Arriving into London on a uncharacteristically humid October morning with ominous yellow skies lit up by a misty sun, gave something of an apocalyptic landscape over the Houses of Parliament. Maybe too much talk and not enough substance, especially with the consternation of Brexit, could it be actually beginning to take its toll on the world! Some say it had more to do with a Hurricane called Ophelia, but we are not 100%  convinced!

Anyway, time to get out of the heat of Dante’s Inferno and go join a union! And what a union, none other than that of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux who just happened to be in town to showcase the 2015 vintage. Now, it’s not every day you get the chance to sample so many top class Bordeaux in just one room, and since we had been sent our very own personal invite, it was an event that we weren’t going to miss!

We soon found ourselves back at Lindley Hall in Westminster, our previous visit here was for the SITT Trade & Press Tasting last month, and we can certainly say that a good time was had by all! Today however, we were looking forward to simply concentrating on just one wine region – Bordeaux and not just any old Bordeaux, but some of the most prestigious wines and producers. Chateaux belonging to the 1855 Classification, Premier Grand Cru Classe, Grand Cru Classe, Grand Cru, Cru Bourgeois and lots more! Oh Mr Darcy!

And if that wasn’t enough, the entire Great British wine establishment had all come out to play, including ‘Wine Jedi’ Jancis Robinson – we swear that after meeting her we actually levitated!

It has been said, or more rightly the wine oracles of Bordeaux have said, that the 2015 is a more approachable vintage with softer, rounder edges that the 2016, which they describe as a bit more toned and butch-like in its character, the 2014’s are pretty good as well so they say, but don’t mention 2013… ssh!

Then again, every vintage in Bordeaux is an outstanding one (according to some sources)! We say, make up your own mind! This is where doing a bit of homework can usually actually pay dividends.

At todays event, there were around 110 producers, all with their 2015 vintage on show and to taste – now it would be great to list them all (because we did manage to taste everyone – we know, we know – the professionals that we are)!

Instead, we have put together a list that we hope will give you a bit of a flavour of the day:

Crus De Graves

Château de Chantegrive Blanc – Fresh with a fine citrus fruits, yellow blossom and herbal notes. Structured

Crus De Pessac-Léognan

Château Bouscaut Grand Cru Classé Graves Blanc – Bright in the glass with a delicate nose, but really comes to life on the palate, with a silky rich mouthfeel bursting with tropical fruits, yellow flowers, tight acidity and a long finish

Château Latour-Martillac Grand Cru Classé Graves Blanc – Some decent colour to it, fresh and round, layered, minty herbs, citrus fruits and wild flowers

Château Malartic-Lagravière Grand Cru Classé Graves Blanc – Asparagus, bell pepper, herbal with a citrus tang, textured and rounded

Château Pape Clément Grand Cru Classé Graves Blanc – Nice touch of oak vanilla spice that plays along nicely with the lemon citrus fruits and hints of herb

Château Smith Haut Lafitte Grand Cru Classé Graves Blanc – White meadow flowers and minty herbs, fresh but rounded, and a long finish

Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion Rouge – Plenty of primary fruits, especially blackcurrant with a herbal tang, a touch of spice and a structured body

Château de Fieuzal Grand Cru Classé Graves Rouge – Wild sour berries meet savoury animal nuances, structured, grippy, it means business!

Château Haut-Bailly Grand Cru Classé Rouge – Structured, meaty, savoury with plenty of dark fruits to boot that are lifted by the spicy oak

Château Malartic-Lagravière Grand Cru Classé Rouge – This wine possessed lots of depth to the fruit, blackberries and blackcurrant mix with tight fresh acid and taught grippy tannins

Crus De Saint-Émilion

Château Beau-Séjour Bécot Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘B’ Rouge – Blood/ruby with plenty of spicy liquorice, nice woody elements, and dark fruits bursting through, along with fine tannins on the finish

Château Canon-laGaffelière Grand Cru Classé ‘B’ Rouge – Plum and cherry fruit entwined around a rounded body and long finish

Château la Couspaude Grand Cru Classé Rouge – Mmm… spice and all things nice, dusty dark fruits, tobacco leaf and a hint of bacon

Château Grand Mayne Grand Cru Classé Rouge – Lifted, herbal with blackcurrant spice – so fresh!

