Friday, 15th February 2019 by Stephen Browett
The annual “Ten Years On” tasting has been a fixture in my diary for over a quarter of a century. The first of these marathon blind tastings that I attended was back in 1992 when we tried the still youthful 1982s. I remember being blown away by that vintage’s Mouton Rothschild – a wine that was brilliant even when young and has continued to deliver the goods ever since. The tastings were frequently held at The Mill – home of the great and much missed Bill Baker and sometimes at The White Horse at Chilgrove with our old friend, the incomparable Barry Phillips. More recently they have been hosted by Farr Vintners.
Tuesday, 29th January 2019 by Stephen Browett
In the last week of January 2019, the “Southwold Group” assembled, once again, to taste the latest Bordeaux vintage to be physically released onto the market. This year was the turn of 2015 to come under our blind tasting microscope. This marathon event was comprised of 264 wines, tasted in 22 flights of 12, by 19 vastly experienced tasters and it took place over 3 days in the Farr Vintners tasting room on the banks of the River Thames in Battersea Reach.
Monday, 31st December 2018 by Stephen Browett
2018 saw further advances for Farr Vintners as increased sales re-enforced the company’s position as the UK’s - and probably the world’s - leading fine wine trader.
Tuesday, 5th June 2018 by Stephen Browett
Farr Vintners was the first UK merchant to establish a sales office in Hong Hong – over 20 years ago – which has been run ever since by Jo Purcell along with an excellent team of tri-lingual English/Cantonese/Mandarin speakers. When Jo arrived in what was, at the time, a British colony, the import tax on wine was 90% and sales were small. However, we always had customers here who were fanatical wine lovers and a massive breakthrough came when duty was completely scrapped in 2008.
Tuesday, 6th March 2018 by Stephen Browett
Since the early 1990’s I have been a member of the original “Ten Years On” t.asting group that was founded by the late, great Bill Baker using the reserve bottles from the original Southwold tastings. The first of these tastings that I attended was in 1992 when we looked back at the still youthful but already magnificent 1982’s
Friday, 9th February 2018 by Stephen Browett
Regular readers of these blogs will know that since the early 1990’s, I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the “Southwold Group” of wine merchants and critics that gets together every year to hold a comprehensive blind tasting of the top wines of Bordeaux in the lastest vintage to physically released. This year it was the turn of 2014 to come under our spotlight. After last year’s rather underwhelming 2013 tasting we were back on solid ground.
Monday, 30th January 2017 by Stephen Browett
Thursday, 22nd September 2016 by Stephen Browett
Ever since I first visited Jean-Marie Guffens and Jean Rijckaert, over 20 years ago, I have been a huge fans of Verget’s wines. Farr Vintners has imported every vintage that they have made since 1992 and we are now one of the world’s biggest buyers of these great value, high quality White Burgundies.
Thursday, 15th September 2016 by Stephen Browett
I was very privileged to be invited by proprietor Bruno Borie to a magnificent tasting of Ducru Beaucaillou in which every year that he has made was shown - as well as some examples of older vintages of this great 2nd growth Saint Julien. This is a property that has made consistently good wines for decades but under Bruno’s leadership the quality here now often touches that of the First Growths.
Wednesday, 27th January 2016 by Stephen Browett
If it’s January, then it’s Southwold time.
Monday, 23rd November 2015 by Stephen Browett
As most Farr Vintners customers will know, we have been importing and championing the White Burgundies of Jean-Marie Guffens and his negociant house Verget for many years.
Friday, 9th October 2015 by Stephen Browett
Last Friday we conducted a fascinating experiment at Farr Vintners when we served, in a blind tasting, the same wine from two different bottles – one with a screwcap and one with a cork. The result was remarkable, with none of the ten tasters spotting that we were actually tasting the same wine! Before we reveal the results here’s a bit of history...
Friday, 2nd October 2015 by Stephen Browett
A few years ago my old friend from Bordeaux, Jean-Guillaume Prats, got in touch with me to say that he was leaving Cos d’Estournel to go and work for the giant LVMH group (Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessey) where he would be in charge of all their wine properties outside France.
Wednesday, 20th May 2015 by Stephen Browett
1990 is a special year for me.
Monday, 11th May 2015 by Stephen Browett
I first tasted Kumeu River Chardonnay at The White Horse, Chilgrove in the late 1980’s.
