RSJ's 30th anniversary: 1980-2010

2010 was a very special year for us as the RSJ Restaurant celebrated its 30th year. We held a number of special events through the year to mark our 30th birthday.

36th Year: 1980-2016

Another milestone with events happening during our 36th anniversary year.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wines to enjoy at Christmas

RSJ Christmas Wine Offer

The following wines are a special selection from the extensive RSJ wine list and are offered at a discounted rate until the end of the year. We have already put together number of ‘mixed cases’ but please feel free to mix your own cases if you prefer.

A box for Christmas Day £ 52.00
1 bottle: Crémant de Loire Brut, Domaine de Nerleux
Delicious sparkling wine made in the traditional method
from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.
2 bottles: 2006 Sauvignon, Domaine de Bablut
Organically grown Sauvignon from the highly regarded Christophe Daviau.
2 bottles: 2007 Chinon, Domaine de la Perrière Baudry-Dutour
Lovely ripe and fruity with an excellent balance and flavour.
1 bottle: Taylors First Estate Port

The Prestige case (6 bottles) £85.00
(A stunning collection of our vignerons' top wines)
1 bottle: 2004 Les Terrasses, Anjou Blanc Château de la Roulerie, Philippe Germain
1 bottle: 2007 Chenin Blanc, Saumur Frédéric Mabileau
1 bottle: 2006 Bourgueil, Racines, Frédéric Mabileau
1 bottle: 2007 La Croix de Mission, Anjou-Villages-Brissac
Domaine des Rochelles, Jean-Yves Lebreton
1 bottle: 2005 Chinon, Vieilles Vignes Philippe Alliet
1 bottle: 2005 Coteaux du Layon, Les Rouannières (50cl)
Château Pierre-Bise, Claude Papin

Champagne & Sparkling Wine
Crémant de Loire Brut, Domaine de Nerleux £8.95

Vouvray Brut, Domaine Champalou £9.35

Champagne J.P.Robert Brut £16.95


2007 Saumur Blanc, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers £6.25
Dominique Tessier’s lovely ripe Chenin Blanc has a good length and is most appealing.

2006 Muscadet ‘Sur Lie’ Le Clos des Allées £7.35
Pierre Luneau’s stunning Muscadets go from strength to strength and this wine has real ripeness and excellent balance.

2007 Touraine Sauvignon, Jean-François Merieau £7.35
Organically grown from low yields, this lovely ripe Sauvignon has much more concentration than most from this appellation.

2006 Sauvignon, Domaine de Bablut £7.35
Christophe Daviau’s delicious organically produced Sauvignon is ripe, elegant and has a lovely balance.

2007 Château de la Roulerie, Chenin Sec £8.75
Now in the hands of the dynamic Philippe Germain, this famous old Anjou property has gone through a transformation. This superbly balanced ripe fruity wine goes well with lightly spiced and oriental food as well as traditional fish and white meat dishes.

2006 Vouvray Sec, Domaine Champalou £8.75
Didier Champalou’s delicious Vouvray has lovely ripe fruit and great length. It is for wines like this that he is regarded by many as the leading vigneron in this appellation.

2006 Chinon Blanc, Baudry-Dutour £9.50
Although predominantly a region for red wines, a number of vignerons have planted Chenin Blanc with great success, not least Christophe Baudry who has made a delicious ripe and well balanced wine.

2007 Quincy, Domaine des Ballandors £8.95
Jean Tatin’s delicious dry zesty and beautifully balanced award winning Sauvignon is now drinking superbly.

2007 Sancerre Les Pierris Domaine Champault £9.95
This classic Sancerre from the Champault brothers has a lovely blackcurrant nose, ripe Sauvignon flavours and is beautifully balanced.

2007 L’Insolite, Saumur Blanc, Domaine des Roches Neuves £13.85
Thierry Germain’s fabulous Chenin Blanc is made from vines over 75 years old, which gives it a wonderful concentration and complexity. It is aged in oak for several months.

2007 Saumur Rouge, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers £6.25
A ripe and fruity Cabernet Franc from Dominique Tessier – this
wine has an elegance and nice balance
2007 Anjou Rouge, Domaine Ogereau £7.20
Easy drinking, fruity and with a nice concentration, Vincent Ogereau’s latest vintage is fantastic value.

