Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Nice Fruity Little Beaujolais

I decided to buy myself a bottle of Georges Dubœuf Fleurie 2007 the other night. I was after a smooth, fruity red, and this one did not disappoint!

Fleurie is one of the 10 crus in Beaujolais, the other nine being Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin á Vent, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly and Brouilly. These wines are all produced from the Gamay grape, with Moulin á Vent and Morgon being the most powerful and full bodied, which allows them to improve with bottle ageing. There is some oak used in the ageing of these wines, though usually in large vats rather than small casks.

The wine in question had a wonderful bright crimson colour, and delightfully youthful aromas of Cherries, Strawberries and Blackcurrant. On the palate you had the flavours of Blackcurrants and Strawberries with silky smooth tannins and a good level of acidity. Put all of these together, and you an excellent wine that is youthful, bursting with flavour and well balanced.

Recommendation; a highly enjoyable light, fruity red which, if that’s what you are after then you can’t go wrong with this.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Peller Estates Ice Wine Oak Aged Vidal 2004

Earlier in the year I got the opportunity to taste the marvels of Canadian Ice Wine, namely those from the Inniskillin winery. This had been the full extent of my knowledge regarding these desert wines. Until now that is, when a friend brought me back a bottle of Peller Estates Ice Wine Oak Aged Vidal 2004.

Vidal Blanc, which is often just referred to as Vidal, is a hybrid. Which means it has been created by pairing two other varieties together, in this case Ugni Blanc and Seibel?

For Ice Wine they wait till the temperature drops to around -8°c before harvesting the grapes, resulting in a very small amount of intensely sweet juice once pressed. Before this wine is bottled it is aged in French Oak for four months, which adds yet another dimension.

The final product had a beautiful amber colour, with developed aromas of jam, tropical fruit, stone fruit, and honey. To taste, the wine did not disappoint, the fruit and spice all worked wonderfully with the sweetness and acidity of the wine, to produce a beautifully balanced wine.

If your looking for a desert wine then go for a Canadian Ice Wine, they are lusciously sweet with wonderfully intense aromas and flavours that can’t be found anywhere else. The only problem with them is the bottles are simply just not big enough!

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Gaming Comunity Comes to the World Wine

First there was the Simms, then came Roller Coaster Tycoon and now we have Wine Tycoon!

According to Chris Scott on www.thirtyfifty.co.uk the new computer game is being launched in the US next month, and lets the players fight it out to become the next, as the title says, Wine Tycoon.

The game allows the players to create vineyards in 10 of the most prestigious regions in France such as Bordeaux and Burgundy. As part of the game you will have to build a winery, plant and maintain the vines, organise staff for the harvest and then produce your wine.

With the game you will also get a Wine Encyclopedia full of wine terms, grape varieties and regions to help you achieve your goal. The game is produced by Got Game Limited for the PC and will retail at $19.99. I do hope they bring it out on the PS3 as well.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lower Alcohol Wine - Just Add Water!

I read an interesting article on Sunday, by Victoria Moore, the Guardians wine critic, all to do with low alcohol wines. There have been many attempts to produce palatable, low alcohol wines over the years, as consumers demand has increased. The biggest launch this year probably being that of Plume, which use uses a process called reverse osmosis. This removes the alcohol, but with that, it also removes other aspects to the wine, such as flavour!

If you’re after a wine that is low in alcohol, go for one that has been produced to be this way, as opposed to one that has had the alcohol taken out. There are many wines like that about, as Victoria mentioned, Hunter Semillon from Australia is a good example coming in around the 10% mark. If that doesn’t float your boat, take a look at Brown Brothers, who produce several wines ranging between 5% and 9%. Whilst these are all from Australia, the new world, there are plenty of old world ones (European) out there too.

A trick you could try, according to Victoria, is to add water! Bizarre I know, but apparently, by diluting the wine you don’t lose any of the flavours or structure, you just reduce the alcohol content.

Whilst EU regulations don’t allow the addition of water to wine (who wants watered down wine in the pub!) There’s nothing to stop you doing it. Many people already do by asking for a spritzer!

Personally, I’m not sure about this. Unless you’re an expert, an even then you might not know, you have no real idea how much you have reduced the alcohol content. It must also diminish the intensity of the wine, and possibly spoil the enjoyment of it.

Will I give it a go? Possibly, but I certainly won’t be trying it with any of my quality wine.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Sainsbury’s TTD Primitivo del Salento

For a recent family wedding I was asked to recommend an Italian red that everyone would enjoy, and that would also go along with the menu they’d chosen. I decided to go for Sainsbury’s TTD Primitivo del Salento, which I first got to taste at a Sainsbury’s press tasting last year.

Produced in Puglia, on the heel of southern Italy, it is actually a blend of the Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero grapes.

The Primitivo grape is one of Italy's oldest indigenous grape varieties, and helps to produce a wonderfully smooth, full bodied, red wine, with aromas of blueberries. On the taste buds to go along with the fruit, there is hint of spice coming through. This, with the low levels of tannin and acidity, all go on to produce a delightfully balanced wine.

A fantastic, fruit driven, yet full bodied red, I would highly recommend it. Even if you’re not a fan of red, try it…it may surprise you. It did my father in law!

By the way, they have recently redesigned the label to the one pictured, however it is still the same wine inside.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Valdo Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Marca Oro

I’ve written about several sparklings before, namely Cava and Champagne, but recently got the opportunity to taste Italy’s offering, Prosecco. The wine in question was Valdo Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Marca Oro, which is available from Sainsbury’s for around £7.

Haling from the North East of Italy it’sproduced using the tank method. For this process the base dry wine is placed with sugar, yeast nutrients, and a clarifying agent in a sealed tank. Secondary fermentation then takes place, resulting in a fresh, uncomplicated sparkling wine, as was the case with this one.

This wine had large, vigorous bubbles, with a straw colour. On the nose it presented aromas of green apples, with a touch of lime thrown into the mix. To taste, the wine was exactly as it smelt. A thoroughly enjoyable drink, there was a wonderful balance between the dryness of the wine, the refreshing acidity, and the fresh fruit flavours.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a crisp, refreshing, uncomplicated sparkling, go for this one. However, if you’re looking for something a little more refined, without paying the price of Champagne, go for a Cava!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Guia Real Rioja

I appear to have been drinking rather a lot of Rioja lately, though not by choice. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it seems to be the drink of choice of many of my friends! The wine in question this time is Guia Real Rioja, which can be bought from Virgin Wines.

The wine itself is not an extremely complicated one. The lack of any of the traditional Rioja terms such as Crianza and Reserva in it is due to the wine being left unoaked. The wine maker did have a reason for doing this though, to keep the wonderful fruit flavours of the Tempranillo.

