Posted on

Our Xmas party

Thanks those of you who came to our Xmas party and well done Charlie for the delicious food (menu below). Every dish brought smiles to our faces – and the food-wine matching was a great hit. My favourite match was the Chassagne-Montrachet, which was stunning, with the melt-in-the-mouth skate wing,  each highlighting the other; followed a close second by  the juicy Volnay with the beautifully pink-juicy  duck. Well done McKinley Vintners, an excellent selection of wines from your collection of small, boutique  independent wineries… and well done Jonathan for entertaining us all with your amusing anecdotes!!

Guest Speaker: Jonathan Farrar – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Charlie Stocker

The Pick of Wines from McKinley

 Gosset Grande Reserve, Champagne £49.99 – aperitif

Star-bright, persistent small beads. Gosset’s flagship cuvee is rich & toasty with dried-fruit & gingerbread characters. Awarded the ‘Grappe d’Or’ (Best Wine of The Year) in 2010. The blend is made up with 43% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier.

Magnum: £120 / £102

St Veran Tradition. Domaine Lucien Thomas 2011 £18.99

Green-gold colour. Completely unoaked. Floral (white flowers),  pure and precise with fleshy pear.

Montagny 1er Cru Classique, Chateau de la Saule 2010, £23.99

Pale gold-green colour.  Unoaked. Fresh and clean, unoaked with fine florals & minerality.

Chassagne-Montrachet, Vieilles Vignes, Dom. J.F. Bachelet 2011, £48.99

Bright, pale gold colour.  Rich yet super-fresh wine, well-pollished, toast, apricots, lovely florals, gleaming minerality and a lingering finish.

 Morgon, Cote du Py, Domaine des Roches du Py 2011, £18.99

Ruby, purplsh, translucent. Gamay at its best, red-fruited, raspberry, redcurrant, some interesting dried fruits & spices….

Mercurey rouge, Meix-Foulot 2009, £23.99

Ruby garnet- red colour, translucent. 25%-30% new  oak. Ripe red fruits of cherry, raspberry and strawberry (cherry kirsch). Some darker fruits too. Feminine silky, rounded body.

 Volnay, Domaine Bitouzet-Prieur 2010, £33.99

A deeper shade: Ripe fruits, bursting with florals (violets) & a hint of musk. A vibrant display of fresh red fruits. Very feminine, fruity and silky, a super-charged version of the Mercurey.

 Cornas, Les Murettes, Domaine Michelas St Jemms 2010, £48.99

Much deeper (garnet): First class Syrah from the steep granitic slopes of Northern Rhone. A fine, full-bodied complex wine with fillet steak but also one to enjoy with the cheeses….

 Gosset Grand Rose, Champagne £59.99

Pale salmon pink colour. Small red fruits, wildp strawberries. Classy bubbles…… 58% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir with 7% red wine from the Grand Cru Pinot Noir villages of Bouzy & Ambonnay.

Magnum: £130 / £110


Smoked salmon, blinis, chive clotted cream

Mushroom and spelt Arancini, pumpkin puree

Mersea skate wing, herb gnocchi, cauliflower, brown butter

Smoked Essex duck breast, beetroot fondant, tangerine emulsion, Jerusalem artichoke textures, spiced jus

Cheese Board

Goat`s cheese cheesecake, rosehip, walnut, thyme, olive oil



Posted on

October 11th Mentzendorff Tasting

Thank you those of you who braved the storm to be with us last night. I think we all had a fabulous evening, didn`t we? Good company, certainly. Charlie on top form with his superb cuisine. Alastair waxing lyrical, very entertaining. The wines: superb. And the food-wine pairings spot on, if I say so myself. Charlie works outside the box so pairing wine and food is somewhat experimental. Nothing “text-book” here. Yet a seamless match every course and some successful contrasting as well. First the wines we tasted and then the menu, with brief comments about the food wine pairings:

Guest Speaker: Alastair Fleming – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Charlie Stocker

The Pick of Wines from Mentzendorff

 Klein Constantia Cap Classique Brut 2009, £19.99 – aperitif

100% Chardonnay. The nose shows rich, complex brioche autolysis characters with aromas of flinty pine nuts and apples. These characters continue on to the palate, delightfully fresh, well rounded with a long creamy finish.

