Monthly Archives: September 2014

#newwinethisweek Week 39 – Prosecco, Italy

Mike has gone for a real crowd please this week and he should expect a big thank you from my Mum, who may well be single handily responsible for the popularity of this week’s #newwinethisweek… It’s Prosecco, Mother!


Prosecco has been an amazing success in the UK over the past few years; we all love a bit of fizz and we seem to love it so much more when we can get it for under £10! I was reading an article earlier this year where Waitrose and Sainsbury’s both claimed to have sold 70% more Prosecco versus the previous year and how Prosecco is now twice as popular as Champagne, replacing the famous French fizz (try saying that after a couple of glasses!) for all but the most special occasions. It is no surprise really, because Prosecco is just so damn approachable; light in body, gentle fizz, crisp citrus flavours and maybe just a hint of sweetness; it simply ticks all of the boxes. But what is actually in the glass?

Italian labels are more difficult to fathom that a Rubik’s cube; does the name on the label refer to the place, the grape, the winemaker? Well that all depends on the region… the Italians can’t seem to agree on anything! Prosecco is an interesting case study as it is both the name of a place and the name of a grape… however neither are particularly relevant today! Let’s start with the region. Prosecco is the name of a small village in Veneto where the wine is produced but over the years the DOC has grown to include larger parts of the Veneto and Friuli in northeast Italy. The main grape in the wine is Glera, which was once known as Prosecco (and in some places is still used informally) and must make up at least 85% of the final blend, the balance made up from a wide variety of local and/or international varieties.


We have covered a number of sparkling wines made using the “method traditionale” already this year (Cremant, English Bubbly, Cava) that has started to explain the high prices for some of these wines, so why is Prosecco that much cheaper? Most Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method, or the “Metodo Italiano”, in which the process begins the same way as any other sparkling wine with an initial fermentation producing a still wine. The secondary fermentation, however, takes place in stainless steel tanks, a far cheaper method doing it in bottle, and the resulting sparkling wine is bottled under pressure and is does not have to undergo any cellar ageing, again cutting down on cost. What you end up with is a crisp, fruity and easy-going wine that is designed to be drunk young and won’t break the bank.

So you know what it is, where it’s from and how it’s made; all that is left is the fun but where we find out how it tastes! You won’t struggle to find Prosecco on any supermarket shelves but here is a section that continually get cracking write-ups in the press:


Valdobbiadene Prosecco Spumante (Aldi £7.49)

Finest Bisol Prosecco (Tesco £6.99 was £8.99)

Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore (Waitrose £8.99 was £13.49)

M&S Prosecco (M&S £9.99)


The vote is on Mike’s site again this week so don’t forget to clink on the link at the top of the article and let us know what you think!








Domaine Huet tasting 1934 to 1989 – 80 years of history in a glass

Chenin Blanc has been associated with the Vouvray area since the 9th Century, but there is little doubt amongst Loire wine lovers about the best producer in the region, if not the entire world. Domaine Huet make Chenin Blanc across the entire spectrum, from sparkling to dry, semi-dry to super-sweet; Huet does the lot… and they do them all better than anybody else. A recent tasting at The West London Wine School provided a spectacular opportunity to taste the domaine’s wines back as far as 1934. Every wine we tried represented an important milestone in the domaine’s history, and I hope I can do a small justice to the wonderful story told to us by WLWS’s main wine dude, Jimmy Smith, who loves Chenin, loves the Loire, and loves Huet more than any other person I have met in the wine business!

Huet logo

Victor Huet, originally a Bistro owner from Paris, was forced from the army with chronic lung disease after WWI and told to do something relaxing and un-stressful; he decided to buy some land, grow some grapes and make some wine! The domaine was officially founded in 1928 when Victor bought 7 hectares of Le Haut Lieu; Victor’s son Gaston 18 at the time was encouraged by his father to study agronomy before returning to join his father at the domaine. In 1934, Gaston married his sweetheart Germaine Foreau… and what better place to start our tasting.

The colours!

The colours!

