Our team on their favourite barbecue wines

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An image of barbecued gambas, which are delicious alongside our team's barbecue-friendly wines.
Photo credit: Joe Woodhouse

A garden barbecue is one of summer’s great social occasions. We asked five of our experts to share their top barbecue tip, as well as their favourite fine wine to match the occasion.   

A Bordelais barbecue  

What I cook 

Getting the barbecue out back home is very much a special occasion, mostly due to my family’s fastidiousness when it comes to the way we get it fired up. For that reason, a Côte de Boeuf tends to be what we cook on the barbecue. I say ‘we’ because my brother gets the credit for manning it while I assist (but mostly indulge). The meat has to be cooked rare. Once the first side is ready to turn, we spread over some thinly cut shallots and season to taste. It’s as simple as that. A jacket potato cooked in the embers and topped with crème fraîche and chives, or some grilled new potatoes, would both make brilliant sides. 

My barbecue tip 

Bordeaux vines famously make great wine, but they also come in handy for anything that requires burning wood. Vine shoots cut from the previous winter are an ideal base to get the fire going, while dead vine roots that had time to dry up to the summer provide perfect, long-lasting embers. Although delicious, it is slightly more laborious than electric or charcoal grills, hence why it makes for a special occasion chez moi

What to drink with it 

A Côte de Boeuf calls for a deep, intense reds. I’ve recently been pleased with the 2014 Ch. Belle-Vue, Haut-Médoc. The 20% Petit Verdot really makes it stand out, with velvety tannins and intense dark fruit notes – the perfect counterbalance to a Côte de Boeuf. The 2019 Langhe Nebbiolo would also pair superbly with this barbecue dish; with hints of berries and spice, delicate acidity and smooth tannins, the two would make a heavenly match. An added bonus is that both wines offer great value for money. 

Clara Bouffard, Senior Marketing Executive 

Lime gambas and Sauvignon Blanc  

What I cook   

Admittedly, I am not Mr Barbecue. I don’t have one of those carry cases with 30 implements in it and a neat shoulder strap for when you want to “barbecue on the move” – but I do find there are times when only a barbecue will do. I only ever cook de-boned lamb or very large gambas (prawns) because there really is no substitute for that barbecue flavour. 

My barbecue tip   

Consider it an extension of the kitchen, as opposed to something you have to roll out with great fanfare and use once or twice when temperatures rise above 30 degrees. For someone who is not a barbecue aficionado, I do have some strongly held principles: no gas allowed; use good quality charcoal; make sure the heat is high; spend time on your marinades; then drop it on and stand back. 

What to drink with it   

Well, here’s the million-dollar question. For the gambas – particularly with a coriander and lime marinade – Ch. Langlet’s 100% Sauvignon Blanc is ideal. As far as I am concerned, the grape reaches its apotheosis in Southwest France and would support the meaty gambas perfectly. For the lamb there are two options: Dean Hewitson’s Baby Bush from the Barossa Valley literally smells of roast lamb from the glass, making it a shoo-in; and a bright, herbaceous Nebbiolo from the Langhe is a good alternative for people who would prefer something less, well, meaty. 

Will Wrightson, Customer Marketing Manager 

Slow-cooked perfection  

What I cook 

Low and slow is the order of the day in our house – it’s not uncommon for dinner to spend more than 10 hours slowly cooking to juicy, melt-in-the-mouth perfection on the ceramic ‘kamado’ barbecue. That said, we see no shame in whipping out the gas when results are needed more quickly – especially on rainy days when standing by the grill is far less inviting. 

My barbecue tip   

One of my favourite side dishes is a zesty, spicy corn on the cob. It’s very easy: wrap par-boiled corn cobs in tin foil with butter, lime zest and juice, salt and some chilli. Cook them on the barbecue for 20 minutes, then finish off on the grill, basting them with the delicious juices until they’ve reached sweet, buttery perfection. 

What to drink with it   

Those Mexican-inspired corn on the cobs are the perfect accompaniment to pulled pork – with or without tacos. A rich Californian Chardonnay, like the Wild Boy Chardonnay from the late great Jim Clendenen would be just the ticket. And it even doubles up as little apéro to sip on while those cobs are caramelising. 

Emily Holden, Head of Brand and Marketing 

Wood smoke and black fruit 

What I cook 

I am currently enjoying the barbecue challenge that is smoked brisket. During lockdown I set myself a couple of cooking challenges: smoked brisket and sourdough bread. As an engineer by education, what attracts me to these two is they require a combination of artisanal skill and science. For the smoked brisket, you have to manage the chemical reactions from the heat and smoke, while striving not to lose moisture. 

