JWL Issue #117: What does blanc de noirs mean? Plus 25% off Tesco wines...

November 3, 2020

Lockdown 2 will affect us all in different ways. My main concern is with our friends across the hospitality sector. Many restaurants, bars, and pubs were just about hitting a capacity stride which they were making work only to be reversed again this week.

We had a penultimate last hurrah at St John on Saturday, with a final, final hurrah at Anchor & Hope this week. I can think of few better places to celebrate these last moments of gastronomic freedom.

November box shipping this week

We had a last-minute wine swap this month because our red got stuck in Spain, owing to a port workers' strike in Bilbao.

While we tried our hardest to get it out to you, we decided to order another wine in instead. Those Bilbao wines will now make up your December box – we hope you excuse the miswritten date on them.

Wine List Live | November Tasting

Want to taste the November box along with one of our wine team? At 8pm on Wednesday 11, we'll be running through a live tasting of the two wines.

Register here to get a reminder of the event. If you can't make it – or you want to split your tasting up into two evenings – then we'll be recording it and keeping it live on YouTube after. This is free for everyone.

Wine List Live | Zoom Tastings

With the monthly tastings on YouTube Live and watched by hundreds, our more intimate Zoom tastings with a cap of ten people have been proving equally popular.

We're planning a series of these throughout November to make up for the fact we'll all be stuck at home. If you're stuck, we hope at least there's some wine to go along with it. If you've got specific requests, hit reply and let us know.

Lockdown discounts

In England, lockdown is upon us again. There is a lot of emotion and stress that goes into this period – whether you live by yourself, are cut off from wider networks, or simply wish to leave the house less. We are setting a month long discount in our surplus wine store. You can use the code LOCKDOWN10 for 10% off all orders throughout November in the shop.

What we're reading

The long-awaited Noble Rot book was launched this week. Noble Rot started life as a wine fanzine that combined music and wine (which is a double-tick in my book).

Since then, it opened a wine bar and restaurant in Bloomsbury, which is one of the best places to drink in London, and now a follow-up in the old Gay Hussar site. (Note: like with gambling, I find it best to set yourself a spending limit before going in).

Wine from another galaxy is part-memoir, part-mega issue, part-guide to wine, all in one.

Taste & Learn

With just two days left in Tesco's 25% off sale, we feature three of our featured favourites in Taste. And in Learn, we answer Jason's question on blanc de noirs.


Making the most of Tesco's 25% off

Finest Pecorino (£7, down to £5.25 if you buy six mixed bottles) is a delicious stone fruits-driven white, with a crisp finish. Pecorino grows natively in Abruzzo, where this wine is from, though also flourishes over many parts of Italy.

Finest Gavi (£7 down to £5.25 with offer) is fantastic for those days you just really fancy a Gavi. This is lemony fresh with peach in the background. There's balance here that means it is the perfect aperitif wine, as well as a great food wine.

Finally Finest Rioja Gran Reserva (£11.5 down to £8.63 with offer) is, at the discounted price, great value to try a new Rioja. Gran Reserva Rioja has had at least five years of ageing, with at least two in oak barrels. The result? An intense red of black fruits, vanilla and baking spices.


What does blanc de noirs mean?

This week's question from Jason.

As we head towards Christmas and think a little about Champagne, a few new terms might start popping up.

Blanc de blancs is one common phrase, which means literally 'white from white'. This refers to a sparkling wine made only with white grapes – and in Champagne, that means chardonnay.  

Blanc de noirs, by comparison, meaning white from black, is a sparkling wine made up of black grapes. In Champagne, this will mean pinot noir and pinot meunier (which is more often now referred to as simply meunier – or so we're told)

Champagne is rare in France as the only permitted region to allow a pink wine to be made by blending red and white wines together. Here, they will ferment red and white wines individually and blend together into specific cuvées.

Champagne is a good way to challenge some of our preconceptions. Not a chardonnay fan? Some of the very best Champagne in the world is blanc de blancs. Not a fan of pink sparkling wine? Get your hands on a bottle of rosé Champagne and you won't regret it.

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