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May 3, 2017

The Ultimate Wedding Wine Guide

The Ultimate Wedding Wine Guide


Wedding season is upon us and with less than a month until I get married, I have put together my Ultimate Wedding Wine Guide with tops tips on choosing the right wine for you, how much you will need and some great ideas for all budgets. As with all weddings, planning and preparation is key and so my wine order has been sorted for a while now. If you need any help, please see my guide below or give me a call in the office to discuss.


Drinks on arrival…
Many people like to serve something sparkling for their drinks reception. Choose something that you enjoy. Whether you want to serve Champagne or go for a sparkling alternative such as Prosecco or Cava, the choice is yours. Many opt for sparkling cocktails for their drinks receptions such as Bucks Fizz or Bellini’s, these are better served with sparkling wine rather than Champagne as they are a touch sweeter and mix better with the fruit juice.


Food for thought…
Whether you are choosing your food, then your wine or your wine then your food, the two go hand in hand and should work together. Take into consideration the main flavours of both the food and the wine and make sure the flavours complement each other. If you are having a lighter meal, chicken for example, pick a lighter red, that won’t drown out the delicate flavours. Going for a red meat such as beef? Opt for a medium to full bodied red (depending on your preferred taste) that will stand up to the richness meat. At the end of the day, pick something that you and your significant other enjoy, it could be the best pairing in the world however, if you aren’t keen on the wine you won’t enjoy it!


A crowd pleaser…
Another thing I would suggest is that you choose wine that is fairly middle of the road, not in terms of quality (that should always be great) but in terms of variety. Don’t go too off the wall, you may love Gewürztraminer, however it is quite a distinct grape variety that may not be suited to the majority of palates.


How much?
Half a bottle per head usually does the trick, especially as there will be drivers and non-drinkers however it really does depend on your budget or even how generous you’d like to be. Decide on your budget and stick to it, believe me it’s so easy to get carried away with it all and before you know it you are well over what you had planned.


To The Happy Couple…
Bubbles are a must when it comes to the toasts. You only need a glass per person which can be a full glass or 2/3s full, this will be enough. As discussed earlier, if your budget won’t stretch to serving Champagne, Sparkling wine is great alternative.


wedding wine



We all know weddings take a vast amount of planning and when it comes to choosing your wine, it should be no different. Don’t leave it until last minute. Plan in advance, speak to your local wine merchant for some help and advice. Get them to help you choose, try a selection of wines and if you have enough time, why not attend a local wine tasting. This is a great opportunity to try a selection of wines and discover what will work best for you and your wedding.


Top Serving Hints for Wedding Wines… A few things to consider… If you are getting married in the summer, make sure your whites are well chilled, stick them in the fridge as early as possible to make sure they are cold enough, place in ice buckets/coolers on the tables to ensure they remain chilled once served. It might be worth chilling down your reds too, lighter reds are great served chilled especially on a hot summer’s day. For winter weddings, it is the red wine that you need to make sure is warm enough. There’s nothing worse than pouring a glass of freezing cold red wine. It is best to bring the wine to room temperature at least 24 hours before drinking, you can move it into the house, don’t leave it in the garage!


Think about all the other things that you may need when it comes to wine, glasses, ice buckets etc. Check whether your venue will provide these, if not, your local wine merchant may be able to help. At Bon Coeur, we offer free glass hire when you buy your wine with us, wine for larger orders is also available on sale or return.


This Ultimate Wedding Wine Guide can also be used to help you plan wine for events, dinners and other special occasions, please do give me a call in the office or email me and I would love to help you select your wines for your special event.


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February 23, 2017

Venison and Wine, art not science…

Venison dish from the Devonshire Arms

Venison dish from the Devonshire Arms


During the stalking season it’s a question I often get asked “What’s a great wine pairing with venison?” A simple question you may think? However, it’s a question that always throws up more than one straight answer. Generally it depends on how long it has been hung and also the time of year. Venison is a true delight, rich, lean and succulent; it is a sincere, versatile meat. Venison just cries out for red wine; alternatively made into mini scotch eggs for that perfect shoot elevens’ with a shot of your favourite sharpener always hits the spot. For me venison really comes into its own in the colder winter months, accompanied by rich, sweet blackberry sauce, served with some cavalo nero and a little roasted squash, I’ll be round for dinner.


To find your perfect pairing think of the weight of the dish and dominant flavours. Serving venison, you will generally find most rich full-bodied, opulent wines would be up for the wine crown. However, I prefer to choose my match by the wine’s flavour signatures and its structure. Key flavours that really sing with venison, are wild blackberries, ripe hedgerow fruit, black cherries; think rich earthy notes with highlights of violets, sealed in a luscious velvety texture with spectacular enduring length.


Once when discussing food and wine matching a chef friend likened wine to that of seasoning a dish. Whilst I agreed with him (he was cooking me dinner!) I did however think, it was a good place to start. So whilst there is no single perfect wine, this wine pairing act really is an art not a science, I have chosen my favourite wines to go with venison, at varying price levels; as what’s one person’s everyday wine is another’s fine wine. If you really can’t decide then why not enjoy a couple of different bottles with friends, you will not be surprised that the wine crown may have to be shared.




Magnifico Rosso Fuoco 2010
Magnifico Rosso is made from Primitivo grapes from the little town of Manduria in Puglia, Italy. The vineyards are south-facing and enjoy a very hot, Mediterranean climate. The Primitivo grapes are grown on bush vines, ripen early and are handpicked in early September. The wine is aged for at least 24 months with 12 months in American oak barrels. Forward, ripe nose with rich black fruits and a whiff of game. Gorgeous, velvety texture, slightly inky in style with savoury black cherries, damsons and currants fused with subtle oak. Juicy, vibrant and luscious on the mid-palate and a long satisfying and moreish finish.




Fugue de Nenin, Pomerol 2007
This is the second wine of Château Nenin, owned by the Delon family who also own the renowned wine properties of Château Leovilles Lascases and Château Potensac in Bordeaux. It is often hard to find drinking Pomerol these days that doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg. Now coming into its prime drinking time this wine offers mature black cherries and plums with hints of vegetable and cedar, is medium bodied on the palate with soft luscious merlot fruit, more expressive plums, bilberries balanced with lovely freshness and a touch of cedar wood.




Crozes Hermitage ‘Les Saviaux’ Yann Chave 2012
Yann Chave produces gloriously aromatic Syrah and is one of today’s most exciting wine producers in Northern Rhone, this Crozes Hermitage is one of the very best examples of the appellation. It combines ripe, spicy aromas with vivid fruit. Seductive nose of black raspberries with hedgerow berries and integrated spice. Impressive structure and texture, mineralic style with hints of dark chocolate, plums and sloe. Well fused with good balance, juicy acidity and a long lingering, spicy finish. Bravo.


The best combination for me is actually a marriage of flavours both in the glass and on the plate…. Another phrase that is often used in food and wine pairing is measure ‘weight with weight’. Therefore if the venison is well hung it will demand a heavier, more full-bodied wine. The common theme in the wines I have chosen is they have mainly black fruits, fresh acidity and vibrancy. This combination helps lift the venison making almost lighter on the palate, whilst in return the proteins in the venison (which venison is high in) fuse with the tannins in the wine and soften them. Like all good marriages it needs to work both ways.


This article can be found in February’s edition of Fieldsports magazine. If you would like any help or ideas when it comes to food and wine pairing, please call us in the office or email and we’d be happy to help make some suggestions. Found a great pairing? Share it on social media and let us know.


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February 8, 2017

The Mighty Mendoza Malbec

Kaiken vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina


There is no denying that Malbec is one of the most popular grape varieties and it comes as no surprise that Argentinian Malbec is often on our customer’s wish list when popping into Cellar 21. So, why is it so popular and what’s the story behind it?


Malbec was initially planted in Bordeaux and also had a home in the Cahors region of France. Today, it is synonymous with Argentina, in particular the world renowned Mendoza wine. Malbec was first planted in Mendoza in the mid-19th century when vine cuttings were brought across from France. The vines began to thrive and the Argentinian Malbec following began.


Mendoza has the highest plantings of Malbec in Argentina, with many vines planted at over 1000m, some of the highest altitudes in the world. Usually, grapes are unable to ripen above this height as the temperatures are too low, however, Malbec flourishes at higher altitudes and in Mendoza the higher altitudes help reduce humidity and the thin air helps the sunlight penetrate and ripen the grapes.


Mendoza is vast on European scale, in fact it is just under the size of England, therefore it is no surprise that the soil types and terroir vary throughout the region, however, the majority of soils are alluvial due to the water runoff from the Andes which helps irrigate the soils.


Argentinian Malbec is renowned for its dark fruit characters – blackberry, plum and black cherry. Subtle spice, chocolate, leather and violets are also typical. They are usually full bodied with medium-high tannins. Malbec is now Mendoza’s most widely planted grape variety and we can see why, when it suits the terroir so well and produces such incredible wines.


As with every wine, we love a food pairing. When it comes to the ‘Mighty Mendoza Malbec’ there is not greater pairing than with a juicy steak. Malbec calls out for lean meaty dishes, think beef and lamb. Earthy flavours also pair wonderfully well with Malbec, try with mushrooms and roasted vegetables. I’m thinking a medium rare sirloin steak with all the trimmings alongside some roasted root vegetables… delicious!


Mightly Mendoza Malbec


We stock some fabulous Mendoza Malbecs including:

Kaiken Reserva Malbec 2015
Office favourite, great value for money and really packs a punch.


Aruma Malbec 2014
Chateau Lafite’s Argentinian property. Everything you’d expect from an Argentinian Malbec and more, impressive nose of juicy red and black berry fruits with a touch of chocolate and game.


Amancaya Malbec/Cabernet 2013
Flagship wine from Bodegas Caro. This Malbec blend is charming with a luscious velvety texture.


Caro, Bodegas Caro 2012
James Suckling awarded this wine 98 points and claims, “The best wine ever from the Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena winery.” Praise indeed!


All our Mendoza Malbec’s can be found on our website. If you need any help please do let me know, call me in the office on 01325 776446 or email


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January 24, 2017

Celebrate Burn’s Night in Style

Haggis, neeps and tatties



With Burns night just around the corner, what better way to honour the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, than by raising a wee dram to him? Normally held on near or the date of his birthday, January 25th, celebrations can vary from small informal gatherings with friends to lavish formal dinners.


The first act of the evening is the “Piping in of the guests”. When guests arrive, traditional Scottish music is played whether it be by real bagpipes or not, it marks the opening of the celebration. Shortly after comes the “Chairman’s welcome”. This is an opportunity for the host to warmly welcome everyone and to introduce each other and the evening’s entertainment or act. With introductions complete, the host will read the brief but vital prayer; “The Selkirk Grace” in anticipation of the forthcoming meal…


“Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.”


With the arrival of main event, it is time for the “Piping of the Haggis”. A procession from kitchen to table of the haggis accompanied by the chef, piper and speaker.  The scene is now set and with everything in place, now is the time to “address the Haggis”. The speaker recites the poem ‘to a Haggis’ in which Burns celebrates his appreciation of the dish, whilst carving it with a ceremonial knife. Together everyone raises a glass and toasts ‘a Haggis!’ The haggis is normally served along classic vegetables such as potatoes and turnips (tatties & neeps), all washed down with a glass of Scotch whisky.


Our whiskies:
Here at Bon Coeur Fine Wines we have some of the finest Scottish whiskies available which would be perfect for celebrating Burn’s night.


Glenfarclas 10 year old whisky


Owned and managed by the Glenfarclas family in Speyside since 1865, the company is now in the hands of fifth and sixth generations. They are committed to creating the finest Single Highland Malt Scotch whisky available.
This Speyside 10 year old is an exquisite example of a delicate and malty whisky with a slightly spicy and nutty finish. Always impeccably made, a true classic.


Kilchoman Whisky

Credit: PhilYeomans/BNPS


Created in 2005, Kilchoman is one of the smallest distilleries in the whole of Scotland. Located on a farm on the island of Islay on the west coast of Scotland, it was the first distillery to be built in over 125 years. Albeit new, Kilchoman stick to traditions when it comes to making whisky.


100% Islay is a limited edition whisky where from barley to bottle, all parts of the production come from the island. Lemon and citrus notes give way to a soft peat smoke and fantastically smooth finish.


However, if you’re looking for something a little special, look no further than Loch Gorm. This Islay whisky is named after a famously peaty loch overlooked by the distillery and combines rich sherry fruit and spices with a lingering sweetness. A perfect pairing!


