Monthly Archives: September 2013

Que Syrah Syrah – Wines of the Northern Rhone

 I loved my stay in Tain Hermitage last summer; the views were spectacular, the food was sumptuous and the wines were sublime. The Northern Rhone is the spiritual birthplace of Syrah and home to the great steep, terraced vineyards of Hermitage and Cote Rotie. These great names also come with great prices but there is fantastic value to be found in the area; the appellations of Crozes Hermitage and St Joseph, in my opinion, offer some of the best value and most consistent quality red wines anywhere in France.  And its not just reds; Condrieu is the pinnacle for Viognier and then there’s Marsanne and Roussanne in Hermitage and the surrounding areas. All in all, a very exciting region and relatively simple to understand!


The view from Tournon back over to Tain and the mighty hill of Hermitage

So I was overjoyed when Jimmy at the West London Wine School decided to put on a series of Rhone events, giving me a chance to reminisce. The first event was a tasting of the Northern Rhone, consisting of three very different styles of white wine and then onto the reds of Crozes, Hermitage and the much-underrated region of Cornas.


The whites 

I’m not a great fan of Rhone whites as I’m an acid freak when it comes to white wine – the Marsanne and Rousanne examples did vey little to change my mind in this flight, but the Condrieu was delicious:


Jean-Luc Colombo Redonne, Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2011 (Waitrose £12.99)

Blend of 70% Viognier and 30% Rousanne. Aromas of grapefruit, honey, white blossom and a touch of hay. On the palate the taste is just a bit flat with pithy grapefruit – there’s a touch of fresh acidity but it disappears very quickly. As well as grapefruit there’s some pear with a tinge of green herb and bitter almond on the finish. This just doesn’t do it for me and is a bit like a whoopee-cushion – good nose but goes very flat very quickly once it hits the tongue. 86 points


Delas Marquise de la Tourette Hermitage Blanc 2005 (N/A in UK @£30)

Blend of 90% Marsanne and 10% Roussanne. This wine was highly oxidised but we gave it a go anyway. Very nutty, almost sherry-like on the nose. There were some baked apples and hazelnuts on the palate but you would send this back. No score


Domaine Yves Cuilleron Les Chaillets Condrieu 2008 ( £54.55)

100% Viognier. Delightful aromas of peaches, apricots, some tropical fruits, backed up with honey, nuts and fragrant white flowers. The wine screams richness and intensity. There’s a delightful freshness upfront and plenty of juicy peach, mandarin and even a touch of apple skin giving an intriguing rich and almost tannic structure. After the fruit there is a wonderful nuttiness and even an edge of honey sweetness. Delicious and wonderful balance with a very generous finish. One of the best whites from the Northern Rhone I’ve encountered. 93 points


The Reds

The red flight consisted of a couple of different Crozes from one supplier, a delightful Hermitage, and two vintages of a very robust Cornas:


David Reynaud Crozes Hermitage 2010 ( £17.50)

100% Syrah. Huge powerful nose of black, ripe plums and blueberries with a touch of fennel, rosemary and a hint of cracked black pepper. The big dark fruit is present on the palate with good freshness, a bit of tannic grip and plenty of deep black spice. A very decent wine but just falls off a bit quickly at this price. 89 points (most votes for best value wine of the night, but didn’t get mine)


David Reynaud Crozes Hermitage Les Croix Vieilles Vignes 2010 ( £23.65)

100% Syrah. There’s so much more going on from with these old vines; a touch of elegant smoke, heady black and dried fruit, rosemary, violets and delightful black pepper. On the palate it’s elegant and deliciously mouth-watering. Much more subtle than the first Crozes, there’s highly concentrated black fruit then come the herbs, and smoky, dark spice. The wine starts very gently, builds up in layers and just keeps going. One worth keeping for a few more years. My best value wine of the night. 93 points


Maison Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne Hermitage 2007 (Berry Bros £45.00)

100% Syrah. I’ve got half a case of this wine sat upstairs that I bought when I visited Chapoutier last year – turned out to be a great purchase! As well as sweet black cherries on the nose there is also a decent splash of red berries as well as subtle smoky spice, and a violet edge. Elegant and fresh, it is still quite closed but the red and black fruit, earth and minerality are still all in evidence. The tannins are so smooth and the finish is long, complex and balanced. The Sizeranne just shows how elegant Syrah can be – I’m going hang on a couple more years before breaking open my stash. 94 points and my wine of the night.


Jean-Luc Colombo Les Ruchets Cornas 2007 (Roberson £64.95)

100% Syrah – Cornas is the only appellation where the addition of white grapes is not allowed; in the rest of this area winemakers can use up to 15%, even though they rarely do. The 2007 had a powerful nose of dark fruit with lots of smoke, earth and even a hint of feral animal! Also plenty of black spice but it’s actually surprisingly elegant. Full bodied and big tannin, not so much acidity but still a decent degree of freshness. There’s plenty of the black fruit and spice as well – more rustic than the Hermitage-clan but still very enjoyable. 92 points (voted best wine by the group – beat the Hermitage by 1 vote)


Jean-Luc Colombo Les Ruchets Cornas 1999 (RS Wines £54.00)

100% Syrah. I love to taste older wine, as I love the secondary aromas and flavours that come with age. This 1999 has raisins, prunes and dark fruit along with some sweet spice, leather and roasted, smoky meat. It has lost most of its acidic freshness and the taste is primarily dried fruit, lots of earth and just a hint of smoky bacon. Probably just past its best but very soft and very smooth. 91 points

Celebrating my century!

I wrote my first post on confessionsofawinegeek on October 22nd last year. 11 months later and the century is up; this is my 100th post.

Time has whizzed by and the words have continued to flow, so much so that I’m celebrating the occasion by cheating! Here are my top 10 favourite posts and for each an explanation why, from oldest to newest.

Please enjoy the articles whether you’re reading them for the first time or just revisiting… And thank you all for your support!

  1. USA vs. France… Again? A blind tasting at a family get together was the inspiration behind my first post
  2. Cava tasting at Freixenet.  On a long weekend in Barcelona we took the train out to Freixenet and discovered the joy of Cava.
  3. Leoville Barton vertical. My first experience of top class Bordeaux – there was no turning back after this.
  4. My wine hero. Jez is one of the reasons I love wine so much and I just had to write an article about the importance of having a relationship with your independent wine merchant
  5. Best value wine list… no Bull. I was so amazed at the value on offer on the wine list at Ye Olde Bull’s Head in Beaumaris that I just had to wrote about it.
  6. Riesling from the Ashes. One of the things I wanted to do was to get friends drinking Rielsing… and its worked; last time a few of us got together everyone brought a bottle!
  7. Camel Valley Gold. I’ve visited a few English wineries and written about them on ‘confessions’, but this was my favourite.
  8. What wine with KFC. Wine can be fun and enjoyed with even the dirtiest of food!
  9. Tasting of Vosne Romanee. Three letters. DRC. Nothing else needs to be said.
  10. Matching wine & crisps. More fun with daft food and win pairings… and I love Monster Munch!

Here’s to the next 100!


Me and The Fish outside Chateau Pichon Longueville-Baron

Birthday bonanza

I do apologise for this slightly self-indulgent post but if you can’t treat yourself in your birthday week then when can you? It also makes getting another year older a bit more fun!


Who knew there were so many wine related birthday cards?

 Deciding what to drink over the weekend (starting on Thursday – the actual birthday) was always going to be fun, challenging and frustrating. Fun because I was going to open a couple of real good ‘uns, challenging because there is just so much choice, frustrating because I wouldn’t be able to open (or afford!) everything I wanted.

I set my sights on two whites and two reds. There was absolutely no decision to make on red number one, which came from one of my favourite winemakers in my very favourite appellation; a Volnay from Domaine de Montille. I bought a few of these from The Wine Society a few months back so that one was sorted.

Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds 2004 (The Wine Society £49.00)

Red currant, wild strawberry and ripe cherries scream up the nostrils, with earthy and leathery backnotes – quite butch for a Volnay, but what I expect from my favourite vineyard in the appellation. Big tannins upfront but they dissolve as the exhilarating acidity comes through. Lots of rich, wild red fruit and loads of earthy depth and what a finish; long, balanced and plenty of years ahead. Right, where’s the Wine Society’s number?? 95 points

For red number two I to set my sights a bit further afield. I considered a d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz after the recent fabulous tasting I attended, along with a couple of big Cabernets from South Africa. But in the end found an old friend from California lurking on a low shelf (bought from The Wine Society but not available right now). Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (renamed Esprit de Tablas since the 2011 vintage) is the flagship wine of a joint venture between American vintner Robert Haas and the Perrin family of the famous Château de Baeucastel in Chateuneuf-du-Pape. The vines are cuttings from the famous Rhone vineyards and the wine first came to my attention at a Berry Bros tasting some 18 months ago.

Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel 2004 (2006 available at Fine & Rare £26.40)

A wine with sweetness written all over it. The nose is mainly red fruits with just a hint of blackcurrant along with the autumnal hedgerow herbs I expect from the southern Rhone and some wonderfully developed smoke. The texture is rich, velvety and smooth. On the palate the fruit is darker with a hint of juicy red currants. The dried herbs and gentle black pepper combine beautifully with fresh acidity and very soft tannins. I would be convinced this came from the Rhone and not California if had been served blind. Excellent drop. 93 points

The whites were a bit more challenging. I looked through my current stocks and just wasn’t inspired. Most of my white Burgundy is a few years short of being ready to drink and I seemed to be all out of Riesling (shock horror!) – I thought I had a bottle of Grosset Polish Hill but alas no! Fortunately for me The Fish gave me a voucher for Roberson so I popped in on my way home from work on Friday and picked out a couple of beauties.

The order of the day was Riesling and Chardonnay. For both decisions I had a tough time weighing up New vs. Old World. With the Riesling I was stuck between the German majesty of JJ Prum and the Kiwi vivaciousness of Pegasus Bay. I am not a totally selfish bugger so I went with the German, as this is one of The Fish’s favourite wines after she tagged along to a tasting earlier this year.

JJ Prum Riesling Kabinett 2010 (Roberson £19.95)

Citrus central – limes and even a hint of pineapple, with undertones of slate and just a whiff of petrol. Sun-drenched fruit on the palate with ripe red apples, limes and just a touch of the tropics. Off-dry with magnificent acidity and just plain fruity, juicy and damn enjoyable. 92 points

The Chardonnay choice became a Burgundy vs. New Zealand toss up; mainly due to the wonderful Felton Road Chard I tried at Roberson recently. But I knew deep down that it was Burgundy I wanted so I bought the Felton Road anyway for future enjoyment! I like common threads between wines so when I came across a Meursault from the de Montille stable it just had to be done. Deux Montille is a negotiant business set up by Domain de Montille where white grapes are bought in from some of the Cote de Beaune’s best sites and the wine is made by Alix, daughter of Hubert de Montille and sister to Etienne, who now runs the business and is the chief red winemaker.

Deux Montille Meursault 1er Cru Bouchères 2007 (Roberson £44.95)

Beautiful deep almost golden colour. It doesn’t give an awful lot away on the nose at first but there is some subtle citrus and a hint of that wonderful hot buttered toast. Quite delicate for a Meursault but there’s a touch of delicious fatness which is balanced by lazer guided acidity. Lots of citrus starting with lemon than grapefruit, all underpinned by the toastiness of the village and just enough oak. 92 points

The 2013 birthday lineup

The 2013 birthday lineup

Suffice to say I was pleased with my choices and even more pleased with how well they all tasted. Roll on September 19th 2014!

d’Arenberg Dead Arm vertical – Power & Finesse in the New World

Earlier this week I attended a fascinating vertical wine tasting at the ever entertaining and informative West London Wine School. Usually these types of tasting are the province of famous domains or chateaux in Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhone… but not this one. This was a vertical of Aussie Shiraz from the colourful and energetic winery that is D’Arenberg in South Australia.

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The winery was established in McLaren Vale in 1912 when (teetotaller) Joseph Osborne purchased 25 hectares of vines. Joseph’s son Frank increased the holding to 78 acres andsold the fruit to local wineries, until he built his own cellar in 1928, and started to vinify the grapes himself for the growing export market. In 1959 Frank’s son Francis (commonly known as d’Arry) decided to launch the D’Arenberg label, named to honour his mother. The brand has grown in stature ever since.

Chester Osborne has run the winery since 1984, the fourth generation of winemakers in the Osborne family. A bright and colourful character (just look at his shirts!), Chester is not only a champion winemaker but also a champion marketer who lives for wine and loves many grapes and different styles of wine. The estate grows in excess of 20 different grapes across 7 vineyards, as well as buying in some grapes from the Adelaide Hills.

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The estate makes over 50 different wines every year, all with fabulous, memorable and often humorous names; Hermit Crab (Viognier and Marsanne), Broken Fishplate (Sauvignon Blanc), Sticks & Stones (Tempranillo, Grenache, Shiraz) and Ironestone Pressings (Grenche, Shiraz, Mouvedre) are just a sample few. The labels are instantly recognisable with the distinctive red diagonal line, so much so that there have been complaints from Champagne house Mumm, who believe the label to be too similar to their own. Interestingly, Chester launched a sparkling wine using the traditional Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and what did he call it? Dadd. With two D’s at the end. Apparently each of the D’s represented Dad, GranDad and Great GranDad… Well, that’s his story anyway!

This tasting consisted of each vintage between 2001 and 2008 of D’Arenberg’s Dead Arm Shiraz, perhaps the most iconic wine in the range. Dead Arm is a vine disease that causes one of the “arms” of the vine to slowly die, while the other “arm”, with low yields, produces fruit of dramatic intensity. All of the fruit comes from McLaren Vale, perhaps not as famous for Shiraz production as the Barosa Valley, but definitely a little more elegant and delicate… words I never though I’d use to describe Aussie Shiraz!


The tasting was a fantastic demonstration of the ageing capability of New World Shiraz, as well as showing how there can be great deal of vintage variation in warmer climates. Below are my notes from the tasting – overall I felt the quality to be extremely high, with only a couple of disappointments. As with a NZ tasting I attended earlier this year, these premium New World wines also provide superb value for money versus their old world counterparts.

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2008

Dense, earthy and smoky nose with lots of dark fruit, black pepper and just a hint of sweet liquorice. In the mouth it’s bright, almost sharp, with razor sharp acidity, which is nicely complemented with a smooth tannic structure. Lots of blackberry fruit and black pepper spice, quite an elegant and long, if slightly hot finish. Not in 100% balance but a couple more years and I think it cold be very fine. 91+ points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2007

A denser nose than the 2008, there’s lots of power and intensity with damson and cassis, supported by violets, smoke and just a hint of roasted meat. On the palate there’s a gentle start and then it just builds and builds. The fruit is soft, black and ripe with a delicious smoky note and just enough vanilla. This is nicely developed already, in great balance and I would happily guzzle a bottle right now. 93 points (my best value wine of the night)

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2006

Still very youthful looking, the nose has sweet fruit, some sweet spice and a touch of eucalyptus. Compared to the 07 and 08 it’s safe and simple. The texture feels lighter and there’s plenty of acid, again balanced nicely with smooth but firm tannins, but the alcohol is way too overpowering and the fruit is a bit port-like. I love the texture but the flavor is just too medicinal. 88 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2005

Big nose on this one! Black cherries, black pepper, touch of eucalyptus and plenty of earthy minerality. Big acid with bigger tannins but still nicely balanced. There’s plenty of dark black fruit here bit also a hint of dried cranberry but the alcohol is still a tad overwhelming. Very juicy and acidic and I like it for that (many of the other tasters did not!) 90 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2004

Generous deep black fruit, with hints of chocolate, black pepper, worn leather and a delightful herbaciousness – so much character and evolution. So vibrant and fruity on the palate with plums and black cherries, and once again that fresh and pure acidity bite and such smooth tannin. This is a very complete wine, with so much fruit, acid and a deliciously silky texture and very long and sweet finish. Lovely stuff. 94 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2003

Black, almost figgy fruit on the nose with lots of earthiness and plenty of meaty development and even a hint of balsamic. But the tannin bashes you round the head, nowhere near the acid I had come to expect and overall just a bit flat, a bit bitter and very short. Parker gave this vintage a 95 but either he got his labels mixed up or this was just a bad bottle? 86 points

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2002

And if the 2003 was disappointing then this put everything right again! Wow! Hugely powerful but enticing aromas of blackberry, cassis, dried herbs de Provence and expensive old leather. Super bright acidity and perfectly integrated and smooth tannin. All of the powerful dark blackberry and damson fruit is too the fore, but there’s a note of raspberry in there too, along with smoke, vanilla and those dried herbs. A Shiraz to warm the heart of any Burgundy lover – if you didn’t think Shiraz could do elegance and finesse then think again. 95 points (mine and the group’s wine of the night – it also got most votes for best value)

D’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2001

Smoke and tobacco is the overriding first hit on the nose, with a bite of eucalyptus that one of the tasters rightly noted smelt of menthol cigarettes (thanks Sarah!) There’s also some dark fruit and black olive – all in all not that appetizing to be fair… But the flavor is wonderful. So fresh and acidic 12 years on with a delightful balance of black and red fruit again and a super long finish. Don’t be put off by the smell! 93 points

Competitions, scores & classifications – no-one ever said it was going to be easy

This month’s edition of Decanter landed on the doormat this morning and it’s the Decanter World Wine Awards edition, with 344 pages dedicated to the winners of “International Trophies”, Gold, Sliver and Bronze medals. 219 judges, tasting over 14,000 wines, decide the awards. The wines are tasted blind and are grouped by country, region, grape and price bracket, so certainly act as a good barometer for what’s hot and what’s not… but they only judge wines that have been entered into the competition. Then there’s the International Wine Challenge, the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the Sommelier Wine Awards… how the heck are we supposed to decide what’s good and what’s not?

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As well as these annual wine competitions there are also the scores from Jancis, Bob, James, Tim and a host of other experts… plus those from the not so experts (blushes!). Its getting quite complex isn’t it? How are we supposed to decide what to buy? What criteria do we use to determine whether a £10 bottle of Chardonnay from Burgundy is any better than a £5 bottle of Chardonnay from Chile?

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To make things even more confusing there’s also the various classification systems. But they’re all different too… France alone has the 1855 classification for (part of) Bordeaux, then there’s the Grand Crus of Burgundy 1936 (and Premier Crus), Alsace (1983) and Champagne and regional classification (AOC’s) for everywhere else. In other countries the major classification is by region, but only in some is it official (e.g. AVA’s in USA) but all this does this tell you where it comes from!

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The point of classification is to make selection a decision easier… then why is there no single way of determining the quality of wine?

Maybe one day we’ll get to single classification that will decide how much we pay for our wine… But I very much doubt it! And anyway, where would be the fun in finding out for ourselves, trusting our own judgement, wasting lots of money on bad over-priced wine and getting a huge rush from finding that amazing bargain at Aldi?

Whoever said loving wine was going to be easy? Good luck!



Sager & Wilde – a view from the bar

I never got the opportunity to go over to Sager & Wilde when they were operating as a pop up in Shoreditch last year, but when I heard that they were opening permanently I was determined to get there as soon as I possibly could. Well they opened on Thursday and we got there on Saturday… and if I lived closer I would go there every Saturday.


Sager & Wilde’s permanent residence used to be a pub and is situated on the Hackney Road. It’s by no means an easy place to get to, especially when the Northern line isn’t running which means no tubes to Old Street! But jump on the 55 bus from Oxford Circus and it will take you to the door, which is open from 5PM to 11PM Wednesday to Sunday. (Edit – you can’t trust the number 55 bus, just get the Northern line to Old Street and take the 15 walk!)


We didn’t eat from the wonderful looking and sounding selection of meats and cheese, or succumb to the saliva-inducing griddled cheese sandwich but we were mesmerised by the quality and value of the wines on offer. The list is updated each day and has the day’s date on the top – if you really enjoyed something on Saturday, there’s no guarantee it will be there when you return on Tuesday, but what can be guaranteed is quality throughout the list. On Saturday 31st August there were 3 sparklers, 10 whites, 10 red, 3 stickies as well as a couple of roses, a selection of Vermouth and a couple of beers to choose from.


And boy did we get stuck in! I started with a delightfully concentrated dry Heymann-Lowenstein Riesling from the Mosel, while The Fish went for the remarkably dry and delicate fizz of Brut Sugrue-Pierre, a new name to me for British wine. The fabulous server was able to tell me that the winemaker learnt his trade at Nyetimber before getting the investment to go it alone in Kent. We then followed that up with something classic and something new. It’s always difficult to pass on a glass of Meursault; it’s even more difficult when it comes from Comtes Lafon and from the 2007 vintage. It was fat and juicy with the honey and nuts you crave in Meursault… I missed it when it was gone! Fish went for the Getariako Txacolina Rezabal from Euskadi in the Spanish Basque region. It exploded with citrus and just a slight spritz, almost glacial in texture and I’m sure would be a great match with shellfish.

For reds I started with the Pleiades XXII by Sean Thackrey in California; made from 14 grape varieties all vinified separately for different lengths of time hence the NV on the label – light, complex and slightly awkward, but very enjoyable, Fish played a bit safer with a highly concentrated and complex Chinon. As a self proclaimed Burgundy nut, the Dujac jumped off the page and when I told this to our brilliant host she pulled a Sonoma Pinot from under the counter from a recent tasting and suggested we compare the two. The Hersch Vineyards 2011 was bright and acidic with loads of energy and a delightful finesse; the Morey St Denis 07 was just pure class with layer upon layer of red fruit, mushroom and earthiness. Absolutely fantastic.

But that wasn’t the end of the line… Not with Chateau d”Yquem smiling up at me from the list. I’ve been lucky enough to get my first taste of Cheval Blanc and DRC this year and I was not going to pass up this chance, especially at £14.50 a glass! We also ordered a Marsala that wasn’t to my taste, but I’m not really a fan of the oxidized style as I discovered at a recent Chenin tasting with Savennieres. But the Yquem was sweet, fresh, concentrated nectar. The balance of sweet fruit and acidity along with a beautifully syrupy but smooth texture was almost too mush for me to take in… I could still taste it at the end of the 30 minutes bus ride back!

Sager & Wilde has the lot. The space is magnificent, the staff are so knowledgeable and passionate and the wines are the best available by the glass in London by a country mile. I am so excited about my next visit.

Matching wine & crisps

Food and wine matching is part science, part personal taste and part lucky dip. The old ideas of white wine with fish and red wine with meat have flown out of the window especially given the number and quality of wines available to us these days. I had fun a couple of months ago working out what to match with KFC – the donner kebab post is in its conception right now!

When we turned up for dinner and an overnight stay with our mates Nic and Rob the other week, the last thing I expected was a blind wine tasting. Rob is a self-confessed crisp geek and often has a smart response to the weekly Wine Geek newsletter. I’ve joked with him about writing a post for the blog but I didn’t expect each of the wines to be accompanied with a matching crisp, also served blind!

The kids have gone to bed!

The kids have gone to bed!

Nic had been on a shopping trip to M&S with a 4 year old hanging off the trolley, to pick up 6 wines and the same number of crisp packets… sounds like fun doesn’t it! All M&S wines have recommended food matches on the label so Nic went for the matches… But in crisp form… Absolute genius!

I need to learn to trust my first instinct a bit more when blind tasting – I had a 50% success rate here and talked myself out of 2 more correct answers. But that wasn’t the important outcome – this was great fun and I suggest you give it a go.

The Crisp Geek swoops

The Crisp Geek swoops

A massive thanks to Nic and Rob for such a fun evening’s entertainment! Below are the wines and crisps we tasted. The scores for the wines are my own, the scores and comments for the crisps are from the Crisp Geek; he uses a scoring system from 1 to 1 million!


