June 15 marks the annual #DrinkChenin day where producers, retailers, restaurants and wine drinkers alike unite to celebrate all things Chenin. None more so than in South Africa where the white grape variety has had such success and is now recognised as producing some of the finest Chenin Blancs in the world. Wine merchants, restaurants and bars are being encouraged to back #DrinkChenin day by hosting their own tastings or simply opening up a few bottles of Chenin to share with their customers. To help kick things off this weekend we revisit Roger Jones’ trip to Cape Wine 2018 where he was able to pick out his own Chenin Blanc favourites from South Africa.
The higher and wetter you go in the Adelaide Hills the better wine you are going to produce, according to Michael Hill Smith MW, one half of the dynamic duo Shaw + Smith who has been making exquisite wines with his cousin Martin Shaw for the past 30 years. Earlier this month our resident chef and wine explorer, Roger Jones, was invited along to the Shaw + Smith 30th Anniversary lunch at Roka Aldwych in London to taste through the new vintages of Riesling, Chardonnay and Shiraz from their Adelaide Hills Vineyards, plus Pinot Noir from their most recently-established vineyards in Tasmania. So what is it about these wines that has caused Roger to list them on his wine list for the past 18 years?
The great and the good assembled in London last Wednesday for the 25th anniversary of UK wine importer Hatch Mansfield. Winery chiefs and winemakers flew in from far and wide to raise a glass to Patrick McGrath MW and his team. Our roving reporter and chef-at-large Roger Jones joined a select crew that included Sir George Fistonich, Pierre Henry Gagey, Eduardo Chadwick, Catherine Corbeau-Mellot, Pierre Emmanuel Taittinger and Giovanni Gaja amongst others. Jones tasted many of the special bottles brought in for the night including many rare cuvées and gives full tasting notes.
It has been a few years coming but the Pol Roger Portfolio tasting last week certainly made up for the wait – Drouhin, Josmeyer, Staglin, Gallica, Sinskey, Artadi, and not forgetting the Pol Roger Champagnes of course. Some big name winemakers were there pouring the wines and our Chef Editor, Roger Jones, was there taking copious tasting notes and getting a heads-up on which of the new vintages are really singing – and what to serve them with. If you didn’t manage to get there, fear not, let Mr Jones give you a few pointers.
With the rise of our homegrown fizz making such a big splash, our very own globe-trotting Chef Editor, who is also the Ambassador for The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships takes a global look at the Sparkling Wine industry. The use of the term Non Vintage, pricing, the disregard for Cava and MCC, the rise of ‘new’ countries like India and China, and where Champagne sits… all this and much more in an insightful report from a man who used to drink Dom Perignon while his rugby teammates were drinking pints.
Last Spring Fells took over the distribution of Yalumba and a few key wineries from the Negociants portfolio. What are the key changes and how are the new vintages tasting? On one of those beautiful summery days in February we sent Roger Jones along to the Fells annual tasting at the Riverside Rooms, Savoy Place to find out and, not only did he catch up with Yalumba’s Robert Hill-Smith but also many other top winemakers, keen no doubt to see how the Fells portfolio was changing with the new additions.
Where does Chile stand on the premium end of the market? Is there much call for these wines on top restaurant lists? Roger Jones attends the Sommelier Chile Challenge, organised by Wines of Chile, which sought to answer these questions – serving 51 wines from Chile blind alongside five ringers from other countries just to give the wines from Chile a benchmark in quality.
Roger Jones is a man of many hats and a man used to spinning a large number of plates at any one time. A world class chef, a restaurateur with the AA’s Best English Wine List for 2018, an ambassador to the CSWWC, a Decanter panel judge, host to the Tri Nations Wine Championships and a contributing editor to The Buyer. No he’s not been knighted yet but in our books he will always be Sir Roger Jones, at least that’s the name he always gives when checking into First Class lounges.
Roving contributing editor Roger Jones has an audience with Keith and Clare Mugford from Moss Wood, focussing not only on their aged fine wines from Margaret River in Western Australia but also discussing the Semillon Gris mutation of Semillon and whether it affects the wines. With Moss Wood celebrating its 50th anniversary next year and Keith also marking 40 years as head winemaker, this was a perfect occasion to consider the enduring appeal of the wines and how they age.
Bollinger La Grande Année 2007, Bollinger R.D 2004 the one-off cuvée ‘2003 by Bollinger’ and more are taste-tested with HIDE’s cuisine by Buyer contributing editor Roger Jones, as chef de caves Gilles Descôtes waxes lyrical about what the 2018 vintage has in store. But not all the food pairings got two thumbs up by Jones.