Vintage Report 2019: Spring

LEVIN Wines has had an exciting start to the vintage, after the emerging from the winter freeze. Warmer temperatures during early March saw the growing season begin two weeks earlier this year.

No herbicides are permitted in organic viticulture, so working the soil is essential to ensuring the ‘herbs’ do not get a head start. This increased the pressure to have the pruning completed on time, particularly with our newly planted and younger vineyards, which also require posts and wires as they grow up. Pulling out the canes and tying down, all by hand, is time consuming, with great care taken not to damage the precious, early budburst.

As always, our vineyard team rose to the occasion, impressively meeting the accelerated timeline. However, the weather had some more challenges in store for us. On the 3rd and 4th April we endured freezing temperatures of -3°C and -5°C; extremely perilous conditions for the newly formed buds! To protect them from frost, the team worked around the clock, laying hay at the base of the younger vines that are closer to the freezing ground. Our tireless efforts, and a fair bit of luck, helped minimise the frost damage.

The temperature again dropped to -3°C on the 11th April and with the buds more advanced, we made the decision to roll the ‘green organic herbs’ we plant between the vines to reduce further frost damage, whilst also ensuring all the canes were attached to the wires.

These literal highs and lows of the season have certainly kept us on our toes and remind us that nothing is guaranteed when dealing with the natural elements.

Thankfully May 11th is almost upon us – an auspicious date for French winemakers, when we can sigh with relief that danger from frost is behind us and look ahead to another great vintage. Let’s raise a glass to that!

Levin Dinner at The Murray hotel Hong Kong

While the vines are under snow and Bernard and the vineyard team are pruning in subzero temperatures, Mister L and I were in the much warmer climes of Hong Kong.

We launched our new vintages at Levin #Wine #Dinner with our great friend, British expat and hotelier Duncan Palmer, who hosted us at The Murray, Hong Kong @themurrayhk.

It is such an impressive transformation of an #iconic Hong Kong landmark to #luxury #hotel – from the Foster + Partners architecture, views across Hong Kong Park, Zoological and Botanical Gardens, five restaurants plus function facilities and position on #CottonTreeDrive in the heart of the city.

We are so pleased to have LEVIN Wines served at #TheMurrayHK via our local importer Ruud Karsdorp (for HK enquires, contact: Mob. (852) 9091 6576 or Our wines were wonderfully-matched to the impressively-prepared menu:


Yuzu, Oyster, spinach purée and light mayonnaise

LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc, VDP du Val de Loire, France 2012

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Tomato, Espelette chilli and crispy shallots

MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc, VDP du Val de Loire, France 2011

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Vegetables stuffed Rigatoni pasta and basil Oil

Le Vin de LEVIN Gamay, VDP du Val de Loire, France 2015

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Coated chocolate foie gras served cold and honey sauce

MADAME L Gamay, VDP du Val de Loire, France 2010

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Fresh red berries and toasted almond ice-cream

@SQUAREMEAL TASTING #SMTasting17 coming up!

2017 SquareMeal Tasting

The SQUAREMEAL TASTING 2017 is nearly upon us! We’re counting down to #SMTasting17 Wed 8 November, 6-9:30pm when we head to The Honourable Artillery Company (EC1Y 2BQ) to show off our double #gold medal LEVIN #Sauvignon Blanc, our Madame L & Mister L premium cuvées, our pretty, young thing LVL Pinot Rosé and our #AOC Vin CERVEAUX #Pouilly-Fumé.

We’ll be in very fine company with tasting dishes from Bar Boulud – Oxo Tower Restaurant – Sea Containers – Jose Pizarro restaurants – The Cinnamon Club – Aqua Nueva – Treves & Hyde – Zoilo – Obica – Galvin restaurants (sneak peek: spiced duck, Jerusalem artichoke curd, hazelnut and soy by Oxo Tower Restaurant, or egg foam, smoked paprika, potatoes and shaved truffle by Aqua Nueva, or even a chocolate pot seasoned with olive oil and salt by Jose Pizarro).

