A Passion for Wine Autumn 2018 Vol. 3
When we planted the Lympstone Manor vineyard in May, we could not have hoped for a better summer to help the 17,500 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier vines to establish themselves. The warmth and dry weather, says James Matyear, our Vineyard Manager, have provided the perfect conditions for this first year of growth and herald well for the future prospects of growing grapes and making wine here on our sloping parkland above the Exe estuary. Find out more from James in his Vineyard Notes below.
Steve Edwards, meanwhile, turns his attention to a very exciting development here at Lympstone Manor, our months of Burgundy (October) and Bordeaux (November). This is a fabulous opportunity for us to delve into our 600-bin cellar to unearth and share with you some very special wines in some cases from both great properties as well as outstanding and mature vintages. For me, great food is never complete without the perfect pairing of wine to accompany it. I will be creating special tasting menus for our showcase Burgundy (October 10) and Bordeaux (November 1) wine dinners with dishes paired with some truly special, rare and extraordinary wines. Steve Edwards explains everything in his Wine Talk feature below, together with full tasting notes for the special wines that we will be showcasing.
Finally, Marko Mägi, our inspirational Head Sommelier, continues our theme of Burgundy and Bordeaux, explains why he finds each region so special and inspiring, and shares tasting notes for the wines that will be available by the glass or bottle during our months of wine in October and November.
Michael Caines, chef/patron
Wine Talk – Our months of Burgundy and Bordeaux at Lympstone Manor by Steve Edwards
To start the Autumn months this year we are delighted to celebrate two of the most recognised and respected of all wine regions, Burgundy and Bordeaux. We will be offering very special and highly sought after wines by the glass during October for Burgundy and November for Bordeaux. In addition, we are hosting a fabulous wine dinner each month (Wednesday October 10th for Burgundy and Thursday November 1st for Bordeaux) in which we will select a range of very special wines that are not only of outstanding quality but also fairly representative of each region and which of course match perfectly with Michael’s cuisine.
Burgundy and Bordeaux could not be more different not only in terms of wine but also in their sense of place. In spite of the reputation and expense of its greatest wines, Burgundy can seem almost rustic, with its scores of small growers’ houses and caves dotted all along the evocative Route des Grands Crus. These quiet wine villages in eastern France are a striking contrast to the grand, whitewashed châteaux of Bordeaux’s Médoc, Graves and St-Emilion, all surrounded by their own perfectly manicured vineyards.
Burgundy is the source of benchmark wines produced from two of the world’s most iconic grape varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Bordeaux produces outstanding dry and lusciously sweet whites (from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle) and reds (usually blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot).
Click the links below for my background notes about each region, as well as tasting notes for the very special wines that we will be serving at the Burgundy and Bordeaux wine dinners.
Throughout October and November, we will have on offer a selection of Burgundy and Bordeaux wines available by the glass from our Wine Emotion dispense system which keeps open bottles in perfect condition. See our Head Sommelier Marko Mägi’s tasting notes for these wines below.
The Vineyard with James Matyear
The summer of 2018 has so far been that of near perfect conditions. Despite the concerns and delays to planting due to heavy winter snows and a wet spring, we have benefitted from one of the longest and hottest summers for many years.
The vines have established well and are now reaching the tops of the foliage wires and beyond. Concerns as to whether it would be too dry have proven not to be the case. The vines have dug deep and obtained the moisture they so vitally need, especially when so young.
This year has been very much about letting the vines grow as much as they can, keeping the weeds down and monitoring for pests, disease and nutrient deficiencies. Tucking in any vines that require the support of the foliage wires is important in order to prevent damage, especially with the Meunier that tends not to support itself as well as the others.
As we edge towards the end of summer, established vineyards will be planning for what should be a bumper harvest, whilst for our first year vineyard, planning now takes place for the start of 2019. Nutrition and spray programs need to be planned, and pruners booked in order to begin pruning towards the end of January next year.
This has been a fantastic year for viticulture, and a promising start for our exciting new vineyard.
October — Month of Burgundy with an extensive selection of white and red Burgundy wines available by the glass (see tasting notes below)
November — Month of Bordeaux with an extensive selection of white, red and dessert Bordeaux wines available by the glass (see tasting notes below)
November 1 — Bordeaux wine dinner (tasting menu created by Michael and paired with a stunning selection of wines). This evening will be hosted by Rebecca Gergely.
December 18 — Christmas with Caines (tasting menu with dishes introduced by Michael and paired wines introduced by Steve Edwards)
Wine Notes by Marko Mägi, Head Sommelier
As a sommelier, I am a true fan of so many different wine regions and grape varieties, but at least for me, there have been two wine regions which have changed my life, Burgundy and Bordeaux. I will be forever grateful that as a sommelier I am in the fortunate position where I am able to open, taste, serve and recommend wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux by iconic producers and from great vintages on almost a daily basis. I am so excited to be able to share my passion for these two great wine regions during our Lympstone Manor months of Burgundy (October) and Bordeaux (November). Here is what I love about each of these fascinating – and very different – wine regions.
