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Making of a Rosé…..

Making of a Rosé…..

At Roberson Wine we love a great rosé and during the spectacular 2018 English vintage our London Cru team managed to get our hands on the perfect Pinot Noir grapes. Due to the exceptionally warm summer these grapes were perfectly ripe, carefully hand harvested and transported from Surrey in small crates to our cellar in Fulham.

Once in our state-of-the-art cellar these grapes were destemmed, gently crushed and then allowed to macerate in our pneumatic press for 4 hours. This period, where the skins and the juice are in contact, allows for the anthocyanins (colours) in the skins to be extracted.

When we had the perfect rosé colour the free run juice was transferred to our temperature controlled fermentation tanks and inoculated with specific rosé wine yeast. At London Cru we take our rosé very seriously and fermented the wine as 2 different components, each with an important role in the finished wine. 90% was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks which preserves the delicate fruitiness of the Pinot Noir aromas. 10% of the wine was fermented and aged in old oak barrels adding a richer, lightly oaked character which builds the body and complexity of the final wine in the blend.

The wine completed malolactic fermentation which adds to the softness and creaminess of the final wine. Additionally, Rosaville Rd was aged on lees for 5 months after fermentation which continued to build the mouthfeel and texture of the wine.

Rosaville Rd is a pale, delicate rosé, with aromas of pink grapefruit and fresh strawberries. With a smooth crisp palate of red fruits and great body from lees ageing this is an expressive English Pinot Noir from a great vintage, well balanced and a fabulous on a warm spring day. This wine is great by itself in the sunshine and also an excellent partner with light dishes such as a goat’s cheese and asparagus tart.

Check out how this wine was bottled below

Bacchus is BACK

Bacchus is BACK

At London Cru we are tremendously proud of our 2018 Baker St Bacchus. This wine is the quintessential English still wine, with a bright zesty palate, a vibrant gooseberry and elderflower nose and enticing background aromas of hedgerow and yeasty goodness from lees ageing. This wine is the perfect accompaniment with seafood such as oysters, lobster, or the humble fish and chips, but is also fabulous as an aperitif with mild cheeses.

What makes this wine so special?

Baker St incorporates Bacchus from two outstanding vineyards, one located in Kent and the other in West Sussex.

These grapes were gently transported to our winery in London, partially destemmed, and pressed in our state-of-the-art pneumatic press. The juice was then fermented in four different components each with a different design focus. 90% was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks which preserves the purity of the Bacchus aromas. 10% of the wine was fermented and aged in old oak barrels adding a richer, lightly oaked character and builds the body and complexity of the final wine in the blend. The wine was aged on lees for 5 months after fermentation which continued to build the mouthfeel and texture of the  wine.

Baker St is a serious wine with incredible length and mouth wateringly delicious balance. Olly Smith from the Daily Mail has agreed that the 2018 vintage in the UK has provided wines of amazing quality and judged our Baker St to be ”Exuberant, floral and zesty, this urban winery’s bottle is liquid splendour”. Even before officially releasing our Bacchus it has been quickly listed at some of the finest restaurants in London! Watch this space in the coming months as we release the exact venues and their recommended sommelier pairings.

Baker St is currently available for pre-order for £15 and will be available from early May. Judging from initial interest and that we sell out of Bacchus every year we recommend you get your hands on a few bottles now to avoid disappointment.

At London Cru we have also recently launched our new members Crush Club, where we are inviting wine lovers to join us in the next harvest! See this flyer for more information.

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Summer Whites - Albariño

Summer Whites - Albariño

The lush coastal town of Galicia in north west Spain is home to this increasingly popular grape. But what is Albariño? And why is it the summer white del día?

The region

Some grapes have an overwhelming connection to their place (some in the wine industry call this terroir), and Albariño is one of those grapes.

90% of vineyards in Rías Baixas (the area around Galicia) grow the Albariño grape, and you can see why. The conditions are absolutely perfect for this variety, and the resulting wines are crisp and refreshing. Grown in the surprisingly green and cool Rías Baixas right on the Atlantic, you can almost taste the salty sea air in the finished wines. With rocky, granite soil, and misty green hillsides, the wines are also intensely stony and mineral.

