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Thursday, 30 September 2021

Tesco Wines For National Curry Week

Two Tesco wines for National Curry Week

I've never quite subscribed to the idea that wine works with curry; at least in the sense of the fiery, heavy, oily dishes you typically find in any local curry house.

For this, you need beer - or even a versatile whisky.

But not all curries are inimical to wine and, in my somewhat limited curry repertoire, rogan josh comes closest to being a European-type dish - albeit with some distinctly Asian flavours in the mix.

With paprika and sour cream, rogan josh somewhat resembles a style of Hungarian stew. But on top of this, there is ginger, cumin and cinnamon to gently remind you that not in Europe anymore.

With National Curry Week approaching, (from 4th – 10th October 2021), I matched two Tesco wines to my signature "wine-friendly" curry.

And, in another departure from the norm, I chilled the red as well as the white.

The rogan josh recipe is here: How to make Rogan Josh, recipe by MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

De Colmar Gewurztraminer (£9)

Hillsides facing South / South East, on a steep slope with an altitude of 270m to 360m; temperature-controlled fermentation for aromatics, aged on fine lees for weight.

Arthur Metz is the leading player in the vineyards of Alsace and the main producer of the sparkling wine Crémant d'Alsace. 

floral, musky-perfumed and exotic with honeysuckle, sweet spices and lychees; rich and waxy with ripe pineapple and mango, ripe yellow stone fruits, beeswax and spices; good savoury underpinnings.

Thoroughly pleasant and works well with the curry.

Match with spicy exotic dishes, prawns, chicken curry or strong cheeses.

Tesco Finest Puemo Carménère, Valle de Cachapoal, Wine of Chile, 2019 (£8)

Producer by ever-reliable Concha y Toro and sealed under screwcap, the grapes are from the Peumo vineyards in the Cachapoal Valley, 130km south of Santiago and 170m above sea level.

The valley stretches along the Cachapoal River, in terraced hills of the Cordillera de la Costa. Temperate microclimate, it has very warm autumns and springs, giving a good fruit set early on and allowing for a late harvest with long hang time. 

Hand and machine harvesting, gently de-stemmed, crushed and fermented for 8 days followed by aging  in oak for 10 months. 

Concha y Toro was founded in 1883 and produces premium, expressive and innovative wines that convey the spirit of the new world.

chilled and served with the curry, it is darkly-fruited, focused and refreshing; it stands up to and cuts through the richness.

at standard serving temperature, the details become more apparent: dark-fruited and floral with baked dark-berries; full and supple with moderate extraction; dark plum, cocoa and wild herbs with rounded, gentle tannins.

Thoroughly pleasant.

Match with grilled meats and strong hard cheeses at room temperature, spicy dishes when chilled.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Three Wines for #InternationalGrenacheDay

Three Grenache-based wines for #InternationalGrenacheDay

Historically a blending variety, Grenache is starting to make a name for itself more as a front man than merely dance-at-the-back hanger-on. Think New Kid on The Block gone solo.

Grenache is a widely-planted, sun-loving grape from the Mediterranean; somewhat counter-intuitively, it is reducing in quantity just as it is increasing in quality. The reasons for this are varied, but mainly because Grenache can be both a prolific producer of inexpensive fruity quaffers (for which demand is declining) as well as something much more sophisticated and complex when properly handled.

Fruity and thin-skinned, Grenache is not generally a wine for oaking or aging; as a varietal wine, it tends to be pale, fruity and ripe with high-ish alcohol. For this reason, it is often blended with some Syrah for colour and Mourvèdre for tannins.

Here are three Grenache / Grenache-based wines for #InternnationalGrenacheDay - or just any coolish, late summer evening.

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Bush Vine Grenache 2018 (£17.99, Wine Direct, Latitude Wine Merchants (Yorkshire), Amazon, Vagabond, The Specialist Cellar, Cambridge Wine Merchant, Australian Wines Online, Frazier’s Wine Merchants, Flagship Wines, Richard Granger, Voyageurs du Vin, House of Townsend, Vinotopia)

100% Grenache from Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, a lighter-style Grenache showcasing bright Barossa Grenache at its best. It has bags of flavour and character yet easy drinking for those who might ‘prefer white’, as well as being food friendly with lighter foods you might normally have with a white wine to richer style dishes that work with a typical red. 

pale in the glass, almost Pinot-esque; wild strawberries, leather, complex oaky spice and herbaceous, minty sage; fresh red berry fruits, eucalyptus, sappy, savoury and warming-spicy.

