Mailly, the Grand Cru village


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Champagne Mailly, the collective of growers in the Grand Cru village

Our Champagne Buyer Davy Zyw gives us a taste of the extraordinary village of Mailly, home to our Own Selection Champagne

In the heart of the Montagne de Reims you’ll find Mailly, a 100% Grand Cru village. This means the family-grown grapes in this beautiful north-facing village are some of the best in the whole of the Champagne region.

Pinot Noir is dominant here: the grape gives the village’s wines the pure red fruit and spice characters, and the mineral freshness, that are Mailly’s signature style.

Grown on a bedrock of raw chalk, each parcel of sustainably grown vines is vinified separately to accentuate its terroir.

A sustainable wine; a sustainable way of life

Champagne Mailly, a collective of families, is a remarkable producer. They have already converted many of their vineyards to organic; all are farmed sustainably. They work without pesticides or herbicides, and therefore the vines are healthier, produce better grapes, create better Champagnes and encourages organic diversity amongst the vines.

Each vine is naturally surrounded by wild flowers, buzzing with insects and birds, there is true ecological balance. Production too is increasingly sustainable, we have recently changed the source of our glass bottles, to benefit the environment and lower our carbon footprint.

But the sustainability of the Mailly Champagne winery runs deeper into the chalk bedrock of the Montagne de Reims than the vines themselves. Each family member in the village of Mailly is an intrinsic part of the winery, and every family has ownership and involvement in the vines, the wines and how they are made.

This is why our UKC is truly sustainable, it keeps generations of Champagne lovers quenched with the finest bubbles of the region. And protects the livelihoods of the families and future generations of the Mailly village.

Find out more about our Own Selection Champagne here.

Category: Miscellaneous

Our United Kingdom Cuvée


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The perfect party wine: a glass of our UKC Champagne

From its curious little nickname – UKC – to its Grand Cru credentials, our Own Selection Champagne is a wine of hidden depths. Here, Geordie Willis takes a closer look

If you were ever to happen across a dusty copy of the Autumn 1955 issue of our Number Three magazine, you might find the following description of our own-label United Kingdom Cuvée Champagne (affectionately known to all as “UKC”):

“This is a dry wine which can be most strongly recommended for parties, wedding receptions and similar functions. It is, however, much superior to most of the so-called ‘Party Champagnes’ that are often offered at very low prices and which normally have little to recommend them except their cheapness.”

The article does not divulge which houses were the providers of these sub-par social lubricants, but I suspect that a modern audience will recognise them from many a drinks party or gallery opening. The surprising truth is that one does not need to pay the earth for good quality Champagne. Apart from selling the wines of the famous shippers, British wine merchants have always shipped and sold Champagne under their own special brand name and label. These ‘own label’ wines can be offered at lower prices than the Grandes Marques while still offering tremendous quality.

Grand Cru pedigree

Our United Kingdom Cuvée (so-called because it was a cuvée created for the United Kingdom and not to be confused with English sparkling wine) is sourced from the prestigious Grand Cru village of Mailly, located at the heart of the Montagne de Reims. Benefiting from over three years’ ageing, the wine is a classic blend of 75 percent Pinot Noir and 25 percent Chardonnay. It’s a non-vintage style, which simply means the wines in the blend are from a number of different vintages (this provides a consistent style year on year). All the hallmarks of a Grand Cru are found alongside what we believe is a genuine sense of place. While there will always be a market for the “Party Champagnes” mentioned above, we think that the greatest wines express a recognisable terroir and a sense of identity. This should be no different with Champagne.

Start as you mean to go on

If you are ever invited to lunch or dinner at No.3 St James’s Street there is every likelihood that you will be served UKC on arrival. It is, we believe, the perfect aperitif, with freshly baked brioche and flowers on the nose, followed by lemon grass, gingerbread and honeysuckle on the palette. It is the ideal precursor to any meal and will whet the appetite for whatever vinous offerings are to follow, whether that’s a first growth or a bottle of Good Ordinary Claret.

You can find out more about our Own Selection Champagne here

Category: Miscellaneous

Daftmill: finding the perfect cask


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Photograph: Johnny McMillan

As we celebrate the release of the latest exclusive single-cask from Fife-based whisky distiller Daftmill, Jonny McMillan explains how we settled on the perfect cask on a visit to the distillery.

In Daftmill’s sleepy warehouses in Fife, 1,000 casks of the acclaimed distiller’s exquisite Lowland malt whisky are lying in wait. Soon, just eight of them will be released as single casks. Which brings with it the question: how does a distiller go about deciding which casks are showing to their full potential? Which have developed just the right balance, complexity and maturity to leave the warehouse in their purest form? And more to the point, when a retailer is choosing just one for an exclusive release, how do they know when they’ve found the perfect candidate?