Monday, 16th March 2015 by Stephen Browett
Monday, 26th January 2015 by Stephen Browett
For a quarter of a century now I have spent a few days every January in the picturesque seaside town of Southwold with a group of British wine importers and wine writers as we taste
Wednesday, 17th December 2014 by Stephen Browett
My eldest son Ben had the great misfortune to be born in 1992.
Wednesday, 19th November 2014 by Stephen Browett
How long is a decade?
Tuesday, 30th September 2014 by Stephen Browett
This month marks my 30th anniversary at Farr Vintners as I joined the company in September 1984.
Thursday, 4th September 2014 by Stephen Browett
Last night the owners of Crystal Palace Football Club welcomed our new manager Neil Warnock (back) to the club
Tuesday, 19th August 2014 by Stephen Browett
Farr Vintners is delighted to announce that we have purchased Magnum Fine Wines...
Monday, 2nd June 2014 by Stephen Browett
On the eve of the opening of the bi-annual wine trade fair "Vinexpo" in Hong Kong, Farr Vintners hosted a spectacular Rauzan Segla dinner....
Tuesday, 27th May 2014 by Stephen Browett
Last Saturday I flew into Hong Kong for a very special wine dinner...
Saturday, 17th May 2014 by Stephen Browett
It's not often that I get a chance to combine my two jobs but,...
Thursday, 3rd April 2014 by Stephen Browett
2013 is a challenging year for the red wines of Bordeaux but a good year for the dry white wines and an excellent one for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.
Thursday, 27th February 2014 by Stephen Browett
Every year we hold a comprehensive tasting, here at Farr Vintners, of the most recent Bordeaux vintage to reach ten years of age....
Thursday, 30th January 2014 by Stephen Browett
Every January since the early 1980s a group of British wine buyers has escaped to Southwold in Suffolk to spend three days tasting through the most recently released Bordeaux vintage at The Swan hotel...
Monday, 20th January 2014 by Stephen Browett
Last week I was fortunate enough to be invited to a spectacular wine dinner in a city that I had never visited before....
Wednesday, 13th November 2013 by Stephen Browett
It is now exactly 30 years since Chateau La Mission Haut Brion was purchased by Domaine Clarence Dillon....
Monday, 4th November 2013 by Stephen Browett
One of my favourite tastings of the year is the annual "Ten Years On" review of the Bordeaux First Growths....
Thursday, 1st August 2013 by Stephen Browett
I started my career in the wine trade as the van driver for a small wine shop in London called La Réserve in 1980. 33 years on, I have just enjoyed a fabulous holiday at a luxurious hotel near Saint Tropez which is also called La Réserve....
Wednesday, 3rd July 2013 by Stephen Browett
The Durrbach family, friends of Pablo Picasso, purchased Trevallon in 1955 but it was not until 1973 that the first vines were planted.
Sunday, 28th April 2013 by Stephen Browett
The annual "Wine Advocate" report by Robert Parker on the latest Bordeaux vintage is always the wine world's most eagerly awaited critical review. We have now had a chance to analyse his take on the 2012's which was published this weekend on www.erobertparker.com.
Wednesday, 10th April 2013 by Stephen Browett
Today was spent on Bordeaux's right bank as we got to grips with Pomerol and Saint Emilion.
Tuesday, 9th April 2013 by Stephen Browett
This morning was a great opportunity to conclude our coverage of the Médoc by attending the "Union des Grands Crus" tastings.
Monday, 8th April 2013 by Stephen Browett
We started the day with the three great Chateaux of Saint Estèphe - all of which have changed their management since this time last year.
Sunday, 7th April 2013 by Stephen Browett
Today was the start of the annual pilgrimage to Bordeaux for the Farr Vintners Sales and Purchasing team.
Monday, 11th February 2013 by Stephen Browett
From today and until the end of March, Farr Vintners will be participating in Wine Relief and raising money for Comic Relief by donating £20 for every case that we sell from a specially selected list of some of our favourite and best value wines.
Friday, 1st February 2013 by Stephen Browett
For my final report on the 2009 red wines of Bordeaux we come to Pauillac. For me, this commune is the heart of Bordeaux and, of course, it contains three First Growths and many other world famous properties.
Tuesday, 29th January 2013 by Stephen Browett
The commune of Margaux produces wines that tend to exude charm more than power. If you are looking for top class Bordeaux which is elegant and stylish then Margaux is the place for you.
Monday, 28th January 2013 by Stephen Browett
Today we move to the Graves – or Pessac-Léognan to be precise. This is one of my favourite regions of Bordeaux and one which I see as a half-way point between the left bank and the right bank.
