On Monday 26th August we’ll be making our very own gin, literally on our own doorstep, right in the heart of Padstow. Between 10am and 5pm you’ll be able to witness the creation of the very first batch. Like all good ideas, it started over a drink…
The lovely Polly is standing in for the equally lovely Kate whilst she’s on maternity leave. When Polly brought her beer loving husband into our little wine shop for an anniversary drink, none of us could have anticipated that it would lead to new product idea.
A dedicated “man of the hops and barley”, I think Vinnie was quietly taking the mickey out of us wine lovers and our sometimes esoteric tasting notes. We had served him a wine that we described as having a delicious saline note to the finish. With a wry grin he remarked that it was “like the flick of a mermaid’s tail”. I knew immediately that we just had to do something with that phrase. Fast forward to our own anniversary and Mary and I visited the Gin School at Salcombe Distillery to make our own personalised gin. There could be only one inspiration for the recipe. What started as a bit of fun took on a more serious note when we tasted the finished product and a new BinTwo product idea was born.
Padstow Mermaid Gin
Sir John Betjeman wrote that the mermaid met a local man at Hawker’s Cove and fell in love. Unable to bear living without him, she tried to lure him beneath the waves. In desperation, he shot her to escape a watery grave. In her death throes, the vengeful mermaid cursed Padstow throwing a handful of sand towards the town. The Doom Bar sandbank grew and over 600 vessels have since been wrecked on her sands.
There are other versions of the legend… none end well for the mermaid.
In making Padstow Mermaid gin, we looked to the legend (and to Vinnie*) for inspiration. At gin school, we developed a fusion of fifteen botanicals offering a fresh citrus kick and a delicious saline finish. Careful use of Cornish seaweed and samphire from Padstow Kitchen Garden bring just a hint of the sea. You might almost say it’s like the flick of a mermaid’s tail.
We like to serve ours with one part gin to two parts tonic poured over plenty of ice with a slice of fresh lemon (or even preserved lemon if you’re feeling frisky), dried sea spaghetti from the Cornish Seaweed Company and a tiny pinch of Cornish Sea Salt.
Keen for our gin to be of Padstow origin but owning no still of our own, we found a Master Distiller who would come to us. The copper still “Prosperity” travels on the back of “Ginny” a 1973 VW camper. Together they are known as “Still on the Move”.
Padstow Mermaid Gin will be hand-crafted in batches of just 140 bottles. Created by us, with an awful lot of help from some friends.
£45.00 (£40.50 to wine club members) BUY NOW
Served as our new house G&T and available to purchase by the bottle from about 5.15pm on 26th August!
* Polly would like it made clear that we are in no way suggesting that Vinnie is “a legend”.
Holm Oak is a labour of love for winemaker Bec Duffy and her husband Tim Duffy, viticulturalist. Since 2013 they have followed their dream of crafting delicious expressions of cool-climate Tasmanian wines and we’ve imported six of them for you to try.
(Read more about our tour of Tasmania…)
With 20 years’ experience gained in Australia and the US, Bec approaches winemaking with precision, continually perfecting her craft to let the wines speak authentically of their place of origin. Tim is a third-generation grape grower and an agronomist with extensive viticultural experience. Their complementary skills drive their vision to produce delicious wines that reflect their home, Tasmania’s pristine Tamar Valley, and their own personalities – honest, down to earth, genuine and authentic.
Holm Oak’s estate vineyards are steeped in sporting history. In the 1930s, Alexander Patent Racquet Co. selected the site for cultivation of Holm Oak trees, intended for use in the production of tennis racquets. Sadly, the wood from the Holm Oak trees didn’t meet the standards required by the company.
That’s where this story takes a fortuitous turn for the Tasmanian wine industry; grape vines were planted in the rich and fertile land in 1983, making Holm Oak one of the older vineyards in Tasmania. Using the original Pinot Noir and Cabernet plantings, they now also cultivate Arneis, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Holm Oak’s premium estate-grown Pinot Noir, ‘The Wizard’ was inspired by the site’s tennis heritage. Sourced from six specific rows of the vineyard, it was named after the famous tennis racquet of the same name. Produced by Alexander Patent Racquet Co, it was used by Australia’s Jack Crawford when he won Wimbledon in 1933.
The savoury and textural characters of this Arneis make it a great match for an Antipasto platter.
The fruit for this wine was harvested when the fruit was showing classic honeysuckle and grapefruit characters. The fruit was pressed and allowed to settle for 18 hours before being transferred to a Numblot concrete egg (25%) and stainless steel. The wine underwent natural fermentation. Following fermentation, the wine was aged on yeast lees for 5 months prior to bottling..
