Category Archives: food and wine matching

Camp Fire Wines

This is a long overdue post from the end of last summer.
We went on a two-nighter camping trip out to the redwood forest in Big Basin.

Considering we were in Santa Cruz County there were only two wineries worthy of the journey!

Bonny Doon and Ridge.

Bonny Doon’s Albariño is one of California’s best, lovely lime and tangerine with lots of acidity crispness.
At $18 too, quite a bargain. The current vintage is from a different vineyard, however without even tasting it I am sure it will be good. Perfect apéritf.

Bonny Doon Albariño

2013 Bonny Doon Albariño

Geyserville was the first Ridge wine I had, it was one from the mid-nighties, from then on I’ve been a fan, collecting different vintages, varietals and trying them randomly….2009 was indeed a superb wine. Soft cherry fruit, pepper, bramble, hint of clove spice, mint – we had these with wild boar and sage sausage and merguez, with harrissa mayonnaise. Being from California I’ll always have soft spot for zinfandel, this guy is a benchmark for the rest.


2009 Ridge Geyserville

2009 Ridge Geyserville


Me and Bonny Doon have got some history. From my first encounter when I set out on the near impossible task of sourcing a bottle of Cardinal Zin in the English country side for a zinfandel presentation at college (I even had the t-shirt!). To some ten years later when I finally got to meet Randal Grahm himself; where I had hard time keeping up with him as he went from tank to barrel trying his newest vintage that had just finished fermentation. To the encounter with Le Cigar Volant below…What in God’s holy name are you blathering about?

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about man…after having tried all these wines, served these wines and admired these wines….this 2009 Le Cigare Volant Réserve (en bonbonne, no doubt), is by far the finest Bonny Doon I’ve ever had. This wine is silky soft on the palate and gushing with pure blackberry fruit, there’s some mint, black licorice, wild mountain herbs and it just lasts and lasts on the finish. This is not a big wine and the alcohol is on the surprisingly low side at 13.4%. Regardless, this wine is fantastic, and for some god forsaken reason there’s still some left on their website.

I vividly remember sipping this wine well into the night just amazed at its

Well done.

2009 Le Cigare Volant

2009 Le Cigare Volant – best served with steak on the bloody side











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Wine to rough it with

Destination Sequoia.

As excited as I was to see the land of the tree giants I was equally as excited to to try a couple of wines I’d been holding on to…

Tin Barn Vineyards, a winery up in Sonoma, was kind enough to send me a bottle of their 2006 Coryelle Fields Vineyard Syrah.  The grapes are sourced from a vineyard near Jenner – I have yet to go there but from what I hear the vineyard is up a dirt track and planted on a fairly element exposed spot. Sounds great to me!

Tin Barn Syrah 2006 Coryelle Fields Vineyard

Tin Barn Syrah 2006 Coryelle Fields Vineyard

As for the Syrah the nose is full of dark berry fruit and spice but where this wine excels is its take on earthy Rhône.  We’re not talking dank Gigondas here, but for something out of California there is a lot of earthiness, soil even, and plenty of smokey savoury bacon, flavors.  Basically, a perfect wine for sitting around a campfire.

Tin Barn Syrah is available at the winery for $25 or you can go order it off their site

Giant Sequoia

Giant Sequoia

Mini Clubman in a Sequoia
Mini Clubman in a Sequoia
Another wine that made the trek northward was a very fine bottle of 2007 Rey Syrah.  Rey is the second label of the garagiste duo Chris and Deanna King.  They make their wine up in Lompoc under their main nomenclature De Su Propia Cosecha.
2007 Rey Syrah - Great with steak

2007 Rey Syrah - Great with steak

Rey has mostly Syrah in it but there’s a bit of Grenache and even less Cab.  Immediately on the nose you get hit of fresh bluberries as well as fresh aniseed and licorice.  The palate is crunchy with just enough tannin to roughin’ up your inner cheek.  This wine is very nice and very affordable at only $19.

2007 Rey Syrah

2007 Rey Syrah

If you live in SB I believe Winehound carries it, if not they can probably get it for you. It’s worth a note too that DSP has just been awarded 92 points for both their Grenache blend and Roussanne…worthy of a look.

A meadow near "End of the Road" in the Kings Canyon

A meadow near "End of the Road" in the Kings Canyon

As for Sequioa, even with spending a week there, we only touched the surface as it were.  We will definitely be going back again soon.

Adieu for now.

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you mus”t” try this red (with pasta)

Some banter this morning with @browners on his open ox cheek ravioli got me thinking about the wine I tried this past weekend – the 2007 Mus ‘T’ red from Domaine de la Graveirette – the duo would have gone perfectly together!

Domaine de la Graveirette, Mus ‘T’ 2007

It’s just something about tomato sauce (and cooked cherry tomatoes too) that go so well with Southern Rhône Syrah/Grenache blends. The ox cheek is just a plus.
Actually, this wine could go with an array of tomato and meat based Italian dishes, lasagne or even spag bol for instance.

The wine itself isn’t majorly complex but rather light and easy with fragrant berry fruit, some spice and a smooth palate. And it’s just light enough to make it refreshing in a glass, by itself.

Domaine de la Graveirette is available at Caviste for £8.95

The wine was kindly sent to me by newly established Carte Blanche Wines

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January blues wine of the month

No pay check till Feb? No problem!

You can still get a bottle of decent white wine from the South West of France at the shrapnel price of £3.99.

Made from Producteurs Plaimont it is called Vieille Fontaine and available at Tesco Extra.  It’s made in the Gers region of SW France (They are famous in the States for the Colombelle wine).

