Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

A Tasting at Flint Wines

Posted by Frank Ward on December 3, 2019

November 2019. Some time ago the London-based Flint Wines held a tasting of an array fine Burgundies from the 2017 vintage. A confession: that tasting took place nearly a year ago. The notes were mislaid and only came to light two days ago. Given that the 2017s have now landed in the UK it strikes me that these descriptions might still be relevant – possibly even more so now than then […].

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Memories of Henri BONNEAU, Master of Châteauneuf

Posted by Frank Ward on September 1, 2019

August 2019. When three years ago I learned of the death of Henri Bonneau, I felt a deep pang of regret, even though I’d only met him once. That sadness quickly gave way to a reminiscent smile. Which quickly became a chuckle. That single meeting had occurred more than 20 years ago but it lives on in my memory. An unforgettable experience, one that deepened my knowledge of men, manners, and of wine. Quite simply, he made some of the most natural, affecting, and monumental of all Châteauneufs – of all wines, for that matter. [….].

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Posted by Frank Ward on September 1, 2019

July 2019. It’s not news that Bordeaux no longer has bad vintages. They’re all good in their myriad ways. Not, at least, when it concerns châteaux that are either (1) well-financed and well-run; or (2) simply well-run even when not well-financed. The great Emile Peynaud taught them how to make the best possible wines; then a new generation of oenologists, many trained by him, carried on the good work. The results of that work showed at a recent tasting in London of a number of classed growth clarets from different parts of Bordeaux. Most showed three, even four of the last few vintages – a rare chance [….].

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Posted by Frank Ward on June 29, 2019

June 2019. LISBON, capital of Portugal, is a city with many attributes. Built on a series of hills, overlooking the vast expanse of the Tagide estuary, it boasts a number of outstanding museums (most notably the Gulbenkian), many magical squares and alleys, and – perhaps most of all – a people who are open, helpful, gentle, and welcoming. Their infinitely poignant song, fado, heart-rendingly tender, seems to sum up something in the Portuguese character… With many switchbacking streets, some of them on different levels and not immediately accessible (and often devilishly hard to find!) it’s a city where it’s easy to get lost. But that’s no problem. All you have to do is enter a shop – a jewellers, a laundry, a cafe, a tailor’s – and somebody will leave their station, join you on the pavement, and point you in the right direction, while giving exact [….].

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Posted by Frank Ward on March 20, 2019

March 2019. In 2018 Andrew Jefford, one of our leading wine writers, published an article in ”Decanter” expressing a general disappointment in the wines of Burgundy. He added: “I am in fact a big fan of Burgundies which work; it’s just that the failure rate is much higher than in Bordeaux or Piedmont, and the lustre of the region is such that this [factor] is too often overlooked.” Of bottles he had recently purchased (a number of them from me), he wrote that some of the whites were oxidized while a number of reds were “fair, but didn’t open the door to the magical kingdom of Burgundy bliss.” [….].

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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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Vincent LEFLAIVE – Passion & Humanity

Posted by Frank Ward on February 19, 2019

February 2019. PORTRAIT.The Chardonnay grape gives fine wines in many parts of the world, but for many it reaches the greatest heights on the Côte de Beaune segment of Burgundy. There, when conditions are ideal, it can achieve complete perfection, with Premiers and Grands cru wines of matchless poise, depth, and finesse. Even “Village” wines can show unexpected depth when from a top estate. The biggest and most esteemed source of these lovely white Burgundies is the village of Puligny-Montrachet, a community hemmed in by vineyards too precious to uproot (except for replanting).[….].

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Bordeaux Excels Itself in 2016 Vintage

Posted by Frank Ward on November 27, 2018

November 2018. A splendid range of clarets from the 2016 vintage was recently presented in London by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux. What follows are my descriptions of some forty of the numerous wines on show. Colours were universally dark and lustrous; few wines were over-oaked or over-extracted. Harmony and refinement were the keynotes. [….].

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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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