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Wines of Italy

An excellent night, thank you everyone. As usual we have posted menu and wines here: the best match, for me, the Pieropan and tortellini, followed closely by the amazing Chianti Classico with the venison. Fantastic food, well done Gareth and Jam Tartz, and an excellent range of Italian wines by Liberty. Thanks Peter…..

Guest speaker: Peter Rowe – Host: Anthony Borges –

Chef: Gareth Boothby, Jam Tartz

Wines of Italy

Rosa `Ca dei Frati`, Lombardia 2013, £17.99 – aperitif

Rosa dei Frati is light pink with a touch of `onion skin` orange.  Zesty and vibrant with aromas of summer pudding and strawberries, it is perfectly balanced with a lovely refreshing finish. 60% Groppello, 15% Marzemino, 15% Sangiovese, 10% Barbera.

Fantini Fiano Terre di Chieti Farnese, Abruzzo 2013, £11.99

Straw yellow in colour with green highlights. On the nose it has vibrant aromas of white flowers and hints of citrus fruit. Medium bodied, the wine is fresh and balanced with a persistent finish. 100% Fiano.

Pieropan Soave Classico, La Rocca 2008, £24.99

Golden yellow in the glass, with aromas of almond essence and honey leading to an elegant and beautifully balanced palate, with subtle notes of vanilla and almond kernel, ripe apricots and exotic fruit. The long finish has a light minerally edge. 100% Garganega.

Bellavista `Alma Terra` Curtefranca Bianco, Lombardia 2012, £26.99

Straw yellow in colour with green hues. This wine has perfumes of lemon and grapefruit with some floral notes, which follow onto the palate. A pleasant mineral character, good concentration and acidity with a hint of acacia honey on the finish. 100% Chardonnay.

 Zabu `Il Passo` Nerello Mascalese, Sicilia 2013, £14.99

 Bright ruby red in the glass with intense aromas of red fruits, spices and red flowers. The wine is vibrant, full and intense with a bright red fruit character.  Warm, with a silky texture, it is well-balanced with a persistent finish. 60% Nerello Mascalese 40% Nero d`Avola.

 Chianti Classico Isole e Olena, Tuscany 2012, £24.99

A deep crimson red colour. Typical sour cherry and red fruit character with bramble notes. The palate has a supple, lithe character full of perfumed fruit and is given depth by a mineral vein. Structure comes from the taut acidity and tannin structure. 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah.

 Massolino Barolo, Piemonte 2010, £48.99

Bright ruby-garnet in colour with an intense nose, perfumes of dark fruit and a touch of cloves with a savoury, herbal note. On the palate it is full-bodied yet elegant, with plenty of robust but ripe tannins supporting the dark, dried plum and autumn compote fruit character and balancing the acidity. Long and fine, with perfumes of roses and violets on the finish. 100% Nebbiolo.

 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso Torre del Falasco, Veneto 2012, £14.99

Aromas of dried cherry and dark plums are followed by hints of mocha and dark chocolate on the nose. A powerful, full-bodied palate opens with a spiced fruit character and supportive tannins. Raisin and candied peel notes come from the ‘ripasso‘ method and are layered with rounded, ripe cherry flavours. The finish is long with added spicy nutmeg notes. 80% Corvina, 20% Rondinella.

 A Mano Aleatico di Puglia Passito 2010 (50cl), £19.99

Deep ruby red in colour with perfumes of red rose petals and dried cherries.  These aromas give way to a dark, black cherry and spice character on the palate with rounded tannins and a characteristic bitter twist. Sweet and luscious but not cloying, it has dried fruit and cinnamon perfumes on the finish. 100% Aleatico.


