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Tasting wine at home with friends, as opposed to just drinking it

While learning languages, it`s important to speak words out loud. Same with wine-speak. And regurgitating wine words is even more fun when doing so in good company, with other students of wine. Even more so when there is a decent drop of wine between you! Indeed, many a wine society started in just such a way.  Take turns to describe the wine in your own words, each of you. Together, first look at the colour of the wine. Tip the glass, preferably over white paper in a true light, and describe what you see: colour, rim and clarity.  A wine`s colour can have many shades and gradations as it spreads out to the rim. The rim itself is like water, but how precisely and intensely does the colour run to its edge? As for clarity: most wines are “clear”, without cloud or sediment, but some look “lacklustre” others “bright”, even “lustrous”.  Next, smelling or “nosing” the wine – the “aroma” – with a swirl of the glass let each person in your circle describe his and her first impression: red, black, white, blue or stone fruits; floral aromas, such as violets, blossom and acacia; any herbs or spices? Anything else?  Your own words. Can you smell alcohol? An “alcoholic wine” is one with too high an alcohol content, out of balance with its fruit and acidity – you can improve it by chilling it down, usually – nothing worse than an overly warm red, except one which is also high in alcohol! The next stage of the tasting process is, of course, tasting the wine: take a good mouthful and suck a little air through it. How does it taste? Sweet, dry, savoury, salty, bitter, sharp? How does it feel?  Light, full-bodied, rounded, soft, fleshy, velvety, chalky, harsh, unctuous, watery? Consider the “aftertaste”, the flavours left on the palate once the wine is swallowed or spat.  Then, having had a good chat about all of this, turn to google and search the wine in question for a professional`s tasting note.  How do yours compare? Remember there`s no right or wrong, and just have fun. Happy tasting, folks!

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Wet dog in wine, no kidding

It`s perhaps surprising, even bewildering, to think of the vocabulary we use to describe characteristics in wine. I don`t just mean the whole basket of fruit (in anyone`s kitchen, anywhere in the world), I refer to the `strange-and-wonderful` as well, the non-fruit. Just in the last month or so in this column I have mentioned a number of these: butter in wine due to malolactic fermentation; vanilla and spices in wine, from aging in oak; chocolate, mocha, coffee, smoke in wine, from charred barrels; chalk, graphite, iron and slate in wine, from soil; even, from native yeasts, funky farmyard, sweaty-saddle and mushroom aromas; and those rather more attractive esters derived from yeast-autolysis, giving us, in Champagne, for example, dreamy aromas of brioche, fresh-bread and biscuit. Those other curious `tertiary` aromas, as well, from bottle-age: honey, orchard, forest floor (in mature red burgundy: “sous-bois”), game, animal, earth. And here`s some more for you: the smell of petrol, in mature Riesling; tobacco or cigar box, in claret; and how about wet dog? Okay, that one`s a wine fault (a corked wine), like rotten eggs (reductive wine). All these words, and I have barely scratched the surface, such is the vocabulary of wine.  Not a language designed to keep outsiders out by clouding wine in mystery, as some would argue, rather, one we can enjoy and use to converse, a rich tapestry of words and phrases to communicate wine`s complex characteristics. It`s also true, by the way, that we can add our own words to the vocabulary. It`s not a strictly defined list. Wine is personal, sensory and subjective. I recall a member of staff smelling peanut butter once in a Pinot Gris from Alsace. I can`t say I did, but so what? It was her tasting note. It`s also true that tasting notes can be overly flowery and colourful at times. And why shouldn’t they be? Wine is complex, is it not? You can choose to write simple tasting notes if you like. Or, you can dig deep, let your imagination rip, and get wordy. It`s your choice. Cheers everyone.

 

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Graham`s 1994 Vintage Port, 25 years in the making

Hosts: Anthony & Janet Borges – Chef: Dominic Carter

Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosso Frizzante, Emilia Romagna, Italy. Usual RSP £11.99. Promo price: £9.99

A bright, pale-cherry colour, this Italian beauty has a fresh, bright and floral nose of strawberry, redcurrant and violet. On the palate it has appealing sour cherry and bramble fruit characters, balanced by juicy acidity and a light bead of effervescence. The Lambrusco di Sorbara grapes are sourced from sandy-clay vineyards north of Modena.  ABV 11%.

