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By George that was good… 31/3/17

My thanks to George Randall, guest speaker, for an impressive presentation. George waxed lyrical, a shining light under which we all basked. Well done, young man!

Guest speaker: George Randall – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Jon Cutts

Wines of France versus Rest of the World

We did not not go head to head, comparing like for like, rather we appraised each wine in its own right, one at a time, judging its quality, authenticity and value for money. We scored wines out of 20 and between us, at the end of the evening, determined  which faired best: France, or Rest of the World. And the winner was…… first take a look at the selection of wines and the delicious food we enjoyed with them. Chef Jon Cutts, previously Demi Chef de Partie at Buckingham Palace and most recently head chef for Jam Tartz,  is now self employed and for private hire. He comes thoroughly recommended.



Cotes du Rhone Blanc , La Fleur Solitaire £11.99

Domaine du Petit Metris Savenieres £18.99

Montagny 1er Cru Les Jardins Feillat-Juillot £26.99

Rest of the world

Emiliana Signos De Origen `La Vinilla` Casablanca Valley (Chardonnay, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne) £14.99


Seguret Rhone, Boutinot £16.99

Rest of the world

Kloster Eberbach Crescentia , Spatburgunder (trocken) £26.99

Emiliana “Coyam”, £24.99

Cadus Malbec, £16.99


One wild card served `blind` – guess France or Rest of the World

Price point: £


Mussel & crab tart with a light curried mayonnaise.

Potted rabbit with piccalilli & sourdough toast.

Roasted pork loin with Smoked bacon & sherry puy lentils with spinach

Cheese Platter

The results:

One guest for France, three guests a  tie and the  rest of the table : Rest of the World.

Winning wine: the amazing Emiliana Signos De Origen, white wine of Chile. A real beauty from Casablanca Valley.

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Look to the source…

Look to the source … and the sauce.

Continuing this column on the theme of wine and food, it is logical to look to the source of the wine to see what the locals eat with them. After all, more often than not the wines have been produced historically with the local foodstuff in mind. Let`s take Argentina: what they have achieved with the Malbec grape, in terms of both its notoriety and the sheer level of flavour concentration, is remarkable. Indeed, it is Malbec`s robust brambly quality they favour above all else at home to accompany their rich, succulent meats, and especially their beef. In Chile their national dish is Ceviche, typically made from fresh fish cured in citrus juices, lemons and limes, and seasoned with onions, salt, coriander and chilli peppers. It is no coincidence they produce vast amounts of citrusy Sauvignon Blanc wines to go with it; they are perfect together. Travel north to California USA and you`ll find their beach barbecues are being washed down with the brambly, fruit-rich red wines of the Zinfandel grape. In Australia the full-bodied fruit-driven Shiraz reds do a similar job, UK`s favourite choice with the barbecue.    There are also influences from elsewhere, naturally – and these will be reflected in the foods and wines produced in any given country. For example the Spanish-Mexican, Italian and French-Mediterranean influences in California brought about their Californian nouvelle cuisine and a new food ethic emerged, and with it new wines to compliment the new foods.   In New Zealand the rich and varied seafood available to them brought about the production of white wines to match, both Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay shining examples. NZ lamb inspired the production of Pinot Noir, the juicy-red meat perfectly suited to the fresh, fragrant red fruits of their elegant Pinot Noir wines. Finally, from South Africa there is the national relish they call Chakalana ..  its own spicy hot-pot relish and its own eponymous wine (by Spice Route) to match. This delicious, spicy Swartland red wine is a complex blend of 29% Syrah, 29% Mourvedre, 13% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 8% Tannat & 8% Petite Syrah. A great barbecue wine at £14.99 per bottle and all the sauce you need.

