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Monday 5 September 2022

The Cambridge Wine Blogger Is Dead. Long Live The Cambridge Wine Blogger

A platform alteration

I decided it was time to switch platforms, so this version of The Cambridge Wine Blogger is ending.

New reviews will appear on Medium.

You can find a link to my new blog here: Tom Lewis – Medium

Please check it out.

You can also keep up to date with my wine-related content elsewhere:

Twitter: Tom Lewis (@CambWineBlogger) / Twitter

Facebook: Tom Lewis | Facebook

Reviews on this site will stay up, but my intention is not to publish any more reviews here.

So long and thanks for all the fish.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

The CWB Fizz-Off

Three non-Champagne fizzes

Let's get fizzical, fizzical*

- Physical, Olivia Newton-John (1981)

Cambridge-born Olivia, like the Bee Gees before her, went off to Australia then made it big in the US in the late '70s.

I'd like to think she would have approved of this fizzical line-up.

Nozeco (£3.25 - £4.00, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison and Co-op)

An alcohol-free Prosecco lookalike, it is made from flavoured de-alcoholised wine from Spain; it is vegan and has fewer calories than regular wine. It costs less, too.

It sits somewhere between a sophisticated elderflower lemonade and a decent entry-level Prosecco, albeit without the alcohol, and has an IWSC Silver medal.

foams enthusiastically; elderflower, orange blossom and citrussy bergamot; crisp and refreshing with lemon-lime, sherbet and florality

Well-balanced and thoroughly pleasant.

Tesco Finest Prosecco DOC (£8.50, Tesco)

Made by Cantine Maschio using selected yeasts and aged for around one month at a controlled temperature of 12-15°C to preserves the fruit aromas.

Frothy, floral and citrussy; orchard and white stone fruits, sherbet, refreshing citrus and salinity. Crisp, clean and elegant

Well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.

Serve as an easy-drinking, crowd pleasing aperitif or with the lightest of canapés.

Gratien & Meyer Crémant De Loire Rosé NV (£12 , Tesco)

Founded in 1864, Gratien & Meyer are one of the leading producers of Cremant (traditional method sparkling wines) in the Loire. These are produced in the same way as Champagne, but sell for much less, making them a great value alternative for celebrations and special occasions.

A blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chenin, Cabernet Franc.

yeasty, biscuity brioche, creamy oatmeal and white pepper with citrus, florality and red berry fruits. Adept, with complex, savoury underpinnings.


Serve as an aperitif or match with shellfish, lighter curries and picnic foods such as hams, quiches and chicken drumsticks.

*lyrics may not be 100% correct.


Other reviews:

Friday 26 August 2022

Southern Hemisphere Crisp White and Big Red

Crisp White and Big Red from the southern hemisphere - South Africa's Rustenberg and Chile's Montes

Crisp White and Big Red is a classic dinner combination; starting with France, you might look to the Loire and Bordeaux or Chablis and the Rhône.

Further afield, but staying in the Old World, a Riesling and a Barolo or Rioja would work equally well.

Here is a southern hemisphere / New World take on the same concept using classic (i.e. French) grape varieties; South African unoaked Chardonnay and Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Chardonnay has a classic unoaked flavour profile, just with more warmth and ripeness, so think Macon rather than Chablis, even if some of the fruit has a ripe-yet-green tinge.

The Cab is similarly more fruited and riper than Bordeaux, with New World's signature cassis and green pepper.

Rustenberg Wild Ferment Unwooded Chardonnay, (£12, Tesco)

This is Rustenberg's first ever unoaked Chardonnay; the aim was to create a wine that, without the influence of oak, expresses the varietal character and generosity of Chardonnay when the finest fruit is vinified for this purpose. Lees ageing adds palate weight and complements the wine's citrus fruit profile to create a wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with food. 

Arguably the most famous wine-producing region in South Africa, the vineyards of Stellenbosch take advantage of the area's topography and vineyards sit on the lower slopes of the Helderberg and Simonsberg ranges.

From the Stellenbosch region of South Africa, this Chardonnay is hand-picked and wild-fermented, with native yeasts found on the fruit and in the vineyard, in stainless steel tanks; it is then aged on lees for 3 months for more complexity.

