Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fruity Chardonnay Wine Flight

Chardonnay suffers from an image problem that was introduced by the oaky Chardonnays of the 1990s. Many people still label themselves as ABCs (Anything But Chardonnays), but it’s time for that to end. Chardonnay is known as the ‘tart of grapes’ because it can be made in any style you want – varying from earthy to fruity and from light to rich. In Burgundy and Italy Chardonnay wines tend to be earthy, and in the New World they tend to be fruity. I have chosen here to showcase three fruity Chardonnays that are quite different in style yet none have the overpowering over-oaked flavours that you might fear.


Emmanuel Delaille, Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay, Cheverny, France, 2015, 12.5%
This wine uses zesty notes of Sauvignon Blanc to balance the Chardonnay. Often blending
Chardonnay with another grape varietal, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, or Colombard will
move the focus away from the Chardonnay grape, making it appealing to more people. This light
wine has aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and guava and would partner well with a grilled chicken, spinach and feta salad.
Available from Wine Rack £9.99


Peach Garden, Chardonnay, Thracian Lowlands, Bulgaria, 2015, 12.5%
Chardonnays from newer regions, such as Chile, Bulgaria, and Oregon tend to be made in a fruity style, with light oak. This wine is a crisp Chardonnay with citrus and warm peach and hazelnut notes, subtly oaked to give texture and depth. Partner with roast chicken, baked fish and summer salads.
Available from M&S £7.50


Maggio, Chardonnay, Lodi, USA, 2015, 13.5%
This wine has gone through malolactic fermentation, a process that turns the green/citrus malic
acid into creamy lactic acid flavour compounds to produce a buttery full-bodied Chardonnay. Ripe
tropical fruit aromas combined with hints of vanilla on the nose, with butterscotch flavours and a long
finish. Best served with pumpkin ravioli with toasted pine nuts, or cajun chicken.
Available from Wine Discovery, www.wine-discovery.co.uk £13

English Wine Flight

Top Tips
English wine has come a long way from the tart flabby wines that we used to make, to the 120 awards won at the International Wine Challenge 2016. Now even Taittinger, the French Champagne house, has bought some land in Kent to invest in English Sparkling wine. But it’s not just the sparklers that are outstanding, there are some English still wines that are worth a try, and here are three of them. Marlow (where I have my pop-up wine bar) is lucky to have several vineyards nearby, including Oaken Grove, Harrow & Hope, Chiltern Valley (Old Luxters), and Stanlake Park. Lets support our local producers and buy their wines, some of them are really rather lovely. Be aware that ‘British’ wine is different to ‘English’ wine. English wines are made from grapes that are grown here and then the wine is made here, whereas British wines import the juice to make here.


Chiltern Valley Dry, Reichensteiner, 2015, 11%
The Chiltern Valley Winery is based in Hambleden, between Marlow and Henley-on-Thames. It is open to the public and runs tours of the vineyard. This wine is made with the Reichensteiner grape, which ripens well, so is popular in England. This light and crisp white is refreshing and delicious, particularly if partnered with barbecued fish with a wedge of lime.
Available from Chiltern Valley Winery, Hambleden £11.95


Oaken Grove Benham Blush, Pinot Noir, England, 2014, 12.5%
Oaken Grove is a family-owned vineyard based in Fawley, near Henley-on-Thames. This wine is a
dry rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir. Enticing strawberries and cream on the nose with hints of
apple, peach and cherry cobbler flavour characteristics. Great served with pork chop and green beans.
Available from www.oakengroveyineyard.co.uk or Waitrose £11.49


Litmus, White Pinot Noir, England, 2013, 12.5%
Litmus is produced in the North Downs of Surrey. White Pinot Noir is richer than many white wines
because it’s made with red wine grapes. It has flavours of baked apple and pear, with zesty notes of honey, orange and ginger. A lovely full body with light oak. A great match for prawn tempura or turkey steaks in a creamy sauce.
Available from M&S £22

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Portuguese Wine Tasting

I recently attended another delightful Portuguese wine tasting at Exquisite in Marlow. Paulo and Maria are very generous with their pours and provide home-made canapes at the end of the evening.

We started the evening with a palate cleanser Maria Papiola, a lovely white wine from Vinho Verde in north west Portugal. Bright and crisp with low alcohol level, this wine is a delight. You can almost smell the sea its so fresh, with limes, yellow apple and no oak. Would go well with garlic prawns. It's made with the Loureiro and Alvarinho grapes. If you've tried the Maria Bonita at my pop-up wine bar n Marlow, this is quite different, because the Alvarinho brings a sharpness to the wine like a sword cutting an apple. £11.40.

Next we were served Andreza Codega do Larinho,a full bodied wine with peach and pear characteristics. This is made from the same grape as is used for Madeira, but n the Douro region it is grown in high altitudes giving it a lighter characteristic. Great served with pork loin in a creamy mustard sauce and sauteed potatoes. £11.40.

Album Reserva was the first red wine we tried, and with a Petit Verdot anf Syrah base I was delighted to try such a fruity and spicy red fromPortugal. Grown in the Alantejo region,  these grapesproduce a black fruit and black pepper profile. It has high tannins for a Syrah, making it a good candidate for ageing. Great with hard cheese. Also £11.40.



Leaving the best review until last, I have to say I fell in love with Tyto Alba Red. This wine comes from a very old estate within a conservation area. There are barn owls who nest in the forest surrounding the vines, which are believed to protect the vines. Besides the romanticism,this vineyard makes stunning wines. This is their entry level red, also producing a Merlot and a Touriga Nacional I can't wait to try. Beautiful black fruits and violets,accompanied by vanilla and leather. Would go well with roast duck. Not only are the wine and history a delight, but the presentation box is spectacular, with the owl design peeking out of the hole in the box. After taking the wine out of the box you can fix it to a tree for local birds to nest in it. Wine £13.90, box £5  (£2.50 donated to RSPB by Exquisite). Wine available now, box in store in time for Christmas 2017.