London Cru’s Albariño, Albemarle St, is from a coastal vineyard near beautiful traditional Galician town Pontevedra, in the heart of Rías Baixas.

The wine

Albariño is aromatic, with concentrated stone fruit and citrus flavours alongside grassy, mineral overtones. With moderate alcohol and high acidity, it is the perfect summer white.

Some winemakers choose to ferment and age in stainless steel, giving the freshest, leanest style of Albariño. However, it is also common to give Albariño some time ageing in an oak barrel to add texture, or leaving it to develop on its lees (leftover yeast cells from fermentation). Both of these techniques offset the high acidity, providing mouth feel and a subtle creamy character.

The food

Galicia is home to a large proportion of Spain’s fishing fleet, so it is no surprise that their star white wine pairs wonderfully with fresh shellfish and grilled fish.

The wine’s high acidity will help to cut through butter or cream sauces, and blends perfectly with sharp, citrus flavours.

Best enjoyed with a plate of Dover Sole with brown butter, or a 'plateau de fruits de mer’. Both with plenty of lemon and black pepper.

Piedmont Pairings

Piedmont Pairings

Rosé is developing a serious reputation for being a multi-talented food wine. From light and refreshing Provençal styles to bolder, darker Spanish wines, rosé is asserting itself as a real contender on many a restaurant wine list. London Cru’s Rosaville Rd lies somewhere in the middle of these styles. It it a beautiful copper colour, with aromas of grapefruit, strawberry and lychee and wonderful textural quality from time ageing on the lees (the leftover yeast from fermentation). The grapes hail from Piedmont in northern Italy, grown by Giovanni Codero who runs a family business growing grapes and breeding cattle to make homemade salami. The family kindly kept their best two Barbera sites aside for us and allowed us to make vineyard adjustments so that we could focus on getting the best flavours from the grapes.

Here, members of London Cru and Roberson Wine give their favourite Italian food pairing for Rosaville Rd.

Vitello Tonnato – Shana, On-Trade at Roberson Wine

Vitello Tonnato is a wonderful summer dish from Piedmont. Cold or roasted veal is served with a tuna, anchovy and caper mayonnaise, perhaps alongside some tiny new potatoes and a lemony salad. It’s a firm favourite in the north of Italy, and absolutely perfect in warm weather. Pair with Rosaville Rd to beautifully cut through the rich mayonnaise and enhance the delicate flavours of the veal.

Agnolotti alla Piemontese - Emma, London Cru

These exquisite pasta parcels are similar in shape to ravioli. Every family’s recipe is different, passed down through generations. Generally, an egg-rich dough is stuffed with a mixture of beef, pork and rabbit and served with ‘salvia e parmigiano’ (sage butter and parmesan). Decadent and delicious, this rich pasta dish is the perfect foil to the refreshing acidity of Rosaville Rd rosé.

Risotto Milanese- Talya, Director at Roberson Wine

I find food and wine pairings often focus on meat or fish, and being a vegetarian this presents me with a conundrum. Risotto Milanese is a wonderful, unctuous saffron risotto, usually sprinkled with a traditional garnish of lemon zest, garlic and parsley (‘Gremolata’). It pairs magically with the complex, delicate flavours in Rosaville Rd with the wine’s crisp, dry finish cutting through the rich butter textures of the Milanese. Bellissimo!

Burrata – Gavin, Winemaker at London Cru

Without a doubt, this soft, opulent cheese would be spot on with Rosaville Rd’s textural complexity. Like mozarella’s better, bigger brother, Burrata has an outer shell of morzarella and a filling of cream, giving it a fantastic richness. Add a few leaves of rocket to inject a hit of peppery spice, and you have a food and wine pairing made in heaven.

International Chardonnay Day

International Chardonnay Day

Chardonnay seems to be a bit like Marmite: you either love it or you hate it.

