Expert advice on visiting Bordeaux

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Bordeaux city streets, photographed by Jason Lowe
Photograph by Jason Lowe

This evening, the UK’s school children will be delightedly contemplating the long summer ahead. But, for many of us, our dream holiday isn’t yet possible. If you’re pining (or planning) for international travel, we have a bit of escapism at hand. Here, we talk with Adam Stebbings, of luxury wine travel company SmoothRed, about why Bordeaux is the perfect wine destination.

Adam’s family has been rooted in the wine industry for many generations, importing wines from Bordeaux. Inspired by his twin passions of wine and travel, he founded SmoothRed in 2004.

The company’s raison d’etre is putting together bespoke itineraries for vinous tours of the world’s finest fine wine spots. Here, he shares a few gems about what to see, eat, drink and enjoy when in Bordeaux.

There are many beautiful wine regions in the world – why visit Bordeaux?

My clients travel all over the world, but always come back to Bordeaux. It’s iconic. You’ve got 10,000 châteaux split across the various appellations. And there is so much depth to explore: the Left Bank versus the Right Bank; microclimates; the different classifications – it’s hard to beat. People are always surprised by the size of Bordeaux: going from the city up to St Estèphe takes the best part of an hour and a half – it’s massive! And the sheer size of the properties on the Left Bank versus the smaller family domaines on the Right Bank.

If you’ve only got two nights, you’ve got to be pretty focused about what you want to get out of a trip.

What do I need to know about planning my itinerary?

This isn’t Napa – you can’t just nip into five properties in a day; you’ll need to be a bit more planned, and know what time you’re able to visit the estates you’re interested in. And of course, not all of them are open to visitors. Remember to talk to the properties you’re hoping to visit in the week, not at weekends. Planning a month or so in advance is ideal because properties don’t have long-lead calendars. Also, not all properties are open to visitors, and the experiences on offer can be very variable: some have more tourist-focused generic tours, while some have really wonderful hosts that bring the châteaux to life.

Often, it’s a question of relationships with the property: some of the experiences are the type that “money can’t buy”. This is where we’re really able to help clients plan their dream experiences – from long lunches to intimate tours. Things are done in a very Bordelaise way.

Where are your favourite places to go?

Ch. Brane-Cantenac has to be a favourite. Also Ch. Troplong Mondot – they have a couple of Land Rovers and we can drive out into the vineyards and do wonderful picnic lunches there with a chef. Ch. Haut-Bailly is wonderful for lunches. And we can organise incredible vertical tastings at Ch. Les Carmes Haut-Brion.

I’m a big fan of Ch. Pontet-Canet and have had wonderful tastings there over the years. Personally speaking, lunches at Ch. Pichon Lalande really stand out. We know them well, and in the past, I’ve been fortunate to have the keys to the cellar there to select the wines we’ll enjoy.

Ch. Lafite is amazing – an iconic, wonderful place to visit, but you need to be flexible in terms of arranging a visit.

The cellars at Ch. Lafite, with barrels fanning out from central columns at the heart of the circular room.
The awe-inspiring cellars at Ch. Lafite. Photograph: Francois-Poincet

What’s the best bit of advice you can give, and what would a typical trip look like?

Don’t rush it. You’ll need three nights to really experience Bordeaux. Imagine, on day one, flying into the Médoc: I’d advise starting in, say, Cos d’Estournel or somewhere in the north, and working your way back down through Pauillac and Margaux. Again, take your time: you want to see the port in Pauillac and experience the places you’re in. Then finish the day in Bordeaux with a big dinner in the evening.  

The following day, we’d be up early over to the Right Bank – perhaps doing Pessac on the way, and then work through the Right Bank. Don’t rush St Emilion – take some time in the vineyards, but also in the town itself. There’s so much on offer. We can help by handpicking your châteaux, restaurants and hotels to make it a seamless experience.

What’s the one thing I should eat on my trip to Bordeaux? 

The canelé is one of the specialities of Bordeaux, linked to the history of the city and its wines, as the pastry is made of egg yolk (the white was used in the wine for clarification). Historically, châteaux would use the yolk for making this little cake. It is perfumed with rum, vanilla and sugar cane – another link with the past. Bordeaux’s port received imported goods from the Caribbean islands; a good place to enjoy them is Café Baillardran.

Also, duck in its various iterations – from magret de canard to confit de canard – is always a must in the South-West. I also like to include oysters, given Bordeaux’s proximity to Arcachon and Cap Ferret.

