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Saturday, 23 April 2022

Two Languedoc Whites from Foncalieu

Two vibrant and refreshing Languedoc whites from Foncalieu

Foncalieu make lovely, inexpensive wines in France's Languedoc with as much attention to detail to the presentation as there is in the winemaking.

These two wines are no exception.

I have tasted earlier vintages of the Iberian-grape-in-France, Albariño Sillages, and worked my way through the Versant range with the rosé (which I liked a lot) and a Pinot (which I thought was OK, but nothing special).

Before the wines themselves. first a bit of history from the company's website


Les Vignobles Foncalieu are a union of cooperatives anchored in the heart of Languedoc.

Our territory stretches from the Corbières massif to the banks of the Mediterranean, from the Mistral- swept hillsides to the sun-caressed plains between Carcassonne and Béziers. It is in the heart of these landscapes, situated between ocean and mountains, that all our wine- growers tend to our 4,000 hectares of vines every day in order to offer

Foncalieu the high-quality grapes used to produce exceptional wines.

A cooperative with strong values since 1967, our 650 winegrowers cultivate team spirit, authenticity, innovation and a shared passion, all of which have led Foncalieu to be named as one of the 50 most well-known brands of wine in the world by the trade magazine Drinks International in 2017.

Les Vignobles Foncalieu stretch across 4,000 hectares between the Cité de Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This vast territory characterised by a mosaic of terroirs and denominations has enabled the development of a wide range of wines, most of which are labelled PDO and PGI of Languedoc.

The largest and oldest wine-making region in the world is also a land of culture, art and gastronomy, characterised by mild winters and hot summers. Its multitude of terroirs swept by the Tramontane and the sea wind stretches from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean, offering a wide palette of grape varieties from Carignan to Malbec, and Roussanne to Sauvignon.

The colour, nose and mouthfeel of a Languedoc vary considerably according to its terroir, the varieties used in the blend, the yields practised, the quality of the soil and the climate of the preceding year. By mastering our terroir and selecting plots that we believe extraordinary, we produce fine Languedoc wines, including the Atelier Prestige collection and the Château Haut-Gléon wines labelled PDO Corbières and PGI Vallée du Paradis owned by Foncalieu since 2012.

We owe our know-how to all these people, who, thanks to their attentiveness and human qualities, have been developing Foncalieu for more than 50 years and have demonstrated their wine-growing spirit. 

From generation to generation, our passion for the vine remains strong. Passing on this passion to the younger generations is at the heart of our concerns so that our wonderful territories endure. The strength of Vignobles Foncalieu lies in the combination of skills brought by all our wine-growers and the various French and international specialist centres.

And so, our teams of agronomists and oenologists work hand in hand with the wine-growers to unveil the potential of each terroir in order to express the immense diversity of wine-growing identities. Enhancing the best plots, mastering the wine cellar and orchestrating the most wonderful blend ensures a noble quality, from the vine to the glass.

This work, aided by cutting-edge technology, is first and foremost a matter of talent. Our many expressions have been rewarded by a host of medals and distinctions and also recognised by the greatest international wine tasters such as Robert Parker.

Foncalieu Pays d'Oc Extraordinaires Sillages Albariño 2021 (£8 - £10, indpendents)

pear drops, citrus, sea-spray and lemon curd; stone fruits, honeysuckle and beeswax with sweet spices and some southern warmth. Saline, mineral and elegant.

Drinks nicely on first pouring; will repay a few more months' bottle age.


Fresh enough for an aperitif, it will work with a range of starters, such as seafood, white fish and pork rillettes.

Foncalieu Pays d'Oc, Le Versant Sauvignon Bio 2021 (£11, Hennings)

herbaceous, aromatic with lime and kiwi with orchard fruits and exotic passionfruit; fresh and mineral with citrus, lemongrass, blackcurrant leaf and minerality.

Drinks nicely on first pouring; will repay a few more months' bottle age.


Match with grilled fish with lemon, sushi or asparagus gratin.

Friday, 22 April 2022

Two Spring Whites - Spain and South Africa

Two whites from South Africa's Kleine Zalze and Spain's CVNE

Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2020
Maruxa Godello 2020

I've titled this two spring whites, but these two wines are so good, you could pretty much have them any time of the year.

They are spring wines in the sense of being a bit bigger, fuller and more complex than summer garden sippers without being the sort of full-on Big Reds of the winter months.

