Monthly Archives: October 2014

#newwinethisweek Week 43 – Primitivo, Puglia

After an unusual week of non-alcoholic beverages on #newwinethisweek, Mike has come back to his senses and gone back to what he knows and loves best for week 43; we’re heading to the heel of Italy to check out Primitivo:

The Primitivo grape was introduced to Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, in the 18th century; the vast majority of Italian Primitivo is grown in the region but it still estimated to be the 12th largest planted variety in the entire country. Puglia is an excellent source of intense and alcoholic red wines, as well as Primitivo the region is also well regarded for the powerful wines made with the Negroamaro grape, but that’s for another day; this week we are focused on Primitivo.


Primitivo is a black grape that produces wines with big body, high alcohol and intense dark fruit flavours. The word ‘Primitivo’ itself roughly translates as “early one”, referring to the variety’s early-ripening nature, and recent DNA analysis has shown that Primitivo is the same variety as Zinfandel.

If it’s value for money you’re after, you’re looking in the right place. These wines certainly aren’t backwards in coming forwards, and if value was an equation between price and intensity, then Primitivo would be close to the top of the league. The fruit is black and concentrated, ripe blackberries and plums; there will be black pepper spice, liquorice notes and rustic tannins. This is a wine that often needs food; think highly flavoured pasta dished like puttanesca, or a slow and low cooked lamb shoulder… just perfect as the winter nights draw in. The other food match that keeps coming up is aubergine, such as ‘melanzane alla Parmigiana’, but I’ll leave that to you as I can stand the things!


So you’ve learnt a bit about it Primitivo, now it’s time to taste! I’m going to give the £5 Tesco option ago along with something over £10 because I think it’s a grape that a few extra pounds paid will represent a big upside in quality:

Canti Primitivo 2012, Puglia (Tesco £5.00 was £7.49)

I Crinali Primitivo 2012, Puglia (Morrisons £9.99)

Paolo Leo Primitivo di Manduria 2012, Puglia (Waitrose £10.99)

Cantine San Marzano Primitivo di Manduria ‘Falo’ 2012, Puglia (Wine & the Vine £13.95)




Wine Geek Newsletter #88

88 header

Hi Winos

I love a glass of wine at the weekend; in fact I love a glass of wine most nights (except for Monday and Tuesday, which I try and keep booze free… but often fail!) However, I am aware that wine and alcohol doesn’t play such an important part in everyone’s life. To this end, this week’s #newwinethisweek has become #nowwinethisweek and I’ve recruited my sister to recommend a few non-alcoholic drinks when these strange types come knocking at your door!

But don’t worry, there is plenty for you vinous freaks as usual with lots of supermarket deals, wine events, wine news and even an article on some decent value claret to whet your weekend whistles…

No vino

New post

Top-end Bordeaux has become unattainable to most of us since prices skyrocketed after the majestic vintages of 2009 and 2010, but a recent tasting of the 2004 vintage I found there is still some (relative!) value to be found:



We’ve got to week 42 and Mike has plumped for a non-alcoholic week at the behest of his pregnant sister. I’ve explored a few options you may want to consider for your non-drinking guests:


Supermarket wine

If you’re off to the shops this weekend why not pick up a bottle or two for yourself as well as the Schloer for your guests!

Finest Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, South Africa (Tesco £9.99 was £14.99)

Errazuriz Merlot 2012, Chile (Tesco £6.66 was £9.99)

Finest Denman Semillon 2013, Hunter Valley (Tesco £7.99 was £8.99)

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Gravières Crozes-Hermitage 2012, Rhone (Waitrose £10.99 was £13.99)

Hahn Pinot Noir 2012, California (Waitrose £9.99 was £13.99)

Yalumba Organics Shiraz 2012, South Australia (£7.49 was £9.99)

First Press Chardonnay 2012, Napa Valley (Waitrose £13.49 was £16.99)

Yalumba Organics Viognier 2012, South Australia (£7.49 was £9.99)

Bodega Santa Ana Reserve Malbec 2013, Mendoza (Morrisons £10.99 was £11.49)

Baron De Ley Rioja Gran Reserva 2004, Rioja (Morrisons £9.49 was £12.99)

Little time

Wine events

Taste of Portugal – £55

7pm, 6th November 2014

​28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen, Maddox Street, London W1S 2QH

28-50 have teamed up with Taste of Portugal to offer a fantastic Portuguese wine tasting and food event. Executive Chef Ben Mellor and Henrique Sa Pessoa, one of the Portugal’s top celebrity chefs, will be preparing a special six course menu to accompany an extensive list of Portuguese wines for an ​informal evening of gourmet delights.


