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Hello to all our blog followers.  Our blog has moved onto our new main website.  Click on ‘read more’ below to find us at our new location. We hope you will sign up to our new blog and join in the conversation with the team here at L’Ortolan.

Best wishes

Sally Albin


Create a delicious New Year’s Champagne cocktail for your guests – the perfect tipple for your midnight toast!


Champagne Cocktail


6ml of Cognac

5ml Cointreau

5ml Grand Marnier

Angostura bitters

1 sugar cube


Soak the sugar cube with Angostura bitters.

Add Cognac, Cointreau and Grand Marnier and mix gently.

Top up with Champagne, garnish with fresh orange peel….and enjoy!


Happy New Year from us all at L’Ortolan. We look forward to seeing you in 2015.

The festive season is in full swing here at L’Ortolan, and for our final masterclass of the year Alan Murchison is showing guests how to cook the perfect Christmas turkey.


Over the course of December our demo studio has played host to a series of Christmas masterclasses, inspiring guests to cook their Christmas lunch with a Michelin flair. Guests were greeted with champagne and canapes, before being shown how to produce turkey stuffing, turkey jus, confit salmon with pickled mouli wasabi and finally a christmas pudding soufflé. The masterclass worked up everybody’s appetite, and guests then had a 3 course lunch with a glass of wine.


Following the success of these events, Alan Murchison will be holding our final masterclass of the year – showing guests how to prepare their turkeys, so they can take them home ready for hosting on Christmas day. Guests will bring their own turkeys, and will prepare the jus and stuffing whilst here at L’Ortolan. They will then have the chance to join Alan in the Pommery room for a 3 course lunch with a glass of wine, still or sparkling water, coffee & petit fours. We asked Alan to share the secret behind his turkey Jus:

Turkey Jus

3kg turkey carcasses, 2cm dice
200g groundnut oil
800g butter
1kg onions, thinly slice
200g butter
750g white wine, reduced by ½
1 ½ litres demi glace/brown chicken stock
20g garlic, skin-on crushed
4g black pepper, crushed
2 bay leaves
8g thyme
Beurre noisette
Rosemary, chopped
Lemon juice

Sear the turkey in hot oil then caramelise in foaming butter. Strain and reserve 1/3 to refresh. Caramelise the onions in foaming butter until golden brown and then strain. Bring the stock to the boil and reduce to sauce consistency before adding turkey bones, onions and wine. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Pass and reduce.. Add the remaining turkey, garlic, pepper, bay leaf and thyme. Bring back to the boil as quickly as possible and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Pass. To finish sauce, make a beurre noisette, add rosemary then whisk turkey jus into butter. Taste and season, lift with lemon juice. Pass through muslin.


The bring your own turkey masterclass & lunch takes place on 23rd December and is now available to book, costing £100 pp. Call us on 0118  988 8500 to make your reservation. More information on the masterclass is available at: https://www.lortolan.com/cookery_masterclasses.

On a rainy Monday afternoon we were welcomed with a lot of kindness and passion by Phil, Michael and Lucy at the Two Cocks Brewery in Newbury.

Two Cocks 1 (2)

Lucy is in charge and Michael and Phil started farming about 5 years ago following a relocation to the countryside, swapping busy city life in London for the peace and quiet of Newbury. Their farm production, eggs, meat, pies and other delicious products, are mostly exclusive to premium suppliers and restaurants in Wiltshire and Berkshire.

Two Cocks 1 (5)

Farming alone proved not to be enough for the ambitious duo and they started the brewery, with the first brew of their Two Cocks Ale in 2011. The inspiration fro the brewery came from staring at the beautiful wild hops found on the property.  As a natural cycle they are using the pure water from a borehole sunk deep into the Berkshire chalk, which we had the opportunity to try and compare to the Thames water, and what a difference that is. Production is sustainable as all the leftover grains are used to feed the cattle on the farm.

Two Cocks 1 (4)

After we arrived we had a very nice tasting of the various grains with different toasted intensity as well as the different kind of hops and water they use. We were shown the vat room and some of the more technical processes including the fermentations and filtration.

To conclude, we had an amazing tasting of the all range where everyone had their favourite but all were keen to say that all the ales were top quality and could satisfy our thirst at any time. To pair it a very nice touch was to be able to try some home-made pork rillette soufflé produced from the Berkshire black pigs of the farm, very yummy.

