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Wine Talk

Recipe: Barbecued lamb chops (New Zealand)


Technically it's Summer, so even in this green and pleasant land there will be some days soon where you can get the barbecue out.

Think beyond boring burgers and try these easy lamb chops, beautiful with a glass or three of fruity Pinot Noir – we recommend this aromatic number by Bladen.

TIP: If desired, wrap exposed ends of bones in foil before cooking to avoid charring.

 Barbecued lamb chops


1kg lamb chops

Half tsp of black pepper

3 x garlic cloves (chopped)

1 x onion (thinly sliced)

4 x tbsp white wine vinegar

2 x tbsp olive oil

1 x tsp salt


  1. Mix all ingredients except the lamb in a bowl until the salt has dissolved.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large seal-able plastic bag, add lamb chops and toss until well coated.
  3. Seal and transfer to fridge to marinate for 3 hours.
  4. Stoke up the barbecue until at a moderate to high heat.
  5. Cook lamb for three minutes per side, for medium (reduce or lengthen according to preferred taste).

Savour with stunning Bladen Marlborough Pinot Noir – enough to keep the colour in your cheeks regardless of whether the sun's out or not.

Recipe: Rabbit or chicken with basil and parsley (New Zealand)


We know lots of people don't like the idea of eating rabbit, so don't worry – this dish works just as well with chicken (it just needs cooking a little longer).

So simple to make but requires some quick preparation the day before – well worth the effort though.

Try this with a bottle or two of Waipara Springs Pinot Gris – perfectly balanced acidity to complement the food.

TIP: Ask your butcher to joint the meat into eight pieces to save you the work and mess at home.

 Chicken with basil and parsley


1 x rabbit or chicken (around 1.5kg), jointed into 8 pieces

4 x garlic cloves

1 x handful of fresh basil

1 x small bunch of fresh parsley

3 x tbsp olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD (prepare day before eating)

  1. Wash and dry the meat, then add to a large casserole dish with a lid and cook dry over a medium heat for 10 minutes, turning once, until sealed.
  2. Remove from heat, allow to cool and discard any liquid that comes out.
  3. Finely chop garlic, basil and parsley and combine with salt, pepper and oil.
  4. Mix and coat the cooled meat with the oil and herbs, then cover and refrigerate, ideally for 24 hours or overnight.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees and cook for around half an hour for rabbit (or until chicken is cooked through).
  6. Serve with boiled new potatoes and green veg.

Enjoy with Waipara Springs Pinot Gris, a rich and complex bottle with vibrant floral undertones.

Recipe: Asparagus and mint risotto (New Zealand)


A delicious and satisfying dish doesn't have to mean meat or fish.

This fresh and flavoursome risotto, with tender asparagus and fragrant mint would fuel even the heartiest eater weighing on them.

That includes the tropical Tin Cottage Sauvignon Blanc we used to flavour the food (we drank the rest) – try it yourself, even better with 10 percent off selected sauvignon blancs currently!

 Asparagus and mint risotto recipe


175g asparagus (trimmed and sliced into 1.5cm lengths)

1.5 litres chicken stock

4 x mint sprigs

2 x tbsp chopped mint leaves

2 x tsp fennel seeds

2 x tbsp olive oil

1 x small onion (finely chopped)

1 x stick of celery (finely chopped)

500g risotto rice (carnaroli if possible)

125ml Sauvignon Blanc

30g unsalted butter

90g freshly grated parmesan

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put chicken stock, asparagus ends and mint sprigs into a saucepan and bring to boil, before reducing heat to low, covering and keeping hot.
  2. In a large saucepan, toast the fennel seeds over a high heat, stirring for around one minute or until fragrant.
  3. Transfer seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, then – once cool – roughly grind.
  4. In the same saucepan, heat the olive oil then add the onion and the celery and cook over moderate heat for around five minutes until softened.
  5. Add rice and fennel seeds and stir until coated with oil, then add wine.
  6. Stir for a couple of minutes until absorbed, then add enough hot stock to just cover the rice.
  7. Cook and stir until stock is absorbed, then continue to add stock one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until rice is just tender – this should take about 20 minutes.
  8. Stir in the sliced asparagus and cook, adding more broth as necessary, until the asparagus is almost tender and the rice is al dente and bound in a creamy sauce.
  9. Stir in the butter, parmesan and chopped mint, then season with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve in warmed bowls, with more parmesan if desired.

Enjoy with the rest of your Tin Cottage Sauvignon Blanc while your veggie friends beg you for the recipe.

Great value alternatives to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc


Without doubt, Sauvignon Blanc has become New Zealand’s flagship grape variety, mainly making its home in the South Island’s Marlborough region.

For years, the iconic ‘Cloudy Bay’ brand has commanded high prices – but for me, the quality level is not what it was and other labels now offer greater value.

To get the most enjoyment out of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, it can help to get a better understanding of this iconic grape.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Why is Sauvignon Blanc such a superstar in NZ?

Since it was first planted there in 1973 – and in the 40-odd years since – it has accounted for the lion’s share of New Zealand’s wine exports.

New Zealand growers have never tried to bastardise quality in favour of a fast buck – the general quality produced throughout the country is high.

A part of Sauvignon Blanc’s mass appeal is an abundance of aromatics and fruit flavours on the palate – essential for a variety with such powerful acidity.

Working with restaurants on a daily basis, we’re constantly reminded that most ‘by the glass’ offerings are driven by price alone.

That’s not true of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, where quality is the driving factor in the majority of cases.

It’s not the easiest of food partners – shellfish and seafood certainly work, as does asparagus – but the high acidity levels make it a great aperitif wine.

New Zealand wines have the gooseberry fruit and pepper (bell pepper) found in Sauvignon worldwide.

But they also tend to have more tropical characters too, making them so much more drinkable in volume.

Plus, Sauvignon is very much an aromatic variety, with bold fragrance and flavour components.

And when these are grown to New Zealand quality levels, they really hit you between the eyes, giving the impression of more bang for your buck.

What to look for when buying Sauvignon Blanc

Firstly, as with any cooler climate wines, vintage can make a big difference.

Happily, both 2015 and 2016 have been kind to Kiwi Sauvignon – although 2015 was lower in yield.

These wines will never be the cheapest and it’s always worth spending that little bit more to ensure quality.

But there are some great value alternatives to Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc – here are three that are just as good in our eyes (and less expensive).

Bladen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Bladen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Dave and Cristine MacDonald’s Bladen Estate is one of the founding ones of the Marlborough region.

You’ll have to go a long way to beat the quality and style of their generous Sauvignon Blanc, with its gooseberry, grapefruit, nettle and floral hints.

These give way to a plentifully fruited palate with minerals, grapefruit zest and herbal notes and a long clean finish.

It’s perfectly balanced and – at under £13 a bottle – offers great value.

The Doctors' Sauvignon Blanc

The Doctor’s Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough’s Forrest Wines have created a range of lower alcohol wines that lack nothing in terms of flavour and enjoyment.

They won’t tell us the special techniques they use in both the vineyard and the winery but have admitted that special clones have been chosen for the project.

Their classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc leaps from the glass with red capsicum, passionfruit and fresh herb aromas.

It’s full and satisfying to taste, with that crisp and refreshing tropical Marlborough finish – all at a modest 9.5 percent alcohol.

Waipara Springs Sauvignon Blanc

Waipara Springs Sauvignon Blanc

If you’d like to try something that’s not from Marlborough you can’t go far wrong with the wines of the Waipara Valley.

Although more famous for Pinot Noir and Riesling grapes, Sauvignon Blanc fares really well there – this example from Waipara Springs winery won’t disappoint.

Aromas of passionfruit, nettle and capsicum dominate the nose and these in turn flow through onto a bright palate.

Salivating acidity couples with chalky minerality to bring depth – mouthwatering at little more than £10 a bottle.

You either love it or you soon will…

If you’re already a devotee of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, enjoy the quality of these Cloudy Bay alternatives and let us know what you think.

And if you’ve not tried it yet, give a bottle a go and you’ll likely become a convert before it’s empty.

Recipe: Thai style prawns (match with New Zealand Gewurztraminer)


It's summer, so some zingy freshness and exotic heat is in order.

This Thai prawn dish is a stunning complement to Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer – a masterpiece of a wine that matches so well with Asian flavours it's scary.

Thai prawns with ginger and spring onion


200g peeled raw tiger prawns (or king prawns will do)

3 x garlic cloves (finely sliced or crushed)

A few chopped chillies (2-5 dependent on taste)

1 x bunch of coriander, leaves and stalks separated

1 x tbsp caster sugar

3 x tbsp fish sauce

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp groundnut oil (peanut or sunflower can be used)

Small piece of ginger (grated or shredded)

8 x spring onions (finely sliced)

1 x red pepper (thinly sliced)

85g water chestnuts (sliced)

100g beansprouts

Black pepper

1 x tbsp soy sauce


  1. Using a small food processor or pestle and mortar, combine coriander stalks, chillies, garlic and caster sugar.
  2. Mix with fish sauce and lime juice, then pour over prawns and leave to marinate.
  3. Heat half the oil in a wok, add ginger and spring onions and fry for one minute.
  4. Add red pepper and fry until it starts to soften, then add water chestnuts and beansprouts.
  5. Add soy sauce, a generous grind of pepper then remove to a serving dish.
  6. Heat the remaining half of the oil in the wok, add the prawns and toss for a couple of minutes until just pink.
  7. Add in the marinade, stir until coated, then tip over the veg.
  8. Sprinkle with chopped coriander leaves and another squeeze of lime juice.
  9. Enjoy with rice noodles or jasmine rice. 

Enjoy with an aromatic bottle or two of Bladen Marlborough Gewurztraminer and you'll have no problem ignoring the underwhelming British summertime. 

Recipe: Smoked salmon paté (New Zealand)


Have you noticed that when Wimbledon's on, you suddenly want strawberries and cream, whether you like tennis or not?

Well we've decided that even if you're not into rugby, you can still celebrate the British & Irish Lions tour with some delicious food and New Zealand wine.

This flavoursome smoked salmon is ridiculously quick and easy and a perfect pink partner to Bladen Pinot Noir Rose 2016.

TIP: Smoked salmon trimmings can be bought cheaply from supermarkets and taste just as good as higher priced larger slices.

 Smoked salmon pate recipe

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 as a starter)

150g smoked salmon trimmings

200g cream cheese

1 tbsp creme fraiche (optional)

Juice of half a lemon

Black pepper

Small bunch of dill or chives, chopped

Granary toast and lemon wedges, to serve


  1. Chop salmon into small pieces.
  2. Put salmon, cream cheese and creme fraiche (if using) into a food processor, season generously with black pepper and blitz.
  3. Add smoked salmon and pulse a few times for a rougher, rustic consistency or continue processing for longer if you want the pate pink and smooth.
  4. Stir in herbs and transfer to four small bowls before serving with toast and lemon wedges.

Enjoy with Bladen Pinot Noir Rose 2016 in front of the rugby – yes, most of the matches will be kicking off around 8am, you'll just have to power through.