23 May 2009

A Glass With: Jancis Robinson OBE MW

This weeks 'A Glass with' is with the queen of wine Jancis Robinson. She dues not just advice the Queen on her wine cellar but writes weekly for the FT and other publications. She written the infinite wine encyclopedia The Oxford Companion to Wine. She has joined up with Hugh Johnson in the war of the critics against the wine scorer Robert Parker. She also co-writing the infinite wine Atlas The World Atlas of Wine with Hugh Johnson. Jancis has now taken her knowledge to the net by becoming one of the first to explore what can be done on the web with the excellent jancisrobinson.com a must for any wine lover.

This is what she had to say to GoJ:

Tell us what are you up to?
See www.twitter.com/JancisRobinson!

Why wine?

Because it tastes so delicious – and is quite magical in that it can provide such a wide range of sensations and flavours yet depends on a single fruit.

How did you get involved in the wine world?

Long story. Had a seminal glass of Chambolle Musigny Les Amoureuses 1959. Spent a year in Provence. Got taken on as asst editor of a wine trade magazine to replace the first editor of Decanter. Did the Wine & Spirit Ediucation Trust courses at speed.

Who your wine hero?

Hugh Johnson and Gerald Asher for literacy. Robert Mondavi for openness. Edmund Penning-Rowsell for humility.

How much do you think you can pick up a decent bottle for?

Occasionally less than £5 or $10 but you have to look very hard.

How do you think Internet effects the wine world?

Vastly, mainly by giving consumers much greater power, thereby keeping us writers much more on our toes. No bad thing!

What is your desert island wine?

Madeira because it is refreshing if the desert island is hot, warming if it’s cold, and an open bottle can be eked out over months.

Parish Notice

I am sorry I have not put up a wine review for some time. I have been on a health kick where I stop drinking the sweet, sweet juce of the grape but will be off the wagon soon GoJ readers.


More Wine Darling?

To jump on band wagon here I fought I will highlight what the House of Commons wine cellar and bars are like. When Labour puts up the tax on our wines they have a wine cellar worth just over £800,000 and 500 bottles of spirits worth around £792,00. Decanter said on it web page that “Official figures revealed last year showed that ministers spent £5m of taxpayers' money on wining and dining. More than £100,000 went on maintaining the Whitehall wine cellar”. In the bars in Parliament they can pick up cheep tax free bottle of the best tipple from around the world (on there expenses most likely). This is when they make it that a bottle of wine will cost us more with there tax hikes which will put thousands of jobs in the wine industry at risk.

Enjoy a glass on us Darling!

9 May 2009

A Glass With: Tim Atkin MW

For the first of our 'A Glass With' I happy to say we have Tim Atkin. Tim is one of the top wine writers about with columns in The Observer, Off Licence News, Woman and Home, The World of Fine Wine, The Economist to name just a few. He is co-founder of the excellent The Wine Gang a online wine mag. As well as his writing and the odd TV appearance he chairs and judge one of the biggest and impotent wine tasting in world the International Wine Challenge. This is what he has to say to GoJ:

Tell us what are you up to?I've just about to make some wine for a kit, for a piece I'm writing about ethical drinking for The Observer. This is my first ever wine. I suspect it may be my last...

Why wine? Because it's fascinating. Wine is not just about the liquid - although that can be delicious. It's about geology, climate, politics, economics, sensory perception and, most important of all, people.

How did you get involved in the wine world? I was given a job on Wine & Spirit magazine by Joanna Simon. I knew nothing about wine, but spoke good French having done a degree in modern languages. That was my big break. In those days we were still sticking bits of paper down on layout boards. Computers were in their infancy.

Who your wine hero? I have several. Paul Draper of Ridge, Eben Sadie in South Africa, Paul Pontallier at Chateau Margaux, Peter Lehmann in the Barossa Valley, Sylvain Cathiard in Burgundy, Tim Finn at Neudorf. Basically anyone who cares about great wine.

How much do you think you can pick up a decent bottle for? Depends what you mean by decent. It's getting harder to find anything I'd want to drink under £5, thanks to the chancellor

How do you think Internet effects the wine world? It's a great source of information. It keeps wine writers on their toes. And it allows punters a say . All three things are positive.

What is your desert island wine? 1961 Chateau La Fleur Petrus

6 May 2009

Cook With Wine: Lamb, Leek and Plumb Pie

I have a lovely leek and lamb dish I made for St Davids day I will share with you but it has a wee twist I used plumbs. I cook the dish in a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah wine as it is a plumy wine with a sharp fruit flavors, which dose not just blend with the stock to make a rich mouth watering source but also cut throw the lamb with a suttle bash of the cherry's and tanings.

