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, December 23, 2011

Alex Cano: new head chef@RSJ

Alex Cano: our new head chef 

After six years working for the Gastro-pub group ETM, Alex Cano, who originally hails from Columbia, has joined the RSJ as our new head chef. London pubs in the ETM group include The Gun, Empress of India, The Botanist and the Chiswell  

"Alex joined us in November and I'm really pleased with the way that he has coped. It is never easy coming into a restaurant kitchen just before the Christmas rush and I am delighted that Alex has handled it so well."

Alex in less serious mood!


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Touraine East and West – report on tasting

2009 Les Pichiaux, Touraine Sauvignon, Noëlla Morantin 

Monday’s tasting and dinner presented a ‘natural wine’ challenge in the shape of Noëlla Morantin’s 2009 Touraine Sauvignon ‘Les Pichaux’ (£12.95)

Overall the theme was Touraine East and West, although the balance of wines was rather more east (6) to west (3).

2010 Le Clos, Touraine Sauvignon, Domaine du Clos Roussely

The aperitif was Vincent Roussley’s 2010 ‘le Clos’ Sauvignon Blanc (£8.75). This is a modern Touraine Sauvignon with attractive grapefruit and other citric flavours, some palate weight and the quite marked acidity in the finish, which is characteristic of the 2010 vintage. Vincent’s wines continue to be consistently good and offer very fair value.  

Noëlla’s 2009 Sauvignon caused the assembled tasters to lose their bearings with little or none of the stereotypical characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc. Instead ‘Les Pichaux’ has some oxidative and leesy characters from its long fermentation and maturation.  For me Noëlla’s wines fall well within the acceptable side of my continuum of drinkability. However, the vast majority present weren’t convinced.

I kept some of Les Pichaux for a good hour and it certainly changed in the glass with the oxidative character lessening. Instead developing an aroma of bread pudding. I fancy that this may well need to be decanted. Clearly some experimentation is required.
2010 3 Coteaux Chinon Blanc, Baudry-Dutour

Then we moved onto a trio of Chenins. The 2010 screcwapped 3 Coteaux Chinon Blanc (£11.95) from Baudry-Dutour is light and lemony with an austere finish – probably good with shellfish. 

2010 Les Dix Arpents, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups

Jacky and Joëlle Blot’s long and minerally 2010 Les Dix Arpents Montlouis, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups was many people’s favourite white. Although this is the Blots entry level Montlouis it still underlined the quality of the wines they are making.  

2009 Vouvray Champalou

The 2009 Vouvray Sec from Domaine Champalou (£11.95) was the richest of the whites tasted showing the fuller character of the 2009 vintage and also doubtless having a little more residual sugar than the other whites. It attracted some followers, although Le Dix Arpents was judged to be the complex wine. 
2009 Racines, Bourgueil, Frédéric Mabileau

Frédéric Mabileau’s 2009 Racines Bourgueil (£13.75) comes from a one hectare plot on clay and gravel at Chouzé-sur-Loire, a commune by the Loire and to the south of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. Frédéric’s grandfather planted the vines here over 45 years ago. It has attractive spicy, youthful fruit with some opulence. Best drunk I think over the next three or four years rather than for long aging, where Frédéric’s L’Eclipse Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil from the limestone coteaux is a much better bet if looking for a wine to lay down. 

2008 KO, Thierry Puzelat

Thierry Puzelat’s 2008 KO Vin de table Français (£13.75) proved to be popular with its sous bois and farmyard character. I suspect that a number of Australian winemakers, looking for squeaky clean wines would dismiss this as technically faulty. However, it think it works and is drinking well now. The wines sold under the Thierry Puzelat name are négociant wines made from grapes bought from producers who have a similar approach to organic viticulture as Thierry. The Domaine du Tué-Bouef is the family estate in Les Montils, where Thierry and his elder brother, Jean-Marie, work together.  