My barbecue tip   

While I will not claim to have perfected this, I will pass on what I have learned, mostly though making mistakes. Firstly, use big chunks of wood alongside the charcoal; the tiny chips that most barbecue centres sell will burn through far too quickly, even when soaked. Secondly, add a tray of water to the barbecue. Put it under the grill, beneath the meat, but not too close to the charcoal. This keeps the brisket from drying out and turning into a lump of beef jerky. Lastly keep the rub simple: lots of salt and pepper is all you need for a quality brisket. 

What to drink with it   

Now for the wine. I’ve chosen 2019 Bolgheri, Rosso, from Grattamacco in Tuscany for two reasons. One: it is simply delicious. Two: to bring to your attention a wine you’d probably expect to be too young to drink now. Initially, there’s a strong herbal nose – but just give it 15 minutes to settle down, and wonderful black fruit notes leap forward. This is an amazingly smooth and well-integrated wine, considering its age and pedigree – only Sassicaia has been making wine in Bolgheri longer. Enjoy it this summer or over the next three to four years.  

Simon Robins, Senior Commercial Manager 

Explore the full selection of our team’s favourites here.

Category: Food & Wine,What we're drinking

Three bottles to savour this summer

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A photo of two wines and a spirit sitting atop a beech table, against a backdrop of green houseplants.
Photo credit: Joe Woodhouse

In the third instalment of our summer series, we asked our team which bottle they can’t wait to open over the coming weeks. They’ve each chosen a bottle that brings back memories from before the pandemic, from Mexican adventures to Icelandic storms. 

A Mexican summer 

After a summer vacation to Mexico, I fell in love with this alluring spirit. After many cocktails and neat samples tasted at some majestic beachfront bars, I quickly realised this was the true drink of Mexico. The comparisons between Mezcal and Tequila are obvious: both spirits are made from the agave plant, but whilst Tequila can only be made from 100% Blue Agave, Mezcal has free rein over a plethora of other agave plants. Often these unashamedly traditional Mexican drink producers create fascinating blends with these spiky slow-growing succulents – such as this fifty-fifty blend of Espadín and Madrecuishe by Convite. 

Immediately you are encountered with a sweetly scented smokiness that many an Islay Scotch drinker will be familiar with. An earthy and herbaceous character, typical for Mezcal, shines through on the palate, alongside soft citrus notes to round everything off – a satisfyingly smooth and refreshing tipple. 

I like to enjoy this neat, perhaps even slightly chilled from time in the fridge, but you could also have this over ice to enjoy in the sun. For the more adventurous, try it with mango juice and a dash of lime. A jug of this would surely get the garden party in full swing. Mezcal is often overlooked, but if it’s good enough in the heat of Mexico, it’s good enough for the great British summer. 

Joe Hare, Senior Wine & Spirits Advisor 

On the road to Pauillac  

I’ve chosen the 2015 Les Tourelles de Longueville, one of Ch. Pichon Baron’s two second wines.  

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Bordeaux’s D2 road – the “route des Châteaux” from the city to the Médoc peninsula – is how unremarkable much of it is. This is not particularly beautiful wine country. But there are some highlights, none better than when travelling north on the stretch of road that connects St Julien and Pauillac. With the walled clos of Léoville Las Cases on your right-hand side, you could almost be in Burgundy. Keep going, and Léoville turns into Latour: you can see parts of it; the tower here, the château there. Excitement builds. Up next, a peak at Pichon Comtesse: I picture turrets through trees. But considering these are three of the greatest wineries in the world, you’ll hopefully forgive me for saying that this side of the D2 here is actually a little understated, a little subtle. 

Shift your attention (responsibly) to the other side of the road, and there’s your showstopper: Pichon Baron. It looks a bit like Palmer, which you’ll have passed 20-minutes-or-so ago (thank their shared architect, Charles Burguet). But Pichon Baron is bigger, bolder and louder. It’s got big, grand turrets; there’s a water-pool in front that’d give Bordeaux city’s miroir d’eau a run for its money. I first laid eyes on the place sometime around October 2015 – shortly after the grapes for Les Tourelles were harvested. I’ve properly visited two or three times since and pointed it out to every single person I’ve ever passed it with. Just thinking about it now, I can feel the unforgiving heat of late summer in the Médoc. 

Les Tourelles is named for the château’s iconic turrets (tourelles). With 55% Merlot, this isn’t exactly typical Pauillac. The fruit comes primarily from a dedicated plot, Sainte Anne, that lies further inland from the Gironde than that for the grand vin. The wine has some of those hallmark graphite and blackcurrant notes, but there’s also blueberry, dark chocolate and smooth, mouthcoating tannins. It’s medium- to full-bodied and lively, with mouth-watering acidity and energy.  

Pauillac may not scream “summer” to most people. But I’m not most people. While the grand vin here is something of a monster, Les Tourelles is – for me at least – a wonderful summer wine. It’s got the structure, acidity and tannin to deal with most barbecue staples, but it’s lively and energetic enough to enjoy with an apéro among friends. 

