Champagne weekend in Reims, or should I say Ranze?!

Reims in the Champagne region of France is a great base for exploring the region’s plethora of Champagne Houses.  How to pronounce Reims was a hot topic of discussion during the weekend, ‘Ranze’ is how it should sound and we all gave it a go with some success!  An impressive light show projected on to walls of the town’s Cathedral is well worth seeing too, with an obligatory glass of Champagne in hand of course… Continue reading

Hidden Treasures Italian Wine Tasting

The 18th century cellar of the Old Ship Hotel was the venue for a unique Italian wine tasting with wines and information supplied by local wine expert Karl Elwood from Elwood wines, in aid of Friends of Brighton & Hove hospitals. The cellar is a hidden gem of a venue, intimate and atmospheric and ideal for a private dining party. Southern Italian wines are not historically made for the UK market so hidden treasures was the theme of the evening…
italian
Seated around a long table adorned with white linen table cloths and candelabras we started with a fresh and zesty Carta d’Oro Catarrato 2012 from home to Marsala wine, Cantine Rallo in Sicily, made in a typical modern winery. Organic grapes with no new oak, but spending spend some time in old oak barrels giving it a crisp taste of almonds, a steal at £9.95.

Second up was a love wine grape favourite Fiano, from Masseria Altemura in beautiful Puglia, a region known better for its red wines. ‘Fiano Salemto’ to give its full name, is a notoriously tricky grape to grow according to Karl, again with no new oak it went down rather well with the plentiful canapés being served, including mozzarella & tomato.

The first red Ill Principie Nero d’Avola from the same vintage and producer as the first wine, had been double decanted – getting some air in to a wine improves the flavour, also at £9.95 making it overall very gluggable! Karl suggested opening 2 identical bottles of the same red and decanting one to see the difference.

Another 2009 Nero d’Avola from Nerojbleu, Gulfi in Sicily spends 24 months in oak giving it sweet tannins that would go well with game meats. Red wines can handle more oak than white and this one really stood out – £17.50.

Wine number 5 was a Salento Rosso Valle Cupa 2007 from Apollonio in Puglia, the best region for reds, with port like qualities at 15% abv. A delicious blend of Primitivo and Negroamaro , this was my particular favourite at £16.50.

The final wine was another 2007 red from Apollonio, Puglia but 100% Salento Primitivo. The Primitivo grape is known as Zinfandel in America with the best from California. £21.59 and 15% abv this gave hints of coconut and was deliciously smooth.

Karl’s next tasting is the Elwood Christmas tasting on Thursday 28th November at The Old Ship Hotel’s relaxed and comfortable Fecamp Lounge, £15 per person including a light buffet supper. www.elwoodwines.co.uk/christmasWe are going and hope to see you there!

Italian Wine Tasting in 18th Century Cellar of the Old Ship Hotel Brighton

Elwood Wines & Love Wine are hosting an exclusive evening of Italian wine tasting in the 18th Century cellar of the Old Ship Hotel, Kings Road Brighton on Monday 9th September…

Tickets are £35 (early bird offer £30) with all proceeeds to Friends of Brighton Hospitals e-mail hospitalfriends@lineone.net to secure your ticket.

We will be tasting 6 specially selected Italian wines with a range of delicious canapes. Karl Elwood will be taking us through the tasting from independent wine merchant Elwood Wines, boasts over 20 years experience in the wine trade and who’s aim is ‘to be the link between the vineyard and your glass.’ Karl’s stance is that good quality doesn’t have to cost a fortune, ‘We provide an alternative to mass-produced supermarket wines, sourcing great value wine from independent growers based around the world.’

Wine Tasting at The Old ShipThe Old Ship Hotel is the oldest hotel in Brighton dating back to 1559 with grade ll listed extensive cellars which we have exclusive use of.  Old Ship, 31-38 Kings Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1NR

Friends of Brighton and Hove Hospitals have been working for over 60 years to raise funds for local hospitals and healthcare services in Brighton & Hove and Newhaven.  Their aim is to make a visit to our local hospital as pleasant as humanly possible, and better than anywhere else. They are devoted to raising money, not otherwise available, to benefit patients. We provide additional money where it is most needed, for example, for innovative equipment or to enhance elderly care.

Tickets are £35 (early bird offer £30) with all proceeeds to Friends of Brighton Hospitals e-mail hospitalfriends@lineone.net for more details.

 

Sun set to Shine at Glynde Food & English Wine Festival this weekend!

Glynde Food and English Wine Festival is taking place this Saturday and Sunday – we are going on Sunday and would love to see you there! Now in its 7th year the English Wine festival is a firm favourite in our calendar and we can’t think of a better way to spend a glorious sunny day.

English Wine with Peter Hall from Breaky Bottom

English Wine with Peter Hall from Breaky Bottom

Along with the chance to sample and buy from the best English wine producers in one place, there are delicious food stalls, Sipsmith bar, Chef Stage with free cooking demonstrations, tutored wine tasting and children’s activities.  English wine has been growing immensely in popularity and winning more and more awards – Glynde Festival is a celebration of all of this with the chance to taste the best English wines and meet local Sussex producers.  If you’re there on Sunday look out for us and please come and say hello.

Tickets are £10 available from www.glyndefoodfestival.co.uk

 

Sussex Sparkling Wine Round Up

Wine making in the UK has increased in popularity since the climate and conditions have great potential for grape growing.  Sussex Sparkling wine in particular is becoming internationally famous. A similar soil and climate to Champagne is helping local vineyards produce award-winning sparkling wine right here in the Sussex Downs. Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region in France, but these Sussex Sparkling wines are made in the same traditional method and are gaining international recognition and acclaim.

