Monthly Archives: June 2014

#newwinethisweek Week 26 – Rosado, Spain

Mike slipped Cava in at the last minute last week to fit in with his trip to Barca but we make no apologies for staying in Spain and introducing our first rosé of #newwinethisweek… it’s time to get to know Spanish Rosado and let’s hope the sun stays out… and Mike stays in the shade… he’s a ginge you know!

Rosado pic

Rosé is a girly drink right? I must admit I used to be of that persuasion… but I have grown up over the past couple of years and now I love the stuff! Once the sun starts to shine I just can’t enough of it; wines from Provence, Tavel and The Loire top my list but there is some lovely rosé coming out of Italy, Spain, Portugal and the New World (I’ve had some great stuff from Chile recently).

This week on #newwinethisweek our focus is on Spanish rosé, or Rosado as they call it. The wines are usually made with Grenache, one of the famous grapes of Priorat, or Tempranillo, the kingpin of Rioja. Navarra, just north of Rioja, is the home to some of the best Rosado wines of Spain, made primarily with Grenache, although Graciano, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carignan are all permitted in the DO.

Spanish Rosado is usually made in a dry style, but is also bright and fruity. The dryness means it goes well with salty and savoury food but that delicious fruit character also means it can be enjoyed with nothing more than the sun shining on your face. Expect aromas and flavours of fresh red fruits – strawberry, cranberry, red cherry and red currants, and a wonderful vibrant, almost sherbet-like finish.

All that’s left for you to do is to buy a bottle, get it well chilled and enjoy our first rosé of the year… before the rain comes back! Here are a couple of picks from the supermarket shelves and beyond, and don’t forget to give a score and leave a review.

Gran Familia Las Primas Rosado 2013, La Mancha (Tesco £8.99)

Finest Rioja Rosado 2013, Rioja (Tesco £7.99)

Marquesa de la Cruz Garnacha Rosé 2012, Campo de Borja (Waitrose £7.99)

Torres Viña Sol Rosé 2013, Catalunya (Waitrose £6.99)

Marques de Caceres Rioja Rosado 2012, Rioja (Waitrose £8.99)

Raso de la Cruz Rosé 2013, Carineña (M&S £6.99)

La Sabrosita Rosado 2012, Navarra (M&S £7.99)

Ochoa Lagrima Rosé 2012, Navarra (Wine and the Vine £9.25)





The Grape Debate: Riesling

On the back of the highly successful and entertaining Pinot Noir Grape Debate, the West London Wine School followed it up with Riesling for round 2; it’s as if they’ve chosen the grapes for discussion especially for me!

Riesling is the grape loved by winos, though not as much by the wider population. It has suffered from the image created by sub-standard German wine of the 1970s and 1980s, but Riesling really does have so much going for it. It is such a versatile grape, from bone dry to super sweet; it matches up with almost any food; white meat, a wide variety of seafood, and it’s great with spicy food. The grape is also grown in many different parts of the world, revealing lots about its place of origin, its terroir.

The Grape Debate is all about trying to find your favourite expression of these great grape varieties.

The format consists of three of the Wine School’s tutors selecting a region and showing wines across three different price points to represent their constituency. After the opening statements a vote is taken to establish the audience’s preferences before the tasting, followed by 3 rounds of imbibing and a final vote at the end. The winner is the region that receives the greatest “swing” of votes


The opening statements



Quentin Sadler (@quentinsadler) kicked off the proceedings by introducing us to the beautiful region of Alsace in eastern France. Alsatian wines tend to be dry with lots of mouth-watering acidity; Quentin described the wines from this picture-postcard region as giving “a thrill of acidity to your palate and your senses”. The 62km long AOC is very young, only being introduced in 1962, but wine has a long and glorious history in this region, with French and German influences, and a very dry climate producing truly scintillating wines.


Australia & New Zealand


The wine school’s very own Kiwi, Cherie Agnew (@chatsagnew) introduced us to the fresh, balanced and bracing wines from down under. Cherie was surprised at the lack of love for Riesling in the UK when she first arrived, being used to drinking it as “everyday wine” back in NZ. The Rieslings of Australia and NZ are amazingly approachable in style as well as through the simplicity of their labelling and marketing; you know exactly what to expect when you pop a cork or, more often than not, twist a cap. She told us to expect “refreshing, crisp and super-punchy” wines from her selection.




The opening statements concluded with West London Wine’s School’s head honcho Jimmy Smith, kitted out in funky new threads and bins, introducing us to Germany, “the spiritual home of Riesling”. Riesling originated in the Rhine region of Germany and is the most planted variety in the country. The real home of Riesling is found on the beautiful steep, south facing slopes of the Mosel Valley, overlooking the stunning chocolate-box villages below. Jimmy described the wines as weak, but in alcohol not flavour; the Rieslings of Germany are “easy, friendly wines just perfect for the summer”.