Friday, 25th January 2013 by Stephen Browett
From the plummy opulence of Pomerol we now move to the Cabernet-Sauvignon based wines of Saint Estèphe.
We selected the top 11 wines of the commune for this flight and also put in Sociando Mallet. This Northern Médoc property has long been regarded as making wines of classed growth quality and it’s certainly very similar to St Estèphe in style.
Thursday, 24th January 2013 by Stephen Browett
The appellation of Pomerol is one of the smallest in Bordeaux. Within the appellation there are hundreds of tiny properties and even a 1000- case-a-year Château would be regarded as being one of the larger producers.
Tuesday, 22nd January 2013 by Stephen Browett
First up at Southwold 2013 were the 2009 Saint Emilions. And what a lot of them there were! We tasted about 75 wines from this village as well as a few “ringers” from neighbouring appellations.
Monday, 21st January 2013 by Stephen Browett
Every year in January, for over 30 years, some of the leading figures in the British wine trade have assembled in the sleepy town of Southwold for a comprehensive tasting of the latest Bordeaux vintage to be physically released onto the market
Monday, 31st December 2012 by Stephen Browett
As is traditional at this time of year, we thought that we would let our customers and suppliers know how Farr Vintners has performed during the last 12 months....
Wednesday, 7th November 2012 by Stephen Browett
This time last year I reported on a blind tasting of the 2001 First Growths. Last week we repeated the exercise with the same 8 wines in the 2002 vintage.
Tuesday, 3rd July 2012 by Stephen Browett
There are a lot of wine writers who write about wine seriously but there are very few serious writers who write about wine....
Wednesday, 13th June 2012 by Stephen Browett
As many of our customers may know, L'Eglise Clinet consistently produces one of Bordeaux's greatest wines. It now regularly matches or beats the scores from independent critics of wines such as Pétrus and Cheval Blanc and its reputation is rapidly catching up Le Pin and Lafleur. With only 1000 to 1500 cases produced per annum the wines here are as rare as they are great. It was therefore an enormous pleasure for Farr Vintners to organise the first ever tasting of Eglise Clinet in Hong Kong with the owner and wine-maker, Denis Durantou.
Friday, 25th May 2012 by Stephen Browett
As this en primeur campaign comes to a close, and the world’s fine wine merchants head off to Hong Kong for the biennial Vinexpo wine fair, this seems like a good time to reflect on how it’s gone.
Monday, 30th April 2012 by Stephen Browett
As always with Bordeaux en primeur, the wine world has been waiting with baited breath for the views, tasting notes and (above all) the scores of Robert Parker of “The Wine Advocate” before the campaign can really get under way.
Wednesday, 4th April 2012 by Stephen Browett
Today was ‘Right Bank day’ and we headed off, bright and early, over the rivers Garonne and Dordogne with the hope of finding some welcoming Merlot flesh on the 2011 bones.
Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 by Stephen Browett
Today we had to wake up while it was still dark and were tasting wine by 8.30 am. Don’t let anyone tell you that this job is like being on holiday! By 10 am (9 in the morning UK time) we had already tasted nearly 50 wines.
Monday, 2nd April 2012 by Stephen Browett
Today we have focussed our attention on the Northern Médoc and in particular the appellations of St Estèphe, Pauillac and St Julien.
Saturday, 31st March 2012 by Stephen Browett
Today the Farr Vintners tasting team assembled at Gatwick Airport for our annual trip to Bordeaux to taste the latest en primeur vintage. This year it's the turn of 2011 and after 2 monumental vintages - 2009 and 2010 - we have the feeling that this is going to be a hard one to get excited about.
Friday, 2nd March 2012 by Stephen Browett
The wine world has been waiting for uber-critic Robert Parker to reveal his judgement and scores for the 2009 Bordeaux vintage now that he has tasted all the finished wines from bottle for the first time. To say that he is ecstatic about this vintage would be somewhat of an under-statement!
Monday, 6th February 2012 by Stephen Browett
Every January for over 20 years I have spent 3 days in Southwold (a charming seaside town in East Anglia) tasting my way through hundreds of newly bottled Bordeaux wines.
Tuesday, 10th January 2012 by Stephen Browett
Congratulations to Professor James Shaw who is the winner of this year's Farr Vintners Christmas Quiz with an amazing 48 correct answers. Professor Shaw wins a case of Kumeu River Chardonnay.
Wednesday, 4th January 2012 by Stephen Browett
In early January 2012 I tutored a wine dinner in Hong Kong consisting of 15 Pauillacs from the great vintages of the last 30 years. 2009 back to 1982.