A youthful wine, it has aromas and flavours of red fruit, cherries, and a tiny touch of spice in the background. It’s got a good balance between the flavours, acidity and low amount of tannins.

Recommendation: A good entry level Rioja, which makes it approachable to the masses.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc on the Cheap

Lately there seem to be a lot of offers around for one of my favourite wines, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The amount of offers and the heavy discounting are quite unprecedented on these wines and led me to wonder if there had been an issue with the 2008 vintage.

Sainsbury’s is currently offering Oyster Bay with a third off, at a fantastic £5.99, to go alongside Makuta Bay and Nobillo which are on half price at £4.99. Sainsbury’s aren’t the only ones, Tesco’s also got Nobillo on half price, offering Wairau Cove on a similar deal, both coming in at £4.99. While at Wine Rack, you can pick up a 1.5ltr bottle of Vila Maria for £9.99, equivalent to £4.99 a bottle.

New Zealand had a bumper harvest in 2008, which made me wonder if this is what had affected prices. Decanter confirmed my suspicions. Due to 2008s abundant harvest many producers still had lots of full tanks and needed the space for this year’s harvest.

I hope the quality is of its usual high standard, but I think I need to taste a couple to be sure…any excuse! Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Majestic's Marvelous Money Making Move

The current climate has been particularly hard on the wine industry, forcing many to make cuts, look at their operations and embrace cost saving methods. However, it’s fair to say that the majority of this hasn’t resulted in consumer savings.

Recent news from Majestic though could be great news for wine lovers. In what would seem to be a response to the current economic climate, it has decided to reduce the minimum in store purchase from twelve to six bottles; following trials across the country which unsurprisingly, proved incredibly popular.

For someone like me this is fantastic news. I don’t always want to purchase twelve bottles, I don’t have the storage space, let alone the resources, but I love Majestic. Unlike many supermarkets, it doesn’t stock just anything; it carries some very exclusive wine, as well as the better known, premium brands. For wine enthusiasts, it’s always worth a visit – and even more so now!

Whilst over the internet, you will still have to purchase twelve bottles; you do get free delivery thrown in. Don’t know about you, but I’d much rather peruse the store than sit online (ironic huh?!)

The aim has been to make Majestic more accessible to its current clients, whilst drawing in new customers. I have to say, I think it’s long overdue, and a tactic which will see an increase in sales and new customers. Let’s just hope, that this doesn’t alter their view towards the stock they carry. That’s something I wouldn’t ever want to change!

Friday, 7 August 2009

A Sulphur Free Champagne

Having been asked numerous to times for a wine without sulphites, and only being able to recommend one, an organic Shiraz, I was pleased to read in Decanter that Drappier Champagne are bucking the trend.

The Drappier family, who are all allergic to the preservative, has just announced its latest champagne, Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Souffre NV, a Blanc de Noirs (white Champagne made from black grapes).

Despite centuries of use, the Drappier family believe that if the fruit is of high quality, and certain vinification techniques are used, then there’s absolutely no need to use sulphites. Great news for everyone, who, like them, hasn’t really had much option before! The process, though, hasn’t been without pitfalls. The first vinifications were unsuccessful, due to uneven levels of oxidation during the process and an uneven quality of the grapes.

The cost of making the champagne this way is also significantly greater, and the wine itself doesn’t even last as long as its sulphured counterparts, questioning its viability. However, Drappier do not seem concerned about this, claiming demand is far outstripping supply, suggesting it could sell three or four times as much!

Let’s hope that if this is the case that they can increase their supply, and that the quality is there!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

New Wine Bottle Formats

Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of posts lately, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks at work! So, on my first day off, in what feels like forever, I’ve been trawling through my inbox, deleting all the rubbish you get sent these days, and trying to catch up on the news. That’s where I came across several articles’s in Harpers and Decanter about new product launches for wines in smaller bottles.

The first new product comes from Lanchester Wine Cellars. The new Inspiral range of red, white and rose varietals will all come in a 187ml spiral shaped plastic bottle, which are supposed to have been designed to attract your attention. The bottle also has excellent green credentials, being fully recyclable, reduced in weight, emissions and carbon footprint. Let’s just hope the wine lives up to expectations after seeing the packaging.

The other comes in the form of a 100ml screw cap test tube. Not a new design, however, a new concept of packaging for Sauternes! Grand Cru Classe property, Chateau d’Arche, is planning to launch its second wine, La Perle d’Ardech, in this form in nightclubs across Bordeaux and Singapore in September. Supposedly aimed at the younger generation who don’t know about it, or who think it’s too expensive, the aim is to offer an alternative to Vodka. They are also looking at creating vintage box sets for tourists.

Will these take off? Honestly, I’m not sure of the Inspiral range; it will all depend on the price. As for the test tubes of Sauternes, in the right location (probably very exclusive nightclubs), then yes, yes I do! I’d certainly give it a go!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The Loss of Leasingham

Sad news in Harpers last week. Apparently, Constellation will close the Leasingham winery in the Clare Valley, Australia, if they cannot find a buyer soon. Rationalisation was inevitable for many big companies in the current climate, as they try to maximise profit from falling revenue.

The plan for the 116 year old estate had been to maintain the Leasingham brand, purchasing the grapes from its new owners. Unfortunately a buyer has yet to be found according to Harpers. This week though it managed to sell 75 hectares to Tim Adams Wines, another Clare Valley Producer, at a knock down price. Sadly, this leaves housing redevelopment as an option for the remainder of the estate.

The Leasingham winery produces some fantastic wines from Shiraz, both as a still and a sparkling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling…one of my favourite wines.

I hope a buyer can be found soon, or alternatively, that Constellation changes it mind and keeps the winery. If they don’t, whilst the brand Leasingham will remain, it will no longer be specifically grapes from that estate and could encompass any Australian grape. I don’t know about you, but for me, it just wouldn’t be the same again!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Million $ Book

Maybe this is just me, but in a time of economic difficulties, I think the world might be going a little mad. Well, the publishing world at least. I was amazed to read in Decanter that publisher Kraken Opus is due to publish a wine book next year weighing in at 30kg and costing US$1m (£600,000)!

The wine opus will list the world’s top 100 wineries, and every purchaser of the book will receive a six bottle case from every one of the 100 wineries listed. In addition to that, there will also be an invite to visit some of them!

Only 100 copies will be produced, making it a very limited edition (no surprise at this price!). However, another reason for this maybe that many of the wines are of limited supply. A proportion of the copies will go to auction, and amazingly, 25 have already been pre-ordered, so if you want one, better get that order in soon!

In order to create the contents, first of all a list of the top 100 wineries must be made. A panel of experts will short list around 300 producers, a second panel of 40 sommeliers will narrow it down to the required 100, with a third vote to decide the top 10. Who will be making these decisions is yet to be revealed, they have however said that Marco Pierre White will be involved in the launch.