Charlie Geoghegan, Senior Copywriter  

Board games and Burgundy

This story will take us to a time before the pandemic. Me and my wife Zahra had gone to celebrate the New Year in my native Iceland. Icelandic weather, as most can imagine, is very unpredictable in winter months. We just made it in nick of time. But as it happened, we got stuck in my old hometown. The brutal Icelandic winter had struck again. Although we were with family, we had a prior engagement with our friends in Reykjavik – something we had been looking forward to for months – but Mother Nature said no.

When we finally made it in bad weather (good enough to travel in, but still not great) one of our good friends made quick arrangements to get as many people together as possible. Then came a beautiful surprise. My friend brought a bottle of 2018 Camille Giroud Bourgogne Rouge – it was so crunchy and delicate, yet inviting at the same time. After our ordeal, nothing was more welcome than playing board games with your friends over a glass of warming red Burgundy – especially a wine made by Camille Giroud. Despite my fond memory of enjoying this wine in the winter, its delicate fruitiness is perfect for summer. I really can’t wait to open it again and enjoy it with my Zahra on a warm evening.  

Siggi Gunnlaugsson, Wine & Spirits Advisor  

Read the first part of our summer fine wine series here, and the second part here.

Category: Miscellaneous

Introducing: Buyers’ highlights

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A cartoon by Pugh showing a member of Berry Bros. & Rudd staff holding up a glass of bubbles
Illustration by Pugh
Picture the scene: you’re in a restaurant and the wine waiter hands over the list. It’s the size of War and Peace: do you a) dance an inward jig of delight, and settle back to peruse what’s available, or b) after a cursory glance, turn to the sommelier for advice? Sometimes, too much choice is just – well – too much. And it’s why we’ve brought together a shortlist of our favourite wines in our Buyers’ highlights. Mark Pardoe MW tells us more.

We know that the world of wine can be complicated. Our website has a huge amount of wines on offer, and the choice can be overwhelming. It’s one of the reasons why our Own Selection range is so popular.

But we have so many more wonderful wines to show you. This is why we’ve cherry-picked a selection of bottles within our range of wines under £50, called Buyers’ highlights. It will hold about 100 wines at any one time. In the selection, you will find an example of pretty much every wine style you could want. The highlights are across a range of prices and organised by colour and style.

The wines that are featured are not necessarily any better than other wines on bbr.com, but they are really good examples of their style and type. We’ve done the work to make your choice easier. If you want to look at all our other options, of course, they are all only a click away. But we know sometimes our customers just want to keep it simple.

Everything in our Buyers’ highlights is available by the bottle and is ready to drink now – although all good wines are able to develop a little. As a wine runs out, or we choose to replace a line, the selection will change. This means there will always be something new to try.

And if you still can’t make up your mind, we’ve put together a seasonal Buyers’ highlights mixed case. This 12-bottle selection includes some real gems (like Benjamin Leroux’s textbook Bourgogne Rouge). As a little extra incentive, it includes a small discount on the individual bottle prices.

You can browse the full list of Buyers’ highlights here.

Category: Bordeaux Wine,Burgundy Wine,Champagne and Sparkling Wine,Curated selection,English Wine,Italian Wine,Miscellaneous

Expert advice on visiting Bordeaux

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Bordeaux city streets, photographed by Jason Lowe
Photograph by Jason Lowe

This evening, the UK’s school children will be delightedly contemplating the long summer ahead. But, for many of us, our dream holiday isn’t yet possible. If you’re pining (or planning) for international travel, we have a bit of escapism at hand. Here, we talk with Adam Stebbings, of luxury wine travel company SmoothRed, about why Bordeaux is the perfect wine destination.

Adam’s family has been rooted in the wine industry for many generations, importing wines from Bordeaux. Inspired by his twin passions of wine and travel, he founded SmoothRed in 2004.

The company’s raison d’etre is putting together bespoke itineraries for vinous tours of the world’s finest fine wine spots. Here, he shares a few gems about what to see, eat, drink and enjoy when in Bordeaux.

There are many beautiful wine regions in the world – why visit Bordeaux?

My clients travel all over the world, but always come back to Bordeaux. It’s iconic. You’ve got 10,000 châteaux split across the various appellations. And there is so much depth to explore: the Left Bank versus the Right Bank; microclimates; the different classifications – it’s hard to beat. People are always surprised by the size of Bordeaux: going from the city up to St Estèphe takes the best part of an hour and a half – it’s massive! And the sheer size of the properties on the Left Bank versus the smaller family domaines on the Right Bank.

If you’ve only got two nights, you’ve got to be pretty focused about what you want to get out of a trip.

