Jascots’ Christmas & New Year Deliveries 2014

xmas

Autumn Trade & Press Tasting 2014

Trade Tasting

Leading figures in the London hospitality industry flocked to our Autumn/ Winter Trade & Press Tasting to sample a selection of the portfolio – including scores of new vintages, some improved blends, and 16 brand new wines.

As well as fine tuning ranges for the festive season, there was also a sneak preview of our latest new world concept wine – the Spinnaker, which we hope to launch in January.

The Spinnaker is a great example of our relentless focus on the on-trade – developing an exclusive wine to sit at the top of wine lists and deliver great quality, incremental profit and improved surety of supply.  In fact, 95% of the wines we displayed are exclusive to Jascots within the London on-trade.

TT2

Other highlights on the day included Riedel glassware master classes and a tutored tasting with Alessandra from Bedin, our exclusive Prosecco supplier.  We were also pleased to welcome representatives from key on-trade publications including James Stagg – the Caterer, Jamie Coles – Harpers and Fiona Beckett from matchingfoodandwine.com.

Trade Tasting CompilationTrade Tasting Compilation 2

We’re currently working hard on an even bigger and better event in the new year that will help our clients transform their wine offerings – more on this soon!

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Going Back To Your Roots

The eating out sector has changed dramatically in recent years, casual dining has grown its share of the market and formal full-service dining has had a hard time keeping up. At Jascots we have a strong client base of casual dining outlets and to ensure we are spearheading this new trend, we act as the sommelier to those restaurants who do not have their own.

What we have witnessed in the market in recent years is a dining devolution; stripped bare, the bells and whistles of fine dining have been replaced with the back to basics approach of the casual restaurant scene. Out with white table cloths and in with chunky wooden counters, exposed brick walls and naked light bulbs dangling above your head.

Stipped back & rustic.

What’s most interesting about this trend shift towards informality is that, despite the disappearance of the maitre d’, the standards and service levels demanded are higher than ever. The recession may have spoilt our taste for ostentation, but not for experience. As consumer confidence is re-built, in the current market the focus must be on good value and this is exactly what the casual dining sector is providing.

Clipboard style wine list.

Simple & short, creative wine lists.

It is about prioritising the things that matter. Within the food-centric casual dining scene, consumers will accept no compromise on quality of ingredients, and authenticity is essential. The popularity of transparency even translates to the open grill kitchens and rotisserie counters where you can see exactly where and how your food being cooked. It is just as important that the wine choice reflects this authenticity as consumers are preferring wines sourced on quality not reputation. Provenance and value are key and big brands are out – at Jascots we buy on quality not reputation, if a wine is not a ‘hero’ then it stays off our list. When it comes to presentation, long and pretentious notes for wine are obsolete – wine is for everyone, not just for poets! Descriptions should be relevant and accessible to the customer to entice them to make a more adventurous choice. We don’t believe in flowery tasting notes – just simple and fun. This also goes for the wine menu itself – simplicity, quality and commerciality are the focus. Shorter lists are more concise and less daunting for the casual dining customer, and a wide ‘by the glass’ offering is an important introduction of your wine selection. These wines should give the consumer more choice by featuring ‘old favourites’ as well as something a bit different for those who like to experiment.

With the disappearance of the sommelier in casual dining, prioritisation of service and experience is more important than ever for every quality outlet. Guests expect their server to know the wine list just as well as they know the food menu, and be ready to advise on what goes well with what. An important aspect of this is food and wine matching – giving the customer a recommendation and the chance to choose the right wine, not just the house wine, enhances their confidence, satisfaction and overall experience. Jascots believe that staff training is at the beating heart of the hospitality industry and so provide the sommelier service precisely for this style of casual dining outlet. Our industry leading training course has been created and is taught by ex-Michelin sommelier Raul Diaz, and emphasises relevant, practical training that will improve service skills and product knowledge. Successful operators are investing heavily in wine training and are setting the new standards for this style of dining.

