@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
Email: sarahr@squaremeal.co.uk
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 sarahr@squaremeal.co.uk

#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!

Adventures in Armadale

Our dinner at the newly opened Amaru (@amaru_melbourne Amaru Melbourne 1121 High St, Armadale, Melbourne) hosted by the inimitable Phil Hude (ably assisted by Aine Conran) from Armadale Cellars was such a wonderful treat.Amaru Restaurant

Clinton McIver’s background as sous chef at Vue de Monde has been well documented, as was his dazzling 14-month stint at Clayton Bowls Club, where he honed his menu and carefully plotted his next steps (undoubtedly the best food to ever grace that particular eastern enclave!).

Clinton and his partner Ali have set up close to their home in High Street, Armadale, in a strip formerly more renowned for its pret-a-porter than haute cuisine, but with this addition it’s sure to become a real food destination. Ali and Clinton have been able to create an impressive, high concept menu, but with a warm sense of welcome and dinner party ambience.

Our starters, served as canapes (chivalrously camouflaging any latecomers) each had a nod to Indigenous produce. Puffed Kangaroo tendon served in wildflower honey, caramelized roo fat & burnt fig leather, was like a very antipodean prawn cracker, the saltiness combined with a thin wafer of richness and sweetness making for a lovely mouthful. Lightly cured bass grouper with fresh finger lime, native pepper leaf & fried pigs ear was a gorgeous ceviche of deep water wreck fish on a crispy, porky skin.

Blue swimmer crab with day old bread, vinegar, brown butter & pickled nasturtiums was a delectable crouton topped with shredded crab, its richness lifted by the pickled flower. The 80:20 blend of 2011 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay, served ‘en magnum’ with fresh notes of lemon, green apple and a rounded palate complemented each taste beautifully.

After Phil’s typically idiosyncratic introduction of the wines (he always manages to include a few references to Hawthorn FC), Lynne Levin explained the some-35-year history of the domaine, the organic and biodynamic production, the vineyards and flavour profiles of each of the wines to the avid vinophile audience.1heirloom

Next, we enjoyed the deceptively simple Heirloom tomatoes stewed with marron heads & muntrie berries. The rich umami sauce created by the marron mustard was contrasted with the just-collapsing, multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, with bright bursts from the berries, which we greedily mopped up with the Organic spelt sourdough & Tasmanian grass fed cultured butter. Such a wonderful match to our savoury, dry, tomato leaf, cool cherry and redcurrant 2011 LEVIN Rosé. Bass Groper

Next, we returned to the groper in greater proportions, Bass Groper, sauce of roasted wallaby bone & tender sea grapes, which was an ever-so-gently cooked fillet with lashes of salty seaweed and a rich reduction of wallaby. The 2011 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc with its subtle herbaceousness, pink grapefruit, and minerality was a bright and jaunty foil to the sea grapes, though 2011 MISTER L Sauvignon Blanc with its richer, smoky layers of complexity and gentle spine of acidity was a transcendent match.Dry aged Burrawon Gaian duck

The Dry aged Burrawon Gaian duck, preserved blueberry, barbecued radicchio was where our gamays really shone. This dish’s lift of blueberry played joyfully with the more generous cherry and dark berry notes in the 2011 Le Vin de LEVIN Gamay, while the smoky duck and radicchio was a brilliant compliment to 2011 Madame L Gamay’s savoury, spicy, earthy notes overlain with violets, lavender and cherry.
Cultured buffalo milk ice cream

Finally, we were treated to the impressive and slightly savoury dessert Cultured buffalo milk ice cream, cold pressed olive oil, Tasmanian pepper berry and seasonal aromatics. Almost playing the cheese course, the curd-like buffalo ice cream had a lively twang, with the clean, savoury flavours of the olive oil and pepper berry seeming to match equally well with the 2011 LEVIN Gamay and 2011 LEVIN Noble Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc, creating a good deal of lively discussion in the process!

We were so proud that LEVIN Wines was part of Amaru’s very first winemaker’s dinner and we know that Ali and Clinton will enjoy some very deserved success at their world class restaurant. Mister & Madame L look forward to dining at Amaru again when they return to Melbourne!


@amaru_melbourne Amaru Melbourne

1121 High St, Armadale Victoria 3143, Australia

+61 (0)3 9822 0144


Vintage Report 2015

With the LEVIN vendadge now finished, our grapes having been carefully picked and fermenting, it is time to reflect on a pleasing Vintage 2015.

At the beginning of the growing season, inclement weather at flowering resulted in lower fruit set, followed by very low rainfall for three months. This meant fewer bunches of smaller, more intense and aromatic grapes.

The drier and slightly warmer conditions that followed brought vintage forward by two weeks. The earlier vintage, combined with the quality and size of grapes and healthy vigour and fertility, all resulted in a faster fermentation, which had the effect of preserving the aromatic profiles and delivering lovely balanced acidity and increased minerality.

We very much look forward to introducing the 2015 wines, when they have reached maturity, of course!

