At Covent Garden, naturally (wine and otherwise), Spanish red this week

Eatlikeagirl and I have been doing the Covent Garden  Real Food Market now for over a month and having a blast! This week we’ve branched out from Bisol Prosecco, as much as we love it, and gone on to biodynamic wines. Stands to reason since I do run a natural wine bar! Niamh made slow roast shoulder of pork with spiced apple relish served in a homemade blaa  (no, not blah, it’s anything but!) served with rocket  – yummy!! FYI – blaa is a traditional Irish bread from Waterford. My task was to match a wine with the pork, what to match,what to match? I went with the Macatela 2006, a spanish red from Tierra de Castilla. We stock this wine in the bar as one of our house reds and it is a great value at £2.90 a glass. We both managed to grab a sandwich and enjoy this juicy red. The Macatela is a blend of tempranillo, garnacha and a bit of cab sauv. for structure, aged 3 months in American oak to soften it up a bit. Totally organic but not, alas biodynamic, it’s still made with minimal intervention and no chemicals, harvested to the strictest procedures. A lovely deep ruby in colour, fruity nose with hints of red berries and spice. Lovely bit of earthiness and spice on the palate, fresh cherries, a juicy wine with a toasty finish. It went quite well with the pork, a happy combo, a lively wine, racing around my palate, the cherries jumping out of the glass and around my tongue. Too bad I was working the stall but on the otherhand maybe it was a good thing because I could have just spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying this one!   Available at Artisan and Vine Retail: £8 in the A&V shop Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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A biodynamic Cotes du Rhone- Dom. Les Aphillanthes ’06

Now that I work in a natural wine bar, you’d think I’d be posting all the time about natural wines. You’d think. But no. What have I been doing, you’re might be wondering? Spending all my time, now that I work nights, out on the golf course, what else? You can find me there most  afternoons now. It probably doesn’t help that the golf course is a 15 minute walk from my house and they have a driving range. So rather then waxing lyrical about this fantastic biodynamic chablis or this wonderfully complex natural Italian blend, I’ve been working on correcting my slice and chipping away in the rough. I am currently drooling over Haig Point Golf Course (where I’ll be holidaying in a few weeks) and these snappy Nike Ladies golf shoes I saw online the other day. Sad, I know. But enough about golf ( how did I get addicted so fast?) and back to my first passion – wine. We do winetasting in the bar every Wednesday so this week, I opened a “classic” (something we don’t have a lot of in A&V, we go for the more offbeat wines) a Cotes du Rhone from Domaine Les Aphillanthes, Vieilles Vignes 2006. Although it’s from a classic region, the wine is wholly biodynamic and produced by the innovative winemaker, Daniel Boulle. Boulle interestingly enough came to biodynamic practices in the vineyard in a roundabout way, via his son who was successfull treated for eczema with natural medical practices. This in turn encouraged Boulle to turn to biodynamic methods as they had similar philosophies. He is also a proponent of minimal intervention, transporting the wine with gravity, fermenting his wines in concrete vats and bottling without filtration, all of which are meant  to showcase the pure intense flavours of the wine. So how did this “classic” do? 75% grenache, 15% carignan and 10% mouvedre, it was a still fairly youthful in appearance, a bright garnet in the glass,  a nose of  smoky wet wood like...

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Millton Vineyards, pioneering biodynamic NZ wines

The Winesleuth has finally gotten a new job!! Yay!!!  I’m so glad to be moving on and my new job is with the natural  (and local) wine bar, Artisan and Vine. I met Kathryn (first post here) back in February and was so impressed by her enthusiasm and passion (see video here) for natural and local (read English) wines that I started hanging around A&V, even taking a trip with Kathryn to Davenport Vineyards (video here) this past March. And now I’ve joined A&V to be able to work with all those amazing, interesting natural wines.   Trafalgar roundabout from on high So earlier this week, I found myself at the top of New Zealand House on Haymarket, enjoying the views of London – London Eye on one side, Buck House on the other with  Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in between. It really makes you realize how closely packed everything is in London. Now you might be wondering, what the hell was the Winesleuth doing up in the penthouse of NZ House? Why, at a winetasting of course, deciding what new wines to add to the A&V list. They were of course natural and biodynamic wines, this batch from New Zealand with winemaker, James Millton of Millton Vineyards, Gisbourne, NZ, in attendance and hosted by the good folks of Vintage Roots, one of the UK’s leading organic wine specialists. Bio certified James and Annie Millton were one of the pioneers of natural, biodynamic wine production in the Southern Hemisphere, establishing their vineyard on the banks of the Te Arai River near Gisbourne on the North Island of New Zealand. The Millton philosophy is to produce wine traditionally using biodynamic techniques. They adhere to the original biodynmic principles as laid out by Dr Rudolf Stiener in 1924 and all the wines are certified biodynamic and have the “Bio-gro”organic trademark and grower number on the back of the bottle. What does this mean? In a nut shell it encompasses “…growing the grapes without the use of herbicides, insecticides, systemic fungicides or soluble fertilisers. It also...

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“Terroirs” – a natural winebar in Central London

                  I was out Christmas shopping the other day in Central London and what a scrum! Even though it was Monday afternooon, everyone and their grandma was out frantically snapping up the best deals they could get and the shops seemed to be more than happy to accommodate. I hate crowds and got my shopping done as quickly as possible. I have to admit, I did have an ulterior motive. I had heard about a new organic wine bar, Terroirs, that’s opened up just off the Strand and since my bus stop was on the  Strand, well, there really was no reason why I couldn’t pop in for a quick look around. There is a growing movement in Europe to produce “natural” wines. The natural winemakers hail mostly from Italy and France but there are also German winemakers in the mix. Many of the wines come from old vines, wild yeasts are used where possible, the wines are unfiltered, unfined and some are even made without sulphur dioxide. According to the winelist notes, the objective of the bar is… …to present wines that reflect the origins of the place, the  nature of the vintage and the personality of the grower – wines that encapsulate the notion of terroir… I had the chance to grab a few words from Vincent, the very charming Frenchman in charge. In between seatings he told me the philosophy of the bar is focused on the person behind the wine, not all the accompanying PR and rigamaroll that seems to go with modern winemaking. In his words, “wine shouldn’t be a product.” The wine list was quite extensive but I had just popped in for a quick drink and to suss the place out for future visits. I didn’t take many notes but do recall that the prices by the glass were quite reasonable, ranging from £4 to £8. I took a seat at the bar and asked the friendly bartender to pour me something interesting. He chose a...

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