Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2016

Fareham Wine Cellar is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2016 and, rather fortunately, this coincides with our biennial Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting!

All of our key wine and spirit suppliers will be in attendance and there will be well over 150+ wines and spirits available for tasting.

Fareham Wine Cellar Portfolio Wine Tasting 2016

Wednesday 19th October 2016

2pm until 7.30pm

@ Lysses House Hotel
51 High Street, Fareham PO16 7BQ

Tickets £12.50 per person – now available from Fareham Wine Cellar

In advance only.

If you are feeling a bit hungry after trying all these wines, Chef Clive Wright from Lysses House Hotel has prepared a special menu for anyone who want to have a meal afterwards. You will find the menu at the bottom of this post.

If you wish to book a table in the restaurant afterwards, please do so with Lysses House Hotel T: 01329 822622


Our Portfolio Wine Tasting is a great opportunity to try all sorts of wines and spirits as well as meet some of the winemakers and producers that we work closely with.

List of Exhibitors (confirmed as of 28/08/16).

Awin Barrett Siegel – Andrea Bulcock will be in attendance and showing wines from Jordan Estate (South Africa), Simon Hackett’s fantastic wines from Australia and Dr Loosen amongst others.

Berkmann Wine Cellar – Laurent Bergmann will be showing wines from Lapostolle Chile, a selection of Italian wines and Cottonworth Hampshire Sparkling Wines. Laurent will also be joined Hugh Liddell from Cottonworth Wines.

Bodegas UrbinaPedro Urbina of Bodegas Urbina will be in attendance with his UK agents, Burridges (see below) – superb, family-owned, traditional Riojas.

Burridges of Arlington StreetTeresa Burridge will be in attendance, their family-owned business is a specialist Spanish Wine importers. As well as Pedro Urbina’s wines, they will be showing some other fantastic Spanish wines from various wine regions.

Cellar Trends LtdIan Robinson from Cellar Trends will also be in attendence and will be showing various spirits including Pussers and Botran Rum, Beluga Vodka, Douglas Laing whiskies, Japanese whiskies from Akashi and Togouchi. Ian will also have some new spiced rum from Bumbu, London No 1 Gin and Casamigos Reposado (George Clooney’s tequila).

Chateau Caroline and Chateau Lestage – Caroline Chanfreau-Philippon owns and manages two fantastic Chateaux in Bordeaux with her brother Jean Chanfreau-Fonréaud. Caroline will be showing wines from their two estates, Chateau Caroline in Moulis and Chateau Lestage in Listrac.

Domaine Jones – owner and winemaker Katie Jones will be showing some of her fantastic southern French red and white wines.

Eaux de Vie (Marussia Beverages) – Scott Paine will be showing a range excellent spirits from small, artisanal producers including Teeling Irish Whiskey, Compass Box Whisky, Swedish whisky from Mackmyra, rums from Doorlys and Mezan, Fifty Pounds Gin as well as Cognac, Armagnac and a few other bits and pieces!

Hambledon Vineyard – Hambledon Vineyard will be presenting some of Hampshire’s finest sparkling wines including their Classic Cuvée, Premiere Cuvée and, hopefully by then, their new Rosé.

Hatch Mansfield – James Wilson of Hatch represents wineries including Champagne Taittinger, Louis Jadot, Siefried and Esk Valley from New Zealand, Robert Oatley Vineyards, Caliterra and Errazuriz.

Jean Baptiste Audy – Nadège Sabras represents, Bordeaux negociant and Chateau owner, J B Audy in the UK. She will be showing a range of their wines including Chateau de Courlat, Chateau La Rose de Palenne, Chateau David Beaulieu and Chateau La Croix de Duc amongst others.

John E Fells –  Matthew Nutt will be showing wines from Torres Spain, Miguel Torres, La Crema, Symington Family wines and Ports (including Graham 1997 Vintage Port), Te Mata and many more. He will also be showing Champagne Henriot.

Louis Latour Agenices – Guy Nightingale will be showing not just Louis Latour wines but also wines from Champagne Gosset, Wakefield Wines, some fantastic new wines from Seresin Estate in New Zealand and Cognac Frapin.

