Three days of gourmet food, cracking music and lush vibes you say?
Like the best pub garden maybe EVER? And not just gourmet food, but a whole festival of Michelin-starred gourmet food?
Well I’m in. I’m not sure there could be anything more up my alley.
With much anticipation, the biggest and best ever Wine Tasting Event in Maidenhead, certainly to my knowledge, is happening this coming Saturday afternoon.
Yes, from 1.30pm until 5pm on Saturday 8th October 2016, The Council Chamber in Maidenhead’s Town Hall will be transformed into a tasting room filled with around 80 wine loving folk from the locality, enjoying over 40 wines from 7 countries around the world. Guests are welcome to arrive at any time during the afternoon since the format is very relaxed and of walk around format. Last pour will be at 5pm.
Correction: Entry to the event is via the MAIN door at the front of the Town Hall on St Ives Road.
Download the Wine List Brochure for the Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting 2016 now.
I remember sitting in the Two Brewers in Windsor once when I was pregnant with an equally pregnant friend, where we sat and nursed two lime and sodas for an entire evening. Don’t pity the landlord too much for our table hogging, as I’ve spent many a hard-earned £ over the years, pre and post-natal, in my favourite ‘no child zone’, on pints of Guinness, bottles of Champagne ‘because it’s better value than a bottle of white’ and dining (their Petit Chablis and Carignan are both worth a tipple btw). Plus, it was nothing more than enforced abstinence and I shared the soft drink consumption around the county, fair and square.
In fact, I found liquid intake during pregnancy terribly boring since I often joke that unless a drink contains alcohol or caffeine, then it’s not for me – obviously a little limited when ‘with child’. Water is the exception, or course, but it doesn’t go down well at a cafe or bar when you rock up and ask for a glass of tap water to sip whilst taking up space for hours. This concept also transfers to brandishing a laptop and working for an hour on the wifi, after all, there’s no such thing as free wifi.
If you follow my Instagram account, you may notice that my second liquid pleasure in life, after the grape or grain and before wine o’clock, is coffee. Not just any old coffee, but proper coffee. Since too much coffee incidentally sends me a bit loopy, I’m a strict one-cup-a-day kinda girl, so every cup has to be the real deal, or there’s no point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert (I’d like to know more), but it’s not hard to taste the difference between Instant (a big fat decline), the stuff they serve in Costa or Starbucks (I will accept if need be) or proper, tasty coffee (yes please).
It has therefore become a decadent habit of mine, as a worker from home, that when I need a change of scenery or when I’m out and about on deliveries or need a spot of inspiration, I’ll seek out the delights of a local cafe with wifi and a decent roast (coffee bean, not Sunday), to work from.
My favourite spot local to Maidenhead for coffee? I’m open to suggestion, but Coopers Trading in Marlow HAS to win top award for coffee, atmosphere and best dog (great wine list too). Stubbings does a decent flat white and the cakes are very tempting, very popular with MIYP (Mums-in-yoga-pants) and today I thoroughly enjoyed a new-one-on-me-for-coffee, nostalgic, straight black coffee in the sunshine outside The Firestation in Windsor. So if you enjoy a spot of latte art as well as a decent glass of wine, pop over to my Instagram account and follow and let me know where else I should try for the best cup of coffee in Berkshire (or Bucks)!
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.
If you’re yet to taste the delights of Picpoul de Pinet and are local to Marlow and Maidenhead, come and see me on the 19th March outside Emmett’s Farm Shop for a taste of the Villa Blanche Picpoul as featured in my Spring Wine Case, or drop me an order for local wine delivery! If you love it already, I’d love to hear where you first tasted it!
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!
I’ve been working with my first supper club ‘Pop-up Dinner Reading’ to help the ladies behind the cooking, Laura and Anu to enrich their guests’ culinary experience even further by recommending and providing the perfect wines to pair with their delicious tasting menus.
What: Juan Gil 4 Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain
Where Out: Chateau Marmot, Temporary Dining, Anywhere, UK, One glass of the 5 glass £27 wine flight
Where In: Old Butchers Wine Cellar, Berkshire, around £10
Occasion: Tonight, #winewednesday, ‘In’, after a busy and increasingly stressful day in the office. Previously, ‘Out’, at my first pop-up restaurant (see my Chateau Marmot post here – I told you I’d buy it again!).
Food match: Tonight, nothing to note, but this is a big, fruity and tannic wine, so may I suggest something big and beefy, such as those delicious ribs mentioned in my previous post or perfect for steak.
Conclusion: Deep, dark and tannic. Lovely smooth and rounded blackberry fruit.
Bonus point: To counterbalance the jet-lag of the clocks changing back to GMT, and the resulting draggingly long colder days and dark evenings; my mid-week saviour! Happy Hallowe’en!
Added 15-09-2016: Also try, Rafael Cambra El Bon Homme, a Monastrell/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Valencia or Calmel and Joseph Terrasses du Larzac, a classic Grenache, Syrah Mourvedre blend from Languedoc in France.
No, it’s not a typo. I haven’t been living it up in L.A. at the iconic Chateau Marmont with Harry Styles and RPatz (think very exclusive, no way would they let me in anyway, celeb hang out). In fact, I haven’t even left the home counties to experience the next best thing for a respectable mother in her
mid-thirties; a pop-up restaurant. Continue reading “Saturday night at Chateau Marmot”
What: Deutz Brut Classic Champagne
Where Out: The Hind’s Head, Bray, Berkshire £12 125ml glass/ £51 a bottle
Where In: Alfred the Grape, Marlow, Bucks, £35.99
Occasion: ‘Out’ for my birthday back in July, ‘In’ for Mr. PFW’s birthday last week.
Food match: Drank as an appetiser both times but it went very well with Monday’s poppadums!
Conclusion: A beautiful golden colour with a fresh dryness and crisp butteriness on the palate. An excellent non-vintage choice which made a nice change from the usual Moet or Perriet Jouet.
Bonus point: That The Hind’s Head really hasn’t changed much over the years since Heston Blumenthal has owned it. Unlike other local gastro pubs, you really can still pop in for a pint and not feel like you shouldn’t be there (I didn’t notice whether there were any crisps behind the bar). Plus my favourite Ribeye with bone marrow is still on the menu all this time on.
My very first interest in learning more about wine started during an English Wine Producers‘ tasting at the Great British Cheese Festival around 10 years ago. The realisation that there could be a future in producing wine made from grapes grown in this country, ignited a real excitement in me that wine had failed to do in the past and it’s what prompted me to apply to complete my WSET courses. A far from romantic affair, run in an old science lab at Bracknell and Wokingham College, both my Intermediate and Advanced courses delivered an anti-climatic one page, 10 minute passing over of wine from England and Wales amongst the intrigue of the rest of the world’s wines.
To distract me further, all thoughts of English wine were then buried under piles of laundry and dirty nappies. Until that is, my interest was reignited in the form of a bottle of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee produced to celebrate my birthday last summer.
Since then, my English wine nerdiness has spiralled, the pinnacle of which saw me presenting an English wine tasting, so, imagine my delight when an invitation to ‘An Evening with Nyetimber‘ came my way! Not just a Nyetimber tasting, but a wine and dinner pairing at the one and only The Vineyard at Stockcross, the 5-star boutique hotel, spa and restaurant between Hungerford and Newbury. Cue much jubilation and clicking of heels (if I could click my heels, but that’s a whole other story) and off I drove into the sunset last Sunday night with the wind in my hair and the promise of a first class dinner and watering . Continue reading “Nyetimber and The Vineyard at Stockcross”