The Christmas walkabout tasting – £25

7pm, Thursday 27th November 2014

Roberson, 348 Kensington High Street, London W14 8NS

The Roberson Christmas walkabout tasting has been one of the highlights of our tasting calendar for years. Around fifty wines are open and available to taste, poured by the Roberson with offerings from Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, dessert wine and Port all featuring heavily, and a few seriously decent bottles are always part of the line-up.

I wrote an article about the 2012 event, which featured a 1995 Richebourg and a fantastic Barolo from the same year (link below), and I will certainly be attending in 2014!


Wine in the news

France are officially the World Wine Tasting champions:

The best airline wine lists:

Vote in this month’s wine writing challenge (I didn’t enter again!):

Should you let the sommelier taste your wine?

More on the shambles at Tesco:

An exquisite vintage for English wine:


Light relief

My #1 comedic contributor, my Dad, has once again failed to come up with the goods this week so you’ll have to do with a few great lines from his support act, Sean Lock!

Interesting fact: a shark will only attack you if you’re wet.

I’m in therapy at the moment. I don’t need it, obviously, but I got all these psychiatrist gift vouchers for Christmas which my family clubbed together for. What I wanted was a crossbow.

A bit of advice; never read a pop-up book about giraffes.

If you permed a fox I think it’d look a bit like Mick Hucknall. I actually think it’d be kinder to perm them than hunt them. And they’d be too embarrassed to go out and bother the sheep.

So what if Jesus turned water into wine…I turned a whole student loan into Vodka once. Your move Jesus…

Thirty million acres of rainforest are being destroyed every year and I’m attempting to recycle a single jar of Marmite.

You can tell a lot about a person by which X Factor contestant they like. For example, if they like any of them, they’re complete morons.

This year I’ve asked for 400 packs of pork scratchings, I’m not going to eat them, my theory is that basically the outside of a pig, pork scratchings are a pig jigsaw.

‎One Christmas my wife said ‘surprise me’, so iIphoned her from Morocco.

I don’t mind the X-factor at all, my only problem is that it’s on TV.

‎The weird thing is they’re rivals, you know, the apple and blackberry, but in a crumble, they’re harmony.

‎When they did the autopsy on Michael Jackson they found 6 different chemicals and 2 of those were artificial colouring.

Big 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 and have a great weekend!


Wine Geek







#newwinethisweek Week 42 is #nowinethisweek!

It’s Mike’s pick this week and he’s gone for… hang on, can this be right? Week 42 is non-alcoholic drink week!!

Non alcohol

I’m actually really glad about this choice, not for my benefit obviously, but for the benefit of those who choose not to, or cannot drink alcoholic drinks. Be it religious beliefs, pregnancy, illness or just plain choice, it can make going to social gatherings a little awkward for both host and guest. I know from experience that when I plan a dinner party and The Fish asks “what have you got for the non-drinkers?” I just shrug my shoulders and ask what we have in the fridge!

My sister isn’t a great drinker, but she loves a glass of Schloer; one time she was around she gargled, pontificated and came up with a very eloquent tasting note. The next time she came around I bought 2 bottles so she could compare! But far too often, the options for our non-drinking friends are Coke, orange juice or water. So let’s have a look at a few of the options out there.

Non-alcoholic wine – I’m not sure about this one. It feels like too much of a compromise; if you’re not into booze then go for something that was designed to be booze-free! It’s a bit like when I was a vegetarian and lived on veggie-sausage sandwiches… It’s OK, I’m fully recovered these days!

Carbonate soft drinks – I mean Coke and 7up, or even worse, their “diet” counterparts. Drinks from my childhood but these days only to be consumed with fish & chips or a burger & fries!

Fruit Juice – I can dig that with breakfast or in my cheap fizz on Christmas morning! There are some very good fruit juices out there these days and these are a very god option.

Water – what are your views on bottled water? I buy the stuff but really don’t know why; surely the stuff that comes from the tap can’t be that bad… and if you’re really worried just buy a filter! And don’t get me started on fizzy water!

