Saturday, 30 May 2009

Enjoying Taylor & Shroff

What a glorious day for an English Vine Tour and wine tasting. The temperature was into the 80's (old money that is!), the vines are on the point of bursting forth into vibrant life just before flower set and bud set. David and Linda Carr Taylor, along with Ben Furst entertained a most wonderful couple! Peter and Colleen Grove from Mood Food.Com. MoodFood.Com is arguably now the UK's foremost and most influential online magazine focusing on ethnic cuisine, with it's main emphasis being towards the curry industry in the UK. over the past 10 years or more Peter and Colleen of MoodFood have delivered solid advice, acted as a point of reference, promoted and influenced the curry industry in the UK. With strong working relationships with Atul Kochar, Enam Ali, Cyrus Todiwala et al.

It was with anticipation that Peter and Colleen ventured down to sample the newest wines about to be launched in the UK. Produced in the heart of East Sussex uniquely to be matched with hot and spicy foods. The range of Taylor and Shroff consists of an off-dry white, an-off dry red, a cherry wine, a ginger wine and an apricot wine. Each wine was served with ice and with the food. Food and wine matching is not always easy and not always an exact science but with Taylor and Shroff it's made easy. Not only were the wines matching and enhancing the food like other wine has ever done, they were fun and exciting with each wine bringing a different experience and opening up over ice wonderfully.

Taylor and Shroff aim to launch in the UK around end of July, early August, starting at Jali restaurant in Hastings on 30th July and being followed by a bigger event to be held at The Nehru Centre in London towards the middle of August and via several events throughout Sussex thereafter. The superb response from Peter and Colleen and their desire to work with Taylor and Shroff in helping to create a successful launch will ensure that these new wines are going to be a massive hit!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Grand Hotel Eastbourne & English Vine Tours

The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, a bastion of old fashioned style, elegance and tradition in today’s modern fast, sometimes trashy and throw away society. Situated on the Kings Parade Seafront in Eastbourne, commanding superb views over both The Downs and The Channel.

Andrew Boon, the Food and Beverage Manager of The Grand is on a half-day vine tour experience so taste first hand the sights of the Sussex countryside, the quality and charm of local wines and vineyards as well as enabling us to sign off combined experiences with The Grand and English Vine Tours. The weather was glorious and the day looked good.

Bud set is now taken place and all the future grapes are in fact in place now as tiny bud sets on the vine growth spurs/shoots. The crop for this year already looks great, the vines looks incredibly healthy, a great omen for this year’s crop and wine.

Having just returned from Champagne Andrew was amazed and pleased to see how clean the vineyard was at Carr Taylor and how fresh and healthy everything looked. Again experiencing a smaller vineyard he got a better grip and understanding of what a vineyard is all about, unlike his recent visit to Champagne where production is so vast that you can’t get a true feeling and taste of a working vineyard.

Carr Taylor, not being satisfied with their recent awards for their wines, are in the process of replacing an entire vineyard, as well as new plantings and vineyards near Bodiam Castle, the future of this venerable English estate has never looked better.

Suffice to say that Andrew thoroughly enjoyed his visit, enjoyed the wines and hopes to be working with Carr Taylor more in the future. Additionally for those of you who wish to experience the joy of The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, coupled with an English Vineyard Tour, look no further!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Three Cheers for English Wine

Three Cheers for English Wine

It was International Wine Awards time again this week, another year where accolades of medals are handed out to the wines that tickled the judges fancy. Most years a plethora of medals are awarded to wines bottled under multiple labels (Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference etc), as well as the usual plethora of French and Australian wines. Seeing as they enter the most wines for judging it is no surprise. One does wonder if the wines being entered by these giants are in fact what is finally or has been put in the bottle, or am I just being cynical.

Anyway, hurray!! A fantastic year for awards to English wines. A reflection of the strides forward the industry has made in a short period of time. Proving that we have the capability, the right climate, soil and desire. No longer are we a laughed at being a backwater wine producing country, as each year passes our wines grow in respect. Indeed possibly too much as much of the land in the south and south east seems to be falling into Johnny Foreigner’s hands. As a cynic it may be the case that the land and vineyards that are bought by French interest might be a sign that Champagne may not be all it’s hyped up to be?

