Tasting Notes

BYO Podcast – Episode Four: Pinot Noir

12 December 2017 by Alex



Episode four of our monthly podcast focuses on the profound and capricious Pinot Noir grape. For the uninitiated, ‘Bring Your Own’ is a podcast and video web series (in conjunction with Bottled Films) about wine and the people who make it, made by the people who drink it. Each episode has a theme centred around a wine region or style, and takes the form of a free-flowing, informal, and educational conversation.

Today’s session takes a look at Pinot Noir and some of its most famous expressions in Champagne and Burgundy. We’ve gathered a group of wine lovers to share bottles from their own cellars and to chat about what makes the grape so interesting, and the wines so memorable. We were lucky to be hosted by the great team at Kitchen Table and Bubbledogs in Central London for the filming of this episode. Tucked in the back of Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street, Kitchen Table is one of the most exciting restaurants in London, led by owner/Chef James Knappett. You can find them online at www.kitchentablelondon.co.uk

Follow us on social media, @BYOPodcast and share or rate this episode.

Please subscribe to the podcast to make sure you catch all future episodes: here

Enjoy, follow and subscribe on social media @BYOPodcast.

You can now support the project through our new Patreon page, https://www.patreon.com/bringyourown

The Wines:

Champagne Jacquesson Dizy “Terres Rouge” Rose Extra Brut 2009
Ulysse Collin “Les Maillons” Blanc de Noirs 2012
Domaine Bizot Vosne-Romanee 2014
Domaine Claude Dugat Gevrey Chambertin 2009

Find our host and guests online:

Derek Morrison @DerekDecanted
The Good Wine Shop – www.thegoodwineshop.co.uk

Dan Roznov @ChampagneSpy www.vivino.com/users/champagnespywww.champagnefriends.ch Peter Crawford @Alavolee Alavolee – www.alavolee.com
Christina Rasmussen @ChristinaRasmussen_ www.christinarasmussen.co

BYO Podcast – Episode Three: South Africa

24 November 2017 by Alex

BYO Ep3 Img1

Episode three of our monthly podcast focuses on the ‘New Wave’ wines of South Africa. For the uninitiated, ‘Bring Your Own’ is a podcast and video web series (in conjunction with Bottled Films) about wine and the people who make it, made by the people who drink it. Each episode has a theme centred around a wine region or style, and takes the form of a free-flowing, informal, and educational conversation.

This episode we were really lucky to be hosted at Terroirs Wine Bar in Central London for the filming of this episode. Around the corner from Trafalgar Square, Terroirs is a must visit in London for any winelover. You can find them online at www.terroirswinebar.com.

Joining our own inimitable Derek Morrison this episode are Hannes Storm of Storm Wines (@stormwinessa https://www.stormwines.co.za/), writer/wine judge Treve Ring (@treve_ring http://treve.ca/), and Craig Wessels of Restless River Wines (@restlessriverRR www.restlessriver.com).

The wines tasted in this episode are:

Restless River “Ava Marie” Chardonnay 2015
Storm Wines “Moya’s” Pinot Noir 2014
Alheit “Radio Lazarus” Chenin Blanc 2012
Craven Wines Pinot Gris 2015
Keermont Vineyards Syrah 2014
Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2013
(Click the links to find similar wines in stock with us)

Please click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and make sure you catch all future episodes, and consider rating and reviewing it if you like it!

Enjoy, follow and subscribe on social media @BYOPodcast. You can now support the project through our new Patreon page, https://www.patreon.com/bringyourown

BYO Podcast – Episode Two: Jura

9 October 2017 by Alex

BYO Podcast Jura

Our monthly podcast returns for its second epiosde. ‘Bring Your Own’ is a podcast and video web series (in conjunction with Bottled Films) about wine and the people who make it, made by the people who drink it. Each episode has a theme centred around a wine region or style, and takes the form of a free-flowing, informal, and educational conversation.

This second episode focuses on the Jura region of France. While the region is perhaps best known for Comté cheese and Louis Pasteur, it is also home to some of France’s most exciting wines, including the timeless and iconic Vin Jaunes. We gathered a group of fanatical Jura lovers to share bottles from their own cellars and to chat about what makes the regions wines and people so unique and captivating.

