Champagne in full effervescence! Christmas on a Plate! India: The great mosaique! December diary! Wine tasting events! Property section: Country comforts!
Champagne in full effervescence!
Champagne should be sparkling on most tables at the end of year celebrations. Focus on the wines that have convinced the editorial team.
CHAMPAGNE AGRAPART, L’Avizoise Agrapart: Amazingly complex
The L’Avizoise champagne from Agrapart is made from 100% Chardonnay from 55 year old vines grown in this Grand Cru terroir. This is an amazingly complex champagne, with coffee, apple and herbal notes to savour on the palate, with a beautiful biscuity finish. www.champagne-agrapart.com
CHAMPAGNE ARMAND DE BRIGNAC, Ace of Spades Rosé NV: Once tasted never forgotten
Ace of Spades Rosé follows the same modus operandi as its Silver and gold counterparts, employing a similar combination of grapes from the area’s best recent harvests and most revered vineyard sites. A higher proportion of red grapes is used with Pinot Noir taking centre stage in the wine’s composition. It is generous and expressive on the nose with enticing layers of strawberry shortcake, toasted almonds, raspberry sorbet and violet. Full creamy and flavoursome in the mouth with an assertive, indulgent and show-stopping style. Once tasted, never forgotten. www.armanddebrignac.com
CHAMPAGNE BILLECART SALMON, St Hilaire 96: astounding delicacy and balance
Sainte Hilaire is the stunning Super-Prestige Cuvée from the consistently excellent Billecart-Salmon Champagne house. Essentially an old vine, single vineyard Blanc de Noirs (named after the patron of Mareuil-sur-Ay) St Hilaire 96 represents a wonderful combination of human skill, a perfect harvest and an exceptional vineyard site. In addition, to enable this great wine to mature in typical single cru style- Billecart has chosen not to add any dosage at the bottling stage. Ripe pears, minerals and flowers grace a generously scented nose whilst the palate is textural, deep and velvety with astounding delicacy and balance. www.champagne-billecart.fr
CHAMPAGNE BOLLINGER, Rosé NV Magnum: Fresh, clean and succulent
Madame Bollinger famously quoted “I drink champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes, I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry, and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.” In tasting it is inimitably Bollinger with a fresh, fruity and yeasty nose with wild raspberries coming to the fore. The palate is fresh, clean and succulent with a good crunchiness and a long, luscious length. www.champagne-bollinger.com
CHAMPAGNE BRUNO PAILLARD, Blanc de Blancs Brut Millésime 1999: elegant and expressive
A sparkling vintage champagne from Bruno Paillard, the Brut Millésime is pale straw in colour and has a fine and delicate mousse. The powerful nose tingles with spicy aromas and ample notes of brioche, dried fruits, and toasted bread. Lively and complex on the palate with further dried fruit flavours and a long lasting finish, it works beautifully with fish. Bruno Paillard’s wines are elegant and expressive. www.champagnebrunopaillard.com
CHAMPAGNE DAVID LECLAPART, Cuvée L’Artiste 2005: incredibly complex
David Léclapart’s L’Artiste champagne is made from 40 year old vines and features an intense creamy mousse with notes of brioche, pears and vanilla. David Léclapart’s wines are made from a tiny plot in Champagne of only 3 hectares. He works biodynamically and organically to preserve the purity of the terroir. David Léclapart’s wines are incredibly complex and have built a reputation that puts them up there in quality with Selosse and Salon.
CHAMPAGNE DOM PERIGNON, Jeff Koons Rosé edition 04: richness and opulence
The latest fashion collaboration from Dom Pérignon sees the legendary Champagne House pair up with the celebrated and flamboyant American artist Jeff Koons. Following working with names such as Lady Gaga and car manufacturer BMW, Koons has created a balloon sculpture especially for Dom Pérignon called “Balloon Venus”, which is shown on the packaging of this limited edition release. Highly collectable Dom Pérignon Rosé Jeff Koons displays all of the hallmark richness, immediacy and opulence that mark the 2003 harvest as being one of the best of recent times. www.domperignon.com
CHAMPAGNE GEORGES LAVAL, Brut Nature NV: plenty of richness and purity
Cumières often produces better quality champagne than most of the so called grand cru villages in Champagne, so it is no surprise that this wine is of a very high quality. It is certified organic and Georges Laval is really making a name for himself among the growers. A really vinous champagne with plenty of richness and purity of fruit. www.georgeslaval.com
CHAMPAGNE GOSSET, Grande Reserve NV: generous, full-bodied with delightful flavours
An historic and highly regarded Champagne House, Gosset is one of champagne’s most recognisable and cherished names. Their Grande Reserve – an equal blend of Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – offers a stunning introduction to the house. Intense and complex on the nose, Grand Reserve offers a host of deliciously perfumed scents including wild orchard fruit, marzipan and sweet spices. The palate is generous, full-bodied and concentrated with delightful flavours of Melba toast, roasted almonds, praline and lightly roasted coffee. Highly recommended. www.champagne-gosset.com
CHAMPAGNE HENRI GIRAUD, Code Noir NV: an intense champagne
The name Code Noir represents the predominance of Black Grapes in the Champagne blend. With a mature and complex nose of cooked pear and cherries, it opens out to reveal notes of yellow flowers, peaches, vanilla and white pepper and then warms to fine perfumes of honey. Served at eight degrees it makes a refreshing aperitif, while at twelve degrees this brooding and intense Champagne will enhance poultry, veal or fish in a creamy sauce. www.champagne-giraud.com
CHAMPAGNE KRUG, Krug Rosé: a sensual and extravagant champagne
Krug Rosé is a sensual, extravagant champagne that fuses the intensity and elegance of Krug’s signature style with an excitement of its own. Blending a small quantity of precisely selected, skin–fermented Pinot Noir grapes with traditionally fermented Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, it has a pale pink–gold colour, a fragrant bouquet and spills over with notes of wild berries, exotic spices and concentrated flowers. www.krug.com
CHAMPAGNE LARMANDIER BERNIER, Terre de Vertus 1er Cru Brut: a unique champagne
Terre de Vertus is an ultra brut champagne made from 100 per cent Chardonnay from the 1er Cru vineyards of Vertus, one of the top terroirs in Champagne. This terroir shows through in the wine and is complemented by delicate floral notes, touches of citrus and a light biscuity character. A unique champagne for the true champagne afficionado. www.larmandier.fr
CHAMPAGNE POL ROGER, Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 1999: robust, matured and long lived
Sir Winston Churchill was Pol Roger’s most illustrious devotee and customer. This champagne is made in his honour. The composition of the blend is a closely guarded family secret but from tasting it is likely that the champagne features about 70 to 80 per cent Pinot Noir with the remainder made up from Chardonnay. The grapes are all from Grand Cru vineyards which were under vine during Churchill’s lifetime and it is only ever made in the very best vintages. It is made in a style which Churchill himself favoured, robust, mature and long lived, featuring notes of white flowers, acacia honey, crisp citrus, warm apple and spice. www.polroger.co.uk
CHAMPAGNE RUINART, Dom Ruinart 1998: deliciously floral and fruity
Made exclusively from Chardonnay, Dom Ruinart is produced only in the very best vintage years. Against an extremely stylish mineral background, the initial nose mingles with deliciously floral and fruity notes. www.ruinart.com
Christmas on a Plate
Le Sommelier creates a festive food special for the Christmas season and beyond.
Imperial Caviar, the ultimate excellence
Sevruga, Oscietra, Beluga – the very names capture the sensuous delights of caviar. In a wide variety of sizes, every spoonful will satisfy ones need for ultimate luxury.www.imperialcaviar.co.uk
Princesse d’Isenbourg of Kensington, Truffles, smoked Sturgeon, Morelles & Cèpes
In Kensington, Princesse d’Isenbourg offers the best London caviar. One can also savour the ‘Terrine de Foie Gras Maison’ served by the slice, an incomparable product! Princesse d’Isenbourg also proposes white and black Truffles, Keta salmon, dried Morelles and Cèpes, fresh Foie Gras, Saffron, smoked salmon and its own brut champagne. One last convincing point: clients will appreciate the free parking. caviar.co.uk
La Fromagerie, a real treat
La Fromagerie is the hidden gem among the shops and restaurants of Marylebone; it represents not only the leading cheese-producing countries, England, France and Italy but also offers rare and superb varieties of cheeses from as far as Tibet and Argentina.
Besides cheese, the shop offers a selection of seasonal fresh produce, a specially sourced selection of charcuterie and its own range of cheese biscuits. La Fromagerie, 2-6 Moxton Street, London W1, 020-7935 0341; www.lafromagerie.co.uk
Pierre Hermé brings a little slice of Paris to London with his delicious macaroon and chocolaterie that opened in Belgravia in 2010. Famed for his dark, passion fruit Venezuelan macaroons, he certainly likes to experiment with flavours. Over the years he’s come up with plenty of fruity combinations, as well as an intriguing dark chocolate with olive oil and black olives. If you can’t decide what to go for, you could always try out his Chocolats au Macaron, which have a signature layer of almond paste and a rich layer of flavoured ganache. Pierre Hermé, 13 Lowndes Street, London, SW1X 9EX; www.pierreherme.com
Despite its French name, Artisan du Chocolat is British through and through. Its founder Gerard Coleman trained first as a pastry chef in Dublin, London and New York and then as a chocolatier in Belgium before opening his first store. Back in 2000 he created tobacco chocolates for The Fat Duck before hitting fame, with his liquid salted caramels for Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s (they still get people heading in their droves for them). For a Christmas update on the favourite, you can try the salted caramels with spiced fig – delicious. If you’re looking for an unusual gift for someone, then there’s always the brilliant Cocoa Rehab package, which costs £60 and involves three months’ worth of couture chocolates delivered to your door. Artisan du Chocolat, 89 Lower Sloane Street, London, SW1W 8DA, 81 Westbourne Grove, London, W2 4UL; Borough Market, London SE1; artisanduchocolat.com
TWG TEA: MAGIC MOMENT
A shooting star illuminates the night sky for a moment, but leaves an indelible dream behind for ever… In keeping with the festive season .TWG Tea has created an elixir for the holidays, the Magic Christmas Tea, an enchanting caffeine-free red tea blend of rare citrus fruits blended with raw and malty dark chocolate, a bewitching and marvellous melange that resonate long on the palate.
Exquisitely wrapped in a smouldering black flask, this sparkling potion will cast a spell of luxury over your Christmas celebrations, making it the perfect gift to cherish for generations to come. www.twgtea.com
India: the great mosaique
Since the dawn of time India captivates the traveller and inspires the philosopher.
Adventure stories have structured in the Western imagination the ambivalent vision of a country of stunning beauty and overwhelming poverty. A land inhabited by princes in turbans subject to palace intrigue and large cities choked by beggars from another time. Not withstanding these frozen representations, the subcontinent emerge today in a vertiginous dynamism, and with a dazzling complexity orchestrates its future in a multi-cultural kaleidoscope of history and modernity.
Old Delhi between Islam and the British Empire
In the narrow alleys of old Delhi, enthusiastic life goes on to the sound of rickshaws and to the scent of colourful spices. A joyful crowd rushes into the shopping street of Chandni Chowk, the themed bazaar where hundreds of colourful stalls congregate. In the alleys, sellers call out to shoppers looking for the best bargains. The stalls are covered with lotus flowers and sandalwood. Silk carpet, ritual essence of rose scents, cloths and jewellery, smiling faces, the atmosphere is assuredly one of discovery. The market tiressly animated since the first ray of day light emerges until immersed in unusual excitement at night fall. The Indian metropolis is preparing for the festivities of nine nights. Navaratri is the Hindu festival celebrating the goddess Durga and the victory over Good and Evil. In homage to the mother goddess, Delhi is decked out in its finery and the city is pampered like a new bride.
The Mughal era
The minarets of the Jama Masjid mosque stand proudly towards the sky as to recall the timeless architecture of the first Muslim invaders. The tallest mosque of India is completely covered with red sandstone and white marble. The establishment of the Islamic dynasty in the north of the country leads to a stylistic syncretism between Indian architecture and the style characteristic of the sultanates. It is again the Emperor Shah Jahan, a great builder, who built the famous Red Fort, emblem of the city, before realising the incomparable mausoleum the Taj Mahal in Agra in memory of his late wife. Formerly, elephants used to cross the Yamuna River in front of the sublime edifice to journey to the Pink city of Jaipur in the distant hills of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan, the land of colours
The country of kings seems to reinvents the world of colour. Women combine beauty with elegance in their silk saris of countless hues. They work in fields, draped in fabric embroidered with gold and silver threads, dignified and proud despite their often difficult lives. On the road, the floral arabesques that adorn the walls of the imperial city of Fatehpur Sihri evoke the splendour of Mughal dynasty. Further to the west, Udaipur is a burst of whiteness set on water. The Venice of the Orient and its ancient palaces flares up when the sunset floods the mirror of Lake Pichola.
Mr Oberoi Villas
Mr Oberoi has not only created a concept of sumptuous villas in the most magical places in India, he has also reinvented luxury. Oberoi hotels are not like other hotels; they are a collection of unique ambiences mingling, refinement, well-being and discretion. The majority of the staff is formed in the Oberoi school in New Delhi, and Mr Oberoi himself validates the final interview with each candidate. Nothing is left to chance in the Oberoi group universe.
Udaivilas Oberoi, Udaipur
An hotel worthy of a Maharaja’s palace, resting on the edge of the Lake Pichola! The domes and arches that dominate all the buildings face the white city of Udaipur. Subtly decorated with marble and beautiful fabrics, the rooms offer the ultimate comfort. The luxurious suites have their own swimming pool. The spa offers Ayurvediques massage from traditional Indian medicine. Udaivilas Oberoi is certainly one of the finest hotels in India. A romantic stopover at the heart of Rajasthan deserves to be extended over a few days.
Rajvilas Oberoi, Jaipur
Nestled in a lush garden, this hotel of rare elegance is the perfect place to relax after hours of travel on Rajasthan busy roads. Majestic peacocks in bold colours welcome the visitor. The peaceful park houses a sumptuous swimming pool. But the highlight of the place is without doubt the restaurant. Chef Udayshankar Shennoy is a lover of Indian cuisine. He likes to balance dishes and play with spices. He offers a restraint menu but one always composed with the best ingredients. Kashmiri born, he enjoys repeating “that to understand cuisine one has to know the culture”. The Rajvilas Oberoi is a wonderful address at the gates of Jaipur.
Amarvilas Oberoi, Agra
The jewel of the Oberoi collection, Amarvilas Oberoi, is the only hotel to offer stunning views of the mausoleum of the Taj Mahal. A serene and magical atmosphere floods the place. All rooms look over towards this ultimate monument to love. This magnificent palace is worth a trip in itself. Gardens, terraced lawns, the pool and pavilions complement the classical architecture of the hotel. The hotel concierge will organise a complete tour of the famous mausoleum for privileged guests. The Amarvilas Oberoi is an exceptional address in an exceptional position. www.oberoihotels.com
Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
From the thousands of portrait photographers who entered the competition for the Taylor Wessing Prize, 60 have been selected for display at the National Portrait Gallery. And just four works have been shortlisted for the £12,000 prize: Iranian Anoush Abrar’s portrait of Kofi Annan; former Royal Marine Giles Price’s photo of an Indian woman with her child; Berlin physician and artist Dorothy Deiss’ portrait of twin sisters; and English artist Spencer Murphy’s photo of jockey Katie Walsh. Until 9th February at the National Portrait Gallery.
Paul Klee (1879-1940) famously described drawing as ‘taking a line for a walk’, and Tate Modern is following his lead in its latest exhibition, which tracks his career from student days in Munich to his death in Switzerland. A natural draughtsman and talented musician, he evolved theories that associated colours with musical notes, forming visual harmonies and dissonances analogous to musical compositions. A 12-day trip to Tunis in 1914 liberated his sense of colour; the simple block forms of the buildings encouraging a leaning towards cubism. But his prolific output, inventive use of different media and teasingly witty line ensured he could never be pigeonholed into any single modern movement. The innovations he made between 1921 and 1931 – the decade he spent teaching and working at the Bauhaus – form the heart of the Tate show. In his workshops, he devised exercises using basic geometrical forms and life drawing to explore rhythm and movement, the laws of gravity and even the nature of chaos and the cosmos. ‘Paul Klee: Making Visible’ is at ‘Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 (020-7887 8888); www.tate.org.uk) until March 9, 2014, sponsored by EY;
Memories of China
From eighth-century Buddhist images on silk and paper, miraculously preserved in the remote Dunhuang region of north-west China, to nineteenth-century works influenced by European art, 70 masterpieces of Chinese painting have been gathered together by the V&A. By the tenth century, artists were displaying an exceptional grasp of the natural world, depicting with great economy of means, plants, animals, people and landscapes through the seasons. It is hard to believe that this exquisitely refined depiction of court ladies preparing newly woven silk dates from the twelfth century. Even when Jesuit missionary artists brought European techniques of linear perspective and chiaroscuro to China in the seventeenth century, they were adapted by native artists for absorption into the Chinese aesthetic. ‘Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700-1900’ is at the V&A, Cromwell Road, SW7 (020 7942 2000; www.vam.ac.uk) until January 19, 2014;
Although he made frequent visit abroad, from 1859 until his death in 1903 American-born James Abbott Mc Neill Whistler adopted London as his home. Dulwich Pictures Gallery’s exhibition focuses on the artist’s depictions of the Thames. Living in Chelsea, he often painted Battersea Reach, the fogs and lights along the river inspiring his famous Nocturnes. But he also painted downstream where the docks were crowded with shipping. Rather than recording the vast West India warehouses cutting across the Isle of Dogs, he concentrated on
the older wharves lining the Pool of London and at Wapping, Limehouse and Rotherhithe, their decayed fabric providing the backdrop for a tangle of barges and trading vessels still under sail. ‘An American in London; Whistler and the Thames’ is at Dulwich Picture Gallery, College Road, SE21 (020-8693 5254; www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk) until January 12, 2014;
Le Sommelier hosts an excellent line-up of wine tasting events in London’s most prestigious venues.
With wine producers on hand to offer information and advice, plus gourmet canapés, this is without doubts the most enjoyable way to expand your oenological knowledge and sample some great wines from a favourite producer.
For more information or to book tickets, please email; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are hunting for a great country estate, look no further, Le Sommelier scours the market and takes a look at six of the best.
Shortly after the Royal Wedding in 2010, rumours abounded that Prince Charles was about to buy NUTBOURNE PARK – soon to be the largest estate in Surrey – for his son and new daughter-in-law. This didn’t happen, which means the 212 acres in prime Surrey is still up for grabs. At the moment there is no main home – it still has to be built – which means any buyer will be taking on a project, although planning permission is in place for a regally classic residence: a 12-bedroom Queen Anne-style mansion featuring nine ensuite bathrooms, a basement swimming pool, a tennis court, tree-lined driveway, stables, three staff cottages and a cupola. The grounds, which come with six entrances, consist of lush parkland, lakes and woodland. Come springtime, bluebells carpet the paddocks. The suggested drawings are from country-house specialist Robert Adam (one of Prince Charles’s favourite architects). The site is the former Nutbourne brickworks near the village of Hambledon, a 45-minute drive from London. The sale price is £20 million – the estate is being marketed jointly by Hamptons International (01483 572864) and Savills (020 7016 3780). Build costs are estimated to be about £10 million to £15 million, and will take an estimated two years.
Found 11 miles from Bath and nine miles from Frome MOUNT PLEASANT FARM in Somerset is a mini-estate sitting pretty in 126 acres of land. The Grade II-listed stone country house, in need of modernisation, has six bedrooms, four reception rooms and a kitchen with an old bread oven. The village of Norton St Philip, a five-minute drive away; is home to the George Inn, one of the oldest taverns in the country (it was built to accommodate travellers and merchants journeying to the annual wool fairs held in the village from the 13th to 19th centuries). The price tag for the property, on the market through Chesterton Humberts (020 7594 4746) is £2.45 million.
The stately MYNDE ESTATE spans 1,180 acres and is found in the village of Much Dewchurch, seven miles outside Hereford. Considered one of the finest properties in the county, here in 2003 the Queen and Prince Philip hosted more than 3,000 guests, who nibbled on cucumber sandwiches in the grounds. The current owners are the Twiston-Davies family (Antonia, the daughter of Caroline and Audley Twiston-Davies, was the god-daughter of Princess Diana). On the market for offers in excess of £15 million through Knight Frank (0020 7861 1440), the property, which dates back to 1108, is accessed by a mile-long carriage drive through parkland. It comes with a Grade 1-listed manor house with 12 bedrooms and the dramatic 18th-century Kings Hall, which has 14 windows and was once described by Nikolaus Pevsner as the ‘finest room in Herefordshire’.
Where better to celebrate Hogmanay than the KILLEAN ESTATE – you could see in the New Year here if you complete the legalities in super-quick time. For sale for £7.5 million through Edinburgh branch of Smiths Gore (0131 344 0881), this Scottish fairy tale is found on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula, 19 miles from Campbeltown in Argyll. The centrepiece is a dramatic ten-bedroom Gothic mansion house, featuring walled gardens and woodlands, and 15 miles of coastline and sandy beaches. The estate is practically a self-contained village: in total there are 17 estate houses and cottages, many of which are rented out as holiday lets. There is also commercial forestry, loch and sea fishing and duck flighting as well as planning consent for a micro hydro scheme. Also included is a village shops, petrol station and hotel (currently closed). All in all the property spans 3,684 acres.
GREAT DURNFORD MANOR is a Grade II-listed manor house six miles from Great Durnford, Salisbury, and once home to the Tryon family. The exterior of the manor house, which dates back to the early 18th century, has been renovated but the inside needs work: it has been gutted and planning permission is in place to sculpt a new nine-bedroom house with five large reception rooms. Permission has also been granted to dig out a basement for a pool. On the market for £18.5 million through Savills (020 7409 8882), there is partridge and pheasant shooting, fishing, 1,019 acres of arable pasture and woodland, eight estate houses and cottages for staff accommodation or non-farming income revenue streams. The estate is also close to Bournemouth and Southampton airports. Alex Lawson of Savills describes it as ‘an outstanding mixed sporting estate with the exceptionally rare combination of chalk-stream fishing and game shooting’.
One of Scotland’s most famous estates, made even better known by the TV series Monarch of the Glen, has gone on the market for the first time in 200 years for £7 million through the Strutt & Parker agency (0131 226 2500). BALAVIL HOUSE, previously known as Kilwillie Castle, is spread over 6,846 acres near Kinguissie, Inverness. The estate offers visitors a chance to achieve a ‘Macnab’: to stalk a red deer, shoot a brace of grouse and catch a salmon, all in a single day. The estate has been owned by Allan Macpherson-Fletcher’s family since 1790 and consists of a Georgian mansion house, designed by Scottish architect Robert Adam – a stately-home specialist who also designed the Admiralty Arch at Whitehall and Kenwood House in London (not to be confused with the Robert Adam working on Nutbourne Park). Macpherson’s daughter, Juliet, married Sir David Brewster, an early Victorian scientist who invented the kaleidoscope.
Mythic terroirs for the festivities! A gastronomic Christmas! Domaine de la Bretesche, a place to discover! November diary! Wine Tasting Events! Looking down on London!
Mythic terroirs for the festivities!
Margaux, Saint-Emilion, Chablis and other mythic terroirs: Focus on the wines which will make your festivities sublime.