Issue: 6 / Sunday 3 December, 2017
"Mountains are cathedrals: grand and pure, the houses of my religion. I go to them as humans go to worship...From their lofty summits, I view my past, dream of the future, and with unusual acuity I am allowed to experience the present moment. My strength renewed, my vision cleared, in the mountains I celebrate creation. On each journey I am reborn."
We asked our boss and owner of Z&B / The Vinorium to share his passion for the mountains and a few of his photographs as he prepares to tackle one of the world’s 8,000 metre mountains in 2019. Stu, as he prefers to be called has climbed extensively – From the remote mountain range of the Karakoram, Himalaya, throughout the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps to his back door (relatively speaking) of the Highlands of Scotland, which we know is where Stu would rather be on a day-to-day basis if it were not for work.
We asked “why do you enjoy climbing so much?”
“Foremost I do it because there is no other place I would rather be. Hard for some to understand but I feel so happy and peaceful with myself whilst climbing. The draw of the mountains is their simplicity as the stresses and strains of normal life have no place there. You focus purely on living; you literally struggle for breath and life itself when climbing above 6,000+ metres. It is the freedom and peace that the mountains offer and their draw is certainly irresistible”
“What about the danger?” we asked
“Fear is certainly apart of climbing and keeps me alive although, as my days tick by, I believe I respect life more. Sometimes, when I am in a dangerous situation, fear can be life-preserving. It is a natural response to the anticipation of pain or what is about to happen. I vividly remember the apprehension and the most extraordinary sense of isolation when I climbed my very first winter alpine accent ‘solo’. The stress was overwhelming; I literally had to keep shouting at myself to “get a grip, and keep going, others have climbed this ‘Solo’, why not you?”
"Where are your favourite places to climb?"
“That is an impossible question to answer as each mountain range is unique, challenging and beautiful in their own right. I would certainly opt for Pakistan’s Karakorum Range, which is home to K2, Nanga Parbat and many more of the world’s highest mountains. The isolation of climbing here is something quite extraordinary as is the sheer enormity of the mountains. I remember heading out on to the ice of the Chogolungma Glacier. My surroundings would not have been out of place in a book of mythical fairytales. The glacier stretched as far as the eye could see, the hot morning sun bounding off the ice in wonderful hues of blues and greens and snow capped mountains soared upwards on all sides. Imagine yourself as small as an ant standing in the centre circle of an empty Cardiff Millennium Stadium – This would provide you with the sense of the scale. I was standing in the largest natural amphitheatre on this planet...”
“The Scottish Highlands are equal for me, particularly around Glen Coe and the Cuillin Ridge. Of course these mountain lack the sheer size however, technically they offer some of Europe’s hardest climbs. The weather is also unpredictable, which catches many out and certainly adds another layer of complexity to an already tough day in the hills. Coming off a climb to a warming shower, a beer (followed by a bottle of wine) certainly has its benefits over a re-hydrated boil in the bag meal which you have to endure in the Himalaya”.
We asked Stu to delve into his photo library and pick-out some of his best photos of the Scottish highlands / mountains.
(24-25 November) We had a thoroughly fab time at the Winchester Wine Festival and were inundated with wonderful compliments from those who attended (circa 1,500). The unanimous vote for the best white wine went to Flowstones Chardonnay(s) with Susie Barrie MW simply loving the Queen of the Earth. ’01 Henschke Keyneton was a huge hit as was the ’05 Schwarz Wine Company Thiele Road Grenache however, Two Hands Lily’s Garden got the No:1 vote from the public.
Aramis is heading home...
Out of the blue, we received a telephone call from Aramis Vineyards requesting to purchase our entire stock holdings of their inaugural vintage, The Governor Syrah which they no longer posses in their cellars (save a few bottles). Interestingly, they sell-out each and every vintage compared to wine that has struggled to find traction with the UK market. 30 cases are packed and are now heading back to The McLaren Vale, Australia
Our Wines are to be listed by one of the ‘top’ wine bars in Greece
Chilai (Thessaloníki, Greece) have seriously boosted their wine offerings and are now listing some stunning wines from our list including;
Egly Ouriet Champagne, Hermitage Blanc Jean Louis Chave, Eyrie Vineyards, a huge range from DuMOL, Liquid Farms, Gramercy Cellars, Shaw + Smith Chardonnay, a mini vertical of Torbreck, The Descendant, Yarra Yering selection, Deep Woods Chardonnay, Kaesler Old Bastard & Old Vine, Hobbs... The list continues.