Château Pavie Premier Grand Crus Classé ‘A’ Rouge – Animal, spicy with minty damson, fine tannins, balanced

Château Troplong Mondot Premier Grand Cru Classé ‘B’ Rouge – Deep, savoury, spicy fruits, lifted acidity and fine grained tannins – nice!

Crus De Pomerol

Château Beauregard Rouge – Big, bold and butch! Meat, blood, spicy liquorice stick, balanced with a decent structure

Château Clinet Rouge – Solid, ripe dark fruits, cherry spice, lifted acidity and a grippy finish

Château La Croix De Gay Rouge – Taught, and straight out of a workout, tight, fresh, spicy and savoury – oooeeer!

Château Petit-Village Rouge – Bright cassis, with liquorice stick dipped straight in there, layered and forthcoming, great finish

Crus De Listrac-Médoc

Château Fourcas Hosten Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Plenty of depth with dark polished blackcurrant and plums – clean and precise

Crus De Moulis-en-Médoc

Château Chasse-Spleen Cru Bourgeois (Exceptionnel) Rouge – Ruby – Garnet. Spicy, liquorice, clove meet dark fruit, fresh green pepper and herbs. Mouth-filling, structured with a long grainy tannic finish

Château Maucaillou Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Earthy, pine, gets along nicely with meaty bacon tones, fresh and grippy

Château Poujeaux Cru Bourgeois (Exceptionnel) rouge – Polished, spicy, meaty with blackcurrant jelly, clean precise acid

Crus De Haut-Médoc

Château Citran Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Ripe dark concentrated fruits, well made and definitely more-ish!

Château De Lamarque Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Dark, spicy and bold! Dark, grippy, big and fresh!

Château La Tour Carnet Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growth) Rouge – Big and meaty, concentrated and fresh, fine tannins

Crus De Médoc

Château La Tour De By Cru Bourgeois Rouge – A walk through the woods on an autumn day, with a fresh cool breeze, added spice and savoury overtones

Crus De Margaux

Château d’Angludet Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Wow! Lifted red fruits including wild strawberries, perfumed and floral, which marry nicely with spicy savoury tones

Château Brane-Cantenac Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Liquorice and clove spice dance with the dark cherry fruits amidst a finely tuned body

Château Desmirail Troisièmes Cru (Third Growth) Rouge – Meaty, smoky bacon plays merrily with lifted floral violet and rose notes, structured and balanced

Château Durfort-Vivens Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Taught, tight, with bright fruit, bell pepper and savoury elements 

Château Labégorce Cru Bourgeois (Supérieur) Rouge – So bright, so fresh, so clean and well shaped! Plenty of fruit backed up with woody spice

Château Marquis de Terme Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growth) Rouge – Blackberry jelly combines with woody spice, lifted by fresh acidity, and finished with fine grained tannins

Château Monbrison Cru Bourgeois Rouge – Elegant, floral with bright fruit, fine and fresh

Château Prieuré-Lichine Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growth) Rouge – Deep and concentrated with a decent streak of acidity

Château Rauzan-Ségla Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Perfumed, with fragrant wild roses, violets, herbal hints and bright fruit. Poised

Crus De Saint-Julien

Château Beychevelle Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Attention! Structured, bright, spicy and just right!

Château Branaire-Ducru Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Ooooooo! Earthy, spicy, liquorice stick dipped, more-ish dark fruits

Château Lagrange Troisièmes Crus (Third Growth) Rouge – Lifted, floral and tightly woven fruit in a well looked after body

Château Langoa-Barton Troisièmes Crus (Third Growth) Rouge – Polished cherry and blackberry fruit, with sleek oak. Well crafted

Château Léoville-Poyferré Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Medicinal with an underlay of bright fruit, fine and structured

Château Talbot Château Léoville-Poyferré Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growth) Rouge – Precise, tight, taught, with spicy fruit marrying nicely

Crus De Pauillac

Château Batailley Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Meaty, savoury, hints of bacon and liquorice spice – what’s not to like!

