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Charlie Stocker, Masterchef

Masterchef – Charlie Stocker

Masterchef – Charlie Stocker

Masterchef Charlie Stocker is coming to Great Horkesley – book your tickets now!

Charlie`s credentials

  • MasterChef: Professional – Quarter Finalist 2012
  • Essex Chef of the Year – Runner up 2012
  • Acorn Scholarship – High Commended 2012
  • 21 years old
  • Holds Fine Dining Tasting Menu Pop Ups
  • Likes to forage or locally source whenever possible
  • Caters for events/private dining
  • Hosts and appears at cookery schools and foraging courses

In Charlie`s words:

“Having been brought up within a family of passionate cooks and chefs, I have always been interested in food and have enjoyed learning about it from an early age. I loved watching my butcher Uncle prep meat, and regularly baking cakes with my Nan. With this interest in food at the age of 14, I took a job in an outside catering company. From there I went to work and gain experience in several Essex restaurants including ‘The Compasses’ at Pattiswick and ‘Grahams on the Green’ in Writtle.  I then furthered my horizons and went to London with permanent spells and stages at several Michelin star restaurants. More recently I ran the small pastry section at the very busy ‘Rock Inn’ in Georgeham, North Devon, after which I ran a small kitchen in Writtle, where they use the best utensils for cooking as knives from sites as I’m now 21. I am hugely passionate about foraging in a sustainable manner, and sourcing local produce. I strive to include this in all of my unique menus.”


Charlie`s latest adventure is his pop-ups – appearing, as if by magic, at interesting venues around Essex and in London – recently he has popped up here at The Wine Centre, at Mersea Island Vineyard and at Chappel`s East Anglia Railway Museum, on platform 2.  The evenings offer a unique fine-dining experience in an unusual, atmospheric environment. Charlie brings something special to Essex with his pop-ups, offering foodies the excitement of spontaneity and great food. His cutting-edge cooking and innovative menus are already legendary, and the lad just 21 years of age!

Now we have scheduled more pop-ups – November 8th and November 15th sold out immediately they were offered so we`ve added an extra on October 11th,  £75 per ticket: Now on sale. I`m sure we`ll be inviting Charlie back next year as well – until finally Charlie realises his dream and buys his own restaurant. Let`s all hope it`ll be in Essex!



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Wine with Classic British Food

Wine with Classic British Food

British cuisine is not what it used to be: in the last decade it has improved beyond recognition!

We have fantastic food served up in pubs, some of the best restaurants in the world and many of us eat better and healthier in our homes as well, even if people gets sick, nowadays a lot of remedies exists, you can check more on the healthyusa review site. Okay yes it`s true, in our busy world nowadays much of the nation relies too heavily on “ready-meals”, but there again these are better than ever before, healthier and tastier, created by the supermarkets and farm shops in response to new consumer demand. The changes in our tastes have been brought about in part because of the media promoting good food and healthy eating. As we know there`s been a  boom in cooking programmes and chefs  like Jamie Oliver are TV personalities and celebrities. We are encouraged to cook at home and, as a result, a great many more of us are experimenting and eating a good, balanced diet. Eating healthy foods can lead to a great body figure. People can also take tummy tuck reno nv procedure if they want to achieve a quick body figure with natural looking effect. We still have a long way to go as a nation, but the stage is set: It`s cool to cook. We have a choice of foods from around the world now, giving us greater scope to try out international dishes which continue to influence the way we cook and eat. And these we discover as we travel more frequently and wider than ever before, returning to recreate those dishes here in Britain. We enjoy the diversity and collectively we are broadening our horizons. All this is great news for Britain. No longer can the French sneer at “la mauvaise cuisine d’anglais”! Moreover, the growing trend for drinking wine with food has burgeoned as the world of wine has simultaneously opened up to more of us – and now even the average pub-restaurants are offering a range of wines by the glass. As a nation our relatively new love affair with good wine and food in Britain has been a cultural explosion which in part reflects the new multi-racial society we have become.

However, most recently, in these last few years, we have witnessed a small about-turn in the trend for internationalism. There has been an instinctive, almost atavistic, return to our roots. Once again we long for what is quintessentially British food and local produce. We are seeing the return of the seasonal veggie box; there`s a new spate of cries to Buy British; consumers are demanding more information – they want fair treatment of animals, there`s  the desire for “organic” and “low carbon count”. All these factors have led to the return of our classic dishes as we have never seen them before. Nowadays a more discerning and demanding consumer has insisted on quality and the best of British food can be counted amongst the greatest cuisine in the world. Now acknowledging this return to our roots I felt it time to look again at our classic dishes and the wines to serve with them. No longer pie and chips swimming in gravy washed down with brown ale…. this is a bold new world.

Let`s celebrate our classic dishes

I have selected a list of our favourite classic British dishes and made some wine recommendations to go with them. My recommendations are meant as a guide, but they are neither emphatic or complete, because there are many ways of looking at a dish and pairing a wine with it; and because I have my favourites and draw largely from my own experiences. My Desert Island wine region is Cotes du Rhone, for instance, so you might well expect to see recommendations from there. Such as it is, I hope you will find it useful.

Fish` n ` Chips

I suppose it has to be said, our national dish as seen by the world outside of Britain is probably still ‘fish and chips’ served in a newspaper! Well I`ve not had a newspaper wrapping for a long time, have you? More is the point, the fish and chips are better than ever. With the very necessary batter and grease and salt and vinegar your only hope as a wine match is a crisp, acidic dry white which will cut through it all and cleanse the palate. If the occasion warrants it – on the beach at Aldeburgh perhaps? – pop open a bottle of bubbly and spare no expense: there is a certain hedonism like no other in slumming it with `fish and chips` and fine Champagne! My first choice: Joseph Perrier “Yellow Label” (it is light and super-fresh), alternatively for the Englishness of the occasion why not our own local Carter`s Vineyard English Sparkling!


Oysters are a local famous dish here in Colchester.   Chablis and Muscadet Sur Lie are both text book because of the “pebbles in a glass” quality of the former and the “ yeasty lees” character of the latter (both shell-like); but truly any dry white will work with oysters provided it has a degree of minerality. Champagne also works well if you are in the mood for bubbles.

Jellied eels – a famous Twickenham dish, not unlike oysters (as above)


Traditional chicken casserole has comforting herby dumplings and a good deal of root vegetables – turnips, carrots and onions – which makes it so fabulously hearty and seasonable. My first choice is Cotes du Rhone Rouge. With Lancashire hotpot or lamb casserole I would choose a red with a little more weight, example Rioja Reserva. With a very rich and heavy dish such as beef or game stew, I would go bigger still, top Australian Shiraz, Chateauneuf du Pape or Barolo….. in fact the choice is endless, but the point is I would match the weight, richness and power of the dish with similar robustness in the wine, so that one doesn`t swamp out the other.

Roast Dinners

Typically our Sunday Roast, when family gets together. As such it is deserving of good wine and a great feast.

White Meats

Where chicken and turkey are concerned there is often a ridiculous number of vegetables and sauces on the plate and very often sausage meat and bacon as well – the whole caboodle a waft of smells, flavours and textures –  pointless therefore to match with the meat precisely. Instead I would choose a good fruity red to wash over it all, quite possibly another Cotes du Rhone. With the turkey on Christmas Day we will either have a good Rhone, a Pinot Noir, Cru Beaujolais or some other similarly delicious red fruited wine from another part of the world. If my father is offering, however, with the Pattock`s Farm bronze turkey we might well break the seal of his case of 1990 Pomerol!

Incidentally, the precise match with roast chicken, turkey – or indeed pork – would be, for me, my favourite White Burgundy or a good New Zealand Chardonnay.

Red Meats

Roast Lamb is the natural choice partner with claret, and not just because the salt marsh lamb is raised on river banks of Bordeaux.     But a juicy lamb chop is delicious with Pinot Noir – and in NZ the Kiwis more often than not enjoy their lamb with Pinot.

Roast Beef deserves, arguably, the best of  reds: My favourites Northern Rhone,  claret,  burgundy and Italy`s Amarone. Recently, I enjoyed Sunday Roast Beef with Heru Pinot Noir from Chile and it was delicious. But if I am having Sunday lunch in a gastro-pub I will, in all honesty, enjoy the local bitter. Two pints of Adnams and Roast Beef in one of our locals and i`m set for the afternoon!

Beef steak – rump or fillet, with all the trimmings (I like chips & salad, but tomatoes & mushrooms instead of salad is topper), with Northern Rhone, other Syrah, possibly Cabernet Sauvignon or good Chianti.

Steak & Kidney pudding – don`t want anything too big and tannic because of the suet; besides, straightforward Cotes du Rhone is fresh against the stodgy pudding.


Game takes us back to a time when we were all hunters! Whether game-bird (duck, goose,  pheasant, grouse, quail…) or big game (venison, wild board, moose!….)  my instinct is to reach for the old vintages: a good mature claret,  burgundy, Northern Rhone  or Chateauneuf du Pape.

Game pie – we are a pie nation after all – an occasion for a good Pinot Noir, yes probably red burgundy.


Though the spices which give us curry are not home grown, the dish has a place in British psyche and surely therefore deserves a place in this list. Frankly lager can be bloating and anyway an Aspall cider would be a better choice of the two. My wine choice, however, would be a white with plenty of aromatics, such as Riesling, Pinot Gris or Viognier. With lamb or beef curry I would choose Shiraz, Pinot Noir or Cru Beaujolais. These wines serve well for spicy foods generally.

Seasonal Vegetables

Our seasonal vegetables have given rise to some of our classic dishes – but one particular vegetable is often served as the centre piece of the dish in its own right and we look forward to its arrival with a degree of anticipation: asparagus. The first asparagus with a pinch of salt, a nub of butter, possibly a shaving of parmesan or even our own cheddar, is sublime. Sauvignon Blanc works perfectly for the occasion. Alternatively if you are for all things  English try Carter`s Bacchus, its elderflower and citrus character works a treat.


Pork pies and scotch eggs are great British snacks, the first coarsely chopped, grey-coloured spiced pork in a pastry casing, the second egg wrapped in sausage with orange-coloured bread crumb shell. Both great with real ale in pubs – but with wine at home a Cru Beaujolais.

