Posted on

Riesling – misunderstood

Riesling is misunderstood and under appreciated, still carrying its iniquitous association with Liebfraumilch (even though most Liebfraumilch was produced from the Muller-Thurgau grape, an inferior Riesling crossing). Yet we in the trade love Riesling and we`ll never give up trying to persuade our customers of its merits. It is capable of producing some of the best white wines in the world. In its homeland of Germany they produce particularly age worthy wines in spite of their relatively low alcohol content because of their naturally high acidity. Riesling wines can range from intensely sweet and sticky, to bone dry. In order of sweetness to dry these are Trockenbeerenauslese, Beerenauslese, Auslese, Spatlese, Kabinett and Trocken (dry). Eiswein is another, produced from frozen grapes. Some of these can be expensive, even very expensive. We offer a Beerenauselese (£11.99 per 50cl bottle) which is about the best price you`ll find; and we offer a fine Trocken from Rheingau (£20.99), which is one of the finest examples I`ve tasted. Fruit characters you can expect from Riesling include limes, lemons and peaches, yet there`s a spectrum of aromas and flavours depending on the wine`s terroir (it`s location, location), its ripeness and age. Riesling from Alsace in France, where it is a little warmer (and drier), produces a fuller, drier style (with a little more alcohol) than those from across the border (in Germany). A fine example is Hugel Riesling (£15.99). In New Zealand`s Waipara Valley you can find Mud House Riesling which offers honeysuckle, citrus, peach and nectarine fruit characters, this being a relatively warm area of New Zealand (£13.99), compared to the Grosset Polish Hill of Clare Valley, arguably Australia`s most famous Riesling (at £26.99), which is more limey with a slate-like minerality and a distinctive saline quality. This unique expression of Riesling also offers the whiff of kerosene, that unusual trademark Riesling character,  together with notes of quince, honey and dried fruits, being largely indicators of aged Riesling (ours is 2010).  These dry wines are great with spicy food, Thai, Indian and so on, and with seafood too. My favourite sweet Riesling is the Sweet Agnes from Nelson, NZ    ( £15.99 per 375ml bottle), an intense wine with spiced honey aromas and ripe citrus flavours, delicious with strawberries! But my wine of the week goes to Emiliana`s Dry Riesling from Chile`s  Bio Bio Valley. An organic wine, it offers limes, grapefruit, citrus oil and a lovely minerality, all for just £9.99.


Posted on

Vina Ventisquero

Thank you everyone who came to our latest wine-tasting dinner (2nd Oct 15) “Wines of Vina Ventisquero, Chile”; from the orders received at the end of the evening my guess is everyone enjoyed the wines as much as I did! Thank you everyone, it`s orders like these which sustain us!! The food, also, was delicious (thank you, Tony) well done and happy birthday! Best food match of the evening, for me, was the Merlot and mushroom crumble, and the Grey Pinot alongside the fantastic Layer Marney lamb. For menu, tasting notes and further comments please read on…

Host: Anthony Borges, Chef: Tony Bell


Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Casablanca Valley 2013, £9.99

100% Sauvignon Blanc. French style, restrained, minerally (Sancerre-like) with gooseberry zest, tropical fruits and a herbal note, finishing with a little steel. Ideal aperitif or with seafood.

Pinot Grigio Reserva, Lolol Valley 2013, £9.99

100% Pinot Gris. Peachy wine with lots of blossom on the nose. On the palate fleshy with a little oil, a fine example and delightful with Tony`s amuse bouche!

Grey Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Tapihue Vineyard 2012, £14.99

100% Chardonnay. Good oak-aged Chardonnay, bungundy in style, with tropical fruits and some interesting notes of dried-fruit, vanilla and butter as well, finishing with a pleasing mineral streak. A good match with Tony`s lovely salmon dish.


Pinot Noir Reserva, Casablanca Valley 2012, £10.99

100% Pinot Noir. Some lovely mature fruits here, black and red, with spice and vanilla background. On the palate a little pleasing grip and savoury richness.

Merlot Reserva, Maipo Valley 2012, £9.99

 100% Merlot. Dark wine with a lovely rich scent of black pepper and plums. On the palate rounded, fleshy, with vanilla, chocolate and cherry at its core. Good fruit quality and concentration. Wonderful food match with the mushroom (in fact the crumbly mushroom would also have been a good match with the savoury Pinot too).

