The 300 bottles each of red and rosé burgundy that have just arrived from the Domaine Martin in Coulanges-la-Vineuse really are un unrepeatable bargain. Next year Michel and Maryline are retiring and the 2021 harvest was destroyed by late frosts. So the wines that have just arrived in HIghgate Wood, Parliament Hill Fields and Queens Park really are the last of a line. And we are selling them (to take away, there is a bit of a mark-up to drink in) at an amazing price of 11.50 a bottle. So what is special about them? The first point is a negative one: Pinot Noir has been called the ‘Heartbreak Grape’ but despite its price the Martin’s wine avoids being a bit ‘meh’ — the charge made against much red burgundy. In both red and pink forms this is a fruity juicy summertime wine best drunk a bit cold. This is partly because the soil and climate of Coulanges favour this sort of wine (as distinct to the styles of wines from the neighbouring villages of Irancy, Tonnerre and Épineuil that we also import); but it is also the style of winemaking. All Coulanges growers use mechanical rather than hand harvesting, which is prohibited by the modest prices they can charge. However the grapes arrive sufficiently intact to be left in a watercooled tank for a week before pressing. This creates conditions quite similar to those in freshly harvested Beaujolais grapes with carbon dioxide released as the crushed grapes ferment. Grapes that ferment in an anaerobic environment have a particular character and the Martin’s wine is a bit beaujolais like, though also with a bit of structure from the ageing of 20% of the wine in used oak barrels. Mme Martin finds notes of lychee, grapefruit and violet in her wines. The rosé is a blend of wine that’s half pressed right away, and so has no colour, and half that has been left overnight. It might sound as if it would be ultra pale but rosé burgundy wines are deeper coloured and more ‘serious’ than a typical ultra pale south of France version. They are quite similar to the most celebrated Pinot Noir pink wine, Rosé des Riceys, which comes from a village less than an hour’s drive from the Auxerrois region.
Our café in Clissold Leisure Centre reopens 8am Thursday 8 July. Coffee pastries sandwiches salads and we will scale up as the centre gets busier in the autumn. It is a great pleasure to be back in our iconic café in Stoke Newington.
Your can now buy almost our full range of wines from Irancy and other villages around Chablis and Auxerre from our cafés: Doree, Highgate Wood, Parliament Hill Fields Lido and Queens Park. Brexit is biting: our first imports in the New Year were processed quickly. Now the wines go to a warehouse and wait and wait for a slot in the ‘bonded’ warehouse from which they can be legally released. These are the take-home prices and they don’t cost much more by the bottle or glass to drink in-house. Looking at the prices we feel sure we will all look back in a year or two and gasp at how cheap they were.
Also we will soon be making a leaflet — perhaps also a teatowel — featuring this handsome map from our gifted designer Nick Clark.
We will be trading for the last time at Nags Head Market this Friday March 26. This has been a hard decision to make given the support of some very loyal and appreciative customers. Also we pay tribute to our colleagues who have worked there and in particular Mohamed Bahraoui who built up a dedicated following and who is currently in Morocco following a family tragedy. We are still have a local presence with our cafés at Parliament Hill Lido and (soon reopening) at the Clissold Leisure Centre in Stoke Newington. The closure is for business reasons, which means that it costs more to stay open than to close, but we think the model of a covered market stall is a good one and we hope to revive it in future.