Skirling House - Wines & beers

Guest Wines

We have put together a small selection of fine wines which we hope will be of interest . These wines are very much biased to being ‘food’ wines so will go with our dinners. We have sought out a range of individual, possibly quirky wines which are brought together by their quality. Although somewhat more expensive than our regular list, we believe that these wines still represent great value, especially for wines of this quality.



Barolo La Serra, Poderi Marcarini, La Morra, Piedmont, Italy, 2003, 14.0% abv.


La Serra comes from a historic area of ancient origin whose soil,lacking organic substances but rich in mineral salts and microelements, results in very elegant and apparently less structured wines, but always generous and rich with intense, ethereal bouquets.. The wine has a garnet-color and ruby-red reflections with a slight orange note. The nose is ethereal, fresh, elegant and very persistent, with hints of violet, rose, liquorice and sweet spices. In the mouth the flavour is long and intense. To be served in crystal glasses with very large bowls.                                                                         

Chateau Musar Rouge, Gaston Hochar, Ghazir, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, 1998, 13.5% abv

£ 60.50

Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar and is located in an 18th Century castle in Ghazir, just fifteen miles north of Beirut, in Lebanon. Battle raged around the vines throughout the 1983 harvest, and Serge Hochar had to be smuggled in by small boat to make the wine. Similar conditions were endured in 1988 and 1989, and during the latter year both the Hochar family home and the Chateau Musar winery suffered direct hits from shelling

The grand vin here is the red Chateau Musar, a blend which may include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsaut, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre. The wine is fermented in concrete, before spending one year in vat, then a year in French oak, before going back to vat for several years. Hochar believes his wine needs years - perhaps ten - before it is ready for drinking, and the wines are already some way towards that age when they are finally released onto the market.

This elegant, fragrant, Cinsault-dominated vintage arose from a cool year. Cold, rainy weather lasted until June (resulting in late flowering); summer was sunny but there was no rain. Picking began on September 9th; maturity was variable but the grapes were healthy and fermentation faster than usual. Intense aromas: very fruity, floral. Full and dry with silky tannins. The best Musar for some years.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape Cuvee Speciale, Maison Tardieu-Laurent, Loumarin, France, 2004, 14.5% abv


In just a few years Michel Tardieu has established a reputation for the fine quality of his wines, which challenge quite convincingly any from the accepted firmament of Rhône négociants.   Tardieu is perhaps the ultimate in minimal intervention, he purchases wine on the basis of quality of the vines.   First, inspecting the vineyards of the Rhône Valley, he identifies plots containing old vines  a strong feature of the Tardieu-Laurent portfolio, and having succeeded in this he will then approach the relevant vigneron to open negotiations.

In the cellars the wines are racked, but are hand-bottled without fining or filtration. The quantities in question can be very small, sometimes just a handful of casks.  Naturally, when a négociant such as Tardieu releases such a range of wines under his own label, it is inevitable that there will be debate on the source of the fruit, especially when the wines are of such excellent quality. There is some degree of secrecy around this. One has to trust to the selection criteria employed by Tardieu - that is his role after all - and we should judge only by tasting the wines for ourselves. Tardieu-Laurent Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Speciale 2004 is much less open on the nose than some of his wines, showing some reserved fruit and on the palate a sweet and textured and yet elegant balance. It is full and broad, just as rich as the 2005 but perhaps a little more direction and freshness to it. Some good, gritty cherry fruit on the finish.



Gruner Veltliner Alte Reben, Weingut Brundlmayer, Kamptal, Austria, 2002


The Bründlmayer family, like Kurt Angerer, are winemakers prepared to show the best that Austria has to offer. The vineyards are tended along ecologically sound lines; there are no herbicides used and only organic fertilisation; water sumps have been dug to reduce erosion. Rot and mildew is discouraged in many vineyards by lyre training, bringing the vines skywards along two arms, pruned such that the grapes hang as close as possible to the stony soils, which radiate warmth long after the sun has set, so assisting the ripening of the fruit. These soils vary in type across the Bründlmayer vineyards, with ancient sandstone lying beneath the great Zöbinger Heiligenstein vineyard, sandstone and Permian deposits with clay in the Lamm vineyard to the east, and a marine clay in the Käferberg vineyard. These vineyards, and others owned by the Brundlmayer family, are host to Gruner Veltliner and Riesling predominantly, although Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc are also grown here. The whites are generally bottled according to vineyard of origin. 

Harvesting is manual with several tris a possibility, with transport to the winery in small crates. They undergo a gentle pneumatic press before temperature controlled fermentation, with both steel and wood in use here. The resulting wines show a purity of fruit and a mineral origin that clearly places Bründlmayer in the premier league of Austrian wine producers.

Rich fruit, with depth, weight and a calm undertone that would make this a good pairing with spicy food.


Riesling Craighall (dry), Dry River Wines, Martinborough, New Zealand, 2008


In 1979 Neil and Dawn McCallum planted a vineyard in a very dry and free-draining area now called the 'Martinborough Terrace'. They took the name Dry River for the vineyard, with a dream of producing "individual, high quality regional wines which faithfully reflect the 'terroir', vintage and are suitable for cellaring."   Thirty years on, and Dry River has carved a reputation for excellence with its portfolio of aromatic varietal wines including Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Riesling. 

"Martinborough is cool climate region," says McCallum, "Our vineyards are on free-draining gravels and we enjoy a long, cool, stable autumn." The cool conditions might suggest that only Germanic varieties would do well, but in fact the ripening season is very long, which compensates for lower temperatures. "We strive to pick grapes with really good phenolics, and usually there's no problem acheiving that conducive to growing winegrapes; Neil McCallum’s goal was to get out of the rain, and that brought him to Martinborough. A small area there held a 30-year record for the lowest rainfall on New Zealand’s North Island, as mountains on either side encouraged clouds to drop their cargoes before they reached the valley in between. The ocean still had a cooling influence through a gap in the mountains to the south, though, which made the area good for cooler-climate grapes such as Riesling and Pinot Noir . It is wonderfully dense and dry, verging on austere (Janis Robinson)