Category Archives: Grape Varieties

Muscadet; it’s all the rage, don’t you know?

I wrote an article today on autumnal wines. It was 30 degrees and sweltering outside. Yesterday, I saw a photo of Phillip Schofield on Instagram or Twitter, I forget which, sitting, wearing a Christmas jumper, in front of a full Christmas spread, crackers and all. Let’s just say, my job of ‘getting in the mood’ was probably a little easier than Phil’s.

My Dorset tipple, all that was missing were the fresh mackerel!

My Dorset tipple, all that was missing were the fresh mackerel!

So while I wrote about enjoying a game pie alongside a big, earthy red, all that was really on my mind, and has been most sunny days this summer, is a big cold glass of deliciously refreshing Muscadet. Yep, that’s right folks, good old Muscadet – it’s all the rage, don’t you know and coming back with a vengeance.

To be honest, I don’t really get why it went out of style in the first place. It doesn’t have an offensive bone in its (light) body. It’s crisp, dry, unoaked with a delightful crunch of lemon sherbert fizz. Classically paired with Oysters and seafood, it’s inexpensive and up there with the Picpoul de Pinets and Albarinos of the wine world.

So this summer, I have mainly been drinking, Domaine de la Noe Muscadet Sevre et Maine ‘Sur Lie’ and at under £9, it’s an absolute wine of value. I suppose there in answers the question as to why Muscadet lost its edge. That there isn’t a very snappy, nor sexy title, and I guess once the new world started slapping grape varieties on the labels, the mystery of Muscadet became a bit too much and it disappeared into the vat of complicated French wine labels as we all began to drink overoaked Chardonnay.

Domaine de la Noe MuscadetI will therefore enlighten you about all you need to know about Muscadet and why it should never have been sidelined. First off, it’s from the Loire Valley in France, right out on the western seaboard nearby to Nantes. It’s made from the grape ‘Melon de Bourgogne’, if you’ve ever heard of it, it’s relatively low in alcohol and the better examples, such as this one, state the ‘sur lie’ on the label. This means that the wine has been left to develop for a while on the sediment (dead yeast cells known as ‘lees’ or ‘lie’) that are part of the fallout of fermentation (the other bit being the alcohol), thus giving the wine a little more body and depth, with a creamier, nuttier flavour. Also, importantly, Muscadet is dry, as dry as a bone, and doesn’t have anything to do with the grape variety Muscat, which is synonymous with sweet wine. Lastly, Muscadet is an absolute bargain, so give it a go!

Any other questions? I guess you’ll want to taste it? Lucky for you, I’ll have it open at Emmett’s Farm Shop on Saturday 24th September and of course, the Autumn Wine Tasting on 8th October, so come along and rediscover the retro fabulousness that is Muscadet. Continue reading

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Filed under France, Grape Varieties, Seasonal

Introducing Austrian Holzer Wagram Grüner Veltliner

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.

Holzer Wagram Gruner Veltliner

Holzer Wagram Gruner Veltliner

If you’re local to Marlow and Maidenhead and would like to taste what all the Grüner Veltliner fuss is about, come and see me on the 19th March outside Emmett’s Farm Shop for a taste of the Eschenhof Holzer Wagram Grüner, as featured in my Spring Wine Case, or drop me an order for local wine delivery!

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Filed under Austria, Eating/ Drinking In, Grape Varieties, Maidenhead, Uncategorized

I Love Picpoul de Pinet

Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet

Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet.

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!

 

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Eating/ Drinking Out, France, Grape Varieties, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Travel

Top Wine Finds 2015

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.

ORDER A TOP WINE FINDS 2015 CASE HERE!

Click photo to ORDER your TOP WINE FINDS 2015 CASE!

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!

THE WHITES

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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.

THE REDS

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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.

*Grape Variety

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Filed under Grape Varieties, Maidenhead, Portugal, South America, Spain

Food and Wine Pairing: Crumbed Pork and Catalonian Carignan

Crumbed Pork Medallions and Catalonian Cariñena (Carignan from Montsant DO).

Of course, food and wine matching isn’t the be all and end all of culinary enjoyment (a non-red wine drinking friend of mine takes her steak with Sauvignon Blanc, and why not!),  I know how my readers like a good food and wine pairing, so, rather than me suggest vague food to go with the Perfect Friday Wines, I thought I’d spin it around a bit and match my wines to go with some proper recipes.