If you’re keen to try an old-school Bordeaux speciality, la lamproie à la Bordelaise (lamprey eel) is a devilishly unique and historic dish! Be warned, this is not for everyone and the preparation itself is quite gruesome.

Can you recommend a spot for drinks?

I love my cheese, so Baud et Millet is always good fun for a homely pairing experience, and the atmosphere is unmatched.

Aux Quatre Coins du Vin and Le Wine Bar are always great for a glass or two with excellent charcuterie plates. Rue Saint-Rémi in the city centre and the Place des Chartrons are certainly worth exploring.

Which is your favourite hotel when you want more than just a base?

Hôtel de Sèze is our favourite four-star boutique and it’s ideally central for exploring the city, or the Grand Hotel if you are looking for a luxury five-star option. Or, if you think you might prefer a vineyard stay, what about Les Sources de Caudalie? It’s owned by the Cathiard family (they also own Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte opposite the hotel).

What about a go-to store for some retail therapy?

La Maison Badie is very good for wine, founded in 1880 by Madame Badie in the sumptuous 18th-century building close to Place Tourny.

Rue Notre Dame in the Chartrons district is well known for boutiques and antiques if you’re looking to unearth a treasure.

Is there an experience that everyone should try before heading home?

While Bordeaux is a delight to discover on foot, taking the tram is also very easy. I suggest wandering down to the river in the morning to the Place de la Bourse and taking the riverboat to La Cité du Vin, a multi-experiential wine museum that tantalises the senses. Just in front of it, you’ll find Les Halles de Bacalan, a great spot for Sunday brunch after your visit.

If you’re interested in planning a trip to Bordeaux – or beyond – get in touch with Adam here.

Category: Bordeaux Wine,Food & Wine,Old World

Davy Żyw on Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling wine

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A close-up photo of a vine before bud burst at Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire, England.

In the second instalment of our two-part series, Davy Żyw shines a light on Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling wine, exploring their cultural backgrounds and the factors that have led to their popularity.

Prosecco has become particularly famous in recent years. Where do its strong cultural associations come from?

If we start with Prosecco and look at where it’s made, it comes from the pianure – the flat plains – under the Alps, from Verona, tucked under the Dolomites, all the way to Udine right on the Slovenian border. Prosecco can come from any vineyard between the two, which is a very large amount of land. Historically, it’s not one of the richest parts of Italy. Ownership of land and borders have changed an awful lot, even in the last 100 years.

But you’ve got a few of these rich merchant towns – Venice being one of them – which have had a huge influence on the economies of these regions and the density of the population: the people who are looking to drink these wines. So, if you take Verona and Venice – two of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy – there’s this very strong piazza culture of eating, drinking and socialising. Prosecco has become this drink that people can start the evening with, because they’re likely to move onto the other incredible wines that are made in the region. There’s a real convivial social element to it: that’s the heart of Prosecco culture.

In Champagne, you only really make Champagne. In Veneto, you’ve got Soave, Soave Classico, Valpolicella, Pinot Grigio, Traminer – the list goes on. So, Prosecco is just one of the wines of the region, which affects how it’s consumed.

In Champagne, you only really make Champagne. In Veneto, you’ve got Soave, Soave Classico, Valpolicella, Pinot Grigio, Traminer – the list goes on. So, Prosecco is just one of the wines of the region, which affects how it’s consumed.

It’s also very cocktail-friendly. Just look at the Aperol Spritz – who doesn’t love an Aperol Spritz? You meet for one glass: it’s fizzy, it’s sweet, it’s bitter, it’s fruity, it’s refreshing. Then you go onto dinner. It’s very much associated with this lifestyle you have in this part of Italy.

Overseas, Prosecco has become a hugely popular wine. It’s the first step on the ladder to other sparkling wines. If you look at the last 10 years and how many drinkers would be swapping their everyday bottle of still wine for a sparkling wine of the same price, it’s fantastic. It has that sense of occasion, the pop of the cork, the theatre. We can be quite dismissive of Prosecco because of the quality ceiling, but in terms of what it’s done for the sparkling wine category and Italy in general, it’s an amazing achievement.

Moving onto Spanish sparkling wine, can you tell us a little more about Cava?

In Catalonia, they have more of a challenge when it comes to producing sparkling wine. Cava is very expensive to make: it requires the same time and effort as making Champagne, but in the past, it’s been sold very cheaply. This is the problem with large retailers. They’re selling Cava, which takes three or four years to make, for the same price as Prosecco, which takes 60 days to make. It’s been a challenge to secure its premium status in the UK, but the quality can be very high.

The grapes here are mixed. There are many local grapes around Catalonia, but you can also use Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And Cava production isn’t limited to Catalonia – you can make Cava anywhere in Spain – but generally, it tends to be made mostly around the hills outside Barcelona.

This is important, with Barcelona being such a huge gastronomic hub. The eating culture here is incredible. It seems as if the imbibers of Catalonia needed a drink for sharing which wasn’t Sherry or a still white wine, to have with tapas before they start eating dinner. Cava was created to whet the appetites and thirst of these drinkers and diners in the plazas of Barcelona – a way to start the evening before moving onto the more serious whites and reds of the nearby regions.

The soils in the area aren’t as chalk-rich as in Champagne; they’re darker, richer, more basalt, which is great for quality, but they don’t have quite the same precision as some of the sparkling wines you’d find elsewhere. But some styles are very, very good.

With the rise of British viticulture, we no longer have to look very far to find excellent sparkling wines. Can you tell us about the English sparkling wine scene?

You can trace viticulture in England back to the Romans. It’s almost seen as a novelty industry now, but it’s far from the truth: we’ve got a long relationship with winemaking in England that has never really come to fruition before. Now, we’re enjoying the heyday of English and British wine.

There are a few reasons why we’ve emulated our Champenois friends across the channel. One: although we’re a tiny country, we’re the world’s largest export market for Champagne – we love it here, so why not create our own? Up until a few years ago, it was said that London drank more Champagne than the entirety of the United States.

Another reason is because of the chalk. It’s the same band of Jurassic sea basin that stretches from Champagne, under the channel, then touches the south-east of England. A lot of the greatest English vineyards are planted on the same chalk. The vineyards of Hambledon – where our Own Selection English sparkling wine comes from – are planted on the same chalk we’d find in the Côte de Blancs. The chalk gives the wine all the same benefits of longevity, hydration, salinity and minerality.

This is an incredible moment for British winemaking. Over the last 10 years, the vineyard area has grown by 150%. We’ve got hundreds of different wineries across the UK now, and they’re only just beginning to realise the potential of their quality and just how great the terroir here is. It’s so exciting to be on the brink of this change. The UK is one of the new frontiers of quality wine in the world – and it’s happening right on our doorstep.

Category: Miscellaneous

Sparkling wines: Davy Żyw on Champagne

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An image of arches and pathways through an underground cellar, where the Champagnes are aged.
Photo credit: Jason Lowe

We speak to Davy Żyw, our Wine Buyer, about the rich and fascinating world of sparkling wine. In this first instalment of our two-part series, we explore the Champagne region, uncovering the reasons it produces such remarkable wines.

What are the main methods used for making sparkling wine?

The most important sparkling wines can be split into two camps. The first one is the traditional method (méthode traditionelle), where the sparkle is achieved with second fermentation in bottle, giving a huge spectrum of different flavours and textures. The second camp is sparkling wine which is made with what the Italians call autoclave or Charmat – the tank method.

You do get some smaller, more peculiar styles which are produced in smaller quantities, such as méthode ancestrale – the original sparkling wine. This style of wine was first mentioned in 1536, in the town of Limoux, just outside Carcassonne. The written record of méthode ancestrale sparkling wine can be traced to a Benedictine abbey down there. These kinds of wines are made by bottling still wines that have still-active yeast inside, and there’s a natural fermentation which happens inside the bottle – but they’re in very small production.

What are the most famous examples of these methods?

There’s one particularly famous wine associated with the tank method: Prosecco. It’s one of the biggest success stories of the last 30 years, and it’s down to a little grape called Glera, which grows on the flat, foggy plains of Veneto and Friuli, and is very high yielding. It’s quite easy to produce and very quick to make: you can make a bottled Prosecco, from grape to glass, in 60 days. This is one of the reasons why it’s so cheap, but also why it’s so light, fruity, pleasing and easy to drink – because you’re tasting the pure essence of what that fruity grape is, rather than any intricate or technical winemaking intervention.

The most important sparkling wine, of course, is made from the traditional method, honed through centuries of human endeavour and achieved in the chalky crayères [subterranean chalk quarries] of Champagne. This is the global benchmark of sparkling wine, and for good reason: Champagne represents the pinnacle of quality and expression, and what sparkling wine can achieve.

What makes Champagne so remarkable?

