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Our award goes to brilliant team at David Dennis Racing

Nick with David Dennis and his team

Bordeaux Undiscovered together with Stratford Racecourse wanted to recognise the hard work of the unseen stable staff behind the winners at Stratford at the end of each racing season. As long term sponsors of the racecourse (and as ardent horse racing fans!) we know only too well the enormous amount of work and dedication that goes on backstage to make a winner. Points were awarded to horses that finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th as well as points for ‘Best Turned Out’. Bordeaux Undiscovered often give prizes during the race season as well as sponsoring a whole race card at Stratford but as Nick says:

‘It’s always the owners and the trainer that get the recognition on the day when the yard has a winner, so we wanted to highlight the efforts of the team behind the scenes by creating this award’.

The talented trainer David Dennis was first past the post this year, earning him the position of leading trainer at Stratford. He topped the trainers list by accumulating the most winning points at all the meetings in 2016 and we travelled to his stables at David Dennis Racing just outside the village of Hanley Swan to present our award to his team.

Pool at the yard

Backed by his hard-working staff, David’s yard (which trains both flat and jump horses) is a relatively new venture that that has firmly placed itself on the racing map since it was established. David began his racing career as a professional jockey, riding over 240 winners to victory during his 10 years in the saddle. After retiring from race riding in 2011, David set up his own pre-training yard before gaining a dual license to train in September 2013. He achieved his first winner within a month – Princess Caetani at Chepstow on the flat.

Horses training at the stables

We would like to congratulate David’s team for their sterling hard work throughout last season and we are looking forward to seeing his team have further success in 2017. At least now the unsung heroes of David Dennis’ yard have received the recognition they deserve! Best of luck guys for this coming season. Bordeaux-Undiscovered will be rooting for you!

 

Stratford Leading Trainer – 2016 Season

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How to get the best out of Bordeaux – Part 1: Beginning a voyage of discoveries

We sent Sarah, who deals with our research and development, to Bordeaux to check out new areas of interest. This is the first in this series of blogs about her voyage of discoveries . . .

Limestone in Lussac reflecting the sun's glare
Limestone in Lussac reflecting the sun’s glare

Nothing beats being in Bordeaux and I went at the beginning of September, just when the grape harvest was looming and Bordeaux was brimming with possibilites. It was hot (34°) and dry, with the land baking under deep blue skies. The chance to see this extraordinary wine making region in action was too valuable to miss as it was an excellent opportunity to identify new areas of interest. Exquisite cuisine, beautiful countryside and fascinating company came as an added bonus. The itinerary had caught our attention as it covered a couple of corners in Bordeaux that Nick had earmarked for investigation. So (armed with a sensible pair of shoes, a notebook and a list as long as your arm) I set off on a voyage of exploration.

Hotel Le Normandie, Bordeaux
Hotel Le Normandie, Bordeaux

Our group was made up of an interesting mix of professionals, with varying knowledge of Bordeaux wines, including Naked Wines, The Wine Society, Virgin Wines, Laithwaites, Asda and Goedhuis. We were guided by Alexander Hall, an old acquaintance of Nick’s, who runs Vineyard Intelligence and also teaches at the Bordeaux Wine School. Alex has lived in Bordeaux since 2004 and has a wealth of experience gained from working on his family’s estate in Marlborough, New Zealand as well as with several estates in Bordeaux. The trip was impeccably organised by Katherine Parsons of Summit SP (the promotion agency for Bordeaux Wine), and Marie-Christine Cronenberger of the CIVB (Bordeaux Wine Council).

Steep street in Saint Emilion
Steep street in Saint Emilion

Bordeaux just breathes wine, there is evidence of it everywhere you look. The trip was intense, involving early starts and late nights jam packed with chateaux visits. Thankfully we travelled in an air conditioned minibus. I think I was the oldest person there and if not, after 3 days of nonstop wine worshipping, I certainly felt it. But it was so worth it.

