That's French for my birthday (part 2.) This time up North at Flint Vineyard in Earsham. Owner Ben Witchell took us on his two hour Winemaker's Tour which was bloomin' brilliant. If you want to learn how to make wine then this is as good as it gets on an English vineyard tour (and I've done a few.) Ben shared his story of giving up his day job in order to study Oenology and Viticulture at Plumpton College from where he travelled to Beaujolais to take up his first winemaking post. Hannah his wife has accompanied him on his journey and together they now run this cutting edge vineyard. The tour started at 10am with a welcome glass of Charmat Rose, the best time of the day for your tastebuds apparently. Ben walked and talked with us to the vineyard and then on to the winery, which was followed by a tutored tasting of their Silex Blanc, Bacchus and Pinot Noir. We stayed on for the 15 mile lunch (an additional £19.50) but worth every penny and included plates of Baron Bigod and St Jude cheeses, Marsh Pig charcuterie, Hempnall Village bakery bread and Eastgate Larder medlar jelly; all produced a corks pop away from the vineyard. Oh! ... and the lunch includes another glass of wine.
- the 15 mile lunch
- Charmat Rose welcome
- visit to the shop
- a winemakers tools
- one year old barrels
- lunch menu
That's French for 'my birthday party in France'. Bored with Brexit and looking for some entente cordiale I celebrated my 60th in France. One large Gite hired, fourteen of my bestest invited and several sacks of baguettes gorged. Castillonnes is a 20 minute drive from Bergerac airport and close to Maison Vari in Monbazillac who put on a great wine tasting. I even found a local Chef Marianne to come and cook us a fabulous birthday meal. Why did it all have to end?
- Our daily bread
- Village life
- Dreamy views across the vineyards
- Fields of hazelnut trees
- La Maison Vari
- Vineyards of Montbazillac
It's no secret that I'm a bit of a grape nut and enjoy exploring and attempting to keep up with the ever changing world of wine. So I liked this paperback/pocket sized reference guide to English and Welsh sparkling wine the minute I saw it. In this day and age of Googling and online reviews it's great to see a book covering one of the wine world's most promising developments in the last few years. The rise of English, terroir driven sparkling wines. Travelling around more than 50 vineyards in England and Wales, author Stewart Wilde celebrates the vineyards that produce the best of English sparkling wine, all using the 'traditonal method' (French 'methode champenoise') and all having won awards at regional or national level. In my opion the three most important elements of wine are land, grapes and weather and in this book you will find details of terroir for each vineyard, the grapes grown, tasting notes and an engaging insight into the winemakers and their craft. And that just leaves the urge to go and try a glass or two of some wonderful English fizz myself.
What to do while Mr Suffolk Foodie is busy at the build up for the Goodwood Revival and I'm left home alone in the cottage rental? Ah ha! Tinwood Estate is on the door step so off I set with my good friend Jeannie who's in the 'Can't Paint Won't Paint' Club with me. We took along Scrappy, over from Barbuda and keen to see all that our green and pleasant land has to offer. Tinwood grows the three main Champagne grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meuniere. The soil is chalky and the climate perfect for making the Champagne style wine. I wish English Sparkling could have a more romantic and appealing name as it's not allowed to be called Champagne. How about Britagne? I believe there is a campaign to call English Sparkling wine plain and simple British Fizz. Maybe this could be part of the Brexit deal. Anyway, we had a walk through the very straight lines of vines, planted by Germans we were told, as they are better at straight lines. Then back to very stylish decked area for a quick tutored tasting of the three wines which are made for the estate at nearby Ridgeview winery. First we tried the Blanc de Blanc 2015, made with 100% Chardonnay, pale and refreshing and rather appley. Then on to the Brut made with 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. Very refined with a fine stream of tiny bubbles and a hint of toast, this was our favourite of the lot. We finished with the Tinwood Rose, 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, forest fruity and a bit of a quaffer. Tours run everyday and it's well worth ordering the cheese platter when you book online. You can even stay the night!
- view from the deck
- pinot meuniere grapes
- chardonnay grapes
- straight lines of vines
- Inside space for the cooler weather
- Outside in the sunshine
My perfect kind of Autumn activity ... afternoon tea followed by a tour and walk in an English vineyard; then a wine tasting. What an entertaining afternoon Jed our guide at Chilford Hall Vineyard provided. We learnt how to grow and prune grapes, pick them, make them into wine and all about different styles of English wine and grape varieties. The tasting at the end included 5 wines. A thoroughly interesting and fun afternoon and how lucky for us to have a perfect, sunny late October day.
If you enjoy a glass of wine and want to learn more about the fascinating subject whilst enjoying a sip or two then try a Laithwaite's Wine Evening. I was excited to be invited to the Ipswich event last week and to hear that there were going to be 36 wines to taste. 11 tables showcased a range of wines from the across the world and the evening proved to be a fun and really good entry level wine tasting, with helpful notes on how to taste wine and even some producers and wine buyers to chat to. My highlight of the night was chatting to Christine Weingut, Laithwaite's German wine buyer. Obviously passionate about her job, each wine on her German and Austrian table had an interesting story behind it. So I came away with an order for Moselgold Riesling aus Steillagen Trocken 2012 from the steep, slate slopes of the Mosel and produced by a chap called Achim. Achim follows the family tradition started by his grandparents of creating the wine entirely himself from the grape to the bottle, in his garage.
- ready at the bar
- the different types of rum
- how to make a rum punch
- which is better?
- the judging...
- the winner!
The perfect thing to do on a hot Saturday afternoon - book a rum tasting at Cottons in Camden. We went for a birthday treat and tasted six rums and two cocktails from all over the Caribbean. With their Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell away in Cuba we had the session with Andre, his nephew, who soon had us behind the bar mixing the cocktails. It was one of the best £25 I've ever spent, we left in a VERY good mood!
On Friday last week I so enjoyed the Thos Peatlings Christmas Wine tasting. Over 70 wines to taste, a lighter purse and some cracking wines wending their way to the suffolkfoodie HQ for Christmas.
Two days later I was invited to an informal tasting and dinner at Pea Porridge. Ian Steel from For the Love of Wine ( he was also at Peatlings, hidden in his favourite corner of the cellar) brought a vast selection of Italian wines to taste. Pictured is Rosso Passo 2010, Lenotti, which he also showed at Peatlings. We slurped, tasted and enjoyed a fabulous dinner. Neil Courtier from Grapesense also joined the party. We talked wine and food, ate too much and shared each others knowledge. If you would like to learn more about wine then take a look at Neils website. He has some brilliant courses.