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

Flash Recommendation: Fairtrade Organic Chardonnay, Santa Florentina, Argentina

What:  Fairtrade Organic Unwooded Chardonnay, Santa Florentina, Famatina Valley, Argentina 12.5%,
Where Out: Bel and The Dragon, Cookham, Berkshire £5.00 175ml glass/  £21 a bottle
Where In: Corney and Barrow, online, £8.50
Who: A date (A.K.A. my husband – someone I hadn’t spoken to for a number of weeks a) in a civilised setting b) using eye contact due to some kind of multi-tasking activity e.g. wiping tomato sauce from a small person’s face c) without referring to him directly but via one of the same small people as ‘Daddy’).
When:
Last minute flogging of Kaiser Chief’s tickets, in favour of a quiet, local, Friday night out, drinking wine and eating curry (without regret – boring, I know, but soooo much easier).
Food match: Had I been eating and not heading down the road to the Spice Merchant Cookham Tandoori, the mussels would’ve gone down a treat.
Conclusion: A dry and soapy, citrus wine with a perfect acidity softened by the buttery creaminess reminiscent of popcorn flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans. Bel and The Dragon doesn’t have the cheapest wine list in the vicinity but it’s very comprehensive and I look forward to heading back to trying more. Plus, if this wine was anything to go by, the quality of wine seems to fairly reflect the price (I tested some of their competitors just to be on the safe side).
Bonus point: For an ‘everyday’ drinker to take home or for any of your wine buying needs, pop next door to the lovely Old Butcher’s Wine Cellar  (website currently under development) for a bottle of Paul Mas Chardonnay.

Links: Why Chardonnay is back in fashion, Dynamic Domaines Mas

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You win some you lose some: Part 2 (1977 Chateauneuf wine tasting)

 Clos de L’Oratoire des Papes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 1977First off, I apologise for the delay between posts. When I started this blog, I was working a shorter week and was kindly allowed a couple of hours ‘blogging time’ on my day off by a pair of obliging napping babies…those days have passed, but as promised here is my follow on from my last post [part 1].

To recap, I had won a wine auction consisting of 2 St. Emilion Bordeaux, 2 left-bank Bordeaux and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Southern Rhone) – all from the 1970’s and all a little fusty looking. Figuring that all of them would, at the very least, be better drunk 20 years ago ready to drink, I wasted little time in opening the first bottle of my winnings.

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You win some, you lose some.

In a moment of madness, having been alerted to the sale of some vintage wine in the monthly  Bourne End Auction, in Buckinghamshire, I placed a blind bid on a lot of wine from the 1970’s.

A wine lottery it seemed, but in my excitement at the mystery and owning my very own wine from my decade of birth, I swiftly submitted my bid. In my haste, foolishly, I hadn’t even bothered to look up the Chateau Laniote to see if it was ever any good, let alone when it’s 40 years old nor did I have any idea as to the history of the actual wine or any clue as to what the other 4 bottles were. Not my wisest move ever, but such fun!

lot206

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Super Thursday Valentine’s

DSC00372This time 3 years ago, I was very heavily pregnant. I now therefore tend to associate Valentine’s Day, apart from the love and adoration of my husband of course (added in there – saved, phew!!), with being overdue, uncomfortable, and waiting. I remember being taken out for lunch by my brother and stepmum and how post-lunch, having some pre-baby maternity leave free time, my brother and I were stumped as to how we could spend a rainy February afternoon. Continue reading

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Rugby, stout and Spanish wine

England v Scotland line up 02-02-13. Go England!

England v Scotland line up 02-02-13. Go England!

A dull January turned into an exciting February with the start of the Six Nations rugby last weekend. As luck would have it, a couple of tickets to the England v Scotland game came our way via a good friend, and the in-laws were kind enough to have the kids, so off we went for a jolly day out to Twickenham to watch England retain the Calcutta Cup.

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Chin chin Scots-people

A rather dull, all work and no play January, has sadly meant little wine drinking or blogging for me since the new year. Any creative fancy of mine has been zapped by evening conference calls with our friends across the pond and the lure of spending the last 30 minutes of my day watching mind numbing telly, such as recordings of Miranda (every girl deserves a little Tom Ellis pick me up after a day’s slog).

I would now like to raise a virtual glass to my neighbourly Scotsmen/ women on this eve of an England v Scotland Six Nations nail biter since a fabulous Burns’ night supper of Cullen Skink and Haggis last Friday.

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