2007 Touraine Gamay, Jean-François Merieau £7.35
Delicious fruity Gamay from low yields grown organically by this much vaunted young vigneron.

2007 Chinon, Domaine de la Perrière, Baudry-Dutour £7.95
Christophe Baudry’s lovely 2007 is packed with ripe fruit - it has a glorious nose of violets and a lovely balance.

2007 Chateau Peyredoulle, Premières Cotes de Blaye £7.50
Made from predominantly Merlot, this ripe attractive Claret is drinking very well.

2007 ‘Les Rouilleres’ St Nicolas de Bourgueil £8.40
Frédéric Mabileau’s delicious 2007 is rich ripe and elegant with an excellent balance.

2007 Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny £8.50
The highly regarded Thierry Germain has made a delicious Champigny this year, full of ripe fruit and charm.

2006 Domaine des Rochelles Anjou Villages £8.95
Jean-Yves Lebreton has produced a wonderful wine made from Cabernet Franc – it has a lovely concentration and length.

2006 Bourgueil ‘Racines’ Frédéric Mabileau £9.95
Frédéric Mabileau is recognised by his peers as one of the finest vignerons in the Loire valley and his 2006 Bourgueil, made from old vines, has lovely ripe fruit and a very good length and concentration enhanced by careful ageing in oak.

2007 Sancerre Rouge ‘Les Pierris’ Domaine Champault £9.95
Delicious Pinot Noir from the Champault brothers with good balance and drinking well.

2005 Chinon ‘ Vieilles Vignes’ Philippe Alliet £15.95
Stunning wine from this great vintage made from very old vines and aged in new oak. Lovely rich and concentrated. A masterpiece from Chinon’s greatest wine maker.

Sweet Wines
The following selection of sweet wines go extremely well with blue cheese, Foie Gras and various fruit desserts – why not treat yourself to a bottle or two this Christmas?

2005 Coteaux du Layon Cuvée Prestige, Domaine Ogereau (50cl) £11.50

2005 Coteaux du Layon, Les Rouannières, Château Pierre-Bise, Claude Papin (50cl) £11.95

2003 Quarts de Chaume, Château Pierre-Bise, Claude Papin (50cl) £19.50

Please place your orders with Tom King on or telephone 020-7928 4554.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Noël Pinguet: Domaine Huet (Vouvray): 2008 vintage

A quick call to Noël Pinguet to catch up on how the vintage has been for him in Vouvray*.

Noël: “2008 is a small harvest for us in Vouvray – only 23/24 hl/ha. There weren’t many potential grapes to begin with and then, in May, we suffered badly from mildew. Acidity levels are quite high – between 6-8 grams per litre. The majority of our wine will be demi-sec, with a little bit of sec but no moelleux. I’m reminded of 1998 and 2002, although in 2002 we made moelleux. The sec wines will probably have around 10 grams of residual, while the demi-sec will be between 20-25 gms.”

1996 Clos du Bourg demi-sec:
currently showing well

(*Historical note: following Gaston Huet’s death in 2002, the Huet family sold out in 2003 to Anthony Hwang, who took a controlling share, with 20% held by Noël Pinguet. Prior to the sale Noël had no share in the domaine, although he has been involved since 1976.)

Web:Domaine Huet

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2009: some dates for your diaries

We have now fixed the first set of dates for 2009 for both Ursula Ferrigno’s Sunday lunches and the wine tasting dinners – the first three are all on a Monday night. We are still working on the themes and will get these to you as soon as possible. We hope that at least one of the March wine tasting dinners will be hosted by a Loire producer.

19th January: wine tasting dinner
25th January: Ursula Ferrigno’s Sunday lunch
Glorious Sicily
2nd March: wine tasting dinner
15th March: Ursula Ferrigno’s Sunday lunch
30th March: wine tasting dinner
26th April: Ursula Ferrigno’s Sunday lunch

Provisional bookings and any queries to Tom King on or telephone 020-7928 4554.

