Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

Beaujolais – France’s Most Underrated Wine Region?

Posted by Frank Ward on May 22, 2017

May 2017. At its best, Beaujolais gives us some of the most deliciously drinkable wines in all France. Most come from the region’s northern end, where all of the 10 Crus – the region’s finest growths – are to be found. Aptly, many of the names of these wines are most euphonious: Chiroubles, Fleurie, Saint Amour, Brouilly, Juliénas… Also aptly: the two toughest, most long-lived of them have more earth-bound names: Morgon and Moulin-à-Vent. Northern Beaujolais has an asset of incalculable value: a vast sea of very old vines growing on ideal terroir of decomposing granite.[….]

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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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New World Wines – Old World Terroir

Posted by Frank Ward on March 27, 2017

March 2017. Simpson’s Wine Estate is a totally new property created, here in the old world, in the purest spirit of the new world. The location: Barham in Kent, “the garden of England”. Three 10-hectare plots of land were chosen where no vines had ever grown before; a winery was created within the shell of an old barn, complete with offices and a (projected) tasting room; and Kent-based fruit pickers were induced to transfer their fruit-sensitized fingers from apples and pears to the more fragile fruits of the vine. [….]

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Austria Revisited

Posted by Frank Ward on February 27, 2017

February 2017. Herewith a few wines, out of many hundreds on show, sampled by me at a vast tasting of Austrian wine recently held in London. Most of those sampled were white, 100% either Grüner Veltliner (a characterful indigenous variety) or Riesling – a grape that gives outstanding results in many countries, especially Austria, France (Alsace) and Australasia.[….]

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A Few Aussie Wines

Posted by Frank Ward on January 30, 2017

January 2017. The other day I dropped in on the Australia Day tasting in London. A thousand wines were being sniffed at, sipped, guzzled, gargled, and (mostly) spat out by a thousand avid tasters of all ages, shapes, sizes, and dispositions. The wines were likewise varied: light and ingratiating, vigorous and enticing, dark and complex, elegant and nuanced. It was as cheerfully noisy an event as a football stadium with the home side winning. And the most crowded tasting I’ve ever attended.[….]

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Posted by Frank Ward on January 23, 2017

January 2017. PESSAC-LÉOGNAN. Both châteaux BOUSCAUT and DE FIEUZAL were light, elegant, and approachable, with good balance and will drink well in the coming years. HAUT–BAILLY was in a reticent mood, with an elegant aroma reminiscent of freshly sharpened pencil and autumn berries. It too will evolve smoothly if unlikely to generate great excitement. However, such top estates can be very closed up when young and all three may well surprise us. Made of sterner stuff was [….]

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BIG LONDON TASTING OF 2012 CLARETS PART I : Haut Médoc, Margaux, Saint Estèphe, Saint Julien, Pauillac

Posted by Frank Ward on January 10, 2017

January 2017. Over eighty clarets from the 2012 vintage were recently shown in London by the Institute of Masters of Wine. It was a challenging year, with fluctuating weather, a tardy summer, and some rain at harvest time. Needless to say, the best-run properties came out best. As Charles Taylor M.W. commented: “in a difficult year, producers with commitment and resources achieved much better results than those with limited opportunities or modest ambition”.[….]

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Tasting of Classed Growth Clarets from 2014

Posted by Frank Ward on December 5, 2016

December 2016. A big tasting of classed-growth clarets from the 2014 vintage was recently held in London under the auspices of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB). The following are tasting notes on some 30 of the 100 or so wines on show. I spent an average of 4 minutes per wine. Why that long? The actual sampling takes only a minute or two. But the crucial aftertaste, often the most illuminating element of all, doesn’t reveal its full complexity (or lack of it) in less than 3-4 minutes.[….].

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Major Tasting of 37 Top Australian Chardonnays

Posted by Frank Ward on October 19, 2016

October 2016. How good are Australian Chardonnays? I tasted some good ones 36 years ago (and plenty of other white and red varietals) – when Len Evans invited me down to Château Rahoul in the Graves – in Bordeaux of all places! – to deepen my understanding of Australian wines. Not one to let any opportunity slip, he also roped me in to help pick unripe grapes in the catastrophic 1980 vintage, then in progress. Under unceasing rain we got very wet together. Since then I’ve tasted all kinds of Australian wines [….]

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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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