Raise another pint to Nelson

In The Drink - All At SeaWe last featured the Nelson Brewery at historic dockyard Chatham back in May ’05 for the excellent celebratory England Expects beer it brewed for the Battle of Trafalgar 200th anniversary.

I am pleased to report that the brewery is still going strong. England Expects was an excellent bottle-conditioned ale but now most of its core products are draught beers.

This is a small boutique brewery worthy of our support and, as all the small ones are, for ever inventing a succession of quirky names for their virtually hand-crafted product.

A current one from Nelson is Friggin in the Riggin, on draught in local Medway area pubs and up into south-east London. It has a much meatier flavour than you might normally expect from a mid-point 4.7 per cent abv, that is clean and very refreshing.

There are at least ten bottled beers to choose from at Nelson, which can be bought direct. A mixed case of 12 x 500ml bottles costs about £20, or there is a four-bottle gift pack for about £8.50.

Check them out at www. nelsonbrewingcompany.co.uk and/or call 01634 832828 to discuss your order. There is almost bound to be a suitable fun label for your club party or boat launching.

And a ‘brand’ new wine from Chile

Chilean wine sales in the UK have been growing at 22 per cent a year but hardly anyone can recall a specific brand – just seven per cent according to importers.

In The Drink - All At SeaCasillero del Diablo is apparently the best recalled, which I admit was not on my radar but it is well distributed. For example Sainsbury’s has a full range of red, white and rosé at between £5 and £8 on its shelves.

Chilean wines are often the best buy in restaurants so I welcome the launch since last October of Gran Tierra – Wine of Chile, which is intended to give us a brand name to remember more easily for a range of types and price points in the Chilean experience.

A cut-out profile of the Andes as the label is meant to help us recognise its provenance.

Launched too late for the big retailers to include in last Christmas’s listings, Gran Tierra is now making its way into supermarkets near you.

That’s the plan. What of the product? I found the Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere, which they refer to as a dual blend and which is billed as part of their £7+ Premium offer, at only £4.25 in my local Budgens supermarket, so I snapped up a few bargain bottles to try.

Luckily it tastes very good, dark ruby red and full bodied makes it a wine to savour rather than quaff. Spicy raspberry, quite tart and refreshing makes it drink well with food from grilled sausages to prawn curry.

Other Gran Tierras are Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé. Plus a bargain-basement idea of an unspecified ‘Smooth Red and ‘Crisp White’ designed to sell well below the £4 mark. I have not seen these yet but judging by the Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenere they are probably worth a try for a cheap and cheerful party quaffer.

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