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Clever and Quick Canapés

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Wednesday 22nd April at 9.30am, Extreme Designs, 145 Church Rd, Barnes SW13 9HR 

Come and join us in our new venture with Barnes Class - a great way to learn something new!

Do you need 4 fail safe canapés for an impressive dinner party or just an intimate get together? Katie Andrew from Katie’s Kitchen Company will take you thorough a demo of 4 fabulous canapés from the simple to the skilled but all are delicious and fun.

There will be wines to taste alongside the canapes at the end of the demonstration.

Still a few tickets left – follow this link to book

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Rosé Tastings – Taste of Summer

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Not all rosé is created equal and you just have to sample some of the supermarket or pub offerings to know that not all rosé delivers that gorgeous taste of summer. There is a great variety of flavour and quality, from sweet to bone dry, from delicate soft fruit flavours to cloying boiled sweets! You don’t have to pay a lot of money to get a good rosé but it helps to know what you are looking for when faced with a row of rosés in a shop or on a wine list.

Rosé wine tasting – from a lightly sparkling rosé at only 5% alcohol to serious, award-winning wines that take rosé to another level, our rosé evenings are a real taste of summer. Taste your way round some of the best rosés available and learn more about our favourite summer drink, combine it with an olive oil tasting to complete the taste of summer.  These are fun evenings – perfect for a social gathering, fundraising or networking – the evening can include competitions and tasting challenges to add a competitive edge. The many colours of rosé are part of it’s attraction – learn whether you can judge a rosé by it’s colour.

We can come along and run a rosé masterclass or we can provide you with all you need to host the evening yourself – so if you need to raise some funds for your sports club, want a social evening with a difference, want to network with a new angle, or just want to get your friends round, then get in touch gwen@thehousewine.co.uk.

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Rueda Vineyard

Drink Less but Drink Better – Discover Verdejo

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Why Verdejo? (ver-day-ho) This white wine from Northern Spain will be loved by fans of Sauvignon Blanc and Italian white wines. Think – refreshing, subtly fruity, hint of savouryness and herb – so an all round pleaser just like a genuine Spanish tapas bar – this wines spiritual home.

The best Verdejo comes from an area called Rueda, centred around the town of the that name. It is not a very remarkable area geographically it is, like much of Spain, a high plane but Rueda does boast unique stony soils (see the picture above). Verdejo is genuinely one of Spain’s best white wines and very popular in it’s homeland, but for a wine that has so much appeal and easy charm it is surprisingly little known here. It is wine best drunk young and fresh and so it is not expensive.

Rueda is highlighted on this map.

Rueda, a small, mainly white wine growing region in Central-northern Spain.

I first fell in love with Verdejo in the tapas bars of breathtakingly-beautiful Segovia and buzzing Leon, both cities are not far from the Rueda wine district. The tapas bars of Leon are a phenomena with most of the them based in an area of the city called the Barrio Humedo (meaning wet – for all the bars within such a small space). Lots of the tapas here is free and evenings are spent moving from one bar to the next sampling each ones speciality. Leon is a small city, packed with churches it is an important pilgrimage stop on the Camino de Santiago and with the added benefit of the most fun and affordable night-life.

The tightly packed narrow streets and little square of the Barrio Humedo are a tapas lovers dream!

The tightly-packed, narrow streets and little squares of the Barrio Humedo are a tapas lovers dream!

Flor de Vetus

 

Our Verdejo ‘Flor de Vetus’ is a perfect example of this charming wine – it has everyday appeal and is great as an aperitif but also brilliant with a wide range of foods, think tapas – garlic prawns, salted cod croquettes,
 roasted peppers but don’t just think Spain, Verdejo is great with the now very fashionable  Fish tacos. And, as you would expect from us, it looks lovely! Buy it here.

 

A great new wine to discover – find out more here.