Two Cocks 1

And as the sky was getting clearer we had the opportunity to follow Michael and Phil through their farm and through the fields going to play around their very unusual breed of sheep, cows and parks.

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A very enjoyable and relaxed afternoon, with authentic passionate people which we are proud to promote at L’Ortolan with at the moment their flagship, the Two Cocks, ‘Viscount’ Golden Ale. Do have a look at the Two Cocks website for more information

If you are wondering why all the names of the 8 Ales are related to military grades, you will have know that the farm is located on the site of a civil war roundhead encampment of the first battle of Newbury that took place on 20th October 1643, and is also a couple miles away from the Highclere Castle famous as seen on the Downtown Abbey Series.

Guillaume Kaczmar
Head Sommelier

Come and sample a selection of Two Cocks beers paired with a special menu at L’Ortolan

Two Cocks Dinner with Beer Pairings

Thursday 5th February

Six course dinner paired with beers from Two Cocks Brewery.

£65 per person (£60 for wine club subscribers)

Must be pre-booked, 50% deposit on booking.

For those chocolate lovers out there, try out your patisserie skills with our tempting recipe for Millionaire’s Shortbread…with a modern twist!

Millionaire's Shortbread



200g golden syrup

100g dark chocolate

80g puffed rice

Warm syrup then add chocolate. Once melted fold in puffed rice.


1lb butter

9oz demerara sugar

794g evaporated milk

Boil until thick.


300g whipping cream

250g dark chocolate

Boil cream, add chocolate, whisk until smooth.

Our Executive Chef Alan Murchison is an ambassador for chocolate producer Cacao Barry, a company renowned for its vision of the chocolate-maker’s craft as an art form’.

If you would like to be part of a Chocolate & Couverture Masterclass, we have a few spaces left on Wednesday 19th November. Alan will take you through a full chocolate tasting, chocolate tempering and preparation of moulded chocolate and petit fours.

£130 per person or £230 for two, additional guests £115 (50% deposit required at the time of booking)

Please call 0118 988 8500 or email info@lortolan.com

Champagne in Reims

As the summer draws to a close, some of our team headed to the beautiful and historic city of Reims in Northern France. Famed not only for its towering gothic cathedral, but its setting in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, renowned for its sparkling white wine (Champagne). Here our team spent a day tasting at the Charles Heidsieck winery led by head sommelier Guillaume Kaczmar, following his introduction of the new L’Ortolan House Champagne by the legendary Wine House.


The Wine House – established in 1851 – has a colourful and remarkable history, mainly owing to its founder Charles Camille Heidsieck (also known as Champagne Charlie, a French Dandy who was the first to promote Champagne in the US back in the 19th century), who had a strong passion and confidence that he translated into his wine making. His concentration centred around the producing and ageing of wine, a legacy that remains today. Heidsieck has an outstanding number of accolades, having been named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year thirteen times in the International Wine Challenge (IWC), in addition to a number of silver and gold medals at the IWC.


Our team enjoyed a tour of the 2000 year old chalk cellars built by the Romans at 30 metres deep (they used to be chalk quarries). Today there are only five Champagne houses using those white, muted cellars for the wines to lay dormant in, at a constant temperature of 10C-12C and 90% humidity; the perfect environment for Champagne ageing. They were then met by Thierry Roset the Maitre de Cave whose humility, devotion and dedication to his work are as pure as the chalk of Reims cellars’. He has been at the helm of Charles Heidsieck for 25 years, and dedicates his work to injecting the original spirit of the Wine House into his creations. Spending two hours with the wine connoisseur he shared his passion, spirit and secrets behind the craft of the unique Champagnes with the team. The team finally finished the afternoon with a tour of the vineyards around the Montagne de Reims – high places concentrating most of the Grand Cru of Pinot Noir production in Champagne.

Our guide was very informative and told us about the difference of

soils and climate, all those little details that French often refers to with the word ‘Terroir’.’

A variety of champagnes were tasted by our team including a number made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Monier and Rosé. Depth and texture are stated as the key characteristics that Charles Heidsieck champagnes should embody, demanding refinement at each stage of the process, and our team certainly concurred with this.


The first wine to be tasted was a still 2013 Chardonnay, harvested in October it is described by our team as delicate and smooth, with a fruit finish. Followed by the Pinot Noir from the Ambonnay region, an ideal complement to the warmer months in Spring and Summer due to the ripe, fruity notes the wine possesses. This very rare opportunity to sample the wine is its still state, provided an interesting tasting in the art of Champagne blending. With Guillaume stating, ‘For a Sommelier it’s fantastic as the wines are still, and you are able to focus simply the flavours and structure of the wine without having the bubbles that often are a third dimension that can change the tasting experience a lot.’DSCF1931

Next on the list included three Chardonnays from ’99 ’98 and ’96, which due to their long ageing process in the maze of forty-seven chalk cellars beneath Reims, and having been kept at a constant temperature allows for a distinctive development in taste and quality. They are described as complex with a long finish, specified as having the ‘texture of butter – creamy’, with the ’96 maintaining a warmth and woodiness with a hint of freshness. This is a ‘Vertical’ tasting of the Chardonnay (Vertical standing for the same wine on different years). Once again a master class with Thierry to understand the importance of the climate on the final quality of the wines.


One of the oldest Champagnes sampled was the ’95  Blanc de Millenaires, a Chardonnay distinguished by its floral and candied citrus notes, remaining fresh even with the creamier notes of almond and dates. Sixty carefully selected crus are chosen for this blend, with a minimum of three – ten years in the cellar. Vigilance and a sense of awareness are vital at every part of the process in order to produce a Brut that has its own personality and set of characteristics.

The pièce de résistance, however, was the Champagne Charlie from 1981 of which there are only a few bottles remaining, and was a privilege and delight to sample.

‘It was a perfect way to conclude the tasting, so that all the team could understand the evolution and the potential of such great wines and that Champagne is much more than a name and a luxury symbol.’


‘A Champagne made by kind hearted and generous people, for Champagne connoisseur or casual wine lovers….’

Guillaume commented, ‘When thinking about Champagne the first cliché that comes to mind are about strass and gold, celebrations, bubbles, and quality times. However, a Sommelier always looks at it as any other wine (because yes people tend to forget that Champagne is part of the big wine family), I always look for the honesty, the love and the passion behind the bottle and inside the glass.’

The pursuit of excellence that Charles Heidsieck strive to achieve is evident in their carefully nurtured sparkling wines, and the intense flavours created. Left in clay cellars to bring their style to perfection, they are highly regarded as one of the finest sparkling wine makers, and this is illustrated by the extremely positive response from our team. Maciej Chorazyczewski our assistant restaurant manager remarked, ‘It was truly a memorable experience about which I will most certainly share to all my friends, colleagues, and guests’.

Guillaume KaczmarBorn and bred in France, Guillaume was raised on a totally organic diet so no surprise that he was keen to continue the tradition of biodynamic, organic and natural wines at L’Ortolan.

Guillaume’s interest in wine was first kindled when he worked as a tour guide in Pauillac while taking his degree in Tourism studies. The Château Lynch-Bages winery produces some of the finest and most expensive Claret in Bordeaux.

One of the best experiences of Guillaume’s life followed next as he took a year out to travel to New Zealand to go ‘woofing’ – working on organic farms. His rich experience included a post in the South Island in a stunning vineyard fed by a glacial lake facing the Alps producing some of the leading New Zealand Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Guillaume returned to France to study wine in Sommelier School, gaining a National Diploma. Then a further 6 months of study at the International School of Wine where he graduated as top of the class.

He decided to follow a career in the hospitality industry in a role where he is able to try wine every day.


‘There are so many factors that make wine unique – the climate, region, grapes – you never stop learning’.


‘Les Sources de Caudalie’ hotel and spa in the Pessac Leognan wine making region was Guillaume’s next post, as Sommelier in the fabulous Michelin starred restaurant. In addition to Château Smith Haut Lafitte produced in the famous family owned winery, they also produce a range of world class  beauty products made from the crushed grape skins.

Guillaume was interested in moving to England to immerse himself in the new wine culture where the market is wide open with wines from all over the world easily available.

After an enjoyable and challenging year at two Michelin starred Whatley Manor Guillaume joined us as Head Sommelier earlier this year.

Guillaume has already made his mark at L’Ortolan delighting guests with his wine recommendations and introducing a new house Champagne, Charles Heidsieck.  Going forward he plans to  …

Continue to champion biodynamic, organic and natural wines with a good selection of unusual wines as well as more familiar names. Provide the highest standard of wine service with the main focus being pairing wines with the fabulous menus at L’Ortolan’.


To contact Guillaume:

Email: guillaume.kaczmar@lortolan.com

Telephone: 0118 988 8500

twitter @kaczmarkaczmar


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