1997 Cuvée Prestige, Domaine du Bourg, Jean-Paul Mabileau

The 1997 Cuvée Prestige, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil from Domaine du Bourg, Jean-Paul Mabileau, Frédéric’s father had aged well with its sweet evolved fruit – an elegant, complex and delicate wine. Often when tasting Jean-Paul’s wines when they were young, particularly when tasted alongside Frédéric’s they seemed rather thin and weak. But they had a deceptive power with the ability to take on more weight with a few years in bottle and to age well. This 1997 is showing well now and, although I don’t think it will get better, it will still last a few more years.
2008 Anthologie du Clos, Vincent Roussely

We finished with the 2008 Anthologie du Clos from Vincent Roussely (£9.95), which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Côt. Like several 2008s it is quite edgy at the moment needing more time for the acidity and tannins to soften down. It also needs food and showed well with the tasty game casserole served as main course.     



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Touraine East & West: RSJ tasting and dinner on Monday 21st November

Frédéric Mabileau with 2011 Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil

Wines and menu for Monday nights event:


2010 Touraine 'Le Clos' Sauvignon, Vincent Roussely


2009 Sauvignon 'Les Pichiaux', Noëlla Morantin

2010 Chinon Blanc  3 Coteaux Baudry- Dutour

2009 Vouvray Sec Catherine and Didier Champalou

2010 Montlouis 'Les Dix Arpents' Domaine de la Taille aux Loups, Jacky Blot


2009 Bourgueil 'Racines' Frédéric Mabileau

1997 St Nicolas de Bourgueil 'Cuvée Prestige' Jean-Paul Mabileau

2008 Anthologie du Clos,  Vincent Roussely

2008 Touraine KO 'In Cot We Trust', Thierry Puzelat


Pan seared fillet of Sea Bass, lobster & salmon tortellini bisque, wilted red chard

Game casserole, truffle mash, winter vegetable crisps

Plus one of George's finest desserts when he has decided!

Friday, November 11, 2011

RSJ Christmas Wine Offer 2011

Vincent Roussely (Touraine)

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 a number of ‘mixed cases’ but please feel free to mix your own cases if you prefer.

To order:  tel 020-7928 4554   e-mail:
A box for Christmas Day  £ 57.00 

1 bottle                 Crémant de Loire Brut, Domaine de Nerleux              
Delicious dry sparkling wine made in the traditional method from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay.

2 bottles                2010 Touraine Sauvignon, Domaine du Clos Roussely
Stunning Sauvignon from a wonderful recent discovery, Vincent Roussely.

2 bottles                2009  Anjou Rouge, Domaine Ogereau
Lovely ripe and fruity with an excellent balance and flavour.

1 bottle                 Taylors First Estate Port
Ripe well structured port from this famous house.

                                The Prestige case [6 bottles]             £90.00
                                    [A stunning collection of our Vignerons top wines]

1 bottle                 2003 Le L’d’Or Muscadet, Vieilles Vignes 
                                Pierre Luneau
1 bottle                 2009  ‘Petit Princé’ Chenin Blanc
                                Christophe Daviau
1 bottle                 2009 St Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘Eclipse’
                                Frédéric Mabileau
1 bottle                 2008 ‘Evanescence’ Anjou Villages
                                Yves Guégniard
1 bottle                 2009 ‘La Croix de Mission’ Anjou Villages
                              Jean-Yves Lebreton
1 bottle                  2009 Coteaux du Layon ‘Les Rouannières’ [50cl]
                               Claude Papin

 12 Bottles for the Festive Season  £ 137.00

2 bottles                2010 Sancerre ‘Les Pierris’
                                Domaine Champault
2 bottles                2010 Chateau de la Roulerie, Chenin Sec
                                Philippe Germain
1 bottle                 2008 Anjou Villages
                                Vincent Ogereau
2 bottles                2009 Chinon, Domaine de la Perrière
                                Christophe Baudry                            
2 bottles                2010 St Nicolas de Bourgueil ‘ Les Rouillères’
                                Frédéric Mabileau
1 bottle                 Crémant de Loire Brut
                                Domaine de Nerleux
1 bottle                 2007 Coteaux du Layon ‘Clos de la Soucherie’
                                Claude Papin
1 bottle                 Taylors LBV 2004 Port