100% Lambrusco di Sorbara grapes.

Domaine du Pré Semelé Sancerre, Loire, France 2018, £21.99

A classic well-balanced Sancerre with ripe gooseberry fruit and zesty acidity. Soils are primarily the classic ‘Terres Blanches’ (clay-chalk) and `Caillottes` (limestones), giving the wines a ripe fruit character. A classic with mussels and goat`s cheese, this evening with Salmon en Papillote

Signos de Origen La Vinilla Estate, Casablanca Valley, Chile 2016, £16.99

An award-winning organic white wine produced in Chile`s beautiful Casablanca Valley. The wine is a blend of 72% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier, 10% Marsanne and 6% Roussanne grapes. Characterised by its subtly rich and creamy savoury quality, the wine has complex notes of white peach, apricot, butter, almond and walnut.

Kovács Nimród Battonage Chardonnay, Eger, Hungary 2015  £23.99

Eger in Hungary is located on a similar latitude as Burgundy and this can be compared to a first-class burgundy at near half the price. “Battonage” refers to the Burgundy tradition of stirring the lees, which adds to the wine a yeasty complexity. Using a combination of French and Hungarian oak, this is a buttery, toasty wine produced from 100% Chardonnay. Its oak characters are complemented by lemon, pear and pineapple fruit.

Prà Morandina Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy 2018, £19.99

A fine, fragrant Valpolicella, light and airy with poise and grace. Red fruits, of raspberries and cherries, mingle with herbs, sage, anis & thyme, with a hint of oak. A sappy and delicate, yet intensely flavoured, low yield wine. The palate has a bitter plum twist and taut balancing acidity. Grapes: 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella.

Boutinot, Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux Schisteux’ 2015 £16.99

High up the ‘slopes of schiste’ in the rugged mountainous terroir of Séguret lies a single vineyard so predominantly planted with Grenache Noir (intermingled only here and there with some Syrah) that the resulting wine – Les Coteaux Schisteux – comes close to being one of the purest expressions of cracked black pepper Grenache Noir in the southern Rhône valley. After 22 months in French oak the wine offers a further layer, of mature notes mingled with vanilla and oak spices, on a broad, savoury palate. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.

 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain 2017, £18.99

An award-winning red with great purity of expression. This is 100% Grenache, or Garnacha, from 60-year vines grown in Campo de Borja at an altitude of 600-700 metres. Yields are small and concentrated. The wine is a compote of luscious strawberries, blackberries, cherries and raspberries, amid Provençal herbs and violets, with vanilla, leather and even caramel from aging in French oak. This is recommended to accompany red meats, but the wine`s fruit quality also makes it an ideal cheese wine. Robert Parker 91 points.

 Prà Morandina Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, Veneto, Italy 2016  £29.99

The superiore is higher in alcohol and weight than the earlier Prà Morandina and it`s a Ripasso wine to boot, having used a proportion of dried grapes to concentrate the flavours, a term called “appassimento” meaning drying. The wine, suitable to partner roasted red meats, is sufficiently concentrated to go with the cheeses. The wine is velvety with lifted aromas of red berry, fig & plum. Spices and Alpine herbs mix with bramble, orange peel and bitter cherry. 18 months in oak delivers a classy red, probably the best of its kind.

Graham’s, Port, Douro Valley, Portugal, 1994 Not for sale

Reminiscent of the 1970 in structure and profile, made up of a high proportion of grapes from the flagship vineyard Quinta dos Malvedos which gives the port its classic elegance, floral and black fruit hallmarks. 1994 was the last monumentally outstanding vintage of the twentieth century, producing classic wines with longevity, elegance and style. Aromas of blackcurrants, mulberry and eucalyptus are to the fore.