However, despite this varied reputation it’s coming back into fashion with premium winemakers all over the world making top quality, luxurious wines. And what’s not to like? It’s versatile and resistant, allowing terroir to shine through and winemakers to make their mark.

London Cru winemaker Gavin is no newbie to Chardonnay, having made it in his native Margaret River and in Burgundy.

Our 2014 Chardonnay is ripe with peachy notes and a subtle toastiness. Lees contact (which is the proximity of the wine with the dead yeast cells that collect at the bottom of the barrel post-fermentation) adds weight and complexity. Gavin believes acidity to be the backbone of any wine and the 2014 has plenty of it, which balances nicely with the gentle oak flavours. The critics have agreed, with both Jamie Goode and Richard Hemming rating it highly.

The 2015 Chardonnay is all downstairs in the winery, as yet unlabelled. From the sneak preview tastings we’ve had so far, it’s set to be a fantastic wine, so look out for its release in the coming months. This year, we’ve sourced grapes from Limoux – an area with a growing reputation for quality Chardonnay in South West France.

Enough about London Cru. What you really want for International Chardonnay Day is cold hard facts about this ‘Marmite’ grape, and maybe a glass or two of the stuff itself...

  1. Chardonnay is a key grape in many sparkling wines, most famously Champagne
  2. People used to think Chardonnay was related to Pinot Noir and until about 1950 it  was often labelled ‘Pinot Chardonnay’
  3. Lots of people think oak when they think of Chardonnay, but Chardonnay can be unoaked (for example, Chablis). If a Chardonnay is aged properly in an oak barrel, the wine because textured, rich and creamy with buttery flavours. If it’s not the result is a crisp, mineral wine with green apple flavours
  4. Chardonnay loves chalky, limestone soil which helps give the final wine freshness and minerality
  5. Although Chardonnay is gaining popularity again in the UK, the US are way ahead of us with Chardonnay coming in as the top selling white varietal in the States

If that has got you in the mood, pour yourself a glass to enjoy now and visit the London Cru website to order our 2014 Chardonnay.

A Tasting at The Hide

A Tasting at The Hide

Last night we made our way over to bustling Bermondsey St to give two hour-long tastings to an excited group of bloggers, sommeliers and The Hide customers to celebrate London Wine Week 2016. The Hide proved the perfect setting for an intimate introduction to London Cru, with funky decor, a buzzing atmosphere and tasty small plates to satiate post-tasting hunger pangs. Being right next to the wine industry’s education HQ (The Wine and Spirit Education Trust), we felt completely at home.

Gavin Monery, winemaker, led an in-depth introduction to London Cru wines, supported by Lindsey and Emma from London Cru and Zainab, from sister company Roberson Wine. Zainab’s on-trade experience as a sommelier certainly came in handy when pouring the wines around!

Gavin talked the group through the various processes of winemaking, from hand-harvesting the grapes in Europe and the grape reception in London, to pressing, fermenting and ageing. This was all followed by a tutored tasting of the full 2014 range, with a sneaky peak of the yet-to-be-labelled 2015 Albariño.

Many thanks to Paolo from The Hide for being such a wonderful host, despite nervously waiting for his overdue first baby to arrive. Also a big thanks must go to the The Hide’s bar team and to marketing manager Fiona for helping to organise the event.

The Hide have ripped up their usual wine list and are only serving London Cru wines this week – by the glass and the bottle - so if you couldn’t make yesterday’s tasting, pop down any time this week to give London Cru a try.

London Wine Week at The Hide

London Wine Week at The Hide

Bermondsey St's The Hide are tearing up their usual wine list for one week only and keeping it local, serving only London Cru wines at the bar. It's a great chance to try a range of London Cru wines by the glass, and choose a new favourite. The Hide Bar will be serving up the following London Cru wines:

  • 2014 Bacchus "The bacchus 2014 might just be the best I've tasted." Victoria Moore
  • 2014 Barbera "Extraordinary fragrance and expression – full of astonishing and bright floral character." Richard Hemming
  • 2014 Chardonnay "Lovely complex nose of toast, spice and citrus, with some creaminess in the mouth, as well as nuts and toast." Jamie Goode
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon "Lovely pure sweet blackcurrant fruit nose with some blackcurrant leaf. So classic and expressive." Jamie Goode
  • 2013 Syrah "Perfumed, violet, great clarity, really dry and delicate, with just enough tannin. Juicy and fragrant and really subtly done." JancisRobinson.com

So head down to this funky, warehouse venue from the 24 - 28 May and taste wines the critics are raving about.