You get to see the wines in context; where they are born, deep in the lap of the land. We were whisked up twisty roads on hillsides dusted with vineyards and we travelled across the seas of vines that radiate out from the stately chateaux of the Medoc. We saw snapshots of Bordeaux that brochures can not give you; from sleepy hamlets snoozing in the sun to shady alleys in the city quietly oozing history. Beneath the serenity, behind closed doors, the wine industry was busy bustling.

Vines under scorching sunshine
Vines under scorching sunshine

We were whirled into a wonderland that gave us access to an amazing amount of wine tasting. At the end of it I didn’t know whether I could face another sip – I don’t know how Nick manages to taste his way through the hundreds of wines offered at Bordeaux’s En Primeur tastings every year!

I came back to the UK armed with a lot of useful tips on how to get the best out of Bordeaux for your money that I can share with you on Nick’s Blog – so watch out for the next instalment. I found some eye opening wines, unexpected gems in obscure appellations and some truly inspiring wine makers. I also came back with blisters on my feet but that’s the price you pay for getting over excited in Saint Emilion . . .

Itinerary

This is an abridged version of our itinerary so you can see what I will be covering in the next few blogs.

Narrow Bordeaux street
Narrow Bordeaux street

Day 1

Bordeaux Wine course at the Bordeaux Wine School

Lunch at the Gordon Ramsay restaurant Brasserie Le Bordeaux (Theme Bordeaux Dry White Wine) with Estelle Roumage of Chateau Lestrille, Agnes Bousseau of Chateau de l’Hurbe and Camille Alby of (meet with Agnès Bousseau) and Camille Alby of negociant Passion des Terroirs (Lucien Lurton & Fils).

Visit and tasting at Chateau Anniche (AOC Bordeaux Superieur, Rose, Liquoreux, White).

Visit, tasting and dinner at Chateau des Fougeres, Clos de Montesquieu (AOC Graves). Tasting: AOC Graves and Pessac Leognan (Red and White).

Day 2

Walking tour of the city of Bordeaux.

Visit, tasting and lunch at Chateau Laroze (AOC Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classe). Tasting: AOC Saint Emilion and Saint Emilion satellite AOCs (Reds).

Visit and tasting at Chateau Tour de Grenet (AOCs Lussac Saint Emilion, Lalande de Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux Superieur). (Reds).

Walking tour of Saint Emilion.

Visit, tasting and dinner at Chateau le Lau (AOC Graves de Vayres). Tasting: AOC Cotes de Bordeaux: AOCs Graves de Vayres, Castillon, Blaye, Bourg, Francs, Premieres Cotes. (Reds and Whites)

Day 3

Visit, tasting and lunch at Fifth Growth Grand Cru Classe Chateau Batailley (AOC Pauillac). Tasting: AOC Medoc: Pauillac, Margaux, Saint Julien, Saint Estephe, Haut Medoc, Medoc, Listrac, Moulis, Crus Bourgeois. (Reds).

Visit and tasting at Chateau La Peyre (AOC Saint-Estephe – Cru Artisan). (Reds).

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‘A’ rated security for our customers

How secure do you feel when shopping for wine online? As Christmas approaches and with more and more people ordering online it’s definitely a question we should be asking ourselves.

With Bordeaux-Undiscovered you can be assured we take security to the highest level to keep you safe. As an independent online wine merchant we have been trading online for well over a decade and have been at the forefront of many innovations. Our customers’ security has always been of paramount importance to us. We are delighted to let you know that our site’s security has achieved an ‘A’ rated status.

SSL_securityWhat does it mean for you?

When you are browsing Bordeaux-Undiscovered take a peek at the browser bar at the top of your screen. It will show you our website address: https://www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk/. The ‘https://’ is the important bit, it shows you that you are visiting a secure site. Most big companies online have ‘https://’ . . . for example if you bank online you will see it as a prefix to your bank’s website address. Our ‘https://’ lets you know your details and transactions are safe. It’s an industry wide protocol but surprisingly a lot of online wine merchants and other shopping websites don’t have it.

