I love it when the experts agree…

I’m afraid you need to be a Purple Pages member to see the tasting notes (I’ll share on Facebook from time to time), but here’s a little round up of the scores from jancisrobinson.com of the Calmel and Joseph wines, a selection of which I stock (Saint Chinian, Faugeres, Vieux Carignan, Picpoul de Pinet, Syrah, Grenache Gris). I have my eye on that Terrace du Larzac and Le Pic…happy drinking!

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Languedoc Jolly…eh, I mean Field Trip

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Preignes de Vieux

The email came through – did anyone think they might benefit from a suppliers trip to Languedoc-Roussillon? Eh….split second response ‘yes please – mememememememeememememe!’. A bit keen perhaps, but this isn’t just any old work trip, it’s an invite to meet one of my winemakers, explore vineyards in one of my favourite wine regions and taste wine –  I think you’ll forgive my eagerness!

Languedoc is in the South West of France and is one of my ‘brilliant value’ regions where my Calmel and Joseph wines hail from. It as an air of wildness that’s reflected in the unkempt buildings of former glory and scrubby terrain (in between the vastness of land under vine). It’s relatively little known beyond France and it doesn’t have a whiff of stuffy old First Growth pretension. I mean no disrespect to the more distinguished French wine regions, just for normal folk, fine wine isn’t generally on the menu for  a Thursday night and Languedoc wines are just much more accessible to us wine drinkers who want a decent drop in our glass but are looking for some value for money.
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Wine and Lifestyle Writing

 

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For anyone wondering what I do all day, one of my hats is writing for local lifestyle magazine Life Etc. I often get quizzical looks at the school gate when I say I’m rushing off to work, well this is one of those ‘work’ things – it’s true, I don’t just work the perceived one day a month. The 2014 summer edition (above) is is my fifth published piece (pages 68-69) I’m proud to say and as I find my wine wings, I’m enjoying it more and more and it’s another great media for me to encourage people drinking different and better wines. This is after all, a Pinot Grigio free zone!

I’ll be on Maidenhead High Street this weekend with the Grenache Gris, Saint Chinian and Blanc de Noirs open for tasting. Bring a copy of the article, either the real mag or linked here and I’ll give you 5% off any purchase in gratitude for you taking the time to read 🙂 Now, on to that Languedoc post that I owe you all! Cheers!

 

 

English Wine Week Tasting: PFW Line Up

Boadi the vineyard pup at Brightwell.
Boadi the vineyard pup at Brightwell.

Apologies to those of you who’ve been waiting for the low down on my Languedoc trip, but I can’t resist English Wine. It’s what lured me into my WSET studies in the first place and I’m a sucker for supporting local trade. Languedoc stories are to come, but for now, my focus has been on English Wine Week (24 May-01 June).

I’ve spent a busy week working to get hold of some local English wines from all those vineyards that I wrote about in my last blog. John from Dropmore is in the midst of bottling his 2013 wines, Fawley’s next lot won’t be out until later in the year (The Quince Tree, Stonor stock the Bacchus 2009 currently if you fancy a taste – it’s great stuff), Phil from Oaken Grove couldn’t get to the vineyard ’til Sunday (try Waitrose for this fabulous rosé, I have a bottle in the fridge in fact) so it was the bigger vineyards that I struck gold with.
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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!

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From Languedoc to Little Marlow…venturing out!

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to Languedoc I go…

I am very excited to be going on my first ‘official’ field trip as a person in the wine trade. After spending many years in I.T. working for a company who didn’t like their employees to meet their colleagues face-to-face, I haven’t been on a work trip for rather a long time. To be fair, I believe it was to Colorado and I somehow managed to wangle a flight home via San Francisco and spent part of the weekend in Sonoma, not for the first time, wine tasting, so not all doom and gloom. In fact, I think this was around the time I started my first WSET Intermediate course, so ‘Cheers’ to that large corporation on assisting with my inspiration in more ways than one.

jeromej laurentcI have of course been forced to buy a small capsule vineyard friendly wardrobe, as I can only assume that not only will the sun be shining when I get to meet my moustached, Languedoc winemakers Laurent Calmel and Jerome Joseph, but that they’ll be taking me to a vineyard or two (and of course tasting a few of the finished products – I haven’t yet tried their Pinot Noir!).

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IWC Bronze Winner

I’ll be reporting back more once I’ve been and be sure to take lots of photos of all the vineyard sites, wineries and of course, the winemakers themselves. In the meantime, to get in the mood, I’ve been enjoying a glass or two of Laurent and Jerome’s Villa Blanche Picpoul de Pinet as well as the ‘Les Terroirs’ St Chinian, both today receiving commended awards in the International Wine Challenge (with the Grenache Gris Rosé winning a Bronze).  Lucky for me, I had a bit of each leftover from the pop-ups this weekend – another perk of the job.

…and then swapping Costa for Home Barn..

All in one month, I’m leaving the safety of Maidenhead numerous times. Not only am I leaving the country, going on an aeroplane ‘sans enfants’ with a tiny, tiny piece of hand luggage, I’m also taking the pop-up out of Berkshire!! I know the majority of you think I’m bonkers when I’m stood there in my thermals braving the wind and rain, shivering as I pour you a thimble taster, but the pop-ups such a fantastic place for me to meet both new and returning customers and to give me a chance to bend your ears on just how fabulous my wines are and also, to hear which you love and what you’d like to see more of.

To prove that I have been listening, in order to cater for those of you who don’t tend to venture into Maidenhead Town Centre and like to have the car nearby to load up with your wine purchases, I’m excited to announce that, I will be pitching up on Saturday 24th May at the home of Home Barn, Phil Bowditch the butcher/ fishmonger, the Farmshop and Emmett and Stone, at Little Marlow’s very own Emmett’s Farm (on the road between Marlow and Bourne End map). If all goes well, I hope for this to become a regular feature on the PFW monthly calendar, so put 24th May in your diaries now and I’ll see you there.

Wine by Mini = Wini!
Wine by Mini = Wini!

…and don’t forget my Mini-powered wine delivery round

I have plenty of stock in at the moment, so don’t forget to get your orders in for the weekend! To ensure that you’ll be sipping something delicious this weekend, get your orders in by 10.30am on Friday 9th May and your wine will join the rest of the round, and I’ll drop it over to you that same day. Cases are here, or pick your own, then simply order via the contact form below. Next week’s delivery round will be on Friday 16th afternoon/ Saturday 17th morning.

 

PFW Pop-up and Poll

As well as delivering wine before the weekend on Thursday to local customers, it seems like a while ago, but I’ll be back popping-up this Bank Holiday weekend, not once but twice!

My first gig will be my trusty and faithful pitch, alongside my butcher, baker, fishmonger buddies as well as Eton Fudge, Spicy Chef, Street Food Spain, the Fruit and Veg dudes, Francis from Appleford Brewery and others, on Maidenhead High Street on Saturday 3rd May and I’ll be bring those wines in my ‘Long Weekend’ cases (see poll list). I’m really looking forward to seeing my customers old and new and having you tasting the wines. This month, I will be leaving it to popular opinion as to which wines I should have open to taste on Saturday. Please do take a few seconds to vote via the poll as to which 3 wines you’d like to taste most and your wish will be my command!

DSC04048If you can’t get down on Saturday, remember to order your bank holiday wine by 4.30pm on Thursday for delivery DSC03838on Thursday or Friday. I selected the ‘Long Weekend’ cases (from £58.90) to cover all your bank holiday wine needs, or choose another case or customise your own order…however you please 🙂 There are two Long Weekend cases, both featuring a bottle of bubbles. One with the fabulously good value Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Noirs, a smooth and elegant Spanish Cava made from Champagne grape variety Pinot Noir. The second, bearing in mind that it’s English Wine Week towards the end of of May, has the award winning Bluebell Hindleap Brut Rosé 2010, recent winner of best rosé in the prestigious ‘Judgement of Parsons Green‘ English Sparkling Wine blind tasting, one of the judges being Maidenhead’s very own Master of Wine, Richard Bampfield. The wine also took third place overall out of 93 other English Sparkling Wines from 47 different producers. If you want to taste it first this weekend, get voting in the poll!

If you’re at a loose end on Monday, do pop over and see me at the Knowl Hill Dog Show and Family Fun Day at the Bird In Hand (on the A4, just after Littlewick Green if coming from Maidenhead) 12-4pm. Bring the kids and the dogs (they’re free) and come and enjoy more wine tasting, the BBQ, Beer Tent, Face Painting…and of course Dog Show. My only Dog Show experience prior to this is Martin Clunes’ Buckham Fair in deepest darkest Dorset, which was a good wheeze, so I have high hopes of my first celebrity customer and a high Dubarry count – do come along, it would be great to see you!

