Monthly Archives: July 2014

#newwinethisweek Week 30 – Vinho Verde, Portugal

I know it often seems like we just make this stuff up and we’re doing a half decent job of winging it, but believe it or not we do work to a (very rough) plan!

Its my wedding anniversary this week; 8 years ago me and The Fish got married in the beautiful Algarve region of Portugal. I love the Portuguese people and the stunningly fresh seafood but more than anything I love their wine. This week’s #newwinethisweek is one of the most under-rated wines out there; say hello to the fabulous white wines of Vinho Verde.

Vinho Verde is actually a designated wine region located in the northwest of Portugal in an area traditionally known as Entre-Douro-e-Minho. The literal translation of Vinho Verde is green wine, but the accurate translation is “young wine”. Historically the wines were designed to be consumed young, usually within a year of bottling, but recent improvements in technique and technology has led to more complex and age-worthy examples coming into the market. Wines from the region can be red, white or rosé but it is famous for white wines and that is our focus for this week.

The grapes used to make these wines are local grape varieties including Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal. These days many of the more serious wines from the region are made using Alvarinho, which is exactly the same grape as Albarinho, the more famous name from over the border in Spain.

Most Vinhos Verdes are light and fresh and often have a spritz of bubbles. The wines have marked acidity with lots of fruity and floral aromas and flavours and are just the ticket for a summer’s afternoon in the garden.

I think this one will take a lot of people by surprise and make it’s way into your summer repertoires… please enjoy and celebrate our anniversary with us!


Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2013 (Waitrose £8.29)

Tercius Alvarinho 2012 (M&S £11.99)

Brisa do Mar Vinho Verde 2013 (Wine & the Vine £8.55)

Raguengo de Melgaco Alvarinho Minho 2012 (Wine & the Vine £16.85)

Anselmo Mendes Muros Antigos Loureiro 2013 (The Wine Society £8.75)


So get yourself a bottle, cast your vote and leave your comments… Cheers & enjoy!







Burgundy 2009 five years on

The cry of “vintage of the decade”, even “vintage of the century” isn’t uncommon in the world of wine; already in the 21st century these plaudits have been heaped on 2005, 2009 and 2010. There has been a lot of recent discussion about the usefulness of vintage charts – how much does a score out of 10,20 or 100 for the tell you about what’s in your glass? After all, what it more important; the quality of the vintage or the quality of the winemaker?

Vintage chartI am a total geek when it comes to numbers and statistics so I do like to have a look. In fact, I like to commit the scores to memory! I’m forever on the lookout for Southern Rhones from 2007 and Northern Rhones from 2010, but also I love red Burgundy from 2011, which often score as low as 5 or 6 out of 10. I can’t give an answer, even a consistent point of view on the usefulness of vintage charts, but what I can do is take advantage of opportunities when they come my way to have a taste or two from these exalted vintages.


West London Wine School recently put on a tasting of 2009 Burgundy. I love Burgundy and the wine industry went mad for 2009; sounded like a winner to me! Most wine commentators believe that 2009 was a better vintage for reds than white with a large crop of Pinot Noir, which was able to ripen fully during a long, warm summer, delivered a vintage that offered both quantity and quality. The wines are described as attractive, graceful and harmonious… lets have a taste.


The tasting was originally designed as a red wine event but Jimmy decided to throw in a couple of whites and what a decision that proved to be:

Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots Grand Cru, Chablis 2007 (Slurp £49.95)

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed this is from 2007 – unfortunately the 09 was corked so Jimmy rescued the situation with the 07. It didn’t give away much on the nose immediately, but after Jimmy’s 30 minutes intro (!!) there was plenty of ripe almost tropical fruit with a toastyness and notes of almonds and bruised apple – quite new world I thought. The palate was bracing and tense with good acidity, lots of tart apple and citrus fruit with a hint of nut and a very clean, mineral finish. The nose and the palate were like two totally different wines but overall very racy and still ever so fresh 7b years on. 92 points


Mischief & Mayhem 1er Cru Sous les Puits, Puligny-Montrachet 2009 (Chelsea Vintners £58.00)

What a powerful nose! Toast and delicious nutty butter combine beautifully with ripe peaches, crisp apples and just a hint of juicy tropical fruit; this is a wine that screams DRINK ME! Rich peachy fruit and delicious acidity opens the door to a truly wonderful palate. It is so fresh with lots of soft ripe fruit and nutty undertones, with a delicate and considerable finish. The nose suggest its going to beat you around the head but there is wonderful, precise balance at play here; beautifully made – ready to drink but will continue to improve over the next few years. 95 points


Now it was time for the reds and we started with three wines from some less talked about AOCs:


Jean-Jaques Girard 1er Cru Les Fishots, Pernard Vergelesses 2009 (Waitrose Cellar £19.99)

Bright and fresh aromas of red berries and currant pave the way for some darker cherry notes and just a touch of exotic, sweet spice. On the palate the fruit is bright and breezy but then there is hole in the middle with not enough acidity to bring it all together (a donut wine as Frankie C would say!). The balance just isn’t there and a slightly warm finish leaves me, well cold. 86 points


