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Shanghai Christmas

Despite being disappointed to be away from home and my family this Christmas and having to work, I was determined that the day wouldn’t be a complete washout. Arriving at Pudong international airport at 2am on the 25th and having to operate a flight back to Hong Kong at 4am on the 26th was not exactly conducive to a fun and wine filled Christmas day but it was just about possible to get enough rest in, observe the strict rules on alcohol and flying, and still enjoy the day.

After grabbing a few hours much needed sleep I dragged my jet-lagged body out of bed, armed with a bottle of Uva Mira Chardonnay 2010 and headed in to Shanghai on one of the world’s first maglev trains at 300km/h.

Maglev - 300km/h

On the maglev

I hadn’t spent any time in Shanghai since my Virgin Atlantic days over 10 years ago so it was reassuring to see that the Shanghai metro worked seamlessly and the city still seemed relatively familiar, at least at the usual tourist haunts of the Bund and Xintiandi. Obligatory photo on the Bund for the Chardonnay completed its Chinese tour and next on the agenda was finding a restaurant to have Christmas lunch.

Uva Mira on the Bund

Uva Mira on the Bund

Lack of planning on my part, due to misplaced optimism that my flight would be cancelled, meant that we couldn’t get in to the really interesting restaurants like Otto e Mezzo or Mr & Mrs Bund so we turned on tourist mode, jumped in a taxi and headed off to Xintiandi to see what we could find.

I wasn’t expecting too much when we came across KABB bistro and bar, but they were open, had food and, more importantly, allowed me to open up my bottle of Uva Mira Chardonnay for an almost reasonable 150 RMB corkage charge. Deciding that a burger really wasn’t appropriate for Christmas lunch I went for one of the day’s specials and had a very passable duck confit. It may not have been the best Christmas lunch or confit that I’ve ever had but I was pleasantly surprised to find an enjoyable dish that complimented the bold flavours of the Uva Mira.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

It’s always a pleasure to introduce this wine to new people and today was no exception as I shared the bottle with the other pilot, a friendly Kiwi who had no idea that South Africa could produce wines with this depth and elegance. This wine has never let me down and it was on top form today with the usual integrated oak notes supporting the linear stone fruit flavours. A thread of citrus developing as the wine gently warmed up in the glass and a zesty acidity cutting through the duck fat. It remains one of my firm favourites.

The Parkers Arms

This delightful pub in Newton in Bowland, Lancashire has been on my radar for some time. First alerted to it by  @the_A_Stephenson over 2 years ago, I have been trying to find an excuse to eat here. Visiting relatives in nearby Preston at the start of the school half term holiday provided the perfect opportunity to repay some of their wonderful hospitality over the years, and to finally head through the impossibly scenic Trough of Bowland to this busy country pub. The weather was one of those rare blue sunny days that highlighted the natural beauty of the area, enhanced by a blaze of autumnal colour that bounced off an ever changing landscape. The drive to the pub was nothing short of stunning.

Driving through all that natural beauty had left me thirsty, and this being a pub, I needed a pint. A deliciously hoppy golden ale, Lancaster Amber. Crisp, fresh, nutty malt and a thread of citrus with only 3.7% alc, this was an excellent choice for lunchtime drinking.

Lancaster Amber

Lancaster Amber – isn’t she beautiful!

With my thirst satiated and the kids settled down it was time to get on to the food. With 6 of us there for lunch we were able to order a good variety of food and of course the kids were happy to share their dishes with me in return for a bribe of ice-cream!

First up was the Bowland grouse, rabbit and cobnut terrine which came on a wooden platter with a piccalilli that was packed with well balanced and spicy flavour. Juicy, tender chunks of meat in the terrine contrasted with the light crunch of the cobnuts. We were off to a great start!