Joining our very own Derek Morrison are international wine exporter Alessio Guidi, Jura Wine Importer Doug Wregg from Les Caves de Pyrene, Heidi Nam Knudsen from Ottolenghi Restaurant Group, and David Clawson from The Remedy Wine Bar.

We were really lucky to be hosted by the great team at Kitchen Table and Bubbledogs in Central London for the filming of this episode.  Tucked in the back of Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street, Kitchen Table is one of the most exciting restaurants in London, led by owner/Chef James Knappett. You can find them online at www.kitchentablelondon.co.uk

Click the video below to watch on YouTube, or click the links to listen on iTunesStitcher, or Soundcloud. If you like the podcast, please consider rating, reviewing, and subscribing on your platform of choice. You can follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram @BYOpodcast.

BYO Podcast – Episode One: Grower Champagne

9 October 2017 by Alex

Grower Champagne Podcast

You may have noticed that we launched our new podcast ‘Bring Your Own’ back in August. This monthly podcast and video web series (in conjunction with Bottled Films) is about wine and the people who make it, made by the people who drink it. Each episode has a theme centred around a wine region or style, and takes the form of a free-flowing, informal, and educational conversation.

The first episode focuses on “Grower Champagne”, wines made by the very same people who grow the grapes. Bringing their own are Derek Morrison from The Good Wine Shop, Sandia Chang, owner of Bubbledogs, Champagne enthusiast Peter Crawford, and David Clawson, owner of The Remedy wine bar.

Click the video below to watch on YouTube, or click the links to listen on iTunes, Stitcher, or Soundcloud. If you like the podcast, please consider rating, reviewing, and subscribing on your platform of choice. You can follow the podcast on Twitter and Instagram @BYOpodcast.

Producer Profile: the Champagnes of Marie Courtin

30 June 2017 by Alex

This month as part of our Grower Champagne Month celebrations, we were lucky enough to taste the full range of Marie Courtin Champagnes. This small Champagne producer is owned and run by Dominique Moreau, granddaughter of Marie Courtin who tended the vines herself when the men in the family were fighting in World War I, while many other families abandoned their vines altogether.

Dominique farms a tiny 2.5ha in the village of Polisot in the Cotes des Bar region of Champagne. After many years of being somewhat overlooked, these southerly terroirs (Polisot is closer to Chablis than to Reims, for example) are home to some of the most exciting Champagne growers of all. The Marie Courtin vineyards are planted almost entirely to Pinot Noir, with a miniscule 0.5ha of Chardonnay. The vines are farmed according to fully organic and biodynamic principles, an approach which – although on the rise – is still very rare in the region. The philosophy here has always been ‘one grape variety, one vineyard, one vintage’, in stark contrast to the emphasis placed on blending by the vast majority of producers in the region. The yields are kept very low in order to ensure perfectly ripe fruit and Dominque adds no sugar at bottling – all the Champagnes are Extra Brut.

These wines have a pure and uniquely vibrant character which has to be tasted to be truly understood and bear little relation to the mass-produced, heavily worked Champagnes one often encounters.

Marie Courtin Bottles


From a vineyard with younger vines, this Pinot Noir is full of sweet spice character and bruised apples. The tension between generous texture, laser-like acidity, and stoney minerality creates an extremely moreish yet cerebral Champagne.


100% Chardonnay from Dominique’s tiny parcel. This shows more delicate structure than the Pinot-based wines, and some slightly more exotic notes of ginger. Driven by ripe green apples and citrus fruit, there is a refreshing, chalky texture here.


Efflorescence is in many ways the flagship cuvee here. This is made from Pinot Noir vines that are around 40 years of age. Smoky and intensely flavoured, Efflorescence shows an intense red fruit character that is reinforced by the fuller body of the wine. The breadth of flavours and aromas here is impressive.