Plus, some lucky duck will a luxury, business class mini-break with Lufthansa to Munich drawn on the night, another great reason in itself to come along.

SquareMeal tasting room

SquareMeal Tasting 2017

When: Wednesday 8 November, 6-9.30pm
Where: The Honourable Artillery Company (Prince Consort Rooms), City Road, EC1Y 2BQ
Why: A great night out with friends, colleagues or clients
How much: £52. Ticket prices include a £3 booking fee. Groups of eight or more pay £47 – see below
Telephone: 020 7582 0222
How: Book here. Tickets are strictly limited and always sell out in advance. Tickets are not available on the door. Discounts available for groups of eight or more by emailing

#V17 + @peachpubco Vintage Experience

It was brilliant to have the Peach Pubs team, Dylan, Gabi, Bee, and Jessica for our Levin Vintage Experience in the #Loire last week.

In the vineyards at Bourré, we looked in on the pickers and did maturation testing (picking 100 berries from along the rows and crushing by hand to test acidity and baume – the potential alcohol). We went for a vineyard walk to look at our new plantings and talk about the soil composition of our Tuffeau and Silex sites. At the winery, we watched the action of the press and tasted the just pressed, ‘fresh from the tank’ samples of the different vineyard parcels of Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay juice.

We presented a vertical #SauvignonBlanc #vintage tasting going back #2006, #2008 (gorgeous elderflower, passionfruit vine on the warmer ’06 and ’08), #2009, #2010 (white nectarine and wild mint on ’10), #2011 (hot then cool ’11, flinty minerality and white peach) and #2012 (elderflower and mint back for the #double #goldmedal ’12) vintages.

Of course, lots of great food was eaten at our gîte in Monthou-sur-Cher, La Demeure de Bizard. The roasted local black foot chicken, Loire pork rillettes, Saint Maure de Touraine goats cheese and Black Russian tomatoes grown at the winery were a real highlight. And, there was lots of bonding about our shared passion for crafting authentic, thoughtful, brilliant food and wine experiences centred on the guest. We’re very pleased to be honorary peachy people!

Macéo Paris celebration of Steven Spurrier, 2017 Decanter Man of the Year

As a side trip to our Loire vineyards last week, Mister L and I had dinner at Macéo au Palais Royal @restaurantmaceo, the next door and sister restaurant to Mark Williamson’s iconic Willi’s Wine Bar (15 and 13 Rue des Petits Champs, 75001 Paris). A visit to either of these restaurants is normally an event in itself, but we were thrilled to join some old and new friends and icons in the world of wine for a special celebration.

Steven Spurrier named 2017 Decanter Man of the Year decanter

We had a fantastic night at Macéo to mark Steven Spurrier being named 2017 Decanter Man of the Year @decanter. I was honoured to sit next to Steven and hear his many stories. As one of Britain’s greatest wine experts, champions of French wine, merchant, educator and journalist, (even once portrayed rather fictitiously by Alan Rickman on celluloid,) you can imagine he was a fascinating dinner companion.

Our host, Mark Williamson, has a long friendship with David. They first met when Mark worked close by at the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair. David has been long humbled that his l’Metro at The Capital inspired Mark to open Willi’s Wine Bar. There was an Australian connection with our friend, Michael Hill Smith AM MW joining the party, too. Michael is part of a great wine dynasty, Australia’s first MW, MD of Shaw+Smith @shawandsmith and Tolpuddle Vineyard, Regional Chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards and awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for his contribution to the Australian Wine Industry. David and Michael met many times during winery trips to South Australia but struck up a great friendship when Michael came to stay at the hotel during his London trips for his Master of Wine exams.

