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The Wine Chap's November Wine Tips

Urban Junkies has teamed up with wine guru extraordinaire Tom Harrow to bring you the Wine Chap's useful Wine Tips.

1. ShelfTalk: 2005 Rhône
Well, why not? Somewhat overlooked in the scramble to buy Bordeaux and then Burgundy in this superlative vintage, there are some terrific wines from both the north of the valley (focussed, resonant, distinguished Syrah) and the southern end (opulent, hedonistic, unctuous Grenache-based). Anything under £12 retail should drink well now but there are plenty of cuvées from the vineyards of Côte Rotie, Hermitage and St Joseph (North), Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras (South), which at £20+ are worthy of cellaring for 5-10 years at least.

2. BoozeBluff: 'For reds at least - Portugal is the new Austria'
Try dropping this gem into a conversation around wine cognoscenti and see the reaction. (If you need to back up such errant nonsense, follow up by mentioning how Blaufränkisch is the only affordable red wine in most Michelin-starred London joints and recollect approvingly the sophisticated wines now coming out of the Dao and Douro regions in Northern Portugal; Quinta Do mumble mumble...)

3. WineMate: Vacherin Mont d'Or meets (Tocai) Friulano
Served hot from the oven out of its own wooden box, with fingers of crusty sourdough, the goopily gourgeous seasonal cow's milk cheese from the Jura makes a great partner to the nutty, dried-quince flavours of this complex white varietal from North-East Italy.

4. DrinkOut: Hereford Road
Its previous incarnation, Veronica's, served traditional British food - i.e., unfailingly mediocre - to a generation whose offspring now consider Bumpkin, round the corner, a gastronomic hotspot. Opened four weeks ago, there have now been enough reviews of Hereford Road for you to appreciate the St John style menu, and my Ox-tongue, chard and pickles - like a thick-cut New York deli pastrami bagel (sans bagel) - was reassuringly carniverous as was the grey-leg partridge and game liver pate.

Both were well-served by an '06 Roussillon red from Domaine Boudou which was spicy, cleanly modern yet warmly redolent of the rustic south, with ripe fruit and structural balance. The Irouleguy Blanc to start (Basque white made from the Manseng varietals - Petit and Gros, and also Courbou) was a wine of well resolved tensions - lively but serious, minerally yet creamy, taut but not lean, with good weight and acidity also. It saw off Devilled Sprats and Potted Crab admirably.

The exlusively European (French-dominated) list is concise and offers drinking vintages of classics but not cliches with a further emphasis on sufficiently individual wines to intrigue any eonophile. A reasonable selection are served by 250ml carafe, and although no cheaper than two normal glasses, it makes lunchtime drinking seem more indulgent. A welcome and affordable addition to Notting Hill's restaurant scene, and with evening trade deservedly buoyant, as it deserves to, hopefully Hereford Road, a la Arbutus, will consider offering more of its list by the 1/3 of a bottle.
Hereford Road Restaurant, 3 Hereford Road, W2 - 020 7727 1144

5. GrapeVine: Louis Roederer looking at vineyard sites in Kent and Sussex...
It might be a while until we see a Cristal from Kent, but Jean-Claud Rouzaud, President of the prestigious Champagne House, impressed by the area's chalky soils and land prices seems interested... if only global warming could guarantee an English climate sunny enough to ripen grapes to maturity. After the rainfest which passed for this year's miserable summer, the prospect of homegrown pedigree fizz must only heighten the desire to stand outside emptying aerosol cans into our fragile, fragmenting atmosphere.

by TH
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