Grey Pinot Noir, Leyda Valley, Las Terrazas Vineyard 2012, £14.99

100% Pinot Noir. Delicious, burgundy style. A sense of `terroir` and pedigree. Really very impressive single vineyard wine: both red and black fruits, plums and raspberries, with good, fresh acidity and a hint of cocoa and vanilla background. Stunning match with the delicious lamb dish.

Grey Garnacha Carinena Mataro, Colchagua Valley, Apalta Vineyard 2013 £14.99

50% Grenache, 25% Carignan, 25% Mourvedre. Bright fruits of blackcurrants, raspberries and black pepper. Slightly less structured than the Grey Pinot – more fruity and rounded – therefore as we suspected a good match with the cheeses.

Grey Carmenere, Maipo Valley, Trinidad Vineyard 2011, £14.99

100% Carmenere. Dark black fruits and coffee bean combine with black cherries, truffle, fruitcake and soy sauce, with dark chocolate centre. Amazing concentration, with vanilla and spice to the finish. Good with the cheeses – but Tony served up some almond chocolate bon bons at the end of the evening and this was absolutely the perfect match!

Pangea Syrah, Apalta Vineyards, Colchagua Valley 2008, £32.99

100% Syrah. Pangea has long been a favourite – almost liqueur-like with black fruits of blackcurrants and  blackberries,  spices and dark chocolate and a faint earthy-mineral (graphite) note which gives it the sense of `terroir` and purpose. A perfect match with the cheeses. Although once I enjoyed this same wine with roasted beef and it was truly wonderful, so my recommendation would be to start the wine earlier, through main, cheese and chocolate desert!


Amuse-bouche of mango, prawn, lime & sesame

Mushroom ‘crumble’

Layer Marney lamb


The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley

The Causeway – Gt. Horkesley – Colchester – Essex – CO6 4BH

Tel. (01206) 271 236, E-mail


Posted on

Syrah – Shiraz

Syrah and Shiraz are one and the same red wine grape variety, fairly dark and thick-skinned with distinctive yet complex characteristics. In the best made wines they can burst with  blackberry and black pepper with intriguing notes of liquorice or mint or aniseed, and even leather, smoke and herbs. Plum and violet are not uncommon characteristics either, particularly in the wines of Hawke`s Bay in New Zealand, I find. However my very favourites are the red wines of Northern Rhone, where the grape (known here as Syrah) produces some of the best in the world. Try Michel Chapoutier`s “Petite Ruche” Crozes-Hermitage 2010 for a signature flavour of this grape, not cheap at £16.99 per bottle, but a classic. Or Yanne Chave`s “Les Saviaux” Crozes-Hermitage 2012, £19.99, one of the very best of the appellation. Other appellations include St Joseph, Cornas, Cote-Rotie and Hermitage – I become starry eyed at the mere mention of these famous names – but you will pay a pretty penny for these more structured and powerful superstars, so almost certainly these are the reserve of special occasions, accompanied with prime roasted beef or pot-roasted pheasant, a seasonal treat in these parts.

In the New World, they tend to adopt the Shiraz name for the grape, suggesting warmer climes, where the wines are generally of a riper style. Australia is well known for them where they are typically enjoyed with barbecues. These tend to be more `fleshy` with softer tannins and  jammy fruit, but the best of them have a certain elegance and class about them. D`Arenberg`s 2010 vintage The Lovegrass Shiraz from McLaren Vale is a perfect example at £16.99, but our wine of the week, fabulous with lamb meatballs,  is the Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2012, £13.99.

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


Posted on

Joseph Perrier Champagne evening

Thank you everyone who attended our Joseph Perrier evening. What a  pleasant, most  relaxing evening it was – and very informed, thanks to Martin Gamman, UK`s representative for Joseph Perrier Champagne, a champagne house we as a merchant have long supported – in fact for as long as we have existed, since the shop opened in July 1963 (all of 52 years!) Though it has been a few years since we have showcased the full range, and thrilling it was to do so. We served up a dish to match each of them, and they were almost all a perfect match. By `we` I mean Gareth and his team (Sarah and Jamie) of Jam Tartz, who we work with sometimes and who we are delighted to recommend should you be looking for a caterer for weddings or special occasion events.  I say `almost` because the chocolate-honey-mascarpone was a little rich for the delicate, lightly sweet-tasting demi-sec; though with the raspberry it was perfect, and on its own simply delicious and in need of nothing else. But I`m jumping ahead, because first there were the smoked salmon canapés – delightfully  tasty and just the right size (=small) with the beautifully refreshing and pure Yellow Label, still one of our best selling Champagnes (and in magnum format to boot), a great start to the evening in the garden. Then, at table, the best match of the evening: the sea bass with JP`s wonderful Blanc de Blancs. PERFECT. The dish was seriously impressive with a slight sea-salt light note which set off the nutty, buttery-rich mid-palate of the champagne, so the taste of it with the food seemed brighter and more intense than it did before, while the saltiness of the dish became simultaneously neutralised, revealing the delicate flavours of the white flesh and the lemony butter. The pan roasted Salsify seemed to work a magic (Gareth “The Alchemist”, VERY WELL DONE INDEED). The ham hock which followed was also very, very tasty and a good match with the savoury rose, and this was followed by the fantastic vintage (and still pale) 2002, which packed a beautiful punch aside the guinea fowl and that tasty lentil sauce. My thanks to Gareth and Jam Tartz, to Martin Gamman and Joseph Perrier, and to a fun group who couldn`t have been easier and more chilled. Cheers1

Anthony Borges

Guest speaker: Martin Gamman – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Gareth Boothby

Champagnes of Joseph Perrier

Joseph Perrier “Yellow Label” Cuvee Royale (Magnum), £72.00

Bottle size £32.99, half bottle £18.99

Fabulous Champagne with wonderful purity, made up with 35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, the  three classic Champagne grapes. Ideal Champagne aperitif served with salmon blinis.

Joseph Perrier Blanc de Blancs, £43.99

100% Chardonnay with good ageing, hints of brioche from the mature Chardonnay and crisp lemony acidity on the finish. Therefore good with seafood – the lemony finish counterpoints any richness in the fish and there is enough Chardonnay fat to underpin any weight.

Joseph Perrier Rose, £43.99

A curiosity in that the apparent sweetness from the red fruit flavours is not carried through on the palate which is dry. Savoury dishes with a hint of sweetness therefore seem to work best, I like terrines, carpaccios, Foie Gras or scallops, Jean-Claude likes pink lamb. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay (the colour from 12-13% Pinot Noir AOC Coteaux Champenois from Cumieres as part of the blend).

 Joseph Perrier Brut Vintage 2002, £55.00

There is more length and depth of flavour here than people expect, and it can match meat dishes (even sauced ones) such as guinea fowl, quail veal chicken and lamb and game etc., without concern. Vintage 2002 is 50% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, 9% Pinot Meunier.

Joseph Perrier Demi-Sec, £34.99

Sweet but not a dessert wine in terms of being sticky. The acid is still there. Therefore it struggles with very sweet desserts. Strawberries and raspberries work well, as does cheesecake. As per Yellow label: 35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir 30% Pinot Meunier.


Smoked Salmon Blinis with Lump Fish Caviar

Line Caught Sea Bass, Wilted Spinach, Pan Roasted Salsify with a Chive and Lemon Buerre Blanc

Suffolk Ham Hock and Smoked Chicken Terrine with a Tomato Compote, Toasted Sough Dough dressed with Pepper Watercress

Guinea Fowl Ballantine with Crispy Skin, Celeriac Fondant, Braised Puy Lentils & a

Thyme and Redcurrant Jus

Bitter Chocolate Delice with Honey Mascarpone Chocolate Soil, Sugared Mint and Fresh Raspberries

Posted on

Grenache – Garnacha

The Grenache grape, known as Garnacha in Spain, is the   most cultivated Mediterranean grape worldwide. It  loves sunshine and provides us with delicious fruit-rich wines imbued with herbs and spices. Fruit flavours in these wines are typically “summer berry fruits”, mixed black and red, more often than not with complex notes of liquorice, black olives, leather or tar and said herbs. And if we`re lucky they can provide us with the alluring aroma of pipe smoke, too often elusive yet quintessentially Grenache. They can be simple fruity wines, and seriously complex. At The Wine Centre in Great Horkesley we have them all.