There are a multitude of reasons here. One is the northern climate: it’s the most northerly wine region of France. To harvest ripe grapes is something producers have traditionally struggled to achieve – although this is different now with global warming.

Although there could be up to seven different grapes in Champagne, there are three frontrunners: Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The latter two have a wonderful ability to pick up vinous detailed expression from the vineyards. This leads us onto what the vineyards are like in Champagne, and what really sets this region apart is the chalk, set on a 65-million-year-old marine bed.

There are many benefits to this chalky soil. One is about the retention of water. So, even if it rains and snows a lot in winter, but doesn’t rain at all in summer, the chalk slowly releases just enough water to keep the vines healthy. It’s like sitting on a sponge.

The deeper the vines go into the chalk, the more salty, mineral character you get, which you can taste in the Champagne itself. Personally, I find this one of the most desirable elements when I look for a Champagne – particularly in Chardonnay from the Côte de Blancs, there’s this incredible salty marine character you find in the back of the palate, woven in with the acidity. It’s this incredible sea breeze, very crystalline character.


How did Champagne build such a prestigious reputation as a wine region?

It’s fascinating what the Champenois have done over the centuries. Champagne is historically the poorest, most war-stricken, desolate, bleak, cold, gloomy area of France. It’s in the midst of some incredible wine regions: you’ve got Alsace, the Jura, and Burgundy’s not too far away either.

But there have been a few intrepid winemakers and salesmen who, over the last few centuries, have built Champagne’s reputation as the height of sophistication, luxury and quality. But the Champenois have had it hard. The two world wars were fought in the vineyards of Champagne, which makes it even more incredible when you consider how successful Champagne is. This comes down to how export-focused they were, and how savvy they were with marketing themselves as this delicious, desirable wine which we know and love today.

It’s also on a critical route between Western Europe, Germany and Russia, so it’s always been in a strategic position – in terms of conflict, but also trade. They’ve been incredibly clever, knowing they’re in a poor region of France making an expensive wine, to target customers overseas – and they’ve created a whole culture around it.

What’s the difference between the Grandes Marques, the cooperatives and the growers?

In Champagne, there’s a bit of a disconnect between the Grandes Marques and the cooperatives. The Grandes Marques – MöetClicquotRoederer – hold the names of rich landowners, merchants or politicians – people who came from a place of money and privilege before they became winemakers. The Grandes Marques are family houses, and they’re generally privately owned. They may have some of their own vineyards, but they’ll also buy grapes from growers around the region to bottle under their own brand – apart from Roederer, who own the entirety of their vineyards.

On the other hand, you have the cooperatives. Take, for instance, Mailly, who make our UKC [Own Selection Champagne]. They are a cooperative in the Grand Cru town of Mailly, owned and run by the families of the village. Everyone has a share, and everyone has a say in how they grow the grapes, how they run the company and how the wines are made. Here, we’re lucky to work with the only two Grand Cru cooperatives: Mailly and Le Mesnil.

What makes Champagne so interesting now is that there’s been a shift in recent years, with more respect for terroir and for the farmer. There’s a lot to be said about the success that happened to Burgundy, looking at vineyard-specific wines and expression of detail of individual terroirs, and how winemakers are utilising their toolbox to best express their sense of place. These growers are becoming more and more important in Champagne, producing some of the region’s most exciting – and progressive – styles; not necessarily the most commercial, because some of the styles are quite challenging. But the role of the grower is becoming increasingly recognised and this is something I’d really like to champion.

Explore our Champagne selection here.

Category: Champagne and Sparkling Wine

High summer ingredients and wine

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A photograph of a pile of cherries in Burgundy
Photo credit: Jason Lowe

The weather is getting warmer. The kitchen at No.3 St James’s Street is flooded with a plethora of the most vibrant-coloured and fresh ingredients. Here, our Head Chef Stewart Turner shares a few of his favourites for the table this summer; and Isabella Cameron, our wine specialist, selects delicious, summer-friendly bottles to match.

Tomatoes

Up there with peas and broad beans, tomatoes have to be the top of the list for me in summer. Raw tomatoes are tricky to match with wine – but when warmed, cooked or dressed, that natural acidity can be tempered. It’s all about balance, really. Heirloom tomatoes are multi-coloured and multi-shaped varieties with less natural acidity. I like to use them as they are sweeter, with a more intense tomato flavour. This recipe is for my simple tomato salad. It’s great as a side dish; you could also take it up a notch with some burrata, avocado or grilled goat’s cheese.


