In 1966, Master cheese affineur Marcel Petite chanced upon an old fort in a forest high in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France. Petite was quick to realise that the fort’s cut and vaulted stone construction, blanketed with a layer of soil, provided the ideal conditions for the slow maturing of his Comté cheeses, near the mountain dairies where they are made. Today, more than 100,000 wheels are ripened here, generally for 10 to 20 months, to achieve Comté’s savoury brown-butter and roasted-nut notes and long, sweet finish. Only a tiny proportion of these are matured for 36 months (or even longer), after which they take on more complex roasted-nut and candied-fruit stones, a crunchy texture, and a long, sharp finish.
Beluga is often considered to be the world’s most exclusive caviar, but there is an even more exclusive breed of sturgeon that produces eggs of a superlative quality: the rare albino sterlet. Wild capture is banned, so populations are protected by breeding programmes (acipensériculture), but only a few farmers have the requisite expertise to nurture this prized pale fish and its delicate eggs. The result is a sought-after pearly white caviar with a wonderful balance of buttery richness and delicacy.
One of Australia’s most celebrated wineries, Penfolds only releases its Special Bin cuvées in the most exceptional vintages. The last time it produced a Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Shiraz was in 1966, under the guidance of its first chief winemaker, Max Schubert, the pioneer of Australia’s most famous wine, Grange. Now, more than half a century later, a special two-bottle release of the 2008 Bin 620 is presented in a specially commissioned Tasmanian oak box and comes with a letter from current Penfolds chief winemaker Peter Gago. An exceptionally long-lived wine, it boasts a beguiling combination of earthy, truffley aromas over notes of cassis and blackberries, with the complex, layered fruit densely packed on a long, spicy finish.
A hamper designed to transport you, bite by glorious bite, through a full day of Christmas feasting. Opening with some very sippable tipples, thick and flavoursome jars, scrumptious savoury delights and the sweetest of festive treats. And still there is more to discover for yourself – so dive inside and let the feasting begin!
The predominant contributory factor to Scotch whisky’s aroma and flavour comes not from the barley or the water, but from the cask in which it is aged. The Macallan buys 65 per cent of the sherry-seasoned oak casks – the best barrels you can get – that are imported into Scotland, and that investment is seen in The Macallan 12-year-Old Sherry Oak through a deliciously smooth blend of rich dried fruits, sweet toffee and vanilla-tinged spice.