Friday, 21 June 2013

Loire Valley Wine

SH Jones is a fantastic wine merchants having shops in Leamington Spa, Bicester and Banbury. Earlier in the year Hubby and I enjoyed one of their wine tasting evenings with Matthew Jukes at the Angel Hotel in Leamington. Last weekend we travelled to Banbury for their Loire Valley Wine Tasting in The Old Wine Shop.

Banbury is just over an hour away for us but because of the nature of our trip we booked into the Holiday Inn Express for the night. The hotel was easy to find, just off the M40; very welcoming receptionist and a great room.

We decided to walk into Banbury, about 20 minutes. The town is a mix of old and new; plenty of modern shops, Castle Quay shopping centre, a canal, old buildings and The Banbury Cross. The Old Wine Shop is a beautiful Grade II listed building that dates back to mid-1500s.

The Old Wine Shop
Side view of The Old Wine Shop
First to arrive we were warmly welcomed, the shop is just a dream; olde worlde setting with shelves filled with wines from around the world, whiskeys and an array of other bottled alcohiolic delights including Hook Norton beer (another of our previous travels).

The intimate setting, small tables laid with 8 tasting glasses, confirmed our anticipation of the wine tasting experience. SH Jones had selected 8 wines from the Loire Valley, varying in location across this central region of France.

Cave des Vignerons de Saumur, La Grande Marqu NV (Anjou region)– Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, a light traditionally produced sparkling wine.

Auguste Bonhomme, Domaine Le Fief de la Brie, Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2011 (Pays Nantes region) – Melon de Bourgogne, a white wine with a richness from cask ageing, a light nose with a hint of lemon, a taste of freshness with light citrus and melon.

Oisly et Thesee, 'Les Mazelles’ Sauvignon de Touraine 2010 (Touraine region) – Sauvignon Blanc, a nose of gooseberries and kiwi with the recognisable sauvignon taste, very similar to Sancerre.

Jean Pabiot et Fils, Domaine des Fines Caillottes, Pouily Fume 2011 (Centre region) - Sauvignon Blanc, a golden wine with a deep nose, rich flavour with a hint of smokiness.

Baumard, Clod du Papillon, Savennieres 2005 (Anjou region) - Chenin Blanc, unusual mineral nose but then a honey and marizpan pallette.

Andre Dezat et Fils, Sancerre Rouge 2011 (Centre region) - Pinot Noir, light fruit fragrance matched with light fruity flavour.

Domaine de la Contrie, Saint Nicolas de Bourgeil 2010 (Touraine region) - Cabernet Franc, classic red with depth and definition in the glass, on the nose and on the pallette.

Baumard, Quarts de Chaume 2007  ((Anjou region)- Chenin Blanc, a superb bouquet of sweet fruit and honey, with a pure nectar flavour with a perfect sweetness

I didn't make tasting notes on the night - I wish I had. Hopefully my memory has remembered the noses and pallettes to the correct wine.We did have a great information sheet which I could have jotted things down on ... if I hadn't been so busy tasting!! Our favourites were the Touraine and the Cabernet Franc both of which now reside in Cellar H, chez nous.

The  shop has an amazing variety of good quality wines; wines from particular areas of the world with a pleasingly large selection from France. Cellar H has also welcomed a couple of other French  bottles; Pasquiers Sauvignon Vermentino 2011, a crisp fruity wine, and Château Pastureau 2009 Bordeaux, a  deep cherry red.

Pasquiers Sauvignon Vermentino 2011
We had a superb evening; S H Jones’ events are definitely ones not to be missed !!

If you enjoyed reading this blog please leave a comment - thank you

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wales and Lanson Rose

Our half term holiday was filled with a variety of activities, some far more exciting than others. Firstly we went to Wales to our caravan and thankfully the sun decided to shine.

Saturday morning with did our favourite walk with Ruby - parking at Morfa Mawddach and walking across the railway bridge into Barmouth. It is a stunning walk which we never tire of.

Barmouth Bridge
Mawddach Estuary
It's about a 4 mile walk by the time we have crossed the bridge from Morfa Mawddach train station, walked up to the far end of Barmouth for a coffee at Min Y Mor Hotel and back across the bridge - tiring for everyone, but especially for Ruby dog who then sleeps all afternoon.

Sunday afternoon we crossed a new bridge - the Wales Coastal Path now has a footbridge crossing the Dysynni River just north of Tywyn.

New Dysynni Bridge
The views from the other side were amazing - new to us as we've never crossed this part of the river before. We walked inland to Tonfanau where the Bank Holiday Motorcycling race event was happening on the old airfield - Tonfanau was an Anti-Aircraft Training Camp in World War II

Training Camp in World War II

Although the Bank Holiday Monday was a wet day we had a lovely weekend in a part of the country we love - we took family with us and had a small celebration with a bottle of Lanson Rose Champagne. If you are regular reader of my blog it was one of the bottles from my Tesco Mystery Case I mention in April's post.

It was a delicious glass of very good champagne - the glass was filled with an amber liquid that shone with sparkling highlights. The small bubbles were light, very active in the glass but not a gaseous champagne.

Nose: a light peach fragrance, nothing overpowering

Taste: no outstanding fruit but a very subtle blend of peach, nectarine with a slight hint of fennel.

We enjoyed this before dinner unaccompanied but it would suit a very light starter or lunchtime meal; prawn or salmon especially.

We have had another delivery from Tesco to taste and review - the Tesco Community Gold members have been asked to try Freixenet Cordon NegroFreixenet Cordon Oro.

Cordon Negro & Cordon Oro

With being away we have yet to try these sparklers but they are both in the fridge ready for the weekend - I just need to think about food pairing - it may be we try the Oro unaccompanied as it's a semi-seco.

There always seems to be something going on or wine to be enjoyed - and soon we'll be visiting SH Jones, Banbury and Cardiff - so more news, tips and travel soon.