Celebrity Chef Risks Angering French Wine Enthusiasts

 

If there’s one thing France are renowned for it’s their wine making. That’s why the Ideal Wine Company is unsurprised at people’s reaction when Gordon Ramsay started stocking British wine.

Bordeaux wine making

Bordeaux, located on Western coast of our neighbour across the channel, is undoubtedly the French wine production industry’s crowning jewel.

Figures collected by Wine Cellar Insider indicate that Bordeaux is the most popular wine region in the world. It produces a staggering two billion euros-worth of wine per year – the equivalent of almost 450 million bottles! This means that Bordeaux produces roughly 39 million cases of its famous red wine per annum, such as the Chateau Lafleur 1990, which you can buy from the Ideal Wine Company.

Le Pressoir d’Argent

As such, it’s no surprise that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay recently decided to open a new restaurant in Bordeaux. Called Le Pressoir d’Argent, it’s located in the in the five-star Grand Hotel de Bordeaux Hotel and Spa, and features a wine list mainly composed of classic Bordeaux vintages, according to the Daily Mail.

However he’s now revealed that Le Pressoir d’Argent’s wine list will also feature English sparkling wines. Apparently Gordon has started serving sparkling wines from Kent, Cornwall and Sussex in his restaurant. Noted vintages that already appear on the list include Gusbourne Estate from Kent, Ridgeview from Sussex and Coates & Seely from Hampshire.

Wine epicentre

Speaking to Decanter, the celebrity chef explained: “We are working with several local winemakers, but it’s hard to single out a particular growth or wine – this is an oasis of magical growers that can’t be matched anywhere in the world.

“My objective is to have the wine to become our epicentre. The wine list will be mainly from Bordeaux, but we have gone outside the region also. And we had to include English sparkling wine. We haven’t had a riot yet.” Maybe not Gordon, but you’ve decided to feature English wine in Bordeaux of all places – who comes to Bordeaux to sample a vintage they can get back home!

Try a Bordeaux

At least Ramsay’s planning to take advantage of his fantastic location and feature Bordeauxs on the wine list at Le Pressoir d’Argent. If you want to see why we’re so relieved by that, why don’t you buy the Chateau Austone 1988 from the Ideal Wine Company, so you can sample a fantastic Bordeaux today!

 

Which Wines Need to Breathe?

If you leave a wine to breathe you could improve its quality, but there are some wines you should drink the minute you open them up. This is why Ideal Wine Company has decided to ask; which wines need to breathe?

Benefits of aeration

When we say that we’re letting a wine “breathe,” we’re not saying that we’re letting it breath the same way a human being does. Rather, we’re saying that we’ve opened its cork and exposed it to the air in a process called ‘aeration.’

Conventional wisdom holds that aerating a wine makes it taste better, and the people who first came up with this theory had a point. When some wines are exposed to oxygen, they release the array of flavours and aromas that are locked within their depths, allowing them to become more “expressive.”

Importance of tannins

This is because some wines contain ‘tannins.’ A tannin is a naturally occurring polyphenol found in grape skin and wood. It lends a bitter, acidic character to wine, that can make your favourite tipple taste far too harsh if you drink it after you’ve just opened the bottle.

Tannins soften when they’re exposed to air, and this is the reason we’re talking about them. It means that tannin-rich wines such as hearty reds, especially younger bottles such as the Two Hands Deer in Headlights 2004, which you can buy from the Ideal Wine Company, need to be allowed to breathe.

In contrast, you don’t need to let white wines and Champagnes breathe before serving. You definitely shouldn’t allow Champagnes to breathe because they’ll go flat, and no one likes flat bubbly. However, if a white wine has been aged for a significant amount of time in a wooden barrel it may contain tannins which means it should be aerated before it’s served.

Decanting

However, if you open up a bottle of red and just leave it to aerate you’re not really doing it right. This is because the bottle of the neck is narrow, so you only expose the wine to a surface area that’s roughly the size of a penny, meaning that the vintage won’t receive the air it needs to breathe.

If you want to maximise your vintage’s ability to breathe, you need to pour it into a decanter. This allows your red to take a deep breath, and gives it the time it needs to filter out the sediment that can build up as a result of the wine making process. This is why you really need to learn how to use a decanter.

Rule of thumb

Take this as a rule of thumb. If you’ve decided to buy a Krug 1988 from the Ideal Wine Company, whatever you do, don’t let it breathe. However, if you’ve decided to purchase a Hermitage La Chapelle 1985, you should let it aerate, as red wines need to be allowed to breathe before they’re served.

How to Read a Wine Label

A wine label can tell you everything you need to know about your luxury vintage. With this in mind, this week the Ideal Wine Company explains how to read a wine label.

Assess your vintage

Here at the Ideal Wine Company, we would say that our Hermitage La Chapelle 1985 is a fantastic example of a classic red wine. It’s a structured, intriguing vintage which boasts subtle notes of ground coffee, and light aromas of truffle and cherry fruit.

Yet we truly believe that as a consumer, you need to assess the quality of any vintage, including the Hermitage La Chappelle 1985, before you add it to your wine collection. This is why you need to know how to be able to read a wine label. These labels, especially on French vintages, contain all the information you need to assess the quality of a bottle of fine wine.

Five label reading tips

However, the average wine label holds a lot of information, which pieces do you need to read to assess the quality of a bottle of wine? Here are five tips that’ll help you read the label:

  • Know the grapes: Different grapes have different qualities. If you look at the grapes, you’ll be able to determine how the vintage should taste, as well as whether it’s a blend. We’d suggest that you do your research so you can determine which varieties of grape you prefer.