‘Cellar Raid’: tasting and dinner

(17th November 2008)

The opportunity to delve into the RSJ’s wine archives attracted a lively and knowledgeable crowd on Monday evening, who filled the upstairs dining area. Some 44 sat down to a tasting of ten wines and three courses.

The evening’s dominant topic – bottle variation – soon emerged with those on the eastern side of the restaurant faring best, while those closer to the setting suffered a few disappointing bottles, in particular the 2001 Les Rouillières Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil from Frédéric Mabileau and the 1989 Cuvée Reservé Bourgueil from Pierre-Jacques Druet. To rub salt into their wounds the east end enjoyed very good bottles of both the Druet and the Mabileau.

The cork is the most obvious variable between the bottles. However, the variations which tend to increase as the wine ages may well be compounded by storage conditions. I suspect, although I have no proof, that a tasting of three bottles of Pierre-Jacques Druet’s 1989 cuvée reservé in his troglodyte cave at Bougueil might well have shown less variation. Furthermore one of the 1989s was corked. If the milk or orange juice industries had a similar failure rate they would have long been out of business, although it is unusual to attempt to keep milk for nearly 20 years!

With the exception of the aperitif and the last three reds, the wines were served in pairs.

Tasting & Dinner: 17th November 2008


1] 2006 Saumur Blanc, Domaine de Nerleux, Régis Neau £7.20
100% Chenin Blanc, this is long been one of the RSJ's best selling whites. Attractively citric and floral but with some weight from the 2006 vintage. 2007 likely to be more racy.

(Unfortunately none available to purchase.)

2] 1996 Savennières Roche-aux-Moines, Madame Laroche
The Roche-aux-Moines is a particularly well-sited 19 ha sub-appellation within Savennières with a number of owners. This estate, with just over eight hectares of Chenin, is now run by Monique and her daughter, Tessa. We have tasted these wines over a number of years and continue to find them erratic and only rarely do they match the potential of the vineyards.

The 1996 showed considerable oxidation along with considerable power and character. This is a wine that will be liked by those who are happy with a measure of oxidation and rejected by those who do not. Questionable how far the oxidation is a Savennières’ characteristic and how far down to winemaking.

3] 2002 Chinon Blanc Cuvée Confidentiel Christophe Baudry
Out of 2300 hectares of Chinon in production only 40 ha are planted with Chenin Blanc. Christophe Baudry used to make small amounts of this barrel fermented white as well as a straight cuvée fermented in stainless steel. Since joining Jean-Martin Dutour to form Baudry-Dutour, this cuvée is no longer made.

2002 is a very well balanced vintage and this shows in this wine with its attractive blend of crispness and weight along with good vibrant length. Of the two wines the majority preferred this.

Langoustine, Mullet & Sea bass tartlet with a ginger butter sauce
(served with wines 3 and 4)

1997 Cuvée Alain Chabert Alain Rohart Vouvray

4] 1997 Vouvray, Cuvée Alain Chabert Alain Rohart
Nigel and Jim went to see Alain Rohart in Vouvray some 8 to 10 years ago. He has 5 ha of vines in Vouvray and Rochecorbon – mainly Chenin but a little Gamay, Grolleau and Pinot Noir bottled as AC Touraine.

1997 was a very fine vintage with a good summer and a warm autumn giving rich wines. The cuvée Alain Chabert is Rohart’s entry level Vouvray sec. The 1997 showed very well, although it was just a touch rustic and lacked the precision of flavour found in those of Huet or Foreau. Some said that this was ‘classic Vouvray’, while one person found it smelled of the ‘barnyard’.

1997 Les Cormiers Saumur Blanc, Château de Villeneuve

5] 1997 Saumur Blanc, Les Cormiers Jean-Pierre Chevallier
Jean-Pierre undoubtedly ranks as one our top Loire producers both in reds and dry whites. His work both the cellar and, particularly, in the vineyard is meticulous.

Les Cormiers comes from old Chenin vines and is J-P’s top white, which is fermented and aged in 500 litre barrels for 11 months. The 1997 had attractive richness, some honey balanced with minerality. For Nigel and Jim this was the wine of the evening. However, the majority preferred the Vouvray.