Both wines are really well made from good fruit with lots of savoury complexity and the sort of  underpinnings that will both match food and also allow them to age.

They are old school / old world in the sense of being more "palate" than "nose"; that said, they don't lack aromatics or fruit, it's just that there is also a sophisticated texture, breadth and generosity.

If you are having guests, either would serve well as a white with starters; or match with a main if it's white meat or grilled oily fish.

Godello is native to Spain and, although increasing in popularity, is still relatively uncommon, so don't be surprised if you've never had it before. Master of Wine Siobhan Turner characterises it as "nose of bay leaves, peaches, hint of lemon. Fresh bright acidity with touch of salinity on palate."

Chenin Blanc is the great grape of the Loire; with high natural acidity, it can make everything from fizz to long-lived botrytised dessert wines via fully dry and off-dry table wines. South Africa is its second home.

Vineyard Selection Chenin Blanc 2020 (£15.10, Cambridge Wine Merchants, independents)

The grapes for this wine came from a couple of old Chenin Blanc vineyards around Stellenbosch. 

Careful canopy management ensured enough sunlight, but protected the grapes against direct sunlight.

The grapes were handpicked early in the morning and immediately crushed into holding tanks; extended skin contact extracted all the Chenin flavours to ensure good structure in the final wine.

Only the free run juice was used and settled for 1 day before inoculation with selected yeast strains. The juice was racked into barrels for fermentation.

No new barrels were used to ensure that unique characters of the specific terroirs were preserved in the wine. After fermentation the wine was aged on the primary lees for another 6 months before being racked out and prepared for bottling.

Vintage conditions allowed for good even ripening, with natural balance and healthy acidity. 

baked yellow stone fruits, citrus, honeysuckle, beeswax, orange peel and sweet spices with marzipan and brazil nut; fresh and generous with ripe peach, pineapple and mang, with creamy leesy-brazil-nut complexity; long and savoury with very good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening; improves with some aeration and can be cellared for up to ten years.

Very Good.

Match with roasted white meats, grilled seafood or tarte flambée.

Maruxa Godello 2020 (£14.75, Majestic)

Maruxa Godello is made by Virgen del Galir in Valdeorras in Spain's north west Galicia region..

Virgen del Galir is a Galician project that has been owned by CVNE since 2018, and has a focus on recovering very special micro-plots on the edge of the Camino de Santiago, specifically in the town of éntoma, in Valdeorras.

They produce fresh and very mineral wines with character. Maruxa Godello comes from a vineyard with clay loam soils with some slate and other minerals. These vines lie on slopes more than 600 metres above sea level and enjoy a continental climate with a strong Atlantic influence.

When the grapes reach optimum ripeness, they are manually harvested in 15 kg boxes. In the winery, the Maruxa Godello grapes are cooled to avoid oxidation. They are gently pressed and the resulting must begins alcoholic fermentation with native yeasts at a controlled temperature. Finally, the wine ages for 4 months on fine lees in stainless steel tanks.

Maruxa Godello is named after the mother of the winery’s founder and is a tribute to an exceptional place. This wine is faithful to the Valdeorras tradition where the native Godello variety is silky, elegant and very lively. 

CVNE, one of the biggest names in Rioja, have branched out to Valdeorras in Galicia where they pick grapes from steep terraced vineyards where the altitude encourages acidity in Godello grapes. This brings plenty of refreshing character to the wine. Expect citrus and floral aromas, with a complex, mineral finish. 

white flowers, orchard fruits, citrus, white pepper and honeysuckle; fresh and complex with ripe tropical citrus and yellow stone fruits with creamy, savoury brazil nut ands hints of aniseed, marzipan and Mediterranean herbs. Broad, harmonious and savoury with good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first opening; improves with some aeration and can be cellared.

Very Good.

Match with scallops or roasted pork belly.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

How to Develop and Launch a Drink Brand

'How to develop and launch a drink brand’, the new book by Food and Beverage expert Richard Horwell is published on 21st March. 

The book is a definitive guide to launching a drink in the UK; a step-by-step guide covering everything from the idea to getting on the shelf in retailers. It will show you all the pitfalls and all the shortcuts. 

Since the pandemic there has been a huge increase in interest in food and drink, even the most unlikely brands have received considerable inward investment! Employees working from home and lining up at the supermarket have realised this is the industry they want to be in.