Free tasting!

During this week, for one night only, talented London Cru winemaker Gavin Monery will be hosting a free tasting of London Cru's 2013 and 2014 vintages at The Hide.

It's a unique opportunity to learn more about one of Europe's most innovative wineries and get an exclusive introduction to the different wines made in the heart of London, by the winemaker himself.

Day: Tuesday 24 May Time: 8-9pm Location: The Hide, 39-45 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3XF

Spaces for the tasting are limited. RSVP to mail@londoncru.co.uk

After the Storm

After the Storm

After the madness of the 2015 harvest the month of December in the winery is relatively relaxed. All the wines (except Albariño) are in barrel, and for the most part they'll happily stay there until the new year. This month I'll spend a lot of time in our onsite laboratory, analysing the wines regularly to make sure they're on track.

All our red wines, as well as our Chardonnay are going through malolactic fermentation, when specific bacteria convert the tart malic acid to softer tasting Lactic acid. The vast majority of red wines around the world will undergo this process, as well as a good proportion of full bodied whites. The bacteria that make this conversion are happiest at 20˚C, however so are the bacteria that turn wine into vinegar, so it's a risky few months.

Of course the lab analyses can give us numbers and tell us what's going on inside the wine, but it can't tell us the most important thing - how does it taste..? For that we have to get stuck in ourselves and have a glass. Or two..

Another big part of the holiday season for us is showing off the winery through our tours, tastings and events. We try and do things differently at London Cru, so visitors are taken directly into the production area of the winery, rather than being received in a typical cellar door.

We’re a small, boutique, but very much working winery and we like to show people the equipment and explain the processes while they taste. Our equipment is simple, low tech and labour intensive, however we feel it’s the best available to bring out the true characters of each wine. During tours we can teach as much or as little as you might want to know about wine, but we steer clear of wine snobbery; our philosophy is if a glass is half full then there’s room for more..

Pinot & Our Spanish Affair

Pinot & Our Spanish Affair

July was a month of good news for London Cru. We successfully completed the bottling of our 2014 wines following our trip to France. Further positivity arrived in the form of news from our network of growers in Spain and Italy. As it stands, all of our 2015 fruit is healthy and exactly where we want it in terms of yield and expected pick date. In keeping with our desire to push the boundaries and experiment with new varieties, we embarked upon two further trips to find a late ripening white variety and an early ripening red. We approached this with an open mind, considering all manner of regions and varieties. We were initially keen to source some Grüner Veltliner from Austria, but following a few challenging harvests in consecutive years, this proved a fruitless (excuse the pun) endeavour.

Our spirits weren't dampened by this and we set about exploring the possibility of securing another late ripening white grape; Albariño. With a little help from contacts in Galicia, we were able to get around a table with Zarate, a biodynamic and organic producer in the area. After talking about our project, over an incredible seafood lunch with barrel-aged Albariño, they put us in contact with a local grower who showed us around their vineyard (above). Perfect aspect, a soil bed of decomposed granite and wonderfully expressive and aromatic grapes; it didn't take us long to shake hands on a price. Safe to say, we boarded the plane at Santiago de Compostela later that day excited at the prospect of working with a new variety that's stock is constantly rising among wine lovers.

Sadly, we didn't have the same luck on 'Project Pinot'. We took an exploratory trip to Slovenia to try and source this enigmatic grape, in Gavin's eyes; the holy grail. The region of Podravje certainly has potential, but unfortunately this time around, we weren't able to find any vineyards that were suitable for us. Yield, aspect and soil type were the deciding factors in putting our search for the elusive red variety on the back burner. For now....

