Updated: Mar 6, 2020
Bon Viveur is defined in Wikipedia as "one who lives well ."
For life to really be lived at its best, here at 50plus4men.com we believe it has to be experienced as a journey of discovery. As with any trip into the unknown it is best undertaken with a guide by your side. Somebody who knows the terrain and can help you map out the best route. Someone who can help you develop the skills and knowledge you need to go out and explore on your own.
Meet our Bon Viveur, he will be our guide on this culinary journey of discovery. He is a man who has over the last 30 years developed a deep knowledge and understanding of the best food and wines the world has to offer. An understanding which I am happy to say he'll be sharing with us in the weeks and months to come. Enjoy the journey!
James (founder of 50plus4men.com)
Ask any winemaker and they will all agree that Pinot Noir is a b**ger to grow – its tightly packed clusters of grapes and thin skins make it very susceptible to weather damage and disease. But in favourable weather conditions and on good terroir, this supermodel of the wine world will dance on your tongue leaving a warm soft glow to your cheeks.
This is the autumnal wine par excellence – when Keats described autumn as the season "of mist and mellow fruitfulness", he could have been describing Pinot Noir itself. Drink with chicken or game before bitter winter arrives and something heavier is required such as Cabernet Sauvignon (next month's blog) or Syrah/Shiraz.
All of this magic in a glass can command astronomically high prices, particularly in the Cote D'Or, the pinnacle of Pinot Noir production in Burgundy. A bottle of Romanee Conti La Tache 1995 (described as blossoming into "the most incredible cherry compote, black truffle, cloves, loam, saucisson and tobacco leaf aromas") will set you back £4,000 a bottle.
Fortunately, for mere mortals, there are bargains to be had. We will start in Burgundy, sample a Spaetburgunder in South-West Germany, then travel to the Southern hemisphere and taste the wonders of the Central Otago region.
Burgundy – Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Bas Liards
As the old saying goes you marry a Bordeaux but make love to a Burgundy and, with this wine, you can taste why!
With historic vineyards owned by the Dukes of Burgundy, popes and the Cistercians, its picturesque Romanesque villages tucked into the Cote D'Or escarpment, Savigny-Les-Beaune is not only a delightful place to visit but a good starting point for tasting affordable Pinot Noir.
Step forward Sarah Anne Marsh, an English Master of Wines with an impeccable pedigree. When she is not busy tasting and writing about wine, she is producing her own Red and White Burgundies. Snap up her Savigny-Les-Beaune, Les Bas Liards 2018 only available on her website (sarahannemarsh.com), good value of £29.82 a bottle (it states in cases of six but email her and she may well sell by the bottle).
This is a light, perfectly structured easy quaffable Burgundy with hints of cherry which will drink well now and for another five years. Perfect with white meats and Turkey. Snap these up while you can, as Sarah is shortly moving on to the more hallowed (and more expensive) heights of Gevrey Chambertin.
Salwey – Pinot Noir KaiserStuhl
As we move north towards the bucolic delights of the Black Forest region of southwest Germany, it is hard to believe that a bottle of this great maker's Pinot Noir is the same grape as that produced by Sarah Marsh.
If one can imagine a character from Jane Austen sampling the refined delights of Savigny-Les-Beaune, the SALWEY PINOT NOIR, KAISERSTUHL, BADEN 2015 belongs in a Zola novel – earthy, honest, big-hearted. There is a hint of manure and a taste of plums and wood. This is gamey wine par excellence. At £16.90 a bottle from Tanners, this is a bargain and will drink well for the next five years.
Central Otago, New Zealand
Finally to the most southern wine region in the world, Central Otago, New Zealand. This is a monumental landscape with weathered snow-capped mountains, vast alpine meadows and fast-flowing rivers.
And the Pinot Noirs can only be described as ethereal, lacking some of the suppleness of fruit of its illustrious European competitors (as befits its colder climate) but making up for it in depth and complexity.
Try Majestic's Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2017 Mt Difficulty, a snip at £20.99 a bottle or £15.73 with a mix of six – a heady mix of berries and spice.