Our awareness and interest in health and wellness has grown and so has the Wellness and Functional Drinks sector. All this has led to a flood of new drink brands hoping to launch into this market, and swathe of entrepreneurs deciding this is the business they want to focus on. In short, it seems everyone wants to know how to create and launch a drink brand.

‘How to develop and launch a drink brand’ is there to answer the most common questions and help budding drink entrepreneurs get off on the right foot.

Drawing on over 30 years’ experience in the industry and having been behind the launch of over 130 brands, Richard Horwell shares his insights into the industry and what aspiring entrepreneurs need to know before they start spending any money on creating a new drink brand.

The book covers:

- Market Research
- Recipe Development
- Branding
- Packaging and Production
- Marketing to Buyers
- Export.

If you are thinking of getting into the Food & Drink Industry, you need to read this book.

It all seems so simple when you see drinks on the shelf or the ‘rise to fame’ of brands such as Red Bull. But it isn’t. Successful brands have years of hard work behind them before they appear on your radar and behind this there has been a lot of money and heartache. This book is the inside guide to what you need to do and know, if you are to have any chance of success in this very competitive world.

“I have been in FMCG for most of my life, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East, I have had successful brands of my own that have sold, and also seen the downfall, of many great brands. I wrote this book to help budding entrepreneurs understand the journey they are about to embark on; knowledge is power, and the advice here will give you the best chance of success.” said the book’s author Richard Horwell.

Case Study: Launching a Canned Wine Brand and The Copper Crew

There has been a boom in canned wines, say Richard, with convenience being the driving factor.

But for a start-up there are a lot of issues you need to consider. Firstly you will be competing against big players with well-known brand names and very deep pockets. Secondly, to sell alcohol in the UK you need to be AWRS registered with HMRC and they don’t take this lightly, they look for well-funded businesses that have the infrastructure to be successful. Ultimately, it all comes down to money, so you need a lot more of it to launch a canned wine than you would in most other categories 

My feeling is that the trend will be flavoured wines. More flavoured wines will start to appear in cans as adaptations of Aperol Spritz or Kir Royal. There will also be more wine-based ready to drink cocktails in a can rather than just an unknown wine in a can.

The Copper Crew first launched their business in early 2020 - just as the country went into lockdown. 

A management consultant, academic and winemaker team, they had originally planned to build a word-of-mouth buzz and generate sales from attending outdoor events, such as concerts and festivals.

Forced to switch to an online-only model, they won awards and gained positive reviews from Jancis Robinson, Joe Wadsack and Ruth Spivey.

Their range was launched with a a white and rosé initially with the strapline: Not for the cellar. For everywhere else. A red and a special edition Sauvignon Blanc then followed to round out the offering.

Founder Oli says:

There is good growth in this sector but it is coming from a low base. The most explosive growth within drinks is found in RTDs in the UK; hard Seltzers are over-hyped and there has been significant stock shedding from big producers. However, the growth still remains rapid.

A lot of thinking in this space from conversations I've had with producers is you've got to just get out there and gain market share then worry about making money.

Convenience is a significant factor in the growth behind canned wine, but we've found the number 1 driver to be portion control. Therefore, canned wine has a perhaps unexpected resonance with older age demographics (50-80). Many of these consumers are actually more opened minded than people (younger age demographics) just getting into wine.

On a practical front, there many, many issues we faced as a start-up in this space and the biggest has been cashflow. In our business it's a tricky balance and is often the critical thing is simply keeping the lights on.

I think any book on setting up a drinks business must go through the fundamentals of accounting for duty and invoice financing

Book details

The book is available from Amazon and all good bookshops, plus direct from the Brand Relations website www.brandrelations.co.uk

The Author

Richard Horwell is the owner of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company based in London.

Over the last 14 years, Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of over 130 brands in the UK. Richard has also built up and sold companies of his own in the Food and Beverage sector. He has over 30 years’ experience in marketing FMCG brands around the world, having lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australia and the Middle East.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Three Wines from Abbotts & Delaunay

Three wines from French producer Badet Clément

It's a pretty safe bet that anything by Badet Clément will be well-made and enjoyable.

The website explains:

Badet Clément is the story of two winemakers, passionate about the diversity of wines and vineyards, possessed by a love for the earth and a penchant for well-executed work… 

With our feet rooted in tradition, and our hands reaching out to innovation, our company has participated in the revival of wines from Burgundy, the Languedoc, and the Rhône Valley for over 20 years now.

