes a lesson in humiliation!”. He laughed uproariously. The aperitif, a 2012 Furmint from Hungary, smelled and tasted like a blend of grapefruit and cashew nut [….].

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The Master of Montrachet

Posted by Frank Ward on September 30, 2018

September 2018. PORTRAIT. Pierre RAMONET of Burgundy, just short of eighty when I met him in the early 1980s, and one of the greatest wine makers in France, had dreamed all his life of owning a parcel of a small plot of land south of Beaune that happens to give the best dry white wine in the world. The grand cru vineyard called Montrachet. Ramonet had long owned parts of the adjoining vineyards Bâtard-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, both grand cru vineyards too and able to yield great wines, so it cannot be said that he had ever played second fiddle. But when at Iong last, in his seventy-third year, he obtained a tiny segment of Montrachet in 1978, it was as if a virtuoso violinist had come into possession of a Stradivarius [….]. Sebastião Salgado

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The Effects of Alcohol on We Humans

Posted by Frank Ward on September 23, 2018

September 2018. In a truly fascinating article published in Decanter magazine a year or two ago, Dr Michael Apstein, a leading gastroenterologist (liver doctor) throws a great deal of light on how the alcohol in wine affects the human body. Its impact, both positive and negative, depends hugely on such factors as the sex of the drinker, the quality of the wine, and the rate, volume, and periodicity of consumption [….].

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Chez Philip & Cathy II

Posted by Frank Ward on August 29, 2018

August 2018. Another voyage of vinous discovery at Philip and Cathy. It was a lovely summer’s evening and we took the aperitif in the garden, which is ringed by trees – an unusual feature of which is a resident albino squirrel. The wine was a sparkler, with tiny bubbles and a pleasant appley aroma. It smelled mostly of Chardonnay but I had a feeling there might be some lurking Pinot too. Though a very good sparkler, it lacked the kind of minerality, that subtle hint of chalk, limestone, and marine fossils, that marks Champagne apart. Our friend Keith hazarded “England?” [….].

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Savage Selection

Posted by Frank Ward on June 12, 2018

June 2018. The wines listed by Mark Savage M.W., an outstanding taster and wine merchant, show character and typicity. He looks for authenticity and abhors pretentiousness. He recently showed a selection from his portfolio at the 67 Pall Mall club in London and I went along to try a few samples. With just two hours to spare, my own selection of which wines to taste had to be a savage one too! [….].

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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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