The whites showed that decanting isn’t just for red wines – good whites will also benefit. Les Cormiers wasn’t decanted and was served too cold, so needed time to open out in the glass.

6] 2001 St Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Les Rouillères’ Frédéric Mabileau
2001 was an average Loire vintage with a quite difficult and wet September with the weather improving around mid-October. Last night this was the first example of flagrant bottle variation. About half the room thought this was well over-the-hill and that it should have been drunk a couple of years ago, while one section were delighted with their bottle with Trevor waxing lyrically declaring it to be the best wine of the evening.

Frédéric is now one of the top producers in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and we hope he will be over to do a tasting for us in the first half of 2009.

Michel Robineau: Anjou Villages 1995

7] 1995 Anjou Villages
Michel Robineau
Nigel and Jim went to see Michel at his very small winery in Saint-Lambert-du-Lattay a couple of times some eight or nine years ago. Then form memory Michel had just four or five hectares now that is up to ten.

1995 was the first good vintage after 1990 and ended a run of four difficult vintages that began with the frost of April 1991. The reds, however, have quite firm tannins particularly from Anjou and highish acidity. They have aged well with having the charm of the 1996s. This was typical of 1995 and really needs food.

Beef Wellington, buttered French beans & young carrots
red wine jus
(served with wines 8, 9 and 10.)

8] 1989 Bourgueil Cuvée Reservé Pierre-Jacques Druet
Although hailing from Chissay in Loir-et-Cher, oenologue Pierre-Jacques has established himself as one of the leading producers in western Touraine. As already mentioned earlier this was badly afflicted by bottle variation. The good one showing the perfume, richness and charm that makes 1989 such a geat vintage.

1996 Chinon Beaumont Pierre Breton

9] 1996 Chinon Beaumont Pierre Breton
Several Bourgueil producers also have vines in the Chinon appellation often in Beaumont probably as it is the closest to Bourgueil – Druet is another. Pierre’s Chinon had good weight, though with slightly drying tannins and it went well with the beef.

10] 2002 Saumur Champigny, Les Loups Noirs Domaine de Nerleux
Nerleux means black wolf in old French, so hence the name Loups Noir from a parcel of particularly well-exposed old vines overlooking the valley of the Thouet. Aged in barrel, this cuvee has the potential to age for at least 10-15 years. The Loup Noirs 2002, while not as rich as 2003 or 2005, showed well last night showing a touch of gaminess, some rich fruit, good balance and length. It was the preferred wine of the trio, although the outcome would have been decidedly interesting if there had been two good bottles of Druet.

Chocolate Cherry Torte with Kirsch

The waiting and kitchen staff were given a rousing round of applause at the end of the evening. We are hoping to soon publish our first events of 2009 on this blog and the website. (Now up – posted 18th November.)

Any comments from anyone at the tasting are most welcome.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 news from Chinon


Jean-Martin@the Baudry-Dutour winery in Panzoult

Jean-Martin Dutour: “I’m very happy with the quality but our bank manager isn’t happy about the volume we’ve made this year. It doesn’t take long to do a tour of all the vats! Overall our average yield is 35 hl/ha – on parts of the plain around Cravant it is only 30. We lost 10 hl/ha from the early April frost and then 10 hl/ha like everyone else from other factors during the year such as the drying wind during September and October.

But the quality is very good, although for the moment the acidities are high – there’s a lot of malic. We will have to see what happens once the malolactic fermentation is finished. We started picking around the 4th/5th October and finished on 20th. The grapes’ potential varied between 12% and 14%. Once again this year there has been no need to chaptalise.”

I ask Jean-Martin if there is another vintage that 2008 resembles. His response is commendably cautious. “It is really too early to say. It depends upon how far the acidity lessens and softens. High acidity means that the wines will age a long time but won’t necessarily get better as high acidity never softens – take 1986, for example. Certainly the reds are bigger than last year – more structured and with more substance.”

Friday, November 14, 2008

2008: Eric Nicolas Jasnières + Frédéric Mabileau (update)

View from Jasnières vineyards towards La Chartre-sur-Loir

Christine and Eric Nicolas: Domaine de Bellivière (Jasnières)
2008 is one of those dry years that we have become used to over the last few years. However, the year’s circles were different and the rain was spread at different times from normal during the year. Unfortunately it is difficult to trust Meteo France’s forecasts enough to help plan our work. It is the same during the vintage. I’m now writing this at a calmer moment after we finished the harvest just before a band of rain that we only had a few hours advance notice.