The opening vote

Each of the audience was asked to put the regions in their order of preference. 1 point was awarded for first, zero for second, and -1 for third to set the benchmark. My personal selection was 1) Aus/NZ 2) Germany 3) Alsace… and I was certainly in the minority with the combined vote putting Alsace as the region to beat:


So the benchmark was established…. Now onto the wines:


Round 1 – under £12


Domain Trimbach Riesling 2011, Alsace (The Wine Society £10.95)

Enticing aromas of red apples with plenty on mineral and slate and even a hint of something slightly exotic – like a dried liquorice stick. The palate is clean, dry, steely and tense, with flavours of crisp apple, but it’s the minerality that shines through. A bright and fresh wine, very racy but with just a hint of warm alcohol on the finish. 88 points


Von Kesselstatt Piersporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Kabinett 2008, Mosel, Germany (The Wine Society £11.95)

Gorgeous nose of apples and peaches, supported by gentle honey, clean slate and just a light touch of smokiness. The texture is oh so clean, glacial even. The attack is sweet but then calms down and the fruity peach and mango shines through, perfectly balanced with bracing acidity. So fruity and so balanced I could drink this for breakfast (its only 8%). 91 points


Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2013, South Australia (Oddbins £12.25)

Pure and clean citrus fruit with just a touch of honey on the nose; lots of clean slate, very pure and very precise. Crystal clean on the palate with lots of stony minerality on the attack before the citrus starts to come through… but just not enough. The nose is delightful but there are a few fruit notes missing on the palate – needs a Chinese takeaway to show at its best. 87 points


The overall winner of round 1 was Germany, my 1-2-3 was:


Round 2 – £12 to £25


Grosset Springvale Waterville Riesling 2012, Clare Valley, South Australia (The Wine Society £20.00)

Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling is one of my favourite wines, period, so I was looking forward to trying the Springvale. A rich nose with a honeyed touch to compliment the citrus, mandarin and hint of pineapple – I love it. The palate is so clean and pure and the fruit creeps up on you; first comes the lime, then the tropical notes but it’s all underpinned by the tense and racy minerality. The Springvale is classy and elegant, still young but the balance is there and this will age magnificently. 92+ points


Josmeyer Riesling Le Dragon 2011, Alsace, France (The Drink Shop £21.86)

The nose has a combination of citrus fruit and a floral note– jasmine I think – but there is also a slight funkiness that I can’t quite put my finger on, the only thing that springs to mind is fenugreek. The palate is very bland; there is a touch of apple fruit but it’s just far to austere and steely, lacking the acid bite I’m expecting. I have waxed lyrical about Josmeyer wines in the past but this I just don’t get. 85 points


Dönnhoff Kreuznacher Krötenpfuhl Riesling Spatlese 2010, Nahe, Germany (Waitrose Cellar £24.99)

Heady and fruity nose with a touch of sweet and earthy heather honey. The attack is pretty sweet but with super acidity to balance. There is some nice tropical fruit on the palate but it feels a little 1-dimensional and doesn’t have the complexity of the Von Kesselstatt. Very fresh and very delicious but something is missing for a wine of this price (where’s the JJ Prüm Jimmy??) 90 points


The overall winner for round 2 as voted by the audience was Germany, my 1-2-3:



Round 3 – £25 to £50


Keller Brunnenhauschen AbtE Grosses Gewächs 2009, Rheinessen, Germany (Worgan Wines £49.57)

Now the cheapest I can find this wine online is £80, but if Mr Worgan is prepared to let it go for under £50 then I’ll take a case! The nose is delightfully complex with smoke and slate beautifully mingling with apples, limes and passion fruit. The palate is wonderful; very tense and racy with bags of minerality, but with zesty limes to begin with, then ripe peach, then the tropical fruit before it all comes together in a blanket of searing acidity. A wine that keeps on giving and there’s so much more to come! 94+ points


Zind Humbrecht Brand Grand Cru Vielles Vignes Vendage Tardive 2010, Alsace (Uncorked £49.95)

Massive richness and intensity on the nose. Apple, nectarine, passion fruit all come one at a time before melding beautifully together with a touch of marmaladey botrytis. The palate is incredibly luscious and rich with amazing intensity of fruit… but the acidity it super-searing, even for me! Perhaps just needs a bit more time to calm down and get the moon aligned. 93 points


Pegasus Bay Encore Noble Riesling 2012 (The Wine Library £22.49 375ml)

Smells cooked apples and tropical fruits scream out of the glass with a heady note of musky-marmalade, a sure-fire sign of noble rot. The palate has a luscious and luxurious texture and the cornucopia of fruit is sweet and highly concentrated, as well as being beautifully balanced with zinging acidity. I would gladly drink this at any occasion, or simply have it spread on toast for breakfast! 94 points


A thrilling final round with New Zealand coming out on top for the majority – my 1-2-3…


The results

My 1-2-3 at the end of the night was the same as the start although splitting Aus/NZ and Germany was incredibly tough…


But for the majority, even though German won 2 of the rounds it lost a point to Alsace overall, making Alsace the winner on the night with a +1 point swing!




The Grape Debate is one of the most fun formats I have come across for discovering and enjoying great wine; the guys at the West London Wine School put together yet another entertaining event and everyone walked away with a smile on their face and having learnt something new.

Riesling is a truly exceptional grape and tonight we tried some magnificent wines from three different countries, across many regions, made in lots of different styles. Riesling is my go-to grape for most occasions and tonight just reaffirmed my faith and love for this unbelievable grape variety.


