My Summer Wine Part 1 – Biarritz

So, September has started and the summer is pretty much over. I haven’t written very much on Quentin Sadler’s Wine Page this summer because there has been so much going on. Quite apart from my work teaching people about wine I have visited some amazing wine regions, learnt a huge amount and been planning articles in my head.

However, I thought that I ought to mention a few things I tasted over the summer before you all completely forget about me. Back at the beginning of August I spent a few days in Biarritz for the first time since 1968 – when I was a very small boy. In those days I was more interested in the beach, pretty nice even now, than wine, but I was hugely excited by the local wines this time around.

The lovely old harbour in Biarritz

Biarritz is a splendid coastal town in south-west France that surrounds an old fishing and whaling harbour. I was really won over, it is lovely with a real feeling of grandeur, faded and real about it. Biarritz was put on the map in the 1850s by that fascinating character Emperor Napoleon 111 who bizarrely managed to be both France’s first president and last monarch. He and Empress Eugénie had planned to retire there – although is transpired that the Prussians had other plans – and the house they built still dominates the town as the glamorous Hôtel du Palais – and no, I didn’t stay there. Continue reading

Lovely Wine from Luxembourg

The Moselle in Wormeldange

I am always drawn to the more unusual wines, so how could I resist this bottle from Luxembourg.

I have always known that Luxembourg makes wine, I have tried a few over the years – mainly sparkling, I’ve even sold a few in my time, but it’s still pretty unusual to find them easily available – so I thought that I would share the experience with you.

My general feeling about Luxembourg wine is that they often lean towards an Alsace style, as well as using the same grape varieties as Alsace – which is not far away – but there is none of the sweetness that seems to be creeping into Alsace wines nowadays.

If you travel south-west along the Mosel from Koblenz, where it leaves the Rhine, you pass through some of the greatest wine towns in the world and some of the most beautiful vineyards. Zeltingen, Bernkastel, Piesport and many others – all deserve a little exploring, before you arrive at the wonderful city of Trier. When I did the journey I stopped there, for a rather good beer as it happens, but if you keep on, the river changes direction and changes its spelling – it becomes the Moselle. Continue reading

Deep in the Heart of the Loire – tasting a Cour-Cheverny

Whilst in the Napa Valley recently, I was fortunate enough to try a rather unusual wine.

Not long ago in these pages I wrote about a Cheverny wine that I had enjoyed – read about it here. Well, whilst looking at the wine list of a rather swanky Napa eatery I spotted an example of its rare near relative – Cour-Cheverny.

As far as I am aware I have never been in a position to try this before, so I leapt at the opportunity. Continue reading

My visit to Champagne Jacquesson & Fils

Jean-Hervé Chiquet

Jean-Hervé Chiquet

Arriving at Jacquesson was one of those memorable moments. The day was perfect, sun-drenched & warm with a gentle breeze and the Jacquesson grounds in Dizy were beautiful, ordered and terrifically atmospheric. The buildings and grounds were quintessentially French and had that deeply peaceful feel of a great winery. The gardens and cobbled courtyards were neat and picturesque, railings adorned with the gold letters of Jaquesson & Fils made an elegant, but purposeful statement.

I am ashamed to say that my experience of Jacquesson was very limited until this visit, but that made everything all the more wonderful as it all took me by surprise. Continue reading