Castelvetro Chiarli “Pignoletto” Spumante Extra Dry, Modena, Emilia Romagna, £17.99

Pignoletto derives from “pigna” (pine cone), on account of the vine`s small, tight grape clusters. It`s also the name of the local wine and a nearby village. Confusingly, locals call the grape Alionzina and DNA indicates the grape is related to the Umbrian grape Grechetto, but `Marketing` likes Pignoletto and it`s here to stay, potentially being the new Prosecco. The sparkling wine is aromatic and refreshing with notes of green apples, lemon and limes.

Discounted prices for orders received this evening in red.

Menu

Salmon en Papillote Garlic and Lemon Butter

Creamy Tuscan Chicken Thighs with Crisp Pastry Disc and Toasted Pine Nuts

Rolled Lamb Breast in a Rich Red Wine, Pearl Onion and Thyme Sauce with Grilled Baby Courgettes & Baby Aubergines

Cheese Platter

Raspberry & Strawberry Eton Mess Cheesecake

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The Art of the Cooper

The use of oak barrels in winemaking is curiously not much talked about outside winemaker and cooper circles. In the industry most of us sweep it all away, preferring to talk about the vineyard – the terroir, the grapes. At most we talk about the wine`s duration in barrel, a steer to its oak-aged style. We might even reference the extent to which new oak has been used: “The newer the oak, the more it gives, until finally it is spent and useful only as a holding vessel”. Today, however, I will expand briefly on cooperage itself. First, the basics: Winemakers choose the type of oak barrels according to the wine they want to make. Oak hewn from the northerly flank of a forest might have tight grains due to slow growth, as compared to the more open-grained, faster growing oak trees on the forest`s south side. The first, as a barrel, ensures a wine matures slowly, imparting its tannins and flavour compounds to the wine slowing, barely even, smoothening it out over the years without excess. The open-grained barrel gives far more, far quicker. The oak changes the wine fundamentally, contributing first and foremost vanilla and spices. Coopers offer a range of barrels with differing properties, and they offer a variety of charring options as well: light-toast, medium-toast, heavy-toast. The more toasting there is, the bigger the flavours it imparts, of chocolate, mocha, coffee, smoke and toast. And the choices are far more nuanced now days, with winemakers and coopers often working closely together to achieve the best possible wines.  But there is another element, facilitated by oak and key to wine`s aging development, and that`s wine`s slow interaction with air: evaporation and oxygenation.  Oak`s porous nature concentrates wine, while softening the tannins. It`s not the only wood used in winemaking, but it`s the best, the most widely used and the most expensive. Next time you smell vanilla or toast in your wine, spare a thought for the unsung hero of winemaking: the cooper.

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A wonderful evening 12/07/2019

Thanks Brad for being a fantastic customer over the years. We hope you enjoyed last night as much as we did …  my thanks also to Dominic and The Food Station for yet another  delicious gourmet dinner.

Hosts: Anthony & Janet Borges – Chef: Dominic Carter

On behalf of

Mantis Cars Limited

Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosso Frizzante, Emilia Romagna. Usual RSP £11.99. July/Aug promo price: £9.99

A bright, pale-cherry colour, this Italian beauty has a fresh, bright and floral nose of strawberry, redcurrant and violet. On the palate it has appealing sour cherry and bramble fruit characters, balanced by juicy acidity and a light bead of effervescence. The Lambrusco di Sorbara grapes are sourced from sandy-clay vineyards north of Modena.  ABV 11%.

100% Lambrusco di Sorbara grapes.

Petit Chablis Domaine de la Motte 2017, £16.99

Domaine de la Motte is a 25- hectare family-run winery handed down from father to son since 1950.  Completely un-oaked and produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes, this wine has a gorgeous ripe lemon aroma and a well-balanced zesty palate with a long citrussy finish, displaying elegance and finesse. ABV 12.5%.

Signos de Origen La Vinilla Estate, Casablanca Valley 2016, £16.99

An award-winning organic white wine produced in Chile`s beautiful Casablanca Valley. The wine is a blend of 72% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier, 10% Marsanne and 6% Roussanne grapes. Characterised by its subtly rich and creamy savoury quality, the wine has complex notes of white peach, apricot, butter, almond and walnut.