However, it is also true to say we have relatively few 100% Grenache  wines (what in the trade we call `single varietal wines`).  Two highly recommended examples of these are Pasquiers Grenache Pays d`Oc, France (£7.99) and Vina Borgia Garnacha Campo de Borja, Spain (£8.99), both delicious and typical.

Grenache  blended with other grape varieties tend to be more typical and ever popular.  The Stump Jump GSM is a fine example of Grenache Shiraz  and Mourvedre grapes blended together in Australia`s McLaren Vale. Grenache makes up 43% of the blend, adding lusciousness, spice and weight (£13.99). In others Grenache is even more dominant with just a soupcon of Syrah for example in the case of our Coteaux Cotes du Rhone Villages (85%), with its red berry and brambly fruit quality (£10.99) and my absolute favourite Les Coteaux Schisteux Seguret Cotes du Rhone Villages (98%), for its opulence and exotic spices (£15.99).

The most complex of Grenache based wines can be incredibly complex, powerful and mouth filling. Two classy examples, also from the Rhone, are Gigondas Domaine La Bouissiere, rich and powerful (£26.99) and Chateauneuf-du-Pape the Bosquet des Papes, with its complex flavours of charcuerie and thyme and spiced liqueur fruits  (£33.99).  If you can pay the prices I can`t recommend these enough.

But my wine of the week  goes to simple (but lovely) Sangre de Toro by Torres, Garnacha blended with a little Carinena grape (£7.99), a winner for its light weight, delicious spice and dark forest fruits,  simply fantastic value and ideal for parties and barbecues at £7.99 less 10% discount here at The Wine Centre  tomorrow. Why not pop in to taste and see for yourselves!

“Sangre de Toro” –  inspired by Baccus, Roman god of wine, known in ancient times as “Son of the Bull”.

Anthony Borges

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

Posted on

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris?

We have all heard of the Italian wine Pinot Grigio, but do all of us associate the wine with the Pinot Gris grape? Once our customers understand this connection (ie.  Pinot Grigio grape = Pinot Gris grape) the world of Pinot Gris  opens up to them and a lifetime of discovery.

True, it often involves a trade up. Like any hobby it may cost a little. But the rewards are great. Let`s assume you like to drink a supermarket Pinot Grigio. It`s light, dry,  fruity and under a fiver, probably, so served cold as ice it ticks the boxes. Now add character and flavour, for an extra £2 or £3 per bottle, a bottle you serve cool not ice-cold, so you can smell and taste the wine, one which you can match with the food on your table, one which offers up aromas and flavours you can discuss at table, for the joy of it. If you are prepared to do that, you have yourself the beginnings of a lifetime hobby and my first recommendation is Italy`s Pinot Grigio Principato, £7.99, for its its floral and fruity aromas, delicate dried fruit character and light notes of peach, lime, oil and spice.

Principato`s colour is light yellow but the Pinot Gris grape can itself be a range of colours, often more blue, grey and pink than yellow. These shades tend to be seen in the more expensive wines and aromas and flavours get bolder the more you pay as well. This can be in part because of yield, the less the quantity of juice extracted from a vine, the more concentrated it will be. But also, in Italy, for instance, the Pinot Grigio grape is usually picked early, a stylistic choice, providing crisp wines of a light colour. In Alsace, France, by contrast, Pinot Gris is picked fully ripe and the colour is deeper; it follows that aromas and flavours are more profound as well. Our Turkheim Reserve Pinot Gris, £11.99,  is golden with a dry, restrained quality. The peach, apricot and pink grapefruit fruit aromas seem to exude a noticeable smoky character which is  wonderful with our smoked fish paté. For a really special treat (think hobby) try top of the range Grand Cru Kitterle by Domaines Schlumberger, £28.99, a fantastic single vineyard wine, so ripe and rich it appears sweet at first, and match with a spicy dish. Or, continue your discovery of Pinot Gris from elsewhere in the world and instead choose a premium example  from Oregon in the USA, the Omero Ribbon Ridge, also £ 28.99,  produced from pink organic grapes in the Willamette Valley, which is bright and juicy with tropical and stone fruits, delicious with our Epoisse cheese. But wine of the week goes to New Zealand`s Yealands Pinot Gris, £13.99, with its fresh aromas of pears, melon, quince and ginger. Simply divine with curry!

Anthony Borges

Posted on

Our Summer Hafla, 26th June 2015

Our  Summer 2015 Hafla, 26th June

For those of you who came to our summer hafla (100 guests), a big thank you for making it such a happy occasion. Thankfully it was a warm balmy evening with not a spot of rain!  Thanks also to Matt Knight for demonstrating Riedel glassware and to our helpers Matthew Nutt (of Torres), Andrew Baraclough (of William Fevre & Bouchard Pere et Fils) and  Richard Hunt (of Chateau Musar). Between them they showcased an excellent range of wines. Tony Bell was in excellent form again with his own version of Lebanese food – thanks Tony – the lamb and chicken were both superb. And the belly dancers were truly magnificent – the perfect way to finish our evening. Details of the event and a list of the wines are set out here for your interest.



IMG_7849 IMG_7801














































Why Hafla?

Why not! Actually the idea of an event with a Middle Eastern theme stemmed from a conversation with family on Christmas Day, while we were enjoying a magnum of Chateau Musar 1997 with a platter of cheeses, figs and dates! We discussed our love of the food from the region, what is the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa and a delightful fusion of all those influences.

It was during the Persian Empire there when the foundation was laid for modern Middle Eastern food, when rice, poultry and various fruits and spices were incorporated into the native recipes. Figs, dates and nuts were brought by Arabian warriors from conquered lands; spices were brought back from the Orient, as well as from India, the Spice Islands and Africa; and tomatoes came from the New World. By the way, if you’re planning to travel with India Someday and personally see those spices, go to Chick peas were a staple diet, together with olive oil, leaven `pita` bread, lamb kebab and falafels. It all makes for delicious grazing, and our chef Tony Bell  prepared his own interpretation for our enjoyment. We also enjoyed our cheese, fig and date platters of course!

Incidentally the term `hafla` itself is an Arabic word meaning a party or social gathering, where family and friends eat and drink plentifully. There is also some association with music and dancing, in particular belly dancing.. .. hence the appearance of seven lovely belly dancers at the end of our evening. What  wonderful music and dancing, thank you ladies!!


We were  thrilled to offer for taste the wines of Chateau Musar from Lebanon as well as a selection of burgundy wines by William Fevre and Bouchard Pere et Fils. Additionally we showcased the wines of family Torres from their Spanish heartland. Twenty-four wines in total.

Bottle sizes are all 75cl unless specified

Table 1 ~ Torres

Presented by Matthew Nutt

Torres is a world beater – a family owned business which started in a garage and is now a hugely successful company producing wines all over the world. These eight wines are from Spain, their homestead.

1. Esmeralda 2013 (white) £8.99, £8.09

2. Pazo das Bruxas Albarino 2013 (white), £10.99, £9.89

3. Ibericos Rioja Crianza 2012 (red) £11.99, £10.79

4. Coronas 2011 (red) £9.99, £8.99

5. San Valentin 2014 (white) £7.99, £7.19

6. Gran Sangre de Toro 2010 (red) £10.99, £9.89

7. Celeste 2011 (red) £11.99, £10.79

8. Salmos Priorat 2012 (red) £17.99, £16.19

Table 2 ~ Riedel

Presented by Matt Knight, Riedel UK

Matt  demonstrated how his Riedel glasses show wines in the best possible light, using four fine Torres wines and their ever popular Vinum crystal glasses. Guests were amazed!

9. Fansola Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (white) £17.99, £16.19

10. Gran Vina Sol 2012 (white) £9.99, £8.99

11. Mas Borras Pinot Noir 2010 (red) £24.99, £22.49

12. Gran Coronas 2010 (red) £11.99, £10.79

Table 3 ~ William Fevre & Bouchard Pere et Fils

Presented by Andrew Baraclough

Andrew represents the interests of these two fine burgundy producers in the UK, and what he doesn`t know about them isn`t worth knowing!

