As an advocator of English Wine and local produce, it has been my pleasure to have been working alongside perhaps my most local vineyard, Dropmore Vineyard. It was therefore, with real sadness that I learnt of the recent loss of Mr Dropmore himself, John Petersen (30 June 1936 – 29 March 2016).
John’s passion for his 3 acres of vineyard in Littleworth Common (nr. Burnham), was unsurpassed – never before have I seen such lovingly cultivated vines. John planted his 2500 vines in 2008 with a mixture of Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Noir, Ortega and Pinot Meunier, with John’s first harvest following in 2010 with a crop of Bacchus.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with John since his crisp and fruity Bacchus 2013 vintage was released and it is at least good news to hear that the vineyard will continue to be worked and Dropmore Wines will live on in his memory. I’m just sad that John never got to taste his first sparkling wine, which has just been released and is a jolly good drop!
As a salute to John, I will have his award winning Dropmore Vineyard Pinot Blush 2013 open to taste on Sunday 8th May at Maidenhead’s Eat on the High Street. John received the Best Still Rosé Wine Award in the T&CVA 2015 Annual Wine Challenge back in September 2015, a great achievement. His Bacchus also won a Bronze Award, so well done him!
I’m back this weekend, bringing wine to Maidenhead town centre. Yep, on the High Street, so if you’ve missed me in my old stomping ground, come along and see me on Sunday 8th May 11-4pm – the usual wine pop-up format with superb wines to taste and buy (a little more on those below). Not only is the sun set to shine (unlike my last few chilly outings), I won’t be on my lonesome, infact, I’m going to be alongside a whole host of other local food producers as part of the relatively new street food market, Eat on the High Street, which means while you top up on wine, you can choose your lunch from a whole array of different cuisines, grab a seat and sit and soak up the atmosphere (and sunshine, I hope). Dinerama/ Spitalfields Market, eat your heart out (but think more suburban and sedate, with less hipsters)!
Fabulous local photographer, social media whizz and blogger Maidenhead Mum sums up the first Eat On The High Street perfectly (it also made the ‘Tiser), and now that there are seats and tables, it’ll make the ideal place to meet friends for lunch, every second Sunday of the month. As the first two events have lead to the High Street thrumming with diners, I’m really looking forward to returning to my original pop-up location and hopefully seeing many of my Maidenhead customers on Sunday. Having sought out perhaps every discerning wine drinker in Maidenhead who actually come into the town centre on a normal, nothing-really-happening kind of Saturday, I know that there are many many more Maidonians who would love to have a friendly, knowledgeable, local independent wine merchant, willing to deliver wines from a carefully curated list, i.e. me, to their door in Maidenhead. So, bring your friends, spread the Eat on the High Street word, and let’s get this town drinking great wine and food!
As for the wines open to taste? Well, what with the sunshine, I thought I’d bring you two of my best selling Spanish numbers, both perfect for barbecues… Valencian red, El Bon Homme (Monastrell, Cab Sauv blend) and fresh, white Rioja, Las Orcas Decenio Viura, come and taste! If you’d like something specific, let me know as there’s only so much stock I can bring or I’ll of course be taking orders for delivery next week. Can’t make it or want your wine in time for Friday wine o’clock? Order here for delivery or pop a later event in the diary (Plus, the next Eat On The High Street will be a Queen’s Birthday Street Party in Maidenhead, on 12th June).
p.s. I’m working on the ‘by the glass’ angle at EOTHS, of course I’ll top up the wine tasting thimble of any customer to go with lunch, particularly if you’ve read to the end of this blog post. 🙂
p.p.s The Fat Fox Burgers, Paneer wraps, Little Reds Pizza and Como en Casa’s Argentinian Empanadas all come highly recommended!
p.p.p.s If that’s not enough to get you in to town, EOTHS is a collaboration alongside Shabbytique Vintage Fair which will also be on the High Street on Sunday – oh, and of course, Maidenhead’s H&M opened this week!
