Hampshire Wine Festival

Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival at Jenkyn Place

Sunday 13th July 2014

Last Sunday I made my way to Jenkyn Place Vineyard in the village of Bentley, Hampshire. The Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival is the first event of its kind put on by a group of six award-winning English wine producers who have joined forces to promote Hampshire Wine. The six producers involved are Cottonworth, Danebury Vineyards, Jenkyn Place, Hambledon, Hattingley Valley and Meonhill Wines who were all represented by winemakers, owners and other members of their teams.

Vineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival 2014Jenkyn Place provided a great venue, a marquee (there was only a little rain shower) with super views looking out over their vineyards and on to the surrounding Downs, a hog roast and some live music from local singer / songwriter Martha Paton. The marquee was located right at the end of the rows of vines and it was good to be able to have a close up look at the Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir vines.

I know the Meonhill and Hambledon Vineyard wines quite well but it was good to refresh the memory. The Hambledon Classic Cuvee Brut was brilliant as ever and the Meonhill Chardonnay Brut is a great Blanc de Blancs – fresh, clean and citrus-y with good mineral character. Of the other sparkling wines I tried (and let’s face it Hampshire Wine is going to be all about the sparkling wines) I particularly enjoyed the Cottonworth Blanc de Blancs, Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvee and Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvee. I am afraid I didn’t really take any tasting notes on the day, it was more a social than a working visit, but I look forward to tasting more sparkling Hampshire wine in future – they were all very good.

Hambledon Vineyard atVineyards of Hampshire Wine Festival at Jenkyn PlaceIn association with Hampshire Fare, there were also three or four food stalls including Jake’s Artisan Pies selling organic pork pies, a selection of Hampshire charcuterie from Parsonage Farm and gourmet marshmallows from the Belinda Clark Gourmet Confectionery. Being a more savoury sort of person, I drifted toward the pork pies, which were great, and the charcuterie which included a fantastic fennel and garlic salami. Judging by the fact that both stalls ran out of stock quite early I would say they had a very successful day and, I have to admit, I bought some of each to take home.

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It was a very enjoyable afternoon. I think some exhibitors were surprised by how many people turned up but I think, with the amazing quality of Hampshire wine being produced and this fact filtering out into the mainstream press, the event will only grow from here. I hope all the exhibitors thought it worthwhile – after all at this stage in the growth of Hampshire wine it is vital to get the message to the most people possible, and what better way then getting them to try the wines. More visitors and more pies and charcuterie next time please!

Hampshire Wine Festival 2014

Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc

Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc, Baron Edmond de Rothschild

Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc is a new(ish) joint venture between Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, the owner of Château Clarke and Château des Laurets, as well as co-owner of the fantastic Champagne Barons de Rothschild and Terry Peabody, the owner of Craggy Range. Craggy Range was established by Terry Peabody and Steve Smith MW in 1997 and is one of the most prestigious wineries in New Zealand. Rimapere is the Maori word for “five arrows” which is the Rothschild family emblem and represented the five, entrepreneurial brothers who were the sons of Mayer Amschel Rothschild.

Rimapere Vineyard

The vineyard was acquired by Baron Benjamin de Rothschild in 2012. It consists of some 25 hectares of vines located at very highly regarded sites in Rapaura in the heart of the Marlborough wine-growing region.The village of Rapaura is located to the northwest of Blenheim and the Wairau River flows past it to the north. The vineyards were planted in the early part of the 21st century and the soils are predominantly Omaka Stony Silt Loam soils. The warm climate and stony soils help to produce citrus-y lemon and grapefruit character and crisp acidity and mineral characters.

Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Note

Pale golden yellow colour with some green hints. The intense nose has aromas of lemon, grapefruit and some green, gooseberry capsicum notes. The wine is quite mineral and shows great balance and freshness on the palate with good levels of acidity. A great food wine.

Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, Baron Edmond de RothschildPurchase Rimapere Sauvignon Blanc here.

Wine and Chocolate Pairing

Wine and Chocolate – a match made in heaven?

Matching wine and chocolate is a tricky thing to get right and it is not something that I have had a lot of experience with. However a new, local chocolatier was recently kind enough to give us some samples of his chocolates which got me thinking about wine and chocolate pairings. There are lots of variables to take into account – where the chocolate is sourced from, the percentage of cocoa solids, the recipe for the ganache and any flavourings used. I don’t intend to go into too much detail but think of this as a very basic guide to matching wine and chocolate.

About Winchester Cocoa Company

As I was saying, we have a new local chocolate company. Winchester Cocoa Company was founded by Chris Attewell and is based, you guessed it, in Winchester, Hampshire. I first met when Chris when he was trying to source some blackberry liqueur and tawny Port for making his chocolates he found Edmond Briottet Creme de Mure and Niepoort 10 Year Old (and Senior Tawny) Port on our website. Chris uses mainly local ingredients including fresh cream from a herd of Guernsey cows near Winchester, Summerdown Hampshire mint oil, teas from Char Teas in Winchester and Sloe Gin from the Wiltshire Liqueur Company. Obviously there are no cacao beans grown outside of the tropics, so chocolate is bought from from a Swiss company, called Felchlin, that sources all their cacao beans via “direct trade”, a policy that Chris describes as “one step up from Fairtrade”. This basically means that the suppliers are in direct contact with the cacao farmers and their agents and have maximum input into the quality of the product, issues of sustainability whilst all the time ensuring that the farmers receive fair prices for their crops.

Chocolates from Winchester CocoA Company

Winchester Cocoa Company Chocolates 1You can keep up to date with Chris at Twitter @chris_attewell. I will update this with his contact details at a later date! You will find my suggestions for matching Chris’ chocolates with wine and some general rules below. The Winchester Cocoa Company website is now live.

Basic Rules for Matching Wine and Chocolate

The main basic rule is that dry wines do not go with chocolate. However, the darker the chocolate, the more bitter and less sweet it will be and the better chance you will have of pairing the chocolate with a wine. Even so, if you are looking for a wine and chocolate match you will need a red wine at the sweeter end of the spectrum like an Amarone, sweetish Shiraz or something sweet and red (Merlot or Zinfandel) from California. The use of ganache (chocolate and cream mixed) provides a bit of fat content and can make a wine and chocolate pairing bit easier to come up with.

Dry wines will not work!

The best wine and chocolate matches can be found with dessert wines – this is because they are usually flavoursome enough and sweet enough to stand up to the sugar content of the chocolate (or chocolate dessert). To help pair dessert wine and chocolate, the best thing is to think of what fruit, dried fruit, nut or caramel goes well with chocolate and try and find these characteristics in the the dessert wines themselves.


1. Red fruits – rapsberries, plums, cherries.

You can find plenty of red fruit character in all sorts of red dessert wines – think Port (young LBV or Vintage), Maury, Banyuls, Aleatico and Recioto from Italy or Black Muscat from California. Don’t forget things like cherry brandy, Umeshu (a plum infused Sake) or sparkling shiraz which tends to have a good bit of sweetness to it.


2. Dried fruit and nuts – raisins, prunes, walnut.

These sort of flavours and aromas can be found in slightly oxidative dessert wines, those that have been aged in barrel for a period. Think sherries like Pedro Ximenez, Cream or a sweeter Amontillado but avoid the dryer styles. These nutty, caramel characteristics can also be found in Italy’s Vin Santo wines, Tawny Ports (and South African and Australian lookalikes) and Rutherglen Muscat.Niepoort 10 Year Old Tawny Port


3. Nutty and Caramel / Toffee notes.

These tend to be found again in barrel aged dessert wines like aged Tawny Ports, Sherry and Madeiras – more so in older examples.

Wine and Chocolate from the Winchester Cocoa Company

Here are my suggestions for some of Chris’ chocolates.

Sea Salt Liquid Caramel – A caramel made with fresh cream, butter, bourbon vanilla and Cornish sea salt – the salty / butterscotch flavours would match best with a sweet, white dessert wine, a lighter style with citrus notes and good acidity such as the Seifried Winemakers Collection Sweet Agnes Riesling  or go for something a bit more complementary like a Pedro Ximenez Sherry or Medium sweet or rich Madeira. Alternative: Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro, Vino de Licor.Quady Elysium Black Muscat Red Dessert Wine

Raspberry, Lime and Mint – Raspberry jelly on a dark ganache flavoured with lime zest and Summerdown Hampshire Mint Oil – the mint is a tricky flavour to match with wine, but it was not overpowering. The raspberry and dark chocolate ganache are crying out for a sweet red dessert wine, consensus was the Quady Elysium from California would be a great match with its own raspberry and red fruit character. Alternative: Banyuls or Maury.

Pear and Spiced Port – Pear and vanilla jelly on a dark ganache flavoured with tawny port and delicately infused with spices – naturally I would match the Niepoort 10 Year Old Tawny Port (or Niepoort Senior Port) to emphasis the Port characters in the chocolate. Tawny put is often overlooked as a dessert wine but it is a great match for all sorts of chocolates, pudding and blue cheese! Alternative: Rutherglen Muscat.

