LWF 2018 musings

Part 1…

Having attended the London Wine Fair on Tuesday, I thought the community here might be interested in a few observations and reports back on some of the wines I was fortunate to be able to taste. There were others I was less fortunate to taste, but we’ll forget about those :smiley:

There were a number that caught my eye as they related to current offers from TWS. For example:

Chateau Musar had a small presence off to one side of the main hall and presented the opportunity of a vertical tasting of several vintages. With the 2010 offer on my mind I was able to taste the 2011, 2010, 2009, 2003 and 1998. All are subtle variations on the tried and tested recipe of roughly equal proportions of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan but it was interesting to see the differences and effect of age. The younger ones tended to have a more obvious savoury olive/farmyard note that softened and became much more effectively integrated with bottle age. A great experience and what was immediately clear was that 1998 was my favourite – suggesting the 2010 on offer will really come into its own around 2030. Worth considering if tempted by the current stocks. By the way, it’s still on my wish list and I hope the stocks last a little longer….

Hatch Mansfield had a big showy sort of stand, smack bang in the middle of the floor and were showcasing many producers they represent (Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Villa Maria, Errazuriz and CVNE amongst several others).

It was the Louis Jadot Burgundies and CVNE Rioja’s that caught my eye.


Marsannay Clos du Roy 2011 (RRP £31.25) and Clos Vougeot Grand Cru (RRP £140) were both new to me. The CV GC was clearly better, but not sure nearly 5 times better, and both wines struck me as good but still in their infancy.


Perhaps more interesting from a current offer perspective were the Contino wines from CVNE. I tasted these two, having seen recommendations for the Garnacha and curious about the Reserva Rioja with the Contino 935 offer in mind….


Again, both good with the Reserva my preference over the Garnacha. Again, nothing to dissuade me from the Contino 935 offer!

I’ll add to this thread when I get more time. Needless to say, my quandary over where I spend my hard-earned on the current TWS offers remains.


Thanks for this lovely summary, @Alchemist! :+1: you were right when you said it’s like being a kid in a sweets shop…
Even for someone like myself, who doesn’t collect or invest long term, faced with so many wines I want to try and experience - it can all get a bit overwhelming at times… :grimacing:
Still, if these are our dilemmas, we must be doing ok :wink::wine_glass:


Part 2 - Champagne Supernova

I struggle with Champagne, in fact I’ve always struggled with Champagne. I just don’t get it - as a wine appreciator I could never rationalise the cost versus the wine that was in front of me. I typically found far better value in French regional Cremants or other European sparklers.

Then I read this book by Robert Walters and I understood that perhaps I was drinking the wrong Champagne.

Which bring me back to my LWF 2018 musings. One of the things I wanted to find was some of the independent grower/producer wines. Over the course of the day there were two clear highlights and one eye opening experience.

The two highlights were these…

A wine familiar to readers of the book I mention above. This is genuinely outstanding for the price of <£40; a 100% Chardonnay from Vertus, the flavour and complexity compared to the comparably priced big champagne houses’ wine is notable.

Secondly, I spent some time with a small independent vigneron called Jerome Groslambert from Champagne Francois Seconde and tasted several of his wines produced in Sillery.

Jerome is very much a one-man-band, but his wines are terrific…


Another new experience for me was tasting the Coteaux Champenois still wines he produces.

Contrasting all of this was the final tasting of the day; a walk up tasting to “Discover the Grand and Premier Cru Champagnes of Barons de Rothschild”. Here the story is an interesting example of building a brand new business and brand, investing very heavily in property, grapes, wine making capability, marketing, etc. yet the wines, almost without exception were disappointing. I nearly fell off my chair when I found out the last one we tasted (Vintage 2008) retailed at £280 a bottle.

I know now that there are Champagnes I would seek out again, and it’s worth the trouble to find and source them. Perhaps my struggle has evolved - just ask for Jerome.