Concordance is made from a special selection of grapes from the same vineyard as Efflorescence, and uses no additions of Sulphur at any point in the winemaking process. There is a real ethereal quality here, which is somehow more intense aromatically than the Efflorescence but also more elegantly structured on the palate. The same could be said about all the Champagnes from this address, but Concordance really feels like a living, breathing organism, changing slightly with every sip!

Introducing Rotie Cellars – Fine Rhone-Inspired Wines from Washington State

12 May 2017 by Alex

Rotie Cellars Line-upWinemaker Sean Boyd of Rotie Cellars set out in 2007 to make the best possible wines from Rhone varieties in Washington State. ourcing fruit from his base in Walla Walla as well as the Rocks district, his mission statement is encapsulated in his ‘Old World Wines from New World Vines’ tag line. The aim is to make the wines with moderate alcohol and ripeness levels and to pay homage to his favourite Rhone valley wines. We found these wines to be a breath of fresh air in a world of North American wines dominated by California, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. In fact, we liked them so much that we decided to import them directly and become their sole representative in the UK.

Bottle-SouthernThe Southern Blend is inspired by the likes of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and contains a majority of Grenache alongside varying proportions of Syrah and Mourvedre. This is a bright, raspberry scented wine with hints of peppery spice and leather achieving a great balance between power and elegance.

The Northern Blend is a ‘savoury companion’ to the Southern, based on Syrah co-fermented with around 5% Viognier. The bold blackberry fruit and black pepper from the Syrah are enlivened by the aromatic florality of the Viognier giving way to a generous, silky texture.

To celebrate the arrival of these beauties, we will be pouring the Southern Blend and Northern Blend for free in store on Wednesday the 17th of May 2017 from 5pm to 9pm in Chiswick, and on Thursday 18th of May 2017 in Kew. There may even be a couple of surprises to taste in the form of some limited edition single varietal bottlings!

Rotie Cellars Vineyard

Producer Profile – Fabio Motta

1 November 2016 by Alex
Fabio Motta

Young winemaker Fabio Motta

After studying agriculture, Fabio Motta went to work at the Michele Satta winery in the beautiful Tuscan coastal area of Bolgheri. After working here for five years and marrying Michele’s daughter, Fabio acquired 4 hectares of his own vineyards. Planted to Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, these vineyards are now nearly 20 years old. Fabio believes that ‘a good wine grower lives and works close to the earth, humbly’, his role is as a facilitator, allowing the land, the weather, and the grapes to shape the wines. In an area like Bolgheri with its large, aristocratic estates, this approach is as refreshing as it is unusual.

Fabio Motta’s range includes two excellent ‘Super Tuscan’ reds, ‘Le Gonnare’ and ‘Pievi’:

Fabio Motta, ‘Le Gonnare’, Bolgheri Superiore, Tuscany, Italy, 2013

Gonnare Bottle ShotThe clay rich soils of Fabio’s vineyards are particularly suited to Merlot. All grapes are destemmed before being fermented with wild yeasts. The wine then ages for 18 months in French barriques, one third of which are new. The wine ages for a further one year in bottle before release. This full and gutsy red incorporates 15% Syrah alongside the Merlot and shows enticing spicy, herby complexity with plenty of well-rounded tannin. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has recently awarded 96 points to this vintage of Le Gonnare – second only to Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Masseto (which carries a three-figure price tag!): “This is the first Bolgheri Superiore ever produced by young talent Fabio Motta. He used 85% Merlot and 15% Syrah to make his 2013 Bolgheri Superiore Le Gonnare. In terms of an inaugural wine, this red blend hits all the high marks. This is a delicious rendition that showcases the soft and elegant side of Merlot with the sassy spice and savory notes of Syrah at the back. Pretty mineral etchings give the wine definition and focus. The combination is beautiful. Only 3,500 bottles of this biodynamic wine are produced. Congratulations” – Monica Larner, the Wine Advocate, October 2016.

