Podcast by David Chandler
Podcast by David Chandler
Adventures In White
In this big, bonging, New Year edition, Jason introduces David to the Rhône Septentrionale (or Northern Rhône)and the handful of rare and characterful white wines that are teased into existence alongside the ever abundant rows of generic Cotes Du Rhône AOC. While David's head is still spinning with percentages, hectares and Olympic-sized swimming pools (not to mention the vestiges of this year's flu virus), Jason has popped the cork on their first bottle; a fizzy, yet velvety smooth St. Peray from Jean Louis Thiers. It's fit for an emperor and probably was - at least when Napoleon was quaffing it as a cadet in nearby Valence. South East of Valence, Cotes Du Rhone Brézème began with just one hectare in 1962. Though it remains in a kind of classification limbo, this rare blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier from Julian Montagnon is in a class of its own. Further up North and up budget, Alain Graillot's Crozes Hermitage Blanc might appear under-dressed in its screwcap, but is a bright, beautifully textured, masterful offering from a master wine-maker. Only three bottles in to the podcast, any thoughts that David might have that Jason has peaked too soon are chased away by a half bottle of Georges Vernay's voluptuous, ethereal Condrieu. 'There are many occasions when half is the perfect volume,' Jason insists and David, who has barely resorted to the spittoon since the tasting began, is hardly in a position to disagree. Finally, at Hermitage, we arrive at 'le sommet' of Jason's tour of the Northern Rhone and Jean-Louis Chave's Selection Blanche 2015. 'A wine to contemplate,' says David just as Jason whips out a 2001 domain wine from the same illustrious wine maker - gothic font and all. 'I am indulging you today, David,' he says, pleonasmically.
In this special, holly-decked edition, Jason begins by asking David the obvious question and despite receiving the rather obvious answer, presses ahead regardless with a bumper, eight-bottle sampling of his own Christmas wine choices that is guaranteed to get even the most diehard humbug ding-dong-merrily-on-high.
Sure enough, David's soon getting teary-eyed over a pocket-sized, half-bottle of Leon Beyer, Cremant d'Alsace; a finely-bubbled, brioche-bouqueted vivifier that's perfect for incentivising the scullion on sprout-peeling duty.
With an eye to the fact that your relatives may well hang around far longer than your wine does, Jason's next suggestion is a German, Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein. At around a tenner a bottle, your feckless offspring can neck this easy-going aperitif while you're still worrying over your cranberry reduction.
Two wines in and our intrepid duo have only got as far as the smoked salmon, which Jason decides he'll pair with a 2018 Chablis, Domaine Christoph Camu. David may call it, 'Trad,' but this nervy, fruity classic has been around for a long time for good reason and this one's so desirable, your salmon will be just begging for the lemon juice.
In need of respite from the demands of meal-planning, Jason and David divert to Christmas Eve and sample a 2017 Yapp Rouge; a toothsome, mid-weight, pure cabernet sauvignon that will cheer any opportunist carollers who happen to gate-crash your silent night. Before you can say, 'Figgy pudding,' however, they're back to the big day and a beautiful Beaujolais 'Fleurie' from Alain Graillot. This racy, crunchy, floral red is Beaujolais done the right way. All you have to do is do your guinea fowl the right way, too.
With the beefeaters and mushroom munchers in mind, the gloves are off for Jason's next choice; a no-holds-barred 2015 Châteauneuf Du Pape 'Le Vieux Donjon.' This awesome dark fruit, cherry and tapenade, vintage wine will hush all conversation at the table and wrap even your most garrulous guest in a welcome bubble of solipsistic and appreciative contemplation.
Though David may wish to linger, Jason is bringing out the cheese already and for the first time in their podcasting history, our vinous pair enjoy the novelty of eating something to soak up all the sampling they've done. The cheese is a heady, truffle-infused Godminster cheddar which team Yapp has paired with an equally heady Château Milhau Lacugue, 'La Truffiere.' Not quite like putting curry on your vindaloo, but a double-truffle treat for any hedonist who can't get enough of a good thing. And for those who may feel they've had quite enough of everything, Jason's last suggestion may just persuade them to linger a little longer at the table. Put away the port, stash the Sauternes; Banyuls from Domaine La Tour Vielle is a limpid, caramel-coloured, candied peel and fig, dessert wine that will stand up to Christmas pud, mince pies and chocolate whilst everyone else is falling over.
