Sal's Diary/ The Great Bath Feast

Sal’s Diary: Novel Wines Turns One!

Well, the Great Bath Feast is over for another year, which means I have just under 12 months to wait until the next one, and if Christmas wasn’t in the way I’m not sure I could cope. We definitely made the most of this year’s celebrations though – click to read my full series of mini reviews celebrating my favourite part of the Feast, the Ten Second Guide to the Tenner Treat. Of course, the feast wasn’t just about stuffing our faces as much as possible – we also made time to drink some wine as well…

Novel Wines is a Bath-based business that highlights brilliant, interesting wines from all over the world, swapping the usual French or Californian favourites for discoveries from places like Japan, India, Eastern Europe and, increasingly, the UK.  Full disclosure: I do work with Novel Wines, developing recipes to accompany different bottles (you can check out some of my creations on their website) but as always, I only work with companies whose products I genuinely love. I’ve really come to appreciate Novel Wines for the originality of their offering, and for challenging me as a foodie! So when founders Ben (pictured above) & Gyorgy hosted a huge tasting party to celebrate their first year in business, with over 150 wines to try, it was an invitation I couldn’t refuse.

Wonderful wines as far as the eye can see

The wines were arranged by country, so we started by tasting some gorgeous white and sparkling wines from all over England and Wales. Once upon a time, wines from the UK might have been seen as a bit of joke, but they’re really on the rise at now, with lots of extremely promising vineyards getting the world to take notice. I’ve read that this might be partly due to global warming, changing the temperature just enough to put the south of England on a par with the north of France, which could explain why wines from Cornwall, Sussex, Dorset and of course Somerset are among the 34 British wines on the Novel Wines list. I particularly love Dorset’s Furleigh Estate (winners of multiple international awards, I’ll have you know) and have now got my eye on A’Beckett’s from Devizes as well. If you’re inclined to dismiss English wine, then you seriously need to check out the Novel Wines selection – you can order online here.

Another favourite, from Wales – Ancre Hill Estate Vintage Rosé Brut, 2010

From the UK we moved into Hungary and then the Mediterranean – we had some especially nice whites in Croatia, and then really got into the reds in Turkey. Kayra Wines produces some gorgeous red, with my particular favourite being a limited edition tipple full of juicy red cherries. To keep us going along the way, we had some scrumptious nibbles from Plenty, who make gorgeous tapas inspired by cuisines from all over the world – we tried them all but a silky mushroom tapenade was my favourite. By the time we got to Asia (via Central-Eastern Europe) we were flagging, but had to make space for the only Japanese wine on the list, an incredibly rare and special thing – the Grace Koshu Kayagatake 2016 is fresh, clean and mineral, and one taste tells you it’s something different.

Fabulous fresh tapas from Plenty

We finished in the Americas – all right, I know I said there weren’t any of the usual clichés on the list, but I don’t apply that to the Californian section since it was devoted not to chardonnay but to port. Quady’s Batch 88 is like a Christmas pudding with chocolate and caramel, utterly luxurious and definitely on my Christmas list. I have to admit that there was still South Africa to come after the Americas but at this point, we were sloshing as we walked, and sloped off to the Clifton Sausage Company for bangers and mash – surely the perfect thing to soak up all that grape juice.

Whether you’re new to wine-drinking, set in your ways or a foodie looking for fresh discoveries, I think Novel Wines is a fantastic company to explore – check out their website, or if you’re lucky enough to live in the south west, book yourself in for a tasting. Cheers Ben & Gyorgy, and here’s to another year of success!

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