This is a lovely classic style of Arneis. It has vibrant honeysuckle, lychee and grapefruit characters on both the nose and palate. The partial fermentation and maturation in the concrete egg adds texture and complexity. The palate has delicious flinty, slatey acidity and great concentration.
£17.00 or just £15.30 to wine club members.
The rich lusciousness of this Chardonnay matches really well with full flavoured pork, and there is enough acidity in the wine to cleans the palate after eating that delicious crackling!
The fruit was harvested at 125 abv to retain high natural acidity, while the fruit was showing strong citrus and grapefruit characters, as well as some floral notes. The fruit was pressed to tank and allowed to settle for 24 hours and then racked to barrel (20% new French oak and 80% 1-4 year old). The wine underwent 100% natural fermentation, and 20% malolactic fermentation. The wine was matured in oak for 10 months prior to bottling.
This is a refined and elegant cool climate Chardonnay. The nose displays aromas of citrus fruit, apricot kernel and white peach with spicy integrated oak, whilst the palate is fine and minerally.
£21.00 or just £21.50 to wine club members.
The richness and texture of crayfish lobster requires a wine with depth and complexity. ‘The Wizard’ Chardonnay is a perfect match as it has the body, weight and palate presence to bring out the best in this crustacean.
‘The Wizard’ Chardonnay is a blend of only the five best barrels of Chardonnay from the 2017 vintage. The fruit for this wine was whole bunch pressed and then transferred to barrel for full wild fermentation. 80% of the wine underwent malolactic fermentation and 80% was matured in new French oak. A mix of coopers is used to ensure we get great complexity without overt oak characters. The wine was lees stirred monthly for 12 months prior to being bottled in May 2018.
This is a refined and elegant Chardonnay. Full barrel fermentation with 80% new oak and 100% wild fermentation has resulted in a wine with great complexity and style. The nose displays aromas of citrus fruit, apricot kernel, and white peach with spicy integrated oak, whilst the palate is fine and minerally.
£39.50 or just £35.55 to wine club members.
The Protege Pinot has lovely fresh fruit aromas and juicy acidity. It is a lighter style of Pinot, but has enough intensity to match well with the smoked salmon. The acidity in the wine balances well with the oiliness of the fish.
This Pinot made to be a lighter more fruit driven style of Pinot. To achieve this the fruit was picked at moderate sugar levels when the fruit was displaying lovely fresh strawberry and cherry characters. The fruit was then de-stemmed and fermented on skins for 10 days. Specific yeasts which are known to enhance fruit aromatics are used to conduct the ferment. Following fermentation the wine was matured in tank prior to being bottled.
This fresh, lively and aromatic Pinot shows lovely lifted strawberry and spice characters on the nose. These aromatics carry through to the palate which has fine, soft tannin, lovely bright fruit and juicy acidity. This is a gorgeously light Tasmanian Pinot Noir which is perfect drinking at any time.
£17.00 or just £15.30 to wine club members.
The earthy, spicy nature of our Pinot Noir coupled with the dark cherry fruit characters match perfectly with game meats and Rannoch Farm quail is a delicious Tasmanian product.
Several clones of Pinot Noir from many blocks on our Estate vineyard were picked over a three-week period. All batches were destemmed and were wild fermented in small open top fermenters. Ferments were hand plunged up to 4 times a day and then pressed to oak upon dryness. The wine underwent MLF in barrel and was then racked back to barrel for further maturation. 25% new French oak was used (the remainder 1 – 4 year old barrels) and the wine was matured in these barrels for 10 months.
2017 was a long, cool year. Whilst yields were relatively high, berry size was small. This resulted in well balanced Pinot with lovely aromatics, bright fruit and fine tannin structure. The 2017 Pinot has some beautiful spice, strawberry and cherry characters on the nose. The palate has fantastic fruit intensity, vibrant acidity and fine silky tannins.
£21.00 or just £18.90 to wine club members
The lighter tannin structure and the earthy, spicy characters in The Wizard Pinot Noir make it a great match for the rich gamey flavours of venison.
Although Holm Oak take a pretty natural approach with all of their wines, the approach to making this wine was for minimal intervention. This wine is slowly evolving to include more of the new clones of Pinot that we have planted over the past 10 years. In particular, the MV6 and 115 add structure and elegance respectively to our older D5V12 clone which still makes up the base of this wine. 30% whole bunches were included in the ferments which were done in small open top fermenters. The ferments were allowed to start naturally and were then hand plunged up to 5 times a day. The wine was then basket pressed directly to barrel. Through barrel selection tasting Holm Oak ensure they select only the best barrels to make the finished Wizard. In January of 2018 20 barrels (60% new oak, 40% 1 year old) were chosen for this wine. The wine stayed in oak for a further 4 months and was bottled in May 2018.
