What to drink in 2020: Bordeaux

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Photograph: Jason Lowe
As 2020 lies before us, our Cellar Plan Manager Tom Cave provides the first instalment of our annual series on the vintages to uncork this year. He reports on how the past two decades of reds from Bordeaux are drinking

At last, with 2020, we have a year that trips off the tongue. Let’s hope it’s a good one for drinking fine Bordeaux and indeed a good year for everything else life brings.

Two score years behind it and 2000 shines on, living proof of the useful adage that Claret takes 10 year to mature, drinks for 10 then gradually declines for ten. In fact, many ‘00s are thriving still and while it had its hype and doubters, it has in fact proved a worthy success. The 2001 vintage skips along too, it’s always had appeal and remains a go-to year for charming drinking though they won’t (to use another wine-trade maxim) “make old bones”.

The 2002s hang in there though they aren’t improving; the wise would press on if they haven’t already. Wines from 2003, as last year’s review showed, have their admirers and that is all fine. That summer’s heat was too much for most winemaking then, though maybe it was a vintage ahead of its time – we’ll get more recurrent “scorchio” summers and winemakers are already adapting to make the most of these.

I have found the 2004s’ characteristic hint of greenness a little too prominent in recent bottles. I’m inclined to press on with them; that un-ripeness is not going to ease.

The heart lifts with 2005, to taste these from cask remains a high point of my career. Be bold though, they aren’t aggressive, they have plenty of potential to come, but open and enjoy some now. Your Crus Bourgeois should be well behind you, but get stuck into any Fifth or Fourth Growths with gusto.

There’s no need to see 2006 as pedestrian any longer. Dark-fruited with easy tannins, they have honest appeal and make rewarding drinking. The 2007s have a character of their own; it’s a light vintage you’ll be unlikely to see much of, but if you haven’t drunk them by now then you probably should.

The 2008 vintage has become a little more cheerful; there’s more to come from these, though they won’t ever be superstars. They have a generosity of fruit if not the depth nor application that makes great Bordeaux.

The 2009s have the appeal now, if 2010s have the hauteur of classic Claret. For me, 2009s envelop and satisfy, though 2010 has more of that wonderful “crunch”, as Michael Broadbent calls it, which is what makes the wines of Bordeaux so eminently suited to drinking with food. Top-tier aside, press on with 2009, but don’t be scared to try a lesser 2010 now too.

The 2011 vintage is perhaps a little shy, in relation to its peers. We’ll see, there’s no evidence of needing to hurry with them; they just seem a little reticent at the moment. The 2012s have a laidback charm to them – it’s a good vintage for honest, straightforward enjoyment. There’s less allure with 2013, best press on with these and get them behind you.

More upbeat, 2014 is shaping up very amenably. Wines of wonderful balance, the fruit to tannin ratio is all in good order and hints at earlier drinking. We like these.

The 2015 and 2016 vintage will be another head-to-head like ’09 v ’10: 2015s have great quality, though for me 2016s have the class and wonderful density that makes a great Bordeaux vintage. I’d urge you to add a few more if you’re light on them.

The 2017s will have their role in a few years’ time as a vintage to drink sooner than later. The 2018 vintage was sunny and even lush, perhaps a herald of Bordeaux to come?

The Bordeaux region still provides us with the most remarkable wines. We no longer have “poor vintages”; the much-improved knowledge of growers as well as advances in technology mean they can make a good wine every year – and, even better, they don’t need keeping as long.

Please note that this update is focused on wines built for ageing, namely the Crus Classés.

Browse our range of Bordeaux on bbr.com, and keep an eye out for updates on the vintages of Burgundy and Port to drink this year.

Category: Bordeaux Wine

They came to No.3: Jack “Legs” Diamond

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Over the past three centuries, a host of famous (and sometimes infamous) characters have visited No.3 St James’s Street. One such figure is the American gangster, Legs Diamond

Also known as Gentleman Jack, Jack “Legs” Diamond was an Irish American gangster and bootlegger who became an international celebrity during Prohibition. In 1931 alone, he appeared in the New York Times 103 times, a fame that rivalled that of Al Capone.