If you’ve ever been to one of my pop-up wine stalls, you will be familiar with just how blue a person’s lips can turn. For some reason, the weather is generally against me and I stand bearing the freezing cold, gales (no snow so far) and rain, purely for the love of wine.
If you’ve never been to one of my pop-up wine stalls and you live local to Maidenhead, love wine or just fancy coming to poke fun at the nutter in the earmuffs selling wine outdoors, please do come and find me. The usual format is me talking a lot about wine, a boot load of wine boxes and several wines open to taste, all under the protective cover of my pop-up stall (or as one kindly customer sneered “Pop-up? It’s a tent!”).
My last outing was at Fernygrove Farm in Hawthorn Hill, between Maidenhead and Bracknell back on a particularly freezing cold April Saturday (yes, Perfect Friday Wine can be drunk on a Saturday, or any day of the week). This was a new wine pop-up location for Perfect Friday Wine with a cafe, florist, farm shop and butcher to boot and I saw many of my lovely, loyal customers up there as well as meeting new ones! I had a whole raft of wine open to taste and buy and had a great day – where there is other brilliant food, there is the desire for fabulous wine. Here’s a reminder of those on taste, all handpicked with springtime in mind. Casa Silva Pinot Noir Reserva: One of the best value Pinot Noirs I’ve come across, the Casa Silva Reserva from Chile is a delight of cherry fruits, delicious and a lighter for the spring. I hadn’t tasted this vintage (2014) since February myself and I was reminded as to just how fantastic a Pinot this is. I enjoyed the leftovers very much once I’d warmed up on the following Tuesday, when it was still drinking superbly.
Villa Blanche Grenache Rosè: Springtime sunshine marks rosè time! The delicate and delicious Villa Blanche Grenache is Languedoc in origin, Provençal in style, dry, pretty, peachy and great value. From the genius of Calmel and Joseph, this is just as good as their Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet and Syrah and went down a storm (likely because it was kept so blimin’ chilled) – definitely the WINE OF THE DAY.
Bluebell Vineyard Estates Blanc de Blancs 2011: It’s Bluebell season, so this award winning Sussex fizz seemed fitting to open. Interestingly, this has been in the press twice since, firstly on Olly Smith’s recommendation on The Daily Mail Online and then ‘Food Matcher’ Fiona Beckett stating what ‘good value’ it is on theguardian.com. As I continue my championing of English Wine, it’s good to see it, the sparkling in particular, getting a louder ‘voice’. This is a class or 5 above the cheap Prosecco that’s enjoyed so heartily in the UK – it’s Champagne method, Champagne grapes and excitingly, from our own fair shores – just don’t call it Champagne (Wine fact: did you know that Taittinger have bought land in Kent to begin planting vines? Even the French are on it).
Calmel and Joseph ‘Les Cuvèes Rare’ La Ruffe 2013: New to PFW this spring and lush, this saw its first outing back in March where I chilled myself (and the wine) to the bone at my Emmett’s Farm Pop-Up in Little Marlow. I must find a way to keep my reds warm enough so that by 2pm they’re not fridge cold. In the words of wine critic Tamlyn Currin, who rated La Ruffe a very high 17+ out of 20: “50% Carignan, 40% Syrah, 10% Cinsault. They didn’t want to pump the wine, so they had to carry it down with a pick-up truck. No filtration. Dark chocolate, peppermint, green herbs. Lots of black chocolate, lots of power, massive structure. Thick velvet-and-portcullis tannins with opulent fruit firmly behind bars at the moment, but it’s definitely there. Tightly bound. Very imposing. A sleeping dragon. Needs five to 10 years. Drink 2019-2026” Although I think it’s rather nice right now (agreed that it will only get better)! Full article on jancisrobinson.com.
