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Archive for the ‘Grapes’ Category

Today I am having a few of my lovely American friends over for a last-minute-but-amazing potluck Thanksgiving feast. I have already started the planning (you might say, but the dinner is TODAY and you’re not done planning?) and am about to run off to the shops to pick up some lovely bits & bats to complete my dishes. I have offered to make Baked Camembert with balsamic onions, Cornbread & sausage stuffing, Mushroom & truffle gravy and slow cooked Mulled wine…get excited!

And my wine choices for today….

This Cheval-Blanc Signe is one that I’ve wanted to write about for a while – Its a tener from Whole Foods and is SPEC-tacular. Nice solid Cabernet with a certain sophistication that belies the price tag. Absolutely perfect for a foodie feast with friends.
I’ll post some more pics as people arrive with their food (and their wine!!)

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My two lovely friends got married last Monday in London with 20 of their closest friends from around the world looking on. Our troupe was then shuttled into cabs, whisked away to the Champagne bar at St Pancras station and herded into Coach 15 on the Eurostar bound for Paris. After a quick transfer to the regional station in Paris, we were on our way to Dijon. Hop, skip and a 40 minute drive from Dijon, we entered our home for the next week: Chateau du Tailly, a gorgeous 18th century block of three buildings (all of which could have been individual houses)…

So many stories, such a wonderful week. Ultimately, it was about two people: Joel and Marc whose love brought all of us together for this incredible experience. We wined and dined our way through an awe-inspiring week throughout Puligny, Chassagne, Beaune, Mersault and many more. More updates to follow but will leave you with this for now.

  

The main Chateau and my two lovely friends, Joel and Marc, who hosted us during the week:

My home for the week:

        

The winemaker at Chateau Lahaye allowing me to ‘break through the must’ on their newest harvest.

  

Cheers!

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I did something not-so-common last weekend. I spent a very pleasant Friday, Saturday and Sunday getting to know a wine estate in the south of England. Just 50 minutes outside of London, I took a train on a dreary Friday evening in the hopes of escaping the craziness of London and embracing the calm, quiet, wine-filled village of Bolney.

Now, I will preface with the note that I really really really needed a break. To be honest, I would do better to take a week out ASAP. But given demands of work and life, I had to settle for a weekend…I’m sure this is falling on deaf ears as many of you have just as busy lives, if not more so. Alas, I am horrifically self focused when it comes to energy levels and pretty much always crave some relaxation time. But enough about me – let’s get on to the wine….

I decided on and planned this trip approximately 48 hours before arriving in Bolney (see above) so was pleased to have found a nice place to stay (run by a friendly and hospitable couple) and was able to reserve a spot on the vineyard tour at Bolney estate for Saturday afternoon. After an expensive cab ride (they always gouge you when you don’t know where you’re going…I found out later this trip cost me 2x as much as it should have…) I arrived at a cute cottage style house and was greeted by Beverly at her home, Broxmead Paddock. She showed me to the ground floor room. Best thing? I had asked her to place a bottle of the local red wine in my room on my arrival so I was able to immediately drop my stuff and put my feet up. The wine itself? Nothing to write home about. It was more the experience of it rather than the actual quality. It was a bit harsh, slightly unbalanced with a very strong taste of unripe cherries (made from Dornfelder and Rondo grapes). After a few sips however, it goes down just fine…

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I went to the local pub for dinner (Beverly and her husband Brian dropped me off on their way to the theatre – so cute!). Had a gorgeous Venison dish with some really tasty Chilean Merlot. The pub itself had a relatively lively crowd for early on a Friday evening with a roaring fire and very warm feel. I didn’t want to leave but alas, exhaustion took over and I made the 10 minute trek through the very dark road (Beverly had given me a torch (aka a flashlight) earlier so that I could find my way home).

On Saturday morning I awoke to a big breakfast of eggs benedict cooked to order by Brian (ridiculously good) and set off for a long walk around the local area. One thing that struck me beyond the beauty and quaintness of the village was that even though you are in the country, you can always hear the motorway. Its a low buzz in the background no matter how far away from it you feelyou are. I loved this town – but seriously – that motorway would drive me crazy. Anyway – I got lost (of course) and thankfully used my phone to find my way back to the house, tired and ready for a nap…and a cheeky glass of wine in preparation for my vineyard tour!

After a few hours of chill, Beverly drove me out to the vineyard and dropped me off (making sure I was armed with my torch for the 30 minute walk home). One note: I could tell that this tour is not a common thing for wine-lovers to go on. Know why? They price it out by couple. There was no single person pricing available. Result? Me, alone with 4 couples, all of whom received the tour as a gift. That said, the tour itself was brilliant. We started off with a glass of their house sparkling, Bolney Bubbles. Distinct elderflowers and a gorgeous mouthfeel. Really a highlight.

We toured through the vines, learned about how the estate has been managed and a bit about the winemaker, Sam. Our tour guide then took us step by step through the process of making the sparkling (and to a lesser extent, the still) wines. First up was the fermentation tanks and the oak barrels used for aging. We were also given a taste of the Rondo wine in its partially fermented state to see what it was like (don’t recommend it…). Next it was on to the room for riddling, disgorging and bottling – which was my personal fav. They stack all the bottles up in a time intensive and consequently expensive process of extracting the dead yeast from the sparkling wine. Eventually they remove the yeast by freezing it at the top of the bottle and taking it out. They quickly replace the lost liquid and cork the wine.

We rounded out the tour with a tasting back in the tasting room followed by a ploughmans dinner. The main standouts were the sparkling wines and I ended up going home with 6x Bolney Bubbly (£17.99 per bottle – bit pricey but it was amazin’). After being the only singleton and meeting most of my fellow tour-ers, a very nice couple from Reading offered to drop me at the Broxmead Paddock so that I didn’t have to walk home in the dark. People are so nice outside of London!

After an early to bed Saturday night and another of Brian’s spectacular breakfasts on Sunday morning, I had a local esthetician come to the house (as you do!). After a long and relaxing facial & pedicure, I wandered down to the local pub for a cup of soup and another glass of that yummy Chilean merlot. I then made my way to the train station after hugs with Beverly and promises of returning soon. 50 minutes later I was dumped back into the center of London and immediately started planning my next wine holiday….

Spain? France? Perhaps somewhere a bit further afield like South Africa? Decisions decisions.

 

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Love London Xx

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After a tense day of walking through the beautiful Bishops park, hitting the gym and sauna followed by a visit to my favorite designer consignment shop on new kings road (found two beautiful dresses, both of which didn’t fit…but we’ll ignore that for now) , what’s better than a glass of Spanish cava, fresh baguette and borough market pesto?! Ahhh London may be a crazy busy city but you gotta love when it reminds you that its awesome… the rare moments of sunshine help of course.

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Long week? Its the WEEKEND! Enjoy the warm(er) weather in London and all the opportunities to try some gorgeous wines. My fail safe weekend wines? Prosecco, Cotes du Rhone and if you are feeling a bit crazy, an ooey gooey but structured Malbec (just tried an amazing one: Domingo Molina, 2010 Valle de Cafayate – Salta…probably the best Malbec I’ve had – YUM!!)
Whatever you try, enjoy. Kick your feet up and take a second to breathe. Life is good.

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I have been meaning to post this for a while now and am only now getting around to it. I need to share the names of two wines I had while in Fontainebleau for an INSEAD marketing course in January. I picked them at random for our 8 person dinner on a Monday night and we were so pleased with them that we came back with 40 people on Wednesday and ordered the same wine for the whole group! The Sancerre was something special – crisp, fruit, floral wonderfulness. The Gigondas was ridiculous- Rhone Valley Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre…spicy and balanced, gooey and moorish. I would highly recommend these wines to anyone honestly – either for drinking alone or with a gorgeous feast.

Joseph Mellot, 2010, La Graveliere, Sancerre AC
Pierre Amadieu, 2009 Gigondas AC, Romain Machotte Rouge

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We had a truly lovely trip to Leavenworth, WA over the holidays. If you have never been and you live in Seattle or nearby – go. It is a cute little German themed (ahem, yes it is a ‘themed’ town, aimed to attract tourists and not a whole lot else) in the mountains near Stevens Pass ski resort (where my dad was a ski instructor for most of his life and a pretty fun, if expensive, place to hit the slopes!). Over the years they have become known for having a whole lot of tasting rooms that cater to people who – well, who like to drink. Some of them offer glasses of their wines and/or tasting platters if you find something you like. Basically, the idea is to make a day of it – We started at the top of the street (bc really, that is what Leavenworth is – one long street) and walked our way slowly down to end before stumbling home. Many of the shops now charge for tastings – which is relatively new. Its only $2 – $5USD pp and many of them will wave the fee if you buy a bottle. What I was surprised and a bit put off by is many of them only wave the fee for your whole party if you buy a bottle of wine per person (i.e. if you have 6 people tasting, as a group you need to buy 6 bottles of wine at that winery). Also, the wines aren’t cheap – across the board they were $10 – $50+ and the quality was not in line with the price in many (if not most) cases. But alas, I did manage to find some real crackers – I’ve included them below.

Willow Crest Leavenworth Red
willowcrestwinery.com
Yummy, gooey, drinkable wine. I took this back to our rented condo the first night (even though all my fellow tasters weren’t impressed by it during the tasting). At $12 it was well below the other (overpriced) bottles on offer and it had a solid structure with a smooth taste. Needless to say after the first night we went back the next day and bought a half case!! A great wine to have on hand that will be sure to impress while not overwhelm. One note/caveat – they share a tasting room with Pasek cellars and unfortunately neither of them update their websites….and as I left all my bottles back in Seattle with my parents I am making a guess that this is Willow Crest and not Pasek (who specialise in fruit wines). Regardless, it doesn’t look like you can successfully buy this online so just give them a call directly at the tasting room: +1 (509) 548-5166

Bella Terrazza Reserve Reisling
http://www.bellaterrazzavineyards.com/
Wow – really tasty and unique reisling. Very interesting and well worth a taste – they left the skins on for quite a while and the result is a slightly heavier style of wine. Fruity and crisp but lacking a bit of the traditional acidity. I really fell in love with this wine – mainly because it was so weird! I bought half a case – probably a bit excessive but I wanted to see what would happen to it after a year. By the end of the christmas holiday I had finished 3 bottles (don’t judge) so I have another 3 waiting for me. I’m nervous about leaving them as I don’t think its a wine to age – but we’ll have to see! Another reason why I liked this wine/winery was the owner. When we visited he was the only one manning the tasting room. He was a young 40-something farmer, passionate about the grapes and pretty much nothing else. He HATED being couped up in the tasting room and was just dying to get back to his vineyard. One thing he mentioned was wanting to find a winemaker to take over the development of his grapes. I wish him the best of luck!

 

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