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.
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.
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.
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!
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 “Summer Dining and Wine Series: Barbecues”
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.
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.
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.
So, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like to over the last couple of weeks, partly due to being extra-specially knackered but also because I’ve cancelled the cleaners so have been doing the housework when I want to be blogging! What this does mean however is that the money that I am saving on the cleaners can be spent on more/ better wine. The opportunity to do so presented itself to me when an old wine associate of mine, Tony Hill, one-half of Bordeaux and Beyond, kindly let me help out on his stand at a local wine fair back in November to give me a taste of the wine trade. Continue reading “Making me work for my wine”
A year ago, due to the tender age of our son, I could only have imagined dropping the kids off at nursery or their grandparents and taking the day off work, skip-jump-hopping home to get ready for a sophisticated day off out in London lunching at a top restaurant and sampling a few wine bars that are only ever read about in our house these days.