Kovács Nimród Battonage Chardonnay, Eger, Hungary 2015  £23.99

Eger in Hungary is located on a similar latitude as Burgundy and this can be compared to a first-class burgundy at near half the price. “Battonage” refers to the Burgundy tradition of stirring the lees, which adds to the wine a yeasty complexity. Using a combination of French and Hungarian oak, this is a buttery, toasty wine produced from 100% Chardonnay. Its oak characters are complemented by lemon, pear and pineapple fruit.

Prà Morandina Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy 2018, £19.99

A fine, fragrant Valpolicella, light and airy with poise and grace. Red fruits, of raspberries and cherries, mingle with herbs, sage, anis & thyme, with a hint of oak. A sappy and delicate, yet intensely flavoured, low yield wine. The palate has a bitter plum twist and taut balancing acidity. Grapes: 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella.

Boutinot, Séguret Côtes du Rhône Villages ‘Les Coteaux Schisteux’ 2015 £16.99

High up the ‘slopes of schiste’ in the rugged mountainous terroir of Séguret lies a single vineyard so predominantly planted with Grenache Noir (intermingled only here and there with some Syrah) that the resulting wine – Les Coteaux Schisteux – comes close to being one of the purest expressions of cracked black pepper Grenache Noir in the southern Rhône valley. After 22 months in French oak the wine offers a further layer, of mature notes mingled with vanilla and oak spices, on a broad, savoury palate. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah.

 Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha, Campo de Borja, Spain 2017, £18.99

An award-winning red with great purity of expression. This is 100% Grenache, or Garnacha, from 60-year vines grown in Campo de Borja at an altitude of 600-700 metres. Yields are small and concentrated. The wine is a compote of luscious strawberries, blackberries, cherries and raspberries, amid Provençal herbs and violets, with vanilla, leather and even caramel from aging in French oak. This is recommended to accompany red meats, but the wine`s fruit quality also makes it an ideal cheese wine. Robert Parker 91 points.

Prà Morandina Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso, Veneto, Italy 2016  £29.99

The superiore is higher in alcohol and weight than the earlier Prà Morandina and it`s a Ripasso wine to boot, having used a proportion of dried grapes to concentrate the flavours, a term called “appassimento” meaning drying. The wine, suitable to partner roasted red meats, is sufficiently concentrated to go with the cheeses. The wine is velvety with lifted aromas of red berry, fig & plum. Spices and Alpine herbs mix with bramble, orange peel and bitter cherry. 18 months in oak delivers a classy red, probably the best of its kind.

Montresor Prosecco Spumante `Extra Dry`, Verona, Italy, £13.99

Lovely Prosecco with delicate aromas of green apple and white flower. The palate is ripe and appealing with orchard fruit characters and a fresh and persistent fizz. Produced from 100%  Glera grapes grown across Valpolicella and Lake Garda using indigenous yeasts to preserve the natural fruit aromas. Cantina Giacomo Montresor was established in 1892.

Menu

Zesty Lime, Dill, Prawn and Crab Salad in a Crispy Tortilla Bowl

Creamy Parmesan, Garlic and Spinach Chicken Thighs with a Poppy Seed and Parmesan Crisp

Rolled Lamb Breast in a Rich Red Wine, Pearl Onion and Thyme Sauce with Grilled Baby Courgettes & Aubergines

Cheese Platter

Speculoos and Raspberry Cheesecake with a Lotus Biscuit Crumb

 

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Malolactic fermentation

A well-utilised word in wine-speak is malolactic fermentation (“Malo”), a winemaking term which more-or-less also describes a style of white wine. The term is most commonly associated with the Chardonnay grape. So, what is it, exactly?  It is when malic acid (think crisp, sour green apples) is converted into lactic acid (milk, cream, butter), a bacteria-induced fermentation which happens concurrently or following alcoholic fermentation, a completely natural process which reduces acidity in wine.  In red wine production it is par for the course, with almost all red wines allowed to undergo the process as part of its natural cycle, before aging, racking and bottling. However, in white wine production winemakers either choose to encourage the fermentation, typically by an inoculation of desirable bacteria, or they stop it completely. Those who choose to prevent malolactic fermentation do so because they want to maintain the wine`s acidity levels and freshness. A great many of these are produced in steel tanks. Those who favour the process do so to soften the wine and add complexity, and they usually, but not always, choose oak barrels for the purpose. The resultant wine is softened by “Malo” and develops a buttery flavour which works especially well with oak-aged Chardonnays.  The wines, notably, have a textural quality and buttery richness. In practice, a great many Chardonnays are a blend of barrels (sometimes tanks as well) of which some have undergone malolactic fermentation, and others have not. Much of the winemaker`s skill is in blending these together, achieving the sought-after fresh, buttery and complex styles we love to drink with seafood and creamy pastas.  Incidentally, since most finished wine in bottle has seen at least some oak, typically 6-12 months, the same wines would also be expected to display at least some of the characteristics associated with aging in oak. Chief among these, in Chardonnays, is vanilla and toast.  It is perhaps not surprising that many a tasting note refers to buttered toast.

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Wines with Minerality and a Sense of Place

A well utilised word in wine-speak is `minerality`, an earth reference.  `Mineral` in wine can be apparent from youth to old age and refers to different elements in the ground. Chablis, which is cool-climate Chardonnay, is grown on Kimmeridgian limestone soil, made up with calcareous-rich decomposed sea shells. The crisp white wine is famously excellent with oysters because of its chalk, shell, pebble and flint characteristics. Left bank Bordeaux, predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, is grown on gravel, often displaying an interesting lead pencil (graphite) character. In Northern Rhone, where Syrah is grown on rocky granite, the mineral flavour is described as granitic. Dry Riesling grown on the steep slopes of Germany`s Mosel river has a steely, mineral flavour defined as schist, or slate. And in red burgundy, the mineral element is mostly iron oxide.  Often soils are mixed and minerals diverse – the exact aroma difficult to pin-point – hence the generic term minerality used as a tasting note. My next word is less clear for this purpose: terroir. Because the term terroir doesn’t smell or taste of anything, exactly. What it means to describe is a wine`s sense of place, encompassing the influences of its location: the soil, climate (cool, warm, dry, wet), prevailing winds, altitude, etc. The winemaker will take all this in – the environment – and seek to harness the prevailing conditions to best effect, to produce the best possible wine. If he is successful, a good wine taster, with knowledge of the vineyard, will be able to taste the wine `blind` and pin-point it to the region, perhaps even the vineyard. The taster will somehow be transported there, guided by his or her sensory antennae: recognition of the grape or grapes, the style of wine, its relative ripeness, cool or warm climate, looking for tell-tale, defining features, homing in, drawing on  memory recall and experience. Sometimes, if necessary,  the taster will work through a process of elimination:  noting what it`s definitely NOT…  not Cabernet, not Shiraz, etc . Sometimes the tasting process works like a guided missile, other times it misfires. This could be down to the taster, of course.  He or she may well be professionally qualified, but  wine is  complex with thousands of grapes and differing terroirs around the world; impossible to know everything, no matter how good a taster you are.  It just may be the taster  doesn`t  know of this particular wine.  Or  he or she  may  simply not recognise it, on this occasion.   Besides it`s easy enough to go down a blind alleyway.  Early in the process you get transported to the wrong place, and its impossible to find your way after that. I`ve done it lots of times.  But also,  it`s just possible that the wine lacks a notable terroir, that the wine is  without a sense of place.  Actually, there`s an awful lot of wine around which lacks terroir, which gives all the more importance and value to those with it. Cheers all.

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The Role of Yeast in Winemaking

Winemakers generally use inoculated off-the-shelf yeast strains, not least because they are reliable fermenters. The alternative, wild yeasts, are more temperamental. These are found in the vineyard and winery, and they can give a distinctive, bombastic, highly sought-after gout to terroir. On the other hand, the ferment can stick, and they can be a bit funky. Another strange indigenous yeast is Brettanomyces (Brett in wine-speak), a yeast found in wineries which can impart a farmyard character in wine. A little of this can be interpreted as complexity, but if it`s overly pongy I would take it for the fault it is. Undoubtedly yeasts most important role in winemaking is converting grape sugars into alcohol, but it`s their use in contributing to wine`s aroma, flavour and texture I find most intriguing, not least because it gives rise to some of my favourite aromas. These are brioche, fresh- bread, pastry and biscuit, but also, potentially, nuttiness and acacia. These characters are most noticeable in wines which have had extended contact with the yeast, whether in tank, cask or bottle (the latter, in the case of Champagne, for example). The yeast cells gradually break down, a process known as yeast autolysis, releasing attractive esters and glycerol into the wine, which adds complexity, richness and texture. It`s this which gives us the term “leesy” or Sur Lie denoting the yeasty characters in the wine.  Lees refers to the sediment, including trillions of dead yeast cells, deposited during and following a wine`s fermentation. A classic example is Muscadet de Sevre et Maine `Sur Lie` from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, fresh, lean, bone dry and “leesy” with an affinity to mussels and oysters. The effect, if not the flavour, is not unlike the pearly mineral match cool-climate Chablis has with shell fish.  There again, from Cote d`Or in burgundy, I know of Chardonnays benefiting from lees aging and a process called bâttonage – stirring of the lees in barrel – which ensures normal autolysis while developing a creamy palate. Such wines are suited to seafood with rich sauces.

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Aroma or bouquet?

Generally, when we refer to a wine`s aroma we allude to its primary fruit characters, including its herbal and floral notes. When we refer to a wine`s bouquet, it tends to indicate a wider scope of characteristics brought about by the winemaking and aging process, during which sugars, acids, alcohols and phenolic compounds interact with at least one of three influencing components: yeast, oxygen and oak (often all three). Phenolic compounds, including anthocyanins and tannins from grape skins, are especially important in the aging process for red wine. Moreover, they provide valuable colour and texture. As the wine ages, the colour and fruit fades in minute gradations, the tannins slowly soften, molecules gradually combine, and the wine gets smoother, growing more and more harmonious with every year. Of course, not all wines have what it takes to reach old age. Most are `designed` for early and medium-length drinking. White wines darken with age, with little or no tannins, but those which are age-worthy have good acidity to assist through the years. Eventually, of course, all wines simply fade away, eventually turning into vinegar. Wine lovers enjoy the journey, from primary and secondary aromas to what we call tertiary aromas, with age. It`s why people have cellars and buy fine wine by the case, to witness wine`s unravelling over time. A bottle this year, another the next, experiencing first-hand how the wine evolves.   So, what are these intricate, precious aromas we wait so longingly to uncork? For some, in red wines, it`s a beguiling autumnal-leafy smell, an earthiness sometimes referred to as `forest floor` (in reds) or `orchard` (in whites). In others, reds can evoke aromas of truffles, and in whites, honey. Yet other reds can become meaty and even gamey with age. Texturally, aged bottles are oft described as velvety or silky, even sexy. All worth-the-wait, I`d say. In the next column we will cover still more characteristics in wine, including those secondary characters derived from the winemaking process itself.  Cheers everyone!

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May 18th – 2019 Staff Party

Just occasionally we have one of our wine-tasting dinners to ourselves – for educational reasons, you understand – and  how educational it was!  Our thanks to the team for  all your hard work!

A&Jx

May 18th – 2019

Wine-tasting Dinner, Staff Party 

Chef – Dominic Carter

Hosts – Anthony & Janet Borges

Charles Heidseick `Brut Reserve` Champagne NV, £49.99

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. Founded in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, this family-owned house is the smallest of the Grandes Marques. Their size, and commitment to excellence, has been underpinned by a winemaking team that between them have been named ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ at the International Wine Challenge 15 times. The style of their Brut Reserve is rich, soft and opulent, with pastry, pistachio, almond and brioche to the fore, while also being fresh with an elegant mousse, exhibiting underlying fruit notes of ripe apricot, mango and melon. It has had 5 years aging on its lees in their deep, cool Champagne cellars and grapes used for the base wine are of the highest quality thus deserving their Grandes Marques status.

