Monday, 30 December 2013

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2010

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2010

Denominazione Di Origine Controllata E Garantita (DOCG)

An Italian red wine. It is rich, ripe, raisiny and full bodied, with very little acid.

This is made from partially dried grapes; Corvina (40-70%), Rondinella (20-40%) and Molinara (5-25%). ‘Amarone’ means “the Great Bitter”, which helped distinguish the wine from the local ‘Recioto’ , which is sweeter.

Unlike wines which exploit the ‘noble rot’, the production of Amarone retains the quality of the grape skin, which contributes much to the tannins, colour and flavour of the wine. The grapes are now allowed to bunch too close together and a flow of air is maintained around them to prevent the onset of moulds etc.

The grapes are harvested in the first two weeks of October. Traditionally, the grapes are allowed to dry on straw mats. The process is called appassimento or rasinate in Italian, which means to dry and shrivel. This concentrates the juices within the grape.

15.5% Prodotto in Italia

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Domaine des Aubuisieres 2012

Domaine des Aubuisieres 2012

Cuvee de Perruches, Bernard Fouquet


As I have got older, I have more fully appreciated the taste and texture of oysters. Oysters are great at this time of year, even though the season seems less appealing, as a time to eat and enjoy these seafood treats. But fresh from the shell (managed without stabbing myself), and just a touch of lemon juice and these Fowey oysters were an outstanding Christmas treat.

Afterwards, a glass of vouvray from Domaine des Aubisieres. Again, something that might seem out of season, a wine that I associate more with summer lunches but the combination was sympathetic and uplifting. That hint of summer freshness and beauty after a night of winter storms and flooding was most welcome.

Label notes:

The Domaine des Aubuisiere's vineyards are planted on the gentle limstone 'tuf' slopes of Vouvray in the heart of the Loire Valley.

Made from 100% Chenin Blance grapes which were specifically selected at full ripeness before being hand harested, this wine was fermented at cool temperatures in the estate's rock-hewn cellars and bottled as early as possible to catch all the freshness of the grape.

A delicious dry white wine with great breadth of flavour, it makes a wonderful aperitif and is a great match for Chinese food, roast quail or even swordfish with capers.

£9.99 from Majestic Wine

Chateau du Cleray 2012 - Haute Culture Sauvion

Chateau du Cleray 2012 - Haute Culture Sauvion

Muscadet Severe et Maine - Sur Lie

On his many trips to France, my father would always return proudly showing (or talking about) the bottles of Muscadet (always 'sur lie') that he had purchased on his trip. He loved drinking this wine, although he normally drank red wine and even though the rest of the family did not share his passion for Muscadet!

For me, both name and the first sip of a Muscadet is very evocative. It brings back fond memories of my father and great memories of many meals of fresh seafood eaten around the coast of Brittany. Moules and Muscadet under the warm Breton sun - refreshingly simple yet somehow elegant.

label notes:

The Chateau du Cleray, in the heart of the Nantes vineyards of the western Loire, is one of the oldest estates of the region. The pride of the Sauvion family, this world famous wine benefits from its unique terroir - sand and clay on granite and schist - and also from the Haute Culture signature. The result is an intensely mineral, full-bodied Muscadet with citrus and apple aromas backed with hints of mint and lime-flower. Served chilled from an ice-bucket, it is delicous as an aperitif and the ideal accompaniment to fish and seafood.

Purchased from Majestic Wine at £9.99

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Minervois 2011 - SYRAH / CARIGNAN

Minervois 2011 - SYRAH / CARIGNAN, Sud de France

Gerard Bertrand

A big french red with a subtle nose. A beautiful colour in the glass. There was a very noticeable fruity aroma that was evocative but I could not place the smell which was frustrating, perhaps damp blackberries picked from the Devon hedgerow. It was very easy to relax with this wine although it was big and powerful.

label description:

"Driven by his passion for the Mediterranean lifestyle, Gerard Bertrand reveals all the unique character of the region's finest wine terroirs. The Minervois is one of the most renowned Appellations in the South of France, characterized by hilly landscapes. 
Deep red colour. Complex notes and blackberries and cocoa. Elegant, round and full bodied with rich aromas of ripe plums and roasted coffee.
Ideal at 18C with grilled red meats and mature cheeses."

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Smoked Gurnard

Smoked Gurnard - a new experience

Nearly forty years ago, fishing with my father and with my grandfather, off Salcombe, we would catch gurnards (when fishing for other more prized species!) and bring home to cook. Very few people bothered to eat gurnards and I remember them as a fish commonly used in the crab pots on the small boats fishing out of Hope Cove, along with conger eels that were often left hanging in the sun before being used in the pots. The conger eels, were a strange and smelly spectacle for the holidaymakers who walked down the slipway at Outer Hope.

Yesterday we were given some locally caught gurnard that had been smoked here in Brixham. We were given three fish, which had been smoked whole (minus head, tail and gutted).

Keen to try this very familiar fish, I stripped off the skin and removed the flesh from the rather unusual bone structure. This was largely successful, although later my portion did have a couple of bones, even though I had been ruthless in trimming the fish!

I enjoyed the fish, which was only very, very lightly smoked (if at all), most of the smoke probably having been absorbed by the thick skin. My beloved was less sure, having been expecting a smokey fish rather than the taste of gurnard cooked in a different way. I enjoyed the moist flesh and very delicate flavour and I'm sure an imaginative chef could do great things with this fish.

Grey Gurnard (Eutrigla gurnardus) is a very strange fish, with front feelers that 'walk' along the bottom looking for food. I think it also omits sounds and grunts underwater (never tested this) and is territorial and referred to as a 'sea robin'.

The price of whole gurnard at the fish merchant (retail) in Brixham this morning was £6.80 per kg.

Thursday, 19 December 2013



Cascino Polsino at Alice Bel Colle in Piedmont, Italy.

My Beloved and I really enjoyed this wine. Heart-warmingly gentle and smooth on a wild and stormy night, with the windows rattling as a winter gale passed quickly by.

It accompanied our wonderful smoked salmon pasta dish, which was rich and powerful. This wine was both an excellent accompaniment to the meal and also a relaxing and leisurely wine afterwards. Thoroughly enjoyable!

Label description:
"Cascina Polsino is an estate extending over about 13 hectares at Alice Bel Colle, a village in an area of rare beauty in Piedmont. Here the conditions are ideal for the vines which have been cultivated for centuries with love and hard work and give us marvellous products in exchange. Among these is Barbera d'Asti Superiore, a wonderful deep red wine, with appealing perfumes and a balanced, elegant flavour. It is the perfect accompaniment to red meat, game and mature cheeses. Decant one hour before serving.

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana

"Everybody serves good wine first and the worse wine when the guests are well wined; but you have kept the best wine till now."

John 2:10 (The New Jersualem Bible)