So the English awards tally was great – 24 medals, 1 Gold (Camel Valley Bacchus), 4 Silver, 7 Bronze and 12 Commended. Out of that 4 were for red wines, this is very interesting. Whilst the awards were for Rondo, Dornfelder and Pinot Noir, I would expect Pinot Noir to continue to develop here and in the not so distant future we will be challenging New Zealand’s Pinot achievements. 13 awards for sparkling wines, they don’t get better anywhere in the world!

A big big well done to Camel Valley, Chapel Down, Whickam Vineyards, Astley Estate, Sharpham Vineyards, Ridgeview Vineyards, Carr Taylor Vineyards, Balfour Estate and anyone else that I may have forgotten.

We all need to be drinking more English wine, it’s clean, fruit driven, made locally and you know where it’s come from, cheers!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Sussex Down College

It's adult learning week and on show was a sampler 2 hour tutorial entitled - An Introduction to Wine. A 5 week course in two parts covering a professional approach to tasting, noble grape varieties and classic wine regions. Part II focuses on English wines with an English Vine Tour.

There were 10 attendees, eager to sample wines, understand more, a desire to be able to decipher the bunkum on the labels of mass-produced hamburger-like wines and much more. As nervous as I was initially I have to say that I really enjoyed myself and I think that all attending had a great time too. Fingers crossed that we have managed to convince a few already to sign on the dotted line. Total costs, including a 5 week course, wines, English Vine Tour is very reasonably priced at £97 per person.

On tasting for the sampler were the following - Alexis Dry White-Carr Taylor Vineyards in East Sussex, Carr Taylor Sparkling Brut NV, Bodegas Vina Cerrada Rioja Joven, Peter Lehmann Wildcard Shiraz and Nathalie Estribeau Cotes du Rhone. We swirrled, sniffed, sucked, spat our way through them all and digested, discussed and debated!

The course can booked direct from Sussex Down College in New Haven, East Sussex from June and starts Thursday 24th September.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Crimson Clover May 2009

It was a fabulous sunny day and our day looked good. First stop was off to Westfield in East Sussex to Carr Taylor Wines. Carr Taylor was established by David & Linda in the late 1960's and were the pioneers of the English wine industry as we know it today. Gaining gold medals way back in the mid-70's and always looking forward.

We sampled some of the finest wines made in the UK, with out a doubt. The dry aromatic Alexis, as good as many Sauvignon Blanc on the market, sparkling Brut and some cracking fruit wines. With this in mind David did mention to us about his latest project - Taylor & Shroff, English wines for curry, I'll keep my eyes out for these!

Having sampled most of the delicious wines on offer at Carr Taylor we headed on down the road to Sedlescombe, a complete contrast. Roy and Irma Cook established their organic vineyard also in the late 60's and early 70's. They were determind from the start to go organic and not only with their wines. Their office is an old caravan and they have even built their own house - a remarkable achievement indeed.

So we sat in the sunshine and sampled some great organic English wines. The diversity in English wines is fantastic, we need to be drinking more of them and not the swill and rubbish that is being continually offered out as so called offers by the multiples!! Come on drinkers of Great Britain lets get patriotic to the core because we're worth it!!

Britain's Heating Up! Chillies Ahoy.....

The Real Food Show, Earl’s Court May 2009. A celebration of real food, produced by real people in the UK. Anything from Jersey oysters to Riverford Foods and local cheeses were on display and available to taste.

On the whole a good show but one thing did stand out – Chillies! Chilly jam, chilli chutney, chilli sauces, chilli pickles, chillies everywhere. It seems that anyone with a few spare meters in their allotment are growing chillies, are we becoming chilli mad? Well as chilli is a main ingredient in many Indian and Curry dishes it is not surprising. The curry industry in the UK turn’s over £3.2billion and employs over 10,000 people on a regular basis. At the heart of the business there have been several MBE’s awarded and now with Benares Restaurant there are Michelin Stars up for grabs.

So I spent a merry afternoon heating up my palette between Aggy’s Sauces, David’s Chilli Oil, Manda Foods Limited, South Devon Chilli Farm, Cafe Spice Namaste (Cyrus Todiwala) and Gurkha Fine Foods (without the ubiquitous Miss Joanna Lumley!)

The problem I have always found is, as much as we all love a good curry what do you drink with it? Regular wine doesn’t really fit and beer is too gassy. The problem it seems has now been solved by David Carr Taylor from Taylor & Shroff (Carr Taylor Wines). Taylor & Shroff, located in East Sussex have created a sweet wine that’s high in alcohol and low in acids and tannins. We sampled some together and I was extremely impressed, the sweetness and high alcohol work in tandem with the heat and open up the fuller flavours of the spices. Taylor & Shroff, David went on to tell me has been successfully launched in India and will be launched in the UK towards the end of June. So the next time you are out for a curry, ask for Taylor & Shroff is the message.

Britain it seems is curry mad and long it may continue.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Recommended Place to Stay: The George Inn, Rye

We're privileged to work with some super and unique hotels across the South East. This month we're pleased to announce that we'll be working with The George Inn in Rye.

The George is a distinguished hotel in Rye. This romantic and luxurious hotel has a restaurant with a menu that offers both fresh and seasonal food. Ingredients are sourced from the local farms of Kent and Sussex. The fish and seafood menu is sourced from the trawlers of Rye Bay. Guests can also experience the romance of the Georgian Ballroom. The George is available for wedding receptions, and aims to be one of the most romantic wedding venues in Sussex.

You can check out exclusive English Vine Tours wine tasting tour packages in conjunction with the George Inn on their website. You might spot someone familiar on their blog too....

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

An Introduction to Wine @ Sussex Downs College

Sussex Down College Newhaven Faculty

An Introduction to Wines
5 Part Series

Enjoy wine and want to learn more? An Introduction To Wine offers you the opportunity to look at wines more closely. Over the 5 tutorials we shall be looking at how to taste wine and assess its quality professionally. Using this knowledge we will then look at classic grape varieties as well as a look at some classic wines from around the world. The last two tutorials focus on English wines, looking at the grape varieties used as well as visiting an English vineyard for a hands on field experience. An additional £5.00 supplement per tutorial for the cost of the wines plus £45.00 for the last tutorial, which will be the field trip. The vineyard trip includes all travel to and from the college, fully guided tour, tutored wine tasting and light lunch. We also recommend that you bring a small bottle of water for drinking during the tutorials.

Tasting & Assessing Wine
£5.00 wine supplement per person
Each student needs to bring 1 glass and water
A look at grapes, basic wine production methods. Sampling 2/3 wines analytical tasting approach and assessing quality
1.5 hours (11 – 12.30)

International Grape Varieties
£5 wine supplement per person
Each student needs to bring 1 glass & water
Looking at 6 classic grapes varieties and tasting together using techniques learned previously. 4-6 wines to sample
1.5hours (11 – 12.30)

Classic Regional Wines
A systematic approach and look at 6 classic wine of the world. Looking at unique styles, flavours of their main grape varieties and characteristics.
1.5hours (11 - 12.30)

An Introduction English Wines (Part1)
£5 wine supplement per person
Each student to bring 1 glass & water
Sampling between 4-6 English wines we assess their quality and unique styles. Focusing on 2-3 vineyards
1.5hours (11 – 12.30)

An Introduction to English Wines (Part 2)
Visit an English Vineyard, in Sussex. Guided vineyard tour, winery tour and tutored wine tasting. This can be run in the morning with a lunch afterwards.
Fully escorted with collection from and return to the college.
£45.00 per person
(10am – 1pm) Collection and return from college

Thursday Tutorials

4 x 1.5 hours from 11-12.30

1 x 3 hours from 10am-1pm