Grilled tiger prawns with chilli served with sea vegetables and a light consommé

Hot smoked salmon tortellini

Saddle of local venison, artichoke, taggiasca olive alforno, black pudding bon-bon, sautéed shallots and redcurrant jus


Chocolate fondant, candid hazelnuts and a pistachio gelato

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Mark Bingley Master of Wine in town again…

Guest Speaker: Mark Bingley MW – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Carl Shillingford

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, France £36.99 (aperitif)

A blend of 56% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier grapes. It has a pale golden colour with fine bubbles and a nose of fresh fruit and hawthorn. On the palate it is smooth and complex with apple, pear, blackberry, raspberry and cherry fruits, mingled with notes of toast and almond.

 Giulietta Bianco, Tommasi, Verona, Italy 2013 £9.99

A blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Garganega grapes….named after the famous owner of a balcony

 J. Faiveley Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, France 2012, £24.99

100% Chardonnay. The highest quality white wine of Burgundy`s Maconnais district.

Freshness and a hint of richness combine for a charming balance.

Romeo Rosso, Tommasi, Verona, Italy 2013, £9.99

A blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Merlot….named after the lover who wished he was on the balcony

 J. Faiveley Mercurey La Framboisiere (Monopole), Burgundy, France 2012, £26.99

100% Pinot Noir grown in the Cote Chalonnaise, an area of Burgundy planted since Roman times.

Marques de Murrieta, Rioja Reserva, Spain 2008, £19.99

A blend of 86% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, 4% Mazuelo and 2% Graciano grapes, aged in American oak for 18 months… this historic estate near Logrono was the first to export Rioja in the mid 19th century.

Chateau Haut-Beausejour, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France 2012, £32.99

The vineyard is planted to 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Malbec and 5% Petit Verdot. The terroir is gravel and clay with some limestone. The wine is vinified in traditional, large wood vats and aged in French oak barrels (30% new) for about 12 months. Its lovely ripe fruits and ripe tannins are already expressive and promise lovely maturity over the next 5 years.

Meerlust Rubicon, Stellenbosch, S. Africa (in magnum) 2009, £68.00

A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes. This was the first Bordelais blend made by a South African Estate and was named Rubicon by owner Nico Myburgh.

Once blended there’s no going back… ‘the die is cast’ as Julius Caesar said in 49BC when he crossed the Rubicon River outside Rome and took his army into the city to proclaim himself Emperor.

2009 is a great vintage of this South African icon.

Dark and rich ripe fruits with a smoky cigar box aroma and a full, structured palate.

Ramos Pinto Collector Port, unfiltered £16.99

A dark, opulent, intense port with spicy fruits and a rich velvety texture.

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Recruiting now…

Recruiting now at The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley

We are looking to expand our team and will be interviewing over the coming weeks for a variety of roles.

The right applicants will enjoy working with a small dynamic team in a friendly, hardworking retail environment.

We are considering a variety of appointments, including:

Full-time or part-time

Sales & Marketing: strong computer & creative skills required (for the right person possibly just one or two days a week)

Seasonal work & flexi-time

We are looking for occasional help as and when; local people who we can call on to help us at events and in busy times. We are more than happy to work around school hours. A variety of work is on offer requiring a range of skilled and unskilled work. If you are local and generally available let`s meet!

Do you have the WSET Higher Certificate or Wine Diploma?

Like people? Love wine? If so we would like to meet you!

Friday (nights) & Saturday (days)

Are you free to assist us at our Friday night wine-tastings? &/Or Saturdays in the shop? University students most welcome.

We would also like to talk to university students who have strong computer & creative skills.

CV`s and brief cover letter please to Anthony Borges,

The Wine Centre, The Causeway, Great Horkesley, Colchester CO6 4BH

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Bollinger and Winter Warmers

