Wine Titbits


Is wine made for tasting or drinking?

Would you want to drink more than a glass?

This was a discussion I had with Tim Johnston at the infamous Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris, which has an excellent wine list that is based on the premise that you would like to order another glass!

He is obviously of the opinion that an extra glass is good for business and buys wine accordingly, yet still interestingly!

Richard Craig on Californian Chardonnay...

Chateau Latif

Chateau Latif


Fulbright Scholar, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the City University of New York, Latif Jiji is also the only person known to grow, harvest and turn his grapes into wine in Manhattan! He resides on the upper East Side.

Leaving his native Baghdad in 1946, Professor Latif, a Jew, never returned to the country of his birth but continued the tradition of his father, who also grew wine.

This wonderfully eccentric idea has been the subject of TV interviews  and featured in newspaper articles as diverse as Time Magazine, New York Times and The New York  Post.

Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.1

Two from the independent Jeroboams


Chateau Lalande-Borie 2007 Saint-Julien £22.95
This estate was bought by the Borie family, owners of Ducru Beaucaillou in 1970. This does not guarantee a fine existence! However in this case, in a difficult, cool and wet vintage, this wine is seductive and pure. Definitely Bordelais, medium bodied, fragrant and gentle tannins. It shows truly superb and flexible winemaking, producing a wine "of the year" rather than throwing money and wood at unsuitable raw materials. It would make a great accompanyment for lamb, veal and cocks.



Sancerre 2007 Cuvee Reserve "Silex" Domaine Serge Laloue £17.50
This is top draw Sancerre. Great depth and beautiful balance. Crisp and lively but more than just rasping. A gentle softening, due to the low yields and bottle age, of the often searingly acidic Sauvignon Blanc that can be produced in these Northern climes makes this wine a great match for seafood and also light meats and vegetables.


Four Course Lunatics




Four Course Compost anyone?  Melon skin, steak bones, red peppers and pasta on the menu for some of California's best fed vines.

Richard Craig discovers how natural winemaking is completing the green loop:  from the farm to the restaurant kitchen and from the kitchen back to the vineyard that produces the wine that goes back to the restaurant!

Richard's Beef




Richard Craig on misleading wine label terminology.

Vielles Vignes, Reserve Wine, Cuvée.  Do they have any real meaning?



Richard's Wine Challenge
Richard Wine ChallengeRichard Craig, Master of Wine student, will attempt to identify a series of mystery wines against the clock.

Part One - How to go about it

Part Two - Against the clock

Part Three - Win some, lose some

Part Four - Close but no cigar


Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.2

Two Classics from the anything but "classic" The Winery, Maida Vale  020 7286 6475 


Champagne Carte d'Or NV, Amyot. £18.99

This Champagne is a "GROWER CHAMPAGNE" made from grapes grown and vinified by the name of the producer on the bottle. The Winery specialise in these. No Grande Marque multi, mega blends here! The current shipment of Amyot  is fresh, crisp and lively with attractive red current fruit acidity and a lingering gentle finish. It is 100% Pinot Noir, a true blanc de Noir!  This is in contrast to the previous shipment, which had a delicious creaminess with depth and complexity but without the raciness.  That is what you get with these very individual grower Champagnes, produced to the best quality possible, but with a little variation more often or not to do with the time/date of degorgement when the sediment created by the secondary fermentation is expelled and a wine and sugar solution is added. The more recently that this is done, the fresher, more lively the Champagne is the normal rule of thumb. Anyway, this is a delicious drinking physio suitable for many outdoor pursuits.



Chablis 2008 Mosnier £15.99

This is top class minerally, dry, dry Chablis, no oak , fresh acidity balanced with restrained and pure fruit.  Stephanie Mosnier gave up her job in logistics to take over her father's domaine in the small village of Beine. Unlike many a modern Chablis, this one actually goes well with seafood and makes a bracing aperitif.


Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.4

Touraine Amboise Sec 2002  Domaine de la Perdrielle 12%  £9.50 Bordeaux et Beyond

This wine is still fresh and lively, very classic Chenin Blanc, complex, rich and gracefully ageing. Chenin Blanc is a very noble grape variety in the Loire. It is just a shame that most people come across it in fairly bland South African Whites!


Domaine des Rocailles Apremont 2009 Savoie

DRINK IT NOW! and for the summer with strawberries!

White wines of the Savoie do not often find their way out of the region. Like Swiss wines, they are true local wines, drunk by locals in the locale!  Often dull and uninteresting, the wines that is!  I can whole heartedly recommend this for early Summer drinking at the very refreshing price of £6.07 Waitrose.  Made from the usually high yielding Jacquere grape, this wine is not for cellaring, it has an attractive slight spritz, which enlivens the relatively neutral and soft mouthfeel. It has a gentle, pleasing citrus finish and slips down very easily.

Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.5
*Wine of the Year - so far!!

Grolleau "Le Cousin" Vielle Vignes 2007 Domaine Cousin-Leduc, Anjou AC. Les Cave de Pyrene,  tel. 01483 554750

This wine was consumed at Terroir Wine Bar tel. 020 7036 0660 £30, with a companion who like me wanted something "wacky! " Grolleau is a variety now virtually only encountered as a component  in Rose d"Anjou, bland and insipid! The name Grolleau is derived from the old French word "Grolle" means Raven, a bird with plumage as black as the grapes from this vine. Old vines, carbonic maceration, non filtration and biodynamic practises produce a wine that is cloudy, purple-violet-red, has aromas of farmyards and horse manure, is red current juicy with vibrant, long acidity and considerable depth . Give me more!!


Chateau Pierre-Bise L'Anclaie 2007 Coteaux du Layon Beaulieu 50cl. Lea & Sandeman  £16.99

2007 was not the best vintage for Loire sweeties, but Claude and Joelle Papin of Chateau Pierre-Bise manage superb consistency. This is achieved by tirelessly picking trie after trie only the most botrytised grapes for there cuvees. This, from one of his more exposed vineyards, hence less susceptible to the positive mists necessary for the noble rot to infect the grapes is a case in point. It has ripe, golden, flower honey aromas,  creamy and elegant with appropriate balanced acidity. It would be and in fact was, delicious with baked apples and custard!
Richard Craig's Wine of the Week - No.3

Rippon 2009 Lake Wanaka Central Otago Sauvignon Blanc  75cl £14.95 Lea and Sandeman.

I have to admit to being a bit fed up with a succession of blowsy, over sweet and vegetal NZ Sauvignon Blancs and some at high prices. Rippon 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, however is poised and focussed, with tight blackcurrant leaf aromas, excellent intensity and a racy mouthfeel. 40% of the cuvee was vinified in oak and this just adds to the complexity - it is not oaky!


Tenuta di Riseccoli 2000 Vin Santo 37.5cl  £34

This is tippy toppy sweet, complex, unctuous and rare. On the face of it, expensive, but when one considers the yields that are obtained not only for this vin santo but for many, top quality desert wines, an absolute maximum of 15hl/ha.  This can be compared with the yields achieved by the great Chateau of Bordeaux, where often as much as 40hl/ha are achieved, plus the probability of making second and third wines,  one can then see that these are not overpriced at all. Often they are made as a hobby or as a means of maintaining the traditional viticulture of an area and are non-profit making.