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A Wine For Scotch Woodcock (4)
Andrew wrote: I don't usually do anchovies for the very same reason b... [read more]

Sparkling Shiraz and Food (6)
zowoco wrote: Do you know, I have never drunk a sparkling red! Seems ... [read more]

Château Tonnelles, 2004, Fronsac, France (3)
michael Bowditch wrote: I agree the wines from Fronsac are fab. If you are trav... [read more]

Wine Twitters (3)
Andrew wrote: I think you have to prioritise - I don't 'do' facebook ... [read more]

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Wine Twitters

Wine_Scribbler Twitter page
If you read TechCrunch you would have seen a report on an Australian experiment to Twitter a wine tasting.

Twitter is one of those 'what is the point' geeky things that you either 'get' or you don't. You have the ability to send a short 140 character message to all of your Twitter friends. A message is called a tweet, by the way. While it began as a simple way to let everyone know what you are up to it has morphed somewhat over the last few months; well at least it has in my little group!

Now conversations rule the day, links to news and sites of interest with the TechCrunch story highlighted by fellow wine blogger Catavino being a prime example.

I must admit that firing up the computer to be faced with 600 odd tweets can be a little depressing; so I just delete them all and join in the conversation afresh! It must be even worse if you opt for them all to be sent to your mobile. Incidentally, Twitter was featured on BBC Radio 4 a week or so back. I don't think it is quite mainstream yet though, especially as the interviewer remained totally perplexed by the whole affair!

The techcrunch story, to return to the focus of this post, tells how Project Vino, an Australian wine site focused on community recommendations, tried a Twitter wine tasting. The site sent three bottles of Kirrihill, a South Australian, wine to 12 prominent Australian Twitter users, with the only obligation being to tweet their thoughts to Twitter at the designated times. A fascinating little exercise but I'm not sure exactly how such a niche activity helped in any marketing plan.

If you want to join in the Twitter conversation I'm at

Château Laures Blanc, 2006, Bordeaux, France

Château Laures 2006

White WineWine Tasting Note: Château Laures Blanc, 2006, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux, France
Available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered [more] for £6.75 (normally £9.64)
The Semillon really comes though on the nose giving a lovely herby touch to the lemon-citrus that dominates. Palate is nicely rich and full with a slight spritz and good acidity balancing it all out. A honeyed touch to the lemony complexity all melds together wonderfully.

Château Laures is a 70 hectare estate owned and run for many generations by the same family. They've pulled together a typical Bordeaux blend for this bottle - 60% Semillon, 30% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Muscadelle. Alcohol 12.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

While more than suitable for a wide range of foods - salads and fish particularly recommended - a match with a Marmade Tomato Tart worked superbly well. Based on a recipe in Rick Stein's French Odyssey this combines pesto, garlic, tomatoes and puff pastry into a lovely spring-type dish. I added a slice of ham and a little Mozarella to the topping just to make them a little more substantial.

Marmande Tomato Tart with basil and garlic From Rick Stein's French Odyssey [ £13.00 ]
  • 500g puff pasty
  • 450g large vine-ripened tomatoes such as Marmande
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 small chpped garlic clove
  • 2 tablspoons extra virgn olive oil
  • 8 fresh basil leaves torn into small bits
  • salt and pepper
(Stein makes just one large tart with these ingredients; mine were smaller 'two or three bite sized' with the size of the pastry equal to a slice of the tomato.) Roll out the pasty into a 30cm disc. Place on a greased baking sheet, prick all over, and chill for 20 minutes.

Oven to 200C/G6. Bake pastry for 20 minutes then remove. Slice tomatoes thinly. Dot the pastry with pesto, top with tomatoes (and, if me a slice of ham and a little Mozarella) Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and salt. Bake 5 minutes. Remove and add the basil. Bake for a further 5 minutes until (the cheese has melted) the pastry is crisp and golden.