I suppose the 600 bottle wine collection you receive with each book goes some way to justify the price tag, though it puts it out of the reach of many of the most enthusiastic wine lovers. However, those lucky enough to be able to buy it will at least be safe in the knowledge that they are enjoying some of the greatest wines in the world!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Radcliffe's Chateauneuf-du-Pape

The other wine I had the pleasure of tasting at dinner last week was Radcliffe’s Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

One of the more prestigious wines from the Southern Rhone, it can contain up to thirteen different varieties of grape. The blend will primarily be Grenache, Syrah (Shiraz) and Mouvedre, creating a wonderful wine with fantastic complex flavours.

The wine had a wonderful deep red colour, with developing aromas of plums and dark cherries, with a hint of spice coming through. These were also the flavours that came through on the palate with an added hint of smoke in the background. The low level of tannins and good level of acidity made it a very well balanced wine, as you would expect, resulting in a very enjoyable drink.

Recommendation, definitely worth a punt if your looking for a wine with a bit more class than your standard table wine; but don’t want anything to heavy or overpowering.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Montanna Unoaked Chardonnay

We had the pleasure of being invited out for dinner last week, and I thought what better an opportunity to gather some more material for my blog!

The first wine I got the opportunity to taste was an unoaked Chardonnay from the Montanna winery in New Zealand. Now if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know I’m a huge fan of New Zealand wines, especially it’s Sauvignon Blanc. This was a wine I’d not tasted before, so was of great interest to me.

On pouring the wine, the first thing I noticed was the colour, which wasn’t what I’d expected from a New World Chardonnay. Actually the same went for the taste and aromas!

For a New World Chardonnay you’d expect it to be a lemon, gold colour, but this was more of a lemon green. The aromas and flavours were of crisp green apples and gooseberries, not the tropical fruit I was expecting! Along with the flavours there was a wonderfully refreshing acidity which made the wine such a pleasant drink.

This wine reminded me far more of an old world wine along the lines of a Chablis, just not as complex! But the real question, is would I recommend it?...Absolutely!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Vina Anfi Rioja Crianza 2002

On a recent holiday to Spain, the in-laws bought us back a Rioja Crianza as a present. Great for me, but not so much for the other half isn’t a fan of red wine! Never mind, it meant all the more for me!

The term Crianza relates to the ageing period of the wine. In this case, the wine cannot be sold until its three years old, and has spent a minimum of six months in oak barrels. However, for Rioja, it needs to spend twelve months in oak. The usual grapes that go into the blend of a Rioja are Tempranillo and Garnacha (Grenache).

The wine had a wonderful deep red colour, with aromas of black fruit such as blackberries and plums, with a touch of spice in the background. Again these came through on the palate, with wonderfully smooth tannins and oak characteristics, resulting in a beautifully balanced wine.

Recommendation? Yes I would, just be careful of other Rioja Criaza on the markets, as some are not as good as this one!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

UK Vineyards on the Increase

Having already written several pieces about English Sparkling wine, I was searching through my inbox and found an interesting article on the UK wine industry

Over the last four years, the area covered by UK vineyards has grown by a massive 45%. Now, there is a total of 1,106 hectares under vine, 40% of which is made up of the sparkling grape varieties. With Waitrose now entering the foray with its own 4.5 hectare site in Leckford, Hampshire, the remainder of the increase mainly comes from two producers, Chapel Down and Nyetimber. And it’s not just the area, the number of vineyards has also grown, with around 400 now recorded.

It is the traditional sparkling grape varieties that have seen the biggest increases over the years, with Pinot Noir now accounting for 19% of total hectarage, giving it a total of 250 hectares, and Chardonnay now covering 225 hectares at 17%.

Let’s hope with the UK economy in its current state, the UK wine industry can accommodate this continued growth. We have seen recently how the French wine industry, which was already struggling, is finding it hard to weather the current economic storms. However, current demand far outstrips supply of English Sparkling, which gives it a clear advantage. In my eyes, all the producers need to do is ensure the quality in their wines, or they will be facing the problems the French currently have!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Australian Fortified Wine

Firstly I’d like to apologise for my recent absence, I’ve been on holiday and had decided that I needed a break from everything, but I’m back now all refreshed!

I’ve been trawling through my inbox to catch up on the news and came across an email from Decanter about how Australians are “planning to reignite interest in the languishing category” of Australian fortified wine, which is apparently declining by 3% a year. (http://www.decanter.com/news/285434.html)

To combat this, producers have come up with a range of strategies to improve understanding among restauranteurs and retailers. This includes educating them on how and when to serve fortifieds. The aim is to increase awareness with 25-44 year old drinkers, and hopefully boost sales!

I don’t know a lot about Australian fortifieds aside from the fact they make Port, Sherry and Liquor Muscat style wines. The most famous is the Liquor Muscat from the Rutherglen region. It was this that I had the pleasure of tasting for my WSET Diploma exam. From what I can remember, it was a lusciously rich and sweet wine, with flavours of raisins and dried fruit, definitely well worth trying.

Let’s hope that for the Australian producers that they get the boost in sales they are after, I would certainly recommend people try them, especially the Rutherglen Muscat mentioned above.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Decline in French Wine Sales

While scanning through The Times Online Business section today, I came across an article all about how French wine sales are struggling in the current economic climate (http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article6506526.ece ). The French wine industry has been in decline for many years now, struggling against the big brand names from the New World with its large advertising budgets. Combine this with the current exchange rates not being favourable, and the recession really biting into the world’s economies, it is no surprise it has the issues it currently does.

According to Marlous Kuiper at Euromonitor international, French wine exports have fallen by 12% in 2008, and are likely to continue to decline in 2009. Even in France, sales have fallen by 1% as they struggle to attract younger drinkers who don’t see wine as trendy any more, and the older generations who have cut back as they choose a healthier lifestyle.

The New World now accounts for roughly 50% of the UK wine market. This led to Steve Lewis, chief executive of Majestic to dub UK young wine drinkers as the “Jacob’s Creek generation”, many have never even tasted a French wine. This is a great concern to me, though I’m a huge fan of New World wines, wines from the Old World are some of the most complex and wonderful wines in the world. In an attempt to revive sales and draw in younger customers they have implemented price cuts, but will this be enough? Only time will tell on this point.

However educating the younger generations into what wines smell and taste of, along with food matching ideas might be a good place to start.

Many people don’t understand wines from the Old World as there is a certain mystique around them, however, if they educate people about wine and give some insight into why they cost the money they do, then maybe they will see an increase in sales!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Sainsbury's English Sparkling Rose

As I’ve already mentioned I decided to treat us to a bottle of English Sparkling this week, which was Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference English Sparkling Rose, produced by Chapel Down in Tenterden Kent. It’s made from Pinot Noir, Reichensteiner and Rivaner and has been made traditionally by secondary fermentation in the bottle for 18 months.

