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Monthly Archives: November 2017

  • Three must-do Franschhoek wine experiences

    If you are due to visit Cape Town for your holiday, make sure you include a trip to Franschhoek to experience some of the Cape Wineland's best wine estates.

    Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and is situated 46 miles outside of Cape Town, surrounded by mountains and vineyards. The name Franschhoek means French Corner and is the area the French Hugenots settled when they arrived in South Africa in 1688. Still today, the town retains its French heritage and is a wonderfully picturesque place to spend time with plenty of accommodation options available to visitors.

    Here are three wine-related experiences we recommend while you are in Franschhoek this year.

    Haute Cabriere

    Haute Cabriere is a firm favourite with our clients and you cannot spend time in Cape Town without a visit to this wine estate with its striking stone cellar and tasting room.

    Haute Cabriere relaunched its menus for this South African summer season, introducing a tapas style and oyster menu to the tasting room and also extending its opening hours in the restaurant and tasting room. You can read more about these changes in our blog post here.

    A photo of a couple enjoying wine tasting outside at Haute Cabriere in Franschhoek

    Haute Cabriere boasts a wonderful view of the Franschhoek valley and is the ideal spot for summer sundowners on the terrace outside the tasting room that will remain with you once you return to the UK. Guided cellar tours are offered Monday to Saturday and are followed by a sabrage display and wine tasting, so make sure you book before arrival as they tend to get quite busy, particularly on the weekends.

    GlenWood

    A photo showing GlenWood's Tasting Room and vineyards

    GlenWood has relaunched its restaurant concept this season, offering a unique food and wine pairing experience in an intimate setting that seats at most 20 guests. Each guest experiences six of GlenWood's award-winning wines along with a tasting palette of six paired dishes comprised primarily of locally produced products. Guests select their lunch main course and accompanying wine from this tasting palette.

    This wine estate is a hidden gem, located two or three kilometers down a dirt road in the secluded Robertsvlei Valley in Franschhoek. It is well worth the detour to visit GlenWood, as the peace and tranquility, together with the wonderful panorama to be seen from the tasting room and restaurant whilst enjoying the estate's wines, are not to be missed.

    Make sure you book in advance for the restaurant due to the limited seating.

    Le Lude

    Photo showing the cork Agrafe style of a bottle of Le Lude MCC wine

    Le Lude is a new offering through Hard To Find Wines with their Méthode Cap Classique wines arriving imminently in the UK, just in time for Christmas and New Year's celebrations. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to learn when they will be available on our website. If you would like to pre-order, call our sales line on 01746 389 749.

    Specialising in Cap Classique sparkling wines, Le Lude is a newcomer to the Franschhoek wine scene with its first harvest having taken place in 2012 and producing only the traditional Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for its sparkling wines.

    Le Lude is the first South African winery to produce Agrafe bottle-fermented sparkling wine. The Agrafe method ferments wine under cork instead of crown cap.

    Not only does Le Lude produce exceptional MCC wines, it also boasts a great restaurant that we highly recommend you visit: the Orangerie. Under the direction of chef Nicolene Barrow, the Orangerie offers a tasting menu, an a la carte menu and a high tea menu.

    Don't forget...

    Once you have experienced these excellent wines during your visit to Franschhoek, place your order either through the vineyard for delivery by Hard To Find Wines in the UK, or visit our website to place your order.

  • Thanksgiving Wines

    Harvest celebrations are held the world over, in both religious and secular circles. Probably the most well-known harvest celebrations in Western countries include Thanksgiving Day in Canada and the USA and Harvest Festivals in the UK.

    Thanksgiving in the USA

    Thanksgiving takes place in the USA on the fourth Thursday of November. The festivities that led to modern celebrations in the USA can be traced back to a 1621 harvest celebration at Plymouth in today's Massachusetts and were introduced as a federal holiday by President Roosevelt in 1942.

    Traditional activities include family dinners, parades (such as the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, held annually since 1924), charitable endeavours, religious thanksgiving services, big sporting events (for example, American football and basketball) and the unique event of Turkey Pardoning. Each year, the President of the United States is presented with two live turkeys. At least one of the turkeys, sometimes both, are pardoned from becoming Thanksgiving dinner and taken to a farm to live out the rest of their life.

