The Wine of My Dreams

Running your own restaurant is a dream for many people and a job which I am fortunate to have and to love. However, having run the restaurant for 9 years, there was one thing missin …

This was to find a stunning wine, taste it on the ground it grows on (a Shirley Valentine moment) and import it to serve in the restaurant and tell it’s story. Well, this is it …

Back in June, I persuaded my husband that we needed a holiday and that maybe we could go to France for a week and do some wine tasting. He agreed and in an hour I had booked the flights, car hire and accommodation in SW France.

We flew from Bristol to Toulouse and picked up the hire car (there is a long story there ..) and drove to our bijou gite near Limoux in the Languedoc. It was very hot and we spent a lovely couple of days relaxing, pottering around deserted hilltop towns and eating all our meals outside on the terrace. We were surrounded by vineyards and it was very clear that this was an important wine producing area.

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The owner of the gite, Hal, had told us about several of the vineyards in the area that we should visit and mentioned one which was his favourite. We visited it the next day only to find the shop closed and nobody about. Meanwhile we visited another vineyard close by, which had its own restaurant and with stunning views across to the snow -capped Pyrenees. Coincidentally, I have only recently started buying wine from that place. (gayda.com)

However, on the Monday we set out for Hal’s favourite vineyard, Chateau Guilhem, and we were not to be disappointed. Beautifully kept vines, all organically grown, family run since 1878 and with a chateau – ticking all the boxes! We tasted most of their wines and Tristan spent over 2 hours with us, telling us all about the vines, production, storage and the family.

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What about the wine? I hear you ask. Well, I can only say they are the best wines I have ever tasted (and I have tasted a lot) and that they will shortly be appearing on their own list at Clavelshay Barn to be enjoyed by my lovely customers and friends.

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P.S. Roses are planted at the end of every row of vines as they can obviously show the first signs of any disease which the vines have and so can be quickly identified and treated.

Kubla Beers

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A chance meeting at a business networking event last week led me to Kubla Kaite – a lovely lady who has recently started a business brewing bespoke ales in Somerset.  Talking To Kaite, I soon realised that she shared my beliefs of quality over quantity, and firmly believed in using British ingredients for her beers.

I asked her to bring some samples to me so we could try them – she did, the next day, and we were bowled over by the beers. I am not a beer drinker, but I really enjoyed the subtle flavours of the ales. They are designed to be savoured like wine, rather than downed in pints and I would certainly recommend them. I am delighted to have them in stock now at Clavelshay Barn and wish Kaite and her partner Jason every success in the future. Look out for them – KUBLA BEERS

The name Kubla comes from the Coleridge poem “Kubla Khan”. Coleridge lived and walked over the Quantock hills where Kaite lives with her family.

A brief bio about Kaite …

Kaite always had a passion for food. She started her career in the restaurant business and then progressed into product development within large food manufacturing businesses, finally working for a Bristol-based flavour house. Her time in large industry made her realise that real food is about making things in small quantities with care. From sourcing the best ingredients and giving products the time they deserve to be at their best to the quality obtained by hand packaging them, producing in small quantities means Kaite can nurture her beers through every step of the process.

Kaite started brewing at home in 2010, learning the craft and experimenting with different flavours and styles. Kubla Brewery was first conceived in January 2012 when Kaite realised that she should do something more with her talent for producing interesting, flavour-forward beer. Full commercial production started in November 2012 from the small brewery Kaite has set up near Lydeard St Lawrence. The initial range of products includes a fruity Pale Ale, a fragrant Saison and a rich Stout. Further seasonal and one-off specials will be brewed in the next few months.

You can keep up to date with new products and happenings at Kubla by following them on Twitter @kublabrewery or @kublakaite and also by ‘Liking’ them on Facebook.com/kublabrewery