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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.

 

WINE ON TAP

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.

 

 

NEW WORLD SPARKLERS

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.

 

ONLINE

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…

 

CHINA

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..

 

RIESLING

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.

 

GREECE

#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.

 

 

BIODYNAMIC

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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  • Top 10 Wine Upcycles

    Lots of wine paraphenalia lying around from some enthusiastic toasts to Summer? Want to give them a new lease of life? From attainable to ambitious, here’s our round-up of some of the best upcycling options out there. A worthy reason to drink more if ever one were to be created.

     

    Lamp

    The most obvious, yes. But with beauty being in the eye of the beholder, it’s all about the interpretation. From Lightbulb to fairy lights; simple candle to precariously balanced candelabra; painted stencil to full-blown jeweled embellishment, the humble wine bottle is the most wonderful vehicle for your (or someone elses) creative license.

     

    Door stop

    Another master of simplicity. Fill your favourite bottles with water, or sand & prop that door with a certain fondness & finesse. Magnums work best, or heavy punted champagne bottles. Combine the 2 & you’re onto a winner both sides of the consumption equation!

     

     Box shelves

     So perhaps a slightly more voluminous consumption ask, but collecting wooden boxes is never a bad thing, even if it just equates to some kindling. Or sturdy boxing. From simple stacking to a more complicated structure, boxes make for wonderful shelves, both practically & aesthetically. & ups the sourcing bar. Ahem, what bottles are distributed solely in wooden cases…?

     

    Coat/Hat stand

     

    Ladies & Gentleman, as you come into the hall, please be so kind as to leave your coats on the… bottles. Just makes sense. In a reassuringly cyclical kind of way. Simply cut the bottles & affix to whatever board you choose; OR leave as it & embed them into whatever stand you choose. I mean, its SOUNDS simple, right!? (we opted for the less arts & crafts version)

     

    Cork bathmat

     Absorbent, easily collectible AND I would say a relatively nice thing to step out of the bath onto. Corks are an under-used by product of a wine-enthusiast. Rescue them from the dog and/or fire; or pop round a few local bars & restaurants. Before you know it a wealth of options will be at your creative fingertips. Face up in a frame, or woven together as more of a traditional mat. Those delicate post-bath feet will be ever so grateful.

     

    Wineglass chandelier

    Arguably you may want to keep your wine glasses to, well, drink from. But die-hard upcyclists may well just want to given them another lease of life. And they do look ever so pretty. Bottles work too, reasurringly. Corks will just have you a cricket field down-under, although never say never.

     

    Hanging plant pot

    Flowers love bottles almost as much as we do. Either cut the bottle & make a little bed, or drop seeds & soil in. And wait! Or affix to wall & use as a decorative receptacle for cut flowers. Many an inspired idea & many a happy plant.

     

    Garden edging

     In keeping with the green-fingered theme, why not set your garden beds with upturned bottles. A neat way of keeping everything in check; & a slightly less conventional bottle-count. For fully immersive greener than thou fare, imagine what microclimate you’re creating for sundry bugs & soil dwelling types. If they’re lucky there might even be some dregs to boot. Happy worms indeed!

     

    Cork board

     Maybe obvious. But for good reason. And why not use something obvious to remind you of all those oh so obvious nitbits that regularly get forgotten. Precisely for that reason. Go small, or BIG & set the whole wall up.. A well-stopped reminder of forgetfulness.

     

    Wine clock

    Not for the DIY faint hearted, but ever so worth it’s labour of love. AND a timely reminder of when to open the next bottle, set old (preferably cleaned) bottles around a clock for an at once timeless & timeful upcycle. Deciding which bottle corresponds to which hour of the day best left to the artist’s discretion.

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  • Sparkling Wine & other tales..

    Believe in the impending Prosecco shortage or not, sparkling wine IS a rather fitting way to celebrate pretty much anything. Be it the pop of the cork, or rush of bubbles as it’s poured, us Brits have held a trusty & well-documented love affair with fizz.  It should come as no surprise, therefore, that we’re now producing our own, & not just any old plonk.. UK wine won no less than 80 medals at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC).

     

    Given this unequivocal rise, all things Italian shortage & summer being nearly upon us (a cause for celebrations in its own right) it felt like a timely opportunity to consider the bubble-options available,  & learn a little more..

     

    Sparkling wine puzzled people both side of the production fence for many, many years.  The Greeks & Romans saw them as a sure fire sign of spirits (good AND bad) in their favourite tipple; the more pragmatic cited phases of the moon; those brave enough to work in the cellars sought cast-iron facial protection.  It should therefore come as no surprise that Dom Perignon was initially tasked with removing bubbles by his monastic superiors at Abbey Hautvilliers. Or indeed, that CO2 is a naturally occurring phenoma.

     

    It came down to the Brits, however, to finally understand both the origin & virtue of bubbles: a British scientist named Christopher Merret wrote a paper detailing sugar’s propensity to turn wine into something altogether more effervescent.  The Brits also had the manufacturing advantage to bottle the stuff: with sturdier glass & the use of corks, they had an evident upper-hand over their iron-clad counterparts the other side of the channel.  So much so, champagne was shipped over the aftorementioned in barrel for bottling.

     

    Even though CO2 is natural in wine, there are (of course) many different ways of making it.  From the traditional ‘Méthode Champenoise’ (only allowed to be called so in Champagne; traditional method elsewhere!) where secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle; to the Italian ‘Metodo Martinetti’ (latterly adapted by Frenchman Eugène Charmant & now named after him) where it all occurs in tanks & then bottled under pressure; To hybrid of the two,  the ‘Transfer Method’ where the secondary fermented liquid is transferred back into vats for blending & ageing; To the damn-right lazy injection of CO2 via a carbonator!

     

    Let us first consider the most famous of all sparkling wines, the ‘Grand Seigneur’ if you will.. Champagne has long provided us with palate pleasure.  From Napoleon to Churchill, Byron to Balzac; greats both side of the channel offer quotes to pique even the most skeptical amongst us’ interest.  Churchill notoriously loved the stuff so much, Pol Roger have an entire cuvée named after him.  But what is the ‘Champenois’ secret.. & why do they still enjoy the global acclaim they do?

     

    Successfully creating sparkling wine is a labour of love (carbonator notwithstanding).  In Champagne grapes are harvested early for that all-important acidity; they are then pressed almost immediately (unless it’s a rose) to undergo their first fermentation in a regular fashion with the CO2 being allowed to escape.  The resulting liquid (which isn’t very drinkable) is then blended to form its cuvée – a blend of different wines from different growers & often different vintages (for Non-Vintage champagne at least!).  This is a crucial stage in a Champagne Maison’s quest for their house ‘style’. And perfection, of course.

     

    The cuvée is then bottled with additional sugar & yeast which help precipitate ferment no.2.  The bottle is then left ‘sur lie’, or ‘on the lees’, for a mimimum of 18 months (in the case of Non-Vintage) to 8 years for Vintage (with the minimum being 3) for the yeast to work its magic & form deposits.  The bottles are then ‘riddled’ – placed pointing down on a rack at 45% angle & systematically turned, shaken & lowered until all the lees are at the bottle neck.  The crown cap is then removed to extract the deposits, aiming for a minimal amount of liquid loss. (Today this is done by freezing the neck).  The remaining liquid is then topped up with a ‘liqueur d’expédition’, a mix of the original cuvée, touch of sugar & some sulphur dioxide for preservation’s sake.  NOW you begin to see why the Champenois guard their heart-strings with such diligence..

    Champagne tends to be made out of a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier; all of which thrive in its cool climate & chalky-limestone soil.  Vintage champagne (from 1 maison, 1 year) only makes an appearance if the growers deem the particular crop worth it: many of the grapes are sold to négociants & other houses.

     

    However, the king the bubbles only makes up for less than 8% of all sparkling wines. And is rightly protected by the French AOC system, despite its name being bandied about wily-nily by consumers & producers alike.  So what are the other pretenders to the throne?  And are they really pretenders or has the sparkling-road been sufficiently paved that there is ample room for many different types of bubbled fare.  Whilst Champagne is the indisputable trail-blazer (with a little help from the British), the latter is most definitely true.  Let us first consider Europe, in all her sharing & caring glory.

     

    The most obvious place to start is the rest of France; Champagne can only be from Champagne, but the are some other regions that make particularly delicious sparklers too.  These are generally called ‘Crémants’ due to their lower levels of  CO2 & therefore creamier texture.  It is made by the traditional method & is strictly limited to 8 different appellations: Alsace, Bordeaux, Die, Jura, Bourgogne, Limoux, Loire & Savoie.  The AOC also impose some fairly arduous guidelines as to its production too: grapes must be hand-picked & from a specific selection of grapes.   Other sparkling wines are similarly appellation-specific but are not allowed to call themselves crémants, & invariably don’t follow the ‘traditional’ method of production.  Think Mousseux, Blanquette, or even just plain AOC.

     

    Moving across the border the Spanish were playing with bubbles around the same time as the French.   In the late 19th century many vines in the Penèdes region of Catalonia were wiped out by phylloxera.  A Spaniard named Josep Raventos decided to try to turn bad fortune into good by replanting more white grape & experimenting.  The resulting ‘Spanish Champagne’ is what we now know & love as Cava & comes in four different guises from dry (seco) to sweet (dulce).  Grapes are mainly local, aside from Chardonnay which was only introduced to the blend in the 80s.

     

    Nestled in neighbours Portugal unsuprisingly produce their own fare too: ‘Espumante’ is produced all over the country, from the cool & wet Vinho Verde in the North to the hot & dry Alentejo of the South.  With little regulation there is, of course, great variance in quality: Portuguese protective bodies operate on a regional rather than national basis.  The BEST, however,  is found in DOC Barrida, which is just below Vinho Verde.  Worth looking out for!

     

    Hop over the Med, if you will, to fellow Romantics the Italians.  Similarly they produce fizz all over, regardless of climate & soils.  More typically Italian is the amount of different names bandied about: from Prosecco to Asti to Franciacorta: Lumbrusco to Oltrepo Pavese to Trento DOC.  The range of style varies dramatically too, from the very dry Prosecco to the sweet & low alcohol Moscato d’Asti.  Most are made with the Charmant (so returned to tanks to blend & age) with the exception of Franciacorta & Trento DOC, both of which follow the traditional method, the former most strictly with Vintage & non-Vintage varietals, 30 & 15 month aging apiece.

    The German term for sparkling wine is Sekt: ex-Veuve Cliquot employee, Georg Christian Kessler, brought it over in the early 19th Century.  Generally produced from a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc & Pinot Noir grapes, the majority of Sekt follows the Charmant method, much like nearly neighbouring Italy.  What varies however, is where they source their raw materials from: around 90% of sekt is made from grapes harvested in Italy, France or Spain.  It also appears that was enough of a journey for the grapes, as sekt is barely exported.  The Austrians produce it too, only with local grapes Welchriesling, Gruner-Veltlinger & Blaufrankisch for rose.  Both countries opt for village & producer identification, rather than adhering to a uniform style or brand.

     

    Hungary was actually one of the earlier European fans of fizz, Pezgo was first produced in 1835 & was a wholeheartedly local affair.  Given the grapes used, this means it can be quite sweet, although the introduction of Chardonny, & Pinot Noir, there are now much drier varietals on the market.  Their climate & soil is pretty much spot on too.   Moving more Baltic, there’s a whole host of local fare from the Soviet Union, most countries from Armenia to Belarus, have a pop.  The only ones that currently hit foreign markets are the Russians in Europe & the Moldovans in the US.  Quite the sparkle of adventure.

     

    Last but certainly not least of the Europeans comes the UK!  With conditions that are increasingly akin to those of Champagne & rather a healthy appetite for the stuff, us Brits produce reassuringly good, not to mention Award Winning, fizz.  And in the name of supporting local produce & lowering carbon footprints, we shouldn’t need any further encouragement to drink it.  Made following the traditional method, using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier (like Champagne) grapes, brands like Nyetimber, Ridgeview & Chapel Down are leading the way, regularly usurping more established opponents with professionals & consumers alike.  The only thing it’s missing is a name.   Whilst English Sparkling Wine does do what it says on the tin, it doesn’t feel as defined or as tongue-roll worthy as most European counterparts.  Or maybe that’s our crowning point of difference!?

     

    The New World naturally has a fare few options too: from the rather sweet (& not regulated) bubbles in the US, to a local Sparkling Shiraz in Australia.  Our compatriots down-under are, however, worth talking about in a bit more depth:  French Champagne houses have invested out there, & for good reason.  The white is made from a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier blend in the traditional method – given how quickly things have moved forward in a relativelt short space of time, they might well be one to watch.  Span the Oceans across to South Africa, Cap Classique is probably the most refined New World option.  Again, following the traditional method, growers formed their own organization to protect standard & those in the know are enjoying it’s slightly more under the radar price-tag.

     

    With SO many fancy fizzes on the market, we can now merrily toast away to our heart’s abandon.  Even if choice can feel a little threatening for those who rather the risk the glass falling flat, it’s reassuring to know cork-popping is well & truly a global pastime.  And perhaps the Italian drought need not evoke panic after all: the world does feel decidedly sparkly.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Calendar Month Ahead – June

    After the flurry of excitement that was May, June might seem a little on the quieter side.  But delve a little deeper & there are hives of activity all over the country, from Open Days at acclaimed Nyetimber, to a stroll in Provence courtesy of the Wine Society to a whole host of grower-presented tastings.  Summer is most definitely here, and to stay by the looks of things, so time to gently float through a few refreshing glasses & toast to the season.

     

    Tuesday 2nd 

    Flirting with fruit & wood: your wine PT
    Bedales, Borough Market

    Wednesday 3rd 

     EnoClub rebooted: Piedmont & Tuscany
    Polpo @ Ape & Bird

    Summertime Wine Trends mini Tasting
    The Red Herring, EC2V London

    Thursday 4th 

    Zind & Humbrecht Tasting, Richard Brazier
    Handford Wines, London

    Friday 5th 

    Burgundy Wine Tasting
    Nickolls & Perks, Stourbridge

    Jim Clendenden, Au Bon Climat: Pouring
    Prohibition Wines, Muswell Hill

    Saturday 6th

    World of Wine Tasting day
    Bank, 4 Brindley Place, Birmingham

     Jamie Magazine Launch – Lunch with Theo Randall
    Intercontinental,  London

     Saturday 6th – 7th

    Nyetimber Open Day Tours
    Nyetimber, West Chiltington

     Tuesday 9th 

    Butt Clenching Big Ones
    Bedales, London

    Wednesday 10th

     

    French Country Whites, Greg Sherwood
    Handford Wines

     Champagne & Sparkling Wine Evening & Antipasti
    Brasserie Blanc, London

    Thursday 11th

     

    1985 Bordeaux, 30 years on: Richard Brazier
    Handford Wines

    Winemaker Diner: Domaine Bohrmann & Chateau Lamartine
    Framingham Pigot, Norwich

    Wines of Bordeaux, Dan Harwood
    Albert Dock, Liverpool

     Friday 12th

    Cheese & Wine matching masterclass
    The Mitre, Greenwich

     Saturday 13th

    Brunello Night
    Caravan Kings Cross, London

     Planet of the Grapes Wine School
    Oxford Street, London

     Wednesday 17th

    Domaine Direct – Gevrey-Chambertin Tasting
    Drapers Arms, N1 London

    Tuesday 16th 

    Seductively Sweet
    Bedales, London

     Sesti Brunello & Phenomena Riserva, James Handford
    Handford Wines, Handford

     New Zealand – The Perfect Package
    Wine Society, The Lantern Colston Hall, Bristol

     Wednesday 17th

    Domaine Direct – Gevrey-Chambertin Tasting
    Drapers Arms, N1 London

     Thursday 18th

    An Evening in Provence
    Wine Society, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage

     Saturday 20th

    Introduction to New World Wine (Part 5)
    Handfords, London

    World of Wine Day
    St Johns Chophouse, Cambridge

     One Day Wine Course
    Thirty-Fifty, Brasserie Blanc, SE1 London

     Tuesday 23rd

    Non-Vintage Champagne Tasting
    Handfords, London

    Tapas & Wine matching
    Barcelona Tapas, Dulwich

     

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  • Bordeaux En Primeur 2014 – The Words

    We’ve been busy collecting all the comment & analysis from this year’s Bordeaux En Primeur campaign. And there’s been a LOT!  The bigger & bolder the words, the more they were used.

    Full analysis to follow..

     

    OVERALL

     

    All press wordle

    WINE TRADE PRESS:

    Trade wordle

     

    UK BROADSHEETS:

    BROADSHEETS wordle

     

    FINANCIAL TRADE PRESS:

     

    FINANCIALS wordle

     

    We find them very interesting indeed..

     

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  • Calendar Month Ahead – May

    May should be renamed MOW. Month of Wine. Really.. It’s quite something.  Diaries are bursting at the seams with all sorts of titillating fare.  From the old world (Bordeaux is particularly well represented) to the new (2 Swartland-focused events on Thursday 14th); the experimental (Wine & Dim Sum pairings on Friday 15th) to our very own indigenous fare with ‘English Wine Week’ running from Saturday 23rd to Sunday 31st.  And speaking of weeks, May (sorry, MOW) is the season, funnily enough.  With London Wine Week (18th to 24th), London Wine Fair (18th to 20th) AND the aforementioned week of local produce, I challenge even the most diary-shy amongst us to go thirsty this month.

    As if the weeks in themselves weren’t enough of a palate-prod, they also mean a whole wealth of wine talent in the UK, from far, wide & closer to home.  This influx, coupled with the collaborative spirit of the weeks (if in doubt see the line-up of organisations, growers & bars/restaurants involved in London Wine Week!), make for a very exciting melting pot.  A time for tasting, meeting & sharing ideas; where consumers & the trade can come together.  We’re excited. (And thirsty..)

     

    Tuesday 5th
    Jura Wine Tasting
    Westminster Boating Base, SW1V


    Thursday 7th
    Bordeaux & Rhone Tasting
    South London Wine School; The Mitre Greenwich

     

    Friday 8th
    Australian & New Zealand Wine Tasting
    Nicholls & Perks, DY8 1TA

     

    Saturday 9th
    Decanter Bordeaux Fine Wine Encounter 2005, 2009, 2010
    Landmark Hotel, London

    World of Wine Taste Experience Day
    London, Cambridge Manchester, Edinburgh

     

    Tuesday 12th
    30-50 Wine Tasting, Leicester
    Hotel Maiyango, Leicester

    The Wines of Hiersch & Loco
    Roberson Wines W14 8NS

     

    Wednesday 13th
    Classic Wine Dinner
    Rhubarb, Prestonfield House Hotel Edinburgh EH16 5UT

    It’s Ghana be Grape!
    King & Co Pub, Clapham SW4

     

    Thursday 14th
    Mullineux Swartland Tasting
    Handford Wines, South Kensington SW7

     Swartland Dinner
    Fulham Wine Rooms, SW6

     

    Friday 15th
    Wine & Chocolate Masterclass
    Scotch Malt Whiskey Society, EH2

    Grenache/Garnarcha Seminar
    Institute of Fine Wines, EC2V 6BR

    Osteria Supper Club, from Tuscany to Apulia
    Frizzante, Hackney E2

    Scoff & Quaff (Wine & Dim Sum)
    School of Wok, Chandos Place W1

     

    Saturday 16th
    30-50 Wine Tasting, Bristol
    Jamie’s Italian, Bristol

    Introduction to Bordeaux & Burgundy
    Handford Wines, South Kensington SW7
    Sunday 17th
    Osteria Supper Club, from Tuscany to Apulia
    Frizzante, Hackney E2

     

    Monday 18th – Sunday 24th
    London Wine Week
    All over London

    Monday 18th –  Wednesday 20th
    London Wine Fair
    Kensington Olympia

    Monday 18th
    Chateau de’Angludet Vertical 1995 – 2005
    West London Wine School, Fulham

    Wine Society Eurovision Wine Contest
    Harpenden Public Halls, Herfordshire AL5

     

    Tuesday 19th
    Wine Society Eurovision Wine Contest
    The Parade, Royal Leamington Spa, CV22

     

    Wednesday 20th
    Fine Wine Loire: Domaine Huet Vouvray Tasting
    West London Wine School, Fulham

    The Lawn Club, Celebrity Cruises (Tasting)
    The White Space, WC2H

     

    Thursday 21st
    Taste of Scotland Masterclass
    Abode Hotel, Glasgow

     

    Saturday 23rd – Sunday 31st
    English Wine Week
    All over UK (but predominantly SW & SE!)

    Hanwell Wine Estate Open Day
    Hanwell Wine Estate, Melton Mowbray

     

    Thursday 28th May
    South West Vineyards Wine Tasting & Dinner
    Bordeaux Quay, Bristol

     

    Friday 29th May
    Chardonnay Grape Debate
    West London Wine School, Fulham

    English Wines with Nancy Gilchrist
    Hotel du Vin, Tunbridge Wells, TN1


    Saturday 30th May
    30-50 Tasting
    Brasserie Blanc, London SE1

    Introduction to Old World Wines
    Handford Wines, South Kensington SW7

     

     

     

     

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  • Wine Words 5

    This week 2 very different descriptors, one specific & one general.. both equally as delicious.  If you find yourself using them to describe a wine, the likelihood is that you’ll want more of the stuff!

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    Lushness | lʌʃ ‘nəs |

    Referring to pretty much everything, rich, generous & juicy.. lushness suggest a wine that coats your mouth, both with flavour & texture. An indulgent gift that keeps on giving.

    Like: Black Forest gâteau

    For example: “This 100% Merlot cuvee has put on weight since I tasted it last year. It reveals a beautiful, exotic, coffee bean, sweet cherry, and cassis-scented bouquet as well as superb charm, lushness, and fruit. Reminiscent of a lighter-weight Le Pin, this beauty can be drunk now or cellared for a decade. It will not make old bones.”

    Robert Parker reviewing Certan Mazelle 2004

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    Toast | təʊst |

    Refers to a very particular taste & smell – often used & yet not always fully understood; toast the nutty & warm smell that you get from grains crisping up – gently warms the back of your palate; familiar & more’ish.

    Like: Toasted seeds

    For example: “Atypically opulent, flamboyant, and extravagantly rich for a 2006, this tiny garagiste operation has fashioned a gorgeously sexy 2006 boasting sweet creme de cassis notes intermixed with kirsch, coffee, and subtle smoked herb and toast characteristics in the background. Full-bodied, round, and delicious, it is impossible to resist, so enjoy it over the next 8-10 years. Great value.”

    Robert Parker reviewing Croix de Labrie 2006

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  • 7 Unusual Wine Innovations

    Our world is ever-evolving, not least thanks to our quest for continuous innovation to better everyday existences.   The world of drinks is no exception, & with competition fast & furious, the more traditional world of wine tries its best to hold its own.

     

    And of course success has to be tempered (& indeed built upon) by less success. Sometimes something hasn’t been brought to market for good reason.

     

    Herewith a round-up of a few of the more unusual & arguably less useful innovations brought to the party..

     

     

    Wine Sling

     

    Whilst we appreciate arm waving is important, so is being able to move freely around the room without sloshing wine down your front. However, if hospital-chic is your thing, look no further.

     

    3 bottle wine glass

     

    THREE bottles. In ONE glass. Whilst we see where they were going with this, we shall politely stick with the good old fashioned 6 glasses per bottle rule. Thank you.

     

    Wine chain holder

    There’s guarding your goods &, ahem, guarding your goods. Wine is, of course, infinitely guardable AND shareable, but slightly intrigued as to how this chain combats a corkscrew. It is however, magic.

     

    Bosch Power Tool corkscrew

     

    No words describe this appendage from Bosch. It does however leave you with a particularly tickling image of DIY Dan taking on a bottle after some manly drilling for picture hooks.

     

    Tree root carafe (by Etienne Meneau)

     

    Beautiful, alluring & yet wholly impractical on pretty much all levels aside from an aesthetically wow display piece.  Breathing & pouring inside, the idea of cleaning is really quite terrifying.

     

    Wine Monkey Caddy

     

    Cheeky chappy Mr Monkey doesn’t want you to see the label. & will do his best to warm things up to branch-swinging rainforest climes given half a chance.

     

    Get a Grip Wine Glass Grip

     

    For the most streamline of stems comes the most rubbery of gadgets. One size fits all; should you want your wine glass to double-up as a bicycle handle, the solution has arrived.

     

    The beauty of the above is, of course, that they all lend themselves to being subjectively interpreted. For some the idea of having 3 bottles in 1 drink, or indeed fastening down the dust mask & drilling into the bottle may well be the dream. And the best innovations often fail first time round. We do, however, draw the line at the sling. For now.

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  • Guide to Labels: Bordeaux

    Fine wine’s tour de force Bordeaux spans 120,000 hectares of vines, more than 8,500 growers & 60 appellations. Throw in a prevalence for all sorts of classification (blame Napoleon), it’s no wonder that there is rather a lot of information to absorb from its labels. And that’s before the content even comes into consideration.

     

    Predominantly what came to be known as claret, reds dominate in the Bordeaux region, but one shouldn’t forget the wonderful sweet wines of Sauternes & Barsac; neither the small percentage of dry whites, rosé & cremant.   Sporting a heady mix of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot, sauvignon blanc, semillon & muscadelle, Bordeaux has something rather special when it comes to producing what are arguably the best wines in the world. And it lies in both their climate & soil. Being next to the Atlantic, & with not one, but two source rivers dividing things up makes for a very changeable both. And goes some way into explaining how so many different grapes & styles of wine flourish in this area.

     

    With such variety, labels do not, of course, follow a steadfast set of rules, but we hope that the below will help give some pointers. Or maybe a dinner party conversation or two, at least.

     

    Classification

     

    Bordeaux flies the flag for French wine classification. And in doing so created it’s very own asset class. It all stems back to the ‘Grand Exposition” of Paris in 1855. And Napoleon. Who wanted to create some a quality-based grading system to showcase the finest French wines to the rest of the world. Bordelais brokers opted for a price, production & location approach which favoured vineyards on the Left Bank of the river: 59 of them to be precise & 1 from the Right. Not wanting to be completely leftist, they also picked out 26 of the sweet white wines from Sauternes & Barsac with Chateau d’Yquem defining its very own class, ‘Premier Cru Supérieur’ (a little liquid gold never goes amiss, especially in Gaie Paris).  Over 100 years later, in 1959 the Right introduced it’s own ‘Graves Classification’ & popped a humble 23 chateaus on its books. If you can’t beat’em, join’em.

     

    All this classy classing has left us with what we have today, with 5 growths: Premier right through to Cinquieme, collectively known as the ‘Grand Crus Classés’.

     

    Image

     

    The Bordelais are proud of rather grand homes, & justly so. Generally an image of the chateau takes pride of place on its bottled fare. If not the castle, then the family crest; the more aristocratically authoritative the better.

     

    Vintage

     

    Not the trickiest to grasp given we all abide by the Gregorian calendar.   A given vintage is often sold en Primeur (in the Spring after it was harvested) & kept in barrel for up to 2 years. Good things come to those who wait. And Bordeaux’s maritime environment makes sure there’s plenty of variation year to year, so eventual release is not without suspense.

     

    Château / Domaine

     

    Bordeaux is all about the brand & the name of the château or domaine is just that.. Big family names like Rothshild & Lurton are often included in the domaine name; no space for shy or retiring in this particular world!

     

    Appellation

     

    Bordeaux is far larger & more diverse than it’s singular city name suggests. With 57 different appellations, or areas, that are easiest to place into 6 main categories: Red Bordeaux & Red Bordeaux superieur (generally Right Bank & Entre Deux Mers & not classified); Red Cotes de Bordeaux (hilly outskirts & again not classified); Red Libourne (Right Bank); Red Graves (Left Bank); Dry White and, last but by no means least, Sweet White.

     

    Like Burgundian terroirs, appellations are dictated by their soil & the climate. Bordeaux, being by the sea, has all sorts of interesting subterranean differences going on: Left Bank is closer to the Atlantic, its nutritious & gravely top layer is particularly adept at the late ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes; Right Bank’s Saint-Emillion is further from the sea & predominantly limestone which is great for balancing water whereas Pomerol’s clay retains liquid & stops its merlot from over-ripening.  Sauternes sits between the Garonne river & its tributary, the Ciron; the difference in water temperature (Ciron is from a spring source) makes for the all-important morning mist that allows botrytis to work it’s noble magic.

     

    The most famous appellations have become household names & are synonous with the quality of wine produced there: Margaux, Pessac Leognan/Graves (the name changed in 1987), Sauternes, Pauillac, Saint Julien, Saint-Estephe, Pomerol & Saint-Emilion. Quite the stellar line up!

     

    Bottling Info

     

    Most Bordeaux is ‘Mis En Bouteille au Chateau”; unless it’s cooperatively grown fare (therefore not classified) & bottled by a Négociant, who will bottle from an array of sources & generally under their own brand, as per their Burgundian counterparts.

     

    Alcohol Content

     

    The Bordelais have come under fire for increased alcohol over the years; currently averages gradually creeping up to 14% which edges towards fortified territory & quite rightly helps deter from over-zealous swigging. Bordeaux definitely deserves its due respect!

     

    So there we have it – reassuringly complex & steeped in all sorts of grandesses. Napoleon would be proud indeed.

     

     

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