You will need:

  • 500 grams of diced lamb
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 large leeks sliced in round
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 3 dried plums cut into quarters
  • 500 ml stock
  • 4-5 sprig's of thym
  • A packet of puff pastry
  • 2 1/2 glass Oxford Landing Cabernet Shiraz

How to make:

  • Heat oil in pan.
  • Add onions and cook until soft and see through.
  • Add meat and toss quickly so the meat is a paler colour.
  • Toss all ingredients in pan,
  • add the wine (two 1/2 glasses),
  • add stock and bring to boil .
  • As soon as it starts to boil lower heat to simmer and simmer for 1 hour to 12 1/2 hours until meat is soft,
  • add leeks and plumbs
  • add more stock and wine
  • and cook for a further 15 mins.
  • Heat oven to 225o or gas mark 8.
  • Put stew in a casserole dish
  • roll out pastry to the size of the dish and then place on top of the stew
  • put dish in oven and cook for around 20 minuets until pastry is golden brown.

Serve with a glass of the Oxford Landing Cabernet Shiraz from Majestic for £6.49 and Enjoy!

28 April 2009

English Wine Producers Tasting on St George's Day

I have here a report I wrote on English Wine Week last Thursday. Sorry I have not posted it sooner I have been running around with dinners, cricket, politics etc the last couple of days but here it is:
I have just attended the English wine week preview tasting. It was set to be a good one this year with events all over the country from Cornwall to Yorkshire. Today’s launch is a mouth early as they thought it would be a prohibited to hold it on St George Day, but the English Wine Week itself is from Saturday 23rd till Sunday 31st of May. So if you’re keen on your wine I would say take a couple days off to go up or down to a vineyard. You can even sleep over at some of them, have a good meal and enjoy some exciting wines. You can find out what going on where HERE.
The same week our Celtic brothers in Wales are have their wine week so why not take a break at Ancre Hill Estates, Monmouth where they are launching their first release of a white wine made primary from Seyval Blanc.
Today’s fun was at the Chelsea Football Club, Stanford Bridge. Stalls were set out separated by region. The main table was for the mass wines separated into sections of wine type. I feel today event sums-up English wine as it was a professional operation featuring a mix of slick commercial wine houses mixing in with amateur small wineries. There was still a lot of wine being made with off-dry Germanic grapes. They might be interesting grapes but they are still and I think always will be wines for people in the know.
The pick of the whites for me today where:
The two Wickham's from Hampshire, Special Release Fume 2008, £8.50; could be French.
The other Wickham is there Vintage Selection Dry 2008 for £6.75; it is a simple wine with a lot going on.
Two from Leventhorpe from right at the top of England in Yorkshire, £7; this little powerful dry white has hints of apple and other green fruit it would turn even the syncs of English wine to lovers.
I went over to the nation’s favourite wine in the summer months, Rose. If any country should be able to make a rose it's England, as it is the most popular wine in pubs. We have seen what the new world bland pub rose' do and I was hoping for something new and exciting. I just found that we are making boring bland wines. There was one wine which stood out and gave me hope for our roses:
Lady Geraldine's Blush 2006 from Ickworth, a National Trust estate in Bury St. Edmunds, and well worth a visit during English wine week or in-fact any time if passing. There Lady Geraldine's Blush is 100% Rondo and is a dry rose which is pack with subtle flavours of blackberry, damson and redcurrant's. The flavours come together instead of insulting your pallet with bold, over powering, almost article flavours you might find in other English roses.
Reds have never been the English strong point there is a lot of heavy imbalance wines but I did come across some gems:
There two wines from Welcombe Hills, Stratford. This vine yard on land once owned by Shakespeare’s family is worth a look at. Their experimental Pinot Noir Special Reserve £10.95; don't read to much in the reserve bit, that is just there to make it sound good but do read the special as it is a special as it was aged in 3 oaks it comes out with an extremely pale colour which might put of a traditionalist who will judge a book by it cover (or wine by it colour) but they did not muck around with it, they kept it with a pale red, almost see-through. When you drink the wine it does something most English reds don't do, that is to make you think. There is a lot going on, with cherry flavours and a smoke taste coming off the oaks. Their other wines which are worth a look at is the Pinot Noir, Precoce blend they can boast to be one of two in the country to grow Precoce. This wine has a lovely soft red cherry flavour to it.
Going back to Wickham there is a Special Reserve Red 2006, Pinot Noir, £11.99; is worth a buy and keep back for Christmas 2010 as by then it will be a great well balance wine with its dark cherry and blackberry to make perfect with you Christmas dinner.
Two from Bookers in West Susex, their Pinot Noir, £10.95; is a new world flavoured Pinot Noir. It could have been take off the ship for New Zealand with its red cherry and red plum. The other one is there Dark Havest 2006, £8.95; its packet with light fruits like a fruit salad bar, a great one if you’re not normally a red drinker not to dissimilar to a Italian Primitivo.
England might be on the up with their whites, learning about Rosa and finding out that Pinot Noir should be the grape of choice for UK Reds. But our sparkling is just brilliant. There are so many I could pick.
The Ridge View wines are and have been, as long as I have been tasting them, a first class wine. I have written about them before HERE. There whole range is worth a couple of glasses. I was happy to find out that they are expanding and will be even better place to take the French on at there own game.
There were other big boys present like Chapel Down and the excellent Nyetimber but, I found my self drawn to the new guys, wines which will be household names in 5 years who came with a well presented package. They had pro PR guys running their stalls, I was ready to demise these houses, as Barack Obama once said as “a pig in lipstick” but, I was wrong.
The Balfour Brut Rose is by far UK's best sparkling rose it could almost be Champaign Gosset. A good balance of flavours, redcurrant, strawberry and pears which can all be found on the nose, a perfect wine for the 'season' of Ascot, Wimbledon and Henley. Now don't think this is a small guy making good, this is a slick well organised operation, but who said this is a bad thing if they can make the wine to match their slick PR. It comes from the Richard Balfour-Lynn who is responsible for Hush Heath apple juice, Hotel Du Vin, Malmaison Hotel, Liberty’s of London and other luxury companies. You won’t find this wine in supermarkets just yet as they are starting in indie wine shops around London first, as well as in all their hotels, but in time they will be the sparkling rose of chose for middle England.

