Henley Regatta Perfect Wine Pairing

ImageIt would be an understatement for me to say that I like Henley Regatta. I love Henley Regatta, even more so when the sun is shining. I have a lot of great memories from over the years, from the times I’ve camped with good friends, having left work in time to pitch up and catch the last couple of races over a Pimms or two, to the few times I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a pass to Stewards’ Enclosure. I also rowed myself for a few years at Maidenhead, so not only can I appreciate a nice stroke action, the stress of a racing start and the pain of a 40 strokes per minute rating, I’ve also been part of the rowing community so tend to know a few friendly faces around and about. All in all it’s a brilliant few days and if you like sitting by the river with a drink, people watching, I can imagine you’d enjoy it too.

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Filed under Dorset, Eating/ Drinking Out, English Wine, Party Wine, Seasonal, Spain, Sparkling

My quest to find the perfect Rosé

Upd 14Aug13: In a desperate attempt to be accepted by my fellow wine bloggers, I’d like to re-submit this post that I wrote back in June for the 80th  Wine Blogging Wednesday, the subject being ‘Dry Rosé’. I’ll admit, this is cheating somewhat but after some grovelling, @winecast has humoured me and allowed this as a super-early (21 days earlier than the challenge was even set) submission. Check out twitter #wbw80 and here for more excellent entries.

Some love it, some hate it. I am in the former camp and LOVE a glass of Rosé on a sunny afternoon. I like to think that my husband and I were the sole initiators of the rosé revolution in the UK after being introduced to its merits on a holiday to St Tropez back in 2003. Prior to then, I’d tasted very little and if my memory serves me correctly, anything other than Mateus was rare to be seen on a pink wine list in the UK.

Just like I wouldn’t order just ‘a glass of white wine’ in a pub, I wouldn’t order just any old rosé. I’ve been caught out in the past by the sweet, heavy, dark, cheap rosés that many pubs serve and have been known before now to demand to see the bottle before ordering only to opt for a pint of lager instead. I am always astounded by the looks of astonishment by bar staff across the country – surely rosé is rosé? Not at all and I seriously suspect that the rosé haters amongst you simply haven’t found the right one for you yet! Rosé for me has to be dry, lightish in colour and acidic with an almost sherberty finish and I neither mind whether it’s strawberries or peaches and cream. Needless to say – it must be COLD. Continue reading

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Jolly Rosé Holidays

The 89 BMW pictured at Sandbanks, UK  - our mode of holiday transport is not such fun these days!

The ’89 BMW. Our mode of holiday transport is not such fun these days!

The last time I went to the Cote d’Azur and Provence, was 10 years ago to the month. We (my husband and I, in the early days) spent 3 days under canvas on the beach at Port Grimaud as part of a 2 week tour of France, living out the back of my 1989 BMW E30 convertible. This time, we’ll be in a much more sensible diesel estate (stationwagon, for my American readers), accompanied by our 2 kids (20 months and 3 years) and staying in a ‘Tiki Hut‘ (a.k.a a thatched mobile home) – oh, how times change.

What will not be changing however, is the delight of buying inexpensive local rosé wine by the refillable carton from the local marché. It was on our previous trip, sat in a bar watching how the other half live on St. Tropez harbour, that we discovered the delights of Provençal rosé. From that moment on, we have continued to quaff the stuff every summer and share the love with whoever will listen – we even chose a cheap and cheerful rosé as an alternative to white wine for our guests to wash down the barbecue at our wedding.

Something else that has changed since my last trip, is that I now know a little more about wine, so I will be branching out beyond just the entry level to try and find the perfect rosé –  I’m not expecting that I’ll have too venture far.

Port Grimaud is just outside of St. Tropez and then we’re staying on a vineyard just to the east of Orange. Do you have any recommendations of vineyards to visit or specific wine producers to keep an eye out for? Please do comment!

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Cheers to English Wine Week!

A selection of English Sparkling for an upcoming tasting in May.

Hoorah to English Wine Week!

Just a quicky as I have a small person pestering me to set up a treasure hunt. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, as I believe it is too in the states. It is also World Sherry Day and, more to the point, we’re in the midst of English Wine Week.

I ran an English Wine tasting a couple of week’s ago and the general consensus from a group of happy tasters, was that the English wine was excellent. Since then, I also attended a trade show where I tried even more!

