This fabulous patchwork quilt that is Burgundy’s unique landscape.

 

What better way to beat off January blues than with a trip to the historic and renowned wine making region of Burgundy? Last month I was fortunate enough to accompany Jack Scott and Buyer Alastair Pyatt on a buying trip there. Having never been before and with Pinot Noir being an absolute favourite of mine, I could not have been more excited to visit the place where the finest examples of this challenging and delicious grape variety are produced.

Nads & Jacko at lunch

Nads & Jacko at lunch

From my studies and textbooks, I am familiar with the status and reputation that surrounds much of French wines and their strict classé hierarchy. Bordeaux’s reputation in particular is always loomingly omnipresent. Yet whilst being aware of this imposingly renowned region famed for its immaculately groomed vineyards and impressive châteaux, I felt I knew remarkably less about Burgundy’s hidden secrets and this was the perfect opportunity to discover them.

In comparison to its much praised and celebrated neighbour, the region of Burgundy lies in complete contrast; 20km south of Dijon the story takes a different turn – and it is a remarkably pleasant one at that.

Ally & Jack at Bachey Legros

Ally & Jack at Bachey Legros

As we amble along in our rental car, winding across the ‘Rue de Grand Crus’, there is such an atmosphere of tranquility and simplicity that it is easy to forget (probably from sheer post-Beef Bourguignon/ Pinot Noir stupor) that some of the most opulent and refined wines originate from here. Indeed, this region is one of the world’s most prominent and idiosyncratic. With over 600 vineyards across 100 appellations it struck me that this was going to be a daunting region to explore, and with road signs whizzing past dictating that we were no longer in ‘Meursault’ but had crossed over a path into ‘Puligny Montrachet’, my dizzy head (again, most likely wine induced) could not keep up and I felt I would never get to grips with the landscape.

Jacko & Nads with Phillipe Chavy

Jacko & Nads with Phillipe Chavy

It is, however, precisely the nuances of land and terroir that are quintessential to understanding Burgundy. The wine’s classifications are geographically driven (unlike those of Bordeaux for example which are producer-centric) and so it really is down to the very intricacies of soils, slopes and streets that dictate the outcome of a wine. It is both the physical and metaphorical foundation on which quality, price, and status, will all be determined. Call me romantic, but it was this realisation that suddenly transformed the landscape in my mind, from the understated to the symbolic. Vineyards with their rows of naked winter vines, a stony pathway separating two famed appellations, the figures of French folk wrapped up in woolly hats, hunched over pruning the shoots and sending wisps of smoke rising into the air.  The soils of this wintry landscape are something special ; in fact they are so revered that, apparently, Napoleon ordered his troops to salute the steep slopes of the ‘Grands Cru’ vineyards when they were marching past.

Jack & Ally cask samples at Franciose Andre

Jack & Ally cask samples at Franciose Andre

Of course the land is not the sole player, and the producers here write their own unique history too. If Bordeaux is sharp suits, chateaux, and negociants, then Burgundy is muddy boots, petit maisons, and truffle hounds. As we pull up to each ‘Domaine’, it is with curiosity and amaze that I wander practically through the front door of people’s houses before being led into spectacular cellars that appear to have been hidden there for years. Each producer has their own unique heritage and philosophy, and this is intrinsically linked with the way they produce wine. At Bachey-Legros, we are entertained by the two sons who make up the sixth generation of wine makers (Maman still sits in with us though, keeping an eye). Keeping it in the family at Françiose André, the production is overseen by Lauriane who is the daughter-in-law of the original owners. Each Domaine has quaint hidden cellars full of red wine stained wooden barrels, and the cold, musty smells of history in the making. At Domaine Gerard Seguin for example, we learn that its founder, Alex Seguin in 1850, was a Burgundian pioneer in the fight against Phylloxera – he was one of the first winemakers to graft vines onto American rootstock in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. One room in their cellar even housed cobweb entangled bottles over 100 years old, or so I was told (or so my amateur level French led me to understand).

Few wines impress like the best of Bordeaux, but for me the finest Burgundies evoke a more emotional response. From starting the day with a Meursault 1er Cru at Domaine Patriarche, to finishing a fantastic few days tasting with the outstandingly out-of-this-world wines of Lignier Michelot (his Morey-Saint-Denis practically had Jacko in tears), we had a wonderful trip and met some amazing people. Like an intricately woven tapestry, each appellation revealed its own story, history, and delicate wines, to make up this fabulous patchwork quilt that is Burgundy’s unique landscape.

