Category Archives: Wine Tasting

Best Yet Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting

Nearly a month later and I’m only just getting round to reporting that this year’s Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting in Maidenhead was the most successful yet.

Huge thanks to all 80+ guests who came along, what a great afternoon!

I of course took about 3 photographs; always in my mind, a good indicator of a good do. Here’s the best one….

Wine Tasting Maidenhead

The third of its kind, this intimate yet informal annual wine tasting was held in Perfect Friday Wine’s home town of Maidenhead at the most suitable venue of the Council Chamber in the Town Hall.

Anyone familiar with the town will know that events like this don’t tend to happen – not that I know of anyway, or I’d be there!

With over 40 wines to taste, talk and mingle over during the course of an afternoon, five Perfect Friday Wine suppliers poured and talked through the wines, including wines from some of the UK’s top London-based wine importers.

maidenhead wine

 

Around half of the wines were new to the Perfect Friday Wine list, all available to order. Particularly well received was a new sparkling Calmel and Joseph Cremant de Limoux, South African wines from Black Elephant Vintners and a whole host of Argentinian reds.

I’m delighted to have given local folk a great excuse to leave the kids at home and enjoy an afternoon of great wine on their doorsteps and judging by the feedback, good fun was had by all.

If you do have photos of the day and haven’t yet shared, I’d love to see them on Facebook or Instagram.

Until next year!!

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Filed under Home Counties, Maidenhead, Wine and Food Pairing, Wine Tasting

Wine List Released for the Autumn Wine Tasting in Maidenhead 2016

With much anticipation, the biggest and best ever Wine Tasting Event in Maidenhead, certainly to my knowledge, is happening this coming Saturday afternoon.

Yes, from 1.30pm until 5pm on Saturday 8th October 2016, The Council Chamber in Maidenhead’s Town Hall will be transformed into a tasting room filled with around 80 wine loving folk from the locality, enjoying over 40 wines from 7 countries around the world.  Guests are welcome to arrive at any time during the afternoon since the format is very relaxed and of walk around format. Last pour will be at 5pm.

The Wine Tasting Brochure and Wine List  has now been confirmed and is now available to download for preview. You will receive a nice printed copy on arrival.

Maidenhead Wine Tasting

The last few remaining tickets are available to buy in advance. Further details and FAQs can be viewed here or drop me a line.

Correction: Entry to the event is via the MAIN door at the front of the Town Hall on St Ives Road.

Download the Wine List Brochure for the Perfect Friday Wine Autumn Wine Tasting 2016 now.

 

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

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 .

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

Languedoc Wine Hotel, Chateau les Carrasses and Canal du Midi Wine Tasting

Now I’ve set the Saint-Chinian scene and explained a bit about the wines in my previous post, I’ll go on to tell you more about the beautiful and very tranquil region of Saint-Chinian and the fabulous Languedoc wine hotel we were so lucky to stay in.

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The view from the terrace at Chateau les Carrasses. The perfect base to explore Languedoc.

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Chateau les Carrasses

Bearing in mind that the school summer holidays were 2 whole months long and I’ve only just started to recover, to say the view from our first night’s accommodation,  the Chateau les Carrasses, brought a smile to my face, is a massive understatement. A little gem of a hotel, hidden away in the Saint-Chinian countryside, only 35km from Beziers Airport, I’m tempted to pop over every weekend. The Chateau les Carrasses is adult and child friendly, has a gorgeous pool with some jawdropping views. There is also an onsite restaurant and terrace and even bikes for all the family to borrow.

Being surrounded by vineyards, Chateau Les Carrasses also makes its own wine, a refreshingly chilled glass of which was gratefully received on the terrace on our arrival. Although those workers amongst us had a jam-packed itinery filled with wine tastings, visits to tasting rooms and sites touristiques du Saint-Chinian, regular guests who fancy being taken out into wine country beyond the adjacent vines, can get a feel for the locality on a Les Carrasses’ Wine Activity Day.

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Wine Tasting on the Canal du Midi

If you prefer to make your own way around, but aren’t sure where to start, there’s the Office du Tourisme du Canal Midi in local village Capestang, a short cycle ride away (although it’s uphill home). The office du tourisme is named after the ancient canal that runs right through the village, stretching to Toulouse in the west, straight across to the Mediterranean near Sete. The tourist office have a summer long schedule running regular wine tastings alongside the Canal du Midi, buddying up with local winemakers who are more than keen to share their wines with willing tasters.

You could also do as we did and grab a hire boat on the Canal du Midi, pick up some wine from the Office du Tourisme, and take a (self-driven) tasting actually ON the Canal itself.  This was undoubtedly the most peaceful wine tasting that I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience – I think I may have actually gone into a trance-like state as we pootled along the canal on a little boat, in the warm evening sun, tasting delicious local wine and produce from the surrounding Saint-Chinian area, to the sound of the breeze in the plane trees.

Saint-Chinian whites as I like them.

Saint-Chinian whites as I like them.

As mesmerised as I was, I did manage to stay awake and took lots of tasting notes before we headed back to the Chateau les Carrasses for dinner. Although most of the best wines in Saint-Chinian are red, the best of the whites can be very tasty indeed. Perhaps the most notable of the wines tasted being this Cuvee Bois Joli from Chateau Coujon, a Grenache Blanc and Rolle (better known as Vermentino) blend which had seen 6-8 months on oak. A crisp and citrussy white with pineapple flavours and a hint of dried coconut went particularly well alongside the tiny local olives known as ‘Lucques’.

After all that hard work, there was only one thing for it, to head back to the Chateau les Carrasses for a slap up dinner in their restaurant and of course, more wine tasting..