When pouring the wine I was surprised as it looked more like a white than a rose, however once the glass had started to fill up you could see a very pale salmon colour coming through. On the nose it had wonderful aromas of Strawberries, Rosehips and bready characteristics you would expect from being bottle fermented. And again these flavours came flooding through on the taste, with a delightful fine mousse that was extremely long lasting. The acidity, sweetness and flavours were all in balance with one another resulting in a wonderfully refreshing wine.

This is a wonderful example of how good English sparkling can be, and I can highly recommend it to any one, especially as an alternative to Champagne.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

English Sparkling Wines

English sparkling wines are absolutely fantastic, yet unfortunately, the vast majority of the public still don’t know about them. Instead most will go for a bottle of champagne if they are looking for a wine to celebrate with. So why are we not shouting about it louder than we are?

The main issue is current demand far outstrips supply. This has prompted Waitrose, the UK supermarket, to purchase a four hectare site in Leckford, Hampshire to plant their first vineyard. Unfortunately for us, it will take five years before its first vintage will be ready for us to enjoy; as the grapes will take three years before they are ready and the wine then spends a further two years maturing! This seems to be a very prudent move by Waitrose, who as a company, has seen an increase in sales of 18% year on year, resulting in a 55% share of the market (http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/wine-news-detail.asp?id=492&title=Waitrose-plant-first-vineyard).

Following on from this news, Nyetimber is hoping to turn itself from a boutique wine into a major brand. Its first step with this, was the appointment of Stephen Clark to look after Sales and Marketing, a man who has spent the last 20 years at Laurent Perrier. Nyetimber currently produces 70,000 bottles a year of sparkling from the Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. However, its six year expansion plan includes increasing production to 600,000 bottles (http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/wine-news-detail.asp?id=326&title=Nyetimber-plans-leap-from-boutique-to-brand--).

So, with the future of English sparkling wine looking positively rosy, I decided to support our economy and go buy myself a bottle…more on that tomorrow.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Rioja's New Additions

The landscape of Spanish wine law in Rioja is on the move again (http://www.decanter.com/news/283815.html), with the Riojan government about to authorise a set of new varieties, following the other weeks approval by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the Rioja Consejo Regulador. The new white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdejo along with the native varieties of Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco and Turruntés. As for the red varieties the additions are little known Maturana Tinta, Maturana Parda and Monestel.

With the new international white varieties, they cannot exceed 49% of the blend with a minimum of 51% Viura, the aim of this according to Ricardo Aguiriano San Vincente, director of marketing for Rioja's Consejo Regulador, is to make Viura more fruity and fresh, which according to him is what the consumers want!

What is the point in having all this complicated European wine law, which is designed to protect regionality and heritage of the local wines, when all they do is change them when a regions wine sales begin to struggle. If producers want to introduce new varieties into their blends then they should do so with the loss of the quality status, as was seen in Italy with the introduction of the “Super Tuscans”.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Thai Wines Part Two

As for the on-trade range, that was a different story! Again they produce a red, white and rose table wine, but it is in the desert wine I found a real little gem.

The red is produced from Shiraz, but does not have the normal spicy characteristics you would expect from the Shiraz grape, instead you get a medium bodied wine with low tannins and low acidity with flavours of Blackberries. The rose is also produced from Shiraz, but in this incarnation it has the spicy pepper aromas you’d expect from Shiraz, with wonderful flavours of red berries and a refreshingly high acidity. The white is made from Colombard and is a wonderfully crisp wine with yeasty and apple tart flavours. These wines are available in the UK and if I was in a Thai restaurant and saw these on the wine list, then yes, I would be quite happy to order a bottle or two to go with dinner.

Time for the star of the show, the Muscat desert wine, which I can only describe as sublime! It has a very pale salmon colour and is lusciously sweet with plenty of crisp acidity to balance it out, and flavours of poached pears with a hint of marmalade in the background, absolutely stuning! Please, please let’s have this in the off trade as well!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Thai Wines Part One

Thai wine, not something I ever thought I’d be talking about, but here we are, and to be fair they are extremely good. I got the opportunity to taste the wines from Monsoon Valley at the LIWF this year, which I gave a try, despite some reservations.

The vines are planted in two vineyards; the first a floating vineyard situated in the Chao Phraya Delta, 60km south west of Bangkok, here the vines are planted on islands surrounded by canals. The second vineyard site is located on the Pak Chong Hills 250-300 metres above sea level and is recognised as the countries prime region for growing internationally known grapes. As you’ll see from the picture they also use elephants to help with the harvest, of which there are four apparently. Like most wineries they produce a range for both the on and off trade, which they had brought to show with them.

For the off-trade there is a blended white, made from White Malaga and Colombard, which has a crisp acidity and flavours of apple and citrus. There was also a Rose from White Malaga, Colombard and Shiraz, resulting in flavours of red berries, and finally the blended red in the range, made from Red Pokdum (which is unique to Thailand) and Shiraz that had aromas and flavours of strawberries and red cherries. While these wines were very palatable, they were most definitely nothing special. In fact I may go as far as describing them as dull and uninteresting. If I saw one on the shelf of my local wine merchant, I wouldn’t buy it, so probably for the best that they’re not available in the UK yet.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Plume - Low Alcohol Wine

Low alcohol wines have always been something of a disappointment to many of us over the years. This has been down to the techniques employed to make them not being able to reproduce the flavours and complexity you would get from a normal wine. There is, however, a new low alcohol wine to hit the UK shelves this summer (http://www.decanter.com/news/283843.html).

Plume, the lowest alcohol wine currently on the market, comes in at only nine percent. Produced at the Domaine de la Colombette in the Languedoc by Vincent and Francois Pugibet, it is made using a process known as reverse osmosis. This is a method of filtration which can be used to remove many things from wine, but in this instance it’s only a reduction in the level of alcohol they are seeking.

Plume hit the headlines several years ago, after signing a deal with Tesco to stock its wine in the UK. However, the French wine authorities argued that wine produced using this technique could not be legally exported as French wine. As a result it was immediately recalled.

Lodging an appeal, Plume argued its case on two grounds. Firstly, they stated that the wine was not being exported as the UK is a member of the European Union, and secondly that from the 1st August 2009 the reverse osmosis technique will be classed as a legitimate experimental technique for wine production. Unsurprisingly they won.

Let’s hope that after this wait the wine lives up to the hype surrounding it and that the filtration method used only reduces the alcohol level and doesn’t strip out the flavours of the wine itself!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Kiwi World Domination!