Blackcurrant and Sloe Gin – Blackcurrant jelly on a dark ganache flavoured with Sloe Gin from the Wiltshire Liqueur Company – the gin flavours are a tricky match, so why not try this with some Sloe Gin itself. Alternatively something big, sweet and chunky would stand up to the gin and blackcurrant and we thought that, in this case a wine might work, perhaps the Tedeschi Amarone would work well. Aternative: Mas Amiel Vintage Maury AOC, Vin Doux Naturel 16.5%

Blackberry – Blackberry fruit and liqueur coulis on 72% dark chocolate ganache – this is the chocolate flavoured with Edmond Briottet Creme de Mure (blackberry liqueur) and would be great with a small glass of that. Alternatively this needs a sweet red wine or perhaps an Port, perhaps the Cline Late Harvest Mourvedre or a Ruby style Port this time (more red and black fruit character than a Tawny Port). Alternative: Niepoort Crusted Port (bottled 2011)

Raspberry – Dark Madagascan chocolate ganache flavoured with fresh raspberry puree – I think I would match this chocolate with the Quady Elysium again, for similar reasons to the Raspberry, Lime and Mint chocolate above.

Gooseberry and Elderflower – a gooseberry fruit coulis above a milk chocolate ganache flavoured with St Germain elderflower liqueur – there is a lot going on here but I think that the white fruit flavours and the milk chocolate ganache make this an ideal candidate for matching with a white wine, and we thought this would actually match well with a German Spatlese such as the Leitz Rudesheimer Magdalenenkreuz Riesling Spatlese the floral character and a hint of sweetness should be quite complementary. Another thing that might actually work well here would be a sweet sparkling, maybe a Demi-Sec Champagne or Moscato d’Asti.

Sour Cherry and Pistachio – A morello cherry ganache above a pistachio and almond marzipan – so there are fruity and almond flavours in this chocolate. The cherry flavour was quite dominant and this would actually be great with some Cherry Heering or other cherry brandy. If I have to pick a dessert wine match for this chocolate it would be a Tawny Port to complement the nutty marzipan, probably the Niepoort Senior as before. Alternative: Grant Burge 10 Year Old Tawny, Barossa ValleyBarbeito Rainwater Madeira Reserva Medium Dry

Chai Vanilla – Milk chocolate ganache infused with bourbon vanilla and chai tea blend from Char Teas in Winchester – this was perhaps the favourite chocolate of the tasting, there are plenty of spicy cinnamon, ginger, pepper and other spices in here which I think would be great with a medium sweet Madeira with citrus, nutty and spicy notes, the Barbeito Rainwater Reserva Madeira Meio Seco (Medium Dry) would be a great match for this. Alternative:

Almond and Hazelnut Crunch – Almond and hazelnut milk chocolate praline with nut pieces and crunchy feuilletine wafers – probably my second favourite after the Chai Vanilla. This nutty confection really needs something equally nutty to stand up to it. I think this would be a great match with the Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Vin Santo with it slightly oxidised, nutty, raisined flavours or a good cream Sherry or Tawny Port. Alternative: La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti DOCG Bricco Quaglia

The main thing to remember is that no-one is right or wrong, but I hope these wine and chocolate pairings will give you some ideas. Perhaps do some experimenting of your own!

Portfolio Wine Tasting 2014

Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2014

Please click the link below to download the tasting brochure in PDF format.

Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Tasting Brochure 2014

You may or may not know that, at Fareham Wine Cellar, we hold a Portfolio wine tasting every other year – the good news is that it is this year and we are holding it on Wednesday October 22nd 2014.

Tickets are now available now at Fareham Wine Cellar. T: 01329 822733.

Please find the current details I have for details of the portfolio wine tasting below. I will add more details as we finalise them. There will be well over 150 wines and spirits available for tasting.

You can see some photos from 2012’s Portfolio Wine Tasting here.

I will update this as and when I can.

Fareham Wine Cellar
Portfolio Wine Tasting

Wednesday 22th October 2014
2.00pm until 7.30pm  

@ Lysses House Hotel
51 High Street, Fareham

Tickets £12.50 in advance only

Clive Wright, the chef at Lysses House Hotel, will produce a three course dinner menu for attendees of the portfolio wine tasting that wish to eat at Lysses House Hotel as he has in previous years. Details after the list of exhibitors below.