He had made his money by running bootleg liquor from “Rum Row” – the name given to the coastal waters between New York and Atlantic City where much of the smuggled liquor was brought in – to the nightclubs and speakeasies of Manhattan, equipping his gang with sawn-off shotguns to discourage competitors and fend off hi-jackers. But one of the more spectacular episodes in Diamond’s career was when he was alleged to have walked into the Hotsy Totsy Club in New York and shot down the two owners in the midst of scores of dancing couples.

There isn’t a much less likely visitor to St James’s, but – reportedly – one day in the 1920s, Diamond and two of his gang swaggered into our shop at No.3. It is said that they made a substantial order, mostly for Scotch whisky (presumably because it would fetch the highest price back home), paid in cash and returned only to collect the goods the following day. Whoever dealt with them fortunately lived to tell the tale.

It was Diamond’s uncanny ability to survive attempts on his life that made his name – causing his arch-enemy Dutch Schultz to remark in 1930, “Ain’t there nobody that can shoot this guy so he don’t bounce back?” In 1931, someone finally did.

Legs Diamond is one of the customers that feature on our new tote bags, illustrated by John Broadley. Read more about him in this article from our archives.

Category: Miscellaneous

Essential ingredients: Christmas leftovers

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Photograph: Joe Woodhouse
No matter how many mouths there are to feed on Christmas Day, there always seems to be leftover turkey come Boxing Day. This year, forget about sandwiches: cook up our Head Chef Stewart Turner’s Thai green curry

Christmas is always going to be the season of overindulgence, and each year the Christmas Day leftovers always leave me wondering how so much food can go uneaten or I can overestimate how much turkey everyone will eat. Rehashing the festive lunch has become something of an obsession. This Thai green curry has been my go-to Boxing Day special for the past few years. Spicy and fragrant, it’s great for banishing the fog of the day before and setting us up for the traditional Boxing Day stroll. You can also add any leftover veggies that you like.

Thai green Turkey curryServes 8
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 onions – peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 to 5tbsp Thai green curry paste – see below or use a readymade one
  • Half a bunch coriander – roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 200g medium leaf spinach
  • 100 g baby sweetcorn – cut into chunks
  • 100g mangetout – halved
  • 100g sugar snap peas – halved
  • 100g shitake mushrooms – quartered
  • Leftover cooked turkey – cut into bite sized pieces
  • Thai fish sauce
  • 2 limes – quartered, to garnish
  • 50g toasted peanuts – chopped (optional)

Sweat the onions in a good glug of vegetable oil until softened but not coloured. Add 3tbsp of the curry paste and fry for three minutes to cook out. Mix in the coriander and cook for a further minute. Pour in a third of the coconut milk and boil until it splits, add the rest of the milk and chicken stock, bring to the boil and stir in the spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, remove from the heat. Blitz the sauce in a blender and pass though a sieve into a clean pan, then set aside.

Wok fry the shitake, baby corn and leftover turkey with the remaining curry paste over a medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mangetout and sugar snap peas. Cook for another minute, then pour in the sauce. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes until the turkey is piping hot. Finish with a good glug of fish sauce.

Sprinkle with some coriander leaves and toasted peanuts, serve with cooked rice and the lime wedges for people to squeeze on if required. (NB If you’re not cooking today, the sauce can be made a few days in advance. Stir fry the vegetables with the leftover turkey and add to the sauce.)

Thai green curry paste

  • 4 to 6 medium green chillies – de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 shallots – roughly chopped
  • 5cm or 2-inch piece of fresh ginger – peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves – crushed
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander – stalks and roots attached if possible
  • 2 lemongrass stalks – chopped (if unavailable, use 2tbsp dried)
  • 1 lime – grated zest and juice
  • 8 kaffir lime leaves, torn into pieces (if unavailable, use the grated zest of 1 extra lime)
  • 2.5cm or 1-inch piece galangal – peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds – crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a paste.

What to drink: It’s possible Boxing Day demands a day off, and we’d be tempted by a cold beer, but for wine, off-dry Riesling will work alongside the aromatic spice of this dish (our own-label Kabinett would be ideal).

Category: Food & Wine

Wishing you a very happy Christmas from everyone at Berry Bros. & Rudd

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Illustration: Miriam Bos
Category: Miscellaneous