Sorry I've not posted for a while....I've had an influx of visitors and too much wine! Hopefully most of which will make it on to this blog at some point! But anyway, back to today's proceedings.Having already commented on the rise of New Zealand wines popularity in the UK, I was thrilled to read one of the latest articles on Decanter online. Apparently even America has caught on to the delights of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Nobillo of Marlborough has become the number one selling Sauvignon Blanc brand in the US, taking over from Kendall Jackson of Napa Valley. This has come from an IRI sales survey for April, based on volume.

Joe Stanton, chief executive of ConstellationNZ said topping the US Sauvignon Blanc sales had been the company’s main goal since launching the brand six years ago. They have been meticulous in every detail of the packaging, choosing the more popular flint white glass rather than the more traditional French green glass bottle. They also bucked the trend putting New Zealand wines under screw cap and sealing the wine under cork.

Does this mean that a new benchmark has been set for Sauvignon Blanc? I’m not sure. Personally, I don’t think that it’s quite there yet, but I think many producers in the old world will be assessing what they are doing from the vineyard to the winery, to ensure that they are producing the best wine they can. After conquering the UK, and now the USA, the Kiwi’s seem to be out for world wide Sauvignon Blanc domination, and good luck to them! They really do produce some of the best examples of what Sauvignon Blanc is capable of!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Inniskillin Ice Wine

Ice wine has been something that I’ve wanted to taste for a long time and at the LIWF this year I got my opportunity visiting the Constellation stand to try some Inniskillin wines. Germany has always been the traditional home of ice wine, but Canada has started to catch them up, producing some fantastic wines this year.

Inniskillin produces its wines from one of four grapes, Riesling, Vidal, Tempranillo or Cabernet Franc, producing some fantastically wonderful and complex wines. You’ve probably heard of most of these grapes, with the exception of Vidal; that’s because it’s a hybrid. This means that two other grapes are crossed together, in this case Uni Blanc and Seibel, to create a new variety.

In order to produce Ice wine they wait till mid January to harvest and the temperature has dropped below 8°C for a constant period. Due to the lateness of the harvest and the freezing process the grapes yield a much more concentrated juice, around 10 – 15% of what you would get for a standard table wine.

At the LIWF they had bought four of their wines with them, all from the Niagra region. There was a Riesling, two from the Vidal grape, a still and a sparkling, and a red one produced from Cabernet Franc. Whilst they were wonderful, the two that really caught my eye were the sparkling Vidal and the Cabernet Franc.

To produce the sparkling Vidal the primary fermentation takes place in a sealed vessel trapping the naturally occurring carbonation in the wine. This is unlike other Sparklings where it occurs from a secondary fermentation. The wine had aromas of stone fruit, such as Nectarines and Apricots, while the natural carbonation and the rich creamy texture is all balanced by the acidity on the palate, an absolutely outstanding wine.

As for the Cabernet Franc, the process is the same, with the exception that fermentation does not take place in a sealed vessel, resulting in a still wine. Brilliantly red in colour, with wonderful fruit aromas of berries, while on the palate again it had a rich creamy texture with flavours of strawberries and cream. Yet another wonderful wine..

It was definitely well worth the wait to sample these wines and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking for something fantastic to go with your desert!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Brown Brothers

Brown Brothers have done it again and produced some off beat, but fantastic wines that I was lucky enough to taste at this year’s London International Wine Fair (LIWF).

I’ve been a fan of their wines for many years, especially the Tarrango; a cross of the Portuguese Touriga red grape and the Sultana grape, it is a bright crimson, light bodied wine with flavours of red berries and raspberries. Best served young and chilled, especially on a warm summers lunch time. Their Orange Muscat and Flora desert wine is also fantastic, and as far as I’m concerned, a great alternative to the wonderful Sauternes. A little tip for a great desert is to pour it over a good quality Vanilla ice cream…simple, yet effective!

At the LIWF they brought three new Sparklings with them, a Prosecco, Zibibbo and Zibibbo Rosa, all of which were very pleasant wines. The Zibibbo Rosa reminded me very much of Hubba Buba! The stars for me however were their Cienna and Dolcetto and Syrah reds. The Cienna, like the Tarrango is best enjoyed young and well chilled. With wonderful aromas and flavours of summer berries, it is also only 5%, so you don’t need to worry about that usually inevitable next day hangover.

As for the Dolcetto and Syrah blend, again, it needs to be served young and well chilled. The aromas and flavours were more blackcurrants and spicy; at the show they served it with chilli chocolate – an unusual, but perfect combination! Try it at home!

Brown Brothers, my congratulations, yet again you have managed to produce some fantastic wines for us all to enjoy! So, next time you’re stuck for a wine, or want something a little different, try any of their range, they truly produce some incredible wines, especially the reds!

Monday, 25 May 2009

En Primeur - The Conclusion

The en primeur process has been around for centuries; however, this does not necessarily mean that it is still a viable institution. Many commentators believe the process to be both flawed and outdated, yet despite widely publicised negativity, no one seems to offer anything to replace it which would benefit both consumers and producers.

The major issue is that many of the châteaux are not prepared to sell their own wine which is why they use negociants. However, if châteaux work on this issue, they could vastly improve their distribution channels. Many producers don’t even benefit from the high prices charged for their wines on the secondary markets, and have become aggrieved by the lost revenue.

En primeur has become an outdated system, one which has created an air of elitism around Bordeaux and one which has become a huge area for debate in the industry. With many people within the industry turning against the process and questioning its benefit for the consumer, it is hard to see a change not occurring. It has also become too overpriced to remain a viable option for investors, leaving a surplus to required wine. If this happens, producers will have no choice but to accept they need to find new methods of sale, one which gives them the continued capital they require, but offers the best deal for the end consumer.

One big problem with changing the process is that despite a constant stream of objections to the process, no one has been able to find a suitable replacement to the method, if indeed there is one at all. Without the producers improving their network of distribution and exploring new channels, such as the internet, while investing in marketing campaigns it is unlikely they will accept any push for a change.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

EN primeur - the con's

For consumers there are several risks in buying wine on an en primeur basis. Whilst selling early is a benefit for the producer, this passes all of the risk on to the investor. Should the wine not be as good as was expected in the original tasting, investors can suffer huge losses none of which will be covered by the Châteaux from which they purchased the wine.

Investors and collectors can also find that the wine they have bought is not as good value as they first thought, and in some cases, it is often possible to pick up the same vintage several years later for the same price, or even for less. An example of such a case can be seen with a case of 2000 vintage St Joseph Offerus which was offered en primeur in 2002 for ten pounds per bottle. Many invested in this, seeing it as an opportunity to make a healthy profit margin, but were disappointed, when in 2003 Seckford’s began selling it for eight pounds in their January sale.

