Oeno-File, the Wine & Gastronomy Column

by Frank Ward

A Further Tasting of 2015 Clarets – Part I

Posted by Frank Ward on March 22, 2020

March 2020. A tasting of 2015 clarets was recently held in London under the auspices of the Institute of Masters of Wine. It included all of the five First Growths of the Médoc and two of the four Premiers Grands Crus Classés of Saint Émilion. It confirmed that 2015 is an exceptional vintage for claret. Herewith a selection (about one-third) of the ninety-eight wines on show […].

Read article

Posted in Bordeaux, Tasting notes | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

1986 Château Lafite: My Choice as Wine of the Year – for 1988!

Posted by Frank Ward on March 15, 2020

March 2020. A wine-loving friend, the composer David Matthews, told me last week that he had just tasted 1986 Château Lafite at the home of a friend and found it absolutely outstanding, a miracle of subtlety, depth, and harmony. This reminded of the fact that, when living in Sweden in the 1980s, I’d picked out that very wine as Wine of the Year in my monthly wine column in the Swedish trade magazine, “Restauranger & Storkök”. I’d actually tasted the wine at the Château, in 1987, and been immensely impressed by it. […].

Read article

Posted in Bordeaux, Bordeaux | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Four Nights in Marseille

Posted by Frank Ward on February 29, 2020

February 2020. Writing in the 1830s, Stendhal declared that “If Bordeaux is the most beautiful city in France, Marseille is the prettiest.” Were he still alive, he would surely have to revise his opinion somewhat were he to visit Marseille in the present day, though it’s still a great city and well worth a special journey. Why so? The main reason is that in January 1943 the Germans, aided by the French police, dynamited much of the city’s historic old town and demolished the gigantic Marseille […].

Read article

Posted in Gastronomy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 […].

Read article

Posted in Burgundy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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. [….].

Read article

Posted in Wine Personalities | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


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 [….].

Read article

Posted in Bordeaux, Tasting notes | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »


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 [….].

Read article

Posted in Gastronomy | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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.” [….].

Read article

Posted in Burgundy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


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 [….].

Read article

Posted in Oenophilia | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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).[….].

Read article

Posted in Burgundy, Wine Personalities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

%d bloggers like this: