Popular Posts

Friday, 26 August 2016

Somm Guys (Have All The Luck)

Two wines sourced by Oscar Malek

What do somms drink? No, it's not the opening line to a joke; earlier this year, I helped sommelier and wine director Oscar Malek dispose inter alia of the last of his wine collection before a jaunt abroad.

It was a mixed bag of odds and sods - a fascinating dive, then, into someone else's tastes and preferences, all the better for coming from a top-notch source.

There were timeless classics, whether achingly trendy or horrendously unfashionable, and a couple of off-piste unicorn wines.

Two recent bottles:

Blandy's 20 year-old Terrantez, Madeira fragrant with a sherry-esque tang; complex bitter roasted spices and cigar-box aromas perfectly balanced with an unctuous fresh-sweetness. Long and substantial.

Very Good.

Match with a plate of roasted almonds and olives on a hot evening in the garden.

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2013, Canada deliciously sweet overripe roasted peaches in butter with complex beeswax and roasted sweet spices. Fresh, concentrated, intense and long.

Very Good.

Match with some full-flavoured cheeses.

Other related articles
Two Special-Day Wines
Afternoon tea with the MW Students

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Picnic - with CVNE Barrel Fermented Blanco

Another sunny day, another picnic by the river.

With a free day and the kids to entertain, we headed off to Grantchester Meadows for a picnic.

I packed some fizzy squash and a bottle of white Rioja from CVNE to accompany our food.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015 (£9.80, Waitrose, Wine Rack, Tanners) Ripe, fresh orchard fruit and galia melon; pure with long saline minerality. Elegant, substantial and deft.

Sealed with a screwcap, it is a perfect picnic wine. Also match with roast chicken or pork.

Other related articles
Five CVNE Riojas
Four CVNE Riojas

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Three Autumnal Wines

Three wines for autumn

The days are still warm, but as the nights turn cooler, we move on to more substantial wines.

López de Haro Blanco 2015 (£8.99 Hennings) a modern take on an old-school white Rioja; golden sandy colour with old-oak nose and ripe orchard fruits, long and fresh.

A versatile food wine. Good; very good value.

Rosa dei Masi della Venezie 2015 (£11.95, winedirect.co.uk) crisp, fresh red berries with a shake of white pepper; fresh, mineral and linear. Very adept.

Drink as an aperitif, with picnic food or goat's cheese and sun-dried tomato risotto.

Bodegas Pascual Buró 2012 (£14.50, swig.co.uk) a big-yet-fresh and refined wine with oaky spice with dark berry and black cherry fruit; fine tannins.


Match with roasted red meat.

Other related articles
Two Co-op wines

Saturday, 13 August 2016

A Suffolk Picnic With L'Insolite

A sunny and child-free weekend took us to the other end of East Anglia, specifically for a walk in Constable Country taking in Flatford Mill and Dedham.
Many years ago, I was taught that "the thing about Constable country is that it has more sky, odd as that may sound".

And it is true, even if the less-poetic explanation seems to be that the fields are simply larger and flatter.
Eshewing the delights of the Flatford Mill Constable Experience, after walking for a couple of hours, we opted to sit under a tree by the river for a picnic whilst boats pass by up and down the river.
Saumur Blanc « L’Insolite », Domaine des Roches-Neuves, Loire Valley, France 2014 ripe, honeyed and rich, but with a fresh appley-citrus zip; complex, with old-vine concentration. Very adept

Very Good.

Far too classy for all but the finest picnics, match with monkfish or pork.

The drive home takes us through Lavenham, with its Guildhall and "crooked houses" walk.

Other related articles
Stars of the Loire
Matching Loire Wines and Food‏ - with Fiona Beckett
Loire Masterclass at Berry's

Friday, 12 August 2016

Hospices de Beaujeu Morgon - From Vineyards Direct

A Beaujolais Cru via From Vineyards Direct

At its best, basic Beaujolais is a fresh-and-fruity glugger; a fresh, young red wine for easy drinking. The Beaujolais Crus offer something a little more complex but with the same cherry-fruited juiciness.

This Morgon via From Vineyards Direct is fuller and more substantial than a basic Beaujolais, but also has compelling, assertive vibrancy; it is quite a bargain, too.

Domaine Hospices de Beaujeu Morgon 2015 (£12.95) vibrant, zippy plum and black cherry fruit with sweet spice and and violets. Intense, fresh and persistent.


