Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 21 November 2014

CWW: a Harrowing day out @Little Bedwyn!

A challenging day@the office!
Tasting menu@The Harrow, Little Bedwyn
The commissioning letter for the CWW's 2nd BYO!

Life as a freelancer is frequently tough, ever changeable, always having to be prepared for the next challenging assignment .....

Yesterday a small group of the Circle of Wine Writers and their guests headed out to the Wiltshire countryside away from the misty metropolis. We caught the 11:18 from Paddington to Bedwyn. Getting off at Hungerford, from there a couple of taxis took us through the streets of Hungerford – time enough to remember Nick Davies' Hungerford Wine Company and its spectacular bust – before arriving in front of The Harrow at Little Bedwyn.

Michelin-starred The Harrow is run by CWW member Roger Jones and his wife Sue – our venue for the 2nd CWW BYO event. We held the first in September at the Lahore Kebab House on the Commercial Road in London's East End. Unfortunately, although he is a keen fan of the Lahore, Roger hadn't been able to make this but very kindly offered us a special deal for our 2nd BYO – a special price for the tasting menu and no corkage.     

 The entrance to award-winning The Harrow with 
a list of natural producers who supply the restaurant 
(above and below)

After our arduous journey from London Paddington it was great to be welcomed with an enticing and delicious glass of Moutard Père et Fils Prestige Rosé Champagne served from magnum. This also gave us (11 members and guests) time to unwrap and assemble the various bottles we had brought with us.  

 Part of the assembled déjeuner de la modération (above and below) 

A brilliant start to our assignment: foie gras macaroons
with 2004 Belle Epoque, Perrier Jouêt

 2009 Clos Windsbuhl, Domaine Zind Humbrecht 
Very impressive  – a great intro to CWW Alsace tasting 
on 26th Nov (sorry sold out!)

 Another lovely amuse bouche: ceviche of wild sea bass 
– cucumber & wasabi sorbet 

Jacky Blot's Triple Zéro, Montlouis Pétillant 
proved to be a winner  

Tuna carpaccio with 
Wiltshire truffles, poached leeks and truffle cream  

One of the stars of the lunch 
1989 Premier Jour 25 août, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Louis Métaireau 
A rare and unique bottle given to me by Louis many years ago.
With age the Melon showing its Burgundian roots complexity and finesse 
but with wonderful fresh vibrancy

Another stunning dish: Pembroke lobster ravioli
crab and carrot jus

On to the reds: 
3 Pinots to kick off!

 1997 Vigne de l'Enfant Jésus, Beaune Grèves, Bouchard Père et Fils
(en magnum)
showing brilliantly

 2002 Gevrey-Chambertin, Domaine Armand Rousseau
Also lovely, underlining why people are fanatical about good and great Pinot Noir!

2009 Pinot Noir, Cuvée de Trois, Russian River Valley
Joseph Swan Vineyards 
Not outgunned in this exalted company with 
its own distinctive Pinot Noir character 
from California's Russian River 

Fillet of Northumberland Roe Venison
Game Bon Bon, Parsnip Puree

Another stunning bottle (a half actually): 2009 Sassicaia
Wonderful complex aromas, silky texture

2000 Pavie Decesse on right 

Two further reds were decanted: 2000 Pavie Decesse, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru and 2001 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Eden Valley.

2011 Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Merlot 
Eden Valley (2nd left) also Offley 20 Year Old Tawny (far right)

1977 Vintage Port, Delaforce
Two fine Ports with the cheese 

20 YO Tawny, RP20, Quinta do Bom Retiro 

The wonderfully inventive pre-dessert: 'Boiled Egg and Soldiers'

2008 Private Bin, Eminence, Noble Late Harvest Muscadel, Nederburg 
lovely deep apricot flavours, nicely balanced not cloying

Chocolate platter

 Roger Jones: our host and chef 

All in all a marvellous and highly memorable lunch. Our grateful thanks to Susan and Roger Jones and their staff who looked after us so well bringing an endless supply of high quality glasses. By the time we added in five plates of cheese shared across 11 of us, coffee and a tip, our bill for our working lunch was £55 each. 

Excellent value when you consider the quality of the cooking and what the wine we enjoyed would have cost retail let alone on a restaurant list! Furthermore some of the wines – eg the 1989 Muscadet just could not have been sourced. 

The CWW will be continuing to organise these recently introduced BYO events at varying prices – sometimes at lunchtime and sometimes in the evening. Watch this space!      

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