 

 

Giggling Squid Thai and Wine

Things are looking up in the PFW household as the youngest small person has grown out of nappies and is becoming even more of a walking, talking human. The nappies may have gone, but we still have a buggy, even though I push it around empty most of the time, it’s useful to transport shabby-chic props for the stall that I pick up from shop closing down sales and carry around coats that no-one wears. It’s also useful to load up with wine and beer when we’re visiting friends for lunch; I am so going to need one of those tartan old-lady trolleys once the buggy is no more.

DSC04063Anyway, things are definitely heading in the right direction away from life with babies towards normality, and this Easter weekend saw us all catching the train to Bourne End and then walking/ scooting along the Thames Path to Marlow for lunch with no-one screaming for a milk feed half way there. Although my husband was lured by a 25% discount O2 Moment, I narrowly averted a sell-out visit to Zizzi with my persistence that the kids would indeed enjoy a Thai meal and somehow I managed to herd everyone up to the delightful Giggling Squid on West Street.

The kids were welcomed warmly, the drift-wood decor was relaxed and easy on the eye and the food was splendid – with the kids, I smugly add, eating a good proportion of each of the dishes. I was keen to try a glass of wine, having not dined out for too long, and opted for a Clos du Canalet Vin Pays d’Oc rosé from Southern France – purely because it was a sunny day and I recognised the name, not because I thought it would pair well. Although the rosé was a delicate, dry and fruity wine, I’d tend to recommend a white wine with Thai, something with some body and acidity to it such as a Rueda Verdejo, a dry Riesling or perhaps an Argentinian Torrontes. A sparkling wine wouldn’t go a miss either and the Cava on the Giggling Squid’s wine list  was a close second choice to the rosé.

I hope you all enjoyed the Easter break and that today wasn’t too much of a strain being back to work. Do share any Easter wine or dining experiences below, or on my Facebook.com/perfectfridaywine page!

 

Easter Food and Wine Matching

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To order your wine, email jo@perfectfridaywine.com the old fashioned way, or order direct using the contact form below and I’ll be in contact to arrange payment and delivery. Case offer available for orders placed by 4.30pm on Thursday 17 April 2014. For all suggested cases, see Cases. Suggested food match not included 🙂

Missing out? Get involved on Twitter @perfectfriwine or ‘Like’ facebook.com/perfectfridaywine.

Henley, Boats and Wine

My favourite Hobb's boat, the launch 'Entrantress'
My favourite Hobbs’ boat, the launch ‘Enchantress’

One of my favourite things about living in Maidenhead is being close to the River Thames. For me, it’s the next best thing to living by the sea. I love the fact that it springs up in deepest darkest Gloucestershire, winding its way though many a sleepy village, market towns, university cities (and towns that want to be cities…ahem, Reading), past Windsor Castle, ending up in the biggest of them all, London. I am proud when I can announce to my kids in numerous local places as well as in the big smoke, that the stretch of water ahead of us, is ‘our river’, the same one where we eat ice-creams and watch the boats at Boulters Lock, but in different guises.

I’ve spent many hours both on and by the Thames, be it from my grandparents’ river cruiser back in the 80’s to more recently, the bow-seat of an Eight or a Coxed Four, our wedding reception or lengthy, summertime lunch breaks at Thames Valley Park, so I’m delighted that my latest pop-up will be river affiliated, at the Henley and Wargrave Boat Show this coming Saturday and Sunday at Val Wyatt Marina (just north of Wargrave by the George and Dragon pub).

Not only will I be joining several other local businesses, such as Artisan Valley, The Horns Pub and Hobbs of Henley, I’ll also be brandishing a couple of bottles of the award winning Bluebell Vineyard Estates Brut Rosé that will be open for tasting on both days and there will also be a chance for 6 visitors to win a bottle in the Business Card Drop. I am proud to say that the wine recently won the ‘Top Sparkling Rosé’ prize in the annual ‘Judgement of Parsons Green‘ competition, and came third overall out of 97 other English Sparkling Wines. Always nice to know that the experts agree with your wine choice!

The event is free to enter with free parking and free Hobbs’ boat rides. It’s also family friendly with free kids cookery sessions from High Wycombe’s Empower to Cook, loads to eat and drink, including a hog roast and Daisy’s Vintage Ice Cream Van.