Heroes of the Hérault
After a long summer break, Jason, the man with 'the most embarrassing recycling box in the street,' is ready to pile on even more embarrassment for the furtherance of oenological knowledge and David is more than willing to help him. With their feet firmly under Jason's kitchen table and ISO wine glasses under their noses, Jason whisks the pair of them away to the Languedoc, on a virtual tour of the Hérault with no more than a few deft twists of his corkscrew. Here, they enthuse over Xavier Bruguière's stone-fruit, 2017 Coteaux Du Languedoc, as fragrant as the mulberry after which it's named and his herby, berry-scented 2017 Pic Saint-Loup. 'Untamed,' says Jason, mentioning Myrtle in almost the same breath. 'Very, very nice indeed,' avers David, his head swimming already. Eighteen kilometres South and West is the famous Terrasses Du Larzac, home of Frédéric Pourtalié's 22 hectare plot, whose white 2016 Domaine Montcalmès is as rare as it is elegant. Pourtalié's 2016 red is young, but happily for our two adventurers, drinking from the off. Decant it and you could be drinking Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. After that, a sampling of Grange Des Pères, Terrasses Du Larzac's most famous wine, is unavoidable and Jason has pulled the cork on Laurent Vaillées beautifully balanced 2016 blend before you can say... well, what can you say when confronted by a masterpiece?
2018. How was it for you? The vignerons of France may trumpet it as an historic vintage, but Jason being determined to find out for himself, marshals five newly-minted bottles of white, rosé and red and inveigles the ever-obliging David to figuratively hold his jacket while he gives them all a thorough going over. The Domaine De l'Idylle from the Savoie is declared fresh and zesty, the Chablis from Christophe Camu, rich and smooth and the rosé (a Reuilly from the Loire valley), is taut and crunchy and looks good, too. The reds, a L'Arpenty from Chinon, which smells like raspberry ripple according to David, is a hedonistically enjoyable, pure fruit delight. And as if that wasn't enough, Jean-Pierre Boisson's ever popular Petit Caboche from the Vaucluse is deemed as good as it ever was and as close as a Vin De Pays can possibly get to a Châteauneuf Du Pape without actually being a Châteauneuf du Pape, even though its made by a celebrated Châteauneuf Du Pape grower somewhere very near, well, Châteauneuf Du Pape. 2018? So far, so good, says David.
David's excitement at another bibulous session, Chez Yapp, is mitigated somewhat by Jason's announcement that the theme for the podcast is small appellations. After his first sip of the morning, however, he realises with great relief, that the next twenty minutes will be more hedonism than hectares. Jean Luis Thiers' St. Peray 'Tranquille' is nutty, fruity yet dry, with the enviable distinction of being both rare and good value for money. Next up, from Palette, is an exceptional Chateau Simone Blanc 2015. This limpid, straw-coloured blend from the chateau's ancient vines leaves David tonque-tied, but what can you say about one of France's great gastronomic wines apart from 'Santé'? Bellet, The Urban Appellation of Nice, is Jason's next diminutive wine region. The Dalmasso's Domaine De La Source, 2015 is a beautifully evolved red that the well-informed, well-heeled locals are more than happy to keep to themselves but you can trust Yapp Brothers to have charmed them out of a few cases. An aromatic red from Domaine Pieretti's 11 hectares of Corsican heaven is Jason's last offering. This garnet-coloured, berry-flavoured beauty epitomises all that is good about small production wine growers; skillful devotion, intimate knowledge and a strong sense of terroire.
Châteauneuf Du Pape
In the very teeth of winter, Jason and David battle all the way to the wine cellar in search of bottled sunshine; to Châteauneuf Du Pape, in fact, historical home to the Avignon Popes in exile, a recent ruin, some very big pebbles and thirteen varieties of grape, all of which are permitted into a single bottle of France’s finest and first appellation contrôlée wine. First up is a lovely, limpid, 2017 Domaine Du Père Caboche. A relative rarity, only 7% of Châteauneuf production is given over to white wine and this particular offering has so much fruit, Jason can even taste the wax on the lemons. It wears its 13.5 ABV lightly, too. At last, our plucky pair find themselves warming to a 2016 red from the same estate. Herby and briary with almost fondant tannins, Jason has only to say the word ‘daube’ and David is transported back in time to Provence and a memorably close encounter with a dish of aubergines. After a brief attempt to out-daube one another, it’s time for J and D to test the effects of age on a mature C De P in the form of a Domaine Saint Gayan's 2011 vintage. Some say that grenache doesn’t age well in the bottle, but not so the grapes in this gem of a wine. It would’ve lain down for another three years or more if only Jason and David hadn’t had other plans for it.
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