What to drink in the alps? PFW goes on the Piste…

My extended festive break was very much welcome after the hectic lead up to Christmas. Forward wind past much cooking, eating and enjoying time with friends and family, to the moment that the New Year celebrations were over; down came the Christmas tree and off we sped to the French Alps for a spot of skiing.

Now, although I improve each time I go, I am far from a good skiier. To be honest, I’m more of an apres skiier and although I love being in the mountains and the exercise, my main motivation to ski is to get to the bar. With two under-5’s in tow, this time, apres ski was a little thin on the ground, but that isn’t to say that I didn’t seek out a wine or few. Continue reading “What to drink in the alps? PFW goes on the Piste…”

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.

PFW Customer Tasting Autumn 2014

Photo courtesy of photojodie.com
Photos courtesy of photojodie.com

Saturday 11th October 2014 saw the success of the first Perfect Friday Wine Customer Tasting, this year held at the beautiful local vineyard and winery, Stanlake Park.

An invitation only event which not only gave my customers a chance to taste over 20 of the Perfect Friday Wine portfolio of wine (see all here), but also for me to thank all those who have enjoyed my wine and supported me since the start, with a bit of fun on an autumnal afternoon.

Thanks to all of you that came along, it was great to see so many of you there and the day went just as planned! If you fancy a re-cap, big thanks go to not only Stanlake Park for having us, but to local blogger and photographer,  Jodie Humphries for her post on her blog Maidenhead Mum and all of the photographs (see more of Jodie’s handiwork at  ).

Interestingly, the Top 6 wines, that can be purchased as a case of 6 for £75 (£71.25 if paying cash/ BACS. To order, email jo@perfectfridaywine.com), turned out to be:

  • Calmel and Joseph Terrasses du Larzac (R) [Hands down most popular!!!]
  • Domaine Chauveau Pouilly Fumé (W)
  • Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Noirs (Sp)
  • Leiras Albarino (W)
  • Casa Silva Carmenere (R)
  • Chateau Vitallis Macon-Fuissé (W) [new on the day – an unoaked, zingy Burgundy]

Extended thanks and a plug also to Mark Banham who drove all the way up from Dorset Wine School. For any budding wine students out there, the first of Mark’s WSET (Wine and Spirits Education Trust) courses start on Friday 14th November at West Dorset vineyard, Furleigh Estate.

To ensure you don’t miss out next time, sign up to my newsletter from the home page and keep in the loop with all PFW news and events.

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Food and Wine Matching : Middle Eastern Food

I’ve been working with my first supper club ‘Pop-up Dinner Reading’ to help the ladies behind the cooking, Laura and Anu to enrich their guests’ culinary experience even further by recommending and providing the perfect wines to pair with their delicious tasting menus.



Continue reading “Food and Wine Matching : Middle Eastern Food”

Bordeaux En Primeur; Is it worth it?

moutonA bit of a deviation to normal, but if you’ve ever looked into buying wine to keep for the long term or make a return on some hard earned cash, then it’s likely that you’ve heard of ‘En Primeur’. My recent WSET Diploma (Wines and Spirits Education Trust Level 4) feedback assignment lead me to research the ins and outs of Bordeaux En Primeur and I figured that those amongst you who perhaps have considered buying wine as an investment might be interested in knowing a little bit more.

For me, wine is to be enjoyed and drunk. I am however a sucker for an old, rare bottle of wine every now and again; I shared a bottle of 1981 Mouton-Rothschild on my wedding anniversary this week for instance, and we often buy vintage champagne to age and enjoy at a later date when it will be worth 3 times the price paid and taste absolutely superb. I have also considered in the past buying En Primeur, just for the fun of it, like gambling at the races, so it was interesting to delve a bit deeper into whether the system actually works still. I of course would be talking of spending only hundreds of pounds, not tens of thousands…so, excuse the essay speak, but here’s an abriged version of my assignment for you to mull over if interested as to whether En Primeur is actually a good way to buy top Bordeaux wines at a good price… a hefty post for a hefty subject!

Continue reading “Bordeaux En Primeur; Is it worth it?”

School’s out…is it wine o’clock yet?

So that’s it, I think all of the kids have now broken up for the summer. In the past, this time of seeming panic and upheaval never had any impact on me whatsoever apart from the office got quieter and I could achieve Maidenhead to Thames Valley Park in approximately 16 minutes. The kids then appeared. Nope, no change, they were in day nursery so kept out of harm’s way for 51 weeks of the year. Even now, when holiday club is less expensive than regular day care, still not much change but I figure I might not be so complacent about the school holidays come September, when my eldest starts school.

For those of you with kids of school age, whatever you choose/ manage/ juggle/ wangle to do with the kids for an entire 6 weeks, I’m pretty sure that by about 5pm, there are a lot of parents out there, even more so than usual, working out just how many hours it is until the kids go to bed and also whether it would be rude to have a glass of wine yet. Just what time is wine o’clock acceptable?

Continue reading “School’s out…is it wine o’clock yet?”

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!


Languedoc Jolly…eh, I mean Field Trip

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.
Continue reading “Languedoc Jolly…eh, I mean Field Trip”

Wine and Lifestyle Writing



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.
Continue reading “English Wine Week Tasting: PFW Line Up”