Road trip to Davenport Vineyard (and video)

What better way to spend a lovely early spring day ( and my birthday) then a day out in the English countryside, visiting an English vineyard. No sniggers, please. England has been making wines since Roman times but only as recently as the 90’s have the English really gotten serious about producing quality wines. Whether it has to do with global warming or not, some are now winning major wine awards. Thanks to Nytimber, Denbies, Camel Valley and Hush Heath (which I’ve written about previously) to name a few, England is quickly gaining a  reputation in the wine world for producing quality sparkling wines (and still wines are coming up), having won a number of international wine  accolades and awards. I visited Davenport Vineyards in Rotherfield, East Sussex with Kathryn O’Mara from Artisan & Vine. She’s keen on sourcing as many natural and local wines as possible for her winebar so we were down to try the local stuff. Once there, we discovered that Davenport is also a natural, organic farm – bonus! We were greeted by a friendly black labrador, Nelson, and after picking out way through the hodge-podge of building materials laying about – they are currently renovating their 14th century barn, we found Will Davenport in his lab testing his latest wines for sulfur content. Will is the owner and winemaker of Davenport and originally planted his vines in 1991. Currently there are 12 acres under vine and the vineyard has been managed organically since 2000 under certification by the UK Soil Association. Will tries to use as little intervention as possible – natural yeasts, no fining or filtering, no pesticides, fungicides and he uses organic winemaking practices. Will aims to make wines that showcase the soil and the fruit of his wines, not his wine manipulating skills. We had the opportunity to try the Limney Estate, ’07 Horsmunden Dry White, the Limney Estate ’05 sparkling and the Duchy of Cornwall Sparkling, which Will makes for the Prince’s Trust. Check out the video to see...

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A little bit of Portugal comes to London

One of the best things about my job is that I have the luxury of taking time off to attend all the fantastic trade wine tasting events in London. Wines of …Austria, Italy, Tuscany, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, just to name a few of the events this past month. I went to the Annual tasting of Portuguese wines sponsored by Viniportugal, week before last, at Lord’s Cricket Ground in north London. One of the very first events I blogged about was the annual tasting last year so it was with great anticipation that I traipsed up to St. John’s Wood. Viniportugal’s mission is to bring their delectable wines to the masses and they did a pretty good job of showcasing the best that Portugal has to offer. Oh sure, there were the usual Ports and big reds but there were also plenty of new and exciting wines around. I wish that I’d had time to sample the Ports, there was some serious vintages laying around, 1969 Madeira, vintage Ports from the 80’s as well as 20 and 30 year old Tawneys but I resisted because I knew if I started on the ports, I’d be a goner by dinner. I wandered around the hall with Rob from wineconversation.com. He was into trying all the whites so I went along with him. Some of the standouts were made from the Arinto varietal, a grape that is indigenous to Portugal and gives up wines that are fresh and crisp but with a nice heft to them and lovely green apple/citrus fruit flavours and aromas. Rob preferred the unoaked versions and so did I. The Portuguese also experiment with non-native varietals and one such wine was a blend of arinto and chardonnay from the Quinta da Alorna Reserve white 2008. Only the chardonnay had been fermented in oak so as not to overpower the delicacy of the arinto. The result was a creamy, buttery mouthful, vanilla in da house but not takin’ over the mic, allowing the baked...

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Tsuru, Japanese food/European wine – video

I was invited to a Japanese food and wine matching dinner the other night. Japanese food is notorious for it’s difficulty in matching with wine. Sweet, salty, spicy, fried, grilled, raw, cooked, with all those flavours and textures to match in one sitting, it’s no wonder most people stick to beer, saki or when push comes to shove, riesling. This was a food and wine match with a difference. All the wines were to be from the Old World. Damian Tillson of Sotheby’s, who chose the wine list, believes that there are perfectly good European wines available that can be matched with Japanese food. The tasting was held at Tsuru in Southwark, just behind the Tate Modern. The joint, opened almost a year ago by Emma Reynolds and partners, aims to be an ethically sourced restaurant, featuring line caught tuna, salmon from the Shetland islands and free range chicken from the West country. All the sushi is hand made on the premises by their expert sushi chef. The food served was a combination of sushi, sushi rolls and chicken and steak teriyaki. The food by itself was very tasty. It was fun to compare and contrast with the other food and wine bloggers at the tasting, Wineconversation, Winematcher, Londonelicious, MsMarmiteLover (of underground restaurant fame) and Gourmet Chick. How’d it do with the wine list? Watch the video to find out. [viddler id=de92829e&w=437&h=333] Here’s a list of what was on tasting and my notes: Whites 2007 Domain de Ricaud, Entre-deux-Mer, Bordeaux – herby, grassy nose, medium body, good acidity, minerally with green fruit  2007 Domaine Bailly-Reverdy Sancerre, Loire – herbacious, hay, gooseberry nose, gooseberry/grapefruit, light but sleek, flinty, was the best food matcher of the evening  2006 Domaine Leflaive, Macon Verze, Burgundy (biodynamic) – nicely integrated fruit and oak, pineapples, floral and citrus fruits, fine acidity, quite full bodied Rosè 2007 Domaine Pique Roque, Cotes de Provence – syrah/cabernet sauvignon blend – fresh strawberry and red fruit nose, dry but subtle red fruits, great example of Cotes de Provence rose Reds...

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Catavino’s Iberian Wine & Web tasting at Vinoteca – the video

Last week Catavino (Ryan and Gabriella Opaz) based in Terrazas, (near Barcelona) Spain, were in town to do a bit of networking and stopped by Vinoteca to host an Iberian wine & web tasting. The Winesleuth was there to taste along with her fellow winebloggers, Spitton and Surf4Wine. There was a wide selection of whites and reds from Spain and Portugal that Ryan had picked from Vinoteca‘s winelist. The most interesting to me was the Valdeorras Godello, Gaba do Xil, Telmo Rodriguez (Galicia). All three of us were impressed by how refreshing and clean it was, spicy green apples, great minerality as well and at £8.95, very good value. Another good choice from Telmo Rodriguez was the 2006 Valdeorras Mencia, another varietal native to Galicia, Gaba do Xil. Telmo really seems to capture the terroir of the region, the earth, rocks and fruit all coming together. Loads of violets and black cherry on the nose, a juicy strawberry compote, supple but with excellent tannins. Mencia is definitely a varietal to look out for. Again, for £8.95, good value for money. It was a fun night. Here’s a short video of the evening, including a brief interview with one half of Catavino, Gabriella Opaz. [viddler id=74e84e69&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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The video – Riedel winetasting at the Bluebird

  I got a new camcorder the other day to play around with at tastings. I’m still learning to use this damn thing but I’m sure I’ll get better as I go along! The video is from the Riedel comparative winetasting at the Bluebird not long ago. A bit of geek speak, a bit of what it was like to be there. [viddler id=973e078e&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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