Madeira Day Wine Tasting 2015

Madeira Day is a campaign to spread the word about quality Madeira wines. Now in its second year, Madeira Day started as Madeira Saturday in 2014. It is organised by Vinhos Barbeito and their UK importer, Portuguese wines specialist, Raymond Reynolds Ltd. Don’t forget to tweet using #MadeiraDay.

Our Madeira Day Wine Tasting is a free tasting. Please pop into Fareham Wine Cellar anytime between 2pm and 5.30pm on the 14th November 2015.

Madeira Day Wine Tasting 2015

Saturday 14th November 2015 from 2.00pm until 5.30pm

Fareham Wine Cellar
55 High Street
Fareham, P016 8TD

We will be showing some fantastic Madeiras from Vinhos Barbeito, a small, traditional Madeira producer, who doesn’t add any caramel to their Madeiras as some more commercial Madeiras do. The result is that Barbeito’s Madeira have a wonderful clean, purity and freshness. They are superb wines, suitable for all sorts of occasions, and must be tried!

Madeira Day wines on show will be (and maybe a.n.other),

Barbeito Boal (Bual) Reserva 19% 50cl

Barbeito Boal (Bual) Reserva

A superb medium-sweet Madeira with refreshing acidity. Barbeito Boal Reserva has a golden, honey colour. The nose demonstrates aromas of dried fruit, floral notes and marmalade. It is a round, medium-bodied with slight smoky hint and a fresh and tangy finish.

Barbeito Verdelho 10 Year Old Reserva Velha 19% 75cl

Barbeito Verdelho 10 Year Old Reserva Velha

Barbeito Verdelho 10 Year Old Reserva Velha is literally an “Old Reserve” Made from 100% Verdelho grapes. It is made in a medium dry style. It has a bright, light golden brown colour. The nose has aromas of citrus, floral and honeyed notes. It is soft, round, well-balance with good acidity and persisent, lingering finish.

Barbeito Madeira and Bolo de Mel
Barbeito Madeira and Bolo de Mel in 2014

We we will also have some wonderful spiced molasses cake, made to a traditional Madeiran recipe, called Bolo de Mel, made by Alan Williams of the Buxton Cake Company to try with the wines.

Barbeito Madeira is was founded in 1946 by Mário Barbeito. Today Mario’s grandson, Ricardo de Freitas, runs Vinhos Barbeito. Barbeito is a very traditional canteiro style Madeira and undergoes no de-acidification nor addition of caramel. Barbeito work closely with local producers and have input with them to ensure that each harvest the grapes are harvested to the specification of winemaker Ricardo de Freitas.

Read more about Barbeito Madeira at their website.

A couple of tweets from the day!


Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner 2015

with winemaker Pedro Urbina

Wednesday 14th October 2015

@ Lysses House Hotel, High Street
Fareham, Maplink

Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner 2015 (1)

On Wednesday 14th October 2015 we were lucky enough to have a visit from Bodegas Urbina winemaker Pedro Urbina and his representative in the UK, Edward Burridge of Burridges of Arlington Street, specialist importers of Spanish wines. This gave us the opportunity to host a winemaker’s dinner at Lysses House Hotel. Here are a few of my thoughts, and a few pictures, of the evening.

Pedro Urbina at the Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner 2015 (9)Pedro Urbina

It is always good to have access to a winemaker, there are always questions that you can ask a winemaker that no-one else will tell you the answer to. Of course, they don’t always answer the questions one asks! One of the things I was interested in finding out was how can Bodegas Urbina still be selling Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 or Urbina Reserva Especial 2001 Rioja when all other Rioja producers are on something like the 2005 and 2008 vintages? Well it seems that Pedro Senior, who would have been in charge at the time, made a lot of wine of one type if he thought that it would be the best expression of his wine in that vintage. So we, and Urbina, are still selling Urbina Gran Reserva 1996 because they made a lot of Gran Reserva in that year. If my memory serves me correctly, I don’t recall ever selling any 1996 Reservas from Urbina, only Crianza. Likewise in 1999 there was no other Urbina Rioja made apart from the Urbina Seleccion Crianza 1999 (actually, it could be classified as a Reserva, see below) because Pedro Snr thought it would be the best wine to make in that vintage.

Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner 2015 (11)

Another interesting point that was mentioned, which is a useful point to remind everyone, is that Urbina Crianza has been aged long enough in oak and bottle prior to release to qualify as a Reserva and, similarly, Urbina Reservas qualify as Gran Reservas. Otherwise things seem to be continuing in much the same vein as before at Urbina. Pedro did mention that they are now using 35% French oak and 65% American oak where as it was 100% American previously and that will be interesting to see how it affects the wines going forward. There is also a new project from Urbina coming shortly called Bodegas Salva from Rioja Alta. It is named after Salva after Pedro’s grandfather Salvador and is a joint venture between Pedro and his two brothers Angel and Santiago, who are lecturers at MasterViteno in Madrid. This small 5 hectare estate will produce a Crianza and a Reserva in a more modern, fruit-driven style than the classic Urbina Rioja.

Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner 2015 (2)

As usual chef Clive Wright and his staff at Lysses House Hotel performed a stellar job in ensuring that everyone was fed and watered well. I know it is not an easy job trying to serve 60 covers all at once. The food, once again, was superb. The starters of cod and chorizo on a bed of spinach with a red wine and cream sauce was a brilliant match for the Urbina Garnacha, the sweet meatiness of the chorizo and the spicy, vibrant, red fruit were a perfect match. The main course was some fantastic Welsh lamb with a Spanish infused butter bean, pepper and courgette stew which worked really well with the Urbina Seleccion. The Urbina Seleccion 1999 is always one of my favourite Urbina Riojas as I find it just has a bit more fruit, but similar power, to their Reserva wines. In fact Pedro calls the Urbina Seleccion 1999 their 4×4 wine, it will go anywhere, meaning it is their most versatile wine for food matching. There was also a small selection of Spanish Cheeses inc;uding Manchego, a Spanish Blue and a Spanish smoked cheese called San Simon. I am not normally a fan of smoked cheeses and I was surprised how well this match with the Urbina Gran Reserva 1996, the smokiness of the cheese and the dried fruit and vanilla character just seem to complement each other really well.

The biggest star of the evening seemed to be the Urbina Crianza. Apparently the previous evening at another wine tasting it was the Urbina Reserva Especial 2001! Here is a breakdown of the wines sold on the evening.

Urbina Winemakers Dinner Sales Percentage

See the full list and wines and menu here.

Berkmann Wine Cellars

Berkmann Wine Cellars South West Wine Tasting 2015
@ The Grand Café, Southampton, SO14 3AS
Monday 5th October 2015

Berkmann Wine Cellars South West Wine Tasting 2015

On Monday 5th October I was lucky enough to be able to attend Berkmann Wine Cellars South West Wine Tasting 2015 at The Grand Café in Southampton. Berkmann Wine Cellars are one of our key wine suppliers and we buy a small range of wines from them but mainly Lapostolle frmo Chile, various Italian wines, including those from Antinori and Masi and some selected spirits including Monkey 47 Gin from Germany and Ron Millonario from Peru. The UK wine trade is extremely London-centric and it is very rare that any of the big wine suppliers organise a regional wine tasting outside of London. It is great when then do and I am highly appreciative to Berkmann Wine Cellars for organising a fantastic wine tasting, with a good, large range of wines out in the wilds of Southampton. With the tasting being so local and with the phrase “use it or lose it” in mind, there was no way I wasn’t going to attend. It was well attended, it certainly seemed busier than the last one I attended in 2013 tasting.

Berkmann Wine Cellars South West Wine Tasting 2015

Here are a few of my highlights from the wine tasting.

Sparkling Wines

I tried a few sparkling wines at the tasting, including some great Champagnes from Drappier, but the two that stood out most for me were the Casa Valduga Arte Brut from Brazil and Prosecco from Col de’ Salici. The Brazilian sparkling wine was a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and had quite developed toasty and yeasty flavours and aromas and pucnched way above it £12ish price point. The Col de’ Salici Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry was amazingly fresh with lots of apricot character and a really clean and dry finish. A very crisp and elegant wine.

Italian White Wines

One wine that I was keen to try again to check up on was the new vintage of the Broglia La Meirana Gavi di Gavi 2014. It is still one of the best Gavi di Gavis I have tried. The 2014 was really fresh and clean with floral, blossomy notes, hints of almonds  and plenty of citrus / lime character. Very nice. Another old favourite showing well was the Masi Masianco, a white from Veneto made with 85% Pinot Grigio and 15% partially dried Verduzzo grapes which give a fair bit of character and flavour to the blend.

Did you know Cervaro della Sala had a little brother? I didn’t. It is the Castello della Sala Bramito, 100% barrel fermented Chardonnay from Umbria and would retail for under £20. One of the best Italian Chardonnays I have tried in a long time with lots of pineapple and apply character with a nice spiciness.