There is also a possibility that having paid upfront, the merchant may go in to liquidation before the wine is delivered. This often leaves the investor with no way in which to obtain the wine they bought, or get any kind of refund on the money they have spent. There is also a risk that the merchant may have oversold their allocation of the harvest, leaving customers disappointed. This can result in issues for those who have gone on to take orders from others, as they will no longer be able to fulfil their promise.

The best wines offered through the en primeur process mean that not only does the consumer have to wait an additional eighteen months for delivery, but they must then wait up to another decade before the wine reaches its full potential. Not only does this mean that consumers have to wait a lengthy amount of time before they can even taste the final product, it also means additional costs are involved in cellaring charges, unless you’re lucky enough to have an underground cellar of your own.

Whilst en primeur wines are valuable if you are looking to stock a cellar, and have the money to invest for long periods, for those who want to experience the wine this is often not the right way to go. This leads to yet another financial issue for buyers who find that end consumers only want to buy the wine when it is ready to be drunk, so investors in en primeur have to tie up their money for a long time, before they can see any return.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

En Primeur Part Two: The Pro's

Arguably, the advantages of buying en primeur are few and far between for the consumer. However for those looking to make an investment; the practice arguably holds great sway. For them, the ability to buy high quality wine from the most sought after regions, for a heavily discounted price makes it a worthwhile process.

As consumers and investors pay before wine is even bottled another advantage is the ability to choose the sizing of the bottle you require. The producer will present the wine however you want it, from a half to a magnum. Whilst this might not be important to some, for some wine enthusiasts the opportunity to buy wine in a magnum, which is a rarity, adds to the draw.

From a producers point of view, the advantages are numerous. Firstly, and for many châteaux’s, most importantly, is the fact that they do not have to wait three years to cash in on that years harvest. This means the chateaux itself has to invest less capital to sustain its business.

Secondly, en primeur wine creates a huge demand within the industry, due to the publicity it receives. The economic laws of supply and demand mean that when there is high demand for a product in low supply, prices will naturally be high if there is a market for them. With en primeur pricing being guided by commentators such as Robert Parker, and regarded as some of the best in the world, it is unsurprising that many producers are able to charge large amounts for wine which isn’t even matured.

Finally, selling wine en primeur reduces the châteaux’s own risk. By selling it before it is matured, producers do not have to concern themselves with the possibility of unsold wine not to the complexity of the original tasting. Again taking away the risk and ensuring a profit!

Tomorrow – the con’s!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

En Primeur – An Introduction

En primeur roughly translates from the French as “first refusal” or “in early produce.”
In its pure form the method originated two centuries ago, when merchants selected barrels of wine which they would then bottle themselves. Today the bottling process has been taken over by the châteaux. Despite the changes, the principle remains the same, allowing producers to benefit greatly from the advance payment for their wine.

In its simplest terms en primeur is the practice of selling wine before it is ready for release, before it has even been bottled. These are unfinished wines, which are only half way through the maturation process. It will be months, even years, before these wines are ready for the bottling process, after which they will still require further maturation before they become approachable.

The method is traditionally practiced by the wines of outstanding quality from Bordeaux, Burgundy and The Rhone valley. Other regions such as Italy, California and Australia have recently begun to partake in this practice on an extremely limited scale.

En primeur purchasers fall in to two distinct categories: Wine lovers, who are unfazed by the prospect of waiting years before they can taste the final product; or investors, whose aim is to make a financial profit from leaving the wine to mature. The latter are the most predominant buyers.

The en primeur process is a complicated one, in which people purchase wines on others recommendation. Often, they will not have even tasted the wine for themselves, and are led simply by the profile and recommendation of wine commentators within the industry, such as Robert Parker, Clive Coates and James Suckling.

Barrel tasting for Bordeaux en primeur wines occur the spring after the harvest, which equates to a maturation of around six to eight months, leaving the raw wine still highly tannic and undeveloped. Tasting for en primeur wines of Burgundy and The Rhone regions occur another six months after that, leaving them in a similar condition to that of Bordeaux. The tasting allows producers of the wine to understand how the market will react, by the feedback of the wine connoisseurs. It also gives the negociants a chance to see how the finished article will develop, giving them an idea of the quality of the wine. This in turn allows them to determine the eventual price.

En Primeur - Time for a change?

Having written an essay on En Primeur for my WSET Diploma last year, I though I’d share with you some parts of it.

So, from this evening, I’ll be posting one part a day (there are four parts). This will include an introduction to the process, followed by short articles on the pro’s and con’s of it usage, ending with my own conclusion on whether I believe it is time for a change in the industry.

As always, I welcome any comments, so if you agree, or disagree with my opinions please do say!

Monday, 18 May 2009

red truck wines Mini Barrel

Apart from getting the opportunity to taste lots of fantastic wines at the London International Wine Fair I also got to take a look at some new packaging. There was the wine can from REXAM, and the wine carton with a straw…..though that looked more like a carton of juice which I’m not entirely sure is a good idea!

One very innovative type of packaging that caught my eye was the mini wine barrel from red truck wines, Sonoma, California. It looks like it sounds, (and the picture shows) a mini barrel. This is an alternative to the traditional three litre bag in box (otherwise known simply as wine in a box), holding the equivalent to four standard bottles of wine. The best bit is, once opened it will keep the fresh for around 40 days.

Unfortunately the mini barrel isn’t available to UK consumers yet. However after speaking to one of the guys on the stand, I found out they are looking to introduce it into the UK in about a year’s time, once they’ve worked out a few figures!

Guys please try and get it over here as soon as possible!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Sauvignon Blanc or Bust?

I’ve always loved New Zealand wines; their Sauvignon Blanc is without a doubt my favourite, though they do produce some fantastic reds with their Merlot and Pinot Noir. So, for me this week’s news in Decanter was delightful! The UK public have finally caught on, but why now?

Traditional wine producing countries such as France, Italy and Spain, have all seen a recent downturn in UK sales. Whilst much of this can be attributed to the current economic crisis and strong Euro exchange rate; the 42% increase in New Zealand wine sales in the UK, in only 12 weeks, suggests there is more going on.

A good Sancerre will cost you between £18 and £20; where as a New Zealand equivalent will cost you a mere £13 in comparison. So, it’s definitely a cheaper option, something which is undoubtedly an advantage in the current market. Add to the price difference, the fact that for a long time New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has been considered better than its European counterparts, and I think we’ve uncovered the reason for the spike!

People tightening their belts is encouraging them to look at the things they buy, whether that be clothes, shoes, food or wine. Nothing is exempt. So if someone offers something of the same quality, but at a much lower price, its no wonder its selling like hotcakes.

Though I would love to see this continue, an article on The Times Online about the Decanter World Wine Awards, suggests that the 2008 vintage New Zealand wines are “evil, watery, grassy wines.” (Their words not mine!) I guess we’ll have to wait and see…..

