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Friday, 27 July 2018

La Belle Angele Sauvignon Blanc 2017

A Belle Epoque-inspired Sauvignon from Badet Clement, available at Majestic

Plenty of places do Sauvignon and each has its own style - from steely Loire, to pungent NZ.

This Belle Angele Sauvignon has southern French warmth and substance with zippiness; fruited and easy-drinking, it is full enough to match with food.

La Belle Angele Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (£8.99 or £7.49 mix six at Majestic) ripe tropical fruits, florality, zippy lime and gooseberry, leesy minerality and expressive aromatics. Rounded with good underpinnings.

Match with seafood or sip while watching summer sport.

Cleefs Reserve Collection Chardonnay, Kleine Zalze 2017

A classy saffer Chardie from Kleine Zalze

South Africa has not so much a quality problem as an identity problem - it makes all sorts of perfectly good and occasionally very impressive wines, but what does it stand for?

In this case, it is a modern classic - a classy, restrained New World oaky Chardonnay with plenty of fruit and substance but also harmonious elegance and subtlety.

I'm not clear why family-run estate Kleine Zalze decided they needed to bottle this wine under a different label, but don't let that put you off.

Cleefs Reserve Collection 2017 Chardonnay, Kleine Zalze (£12.95, Lamorbey Wines) orchard fruits, melon and citrus with well-integrated toasty oak, creamy leesiness and minerality; fresh, full, supple and savoury. Harmonious and adept.

Will age.

Very Good.

A versatile food wine, match with chicken, creamy pasta and roast pork.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Henkell Trocken Sekt

German fizz: a sekt from Henkell

Champagne this is not.

I have yet to find an alternative to a good Champagne; other fizzes are often perfectly adequate as alternatives, but are still defined by their relationship to Champagne.

This sekt is very different to Champagne, yet equally enjoyable; more fruit forward, it is more of an elegant table wine with bubbles.

Henkell Trocken NV floral with yellow stone fruit, citrus and a fine mousse. Substantial, crisp and refreshing with a mineral finish. Good underpinnings and no rough edges. Will improve with age.


Drink as an aperitif; a great match with fish and chips or curries.

Monday, 23 July 2018

La Belle Angele

Two summery, Belle Epoque-inspired wines from Badet Clement, available at Majestic 

When the weather makes it feel like you are in the south of France, Mediterranean-style wines become all the more appealing.

These two Belle Angele wines are fresh, elegant and fruit foward - perfect for summer sipping, picnics and barbecues.

Both are vins de France, with no specific regional indication; the Sauvignon is grown on limestone and aged on the lees for a rich fullness. The rosé is a blend of Grenache and Cinsault, aged in vats for just a few months to maintain the fresh fruit aromas.

The labels are inspired by tourist posters of Paris, Lyon and the Mediterranean from the Belle Epoque era.
- La Belle Angele Sauvignon Blanc 2017 – (New in store Nov 2017) £8.99 or £7.49 mix six at Majestic

- La Belle Angele rosé 2017 Grenache/Cinsault –(New in store in May 2018) £8.99 or £7.49 mix six at Majestic

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Gewurztraminer La Cuvée de Claire, Alsace

A full and spicy Gewurztraminer from Alsace's Vins Paul Schneider

One of things I love about driving holidays in Europe is the opportunity to pick up some really great wines for just a few euros - in some cases from areas that do not always get good representation in the UK.

With its neat, timbered villages bedecked with hanging baskets, Alsace is an intriguing mixture of French gastronomy and German kitsch. As a rule of thumb, the further down you go on the Alsace wine route, the prettier the villages and the better the wines.

South of Colmar, Eguisheim is one of the later stops on the routes des vins; centred around a small square with a fountain, the village is essentially three very colourful concentric circles.

As you enter the village, on your right is the cellar door of 4th generation independent winemaker Vins Paul Scheider.

Gewurztraminer La Cuvée de Claire, 2016 - Vins Paul Scheneider (c. €6, cellar door) ripe yellow stone fruit, pineapple, sweet spices, florality and beeswax; fresh and mineral with hints of late-harvest character. Rich, full and savoury with excellent underpinnings. Will improve further with age.

