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Great Western Wine Blog

  • King Of The Desert | Giorgio Flessati Of Vina Falernia

    Giorgio Flessati

    By Angela Mount

    I love wines with a story. Ultimately whether one enjoys a wine or not, is all down to the taste and the style. However, there’s an added intrigue, or romanticism about wines, which have a fascinating background, either, because of their origin, or because of the person who made them.

    Recipes for wine stories don’t get much better than this: take one brilliant and eccentric Italian winemaker - Giorgio Flessati, undoubtedly one of the most respected winemakers in South America; transport to a cacti-populated, arid desert in northern Chile; throw in some vines; and hey presto, a few years later, the result is a set of award-winning wines, which defy belief, given their origin.

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  • 5 Reasons To Stay In This Weekend

    Night In With Dinner and Wine

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy spending my weekends out and about just as much as the next person, and love discovering new things to do and places to see, but sometimes there is nothing better than swapping your Saturday night out for the sofa and a pair of slippers, and here are 5 reasons why...

    Saving the pennies

    If you lead a relatively busy social life then it can definitely have an effect on your bank balance, so from time to time it can’t hurt to have a night in and save on spends.  It won’t take you long to discover that your funds go noticeably further at home too, so you can treat yourself without having to worry that you’re delving too deep into your pockets.

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  • In The Press | Top 3 Australian Cabernet Sauvignons

     

    The Telegraph | 3 Best Australian Cabernet SauvignonsThe Telegraph | Hamish Anderson

    Wine tasting notes: 3 of the best Australian Cabernet Sauvignons

    Wine expert Hamish Anderson gives the Heartland Cab Sauv a great review in his latest article including it in his top 3 choices from down under.

    2012 Heartland Cabernet Sauvignon, Langhorne Creek/Limestone Coast, £13.50

    "This is a richer style, without being overblown. The fruit is dark and ripe, balanced by freshening bursts of peppermint and spice. This tastes significantly grander than its price tag, and will develop over the next five years."

    Read it here: Telegraph wine review

  • The Perfect Partner To The King Of Roasts

    By Angela Mount

    Roast Beef is arguably the national dish of England with the sumptuous, succulent piece of meat served up at patriotic celebrations all over the country.  It graces our tables throughout the year at the heart of the family Sunday lunch, be it under slightly different guises; barbecued rib of beef in summer, pot roasted topside or silverside with root vegetables in winter.  So which wines are worthy of accompanying this magnificent traditional fare?

    Firstly, it really has to be red wine – a medium-bodied to hearty red that will match up to the rich juices, and savoury meat flavours of a great sirloin or rib. Once this decision is made, then roast beef is one of the easiest dishes to match with a red wine.  All you need to think about are the sauces, vegetables and any spices used to enhance this majestic homage to the country.

    In terms of a classic ‘made in heaven’ match, it has to be Bordeaux, or a Bordeaux style blend such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.  The world of Bordeaux is yours for the taking here, it all depends on budget.  For special occasions, push the boat out with classic Saint-Emilion, Pauillac and Margaux superstars.  If you’re looking for something more suited to the weekly Sunday feast, then the black fruit and cedar scented Chateau Sainte-Marie Bordeaux Superieur 2012, offers fantastic value.  Alternatively you could try a classic Rioja – the velvety smoothness, yet concentrated cedar and berry fruit richness of Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2009 would work well.

    Whilst Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes won’t really make much of a difference, the classic accompaniment of horseradish sauce, with its punchy, fiery and savoury heat will have some impact.  If you opt for this added flavor and choose to season your meat with something along the lines of a horseradish and black pepper crust, go for a bigger, bolder style of red.   The first of two great options is Australian Shiraz Heartland Spice Trader 2012, made by one of South Australia’s top winemakers, Ben Glaetzer.  This would definitely be a suitable guest for Sunday lunch with its full on richness and power.  The second is Ben’s iconic Glaetzer Bishop Barossa Valley Shiraz 2012, more suitable for those very special occasions.  Alternatively from Europe you have the option of a top quality Portuguese Douro red, the aristocratic Quinta do Crasto Douro Superior 2013 with its spicy, full-bodied, and sweetly scented flavours.

    And finally… there’s a good reason why steak and Malbec go together like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’s equivalent of the glitterball trophy to tango, with the ultimate combination of smooth yet powerful and seductive yet haughty.   The duo creates a blissful blending of two aristocratic components, both with presence, showmanship, and dare I say it just a touch of macho power.  The exotic richness of Carlos Pulenta’s Vistalba Corte ‘C’ 2012 Malbec, or the even more intense and sumptuous Vistalba Corte ‘B’ 2011 Malbec would make a charismatic pairing of English tradition and sultry South American charm.

    Whatever you choose, keep it simple and let the mouthwatering combination enhance those precious moments of Sunday tradition.

     

     

  • The Weekend Edit | Treat Yourself

    Treat Yourself This Weekend - Luxury CocktailsThings to do | Treat Yourself

    If you’re anything like me, then you’ll enjoy the benefits of treating yourself from time to time.  If it only happens once every so often then it makes it all the more worthwhile, and you don’t have to go overboard to reap the benefits either.  A little bit of luxury can go a long way, so this week definitely calls for a bottle of Ruggeri Prosecco, an award winner at just £16.95 per bottle.

    There’s something relatively simple in the fact that a glass of fizz creates an element of occasion, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that an occasion has to be had in order to enjoy a glass of fizz, does it?  Do we need a better excuse than the weekend?

    Continuing in the spirit of things, if you’re looking to venture out this weekend then here are a few suggestions of places to go across the UK that are sure to keep you feeling that extra little bit more special than usual.

    London – Penkul & Banks

    Penkul & Banks on Curtain Road in Shoreditch is one to visit ASAP before this too-good-to-be-true deal ends.  Every Sunday this twist of a tapas bar serves up its Japanese and European infused brunch menu in the form of two small plates with unlimited Prosecco for £25. The quirky decor is a great little bonus, the old cinema seats being a highlight for me, and the food offering is plenty to fill you up, with interesting (and exceptionally tasty) dishes along the lines of pork belly, fried egg, spring onion and Sriracha – my personal favourite.  There really are no strings with this deal either, so you can enjoy the bubbles all the way up until 2.45 if you want, and even trade them in for endless bloody marys if you’d prefer!  What could be a bigger treat than a boozy brunch on a Sunday?  They even offer Berocca and water for a £1 surcharge if you need that extra boost to pick you up from the night before.

    Manchester - The Lawn Club

    After their summer success in the hub of Spinningfields, The Lawn Club are soon to be transforming their venue into a festive, log cabin style retreat for Christmas and adapting their menu for the seasonal changes.  Now is the time to go and enjoy the last few summer cocktails before you’re immersed in the smells of cinnamon and mulled wine spices.  With new options for food and cocktails just around the corner,  why not go and relax in the tranquillity of their ‘enchanted gardens’ and enjoy a couple of end of season Prosecco cocktails before the festive chaos begins.

    Edinburgh - The Blackbird

    With more of a relaxed feel to it, The Blackbird offers a great selection of cocktails alongside a classic menu that would go down perfectly any day of the weekend.  This one is perhaps a little less ‘fizz’ than the others, but what it lacks in sparkle it certainly brings in charm, with some great one off cocktail recipes with a twist, to bring back that element of treating yourself.  It prides itself on having “probably” the best beer garden in Edinburgh, and hosts weekly live music sessions too, so you can’t go wrong!

    Leeds - The Alchemist

    Although located within Trinity shopping centre in Leeds, The Alchemist cocktail bar leads to its very own, heated wraparound balcony with fantastic views of Leeds city centre.  On top of this, it offers fantastically quirky cocktail concoctions making you feel as though you’ve landed in the middle of an Alice in Wonderland production, with everything from dry ice to strawberry caviar, and flaming cocktails, it’ll definitely be a weekend treat to remember.

     

  • Intoxicating Patagonian Blend

    Intimo Tinto, Humberto Canale 2013
    Patagonia, Argentina

    An intoxicating blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Intense ruby colour. Complex and elegant nose, with red berries and notes of vanilla and tobacco. In the mouth the wine is medium-full bodied with ripe dark fruit flavours and a hint of oaky spice. Yum Yum!

    £9.95 £8.76

    +10% off 12 btl’s

  • Tried & Tested | Madeleine Shaw | Chickpea Flour Pizza

    madeleine Shaw Chickpea Pizza

    I’ve been noticing a growth in the health food industry lately, with new ingredients popping up left right and centre, and alternative options to the treats we’d normally get a slap on the wrist for, being launched every day. This isn’t such a bad thing though, as it’s no longer people drilling it into us that we need our 5 a day, but individuals being original and creative with their recipes to produce meals that are genuinely healthy without ditching the flavour.

    Madeleine Shaw is one of those creative people; a qualified health food nutritionist whose #gettheglow ethos is that eating well will not just keep you looking good, but improve the way you think and feel too. An avid blogger of the recipes she designs, and exciting new foods she creates, she regularly shares her ideas and advice with the world so I thought I’d give one of them a go.

    I chose this recipe for a couple of reasons – I’m always interested in seeing if something like a pizza can actually be made the healthy way and still taste great, as I’m sure a lot of you are sceptical too! The other selling point of this one, is that the ingredients list includes items that I’m sure I’ll use again, so no unnecessary purchases (I always seem to get left with some sort of futile ingredient from my more experimental recipes that stays in the cupboard for years).

    So, this is another easy one to follow, and it really doesn’t take too long – there’s just a 30 minute resting period for the batter, but I used that as a great excuse to open up the bottle of wine I’d chosen to match with the food. With it being pizza, I opted for a classic Italian red, the Via Nova Merlot. I wanted an easy drinking wine that had some fruity flavours to play off the light tomato sauce on the base. The combination was definitely a winning one, and got me thinking that this would make a great plan for a Friday evening with friends. Everyone could bring a topping, so between you there would be plenty to choose from, and the Via Nova is a bargain by the case at just over £6.50 per bottle with free delivery, so the more the merrier!

    Ingredients (Per pizza/person)

    60g chickpea flour/gram flour

    60ml water

    1 tsp of thyme

    2 tsp of coconut oil

    Grind of pepper

    2 tbsp of tomato passata

    Toppings of your choice

    Ingredients (Kale pesto)

    85g cashew nuts

    3 garlic cloves

    150ml olive oil

    85g kale

    1 pinch salt

    Juice of zest of one lemon

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Method – Pizza

    Preheat the oven to 200CMix the flour, water, salt, thyme and pepper together and leave to sit for 30 minutes

    (Open your bottle of wine and put your feet until its ready)

    Heat the coconut oil in a small/non stick frying pan on a medium heat

    Pour in the chickpea batter and cook for about a minute

    Flip it, and cook for a further minute on the opposite side

    Place the base on a lined baking tray

    Smear over the passata and your chosen toppings

    Bake in the oven for 10 minutes

    Method – Pesto

    Blend together everything but the olive oil

    Slowly mix in the olive oil

    Add the kale pesto to your pizza when it is removed from the oven

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Final recommendation – I used a sprinkling of Goat’s cheese as one of my toppings which tied together all of the flavours perfectly and added that extra element of gourmet pizza too!

  • 5 Ways To Wind Down After The Weekend

    5 Ways To Wind Down After The Weekend

    Whether you’ve been taking it easy or had a pretty hectic weekend, it can often be a shock to the system getting back into the working week routine, especially after that dreaded Monday morning alarm.  Sometimes all we need is a little extra time to wind down, so we can dip our toes in the water rather than plunge straight into our 9-5 schedule (or for most perhaps it’s more like 8-6).

    There are just a few ways you could go about this, and Monday evening is realistically the best time to give it a go, so first things first....

    Try and switch off

    It doesn’t take long for the hustle and bustle of the office to get everyone’s stress levels rocketing but it’s only the first day of the week, so pace yourself.  There’s plenty of time to fret later, so instead, get home and open up a lovely bottle of wine.  If you’re tired of the classic red or white decision, opt for a change and try out an Argentinean Malbec Rose; a combination of fruity flavours with a crisp, dry finish.

    Cook a meal

    There’s no need to be too adventurous with this, but cooking is known to be quite therapeutic, so throwing together a basic meal could be just the thing you need, and the perfect opportunity to make the most of those leftover ingredients from the weekend!

    Watch a mini series

    Other social commitments may not allow for this in the long term, but working your way through a mini-series can be an incredibly effective way of giving yourself an instant time out.  There is a risk here however, that you can get hooked onto the likes of Sherlock (my personal favourite) but there’s nothing better than a quality British drama that you can really sink your teeth into.

    Give yourself a change of pace

    This may come across as a little unnecessary, but it’s very apparent how quickly we all go into autopilot and run around like headless maniacs, quite simply, because everyone else does it.  Take your time doing something for a change – even if it’s just a stroll to the shops rather than a quick scurry down the road, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes!

    Have a bath

    N.B. This one is not just directed at women out there.  There seems to be a misconception that relaxing in the bath is a very feminine pastime.  But what’s not to love? Maybe you can take or leave the candlelight and bubbles but a glass of wine in the bath is something that we can all appreciate, and the perfect way to finish off your wind down evening so that maybe, you’re a little more prepared for the rest of the week ahead!

  • Weekend Edit : Where To Eat

    We all love to indulge at the weekend, that’s what all of our hard work in the week is for isn’t it? This doesn’t however, mean that we have the time to get clued up on what to do and where to eat by the time you’ve finished that endless Friday in the office!

    To make things a little easier for you we’ve taken a look at some of the top places to eat around the UK this weekend, from the latest hotspots, to some old favourites, there’s always a range to choose from in your nearby cities.  So, after work this evening, sit back, relax, and enjoy a refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc while you ponder what plans to make over this weekend.

    London – Little Bay Restaurants

    This is one that I discovered very recently and have since been twice, so it’s safe to say that I highly recommend, and with sites in Farringdon, Kilburn, Croydon and Brighton, they pretty much have a location to suit everyone.  A great little find if you’re looking for a memorable venue, great food and even better value.  I’d say the decor is half of Little Bay’s charm, creating a bohemian and extravagant environment with hidden away balcony booths that are perfect for small tables, with elaborate red and gold furniture that is sure to make you feel like you’ve been taken out of London for the evening.  Founded by Peter Ilic, who is credited with an impressive background working at some of the best restaurants across London, this influence is very apparent in the food, creating a strong menu of modern, European and French cuisine.  You can expect dishes along the lines of choux de crab with citrus hollandaise, duck two ways, and a sea salt pecan tart.  Did I mention that with their early bird menu you could get all three courses for £11.95 too?

    Bath – Hudson Steakhouse

    A firm favourite amongst the team in Bath, Hudson Steakhouse is located in a beautifully renovated, Victorian ‘edge-of-town’ pub.  With prime, dry aged steaks being the main focus on the menu, this is complimented by dishes with clear Asian influences and the usual delicious classics, not to mention their award winning wine list.  With starters beginning at £6.95 and prime beef up to £33.95, there’s a lot of scope with this menu, so you can make the experience your own.

    Norwich – Appleyard & Co

    Norwich’s Appleyard & Co on Exchange Street offers an interesting and original tapas menu if you’re looking for a bite to eat without the fuss of a serious sit down dinner.  The wine bar environment creates an energetic atmosphere where you can enjoy a quick drink with some live entertainment, and this week you can experience the delights of Norwich Cocktail Week too.  The menu has some great options worth exploring whilst you’re there; from lamb bobotjie with banana chips to breaded sardines and caper mayonnaise, all ranging from £3-£7, if you’ve not popped in already, this weekend is the perfect time to pay a visit!

    Manchester - Bakerie

    With the rising trend in artisan breads, deli style sharing boards, and small plates, I thought Bakerie was definitely worth a mention.  Having been around for a while now, it’s settled in well just off Stevenson Square and is continuing to provide Manchester’s Northern Quarter with a well thought out and varied menu, all based around wonderfully baked bread!  There are plenty of options available, ranging from light bites at around £5 to mains at £10-12, and the menu is adaptable for gluten free, dairy free and vegan diners, so no need to feel left out.  If you’re looking for an alternative to your classic roast dinner then take a look at the Sunday boards they have to offer for a nice twist on the norm.

    Newcastle – Dabbawal 

    I’ve been a big fan of the ‘street food’ trend of recent years because it enabled me to experience new flavours and discover new cuisines on quite a broad scale.  The outdoor venues for events I’ve visited in the past are great for sampling small and varied selections, but now the weather has turned, it’s time to look for somewhere that can sit us inside and keep us warm whilst offering the same style and quality of food that we’re looking for.  Dabbawal in Newcastle fits the bill perfectly, offering Indian street food in a tapas style, consisting of a range of small and large plates from £1.95 - £14.50.  The open kitchen here still provides that feel of involvement and an outdoor environment too, so the experience doesn’t lose its charm.  My recommendation if you looking to try something a bit different would be the Jaffrani Salmon, but take your pick and try a selection, there’s plenty to choose from!

    Edinburgh - Timberyard

    This award winning, family run restaurant in the heart of Edinburgh is definitely not one to miss.  Priding themselves on sourcing their produce from small, local, artisan growers, their ethos is strong and their menu speaks wonders, with the quality being clear from the ingredients list alone.  There are a number of choices available, including an 8 course tasting menu at £65, bites from £4 and mains from £15 depending on time of day and which ‘space’ you choose for your meal.

  • Great British Bake Off: The Final

     

    As we often like to match up wine with key savoury dishes, we thought it might be nice to do something a bit different and test out a ‘sweet treat’ recipe instead.  So, in celebration of the Great British Bake Off final we tried the Good Food Magazine’s baked fruity autumn pudding recipe.

    Big congratulations of course go to Series 5 winner, Nancy Birtwhistle, after her triumphant efforts in the final episode with both the technical challenge and the show stopper round in which she created an impressive pièce montée consisting of choux pastry, caramel, sponge, and petit fours.  Nancy's final creation took her a total of 5 hours to make, but I'm sure you all don't have that kind of time put aside for baking, so this little recipe should hopefully be a little more achievable...

    This deliciously autumnal fruity bake suits a quietly confident baker, no expertise necessary, just someone who is quite happy in the kitchen.  It’s a relatively simple pudding to make, with basic and individual steps, so no overwhelming timing issues to trip you up, and it works just as well prepared in advance and reheated in oven the following day.

    I enjoyed a Bogle Viognier from Clarksburg California with this, and would happily do so again!  The refreshing pear and apricot tastes compliment the mix of fruit flavours in the filling of this dessert perfectly.  Finish it off with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream to melt over the dish and you’re good to go!

    Baked fruity autumn pudding (serves 4-6)

    You will need:

    Parchment paper & Foil

    Pudding basin (1.2litres)

    450g mixed autumn fruit (plums, peeled apples, pears + blackberries)

    2 tbsp butter (+ extra for greasing)

    200g caster sugar

    1.5 tsp cinnamon

    300g self-raising flour

    140g shredded suet

    Zest of 1 lemon

    String

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Method (Prep 25 min – Cook 2 hours)

    Lining the tin:  Heat the oven to around 180C (gas mark 4).  Cut 2 x 5cm strips of parchment and lay them up the sides of the basin, forming a cross at the bottom of the dish and leaving some overhang at the edges.  Grease again.  Lay a square of foil and square of greased parchment paper on top of each other, folding a pleat down the middle.  Put aside.

    Making the filling:  Chop the fruit into 1cm cubes and place in a bowl.  Break up the butter and add to the bowl with the cinnamon and 125g of the sugar.  Stir and put aside.

    Making the case:  Sift the flower into a mixing bowl.  Mix in the suet, remaining sugar and zest.  Add a sprinkle of water, working through with a cutlery knife, and keep adding until you have soft dough.  Bring the dough together into a smooth ball using your hands.

    Tear the dough into ¾ and ¼ parts and roll the larger portion into a rough circle (approx 20cm).  Drop this into the basin and press up the sides until you have a slight overhang left.  Tip the filling into the pastry case.  Roll out the remaining ¼ to make the lid, and press the casing edges together to firmly seal, tucking the remaining parchment pieces over the pastry.

    Getting it in the oven:  Put pre-made foil/parchment layer on top (foil side up), pressing and squeezing the foil around the edges to create a fitted lid.  Tie string securely around the top, making a handle with extra doubled up string preventing any tricky manoeuvres once the dish is piping hot!  Put bowl in a deep roasting tin and poor boiling water to around 1-2cm below foil line.  Cook for 2 hours, topping up water levels when needed.

    Unwrap, release edges using parchment tabs and invert onto a plate, taking care when hot.

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