Drinks well on first pouring and continues to improve with aeration.


Match with spare-ribs or pork pie; will work well with mushroom based dishes

Delicious on its own as an aperitif. Try it served lightly chilled.

Torres Salmos 2017 (£21.99, Fareham Wine Cellar, Vinvm, Rannoch Scott Wines, Winebuyers, Hedonism Wines, Sandham Wine Merchants)

Garnacha, Cariñena, Syrah blend that pays homage to the monks of the intrepid Carthusian order, who arrived in Priorat in 12th century, renowned for its steep impoverished rocky slopes of black slate-like ‘licorella’ soils, which gives the wines its ‘graphite’ or mineral character.

dusty, dried sour cherries, tarry black fruits, plums and forest berries with toasty / grilled flavours, licorice and anise, leather and sous bois, cedar, cocoa and spices; supple, harmonious and well-structured. Complex, concentrated, inky and long.

Very Good.

Still very youthful at four years; needs several hours' in the decanter or several years' cellaring to show its best.

Match with plain roast red meat - or venison when mature.

Vidal-Fleury Vacqueyras 2018 (£27.99 from Wadebridge Wines, Great Grog Bottle Shop, Whole Foods Market, TheDrinkShop.com)

50% Grenache, 45% Syrah and 5% Mouvedre matured for 18 months in both tank and foudre from the oldest continuously operating winery in the Rhône.

dark fruits, fresh cherries, florality, complex spice and cassis; red and black fruits, violets, mint and dried green herbs with rounded, plush tannins; fresh, full, supple and savoury with excellent underpinnings and a gentle-yet-firm grip.

Very Good.

Needs some aeration and will repay cellaring.

Match with roast leg of lamb with sage, rosemary, and thyme, or mature cheeses.


More on Grenache from WSET:

Understanding grapes spotlight on Grenache | Wine & Spirit Education Trust (wsetglobal.com)

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Tesco Finest Speyside Single Malt Whisky

A versatile Tesco Whisky

Whisky is, in (over)simplified terms, distilled beer; it is made from gains of barley that are malted to create sugars, then brewed to create alcohol, distilled for concentration and finally aged in casks for complexity and colour.

The original purpose of whisky, like all northern European spirits, is as a store of energy to survive the long, harsh winter.

High in alcohol and acidity, slightly oxidative and often with a touch (or more) of smokiness, whisky is made to last.

It matches well with many typically wine-unfriendly foods; think hot-smoked salmon, mince pies, chocolate and robust spicy dishes, from haggis to chili or curry.

There is very little whisky cannot cope with - except light and delicate foods; it is intense by its very nature, so positively demands old-school strong, sweet-savoury calorific foods that would overpower most table wines.

At 40% alcohol, it is around twice the strength of sherry or Madeira, and almost three times that of a table wine, so is more to be sipped than glugged.

Some people will suggest you add water or even mixers; personally, I prefer to sip it neat.

If you need an excuse to get some whisky in now, British Food Fortnight is from 18 September – 3 October in 2021; but, it makes a great drink in all but the hottest of weathers.

Tesco Finest Speyside Single Malt Whisky (£23)

floral and delicate with apples-and-pears fruit and roasted spices; citrus, pineapple and sweet vanilla with a well-integrated oak, good underpinnings and a persistent, harmonious finish.

Very Good.

A versatile whisky, sip as an aperitif or match with smoked fish, spiced dishes or mince pies and Christmas pudding.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Three Côtes du Rhône Wines. And A Book. And Some Food.

Three Côtes du Rhône wines - plus a book by Matt Walls. And Some Food.

The Rhône is one of France's great wine regions - or two of them to be exact. For in practice, the Northern Rhône and Southern Rhône are distinct regions that share little more than a name and a river.

The North, running from just south of Lyon to Valence produces a mere 5% of the wines of the combined region. Arguably the most prestigious and quite possibly the most expensive.

The city of Montélimar marks the gateway to the vast, geologically diverse Southern Rhône which covers a greater distance east to west than from north to south.

Where the Northern Rhône has a continental climate with cold winters and the strong, cold Mistral wind, the South is Mediterranean with milder winters, hotter summers and less rain.

The North is mostly Syrah, with some Viognier plus Marsanne and Roussanne, from a handful of appellations; the South permits 19 grape varieties in Châteauneuf-du-Pape alone and plenty more elsewhere.

