Behind the scenes with Justerinis in Edinburgh

Peter Ranscombe takes a sneak peak at wine merchant Justerini & Brooks’ revamped tasting room in the Scottish capital.

FEW names in the wine trade have such an illustrious history as Justerini & Brooks – founded in 1749, the company was granted a royal warrant by George III, an honour it has maintained with each successive monarch.

The company’s head office and origins may be in London – still in St James’s, where Giacomo Justerini established his business – but the firm has strong Scottish links and is owned by Diageo, Scotland’s largest whisky distiller, giving its name to the “J&B” in the “J&B Rare” brand.

Justerinis opened its Edinburgh office in 1963, serving both private clients and the hospitality industry.

Those twin pillars are still at the heart of its Scottish operations, with individuals as well as restaurants and hotels buying their bottles from Alva Street.

The New Town office has recently opened its revamped tasting room, where Justerinis will welcome customers for tastings.

That seemed like a good excuse to pop-in and try a glass or two…

Bruno Clair Cuvée Source des Roches Marsannay, 2014 (£25.59)
There’s an elegance to the nose of this white Burgundy, with butter, cream and smoke mixing with red apple and melon. The fruit is concentrated enough to balance the oak on the palate and there’s almost a metallic meaty tang to the finish.

Fritz Haag Brauneberger Riesling Kabinett, 2016 (£14.09)
Heavy smoke and petrol on the nose give way to much fruitier notes of peach and apricot on the palate, richer than the pear and green apple aromas penetrating the petrol. There’s a slight off-dry sweetness, but it’s nicely balanced by the crisp acidity.

Bachelet Monnot La Fussière Maranges 1er Cru, 2014 (£20.79)
All the classic Burgundy aromas are present and correct – wood smoke, a bit of damp earth or wet leaves, and that enticing mix of red fruits, with raspberry and redcurrant then leaning towards blackcurrant. Its acidity is still fresh and lively, with complex red cherry and cranberry flavours joining the redcurrant and intermingling with cinnamon and cloves.

Chateau Grand Villages, 2010 (£21.59)
Heavier smoke on the nose than the Burgundy, with the merlot-dominated blend bringing aromas of damsons and plums. The fresh acidity shows it’s still young and has good ageing potential, yet there’s plenty to enjoy right now, with a touch of dark chocolate and a fruity blackberry and black cherry finish.

August Kesseler Pinot ‘N’ Spatburgunder Trocken, 2013 (£17.59)
I couldn’t help but slip in a special mention for August Kesseler’s German pinot noir from The Grape & The Grain’s “100 wines for Christmas” article – it’s still one of my favourites in the Justerinis range thanks to the cranberry and redcurrant fruit – and jammier strawberry and raspberry notes – to match its fresh acidity. Delicious.