Sausage Rolls, sausage meat in flaky pastry, the nation`s party snack, is delicious with an easy drinking Zinfandel.

Cheese on toast is another favourite snack of the nation, with or without sliced tomato on top, or a mustard-spiked variation on the theme, Welsh Rabbit. My first choice a glass of cold milk. But in the spirit of adventure I would guest Chardonnay – possibly Pinot Gris with Welsh Rabbit.

Baked beans on toast [optionally with cheese on top] as above with cold milk – for wine, if pushed, Beaujolais Villages? Okay i`m struggling now….

Fruits, Nuts & Cheeses…

The nation`s most anticipated favourite British fruit is the Strawberry! The one fruit we all really look forward to – and rightly on this list, a classic, with meringue and cream. In season this is a classic with a hot cup of tea – alternatively serve with Italian Moscato d`Asti, Moncucco, its sweet-tasting, grapey flavour and light sparkle the perfect accompaniment. Also works well with Bakewell Pudding, its distinctive layer of jam and its egg-almond filling a favourite of mine.

Apples are also so very British, aren`t they? Goodness knows why we find foreign imports on our supermarket shelves! Apple pie is a classic like no other, served hot with vanilla ice cream or help-yourself cold out of the fridge! Alternatively apples and pears, baked and poached, are delicious traditional farmhouse fodder, the apples often spiced with cloves and cinnamon for the festive aromas. Or simply apples (or pears) served with cheeses,  a splendid cheese platter and a chance to show off our fine British cheddars and stiltons. Explosive combinations include Sweet Vouvray and Late Harvest Riesling – and of course the famous matching of vintage port with stilton.

Nuts – autumnal and festive, at Christmas, especially walnuts, brazil nuts and almonds,  – best enjoyed with an old British fancy: Amontillado or Oloroso.

Fruit & Nut Cake (Dundee Cake, Christmas Cake with icing) – all packed full of nuts and dried fruits and laced with brandy… there are a host of these, for which a wine match might include a number of amber to dark sweet wines and fortified wines.

And suet puddings too….. many of these British puddings date back to early eighteenth century, notably Christmas Pudding – originally with plum, dense with raisins, sultanas, currants, candied peel and nuts, with dark sugars, black treacle, stout and  sweet spices, cinnamon and nutmeg; Spotted Dick – suet pudding and currants; and Jam Rolly-Polly-  a flat-rolled suet pudding spread with jam (both served with custard), these last two requiring a golden Muscat.

            Other old favourites:


Sticky Toffee Pudding and vanilla ice cream (a steamed sponge pudding with dates, prunes and toffee saunce), served with vanilla ice cream or custard (alternatively  Treacle Tart); Victoria Sponge, with strawberry jam;  Bread-and-butter pudding – day-old bread with sultanas, cinnamon, nutmeg and lots of cream; and Sussex Pond, suet pudding with lemon butter and brown sugar-crumb custard.  Again these last puds requiring golden Muscat or possibly Late Harvest Riesling.

All so homely and comforting…..

All so heavenly and gloriously British … a match with intensely sweet dark wines such as Pedro Ximenez, Sweet Oloroso, Maury, Banyuls, Tawny port & Madeira Bual, or for the lighter alternative try a golden sweet wine.

Now let`s reinvent them……..

The best part about returning to our roots is we can do so with experience and an open mind to develop them into better dishes than they ever were. It is good to reminisce – to hanker for a smell, flavour and texture which we crave for comfort and satisfaction. But we can do so without regressing. This is being proven in our greatest, award winning British food restaurants and we can be proud. The best are traditional – classic – but still innovative and delivered with flare.  Of course, all that is British and good is not limited to these few old classics. We have a great range of local produce – and we can make the best of these very special indeed by importing ideas, skills, recipes and ingredients, in part reflecting our new multi-cultural society, enhancing not diminishing what is quintessentially new, modern day Britain.

Food for thought

Anthony Borges

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley

01206 271 236

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November wine tasting blog

Taste of Moet Hennessy: Host Janet Borges – Speaker Anthony Borges – Chef Tony Bell

 Tasting Blog on 16th November Supper Tasting

 It was a terrific evening, such fun, thank you everyone for coming and making the evening a big success. A great way to start the evening with Cloudy Bay`s Pelorus sparkling wine, so lovely, fresh and creamy. Tony, a colossal effort from you, thank you, the smoked salmon potato pancake beetroot crème fraiche was delicious with the Ruinart, and the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay an excellent follow through. Unusual perhaps to offer the Chards  up before the Torrontes and Sauvignon, but it worked, the Chardonnays the level richness with the smoked salmon dish; then switching gear completely to the spicy Asian prawn, scallop and squid salad with the super fresh zesty aromatics of Torrentes and Sauvignon. Either of these two wines might have been served up as the aperitif, but in this context  instead they served as refreshers, as did the Asian spices, the combination dazzling, the palate newly awakened. Great stuff. Nonetheless best match of the night was, for me,  the wild venison, pheasant `tortellini` dish (the sticky blackberry jus surprising but delightful) together with the Toro. The venison was to die for; and the Numanthia its match in heaven, such rich, complex flavours. Cheval des Andes  was excellent with the cheeses – a stunning wine, and the sweet-tasting Veuve a fabulous, festive finish with the baked fig croustade with raspberry cream; both were just the right sweetness. Thank you Merrill for dressing the table so beautifully (indeed the whole shop) and to Peter as well for his terrific effort helping Tony in the kitchen. And goes without saying but thank you Janet too – what incredible energy and sparkle you have, my dear – love you loads! 🙂 Finally a huge thank you to everyone last night for your orders. Happy Christmas everyone. We look forward to seeing you again sometime soon for one of Janet`s mince pies!

 Our aperitif

 Pelorus, Cloudy Bay, Marlborough NZ £19.99 – aperitif

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir combine to produce NZ`s favourite fizz & our festive aperitif this evening. A bouquet of fresh lemon and floral notes with a yeasty aroma derived from 2 years aging on its lees. A deliciously crisp palate displays toasty, creamy complexity, fine, delicate bubbles and a nutty finish.

 Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France, £48.99

Champagne`s oldest house, prestigious and delicious! 100% Chardonnay, captivating bouquet of peach, white flowers,  citrus fruits and patisserie, on the palate pure, fresh, persistent low key bead of tiny bubbles, citrus fruits again, and a scrummy hint of  hazlenut!

 Cloudy Bay Chardonnay, Marlborough 2010 £21.99

Complex bouquet of oats, mandarin, lemon and creamy cashew, leading to silky layers of nougat, green plums and lemon tarts. Impressive richness and depth.

 Terrazas Torrontes, Salta, Argentina 2010, £13.99

Aromatic, fruity, exotic wine from high up in the Andes. Complex bouquet of pears, liquorice,  jasmine and roses, showing  remarkable freshness. Completely un-oaked – deliciously clean-cut. Ideal with the Asian dish.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2012 £21.99

The new 2012 vintage has just been released. The verdict: a great but small vintage! Its bouquet has notes of elderflower, green lime zest and peach. On the palate zesty citrus characters are enhanced by an edge of minerality and sweet herbs.   

 Terrazas Reserve Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 2008, £13.99

Characteristic violets and black fruits, cherries, prunes and raisins, supported by a tantalising trace of vanilla and caramel. Structured and concentrated yet soft and broad on the palate. A  warming  red for the Autumn and Winter months.

 Numanthia, Toro, Spain 2008, £37.99

100% Tempranillo, Numanthia is a potent and full-bodied red with aromas of cassis, blackberry, cedar, spice and coffee. Aged for 20 months in French oak barrels, it serves up rich flavours of blackberry, chocolate and spice, leaving a long and memorable finish. Powerful, layered and complex, it is enjoyable immediately but will also reward 10 years’ cellaring. Perfect with the venison.

 Cheval des Andes, Mendoza, Argentina 2007 £55.99

Joint venture wine with famed Cheval Blanc,  Argentina`s sole grand cru comprising of 60% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot and Petit Verdot  grapes. Aged 18 months in French oak, it is sumptuous yet refined, with aromas of sandalwood, exotic spices & floral notes, followed by a richly fruited, explosive mouth full of blue and black fruits. Might well have worked with beef or game better than the creamy cheeses on the platter (and not quite right with the blue), but a perfectly fine match with the hard cheeses – and frankly outstanding in its own right. 

  Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec Champagne NV £38.99

Deep golden champagne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier, with rich, sweet scents of candied fruits and brioche, followed on the palate by a mellow fruitiness, delightful freshness and even effervescence. [thankfully the wine was sweet enough for the dish, a perfect match]. 

10% discount for orders received during November, thank you

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Essex Life Retailer of the Year 2012

The Wine Centre

The Causeway, Great Horkesley, CO6 4BH

Independent Retailer of the Year 2012

The Wine Centre at Great Horkesley is a specialist wine merchant conveniently situated on the A134, with plenty of free parking. A grade II listed building, it has been a wine merchant for 49 years, its last twelve under the ownership of the current management, Anthony and Janet Borges. They stock over 500 wines from around the world and the full drinks compliment of spirits, liqueurs, ciders, beers and soft drinks – everything you could want for a party! In the last few years they have added a fledgling deli, gift room and Riedel glassware to their portfolio, and after a major refurbishment last year they have grown from strength to strength, in spite of the economic downturn. Their success has been recognised within the wine industry with recent awards from Wines of Spain, New Zealand Winegrowers and Wines of Chile. And now they have been awarded 1st prize and the prestigious title of Essex Life Retailer of the Year 2012. They are especially proud of this achievement because it includes the food category for the first time, for which they have worked so hard in recent years, and because it is a recognition of their work locally. 

Anthony has travelled the vineyards of the world extensively over the years and puts his experience and expertise to good use now as wine buyer and educator, his enthusiasm for wine and food contagious. He hosts regular wine tastings and suppers at the shop, working with small independent winegrowers from around the world and with local chef, Tony Bell. Wine and food being the thread which runs through the wine centre, it is no surprise their fastest growing gift category is hampers, with national distribution and the promise of a great future in the bespoke hamper business. Anthony credits his team and a great community for the success of The Wine Centre. In tough times with so much bad news in our newspapers, this is a real life good news story – one of which we can all be proud.