If Rhône wines have a single, unifying feature it is substance; it is one of the warmer vineyard climates in France and produces dark-fruited, fleshy reds and rich, generous, hedonistic whites.

I have loved the wines of the Rhône for many years, sufficiently so to take several holidays there.

However, the true expert on the Rhône is Matt Walls who not only lives in the region but has also written a book, covering extensively appellations,  producers, history and terroir.

Matt gives an introduction to the region and his book in this podcast, introduced by Joe Wadsack‎Wine of the Times Podcast Series: Living the Wine Dream - Moving to the Rhône to write a book about wine – does it get much better? on Apple Podcasts

For a deeper dive, the book is available here: Wines of the Rhône | Infinite Ideas (infideas.com)

The Côtes du Rhône appellation is the most widely known sub-region and is a great starting point for getting to know the wines better. Especially with some regional food.

Three Côtes du Rhône wines

Domaine Maby, Cotes du Rhône, Variations, 2019 

elderberries, plums, blackberries and blackcurrants with cool mint and some spice; fresh and supple with lifted ripe, juicy red fruits, sour cherries, dried green herbs and peppery spice; harmonious, inky, supple and substantial with good underpinnings.

Very Good.

Match with char-grilled red meats.

Chateau de Montfaucon, Cotes du Rhône, 2017

dusty-spicy garrigue with blackcurrant and dried berry fruit; fresh, juicy plum and dark berry fruit, minty green herbs; perfectly ripe, rounded and well-integrated tannins with a gentle firmness; complex and savoury.

Very Good.

Match with darker game, such as rare venison steak.

Terra Firma, Cotes du Rhône, 2017 

lifted, slightly stewed dark berries, peppery spice, leathery-mushroomy sous bois and herbaceous aromas; fresh, juicy red and black berry fruits, cassis, mintiness and a supple, inky texture with rounded, well-integrated tannins. Very harmonious and adept.

Very Good.

Match with roasted red meats, such as rosemary and garlic lamb.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Viognier - A Deep Dive Around The World

Detailed tasting notes on four Viogniers from around the world

A recent tweet by WineMatcher Fiona Beckett on foods to match with Viognier had me digging out an earlier post on this peachy-apricotty tropical sun goddess of a grape.

From obscurity bordering on extinction just a few generations ago, it has now travelled around the world.

Here are four Viogniers to try with Fiona's food recommendations of mild creamy curries like kormas or spicy south-east Asian curry or spicy dishes with a hint of peach or apricot.

If you haven't tried Viognier before, it may well be unlike anything else you have tried - in a good way.

Viognier is originally from the northern Rhône, so it likes a warm climate; it is relatively high in alcohol and low in acidity, so it is rich, plush and hedonistic.

There is no real "adjacent" grape variety to Viognier; Gewuztraminer has a similar high alcohol / low acidity profile, but is much more floral, perfumed and exotic. Viognier shares warm-climate Chardonnay's breadth and affinity for oak and lees-aging, but its flavour profile is more peachy-spicy.

The ripe-yet-dry wines of Alsace, especially Pinot Gris, may be the closest overall match to Viognier, and Marsanne has the same rich waxiness, but if you are new to Viognier, there's a chance that neither of these wines will be adequate reference points either.

My own experience of Viognier was relatively limited until I tasted my way through these wines; I'm still not 100% sure I could spot one blind now, but I have certainly gained an affection for its ripe, peachy richness.

The Yalumba punches above its weight for quality, while the Latour shows the sophisticated oaking you would expect from a Burgundy House. The Guigal is elegant, rich and sun-kissed, while the Viu Manent shows a little more freshness.

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2020, (£9.49 Majestic, Asda, Morrison’s, The Co-op) 

All Yalumba Viogniers are fermented using wild yeasts which add extra character and complexity to the wines. 

white flowers, white pepper and stone fruit; waxy yet crisp with peach, apricot and pineapple fruit, some grapefruit and lemon pitch; honeysuckle and minerality with good, savoury underpinnings.

Match with spicy and rich dishes such as a Sri Lankan vegetable or chicken curry.


Louis Latour Ardèche Viognier 2018, (around £15 from Dickens House Wine Emporium, Il Vino, Worsley Wines, winedirect.co.uk)

planted on steeper hillsides, 30% aged in French oak barrels from Latour’s cooperage in Beaune, giving the wine a roundness and slightly spicy edge. The remaining 70% is matured entirely in stainless steel

yellow fruit, blossom and a touch of sweet spice; ripe stone fruits, marzipan and honeysuckle, rich, complex and rounded with very god underpinnings; long and savoury.