Mocktails – why not go the whol hog and create something bold and beautiful… with umbrellas and everything! Check out some recipes here.

So there; I’ve proved how little I know about drinks that aren’t wine, so this week all of the recommendations come from my sister Haylo, and her other half, Zar… go on, give them a go! I will… but I’ve also got my eye on a bottle of German Riesling for Friday night!

Haylo & Zar - my non-alcoholic consultants!

Haylo & Zar – my non-alcoholic consultants!

Belvoir Redsug Eldflower Presse 750ml (Tesco £2.25)

Belvoir Raspberry Lemonade 750ml (Waitrose £1.52 was £2.29)

Bottlegreen Cox Apple Presse 750ml (Tesco £2.39)

Bottlegreen Elderflower Presse 750ml (Waitrose £2.39)

Schloer Red Grape Sparkling 750ml (Waitrose £2.25)




Bordeaux 2004 – you can get value claret!


Classed-growth Bordeaux prices have gone bonkers in recent years. It has become prohibitive for many wine lovers and it feels like those with the money are treating these masterpieces as articles of visual art as opposed to a sensation for the nose and taste buds… but maybe I’m just jealous; in fact I know I am.

I have very few bottles from the 1855 classification in my personal collection; there are a handful that I picked up on my trip to the region in the summer of 2013 a couple of others I have picked up over the years when the price has been right. I have gone to other locations to get my fix of Cabernet Sauvignon, whether exploring the New World or the lesser-known satellites of Bordeaux. But sometimes, only the real thing will do.

I recently attended a horizontal tasting of seven wines from the 2004 vintage at the West London Wine School and was suitably impressed by the wines… and the prices. I have written a dozen times that we place far too much emphasis on stellar vintages in the wine world; the most important factor should always be the producer. 2004 was descried as a “classic” vintage by the Bordelaise… but these guys know how to make great wine whatever the conditions. So if the prices of 2005, 2009 and 2010 are giving you heart palpitations, look out for 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008… there are some (relative!) bargains to be had and it is still possible to affordably drink classed growth claret.


Château Prieuré-Lichine 2004, Margaux 4CC (The Wine Society £35.00)

The first time I’ve tried a wine from this château, which is produced from 80 separate parcels spread across wide area in Margaux. The nose is earth and cherries upfront, ahead of the blackcurrant, sweet baking spice, a touch of cedar and just a hint of hard green herbs. The fruit on the palate is clean and pure but there is a stalky-green note in the background. The tannins are grainy and the structure is good but there’s just not enough acidity to bring the whole thing together. Great nose, decent palate. 90 points


Château Rauzan-Segla 2004, Margaux 2CC (The Wine Society £45.00)

An extremely elegant and gentle nose where the black fruits creep up on you rather than whack you between the eyes. As well as the blackcurrant and black cherries there is a delightful wash of vanilla and a regal polish to the aromas. The texture is silky-smooth and acidity is crisp and fresh; seep black fruit and dark spice, serious concentration and a classy earthy finish. Deceptively powerful and entering its drinking window; a very good wine. 93 points


Clos de Marquis 2004, St Julien (Fine & Rare £42.00)

The second wine of Château Leoville-las-Cases, a château that believes it should be a first-growth and an ego to go with it. On the nose the fruit comes across as jammy and over-extracted as well as a little musty. There is plenty of expensive oak and spice but not one that gets me salivating. The texture is delightfully elegant and there is plenty of black fruit… but not a lot more. Approachable but linear – I would be happy if it cost £15! 88 points

Barton & Batailley

Château Leoville-Barton 2004, St Julien 2CC (The Wine Society £45.00)

Lots of rich and pure blackcurrant on the nose with sweet spice, cedar, hint of graphite and even a touch of eucalyptus. The same pure fruit comes through on the palate, but the palate is delicate and elegant. Layer upon layer of fruit and spice, all balanced by a thrilling acidity. Lots of classic Barton here – a great example of a craftsman making a quality wine in a mediocre vintage; great stuff as usual 93 points


Château Grabd-Puy Ducasse 2004, Pauillac 5CC (The Wine Society £33.00)

