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LOKI’S SUMMER PICKS: ALBARIÑO

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As summer is quickly approaching we look for new and exciting wines to introduce for this time of year with our focus over June being Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain. Known as Green Spain the luscious landscape of Galacia is the home of the humble Albariño grape. A wine most commonly enjoyed all year round by the north-west coast of Spain as Spaniards soak up the sun whilst sipping on their Albariño and sampling the delights from the ocean.

Albariño is hugely diverse and ideal for a wide range of dishes such as seafood and grilled vegetables as it is crisp, refreshing and a true reflection of the terroir.

During June we shall be focussing on two Albariño’s; Zarate Winery and Pazo Barrantes:

Zarate Winery Albariño 2016

The Zárate winery is a historic winery in the Rias Baixas, producing Albariños since the early eighteenth.   It is a single variety of Albariño, from 35 year-old vines planted in granite soils. Bodega Zárate practices farming friendly techniques without using any herbicides.

Pazo Barrantes Albariño 2015

Pazo Barrantes Albariño is well consolidated in the market as one of the best albariños in Spain, with a magnificent evolution in the bottle, and is conquering new continents and showing the world the virtues of this exclusive Galician grape variety.

CHASE DISTILLERY’S GB TOUR

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We are delighted to welcome Chase Distillery to Loki Wine on Wednesday June 14th 2017 for a lunch time tasting, as part of their GB Tour.

As part of Chase Distillery’s 10 year celebrations they will be stocking up their Land Rover with Williams GB Gin and embarking upon a tour across the country to showcase the unique taste of this wonderful tipple. The aptly named GB Tour is a celebration of truly great British Gin. The star of the show is Williams GB Gin, a superb gin handmade from field-to- bottle on Chase’s family farm in Herefordshire. The GB gin is one of our firm favourites at Loki, in fact, it was the first gin we ever stocked, so we’re all delighted to be involved in the celebrations!

So, pop into the shop on your lunch break on Wednesday June 14th to try it for yourself. We will also be serving Chase’s own version of the classic G&T, the GB&T – GB gin with Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, plenty of ice and a slither of ginger. Perfect for a refreshing treat on a sunny day.

Visit Chase Distillery for more information!

A TRIO OF TASTINGS TO KICK START 2017 – PART 3 – DR LOOSEN

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Finally, we had the great honour of welcoming Ernest Loosen of Dr Loosen to Loki for a tasting of his wonderful Rieslings.  It was clear from the off, that this was to be a very special tasting; Ernie’s passion for wine was obvious and he clearly loves experimenting with his wines in his quest to bring out the very best from his vineyards.

We kicked off with the Villa Wolf dry Riesling, an estate owned by Ernst, which showed clearly the riper style of wines produced in the southerly Pfalz region of Germany. Given its modest £9.99 price point, this wine really shows the amazing value German wines can offer. Following this, we got our palates around the Loosen Red Slate Riesling from the Mosel Valley, which was more floral and delicate on the nose with a more linear and tauter texture than the Villa Wolf wine.

Up next, two stunning wines both of Grosse Gewachs level (equivalent to Grand Cru in France). Firstly came the Graacher Himmelreicht 2014 – a celebrated vineyard the name of which translates as ‘Kingdom of God’. This displayed real refinement, bone dry and very precise with bracing acidity and a very long finish.  This was followed by another stunning dry wine, the Wehlener Sonnenuhr GG 2013. This clearly demonstrated the effect vineyard site and exposure can make to a wine. This beautiful vineyard is a natural amphitheater which captures the sun all day long resulting in super ripe fruit in the glass. Our group clearly enjoyed this wine and it seemed to be the favourite of the two.

We finished with a duo of sweeter wines: Erdner Treppchen Kabinett 2015, and Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spätlese 2014. The more interesting of the two for me was the Spätlese, but the comparison showed the different styles of wine a single vineyard can produce when you pick the grapes at different times and tweak the winemaking slightly. This proved a real treat and a perfect way to end a memorable tasting.

With all those who chose not to kick the booze for January duly rewarded, we look forward to a busy tasting year ahead with wine makers far and wide heading to Loki to share their wines, stories and passion.

A TRIO OF TASTINGS TO KICK START 2017 – PART 2 – TEN MINUTES BY TRACTOR

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Next up, we were delighted to be visited by Sandro Mosele from the iconic Ten Minutes by Tractor estate in the Mornington Peninsula.  One of the most fashionable regions in the wine world at the moment, thanks to its Burgundian styled Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, this was also the first wine region I visited and a truly spectacular part of the world. Located south west of Melbourne and benefiting from a cooler coastal climate Mornington wines can achieve an elegance not often found in the New World.