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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The Marriages in Heaven

Let me introduce you to some truly great wine and food matches (the so-called marriages in heaven). Why not experiment with some of them. I promise you these are well and truly tested. My top twenty: 20. Port & Stilton (alternatively Sauternes & Roquefort). 19. Sancerre &  goat`s cheese. 18. Chablis & oysters. 17.  Côtes-du- Rhône & charcuterie. 16. Thai Goong Paow & Dry Riesling. 15.  Vietnamese fish-soup & Gruner-Veltliner. 14. White Burgundy & Turbot (or Dover Sole). 13.  Chianti &  Puttanesca. 12.   Muscadet Sur Lie & Moules Marinière with French fries (think of Paris). 11. Rioja Reserva & roasted lamb. 10.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas & roast beef (with a meaty gravy), aka Sunday roast at home for a treat ….. 9.  Champagne with Caviar (if you never have, you should try this). 8. Pinot Noir & grilled salmon. 7.  simple Rioja & Paella (or a pale dry Rosé with seafood Paella). 6.  Sauternes with Foie Gras. 5. Zinfandel & Chilli Con Carni. 4. Mature claret & Beef Wellington. 3.  St Joseph (Northern Rhone Syrah) with steak. 2.  Barolo & beef stew. 1.  Nuits-Saint-Georges (red burgundy, Pinot Noir) and rare to medium-rare roast beef or lamb.

Of course for every wine style I could suggest an alternative. There are different ways of doing things. For example, instead of Sauternes and Foie Gras how about the little known Jurançon Doux of 100% Petit Manseng grapes grown in the Pyrenees, together with  Carl Shillingford`s local meat patés – a luxurious way to start a meal,  a fresher more vibrant sweet wine and slightly meatier paté  than Foie Gras, and a whole lot less controversial! Another: instead of Chablis with oysters, Picpoul de Pinet – at 50% less cost it offers similar qualities; true it`s not quite as good, and the best of Chablis is better than the best of Picpoul, but it`s nonetheless a match in heaven.

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Wines of Mentzendorff

Thank you those of you who joined us for our mid-week table of eighteen last night. The food was excellent – well done, Tony – every dish a blinder! The wines were also spot on, an exemplary  selection  from the Mentzendorff portfolio.  My thanks especially to our guest speaker, Alastair Fleming, who did a sterling job of steering us through the evening`s wines.

Guest speaker: Alastair Fleming – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

Wines of Mentzendorff

Bollinger Brut Champagne, France, £38.99 – aperitif

Pinot Noir dominated superstar Grande Marque from Champagne. Showing beautifully on the night..

Muscadet “Sur Lie” Domaine de Grand Maison 2014, France, £13.99

Delicate aromas of stone and citrus fruit, fresh, fruity with a lasting finish. I liked the pale intensity of this wine, superb with the mussels.

Langlois-Chateau Pouilly-Fumé  2015, France, £22.99

Pale yellow with greenish hues. A fresh and intense nose of citrus, fruits and almonds. The palate is wonderfully fruity with a note of gunflint on the finish. A superb match with the goat`s cheese.

Chanson Rully Blanc, Burgundy 2014, France, £23.99

Delicate fragrances of lime blossom mixed with citrus fruit and fresh honey. Beautiful aromatic freshness. Long and crisp aftertaste with a delicate minerality. Delicious with the mushroom and pastry.

Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage “Petite Ruche”, Rhone 2012, France, £16.99

Black cherry liqueur aromas run through the heart of this savoury Rhone red. Full-bodied, complex, layered and delicious. This wine is a beauty – stylish cool-climate Syrah. Terrific with the lamb`s sweet jus.

 Roda Reserva, Rioja 2011, £34.99

Profound, fruity and delicately spiced Tempranillo . On the palate it was firm with cherry-like flavours and  fine-grained tannins. A serious wine, it oozes elegance and purity. We tasted this wine the lamb too. Each matched in its own way, the Syrah with the jus and the Rioja with the meat.

Turkey Flat Shiraz, Barossa Valley 2014, £38.99

Iconic Shiraz with red violets, currants, plum and liquorish. Rich, generous and structured with low yield and intelligent use of oak. This is clearly a heavy weight, still a little closed but with lots of promise.

Taylor`s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port 2002, £36.99

Deep purple-black with narrow magenta rim. Shows some attractive bottle age on the nose. Warm plum and cherry jam on the mouth. A subtle, elegant wine.  Lovely.. still so fresh.

Taylor`s 20 Year Old Tawny Port, £44.99

Opulent and voluptuous nose of complex spicy, jammy and nutty aromas. The palate is full of very rich and concentrated flavour – amazing wine.



