Everyone agrees that the simple things in life tend to be the best ones. And when it comes to marrying the right food and wine combinations, there is nothing better. But it’s a tricky old business and for years I worked with top chefs and sommeliers, trying to work out the ultimate combos, so often failing. More often than not, we settled for ‘satisfactory’ combinations. Which is why it is the ultimate joy when you hit upon perfection – like a Blue Moon, perfection doesn’t happen very often so we shout about it when it does.
Here’s one that Jude came up with the other day in anticipation of our Lockdown Live event for Race Against Dementia (Wed 4th Nov 7pm) and wow, were we blown away. The secret is in the curing of the egg – the texture of the yolk becomes rich, creamy and substantial – if you’ve never tried this, give it a go. It’s a mind-blower!
Yup, you heard it right, and we’ve just started listing it.
For those of you who know us well, you’ll know that Hannibal’s World HQ is based in the heart of Worcester Park, right round the corner from our very own ‘Hamptons’ residence (it’s true, there is a lookie-likie Hamptons in Worcester Park!).
And so when Jon Bon Jovi blasted onto the UK with a pale pink wine called ‘Hampton Water‘, well, we had no choice but take a look.
It’s quite a story…. JBJ has a winemaker pal in the south of France who just happens to be a rather good former rugby player and now known as the ‘King’ of the Languedoc. Gérard Bertrand really is a formidable power behind the rosé movement and is producing sensational wines (he even produces a rosé that fetches £200 a bottle – we won’t be listing that one though). Indeed, the Hampton Water Rosé has just been awarded GOLD in the Global Rosé Masters Awards.
This is high-ranking, high quality rosé and one to be seen sipping on this summer. Residents of the Hamptons really do drink it like ‘Water’. Go on, you know you want to… Hampton Water Rosé>
Today sees the launch of a new listing for us from a super producer, based in the stunning Paarl region of the South African Winelands.
Anyone who has taken time to visit the wineries of the Western Cape will know that the region is arguably one of the gems of the wine world. My first venture to South Africa was in the Year 2000, when sanctions had only recently been lifted, and expertise was joined with excitement in the development of their wine industry. Throughout the apartheid era, a co-operative (KWV) monopolised the industry, and whilst volume was not inconsiderable, quality was lacking in most areas. Insufficient funding to sustain wineries, poor winemaking and often lack of hygiene were all contributors to a nation’s wine industry that was lagging way behind the buoyant Aussies and Kiwi production that we have come to love so much.
Those days are in the past, and South Africa these days is well positioned in the everyday, less expensive category, right up to the best of the boutique range. And we Brits can’t get enough of them. I for one am amongst their #1 fans – how a country could turn an industry in such a short space of time has to be admired. Visiting those Winelands time and again is a joy that everyone who has a penchant for wine and travel should explore. (Give me a shout if you want any advice on where to go.)
Our latest additions – a white and a red known as Jonty’s Ducks have a delightful story. Organic is their middle name – just watch this video and our web-footed friends and you’ll be instantly charmed. As for the wine, well if this isn’t worth a look, then….
Find the wines here>
Those of you ‘in-the-know’, or just simply local to Loseley House will be familiar with its history of producing the irrisistible Cornish ice-cream.
From the milk of the local grazing cows, Loseley has been synonymous with this small delight since the ’60s and the brand continues its success to this day.
Question is, does wine sit comfortably with ice cream? Answer: not very often. But I can honestly say that there is one wine that stands out and is an absolute must with the vanilla variety – Campbells Topaque from Australia.
Topaque is the Australian lingo for Tokaji (same grape, different name) and at this time of year, we love to shout its virtues, poured neatly over vanilla ice cream. The wine is deep, honeyed and thick – fortified to 18% ABV, it has some punch but still retains it sprightly elegance.
We are exhibiting at the Loseley Christmas Fair this year and are hopeful that we’ll have an opportunity to show-case this glorious wine. If the ice cream is to hand, we’ll even offer the combo and hope that visitors to the event agree with our serving suggestion. (Indeed, if you’re not an ice-cream fanatic, Campbells Topaque also favours a good old Christmas pud!)
Nestled down in Godalming, Surrey, in the depths of the Surrey countryside, Loseley House is well worth a visit. The gardens of this old manor house are particularly spectacular, whatever time of the year. Loseley Christmas Fair is on from Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th November, 9am to 5pm everyday. Hannibal will be out in full force, offering visitors the chance to try seasonal wines with hand-made cheese delights from our old friends at the Orsom Dairy. Not forgetting our unique Christmas gift idea of personalising wines on the spot. Hope you can join us!
Here’s a story that you might find interesting…
Once upon a time, there was famous shopkeeper who took over the ownership of a biiiigggg, big shop in Knightsbridge. He was an interesting fellow – short and rotund (that’s as far as the Mr Benn resemblance goes) with a funny accent, neurotic and lacking in sense of humour. He was miserly on the one hand, but generous on the other and it wasn’t long before he decided that his wine department needed a re-furbishment.