22 April 2009

What The Street Thinks

So today we have had the budget and if you been on GoJ in the last 48 you can tell we have gone all out on this but you'll be happy to know as
tomorrow is the beginning of English Wine week we will go all out on English wines.

So a recap of today the Rt. Hon Darling has increaser duty on alcohol to 2% which works out to be 2p on every pound you spend on a drink and combined with last year’s 17% leap in excise duty, will raise duty on alcohol by around 40% by the time of the London Olympics in 2012. It gos into action at midnight to night.

The WSTA; who represents the whole of the wine and spirit supply chain including producers, importers, wholesalers, bottlers, warehouse keepers, logistics specialists, brand owners, licensed retailers and consultants. Have come out with a statement 'In its first ever joint budget submission the major drinks industry trade associations warned a total of 75,000 jobs would be at risk if the plans to increase taxes further went ahead.' WSTA Chief Executive Jeremy Beadles said: “At a time when the Government is offering other industries a helping hand it is extraordinary that it wishes to hurt the drinks industry with further tax increases.'

In light of this I went out to Reading, a town which I would not call middle England but average Briton. I first went to a pub in the leafy suburb of Caversham called The Crown on the Bridge. There I spoke to the landlord. I ask what affect the 2% increase would do to there prices they told me that they expected that it will in fact end up being something like 5% or 10p extra on the pump after the price has filtered throw down from the brewery's.

With rent and now the increase it is a hard time for pub as Caversham has seen 4 pub close in the last couple of mouths. With this increase which will drive costumers to buy drink for home and bypass the pubs and head straight for the High Street bars after overloading on booze at home or force people to stay at home and have a quite drink from the supermarket, it looks like tough time ahead for the pubs.

I went and look at the other end of the market and went of to the middle of Reading financial business district. I went into a empty wine bar and ask what do they think about the 2% duty increase, they told me that they have gone into administration as they can not get people through the door. This once thriving Bar is now on course to close down.

Walking throw the town I stoped by a couple of pub where people where siting enjoying a drink I ask them if the price increase would stop them coming out they told me they would still come out but drink less and leave there local pub and head to a chain pub like Weatherspoons where the drink would be cheaper. They told me they would prefer to stay at there local but they could not afford it and that they would be forced to stay at home when 'on Saturday the cheaper pubs are taken over by youths bing drinking'.

As as Conservative leader David Cameron later said the extra tax on beer would affect "every drinker in every pub" This increase would make £200 million but is it worth it when we are £160 billion in debt? Is it the 200 million worth the 75000 jobs at risk? Is the 200 million worth community pubs closing? Is 200 million worth people to start bing drinking at home to save money? Well Brown and his Darling think so. I guess they have been in a cosmopolitan London government to long and lost touch.

Cost of drink brake down.

Rant over now back to the wine!