English Wine Week with Hush Heath Estates

May 28, 14 English Wine Week with Hush Heath Estates

Posted by in All, England, Food and Wine

English Wine Week has begun and last night I was invited to the new pub, The Bull at the Hyde in the City to a dinner hosted by the Richard Balfour-Lynn, the owner of English vineyard, Hush Heath Estates. This was the first dinner for  the pub’s new tasting club, The Cunning Plan Wine & Spirits Club. Richard first planted vines in 2002 because he had always wanted a vineyard but in Spain or France or Italy. When the opportunity to buy the derelict land near his estate in Kent came up, his wife suggested that instead of going to the Continent, why not plant vines literally in his own backyard. The rest as they say is history. I’ve always liked the Hush Heath rosé and last night was no exception. I really enjoyed the food matches that Chef Kalifa Diakhaby created for the evening. The Balfour Brut rosé 2010 was paired with perfectly roasted scallops with pureed cauliflower. The scallops were delicious, not mushy or rubbery as can happen so often. The rosé is full of fruit but having refreshing acidity and long length. With the main of rabbit terrine, we had the Balfour Blanc de blanc 2010. The rabbit was another delicious dish, perfumed with truffle oil and garnished with sauteed mushrooms. The blanc de blanc that was paired with it comes from a small parcel of chardonnay from the Oast House Meadow and only 100 cases have been made. 2010 was a very good year and the grapes were allowed to hang until late October, which gave grapes with high sugar content and intense flavours. The blanc de blanc was well balanced with definite fruity notes on the palate but a dry, lime finish. The big surprise of the evening was the Jake’s Orchard Sparkling Cider with Strawberries and Blackcurrants. It’s a bottle fermented cider that has a dosage of strawberries and blackcurrants added. Richard commented that this is a “cider made for wine drinkers by wine makers…” It was the...

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Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Apr 19, 12 Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Posted by in England, Food and Wine, Lifestyle

I was invited down to Brighton recently to check out the Brighton and Hove food and wine festival. I’ve been to Brighton a few times and it is relatively easy to get there from London. If you can’t be bothered to do all the legwork yourself you can find Brighton Holidays online. The last time I was there for a winemaker’s dinner at the Hotel du Vin Brighton, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that part of the festival was being held at the hotel and that they would be putting me up for the night there. This isn’t my first time at HdV Brighton, I’ve stayed there in the past and always enjoy walking into the comforting decor of the hotel, alternating between dark and blonde wood, cozy couches and chairs scattered around the main bar and a bustling bistro next to it. From the outside, the building dates back to the 16th-17thth century, complete with timber and whitewalls on certain parts of the hotel.  The interior though has all the mod cons and the suites come with giant bathtubs for a soak after spending the day at the beach, which by the way is literally across the road from the hotel. There’s also a charming courtyard as well as a suntrap of a terrace on the first floor. The hotel was putting on a small wine festival and had local producers and wine shops on hand to show off their wines. There was a large proportion of English wines available, including Ridgeview, Bolney’s and even Plumpton College had their local sparkling on offer. I also tried a fantastic pinot blanc from Stopham Estates. They are located in West Sussex and are the only producers of pinot blanc in the UK. The wine was not at all what I was expecting, not tasting like an English wine. By that I mean it didn’t have the telltale elderflower aromas or flavours nor was it slightly off dry. Bright and chipper, balanced fruit and...

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North 52 Bar & Kitchen… British food and wine in Soho

All things British is what’s hot in London, what with the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and of course, the ever present eat/drink local. There’s a new spot in Soho specializing in modern British food, 52 North Kitchen & Bar on Poland St. where all the ingredients are sourced from Britain, including many of the wines. A big open space, with communal tables and interestingly, wooden roof shingles instead of wallpaper covering the walls and columns. There is a long bar at running from one side of the room to the other and several old Chesterfield leather chairs and sofas in alcoves scattered around the room. There’s also a cozy basement with another bar to hang out in. What drew me into 52 North was the wine list, more specifically, they are one of the only places in Soho that features English wine by the glass, both still and sparkling. They have 5 still wines and 1 sparkling at the moment but are going to be adding more in the future. I’ve been a bit dubious about English still wines but the Biddenden Gribble Bridge ortega as well as their Bacchus were both refreshing, tasty and easy to drink. The menu consists of trad dishes like mushrooms on toast, scotch woodcock, Cornish mussels, English pork chop and Arbroath smokies fish cakes among other choices with prices about the same as many a gastropub around Central London.  I had the mushroooms and mussels which were delicious with the Biddenden Gribble Bridge 2010. The Gribble Bridge had plenty of bright citrus fruit on the nose, full of fruit but dry nonetheless. I found it very easy to drink. The Bacchus was another light wine, a good substitute for pinot grigio it has a bit more substance to it, more flavour then the average pinot grigio. Priced at £25 quid, I thought it might be a bit pricy, but Tony Ho, part of the operating team, told me that the Bacchus and Gribble Bridge have been flying out...

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English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Jan 06, 12 English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Posted by in England, Sparkling Wine, Travel

To be the first outside of the winemakers to try an experimental wine made by a well known Bordelais vigneron (with said winemaker standing right next to me) can be a bit nerve wracking. What if I hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if I’m wrong and everyone else loves it? Well, none of those things happened when I found myself tasting the very first bottle of savagnin, fresh from the barrel. Savagnin is not a grape that I’m familiar with even if it does feature in the vin jaune wines of the Jura region. So, I was delighted and surprised to discover it was the first ever vintage of Sark wine. Yes, Sark as in the “Isle of,” one of the Channel Islands, closer the France then England but British nonetheless. The Sark savagnin was an experimental wine and in reality would only be used in small quantities for the final sparkling wine blend but it was intriguing to try the results of the first harvest of Sark. I was tasting with the Bordelais flying winemaker  and consultant, Alain Reynaud, who has been with the project from the very beginning. The vines were planted barely 18 months ago but a lot of care and planning went into the project before one vine was planted. Alain and soil consultant, David Pernet made many trips to the island to assess the terroir and find the best possible spots. The very first thing Alain did when he visited was to start digging through the first plot of land he was shown with his bare hands to see if the soil was suitable. They spent 6 months analyzing the soil before finally picking what they believe to be the best locations. Luckily, the island is primarily made up of granite and schist with a thin layer of topsoil – perfect to make those vines work hard. I don’t know what time of year Alain visited but I was there a few weeks ago (early Dec) and...

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What a year it’s been! So long 2009, Hello 2010…

I’m not really one to look back, I’m either daydreaming about the future or looking forward to tonight’s wine – more or less the same thing. But I saw one of Niamh’s tweets about her year-end round-up and it got me to reminiscing about my vinous adventures this past  year. The great thing about a blog – I’ve got a record of many of my favourite drinking adventures. Not all of them mind you, because many I just never got around to blogging about but I did manage to put up almost 120 blog posts this year! I would have done more but I was computer-less over the summer after my laptop was stolen in June. This was definitely the year that The Winesleuth embraced video in all it’s gory messiness. Whether the videos made any sense, well, I’ll let you decide but I sure did have a lot of fun making them. I’d like to get a bit more creative in 2010 and maybe even, dare I say it, a bit more professional. My favourites of the year include ones I made with my good friend and fellow wineblogger Wine90 – she just cracks me up. Here we’re reviewing the Balfour Brut Rose…. But Bibendum Dan was another excellent foil, here we are talking about hairy armpit wines… Fun events, as when Catavino came to town and their winetasting at Vinoteca… [viddler id=74e84e69&w=437&h=333] or the Naked Wines Argentine wine auction….. [viddler id=f70e4865&w=437&h=392] and then there’s just amusing and charming winemakers…Etienne Hugel of the Alsatian winemaker Hugel & Fils… [viddler id=9fe1ae3d&w=437&h=392] and Neil McGuigan of the Australian McGuigan Vineyards, to name a few… [viddler id=49575c47&w=437&h=392] And, of course, the vids of my wine reviews, my favourite has to be one I did in S. Carolina while I was on holiday – every time I see it, it reminds me of what a great holiday I had… Of course there was Twitter as well and the Foodies, most especially Eatlikeagirl with whom I did the...

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