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The Charles Palmer tasting at Siam2Thai, George Street, Hastings

The Charles Palmer tasting at Siam2Thai, George Street, Hastings

For a very long while now I have meant to write a little homage about Chris and Waew’s Siam2Thai Restaurant on George Street in the Old Town, Hastings: http://www.siam2thairestaurant.co.uk

Not only are these two a fabulously hospitable and interesting couple, doing a roaring trade in their Kong River cuisine, but they are interested in wine, and matching it to their food.

I think I have heard it said that they have the best wine list of any of the restaurants in Hastings, and I can well-believe it – certainly in terms of range.

A few months ago we ate there and tried a Monsoon Valley Chenin Blanc from Thailand, which was off-dry and very acceptable.

The Monsoon River Chenin Blanc

The Monsoon River Chenin Blanc

Last week we returned for their Charles Palmer tasting event – another Sussex Sparkling which has burst onto the international wine scene with acclaim (for its 2009 vintage) at the 2014 Sommelier Awards; and if I heard correctly, at the Decanter Awards and the International Wine Challenge too.

The Palmer vineyard is  just on the right hand side of the A259 as, coming from Hastings, you start to go down the dip, before climbing the approach to Winchelsea.  The family are farmers by trade and thought they’d just have a go at growing grapes…  What about that for a laid back approach to brilliance?

I might say that we had not expected to be among the glitterati of the Hastings wine scene – the very lovely owners of Penbuckles Delicatessen on the High Street were there; one half of the Essential Wine School; and apologies were given from Phoenix & Plum and Sniff & Spit.  [By George Street, we’ve made it!]

Mason Palmer (who might also be Charles Palmer as well; it is a mystery I have not yet solved) gave the talk on the 2009 and 2010 vintages (as well as a recently thrown together still rosé).  These were utterly terrific wines with fantastic elegance and poise, but as you might expect with low-yield premium sparkling wines, house-remortgage-worthy.

The 2009 was bready but breezy, with body and bling.  The 2010 was lighter and fresher with a more floral (honeysuckle?) nose, delightful small bubbles and (paradoxically) a better match for the food in our opinion.  Perhaps it had that Zing to match Waew’s Kong Toasts…

The rosé was pale – like an Anjou – but whilst it had English terroir bite, it was very soft in the mouth; and full from those Pinot Noir grapes.  The skins had been left lying louchely for a mere 12 hours.  And we all thought that the wine  would grow fatter and brighter in bottle over the coming year.  Perhaps there is a still red on the cards in the future?

All in all, this was a fantastic evening spent with some lovely people.

And if there is another wino event there soon, I’ll race you for tickets.

 

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Penbuckle's in Hastings Old Town has a West and an East Sussex white sparkling to try

I was unusually organised and had even sorted out a discount for readers of the Resident Wine Guru column before I found out from the paper that their last edition of the year ran on the 15th!

Aaaaaaaaaaagh.

But who knows, if you quote the article-that-might-have-been to Jackie at Penbuckle’s she might give you the quid off anyway.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

So this is the last column before Christmas, and with festive fun in the air it’s only right and proper that we should talk about bubbles.

I know that given the economic state we’re in, it’s no mean feat getting the Christmas budget to balance; and supermarkets will have deals on that are not to be sniffed at. But I will be doing my best to support our independent traders where I can.

And we can all do that with confidence when choosing our Christmas bubbly, because we have award-winning sparkling wines being produced right here in Sussex.

I was in Penbuckles – the cheese shop on the High Street in Hastings Old Town – at the weekend, and they have some lovely local wines on offer.

There’s a West Sussex and an East Sussex white sparkling to try – the Bolney Bubbly 2009 (a blend of Muller-Thurgau and Chardonnay grapes; small bubbles, lots of green apple), and the Carr Taylor Brut, made just up the road in Westfield, and regularly on show at events such as the Seafood & Wine Festival.

In fact, as a result of a bit of negotiation between the retailer, the vineyard and myself, I am glad to announce that if you take your copy of The Resident into Penbuckles, then a pound discount on the Carr Taylor Brut will be yours – making it an easy rival for any of the lesser-known Champagnes you can buy for £15.95!

All that remains to be said is that I hope you have a Happy Christmas and peaceful 2012, and remember, if you’re stuck for a gift for a loved one who likes a glass or two but who’s tricky to buy for, the newly launched (Hastings-based) Essential Wine School does gift vouchers for their courses. Why not check them out at www.essentialwineschool.com

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