By Nadia Williamson

Just looking through back issues of the Drinks Business and found this….

DB Awards - Jascots On-Trade Wine Merchant of the Year

Are we really facing a global wine shortage?

Now that the dust has settled and everyone has had their say, it’s time to have a look at the truth behind speculation of a global wine shortage, which some say is just around the corner.

The original report by Morgan Stanley analysts Tom Kierath and Crystal Wang points out that global wine consumption is currently around 3bn cases per year, while at the same time, the planet’s one million producers churn out around 2.8bn cases every 12 months. The report goes on to say that production in Europe has been steadily decreasing and, at the time of writing, stands 25% down from the 2004 high. Conversely, production from new world countries including the United States, Australia, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand is on the rise.

It’s hard to argue with numbers, particularly from the guys at Morgan Stanley, but what does the wine industry say? The International Organisation for Vine & Wine says the fears are exaggerated, and that the squeeze on supply is expected to ease in 2013 with production levels returning to that of 2006 at 281 million hectolitres, which at 9 litres a case, works out to 3.12bn cases.

Two conflicting views then, so a little further digging is required. It’s true, 2012 was a poor year all round weather-wise meaning production levels were in decline, and this drop happened to coincide with the US and China drinking more wine between them than ever before. We’re also coming to the end of a period of historic over-supply, which led to vine pull schemes in place all over Europe in an effort to reduce the EU wine lake.

So yes, 2012 production levels were down, but 2013 is expected to result in production levels returning to their highest level since 2006 (producers I spoke to at the World Bulk Wine Exhibition last week all reported excellent harvests over the past few months) and with most cellars around the world stocked well enough to see us through any short-term gap in supply, there doesn’t seem to be any great need for worry here in the UK – we’re the most mature wine market in the world, and, in contrast to the US and China, our consumption is actually in slight decline, meaning supply and demand will remain in a state of relative equilibrium while production recovers, so there’s no need to panic…go ahead and grab the corkscrew.

Specialist Wines Restaurants and Hotels

 

Surely a great wine is a great wine no matter whether you drink it at home or in a restaurant? Yes, of course but there are some aspects that are more important to our on-trade (restaurants, hotels, bars etc.) customers than they would be to a retailer:

  • NOT IN SUPERMARKETS!

Our restaurant customers do not want to buy wines that are available at low margins in high street shops. Restaurants have far higher overheads and need to charge more.

  •  Taste?!

To explain: whereas many retailers will sell most of their wine without the customer trying it first our restaurant customers rightly taste more or less every wine before they will list it. Our wines have to be delicious or we would never sell a bottle!!

  • Appearance.

Our wines need to look great. We work very hard with our growers to ensure that their wine is labelled and packaged really smartly – so that its appearance represents its style and quality and so that we can be sure that the bottle will look great on our clients’ tables.

  • Provenance and “The Story”

Our on-trade clients are generally great enthusiasts both for great food ingredients and also for great wines. They like to know the story behind their products and they like to share it with their guests. Our wines come from such a diverse bunch of people, what they all share is a commitment to quality and a genuine passion for their product. They love to meet our customers and share their stories.

  • The Commercial Bit – Margin Potential

Last but certainly not least is the potential margin that is inherent in a wine. Cheap is no good, remarkable value is what our customers are after. If possible they would like to be able to sell their wine for more than 3 times the price they buy it, so when we are choosing our wines we don’t look at our cost price, we do the sums and ask ourselves “would I be surprised and delighted to have bought this in a restaurant for £x?”. If the answer isn’t a resounding yes then the wine is not one for us.

“Recruiting & Retaining the Best” – Alistair McClelland

 

Jascots Team

Jascots Team

I knocked on the door to get my first paid bar job in Oxford at the age of 18.  That was comparatively easy.  Since then I have had nothing but rigorous interviews all the way including sitting in front of a board of six contract catering directors at helicopter height at a big London city law firm. They are diligent at Jascots too.  The selection process at Jascots involved three separate meetings with my current managing & sales directors with large pictures of Nelson on one side and Churchill on the other.

