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Slow Roasted Lamb with Cockburn's Late Bottled Port

a glass of cockburns lbv port

One of the oddest pairings I've sampled recently - roast lamb and late bottled port.

The lamb was cooked at a very low temperature for neigh-on 18 hours. This certainly results in a deeply juicy joint of meat so it was a fine choice indeed to accompany with a cannelloni bean mash laced with water cress and fresh spinach.

The next sentence is going to be contrary. The match - lamb and Cockburn's Port - was surprisingly lovely and beautifully paired only it was too rich and decadent! I loved it but drinking more than a glass or two could became a little too overwhelming for some. All down to the ports 20% alcohol.

The recipe was designed by chef Steve Bulmer as an Easter Day special. Even I know that roasting a leg of lamb for 18 hours isn't a standard way of preparing a Sunday roast but if you can't do something really special for Easter...

"This Easter, impress your guests with an extra special slow-cooked lamb dish matched with a glass of rich Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage 2004. The recipe for this tender, 18 hour slow-cooked lamb was created by Steve Bulmer, head chef at Brook Hall Cookery School and inspired by the UK's favourite port.

This melt-in-the-mouth lamb is satisfyingly rich, and virtually cooks itself, making it the perfect dish for Easter Sunday lunch. Pairing it with Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage 2004, a full and fruity port, will really complement the sumptuous nature of the lamb. The port's hints of cherry and dark chocolate on the palate will further enhance the depth of the dish, whilst its complex character will leave your taste buds tingling."

Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage 2004 is widely available, 75cl, RRP £11.22.

Cockburn's have the recipe and a video on their site (direct link to load video here) describing the cooking of this lamb dish. The recipe is below if you wish to try it out.

Continue reading "Slow Roasted Lamb with Cockburn's Late Bottled Port" »

Caldas White Port

caldas white port cocktail

The instructions were specific - one third port, two thirds tonic or soda (I went the tonic route), served with plenty of ice and topped with any fresh fruit to hand.

As a change to the Pimms or the Gin and Tonic bring on the White Port!

Refreshing indeed; especially on a sultry English summers evening. One glass is not enough.

White port, in this instance less white more caramel in colour, is a favourite tipple in Portugal. Recommended as an aperitif cocktail, with creamy cheese and is apparently "fantastic with creamy, fruity or nutty desserts". I haven't actually got further than the cocktail and the way they are slipping down it is unlikely much will remain to experiment with a full, unsullied glass of Caldas and anything dessert like.

Dessert  Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Alves de Sousa Caldas White Port, NV, Portugal.

Stockist: Top Selection (020 7499 4440) Price: £14.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Alcohol 19%
Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Sadly that is about all I can tell you about Caldas White Port. The company website is totally rubbish, revealing nothing - no details what-so-ever (no grape varieties, no specific vineyards, no mood-inducing photos of the family sipping white port while overlooking the Douro as the sun casts its golden hued evening rays over the vines...). Lovely flash-based intro however...

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Croft Pink Port

Croft Pink PortIt's pink and it's a port - the world's first Pink Port first released last year. The photograph really doesn't do justce to the elegant design - a unique tapered bottle, classy label; an obvious gift purchase.

But is the stuff inside any good? Yeh, it's fine. Rather nice in fact. Lighter in style than a traditional port it is sure to garner many a fan.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Croft Pink Port, NV, Douro, Portugal.
Stockist: Sainsbury, Asda, Morrisons, Costcutter Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Stonkingly gorgeous cherry colour. Raspberry fruit aromas and an attractive softness to the palate with notes of dried red fruits. A subtle hint of tannin and a surge of alcohol and weight reminds you that this is a port and not a simple pink wine. Not hugely complex but with a certain liveliness. Drink chilled. Alcohol 19.5%.

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

First released early last year (2008) Croft's Pink Port was applauded as 'breaking the mold' of the Port houses normal offerings. An obvious step you would have thought, especially during a period of increased sales of rose wines. Catavino discussed the wine at the time of its release; their conclusions on the wine itself were a bit flat (perhaps Croft have tweaked the wine since?) but were impressed by the innovation.

With red ports produced at around 20% alcohol, this new pink proved a challenge for winemaker David Guimaraens and his team at Croft from the outset. How to create a rosé style with a light, bright pink colour which is soft and approachable but with a crisp light finish? The solution was to use traditional red port grapes, extract a light amount of colour from the skins and produce a pink version using white port technology. The grapes were pressed before the juice was cold fermented for 7 days off their skins. This slow fermentation, which is twice as long as standard port, produced these fine berry flavours with the crispness required to produce a light, refreshing style.

Port and Chocolate - Cockburn's LBV and Chocolate Bavarois

Cockburn's LBV 2003 Port

Do you do anything with port other than drink it or serve it with stilton?

I'm not a great fan, by the way, of port with cheese, especially stilton. Two strong totally strong flavours that clash. Just because it is 'tradition' doesn't make it right! I'm out on my own I think. A quick twitter poll resulted in an almost universal condemnation for my heretical views.

Although the wine mutineer agreed

"Nope, I've tried it, and in my humble opinion, the complexity of the port combats the cheese, I like a desert Riesling or Sauternes instead"

Chocolate is the way to go when matching food with port; especially the Late Bottled Vintage version. I've just enjoyed a rather scrummy Chocolate Bavarois (made 'em myself, he says with a triumphant gloat) with a generous glass of Cockburns LBV - pure bliss. You have to be generous with the drink serving, none of your namby-pamby little glasses, splash a generous measure into a wine glass.

Port Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port , 2003, Portugal
Stockist: Asda and Morrisons 10.69 [More on UKWOL] Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]

Distinct chocolate notes in the wine are mingled with a deep richness and mellow complex fruits. Mulberry is often noted but to me is more sweet raisins with a little plum and sweet strawberry thrown in. A nice sweetness tempered by the tannins and a creamy mouthfeel.

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

A full recipe and instructions for Chocolate Bavarois is available on SpittoonExtra.

Sherry via Vinos de Jerez etc...

Vinos de Jerez etc...

One of the advantages of living in a major wine producing country or area is the easy access to the vineyards, to the producers and the ability to keep 'in touch' with developments, check out the latest releases and watch the vintage conditions. Such writers over at Catavino (Spain) and Lenndevours (Long Island, America) have a distinct advantage over the likes of me in the UK.

Granted, the UK does have a wine industry (and I have a vineyard within walking distance of my home, that I have yet to visit!) but it doesn't really rank that highly in global terms. Blogging may be about finding a niche and English wine is certainly that, but generally I don't enjoy the wines that much.

Similar, I expect, to writing on another under-dog of the wine world, Sherry. As there is so much more to the world's most famous fortified wine than Bristol Cream, a delight to discover a blog specialising in the subject. If you have any interest in Sherry than a visit to Vinos de Jerez etc... is suggested.

Penned by Justin Roberts he describes Vinos De Jerez etc... as being

about as fashionable as sherry is at the moment"
about time this changed!

Recent posts have concentrated on comparing two wines of a similar style - two Pedro Ximénez and Tio Pepe vs La Ina for example. Lucky for us that Justin is based in Jerez de la Frontera, a better location for covering Sherry you couldn't hope to find!

A Wine for a Frangipane Fruit Tart; or not

Frangipane Apricot and Fig Tart with Antinori DonatoIt wasn't a perfect match - brought to accompany a Fig and Apricot Frangipane dessert I was hoping for better. The fruit and sweet pastry were just too much for this Vin Santo. It is usually served with biscotti or amaretti biscuits; even the distinct nutty edge did little with the desserts pistachio topping.

Dessert WineWine Tasting Note: Antinori Donato Vin Santo, NV, Italy.
From Waitrose for £6.99.