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Christmas Essentials – Start with some Sparkle

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Fizz for all Occasions

Fizz in it’s many guises is so much a part of our December celebrations that most of us will drink more sparkling wine over the next month than we do the rest of the year. Different occasions call for different wines, a party of eight is a different beast to drinks with the whole street. When it’s your turn to host a gathering don’t just plump for the supermarket special offer Prosecco as you (and your guests) are likely to be disappointed so much of it is bland and leaves a nasty chemical acid burn behind! We have some great fizz, from really affordable well-made (organic) Prosecco and low-alcohol Moscato to superb Champagne and beautiful English Sparkling Wine.

 Crowd-pleasing Bubbles

At lots of our Christmas gatherings we have a real mixture of ages and tastes and when you have quite a few glasses to fill it’s best to play it safe and go for wines with general appeal, also you might want to keep alcohol consumption under control so a weak cocktail or a low alcohol wine is also a winner.

Innocent Bystander, Moscato – with a bit of sweetness and alcohol at only 5.5% it is perfect for older teenagers, lunchtime drinking and for those who just fancy something light and refreshing. It comes in standard size bottles or half-size bottles so you can give guests their own bottle with a straw! Serve well chilled.

Winter Prosecco cocktail – half fill your flutes with the juice of clementines, then fill with Prosecco and add a cranberry or two for a festive touch (some guests may want a little sugar added to the mix). Pretty, seasonal and a great way to start a party.

 Here is a recipe for special sausage rolls – a great favourite whatever your age, made ahead of time and served on rustic boards, perfect stress-free catering.

For still wine go for something with all-round appeal, the Domaine de St Lannes from Gascony is a lovely price and a fresh-tasting, enjoyably quaffable wine, equally this Syrah from central Spain is not too heavy but juicy and full enough to be perfect winter drinking.

 

Grown-up Sparkle

If your evening is not going to be a motley mix of friends, family and neighbours but a sophisticated gathering of your like-minded friends and the ambience is all about elegance then some other wine choices are need.

This is not the most expensive fizz on our list but it is the prettiest and it’s flavours are grown-up, gorgeous and a great alternative to Champagne. The fully-sparkling La Jara Organic Pinot Grigio is the palest, palest pink, with subtle raspberry flavours – we have sold this wine from the beginning and people come back for more and more!

If you want to serve a grown-up cocktail then this Negroni is a great option, and our Prosecco is fresh and crisp so a great basis for this cocktail.

A still white wine that from the first sip just says Christmas Party is our delightful Macon, a traditional wine with a modern twist that is canapé friendly. A New World take on Pinot Noir, Innocent Bystander’s multi-award winning wine is bound to please, it won’t overwhelm but it has lots of interesting layers of flavour.

Potted shrimps are one of my favourite canapés or starters and like the sausage roll above can be made in advance, and these will improve with a few days in the fridge. The yummy buttery mixture can be served in lots of ways but spread on a crisp little toast – delicious!

Christmas Day

So to the main event, and we all have different routines on Christmas Day but sooner or later most of us open up the Champagne and this gold-medal winning Devaux Champagne is hard to beat. It is rich enough to go with smoked salmon or other flavoursome nibbles and has a really appealing buttery, yeasty richness along with soft red fruit flavours. This is way better than many of the famous label Champagnes.  

New Year

So after a few days recovery it’s time for more fizz and it may be that you have a whole evening of fizz planned or you just want something special to toast the New Year.

If it’s going to be fizz all the way then our organic Prosecco will leave you surprisingly unscathed the next day – it’s a pure wine and just doesn’t have lots of the additions that mass-produced Prosecco and other fizzes can be laden with and it’s moderate alcohol at 11% is nice and gentle too.

To toast the New Year ring the changes with something a bit different our English Sparkling wine of choice – Tickerage Classic Cuvee, is tip-top-quality, really hand-made with great care and as sophisticated as any Champagne. Surprise your guests and start your 2015 wine drinking in a patriotic vein!

 

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Christmas entertaining recipes – canapés and tasty mouthfulls

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Here is a collection of full-proof Christmas entertaining recipes supplied by Tiffany Farish, entertainer extraordinaire, they will add some style to your festive offerings. They are straightforward to prepare and most work can be done ahead of time. 

Are you the sole member of staff in your Christmas Catering Department? Don’t panic….

