Category Archives: Maidenhead

Autumn Wine Tasting 2015: The Assembly Room, Marlow

PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(124)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 .

PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(40)

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.

PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(35) PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(88) PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(16)

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.

PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(106) PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(89) PerfectFridayWineMarlowOct2015(97)

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!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Eating/ Drinking Out, Home Counties, Maidenhead, Wine Tasting

Harvest at an English Vineyard

Whereas I just left the sunny Languedoc in full swing, with the majority of their harvest safely in tanks, things are only just starting to get going in the UK on the grape harvest for the 2015 wine vintage.

Grapes need a whole lot of sunshine hours to ripen, and although the UK days are long, as you’ll know, the sunshine can be a little minimal. In the hot and dry regions of the world, grapes have no problem ripening, but in cooler climates like the UK, we’re reliant on a long growing season to maximise the grape ripeness to develop the sugars and flavours in the grape to produce enough alcohol. A long, warm September like we’re experiencing definitely helps to ripen off the grapes and vineyards around the South East of England are now beginning to plan their 2015 harvest.

If fancy getting involved with harvesting at a vineyard, look no further to many of the vineyards here in the UK who are on the look out for volunteers or others selling tickets for those less green fingered amongst you who fancy more of an ‘experience’. Of the 400+ vineyards in the UK, there’s loads of harvesting opportunity to be had, but here are a handful of the ones that I’m familiar with in the South East, all producing excellent wine and guaranteed to show you a great day out however hard you fancy working;

Photo of TIm singlehandedly brining in the 2014 harevest (stolen blatantly from Chafor's Facebook.com/chaforwine page)

Tim singlehandedly bringing in the 2014 harvest (Photo credit: Guy Adams from Chafor’s Facebook.com/chaforwine page)

Chafor Wine Estate,  Gawcott, Buckinghamshire, MK18 4HT

Be part of the CHAFOR Grand Harvest 2015 on 17th and/ or 18th October. Tim Chafor heads up this family owned vineyard set in the midst of the Buckinghamshire countryside, not far from Oxford and Milton Keynes. Their first release of still wines was their 2013 vintage, featuring award winning Bacchus, Chardonnay and Rosé, their sparkling wine is yet to be released.

Perks include lunch (FYI, Tim has a pizza oven and does jolly fine pizzas!), wine to take home and a VIP invitation to the Grand Harvest Supper.

Book your place now: info@chafor.co.uk or call Tim on: 07973 892427

11412054_459081937586936_539576998104920042_o

One of the hottest days this summer in the vineyard back in early July.

Oaken Grove Vineyard, Fawley, Henley-on-Thames, Buckinghamshire (just over the Oxfordshire border).

We helped owner, Phil Rossi, with his bountiful harvest on a beautiful sunny, autumnal day last year, picking his Bacchus grapes. I say we, because it was a family affair and the kids came too and were surprisingly, not too annoying. This year, he hopes that harvesting will start on 17th October for the Bacchus and the following weekend for the Pinot Noir, so drop him a Facebook message or email to get involved. He’ll also be at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October, if you wanted to have a chat before you sign up! [You can buy Oaken Grove Benham Blush here]

Last year, we were fed a well earned hog roast with all the trimmings, tasted newly released wines and got sent home with a bottle. A fabulous day to spend one of those last days of summer around Henley.

10639675_333835580111573_2718913205103277350_n

Boutique wines at their finest at Dropmore Vineyard, just to the north of Burnham, Bucks.

Dropmore Vineyard, Littleworth Common, Buckinghamshire, SL1 8NF

Perhaps Maidenhead’s closest vineyard, the Dropmore harvest is a real family affair. With just 3 acres of vines, this is as boutique as they come and the delicious Bacchus White and Pinot Blush have both won awards. Owned by John Petersen, drop him a line if you fancy lending a helping hand. Harvest starts on 11th October and will continue throughout October. Word on the street has it that Dropmore offer the best harvest catering going! [You can buy Dropmore Vineyard Bacchus here]

John will also be at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October, so he can check you out before he lets you near the vines!

Pinot Noir grapes in stage of 'veraison' (colour change) earlier in the summer at Bluebell.

