Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

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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We are really proud to introduce our guests and wine lovers to a brand new device for wine pouring, ‘Coravin’ , that we believe is about to revolutionise fine wine service.


Basically, the Coravin allows us to access very fine wines of rare vintages and complexity by performing the neat trick of extracting wine from a bottle without actually opening it.  So, there is no effect on the quality of wine in the bottle or its aging process.

Thanks to this device we are now pouring a selection of ‘Fine Wines’ giving you the opportunity to discover some of the finest vineyards around with a glass of wine or a flight pairing with the Gourmand Tasting Menu.

Fine Wine Selection


How does it work?

A long, thin needle is inserted through the foil and cork into the bottle.


Then, Argon (an odourless, tasteless, harmless, inert gas) is pumped through the needle, creating pressure within the bottle that pushes wine back out through the needle.

Coravin 2


When the desired amount is poured the needle is withdrawn creating pressure within the bottle that pushes wine back out through the needle.  The cork, thanks to its very elastic nature, seals itself up when the needle is removed.

It will not work on a bottle sealed with a screw cap or an artificial cork, however it is perfect for old and valuable wines that are rarely found poured by the glass.

This is a very exciting revolution for wine lovers which we are very honoured to be promoting at L’Ortolan.

The ‘Fine Wine’ Selection:

White Wine

Loire Valley

Sancerre « Les Caillottes », Francois Cotat, 2011


Chablis Grand Cru ‘Vaudésir’, Gerard Tremblay, 2010

Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru ‘Les Folatières’, Chavy Jouet, 2012

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Remi Rollin, 2003

Red Wine


Les Ormes de Pez ‘Cru Bourgeois’, St. Estèphe, 1996

Château Haut Bailly ’Grand Cru Classé’, Pessac Léognan, 1999


Clos de la Roche Grand Cru, Domaine Arnaud, 2008


Sassicaia, Bolgheri, Tenuta San Guido, 1999

 Dessert Wines


Ice Wine, Inniskillin ‘Gold’, Vidal (37.5cl), 2012


Tokaji Aszú, 6 Puttonyos, Dobogo (50cl), 2007

I am looking forward to telling you more about Coravin at L’Ortolan, over a glass of Chateau Haut Bailly 1999, probably one of my favourite Grand Cru of Pessac-Leognan, that I am delighted to pour by the glass.

Guillaume Kaczmar

Head Sommelier

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We are very excited to introduce Charles Heidsieck as our new house Champagne.  Chosen for its individuality, exclusivity and downright deliciousness we look forward to sharing this wonderful Champagne with our guests here at L’Ortolan.

Charles Heidsieck Logo

Charles Heidsieck was founded in 1851 by the legendary Champagne Charlie himself. Charles was a dashing figure in Champagne, known as stylish gentleman and dandy who travelled extensively selling his Champagnes to the royal courts of Europe and American high society. He famously invested in the underground cathedral-like chalk cellars under Reims, originally dug out by the Romans 2000 years ago. The cellars are a unique place to age the Champagnes (only five Champagne houses today own original Roman cellars) as they remain an ideal 10ºC throughout the year and have a perfect levels of humidity, silence and stillness. They are still used today to house all the Charles Heidsieck Champagnes as they age.



Today the Charles Heidsieck Champagnes are recognised by industry experts as some of the very best to come from Champagne and win countless awards and accolades. The winemaker Thierry Roset places great importance on the reserve wines used in the production of the non-vintage blends. The Brut Réserve contains 40% reserve wines with an astonishing average age of 10 years, and is aged a minimum of 36 months in the Roman cellars. It is a Champagne with wonderful richness, complexity and balance.

sea of bottles


In 2013 the Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve was named the number one non-vintage champagne in the world, by FINE Champagne magazine. The wine was awarded the International Wine Challenge Trophy for non-vintage champagne, the Best in Show Award from the Sommelier Wine Awards (as well as Gold and Critic’s Choice), and was the only non-vintage champagne to be awarded a Master Medal in The Drinks Business Masters.


Enjoy a chilled glass of Charles Heidsieck Brut N.V. with our celebration Champagne Lunch offer…

Champagne Lunch

Three course lunch with Chef’s appetiser and pre-dessert and a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne.
£39 per person

Tuesday – Saturday lunchtimes from 1st May

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Laurent Perrier Champagne Lunch

Laurent Perrier is undoubtedly one of the most famous Champagne houses in the world, guaranteeing quality, style and luxury with every bottle. Founded in 1812, Laurent Perrier has been creating unique and elegant Champagne for nearly two hundred years and continues to be recognised for its creative approach to winemaking. During the 1950’s Laurent Perrier introduced the use of stainless steel tanks, preserving the freshness of the wine and the complexity of its aromas. This was instrumental in the creating the recognised house style of freshness, finesse and elegance.

The Laurent Perrier Brut has become famous in its own right. With its composition marked by a high percentage of chardonnay, the Brut offers the freshness and elegance that is constantly sought by the Laurent Perrier House. The Brut’s remarkable balance means it can pair with the most delicate of foods, while the combination of lightness and purity, mixed with its white fruit notes and subtle bubbles all come together to make it the perfect aperitif.

Join us in October and November as we celebrate the Laurent Perrier Champagne house with a delicious three course Champagne lunch with Chef’s appetiser and pre-dessert and a glass of Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne.


Laurent Perrier Champagne Lunch

Chef’s appetiser


Blue cheese mousse, pear compote, dried grapes

Confit salmon, compressed apple, beetroot


Wood pigeon, watercress, apple, walnut

Loin of pork, onion & garlic, caramelised apple purée

Fillet of bream, confit tomato, fennel, olive tapenade


Breast of partridge, confit leg, chestnut, cider fondant

Chef’s pre-dessert

Coffee macaroon, Amaretto mousse, white coffee ice cream, orange Grue de Cacao

Treacle tart, almond & fennel granola, poached cherries, almond ice cream

A selection of British cheeses from the trolley, homemade raisin bread & biscuits
(Or as an additional course £9.90 supplement)

Available Tuesday to Saturday lunchtimes until 30th November. Max 6 people per booking, please quote ‘Champagne Lunch’ when booking.


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Wine Pairing at L'Ortolan

Exceptional cuisine, exquisite wines and first class service all combine to make the dining experience at L’Ortolan truly memorable. To complement the food, Sommelier Craig Steven offers recommendations from our extensive wine list, including flights of wines to accompany each course on the menu. We are constantly tasting and tuning our wine offering with the ever changing menu and love to introduce the ‘fruit’ of that work.

Whether you are looking for the ideal bottle to accompany your food choices from the menu, or a selection by the glass to go with each course from our tasting menus, our Sommelier would be happy to guide you. In this blog Craig shares his wine choices for our signature seven course Menu Gourmand.

Gazpacho, tomato confit, basil

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California, U.S.A
The Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel works well with the tomato Gazpacho as both the wine and the food can be described as being intense and fruity in flavour with a spicy finish. It is these similar characteristics which allow the wine and food to work in harmony with each other.

Goose liver & smoked breast, pain d’épice, spiced cherries, chicory jam

Els Pyreneus Maury, Languedoc, France
Paired with this course as a traditionally French pairing with goose liver is Sauternes, another famed sweet wine. The accompaniments then ask for a wine that has more fruit and spice than Sauternes which is why the Maury works so well. The way the wine expresses itself helps to match the food as well because it starts off sweet and rich, to help cut through the goose liver, you then get all the fruit in the middle and finally the wine finishes with a touch of dryness. This dryness helps to counter any greasy or oily feeling that may be felt from the goose liver.

Fillet of turbot, citrus fregola, fennel & anise salad, lemon pureé, sauce Vierge

Charles Smith, Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Washington State. U.S.A
Charles Smith’s King Fu Girl Riesling works so well with the turbot dish because of the citrus harmony that happens between the wine and the food. The slight ripeness of the wine benefits the Turbot itself after which the acidity elevates it off the plate.

New season lamb, loin, shoulder & ribs with BBQ flavours, red peppers, sweet corn & new potatoes

Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Reserva, Spain
This Reserva is an excellent pairing with lamb as not only does the oak ageing allow the wine to blend in with the smoked characters of the dish and the barbeque sauce, but the wine follows three simple rules for making Lamb taste great. It has low tannin (nothing restricting in the wine), big fruit characters and a nice spicy finish.

Poached raspberries, white chocolate cheesecake, raspberry sorbet

Coteaux du Layon Chateau Pierre Bise, Lore Valley, France
This is such a great paring, as though the dish was made around the flavour of the wine. The sweet, honey styling brings both the flavour of the granola and white chocolate to their fullest while the creamy finish enhances the raspberry perfectly.


Take a look at our current wine list or for further information please call the restaurant on 0118 988 8500 or email wine@lortolan.com.

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Pommery Champagne

We take a look into the history behind the prestigious French Champagne House and how the Pommery Brut Champagne became so popular…

Champagne Pommery is a French Champagne house founded in Reims by Alexander Pommery and Narcisse Greno in 1858. After Alexander’s death in 1960, Madame Pommery dedicated the business to Champagne production and began producing a sparkling white champagne instead of the classic, still red wine of the period. Her innovative crisp, dry style of “brut” champagne propelled the Champagne house into unimaginable heights, becoming one of the largest Champagne brands in the region.

Following from her success Mrs Pommery built ‘The Grand Castle’ in 1868 – The estate features a 308 acre vineyard of exceptional Grand Cru sites and 18 kilometres of cellars and chalk pits where Madame Pommery stored and aged over twenty million bottles of her innovative Champagne. Many other Champagne houses later followed suit.

Famed for being the creators of the ever popular Brut Champagne, the Pommery house still attracts more than 120,000 visitors from all around the world every year. Now owned by the Vranken company, the Pommery brand continues to maintain the house’s image of modernity and extravagance, being the only Champagne House to offer specific blends for different seasons – highlighting individual characteristics of each of their prestigious wines.

The Pommery style has perpetuated year after year; elegant but ever discreet aromas, freshness and liveliness on the palate with a long and supple finish, a light but fresh composition. Pommery is one of our most popular house Champagnes at L’Ortolan, offering a wide range of Champagne blends including the Pommery Dry Elixir which is only available at L’Ortolan in the UK.


Celebrate Spring in style with our Seasonal Pommery Champagne offers…

Pommery Champagne Lunch

Three courses and a glass of Pommery Champagne.
£39 per person

Lunch only, must be pre-booked

Pommery Champagne Dinner

Six courses and a glass of Pommery Champagne.
£59 per person

Available Tuesday to Thursday dinner, must be pre-booked

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Chardonnay at L'ortolanA phrase often heard from guests when asked if they would like any assistance in selecting a wine is “I’d like to have anything but Chardonnay”. This is so commonly heard in restaurants these days that there is now an unofficial industry term describing these guests as ABC drinkers. For a Sommelier this can be particularly amusing as this is often backed up with the question “Do you have a nice Chablis on offer?” –  Why does this make Sommeliers chuckle? The reason is that Chablis is made from Chardonnay.

When you enquire a little deeper, what you inevitably find is it’s not the Chardonnay grape variety that displeases the guest, but the amount and styling of Oak contained within the wine. This goes back to the late 80’s/early 90’s when Chardonnay was the wine in Vogue at the time. On its own Chardonnay can be a bit of a bland grape, but it is easily influenced which is why producers favour this grape over others, because they get to impart their own style and personality into their wine.

Some of the finest examples of Chardonnay are found in France. Here they get, in part, their rich and toasty character from the long and gentle aging given to then in French Oak barrels. Due to the expense of French Oak these barrels are frightfully expensive to make and maintain, therefore in an attempt to lower costs many producers began using a cheaper American style Oak and an alternative method for getting the oak in contact with the wine. This resulted in an overpowering, cloying and quite often boring style of wine which had its peak of popularity but has now fallen out of favour. Unfortunately this style of wine has sullied the good name of Chardonnay all over.

If you again take the example of Chablis it’s easy to see that this is nothing to do with the variety and everything to do with the production method. Chardonnay remains one of the most widely-planted grape varieties, with over 400,000 acres worldwide, ranging from the most sublime, flinty and steely wines through to those that have a warm, toasted brioche base topped with ripe but tart pineapple.

Craig Steven, Sommelier

Join us at L’Ortolan to experience a selection of our Chardonnay Wines.

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