Journey through Tuscany

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by Buckingham Schenk to Tuscany to visit a couple of their vineyards and experience some good old Italian hospitality.

We flew into Pisa and travelled straight down to Castello di Querceto close to Greve in Chianti. Querceto’s vineyards extend over 190 hectares including olive, oak and chestnut trees. As we approached the castle is the centre piece of the vineyard having been rebuilt in the 16th Century. No time was wasted; we had lunch consisting of all local products, cured meats, cheese, tomato on bruschetta and their very own olive oil on toasted homemade bruschetta.

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We then commenced on the vineyard tour learning all about the history of Chianti and how the Francois families’ soul and philosophy oozes from the vines. Alessandro Francois bases his philosophy on matching the potential of different grape varieties with specific characteristics of different vineyard sites. He studied the various microclimates in each and every single one of the vineyards and realised that the only way to make wines with great personality was to focus on producing single vineyard “crus”.

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We were able to experience the range of their wines at the wine tasting, which was followed by a banquette fit for a King. Hosts Alessandro and Maria Antonietta pulled out all the stops. They opened their 1991 Castello Di Querceto Il Querciolaia and put on a spread of traditional Tuscan dishes. Grappa infused risotto with parmesan, baked stuffed eggplant, turnip leaves and pork and a selection of local cheese to finish. Soon enough they brought out their Grappa made from Chianti skins and their very own Brandy to finish the night.

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Waking up the next day with a red wine dazed head, we had breakfast and set off on the 1 and a half hour journey down to Azienda Lunadoro in Valiano, near Montepulciano. This vineyard is spread over 40 hectares with Sangiovese being the dominant grape grown. After being shown around the vineyard and winery by winemaker Maurizio Saettini, we sat down to yet another great array of food and wine. Tasting wines like their Gewurztraminer and their Brut Prosecco, to their signature Rosso Montepulciano and Menzione Aglianico. These wines accompanied our antipasti and homemade pasta bolognaise. This filled us up nicely for our next 2 and a half hour leg of the journey to Pisa.

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Arriving around 6pm, we stopped off at the hotel and went straight for an Aperol Spritz overlooking the leaning tower of Pisa. You cannot get anymore picturesque then that I tell you. Moving onto the restaurant with the chiefs of the Lunadoro winery we indulged in more of their wines and a beautiful selection of fish dishes. I say fish dishes because all they said was choose fish or meat and the 4 courses would consist of that option. I was presented with olive oil drizzled 3 styles of fish, clams and pasta, squid in a delicious sauce and greens, finished with a chocolate brownie and pistachio ice cream.

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Safe to say I finished the trip full of rich fresh Tuscan food and 60% of my body having turned into red wine. I cannot thank Buckingham Schenk enough for giving me the opportunity to explore this beautiful part of Italy.

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We do love to be beside the seaside

IMG_0872WHAT WE’RE DRINKING… Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that gin is in. New brands are appearing every week and it’s showing no sign of slowing. The exponential growth of the spirit has been phenomenal, with sales totalling over £1 billion in the UK in 2016 alone. Whilst there may be some doubters who have begun to question whether the tipple has hit it’s peak, we think you can’t have too much of a good thing. So, if you haven’t already guessed it, we’ll be drinking gin all summer long. And not just any old Gin, our own handcrafted Camber Gin… We’ve joined the craze and are delighted to have created a Gin that encompasses everything about Portsmouth’s naval history and our seaside community.

Our own blend has been made with coastal botanicals of seaweed, samphire & seabeets and we’re serving it garnished with samphire & lemon. As if this Gin wasn’t personal enough to us, our staff member Chloe has designed and created the labelling for the Gin (Studying illustration at university really does help), and we take our hat off to her and her incredible talent! So come down and grab your new local G&T now! Retail price: £28 Drink in G&T at abar: £5.35


WHAT WE’RE EATING… Summer calls for light, fresh dining & our obsession at the moment has to be abar’s shell on Crevettes. There is something incredibly satisfying about working for your food – and picking apart and peeling off the shell of these tasty, chunky prawns builds you quite the appetite! For an afternoon of grazing in the sun, these Crevettes at £7 are a must have. Oh, and as if these weren’t enough, the accompanying aioli for dipping completes this delicious summer feast, and is dangerously moreish…




* There will be NO SIPPING SATURDAY this month due to the bank holiday weekend

*Our FISHY FRIDAY will be this coming Friday 3rd August, fish & chips and a dessert for £12 between 5pm-6.30pm

* For all you super pre-planners getting your office CHRISTMAS PARTIES checked off the list (Yes, I said Christmas – don’t say we aren’t well prepared!) abarbistro are now taking bookings! Call 02392 811585 to discuss further. (we are still working on the menu but keep your eyes peeled on the website…)

*Our WINE TASTING SUPPERS will be making a return from September! Join us for a three course meal prepared by our chefs, four hand selected wines from a specific producer and a special guest from the winery, who attends to discuss the lovely wines you will be trying! Tickets cost £40 per person.

Dates for the diaries:
Tuesday 25th September – Kaiken, Argentina
Thursday 8th November – Boutinot Wines, France
To book your space, call abar on 02392 811585, payment upfront is necessary to secure your booking.


We’re going all Italian with the two newest additions to the Camber portfolio. We’re putting a spin the Gewurztraminer with this Italian interpretation from Cantine di Ora. This modern winery in Alto Adige has a vineyard warmed by Lake Garda during the growing season and ripens at altitude in the Bassa Atesina district in the foothills of the Dolomites. Perfumed , aromatic Gewurztraminer with rose and honey characteristics on the palate, unusually fresh and racy.

It’s taken a while to discover a new Amarone that is worth the pennies, but finally the work has paid off! (Though we did enjoy doing the research..) Here we present to you, Tedeschi Amarone Valpolicella DOCG 2013. The grapes are harvested from various vineyards across the Valpolicella zone and the wine is a blend of four grape varieties, with most dominant being Corvina. Notes of vanilla and sweet fruits, such as blueberries, cherries and currants. Followed by a slight raisiny character with a firm structure which lends itself to a succulent and more persistent flavour.

Retail Prices:
Cantina di Ora Gewurztraminer £13.00
Tedeschi Amarone Valpolicella DOCG 2013 £33.00


Our monthly wine wisdom brings you ageing of wines like you’ve never heard of. Oak ageing is a thing of the past, and it’s time to welcome a new innovative technique of ageing wine below our beloved sea – and, as sea dwellers, this method has obviously stolen our hearts. After the recent discovery in 2010 of Champagne bottles abroad a 19th Century shipwreck in the Baltic Sea, this type of ageing is big news in the wine world. Much to everyone’s amazement, some of the 170 year old bottles still had fizz and were actually drinkable! More complicated is how this actually works, with the science behind the process being as yet unexplained.. But for now, it’s currently believed that the consistent temperature, lack of light and oxygen, and the sea’s pressure and humidity all have positive effects on the wine. The Most recent grower to test this out is a Medoc estate Chateau Tour Castillon who has immersed 600 bottles of its 2015 vintage in the English Channel where it will stay for a year. But before you put on your diving gear and jump on a boat, the wines are under surveillance and checked by diving teams daily… damn. But seriously, we’re already counting down the days until the release date – when it comes to wine “tasting”, we’re all for trying something new…!



At abarbistro we’ve always prided ourselves on good food, good service and great wine. This summer we’ve decided to try and offer a little more over the bar for you wonderful customers.

In mid June we doubled our range of ales available on the bar to 4, adding another local ale, Upham Punter, who kindly donated a keg to help launch the extended range and also to treat any visiting dads on Father’s Day.

We brought a TV into the bar to show the royal wedding, the FA cup final & world cup. With all those events having finished we decided we would raffle the TV and raised £460 for our two local charities, the volunteer lifeguards and the life house soup kitchen.

This week we have launched our Gin bar offering an extended range of Gins including our very own Camber Gin, which has coastal botanicals including seaweed, samphire & seabeets as well as pink & black peppercorns. We have also started offering our very first range of Gin Cocktails, designed to enhance the flavours of the individual gins.

So there you have it. There is no excuses now, whether you like your food, are a wine buff, love your gin, enjoy cocktails or just a good beer, we have it all! Join us at the abar this  summer!


abar gin bar

We are launching our very own gin bar with lovely refreshing cocktails made by the amazing bar team.

why not try some…

Red Snapper, Elderflower Collins, Negroni, Gimlet, Orchard Wayfinder & Raspberry & Peach Bellini


Hiring Assistant Manager

Role: Assistant Restaurant Manager
Hours: 45 hours, over 5 shifts per week including weekends
Our opening hours:
11am – 11pm 7 days a week

What we will offer:

– Buzzing work environment
– Strong, friendly team
– Personal development and training
– Workplace pension scheme
– Free food when working
– 20% discount at all sister restaurants

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for an exceptional candidate to work within our management team. You will lead a team of dynamic, fresh-faced, hardworking staff. You should be excited about the industry and the potential for the business to evolve. Able to innovate and motivate, we don’t like to stand still and nor will our staff. We appreciate commitment, determination and dedication above and beyond the norm and will reward our staff accordingly. We are a well-established family run bistro restaurant with a focus on excellent wine and great quality food. Serving 200 covers on our busiest service, with a team of 8 chefs in the kitchen and 8 FOH staff on a shift.

The successful candidate will have:

  • A friendly and confident demeanour.
  • Exemplary customer service
  • Be ready to roll their sleeves up and get involved; a hands on attitude – leading by example
  • Exceptional eye for detail
  • Excellent communication skills
  • A flexible approach to working

Main roles and responsibilities:

  • Keyholder opening up and closing down securely.
  • Setting up for service and managing front of house & kitchen teams.
  • Provide exceptional customer service at all times and ensure staff are following your lead, building an excellent rapport with customers.
  • Dealing with customer issues.
  • Ensure high levels of cleanliness and hygiene are met at all times in line with Safer Food Better Business.
  • Train and develop front of house staff.
  • Cash handling and till reconciliation.
  • Stock Management: ordering and taking delivery of food, beverages & cleaning products, liaising with the kitchen team.
  • Writing the FOH rota.
  • Diary management in order to maximise covers.

This is a family run business and we require everyone in the team to be the best of the best at all times. Give us 110%, and we promise to give you the opportunity to have a fulfilling career with us.

Application process:

Email your CV to

Liberty & Boutinot Portfolio Tasting

What would be much better then spending your day surrounded by wine? Well being able to sample every single one of them and that is what I have been able to experience two times this week at the annual autumn portfolios for our suppliers.

We were invited up first on Tuesday to our Liberty portfolio wine tasting at the Oval Cricket Ground. The room was filled with excitable wine enthusiasts ready to find the next best thing for their store or restaurant! We wasted no time and headed over to the first sparkling and made our way through the fizz, whites and rose before stopping for a spot of lunch provided by Liberty Wines. Then no time to waste getting back  upstairs to sample the reds and find those winter warmers we are all looking for.

The fun didn’t stop there as only two days later on Thursday we shot back up to London to our Boutinot Autumn tasting, this time at Foyles Bookshop on Charing Cross Road. A much more intimate affair with a selection of limited parcels, new wines, best offers and new producers.

We found some great new wines that will be making an appearance on our wine list shortly. From Greek and Hungarian wines to great value chardonnays and syrah’s, we think we have successfully covered some good ground to accommodate everyone’s taste buds!

Camber Wines on Deliveroo!

We have some very exciting news to announce for Camber Wines and we couldn’t keep it in any longer, so here it is….

Camber Wines is joining the best delivery service team, deliveroo!

Your favourite wines can now be delivered to your doorstep every day of the week. With a selection of 17 of our portfolio wines on the menu, you will not fail to find one that tickles your fancy. Be it for a wine for a Friday night in with friends, wine to stock you up when you run low at a party or a wine that just suits sitting in the garden of a summers evening, there’s one for every occasion!

Keep an eye out for us on the deliveroo website and app from Wednesday 5th July!

Camber Wines to your doorstep!


Dave’s wine trip to the Rhone with Boutinot

I’ve always believed that our Boutinot Rhones ‘punched above’ their price points. All that has been confirmed during my visit to their  Southern Rhone estate in Cairanne last week. These wine are made with minimal handling, which means less grape skin breakages and therefore less tannins, and are good in the bottle for up to 5 years. Boutinot ‘Les Coteaux’ Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2014 is probably  the best value wine in our portfolio, a snip at just £8.50 a bottle.

If you’re having a gathering, or even a dinner party, why not take a magnum( 2 x bottle size) of ‘La Cote Sauvage’ Cairanne Cotes Du Rhone Villages. The bottle size gives a statement of intent for a good time and this Grenache /Syrah based varietal is ideal to suit all palettes. Well integrated oak with a big cherry nose and a big fruit palette, it is beautifully structured with smooth tannins after 2 years in barrell.

Anyone who knows me, knows of my obsession with Domaine La Haute Marone ‘Le Cru des Dentelles de Montmirail’ Gigondas. I’m sure I drink more than I sell. I just love it. It was amazing to meet Julien the winemaker who is also the man behind the rest of the Boutinot portfolio.

These fabulous Rhone wines have been a constant in Camber wines since our inception and will justifiably remain there with some new additions . ‘Les Cerisiers Rose’ 2016 perfect for this exceptional heatwave and look out for ‘Les six’ Cairanne, I’m on it!


Liberty wines kindly invited Shannon and Laura up to the London Oval cricket ground this week for their annual portfolio wine tasting. There were over 800 different wines to sample (safe to say our girls didn’t even make a dent) and a lovely lunch provided. Both Shannon and Laura had their minds set on different wines to try that they believe could not only broaden our wine list but also enhance it, and we are so excited about all our new finds we just can’t wait for you to try them.

So keep an eye on our adapting wine list throughout 2017…

…You may just find your new favourite!

Good luck Ben & the BAR team

The table is looking really tight, but we have complete faith in Ben and the team getting the winning points at this year’s America’s Cup race. Over the past two years, Ben and the team have been travelling around the world, competing in their AC45 catamarans, in order to finish top of the table at  the end of the series. They have competed in Chicago, New York, Oman, Bermuda & Gothenburg; what an accolade it is for the city of Portsmouth to be mentioned in the same breath as those great places. But now, Portsmouth and the waters of the solent take centre stage for the second time in consecutive years, with a chance for Ben and the team to be sitting top of the table at the end of the July weekend. #comeonBAR