Drink slightly chilled as an aperitif or match with anything from mixed antipasti to lamb stew.

Despite its rather old-school name From Vineyards Direct is a relatively new outfit; set-up in 2006 by David Campbell, inventor of the Guide Hachette des Vins and holder of the Légion d’Honneur, with Esme Johnstone, former owner of Château de Sours and co-founder of Majestic Wine, it offers a small range of wines, imported directly from the growers.

Other related articles
Beaujolais Nouveau from M&S
Three Decades of Beaujolais

Thursday, 11 August 2016

The CWB CdP-off: Cellier des Princes

Two surprisingly fresh Chateauneuf-du-Pape wines from Cellier des Princes

I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. You know, that or, uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing.

- The Big Lebowski (1999)

Located in the Southern Rhone, Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the seat of the Papacy from 1309 to 1377; the wines, made from up to 18 grapes varieties (albeit Grenache is dominant) are traditionally packaged in distinctive, heavy dark wine bottles embossed with papal regalia and insignia.

Southerly, relatively low-lying, dried out by the mistral and with additional warmth from a surface layer of galets (round stones) that release warmth at night, CdP wines are typically big, alcoholic and substantial.

These two from Cellier des Princes are much fresher, but remain substantial. Both will match not just with traditional gamey red meats, but also white meats and cheese.

Both wines have also been awarded Gold medals.

Les Escondudes, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2013 Complex lifted red and dark berry fruit, liquorice, woodsiness, spice and freshness; supple and rounded with very fine tannins; long.

Very Good

Le Mourre, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, 2013 fresh red plum and cherry fruits with spices; supple, rounded tannins; beautiful aromatic length.

Very Good.

Cellier des Princes CdP at Tesco: http://www.tesco.com/wine/product/details/default.aspx?id=267280811

Other related articles
The Rhone Touch
Marques et Co-op

Friday, 5 August 2016

Olympic Wines

Three wines to support your Olympic team

Strictly, Olympic wines should probably be from Greece. Or Brazil.

However, these three wines all come from countries competing in the Olympics, so sit back, relax and pour one of these into your glass to toast the respective nation as they appear in the opening ceremony.
Dourthe N°1 Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Bordeaux Blanc (£8.50; The Wine Society) aromatic citrus and blackcurrant leaf, gooseberries passion fruit aromas and rounded elegant freshness. Clean, pure and substantial.

Match with pasta and pesto, monkfish in herb broth or garlic and herb roulade.

Very good value.

Clos de los Siete 2013, Argentina (£15; Sainsbury’s, Waitrose) Malbec blend ripe, slightly jammy bramble fruit and oaky spice, with a smooth and supple texture; balance full and harmonious.

Drinking nicely straight out of the bottle now, it will improve with aeration or bottle aging.


Match with roast lamb or other red meat.

10 Year Old Tawny Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny (£22; Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco) figs, raisin and roasted nuts with ripe berries and eucalyptus - an elegant, timeless classic.


Match with hard cheeses or chocolate-and-cherry torte.

Other related articles
Rugby and Polo: Bordeaux vs Argentina

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Shustov "5 Stars" Cognac

Shustov 5 Stars cognac

Based in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, Shustov dates back to 1863 and is now the largest distiller in Europe.

This five stars cognac is a blend of spirits aged for at least five years.

Shustov 5 stars expressive, floral and alcoholic nose; cooked mixed fruit and roasted nuts and sweet spices, soft and harmonious with a warm, lingering finish.

Match with dark chocolate.

Other related articles
Shabo Shabskiy 4

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Afternoon Tea With the MW Students

Afternoon tea with friends

To celebrate friends passing stage one of their MW, we got together for afternoon tea; I picked a selection of wines that I hoped would pass muster and headed off.

After sangria and bellinis to start - as one of our party noted, the sangria contains six of your five a day - we moved on to wines that do not benefit from being mixed with fruit.

Chablis Gilbert Picq et Fils 2013 citrus and mineral with concentrated, honeyed-floral old-vine richness - not a sipper, needs some food

2004 Glaetzer Godolphin, Barossa big, jammy, fruit forward Barossa Shiraz fruit bomb; a pumped-up, blue-collar, muscle car hero. Reminds me why I don't go for Barossa Shiraz

Cellier des Princes, Les Hauts du Coteaux, 2012 Chateauneuf du Pape from the "heights of the slopes", this is a fresher CdP than most; plummy-cherry fruit, savouriness and a supple elegance - the substance of the Rhone with the freshness of the Loire, lovely.

Finca Biniagual Veran, Binissalem, Mallorca 2011 a blend of indigenous Manto Negro with Syrah and Cab; red fruits, spice and eucalyptus, soft and rounded texture - the acidity belies the 15.5% alcohol and keeps it all in balance.

Taylor's 10yo Tawny Port figs, raisin and roasted nuts with ripe berries and eucalyptus - a timeless classic.

Castaño Monastrell Tinto, 2009 Yecla, Spain high-altitude red dessert wine from Spains; ripe blackcurranty nose, almost Ribena-esque, yet beautifully balanced and fresh with chocolate-cherry flavours - unusual and unexpected, yet also moreish.

Other related articles
Production-Method Wines
Americas Tasting 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Campo Alegre, Rueda - Francois Lurton

A classy Rueda Verdejo; Campo Alegre from Francois Lurton

I got to know Francois Lurton's wines at at South American tasting marking his 20 years there - this Rueda wine was a sample to try separately.

Campo Alegre 2015 a Verdejo from Rueda; ripe orchard fruit and sweet spices with aromatic notes; rounded, substantial and very adept. Good.

A versatile food wine, match with white meat such as pork or chicken, as well as creamy mushroom pasta.

Other related articles
Lurton South America tasting

Monday, 1 August 2016

Chablis: Bacchus on A Knife Edge Supper Club

A press tasting and dinner with Chablis wines, organised by PureChablis and led by Douglas Blyde at Andaz

Chablis is a miracle, a triumph over nature.

Centuries ago, the Cluniac monks brought their Beaunois vines to this challenging river valley cooled by damp, chilly air from the Serein.

Closer to Reims than to Dijon, Chablis may seem, climatically, more southerly Champagne than northern Burgundy.

However, where Champagne relies on secondary fermentation to give substance to an otherwise tart wine, in Chablis it is the Burgundian elements of terroir - vineyard aspect, elevation, exposure and undulation - rather than production method, that ultimately determine quality.
Moreover, Chablis shares with the rest of Burgundy a versatile food-friendliness that makes it more than just an aperitif - as this supper club set out to demonstrate.

For Chablis, winemaking is all about focus; one colour, one appellation, one soil type; the wines themselves are also characterised by a nervy, cool-climate precision.

From light and lemony Petit Chablis - a "junior" Chablis grown on more exposed hilltops on lesser soils - to rich and honeyed Grands Crus from one the seven top neighbouring plots all facing due south, the natural progression is start with entry-level sippers before moving to bigger and fuller Crus with weightier dishes.

Canapes, Nordish
Pas Si Petit, Petit Chablis 2014, La Chablisienne a light, elegantly citrussy match with miniature Norwegian fishcakes and remoulade, and curled cucumber filled with crab and avocado salad.

Starter, Pickled Plates
Alain Geoffroy, Chablis 2014 a deft, citrussy Chablis matched with summer vegetable salad of roasted radishes, brown butter dressing, pan-fried whiting and tempura samphire

Main, A Little Lusciousness
Julien Brocard, Chablis La Boissonneuse, 2014 organic and biodynamic, a rounded, complex, substantial Chablis with a touch of oak; flintsmoke, citrus and melon - long, full and mineral.

Very Good.

Matched with soy and miso-glazed pork chop on the bone with spring onion rice, Japanese raw slaw, rice vinegar and chilli dressing .
Cheese, England vs France

Chablis does not do dessert wines, so the final course was a cheese-off - with more Chablis:

- Stichleton (Nottinghamshire) vs. Bleu d’Auvergne
- Baron Bigod (Bungay) vs. Camember
- Montgomery Cheddar (Somerset) vs. Comté

Domaine William Fevre, Vaulorent, Premier Cru 2012 fresh, precise, mineral, with honeysuckle blossom and toastiness. Rich and adept, very elegant and muscular.
Very Good.

Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Valmur Grand Cru 2012 toasty, flintsmoke, honey, ripe orchard fruit, blossom and minerality. Long, linear and taut.
Very Good.

Clotilde Davenne Les Preuses Grand Cru 2008 ripe and honeyed with orchard fruit; mineral and delicately floral. Very elegant and harmonious.

Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2007 honeyed, floral and aromatic; mineral, poised and linear, quietly muscular, elegant and deft.
Very Good.

Other related articles
Pure Chablis - The Overview‏