This wine is a blend of different component vineyards, picked at different times of ripeness, some early for freshness and some late for fruit expression. Part of the batches are crushed and destemmed and part are whole bunch pressed, each technique giving a different mouth feel to the resultant wines.

floral and heady with exotic fruits and perfumed honeysuckle; orchard fruits, yellow stone fruits, greengage, sweet spices and salinity with some rich, leesy underpinnings and mid-palate complexity.

Drinks nicely on first pouring.


A versatile food wine, match with seafood, white meat and creamy cheese dishes such as tarte flambée.

Montes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, (£9, The Co-op)

I've reviewed Montes' oaky Chardonnay from Chile previously and been impressed - see here and here.

Would their Cab be as good, I wondered?

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most-widely planted grapes in the world, but is rarely made into a varietal wine as it often needs some rounding out from another variety, In this case, there is 15% Merlot added for plush, juicy freshness, making this a classic Bordeaux blend.

45% of the wine is aged for 8 months with 2nd and 3rd use French oak barrels.

lifted, fruit-forward blackberries and blackcurrants with nutmeg, peppery vanilla spice, pencil shavings and some woodsy undergrowth; juicy, plush and fresh with red and black fruits, coffee grounds and cocoa; supple, well-integrated tannins, mintiness and a supple texture.


Drinks nicely on first pouring but opens up with aeration; will repay some cellaring.

Match with char-grilled meats, lamb, darker game or tuna steak.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Two Wines From New Zealand's Jackson Estate

Two wines from New Zealand's Jackson Estate

New Zealand's Jackson estate is based in Marlborough, at the tip of the South Island, an area world famous for its Sauvignon Blancs.

Jackson's website says:

Lying at 41.3 degrees south, Marlborough has about the same amount of heat as Burgundy and slightly less than Bordeaux.

In these bright but relatively “cool” climate conditions, the grapes have the advantage of a long slow, flavour-intensifying ripening period. The average daily temperatures during summer is nearly 24 degrees Celsius but clear cool nights keep acid levels high in the grapes.

Marked diurnal (day/night) temperature variations are a key factor behind the ability of Marlborough grapes to retain both fresh, vibrant fruit and crisp, herbaceous characters. The temperature contrast also helps to enhance the flavour development in the skins of Pinot Noir.

Within Marlborough viticulture has been developed primarily on sites with moderate low fertility and a noticeably stony, sandy loam top soil overlaying deep layers of free-draining shingle, as found in the viticulturally developed areas of the Wairau Valley.

These shallow, fast draining, low fertility soils help to produce a lush, aromatic ripe wine that results in vines with less vigour. The region currently has over 27,000 hectares of land planted vineyard, primarily located within the Wairau Valley.

Marlborough is now New Zealand’s largest wine region – producing some 79% of the country's wine. 

When combining the climate we enjoy with our soil profile this is what makes Marlborough unique and providing its distinctive flavours.

I first came across Jackson's wines a decade ago and was impressed with them then and on later re-acquaintance.

Jackson Estate Stich Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (£14, Ocado, Waitrose, Majestic)

Stich Sauvignon Blanc is named in recognition of John ‘Stich’ Stichbury, founder of Jackson Estate.

lifted aromatics of lemongrass, lime zest, exotic fruits and herbal murkiness: white stone fruits, melon, and citrussy gooseberry-grapefruit with zippy lime and leesy Brazil nut and cashew underpinnings. Fresh, complex and adept.


Drinks nicely in first pouring; will repay some cellaring.

Match with ham hock terrine and parsley, saltimbocca or meaty white fish in a herby broth.

Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2018 (£21, Ocado)

Vintage Widow is named in recognition of the families at Jackson Estate, who are often forgotten at vintage as they strive to make the perfect bottle of Pinot Noir.

soft red berries, cherries, dried green herbs and spicy, mushroomy undergrowth; supple and fresh with red fruits, spice, rubbed sage, soft-yet-firm, rounded and well-integrated tannins, toasty-grilled notes and salinity.


Drinks nicely on first pouring; can be cellared to gain further complexity.

Match with darker game, such as aromatic duck breast, venison meatballs or a mutton stew.

Friday 19 August 2022

New York Chardonnay Show-Down

New York State Chardonnays vs the rest of the world


- Mr Incredible, The Incredibles (2004)

Crafted in New York, but inspired from everywhere, New York is a unique community of passionate producers who approach winemaking with a multitude of personalities and backgrounds—they’re not alike, and they like it that way.