Aromas of broody dark fruit and some gravelly notes, with a touch of dark spice and something a bit savoury – bay perhaps? Warm alcohol on the attack and some quite unpleasant astringency – a real lack of acidity. There is some rich dark fruit there, but very little to get excited about. I just can’t get excited about this at all – the only dud of the tasting. 82 points


Château Batailley 2004, Pauillac 5CC (The Wine Society £29.00)

Pleasant blackcurrant and sweet spice on the nose with a lovely earthy undertone and a touch of pencil shaving. Lovely concentration on the palate with cassis-like fruit and a chunky body. Powerful and concentrated, very Pauillac, great value. 92 points


Château Clerc-Milon 2004, Pauillac 5CC (Berry Brothers £58.00)

Rich fruit with an underlying earthiness, even a hint of roasted meat. There is plenty of dusty, dried spice and as well as a fresh hit of mint. Supple and silky on the palate with luxurious and concentrated black fruit all nicely balanced with good acidity and a minty freshness. There is plenty of life ahead of this baby and plenty of enjoyment to be had. 93 points



Wine Geek Newsletter #87

Week 87

Hi Winos 

It’s the Mother-in-law’s birthday this weekend so I guess I’m going to have to waste… I mean take a couple of really good bottles to celebrate! Whatever your weekend celebration I hope you drink well and get yourself into less trouble than me!!



We’re staying in Spain this weekend; if you’ve never tried Verdejo before then its time to get acquainted… you’re going to love it:


Supermarket wine

Finest Premier Cru Champagne (Tesco £15.99 was £19.99)

Wairau Cove Pinot Noir 2013, NZ (Tesco £8.24 was £10.99)

Errazuriz Merlot 2012, Chile (Tesco £6.66 was £9.99)

Finest 1531 Blanquette De Limoux, anguedoc-Roussillon (Tesco £8.49 was £10.49)

Lanson Black Label Brut NV (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £20.00)

La Terrasse Chablis 2012, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £9.50 was £11.50)

Taste the Difference Ribera Del Duero 2011, Spain (Sainsbury’s £7.50 was £11.00)

Villa Maria PB Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough (Waitrose £8.39 was £11.19)

Waitrose Fairtrade Chenin Blanc 2014, Western Cape (Waitrose £5.49 was £6.99)

Loimer Kamptal Gruner Veltliner 2011, Austria (Morrisons £12.99 was £14.99)

Baron De Ley Rioja Gran Reserva 2004 (Morrisons £9.69 was £12.99)


Wine in the news

More turmoil at Tesco:

Grüner Veltliner: it’s a big deal

Global wine production set to drop in 2014:

d’Arenberg to build giant ‘Rubik’s cube’ visitor centre:

Rain hits the end of the Bordeaux 2014 vintage:


Wine events

Wednesday 22nd October, 7PM to 9PM

Ruinart Champagne Masterclass – £25.00

Roberson, 348 Kensington Hight Street, London W14 8NS

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the first vintage of Ruinart’s Rosé, so what better way to celebrate than with a Ruinart tasting? Ruinart is the oldest Champagne producer, and over the years has perfected its range of Champagnes to be some of the best in the world. At this event, Amelie Chatin of Ruinart will be talking you through a tasting of the three iconic non-vintage wines – the R de Ruinart, Blanc de Blanc and Rosé, as well as a vertical of the legendary Dom Ruinart (1993, 1998 and 2004) and, to finish, the sublime Dom Ruinart Rosé 2002.


Wednesday 3rd December, 7PM to 9PM

CVNE Rioja Masterclass – £30.00

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

C.V.N.E., or to give it its full name, Compañía Vinicola del Norte de España (The Northern Spanish Wine Company) was established on the 24th of March 1879. Set up by two brothers, Eusebio and Raimundo Real de Asúa. C.V.N.E are based in the heart of the Rioja wine region, in the town of Haro, where they have huge capacity for ageing thousands of bottles. They produce a wide range of wines with quality being the primary focus.


Light relief

I know you’re expecting a whole load of Mother-In-Law jokes… But even I’m not cruel (or courageous) enough to print the ones I found online! So how about some one-lines from the great Steven Wright – if you’ve never heard of him, be sure to look him up:

PS. If you don’t laugh, you are odd.

I used to be a narrator for bad mimes.

I was once walking through the forest alone, and a tree fell right in front of me—and I didn’t hear it.

