I was very impressed with Eat Drink Kent’s website and their great work promoting Kent produce, so I was delighted to be asked for an interview for their “Behind the Scenes” series. Here is the interview, where they asked me a bit about how I got to be Master of Wine, my favourite wines and, very pertinently, some Christmas wine recommendations.
I visited the Barnsole Vineyard (in Staple, very near Canterbury) yesterday and met the owners. We tasted a few of the wines and discussed the difficulties of the 2012 vintage. Sadly Barnsole, like other English vineyards, has been badly affected by the poor conditions at flowering during the cool, damp spring. As a result the harvest is down by 50% on whites and slightly more on the red grapes. The outcome will be fewer bottles of their wines (on average they produce 8,000 each year) and one cuvée instead of the usual two of the white wine. The good news from the vineyard is that they will be planting some Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir next year and extending the winery. So the prospects for the future are looking good for sparkling wine, a lighter Pinot red and some delicious Bacchus.
We tasted a number of the wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages and now I will stock three of the wines at the Goods Shed in Canterbury. They will be the light, fragrant and off dry Canterbury Choice Pilgrim’s Harvest 2010 (£10.50) made from Huxelrebbe, which gives the wine a gentle muscat scent and flavour, the Canterbury Choice Dry Reserve 2011 (£11.95), a powerful , textured dry white made from Reichensteiner, with green apple and citrus notes carrying a whacking 14% alcohol (my first 14% er from this island, and that’s with no sugar addition!) and the Canterbury Choice Red Reserve (£12.00) made from the Rondo grape, plus a little Regent and Pinot Noir. This gives a cranberry and leaf fruit with smooth tannins and pleasing balance.
We stock quite a few English wins at Press Wine Services at the Goods Shed. From Kent: Biddenden, Throwley, Sandhurst and Barnsole; from East Sussex: Limney Brut (sadly there will be no Dry White until the 2013 vintage); from West Sussex: Nyetimber and Stopham; and from Cornwall we stock Camel Valley.
Rafa, head chef from the Goods Shed restaurant, and Clive regularly get together to offer Wine Dinners, gastronomic evenings to celebrate the best produce of the season, matched with wines. On the 22nd of November they held an Autumn Dinner at the Goods Shed and here are the wine notes and some photographs of the night.
Welcome drink: Cava, R J Mur
Cava, R J Mur Robert J Mur’s Cava had a very positive character with notes of lemon and apples amid a gentle persistent stream of bubbles. Unaffected by the earthy notes that can sometimes be found on lesser Cava this is clean and fresh, making it a satisfying aperitif.
Sea Food Canapés
Mara Martin Godello, Spain, 2011. A terrifically bright and refreshing wine from the DO of Monterrei. Made with the Godello grape it had an apple blossom scent, fine lean structure but with ample fruit to flesh it out. I had come across the wine before and thought about taking it on but I must confess to being grateful to a customer named Zena who had tasted the 2011 and recommended it. It was a great wine to balance against the fresh seafood canapés. Lovers of Albarino should try the Godello as it has a similar structure and weight; perhaps Godello lacks the finesse of the Albarino but it is a delicious wine nonetheless.
Venison, Prune and PX Terrine with Piccalilli
Es Verger, Ses Marjades 2007, Mallorca Organic. Hailing from the Serra de Tramunta in the hills (the vineyard is at 500m) of Mallorca this wine was the hit of the evening. It has a very ripe nose, not surprising given its alcohol level of 15%, with notes of prune, black cherry and a range of spices. The oak element is well integrated now and after 4 year in bottle the wine is showing a lovely maturity. The fruit and spice flavours went well with the terrine as did the richness and firm tannic underlay of the wine.
Duck Confit with Celeriac Mash and Quince
Gulfi, Ceruosolo di Vittoria, DOC 2011. Organic. The Gulfi estate is very highly regarded in Italy and it is easy to see why after tasting this wine. It is full of character giving a real juicy mouthful with freshness and ripeness in equal measure, the tannins give a light grip and the marked acidity the freshness, the fruit is black cherry and fig. Gulfi is renowned as a Nero d’Avola specialist, with several single vineyard wines in production, but the Ceruosolo is a blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola. The wine performed well on its own but missed out to the Marsannay as the best to accompany the duck.
Domaine Vieux College, Marsannay Rouge ‘les Recilles’2010 . Domaine Vieux College is a little known domaine from northern Cotes d’Or and covers a few hectares. Its wine, both red and white are made with care and precision. The ‘Recilles’ showed very well with Pinot notes of wild strawberry, spice and leaf on a gentle elegant palate. It matched the duck confit very well confirming gamey characters, adding a touch of fruit and opening up the sweet duck fat.
Poached Comice Pear with Kent Cobnut and Honey Ice cream
Ancienne Cure Monbazillac 2009 Utterly, delightful white yielding up white peach and dried fruit aromas with a mid weight palate and its freshness balanced by sweetness from botrytised and dried grapes. The alcohol at 12.5% gave a lightness of touch to the wine and it made it perfect to accompany the pear fruit.