Keeping calm and carrying on is an admirable aim, but the truth is that a Zen Like State of Entertaining Nirvana can only be achieved by doing a substantial amount of forward planning. This is not the time to wing it. So buy the sticky tape, stock up on extra bin bags and washing up liquid now, stash some essentials in the freezer that will make life easy when people drop around unexpectedly and, most crucially, order the wine. Consider making things that though special are well behaved, uncomplicated and unlikely to raise your blood pressure. And hope that your visiting relatives will be just as amenable…

 

Potted Shrimps For 12

I make a vat of these to have in the fridge over Christmas, as they are always useful as a light meal or snack. I pot these in a 500g Kilner jar but they can be set in ramekins in individual portions. They are lovely served with toast and a small clutch of caper berries.

200g unsalted butter

4 blades mace

A very good pinch of cayenne pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

2 pints peeled brown prawns

Small bunch finely chopped chives

Zest of one unwaxed lemon

Melt the butter, mace, cayenne pepper and nutmeg in a wide based pan on a very gentle heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the prawns and swish around until they have absorbed as much of the spiced butter as possible without actually cooking. Remove the mace, grate over the zest and stir in the chives. The chives only make a subtle difference to the flavour but the colour is much prettier once they have been added. Pot in your chosen vessel(s). If you poke the prawns underneath the surface there is no need to add clarified butter to seal. Leave to set in the fridge. I like to leave them for about 3 days for the flavours to develop before eating.

 

Sausage Rolls

There are many good canapé shortcuts but I am afraid that factory-made sausage rolls are not one of them. These homemade ones are worth the small amount of effort that they take.

 

Preheat the oven to 190.

 

Thinly roll out 250g puff pastry (ready made, but all butter) on a lightly floured surface to the size of a sheet of A4 paper. Cut the pastry in two lengthways. Divide 250g sausage meat in two, roll into long thin cylinders, and place down the centre of each piece of pastry. Blend together 1 tsp Dijon and 1 tsp grain and 1 tsp of Honeycup mustard and, using a knife, smear this down the length of sausage meat.

 

Whisk together 1 egg yolk and 1 dessert spoonful of milk. Paint one long edge of each piece of pastry with the egg wash. Fold the unpainted edge over the sausage meat and press the edges together. Lay the rolls on a baking sheet, sealed side down. Score the top with diagonal slits about 1cm apart, and brush with the remaining egg wash.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Leave to cool for 15 minutes then cut on the diagonal into 1 inch thick slices and serve warm.  You can make them in advance (do not cut them though as they will dry out) and reheat them for 10 minutes at 160.

Pate

Unlike sausage rolls, there are some delicious shop bought pate options. You can accessorise your purchase with a good sourdough, some Pain Poilane or a brioche loaf and a fig chutney or Sauternes jelly.

Onions wrapped in Prosciutto…24 nibbles or between 8 and 12 as a starter

This is a deeply savoury dish, based on one by Mark Hix, which works well as a starter or as an appetizer to serve with drinks. The shallots can be prepared days in advance but remember to bring back to room temperature before serving.

12 large shallots, peeled and halved through the core

4 dsps of olive oil

A handful of thyme leaves

A tsp of brown sugar

2 dsps good quality balsamic vinegar

24 slices of Prosciutto

Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese

In a wide based pan gently warm the olive oil before adding the shallots. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes before adding the thyme and sugar and a splash of water. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and, stirring occasionally, cook for 30 minutes until the shallots are soft and slightly caramelized. Stir in the vinegar and cook for a minute or so before turning off the heat and allowing to cool. Season with salt and pepper, bearing in mind that both the ham and the cheese will provide a good hit of salt.

If serving as a nibble, place a shallot half on a piece of ham and shave over some Parmesan or Pecorino and carefully roll up into a neat parcel. If plating to serve as a starter warm the shallots through, divide between the plates, shave over the cheese then lay the Prosciutto over the top.

 

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Party Season Wines

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IMG_1051resized-300x450The wines on this list offer great value and have been selected for their all-round appeal. It is only a small selection of the wines that we can source so if there is a particular wine you would like then please let us know. Click on the heading of the wine you are interested in to be taken to our store and place an order.