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier.

D`Arenberg `Hermit Crab` Viognier Marsanne, McLaren Vale, Australia 2016, £16.99

Named after the calcareous remains of local marine fauna, of which the Hermit Crab is well known. It`s doubly a play on the appellation of Hermitage in France`s Rhone Valley, where Marsanne and Roussanne grapes reign supreme, and a little further north, where the appellation Condrieu is located and the Viognier grape is King. This wine has had a proportion of Viognier fermented and matured in French and American oak, adding complexity and richness to the wine. The wine has intense fruit characters of green mango and melon, with delicious notes of almond, hay, sweet spice and candied ginger.

Viognier 56%, Marsanne 35% Roussanne 9%

Emiliana `Signos de Origen` La Vinilla Estate, Casablanca Valley, Chile 2016 (Voted by Wines of Chile as ‘Winery of the Year 2016), £16.99

Organic wine with peach and apricot aromas and savoury notes of freshly cut walnuts. Smooth, fresh and creamy on the palate with depth of flavour. Aged 6 months mostly in French oak. Malolactic stopped. Battonage promotes transfer of fatty compounds and aromatics from the lees.

72% Chardonnay, 12% Viognier, 10% Marsanne, 6% Roussanne.

Domaine Saumaize Michelin `Vignes Blanches` Pouilly-Fuisse, Burgundy, France 2015, £32.99

Organic Chardonnay from Maconnais, oak matured. White peach, pear, yellow plum and melon blend in with brioche, butter, calcareous minerality and sweet spices. The palate is soft and rich. 10-25% new oak. 100% barrel fermented, 100% malolactic.

100% Chardonnay

 Seresin `Leah` Pinot Noir, Marlborough, New Zealand 2014, £23.99

Organic and biodynamically grown, wild yeast fermented, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans (no dairy products or eggs used during production). The wine has bright, fragrant berry-fruit aromas, interlaced with spice and herbal notes. It is focused and concentrated, with a succulent fruit core, framed by fine-grained tannins and a mouth-watering acidity. An elegant and understated style, savoury, with immediate appeal, but structure to last. 11 months in French oak, 15% new.

100% Pinot Noir

Two Paddocks `Picnic`, Central Otago, New Zealand 2012, £28.99

Sam Neill`s Picnic wine has typical redcurrant and vanilla spice on the nose, the warm 2012 adding wildflower, bramble and spice into the mix. It is fermented and matured in `medium toast` French oak for 10 months. A savoury, atypically restrained style for the region.

100% Pinot Noir

Marques de Murrieta Rioja Reserva, Spain 2013, £26.99

Classic Rioja with red cherry fruit but also black fruits of plum and blackberry, accompanied by toast, leather, vanilla and a herbal note. This is elegant, classy Rioja. 16 months in American oak barrels.

83% Tempranillo, 9% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo, 3% Garnacha.

 Ventisquero `Vertice`, Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley, Chile 2007 £26.99

Joint venture wine between Australian winemaker John Duval and Felipe Tosso, Dark, smoky red with cassis and black cherries intermingled with vanilla and cinnamon spicy oak, cured meat, chocolate, black olive and black pepper. A slight tertiary earth/game quality persists on the finish, velvet smooth. 18 months in American French oak.

51% Carmenere and 49% Syrah

Peller Estates Icewine Vidal Blanc, Niagara, Canada 375ml 2016, £45.99

A rare dessert wine produced from the juice of naturally frozen Vidal grapes that have been picked in the middle of a cold Canadian winter. This intensely sweet golden wine has an aromatic bouquet of lemon marmalade, caramelized oranges, golden pineapple, star anise, brown sugar, peach and honey.

100% Vidal Blanc

Menu

Salmon en Papillote Garlic and Lemon Butter

Creamy Tuscan Chicken Thighs with Crisp Pastry Disc and Toasted Pine Nuts

Rump of Lamb, Potato Vegetable and Thyme Terrine, Aubergine & Parmesan Puree and Lamb Jus

Cheese platter

Lemon and Yuzu Tart, Confit Lemon and Lime Zest