By staying on top of market needs and being attentive to our environment, we consider our cuvées as moments of pleasure for those who taste them. The harmony between the wine, the context, and the people who share in its enjoyment represents our vision of the perfect accord.

With increasingly demanding expectations and requirements, Badet Clément offers wines whose unique character tells the story of their terroirs and the open-mindedness of the professionals who conceive of them, each in its own way.

Keeping an open mind always, means maintaining an unrestricted and creative outlook, interconnecting points of view and ideas, encountering different terroirs and allowing for the expression of different grape varieties.

It is also the starting point for stimulating discussion, lasting partnerships, and innovation. Respectful of the know-how that has been passed on to us and supported by the richness and diversity of our vineyards, it is with integrity and altruism that we instil open-mindedness into each stage of the evolution of wine.

From our corporate culture to the first sip from the glass, our motto is OPEN WINEDED

The two Abbotts & Delaunay wines are both new and will be in-store from Easter 2022 at Majestic 

Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Chardonnay 2020 (£9.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

A new wine from Abbotts & Delaunay, which will be landing in Majestic just before Easter and well in time for International Chardonnay Day coming up in May.

Made from a blend of grapes coming from four different regions in the Languedoc; Limoux, the Aude Valley, the Hérault plain and the slopes of the Cévennes mountains to create a wine which is fresh, balanced and complex. 

white flowers, tropical citrus, honeysuckle and sweet spices; melon, pineapple and yellow stone fruit with pear, green apple, some toasty spice with buttery hazelnut; fresh, savoury and long .


Drinks nicely on first pouring; improves with aeration. Will gain complexity with some cellaring.

A versatile food wine, match salmon fishcakes, pork or chicken dishes or a mild curry, such as chicken Makhani.

La Belle Angèle Pinot Noir 2020, Vin de France (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

From the Languedoc in the South of France; the grapes are grown on clay and limestone soils in the plains of the Hérault not far from the sea, between Beziers and Valras-Plage and also from the Minervois.

Subtle and soft, this wine’s juicy flavours of Morello cherry and strawberry mingle with herbs and spices from the region’s Garrigue vegetation.

La Belle Angèle was a famous muse for many of the French Impressionist painters in the Belle Epoque renowned for her beauty and joie de vivre.

red and black cherry fruit, spice and a supple texture; textbook warmer-climate Pinot; fresh, well-made and harmonious

Thoroughly enjoyable

A versatile wine, drink lightly chilled on its own or match with salamis, pates or herby pork rillettes.

Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Malbec 2020 (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

30 year old vines grown on the slopes of the Orb Valley in the Hérault, vineyards in the west of the Aude and in the dry salt marsh in Marseillette, each bringing different characteristics to the wine.

Thanks to the work in the vineyards that respect the soils and the vines, healthy, concentrated grapes can be harvested whilst respecting the wild flowers (Fleurs Sauvages) and other wild life that surrounds them.

plummy dark berry fruit and spice; fresh and supple with inky graphite; violets, liquorice, red and black fruits with spicy notes; well-structured and elegant with a persistent finish. Opens up with some aeration and can be cellared.


Match with charcuterie or rare red meats

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Food and Wine Matching with Kindling Restaurant - Slow Roast Shoulder Of Mutton With Carrot, Tomatoes And Red Wine

A lamb recipe from Kindling Restaurant, Brighton - with some classic wine matches

Kindling Restaurant in Brighton is about more than just the delicious food, it is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Nature writes the menu as the seasons inspire the dishes. Kindling is featured in the Michelin Guide and is a member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KindlingBrighton @KindlingBrighton
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kindlingrestaurant/ @KindlingRestaurant

The Food - slow roast shoulder of mutton with carrot, tomatoes and red wine

Perfect for Easter or a Mother’s Day gathering, why not try Kindling Restaurant’s slow roast mutton shoulder as a centre piece for your table. A classic combination of seasonal flavours from Chef Toby Geneen’s childhood, this dish is rich, comforting and perfect for a family celebration.

Kindling’s ethos centres around seasonal produce and ethical farming. Here, the traditional spring lamb is replaced with a piece of regeneratively farmed mutton. Regenerative agriculture is a farming system that aims to restore and improve the countryside. When it comes to sheep this means rotating their grazing and uses practices such as planting herbs into the fields to enhance the health of the herd. This has the added benefit of enhancing the flavour.