Italian Red Wines

I have not tried many wines from Valtellina in the north of Italy but there was a very interesting red wine wine on show made by Mamete Prevostinin. Their SantaRita Rosso di Valtellina, a high altitude 100% Nebbiolo from the Swiss / Italian border, was just fantastically clean, pure, fruity and silky textured with red fruit and floral (rose) notes.Masi Costasera Amarone Classico

The Masi Valpolicella Bonacosta and Costasera Amarone are both excellent wines and I think the Masi Costasera Amarone 2010 might have been my favourite wine of the day (a toss-up between this and the Lapostolle Mourvedre below). It demonstrates an abundance of dried fruits, chocolate, mocha and violet aromas and flavours and manages to be powerful yet with a classy, elegance and purity at the same time.

There were also three Antinori-owned red wines that deserve a mention. Guado al Tasso Il Bruciato is a superb 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Syrah blend from Tuscany, as good as ever. The Prunotto Mompertone was new to me, a supply, fruity, smokey, autumnal wine, a blend of 60% Barbera and 40% Syrah from Piedmont. Lastly there was the La Braccesca Bramasole, 100% Syrah from Tuscany with loads of smokey black fruit and very reminiscent of a good Cote-Rotie. A Superb Syrah.

Chilean Wines

I am a big fan of Lapostolle wines from Chile. The Lapostolle Casa Semillon 2012 is a really fresh, waxy, fruity, citrus-y wine aged for 8 months in 2nd and 3rd fill French oak barrels with superb ageing potential. The Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Chardonnay is one of my “go to” Chardonnay and has a great balance of fruit, oak and acidity. However, the surprise for me was a new wine, made only in tiny quantities, the Lapostolle Collection Mourvedre 2013, 100% Mourvedre from Apalta. It was aged in 3rd fill French oak for 1 year and and is a fruity, juicy wine with lifted red fruit and blueberry aromas. Lovely.


We buy a few spirits from Berkmann Wine Cellars and it was good to try a few new ones that I had not tried before. Monkey 47 Gin continues to be a benchmark gin, floral and spicy with a touch of sweetness, and their newly released Sloe gin was very nice too. Bonus fact:  the Monkey 47 Gin is rested in earthenware containers for three months prior to bottling for all the flavours in the gin to marry.

Babicka Original Wormwood Vodka was a surprise. Really spicy, woody, wormwood infused vodka from Czechoslovakia with vanilla, anise notes. Just drop and olive in it and you would have a good dry Martini. Lapostolle’s Kappa Pisco is amazing, probably one of the best white Piscos one can find, with lovely aromatic grapey, muscat aromas and flavours, but clean and pure enough to drink neat, which is more than I can say for some other Piscos I have tried!

Ron de Jeremy

There were also Rums from Don Q from Puerta Rico and Ron de Jeremy from Panama. I really liked the Don Q Anejo and the Ron de Jeremy Spiced and XO. The spiced was bottled at 47% which is unusual for a spiced rum, most are bottled at around 38%. It is refreshing to see a full strength spiced rum and it certainly didn’t take any prisoners. Big, rich and spicy but with a lot more power than some. I normally find the normal Ron de Jeremy a little bit too sweet for my taste but the Ron de Jeremy XO was very good. Apparently this was a blend of rums from Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica and Guyana, aged through a Solera system and bottled with a rough average age of 15 years old. It was big, rich and smokey with loads of dark toffee, mocha and oaky notes.

So there you have it. Thanks again to Berkmann Wine Cellars for organising a regional tasting. What I really need is the recipe for the goats cheese arancini with tomato sauce The Grand Café served!

Compass Box Whisky Limited Editions

I kindly received some samples of the latest 2015 Compass Box Whisky Limited Editions from Herman Van Broekhuizen, the Brand Ambassador for Compass Box Whisky. These were the 15th Anniversary Flaming Heart and the surreal-ly named, with a nod of the head to Magritte, This Is Not A Luxury Whisky. I have been selling Compass Box Whisky at Fareham Wine Cellar since it was launched and I almost always have a couple of their whiskies, the Spice Tree and Peat Monster, on the go at home, so I guess you could call be a bit of a fan of their whiskies.

Compass Box Whisky Samples

I had already heard from one of my customers who had attended The Whisky Show 2015 that both the Compass Box Flaming Heart and the This Is Not A Luxury Whisky were stunning whiskies. So, armed with my samples, I sat down one afternoon last week to have an attempt at some tasting notes. Please be gentle with me, I am more used to tasting and writing notes about wines than whiskies!

I have also included the flavour descriptors from the Compass Box Whisky website and, perhaps rather more interesting, the composition of the two whiskies as well. There are some very old whiskies in the blends, particularly in the This Is Not A Luxury Whisky, a blend of 19, 40 and 30 year old malt and grain whiskies. Grain whiskies this old are very rare indeed.

Compass Box Flaming Heart
Fifteenth Anniversary Limited Edition
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 48.9% 70cl

Appearance: Clear, bright, pale, golden barley corn colour.

Nose: Aromatic and pungent nose. Aromas of smoke, nutty almond hints, cereal, spicy oak and some sweet notes of honey and vanilla. There is some medicinal character, with a touch of sticking plaster, and there are some salty, maritime aromas too. A bit of a nose-tingler. A small drop of water brings extra sweet vanilla aromas.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium weight, slight oily feel.

Palate: Medium-rich and spicy. Good oaky, new barrel character and a touch of pepper, piney / resin notes, clean wood smoke and menthol character. Gently warming. Sweet through the entry and mid-palate. Vibrant.

Finish: Finishes sweet, but not overly sweet, and long. Complex yet clean and fresh. Excellent.


Fifteenth Anniversary Limited Edition
release of 12,060 bottles.
Bottled in July 2015.

Bottling Details

Bottled at 48.9%
Not chill-filtered
Natural colour


From Compass Box Whisky,

Flavour Descriptors

A unique interplay between spice, sweet and smoke characteristics. Sweet fruits and wood-smoke on the nose. Fat and full-bodied on the palate with a spicy sweetness and a brooding complexity that is rich, sweet and addictively decadent.

Compass Box This Is Not A Luxury Whisky
Limited Edition
Blended Scotch Whisky 53.1% 70cl

Appearance: Good clear orange-y gold colour.

Nose: Warm and mellow nose. Sweet sherry notes, hints of floral (violet), aldehyde character and toffee / caramel aromas. Big and sweet with dried fruit and raisins. Hints of apples, pears and some sort of tropical fruit. A drop of water brings out a touch of orange citrus. There is also a faint smoky hint.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full-bodied.

Palate: Soft and warming. More herbal and grassy notes, hints of chocolate and sweet demerara (hints of rum), brown sugar notes and coconut. There is also some earthy, leathery character. Spicy (cinnamon), oaky and a bit of smoke. There is an awful lot going on here.

Finish: The finish is full, rich, spicy and very long. Very complex finish. Quite stunning.


Limited Edition release of 4,992 bottles.
Bottled in August 2015.

Bottling Details

Bottled at 53.1%
Not chill-filtered
Natural colour


From Compass Box Whisky

Flavour Descriptors

Complex, rich, lightly smoky and opulent. Sultanas, sweet sherry and concentrated floral notes combine with deep demerara sweetness, cacao and lighter creamy coconut character. An inviting nose, fat and full-bodied on the palate with a long, lingering sweet smoke finish.

These are two of the best Compass Box Whiskies I have tried. The Flaming Heart is a superb blended malt, it reminds me of the original bottling, a well-balance mix of sweet and smoke. The This Is Not A Luxury Whisky is a big brooding whisky, perfect for afternoons in front of a wood fire, a whisky for contemplation. I urge you to seek both of these out.

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition

Now available at Fareham Wine Cellar – Please follow the links for more information or to buy online.

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition 40% 70cl – available now while stocks last.

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition 40% 175cl Night Sabre – available now while stocks last.

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition 40% 70cl

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition Bottle


Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition 40% 175cl Night Saber

I have only just discovered that the larger light up bottles of Belvedere Vodka are known as the “Night Sabre”!!! Where have I been?

Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition 1.75cl Bottle

Belvedere Vodka is distilled from 100% Dan´kowskie Gold Rye, which has only been successfully harvested in Poland. Belvedere Vodka is distilled four times, the optimum number for achieving its unique flavour profile – three distillations leave minor imperfections, five distillations strip away delicious flavour notes.

Tasting Notes: Belvedere Vodka has a a faint hint of vanilla on the nose along with some gentle, soft cream characteristics. The palate is full and round with a medium bodied weight and rich, velvety texture. There is some vanilla swaying between sweet and savoury with a hint of white pepper and spice. Good length with notes of almond, clotted cream and some faint almond and brazil nut characteristics.

Chilgrove Gin

Chilgrove Gin is a new, small batch gin whose roots lie deep in the heart of the South Downs. It is the brainchild of husband and wife team Christopher and Celia Beaumont-Hutchings who one day thought that they would like to make a gin of their own. Unlike most people who idly daydream about such projects, they actually put their money where their mouths were and did it. The idea was fermented, as it were, in the beer garden of their local hostelry, the White Horse, in the small West Sussex village of Chilgrove, after which it is named.

Chilgrove Gin is now available at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Chilgrove Gin

Chilgrove Gin lays claim to being the first English gin to be made with a neutral base spirit produced from grapes. The base spirit is sourced from the Spanish wine-growing region of La Mancha. It is not the first gin that we have sold that is made from grape spirit. That honour would have to go G’Vine Gin from France. With the massive increase in English wine production, particularly sparkling, of recent years I would not be surprised to see a few more gins made from a grape spirit base appearing on the market soon. Grape spirit was originally the base spirit for the fore-runner of gin, Dutch Genever, before Genever producers were forced to switch to grain spirit due to mainly political reasons.