Fabio Motta, ‘Pievi’, Bolgheri Rosso IGT, Tuscany, Italy, 2013

FMotta PieviA blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Sangiovese. Fermentation of each variety is done separately with only natural yeast in 33 hl. oak barrels. The cap is pushed down manually twice a day and delestage is used to let the must breathe. Fermentation takes two weeks for each variety, after which time the wine is blended. Malolactic fermentation takes place in second and third year barriques. The wine is aged in barriques of the same age for 12 months before bottling without fining or filtration. Notes of fresh red fruits, interwoven with balsamic notes and a rich minerality. The tannins are ripe and silky and the balance between alcohol and acidity creates a fresh and fragrant mouth feel.

Make sure you try Fabio’s wines this winter, Le Gonnare in particular is bound to be even more sought after having received such critical acclaim!

Elemental Bob – a South African Gem

18 August 2016 by Alex
A picture of winemaker Craig Sheard

Craig aka Elemental Bob

The wines of Elemental Bob are made by a man named – you guessed it – Craig. These carefully made South African wines are making a bit of a name for themselves among sommeliers and in the best wine bars. Winemaker Craig Sheard studied agriculture in school and college and originally worked on farms. This led his brother to give him the nickname ‘Farmer Bob’. Craig later studied winemaking and began working as a winemaker on larger estates before founding his own side project in 2004. Wine is made as much by the elements as by man and this gave rise to the name Elemental Bob.

A picture of the Elemental Bob winery with decorative gargoyle

Craig’s barrels, overlooked by gargoyles

Craig rents space in a small corner (overlooked by decorative gargoyles) of a winery in Somerset West about 30 minutes outside of Cape Town where I was lucky enough to visit him in May of 2016. Here he vinifies the best parcels of fruit he can lay his hands on from wherever he can get hold of it, relying on tip offs from various friends and local winemakers as to what interesting grapes are available. A true one man band, Craig drives the truck to collect the fruit himself and brings it back to the winery. The wines are made with minimal intervention using wild yeasts and only the lightest filtration. A small amount of sulphur is added to prevent spoilage. Until the 2015 vintage all the wines from the Elemental Bob stable were literal ‘one-offs’ with production of between one and three barrels – too small to think of exporting. In 2014 Craig began to pursue the Elemental Bob project full time and now has sufficient access to fruit to make the core range of two wines currently available, although in 2015 only 17 barrels of white and 10 barrels of red were made.

elemental-bob-whiteThe Elemental Bob My Cosmic Hand White Blend changes proportions depending on the conditions of the vintage and the grapes available. It is blended by ‘feel’ rather than laboratory analysis: Craig sees the different parcels of different grape varieties as ‘colours’ and blends them until the wine matches the vision he has in his mind’s eye. In 2015, the blend is 34% Viognier (from Durbanville and Elgin), 29% Chenin Blanc (Durbanville and Swartland), 20% Verdelho (Bot River) and 17% Semillon (Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley). 60% whole bunches are included and some parcels of grapes undergo around 7 days skin contact. This is a wine of great complexity showing citrus, orchard, and stone fruits with subtle, pleasant vegetal character and smokiness. There is a wonderful balance to the elegant and saline palate that has some weight but no heaviness and gives plenty of refreshment.

elemental-bob-pinot-noirThe My Cosmic Hand Pinot Noir is a blend of two parcels grapes (60% is from the Hemel en Aarde Ridge, with the remainder coming from Overberg) and is made with 40% whole bunches, giving a pleasant savoury character that is often missing from many ‘New World’ Pinots while still being full of enticing ripe fruit. As with the white blend, this is aged for 10 months in old French oak barrels and made with minimal intervention. There is real complexity here alongside plain and simple deliciousness and drinkability, a rare combination at this modest price point.

A closer look at the label reveals that these two wines carry the moniker ‘Crystal Edition’ and we noticed that some of Craig’s barrels had various crystals strategically placed around them. One of our group curiously asked him ‘are they decorative or functional?’ to which Craig replied – with an enigmatic smile – ‘definitely functional’. Perhaps this IMG_7207goes some way towards explaining the uniqueness of these brilliant wines.

Much is made in the wine world of ‘small production’ wines, but in there is no hyperbole here: our stock of these wines is sadly extremely limited. Contact the Chiswick or Kew stores to secure your bottles.

Find out more about Elemental Bob, or follow Craig on twitter @Elemental_Bob

Click here to view the rest of range of South African wines.

