Posts by ewanlacey:
Just back after a lovely afternoon on Gaby’s show which was dedicated to Blue.
We tasted and enjoyed some wines from Montes, the excellent Chilean producer. Images are posted below. The Chardonnay was delicious and a great barbecue wine for white meat, fish or vegetarian options.
The Malbec, Carmenere and Purple Angel are all beautifully balanced: very powerful, yet with precise fruit flavours and good mouth-watering acidity.
To listen to the show, you can follow this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p017vnp0
Book now for an evening of fine wines, fantastic food, fabulous people and a great time with Ewan and ‘John.’
As many of you are aware, John is currently involved in a project in California and so whilst he won’t be there in person, I’m very happy to announce that we will have a live-link up with John from Malibu on the plasma screen.
We thought it would be a great opportunity to look at wines from California and to take the opportunity to have a mini-masterclass as we look at how and why those wines taste like they do, what inspired them, what’s new and how well they go with food.
We’ve created a Californian-influenced menu and can’t wait to see you there.
We’ll meet for an aperitif at 7pm before enjoying a four course feast matched with eight fabulous wines that show just what it is that makes California so special!
The event is taking place on the evening of Wednesday May 15th priced at £89 per person which includes aperitif and canapes followed by a four course dinner matched with 8 wines, coffee, water, service and VAT.
I’m looking forward to it already!
Who are we and what’s it all about?
Our wine club is based on a club we used to run together in Mayfair for five years. The idea is very simple: we select some great wines, pick one of our favourite restaurants, come up with a great menu, invite some great people and then have a lovely time.
The evening itself is very relaxed and informal with a strong accent on fun and discovering new things. If you’re still enjoying learning more about wine; it’s the perfect chance for you to find the answers to any questions you might have. For those of you who already know quite a bit about wine, we’ll have some very special wines for you to enjoy.
We’re working with some very exciting wine producers and some of London’s very best chefs and restaurateurs; at the same time, we know that everyone loves a bargain so we’re able to offer places at our events for the same price you’d pay yourself for a lovely dinner with top quality, matched wines.
John Davey is London’s best host. He’s a legendary front of house man and has run some of London’s best restaurants from classics Mosiman’s, Morton’s, The Lanesborough and Bibendum to modern 2 Star Michelin classics The Ledbury and The Square. What he does can’t be put down in words, but the feeling he brings to an evening is nothing short of magical.
Ewan Lacey is a wine expert with over 20 years experience in the field. He reaches millions of people through his writing in the national press, television and radio appearances.
Passionate about wine, but never more so than when he has the chance to pair it with food to share the delights of great food, great wine and great company.
With such a broad range of wines on the market, a feeling of bamboozlement is a common experience for consumers. There are ways out of this that can lead to a feeling of clarity and confidence when buying wine: our own recognition of a wine, a recommendation from a trusted wine writer or a tip off from a friend. What we are seeking is the thumbs up from someone who has had no involvement in bringing any particular bottle to the shelf.
A further source of endorsement is an award. However, the degree of trust consumers will have in these badges of honour will depend to a degree on how well-understood is the judging process used to determine the quality of the wine.
With this in mind, I want to take the opportunity to pull back the curtain and share the methods used by The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in judging wines.
I was invited to judge wines for The IWSC and made my way to deepest Surrey to their offices which, incidentally, overlook the Top Gear race track. Once I’d found my way there it was time for an induction into how the judging is conducted. Despite having 20 years experience with wine this was still a compulsory step for me.
What struck me first was the way that the judging is structured to ensure impeccable standards of fairness.
Let me explain. There were six judges and a chair on our panel meaning that not only was there more than 100 years of tasting experience around the table, but also the likelihood of us all misjudging the wine is reduced very significantly.
Further, the wines are all served ‘blind.’ The only information we had on the wines was a number printed on the glass, where they were from, which grape variety had been used, some vintage information and a broad indication to quality, for example, was the wine a grand cru.
So, we did not know who had produced the wine, from which particular vineyard or the price that the wine was to be sold for. This is very important, because it means that all that is being judged is the wine in the glass, and this is the vital for the consumer to know.
The assessment of each wine follows a rigorous process, we assess the look and aroma of the wine before tasting to see how well the wine is balanced. Each of us then evaluated the wine: is it typical for the grape variety and location? Does it have the necessary depth of flavour? Is it complex or simple? Could the winemaker have done anything else to improve the wine? At this point, as I contemplated the wine, I’d make a short-hand tasting note to round out my judgement. Finally, we give the wine a score based on all of the above factors.