18 months after they were tasted En Primeur, critics are slowly releasing their 2015
(from the bottle) scores...
Jane Anson of Decanter has awarded 100 points for Château Margaux, which we all knew was the standout wine of the entire vintage.
Sadly, wine fraud is nothing new with many vulnerable victims being conned daily in the UK. This week, our director / owner, Stuart has turned the tables on one dishonest company who have agreed to return £56,000 to one investor who came to us for help. We have asked Stuart to prepare a full article on the pitfalls and more importantly, what to do if you find yourself a victim of wine fraud. This will be posted in a few weeks.
The Utterly Brilliant Egly Ouriet
Written by Stuart McCloskey
“Egly-Ouriet is one of the reference-point growers in Champagne, with a deep selection of wines that offer remarkable transparency to site, vintage and variety ... These are among the most pure, unmanipulated Champagnes readers will come across, and the estate’s new releases are all highly recommended.”
Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate
"Few producers can equal Francis Egly in skill and experience, and larger houses cannot hope to emulate the cultivation norms..."
Michel Bettane & Thierry Desseauve, 'The World's Greatest Wines'
Since The Vinorium’s inception we have worked with Francis Egly, who is simply the brilliant vigneron and winemaker at this now cult house, releasing exceptional artisan Champagne. Some 10 hectares of vineyards comprising of mostly Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Premier Cru, old-vine Pinot Meunier, provide the base wines used in the house's various cuvées.
On the back of this raw material comes a core of values that champion organic and biodynamic farming, low yields, partial or whole fermentation in oak, no fining or filtration and single vineyard bottling that result in wines that express enormous energy and individuality. As one of the region’s leading grower producers called récoltant manipulant, he has found favour with today’s wine-writing elite that include Jancis Robinson, Robert Parker, Antonio Gallioni and Andrew Jefford.
The Tradition Grand Cru Brut is a non-vintage Champagne offering density with a feather-light impact of minerals, toast and biscuit. Long ageing on the lees provides gentle texture, its Grand Cru provenance and impeccable length on the finish.
“Selosse-like, exotically oaky, organically influenced giant of a Champagne”
"Egly-Ouriet manages for Pinot Noir: wines of riveting concentration and purity"
Andrew Jefford; 'The New France'
Often touted as a baby Krug d’Ambonnay, the steal from this house comes in the form of the all Pinot Noir cuvée from old vines, Blanc de Noirs Vielles Vignes Grand Cru. These ancient vines were planted in 1946 and much of the grapes were originally sold-off to the Champagne great, Selosse. Today, Francis keeps all the Pinot Noir for himself – Who wouldn’t as these are some of the best Pinot Noir vines in Champagne.
Egly Ouriet Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru NV
(Disgorged July 2015, Lees: 72 months)
In short, this is simply the greatest Blanc de Noir (100% Pinot Noir) which money can buy. Produced from an ancient vineyard planted in 1946 and spends an incredible 72 months on its lees, which adds considerable complexity to what is already something quite extraordinary. This is truly a treat and stirs the depths of your soul
(if you are one of the lucky few).
Egly Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru NV
Another masterpiece from Francis Ouriet, who offers up a remarkably taut, focused cuvée (70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay) with great energy and minerality in its precise, crystalline fruit. Iconic and deservedly so. The wine Brut Tradition Grand Cru spent 48 months on the lees and was disgorged in July 2015.
Egly Ouriet VP Extra Brut Grand Cru NV
Egly’s extended aged Grand Cru is simply sensational and is a beautifully crafted blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, coming from the 1998 vintage. 72 months on the lees has produced a wine of immense complexity and power however, this is an extraordinarily elegant Champagne. Egly’s tell-tale Pinot notes soar from the glass after a little aeration with mineral notes framing the endless finish. Magnificent!
VP stands for 'vieillissement prolongée' (extended ageing).
