Friday, 20 July 2012

Island Living

Our Islands Man at Large

“Bring us a decent bottle of wine if you’ve got room” was a final plea from our son Toby before we set off for a first visit to the island where he and his wife Rosie have been living since last September. Well, the Islands are my only Wine In Cornwall responsibility, so here was a request to which I had to respond!
Rather farther away than the Scillies though, this particular island, situated as it is some 50 miles off the south coast of South Korea. Much farther away, but not that much more expensive to get to, it has to be said. Comparison of airfares shows that the cost of flying from London to Seoul (5,500 miles) is about 6 pence a mile compared with the Penzance to St Mary’s (40 miles) rate of £2.35 per mile!!...... and you get fed!

Toby and Rosie are on a 3 year contract working at a very fine, newly built boarding school, the first enterprise to open its doors in the ‘Global Education City’ being created by the South Korean government on the otherwise tourist based island of Jeju. It has been a great experience for them helping to implant a very traditional English boarding school into a very different culture, but their hard work and that of all the staff has produced great results. Their only disappointment with Korea has been the rather strange traditional cuisine, which seems to rely heavily on Kimchi, shredded cabbage that has been pickled/fermented for extended periods in clay pots buried in the ground. Finding a wine that would be a good match had me at a loss, for the first time ever!

For Barbara and me it was a splendid holiday. We were able to enjoy the end-of-year Arts Festival, the Summer Ball and Village Fete (which, once they overcame their initial shock at some of the more traditional English pursuits, was enthusiastically enjoyed by students and their parents alike). We swam in the new 25 metre pool, sang with the (whole) school choir and were bowled over by the friendliness and courtesy of all the youngsters (practically all Korean). Toby even found time to take us out to see something of the island, which certainly whetted our appetites for next year’s visit.

So, back to that bottle. What I took was Patrice Rion’s Vielles Vignes Nuits St George, (£34 from Wine In Corwnwall). It was more than ‘a decent bottle of wine’. Much more. Superb, in fact, with glorious raspberry fruit intertwined with those alluring Burgundy vegetal aromas.
But not with Kimchi– definitely not!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Wine and Cricket DO go together!

Our long time love affair with and support for all things cricket was further developed this week with the announcement of our sponsorship of Falmouth Cricket Club for the 2012 season. The club enters four X1’s in the Cornwall leagues and is one of the oldest and most important clubs in the County. The 2nd  X1 shirts have been emblazoned with the WIC logo and the beautiful Trescobeas ground now displays our shiny new advertising board. The picture shows Nigel presenting 2nd X1 Captain Scott Thompson with a shirt prior to the match against Paul on Saturday 5th May 2012.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

French Theme

Mis en Bulles
 from Valensac
Bertier's Sauvignon
Viognier blend
I had a splendid French themed evening last week at the Prince of Wales in Newtown St Martin. Chef Warren put together an interesting taster menu of regional French dishes like rillettes of pork with pickle pear and slow cooked paupiettes of beef. All the wines came from the Languedoc (our choice) and this gave us the opportunity to show off the diversity of wines available from this area. A succulent Rosé from Irene Tolleret’s Mas d’Auzieres in the Pic St Loup set off the rillettes very well. This was followed by the almost salty dry Domaine de Bertiers Sauvignon / Viognier from the coastal plain with monkfish and then the familiar La Forge Old Vine Carignan with the beef – all elderberry and Christmas spice. Star match of the evening was a Chardonnay Mousseux Brut from Domaine de Valensac which worked gloriously with a roquefort and walnut salad and finally a Muscat de Mireval from Chateau d'Exindre blended beautifully with a dreamy, aromatic mango bavaroise. Jolly well done all round and thanks to Tom and Anne for arranging it and feeding me so well!


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Dinner at Alba Restaurant  Wednesday 7th March 2012

Nic & Pablo with Grant
I was joined on a Wednesday evening a couple of weeks ago by Pablo Montero, Export Manager and Nicholas Saelzer, Commercial Director of the Anakena Winery in Chile along with Catherine Hill from Stratford Wines, their UK agents. I had selected a range of their wines to complement Grant Nethercott’s sublime cooking, and had agreed on them along with Julia Knight, Grant’s business partner and Alba’s maître d’hôtel. 

The Chilean visitors wanted us to show an additional couple of wines, so we ended up with 6 wines over a 4 course dinner.
The starter was a subtle little crab and avocado mousse sitting in a pool of punchy gazpacho. Two whites were served with this: Anakena Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc and the ONA white blend of Riesling, Viognier and Chardonnay. The room voted the ONA blend as the better match and I agree! It is a rich and complex wine with enough structure to both carry the gazpacho and not to overpower the delicate crab. The Sauvignon is a fine example of cool climate viticulture with good expression of fruit in a refreshing mouthful, clean and accurate. More robust than French Sauvignon and not as opulent as their New Zealand cousins.
We paired the fish course of sea bream fillet with confit chicken leg and girolle mushrooms with the INDO Chardonnay. There was an underlying smokiness to the dish which was complemented by the partial oak fermentation of this reserve wine.
Nic & Pablo strutting their stuff!
The main course was very interesting in that there were two distinct elements to the dish – confit leg of Cornish duck on a bed of crushed flageolet beans with smoked pancetta, lemon and thyme.  We served the INDO Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva and the ONA Pinot Noir alongside each other. On our table we were split down the middle! The problem was that the Cabernet went very well with the beans while the Pinot was a great match for the confit leg. Neither wine was completely successful with the whole dish so we voted for our favourite with the dish and ended up in a draw. Around the room the Pinot won through, but I suspect that was as a measure of quality rather than food matching!
The dessert of a perfect mini crème brulée flavoured with vanilla, served alongside spiced pineapple and passion fruit ice cream, was matched with the Noble Late Harvest Viognier. This is a botrytis rich wine which is briefly oaked. The acidity was a lovely match to the pineapple and passion fruit while its smooth rich peachy fruit ran nicely alongside the delectable crème brulée. Only 60% of the wine has noble rot so it does not overpower and become too honeyed – a style I particularly like and one which is well suited to this kind of light dessert, rich yet low in sugar.

