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Monday, 15 January 2018

More Pizzas, Pots and Pints

Cambridge is to get a second Pizza, Pots and Pints, the award-winning artisan pizza-and-beer pub from Charles Wells.

The chain first launched in Cambridge in 2015 at The Salisbury Arms and is to open another site at The Carpenter’s Arms on Victoria Road at the end of March 2018, making this the fifth Pizza, Pots and Pints in the region.

If you like the sound of freshly made artisan pizzas, cooked in wood-fired ovens, warming terracotta pots of comfort food like mac n cheese with bottled craft beers, pints of cask ale, and wines and spirits from across the world, plus events and menu deals such as 2-4-1 Mondays, Live Music on a Friday, or Sunday Roast, there will always be something happening at The Carpenter’s Arms that locals can be a part of.

If you can't wait until March, check out The Salisbury Arms in the meantime.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Three Wines from Austria's Höpler - And A Wine Club

Weingut Höpler from Austria's Burgenland

Burgenland is the lower-lying corner of south-east Austria near the Hungarian border and Lake Neusidl; warmed by southerly breezes, the region produces perhaps Austria's greatest variety of wines, with reds, whites and dessert wines all performing well.

The hallmark Burgenland wines is a generous, southerly warmth and ripeness that is very different to, say, the steely, poised focus of the Wachau.

Family-owned winery Höpler, based in Burgenland, has just launched the Höpler Wine Club; twice a year, the club will provide the opportunity to discover a selection of six exclusive wines from Höpler, not yet widely available in the UK.

I tried out a white, red and a sticky.

Gruner Veltliner 2016 (£12.50, Great Western Wines) classic gruener aromas of white pepper, elderflower and puy lentils with ripe, fleshy stone fruits, substantial texture and a fresh, mineral backbone.


Match with a plate of antipasti, meaty white fish or roast white meats.

Blaufrankisch 2013 (£12.95, Great Western Wines) fresh dark cherry and elderberry fruits with complex roasted spices and fine tannins. Fresh, long and mineral.


Match with meaty fish or darker game.

Höpler, TBA (37.5cl) , 2015 (£22.50, Great Western Wines) oily and viscous late-harvest, botrytised sticky, full of roasted peaches, clove and nutmeg spice, beeswax and honey only just held in check by a mineral freshness.


Match with rich desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding or pecan and date tart.

For more details on Wine Club membership visit: http://www.hoepler.at/files/uk_membership_details_1.pdf

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Whisky for Burns Night - Isle Of Jura 10 Year Old Single Malt

A single malt whisky from The Co-op

From the mountainous Inner Hebrides island of Jura, this whisky is sweet, peaty and easy-drinking - perfect for a Burns supper with friends.

Isle Of Jura 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky (£35.49 - reduced to £24.99 from 24 Jan – 13 Feb 2018 inclusive) lightly peaty with spicy citrus, florality and honey; sweet and heather-honeyed with nutmeg, allspice and cloves finishing with a warm sweetness.


Match with cock-a-leekie soup, haggis and cranachan; or just sip after dinner.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Beating Blue Monday - Viña Real

Tell me, how do I feel
Tell me now, how should I feel

- Blue Monday, New Order (1983)

The concept of Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, was created by the holiday company Sky Travel in 2005 and is generally considered pseudoscience.

However, January is - let's face it - a fairly depressing month generally, so here are two sunny wines from Viña Real to bring some reassuring warmth to an otherwise chilly and uncelebratory time of year.

Crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated, they are easy to enjoy without dumbing down.

Viña Real Crianza 2013 (£11.65, Fortnum & Mason, independents) ripe bramble fruits with fruitcake and roasted spices; fresh, mineral and woodsy-earthy with fine tannins.

Match with rosemary and garlic lamb.

Viña Real Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015 (£11.45 independents) ripe apple-and-pear fruit with lime zest and layered, toasty-oaky spice; floral, citrussy and fresh with a rounded, creamy palate.


Match with mixed antipasti or white meat and fish.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Johann Wolf Pinot Gris 2016

A German Pinot Gris from Virgin Wines

They say life's too short for a German wine label; fortunately, this Pinot Gris is much easier to decipher.

With a simple, New-World style label and a dry finish, it is deliciously well-made; ripe, balanced and very easy to enjoy.

Johann Wolf Pinot Gris 2016 (£10.99) ripe yellow stone fruit and sweet spices with freshness and minerality.


Drink as an aperitif, with fish or white meat.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

NYE Fizz from Martini

Two bottles of Italian fizz from Martini for New Year's Eve - available at Ocado

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one.
Without any fear.

- "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" John & Yoko / Plastic Ono Band, 1971

New Year's Eve requires fizz, generally not the best stuff - which you will have already consumed over Christmas.

These two bottles of fizz from Italy's Martini are enjoyable and inexpensive easy-drinking.

Martini Rosé (£6.99, Ocado) ripe, soft red-berry fruits with zippy freshness; juicy and uncomplicated.

Martini Asti DOCG (£6.99, Ocado) aromatic, floral, sherbetty and sweet - light in alcohol and fresh, it is like fizzy elderflower lemonade.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Wines from Your Sommelier

Three Christmas Wines from Your Sommelier

I've been very impressed with Your Sommelier's wines before - and equally underwhelmed by their somewhat Gallic approach to marketing; awkward name, clumsy website, clunky offers.

The A5 hand-outs and folder that came with these wines bespoke enthusiasm, but were reminiscent of a '90s Laithwaites offer, but there is no doubting the quality of the wines.

Crémant d'Alsace Blanc de Blancs Brut N.V. - Domaine Vincent Stoeffler (£13.90) fresh, fruited and floral with citrus, creaminess and white stone fruits; fine mousse and mineral backbone. Poised, well-defined and elegant.


Drink as a aperitif or match with oysters, shellfish or pork rilletes.

Château Moulin de l'Espérance "Cuvée Ulysse" 2014 - Bordeaux Supérieur (£12.00) Merlot-dominated Bordeaux blend; juicy red-berry fruit with coffee grounds, pencil shavings, sous-bois and leather. Spicy and peppery with fine tannins and a supple texture; fresh and long. Needs extensive aeration - or several years' cellaring.


Match with roasted red meat.

Gros Manseng Moelleux 2016 Côtes de Gascogne - Vignoble des Aubas (£10.90) more off-dry than a dessert wine; aromatic, slightly pungent with tropical pineapple, guava and passionfruit, beeswax and honey. Sweet-but-fresh and mineral.


Dry and fresh enough for an aperitif, match with soused salmon or fresh fruit flan.