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!


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


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.