Pinot Noir grapes in stage of ‘veraison’ (colour change) earlier in the summer at Bluebell.

Bluebell Vineyard Estates, Furners Green, East Sussex, TN22 3RU

More of an experience than a horticultural work out, Bluebell are hosting a day in the vines on Saturday 17th October, 10-3pm. Spend the morning hand-harvesting grapes followed by a delicious lunch overlooking the vineyard, then a tutored tasting of their fabulous sparkling wines, made onsite, led by wine maker Kevin Sutherland. Also, taste the grape juice, fresh off the press (which, is sooooo tasty and described to me as ‘the nectar’ by one Saint-Chinian vineyard worker). [You can buy Bluebell Vineyard Estates Brut Rosé and Seyval Blanc here]

Call 01825 791561 or email wineinfo@bluebellvineyard.co.uk to book your tickets at £40 per head (well worth it for being wined and dined in such a beautiful setting). Or come and meet Bluebell Vineyard at the Perfect Friday Wine Tasting afternoon in Marlow on 10th October.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under English Wine, Home Counties, Maidenhead, Seasonal, Seyval Blanc, Sparkling, Wine Tasting, Wine Travel

Christmas Lunch Food and Wine Pairings

nat_lampThroughout the year, as the seasons change, I am always asked about which wines to drink with different food. As well as pairing the normal summer BBQ and that date-night steak, this year I’ve also been asked to match wine with Israeli food, Catalonian fare and even with a Sri Lankan feast – my tummy rumbles with just the thought.

Christmas time is of course no exception, and I know it’s only mid-November, but I’ve been asked what would be a good bet to pair with a traditional Christmas Lunch since the beginning of October.

Here in the PFW household, we alternate who we impose on for Christmas Day each year across 3 sets of family, and although the wine drinking requirements differ at each home, the feast before us is always glorious and never just stops at the Turkey, as I hope is the same in most homes.

Because of this, it’s not just the turkey that you need to think of when pairing the Christmas lunch with wine. Think of the cranberry sauce, the pigs in blankets, herby stuffing, the sprouts (yuck) and array of roasted root vegetables.

Let’s start with the white. You need something with a bit of cojones or the wine will be lost against all those rich flavours. Look for a wine with a bit of body, a zing of acidity that isn’t overly fruity or herbaceous. A Pinot Grigio is going to fall flat here and the boldness of ‘that’ grass in a NZ Sauvignon will clash.

Viogner_ReservaMaking a comeback, I’d recommend finding something with a little oak and here at PFW, I’ve done the work for you. No, no, I’m not suggesting an over-oaked Aussie Chardonnay, don’t worry, we’ll leave that back in the nineties, but a wine that’s developed some lovely buttery and creamy roundness yet still has that lifted finish that will cut through the heaviness of the meal:

Casa Silva Viognier Reserva 2013 (Colchagua Valley, Chile) 10% of this wine has sat in an oak barrel for 3 months giving an ever-so-subtle smokiness and lively roundness to the palate. Dry with nectarine, honeysuckle and a perky acidity that you’ll welcome against the gungiest of bread sauce. Fabulous value.

ravieresDomaine Sallet Macon-Villages Uchizy ‘Clos des Ravieres’ 2011 (Macon, Burgundy, France). Elegant and luxurious with subtle vanilla and citrus, this is bright and creamy, as you’d expect from a lightly oaked white Burgundy. Such a treat, but if I still can’t convince you of the benefits of oak, the unoaked Chateau Vitallis Macon-Villages Fuisse  (from declassified Pouilly Fuisse grapes) makes a fabulous alternative – think Chablis with a shade more body.

And on to the reds. What we’re looking for here is something not too tannic or overly woody, with a medium body and acidity. Anything too heavy is going to overpower, anything too light will be blown away, so I’d suggest a juicy and glorious Grenache.