Here’s a round up of some of our best Sussex Sparkling wines around, plus a few tips for tasting any sparkling wine…

When looking for a good quality sparkling wine it’s all about the ‘mousse’ (bubbles), the smaller the bubble usually means the better the quality. Another factor is if a wine has a vintage (year) it is generally considered to have been good harvest, although non-vintage wines are made to a consistent quality and can be equally as good. Overall, taste in wine is incredibly personal so the best advice is to taste as much as possible to find out what you like!

Breaky Bottom Winery

Nestled in a fold of the South Downs, 5 miles east of Lewes lies Breaky Bottom Winery, where wine maker Peter Hall first planted his vines in 1974. Since then he has produced award winning Sparkling Brut made in the same traditional ‘method champenoise’ as Champagne, meaning the wine is fermented in the bottle. Peter’s Seyval Blanc grapes have similar qualities to those grown in the Loire Valley which give his wine a good balance of acidity, and a light biscuity flavour.

The Cuvee tastes great on its own, or try it with seafood or sushi.

Creme de Cassis is also produced at Breaky Bottom using home-grown blackcurrants. It is a delicious liqueur which can be used to make Kir Royale’s, poured over ice cream and in puddings, or even drunk on its own.

You can buy Breaky Bottom Sparkling Brut in Waitrose (from stores within a 30 mile radius of the vineyard) for £19.99, Cassis is priced at £8.00. However the best way to buy this wine is to pay a visit and stock up. In Oz Clarke’s words, ‘There’s no more beautiful vineyard than Breaky Bottom’ www.breakybottom.co.uk

Sussex Sparkling Wine - Breaky Bottom Vines

Sussex Sparkling Wine – Breaky Bottom Vines

Ridgeview Wine Estate

The Ridgeview Estate located in Ditchling Common has won an impressive array of awards for their sparkling wine varieties. They cite the combination of local chalk and clay bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Champagne region. Wines are made with the classic Champagne grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier. There are 8 RidgeView varieties to sample including their Merret Bloomsbury Brut, which features flavours of brioche and is made with 64% Chardonnay grapes. It can be drunk now or aged for a few years to allow the flavour to develop fully.

Ridgeview wines are available at local stockists and to order online, for more details go to www.ridgeview.co.uk . Prices start at £19.95 for a bottle of Bloomsbury.

Nyetimber Limited

Nyetimber is the largest vineyard in the UK growing grapes on land covering an impressive 438 acres over in West Chiltington, West Sussex. Their Sussex Sparkling wine has consistently won major international wine competitions, chalking up no less than 65 awards and trophies since the vines were originally planted in 1988.

Their aim was to make a sparkling wine to rival Champagne and they believe they have realised their goal; their 2003 Classic Cuvee was recently crowned ‘Champion of Worldwide Sparkling Wines’ competing against the likes of Bollinger, Louise Roederer and Pommery. Nyetimber’s Cuvee sells for a quaffable price tag of £25.

Boasting nuances of creamy vanilla, toast and roasted nuts their Blanc de Blanc ‘white of whites’ sparkling wine is made purely from Chardonnay grapes and goes especially well with fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel and chicken dishes.

Both wines are available from all good stockists and Waitrose for £25 per bottle. For a full list visit www.nyetimber.com

Bolney Wine Estate

Bolney Vineyard, ‘the vineyard by the sea’ have produced white, rosé and red sparkling wines, all in the traditional method near the Village of Bolney since as far back as 1972.

Their 2008 vintage Antares sparkling red wine tastes of summer fruits with aromas of cherries and blueberries, it goes down well at barbecues, and with cheese and strawberries.

Featuring creamy, bready aromas and hints of elderflower fruitness, ‘Bolney Bubbly White Sparkling Wine’ starts at just £17.50 a bottle with cases of 6 for under £100. This is a real bargain compared to the equivalent price for the same quality of Champagne. It can be served as an aperitif prior to a meal to cleanse the palate or goes with just about anything!

Bolney also offer Blanc de Blanc and rosé varieties which also come highly commended. Look out for Bolney’s wines in selected Co-op stores, Middle Farm near Firle and Hotel du Vin in Brighton. Or see www.bookersvineyard.co.uk for a full list of stockists and to buy online.

We’d love to hear your views on any Sussex Sparkling Wines you’ve tried?

Spanish Wine Tasting featuring a 1996 Raimat Abadia (nice if you can get it!)

One of the contributions for our Spanish wine tasting was a Raimat Abadia (Costero del Segre) Cab Sauv / Tempranillo 1996. Generously proffered by Laura, who parted with the last bottle she had been saving in her cellar for such an occasion. It was undoubtedly the favourite wine of the night but sadly she has no idea if it is available anywhere in this country. Other wines included in the tasting were a Garnacha Rose from Naked wines, a white Rioja, Verdejo, Albarino, Tempranillo and of course, surely one of Spain’s most famous exports – our beloved cheap alternative to Champagne – Cava! An interesteing discussion arose as to whether Cava grapes can stand up on their own: Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.

As a wildcard, someone had brought along a bottle of Vina Sol (100% Parellada) which went down better than the white rioja; was identified in one by Sam who said the “green apple” gave it away instantly. We will need to get together again to put Macabeo and Xarello to the test but as it happens, Rebecca and I have tasted a blend of the 3 grapes without bubbles and the verdict was that they do not add up to a wine we will be adding to our favourites.

The verdict of the night as a whole – fantastic food thanks to Roy who whipped up 16 different tapas in little over two hours – the wines however were perhaps a little on the disappointing side apart from the Raimat Abadia wich leads me to believe those Spaniards are keeping the best of their wine for themselves. Trip to Spanish wine country anyone???