Champagne & Sparkling Wine
Crémant de Loire Brut, Domaine de Nerleux  11.30  (Normal)                 £10.40 (Discount)

Crémant de Loire Rosé, Domaine de Nerleux            11.30                      £10.40

Vouvray Brut, Domaine Champalou                            £13.45                   £12.15

Champagne J.P.Robert Brut                                        £21.50                   £19.50

2010 Saumur Rouge, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers    £8.70 (Normal)                      £7.95 (Discount)
A ripe and fruity Cabernet Franc from Dominique Tessier – this wine has an elegance and nice balance

2010 Touraine Gamay, Domaine du Clos Roussely                   £8.70                      £7.95
Delicious fruity Gamay from low yields grown organically by this exciting young vigneron.

2009 Anjou Rouge, Domaine Ogereau                                     £9.25                      £8.55
Easy drinking, fruity and with a nice concentration, Vincent Ogereau’s latest vintage is fantastic value.

2009 Chinon, Domaine de la Perrière                                         £9.95                      £9.20
Christophe Baudry’s lovely 2009 is packed with ripe fruit – it has a glorious nose of violets and a lovely balance.

2010 ‘Les Rouillères’ St Nicolas de Bourgueil                           £11.20                   £10.35
Frederic Mabileau’s delicious 2009 is rich ripe and elegant with an excellent balance.

2010 Saumur Champigny Dom. des Roches Neuves                £11.75                   £10.85
The highly regarded Thierry Germain has made a delicious Champigny this year, full of ripe fruit and charm.

2009 Anjou Villages ‘Breton’ Domaine des Rochelles                £11.95                   £11.05
Jean-Yves Lebreton’s excellent 2009 is packed with wonderful fruit and is superbly balanced.

2009 Sancerre Rouge ‘Les Pierris’                                                 £12.95                   £11.95
Delicious Pinot Noir from the Champault brothers with good balance and drinking really well.

2010  Bourgueil ‘Racines’                                                               £13.75                   £12.75
Frédéric Mabileau is recognised by his peers as one of the finest vignerons in the Loire valley and his 2010 Bourgueil, made from old vines, has lovely ripe fruit and a very good length and concentration enhanced by careful ageing in oak.

2008  ‘Evanescence’  Anjou Villages                                             £15.70                   £14.50
Yves Guegniard has produced a wonderful wine made from Cabernet Franc – it has a lovely concentration and length.

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?

2009/10 Coteaux du Layon, Domaine Ogereau                                           £13.25 (normal)                 £12.25 (discount)

2007 Coteaux du Layon, ‘Soucherie’ Claude Papin [50cl]                        £15.75                  £17.05

2009 Coteaux du Layon ‘Les Rouannières’ Claude Papin [50cl]            £18.25                  £16.85

2006 Quarts de Chaume, Château Pierre Bise [50cl]                 £22.95                   £21.25

DRY WHITE                                                                                                    
2010 Saumur Blanc, Domaine des Hauts de Sanziers £8.70 (Normal)  £7.95 (discount)
Dominique Tessier’s lovely ripe Chenin Blanc has a good length and is most appealing.

2010 Touraine Sauvignon, Vincent Roussely  £8.70                      £7.95
Organically grown from low yields, this lovely ripe Sauvignon has much more concentration than most from this appellation.

2010 Sauvignon, Domaine de Bablut      £8.95                      £8.25
Christophe Daviau’s delicious organically produced Sauvignon is ripe, elegant and has a lovely balance.

2009 Muscadet Vieilles Vignes, ‘Le Clos des Allées’                 £9.75                      £8.95
Pierre Luneau’s stunning Muscadets go from strength to strength and this wine from a special site has real ripeness and excellent balance.   