 

  • Check the vintage: If a vineyard produces one pinot noir in 1985, and another in 1995, chances are they won’t taste the same because they’ve been exposed to different growing conditions. If you check the vintage of the bottle when you read the label, you can determine whether your bottle was produced in one of the vineyard’s better years.

 

  • Think about alcohol content: It’s absolutely vital that you check the alcohol content if you’re buying the wine for a dinner party. If a wine’s alcohol content is 16% or more, it shouldn’t be paired with food, as it can prove too overpowering and damage the flavour of your lovingly prepared dish.

 

  • Don’t be fooled by reserve: The Ideal Wine Company has previously explained that there are certain differences between old and new world wines. They use the word ‘reserve’ on labels in different ways. In the old world, reserve refers to a superior vintage, whilst in the new world it’s often meaningless!

 

  • Learn about the region: There’s a reason that it’s common practise to refer to wines by their region of origin on labels. The region has a big impact on the quality of the vintage. If you check the region when you read the label you can learn about the wine’s growing conditions, development techniques, and traditions which have shaped its production and so much more.

 

Read the label

At the end of the day, you should never take somebody’s word for it. We would always advise you to read a wine’s label before you buy it. This way you can use the information on the label to determine whether this is the type of wine you want to serve at your next dinner party, or store in your ever-growing wine collection!

What’s the Difference Between Old and New World Wines?

If you want to cultivate a deep understanding of wine, there are certain terms you need to learn about first. With this in mind, the Ideal Wine Company asks; what’s the difference between old and new world wines?

History of wine making

Human societies have been making wine for thousands of years. The practise became particularly popular after the advent of Christianity, due to the role wine plays as a metaphor for the blood of Jesus Christ in the Abrahamic religion’s Mass ceremony.

This meant that the practise of wine growing became commonplace throughout the Christian world. When the countries of Christendom started colonising the lands of the new world, such as the Americas, from the 15th century onwards, they brought wine making with them. This allowed countries such as the USA, Argentina and Chile to develop robust wine-making traditions, which continue to this very day.

A question of location

The reason that the Ideal Wine Company has decided to give you a history lesson, is that the difference between “old world wine” and “new world wine” is one of location. It basically means that old world wines were made in European countries such as France and Spain, whilst new world wines were made in the lands discovered by the European colonisers, such as California.

This is the reason that some wine labels inform you of the location of their origin. You can use this as an indicator of what to expect from the vintage. According to Wine Spectator, “the climates of new world wine regions are often warmer, which tends to result in riper, more alcoholic, full-bodied and fruit-centred wines.” In contrast, “old world wines tend to be lighter-bodied, exhibiting more herb, earth, mineral and floral components.”

Tradition vs. modernisation

Location isn’t the only reason you need to know the difference between old world wine and new world wine. It’s also a question of production methods. The countries of the “old world” have been making your favourite tipple for so long, that they have developed time-tested methods and techniques which they’re loathe to abandon.

The perfect example is Champagne; producers of the luxury tipple are legally bound to follow certain guidelines, meaning they’ve been making Champagne the same way for centuries. Meanwhile, the countries of the “new world” are less bound by traditions, which means that they’re far more open to using technology and science to  improve their wine production methods.

Sample old and new world wines

Now you’ve read this article, why don’t you try what you learned out for yourself? If you buy a La Grande Annee Bollinger 1995 from the Ideal Wine Company, you’ll notice that it’s a classic old world creation. However, if you purchase a Harlan Estate 2002 from the Ideal Wine Company, you’ll soon discover how much of a contrast a new world California wine strikes, when compared with it’s old world French counterpart.

History of Tokaji Wine

When you buy a Tokaji wine from the Ideal Wine Company, you walk away with a vintage that has long been hailed as the “wine of kings.”

What is Tokaji wine?

Tokaji is a sweet white wine that’s produced in the Tokaj region of Hungary and South-Eastern Slovakia. It’s the world’s oldest botrytised wine, meaning that it’s produced through an ancient process which uses grapes that have developed “noble rot.”

The interesting thing is that we call it the world’s oldest botrytised wine, but we don’t actually know for sure. This is because nobody knows how long the peoples of Hungary have been making this classic sweet white. According to legend, people have been cultivating vines on the volcanic soil of the Tokaj region since Magyar, or even Celtic times.

Wine of kings

What we do know, according to Royal Tokaji, is that by the end of the 17th Century Tokaji had become regarded as one of the best vintages in the world by the courts of Europe. It was held in such high esteem that it was labelled the “wine of kings” by many Central European courts, and given a very special honour.

This is the time that Prince Rakoczi of Hungary turned Tokaji into the first wine in the world to be subject to appellation control. This was 120 years before France granted the same honour to the bottles of Bordeaux. The prince extended appellation control to 28 villages across the region.

Turbulent history

However Tokaji was forced to come down from this heady high as the world careened into the 20th Century and went to war. The region was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When the Empire fell at the end of World War One, a portion of its area was ceded to the newly created Czechoslovakia, never to be whole again.

However, the 20th Century event that had the biggest effect on the production of Tokaji was the rise of communism. Hungary became a communist country at the end of World War Two, when it fell under the influence of the Soviet Union. The county adopted Marxist principles, and Tokaji wine production was forced to fall into line. It’s bottling and distribution were monopolised by the state. However, since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1990 a number of independent wineries have once again grown up in Tokaj.

Buy Tokaji

Tokaji is a wine that has earned its reputation as the “wine of kings,” justifying the decision to subject it to appellation control by surviving everything the 20th Century had to throw at it. See why Tokaji has remained one of the world’s most popular sweet white wines for centuries by purchasing a bottle from the Ideal Wine Company right now!