I was also so pleased to meet the fascinating Stephanie Toole, owner and winemaker of Mount Horrocks @mounthorrocks. This year is her 25th vintage, and Stephanie’s organic, Clare Valley winery has long been considered an Australian wine icon. Stephanie has won accolades from Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year, Wine Companion Five Star Red Rating, UK’s Decanter and International Wine Challenge Trophies and made the only Australian wine served at the Lord Mayor’s Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday celebration: Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling. I’ve always adored her Cordon Cut – the canes are cut and left to hang and raisin naturally – and we talked at length about the challenges of frost in the vineyard and replanting to adapt to changing conditions.

Maceo au Palais Royal menu

We sat opposite Telmo Rodriguez who has been called one of Spain’s greatest winemakers. His return to his country’s wine traditions has made him as much a cultural historian as a negociant winemaker, coaxing regionally typical characters from forgotten vineyards, indigenous varieties, bush trained vines and naturally occurring yeasts. Telmo generously donated many wines of the night including an amazing, voluptuous Rioja from 2,000-year-old vines, the 2014 Tabuérniga’ Rioja which was beautifully structured, earthy, meaty, red berry with thyme. And, 2014 Falcoeira ‘A Capilla’ Valdeorras, a Mencía (60%) blend with a fine, floral, spicy and mineral structure over ripe red fruit. As well as, what is renowned as Spain’s best sweet wine, 2012 Molina Real ‘Mountain Wine’ Malaga, so named because the bush vines are grown at 550 m, on very steep, stony, calcareous terraces, in a once abandoned vineyard rescued by Telmo. What pure, high altitude flavours!

Brouilly 1979 Chateau des Tours in Imperial

Our main course was a delicious Pigeon de Pornic aux cerise matched to an amazing Brouilly 1979 Chateau des Tours in Imperial. At 38 years old, this Beaujolais was quite something, still displaying such wonderful vibrancy. It was earthy, textural and such a fine benchmark for the ageability of quality Gamay that we’re excited to see our Madame L Gamay develop well into the future.

It was such a special night; we can’t wait to visit Paris and Willi’s again and were so pleased to be there to commemorate Steven Spurrier, 2017 Decanter Man of the Year.

Springtime in the Vineyards

Wonderful to explore the terroir at our new Bourré vineyard Les Exivieres and see our 12-month-old Sauvignon Blanc vines developing on its #Silex flint #terroir that stores and reflects heat, producing restrained, linear, mineral (gunflint) wines with acidity and spice that gain complexity as they age. At ~65 million years old, it’s a younger geology than our #Tuffeau terroir (marine sedimentary limestone formed ~100 million years ago) mixed with loose and flinty clay, mica and sand. As the vines mature, the Silex terroir at Les Exivieres will add yet another element to the complexity of the flagship LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc. We also saw the sedimentary limestone from below, walking the Troglodyte caves 50 metres underneath our vineyards. The caves were quarried during 15th–17th centuries by the French aristocracy to build lavish châteaux like Château de Chenonceau, also used for homes, restaurants, galleries, farms for mushrooms, silkworms and snails. Our guide at @TrogloDegusto explained that it’s a labyrinthine 30 kilometres of caves, some still unexplored. It’s so special to deeply explore our unique terroir, ideally suited to producing complex, mineral, mature Sauvignon Blanc. #SauvignonBlanc #Silex #flint #terroir #Tuffeau #minerality #wine #Loire #Cher #Bourre #Touraine #Tours #France @chateau_chenonceau #chenonceau #chateau @TrogloDegusto

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Levin Gothenburg & Archipelago Adventure

Mister L and I took the most wonderful trip to #Gothenburg #Sweden this past week. We visited our wonderful agent Lena Magneby from Swedish Brands @swedishbrandwines who was the most amazing host and guided us to all the smart places serving Levin Wines. We felt like we experienced every vibrant element of Sweden’s sleek second city, starting with a warm Scandinavian welcome from Lena who whisked us away from Gothenburg Airport to our first visit (and had gratefully warned us to bring warms coats).

Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant Gabriel

First, we dropped into meet the visionary hotelier, Thomas Petersen of the Dorsia Hotel. It really was the most extraordinary boutique hotel, decorated after the style of La Belle Époque, with a restaurant and champagne bar. With its theatrical velvet curtains and jacquard carpets, it felt like stepping onto film set – incredibly luxe!  (Trädgårdsgatan 6, 411 08 Göteborg, Sweden,

Next stop, Fiskekyrka translating to fish church, a marketplace to worship all things piscatorial. On the mezzanine, we visited Restaurant Gabriel and charming chef and host Johan Malm, second-generation owner and World Champion Oyster Opening. We had fabulous pickled herrings, fish soup topped with mussels, Swedish/Japanese oysters (translation doesn’t work), freshest grilled plaice with new potatoes grilled mushrooms, finishing with the lightest berry, chocolate and meringue dessert.  (Feskekörka, 411 20 Göteborg, Phone: 031-13 90 51 &

Flour & Flower market

Then we walked around Gothenburg and discovered the most wonderful bakery where they mill and sell their own flour. Then we went up a set of stairs, through a cobbled courtyard and found a flower shop, then rambled down to food market, with Swedish cheese and stalls of organic and local produce.

Hotel Pigalle

Next, we checked into Hotel Pigalle playfully decorated in 1900s Parisian grandeur. Everything about this hotel, restaurant and bar was stylish, plush and sultry. We stayed in the Belle Suite, which included a fantasy champagne fridge chilling Dom Perignon, Cristal, Bruno Paillard, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, 1988 RD Bollinger in magnum, bottle and half bottle. The dressing room was right out of the Belle Epoch, with a stunning bedroom, with a sitting room and even its own boutique shopping range. (Södra Hamngatan 2a, 411 06 Gothenburg,

SK Mat & Människor

After a quick stop to the Gothenburg Museum of Art and a brilliant restaurant and bar with stunning cocktails and, of course, Levin Sauvignon Blanc, we had dinner at the sensational SK Mat & Människor. Owned by Visitas Hall of Fame chef Stefan Karlsson, the restaurant opened in 2014 and received its Michelin star in 2015 for its Swedish seasonal menu. We started with White asparagus with beurre blanc and vendace roe; followed by Tartar of local beef topside with cucumber, Swedish vinegar, dried egg yolk, capers and horseradish cream; then Cod with grains cooked in broth, spilt peas Swedish chorizo and dill jus; finally, Rhubarb two ways with white chocolate and yoghurt pudding, almond cake and vanilla ice cream. We’re so delighted to have 2011 Levin Sauvignon Blanc listed there! (Johannebergsgatan 24; 412 55 Göteborg,


On Thursday, we took a drive and ferry to the Island of Marstrand. A very picturesque little Island, where King Oscar II of Sweden built his summer house, which now operates as the Grand Hotel Marstrand. After a tasting of the range with Anders (2011 Levin Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon en magnum, 2015 Le Vin de LEVIN Pinot Noir, 2010 Madame L Gamay, 2012 Mr L Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Levin Noble Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc), we enjoyed simple and delicious lunch of Cod with fresh grated horseradish, shrimp, pickled egg, new potatoes. Afterwards, Mr L cheekily asked for pudding. Though there was nothing prepared, the kitchen hand was sent to pick some wild rhubarb growing at the old fort behind the hotel and 20 minutes later, a delicious rhubarb crumble appeared for a very happy Mr L! (Grand Hotel Marstrand, Rådhusgatan 2, 442 67 Marstrand

Juan Font

We returned by ferry to Gothenburg to the most popular wine bar in town, Juan Font, with a French-Spanish-Basque influence, where there’s a queue an hour before opening. Miguel and his team Charlie, Molly, William and Isabelle have selected a fantastic list and we were thrilled to have our Levin Sauvignon Blanc & Levin Gamay, Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc en magnum, Mr L Sauvignon Blanc and Vin Cerveaux Pouilly Fume on tasting. After the presentation, we duly tucked into one of the best bar menus we have ever tasted. Everything is made behind the bar, from the beef tartare with foie gras, air dried prosciutto, fresh curd cheese, charcuterie, pizza and possibly the world’s best olives to the foie gras macaroons; all most certainly hit the spot. (Teatergatan 36, Gothenburg


