British Food Fortnight is great excuse to eat (and drink wine!)

Wines to go with British Food Fortnight

BRITISH Food Fortnight 2015 is well underway …  I enjoy British food the rest of the year too, but when these things come along it’s an excuse for one of my foodie Scientific Experiments.

For your benefit I’ve roasted a chicken, plated up a Ploughman’s and coaxed a crispy topping onto a cottage pie.

Chicken and chardonnay are quite nice though you forget these things.

I roasted chicken with lemon and onions in its tummy and tarragon butter squeezed under the skin. I love potatoes, so I did a creamy mix of leeks and potatoes as well as roasties.

Rickshaw Chardonnay 2014 (£15.99 at Majestic or £11.99 when you buy two until October 26) is from California to be precise. The wine is over a tenner even at a reduced price, but it’s worth it for a Sunday lunch.

From the Rickshaw there are aromas of pears, vanilla and a sidekick of citrus and then to taste, just enough acidity and freshness to cut through a mixed forkful of crunchy roasties and creamy leeks.

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The wine sought out the tarragon like a lost pal in a crowd, then, paired up at last, herby inflections from both had a bit of a natter.

Finca Constancia Seleccion 2012 (RRP £10.49 online from Ocado & picked up silver at last year’s International Wine Challenge. It’s a Spanish blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot and was my sidekick for my cottage pie supper.

Blimey, I love cottage pie. There’s much debate in our household as to whether pickled cabbage or pickled beetroot is the way to go; but Finca is unflappable either way. There’s a mix of dried and fresh red fruits with a savoury note of its own. There’s plenty of spice and a velvety lick of vanilla which did a high five with the crispy mash topping.

I sit on the picket fence when it comes to English red wine. Whites are hard to fault, but reds, well I’ve never been convinced. Bolney Estate Linter’s Red 2013, (£13, M&S) was part of my ploughman’s experiment. I’d asked work chums to think of British foods and here we are, a great choice. Pork pie, cheeses, pickles and crackers made an outdoor spread and the Linter’s Red joined them. (Some wasps too, little blighters.)

My workchum has asked me to say “did you know” that the Ploughman’s Lunch was first promoted by the Milk Marketing Board in the 1960s as part of a campaign to boost the sales of cheese. There you go.

British Food Fortnight, a Ploughman's lunch and an English red wine
British Food Fortnight, a Ploughman’s lunch and an English red wine

The Linter’s is made from Rondo grapes in West Susssex and is aged in both French and American oak. On the nose there’s blackcurrant and plums and pepper; to taste, the acidity takes centre stage, and the fruits struggle to nudge it out of the way. But a slither of mature cheddar brought out the underlying fruit, and a new wine was born.

Alianca Bairrada Reserva Tinto 2011 (£7.50 for the 2013 vintage at is half the price of the English red but double the delight.

It was born in Bairrada in Portugal and is a blend of traditional grapes baga, touriga nacional and tinta roriz.

With a slither of pork pie it was peppery perfect; with the Ploughman’s cheddar it melted. There are fresh and dried cranberries, notes of chocolate and a frisky edge of spice which did a jaunty jive with a spoonful of pickle.

I’m sure the powers that be behind British Food Fortnight have put in more effort than me.

To find out more, including details of lots of events,  go to

Published in the saturday extra magazine September 19, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Record haul of medal winners in UK wine awards

There has been a record-breaking haul of medal-winners  in the UK wine industry’s annual national wine awards – The English & Welsh Wine of the Year Competition.

It is organised by the United Kingdom Vineyards Association and this year saw the largest number of wines ever entered … 327 wines, from over 90 producers all over the UK.

United Kingdom Vineyards Association

The wines were judged over two days by a team of six Masters of Wine – the only competition in the world judged entirely and only ever by Masters of Wine.

The judges awarded 284 medals and a further 26 wines gained Highly Commended status.

The UK’s top three most widely planted grape varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir and bacchus – dominated the trophies, producing winners in all but one category: the still rosé.

The trophy winners

Vintners’ Trophy – The most outstanding sparkling wine
Langham Wine Estate Classic Cuvée 2011

Jack Ward Memorial Salver – The most outstanding large production wine – 2013 vintage
Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014

McNie Trophy – The most outstanding oaked white wine
Gusbourne Estate Guinevere 2013

Wine Guild Trophy – The most outstanding large production wine – any other year
New Hall Pinot Noir Rosé 2013

Tom Day Trophy – The most outstanding single varietal wine
Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014

Dudley Quirk Memorial Trophy – The most outstanding large production wine(>10,000 litres)
Chapel Down Bacchus 2014

President’s Trophy – The most outstanding small production wine (<1500 litres)
Plumpton Estate The Dean Blush Brut NV

Waitrose Rosé Trophy – The most outstanding still rosé wine
Meopham Valley Vineyard Rosé 2014

Bob Lindo Trophy – The most outstanding sparkling rosé wine
Plumpton Estate The Dean Blush Brut NV

Hattingley Valley Entice 2014, UK wine award winner
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Bernard Theobald Trophy – The most outstanding red wine
Sharpham Vineyard Pinot Noir and Précoce 2013

Berwick Trophy – The most outstanding large production unchaptalised still wine
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Stefanowicz Trophy – The most outstanding sweet wine
Hattingley Valley Entice 2014

Montagu Trophy – Best presented wine
Castle Brook Vineyard Classic Cuvée 2009