Jean-Marc & Anne-MarieVincent 1er Cru Passetemps, Santenay 2009 (The Wine Society £24.00)

A lovely combination of red and black fruit invites you in with bright raspberry and luscious plums. The fruit is nicely supported with a touch of spice and a hint of forest floor you get from good Burgundy after a few years in bottle. On the palate the fruit has a creaminess that covers the mouth with a luxurious and silky texture. The acid is bright and there is a whole punnet of summer fruit and a lovely touch of sour cherries. Deliciously drinkable right now with good concentration and fine elegance. Very good value for money (for Burgundy anyway!) 92 points


Louis Jadot 1er Cru Vergelesses, Savigny-le-Beaune 2009 (The Wine Society £24.00)

Not the most generous wine on the nose but when you do it there are pretty red fruit notes with a dash of smoky spice, even a touch of roasted meat. This is quite an austere wine with lots of minerality, some nice red fruit, a good acidic kick… but not much else if truth be told. I have always struggled a little with wines from Savigny and this wine hasn’t done too much to change that thinking. Fair but doesn’t excite. 88 points


The next two wines came from the excellent Domaine de Bellene, which was created in 2005 by Nicolas Potel:


Domaine de Bellene Vieilles Vignes, Nuits St Georges 2009 (The Wine Society £29.00)

You can tell we’ve move to the Cote de Nuits as the fruit is darker with aromas of black cherry and ripe black plums. I also detect a delicious gaminess and some baking spices giving the nose a delicious complexity. The wine has a delicious freshness on the attack with good acidity and bright red fruit making way for the darker fruit and warm spicy notes. This wine is still a baby but all of the pieces are falling nicely into place; the tannins are a touch aggressive but will mellow with a few more years of patience. Brilliant quality for a village wine. 93 points


Domaine de Bellene 1er Cru Terons, Beaune 2009 (The Wine Society £32.00)

The nose opens up with beautiful notes of fragrant wild strawberries and red currants. There is some quality oak at play here too with some smoky notes as well as touches of clove and cinnamon, and just a hint of earthy forest floor development. Wonderful acidity clears the way for the soft fruit and smoky undertones; the texture is silky-smooth and the secondary notes of the wild are starting to poke through. This is a beautifully made wine that is drinking well but I feel another year or two will round it off even further. 92+ points


The final two wines are both only classified as village wines but some with 1er Cru prices for a reason…


Domaine Maume en Pallud, Gevrey Chambertin 2009 (The Wine Society £42.00)

If you like your Burgundy with personality and confidence then give Domaine Maume a try – they are never backward in coming forward! The aromas here have real grunt – ripe plums and cherries and even a touch of kirsch coming through. It is spicy, meaty and just full-on funky! Huge concentration on the palate with concentrated fruit and a luscious lick of acidity… in fact it’s a full on snog! The secondary earthy and gamy are starting to come forward and there really is a lot going on. Fruit, smoke and spice, all in wonderful harmony, enveloped in a silky texture. Get in there. 94 points


Domaine Dujac, Morey-Saint-Denis 2009 (The Wine Society £55.00)

I love Dujac wines and have had this one a couple of time before but there is something unfamiliar about the nose this evening. There is a gaminess, smokiness and spice but I’m struggling to find the usual luscious fruit. The fruit makes an appearance on the palate but what you really take away are the aggressive tannins – don’t worry there is plenty of acid to bring it all together but I would keep this locked away for a while yet. All of the pieces of the puzzle are present but this is more a wine for 10+ than 5+. 93+ points

Almost done!

Almost done!

A really enjoyable tasting that demonstrated some of the quality available from the 2009 vintage. The wines from the bigger names are still to come out of their slumber but there is a lot to like about these elegant and complex wines; it looks like the critics may have got this one right… just don’t ignore the whites!


Wines of the night

Wines of the night


Click this link for details of more upcoming tasting event at West London Wine School






Wine Geek newsletter #80

80 header

Hi Winos!

You’d better make the most of this week’s edition because there won’t be one next week (gasp)! Don’t worry its not for ever, it’s just that I’ll be on a plane to Vegas! How Vegas pans out will determine the quality of wine I’ll be drinking on the following 10 days in California… Au Bon Climat: booked; Kistler: booked; Ridge: booked. There will be plenty of inspiration for a good many posts over the next few weeks.

So enough about the future, let’s get back to the now… happy reading and don’t forget to drink well this weekend!


New post

This is my only non-wine related post of the year… instead let’s talk sausages and beer… Bangers & Smashed 2014 was a blast!



We’re back to France this week for some fragrant red action… ever tried Caberbnet Franc from the Loire? It’s great chilled for the summer:

Supermarket wine

As there won’t be a newsletter next week and it is highly unlikely I’ll find a Tesco or Waitrose in California, I’ve included lots of recommendations from all of the major retailers this week.


