What's New at artisan & vine?

This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Wine tasting at artisan&vine

We have about 100 wines on the list at artisan&vine. Some of the wines are very hard to find elsewhere - orange wines, zero added sulphite wines, even English wines can be hard to find in London.
Thus far I've taken a very informal approach to sharing our wines with the world. If you've been to one of our wine tastings in the past, you'll know it can be a rather fluid affair. (I hope you appreciate that I HAD to slip that in).
Well - these days we're getting a little more thematic about things. We're still doing weekly Wednesday wine tastings, but now we're hosting specific themes, with a bit more structure & advice around what we're serving.
The schedule of upcoming themes is listed here -> http://artisanandvine.com/Wine-tasting
Please do come by for a visit to try some of our more unusual wines, I reckon you won't be disappointed.

Image: mmm... Corsican rose... perfect in every way! Exactly the sort of thing it's worth getting into on a tasting.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New Real Ale and Kentish Cider

Due to popular demand... we’ve tasted around and selected some artisan finds we hope you’ll love as much as us!
REAL ALE: Duncan Sambrook’s full, fruity and (at least when I pour it) frothy Wandle Ale
KENTISH CIDER: from our long time friends at Biddenden Vineyards - & Cider Works! Straight from the cask at a stonking 8.4% abv!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Wild wine in Chobham Common

I like the idea of "wild" whatever it's format. There's an inference of "place" within the word: if something occurs "wild" then it is likely to be a natural product of a given "place". And we already know I'm obsessed with place.

Sunday was my day off and Andrew (who's day job is working for Natural England (http://www.naturalengland.gov.uk/) and I were both keen to go somewhere Wild, though it had to be somewhere close.

The wonderful conclusion is a stunning place called Chobham Common, just off the M3 it took us around 30minutes to drive there. It's an area of outstanding beauty, especially at this time of year when the heather is in full flower.

We set up picnic and watched the clouds roll over the heaths. Stunning.

What to drink? The warm day called for a refreshing drink so we opted for the Coteaux du Languedoc 2008 from my beloved Mas Nicot. The wine has fresh lime notes and is starting to develop that brilliant creamy finish that was so characteristic of the 2007 vintage. We sell Coteaux du Languedoc for £4.40/glass, or, you can buy it to take home for £14.50/bottle (and an additional 10% off when you buy 6 or more).

Image: fresh Coteaux du Languedoc from Mas Nicot in the gorgeous wild flowers of Chobham Common.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Ale / Lager, Pilsner / Beer, Rioja / Riocka

Last year I underwent an awakening: people like draught beer.
This year, I discovered that while some people like draught lager, others prefer draught ale.
I only served draught lager.
So yesterday I went to visit Duncan Sambrook, of Sambrooks Brewery around the corner from me here in Battersea.
My questions made him pull the face I have to pull when people ask for an Australian Rioja (rioja is their favourite grape). He was confused at my questions, but eager to help.
What did I learn? For starters... here are the answers to some important beer basics:
1. Beer = an alcoholic drink made by the brewing & fermenting of starches
2. Lager = fermenting at cold temps, with "fizz" added afterward
3. Pilsner = a type of pale lager, with predominant hop characteristics
4. Ale = fermented at hot temps, with "fizz" developed during secondary fermentatin (yes, like champagne!)
For seconders, I learnt we really need to be stocking some of this full, flavoursome ale stuff...
At artisan&vine we currently have pilsner & lager on tap... we're now trialling Duncan's excellent local ale by the bottle.
Come by & cast a vote... we're keen for your thoughts!
Image: Duncan's fantastic Wandle Ale... I reckon we're onto a winner...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

We've gone crackers... (past tense?)

A friend of mine has a friend, Miriam. Miriam is a foodie. She went crackers long before we did.

Today Miriam brought in a range of her handmade crackers - chilli cheese, herb & cheese, rosemary & garlic. We tasted; they're perfect for wine.

We'll be stocking them from Friday on... come by for a taste of additive free, home made perfection!

PS - yes, Miriam was subject to the standard artisan&vine new supplier interview:

1. show us your product, how does it taste?

2. what's your story? (subtext: where's your passion)

3. what's the story of the product? (tastes like inspiration)

4. what does it cost? will it represent great value for our savvy customers?

Image: homemade crackers!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Wine shop or not shop

I've been thinking a lot lately about the artisan&vine wine shop.
I've been thinking: people seem to really love our wines, but they rarely buy them to take home. Customers enthuse about what they taste at artisan&vine in a way people don't usually enthuse at bars and restaurants. These wines seem to create an interactive, participatory experience.
So, why then, do we sell such a small amount of wine to take home?
The prices are very competitive, of that I'm certain.
Maybe tasting wine at artisan&vine is a participatory experience that includes the feel of our little bar on St John's Hill.
Most likely, I've done a very bad job telling people that there is the ability to take wines home. It's easy to get caught up talking only about the wines and the exciting places they've evolved from.
Should we have a sign? An accompanying online shop? Do we give up on retail and accept we'll always be primarily a bar?
Come visit us soon... I'm sure we'll have dreamt up something in the very near future.
Share your opinion by voting in the poll on this site (until 30 Aug 09).

Image: sometimes I wonder if our pretty little Georgian building looks more like a home than a bar or shop!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Bordeaux, Cahors and Gaillac

This July we did a rather ambitious road trip from Toulouse, up to Bordeaux, back down south to Cahors and then across to Gaillac. We were in pursuit of wine: exciting new wine.
· Bordeaux posed the largest challenge for me. Steeped in tradition, amongst all of my contacts we could think of only 3 producers using biodynamic methods. In a fascinating twist, one of them – Pascal Amoreau of Chateau Le Puy - is an extreme natural wine maker, and doesn’t use any added sulphites in his wines. The result is outstanding: full fruit flavours, incredible depth, a live personality. I hope to be stocking the wines come Autumn!
· We went to Cahors to visit the charismatic Catherine Maisonneuve of Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve. Cahors has stunning countryside: wild vegetation interspersed by picturesque towns and their churches. Like much of Cahors, the speciality here is Malbec and we were treated to an amazing tasting across vintages and parcels. We stock Catherine’s full, earthy Le Combal 2005 at artisan&vine – definitely worth drinking if you enjoy your reds heavy.
· Lastly, we visited Virginie Maignien and Patrice Lescarret of Domaine Causse Marines in Gaillac. This place is lively, floral, spicy and the wines are exactly the same. Virginie and Patrice are dedicated to using lesser known grape varieties that are indigenous to Gaillac – Ondenc, Braucol, Duras – it’s a wonderful taste exploration that necessitates(!) me carrying four of their fabulous wines at artisan&vine.
· Photos and notes from the full journey and tastings
here -> http://artisanandvine.com/index.php?mact=Album,m3,default,1&m3albumid=14&m3returnid=56&page=56

Image: me with Dominic from Chateau le Queyroux, Bordeaux