Very Good.

Match with duck terrine with chestnuts, lighter game or middle eastern dishes with a spiced, creamy almond sauce.

Guigal Côtes du Rhône White 2019, (£12-£14.75, Tesco, North & South Wines, Clifton Cellars, Amps Fine Wines, Amazon) 

A blend of 60% Viognier, with Roussane, Marsanne and others; the average vine age is 25 years.

floral with peach, orchard fruits and sweet spices; dense and concentrated with peachy fruit, fennel honeysuckle, white pepper and a savoury, waxy sappiness; very long and complex with excellent underpinnings.


Match with rich dishes such as roast pork or creamy curries

Chile Viu Manent Secret Viognier 2018 (around £14, Great Grog, Chester Wine and Beer, Albury Wine Store, La Zouch, The Wine Chambers, Flagship Wines) 

From the Colchagua valley, which has warm days, cool nights and moderating breezes; the wine is fermented with native natural yeasts and vinified in stainless steel. Up to 15% of this blend can be ‘other varieties’ which vary each year depending on weather conditions. 

gently floral with slightly musky orchard fruit; pineapple, white peach, pear, white pepper, ginger and sweet spices; fresh, clean and sappy with good underpinnings.


 A versatile food wine, match with white-meat stews, turkey, grilled chicken, meaty fish, such as sea bass, poached salmon and tuna or a seafood risotto

Sunday, 12 September 2021

The CWB Co-op South American Red-Off

Two South American reds from The Co-op

Either side of the Andes, Chile and Argentina and synonymous with South American wine and are its two biggest producers.

For reds, Chile's signature grape is Carménère (historically confused with Merlot, which it somewhat resembles); whereas, for Argentina it is the heat-loving Malbec.

These two South American wines from the Co-op represent an exploration of what these countries can do beyond their most well-known varieties.

Syrah is a warm-climate grape originally from the Rhône, whereas Cabernet Franc tolerates a wider range of climates from the somewhat chilly Loire (where it produces fresh, vibrant wines) to warm-climate Languedoc where it is bigger and fuller.

Leyda Valley Syrah, Chile (£10)

A fresh and juicy cool-climate Syrah grown just 4km away from the Pacific Ocean and produced by multi-award winning winemaker Viviana Navarrete.

floral, bubblegum nose with baked dark fruits, cocoa and spice; juicy, slightly stewed blackcurrant, blackberry and black cherry fruits, minty eucalyptus and generous extraction with ripe, rounded tannins; fresh and savoury.

Improves with aeration.


Match with char-grilled red meats or charcuterie. 

Brazos Cabernet Franc, Argentina (£9.50)

Made by Familia Zuccardi, a family-run winery in Mendoza region of Argentina, dating back to 1968.

red and black fruits, eucalyptus, clove and peppery spice; red and black plum, black olives, grilled notes and lifted cool mint with spicy oakiness: generously extracted and slightly port; firm, slightly drying tannins

Thoroughly enjoyable in a rough-and-tumble sort of way

Match with hearty foods such as rustic pâté or crostini with tapenade.

Thursday, 9 September 2021

J Vineyards ‘J California Cuvée NV’ - Californian Fizz

A New World, Traditional Method fizz from California's J Vineyards and Winery

Until relatively recently, if offered the choice of a fizz from a warm-climate New World country, I would have most likely politely declined.

An MW-led Champagne tasting at the now-defunct Alimentum a decade ago taught me that California simply cannot do the sort of elegance that Europeans take for granted

But that was then.

Times change and so do wine regions; elegance, nuance, complexity, freshness and a sense of place are now the watchwords in many New World regions instead of mere heft and fruit.

These days, California is less Metallica's well-produced, technically-sophisticated but full-on Thrash Metal with its twin lead guitars, multiple solos and 8-minute songs

And more Jeff Buckley's sensitive, considered singer-songwriter-guitarist vibe, with nuance, subtlety and sensitivity, deploying a broader range of styles and a more adaptable approach:

For a more formal analysis of California and West Coast wines, see this much more considered piece by Nicolas Quillé, MW https://www.linkedin.com/posts/nicolasquille_the-vast-majority-of-north-american-wines-activity-6843165050430193664-sT3c

J Vineyards ‘J California Cuvée NV’ (£23, Tesco) 

California's J Vineyards was founded in the cool-climate Russian River Valley of Sonoma by Judy Jordan in 1994; the vineyards offer the ideal climate for growing expressive, world-class sparkling wines. Marked 96 points at the Decanter World Wine Awards, J Cuvée 20 Brut NV has an elegant mousse and a complex palate.