2009  Petit Princé Chenin Blanc Dom. de Bablut,                                      11.95                      £11.05
Christophe Daviau’s lovely Chenin Blanc is made organically and is bottled on the lees. It has a wonderful concentration and complexity.

2010 Château de la Roulerie, Chenin Sec       £12.10                   £11.15
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.

2009 Vouvray Sec, Domaine Champalou                             £12.10                   £11.15
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.

2010 Quincy, Domaine des Ballandors                                   £12.15                   £11.25
Jean Tatin’s delicious dry zesty and beautifully balanced Sauvignon is now drinking superbly.

2010 Sancerre ‘Les Pierris’ Domaine Champault                   £12.75                   £11.85
This classic Sancerre from the Champault brothers has a lovely blackcurrant nose, ripe Sauvignon flavours and is beautifully balanced.

2010 Pouilly Fumé, Domaine Treuillet                                      £12.95                   £11.95
Superbly balanced Pouilly from exciting new discovery, Sébastien Treuillet – delicious!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

2011 Loire vintage: Chantal Wilk and Jean Tatin (Reuilly and Quincy)

Chantal Wilk with the 2011 Reuilly Pinot Gris and Jean Tatin with the 2011 Reuilly Blanc

In early October we dropped in to see Chantal Wilk and Jean Tatin at Domaine du Tremblay. Chantal and Jean have vines in both Reuilly and Quincy. Their 2011 vintage had been more complicated than for Denis, especially in Quincy where they had been hit by hail on 2nd May. Quincy appears to be decidedly susceptible to hail as it often seems to be hit. Perhaps it is a question of storms travelling up and down the Cher Valley. 

Jean: "Between 12th July and the end of August we had 200mm of rain, so there was a real threat of rot. Yields for the Reuilly Rouge (Pinot Noir) is 50 hl/ha, while the Sauvignon Blanc for our Reuilly is between 50-55hl/ha. We picked the white twice – by hand when it was just getting ripe and getting rid of rotten grapes. Then later we went back to pick the ripe and healthy grapes later by machine. we picked between the 10th and 15th September."

'Our Pinot Noir in Reuilly come from a parcel in Preuilly, which the grandfather of my grandmother acquired in 1873. It is planted on gravel, so it produces a light red." In 2010 they planted some Pinot Noir on clay and limestone in the commune of Reuilly itself."   

"In Quincy only have 50% of a normal crop. One third of our vines were untouched, while in the remaining two thirds damage ranged from 30%-100%. The storm that hit us on 2nd May travelled across from the south west to the north west. We have only made 10-15 hl/ha in the affected parcels and didn't pick until later – at the beginning of October. The Sauvignon is around 12.7% alcohol with 5.5 acidity. Fortunately we had a good quantity of stock from the 2010 vintage which will make it easier to manage the shortfall in 2011."          

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RSJ tasting and dinner: cellar raid – 10th October

Pierre Luneau drawing a sample of his 2011 Muscadet: late September

Brief report on the event

1] 2010 Rose d’Anjou, Château de la Roulerie, Philippe Germain      

2] 2003 Muscadet sur lie  Le L’d’Or, Pierre Luneau £12.25
3] 1997 Vouvray Sec, Domaine Champalou, Didier Champalou

4] 1989 Montlouis Sec, Dominique Moyer

Cauliflower risotto with pan-seared scallops


5] 2000 Saumur Champigny, Domaine des Roches Neuves, Thierry Germain

6] 2000 Saumur Champigny, Terres Chaudes, Thierry Germain

7] 1996 Anjou Villages, Domaine des Rochelles, Jean-Yves Lebreton

8] 1989 Chinon, Domaine de la Perrière, Christophe Baudry

Featherblade of beef, carrots, green beans, mashed potato

9] 1995 Vouvray Cuvée Moelleuse, Didier Champalou                                   

A selection of cheeses

Tom King’s comments following the tasting:

L' d'Or 2003  was nicely balanced and still remarkably fresh.

