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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Late summer news round up

2010 Good Food Guide
We are delighted that the RSJ is once again in the annual Good Food Guide for the 29th consecutive time!

Chefs' weekly tips
Starting next week RSJ News will feature dishes of the week recommendations from our chefs. The plan is to kick off with a starter, main course and dessert. The emphasis will be on ingredients that are in season or what is particularly good in the market at the moment. We'll also be suggesting wines to go with these dishes. Normally we will be posting on Tuesday but due to the Bank Holiday the first edition of chefs' tips will be posted on Wednesday 2nd September.

Christmas party menus
Although it seems daft on the late summer bank holiday our Christmas menus are now up on the RSJ website. Actually Christmas Day is now less than four months away! The menus will be available from 1st December. Click here for details. Our all year party menus can be found here.

Claude Champault drawing a sample of red Sancerre from a barrel

2008 Les Perris, Sancerre, Roger Champault et fils
The new vintage of Les Perris from the Champault family has just arrived. Nigel and I tasted it in the restaurant last night and were decidedly impressed. The 2008 is refreshingly citric, with a touch of grassy and gooseberry aromas, some weight and with attractively crisp mineral acidity in the finish. Shouldn''t be served too chilled.

October 2008: Entrance to the Champault winery during the 2008 harvest – tractor has arrived with new load of grapes

Les Perris comes from vines planted on clay and limestone around the small village of Champtin, where the Champaults have their chai. Roger has now largely retired and it is his two sons – Claude and Laurent – who are now in charge. Laurent is responsible for the vineyards, while Claude looks after the vinification and the commercial side.

£25.95 on the restaurant list; currently available on the retail list at the special price of £10.65 a bottle.

The little village of Champtin surrounded by vines

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bordeaux 2009: promising so far

23rd August 2009: ripening bunch in the vineyards of Pichon-Longueville

The RSJ is not known for paying too much attention to Bordeaux. However spending last weekend with friends in Pauillac did give me a chance to have a look at how the grapes are looking towards the end of August. Unfortunately vintages throughout France are often judged as good or bad by what happens in Bordeaux. Crazy, of course, but true!

23rd August 2009: grapes@Pichon-Longueville

This is the third successive year that I have spent the weekend around the 20th-22nd in Pauillac. There is absolutely no doubt that the grapes are looking far better at this stage than they have in the previous two vintages with ripening further advanced and more even than in 2008 and 2007. Much can still go wrong – three weeks of continuous rain, for example. We are now getting to the 'squeaky bum' stage of the vintage year in the memorable words of Sir Alex Ferguson when talking about the finale to the football league season. So close and yet so far if the weather turns against you. However if the weather holds up, it is reasonable to think that there is the prospect of a very good vintage in the Médoc in 2009.

23rd August 2009: ripening grapes@Lynch-Bages

19th August 2007: uneven ripening at Château Lynch-Bages

In 2007 the grapes were well behind and ripening at an uneven rate – a mix of green and black grapes. What a contrast to 2009 where it has recently been hot and dry. In 2008 at this time the vineyards were saturated with water like an enormous sponge!

21st August 2008: Château Pichon-Longueville (above and below)

Much less advanced than 2009 and more patchy ripening

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 in Touraine

Vouvray: small bunch of ripening Chenin Blanc

With over two thirds of August gone, this has certainly been a far better high summer than either 2007 and 2008 and so far has been the warmest since 2003. Last Friday I visited Laurant Bonneau, a promising new Vouvray producer whose first vintage was 2006. Vouvray has escaped the hail that has devastated some vineyards in the Cher Valley and also Menetou-Salon.

Vouvray: another small bunch of ripening Chenin

Bonneau's Chenin Blanc was looking good with the veraison beginning with the grapes being to turn translucent. There is still just over a month to go before the vintage starts and it is very much crossed fingers' time. As it has recently been very dry, a little rainfall would be beneficial but not a downpour.

Burnt grapes – sun damage

Although you need sunshine to ripen the grapes, it can be too fierce and burn unprotected bunches. This damage is probably very recent when temperatures have hit over 35˚C in the last week. Deleafing is now popular practice, especially on the side facing the morning sun which is less fierce.

Esca claims another vine

Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more prone to esca, the vine disease, but Chenin like other varieties is not immune as the dying vine above shows.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Two very fine Loire restaurants

La Promenade, Le Petit-Pressigny

Very happy to bring to your attention two very good Loire restaurants: La Promenade in Le Petit Pressigny in southern Touraine and Le Lièvre Gourmand in Vailly-sur-Sauldre in the northern Berry to the north west of Sancerre.

Le Lièvre Gourmand, Vailly-sur-Sauldre

Both restaurants are deep in the countryside in places where you wouldn't normal expect to find such excellent restaurants.

There are reports here on Jim's Loire on two recent meals: La Promenade and Le Lièvre Gourmand.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brief Loire weather report

Hail damage in the Cher Valley: bunches smashed, canes marked.

The weather during this year's growing season seems to have been rather patchy – patchy in the sense of frequent variations but also in the sense of variations between place.

Parts of Anjou have been very dry with virtually no rain since early June, whereas the Cher Valley and the Central Vineyards have seen quite frequent storms. A cycle of a couple of days warm weather ending in storm and then it starting again. Some of the storms have been violent with hail causing significant damage in places, especially Menetou-Salon – twice in May and also in July. Parts of the Cher Valley hhave also been hit by hail.

Ripening bunch of grapes (5.8.09) with very slight hail damage, which should cause any problems

Mildew has been a problem in the Cher Valley and also in the Central Vineyards but not in parts of Anjou as it has been so dry.

More details on Jim's Loire here, here and here.