Saturday, 31st December 2011 by Stephen Browett
As is traditional at this time of year, we have taken a moment to reflect on how Farr Vintners has performed during the last 12 months. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers and suppliers (and many of you are both!) who have supported us with great loyalty in 2011.
Wednesday, 23rd November 2011 by Stephen Browett
Last Friday night, the Farr Vintners Sales and Purchasing teams enjoyed a great night out at Medlar Restaurant in Chelsea. It was a very special evening for us as the dinner was organised to mark the retirement of Jonathan Stephens after 22 years at Farr Vintners.
Tuesday, 22nd November 2011 by Stephen Browett
At the end of October 2011, we held a spectacular tasting at Farr Vintners of all 25 years of Château Angélus made by proprietor/winemaker Hubert de Bouard since he took over the family property, aged 28, in 1985. All the vintages were served in magnums, which we had shipped directly from the cellars of the Château for this event....
Wednesday, 16th November 2011 by Stephen Browett
On November 15th 2011 nearly 400 private customers of Farr Vintners packed the Vintners Hall in the City of London to taste over 80 fine wines from our increasingly broad portfolio.
Tuesday, 1st November 2011 by Stephen Browett
The late Edmund Penning-Rowsell (b1913, d 2002) was a fascinating man. A communist, yet the owner of a great cellar of fine wine. He is regarded as having been one of Britain’s leading wine writers and a great expert on the wines of Bordeaux. He was chairman of The Wine Society from 1964 to 1987 . He was the wine columnist for the Financial Times for 23 years and also wrote regularly for Marxism Today. His books include the seminal “The Wines of Bordeaux” which was first published in 1969.
Friday, 14th October 2011 by Stephen Browett
As Thomas and Ben had spent the month of September picking grapes at Chateau Latour I thought that it would be good to see how they were getting on, get a quick snap-shot of the new vintage and re-taste a few 2010’s from barrel and, even more interesting, taste the finished 2009’s from bottle for the first time. I flew down to Bordeaux during the first week of October.
Thursday, 1st September 2011 by Stephen Browett
One of the most exciting discoveries for Farr Vintners this year has been that of Chateau Puech-Haut. We have now sold over 13,000 bottles of their “Cuvée Prestige” 2009 so a visit was well overdue.
Friday, 29th July 2011 by Stephen Browett
One of the highlights, for me, of any journey to the South of France is a trip to Beaugravière, conveniently situated a few miles off the autoroute, North of Orange. I was first introduced to this restaurant by François Perrin of Château de Beaucastel over 25 years ago and have been coming back on a regular basis ever since. The 3 bedrooms are, shall we say, "basic". The setting is completely unpretentious and a little noisy – the "route nationale" on one side and a train line on the other. The food is good, classic old school French with lots of truffles, but not fancy. The waiter wears a bow tie but we didn’t feel out of place in jeans and tee shirts.
Friday, 13th May 2011 by Stephen BrowettWith the Bordeaux en primeur campaign yet to get under way, we thought that we would make a quick trip to Burgundy this week to visit the exciting, and much talked about, new producer – Domaine d’Eugenie.
Wednesday, 6th April 2011 by Stephen BrowettToday we headed in a different direction - over the "Entre Deux Mers" and up to Pomerol and Saint Emilion. First stop was the headquarters of Ets Jean-Pierre Moueix where Christian Moueix and his son Edouard greeted us with an all-star Pomerol line-up (and their two Saint Emilions - Magdelaine and Belair Monange). What a cracking tasting this was with the wonderful, plump, yet perfectly balanced Moueix wines. Trotanoy, La Fleur Petrus and Hosanna were all outstanding and Certan de May (not actually made by them but part of their portfolio) is at the same level. The erudite and charming Christian Moueix told us that 2010 was a vintage that needed "under-extraction" not "over-extraction" and that he had gone to great lengths not to exaggerate the vintage's tannins. If only some of the Saint Emilion producers with their 15 degree headbangers had listened to these wise words....
Tuesday, 5th April 2011 by Stephen Browett
Day three began with a trip back up to Pauillac and a visit to our friends at Lynch Bages. There was a very smoky and exotic Villa Bel-Air on show here and an excellent Ormes de Pez but - wow - what a Lynch Bages! I asked Jean-Charles Cazes for a reference point and he said that it was the best since 1989 and 1990. Daniel Llose - who started making wine at Lynch in 1976 - said that this 2010 was off the charts and that it is the most powerful young wine that he had ever tasted here. When we read James Suckling's review last week we thought that he might have got a little carried away with his score.....well he didn't.