It’s fast paced, innovative, and unstoppable. With the overall trend on quality of product and service, and the exclusivity of experience, the casual dining trend is getting diners more interested in food and wine and the occasion of eating out. This refreshing ‘back to your roots’ approach is certainly a revolution we are encouraging.

The Caterer recently published an article on the subject: “Fancy-Free”. Click here to read it in full.

Chilean Charm Offensive

Last month, Chilean producer Concha y Toro hosted a blind tasting discussion with key members drawn from across the UK trade in a bid to understand how to crack that elusive +£10 wine barrier. Why is it that beyond the £10 mark, Chile’s on-shelf representation suffers a dramatic decline? And how can it alter such a situation? These were among the questions that the panel tried to find clues and answers to.

The Panel get tasting

Jascots’ buyer Alastair Pyatt was on the panel and particularly highlighted issues affecting the on-trade. Speaking from a buyer’s perspective, Ally explains how branding can be improved with wine personalities which represent a necessary step to build a greater share at higher price points. The knowledge that there is a personality behind the wine not only reassures the consumer but, as Ally pointed out,  “If waiting staff are trying to up-sell and you can say something about the winemaker, it really helps”.

Importantly, the great value that Chile represents is also discussed – particularly in relation to the pub sector’s house wine options. Chile’s success below £10 is essential to remember, the crux of which is nicely demonstrated by one buyer’s quote that “When we sell to pubs, the house Sauvignon Blanc is always Chilean, and we sell pallets of it”.

Overall, it seems today’s trends are benefitting this single country in particular as consumers are looking for value, and that is Chile’s great strength.

You can view the full article from The Drink’s Business here.

 

 

Blind tasting old favourites.

For how many years have I stood in the middle of our Jascots Wine Championships and been amazed at the extent of many competitors knowledge and tasting ability whilst also being surprised that some less experienced participants reckon that Chablis or Sancerre are grape varieties.

Winners at a Championship

But, the other night at our Promotional Wine Championship I was on the receiving end of it. As my esteemed colleague Ben Scott took the helm, and I had the rare but joyous moment to sit along for the ride and become a participant, it revealed one or two gaps in my knowledge!

It was particularly White #3 which unstuck me. Was it the gloriously elegant and exquisitely balanced Pouilly~Fuissé ‘Aux

Bellvale Chardonnay, Australia

Bouthieres’ 2010 by Domaine de la Chapelle? Nope, too rich and too powerful. Our new US Chardy? No, not the right flavours for America. Puligny~Montrachet by Jean-Louis Chavy? Nope, too mature for the 2011.

The fabulous top Burgundy lookalike, Bellvale (Aussie) Chardonnay? Hhhhmmmm, possibly.

BUT, oh what humiliation to find that it was indeed the exquisitely fine 2010 Pouilly~Fuissé ‘Aux Bouthieres’ 2010. It had either been pumping iron in the gym or had transformed into one big old Burgundy. Gold in colour with an immediately identifiable ‘classy Chardonnay’ nose.

The Masquerader - Pouilly Fuissé 'Aux Bouthieres'

On the palate, this once very fine, slightly feminine wine had filled out it’s luscious flavours considerably! It has become an immensely impressive white Burg, so much so that I had been tempted to put down Puligny as this smashing single vineyard Pouilly~ Fuissé, that pre-war held the rank of Premier Cru, was a much bigger beast that I had ever remembered trying.

Rich, very full-bodied and flavoured with a texture to match and wave-upon-wave of unctuous, ripe, rich and nicely oaked Chardonnay washed over the palate with a depth of complexity and weight more akin to Puligny Premier Cru Les Combettes….and from a very good year. It’s lovely linear acidity ran through the taste profile from start to finish and I am totally impressed by this tremendous wine.

At a little over £20 a bottle, it offers immense value and offers heavy-weight power and class at an unusually affordable price.

If you read this, snap it up!

Quizzical

A Gastronomic Dinner

Last night was a night to remember for a very long time.

