Les 5 du Vin

5 journalistes parlent du vin

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Coldharbour’s English fizz stirs memories


Acre Lane from Clapham leads onto Coldharbour Lane,

which heads through to Loughborough Junction

A bottle of ‘Coldharbour’ Classic Cuvée NV (West Sussex) enjoyed on Friday 20th April on the evening of our return to London after our long stay in Scotland stirred old memories.  

For a couple of years back at the end of the 1960s and very early 1970s I lived on Acre Lane in Brixton. The eastern end of Acre Lane finishes at Brixton Town Hall in the centre of the borough at the junction with Brixton Road.    

Memories of Coldharbour were reactivated in 1997 with the debut album from Alabama 3 that featured the fine Exile on Coldharbour Lane. Back in the days when I lived in Acre Lane, an evening stroll down Coldharbour Lane usually produced an invitation from the shadows to buy a wrapped up piece of dope. 

As I never accepted these kind invitations I can’t say whether the proffered dope was anything like as well balanced as Coldharbour’s quite austere Classic Cuvée – a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier as are the majority of Champagnes. The winemaker is Dermot Sugrue, whose Sugrue Pierre, we have greatly enjoyed on several occasions at The Harrow in Little Bedwyn.

Also in passing: 

back on the bike:

Posse of wheels


Yesterday was an important milestone in my recovery from slipping on black ice on 2nd January 2018 as it was the first time I had seriously ventured out on a bike since the accident.  After getting rid of the brace on 11th April I had gingerly tried a few revolutions on the bike but while it was possible it was clear that this was towards the limit of movement and that I should be very careful.

I am delighted that nearly a month on from being able to discard the brace and my discharge I was able to ride my Scott mountain bike a couple of times around Crystal Palace Park and cope with its hilly terrain while cycle shoes with cleats. Previously I had been wary about relying on getting my foot out of the pedal.

Malcolm Nicol11.4.18s

Malcolm Nicol – consultant surgeon @Raigmore Hospital, InvernessEW

I continue to be very grateful to the excellent care I received from NHS Scotland – this is a real good news story. I am particularly grateful to the surgeon – Malcolm Nicol – and his team who did such a brilliant job reattaching my quads to my knee. It is also a testimony to the healing powers of the human body. I don’t think I really ever thought that I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike again but it is a wonderful feeling when you are actually able to do so. There is still a way to go before my leg and knee are fully back to normal but I can see real progress.


Les 5 - trio

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Out to play @Rocpool, Inverness

View from the Rocpool restaurant, which is just by the River Ness,
so if Nessie ever ventured downtown diners would get a good view


On Friday I got out to play for the first time since I injured myself through slipping on black ice on 2nd January. We took the train from Kingussie to Inverness to meet up with Diane and John, who we met in an international hotel in Beijing last year, for an indulgent Friday lunch at the Rocpool restaurant

2016 Grüner Veltliner, Domane Wachau, Austria

The great advantage of having the restaurant’s wine list on-line is that you can choose at least the first bottle in advance, so we were able to order a bottle of the Domane Wachau 2016 Grüner Veltliner even before we sat down. The GV (sensibly closed with a screwcap) was very crisp, clean and citric making it a good apéritif.

This was my first visit to Rocpool for a number of years and I was definitely impressed with the food, wine list and the quality of service. Both the food and wine list are typically Modern British eclectic with influences from many different cuisines. We opted for the set lunch – two courses for £16.95. It was little surprise, however, that after our two courses we went for either a dessert or cheese. 

Our starters:

 Fritto Misto of king prawn and baby calamari with
marinated plum tomatoes, fresh lemon, chilli &

crispy capers


Carpaccio of beetroot with Highland blue cheese & 

roasted hazelnuts with fresh mint and aged balsamic  

      Salad of parma ham & shaved Williams pear with 

pecorino cheese, broad beans, lemon & mint 

Once we had finished the Grüner Veltliner we moved onto some red with an impressive – soft and spicy – 2015 Primitivo Salento, Critèra from Schola Sarmenti – as our initial choice.

Main courses: 

Pan fried breast of chicken with wild mushroom risotto,
black pudding, rocket & shaved parmesan

Pan fried fillet of sea bream with oriental stir fry
of baby pak choi, steamed jasmine rice & crispy fried
shallots with cashew nuts, sesame & basil

2nd red: 

2011 Colline Teramane, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo,
Fantini Farnese


The 2011 Colline Teramane, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Fantini Farnese is obviously from further north with greater acidity and also more structured than the Primitivo. 

Affogato – vanilla ice cream with a shot of 
expresso & liqueur of your choice

Triple chocolate praline tart with salted caramel ice cream

Instead of a dessert I opted for a selection of cheese from Rory Stone (Highland Fine Cheeses). All were made from ewe’s milk. 

The wine list
The wine list is well chosen and fairly typical of the wine selection in the UK today and very different from a list in much of France, Spain or Italy, where local wines play a very dominant role. Instead at Rocpool the selection comes from all round the world. For instance, the whites on the main list come from seven countries – Italy, South Africa, Chile, France, Spain, Austria and New Zealand. For the reds it is nine countries: Italy, France, Chile, Spain, Australia, Portugal, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa.  Prices on the main list range from £17.95-£59.95 for the whites and £17.95-£79. As you can see an eclectic mix with no one country really dominant.