Grenache’s most famous home is undoubtedly the Southern Rhone Valley, where there are various tiers of wine quality, from your cheap and cheerful ‘Cotes du Rhone’, all the way up to the ‘Cru Villages’, Chateauneuf-du-Pape being perhaps the most reknowned. Despite there being allowed 13 different grape varieties in Chateauneuf, the most classic Southern Rhone blend is predominantly Grenache, with Syrah and Mourvedre. Look a little way to the West, and we see a throng of Grenache vines also in Languedoc-Roussillon, producing some stonking wines blended mainly with Syrah, Carignan, Cinsault and Mourvedre.

pradasAgain, I’ve already sought out the perfect match – make sure you avoid anything too Mourvedre heavy, so in this instance try my trusty Calmel and Joseph St Chinian 2011 with its subtle smokiness and red berries, it’s perfectly balanced for Christmas Lunch, just 30% Grenache, the harmonious blend with Carignan and Syrah provides the right structure, flavour and body to work with the plethora of flavours and textures on that overloaded plate.

stchinian-360x1335Domaine Pradas Gigondas 2011. If I got you excited at the mere mention of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, look no further than one of its fellow and lesser known Cru Villages for wines that are just as exceptional, but with a kinder price tag. Around 12km to the north east of its famous cousin, Gigondas sits in a more elevated position is becoming better known this side of the channel, along with Vacqueyras, Rasteau to name just 3 of the 18 Crus villages. A classic Grenache (appellation rules state a minimum of 50%), Syrah, Mourvedre blend, this wine has juicy blackberry and grippy tannins to match the richness and complexity of the Christmas feast in hand and although drinking well now, will age further for a couple more years yet.

Wines are available to taste every Saturday between now and Christmas at the pop-up wine stall. Order your Christmas wines now for local delivery or collection from Emmett’s Farm on Saturday 13th or 20th December. Keep an eye on Facebook for festive offers and giveaways and see my CHRISTMAS page for suggested mixed cases and gifts.

1 Comment

Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

The Local Vineyards of Maidenhead: English Wine Week

eww14If you’ve already chatted to me at a Perfect Friday Wine event, it’s likely that I’ve already bent your ear about just how wonderful English Wine is these days, and also likely that you’ve tried some of my award winning sparklers from Bluebell Vineyard Estates in East Sussex. Had I mentioned that their Brut Rosé has just won best sparkling rosé in the Judgement of Parsons Green competition against over 90 other English sparkling wines and came third overall? Well, now you know and if you haven’t already, you must try it – it’s glorious!

East Sussex is also home to some of the better known vineyards such as Ridgeview, Henners and much anticipated Rathfinny. The rest of the southern-most counties, are also home to the biggest and internationally recognised vineyards such as Camel Valley in Cornwall, Nyetimber in West Sussex, Chapel Down and Gusborne in Kent to name but a few. But you may be surprised to know that up here, nearby in the Chilterns, where the soil is still similar to that of Champagne, and the climate is still nice and warm (a degree up in the last decade), we have a whole plethora of local viti and viniculturists of our own, growing the same grape varieties and making wine in the same traditional method as Champagne.

As we approach English Wine Week (24-31 May 2014), allow me to introduce you to Maidenhead and Marlow’s own local vineyard scene, some of our closest vineyards and what they’re up to, in the hope that I can intrigue you enough to get a little bit interested in English wine, how it’s a growing player in our local produce scene and encourage you to get out there and taste it!

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under English Wine, Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Move over Corbieres, step in Faugeres…