 

 

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

A turn for the better…Organic Wine in 2015

The 2015 UK Solar Eclipse, as viewed from Maidenhead, Berks (thanks to Dan Barker for the photo)

The 2015 UK Solar Eclipse, as viewed from Maidenhead, Berks (thanks to Dan Barker for the photo)

I started writing this post during the solar eclipse back in March. I’m one of those people that gets a bit excited by natural phenonomens like this. I think that the weirdness that the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, yet 400 times further away (of something like that) and therefore the moon is the exact right size to cover up the sun is pretty special. However, it was irrelevant as it of course, it was cloudy here in Maidenhead.

I had visions of biodynamic viticulturists literally hopping about filling those cow horns with whatever they put in them to be buried right on the cusp of the solar eclipse but from my very mild research, it appears, for obvious reasons that in fact a solar eclipse is a big boo boo for all things agricultural if you’re cosmic like that.

Copyright: Gilles LEFRANCQ Photographie

Copyright: Gilles LEFRANCQ Photographie

I’ll fill you in a bit more on biodynamic wines when I have time to explain the nitty gritty but essentially, Biodynamic wine making considers the charts of the moon and its influence on the vines, amongst other peculiar activities. Organic or Natural wines are a bit different in that they don’t worry about that sort of stuff, but have been made with ecological considerations in mind from vine to bottle, using organic grapes grown without (or with limited) pesticides and fungicides as well as using organic wine making practices in the winery.  Confusingly, what constitutes a Certified Organic Wine differ from country to country. For instance, the US restricts the addition of sulphur dioxide to 100mg/l (non-organic 200mg/l) whereas in the EU, sulfite limits differ according to red (100mg/l organic to 150mg/l non-organic) and white wines (150mg/l organic compared to 200mg/l** non-organic).*

More on sulfites* below, but the thing is, wine need sulfites to a certain degree to protect the grapes from prematurely oxidising and without additional sulfites (which occur naturally in wine anyway), can result in a pretty funky tasting wine. I’d go as far as saying that a few years ago, I would’ve struggled to find many natural wines that were lacking that ‘funk’. However, as wine production methods are constantly developing and as producers get cleverer, for instance, picking grapes in the cool of night, the need to add nasties to preserve freshness is reduced and I would say, from my latest experience pertaining to natural wine, the taste of these wines, which is what we all (I) really care about, is actually pretty good.

Just one of the halls at Millesime Bio 2015 Copyright: Gilles LEFRANCQ Photographie

In January, I was fortunate enough to attend the world’s largest natural wine trade fair, Millesime Bio, in Montpellier, bang smack in the middle of my favourite French wine region, Languedoc-Roussillon. If the size of the event or the enthusiasm around following ethical and more ecological methods to produce wine, were anything to go by, I can only imagine that we’re going to see more and more natural wine being made, particularly in those regions where a nice hot and dry climate keeps mini-beasts and rot to the minimum. Moreover, I think we’re going to start seeing more and more organic wines cropping up in our day to day wine offerings, particularly from those regions like Languedoc-Roussillon where winemaking is innovative and forward thinking, not because it’s specifically organic but because it tastes so good – the vast majority of the wines I tasted, tasted like ‘normal’ wines – not a hint of organic funk.

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Emilio Valerio wine available from Berkshire’s Perfect Friday Wine

I’m not one to choose a wine just because it has a certain tick in a box, so, so far, I’m yet to stock any Certified Organic wines, but I  don’t think it’ll be far away judging by those fabulous wines I came across in Montpellier. I have however recently chosen a new wine that has, incidentally, been made using biodynamic methods, chosen purely because it tastes so flippin’ good, the Laderas de Montejurra Emilio Valerio 2012. A spanish blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Garnacha, made with grapes grown in the cool foothills of Navarra’s Montejurra, about half way between Rioja’s Logrono and Pamplona, famed for its Running of the Bulls Fiesta. This is a powerful but elegant wine aged in old oak for 13 months, so expect some chewy tannins well weighted against lots of ripe blackberrys and eucalyptus. I love it, and at £12.25 (price correct Apr 2015), it represents marvellous value, biodynamic, organic or not.

*I get asked about Sulfites a lot. If you are concerned about sulfite levels in wine, stick to the red as less SO2 is needed due to the naturally high occurring anti-oxidants in the red fruit (beware other food types that have high sulphur levels too such as some fruit juices and dried fruit).  In order to be classed as ‘sulfite free’, a wine must contain 10mg/l or less SO2, anymore than that, the label must state that it contains sulfites. Even a wine with no added sulfites will likely contain some naturally occurring S02. Although organic wines are likely to contain lower levels (and certainly fewer of the other additives), this isn’t always the case as not only can Sulphur be sprayed on the vines to combat mildew, interestingly, the EU organic limits of sulfites are not so restrictive when put into context. e.g. The white non-organic Rioja on the PFW list at the moment, Las Orcas Decenio Blanco, contains 120mg/l of SO2, significantly less than the EU organic limit of 150mg/l. Even Australia’s cheap as chips Yellow Tail claims on its website that its white wines contain around 140mg/l of SO2 which is still less than the EU Organic limit (its red wines are around 70mg/l).

** Some sources state 200mg/l others 210mg/l.

Further Info and references:
http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/46432/
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-12-113_en.htm
http://www.eubusiness.com/topics/food/organic-wine/
http://www.morethanorganic.com/sulphur-in-the-bottle
https://www.facebook.com/Sudvinbio

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Filed under France, Spain, Wine Tasting

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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