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Lifted spicy nose with polished bright fruits, pleasant freshness and fine tannins

Château Lynch-Bages Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Perfumed, floral, bright and lifted – so fresh!

Château Lynch-Moussas Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Gamey, meaty and spicy with grippy tannins 

Château Pichon Baron Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Dark brooding cherry and blackberry fruits, garner with floral notes and an upward lift from the fresh acidity, structured and precise

Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Château Pichon Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growth) Rouge – Savoury nose with fruits shining through on the palate – plenty of structure and plenty to give

Crus De Saint-Estèphe

Château Cos Labory Cinquièmes Crus (Fifth Growth) Rouge – Lifted fruits, a nice touch of spice, and floral notes. Elegant 

Crus De Sauternes Et Barsac

Château Bastor-Lamotagne Blanc, Sauternes – Oh dear! Ooooooooooo dear! Fresh orange and apricots, ginger spice and a touch of brown sugar – mouth coating and cleansing

Château Coutet Premiers Cru (First Growth) Blanc, Barsac – Lemon drizzle cake – just pour it all over us!

Château Doisy Daëne Deuxièmes Cru (Second Growth) Blanc, Barsac – Floral with herbal overtones, lemon curd and so fresh

Château De Fargues Blanc, Sauternes – Rich, honeyed apricots, just a hint of herb. Mmm…

Château Guiraud Premiers Cru (First Growth) Blanc, Sauternes – Organic. Candied fruits, citrus peel, figs and herbs, mouth coating and mouth pleasing

Château Suduiraut Premiers Cru (First Growth) Blanc, Preignac – Rich Honeyed, orange marmalade – oozing and fresh

And with our heads truly spinning, from all the talent on show, the friendly and informative producers, and the great and the mighty from the wine world, had made for an absolute corker of a day! Here’s to next years!

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England’s most Northerly vineyard? Where on earth could this possibly be, I hear you ask? Well, what would you think if I said Northumberland? …

We had the pleasure of finally stepping foot behind the door of the Beyond the Wall Vin-Garden in Northumberland yesterday, where Matt Scouler showed us around and explained his amazing plans for planting vines and growing grapes up’t North in this beautiful secret garden!

Beyond the Wall

Our baby son was very taken with the chickens roaming around our feet and noisy cockerel guarding his harem!

We came across Matt’s blog in 2013 and since then have always maintained a keen interest. We then met Matt and Nina, his partner, when they came along to our Oz Clarke wine dinner in November 2015, much to our excitement as we were eager for them to meet Mr Clarke and tell him their story.

It began in May 2013 when Matt, having been a tree surgeon and running his own gardening business for quite a while, felt more and more drawn to doing something beyond that, something more akin to his green fingered calling … to find some land to plant a vineyard. But this didn’t involve weekend trips down to the South of England nor even so far as Yorkshire for that matter but Northumberland.

It’s an even more intriguing idea because Matt isn’t actually a big fan of drinking wine, it’s all about nurturing the vineyard, but as this is key to good wine, the results could be interesting!

With the help of a friend, he found the perfect spot, a walled garden, situated on a steep south facing slope, with good drainage and shelter from prevailing winds because of the wall encasing the land. The farmer whose land it is on at Shaftoe Farm (where Wire in the Blood has been filmed) agreed for Matt to use the plot to follow his dream …

However, this isn’t a totally new venture, Matt has already successfully grown a vine AND produced grapes AND made wine, from a German white vine (we don’t know anymore than that!) that has been happily sprouting on the side of his house near Newcastle upon Tyne for the last 10 or so years.

I would highly recommend you watch the video he’s made as it gives you a real picture of just how amazing this sight is! I can’t quite believe I’m looking at a house in the chilly, windy North of England! Click to see more about Matt’s inspiration.