Although my Spaghetti Bolognese recipe obviously rocks the house, I thought you might like something a bit more exciting than that – plus, the next post, where I make the leftovers into a lasagne, might become a bit samey. Then, I felt a bit mainstream using one of my trusty Jamie Oliver recipes and a bit boring sharing something that I’ve picked up on BBCGoodFood.com, so I thought I’d ask someone who knows what they’re doing to help out.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve met and got to know many interesting local business folk around and about the Maidenhead area – who’d have thought we’d have so many of them! One of the most relevant to my line of work, being THE official food blogger for the Maidenhead Advertiser, Cookham based, Lara Cory (a celebrity!!). Lara also writes her own blog at Feeding Time Blog, and I thought we’d make the perfect pairing, Lara’s summed up both of our passion for eating, drinking and sharing, very well:

We love food and we love wine and we’re going to help you enjoy the best of both.” 

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Lara not only accepted my challenge for a seasonal produce recipe that I could perhaps tie in with English Wine Week, but much to my delight, I shortly got a call from Lara somewhere deep in the Berkshire countryside, sourcing some local free range pork from a nearby Farm Shop (Ferny Grove Farm, which I must visit myself!) – the girl means business!

The next thing I know, quicker than I can prepare a cheese board, Lara’s been in the kitchen and come up with this very delicious recipe for Sage Crumbed Pork Medallions.

Now, originally, I’d had that pork lined up for an English Bacchus,  but the mere suggestion of sage, herbaciousness and ‘spring-like’, 11196221_435271559967974_5154378016674714301_nlead me to mentally open and pour myself a glass of the Cellar El Masroig Sola Fred Tinto, in the time it takes me to unwrap a slab of Manchego.

So why the Sola Fred? Well, not only is it one of my favourite sub-£10 wines at the moment (I am LOVING Spanish wines at the mo), but it is savoury and fresh and fruity (think red cherries), with some bright acidity – spot on with pork. Generally where Pork is concerned, I really like an appley, structured white (Pouilly Fume is my ultimate pork white) or a tasty red that’s not too heavy, so a Pinot Noir or a Carignan are perfect. It was the herbs though that lead me to the Sola Fred, pulling me towards a red wine over white and something more savoury than the Casa Silva Pinot Noir or the Calmel and Joseph Vieux Carignan. There’s also the fact that of course, the spaniards are pork mad, so this softly tannic Carignan (Cariñena or Mazuelo in Spanish) with a splash of juicy Garnacha from Catalonia’s Montsant is bang on. If you haven’t tried it yet and you’re a wine drinker looking for a good deal, I urge you to try (or order as part of a pre-selected mixed case). Montsant is bang smack next to, infact it surrounds, Priorat, famous for producing some of Spain’s best and most illustrious wines. Although the soil is a tad different in Montsant (Priorat has this unique slatey soil called Llicorella) and the climate is evers0-marginally cooler, the yields are still low and the quality of the wines, made from the same grape varieties, remains high, with the added benefit of being a little easier to drink young.

We hope you have a slap up feast between these two! For more food and wine pairings from us Maidenhead duo, you can follow Lara on Twitter @feedingtimeblog (and me, @perfectfriwine) or sign up to receive notifications of either blog. Are there any of your favourite recipes that you’d like wine matched? Or perhaps Lara can recommend a recipe for one of your favourite wines? Just, let us know, we love a challenge!

 

 

 

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Grape Varieties, Seasonal, Spain, Wine and Food Pairing

Sherry in a nutshell

I wanted to share my exploits this week with Sherry. Foolishly, a couple of months back, I voiced to the person in charge of the monthly wine tasting group that I attend, that a Sherry tasting would be interesting. I was then, quick as a flash, delegated the task in hand and I have therefore spent a whole lot of time over the last couple of week’s preparing a sherry tasting for the group.

Have I ever been to Jerez? No. Do I drink a lot of sherry? No. Did I truly realise just how complicated the wine making process of Sherry is? No. I thought that it was all about the solera and then it ended there……..boy am I naive.

