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Friday, 22 February 2019

Saint Martin Des Champs, Cuvee L'Hermitage Du Domaine 2016

A Bordeaux blend from Saint Martin des Champs in Pays d'Oc

So, what we have here is:

- a Bordeaux (mostly Cab) blend
-  from Pays d'Oc, south of Bordeaux
- with a very restrained 12.5% alcohol
- that spends 12 months in barrique and a further year-plus in bottle

The lower alcohol level suggests a cooler climate somehow than Bordeaux; maybe altitude or sea breezes.

Either way, the end result is a very structured and well-defined wine with a dense core that takes a while to open up.

You should definitely give this a couple of hours in the decanter; it will repay some cellaring if you can wait.

Saint Martin Des Champs, Cuvee L'Hermitage Du Domaine 2016 dark berry fruit, firm fine tannins, freshness and a savoury minerality. Good underpinnings. Will improve with age.


Match with plain roast red meat, especially darker game; also, mature hard cheeses.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Domaine Matray Saint-Amour 2016

A Cru Beaujolais from Alpine Wines

At almost £17, this is towards the upper end of prices for Beaujolais. It has all the characteristics you would expect of a Beaujolais but is more detailed and nuanced.

If you like Beaujolais and want to know what a superior version offers, this will show you.

Domaine Matray Saint-Amour 2016 (£16.60, Alpine Wines) juicy red, black and sour cherry fruit with florality and spices. Fresh, substantial, supple and complex.


Match with antipasti or plain roast chicken.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Bordeaux For Chinese New Year

Two Bordeaux wines for celebrating Chinese New Year - from Ocado and The Wine Society

China loves Bordeaux; it is the top export market for Bordeaux's wines - and growing.

And it's not all about prized First Growths to be given as gifts and consumed far too young mixed with fizzy drinks.

Bordeaux is a  versatile region with white, rosé, sweet and fizz to be found, at more affordable prices than the overpriced Crus Classés; these wines are also a better match for Chinese food.

So, step forward a Crémant de Bordeaux fizz to kick off your celebrations and a substantial pink to match with Spicy Sichuan Prawns.

Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Brut 2015 (£9.50, Ocado) Sémillon-Cabernet Franc blend, made by the traditional Champagne method. Fresh, citrussy and yeasty; orchard fruits, autolysis and linear minerality. Fine mousse and a persistent finish.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Drink as an aperitif; will cut through rich starters such as mixed antipasti, bread and olive oil, asparagus and mayonnaise.

Château Bel Air Perponcher Reserve Rosé 2017 (£9.50, The Wine Society Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc blend. Delicious strawberry and redcurrant fruit, some toastiness and weighty, substantial underpinnings. Harmonious, balanced and adept.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Great for summer sipping, match with picnic food, prawns or salmon.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Clos du Gaimont Vouvray Demi Sec 2015

A Loire Chenin from Virgin Wines

If you have not experienced the delights of an off-dry Loire Chenin, you don't know what you are missing.

Nowhere else makes wines quite like this and nowhere showcase Chenin's aromas and flavours to the same extent with dry, fizz and sweet wines, so don't try to think of Vouvray in terms of more familiar styles.

If you want only the familiar, have another kiwi Sauvignon; if you are open to something new, interesting and delicious, well here you are.

Clos du Gaimont Vouvray Demi Sec 2015 (£12.99) ripe yellow stone fruits, dried fruits honeysuckle and complexity; rich and off-dry yet fresh and mineral. Very accomplished. Will age.


Match with seafood starters, such as scallops, salmon in a creamy sauce or pork with apple sauce.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Jacob's Creek - The Co-op

Australia's Jacob's Creek at The Co-op

I was a long-haired student when I first heard of Jacob's Creek. In those days, the Student Union's subsidised northern ale was my alcoholic staple; I was incredulous at the idea that Australia could make drinkable wine. With a francophile father who rarely holidayed outside Europe, I had grown up innately suspicious of anything that came from the New World.

Even the name, Jacobs Creek, struck me as ugly and iconoclastic - as if the wine had somehow been dredged up from the bottom of a foetid outback gully. No, if it didn't come from France, or perhaps Italy, I wasn't interested.

