Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

Fonab Castle, Pitlochry – a pampered Highland stay

10 Commentaires

View-TayThe stunning view from the brasserie at Fonab

Entrance + Castle
Entrance to Fonab Castle


The glass fronted bar and brasserie with the castle behind

A glass of Don Fino Sherry from Sandeman in
the Fonab Bar to start the evening

We spent a great weekend at Fonab Castle on the outskirts of Pitlochry as my pre-birthday treat. Saturday night we were in Sandeman Room where we were expertly looked at after by James Payne, the maître d’hôtel at Fonab and responsible for the wine. I first met James back in the 1990s when he was at Pont de la Tour. From time to time sommeliers get a bad press for being arrogant. This certainly does not apply to James: he is a very good one  – very relaxed, very professional and knowledgeable and not at all intimidating. 

James Payne with the Sandeman 1982 Vintage Port 

Dinner in the Sandeman Room is a set menu – we also decided to go for the flight of recommended wines. We learned during dinner that we had the same table as the Scottish legend Tom Cannavan (Wine Pages).  

Tom Cannavan on a barrel throne in Chile 

The amuse bouche which included
some foie gras and roasted apricot


2016 Bone Dry, Van Buhl, Trocken, Pfalz (above and below)
Some grassy Sauvignon Blanc like – notes crisp acidity


Consommé – chicken, truffle and tarragon – being poured over the raivoli

Character Amontillado Sherry, Sandeman
James’ choice with the consommé

Scottish Salmon –
Confit of pink citrus – fennel – cucumber
There is almost always a dish that we forget to
photograph before we are halfway through the dish 

The 2014 Astolabe Chenin Blanc, Wrekin Vineyard, Marlborough (NZ)
was matched with the salmon. When t
asted on its own the Chenin has a delicately
attractive character with interesting floral notes.
Unfortunately the sweetness in the salmon as well as the cucumber overpowered
this Chenin – hiding the fruit while accentuating the acidity

Perthshire Lamb – Provençal vegetables – basil – artichokes  

2009 Ampodium, Côte Rotie, Domaine Rostaing. James kindly added this into our flight
Lovely, sensuous and complex Côte Rotie. Kept under Coravin and first broached
some five weeks ago and still very good. Was a great match with the rare filet of lamb

2014 Vinha Grande, Douro. Still youthful and quite tannic but came into
its own with the slow cooked lamb 

Pre-dessert – this fruit based  pre-dessert was a fine foil for the
2015 Vouvray Moelleux 
from Vigneau Chevreau (below)

Panna Cotta – lavender – textures of strawberry

The Panna Cotta needed something richer and
more powerful than the Vouvray, which the
2015 Kika Noble late harvest Chenin Blanc
from Miles Mossop Wines in Stellenbosch

Birthday chocs

All in all this was an excellent and very enjoyable meal – the high point of a great weekend stay at Fonab Castle, a wonderful place for a pampered few days away.


Auteur : Les 5 du Vin

Journalistes en vin

10 réflexions sur “Fonab Castle, Pitlochry – a pampered Highland stay

  1. Happy birthday Jim and many happy returns

    Aimé par 1 personne

  2. Merci Hervé !


  3. Pitlochry !!!! Was there back in …. 1983. Not far from Castle Blair (Atholl family) isn’t it? Whiskies must be Aberfeldy, Dalwhinnie, Edradour, Blair Atholl … all decent but none my top favorite. Your selection of wines is splendid, though.
    Vigneau-Chevreau: still own a few « Moelleux Réserve 1990, tries de Grains Nobles » which I purchased at the estate. Some are past their best. Idem for « Cuvée Clos Baglin », same vintage.
    I suffer from a bout of heavy cervical arthrosis – just at the time of summer bottling and before harvest! Hence, the village GP accepted to largely cover me in « cortisone », upon my insisting request. Result: mechanical situation is much improved but my sugar level reaches life’s high. I must admit sweet Vouvray is partly responsible for this deplorable situation.
    Rostaing was also part of my Côte-Rôtie stabbles, but I sold them all to restaurants when I left my homeland … dire straits.
    Sandeman’s 1982 (not a dream declaration’s vintage) was present at the « Vintage of the Century » tasting In Oporto in June 1999. But that is now almost 20 years ago. It must have changed. Naughty George is allegedly famous for coming up with « refreshed versions » sometimes. « I sink the needle and the damage’s done, a little blackcurrant in every one, but every vintage is like a settin’ sun … ». But that’s only a rumor and you don’t like that Jim.
    Finally, sharing those memories with you, and reading your lushly illustrated text (photos and again photos), makes for a kind of « presence » at your celebration. Enjoy your stay. I put a toast to this day and will have a Baglin to your health.


    • Merci Luc. Hope you recover sufficiently for the vintage. Actually I didn’t drink the 1982 Sandeman. The photo was taken in May when we went to Fonab Castle for the first time to celebrate Carole’s mother’s 93 birthday. James posed with the bottle.


      • Corticosteroids do help, Jim, as many a cyclist knows, and harvest will be managed OK.
        I did drink that 1982 … in 1999. I don’t have a high opinion of the majority of Sandeman’s low-range production, and Belgium drinks a large part of it. But they declare a lot of vintages (I mean, in many years) and they are always very pleasant. This « joke » (?) about the company rejuvenating some samples before tastings is impossible to verify. I met George Sandeman in several occasions, one of them at a quinta of ,theirs near Vale de Mendiz, prior to Nieooort’s buying the place. He’s a very charming man, full of humor and congenial.
        As anticipated, I opened a bottle of Clos de Baglin 1990 yesterday evening, as apéritif (wth salted almonds). Very funny wine. It is dark orange in color (almost tawny) but not maderized in any other respect. The nose is not very outspoken, with traces of figs and melon. The mouth is smooth, not alcoholic (12 vol %) and doesn’t taste sweet (!!!!!). It is not very opulent, devoid of a lot of glycerol and doesn’t possess those candle-like tones, nor honey flavours.
        Still, no excess of volatile acidity, not a hint of acetate nor ethanal.
        I would have it with poultry or sweetbread, rather than as a truly « liquorous » wine.


  4. Hi Jim

    Well, actually I already wished you all the best for your birthday on your facebook account and you thanked me 🙂 All ist fine in this wonderful world…. But Pitlochry….
    All I’ll always remind of Pitlochry is a nice castle on the hill in which i spent two nights many years ago and the salmon ladder. Pitlochry is said to be the door to the Highlands… Well, I’ll always remember Pitlochry is about to be as ugly as Saint Moritz in Switzerland. And not because of the village itself but because of the huge amount of tourists just wanting to be here instead of comprehending the Scots’ way of thinking and living…
    But I fully agree with Luc nonetheless, great opportunity to taste some of those marvellous whiskies such as Edradour. Before joining the far north and the other distilleries….

    Great country, great landscapes, great whiskies and simply delightful people 🙂 🙂

    All the best again.

    Aimé par 1 personne

  5. Luc. The 1990 Vouvrays have long been deep golden, while the 1989s have remained much paler.


    • I agree, Jim, same experience. I also possess Foreau’s and Huet’s (well, the successors) in both 1989 and 1990. But this one was really excessively so. Mind you, not unpleasant at all, but the « Golden slurp syrup » aspect is absent. I suspect 1990 was more a question of overripeness and dessication, whereas botrytis was overwhelming in 1989. Am I correct?


  6. Extraordinary ! Scotland is THE PLACE to be in the summer…
    Happy birthday, lucky Jim !


Laisser un commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google+

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Google+. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l'aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )


Connexion à %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.