Vintage 2015

Cubitt House Guests at La Demeure de Bezard

Alongside the harvest, Vintage is also a wonderful time for us to welcome our supporters and friends to the Loire Valley for a hands-on vintage experience. We hosted our visitors at the amazing gîte, La Demeure de Bezard in Monthou-sur-Cher. Bezard is on the site of 6th Century monastery, nestled in a wooded valley, next to the middle ages-built fortress and renaissance château, Gué-Péan.

Vintage visit with the Cubitt House team

At the end of September, we welcomed a fabulous team from Cubitt House Group for a three day visit. Nadine, Sara, Valerie, Mo, Sam, Aniello and Hannah began the visit with a tour of our Oisly (pronounced ‘Wally’) organic vineyards and Clos Rosier (our cherished, home block vineyard) – where the much loved Cubitt Sauvignon Blanc is grown, which LEVIN Wines produces especially for The Orange, The Grazing Goat, The Alfred Tennyson and The Thomas Cubitt, in London.

At the winery, we talked about how we produce our premium cuvée, Mr L Sauvignon Blanc, as well as LEVIN Wines history and organic and biodynamic philosophy and practices. We then all sat down to a traditional vigneron’s lunch with the LEVIN team, Bernard, Denis and Adrien.

This included a vertical tasting of LEVIN Rosé from 2009, 2010 and 2011, with local charcuterie specialties Pork Rillettes, rustic Terrine of Rabbit and Duck Foie Gras. Aniello wowed us with his service skills: carrying 18 glasses at a time and six plates in one hand! This was followed by a delectable Apple Flan, from our local patisserie, with Crème Fraiche and LEVIN Noble Botrytis Sauvignon Blanc.

Vintage experience

The wine experience was continued after lunch, with a tasting of the free run grape juice for our premium cuvée Gamay. Then we presented a simple Sauvignon Blanc parcel blending exercise, with samples drawn from several of our 19 vineyards sites. The clever Cubitt team declared their favourite to be from our beloved Choussy vineyard, where our finest grapes for premium cuvée Mr L Sauvignon Blanc are grown.

We took the Cubitts to visit to the gorgeous château Gué-Péan where they had the chance to meet the local chevaux, followed by dinner of roasted local Organic Black Leg Chicken, Pommes Dauphenois, French salad and baked quince flan for dessert.

We presented a vertical tasting of LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc: 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as a horizontal tasting of the 2011 vintage: 2011 LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc (unoaked), 2011 Mr L Sauvignon Blanc (oaked) 2011 LEVIN Noble Sauvignon Blanc (botrytis).

We also took time to enjoy the amazing autumn sunsets and explore the wonderful tranquillity of the secluded forest. We were sad to see Nadine, Sara, Valerie, Mo, Sam, Aniello and Hannah go, but bid them farewell as they set out to visit to the most beautiful château in the Loire, spanning the River Cher – Château de Chenonceau.  (Sam, we’re eager to see you in your movie, coming soon to cinemas!)

Our Australian Visitors to the winery

It was so lovely to welcome our Australian visitors, Brendan Vivien and Miranda from Melbourne and their friends Barbara and Nick from England to Domaine Levin, even though an electrical outage triggered our security alarm system, giving a rather noisy welcome.  Our Levin Sauvignon Blanc, Madame L Gamay and Mr L Sauvignon Blanc were greatly enjoyed, with Brendan and Vivien already seeking them out in Melbourne and Barbara and Nick, in London.

Lunch at Château Roches

We joined our friends for a vintage celebration and were treated to a most fabulous lunch at Château Roches. We enjoyed local specialities including a beautifully prepared Loire River fish, with crumbed Mussels and freshly-picked Girolle mushrooms, with spinach.

Our Scottish guests from L’Art du Vin

Our next vintage visitors were our wonderful Scottish friends at L’Art du Vin. Our very successful Scot agent, Richard Bouglet brought with him Craig, Ed, Andrew, Fred, Alex and Lewis, a group of the most passionate restauranteurs, chefs and sommeliers from Scotland and Northern England.

By then, the weather had become more autumnal, although it did not prevent our tour of our Oisly vineyard, and presenting a comparison of organic and non-organic vineyards. We were able to show the group the great texture and structure of the soil, and ‘sweet’ earthy smell of the terroir on our organic vineyard, in stark contrast to the hard, compacted and lifeless non-organic vineyard. (Remarkably, the leaves on the organic vines remain for weeks after they have turned and dropped from non-organic vines!) It was a great opportunity for Richard to show first hand his passion and knowledge of organic viticulture.

Vintage friends from abroad

Of course, we made a visit to château Gué-Péan for a photo opportunity, before getting down to some serious tasting of the newly pressed grape juice. We again enjoyed a stunning response to the longevity of our Sauvignon Blancs, from the 2006 through to 2012 in bottle.

We also tasted the 2014 Le Vin de LEVIN Sauvignon Blanc en magnum, 2011 Mister L Sauvignon Blanc , 2010 and 2011 LEVIN Gamay and Madame L Gamay – and a surprise for all – 2009, 2010 and 2011 LEVIN Rose, served with gazpacho was a magnificent match.

We believe the 2015 vintage will be one of our best for Gamay (watch this space!). Our Choussy vineyard has delivered the Sauvignon of a generation, which we are so delighted will produce a superb 2015 Mr L Sauvignon Blanc – a fitting tribute to Mr L himself, in his 80th year.