Last Saturday evening the Yapp Brothers’ workforce and assorted partners (less two colleagues on holiday and one on paternity leave*) gathered at our Mere premises to enjoy a barbecue and some time off duty together.

As we spend most of our time recommending drinks to other people it seems only fair to record what we choose to serve ourselves when we are relaxing. Fortunately we were blessed with an evening of hazy sunshine and we kicked-off proceedings with a Montlouis Mousseux Brut from Michel and Laurent Berger, which we mixed with a splash of the Italian aperitif ‘Aperol’ that some friends from Rome had furnished us with. Although traditionally served with Prosecco this orange and herb-based infusion married wonderfully with the sparkling Chenin – giving a lovely orange colour and a really refreshing taste.

As Tom and I busied ourselves with serving salads and tending the grill we segued smoothly on to a very pale pink, super-dry, redcurrant-scented Coteaux du Cap Corse Rosé: Domaine Pieretti 2010, which is a blameless summer tincture that met with widespread approval. Experience has taught us to keep things simple at these ‘in house’ entertainments so the menu consisted of Scotch steak beef burgers and Toulouse sausages alongside potato salad, leaf salad, coleslaw and ‘back by popular demand’ Pippa’s ‘baked tomatoes with garlic, anchovies, thyme and cream’. Fredrik Filliatreau’s lightly-chilled, red Saumur ‘Château Fouquet’ 2010 made for a lovely savoury accompaniment to the food with its bright berry bouquet and supple tannins.

At this juncture it seemed a good time for some entertainment so Tom and I revived an old Yapp-family tradition – the ‘Grotto Challenge’. This task involves edging ones way cautiously around a large spring-fed pool off our courtyard without falling in – seemingly straightforward but deceptively difficult. Fortunately the old magic was still there and both of us managed to complete the circuit unscathed by way of demonstration. Our guests and colleagues were strangely reluctant to take up the open invitation to have a go themselves but our bold, young, departing intern James ‘the Firminator’ Firmin couldn’t resist the dropped gauntlet and I am happy to report rose to the occasion without taking an early bath.

After this diversion we returned to the garden for some cheese, including a memorably good, aged Manchego that we served with a Côtes du Provence ‘Cuvée Tradition’: Domaine Richeaume 2009 - which was a shameless personal indulgence but none the worse for that. Although still young it has lovely fondant tannins and a core of ripe cassis fruit – it is beautifully constructed wine and should get better and better with a bit of bottle-age.

We rounded the evening off with some rhubarb tart and a drop of Monbazillac: Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure 2007 which is a food and wine partnership it is hard to fault – much like the company on the evening.

*Congratulations to Charlie and Jodie on the birth on baby Oliver!