Egly Ouriet Brut Rosé Grand Cru NV
Sourced from the Grand Cru terroirs of Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzena and crafted in a similar approach to the Grand Cru Tradition with the exception of the inclusion of Egly’s incredibly rare Coteaux Champenois rouge. Sadly, most rosé Champagnes rarely live up to their price tag however, this is utterly electrifying and simply one of the greatest rosés available today. Magnificent on its own, however, this is one rosé Champagne that has enough weight and tension to partner food.
Egly Ouriet Coteaux Champenois Ambonnay Rouge 2012
A very, very rare Pinot Noir and considered by many as the best Coteaux Champenois produced in Champagne. In fact, this is a worthy comparison to many of the greatest Burgundies. This wine is made in miniscule quantities and comes from a parcel of very old Pinot Noir vines, mid-slope, in the Grand Cru of Ambonnay. A total of 200 cases are produced and it is only made in the finest years. This is a remarkable wine and as good as French Pinot Noir gets outside of Burgundy.
Collectors / Investors Corner:
A Rare Case of
2014 Château Haut Brion ‘Blanc’
With the 2009 & 2010 now selling at £5,250 & £4,500 IB per case of six – The 2014, which receives just one point less (from the No: 1 Bordeaux critic, Neal Martin) does beg the question – Is the 2014 undervalued?
We are offering 2 x cases (6x75cl OWC) for £3,250.00 with all other merchants being circa 10% more expensive.
Immediately available ex-LCB Vinotheque
97 Points Neal Martin
“The 2014 Haut Brion Blanc has a very pure bouquet with scents of peach skin, Cornice pear and those resinous/candle wax aromas that I remarked upon during en primeur. This has more sophistication than the La Mission Haut Brion Blanc, a little more tension. The palate is medium-bodied with a silky smooth entry, perfect acidity, wonderful tension and energy. Notes of orange pith, a squeeze of lime, flint and smoke are conveyed on the finish that demonstrates outstanding persistence. This is a great Haut Brion Blanc, but it will require a decade in the bottle before it will show what it can really do”
97 Points Antonio Galloni
“A magnificent wine, the 2014 Haut-Brion Blanc is drop-dead gorgeous. Ample, broad and intense, but with remarkable freshness, it captures the best of what the season had to offer. Lemon oil, white flowers, white pepper and slate burst from the glass in an extraordinary display of tension, class and pedigree. This is remarkable wine by any measure. Best of all, it should drink well for years and perhaps even decades to come”
Robertson of Clare Max V 2005
This is an utterly magnificent, towering masterpiece and firmly sits in my ‘top 10’ best value wines of 2017.
“Unquestionably, one of the standout Cabernet blends amongst our entire portfolio. The ’05 is nothing short of spectacular for the money particularly given the incredibly expensive use of the finest French oak barriques money can buy. At age 12, it is still an infant in terms of development, and I would not be surprised to see this lasting a further twenty+ years. The aromas are majestic with a little aeration - pen ink, rich black fruits, lead pencil shavings and spice box. I love the mouthfeel – silky tannins, voluptuous texture and rare opulence not found at this price level. There is clearly a purity with this wine which is impossible not to admire. Let me be clear – There is nothing OTT about this wine as its presence and complexity outshines many a Bordeaux Pauillac. This is an utterly magnificent, towering masterpiece and firmly sits in my ‘top 10’ best value wines of 2017. Decant for 2-3 hours and enjoy nirvana”
The blend 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5% Malbec, 10.5% Merlot,
5.5% Cabernet Franc and 4.5% Petit Verdot
96+ Points Stuart McCloskey
100 Points for extraordinary value.
2016 Rhone En-Primeur Offer: Domaine de la Janasse
Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieilles Vignes 98-100 Points & Cuvée Chaupin 97-100 points
“I find it difficult to understand why that should be given the spectacular quality that has emerged from DuMOL for over a decade” Robert Parker
The 2014’s have received enormous scores (97-99 for their ‘Finn’ Pinot Noir) and they have finally arrived in the UK
• Saturday 9 December: 10:00 – 4:00
• Saturday 16 December: 9:00 – 5:00
• Monday 18 to Thursday 21: 9:00 – 5:00
• Special Late Night Opening: Friday 22: 9:00– 8:00
• Saturday 23 9:00 – 6:00 (Nibbles, mince pies, Champagne
and 1928 Maury will be served throughout the day)