Tomato salad

A selection of tomatoes including some cherry tomatoes
Half a fresh chilli, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
One clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
One red onion, peeled and finely sliced
A pinch of sugar
Half a bunch of basil, picked; keep the stalks
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 120°C. Split the cherry tomatoes in half and place in an oven dish. Season them with salt and pepper, then scatter over the sliced garlic and basil stalks. If you had vine tomatoes, scatter over the bits of vine. Drizzle over a good glug of olive oil, and pop in the oven for 15 minutes to lightly confit.

While the cherry tomatoes are cooking, cut the remaining tomatoes into slices or chunks. Place them on a platter and dress with a good pinch of sea salt, a pinch of sugar and a good glug of olive oil. Leave at room temperature for 20 minutes; the seasoning will draw out the juices.

Rinse the sliced red onion in cold water, tear the basil. If using the chili, split and deseed it.

Once cooked, remove the cherry tomatoes from the oven. Discard the basil stalks and vine. Place the confit tomatoes on a plate and set aside. Make sure you keep all the oil and juice in the oven dish; add it to any juice from the sliced tomatoes and mix to form a dressing. Top it up with at tablespoon of olive oil and finish with the diced chili or flakes (if using). Transfer to a small bowl.

Arrange the confit tomatoes on the platter of sliced tomatoes. Scatter over the red onion and torn basil. Spoon over the dressing and serve.

Serve with: 2020 Roero Arneis, Cornarea, Piedmont, Italy

This little rascal (excuse the pun; Arneis loosely translates as “little rascal” in Italian) has mouth-watering acidity with notes of apples, pears and blossom.

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Mackerel

Mackerel is definitely a summer fish. The season fluctuates from one year to the next. But when the sea temperature begins to rise, towards the end of May, shoals will appear inshore. Make sure what you buy is super-fresh – oily fish don’t last as long as other fish.

Great lightly soused or cured, I love mackerel on the barbecue; under the grill, they take on a wonderful, charred note.

This is a classic dish from my early days in predominantly French restaurants. Artichoke barigoule is a lightly pickled dish that cuts through the oily character of the fish perfectly. I’ve used prepared artichokes, as the sourcing and preparing of fresh artichokes can be tricky.


Grilled mackerel with artichoke barigoule

Serves 4

Two medium mackerel, filleted and central bones removed
300g confit artichoke hearts (they can be the lightly grilled ones available in most deli sections)
One onion, peeled and finely sliced
One small fennel bulb, finely sliced
One carrot, peeled and finely sliced
One clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
Four sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
Juice of half a lemon
60ml olive oil, plus a little extra for cooking the fish
100ml dry white wine
50ml water
Half a bunch of basil, leaves shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan. Sweat the vegetables for three minutes, and then add the thyme and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and continue to sweat for another two minutes. Pour in the white wine, lemon juice and water. Cover, and simmer for five minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the prepared artichokes and cook for a further couple of minutes, to warm and infuse the flavours.

While the barigoule is cooking, heat the grill and place the mackerel fillets on a tray. Season well and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook under the hot grill for a couple of minutes until the skin starts to blister and the fish is just cooked.

Place the fish into the warm barigoule. Finish with the remaining oil and shredded basil.

Serve with: 2019 Condrieu, La Bonnette, Domaine René Rostaing, Rhône

Something to match the oily texture of the mackerel, this Condrieu has notes of apricots, peach and honeysuckle, with a touch of spicy ginger. The viscosity on the palate is balanced by the lively acidity and lingering yellow apple and spice.

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Courgettes

Grilled courgettes are a staple in my house; I absolutely love them. Courgettes make a decent meal of any store-cupboard ingredient. They are so versatile and have nearly as many uses as there are varieties: they can range from small and flying-saucer shaped, to dark-green and tennis ball-sized, to long and yellow. They are a summer squash, harvested when the seeds and skin are still soft. If left, they will continue to grow into marrow; the flavour is at its best the smaller they are.


Grilled courgettes with chilli, mint, basil and ricotta

Serves 4

Four courgettes, ends trimmed and cut into long strips
One yellow courgette, finely sliced into thin rounds
One clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
One or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for dressing
One fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped

Toss the courgette strips in a bowl with the olive oil (just enough to coat the courgette), half of the chilli, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a ridged grill pan until smoking hot. Griddle the courgettes in batches, about two minutes per side, until wonderfully charred. Be careful not to crowd the grill pan. Don’t be tempted to move the courgette while it is cooking; you won’t get the chargrill marks across the flesh. Drain on kitchen paper.

While the courgette strips are grilling, place the sliced courgettes in a bowl with the garlic and remaining chilli, and season well with salt. Allow to sit, and the juices will be drawn out of the courgettes. After about five minutes, add the lemon juice, mint, basil and a good glug of your best extra virgin olive oil.

Arrange the grilled courgettes on a platter and crumble over the ricotta. Spoon over the courgette discs and dressing.

Serve with: 2018 Leeuwin Art Series Riesling, Margaret River, Australia

The nose is an abundance of lime zest, dried herbs and lime leaf. The wonderful acidity will pick out the hint of lemon juice in the dish and cut through the creamy texture of the ricotta.

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Peaches and cherries

After strawberries and raspberries, no other fruit shouts “summer” like stone-fruit. Peaches and cherries are always top of my list.


Grilled peaches with Parma ham, burrata and savoury hazelnut praline

Serves 4

Two peaches, just ripe but not too soft – halved and stoned
Two burrata
Eight slices of cured ham (Parma, Serrano or an English equivalent)
Olive oil
100g wild rocket
Half a bunch of basil

Praline

100g toasted hazelnuts
One clove of garlic, finely chopped
Maple syrup
Hazelnut oil

Heat a griddle plan over a high heat. Brush the peach halves with oil, then griddle until charred and caramelised on the surface. Allow to cool and then cut into chunks.

For the praline, blitz the toasted nuts in a food processor until just broken up. Add the rest of the ingredients, and pulse to combine.

Arrange the peaches on a platter. Drain and tear the burrata over the top, and then drape over the ham. Scatter the rocket on top and spoon on the praline to finish.

Serve with: 2019 Sancerre Rosé, Daniel Chotard, Loire

I find rosé extremely versatile with food. This charming example will provide enough acidity and pack enough flavour to match this dish. Made from Pinot Noir, it has aromas of fresh, crunchy red berries, floral notes and lively acidity.

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Peach and vanilla clafoutis

20g butter, plus extra to grease the dish
400g peaches, stones removed and cut into chunks
One tablespoon granulated sugar
One vanilla pod
150ml full-fat milk
150ml double cream
Five free-range whole eggs
120g caster sugar
75g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180°C. For the filling, melt the butter over a medium heat in a frying pan. Add the peach chunks and fry for two minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the batter, split the vanilla pod in half with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and pod in a pan with the milk and cream. Place over a medium heat and bring up to simmering point. Remove from the heat, then leave to cool for the flavours to infuse.

Whisk together the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and frothy. Add the sugar and whisk until well-blended. Fold in the flour and gradually pour the milk and cream into the mixing bowl, removing the vanilla pod. Butter a shallow ovenproof dish and lightly sprinkle with the sugar.

Place the peaches in the dish and pour in the batter. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden-brown and firm.

Serve immediately, with a dusting of icing sugar and crème fraiche, to taste.

Serve with: 2016 Zeltinger Himmelreich Eiswein, Selbach-Oster, Germany

For a spot of sweetness this summer, go with this. There’s a great purity of fruit, showing aromas of apricot and mango, with a delicate layer of orange blossom. Lively acidity balances the ripe fruit on the palate, but also the sweetness in the dish.

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Pan roast supreme of duck with sour cherry

Serves 4

Duck with cherry is a classic combination. The sour marinade for the cherries is a perfect foil for the fattiness of the duck. It makes a great alternative to chutney or pickle for cold meats and cheeses. Make it in advance; it will get better with age.

Four duck breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
One sprig of thyme
One sprig of rosemary

Heat another glug of oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Season the duck well with salt and pepper. Add to the pan skin-side down and cook until brown and crispy, about four minutes. Turn the breast over without piercing the meat. Cook for another three or four minutes, depending on how pink you like your duck. Remove the duck from the pan, cover with foil and allow to rest.

Carve the duck and place on a warmed serving platter. Spoon over the cherries and serve with some new potatoes and seasonal greens.

Sour cherry marinade

500g halved and stoned cherries
200ml raspberry vinegar
75g honey
25g sugar
One orange (juice and zest)
Half a lemon (juice and zest)
Two sprigs thyme
One cinnamon stick
Two star anise

In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients for the marinade except the cherries. Bring to the boil and pour over the cherries. Leave to cool and put in the fridge. Leave for at least three days before using, to allow the flavours to settle.

For more summer inspiration, discover Stewart’s recipe for burrata with courgettes here.

Category: Food & Wine