We took the late-night ferry to Skaret on the island of Styrsö and were met by Ylva, the patron of Pensionat Styrsö Skäret. Friday brought a beautiful sunrise and sunshine to the Island of Styrsö. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast of three different homemade breads, local churned butter, fresh orange juice and range of homemade lingonberry, marmalade and other local jams, bacon and scrambled eggs, herrings, smoked meats and charcuterie, not to mention Swedish cheeses and delicious pouring yogurt over homemade muesli. Well-fed, we walked around the island, where we were served coffee and cake at the port of Bratten. Kate Levin loves her red bike and we found one by the road with a pretty basket of flowers, though it looked a little small for the 5’11’’ Miss Levin. (Skäretvägen 53, 430 84 Styrsö

Pensionat Styrsö Skaret

Back at Pensionat Styrsö Skaret, Ylva, Ola and chef and the team were preparing the menu for our winemaker dinner and the guests were arriving to take an aperitif of Le Vin de LEVIN Pinot Noir Rosé on the terrace in the sunshine. Each dish was a triumph of pairing with our wines: Butterfried Crayfish smoked shrimp – caviar from Karelen with Levin Sauvignon Blanc; Tartar from Styrsö lamb cured egg yolk – barley – ramson onion with Madame L Gamay; Butterfried Cod asparagus – bleak roe – new potatoes with Vin Cerveaux; Cheese & jam with Mister L Sauvignon Blanc; Sea buckthorne – chocolate – licorice with Levin Noble Sauvignon Blanc.

The evening was also a celebration of May Queen (a rough translation, hence the flower crown) everyone including Mr & Madame L, Lena from Swedish Brands got into the spirit. We were thrilled to have Charlie, head sommelier from Juan Font, ferry over from the mainland to join us at the dinner with his partner. We cannot thank Lena from Swedish Brands, Ylva and Ula enough for being such amazing hosts and the opportunity to showcase Levin Wines and Vin Cerveaux on the Swedish Archipelago.

Sommelier Wine Awards

SWA LVL Bronze sq

Following in the footsteps of big siblings 2012 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (#Gold Medal 2016) 2012 Mister L Sauvignon Blanc (Gold Medal 2016), we’re pleased as punch that our village wine 2015 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc was awarded Sommelier Wine Awards Bronze Medal! #SWA2017

No wonder it’s such a popular on-trade organic #Sauvignon Blanc. (Our 2015 VinCerveaux Sauvignon Blanc and 2015 Levin Gamay received #Commendations, too!) Get in touch with Emmanuel for more info on trade release +44 (0) 7584 096 704

Brae Restaurant: a fine balancing act

It was wonderful to return to Brae Restaurant in 2017 and astonishingly Chef Dan Hunter’s menu has become even more impressive during the intervening year. Mr Levin, hard taskmaster, pronounced mid-lunch ‘forget Denmark and Spain, this is the best food in the world.’

Again, we enjoyed the unique Iced oyster, a goat’s milk sorbet flavoured with oyster brine and the dehydrated and powdered oyster on top of its half shell, with an interesting 30-month of lees pinot meuniere grower Champagne, NV Francis Boulard.

bbq-beetrootServed with the starter tastes, the Smoked eel doughnut with Barbecued beetroot seasoned with Brae farm honeycomb and rainbow trout roe was a revelation in balance. The roe, loosened with mirin and white soy, provided the saline bursts to the highly floral and waxy honey and smoky, earth baby beetroot, with the churro, with a suggestion of eel, was perfect to mop up whatever escaped from the fork. This was creatively matched to Rogue Wave ‘Cranky Mrs IPA’ from a bit further down the Great Ocean Road, with its malty, orange peel and citrus blossom notes. @roguewavebrewing