If you like the sound of that, why not sign up for the next Grape Debate in September, which will pit the best the Old and the New World has to offer from Syrah/Shiraz… sign up here:






Wine Geek Newsletter #76

76 Header

Hi Winos

Its week 76 and we’re still going strong – tonnes of stuff to talk about this week starting with my latest entry for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. There’s some more bubbly for #newinethisweek, a great offer on the Tesco Finest range and some jokes that went a bit wrong… Cheers and enjoy!

Saved the day

New post

It’s been a few months since I entered the monthly Twitter wine writing challenge but the theme “Values” got me thinking about my own wine principles:


The bubbly stuff has been going down well so far, how will Cava fare in week 25?

Supermarket wine

Tesco are offering an extra 20% off when you buy any 4 wines from the excellent Finest range until 1st July – these all come highly recommended… by me!

Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne NV (£19.99)
Tesco Finest Touraine Sauvignon 2013 (Tesco £7.69)
Tesco Finest Tingleup Riesling 2011 (Tesco £9.99)
Tesco Finest Swartland Chenin Blanc 2011 (£6.99)
Tesco Finest Soave Classico Superiore 2011 (£5.99 was £7.99)
Tesco Finest Pouilly Fume 2011 (£11.99)
Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 (£9.99)
Tesco Finest Vina Mara Rioja Gran Reserva 2007 (Tesco £11.49)
Tesco Finest Crozes Hermitage 2011 (£8.69)
Tesco Finest Gigondas 2012 (£12.99)

No drinking

Wine in the news

Let’s kick off with the fantastic news that Sam Lindo of Camel Valley has been shortlisted for the world’s top sparkling winemaker award:

A report on why women are better tasters than men:

The most expensive vineyards in Burgundy are getting even more expensive:

Don’t stop Hosemaster!

Jamie Goode takes a look at the wines of DeMorgenzon – I love their Reserve Chenin:

And finally, wine tips from the weekend press:

Light relief

Anti-jokes are often funnier than the real thing – what do you think? Actually, scratch that – they sound like the sort of thing Damo would come out with (some of you know exactly who I’m talking about!)

Why did the boy drop his ice cream?
Because he was hit by a bus.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
To who?
To whom.

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

What’s green and has wheels?
Grass, I lied about the wheels.

How do you confuse a blonde?
Paint yourself green and throw forks at her.

Why was six afraid of seven?
It wasn’t. Numbers are not sentient and thus incapable of feeling fear.

A horse walked into a bar. Several people got up and left as they spotted the potential danger in the situation.

There’s an Irishman, a homosexual, and a Jew standing at a bar. What a fine example of an integrated community.

How do you make a plumber cry?
You kill his family.

A duck walks into a bar, the bartender says, “What’ll it be?”.
The duck doesn’t say anything because its a duck.

Your momma’s so fat that she should probably be worried about the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Have you seen Stevie Wonder’s new house?
Well, it’s really nice.

Why was the boy sad?
Because he had a frog stapled to his face.

Why did the chicken commit suicide?
To get to the other side.

Haikus are easy,
But sometimes they don’t make sense.

Roses are grey. Violets are grey. I am a dog.

Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?
Because it was dead.

Need to talk

The boring stuff

Please let me know if you would rather not receive this excellent weekly email and I will take you off the list.
Remember you can register on the site to receive email as soon as new articles are published
If you know someone else who might enjoy the newsletter and blog then please forward this email or drop me a mail with his or her email and I will gladly add to the list
If there is anything you would like me to write about please drop me a mail and I will do my best to oblige

Cheers & enjoy

Wine Geek

#newwinethisweek Week 25 – Cava, Spain

Mike has decided it’s another fizz-tastic week on #newwinethisweek…. It may or may not have something to do with the fact he’s off to Barcelona at the weekend, but whatever the reason, this week we’re going Cava crazy!

I used to think Cava was a cheap imitation of Champagne until I visited Freixenet in Sant Sadurni, a 30 minute train ride from Barcelona. Before the visit I was dismissive of the Spanish fizz, but I came away from the experience with huge respect and a new-found love.

The beautiful entrance to Freixenet in Sant Sadurni

The beautiful entrance to Freixenet in Sant Sadurni

Cava can only be labelled so if it produced in the méthode traditionnelle (Método Tradicional in Spanish), the same process used for making Champagne, where yeast and sugar is added to a base wine, then undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. Xarel.lo, Macabeu and Parellada are the principle grapes used to make Cava, although Subirat, Chardaonnay and Pinot Noir are also allowed, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Monastrell, which can be added to the base wine in the production of rose.


Although Cava is a recognised Denominación de Origen (DO), the DO is actually of collection of wine regions. 95% of the production comes from Penedes in Catalonia, the remainder coming from Aragon, the Basque Country, Castile and León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Navarra, Rioja and Valencia.


As well as being a fabulous tipple, Cava is often great value for money. There is some rubbish on the supermarket shelves no doubt, but spend a tenner and you will really start to appreciate what Cava has to offer. I hope that this week changes a few preconceptions and that many of you find a new respect for this fabulous wine.

