Wine Times Podcast: Episode 6 – Gregory Porter

‘Wine is analogue, not digital. It’s you putting the record on the record player, dropping the needle, sitting back and slowly enjoying the wine.’

We’re at Universal Music Studios in London and the Grammy award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter is sharing his love of wine with us on Wine Times.

Out of all the guests we’ve enjoyed sharing a glass with, Gregory Porter has the most thoughtful approach.

Perhaps it’s because in Germany his tour manager was for many years a sommelier, or that the presidents of the record companies he is signed to have shared with him some of the world’s greatest wines, toasting his many successes. Or maybe because as a hugely successful artist he has enjoyed meals and wines across Europe in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France.

‘I always want my family to have the experience as well,’ he says and so when he returns from his travels he buys wine and prepares a meal at home. Quite what he serves depends on where he has been and what he has tasted as ‘wine is about exploration,’ he says ‘because you never know what you are going to get.’

More from Wine Times Podcast

We started in Champagne with a glass of Bollinger where we discussed the importance of the social aspect of food and wine. I was reminded of the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith who writes that ‘wine is something which involves fellowship, shared interest and conviviality.’

From Champagne we dropped down to the Rhône Valley and perhaps to the most famous of all its wines – Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where we discussed its flavour not in terms of fruit but in reference to the savoury notes you can sometimes pick up on in wine such as vegetal, oaky and ‘farmyardy.’ Like smelly cheese, although to some the aroma can seem unattractive, within the right context it is heavenly. What might be the perfect food pairing with Châteauneuf-du-Pape? Andouillette perhaps?

And with that thought we emptied our glass with a brief discussion on whether listening to great music can make the wine taste better. In the case of Gregory Porter – certainly.

Will Lyons

Club Vice-President

Listen to Wine Times Podcast with Will Lyons and Miquita Oliver here.

The Wine List

Bollinger Special Cuvée, Aÿ, Champagne, France

2019 Le Prince de Courthézon Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France

Tony Laithwaite checks in at Windsor Great Park vineyard

Did you know, that in 2011 we gained permission from the Ranger of Windsor Great Park, the late Duke of Edinburgh, to plant a three-hectare vineyard within this Royal Park. Our inaugural vintage was 2013, launched to great global acclaim. Since then, this award-winning fizz has been served to Heads of State at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and around the world. It even features in a new documentary about the origins of sparkling wine. The latest release, 2016, has just been awarded 94 Points by Decanter too.

Read more: Tony Laithwaite checks in with Jean-Marc Sauboua at Château La Clarière

Have an inside look at Windsor Great Park Vineyard with this video update from Tony Laithwaite. He talks you through the different tasks of June and the sustainable methods the team employs to keep the vines strong and healthy. 

Enough to inspire you to chill down a bottle of great English fizz!

Behind the Bubbles: Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc

Champagne is the iconic sparkling wine adored by many across the globe. If you’re anything like us, you’ll always be on the lookout for a new bottle of bubbles to try. There’s an array of choice when it comes to choosing the perfect bottle for the perfect moment. Whether that be for a special occasion, simply enjoying a glass alongside a delicious meal during the week or gifting a bottle to a loved one. But with several types of Champagne available, there can often be confusion between the different styles. The good news is you’re in great hands. We know a thing or two when it comes to wine, especially Champagne. Join us as we take you behind the bubbles of a Blanc de Blancs Champagne and we’ll tell you all about the dazzling delight from the Champagne House, Charles Heidsieck, which we can’t get enough of.

What is a Blanc de Blancs Champagne?

You might have spotted the terms Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Brut, Demi-Sec or Rosé on the label when you’ve previously purchased a bottle of bubbles. But what does this mean? Well, these terms help determine the level of sweetness in Champagne and the grapes it is made from. The three main grape varieties used to make Champagne are typically:

  • Chardonnay (white grape)
  • Pinot Noir (black grape)
  • Pinot Meunier (black grape)

A Blanc de Blancs style of Champagne is made exclusively from white grapes, usually Chardonnay. Blanc de Blancs literally means ‘white of whites’.

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs

WAS £65 NOW £58.99

Charles Heidsieck is one of the great names of Champagne and produces some of the finest cuvées. The Champagne House was founded in 1851 by Charles-Camille Heidsieck, the original ‘Champagne Charlie’ who was the first to seduce Americans with Champagne and was at the centre of the New York social scene in the 1850s. The foundation of its modern fame rests on the unrivalled quality of its wines, many of which are award winning. This success is down to the remarkable winemaking team over the past three decades: Daniel Thibault, Régis Camus, Thierry Roset and Cyril Brun have between them been awarded ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ at the International Wine Challenge sixteen times. No other Champagne house has won this award more than twice.

The Champagne House’s Blanc de Blancs combines several of the best hand-picked Chardonnay Crus from three Champagne sub regions. After the first fermentation in stainless steel, the wines were racked to separate the lees and then underwent malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity and to enrich their texture. The Blanc de Blancs is an artful blend of different years and terroirs, with 25% reserve wine, to produce a wonderfully complex fizz with rich maturity. All the reserve wines were aged in stainless steel vats on their fine lees. To achieve the depth and complexity required by the house style, the Blanc de Blancs ages for up to 72 months in Charles Heidsieck’s chalk cellars (The Crayères); much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

It’s a pale, crystalline gold in colour. The nose is characterised by aromas of mature Chardonnay; white peach, candied citrus with notes of lime, honeysuckle and fresh hazelnuts giving way to subtle hints of tangerine and lemon. On the palate, the Blanc de Blancs bears all the hallmarks of a Charles Heidsieck Champagne: boldness, generosity and elegance. Embracing yet light, it displays appealing mineral, slightly salty, iodine notes, and has a silky, creamy texture – unexpected from a Chardonnay – that leaves a lasting impression.

Discover more from Charles Heidsieck

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve

WAS £45 NOW £39.99

Generously fruity and toasty with terrific freshness on the finish. Made with up to 50% reserve wine averaging 10 years of age, this non-vintage is exceptionally rich and complex, and goes beautifully with a range of fine canapés.

Champagne Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve

WAS £49.99 NOW £44.99

Simply magnificent with subtle aromas of homemade strawberry jam, peaches, ginger and cinnamon. The pink was named No.1 in the Rosé Non-Vintage rankings by the famous Fine Champagne Magazine.

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