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec 1934 (Vinaturel £538)

A beautiful golden, amber colour and a nutty, slightly oxidative nose but with plenty of fruit in the form of dried apple pieces, pear and even a touch of orange peel; still very much alive 80 years on! The palate leads with raisiny fruit but there is apple freshness and tangy orange rind; the flavour is tart and fresh and the acidity is incredible. After the fruit there is a deliciously long nutty finish. This is a pure and precise wine, smooth and elegant; a wine as much about the texture as the flavour… but the layers of flavour are incredible and the length is astonishing. A truly remarkable wine. 95 points

The complete tasting

The complete tasting

Our next two wines came from the 1938 vintage, which marked not only the birth of Gaston’s first daughter Jacqueline, but also celebrated his first vintage as the main winemaker at the domaine.

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec 1938 (Vinaturel £362)

A slight nutty note as you raise the shimmering golden nectar to the nose but there is an abundance of apple and citrus defying its age. The apple flavour is tart and the texture is glacial; the acid hits the top of the mouth hard (and wonderfully!) on the attack but disappears almost as quickly. There is a touch of marmalade on the clean and mineral, though not overly lengthy, finish. 92 points

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec 1938 (Vinaturel £428)

Now this has a nose to write home about! There’s burnt orange, bruised apples, a hint of toasted nuts, a touch of smoke and a lingering nuance of marzipan. On the palate the fruit is beautifully sweet with lots of fresh apple, dried orange and that familiar Chenin-honey note. Overall here we have a perfect balance of acidity and off-dry sweetness that leaves your mouth watering and tingling for minutes not seconds. Brilliant. 96 points


Gaston was drafted into the army at the outset of the war, but not before hiding his wines in secret cellars, safely out of the grasp of the Nazis. Wine continued to be made at the domaine by Germaine with some help from Victor; although not the best examples of Huet’s output, it was still a pleasure and an honour to get the chance to try a bottle from the 1943 vintage:

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux 1943 (Fine & Rare £352)

A very different wine altogether than what has gone before; an earthy and caramel nose with something floral and wild about it, a slight whiff of ammonia perhaps? The texture is rich and there is some apple fruit but it somehow doesn’t all quite fit together. The freshness is there but the promised sweetness is missing, perhaps disappeared forever; its earthy and mineral but closer to a Sec than Moelleux. 88 points


The Nazis captured Gaston in Calais in May 1940 as he attempted to escape to England; he spent the rest of the war in a POW camp in Silesia. While a prisoner Gaston was able to work a deal with his captors that led to a wine tasting event for over 4,000 captives, with wines arriving from all over France; each prisoner enjoyed a single glass of wine, which Gaston described as the best glass of wine he ever drank in his entire life. After the Liberation, Gaston arrived back at the Vouvray domaine in February 1945, to discover his vines and vineyards in poor condition; nevertheless that 1945 vintage has stood the test of time:

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Demi-Sec 1945 (BBR Singapore £283)

Lovely richness on the nose with withy apples, fresh peaches and dries apricots, all supported with layers of honey; it’s like a crème brulee in a glass. There is weight on the palate with some citrus, notes of caramel and what I can only describe as caramelised marmalade… does this product exist? It probably should! Unfortunately the palate doesn’t quite deliver what the wonderful nose had promised; I’m not sure this wine was ever great but I think it has certainly seen better days. 89 points


In the following years Gaston set about making some of the best wines to come out of The Loire. The 1947 is considered perhaps the greatest Loire vintage of all time; there were a few at the tasting who have actually drunk this mythical Huet vintage and the looks on their faces as they described the flavours almost drove the rest of us to murder! 1947 also saw Gaston appointed Mayor of Vouvray, a position he kept until his retirement in 1989. Along with 1947, Gaston rated 1959 and 1989 as two of his very best vintages and we certainly wouldn’t disagree with him as we enjoyed an example from 1959 and two from 1989:

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux 1959 (The Wine Society £135/375ml)

Oh yes! Lots of pithy orange on the nose with waves of citrus and apple in support, along with layers of honey and cool minerality. The acid on the attack is brilliant – tongue-stingingly brilliant – but I there are a couple of us in the room that can’t find the middle of this wine… The start and finish is delicious but the richness I was expecting on the mid-palate just never quite materialises. An excellent wine but not my favourite of the night. 93 points


Domaine Huet Le Mont Moelleux 1er Trie 1989 (Bordeaux Index £70)

As we come into modern times we get a very modern wine. An amazing amount of fruit on the nose with ripe peaches, crisp apples and touches of mango and pineapple; pure and rich and ever so inviting. All of the fruit carries onto the palate but there is a delightful cool minerality underpinning the whole thing, giving it a purity and freshness I associate with the best Rieslings of the Mosel. I talk a lot about the importance of balance and this has the lot; acid, sugar, length and texture. Brilliant. 96 points


Domaine Huet Clos de Bourg Moelleux 1er Trie 1989 (Fine & Rare £138)

Rich and weighty on the nose and palate with caramelised oranges, marmalade and sweet apple and notes of sweet toffee, the palate is thick and gloopy (that’s good!) and the sweetness is tooth-rottingly good. It is super-charged and brash and in need of a desert to bring out the best of it… luckily it was my birthday the following day and a giant Jaffa Cake (thanks Sarah!) was just the ticket. Pow! 94 points

My favourites

My favourites

Gaston lived for at Le Haut right up to the time of his death at the age of 92 in April 2002. These days the domaine is run by Gaston’s son-in-law, Noel Pinguet, who converted the operation to Biodynamic in 1990 and continues to produces Chenin in all styles from the three vineyards of Le Haut Lieu, Le Mont and Clos de Bourg.

There are many stories like Huet throughout the world of wine and what a pleasure it was to taste our way through the history of such an important domaine, which continues to make some of the World’s greatest wines to this day. Thank you Victor, Gaston, Germaine and Nöel.





Wine Geek Newsletter #84

Week 84

Hi Winos!

I hope you’ve all had a great week and don’t have too much planned for the weekend… If you have then cancel all of your plans and watch the Ryder Cup! I was at Celtic Manor 4 years ago but I’ll be watching this one from the comfort of the sofa. The good news is I’ve been trying to find an excuse NOT to drink Californian wine for a few weeks now… its Europe, Europe, Europe this weekend!

File missing


I have a confession to make… I didn’t have a Malbec last week… it just felt wrong on my birthday! I promise to catch up this weekend, especially with a fabulous Grenache from the Southern Rhône to wash it down with!


Supermarket wine

A bit of a scattergun approach this week, with choices from across the supermarket board:

Louis Max Mercurey 2011, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £15.50 was £18.50)

Taste the Difference McLaren Vale Grenache, South Australia 2012 (Sainsbury’s £9.50 was £11.00)

Torre De Azevedo Vinho Verde 2012, Portugal (Sainsbury’s £5.50 was £7.75)

Vina Maipo Vitral Chardonnay 2012, Chile (Morrisons £5.99 was £8.99)

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

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2012, Australia (Asda £7.98 was £9.98)

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough (Asda £7.48 was £10.98)

Rustenburg Chardonnay 2013, Stellenbosch (Waitrose £10.99 was £13.79)

Domane Wachau Gruner Veltliner 2013, Austria (Waitrose £7.99 was £10.79)

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2009, Rioja (Waitrose £9.99 was £12.49)

Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage 2011, Rhone (Waitrose £8.49 was £11.49) STAR BUY

Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Tesco £23.99 was £33.99)

Finest Sancerre 2013, Loire (Tesco £9.99 was £11.99)

Finest Tingleup Riesling 2012, Western Australia (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)

Beringer Classics Zinfandel 2012, California (Tesco £6.75 was £8.99)


Wine in the news

Chapel Down raises £2.9m through crowd-funding

Burgundy 2014 saved by September heatwave

Are you a wine snob or wine awesome?? I’m somewhere in between!

I knew I was right all along… drinking wine is better for you than going to the gym!


Upcoming events


Thursday October 17th, 7PM to 9PM

Introduction to Quality Wine – £25

Roberson, 348 Kensington Hight Street, London W14 8NS

An informal walk around where you can Navigate the wine world through four themed tables and discover the What, Where, Who and When of wine. As well as tasting 28 wines from across the globe you will receive a comprehensive booklet packed with detailed information on each topic, a £5 voucher which can be used with any £50+ purchase made online or in store and a free Roberson Wine corkscrew


Wednesday 1st October, 7PM to 9PM

2004 Bordeaux horizontal – £40

West London Wine School, The Wine Cellars, Big Yellow Storage, 71 Townmead Road, Fulham, SW6 2ST

An opportunity to try 8 wines from the 2004 Bordeaux vintage, including second growths Leoville-Barton (one of my favourite estates) and Rauzan-Segla. A great chance to taste wines from some of the great estates in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.