I am very excited about a visit to Copa de Cava with Mike next week, the UK’s first dedicated Cava bar showcasing 29 of the most exceptional Cavas from Spain… bring it on! If you can’t make it to Copa de Cava then check out one of these readily available bottles:

Tesco Cava Brut Sparkling NV (Tesco £5.00) I’ve read some very positive reviews!

Freixenet Vintage Especial Cava 2012 (Tesco £7.49)

Waitrose Cava Brut, Castillo Perelada NV (Waitrose £9.39)

M&S Vintage Cava 2010 (M&S £13.99)

The Society’s Cava Reserve Brut (The Wine Society £8.50)

Cava Conde de Haro Brut (The Wine Society £12.50)


All that’s left for you to do is to buy a bottle, get it well chilled and enjoy the bubbles. The voting will take place on Mike’s blog this week so get stuck in and tell us what you think of Cava… how will it match up to Cremant and English Fizz on the #newwinethisweek leaderboard?






My Vinous Values



It has been a few months since I entered the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, now into the 10th edition, so I decided it was time to get back on the horse. This month’s theme, Values, was chosen by the previous month’s winner, The Sybarite (you can read the winning article here), and here is my effort…


My Vinous Values


There are so many different ways to interpret the subject of values in the world of wine; should I write about the virtues of natural wine-making, the mysteries of biodynamics or organic viticulture? Or how about treating values as points… now there’s a discussion that always creates much debate in vinous circles. After much consideration I thought I would use this an opportunity to explore my own personal wine values; a chance to create my own list of principles.


1. Never stop learning

Wine is one of the most fun and interesting subjects anywhere on this planet. The more you learn the less you realise you actually know. Learning something new in the wine world is like opening a door to a room you never knew existed. It could be a new grape discovery or a new region but the more you explore the more you come to realise the wine world is like a set of a thousand Russian dolls… and you will never get to the centre of any of them… but it won’t stop me from trying!


2. Step outside my comfort zone 

Earlier this year myself and Mike from started up a project called #newwinethisweek. The whole idea is to get people trying stuff they usually wouldn’t go for…including ourselves. I’m no fan of Gewürztraminer or Fino, but do you know what, a least I’ve tried them again. Without this project I probably wouldn’t have discovered a love for red wines from the Lebanon or dry Hungarian whites made with Furmint. I want to continue trying new things and not just settle for what I know. This value ladders back to #1 the only way to keep learning is to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone.


3. Don’t be a snob

Just because it’s expensive doesn’t necessarily make it good… It pays to try everything. Heck, I even bought a bottle each of Blue Nun, Mateus Rose and Piat d’Or just to write an article for this very competition a few months back! At least now I KNOW I don’t like Blue Nun or Mateus Rose (Piat d’Or was surprisingly drinkable)! I try to write about wines at all levels and include recommendations from the UK supermarkets every week in my newsletter; just because I love wine so much and I’m prepared to spend my money it, I don’t expect everyone else to feel the same. A new rule for this year has been if someone brings a bottle into the house, it gets opened. Gone are the days when I decide I’ve got something that ”goes better with duck” or “we should give that another couple of years”… that’s what wine dickheads do… I don’t want to be one of them.

(Important note: every rule has its exception; if you bring a bottle of Dino wine that you bought for half price at Tesco, neither you nor the bottle will make it through the front door!)


4. Say what I see/smell/taste/think

I’ve been to many a tasting where I’ve disagreed with the presenter or disagreed with another member of the group. But the truth is I’ve usually disagreed in my head and been afraid to speak up. Why? For fear of being wrong perhaps? The truth of the matter there are no right and wrong answers in wine! How do you know what a ripe red cherry tastes like to me? I doubt very much that we bought our cherries from the same place at the same time of year and ate them in the same place. It’s OK to have a difference of opinion; in fact I love wine because it creates a debate. I may not agree with you but I respect your opinion… please respect mine too!


5. Do it because I love it

We’ve all read the posts about writer’s block, lack of inspiration etc. etc. If you hear that from me… shoot me! I love drinking wine, I love thinking about wine, I love talking about wine, I love writing about wine. When that love ends (please don’t let it happen) you’ll know because I’ll stop doing this… I won’t tell you about it, I won’t ask you to tell me to keep going… I’ll just go and write about something else. Actually, that it is ridiculous, how can I get bored of something that is so never ending. (See point #1!)


So there you have it; my wine values. Nothing about grapes, regions, winemaking or terroir, just my heart on my sleeve. These are my wine values. I can think of worse codes to live by.


Wine Geek Newsletter #75


Hi Winos

Some of you seem to be a bit wrapped up in the World Cup thing that’s going on; being Welsh has made me immune to the whole thing (1958 is the only time Wales got to the finals) but luckily there is lots of wine to be drunk and plenty to be written about!

PS. I’m only joking you prickly lot… it’s half an hour ’till kick-off and I’ve got a bottle of Sharpham English red on the go!

ImageNew post

On a sunny Sunday in London I can’t think of anything worse to do than go to a car boot sale… but this wasn’t any car boot, this was WINE CAR BOOT!



