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Friday, 26 January 2018

An Australia Day Chardonnay From The Co-op

An Aussie Chardonnay for Australia Day from The Co-op

January 26th is Australia Day, so how better to mark it than with a Truly Irresistible Aussie Chardonnay?

Decades ago, Australia shook up the wine world with its bottles of sunshine-in-a-glass; in the inevitable backlash that followed, we all went for zingy kiwi Sauvignon and Australian wines became lean and skinny.

This chardie treads a deft path with plenty of ripe fruit, but also enough zip and not too much oak; an Aussie chardie that has shed the flab and buffed up.

Co-op Irresistible Australian Chardonnay, £6.99 (Australia) ripe peach and stone-fruit with fresh citrus, minerality and some toasty-oaky leesiness and creamy-nuttiness. Deft and adept, very enjoyable and well-made.

Good and Good Value.

Fresh enough for an aperitif, match with starters or roasted white meats.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

#ADT2018 - Top 50 Australian Wines

The Top 50 Wines from 2018's Australia Day tasting

With over 1,000 wines on show from this continent-sized country, there was no chance of tasting my way round anything more than a small sample, so I checked out the Top 50 Wines.

With prices ranging from £10 - £30+, these were all well-made, sophisticated wines with no rough edges and a European sense of balance and restraint; the fruit and cleanliness were definitely New World, but were matched to a compelling Old World freshness and complexity.
My "best of the best":

Croser NV, Adelaide Hills (£17, Fine Wine Partners) traditional-method fizz; fresh and elegant, with florality, orchard fruits and a creamy texture. Good.

Domaine Naturaliste SB / Semillon Sauvage 2014, Margaret River (£25, Hayward Bros) flintsmoke and toastiness with stone fruits and leesy oakiness. Very Good.

Giant Steps Chardonnay 2015, Yarra Valley (£19.99, Liberty) smoky and zesty with stone fruits and a nutty, full-bodied texture. Very deft and harmonious. Very Good.
Paringa Estate Peninsula Pinot Noir 2016, Morington Peninsula (£26.99, Hallgarten Druitt) sweet and earthy with black cherries and spice; savoury and long.Very Good.

Salena Estate Twisted Sticks Organic CS, 2015 (£11.45, Riverland) fresh and blackcurranty with rounded tannins; Good and Good Value.

Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Vineyard CS, 2013, Margaret River (£29.95, Laytons) rich and refined with excellent structure. Very Good.

Petaluma Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Coonawarra (£38, Fine Wine Partners) red and black fruits with spices and florality. Complex, long and textured. Very Good.

Cullen Mangan Vineyard Merlot Malbec Petit Verdot 2016, Margaret River (£24.99, Liberty Wines) fresh, savoury, earthy with dark fruits, supple texture and a grippy finish. Very Good.

Domaine Naturaliste Discovery 2014 Margaret River (£17.99, Hayward Bros) fresh and peppery with black fruits. Good.
Robert Oatley Finisterre Syrah 2013, Great Southern (£23.50, Hatch Mansfield) dark fruits and spice; fresh, mineral and earthy. Very Good.

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2016 (£24.99, Liberty) ripe. rich fruit; complex and approachable with fine tannins. Very Good.

Shaw + Smith Shiraz 2015, Adelaide Hills (£29.99, Liberty) black fruits, olives and savouriness; supple, elegant and Rhonesque. Very Good.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Three Wines From Sud De France Top 100

Three wines from Sud de France Top 100

Wines from southern France combine warmth and ripeness with balance and freshness - perfect for wintry months, then.

Henri de Richemer Sauvignon, 2016, IGP Côtes de Thau (£6 - £7.99, Bijou Bottles) warmer-climate substantial Sauvignon; aromatic with ripe orchard and peach fruit, freshness and minerality. Clean and fresh.

Match with mixed starters.

Paul Mas Vinus, Malbec 2016, IGP Pays d'Oc (£6 - £7.99, Morrison's) Malbec and Cab Franc blend; prune and elderberry fruit, spice and earthiness with raspberry-leafiness; fresh and supple with fine, persistent tannins.

Good and good value.

Match with darker game.

Les Hauts de Saint Martin 2016, Saint-Chinian 2016 (£6.99, The Co-op) GSM+C blend; dried garrigue herbs, woodsy-eartiness, mixed berry fruit and warming spices; fresh, supple and adept.

Good and good value.

Match with roasted red meats, hearty stews and chorizo.

Saturday, 20 January 2018


A January-Veganuary wine from the Co-op

January is not the cheeriest of months, so you can respond in one of two ways - a complete detox, including, should you choose, the forsaking not just of meat but all animal products.

Or you can cheer yourself up with some something indulgent, like a ripe and warming southern-hemisphere wine.

With this Truly Irrestistible Malbec, The Co-op enables you to do both at once.

The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Bio Bio Malbec 2015 (£6.99) big, bold spicy yet classy Chilean red - screwcapped and drinking beautifully. Made from Argentina's signature Malbec, it is dark purple; dark fruits, complex oaky spice and cigar box; ripe elderberries, bramble fruit and black cherries with roasted spices, freshness and supple tannins.

Poised, balanced and adept.


Match with roasted spiced aubergine - or at other times of the year, a juicy steak.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Win BAFTA Wines

WIN – Wines served at the EE BAFTA Film Awards courtesy of Champagne Taittinger and Villa Maria 

On 18th February, the great and the good of the film world will come together to celebrate the best in film at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2018. To celebrate the occasion, readers of this blog can win an exclusive BAFTA-labelled bottle of Champagne Taittinger Brut Réserve NV and Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Noir 2016 - the same wines that guests will be enjoying during the BAFTA awards ceremony evening.

To enter:

Just add a comment to this post and tell me if a film was made of your life, what would it be called and who would play the part of you?

Closing date is Feb 10th and one of the BAFTA team will judge the entries.

About the wines:

Champagne Taittinger and Villa Maria’s partnerships with BAFTA pay tribute to their support and love of the arts.

Taittinger is the only leading Champagne house to remain owned and actively managed by the family named on the label.

Villa Maria has been New Zealand’s most awarded winery for over 30 years and remains proudly family-owned.

Terms & Conditions: Entrants must be 18 or over and must provide a mainland UK address and telephone number for delivery.

Visit www.bafta.org for more information.

Monday, 15 January 2018

More Pizzas, Pots and Pints

Cambridge is to get a second Pizza, Pots and Pints, the award-winning artisan pizza-and-beer pub from Charles Wells.

The chain first launched in Cambridge in 2015 at The Salisbury Arms and is to open another site at The Carpenter’s Arms on Victoria Road at the end of March 2018, making this the fifth Pizza, Pots and Pints in the region.

If you like the sound of freshly made artisan pizzas, cooked in wood-fired ovens, warming terracotta pots of comfort food like mac n cheese with bottled craft beers, pints of cask ale, and wines and spirits from across the world, plus events and menu deals such as 2-4-1 Mondays, Live Music on a Friday, or Sunday Roast, there will always be something happening at The Carpenter’s Arms that locals can be a part of.

If you can't wait until March, check out The Salisbury Arms in the meantime.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Three Wines from Austria's Höpler - And A Wine Club

Weingut Höpler from Austria's Burgenland

Burgenland is the lower-lying corner of south-east Austria near the Hungarian border and Lake Neusidl; warmed by southerly breezes, the region produces perhaps Austria's greatest variety of wines, with reds, whites and dessert wines all performing well.

The hallmark Burgenland wines is a generous, southerly warmth and ripeness that is very different to, say, the steely, poised focus of the Wachau.

Family-owned winery Höpler, based in Burgenland, has just launched the Höpler Wine Club; twice a year, the club will provide the opportunity to discover a selection of six exclusive wines from Höpler, not yet widely available in the UK.

I tried out a white, red and a sticky.

Gruner Veltliner 2016 (£12.50, Great Western Wines) classic gruener aromas of white pepper, elderflower and puy lentils with ripe, fleshy stone fruits, substantial texture and a fresh, mineral backbone.


Match with a plate of antipasti, meaty white fish or roast white meats.

Blaufrankisch 2013 (£12.95, Great Western Wines) fresh dark cherry and elderberry fruits with complex roasted spices and fine tannins. Fresh, long and mineral.


Match with meaty fish or darker game.

Höpler, TBA (37.5cl) , 2015 (£22.50, Great Western Wines) oily and viscous late-harvest, botrytised sticky, full of roasted peaches, clove and nutmeg spice, beeswax and honey only just held in check by a mineral freshness.


Match with rich desserts, such as sticky toffee pudding or pecan and date tart.

For more details on Wine Club membership visit: http://www.hoepler.at/files/uk_membership_details_1.pdf

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Whisky for Burns Night - Isle Of Jura 10 Year Old Single Malt

A single malt whisky from The Co-op

From the mountainous Inner Hebrides island of Jura, this whisky is sweet, peaty and easy-drinking - perfect for a Burns supper with friends.

Isle Of Jura 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky (£35.49 - reduced to £24.99 from 24 Jan – 13 Feb 2018 inclusive) lightly peaty with spicy citrus, florality and honey; sweet and heather-honeyed with nutmeg, allspice and cloves finishing with a warm sweetness.


Match with cock-a-leekie soup, haggis and cranachan; or just sip after dinner.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Beating Blue Monday - Viña Real

Tell me, how do I feel
Tell me now, how should I feel

- Blue Monday, New Order (1983)

The concept of Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year, was created by the holiday company Sky Travel in 2005 and is generally considered pseudoscience.

However, January is - let's face it - a fairly depressing month generally, so here are two sunny wines from Viña Real to bring some reassuring warmth to an otherwise chilly and uncelebratory time of year.

Crowd-pleasing yet sophisticated, they are easy to enjoy without dumbing down.

Viña Real Crianza 2013 (£11.65, Fortnum & Mason, independents) ripe bramble fruits with fruitcake and roasted spices; fresh, mineral and woodsy-earthy with fine tannins.

Match with rosemary and garlic lamb.

Viña Real Barrel Fermented Blanco 2015 (£11.45 independents) ripe apple-and-pear fruit with lime zest and layered, toasty-oaky spice; floral, citrussy and fresh with a rounded, creamy palate.


Match with mixed antipasti or white meat and fish.

Monday, 1 January 2018

Johann Wolf Pinot Gris 2016

A German Pinot Gris from Virgin Wines

They say life's too short for a German wine label; fortunately, this Pinot Gris is much easier to decipher.

With a simple, New-World style label and a dry finish, it is deliciously well-made; ripe, balanced and very easy to enjoy.

Johann Wolf Pinot Gris 2016 (£10.99) ripe yellow stone fruit and sweet spices with freshness and minerality.


Drink as an aperitif, with fish or white meat.