Friday, August 17, 2007

The Winepost Wine Blog Moved!!!

You've probably given up coming over to see what is happening over here having had nothing going on for ages - well there is a reason for that and now you can find all the lastest stuff over at The Winepost Wine Blog/

Please pop over and have a look


Thursday, April 12, 2007

2006 Bordeaux

The first 2006 Bordeaux tastings have happened, and we’ve got our first idea of what we might expect from the vintage. Following a wonderful 2005 vintage, the industry has been on tenterhooks wondering what would be found, with predictions ranging from pretty good to pretty bad – the one thing everyone was sure of was the this was no repeat of 2005.

Berry Brothers ( have struggled to compare it with other vintages, saying that it has elements of several good but not great vintages with 1996, 1988 and 1986 mentioned, but they do go on to say that they thing 2006 will turn out to be a better vintage than 2004 and point to St Julian as the potential pick of the left bank, but talk of sumptuous St Emilion and perhaps lean towards a right bank vintage.

Steven Spurrier over on the Decanter website (, talks of it being a real First Growth vintage, where the tops wines which have had all expenses lavished at them come to the fore, including Mouton which has been criticised recently for underperforming. He even goes onto proclaim Le Petit Mouton (2nd wine of Mouton) as “ the best second wine of the entire vintage” He agrees with Berry’s team that St Julian is the pick of the Medoc, although also picks out Margaux for some praise.

As for prices? Well Spurrier says that the people he’s spoken to are happy with his idea of releasing the wines at the current 2004 prices (which he calls the Spurrier Theory) but I wonder whether the owners are just paying him lip service – certainly in a comment on the site Gil Lempert-Schwarz thinks he’s off the mark “I have to respectfully completely disagree with Spurrier's contention that 'The chateaux will come out at the current price of the 04s...' I'll therefore be the first to disgree with the 'Spurrier Theory', which is nice in principle, but has no foundation in the actual thoughts of the majority of the Chateaux I have surveyed (and they are numerous). Certainly at the top, there is no worry about virtually any price at this point in time. Jean-Guillaume Prats of Chateau Cos D'Estournel, who has made a splendid wine in 2006 is 'looking carefully at the present price of his 2004 in connection with the price of 2005 and will be somewhere in between' he says”.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Berberana Etiqueta Negra Reserva 2003 Rioja

Now "on offer" at Tesco in one of their infamous half price deals (if you've ever noticed there are some wines that go on half price deals quite often - this is a launch deal - but they are rarely worth their full price) and at £4.49 it's a good value wine - at it's "Full" price of £9 I wouldn't bother but for this price it's worth a stab.

Garnet with a pink rim, a lovely developing bouquet of cinnamon ,redcurrants and vanilla. As you'd expect from a young reserva there are plenty of unresolved tannins and the 2003 fleshiness is certainly there although the wine manages to be a little sour too. It's not one I'm going to be rushing out to buy again - it's ok but no more than that. (80/100)

Burgundy Competition

Click the bottle on the right at for a competition to win a fantastic break in Burgundy!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A-Mano Primitivo 2003 - Puglia

A big rustic red from Puglia (the heel of the boot) in Italy, bought to compliment and cook Chianti baked meatballs (ok so I know it's not Chianti - but getting something drinkable that's Chianti is going to me very hit and miss and you're going to need spend more that this cost!)
Cooking with it, it was wonderful, making a fantastic sauce, but drinking it...

Deep ruby red with a slight pink tinge to the rim, intense plums, spice, vanilla and morello cherries on the nose. Firm tannins, and a robust, bitter cherry flavour moving to a long finish. This is definitely a food wine, and after an hour or so of decanting opened up a little - for £6 it was quite nice, but the acidity was a little harsh for me, rather than brining freshness! (81)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

La Baume Terroirs Chardonnay 2001

La Baume make wines in the Languedoc pretty much exclusively for the British market (they were for a time owned by BRL Hardy), and the Terroirs range are the superior wines to the standard wines found in many supermarkets.

We bought this bottle as a bin end at the Domaine, having tasted the fresh wine which we thought pretty good we plumped for this based on the quality of the 2001 vintage. The current vintage being drunk is the 2003/4.

A medium golden colour with aromas of honeyed tropical fruits and vanilla with fairly simple, delicate flavours of pineapple and pawpaw. This has lost it's freshness and is probably well past it's best having been created for drinking young, and fades rather than finishes fairly quickly. (76)

Friday, March 30, 2007

Wirra Wirra Sexton's Acre Shiraz 2004

Deep purple with a narrow rim and an almost black core, deep dark and brooding. Intense blackcurrant fruit, developing white pepper nuances and some lovely coffee, chocolate and vanilla notes on the nose. Quite well integrated tannins on the palate, a wine made for drinking at this relatively young age (though not as young as some given that the 2006 vintage is out!) A lovely smooth silky mouthfeel and some slightly bitter notes of coffee and liquorice finish off to a medium length wine. Pretty good really, not quite up there with the Sainsbury's TTD Cabernet, but that is no shame in itself. (83)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Best Offer you will ever see!

It seems Sainsburys have made a mistake and now is the time to cash in! For just £55 of thereabouts you can currently order online a case of 4 wines of :
Pouilly Fumé 'Les Satins' 2004, France (x3)
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (x3) normal price £15-30
Glenguin 'Stonybroke' Shiraz 2001 (x3)
Ninth Island Pinot Noir 2005 (x3) normal price £9

All for £51.12

Normal price is over £130 and they are offering 25% off - but somewhere along the line they've managed to put another 50% discount on top

The link is HERE

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Site Progress

Well after a lot of false starts and a whole host of initial problems I spoke to my friend Jon who is the man to know when trying to put these sorts of things together, and after a little wait whilst web hosts sorted themselves out the new site is starting to take shape - you can keep an eye on progress over at and have a look at the forum taking shape.

Leave you comments on this post - or e-mail to give your opinions on yet another wine website that doesn't seek to make any money! Oh and should I ever mention SH Jones on the new site then do give me a dig in the ribs - as my future employer I'm trying to remain independent my not mentioning them - although in the future I may sell the odd mixed case selected from their wines on offer if i think it suitable!

Dinner at the Cherwell Boathouse

So Tuesday was my birthday and my lovely wife decided to take me out to a nice eatery for a meal, and knowing that the Cherwell Boathouse has a reputation for it's wine list chose that as the venue. Originally we had been expecting a special offer menu, however the offer had stopped and in the end the main menu looked so good, and relatively inexpensive we decided to go with that instead.
I started with a salad of poached egg and a trio of sausages, followed by mature sirloin in a madeira jus with boulangere potato and wild mushroom and a blood orange tart. Katherine had a quail with parsnip puree and some foam of some sort, followed by confit of duck (she actually ordered "corn-fed chicken" but obviosuly didn't speak clearly enough for the waitress who turned corn fed in confit - however on tasting it she was delighted by the error and finished with sticky toffee pudding, with toffee ice cream and a banana and toffee milk shake.
I drank about half a bottle of 2002 Chateau Tour Du Pas St Georges, which was lovely, retrained claret at a pretty good price.

Now I'm not completely sure, but I reckon they were charging £350 for a bottle of '82 Mouton, which to me in a restaurant seems like brilliant value. ( reveals that Farr Vintners are selling this at £550 a bottle!)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

What were you thinking Gordon?