As well as a load of bullshit promotions (Ogio or Hardy’s Crest at half price anyone? Didn’t think so!), Tesco actually have a few decent deals running until August 12th:

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Tesco £25.99 was £32.99)

Heidsieck Dry Monopole NV Champagne (Tesco £17.99 was £26.99)

Codorniu Vintage Cava 2010 (Tesco £7.66 was £11.49)

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier, South Australia (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)

Finest Vina Mara Rioja Reserva 2008 (Tesco £8.49 was £9.49)

Villa Maria Private Bin Chardonnay 2012, Marlborough (£7.49 was £10.49)


If Sainsbury’s is more your style, why not give a few of these a bash?

Taste the Difference Vintage Cava (Sainsbury’s £7.50 was £9.50)

Ascheri Gavi Di Gavi 2012, Piedmont (Sainsbury’s £12.00 was £14.00)

Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough (Sainsbury’s £8.25 was £11.00)

Taste the Difference Ribera Del Duero 2011 (Sainsbury’s £7.00 was £9.00)


How about Morrisons? They’ve got a great deal on English fizz… but not much else:

Chapel Down Brut Vintage Reserve, Kent (Morrisons £16.49 was £21.99)

Yalumba Viogner 2012, South Australia (Morrisons £6.99 was £9.99)


I’ve even got some Asda deals for you this week (don’t worry, I didn’t go inside, I just looked on their website):

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2012 (Asda £7.48 was £9.48)

Matua Pinot Noir 2012, Marlborough (Asda £7.98 was £10.98)

Extra Special El Meson Rioja Gran Reserva 2008 (Asda £9.00 was £13.00)

Cave de Lugny Macon Villages 2012, Burgundy (Asda £6.00 was £7.35)

Asda Lugana 2012, Veneto (Asda £7.00 was £8.00)


And plenty from Waitrose – if you’re going to buy wine at the supermarket you really should shop here, darling:

Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne (Waitrose £10.49 was £13.99)

Les Andides Saumur Blanc 2011, Loire (Waitrose £6.99 was £8.99)

Triade Fiano/Falanghina/Greco Della 2012, Campania (Waitrose £6.74 was £8.99)

Melini Chianti Riserva 2010, Tuscany (Waitrose £6.66 was £9.99)

Casa Carmela Monastrell 2013, Jumilla (Waitrose £5.99 was £7.99)


Alternatively, read my latest article on Aldi and try and find a parking space!


That should be enough to keep you going for a couple of weeks.


Wine in the news

We can look forward to some low prices on Champagne this Christmas:

Is the Institute of Masters of Wine becoming a farce?

Rudy’s case goes on and on…

The changing face of California… we’ll see!

Jancis loves Riesling too!

And how about a round-up of wine from the weekend press to finish up?

A great graphic from for understanding Italian red wine… we need all the help we can get!


Light relief

I’m sure I’ll offend someone but what the heck… I just sure as hell hope I don’t bump into George W Bush while I’m stateside; I might struggle to hold my own in an intellectual debate with the guy. Check some of these quotes out:


“The thing that’s important for me is to remember what’s the most important thing.”

“One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.”

“I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here.”

“You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.”

“I’m the commander see, I don’t need to explain, I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president.”

“I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family.”

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”

“They misunderestimated me.”

“For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It’s just unacceptable. And we’re going to do something about it.”

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”

“It’s clearly a budget. It’s got lots of numbers in it.”

“It has come to my attention, that air pollution is polluting the air!”

“There are cameras nowadays that have been developed to tell the difference between a squirrel and a bomb.”

“The future will be better tomorrow”


And let’s leave it to the man himself to sum it up just perfectly:

“In my sentences I go where no man has gone before.”


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 29 – Cabernet Franc, Loire Valley

Mike has kicked us off this week by introducing us to Cabernet Franc… a wonderful red wine selection, especially when the sun shines:


The beautiful town of Chinon

The beautiful town of Chinon

A week in The Loire last summer got me hooked on Cab Franc. I had a few bottles before going out there as part of my strict training schedule and it is now firmly on my list of go-to reds, especially in the summer.

Before visiting the region I basically thought about Cabernet Franc as a blending partner for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Bordeaux, I now understand how great it can be by itself. In The western and central Loire, Cab Franc is the hero red grape and really comes into its own in Chinon, Saumur-Champigny and Bourgueil.

Cabernet Franc has a delicacy that is Cabernet Sauvignon doesn’t possess; it has less body, less tannin, less alcohol and less colour, but has fragrance and elegance in abundance. The other major positive Cab Franc has going for it is its high acidity, which makes the wines drinkable in their youth, although though the finest can last for decades. And best of all you can enjoy this red wine chilled in the summer, of which I have become a huge advocate.

At its best, Cab Franc delivers bright red berry flavour, hints of smoke and leather and a certain hard green herb note, even the flavour of raw green peppers… its nice, honestly!