Burgundy is by far the most complicated wine region in the world and the difference is all in the details. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are grapes that are perfect mirrors of terroir and Burgundy is everything about terroir. It means that every single part of vineyard, every single producer, every single vintage makes a wine that is completely different in details and these details are more magnified than in any other region in the world. Let’s put it into context. An example would be a Grand Cru vineyard in Gevrey-Chambertin called Mazis-Chambertin which is actually smaller than our own Lympstone Manor vineyard with just 9.10ha. Yet this small parcel is owned by 18 different wine producers/négociants while some growers might choose to sell their grapes (or wine) to other producer/négociants, complicating things even more. Mazis-Chambertin has two different sub-parts and soil types adding to different styles of wine, and currently the common vintages on the market are from 1997 to 2016 — so that is at least 350 wines that are very different in those all-important ‘details’! This is just one tiny example, for Mazis-Chambertin represents less than 2% of the whole Gevrey-Chambertin production.
Here are a few examples of Burgundy wines that have been almost life-changing for me due to these ‘small details’ that come together to create the greatest wines. Before tasting the white Burgundies of Domaine Coche-Dury, I didn’t have a full understanding how expressive and intensely pure minerality can be in a wine. Before tasting Romanee-Conti 2006 Montrachet I couldn’t imagine that a white wine could taste so long, be so rich yet so balanced, be so ridiculously seductive. Before tasting Romanee-Conti Richebourg 2005 I couldn’t believe that a fresh style of red fruit could be so expressive on your palate that you can actually feel every possible shade of the colour red, almost as if for the first time in your life you are tasting wine in High Definition. Before tasting 1996 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux I couldn’t fully understand complexity, earthiness, concentration and how it feels to taste wine history in a glass.
Some producers, some vineyards, some vintages are more expressive in those ‘special details’ that make Burgundy such a unique and special wine. It is no surprise that demand for such wines has made Burgundy by far the most expensive wine region in the world at this moment. During our month of Burgundy, throughout October we will celebrate and showcase a range of truly great wines that we have been carefully tasting and selecting over the past year. I am sure that you will enjoy them!
November allows us to turn our attention to what many consider the greatest wine region in the world, Bordeaux. For me, no other region has given me greater appreciation of the importance of vintage. When you have the opportunity to sample a bottle of mature Bordeaux, a wine from a great producer which has been aged well, you will come to understand the emotion of greatness in a wine. You can read about or listen to other people talking about this great vintage or that, but the only way to really understand it is to live through this experience yourself. With our Bordeaux dinner, our guests will have this experience as we will be showcasing great wines from the 2015, 2010, 2005 and 1996 vintages.
For example, I am delighted that we are able to serve a truly great wine, the 1er cru classé (or First Growth) Château Haut-Brion 1996. For it was through tasting vintages of this wine that I came to an understanding of how wine evolves with age and the incredible longevity of great Bordeaux. I have been fortunate enough to be able to sample great vintages including 1982, 1961, 1945, 1929, 1928 and I understand now that great wine can outlive us all. As a sommelier, as a person, it humbles you.
Another example: for the entire month of November, we will be serving Château Filhot Sauternes 2010 which I consider one of the greatest historic wine properties in this area famous for its amazing dessert wines. Like the best red Bordeaux, great Sauternes similarly has the most remarkable ageing potential, with the balance and components that enable it to mature and evolve for over a hundred years. Yes, that’s right, the oldest wine in good condition that I have ever sampled is Chtâteau Filhot 1890 (that’s not a typo).
Lympstone Manor cuisine and great wine
With such an incredible selection of wines to be able to share with you, I can say too that working with Michael to create the food menus for our special Burgundy and Bordeaux wine dinners has been the most challenging (and the most fun) we ever had in our efforts to find the perfect food-and-wine pairings. Michael has the most amazingly precise palate and the challenge has been to create dishes in perfect harmony with wines so that each enhances the other with every dish crafted to match a specific rare and very special wine. I would also add that I have never seen flights of wines of this quality being served in any wine dinner. So these evenings will be rare and special treats for all of us!
Click on the bottles below to read our tasting notes for the Burgundy and Bordeaux wines that will be available by the glass and bottle throughout October and November.
About A Passion for Wine — This wine blog is conceived, written and edited by Steve Edwards, Operations Director at Lympstone Manor; Marko Mägi, Head Sommelier; James Matyear, Vineyard Manager; and Marc Millon, Editorial Director and wine, food and travel author.