At the end of each flight of wines we announce our scores for the wines in turn. If one judge had an ‘outlying’ score, either higher or lower than the others, there would be the opportunity to say why. After that discussion had closed the wines were awarded their first round score. This is then translated into an award of Gold, Silver, Bronze or no award. Certain wines which had scored highly or which are on the cusp between two levels are tasted again by a separate panel.
The wines are then sent for a formal analysis in the lab to make sure that they have been well-made. Whilst much of the information the lab will uncover may not be very interesting to the ultimate consumer, it is worth noting that no wine will receive an award without a clean bill of health.
What struck me, beyond the rigour of the process, was just how very good a wine has to be even to wine a Bronze from The IWSC, it is a very high-standard. Winners of a Silver medal really are exceptional and Gold medal winners will be an absolute treat: we only awarded Gold medals to two wines from a full day of judging wines which were very, very good.
Since being a judge, I must admit that seeing The IWSC badge on a wine has influenced my buying habits, particularly when I see an award on a bottle that costs less than ten pounds. It indicates, for me, that I’m looking at an excellent alignment of price and quality and that’s good enough for me.
I had initially chosen wines that I thought would fit in very well with spring, but, given today’s weather, needed to think about what works well in the snow.
I chose wines from Bordeaux which have all the refreshment and elegance you could wish for, but also have plenty of heart and are big enough to cheer the soul and warm the heart even on wintry days like today.
If you caught the show and wanted to see pictures of the wines, here they are:
If you missed the show and want to hear it, this link will take you there.
We began with the wonderful Chateau de Sours, which is a fabulously ‘grown-up’ rose wine.
Fabulously refreshing and so well balanced that you could enjoy it equally well on a cold miserable day or on a wonderful sunny warm one. We can but dream.
Next (about 90 minutes into the show) we tried a white Bordeaux.
The wine has been fermented in a barrel – most are fermented in steel tanks or concrete vats – this gives the wine richness and a good depth of flavour.
It’s mainly made from Sauvignon Blanc, but has been blended with Sauvignon Gris and Semillon and this lends more weight and interest to the wine.
A fantastic red and one that would work very well with lamb, whether a slow roasted lamb shank or quickly grilled chops.
Being from Montagne St Emilion, it’s merlot dominated and again has the perfect balance between it’s savoury, refreshing edge and the weight of fruit and subtle oak influence.
A lovely wine which offers a great window into the reds of the ‘right bank.’
This had plenty of sweetness which was matched with just the right amount of refreshment.
Lovely with a tart tatin or blue cheese.
What keeps life in the drinks industry continually exciting and interesting is the non-stop discovery of the new. Every year we see new vintages from classic vineyards and innovative drinks from established distilleries, but it doesn’t stop there. The boundaries are always being pushed, there’s always another corner of the globe making something special.
Being closely associated with the International Wine and Spirits Competition, I’m becoming a judge, certainly helps when seeking out new discoveries. The IWSC, is the longest established, competition in the drinks industry and has been awarding excellence to wines and spirits since 1969.
The IWSC offers a unique lens into this new world as new producers seek out the verdict on what they have to offer. Looking over the list of award winners from last year’s competition, there was one area I was very keen to investigate more: Wales.
Whilst I’m very familiar with the high quality produce – meat, fish and veg – that Wales can put on the kitchen table, I knew nearly nothing about the drinks revolution that is sweeping the country.
Starting in the Wye Valley, I tasted the wines of Ancre Hill Estate (near Monmouth.)
Ancre Hill Estates, Sparkling Rose, 2008
The wine has a lovely onion skin colour, bright and pale. Upon opening, the wine offered only a faint aroma, this soon developed and I could detect tones of candied fruit balanced by richer notes of brioche. The wine is, as it says on the bottle, extra dry and it certainly does offer plenty of refreshment with mouth-watering apple flavours leading into further dimensions of strawberry and peach.
Awarded a Bronze by the IWSC, and deservedly so.
Ancre Hill Estates Welsh Pinot Noir, 2009
Bright, vibrant and purple; the long ripening period has given the wine a lovely nose with warming aromas of cherries and sunny afternoons. In the mouth, it is savoury and fresh with raspberry, sour cherry and even quince.
The wine evoked burgundy from the last century (every wine writer must at some point evoke the last century.) It is a dry, savoury wine which will come into its own with succulent Welsh lamb.
Another worthy winner of a Bronze at the IWSC especially when we consider that the vineyards from which it sprang have only recently been planted. I will be following Ancre Hill with interest and am keen to see how the wines become even better as the vines mature.
If you weren’t aware of Welsh wines, you may have been aware of Welsh spirits, they’ve been doing very nicely for a while now – the water is perfect for distilling.
The biggest compliment I can pay to Brecon gin is that it’s too good to use in a gin and tonic. Now, I’m very partial to a G and T in the summer, but this is something that you really want to sip and sample on its own. It is smooth, soft, evenly balanced and structured in such a way that it reveals layers of flavours one after the next. The juniper gives way to citrus zest and then to coriander and other green, fresh flavours. If you do insist on having it mixed, use it as the base for a martini.
This is an outstanding drink and it is easy to see why it won a Gold Medal, from the IWSC. Sheer class.
As the snow blankets the country I’m planning a mission of mercy to liberate a bottle or two of wine from a cold and lonely shelf somewhere in west London.
In this weather, it has to be red, robust and warming: something to enjoy by the fireside and with a lovely hearty meal.
It could well be time to indulge in that classic match of lamb with something delicious from the Medoc.
Watch Matt Dawson’s take on it here:
As mentioned previously, I had enormous fun tasting some of Matt Dawson’s fabulous recipes and matching them with wines from Bordeaux.
Evidence has been emerging of our day together ever since and for the first time, I can share some of it with you.
I hope you enjoy!
PS Soon I’ll be releasing details of my Bordeaux Wine School which I’ll be running in The City, watch this space.
I’m not sure how many times they turn up when people google ‘turkey and wine,’ but the people at Turkey Flat Vineyards certainly know how make brilliant wine.
Whilst hosting an event yesterday, I served their Butchers Block Red. What a wine. It’s a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (GSM) and what made the wine stand out was that whilst the blending had produced a deliciously smooth wine, I could still taste the contribution of each grape.
The Grenache gave the wine a lovely soft, sweet approach which lead to the Shiraz and its notes of rich plum and pepper which then segued to the darker, brooding, savoury tones of the Mourvedre. This was a wine with a beginning, middle and an end.
As the rain began to lash against the windows of The Don Restaurant, our venue, I couldn’t think of a better antidote to the cold of winter than this marvellous wine.
Would it go well with Turkey? Yes, sure, but there are other wines I’d choose before it. Save this for red meat that’s been slowly and lovingly prepared – just like this wine.
The Don Restaurant is a gem, if you’re ever in The City, it is well worth visiting, the service and food, yesterday were outstanding.
For more details on the wine, go to:
I found the wine offered for £11.99 each if you buy 2 bottles from Majestic (http://www.majestic.co.uk/find/product-is-19005)
So, you did it. You over did it. What seemed like a good idea at the time, turned out to be that fatal, one drink too many.
You wake up feeling as if your body has been nicked by some boy racers, taken for a joy ride around the streets before being torched. Pain bulges in your head, sand courses through your veins, your tongue sticks to the roof of your mouth; your eyes don’t want to open.
If you want the rest of the day to be bearable, what do you do?
The first thing to do is to hop into your time machine. Go back to last night and drink the odd glass of water; pace your drinking and make sure you eat before you spot the kebab shop.
If you don’t have a time machine, then it’s not too late.
All kinds of hangover cures have been put forward, but let me tell you what works for me. This is best done before you go to bed and then repeated in the morning, however, if you ‘forget’ to do it before bed time, it still works the next morning.
It doesn’t sound nice, but it’s worth it. Put a spoonful of sugar and a pinch of salt into a large glass of water and use it to wash down a couple of ibuprofen. It doesn’t taste good, but it does help to replace some lost fluids and numb the pain.
Please note, that this only works for normal, human-sized hangovers. If you’ve really gone to town, just ask yourself what would your mum say, get back under the covers with your guilt and promise to behave better next time.
This is the time of year when it’s really worth having around a case of something good and easy drinking that won’t break the bank.
A wine that you can open if someone drops by with a Christmas card, you can take to a party or give to the postie or milkman as a festive gift: I’m talking about an ‘any excuse’ wine, in other words.
Coming in at a year-round price of £4.49 it’s very difficult to beat. Despite what we might want it to be, supermarkets know that the average spent on a bottle of wine is still less than five pounds. So they are going out of their way to find wines that are fun to drink for this kind of money.
How do they do it?
Huge buying power? Sure.
Efficient distribution? Check.
Large-scale production? You bet.
Savvy wine making? A must.
Some of us might have to get our heads around the fact that this is not a wine made by a small family business with geese and donkeys frolicking around in the vineyard. Pouring a glass will help. This is a lovely, cherry scented, fruity, soft, simple wine meant to be enjoyed without fuss, an everyday pleasure that I’m glad to have on hand and happy to share with friends.