One time, the police stopped me for speeding, and they said, “Don’t you know the speed limit is 55 miles an hour?” I said, “Yeah, I know, but I wasn’t gonna be out that long.”

For my birthday, I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier… put ’em in the same room. Let ’em fight it out.

Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time.

I’m planning a trip to Spain. So I bought an album that teaches you the language. Put the album on, you put headphones on, you learn the language while you’re sleeping. During the night, the record skipped. I get up the next day, I could only stutter in Spanish. 

One night, I stayed up all night playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.

I broke a mirror in my house. I’m supposed to get seven years bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.

I like to reminisce with people I don’t know. Granted, it takes longer.

I like to fill my tub up with water, then turn the shower on and act like I’m in a submarine that’s been hit.

You know when you’re sitting on a chair, and you lean back so you’re just on two legs, and then you lean too far and you almost fall over, but just at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time.

I have map of the United States, it’s actual size. It says one mile=one mile.

I got up the other day and everything in my apartment had been stolen and replaced with an exact replica.

I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately. Abstract painting—extremely abstract. No brush, no canvas. I just think about it.

One time I went to a museum where all the work was done by children. They had all the paintings up on refrigerators.

I like my dental hygienist. I think she’s very pretty. So whenever I go to have my teeth cleaned, while I’m in the waiting room I eat an entire box of Oreo cookies.

One time I went to the drive-in in a cab. Movie cost me $95.

I went into a place to eat, it said “breakfast anytime.” So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.

A while ago, I was in Las Vegas at the roulette table, having a furious argument over what I considered to be an “odd” number.

I have two very rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car. The other one is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child.

The Stones—I love the Stones. I can’t believe they’re still doing it after all these years. I watch ’em whenever I can. Fred, Barney…

Friday I was in a bookstore. I started talking to this very French-looking girl. She was a bilingual illiterate—she couldn’t read in two different languages.

My bus came and I sat down next to this beautiful blonde Chinese girl. I said, “Hello,” and she said, “Hello.” And I said, “Isn’t it an amazing day?” And she said, “Yes, it is, I guess.” I said, “What do you mean, you guess?” She said, “Well, things haven’t been going too well for me lately.” I said, “like what?” She said, ” I can’t tell you, I don’t even know you.” I said, “Yeah, but sometimes it’s good to tell your problems to an absolute, total stranger on a bus.” She said, “Well, I just came back from my analyst, and he’s still unable to help me.” I said, “What’s the problem?” She paused and said, “I’m a nymphomaniac and I only get turned on by Jewish cowboys.” And she said, “By the way, my name is Diane.” I said, “Hello, Diane, I’m Bucky Goldstein.”

For a while I lived in Vermont with a guy named Winny. We lived in a house that ran on static electricity. If we wanted to cook something, we had to take a sweater off real quick. If we wanted to run a blender, we had to rub balloons on our head.

The ice cream truck in my neighborhood plays “Helter Skelter.”

Drink less 

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 41 – Verdejo, Rueda


After the success of Rioja last week, we’ll keep it Spanish for week 41 and balance the scales with an interesting white wine selection. I was first introduced to Verdejo around ten years ago when I went to my local wine merchant and asked him to expand my horizons. At the time my white wine choices were almost exclusively Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire and New Zealand, and New World Riesling. Jez (My Wine Hero) had no hesitation in picking out this Spanish white and I have been a fan ever since.

Verdejo’s home is the Rueda region, an inland area to the west of Ribero del Duero. Originally the grape was used to make oxidised wines in the sherry mould until the 1970s when a few winemakers began making a fresher style, earning Rueda a sound reputation, which was recognised as a Denominación de Origen (DO) in 1980. Verdejo is considered by many to be one of Spain’s standout wine grapes, along with Albarino and Godello (Godello’s time is coming!)


One of the more interesting facts about Verdejo is that the grapes are often harvested at night due to the high daytime temperatures in Rueda, producing aromatic, crisp and often full-bodied wines.

This is a white wine that you Sauvignon fans are going to love… and it’s going to give you something else to order the next time you head out for a good dose of tapas! Now go and buy a bottle and see whether it finds a place in your repertoire, like it is certainly has on mine.