Pair 1

Macon and chicken

Macon-Villages Uchizy 2012, Burgundy, Franc £10.99

Very little on the nose here and my first instinct on tasting here was juicy cool climate chardonnay with its citrus and melon fruit flavours, but there was a real lack of acidity, which edged me further south into the Rhone. The finish is simple and short and I plumped for a Marsanne/Rousanne blend. I was a bit disappointed when I discovered it was a Macon as I’m a big fan – but not of this one. 86 points

Pringles Roast Chicken

“Like the classic Pringle, not too much going on, they just do a job. Practical without being exciting”. We all struggled to guess the flavour! 724,117 points

Verdict – a decent match of a wine and crisp that were both decently average.


Pair 2

BBQ and shiraz

Hunter Valley Shiraz 2011, NSW, Australia £9.99

Huge ripe fruit, a hint of smokes and a touch of bacon fat meant this just had  to be a new world Shiraz – the characteristics screamed Australia. A big wine with juicy ripe black, almost blue fruits and a delicious smoky flavor. Really enjoyed this one. 91 points

M&S Hand Cooked Smoky BBQ flavour crisps

“Nice flavor and excellent reproduction of a BBQ flavor. Lacks a bit of crunch, but I prefer a thicker, bolder crisp. Very good though.” 864,998 points

Verdict – match of the night. You can’t go wrong with Shiraz and a BBQ!


Pair 3

SB and fish and chips

Burra Brook Sauvignon Blanc 2011, SE Australia £6.99

Over-ripe peach and hint of tropical fruit on the nose and a slightly awkward, maybe apricot flavor on the palate. This is a very awkward wine with edges all over the place, not one I enjoyed at all. I said Sauvignon to begin with but couldn’t detect the telltale sign of green pepper so opted for a South American Viognier. 82 points

M&S Great British Fish & Chip flavour crisps

“Earthy with a good crispness and a good reproduction of the flavor. The fishy flavour certainly comes though and I love the variety of size and shape of each crisp.’ 827,456 points

Verdict – I disliked both the wine and the crisps! The fish and chip crisps have almost put me off one of my favourite foods!!


Pair 4

Saumur and vwg

Château de Montgueret Saumur Blanc 2011, Loire, France £8.99

After spending a week in the Loire earlier this month I was so way off with this one! Very crisp and fresh with nice citrus fruit and maybe just a touch of grapefruit. I thought maybe something Italian but couldn’t put my finger on it at all. When I discovered it was Chenin Blanc I struggled to find the tell tale honey note and the acidity wasn’t anywhere near that I’ve come to expect from the region. 86 points

M&S hand cooked vegetable crisps

“These have the look and taste appeal of pot-pourri and almost certainly taste the same. They have a dampness and flaccidity and fail on all of the crisp basics. A definite sense of disappointment and shouldn’t be allowed to be called a crisp.” 162 points (Nic picked these as one of the serving suggestins was to enjoy with a salad!)

Verdict – most certainly a combo enjoyed more by the girls than the boys!

Fish and Nic

Pair 5

Pinot and monster

Altos del Condor Pinot Noir 2011, Argentina £8.99

Light, fruity, cherries and red currants – it just has to be new world pinot noir. Not sure there’s enough depth or complexity to be from NZ so I went for Chile – not too far out! Really is a very nice, easy drinking bottle of Pinot Noir and the best value wine of the flight. 89 points

Monster Munch Roast Beef flavour

“Vintage Monster Munch, the king of crisps. You get the lot – flavour, shape, character and a hint of comedy. A thing of real beauty.” 951,346 points

Verdict – by themselves these are both great products, but the Monster Munch were just too strong a flavor for the elegant Pinot Noir.


Pair 6

PG and Prawn cocktail

Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio 2012, Fruili, Italy £8.99

Nice aromas and flavor of citrus and grapefruit, a bit bland to begin with my quite attractive as it opens out. Low acid but very fresh and very drinkable. It had all of the characteristics I expect of Italian Pinot Grigio so I got this one – and a good one too as I’m not general a fan. 88 points

M&S hand cooked Prawn Cocktail crisps

“Solid but unspectacular but a good prawn cocktail presentation. Good for a Wednesday but not quite right for a Saturday.” 805,800 points

Verdict – I think the Crisp Geek hit the nail on the head here – a very good mid-week combo!


The carnage!

The carnage!




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