So, there we have it. April’s Wine Pop-Up summarised. Where can you find me next? After a while away, I’ll be bringing wine back to Maidenhead High Street on Sunday 8th May, joining the new street food market Eat on the High Street alongside a whole gang of other local food producers. Keep posted on my events page or better still, sign up sign up to the Perfect Friday Wine Newsletter to keep up to date with my whereabouts over summer 2016 and beyond.
Part 1 and part 2 of this blog were written back in 2013 and its not until now, with anticipation much like the wait for Star Wars VII, that I write part 3.
So, to bring you up to speed, a few years ago I bought some wine in an auction. Not like a proper wine auction, just the local auction in Bourne End. Had I read to the bottom of the listings, I might have seen the lot for the Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau de Beaucastel and Bordeaux’s left bank Chateau Lagrange, but I got stuck higher up with Rioja from my birth year. Not so good, as you can read here, but it’s true, as I can confirm on this Easter Sunday, that you do indeed win some.
The last lot (that I won) sucked. As it happens, my husband was a little less hasty and read to the end of the lots and we have now have 2 bottles of 2001 Lagrange tucked away, plus this 1996 Chateau de Beaucastel, and all for the bargain price of about £30.
Since it’s Easter Sunday, the shoulder of lamb has been slow roasting since 11am and I’ve been given the green light to open something from the wine fridge, so here it is, open and drinking well.
What’s it like? It’s blackcurranty with an amazing acidity still, tannins are soft and there’s still body, although the fruit is light. Delicious and well balanced, definitely one to drink now and enjoy. Lucky me! Oh, and it’s fabulous with the lamb.
On more than one occasion, when introducing a Grüner Veltliner, I have been met with the response ‘come again’ or ‘Grüner what?’. I’m yet to have heard ‘gesundheit’, but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time, and although consistently complicated for folk to get their ears round, Grüner Veltliner is not a grape that has the same effect on their taste buds.
The Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Grüner Veltliner is one of those wines that makes an instant impression and got the ‘OMG’ reaction from me at first taste i.e. I taste a wine and find it significantly more exciting than I am anticipating it to be, causing me to spit (ever the professional) and exclaim exactly that, ‘OMG’. Each time I’ve popped it in to a tasting, it’s flown out the warehouse in subsequent customer orders and it’s a no brainer as to why. This is one fabulous wine. Not only does it look great, miles away from the boringly traditional Germanic/ Alpine labels often synonymous with wines from this part of the world, most importantly, it tastes delicious. It’s white, just to clarify, has a notable body to it but a really spritely acidity and bags of flavour, bringing the taste buds alive. There’s a level of florality to it, with lots of apple and a dash of typically-GV white pepper too.
Eschenhof Holzer is the wine maker, and at just 28 years old and five vintages in, when I consider what I was up to when I was 23, I am a little in awe of him, although he does have the benefit of having the bloodline of 3 generations of wine makers before him. Holzer tends to his 13 hectares of vines in the region of Wagram, alongside the River Danube between Vienna and the very steep, terraced and prestigious wine region of Wachau, where the finest Austrian wines hail from and Riesling reigns. Holzer’s wines are the perfect excellent example of how Wagram and the neighbouring areas of Kamptal, Traisental and Kremstal (Wachau’s no. 2) can produce some excellent quality and great value wines.
So if you’ve ever pooh-poohed the wines of Austria (and it doesn’t just stop at the Grüner, there are plenty of brilliant Rieslings as well as red wines) or fancy tasting something a little different to the usual Sauvignon Blanc, it’s time to change that perception and taste what you’ve been missing.
It’s happening. It’s taken a while, but more and more wine lovers are beginning to have heard of Languedoc-Roussillon’s Picpoul de Pinet. For every Pinot Grigio lover out there that I have introduced to Picpoul de Pinet, I cheer. I have reached my goal. One more wine drinker trying and loving something new. Each time someone says to me, ooh, I love Picpoul de Pinet, I am delighted that they have more than Prosecco or Marlborough Sauvignon in their wine repertoire. Fist pumps and High Fives all round.