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Pomegranate Wine from Rimon Winery

Having finally managed to decipher some of my notes from this week’s London International Wine Fair, the first thing I wanted to post about is this amazing Pomegranate wine (and yes I can already see everybody turning their noses up at it!), from the Rimon winery in Israel.

In order to produce this wine they use traditional winemaking techniques and then age it in French Oak barrels. They produce it in three styles, a dry, desert and port style wine.

To taste, the wines are excellent. The dry has flavours of cherry with a hint of black pepper in the background; the desert also has the flavours of cherries but with hints of chocolate. The port style is, as it says on the bottle, a port style wine with a delicate warm finish.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was very difficult to distinguish these from traditional wines, and they come with the added health benefits of Pomegranates which are high in antioxidants, and contain vitamins A, B and C, iron, calcium and other essential minerals. For those of you interested, they are also kosher wines, unsurprising considering their origin.

Now to the important part - would I recommend these wines to anyone? Strangely enough, yes I would! They are a little different but they are superb, so congratulations to the Rimon winery and keep it up.

If you want to sample these wines for yourself, you can find them in Waitrose as well as several small wine shops and delis.

For more information go to: http://www.rimonwinery.co.uk/

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Day at the London International Wine Fair

What a day I’ve had today! As some of you may have guessed I’ve been to the London International Wine Fair, I’ve tasted some fantastic wines, and some very strange ones!!

I’ve tasted wines from places that I didn’t even know produced wine and wine made from pomegranates (yes you did hear me right!) which I’ve got written down and ready to share with you, once I can decipher my own notes! I also saw some fantastic new packaging ideas and some not so great, or at least in my mind. The only downside for me was that I could only go for one day and not the full three days it’s on. There’s so much there to look at and to taste, so next year I’m planning on spending a bit more time there!

Expect some more detailed wine articles soon!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

the Grand Ardẽche Chardonnay from Maison Louis Latour

I recently paid a visit to Wimbledon Wine Cellars, where they have a fantastic range, to pick up a present for a friend. As I didn’t have a lot of time I asked for their recommendation for an oaked fruity white. What they recommended was the Grand Ardẽche Chardonnay from Maison Louis Latour, a Vin de Pays des Coteaux de L’Ardẽche, priced at around £9.
A bright lemony green colour with wonderful developing aromas of vanilla and oak, on the palate it is a dry wine with a good level of acidity and a medium body. With a creamy texture, it had flavours of vanilla, a touch of spice from the oak barrels it was aged in, and hint of green apple and lemon in the background.

An outstanding wine showing good complexity in the flavours and balance between these, the acidity and the dryness of the wine, it is very burgundian in style. But what else would you expect from Maison Louis Latour? Ready to drink now, it was thoroughly enjoyable, but could also be kept for a couple of years too, if you wanted to enhance the flavours even more.
Thank you very much Wimbledon Wine Cellars!

Terrorists in the Wine Industry

According to Decanter this week, we now have militants within the wine industry! Having never read anything about this kind of thing before, I’ll admit I was shocked to read about CRAV, a French militant wine group, who had set fire a co-operative and vandalised a bottling line in the south of France (http://www.decanter.com/news/282248.html).

After doing a little research I discovered that they formed as CRAV in the 80’s, and have been attacking the big wineries in the south of France since then. Though these dates suggested a quite recent group, a little bit more digging revealed they have been around in one guise or another since 1907!

The groups aim is to gain higher prices for their wine and is made up of the smaller wine producers in the south of France. In 2007 they gave President Sarkozy an ultimatum that if wine prices had not increased within one month then they would “go into action.” They even went as far as to say that they could not rule out deaths!

Honestly, what is the world coming to when you get terrorists within the wine industry!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Oz and James's Big Wine Adventure

Having recently been ill, I was subjected to three weeks of my sofa and the wonders of daytime TV…..lucky me! However, in and amongst all these repeats, there was one little gem which I’d missed the first time around, and that was Oz and James’s Big Wine Adventure (thank you Dave for keeping me sane!).

Watching the programme, the thing that staggered me the most was James May’s inability to understand the concept of Terrior. It might just be me but I thought Oz’s constant attempt to help James understand deserved a medal, but I digress, the TV show isn’t what I really wanted to talk about. It reminded that I was bought the book that accompanied the show as a Christmas present, and I’d never read it! So in an attempt to stem the boredom I sat down and got reading.

Having a little wine knowledge I thought I would find the book just went over information I already knew, but I was surprised in what I found. For those of you with in-depth wine knowledge, the simplicity of Oz’s insight in to the world of French wine might not be comprehensive enough, for a wine novice it did a great job. Without over confusing the reader with the extremely complex French wine laws, it gave enough information to help make an informed choice. There was also lots of information about vineyards, the wines they produce, places of interest to visit and the whole process of producing wine, from growing the grapes to the end product itself. There is also an enormous amount of information to help you plan your own wine adventure, and whilst, yes, you could find all this out from the internet, it’s great to have it all compiled and neatly organised in one place.

A very enjoyable read which I would highly recommend to anyone no matter how much you know about wine!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Clos Monistrol Cava Vintage 2005

Having posted several articles about Champagne I thought I’d offer up an alternative to this fantastic wine, that being Spain’s sparkling offer, Cava. There are many fantastic Cava’s on the market, but you do need to be careful as there are also many poor quality one’s out there. Cava for many years suffered with a very poor reputation for quality, however with the permitted introduction of Chardonnay into the blend, the quality and complexities of the wine have increased enormously. In fact, I would argue that a good Cava can be on par with a bottle of champagne, especially when you consider the average price point of each.

The wine I’ve tasted this week is Clos Monistrol Cava Vintage 2005. Pale lemon in colour, to the nose the wine was showing developing aromas of freshly made bread with a hint of green apple in the background. These flavours were again shown on the palate with an added touch of citrus and a refreshing acidity that are all perfectly in balance. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking this, though I am a big fan of Cava anyway!

If you enjoy the delights of champagne and are looking for an alternative, then this is one which I would highly recommend. Priced around £12 in most of the major supermarkets, it’s a great buy. The bottle I bought was on offer at £6, making it even better value!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The London International Wine Fair and DISTIL Trade Show

This week sees the London International Wine Fair and DISTIL Trade Show at ExCeL in London, one of the most exciting events in the wine industries calendar. As usual most major wine producing and importing companies from all over the globe will be there. These include Mentzendorff, Enotria, Emilio Lustau and Constellation, all of whom will be showing off their latest offerings for both the on and off trade.

Along with the actual wines, many of the wine makers will be there to talk you through their creations for the coming year; traders will also be able to attend master classes throughout the three days to really hone their tasting skills.

