Fortunately, all the staff at Tanners are rather partial to a glass of wine and between them have sipped their way through a vast selection of the Tanners Range! As such, we've popped all their recommendations into this category so they're easy to find.
Those in the know have, for many years, followed Pol Roger’s Blanc de Blancs vintage champagne, laying down a few bottles now and then (it is only released in ‘great’ years like vintage Port) to create an even more satisfying, complex champagne.
Where others often fail in making interesting 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs champagnes, Pol Roger succeeds well, perhaps because they can source 70% of grapes from their own vineyards in top-rated sites in the villages of the Côte des Blancs. 2002 is a shining example, which showed well at its recent launch at Armourers' Hall in London. Patrice Noyelle, managing director of Pol Roger told me that:
“2002 was one of the very best vintages of the 2000s with a hot summer, some rain at the end of August before a mid-September harvest in perfect conditions. Average alcohols of 10.5% were high for Champagne.”
Speaking endearingly in the past tense, as French often do, he finished:
“Every time I tasted it, I loved it!”
For my part I thought it had lovely sweet fruit with a good lick of acidity, great richness and a mineral, steely grip. Long in the mouth, it is superb.
For comparison we drank the 1998, 1990, 1988, 1996 and 1986 with lunch, the 1996 being my favourite as it still had much of the sweetness of youth, while the older wines were fascinating champagnes to savour rather than drink in quantity. To a wine, however, each proved how wonderfully well these champagnes can age.
Spice up Easter with these fantastic recipes to pair with Rhône wines and sign up for our next Masterclass
At the start of 2012 our Tanners branches introduced their ‘six step plan’ to ‘improve your wine knowledge’. OK, so the ‘six step plan’ bit might sound like we are encouraging you to stop enjoying wine, but actually the opposite is true!
They key, we think, is to learn more about wine in order to fully appreciate it. Lots of people first come to Tanners wanting to improve their drinking but not necessarily knowing where to start. That is why we are running half a dozen six-weekly promotions including tutored wine tastings (read more about the next one at the end of this blog), wine tasting cases, wine guides, food and wine matching ideas and competitions, each one focusing on a new region.
We have just started ‘step 2’ which is all about wines from The Rhône so I asked a couple of my friends at Tanners to come up with some recipes to match with wines from the region. Hannah and Mathew both came up with spicy recipes, I hope you are tempted to give them a try. If you like the sound of them, you can order their recommendations on our website by clicking on the links.
Lamb Tagine – recommended by Hannah Schwarzer
My husband and I bought a case of wonderful Rhône red wines ‘Lying Abroad’ not so long ago with the sincere intention of squirreling them away for a few years. However, a few months on and we’re already down to our last bottle.
Yes, we are foolishly impatient, but the main problem is that Rhône reds are just so yummy with food; each time we cook a rich, meaty stew we can’t help pinching another bottle from their (now very roomy) home under the stairs.
Recently we cooked a lamb tagine, whose fruity sweet elements, balanced by deep meatiness and headily perfumed spice, make such a glorious match with Côtes du Rhône wines.
Rich and intense, but with a really pretty, ‘lifted’ feel, the following recipe and wine suggestions would make a lovely dinner-party pairing for spring. The tagine takes a bit of time but is so simple – and the results are just gorgeous!
Ingredients - Serves 4 people
- 2tbs ground cinnamon
- 1tbs ground cumin
- 2tsp crushed black pepper
- 2tsp ground coriander
- 2tsp ground paprika
- 2tsp ground tumeric
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- A couple of packs of diced lamb (a cheap cut like neck)
- 2 large white onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Stock cube (lamb or chicken)
- 1tsp harissa paste (optional)
- Half a pint of passata
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- Splodge of runny honey
- Small handful of raisins
- Large handful of flaked almonds
- Large handful of dried apricots (chopped in half)
- 2 large handfuls of pre-prepared chickpeas (follow instructions on packet/tin)
- Fresh coriander leaves
1. Combine all the dry spices in a large bowl then add the lamb and mix until completely coated.
2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole dish then add the coated lamb.
3. Leave it to fry (stirring occasionally) while you slice the onions and crush the garlic.
4. After the meat has browned (5 mins) add the onions and garlic and fry for a couple more minutes.
5. Throw in the stock cube, a pint of boiling water, the harissa (optional), the passata and the tinned tomatoes and then mix.
6. Bring to a simmer then cover and leave to simmer very gently for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
7. Add the honey, raisins, almonds, apricots and chickpeas and simmer for a further 30 mins (leave the lid on if it’s getting too thick, or take the lid off if the mix could do to thicken up a bit).
8. Mix in a handful of roughly chopped coriander leaves and serve.
This dish is lovely served with lemony, herby couscous.
Try it with La Font du Vent, Notre Passion, Côtes de Rhône Villages, Signargues 2009 - this is a stunning red with sweet violet and kirschy top notes underpinned by oodles of supple, jammy bramble fruit and hints of creamy cassis and rich black cherry. The estate is well-known for its Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this ‘mini’ version represents astoundingly good value.
Château du Grand Moulas, Côtes du Rhône, M Ryckwaert 2010
A real charmer, Château du Grand Moulas has been on Tanners’ list for decades now – it’s so good that we keep going back for more! If you’ve ever attended one of our 'Meet the Producers' tastings, then you’ve probably met winemaker, Marc Ryckwaert, who regularly pops over to present his range, always speaking exclusively in heavily-accented French which bewilders staff and customers alike! His passion for his wines knows no bounds, and this lovely Côtes du Rhône exemplifies his honest, terroir-driven, juicy fruit and elegant spice style. Soft strawberry meets rich blackberry – delightfully easy-drinking.
Barbecued Steaks - recommended by Mat Evans
With spring upon us at last, and the good weather we seem to have had over Easter in the last few years, many of us will be looking for any excuse to get the barbie out of the back of the shed and getting that charcoal nice and hot!
It's difficult to pair many wines with the smoky, charry flavours imparted on barbecued meat; and these meaty dishes often have spicy marinades too. But one area has wines that seem to cope with these big flavours with ease...the Rhône Valley.
Try these recipes and the matching wines and get a few friends round to try them, hopefully it will be the perfect recipe for a successful Easter BBQ! These recipes don't need precise measuring, just adjust them as you see fit - if you want it a bit spicier, add more chilli. Just remember to get the charcoal burning white-hot before you start cooking.
Ingredients - Serves 4-6 people
- 1kg Rump Steak
- Olive Oil
- Chilli flakes, 1tsp
- Rosemary, finely chopped
- Garlic, 3 cloves, finely chopped
- Dark Soy Sauce, 1tbsp
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 Star Anise, crushed
- Root Ginger, 1-inch cube, finely chopped
- Flaky sea salt and ground black pepper
1. Put all the ingredients together except the salt and pepper in a large tub and marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
2. Take out of the fridge 90 minutes before cooking to let the meat come up to temperature, otherwise the meat will still be cold in the middle if you like it rare.
3. Just before placing on the barbecue, sprinkle well with salt and pepper to season and place on the grill. Keep turning every minute or so until you have a lovely crust on the outside, and brush with the marinade every couple of minutes.
To check how well done the meat is, use your hand as a guide! Place your thumb on your index finger and then prod the fleshy part at the base of your thumb with your other hand. It should be quite soft, and this is how your steak will feel when it is rare. Move to your middle finger; this is medium, and your ring finger well done. If the steak feels like it does when you place your thumb on your little finger it's probably best to start again!
Once the meat feels slightly underdone for the way you want it, take it off the coals as it will continue to cook for a short period and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes. This will make the steak lovely and juicy, even when well done. Slice it thick and serve with some salad.
Try this with Le Pigeoulet des Brunier, VdP de Vaucluse 2010 - a blend of mainly Grenache which will cope with the spicy flavours and give delicious ripe fruit, but with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cinsault for crunchy tannins and peppery Syrah too. A perfect combination!
If you're more of a white meat person - the marinade for this recipe can also be adapted for chicken drumsticks; just remember to replace the dark soy with light soy. This would pair perfectly with the Perrin Reserve, Cotes du Rhone Blanc, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Marsanne and Roussanne which works well with the limey character of the marinade, with a lick of ripe fruit to balance out the spice.
Don't forget, if you want to learn more about the wines of The Rhône Valley and you can make it to Shrewsbury on Thursday 26th April at 7pm, then you can book a place at our next Masterclass - led by Tanners' very own Pam Paul. Aimed at beginner level, she will guide you through a broad selection of wines from this diverse region and help you explore the nuances the Rhône has to offer.
Tickets are £15 per person and are guaranteed to sell out if our recent South African Masterclass was anything to go by! You can book your place by calling us on 01743 234455.
UPDATE 16TH APRIL: PLEASE NOTE OUR RHONE MASTERCLASS HAS NOW SOLD OUT. PLEASE TELEPHONE US IF YOU WISH TO BE ADDED TO THE RESERVE LIST.
This post was posted in Food and Wine Matching, Staff Favourites and was tagged with Barbecued Steaks, Château du Grand Moulas, Châteauneuf du Pape, chicken drumsticks, Côtes du Rhône AOC, Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Food and wine matching, La Font du Vent, Lamb Tagine, Le Pigeoulet des Brunier, Marc Ryckwaert, Notre Passion, Perrin Reserve, Red Wines, Rhône, Shrewsbury, Tanners Masterclasses, Tutored wine tasting, Wine, Wine tasting
Romanian wine comes out of the twilight years... Howard gets his teeth into a couple of new arrivals!
Romania is certainly not the first country that springs to mind when thinking of tasting something new (writes Howard Hutchins, Wine advisor in our Shrewsbury Cellar Shop). But perhaps it should be!
Tanners have just started stocking Romanian wines for the first time in living memory, with the Paparuda wine range hosting a Pinot Noir and a Pinot Grigio. They have been extremely well received by staff and customers (and the national press come to that). With both coming in at under £6 a bottle, they also offer seriously good value for money.
There is little dispute that Romania has the perfect conditions for quality wine production with its varied climatic and geographical conditions: it has a great history of wine production dating back centuries and is in fact, Europe’s fifth largest producer. But, it's fair to say, it has had a bit of a turbulent history, with political struggles not really helping its wine industry. However, things are changing - following the privitization of vineyards in the 1990s, there has been massive investment. A great example of this is the new Recas winery, from where we've sourced these wines.
The Paparuda wines, named after a Romanian rain ritual, are made from grapes sourced from a 625-hectare estate located on the fringes of the Transylvania and Banat regions near the city of Timisoara in the west of the country. Wine has been produced here continuously since 1477, in the last 10 years both the vineyard and winery have been completely and exhaustively modernised. The whole process from vineyard to bottle is undertaken in the most modern and most environmentally friendly way.
The winemaking team consists of Australian Hartley Smithers and Nora Iriate from Spain, who between them are veterans of over 50 harvests spanning many of the worlds wine producing regions. They oversee the production of these modern fruit-driven wines and they're doing a good job. To put it bluntly a serious amount of expertise, and money come to that, has been invested in this project and it is reflected in the quality of their wines:
Paparuda Pinot Grigio 2011 12.5% ABV
A great value Pinot Grigio packed full of ripe honeyed fruit, with just the right amount of freshness to make it brilliantly moreish and keep you coming back for more!
A perfect party wine or an ideal compliment to those light salads that spring demands.
Paparuda Pinot Noir 2011 13.5% ABV
Fragrant and fruity Pinot Noir with plenty of ripe red fruits, strawberries and raspberries, fresh and crunchy with hints of spice.
A delicious wine that would work well for those that like red with fish or chicken. There certainly aren’t many places in the world where you can find a Pinot Noir of this quality at this price.
"A soft, herbal pinot with red cherry, tarragon and fresh tobacco notes, and rather Italian in character. Serve Cool."
Susy Atkins, The Sunday Telegraph, Stella Magazine - Jan 2012
I think these are exciting times, with Romanian wines emerging from the shadows. The Romanian wine market is certainly in its infancy but there is no doubt that Romania is starting to make big strides in the international wine market. It is almost certain that the next few years will see plenty more wines coming from this part of the world.
To see what all the fuss is about, why not try the Paparuda wines for yourself?
This post was posted in Staff Favourites, Tanners News and was tagged with Cramele Recas, Hartley Smithers, Nora Iriate, Paparuda, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Romania, Romanian wine, Sunday Telegraph, Susy Atkins, Wine