This time the tasting was seated in our upstairs lounge but still felt like a cosy chat with the winemaker. Sandro explained that while his three main vineyards were only ten minutes by tractor apart, the difference in aspect, altitude, slope and soil allowed them to produce wines with distinct singularity.  Starting with the Chardonnays the different vineyard expressions became clear. From the light yet elegant Judd Chardonnay to the richer more opulent Wallis, the wines were beautifully balanced.

Moving on to the Pinots and the difference in the wines from the Judd, McCutcheon and Wallis vineyards was even more marked. The Judd Pinot was medium bodied with sweet spice and a distinct earthiness. The McCutcheon was lighter yet more perfumed with Sandro commenting that it reminded him of Chambolle Musigny. Finally the Wallis Pinot noir carried the most weight and showed great depth of flavour. The delicate use of oak and lightness of touch in the winery was consistent across all three. The lasting impression from the tasting was that while the wines of this region will often be compared to those of burgundy they also confidently speak for themselves and are becoming recognised as truly world class.

A TRIO OF TASTINGS TO KICK START 2017 – PART 1 – FABIEN JOUVES

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With all the talk of dry January and the usual post Christmas blues dampening the spirits of some, we felt it only fair to treat some of our more stoic imbibers to a trio of tastings to get the year off to a flying start.

First of all we welcomed Fabien Jouves for an informal barrel tasting with a small group of our regular sippers.  Fabien is one of the most exciting young winemakers in the Cahors region of South West France and the genius behind ‘You Fuck My Wine’ one of our most popular and controversial bottles.

Fabien hadn’t originally planned to follow in his parent’s footsteps into winemaking, but with the family business struggling and his father about to pull the plug, he abandoned his plans to become a doctor and enrolled in the prestigious Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux to study winemaking.

Following his graduation Fabien set out to convert the estate to organic and biodynamic practices. His first vintage was in 2006 and by 2012 the Mas del Perie estate was certified organic.

We began by trying the afore mentioned ‘You fuck my Wine’ made in protest against Cahors AOC laws banning Fabien from using the native Jurancon Noir grape in his wines. Fabien explained how the grape had traditionally been used in the region and its affinity with the limestone soil gave it a uniqueness that needed to be preserved and celebrated.  In the glass, we had to agree. The wine showed great purity of fruit along with fantastic balance, but the key to Fabien’s wines is the remarkable freshness he manages to achieve. By keeping good levels of acidity, the wine draws you straight back to the glass.

We continued to taste through Fabien’s single vineyard Malbecs, each a different expression of the estates terroir. Cuvee Les Escures was typical Cahors, with deep plum, blackcurrant and smoke, while Cuvee La Roque was more elegant with blueberry and gentle floral notes. Fabien’s approach to winemaking is to interfere as little as possible with the fruit. The wines are released unfiltered and unfined with minimal use of SO2 and the avoidance of new oak. This gives his wines a vibrancy and brightness that goes against the rustic reputation of the region.  For lovers of Argentinean Malbec these wines should be sought out to show what can be achieved by this grape variety in its spiritual home.

CRAFT CHOCOLATE AT LOKI

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We’re very excited to be working with CocoaRunners to bring an eclectic range of craft chocolate that tastes great on it’s own, and even better when paired with wine, gin, and whiskey.

The guys at Cocoa Runners have sampled over 5000 bars in their quest to find the world’s best chocolate from dedicated artisan chocolate makers all over the world, and our manger and in-store chocolate expert, Victoria, has worked closely with Cocoa Runners to provide an excellent range that is available to enjoy both in store and at home. Expect some fun and informative wine and chocolate tasting events in store, where you will have the opportunity to sample through our range alongside wine, gin and whiskey pairings. You will also get to learn about the processes involved in making the perfect bar of chocolate, from bean to bar!

You can also enjoy our chocolate range in store; we will be offering wine and chocolate flights, or you can simply sit down in our wine lounge with a bottle and a bar (or two!) – our staff are on hand to help you pick the perfect bottle along with the perfect bar.

The range is organised into categories, to help you choose the perfect bar –

Dark & Berry, Dark & Indulgent, Dark & Earthy, Smoked Dark Chocolate, Dark Milk, White Chocolate, and Inclusions, Flavoured & Textured.

