An Afternoon at Berry Bros. & Rudd
2nd June 2017 by
We were very lucky to be invited to spend an afternoon at the highly esteemed fine wine and spirit merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd at their flagship site at 3 St James’s Street, London. This site was first opened in 1698 and they still continue to trade today from this Grade II listed building.
As it is English Wine Week (27th May-4th June) we started our tasting with a delicious 2010 The Merchant’s Range English Sparkling wine from the Hambledon Valley in Hampshire. A lovely fresh & fruity wine, with 50% Chardonnay & 50% pinot noir grapes.
Everyone is of course familiar with Pinot Grigio and it is one of the most popular Italian whites on our wine list, but there are also many more absolute gems from lesser known grape varieties that offer that same light, crisp summery taste. We tasted a lovely Sicilian white, Grecanico, Colle del Sole Natale Verga, Terre Siciliane and a slightly more floral white from Sardinia, Vermentino di Sardegna, Il Roccolo, Natale Verga that would both make an absolutely delicious and refreshing change from a glass of Pinot Grigio. There was also an interesting slightly effervescent white that is hugely popular in Spain and pairs beautifully with oysters or indeed a seafood supper, Flysch Txakolina, Gorosti Bodega, Getariako Txakolina.
We then moved onto the reds, starting with another lovely Italian medium-bodied wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Extra Special, Colle del Sole, N.Verga. Earlier this year Berry Bros. launched a new range of more accessible own label wines available to the trade only, The Merchants Range. With eleven different wines including red, white and rose, a traditional claret, pinot noir, Rioja and St Emillion. We tasted a 2014 The Merchant’s Range Rioja Crianza, which was very soft and a more fruit driven rioja, not too oaky, as often riojas can be.
The Merchant’s Range Traditional Claret comes from the same estate behind the infamous Chateau Palmer and follows on from Berry Bros. Good Ordinary Claret, which has been their biggest selling wine since the 1970s. This claret has a much more modern and rounder flavour, with softer tannins. With 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon grapes. Following on with The Merchant’s Range Chateauneuf-du-Pape which again is a much more fruit forward wine than a traditional Chateauneuf.
Over lunch we were treated to a delicious New Zealand white, 2014 Dog Point, Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough. These grapes are grown in a part of New Zealand that enjoys a long cool growing season, with little rainfall which enables the development of rich fruity flavours. You can absolutely taste this in the wine, with a fresh and full-bodied palate. Delicious served with a light fish dish, this was definitely one of our favourites of the day.
As crisp as the Dog Point was, was the buttery softness of the 2013 Ramey Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California. 2013 was a particularly good vintage with long sunny days and cool evenings. Honey, apricot pit, mint, butter and dried flower blossoms are some of the signature notes of this graceful, vibrant wine and you can taste the warm California sunshine as you drink.
The 2015 Givry Rouge, 1er Cru Domaine Danjean-Berthoux is a lovely medium to full-bodied red burgundy that paired perfectly with the Grilled Sirloin of Cumbrian Beef. The 2013 Doctors Flat Vineyard Pinot Noir Bannockburn, Central Otago is an aromatic style of pinot noir from New Zealand, with notes of raspberry and blackberry, that develop into ripe red cherries on the palate, but with a lovely freshness. A fruit forward, but elegant wine that would sit comfortably on any wine list.
We finally finished our wine experience with a sweet white Spanish wine, 2012 Mr White, Telmo Rodriguez Malaga. A delicate dessert wine with a gentle aroma, but full of fruit, with peach and bay notes. Delicious!
At Bel & The Dragon we pride ourselves on our outstanding wine list that offers exceptional value for money. Our cellar wine list is a celebration of some stunning vintages and fine wines and now thanks to the Coravin, our new needle-through-the-cork device, guests can opt for a glass from their preferred bottle. We believe in making fine wine accessible for all.