chanceIf a merchants website you are visiting has a prefix of just ‘http://’, then their website is not secure. Other companies rely on their payment gateway to provide the secure connection and leave their web pages unsafe. Given that you have to input your home address, phone number and date of birth to register for an account before you reach the payment gateway this is leaving you wide open to a threat should the website be hacked. You will see that each and every page on Bordeaux-Undiscovered is covered by ‘https://’ so that your personal details are protected!

ssl_3The padlock

We won’t bore you with techno babble but basically to gain ‘https://’ a website must have an SSL Certificate (SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer). SSL certificates are issued by a Certificate Authority (CA). You will also see a little padlock next to our website address. If you click on the padlock you will see that our website is certified secure by the CA Comodo and that our connection to you is encrypted. This means that if somebody intercepts the communication between you and the website the data can not be seen in a readable format – all the interceptor would see is gibberish.

You can even view our certificate if you so wish by clicking on the link to open it.

ssl_4Our ‘A’ rated status

This is something the online industry may not want you to know but you can check the security rating of any website you visit by using this free tool https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/. Type the domain name into the tool and it will analyse how secure the website is – this can take a while so be patient. You can try this with our website and you’ll see that we have an ‘A’ rating.

Ratings run from from ‘A – F’, with ‘F’ scoring less than 20/100 for security. The lower the score the more likely it is that the website in question has issues, is insecure and is vulnerable to attack.

  • A = a score of more than 80

  • B = a score of more than 65

  • C = a score of more than 50

  • D = a score of more than 35

  • E = a score of more than 20

  • F = a score of less than 20

  • If a website is rated ‘T’ it means that they have ignored security issues and are not to be trusted.

healthSo why doesn’t everyone have an SSL Certificate? Firstly, there is a cost involved in acquiring the necessary certificate. And it turns out that whilst it is easy to purchase an SSL Certificate, it’s not an easy job to configure your website and server correctly to achieve a high security rating.

To ensure that our SSL provides the necessary security, we engaged the developers Outerbridge who worked with us to properly configure our website and server. Their expertise gained us our ‘A’ status security. This included making use of the very latest security protocols and ciphers, but just as importantly, they removed any old insecure protocols which are now considered outdated and/or vulnerable.

They also managed to apply all these security checks without slowing down the speed of the website, so that our customers benefit from a fast, and more significantly, a secure ordering and checkout process.

Of course, technology is always evolving, which is why it is a good practice to keep an eye on what happens in the world of security. Outerbridge also promptly apply updates as and when they become available so that our customers can visit our site any time with the full knowledge that they will always be protected.

So, as you can see, we not only put every effort into finding you ‘A’ rated wines but place the same amount of effort into ‘A’ rated security; giving our customers the comfort and knowledge that we are doing all we can to ensure every visit they make to our site is safe!

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Calling All Golfers! Win a place at the Bridgestone PGA Challenge Tour Pro-Am!

Win_golfHave you ever wanted to play in a Pro-Am Team with a Challenge Tour Pro but never had the opportunity?

Then why not be our guest at The Bridgestone PGA Challenge Tour Pro-Am taking place at Heythrop Park on the 24th Of August?

The day will commence with breakfast followed by 18 holes as a 4-member team which will include a Challenge Tour Professional. You will be presented with a very nice goodie bag, pre dinner drinks, dinner in the evening at the gala presentation dinner, preceded by a trick shot show with Jeremy Dale, and an overnight stay at the magnificent Heythrop Manor Hotel with our compliments.

After a 4-year absence the PGA Challenge Tour has returned to the UK through the efforts of Black Star Golf who manage a number of young professionals including Jimmy Mullins, last year’s Walker Cup team member.

This is a fabulous chance for any keen golfer to have a wonderful day in the company of a professional golfer; play on a hidden Oxfordshire gem, go home with a collection of memorable items, dine with team members and rest your head after what we hope will be a fantastic and memorable day at the wonderful Heythrop Manor Hotel.

Check out the event here: www.blackstargolf.net/bridgestone-challenge/event-brochure

And venue here: www.heythroppark.co.uk/cp4.php

All you have to do to qualify is:

  • Buy any 12 Bottle Case of wine on our website www.bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk. Cases of wine must be bought on or before Friday August 19th, with the successful entrant being contacted on Saturday the 20th.