Anyhow, I spent a few hours (days) researching, finding a selection of wines that covered most of the styles and came up with a useful enough, factual tasting to present to the group and luckily there were some more initiated members who could fill in the gaps for me.

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Filed under Grape Varieties, Sherry, Spain, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Red wine for those who prefer white.

I may be being over optimistic, but is that Spring that I sense in the air? The sun, yes, that’s right folks, the sun is shining – well, it was 5 minutes ago. What is more, there isn’t a gale force wind blowing,  threatening to snap my shooting daffodils off before they’ve even bloomed. This could all change before the weekend of course as I’ll be back on my stall on Maidenhead Produce Market, so expect snow or a mini-typhoon on Saturday, just to keep me on my toes.

Although the budding trees suggest that we’re moving out of red wine season into white, and dare I mention it in February, rosé, I’ve had a reoccurring question asked of me of late by white wine drinkers who would like to dabble in a bit of red but aren’t sure where to start. To ease you in gently, my recommendation would be to find something young and fruity with low tannin* and little to no oak; tackling a Gran Reserva Rioja or Australian Barossa at this stage would be ill advised.

The obvious suggestion would be to try a light and fruity Gamay from one of the Beaujolais Villages such as Fleurie or Brouilly, or a Pinot Noir, but let me introduce those of you that are new to red, and anyone else looking for an easy-going red, to Languedoc’s very own soft and supple Carignan. Continue reading

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, France, Grape Varieties, Uncategorized

Valentine’s Dinner Wine Matching

I can’t actually pin point the last year that I dined out on Valentine’s Day. I do recall a distant Valentine’s memory, once upon a time, of being squeezed into a restaurant, approximately 6 inches from the couple on the next table for a pretty ordinary set meal at a pretty extraordinary price. It felt forced, unromantic and a rip-off, resulting in my vow to never ever eat out on Valentine’s night again.

That’s not to say that Valentine’s Day goes unnoticed in our household. It’s actually a good excuse to close the laptop, leave the TV off and have a date-night in, with a decent bottle of wine or two and a meal to match. Back in the old days, before life got that little bit more hectic, these evenings weren’t so few and far between, we certainly didn’t need a prompt such as Valentine’s Day for us to actually sit down at the table, eat together and have a real conversation.

bluebellroseWe’re now almost dependent on occasions such as Valentine’s, anniversarys, and birthdays to remind us that romance isn’t dead but are total creatures of habit in that whenever we do have a date night, in comes the ribeye steak and big red wine. We go wild where the starter and pudding are concerned and vary these according to our mood. This Valentine’s however, (look away now Husband) we’ll be having smoked salmon of some description to start and most likely cheesecake, inspired by one of my ex-rowing friends who’s in the midst of a cheesecake baking frenzy, to finish after our steak. So my own Valentine’s wine-inspired date-night in is going to look a little something like this, with no need to stray from my own PFW wine list: Continue reading

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, English Wine, France, Grape Varieties, Sparkling, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing

Mince pies and wine

This is the first year where my daughter seems to have truly grasped the concept of Christmas. She was telling me yesterday how Santa needs to have mince pies and milk left out for him. I’m pretty sure this information hasn’t come from memory, since a year is a long time when it’s more than a quarter of your life. I’m also certain that this advice didn’t come from me, let’s face it, there’s no chance that I’d be suggesting milk as Santa’s ‘one for the road’.

Which brings me on nicely to what exactly would Santa be choosing to wash down his mince pies? Apart from the more traditional suggestions that might spring to mind, such as sherry or port, I’d think that Santa would be looking for something warming and spicy with a touch of sweetness. My Calmel and Joseph Corbieres would certainly do the trick, but it’s a different kind of wine that I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while, partly due to one of my other half’s old rowing buddies obsession with the Italian wine Amarone, but also since I’ve encountered a couple of wines this year that have been made in the same way, resulting in a style of wine which would be the perfect accompaniment to mince pies, chocolate cake and Christmas pudding alike, as well as dark and meaty wintery dinners.

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Grape Varieties, Italy, Seasonal, South Africa, South America, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing

Flash Recommendation: Juan Gil 4 Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain

Juan Gil 4

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.

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Eating/ Drinking Out, Flash Recommendation, Grape Varieties, Spain, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing