Wine Words 6

Big wines need big descriptors & here we have just that.. Whereas one word feels like an obvious compliment, the other is guised, or perhaps I should say weighted: the strong undeniable tarry connotations of asphalt need something less manmade & caustic to soften & fill it out.  If balanced well it is a treat to behold & make for a memorable wine.  Both words are bandied about regularly for big-hitting reds & both give an idea of the overall body & feeling of a wine.   Read on for a more in depth look at them in individual use..



Asphalt |ˈæsfælt |


Referring to all sensory points: smell, taste & feel of a wine, asphalt is that strong, smokey & slightly sweet distinctive punch that can either define full-bodied red wines or destroy them depending on how well it is balanced with fruit. In this case, it defines!


Like: BBQ leg of lamb


For example: “Another 2009 that exhibits over the top extravagance and richness, and one I can find no fault in, the 2009 Cote Rotie La Landonne offers a colossal and full-bodied profile that carries incredible aromas and flavors of roasted meats, smoke, asphalt and assorted meatiness that’s all grounded by a massive core of fruit. A huge wine, it stays perfectly in check, with notable freshness, a deep, layered mid-palate and masses of fine tannin that carry through the finish. Hide this beauty in the cellar for another decade and enjoy.”

(Robert Parker reviewing Côte Rotie Landonne, Guigal 2009)




Opulent |ˈɒpjʊlənt |


Refers to the style of a wine; a generosity throughout the whole drinking experience. Oplulent wines are generally viscous in the glass; give strong, characterful noses; warm & full in the mouth & leave you feeling sated & yet like luxuriating in a little more.


Like: Chocolate fondant


For example: The single vineyard wines begin with the 2007 Shiraz Barney’s Block McMurtrie Road in McLaren Vale. It was aged in 50% new French oak for 20 months. Opaque purple-colored, it offers up a captivating nose of sandalwood, incense, lavender, bacon, and blueberry. Velvety-textured, layered, and opulent (a rarity in this vintage), it has enough fine-grained tannin to evolve for 3-4 years. This lengthy effort has a drinking window extending from 2013 to 2027.

(Robert Parker reviewing Barney’s Block Shiraz 2007)





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  • 7 Summer Wine Trends

    Summer is well & truly here & it feels like a good time to think about a few trends that are going to tide us through these thirsty months.. From unlikely wine sources to cosmic cow horns buried deep beneath the vines; growing grapes varietals to charging our glasses by tap.. The wine industry is an ever-evolving beast. And a fighting fit one at that.  Read on for some vinous inspiration, or perhaps just an affirmation of what your sediment granules said a while back.



    There’s something inherently simple & yet luxurious about the idea of your wine being tapped into a carafe: the stuff replumbing dreams are made of. And more & more restaurants are cottoning on to this reverie of ours, not to mention wine merchants. Light, refreshing & increasingly good wines are becoming readily available & demand is certainly not dwindling.  Throw in the obvious environmental benefits, not to mention ease of a top up, dreams may well be en route to becoming a reality.




    A worldwide Prosecco shortage & an increased interest in more purse-friendly corks to pop to celebrate all things summer, park, picnic, shoelace-tie.. you name it: nothing quite says summer like something cold & sparkling And the New World are well-poised to capitalize upon this: with delicious & reasonably priced fare coming in from the likes of South Africa, (look out for Cap Classique) to California, to Australia where French Champagne houses have started investing in land: the future looks decidedly fizzy.



    Sales for online wine have grown exponentially each year: 600% since 2006 to be precise, with UK & China leading the way. And it’s not just any old wine. Fine wine is specifically on the up – you only need have a cursory meander on Google to work that one out. At the lower end of the market, more & more of us luxuriate in having our weekly grocery shop delivery to our doors. & now we have a handy excuse to avoid braving any form of enclosed retail space with the heat…



    The news that Chinese vineyards have surpassed France in terms of surface area (production is still French-dominated, hands down) should go some way into proving just how serious China is about its wine. Whilst the foundations are evidently there to make the stuff, more significant is how much they consume: China buys more red wine than any other country in the world. Consider the different occasions & pairings the rest of the world need to catch up with & you can see why China is more than one to watch..



    Long evenings/days supping wine in the heat can take their toll, especially for the more thirsty amongst us: Light, refreshing, unassuming & versatile: Riesling has a LOT going in its favour. Germany’s indigenious grape is being grown across more & more of the world too, so it’s not in short supply. Go dry & crisp or full & sweet & quaff all by itself or with anything from Vietnamese to Indian, cheese course to fish; with Riesling you can most certainly have your glass & drink it. Whatever the occasion.



    #SaveGreece has been trending on all platforms, & for good reason: the debt riddled country needs all the help it can get to pull itself from the murky depths of over-printing & over-spending. And help is indeed at hand in the form of our friend the humble grape, albeit under the guise of some not so humble names. Assrytiko, Moschofilero & Agiorghitiko may not roll well off the tongue, but they certainly do once they’re rolled into it.




    It may seem odd to cite a method of farming that stems from a series of lectures that took place in 1924, but the production of biodynamic wine has been steadily growing since the 80s. With Burgundy & Alsace leading the way in France, Bordeaux has followed suit.. and it’s not just any old vineyards either: think Domaine Romanée Conti in Burgundy or Bordeaux’ Chateau Pontet Canet. Serious wines for serious drinkers and/or collectors. As consumers we increasingly like to know exactly where our produce comes from, the less chemical additions the better. The beauty of the biodynamic theory is considering a farm/vineyard as one living organism: all treatments are produced from elements of that organism & the cosmos that surrounds it: sound voodoo-triguing enough? Wait until you taste the stuff..


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  • Month Ahead – July

    July is upon us.. and it is HOT!  Nothing like a good old heatwave to build up a thirst.. Quieter than it’s earlier summer counterparts, July should be seen as a month of rest & enjoyment. More of a slow down & smell the roses (or indeed vinous bouquet) kind of affair.  With this in mind, there is still plenty to do: from rebellious wine makers to pop up tastings to a tour around our fairest of gardens, Kent.. And if nothing below tempts, then it feels like a good excuse to find a park, pop a cork & keep those roses close to hand.


    Wednesday 1st

    ThirtyFifty Tasting
    Piccolino, Cork St, Liverpool

    EnoClub Rebooted – Italy’s Midlands
    Ape & Bird, Soho, London

     Thursday 2nd

    Emerging delicious Austrian wines
    West London Wine School, Fulham

     Rioja Tasting with Suzy Atkins
    Prohibition Wines, Muswell Hill

     Friday 3rd

    Explore Sauvignon Blanc
    The Mitre Greenwich, London

     Saturday 4th

    Wine Unearthed – World of Wine tasting day
    Bank Restaurant, Birmingham

     Monday 6th

    Domaine-Direct pop up wine tasting
    Brunswick House, London

    Tuesday 7th

    Thirty Fifty Wine & Antipasti Evening
    The Milestone, Sheffield

    World of Wine: Germany, Alsace, Austria & UK
    West London Wine School, Fulham, London

     Wednesday 8th

    Wine Workshop: The Rebels
    Bedales, Borough Market

     Tech Tastes Wine
    The Collective Elevator, Bedford Square, London

     Tuesday 14th

    Bastille Day Tasting
    Handford Wines, London

     Wednesday 15th

    Wine Discovery Evening
    Brasserie Blanc London

     Saturday 11th 

    English Tasting Tour – Kent
    Kick off English Grounds, London Bridge

     Saturday 18th

    WSET Level 1 with 2 course lunch
    West London Wine School, Fulham

     World of Wine Tasting Day
    Goldbrick House, Bristol

     World of Wine Tasting Day
    Greigs Mayfair, London

     Wednesday 22nd

    Wine Workshop – Same but Different
    Bedales, Borough Market

     Friday 24th

    Explore Cabernet Sauvignon
    The Mitre Greenwich, London

     Saturday 25th

    World of Wine Tasting Day
    Sam’s of Brighton, East Sussex

     Tuesday 28th

    World of Wine – Chile & Argentina
    West London Wine School, Fulham

     Wednesday 29th

    Aromatics Tasting
    Avery’s, Bristol

     Thursday 30th

    New World Wonders: California, Canada & Virginia
    West London Wine School, Fulham

     Friday 31st

    Chablis Masterclass, Domaine Laroche
    West London Wine School, Fulham



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