Archive for 2010

A top harvest at Les Jardins de Saint Benoît…..

Friday, December 10th, 2010

LesJardinsDeStBenoitAs a self confessed Francophile I’ve often wondered where my love of France began. Was it the exotic breakfast staple of croissant and pain au chocolate, those long summer holidays spent camping with my family or could it be that the first boy I kissed was French? Who knows? What I do know is that despite travelling widely around the country for business and pleasure, no two visits are ever the same and my recent trip to Les Jardins de Saint Benoît resort in the tiny village of Saint Laurent de la Cabrerisse in the South served only to fuel my enthusiasm for all things French. ………

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Corbières. Wine as dramatic as the weather….

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

corbieresI’ve been working in the wine trade since I graduated, which without giving away too much is around the 10 year mark! During that time I’ve been lucky enough to travel widely and sample wines from some of the most celebrated vineyards in the world. And yet, just like you, I’m guilty of taking the fact I can buy wine down the road from pretty much any major wine producing region in the world for granted. Even worse than that I’ve enjoyed wine for most of my adult life with little consideration for the efforts that have been taken to produce the stuff. This is one of several reasons why I jumped at the chance of picking grapes at Les Jardins de Saint Benoît, a new holiday resort nestled in the rolling hills of the southern French wine producing region of Corbières. ………

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Zinfandel… Why. So. Serious??

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

The Zinfandel grape is probably best known by the masses for its contribution to the sickly sweet rosé wines from California aka Zinfandel blush. But as with any rosé wine it starts life as a red grape, and in the case of Zinfandel it’s seen in all its glory when au naturel; red, still and spicy.

I hadn’t realised until now but since being invited along to meet Joel Peterson, reputed Zinfandel winemaker at California winery Ravenswood, Zinfandel is a grape I’ve unconsciously been skimming over on wine lists and in the wine isle. A preconceived opinion tainted by its blush relatives? Probably. So in the name of ‘continued-professional-tasting’ I was delighted to taste a range of Ravenswood red Zinfandels at 28-50 Wine Workshop & Kitchen – city wine bar of the moment.

As one known to buy a Yorkie chocolate bar simply to defy the ‘it’s not for girls’ slogan the Ravenswood Zinfandel tasting equally lured me in with its promise of ‘no wimpy wines.’ ………

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How to Toast your Roast…

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

ROASTAs winter sets in and our nights become longer, my sport turns from fresh air and cycling to blankets and the sofa. Animated evenings in beer gardens have morphed into leisurely afternoons spent munching mammoth meals and sipping on warming red wines.

If you ask me there’s no dish that says winter more than a roast dinner and although I can only aspire to cook one as good as my Mums it’s a labour of love every time. My favourite roast is a close call between beef and lamb. Lamb because I have an unhealthy appetite for mint sauce and beef because it offers one of the only opportunities to get out the Horseradish. Mr Bouquet finds the traditional roast dinner too bland for his taste and I guess he’s not alone, but when paired with some carefully considered sauce – on your plate and in your glass – it can make all the difference. ………

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All that sparkles…..

Friday, October 29th, 2010


It’s not very en vogue to boast about indulging in wine of the bubbly variety, especially when most of its Champagne. But given the circumstances I think you’ll forgive me. And besides it doesn’t count as frivolous if someone else buys it for you, does it?? You see there’s been some big news chez Miss Bouquet ….. last week Mr B and I got engaged!! Now then, before you log off and vow never to return to my site again please be assured that I’m not the kind of girl that will let the wedding take over every conversation. And to prove it I’ll get straight to the point. The sparkling list so far reads:

Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee NV (x 2!)
Champagne Perrier Jouët Grand Brut NV*
Champagne Mumm Brut NV
Champagne Veuve Clicquot Brut NV
Champagne Piper-Heidseick Brut NV
and…. Anna de Codornui Cava Brut NV

Its like a who’s-who from the Champagne Information Bureau’s annual trade tasting, with a Cava thrown in to keep a girl level-headed. ………

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It’s wine Jim, but not as we know it…..

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

sake4‘Step away from the Pinot Grigio’ and ‘put down the house red’ are phrases I’ve often used to encourage people to move out of their wine comfort zone but I rarely find myself with the shoe on the other foot. That was until recently when I was asked about rice wine. Well its wine, isn’t it? Hmmmm, I guess so.

Now for the technical bit. Although they call sake a rice wine, having done the research it seems to me to be a bit of a hybrid. You see they put the rice through ‘multiple parallel fermentation’ which reflects the starch converting process of beer and the sugar and yeast fermentation process of wine. Chemistry lesson over, et voila you have sake.

Up until now my sake experience has been limited to the odd sushi bar where the only choices I’ve considered is ‘hot sake’ or ‘cold sake’ so I went along to Japanese restaurant So in London’s west end to learn more from the experts. ………

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