Sparkling Wines

Prosecco La Jara, Frizzante, Veneto, Italy, Organic, £11.50
Grapes: Glera; Alcohol: 11.5%; Organic; Crown Cap

Voted Prosecco of the year in the Weekend Mail, this is a classic and classy aperitif and a big step up from supermarket Proseccos. This is what Matthew Jukes had to say about it in The Independent  “This is my favourite Prosecco and it’s organically grown. The bubbles are not too aggressive and the fruit notes are tender, sensual and immensely classy. It’s a far cry from supermarket dross. This is a sensational sparkler.”  Sealed with a crown cap and attractively packaged it’s a winner for a party.

Prosecco Spumante Brut, La Jara Organic, Veneto, Italy NV  £13.50
Grapes: Glera; Alcohol: 11.5%; Organic

This fully-sparkling example of Prosecco is pure and bone dry with gentle yet enticing orchard fruit aromas. The palate has a lovely soft, full texture with a touch of peach on the finish and great balance.
Selected by Decanter Magazine as one of the top proseccos, if you are looking for an alternative to champagne, this beautifully presented wine is a great choice.

Pinot Grigio, La Jara Brut Organic, Vento, Italy  £14.50
Grapes: Pinot Grigio; Alcohol 11.5%; Organic

Pinot Grigio grapes are actually pink skinned when nice and ripe – hence the colour here. This brilliantly made wine is a dead-ringer for quality rosé champagne and will put a smile on even the most grumpy guest’s face. It is organic and made by one of the best Prosecco producers, it is surprisingly dry and is a beautiful pale colour with subtle flavours of summer fruits.

White Wines

Cotes de Gascogne, Domaine de Saint Lannes, France 2013 £7.95
Grapes: 80% Colombard, 10% Gros Manseng, 10% Ugni Blanc; Alcohol: 12%

This is a very good estate from a lesser-known area of France, and the grapes used to make this wine are also lesser-known, but the result is a really appealing wine that is an all round pleaser, being neither Sauvignon or Chardonnay. It is dry and refreshingly crisp with citrusy flavours and something slightly more exotic on the nose, perfect party wine.

Verdejo, Bodega Parra Jimenez, Valencia, Spain 2011 £8.75
Grapes: Verdejo; Alcohol: 12.5%; Biodynamic

A lovely fresh, citric wine, it has gorgeous pure flavours and is perfect as an aperitif but it is a great accompaniment to fish. This is an interesting family estate that is one of the biggest organic operations in Spain and they have care and improvement of the environment at their core.

Sauvignon Blanc and Gros Manseng, D. Horgelus, Gascony, 2011 £8.75
Grapes: Sauvignon Blanc 60%, Gros Manseng 40%; Alcohol; 12%

This is a very flavoursome blend – it’s ripe and fruity and will please all Sauvignon Blanc lovers but it has a richer quality that has wide appeal. Great for a party it is a bargain price for wine of this quality.

 Picpoul de Pinet, Dom. La Croix Gratiot, 2012, Languedoc, France £8.95
Grapes: Picpoul; Alcohol 12.5%

Crisp, crisp, crisp – this is a wine with really refreshing acidity and a taste of ozone about it. Picpoul de Pinet is an appellation from the hot and sunny Languedoc but close to the sea. This is a newish winery with a New World feel to it. The classic pairing with Picpoul is oysters (a local speciality) but it is good with lots of simple, non-creamy fish dishes or just a bowl of olives.

Entre deux Mers Blanc, Chateau de Fontenille, France 2012 £10.95
Grapes: 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon, 20% Muscadelle, 20% Sauvignon Gris,
Alcohol: 12.5%

This is a very flavoursome and interesting blend presented in a classic Bordeaux style, the wine was left on it’s lees to give some extra body. This is a great all-rounder of a wine and if you are looking for a handsome dinner wine this fits the bill perfectly.