* * *

DARK & BERRY

Marou – Ba Ria (76%)

A rich and fruity chocolate, made with beans from the Bà Rịa province of south eastern Vietnam. This bar is a sublime and intense chocolate experience that tastes as good as it looks.

 £6

* * *

Akesson’s – Madagascar (75%)

This Madagascan bar has all the typical fruity and berry flavours with subtle hint of roasted, woody notes.

£6

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DARK & INDULGENT

Blanxart – Dark (72%) Dominican Republic 

This super dense bar has an almost molten quality. Tasting a piece of this incredibly rich, creamy bar is just like eating the centre of a chocolate fondant – truly impossible to resist. Great with Chardonnay.

£5

* * *

DARK & EARTHY

Montecristi –Canuto (70%) Signature Bar

The aroma of this bar is quite deceptive. As you inhale the chocolate, you are met with a wave of spice. While you might expect this to develop into a peppery spice on the palate, the flavour develops in quite a different direction. Instead of a punchy spice, the chocolate develops a rich molasses like quality, with just a hint of warmth coming though in its cinnamon finish.

£6

* * *

Marou -Ben Tre (78%)

This generous dark chocolate bar has been crafted in Vietnam using cocoa beans from the province of Ben Tre. The well- tempered bar is glossy with a clean snap. The added cocoa butter (made from beans of the same region) gives the chocolate a smooth, buttery texture which makes eating it a particularly indulgent experience. The bar opens with a spicy aroma that leads to notes of nutmeg, cassia and peppercorns. A little sweetness mixes with mellow coconut. An excellent match for Gin!

£6

* * *

SMOKED DARK CHOCOLATE

Solomon’s Gold – Smooth (70%)

An intense and savoury dark bar. The chocolate has some fruity notes infused with a seriously smoky aroma, as it is dried near open fires instead of under the sun. Wooded hints of tobacco, rough leather and saddle soap drift under the smoke. Though not that dark, the strong flavours counteract any sweetness, making this an intense and unique tasting experience. Amazing with Whiskey.

£6

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DARK MILK CHOCOLATE

Bonnat – Surabaya (65%)

This buttery dark milk chocolate bar is a must for those who like their chocolate smooth and creamy. We detected a slight smokiness throughout and some subtle hints of nuts at the finish. Our best selling bar and a firm staff favourite!

£5

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TCHO –Serious Milk Cacao (53%)

This bar has a wonderfully smooth texture, a deep, fudgey chocolate flavour and a gentle fruity note. It is also certified kosher, organic and gluten free.

£5

WHITE CHOCOLATE

Original Beans –EdelWeiss (40%)

Made with Trinitario cacao butter from the Yuna River Valley in the Dominican Republic combined with Swiss alpine milk this bar is delightfully sweet and silky bar. With rich notes of banana milk this is a deliciously different white chocolate bar, definitely one to savour.

£4

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INCLUSIONS, FLAVOURED & TEXTURED CHOCOLATE

Menakao–Cocoa Nibs and Sea Salt (63%)

The chocolate is full of the typical berry notes of Madagascan cacao. The added cocoa nibs give a powerful crunch, bursting with fruit and tannins. The hint of sea salt serves a double purpose. It opens the palate, helping you to get the full flavour of the berries and red fruits. At the same time, the salt cuts through some of the nibs’ intensity, revealing their roasted fruit and raisin notes while reducing the bitterness.

£4

* * *

Akesson’s-Madagascar (75%) Dark Chocolate with Pink Peppers

This bar is flavoured with pink peppercorns which adds a subtle flavour to the fruity and tart Madagascan Trinitario cocoa more than they add heat. It’s an exotic, warming chocolate experience that we think everyone should try. Pepper vines are frequently grown on cocoa plantations  protect cocoa pods from too much sun.

£6

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Soma Old School Jamaica (66%)

Break off a crumbly piece and bite into the flaky, messy bar. The texture has the light, airy quality of a souflee, and disintegrates in your mouth into sweet, crunchy shards. Soma has crafted a bar that gives us the same sense of fun as a child with a chocolate bar.

£9

VICTORIA’S CHAMPAGNE ACADEMY DIPLOMA

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In June 2016, Loki Manager Victoria, was one of 16 candidates to be selected to attend the legendary Champagne Academy Diploma course in Champagne….

The Champagne Academy Diploma is a prestigious and much sought after qualification offered by the Champagne Academy. Once a year, 16 candidates are chosen to attend the week long course in Champagne, hosted by the presidential house of that year. All of the participants are nominated anonymously by one of the 16 member houses of the Champagne Academy.