It is a blend of J’s best cool-climate vineyard sites, notably from the Russian River Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and Mendocino County. A non-vintage blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, using 7% reserve wine, the grapes were hand-harvested and placed as whole clusters, without destemming, into the press.

As is customary for traditional method sparkling wine production, the second fermentation occurred in bottle. The wine was aged on the yeast for a minimum of 24 months, developing deeper complexity as it aged.

The wine has the elegance, finesse and complexity of a European fizz, but just a little more ripe fruit, making it an easier, earlier drinker.

ripe orchard fruit, biscuity brioche and florality; lemon curd, yellow stone fruit, ginger snaps and sherbet. Full, generous and supple with a fine mousse. Ripe fruit and easy-drinking.


Match with pork belly or king prawns.


Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Three Côtes de Bordeaux Reds

Three red wines from Bordeaux's more-ambitious but better-value sub-appellations

Bordeaux has long been one of my favourite wine regions; if I had to drink the red wines of just one region, it would probably be Bordeaux. It pretty much has everything:

- fresher, plumper Merlot-based wines
- fuller and gripper Cabernets
- lighter wines in cooler years
- bigger, riper wines in hotter years
- easy-drinking wines for early consumption
- complex and ageworthy wines for laying down
- from everyday wines to some of the world's most expensive

There is very little that Bordeaux cannot do; it is one of the great food-friendly and versatile wines.

Here are three wines from lesser-known regions that offer a glimpse of above-average Bordeaux greatness without the price premium of bigger names.

Château Carignan 2015, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux (Oddbins £17.50)

Château Carignan has an extraordinary history; it was given to one of Joan of Arc’s right-hand men, Jean Poton de Xaintrailles. Today, fantastic, full-bodied reds are made in this Cadillac-based estate. This is a floral and fruit-forward wine yet with a decent amount of age adding a savoury undertone. Notes of damson, violet and black cherry are prominent, layered with flavours of sweet spice and cigar box. 

complex aromas of coffee grounds, soy and dried sour cherries with graphite, old leather, minty green herbs and sous bois; dark berry fruits, spiced plum cake, toasty oak and menthol with ripe, rounded and firm yet well-integrated tannins. Sleek, elegant and adept.

Very Good.

Match with roast beef or lamb with rosemary and garlic,

Château Pré Lalande, Cuvée Terracotta, 2016 Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux (Majestic £16.99 )

Based in the Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux appellation, biodynamic producer Château Pré Lalande have aptly named this wine ‘Teracotta’ for the vessel it is aged in. Matured in amphorae, this is a modern and approachable Merlot/ Cabernet Sauvignon blend.

dark berry fruits and inky graphite; vibrant ripe, juicy blackcurrant, blackberry and plum with cherries, pepper, coffee and savouriness; supple inky texture with very well-rounded and integrated tannins. Very harmonious.

Very Good.

Fresh and fruited, match with grilled meats or charcuterie.

Château Puygueraud 2018, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux (Laithwaites £14.99)

A blend of Merlot in majority with Cabernet Franc and a touch of Malbec, this is the top wine of Château Puygueraud. Fruit is sourced from the plateaus and the clay-limestone slopes overlooking the Francs Côtes de Bordeaux appellation.

Earthy with tobacco leaf, herb, liquorice and wild cherries; plush with ripe, slightly stewed blackberries, damsons and cherries; cocoa, spice and minerality; concentrated, with fine, slightly grippy tannins.

Improves with aeration and will repay some cellaring.


Match with rare roast beef.

More info on Côtes de Bordeaux: 

An epicentre of modern winemaking With significant innovation being implemented in wineries and vineyards across five diverse appellations, it’s time to discover the exciting and great value wines of the Côtes de Bordeaux.

Tucked away next to some of the most famous appellations in the world lies the fourth largest AOC in France. Côtes de Bordeaux may not be the first Bordeaux appellation to spring to mind, but it is a region on the rise, worthy of exploration.