Where did the name Beyond the Wall come from? There’s a story behind that too … when the Romans built nearby Hadrian’s Wall, they boldly claimed that all land beyond the wall to the North was worthless (sorry Scotland), but in true Northern grit Matt is turning a disused garden into a hive of agricultural and viticultural activity.

Matt and Nina have been carefully tending the walled garden for the last two years and now feel the time is right to get planting. Several vines planted as tests have shown surprising progress, the fact he also harvests figs is a pretty good indicator of the microclimate.

Matt is all about sustainability and self sufficiency, with part of the garden set aside for fruit and veg. He’s currently waiting for the arrival of several bee hives for honey, of which a proportion of this will go into producing mead. He also intends for the vineyard to be biodynamic, which is no mean feat in the cool, damp climate of the North East.

There are 10 rows stretching from the top to bottom of the vineyard ready for vines to be planted and he is busy researching which vines will work best in this climate. 

As we know it’s not a cheap business creating a vineyard from scratch nor making wine, so how is this going to work? Well, Matt’s an enterprising chap. He’s looking into whether the vineyard can be set up as a Trust in order to attract much needed funds. He’s also talking to local student bodies where he might be able to source help with planting and maintenance from groups of willing students.

You might have noticed that as this is a brand new vineyard and there aren’t exactly many vineyards in the area, there is a slight lack of wine making facilities. Well, Matt has that covered to. He’s working with Europe’s first ever student-run microbrewery at Newcastle University, StuBrew, where they plan to make the wine.

After a couple of hours looking around and chatting with Matt, it was time for us to head home but we found it difficult to draw ourselves away as it is such a peaceful place you could easily lose yourself in and we can completely understand why Matt has fallen so in love with it!

It was certainly a day of discovery, not only did we witness what is England’s most Northerly vineyard, but Matt pointed out a Buddhist monastery on a hill in the distance … Well, who would have thought.

We can’t wait to visit in summer and who knows, we might well find ourselves tending vines in Northumberland one day in the not too distant future!

Want to get involved? Then please get in touch with Matt via their Facebook page, who no doubt, will be only too pleased to take up your offer! You can also ‘buy-into’ the scheme by giving a financial helping hand – just go to: Go Fund Me – Every little helps!

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The Wizard of Wine Oz Clarke Extravaganza 2015!

Oz Clarke Masterclass at The Assembly Rooms November 2015

After a quick dash through the busy city centre streets of Newcastle, winding our way around shoppers now intent on doing their Christmas shopping with a real sense of purpose, we arrived at The Assembly Rooms with time on our hands to get everything ready for the final event of the day and of Oz’s visit, our How to Taste Wine Masterclass with Oz Clarke.

We could not think of anything better to while away a few hours around mid-day on a Saturday. Forget that shopping, a wine tasting with wine guru Oz Clarke is more like it!

Our guests promptly arrived and were greeted with a sparkling glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010 – fresh red apples jump out amongst fresh baked pastries, this was certainly the way to go! One of England’s finest, and most certainly the estate that pioneered the way for today’s blossoming English (and Welsh) wine industries.

SONY DSCWe had the privilege of being invited to Nyetimber this summer – you can read all about our adventure here

Tapas was served to each of our guests tables so that they could pick at an array of cheeses, meats and other assortments whilst Oz took them through the fab wines that we had lined up.

He began proceedings by demonstrating actually how to begin tasting the wines by using a refined version of what is known to us wine geeks as The Systematic Approach To Tasting. Basically: look, sniff, slosh, slurp and ask: “Do I like this?”

Oz went into some detail about our blossoming English wine industry and how Nyetimber has been a real pioneer. This led nicely onto informing our guests of how sparkling wine is made, and how English wine is made in the very same manner,  using the very same grape varieties and that it was the English who played their part in sparkling wine’s creation in the first place!

In fact, Oz suggested that the climate in the South of England is now better suited to the production of sparkling wine than that of Champagne, and this has led to one or two Champaignois taking the ferry over to Blighty in order to check out potential sites! Things really do seem to have come full-circle!

