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Monthly Archives: April 2015

  • Wines from the Garden of France - The Loire

    If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you’ll love the Loire: this is birthplace of the world’s most popular grape, with world-beating examples from Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé and Menetou Salon. But if you’re all Sauvignon Blanc-ed out after our Kiwi promotion, fear not - this is also the place to go for whites like Chenin and Muscadet, and even reds and rosés from Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais grape Gamay. Hey, there’s even some fine fizz to be had from the areas of Vouvray and Saumur.

    This is a region ripe for exploring, so take a glimpse at some of the Loire’s best kept secrets and a few of its more familiar names. Read on...

    Everyone’s heard of Muscadet, so certainly not a secret to most - but this is a wine that is making a serious comeback due to the upsurge in finding perfect partners for seafood like oysters, lobster and mussels. The grapes are grown in the far west of the Loire, with influences from the Atlantic Ocean and the rivers Sèvre and Maine that flow into the Loire itself. Fresh, tangy and zesty are the watch words here – try the Château du Poyet, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine sur lie Vieilles Vignes 2013 and see for yourself.....

    Vouvray is not just one style, but several – it can come as sweet, dry or fizzy depending on the vintage. It is made from a single grape variety – Chenin Blanc - now more famous from the likes of South Africa; but these are the styles that winemakers there have always alluded to. Try Domaine Didier Champalou’s dry-ish style of Vouvray, full of honeyed apple and pear flavours that is benchmark Chenin. Or you could go for the deliciously bubbly version, rarely seen outside the area – like a more complex Prosecco, but just as fun.

    Another refreshing fizz is the apple and pear scented Domaine de Brizé Saumur Brut NV, while its pink counterpart, Domaine de Brizé Saumur Brut Rosé NV, uses the red grape Cabernet Franc to great effect. This is a wine full of cranberry and summer fruits, alongside crunchy apple and redcurrant notes.

    As well as Cabernet Franc, the reds of the region can be made from Gamay, a grape made famous by the Beaujolais region. Domaine de Pierre’s Gamay de Touraine 2013 has a juicy palate of liquorice, strawberry and red apples – the perfect summer red to serve lightly chilled alongside a cold meat platter of salami and air-dried ham.

    But if you can’t break away from the allure of the enchanting Sancerre, there are a few interesting variations on the theme. The world’s most famous Sauvignon Blanc (outside of New Zealand’s Marlborough) is omnipresent in Loire, mainly in the east, far from the likes of Muscadet. Sancerre may well be the best known incarnation of the grape in France, but Menetou Salon, and especially Pouilly Fumé, give this wine a run for its money. Try Alain Cailbourdin’s superior take on Pouilly Fumé with his Cuvee du Boisfleury Loire Valley 2013 or the oak-aged splendour of his ingenious Triptyque 2011.

    Sancerre is not just a white wine appellation though - producers like Domaine des Vieux Pruniers make a fine Sancerre Rosé from Pinot Noir, a delicately pink, elegant wine with fresh fragrances of strawberries, raspberries, crushed leaves and minerals.

    One rival to Sancerre’s Sauvignon Blanc crown in terms of value for money and sheer drinking pleasure is another of Domaine de Pierre’s wines, the Sauvignon de Touraine 2014. A favourite at GWW HQ, this neat Sauv Blanc is full of herbaceous notes of mint and sage as well as lime, gooseberry and a hint of elderflower. This wine offers unbeatable value, especially on promotion; one to snap up now and drink over the long, lazy summer weekends ahead.

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Alan's Wine of the Week: Château du Vieux Parc La Sélection Corbières

    "A smoky red from the southern French area of Corbières – but with a difference. Forget the cheap ’n’ cheerful stuff you may have quaffed in the 1980s – this is a seriously good wine, aged in French oak for real definition. This blend of Carignan, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre comes from vines aged over 50 years old. Old vines mean less juice for the winemakers to play with, but more concentration of aromas and flavour. Get ready for a rich, rugged red, full of redcurrant black pepper, herbs and hints of liquorice."