Mutton is typically four to six years old. Being a matured meat, it has had plenty of time outside allowing it to develop a generous fat content and deep gamey flavour that just isn’t present in the younger lamb.

At the restaurant the mutton is sourced directly from a local farm, Saddlescombe, located on the Sussex downs. To source high quality mutton, speak to your local butcher or farm shop.

Chef Toby Geneen: credit Jo Hunt
The Wines

Roast lamb and Big Red is a classic match; ripe-yet-fresh wines will have the body and acidity to stand up to the richness of lamb.

All these wines will benefit from a couple of hours in the decanter before serving.

Torres Altos Ibéricos Rioja Crianza (£11.99, Waitrose)

red and bramble fruits with complex oaky spices; dark cherries, black raspberries and ripe red plum with leather and earthy tobacco; fresh, substantial and intense with firm but fine tannins.

Chateau La Raze Beauvallet Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2016 (£14.99, Virgin Wines)

A medal-winning Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux from the Medoc; outstanding 2016 vintage and has some bottle age that will match well with the gaminess of the mutton.

bramble fruit, blackcurrant leaf and earthy, toasty cigar-box with some evolved, leathery complexity; dark berries, plum fruit, dried green herbs and toasty spice; complex and savoury; fresh, supple and elegant with very fine, perfectly-ripe tannins.

Wynns The Siding Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019, Coonawarra (£15, Tesco)

ripe dark berries and bramble fruits, oaky spice and some florality; supple cassis, baked blueberry and black olives with minty green herbs and liquorice; ripe, rounded and very well-integrated tannins; savoury, fresh and elegant.

The Recipe


1 whole mutton shoulder, on the bone (1.8 - 2kg)
5 echalion shallots, halved and peeled
10 ripe plum tomatoes, halved with the white core removed
5 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, divided into cloves, but not peeled
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
1 bunch of thyme, tied
3 sticks of rosemary, tied
3 bay leaf
500 ml red wine
500 ml chicken stock


Preheat your oven to 130C.

Mix all the vegetables together in a roasting tray with a little salt and olive oil. Spread them out into a bed for the shoulder. Tuck the herb bundles underneath the meat and pour your wine and chicken stock over the vegetable bed. Slow roast for 4 hours uncovered, topping up the liquid with a little water if the stew becomes too dry.

Remove the tray from the oven and put meat to one side to rest, ideally with a clean tea towel on top to prevent it from cooling too much. Remove herb bundles from the sauce by giving them a little shake.

Carefully pour or spoon the sauce into another pan, then simmer for 10 - 15 mins until thickened. Season with some salt if it needs it, then arrange in your serving dish and top with the mutton, carved or pulled apart. Serve with mash potato and seasonal greens.


Here is WineMatcher Fiona Beckett's recommendations for lamb-and-wine matching:

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Two Malbecs for #MalbecWorldDay

Two Malbecs - Languedoc (Abbotts & Delaunay) and Argentina (Argento)

France is Languedoc's original home and Argentina its new home; a heat-loving grape, it was once grown in over 30 departements, but is now mainly associated with the South Western Cahors region.

That said, it appears pretty much all the way down the Atlantic seaboard from the Loire to Languedoc via Bordeaux, where it was once a major grape, but has since been replaced by the more reliable Merlot.

It was introduced to Argentina in the late 1800s, possibly as a clone that is now extinct in France. Given the Andes rise very gradually, it can be grown at very high altitude, allowing for long slow ripening with plenty of sunlight for flavour and cool nights to preserve freshness.

Malbec's appeal is easy to understand; Big Fruit with plentiful colour and an inky texture. World Malbec Day is on 17th April

Abbotts & Delaunay, Fleurs Sauvages, Pays d’Oc, Malbec 2020 (£10.99 or £8.99 mix six @ Majestic)

30 year old vines grown on the slopes of the Orb Valley in the Hérault, vineyards in the west of the Aude and in the dry salt marsh in Marseillette, each bringing different characteristics to the wine. 

Thanks to the work in the vineyards that respect the soils and the vines, healthy, concentrated grapes can be harvested whilst respecting the wild flowers (Fleurs Sauvages) and other wild life that surrounds them.

plummy dark berry fruit and spice; fresh and supple with inky graphite; violets, liquorice, red and black fruits with spicy notes; well-structured and elegant with a persistent finish.

Opens up with some aeration and can be cellared.