A mahogany colour with a lightly alcoholic nose. The palate does have an edge of sweetness but far from being 'sticky' it has a nutty, sherry-like, almost dry finish. Hints of caramel and coffee permeate the burnt fig flavour. Very distinctive. Alcohol 16.5%.

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

Dow's Estate Selection Port, NV, Douro, Portugal

Dows Estate Selection PortAs my slightly numb head this morning testifies, this humble little bottle of port is very, very drinkable. At just £4.99 it is also rather good value although I am not convinced that the full price of £9.99 can quite be justified. My local WineRack has a stack on the counter for those tempted by impulse; they just knew I would take the bait...

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Dow's Estate Selection Port, NV, Douro, Portugal.
Available from WineRack for £4.99.

Good depth of fruit and a quite lovely fresh berry edge on first tasting. The palate is rounded and rich and ends dry with a little burst of tannin. Flavours are good with hints of chocolate, coffee, plum and spice. A fine ruby port. Alcohol 19%.

A lovely warming winter tipple and great with a mince pie; hence the solitary Waitrose specimen in the photo 'cause I had eaten all the others by the time I came to take the photo; ' love a mincepie, I do.
Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Elysium Black Muscat - a picture for February

calendar February A commission came my way a few weeks ago to provide a 12 photographs to adorn a promotional calendar. The brief was to provide a series of wine and food images using wines from a small independent merchants list. I'm sure you can work out which month this sample pic covers! It was a slightly rushed job really - limited time, limited props, limited budget. Trying to make an image taken outside on a cold October morning have a passing resemblance to a warm summers afternoon was a little tricky. Still I'm rather chuffed with the results.

The calendar is/will soon be available. And talking of 'available' - if your product list or website could benefit from quality images - after all the Internet is a visual medium and a picture says a thousand words, I'm available!

Another picture from the calendar next week.

Wine Tasting Note: Quinta do Infantado Vintage, 2003, Douro, Portugal

Quinta do Infantado Vintage Port 2003

Red WineWine Tasting Note: Quinta do Infantado Vintage, 2003, Douro, Portugal.
Available from Independents including The Secret Cellar £27.99 and Nickolls & Perks £115.67 for six.
Dry with a slick tannic edge. Flavours are comples - you have a deep, rich blackberry base off which hangs blackcurrants, raisins, dark chocolate and biscuits. A distinctive minty edge too. Good long length. Alcohol 19.5%. Silver Medal at the 2006 International Wine Challenge.

Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

While it is fine to stick with the well known brands, especially as many are promoted and discounted in the run up to Christmas, the lesser estates such as this Quinta do Infantado are often worth exploring. Quinta do Infantando was one of the first privately owned properties to produce and sell its own wines. Their first single quinta (vineyard) wine was launched in 1979.

The Big Book of Sherry Wines

The Sherry Council of Jerez has published the Big Book of Sherry Wines - a book described as 'combining an educational almanac with a glossy coffee book'.

One out of three bottles of Sherry consumed in the world are sold in the United Kingdom, the largest market outside of Spain.

"The book acts as a tour guide to its readers taking them on a trip into the heart of Jerez and its 3,000 year old origins, up until the time Jerez ‘discovered’ America evolving into the Sherry we know and drink today. Newcomers will also benefit from the books explanation of the unique ways in which Sherry is made, screening the journey that the wine takes from vineyard to bottle, showcasing all varieties, presented one by one, from palest to darkest, driest to sweetest. The book demonstrates that there is a Sherry for every occasion, every taste and every drinker!

Top sherry ‘Maestros’ share their winemaking secrets and experiences, direct from the bodega. Other top specialists from the gastronomy, cultural, historical and oenological fields also contribute to the book, enabling readers to engage with the beauty of Jerez, giving an introduction to its people, customs and innovative architecture. Combined with beautiful imagery, the book shows off the new found vitality and glamour within today’s Jerez at the same time as staying grounded in its tradition."