Picpoul de Pinet is a curious name for a wine, non? It’s easy really – Picpoul’s the grape, Pinet is one of the Herault towns by which the vines grow. Flanked by the A9 main road between Montpellier and Beziers, and the Etang du Thau lagoon, the vineyards are situated on the flat, salty plains in close proximity to the French Mediterranean coast.
Picpoul in all its gloriousness, is a wine of simplicity. As often is the case, the wine was made to drink with the local food. Unsurprisingly, there is no lack of seafood and shellfish fresh from the local shores and lagoon itself in this part of the world – visitors to the region might be familiar with the picturesque port of Sete. Oysters and mussels this fresh need little preparation and anything more than a fresh, clean and simple white wine, such as the Picpoul de Pinet drunk alongside, would easily trample all over such delicate, natural and delicious flavours.
As I glance out of the window , I’m greeted by a damp and grey Spring afternoon in suburban Berkshire, a far cry from when I first tasted Picpoul de Pinet, sitting on the Grau de Roi quayside, basking in the evening sunlight with a chilled glass and a fresh-out-the-sea platter, although I don’t have a photo to insert <here>, I’ll keep that memory close in my thoughts until I can relive that moment even better, when I open that bottle of Picpoul de Pinet waiting for me in the fridge.
As the second trading year of Perfect Friday Wine draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on those top Perfect Friday Wine finds of 2015.
This year, to mention a few, plenty of new wines have made ‘the list’. From new countries, specifically, Portugal, Spain and Argentina, wines we thought should be red but also come in white, new regions, wine producers and grape varieties that we may not have heard of before.
As well as the newcomers to ‘the list’, there are also a few that haven’t yet made it to the PFW portfolio, but never forget that I’m always on the look out of ways to bring you great wine and that I don’t just list any old plonk. Every now and then, a wine will jump off the tasting bench at me. Sometimes, I am able to get that wine then and there, other times, it takes a little more work, and a little bit more time. What is sure though is that PFW has only just scratched the surface. There are many more countries, grape varieties and wine producers out there waiting for us to discover and enjoy – wine can never get boring from where I’m sat.
So as I wish you all a very Happy New Year, here’s a little selection of those TOP WINE FINDS of 2015 that DID make it to ‘the list’ (order your case here)… as for those that didn’t (yet), watch this space and may 2016 be full of many more fabulous wines!
1) Clip Loureiro Vinho Verde 2014 £10.50
Added to ‘the list’ as a reaction to ‘Picpoul de Pinet-gate’, when, shock horror, the Villa Blanche Picpoul vintage ran out. Instead of replacing with a sub-standard Picpoul, I thought I’d give you something a bit different, like this Loureiro* from Minho in Portugal. A true star addition , which is deliciously light and minerally with an intriguingly refreshing spritz. Great with shellfish and here to stay.
2) Las Orcas, Decenio Rioja Blanco 2014 £10.75
I’ve always avoided still wines made from Macabeo* (one of the Cava grapes), but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turns out that Macabeo is otherwise known as Viura*, which is often the variety found in white Rioja. This quickly became my best selling white of the summer due to the crunch of crisp green apple and zesty grip. It also comes from one of my favourite spots in the heart of Spain‘s Rioja, from 80 year old vineyards surrounding the tiny rocky outcrop of the village La Guardia. Yummy with pork and tapas.
3)Porvenir Laborum Torrontes 2012 £16
Ooh, this was a ‘will they or won’t they like it’ wine for me. I’ve been on the hunt for a decent Torrontes* for a while and wanted to show you a really excellent version, not one of the cheaper, more dilute versions, but a top drawer number – and I did it! Introduced at the October Tasting, it was a resounding success, loved by red wine drinking chaps and white wine loving lasses across the board! From the ‘best’ area in Argentina for Torrontes, the Cafayate Valley in Salta Province, the colour is almost green, the body is extrordinary and the concentrated floral, pineapple & spice flavours are balanced perfectly, resulting in a big bang effect in the mouth, perfect with scallops and creamy chicken dishes.