Match with charcuterie or rare red meats.

Argento Single Vineyard Altamira Organic Malbec (£13.99, www.allaboutwine.com)

Single-vineyard wine from Altamira in Mendoza's Uco Valley; 100% Malbec grown at almost 1,100m above sea level; the 22.5-hectare plot is certified both organic and Fairtrade.

dark fruits, blackcurrant pastilles and complex oaky spices with leather and mushrooms; supple, dense and inky with cassis, dark berries, black olives, graphite and mouth-watering freshness; savoury with very good underpinnings.

Drinks nicely on first pouring but improves with aeration and can be cellared.

Very Good.

Match with jamon or rare roast beef or tuna steak

Further reviews

Sunday, 10 April 2022

Three California Wines for International Women's Day

Three iconic wines produced by some of California’s leading female winemakers, all part of the EJ Gallo family

The wine world has had something of a #MeToo phase with the CMS sexual harassment scandal. Joe Fattorini's crude, hateful and sexist #winebitch writings and a recent article by Helena Nicklin highlighting her experience of sexism in the industry.

So now we know the negative to eliminate, here is the positive to accentuate.

You don't have to wait for International Women's Day to try these three wines; any time is fine. There's a traditional method sparkling wine from Nicole Hitchcock’s J Vineyards & Winery, cool-climate Talbott Vineyard Chardonnay made by oenologist Ayca Revez, and world famous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Jenn Barak of Louis M. Martini.

This being California, the wines are a little fuller, riper and , yes, pricier that European equivalents. They all drink nicely on first pouring, improve with aeration (if you rate complexity over primary fruit) and can be cellared for a couple of years for secondary aromas to develop.

From oenologists to vineyard managers, California's E.& J. Gallo Winery is devoted to championing the women who have pioneered to make wine more innovative and inclusive.

If you want to support female voices in wine at all levels and across all geographies, here is a very personal list of some amazing women to listen to:

J Vineyards California Cuvée NV By Nicole Hitchcock, Head Winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery (£23 from Tesco)

Nicole joined E. & J. Gallo Winery as a winemaker in 2004 and is now head winemaker for J Vineyards and Winery, where she oversees all aspects of winemaking from vineyard to bottle to produce some of the finest cool climate and traditional method sparkling wines from California and the Russian River Valley.

Her wines are widely recognised by some of the wine world’s top writers and judging panels.

vibrant with tart pineapple and orange blossom; lively and rich with orchard fruits, honeysuckle, fresh mandarin peel and marzipan with leesy-creamy brioche and a zesty, focused finish.


Serve as an aperitif or match hors d'oeuvres, such as goat’s cheese tartlets .

Talbott 'Kali Hart' Chardonnay 2019, Santa Lucia Highlands By Ayca Revaz, Oenologist at Talbott Vineyards (£24.99 or £19.99 as a mix of 6 from Majestic)

Ayca fell in love with winemaking while working as an intern in Cappadocia, a wine producing region two hours from where she grew up in Turkey. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Engineering from the Middle East Technical University, and subsequently UC Davis Viticulture and Oenology Master’s program, Ayca seized the “opportunity of a lifetime” to work at Talbott Vineyards, making cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Today, she works closely with Talbott head winemaker David Coventry, creating barrel selections and monitoring the vines. For Talbott Vineyards’ Kali Hart Chardonnay fruit is sourced from the idyllic Santa Lucia Highlands in Central Coast. With a long, cool growing season, the grapes develop character, intensity and depth for which the vineyard has become famous, conditions that facilitate Chardonnay to express wonderfully bright acidity and fresh, concentrated flavours, that other regions struggle to emulate.

ripe stone fruit, juicy tropical notes with vanilla and butterscotch; complex, savoury and full bodied, yet crisp and refreshing.

Very Good.

A versatile food wine, match with pork, chicken or creamy mushroom dishes.

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, Napa Valley by Jenn Barak, Winemaking Assistant at Louis M.Martini (£35.99 or £31.99 as a mix of 6 from Majestic)

Barak found a passion for winemaking and the beautiful Sonoma County early. Jenn holds a BS in Oenology and MS in Viticulture and Oenology, focusing on tannin chemistry, from Fresno State. After completing school and internships she landed at E & J Gallo Winery; where she started as the associate winemaker focusing on Bordeaux varietals at Frei Brother’s Winery.

Today she is the Winemaking Assistant at Louis M. Martini, the home of iconic Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes for Louis M. Martini Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 were selected from several premium Napa vineyards, including Cypress Ranch Vineyard, Sun Lake, William Hill and Sage Canyon, allowing Louis M. Martini to craft a complex Cabernet Sauvignon in a beautifully balanced blend.

black cherry blackberry and plum with cedar and spice; black olives and liquorice with an inky texture and plush, rounded tannins.

Very Good.

Match with red meats, such as pan-fried duck breast.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Food and Wine Matching with Kindling Restaurant - Chocolate Sponge with Salted Caramel Sauce and Popcorn

A dessert recipe from Kindling Restaurant, Brighton - with wine matches

Kindling Restaurant in Brighton is about more than just the delicious food, it is a community of people: staff, customers and suppliers all sharing and celebrating local produce. Nature writes the menu as the seasons inspire the dishes. Kindling is featured in the Michelin Guide and is a member of the Sustainable Restaurants Association. 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KindlingBrighton @KindlingBrighton
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kindlingrestaurant / @KindlingRestaurant

The Food - chocolate sponge with salted caramel sauce and popcorn 

This decadent dessert is dairy-free, suitable for vegans and can even be made gluten free as well, but you’ll never be able to tell! Rich moist chocolate sponge, topped with creamy caramel sauce and crunchy salty popcorn.

Serve with chocolate sorbet or dairy free ice cream for a luxury finish.

For non-vegans, just substitute with the appropriate dairy products. 

The wine matches

The rule of wine matching for puddings is that the wine must be sweeter than the food; the sweetness in this recipe comes from the salted caramel sauce, so the quantity of sauce you apply will determine the required sweetness level of the wine.

These two wines will work with the gentlest of drizzles - no more than a teaspoon or two. This will leave you with a lot of surplus sauce so either reduce the quantities or, if you want the sponge bathed in the style of a sticky toffee pudding, you'll need to consider espresso, whisky, ruby port or a sweet dark sherry.

Gewurztraminer is a once-classic, now slightly-out-of-fashion aromatic and perfumed grape; with high natural sugars, it is a spiced, exotic, indulgent hedonist's delight.

a heady perfume of lychees, rose petals, exotic fruits and sweet spices; rich, full and supple with exotic citrus fruits, pineapple and mango with acacia-blossom honey. 

tropical fruits with honey, ginger and lychees; waxy, viscous, unctuous and sweet with pineapple pieces, exotic melon and overripe peach and orange, candied peel; concentrated and intense

The recipe

For the sponge:

75g oil
35g good quality cocoa powder
220g dairy free yogurt e.g. soya yogurt
30g oat milk
2 tsp (10ml) distilled vinegar
150g soft dark brown sugar
140g self-raising flour (gluten-free self-raising flour will also work here)
¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp table salt 

• Line an 8-inch square cake tin with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170C. 
• Place the oil and cocoa powder in a small pan and heat gently for a few minutes to help bring out the flavour of the chocolate, then set aside to cool.
• Put the dairy free yogurt, oat milk, vinegar and sugar together in a mixing bowl or kitchen aid and whisk until smooth. Then stir in the chocolate and oil mixture.
• Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together in a clean bowl. Fold into the wet ingredients, mixing well to avoid any lumps.
• Pour into the lined cake tin and gently level using a spatula, being careful to avoid removing too much air from the cake.
• Bake in the preheated oven at 170C for 20 - 25 mins, until risen and springy to the touch.

Salted caramel sauce:

200g vegan butter alternative
250g soft dark brown sugar
125g golden syrup
Large pinch of Maldon sea salt 

• Place all the ingredients in a medium sized pan and heat gently over a low heat, whisking until combined.
• Whisk the sauce occasionally as it cools to ensure a silky texture.


A small handful of popping corn kernels
2 tbsp of oil
Fine salt for seasoning

• Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat.
• Put 3 or 4 piece of popping corn into the oil and cover the pan.
• When the test kernels pop, add the rest of the popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and wait 30 seconds.
• Return the pan to the heat and gently shake it as the popcorn starts to pop.
• Try to keep the lid slightly ajar or use a lid with a vent hole in it to help release some of the steam.
• Once the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and put the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss to ensure it is evenly seasoned

To serve:

Cut the cake in long fingers and drizzle with the caramel sauce. Top with salted popcorn and serve with chocolate sorbet or dairy free ice cream.