Although the appellations are spread across the right bank of Bordeaux, they share similarly hilly landscapes, hence the name ‘Côtes.’

Created just 12 years ago in 2009, Côtes de Bordeaux is made up of five different appellations including Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux, Francs Côtes de Bordeaux, Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux, Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux and most recently, Sainte-Foy Côtes de Bordeaux which joined the group in 2016. 

The union of these great regions has created a dynamic and exciting larger area where modern, fruit-forward reds, refreshing whites and delicious sweet wines can be found. Around 10% of Bordeaux are wines are from Côtes de Bordeaux, which counts over 950 producers, many of whom are young winemakers producing modern style wines.

Each appellation has its own unique terroir and regulations producing an array of exquisite wine styles. Cadillac and Castillon are solely dedicated to making red wines, many of which are fruit-forward and approachable in their youth, while the Blaye appellation is renowned for both crisp, fresh whites made from Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon and reds.

In Francs and Sainte-Foy, luscious sweet wine is also produced alongside the reds and dry whites. Discover the wines of this fascinating region with these 6 wines, each from a different Côtes de Bordeaux appellation.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Three Summer-Holiday Wines from Tesco

Three "summer-holiday" wines from Tesco - classics from France, Italy and Spain

My idea of a perfect summer holiday involves getting in the car and driving to France, Italy or Spain for sunshine, outdoors living and lovely food and wine plus a bit of exploring and cultural history.

Since that was never really a serious option this year, I spent time with he family discovering new parts of our home country, even if they are more famous for their beers, rainy weather and seal rather than sun-kissed beaches, yachts and dusty lavender scents.

However, being unable to drive to sunnier climes doesn't have to mean no foreign-holiday vibes; you just need to be more imaginative about arranging it all from home. And be prepared to eat indoors.


The Loire is home to impressive chateaux and is an easy top-over on the way south from Calais.

Tesco Finest Pouilly Fume 2020 (£13)

temperature controlled fermentation for aromatics, followed by 6-12 month fine lees ageing for savoury complexity

aromatic and musky-pungent; fresh gooseberry, melon, white stone fruit and citrussy lime with creamy minerality; intense adept and concentrated.

Very Good.

Match with a goat's chees tart starter, herby pork terrine or white fish in a parsley broth.


Gavi is made from the Cortese grape in Italy's north west region of Piedmont, a region which includes the city of Turin and the foothills of the alps, where there are truffles and game to be found.

Think of Gavi as akin to an entry-level white Burgundy and you won't go far wrong - a versatile, and food-friendly relatively neutral wine.

Tesco Finest Gavi 2020 (£8.50)

This wine sees some old oak and has a little lees aging for complexity.

floral and citrussy; apples and pears, white stone fruits and sherbetty citrus freshness with good underpinnings and savouriness. Clean, pure and elegant.

Very Good and Good Value.

Match with a range of starters, meaty white fish such as sea bass or roast pork; also lighter game such as guinea fowl or partridge.


High-altitude oak-aged Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero. Local foods here include roast veal or lamb, roast suckling pig, morcilla (black pudding), roasted meat with wine, ox steak with garlic, chorizo omelette and rabbit.

Tesco Finest Ribera Del Duero, 2019 (£12)

darkly fruited, oaky spice, pencil shavings and florality; inky, intense and concentrated yet very fresh and structured; ripe dark berry fruits, liquorice and sweet vanilla spice; fleshy yet with a muscular core.

Very Good.

Match with char-grilled red meats, roast lamb or grilled portobello mushrooms


Further reviews:

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Four Late-Summer Wines

Four late-summer wines from France

Four wines for a later-summer garden party, barbecue or just an expansive meal with friends.

All of these wines are easy-drinking yet sophisticated and will match with a range of foods.

On arrival

La Maison du Crémant Prestige Brut, (£14, Sainsbury’s)

Made by respected Burgundian producer François Martenot, this Crémant de Bourgogne, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Aligoté, was featured in Decanter’s Top 25 Crémants with 91/100 points.

aromatic and floral, with white flowers, orange blossom and fresh; fresh citrus, crisp apples-and-pears, white stone fruit and leesy brazil-nut creaminess; elegant and complex


Serve as an aperitif or match with canapés; the freshness will also stand up to roast chicken or fish and chips.