Three great chums and I met at 7pm at “The Don” in St Swithin’s Lane in The City for a truly gastronomic dinner and, my-o-my, big kudos to the Chef at this terrific restaurant as he really pushed the boat out. Tucked away in one of those funny little corners that one could so easily stroll by for a decade and never discover, small and Dickensian, in The City in which The Sandeman Family used to trade their ports and, no doubt, the good and the great of The Square Mile would meet for a bottle or two of ‘Porter’ before a Cock Fight or Boxing Bout or something riveting like that.

The Don RestaurantProceedings were kicked off with a bottle of Laurant-Perrier’s Ultra Brut which, despite its zero dosage, was delightfully refreshing after 30 minutes in the tube and bone dry but not at all spikey…one for the weight conscious?

A little slab of Foie Gras with some very finely chopped apple and a rather lovely sauce was the amuse bouche to launch into dinner which we hugely enjoyed with a bottle of Jean-Marc Pillot’s Puligny-Montrachet ‘Les Noyers Bret’ 2011. This lieu dit is just above and beside the Village of Puligny on the road up to the wonderful ‘Rue Rousseau’ (do you remember Philippe Chavy’s 2009?!) which, as you know, is immediately below Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet but our wine was entirely different from Les Grands Crus. It is straw in colour and has a sensational citrusy nose than carries onto the palette….think confit of lemon on the nose and some very limey and citrus notes in the flavour profile, clean, refreshing, crisp and yet luscious and lively and the perfect white to get us going and then to accompany Scotch Quail’s Egg with a very  light tempura coating, shavings of truffle and a subtle tarragon sauce. Heaven.

Down went the Puligny and M. Alain Morice, GM, our Master Sommelier and all-time great guy decanted and elegantly served the much more golden Chevalier~Montrachet Grand Cru 2006 by Christophe Cordier. Now this was a serious wine. Almost old bronze in colour and with notes of toffee, caramel and truffle, the wine’s texture was sensational and the secondary flavours so luxuriant and serious. Out came our man with a Turbot which came off the bone and was elegantly plated with those little orange mushrooms, a white sauce with caviar dolloped here and there. Oh my, what a dish and what a wine.

How marvellous that here is an eatery that takes its wines as seriously as its food and our Riedel oaked-Chardonnay glasses were exchanged for The Red Burgundy glass and Alain poured out the last bottle of our Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru ‘Lavaux St Jacques’ 2009 by Gerard Seguin. Maybe I was showing off as his ‘Les Crais’, ‘La Justice’ and Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes are all showing so beautifully and, as we tasted, I felt that the Lavaux St Jacques was a little tight and introverted with fresh acidity and a little tightness in the tannins…until the Boeuf Bourguignon arrived and the marriage was made. The rich cherry fruits of the wines cleaned and refreshed while the ‘reduction’ and beef laid it on and I had visions of Mr. Bumble enjoying a similar feast 175 years ago. The chatter got lively, England is ahead and it was all so scrummy.

Now for the ‘Piece de Resistance’. The Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2008 by our most illustrious producer, Lignier-Michelot.

Jack drinking Lignier MichelotNapoleon wrote ~ “Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertinand I think we would all wholeheartedly agree with that. The wine of today is rather more concentrated and dense than 200 years ago and a much finer drop…the colour is deep red and you can see the velvety texture as it swirled around the glass. The wine has developed no secondary flavours as yet but the primary fruits were all there with dark plum, rich black cherry and so much flesh and texture to enjoy…and out came a Cheese Board the size of a Boeing wing and we took instruction on what would and what would not work with the wine. We all obeyed and the combination of so many delighted cheeses and our Chambertin was simply spectacular.

As if we hadn’t had enough, Chef then produced a Mango Eton Mess that cleaned, refreshed and revitalised and Alain produced a 2005 5 Puttonyos Tokaji that was just so perfect to accompany the Pud.

At the end of the evening, 2 thoughts occurred to me. Firstly, we just have to do this more often ~ what a joy it was to enjoy such fabulous wines and delicious food with great chums…so life enhancing.