Chateau du Petit Thouars

Chateau du Petit Thouars

I wish I could get hold of the wines from Chateau du Petit Thouars, where I had the most fantastic experience last summer, but they don’t appear to have a UK importer, so you’ll have to get one of these to join in with #newwinethisweek:


Les Complices de Loire Les Graviers Chinon 2011 (Waitrose £10.99)

Domaine Rosette Chinon 2013 (M&S £9.49)

Domaine Lavigne Saumer-Champigny Vieilles Vignes 2012 (Wine & the Vine £12.25)

Domaine de la Semellerie Chinon 2012 (The Wine Society £8.50)

Domaine Ratron Clos des Cordeliers Saumur-Champigny ‘Cuvée Tradition’ 2012 (The Wine Society £10.50)


Don’t forget head over to Mike’s site to leave this week’s comment and score:





Bangers & Smashed 2014

The sun rose over a most beautiful slice of the English countryside as seven gastro-warriors drew their last breath before the battle commenced…

Well that’s kind of what happened! What really happened was seven mates and their families got together to determine who had selected the best beer and the best sausage and be crowned Sausage King VI… welcome to Bangers & Smashed 2014!


B&S history

The idea came about after an evening of hefty drinking on a weekend break at Centre Parcs. As we all live in different corners of the UK (and Trinidad!) we wanted another reason to get together and we’re getting a bit old for music festivals these days… plus the wives would never allow it! So we decided to harness our love for all things food and drink, and on 18th September 2009 the inaugural Bangers & Smashed took place in Mortimer, Berkshire.


The rules are simple: 

Pick a beer and a sausage from the county you live or were born

Pour your beer

Cook your sausage

Give each beer and sausage a score out of 10 (you may not score your own)

Accompany your score with some scathing remarks

Announce the new Sausage King

Go to the SK’s house the following year and repeat

Spectator sport

Role of honour:

2009 – Mike S, Berkshire

2010 – Mike S, Berkshire

2011 – Mikey, South Yorkshire

2012 – Al, Gloucestershire

2013 – Joel, Gloucestershire

So as you can see, if your name is Mike or you come from Gloucestershire then you’ve got a bloody great chance of becoming the Sausage King and lifting the famous pork sword!


2014 Bangers & Smashed

Joel and Laura were magnificent hosts, the kids were happy, the Mums were happy and the big kids were even happier! A particular classy touch was an exhibition of the complete Bangers & Smashed t-shirt collection on the garden fence… coupled with the best t-shirts we have ever had for this 2014 event.

Tshirt exhibition

In reverse order, here are the runners, riders, highlights, lowlights and scores:

7th place (AKA last) – Mike E, Sussex

Beer: Arundel Castle Beer 4.2% (7th place)

Sausage: Arundel Pork & Herb Sausage (7th place)


I don’t think Mike realises quite how much we want to go down to the south coast for Bangers & Smashed… judging by this year’s performance, like Ireland in the Eurovision song contest, he and Charlotte obviously don’t want us anywhere near their lovely home!

The sausage wasn’t at all bad; in fact the scores for all of the sausage were very close – ranging from 38 to 43 points out of a possible 60. I actually scored it an 8 as I thought it was an excellent all-rounder, very juicy and spot-on seasoning.

The beer however, the less said the better! You’d think that Mike would have learned by now that bringing a beer in a box simply doesn’t work. The smell had a lovely caramel note but it was flat as a pancake, like water that had been used to do the dishes. 4/10 from me and please Mike, pick a good ‘un next year so we can come to the seaside!


Equal 5th place – Joel, Gloucestershire

Beer: Pliney & Elderflower, Corinium Brewery 3.8% (=5th place)

Sausage: Pork and Stilton from Farmhouse deli, Cheltenham (=4th place)


The reigning champion put on a great show but couldn’t follow up the success of 2013. The beer was pale-gold with a lovely fruity aroma; the taste was a little bland to begin with but the more time it spent in the glass the more fruity it became – a good summer afternoon beer, I gave it 7/10.

Joel’s sausage tasted great, with good seasoning and I thought it would make an excellent breakfast banger… but I found no hint of Stilton whatsoever… and I love Stilton! 7/10 for the sausage too, and a fair defence from the Sausage King.


Equal 5th place – Mikey, South Yorkshire

Beer: All Ceatures Great and Small, Black Sheep Brewery 4.0% (=5th place)

Sausage: Pork and black pudding (=4th place)


Mikey and Joel shared exactly the same scores for their beers and sausages from the crowd but I think the 2011 champion was slightly hard done by; but I suppose when you look like you should be in a boy band it’s always going to be held against you!

The beer was from the Black Sheep brewery, maker of one of my top 5 beers of all time. “All Creatures Great & Small” was a light, golden ale with a delightful balance of sweet and bitterness across the palate – another one of those great summer session beers (7/10). The sausage was my favourite of the day with brilliant spice from the black pudding and a brilliant texture (9/10)… but there were some very strange scores from other quarters… some thought not enough black pudding, others said too much; an average score of 6.7/10 was a travesty!


