During the Covid-19 “lockdown”, when I was trying to put together a gift hamper, it struck me that a jar of Fortnum and Mason’s marmalade and a tin of their tea would perfectly complete my basket of goodies. In the “B.C. Era” – that’s Before Covid – I’d pass through Heathrow’s Terminal Five about once a month and often stop by Fortnum’s outpost at the airport to pick up a few gifts. The pandemic had curtailed that opportunity, sadly.
With no trip to London on the horizon, I searched for Fortnum’s website and discovered the items I wanted were readily available to buy online. Despite having only a few items on my shopping list, I whiled away a considerable amount of time examining all of the categories. I gravitated to the drinks “department” and saw a Bacchus wine on display.
Once again, I must offer my gratitude to Mr Gordon Ramsay* – on this occasion for introducing me to the Bacchus grape variety. Having arrived at Heathrow far too early for my flight a few years ago, I passed the time in Chef Ramsay’s Terminal Five restaurant, Plane Food. I ordered a main course of bream. “The Bacchus” came the reply when I asked the waiter which wine might best match the fish. The wine/food match was spot on and I was truly smitten with the wine!
When the opportunity arose to try a Bacchus from another winemaker, via Fortnum’s website, I could not let it pass me by. A further intriguing discovery clinched the deal. Reading the ‘product information’, I learned that the wine had been produced in the North East of England. Further investigation revealed that it had been made by Laneberg Wine based in Gateshead. This wine had been produced six miles from my home! For someone living in an urban area and also in the northerly half of Great Britain, this news was wholly unexpected.
With a little further research, I learned that Laneberg Wine is produced by Elise Lane at her family run firm which seeks out the highest quality grapes from across England.
Soon, my bottles of Bacchus 2019 were making a return journey to the North East of England and they arrived very well packaged and protected.
The Bacchus 2019:
When I opened a bottle for the first time, I was struck by the intensity and the freshness of the elderflower aroma. The fragrance was powerful and transported me in an instant to a summery English countryside scene. Pouring the wine and swirling it in the glass released not only the elderflower perfume but added scents of grass and sharper fruit – apple and a hint of citrus. Those scents were reflected in the wine’s flavour but there was an additional herbal layer followed by a lingering, spicy aftertaste. The wine was as refreshing and beautifully floral as I hoped but rather more complex than I’d expected.
A few weeks ago, I decided to chill one of the bottles ready for the upcoming weekend as I thought the food I’d planned would match it perfectly.
Beginning the weekend with grilled sea bream fillet accompanied by pesto mashed potato and fine green beans, this wine worked every bit as well as my experience in that first encounter at Heathrow.
The next day, asparagus risotto was on my home menu. With English asparagus at its peak, the risotto was superb and the pairing with the Bacchus was just sublime. ( I feel compelled to explain: my Kenwood K Cooker tackled the preparation and cooking of the risotto for me. Without this piece of equipment, risotto would not be one of my culinary strong points!)
Finally, grilled salmon with steamed, fresh green vegetables was another very good match for this wine.
There is so much more which could be written about this wine and the Bacchus grape variety but I’m not an expert in viticulture or wine tasting, merely an enthusiastic consumer!
There is also a great deal more I could write about the Laneberg winery but I’m holding back on that right now. I very much look forward to visiting the winery for a tour and tasting experience when it is possible to do so and that will be a far more appropriate time to put pen to paper once again.
You can buy Laneberg’s wines directly from their website. The wines are also available from several retailers and they are served in a list of restaurants. I’m not going to attempt to list those outlets here, far better to go straight to the website to get up to date information:
* PS: Just in case you are wondering about the previous occasion when Mr Ramsay provided me with much appreciated information – pop over to capitallettersdotblogwordpress.com where you’ll find a review of “La Garrigue”, an Edinburgh-based French bistro!
28 July 2021
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, exterior: ID 25750393 © Jan Kranendonk | Dreamstime.com
Laneberg Winery; Bacchus 2019 label: Amazilia Peacock