An epic lunch at The Harrow at Little Bedwyn

I’d heard a lot about the annual trade and press lunch at Roger and Sue Jones’ The Harrow, a high-end restaurant in Little Bedwyn. I’ve known Roger for a while – we’ve toured together several times, as he’s also active as a wine writer. But this was the first year when I’ve been able to make this epic lunch – the sort that you clear your diary so that it’s your only engagement that day.

A merry band were gathered. We began with a comparative sparkling wine tasting, including an older vintage (1998) of the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée. Here are my notes:

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 1998 England
This was one of the early vintages of Nyetimber’s classic cuvée, and it has developed very nicely. It’s a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier, with a relatively high residual sugar of 12.0 g/L and acidity of 9.6 g/L. Complex, toasty and spicy with pear, peach and some appley notes. Lovely richness with racy acidity. Very fine. 93/100

Le Lude Vintage Agrafe 2012 South Africa
This is the agrafe version of the vintage MCC from Le Lude with tirage under cork, which makes quite a bit of difference to flavour. Tight, linear and bright with subtle spice notes, pear and peach fruit and a lovely acid line. Very fine. 92/100

Sugrue Pierre Cuvée Dr Brendon O’Regan NV England
60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, aged in barrel. This is complex and toasty with nice citrus fruit and keen acidity. Taut and focused with amazing intensity, and lovely purity and precision, as well as a slightly saline edge. 94/100

Arras Late Disgorged 2003 Tasmania, Australia
This shows a broad creamy edge to the focused citrus and pear fruit. Nice weight and lovely freshness with some creamy depth. Very Arras in style. 91/100

Champagne Charles Heidsieck 2005 France
Disgorged in 2014. This is fine, fresh and toasty with nice precision. Has lovely focus and subtle creamy notes with hints of bread and toast. Crystalline, bright and sophisticated. 93/100

Then we had a cool flight of Antipodean Rieslings:

Rockford Riesling 2002 Eden Valley, Australia
Rich golden colour. Spicy and toasty with bread, honey, citrus and pear fruit. Still has plenty of crystalline citrus fruit, despite the obvious development. 92/100

Pewsey Vale Museum Reserve The Contours Riesling 2003 Barossa, Australia
Linear and intense. Vivid with nice precise citrus fruit. Grapefruit, some toasty hints, and a taut fruity core. Lovely focus. 94/100

Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2008 Central Otago, New Zealand
9.5% alcohol. Linear and spicy with nice citrus freshness and precision. Some sweet citrus and herb notes here. Very fine and grainy with sweet melon, citrus and pear fruit. Lovely weight. 93/100

Peter Lehmann The Barossa Reserve Riesling 2002 Australia
This was a surprise: very fine and textural with spicy citrus fruit, hints of toast and spice, and nice precision. Complex and delicious. 93/100

Then a couple of South Africans, followed by some exceptional Chardonnay from New Zealand and Australia, and one from South Africa.

Fable Mountain Vineyards Jackal Bird 2012 Western Cape, South Africa
Fine and fresh with nice pear and citrus fruit. Expressive and fine with a crystalline quality. Textured. 91/100

Badenhorst Family Wines Golden Slope Chenin Blanc 2016 Swartland, South Africa
Bold and crystalline with lovely citrus notes. Shows peach and spice, some ripe pear and really nice focus. Good concentration: a sweetly fruited wine with plenty of ripeness, but also freshness. 95/100

Kumeu River Maté’s Vineyard Chardonnay 2012 Auckland, New Zealand
Tight, crisp citrus fruit here with some brightness. Shows lovely lemony fruit with some toast and spice. Really fine and complex with amazing precision. 96/100

Kumeu River Hunting Hill Chardonnay 2012 Auckland, New Zealand
This is fine and crystalline with lovely precision and purity. Tight lemony fruit. Fine and expressive, and really pure. 97/100

Giaconda Chardonnay 2016 Beechworth, Australia
Rich, complex and spicy with pear and peach fruit, showing concentration and complexity. Rich and bold with lovely depth, showing toast, spice and peachy richness. 95/100

Penfolds Bin 08A Chardonnay 2008 Adelaide Hills, Australia
Toast and spice here with some herby hints and a core of lemony fruit. Shows a bit of bready richness. Lots to admire, but its austere side feels slightly forced. 92/100

Capensis Chardonnay 2014 Stellenbosch, South Africa
This is the Jackson Family venture in South Africa, a Chardonnay-only project. Textured and pithy with lovely ripe pear and peach fruit, as well as some citrus focus. Very fine and expressive with concentration and purity. 95/100

Next, two New World Pinots in magnum:

Paringa Estate Pinot Noir 2010 Mornington Peninsula, Australia
From magnum. Supple and juicy with some herby notes and fine cherry and berry fruit. This is a ripe wine but age has conferred some elegance and finesse on it, with a very fine mouthfeel. 94/100

Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir 2016 Central Otago, New Zealand
From magnum. Complex and taut with red cherries and raspberries, showing nice focus. Has good structure and bright acidity, with richness as well as finesse, and a touch of redcurrant brightness on the finish. 95/100

Such a treat to try these two Tondonias with some bottle age:

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva Rosado 1983 Rioja, Spain
This was a treat. 8 years ageing in oak has produced a wine showing fine spice, citrus, pear, cherries and herbs with some mandarin brightness. This has a lovely density to it. It has aged beautifully. 95/100

Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanco 1976 Rioja, Spain
Powerful citrus fruit here, with notes of herbs, apple, pear and some wax. This shows lovely complexity and precision. Very fine indeed. 95/100

We had three other reds, I think, but I didn’t get notes on them. Too bad.

Thanks to Roger and Sue for their great hospitality.

The Harrow at Little Bedwyn