4th place – Dave, Cambridgeshire

Beer: Misssoula Floods, Red Brewery, Great Staughton 6.0% (4th place)

Sausage: Old English pork, Johnsons Butchers, Woodhurst (2nd place)


The B&S saying goes “whoever follow’s Dave’s beer has an obvious advantage”! We would all love to see Dave become champion one day as he is probably the most passionate foody out of the lot of us. But his beer is usually absolute dogshit! However, this year’s entry was much better and was my joint favourite of the day. A sweet and delicate American Pale Ale with great balance hid the high alcohol superbly; this is a beer that would get you pretty pissed pretty quickly. It’s just a shame that Mike E’s ridiculous score of 2/10 relegated this delicious beverage to 6th place… take a sip of your own Mike!

Dave’s banger came second but wasn’t one of my favourites. I found the flavour OK but the texture a bit dry; good but nothing special for me (6/10) and Dave says he is going to make his own next year, when the advantage will be for the beer that comes after Mike E!!


3rd place – Al, Gloucestershire

Beer: Bristol Beer Factory, Southville Hop 6.5% (3rd place)

Sausage: Pork and leek sausage, Farmhouse deli, Cheltenham (3rd place)


I think I mentioned this last year, but Al TRULY believes that his beer and his sausage is worth 10/10 every single year! In the year that he won, no one was more pleased for him than himself… and we love him for it! It is fair to say, however, that some of Al’s scoring this year was eccentric to say the least.

For me, Al’s beer was a story of two halves. Honey and hops on the nose were delightful, but the palate tasted far darker and although there was a nice sweetness on the attack, I was left with a very bitter finish, 6/10 from me.

The sausage was delicious; it looked great, it had a brilliantly juicy texture and the balance of flavours was excellent, with just the right level of leek. A few of the guys thought it too salty but I loved the seasoning – 9/10. Maybe next year will be the double 10, eh Al??


2nd place – Me, Wales (I’ve run out of Hertfordshire breweries!)

Beer: Ogham Oak, Celt Brewery, Caerphilly (1st place)

Sausage: Homemade pork and caramelised onion sausage (6th place)


My beer selection was close to being a disaster! I ordered 11 different beers and tasted them all a couple of weekend ago; the first 8 were, quite frankly, almost as bad as Mike E’s! Then I got to the Ogham Oak. I never thought I’d get away with an 8.5% ABV entry but the sweetness, spiciness and delicious texture hid the alcohol beautifully and was really well balanced. I would have given it 9/10 and thankfully the group more or less agreed, putting it in first place with an average score of 7.5/10 (I think there was another Mike E dodgy score in there somewhere).

I made my own sausages again this year and I think they were the best I have made yet. The texture was good, the flavour came together nicely but I definitely under-seasoned… maybe I should start making them more often than once a year the day before the competition from now on! 6th place looks bad, but a score of 38.5 when the winning sausage scored 43.75 is only a point per person away from being a winner!

Homemade sausages

That’s my fourth runner-up spot (along with 2 last places!)… it seems I will forever be the bridesmaid… and I don’t look that good in a dress!


Winner (again!) – Mike S, Berkshire

Beer: Dr Hexter Healer, Berkshire Brewery’s (2nd place)

Sausage: Mortimer Sausage Company cracked black pepper banger (1st place)

Mike S

Mike and Becky have been living in Trinidad for 18 months now and were back in Blighty for the birth of their son, Sam, only five weeks ago. Last year Mike represented Scotland and hit and hoped with mail-order selections but this year he was back to his foraging best.

There appear to be a great selection of breweries in Berkshire and Mike has tracked down the best, this year he even arrived wearing a Berkshire Brewery t-shirt and served his beer on accompanying beermats! The Dr Hexter Healer was a delightfully balanced beer with a great balance of hops and caramel notes. A great all-rounder for any occasion. 8/10

Mike’s sausage came of top of the pops with everyone apart from me! It was full of herbs, far too many for me, and even some red chilli, in what was supposed to be a cracked black pepper number. But hey-ho, that’s why we all get a vote

So Mike took the honours for the third time but the announcement had to be made via facetime as he was back in Mortimer putting young Sam to bed at the time!

Joel passes on the sword via FaceTime!

Joel passes on the sword via FaceTime!

It’s not all about beer and sausages…


A few years ago, the female fraternity decided that they wanted to participate so they now supply a sweet end to the proceedings with their own bake-off. This year we enjoyed some scones, a tropical fruit cake and a cream sponge cake, beautifully decorated by Mad and her kids. But we didn’t come back to Watford totally empty handed as The Fish won the bake-off with her magnificent lemon and pistachio cake… If I can’t be a winner then I’m so please my wife has got it in her!

The Fish accepts the Silver Cake-slice!

The Fish accepts the Silver Cake-slice!

So there we go, another year, another Bangers & Smashed. There are just two questions that remain unanswered; one, how will Mike S get the pork sword into Trinidad, and two, can we get the wives to let us go to Trini for next year’s event????