Bowland Grouse, Rabbit and Cobnut Terrine

Bowland Grouse, Rabbit and Cobnut Terrine

Other starters included a potato and Lancashire cheese cake that featured a soft potato base topped with a crunchy and comforting cheese layer laced with a smokey aspect. The accompanying tomato based sauce worked well but this dish lacked the complexity of the terrine and would perhaps become more of an obvious choice as the winter draws closer.

Potato & Lancashire Cheese Cake

Potato & Lancashire Cheese Cake

I didn’t taste the Muncaster crab tatin but it was certainly well presented and the speed with which it disappeared along with the soft murmurs of approval suggested that it was equally well received.

Muncaster Crab Gratin

Muncaster Crab Gratin

Before moving on to the mains, we got our first hint that not all was well in the kitchen – somebody was on the receiving end of a Gordon Ramsay style attitude re-adjustment! We had a bit of a wait for the mains to arrive, but the restaurant was busy and we were enjoying the wine, a particularly good value René Rostaing Cuvée Terroirs Cote Rotie 1997, that was hitting the spot with its cherry, leather and herbal profile, so there was no rush.

The kids were served first, with my youngest being ambitious enough to go for the pie of the day, rabbit and ham. Chunks of savoury rabbit had a pleasingly deep flavour and the salty ham was a tasty foil. The filling was juicy, tender and satisfying, wrapped in a crispy crust pastry that found enough favour with my son that he didn’t save me any for sampling! Being a typical 8 year old he kindly saved the Kale for me…

Hand Raised Rabbit & Ham Pie

Hand Raised Rabbit & Ham Pie

I went for the same as my daughter, Cockerham salt marsh lamb and Morecambe bay cockle pudding. This was a triumph of a suet pudding, remarkably light and seasoned with spicy black pepper. Chunks of lamb had been cooked to perfection leaving them meltingly tender but still full of rich meaty flavour and working in harmony with the soft, tangy cockles – a delicious combination that surely takes its inspiration from beef and oyster pie. The silky, creamed mash potato had a lighter touch with the butter than I’ve had at other establishments and was certainly the better for it with this particular dish.

Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb & Morecambe Bay Cockle Pudding

Cockerham Salt Marsh Lamb & Morecambe Bay Cockle Pudding

Also on the table was the main course from the very reasonably priced Sunday Roast special, slow roast belly of Bowland Pork. As it should be, this was meltingly soft with an exceptional flavour not just from the obvious quality of the meat but also the spices such as star anise that had permeated into the meat. The skin was crispy and provided enough crunch to match the tender pork. Kale and roasted root vegetables contributed plenty of interest alongside crispy roast potatoes, roasted apple sauce and a well balanced cider gravy.

Slow Roast belly of Bowland Pork

Slow Roast belly of Bowland Pork

The wonderfully sunny day had obviously brought out hordes of people wanting to enjoy what could be the last sustained sunshine before the winter draws in and it seems that they all wanted to eat at the Parkers Arms. With over 70 walk-ins on top of the reservations, the staff were stretched to the limit, not helped by being 5 short apparently. This manifested itself in longish waits between courses and stress in the kitchen spilling out with an occasional Ramsay rant. Understandable, but I didn’t really want my kids to hear that.

When the desserts did arrive, they were indeed worth the wait with the Clitheroe apple and custard tart coming first. Gorgeous presentation, first bite with the eyes stuff. The pastry base was crisp and thin, topped with caramelised apples and soft runny custard. The salted caramel wasn’t just for show, it added another dimension to the dish that kept me going back for more. I didn’t want to share this dish with my wife but something told me it was in my best interests to do so!

Clitheroe Apples & Almond Custard Tart with Salted Caramel

Clitheroe Apples & Almond Custard Tart with Salted Caramel

In exchange for what I had grudgingly left of the apple tart I got to try the Wet Nelly which seemed to be an interesting combination of fruit cake, Christmas pudding and mince pie. Sweet, filling and in need of the excellent crème anglais served with it, small portions recommended!