13. William Fevre Chablis 2013 (white) £16.99, £15.29

14. William Fevre Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2013 (white) £23.99, £21.59

15. Bouchard Pere et Fils Macon-Lugny 2013 (white) £11.99, £10.79

16. Bouchard Pere et Fils La Vignee (red) £13.99, £12.59

17. Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru 2012 (white) £28.99, £26.09

18. Bouchard Pere et Fils Beaune du Chateau 1er Cru 2011 (red) £28.99, £26.09

Table 4 ~ Chateau Musar

Presented by Richard Hunt

The wines of Chateau Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient wine-making culture, as vines have been cultivated from Lebanon high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6000 years. Chateau Musar founded in 1930 celebrates its 85th anniversary this year. The 3rd generation of the Hochar family are continuing the legacy left by Serge Hochar and his father before him.

19. Jeune Musar (white) £12.99, £11.69

20. Jeune Musar Rosé (rosé) £12.99, £11.69

21. Jeune Musar (red) £12.99, £11.69

22. Hochar Pere et Fils 2009 (red) £16.99, £15.29

23. Chateau Musar 2004 (red) £28.99, £26.09

24. Chateau Musar 1997 magnum (red) £75.00, £67.50

Finishing off the evening with Torres « house » wines, terrific quaffing wines for everyday drinking and for parties

25. Torres Vina Sol 2013 (white) £6.99, £6.29

26. Torres Vina Sol 2013 (rosé) £6.99, £6.29

27. Sangre de Toro 2013 (red) £7.99, £7.19

Discounted prices are for orders of six bottles or more, any mix 1-27, until 31st July.

Incidentally we are already discussing what to do next in the garden and we`re thinking about a slightly different format, tell us what you think. Your comments are welcome. We`re thinking instead of a wine-tasting in the traditional manner of being given a soupcon of each wine to taste, instead we might offer the range of 24 wines by the bottle and the glass, as well as the taster glass option. Only we recognise that some guests would really prefer to simply enjoy our festival evenings relaxing in the garden with a bottle or a glass of their favourite tipple, and traditional stand up tastings don`t suit everyone, we know.  We have to work out the logistics but we like the idea of a change next time if it can be managed. What do you think?


Posted on

Paul Cluver at The Wine Centre

I had only met Paul once before, briefly, in London. He`s the sort of guy who makes a lasting impression. I`m guessing it`s his enthusiasm, not just for Paul Cluver Wines, but for life. And he is a people man. He likes people and they like him. And so it was I had looked forward to Friday 22nd when he was to join us here in Gt Horkesley for our Table of Eighteen. The evening came – and went – in a flash. It was a roller coaster. Tony Bell prepared six dishes and we had The Wine Centre cheeseboard as well, so the kitchen was buzzing and guests were inundated with one dish after another, every dish simply perfect (well done again Tony). Further congratulation is to be given to Tony for his precision matching of food with wine. He was simply given the list of nine Paul Cluver wines and he produced the dishes to match them. Every one was a perfect match, my absolute favourite the last one: the sweet wine with cardamon scented rice pudding with honeyed apricot purée. It was heavenly!! See Paul`s tasting notes and Tony`s menu below with my brief comments in italics:

Guest speaker: Paul Cluver – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

 Paul Cluver Wines, Elgin, South Africa

Close Encounter Riesling 2014 £13.99 – delicious aperitif, refreshingly fruity and an excellent palate cleanser (surprisingly as much as 35g per litre of sugar. Didn`t seem so sweet because of the high acidity)

 Wonderfully fragrant, concentrated fruit and floral notes. Lots of mango, orange and frangipangi with sweet melon freshness. Lovely lime and lemongrass finish.

 Dry Encounter Riesling 2014 £12.99 – I really liked this (just 8g per litre sugar) and it was terrific with Tony`s Prawn and mango salad with sweet chilli, lime and sesame dressing. I stopped short of pouring the wine into the ramekin, such was the perfect blend of flavours. 

The colour is pale, with a beautiful green apple tint.The nose shows ripe green apple, apple blossom, beeswax and fynbos honey notes. The palate is crisp and clean – lemon sorbet-like.There is a great interplay between the naturally retained residual sugar and the acidity. Generally regarded as restrained, it displays typical Riesling ‘nervousness’.The mineral core,wich is linked to the shale rich soils in which the vines grow, astounds. It is the reason for the wine structure and the lingering after taste. Perfect hot weather wine – very refreshing.

Sauvignon Blanc 2014, £12.99 – Classy Sauvignon, a precise style, more French than Kiwi, again perfect with Tony`s choice of dish: Griddled Colchester asparagus with shavings of Woolsery award winning cheese. A benchmark match.

The colour is clear and bright, with a hint of green. The nose is clean and fresh with expressive granadilla, elderberry, gooseberry and black currant characteristics. These aromas follow through onto the palate which has a lovely creamy texture – the result of extended lees contact.

Chardonnay 2013, £16.99 – Paul is perhaps best known for his wild yeast Chardonnay and it was my favourite wine of the evening, as well as being the absolute perfect match with the dill crusted salmon cube, beurre blanc. Both wine and dish were fabulous.

Lots of buttered toast / brioche on the nose with some citrus aspects too.Tangerine fruit and citrus blossom fragrances are apparent, with hints of vanilla pod and almond flakes. These characteristics follow through onto the palate.The fine, fresh acidity is natural, and adds poise and focus to the wine.

Gewurztraminer 2014, £12.99 – What aromatics! Lovely wine, super fresh and aromatic with chicken poached in turmeric infused coconut milk + steamed rice timbale. Again super.

The nose is a surprising combination of rose petal, litchi [lychee], cucumber, summer melon and mango. It is deliciously fresh on the palate with a lovely lime and lemongrass finish.

Village Pinot Noir 2013, £13.99 – with the lamb. Oh boy the lamb: rosemary roasted leg of Layer Marney new season lamb, so, well “lamby” and with the Cornish gold potatoes super deliciously comforting, all washed down with the refreshing red fruited Pinot Noir – lovely ! Someone described the aroma of the wine as rhubarb crumble with custard (in a good way)

Beautiful aromas of red fruits intermingle with roasted spices followed by a delicious, elegant silky palate of poached ripe plums resulting in medium bodied wine with soft edges. Crafted for drinking now, it has the structure and fruit to be enjoyed for two years and beyond.

Estate Pinot Noir 2013, £16.99 – The Estate Pinot is a step up from the `village` in weight and punch and I loved it as a stand alone (with the after-taste of lamb remaining on the palate)

This wine has a lovely luminosity – the colour is bright plum skin. The nose has delicate earthy almond aromas combined with cranberry, pomegranate and raspberries. On the palate these characteristics follow through combining with interesting seaweed, umami savory flavours.

Seven Flags Pinot Noir 2012, £38.99 – with the cheeses we enjoyed Paul`s flagship Pinot, another step up and patently lovely stuff (compare with burgundy of the same price and it`s really good value). Incidentally Paul retrieved  a bottle of his Chardonnay for me to try with the Epoisse cheese and the two were perfect together!!

Andries believes that the essence of a great Pinot noir is the purity of fruit and the structure of the wine. This wine has this essence, substantiated by its natural acidity. The colour has luminosity, reminiscent of ripe cherries. The nose holds a combination of red berry, spice, mushrooms and dark chocolate. The palate is a continuation of all found on the nose. Structured and poised, with a tantalizing mineral core.

Noble Late Harvest Riesling 2014 (37.5cl), £16.99 – I loved this wine and Tony`s dish to match. What a way to finish a fabulous fabulous Friday evening at The Wine Centre….!

Packed with apricot, spice and honey characteristics on the nose. The mouth feel is full and impressively rich but with superb balance, the result of elegant Riesling acidity. The aftertaste seems to linger forever. This wine will gain complexity after 2 to 5 years in the bottle. The perfect way to end a meal, or enjoy with flavourful cheeses.


Prawn and mango salad, sweet chilli, lime and sesame dressing

Griddled Colchester asparagus with shavings of Woolsery cheese

Dill crusted salmon cube, beurre blanc

Chicken poached in turmeric infused coconut milk, steamed rice timbale

Rosemary roasted leg of Layer Marney new Season lamb


Cardamon scented rice pudding with honeyed apricot purée

Our thanks to Paul Cluver for visiting us (after what had already been a long week at The London Wine Fair), we hope you will come again. Thanks also to Tony, Emma, Jo and of course Janet, for all the work. And finally thanks to all our guests. What a fun  table and we loved having you. 


Anthony Borges

Posted on

A Gathering of friends….

What better way to start a weekend than a gathering of friends….. and delicious wine and food at The Wine Centre.

A raucous (but not too raucous) happy group of friends turned up for a soiree of eating and drinking last night, the evening after our General Election, and politics was barely  mentioned! Instead, after the catching up of old friends, we pretty much talked wine and food all night. Andrew Brooks was our guest speaker for the evening, and he smoothly introduced each wine as they appeared on the table (nine in total). The food was created by our chef, Tony Bell, who chose his dishes according to the wines being served, for the best possible match. Only the Merlot was not accompanied by food, a cheerful (savoury) buffer  before the more serious reds; oh, and Beringer`s Zinfandel blush, of course – our aperitif – a wine reminiscent of strawberries and cream and the Promise of Summer (just a shame it was a drab overcast evening). The Chardonnay was served with Tony`s crab amuse-bouche and the match was lovely, though you might argue the Chardonnay a little ripe; incidentally this takes nothing away from either wine or dish, because both were delicious, but personally I would another time match with  a cooler climate Chardonnay (Chablis, perhaps) or the other way round, we might have been better choosing a white fish or even a slightly spicy seafood dish to match the wine. The next wine, the Viognier, was superb with the hake and sea bass, a tasty dish and such a good value Viognier, with weight, fragrance and delightful zip on the finish as well.  Then, after that Merlot, came the theme to the end, of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The Syrah was darker and  a step up in weight and ripeness from the Merlot and delicious to boot, an equal even to that terrific magnum of Rhone which followed, I thought – but the main event here was the wonderful Fillet of Hereford beef, ‘daube Nimoise’. Tony that was truly divine – very well done. The following big reds made great cheese wines, both of them liqueur-like in their own separate ways, or port-like, yet dry. Another time I would like to try these with game in a rich sauce. And the final wine, the sweet wine, was, for me, the best of the evening. A superb fortified wine, beautifully crafted, not too sweet; I felt went better with the chocolate than the blue cheese aside, but delicious with both. A fabulous job, Tony, and well done Andrew. What a nice chap you are! We hope you will come again… tasting notes & menu to follow.

Guest speaker: Andrew Brooks – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Tony Bell

Beringer Zinfandel Rose, California USA 2013, aperitif £9.99

Fruity aromas, 100% Zinfandel, of ripe strawberries and some spicy clove/nutmeg. Soft, well-rounded palate, perfect for summer.

First Fleet Chardonnay S.E. Austalia 2013 £9.99

Crisp, modern 100% Chardonnay with red apple and melon fruit filling a palate that is dry yet well rounded.

Foxwood Dawn Picked Viognier, Languedoc, France 2013 £9.99

Straw yellow in colour with green highlights, this is 100% Viognier with aromas of ripe apricot and summer flowers, a soft texture and a refreshing streak of citrus. This is summer in a glass!

Foxwood Gravelstone Merlot, Languedoc, France 2013 £9.99

Dark crimson in colour, this is typical southern 100% Merlot with blackcurrant, black cherry and plum, and just a lick of spice.

First Fleet Shiraz, S.E. Australia 2014 £9.99

A ruby red vibrant 100% Shiraz, with mulberry and plum fruit, exotic spices and a smooth palate.

Cotes du Rhone St Esprit, France (in magnum), 2013 £28

A bright ruby red colour, 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache, full of berry fruit, violet, liquorice and spices. A generous rounded palate of crunchy red fruits.

Langmeil Barossa Three Gardens Shiraz Mourvredre Grenache 2012 £16.99

A lovely rich Barossa blend of 52% Shiraz (Syrah), 31% Mataro (Mourvedre) and 17% Grenache. It is ruby in colour, with  delicious complexity, of black cherry, blueberry, mocha and spice, including distinctive white pepper.

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz 2012 £24.99

Classic McLaren Vale 100% Shiraz, opulent complex style displaying blackberry and liquorice, earth and bitter chocolate,  blueberry, pimento and roasted almond. Scored an amazing 96 points recently by James Halliday.

Rasteau Vin Doux Naturel 2011 Domaine de Beaurenard, France 50cl, £23.99

Deep shades, of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, with ripe perfumed fruits, spices and herbs (the scent known as “garrigue” after the local scrubland).


Crab amuse-bouche

Hake & Sea bass, cooked in the Sete style

Fillet of Hereford beef, ‘daube Nimoise’


Chocolate pot with blue cheese aside