Overall the wines were a big success and everyone seemed to have enjoyed it! Watch out for Anakena promotion in store at the Penryn warehouse in April!

Mike Maguire 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Getting out with our customers

Spanish Evenings Abound!

At this time of year many of our pub and restaurant customers have the time and resources to try out different events to draw in customers and the relaxed style of Tapas dining is very popular this year. The principal benefits for the customer are relatively low cost with plenty of variety. Over the next two weeks Nigel & Mike will be out and about, mucking in and chatting about wines with this style of food, and here is a list of events that you might wish to attend!

Thursday 26th January 2012 7pm
Port Navas Yacht Club Spanish Night
01326 340065
3 course supper with wines

Saturday 28th January 2012 7pm
Paris Hotel Coverack Tapas & Wine Evening
01326 280258
6 Courses with matching wines
Mike will be doing a dance between kitchen, where he will be assisting Kerra, and dining room to present the wines! Should be a fun evening!

Thursday 2nd February 2012 8pm
White Hart Ludgvan Spanish Supper
01736 740574
5 course supper with accompanying wines
Nigel will be strutting his stuff down West!

Cheese, Bread & Wine!

Just when you thought it was all Spanish, Nigel has slipped in an evening of matching wine with cheeses from Tom Hanson of Hanson's Fine Foods and Ben Hawkins from Da Bara Bakery.

Friday 27th January 2012, 7pm
Kings Head, Ruan Lanihorne
01872 501263
Looking forward to an enjoyable evening there!

If you wish to attend any of these events, please contact the venue direct as we do not take bookings for these evenings!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Year, New Wines

About this time of year we always embark on a prolonged period of tasting samples of new house wines for our trade customers. This is very much the sharp end of the market because although the prices are low, the volumes are high and it is vitally important we get it right. This applies to price, presentation, quality and availability; the decisions made now will have to be lived with throughout the busy months ahead. Last week it was entry level Aussie wines, our recent success with Auction House looked to have been a good call with these light fruity wines showing good balance. A
newcomer called McPeterson (Chardonnay and Shiraz) looks good as well.  

This week we got stuck into some French and Spanish samples, this was a big tasting and quality was very variable; good to see the good old paint stripper factory is still churning it out! At this level Spain trounced France. The new "way" for France comes under the banner of “Vin de France”, a generic classification which seems to allow anything to be bottled in the name of consistency but at the cost of any sense of belonging – just euro-plonk. In contrast, the Spaniards, from such regions as Navarra, Carinena and (even!) Valencia, while still up and down, showed real character and named specified grape varieties. Three wines from Carinena bottled under the smart Amalia label proved to be the stars of the day so keep an eye out for them.

Nigel Logan

Monday, 9 January 2012

So what did you have for Christmas?

We’re often asked, as wine merchants, what we drank on Christmas Day ourselves. We spend most of November and December every year recommending what are our customers should be drinking for this most special family meal so maybe it is time to spill the beans and tell all.
For us, it is an occasion when old bottles from private collections are dusted down and carefully decanted so this blog may not turn out to be a wonderful exercise in marketing current wines but here goes anyway –
Nigel – “Being a bit of a philistine when it comes to Champagne I kicked off with a glass of La Gitana Manzanilla while everybody else got stuck into the ever dependable Renard Barnier NV. We then progressed to Logan Weemala Pinot Gris (gentle peach flavours and a touch of perfumed oil) and followed that with the stunning Logan Orange Chardonnay (fantastic dry extract, racy and minerally, the best Chardonnay I have drunk this year, a bit like Meursault on steroids). With the turkey; La Lagune 1996 for my end of the table and the succulently sexy Mas D’ Auzieres “les Eclats” for the “kids” worked a dream. The rest is a blur but it did involve some Quinta do Noval and (unfortunately) homemade Blackberry gin.”

Nigel Logan

Henry Shaw

Our Christmas Day is a pretty traditional affair, with fairly traditional wines! I have to keep an eye on my Dad as he is a little unsteady on his feet these days (purely medical reasons, you understand) so we take if slow and steady. We kicked off with the Renard Barnier NV with the canapes. Nigel calls it 'ever dependable' and I agree, but I would also add that its key selling point for me is the richness it achieves by extra time in the cellar before release which enhanced the smoked salmon nibbles marvellously!
The Crossroads Gewurztraminer (NZ) was very interesting against a smooth chicken liver parfait with sultanas previously soaked in a 5 Punt Tokay. Lovely scented fruit with enough acidity to cut the richness of the parfait. I cooked the turkey a bit differently this year and the resultant soft and moist breast meat, alongside slow-cooked dark leg meat was a revelation. I also cooked the best stuffing I have made in years, rich with chestnuts and pistachios. I had a couple of bottles of decent claret in the wings, but opted for a beautifully crafted  Armador Syrah from the Odfjell winery in Maipo Valley in Chile. Smooth and relaxed drinking through the rest of the evening for me! We packed Dad off to the lounge for a snooze at that point, so I enjoyed the rest of the bottle myself while Helen moved onto some Italian liqueurs!

Mike Maguire