Cooking begins



Wine Geek newsletter #79

79 header

Hi Winos

After a busy few weeks its time to chill out with some Riesling this weekend! I hope you all have a great couple of days off and  drink exceptionally well!​

Say when

New post

Premature oxidisation has been a big issue for white Burgundy, this tasting confirmed what a gamble aged wine from the 1990’s can be:


Germany won the World Cup so we just had to go with Riesling!

Supermarket wine

Waitrose have gone summer mad with 25% off a whole lotta rosé!

Muga Rioja Rosado 2012, Spain (Waitrose £7.49 was £9.99)
Esprit de Buganay Rosé, Côtes de Provence 2013 (Waitrose £7.86 was £10.49)
Torres Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2013, Chile (Waitrose £6.74 was £8.99)

And a great price on some Crémant from Burgundy:

Cave de Lugny Sparkling Burgundy, Crémant de Bourgogne, France (Waitrose £10.49 was £13.99)

And a few selections from Tesco and Sainsbury’s, including the Champagne described by Fiona Beckett of The Guardian as the best party Champagne out there!

Andre Carpentier Champagne Non Vintage (Tesco £13.49 was £26.99)
Blason De Bourgogne Blanc Montagny 2012, Burgundy (Tesco £9.99 was £14.99)
Finest Chateau Fonguillon Montagne St Emilion 2010, Bordeaux (Tesco £7.99 was £10.49)

Faustino 1 Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £18.00)
Taste the Difference Petit Chablis 2012, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £8.50 was £10.00)


Wine in the news

Andrew Jefford has a rant about wine labelling:

Are you missing the off-licenses of yesteryears?

18 signs you’re in a serious relationship with wine:

5 white wines you need to discover this summer:

The round-up of the weekend newspaper wine coverage:

And this in an ace info graphic for finding your way around French wine!


Light relief

Most schools break up for summer this week… so let’s laugh at them before they laugh at us on their 6-week bloody holiday!

Teacher: ‘Craig, you know you can’t sleep in my class.’
Craig: ‘I know. But maybe if you were just a little quieter, I could.’

Stressing the importance of a good vocabulary, the teacher told her young charges, “Use a word ten times, and it shall be yours for life.”
From somewhere in the back of the room, came a small male voice chanting, “Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda, Amanda.”

Does it count as differentiated instruction if I print their worksheets in different colours?

Pupil: I don’t think I deserved zero on this test!
Teacher: I agree, but that’s the lowest mark I could give you!

What do you call a teacher without students?

Teachers deserve a lot of credit. Of course, if we paid them more, they wouldn’t need it.

Teacher: I want you to tell me the longest sentence you can think of
Pupil: Life imprisonment!

Where do door-makers get their education?
The school of hard knocks

What do you call a teacher without students?
Broke…oh wait, that’s a regular teacher

Teacher: Why have you got cotton wool in your ears, do you have an infection?
Pupil: Well you keep saying that things go in one ear and out the other so I am trying to keep them it all in!

Kid comes home from 1st day at school. Mum asks, ‘What did you learn today?’ Kid replies, ‘Not enough. I have to go back tomorrow.’

Pupil: Teacher, would you punish me for something I didn’t do?
Teacher: Of course not
Pupil: Good, because I didn’t do my homework

Teacher: You copied from Fred’s exam paper didn’t you ?
Pupil: How did you know ?
Fred’s paper says “I don’t know” and you have put “Me, neither”!

The little boy wasn’t getting good marks in school. One day he made the teacher quite surprised. He tapped her on the shoulder and said …”I don’t want to scare you, but my daddy says if I don’t get better grades, somebody is going to get a spanking.”

Room temperature
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 28 – World Champion Riesling, Germany


I was chuffed to bits about Germany winning the World Cup on Sunday as it meant we had no option but to go for German Riesling this week… and it just so happens to coincide with #31daysofriesling… never in doubt was it?? Mike kicked the week off on his blog with some selections from Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Majestic and Spirited Wines:

Personally, I love Riesling from all over the world (you may have notices plenty of words and articles on the subject!) but I need very little persuasion to open up a bottle of JJ Prüm… as I will most certainly be doing later on this week!

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. German wine is still suffering from the awful Hock and Liebfraumilch that filled supermarket shelves in the 80′s but please, forget all you know, go back with an open mind and you will not be disappointed.

Germany map

What style of wine is in the bottle isn’t always the easiest to determine but here are a few useful hints and tips that will help you determine the level of sweetness in the wines. The word “Trocken” on the label means dry (halbtrocken = off-dry) and there are more and more trocken wines available these days


For dry/medium style:

Kabinett – light in body with high acidity and a touch of sweetness

Spätlese – means late harvest, often fuller in body and medium sweet

Auslese – more body and more tropical flavours. Increasing number of dry wines at this level


Sweet wines (and very bloody expensive!):

Beerenauslese – individually selected, over-ripe grapes

Trockenbeerenauslese – even sweeter, more concentrated, and more expensive!