I had always wanted to be selected for the diploma, so when the email came through in February 2016, informing me that not only had I been nominated, but I had been selected by the judges to attend the course, I was ecstatic.

Come June 2016, I was on my way to Champagne with 15 other candidates from various sectors within the wine industry. We were met by a representative from the presidential house for 2016, the legendary Pol Roger, at Searcy’s Champagne Bar in St Pancras at 10am on a Sunday morning, where we were indulged in our first glass of Champagne – Pol Roger Brut Reserve – which would turn out to be the first of the 120 different Champagnes we would try in the week to come. We all knew that we had a very busy week ahead of us! So much Champagne, so little time!

It wasn’t all to be drinking and indulgence, though. After all, the whole point of our visit was to gain an unrivalled qualification, which involved daily lectures covering all aspects of the Champagne industry: history of Champagne, vinification, production, sales, marketing, etc. At the start of every day we sat an exam which tested our knowledge on the previous days topics. I must admit, the exams were much harder than any of us had anticipated, and we were all very keen to get that part of the day over and done with as soon as possible!

Thankfully though, after spending the best part of a day travelling on the Eurostar and being bused from Paris to Champagne, we arrived at our hotel in Epernay for a very brief break before being bused off to  Hostellerie La Briqueterie – a fantastic Michellin starred restaurant that boasts great food and, of course, Champagne. There we met top representatives, Chef de Caves, and the family owners of the 16 member houses of the Champagne Academy. It was a fun evening to say the least, and all of us 2016 Champagne Academicians soon realised what great company we were in and what a fun week we had ahead of us.

The rest of the week was spent visiting all 16 member houses, where we were treated to VIP access to the cellars and vineyards etc, and of course, we got to taste through their entire range along with expert guidance, often from the winemakers themselves.

The Champagne house visits were punctuated with decadent lunches and dinners thrown for us by members of the Champagne Academy. We all soon discovered that self restraint and the art of pacing oneself was to be the real challenge of the course; all this beautiful food and Champagne mixed in with hardcore study and examinations…it’s a lot tougher than it sounds, believe me! I can proudly (maybe!) say that I only suffered for my sins on one occasion during the trip, which was after attending a private house party thrown for us at Krug’s Clos De Mesnil mansion, where we were treated to a decadent, mind blowing evening which was reminiscent of a Great Gatsby party; it was simply stunning. We all let our hair down that evening as we sipped the super rare and quite rightly legendary Clos De Mesnil 2002. Suffice to say that we didn’t look super fresh when we turned up to sit our morning examination the next day. However, by the time lunch rolled around we found ourselves at the Louis Roederer mansion for lunch, where we were served Cristal 2002 out of magnum. I can confirm that the colour quickly returned to our cheeks during that lunch!

For a detailed break down of our trip, you can read a fellow Academician’s article written for the Champagne Academy and featured in Glass Of Bubbly magazine:

CLICK TO READ ARTICLE

All in all, we visited the following Champagne Houses:

Pol Roger       Bollinger       Mumm       Louis Roederer

Krug       Charles Heidsieck         Heidsieck Monopole         Perrier Jouet

Dom Ruinart        Lanson       Laurent-Perrier         Moët & Chandon

Pommery        Taittinger        Veuve Clicquot         Piper Heidsieck

On our final day, we sat our final exam, which was by far the hardest exam of the week and was followed by a blind tasting of 4 Champagnes. We had 15 minutes allocated for the blind tasting exam. We were expected to identify the style of each, the percentage of Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier present, the house, the Champagne, and the vintage. We also had 3 Vin Clairs to blind taste, where we had to identify which grape variety and which house it was from. This was a tricky test! After having tried 120 different Champagnes throughout the week, it was easy to forget which Champagne was which! It was a fun test, though.

Once the exams were out of the way, we made our way, full of relief, to Les Crayères, a luxurious Grand Château awarded with 2 Michelin stars. There, we were presented with our diploma certificates, enjoyed more Champagne tasting (At this point, you can rest assured that #PaceYourself had been very much abandoned!), followed by an incredible lunch. After that, we all let our hair down, put on our well earned Champagne Academy ties and scarves, and posed for our graduation photos.

What a week it had been! I enjoyed every moment of it and made some life long friends, who I look forward to seeing at future Champagne Academy events. I am proud to be able to call myself a ‘Champagne Academy Old Boy’ and to have been a part of the legendary class of 2016!