Wet Nelly

Wet Nelly

Last up was the chocolate melting pudding, which performed exactly as advertised. Again I didn’t try this but the sparklingly clean plate left behind was testament to my guest’s enjoyment of this particular dish.

70% Callebaut Chocolate Melting Pudding

70% Callebaut Chocolate Melting Pudding

This was a delicious meal with well executed cooking and priced extremely well, make no mistake there is some very good value here. We were left a little deflated by the service and the stress coming out of the kitchen but I suspect that had more to do with the weather and the number of people taking advantage of it than anything else. That certainly wouldn’t put me off returning in future and I would be very happy to recommend the Parkers Arms to foodie friends, just try and choose a quieter time!

I’d like to pass on my thanks to Andrew Stephenson for his recommendation and you can read his fascinating blog at the link below for more thoughts on North West England dining.

Andrew Stephenson blog

Parkers Arms website

Jermann Vintage Tunina 1997

Italian wine is often a bit of a mystery for me. I’ve drunk plenty of it over the years, I’ve done a bit of study on the place, read the books and spent holidays in Tuscany but I always feel overwhelmed by the sheer complexity of the country’s grapes, styles and idiosyncrasies. It’s often said that Italy has over a 1000 different indigenous grape varieties, how on Earth do you begin to get a handle on that?

Not one to be unduly deterred and applying myself with fortitude I went along to the annual Italian tasting hosted by Decanter magazine at the Institute of Director’s in central London. The big names are often at this tasting and it’s an ideal opportunity to taste wines from Sassicaia, Gaja, Antoninori and many others that I wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to. Interesting as these wines are, you generally know what to expect and the real pleasure lies in exploring the plethora of wines from unfamiliar regions and varieties, which is how I came across Vintage Tunina 1997.

Made from a blend of grapes grown in the Collio region of Friuli in Italy’s North Eastern corner this was quite simply the best white wine I tasted all day, by a long way. The grapes come from an area of 16 ha called ‘Ronco del Fortino’ and are first selected and then harvested about 2 weeks later than the non-selected grapes. Tunina is apparently the name of the first owner of the vineyard and also the name of Casanova’s poorest lover, who the wine is dedicated to. Poured out of an impressively labelled double magnum, this blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla and Picolit (yes, I know…!) was delightful. Powerful enough to fight through some of the tannic brutes that I had already tasted but keeping a sublime balance that kept  every component of the wine in delicious harmony.

The nose is almost like a Clare Valley Riesling, full of lime, chalk and tension but with a veneer of light smoke. Fascinating palate right from the first sip with a profusion of meadow flowers and ripe fruits with a rich vein of honey and just edging into maturity. There’s a remarkable richness to this wine that apparently doesn’t see any oak ageing or undergo any malo, but perhaps that explains the clean and focussed acidity that balances the wine beautifully. Elegant whilst retaining an electrifying power that suggests there is more to come. 95/100

Jermann website

A fine evening for Rosé

Chateau Pradeaux Rosé 2011

 

 

Yes, we’ve had a miserable summer but one of the joys about living in England is that the unpredictable weather occasionally throws up a gem of a day when you least expect it. The kids have gone back to school, I’m on days off between trips, and I could spend the day in the garden just enjoying this late burst of sunshine.  There haven’t been many 25C days in the Cotswolds this year but yesterday was a cracker so it seemed the opportune time try and recreate a long, lazy, warm Provence evening and this Chateau Pradeaux Rosé transported me an instant to the balmy shores of the Mediterranean in Bandol.

The colour of this wine is a subdued, pale orange rose but has a brilliant clarity to it that suggests a brooding elegance and invites you to quickly dive in. It’s a slow starter this wine, the nose is light but hints at the complexity to come. It only really gets going after a couple of sips. Delicate layers of flavour start to emerge from the glass, strawberry, mulberry at first but herbal notes begin to emerge including the wonderfully evocative ‘garrigue’ herbs. Nectarine, quince and peach take over and this is all supported by an insistent citrus acidity that carries a wave of minerality with it. Don’t expect a full-on assault of flavour, this is a wine that focusses on elegance and develops in the glass, enticing you back in with its ever-changing, complex and refined character.

 

 

Champagne Francis Boulard Rosé Brut Nature

It’s my wedding anniversary this evening so it seems appropriate to pull out a Rosé Champagne to celebrate with. Comprising 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Pinot Meunier, Champagne’s red grapes, a brief maceration of 10-12 hours gives the attractive salmon colour.

The estate has been working organically for some time and is currently moving towards a biodynamic approach for all of their vineyards. Short pruning, light inter-row ploughing, natural weed cover and biodynamic preparations complete the holistic approach taken by Francis and his daughter Delphine.

There has been a debate within the wine industry about disgorgement dates and their importance in determining which particular bottling of a non-vintage Champagne you are drinking so it’s refreshing to see that the back label specifies not just the disgorgement date (21/05/10) but also the bottling date (22/04/08), forward thinking indeed.

NY Times – article on disgorgement dates

Dr Vino – disgorgement 

Peter Liem – disgorgement 

Francis Boulard Rosé Champagne NV – Brut Nature

Good example of a zero dosage rosé Champagne. Whilst the fruit feels firm due to the high acidity, there’s none of the harshness I normally associate with zero dosage. Cranberry and strawberry with straw and a splash of citrus. Develops on the finish to leave a pleasantly creamy sensation.  88/100

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 1997

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 1997

Bordeaux is of course famous for its red wines but the region also makes some lesser known, superb white wines. These white wines are normally made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon while a splash of Muscadelle and other minor varieties can also be thrown in to the mix. 15 years can be considered to be significant ageing for a Bordeaux Blanc, with 10 years usually regarded as about right for the wines of Pessac-Leognan.

Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc is almost all Sauvignon Blanc but this vintage had 5% Semillon and 5% Sauvignon Gris  and received a fair bit of oak contact, probably fermented and aged in new oak.

Oak a touch dominant initially but doesn’t overpower the delicate Sauvignon Blanc and richly developed Semillon in the blend. Citrus, lemon and lanolin in a delightful interplay with the smoky oak which seems to integrate much better in 30 minutes or so. This is well advanced along the maturity path and probably on the way down but is delicious right now. 91pts

Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Trishna Restaurant – Mumbai

I know that this is supposed to be a wine blog but please forgive my indulgence in writing a brief post on a superb dining experience I had in Mumbai last night. I spend plenty of time in India, usually in Delhi but also a fair bit in Mumbai and I’m always on the look out for places to go in this remarkably vibrant city. It saddens me that many of my colleagues venture no further than the air-conditioned luxury of the Taj Lands End hotel in Bhandra and are unwilling to explore what the city has to offer. It may take a bit of effort to get around, it’s noisy, filthy in places, and utterly chaotic but there is a distinct vibe and energy to Mumbai that gives it a unique feel. And then there’s the food….

Given a firm recommendation by @TableforOne on Twitter to go to Trishna, I headed off there with one of my more adventurous fellow pilots. There was no need for a menu as Pooja had told us exactly what to have, ….. crab.

Image

‘Will this one do sir?’

The waiter brought out what appeared to be some sort of monster plucked from the depths of a subduction oceanic trench, one claw tied up with rope and the other clacking furiously, ready to sever my head cleanly!

The next time I saw this crab, it had been taken away and cooked in lashings of garlic butter and ginger.  The meat was succulent, tender and glistened with a sheen of melted butter. The ginger complimented the crab giving a fresh spiciness to the dish, enhanced by black pepper and perfectly cooked naan bread lending a satisfying crunch.

However, first up was Squid Koliwadi. Mildly spiced with cumin and red chilli, the fresh squid was as tender as I have had anywhere – it simply melted away in the mouth contrasting with the crunchy, spicy batter and finishing with a sweet smoky aspect.

Pomfret Tikka came in quick succession. Succulent again, the fish was just cooked and juicy throughout. There’s a step up in the heat level but the tikka spices and smoky edge were finely judged. Delicious!

We were instructed to order the Hyderabadi Dhal to accompany the crab which turned out to be an inspired choice. The lentils had a creamy, buttery texture but with depths of flavour I hadn’t thought possible with a dish that is essentially a side order. The dhal had a clear spicy backbone, but the cumin and coriander that it was laced with, offered an intriguing interplay with the gentle heat.  The combination of the crab and the dhal transitioned into a seamless dish of its own, balanced flavours, silky texture, sweet meat, gentle spices, full and creamy yet somehow retaining a freshness that delighted the senses.

The decor may be shabby and the wine list a bit of a disaster, but the Kingfisher worked just fine for our purposes and I’m confident that I’ll be seeing this restaurant again in the near future. Highly recommended!

Musarathon

Everywhere I turn at the moment I seem to bump into Ralph Hochar of Chateau Musar, not that I’m complaining of course because wherever Ralph goes there’s always a few bottles of Chateau Musar close by.

First up was London International Wine Fair where I attended a tasting with the legendary Serge Hochar who took over the winemaking in 1959. Serge has spent over half a century in charge of Lebanon’s most iconic wine, turning it into an internationally recognised and globally appreciated wine. He became Decanter magazine’s first ever Man of the Year in 1984 and when you hear him talk it’s easy to see why.  Full of enthusiasm and passion for his wines, his calm and affable manner draws you in to the Chateau Musar story which is about history, tradition and an expression of Lebanon’s high altitude Bekaa Valley.

Serge Hochar

Serge Hochar

All of us at the tasting were happy to listen to Serge talk and answer numerous questions but time was pressing and we had to move on to the tasting which began with Musar 2005 and Musar 1999.

Chateau Musar 2005

Structured, firm tannin with smoky fruit. Obvious Musar nose but this is hard and disjointed at the moment. Hide away in a dark cellar for at least 5 years!

Chateau Musar 1999

Richer, fuller and more developed. Sweet, ripe plum, red berries with supple ripe and integrated tannins. Creamy, enveloping body that is very balanced. Tobacco and leather on the very long finish. Delicious.

Chateau Musar White 2005

Not as oxidative as I expected. Creamy mouthfeel, spicy, lanolin, peach and honey with some smoky oak notes.

Chateau Musar

We were then treated to a magical array of mature vintages, 1974 and 1980 reds alongside 1986 and 1991 whites. Chateau Musar wines are some of the most age-worthy you are likely to find anywhere and they reward patience with complexity, subtlety and enormous pleasure.

Chateau Musar 1974

This is a beautiful brick colour with a truly evolved nose. Remarkably rich, silky and round palate. The tannins have long since melted to leave a wine that feels like crushed velvet. You could almost mistake it for a mature top flight Burgundy with its elegance and complexity of flavour that seems to float around the senses. Heavenly.

Chateau Musar 1980

A much deeper colour than the 1974, this wine is incredibly fresh still. Classic Musar flavours but this is soft, round and very well integrated. Vibrant with a fresh acidity. This wine constantly changes in the glass but retaining a rich elegance through to the cedar, tobacco and leather finish.

Chateau Musar White 1991

Dark amber colour with a toasty, smoky nose. The palate is very rich and creamy, nutty and balanced. Lightly oxidative intertwined with layers of herbs, marzipan and apricots all held together by tight acidity. Delicious.

Chateau Musar White 1986

A completely different wine to the 1991, this vintage was unwooded hence the much lighter, clear and bright lemon gold colour. the nose is lighter too, almost reticent. In comparison to the 1991 the palate is much more straightforward with a creamy lemon and lightly oxidative touch.

Ralph Hochar

Through the magic of Twitter, Ralph and I discovered that we were both going to be in Hong Kong at the same time. Ralph and the Chateau Musar team were in town as part of Vinexpo, the trade show that alternates between Bordeaux and Hong Kong. I was there as part of the day job and had flown in from Amsterdam via Mumbai, a quick shower and straight in to Stanley for a Chateau Musar dinner with a few Hong Kong enthusiasts.

Serge was also attending and it was a real pleasure to spend an evening in his company discussing the wines and his philosophy on Chateau Musar. Serge is such easy company and it was obvious that all around were not only comfortable in his presence but were positively engaged by his conversation and interest in life in Hong Kong.

This tasting brought another Musar first for me – Rosé. Not just any old Rosé but a 1994 vintage Rosé. We all know that Rosés are supposed to be drunk young so why bother with one that is 18 years old? Well the Musar Rosé is based on the white grape Obaideh, which is reputed to be descended from Chardonnay, and is blended with about 5% Cinsault. The wine is fermented and aged in French oak barrels and ages superbly, like the Musar White. I was astounded at how fresh and alive this wine was. Clear fruit profile, strawberry, citrus and apricot but also herbal and floral. I can’t say that I’m usually a fan of Rosé but this wine intrigued me and I couldn’t resist going back for a second glass.

Finally, I bumped in to Chateau Musar again yesterday. Not at a wine event but at an Indian food tasting of all places. Again Twitter played its part, having met the very talented Asma Said Khan at the London Wine Fair, I offered to try and pair some wine with her cooking. Asma very kindly invited me and a few Twitterati including my winemaking guru Nayan Gowda @vinosity and food bloggers Susan Wilk @ssusu_you and Florian Siepert @siepert, and amongst the wines brought to taste was a Chateau Musar 1998.

I’ll leave the food blogging to the experts but suffice to say that if you ever need somebody to come and cook the most amazing Indian food for a dinner party then you need Asma. Every single dish, of which there were many, was a delight of complimentary flavours and balanced spices. I have eaten widely in Mumbai and Delhi and Asma brought these flavours to the table but took them on to a whole new experience for me. This was fabulous home cooking that fully deserved the fulsome praise that was heaped upon Asma.

I was delighted that my Mullineux Kloof St Chenin Blanc paired extremely well with many of Asma’s dishes but was surprised to see how well Chateau Musar 1998 went with a fish curry. Never would I have dreamed of this combination but the emerging bright fruit of this wine complimented the meaty fish and the softening tannin didn’t react to the gentle spice combination leaving the butteriness of the dish to merge with the wine’s acidity.

I feel very privileged to have shared these recent experiences with Ralph and Chateau Musar. Once you have tried these wines it is difficult not to fall in love with them, their history, their nuances, their age-ability and of course the wonderful characters that are a part of the Chateau Musar family.

Best of English – Bolney Estate

Bolney Estate

Last week I was delighted to drive down to Sussex on a beautifully sunny English summer’s day to taste through Bolney Estate’s range of English wine. First planted in 1972 with Chardonnay, Dornfelder and Rondo, the estate has now expanded to cover 39 acres and includes further varieties such as Pinot Noir, Bacchus and Pinot Gris. Lying on a south facing slope close to the Sussex downs the bedrock is sandstone and is covered with Sussex loam. Fairly typical of many English vineyards the grapes are trained using a High Sylvoz system that keeps the deer away from the fruit and also allows a free flow of air around the base of the vines, helping to reduce the disease pressure from the moist English climate.

Plenty of investment in the winery and an attention to detail and quality have built this estate into a winery that England can be proud of on this Jubilee weekend. These wines are worth seeking out or better yet, take yourself off to Sussex and see the vineyard yourself on one of the estate’s tours

Bolney Vineyard

Sirrius RoséSirrius Sparkling Rosé

This is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Seyval Blanc that gives a raspberry and strawberry cream nose. Technically dry but there is a hint of residual sugar, which together with some lees character is balanced nicely by a refreshing acidity. Elderflower and green apple coming to the fore on the finish. A gentle mousse makes this a delicious aperitif.