Light relief


Tuesday was the first day of Autumn so I searched out some truly awful jokes that will make you ‘fall’ down with laughter!


Q: What did the tree say to autumn?

A: leaf me alone.


Q: What did one autumn leaf say to another?

A: I’m falling for you.


Q: What’s the ratio of a pumpkin’s circumference to its diameter?

A: Pumpkin Pi


Q: What do you give to a pumpkin who is trying to quit smoking?

A: A pumpkin patch!


Q: How does an Elephant get out of a tree?

A: It sits on a leaf and waits till Autumn!


A couple goes to an art gallery.

They find a picture of a naked women with only her privates covered with leaves. The wife doesn’t like it and moves on but the husband keeps looking.

The wife asks: “What are you waiting for?”

The husband replies: “Autumn.”


This autumn we can look forward to falling leaves and rising gas prices.

We’ll be raking it up while the oil companies are raking it in.


If money did grow on trees, autumn would be the best season ever!



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 and have a great weekend


Wine Geek


#newwinethisweek Week 38 – Côtes du Rhône

Mike may have got the better of me last week with Malbec but this week he is back on my Christmas card list as he has gone for spicy Côtes du Rhône from the Southern Rhône Valley!


The smell of lavender, fennel, dried rosemary and thyme fills the air of the Southern Rhône, where spicy Grenache is the champion grape. Wines made with Grenache have brambly fruit flavours and lovely spicy and herby notes, often with lashings of black pepper and after a few years they start to smell like Christmas. This is a very inviting region with extremely inviting wines. The classification system is straightforward, although not always a true indicator of quality; it pays to know the winemaker as well as the classification, as a good winemaker’s Côtes du Rhône can be far superior to a bad one’s Chateuneuf du Pape.

There are a plethora of grape varieties planted in the area. For reds you’ll find Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Carignan, and quite a few others. But the Southern Rhône is also home to a whole host of white varieties: Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Viognier and Picopoul, to name but a few. In fact there are a total of 18 varieties permitted in the blend of Chateuneuf-du-Pape!

Check out this awesome map from

Check out this awesome map from

The classification starts with basic Côtes du Rhône, which stretches over 200km and covers over 83,000 hectares of vineyards; this is our focus for the week. The next step up the quality pyramid to Côtes du Rhône Villages (approx. 3,000ha), which is a selection of 95 communes making better quality wine. Next it’s the “named” Côtes du Rhône Villages, which over the years have consistently produced better quality wines and are allowed to append the village name to the label; there are 18 of these villages, my favourites being Sablet and Cairanne. Finally, we come to the “Crus”; these are villages and areas that have consistently produced top-notch wine and have earned the right to simply call the wine by where it’s from. The key Southern Rhône Crus are Lirac, Rasteau, Beaumes de Venise, Vaqueyras, Vinsobres, Gigondas and, the most famous of all, Chateuneuf du Pape. All of these “Crus” have Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) status for red wines, but only some are allowed to use the village name for whites and rosé; Tavel, for instance only has AOC status for rosé wines, and Vaqueyras, we learnt during our stay there last summer, is the only Cru where the AC covers Red, White and Rose.

I am going to give selections this week at a few levels of the quality pyramid – this is a great week to consider the price vs. quality equation for French red wine… and its an excuse for me to crack open a bottle of Vacqueyras or Gigondas!


Finest* Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu 2013 (Tesco £5.99)

Finest* Gigondas 2013 (Tesco £12.99)

Waitrose Classic Cotes du Rhône 2013 (Waitrose £5.49)

Waitrose Côtes du Rhône Villages 2012 (Waitrose £7.39)

And this is probably the best Côtes du Rhône on the market, from a fine domaine, a fine vintage and worth every penny for the ‘lowly’ appellation:

Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2010 (Waitrose £11.49)

M&S Cotes du Rhone Villages 2012 (M&S £7.99)

Domaine de la Curnière Vacqueyras 2011 (M&S £11.99)


Don’t forget to head on over to Mike’s site to leave your score and comments… drink well!