Monday, 4th April 2011 by Stephen Browett
The Farr Vintners team were up at the crack of dawn today for a slow crawl up the back roads of the Medoc to our 9am start at....Lafite. Talk about setting the bar high. We were only starting the day with the world's (well OK, China's) most demanded wine!
Sunday, 3rd April 2011 by Stephen Browett
The Farr Vintners en primeur tasting team this year is the biggest ever with a diverse range of ages, palates and tasting experience. Our "two wise men" are here again to offer us their wisdom and knowledge. Derek Smedley MW tasted his first en primeur vintage in 1961 and Barry Phillips bought his first case of wine - Lafite 1953 - as an eleven year old schoolboy! Their expertise in tasting raw young cask samples is invaluable to the younger members of our team.
Thursday, 10th March 2011 by Stephen BrowettLast week I was in Hong Kong for a very special dinner that we co-hosted with Bruno Borie, the proprietor of Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou and “Monsieur Truffle” - Pierre-Jean Pébeyre. Check out Monsieur Truffle at www.pebeyre.com
Monday, 28th February 2011 by Stephen BrowettWe were delighted to read this review of Sam Weaver's Churton Wines in "Wandering Palate". It is our firm belief that Sam's Churton Vineyard is the best in Marlborough and as the vines mature (he now makes his wines entirely from his own grapes) the quality just gets better and better.
Wednesday, 16th February 2011 by Stephen BrowettJust before Christmas 2010 a group of us assembled at Chez Bruce restaurant for a spectacular and unique tasting of forty vintages of Chateau La Conseillante, in the company of winemaker Jean-Michel Laporte.
Monday, 24th January 2011 by Stephen BrowettEvery year the leading wine buyers of the UK wine trade get together and organise a comprehensive blind tasting of the most recently released Bordeaux vintage. The tasting takes place at The Crown Hotel at Southwold in Suffolk and has been a regular event now for nearly 30 years.
Thursday, 20th January 2011 by Stephen BrowettLast week we were delighted to receive our old friend Hubert de Bouard at Farr Vintners for a chat and a tasting of some of his wines. Hubert has been making the wine at Chateau Angelus since the mid 1980's and he has undoubtedly transformed this property from a previous "also-ran" into one of the very top Chateaux of Saint Emilion, and indeed one of the best of the entire Bordeaux region.
Friday, 31st December 2010 by Stephen Browett
First of all, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers and suppliers for their fantastic support in 2010. We are well aware that you all have a choice of where you buy and sell your fine wine and we really appreciate the fact that, for so many people around the world, Farr Vintners is their number one wine source.
Wednesday, 15th December 2010 by Stephen Browett
Oliver East and I hopped on the Eurostar to Brussels at the end of last week for another of our annual First Growth dinners with Belgian friends, a group of real super-gastronomes! This time the venue was the great Restaurant Bruneau (www.bruneau.be) and the theme was Chateau Margaux.
Tuesday, 7th December 2010 by Stephen Browett
Many congratulations to the 2010 Farr Vintners Christmas Quiz Champion, Richard Ross, who got an impressive score of 48/50. Richard beat last year's winner, Kurt Baker, into second place. Many thanks to all of you who took part and the best of luck next time!
Wednesday, 17th November 2010 by Stephen Browett
Tuesday saw the annual Farr Vintners Christmas Tasting at the historic Vintners Hall in London. In attendance were some of the finest names in the wine world, including Frédéric Engerer of Château Latour, Jean-Guillaume Prats of Château Cos d'Estournel, Mélanie Tesseron of Château Pontet-Canet and Emeline Borie of Châteaux Grand-Puy-Lacoste and Haut-Batailley. We were also delighted to show wines from Zind-Humbrecht, Verget/Guffens-Heynen, William Fèvre, Peter Michael, Krug, Dom Pérignon, Nyetimber, Gosset, Beaucastel, and many, many more.
Tuesday, 16th November 2010 by Stephen Browett
Last week we headed off to the Rhône Valley to see if the 2009 wines were shaping up to be as good as the talk that surrounds them. We were not let down.
First stop was Côte Rôtie where we called in on Patrick Jasmin who told us that 2009 was simply the most perfect vintage to make as both quality was high and yields good. He described the wines as having elegance, finesse, structure and of course plenty of fruit. Perfect acidity, perfect balance, perfect everything he said. His 2500 case production Côte Rôtie is a wine for those who are turned off by the more oaky rich style of Monsieur Guigal - who now, we were told, controls over 50% of the appellation.