Moules, white wine, shallots & cream

Goats cheese, beetroot, asparagus, walnut dressing

Chicken, cepes and chestnut mushroom pastry

Slow roasted lamb, bramble glaze, gratin potatoes

Cheese platter


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Break with traditon

Let`s break with tradition. Everyone knows white wine goes with fish, but why not try a decent Pinot Noir with red snapper in red wine butter sauce, or with bouillabaisse. Or try one with Salade Niçoise using tuna steaks and our Italian mixed olives atop – it`s a blinder! Another one: let`s break with white wine and white meat; instead try Rioja with pork or with chicken and chorizo casserole. Now let`s try that backwards: white wine with red meat. Can that work? Yes it can: with cold cuts full-bodied whites come into their own, and Vintage Champagne is text book if you like bubbles. Of course there are no hard and fast rules. We can drink what we like after all. In Germany it is the practice to drink high quality dry Riesling with goose; I would prefer one of their delicious Spätburgunder reds; for some only red will do.  Incidentally a customer also told me that with the right stuffing – involving ginger and apricots – a Gewürztraminer can also be great with fatty goose. It`s also been suggested that a fillet of beef steak with Champagne works well, the point of view being if a high acid Riesling can work with fatty goose, why not a high acid Champagne with fatty steak… but this is going too far for me. Why pass up an opportunity for a steak worthy red, after all… Next time you are planning your dinner come talk to us at The Wine Centre in Great Horkesley. We can suggest matching wines, of course, but also perhaps we can put our minds together and tinker with the menu for something just a little bit different….

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Having a dinner party?


Let`s assume you are having a dinner party – the sort of evening you put on your nice chinos and get out the best cutlery, maybe even light some pretty candles; as opposed to a barbecue or a casual supper. These are the special occasions which provide us with opportunities to open fine wines. This is theatre now, where the decanter and fish-bowl size glasses are at home. In preparation for such events many of our customers come to us to be advised on the most suitable wines for the occasion, and it`s not unusual for us to go through entire menus, with dish-by-dish recommendations. Here now I will provide some brief insight into the thought process behind matching wine with food.

So, in the first place we naturally draw from our own personal experiences, but also there is the benchmark, long-established matches – the so-called marriages in heaven: Oysters with Chablis, etc.  We`ll get to these in future weeks.  But menus don`t always have obvious wine choices and this is where it gets to be fun – where off-the-map food combinations require deduction and best-guess analyses. So here`s my approach: First, I consider the food in weight terms and I aim approximately for equilibrium – a light dish with a heavy wine will be overpowered. Yet by the same token a light, yet fervent dish – with a certain spice or flavour intensity – will require a light but equally intense, vibrant wine. A benchmark example of this is light, spicy Thai with light, dry (or off-dry) Riesling. The zesty acidity of the white wine quells the spice. A richer dish will correspondingly be more suited to a richer wine: Lobster risotto with Chardonnay, Viognier or Albariño, for example.

Another approach to matching like for like is matching by contrasting – often explosive taste sensations, for example pitching sweet wine against the savoury salt of cheese. Port with stilton still one of our favourites… happy days…

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Australasia fun!


We enjoyed an excellent evening with bubbly guest speaker Tom Grundy and chef Tony Bell in scintillating form. Best wine of the evening, for me, was the suave Vasse Felix Chardonnay which went beautifully with Tony`s Confit of salmon loin. All the wine/food matches were precision perfect, except arguably (for me) the Viognier with Sunbeam tomato dish; both wine and dish delicious, but together a slight jar.  The best wine/food match difficult to choose, but in my book by a nose it was the  beautiful Picnic Pinot Noir with mushroom and pastry savoury … my that was good. Thanks everyone for coming and for contributing to what was a great fun and gloriously indulgent evening. Notes and menu to follow:

Guest speaker: Tom Grundy – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

Jansz Premium Cuvée, aperitif £18.99

Tasmania, Australia, NV

A rich, biscuity Champagne-alternative from the coolest part of the country. Comes in a great box!