Bolney Rosé 2011

Bolney Rosé 2011

60% Pinot Noir and 60% Pinot Meunier. These grapes normally go into the sparkling wine but a particularly ripe batch begged to be made into a still rosé. Light, refreshing, juicy berries, this wine isn’t pretending to be something serious, it’s fun, meant to be enjoyed casually and is perfect for those lazy warm summer days that hopefully will be returning to the UK soon!

Bolney Foxhole BacchusFoxhole Vineyard Bacchus

Fragrant, aromatic nose of white flowers, elderflower and English meadows. This is quintessential Bacchus with a precise palate of delicate roses. There’s no hint of the bitterness from too long a skin contact that detracts from so many other Bacchus wines. This is refreshing, balanced, elegant and finishes very long indeed. Pour me a second glass please!

Blanc de Blancs 2007

Spending 2½ years on the lees this English sparkling wine is as close to a good NV Champagne as you’re likely to find. Freshly baked bread and toasty with a light apple and quince fruit profile. This is a well made sparkling wine that displays balance and is fully deserving of its recent victory and Gold medal at the IWSC competition.

Bolney Foxhole Pinot NoirFoxhole Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

Spending 6 weeks in 2nd and 3rd fill oak barrels, ¾ of which are French and the rest American, helps to give a softly tannic wine that is dominated by cherry, raspberry and plum gently caressed by a whiff of smoke. Good quality English Pinot Noir is very hard to come by, often being overly acidic or displaying harsh green characters, but this wine fits the bill with its ripe fruit finish. This is supple, fun and thoroughly decent Pinot Noir, an English charmer.

Bolney Lychgate Red

Lychgate Red 2009

We’re getting a bit more serious with this wine and its concentrated cherry, plum and blackcurrant nose. Juicy ripe fruit is supported by rounded tannins and an acidic bite that gives some definition.  The finish is seasoned with a touch of spice and pepper. This blend of Rondo and Dornfelder shows that the UK can also make stylish red wines.

Cuvée Rosé awaiting disgorgementCuvée Rosé Sparkling 2009

Made with 100% Pinot Noir and spending 18 months on the lees, this sparkler is all about refreshing berry fruit flavours. It’s straightforward, refreshing and charming, drink it with friends in the garden and enjoy it for what it is, fun in a glass.

Bolney Views

Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2011

We’ve had a beautifully warm last few days in the Cotswolds recently and this evening presented the perfect opportunity to get to grips with another Platter 5 star wine, the Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc.

South Africa has taken Chenin Blanc from its heartland in the Loire Valley and made the variety its own. The styles are very different but there is no doubt that South African winemakers are doing something special with this grape. Led by Ken Forrester and his iconic FMC, South African Chenin Blanc is becoming well known and appreciated around the world for all its styles, clean and fruit forward, oak influenced, intensely sweet voluptuous stickies and incredibly complex Swartland White blends.

This well crafted wine from Sebastian Beaumont is barrel fermented in 400l French oak casks, only 15% of which is new. This allows the Chenin fruit character to express itself with just a supporting hint of oak given away by a light toast and merest whiff of vanilla. This is classic Chenin Blanc, apple, floral and edged with a touch of honey. The honey notes really brought out with the remnants of some Pecorino left over from the weekend.

Regular batonnage makes this a rich wine with a full body but acidity is well balanced giving a refreshing zesty feel. Allowing the wine to warm a little releases a second wave of new aromas, more stone fruit this time with apricot and nectarine but carried along with a wave of lime. Delicious stuff!

The finish is long and concentrated, pushing the apple character all the way through the spectrum.

5 Platter stars, well deserved indeed.

UPDATE – Stocks have arrived from South Africa and are now available from Vincisive Wines here

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