Wednesday, 13th October 2010 by Stephen Browett
Off to Paris for the weekend to attend the 30th anniversary of Willi's Wine Bar. We wander the streets of the 1er arrondissement on Saturday morning and thoughts turn to lunch. I sense that my wife is thinking of somewhere chic on the Champs Elysées or the Boulevard Saint Germain, but I have another destination in mind - ten stops away on metro route 13, deep in the Parisian suburbs. This is the equivalent of staying in Mayfair and deciding to have lunch in Croydon. What was I thinking of? Well, quite simply, while Sophie was trying on handbags in the Rue Saint Honoré , my one-track mind was thinking only of Coche-Dury. Homer Simpson dreams of doughnuts, I dream of Coche.
Monday, 4th October 2010 by Stephen Browett
2003 Bordeaux was the theme as 16 of us sat down at 9.30 am last Friday to blind taste our way through the 100 top wines of the Medoc and Graves. Apart from assembling a comprehensive "who's who" of the left bank wines of Bordeaux, we had also put together an all-star tasting panel that included Jancis Robinson, James Suckling, Neal Martin and the vastly experienced Barry Phillips and Derek Smedley MW.
Wednesday, 15th September 2010 by Stephen Browett
As a rule Farr Vintners sells wines that we know well from famous producers with famous vineyards in famous wine regions. Just now and again, something comes along from off the beaten track that really takes us by surprise...
Tuesday, 7th September 2010 by Stephen BrowettLast night was that great annual event - getting the dinner jacket out of the cupboard. With bow ties tied, George, Henry and I headed off to the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane for the International Wine Challenge's 2010 awards dinner.
Friday, 27th August 2010 by Stephen Browett
With the August sun being seen for a few seconds recently, between cloud and rain, I thought that I would experiment with some blind white wine tastings.
Thursday, 12th August 2010 by Stephen Browett
Last Saturday saw the start of the Football League season and the first match for Crystal Palace under the new ownership of CPFC 2010 - a consortium of 4 people drawn together in a joint effort to save this famous football club (established in 1905) from extinction.
Tuesday, 3rd August 2010 by Stephen Browett
With the 2009 en primeur campaign winding down and our top ten biggest selling wines of the vintage now published, I decided to dash to Bordeaux to re-taste some our most successful 2009's and see how they have developed. I always think we taste them too early on in March/April and with an extra 4 months in barrel it would be fascinating to see how they have developed from our first, hurried look when we tasted nearly 300 wines in four days.
Thursday, 22nd July 2010 by Stephen Browett
Where have all the blogs gone? Those who regularly read the Farr Vintners blogs might very well have been asking that question. With nothing published for the last six weeks you could assume that we've been putting our feet up but - far from it - June and July 2010 have been the two busiest months in the history of Farr Vintners! And the simple reason for that has been the extraordinary phenomenon that is 2009 Bordeaux.
Tuesday, 8th June 2010 by Stephen Browett
OK, a confession, it was actually 25 years ago. In fact it was almost exactly 25 years ago. On June 26th 1985 Farr Vintners sold a bottle of Lafite 1811 for £12,000 in an auction at the Café Royal in London, beating the world record price of £8500 per bottle. It was quite a big story at the time and was featured on the ITN national news.
Thursday, 13th May 2010 by Stephen Browett
There are three questions that we are asked more than any others about 2009 Bordeaux. They are about quality, prices and allocations.
Friday, 16th April 2010 by Stephen Browett
A week ago we released the Farr Vintners Vintage Report and Tasting Notes for 2009 Bordeaux. Such is the huge interest in this potentially great vintage that the immediate result was that our web site crashed because of the biggest number of "hits" that we ever experienced in one day. We have now upgraded the site both with extra power and also with additional tasting notes. Customers are invited to register their interest by placing "pre-orders" and "wish-lists".
Monday, 5th April 2010 by Stephen Browett
The Farr Vintners formation tasting team headed en masse to Bordeaux last week to taste the 2009 vintage. The London sales and purchasing department was joined by Jo and Jessica who arrived overnight from Hong Kong, Barry Phillips (our guru and mentor from Chilgrove) and photographer Colin whose work will shortly be illustrating our web site.