Fine Wine Focus: Chateau Mouton Rothschild

9 March 2016 by Derek

Series of bottle shots in a Mouton vertical

Personally, I have a bit of a ‘see-saw’ relationship with the top wine from Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  The prestigious First-Growth Chateau from Pauillac is responsible for some of the most profound wine experiences of my life, and also the most disappointing.  I suppose when such lofty expectations and price-tags are placed upon some wines, it is easy to be underwhelmed.

1982 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chateau Mouton RothschildChateau Mouton Rothschild 1982

The 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild is one of the most iconic and inspiring Bordeaux I’ve had the pleasure to taste.  The legendary vintage collected many trophies, but perhaps this 100 pointer from Robert Parker is the most iconic of the class.  The wine seemed eternal.  If, as a child, you were fortunate to meet one of your sports heroes, you may recall the overwhelming sense of power and almost godliness that loomed over you in their presence.  To be so awe-struck by a larger than life character is one of the most memorable sensations I experienced as a child.  There are few times in my life since that I have been overcome with the same emotions as an adult.  Once was at the feet of Michelangelo’s David in Florence, another was after tasting the 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild.  (Average price £1400 per bottle)

2000 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chateau Mouton Rothschild

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2000

At an almost identical retail price (Average price £1,300-£1499), the 2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild has been lauded by many critics and merchants as a trophy worthy of lofty comparisons to its iconic older brother.  The memorable design of the unique bottle only adds to the mystique of the wine and the elevation of its already sky-high prestige.

Imagine then the disappointment when I tasted a wine that fell a bit heavily and flat.  It felt slightly over-ripened, over-oaked, and lacking the structure and tension to truly demand one’s attention. While there were plenty of appetising flavours and aromas, overall it lacked the posture needed for an impressive evolution deep into the future. Fairly or not, when a wine’s price climbs into this category, the expectations for profoundness surely climb with it.  And with this price-tag, I will recommend my clients put the money elsewhere 10 times out of 10.

So this is my personal Chateau Mouton Rothschild spectrum.  I am the proudest ambassador of one trophy and the harshest critic of another.  Between both ends I have found much pleasure and delight.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1996

1996 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chateau Mouton Rothschild

When considering relative value of this great estate, I am constantly amazed that whole vintages are often overlooked.  At about one third of the price of the 2000, the 1996 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (£525 in stock at The Good Wine Shop) shines powerfully.  It has all of the classic, masculine aromas you would hope for including cedar, tobacco, & cooked meat; countered with voluptuous, seductive black fruits and currants all on top of a captivating structure and fine, gripping tannins.  I not-so-shyly expect the ’96 to age longer and more gracefully than the ’00.

2004 Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chateau Mouton Rothschild

For even greater value, the 2004 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (£399 in stock at The Good Wine Shop) flies well under the radar.  Admittedly, this is not the Mouton to lay down in the cellar for decades to come.  But for an impressive drinking experience, there are few Bordeaux First Growths which you will find at this price and perhaps none which will deliver the same pleasure or value.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2004

At Chateau Mouton Rothschild, 2004 was the first vintage under Philippe Dhalluin who persuaded the late Philippine de Rothschild to institute a stricter selection with respect to the wine. They produced far fewer bottles than had been released in previous vintages, focusing instead on the highest level of quality.  In a somewhat challenging vintage, Mons. Dhalluin crafted a great wine with restraint and uncompromised integrity by limiting what he allowed to go into their top label.

I have been shouting to anyone who will listen that 2004 is my favourite current drinking vintage of Left-Bank Bordeaux since the turn of the millennium, and this is certainly one of the best of the lot.  Dense fruits, seductive tannins, and wonderful hints of cedar and tobacco.  The wine has a bit of a forest-y character which contrasts beautifully against the soft fruit aromas and smooth but structured mouthfeel.  A true pleasure to drink now.

There is a chance you are reading this and the 2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild is your “Michelangelo’s David”.  And I love that. I love how unique the experience is and how individual everyone’s palates are…

But it does seem like a good excuse to cook some lamb, crack open a bottle of Mouton and discuss our disagreements until the glasses are empty. Cheers!

