At the end of October last year, LA & I made a last minute dash to St John. The November lockdown had just been announced to come into force the week later, and we made a run for it. The meal, as per all of St John’s meals, was exceptional. We drank some trousseau.
It will be no surprise that food and drink are my two biggest passions. I love it all. The high brow of Michelin dining – seeing food be messed around with, or dishes reduced to their bare minimum – is delightful. But so too is the other end of the spectrum: the everyday boozers, cafes and family run restaurants. I love it all.
It is therefore with incredible delight that this next wave of lockdown restrictions is here. Many of our friends work in bars, pubs, and restaurants. Almost every venue I know has spent a lot of money increasing outdoor capacities, changing offerings over the last few months. To the punters everywhere, make sure you keep your bookings. Don’t double book. Cancel with appropriate time in advance. We all owe it to them.
With that we will be buying our first pints this week and seeing what our favourite pubs and venues have gotten up to. Cheers.
Tastings: Live & On-Demand
We pushed our April tastings live last week. As well as our YouTube April Box tastingthis Wednesday, we’ve got a whole calendarof other tastings. This Friday, you can taste Augeo Melnik 55 with Isabelle who is joined by the winemaker. This is your chance to meet a winemaker and ask them questions directly while tasting one of their wines.
Next week, you can learn about pet-nats and park wine that comes in litre bottles. And then we have two By The Glass tastings lined up: a 5 glass primer on Napa, and a 5 glass primer on sauvignon blanc (from kiwi to Sauternes).
We have also launched On-Demand - this is your chance to join tastings in your own time. We see this a bit as Peloton for Wine. Missed the Domaine Tempier tasting? Catch up On-Demand.
Our digital Wine Roots course
This week, we are launching our digital Wine Roots course. This is a masterclass where you can learn all about wine with our head of wine Isabelle. The first instalment goes live for all customers this week, then we will be introducing new instalments in coming months.
New wine arriving by the week
We’ve got plenty of new wine in stock for you to taste through. English chardonnay, Chateau Thivin Brouilly restocks, and two new grower Champagne (one grand cru from Lamiable, and the other, a grand cru blanc de blancs from Suenen). We’ve also got plenty of stocks of park wine – if you’re stuck as to which to order, watch Isabelle taste all four in Myatts Fields here.
A Lidl trio
These three from Lidl will see you through the confusing weather. A celebratory fizz, a garden white and a red to sit by the fire with.
Made in the same method as Champagne, Crémant de Loire (Lidl, £8.49) is a great option for some cheap bubbles. This one has bright fruits. Isabelle likes crémant with Thai Sweet Chilli Sensations. A perfect crisp and wine food pairing for a garden aperitif.
Vinho Verde (Lidl, £6.49) is the garden wine to crack out with friends. Vinho Verde is the region not the grape, and is known for its high acidity and refreshing citrus. This one is exactly that but with added dried herbs - perfect with some olives on the lawn.
Monastrell (Lidl, £7.49) will be sure to warm you up in this cold weather. Huge amounts of alcohol and huge amounts of body, this is a wine for food. They rarely let monastrell be left to its own devices without softening it up with some grenache. Here you can see it in all its glory.
Why frost is so damaging
If you’ve seen the pictures of rural France this week, it looks like a scene from a pagan ritual or a medieval battle. Farmers across the country have lit fires across the hillsides to protect their crops from the cold snap. But why is frost so devastating to our wine?
As temperatures rise in Spring, buds start to appear on vines. These buds will become grapes. If a cold snap hits and freezes these young buds, it will kill them and the vine won’t produce any grapes.
The warm weather this year started the grape cycle early, but this week’s cold weather is killing off that early start.
An estimated 80% of vines in Chablis have been hit with frost damage. 50% in the rest of Burgundy. It’s hard to know what extent they’ve been damaged yet, but we do know the 2021 harvest will be a difficult one.
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