In summary;

we can grow some fabulous Bacchus – a lighter version of Sauvignon Blanc. The Pheasants Ridge Bacchus Dry from near Henley-on-Thames was a delight and the generous Michael Gilbey gave us (The Wine Team) a bottle to try. (£75 for 6 bottles) I would like to try their Sparkling Brut now.

Expect to see some Chardonnay emerging  Give the Gusbourne Estate Chardonnay (still, not sparkling – well, try that too!) a go!

Age it! – We tried a vertical tasting of Stanlake Park‘s Kings Fume (a 2006 and a 2010) (£10.99 from the vineyard) blend of Ortega, Regner, Scheurebe and Bacchus. Both tasty with the eldest being a lot creamier and softer – the jury was out as to which was preferred.

 the reds are coming along – until this particular tasting, I was yet to taste a decent English red. The 2 Pinot Noirs from Bolney Estate (£15.99) and a’Becketts (£15) however were light and fruity, with the former hinting at some good Burgundy-esque flavours and body.

don’t rule out rosé either – the Oaken Grove Benham Blush  (Waitrose, £10.99) was just how I like my rosé – light, acidic and fruity (think Provencal) [Also featured in My quest to find the perfect rosé]

….drum roll…and the sparkling……! – Becoming increasingly competitive in price and quality with Champagne and other sparkling wine, it really feels like English Sparkling is carving out its own little niche within the market, and I’m yet to try a nasty one. It’s also switching me towards pink sparkling – The Balfour Brut Rosé (£35.99, Waitrose) is a force to be reckoned with. As for the whites, you could pick up the Sainsbury’s English Sparkling Wine, a 2007 vintage from Denbies  for around £15 in their 25% off deal at the moment – a billion-times better investment than a cheap bottle of NV Champers in my opinion, and worth every penny at full price £19.99. Another that I had the pleasure of tasting this week was the award-winning Bluebell Vineyard Estates Hindleap Blanc de Blancs (£23.99). These guys were lovely to meet and all 3 of their sparklings were yummy.

Not my most scientific post this one, but wanted to share while the sun still shines and the long weekend is still in full swing. Please do share any you’ve tried and where you bought it. Happy Bank Holiday and Happy English Wine Week!

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, English Wine, Sparkling, Uncategorized, Wine Tasting

Summer Dining and Wine Series: Barbecues

Picture this; it’s been sunny since Wednesday and you’ve been cooped up in an air-conditioned office all week. The forecast for the weekend is STEAMY and you awaken to blue skies and glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. First thought? It’s time for a barbecue!

Proud husbandly photograph of 6 hour cooked dinner

Proud husbandly photograph of 6 hour cooked dinner

So, first thing…do we have any charcoal? Yes, I think there’s one last batch that’s been clogging up the shed all winter – just enough for one bbq. Second…food! Cue, a rummage in the freezer. Sausages – check. A couple of chicken thighs, perfect for skewers – check. This is where I, being female, would end, but this is a barbecue, 2 meats in one meal simply won’t suffice! Continue reading

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Flash Recommendation: Kleine Zalze Pinotage, Stellenbosch, South Africa

H&FZalzeWhat:  Kleine Zalze Pinotage, Stellenbosch, South Africa 14.5%
Where Out: Hand and Flowers, Maidenhead, Berkshire £4.85 175ml glass/  £19 a bottle
Where In: Templar Wines, online, £7.99 (as part of a case of 12)
Occasion: Long overdue, Yummy Mummy mid-week catch up over pizza and wine
Food match: This fruity, medium bodied Pinotage stands up well to the SCRUMMY Taco Beef Pizza.
Conclusion: A warm and well rounded wine with good oak and pleasing chewy blackcurrant. Much better in comparision to anything that used to be on the wine list here before the previous owners took over. Back to being the best pub in town by far.
Bonus point: At last, the grown ups of Maidenhead have somewhere nice to go for a drink and a decent bite to eat in the centre of town! Not to be confused with the magnificent Marlow eatery of Tom Kerridge fame just up the road, but a lovely local all the same, and you’re more likely to get a table.

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Summer Dining and Wine Series; Picnics

Surely this year, here in the UK we deserve a good summer? The jet stream owes us more than just a few random non-rainy days and in anticipation of a heat wave or two, in my next couple of posts, I will share my idea of summer wine choices whilst dining al fresco.

Part One: Picnics

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking Out, English Wine, France, Party Wine, Seasonal, South America, Sparkling, Wine and Food Pairing