1997 Vouvray Champalou was quite dark colour and ageing fairly quickly [a touch of maderisation]  - a '97 lacking the acidity of some other vintages.
(Jim: acidity was quite low in many 1997s.)

1989 Montlouis Moyer - 2nd bottle much better than first - still had a remarkable freshness and nice fruit.

2000 S/C Roches Neuves Domaine - remarkable! drinking really well with lovely balance and good fruit – the surprise of the evening.

2000 Terres Chaudes - very good - obviously more weight than above with good structure - a number of years ahead still.

1995 Anjou Villages Rochelles - wonderful sweet fruit - really delicious.

1989 Chinon Domaine de la Perrière - good but rather surprisingly overshadowed by other reds - showing signs of ageing and seemed to be just past its peak.
(Jim: perhaps not that surprising given that this is the easy drinking early bottled cuvee. A bottle of the Vieilles Vignes drunk in August was magnificent.)

1995 Vouvray Moelleuse - lovely balance - nice rich pure chenin - showing very well with the blue cheeses.


Monday, October 10, 2011

2011: un année des bonnes vignerons – sorting out the sheep from the goats

The Luneau family: Monique, Pierre-Marie, Marie Chartier (now married to PM) and Pierre

Early reflections on the 2011 vintage

There is no doubt that this is a complicated and for some a difficult vintage in what has been a bizarre year, which has seen some of the earliest picking dates ever.

There are likely to be wide variations in quality as well as considerable variations from region to region depending on when the grapes were picked as there were big variations in the weather during the harvest. This looks to be a vintage where the serious and good producers win out. 

The beginning of the growing season saw a very warm and dry March, April, May and early June. This lead to an exceptionally early flowering with some vines beginning to flower in the first ten days of May. Normally flowering takes place occasionally in late May and more normally in June. Comparisons were being made with 1893, which was an exceptionally early vintage. It looked like many areas would be starting the harvest from mid-August.

Despite predictions of a long hot summer, the weather went into reverse in July, which was cold and wet. August was little better, although there was a brief hot spell. This both slowed down grape ripening and brought the threat of rot.

However, some producers in Touraine including the Clos Roche Blanche (Friday 26th) did start harvesting early varieties like Sauvignon in late August.

A visit to Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire at the end of August showed that there was already rot in some parcels affecting both the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

September started unsettled. There was some very heavy rain on 3rd, which caused flooding in parts of Bourgueil and also affected Saumur. As is often the case it was fairly localized with Chinon, for instance, seeing much less rain.

Picking started in Muscadet at the end of August and in Sancerre/Pouilly from around 5th September.

Pierre Luneau (Domaine Pierre Luneau Papin) reports that they were badly hit by rot and had to be very careful and selective when picking – throwing about 30% of the crop away. Despite the problems the nascent Luneau wines were as impeccable as ever when we visited them at the end of September.  

In the middle of September the weather started to improve dramatically. The last ten days of September and in to the few days of October it was glorious with temperatures rising to 32˚C  – astonishingly warm for this of year.

This burst of fine weather changed the vintage for those who had been able to wait, in particular Chinon where many producers didn’t start picking their reds until around 26th September.

2011 looks to be very good for sweet wines in Anjou. We were in the Quarts de Chaume on 28th  September and the grapes looked magnificent – a mix of noble rot and passerilage. We saw Claude Papin picking in Chaume, where the grapes were already coming in at 26% potential alcohol. Claude told his pickers to include golden grapes that would be normally left to ripen later, so as keep the potential alcohol down a little and ensure that the wines did end up too sweet.

In Anjou many good producers were waiting until the first week of October to start on their Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon to give them time to ripen fully.

Christophe Daviau picked his Cabernet Sauvignon for Rocca Nigra on Monday and Tuesday (3rd and 4th) of last week and finished picking his Chenin last Wednesday (5th October). He will pick his Cabernet Franc for Petra Alba on Tuesday and Wednesday – and that will be it.