List of Exhibitors at Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2014


J B Audy – Nadège Sabras

J B Audy are owners of various Chateaux and Bordeaux shippers and negociants.

Awin Barrett and Siegel – Andrea Bulcock

Dr Loosen and Leitz from Germany, Simon Hackett, Philip Shaw and Walter Clappis from Australia, Jordan Estate from South Africa.

Berkmann Wine Cellars – Julian Rigotti

Selected Italian wines from Antinori and Masi, Lapostolle in Chile and many more.

Burridges of Arlington Street – Edward Burridge, Teresa Burridge and Pedro Urbina

A visit to the UK from Pedro Urbina of Urbina Rioja. A range of Spanish wines including Bodegas Tobelos, and Marius from Bodegas Piquera.

Champagne Forget Brimont – Eva Schubert

The full range of Champagne available from Forget Brimont.

Chateau de Cros – Julien Noel

A small, family-owned estate Loupiac which makes some fantastic dessert wines as well as Cote de Cadillac, Graves and Bordeaux AC.

Compass Box Whisky – Chris Maybin

Fine blended whiskies and blended malt whiskies from this interesting, small company with a unique perspective on whisky.

Domaine Jones – Katie Jones

Superb wines from the south of France including Katie’s Domaine Jones Red and White and her Fitou.

Eaux de Vie / Marussia Beverages – Scott Paine

Fine Spirit purveyors of Cognac, Armagnac, Spanish Brandy, whiskies from around the world (South Africa, Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, USA), and micro-distillerie gins and vodkas amongst other things.

J E Fells – Matthew Nutt

Symington Ports, Marc Bredif, Torres Family Wines from Spain, Chile and California, Guigal from France.

Hambledon Vineyard – Phil Kellett and Steve Lowrie

A full range of Hampshire Sparkling wines including Hambledon Vineyard, Mill Down and Meonhill.

Hatch Mansfield – James Wilson

Champagne Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Grant Burge, Villa Maria, Esk Valley.

Louis Latour – Richard Oldman

Not just Louis Latour wines – Craggy Range, Wakefield and others!

Maisons Marques et Domaines – Adam Baggott

Champagne Louis Roederer, Meerlust from Stellenbosch, Ramos Pinto from the Douro et al.

Moet Hennessy – Derek Langton

Famous names include Terrazas de Los Andes, Scotch from Glenmorangie and Ardbeg, Cape Mentelle and Champagne

Raymond Reynolds Ltd – Raymond Reynolds

Raymond is the UK’s number 1 supplier of Portuguese wines – Ports and wines from Niepoort, Madeira from Barbeito and wines from Luis Pato, Quinta das Maias, Quinta dos Roques and many more.


Lysses House Hotel Details and Post Wine Tasting Dinner Menu

£26.00 per person

To book a table, or if you have any further questions, please contact Lysses House on 01329 822622. Details below.

To Start

Pea and mint soup served with crispy croutons

A pulled pork terrine flavoured with star anise served with our own
chutney and olive oil toasts

Thinly sliced gravelax of salmon marinaded with beetroot
served with a lemon scented crème fraiche

Loosehanger mild goats cheese salad with sun blush tomatoes, crispy croutons,
toasted pine nuts and a honey and seed mustard dressing

Roast onion, pear and Stilton tart served with a tomato salsa

To Follow

Chicken breast roasted with a thyme scented butter set on a base of mashed potato wilted greens finished with a red wine and thyme sauce and Parmesan crackling

Fillet of cod wrapped in Parma ham baked in the oven, set on base of
crushed new potatoes flavoured with seed mustard served
with pan fried leeks and finished with a dill and cream sauce

Rump of lamb roasted until pink set on sweet potato purée served with
sugar snap peas and finished with a red wine and basil sauce

Pork tenderloin roasted in the oven served with sautéed potatoes,
and a wild mushroom, shallot, flat parsley and cream sauce

Beetroot flavoured risotto with roasted root vegetable topped with
deep fried parsnip crisps and a chive butter sauce

To Finish

Passion fruit curd tart topped with meringue

Banana Eton mess with whipped cream, nut brittle and finished with a fudge sauce

A fruit and nut flavoured milk chocolate brulée served with a crisp gingerbread biscuit

Sticky toffee pudding served with fudge sauce and ginger ice cream

Iced rhubarb parfait served with a coconut tuille biscuit

A selection of cheese and biscuits

Coffee and petit fours

The contact details for Lysses House Hotel, which is located three doors down from The Fareham Wine Cellar, are,

Lysses House Hotel & Richmond Restaurant
51 High Street
Hampshire PO16 7BQ, UK

T: 01329 822622
E: lysses@lysses.co.uk

Jack Ratt Cider

Cider from the Lyme Bay Cider Co

We have recently decided to get into the swing of things and break our old rule of no ciders or beers for sale at Fareham Wine Cellar. Recently we have been supplying some fruit wine from Lyme Bay Winery and, noticing some ciders on their winelist, we decided to give the Jack Ratt Scrumpy Cider and Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider a go in the shop.