Wine has been made in New York since the 17th century and its unique history of hybrid cultivars paired with an increasing amount of planted Vitis vinifera has positioned the region as one of the most diverse and resilient.

In New York wines you’ll find subtlety, depth and nuance; it’s no surprise that they’ve found a place on the global stage, alongside other great wine regions of the world.

These tasting took a look at New York’s star varieties side by side with other great wine regions of the world, exploring the common threads as well as the varied approaches to viticulture and winemaking.

New York wines

Chardonnay has a relatively long history in New York state, being one of the first grape varieties planted there and making a name for itself from the 1970s onwards, but today remains somewhat in the shadow of Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

Fox Run Vineyards, Doyle Family Chardonnay 2020 Finger Lakes, NY ($14, seeking distribution in the UK)

Founded in 1990, an hour's flight from the ocean, it has a continental climate; on the same latitude as Rioja and Tuscany, it suffers from spring frosts however bud-break is late. 8% Traminette in the blend for some "fruit salad" character; no oak or lees aging, made from purchased fruit that enjoys afternoon suns.

Easy-drinking and popular wine that does well in the restaurant trade.

citrus and orchard fruits; white stone fruits, green apple and pears; lean, sinewy, fresh and harmonious.

Well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.

Wolffer Estate, Perle Chardonnay 2019 Long Island NY ($32, Seeking distribution in the UK)

Based in The Hamptons, Long Island with a moderate maritime climate; milder winters, no spring frosts and cooler summers. On the same latitude as Madrid and Naples, giving plenty of sunshine for ripening and a long hang time for minerality and elegant fruit.

Small-cluster vines for even ripening, barrel fermented, canopy management and air flow reduce diseases and give long hang time. Hand picked and pressed immediately with 48 hours' skin contact, fermented in 90% new French oak with around 8 months on the lees and almost no battonage. 

bruised apple, white stone fruits and florality; orchard fruits, creamy-leesy roasted brazil nuts and oatmeal, saline minerality and orange peel; rich, complex and savoury, long and elegant.

Very Good.

Nathan Kendall, Chardonnay 2020 Finger Lakes, NY ($33, Master of Malt, Whisky Exchange, 9 Elms Wines)

West-side grapes with morning sun, 50yo vines; hand picked and foot-stomped for phenolic extraction, spontaneous fermentation in old barrels with 11m aging on lees and no stirring, partial malo

bruised orchard fruits, toastiness and florality; fresh with zippy lime, citrussy acidity and spice; saline-mineral with good texture, delicate finesse and elegance.

Very Good.


Errazuriz Wines, Aconcagua Costa Chardonnay 2019 Chile (£17.50, Ocado, Noel Young Wines, Hop Cellar)

Modern style, full-bodied with reductive winemaking, 45% malo, 100% old oak.

aromatic minty herbs, zippy lime and struck match; refreshing lime marmalade, gooseberries and greengage with minty vanilla, honeysuckle citrus, orchard fruits and nutty, leesy complexity.

Very Good.

New Zealand

Villa Maria Wines Taylors Pass Chardonnay 2019 (£15.99, nzhouseofwine)

Awatere Valley fruit, 100% barrel fermented, 50% wild ferment, full malo with 11 months on the lees.

struck match, fresh orchard fruits and bruised crab apple skins; fresh, linear and precise with green apple, lime zest, white stone fruits and broad savouriness

Very Good.

France, Chablis

Jean Durup, Chablis 2021 (€16, not currently available in the UK)

From the difficult 2021 vintage, no oak influence, cool climate, kimmeridgian soils.

citrus, lemongrass and rubbed sage; fresh and saline with honeydew melon, white stone fruits, lime zest and honeysuckle; broad and savoury with leesy oatmeal.

Very Good.


Image credits: Susana Kawai

Further reviews:

Susana Kawai: Food with Susi on Instagram: "Chardonnay Show Down - New York State of Wine Have you tried a Chardonnay from New York State? In a glance: The climate is continental…"

The Buyer: The_Buyer on Twitter: "Part 2 @TheBuyer11 importers debate with @NYWineGrapeFdn producers looks at the wine styles that buyers think have the most potential to do well in the UK and why the region has much to offer with cool climate, fresh, pure fruit forward, acid driven wines https://t.co/6gyKZZE5mF https://t.co/hbBn4u3RFJ" / Twitter

Saturday 13 August 2022

Banfi La Pettegola 2021 Vermentino

A Vermentino from Tuscany's Banfi Wines via Ocado and independents

Banfi La Pettegola is a fresh and juicy example of a variety that could become a flagship grape for Italy; Vermentino is claimed to be Italy's most fabulous and fashionable wine.

This La Pettegola is an easy-drinking style, an alternative to standard white wine choices, placed somewhere between unoaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc with a throwback to Albarino, Gruner Veltliner and Godello.

It is from coastal Tuscany and thrives on sea breezes with poor soils and some altitude. Crafted from the best grapes from Banfi’s Maremma vineyards in Southern Tuscany, the vines are at around 150 metres altitude in well drained, sandstone soils.

The grapes are gently pressed, destemmed and fermented entirely in temperature controlled stainless steel to preserve the fresh, floral and fruity character of the wine. It then spends three months on lees for a more complex texture and finish. 

Also known as ‘Rolle’ in Provence, it is used as a component in the fashionable white and rosé wines of the South of France. High in phenols, it can be made in a fresh, saline style, or with a creamier, richness, depending on how the wine is handled in the cellar.

La Pettegola's name has a double meaning. The coastal seabird that gives its name to this wine is the redshank, ‘la Pettegola’ in Italian. The bird’s chattering call gives a second meaning ‘the gossip’, so it is a wine for gossiping over.

Banfi La Pettegola 2021 (£16, Ocado, Bon Coeur Fine Wines, Penistone Wines

floral, mint and garrigue herbs, pear drops and white pepper; ripe yellow stone fruits, grapefruit, peach kernels, leesy-savoury cashew and Brazil nut; textured full and supple.

Drinks nicely on first pouring and opens up further with some aeration.


Drink as a summer sipper or match with canapés, seafood, grilled chicken or roasted vegetable salads.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Two Rosés from Tesco

Two Provence rosés from Tesco

Provence is to rosé as Champagne is to fizz; the standard against which all other wines are judged - for better or worse.

As a result, Provence rosés can command a significant price premium, especially if they are celebrity endorsed; however, the good news is that these two are keenly priced, albeit you do pay a little extra for the Studio's star credentials vs the Tesco own-label.

And a note on the power of branding for those who think it is all about the liquid inside the bottle; I offered these around the table in the garden on a sultry summer's eve. "Anyone want want some Brangelina wine?" I asked.

"Ooh, Brangelina wine, yes please, I'll have some of that!" said Mrs CWB, grabbing the bottled and enthusiastically filling up glasses for herself, her sister and the other ladies around the table.

In that context, a tasting note is somewhat redundant here - this is an enjoyable pink from a sun-kissed part of France made by a glamorous Hollywood power ex-couple and that's all you really need to know.

Tesco Finest Provence Rosé (£9)

This elegant and refreshing Provence Rosé is carefully sourced from picturesque vineyards that spend the year basking in the Mediterranean sun. Delicious stone fruit flavours are balanced with notes of fresh strawberries and redcurrants to create this crisp, delicate and dry wine with its signature pale pink colour. Pairs perfectly with seafood and antipasti.

red berry fruits, delicate mint and watermelon; white stone fruits, conference pears and red berries with white pepper, sweet spices and a leesy richness; broad and harmonious with good underpinnings

Drinks nicely on first opening.

A summer sipper, it will match well with picnic foods or cold cuts

Studio by Miraval (£12)

Blend of equal parts Cinsault, Grenache, Tibouren and Rolle (aka Vermentino); all the varieties are vinified by direct pressing.

The Cinsault and Tibouren in Stainless steel vats. The Grenache & Rolle are partially vinified in tulip-shaped concrete vats with a rounded bottom. This ovoid shape gives rise to a natural convection movement that suspends the lees creating the same effect as a batonnage and gives the wine a lot of structure.

very pale, slightly toasty; soft red-berry fruits, citrus and white fruits, white pepper and leesiness with saline minerality; elegant and pure.

Well-made and thoroughly pleasant.

A pleasant sipper, match with picnic food.