Macon Villages, Domaine Perraud, Burgundy, France 2010 £12.95
Grapes: Chardonnay, Alcohol: 12.5%

A really elegant wine and a great example of the value that good white Macon can deliver; it is the product of a young winemaker who is striking out to make a name for himself. The wine is rich and mouth filling with lovely ripe fruit flavours but has good acidity to keep it fresh.   Winemaking was kept as natural as possible, with wild yeasts used in the fermentation, the wine was aged on its lees for 6 months and a portion had some oak aging, all of which adds up to a more complex wine.

 

Red Wines

 

Syrah, El Circo, Aragon Spain 2013 £7.40
Grapes: 100% Syrah; Alcohol 13%

This fantastically priced wine comes from old vines grown in pretty harsh conditions – that’s how to get the best out of a grape! With fun packaging and quality wine making this wine is great for parties as it is an all-round pleaser. It is beautifully coloured and vibrant with a lovely perfume of dense black fruits and mulberries.

Organic Corbieres, Gilles Louvet, Languedoc, France 2012 £8.50
Grapes: 40% Syrah 40% Grenache 20% Carignan; Alcohol: 13%; Organic

This wine has a lovely deep red colour with appealing aromas of ripe red fruits and Southern French herbs. It is smooth and elegant and at its best when served with food.

Tempranillo, Bodega Parra Jimenez, Valencia, Spain 2010, £8.95
Grapes: 100% Tempranillo; Alcohol 13%; Biodynamic

An easy drinking ruby red wine with good cherry flavours and a nice bit of savoury depth. It’s food friendly and adaptable.

 Secateurs Red Blend, AA Badenhorst, Swartland, SA, 2013 £11.50
Grapes: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Carignan; Alcohol: 14%; Sustainable viticulture

This is a Rhone style blend, which because of its easy drinking style is an all round pleaser but beneath the easy charm is a more complex heart. Made by Adi Badenhorst in the now very trendy Swartland, the Badenhorst wines have a cult-like following and owe some of their depth and appeal to the very old vines that are dry farmed giving the fruit great intensity.

Soli Pinot Noir, E. Miroglio, Nova Zagura, Bulgaria £11.00
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir; Alcohol 13%

This is great value, great quality Pinot Noir – it compares very favourably to a light-medium bodied Burgundy and is a much more appealing price. The flavours are of ripe cherries and strawberries with a nice bit of spice. (please email)

Malbec Classico, Altos Las Hormigas, Argentina, 2013   £11.50
Grapes: Malbec; Alcohol 14%; Sustainable viticulture

Altos las Hormigas is a Malbec specialist and is counted in the top five Malbec producers in Argentina. This is a fresh and fruity Malbec that has had a brief period of oak treatment to emphasize the spiciness of the Malbec grape. The wine was bottled without fining or filtration making a more interesting, fuller-tasting wine, aromas of ripe red and black fruits mix with chocolate and vanilla. This is a multi-award winning wine of real quality.
Trophy and Gold Medal winner Decanter World Wine Awards 2013


Chateau de Fontenille, Bordeaux Rouge, France 2011 £11.50
Grapes: 65% Merlot; 25% Cabernet Franc; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Alcohol: 14%

This is a classic blend and offers a lovely juicy wine that is great value for a Bordeaux, it has lots of character but is very drinkable. It is a lovely ruby colour, with appealing dark fruit aromas and nice undertone of vanilla oak. It’s smooth enough to have at a drink’s party but is perfect dinner wine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Albarinho or Alvarinho – depending on where you are

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ln Northern Spain, and specifically the Rías Baixas in Galicia, this stylish white grape is Albarinho but across the border in Northern Portugal in the Minho region its Alvarinho. The wines from both areas are similar in style but in the North Portugal the grape plays another part as it is an important component in many Vinho Verde.

lts name actually means ‘white wine from the Rhine’ and its thought to have been brought to Northern Spain by monks from Cluny.

The wines are quite full-bodied and subtly fragrant with delicate aromas reminiscent of peach, lemon, passion fruit, lychee, orange zest, jasmin, orange blossom and lemon balm. The wines are delicious young, but they can also age well, often for ten years or more. Albarinho/Alvarinho are often quite expensive as it is a grape that needs careful handling both in the vineyard and in the winery but when made well it is a wine with lots of class.