The idea behind Chilgrove Gin is a stripped back, less is more approach, which is rather the opposite to some other new gins who seem to be having a competition to see how many botanicals they can use. So, why grape spirit? Most gin is made from a neutral base spirit made from grain, but it can be made from a base spirit distilled from just about anything including sugar beet, sugar cane, potatoes or even apples like Williams Chase Elegant Gin. Grape spirit is a more refined, elegant spirit than grain spirit which allows the full expression of the 11 carefully selected botanicals to produce a crisp, smooth, yet complex, gin.

Chilgrove Gin Botanicals

Juniper BerryChilgrove Gin Label
Coriander Seed
Sweet Orange
Angelica Root
Liquorice Root
Orris Root
Bitter Orange
Water Mint
Grains of Paradise

Chilgrove Gin is made at Thames Distillers in London by eighth generation master distiller Charles Maxwell. It is here where the neutral grape spirit is redistilled in the presence of 11 botanicals to flavour the gin. If you are a gin-lover you have no doubt imbibed some of the gins made at Thames Distillers already. The distillery has two 500 litre stainless steel pot stills named Tom Thumb and Thumbelina. They make over 60 brands of gin for various company’s including Jenson’s, Juniper Green, Portobello Road and Fifty Pounds Gin. After redistillation with the botanicals the last thing that needs to be done is to reduce the gin down to the chosen alcoholic volume, in this case 44% abv. The water used to do this is the other South Downs connection. Chilgrove gin is made using water from the Southdowns Water Co., a natural mineral water supplier whose spring is located on the West Sussex / Hampshire border at Southbourne. This spring water is naturally filtered through the chalky South Downs. It is naturally high in calcium and low in sodium and brings it own individual character to the gin.

Chilgrove Gin Tasting Notes
From distiller Charles Maxwell,

“A big, powerful, complex gin. The neutral grape spirit base helps to give a soft mouth feel and bring forward floral notes as it combines with the citrus botanicals.  Overall there is a gentle delivery of the botanical flavours which end up with a spicy peppery note delivered by the grains of paradise working with the juniper.”

Fareham Wine Cellar Tasting Notes

Chilgrove gin has a sweetish nose with a big hit of citrus, tangerine, and more subtle floral, violet, juniper and spicy coriander notes. There are also menthol / eucalyptus nuances. It is a powerful full, rich and complex gin with with a viscous mouthfeel. The palate is dominated by juniper, coriander and spicy, peppery flavours with more mint notes. Is my mind playing tricks or is there some red berry character here too? It has a very pleasing, fresh, clean, crisp and dry finish. Bottled at 44% abv.

Chilgrove Gin really seems have hit the ground running and it is quickly becoming the favourite gin of the yachting community – it was the official gin of the 2015 AAM Cowes Week and it is the official Spirits Partner of sailing company Sunsail. I also notice that it pops up in Pork and Gin sausages at O’Hagan’s Sausages in Fishbourne, in sorbets and ice creams at the Sussex Ice Cream Company and is now available in Canada!

Look out for Chilgrove Vodka coming soon and visit the Chilgrove Gin website for more information and cocktail recipes.

Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner

Urbina Rioja

with winemaker Pedro Urbina

Wednesday 14th October 2015

7.15 for a prompt start at 7.30pm

@ Lysses House Hotel
High Street

Tickets £37.50 per person in advance only from Lysses House Hotel T: 01329 822622.

This is one for Rioja-philes! The evening will consist of a 3 course dinner with all courses matched with one of Urbina’s fine Riojas. There will also be a short pre-dinner tutored wine tasting of 5 wines presented by Bodegas Urbina winemaker Pedro Urbina.

Please notify Lysses House Hotel if you have any particular dietary requirements.

Urbina Rioja Winemakers Dinner

Pre Dinner Tasting

Urbina Blanco 2012

Urbina Rosado 2013

Urbina Crianza 2008

Urbina Reserva Especial 2001

Urbina Gran Reserva 1996



Fillet of pan fried cod with chorizo sausage set on a base of buttered spinach and finished with a red wine and cream sauce

Urbina Garnacha 2013


Main Course

Rump of lamb roasted until pink served with a butter bean stew with roasted peppers, courgettes and basil finished with a basil scented sauce

Urbina Seleccion 1999



A selection of Spanish cheeses served with crusty bread and quince jelly

Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994


Coffee and mints


About Urbina Rioja

Bodegas Urbina are a small family-owned Rioja producer with 75 hectares of Urbina Seleccion 1999 Riojavineyards. Established in 1870 the winery and vineyards are located in Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón at the north western edge of the Rioja DOC with some more vineyards located in the heart of the Rioja DOC at Urunuela. All the grapes they use are from their own vineyards, they don’t use any bought in fruit.