The Lyme Bay Winery

The Lyme Bay Winery is located in Axminster, Devon and is named after the stretch of English coastline between Portland and Start Bay easy to west. The area around Lyme Bay is part of a World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, named for its Jurassic geology.

Jack Ratt Cider

Cider production at Lyme Bay is a careful mix of traditional methods and attitudes and modern equipment and production techniques to produce the best cider possible. Jack Ratt Cider is made using only the freshly pressed juice of locally grown, traditional cider apple varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill.

Lyme Bay Cider is named Jack Ratt Cider after a famous 18th Century local smuggler called Jack Rattenbury who was known as the “Rob Roy of the West”. After a life at sea as a fisherman, pilot, seaman and smuggler, Rattenbury wrote the book Memoirs of s Smuggler.

Jack Ratt CiderJack Ratt Scrumpy Cider

The award-winning Scrumpy is a still, medium-bodied dry filtered cider bottled at 6%. It has a good, clear, orange-gold colour. On the nose there are tart apple notes with a hint of creaminess. The palate is tangy, with green apple and slight vanilla notes. Long, dryish finish. Drink with some mature hard cheeses like Sussex Charmer or Keen’s Cheddar.

Awarded Two-Star Gold at The Great Taste Awards
Awarded Silver at the ‘Taste of the West Awards’ 2012
Awarded Three-Star Gold at the Great Taste Awards 2009

Jack Ratt Vintage Dry Cider 2013

The Vintage Dry Jack Ratt Cider is a full bodied (fuller than the scrumpy), still, filtered cider bottles at 7.4%. It is a darker gold colour. The nose has apple notes with slight woody notes. The palate has good texture, with nice acidity, spicy notes and a good clean apple-y, mineral finish. Refreshing, dry finish. Try with a bowl of Moules Mariniere.

Awarded Three-Star Gold at the Great Taste Awards 2012

Jack Ratt Cider is suitable for Vegans.


Tobelos Rioja

Tobelos Bodegas y Vinedos

Bodegas Tobelos is a relatively new wine project in Rioja which was founded in late 1999 through the hard work and vision of current manager Ricardo Reinoso. Reinoso, who has many years’ experience in managing wineries in the Rioja Denominacion de Origen, brought together investors from around the world who shared his same ideals and wished to create a top quality Rioja wine. Tobelos was initially named “La Encina” (as it was when I visited it many years ago!),

Tobelos has a magnificent, minimalistic, modern winery located at Brinas, the gateway to La Rioja. The winery overlooks the Ebro River and is located at the base of the Sierra Cantabria and Obarenes mountains – see the map below. The winery itself is partly set into a hillside and is the very first winery a visitor to Rioja DOC, approaching from the north-east, arrives at. Tobelos sources it grapes from a number of contracted growers with many small plots, totalling around 15 hectares, with an average vine age of 20 years old. Many of these plots are at the top limit of altitude for grape growing. Tobelos also own their own, older vineyards (some 3 hectares) surrounding the winery called Mocotero and Los Quinones. Illustrious neighbours in the locality include Roda, Muga and CUNE. The winery was completed in 2003 however the 2002 vintage was the first to be made at and released from the winery!

Winemaking at Tobelos

Although Tobelos has a very modern looking winery, their approach to wine-making is quite traditional. Starting in the vineyards, which are maintained by hand, grapes are hand-harvested into 25kg boxes prior to sorting at the winery and de-stemming. The wine is fermented partly in cone-shaped stainless steel vats, with automatic pumping over, and partly in wooden vats. Some of the wines are allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation. The winery is partly gravity fed (like our favourite local sparkling winery, Hambledon Vineyard) and the wine makes its way, under gravity, to epoxy-lined concrete storage vats on the bottom level of the winery. The barrel ageing hall is split over two levels where the wines quietly sit and age in a mixture of American, French and central European oak barrels. The barrels are rotated over a 4 to 5 period as new ones are bought in.

Tobelos produce a small range of wines consisting of 1 white wine and 4 red wines, we stock the following 2 red wines. Buy Tobelos wines online at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Tobelos CrianzaTobelos Crianza Rioja DOC

Grapes for the Tobelos Crianza are sourced from vineyards with an average age of 25 years old at the foot of the Sierra de Cantabria in the villages of Brinas, Haro and San Vicente de la Sonsierra. It is made from 100% Tempranillo with a 9 day fermentation, twice daily pumping over and a maceration period of 20 days on the skins. The wine is aged in a combination of 35% American, 60% French and 5% central European oak for 13 months. Production is around 200,000 bottles per vintage.

Tobelos Crianza is a combination of modern and classic Rioja. It has a good, clear dark cherry red colour. It has a powerful with aromas of red fruit, cherries, kirsch, cocoa, spices and a good hint of vanilla oakiness. The palate is well-balanced and shows mature character. Big and ripe, but velvety soft and smooth with good persistent length. Great with stews, rice dishes, game or poultry.

Tahon de Tobelos ReservaTahon de Tobelos Rioja DOC Label

The grapes for this Tahon de Tobelos come from Tobelos’ own vineyards between the villages of Brinas and San Vincente which have an average age of 55 years. Grapes are hand-harvested and destemmed prior to a 9 day fermentation, twice daily pumping over but this time with a maceration period of 22 days on the skins. The wine also undergoes malolactic fermentation in new oak casks. The wine is aged, like the Crianza, in a combination of American, French and Hungarian oak for 13 months. Production 32,000 bottle per vintage.

Tahon de Tobelos It has a bright garnet / red colour. The complex nose shows aromas of black and red berry fruit, slight balsamic notes, confit fruit and mineral notes. The palate is full and complex with lots of ripe, red and black fruit character (plums, damson, blackberries), integrated oak, cocoa, vanilla and a long, spicy finish. Try with game, red meats and semi-cured cheeses.

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario

 Ron Zacapa XO Centenario RumRon Zacapa XO Centenario

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario was created in 1976 to celebrate the the centenary of the town of Zacapa in eastern Guatemala. It is a blend of rums aged from 6 to 25 years and,  after blending, the rum is finished in French oak barrels that have previously been used to age Cognac brandy. It is one of the very best Gautemalan rums.

The flagship Rum in Zacapa’s range goes through a solera system (a fractional ageing process made famous in Sherry and in the production of some Brandy de Jerez). Zacapa rum is aged at 2300m above sea level in the highlands of Quetzelaltenango – this is one of the highest ageing facilities in the world and the cooler temperature and lower pressure of high altitude allows the rum to develop slower and gain more complexity then it would at lower, warmer altitudes.

The Solera system at Ron Zacapa is based on the Sherry system but Zacapa’s “Sistem Solera” involves blending rums of various ages in casks that once held American Bourbon whiskey, light and floral Sherries as well as the sweet dessert sherry, Pedro Ximenez. The story of Zacapa starts at 350 metres above sea level where sugar cane is cultivated on the fertile, volcanic plains of Retalhuleu. Whereas most rums are made from the distillation of molasses (a by-product of sugar production), Zacapa uses only the concentrated first press of sugar cane, known as virgin sugar cane honey – the use of sugar cane juice is common in French speaking rum producing countries where rums produced from it are known as Rhum Agricole. Fermentation is started using a strain of yeast derived from pineapples called Sachharomyces cerevisiae that produces the particular aromatic character that Zacapa require. Rums are distilled in a copper-lined single colum still.

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario Tasting Notes (from the Ron Zacapa Website)

Ron Zacapa XO Centenario has a good mahogany colour with intense red hints of long barrel ageing at the rim and long, slow legs. It has a very open nose with a wealth of aromas that seem to evolve each time you nose the glass; a great balance of mature toasted oak, burnt caramel, dry-roasted nuts, marzipan and orange peel; a delicate floral note of honeysuckle in the background. The palate is a wonderfully complex and satisfying balance of sweetness, fruit, spice and spirit, all tempered by the extra ageing stage in ex-cognac French oak barrels; long, smooth and sweet with a weight of dark cherry chocolate and flavours of intense dried fruits like sultana, date and prune; sweet oak spices of clove, vanilla and cinnamon, and lighter notes of dried mango and raspberry, with a subtle hint of ginger to finish.

Ron Millonario XO Rum

We also sell another couple of Rums, this time from Peru that go through the Solera system – Ron Millonario Solera 15 Year Old Reserva Especial and Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial.