Secondly, in the Spring I declined a pudding from a lovely Polish waitress and said that I was getting trim for the beach in the summer. She looked me up and down and informed me that if she saw me on a beach she would push me back into the sea.

After last nights dinner, she may well have a point so thank goodness for the Ultra Brut.

Jascots is walking the talk.

 

Again

A Bordeaux-Love Affair

At 6.30am I arrived at Gatwick rather bleary eyed where I met Jascot’s Alastair ‘Little Mac’ McClelland sitting over a coffee and croissant. As neither of us had visited a French Chateau or vineyard before, our conversation was limited to ‘so…what are you expecting?’

After meeting up with the rest of the group – a friendly and lively mix of guys and gals in the wine trade – we trundled off through the back streets of Bordeaux, parked up in the central square and made our way to the prestigious L’Ecole du Vin (Bordeaux Wine School). After an hours speedy catch up on the Bordeaux-Basics,we were ready for our first tasting.

Bordeaux dinner

Around the table at Chateau Puygueraud.

To my utter joy and delight, I quickly discovered we weren’t just having a tasting but would be sampling about 15 wines over a four course lunch! Pure heaven. And this was our first introduction to Bordeaux white grapes; I have up to now only been particularly familiar with Bordeaux red, so this was a real education, and since that introductory tasting, Bordeaux whites have found a special place in my heart.

The main grapes used in this area of France for white wine are the zesty, fresh, acidic and floral Sauvignon Blanc combined in various quantities with the fleshy, fruitier and fuller Semillon, that is also used to make their world-renowned sweet wine (I was very quickly corrected for calling it dessert wine…). Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle also play a small but distinctive role. A particular favourite of mine was a Sauvignon Blanc (40%) and Gris (40%), and Semillon (20%); it was so fresh and fruity with a lovely long finish that you were satisfied from first smell to long after it has slid down your throat.

Foot-long steak from Jan’s uncle’s farm cooking over the fire.

We travelled down to the AOC Cotes des Bordeaux and ended our day at the stunning Chateau Puygueraud. Jan Thienpont, who owned the vineyard with his brother, talked us through the transformation from agricultural land to vineyard and winery; his uncle still owned a small farm and orchard interwoven between vines. They grow their own grapes, but also use those of their neighbours to make their wine; coming from London where everything is signed in blood and reviewed by lawyers down to the last dotted ‘i’, I was surprised to discover that their agreements were based purely on a hand shake. Jan’s philosophy to winemaking (grow grapes sustainably, help thy neighbour’s business as well as your own, and produce wine that everyone can enjoy) really inspired me. With our white asparagus, foot-long steak cooked over his fire and enormous bowl of wild strawberries all produced within a 5k radius, we had a selection of wines ranging from the traditional Bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon to the lesser known Petit Verdot and a 100% Muscadelle. What a treat to have such a range of fantastic wines laid out around the kitchen table.

St Emilion

St Emilion

The next day, I was especially excited to jump on the bus (water in hand) as we were off to the legendary region of St Emilion! As a personal favourite of mine, I was full of anticipation and our first stop to Chateau Clos du Prince did not disappoint. Their estate is just 3Ha, and owned by 24 year old Nicolas Prince. Given his age and the tiny size of the estate, I was intrigued to taste their wines. Would they be a bit ‘experimental’, would the size of the estate impact on their quality…? We tasted a vertical of 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011, all made in the same way with the same percentage of grapes (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc) and as with many vertical tastings, what stood out were the differences in character throughout the vintages.

You often hear ‘this was a great year’ but what does that really mean? Well, how the acidity, tannins, alcohol and fruit are balanced is a good indication, and for me the 2004 and 2010 were simply sublime. I felt like I was defying ‘wine-law’ by not falling in love with 2009 but I strongly believe wine, like food or art, is subjective. There isn’t always a right or wrong, good or bad, just individual taste.

Bordeaux tasting

Vertical tasting at Chateau Clos du Prince with their vineyards in the background.