  • Hold a recognised Club Handicap of 18 or better,

  • Be available on August 24th,

  • Your name will be entered into a Draw for a place in the Pro-Am.

If you are not a Golfer why not give this wonderful opportunity to a family member or friend?

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The Ghost of Christmas Past – The drinks that time forgot

What were we drinking at Christmas in the Past? See if you recognise any of the forgotten favourites below . . .

Dubbonet - The Queen Mother's favourite1950s

After the end of World War II rationing continued until 1954. Wine was an upper class drink and the nation enjoyed Beers, Stouts, Pale Ale and Cider. The ladies enjoyed Port & Lemon. Sweet and alcoholic, this was made with Port and a dash of lemon juice – it’s still enjoyed today. Sweet Sherry was popular and Harveys Bristol Cream was a top seller.

Dubonnet was popular in the 50s, the Queen Mother used to like a Gin & Dubonnet cocktail.

The Queen also enjoys Dubonnet – in 2009 The Queen’s love of Dubonnet had staff at Lord’s cricket ground frantically searching for a bottle ahead of her attendance at the Second Ashes Test. Dubonnet was created in 1846 by the Parisian chemist/wine merchant, Joseph Dubonnet, as a means to make quinine more palatable for the soldiers battling malaria in North Africa, Dubonnet’s mix of fortified wine, a proprietary blend of herbs, spices and peels, and the medicinal quinine is a recipe that has earned it legendary status.

Drambuie - another Royal favourite
Drambuie – another Royal favourite

Drambuie was the first liqueur to be allowed in the cellars of the House of Lords in 1916.

A year later Buckingham Palace ordered a case for its cellars. From that point on Drambue gained favour during the 50s despite production being interrupted by two World Wars. Drambuie is a liqueur made from scotch whisky, honey, herbs and spices. According to legend the drink was created for Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The Prince gave the recipe to his loyal clan chief, John MacKinnon, and the MacKinnons produced Drambuie until William Grant & Sons bought the brand in 2014.

The Snowball - still popular today!
The Snowball – still popular today!

The Snowball was invented at some point in the 1950s and its popularity peaked in the 70s.

The Snowball dropped out of fashion but thanks to Nigella Lawson (and more than a few avid fans) the Snowball has become fashionable again. It’s a mixture of Advocaat and Lemonade with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, garnished with a maraschino cherry. It’s sold commercially in small bottles but is easy to make at home.

Babycham - made with pears
Babycham – made with pears

Babycham was invented in the 1940s by the Showering brothers in Shepton Mallet, Somerset.

Babycham is a sparkling drink made from pear juice and was first bottled commercially in 1953. This was the start of a successful journey for the little drink. It became one of the largest selling alcoholic drinks enjoyed by women and was the first alcoholic product to be advertised on British TV.

Heineken - probably the first Lager in the UK!
Heineken – probably the first Lager in the UK!

1960s

The 1960s saw a boom in the British economy; this was the decade when we saw the spread of Indian restaurants and the first Lager take off. Heineken signed a deal with the English brewers Whitbread which enabled them to produce Lager at their brewery in Luton. The rest is history!

Wine drinking still remained a minority activity in the 60s but with the rise of the ‘dinner party’ more middle class families were serving it at their dining tables.

Blue Nun, Italian Chianti in straw flasks and Mateus Rose were the wines of choice. Empty bottles of Mateus Rose and Chianti were used as ‘chique’ candle holders!

Blue Nun is a German Liebfraumilch and between the 1950s and 1980s was probably the largest international wine brand. After World War II Blue Nun was so fashionable it sold for the same price as a Bordeaux Second Growth Grand Cru Classe!

Chianti bottle being used as a candlestick
Chianti bottle being used as a candlestick

Mateus Rose was created in Portugal in 1942 and production began at the end of the Second World War. It reached the height of fashion in the 70s and by the late 1980s Mateus accounted for over 40% of Portugals table wine exports and world wide sales were 3.25 million cases a year. As with most boom or bust situations the over exposure lead to Mateus falling from grace but it is fast picking up as a ‘retro wine’.