Having personally recruited in the past within the catering and hospitality industry I am only but aware of the time and hard work this involves.  That industry is notorious for high staff turnover rates and it can be hard to retain and recruit the staff you require.  Like Jascots, I mainly used the web and its various recruitment sites. I certainly don’t miss trawling through hundreds of curriculum vitae’s; for the meantime anyway! It’s amazing how so many people get just the simplest things so wrong when applying for the right job, not great taking into consideration the current climate. At Jascots you have done very well to get to the first interview stage!

The great thing about Jascots being a small growing company is that it has a clear understanding of the correct recruitment and induction processes ensuring that everyone in the company is utilised correctly and efficiently to manage their strengths and goals. It seems that many companies lose values as they grow resulting in bad recruitment decisions but this certainly isn’t the case at this on the ball wine merchant.

Jascots acknowledged my transferable skills and adapted me carefully into the dynamic sales team. As soon as you start your career at Jascots you become instantly aware of the professionalism; we all stick to clear guidelines set up in our mission and value statements. Unlike other wine companies we all visit the office and warehouse daily to ensure timely communication which I believe is integral to the company’s on-going success.  One of the first things you do as a new recruit is read the current business plan which is available to view whenever you want, like the mission and values it is posted on the wall in the office!

Jascots recruits and retains the best team in the industry that constantly love what they do and work hard at it!!

Christmas Wines

Christmas Wines by Raul Diaz – Jascots’ Training Manager & Head Sommelier

Turkey and Chateau de Saint Cosme

Turkey and Chateau de Saint Cosme

We are getting closer to December and the Christmas season is around the corner. When we are thinking about all the delicious food and fantastic dishes with exciting ingredients that we will create sometimes we leave the wine selection towards the end. After all this effort sometimes we are tired with all the preparations that we think that the wine is not so important. I think that this is a very dangerous thought. If we choose the right wine to match with the food we will be able to show our best gastronomic skills with our friends and family, with our work colleagues, with clients, or in any other context.  Let’s check which wines we can select according which type of food we will prepare or have.

To start any Christmas celebration, Champagne Non-Vintage (NV) or Vintage, or a high quality sparkling wine like Cava will do very well. If you have some canapés in mind, a very light and refreshing fizzy drink will match perfectly. Actually, a glass of fizz for the chef and the guests could be an excellent way to start the cooking process. Champagne Blanc de blanc, made only with Chardonnay grape will be more refreshing and full of citrus fruits. If you choose a Champagne Blanc de Noir, made only with Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes will have more red fruits character. Both Champagnes will have an elegant body and notes of biscuits alongside the fruit character.

Chestnuts and sprouts - essential Christmas

Chestnuts and sprouts - essential Christmas

There are so many wines in the world and so many different personal preferences to match with different food. I would love to give some help with the wine selection. When you choose which type of food is your favourite you will need to check the body of the main component, the level of acidity, the presence of spices and also the cooking method. This sounds quite complicated but it is quite easy. Light, medium or full body foods will have to go similar wines in terms of structure.

I hope that you will enjoy this great time of the year with delicious food and superb wines!

Here is small table of Food and wine matching for Christmas:

STARTERS

Smoked Salmon

Chardonnays from Burgundy like Chablis

Prawns

Puligny_Montrachet

Other rich shellfish

Light bodied Chardonnay from the New World

Oysters

Champagne

Rich Pate

Riesling, Alsace Pinot Gris

Foie Gras

Sauternes, Tokaji

MAIN COURSES

Turkey

Full bodied Chardonnay

Red Rioja and Red Bordeaux

Red Rhone

Duck

Red Burgundy, German Riesling Spatlese

Roast Beef

Red Bordeaux, Zinfandel,

Cabernet Sauvignon from the New World

Venison

Barolo or Barbaresco

PUDDINGS

Christmas pudding

Tawny Port, Madeira, Sherry Oloroso or PX

Fruity pudding

German Rieslings Spatlese, Auslese, TBA

Chocolate

Aged Tawny Port, Muscat

Tarte Tatin

Sauternes, Tokaji

CHEESES

Goat

Sauvignon Blanc like Sancerre

Soft

White Burgundy

(Brie, Camembert)

Stilton

Vintage port, Sauternes, Tokaji

Search for the hero inside yourself….

Chablis Louis Robin

Chablis Louis Robin

Choosing Wine to Compliment your Food Menu – Miles says how it is

Jascots Matchmaking – Pumpkin soup and Maison de la Paix Marsanne Viognier – Perfect.

Jolly Olly does it Again!