In simple terms, the answer, of course, is to taste them. And, to select the single cask for Berry Bros. & Rudd’s exclusive new release from the distillery, that’s precisely what we did: driving through the idyllic Fifeshire countryside to spend an afternoon with co-founder Francis Cuthbert, and clambering around the distillery’s warehouses to draw out samples to taste. A few days later, armed with around 15 cask samples, our Retail Spirits Buyer Rob Whitehead and I spent an afternoon tasting the selection in St James’s. And, while all the samples had superb character, in the end it came down to two casks, an ex-Pedro Ximénez hogshead and an ex-oloroso butt, both filled in 2009. 

The PX cask was exceptionally juicy and full of rich dried fruit, though perhaps contrary to expectation it had a little more balance, with plenty of distillery character shining through on the nose. The oloroso butt was undeniably sublime; muscular, thick, spicy and quite mesmerising. Unable to choose between them, we instead opted for both: the PX cask is a forthcoming BB&R exclusive, and the oloroso butt will be a UK exclusive that’s available from selected retailers across the UK.

Many retailers have made the pilgrimage to Daftmill’s warehouse from across the globe to select casks this year, and with good reason. Among them has been Whisk-e from Japan, Kirsch from Germany, Le Maison du Whisky from France. They’ve also welcomed the notorious blogger Ralfy in collaboration with The Good Spirits Co, as well as The Whisky Shop and fellow Fife-based Abbey Whisky. Everyone was looking for something slightly different: while Le Maison du Whisky chose a deep, brooding 2009 oloroso butt full of luscious sherry character, Abbey Whisky selected a 2007 ex-bourbon barrel that exemplifies Daftmill’s signature Lowland fruity complexity. Each cask is unique, and all are seriously good drams.

These casks will be released steadily over the next few months from their respective retailers in various countries, and I’d encourage speed in picking one up when they’re released, as they’re unlikely to be available for long. If you do manage to secure one – or indeed if you’re one of the lucky winners of our ballot to buy a bottle – be sure to open it and enjoy it. As we know better than anyone, it’s a truly rare privilege.

Less than 300 bottles of the new Daftmill 2009 PX Single Cask release are available. For your chance to secure one, enter the ballot here.

Category: Miscellaneous,Spirits

Midsummer feasts: coronation chicken


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Photograph: Joe Woodhouse

Brave the drizzle, pack up the wicker basket and set your sights on a superior picnic. And be sure to include our Head Chef’s coronation chicken – a retro classic that’s perfect for al fresco feasts

Coronation chicken has had its ups and downs since its original inception as a dish to celebrate the Queen’s coronation. It gave Britain a much-needed culinary lift in those thrifty post-war years. Cool enough now to hold retro cachet, it has made a bit of a comeback in recent years; but, whether in fashion or not, it is a dish that I love. Not only is it so versatile – as a canapé, snack, sandwich-filling or picnic must – but it can be adapted (at Berry Bros. & Rudd we do a crab version that makes a lovely dinner-party starter). Above all else it’s absolutely delicious. It is often made with leftovers, which I think does it a bit of a disservice; I like to make mine with a freshly roasted chicken that has been dusted with spices.

Coronation chicken
  • 1 chicken
  • 2 onions – one peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 chilli – de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic – two peeled and finely chopped, three smashed
  • 1 lemon – halved
  • 2 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • A good splash of white wine
  • 50g dried apricots – diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 50g mango chutney – chopped through

Peel and thickly slice one of the onions and place in a roasting tray. Stuff the chicken cavity with the lemon, thyme and three cloves of garlic. Season well and drizzle with olive oil. Massage in half the spices. Place the chicken on top of the onions and roast at 180?C for about an hour, until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked. Remove from the roasting tray and allow to cool. Retain the onions with the chicken and deglaze the tray with a good splash of white wine, scraping the tray to remove any sediment. Set to one side.

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the remaining onion, chilli and garlic for about five minutes. Add the remaining spices and allow to cook for two to three minutes. Add the liquor from the roasting tray and, once reduced by half, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once cool enough to touch, strip the chicken from the bones, dicing down any large chunks. Chop the onions that were cooked with the chicken and place in a mixing bowl. Add the diced onion, spice mix, mayonnaise and mango chutney. Season to taste. Finish with the chopped herbs and dried apricots and chill well.

Serve sprinkled with poppadum crumbs and fresh mango salsa for a truly great picnic experience.

What to drink: We’re convinced Beaujolais is the ultimate picnic wine (did we mention the new vintage of our own-label version just arrived?), but admittedly it’s not the dream with coronation chicken. For this, there is only really one choice: off-dry or medium-dry Riesling – in fact, the last few bottles of this pretty and precise example from Eva Fricke would be perfect (and as a bin-end, you’ll get 20% off).

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Category: Miscellaneous