Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar and a dry Chenin blanc

Jan 20, 14 Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar and a dry Chenin blanc

Posted by in Food and Wine, France

A few years ago I visited the Barber Farmhouse on a press trip as part of a bigger trip to the West Country. I remember being impressed by the combination of modern technology within the traditions of cheesemaking that had been handed down through the generations. You can read about my visit here. I really enjoyed the 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar when I visited, so when they asked me if they could send me some cheese and make a dish, I was happy to do it. It also probably helps that I’ve recently changed to a wheat-free and sugar-free diet which means good cheese is a staple in my kitchen. They sent me a small recipe book which has some lovely recipes and a few of them are either wheat free or can be modified to be made without wheat.  They also sent me all the ingredients I would need to make a Spinach and Cheese souffle. Seeing as I didn’t want to use flour in my recipes, I decided to make a crustless Spinach and Cheddar cheese quiche instead. The quiche came out brilliantly, the 1833 Vintage cheddar was perfect in the dish, integrated into every mouthful. I’m not normally a big fan of mature cheddar cheese (the 1833 is aged 24 months) but Barber’s has a nutty, long flavour to it and I enjoyed every mouthful. I paired it with a chenin blanc from the Loire Valley, the Ch. de Fesles 2011 La Chapelle Vielles Vignes. What a stunner of a wine – dry but fresh with intense fruity notes of dried grapefruit, tangerine peel, and lemon zest. Rather weighty on the palate but perfectly balanced and delicious, a very good companion for the quiche. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work with the cheddar but happily, it did! I’ve still got half a block of cheese left so I think I might take a crack at the Croque Monsieur made with my home made gluten free foccacia You can...

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Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Apr 03, 13 Oldenburg Vineyards Rhodium 2010

Posted by in Australia

Rhodium sounds like a precious metal and it is, it’s found alongside platinum and 90% of it is in South Africa. It’s also the name of Oldenburg’s newest release. I think we know where they got the inspiration for the name of the wine. It’s always exciting to be at the launch of a new wine and last Thursday at High Timber restaurant, I was present at a dinner with Oldenburg Vineyards owner Adrian Vanderspuy when he poured for us the first vintage of Rhodium, the 2010. But first a bit of background on Oldenburg Vineyards. Oldenburg Vineyards is owned by South African Adrian Vanderspuy. The estate is a boutique winery comprised of 30 hectares and is in the Banghoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Adrian is just starting out on his winery adventure with Oldenburg, having planted the vineyard only a few years ago and he is still finding his feet so to speak, in regards to what works best for the winery. He’s is a big supporter of chenin blanc and rejected the more conventional sauvignon blanc when he was planting his vineyard. He feels that chenin blanc has a strong connection with South Africa and that they should be encouraging it’s growth within their wine industry. As a matter of fact, Oldenburg have been so successful with their chenin that respected winemaker Ken Forrester buys the grapes Oldenburg doesn’t vinify. As for the reds, thankfully, Adrian is not a big fan of pinotage. I’m not either, although having spoken to some producers, they claim that it’s a matter of finding the right terroir for pinotage. Adrian prefers to leave them to it. He believes that South Africa should lead with single variety and Bordeaux based blends. As such, he is focusing on growing cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and syrah. The Rhodium is the result of this desire to produce world class Bordeaux blends from South Africa. We were treated to the soon to be released and first vintage of the Rhodium, the 2010. What is...

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Oldenburg wines at Berry Bros. & Rudd