The Wonderful World of Whisky

1 December 2015 by Ben

With the price of some single malt Scotch reaching dizzying heights, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the best whiskies must be the most expensive….in fact nothing could be further from the truth!

Whisky lovers around the world are now routinely searching for great quality drams that offer better value and incredibly unique flavours.  This demand has been met by some seriously innovative whiskies from traditional whisky producing nations such as Canada, Ireland and the U.S.  In addition, you may have noticed English, Welsh, Swedish, Indian & Taiwanese whisky slowly appearing in shops and bars across the UK as horizons broaden. The growing popularity of these whiskies is no fluke. They’re gaining accolades from top critics and scooping up numerous awards along the way.

Excitement builds each November ahead of the publication of Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible, which last year famously named Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013 as their winner.  This year not one Scottish whisky made the top 5. The coveted top prize was taken by Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye from Canada, followed closely by whiskies from the U.S, Ireland & Japan.

Here at The Good Wine Shop we like to keep our ear to the ground and seek out the best offerings from the ever evolving world of Whisky.  Below are just a small selection of some of the ‘new kids on the block’ who are making a stir in the whisky world

Mackmyra Brukswhisky, 41.4%, Gävle, Sweden
MackmyraSwedish whisky may be new to most of you reading this article but for a number of years now it has been gaining a fantastic reputation internationally.  Awarded a gold medal as ‘Best in Class’ at the annual International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) in 2010, Mackmyra has been making waves ever since.  This is a wonderfully light and fruity style of whisky reminiscent of Speyside.  The nose is clean with light, spicy notes of Swedish peat and juniper. On the palate there are hints of butterscotch, citrus and pear.  Mackmyra is very approachable and great for those who like their whisky on the lighter side.

Nikka Coffey Grain, 45%, Miyagikyo, Japan
Nikka CoffeyNikka operate two coffey stills (both of which were imported from Scotland in 1963). They reside at their Miyagikyo distillery and are used to produce grain whisky for their house blends. This coffey still yields a greater depth of flavour than modern column stills used by other distilleries. As a result Nikka coffey grain has an exotic, fruity characteristic which has caught the imagination of whisky drinkers around the globe.  Nikka coffey grain is distilled mainly from corn and is a unique dram if ever there was one.  Whisky Advocate voted this dram as #9 in their recent 2015 whisky review with a score of 92/100. It’s a great example of Japanese whisky making at its finest.

High West Whiskey, Double Rye, 46%, Park City, Utah, U.S.A.
High WestHigh West is Utah’s first distillery since 1870 and opened its doors in 2007.  Rye whiskey has become increasingly popular over the past few years and this Double Rye certainly doesn’t disappoint.  A blend of mature 16 year old rye and a fresher, spicier 2 year old rye, High West is surprisingly light, floral and honeyed on the nose yet driven by dry and spicy, peppery flavours on the palate.  There is a small proportion of corn in the mash bill which adds some sweetness to balance the blend.  If you have enjoyed Rye whiskey in the past and are looking for something unique then look no further!

Teeling Whiskey, Small Batch Rum Cask Finish, 46%, Dublin, Ireland
TeelingIrish whiskey has been going through a bit of a renaissance in recent years, perhaps in part due to its major stylistic difference to Scotch.  Irish whiskey is mostly triple distilled and peat is rarely used, resulting in a style which is lighter and smoother in nature.  Irish whiskey is now the fastest growing spirit in the world with numerous distilleries opening in the last decade.  Teeling Whiskey, with a heritage stretching back to 1782, have recently opened Dublin’s first distillery in over 100 years.  This is a wonderfully smooth whiskey with a rich palate of vanilla, caramel, cinnamon and orange blossom.  This small batch whiskey is incredibly versatile and is great for mixing in long drinks.

These are exciting times in the whisk(e)y world and we’re constantly tasting, scoring and exploring the latest arrivals on the scene so that we can offer our customers something unique.  So, the next time you’re looking to pick up a winter warmer we invite you to be adventurous and spread your whisky wings.