Moet Hennessy UK – Derek Langton will be showing various wines and spirits owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) including Terrazas de los Andes, Cape Mentelle, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Numanthia, Veuve Cliquot, Moet Chandon, Ruinart and Cloudy Bay, including the new 2016 Sauvignon Blanc if it arrives in time.

Orion Wines – Elena Ciurletti is the export manager for Orion wines and she will be presenting a range of Italian wines from across Italy including Tannu, Zensa, Castello della Rosa and Pehhcora.

Raymond Reynolds Ltd – Raymond Reynolds is the premier importer of Portuguese wines into the UK and will be showing some excellent Portuguese wines, Ports and Madeira (including Niepoort and Barbeito).


Lysses Dinner Menu

Wednesday 19th October 2016

£27.95 per person

Please book with Lysses House Hotel

To Start

Roasted butternut squash soup served with crispy croutons

A red onion and mushroom tartlet glazed with  lightly smoked cheese
served warm with a selection of lettuce leaves

Niçoise salad with tuna pan fried until pink finished with an olive oil dressing

To Follow

A leek, mushroom and ricotta cheese strudel served with a
lemon and dill butter sauce

Pan fried fillet of salmon set on base of cauliflower purée, red onion
confit and dauphinoise potatoes finished with a chive and white wine sauce

Lamb rump cooked until pink served with potato rosti, roasted shallots, red
and yellow pepper finished with a rich red wine sauce

Served with a selection of freshly cooked vegetables

To Finish

A dark chocolate tart with a layer of butterscotch served
with a whirl of whipped cream and raspberry sauce

A choux ring crammed with passion fruit curd, whipped cream and strawberries

A raspberry and whiskey flavoured crème brulee topped
with brown sugar and glazed under a hot grill

A selection of cheese and biscuits

Coffee and Petit Fours

If you have an allergy or special dietary requirement
please speak to a member of staff before placing your order.

Pussers and Botran Rum Masterclass

Wednesday 18th May 2016

7.30pm at Lysses House Hotel

A tutored Rum Masterclass and Rum tasting with Pusser’s Rum Brand Advocate George Phillips and Ian Robinson of Cellar Trends Ltd.

Cellar Trends are the UK agents for Pusser’s Rum and Botran Rum in the UK and we were very luck to have the opportunity to hold a Rum Masterclass and Tasting which included a tasting of all 4 Pussers and all 3 Botran Rums available in the UK.

Pussers Botran Tasting Sheet

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (8)
Pussers Rum Brand Advocate George Phillips

Pussers Rum

George Phillips, as Pusser’s Brand Advocate, was in charge of the first part of the evening and proved to be very entertaining, interactive and be good at throwing chocolates around (if one answered a questions correctly!). I did not make copious notes as I have already written about Pussers Rums and there is more information about the various rums at these links – Pussers Rum Spiced, Pussers Gunpowder Proof 54.5% and Pussers Rum Blue Label 40% – but I did make some notes of interest.

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (7)

  1. We learned about the “Duppy Share”. As spirits are quietly ageing away in barrel quite a lot is lost to evaporation. Pussers Rum is aged in the British Virgin Islands in the tropics. As one can imagine, the rate of evaporation of rum ageing barrel in the hot, tropics is much higher than an equivalent barrel of Scotch Whisky aged in the Scottish Highland. The amount of spirit lost to evaporation is known as as “The Angel’s Share” in Scotland and elsewhere. In the Carribean it is known as “The Duppy Share”. Duppy is a Jamaican Patois word for the ghosts or spirits that are said to live near the base of cotton trees and have a taste for rum. They are said to visit rum barrels and steal the best part of the rum.
  2. The rate of spirit lost to evaporation is around 2% per year in Scotland and Cognac, in the Carribean is around 10%. Thus, when all the evaporation is taken into account, one single bottle of Pusser’s superb 15 year old rum is produced from the equivalent of 8 bottles of the Pussers Blue Label.
  3. Pussers 15 Year Old is a small batch straight 15 Year Old Rum i.e. it is made unblended from only 15 year old rum, nothing older and nothing younger.
  4. Pusser Rum Spiced, bottled at 35% abv. is not technically allowed to be called a Rum in the UK. In the UK a rum has to be 37.5% or over. This will soon be rectified and Pusser will be bottling their Spiced Rum at a higher abv. for the UK market. It still remains one of my favourite Spice Rums. It is made in a very natural way and is not as sweet as many of the dark and treacle-y spiced rums available. It is made by macerating natural spices etc. (including, and this is a guess, cloves, cinammon, nutmeg, vanilla and ginger) in a young Barbados rum for up to 14 days prior to filtering and bottling.
  5. Pussers Rum Overproof Green Label bottled at 75% abv and which is currently only available in Germany may get a limited release in the UK in due course.

Pussers and Botran Rum Tasting (4)

Botran Rum

After a quick break, Ian Robinson took over for the second part of the evening to tell us all about Botran Rum from Guatemala. Unlike Pussers Rum, which is made from molasses, Botran Rum is made from virgin sugar cane spirit. This combined with a complicated barrel ageing process, which Ian did a valiant job of explaining, produces a very different style of rum.

  1. Guatemalan Rum has its own Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) which is both a designation of quality and geographical limitation. It means than certain processes, fermentation, distillation, ageing in the solera system etc. have to be adhered to.
  2. Unlike more tropical Caribbean rums, Botran Rums are aged in a cooler, high altitude mountainous region. This means that the rate of evaporation is slower and allows the rum to mellow of a number of years. This gives the rums a different taste profile. This would not be properly feasible (or economic) in hotter rum producing countries.
  3. The Solera ageing system, initially developed in Jerez for Sherry production, is a complex system of fractional ageing. To simplify, if one imagines 3 layers of barrels with the oldest rum in the bottom and the newest rum at the top. The oldest rum is drawn off at the bottom and is continually replaced with new rum from the barrels above, which is in turn topped up from the top layer above that . The top layer of barrels is topped up with youngest rums. This is a very simplified idea of the Botran Solera process. There are different off-shoots of the solera and re-blending of the rum along the way.
  4. Because Rum is continually mixed in the solera, Botran cannot put the age of the rum on their labels. The labels state that the rums are Solera 12 or Solera 18. This is a rough average of the age of the rums in these bottlings. There will be rums older and younger than 12 or 18 year old in the Solera 12 or Solera 18 respectively.
  5. The oak barrels used for ageing Botran Rum in this solera system is a mix of four different types of barrel – fresh and charred ex-Bourbon Whiskey Cask, ex-Sherry casks and ex-Port casks – I think I am right in saying they are the only Rum producer who use four different cask types.
  6. Botran Reserva Blanca is a three year old rum that has the colour filtered out of it using charcoal filters. As it is aged for 3 years in American white oak barrels it has a lot more character, as well as being mellower and smoother than cheap white rums. I think this was the biggest surprise for people who attended the tasting.
  7. Ron Zacapa is also made at the Botran distillery!

Once again, a big thank you to George Phillips and Ian Robinson for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening. Roll on the next one.

Moldovan Wine Tasting

@ Lysses House Hotel, 4th February 2015

My colleague, Daria Kenefeck, has been running wine education classes Moldovan Wine Tastingin the Fareham area for over 20 years. The classes are currently held at Lysses House Hotel and run three times a year, roughly equating to school term times. In 2015 one of Daria’s long-standing class members, Malcolm Swire, visited Moldova to attend a Moldovan Wine festival (which was cancelled!) and visit some wineries. Malcolm offered to make a presentation to the wine class about Moldovan wine if some Moldovan wine could be sourced in the UK. It turns out that finding Moldovan wine in the UK is no easy feat, but Daria found some. Having never tasted Moldovan wine before, I decided to gate crash the class. Malcolm gave a very informative talk, not just about Moldovan wine but about the country in general with a slide presentation followed by a tasting of 5 wines.

Moldovan Wine – A Little Background

Moldova is a land-locked Eastern European country located bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, south and west. Moldova has a long viticultural history (there is evidence of grapes being grown in the region in 2800BC) but grape-growing and wine production really began to flourish under the kingdom of Stephen The Great in the 15th Century. It is one of the poorest countries in Europe but has a higher wine production by volume per capita than any other country in the world (in part due to the fact that many people grow grapes and make wine at home for their own consumption). A report by the World Health Organisation in 2011 also found that the Moldovans are the heaviest drinkers in the world, drinking an equivalent of 18 litres of pure alcohol per person per year (global average 6.1 litres, UK 13.4 litres).

Moldova’s relationship relationship with Russia and the former USSR has always been very important if somewhat fractious. The largest export market for Moldovan wine has always been Russia where the traditional, sweeter style of red wines are popular. Mikhail Gorbachev imposed an anti-alcohol campaign in the 1980s which resulted in many of the vineyards in Moldova being grubbed up. After the break up of the Soviet Union and following Moldovan independence in 1991 the wine industry began to re-awaken and modernise. Russia remained the largest customer export customer for Moldovan wine despite the 2006 Russian ban (eventually lifted) on imports Moldovan and Georgian wine. However, the industry has further been damaged by yet another Russian ban on the import of Moldovan wine imposed in September 2013 due to Moldova announcing plans to sign a draft association treaty with the EU. Both bans have caused considerable damage and serve to underline how important it is for Moldova to develop other new export markets outside of their traditional channels.

There are four wine growing regions of Moldova – Balti in the North, Codru in the centre, Purcari in the South-East and Cahul in the South. They are also known as the Northern, Central, South-Eastern and Southern zones. Of these the Southern is the most important. There are some 140 Moldovan wine companies, employing 250,000 people, with 148,000 hectares of vineyard.

There majority of grape varieties grown in Moldova are French varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling et al. There are also plantings of Rkatsiteli and Saperavi, which I have come across in Georgian wines. Domestic grape varieties are estimated to make up only 16% of vines planted. The most important domestic white grape varieties are Feteasca Alba, which is also grown in Romania, and Feteasca Regala (a Feteasca Alba / Furmint Cross). The two most important domestic red grape varieties are Rara Neagra and Feteasca Neagra.

Perhaps Moldova’s main vinous claim to fame are the Milestii Mici underground galleries. According to the Guiness Book of Records it is the largest wine collection in the world with over 2 million bottles of wine. The galleries stretch for 250km with 120km currently use. As well as Milestii Mici, there are several other very large underground cellars in Moldova including the Cricova wine cellars which have galleries stretching for 70kms through which there is even an annual running race, the Cricova Run.

Chateau Purcari – Moldovan Wine Tasting

Moldovan Wine Tasting 2

The wines we tried on the evening were all from Chateau Purcari. Founded in 1827, the iconic Chateau Purcari is arguably the most famous winery and producer of Moldovan wine. It is located on the Dniester River not far from the Black Sea (in the South-Eastern Zone). In 2003 the winery and vineyards were completely renovated, modernised and 250 hectares of vineyards were planted which are now coming to maturity.

Negru de Purcari, a dry red wine from the Purcari region is made by a few wineries including Chateau Purcari (the fifth wine tasted below). It was originally made from Rara Neagra and found great fame in the 18th Century. Nowadays the blend is normally Cabernet Sauvignon, Saperavi and Rara Neagra.

White Wines

Chateau Purcari Pinot Grigio de Purcari 2014 – 100% Pinot Grigio. I thought this was the most commercial of all the Moldovan wines we tried. Typical Pinot Grigio character with lots of floral, citrus and pear-drop aromas on the nose. The palate had a sweet, confectionery character. A bit too sweet for my taste, although labelled as a “Alb Sec” or dry white. The only wine of the evening to have geographical classification, a Vin cu Indicatie Geografica Stefan Voda.