So Gordon Brown has predictably decided to increase duty on most alcohol, perhaps the strangest thing though is that he's decided to freeze duty on spirits, whilst increasing duty marginally on beer, wine and sparkling wine. The strangest thing is that he's increased duty on sparkling wine by much more than wine - which is a little curious. You see I totally agree with duty on alcohol, after all alcohol is a drain to society - it costs the NHS money for people with alcohol damaged livers, we have to police town centres every night to cope with binge drinkers - but you see - how many of them are actually drinking wine? And for that matter how many of those that are drinking wine to excess are drinking sparkling wine or champagne? It just doesn't add up!
Problems from alcohol major on beer/cider and spirit based alcopops, at the other end of the spectrum most home based alcoholics have turned to spirits by the time they cost the NHS money. If we put a great wedge of duty on beer and spirits, we pay for the cost to the country of alcohol and at the same time the increase in price will reduce the average binge drinkers intake - so please Gordon wake up and smell the coffee - it isn't an election winner - and perhaps that's why it'll never happen - too many voters drink beer and spirits to allow the most sensible change to take place - and instead he'll hit the minority champagne drinkers - because he can. Gordon you really are a silly boy - tax the on trade, beer at £4 a pint sells far less than at £2.50 a pint and you make as much money, reduce policing costs, NHS costs and have more to spend on paying nurses as much as you should!

Threshers are at it again!

Yes, once again Threshers are trying to get people through their doors by placing 40% off vouchers around the net, whether they get quite the same reception as last time I'm not sure. What they do mean is that in order to get some really decent value from Threshers you no longer need to buy 3 similiarly priced bottles on their 3 for 2 offer. Buying one bottle has just been expensive there, but when these vouchers come out - anyone can pop in and buy a bottle. This time around the offer excludes champagne, sparkling wine and fortified wines which suggests that Thresher have learned a lesson from last time out when savvy shoppers filled their boots (quite literally) with Champagne. If you want a voucher - keep an eye out on the internet - or alternatively drop me an e-mail to before 5.00pm this evening and I'll happily send one out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Danie de Wet Chardonnay 2002

From Robertson in South Africa, this is a really good value Chardonnay lying somewhere between a French wine and a big new world style wine, it has both power and elegance. Pale golden coloured, youthful aromas of almond, vanilla and oak with buttery minerality and some refreshing acidity moving to a long finish. This is certainly on the way to an old world style wine, but has a greater level of flavour and richness than you'd find in France. (83/100)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Maple Wine vin D'Erable Jost Winery

Some friends brought back some Maple Wine from Canada, and unlike non grape wines from the UK, which are made from thing such as parsnips and raspberries, Maple has plenty of sugar in it and is ideally suited to making a sweet wine - the question is can anyone make anything any good out of it?

On the evidence of this wine from Novia Scotia is yes, it is quite easily the best non grape wine I've drunk, and a lot better sweet wine than quite a few I've tasted. A lovely golden colour with unmistakeable aromas of honey and maple syrup and a similar palate with some suprising acididty which actually holds the whole thing together. I can see this being poured over ice cream, or pancakes as a winderful alterntive to maple syrup with a bit of booziness thrown in - I'd guess you're unlikely to find any of this in the UK, but if you know someone from Canada or you are going yourself it's one of those things that you really ought to try just once.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Foil Capped Wine Glasses to go on sale

Al Fresco Wines will, this year, launch a range of foil capped full wine glasses aimed at the outdoor eating British public, (thanks to Dr. Vino for the info). The glasses will be called "Tulipa" and will be available in Aussie Shiraz, Chardonnay and a Californian Rose' priced at £3.75 per pair. The idea tried to solve the problem for those of us who have turned up for a picnic only to discover that we've left the corkscrew at home - it remains to be seen whether it's going to be a success or not!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Summertown Wine Cafe

I have to say that this months selection is the best I can remember, ok so there's not one brilliant stand out wine - but the overall standard was high. In fact I'd go so far as to say that pretty much any of the wines on this months list would be perfectly at home on the main superstars list. The thing I love about their monthly selection is that whilst it is only 12 wines - they are generally imaginatively chosen and fit together well. This was a social night out to celebrate my new job (working for a local wine merchant - SH Jones in Banbury) so I didn't take notes, this is based more on memory than anything.
The Clover Hill Sparkling from Tasmania has lovely toasty, yeasty flavours - my one criticism was that the bottle we tasted had been open too long and so it was completely flat - give it some decent fizz it would probably be great, but it fell slightly flat without. (79/100)
Chateau Haut Grelot 2005 is a first example of a 2005 Bordeaux for me - albeit a white blend of Semillon and Sauvignon - and you know what - it really was fabulous, lovely gooseberry and asparagus flavours with some lovely body provided by the Semillon. (85)
The Inama Soave Classico was a fine example of Soave that I got on very well with (83), and the Laroche St Martin Chablis 2005 was fine, if a little unexciting - mineral with some smokey hints there was nothing wrong but it just failed to hit the mark (83).
Rolly Gassman Gewurztraminer 2004 was nice enough - but to be honest I just don't get on with this variety, it seemed well made and was as good an example as I've tasted, and perhaps with spicy food it would stand out but for now not something I'm going back to (80).
The reds were uniformly lovely - I'd have taken any of them home quite happily and we started with a Savigny-Les-Beaune Vielle Vignes 2002 Nicolas Potel which was lovely if a little one dimensional (85), Molino Ausario Barbera 2004 was full and juicy and fantastic (87), Chateau Kefraya 2002 was complex and delicious - my first taste of Lebanon (incredibly I've never got around to Musar or Massaya up to this point!) wonderful black fruits and aromatic spice (88), Casa Silva Coleccione Carmenere 2005 was after the previous wines a little on the simple and unexciting side - a great wine but not of the class of the others (82) Torbreck "Cuvee Juveniles" GSM 2003 is lighter than I expected from the Barossa but is full flavoured and delicious (88), Abadia Retuerta Tempranillo 2003 was a lovely example from just outside the Ribera Del Duero, again not of the class of the other reds on show but good nonetheless (83).
To finish an Australian 10 year old Tawny "Port" from Grant Burge which I have to say was wonderfully delicious - perhaps the nicest example and certainly the easiest drinking example of a tawny that I've had (91)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

La Cuvee Mythique 2003

OK, so every once in a while a wine comes along that you see in the shops and think - well that looks interesting but it costs far too little money to be any good - fotunately I'd been given the heads up by someone over on the wine pages forum ( that this was definately worth a try - and given it's from the Languedoc, and has a blend of grapes I really like I took the (oh so expensive!!) plunge. Costing just £3.49 - that's right £3.49 - what can you get for that these days - well for that money you can buy this and... that's about it - so what's it like?
The colour is promisingly full, purple with a deep core, the aroma is stunning - if you're going to mark a wines aroma I'd give this 88-91 it really is that lovely - brambles, leather spice, plums a touch of thyme or rosemary in a wine that is beginning to show it's true potential. The palate is, to be fair a little disapointing after the nose - but remember this cost £3.49 it isn't going to be as good as a Lafite or a Latour (although to be fair I have had a 1st growth that have been worse than this). The flavours are still good and interesting, good tannin levels and a nice acidity with flavours of plum, brambles and bitter chocolate - it really is exceptional value for money and my recommendation to take to someone elses house, open it as a treasured bottle and see what they say! My guess is that a significant portion of them will give it the thumbs up and decide it's a lot more expensive than it really is - but I could be wrong there's no accounting for taste!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ernest Gallo Dies

Nearly 14 years after younger brother Julio died, Ernest Gallo died on March 6th. Despite what you may think about the vast majority of wine that came out of the Gallo factory over the last however long, it is they who turned a post prohibition America onto wine. Ernest took control of sales and marketing whilst Julio took control of winemaking.

From the Gallo website "Ernest was among the pioneers of wine advertising on television, and he launched many memorable wine advertising campaigns. Ernest and Julio were first in the U.S. wine industry to establish their own national sales force; first to introduce brand management and modern merchandising to the wine industry; first in breakthrough quality initiatives such as long-term grower contracts for varietal grapes and major grape research programs; first to establish a truly significant foreign sales and marketing force to export California wines overseas; and pioneers in bringing new products to store shelves. Also, they were pivotal in establishing Sonoma County as one of the premier wine growing regions in the world."

"The son of Italian immigrants, Ernest was born March 18, 1909, in Jackson, California, about 90 miles east of San Francisco in the Sierra Nevada foothills. His parents, Giuseppe (Joe) and Assunta (Susie), ran a boardinghouse for immigrant miners. It was not an easy life. After moving several times, in the early 1920s Joe bought a small farm in Modesto, California, about 70 miles east of San Francisco. Ernest and Julio, who was one year his junior, were required to come home directly from school to work in the fields, and they worked all weekend as well. It was here, in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, that the family’s grapes were harvested and loaded on rail cars for shipment to Chicago for sale to home winemakers, a small market dominated by immigrant communities in the big cities of the East and Midwest.
By age 17, Ernest was already displaying his talent for salesmanship, traveling by himself to Chicago, where he was able to sell his family’s grapes and hold his own against older and wiser men. The experience instilled in him an independent, self-assertive nature and a fierce work ethic that remained with Ernest throughout his life.
For a brief time the family business prospered, but the Depression brought renewed hardship. In 1933, both parents died deeply in debt. Determined to pay off his father’s debts and seeing an opportunity with the impending end of Prohibition, Ernest decided to start the Gallo winery. He asked his brother Julio to join him. Julio was “the one person I knew who was willing to work as hard and as long as I did,” he explained in the brothers’ 1994 autobiography, “Ernest & Julio: Our Story.”
The Gallo brothers pursued a dream few could ever envision. Their starting capital was limited to less than $6,000, with $5,000 of that borrowed from Ernest’s mother-in-law. In the first few years after Repeal in 1933, hundreds of companies were entering the wine business – more than 800 in California alone, some of them with extensive pre-Prohibition experience and access to millions of dollars.
The brothers began without knowing how to make wine commercially. Ernest and Julio learned by reading old, pre-Prohibition pamphlets put out by the University of California and retrieved from the basement of the Modesto Public Library.
At the age of 24, however, Ernest had confidence in his and his brother’s ability and stated “we could do anything anyone else could do – not because I was brilliant or well educated, but because I was willing to devote as much time and effort as was necessary, regardless of the sacrifice.”
The sacrifice was often great. During the company’s infancy, the Gallo brothers often worked around the clock, sometimes 36 hours straight. In the first year, the winery produced 177,847 gallons of wine and earned its first profit. It became routine to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Although he cut back in recent years, Ernest remained active in the business on a daily basis until his death.
“There are few stories that match up to that of my father, Julio, and my uncle, Ernest,” said Bob Gallo, Julio’s son. “They built this company on a very clear set of principles that we still follow today: hard work; respect for the land; respect for the wine industry; respect for the employees; respect for the grower; respect for the family; and respect for our competition. Not only did they start a company 70 years ago, they also established a culture that thrives today.”
Over the 1940s and 1950s, Ernest introduced modern techniques of merchandising and brand management to the wine industry, including such techniques as a dedicated sales force, point-of-sale displays, outdoor billboards and later television advertising. Between 1948 and 1955 alone, the winery’s sales nearly quadrupled, from four million gallons a year to 14 million.
The company also grew through vertical integration. E. & J. Gallo Winery continued to acquire vineyards, expanded its wineries, storage and distribution facilities, and built its own glass plant. It also established the Gallo Research Laboratory, which became a distinguished center of research on all facets of wine production. These strategic additions helped the company achieve its primary mission – to provide consumers with consistently high-quality wine at the best possible price.
“While I am deeply saddened by the death of my Uncle Ernest, I am grateful for the many wonderful memories I have of growing up with my father, Julio, and my uncle,” said Susann Coleman, Julio’s daughter. “They led amazing lives and they were great examples of what you can achieve through hard work and dedication. To me, the greatest lesson they taught us was the importance of family.”
Ernest sought to maximize every opportunity life provided him. He also appreciated the role good fortune played in his and Julio’s success. They started their business at the right time; they had each other as brothers; they married two wonderful wives, Amelia and Aileen; they had children and grandchildren, many of whom joined the family business; and they were able to find and attract some of the most talented and dedicated employees in the United States.
Over the course of his lifetime, Ernest was recognized with many awards and honors. Among them were the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Wine Spectator’s Distinguished Service Award, and the American Society of Enologists’ Merit Award.
Ernest worked hard on behalf of his industry, and he served on many industry marketing boards and trade organizations, including the board of the Wine Institute. He was chairman of the Wine Institute from 1957-1959. Ernest also founded the Maynard A. Amerine Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis, which was the first endowed chair in the University’s Department of Viticulture and Enology. "

Monday, March 05, 2007

Waitrose Burgundy 2005 En Primeur

I was very interested to receive a well put together brochure with this months Decanter, from Waitrose offering Burgundy 2005's EP. It's a very well put together brochure, so Waitrose must make some decent money from their offerings otherwise they wouldn't spend the money creating a lovely brochure which then goes out to how ever many thousands of people. The wines too are a good looking selection, now I'm really not a Burgundy drinker - don't get me wrong I'd love to be, but put quite simply I wouldn't really know where to start - I guess that comes as you get a wine merchant you know and trust recommending Burgundy to you, but as it stands with each vineyard in different hands, unless I'm going to buy Domaine de la Romanee Conti (DRC) (which I'm not - I don't have that kind of budget!) who is a good producer and who is not, and who is good in which years? Equally should I look for wines from Vosne or Gevrey, and bearing in mind that I doubt I'll ever have the money for a Grand Cru Richebourg from a great producer, what is there that is good value?
The Waitrose lists starts with a very modestly priced Bourgogne Rouge, Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair at just £27.50 for 6 bottles, and has wines all the way up to a Richebourg Grand Cru Gros for £650 per 6. Now it seems to me that for a complete novice the £27.50 asking price is well worth it on the "at that price it's worth a try" philosophy, and there are certainly other things there to keep you interested at most price points. Even more tellingly the list is actually not being run by Waitrose at all, but rather by Lay and Wheeler, a well respected merchant based in Suffolk who ought to know what they're doing - as does Susan McCraith MW who put the list together for Waitrose, so would I buy from them - of course - even I, with my very small amount of expendible income can afford £30 for 6 bottle of Burgundy and the higher you go up the price bracket the more appealing it seems to be.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Abadal Reserva 2001

Visiting friends in Devon, they opened this bottle from Totnes Wine Company, it comes from Spain from the little known region of Pla de Bages DO. A deep purple colour, with a developing nose of vanilla, coconut, redcurrant and raspberries with lovely savory cedar flavours, mixed with some great red fruit flavours. If I'm being critical - which lets face it I have to be, I'd say that it's not ready for drinking just yet - as with almost every wine drunk in the world, it's being drunk too soon if you let this get too close to your gums and cheeks the puckering of the tannins is really quite off putting - but if you just let it go down it is quite delightful. But, give it somewhere between 2-5 or even 7 years and you'd start to have something really rather nice on your hands.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sainsbury's Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

You may remember that this is on offer in Sainsbury's, and that I've heard on the grapevine that it's suprisingly good - so I bought a bottle to find...
And yes, it is really very good - it makes sense really it's made by Katnook a really good maker, and the fruit is sourced from Coonawarra, rather than one of the mass production areas of Murray Darling and Riverland and compared to a lot of it's rivals it's got a little bit of age - if you look around the budget Australian wines in the supermarket chances are that the majority of them will be 2005 with a smattering of 2006 - in fact I'd go so far as to say that I think this is the best value Cabernet to be had in the UK right now.
A deep purple core, with aromas of blackcurrant, vanilla, oak and a slight minty/eucalyptus with high, but soft and integrated tannins and flavours of blackcurrant and coffee. Acidity is bang on giving the wine lovely balance - I was a little worried by the 14% alcohol, but you know what? This wine carries it off with aplomb - it really is delicious and if you want to spend £6 on a bottle of wine you'd be hard pressed to find anything better - the one thing that bothered me was the back label - "consume in 1 year after purchase" - you what? Cabernet? Drink when less than 4 years old? Are you sure? Now it may be that they expect you to store this upright next to a cooker - in which case storage may not happen - and it does have a synthetic cork so ageing for a long time may not happen - but it might - and it's got to be good for 3 years minimum I'd have thought - this is something that's not going to go away - so it's something I'm going to look at around the place and try and find some answers. Watch this space!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Terroir Languedoc - Follow Up

I e-mailed terroir to talk about the feature and received the following reply -

Thank you so much for writing us up on your blog and for letting me know about it. I am delighted that you chose to write about us and what I have read of your blog is extremely interesting and informative. I am very much looking forward to the launch of your new website later in the year.

If you would like any information on any wines or growers from the Languedoc-Roussillon please do not hesitate to let me know and I look forward to reading the article on St Chinian.

We are in the middle of an overhaul of the website and I do plan to put some mixed cases on there which I agree would be a good idea. We also offer mixed cases at a discount in our quarterly newsletter. If you would like to be added to the mailing list please do let me know.

In terms of the shipping costs which you mentioned, I agree that £11.75 shipping does seem steep and I plan to lower it this year. We do offer free delivery on orders of over 60 bottles as well. We have most of our wines delivered from London City Bond and their charges, even to central London, which is the cheapest, are higher than £11.75 but I think this is something we are going to have subsidise so we can offer cheaper delivery.

Thanks again Tim for the write up and I will be in touch when the new website is launched.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Terroir Languedoc

I stumbled across this merchant quite by accident whilst hunting down a Canet-Valette wine, and so had a good look at their list - and I have to say that their range of St Chinian wines is brilliant. I can;t say what their delivery or service are like - but I can tell you that any merchant stocking Canet-Valette, La Gloire de Mon Pere (Clos Bagatelle) and Domaine Rimbert must have something going for it.

The wines of the Languedoc really are fabulous, and a £20 bottle from a relatively unknown producer like Canet-Valette or Clos Bagatelle, would cost a great deal more if it said Pauillac on the label. Throw in some Mas Champart and you are talking about the very best producers - if you note that Mas de Daumas Gassac is available too, you know that the company are selling only the top quality stuff. Oh yes, if you want to buy top quality and great prices then you need look no further - we all know the wines of the Languedoc are the best value and amongst the most exciting on the planet - but the amount produced makes it very hard to seperate the wheat from the chaff - Terroir France have done that for you. Perhaps the only drawback is the £11.75 delivery charge - which to be honest seems just a little but steep - although I am prepared to be corrected on that!

The range from the rest of the Languedoc is huge, and looks really interesting - I can't claim to be any sort of expert however all the other producing regions are covered - I couldn't find any taster cases, or mixed cases on their website -you can mix your own, with a one bottle minimum (apparently - I haven't confirmed this - but you are able to add one bottle alone to you shopping basket)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Everyone's Blogging

Blogging is getting more and more popular, more people are blogging everyday, and today I note that the Aldi wine buyer has started a wine blog on the Aldi website - it has to be said that from the two entried made so far it's not going to be a blog I'm going to add to my daily reading list - Aldi's wine are indeed exceptionally well priced - and he goes into some detail about what makes a wine more expensive - and that he tries to make every 50p count - but at the end of the day he's talking about £3 wines which aren't the most interesting in the world. If you are interested check out for the blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Domaine La Linquiere St Chinian AOC

Just let me know if you're getting bored of this yet! At some stage I'll get around to writing an article on St Chinian - although to be fair Decanter did do an article last year (May perhaps?) which was a useful starting point for wine exploration - although it doesn't look like the writer was that adventurous in hunting down domaines - more like he visited one or two and then went to the local Maison du Vin and asked to taste some wines for decanter and rated what they gave him!

Tradition 2005Sweet raspberry and plum fruit, no oak, no further complexity – tannins a little rough. The wine was, by common consent – including the winemaker – too young. Drinkable but not much more. 78

Tradition 2004Riper, fuller and more open. Medium bodied with more development and greater depth of flavour and smoothness. Still the same red fruit flavours and very reasonable for less than 6 Euros. 80

Chants des Cigales 200412 months in oak with Syrah dominating. Sweet red fruit, great finesse and charm with freshness and structure backing up the generous forest fruit flavours. 82

Chants des Cigales 2003Oakier and more animal than the younger vintage, more developed, a bigger fuller wine and all the better for it. Still has plenty of structure, and despite the year still has some refreshing acidity whilst being medium/full bodied. Will keep for 3-7 years however 2003’s are drinking better than other recent vintages right now in lots of cases and this is true here – 2002 was a bit of a dud and 2003 is maturing fast. Drink these now and the 2001’s for the next 5 years at least. 84

Still a few more Domaines to cover.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chateau Cazal Viel / Dmne Laurent Miquel

In case anyone is not yet getting bored with St. Chinian tasting notes ad nauseam from me - this is another of the Domaines I visited - again actually two domaines in one - Chateau Cazal-Viel run by the Miquel family for donkey's years and Laurent Miquel - the new proprietor who makes wines other than those that daddy made - and without his continued "interest"Syrah dominates and they obviously are trying to pretend they are in the Northern Rhone , including a 95% Syrah with 5% Viognier blend.

Larent Miquel Syrah 2004Well extracted, good colour and spice and blackcurrent aromas with a touch of raspberry. A little green on the palate.82

Laurent Miquel Cabernet Syrah 2005Fruity nose typical of the varieties, mint, eucalyptus and black fruit. Fresh on the palate, simple - but perhaps a bit too new world in style for me. 85

Laurent Miquel Syrah Nord Sud 2004Warm cloves and cinnamon, a very open style of wine, smooth in style but the palate was not as approachable as the nose suggested. Blackcurrent and raspberry fruit - again a little new world in style but needs 2-3 years. 82

Laurent Miquel Bardou 2003 100% Syrah, 1 year in new oak.Vanilla, forest fruits, cassis, cinnamon and nutmeg - wonderfully complex - a nice wine indeed, but once more it needs 2-5 more years to be at it's best when it'll hit the high 80's. For now 81

Laurent Miquel Larmes des Fees 2001100% Syrah, 2 years in new oak.Blackcurrant, cinnamon and a touch of peppery spice, a lovely smoothness and gentleness without being flabby. A delicate wine of great finesse, rather than a blow your socks off type wine. Far more French that the others! 89

Cazal Viel Vielle Vignes 2004A blend of Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cinsault. Cherry, vanilla and plums with smooth silky styling, cut through with good acidity giving a lovely freshness on the palate. However a little one dimensional in flavour for my liking. 85

Cazal Viel Cuvee des Fees 200195% Syrah, 5% Viognier A Cote Rotie wannabe of a wine.Plummy stone fruit, vanilla and a touch of apricot, I don't like it and instead of Cote Rotie I end up thinking more of Zontes Footstep - avoid this one! I spat this out and didn't bother continuing the tasting as it was last up and didn't want to leave with that taste too strongly in my mouth. 71

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tesco Offers Again!

Once again Tesco online wine has some really pretty decent offers which are worth pointing out :-

Torres Mas La Plana 6 for £105.60 (save 26.40) is a steal.

Reserve de la Comtesse £81.99 or just £13.67 a bottle for some serious claret.

Guigal Cote Rotie (doesn't say which one) £100 for 6 £79.95 or Guigal St Joesph reduced to just £50.

Clos Bagatelle AOC St Chinian

The latest of my St Chinian TN's to go up - Clos Bagatelle is two Domaines in one - Clos Bagatelle and another whose name I forget - basically speaking there are two major soil types (as well as a few others) Shiste and Clay/Limestone. Clos Bagatelle make wines which try to reflect the terroir on both soil types under two different domaine names.
Cuvee Tradition 2005 (Syrah/Carignan,Grenache)Simple silky red fruits, plummy hints and a little gentle herbaceous character - a very clean wine. 78
Cuvee Camille et Juliette 2004 Rosemary and thyme with red fruits and liquorice, a more open style, but with plenty of structure although the fruit flavours are distinctly lackinmg on the palate. 76
Cuvee Mathieu et Marie 2003Deep plum and dark fruit flavours, a charming wine with rounded fruit character, slips down a little too easily. A bit of a crowd pleaser that won't hurt anyone. 82
Cuvee Vielle D'Autumn 2002Spends 1 year in oak - Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache.Mahogany colour, with lovely herbal, vanilla and blackberry fruits, the wine was just opened and was less open than it might be, but would probably have opened up after an amount of time. Fairly complex and smooth with good structure and acidity. A little less finesse than some and less body than others. 86
La Gloire de Mon Pere 2001 - Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan. 14 months in new oak.Fantastic aromas and a slightly porty, full on style. Vanilla, plums and black cherry fruit flavours, a smooth velvety palate - flavours on the spectrum of a good LBV port, but much lighter, totally dry and good balancing acidity and tannin giving balance to the fruit. A very good wine indeed. 93

Friday, February 16, 2007

Hitlers wine up for sale

Plymouth auction rooms are to auction off a bottle of 1943 'Fuhrerwein' which was given by Hitler to Nazi generals to celebrate his 54th birthday. The wine is in fact a humble "Schwarzer Tafelwein " and was discovered in a garage in France and sold to a buyer from Plymouth. The seller hopes to raise around £500 from the sale of the wine.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sainsbury's Drinks Festival

Once again it's that time of year when Sainsbury's drinks festival tells us that it's now ok to drink again, and for those of us on the wagon since Christmas (well ok, those of YOU on the wagon) it's time to fall off. As in recent years this is all drinks and not just wine, though the wine itself is largely, but unsuprisingly uninspiring stuff - but there are bound to be exceptions!

Look out for - Bouchard Pere et Fils Pinot Noir - Save 25% was £5.99 now £4.49 - remarkable to find a wine from a top Burgundy producer for less than £5 - I'll be honest I haven't tasted it - but for £4.50 it's got to be worth a punt.

I'll be reviewing Sainsbury's Coonawarra Cabernet, Taste the Difference 75cl in the next couple of weeks - Save 25% was £6.99 now £5.24 but rumour has it that this is a truly wonderful Aussie Cabernet at a wonderful price - and with 25% off (blow I only bought mine on Sunday before the offer started!) it even better value. Sainsbury's have been really canny here, they've got a top Coonawarra Cabernet winery, Katnook, to make this for them so the wine making expertise is there and it's not from some tinpot winery. More importantly is that it's from Coonawarra - that means the grapes are from there, which means a quality product - they're not from the Murray-Darling or Riverland huge, vast terroirless, irrigated outback that most cheap Aussie plonk comes from - no in this case they're from probably the finest terroir in Australia for the Cabernet variety and I for one am looking forward to seeing what's up! Keep an eye out for the review later in the month, and if you've tasted it - leave your comments below!

Wine Blog Wednesday

After my recent foray into Wine Blog Wednesday last week, the next event has been released - though to be fair I'm not sure exactly whether I'll be partaking or not. Wine Blog Wednesday 31 is a call for the blogging community to "think outside the bottle".

The host for March's event is perhaps unsuprising -, and the full theme is box wines & non-traditional packaging”. For the UK, this could prove something of a challenge, all the wine I've seen in a bix has been cheap and uninspiring wine, which frankly given my current lack of spondoolies means I'm unlikely to spend over £10 on something I'm not terribly keen to have. Having said that, should I walk into a wine shop and see a can or something else that looks interesting and isn't going to cost the earth then I'm game.

Way back in December 2005 I reported on the sparkling wine in a can from Coppola/Niebaum named after the film directors daughter Sophia - avaialable in a 4 pack I'd give that a try without a doubt - it's just a shame I can only find it in the US!

Grapestalk Magazine

The Association of Small Direct Winemerchants (ASDW) periodically publish a magazine online at their website ( The current winter 2007 issue is now online and includes artciles on Pinotage (the marmite of grapes!), the wines of Jura, and Domaine de Anges. A worthwhile read and totally free here.

The ASDW brings together a whole host of small direct merchants, who more often than not specialise in one particular area of wine, for intance Henry Speer and Champers only does, surprisingly Champagne! I had the chance a couple of years ago at the Henley Wine Fair to meet a couple of the merchants and much of the time was impresses with their offerings - particularly on my second visit when I drank the red wines before I'd had so much white I couldn't tell a Syrah from Gamay!

Labels on the site

As you may have noticed there are now just a few labels attached to posts to help you sort through past tasting notes etc. etc. This is probably going to take a little bit of time so please bear with me, in the meantime I'm also adding more and more sites to the links section as I not only discover more and more sites, but also as I revisit old sites which are now beginning to go through upgrades. One thing I have noticed in the last few days is the large number of people who right now are going about upgrading their blog interface - these are more than often the stallwarts of the wine blogging world who have not only been around for a while but have inspired many of us. Jamie Goode over at Wine Anorak is one who has just made the leap to blogger software.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Couldn't Sleep

Last night I couldn't sleep, and somewhere between Skysports News and BBC1 I stumbled across one of those shopping channels - this being one of those channels which goes along the lines that the more people who buy the more the price drops. Well last night flicking past they were selling some wine - so I checked it out - "Elephant Crossing", Wine of South Africa - never heard of it - but that shouldn't be a surprise - neither had Google!

So what was this foul mix? A blend of Ruby Cabernet and Cinsault (I know sounds aweful already!) Selling from an original price of £54 for 12 (hmm nearly £5 a bottle - sounds a bit steep to me!) to £36.99 for 12 (still overpriced at just over £3 a bottle!) To make matters that bit more interesting they then stuck a further £8 for delivery on top - so now, they're selling the worst of the worst on telly too? Made my blood boil!

Tip Jar

Setting up the new site is beginning to cost me hard cash, in fact to the point where I now don't have any money for wine! Eeek - how scary! So if you appreciate this site, and are looking forward to the new site, perhaps think about donating a few pence to the cause - remember I can't make a profit so no money will actually go in my pocket - but will go towards making the new site as good as it possibly can be. Just hit the donation button and put a few pence down - if you want to that is!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Inexpensive Wines

Ok, so it's all very well drinking wonderful wines that cost the earth, but for most of us mere mortals we simply don't have that amount of money to spend on wine all that often. So, either we cut back and drink one lovely bottle of wine every month or two, or we have to cut the bottle price somehow. The problem of course is that once you get a taste for something really decent - drinking that £5 chilean merlot reduced to £3 somehow doesn't exactly excite - in fact it's almost likely to make you give up the juice! What is there out there for less than £10 that's worth drinking? Over on the Superplonk forum they used to make a speciality of this, but sadly it's all gone quiet and we haven't had much to recommend for a long while - now we're not talking special offers here - we're talking everyday, full retail price - and I'm not expecting a bottle of Cheval Blanc for £7 to appear either (although that would be wonderful) so get your thinking caps on, your taste buds attuned and join me as I try and find wines that are worth drinking again and again for less that £10.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wine Knowledge Game

Test your wine knowledge at this fun, but also quite testing game, challenging you on your knowledge of the 1855 classification, the appelations and classifications of Burgundy, grape varieties and producing regions - leave your scores as comments below.

Wine Game

Have fun!


Friday, February 09, 2007

2007 American Wine Blog Awards

The finalists in seven categories in the 2007 American Wine Blog Awards were announced today. The Awards, the first of their kind, honor the best in wine blogging. Public voting in the seven categories is now underway at FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog ( Voting will close on Friday, February 16.
The finalists in the 2007 American Wine Blog Awards include:

Best Single Subject Blog

Best Winery Blog

Best Wine Podcast or VideoBlog

Best Wine Blog Graphics

Best Wine Reviewing Blog

Best Wine Blog Writing

Best Overall Wine Blog

The American Wine Blog Awards are conducted by Tom Wark, proprietor of “FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog”. Wark instituted the Awards to draw attention to the high caliber of content and ideas being produced on the more than 400 wine blogs that now exist on the Internet.

“Anyone who looks over the Awards finalists will discover there is enormous talent and dedication in the wine blogosphere,” noted Wark. “What we are seeing is a renaissance of the wine writing genre being spurred on by citizen wine writers and the blogging format.”

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

St Hallet Blackwell Shiraz 2002 (WBW)

This is not the very top of the range, but it is still pretty good- sure it's probably not in Grange league - not that I've ever had the chance to try - it is however still pretty blooming good. It may even not be as good as the celebrated Old Block (another on my "to do" list). This fits neatly between the St. Faith entry level Shiraz and the Old Block - a clear step up from the former. This was packed with aromas of vanilla, pepper and blackberry and plums and tasted every bit as good as it smelled. Sometimes wine is nice and sometimes it is really exciting - and this for me was exciting. Ready to drink now, but it would equally last another 5-7 years - the problem being it will be brilliantly nice at every stage - none better than the other - just different - so when to drink it?! (88)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - a new way of wine on the web

Somehow or other I discovered this site a while back, and I've been watching it with interest. A relatively new venture (they only launched in October 2006) I was initially reluctant to recommend them to anyone - it wasn't that they didn't appear to have good wines on offer - it was just that as a brand new venture they modus operandi could well change, and indeed that has been the case - and to the benefit of their customers.
The initial offering was an interesting concept, everyday they offered one wine for sale, when it was gone it was gone and you could buy between one and three bottles, paying around £4 for delivery. Interestingly it had me hooked, checking every single day I could get near a computer to see what the offering was for the day, and sadly missing out on their "bottle of plonk" days when instead of a new wine, you paid £6 to get a bottle of something they had left over - you never knew what but it was likely to be good and worth a great deal more.
I don't know if they intended to change the way they worked once they got more people to visit their site, and whether this initial phase was just a marketing tool or not, but what I do know is that right now you can pay a flat rate of £5.99 on delivery (others charge for orders less than £x often as much as £15) and can order anything from a single bottle.

You see, they understand that a lot of us want to buy a fine wine, but we may not want a whole case of something we've never tasted, just because Robert Parker tells us it's really good. But equally if you wanted to order cases then that would be fine too.

And you know what, their wine list may be relatively short, but it is very interesting, well priced and most importantly for their offering, always changing. New wines are added all the time, and for geeks like me, they've made it easy to see which are the new ones.

Prices too are competitive, and occasionally exceptional, last week for instance a 1981 Grand Puy Ducasse was selling at half price for around £14 a bottle - that's £14 for a 25 year old classed growth claret. Similarly the list currently shows a 1971 Lafite for change from £100, which whilst I don't know a great deal about the prices these things should fetch seems to me to be wonderful value.

They have also sourced a great range of Canadian wines, and icewines in particular, I can't pass judgement on the wines themselves, but the point is that they've got a range and won't cost the earth to try a bottle - and you only need to try one!

The range is interesting and eclectic, the prices don't seem outrageous, and the minimum order is one bottle with a flat delivery charge - what a wonderful site - we need people like this to be in the wine business - and I for one hope they make a great success of it - they certainly deserve to. I should add by the way, that I have no affiliation to or their owners.

Check them out at

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tesco wins the online offers this week

A little while ago Sainsbury's had some fantastic offers online, and now it's the turn of Tesco - and some of these really do have the WOW factor! Remember that the prices I've quoted are almost always for 6 bottles.

Luxury Occasions Mixed Case - This mixed case contains one bottle of each of the following: Lagunilla Gran Reserva Rioja, Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Dows Master Blend Late Bottle Vintage port, Tesco Finest Fino sherry, Laphroaig 10 Year Old Single Malt Whisky (NB - 70Cl BOTTLE) and Moet & Chandon Brut Non-Vintage Champagne reduced from £81.74 to £62 - a bargain in anyones books.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Vintage Brut - £28.44

Penfolds Premium Mixed Case - £150 from £200 - Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2001, Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2000 and Penfolds RWT Shiraz 2001. Some truly sublime wines, from the maker of the best of the lot - these are a 3 different price points up to over £40 a bottle retail for the RWT - these are wines to really show off with.

Lagunilla Rioja Gran Reserva 1999 - £45 (save £30) - nice enough Rioja often the same sort of price for one in Sainsbury's but good value nonetheless.

St. Hallett Premium mixed case - £75 from £100 - containing 3 each of Blackwell Shiraz and the legendary old block Shiraz - these retail at £13 and £22 each per bottle normally - making this a real steal - outstanding value!

Some great wines - oh and just for your amusement - it seems that the local Tesco (remembering I live in Tescotown) thinks that red wines ought to be sold chilled like their white wines - no I'm not talking something like a Brown Brothers Tarrango or even a light Beaujolais - this was an Italian Merlot (La Gioiosa) and a Minervois - neither of which want to be anywhere near the fridge - I didn't like to say anything - but amazingly it looked to me as if someone had bought at least one of them (5 bottles left on the shelf) oh and if you need to ask - no I don't have a real life and yes it does matter!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another Wine writer takes a swipe at bloggers

Whilst reading the current (March 07) copy of Olive magazine (my wife's magazine subscription as opposed to my Decanter) I came across the wine column (how very surprising!). Headlined "Net Gains" Wine Nerds have always loved the Internet, and now they are busy setting up blogs to tell the world about their favorite wine.

Max Allen, starts by introducing the idea of wine websites, and the fact there are indeed spawns and spawns of wine related blogs out there, and admits that they do range from fascinatingly addictive to just plain awful (just, he says, like all other blogs out there). So far so perfectly fair. He then goes on to make generalisations - most blogs are either - what I drank last night or what a lark this would be I hope people send me some free wine. These, he says, are not the blogs he liked preferring blogs that give him an eye on another corner of the globe (has he never realised that everywhere is another corner of the globe to someone!) or "quirky" blogs!
He does recommend some good sites, and then goes on to remind us that most, general wineblogs are mundane - well I'm sorry Max - if you ever read any blogs anyway - which I somehow doubt - but most blogs aren't actually written for you to read anyway. You seem worried that anyone can do it - and immediately you're then telling us about Neal Martin and Jamie Goode - who are admittedly the two greatest bloggers out there in the UK scene - but I think you've given yourself away a bit - could it be that as a writer your concern is not that the writing is bad, or that it's just plain boring - let's face it - if they're bad then you have no worry about them because noone will read them - could it actually be that your worried that not being called Jancis yourself, not being well know that perhaps your services are under threat. After all if everyone can read what they like about wine online free of charge, why would anyone want to pay you to write something?

So I popped into Majestic...

... just to see what they had going on and found 20% off Chilean wines when you buy any 2 - great offer and they have some great Chilean wines out there from the Adobe Merlot - which in my opinion is the best sub £5 Merlot on the planet right now, through the Cono Sur and Concha Y Toro ranges up to the excellent Montes range and Casa Lapostolle Merlot at 20% off is a great buy.
On their tasting bench I found 2 Sauvignons and 3 Cabernets, Robertson Winery 2006 was pretty poor really (even at £4 a bottle on offer when you buy 2) as was the Cabernet from the same winery - I certainly wouldn't be thinking of buying these - and neither should you - you can buy cheaper if you want to buy rubbish!
Montes 2005 Cabernet was full on and fruity - everything you might expect from a Chilean Cab. and you know what - it really would be better if they gave it a bit longer before launching it - and I think I'd give it a little more in the way of oak - but there we go.
The buy for me however was amazing - I'm not normally one to promote a Bordeaux under £10, particularly Cabernet dominated blends - a little Lalande de Pomerol, or one of the Cotes or St. Emilion satellites perhaps but not a Medoc - BUT - this is a little gem of a wine - Château du Monthyl 2000, Médoc - wonderful almonds, cedar, rich fruit, supple but grippy tannins - I delighted in it - and you know what - I'd even go so far as to say that at £6.49 (£5.99 when you buy at least 2) you would be hard pushed to find something quite so refined, quite as smooth and complex as this with poise, balance and refinement for the price - if you do let me know! For now - go out and buy this - and -plenty of it. (87)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Summertown Wine Cafe

I ventured back to the Summertown Wine Cafe last night, with friends and it was the first time I'd been back in a long while to one of my favourite haunts, and had a very nice time indeed without spending a penny - certainly one of the best ways to spend a Sunday evening - and so onto the wines :-

Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Giustino B. 2003
Almost colourless with youthful green apple flavours - delicious and easy drinking a little perhaps like a dry alcoholic appletise! (82)

Bimbadgen Pinot Grigio 2005
Pears, almonds and perhaps a touch of apple, a little elderflower make this decent, drinkable PG though for my money overpriced at over £10. (81)

Domaine des Chezelles Sauvignon Blanc 2005
A Sauvignon de Tourraine with masses of gooseberry and astringent herbaceous character, no great finesses and perhaps lacking a little too much in ripeness. (80)

Glenwood Chardonnay 2005 Franshoek
Golden, oaked buttery Chardonnay, everything you might expect. Some nice smokey character that won't appeal to everyone, but I liked it and added into the mix were some lovely tropical flavours. (83)

Westbrook Pinot Noir (Marlborough) 2005
Lovely silky red, with wonderful texture and aromas of cherry garcia ice cream - however sadly the intensity of flavour is lacking - there is plenty of acidity, but not enough flavour or grip to make this really work for me. (80)

Mitchelton Preece Merlot 2005 (Victoria)
A very youthful Merlot - too youthful and there were too many herbaceous green characters in the wine to make it pleasant. Not sure what they've done here but I think it could be that the grapes never achieved phenolic ripeness, either that or they put too many stalks into the mix to generate a bit of extra tannin. (74)

Blasson D'Issan 2002 (Margaux)
2nd wine of Chateau D'Issan, and very drinkable, if not awe inspiring and also about £5 too much a bottle (£19). Tannins were still a little rough, but there is quality wine making underneath and this will be lovely in 2-5 years, it's just for £5 more you can pick up a bottle of Pavillon Rouge, or indeed a bottle of Reserve de la Comtesse for the same price from a better vintage. Still that doesn't make it a bad wine and it's one that it definately worth drinking. (86)

Le Clos de Caillou Cotes du Rhone 2004
Very decent peppery grenache based wine, everything you'd expect from a really decent basic level Cotes Du Rhone - quite why it's the price of much better wine is beyond me H&H Bancroft sell it at £7.75 a bottle. Bit of a rip off but decent wine again. (81)

Quinta de Lagoalva 2004
I loved this wine, it's the second time I've had a Portuguese wine in the SWC and it's the second time I've fallen in love with it, the last time it was the Esporao from Aletenjo this time it's from the Ribatejo. A blend of Cabernet, Syrah and an indigenous grape (I forget which but not one I'd heard of before) wild herbs, blackcurrants, raspberries, a huge wine, full bodied with those same flavours as Port without the depth, sweetness and alcohol. I loved it! (87)

Greenstone Vineyard Shiraz 2005
Well made Shiraz, but a little unexciting - tasted like a young Aussie shiraz - may well develop into something great and would still be around in 10-15 years if you wanted it to be! Tannins were struggling to integrate and the texture was more sandpaper than velvet. (81)

Henriques and Henriques Vintage 1995
A sweet Madeira, I never found out which grapes but I'd lay my odds on Malvasia (Malmsey) it did all the right things in the right places, a bit of a liquid Dundee cake (a fruit cake with almonds on top). Very good indeed. (88)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Musings on Chocolate

Last night whilst at an events at my wife's work - a chocolate evening I was left wondering - what to drink with chocolate. It's something that comes in so many guises - let's for a minute forget white chocolate which is completely lacking in any cocoa solids - yet from deep dark and bitter to creamy and sweet chocolate is a tough thing to try and match any wine to. The texture is something that is chocolates alone - so what can you drink? What will go well?
Forget drinking a lovely deep red Bordeaux or tannic red - no the thing to look for here is something sweet - but I'm not talking a Sauternes nor am I going to suggest Tokaji - no I'm going for a sweet red wine - ideal is one of the many Vin Doux Naturels produced, much of the time from Grenache, in Southern France and in the Rhone valley. Look for Rasteau Vin Doux Naturels (The Big Red Wine Company do a lovely one - or perhaps something from the Languedoc, a Banyuls or look out for the lesser known Maury - particularly the lovely 1928 Solera Maury - a really stunning wine with the depth and flavour to cope with anything chocolate can throw at it - sumptuous doesn't say enough!
If you're tempted to try something from the New World - go out and hunt down an Australian gem of Liqueur Muscat - a speciality of the Rutherglen region and there are two that are worth looking out for in particular, Brown Brothers produce a lovely dark, wine with muscovado flavours and Campbell's is a stunning buy at around £6 a bottle (available I believe in Waitrose!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

M&S Tupungato Cabernert/Malbec 2005 (26/1/07)

Tasted this just last night for the first time having heard good things about it for a while - thanks to a few chaps I occasionally read at online message boards (cheers Mark & Boo!) but as usual it's taken me a while to get around to trying something (I suspect it was about the 2002 vintage these guys were going on about!) it always seems that just when I'm about to buy one of these recommendations something else catches my eye. Anyway what was it like? Well for £6.50 you really can't complain about this - it's wonderfully put together for the price - as you'd expect being from the Catena Zapata stable full of blackberries and autumn fruit flavours, hints of cinnamon and a little stewed apple. Toasted almonds and vanilla - a wonderful winter warmer - with soft tannins and fresh acidity cutting through the wine to keep it on track - it is by no means too acidic but is well balanced. I can safely say I haven't tasted anything quite like it before and from that perspective it was really interesting. I guess my only issue is that I tend to buy better these days - 2 years ago it would have wowed my socks off - but today nice, drinkable, very gluggable but not for a special occasion. (82)

Ravenswood Old Vine Sonoma County Zin 2001

I tasted this in December 2005 - and such has been my lack of discipline that it's only now that I'm writing it up - which is a shame because this was lovely.