E-Mail: Tel: 01206 271 236

Essex County Standard 26/10/12       


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Taste of Guigal

Guest speaker Brett Crittenden  – host Anthony Borges – Chef Tony Bell 

Some of us think this was the best tasting yet – fab food – and a truly exceptional range of wines. But also true some of us have said this before! For me, given Rhone is my Desert Island choice region, it`s as true as it can be. I loved the whites as much as I did the reds, which was perhaps surprising given the theme THINK RED. But Tony`s bass fillet bourride with fennel set them ablaze. Then there was the curious, daring and DELICIOUS Luberons inspired goats cheese  bavarois with tomato sorbet. Who would have guessed this dish would be so good and go so well. The ‘cannelone’ of confit of lamb also inspired worked a treat with the St Joseph, our only 100% Syrah of the evening. And the cheeses always so delicious were scrumptiously delicious with the Chateauneuf du Pape. Specifically however the Lincolnshire Cheddar was a precise match with the Cote Rotie. Thanks Tony – and thanks Brett for a terrific presentation!  

Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2011 (aperitif) £11.99* see c/s discount

Guigal’s white Rhone is lightly scented Viognier (apricot) which is the dominant grape mixed in with lesser known indigenous varieties, Roussane, Clairette, Marsanne and Bourboulenc. A wine with some weight, yet freshness and balance too. Served tonight as an aperitif but  try with Asiatic food or simply with chicken or fish.

St Joseph Blanc 2009, £21.99

Good open, complex nose, notes of oak amid white flowers, a full palate, pear and citrus fruits, produced from 20-50 year old vines, 95% Marsanne, 5% Roussanne,  grown in sandy/pebbly soil.

  Condrieu 2010 £36.99

This distinctive appellation of the Northern Rhône produces wine from 100% Viognier grape. Yields are notoriously low which in part accounts for the relative expense of the wine. Matured entirely in new French oak, it is best to enjoy its fleshy rounded character when relatively young. Typically golden and unctuous with peach, apricot and citrus fruits. 

 Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2009 £11.99*see c/s discount

Top Cotes du Rhone with dark fruits and black pepper, really good value, from 35 year old vines grown on limestone/granite, long soak on skins and 18 months  oak maturation. 45% Syrah, 52% Grenache, 3% Mourvedre.

 Gigondas 2009 £21.99

Guigal`s Gigondas is a long standing favourite here (note the 2004 bin end which we found buried in the warehouse!……….  the 2009 in deep, dark and spicy with liquorice and plum to the fore. Amazing complex flavours derived from a mix of 40 year old vines: 65% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre and 10% Syrah.

 St Joseph Rouge 2009, £21.99

Our only 100% Syrah of the evening, from 20-50 year old vines. Characterised by bright red berries and spice, there is also a trace of light oak character from its 28 months in used oak barrels. A good, powerful Rhone.

Chateauneuf du Pape 2006 £35.99

A serious player, Guigal`s Chateauneuf du Pape is characterised by its dominance of old Grenache (80%). A plethora of other Rhone grapes make up the blend (Syrah, Mourvedre etc). An unctuous, brawny wine, it has a concentration of dark plums and spices making it ideal with red meat, game and cheese. 

  Cote Rotie Brun et Blonde 2007 £48.99

Love this wine – 96% Syrah and 4% Viognier (the latter white grape a trick of the trade at Cote Rotie, to “lift” the wine). The nose is brimming with red fruits, berries and spices, including light oak-spice in the background. The palate is voluptuous with raspberry, blackberry and vanilla spice, a terrific finish to the evening.

 * Buy half dozen Cotes du Rhone White &/or half dozen Cotes du Rhone red for a massive 29% discount in November, net £8.50 per bottle (code ref 0099) 




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Fabulous Rhone


From the Rhone Valley good Cotes du Rhone is warming yet with a lightness and fruitiness ideally suited to the local ratatouille. Here in England try with tasty lamb chop. However, the Syrah grape comes into its own in northern Rhone, notably in Cote Rotie, Hermitage and Cornas, but also St. Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. Syrah-based wines can be rich, berry-like and tarry, substantial enough to match steak but also beef casseroles and game. In the south some thirteen southern French grape varieties make up the the paler and browner, but just as muscular and peppery, wines of Chateauneuf du Pape, where beef casseroles with lentils come into play again. The curious and expensive Rhone whites such as Condrieu (Viognier) can be as exciting and interesting as fine White Burgundy. In their own particular way they are ideal with lobster or scallops, but perhaps uniquely a match with crab, spiced parsnips and creamy curries.





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ABS Supper Wine Tasting

October 5th Wine Tasting Supper

Thanks Justin for an excellent presentation, and Tony for another fabulous food experience – the Rieslings were wonderful with the Asian Prawn Salad (the dusting of spice just so – not at all overpowering – perfect), the  Ripasso and Amarone sublime with the duck breast (what a delicious Veronese sauce!) and the parmesan potato cake a lovely topping. Biggest surprise for me was how good the Ruins white was with the Suffolk Blue cheese – and the finale while no surprise was the dreamy mix of black Muscat and chocolate (the cocoa rich chocolate was muted with sea salt, giving it a dry/bitter finish which was magnificent with the sweet, intensely concentrated sticky wine). A good group – thanks everyone!

