My friend Matt Chatfield, Cornish food champion and founder of the The Cornwall Project opens his dining room at the historic Newman Arms on Rathbone Street next week. Wednesday night was the first night of the soft-launch so I was grateful to be able to taste the brand new menu along with Zeren Wilson (Bitten & Written) and colleague at The Vintner/Prince of Padstow, Charlie Stein who certainly knows a thing or two about Cornish food & drink.

The starters came and went in a blur of Champagne and White Burgundy, all delicious with Bourgogne 2013, Henri Prudhon, a wine I’ve written about on this blog before, being a highlight. It is a rich and weighty Chardonnay that seriously over delivers for a Bourgogne and is a great-value gem.

On to the main event as Matt’s team served a beautifully cooked lamb rump with new potatoes and anchovy dressing. After consulting the brilliantly constructed wine-list, put together by Bitten & Written, we decided there was only really one option and called for a bottle of Ridge Lytton Springs 2012. With a smaller cash margin on finer wines, it is brilliant to see the Newman Arms encouraging diners to indulge in better bottles without it breaking the bank.

Ridge is an iconic California winery that represents everything that is great about Napa Valley wine making. Famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the Montebello Vineyard, it also produces top-class Zinfandel and Chardonnay based wines.


The Lytton Springs is made up largely of Zinfandel with some Petite Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre thrown in for good measure. The nose if full of dark, dense cherry fruit and with a beautiful perfume of violets alongside. American wines can so often be over-oaked but there is no such problem here. The use of oak oozes class as gentle, toasted vanilla aromas accompany the bold fruit. On the palate, the wine is again abundant with cherry fruit whilst some complexity comes to the fore with savoury notes and flavours of spice & tobacco. Right now, it is bright, youthful and delicious but this wine has serious potential to age. I’d love to try another bottle in 5 years time. A triumph of an evening as we wish the Newman Arms the best of luck!