The grapes had a potential alcohol between 13%-14,2% allowing us to make dry whites and vibrant and fine reds. The reds have the potential for a great Loire vintage with delicate aromas and a fine balance of freshness and tannin. They should age well.

The whites are very similar to 2002 with a lot of variation in the stages of maturity from the ripe Chenin. The acidity levels remain high allowing them to age well. And the variations of maturity will give complex wines.

As far as volume is concerned 2008 is good without being excessive. The juice is now fermenting and the first indications are promising.

Frédéric, Sarah Ahmed (The Wine Detective)
and Thomas: August 2008

Frédéric Mabileau, St Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Bourgueil and Anjou

Thomas Meunier (commercial director): “The fine weather held right to the end of the harvest and the grapes were properly mature. We are very happy, although it is a small harvest. Overall the average yield is 37 hl/ha. This compares to 47 hl/ha last year. Unfortunately we will only have a third of normal of Les Rouillères.

The reds already taste round though they have yet to go through the malo and the press wine is delicious. We expect that this will be the first year since 2005 that we have made L’Éclipse, which has just gone into barrel.

As last year we picked the Chenin for the Saumur in two sweeps through the vineyard. During the first on Saturday 11th October we picked the golden coloured grapes that were around 13% potential. Then we picked again two weeks later we had about 30% with noble rot and between 14.2%-14.5% potential. We are vinifying the same way as last year with 25% in new wood and the rest in tank.”

We are hoping that Frédéric Mabileau will be over for a tasting at the RSJ sometime in the first part of next year and are in the process of sorting out a convenient date. Will let you know once we have confirmation.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Eat London and other guides

Autumn – means the appearance of the annual restaurant guides in addition, of course, to the Loire vintage. We are very pleased to be featured in a new guide called A hedonist’s guide to … Eat London – the restaurant insiders’ guide to London’s best restaurants.

Eat London advises diners at the RSJ to ‘abuse the wine list’ and lists us ‘a clandestine rendezvous’! ‘The cooking is French on the whole, but takes in Mediterranean influences and likes to make use of name-checked seasonal British ingredients.’

‘The wine list, a favourite of Heston Blumenthal (celebrated chef@The Fat Duck), is a long love letter to the Loire Valley, with the 250 or so different bins from the region.’ The scope of our selection of wines by the glass is also praised.

There are 150 London restaurants listed and chosen by ‘those who know the most about food’. Those in the know include Angela Hartnett, Bill Knott, Fay Maschler, Gary Rhodes, Giles Coren, Heston Blumenthal, Jancis Robinson, Jay Rayner, Oliver Peyton, Pierre Koffman, Rpwley Leigh, Trevor Gulliver and Zoe Williams.

The Good Food Guide 2008
We have now notched up 28 years without interruption in the UK’s most famous and long established guide. We do, however, have some way to go before we can match the Connaught with 56 years or the Gay Hussar with 52!

‘RSJ’s long standing appeal is the list of wonderful Loire wines and a sensibly modern menu that for many years fused French and British styles, but is now incorporating Italian dishes’.

Montlouis: new name on the list and other recent additions

Stéphane Cossais
(Click on name above for more details from Jim’s Loire)

Not José Mourinho but Stéphane Cossais

We think Montlouis is currently one of the Loire’s most exciting appellations. Much of the excitement comes from a series of outsiders who have set up here. We are delighted to have the stunning 2005 Le Volagre from Stephane Cossais (wonderful purity – almost Burgundian in flavour, balance and weight) on the restaurant wine list for £35.95. Nigel will be ordering shortly some Montlouis from Stéphane’s mate Frantz Saumon.

Didier Dagueneau: September 2007

Other new arrivals include 2004 Buisson Renard Pouilly Fumé (£45.99) from the late Didier Dagueneau and from François Cotat in Sancerre 2004 Les Mont Damnés and 2004 Le Cul de Beaujeu both at £35.95.