Urbina produces a full range of Riojas including white, rosé and a full range of red wines from the young, un-oaked Jovens up to Reservas and Gran Reservas which are aged for years in barrel and bottle. There is a definite Urbina “house style”, the wines tend to be lighter than some more modern styles of Rioja with a lot of red fruit and vanilla character, an almost Burgundian style of Rioja!

Visit the Bodegas Urbina Website and read more at the Fareham Wine Cellar Blog.

Romanian Wines and Lacerta Winery

Time to rediscover Romanian Wines?

Romanian wines do not currently have much of a presence in the UK market and don’t have a great reputation, a hangover from the cheap Romanian wines that were available in UK supermarkets in the 1980s. I remember an abundance of Romanin wines, mainly Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as many Bulgarian and Hungarian wines, that were very affordable, popular wines. Export of Romanian wines was rather stopped in its tracks by the Romanian Revolution of December 1989. This lead to a very serious economic downturn and severe under-investment in the wine industry. Wine farms had been nationalised and, after the fall of communism, it proved almost impossible to find the original owners, many of whom has emigrated or disappeared. The result was a virtual standstill of the Romanian wine industry, let alone any export of Romanian wines. There have been precious few Romanian wines available in the UK since the last century, but now there are some serious wines appearing for sale in the UK once again and the Romanian wine industry is getting itself back on track.

Romania is one of the oldest wine-producing countries, with a history of viticultural history stretching back 6000 years and, I was surprised to learn, one of the world’s largest producers of wine (11th largest in 2009 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency of the United Nations). During the communist era there was much planting of international grape varieties (the usual suspects – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay etc.) but there is also a good selection of indigenous varieties including red grape varieties such as Feteasca Neagra, and Burgund Mare (also known as Blaufraenkisch), and white grape varieties such as Feteasca Alba and Busuioaca de Bohotin.

Romanian Wines & Lacerta Winery

Lacerta Winery is at the forefront of the new wave of quality Romanian wines that are now being produced. Lacerta winery is located approximately 100kms to the north east of Bucharest, some 2 hours drive by car, in Fintesti, Buzau County in the Dealu Mare wine growing region.

Dealu Mare is located in the Muntenia area of Romania and is recognised as being one of the most important wine producing regions in Romania. Lacerta boasts of being situated on the 45th parallel, the same latitude many of the fine wines of Bordeaux and Tuscany. Lacerta Winery is one of the most modern wineries in Romania which was achieved with an impressive 7 million Euro investment.

The company was founded in 2003 by a group of investors headed by Austrian businessman Walter Friedl with the dream of producing some of the best Romanian wines possible. The first vines were planted in 2005, the vineyards now cover some 80 hectares and the first wine was launched in 2011. The ultra-modern winery is almost entirely gravity-fed with minimal use of pumps to move the wine around. The theory behind this is that the handling of the wine is gentler, the wine is not subjected to agitation (and electric fields, which could have an effect on long chain molecules in the wine) and there is less chance for any oxidation to take place. Therefore the wine should remain in a more natural state. There is a high degree of vineyard management (green harvesting) and yields are kept low at around 1kg of grapes per vine. There is also careful sorting of the grapes after harvest at the winery. The wines are aged in a combination of different oak barriques (225L) sourced from France, USA, Russia, Hungary and Romania. The barrels are used for a maximum of three years. Lacerta Winery is targeting production of some 150,000 bottles per year. The winemaker is Mihai Banita.

Lacerta Feteasca Alba, Dealu Mare

This white wine is made from 100% Feteasca Alba an indigenous grape variety to Romania (and Moldova) and Feteasca translates as “maiden” in Romanian, so Feteasca Alba is literally “white maiden”. The grapes come from vineyards with an age of 5 to 8 years old with clay and limestone soils. It is vinified in stainless steel, it undergoes cold maceration for 2 days prior to fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation in tank.

Lacerta Feteasca Alba 1

The wine is a bright, light golden colour with green hints. The aromas on the nose are reminiscent of floral / white blossom notes, citrus and tropical fruit. The palate fresh and citrus-y (grapefruit). A well-balanced wine with good minerality, acidity and a good, clean and crisp finish. Try with salads, white meats, grilled fish, pasta and couscous.

Lacerta Chardonnay Reserva

As mentioned above, Romania has never been shy to use international grape varieties as well as their own indigenous grapes. The Lacerta Chardonnay is a case in point, it is 100% Chardonnay, sourced from the oldest wines on the estate, which are now 10 years old. After harvest the grapes undergo a 2 day period of cold maceration, followed by alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation in tank and then the Lacerta Chardonnay Reserva is aged for 12 months in 225L French oak barriques.

Lacerta Chardonnay Reserva 2

Lacerta Chardonnay Reserva has a golden, yellow colour. The nose has aromas of citrus, tropical notes and hints of vanilla, spice and toasted oak from the oak aging. The palate is full with flavours of melon and pineapple along with more creamy, vanilla character from the barriques. Full, complex wine with well-integrated oak influences and good mouthfeel. Try with richer white meat dishes, seafood or roasted Mediterranean vegetables and spicy couscous.

Lacerta Cuvee IX

The Lacerta Cuvee IX is the estate’s top red wine blend and which consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Blaufraenkisch, Feteasca Neagra and Merlot sourced from vines with an aged of 10 years old. Most will be familiar with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Feteasca Neagra (literally “black maiden”), like the white grape Feteasca Alba from which it is thought to derive, is indigenous to Romania and Moldova. Blaufraenkisch (known elsewhere as Blaufrankisch without an ‘e’) is widely grown across central Europe. It is also known as Burgund Mare in Romania. After harvest the grapes are cold macerated for 2 days prior to alcoholic fermentation. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation in tank prior to 12 months ageing in a combination of French and East European 225L oak barriques.

Lacerta Wines Cuvee IX

Lacerta Cuvee IX has a deep, dark, red colour. The nose is redolent with aromas of dark and red fruits including black cherry, blackberry, plums and damson. The barrique ageing adds spicy (hints of clove), mocha and vanilla character. Although this is a full-bodied red wine it is also soft and quite supple. There is a touch of natural sweetness on the palate. The finish is long and persistant. Lacerta Cuvee IX will be a great match for any red meats, mature cheese and even richer game dishes.

Matching Wine with Pork Pie

Who doesn’t love pork pies? They are little parcels of porky, pastry loveliness and some of the best around are made by local pork pie specialist Jake’s Artisan Foods. I first managed to get my hands on some of Jake’s Pork Pies at the 2014 Vineyards of Hampshire Festival at Jenkyn Place near Bentley. This year the  2015 Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival was held at Hambledon Vineyard and I knew I had to make a bee-line for some of Jake’s Pork Pies as soon as I got there, because they always sell out very quickly.  Jon Kaye is the man behind the pies, an ex-journalist who started out making pork pies as a hobby 6 or 7 years ago. He is based near Petersfield and went full-time in 2013. I highly recommend looking out for his pies at one of the many farmers markets he regularly attends. Visit his website for a list of venues and dates.

Jake's Artisan Pies at Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival at Hambledon Vineyard (19)
Jon Kaye from Jake’s Artisan Foods at Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival 2015

What makes Jake’s Pork Pies so special? Well, everything is done by hand from butchering free-range pork shoulder, grinding spices and seasoning, making the hot water crust pasty, hand-raising the pies and adding (homemade) jelly. As someone who has recently made some pork pies, I know what a time consuming process this all is and the fact that this is all done by hand is amazing. And then you have to get the seasoning right! Jake’s Pork Pies are made with coarsely chopped pork, the seasoning is spot on (I am guessing salt, pepper, some mace or nutmeg and no doubt some secret ingredient!) and the pastry has just the right amount of crispness and flakiness. The filling is flavoursome, porky and succulent with a generous amount of jelly helping to keep it moist, but not too much which I don’t like (but that’s a personal thing).

Jake's Artisan Pies at Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival at Hambledon Vineyard (19)
Jake’s Pork Pies at Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival 2015

Matching Wine with Pork Pie

Jon and I swapped a few emails and he suggested that I should make some suggestions for matching wine with pork pie, which I thought was a very good idea! In terms of matching wine with pork pie I think it is best not to think of pork as a white meat but think of these as something a bit richer. The main ingredients are of, of course, pork and pastry, and they do have quite a high fat content (but not in a bad way!). Considering the fat content of the pork pie, and this applies to pork in general, one needs to aim for a white wine with good acidity to cut through the fat content or a red wine low in tannin, also with good acidity, as tannins tend to clash with fat.