A Flying Visit

A Flying Visit

At the beginning of what proved to be an absolutely scorching week in the UK, Gavin and I headed down to the South West corner of France on a mission; drink as much wine talk to our network of growers and confirm grapes for the 2015 vintage.

After touching down in Toulouse (an hour later than scheduled owing to a very busy Gatwick airport) we picked up the hire car and headed straight to the small town of Puimisson, Languedoc to visit Jeff Coutelou. Jeff is an exceptionally talented viticulturist and vigneron, choosing to follow the practices of biodynamic and organic vineyard management alongside natural vinification.

Besides a few processes such as tilling the soil, every vineyard process is carried out by hand. This fastidious approach ensures that the soil does not become compacted, as you might find in a commercial, chemically treated vineyard, but also any issues that may arise are quickly identified and mitigated.

The purpose of our visit to this small village, just outside of Béziers, was to assess the Cabernet Sauvignon plots that Jeff has once again agreed to let us work with. The grapes have overcome challenging conditions during flowering, with high winds causing some isolated patches of coulure (when the grape bunches develop unevenly during fruit set). The fruit looks wonderfully healthy and we’re expecting low yields with deep concentration of flavour. Skilled management of vine vigour ensures the grapes enjoy a balance of shade and airflow through the canopy.

This was also a chance for us to see other plots of Jeff’s vineyards as well as the winery itself. On the fringes of his bush vine Grenache vineyards, a group of fig trees illustrates the contrasting effects of organic management versus the use of chemical sprays. The side of the tree facing Jeff’s Grenache bore plump, ripe and luscious figs (albeit a little warm after sitting in the 40oC afternoon sun) whereas the tree facing his neighbour’s chemically treated vineyard had been stripped off all fruit and flowers.

Nice spot for a swim
Nice spot for a swim

After a chilled glass (a revelation by all accounts) of our 2013 Cabernet, an evening swim in the River L’Orb and dinner we made tracks for our overnight stop in Carcassonne, feeling satisfied with the day’s outcome.

Our focus for day two was Chardonnay. Research and intuition indicates that Limoux is a growing haven for the grape responsible for our most popular wine. High altitudes, moderating air currents and free-draining soil all work together to aid the development of Chardonnay with classic varietal character and fresh acidity. We were fortunate enough to have a contact in the area; James Kinglake owner of the highly successful Domaine Begude, who not only showed us round his estate and cellars but also set up a meeting with a local grower; Maurice.

We met Maurice on his farm-come-workshop and briefly outlined our project before being taken to the potential sites. In similar fashion to Jeff’s vineyards, the first thing that struck us was the healthy appearance of the fruit bunches and immaculate condition of the vines owing to Biodynamic and Organic (certified) management. After a couple of hours walking through the vineyards and assessing each potential parcel, we shook hands on a deal and retreated to the shade.

We're very fortunate to be able to work with such dedicated and passionate people and believe our line-up this year, from the Southwest corner of France, is our strongest to date.

Next stop Slovenia and Galicia, watch this space.....

Among the vines in Limoux
Among the vines in Limoux

A Difficult Decision

A Difficult Decision

Late yesterday, we had to make the very tough decision to turn down seven tonnes of grapes due to come from Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. By a stroke of luck, we have managed replace some of the lost grapes with four tonnes of Barbera from Northern Italy, sourced by top Italian producer Luca Roagna

Harvest Time at Corneilla

Harvest Time at Corneilla

Last Monday and Tuesday saw Gavin in France to oversee our very first harvest at Château de Corneilla, working in the vineyard alongside William Jonqueres d’Oriola from the estate. To ensure that all of the grapes reached London in the best possible condition they were hand harvested, sorted and then loaded into large flat crates for their 820 mile journey to the winery.

Château de Corneilla

Château de Corneilla

Not many families have history that can match up to that of the Jonquères d’Oriola family – the owners of Chateau de Corneilla, in the Roussillon village of Corneilla-del-Vercol. The estate has been in the family since they bought it in the 1400s following the dissolution of the Knights Templar.