    Château du Vieux Parc La Sélection Corbières

    Was £13.95  Now £12.28

    Prices above are valid from 29.04.15 to 31.05.15

    Free delivery over £100 | 5% off 6 bottles | 10% off 12 bottles


  • Tried and Tested: Chicken Saltimbocca & St-Veran

    This week’s dish is an Italian classic, usually made with veal, but here substituted with Chicken. The flavours of the recipe are bold, with strong herby notes from the sage and rosemary, as well as asparagus (a difficult food and wine match). Add to this some acidity supplied by the roasted tomatoes and lemon, salty prosciutto ham, and some curry-ish caramelised nuances from the sauce, and you have a challenging wine pairing exercise.

    With asparagus served on its own you’d probably reach for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire or Bordeaux, and tomatoes would certainly match well with the naturally high acidity in the wine.

    However, the range of complementary flavours here call for something more rounded, like a lightly oaked, fruity style of French Chardonnay from southern Burgundy or further South.

    It’s those caramelised notes and salty ham flavours that work brilliantly here with the Domaine Paquet Saint Veran 2013: The wine has all the hallmarks of a good Mâcon but has been ramped up a notch with the subtle hints of oak you’d expect from Chardonnay made further up the region in the Côte-d'Or. The southern sun rounds the palate, giving the wine a luxurious feel, while the balanced acidity works well with the lemon and tomatoes in the dish.

    With complex flavours like those in my Chicken Saltimbocca you need a well textured wine, along with solid, yet discrete, flavours on the palate.

    This lovely St-Veran provides a very useful backdrop that showcases rather than competes with the flavours of the chicken itself.

    Chicken Saltimbocca – Serves 2

    Ingredients

    • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets
    • 2 sage leaves
    • 2 slices prosciutto
    • 1 tbsp olive oil – plus more for potatoes and asparagus
    • 2 tbsp Marsala / dry Madeira / Palo Cortado Sherry
    • 100ml chicken stock
    • Half lemon
    • Handful cherry tomatoes
    • Packet asparagus
    • Potatoes for roasting
    • Sprig rosemary
    • 4 whole garlic cloves

    Method

    Pop a roasting tray with olive oil into an oven pre-heated to 180°C. Par-boil the potatoes for 10 mins, drain, combine with the garlic and rosemary, then empty into the roasting tray with a twist of salt and pepper. Cook for approx 45 mins.

    Lay chicken breasts on a chopping board and cut through the middle horizontally. Open up the meat like an escalope and place a sage leaf on top of each. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around the centre, cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin to flatten and amalgamate the ham and sage.

    After around 30mins, pop a small roasting tray into the oven with a splash of olive oil  - this will be for the asparagus to roast. Let this pre-heat for 10 mins, then cook the asparagus for approx 10 mins.

    Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add the chicken breasts, prosciutto-side down. Cook for 2-3 mins until the meat colours, then turn over and cook for 3 mins more. Pour over the fortified wine of your choice from the list above and cook for 1 min.

    Remove the meat and let it rest in foil for around 5 mins while the tomatoes are cooking alongside the asparagus.

    Add the stock to the frying pan and reduce to make a light sauce. Pour any juices from the rested chicken into the sauce before serving.

    To serve, lay the asparagus on the plate and top with the rested chicken. Arrange the cooked cherry tomatoes on top and drizzle with the cooking juices /gravy and a squeeze of lemon. Help yourself to the crunchy, herby roasties on the side. Enjoy!

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Wines In The Press

    Wines In The Press

    The independent on Sunday praises Crossroads:

    The Independent on Sunday’s Terry Kirby selected his wine of the week for Sunday lunch, Crossroads Winemakers Selection Cabernet Franc 2012. The wine is currently on offer as part of our New Zealand Promotion, so get it while you can...

    “A superlative offering from a small, carefully managed concern in New Zealand's Hawke's Bay, using grapes grown on the fabled, ancient Gimblett Gravels riverbed. Fresh, blackberry fruits, a touch of mint and some spice: satisfying and elegant. Goes well with all lighter roast meats.”

    Parker Points for Prosecco....Ruggeri style:

    Robert Parker has given top scores to Ruggeri for two Proseccos from the current 2013 vintage - a sure sign that high quality Proseccos are starting to be appreciated for their unique style and finesse:

    “The excellent 2013 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Giustino B. Extra Dry is dedicated to Giustino Bisol, the man who founded Ruggeri in 1950. Fruit is sourced from some of the highest altitude vineyards in the appellation and consequently shows an extra degree of crispness and bright sharpness. The aromas are clean and fragrant with white flower and sweet citrus in center stage. I have experimented [with] the aging capacity of Giustino B. and have found that the wine does remain intact for three years or more. As it ages, it gains more aromas of candied orange and butterscotch.”

    92 points.  Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

    “The 2013 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Vecchie Viti Brut is made from the oldest vines (some more than a century old) found in the Valdobbiadene territory. This is a fantastic expression that boasts an outstandingly high level of brightness and definition. Drying mineral notes create contours for mildly fragrant layers of peach and blanched almond. The wine should hold for a few more years although it is best consumed in the immediate term.”

    91 points. Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Food & wine matching with Yealands wines

    I love to cook; I’m fascinated by scents, flavours, and how they marry together, or clash horrifically. I’m also obsessed with finding just the right wine to go with different styles and flavours of food. Many dismiss this, and don’t reckon it’s that important. They could be right – if you’re not really interested in wine, and just want a glass of something to enjoy, that’s fine.

    However, it’s a fascinating experiment, and when you put food and wine matching to the test, it proves that the wrong combination can ruin either the enjoyment of the wine or the food. I put this into practice this week,  training staff at a top end Indian restaurant. I made them taste wines with a variety of dishes – what worked well with creamy, coconut- based curries, clashed violently with the drier, herbier, tomato-based dishes on the menu; and the same happened in reverse. The reaction of the team was just what I wanted to see, from a smiling agreement to a glorious match, to a shuddering grimace when the combination didn’t work out so well.

    Over the Easter weekend, I decided to experiment with a few new recipes and ideas, most of which had some form of spice, herbs or fruit involved.  Aromatic whites and a juicy red seemed to be the logical matches, so I decided to put some of the lovely Yealands wines to the test.

    I’ve always enjoyed, the fresh, elegant, aromatic styles of wine that Tamra Washington, Yealands, head winemaker, produces. My selection included Yealands Sauvignon blanc, Yealands Riesling, the quirky Yealands PGR, Yealands Estate Pinot Gris, and Yealands Pinot Noir.

    Yealands Estate RieslingFirst up on my culinary weekend fest was a salmon and tuna ceviche, which I’d had marinading for 24 hours,  in the traditional lime juice marinade, spiced up with a chunk of ginger and a  chilli pepper; this was served alongside salmon gravadlax, with a mustard and dill sauce. The Yealands Estate Riesling 2011 was a scintillating, zingingly-fresh match with the ceviche, both bursting with vibrant, tongue-tingling fresh lime flavours, which brought out the very best in each other. The Yealands Estate Sauvignon blanc 2014, was a worthy runner up.

    This year’s Easter Sunday roast, was chicken with a twist – a cheerful, Caribbean twist,  Jerk Roast Chicken. There are a thousand and one variations on the spices and herbs used in Jamaican Jerk seasoning . My version included the ‘must have’ spices that define the dish – Allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon, mixed with brown sugar; add to that a chopped up handful of herbs, cracked black pepper, garlic, shallots and the obligatory chillies, plus some freshly grated ginger.

    Mixed with a splash of rum, and some soy sauce, this then was pasted onto the chicken, and left for 24 hours before  roasting.

    Yealands Estate PGR Pinot Gewurztraminer RieslingThe heady, sweet, savoury, rich aromas and juices, made for a real challenge.   The Riesling, which had worked so perfectly with the ceviche was completely overpowered. Next up was one of my favourites from the range, the baby of the range Yealands Estate PGR 2014 ( a blend of Pinot Gewurztraminer Riesling). I had high hopes for this wine, with its nutmeg and ginger- flecked fruit. However, even this was no match for the dominant presence and pungency of the allspice and cinnamon.   This needed something weightier, fleshier and bolder.

    Yealands Estate Pinot Gris

    Step up Yealands Estate Pinot Gris 2013, in all its richness and glory. It’s natural spice and sweetness, tempered and got the allspice under control and managed to bring out the more subtle flavours and scents of the other elements in the marinade. It was a clear and worthy winner in this particular challenge -  I didn’t have a bottle of the Yealands Estate Gewurztraminer, but I reckon that would have been a great supporting act.

    Yealands Estate, Winemaker's Reserve 'Gibbston Valley' Pinot NoirIt proves, once again , the need to balance the wine, to the most dominant flavor, in this case allspice. In terms of red wine,  I didn’t look beyond  the sumptuous, majestic, multi-award winning Yealands Estate Winemaker’s Reserve ‘Gibbston Valley’ Pinot Noir 2013, whose fleshy, silky, spicy sweet flavours, were intensified by the rich sweetness of the powerful flavours of the jerk chicken – however, the heady sweet allspice, would have overwhelmed a more delicate Pinot Noir.

    Easter Monday saw fish back on the menu for a relaxed Bank Holiday lunch – Salmon roasted in a soy, honey and ginger marinade, with a crunchy little Asian-style sweet and sour salad. Finally, the Yealands Estate PGR came into its own;  this exotic blend mingles the fresh acidity of Riesling, with the richer, peachy Pinot Gris, and is topped off with a dollop of scented, voluptuous Gewurztraminer – the result is a delightfully lively, spiced, yet fresh, aromatic white, with flavours of apricot, nutmeg and ginger.  A wine of different components, yet balance – just like the fish and the salad, which combined sweetness, spice, saltiness, and lots of different textures, from the creamy richness of the salmon, to the crunch of the salad.

    Food and wine matching shouldn’t be taken too seriously – but getting the right match definitely makes a difference; what’s more it’s fun to do, and provokes great conversation. Next time you have guests, be bold, try something out of the ordinary, buy a few bottles of different styles, and work out your own best matches. I never cease to learn!

    By Angela Mount

  • Burgundy Dinner at Allium Brasserie

    Last week Great Western Wine held their Burgundy dinner at the fabulous Allium Brasserie in the Abbey Hotel, Bath. GWW’s Fine Wine Manager Tom King and Allium’s Head Chef Chris Staines had devised a food and wine matching menu which showcased fresh, seasonal produce paired with a selection of white and red Burgundies. Master of Wine Jancis Robinson was also in town that night, but this didn’t stop over 60 people booking for the event – 20 more than rival Jancis!

    Tom’s knowledgeable, yet accessible, style chimed with the guests who had come to sample some of the world’s most sought after wines. Tom’s aim was to compare and contrast a snapshot of the region, proving that ‘terroir’ played its part in creating the unique flavours in the wine. He also highlighted the effect of vintage, ageing and climate on the style.

    The night began with a glass or two of Domaine Paquet Saint-Véran 2013 and some delicious nibbles, served in Abbey Hotel’s newly refurbished bar. Saint-Véran is an appellation next to the more famous Pouilly-Fuissé, sharing its soils and style. From further south than any other Burgundy at the tasting, Tom explained how its geographical location in the warmer Mâconnais gave the wine a more rounded, fruity style than the Chablis we were about to try with our meal.

    As Tom pointed out, Burgundy is a big region, with the area of Chablis some 100km from Dijon, a city which marks start of the famous Côte-d'Or, home to the likes of Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault and Montrachet: travel another 130km and you get to the Mâconnais in the south. With such a large region, and minute changes in soils and climate even within the vineyards themselves, Tom said that his purpose was not to cover every aspect of Burgundy as that would be impossible. Instead he would provide “little pictures of Burgundy” that we could see evolve as they interacted with food.

    Our first wine and food match was Poached Cornish oysters with Watercress and Asian Pear paired with two different wines; a Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2012 from Domaine Louis Michel and a Chassagne-Montrachet 2012 from Domaine Bernard Moreau.

    Head Chef Chris Staines has a background in Michelin-starred fine dining, from heading up Foliage in London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel to working alongside Marco Pierre White at the three starred Oak Room. His attention to detail was evident in the first course – the finely chopped spiced pear bathed in a watercress velouté and punctuated with pearl-like oysters – but his love of Asian food also shone through with the hints of fresh ginger seasoning the dish.

    On its own, the Domaine Louis Michel Chablis Premier Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2012 was both richer and more minerally than the Saint-Véran. The style was also different than most Chablis you’d be used to – rather than the simple crisp, lemony, briny textures you’d expect, the premier cru was very complex with a salted honeycomb nose, hints of popcorn and touches of lemon and fennel. On further inspection, Tom suggested that you might also detect a whiff of brie rind and the flavours of white strawberry:  It’s a wine which “punches above its weight”, he added.

    Chablis is a classic with oysters and some people say you can detect hints of oyster shell in the wine itself; the shells are certainly present in the soils of the area, once an ocean bed. The wine and the food tasted leaner and more minerally when paired together, bringing out the briny seaside flavours of the oyster.

    Over 100km away from Chablis, the Burgundies of Montrachet and beyond are richer and more full bodied, like Domaine Bernard Moreau Chassagne Montrachet 2012. This is a world away in style, with butter and orange notes on the nose with hints of caramel, almond and cooked lemon on the palate. The Chassagne might not have been the obvious choice with the oysters but the Japanese-style construction of the dish matched well with the wine’s richer flavours, heightening some tropical fruit nuances and hints of smoke. Although Tom preferred the leaner, saline qualities of the first match, the Chassagne was crowned the overall winner by the guests.

    The second dish was Roast Breast of Landes Duck with Lettuce Purée, Fresh Garden Peas and Roasted Figs, paired again with two different wines, but this time from the same year and producer: Domaine Harmand Geoffroy’s Gevrey Chambertin En Jouise 2011 and Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques 2011.

    Although Tom thinks that Burgundy is all “hints and suggestions” he said that the 2011 vintage has a distinct herbal, tobacco character. In terms of “suggestions”, Burgundy wine tasting notes often sound implausible for a drink made out of grapes – cheese, bacon, oyster shell and ladybird (?!) are all to be found.

    It should come as no surprise then that the Gevrey Chambertin En Jouise had hints of smoky bacon, savoury almonds and cheese rind, as well as some of the more usual fragrances of vanilla spice, red cherry and green tobacco. I was amazed at the nutty aroma from the wine – like a fine Montgomery cheddar served with a dry Madeira.

    The Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques was utterly different - more mineral in texture and aroma, with fine acidity – it seemed incredible that the wine was made by the same winemakers, in the same area, in the same year. Although I found the En Jouise more appealing at first, I soon realised that the more bashful Lavaux St Jacques was opening up, showing unbelievable levels of fragrance and refinement. Both wines had intensity, but the Lavaux had a finesse and florality that marked it as the premier cru.

    But, everything changed with the food – although the Lavaux St Jacques was the perfect match for the duck and sweet pea, the addition of the roasted fig challenged the wine a little too much. The En Jouise , a premier cru in everything but name, became deeply cherryish with hints of old dusty cupboards and earth, the concentrated, savoury sweetness of the fig transforming the pairing.

    Rather than a pudding (no sweet wines in Burgundy), Chris and Tom stuck to cheese for the last pairing of the night. Two Burgundian cheeses were presented with a white and a red, to see which wine went with which cheese.  Tom pointed out that contrary to popular belief white wine is often best for matching with cheese. He explained that white wines have less structural components than reds so have a wider choice of partners.

    The two Burgundies were from older vintages - Domaine Jobard-Morey Meursault Poruzot 1er Cru 2006 and Domaine Laurent Roumier Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 2003. The white Meursault came from a warm vintage and during its ageing process had developed complex flavours of saffron, iron ore, apricot and almond. At almost 9 years old, it was a great match for the truffley cheese, Brillat Savarin aux Truffes.

    The red Clos Vougeot Grand Cru was from a very hot year, 2003, and this made it less obvious that it was an older vintage. Tom thought its fruit profile was almost New Zealand in character; rich velvety and less ‘old world’ than you’d expect. The fruitiness was a nice foil for the funky, smelly Ami du Chambertin cheese – his time the cheesy whiff was from the cheese rather than the wine.

    This was a really enjoyable night, my first GWW event, and a very memorable one at that. The night was brilliant value too – the wine itself would have cost more that the price of the ticket, let alone the delicious food created by Chris Staines.

    So, get yourself booked on one of GWW’s future events before they sell out – it’s a great way to learn about wine and lots of fun too.

    By Chris Penwarden

    Read the Crumbs Magazine review here

  • Alan's Wine of the Week: Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir

    "One of my favourite Pinot Noirs, made by Carrick in Central Otago’s Bannockburn sub-region. Here the reds are juicy yet complex, helped along by the cool climate of this beautiful winemaking area. This is a Burgundian style Pinot at Kiwi prices, full of red berry and black cherry aromas and hints of spice. Try this in the sunshine, with an al fresco lunch of roast duck, chicken or charcuterie." 

    Carrick, Unravelled Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2012

    Was £15.95  Now £14.04

    Prices above are valid from 01.04.15 to 30.04.15

    Free delivery over £100 | 5% off 6 bottles | 10% off 12 bottles


  • Tried & Tested: Classic Spag Bol and Biferno

    Spaghetti Bolognese - the essentials

    Everyone has a favourite Bolognese recipe and here is mine.

    The secret to this one is the fennel seed which adds a really interesting fresh, herby note. Classic Italian sausages are made with fennel and so this serves a similar purpose here.

    The pancetta is also important: British bacon just doesn’t cut it. The slightly spicy nutmeg and white pepper notes from the pork are essential.

    The minced beef has got to be full fat too – the lean stuff ends up stringy and dry and is not fun to eat. You can always skim off the fat before you serve, but please don’t strain until the end.

    The ingredients I’ve highlighted as requiring ‘good quality’ are other essentials – don’t skimp on these. It’s worth paying extra because the flavour is so intense that you can eat less of it and feel utterly satisfied.

    Another essential ingredient is the accompanying wine - you shouldn't skimp on that either...

    Wine match

    With this classic Brit-Italian favourite I thought I’d try the new version of an all time GWW classic – the mighty Biferno. Bolognese is an everyday meal in households up and down the land, but here I've upped the ante, creating a dish which is made with respect for ingredients we often take for granted. Likewise, Biferno is an ‘everyday wine’ – competitively priced at £8.50 and so an affordable indulgence. But, Biferno really does punch well above its weight – it’s a weekday wine which still has the ‘wow factor.’

    The 2009 is older than previous incarnations of Biferno, spending time in oak. The wine is still really fresh, but the time spent in barrel has added a weight and texture to the wine, as well as those comforting aromas of vanilla and spice. The flavours of cherry, plum, herbs and spice are a great accompaniment to the rich meaty sauce of the Bolognese. The acidity of Italian reds also makes them the perfect match for tomato-rich dishes like this one.

    As an experiment I tested the wine against a rogue supermarket Bordeaux priced at £5.99 that had been brought by a dinner guest. No offence to the guest but the wine tasted like vinegar in comparison! For a couple of quid more you get something that is ten times better – a bit like the ingredients for the Bolognese sauce. You can afford everyday luxury, you've just got to know where to find it...

    Ingredients:

    Serves  4

    Soffritto

    • Tablespoon olive oil
    • One red or white onion
    • One carrot
    • Two celery stick
    • Two garlic cloves
    • One fresh bay leaf
    • Sprig rosemary

     

    Sauce

    • 200ml red wine
    • Can good quality chopped tomatoes eg Cirio
    • Two tablespoon good quality tomato purée eg Cirio
    • Beef stock cube – good quality eg Kallo organic
    • Half can water
    • Half finger rind of Parmesan

    Meat

    • 500g minced beef - must be 20% fat
    • Pancetta cubes – 65g
    • One teaspoon fennel seeds – crushed in a pestle and mortar
    • Splash of Worcester sauce

     

    To serve

    • Good quality parmesan cheese – 24 to 36 months aged
    • Cooked spaghetti, penne or tagliatelle – the choice is yours

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Method

    Make a ‘soffritto’ by finely chopping the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, then frying at a low temperature in olive oil. Add the whole herbs and continue to gently cook until soft.

    Add the pancetta cubes and fry until the fat renders down, then fry the minced beef, combining with the crushed fennel seeds.

    Cook the tomato purée for a minute or so and add the Worcester sauce. Add a large glass – approx 200ml of red wine – and reduce by about half.

    When reduced, pour in a can of chopped tomatoes and half a can of water. Warm through and then add the beef stock cube and allow to dissolve in the liquid.

    The parmesan rind is not a deal breaker, but it does add some creamy richness to the dish; add this if you have some spare to hand. Make sure you discard the rind before serving.

    Cook the Bolognese sauce on a low heat until it is rich and flavoursome - around 1 hour. Serve with your favourite pasta and lashings of aged parmesan.

    Enjoy!

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Wines In The Press

    Wines In The Press

    Fizz

    Camel Valley Cornwall Rosé Brut 2012

    Ridgeview Grosvenor Cuvée Merret Blanc de Blancs 2011

    This week Olly Smith suggested to readers that they should “Celebrate St George's Day with a glass of English fizz.” The Mail on Sunday's wine man recommended two GWW fizzes - Camel Valley Cornwall Rosé Brut 2012 and Ridgeview Grosvenor Cuvée Merret Blanc de Blancs 2011.

    Olly called  Camel Valley’s Rosé “spendidly summery” while saluting the “award-winning zesty glory” of Ridgeview’s Blanc de Blancs.

    As Olly says, “my personal collection of English sparkling wine stretches back beyond the year 2000 and I’ve been a believer for many years that we can produce bottles to rival the world’s best fizz.”

    Make English bubbly your go-to fizz this St George's Day - it's a great celebratory wine to toast the occasion on its own, but is also a brilliant accompaniment to that other British classic, fish and chips.

    White

    Trimbach’s Cuvée Frédéric Emile

    The Telegraph’s Nick Trend reported back on the joys of a wine-tasting holiday to Alsace in his article Alsace wine tour: In search of the world's greatest white wine.  

    He said he was, “full of anticipation because, about 20 years ago, I tasted a wine which, because it was so unexpectedly delicious, has lodged in my memory ever since.” The wine in question was Trimbach’s Cuvée Frédéric Emile which he described as “steely dry” with “an almost ethereal freshness.”

    Red

    Poliziano Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 2011

    Wine Enthusiast magazine has just given this trusty Tuscan a score of 90 points – no surprise for the folks at GWW HQ who have been shouting about it for some time now. Montepulciano is situated in the Tuscan hills on soils with a higher percentage of sand than the limestone-dominant areas of Chianti Classico or Brunello. In the hands of superior producers like Poliziano, the sandy soils and warmer climate here can create ethereal, deeply aromatic wines like this one. It’s rich and well structured, with an intense perfume of juicy, ripe, dark fruits.

    By Chris Penwarden 

  • A World of Malbec

    In celebration of Malbec World Day here’s a selection from the widening world of Malbec, with wines from France, Argentina and Chile... and, what's more, you can buy the wines below as part of a specially selected six-pack for £59, including delivery - today only!

    Malbec IGP Pays d'Oc, LeducMalbec IGP Pays d'Oc, Leduc 2014

    Languedoc is fast becoming the go-to place for brilliant value wines, especially white varieties like Picpoul and Chardonnay – the ideal soul mates with local seafood. But back in Blighty, eating al fresco is not always guaranteed, except for the obligatory wind-bashed barbecue. Step forward France’s best kept secret, Malbec; barbecue’s best friend. This rich, fruity style has heaps of cassis and dark plum, with a hint of spice on the finish - the perfect wine to accompany the smoky wafts of smouldering wood and memories of long summer days in Montpellier and Beziers.

    Chateau Bovila Malbec, CahorsChateau Bovila Malbec, Cahors 2012

    Stepping up a gear we have Bovila’s Malbec from the grape’s homeland in Cahors, an area just below France’s famous Bordeaux region. In the old days you’d find a splash or two of Cahors Malbec propping up the lighter styles of Bordeaux, but nowadays Cahor’s deep, tannic wines have been mellowed, with more attention to using good quality oak and picking deliciously scented fruit. The rustic styles still exist, but winemakers like Bovila use altitude much like their Argentinian cousins, producing cool climate, minerally Malbec with hints if candied peel, redcurrant and Assam tea. Steak anyone?

    Arido MalbecArido Malbec 2013

    Our first Argentine Malbec is made by our good friends at Tomero, a company located in the Maipu area of Mendoza. This region is renowned for its juicy, fresh Malbec; the climate and soils supplying the perfect conditions for world class wine. This is an unoaked Malbec, made in a style designed to showcase ripe fruit flavours over spice and vanilla. It is a bright, fragrant wine with hints of blackberry, cassis and espresso on a smooth, plump palate. An excellent introduction to Argentina, and just perfect with lamb chops or rare breed butcher’s sausages –barbecued of course!

    Tomero Malbec Valle de Uco MendozaTomero Malbec Valle de Uco Mendoza 2013

    Tomero is named in honour of the hard working men who sustain the water supplies that feed the grapevines of Mendoza. Tomero’s vineyards are set in the picturesque Uco valley at an altitude of 1300m. The higher the grapes are grown, the thicker the skins become; providing essential UV protection. Those thicker skins mean intense colour and flavour, as well as more structure from the grape tannins. This Malbec has flavours of plum and blackberry, intermingled with hints of spice and vanilla -  a voluptuous accompaniment to charred meats and unctuous sticky stews.

    Vistalba Corte C MendozaVistalba Corte C Mendoza 2013

    A firm favourite at GWW HQ, Vistalba’s Cote C is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and local grape Bonarda. This is another wine hailing from the famous region of Mendoza, this time from a district called Luján de Cuyo. The grapes are hand harvested from old vines dating back as far as 1948, then treated to around a year in oak barrels. It’s a superbly balanced blend, full of rich black cherry fruit alongside complex nuances of spice (black pepper, aniseed) and herbs (dill, mint). There’s no need to remind you how good it is with a rare ribeye or sirloin is there?

    Viña Falernia, Malbec Reserva, Elqui ValleyViña Falernia, Malbec Reserva, Elqui Valley

    Chile is also a brilliant source of fine Malbec, especially when made by a winemaker like Giorgio Flessati in an area like Elqui Valley. Giorgio was making wine in the cool climate Trentino hills of Italy before he and cousin Aldo discovered the potential of this region in the north of the Chile. Falernia is now the country’s northernmost winery, using altitude and proximity to the sea as a way of producing fresh, vibrant, modern Malbec. Another BBQ-friendly red, packed full of kirsch, violet and dark chocolate flavours with a hint of dried herbs and vanilla oak.

     By Chris Penwarden

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