This is a beautiful, more structured style of Pinot noir. The complex and fragrant nose shows dark cherry and plum fruit characters, with some attractive spice and earthy characters. The palate is firm and savoury as a result of the whole bunch fermentation and new oak, but has lovely dark fruit characters which will continue to open up over time.
£39.50 or just £35.55 to wine club members
If you’re not sure what to expect from Tasmanian wine then you’re in good company. In February this year Kate and I visited this little known winemaking region with a vague expectation that the wines we’d find would be different from those we’d just discovered in McLaren Vale. But we expected that they’d be essentially Australian in character – a variation on a theme. What we found were wines that give the best of Burgundy and Champagne a good run for their money…
Tasmania is a collection of over 300 islands just 150 miles to the South of mainland Australia. But in terms of climate and culture it’s a world apart. The main island is the 26th largest in the world and, at nearly 26,000 square miles, is roughly three times the size of Wales. With just 550,000 inhabitants it is remarkably sparsely populated with over 40% of the landmass given over to nature reserves. Most of those can only be accessed by strapping on your walking boots, channeling your inner Bear Grylls, and settling down to a two day trek into the wilderness.
We found a wild and rugged landscape and a friendly population who exhibited a sense of pride in doing things on “Tassie time” (redefining your understanding of “laid back”) and a good line in laconic humour. In fact one of my favourite characters from the trip helped me boil down my entire business strategy into one line:
“Don’t do business with dickheads and try not to be a dickhead yourself”
Thank you Jeremy Dindeen of Josef Chromy. Winemaker extraordinaire, philosopher and no nonsense business strategy guru.
In sharp contrast to the McLaren Vale leg of our trip, we found a landscape dominated by dolerite-capped mountains that shelter the state’s wine regions from high winds and rainfall. On the lower slopes, the vineyard soils are formed from ancient sandstones and mudstones and also from more recent river sediments and igneous rocks of volcanic origin. Tasmania apparently has the cleanest air on the planet and I can readily believe it (a consequence of their tiny population and use of hydro-electricity).
Tasmania has a moderate maritime climate, cooled by prevailing westerly winds off the Southern Ocean, providing conditions free of extremes in temperature. Think in terms of mild spring and summer temperatures, with warm autumn days and cool nights. They have no shortage of rain either but relatively little falls on the vineyards. If you’re thinking that sounds reminiscent of New Zealand then take a bow as Tasmania is on roughly the same line of latitude.
All this means that they can grow a wide variety of cool climate grapes that are sheltered from the extremes of climate seen elsewhere in Australia. Which means that if you want to look for comparisons you really need to look to New Zealand or, in our view, Burgundy and even Champagne. Because while we enjoyed the breadth of offering in Tasmania, where they consistently excelled was in the production of knock-out chardonnays, pinot noirs and traditional method sparkling wines.
You might reasonably be asking why, if the wines are as good as I say they are, you haven’t seen or heard more about them – let alone tasted them. That was a question I asked myself as, one day into of our five day tour, I ran out of superlatives to include in my notes. How had I missed these wines? Wines that have the consistency you’d expect from new world wines but the character you’d expect from Burgundy… and at keen prices for the quality too! The clue came from how relaxed the winemakers were about selling to us. In fact we often found wines that we loved only to be told that none was available to export.
And there’s the answer. Of the wine made in Tasmania 50% is consumed right there on the island and 45% makes it no further than mainland Australia. Only 5% goes to export worldwide meaning that of the 7.5 million bottles produced per year only 375,000 make it to export. Compare that to Burgundy’s average annual production of 200 million bottles (of which about 15 million are consumed in the U.K.) and you start to get a sense for how exclusive and elusive Tasmanian wine is.
And you don’t need to take my word for it. If you’d prefer to read what the grown ups have to say about the cracking wines of Tasmania, then Jancis Robinson (Master of Wine) wrote about the “island of opportunity” in 2012 and Fionna Beckett, our favourite food and wine matching guru, wrote that “Tasmania has more in common with Burgundy than Barossa”
Now I’ve whetted your appetite I guess it’s a good time to tell you that, in partnership with friends we made on the trip, we’ve imported some of the stand out wines from our tour of Tassie. Wines made by husband and wife team, Tim and Bec Duffy of Holm Oak; he tends the vines, she makes the wines. After 20 year’s experience respectively as a viticulturalist and winemaker, they met through on line dating looking for a winemaking partner as well as a life partner. We’re glad they found one another as they’ve been making outstanding wine together since 2013.
After a painfully long boat trip, these cracking Burgundy challengers are on our shelves now and will shortly be available by the glass as part of an unapologetic Aussie takeover of the BinTwo summer terrace menu. Enjoy!
Read more about our Tasmanian wines here…