    The usual foods enjoyed during Thanksgiving include roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, autumn vegetables such as pumpkin, and pumpkin pie.

    Thanksgiving in Canada

    Thanksgiving in Canada takes place on the second Monday in October. While no firm evidence exists to confirm the details of the first Canadian Thanksgiving celebration, many believe that is occurred in 1578. The origins can be traced to harvest celebrations of French settlers in the 17th century. Today's celebrations are strongly influenced by elements of US Thanksgiving and by immigrants in the 1700s from Ireland, Scotland and Germany.

    The same foods as those enjoyed in the USA, such as turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, are served. Other foods, such as baked ham and apple pie are common, as well as salmon and wild game.

    Harvest Festivals in the United Kingdom

    Fruit and vegetables on a table with a cornucopia

    While the traditional Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving had no official date in the United Kingdom, it was traditionally held on the Sunday nearest the harvest moon occurring closest to autumn equinox. Harvest Thanksgiving in Britain has pagan roots but is now often seen as a Christian festival, celebrated by churches and schools in late September or early October.

    The festival is celebrated with singing, praying and giving thanks for the harvest. Collections of food take place which are then donated to charities to help those in need.

    Wine pairings with Thanksgiving meals

    Whilst Harvest Festivals do not traditionally involve meals like their cousins across the pond, more and more people are celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK, be they US or Canadian expats or others who enjoy the idea behind Thanksgiving.

    So, we've had a look at which wines you should consider serving at any upcoming Thanksgiving festivities you may have planned. While traditionally, Zinfandel and Beaujolais Nouveau have been wines served with US Thanksgiving meals, here are a few alternatives to consider:

    Aperitif - Rosé or Blanc de Noirs Champagne

    Perfect as a pre-Thanksgiving aperitif, Rosé or Blanc de Noirs Sparkling wines are bold enough to pair with a main course as well.

    Our recommendation: Lanzerac MCC Blanc de Blancs NV - £19.99

    Turkey - Pinot Noir

    Pinot Noir works well with white and dark turkey meat, cranberry sauce and creamy dishes such as mashed potatoes.

    Our recommendation: Porters Pinot Noir 2006 - £39.99

    Ham - Amarone della Valpolicella

    If ham is featuring as your main dish this year, Amarone's rich cherry and chocolately flavours will complement the sweetness of the ham. A moderate acidity acts to cleanse the palate which is ideal when serving rich meats and gravy.

    Our recommendation: Zenato Amarone Classico Della Valpolicella Doc 2011 - £48.00

    Venison - Shiraz

    Shiraz pairs well with venison due to it's spicy, gamier flavours, particularly if the venison is served in a casserole. Another good choice would be a Pinot Noir.

    Our recommendation: Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Shiraz 2014 - £13.99

    Tofu - Sauvignon Blanc

    Tofu has no significant flavour of its own, so pairing will mainly be down to how the tofu is served, prepared or its accompaniments. One tofu dish often served as a vegetarian option to replace turkey is tofurky. It is often very salty, so a Sauvignon Blanc with a crisp acidity will do well. Otherwise, if uncertain, another good option would be a Pinot Noir or a Sparkling wine.

    Our recommendation: Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc 2016 - £12.79

    In short

    If you want to select only one or two wines for your Thanksgiving celebration, we recommend a Pinot Noir and a Sparkling wine. Overall, Pinot Noir pairs well with most light and dark meats and a variety of dishes. And of course, who can enjoy a celebratory meal without Sparkling wine!

    A caution for vegans

    Not all wines are vegan. Whilst at first it may seem that being made from grapes and yeast, wines should be vegan, there is a winemaking process involved that introduces non-vegan elements. The process is called fining and is used to clarify wine. When selecting wines, choose those that are unfined and unfiltered. That way you can be sure that no animal products were used in the production of the wine.

  • Autumn Wines for Autumn Times

    The weather in the UK is turning chilly, nights are getting longer and with the first light fall of snow hitting Scotland just this past weekend, we are most definitely in the midst of autumn. While the harvest festivals and bonfire night let us know that we are nearly in winter, we are not quite there yet. So sometimes when it comes to wine, we can feel a bit uncertain as to which wines are the best options for these cooler, but not yet deep-of-winter, evenings and the various autumn celebrations.

    While you could drink any wine you personally prefer at any time of the year, if you want to pair your wines with seasonal produce and seasonally inspired dishes, then picking wines that suit the season would be a good idea.

    Naturally, in spring and summer, we tend to drink more rosés and whites, particularly the lighter, aromatic and crisp wines that compliment the warmer weather. But which wines are autumn wines?

    Red wines

    Red wine choices for autumn include light- and medium-bodied reds such as Merlot, Rioja and Pinot Noir, which pair very well with slightly heavier food that we tend to prefer in Autumn. Pair a Merlot or Rioja with a beef stew, shepherds pie or a lasagne. Pinot Noir is a versatile wine, pairing well with most meats, mushroom risotto and beef wellington.

    Hard To Find Wines has a wide selection of light- and medium-bodied reds to choose from for your autumn wines. Here are a few you might want to consider.

    Muratie Merlot 2006

    muratie_merlot

    Deep intense ruby red to inky black. A combination of plums and chocolate come to the fore followed by blackcurrants and dark chocolate on the palate. The full intense assortment of flavours provides a feast for the palate. The wine has lots of body, yet subtle with well integrated oak giving it a lasting finish.

    Vinedos Real Rubio Rioja Crianza 2011

    A bottle of Vinedos Real Rubio Rioja Crianza 2011

    The graciano grape combined with the classic tempranillo produces a wine with lively colours and solid acidity. On the nose, the French cask mingles with the red berries and vanilla. Potent in the mouth, long on the palate with pleasant, ripe tannin which completes the harmony of the wine.

    Te Hera Kiritea Pinot Noir 2012

    A bottle of Te Hera Kiritea Pinot Noir 2012

    A handcrafted Pinot Noir from Te Hera located in the Martinborough region of New Zealand. Only a very limited quantity of this premium Pinot Noir are produced. With redcurrant and a hint of ripened strawberries and eucalyptus on the nose and vibrant fruit on the palate, this Pinot Noir is followed by layers of dark cherry and tobacco. Fine, elegant and with just enough acidity and tannins to balance against the berry flavours.

    Other good autumnal reds include softer red blends and cabernet franc.

    White wines

    Oaked Chardonnay is an excellent white wine choice for autumn and it pairs really well with butternut ravioli, roast chicken and dishes with rich, creamy sauces. Another great white autumn wine is Viognier. Viognier may be full-bodied like Chardonnay but it has distinctly different aromas and tastes and it pairs with Moroccan food, root vegetables and pork with a fruity sauce.

    Hard To Find Wines' selection of autumnal whites include the following:

    GlenWood Chardonnay Vigneron's Selection 2015

    A bottle of GlenWood Vigneron's Selection Chardonnay 2015

    Produced from top quality 26-year-old vines and expertly barrel oaked to obtain a winderfully rich and creamy wooded wine, this GlenWood Chardonnay is barrel fermented with wild yeast for 12 months in new French oak barrels. A gentle oaked nose leading to a creamy, buttery palate and almonds and vanilla with a smoky peach and citrus finish.

    Mellasat Viognier 2014

    A bottle of Mellasat Viognier 2014

    Made using 100% Viognier, the grapes for this wine were picked at optimal ripeness, with the resulting juice barrel fermented and matured for 8 months. The nose undoubtedly shows beautiful floral and orange blossom aromas, with peach and apricot flavours on the palate.

    The four seasons option

    And if you really can't decide between all these options, you can always opt for the most versatile wine that fits all seasons equally well: Champagne and other sparkling wines such as South Africa's Method Cap Classique.

    Here are a couple to tempt you:

    Pierre Jourdan Brut NV

    A bottle of Pierre Jourdan Brut by Haute Cabriere

    This 40/60 Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend shows apple and lime crispness from the Chardonnay and depth with a hint of berry from Pinot Noir. The wine is produced using the traditional double fermentation method as utilised in Champagne to create wonderfully fine bubbles and mousse.

    Gaston Chiquet Selection Cuvee Champagne NV

    A bottle of Gaston Chiquet Cuvee Champagne NV

    With aromas of fresh apricots and plums on the nose, and fruit, minerality and floral top notes on the palate, this excellent Champagne from vineyards around Dizy is blended 40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir.

    Of course, there are many other options on the Hard To Find Wines website to delight any wine enthusiast! So why not pop over to our selection of wines right now and make your autumn wines selection today!

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