We’re being a bit more challenging this week after last week’s Pinot love-in… forget what you think you know about Greek wine and get stuck into Assyrtiko:​

Supermarket wine

It’s a quiet week on the supermarket shelves so here’s the best of a not so great bunch:

Tesco Finest Muscadet 2012, Loire, France (Tesco £6.49 was £7.69)

Tesco Finest Fiano 2012, Campania, Italy (Tesco £5.99 was £7.99)

Piccini Chianti Classico 2009, Tuscany, Italy (Tesco £5.99 was £8.99)

Tesco Finest Cotes Catalanes Grenache 2012, Languedoc, France (Tesco £5.99 was £7.49)

Taste The Difference Greco Di Tufo, 2011, Campania, Italy (Sainsbury’s £8.00 was £9.00)

Taste the Difference Barbaresco 2011, Piedmont, Italy (Sainsbury’s £7.50 was £10.00)

Extra Special Cotes du Rhone Villages 2012, Rhone, France (Asda £5.00 was £6.75)

Extra Special Falanghina 2012, Puglia, Italy (Asda £5.50 was £7.00)

Piccini Winemaker’s Choice Chianti Riserva 2008, Tuscany, Italy (Morrison’s £5.99 was £8.99)

Baron De Ley Rioja Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja, Spain (Morrison’s £10.99 was £12.99)

Xanadu Chardonnay 2008, Margaret River, Australia (Morrison’s £15.99 was £17.49)


Wine in the news

Majestic’s growth is slowing and they may bring in an own label… don’t do it!!

Jancis takes a look at the true cost of the wine in your bottle at different price points. Scary.

Katherine Larsen is named UK Sommelier of the year

The Hosemaster ruffles a few more feathers!

Tom Cannavan meets Steve Smith of Craggy range:

Light relief

The Golfing Nun


A nun walks into Mother Superior’s office and plunks down into a chair.
She lets out a sigh, heavy with frustration.

‘What troubles you, Sister?’ asked the Mother Superior.
‘I thought this was the day you spent with your family.’

‘It was,’ sighed the Sister. ‘And I went to play golf with my brother. We try to play golf as often as we can. You know I was quite a talented golfer before I devoted my life to Christ.’

‘I seem to recall that,’ the Mother Superior agreed.
‘So I take it your day of recreation was not relaxing?’

‘Far from it,’ snorted the Sister. ‘In fact, I even took the Lord’s name in vain today!’

‘Goodness, Sister!’ gasped the Mother Superior, astonished. ‘You must tell me all about it!’

‘Well, we were on the fifth tee…and this hole is a monster, Mother. A 540-yard, Par 5, with a nasty dogleg to the right and a hidden green… I hit the drive of my life. I creamed it. The sweetest swing I ever made. And it’s flying straight and true, right along the line I wanted… but it hits a bird in mid-flight !’

‘Oh my!’ commiserated the Mother. ‘How unfortunate! But surely that didn’t make you blaspheme, Sister!’

‘No, that wasn’t it,’ admitted Sister.
‘While I was still trying to fathom what had happened, this squirrel runs out of the woods, grabs my ball and runs off down the fairway!’

‘Oh, that would have made me blaspheme!’ sympathized the Mother.

‘But I didn’t, Mother!’ sobbed the Sister. ‘And I was so proud of myself!And while I was pondering whether this was a sign from God, this hawk swoops out of the sky and grabs the squirrel and flies off, with my ball still clutched in his paws!’

‘So that’s when you cursed,’ said the Mother with a knowing smile.

‘No, that wasn’t it either,’ cried the Sister, anguished, ‘because as the hawk started to fly out of sight, the squirrel started struggling, and the hawk dropped him right there on the green, and the ball popped out of his paws and rolled to about 18 inches from the cup!’

Mother Superior sat back in her chair, folded her arms across her chest, fixed the Sister with a baleful stare and said…
‘You missed the fucking putt, didn’t you?’

The boring stuff

Please let me know if you would rather not receive this excellent weekly email and I will take you off the list.
Remember you can register on the site to receive email as soon as new articles are published
If you know someone else who might enjoy the newsletter and blog then please forward this email or drop me a mail with his or her email and I will gladly add to the list
If there is anything you would like me to write about please drop me a mail and I will do my best to oblige

Cheers & enjoy

Wine Geek



#newwinethisweek Week 24 – Assyrtiko, Greece


Greek wine has suffered over the years and is often described as a holiday wine that doesn’t travel tastes dreadful at home. If you’ve been stung by the harsh pine-resin of Retsina (although I did taste a very good modern version recently!) or you think all Greece has to offer is Ouzo or Metaxa, then think again.

In recent times the quality of Greek wine has improved in giant steps. Although the country is starting to plant many of the international grape varieties (check out the Chardonnay and Viognier from Domaine Gerovassiliou), there are a few homegrown superstars worth checking out. One of them is Assyrtiko, this week’s #newwinethisweek.

Assyrtiko is a white grape that is indigenous to the island of Santorini but is also planted in many other Greek wine-growing regions. It is usually planted on arid volcanic-ash-rich soil and some of the vines are over 70 years of age. In the past Assyrtiko was often used as a blending grape (it is often found in Retsina) but it takes centre stage far more often these days.

Assyrtiko wines are usually bone dry with good citrus fruit, high acidity and a mineral edge; some wine writers have likened the flavour to Riesling. I’ve had a couple of thee wines in the past 12 months and have been pleasantly surprised but I’m looking forward to paying a lot more attention this week.