So yours truly went to work with the help of the shop-owner’s architect and design studio and together, we designed a state-of-the-art, all singing, all dancing new-look wine department to be proud of. The new look department now truly reflected the value of the shopkeeper’s store and everyone was delighted with the result, including the neurotic shopkeeper.
When the department was complete, scores of winery owners visited and enjoyed a lavish launch party. All were happy and many glasses of Champagne were consumed to celebrate the opening.
Except one winemaker, who noticed that the Spanish and Portuguese categories had been listed together by joined overhead signage. “How can this be?”, he asked, pointing to the signage. “Since when were Spain and Portugal treated as one?”
And he had a point… these two countries may well be Iberian neighbours, but that’s about all they share as far as their wines are concerned.
I was prompted to recall this story because of two wines that sprung to mind this week – one from Ribera del Duero, the other from Alentejo. What do they have in common? Absolutely nothing – except that they are both glorious creations that I wanted to draw your attention to!
A long-winded blog, but I got there in the end! Oh, and not forgetting the irked winemaker in the Knightsbridge store, he should fear no more – the wine dept has changed beyond recognition and his wine is no longer listed – big shame.
After countless years in the wine business, I hope I might be forgiven for not going bonkers over every single wine I taste. But there is the odd occasion where I bounce off the walls with joy at discovering a new addition. And this is one of them – an organic, bio-dynamic wine from Saumur Champigny in the Loire valley in northern France.
Saumur Champigny is renowned for its red wines (made using Cabernet Franc) and Thierry Germain of Domaine des Roches Neuves has come up with one that filled me with pleasure the other evening. A light (my personal preference) , fruit-driven red that wrapped itself around me and made me smile from the inside. Cabernet Franc is such an interesting grape, quite alternative and for those who haven’t experienced it before, give this one a go, be patient and watch how it grows on you.
What’s more, Monsieur Germain not only works organically, he also adopts bio-dynamic farming principles – a wonderfully natural wine and perfect for the (relatively) warm autumn months.
Hopefully you’ll be aware that our latest wine tasting event under the ‘Hannibal Brown Presents….’ series is looming large. Taking place on 12th October, Cabernet & Cacao will be an evening of discovery into the best wine and chocolate pairings money can buy.
So in the name of preparation (and not wishing to go into this blind), we’ve been busy all this week guzzling on various wines and matching them with different grades of delicious chocolate, all supplied by our good friends at Harry’s Chocolate Emporium in Tooting.
But disaster struck this morning, as business meetings got in the way of personal responsibility to Scrumpy, our nutty little Spaniel who, in our short absence, also decided to have a shot at chocolate tasting.
And here’s the interesting point…. we deduced from the empty wrappers strewn across the carpet that she (like us) is less keen on the higher sugar/high cocoa butter content of certain chocs, preferring instead the higher tannin, higher cacao, more bitter style. So, we have a discerning, healthy hound that, given half a chance, would probably ransack the cellar for the best Bordeaux wines too!
Join us on the 12th – we’ll be at the newly opened Tara Arts Theatre from 6pm onwards. We’ll be showing our personalised wine ideas for Christmas and will also be launching our Christmas wine gift range.
Important note to dog-owners : chocolate nor wine is good for hounds, so steer clear at all times.
Is it over? The south east of England has been blessed with dry warm weather these past weeks, providing for perfect BBQ weather and my all time favourite pork ribs in ‘mama’s homemade sauce’. With one toe on the hosepipe, watering the suffering lawn, what better way to while away the cooking hours with an array of rose and white wines to hand.
On the other hand, there’s always that ‘dodgy’ bottle that’s been knocking around for yonks that just-needs-drinking. Last night’s tipple was thanks to my good friend Jo, the dentist, who recently asked for an evaluation of some French 2005s she’d picked up some years ago. Now, dentists are renowned for enjoying the odd decent tipple, and so, anticipating a host of delicious Right Banks/Left Banks, it seemed that Jo had ‘cocked it up’ for want of a better phrase. Alas, none of the wines had any merit to them, other than the last hope of ‘reasonableness’ from a very good vintage.
I left Jo’s dentistry with a 2005 white in my clutches (yes, white!) and this was what we cracked open last night. A 2005 ‘vinifie en futs de chene’ – aka barrel-fermented Sauvignon/Semillon blend. I was semi-hopeful as much as fearful of the contents. Well, the colour was a very attractive psychedelic translucent yellow. Promising start… The flavours? An exaggerated oakyness, fuelled by an anticipated oxidative character and finally a hue of aged fruit ripeness. It was super-chilled (out the freezer) and all in all not bad. So thanks Jo, for turning my head on what I’d expected to be an inferior, knackered old Bordeaux. It wasn’t!
For more on unusual whites, follow this link>
During a recent visit to the gastronomic region of Italy, Emilia Romagna, we stumbled across a wine which we really weren’t expecting – and it was everywhere!
But first, the food. Bologna is the real foodie capital of Italy, with the local Tortellini, Lasagne and Tagiatelli on every menu in town. Just up the road is Modena – the home of Balsamic Vinegar. Then 40 minutes further west (north-west) is Parma – you guessed it, Parma Ham and Parmesan cheese.
We visited Monte Delle Vigne, outside a town called Ozzano Taro (20km from Parma). This is a modern and spacious property, the vines looked in great condition and the state of the art winery was very impressive. They produce a number of high quality wines here but what we were interested was their Lambrusco(s).
Now why does this word strike fear into our hearts? Is it due to the similarly named Lambrini? The ‘Urban Dictionary’s’ definition of which is amusingly as follows: “Lambrini is cheapo wine that is around 7% and its only about £2.00 Mainly drunk by chavs because they cant afford any decent sort of beverage.”
That aside, Lambrusco is a red grape of which there are around 60 different varieties – similar to Muscat in that sense. The grape skins carry a rich pigment which produces ruby coloured wines, whose foam can only be likened to cherryade.
We were interested in their most traditional style wine, ‘I Calanchi’, which is made from Lambrusco Colli di Parma. This wine is totally dry – whereas some of the scary Lambruscos we had dared to taste in Bologna were much sweeter. Actually, pleasantly surprised. Served at a nice chilled 12 degrees or so with some delicious Parma Ham and Parmesan, this wine was actually very pleasant and made for a nice change.
You will see in the video below that we were actually slightly frightened by the look of it, but, don’t be, if you see it, it’s really worth a go.
See our video here: https://youtu.be/vcHPoElszy
The big day is 17th April!
Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (the 7th president of Argentina) is the man to thank. In 1853 he decided it was time to kick the Argentinian wine industry into action! On the 17th April 1853 he submitted a proposal which would put Argentina on the world wine map.
It was that year, 1853, that the Malbec grape was introduced to Argentina. 10 years later the Phylloxera plague started killing off vines all across Europe and the Malbec vines in the Southern Rhone were taking a real battering. Whilst that was happening, the vines in Argentina were adapting to the varied soil types and were starting to produce Malbec wines which were better than those from its homeland of France.
By the 1950s, Argentina was the only country left growing original Malbec vines of French origin. The Malbec wines of France were hard and tannic, and the wine was quite often used for blending – just a small percentage added to other grape varieties to give those wines some tannic structure.
The Malbec wines of Argentina (especially the Mendoza region) are world famous, the wines are fruity, approachable, well balanced and offer a spectrum of styles. From light and fruity to the more serious wines, aged in oak and with much raging potential.
Argentina is now easily the biggest Malbec producer in the world with 76,600 acres of vineyards planted across the country, followed next by France’s 13,100 acres.
So, it’s time to crack open a bottle and raise a glass to the Argentinians for the amazing transformation of this world class grape variety.
We often show Malbec wines at our wine tasting events, if you fancy a fun evening with your friends or event a get together with your colleagues then we would be happy to tell you all about our wine tasting events, simply get in touch.
Taking Hannibal on his winter hols is always a treat. Leaving the depths of winter in favour of the warmer climes of the Canaries this January proved not only a perfect break but a delve into some intriguing new wine discoveries.
Had we not opted to ‘dangle’ Hannibal off the end of a kite surf of the coast of Fuerteventura, or give him a daily trouncing in the plentiful surf around the island, we would still be in total Canarian wine ignorance. Yet the islands are alive with inexpensive wine curios that leave most of their imported counterparts for qualitative dust.
The Canaries, unsurprisingly import pretty much everything. Way down in the south Atlantic, a stone’s throw from Africa, you can rely on year-round warmth (the temperature never dips below 18 degrees, even at night!), but you cannot rely on the prawns and calamari – frozen, tasteless and a real disappointment*.
As for wine, it’s Senor Torres of mainland Spanish fame who has a handle on wine consumption here. There’s even Torres Olive Oil and Torres Balsamic vinegar to dip in your bread! But we opted for sampling the local grog and in so doing, not only saved money (Torres – you are getting unnecessarily pricey, Sir) but enjoyed an array of flavoursome dry whites made from the local and widely abundant Malvasia grape.
The Canarians know a thing or two about winemaking – they’ve been growing grapes for hundreds of years to worldwide acclaim. The sweet styles were highly sought after in 15th to 18th centuries and the likes of Shakespeare and Agatha Christie amongst others make reference in their respective novels.
We steered clear of the roses, fearful of the luminescence of many(!) and only sampled a handful of reds (the climate lends itself best to refreshing whites). Our two favourites by far were a mouthfulling Lanzarote Malvasia from El Grifo that packs a refreshing punch; and in particular a Listan Blanco (grape used in dry Sherry) from Bodega Tajinaste, farmed up in the high, cooler hills. Both were enjoyed with *home-prepared fresh prawns in garlic & chilli (thank goodness for self-catering) and both clearly favour fish dishes in a thumpingly well prepared garlic based jus.
Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are renowned for high winds, making both watersports and growing grapes a bit of a challenge. But Canarians masters at both and when not riding their very own Kahuna, hey’re busy protecting their vines from the elements to ensure clean, dry, impressively well valued wines. Check out Bodega Tajinaste here>
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