Aug 16, 12 Oldenburg wines at Berry Bros. & Rudd

Posted by in South Africa

Oldenburg Vineyards in Stellenbosch, S. Africa,  is located in what many consider to the premium wine growing region of the country. The vineyard is in the Banghoek Valley which means “scary corner” due to that fact that it used to the stomping grounds of local leopards. Nowadays they have all but disappeared leaving the valley to the vines. The vineyard was originally a fruit farm founded in the 1950’s which then became a vineyard in the 1960’s. The family sold their grapes to other vineyards until 1993 when Helmut Hohman, the owner died. It wasn’t until 2003 that the vineyard was revitalized by Adrian Vanderspruy, the current proprietor of Oldenburg Vineyards. I had dinner with the winemaker, Simon Thompson, in London not long ago at the wine cellars of Berry Bros & Rudd.  Over dinner, Simon related how a study had been commissioned of the vineyard site and they had found that it was a very unique site with the best soils placed in the middle of a hanging valley. The location having good sunlight but still being in a protected site. We touched on the fact that they practice “bio-viticulture”, it’s a phrase that was coined by a Stellenbosch professor and the the philosophy encapsulates both the principles of organic and biodynamic winemaking. Oldenburg believe that winemakers should “tread lightly on the environment”. In this case, they use as little copper and sulphur as possible in the winemaking process and the softest approach. They think a healthy microbial soil structure is very important in the grape growing process. They also do quite a bit of green harvesting to ensure that only the best grapes get through. Over dinner we had the first public vertical tasting of their chardonnays. Rather oaky in style, Simon believes that the way forward for South African chardonnay is less oak and I tend to agree with him. He’s a big fan of chenin blanc and thinks it could be the third wine of S. Africa. I tried the...

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Short and sustainable (and/or organic/biodynamic) – a little winelist from Tsuru

What I like about Tsuru, besides their katsu curry and sustainability credo is their wine list. Emma, one of the 3 owners of Tsuru, is always tweaking the wine list, looking for wine that not only go along with their Japanese hot food and sushi but also follow their commitment to sustainably sourced ingredients. Recently, they’ve gone completely organic/biodynamic, shortening the list to just 3 reds and 3 whites along with a sparkler to complement the dynamic flavours of Japanese food. Tsuru uses the wines of the importer Caves de Pyrennes, who specialize in organic, biodynamic and sustainable producers. So what did I think of the wines? While not being overly complex (and there might have even been a natural wine in there somewhere), they did make good matches with the food. The sparkler is a Vouvray brut, made from chenin blanc but with bubbles, which while having definite fruity notes on the palate displayed nutty, yeasty aromas. The bubbles were big but not distracting and this was a simple fizzy wine which was very easy to drink. Two of the other whites were French, a still chenin blanc, La Dilletante was full of fruity tropical notes but dry with a lime accented finish. We tried this with the gyoza which was a good match. The 2010 viognier from Reserve de Gassac was my favourite with the tuna sushi, savoury, minerally, and loads of white stone fruit flavours. The third white was a sauvignon blanc from De Martino (Chile), it was typical but nothing special, go for the Gassac if you want a more interesting wine with dinner. Gran Cerdo means Big Pig in Spanish and this fruity tempranillo from Spain is light but not confected, a soft and fruity red wine, it’s really good with pickled ginger. I liked the story behind the wine. Seems the winery owners couldn’t get a loan from the big banks and had to rely on friends and family to start up their winery so in homage to...

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Thai Wine at Bordeaux en Primeur

I know what you’re thinking. You went all the way to Bordeaux for en primeur and you ended up drinking Thai wine?? How did that happen? Believe me, I didn’t even know that any Thai wine was going to be available when I trundled up to Chateau Angelus, a Premier Grand Cru Classe in St.Emilion for a tasting of their en primeur. I had already tried their wine earlier in the day but we decided to stop by the chateau and see what other wines they had on tasting. The en primeur tasting of the 2010 Ch. Angelus as well as it’s second label and other wines from around St. Emilion were sequestered upstairs in a private tasting room overlooking the vines but on the ground floor of the visitor’s centre, as you walked in to the right, they had set up a tasting of wines that Ch. Angelus consults on in various parts of the world. And this is where I encountered two smiley, happy faces as a I walked by. I lived in Thailand for a few months back in my English teacher days and have always found the Thai people to be extremely hospitable. How could I not stop and try the wines? Also, I was intrigued to find a Thai wine in a Premier Grand Cru Classe chateau in the middle of Bordeux. Nikki Lohitnavy, GranMonte winemaker and a Thai sommelier working in California, Tina Tepmsomket, were behind the table happily pouring wine. “Would you like to try the wine”? Tina asked me. There was a selection of 1 rose, 1 white and 2 reds. I inquired about the rose and Nikki told me it was off dry, like a California zinfandel. That did it for me, white it was. The GranMonte 2009 Sole chenin blanc, a blend of 95% chenin blanc and 5% viognier that had been made with wild yeasts. I sniffed the wine, hmmm, floral, white fruits on the nose, then, a sip, swish and spit. Creamy...

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