Wine Geek newsletter #83

News 83
Hi Winos

Your Wine Geek newsletter is back this week and if you’re reading this on Friday night then please raise a glass and wish me a happy birthday! Sorry for being a bit quiet over the past couple of weeks – there are some exciting times ahead which have meant a bit of blog neglect, but I can’t wait to share it with you all over the coming weeks and months!

But for this week you’ll have to make do with the last, and most fabulous post from our recent Californian adventure, and I’m face to face with my nemesis with the latest selection for #newwinethisweek. I have added a new section this week, highlighting some interesting wine events which will be happening over the next few weeks.

So grab a glass and read on… have an amazing weekend and don’t forget to drink well!

Rubber glasses

New post

I left the best of California until the end – the visits to Ridge and Kistler are two experiences that will live with me forever:



This week was always going to come around at some stage… am I the only wine drinker in the UK who doesn’t like Malbec??


Wine flu
Supermarket wine

Let’s kick off with a few great deals in Tesco, including some very nicely priced Champagne if you’re starting to get ready for Xmas! You’ll need to be quick as the offers end on Tuesday 23rd September:

Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label NV Champagne (Tesco £27.75 was £36.99)
Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Tesco £23.99 was £33.99)
Finest Sancerre 2013 (Tesco £9.99 was £11.99)
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2012 (Tesco £7.99 was £10.99)
Finest Tingleup Riesling 2012, Western Australia (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)
Villa Maria Private Bin Chardonnay 2012, Marlborough (Tesco £7.49 was £10.49)
Beringer Classics Zinfandel 2012, California (Tesco £6.75 was £8.99)

If you’re a bit posh for Tesco and fancy some Waitrose action, then give these babies a go (these offers available until 7th October):

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2009, Rioja (Waitrose £9.99 was £12.49)
Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage French Red Wine 2011, Rhone (Waitrose £8.49 was £11.49)
Errazuriz Estate Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Chile (Waitrose £7.99 was £9.99)
Araldica Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2011, Piedmont (Waitrose £6.99 was £8.99)
Domaine Masson-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé 2012, Loire (Waitrose £12.49 was £15.99)
Cave de Beblenheim Pinot Gris Reserve 2012, Alsace (Waitrose £8.29 was £10.49)
Grey Slate Dr L Riesling Private Reserve Riesling 2013, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (Waitrose £7.99 was £9.99)


Upcoming events

There are lots of great tastings going on all of the time in London and elsewhere in the country so I’m going to start updating this section every week with links to upcoming events I think are worth a look:

Thursday October 17th, 7PM to 9PM
Introduction to Quality Wine – £25
Roberson, 348 Kensington Hight Street, London W14 8NS

An informal walk around where you can Navigate the wine world through four themed tables and discover the What, Where, Who and When of wine. As well as tasting 28 wines from across the globe you will receive a comprehensive booklet packed with detailed information on each topic, a £5 voucher which can be used with any £50+ purchase made online or in store and a free Roberson Wine corkscrew
Wednesday 1st October, 7PM to 9PM
2004 Bordeaux horizontal – £40
West London Wine School, The Wine Cellars, Big Yellow Storage, 71 Townmead Road, Fulham, SW6 2ST

An opportunity to try 8 wines from the 2004 Bordeaux vintage, including second growths Leoville-Barton (one of my favourite estates) and Rauzan-Segla. A great chance to taste wines from some of the great estates in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.


Wine in the news

Everything you need to know about the best wine bars in London

Click to access Decanter-London-Wine-Bars-article-Matt-Walls-Nov-2014-issue.pdf

Why you should consider Costco for buying wine – the St Veran is superb too!

Jamie Goode reviews the wines from Lidl

What to drink with oysters

Good article on the complexities of NZ wine

Fraud in Tuscany

Light relief

How about some birthday jokes… I’ll make the most of it as it’s a big number next year!! And apologies, most of them are truly awful!

Q: What’s the easiest way to remember your wife’s birthday?
A: Forget it once!