A Sauvignon Blanc followed, less full-on than the Brancott that we had at last night’s Oz dinner, but still maintained that characteristic fresh green pepper and herbaceous zing. Made by Whitehaven of Marlborough, this family-run operation,  named this wine Mansion House Bay after the cove on Kawau Island just off Auckland where Governor Gorge Grey used to entertain in stately splendour.

Next it was time to compare a Chardonnay, one from the old world, in this case France and the other from the New world, this being Australia.

Oz spoke of how Chardonnay can have a bad tag-line but often folk do not realise that it is the very grape that is used in much of Champagne’s wines and is the only grape variety that is to be found in Chablis, and not to mention most of the fine white Burgundies that are to be had!

Our guests enjoyed comparing the fresh racey Domaine Pico Race Chablis 2014, which had some nutty almond notes due to the time it had spent on its lees (this being dead yeast and other particles leftover in the wine after fermentation, which had purposely been left in the wine for a duration to allow it to develop additional characteristics), alongside d’Arenberg’s The Lucky Lizard 2013.

The latter had more of a rounded feel with less acidity, ripe apple fruit and creamy buttery highlights, and with a touch of oak. 15% of this wine underwent fermentation in French oak barrels, giving it a silky mouthfeel.

Oz explained how Aussie wines have had to adjust themselves to a changing market and consumer trends. Whereas once upon a time, we couldn’t get enough of full-on big oaky wines, the trend nowadays is for something with a bit more elegance albeit without losing that Aussie charm.

Oz Clarke Masterclass Nov 2015

Moving onto our reds, Oz went on to talk about how red wine is made (it’s not just about using red grapes of course!).

We decided to woo our guests with Craggy Range‘s Te Muna Road Pinot Noir. This is a seriously good pinot from Martinborough on the North Island of New Zealand.

Craggy Range were one of the first in the Southern Hemisphere to adopt making single vineyard wines. Hence this wine being aptly named after their Te Muna Vineyard, which contains only Pinot Noir vines. However, the vineyard is sub-divided with up to eight different varietal clones (giving slightly different Pinot Noir nuances), which are then vinified separately prior to careful blending and aged for 9 months in French oak to make this fine wine.

Now it was comparison number two. This time the variety being non-other than the Syrah/Shiraz grape. Again an Old World/New World analogy was used to illustrate perfectly how a single variety can present different characteristics depending on the where it is grown and how the wine is made.

Here we had Domaine Gilles Robin Crozes Hermitage “Papillon” 2014 from the Northern Rhone that displayed black fruits, bramble and cherry spice with a round palate and firm structure matched with a McHenry Hohnen Shiraz 2013 from Margaret River in Western Australia. The latter had rich aromas of of currant muffin, plum, blackberry and smoked ham-hock, tied together with firm but smooth ripe tannins.

David Hohnen is well known in wine circles for once being a part of Cape Mentelle Vineyards (now owned by Champagne house Veuve Cliquot), and  it was he and his family who went on to create Cloudy Bay in New Zealand.

The grand finale to our masterclass and Oz’s epic stay in Newcastle was treating our guests to a glass (or two) of Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes. With neighbours such as Chateau d’Yquem right next door, who could not be impressed by this lush dessert wine and a surprise to many, as dessert wines often get overlooked nowadays though they shouldn’t! Especially not a stunner as this one!

Oz had just enough time to mingle with our guests, sign a few more books and have the odd picture taken before heading of to Central Station and his train to the big smoke.

Wow! What a weekend it has been! Thank you Mr Oz Clarke for entertaining, wining and dining us.

It has been great to hear all the positive feedback from those who attended our events over the weekend and those that helped to set social media alight for us with their wonderful comments and pictures! Thank you!

We would also like to thank our gorgeous partners and sponsors for this event:

Enotria

Louis Latour Agencies

Nyetimber

Waitrose

We would also like to give a big THANK YOU to the Assembly Rooms for their hospitality and making us and our guests feel welcome over the weekend!