 

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Beaujolais

Chateau de Lavernette, Burgundy and Beaujolais

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Meet Our Producers

This really is a family affair with two generations very much involved and a family wine-making heritage at Château de Lavernette going back hundreds of years. The position of this domaine is unique, sitting as it does right on the border of the Bugundy region of Mâcon and the Beaujolais area. This amazing location may go part way to explaining the quality of their Beaujolais Blanc, the first of their wines that we fell in love with. Beaujolais Blanc is a rare thing, it is made in tiny quantities from Chardonnay, the white grape of adjacent Burgundy.

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The labels are based on some very old labels found at the Chateau and emphasise the classic nature of these wines.

Château de Lavernette is an organic vineyard that also adopts lots of biodynamic practices (it is certified both organic and biodynamic), very little is done mechanically, these really are hand-crafted wines. The de Boissieu family bring hundreds of years of local knowledge and daughter-in-law Kerrie (American by birth) brings up-to-the-minute global oenology experience and a highly-attuned palate. Their wines draw on the best traditions and practices of the area but it was clear that they are adventurous and perfectionist in their winemaking and are producing some stunning wines.

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We met Xavier and Kerrie at a recent organic wine fair and it was great to see their passion for these elegant wines.  They invited us to a fun evening where we had the rare opportunity to taste old vintage Beaujolais and it was a revelation.

To try some of these great wines follow these links:

Beaujolais Blanc

Beaujolais Village

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Father’s Day – Gifts Guaranteed to Please

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Here are some suggestions for some gorgeous Father’s Day gifts – there is a sea of naff presents out there but here are our top 5 picks for presents that are guaranteed to please!

M3′ Chardonnay, Shaw+Smith, Adelaide Hills, South Australia, 2012 £23.50

You could say that this is Chardonnay made by men for men! Not really, but there is definitely something masculine about it. Shaw+Smith Make their wines to amazing, exacting standards this wine is pure class and is one for the wine aficionado – the grapes are hand-picked, old and new oak is used and the resulting wine is subtle and complex. This is a wine can be kept but is delicious now. (Great price – £25 in Majestic!)

Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2013, Tuscany, Italy (750ml)  £23.50

This is truly exceptional olive oil – much loved by The River Cafe, Jamie Oliver, Philip Howard and many other chefs. The olives are grown on the fabulous Capezzana estate, they have 26,000 olive trees and this is at the northerly edge of productive olive growing and so yields are low – for every 100kilos of olives grown only 11litres of oil are produced – that’s why you need so many trees!

Vivid bright green in colour, the Capezzana oil is remarkably elegant and delicate. It is soft and fruity in style, with a touch of spice. Perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and for dressing salads.

Sussex Dry Gin, Blackdown Artisan Spirits, Sussex £27.99

This gin was only launched last summer but it has already picked up a prestigious award, winning Gold at the ‘Spirit Business Gin Masters’. The gin is a blend of 11 botanicals including juniper, cinnamon bark, angelica root, liquorice and Sussex silver birch sap. This is a lovely smooth, refined gin with a slight hint of sweetness, and traditional woody aromas, making it very appealing.

Tickerage Classic Cuvée, 2010, Blackboys Vineyard, Sussex £24.95

A delicious artisan English sparkling wine, it’s pale lemon in colour with persistent bubbles, it’s a timeless blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonay and delivers a toasty, floral, fresh wine. Crisp and zingy but nicely balanced with a soft-tostiness, perfect for a June Sunday!

Amarone, Masua di Jago, Recchia, Valploicella, Italy 2010 £24.50

Amarone has become a really popular style of wine – made from semi-dried grapes Amarone packs a mouthful of spicy, sweet, dried fruit – it’s complex and a wine to be savoured. Not for the faint-hearted, with an alcohol level of 16% it’s a big, delicious treat.

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Our pick of English Wines

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It is English Wine Week so lots of vineyards have been laying on special events and there has been lots of bottling and labelling going on to get wine ready for this week – two of the wines we have added to our shop are only released this week. We are looking forward to our involvement with these vineyards over the coming years and spreading the word about the quality of English wine.

English Wine Week

 WE ARE OFFERING 15% OFF ALL ENGLISH WINE ORDERED BEFORE THE END OF JUNE - VISIT OUR SHOP USING THE LINKS BELOW (minimum 6 bottles can be mixed). OR WHY NOT TRY OUR ENGLISH FLAVOURS CASE AT A GREAT PRICE.

English Sparkling wine is becoming big business and the industry now has quite a lot of big players with big budgets, making large volumes of wine. These big players are increasingly looking to the export market – they have premium products at premium prices and need a global market.  (I recently wrote a guest blog for Lover of Creating Flavours, giving a brief overlook of English wine – read it here.)

The big players are, in the main, making great quality wines and are raising the reputation of English wine but our interest in English wine is in the small-scale artisan producer, making something with a definite English feel to it. We have selected three producers, all very different but all making something distinctive and personal.

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The gently rolling vineyards at Biddenden

Ortega from Biddenden Vineyards, Kent – Biddenden is an established vineyard, they have been making wine since the 1960s. The grape varieties planted here are not big name international ones but those bred to withstand our cooler, wetter climate - Ortega, Reichensteiner, Dornfelder amongst them. For me the pick of these is Ortega it makes a slightly exotic tasting wine images(one of it’s ancestors is the exuberant tasting Gerwurztraminer) it is off-dry but has great acidity and a really attractive aroma. At the recent English Wine Tasting this stood out for me as one of the most appealing wines.  The vineyard is open all year and their are free tours and tastings – definitely worth a visit. This Ortega is great with mildly spiced foods, a tasty English cheese or as an aperitif.

Ortega, 2013, Biddenden Vineyards £10.75

 

Silent Pool Rosé from Albury Vineyard, Surrey
This is a new enterprise and very definitely on ladybird2_295x235an artisan scale. Nick Wenham established the vineyard about 5 years ago and it is run organically and increasingly biodynamically - there has been some challenging weather over the last few years and that means a lot of work in the vineyard to keep disease at bay. Alex Valsecchi is the highly experienced vineyard manager and when I visited earlier this week she was strimming weeds throughout the vineyard – a long job, if you use no chemicals keeping on top of the weeds is a battle.

Everything about this vineyard feels positive, it’s a very beautiful spot and Nick has got some of the best people in the business to help and advise, the quality of their first wine, the Silent Pool Rosé reflects all the passion and professionalism. Their first ever bottling of rosé was served on the Royal Barge for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and their latest bottling is being served at the Royal Opera House. The rosé is made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, it’s beautifully crisp with fresh strawberry flavours and aromas, it works well as an aperitif and perfect for a picnic. The vineyard is open from time to time and well worth a visit.

Silent Pool Rose, 2013 £14.95

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A gathering of wine-lovers at Albury Organic vineyard

Tickerage Sparkling Wines from Blackboys Vineyard, East Sussex – here is another artisan undertaking. Anthony Budd has planted just over two hectares in fields surrounding his family home (he spent many months hunting for a house with land where he could realise his vision of a boutique vineyard and winery). This is very much a hands-on enterprise, Anthony does all the vineyard work the winemaking is overseen by Owen Elias, one of the most respected winemakers in the UK. Here is a recent blog post with more details of Blackboys Vineyard.

Blackboys Vineyard

Blackboys Vineyard – nice view from the garden

The motivating ambition is to make top quality sparkling wines using the three classic Champagne grapes and like all English vineyard owners the past few years have presented all kinds of difficulties. At the moment we just have the Classic Cuvée available but more wines including a sparkling rosé will become available.

Tickerage Classic Cuvée, 2010

Pale lemon in colour with persistent bubbles and a well formed foam, this timeless blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonay delivers a toasty, floral, fresh and satisfying nose, with hints of orange rind and pear. The palate is dry and firm with well balanced acidity, a soft mouthfeel with crisp green apple and lime-like acidy with a light dose of toastiness. Fresh and zingy this wine makes an excellent aperitif and is perfect for English summer celebrations.

Tickerage Classic Cuvée, 2010, £24.95

tickerage sparkling wine