These Greek wines are becoming much more widely available in the UK these days so get yourself a bottle and explore what Greece has to offer the wine world:

Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini (Waitrose £11.99)

Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini (The Wine Society £10.50)

Atlantis Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini (M&S £10.49)

Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko 2012, Santorini (Wine and the Vine £17.85)


And don’t forget to tell us what you think!

Wine Car Boot… simply a brilliant day out

I’m not one for over-doing superlatives but I went to one of the best events I can remember for some time this weekend. For various reasons I was unable to attend either of the first two Wine Car Boot events; but one thing is sure, I will not be missing any more!


Seventeen London wine merchants came together behind Kings Cross station on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, each of them choosing six wines to sample to the expectant masses. Some of the merchants I know well, others I had never heard of but will be sure to look up again, but the one thing they all had in common was great wine, huge enthusiasm and the spirit of fun that is often missing in the wine trade.


Wine Car Boot is a festival that celebrates wine that makes wine fun, and brings together wine lovers, wine geeks and winos! When I spoke to organiser Ruth Spivey (@legslonglength), she said that they had pre-sold around 500 tickets for the event and there were plenty of walk-ups on the day. In fact the crowd seemed to come from all over the place… I met up with the #WineSwap guys who came down from the Midlands for the day! The whole event was buzzing; happy faces lapped up old favourites and new finds, the street-food vendors provided food for any persuasion and the saxophonists got the feet tapping… and led to a few disco moves later in the day!

The #wineswap guys get comfortable!

The #wineswap guys get comfortable!

For £10 you got entry into the event, a Govino outdoor tasting glass, a 6-bottle wine carrier and, most importantly, your first 5 tasting vouchers. Every wine advertised was available as a very generous pour (mostly – but I had such a good time I’m not naming & shaming!) in exchange for a voucher or could be bought by the glass or the bottle. Run out of vouchers? No problem, plenty available for a very generous £1 a go… now you can see why everyone was had such a good time!

I can’t wait for the next one… If I have plans I’ll be changing them, as I’d hate to miss another one!

Of the 20 or so wines I sampled (it got a bit fuzzy at the end!), these are 11 wines that stood out with a 7-word wine review for each (all prices are per bottle and each is a link to the wine on the merchant’s website):

Donienne Sparkling Txacoli Brut Nature (The Sampler £20.25)

Super dry… just wait for the fruit!

Campo Largo Rosé Pinot Noir NV, Bairrada, Portugal (Vin Vixen £20.00)

Serious and delicate Pinot fizz from Portugal

LA Cetto Sparkling Chardonnay NV, Baja California, Mexico (Albion Wine Shippers £8.50)

Taste of the sea in a glass!

Torzi Matthews Frost Dodger Riesling 2013, Eden Valley, Australia (Berry Brothers & Rudd £19.95)

Dry, citrus & mineral – textbook Aussie Riesling

Muros Antigos Alvarinho 2013, Vinho Verde, Portugal (Bottle Apostle £15.30)

Complex with pear and citrus; refreshingly long

Kooyong Beurrot Pinot Gris 2012, Mornington Peninsula (Bottle Apostle £22.05)

The smell of Frazzles, tastes so fresh

Erwin Poller “Vom Loess” 2013, Austria (Newcomer Wines £14.90)

The label is made from vineyard soil!

Lioco Chardonnay 2012, Sonoma County, California (Roberson £17.95)

Delightful combination of fruit and savoury elegance

Tetramythol Retsina 2013, Peloponnesus, Greece (Vinoteca £11.00)

Retsina that is actually very drinkable… honest!

Valenciso Rioja Reserva 2007, Rioja, Spain (Highbury Vintners £20.00)

Ageing beautifully, balance of fruit and oak

Domaine Jean Royer Le Petit Roy 12eme Annee, Rhone, France (Lea & Sandeman £13.75)

Smooth and sexy value from the Rhone

A great day out!

A brilliant day out!



Wine Geek Newsletter #74


Hi Winos!

Aldi picked up the Supermarket of the year gong at The Grocer award ceremony this week so it appears I picked the right time to publish a new article on their small but beautifully formed wine selection. This week’s pick for #newwinethisweek should be a popular one after a few weeks of experimentation and there are have been some very interesting and controversial articles on thw wires this week. Sadly we said goodbye to Rik Mayall this week so this week’s “light relief” section is all about the great funny man… Cheers.

New post

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to Aldi I go… and I like what I found!



No excuses for not getting involved this week… its Kiwi Pinot Noir all round!