This really strikes a chord with me! I try it, and try it - and Ok, it’s never the Crème we la Crème, cause I can’t afford it other than on special occasions - but even on occasions when I have invested, or had the luck of being offered a Grand Marque Champagne - I just don’t get the fuss! Is it philistine of me to admit it? I had English fizz, and Cremant - as well as NW fizz that wowed me. I just can’t comprehend how Champagne can command the price that it does - especially in cases when it just doesn’t excite. Sometimes it feels a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes case, and one mustn’t admit to not liking it…
Having said that, I’m glad to hear you discovered Champagne that works, and that moved you, @Alchemist! Perhaps I need to search further too… :+1::blush:

I’d really recommend you reading the Bursting Bubbles book. I felt exactly the same way as you and it was quite an eye opener for me to understand more about the Champagne industry from the perspectives of the Grand Marques. It certainly has changed my approach to Champagnes going forward, although it’s worth noting that the grower/producer bottles aren’t cheap either - but perhaps do get closer in value for money terms.

If you want to PM me an address I’d be happy to lend you my copy? We could start the Community’s own book club :smiley:


I really enjoyed this book too. Had no idea about the whole gadoues horror of the 70s/80s before I read it!

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I am reading the same book, it is eye opening


Gosh, yes! I read about the gadoues in Andrew Jefford’s fantastic book The New France. I found it so hard to believe, I had to re-read the paragraph, in case I totally misunderstood! :grimacing:

I love the New France… It may be my all-time favourite wine book.

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I think you’re right, and perhaps I should approach Champagne in a different way, via the growers route. It would be nice to be proven wrong! Or at least to have a good alternative (at the moment my alternatives are English fizz or Cremant).
Thanks for your kind offer to lend me the book, too! :blush: As so many of you sing its praises -I think I may invest in my own copy. I’m just finishing a book about the wines of Germany, so could do with a new read! Hopefully the book costs less than an average Grand Marque :wink:


I think I’m with you on that one. It wasn’t just the wines, the growers and the terrior - it was Andrew Jefford’s language that really melted me. Utterly poetic…

I have this too , excellent :+1:

Great comments here on champagne.

If you are worried that you haven’t “got” champagne, I wouldn’t worry. The mass-market marques are hype-driven as luxury goods, and most of the best champagnes need cellar-time to unfurl, another point made in the “Bursting Bubbles” book. In fact, you are probably demonstrating that you have a discerning palate! The good ones are out there (the Society offers some) but like Rioja, there are different styles.


How did I manage to miss LWF?? Ah, well, I shall have to drink vicariously, with thanks to WS Community

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I’ll also add my recomendation. It’s a very readable - and opinionated- book.

If you know little about Champagne you’ll learn a lot. For me it was the chapterns on the small grower makes that was most interesting.

But the author is balanced, he says that just because a grower makes his own wine it doesn’t mean its good or any better than the big houses who have the best equipment and best trained makers, and that not all big houses make poor wines.

BBC Food Programme took the book as inspiration for one of their episodes and talked to some of the growers feted in the book, and Robert Walters, author of Bursting Bubbles, appeared in the programe.

The episode can be dowlnloaded from here…

I remember listening to their visit to Krug and craving to drink a glass of it at that very moment; but I was listening to the podcast while driving up the A1 to Lincoln at the time…


A short Champagne story…

Back in the eighties we lived near Saffron Walden in Essex, our only neighbour was the MD of the family firm in agricultural equipment, a strange cove who would relax by mowing the 3 acres upon immediate arrival home from work and hire diggers to dig ponds and then fill them in again !

Sadly the couple were in the first stages of divorce, the wife became a life long friend of ours but as the relationship worsened she confided a little in us and one of the things she revealed was his increasing demands for the good things in life regardless of neccessity, the relevant item was she had to have ready his Champagne for when he arrived home from work, a half bottle every day of Perrier - Jouet Belle Epoque and on mowing days would consume as he mowed…the wife also confided that she hoped one day he would Champagne mower and all drive into one of the holes he had dug…happy days…


Book on its way from Amazon… Thanks again for recommending it! Looking forward to diving in :grinning:

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