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Sunday, 31 December 2017

NYE Fizz from Martini

Two bottles of Italian fizz from Martini for New Year's Eve - available at Ocado

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one.
Without any fear.

- "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" John & Yoko / Plastic Ono Band, 1971

New Year's Eve requires fizz, generally not the best stuff - which you will have already consumed over Christmas.

These two bottles of fizz from Italy's Martini are enjoyable and inexpensive easy-drinking.

Martini Rosé (£6.99, Ocado) ripe, soft red-berry fruits with zippy freshness; juicy and uncomplicated.

Martini Asti DOCG (£6.99, Ocado) aromatic, floral, sherbetty and sweet - light in alcohol and fresh, it is like fizzy elderflower lemonade.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Christmas Wines from Your Sommelier

Three Christmas Wines from Your Sommelier

I've been very impressed with Your Sommelier's wines before - and equally underwhelmed by their somewhat Gallic approach to marketing; awkward name, clumsy website, clunky offers.

The A5 hand-outs and folder that came with these wines bespoke enthusiasm, but were reminiscent of a '90s Laithwaites offer, but there is no doubting the quality of the wines.

Crémant d'Alsace Blanc de Blancs Brut N.V. - Domaine Vincent Stoeffler (£13.90) fresh, fruited and floral with citrus, creaminess and white stone fruits; fine mousse and mineral backbone. Poised, well-defined and elegant.


Drink as a aperitif or match with oysters, shellfish or pork rilletes.

Château Moulin de l'Espérance "Cuvée Ulysse" 2014 - Bordeaux Supérieur (£12.00) Merlot-dominated Bordeaux blend; juicy red-berry fruit with coffee grounds, pencil shavings, sous-bois and leather. Spicy and peppery with fine tannins and a supple texture; fresh and long. Needs extensive aeration - or several years' cellaring.


Match with roasted red meat.

Gros Manseng Moelleux 2016 Côtes de Gascogne - Vignoble des Aubas (£10.90) more off-dry than a dessert wine; aromatic, slightly pungent with tropical pineapple, guava and passionfruit, beeswax and honey. Sweet-but-fresh and mineral.


Dry and fresh enough for an aperitif, match with soused salmon or fresh fruit flan.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Virgin Wines for Christmas - Rioja

A Rioja from Virgin Wines

With sweet, ripe fruit, Sapin's warm-climate Rioja is a great winter wine that matches well with roasts  - perfect for Christmas, then.

Finca Los Principes La Canada Rioja 2016 (£10.99) ripe, juicy red and black berry fruit with sweet vanilla, roast peppery spice and liquorice; fresh, juicy and supple with a firm, mineral core. Will improve with aeration or bottle aging. Very enjoyable.

Match with roast red meat, especially lamb with garlic and rosemary - or a Christmas roast with all the trimmings.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

English Fizz - Two Wines from Denbies

A brace of vintage, single-grape English fizzes from Denbies

Now I believe in miracles
And a miracle has happened tonight
But, if you're thinkin' about my baby
It don't matter if you're black or white

- Michael Jackson, Black or White (1991)

These two English fizzes are both, technically, white wines - however, one is made exclusively from black grapes, the other from exclusively white.

Made from the finest hand-selected grapes from Denbies’ single estate vineyard, and bottle-aged for 27 months, these premium English sparklers are now available to buy online at www.denbies.co.uk.
Denbies Cubitt Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2013 (£42) zero-dosage sparkling Chardonnay; pale straw colour with green apple, citrus, orchard fruits and yeasty brioche; fresh, mineral, leesy, long and substantial. Will repay extended cellaring.

Good now to Very Good in 5 years.

Drink with roast white meats such as chicken or monkfish in a beurre noisette sauce.

Denbies Cubitt Reserve Blanc de Noirs 2013 (£34) made from hand-picked Pinot Noir from Denbies’ vineyard; pale gold, delicate red fruits and farmyardy nose with yeasty brioche; creamy and full with baked pear fruit and hints of strawberry; fine mousse, freshness and a mineral backbone.

Will improve with age.


Drink with pate or game.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Special Christmas Drinks From The Co-op

Two special Christmassy drinks from The Co-op

Christmas is a time for special drinks - not just superior versions of what we might normally drink, but drinks that are inherently associated with Christmas; Champagne's fizz suits the celebratory mood perfectly, whilst a sip of mellow aged spirit allows us time to relax.

The fizz follows a tradition of great, and great value, Champagnes from the Co-op; it recently won a Gold Medal at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine Championships. The whisky has a silver from the IWSC and is also great value for a whisky of this age.

Les Pionniers, Champagne 2006 (£25.99) Golden sandy yellow, it is complex, precise and assured, with orchard fruits and hints of redcurrant, musky melonskin, yeasty-biscuitiness and a fine mousse; taut citrus acidity, some aged, nutty character and a persistent minerality.

Very Good.

Crisp enough for an aperitif, but will match well with seafood starters and roast guineafowl.

Co-op Irresistible 12 Year old Scottish Highland Whisky £23.49 (70cl) golden, mahogany toffee colour, with a complex nose of citrus, sandalwood and roasted spices; cooked mixed fruit, pastry shop, sweet vanilla and complex dark sherry flavours.

Warming, assertive and persistent.

Good value and Very Good.

Match with haggis, dark chocolate and espresso and a crackling log fire.

If you are looking for table wines to match your Christmas dinner itself, the Co-op recommends these:

Fish starter silver winner, New Zealand Irresistible Explorer’s Sauvignon Blanc (£7.49)
Festive main silver winner, Australian Henry's Drive Shiraz (£16.99)
Cheeseboard silver winner, Finca Las Moras Barrel Select Malbec (£7.99)

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Win The Trip of a Lifetime to New Zealand with Villa Maria Wines

Win a holiday in New Zealand with Villa Maria

New Zealand winery Villa Maria is giving wine drinkers the chance to win the trip of a lifetime to New Zealand.

Just look out for special bottles of Villa Maria in major retailers including Sainsburys, Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Co-op and Majestic and independent wine shops for a chance to win.

Two trips are up for grabs; each trip includes:

· Return economy flights for the winner and one guest from the UK to New Zealan
· 10 nights’ accommodation
· Self-drive car rental for 10 days
· NZ$2000 spending money

Shoppers can enter via a hidden URL and entry code found on stickers or neck collars on a range of Villa Maria Private Bin wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir bottles.

The competition ends on 19th February 2018 and lucky winners will be drawn on 24th February 2018.

Villa Maria's wines are characterful, deft and well-made - so great to have around at Christmas for entertaining. If you fancy a change from the standard kiwi Sauvignon, try this Pinot Grigio.

Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Grigio 2017 aromatic, fresh and mineral with ripe orchard fruits, sweet spice and a leesy richness. Harmonious and well-balanced, very enjoyable.

Drink as an aperitif or match with seafood or white meats.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

When In Rome - Barbera

A Northern Italian Bag-in-Box wine  from When in Rome

To people of a certain generation, Bag-In-Box wine is associated with bulk generic plonk for house parties - but, like prawn cocktails, pork pies and facial hair, there's nothing so "out" that it can't be rendered hipster with some ironic functional packaging, bold typeset and upmarket distribution.

When In Rome specialises in Italian made from small independent producers; the brand launched last year and is now available at Waitrose and Harvey Nichols and independent wine merchants at £25.99 per 2.25 litre box (equivalent to three bottles that will last up to six weeks).
Barbera - DOC Piemonte raspberry and red plum fruit with sour-cherry freshness, some woodsy-earthiness, spice and fine, gentle tannins. Deft and well-made; far too good for spilling on the carpet at a suburban house-warming.

Good - and Good Value.

Match with rich dark meats, mushrooms and roast dinners.

The full When In Rome range includes:
  • Nero D’Avola - IGP Terre Siciliane
  • Pinot Grigio - IGT Venezia Giula
  • Barbera - DOC Piemonte
  • Merlot - IGT Veneto
  • Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso - IGP Venezia Giula
  • Rosato - IGT Venezia Giula Beneventano
  • Falanghina IGT
  • Sauvignon - IGT Venezia Giula
  • Dolcetto - DOC Piemonte
  • Marche IGP Bianco (Verdiccho)
  • Marche IGP Rosso

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Virgin Wines for Christmas - Brouilly

A Beaujolais Cru from Virgin Wines

At Christmas you need a range of wines for all occasions - this juicy and gluggable Brouilly (the largest Cru in Beaujolais, situated around Mont Brouilly) is perfect for lunchtimes or afternoon tea, say with cold cuts on Boxing Day.

With trademark Beaujolais freshness, drink this either as a warm-up to bigger wines with your Christmas roast or as a pick-me-up to refresh palates after a day of Christmas pudding and mince pies.

Domaine Les Roches Bleues Brouilly 2016 juicy black cherry and raspberry fruit with lifted spice and freshness. Substantial, mineral core with very fine tannins and good length. Pure and adept.

Good and Good Value.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Martini Prosecco

Prosecco from Martini - available at Ocado

It's an oversimplification - but not necesssarily and unhelpful one - to say that Prosecco is a poor man's Champagne. In the same way that a two-seater Fiat is a poor man's Ferrari.

There is enjoyment to be had, perhaps fewer tears and certainly a lower price.

This Martini Prosecco is a perfect fizz for everyday drinking over Christmas or to keep handy in case of unexpected visitors.

Martini Prosecco (£6.99, Ocado) light, very fresh and mineral-citrussy-sherbety; elegant, well-made and thoroughly enjoyable.

Good Value.

Drink as an aperitif, with light starters or cold cuts - it is fresh enough to cut through a wide range of foods.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Two Bordeaux Wines for Christmas

Two special Bordeaux wines from Dourthe for Christmas - available from The Wine Society and the Co-op

Christmas is a time to try out some better-quality wines - with good food and good company. These two Bordeaux, a mature red and a sticky, cost a little more but come with  impeccable credentials, are good value for the money and won't disappoint.

Château La Garde 2010 Pessac-Leognan (£23, The Wine Society) classic mature Bordeaux, with cassis, red plum fruit, spice and cedarwood; fresh and mineral with very fine tannins and a firm, muscular core. Drinking nicely now, will continue to improve for many years

Very Good.

Match with a Christmas roast, Boxing Day cold cuts or a beefy stew.

Château Roumieu 2014 Sauternes (£12.99, Co-op - half-bottle) apricots, honeysuckle blossom, beeswax and candied lemons; sweet tropical fruits, sherbet, acacia honey, Sicilian lemons and overripe peaches with some musky beeswax. Long, sweet-sour-savoury and complex.

Very Good.

Match with crème brûlée or lemon torte.