Supermarket wine

Read the Aldi article! If you can’t be bothered here’s what I wrote about the five I liked the most:

Aldi Exquisite Collection Riesling 2013, Clare Valley, Australia (£6.99)

Lemon, crisp apple and a dash of tangerine on the very inviting nose. Bone dry with citrus citrus fruit, more lime on the palate along with that tangerine pith note and a cooling clean slate minerality. It’s got most things you want from Clare – not great on length and could do with a squizz more acidity but a bargain at £6.99. 88 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Gavi 2013, Piedmont, Italy (£5.29)

Aromas of pear, citrus and white blossom and just a hint of verbena (really!). Nice texture and breezy acidity with lots of fruit and the underlying floral and herbal notes. Lovely with a creamy pasta dish. 87 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Albariño 2013, Rias Baixas, Spain (£5.99)

Peach, grapefruit, hint of mandarin even. Lovely richness and zippy lemon sherbet acidity and pear with a wonderful salty finish… Where are those oysters? Maybe just a little short on the finish, but come on! 88 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Shiraz, South Eastern Australia (£5.99)

I usually avoid anything with South-Eastern Australia as a catch-all on the label… but I’m glad I gave this one a go! Deep dark plum fruit and a wonderful milk chocolate hit on the nose with just a hint if smoky spice. Fresh acidity on the attack with dark cherry fruit dipped in chocolate sauce and even a rasp (sorry) of raspberry. Nice grip and a pleasantly long and peppery finish. Geez this is very good. 91 points


Aldi Exquisite Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Clare Valley, Australia (£6.99)

Possibly my best value wine of 2013, how’s it shaping up? Lovely and pure black currant aromas with just a hint of cassis liqueur, a touch if cedar and a breath of fresh eucalyptus. On the palate the black currants explode on the tongue and there is a shot if coffee richness before the fresh eucalyptus shows itself on the long and deliciously complex finish. This is an excellent wine and I can’t think of anything better under £7. 92 ppoints


Aldi Exquisite Collection Fleurie 2013, Beaujolais (£6.49)

Massive aromas of super-ripe cherries with the freshness of raspberry and just a touch of minerality… so far so good. Good body and nice texture with crunchy fruit and some chewy tannin; the fruit is bright and fresh with just a hint of earth and brininess. Very good Cru Beaujolais. 87 points


Wine in the news

The wine trade can be so far up it’s own ar*e at times; this article is absolutely hilarious and caused uproar on Twitter with quite a few people making themselves look very silly and upholding this common belief:

Ever thought about becoming a Master of Wine? Check out this year’s examination papers and think have another think!

The Standard published the 7 best things for wine lovers in London…

Apparently women are better wine tasters than men (apologies for promoting The Daily Mail!):

Have you read a wine review and though “what the f***?” Well here is a very interesting article on 10 of the weirdest tastes found in wine… I’ve used 9 of these in my own tasting notes (not wet wool because I have no idea what it tastes or smells like!):

This week’s image is from the brilliant linking nicely back to the first news story!



Light relief

Its been a sad week for British comedy with the Death of Rik Mayall on Monday… so here are some of his best lines from The Young Ones, Bottom, Blackadder and The New Statesman. Just try and keep a straight face!

The Young Ones


Rick (Ode to Cliff Richard): Oh Cliff / Sometimes it must be difficult not to feel as if / You really are a cliff / when fascists keep trying to push you over it! / Are they the lemmings / Or are you, Cliff? / Or are you, Cliff?

Neil: Wow… that was really pretty bad, Rick

Rick: Bad for society when the kids start to get into it!


Rick: I’m going to write to my MP!

Neil: But you haven’t got an MP, Rick, you’re an anarchist.

Rick: Oh right. Then I shall write to the lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen.


Rick (to Madness who are performing in the pub): Do you lot know Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard?

Suggs: You hum it… I’ll smash your face in.

Rick: I’ll go sit over there.


Rick: God, I’m bored. Might as well be listening to Genesis.


Rick: What are you doing, Vyvyan?

Vyvyan: I’m entering a contest to win a Ford Tippex. You have to say what Cornflakes mean to you in 10 words. So I said: Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes. Cornflakes.

Rick: Pathetic! You’ll never win, Vyvyan.

Vyvyan: Why not?

Rick: It’s only nine words.




Richie: What about pin the tail on the donkey?

Eddie: We haven’t got a donkey.

Richie: Well, pin the tail on the chicken.

Eddie: We haven’t got a tail.

Richie: Oh. Well, pin the sausage on the chicken?

Eddie: We haven’t got a chicken.

Richie: Well, pin the sausage on the fridge.

Eddie: Or a pin.

Richie: Sellotape a sausage to the fridge!

Eddie: We haven’t got a sausage!

Richie: Put a bit of sellotape on the fridge!

Eddie: It’s not much of a game, is it?


Eddie: Why are you putting mayonnaise on your face?

Richie: It’s not mayonnaise, it’s sun tan lotion.

Eddie (examining bottle): Never heard of low calorie sun tan lotion.

Richie: What? Oh no, blast! Oh God! Oh! Argh-rrgh! Phuh! Well where’s the sun tan lotion then?

Eddie: You squirted that into your cheese roll.

Richie: But I ate that!

Eddie: Yeah, I know.

Richie: Well why didn’t you tell me?

Eddie: Because I don’t like you very much.


Richie: “Eddie, have you strained your vegetables?”

Eddie: “No it’s just these hired trousers are a bit tight!”




Flashheart: It’s me, Flash! Flash by name, Flash by nature. Hurrah!

Blackadder: Where have you been?

Flashheart: Where haven’t I been! Woof!


To Baldrick (dressed as a bridesmaid): Thanks, bridesmaid. Like the beard. Gives me something to hang on to!