The Big Book Of Sherry is priced at £30 and is available only from Witham Wines.

Port and Port Styles.

Over the last three weeks an overview of the differing styles of port, penned by me, has appeared on the new Wine Sediments blog. I love a good port...

Wine Tasting Note: Graham's Malvedos Port, 1995, Portugal.

Graham's Malvedos 1995
Another single quinta (vineyard) port and one from the producers top vineyard. While 1995 was not declared as a vintage year the grapes from the Malvedos vineyard were deemed good enough to go into this wine. And grief people, what a wine!

Wine Tasting Note: Graham's Malvedos Port, 1995, Portugal.
Available for £30 a bottle.
Dense, dense colour. Not a huge amount to the nose but I am trying this after a few days after the bottle was opened so it may have lost a little, but the palate is simply stunning. The balance between the richness, the sweetness, the deliciousness of the fruit and the tannic backbone, the structure and the complex prune and spice flavours is superb. Opulent and rich. Like the other single quinta ports I have recently reviewed this will throw a heavy deposit and will need decanting. What a great way to start the year.
Scribblings Rating - 96/100

The south facing vineyard is one of the top estates along the River Douro. It's 68 hectares are planted with a mix of Touriga Francea, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao and Tinta Amarela.

Wine Tasting Note: Croft Quinta da Roeda, 1987, Douro, Portugal.

Croft Quinta Da Roeda 1987
Quinta da Roeda has the quaint tradition of planting a tree every year they produce a port from the vineyard. For 1987 a eucalyptus was selected; the leaves appear on the wines label abet faintly. This is a single vineyard wine (Quinta); not a full port vintage (which uses the very best grapes from across a range of properties) even though made from grapes from a single year. It will mature quicker than the top flight vintages. In my opinion they offer superb value for money.

Wine Tasting Note: Croft Quinta da Roeda, 1987, Douro, Portugal.
Available from Majestic £13.99 Cambridge Wine £18.99.
A mature nose, chocolately, coffee, medicinal hints. The palate is very appealing - a surge of delicious berry fruit, sweetness upfront, that dissipates into a quite mature mid-palate with hints of mint, chocolate and prunes. Big, full-bodied. But the richness quickly subsides into a dried, prune aftertaste. Croft themselves suggest that this specific vintage will be "perfection within ten to fifteen years" which means it's about as good as it will ever be.
Scribblings Rating - 94/100

Two Ports - Fonseca and Delaforce 20 year old's.

This was a tricky comparison. On initial opening there were few distinguishing differences; both had slightly differing hues and subtle differences in the aroma but trying to tell them apart was difficult. So I went down the pub. Leaving them to breath certainly assisted in spotting variations later. Or maybe it was the Brakspears!

Delaforce Curious and Ancient
Wine Tasting Note: Delaforce Curious and Ancient 20 Year Old Tawny, NV, Douro, Portugal.
Around £32 from independents (such as WineRaks)
Brownish colour and hints of toffee on the nose. The palate is rich and rounded full of redcurrant fruit backed up by toffee and a delicacy. Comparing it to the Fonseca I did think that the palate was a touch too full and lacks a modicum of delicacy. Still lovely though.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Fonseca 20 Year Old
Wine Tasting Note: Fonseca Aged Tawny Port 20 Year Old, NV, Douro, Portugal.
Available for around £30 (Fortnum and Mason list this at £34).
This was superb - in fact still is as I am sipping this while typing. Comparing it to the Delaforce this has a darker hue and is red in tone. More pronounced nose too. Sweeter fruit leading into a broader more complex palate. Plummy with stewed fruits, hints of coffee and currants. Good long length. Bottled in 2005.
Scribblings Rating - 94/100

Details of the style - aged tawny - can be found on a post concerning Taylor's 20 year old.

Wine Tasting Note: Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal.

'Tis the season for port - trah la la. Who drinks port in the summer for goodness sake? Well me actually; a rather nice chilled white port that might also make a decent aperitif in these colder months.

Tawny Port - available at plenty of differing price points and in various styles too (oh the confusion) . You can have non-aged tawnys and those with an age indication and those that don't mention tawny at all! There are actually two differing styles of tawny. In theory tawny indicates that the wine has been aged in wood for a longer period than a ruby, aged, in fact, until the colour turns to an amber-orange hue. But much of what passes as tawny (we are talking the cheaper end of the spectrum) is no older than a ruby and is offered often at the same price.

So what's the difference? a ruby is made from a blend of big, richly coloured wines while a tawny is usually made from lighter styled wines. They are paler coloured and can have their colour adjusted by adding a little white port too. These are the money making bulk wines of many producers.

But a true tawny, such as this one, is in a different league. A step up in age from a 10 year old the 20 is where tawny port combines the delicacy and complexity of an aged wine with the fruit and freshness of a younger wine. They don't come cheap mind due to the stocks required of maturing wine that are required to deliver a consistent house style. Labels of aged tawnys should carry a bottling date (this one is 2004). They do not improve in bottle; are ready to drink on release and can deteriorate if left hanging around.

Wine Tasting Note Taylor's 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal.
Available from Sainsbury's, Majestic, Selfridges and Threshers for £29.99.
On opening a mass of sun-dried raisins and a touch of meatiness. In the glass quite spirity but a beautiful colour though, crystal clear, pale rose coloured tawny (obviously). "Check out the legs on that" piped up Rob. I assume he was referring to the glass. Mellow and rich with broad complexity hints of chocolate, prunes and blackberries. Stewed plums. Touch of almonds. Plum crumble. Quite a spirity finish though and I was expecting the acidity to be softer. Lovely though and a glorious companion to a decent mince-pie. As I said 'tis the season...
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Although this style of wine will keep a few days before the delicacy of fruit diminishes, I resisted the temptation to finish the bottle (not all on my own I hasten to add) as I have several other tawnys to sample and I would like to compare... more to come...

Wine Tasting Note: Croft Distinction Port, Portugal.

The first port of the year. It is a 'basic' ruby port - ruby being the intro level of port and one I guess most people will consume this winter. Most ruby is now labelled under brand names - such as here.

Wine Tasting Note: Croft Distinction Port, NV, Douro, Portugal.
Widely available for around £8.99.
Most of the grapes used in this bottle hail from Quinta do Roeda (farm of the rumbling water) Coft list this as Vintage Character which is confusing as there is no sediment for a start, which you would get from a true vintage, and it is a blend of ports from more than one harvest. Vintage Character ports are premium rubies aged, in wood, in bulk for five to seven years. Lovely deep colour within colour with a lovely, very attractive aroma. Flavours are strong and forthright being a mix of deep mulberry and raspberry. Good complexity. Excellent value for money. Alcohol 20%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

TN: Carlyle Wines Classic Rutherglen Muscat, NV, Victoria, Australia.

Wine Tasting Note: Carlyle Wines Classic Rutherglen Muscat, NV, Victoria, Australia.
Available from Bonhote Foster for £6.99 half bottle.
A contender for the recent Wine Blogging Wednesday challenge for accompanying a rich chocolate cake. Rutherglen muscats are a unique Australian style of fortified wine; and this is a fine example. A stunning green tinged tawny colour with a heady aroma full of cream, toffee and burnt orange. Add brandy-snaps to this mouth-filling array and you have the palate. Delicious.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100

Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red-Wine Syrup.

Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Syrup
Sugar High Friday Entry
This Friday is a special Friday. It's A 'Sugar High Friday' Friday! The Spittoon entry this month is Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red Wine Syrup, served with a rich and unctuous Australian Rutherglen Muscat.

Continue reading "Chocolate Tart with Cherries in Red-Wine Syrup." »