What do I need to know about planning my itinerary?

This isn’t Napa – you can’t just nip into five properties in a day; you’ll need to be a bit more planned, and know what time you’re able to visit the estates you’re interested in. And of course, not all of them are open to visitors. Remember to talk to the properties you’re hoping to visit in the week, not at weekends. Planning a month or so in advance is ideal because properties don’t have long-lead calendars. Also, not all properties are open to visitors, and the experiences on offer can be very variable: some have more tourist-focused generic tours, while some have really wonderful hosts that bring the châteaux to life.

Often, it’s a question of relationships with the property: some of the experiences are the type that “money can’t buy”. This is where we’re really able to help clients plan their dream experiences – from long lunches to intimate tours. Things are done in a very Bordelaise way.

Where are your favourite places to go?

Ch. Brane-Cantenac has to be a favourite. Also Ch. Troplong Mondot – they have a couple of Land Rovers and we can drive out into the vineyards and do wonderful picnic lunches there with a chef. Ch. Haut-Bailly is wonderful for lunches. And we can organise incredible vertical tastings at Ch. Les Carmes Haut-Brion.

I’m a big fan of Ch. Pontet-Canet and have had wonderful tastings there over the years. Personally speaking, lunches at Ch. Pichon Lalande really stand out. We know them well, and in the past, I’ve been fortunate to have the keys to the cellar there to select the wines we’ll enjoy.

Ch. Lafite is amazing – an iconic, wonderful place to visit, but you need to be flexible in terms of arranging a visit.

The cellars at Ch. Lafite, with barrels fanning out from central columns at the heart of the circular room.
The awe-inspiring cellars at Ch. Lafite. Photograph: Francois-Poincet

What’s the best bit of advice you can give, and what would a typical trip look like?

Don’t rush it. You’ll need three nights to really experience Bordeaux. Imagine, on day one, flying into the Médoc: I’d advise starting in, say, Cos d’Estournel or somewhere in the north, and working your way back down through Pauillac and Margaux. Again, take your time: you want to see the port in Pauillac and experience the places you’re in. Then finish the day in Bordeaux with a big dinner in the evening.  

The following day, we’d be up early over to the Right Bank – perhaps doing Pessac on the way, and then work through the Right Bank. Don’t rush St Emilion – take some time in the vineyards, but also in the town itself. There’s so much on offer. We can help by handpicking your châteaux, restaurants and hotels to make it a seamless experience.

What’s the one thing I should eat on my trip to Bordeaux? 

The canelé is one of the specialities of Bordeaux, linked to the history of the city and its wines, as the pastry is made of egg yolk (the white was used in the wine for clarification). Historically, châteaux would use the yolk for making this little cake. It is perfumed with rum, vanilla and sugar cane – another link with the past. Bordeaux’s port received imported goods from the Caribbean islands; a good place to enjoy them is Café Baillardran.

Also, duck in its various iterations – from magret de canard to confit de canard – is always a must in the South-West. I also like to include oysters, given Bordeaux’s proximity to Arcachon and Cap Ferret.

If you’re keen to try an old-school Bordeaux speciality, la lamproie à la Bordelaise (lamprey eel) is a devilishly unique and historic dish! Be warned, this is not for everyone and the preparation itself is quite gruesome.

Can you recommend a spot for drinks?

I love my cheese, so Baud et Millet is always good fun for a homely pairing experience, and the atmosphere is unmatched.

Aux Quatre Coins du Vin and Le Wine Bar are always great for a glass or two with excellent charcuterie plates. Rue Saint-Rémi in the city centre and the Place des Chartrons are certainly worth exploring.

Which is your favourite hotel when you want more than just a base?

Hôtel de Sèze is our favourite four-star boutique and it’s ideally central for exploring the city, or the Grand Hotel if you are looking for a luxury five-star option. Or, if you think you might prefer a vineyard stay, what about Les Sources de Caudalie? It’s owned by the Cathiard family (they also own Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte opposite the hotel).

What about a go-to store for some retail therapy?

La Maison Badie is very good for wine, founded in 1880 by Madame Badie in the sumptuous 18th-century building close to Place Tourny.

Rue Notre Dame in the Chartrons district is well known for boutiques and antiques if you’re looking to unearth a treasure.

Is there an experience that everyone should try before heading home?

While Bordeaux is a delight to discover on foot, taking the tram is also very easy. I suggest wandering down to the river in the morning to the Place de la Bourse and taking the riverboat to La Cité du Vin, a multi-experiential wine museum that tantalises the senses. Just in front of it, you’ll find Les Halles de Bacalan, a great spot for Sunday brunch after your visit.

If you’re interested in planning a trip to Bordeaux – or beyond – get in touch with Adam here.

Category: Bordeaux Wine,Food & Wine,Old World