The latest from Atlas

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Amy Abroad: Rosé Hunting in the Riviera

The French Riviera with its population of 2.08 million is known for its idyllic beaches and sense of the good life. The Riviera is part of the Cotes de Provence wine region which covers over 50,000 acres of land. It is the oldest area in France for wine production and the region is world renowned for its Rosé wine; with Rosé accounting for 88% of the region’s wine production. France as a country consumes the most Rosé wine in the world, representing 36% of total consumption!

Rich and I were lucky enough to spend a week in the Riviera and while basking in the sun and lounging beside the glistening sea, I got inspired to check out the local’s tipple of choice, Rosé. Here’s the story:

On day one we headed to the gorgeous, coastal town of Antibes. We pitched our tent by the sea and at the resort’s bar we purchased B&G Passeport Rosé. It was served on tap and poured into a 2 litre glass bottle. The wine was light pink in colour and taste-wise was an explosion of red berries and fragrant flowers. I learned that traditional winemaking techniques are still used at B&G and they take special care of the grapes after they are picked to avoid oxidation and to preserve the light pink colour.

The next day we drove inland to our rented house in Bargemon, our base for the next few days. Bargemon is an ancient village that dates back to the 9th century and during medieval times the village was fortified, with remainders of the walls and gateways still existing today.  We purchased a couple bottles of Château la Tour de l'Évêque Rosé to enjoy with dinner. This was a much richer and more full-bodied Rosé with concentrated flavours of raspberries and strawberries. It also had some minerality along with spicy, vanilla notes. Dinner that night was chicken carbonara and this Rosé matched it perfectly!

Feeling in the mood for a daytrip we headed to Saint-Tropez and were mesmerized by the super yachts. Here we purchased the local L'Opale de la Presqu'Ile de Saint-Tropez Rosé. Rich and I parked ourselves on a bench and watched the glamourous set get on and off these exquisite boats while we sipped away on this simple and joyful wine. I thought the citrus aromas would have worked well with some Mediterranean cuisine.

Throughout the week, we drank Domaine de l'Esparon Rosé beside the local pool, a Fiche Technique Chateau De Valbourges Rosé at a wedding and a Matin Chevron Villette Rosé sitting at the seaside, watching the sun set. All of these Rosés are from the vineyards of Côtes de Provence and were all very tasty. My favourite was the Fiche Technique Chateau De Valbourges Rosé so I decided to take a tour at their vineyard on the day we were leaving. However, the French tradition of closing all shops between 12pm and 2:30pm is also a practise observed in the wine world. When we arrived at the cave it was closed for another 2 hours. There was nothing else to do except hit the road and head to the Alps where the next adventure awaited.  It was disappointing not to get into the vineyard to do a tasting but my quest to sample plenty of Rosés of the Riviera was still a success!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Red, red wine: Maker's Table Shiraz

From our friends across the Tasman
Another post for our vino lovers. Are you into the big, robust reds? Well, here's the Maker's Table Shiraz. It hails from the Barossa Valley in South Australia which is, of course, famous for it's big bold reds and Shiraz is probably the grape style most associated with Australia.

The nose is dark cherry, plums, spice and a little oak. Part of the final blend is matured for a short time in oak barrels so some complexity is added to the wine without an all-out oak dominance.

The palate is rich and fruity with a soft tannin finish.

We reckon this wine is a great match for our:

Atlas steak with demi glace, Cafe de Paris butter, fries and side salad | $18.50

Shiraz is also a great match for big beefy stews, especially ones with a little bit of spice added to them or ones cooked with some wine. So keep an eye on our specials board as we'll being serving stew specials throughout the colder months.

Maker's Table Shiraz | 13.5% | $8/$30 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Amy Abroad: Into Somerset for Cider

There is no greater satisfaction than a cold, refreshing cider in the sun!

Once upon a time in 1230AD, Jocelin Bishop of Bath was the first recorded man to press apples into cider for the Royal Charter. Ever since then the county of Somerset in the heart of England’s West Country has been synonymous with the production of cider. This rural area with its rolling hills is abundant with cider orchards with 10 different types of cider apples being farmed here. With over 25 cider farms in Somerset to choose from I had a busy day ahead of tasting and meeting the cider makers, so Rich and I hit the road.

Amy with Chris Hecks
First stop, Hecks Traditional Farmhouse Cider.  The shop was rustic, old and full of character with hundreds of awards and certificates mounted on the walls. I learned that the Hecks family have been pressing apples here at this location for the last 118 years, however the farm has been in the family since 1840. Chris Hecks is a sixth generation cider maker and was very pleased to give me a tour of the premises. Hecks produce over 20 single varieties of cider along with perry and various apple juices. They have three orchards of their own and also purchase apples from local growers to add to their cider varieties. A few weeks ago their Kingston Black cider won Reserved Supreme Champion at the Royal Bath and West Show and won British Farm House Champion at the CAMRA festival. I gave the The Kingston Black a whirl and it’s really delicious. It is copper coloured, bitter sweet and full flavoured. All in all a super tasty cider which could make for a great guest drink at Atlas next summer!

In the cider barn at Wilkins Cider
Through the fields and over the hills I was pointed in the direction of the CAMRA award-winning Wilkins Cider. This cider barn, in the middle of nowhere, is a much smaller operation; however don't let the size discourage you. With three varieties of cider; dry, sweet and medium (which is dry and sweet mixed together), you find yourself sipping on very clean, fresh half pint straight out of the oak vats! The barn is literally, just a barn. A few arm chairs are set up beside the old apple engine; old photos hang on the walls of Roger Wilkins and his grandfather; there’s an old table set up selling farm products like cheese and vegetables and of course the old wooden barrels containing sweet and dry cider. At Wilkins Farmhouse you come in, say hello then continuously serve yourself letting time pass as long as your heart desires. I could’ve stayed here all day, it was simply blissful!

Cider barrels at Thatchers
My final stop of the day was Thatchers, the most commercial of the three cideries I visited but still with a proud heritage. Four generations the Thatchers family have worked in the orchards here and Thatchers have become one of the most well-known craft cider makers in all of England. They distribute bottled and draft ciders to the Wadsworth pubs and also to watering holes across the country. They have hundreds of acres of orchards which are the family's pride and joy. There is also a popular cycling path called Strawberry Lane which runs through several of their orchards with many people making a day of a trip to the farm. My favourite from the ciders I sampled was the Cheddar Valley which is a naturally cloudy cider that is matured in oak vats, giving it a strong and robust flavour.

After a day of journeying deep into the cider farms of Somerset, I found myself quite tipsy and returning to Wiltshire with a boot full of cider! We purchased a gallon of  Hecks sweet cider, a gallon of medium cider from Wilkins and a gallon of Cheddar Valley cider from Thatchers. Next stop will be Europe so I’ve got French wine and devouring mouth-watering cheese to look forward to! 

Special thanks also to Richard for being designated driver on my Somerset cider tour.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Souper Soups!

Pumpkin and kumara soup
As well as launching our new winter lunch menu recently, we also have soup specials available throughout the colder months. Our Atlas soups are prepared on the premises and available every day in ever changing flavours. Check out the specials board when you visit to see what the current flavour is.

This year we are doing a bowl of soup for $10 and a cup for $5. Both are served with some toasted ciabatta.