A fantastic start to 2015 and what a way to open, with two magnums of Bollinger Special Reserve Champagne. We forget sometimes just how good Bolly is. The food was the creation of Annie and Malcolm of Assington Kitchen (thank you A & M, it was delicious start to finish!!) + an excellent presentation from Alastair Fleming of Mentzendorff. I thought all the wines were singing and those we enjoyed with the food hit the spot every time: the Marius white was super-fresh, as was the prawn and salmon starter with its fresh lettuce leaf and tomato gel garnish; it was like tasting a bit of summer in the middle of winter; lovely. The main,  breast of local partridge, was also a perfect match I thought with Michel Chapoutier`s Bila-Haut from Cotes du Roussillon; the Syrah, Grenache, Carignan blend had a softly structured succulent mouth feel about it and the spicy fruit characters were enhanced by the jus. Everyone talked about the braised cabbage ball more than anything else on the plate (because it was extraordinary) but the whole ensemble worked a treat. Then, inevitable as night follows day, came our cheese boards and the selection was fabulous last night with the fortified wines, the port and the sherry – Taylor`s 10 year old was beautifully scented and luscious (I do love good Tawny), and the Madeira a final highlight with that to-die-for- chocolate finish. A truly memorable night. Thanks to all our guests, to Alastair who spoke so eloquently and to Annie and Malcolm and the team.  These are Alastair`s tasting notes:

Bollinger & Winter Warmers

 Bollinger Special Cuvee (Magnum), £98.00 – aperitif

Tasting note: Firm and tightly knit, with a backbone of steely acidity, showing a fine, creamy texture that imparts an overall sense of finesse” Alison Napjus, Wine Spectator, Nov 2013

 Marius, Michel Chapoutier (white) 2013, £10.99

Tasting note: Produced from the unusual Terret and Vermentino grapes, full and fruity on the palate, developing ripe fruit flavours and has lovely acidity on the finish.

Marius, Michel Chapoutier (red) 2013, £10.99, £10.99

Tasting note: Made from Grenache and Syrah, the palate is powerful, concentrated and structured with a tinge of silky tannins and lots of concentrated red fruit aromas.

Les Vignes de Bila Haut Rouge, Cotes du Roussillon 2013, £11.99

Tasting note: A deep garnet red with aromas of black cherry. The palate is fleshy, well-structured with the warm subtle hints of soils of the Roussillon area.

Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitages La Petite Ruche 2012, £16.99

Tasting note: 100% Syrah on decomposed granite. Intense purplish red. A nose of red berries, blackcurrant and raspberry. Fresh and round on the palate, a flurry of fruits on the finish.

Kilikanoon Killerman`s Run Cabernet, Clare Valley 2012, £16.99

 Tasting note: “93 points.  Full-bodied, with a classic array of black fruits. Savoury, earthy. the oak handling has also been spot on.” James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion

 Palo Cortado 20 Year Wellington (VOS), Hidalgo (50cl) £26.99

Tasting note: A clean, racy style, with almond and hazelnut husk notes backed by toasted corn, walnut and singed sandalwood accents.

Taylor`s 10 Year Old Tawny, Port £26.99

Tasting note: A mahogany-topaz in colour, it has a complex nose of dried fruits, roasted red bell peppers, eucalyptus and roasted nuts.

Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Malvasia, Madeira (50cl) £21.99

Tasting note: This is a good Madeira that will not break the bank. Sweet, nutty, good with less rich chocolate desserts.” victoria moore, the daily telegraph, march 2013 10 Year Old Malvasia


 A nest of Freshwater Prawns and lightly Poached Salmon in fresh Tomato Jelly Pink Onions, Chilli and Tomato Relish on Chinese Leaves with Sweet Pickled Slaws

 A breast of Local Partridge with a fresh thyme fondant Potato, Stuffed with Partridge leg confit. Braised cabbage ball, Honey and Fennel roast Carrots, and Sloe Gin and Partridge Jus.

Cheese board

 A rich Dark Chocolate pot with a hint of Grand Marnier, White Chocolate Ganache, Glazed Orange Zest and Meringue fingers


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Want to learn more about wine?

Wine Course

Want to learn more about wine?

In the New Year The Wine Centre will be running a course to introduce people to the world of wine.  As is our style, the course will be informal and fun, helping you to develop your interest in wine in a relaxed way.  This introductory 6 week course will cover viticulture and vinification, styles of wine, how to taste and assess wine, wine regions of the world and not forgetting the fizz!  The informative course will be on a Wednesday evening from 7.30pm til 9pm.

The first Jan/Feb course is fully booked so we now have new dates for a second introductory course:

2nd Introductory Course

4th March – All about wine, styles of wine, how to taste and assess a wine

11th March – The essentials, grape varieties

18th March – France and its regions

25th March – New World, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa

8th April – America’s, southern Europe and Germany

15th April – The mystical world of fizz!

6 week course £90 p/p

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Christmas Opening Hours




25th, 26th, 28th

 Open Saturday 27th until usual time, 6.30pm


Mon 29th , Tues 30th & Wed 31st

New Year`s Eve closed at 4pm



Usual opening hours: 10am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

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Our Christmas tasting 7/11/14

Our Christmas tasting always, for me, represents the first day of Christmas. Merrill puts up the lights and festive decorations in time for the occasion, there`s a Christmas spin on the menu and of course there`s Champagne! On this occasion, in my opinion, the highlight and the food-wine match of the evening was the Porcini Risotto with Truffle and Parmesan accompanied by Krug Champagne. It was magic. However, the magic really started right at the beginning, with smoked salmon canapes alongside our aperitif, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in magnum. Both champagnes were fantastic. Where the Ruinart won the day for its purity and elegance, Krug was King for  its richness; accompanied with  Tony`s risotto, arguably it trumped the Ruinart by a nose! We also enjoyed the bubbles of Pelorus, New Zealand`s fresh and creamy version of Champagne, which worked well as a palate cleanser after the rich Cloudy Bay Chardonnay and before the Krug. Those of us who tasted it with Tony`s plaice in rich carrot butter (his Irish grandmother`s recipe) will have noted it was the opposite of a match. It clashed. Yet in a way this only served to point out the value of food-wine matching, and it emphasised how well the Cloudy Bay Chardonnay matched with the dish. The richness of the Chardonnay blended in perfectly with the richness of the buttery carrot jus. The local plaice, which was excellent yet in itself quite delicate, will have been a better match with the Pelorus without such a rich jus, no doubt, while  the Chardonnay in this case will have overpowered it…. the importance of the sauce in any dish never to be underestimated!   Prone, as I am to follow no particular order, i`ll touch now on our first dish, my favourite goat`s cheese Golden Cross, with caramelised red onion and beetroot pilau. No surprise the goat`s cheese went superbly  well with the lashings of grapefruit in the Cloudy Bay  Sauvignon, this being a text book match, along with the beetroot; wasn`t quite so sure about it matching with the sweeter notes of the pilau (rice or bulgar wheat, I don`t recall), but now i`m being pedantic because both dish and wine were lovely. Now to the reds. The Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir was truly delicious, I thought, with the Loin of Layer Marney venison, blackberry jus. It was such a fruity sauce I wondered if the sweetness wouldn`t be too much. But it wasn`t. It was perfect. Here Tony gambled and won the day. The Cloudy Bay proved to be up to the job. Incidentally – the Malbec, which followed, wasn`t – this was better with the cheeses (and the next evening, on its own, by the fireside – a lovely Malbec). Likewise the Numanthia was a fabulous cheese wine – though an even better match, i`d say, would be a roasted red meat such as beef in a rich meaty gravy. I simply love Numanthia – if you buy one pricey bottle of red you would do well to buy this one. Plus we still have a little of the 2008 – slightly further evolved and slightly cheaper, at £39.99  – less 10% in November to anyone who mentions my blog! Finally, the sweet.   To be honest I don`t remember much about that, mmmm…, a little too much wine, perhaps? Except i remember chocolate – and a little lemon posset, which was delicious! And I remember the wine, which was………… the last word on this goes to Stuart Brown who kindly sent the email below. Thanks Stuart – I agree it was a good night and Cloudy Bay`s  Late Harvest Riesling 2007 was superb!! Our thanks to Tony Bell and to Moet Hennessy guest speaker Derek Langton, who was informative and had charm in spades!! Cheers Derek.