I got my pass and a copy of The Grapevine this weekend, and having studied it to find my route for day, the wines that have caught my attention so far include the new range from Brown Brothers, the latest additions to the Montes Alpha range and of course the fantastic range sherries that will be available to taste. Boy can I not wait till Thursday! Hopefully I’ll have plenty of tastings to put on here!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rose

A friend came over for dinner last week, bringing with him the customary bottle of wine. So I thought, why not write it up on here! (Something I am going to be doing more often, as I get in to this so bear with me!)

The wine in question was a bottle of Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rose 2007, not a wine I would buy myself, not being a big fan of Rose, but when it’s free who’s complaining?

Firstly, a bit of history for you; the Tempranillo Rose is the latest addition to the highly successful Rioja brand, Campo Viejo, and is produced from 100% Tempranillo which is Spain’s classic red grape variety. A very pleasant, youthful, refreshing wine it is bright pink in colour with the aromas of raspberries, strawberries and plums. Quite a simple wine, it showed the same flavours on the palate, and had a good balance between the acidity, sweetness and fruit flavour.

All in all, it was an acceptable quality wine, though nothing thrilling. Best drunk chilled on a warm summer’s day!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

My Dream Job

Wow….I’ve found my dream job! California’s Murphy-Goode Winery is offering $10,000 a month for someone to eat good food, drink wine and live in a luxury home and blog about their experiences. The successful candidate will get a deluxe private home in Healsburg (which is within walking distance of their tasting room) as well as your return airfare.

In return all the lucky ‘winner’ will be expected to do is explore Sonoma County’s vineyards and embrace social media, buy posting weekly blogs, photo diaries, video updates and media interviews, as well as ‘tweeting’ and ‘facebooking.’ During your time out there, you also get the opportunity to create a special wine to mark your time with the company!

To apply you need to complete the online application (http://areallygoodejob.com/overview.aspx) and post a 60 second video about yourself….Oh and the closing date is the 5th June – good luck!

Now then where’s my video camera…

Saturday, 2 May 2009

More Bad News for Champagne

Despite all the hype about the tasting of the world’s oldest bottle of champagne this week by Perrier Jouẽt, the industry has been dealt a blow with Moẽt Hennessy Champagne reporting a slump in their sales of 35% in the first three months of 2009, according to Decanter (you can read the full article here http://www.decanter.com/news/281561.html). Brands under the Moẽt Hennessy umbrella include some of the most luxurious champagnes like Moẽt & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, Mercier and Krug.

Is this a sign that the global economic downturn has hit the luxury good market? Or could it just be a post-Christmas slump? And could this be why Louis Vuitton Moẽt Hennessy is rumoured to have held talks with Diageo about the possible sale of its wine interests? Though, I must stress this has been denied by both parties.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Wine for the Health Conscious

I read a very interesting article on the Guardian website today, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/apr/30/alcohol-life-expectancy-live-longer, all about how wine can help men to live up to 5 years longer than a teetotaller, and have less chance of a heart attack as well! The research conducted by Dr Marinette Streppel at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands and went on to be published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It found that men, who consumed less than 20 grams of alcohol daily over an extended period, could prolong their life by up to two years more than those who avoided any alcohol at all. It also discovered that men, who drink less than half a glass of wine specifically on a daily basis, can live two and a half years longer than those who drink beer and spirits. Not only that but they can also live an average five years longer than someone who is completely teetotal; of those five years, researchers attributed two years to the effect of alcohol intake and the other three years to the effects of wine consumption.

Interestingly, the survey showed that 70% of the wine consumed during it was red. Here in the UK, we might want to take note of that as last year we ‘only’ drank 720 million bottles of the red stuff, in comparison to 764 million bottles of white, but a mere 150 million bottles of rose (that’s over 1,634 million bottles of wine we drank as a nation last year…wow!)

Alcohol campaigners, unsurprisingly, see the idea of promoting drinking as a healthy option as dangerous, pointing out that there is a drop in life expectancy of men consuming more that half a glass of wine per day. They’re not alone, with other research this year already highlighting the dangers to women, with results showing that women who drank a small glass of wine per day had an increased chance of getting cancer.

Both of these research studies highlight just how far away we are on concluding whether or not wine is good for your health. In my opinion, we’ll probably never get there, but I think as long as people are sensible with their alcohol consumption and follow both guidelines on the topic, as well as leading a healthy lifestyle – que sera, sera!

Monday, 27 April 2009

When in Rome....

Recently I went on holiday to Italy; where I stayed just outside Rome in a town called Marino, which some of you may know has a wine festival every year. During this, all the fountains in town are filled with the local sweet white wine, and distributed freely to everyone. They make a real day of it with processions, music and period costumes attracting thousands from all over the region.

However due to bad planning on our behalf, we were six months too early, or six months too late if you want to look at it from another point of view! Despite that, waking up every morning overlooking numerous vineyards was amazing – even if they were all pruned back and dormant, waiting for their time in the spring to burst into action.

Desperate to at least taste some of the local wine, we headed to
the local pizzeria to sample their culinary delights. At the rear of the pizzeria is one of the hundreds of small local vineyard and olive groves, which meant
that the wine on the menu was literally on tap! We decided to brave and ordered a litre of the house white. What arrived at our table was nothing short of amazing, a wonderfully youthful and fruit driven Chardonnay, it wasn’t a great wine in the terms of Bordeaux, but a really enjoyable and refreshing white with a slight sparkle.

After spending another night at the restaurant drinking more of this fabulous wine, we decided to grab a couple of bottles to bring home with us on our final day. Walking in to the shop we found the bottle for only €2 a bottle, for that price it was absolutely stunning!

It would seem that unfortunately you can’t buy it online, but here are a couple of pictures anyway!

If anyone manages to find it let me know!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Worlds Oldest Champagne

I read an interesting g article today on The Times Online http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/wine/article5941328.ece about the tasting of the oldest champagne in the world – a bottle of an1825 Perrier-Jouẽt, which was sealed 184 years ago!

All of the critics were understandably excited to be involved in such a historic tasting, but of course opinions differed on the actual taste differed. The critics described the bottle as having a taste of mushroom and white truffles, with honey and gingerbread creeping in too.

Whilst many of you may wonder why you would want to drink a bottle of champagne, which at 184 years old had few bubbles left and taste of mushroom, when the complexities started to appear I can only imagine how fantastic it tasted!

Perrier-Jouẽt have got two more bottles of champagne from 1825 stored deep in their cellars, which unfortunately they say they won’t be opening in the near future. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when they do I’ll be there!

Friday, 24 April 2009

The Beginning

Hi and welcome to my brand new blog. Over the next few months I am hoping to fill it with news from the wine industry, alongside wine tastings and tips on how to get the most out of your wine - even if you don't know your Chardonnay from your Sauvignon.

Any comments are more than welcome and I look forward to hearing from you all!