Guest speaker Justin Sims – host Anthony Borges – Chef Tony Bell

Villa Wolf Rose de Pinot Noir, Ernst Loosen, Pfalz, Germany 2011, £9.99

A delightful Rose by Dr Loosen, light and refreshing with small red fruits. Delicate and fruity, with a little light spritz, from Pfalz. Good aperitif.

Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany 2009 £16.99

The “Lay” refers to the blue/grey slate from the area around the village of Bernkastel. Here the soil is heavier and deeper on gentler slopes than its neighbouring vineyards around Wehlen and Graach and has produced an assertive wine with hints of lime and tangerine balanced by grippy acidity. Hugely popular wine among our group.

 Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling, Spatlese, Mosel, Germany 2007 £22.99

Aka the spice garden of Urzig, S-S.W facing, steep slopes of weathered, iron-oxide rich red volcanic soil, which gives the wine its spicy character and an intense tropical fruitiness. Sweet and fragrant yet nicely balanced and fresh.

 Vini Fabiano Valpolicella Classic Superiore, Ripasso, Verona, Italy  2009 £19.99

Ripasso refers to the process of adding dried grapes to the fermenting juice, usually up to 30%, the sugars and extracts from the raisin-like grapes adding richness to the finished wine. Being Valpolicella this is predominantly the Corvina grape, with satisfying autumnal characters.

Vini Fabiano Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Verona, Italy 2008 £38.99

This is big brother to Ripasso. The first selection (best pickings)  of the same vineyards,  with 100% dried over winter to concentrate the sugars. Rich, powerful and yet elegant red with wonderful soft richness and a fine balance between fruit, acidity and tannins.  Another obvious food partner would be beef.

The Ruins Organic Chardonnay Viognier, Robertson, S. Africa 2012 £9.99

Organic white wine produced by the du Preez family at Bon Cap Estate. Lovely golden hue with lustrous sheen – combines citrus and lime notes from Chardonnay with apricot and honey blossom from the Viognier. Soft, fresh and lingering. Delicious with the cheeses.

The Ruins Organic Syrah Cabernet, Robertson, S. Africa 2010, £9.99

Organic blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, with brief oak contact to add further texture and complexity. The result: a medium to full bodied wine revealing chunky red berry fruits with hints of white pepper and cinnamon. Delightful.

Stanton & Killeen, Rutherglen Muscat (37.5cl) £14.99

One of Australia`s famous “stickies”, offering layers of intense, sweet flavours which include toffee, marmalade and dates. Delicious with the chocolate – and one for the Christmas pudding!

10% discount for orders received in October , thank you


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Ata Rangi tasting blog

27th September Ata Rangi Wine Tasting Supper

 Guest speaker Helen Masters, Winemaker – host Anthony Borges

The platters of smoked fish, charcuterie and cheeses made for a banquet, the myriad of smells and flavours creating havoc with our taste buds as we negotiated our way through, tasting each precious wine in turn; and at every step the groans of appreciation around the room became more and more palpable. It was hedonism personified. This was a fabulous tasting by any standard. Helen was fascinating and the wines were terrific. Thank you everyone for your orders. Best match, for me, the Crimson with Epoisses – somehow the wine wasn`t at all overpowered!

Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc 2011, £15.99

Refined aromas and flavours of passion fruit and lemon grass align with hints of gooseberry, honeysuckle, ginger and ruby grapefruit to provide a delicious medley. This wine is all class; rich and finely balanced, with great length on the palate.

Ata Rangi `Lismore` Pinot Gris 2011, £23.99

A tight, fine, elegant style, with very pronounced aromatics; think ripe pears, sherbet and fresh nougat, moving into nutty macadamia and yellow nectarine flavours on the palate.

Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2010, £31.99

This wine has lifted aromas of white peach and hints of orange blossom. Underlying notes of fig, honey, brioche and a light touch of the subtly spicy French oak in which the wine was fermented and aged contribute to its complexity. On the palate this wine is silky and concentrated with good levels of acidity and a long lasting flavour.

Ata Rangi Celebre 2008, £26.99

Blueberries and blackcurrants meld with hints of cocoa powder and a note of gamey venison. Spicy, peppery elements open up on the palate while layers of fine, supple tannins provide backbone and texture. A long, smooth finish completes the blend. Grape varieties 35% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah.

 My star wine:  Crimson

 Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2011, £20.99

Crushed rose-petal, light cherry, brambly notes and a hint of red liquorice conspire to create an enchanting, heady fragrance. The silky smooth palate is beautifully balanced; seamless, feminine and very approachable.

 Ata Rangi McCrone Pinot Noir 2008, £35.99

Ata Rangi’s single vineyard Pinot is a rare thing to enjoy. Tiny quantities were made and very little came to the UK. Characteristics include fresh leather, alpine strawberries and black cherries – a complex wine, second only to its more famous Martinborough brother.

 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2010, £43.99

Here we have it: dark cherry melds with lifted red fruit aromas and hints of spice in this exotic Pinot Noir. Floral notes are present too; old-fashioned violets and a touch of rose. This vibrant wine has a sinuous, savoury spine of tannin that spreads out to a long, silky finish. Fabulous. Oh boy…

Bin Ends available: Craighall Chardonnay 2007 (10 bottles), Crimson Pinot Noir 2010 (26 bottles), Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2008 (2 bottles) and 2009 (10 bottles)



Wellington is the official name for the large region that occupies the southern section of the North Island. Wairarapa, on the lower eastern side of the region, is Wellington’s only wine district. Martinborough, as well as being a town, is also the oldest and best known wine area within the Wairarapa region. Officially New Zealand’s sixth largest region, Martinborough is small in production terms but makes a large contribution to the country’s reputation for quality winemaking. Climatically, Wairarapa is more aligned to Marlborough than to any of the North Island regions. Sheltered by the Tararua Range, the Wairarapa has a dry, warm climate. It receives between 800 and 1,200 millimetres of rain each year, with western areas wetter than the east. The annual sunshine hours average over 2,000. The summer weather is warm, dry and settled, with maximum daytime temperatures typically ranging between 20 and 28°C, sometimes rising above 30°C. The winters are cool to mild and frosts are common, with maximum winter temperatures typically ranging from 10 to 15°C. Soils here comprise a thin layer of well-drained alluvial soil deposited on what was the original course of the river, as it flowed east to the Pacific Ocean.






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September 21st Tasting

Guest speaker Jane Macaulay  – host Anthony Borges – Chef Tony Bell

Thanks Jane and Tony, excellent tasting – what a lovely aperitif! I`m sure it will be big this festive season (good choice Janet Borges!) and as for best wine-food matches: the Chardonnay with the buttery salmon fillet starter and the Yealands Pinot Noir with the lamb tie runners up to the Moscato with strawberry sponge which was unbelievably dreamy. The Leyda Pinot, having been in the limelight for weeks during our Chilean promotion, was in this instance upstaged.

Cleto Chiarli, Brut de Noir, Sparkling Rose, Italy (aperitif) £16.99

A little special this sparkling wine and a great price for the quality. Exhibits finesse, pleasant effervescence and intense red fruit characters, mostly red currants.

Iona Sauvignon Blanc 2011, S. Africa £13.99

This wine has a wonderfully aromatic nose showing fine mineral notes, hints of herbs, leaves and a touch of gooseberry fruit. The palate is extremely well balanced with classic sauvignon characters of gooseberry and grapefruit and a long, fine, minerally finish. Very stylish and polished.

 Leyda Chardonnay Reserva 2011, Chile £9.99

I discovered this wine on my trip in February and knew right away I wanted to stock it. I liked its purity, a typically cool climate un-oaked, fruit-driven style, it has ripe citrus and semi-tropical hints of kiwi and cherimoya (sort of a cross between papaya and pineapple) and a rich palate expressing varietal and leesy characters.

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc Reserve 2011, S. Africa £13.99

Full bodied and well rounded with a complex structure. Bursting with flavours of dried apricots, pineapple and hints of vanilla and honey that last long on the finish. Love it.

Yealands Black Label Gruner Veltliner 2011, New Zealand £13.99

Pale lemon with green hues. Stone fruit, honeysuckle and spice dominate the nose, the palate is rich and textured, showing varietal definition with notes of pepper and spice, and fine acidity providing backbone to the wine. Great to stock a New World Gruner-Veltliner!!

Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva 2011, Chile £11.99

Bright ruby red colour. A fruity nose with strawberries, hints of red cherries and a subtle wild herb notes with a delicate smokiness and tobacco. Refined on the palate, juicy and full of ripe berry flavours, a hint of minerality and refreshing finish.

 Yealands Single Block Pinot Noir Reserva 2011, New Zealand £16.99

Visually the wine is bright with a youthful hue. The nose is brimming with lifted aromas, showing red fruit, earth, and dark cherry spice. The palate is refined with notes of plum fruit, which is complemented by silky tannins, a bright acid core, and a long savoury finish. Wonderful stuff

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Syrah 2008, New Zealand £19.99

Terrific deep crimson colour.  The nose immediately blackberry and black pepper, the palate more complex, again rich blackberry with underlying savoury spices, multi-layered and powerful, ripe round tannins, good acidity, mineral, earthy and tarry characters, like a very good Northern Rhone. A fantastic new addition to our range.

Moscato d`Asti, Moncucco 2009, Italy (50cl) £10.99

Attractive bright golden yellow in the glass, with an intensely aromatic nose of white petals, ripe peaches & lightly spiced pears. Medium bodied with a delicious honeyed richness of concentrated grapey fruit flavours, delicately balanced with cleansing acidity and a youthful, lively petillance that lifts the palate and keeps the wine refreshing.

10% discount for orders received this month, thank you

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July 20th Wine Tasting

Guest speaker Martin Sheen – host Anthony Borges – Catering by Chimneys

Excellent speaker (thanks Martin, really interesting and fun) and first class food and service by Chimneys. Well done Gareth, Alex and Rochelle. The Muscadet made a fabulous aperitif – and was always going to be a hard act to follow. But the Gavi di Gavi with Chimneys tian of oaked smoked salmon and trout was inspired. The two burgundies were arguably text book matches with the tian, but the Gavi shone brightest for me! With the truly exceptional rump of lamb the Dog Point Pinot Noir was superb, the claret (also text book with lamb) not so much of a match this time. The juicy rump simply went best with the soft, juicy red-fruited Pinot. Had it been served with rosemary it might have turned out in favour of the claret, but not this evening. The two big guns of the evening were served with hard cheese – I loved them both, the Bonny Doon a more supple, sensual expression of Chateauneuf, the Vieux Telegraph more complex and explosive – in fact simply dreamy. The sweet was fabulous with a single blue cheese, also explosive, the contrasts of sweet and salt working to great effect. And the deserts, enjoyed unaccompanied, were a masterpiece –  a trio of dark chocolate mousse, Benoffee and gooseberry fool. Well done Chimneys. 

  Muscadet Prestige Saupin, 2011, “leesy”, £10.99

Produced by Mathieu Saupin at his property north east of Nantes. A zippy vibrancy and richness acquired by extended lees ageing. Perfect as an aperitif – and would be perfect with oysters were we in season. We had it with a crisp snack to take away the wine`s natural acidity. Excellent.

 Sarotto Gavi di Gavi, 2010, “mineral-rich”, £11.99

Roberto Sarotto’s Gavi di Gavi comes from his 50 year old Cortese vines lying in the vineyard of Bric Sassi della Maddalena, where the vines are mostly south facing. His wine is fresh and clean with white peach,  stone fruits and a creamy, delicious minerality. It was only following phylloxera here in the late 1800′s that the vineyards were planted with Cortese to take advantage of the ealized seafood nearby.

Bourgogne Tradition, Collovray & Terrier 2010, “ealize”, £13.99

Chardonnay grown in the Maconnais in the picturesque and rolling hills surrounding the Rock of Solutre. This is a very pleasing unoaked wine and eminently quaffable. Winemakers Jean Luc Terrier and Christian Collovray are acknowledged as masters of their profession.

 Bourgogne Chateau de Puligny, 2009, “fine expression”  £24.99

Under the former ownership of Michel Laroche of Chablis fame the park of mature trees in front of the Chateau was torn up and a vineyard planted. It was subsequently sold to Credit Foncier where Etienne de Montille converted to organic and biodynamic practices. The results are clear to see – a very fine, ripe expression of fruit length and quality and showing every vestige of its origins. This is Puligny-Montrachet without the price tag!

 Dog Point Pinot Noir, 2009, “silky red fruits”, £26.99

 Ivan Sutherland and James Healy were vineyard manager and winemaker respectivelyat Cloudy Bay before creating Dog Point, so named because the vineyard used to be a sheep station occupied by  wild dogs. The Pinot spends 18 months in Troncais oak, adding complexity and richness to its silky red fruits.


 Ch Lucas 2008, St Emilion 2008 “soft & spicy” £13.99

  A 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc lying in the St Emilion satellite community of Lussac roughly 45kms east of Bordeaux. It belongs to the Vauthier family who also own Ch Ausone and comprises of 10 hectares. Here in the vineyard eal raisonee is ealized “reasoned fight” in that chemicals and sprays are only used when absolutely necessary. The wine has ripe red fruits with a touch of vanilla and a succulent ripeness from the Merlot on the palate complemented by a crisp firmness from the Cab Franc.

 Cigar Volant 2007, “New World icon wine”, £35.99

This flagship wine comes from Randall Grahm (not a spelling mistake – it is Grahm) and his winery Bonny Doon. Cigare Volant is French for flying saucer and is Randall’s take on a Chateauneuf blend of Grenache Syrah Mourvedre and a dash of Cinsault, whilst at the same time taking a pop at the French as it was in 1953 that the mayor of Chateauneuf had a law passed stating that flying saucers were not permitted to land in the vineyards! Bright cherry, red currant and cranberry fruit combine gloriously with a savoury, gamey spice note. Fabulous New World icon wine!

Chateauneuf Vieux Telegraph 2008, “Old World icon wine”, £53.99

The original Cigar Volant! One of the most renowned, traditional estates of Chateauneuf in the southern Rhone, a 45 hectare estate with an average vine age of 55 years and cared for by the Brunier family who has owned it for the past 100 years. Two thirds of the blend is Grenache with equal amounts of Syrah and Mourvedre and a little Cinsault. The wine was truly memorable – ealizedy unfolding into the most complex layers even as we were drinking it! 

 Tokaji Noble Late Harvest 2008 (37.5cl) “nectar of the gods”, £17.99

This is a modern style late harvest bunches of the Furmint grape variety, about half  affected by noble rot. It is exotically fragrant with honeyed apricot fruit kept in check by a lively acidity. The estate is in the ownership of David and Pablo Alvarez who also own Vega Sicilia arguably Spain’s most famous winery. They bought here when the Hungarian state monopoly was broken up in 1993 having ealized the immense potential of the centuries old Oremus vineyards.

A great job, thanks all