photo (4)Please do come and visit Perfect Friday Wine this Saturday 5th April (not March as I’d previously stated in an email communication!) on Maidenhead High Street. The first Saturday of the month is always bustling with most of the usual traders down there, so come and support your local market! Bring a copy of my latest article in local freebie magazine, ‘Life Etc’, to receive 5% off any purchase. The article can also be viewed on pg38 here if you’ve already ‘filed’ yours in the recycling bin, I will be testing you to check that you’ve read it. 🙂
If you can’t get down, I am currently taking orders for delivery on Friday 4th April – don’t forget FREE local delivery to Maidenhead. Please note that as of Sunday, 4 of the wines* will be increasing in price, so get your orders to me by Saturday to take advantage of today’s prices. To soften the blow, any order of 6 or more bottles (was 12) will now attract a 5% discount.
 So you can try before you buy, I will have the following 3 wines open for tasting  this coming Saturday;
  • faugeres2-360x1335 Calmel and Joseph ‘Les Terroirs’ Faugeres 2012 *NEW AND IN STOCK* £10.50 I have decided to not stock the Corbieres (2 bottles are still up for grabs) over summer, but in its place steps the structured and almost minty, Faugeres, also from Languedoc in France. A similar blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan to the versatile St.Chinian but TOTALLY different reflecting the difference in where the vines are grown (the terroir). This one is wilder and more rigid with some fabulous meaty tannins and a big punch of ripe plums. If you’ve ever seen the term ‘garrigue’ mentioned in a tasting note, this has that exact sentiment of lavender, rosemary and a hint of eucalyptus. Great with barbecued minted lamb chops or my favourite Spag Bol.
  • Villa Blanche Grenache Gris Rosé  (Languedoc, France) Dry, delicate with raspberry fruit, welcome acidity and a lingering finish. *NOW IN STOCK* £8.50 (rising to £9 on 6th April, as will the other Villa Blanche wines). Another chance to try my much anticipated Rosé now it’s actually here.
  • Calmel and Joseph Languedoc White *NOT YET AVAILABLE, FEEDBACK REQUESTED* I’ve been looking for a Marsanne/ Rousanne blend for a while and then as if to read my mind, my trusty Calmel and Joseph release the very same! I am very excited to taste this typical white Rhone blend and would love to hear my customer’s thoughts before I add it to the wine list (£10-10.50). If it’s no good (which I doubt), I’ll be opening my new Comenge Verdejo 2012 instead.
Since Bank Holiday season, will shortly be upon us, I have added some new Spring wines by the case, one ‘Summer’s Coming 6’ (£61.75) inspired by my husband’s recent order (yup, that’s right, I make him pay 🙂 ), the other ‘Spring Forward 6’ (£62.70) by my most popular wines sold in March, so if you need inspiration for a case, these are designed to help.
 
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of a new and local independent business. I put a lot of thought into reviewing the wine list and finding interesting and exciting, well-priced wines to add to the portfolio and continue  to aim to introduce you to wines that make a change to the usual Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Aussie Shiraz. I welcome your feedback too, so drop me a line and tell me what you’d like to see next. Do please get involved on Facebook too, I love to hear what you’ve been drinking!
*Although I’ve kept the Villa Blanche and Pierre Paillard wines priced lower than the RRP for as long as I can, Mr Osborne’s latest duty increase has tipped me over the point of no return and price increases will be in place as of Sunday 6th April. Villa Blanche wines will be increased to the RRP of £9, the champagne will increase to £28. I have been searching high and low for a new sub £9 range but am yet to find one worthy of PFW. Orders taken before Sunday and delivered by 12th April will take advantage of today’s prices.

Leave a Comment

Filed under France, Languedoc-Roussillon, Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Perfect Friday Wine is back!

After a successful festive season on Maidenhead High Street, the pop-up stall has been taking a break whilst many of you have been taking part in some form of Dryathlon/ Dryanuary/ detox of some other name. Not me, I must say, but I’ve taken the quieter time to sort out some of the more boring things that come with running a wine business. I won’t bore you with the details, but please bear with me whilst I continue to get my logistics finalised for a more regular delivery service, ordering via the website and national delivery, all of which I hope to get in place over the coming few weeks along with some regular tasting events.

NP105A11 Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all research and accounting, I’ve also been on the look out for some new wines, which required me to attend a big trade tasting last week where I shot my taste buds to pieces with around 150 different wines in one day. The Spanish table held my attention for some time with their indigenous grape varieties, such as Bobal and Albarino, as did Rhone producer Nicolas Perrin whose Syrah/ Viognier blew our minds  AND is an excellent price. I also had the pleasure of visiting a local vineyard, Dropmore,  located just near Cliveden, whom I hope to work with once the next vintages are available.

In preparation for The Papercup Kitchen’s Launch Party on Thursday 30th January at Norden Farm, I’ve been working alongside various small local businesses, who will be showing off their services and products amongst plates of cake and glasses of bubbly. As well as seeing that everyone’s glasses are full, I’ll be there taking wine orders and bookings for tasting events as well as holding a couple of small tasting sessions, so do come and see me, everybody’s welcome.

Continue reading

Leave a Comment

Filed under Maidenhead, Uncategorized, Wine Tasting