Wine alternatives:
Not a whisky drinker and prefer to have wine with your haggis? Not a problem. Strong, spicy with texture is what you need to look for in your wine so why not try:


Glenelly Glass Chardonnay


Glenelly Glass Collection Chardonnay, South Africa 2013
Complex bouquet of citrus fruit and melon yet beautifully round on the palate.


Joseph Cattin Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Hatschbourg, France 2012
Fancy something a little more exotic? This gewürztraminer should hit the spot with its intriguing aromas of lychee and rose petals with a touch of spice on the finish.


matsu picaro


Matsu El Picaro, Spain 2014
Lush blackberries and raspberries on the nose with ripe but bold tannins. An absolute steal at £7.99!


Wirra Wirra Church Block, Australia 2013
Hints of blackcurrants, cherries and damson with plenty of cinnamon spice, clove and black pepper on the finish.


Whether whisky or wine is your drink of choice, let’s all raise a glass to Robert Burn’s!


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December 15, 2016

Wine for Christmas Celebrations

Wine for Christmas Celebrations


When choosing your Christmas menu, wine should not be overlooked, both the food and wine should be selected with the other in mind, to create the ultimate and most memorable food and wine experience.


Kick off your Christmas Day with a bang… preferably the cork popping on something fizzy. Whether your start with a Buck’s Fizz or you head straight for the Champagne, bubbles are a must. Our new Vilarnau Cava Brut Reserva N.V. is perfect for Christmas, a great alternative to Prosecco and can be enjoyed on its own or used to make Buck’s Fizz. The eye-catching mosaic label is fabulous and it’s certainly on my Christmas wine order!


Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava


Champagne wise, Grand Marques are great, however, our award winning house Champagne Jacques Boncoeur is delicious and offers excellent value for money. Got a lot of family and friends coming over? Why not get some larger sized bottles, Our Jacques Boncoeur Brut comes in magnums and jeroboams, not only do they look impressive, there will be enough to go round and you don’t have to keep opening bottles (just presents)…


smoked salmon canapes



Whether you are having a starter or canapés and Christmas bites, take some time to think about what wine you will pair with it. Smoked salmon is a particularly popular starter/canapé for Christmas, and one of the best wine pairings is Chablis. Classic, crisp with good acidity, the Chablis cuts through the oiliness of the fish and offers a perfect pairing. Try our Chablis Seguinot Bordet 2014.


Prawns and shellfish – Try a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc if the shellfish is dressed with lemon, the citrus flavours in the wine will stand up to the acidity of the lemon and complement it really well. Try our Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2015.


Asparagus – Head to the Loire Valley when pairing asparagus. A delicious Sancerre or Pouilly Fume will do just the trick. Our Sancerre, Langlois Chateau 2015 is stunning and offers great value for money.


Cured meats – A fuller bodied white or a light-medium bodied red will work well with cured meats. Try a Crianza Rioja for a Spanish, tapas vibe. Our Cune Crianza Rioja 2012 is one of our top selling Rioja’s and also comes in magnums.


Christmas Dinner


Moving on to main course, roast turkey and all the trimmings is the signature dish for Christmas. Match the weight of the meat to the wine, turkey is medium in weight and so a full bodied white or medium bodied red would be the best pairing. A rich Viognier or Chardonnay would be great for white. If you are more of a red wine drinker, try a red with subtle tannins such as a Pinot Noir, or perhaps turn to Beaujolais for a Gamay.


Le Versant Viognier 2015, delicious ripe apricots, juicy peaches and tropical flavours, uplifting citrus acidity and a long, lingering finish, perfect to serve with roast turkey.


Cotes De Brouilly, Vieille Vignes Potel Aviron 2014, has a generous nose of ripe summer berries and cherry fruit. Ripe, vibrant and luscious red berry fruit that flows onto a lingering blackcurrant finish, the perfect wine to pair with turkey.


As Christmas is a time for coming together and sharing, why not open something special that perhaps you wouldn’t usually share!  Try a 1er Cru Burgundy – red or white will both pair very well with turkey.


Meursault 1er Cru Blagny Gerard Thomas 2014


Going for goose? Goose is a little fattier than turkey and so it requires a fuller bodied, richer, more buttery wine to complement it. Splashing out? A Meursault or a Puligny Montrachet would be ideal with goose. Try our Meursault 1er Cru `Blagny` Gerard Thomas 2014 or Puligny-Montrachet “Les Reucheaux” Yves Boyer Martenot 2013.


Roast beef calls out for red wine and gives you the chance to choose something fuller bodied. Clarets are great with beef, the salt from the beef softens the tannins of the wine. Chateau Gloria, St Julien 2007 is drinking very well now and a great choice if you are wanting to spend a little more on your Christmas wine. Our Los Vascos Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 is a great choice to pair with beef too, or why not try a smooth, rich Malbec. Aruma Malbec 2013 is a personal favourite.


Christmas Pudding



In our household, dessert, is always Christmas pudding. If you are having the same, a rich, full bodied sweet wine is a must. Our Black Noble, De Bortoli 10 Year Old is full of luxurious dried fruit flavours with rich caramel, toffee and coffee notes. A match made in heaven!


Cheese is always very popular at Christmas, and Port is the obvious choice. Whether you choose a Late Bottled Vintage or go for a vintage Port, it’s a great pairing all round. Have a read of my Find Your Passion for Port Blog for more information on the different kinds of Port and what they pair best with. If you’ve got blue cheese on your cheese board, try a Sauternes, the sweetness of the wine complements the saltiness of the cheese. Chateau Petit Vedrines 2011 is a great choice and it also comes in halves which is perfect for a little taster after your big meal.


I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I hope you put together some fantastic food and wine pairings over the holidays. If you need any more help or advice, please do send me an email or call me in the office on 01325 776446, I’d be happy to help.


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November 22, 2016

Celebrate Great British Game Week

Great British Game Week


It’s Great British Game Week and we are delighted to be celebrating with some delicious game and wine pairings.


There is plenty of game to choose from, whether you go for game birds such as grouse, pheasant and partridge or opt for venison, wild boar or rabbit, there is so much choice and some fantastic wine pairings are waiting to be discovered.


When choosing your wine, think about the richness of the meat and how long it’s been hung for, the longer it’s been hung the richer, stronger the meat becomes.


TOP TIP: Think about the temperature outside, that becomes an important factor. Game hung in August is likely to mature quicker due to warmer temperatures than game hung now (November/December) as the temperature is much cooler and becomes more like a fridge so will be fine hung for 2/3 days. Try using a Gamesafe Game hanging bag to keep flies from getting to your hung game.


Wine pairing rules: There are no set rules when it comes to pairing wine to game, it’s all about choosing wines that you enjoy with meats that you love and vice versa. Some points to consider however are; avoid wines with high tannins, these can be too overpowering when it comes to pairing with game, even the stronger flavoured.


Duck liver, Sauternes and truffle parfait with salad and toasted bread


Try lighter game dishes, especially ones served cold, a game terrine for instance, with a fuller bodied white wine such as a white Burgundy or a Viognier for a great alternative to red.


I have selected some wines to celebrate Great British Game Week. Remember, enjoy it, try something new and do share your exciting discoveries.


Grouse – Don’t overdo it with a high tannin wine, despite it being one of the richer game birds, a high tannin wine will overpower it. Head for Rhone, try a Crozes Hermitage or a Chateauneuf-du-pape.


Pheasant – Try with fuller bodied whites such as Viognier, or light fruity reds, Beaujolais Villages or lighter, fruity Pinot Noir from New Zealand.


Partridge – Great with fuller bodied whites as well as fruity reds, try Rioja, Chianti or a Red Burgundy. Try not to overpower the meat with too heavy wines.


Pigeon – Try with a Rioja or a fuller bodied Claret or perhaps a Lirac from Rhone for a great pairing.


Rabbit – Fairly mild in flavour, try with an Italian Chianti, a light red Burgundy or perhaps go for a white and pair with a Pinot Gris.


Venison – best served with a medium bodied red with subtle tannins. Try with Pinot Noir, such as a red Burgundy with a little age or a Cotes du Rhone or a Burgundy blend from South Africa.


For a little more inspiration, take a look at my Grouse, Glorious Grouse blog with more game and wine pairing ideas. For great game recipes browse the Game To Eat website. I hope you have found this inspiring and it’s given you lots of pairing ideas. Do let me know how you get on and of any delicious pairings you discover, tweet us @BonCoeurWine


Need some help? Call me in the office on 01325 776446 or email


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