Tuesday, 16th March 2010 by Stephen Browett
Last week Tom, Oliver and I spent a day in Burgundy visiting our most important supplier there, Jean-Marie Guffens. Jean-Marie was once described (by Robert Parker no less) as being "the world's greatest Chardonnay wine-maker" and a visit to his Verget cellars is always one of the highlights of our year.
Friday, 26th February 2010 by Stephen Browett
We have today learnt that one of France's most famous white wines will be changing its name from the 2009 vintage. Laville Haut Brion is possibly the world's finest and most famous dry white wine that is made primarily from the Semillon grape variety (the blend in 2008 was 79% Semillon, 21% Sauvignon Blanc). It's certainly the world's most expensive dry Semillon with a release price en primeur last year of £2600 per dozen. Haut Brion Blanc is, by the way, a 50:50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Wednesday, 3rd February 2010 by Stephen Browett
With the Chinese New Year approaching, the hugely successful Farr Vintners Asia office in Hong Kong currently has strong demand from mainland China for all vintages of Château Lafite. With prices having risen dramatically in the past couple of years, now may well prove to be a very good time to sell any stocks of Lafite that you might be holding. What is for sure is that current Lafite prices are now too heady for almost all European and US buyers and it would appear that nearly every case of Lafite on the world market is heading for China.
Tuesday, 19th January 2010 by Stephen Browett
The very first vintage of Kumeu River Chardonnay that I tasted was the 1987 and I was so impressed with it that we placed our first ex cellars order soon after. Farr Vintners has imported every vintage produced since then. It's a wine that I have served blind countless times and even people who have fallen for it before still identify it as White Burgundy. My first visit to Kumeu was in January 1990 and 20 years on - almost to the day - here I am again, heading out of Auckland to see New Zealand's King of Chardonnay - Michael Brajkovich MW.
Monday, 18th January 2010 by Stephen Browett
Sam Weaver is a man who has done what many of us would love to do, but would never dare. He left his 9 to 5 job in London, set off to the other side of the world with his young family, and learnt how to make wine. His labour of love is only now just coming to full fruition after 20 years of planning and hard work.
Friday, 15th January 2010 by Stephen Browett
If you live in London and plan to visit a winery then the longest journey possible is to the Bannockburn region in Central Otago in New Zealand's South Island. This is the Southern-most vineyard region in the world and the next stop below here is Antartica.
Wednesday, 23rd December 2009 by Stephen Browett
Whilst no one got full marks in our Christmas Quiz, our congratulations and a Jeroboam of Bollinger must go to Kurt Baker who won with a remarkable 49/50, which we think you’ll agree is a pretty impressive score for such a tough quiz.
Wednesday, 16th December 2009 by Stephen Browett
With the extraordinary surge of interest in (and prices of) Chateau Lafite Rothschild it seemed appropriate to arrange a comprehensive tasting of recent vintages. Oliver East and I travelled to Belgium last week where a "bring a bottle" tasting was organised featuring all the important vintages from 2006 back to 1982 and three older years. The same group of people tasted a similar range of Haut Brion last year, Cheval Blanc two years ago and Latour three years ago.
Wednesday, 9th December 2009 by Stephen Browett
There was a review on www.decanter.com last week of the new Galvin brothers restaurant, "La Chapelle", in Spitalfields. Not suprisingly, it lists Jaboulet's Hermitage la Chapelle on the wine list. They apparently offer the rather mediocre 1994 vintage at a staggering £360 per bottle (plus service charge). This is a wine that is available retail at about £40.
Tuesday, 1st December 2009 by Stephen Browett
Customers often ask us how we choose the wines that Farr Vintners sells. To a certain extent the choice is simple as our number one goal is to offer great and famous wines to our customers at the best possible prices. Consequently, when a case of Petrus, Latour or Richebourg is offered to us it's not a question of "if" we want it but only a question of deciding on the price at which we think we can sell it, and then taking a small margin for Farr Vintners. As most of you know, we sell wines on a flat 10% commission for those not in a hurry for payment or buy outright at around a 20% margin if the vendor is looking for a cash sale. Most classic wines have a market price and we always try to find a good balance where both supplier and customer are happy with the deal.
Wednesday, 18th November 2009 by Stephen Browett
Last night we held a tasting at the historic Vintners' Hall in the City of London for some of our private customers. The event was a huge success with over 350 people attending and 82 wines on tasting, ranging from Churton's 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc back to a 1937 Vin Doux Naturel from Maury in South West France.