Q: What do George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Christopher Columbus all have in common?
A: They were all born on holidays.

Q: What goes up and never comes down?
A: Your age!

Q: “Were any famous men born on your birthday?”
A: “No, only little babies.”

Q: Why did the boy feel warm on his birthday?
A: Because people kept toasting him!

Q: What’s the best way to get a man to remember your anniversary?
A: Get married on his birthday.

Q: What has wings, a long tail, and wears a bow?
A: A birthday pheasant!

Q: How does Moby Dick celebrate his birthday?
A: He has a whale of a party!

Q: What was the average age of a cave man?
A: Stone Age!

Q: Why was the birthday cake as hard as a rock?
A: Because it was marble cake!

Q: What does a clam do on his birthday?
A: He shellabrates!

Q: What party game do rabbits like to play?
A: Musical Hares!

Q: What is a meaning of a true friend?
A: One who remembers your birthday but not your age!

Q: What did the bald man say when he got a comb for his birthday?
A: Thanks. I’ll never part with it!

Q: Why are birthday’s good for you?
A: Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest!

Q: When is a birthday cake like a golf ball?
A: When it’s been sliced.

Q: What do you give nine-hundred-pound gorilla for his birthday?
A: I don’t know, but you’d better hope he likes it!

Q: How can you tell that you’re getting old?
A: You go to an antique auction and three people bid on you!

Patient: Doctor, I get heartburn every time I eat birthday cake.”
Doctor: Next time, take off the candles.


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 and have a great weekend

Wine Geek







#newwinethisweek Week 37 – Malbec, Argentina… Arrrggghhhh!!!!

I knew this week would come; it has taken 37 weeks and it has finally arrived. Mike has gone for one of my nemesis grapes this week, one that many, many people love but I just don’t get on with. It’s time for Argentinian Malbec and time for me to have another go at having a meaningful relationship…

Malbec grapes

Over the past few years the world really has developed a love affair with Malbec from Argentina. Its not surprising as the wines are deeply coloured, intensely fruit and velvety in texture… so what is my issue? I have found most of the wines I have tried to be TOO fruity and my overriding memory is always the smell of a hot squash ball! But #newwinethisweek is all about trying new wines as well as giving old foes another go, so let’s focus on the positives.

Although we all associate Malbec with Argentina, the real home of the grape is in Southwest France. It was one of the original grapes used in Bordeaux blends, where it is starting to make a small comeback, and is the dominant variety in the inky-black wines of Cahors. But it’s in Argentina that the variety has become a dinner table and supermarket staple, with Malbec accounting for over 30% of red wine plantings; it has come a long way since it was introduced the country in 1868, where it also known as Côt.

Argentina wine map

Mendoza is the leading region for Malbec in Argentina but also look out for wines from La Rioja, Salta and San Juan. Descriptors for the wines often include ripe plums, prunes, sometimes with a touch of mint. When it comes to food pairing, there really is only one option… Steak, steak or steak!

I am putting all of my prejudice to one side this week and hope I can add Malbec to my regular repertoire; if you have any recommendations I am all ears. For those of you looking for recommendations, I can’t give any personal ones, but I have done a trawl of some excellent sites to offer up this selection, a few available of promotion right now:


Tesco Finest Argentinian Malbec 2013, Mendoza (Tesco £6.99, usually £7.99)

Catena Malbec 2011, Mendoza (Waitrose £10.39, usually £12.99)

Finca El Origen Malbec 2012, Mendoza (M&S £9.99)

The Society’s Exhibition Malbec 2011 (The Wine Society £10.50)

Don David Reserve Malbec 2012, Cafayete (Wine & The Vine £11.25)


The vote will be on Mike’s site this week, and you know what to do; get yourself a bottle of Malbec and tell us what you think!



#newwinethisweek Week 36 – Sauvignon Blanc, Chile

A few years ago I drank a lot of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc; many of us did. In fact it became so popular that it appeared like half of the bottles available on the shelves of the supermarkets and wine merchants alike came from Marlborough. But, like many others I have spoken to, I got bored of it. The super-charged tropical fruit, the green pepper, the whiff of cat-pee. I thought I’d fallen out of love with Sauvignon, where in fact I had only fallen out of love with Kiwi SB.

