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Posts Tagged ‘Cooden Cellars’

Ian Jarman is still going great guns up at the Ivy House Lane industrial estate.

If you’ve not yet been up to Cooden Cellars’ Hastings hub, then I suggest you get yourself up there.

Not only does he have a wide range of wine – geographically and budget-wise – but he has time to talk to you about what kind of wine you like, and that’s something you don’t get at the supermarket.

Given that I generally try to give value for money tips in this column, I was keen to know what he feels is his best offer of the moment. And I have to say that he came up with a corker.

Pinot Noir Viile Timisului 2011, a Romanian wine made by the wine house Căluşari, is currently retailing at £6.50 but if you take your copy of The Resident with you, then Ian will give you a 10% discount.

To be honest, Pinot Noir isn’t my favourite grape, so I had a bit of heart-sink when he recommended it, but boy was I wrong.

This pale ruby wine is unexpectedly complex on the palate.

Tobacco, licquorice, nectarines, peaches. All these flavours melding with aromas of sour cherry and caramel. Quite extraordinary. And the finish just goes on and on…

We spoiled ourselves and drank it with a takeaway from the Jali restaurant at Carlisle Parade. The match was pretty darn perfect.

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So there’s a nice hello from Zar to start us off…

Needless to say I was very happy to have been able to pop up to Ian Jarman’s Hastings distribution hub on Friday evening to meet, along with about 20 other punters, Zar and Elena Brooks – an Australia and Bulgarian dynamic duo who, in the world of wine, seem to be going places.

We had an opportunity to taste four of the Dandelion wines – this is a brand, umbrella identity – ‘a fusion of vineyards and vignerons working with old vineyards and artisan winemaking’ as their literature has it.

‘Zar Brooks and his winemaker wife Elena have teamed up with vignerons Brad Rey and Carl Lindner to produce a range of wines from their favourite vineyards in key regions of South Australia.  Their aim is to nurture the character of the vineyards and express the terroir in the wines.’

We had a Riesling, an unusual blend of Shiraz and Riesling, a single varietal Shiraz and a Cabernet from the Dandelion stable, and then went on to taste a couple of the wines from their La Mancha venture – Cien y Pico.

The ‘Wonderland of the Eden Valley’ Riesling 2010 was apparently a knock-out in the Australian competitions, and wasn’t at all unpleasant.  Zar and Elena told us that these Eden Valley Rieslings are characterised, on the nose, by aromas of limes and spring flowers, and it definitely had these.  I got pencil shavings too.  And on the palate a good dollop of lemons.  At £11.50 this wasn’t a big enough wow for me to be salivating – although the acidity was good, and did the trick.

One of the most interesting learning points of the night however, was just how long Zar was giving the life of the best Aussie Rieslings.  Apparently the 1984 vintage is drinking well now – which gives you an idea about their longevity.  So as wines to put down, they are a better value buy.

Next up was the ‘Lion’s Tooth of Maclaren Vale’ Shiraz/Riesling 2008.  This had black cherry and cedar on the first nose; more blackcurranty after a swirl in the glass.  Zar, to give him his due, had a patter with patina, and was the kind of guy who you’d like to spend an evening with tasting the wines from his vineyard.  He had good stories, and there was a nice anecdote about the Shiraz/Riesling blend – apparently an English wine critic had come up to them in one of the important competitions and said that this wine ‘smelt like a lady’s handbag, and tasted like a gentleman’s wallet’.  At £11.50, this was more enticing.  Elena reckoned that it could be paired with almost any food, and I don’t doubt her – it’s a very flexible wine, and by all accounts changes a great deal in the glass over the course of a meal.

‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz 2009 was the third offering – this was a more meaty wine.  In my view it was already developing in the bottle and had secondary aromas of oak alongside violets and lavender.  Zar says that Barossa is the dark chocolate to the Maclaren Vale milk.  I liked this wine (priced again at £11.50) but not as much as the Cabernet that they served next…

‘Pride of Fleurieu’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 was my favourite of the Dandelion wines on offer.  This one – from his parents’ vineyard at Finniss – was also developing in the bottle: just shifting now from ruby to a garnet colour.  Elena described it with tomato leaves, tobacco and dark chocolate.  There was also a classical Left Bank Bordeaux blackcurrant thing going on.  It had the depth of a Pauillac or a St Julien.  Zar wouldn’t be drawn as to whether or not this wine would age with parity, but at £10.99 I reckon this was the best buy of the lot, and so I had one!

The Cien y Pico wines came next – these are from ‘Manchuela, a small region in southeastern Spain.  The name Cien y Pico means ‘Hundred and something’ and refers to the ancient Garnacha Tintorera wines from which these  wines are made.’  These were big, flavourful, dried fruit and porty tasting; had lots of dairy on the nose, and weren’t really my bag.  But I am a big fan of the philosophy of preserving the viticultural heritage of the region they are working in.

These two wine celebs had an energy about them which had a definite draw.  And the fact that they can do all that they do, and still take care of a 17 month old, wins my full respect.

Thanks to Zar and Elena for sprinkling a bit of stardust in Hastings.  And good job Ian Jarman for sorting it.

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Ian Jarman at Cooden Cellars is welcoming Australian winemakers Zar and Elena Brooks to his wine outlet just off The Ridge in St Leonard’s early in September.

Apparently there are a limited number of tickets for this tutored wine-tasting.  James Halliday of Australian Wine Companion seems to rate this new venture highly.

For those of you that are interested in learning more about Australian wines, this could be too good an opportunity to miss!

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Headed down to the Stade in Hastings Old Town yesterday afternoon, to check out how the new Jerwood Gallery buildings are progressing.  See here for more information about the collaboration between the town and the art gallery – it is hoped that the gallery will assist the town’s regeneration, as the new Tate has done in St Ives, and the new Turner Gallery is doing in Margate.

As the YouTube clippet of Ian Jarman shows, Sussex wine merchant Cooden Cellars is pleased as punch to have landed

Cooden Cellars van in the foreground; eat@theStade's new building and the East Hill in the background

the contract to provide the wine at the new eatery to feed all the culture vultures.  Steve and Louise who are in charge there will do a marvellous job – you mark my words.

Ian has provided a Spanish red, white and rosado as the House offerings – plenty of guts and glory apparently.  And there is a smattering of other wine to cater for the range of tastes, and a very palatable Prosecco, so he tells me.

The restaurant is actually a fantastic space for tasting wine more formally.  Glass walls both sides, so lots of light to be able to inspect colour and clarity properly!  I hope that Ian will be showing there some of the 1,000 wines he has in the distribution hub up at The Ridge, St Leonard’s.  [Wonder if he needs any little helpers?!  Ian, if you’re reading – I’m game!]

With the net huts in the background, and the largest, beach-launched fishing fleet in Europe bringing in high quality, sustainably caught fish and seafood every day (quotas allowing – see here for a report from my alter ego), this is without doubt a food and wine destination to watch.

So, get on down and explore for yourselves.  And have a glass from Ian, while you’re there!

 

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