Amuse bouche

Ormarine Conchylia Picpoul de Pinet 2020, (£9, Marks & Spencer)

Ormarine, in partnership with Maison Jeanjean, is the leading producer of Picpoul de Pinet which is the perfect match with oysters, and it happens to be the start of the wild native oyster season on 1 September so a great time to enjoy a dozen with a glass of this Picpoul: 

aromatic with white flowers and sherbetty citrus; lemon-lime, stone fruits and passion fruit with a supple, saline zing; harmonious and adept with good underpinnings.


Match with seafood, especially oysters, white fish or white meat, such as pork.

To start

La Belle Angèle Sauvignon Blanc 2020, (£9.99/bottle or £8.99 mix six, Majestic)

La Belle Angele was the muse of many Impressionist painters in the Belle Epoque. This Vin de France from Badet Clément is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, aged on the lees for about a month.

expressive with fresh gooseberry and grapefruit; ripe tropical fruits, florality, zippy lime and gooseberry, leesy minerality and expressive aromatics. Rounded with good underpinnings.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Match with pork and herb terrine or carbonara with generous parsley and ground pepper.

It will shortly be the first ever bag in box white win available at Majestic as part of their new BIB range £24.99/2.5litres and £19.99 mix six.


Les Jamelles Syrah 2019 (£7.25, Co-op)

Another wine from Badet Clément and their best selling brand, this Pays d’Oc wine is made from 100% Syrah grapes grown on 20 year old vines.

wild berries, dark fruits and spices; fresh dark berry fruits, spice and grilled flavours; inky, supple and juicy with rounded tannins and a touch of cool mint.


Match with roasted red meats, char-grilled steak or barbeque foods

Thursday, 2 September 2021

The CWB Tesco Pink-Off

A Tesco Pink-Off between England and France

Think pink and chances are, neither England nor the Loire is what first springs to mind.

But, with the popularity of rosé rising, everyone is keen to get in on the act. Even northerly climates.

If you reckon England is all about traditional method fizz and Sancerre is just flinty Sauvignon, get with the program!

Both regions now do pink wines - and do them very well.

Tesco Finest English Sparkling Rose Brut (£21)

Made by award-winning Hush Heath Estate, this refreshing pink sparkling wine is produced in the traditional method, hand harvesting grapes to make a pale coral coloured wine, with wild strawberry and citrus flavours, balanced with a vibrant acidity.

A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, cool fermented and aged on the lees for over a year to give a toasty, brioche note. 

white flowers and marzipan with brioche; fresh and sherbetty, citrussy with delicate redcurrants, alpine strawberries and red cherries; fine mousse and minerality; clean and harmonious with good underpinnings.


Serve as a garden-party aperitif or match with creamy cheeses, oily fish or seafood canapés.

Sancerre Rose (£12)

Made from Pinot Noir, picking is done early in the morning, when the temperature is low, to protect all the Pinot Noir aromas. The grapes are gently pressed and the juices are then fermented at low temperature to preserve all the aromas revealing the subtlety of the terroir. It is bottled in the Spring following the harvest to keep the flavours.

white pepper, red plum and cherry fruit; citrus, tropical fruits, florality and aromatic lemongrass; stone fruits and red berries with zippy gooseberry and grapefruit; good savoury concentration, underpinnings and length.

Very Good.

Match with seafood starters or picnic foods such as quiche and cold cuts.


Further details:

English Fizz - History

Hush Heath Estate, situated in Kent, dates back to 1503. At the heart of the property is a Tudor manor surrounded by 162 hectares of perfectly manicured gardens, vineyards and apple orchards. Forward thinking Richard Balfour-Lynn planted first planted vineyards on the property in 2002.

Today, Hush Heath's 15 hectares of vineyards and 8 hectares of apple trees are meticulously and sustainably managed by a family of viticulturists.

Nestled among the rolling hills, within The Garden of England, the Hush Heath vineyards enjoy quiet serenity and a favourable microclimate supporting optimal ripening conditions for our prized grapes.

Our vines and wines benefit from our outstanding soil; deep Wealden clay, unique to our corner of Kent, which provides dense structure in our wines and vibrant, lively acidity.

Sancerre Pink

Nestled in the heart of the Sancerre appellation, the Domaine Fournier Père et Fils winery goes back generations of winemakers since 1926. The Finest Sancerre Rosé comes from Pinot Noir vines aged between 10 to 30 years.

Sancerre, in the Loire Valley, is incredibly well known for its Sauvignon Blanc wines, but Pinot Noir is also grown here and made into delicate rose wines like this Finest Sancerre Rose.