Sherry parties also took off at this time and although the preference for sweet Sherry remained dominant posher parties included Dry styles such as Amontillado and Fino.

Cinzano - Bianco with lemonade was a very popular choice in the 70s
Cinzano – Bianco with lemonade was a very popular choice in the 70s

1970s

The 1970s saw the rise of Campari, Cinzano and Martini & Rossi as fashionable drinks. They are all Italian Vermouths – fortified wines with combinations of herbs dating back to the late 1750s.

Cinzano came in the form of sweet white Cinzano Bianco and Extra Dry, Martini in the form of sweet, amber coloured Rosso. Both were mixed with lemonade. Campari was more bitter (often likened to cough syrup) and was drunk with soda.

Pony - the little drink now long forgotten
Pony – the little drink now long forgotten

The ‘little drink with the big kick’ took off in the 70s. This was Pony. Pony performed the trick of putting sweet cream sherry into a small bottle. Cherry B was a similar product that contained cherry brandy in a little bottle.

For those of us old enough to remember it Lambrusco was the Lambrini of the 70s and early 80s – it was cheap, cheerful and quaffable. Lambrusco back then came in a sparkling, sweet red and white and to my mind was the fore runner of the alcopop – but that’s a matter of personal opinion and another story.

Beaujolais Nouveau was also fashionable. Each year the new Beaujolais is released on the third Thursday in November, and not earlier, by decree of the French Government. In the 70s just after midnight on the given day a race began to ship the wine out all around the world as quickly as possible. It generated stunts and excitable headlines. There were car or balloon races, even elephant and rickshaw races, to bring the first bottles to Paris, Britain, Belgium and Germany.

Tabboo & Mirage - exotic drinks with tropical flavours
Tabboo & Mirage – exotic drinks with tropical flavours

1980s

With yuppie culture taking off in the 80s Champagne consumption rocketed. Prior to this date Champagne had been only drunk on special occasions. Top class Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe also enjoyed a boom and wine investment became ‘cool’. Bordeaux’s 1982 vintage was dubbed as ‘legendary’ by critic Robert Parker, causing its value to go through the roof. Having 100-point scales and a host of new wine publications, collectors could now make well informed decisions on what to buy, a trend that has continued to this day.

Exotic cocktails and drinks were the ‘in thing’ during the 80s – this was the era of fruit flavoured spirits Taboo and Mirage and the Blue Hawaii.

The movie popularised Chardonnay
The movie popularised Chardonnay

1990s

Sales of Chardonnay boomed in the 90s, in part due to the film Bridget Jones’s Diary. Unlike todays crisp Chardonnays these were heavier styles; aged in oak barrels with vanilla and butter like flavours. A backlash occurred in later in the decade when people tired of the style and the phrase ‘ABC – Anything But Chardonnay’ was coined.

Our tastes became sweeter and Alcopops arrived in the 90s with brands such as Hooch, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer filling supermarket shelves. Sales of Lambrini, a Perry (pear) drink boomed, as did strong, white Cider such as White Lightening.

We also saw sales grow in wines from around the world – red Zinfandel from the USA, sparkling Cava from Spain and Chenin Blanc from South Africa.

This movie knocked Merlot off its pedestal
This movie knocked Merlot off its pedestal

The Noughties

The Millenium has seen Sauvignon Blanc take over from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir battle Merlot (thanks to the film Sideways) the rise of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco. It’s seen Bordeaux break the bank thanks to the Chinese bubble in wine investment and Burgundy rise to the fore. Italian wines have stepped up to the mark and we are now used to seeing quality Argentian Malbecs, New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, Spanish Riojas etc.

Our tastes have expanded to encompass all quarters of the globe and wines made from far flung grapes.

Thanks to the internet we can explore wine and its countries of origin, share our likes and dislikes and make wonderful new discoveries. The horizons are endless.

When we look back in the future I wonder what drinks we will consider to be nostalgic? Or what drinks from the past we will have brought back?

Merry Christmas!