Tuesday, 27th October 2009 by Stephen Browett
Last week I was very privileged to be asked onto the 3 man tasting panel of "The World of Fine Wine" magazine. The subject matter was one of my favourites - 2005 Bordeaux and, as you can imagine, like most people reading this, I didn't have to be asked twice. My fellow panelists were the wine writer Stephen Brook (author of "The Complete Bordeaux" and numerous other wine and travel books) and wine educator and super-taster Michael Schuster.
Wednesday, 21st October 2009 by Stephen Browett
Today the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux rolled into town to show their 2007's for the first time since this controversial vintage was bottled.
Friday, 16th October 2009 by Stephen Browett
Off to our favourite local restaurant for lunch with George and three visitors from France. Ransome's Dock has been Battersea's best restaurant since it opened in the early 1990's. Martin and Vanessa Lam serve delicious "Modern British" food and boast a brilliant international wine list (current AA restaurant wine list of the year). It's held many a Farr Vintners tasting over the years and was also where I met my wife - but that's another story. Ingredients are carefully sourced here from small independent farmers and fishermen and perfectly cooked with no fancy frills. This is a proper restaurant serving proper food, un-poncy and un-trendy and highly recommended by the Farr Vintners team.
Monday, 12th October 2009 by Stephen Browett
On Friday October 9th Farr Vintners held a comprehensive tasting of the 2002 Red Bordeaux vintage. We showed the wines of the 120 leading Chateaux which were served blind in 10 flights of 12. Our panel of experts included Jancis Robinson MW, Derek Smedley MW, Steven Spurrier of Decanter Magazine and Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate. We also had 2 winemakers with us, 4 Bordeaux "negociants" - led by the hugely experienced France Chauvin - and UK wine trade gurus Roy Richards and Barry Phillips.
Monday, 5th October 2009 by Stephen Browett
We recently took part in a fabulous tasting of 33 vintages of Lynch Bages, including every single wine produced from 2006 to 1980 and then a few older bottles. These were tasted at Cordeillan Bages, just a few hundred metres down the road, with members of the Cazes family, their wine-making team and a few friends from Bordeaux.
Wednesday, 30th September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Oliver East and I have been in Bordeaux for the last few days enjoying some late summer sun and the beaming, smiling faces of the Bordelais.
Thursday, 24th September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Contrasting wine-making styles, personalities and cellar conditions were brought home to me on a recent visit to the Rhône valley.
Tuesday, 22nd September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Those who follow the fine wine market will probably have noticed the remarkable recent rise in price of Carruades de Lafite, the second wine of the famous First Growth. The meteoric price increases have resulted in an extraordinary situation where some vintages are now changing hands for more money than First Growths themselves. Farr Vintners recently sold the 2004 vintage (our rating 15/20) for a higher price than we currently sell Mouton Rothschild, Haut Brion or Cheval Blanc. The 2000 vintage is now selling for over ten times the price at which we sold it to our customers en primeur in June 2001.
Wednesday, 16th September 2009 by Stephen Browett
It's early evening in mid September. It should have been a balmy evening as we wandered down the Uxbridge Road from Shepherd's Bush Green but it wasn't. It was absolutely tipping down with rain. Real rain of the cats and dogs variety. Being a Crystal Palace supporter means visits to some far flung football grounds in all corners of Britain and some fairly dodgy pubs - I don't suppose that many Farr Vintners customers have been to Burnley, Port Vale or even Millwall. Anyway September 15th was QPR away and a rare London Derby so that's why we were getting soaked in W12.
Wednesday, 9th September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Oliver East and I recently jumped aboard the Eurostar to Brussels on our way to one of the world's greatest restaurants. Hof Van Cleve turned out to be nowhere near Brussels and in fact pretty much slap-bang in the middle of nowhere at all. However, it was well worth the journey as the food was absolutely amazing. Hof Van Cleve is the proud holder of 3 michelin stars (only 1 other restaurant in Belgium has 3 stars) and ranked 26 in the world's 100 best restaurants.
Monday, 7th September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Mondragon is not a holiday destination. This little French town is situated south of Montélimar (world capital of nougat) and east of the famous Gorges de l'Ardèche through which I would thoroughly recommend a down-river "escapade" by kayak.
Thursday, 3rd September 2009 by Stephen Browett
Last night Henry Matson and I put on our black ties and headed for The Grosvenor House in Park Lane for the annual IWC Wine Awards. As I don't actually own a black tie, this involved borrowing Tom Hudson's bow tie which only took about 15 minutes of origami-like folding and manipulating to get into a vaguely recognisable shape.