I'm a big fan of what Joel Peterson does at Ravenswood, he's set out to produce big fat juicy Zin as well as he can - and succeeds. The Vintner's Blend range is at the bottom of the tree, followed by the regional wines, which both Lodi and this Sonoma are part of and which also includes a very good Amador Country representative. This is the top of that particular range (and at £13 is also the most expensive) before we get into the single vineyard Zins.
Garnet coloured, with a full on nose of almonds, cloves, plums, cherrys and vanilla - a complex web beautifully weaved together - if more zin was like this then it certainly wouldn't receive the bad press it can get.
Once in your mouth, you know you're into a lovely zin, full bodied with firm integrated tannins and a touch of acidity balance the wine wonderfully. Leather, game black cherry, liquorice and figs flavours are warming and velvety. (88)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sainsbury's Online Offers

Whilst looking around for some offers on the web, I came across the Sainsbury's online wine sale, and found there were actually some decent things to be had.

Umberto Cesari Tauleto Sangiovese Rubicone 2000 - 6 bottles reduced from £148.14 to £108.14. Winner of Antorini Trophy for Best Sangiovese, 2004 IWSC.
"Deep red in colour with a ripe, perfumed nose of cherry and menthol mixed with spice. The palate is dry with firm structure and a long, spicy finish."

Castillo de Calatrava Gran Reserva 1996 La Mancha Spain - Half Price £29.94 for 6

Spy Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2002 New Zealand £34.09 for 6

Berberana Carta de Oro Reserva 2001 Rioja £28.44 for 6 (save £18)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Baden (Germany)

Baden is Germany's warmest wine producing region, (as well as the furthest South) and it is here that the best German red wines are made from Spatburgunder (which is Pinot Noir to you and I!). The best wines of the region come from Kaiserstuhl-Tuniberg where the mineral rich soil and vineyards in a large sun trap work together to give the wines extra body. These wines are however not cheap, both because of the quality and because of the strong demands of the domestic markets. It is common to use new oak barriques to age the wines and the pinot's are very fruity and full bodied. NameWins to looks our for include Bercher and Dr Heger.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Woodstock - The Stocks Shiraz 2001 (25/12/06)

Deep purple with raspberries, blackcurrant and white pepper spice on the nose with flavours of vanilla and blackcurrant. Grippy tannins and wonderful balance and poise - a big Aussie stunner that lets you know it's there and still has you coming back for more! A fantastic long finish and just enough acidity to keep the beast in check. (88)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Site Name

A few weeks back I revealed my plans to launch a new site as a sister site to this site - and I can now tell you that things are progressing. Up until yesterday I had fully intended to completely work on a site from scratch - however I am no web designer and it was taken a long time to comeplete and the finished product was not quite what I would have hoped for, so I'm now looking for an alternative way to work on it.
Sadly is already taken as a domain so I won't be able to use that for the new site - and so now comes the task of trying to think up a funky new name!
So far i've come up with "Vintasy" but please leave your ideas in the comments below this post. The person who comes up with the best title, will have names my new site, and will forever be able to lay claim to that, plus I will give them a 5% share in the site - that means if it ever generated a profit you would get 5% of an profit made.
You get the drift - give me some names, and if I ever make money, fame or wine out of it - you get your share!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mosel-Saar Ruwer

The first of the Anbaugebiet of Germany that we'll look as is for many people the finest wine producing region in Germany, and certainly the best known region. All three names are rivers - the Mosel and it's two tributaries the Saar and the Ruwer.
Wines from this region tend are invariably white, low in alcohol and very refreshing. Many of the vineyards are on steep valley slopes of the three rivers and it is on the very steepest slopes that the best Riesling vineyards are to be found. Slate is the most important terroir of the region. Names to look out for from the region include :-
Von Kesselstatt
JJ Prum
Dr Loosen
SA Prum

Vineyards to look for include :- Erden Treppchen, Urzig Pralat, Piesport Goldtropfchen and Bernkastel Johannisbrunnchen.

Brown Brothers Tarrango 2002 (29/12/03)

A red that when chilled tastes surprisingly like a white wine! Light and fruity - an ideal Summer BBQ quaffer when chilled yet reduced so often during the cold winter months (I wonder why?!) All redcurrant and red cherry flavours - a little like Beaujolais without the pear drops and bubblegum. (80)

Wolf Blass Shiraz Cabernet 2002 (27/12/03)

Deep purple with a spicy bouquet, and tons of oak and spice in the mouth - just a little fruit - a little uninteresting. (76)

WSET Exam Results

After 8 weeks of waiting to see whether I would pass the Advanced course, I can now reveal that I managed a distinction in both part of the paper (that'll be distinction overall then!) which was what I had hoped for, but better than expected knowing that I messed a couple of questions up along the way by allowing reason to take over from my gut instinct for answering a couple - still no need to worry now!
I celebrated with a friend by drinking 3 Bowmore whisky's - darkest, 12yo & 17yo - really quite acceptable!

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Much has been said elsewhere of the demise of Rosemount - a couple of years ago I decided to find out for myself if it had all gone so bad.

Rosemount Shiraz Cabernet 2002 (3/1/04)
Now I remember the time when this was a very decent bottle, at a really decent price - that was 15 years ago and the price is now less than it was then so the wine inside the bottle must be a great deal cheaper. I had read of the demise of Rosemount - but I thought - maybe - just maybe it would still be ok - and that was what it was OK - it used to be lovely - now well I wasn't sick drinking it - and it wasn't offensive but good - no! Spice and black fruits - no real complexity and no real depth - all round disappointing. (78)

Rosemount Grenache Shiraz 2002 (19/02/04)
An old favourite - see above! Same problem here - just not what it used to be and now very much an also ran! Cherrys and Raspberries, smooth but a very short finish. (78)

Le Vin Maghani 1999 Domaine Canet-Valette (25/12/06)

Deep red, with a slightly brick coloured rim and a bouquet of raspberry, spice and a touch animally. The flavours are all there, wonderful "garrigue" herbs, black and red fruits smooth velvety tannins in a big wine that all at the same time managed to be refined and delicate. Decanted 5 hours before drinking, after 2 hours it was still a closed affair - I had imagined the age would mean it would need less time to open up - how wrong I was - open 6 hours before you intend to drink and sit down with some brilliant food and really enjoy. Evocative of summers spent walking, relaxing - pure sunshine in a bottle. There ought to be more wines like this out there for this sort of price!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Urbina Rioja Reserva Especial 1996 (6/1/07)

A big strong beefy brute of a wine, the oak in this was perhaps a little too much for my liking but it was certainly a better wine than an awful lot I drink. Deep brick red with a tawny rim, and oak, nutmeg red currant and cherry aromas developing into a complex palate of liquorice, dark cherry and roasted chestnuts. Some of the more complex flavours were probably hidden by the oak, this is no wine for the faint of heart and certainly needs to be drunk with good hearty food! (84)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Geographical Classification in Germany

As well is the quality wine classification German wines are split in a similar way to the wines of Burgundy. At the smallest level is the Einzellage - an individual vineyard and the most important classification for quality German wines, equivalent of a premier or grand cru in Burgundy.
Then comes the Grosslage, a group of adjoining vineyards - this is a somewhat unnecessary classification which makes life difficult for consumers, the names of grosslagen are often particularly misleading having taken a name from a nearby village that has given it's name to an Einzellage. So Bernkasteler and Piesporter appear on the labels of both some of the finest wines in Germany, but also on some of the label of bland, sugary wines made from grapes grown in inferior vineyards at high yields.
A Gemeind is a commune, the equivalent of a village wine, such as Volnay in Burgundy, the name of a commune can either appear alone on a label - in which case the wine comes from vineyards immediately surrounding the village, however it is often attached to the name of either a grosslage or an einzellage.
A Bereich is a district within a Quality region consisting of several communes, this is similar to Cote de Beaune in that a village can give it's name to an einzellage or grosslage wine, it can also give it's name to a Bereich.
Finally an Anbaugebiet is a designated quality region, of which there are 13 - we will look at the different regions in more detail next time!