Chateau Purcari, Alb de Purcari 2012 – A blend of 50% Chardonnnay, 45% Pinot Gris and 5% Pinot Blanc. Barrel-fermented and aged in French oak barrels for 6 months with malolactic fermentation. This was an oaky beast. Good, golden straw colour with very oaky, herbaceous nose. I detected sulphur on both the nose and the palate, to the detriment of everything else. Labelled as a “Vin de Calitate Matur“, a quality mature wine, although no-one could find out whar “matur” meant, i.e. did it represent a minium aging period.

Moldovan Wine Tasting

Red Wines

Chateau Purcari Freedom Blend 2011 – another Vin de Calitate Matur Rosu Sec (dry red) bottled to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Moldovan independence. A rather interesting blend of 5% Bastardo, 45% Saperavi and 50% Rara Neagra aged 1 year in French oak. The three grape varieties representing Romania, Georgia and Moldova. I am quite familiar with Bastardo from the Douro and Saperavi from Georgia. I didn’t really detect any Bastardo character (only 5%, after all) and the Saperavi was quite dominant. This wine had a good bright, clear red colour with a fruity, smoky nose developing coffee and vanilla aromas as it breathed in the glass. The palate was not particularly complex but demonstrated rich fruity flavours (plums), a bit more smoky / earthy character and some more coffee character. Soft, fruity and dry.

Chateau Purcari Rara Neagra de Purcari 2014 – a Vin de Calitate Selectat Rose Sec. 100% Rara Neagra, unoaked. This wine had a good garnet red colour. The nose was reminiscent of sweet, jammy red fruit, particularly strawberries. These aromas follow onto the palate which has more sweet, jammy, confit fruit, damson, plums and a touch of spice. Round and fruity with a touch of sweetness on the finish.

Chateau de Purcari, Negru de Purcari 2010 – 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Saperavi and 10% Rara Neagra aged for 3 years (or 18 to 24 months, depending where one looks) in French oak and bottled as a Vin de Calitate Matur Rezerva. Chateau de Purcari Negru de Purcari has a dense red / black colour. The nose was quite intense with aromas of black fruit, blackberry, blackcurrant, hints of spicy black pepper and slight balsamic notes. The palate was full and complex with a firm tannin backbone and structure. There were more blackberry / cassis flavours on the palate and I detected just a hint of stalkiness. A fine wine, with surprising structure that could almost be mistaken for a Bordeaux. Good length and potential for aging.

Other Moldovan wines to look out for are those made by Cricova, Chateau Vartely, Mezalimpe and Et Cetera (Malcolm had high praise for Et Cetera).

Fareham Wine Cellar Christmas and New Year Opening Hours 2015

Farheam Wine Cellar Christmas Opening Hours 2015

All of us at Fareham Wine Cellar wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  Thank you for your continued support throughout all of 2015 and we look forward to seeing you in 2016.

We will be open at the following times over the Christmas period.


Tuesday 22nd – 10am until 6.30pm

Wednesday 23rd – 10am until 5.00pm

Thursday 24th (Christmas Eve) – 10am until 4.00pm


Friday 25th (Christmas Day) – Closed

Saturday 26th – Closed

Sunday 27th – Closed

Monday 28th (Boxing Day) – Closed


Tuesday 29th 10am until 2pm and 4.30pm until 6.30pm

Wednesday 30th – 10am until 1.30pm

Thursday 31st (New Year’s Eve) – 10am until 4.00pm


Friday 1st January (New Years’s Day) – Closed


Saturday 2nd January – 10am until 6.00pm


And back to normal after that!

Don’t forget to pop in and replenish your stocks in the New Year!

You can check our normal opening hours here.

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.

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. It 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. Polmos Zyrardów uses a proprietary water purification system that relies on reverse osmosis; blended spirit and water are distilled through custom-made charcoal and mechanical filters. Belvedere was first introduced to the market in 1996 and was instrumental in the creation of the luxury vodka segment. Poland is widely recognized as the birthplace of vodka, so perhaps it is fitting that Belvedere is named after the Belvedere Palace, formerly home to Polish royalty and presidents.  The Belvedere 007 Collectors Edition features both the 007 and Spectre logos along with the iconic gun barrel rifling on the front of the bottle.

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!

Read more here.

Edit 20/10/15: Read my review of the evening here.