Champagne Academy class of 2016, with Pol Roger owner Hubert De Billy

OUR TOP TONIC WATER FOR 2016

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In 2014/15 we saw the rise of distilleries sprouting up all over the country and is fuelling the ever growing popularity of Gin. It would be utter sacrilege to have a £50 bottle of gin with a cheap bottle of tonic, but not to worry, at Loki once again we have a solution. We’re now stocking a rare and eclectic range of tonic waters perfectly designed for a selection of gins and some excellent advice from the Gintleman’.

Kicking off with Thomas Henry Tonic Water and its particularly high quinine content and subtle floral citrus aromas make it exceptionally refreshing. At £1.69 per bottle we would recommend trying with Aviation American Gin, an iconic style.

Next up, East Imperial Yuzu Tonic made by our artisan tonic experts in New Zealand. If you have never tried Yuzu, you should. Most easily described as the ultimate hybrid between a mandarin and a lemon and when thrown into the mix with a classic London Dry gin it certainly livens up the party.

All the way from Chile, 1724 tonic features the worlds purest water from Patagonia and Chinchona bark from Peru makes this tonic water somewhat a rare find, not something you would drink with a bottle of Gordons. This tonic is by far one of the most versatile tonics, so why not try it with all our gins? To narrow it down, Bobby’s Schiedam Dry Gin, Gin Mare and the home-grown Langley’s No.8.

Finally, it’s time for something a bit more unusual, Doctor Polidoris Cucumber Tonic water. Instead of a classic citrus flavour, this has been replaced with cucumber notes which would go down a treat with with Jinzu, a Japanese inspired Gin.

BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MEZCAL BY LOKI

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BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MEZCAL BY LOKI

If you’re not familiar with Mezcal, you need to be. Tipped as the next big UK trend set to excite discerning drinkers across the cities of the UK, Mezcal is a Mexican spirit which can be made from 30 varieties of Agave, including Blue Agave, much like Tequila. The main difference being it is firstly made in different regions although 80-90% of Mezcal’s are made in Oaxaca, Southern Mexico. Secondly the process of whereby the Agave plant is cooked underground which really gives its characteristic smokey flavour. The Agave is then crushed in a Tahona, which is essentially a donkey pulling a large stone wheel around crushing the plants. All of this is overseen by the Master Mezcalero, dream job.
A spirit which has been made since the 1600’s it’s like drinking a piece of art. Our top picks for the new and also experienced Mezcal drinker.

MEZCAL AT LOKI

Del Maguey Vida – Unaged single village Mezcal from a true artisan producer of which can be found on the shelves of many a high end bar in the UK. “Del Maguey’s entry-level Vida, at $40, is a fine mezcal in its own right, with intensity and a briny character. All are simultaneously rustic yet sophisticated, unpolished yet sublime” New York Times. An excellent starting point to explore the joys of Mezcal at £46.99.
Los Danzantes Anejo – From ex-restauranters now turned master distillers, Los Danzantes translating as the ‘The Dancers’ have well and truly produced an amazing product. Aged for 16 months in oak barrels, made in tiny batches of 1800 bottles and only £85.99 for something this rare is a bargain!

Find out more here: www.mezcalphd.com

AMERICAN ICON: RIDGE WINES

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AMERICAN ICON: RIDGE WINES

Ridge Wine have rose to fame in a relatively short period of time. It all began with the planting of the vineyard near Monte Bello Ridge and Santa Cruz Mountains in 1885 and it lay dormant until by coincidence four engineers from Stanford Research Institute bought a property and discovered it came with a vineyard. It was bought in 1959 and they started producing with wine maker Paul Draper in 1969.

Shortly after they stunned the world at the 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting and are now an iconic American producer. Paul focuses on using old world methods, with minimal intervention in the wine making process to really draw out the character of the wines.

Ridge Monte Bello is their most iconic vineyard site and if you ever have the pleasure of trying them you are in for a real treat, the Chardonnay is arguably California’s most respected white wine whilst the Cabernet Sauvignon Blend is outstanding with most bottles scoring close to the 100’s.

At Loki we have the absolute pleasure of stocking some of the wines from Ridge including their Zinfandel blend from Lytton Springs, of which they are known for producing top-end Zinfandel in the US.

If you fancy trying one of their Cabernets then the Monte Bello is the true icon, although due to the high demand it is not the cheapest setting you back £100+. If you don’t want to splash the cash then the Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is its baby brother, an equally outstanding wine in its own right.

Read more here: www.ridgewine.com