Podcast by David Chandler
As bars and restaurants across the U.K. empty, thanks to COVID-19, the recycling bins of the population fill up and none could be fuller than those of Jason and David both, coincidentally, returned from holidays in more benign climes and obliged to quarantine at Her Majesty's pleasure in their respective domiciles. But rather than spend their house arrest staring holes into the air, our bibulous pair heroically set themselves the task of tasting their way through no less than five different appellations in an attempt to ascertain whether or not 2019 was a good year for wine. From the off, judging by Domaine André Vatan's Sancerre, the auguries are very good . This is a classic sauvignon blanc with an elderflower and nettle nose and a reassuringly racy palate. On to Leon Beyer's La Cuvée from Alsace. It's touch-and-go for a moment as David's recently applied aftershave takes an early lead over this delicately-flavoured 'edelzwicker' but thankfully, quarantine measures mean that he's able to keep his audacious faux pas (and the 'edelzwicker') to himself. Next up, Philippe Girard's honey-coloured, late summer rosé from the up-and-coming Malepère region is not only beautiful to look at but delightful to drink. Fresh and bright, it wears its 13.5 ABV well. From Central France, Jason and David's next sampling, is a 'vin de soif' - a forward drinking, hedonistic, highly quaffable 'La Ficelle' from St-Pourçain. Just a couple of glugs are enough to dispel even David's reservations about the 'Charlie Hebdo' label - but why should wine drinking always be such a po-faced affair anyway? Lastly, from Corsica, is Domaine Pieretti's wonderfully briary red. 'Loganberry,' says David. 'Untamed,' says Jason, before both agree that while 2020 may not be their favourite year, 2019 is definitely looking up.
As temperatures (and tempers) heat up during lockdown, we've all learned that wine isn't the only thing that's gotta breathe. For this second socially-distanced wine tasting, however, Jason has lined up a flight of reds, that after a cool start, will simply warm up in your glass. Each made from a single variety grape, they're perfect for summer time drinking, for kitchen table lunches, picnics or just sipping in the garden when the sun is high and the wheelie bin, even higher. First, Fred Filliatreau's Chateau Fouquet 2018 is a fresh, fragrant Cabernet Franc: a firm favourite and not only with lovers of alliteration. Next, Stéphane Brocard's Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2017 is earthy and fruity, yet racy, says Jason. 'Perky,' adds David, struggling for a word that will adequately describe what is happening on his tongue. Third, is a Beaujolais from Domaine de Fa 2018; a high quality Gamay with vibrant, red fruit that has Jason waxing lyrical and David searching for a bigger glass. Jason's penultimate selection is a rather unusual Poulsard 2017 from Louis Tissot. This smooth, stewed red fruit, jewel from the Jura is as esoteric as it is delicious. Mondeuse, from La Famille Tiolliers, is Jason's final offering. Though full-tasting and peppery, when it comes to summer, it's another wine from the right altitude with the right attitude: light and fresh and ideal for long, hot days and even longer evenings.
In what can only be described as a technological breakthrough for our bibulous pair, Jason and David zoom their way through their first socially distanced wine tasting, pulling off the unprecedented feat of opening the same white at the same time for a spot of synchronous sipping. The pandemic aside, with two woke sons on his quaranteam and climate change an ever pressing issue, vegan wines have been very much on Jason's mind. The good news is that most Yapp wines are vegan, the bad news is that many wine growers just haven't got around to labelling them as such. Two that have are Reh Kendermann and Fred Filliatreau . The former makes a fresh orchard fruit, easy-drinking Pinot Gris vom Kalkstein and the latter, a mineral yet fruitful, Château Fouquet Cabernet Franc, much loved by both Jason and David. And in another first for unprecedented times, neither has to share the bottle with other.
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?