Last summer I spent a few days in Sancerre and got my SB mojo back, then I discovered the great value Sauvignon Blanc coming out of Chile, which is this week’s #newwinethisweek

Chile Flag

Chile is the 8th largest wine producing country in the world and second to Argentina in South America. The country itself is a geographical masterpiece, spanning 2,700 miles from north to south, yet only 100 miles wide. Chile has been described as “a winegrower’s paradise” due to its wide array of terroirs and climates. The country is perhaps best known for the chocolaty and herbal Carménère (which we covered back in week 2) but is also gaining a reputation for the quality of it’s white wines, namely Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Chile Map

The Sauvignons are just so damn drinkable; crisp and grassy with bright fruit and erlegant acidity, there really isn’t a lot to dislike about these wines, especially those from quality areas such as the Casablanca and Elqui valleys. As well as delighting the senses, these wines are also very pleasing to the pocket, so I hope you’re all looking forward to some of the best value for money bottles of the entire year!


Cono Sur Bicicleta Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Tesco £6.99)

Montes Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Casablanca Valley (Tesco £7.49)

Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua Valley (Waitrose £6.66 was £9.99)

Ulmen Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Central Valley (M&S £5.99)


You know the rules… buy a bottle, have a slurp and tell us what you think!





#newwinethisweek Week 35 – Aussie Shiraz

Shiraz in Australia, Syrah everywhere else; whatever you call it this is one of the best red wine grapes in the world, producing fruity and intense wines that are enjoyed all over the globe. Most famous perhaps as the grape of the Northern Rhone, producing world-famous wines from Côte Rôtie and Hermitage, Syrah has spread all over the wine-growing world.


This week we are focusing on Australia in particular, so Shiraz is the word. I can’t find a conclusive reason why the Aussies call it Shiraz, but what do you expect… they call a chicken a chook and can’t even say yoghurt and pasta properly! Shiraz was also referred to as Hermitage in Oz up to the late 80s; the most famous Aussie wine of all, Penfold’s Grange, was labelled Grange Hermitage until 1989, when Hermitage was dropped due to possible confusion with the famous Rhone AOC.

Shiraz is the most planted grape in Australia these days but in the 1970s vines were being ripped out and planted due to the growing popularity of white wine. In the Barossa Valley, Peter Lehmann took a huge gamble by setting up a winery and buying the fruit from 60 family businesses which were in danger of going bust; three decades later that gamble seems too have paid off big style; the great man passed away last year but what a legacy he’s left behind. The Barossa is the heart of Shiraz production in Australia and all of my picks come from here or McLaren Value in South Australia.

Barossa map

Shiraz/Syrah produces very different grapes dependent on where it is grown. In hot climates such as the Barossa Valley, the wines are full bodied with bold, sometimes jammy fruit and delicious notes leather, anise and spicy black pepper. The higher end producers are more commonly adding a small percentage of Viognier to the to blend (up to 4%) to lighten up the wines, a technique traditionally used in the production of Côte Rôtie. At most quality levels the tannins are soft and the acidity high making Shiraz a great all-rounder and a real crowd pleaser.

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2012, South Australia (Tesco £9.99)

St Hallet Waitrose Reserve Shiraz 2012, Barossa Valley (Waitrose £11.99)

Peter Lehmann Portrait Shiraz 2012, Barossa Valley (Waitrose £9.99)

M&S Barossa Shiraz 2012 (M&S £9.99)


If you fancy pushing the boat out then these are the some of my favourites… I wish I hade some Dead Arm that was ready to be drunk… 2008 is just about ready!

Peter Lehmann Wines Eight Songs Shiraz 2010, Barossa valley (Australian Wines Online £26.55)

d´Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2008, McLaren Vale (Nickolls & Perks £31.50)

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2008, Barossa Valley (Roberson £59.95)

Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley 2009 (The Wine Society £65.00)


And if you won the lottery over the weekend how about going to the very top of the tree??

Penfold’s Grange 2008, South Australia (Waitrose £475.00)


So grab yourself a bottle of Aussie Shiraz and tell us what you think… I’m predicting a high score and some glowing reviews this week… Cheers and enjoy!




%d bloggers like this: