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Monthly Archives: June 2017

  • Stylus Vinyl

    May: What's in the box?

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    For the May edition, Stylus have hit the summer switch with New Order’s Power Corruption and Lies. Breaking away from their Joy Division roots, New Order made a real statement with this album, marrying the rockier elements of their past to a more electro-synth style to create this timeless classic.

    We’ve paired this masterpiece with a wine that also makes a real statement. The Mas Amor Rosado made by Franck Massard packs a real punch. Bolder in colour and flavour than many trendy pale rosés, its richer character is a winner with food. The album's cover of roses is a fitting match to the name of the wine: Mas Amor (meaning more love) as well as both wine label and album cover being derived from pieces of graffiti.

  • SUMMER LIFE THROUGH ROSÉ-TINTED GLASSES

    Chilled pretty pink wine is a summer staple according to Angela Mount. Here are a few of her favourite suggestions...

     

    There are things in life that evoke a strong sense of place and season; for Summer, near the top of the list must be the salty, ozone-fresh tang of the sea, the soothing sound of waves lapping a sun-drenched beach, the incessant chirping of crickets on a warm Mediterranean evening, the exhilarating, cooling splash of a clean dive into a glitteringly azure pool – the list goes on. We’ll ignore the smell of diesel and hot tarmac on the M5 to Cornwall for the purposes of this piece. Memories, perceptions, associations – all buried for eternity in our brains and senses.  And for me, and many, the sight of a chilled glass of tremulously pale pink wine, with tiny beads of condensation shimmering down the sides – and of course the aroma and taste, as you take that first, welcome sip - immediately conjures up the thought of holidays and downtime.

    Is the scene now set in your mind?  Regardless of where you’re reading this, and even if our lovely city is downcast beneath leaden skies, in a familiar deluge of rain, let me transport you to sunshine and relaxation for just a few minutes, and encourage you to pick up a few bottles of wine, of the pink variety, to enjoy this evening, whatever our maverick weather pattern may throw at us.  We wine writers harp on about how rosé isn’t just for Summer, and I’m one of them (I happen to think that Rosé is about as good as it gets with Middle Eastern food, and also a great deal of Asian food, all year round) – but, you can’t get away from the fact, that it always seems to taste just that bit better in the sunshine.

    Enough of mindfulness exercises, now that I’ve hopefully transported you to a happy place, here’s what will be chilling in my fridge, of the pink vinous variety, this Summer….

    Whilst there are some fabulous rose wines from the New World, I’m sticking to a European theme this month. Firstly, let’s talk about the contentious subject of which shade of pink.  Rose wine has been done no favours by the presence of lurid, neon-pink hued, cloyingly sweet wines from big brands, which dominate supermarket shelves – and therefore the perception is that, the deeper the colour, the sweeter the wine. That’s not strictly true, as the colour is all down to how long the winemaker leaves the grape juice on the grape skins to soak up the colour. But the style ‘du jour’ is definitely pale, driven primarily, by the recent phenomenal success of ‘Riviera Rosé’, more properly known as Cotes de Provence. Last year, in the UK, we drank over 12 million cases of pretty pink wines, with Provence Rosé at the top of the pile.

    Chateau Gassier ‘Le Pas du Moine’ Cotes de Provence 2016, is the wine that transports me back to the lavender fields, sleepy villages, and chic beach restaurants of Provence, although Great Western Wine have an enviably wide selection of other options also.  With its ethereal pale peach colour, and entrancingly gentle flavours of wild strawberries, pomegranates, and wild provencal herbs, this award-winning wine from a family-run estate, pretty much sums up Summer in a bottle; and even more so in an impressive magnum ( big bottle) for £29.50, which can’t fail to impress guests and imbue the feel-good factor. Simply add tuna nicoise, and you have the Riviera on your doorstep.

    Staying with the ethereally pale, onion-skin theme, one of my long-standing favourites is a delicately- scented pink from Sicily, Planeta Rose 2016, from the island’s leading wine producer. Gossamer-pale in hue, with a pretty floral label, it epitomises the perfect Summer aperitif. The colour and lightness of this wine belies its origin and proves that, with care, the hot, southern Mediterranean isn’t all about rich, voluptuous reds. Fresh, fragrant, with pink grapefruit, lemon peel, and gentle red berry flavours, chill it right down and enjoy with a platter of antipasti, or the freshest of seafood. It’s my go-to picnic pink.

    Moving on to Spain, I recently discovered the deliciously fruity Sierra Cantabria Rioja Rosado 2016. Bone dry, and seductively perfumed, it has a similarly pale colour, but a bit more oomph and weight than many. I recently had the enviable task of matching wines to the delicately spiced and fragrant dishes created by local Iranian cookery school teacher Simi Rezzai-Ghassemi, and this emerged the star. The bright, raspberry and wild herb-stashed, super-fresh style makes it a brilliant food wine with juicy prawns, grilled salmon, middle-eastern dishes, and tapas.

    And finally, to prove my point about colour, a dry rose with a much bolder pink colour, and an equally bold, funky, graffiti-inspired label.  The appropriately named Mas Amor Rosado 2016 (meaning more love), is bright and breezy, packed to the brim with succulent raspberry and all manner of red berry fruits. Bursting with character, this one’s the pink of choice for barbecues, chargrilled prawns and piri-piri chicken.

    And there you have it - your Summer Rose collection has arrived. Enjoy.

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    It's that time of the week again when the team at Great Western Wine make a selection of delectable fine wines from around the world for you to taste for FREE. Come on by the Bath shop to sample the below beauties...

    Whites/Rose

    Eurizione Bianco, 1614 Carricante

    Producer: Planeta

    (SWA Gold, Decanter Silver)

     

    Peregrine Pinot Gris 2015

    Producer: Peregrine Wines

    (SWA Silver)

    .

    Fiano di Avellino 'Bechar' 2016

    Producer: Caggiano

    (Decanter Silver)

    .

    Grande Réserve, Organic Rosé, Cru Classé 2016

    Producer: Chateau Sainte Marguerite

    (Decanter Silver)

    .

    Reds

    Quinta do Crasto, Douro Reserva, Old Vines 2014

    Producer: Quinta do Crasto

    (IWC Gold)

     

     

    Planeta Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese 2014

    Producer: Planeta

    (SWA Gold, Decanter Bronze)

     

    .
    Umani Ronchi Lacrima di Morro d'Alba 2015

    Producer: Umani Ronchi

    (SWA Gold)

     

     

    Humberto Canale Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013

    Producer: Humberto Canale

    (IWC Silver)

  • SOUTHERN ITALY

    Tristan explores the ancient indigenous sun-kissed vines of Southern Italy

    Whether you’re heading there on holiday, or just looking for some great alternative summer wines to add to your shopping list, this month’s column explores a few of southern Italy’s ancient indigenous grape varieties.

    Fiano has been cultivated in southern Italy for two thousand years. Volcanic slopes surrounding Naples in Italy’s Campania region are the grapes traditional home, producing one of Italy’s great white wines, Fiano di Avellino, but Fiano does well in other regions, too. Mandra Rossa Fiano 2016 from Menfi in south-west Sicily is one of my top tips for a reasonably priced summer white wine.

    At the risk of sounding like a wine toff, this really does taste like Sicilian sunshine in a glass. A refreshing well-balanced medium-bodied white, where ripe exotic tropical fruit flavours are tempered by a refreshing lick of basil-like herbs and an edge of citrus to make your mouth water. Deliciously drinkable and good with all manner of simple summery fish, vegetable, pasta or chicken dishes.

    Indigenous to eastern Sicily, Carricante has been grown the slopes of Mount Etna, for over a thousand years. Etna is Italy's largest and most active volcano, and the Planeta 'Eruzione 1614' Carricante 2015 is named after her longest eruption in 1614 which lasted over 10 years. Made from vines planted at 800m on Etna (Carricante performs best at altitude) by Planeta, one of Sicily's most respected and pioneering winemaking families, this is a remarkably fine, stylish, fresh and elegant wine.

    Pretty floral aromas pull you in for a mouth-watering sip where the intense sensation of minerals marries with crisp green apple and lightly honeyed citrus flavours, carrying the wine to a satisfyingly long, fresh and dry finish. Utterly delicious. I could happily enjoy a glass of this on its own in the heat of summer, but it'd also be great with grilled white fish, seafood risotto, crab linguine or pan fried scallops.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a better value Italian red than Biferno Rosso Riserva DOC Palladino 2012. The wine comes from Southern Italy’s second smallest region, Molise, on the other side of the ‘leg’ from Naples, nestled between neighbouring Abruzzo and Puglia and flanked by the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea. Molise is rustic, agricultural, and relatively ‘undiscovered’ in terms of both tourism and wine - meaning there’s great value to be found here.

    Made from Montepulciano, one of southern Italy’s superstar grapes, blended with the ancient dark Aglianico grape for extra depth and richness, the wine ages for three years in big old Slavonian oak barrels to soften it and add complexity. Full of slightly dusty rustic charm, with mouth-watering sour cherry flavours, a hint of spice and refreshing savoury herbs. Smooth, quenching and interesting enough to enjoy on its own, but with enough boldness to pair with grilled meats, pizza, and hearty meat or aubergine based pasta. A fantastic staple wine to stock up on, and well worth the money.

    Discover more at Tristan’s Southern Italy & Islands tasting on 12th July at Great Western Wine. Tickets are £15. Click here to book now >

  • Spirit of the week

    For those that would like to keep cool during these warm summer days, we have the perfect gin cocktail recipes to inspire you…

    Forest Gateau Martini

    Ingredients
    35ml Brockmans Gin
    35ml Dark Chocolate liquor
    25ml crème de Fraise des Bois
    3 fresh raspberries

    Add all ingredients into a shaker and hard shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with freshly grated dark chocolate shavings.

     

    Brockmans Berry Tea

    Ingredients
    50ml Brockmans Gin
    25ml Elderflower Cordial
    35ml Red Berry Puree
    20ml Lemon Juice
    Chilled Red Berry Tea

    Shake all ingredients apart from the tea with ice. Strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with tea and stir. Garnish with crushed ice, a long thin slice of cucumber, a blackberry and a small sprig of mint.

    Brockmans and Tonic

    Ingredients
    50ml Brockmans Gin
    25ml premium tonic
    A peel of pink grapefruit
    A couple of blueberries

    Fill your chill glass of big ice cubes. Add a double measure of your favorite gin. Pour the tonic gently on a swizzle spoon to keep the fizz. Twist the pink grapefruit peel before watching it sink into your drink. Garnish with a couple of fresh blueberries.

     

  • SAKE: AN INTRODUCTION

    By Angela Mount

    I’ve written, talked about, and judged wine for more years than I care to remember, but last week, I went back to school – Sake school to be exact.  With an extensive range of this specialist Japanese rice wine hitting the shelves at Great Western Wine, I decided it was time to re-learn how to differentiate between my Futsu-shu and my Daiginjo.

    Sake, in its simplest terminology is an alcoholic beverage made from rice, water, yeast and a mould called Koji. Its history and long heritage puts the traditional wine industry in the shade – forget 13th century Tuscan dynasties, sake breweries date back over 2000 years. There are now over 1200 breweries across Japan, most of them still following centuries-old traditions, and many of them still tiny family-owned businesses.

    Sake wasn’t really on my radar until a couple of years ago, when, as a Panel Chair at the International Wine Challenge, I witnessed the scale of the IWC Sake, which was running alongside; 1300 Sakes, 60 judges, a mix of Japanese and non-Japanese experts from all over the world, including a team from the Sake Samurai Association, a junior council of the Sake Brewers Association, which is in charge of the IWC project, and who are doing a great job at promoting Sake in new ways.

    Chris Ashton, Director of the International Sake Challenge told me “We do what we always do; we provide the platform for sakes to be judged objectively. We advise, we help. Japan does the rest. And they do an amazing job by using these awards to promote rural and lesser-known areas.  In Fukushima in 2015, the Champion Sake was used as part of the re-generation of the whole area after the nuclear disaster. Fukushima was back on a world stage for its products. The Governor used it to promote the region. The brewer met the Japanese Prime Minister and his sake was given to the G7 leaders as a gift. Everyone benefitted”.  This is now happening all over the country, and increasingly, internationally.  The Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s accredited Sake courses are proving increasingly popular, and specific Sake lists are popping up on restaurant lists all over London and now, beyond.

    To the layman (me), the process of making Sake seemed extraordinarily complicated, the descriptions and classifications even more so.  The only way I managed to learn was by going back to basics and equating the classifications, as much as I could, to my more familiar wine territory.  Comparing blended whisky with single malt is probably another good way of referencing the complexities and intricacies of this increasingly popular drink.

    For wine enthusiasts reading this, think about Bordeaux classifications – we start with Bordeaux, then we move up to Bordeaux Superieur, then to maybe Medoc, and finally to Pauillac.  If you apply a similar principle to Sake, it makes understanding the subject a whole lot easier.

    In the simplest of terms, a Futshu-su Sake is entry level, likely to be volume scale.  Move up a level and you’ll get to Junmai or Junmai Ginjo; explore further up the scale and you’ll reach the more rarified heights of Junmai Daiginjo.

    Just like wine, the terroir where the rice is grown (the best quality rice, Yamadanishiki comes from Hyogo), plays a significant part, as does the quality of the water, and the difference between ordinary ‘table’ rice and premium ‘sake’ rice. However, the crucial element in the sake process is the milling, or ‘polishing’. The more the rice is milled, or polished to remove the fats and proteins on the outer layers, the purer the quality of the remaining starch, and therefore the higher the quality of the resulting sake. Once again, drawing a vinous analogy, to help understand the process, it’s like wine yields, or even better the process of making sweet botrytised wines, where shrivelled grapes are picked in tiny quantities. The more the grain of rice is polished, the smaller it gets, making production more costly, and volume often tiny.

    I’ve never really been a Sake fan, probably because I didn’t understand it; I love sushi, but until now, I’d always opt for a glass of aromatic wine and wouldn’t even nod a glance at the Sake list.  Last week’s tasting was a revelation, made even better by the fact that Ollie, one of the Great Western Wine team, married to a Japanese wife and having lived in Japan for many years, set himself the task of matching Sake with cheese – I love a challenge. Anyone, who thinks that all Sake tastes the same, please reconsider. Just like wine, the variety, style, aromas and flavours transcended all levels of the taste profile scale. Most Sakes are between 13 and 16% alcohol, and have complex flavours, with that indescribable, almost impalpable ‘umami’ element, which simply adds to the enigmatic perception of the wines. Unlike wine, they can be enjoyed cold, or warm, although the higher grades are normally served chilled.

    Sake is graded based on a polishing ratio, known as Seimai-buai, which refers to the percentage of the rice remaining after milling. We started with a Futsushu, which has an average 70% grade.  1.Gozenshu Futsushu Ancient Mountain, Tsuji Honten from Okayama is run by the 7th generation of the family brewers, who still use an ancient, medieval brewing technique.  On the nose I smelt wild herbs, and a rich, almost oaty aroma, with hints of mushrooms. It tasted creamy, rich, again with a toasted oat edge, yet freshened by a herbal twist.  This worked surprisingly well with the sweet and salty taste and texture of cheddar cheese, and by its nature, would be an interesting match to wild mushroom risotto.

    We then moved on to Junmai, a rich, full-bodied style of sake – for novices, the easiest way of explaining this, is that it’s a bit like comparing Muscadet with Chardonnay, if we revert to the safety net of wine.  Staying with the Tsuji Honten brewer, they also produce 2.Gozenshu Junmai Bodaimoto Nigori Misty Mountain, a delicious, creamy, gentle sake, and one of my favourites. Soft, and silky, with scents of guava and mango, it’s textured, with a distinctive coconut edge, but with a citrus tang and spice on the finish; it’s also a cloudy sake. Try this one with sweeter, spicy, soy-influenced dishes, it was a star with blue cheese.

    3.Fukukomachi Junmai Karakuchi Evening Sky, Kimura Shuzo. Established in 1615 by the family of a high-ranking Samurai and situated in the Akita prefecture, the brewery is located by a spring of pure mountain water. I enjoyed the freshness and liveliness of this sake, with its crisp, green apple and fenugreek notes, with a hint of warm liquorice and a creamy edge. It worked well with the creaminess of a brie-style cheese, and is a great sushi match.

    Staying with the Junmai style, the tasting then moved to 4.Shirayuki Edo Genroku Redux, Konishi Shuzo, which has just won a silver medal at the IWC Sake awards. This is the oldest sake brewery owned and managed by the same family, founded in 1550. It’s old style sake, fermented in wooden barrels, and with a low polish ratio of 88%. Dark, rich and intense, this really did have the umami factor, with its nutty, dried fig and soy character – try this one with dark chocolate, may sound strange, but it really worked.

    Moving up the grading scale, we moved to Ginjo, a higher grade of polish (minimum 60%), producing spicy, aromatic styles of sake. Konishi Shuzo also produce 5.Konishi Silver Ginjo Hiyashibori, one of my favourites from the tasting, with a nose of fresh lime, fennel and liquorice. Vibrant, citrusy and lifted, it has fresh acidity, and brightness (think dry Riesling as a comparison). I’d definitely be happy with this one to accompany oysters, sashimi and tempura prawns.

    Continuing the journey, Daiginjo, is a high grade sake, milled to a minimum of 50%. 6.Fukukomachi Daiginjo Hidden Glade, Kimura Shuzo. This was rich, aromatic and subtly perfumed, with an elegance of flavour and texture. Very fruity and vibrant, it combined an interesting mix of bright citrus and peach fruit, with deeper, warm spice, cedar, and cinnamon notes.  The umami effect, and the mix of sweetness and saltiness made it work well with tangy pecorino cheese, and would be great with highly-spiced Asian seafood.

    Finally onto a couple of fruit-infused sakes. 7.Gozenshu 9 Yuzushu, Tsuji Honten is a lip-smackingly fresh, lemon-stashed sake, made from the Japanese fruit yuzu, which is a citrus cross between lemon, orange and grapefruit, and Junmai sake. I loved this – bright, breezy, and vivid, with an incredible freshness of citrus flavours – concentrated and delicious, with more than a hint of lemon meringue pie. Move over Limoncello, this is the new kid on the block; and at a mere 9% alcohol, it’s refreshingly light in alcohol too.

    8.Kodakara Nanko Umeshu, Tatenokawa Shuzo was the last sake on the list, a top notch, deliciously sweet, yet fresh sake made from sweet nanko plums, steeped in Junmai Daiginjo sake. It’s utterly delicious, and reminds me of plum and almond tart, with scents and flavours of frangipane, toasted almonds, and plum compote, lifted by a citrus edge. Irresistible, and a perfect alternative to dessert wine. It’s certainly on my radar.

    The whole subject of sake can be quite daunting and difficult to understand, as I’ve learnt; but it’s fascinating and worth exploring, in all its guises.  If you’re reading this, and interested in learning a bit more, why not sign up for a WSET accredited sake course. Marie Cheong-Thong is a passionate advocate and runs regular courses in London (www.thelarderat36.co.uk). “Sake, once a very quirky traditional Japanese drink, is now spreading rapidly worldwide. Even here in the UK, from just a handful of brands 10 years’ ago, there are now hundreds of different sake lines widely available — today, you can even buy sake at your local supermarket”, she told me.

    Sake is still a relatively little-known product, and off the mainstream, but based on my initial foray into the subject, well worth exploring.

     

  • Trimbach Wine Tasting Dinner

    With Julien Trimbach at the Allium Restaurant, Abbey hotel, Bath

     

    Last night's tasting dinner with Julien Trimbach was a great success! With a full house of 66 people and a waiting list with over 10 strong.

    The Trimbach family started growing vines in Alsace almost 400 years ago, and we were delighted to welcome Julien Trimbach (13th generation) to present a tasting dinner of his family’s wines. Julien was a big hit. At only 25 years old his charisma and infectious enthusiasm for Trimbach was clear to see for all and he captivated his audience impeccably.

    The highlights included some super impressive wines including a true rarity of the Cuvée Frederic Emile Riesling 1983 that Julien Trimbach himself was very jealous that we had stock of, as even Trimbach do not sell this anymore, and the legendary Clos Sainte Hune – which may be the world’s finest white wine.

    The food by new Allium Head Chef Rupert Taylor was stunning and truly worthy of his impressive CV, which includes Michelin-starred Newbury Manor, two-starred Whatley Manor and Heston Blumenthal’s three-star The Fat Duck at Bray.

    All in all a brilliant night!

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    Come on by the Great Western Wine shop in Bath to taste our latest selection of Trimbach wine samples and more, in-store for free... Happy tasting!


    Trimbach, Pinot Blanc 2015

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Riesling 2014

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Gewürztraminer 2014

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Gewürztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 2011

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Pinot Noir Réserve Cuve 7 2012

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

     

    Ramón Bilbao, Lalomba, Rosado, Rioja 2016

    Producer: Ramón Bilbao, Spain

     

    Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula 2016

    Producer: Kooyong, Australia

     

     

  • SUMMER SIPPING

    Inspired by the Bath Boules, Angela Mount recommends celebratory wines which are best enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine

     

    There’s something special about June in Bath, as we kick into Summer, with a more laid-back, languid vibe, “alfresco” being the mot du jour. There’s also lots going on, not least the legendary Bath Boules weekend (9th-11th June), held in the historic Queen Square, with a fiercely contested competition between over 60 teams – if you want to see accountants, solicitors, wine merchants et al at their most competitive, get down there!  But it’s also a great big party, with street food, pop ups, music – all in all, a fabulous family day out.

    If you fancy a more sedate afternoon, head for one of Bath’s numerous Alfresco slots (weather permitting) to enjoy the sunshine and an indulgent afternoon tea; and, of course, a glass of wine. But what vinous delights work for daytime sipping?

    Champagne is ‘le best’. Jacquart Champagne, have been proud sponsors of Bath Boules, alongside Great Western Wine for a number of years, so pop along and try a chilled glass of their Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV (£32.50), with its creamy, delicate, fresh flavours.  But if you’re indulging in afternoon tea, I’d suggest you opt for Jacquart Demi-Sec NV (£35). Don’t be put off because it’s off dry – this is actually a far better match with the sweet richness of scones, jam and cake, than a traditional brut Champagne – trust me! It’s all about the balance. With its moreish, creamy richness and ripe peach and apricot flavours, it’s also the perfect fizz for light Summer desserts, as well as scones, cream and strawberries..

    If you’re looking for fizz for an afternoon party, but don’t want to break the bank, look no further than Domaine de Brize Saumur Rose Brut NV (£14.50), an award-winning fizz from the Loire valley, and the epitome of Summer with its dry but exuberant strawberry and raspberry flavours. Fabulous value. Red Summer fizz? Why not? I like to surprise my guests with a glass of the highly moreish Birbet Brachetto 2015 (£11.95), serve it chilled, with a bowl of strawberries – it’s truly summer pudding in a glass, gently sweet, but light, with delicious freshness; even better, it’s only 5% alcohol, so the perfect, if eclectic, afternoon wine. A glass of this, with a bowl of scented local strawberries gets my vote.

    Back to Les Boules, and since the event celebrates le most traditional of French sports, it would be impertinent not to suggest a few summery delights from La belle France.  In sleepy southern village squares, dappled with golden sunlight, the locals can be seen with glasses of Pastis, but I’d suggest a glass of something lighter, especially for the competitors intent on victory, to keep their focus sharp.

    Just as we change wardrobes and adapt to le fashion du moment, our drinking styles change for the Summer also. What I look for in a glass of wine at this time of year is freshness, liveliness and clean, crisp fruit, be it white or red – and yes, I often chill my red wines, it’s brings out the fruit and stops them tasting heavy.  Rosè is a Summer classic, but more of that next month.

    For a vibrant, zingy white, which just begs for a plate of seafood, look no further than Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Belle Mare 2016 (£9.95) - Picpoul is on trend right now and provides a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio.  From vineyards close to the Languedoc coast, it’s crisp and zingy, with a lovely lemony freshness, but also a hint of wild herbs; you can almost smell the sea.

    Want to impress your friends, and look knowledgeable with a little known and great value Summer red?  Look no further than Braucol Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn 2014 (£8.95), my go to picnic and bbq red. Braucol is the grape (not many people know that), and is hails from the south-west of France. Juicy, fruity, and on the lighter spectrum of reds, it’s a bouncy delight, crammed to the brim with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit, with a brush of wild herbs.  I love to serve it chilled, it brings out the fruit and the brightness; perfect with charcuterie for alfresco lunches, and also spot on with baby lamb chops and spicy sausages.

    Zut alors. Time to go. Take the family  to Les Boules and support this event fantastique for local charities. It’s a great day out.  I’ll be back next month with my top tips for best Summer Rosè wines. Bonne chance to all the teams.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life

  • ENGLISH WINE WEEK

    Celebrating Local With Lyme Bay Winery

    By Angela Mount

    There’s nothing like celebrating local, or even national success in the world of wine, and what better time to do this, than in English Wine Week.  There may still be a few wine lovers out there who aren’t entirely convinced of the credentials of English sparkling wine, but please do read on. English Sparkling wines are world class. Fact.

    The growth in reputation and sales of English wines, and English Sparkling wines in particular, over the last 5 years has been nothing short of phenomenal, with demand soaring off the rictus scale.  From Her Majesty showcasing English fizz at state dinners, to Wills and Kate’s wedding celebrations, English wines have come of age, and rightly so.

    Zoom back in time 15 years, and English wines, in their humble, artisanal, and experimental format, wilted apologetically in the wake of their far more famous European counterparts. Today English wines stand proud, and, particularly for sparkling wines, are right up there, on the world stage, winning international awards, and now producing over 5 million bottles per year.

    It’s even better when the wines come from your own neck of the woods, in this case, the West Country. The Axe Valley in Devon, to be specific; the Lyme Bay Winery.  Lyme Bay was originally set up in 1992, as a cider and mead producer.  Today, whilst still producing these traditional drinks, Lyme Bay is creating waves on the wine scene, with its range of still and sparkling wines.  The team have recently been rewarded with a flurry of awards both at the International Wine Challenge, the world’s most meticulously judged wine competition and at the Sommelier wine awards, where its Classic Cuvee won one of only 5 prestigious gold medals handed out to English sparkling wines.  But the downside with English fizz is the limited production, for all sorts of reasons – scale, and of course our intemperent weather, which this year has caused considerable damage to the vines due to late frosts. So when you see these award-winning wines, snap them up quick, quantity is limited.

    I recently tasted through the Lyme Bay range, and the awards they have won are well justified.  The Lyme Bay Classic Cuvee (was £26.50 now £25.00) is a blend of classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with an enticing, creamy richness of flavours, yet balanced by a delicate citrus, green apple and greengage freshness.  It’s absolutely spot on with seafood; if you’re Bath-based or relatively local, head over to the Terrace at the Abbey Hotel, where they are featuring this sparkling delight with a seafood extravaganza every Friday evening on their terrace between 6 and 9pm throughout the Summer.  I sauntered down for the launch last week (fizz and seafood? What girl could resist?), and tucked in to a swooningly delicious selection of seafood bites, all served, on  beautifully elegant 3 tiered afternoon tea stands.  Luscious mouthfuls of tender lobster and sweet mango; creamy crab salad on crunchy, baked pitta bread; tangy crayfish in a bloody mary sauce served in crisp baby gem lettuce leaves; an audacious placing of the freshest of sardines balanced on a triple cooked fat chip with chilli and garlic; a palate-tingling tempter of scallop, lime and coriander ceviche; and finally for oyster addicts, such as me, the saline, mouthwatering freshness of oysters with rhubarb and shallot vinaigrette.  It’s my new Friday evening go to. Seafood and fizz heaven.

    Back to the wines.  My favourite from the Lyme Bay range is the Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), winner of a coveted International Wine Challenge Silver medal. This is serious stuff, super-elegant, lively and poised with an incredible freshness about it, full of bright red berry fruit and citrus, with a green apple tang and true purity of flavour.

    The third sparkling wine is the range is Lyme Bay Sparkling Rose 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), a delicately pale, purely Pinot Noir blend, which wafts aromas of rosehips, tangerine peel and cranberries. Taste it, and enjoy its delicacy and brightness; it’s fruity, refreshing, and brimming with summer berry flavours – entrancing in its elegance.

    The other unique thing about Lyme Bay is what great value they provide – I’m used to tasting award-winning English sparkling wines that are in the mid £30s price range; I was amazed to find out that these are on average £10 cheaper, but really deliver on flavour and style.

    But English wine isn’t just about fizz; vineyards in southern England have been producing still wines for years, which are now starting to gain recognition, generally using Germanic grapes, which suit our volatile climate.  Bacchus, Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner may not be grape names that trip off the tongue easily, but are increasingly gaining recognition for producing great wines in the UK. Lyme Bay are keen to pioneer English still wines, alongside the international success of sparkling wine, and start to build a similar reputation.  If the Lyme Bay Shoreline 2015 (was £14.95 now £13.95) is anything to go by, they’re on the right tracks. Another award-winner, it’s a vibrant and mouth-wateringly fresh dry white, with floral and citrus character, with a zesty tang that just cries out for seafood, picnics, or just a chill out afternoon in the sun.

    For a business that only moved into wine in 2008, and produced its first wine in 2014, the achievements are nothing short of spectacular. If you’ve never tried English wine before, this is the time to do it.

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