1) Rafael Cambra El Bonne Homme 2013 £10.50
Subject to a bit of an argument at the March Norden Farm Spanish and Portugal Tasting as to which was best; was it the Bonne Homme from Valencia or the Carchelo from Jumilla – both similar Monastrell/ Cab Sauv* blends from neighbouring regions in the South East of Spain. The big and in your face Valencian seems to have taken the edge (although I think there’s room for both, the Carchelo being that little more refined). Deep cocoa, smoke, leather, buckets of blackberry, cherry and tannin, great with paella and v good value.
2) Alvaro Castro Dao Tinto 2011 £13.25 One of those mid-taste moments where I look up from my tasting notes into the eyes of the wine maker, spit and exclaim an exagerrated “O-M-G”!! My naive expectation of this one was a big, blockbusting red in the Douro style – nope, not a hint. This is a refined, elegant, cool and collected red – much like the very talented and lady wine maker Maria Castro. Made from native Portuguese grapes Touriga-Nacional, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and Alfrocheiro*, this wine is medium bodied, different and fabulous – fresh with savoury fruits and soft tannins – one for you Pinot Noir fans.
3) Emilio Valerio Laderas de Montejurra 2012 £12.50
Ooh, splendid. This Garnacha, Merlot, Cab Sauv* blend from Rioja’s neighbour Navarra in Spain (think Pamplona country), earned me the testamonial “Thanks for offering us some really interesting wines, that nobody in the world of supermarkets or wine merchants appear to want to do….Well done you!” . One of Mr PFW’s favourites and jolly nice with lots of fruity blackberries and blackcurrant and eucalyptus. A great example of what they’re doing next door to those more famous regions. Great value, organically made, well balanced and fabulous with game.
…and without further ado, I sign out for 2015 – thank you for your continued support this year. Watch this space for new exciting wines in 2016!
Fancy trying a mixed case of the Top Wine Finds 2015 for yourself? All of the wines mentioned above will be available from 6th January, giving the wine trade a chance to awaken. Order your Top Wine Finds 2015 case here.
At risk of appearing just like my kids, rifling through the Argos catalogue, cutting out the photos of plastic toys and sticking them on to a crumpled piece of paper covered in Pritt Stick a.k.a their Christmas lists, I was wondering if you might accept the following requests of my own …you know, ‘if” you were thinking about buying me any wine gifts this Christmas… after all, I’ve been a good girl this year.
As a fellow Business Girl, if you’ve been wondering what my wines are like for a while and fancy trying something new, why not take advantage of this special MBG offer this Christmas. I have chosen each and every one of the wines on the wine list, many from small producers or lesser known grape varieties or regions, and only the best tasting, best value make the final cut.
Order one of the following delicious Business Girls Mini-Cases and you’ll be saving more than 5% off the bottle price. A fabulous way to sample some of my fabulous wines and reward yourself for a hard year of self-employment! If you fancy a look at my full Christmas offerings, see here.
Orders can be collected from my open morning at A4 Self Store on St Peters Road (SL6 7QU) by arrangement between 10 and noon on Saturday 19th December or on one of my delivery rounds.
Starting Out: £25 (usually £27, over 7% saving)
Legaris Verdejo 2014, Rueda, Spain. Medium bodied, fresh nectarine and lime with a crisp acidity. (Green Thai Curry or any spicy food) WHITE
MBG Taster offer available 1 per customer. No other discount applied. See other pre-selected mixed cases here and full wine list available here if you’d like to pick from the full list. Usual 5% case discount is on orders of 6 bottles or more for delivery within 7 miles of Maidenhead. Please see Ts and Cs for usual delivery area, costs and payment terms and conditions.