Pewsey Vale Riesling £15.99

Eden Valley, Australia, 2015

The very first vineyard planted in the Eden Valley, in 1847. Very fine, classic, dry, mineral Aussie Riesling

Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc £15.99

Marlborough, New Zealand, 2015

Very good example of what Marlborough is best at – lean, zingy Sauvignon with herbaceous tang

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 11.99

South Australia, 2015

Delightful peachy-flavoured wine, floral and beguiling

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2014, £24.99

Margaret River, Australia, 2014

One of the most elegant Chardonnays of Australia. Very fine citrusy poise. Long, long after-taste. Delicious!

Two Paddocks `Picnic` Pinot Noir, Central Otago, £28.99

Central Otago, New Zealand, 2014

Delicate, aromatic and berry-scented Pinot from the most southerly growing region in the world. Superb with the mushroom.

Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Cabernet Merlot £18.99

Margaret River, Australia, 2014

Elegant, classic Margaret River. Stylish wine and a terric choice with the beef.

Victoria Park Shiraz Viognier, £10.99

South Australia, 2014

Rich, plummy Shiraz lightened by a dash of aromatic Viognier

Running With Bulls Tempranillo, South Australia £11.99

South Australia, 2014

Generous, moreish Spanish grape grown Down Under. Hugely popular our end of the table.



Lime and ginger marinade twice cooked pork belly, ‘pickled’ cabbage

Chilli-roasted feta, watermelon, oregano dressing

Sunbeam tomatoes, dry roasted cumin and herbed scented ricotta, balsamic glaze

Confit of salmon loin, green gazpacho

Mushroom savoury

Sweet soy braised beef, mango & sesame salad

Cheese platter

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Doing it the French Way

When choosing a wine to go with a particular dish some consideration should duly be given to the protein on the plate – the meat or fish. It is the central component and important. However, it is rarely served alone so to consider it in isolation would be wrong.  A dish might be highly seasoned, or the sauce (the jus) might be light and fresh or rich and sweet. The vegetables might be fresh, roasted and/or honey-glazed. It can be a busy plate or a simple one. With simple Chicken Caesar Salad I like a decent Chardonnay, for example. On the other hand Coq au Vin (with its red wine sauce) without a Rhone red wouldn`t be Coq au Vin at all, and with Chardonnay would be plain wrong. So consider the dish as a whole when you are choosing your matching wine for supper, and avoid wines which will likely over power the dish, or be overpowered. Your merchant will help you choose, naturally. The next choice is whether to follow the main course with a desert and finish with the cheeses, or to follow the main with the cheeses and finish the evening with desert. This is the French way, and I prefer it. Sticking with the savoury until the end gives more scope for wine-drinking continuity; no reason at all why you can`t  finish off the same dry white you have been enjoying with the sea bass, it is likely to go as well with the cheeses as any red. Additionally you might bring forward the sweet wine you have chosen for desert and enjoy the contrasting sensation of its sweet taste next to the salt in the cheese. It can be explosive on the palate and joyous. Happy days…

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley  Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday. Telephone 01206 271 236 , email

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Pol Roger, great fun


Our first wine-tasting dinner of the new year on the 45th President of the USAs inaugural evening, with, ironically, Pol Rogers Winston Churchill in the line up! The evening was a great success (our evening, I mean;  no doubt Mr Trump enjoyed his too). The aforementioned WC Champagne was indeed a highlight, but for me one of several. For example, the aperitif Pol Roger Reserve I found thrilling – in part, possibly, because it was my first drink of the year and boy was I ready for it! But no, as NV Champagnes go its definitely up there with the best of them, a delicious drop no question. The wildcard of the evening came next with Tonys crab risotto and I loved that too. In fact, penny for penny quite possibly the best wine of the evening in value terms. Truly I loved it: orchard aromas leap from the glass; one I look forward to again. But for me every wine on the evening was singing – all exemplary and the food matching superbly.  Oh what fun… what a great start to 2017. My thanks to our guests and to Tony Bell who did a great job of the food and to the charming George Prideaux who was both informing and entertaining.

Guest speaker, George Prideaux (Pol Roger), chef Tony Bell & host Anthony Borges

  1. Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV, £43.99, £39.59 – aperitif

33% Pinot Noir 34% Chardonnay 33% Pinot Meunier – a blend of 30 still base wines from villages throughout Champagne. Aged in cellars for 3.5 to 4 years before released. Very fine and elegant.

2. Josmeyer Pinot Blanc `Mise du Printemps` 2015 £18.99, £16.75

The grapes are harvested by hand and are exclusively from organic and bio-dynamic farming. Clean crisp and fresh wine with lovely balanced acidity.

3. Chablis, Drouhin-Vaudon 2014, £18.99, £16.75

This is an unoaked elegant wine. Typical Chablis nose, where aromas of citrus (lemon) and even salty sensations predominate. On the palate: vigorous and lively, but in a soft mode. A lot of finesse and balance.

  1. Pol Roger `Winston Churchill` 2004 £155.00, £139.00

The Prestige Cuvée was created in homage to Sir Winston Churchill. it is undeniable that the composition would meet with the approval of the man to whom it is dedicated: “My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best”

  1. Fleurie `Hospices de Belleville` 2014 £18.99, £16.75

Boasting a pretty ruby, violet colour, the wine begins by expressing floral notes of violet, rose, with a typical peppery note which then evolves into red fruits. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky with soft tannins.

Côte de Beaune Rouge Joseph Drouhin 2014, £33.99, £29.99

12 to 15 month oak ageing (10% new) a true delight and a great harmony! Delicate and fruity aromas such as strawberry and red currant. On the palate, the tannins are refined and lend a nice roundness to the body.

  1. Rosso di Montalcino, Biondi-Santi 2012, £36.99, £33.00

The Rosso di Montalcino White Label comes from the younger Sangiovese vineyards (between 5 and 10 years old). The wine is aged for 12 months in Slavonian oak casks and it is a wine which is released ready to drink, with a young and fruity profile.

  1. Braccale IGT Toscana 2012, £20.99, £18.75

Produced with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot from the South-west facing vineyards of Scansano, with vines aged 10-15 years.  Matured for 10 months in French Barriques of Troncais wood.

  1. Crown Estates Aszu 5 Puttonyos 5, 2000 (50cl) £34.99, £29.50

The wine is deep yellow gold with an intense nose with impressive perfume and richness. Beautifully balanced with acidity, a blend of 50% Furmint & 50% Hárslevelü.


Crab risotto

Prawns ‘home boiled’ with mayonnaise

Scallops, salmon medallion, leek cream

Slow reared poached chicken, celery, porcini reduction, black truffle infusion
Cheese board

Chocolate marmalade ‘slump’ pudding



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The aperitif

The `snack` and `aperitif` moment – when you get home from work or when the guests first arrive, provides for the best ever wine and food moment, in my mind. Slightly touched by fatigue, hunger and thirst, it can provide relief and thrill simultaneously – and a good match will be delicious and even celebratory.  Here are a few of my favourites:  `Snyder`s of Hanover` – served with the popular white burgundy Macon-Charnay “Clos-Saint-Pierre”. The salt and the crunch of the pretzel with the golden yellow liquid is intensely satisfying.   Another is the roasted and salted `Hider Jumbo Peanuts` , explosive on the palate with the white Rhone  “La Fleur Solitaire”, still a best seller here. And there again, there are the Tomato & Basil Mini Breadsticks, being our choice with Vintage Champagne when the occasion warrants it – the acidity of the Champagne offset neatly by the crisp breadstick. It`s just perfect. Of course, there are a thousand such snacks, but with no more effort you might reach for the fridge instead. Ours, in the shop, is full of goodies. Pinney`s of Orford smoked salmon with our Alsace Hugel Riesling, the smoked prawns with Billaud-Simon Chablis – true, they are a bit messy, but guests love getting stuck in, and provided you have a finger bowl…. The smoked fish paté works well served on our Peter`s Yard sourdough crispbreads with pear slices and watercress . With these dainties our Cuvee Jean Paul `house` wine is as good as any, pleasantly dry and crisp. Or a pale, dry Rosé instead, possibly – such as our Pasquiers.

Other occasions require a red at the start of the evening, when white or rosé just won`t cut it. Charcuterie works for me with a flavourful light red, such as our Vieux Quartier Bourgogne Rouge. Even better Pinney`s smoked duck with Allegrini`s Valpollicella. So many thrills .. why not pop into  the shop to taste a few for yourselves tomorrow between 11am and 1pm?

Anthony Borges

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley

Opening hours 10am to 6.30pm Monday to Saturday.

Telephone 01206 271 236 , email