Guest Wines are next out and about at Campbells of Leyburn in North Yorkshire – stop by if your in the local vicinity and say hello. We shall have some great English wines for you to taste – a fantastic Christmas present we think!

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The Wizard of Wine Oz Clarke Extravaganza 2015!

Oz Clarke’s in-store wine tasting at Waitrose intu Eldon Square Newcastle

An early start with a good breakfast inside us, we were soon in the reception area of the Indigo Hotel to pick up Oz for our first call of the day.

Like our Oz event of last year, we had scheduled in an in-store tasting at our local Waitrose store in intu Eldon Square Newcastle, where we undertake regular in-store tastings of our own.

Positioned nicely in the wine department, Oz soon had a crowd ready to sample a glass of San Leo Prosecco currently on offer for a fab £7.79! At 10am, this lean, fresh, crisp fizz with hints of peach and pear, got Saturday off to a fine start! Folk then took the opportunity to spend a little time to chat with the great man of wine.

And with it being the beginnings of the Festive Period and all, Waitrose had laid-on some of Heston Blumenthal‘s mince pies – an interesting take on the more traditional mince pie but yummy non-the-less!
Oz Clarke Waitrose 1 Nov 2015Oz also managed to catch-up with Waitrose’s very own Wine Advisor Stephen, whom Oz had met last year when he had presented him with his City and Guilds Level Two certificate in wine. A nice way in which to complete our first jolly event of the day!

Guest Wines would like to thank Waitrose for their ongoing support. Discover more of their range of wines here.

Guest Wines shall be back for another in-store tasting on Saturday 12th December  – look out for a panto theme – oh no you won’t, oh yes we will!! Ho Ho Ho! Details can be found here

With a bunch of happy shoppers who had gotten their Saturday off to a flying start (well what better way than to start it with a glass of fizz!), we were off on foot through the busy city centre streets of Newcastle to wind our way back to The Assembly Rooms for our Oz Clarke Masterclass!

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The Wizard of Wine Oz Clarke Extravaganza 2015!

The return of Oz Clarke to Newcastle with a dinner and masterclass at The Assembly Rooms

Has a year really passed since Oz Clarke graced our Geordie shores with his enigmatic presence? It sure is! Wow and what a year it has been for us at Guest Wines! A whirlwind in many aspects from which we are still very much spinning!

More than six months of hard work and preparation with blood, sweat and the occasional tear have all gone into (but not into the wines thankfully!), not only making Oz’s second coming possible but also making it a total success with our wonderful customers!

So here we now stood at the doors to The Assembly Rooms in Newcastle with a feeling of excitement that those six months had finally come to fruition!

Things got into full-swing with our “discovery” dinner event that focused on Oz’s latest book: A History of Wine in 100 Bottles. Although we did not have 100 different wines for the dinner – things might have gotten a tad messy, we did have plenty of bottles to go round!

Guests at our Friday dinner were greeted with one of England’s finest sparkling wines, non-other than the mighty Nyetimber and its crisp, fresh and rich-bodied Classic Cuvee 2010. Crunchy red apples, lemon meringue  pie and appealing mousse. Magic in a glass!Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010

We had the privilege of being invited to Nyetimber this summer – you can read all about our adventure here

Oz was on hand for a special meet-and-greet for our lucky competition winners Julie and Gary Fletcher who had won two places at our dinner, Sunday lunch at Bon Bar and of course, a copy of Oz’s latest book, which he signed for them upon arrival.Oz Clarke Competition Winners Nov 2015

Speaking of magic, whilst guests mingled with their glasses topped up as and when, local legend Chris Cross kept everyone entertained with a trick or two – even a wizard like Oz could not fathom how Chris managed to bewilder and amaze with his proper magic like man!

Oz Clarke Dinner 4 Nov 2015The dinner got under-way with a refreshingly aromatic glass of Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2015 served alongside goats cheese with a cherry tomato vinaigrette.

Oz narrated from his book, A History of Wine in 100 Bottles, telling the story of how this wine came about.

Oz Clarke Nov 2015

This is New Zealand’s pioneer when it comes to all things sauvignon, and it is no shrinking violet with crisp acidity, a full-on fruit blast and herbaceous notes. With food it became softer and surprisingly more floral.

In contrast, served next was Yering Station Chardonnay 2014 from the Yarra Valley close to the outskirts of Melbourne in Australia. Here, our sensual experience was taken on a ride of silky textures with pleasing spicy apple, vanilla and butter that coated the insides of our mouths but with enough zip about it to cleanse our palate and leave us wanting for more.

This worked well with the Salmon Mousse as well as the Layered Vegetable Terrine.

Oz told the story of how Australia led the way with varietal naming of wines as opposed to the Old World model of naming wines by place, and how they also pioneered well-crafted but very approachable wines through the use of technological advances and the glory of the winemaker.

Oz Clarke Dinner 1 Nov 2015

Oz now took the time to introduce two other important guests at our dinner. These being non-other than Matt and Nina from Beyond the Wall Vin-Garden – a vineyard in Northumberland! Yes, you read that correctly! Who’d have thought!?! Guest Wines (and Oz) are looking forward to sampling their 2015!

Beyoned the Wall Vin Garden 2015

We then moved onto reds and enjoyed our Rioja red wine risotto, fashioned in the style of Giorgio Lacatelli, whilst sipping on a glass of spicy Marques de Riscal Reserva 2011 and listening to Oz talk about this iconic producer and how they helped lead the way in putting Spain, and in particular Rioja, on the fine wine world map.

You can read more on Marques de Riscal in our blog when we paid a visit to the bodega in 2014.

Oz Clarke Dinner 3 Nov 2015

With the main course of either Lamb Shank with Butter Beans and Chorizo or Mushroom Bolognese, we raced back over to Australia for Penfolds Bin 28 2013. Big on fruit and spice with a hint of chocolate and a touch of muscovado sugar – what a crowd pleaser this was. Smooth but with enough tannic grip to happily hold its place on the table with the food.

Oz continued to read from his book and tell a tale or two about this well-known producer, referring to the Bin 28 as a “baby Grange” – mmmm, more please!

Now almost completely stuffed, we had just about enough room for the excellent Nutty Chocolate Slab served with the Waitrose Reserve Tawny Port – oh yes! Think caramel, candid dried fruits, sultanas and banana wrapped up with a nutty tang! Heard alongside great tales of Portugal with its long history and allegiance to the UK and of course, great port wines!

Oz Clarke Dinner 2 Nov 2015

The night was by now coming to an end, but not until our satisfied guests had had the chance to speak with Oz, who continued to happily sign copies of his books that we had available, and also have the odd picture taken of course!

We finished off the night with Oz downstairs in Bon Bar where BBC Radio 5 were broadcasting live and took the opportunity to have a quick chat with him. The manager treated us to their signature cocktail called The LocomotiveDiageo World Class UK Top 50 Finalist Inspired by George Stephenson; pioneer Newcastle engineer and locomotive builder! Ron Zacapa 23 stirred with Newcastle Brown Ale reduction, Picon Italian aperitif & leather aged walnut bitters. Served on a smoked Macallan whisky barrel shard – a welcome nightcap, before we headed off home and Oz to his hotel in readiness for another busy day ahead of us, which you can read more about in our next epic Oz instalment!

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Guest Wines would like to take the opportunity to thank Oz for making this such a wonderful weekend of food and wine indulgence.

As well as our gorgeous sponsors:

Bon Bar

Majestic Wines Newcastle

Nyetimber

Treasury Wine Estates (Penfolds)

Waitrose Wines

And our official photographers: Mike O’Brien and Anne-Marie Stewart.

And of course our lovely guests. Thank you for your help in making this a fantastic night!

In the meantime, you can catch-up on last year’s adventures with Oz and his visit to Newcastle here.

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