I’ve just about caught up after all the excitement from this year’s Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Customer Wine Tasting that took place on Saturday 10th October. Attracting almost 80 wine lovers from the locality in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, many from my main stomping ground of Maidenhead, the tasting was held at the historic Assembly Room in Marlow. Not only the perfect venue with high ceilings and large, period windows offering the best view down Marlow High Street, many of my guests, as do I, fondly remember the venue as upstairs at The Crown pub, back in the days when we were more likely to be drinking Hooch rather than fine wine .
One of my favourite things about owning Perfect Friday Wine is introducing people to fabulous, well priced wines from grapes or regions they may not have come across previously, and this event, just like last year’s at Stanlake Park, gave me the opportunity to show off almost all of the wines I’ve chosen for the PFW portfolio under one roof, without a gazebo or fingerless glove in sight.
Judging by the happy smiling faces of the tasters – many making the most of babysitters and tagging lunch or dinner on either end, everyone enjoyed themselves. I love arranging these tastings for all to enjoy and it was great to see such a great crowd having the chance to discover new wines at a tasting of this format outside of London. Guests ranged from serious wine lovers taking thorough tasting notes to groups of friends enjoying an afternoon away from the kids. Considering all this and that I’ve spent the days since on the less glamorous duties of unloading pallets of wine and delivering wine for folk to enjoy in the comfort of their own home, when asked ‘how did it go?’, I’d say, yes, a resounding success.
So now that I’ve got the important bit of delivering the vast majority of the post-event orders, I’d like to say a BIG thank you to everybody who helped on the day and to all of those who came along to taste – without whom, the event would not have been possible.
If you couldn’t make it or needed your memory jogged, we tasted wines from over 9 importers and English vineyards, spanning 7 countries, the majority from France, England, South America, Spain and Portugal; most poured by representatives from each of those importers. Many guests took the opportunity to taste new wines from Argentina, with the highly concentrated and limey Povenir Laborum Torrontes causing much excitement, as did the luxurious Malbec blend ‘Pleno’ from Tempus Alba.
Most excitingly, we were privileged enough to welcome wine maker Kevin Sutherland from Bluebell Vineyard Estates, travelling all the way from rural East Sussex, mid-harvest, to pour his excellent English Sparkling wines, with the Blancs de Blancs going down a storm.
We also welcomed new wines from Spain and Portugal, the newly introduced Legaris Verdejo proving to be popular, alongside the refreshing and spritzy Clip Loureiro Vinho Verde (my current Picpoul de Pinet replacement). Legaris’ reds also shone with one of my favourite wines, their Ribera Del Duero Reserva winning admirers, alongside fellow Spaniard, one of my current bestsellers, El Bonne Homme from Valencia. Port lovers were also catered for this year with both a traditionally made Tawny and LBV Port from family producer Vieira de Sousa available to try, proving very popular with one gorgeous bunch of Finnish ladies who left as Port converts.
Alongside the popular Calmel and Joseph reds from Languedoc and classic northern french favourites, were the fabulous Casa Silva’s Chilean wines proving as crowd-pleasing as always with the elegant Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc and the Gran Terroir Syrah going down a treat.
If you were wondering which wines were the favourite of the day, I’ve put together some ‘Tasting Cases‘ of those most popular wines. That way, if you needed a reminder of the fabulous wines you tasted or feel like you missed out, order a case (tasting notes included) and enjoy at home.
My thanks also extends to the current owner of The Assembly Room, who I’ve teamed up with several times this year to run Wine Tasting Dinners as well as this tasting. Sadly, for me, Sarah is leaving the venue to focus on her wedding and event catering business Feast, but I hope to continue working with Sarah and on the event side, will team up with new venues to continue to bring you more pop-up tasting rooms for the new year. You don’t of course need to wait that long to taste more great wines, order your tasting case today for local home delivery or sign up to the PFW newsletter at the bottom of the page to keep up to date with upcoming events between now and Christmas!