king-george-whitingKing George whiting, zucchini, leek and lemon was where the whiting was the star. It’s pristine white, flaky, springy flesh, matched to the livening zest of the lemon rind. From heritage family producer Best’s in the Grampians, their ‘Foudre Ferment’ was perfect. Wild yeast fermented in a large format, 2500L Burgundian barrel imparting a little openness, spice and honeyed texture, once again it was beautifully balanced with the more traditionally Australian citrus Riesling notes. @bestswines

summer-garden-tartSummer garden tart tartin and Wessex Saddleback saucisson was perhaps our favourite dish. Made from ‘today’s tomatoes’ (‘whatever was just falling off the vine that morning’) and a perfectly flaky puff pastry, it was glossy and savoury-sweet and together with the summer saucisson (hung in Dan’s office) felt like the world’s most sublime picnic. The 2014 Enigma Variations ‘Emptybell #1’ Rosé made by the talented biodynamic winemaker Tamara Irish just for Brae was such a wonderful accompaniment with its herbal, sweet tomato, earthy, mulberry, charcuterie notes that we asked to buy a bottle to take home. @enigmaVwine

crayfishCrayfish and shitake with Brae farm egg yolk, meat broth and seaweeds was both delightfully comforting and clean on the palate. The sumptuous, white chunks of local crayfish were sauced by the orange-est egg yolk and beefy rich stock, with the shitake and samphire offering alternative bursts of earthiness and sea spray in the mouth. 2000 Mukai Shuzō ‘Natsu no Omoide’ with its textural, honeyed, umami, pencil shaving characters was a wonderful match, apparently fermented with a 100-year-old yeast strain and aged for 14 years.

Reportedly, from tiny brewer in the Kyōto prefecture made by Kuniko Mukai who was one of the first women Master Brewers in Japan at the young age of 22 and carried on the traditions of her 260-year-old family brewery. @blackmarketsake

short-ribShort rib of beef cooked overnight, barbecued carrot, fermented and fried onions was such a decadent, gelatinous, tender beefy morsel, with a perfectly cooked smoky carrot and a thatch of fine onion curls excellently matched to the beautifully-honed, subtle and savoury 2015 Izway ‘Maurice’ Grenache from the Barossa Valley. @IzwayWine (Usually, Madame L is attuned to grenache’s raspberry confection, but was so enamoured with this wine that she claimed it had finally changed her mind after 62 years!)

red-fruitsRed fruits, lemon and lovage, wild cabbage and buckwheat was a delightful dessert course with farm raspberries and mulberries, buckwheat wafers and a white chocolate and berry ‘earth’ that slowly melted over sweet and crisp mouthfuls. It was matched with the 2015 Braida Brachetto d’Acqui, which was very much like a red, slightly drier, tannin-spicy Moscato – delicious!

We finished once again with the gorgeous Parsnip and apple, a creative homage to the cannoli and some perfectly ripe Ananas melon – a perfect Autumn lunch.

LEVIN joins Squaremeal Tasting 2016

Squaremeal Tasting 2016Can’t wait to join the party at the fabulous Squaremeal Tasting 2016 on Wednesday 16 November at the Honourable Artillery Company.

A temple to all things gastronomy, guests will wet their whistle with SWA Gold medal LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc 2012, LEVIN Rosé 2015 & MADAME L Gamay 2010, taste our Verjus by Nathan Outlaw & Cod’s Roe Canapes, as well as dishes from some of the hottest London restaurants.

The team at Squaremeal call it ‘A celebration of the best of the capital’s restaurant scene’ and no wonder.

Squaremeal Tasting FoodGuests will get to try signature dishes from London’s top restaurants, featuring Darbaar, Galvin Restaurants, Grain Store, Cinnamon Club, Aqua Shard, Jose Pizarro, Black Roe, Chotto Matte, Fucina, Sake no Hana, Zoilo, Outlaw’s at the Capital and M Restaurants.

Plus, over 200 Champagnes and wine from around the world, from some of Europe’s oldest to new world classics and, of course, a selection of premium spirits.

See you there!