Very Good.

Match with rich Alsatian dishes, such as tarte flambée or coq au Riesling.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Cockburn's Special Port

An award-winning Cockburns port from The Co-op

Sweet and strong, port is an indulgent round-off to a meal.

Ruby ports are the most affordable of all styles; full of vibrant youthful fruit, spice and eucalyptus, they are almost a dessert in themselves and will also match with chocolate-and-cherry-based desserts

Cockburn's Special Port (£12.99) sweet, red-berry fruits, spices and warming eucalyptus; substantial, harmonious and mellow.


Match with dark chocolate or chocolate torte.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Copa Real / Cop-A-Feel

A typically blowsy Spanish red from Bujanda via Laithwaites

It's no secret that I am not generally a fan of Laithwaites wines; brash, obvious and unsophisticated. And that's just the advertising.

Copa Real / Cop-a-feel is a bit like someone's bit on the side - desperate for attention and hoping you won't ask too many questions.

Fur coat and no knickers.

There's lots going on up-front (too much) but it can't deliver on the promise.

Copa Real 2014 (£7.99) lifted oaky spice, with liquorice, baked red berry and bramble fruit and fine tannins. Mellow but not harmonious - alcoholic and drying on the finish.


Match with strongly-flavoured foods, such as spicy sausages or a stew, to mask the poor finish.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Von Der Leyen Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Kabinett 2016

A light, delicate and drinkable Mosel Riesling

This review is rather pointless - if you already like the delicate, racy fruit-and-minerality of Mosel Rieslings, you don't need me to convince you.

If you don't, a single review is unlikely to have you swapping over from your glass of Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio.

Light, delicate and floral, this is a perfect summer sipper for a heatwave.

Von Der Leyen Bernkasteler Kurfürstlay Riesling Kabinett 2016 floral, citrus and ripe yellow fruits with beeswax, minerality and zip; light, deft and elegant. Will age.


Best for sipping in the garden on a hot day; match with light fish dishes.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Co-op Irresistible Prosecco Special Cuvée Brut

A good-value, classy fizz from The Co-op

On a good day, a well-made Prosecco can outperform a mediocre Champagne and will give you much better value for money.

Adding fizz to a meal turns it into an occasion - this Co-op Prosecco is an award-winning crowd-pleaser that is easy on the wallet.

Co-op Irresistible Prosecco Special Cuvée Brut £7.99 light, crisp, fresh and citrussy with orchard fruit and a good mousse. Deft, elegant and refeshing.

Good and Good Value.

Drink as an aperitif or match with light starters.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Cool Climate California: Frei Brothers Chardonnay

A classy New World Chardonnay from Waitrose

Chardonnay comes in a range of styles from lean-yet-compelling Chablis to buttery, oatmealy New World chardie.

From the cooler Russian River Valley in California's Sonoma, this chardie has plenty of New World fruit and substance with sweet oaky spice - it's a serious and sophisticated crowd-pleaser.

Frei Brothers Chardonnay 2016, Russian River Valley (Waitrose, £17.99) ripe orchard fruits, honeydew melon and pineapple and creamy, oatmealy leesiness. Lush and rich; very adept and harmonious.


A versatile wine; drink as an aperitif or match with seafood or white meats.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Cool Climate California: Edna Valley Chardonnay

A textbook New World Chardie from Majestic

Back in the '90s, New World Chardonnay meant ripe fruit with sweetly spicy oak; this cool-climate Californian Chardonnay is exactly what a New World chardie should be - ripe, pleasing and easy-drinking yet also sophisticated, balanced and restrained.

It's bigger and fuller than an Old World / Burgundian Chardonnay, so don't take Chablis as a reference point for "cool-climate"; but by the standards of the heavy, alcoholic monoliths the New World has produced, it is decidedly restrained.

Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, Central Coast (Majestic, £13.99) supple and generous, with baked apple and ripe stone fruits; deftly oaked with freshness and good underpinnings.

Will age.


A versatile food wine, it will match with creamy pasta dishes, chicken and mushrooms or meaty white fish.