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Posts Tagged ‘kristen loves wine’

All I can say is WOW.

Ok so I ordered this case of wine from Gauthier Wines recently. It was their Christmas Edition which included 12 bottles (2 x 6 bottles) plus lunch for 2 at their Soho restaurant – Brilliant deal and an exciting selection of wines. Unfortunately, after a week of delays with delivery, I had to get it delivered to my office…Now as I live in London, there is really no way to get it home beyond bringing it back bottle by bottle to my flat. I brought two bottles home yesterday and opened the Borsao Barrica and let me tell you, I was so excited. It was absolutely amazing…rich, spicy and authentically Spanish. Add a bit of cheese & some spicy prawns and you are in business. Plus – I did a quick search to see how much it would set me back to acquire a bit more of this gorgeous tipple and found it here for under £8! I think I’m in love…

Borsao Barrica, 2009, Campo de Borja – BUY IT (IN BULK)

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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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Last Sunday, I hosted my first wine tasting. How excited was I? Pretty darn excited. Even though it was a group of my friends (or perhaps because of that), I was nervous. I had carefully selected 6 wines to taste with the group, assembled all my glassware, made the savoury and sweet snacks, had the welcome Cava chilled and ready – all I needed was the group! They trickled in over the course of an hour or so (welcome glass of Cava = brilliance as they were sufficiently warmed up within a few minutes) and around 3, we kicked things off…

   

The lineup:
Clos Monistrol Cava, Vintage 2008 (welcome drink)
Martin Codax Albarino, 2011 (Rias Baixas)
Domaine Thibert Pere et Fils, Saint Veran AC, 2010 (Burgundy)
Ned Pinot Noir, Marlborough 20120 (NZ) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Vidal-Fleury, Saint-Joseph AC, 2009 (Northern Rhone)
Matsu, El Recio Tinto de Toro, 2009 (Toro Spain) ** CROWD FAVORITE
Jean Marc Lafage Mise Tardive, Maury AC, 2009 (Roussillon)

What we covered: 
Glassware: why its important and the ideal tasting conditions
Sight, Smell & Taste: Why you go through the steps and what you are looking for
Food pairing: Really we just took a break between the wines to devour some spinach-artichoke dip (recipe below), homemade bread, greek feta pie and madeira cake!!

After we finished the tasting, everyone wanted to open another bottle of the Matsu – so we enjoyed more of that incredible wine and finished off the snacks.

If you want to learn more about wine, you live in (or can travel to) the London area and this sounds like a bit of fun, sign up now for one of my upcoming tastings. Payment is donation only and homemade snacks are always supplied. 

Hot Spinach Artichoke dip
Mix together the following ingredients in a big bowl: 2 packs soft cream cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 cans artichoke hearts, 1 cup thawed (and drained) frozen spinach, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 tsp hot chili powder (to taste), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese.
Place the mixture in a baking tin (shape/size doesn’t matter but make sure it doesn’t sit above the top of the pan).
Top with slices of parmesan cheese (flakes or slices – just make sure they’re thin)
Bake at 180 – 200 degrees C until bubbly and golden
Serve with bread, tortilla chips, pita chips – or just with a spoon!!

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For those of you that know me personally, you’ll know that I am going through a time. One of those dramatic-life-altering periods where everything that you believed in, loved and dreamt about falls down around your feet. Don’t worry, I’m not posting on my ‘fun-lovin wine blog’ with all doom and gloom – just keepin’ it real.

One of the major drawbacks? Over the last four months, I have had some of THE WORST wines. The other day I was drinking ‘California White Wine’ at a pub with friends and the wicked hangover that I experienced the following day was proof of my lack of judgement. Is my drop in standards a result of my broken heart? Or is it more down to the fact that I just want to drink, cry and feel sorry for myself?

One thing is for sure, when the bottom drops out of your life, you really start to see yourself. You see everything just a bit more clear. The good, the bad and the ugly – all in hypercolour. London is surprisingly a pretty good city to be in for this type of self reflection. No matter where you are in the city, you are surrounded by a massive amount of people from every walk of life. I’m currently sitting in a cafe drinking a lovely glass of Chablis AC, blogging to you folks and positioned next to two loud boisterous Spainards, two techy Japanese playing on a MAC and an American girl out for lunch with her gay best friend. Everyone has their own struggles, insecurities and triumphs. Its comforting, if not just a little therapeutic.

 

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I had a work event in Cardiff last week. What a great city! The sun was shining, atmosphere buzzing and the cab drivers were giving impromptu tours of the landmarks. Our event was at the Coal Exchange near the water. Lots of pretty old style buildings and plenty of happy, welcoming people. After the event was concluded we went to a great little restaurant with our team and the event staff called The Potted Pig. Their speciality? Yep, potted pig. And its ridiculously good.

I however decided to be the true American and ordered brown crab for my meal…

Paired with a gorgeous Petit Chablis, it was an absolutely stunning meal. I did however manage to spray lemon juice, fling crab meat and shells across the table and into my unsuspecting colleagues faces, plates. etc. After a while they just stopped to watch me battle with the big guy. I became extremely focused and somewhat skillful at finding and extracting the crab meat. In the end I only managed the claws and a few of the legs. I have to say however that is was a great way to not overeat. My major drawback? They didn’t supply any bibs!!

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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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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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