From the archive: Michael Broadbent MW - Lessons in wine appreciation
Time to go back to basics...
Time to go back to basics...
The most attractive Australian wine I can ever recall
The Ritz wine list appeals mainly to millionaires, but I spotted one of my favourite Pouilly-Fumes, Chateau de Tracy.
'I decided to risk extracting the cork. I could detect just two letters...'
'Not all my (still) working life is involved with cellar rarities'
Vintage Port: the great and the good
First, a jolly little oddment that turned out to be far better than expected: a half bottle of California Syrah.
To start, some highly attractive and surprising white wines in the modest to middle category. First, Domaine Pellé’s ‘Les Blanchais’, Menetou-Salon-Morogues 2008 – a totally delicious rinse bouche at the start of Daphne’s birthday lunch at The Waterside Inn in Bray.
It is just a number. Arbitrary, but this marks my 400th consecutive monthly contribution to Decanter. If I’m permitted to reminisce, I’d like to go back much further. My first ever wine article was ‘A Glossary of Wine Terms’ commissioned in 1956 by Arthur Bourke, the editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit Gazette. It was not exactly what he had in mind. It began: ‘Absinthe, makes the heart grow fonder’, and so on to ‘Schnapps, a Swedish card game’. Childish really. No fee, but a heavily vinous lunch at the old Wine Trade Club.
Rather embarrassing… our favourite restaurant: The Cabin (lauded in my April issue column) has suddenly, without warning or explanation, closed. Only a few weeks ago we took two mussel-liking friends there and they were delighted, vowing to return. No hint then that the end was nigh. Last week, craving more bivalves, we found the restaurant dark, with an uninformative note on the door recommending a nearby pub which did ‘excellent steaks’.
I make no apologies for devoting this month’s contribution to wines imbibed on a 42-day cruise from Tilbury, Essex, to the Amazon. Frankly, I had no great expectation but Daphne and I did our duty, ploughing through 30-odd of the 51 table wines on the appallingly-chronicled list, plus some surprising special offers
Wine-trade tastings these days tend to be too big. There are too many wines (and tasters) and, while broad in scope, the wines understandably tend to be of recent vintages, and are in various categories, with less and less differentiation. They are also mainly walkaround affairs with glass in hand (I normally carry two, for comparisons). One scarcely skims the surface after a few hours of jostling and exchanging pleasantries. I prefer a seated tasting with a limited range of related wines – not just because of my age, but to take more time to concentrate.
By the time you read this, spring will be in the air. But due to deadlines I’m drafting this article (as is my wont, in bed on a Sunday morning) in the midst of Britain’s longest, coldest spell of post-Christmas weather. Eventually we got out of our country driveway and skidded back to London. Our flat is in what I call Fulham-on-Thames, opposite the famous Mile Post of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race and the fascinating London Wetlands Centre in Barnes. During this restricted icy period we took advantage of neighbourhood restaurants, of which we are well served in all price ranges.
My love of Madeira is well documented in Vintage Wine. Unsurprisingly, fewer and fewer old vintages now come on to the market.
Among the odd bottles sent to me (by conscientious PR companies in the hope of a good note in these pages), one of the strangest, because of its size, was Cavit’s Maso Toresella Chardonnay Superiore 2006 from Trentino in Italy. First the wine: bright, pale yellow; a lovely nose, fragrant, with a touch of youthful pineapple and a whiff of vanilla; certainly sweeter than dry; rich, complete, with a good finish. The stated alcoholic content was 13.5%, though I suspect that it was nearer 14%. Impressive. (Later I discovered it won Silver in the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards).
Periodically, and at year end, I comb the index of recent tasting books to see what stood out. Not all the great names turned out to be as magnificent as expected; others surpassed themselves.
One broken neck, one old cork, two celebrations
Madeira – a wine for all seasons
Thirty years on - keeping up appearances
Wine writing: Cant, Kant and can’t
Michael Broadbent's Column: Original and unforgettable
Compare and Contrast
French lessons in Burgundy.
It’s always nail-biting when you open a precious bottle – will it be ready to drink, or not? To help you avoid disappointment, world authority on Bordeaux MICHAEL BROADBENT gives his view on the notable Médoc vintages back to the 1940s
Harry Waugh, who has died aged 97, was not only the kindest, most self-effacing and gentlest of men but also one of the most influential, innovative merchant connoisseurs.
MICHAEL BROADBENT'S heart is captured by Kevin Judd's photography.