And anyway you can't neck glasses of wine whilst moshing in a sweaty nightclub playing wall-to-wall grunge.

Fast forward more time than I care to acknowledge and I now rather like Australian wine; I think we've both probably changed quite a bit.

Jacobs Creek is still an iconoclastic name, in-yer-face and resolutely New World, even if the logos have become more sophisticated.

Some will argue that Jacobs Creek is Big-Brand Wine and therefore A Bad Thing, mass-produced plonk for the hoi polloi. I have the advantage of approaching it for the first time.

Yes, really. I have never tried Jacob's Creek before (I know).

Chardonnay (£7.85, the Co-op) toasty, oaky, spicy tropical-fruited Chardie; melon, pineapple, citrus and zippy lime. Fresh, substantial and supple. Deft and harmonious, sunshine in a glass.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Match with chicken liver pâté, roast pork belly or coconut curry.

Shiraz (£7.85, the Co-op) ripe black fruits, cassis and blackcurrant pastilles, pencil shavings and spice. Very fresh with soft, gentle tannins.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

More a white wine coloured red, match with prawn starters, antipasti or pasta with tomato sauce.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Chateau de Belleverne Saint-Amour

A romantically-named Beaujolais Cru from Rannochscott Wines

Nothing says "I love you" like a bunch of drooping carnations smelling of petrol forecourt.

However, if you really want to impress on Valentine's day, a bottle of romantically-named wine with some appropriate food, might do the trick.

Saint-Amour is the northernmost of the Beaujolais Crus, one of ten sub-regions producing wines with a more specific, regional character. At their best, its wines are bold, with aromas of kirsch and spice, and will improve with up to four or five years of ageing.

Chateau de Belleverne Saint-Amour, Le Cru de Amoureux 2014 (Rannochscott Wines £9.49) juicy black cherry and kirsch fruit, florality and spice; elegant with fine tannins and peppery spice.


A versatile food wine, match with herby chicken, tuna or a simple plate of salamis, yellow cheeses, bread and oil.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Senti Prosecco Extra Dry - Virgin Wines

An elegant, inexpensive fizz from Virgin Wines

Whether you are celebrating the end of dry January, a romantic Valentine's dinner or just it being the end of the week, Prosecco can be a great, affordable fizz.

This Virgin Wines Senti Extra Dry is elegant and refined, with three awards including best fizz of 2018 and 2019.

Senti Prosecco Extra Dry (£10.99) apple-and-pear fruits with sherbetty citrus and fine, mineral backbone; fresh, elegant and refined.

Thoroughly pleasant.

Drink as an aperitif, or match with light dishes, such as mozzarella with rocket and tomatoes or soused mackerel.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Chateau Senejac 2015

A youthful and substantial left-bank Cru Bourgeois Bordeaux from The Co-op

Vintage and terroir matter in Bordeaux; 2015 was a good year and Haut-Medoc produces some lovely wines at affordable prices.

Cru Bourgeois are, quite literally, the middle class of Bordeaux wines from the Medoc - better than the basics, but neither as grand, nor as pricey, as the very top flight.

Château Sénéjac Cru Bourgeois 75cl (£17, The Co-op) ripe bramble fruit, inky pencil shavings, cool mint, minerality and fine tannins. Fresh, savoury and substantial. Very adept.


Still very youthful and will benefit from aeration or repay cellaring.

Match with plain roast red meats.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Beaujolais 2017 - Morrisons

A well-made and inexpensive Beaujolais from Morrisons

Beaujolais is a juicy, gluggable wine made from Gamay in the very south of Burgundy; the region's proximity to Switzerland has traditionally kept prices for entry-level wines in high single figures. By contrast, at the top end, its simple pleasure-giving style keeps prices rarely much above £20.

All but the very best Beaujolais should be drunk within a year or two of the vintage, so now is a good time to be drinking 2017s.

Beaujolais 2017 (£5, Morrisons) juicy dark cherry fruit, spice, florality and freshness with fine, soft tannins.

Good and Good Value.

Drink chilled as an aperitif or match with light starters, such as mozzarella with rocket and tomatoes.