Williams Chase Rose

Williams Chase Rosé

Most of you will be familiar with the name Williams Chase from their fantastic Gins and Vodkas made in Herefordshire (the Chase Marmalade Vodka is a particular favourite – try it with some tonic, ice and a slice of orange). Did you know that the Chase family also make wine? In fact, they have just released their first wine in the UK – Williams Chase Rosé.

Williams Chase Rose and Vinolok ClosureWilliams Chase Rose

The owners of Chase Distillery, William and his wife Katie, recently purchased a wine estate in Provence called Chateau Constantin. The estate is located in the commune of Lourmarin 20 minutes to the north of Aix-en-Provence in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region – you may recognise the name of the village, it is where the author Peter Mayle lived and set his book “A Year in Provence”.



The vineyards at Chateau Constantin, now known as Chateau Constantin Chase, cover some 20 hectares with most of the vines being planted in the 1960s. Williams Chase Rose 2013 is a blend of Rhone-type grape varieties and is a 60% Grenache, 30% Syrah and 10% Rousanne. After the grapes are destalked and pressed the must undergoes a short period of cold maceration on the skins for 24 hours at 5˚C – it is this that gives the wine its delicate pink colour. The wine then undergoes a temperature controlled fermentation below 17˚C followed by ageing on the lees for several months prior to bottling. The lees ageing adds complexity and helps to develop the delicate flavours and aromas. I understand that this is just the first of a range of wines from Williams Chase so I suspect a red and a white will follow in due course. Williams Chase Rose is bottled as a Luberon Appellation Protégée.

Williams Chase Rose is presented in a very smart, elegant bottle that matches the the Willams Chase Vodka and Gin bottles. One item of note is the closure – the wine is sealed with a Vinolok closure. Williams Chase Rose and Vinolok Closure 2The Vinolok is a 100% inert crystal stopper with a plastic seal that has been available for a number of years. I think the Vinolok is great for white and rosé wines that are supposed to be drunk whilst they are young and fresh and one can guarantee the wine will not be corked. The Vinolok hasn’t really caught on with wine producers as much as it could have done and I suppose this is a combination of cheaper alternatives (DIAM corks, Stelvin and screwcap closures) and the fact that most wine producers are, in essence, fairly conservative. The overall presentation is very attractive and Williams Chase actively encourage re-using their bottles and closures for all sort of things such bottling homemade damson or sloe gin or sauces and salad dressings.

Willams Chase Rose

Tasting Notes: Williams Chase Rose 2013 has a good, clear, delicate salmon pink colour. The nose is dominated by sweet red fruit including strawberries (reminiscent of tinned strawberries) with creamy notes (typical of lees ageing) alongside some herbaceous and good mineral notes. The palate is quite full with more strawberry flavours, redcurrant and red apple notes. It has a very good creamy mouthfeel and a well-balanced crisp, dry, clean finish. Surprisingly complex! Williams Chase Rose would be great as an aperitif, with salads, cous cous, Mediterranean vegetables or just on its own on a sunny day in the garden.


Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Brut Launched

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Brut is the first release of English Sparkling Wine from Hambledon Vineyard (although they have already released a small amount of the second label called Mill Down Brut). Hambledon Vineyard is England’s oldest commercial vineyard and is just starting to release their superb sparkling wine after a number of years of investment, vineyard planting and the building of a 100% gravity flow winery.

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Brut 4

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Brut

Hambledon Vineyard is a very serious and ambitious winery and they are targeting sales of 1 million bottles per annum within 10 years, something that owner and MD Ian Kellett believes that only 5 English wineries will be capable of. With this in mind, Hambledon have recently acquired 16 hectares of vineyards including 4.5 hectares from neighbouring vineyard Meonhill (and their reserve stocks of wine). Meonhill is co-owned by Champenoise Didier Pierson who, as well as overseeing Meonhill, has a consulting role at Hambledon, and also makes the fantastic Champagne Pierson Whitaker back home in Avizes.

Hambledon Vineyard wines are available to buy at Fareham Wine Cellar.

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Brut

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee BrutHambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee Tasting Notes

Aromas of fresh sourdough, magnolia and lily scents which mingle with a hint of smoke over a core of greengage, red plums and dessert apples. The palate is vivid, almost vibrantly crunchy with precise, structured yet ripe acidity. It is linear, dense and long with momentum and power that bodes well for the future. This wine has energy and latent tension that will unfold to reveal layers of floral and stone fruit aromas and a rich palate with great length.

The grapes for this wine are all estate-grown from vineyards on the South East facing chalky slopes of Windmill Hill in the village of Hambledon. The grapes are all hand-picked and undergo a double selection for quality – once in in the vineyard and once before pressing. The assemblage is 70% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir and the first release is a blend of wines from the 2011 vintage (30%) and some tank aged reserve wines from the 2010 vintage (70%). A small percentage of the 2011 wines (2-3%) was fermented in French oak barrels. The wine is fermented in stainless steel vats and is then left to settle for 6 months prior to blending with the reserve wines and bottling. Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvee is aged for 20 months in their cellars dug into the chalk downs prior to disgorgement, dosage et al. The dosage for this wine is 8g/L.

A great food wine match for seafood, especially sautéed prawns and oysters. It is also a fantastic match for a mature Stilton cheese and air dried ham.

For more information and photographs of Hambledon Vineyard please visit my blog.

Compass Box Whisky Tasting 16th April 2014

Compass Box Whisky Tutored Tasting

With Chris Maybin
Wednesday 16th April 2014
@ Lysses House Hotel, Fareham PO16 7BQ

On Wednesday 16th 2014 Chris Maybin from Compass Box Whisky kindly ventured out into the wilds of Hampshire to host a tasting of Compass Box Whiskies including their blended whisky, the Great King Street, their full Signature range and the “odd uncle” – a Scotch Whisky infusion called Orangerie. The tasting was well attended and everyone seemed to have had a good time, judging by comments received and tweets flying around! It was a very interesting and useful tasting – Chris gave a very good introduction to whisky and it various types, which I found very useful as a general refresher course, before moving on to the Compass Box whiskies themselves.

Looking back at my notes, a few things stick in mind from the evening.

Compass Box Gift Set

Compass Box Whisky Gift Set showing the colours of the different whiskies

1. All the Compass Box Whiskies have an average age of 10 to 12 years old apart from the Hedonism which has an average of 20 years old.

2. About 99% of whisky has caramel colouring added to it. The Compass Box whiskies are relatively pale because they have no colouring added. Obviously various barrels do add colour depending on the char or what their previous contents were but colouring is used because there is a psychological association that darker whisky is better and older. For example the Compass Box Hedonism is a light, pale golden colour but has an average age of over 20 years old.

3. The Compass Box Peat Monster has changed since I last tried it which, I admit, is

Chris Maybin from Compass Box Whisky

Chris Maybin juicing limes for the Mamie Taylor cocktail

going back a few years. It is now peatier than ever and the lead malt whisky is Laphroaig (it is a blend of Laphroaig 50%, Ledaig 30% and Ardmore 20%). From memory I think the lead malt used to be Caol Ila. I enjoyed this very much. Perhaps my favourite whisky of the evening.

4. The two most popular whiskies of the evening, in terms of bottles sold and a show of hands, were the Spice Tree and Hedonism.

5. The category Scotch Whisky Infusion was created for the Compass Box Orangerie – it is not a Whisky Liqueur because there is no sugar added. It is a blended whisky (perhaps Asyla) macerated with orange zest, cloves and cassia bark.

6. The Spice Tree and the Oak Cross are the same whisky with different oak ageing regimes. They are both a blend of three Highland malts – 60% Clynelish, 20% Dailuaine and 20% Teaninich. The Oak Cross is aged in a mix of first-fill Bourbon barrels and Compass Box Whisky’s prorietary “oak cross” barrels – casks made of American and new French oak heads – for around 6 months. The Spice Tree is aged in “oak cross” barrels with toasted new French oak heads (sourced from 195 year-old Vosges forests) for up to two and a half years.

7. The Mamie Taylor is a very nice cocktail!

Mamie Taylor Cocktail Recipe

2 oz. Compass Box Great King Street Artist’s Blend
Juice from half a lime (about half an oz.)
4 oz. Ginger Beer (Fever Tree is very good)

Squeeze the juice from half a lime into a highball glass half-filled with ice. Add the whisky and top with a good quality ginger beer. Stir briefly and garnish with some lime zest. One can also add a couple of drops of Angostura Bitters. The Mamie Taylor is named after an American actress, who is said to have invented the drink,  and was a very popular from the early part of the 20th century and predates its Soviet cousin, the Moscow Mule, by some 65 years!

Thanks, again, to Chris Maybin for a very enjoyable evening!


Related Compass Box Whisky Posts

Compass Box Whisky Tasting
Compass Box The Peat Monster

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