Eiswein – the grapes are picked when frozen to concentrate the juice even more. Worth reading about as this is a remarkable process


Without further ado, here are plenty of recommendations for this week:

Koester Wolf Kabinett HalbtrockenKOESTER 2012 Rheinhessen (Wine & the Vine £10.45)

Zeltinger Himmelreich Kabinett 2011, Mosel (Wine & the Vine £12.35)

Tesco Finest Steillage Mosel Riesling, Mosel (Tesco £7.99)

Grey Slate Dr L Riesling Private Reserve 2013, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (Waitrose £7.49 was £9.99)

Darting Estate Dürkheimer Michelsberg Riesling 2013, Pfalz (M&S £9.49)

Von Kesselstatt Dry Riesling 2013, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (The Wine Society £9.50)

JJ Prüm Kabinett 2011, Mosel (Roberson £19.95)


The vote will take place on Mike’s blog this week so get yourself a bottle of this wonderful stuff and see it soar to the top of the #newwinethisweek leaderboard!







The white Burgundy gamble

I was having a look through the article archive the other day and realised that although there are a fair number of pieces relating to Burgundy, there are none dedicated to white Burgundy. This came as quite a shock as I am a big fan of classy Chardonnay from the Cote de Beaune so when a tasting of mature white Burg reared its head at Handford Wines I signed up immediately.

There is great value to be found in the Macon but the real heartland for white Burgundy is the Côte de Beaune. The Grands Crus are found in the famous villages of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet and from the famed hill of Corton, which is shared between the villages of Aloxe-Corton and Pernand-Vergelesses. Meursault is held in the same high regard by many even though none of its vineyards were designated at the highest possible classification. The Premier Cru vineyards of Les Perrières, Les Genevrières and Les Charmes are considered by many to be of GC quality, which is often reflected in the prices of the wines.

Loving white Burgundy is an easy thing to do but all has not been well in the past couple of decades. The vintages between 1996 and 2002 were affected by premature oxidation (premox), which caused many age-worthy wines to become oxidised and undrinkable. There are many theories to how this happened, including poor quality corks, excessive stirring of the lees, and insufficient use of sulphur dioxide in the winemaking process, but it appears no-one really knows what caused the purchase of these highly priced wines to become such a gamble.

The good news is that we are over the worst of it and there has been very little talk of premox for the past 5 years… but what of those bottles that have been left to age and should be in the middle of their drinking window right now? On a Thursday evening in June I got the opportunity to try 10 wines from 1995 and 200… with a 30% failure rate…


The first flight consisted of a set of wines from 1er Cry vineyards in Chassagne:


Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Gain 2002

A little musky and nutty on the nose with some baked apple, a nice touch of fresh peach and a hint of baking spice. Bright with acidity on the palate with lots of apple but just a bit over-done on the oak and finishes a touch quickly. Classy but with a touch too much makeup. 92 points


Domaine Michel Niellon Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Gain 1995

Honey and toasted nuts on the nose with an edge of dried golden sultanas. The palate feels a bit tired and dried out suggesting it’s past its peak – the balance of acid isn’t what it should be, probably it once was. 90 points


Domaine Ramonet Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Les Vergers 1996

Very funky nose with a touch of the farmyard and still a good hit of tropical fruit and some nutmeg. Lovely acidity on the palate and a long citrus-finish. Certainly not a shy wine but still going strong and very expressive. 93 points


Then we came to three wines in a row that were oxidised, all from Puligny. The first 2 were undrinkable, the third not worth discussing:


Michel Colin-Deleger Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles 1999


Michel Colin-Deleger Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles 2000


Etinee Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Referts 1999


The next pair showed Puligny in a much better light!


Domaine Leflaive Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Clavoillons 1999

Rich and nutty with lots of apples and a heck of a lot of oak on the nose… but very sophisticated. Warm and toasty attack with apples, bright citrus and a finish of peaches poached with cloves. A real hug in a glass with lovely acidity, lovely balance. Burgundy at it’s richest and fattest! 94 points


Giarardin Puligny Montrachet ier Cru Folatieres 2000

All that’s good in aged white Burgundy. The aromas are nectarine and russet apples with pastry and vanilla cream. The palate is delightfully fresh and there is a wonderful intensity of fruit, balance of richness and acid, and all of the detected aromas coming together in the mouth. Wonderfully complex and great length. Marvellous stuff. 95 points


The final pair featured a couple of Grand Crus:

Grands Cru

Vincent Girardin Batard Montrachet 2000

Rich and buttery with lots of fruit, apple, citrus and peach. I was hoping for a bit more from such a famous address but it all just fell off a little bit quickly. Nearly but not quite for me. 92 points


Domaine Chandon de Briailles Corton Blanc 1996

Aromas of rich and ripe fruit, apples, peached and a touch of the tropics, complimented by enticing nutty, buttery notes. Sweet citrus on the attack with mouth watering acidity that lasts for 60 seconds. A very well made wine with plenty of time ahead of it. 93 points





Wine Geek Newsletter #78

78 header

Hi Winos

There’s plenty of wine-stuff in this week’s newsletter so you better make the most of it… because this weekend it’s Bangers & Smashed. What is Bangers & Smashed I hear you say; well its our annual beer and sausage festival, our very own Eurovision! So wish me luck and remind yourself what happened last year…

Wine flu

New post

Last week I visited a brilliant Cava bar in central London… you’ve gotta go!



