Lunch/Launch of Billecart-Salmon Elisabeth Rose 2002

It’s not every year that Billecart-Salmon releases it’s Cuvee Elisabeth Salmon rosé but lucky for us they’ve deemed the 2002 ready to drink now. The Cuvee Elisabeth is named for wife of the founder of the Billecart house, Nicolas Francois. Nicolas has his own prestive cuvee and in 1988, Billecart decided to name their prestige rosé in tribute to the co-founder of the house, Elisabeth Salmon. The 2002 is 50/50 chardonnay/pinot noir blend, coming from Grand Cru vineyards. 7% of the pinot noir used is the still wine used to give the champagne its copper coloured hue. The berries used to make the still wine are hand selected to achieve that beautiful, bright colour that this rosé champagne sports. Colin Palmer, Managing Director of Billecart-Salmon UK, told us over lunch that the rosé is only released when Francois Domi, chief winemaker of Billecart believes it’s ready. For this reason, the cuvee is not released in chronological order which is why not all the vintages are available. Even when they are released, it’s made in such small quantities that they quickly sell out. It’s so special that it’s even packaged in it’s own specially designed box. Billecart had chosen Morton’s Club in Mayfair to kick off the launch and we were treated to a delicious lunch paired with some of their other champagnes before the big reveal. We had the Extra Brut Non-vintage, as an aperitif, of which I made a video with Winebird TV, click here to see the video. It was still delightful and great with the anchovy tapanade served with breadsticks.The Extra Brut is a zero dosage champagne but doesn’t suffer from being overly acidic or tart as the fruit is perfectly balanced. Aromatic and fresh with complex aromas of brioche anad dried fruit, on the palate – biscuit notes and flavourful white fruits, great to drink on its own.  The Billecart-Salmon Blanc de blanc followed, which was great with the crab salad starter. A whole seabass was roasted and presented at the table to...

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The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Aug 20, 12 The Table Cafe menu relaunch and new wine list

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Italy

I went to the relaunch of  The Table Cafe in Southwark the other day.  The main draw for me was the fact that fellow wino, Matt Walls had worked closely with the owner, Shaun Alpine Crabtree to create a wine list that was features wines and grapes that might not normally be found on UK wine lists. The evening was jam packed with the wine-eratti of the blogosphere, thanks to Matt Walls, who was on hand to meet and greet and talk about his new book (Drink Me) as well as the wines that he had chosen for the list. A small, thoughtful list, there were lots of wines that I, as a wine person, wish would get more exposure: for the reds, St. Laurent (Austrian red), Mencia from Bierzo, a reasonably priced and good Nebbiolo (£30), for the whites – Grillo, Verdeca, and Garnaxta blanc. That was just a few examples of the off the beaten track wines to be found. The best thing is the markup is not outrageous, the majority of the wines in the under £30 price range. Table Cafe was also introducing a new menu from Chef Cinzia Ghignoni, lately of Duck Soup in Soho, who wants the kitchen to focus on regional Italian cooking with a special emphasis on the cuisines her home region, Northern Italy. Table Cafe is also a big proponent of sustainability and recently was granted 2 stars by the SRA for their use of  herbs from local allotments and Regent’s Park honey. The menu is divided into small and large plates and they serve Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Brunch on the weekends. Their full menus are here  online. As for us, we had a sampling of the food and wine that evening:  I neglected to take a pic of the first starter which was Baccala mantecato with polenta crisps paired with a Portuguese Adega de Moncao Vinho Verde 2011. Very garlicky but as with all things garlic, so, so good. Loved the polenta crisps,...

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Celebrity Cruises with Vinopolis and Oz Clarke this Autumn

Aug 14, 12 Celebrity Cruises with Vinopolis and Oz Clarke this Autumn

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Portugal, Spain

Earlier this year I was invited to learn more about Celebrity Cruises at Vinopolis and it was a surprising evening for me. Cruise ships have definitely changed from the days of shuffleboard and the blue-rinse brigade, focusing on fine dining and wine as well as having a variety of shipboard activities and themed cruises. Celebrity Cruises is going to be offering wine themed cruises in September, October and November featuring some of the premier European wine regions. The cruises will be stopping in Spain, France and Portugal and will be offering wine seminars and sessions whilst on board. A very special cruise is departing on Oct 13 with Oz Clark and resident wine expert of Vinopolis, Tom Forrest on board to lead the wine masterclasses. Departing directly from Southampton the programme includes on board activities and expert led-sessions, such as introductions to wine tasting, meet and greet sessions and wine masterclasses from the key regions visited. The cruise will be calling at Paris (Le Havre, France), Bordeaux (Le Verdon, France), Bilbao (Spain), Vigo (Spain) and Porto (Portugal) and  is only available if booked directly with Celebrity Cruises on 0844 481 7682. The Winesleuth is going to be on this cruise as well so you can be sure to follow my adventures here, both at sea and ashore. In the meantime, here is a small taste of what to expect from Tom Forrest, who will be be conducting wine seminars along with Oz Clarke. Here, Tom is talking about a few of the wines and the regions they come from… *pics and video courtesy of Celebrity Cruises Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Win a pair of tix to Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House

Film4 Summer Screen is returning to Somerset House from 16th to 27th August, and The Wine Sleuth has teamed up with the official wine sponsor of this year’s events, Bordeaux Wines, to offer a pair of tickets to one of the sold out performances – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (PG) on Sunday 26th August. All tickets are completely sold out so this is your chance to win tix. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets for the performance, all you need to do is answer the following question: Q: Bordeaux is the home of grapes renowned the world over. Name one of the three most widely used grape varieties in Bordeaux blends. Tip – there is a hint here TO enter: leave the answer in the comment section at the bottom of this post. Our lucky winner will be able to enjoy Steven Spielberg’s wild, whip-cracking sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The man in the hat is back when Harrison Ford returns as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The action comes thicker and faster second time around, as Indy’s search for a mystical stone leads him to a dangerous subterranean world and pits him against a sinister religious cult. Each evening a film will be shown on the giant screen with full surround sound under the stars. The series will offer visitors an exciting and eclectic line-up of classic, cult and contemporary films, enjoyed with Bordeaux wine by the glass or bottle. Alongside the films will be an accompanying programme of insider talks and special events as part of Behind the Screen, and ticket holders are invited to arrive early and listen to a line- up of London DJs. The official wine sponsor of this year’s events, Bordeaux Wine, from the South West of France has produced red, white and rosé wines for centuries. Bordeaux wines will be on sale at the Courtyard Bar and the CIVB will also be sampling wines...

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Roses of Bordeaux on board in the Bay of Archachon

Jul 31, 12 Roses of Bordeaux on board in the Bay of Archachon

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

Rosé is still fighting an up hill battle. Despite the variety of styles available, most people either associate it with sickly sweet Blossom Hill or the light, pale rosés of Provence. There are however, wines that fall into the middle and that is where you can find the rosés of Bordeaux. Deeper in colour but still bursting with fruit, they are dry with balanced acidity and some even have a hint of tannin to them. As part of my trip to the Fete le Vin with the CIVB, we got to spend one sunny day on the Bay of Archachon, which is less than an hour’s drive away from the centre of Bordeaux, sailing, eating and drinking those lovely wines. Archachon is the beach playground of Bordeaux and it has a long promenade of cafes facing a wide beach of tan coloured sand. We arrived at around 10am as people were setting up beach football pitches and sun umbrellas. Arcachon is also famous for its oysters and we got to sample them once we were on the boat. A few winemakers were also along for the ride (and they just happened to bring along some white Bordeaux) along with the rosés. White Bordeaux is probably just as misunderstood as Bordeaux rosés. If people know about it, they think of the sweet white wines of the region but dry whites are also made from the sauvignon blanc and semillon grapes that are predominately grown in the region, along with a bit of muscadelle and ugni blanc. The Bordelais seem to be focusing on sauvignon blanc and I do like the wines, they have body and weight to them with lemon and grapefruit aromas and flavours. The rosés made an appearance and were very welcome as we were boating along. A cavalcade of seafood joined the roseés and we had literally buckets of langoustines, crabs, oysters, snails, all on ice and just waiting to be cracked open. We had to shuck the oysters ourselves but it’s...

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Bordeaux’s Fete Le Vin 2012

Jul 26, 12 Bordeaux’s Fete Le Vin 2012

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Travel

So it seems we might actually be getting a summer in London, albeit, 2 months tardy! Happily, I was invited  by the CIVB to Bordeaux in late June for the Fete le Vin, a bi-annual event held on the quays of Bordeaux City which features affordable Bordeaux for everyday, where they are having a proper summer. The Fete le Vin runs for almost a week but there is plenty to do in and around the city. The first day we went on a city walk,which was great fun. The city is quite ancient and the Medieval section of town, which is very close to the river holds many fascinating nooks, crannies and alleyways with a plethora of cafes, restaurants and bars. I could have spent the day hopping from one cafe to another! The historic part of the city itself was declared an UNESCO site in the 1990’s and the limestone buildings have recently been completely cleaned so the city is nice and bright! The city is one of Europe’s biggest 18th century architectural urban areas. You can almost imagine  horse drawn carriages through the streets until one of the super modern electric trams goes gliding by. The wines of Bordeaux are often perceived as being out of reach of most people but in reality, the Petrus’ and Cheval Blancs make up only a tiny percentage of the production of the region. The majority of the wines are made for consumption within a few years. The Fete likes to also emphasize that wine should be paired with food and this year they hooked up with Hong Kong to showcase how Chinese cuisine and French wines can go together. I loved wandering along the quay and stopping at the various stands with my glass in hand,sampling the multitude of wines and styles. The event featured just about all the wines of the region other then the top crus. Red, white, sweet, sparkling they were all represented along with various delicacies of the region and plenty...

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