This guy is a crispy bomb! A completely refreshing tipple. Lots of citrus loveliness mixed in with granny smith apples. The grapes are of the local sort – Colombard and Ugni blanc.

As for my food pairing. Well eggs are a notorious wine killer – usually they only go with bubbly stuff, but Vieille Fontaine went perfectly with the omelette – it’s all about the acidity in the wine cutting through the egginess of the, uhm, well, eggs.
A great pairing at a super budget price.

My bottle of Vielle Fontaine was kindly sent to me by the folks at Westbury (thanks Sandra) but if you would like your own, and I highly suggest you try it out,  they’re at Tesco Extra.

Vielle Fontaine 2008 £3.99 available at Tesco Extra (and online for even cheaper)

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Awesome wine of the week!

Tasted through loads of New Zealand and Burgundian wines this week…so have lots to tell.

But as a quickie recommendation try this Kiwi Pinot out –  Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir 2008.

Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir Central Otago 2008

Carrick is a well established winery in Central Otago on the Southern bit of NZ south island(maybe the world?).

So, why did I like this guy? Well for starters, the price!  At £12.50 this wine is a bargain from a region notorious for tres cher Pinot.  Great Western Wine in Bath are the importers and you can buy it online here.

As for the wine, it has loads of expressive mixed berry fruit of cranberry and lots of cherries with a vibrant earthy palate – high alc @ 14% but overall a good Pinot Noir that will defo stand up to a variety of dishes from Peking duck to chorizo sausages.

Oh, check this out, just got off the phone with Great Western Wine to double-check price and it is normally £12.50 but is now on offer for £10.95!  That is a ridiculously good price!! Honestly buy now.  Again here’s the link. I would but I’m just a lowly messenger 😦

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Find your perfect match without online dating

Perfecting the fine art of food and wine matching takes nothing more than practice. And what better way to hone your expertise than diving in to the sinful world of gluttony.
There are times it just goes all wrong but those are out weighed massively for the times it goes all right!
Just before Christmas I was invited by Scott Burton (@scottburton) of Cube Communications to what seemed to be a very interesting food and wine tasting: ‘we’ll see if top end Aussie wine can stand up to Michelin starred French cuisine’.

Hmmmm…Besides steak I didn’t know Oz had anything ‘top end’,  and the restaurant was Roussillon so I at least knew one variable in the equation would work out!

Each dish matched individually to a McGuigan wine – and must say overall Roussillon’s food is superb.

Here are descriptions of my three favourite food and wine matchings (out of  the 5)

Perfect Partner

Milk Fed Lamb & Thyme – Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lamb and Bordeaux is a classic food and wine match and the Aussie substitute didn’t by any means back down from this challenge.
There was loads of blackcurrant with this Cabernet but also a mistletoe/mint leaf flavour that slotted in like a puzzle piece with the thyme rubbed lamb.

McGuigan Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (thanks to Mathilde Cuisine for photo)

Match Made

Lobster & Purple Basil – Light Lobster Bisque infused with Purple Basil, Scallops & Confit Tomatoes Tortellini Mcguigan’s Earth’s Portrait Riesling 2004

Lobster & Purple Basil

Matching a wine here would be especially difficult as it would need to fit snugly between the buttery exploding richness of the lobster bisque and the delicate scallop flavour and texture.
Riesling is perfect for the job!  And Earth’s Portrait is an amazing example of what Australia can do with grape.  The distinct Riesling nose of kerosin/diesel backed by raw peach and stone fruits filled the acidity gaps in the dish. The wine is very fresh too and almost cleans the palate with every sip, that is despite it being 6 years old.
Riesling is a go to wine for many of London’s sommeliers, the Aus stuff  is especially good for matching with a variety of winged and finned foods.

McGuigan Earth’s Portrait Riesling 2004


Wild Sea Bass & Razor Clams with Sechuan Pepper matched perfectly with the Bin 9000 Semillon 2003

Wild Sea Bass & Razor Clams (thanks to Mathilde Cuisine for photo)

Australian Semillon is some of the best in the world and, as you can see, this wine came littered with awards. This little guy threw out pear skin and apple pulp from the glass and was especially crisp.

Bin 9000 went perfect with the fish/clam duo – the sea aromas from the plate stacked up well with the chalky/mineral/saline sparkling water flavours in the wine. But even better, the wine did not shy away from the light touch of spiciness in the dish.
When things get spicy in food it’s usually time to call up some off-dry and even semi-sweet wine, but no, this dry bastard was having none of it!
Above all the combined freshness of the wine and food really stood out.

Bin 9000 Semillon 2003 with Mcguigan's white wine maker Peter Hall

Sadly, you won’t find any of these premium wines in the UK, however, I’ve heard reliable rumours that will be doing a VERY limited premium mix case soonish and it might have some of this stuff in it…..stay tuned I will let you know when it’s out.

Any chef who openly winds up their sommelier on Twitter deserves a mention on this blog! In fact any chef who twitters from the kitchen deserves recognition. Follow Alexis here @roussillon_sw1

Alexis Gauthier is the man behind Roussillon

Finally,  had to add a picture of this guy.  Neil McGuigan is chief winemaker and heir to McGuigan wines.  He is hilarious, and really knows how to have a good time. Despite being completely jet-lagged and on a very regimented wine tour, he was by far the most energetic in the room.
It’s when you meet personalities like Neil that you realise all is not pompous in the wine trade.

Neil McGuigan - keeping the wine trade in check

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