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.
So what happens at when Clive hosts a “Wine Table”? A small group (maximum of 12 people) of wine lovers, drinkers and thinkers gather around a table in front of Clive’s wine stall, with a tasting glass, tasting sheet and pens. It’s informal though with a purpose of sharing and enjoying wines. Everyone is introduced and then the wines come out.
Clive pours the wines without saying much about them to start with and lets the guests taste, discuss and make up their own minds about each wine before he shares more information about each wine. He normally chooses a mixture of wines; recent finds, small parcels that have just been brought in and old favourites that he stocks at the shop as well as new arrivals that he is exploring and wants to test.
And during the tasting there are food treats from the Goods Shed, from home made cheese straws, to fine Basque and Iberico charcuterie from the Patriana stall, to winter chanterelle soup from Jonny Sandwich, to Rafa’s take on patatas bravas from the Goods Shed restaurant.
The tasting on the 16th of November featured an interesting organic range from Can Majoral, Mallorca, a biodynamic Grenache from Roussillon plus a handsome claret and a fine Ribero del Duero. In addition there was an Arbois Vins Jaune, an Alsace Riesling and a Rhone red. There were two standouts, the San Roig from Can Majoral an ultra rich Cabernet Sauvignon which proves that Mallorca can make high class wines, and the Biodynamic Grenache from Roussillon, which at the age of 7 years had terrific energy and youth. Taste notes are below.
Can Majoral Butibalausi White, Mallorca 2011 organic (Premsal, Parellada and Chardonnay)
An interesting, gentle citrus scent, fresh and clean with a slight pine note which leads to a clean , crisp, fresh palate of medium weight. Certainly attractive and mouth filling it has a brightness which is refreshing and lends the wine to fish dishes and aperitif style.
J B Adams Riesling Nature, Alsace 2011 organic.
A wine with a light yet persistent aroma of lime and elderflower with a typical Riesling kerosene note haunting the background. The palate has a marked acidity, which for acid lovers is fabulous but for those looking for rounder styles this should be avoided. The acid drives the wine giving vivacity and life to the green apple and citrus fruit. Oh for some roast pork!
Fruitiere Vinicole Vin Jaune, Arbois , 2005
Following Raymond Blanc’s TV tour of France, I thought the Table should show a Vin Jaune. This had the yeasty flor-like nose with a terrific hazelnut depth and some ripe lemon and beurre blanc scents. Delicious palate , dry crisp acid cuts the oxidative notes and balances the richness and alcohol. Long finish, nutty and clean. A great wine experience.
Butibalausi Red, Can Majoral , Mallorca, 2010 (Callet, Manto Negro, Ull de Llebre, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon) organic.
A dark ruby wine with aromas of black plums, blackcurrant, leather and spice. A complex nose, fairly four square with a garrigue note in the background. The palate carried the sturdy , but accessible, character of the nose and with similar flavours but with the addition of a firm mineral element.
Can Majoral, Son Roig, pla I Levant, 2007 (Cabernet Sauvignon dominant with some Merlot and Syrah) organic.
A deep coloured wine, the glistening look of which promised a richness on the palate. The nose was laden with heavy kirsch, cassis and black fruit conserve scents, maintaining the promise and the palate then delivered. It was big, broad, unctuous, almost deep enough to spread on toast, yet balanced and vinous. The fruit characters were of black fruits almost cordial like but shot through with savoury edges. Very long and satisfying wine. Not a generic Bordeaux style, nor with the purity of Oz or the black cherry of Napa, more akin the intense nature of recent Pontet Canet vintages.
Can Majoral, S’Heretat, pla I Levant, 2006 (Callet, with a little Merlot and Syrah)
Broad structure, loose knit with an earthy core. A very different feel to the Son Roig, this has a Mediterranean character with herbal, pine notes, red fruits which are integrating well with dusty tannins. This is not in the classic style of Roig but is nevertheless an interesting, textured quality wine.
Les Amis de Bouissières, Vin de Table,Rhone, 2010 (Grenache, Syrah and Merlot)
Raspberry and white pepper nose with the baked garrigue of the southern Rhone create an attractive bouquet. The palate was driven by the alcohol, 14.5%, and carried some dusty fine tannins. This was a wine which caused most division at the table. Those not in favour felt it was short , those who enjoyed it liked the hit of Grenache and Rhone characters.
Chateau Lacombe Noaillac, Medoc 2006 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot)
The wine performed very well, delivering a classic black fruit, herbaceous and cedar nose, finely balanced palate with mellow yet firm tannins. It was very well behaved, ‘did what it said on the tin’, and made you happy to drink claret. Okay, so it is not a Grand Cru with the depth of that level , nor the price tag, but it delivers harmony and sophistication to the dinner table.
Ey, ‘Grenache’ Vins de Gaume’, Roussillon, 2005 Biodynamic
This is from a small bin end parcel purchased by Press Wine. Terrific Grenache suppleness and richness. The wine has great depth and breadth, still looks and tastes young, and carries that Biodynamic energy. There is the slight funk of Biodynamic wines, the hint of stemmy, very ripe fruit, fine tannins carefully extracted and Roussillon heat. Lovely exciting wine. At a great price…..but I only have a few bottles!
Bodegas Comanges, Ribero del Duero, 2007 ( Tempranillo)
One of the most popular wines at the Goods Shed this year has been ‘Biberious’, Ribero del Duero 2011 produced by Bodegas Comanges. This wine is the one that carries the name of the estate and it is a super, fleshy, modern style Ribero del Duero. It is not the firm structured style that takes years to shed its tannic carapace but one that, at five years, delivers layered fruit and spice with a velvet-textured mesh of fine, ripe tannins. It has harmony too and great persistence.
The next Wine Tables
Friday 7th and 14th December
Press Wine Services will be running a ‘Wine Table’ evening at which a selection of 8 wines will be opened and tasted. Corks will be drawn and the first wine poured at 7 pm; we aim to serve the final wine at 8.30pm.
This will be an ideal opportunity to try a superb range of wines which will partner many dishes over the Christmas period. The same wines will be tasted on each evening. The flights will include the following wines:
2010 Seguin Moreau Savigny les Beaune Blanc, Les Goudelettes; a precise and well structured white Burgundy which carries the minerality of Chablis and the weight of the premium vineyards of the Cotes du Beaune,
2004 Apollonio ‘Divoto’. Copertino: a fully mature deep and concentrated award winning red from Puglia. Ithas acomplex notes of spice , cedar and black fruits.
2009 Chassagne Montrachet Rouge, Jean Marc Pillot: a delightful red Burgundy from the fabulous 2009 vintage. Ripe and silky with a notes of sousbois and game.
2003 Quinta do Ventezelo Vintage Port; A ripe, powerful Black cherry fruit and spice fruited port. Drinking now but with a gutsy character to age further.
Places are limited to a dozen guests so please book as soon as possible. The cost is £ 10 per person, payable with your booking.
Hello and welcome to the blog where we will report on Press Wine Services events, tastings and thoughts on the wonderful world of wine (and food, of course).
This week we are involved in a get-together of artists for a Pure Hub event at Cobham which will be an international group from Britain, Holland and Belgium and English wines and beers will act as social lubricant! We will feature Kent wines Chapel Down and Biddenden and Hopdeamon beers.
On Friday we are holding the second Wine Table at the Goods Shed where we will taste wines such as JB Adams organic Alsace Pinot Blanc and some organic Mallorcan wines by Can Majoral, new to the UK, and a classic Chateau Lacombe Noaillac. Tickets for this tasting are sold out but you can book tickets for our next two Wine Tables to be held on the 7th and 14th of December (7 to 8.30pm, tickets are £10). Send us an email at email@example.com or call 07778640381 to book a space.
By the way, there are still spaces for the one day Wine Tasting courseto be held at Deesons on the 24th of November. This should be a great day to answer all your questions about wine and train your tastebuds. We will taste 12 wines during the day which will test your palate and show you different characteristics of wine. We will also enjoy a delicious two course lunch with the wines. The cost for the day’s tuition, the wines, lunch and tea or coffee is £79.00.