Anthony Borges

Guest Speaker: Derek Langton – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

 Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Magnum £110.00 (aperitif)

Bottle price £53.99

Looks: Golden-yellow, miniscule fine bead Smells: Aromas of citrus fruits and fresh brioche. Tastes: Fresh attack of fruits & minerals, tres elegant (100% Chardonnay)

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013, £23.99

Looks: Bright, golden, green highlights. Smells: Grassy, herbaceous aromas filled out with tropical fruits, and gooseberry, with pretty florals Tastes: The palate it fresh and lively with a bright acid backbone. Flavours abound, with a racy acidity and steely minerality.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2012, £23.99

Looks: Bright, golden, green highlights. Smells: Aromas of peaches and cream, with a background of smoky oak Tastes: The palate it fresh and lively with a bright acid backbone. Flavours abound of nectarines & peaches, juicy citrus and grapefruit pith. Good length with delicate texture and a fine mineral thread.

Pelorus, Cloudy Bay £23.99

Looks: Pale yellow, fine bead. Smells: This wine opens with a bright nose of fresh fruit and yeasty notes, like bread dough Tastes: Zesty yet creamy, full-flavoured yet restrained, finishing crisp and fresh.

Krug, £155.00

Looks: Near onion colour Smells:  Rich, caramel, honey, flowers Tastes: Full, opulent style, oaky and more caramel.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2012, £29.99

Looks: Ruby-crimson colour, star bright. Smells:  An amazing nose of violets, thyme and spice. Tastes: On the palate juicy red fruits, strawberries and cherries, and lovely spices of cloves & nutmeg – and a leafy – tobacco note.

Terrazas Malbec 2011, £16.99

Looks: Ruby, purple tinge Smells:  Fresh, brambley, of wet blackberry bushes and violets, with traces of prune and spice. Tastes: On the palate fruity, generous, cherry, earthy notes, like a forest floor.

 Numanthia, Toro, Spain 2009, £42.99

Looks: Dark, amber reflections. Smells: Sumptuous, complex… aromas of cassis, blackberry, cedar, spice and coffee. Tastes: 100% Tempranillo, Numanthia is a potent and full-bodied red, aged for 20 months in French oak barrels –  it serves up rich flavours of blackberry, chocolate and spice, leaving a long and memorable finish.

 Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling 2007 (37.5cl) £24.99

Looks:  Deep yellow, mustard Smells: The nose is richly perfumed and exotic Tastes: Intensely sweet-tasting yet not at all cloying due to its fresh acidity. Flavours of peach, apricot, honey and limes.


Golden Cross cheese with caramelised red onion and beetroot pilau

Fillet of locally caught plaice, carrot butter

Porcini Risotto with Truffle and Parmesan

Loin of Layer Marney venison, blackberry jus


A dessert palette (a selection of four different tasters)

Email from Stuart Brown:

Dear Anthony, Janet and Tony

Many thanks for a great night again.

I can’t believe this is only our first one of the year!

Anyway, what a fabulous menu with a very generous selection of good quality wines.

The Layer Marney Venison was beautifully cooked and matched the  Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir superbly and we loved the creamy Lancashire Bomb reserve cheese!

Our Wine of the night = the Cloudy Bay Riesling Dessert wine..forget Sauternes (oo la la!?)…this is a fab all round Dessert wine!

Kindest Regards

Stuart and family=

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An intimate affair….

Host: Janet Borges – Speaker: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

This was a bit different: a mid-week wine-tasting dinner, table of ten (and Anthony as speaker). We liked it. Where our table of eighteen with the long table has a banquet feel about it, the square table on Wednesday was perhaps more intimate. We might have been in our own dining room entertaining friends. Tony Bell provided the sustenance which was of superb quality, and the wines on offer were our pick from Mentzendorff from the old world. Anthony talked at length about the great man, Michel Chapoutier, and his wines, before going on to discuss Chanson (burgundy) and finally Madeira. The subjects he touched on included the following:

Michel Chapoutier

The Man: a remarkable story – making his mark

The Label: in Braille

The Wines: governed by terroir with no particular signature taste

(Wine & Food)

Sur Lie


The Family: since 1750 (bought by Bollinger in 1999)

The Wines: elegance, purity & minerality

(Wine & Food)


The Island: 400 miles off the coast of Portugal – volcanic – sub-tropical

The History – starting with the seven year fire 

The Wines: Sercial, Verdelho, Terrantez, Bual, Malvasia (Tinta Negra)

(Wine & Food)

Host: Janet Borges – Speaker: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

 Old World Wines from Mentzendorff

 La Ciboise Blanc, Luberon, M. Chapoutier 2012, £9.99 – aperitif

Pale, with green and yellow tints with aromas of white blossom, lemons and exotic fruits. This wine has a great great balance between the freshness and roundness, with a great length.

 Muscadet de Sevres Sur Lie, Domaine Grand Maison 2012, £12.99

Muscadet de Sèvres et Maine is matured on its lees to retain its freshness while giving the wine a fatness and ability to age. Delicate aromas of fruit and citrus fruit with a forthright taste with sharp length and a lasting finish a great example of Muscadet from the Champagne Bollinger owned Langlois-Chateau.

 Schieferkopf Sylvaner, Alsace 2012 £13.99

Citrus and floral aromas lead to an attack of freshness to the palate with a refined minerality and fatness. Michel Chapoutier Alsace arm is producing some amazing wines.

 Rully Blanc, Chanson, Burgundy 2010, £19.9

Floral fragrances mixed with exotic fruit and green almond. Linear, tight and well-balanced. Beautiful aromatic freshness with a delicate minerality.

 Beaune Greves 1er Cru, Chanson, Burgundy 2010, £43.99

Excellent premier cru wine from this great vintage. Beautiful aromatic combination, well-integrated oak and fine tannins developing into an excellent long finish.

 Saint Joseph, Les Granilites Rouge, M. Chapouier, Rhone, 2011 £26.99 Intense aromas of dark berries underscored by a lovely smooth oakiness and fine, tight tannins, beautiful mineral tautness derived from the granite. Amazing wine from this great and sometime underrated appellation.

 We will finish the evening with three fabulous 20-year old Madeiras by Henriques & Henriques, the perfect accompaniments to our cheeseboard and the last of them (the Malmsey) an ideal match with Christmas pudding and Tony`s famous Sticky Toffee Pudding! Tasting notes as follows:

Henriques & Henriques 20 Year Old Verdelho Madeira, £59.99

Gold coloured with green hues. On the nose citrus fruits, melon and a tropical note, together with spicy scents of nutmeg and smoky oak. On the palate tropical fruits, dried fruits, honey and pear, with nutty flavours, caramel, coffee and some delicate spices – and a refreshing acidity which gives the wine a tangy vibrancy and long aftertaste. A fine example of the Verdelho grape, still retaining its fruit quality after 20 years. An aperitif style, it is highly recommended as a pairing with tapas style dishes, seafood, soups and hard cheeses.

Henriques & Henriques 20 Year Old Terrantez Madeira, £77.00

Lovely colour, pale tawny with a saffron rim. The nose is of spicy chutney, tomato plant and tobacco leaf. The palate is medium-dry and unctuous, with bracing acidity, sweet and sour fruits – of berries and plums – and green pepper – again the spiced Chutney, plenty of dried fruits and oak mid-palate as well, and a nutty presence, of bitter almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts. Finally a lasting, tangy aftertaste, typical of Madeira made from this rare grape variety; and definitely one to enjoy with our mature cheddar!

 Henriques & Henriques 20 Year Old Malvasia, £59.99

Dark tawny, almost mahogany brown, with a rich timbre to its sweet and spicy nose. On the palate it is super-rich and unctuous – the sweetest of the Madeiras –  with flavours of dried fruit, orange peel, dates, caramel, tamarind, and toffee. Though rich it is balanced by the wine`s mouth watering acidity.  Enjoy with Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, mince pies, Plum Pudding, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Treacle Tart, chocolate – alternatively delicious with dried fruits and cheeses, particularly blue cheeses.


Moules marinieres
Prawn salad

fillet of salmon, beurre blanc

New season pheasant, cavolo nero, bean and chorizo ragu, quince jus

Cheese board

Sticky toffee pudding

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Cotes du Rhone Wine Merchant of the Year, UK

The evening was a celebration for us winning Cotes du Rhone Wine Merchant of the Year, UK………… the prize, a trip to the Rhone Valley!! (Kate Whittle, our sales and marketing manager, has recently returned, having been a guest of the Chave family among others…. we thought we would include in the tasting Yann Chave`s famous Hermitage from the excellent 2009 vintage).

Thank you everyone for last night. It was a real thrill, first tasting our way around Northern Rhone (the reds 100% Syrah: Crozes Hermitage, St Joseph, Hermitage), then travelling South (the reds all Grenache based blends: Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape), an excellent demonstration of the two distinct Rhone styles, clearly described by our guest speaker of the evening, Jeremy Lithgow, of Charles Taylor Wines (a key supplier for some time of both Rhone and Burgundy).  Moreover on the table this evening we had in store some truly great houses: Domaine Yann Chave, Domaine du Tunnel, Domaine Michel Ogier,  Domaine la Bouissière,  Chateauneuf-du-Pape Bosquet des Papes….. some of the best Rhones you`ll ever taste ….However,  before we get to the reds, a few words about those curiously delightful whites: The first wine, the aperitif, Lirac Blanc by Lafond Roc Epine, was from the South (so technically out of place, since we were travelling North to South), but frankly it was an inspired choice to whet the appetite and no-one minded the geography. It had ample acidity and freshness, yet  weight too, giving it real punch. A good introduction to Rhone and the spark of an idea of what was to follow. The second wine, the Viognier de Rosine, was even more of an eye-brow raiser! It is not unlike Guigal`s Condrieu but two-thirds of the price, emitting the telltale scents of Viognier: violet and  lavender; on the palate it had rich,  soft scented fruits, of apricots and peaches. Our chef Tony Bell, who was on top form again, started the evening by matching this fascinating wine with  Cassolette of seafood with fennel cream, It was untested but happily worked well. In the past we have enjoyed Condrieu with crab, lobster and pork belly, the richness of these foods perfectly matched with the richness of Condrieu, and the other textbook match is creamy curry (can`t wait to try this one with the Rosine!). The last white, at the end of the meal, was the sweet Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. A Vin Doux Naturel, it is the fortified sweet wine of the Rhone, sweet, but not too sweet, a fruit-salad of wonderful aromas and flavours which was delicious with Tony`s truly superb Poached pear, pistachio sponge. Wonderful stuff to finish the evening. And everything between was red – classic Rhone reds. We started with Crozes Hermitage by Yann Chave, matched with  Portobello mushroom with rabbit tapenade.  They were perfect together. A good red burgundy would have been no better (though no worse). What I like about good Crozes is it bears the signature of the grape; we discussed the white pepper, sometimes black pepper, the floral notes of bright, red-fruited Syrah, the darker notes on the palate, the soft, crunchy fruit, the cool freshness and purity, etc, all this and more, but what Crozes doesn`t speak of is  terroir. It leaves that to its big brother Hermitage….. the St. Joseph was strapping and beautiful and the Hermitage, clearly the high-point, was dense and powerful (still young), matched very well with Duo of Layer Marney lamb, brunoise of aubergine & courgette. I liked Tony`s deconstructed ratatouillie here (very clever and tasty). The wine was immense but it was noted that the St Joseph offered better value now, while the Hermitage offered the potential for greatness in the long term (another ten years say). Then we went South and plundered the cheese board, Epoisses etc. Had to be done. The Grenache dominant blends offered greater opulence and sweetness, so they were always going to be great with cheeses. But equally we might have done things differently and matched them with a stew, beef, game or venison. The Vacqueyras was generously fruity and an inviting open style, highly quaffable and a fine start; yet truthfully the Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-pape were so good it paled into insignificance. Really I thought these two were fabulous. I love Syrah but in my mind they showed better than all the wines on the table, for drinking now, except possibly the St. Joseph by Domaine du Tunnel. A fabulous menu, well done Tony. Thanks Jeremy (we all agreed you make an excellent speaker). Thanks ladies (Janet, Emma, Harriet). And thanks to our guests who helped make it a very happy evening. Jeremy`s tasting notes to follow:

Guest speaker: Jeremy Lithgow – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

Wines of the Rhone

 Lirac Blanc, Lafond Roc Epine 2012, aperitif £14.99

A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, this delicious white displays exotic tropical fruit on the nose with hints of mango, lemongrass and grapefruit. The palate is ripe and inviting, with a soft mouthfeel and a hint of spice at the end of the dry citrus finish.

Viognier de Rosine, Domaine Michel Ogier 2012, £24.99

Domaine Ogier are one of the greatest estates of the Northern Rhone. This comes from a parcel of vines just next to the border of Condrieu, which is echoed in the classic ripe apricot and greengage notes with hints of nuts. Lovely rich texture and a mineral finish.

 Crozes Hermitage Les Saviaux  Domaine Yann Chave 2012, £19.99

 Yann Chave is an exciting young winemaker who has taken his family estate to new heights. This unoaked organic Syrah displays classic supple, ripe blackberry fruit with hints of white pepper, evolving into meatier flavours with air

 Saint Joseph Rouge Domaine du Tunnel 2009, £33.99

Stephane Robert has transformed this estate into something truly special. This is a succulent full-bodied syrah from a wonderful vintage, laden with soft, dark fruits of the forest and a touch of clove.

 Hermitage Yann Chave 2009, £68.99

Yann’s flagship wine, from a beautifully situated plot of vines, right in the heart of the famous hill or Hermitage. Powerful, with concentrated loganberry and licorice notes, complex hints of prune and roasted meats, rounded off with lush tannins on the long finish

 Vacqueyras rouge, Seigneur de Fontimple 2012, £16.99

A blend of Grenache and Syrah from 50 year old vines. Perfumed aromas of mulberry with classic  notes of provencal herbs and spice. Medium-weight, with seductive sweet fruit.

 Gigondas Domaine la Bouissière 2010, £26.99

Without doubt one of the finest producers in Gigondas, with the highest vineyards of the village. A blend of old-vine Grenache and Syrah, starting to drink beautifully with full-bodied spicy red and black fruits complemented by roasted herbs and meats.

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Bosquet des Papes Tradition 2012, £33.99

A traditional Grenache dominated blend from old vines grown on the classic galets roulés. Deep, spiced liqueur fruit, with complex flavours of charcuterie and thyme. Delicious now, but with the potential to develop further over the next decade

 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Bouquet des Dentelles, £19.99

A floral nose of fresh grapes, rosewater flecked with honey and orange blossom. Sweet yet vibrant in the mouth, with an elegant zesty finish balancing the exotic sweetness.


Cassolette of seafood with fennel cream

Portobello mushroom with rabbit tapenade

Duo of Layer Marney lamb, brunoise of aubergine & courgette

Cheese board

Poached pear, pistachio sponge

With thanks to everyone.

Anthony Borges

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Autumn Winter Fashion Show

On Tuesday 7th October, The Gift Room at The Wine Centre held their AW14 Fashion Show, in aid of St Helena Hospice.  The evening started at 7.30, with white and red Rioja served as part of a Rioja promotion, as well as handmade canapes.  All of the models wore clothes from The Fifth Collection and are customers of the shop, and all looked absolutely fabulous on the night.  £365 was raised for St Helena Hospice, from a raffle and proceeds from the tickets.

fashion show aw14