To Lord Melchett: Hey Melchie! Still worshipping God? Last thing I heard He started worshipping ME…


To Nursie: Ah Nursie, I like it firm and fruity. Am I pleased to see you or did I just put a canoe in my pocket?


Flashheart: Hi, Flashheart here. Yeah, cancel the state funeral, tell the King to stop blubbing. Flash is not dead. I simply ran out of juice! Yeah, and before all the girls start saying “Oh, what’s the point of living anymore”, I’m talking about petrol! Woof, woof!


Flashheart: Enter the man who has no underwear. Ask me why.

Others: Why do you have no underwear, Lord Flash?

Flashheart: Because the pants haven’t been built yet that’ll take the job on.


Flashheart: Just because I can give multiple orgasms to the furniture just by sitting on it, doesn’t mean that I’m not sick of this damn war: The blood, the noise, the endless poetry.


The New Statesman AKA Alan B’Stard


I suppose life’s just too easy for me. I mean, I’m incredibly rich, I’ve got the largest majority on the House of Commons and, if I was any better looking, I think people would suspect I was an android.


We hear an awful lot of leftie whingeing about NHS waiting lists. Well the answer’s simple. Shut down the health service. Result? No more waiting lists. You see, in the good old days, you were poor, you got ill and you died. And yet these days people seem to think they’ve got some sort of God-given right to be cured. And what is the result of this sloppy socialist thinking? More poor people. In contrast, my policies would eradicate poor people, thereby eliminating poverty. And they say that we Conservatives have no heart.


Who in this country was not moved when that great Englishman, Gazza, wept bitter tears at the World Cup last year? People thought that he was crying because he had been booked by the umpire and so would miss the final. But that was not the reason. He was crying at the thought that the Conservative government, the only government this young hero had ever known, was behind in the opinion polls.


Why should we, the country that produced Shakespeare, Christopher Wren – and those are just the people on our banknotes for Christ’s sake – cower down to the countries that produced Hitler, Napoleon, the Mafia, and the… the… The Smurfs!


You know the really great thing about a fudged coalition is that neither of us need to carry out a single promise of our election manifestos.


The boring stuff

Please let me know if you would rather not receive this excellent weekly email and I will take you off the list.

Remember you can register on the site to receive email as soon as new articles are published

If you know someone else who might enjoy the newsletter and blog then please forward this email or drop me a mail with his or her email and I will gladly add to the list

If there is anything you would like me to write about please drop me a mail and I will do my best to oblige


Cheers & enjoy

Wine Geek




#newwinethisweek Week 23 – Pinot Noir, New Zealand


We’ve enjoyed an interesting few weeks on #newwinethisweek with some esoteric choices (dry Furmint), some expensive (English Fizz) and some polarising (Fino)… so we’ve decided to go for a real crowd pleaser this week. There’s plenty of quality and choice as we say hello to Pinot Noir from New Zealand.


NZ has been making Pinot for a while, winning a gold medal in the Wine Olympics as far back as 1881, but it wasn’t until the 1986 vintage of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that New Zealand made a massive jump into the top tier of wine producing countries. NZ Sauvignon Blanc is certainly still the darling of the UK supermarkets (Tesco stock 14 alone!) but there is so much more to Kiwi wine than tropical fruit and gooseberries. Pinot Noir is second only to Sauvignon Blanc in production volume (9% of production), with over 5,000ha of land under the Pinot vine; 47% in Marlborough, 26% in Central Otago and 9% in Wairarapa.


I love Pinot Noir from all over the world, but what I particularly love about NZ Pinot is the vibrancy of the fruit and the freshness on the palate. Actually, this generalisation does an injustice to these fabulous wines; as the vines have got older so the wines have become more complex and the different regions are beginning to produce styles with a real sense of place. Central Otago, on the South Island, was perhaps the first region to gain global recognition for its Pinots but there are now world class wines coming out of Marlborough, Wairarapa (including Martinborough), Nelson and Hawke’s Bay.

Pinot Noir is a real diva, it is difficult to grow which usually means high prices… but you certainly get your reward, especially with the consistently high quality of NZ Pinot. Because I love the stuff I think I might push the boat out this week and buy a bottle from one of my favourite producers… I feel a high score coming from my direction!


Felton Road Banockburn Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago (Roberson £41.00)

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir 2011, Martinborough (Majestic £23.00, £18.00 when you buy 2)

Surveyor Thomson Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007, Central Otago (Swig £28.50)

Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir 2012, Waipara (Lay & Wheeler £22.26)

TMPN Bottle Shot

But don’t worry, there is plenty of good stuff available for much less cash in the places you do your shopping!

Tesco Finest Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough (Tesco £9.99)

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2012, Martinborough (Waitrose £11.24 was £14.99)

M&S Nelson Pinot Noir 2012, Nelson (M&S £9.99)

Aldi Exquisite Pinot Noir 2013, Waipara (Aldi £6.99)

Kumeu River Village Pinot Noir 2011, Kumeu (The Wine Society £9.50)


You know the drill by now; buy a bottle, pour yourself a glass and tell us what you think – I have a feeling New Zealand Pinot Noir is going to find its home near the top of the #newwinethisweek leaderboard




%d bloggers like this: