Thank you to all the lovely people from Chadlington, Charlbury, Finstock and Billericay who came to The Wine Tipster’s Charity Gig for Friends of Chadlington School and Greatwood Caring for Retired Racehorses. The punters at the packed Chadlington Village Hall consumed Gordal olives, Marcona salted almonds from Brindisa and fabulous mini-pizzas from Cafe de la Post in-between tasting eight wines on sparkling form.
First up was the elegant Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV, Champagne, France on offer in Waitrose at £29.99 until April 2nd, followed by Esk Valley’s Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, £9.99, Cafe de la Post, The Oxford Wine Company, which really does express the quality of this New Zealand vintage. We moved on to the well-priced, elegant Planalto Douro Reserva 2011, Portugal (pictured right), £7.99, Majestic, with citrus and peachy flavours, whilst the Mâcon Charnay, Réserve Personelle 2011, Burgundy, France, £9.99, Cafe de la Post, The Oxford Wine Company, with soft, buttery and vanilla flavours is quality, good value Burgundy under a tenner.
Then Zalze Cabernet /Shiraz Rosé 2012, Coastal Region, South Africa, £7.99, Waitrose, full flavoured with attractive red fruits and spice raised the flag for the pink corner, with the wine options round revealing the soft, elegant, rounded and abv friendly 12% Aurora Reserve Pinot Noir 2012, Serra Gaûcha, Brazil, £9.50, Stevens Garnier. Interestingly, many people guessed Pinot Noir and chose Chile instead of New Zealand.
The final part of our journey ended in Europe with the smooth, Beronia Rioja Reserva 2008, Rioja, Spain, £11.99, The Oxford Wine Company, Cafe de la Post and the stunning Ramos Pinto Collectors Port, Douro, Portugal, £13.99 The Oxford Wine Company, Cafe de la Post.
A big thank you to all the wine producers, S.Pellegrino, Cafe de la Post, The Oxford Wine Company and Alex James, Craig Ogden, Ed Fenton, Nicola Leyland, Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival, Chadlington Quality Foods and The Tite Inn for the raffle prizes.
Finally, a big thank you to Robina, Lois, Jo and Steve for organisation and pouring.
The Blue Riband race of The Cheltenham Festival is The Betfred Gold Cup at 3.20 on Friday. The 2013 build up appears to have been focussed on taking sides with Sir Des Champs, Bobs Worth, First Lieutenant and Silviniaco Conti v Long Run and Captain Chris. Only Silviniaco Conti from the first team makes real appeal because he is clearly an improving type, who beat Long Run and The Giant Bolster by 2½ lengths and 4½ lengths respectively at level weights in November, then with The Giant Bolster in receipt of 4 pounds, Silviniaco Conti put seven lengths between them at Newbury in February. His jumping is accurate and he definitely has the progressive appeal to win a Gold Cup .
The current favourite Bobs Worth beat Tidal Bay by 3¼ lengths in receipt of 6 pounds in the Hennessy Gold Cup, with First Lieutenant five lengths third in receipt of 1 pound from Bobs Worth. Tidal Bay then stole the Lexus Chase in one of the finishes of the season at level weights with Sir Des Champs and First Lieutenant, which leaves me with the view that Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs and First Lieutenant are pretty closely matched but not winners of the Gold Cup.
For the second team, Long Run and Captain Chris are seen as having fought out a titanic finish in a sub-standard King George run on heavy ground. This is all wrong, as Long Run has won a King George twice, a Gold Cup once and he has never finished out the first three in any of his races. Although Silviniaco Conti did beat Long Run in the Betfair Chase, Long Run’s trainer Nicky Henderson said that he would need the run on his seasonal appearance. Supporting the King George form is Captain Chris, who is a very different horse this season, with Richard Johnson riding him brilliantly and whilst 2.5 miles was too short for him at Ascot last time against a nimble Cue Card he will be patiently ridden at Cheltenham, gradually working his way in to a place at the finish.
Silviniaco Conti makes the most appeal as a potential winner, however my preferred bets are Long Run each way at 6/1 (taken 7/1), which looks one of the safest bets of the week to The Wine Tipster, with a small each way wager on Captain Chris at 16/1 too.
I do hope you all enjoyed The Wine Tipster’s wine recommendations for Christmas and New Year. Now, here we are in January armed with a list of 2013 resolutions and many of us will be about book a holiday, stay clear of alcohol for a month and take up a temporary gym membership.
So, from my perspective, with all this gastronomic activity and oenophile devotion I have to have some aerobic and anaerobic each week and press the perspiration button, whether running on the relatively car free roads of Chadlington, attending my spinning class or attempting to look classy on my bike like Bradley Wiggins – and in 2013 I’ll definitely be keeping up my exercise regime.
The effort is worth it too, not only for the post workout feel-good factor but for the creativity whilst you pound the streets. Also, these days, there are lots of excellent choices of the non-alcoholic variety to rehydrate so I always have available some San Pellegrino Aranciata or Limonata which are £3.79 per pack of 6 x 330ml cans in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Luscombe Sicilian Lemonade 320ml, £1.60, Chadlington Quality Foods and my favourite mineral water San Pellegrino.
After all this perspiration and rehydration you can reward yourself with a glass of vino. The Wine Tipster has always recommended to wine lovers that quality should win over quantity, whatever the time of the year, so don’t let January put you off! If you are checking the calorie counter note that, on average, one glass of 175ml wine has around 130 calories, although this will vary by producer and style of wine as to whether it is medium or sweet.
So here’s to a very happy 2013 in which I look forward to sharing with you my vino tips food and wine recommendations and my top racing tips. Cheers!
Chat-en-Oeuf 2011, abv 12.5%, Languedoc, France, £5.99. Stockist: Waitrose (pictured left)
Really good value white, dry, easy drinking, creamy with citrus fruit flavours. Look out for the fun packaging and try their rosé and red too!
Château D’Anglès Classique White 2010, abv 14.0%, La Clape, France, £11.99. Stockist: Wine Rack. (pictured below right)
La Clape is the only wine appellation based on the Bourboulenc variety, which is 60% of the blend with Grenache, Roussanne and Marsanne making up the rest. Made by renowned winemaker Eric Fabre, his impressive Classique white is dry, complex and elegant with peachy, floral, nutty and creamy notes, completed by a tangy and citrus finish. This wine can easily age for 5-10 years.
Terra d’Alter 2009, abv 13.5%, Alentejo, Portugal, £7.95 or £7.55 when purchasing any 12 mixed bottles. Stockist: The Oxford Wine Company
This red from Alentejo is made by the talented Australian Peter Bright and was the most popular wine at my recent Wine and Vinyl Evening! A smooth, warming red for a January night, packed with plum and damson fruit flavours. Decant a couple of hours beforehand.
McManis Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2011, abv 14%, California, USA. £10.99 down to £8.79 in Majestic, who are offering 20% off all Californian wines* until 4th February -*excluding wines over £19.99 or sparkling wine.
This is not the full-bodied Zinfandel you often find, but smoother, silkier, intensely fruity, low on tannins and a perfect match with a winter casserole.
Thank you to all the lovely people who attended the Tickler Cheese and Wine Masterclasses at Taste of Christmas. Richard Newell, cheese maker from Tickler and The Wine Tipster had a great time over the three days presenting 21 Masterclasses with fabulous cheeses and wines. Richard Newell has over 20 years’ experience in the cheese industry and he is a man who knows his cheese. Each day, we presented two cheddar masterclasses including Tickler Cheddar, from their award winning Taw Valley creamery in Devon. Tickler is matured for up to 18 months, and is tangy, sweet, full of flavour and available from all major retailers.
For the other sessions, we were joined by an array of guests. On Saturday, The Wine Tipster presented with the lovely Alex James (pictured right), whose Goddess, Little Wallop and Farleigh Wallop are all rightly proving to be very popular cheeses. In other masterclasses, we were joined by Philip Stansfield, who presented his award winning Cornish Blue and moreish pate, whilst Cathal Murphy continued the blue theme with the delicious Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue. From Dorset, George Streatfeilds from Denhay Farm, waxed lyrically about their Dorset Drum. The Wine Tipster should also extend a big thank you to George for my daily breakfast, which consisted of a Denhay unsmoked streaky bacon sandwich. Yum!
With such an exciting range of cheeses we needed the ports and wines to match and a big thanks to Lorenzo Bakewell – Stone from Taylor’s Port, who included their First Estate Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage 2007, 10 Year Old Tawny (always great when you are getting people to taste Tawny Port for the first time) and the high class Quinta de Vargellas 2001.
Our wine travels took us to India, with the exciting Vallone Vineyards Anokhee Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Namaste Wines, then we were on to Croatia and Franc Arman’s really meaty, full bodied Merlot 2008 and the creamy, classy white Kabola Malvazija Istarska 2011 Vrhunsko, which are both available from Croatian Fine Wines. From southern Italy, the Filadoro Fiano di Avellino 2010 is a creamy, peachy white from Campania and the red Taurasi 2008 made from Aglianico is full bodied and smooth, with both of these wines available from Ager Taurasinus. Staying in Europe, Château Vrai Gaillou 2009 Bordeaux Superieur from Bordeaux Undiscovered is another reason why punters should buy reds from this outstanding vintage at all levels. If you are looking for consistent good value at £6 a bottle then the Chat-en-Oeuf (pictured left) selection from southern France, featuring a white, rosé and red will certainly impress your guests. Away from Europe. the southern hemisphere was on top form with the Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2012 – a great Sauvignon Blanc vintage – and the Limited Edition Reserve Pinot Noir, Louis Vavasour 2008, Awatere, Marlborough, New Zealand, which is a wonderful example of how classy and refined quality Pinot Noir from Marlborough can be given the chance to have some bottle age. These two wines are available from the smart Antipodean Sommelier.
Look forward to seeing you at Taste of Christmas 2013. Cheers!
The Wine Tipster presented at the UK launch of Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Florale Edition at Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Bar last week.
Created by renowned floral Japanese artist, Makoto Azuma, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Florale Edition is the first Limited Edition of Perrier-Jouët’s Prestige Cuvee Belle Epoque, a reverential homage to Emile Galle’s 1902 Art Nouveau design.
The Belle Epoque vintage featured with Azuma’s elegant design is the beautiful, floral and expressive 2004, which is wonderful to enjoy now, yet has years of pleasure ahead.
If you would like to taste the Belle Epoque 2004, then try the specially created four course Florale Menu at Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Bar. For £85 for two, you can enjoy a glass of Belle Epoque 2004 each, with this carefully chosen menu to match with this fabulous champagne:
Chive and pansy dressed crab croustade
Hibiscus marinated salmon
Poilane melba, viola, almond and truffle crumble
Tea and lavender smoked duck breast
The Florale Menu is available exclusively at Harvey Nichols Fifth Floor Bar until 16th December at £85 for two. Before you sit down for post shopping relaxation you can purchase Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Florale Edition, available exclusively at Harvey Nichols for £195.
The Appellation d’ Origine Contrôleé (AOC) of Viré – Clessé is located in the northern part of the Mâconnais sub region, north of the town of Mâcon in Burgundy. Most of you are probably more familiar with Mâcon-Lugny or Mâcon-Charny, yet taste Albert Bichot’s Viré-Clessé 2010, Maison Albert Bichot, £13.65 or £12.97 when purchasing any 12 mixed bottles from The Oxford Wine Company or £13.65 from Cafe de la Post. This stunning white Burgundy made from 100% Chardonnay has everything with ripe citrus fruit, buttery richness, minerality, a pinch of crisp acidity and the lasting elegance of lemony and subtle tropical fruit on the finish. The Wine Tipster will be having Bichot’s Viré-Clessé 2010 with our smoked salmon this Christmas. Enjoy!
The Wine Tipster saw Long Run beat the mighty Denman and Kauto Star to win The Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011 (the most emotional reception I have witnessed at any racecourse for the first three, who were all winners) and yet this gutsy effort to beat two great champions took so much out of Long Run that he will never win a Gold Cup again in my opinion. It was hard to fancy him yesterday at the unfriendly odds of 11-8 to beat either Silviniaco Conti or The Giant Bolster in the Betfair Chase and whilst he managed to beat David Bridgewater’s horse, Long Run couldn’t cope with the jumping display of the Nicholls’ trained Silviniaco Conti. Long Run is not a smooth jumper, yet his class still keeps him very competitive in races and in an open Cheltenham Gold Cup I will take some 8/1 each way on him finishing in the first three.
Was Nicky Henderson right to run Finian’s Rainbow in the extreme going? The horse never looked happy and you wonder if the winning pot had been smaller as to whether Finian’s Rainbow would have been pulled out. At Cheltenham the previous weekend the Henderson trained Spinning Sacre wasn’t risked because of the deteriorating ground conditions in the Sholer Chase and you do wonder whether Henderson should have done the same yesterday. Let’s hope the very talented Finian’s Rainbow puts in a winning performance in his next race.
Cheltenham Racecourse fully deserves its reputation as the centre of jump racing and The Open Meeting, November 15th - 17th proved this once again. Not only does Cheltenham provide quality racing to an appreciative crowd, there is also plenty to engage the racegoer before, during and after racing with the popular exhibitor village, including a range of clothing, jeweller, arts and the expanding Food Hall, which featured the high quality cheeses from Philip Stansfield at The Cornish Cheese Co and delicately flavoured meats from The Cotswold Curer.
Some horses to watch out for from The Open included the David Pipe trained Dynaste in the Steel Plate and Sections Novices Chase, who looked very accomplished and one to have in your selection at The Cheltenham Festival. Another Pipe horse, Ashkazar, who can be a tricky customer, was given a quiet ride by Timmy Murphy at the back of the race in the Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase before pulling up and I’ll be looking out for him next time he runs at Cheltenham. I would also like to see where Emma Lavelle goes next with Bouggler, who looked in excellent condition on returning after a lay off and wasn’t given a hard time once he weakened in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle.
At the London Jazz Festival The Wine Tipster ran a very successful Wine, Canapés and Jazz Matching session. The wonderful people who organise Choc Live in Charlbury have invited this ex punk rocker and devoted music fan to select eight wines to match a range of 45rpm and 33rpm vinyl selections brought along by the audience on Friday 30th November at Charlbury Memorial Hall, start time 8pm (doors open 7.30pm) www.chocfilms.info/ Tickets now available for £8 from: Evenlode Books Tel: 01608 – 819117 or www.wegottickets.com/choc
Thank you to all the lovely people at The Discover a World of Difference Wines of Portugal Tasting at Oddbins London Bridge for their vinyl choices to match with some wonderful wines – including Filipa Pato’s FP 2011, Barriada, £11.50 and Quinta dos Roques 2009, Dao, £12.Names mentioned were The Beach Boys, Jethro Tull and the theme tune to Jaws!
Richard Mayson is a top guy who has written five books on Portuguese wines and who recognised sometime ago the potential of the Alentejo region. In 2005 Richard rewarded his judgement and bought Quinta do Centro, located in Reguengo in the Portalegre sub region in the north-east of Alentejo, forming a new wine company Sonho Lusitano with the very influential Portuguese winemaker Rui Reguinga.
On Thursday evening The Wine Tipster presented a Discover a World of Difference Tasting at The Oxford Wine Company, Cirencester including Richard’s Pedra Basta 2009, Alentejo, £14.49, a blend of Trincadeira, Tinto Roriz, Alicante Bouschet with less than 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in new and one year old French oak. The 2009 is a wonderful, complex, top flight Alentejo red with plums, damsons, vanilla and spice balanced by the trademark elegance of the wines from Sonho Lustiano. Drink 2012-2018 Stockists: The Oxford Wine Company Cirencester branch, Hanging Ditch Wines, The Wine Society.
You should also try Richard’s Pedro e Alma 2009, £24.60, a high class blend of Trincadeira, Alicante Bouschet and Aragonez from 30 year old vines. Stockist: WineBear.com
Earlier this week we had a fun and lively evening at the long established and very popular Bleeding Heart Bistro – there is also a restaurant and tavern. The Wine Tipster was presenting a selection of Portuguese wines with the theme of Discover a World of Difference, matched with excellent dishes from The Bleeding Heart. We kicked off with the creamy, fresh, dry Pato Frio Seleccao 2011 white Ribafreixo from Alentejo with probably the most popular dish of the evening Migas with Portuguese Chourico. With the next course the Bacalhau cut through the intensity of the Alvarinho 2009, Quinta de Pacos,Vinho Verde, followed by the match of the evening Quinto do Pinto 2009 Touiriga Nacional, Lisboa, with Grilled Sardines and Confit of Lemon Zest (pictured right). Drinking red Vinho Verde was a new experience for many and Quinta da Raza’s 2011 Vinhão (grape variety) is full of delicious, intense fruit, low tannins and crisp acidity, served with Smoked Chaves -village in Trás- os-Montes Presunto Croquettes, whilst the Callabriga Alentejo 2009 blend of Alfrochiero, Alicante Bouchet and Aragonés was a definite crowd pleaser with pork rillettes with Apricot and Sage (pictured below). Travelling up to the Douro and Pôpa Old Vines 2008, which is a blend of 21 different varieties made by the charming and influential Luis Pato – check out their Tinto Roriz 2009 -A smooth, full bodied tinto low on assertive tannins, with plums, spice and flinty character. We finished an excellent evening with the stunning Sandeman 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Waitrose £35.49, served with Trás-on-Montes Terrincho Cheese.
Photos courtesy of Sam Lynas, Bleeding Heart Yard