Matching White Wine with Pork Pie

There are two options here, one can either try a fresh and racy white wine to cut through the fat or a fuller, richer wine to complement the richness of flavours. For a fresher style I would perhaps suggest a riesling. Riesling comes in many different styles and they make excellent food wines. A drier, mineral style of Riesling from the Mosel would be a good match and I would recommend something like Dr Loosen Red Slate Dry Riesling. This is a fuller, yet dry, style of Riesling with floral, blossom aromas and flavours of peach, pear and honey on the palate. Importantly it has very good, well-balanced acidity to cut through any fattiness. A good alternative wine match with Pork Pie would be a fresh, zingy wine like the Trapiche Estacion 1883 Torrontes from Mendoza, Argentina with its grapefruit / citrus acidity and grape-y flavours.

As a fuller style of white wine, a good Chardonnay with a nice bit of oak would be a good wine match with Pork Pie. Rather than trying to cut through the fat, it is more about complementing the creamy, buttery character of the pork and pastry. My choice for this would be a rich, buttery barrel-aged Chardonnay such as the Louis Latour Grande Ardeche Chardonnay. This is a Burgundian-style wine made by a Burgundy negociant but in vineyards in the Ardeche, to the west of the Rhone valley. It is a full-bodied, rich white wine with aromas of tropical fruit, toasty oak notes and a full-bodied palate with pear and nutty flavours to complement the richness of a good pork pie. A good alternative to a white Burgundy at a bargain price. However, any good Chardonnay with a dollop of oak should do the trick!

Matching Red Wine with Pork PieCote de Brouilly Caves des Vigneron de Bel-Air

As mentioned above, a matching a red wine with pork pie requires a fruity wine with low tannins and good acidity. Think of some of the traditional natural matches for Charcuterie and cold meats like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, lighter Cote du Rhone or Bordeaux which all fit this profile. There are, of course, plenty of other alternatives from elsewhere around the world but I think it would be best to avoid the sweeter, jammier chewy styles. Unless this is what you like! Food / wine matching is ultimately a personal preference! As a traditional wine match for pork pie you won’t go much wrong with a Beaujolais and I would recommend the Cote de Brouilly from Caves des Vignerons de Bel-Air. This Gamay has plenty of raspberry, floral aromas and flavours with a soft, round and lively finish with nice acidity. Don’t be afraid to pop lighter, fruitier wines such as this in the fridge for 20 minutes or so in the hot, summer months. A good alternative to this would be a juicy, soft Valpolicella and the Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico with its violet, mint, cherry flavours and low acidity would be a great match.

Matching Other Wine With Pork Pie

One other wine match that springs to mind for pork pie would be a Sherry or Madeira, not the sweeter styles, but something dry(ish) with a bit of richness. For a Sherry look for a dry Amontillado or a dry Oloroso such as the Don Jose Oloroso from Sanchez Romate. This is rich with walnut, spicy, okay flavours but has a dry finish and good acidity and will be a great wine match for pork pie without being overpowering.

Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Autumn 2015 Wine Course

Please find below the details for the Autumn 2015 Wine Course starting in September 2015.

Autumn 2015 Wine Course

With Daria Kenefeck

@ Lysses House Hotel

51 High Street Fareham Hampshire PO16 7BQ

Course Code: LHAU1512
Course Length: 12 weeks
Start date: Thursday 17th September 2015
Finish date: Thursday 10th December 2015
Mid term break: Thursday 29th October 2015

Cost: £156.00 per person including wine

Please note that this course is very popular, I advise booking ASAP if you wish to attend.

A message from Daria,

“Please could you let me know by the end of August / first week of September whether you would like to join the course.  Please also note that there is a strict limit of 25 people for the class, so please confirm with me before payment is made.
Payments should be made by BACS to Daria’s Wine Foundation (please email for further details) by 11th September, or cash on the first night.”

Wine Glasses
Daria Kenefeck works at Fareham Wine Cellar and has taught a wine course in the local area for a number of years. There are three wine courses per year running roughly during school term times on a Thursday evening. The wine course involves some wine education followed by a tasting. There are also various themed evenings, the occasional blind tasting and sometimes guest speakers (I have it on good authority there will be a Kendall Jackson Masterclass with Pierre-Marie Pattieu on October 15th).

The classes start at 7.00pm and finish at approximately 9.15pm. If you are interested in attending either the Spring or Summer course please contact Daria at Fareham Wine Cellar, telephone 01329 822733. Or email if you have any further questions.

Please note you will need to bring at least 5 wine tasting glasses and writing implements. Payment must be made at the beginning of the wine course. There is a car park behind the hotel, and should this be full for any reason, there is a public car park opposite which is free after 6.00 pm.The room used for the class is on the first floor, but there is a lift available.

Provisional Dates for the 2016 Wine Course

5 Week Winter Course – 14th January 2016 to 11th February 2016

10 Week Summer Course – 10th March 2016, with a 2-week break over Easter (31st March and 7th April) and finishing on 26th May 2016.