 Cotes du Rhone Belleruche Blanc 2011, £11.99

Classic Cotes du Rhone from Le Guide Bettane and Desseauve des Vin de France “Man of the Year” Michel Chapoutier. Pale yellow in colour with aromas of green apples, hawthorns and white blossoms. Well balanced with freshness and length.

 Chanson  Macon La Roche Vineuse 2011, £15.99

Pale gold colour with notes of orange blossom mixed with aromas of lemon, pear and white peach enhanced by subtle mineralilty. Generous, well-balanced and unctuous with a good density. Long and citrussy after-taste.

Chanson Puligny-Montrachet 2011, £48.99

Pale gold colour with delicate fragrances of accacia mixed with citrus fruit and a hint of vanilla. Well structured with a beautiful texture, a delicate oak note and a refreshing, zesty after-taste.

 Chanson Fleurie 2010, £15.99

Bright purple colour with intense aromas of red berries (raspberry), liquorice and violet plus a hint of spices. Complex, generous and well-balanced. Dense texture with fine-grained tannins. Lingering finish.

 Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage, La Petite Ruche 2010, £16.99

Complex characters of blackberry, truffle, charcoal, graphite and smoke. Full-bodied, dense and rich with remarkable intensity.

 Cote-Rotie, Les Becasses 2010, £55.00

Deep purple red, has a nose of raspberry, a hint of violet, a touch of olive (tapenade) and rosemary. Full flavoured  with an aftertaste of wood, spices and vanilla.

Talisman 2009, Crossroads Winery, Hawkes Bay NZ, £23.99

A seamless palate is brought to life by violet, blackcurrant and liquorice among the many flavours. Another great vintage of Crossroad’s iconic wine.

 Pedro Ximenez Triana (50cl) £16.99

Opulently sweet bursting with raisins, prunes and  sweet figs. Serve slightly chilled Pedro Ximenez of this quality can either be served on its own as a luxurious after-dinner drink, or as a dessert wine.


 Blini, our own smoked salmon, chive clotted cream – delicious canapés with the fizz while we dusted off the long week and closed the door on the horrible weather.

Pumpkin & chilli arincini, mushroom and pearl barley soil, tarragon essence – what a fabulous starter, exquisite taste, perfect wine match the Cotes du Rhone white, both food and wine showing off the other.

 Crab and squid ink ravioli, sweetcorn panna cotta, wild sea herbs – a rich second starter equalled by the richness of the wine.

Rump steak, local greens, turnips, pumpkin, smoked horseradish jus – the Crozes-Hermitage was just the ticket with the main, followed by the amazing peppery Cote-Rotie.

 Epoisses, Dolcelatte, Beaufort, Goat`s cheese Rosary

Sticky toffee pudding baked Alaska, roasted pecan ice cream, muscavado meringue, apple and blackberry textures – a great version of this classic dish, lovely with the rich, viscous PX.

Posted on

September 13th Wine Tasting

13th September 2013

A soirée of wine and food with chef Tony Bell, guest speaker Peter Rowe and host Anthony Borges

14/9 Tony was on top form last night, dish after dish of superb food, and every one providing the perfect backdrop to its wine pairing.

In a nutshell: 1) The Hunawihr Riesling a refreshing aperitif to waken the taste buds; 2) the Gewurtraminer the perfect cooling agent and medley

of aromas and flavours with the lively AsiaN spices in the Szechuan salad; 3) the amazing Pieropan La Rocca a seemless match with the risotto;

4) John Duval`s Plexus and the scallop dish, both manna from Heaven, filling the palate with an explosion of cream-apricot-tarragon-and-

nutty flavours, and a dreamy sauce which seemed to combine all the parts and add up to so much more  (I slurped the last of mine from

my shell); 5)  then on to the Ca di Frai, what a delightful, refreshing wine, a terrific break from the proceeding richness, a great match

with the fresh prawn dish (the tomato gel an inspired touch); 6) the Valpolicella and 7) Crimson Pinot Noir two terrific reds,  supple and fruity,

gorgeous with the duck (Tony, the duck was wonderful, the sauce, not too showy,  brought out the best in the wines while neatly highlighting

the superb duck flavours…. again, terrific); 8) followed by Australia`s culinary contribution to the evening, those tasty little burger and courgette

pickles (Macdonald`s, that`s how you do it!) with the beautiful Shaw and Smith (stunning)…. and finally 9) NZ`s Kim Crawford with the cheddar.

A satifying finish to an excellent tasting and supper. Thanks everyone who participated. Two new tastings now on offer in 2014….

 The Wines

 Hunawihr Riesling, Alsace, France 2012, £12.99, tonight £11.69 (aperitif)

 Hunawihr Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France 2011, £15.99, tonight £14.39

Pieropan La Rocca, Soave Classico, Italy 2008, £24.99, tonight £19.99*20% off

Plexus by John Duval, Barossa Valley, Australia 2010, £26.99, tonight £21.59*20% off

Ca de Frati Rosado 2012, Italy £16.99, tonight £15.29

Allegrini Valpolicella, Verona, Italy 2012, £12.99, tonight £11.69

Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir, Martinborough 2011, NZ £20.99, tonight £18.89

Shaw and Smith Shiraz, Adelaide, Australia 2010, £26.99, tonight £21.59*20% off

Kim Crawford Merlot, Hawke`s Bay 2011, NZ £13.99, tonight £12.59


Szechuan salad of chicken and cucumber (with the Gewurztraminer)

Squash & almond risotto (or porcini risotto) (with the Pieropan)

Roast scallop, spring onion oil (with the Plexus)

Salad of prawns, tomato & herb concassé (with the Lugana rosé)

Anatra in porchetta, a duck dish from Le Marche region, flavoured with sage, rosemary, fennel and bay (very slowly roasted) and roast new potatoes (with either the Valpolicella or the Crimson)

Rare beef slider with zani. Sliders are small burgers and the zani is a courgette pickle, on griddled sourdough bread & baby leaf (with the Shiraz)

 Mature Cheddar (with the Merlot)

Posted on

Wine Centre 50th Anniversary Village News


July 2013

 It`s our 50th year as a wine merchant and we have just won the coveted Essex Countywide Business Award, Retailer of the Year 2013. We are delighted and would like to thank our customers, friends and family for their support. We want to be an asset to our community and the award is an encouraging boost during what is a difficult economic climate.

 On 5th July we celebrated our 50 year anniversary as a wine merchant with a  Deli & Wine evening at Great Horkesley`s new village hall. Thank you those of you who celebrated with us. It was a fun evening and marvelous tasting  of Vina Ventisquero wines from Chile. Special thanks to Tony Bell and his team who provided us all with a grand feast, sourcing the food almost entirely from our shop. Also huge thanks to Paul, Boni and Hal from Vina Ventisquero who ensured the evening was educational as well as great fun.

One last thank you: Last but not least, thanks to Tony Fryer of Nayland who generously gifted us with a 50th anniversary wooden plaque.

The evening  was a great opportunity  to meet our neighbours and customers in an informal, relaxed atmosphere. We hope that those of you who came enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

A Little History

The shop changed from a Grocer to a Wine Shop on July 8th, 1963, named Peatling & Cawdron Wine Merchants (later re-named  Thomas Peatling). Owned by local brewery Greene King, it was managed by husband and wife team Brian and Maudi Hardwick who lived on the premises until April 1999  when it was purchased by current owner, Anthony Borges. In 2005 Anthony married Janet who had been Operations Director at William`s and Griffin, who now joined The Wine Centre, bringing with her life-long friend and W&G buyer at the time, Merrill Harrington. Between them they brought to The Wine Centre a wealth of retail experience and style, helping transform what was a traditional wine shop into a contemporary retail destination selling wine-food-gifts-& fashion. Their mission: for the business to be an asset to the village and central to the community. The party was a local celebration of the shop`s past, present and future. 


About our Deli

It started with a fridge of cheeses “to compliment the wine” and now it`s  a fledgling deli with gourmet delights ranging from locally produced savouries such as Pinney`s of Orford smoked fish,  Seasonal Suffolk pates and charcuterie – to delicious Linden Lady chocolates and sweet biscuits. And now specialty fresh bread on Fridays & Saturdays for your weekends. Why not visit us  for a glass of vino and treat yourself to a basket full of wonderful goodies!

We are delighted to be a part of Carl Shillingford and James Salthouse` new enterprise, Seasonal Suffolk – Carl learned his craft in Paris and was recently head chef at The Anchor in Nayland before embarking on Seasonal Suffolk, his latest venture; together they forage for food locally to produce some of the most delicious terrines and pates we`ve ever had. Now they are making wholesome ready meals available for sale in our shop!

 The Gift Room

 Our New Gift Room has been a success from day one, when “Made in Chelsea” star Sophia Sassoon cut the ribbon. A hundred guests came to the opening night party which was covered by Essex Life Magazine. The evening was an opportunity for customers to enjoy a glass of wine or two, while meeting our new suppliers. Local jewellery designer Sarah Lindsey was on hand to show her Spring / Summer collection; local photographer Nadine Bentley displayed some examples of her portraits and still life; there were lino-cuts by Carl Peter Borges, local artist (who happens to be Anthony`s brother), Debra Hornigold of Created by the Fairies cake company in West Bergholt provided the celebratory cakes and of course Seasonal Suffolk.

 The Gift Room offers fashion, handbags, scarves, jewellery, toiletries, candles and gifts for the home.

 Riedel Glassware

 Riedel is the brand of glass and decanter most preferred by professionals in the wine trade. The team feels privileged to be their distributer in the area. The difference a fine glass makes to one`s enjoyment of wine is indisputable, but if you don`t believe it you can enjoy a demonstration next time Riedel UK come to Great Horkesley (next date TBC). Meantime why not start by taking advantage of our July offer: a single stem Riedel Degustazione glass, £9.45.

 Meet the owner

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 is 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, among others. 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 their success to a strong team and a great community. In our current economic downturn with so much in the way of bad news in our newspapers, this is a real life good news story – one of which we can all be a part.

Wine-Tasting Suppers at The Wine Centre

Friday night wine tasting suppers are offered once or twice a month.

At £35 it`s a Deli and Wine evening, much like the spread offered at the village hall on May 5th, but small and intimate, limited to sixteen guests only, for one single table of eighteen including Anthony and guest speaker. Guests enjoy grazing and drinking in a convivial atmosphere.

At £45 – £85 it is much the same format but The Wine Centre has a chef prepare a four course meal and fine wines are selected to match the food. The higher the ticket price, the higher we raise the bar! Evenings are friendly, informative, informal and great fun!

Also available for private hire, an opportunity for you to bring your friends, family or work colleagues.  Enquiries welcome or visit The Wine Centre`s website for details of events.

 Cheese & Wine private parties are also offered for £20 p/p on Friday evenings 6.30-8.30pm for 30-40 guests. We host your party. Again, enquiries welcome.

We are considering an informal Wednesday evening wine tasting (our “Wednesday Club”), £10-£15 per person, 6.30-8.00pm. Anyone interested please send us an e-mail and we`ll keep you updated on plans.

We are a specialist wine merchant but also like to think of ourselves as a broad shop, for everyone, serving all the residents of Great Horkesley and its neighbouring villages. Conveniently situated on the A134 we have plenty of free parking. The building is a grade II listed and as custodians we take  responsibility for its upkeep very seriously. We want the building to be an asset to the village, as well as the business. Of its 50 years the last thirteen have been under the ownership of the current management, Anthony and Janet Borges. The shop stocks 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! There is also now the fledgling deli with its fantastic cheeses, and of course most recently the addition of the gift room annexed to the main shop.

After a major refurbishment in 2011 The Wine Centre now has a contemporary feel, with air-conditioning, which we very much hope adds to our customers shopping experience.

Wine awards

 We are proud to be an award winning wine centre. Our success has been recognised within the wine industry with recent awards from Wines of Spain, New Zealand Winegrowers and Wines of Chile. Then last year we were awarded 1st prize and the prestigious title of Essex Life Retailer of the Year 2012.  We were especially proud of that award because  it included the food category for the first time, for which we have worked so hard in recent years, and because it is a recognition of our work locally.  Now this latest award, Essex Countywide Business Award Retailer of the Year 2013, is recognition of us as a “Retailer”, incorporating everything we do – from wine, glassware & deli to gifts, fashion & entertainment – a business award, voted for  by business people. We are delighted.

Vina Ventisquero, Chile

 On 5th July we showcased  Vina Ventisquero Chilean wines as part of  our anniversary celebration, a range which incorporates the fruit-driven Clasico range, at £7.99,  the Reservas £9.99- £10.99 and the `Grey` premium range £14.99. A myriad of styles and excellent quality. We also tasted their icon wine, Pangea, £32.99, a wine made by Australia`s most famous winemaker, John Duval. We were thrilled to have John visit us for a special dinner last year and we are delighted now to be Ventisquero`s main distributer in the region.

Saturdays at The Wine Centre

There`s always a bottle or two open at The Wine Centre so why not join us and enjoy a glass of wine while you shop. There`s parking and you are always welcomed with a smile! And of course it beats going into town. What`s not to like !

Party Service

Birthdays, Weddings, Christenings,  your special day … we can help you get it right and take the stress away….

We are experienced and happy to help and advise you on all your drink requirements. Indeed, we supply everything you could want for a party: the full drinks complement of wines, ciders, spirits, liqueurs and soft drinks.

  • Real Ales help to make a party special. We offer Adnams, Greene King and Nethergate ales. Please note we ask for 2 weeks notice and the ale needs 2 days to settle before use. Poly-pins hold 36 pints.
  • We offer a Sale or Return service so that you don’t need to worry about running out of anything. We will calculate quantities according to the number of guests and work on the generous side. Whatever is left (as long as it’s in re-saleable condition) will be taken back into stock.
  • We are able to loan ice trugs, water jugs etc to help your event run smoothly. We also sell ice.
  • Glassware is loaned free of charge providing the appropriate drinks are purchased from us. We require glasses to be returned cleaned, as you would wish to receive them. Breakages are charged at £1.00 per standard wine glass, £2.50 per fine flute or £7 per Riedel.

Other Party Services

Magnums –

Big bottles are great for parties – we have a delicious range for £25 per magnum, red, white, rose and sparkling – simply add a bow and it`s a unique gift which never fails to impress when you make your entrance!

Look forward to seeing you soon.


Anthony,  Janet , Merrill and Peter

Essex Life’s Independent Food & Drink Award 2012,   Essex Countywide Business Awards: Retailer of the Year 2013.

The Wine Centre, Great Horkesley: Your local wine merchant with a bigger offering than ever before!


We look forward to seeing you!







The Wine Centre`s new branding


The Gift Room, annexed to The Wine Centre


We hope you like it.

Posted on

June Offer, Catherine Marshall

Selection of Catherine Marshall, Elgin, South African wines


We were delighted to welcome Catherine to The Wine Centre on Friday. She was as delightfully charming as her artisan wines. Our mixed half-case offer includes two of the Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Sauvignon Blanc, S. Africa £11.99

SB is very French, restrained and minerally, but with more ripeness. SB Cathy says: Fresh flavours of limes, passion fruit and ripe mangoes with a long, clean mineral finish. Serve chilled with asparagus, fish and Thai green curry

2011 Pinot Noir £15.99

Both PN’s are savoury and rather earthy, in a Burgundian way. PN Cathy says: Mouth filling red berry core with fine, elegant and subtle fruit structure supported by well integrated mineral oak tannins

2011 Pinot Noir Reserve £17.99

PN Reserve: Cathy says: Broad, seductive compote of concentrated black cherries, mulberries and cranberries supported by mineral oak tannins. Powerful yet silky texture is seamlessly complex throughout

2012 Amatra Merlot £14.99

Merlot Amatra, Cathy says: Plush, ripe, purple fruit flavours and aromatics, supported by vibrant, fresh acidity to balance opulently textured mid-core palate weight

2008 Myriad (Merlot/Pinot Noir fortified), 37.5cl, £15.99

Myriad, Cathy says: Tightly woven flavours of Pinot cherry liqueur, lavender and hazelnuts with ripe Merlot black fruit. Sweetness is restrained by the cognac warmth lingering in the background. Lively  tensioned structure with velvety complexity throughout. Serve chilled with ripe creamy cheese or fine dark chocolate

Six bottles: £79.99



Posted on

Winner of Essex Countywide Business Awards 2013


LSPN Editorial, May 2013

The Wine Centre in Gt Horkesley is celebrating its 50th year as an award winning independent wine merchant. In recent years it has been refurbished and its retail offering extended, with the help of Eddie Yan realtor, far beyond that of a traditional wine shop by purchasing new locals to expand the business and also using the Metric eis tax relief. The shop offers the full complement of drinks, it is a regional stockist for Riedel glassware*, it has a fledgling deli with a fantastic reputation for its cheeses, and its hamper and gift business is thriving with national distribution online.

Now, annexed to The Wine Centre there is the Gift Room, offering fashion, scarves, jewellery, handbags, toiletries, and candles.

Its current owners, Anthony and Janet Borges, are in the mood to celebrate their big anniversary. “We want to be an asset to the community” explains Janet. “50 years a wine merchant serving Great Horkesley and its surrounding villages – what`s not to celebrate!”

In recent years The Wine Centre has picked up a number of prestigious  awards: Wines of Spain Bursary, New Zealand Wine Growers Retailer of the Year, Wines of Chile Retailer of the Year and Essex Life`s Food & Drink retailer of the year. Now Newsquest has awarded The Wine Centre the coveted Essex Countywide Business Award for Retail, 2013!

The award was presented to Anthony and Janet recently [May 10th] at the Essex Countywide Business Awards ceremony, 2013, a black tie event with over six hundred guests, representing nominees in all business categories. The Wine Centre won its category for best Retailer.  “We are delighted”, explains Anthony. “It`s been a team effort and we`re very proud – but we couldn`t have done any of it without a supportive community and the help of friends and family”.

Janet adds “We are first and foremost a wine merchant but this latest award is in recognition of our achievements as a retailer. It`s why we are especially thrilled”.

A Little History

On 8th July 1963 the premises changed from being a grocer to a wine shop and was named Peatling & Cawdron Wine Merchants (later re-named Thomas Peatling). Owned by local brewery Greene King, it was managed by husband and wife team Brian and Maudi Hardwick who lived on the premises until April 1999 when it was purchased by current owner, Anthony Borges. In 2005 Anthony married Janet who had been Operations Director at William`s and Griffin, who now joined The Wine Centre along with Merrill Harrington, of Thorington Street, who had been a buyer at W&G and Janet`s very good friend. Between them they brought to The Wine Centre a wealth of retail experience and style, helping transform what was a traditional wine shop into a contemporary retail destination selling wine, food, gifts, and fashion.

Anthony and Janet Borges at the awards evening

The Wine Centre telephone 01206 271 236 –  e-mail .
Posted on

Charlie Stocker rocks

Posted 9/3/13 

Charlie Stocker rocked last night at The Wine Centre. Michelin-star quality at age 21, this lad is definitely a rising star in the food world…… check out his website to find out about his Essex pop-ups. 

The Menu:

Native Mersea Oyster  Mignonette * Local Hake, Pink Fir Potatoes, Seaweed Butter, Mersea Vegetables *
Rump of Layer Marney Lamb, Compressed Shoulder, Wild Garlic, Textures of Cauliflower
* Crispy Duck Pancakes, Rhubarb and Chilli, Thai Basil * Cheese Board * Variations
of Plum, Almond Granola, Brown Sugar Meringue, Meadowsweet juice *

The wines were terrific too and some great matches: Chablis with oyster “an amuse bouche” always a dreamy combination and this a truly excellent Chablis;  delicious meaty-buttery hake with an impressive Meursault; and the  lamb – so succulent – the perfect match with both N-S-G`s; the duck pancake an  inspired sweet-sour parcel of goodies, the tangy rhubarb contrasting magnificently with  the opulent Gewuztraminer [my favourite white]. The port and stilton predictably excellent (the port so smooth…. ) and finally  late harvest Gewurztraminer with the almond granola and sweet-tasting plum on the side…. oh boy 

The wines:

Louis Roederer, Domaine Faiveley, Domaines Schlumberger, Tommasi & Ramos

 Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne, £34.99 £31.49*

 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains Burgundy 2009, Faiveley £26.99 £24.29*

 Meursault Premier Cru Blagny Burgundy 2009, Faiveley £48.99 £44.09*

  Nuits St Georges Burgundy 2009, Faiveley £36.99 £33.29* favourite red

  Nuits St Georges 1er Cru Porets Burgundy 2009, Faiveley  £60.00 £54.00*

Kitterle Alsace Gewurztraminer, Schlumberger  Alsace 2003, £36.99 £33.29* favourite white

  Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Italy  2009, £42.00 £37.80*

Ramos Pinto Vintage  Port 1995, £55.00 £49.50*

 Cuvee Christine, Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Alsace 2007, Schumberger £50.00 £45.00*

 *10% discount for a mixed case of six bottles or more

Posted on

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!



Posted on

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

Posted on

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