Chateau Laures with Tomato and Ham Tarts

A Dish For Howard Park Scotsdale Cabernet Sauvignon

Howard Park Scotsdale Cabernet Sauvignon 2005No apologies for featuring another wine from the excellent Howard Park stable; this is their old vine Cabernet Sauvignon from the Great Southern Region of Western Australia. It was an absolute star with this lamb dish although don't go too heavy with mint sauce.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Howard Park Scotsdale Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005, Great Southern, Western Australia
New vintage available soon from Bibendum for £13
They make great play on the 'old vines' description on the rear label. The grapes for this bottle come are sourced from a single estate in Mount Barker (in the Great Southern region) in Western Australia. The vines were planted in 1974 and are therefore 34 years old. Old vines and extra attention in the vineyard results in a higher quality wine, in this case one brimming with wonderful blackberry and bramble flavours laced with a herbal, dark chocolate edge. It is also blessed with a long length and tannins that should see it though for several years. In fact the recommend 5-8 years cellaring. Alcohol 14.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

It's a touch young at the moment but still a joy to drink. Served with Lamb Baguettes with Fresh Mint Sauce (recipe below) it was a delight. Wareing's sauce is rather sweet and, depending on how much mint you add, quite powerfully flavoured. The sweetness will swamp the wine so use sparingly.

Lamb Baguette with Fresh Mint Sauce
From One Perfect Ingredient by Marcus Wareing [ £10.19]

2 (middle neck) fillets of lamb
Large baguette halved lengthways
Salt and pepper

For the mint sauce
50g caster sugar
50ml white wine vinegar
1 large bunch fresh mint leaves

Make the sauce- dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then add finely chopped mint leaves.

Slice the lamb into 1cm thick slices. Cook on a high heat for 5-8 minutes until seared on both sides. Leave to rest for 5 minutes but reserve the pan juices.

Toast the cut sides of the baguette under the grill. Place the lamb on top and drizzle with the pan juices and the mint sauce. Make a sandwich and enjoy.

Win Jancis Robinson Website Subscriptions

CityWire, one of the UK's 'leading personal finance and investment websites', is offering a weekly prize of an annual subscription (worth £70) to Jancis Robinson's award-winning website,

Here's how to enter:

1. Visit CityWire and view Jancis's latest Wine Of The Week

2. Read the clue at the end. You'll find the answer on Jancis's own website.

3. Send the answer to and you may win the prize.

Food and Wine Match - Spicy Chickpea Fritters

Periquita White and Chickpea FrittersThese lovely little fritters will pretty much go with most white wines, at least those that are blessed with a crisp acidity and a medium-to-full body. I selected the Periquita White for the simple reason that it is currently reduced to a bargain £3.99 at Waitrose.

White WineWine Tasting Note: Periquita White, 2007, Setabul, Portugal.
Currently on offer at Waitrose for £3.99.

Even at the normal price of £4.99 it's a fine little blend of Arinto and Moscatel from the Setubal Peninsula, south of Lisbon. The Arinto gives the crispness and freshness, while the Moscatel lends a lovely aromatic component plus a level of spiciness to the flavour that proved to match so well with the fritters.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

The fritter recipe comes from the regular food-blog event, Waiter There's Something In My..., that I co-host over on SpittoonExtra with this particular round, 'Pulses', selected and hosted by Cooksister. As a regular host I do try and make some of the dishes submitted to each round. The varied creations from across the globe never ceases to amaze. The Spicy Chickpea Fritters came from Australian blogger Kazari at I Think I Have A Recipe For That. The mix of caraway, cumin and coriander also complimented the wine; the yoghurt sauce is a must too!

Château Tonnelles, 2004, Fronsac, France

Château Les Tonnells 2004More banging on from me about how we should look to the independent merchant for the more interesting wines - small producers, interesting flavours, unknown grapes etc etc but such purchases do not have to be the idiosyncratic, often you just need something decent and mainstream but still retaining that small producer mentality...

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Château Les Tonnelles, 2004, Fronsac, France.
Available from Bordeaux-Undiscovered [more] for £7.99 (normally £11.99) More on: Adegga / Snooth .
Very French (for which read Bordeaux) in style and structure - the aroma has a lovely fruity edge that needs a little teasing (swirl/decant) to really reveal itself - don't forget that aroma offers so much to the overall enjoyment of wine - is that blackcurrant, blackberry, leaves, undergrowth?

The Bordeaux Undiscovered website states that this 'drinks well on it's own' but I disagree - it's a classic French food wine - unless you enjoy hearty tannins - and in that regard is highly recommended with a simple roasted game bird. In this case it is stuffed with herby sausage and served with a potato-parsley-garlic mash and a broad bean puree (the latter left over from the Pappardelle with Broad Beans and Rocket dish).

The wine is 100% Merlot. Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Château Tonnells lies in Saint Aignan, Fronsac, which has 2,100 acres of vines on the Right Bank of the Dordogne River a few miles away from Libourne. Château les Tonnelles forms part of the estate of Saint Emilion Grand Cru, Château Badette, which was left to the town after no heirs to the estate were left to inherit. The vineyards are only 19 acres in size with the name, Tonnelles, taken from the 'wooded arbours that dapple the hillsides'. Game and Château Les Tonnells 2004

Sparkling Shiraz and Food

Bundaleer ShirazIt was all the rage a couple of years ago for sparkling red wines to be served with Christmas dinner; no idea if you were allowed to drink them at any other time mind!

The delightful Joanne of Henley Fine Wines popped over the other week, brandishing, as his her want, a couple of bottles of wine - one of which was a sparkling red. The NV Bundaleer Shiraz is one of the prize offering that her small company imports direct.

I really wanted to do this wine justice with its food accompaniment and scoured another new addition - Rick Stein's French Odyssey - for something that would benefit from the bubbles and the red fruit flavours. Step forward Sautéed Lambs Kidneys on Toasted Brioche with Sauvignon Blanc, Mustard and Tarragon!

Champagne/Sparkling WineBundaleer Sparkling Shiraz, NV, Southern Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Available from Henley Fine Wines [more] for £8.50 More on: Adegga / Snooth
While there is a touch of sweetness it just makes this blackberry flavoured wonder all the more drinkable. Nicely balanced with plenty of classy fizz and good balance. Medium bodied. Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Sautéed Lambs Kidneys on Toasted Brioche with Sauvignon Blanc, Mustard and Tarragon.
Adapted from Rick Stein's French Odyssey [ £13]
For one
4 sliced lambs kidneys with white cores removed
Knob of unsalted butter
Large glug of Sauvignon Blanc
¼ tablespoon Dijon mustard
Fresh tarragon
Double cream
2 thick slices of brioche toasted

Melt some butter and fry the kidneys over a high heat for about 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned but still pink in the middle. Remove and keep warm. De-glaze the pan with the wine and reduce. Add the mustard, any free-run juices from the kidneys, chopped tarragon and cream and boil until a nice sauce consistency is reached. Season.

Top the brioche with the kidneys and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with tarragon.

The dish is very rich - all that glorious cream I guess - with the wines bubbles cutting through, leaving the palate refreshed (and hankering for more!). The sweetness of the brioche and the wine matched nicely; I was enjoying the combination so much I failed to notice the tannins. In fact I failed to notice much else until the bottle ran dry!

A Wine For Scotch Woodcock

One of those peculiarly named Edwardian or Victorian dishes, like Welsh Rarebit, Scotch Woodcock is simply scrambled eggs on toast with the addition of anchovies. The recipe appears in the May 2008 issue of Delicious (and is detailed on SpittoonExtra) where they top the dish with lightly steamed asparagus. It might sound odd but it's really fantastic.