We’ve been neglecting the big red wine fans recently, so Chilean Merlot is dedicated to you hardy bunch!

Reading glasses

Supermarket deals

There was very little inspiration on the supermarket shelves this week but I’ve picked out a couple from all the big retail powerhouses:

Plantagenet The Lioness Pinot Noir 2011, Western Australia (Tesco £10.99 was £12.99)

Finest Pouilly Fume 2011, Loire Valley (Tesco £9.99 was £11.99)

Taste the Difference Priorat 2010, Priorat, Spain (Sainsbury’s £8.50 was £11.00)

Elegant Frog Viognier 2012, Languedoc, France (Sainsbury’s £6.56 was £8.75)

M Signature Garnacha 2012, Navarra, Spain (Morrisons £5.99 was £7.99)

Vina Maipo Vitral Chardonnay 2012, Casablanca/Limari, Chile (Morrisons £5.99 was £8.99)|

Cellier des Dauphins Cru des Cotes du Rhone Vinsobres 2012, Rhone (Asda £7.00 was £10.50)

Extra Special Fiano 2012, Sicily, Italy (Asda £5.00 was £7.50)

Dr L Grey Slate Riesling Private Reserve 2013, Mosel, Germany (Waitrose £7.49 was £9.99)

First Press Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Napa Valley, California (Waitrose £14.39 was £17.99)


Wine in the news

Plenty of interesting stuff in the world of wine this week:


9 wine myths that need quashing!


Tim Atkin classifies South Africa all by himself:


Australian wine; good or bad… discuss…


Screw-caps as popular as cork:


Hail now ravages Languedoc too… so sad


And TC’s weekend wine press round-up:

Milk carton

Light relief

Do I, don’t I? Well I have… blame my Dad!

A mother and father take their 6-year old son to a nudist beach.

As the boy walks along the sand, he notices that many of the women have boobs bigger than his mother’s, so he goes back to ask her why.

She tells her son, ‘The bigger they are, the sillier the lady is.’

The boy, pleased with the answer, goes to play in the ocean but returns to tell his mother that many of the men have larger things than his dad does.

She replies, ‘The bigger they are, the dumber the man is.’

Again satisfied with her answer, the boy goes back to the ocean to play.

Shortly thereafter, the boy returns and promptly tells his mother,

‘Daddy is talking to the silliest lady on the beach, and the longer he talks, the dumber he gets.’

Just 1 glass

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 27 – Merlot, Chile

We haven’t had a hefty red for a while on #newwinethisweek so this week we’ll rectify that situation as we go for one of the wine-world’s forgotten super-heroes. This week we will learn to love Merlot again.

Chile flag

Merlot has had a hard time in the past decade; especially after the unfair hammering it took in the film Sideways! But there really is nothing to dislike; Merlot produces soft-textured fruity wines that are ever so drinkable and match with any red meat. The way I see it, if it’s good enough for Petrus then it’s good enough for you and me!

We could have gone to the home of Merlot on the right bank of Bordeaux but #newwinethisweek is all about expanding our horizons; over the past couple of years I have come across some excellent examples of Merlots in Chile. We covered Chile in week 2 of #newwinethisweek when we took a look at Carménère but it’s time to return and discover what Chilean Merlot has to offer.

Merlot is the second most planted red grape in Chile with just over 10,000 hectares under vine; the most popular is the ubiquitous Cabernet Sauvignon with 40,000ha, Carmémère comes in third at 9,000ha. Merlot is planted in all of Chile’s wine regions and produces fruity, vibrant and often brilliant wines. The texture is certainly not as full bodied as some of the big Californian Merlots on the market, instead these are wines of fruit and elegance are more akin to those of Pommerol… big statement!


I am looking forward to trying a few of these wines and have secured a couple of bottles from the Echeverria estate to see how Merlot works with and without oak. The great news is that there is plenty of choice out there on the supermarket shelves and a very attractive price too. Get yourself a bottle and let us know what you think!


Errázuriz Estate Merlot 2012, Curicó Valley (Tesco £9.99)

Isla Negra Reserve Merlot 2013, Central Valley (Tesco £9.99, currently £4.99 – it won’t be worth £10!)

MontGras Reserva Merlot 2013, Colchague Valley (Waitrose £9.49)

Casa Leona Merlot 2013, Rapel Valley (M&S £7.49)

The Society’s Exhibition Merlot 2011, Peumol (The Wine Society £9.50)

Echeverria Classic Collection Merlot 2012, Central Valley (Wine and the Vine £8.99)

Echeverria Reserva Merlot 2010, Curico Valley (Wine and the Vine £11.25)


You know the drill by now, grab a bottle and tell us what you think!





%d bloggers like this: