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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