A tricky dish to match with wine, you would assume, but I have found a great partner - another wine from the Howard Park stable, this one being the 2007 Riesling. The wine just 'worked'. The acidity cut through the 'tricky' richness of the egg while the fresh flavours were superb with the asparagus. I also think that Howard Park's Sauvignon Blanc would also be a fine choice.

White WineWine Tasting Note: Howard Park Riesling, 2007, Western Australia
Available (soon) from Bibendum for £11
Fresh and lively, but rather too young (although this style worked brilliantly wit the Scotch Woodcock). As Howard Park states "This wine will greatly reward the patient enthusiast. Secondary characters with start to develop after two years and will continue to add complexity to this wine for at least 10 years".

As it stands the wine is very pale, limey on the nose with a flowery edge with the palate offering great acidity, cool, pure flavours and, as mentioned, great capacity to age. Alcohol 12.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

The production process is very interesting - only free run juice, all from the Great Southern region, was used with different batches cool-fermented separately in (the ubiquitous) stainless steel tanks which preserves the delicate Riesling fruit flavours. The blending trials of these different batches must have been fascinating.

The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal

The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal
This new book has been receiving rave reviews left, right and over. Self-published by the authors the The Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal by Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter is not, sadly a wine and recipe book (as I hoped) but a travel guide to Portugal
This is a guide for the independent traveller who loves good wine and food, but also wants to discover the country - and not just the fabulous beaches. It will lead you around edible Lisbon and Porto, and the stunning countryside of undiscovered inland Portugal, keeping a special eye out everywhere for the wines.

Wine in Portugal - Learn to recognise the best wines on the restaurant list. Visit the best wineries. Internationally-renowned wine critic Charles Metcalfe has tasted every wine in this book...

Eat in Portugal - New-wave restaurants, the best of traditional fare, fine cheeses and charcuterie, and of course sea food... If past Portuguese meals have been a stodgy disappointment, learn where the wine trade goes to eat, and try again...

Between meals - Well, you can't eat and drink all the time! The Wine and Food Lover's Guide to Portugal also guides you around the regions, and selects the most exciting other places to visit.

Sleep - At all price points, from luxury hotel to farmhouse bed and breakfast, we have sought out comfortable and atmospheric places to stay, often with a wine or food connection."

The Wine and Food Lover's Guide to Portugal is available from for £11.87 or direct from the publishers for £16.75.

New Map of English and Welsh Vineyards

English vineyards map
Did you know that there are 163 vineyards in England and Wales? Those 163 are members of the English Wine Producers group who claim to represent over three-quarters of England's total wine production, so the 'actual' number is a few more.

The EWP has released a new version of it UK Wine Map - available for free from vineyards, key tourist offices and (soon) from the EWP website.

The map depicts the location of each vineyard cross referenced by county and with full contact details, websites and a brief description. Each vineyard is colour coded to show those that welcome visitors, those that do not and those not yet in production.

Time to start planning those Summer visits. I have one vineyard within walking distance and I STILL haven't managed to get over there and sample the wines.

A dish for Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc

Pasta with Broad beans and Howard Park Sauvignon BlancThis is adapted from a Giorgio Locatelli recipe from the May 2008 issue of Delicious Magazine. The original is rather convoluted and excessive in its use of saucepans! Apart from time the most onerous part is podding the beans. As you can see from the photo I used Gnocchi pasta, Locatelli suggests fresh Pappardelle - which, curse my luck, was unobtainable in my little market town when I needed some! It worked fine with the smaller, standard, pasta.

Extremely Spring-like in its use of fresh broad beans and rocket it also proved a superb match for the 'green' flavours inherent in the Howard Park Sauvignon.

White WineWine Tasting Note: Howard Park Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, Western Australia
Soon to be available from Bibendum for £11 per bottle
The punch on the palate perfectly replaces what it lacks in colour; it is rather pale and lemon-juice in colour. The green, grassy, herby, mouth-wateringly juicy fruit is from the portion of grapes sourced from the Pemberton region of Western Australia. For the citrus characteristics and the weighty feel say thanks to the 50% from the Margaret River. Very focused. Very crunchy and fresh. Alcohol 12.5%.

Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

A wine for Pasta with Broad Beans and Rocket
Although an Italian dish the Pasta with Broad Beans and Rocket worked perfectly with the Aussie Sauvignon - the 'green' elements in both simply melded and married wonderfully. The punchiness of the wine is more flavoursome than many an Italian white which is just what this dish requires.

Giorgio Locatelli's Pappardelle with Broad Beans and Rocket
from Delicious Magazine (serves 6-8)

For the Bean Puree
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped
300g frozen broad beans, thawed and skinned
10g cold unsalted butter

Heat the olive oil in a pan add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the broad beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add enough water to just cover the beans and bring to the boil. Cook until beans are cooked and the mixture is quite thick (20 mins or so). Puree with the butter. This puree is spread on the plate under the pasta. (I actually just served it on top)

For the Butter Sauce
100g butter
1 shallot finely chopped
2 black peppercorns
100ml white wine
2 tbsp double cream

Melt a knob of butter, add the shallot and pepper corns. After a minute or two add the wine and reduce by 2/3rds. Add the cream and reduce for a further 2 minutes. Add the remaining butter and whisk until smooth. Season. This sauce is tossed with the pasta ingredients below.

For the Pasta
100g podded broad beans
500g fresh pappardelle
2 tbsp Pecornio plus extra to serve
50g rocket

Cook the pasta as directed on the packet. Toss with the beans, cheese, some black pepper and the rocket. Toss again with the butter sauce.

Serve the pasta on top of the bean puree and garnish with extra rocket and shavings of Pecorino.

Blogging a dead horse...

Thumbnail image for Wine and Spirits
A thought for the wine bloggers - we are viewed as a "strange, small and rather inward-looking world" by the mainstream media.

Thanks to Catavino and Thirst for Wine who brought the Wine and Spirit article to the fore via Twitter. Nice that Spittoon was highlighted (but why no active links?) and ranked on par with wine luminaries Andrew Jefford and Simon Woods (although they write for the magazine and the overall tone of the piece is rather negative) -

the site has a professional air and is quite "tradey", featuring a lot of wine news and developments. There is also a focus on food and wine matching, and plenty of good links.

I have to question the 'tradey' description though... an must bare in mind the blogging rule they mention "Don't just put up tasting notes. It's boring".

Domaine de L'Engarran, 2005, VdP d'Oc, France

Domaine de l'Engarran 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc, FranceNot something you see much of in the South of France is Cabernet Franc - the grape and country of choice for this months Wine Blogging Wednesday. Rare enough to be interesting despite not being totally Cab. Franc; although the major component there is a hearty douse of Grenache with a smidgen of Syrah and Cinsault too.

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Domaine de l'Engarran, 2005 Vin de Pays d'Oc, France
Off the middle shelf at Oddbins for £7.99.
A weighty palate, tight gravelly tannins and a inky-berry led flavour. A touch of sweet fruit, especially on the finish with an edge of black currants. No hints of the leafiness/herbaceousness often associated with Cabernet Franc, perhaps due to the warmer growing conditions down in the Languedoc, but there is a touch of earthiness, another 'sign' of Cabernet Franc. Opens up nicely with an edge of something akin to roses or spiced rose petals. Alcohol 13%. The actual blend is a mix of 46% Cabernet Franc, 40% Grenache, 11% Syrah & 3% Cinsault.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Gracing the label (you might just make out from my photo) is a line drawing of a lion devouring a bunch of grapes. As with the other wines from this estate this label detail is taken from statues and details from the house -

In the shrubbery of the "Allée des Lions" stands a sleek, proud and greedy lioness. This statue enjoying its grapes represents tamed strength (of stone... or wine?) and once again the alliance of wine and heritage in the spirit of Engarran."