The Wine Show: Episode 5 Series 2
In the fifth show in the new series of The Wine Show, James Purefoy and Matthew Goode are in the Camargue on the hunt for wines to match the cheese course in the epic French lunch. In an effort to understand the Camargue way of life, they become cowboys for the day, rounding up bulls before they are allowed to sit down and taste some wines. With their wines chosen they head back to the villa for the judgement of Jancis Robinson, the world’s most influential wine critic. Joe Fattorini is in Bosnia to find out how one vineyard is trying to heal some very open wounds of war. And he joins Amelia Singer in St Tropez for an inspiring beach lunch with legendary winemaker Sacha Lichine before getting aboard the cruise ship Celebrity Reflection to host a VIP wine dinner. And back in London, Matthew Rhys is at Berry Brothers & Rudd in London’s St James’s looking at historic and modern gadgets.
From Bosnian War to Wine
Walking through the Daorson vineyard in Herzegovina I tripped over a crumpled metal object. I kicked it over with my foot. “Oh… careful. Don’t do that.” I was told. “There are still sometimes mines from the war here.”
It wasn’t a mine. Although it was from the war. It was a military canteen, lost by a soldier twenty-five years earlier. The Daorson vineyard was on the front line during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s. This was one of many front lines where neighbours and friends turned on each other in a complex and horrific war; as the former Yugoslavia collapsed and different ethnic groups battled to take the land, they drove people from their homes and sometimes committed the worst atrocities seen in Europe since the Second World War.
But today, families from the different sides work together to make wine to sell in Bosnia and overseas. Bosnia has a long winemaking history, especially in the south of the country. It has its own grape varieties like Zilavka and Blatina and makes great international varieties too. And projects established by Non-Governmental Organisations like the Daorson winery as well as local bodies, see grapes and winemaking as a way for people to work together to, Sometimes literally, rebuild their country.
We visit a winemaking monastery where the monks and their staff make wine that raises funds to rebuild churches and cathedrals across the country. Like the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral in Mostar where building foreman Dragan and his team are recreating the famous landmark overlooking the city.
Bosnia is still in a fragile peace. And it is still littered with the scars of a horrific war. But grape growers and wine makers are doing their best to rebuild the country and relationships with neighbours one bottle at a time.
Tvrods Monastery Vranac
Also known as Вранац, Vranac is the great red hope for the wines of southern Bosnia and Montenegro. It’s inky dark and cherry scented and marries well with large oak vats that soften its tannins. But the key is its refreshing tingle in the mouth. Think of the zippiness of cranberries. It gives the wine a lift and zest. These ancient wine cultures are coming back. Expect to see Вранац in your wine shop soon.
Making hay with Rosé & being Super Somms
Cote d’Azur – the land of frolicking celebrities and rosé. It seemed fitting that before becoming sommeliers on a Celebrity Cruise ship, Joe and I would come here for VIP wine inspiration.
No rosé could be more inspirational than ‘Whispering Angel’. Called the ‘water’ of the Hamptons, this rosé is ubiquitous and in its success has made the world realise that rosé can be taken seriously. Sacha Lichine, an American businessman who has French winemakers in his family, made it his mission to make rosé a premium wine style. He has created four different rosés which increase in complexity depending on the price tag. Kindly he lent Joe and I a bottle of Rock Angel for our VIP tasting dinner – how could this dinner not rock now?
After the glamorous Nikki Beach lunch with Sacha, Joe and I were transported on board Celebrity Reflection. This cruise ship is half a mile long and more importantly gets through 20,000 bottles of wine in a 10-day cruise! Donning our sommelier garb, Joe and I were put through our sommelier paces by head sommelier Stephania. Joe lost his way several times whilst doing wine deliveries. I was put in charge of stocking the three-storey wine tower which cradles 1,800 wine bottles. Not an easy task for someone who is notoriously accident prone.
The biggest test was the VIP dinner. Joe and I had to choose wines to pair with a four-course meal. We had no idea who the guests were and if they would be sufficiently impressed with our quickly acquired Somm skills. I won’t ruin the surprise but let’s just say that I can now completely understand why it takes YEARS for people to become truly brilliant sommeliers. I think Joe and I had better stick to our day jobs!
Cherry Tart Pinot Noir
Here’s a quiz question: what is the word most likely to persuade someone to buy a bottle of wine? Answer? It’s ‘fruity’. That’s why wines like juicy, plush… ‘fruity’ wines like this are so popular. Almost the definition of ‘easy drinking’, if you want to know how it tastes, look at the name. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Enjoy with a Friday night in front of the TV. Watching The Wine Show.
THE WINE SHOW CASE – Challenge Five
Matthew and James are on the downhill straight now and in the French style, cheese is the penultimate course at lunch. But Chef Stephane is not making it easy and has chosen a wide variety of cheeses. Not exactly an easy task ahead.
James and Matthew head to a rather undiscovered part of France, the Camargue, western Europe’s largest river delta. It’s an area more famous for its rice and flamingos than its wine, but vines have been cultivated here since Roman times. Mostly, the grapes were sent away to become juice for other regions’ output, but in recent years has found a small but determined group of winemakers starting to champion the region as a terroir in its own right.
But before our wine explorers are allowed to taste any wine, it’s time for some hard work. On horseback. Their guide is Laure at the Mas St Germain. A former engineer and now a fifth-generation cattle farmer, Laure also breeds the region’s legendary white horses, two of which are ridden by James and Matthew.
After rounding up some rather reluctant bulls, our intrepid cowboys are introduced to Maxim from the winery Mas de Valeriole, and after a tasting James and Matthew take home two of his lovely Cham Cham wines.
Mas de Valeriole Red Cham Cham – Winner
“There is a growing movement now of people that think that white goes better with cheese then red. I’m impressed by both of these. In theory very flat land isn’t good for producing good wine. Definitely the hardest choice so far… But it’s got to be Matthew’s red.”