Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Friday’s Champagne tasting

Many thanks to all of you who came to the tasting – I had a brilliant time and I really do hope you enjoyed it as well! Any feedback, comments or suggestions for future events are very welcome. I have yet to find the answer to Anna’s question on the reasoning behind always producing champagne as a sparkling wine, I’ll get back as soon as I find a plausible explanation. Meanwhile, I can only suggest we continue to relish in these delicious bubbles in a blissful state of ignorance! Below are the wines we tried, paired as they were presented on Friday.

Waitrose Blanc de Noirs NV Champagne
Made only from Pinot Noir, this champagne just received a trophy from the International Wine and Spirit Competition – if you feel you need another reason for trying it again. £17.99 at Waitrose
Waitrose Blanc de Blancs NV Champagne
All made from delicious Chardonnay grapes. £19.99 at Waitrose

Veuve Clicquot Brut NV Champagne
Pinot Noir dominated champagne, approximately £30 at various merchants.
Taittinger Brut Réserve NV Champagne
High proportion of Chardonnay in this wine, approximately £32 at various merchants.

Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs 1999 Vintage Champagne
All Chardonnay champagne available from The Winery (see links) for £30.99
Jean Velut, Cuvée Millésime 1999 Vintage Champagne
A blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir available from The Winery, approximately £30.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tasting preparation…

Champagne is probably one of my favourite wines although, as you probably already know, I’m a bit of a fan of sparkling wine in general. One thing that has always amazed me is the production of champagne and how different it is from still wine making. In champagne the ‘assemblage’ or blending of the wine is extremely important and so are the maturation time, the ‘riddling’ process and the final ‘dosage’. Plenty of terminology there I know, hence I thought I’d provide a couple of links to sites that explain the champagne production method so that those of you who are really keen get a chance to prepare for Friday’s tasting. Obviously, I’ll go through some of the stuff at the tasting but it probably won’t be in any great detail unless you start asking me lots of questions, at which point I will take no responsibility for talking too much… In the meantime, check out the links to 'The Wine Doctor' and 'Wikipedia' for good info on champagne and email me/leave a comment if you have any questions or thoughts. See you next Friday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Wow, can’t believe I've been ignoring my own dear blog for this long…very sad indeed… For all of you who care, I've managed to pass all of my wine diploma exams and now only have a few essays to finish off before I’m done. Think that will be it for studying for a while… Anyways, preparing for our tasting next Friday and will soon post a bit of info about Champagne for those of you who feel like preparing!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


..is probably the word for what I have done to this blog lately… And, surprise, surprise, I got plenty of excuses; wedding is one, which I personally think is a pretty good one. But now that I am a married woman one would think that this negligence might end. Not so I’m afraid as all my precious time goes into studying for my biggest wine exam ever. It’s happening soon, and it’s not that much fun, but come mid June and I will have time to ‘enjoy’ wine again. There is one positive side though, besides the fact that I’ll know even more about wine once this exam is over, I am tasting loads in the coming weeks and working up a good selection of wines for you all to relish in so PLEASE check back with me in a few weeks time and I promise to improve and stop this terrible blog negligence… cheerio for now and don’t forget to enjoy a glass of rosé in the spring sun! (Try an English one as there are loads of good ones out there!)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Saturday treat

We were in for a real treat this weekend as Anna had us over for dinner! Not only is she a brilliant cook, she also likes experimenting with wine!! She served a very fresh and fruity Picpoul de Pinet (a Southern French white) with her delicious homemade Bouillabaisse – very yummy and a great food and wine match. With the cheese board Anna treated us to an oaked Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa – from the 03 vintage, this wine was brilliant. A round, soft texture, very refreshing acidity and notes of melon, nectar and a slight nuttiness on the finish – Anna forgot the name of the producer, could you remind us please?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The beauty of age…

Château des Vaults, La Jalousie 2005 Savennières, Loire France
We tried this white (made from Chenin Blanc) at the spring tasting in 2007 and it was a bit closed although it gave all the hints of what was to come. Tried it again with dinner tonight and it was truly delicious! A lot more open on the nose and the palate is big and round showing the exact same as the nose: honey, nectar and ripe stone fruit with a touch of smoke (no oak involved in this one though). This is what age does to some wines and sometimes 6-9 months is enough. However, I think it will develop for yet some years to come; it’s so much more charming now then it was a year ago yet it still promises more…

Waitrose stocks it for £9.99

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Wicked whites

My diploma course is drawing to an end and soon I will get my Wednesday evenings back. That said I am looking at many weekends of studying for the final exam… Last week we studied Western Australia and New Zealand and tried some fantastic wines – thought I’d share a few.

Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay 2004 Margaret River, Western Australia
If you have £30 in your pocket and want to spend it on wine then this is the bottle to go for – that is if you can find this ‘cult’ wine. I’ve located it at the fine wine merchant Domaine Direct (see links) but who knows how long they’ll have it for. It’s a truly delicious white, I couldn’t stop drinking it and there was no spitting in the class room when this was in our glasses (our teacher had to tell one guy off ‘stop drinking and start studying’ when he topped up his glass). It’s rich and round with notes of banana, caramel pineapple and citrus. The texture is smooth and silky and the length never ending. My tasting notes states ‘pure heaven’.

Felton Road Block 1 Riesling 2007 Central Otago, New Zealand
This is an absolutely scrumptious Riesling. It’s seriously sweet yet the searing high acidity (this is positive) balance the wine perfectly keeping the wine sweet yet refreshing. It’s young though: fresh, citrussy, mineral with an attractive steeliness to it. I’d love to try this one in a couple of years when it’s petrolly and honeyed. Anyone fancy sharing a case for cellaring purposes just let me know and I’ll see if I can locate some of this delicious wine! £15.99 at Berry Bros & Rudd

Milton Chardonnay, Opou Vineyard 2005 Gisborne, New Zealand
Another stunner with some real character. Almost golden in colour, this wine had slight oxidative characteristics with a smoky nose and a tropical fruit laden, buttery and nutty palate. Great intensity of flavours and good acidity keeps the wine lifted and refreshing. A definite food wine probably suitable for fish in creamy sauces. £10.99 at vintageroots.co.uk

Monday, January 28, 2008

Frog’s Leap Zinfandel 2004 California, USA

Slinky, a bit glitzy, satisfyingly smooth with subtle oak (think cake spice) and rich round blue and black berry flavours made this red a terrific Saturday night treat. Mathias made a delicious lasagna (with black olives, sun-dried tomato, mushrooms and lots of ricotta cheese etc..) that worked wonders with the wine. Highly recommended and actually worth the price…. Stockist: Berry Bros & Rudd, Waitrose, £19.99

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stockist update

Just a quick note to let you know that Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2006 will be stocked by www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk and Caviste (see link) shortly!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Heavenly New Zealand flavours

Today was New Zealand’s trade tasting in London and it was fun to see what’s going on in Kiwi land. Although renowned for their delicious Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand has so much more to offer. Today’s tasting really showcased the diversity of New Zealand wine: full-bodied reds from Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet; aromatic Rieslings; honeyed Pinot Gris; velvety Pinot Noir; and I even spotted a fragrant and perfumed Gewürtztraminer. Below are a few of the ones I enjoyed the most – some may be more common in the on-trade market so look out for them on restaurant’s wine lists.

Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2006 Central Otago
Lovely Pinot nose with a rich palate showing dark and ripe raspberry and cherry flavours with smoky, slightly spicy notes. A velvety texture, serious depth of flavour and a refreshing acidity (making my own mouth watering just thinking of this beauty..). It’s imported by
UK company Ellis of Richmond but I am gonna have to come back to you in regards to who stocks this wine. It may be most common in restaurants. Approximate retail price: £23.95

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Seddon Pinot Noir 2006 Marlborough
Villa Maria is in my opinion a really ‘safe’ card when buying NZ wine – I have yet to try one of their wines that I am disappointed with. However, not all of their wines make me as excited as this Pinot Noir and the white below. This single vineyard Pinot Noir boasts a stunning savoury and fruity nose with a dangerously seductive palate: smooth, smoky, strawberryish – very yummy with a long length. £19.99 at www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk

Villa Maria Single Vineyard Taylors Pass Riesling 2007 Marlborough
A very enticing richly honeyed nose precedes a succulent palate showing flavours of peach, honey, lime and lemon drops. This wine has a fair bit of sweetness but that is balanced and kept refreshing by a good deal of acidity. The finish is long with some minerality coming through. £12.99 at www.nzhouseofwine.co.uk

Unison Pinot Gris 2006 Hawke’s Bay
Pinot Gris from NZ has become really popular of late and many vineyards are now producing a Pinot Gris, although in small quantities. You never really know what you will get in your glass with this grape variety from
New Zealand though. The style differ quite a lot from winery to winery, which can be confusing but also very exciting as there is plenty of new, fresh stuff out there made by forward thinking, experimental and funky wine makers. This example from Unison combines the freshness of good Italian Pinot Grigio (same grape variety as Pinot Gris) with the richer Alsatian style. The result is a wine that’s fresh, rich in flavours (honey, citrus, apple) but finishes on a rather light note – I think this will be a real beauty for fancy spring/summer picnics! Approximate price is £13.95.

Vidal Reserve Syrah 2004 Hawke’s Bay
A plummy nose precedes a big, rich and succulent palate. Plum and ripe cherry fruit flavours mix with some serious spiciness (white and black pepper) with a smoky yet refreshing finish making one long for another sip! £9.99