Our final stop was to Pessac-Leognan, Chateau Bouscaut, one of just 6 estates classified Grand Cru Classée for both white and red wine. The previous owner of the estate, Monsieur Lurton, bought 10 estates in Bordeaux, and conveniently had 10 children! The Semillon vines were over 100 years old, and they aged both the Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc in oak, which created a smooth richness that is not so common on the UK market.

The whole trip was a whirlwind of extraordinary food, beautiful scenery, and amazingly hospitable people against a backdrop of some of the most outstanding wines I may ever taste. Although Bordeaux is renowned for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc, I have fallen hard for Bordeaux white wines. So go ahead, give them a go and I hope you will harvest the same love affair that I have.

Fresh, fruity, fizzy and great value – must be Prosecco…

 

So, Summer is here and that means it’s time to crack open a bottle or two of Prosecco. Forget the stale comparisons with Champagne, Prosecco is made in an entirely different way – different grapes, cool fermentation and no secondary bottle fermentation. The emphasis here is on fresh, clean flavours and delicious, honest fruit character. It’s versatile, too – try our range by Enrico Bedin from the Colli (‘hills’ to you and me) Asolani, near the town of Asolo in the Veneto and you’ll understand just how fabulous this fizz can be.

Vineyards at Enrico Bedin

Vineyards at Enrico Bedin

Enrico and his team make four different wines – the light, ever so delicately effervescent Frizzante kicks us off, before we move up a bar of pressure to the Spumante, next is the rich textured Millesimato Superiore 2012, and the ‘David’ Spumante Rosato completes the set.

So what’s the difference? To cut a long story short, Frizzante, at 2.5 bars pressure, is semi-sparkling, while Spumante, at 3.5 bars is fully sparkling. That’s it. Both are similar in character – fresh green apples and pear, with just a touch of residual sugar to round off the finish (they’re both essentially dry wines though, I promise…).

The Millesimato Superiore 2012 is Bedin’s vintage offering. Made from 85% Glera (the grape variety formerly known as Prosecco), with the remaining 15% made up by the aromatic and indigenous Boschera, Bianchetto and Perera varieties which add a touch of character – it’s aged three times longer than its junior counterparts too, giving it just a tad more richness.

Glera grapes that make Prosecco

Glera grapes that make Prosecco

Finally, Enrico’s party trick is his ‘David’ Spumante Rosato ­– you won’t find the word ‘Prosecco’ anywhere on the label as Prosecco, by law, has to contain the Glera grape variety, and this delicious little crowd pleaser is, wait for it, 100% Merlot. It’s pretty, delicate and just bursting with strawberry and candyfloss flavours and looks the part as well.

Cheers to that!

Cheers to that!

Società Agricola Colli Asolani has been making wine in the hills of the Veneto since the turn of the century. Set up by Giovanni Bedin in 1900, it has always been a family concern, and today is still run by Giovanni’s great-grandson Enrico and his three brothers – Luigi, Denis and Damiano. Between them, they have modernised the winery and brought the perfect combination of cutting edge technology together with decades of winemaking experience. All the wines are terrific value – delicious, fresh and made to be drunk now (none of this ‘waiting for the optimum drinking window’ nonsense). When the sun is up, put your shorts on, get into the garden and chill out with a bottle – at a low 11%ABV you might even risk a second one…..

View our Prosecco range here – http://www.jascots.co.uk/advancedsearch/

Jascots – Green Retailer of The Year 2014

Jascots would like to say a big thank you to all our customers for their support in helping Jascots win the Green Retailer of the Year at yesterday’s Drinks Business Awards 2014.

The award was made to the retailer who could best demonstrate how business practices have had a direct impact on improving their and their suppliers’ environmental credentials within the area of drinks retailing.

The commendation read:  “the judges described Jascots operation as “walking the talk” when it comes to waste and energy use, recently adding carbon certification to its list of environmental measures.”

http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2014/04/green-awards-2014-the-winners-revealed/