Category Archives: Sparkling

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

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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.

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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.

 

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

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

English Sparkling Bluebell Vineyard Estates Hindleap

Seyval Blanc Gift Bag £23

Seyval Blanc Gift Bag

As I have declared many times before,  I’m a big advocator of English Wine (the link will take you to much of my chatter around the subject). I have therefore been extremely excited to have been able to get in on the act and add 2 award-winning examples of English Sparkling Wine to the PFW portfolio; Bluebell Vineyard Estates Hindleap Seyval Blanc (white) and their Brut Rosé (pink, obviously).

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, English Wine, Seyval Blanc, Sparkling, Wine Tasting

Perfect Friday Wine has moved!

Tasting table ready to go...

Tasting table ready to go…

Boy, have I been busy this fortnight. I’ve had a big project go-live in the day job, been given new projects to replace the old and hit some exciting milestones wine-wise, one of which being the new hosting-site for my blog. Although I’ll still be ‘reading and following’ on wordpress.com, I’m now fully functional over on wordpress.org thanks to a patient and clever friend who’s much less technically challenged than myself. So I’d just like to apologise first to my loyal and kind wordpress.com followers for lack of warning that I was moving. Yes, I did post a ‘please follow me over –>here<— at perfectfridaywine.com’ post, but only into ‘Drafts’, so was obviously no good! So here’s my plea:

If you’ve enjoyed reading about my capers in wine over the past year, I really appreciate all the support and encouragement that each and every one of you has given me, so please, please continue to follow me –>here<— at perfectfridaywine.com. I promise to keep my tales fresh, relevant and as frequent as possible. I suspect that you might not need to do anything at all and if this is the case, please do me a favour and like or comment on this post (my first since the blog relocated) so that I know that I don’t need to email you all to beg for refollowage.

So there you go 🙂

On to other news, another more interesting milestone, or perhaps ‘announcement’, is that on the run up to Christmas, I’m dipping my toe into the wine trade. More to come later on this, but in preparation, I’ve held 3 tastings at my house over the past 2 weeks. One sparkling, one white, one red, so if you’re reading this, thanks to all my Perfect Friday Wine helpers for your feedback and enthusiasm. Be grateful I didn’t fancy branching out into selling carpets or house insurance 😉

PFW little helpers in the midst of 8 reds

PFW little helpers in the midst of 8 reds

So, to share the stars of the tastings (and of course, I didn’t take any photos of the wines);

– Sparkling: a tie between the Pierre Paillard Bouzy Grand Cru Champagne and the Bluebell Vineyard Hindleap Classic Cuvée, East Sussex, England.

– White: for me, it had to be the beautiful Domaine de la Creuze Noire Saint-Véran 2011. A fabulously elegant well-priced Burgundian Chardonnay, I’m excited about trying this again.

– Red: The best value red of all had a fantastic reception, the Calmel and Joseph, Villa Blanche Syrah. Another exciting find.

Watch this space, and thanks for reading!

Please visit the Coming Soon Page for more detail on the wines and events.

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Filed under Chardonnay, Eating/ Drinking In, English Wine, France, Seyval Blanc, Sparkling, Uncategorized, Wine Tasting

Flash Recommendation: Deutz Brut Classic Champagne

Deutz Birthday Wine

What:  Deutz Brut Classic Champagne

Where OutThe 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.

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Eating/ Drinking Out, Flash Recommendation, France, Sparkling

Henley Regatta Perfect Wine Pairing

Peace - after the racing, summer in the English countryside.It would be an understatement for me to say that I like Henley Regatta. I love Henley Regatta, even more so when the sun is shining. I have a lot of great memories from over the years, from the times I’ve camped with good friends, having left work in time to pitch up and catch the last couple of races over a Pimms or two, to the few times I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on a pass to Stewards’ Enclosure. I also rowed myself for a few years at Maidenhead, so not only can I appreciate a nice stroke action, the stress of a racing start and the pain of a 40 strokes per minute rating, I’ve also been part of the rowing community so tend to know a few friendly faces around and about. All in all it’s a brilliant few days and if you like sitting by the river with a drink, people watching, I can imagine you’d enjoy it too.

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Filed under Dorset, Eating/ Drinking Out, English Wine, Party Wine, Seasonal, Spain, Sparkling

Cheers to English Wine Week!

A selection of English Sparkling for an upcoming tasting in May.

Hoorah to English Wine Week!

Just a quicky as I have a small person pestering me to set up a treasure hunt. It’s a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, as I believe it is too in the states. It is also World Sherry Day and, more to the point, we’re in the midst of English Wine Week.

I ran an English Wine tasting a couple of week’s ago and the general consensus from a group of happy tasters, was that the English wine was excellent. Since then, I also attended a trade show where I tried even more!

In summary;

we can grow some fabulous Bacchus – a lighter version of Sauvignon Blanc. The Pheasants Ridge Bacchus Dry from near Henley-on-Thames was a delight and the generous Michael Gilbey gave us (The Wine Team) a bottle to try. (£75 for 6 bottles) I would like to try their Sparkling Brut now.

Expect to see some Chardonnay emerging  Give the Gusbourne Estate Chardonnay (still, not sparkling – well, try that too!) a go!

Age it! – We tried a vertical tasting of Stanlake Park‘s Kings Fume (a 2006 and a 2010) (£10.99 from the vineyard) blend of Ortega, Regner, Scheurebe and Bacchus. Both tasty with the eldest being a lot creamier and softer – the jury was out as to which was preferred.

 the reds are coming along – until this particular tasting, I was yet to taste a decent English red. The 2 Pinot Noirs from Bolney Estate (£15.99) and a’Becketts (£15) however were light and fruity, with the former hinting at some good Burgundy-esque flavours and body.

don’t rule out rosé either – the Oaken Grove Benham Blush  (Waitrose, £10.99) was just how I like my rosé – light, acidic and fruity (think Provencal) [Also featured in My quest to find the perfect rosé]

….drum roll…and the sparkling……! – Becoming increasingly competitive in price and quality with Champagne and other sparkling wine, it really feels like English Sparkling is carving out its own little niche within the market, and I’m yet to try a nasty one. It’s also switching me towards pink sparkling – The Balfour Brut Rosé (£35.99, Waitrose) is a force to be reckoned with. As for the whites, you could pick up the Sainsbury’s English Sparkling Wine, a 2007 vintage from Denbies  for around £15 in their 25% off deal at the moment – a billion-times better investment than a cheap bottle of NV Champers in my opinion, and worth every penny at full price £19.99. Another that I had the pleasure of tasting this week was the award-winning Bluebell Vineyard Estates Hindleap Blanc de Blancs (£23.99). These guys were lovely to meet and all 3 of their sparklings were yummy.

Not my most scientific post this one, but wanted to share while the sun still shines and the long weekend is still in full swing. Please do share any you’ve tried and where you bought it. Happy Bank Holiday and Happy English Wine Week!

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, English Wine, Sparkling, Uncategorized, Wine Tasting

Summer Dining and Wine Series; Picnics

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.

Part One: Picnics

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking Out, English Wine, France, Party Wine, Seasonal, South America, Sparkling, Wine and Food Pairing

Super Thursday Valentine’s

DSC00372This time 3 years ago, I was very heavily pregnant. I now therefore tend to associate Valentine’s Day, apart from the love and adoration of my husband of course (added in there – saved, phew!!), with being overdue, uncomfortable, and waiting. I remember being taken out for lunch by my brother and stepmum and how post-lunch, having some pre-baby maternity leave free time, my brother and I were stumped as to how we could spend a rainy February afternoon. Continue reading

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Filed under Eating/ Drinking In, Party Wine, Seasonal, South Africa, Spain, Sparkling, Wine and Food Pairing

Compromising with 2-stars

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.

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November 11, 2012 · 9:40 pm