Los Molinos Verdeco 2013, Valdepeñas (Tesco £5.99)

Waitrose Rueda Verdejo 2013, Rueda (Waitrose £6.39 was £7.99)

Nekora Rueda Verdejo 2012, Rueda (M&S £9.99)

Protos Verdejo 2013, Rueda (Wine & the Vine £10.55)







Wine Geek Newsletter #86

Week 86


Hi Winos

Another week crossed off, another week closer to Christmas; it’ll be time to start thinking about what you’ll be drinking before you know it (do you like that catchy little ditty??). Anyway, this week’s #newwinethisweek features one of my Christmas selections from last year’s feast; a big favourite of many, Rioja. As well as that there are some cracking supermarket deals, a couple of new events and all of the usual nonsense, so plenty to get you through your fabulous weekend!



Many people’s go-to wine, but how many of you know what’s in the bottle and how it’s been aged… it’s time to learn a bit more about Rioja:


Supermarket wine

This week there are some nice offers at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose; some nice fizzy deals, a few big-hitting reds and a couple of new world whites:

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Tesco £24.74 was £32.99)

Castillo San Lorenzo Gran Reserva 2007, Rioja (Tesco £9.99 was £15.99)

Finest White Burgundy 2012 (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)

Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne NV (Sainsbury’s £20.00 was £34.00)

Taste the Difference Ribera Del Duero 2011 (Sainsbury’s £7.50 was £9.00)

Taste the Difference Chilean Chardonnay 2012 (Sainsbury’s £6.50 was £8.00)

First Press Chardonnay 2012, Napa Valley (Waitrose £13.49 was £16.99)

Jean-Luc Colombo Crozes-Hermitage 2012 (Waitrose £10.49 was £13.99)

Yalumba Organics Shiraz 2013, South Australia (Waitrose £7.49 was £9.99)

Carrara Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano 2009, Tuscany (Morrisons £9.49 was £10.99)

Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Marlborough (Morrisons £6.59 was £9.99)

Wine glass

Wine in the news

Bordeaux concern about a grape-rotting fly:

Are the discounters disruptive?

The 8-step hangover guide… I’ll try it out this weekend!

More controversy heading Bordeaux’s way!


Wine events

Thursday 13th November, 7PM to 9PM

Bordeaux walkabout tasting – £40

Roberson, 348 Kensington Hight Street, London W14 8NS

More than 40 great wines will be open from quality producers including Gruaud-Larose, Pichon-Baron, Grand-Puy-Lacoste and many more. You can work your way around at your own pace, dipping in and out, or take them in order and compare the wines of the different sub-regions such as Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. Experts from some of the châteaux themselves will be on-hand to answer questions.


Monday 17th November, 7PM to 9PM

Guigal Château d’Ampuis Côte-Rôtie Vertical 1995-2009 – £95

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

Domaine Guigal is the most famous producer of Cote Rotie in the Rhone valley. Guigal also produces great wines from a myriad of appellations in the Rhone valley including; Chateauneuf du Pape, Hermitage and Cote Rotie. The benchmark for quality in the appellation is set by Guigal Cote Rotie wines. Vintages on Tasting: 1995, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009.


Light relief


A newlywed couple moves into their new house. One day the husband comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, you know, in the upstairs bathroom one of the pipes is leaking, could you fix it?” The husband says, “What do I look like, Mr. Plumber?” A few days go by, and he comes home from work and his wife says, “Honey, the car won’t start. I think it needs a new battery. Could you change it for me?” He says: “What do I look like, Mr. Goodwrench?” Another few days go by, and it’s raining pretty hard. The wife finds a leak in the roof. She says, “Honey, there’s a leak on the roof! Can you please fix it?” He says, “What do I look like, Bob Vila?” The next day the husband comes home, and the roof is fixed. So is the plumbing. So is the car. He asks his wife what happened. “Oh, I had a handyman come in and fix them,” she says. “Great! How much is that going to cost me?” he snarls. Wife says: “Nothing. He said he’d do it for free if I either baked him a cake or slept with him.” “Uh, well, what kind of cake did you make?” asks the husband. “What do I look like,” she says, “Betty Crocker?”

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer, “This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.” The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the quarters and leaves. “What did I tell you?” said the barber. “That kid never learns!” Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store. “Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?” The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar, the game is over!”

Three guys, stranded on a desert island, find a magic lantern containing a genie, who grants them each one wish. The first guy wishes he was off the island and back home. The second guy wishes the

A guy has a talking dog. He brings it to a talent scout. “This dog can speak English,” he claims to the unimpressed agent. “Okay, Sport,” the guys says to the dog, “what’s on the top of a house?” “Roof!” the dog replies. “Oh, come on…” the talent agent responds. “All dogs go ‘roof’.” “No, wait,” the guy says. He asks the dog “what does sandpaper feel like?” “Rough!” the dog answers. The talent agent gives a condescending blank stare. He is losing his patience. “No, hang on,” the guy says. “This one will amaze you. ” He turns and asks the dog: “Who, in your opinion, was the greatest baseball player of all time?” “Ruth!” goes the dog. And the talent scout, having seen enough, boots them out of his office onto the street. And the dog turns to the guy and says “Maybe I shoulda said DiMaggio?”

Three kids come down to the kitchen and sit around the breakfast table. The mother asks the oldest boy what he’d like to eat. “I’ll have some fuckin’ French toast,” he says. The mother is outraged at his language, hits him, and sends him upstairs. She asks the middle child what he wants. “Well, I guess that leaves more fuckin’ French toast for me,” he says. She is livid, smacks him, and sends him away. Finally she asks the youngest son what he wants for breakfast. “I don’t know,” he says meekly, “but I definitely don’t want the fuckin’ French toast.”

A guy is sitting at home when he hears a knock at the door. He opens the door and sees a snail on the porch. He picks up the snail and throws it as far as he can. Three years later, there’s a knock on the door. He opens it and sees the same snail. The snail says “What the hell was that all about?”

A guy meets a hooker in a bar. She says, “This is your lucky night. I’ve got a special game for you. I’ll do absolutely anything you want for $300, as long as you can say it in three words.” The guy replies, “Hey, why not?” He pull his wallet out of his pocket, and one at a time lays three hundred-dollar bills on the bar, and says, slowly: “Paint…my…house.”


The boring stuff

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Wine Geek




#newwinethisweek Week 40 – Rioja Tinto, Spain


We originally set up #newwinethisweek to explore new grapes varieties and new wine regions; to expand our horizons and avoid the default choice on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday night etc! But sometimes it’s great to just go for something you know, something reliable, something comforting.

One of those go-to wines is Rioja, the king of Spanish reds. Rioja has become a brand name and I often wonder whether the majority of people picking it up off the supermarket shelf realise it is a place and not a grape; Sancerre, Chablis and Chianti also suffer the same misunderstanding for the most part I’m sure. But that is often the problem with old world wine; you are expected to know what’s in the bottle by solving the puzzle on the label… so let’s make things simple…

Rioja Map


Rioja is an inland region in northeast Spain, which produces red (tinto), white (blanco) and rosé (roasado) wines. It was the first region in Spain to be granted Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) status, which is awarded to regions with a proven track record of consistent quality; currently there are only two such regions in Spain; Rioja and Priorat. We are focusing on the famous red wines of Rioja this week, where the dominant grape is Tempranillo. Most of the red wines are usually a blend of grapes however, which might also include Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo, and there are an increasing number of bodegas including Cabernet Sauvignon, which personally I feel is a bit of a shame, but I’m a traditionalist.

The other thing a Rioja label will tell you (if you know what to look for) is how long the wine has been matured for; there are four classification levels in Rioja, each with strict rules on how long, and in what, the wine must be aged; this classification must be declared at the time the grapes are harvested, so a wine maker can’t start out making a Crianza and then decide its looking great and “upgrade” to a Reserva, for example.

Rioja – if that’s all the label says the wine will have spent less than a year ageing in an oak; if the word “Joven” appears on the label it will not have seen any oak at all. These wines are designed for very early drinking and possess very fresh red fruit flavours

Rioja Crianza must be aged for at least two years, at least one of which was in oak. Again these wine are very approachable early on their life, with flavours of strawberry and just a hint of vanilla for the short time in oak.

Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, of which at least one year is in oak. These wines have more complexity and are often best drunk a couple of years after release so the fruit and sweet spice notes can come together in a delicious and harmonious way.

Rioja Gran Reserva wines will be aged at least five years, with two of those years in oak. Many producers choose to age their Gran Reservas for even longer, often another four to eight years, but the Marqués de Murrieta 1942 Gran Reserva wasn’t released until 1983… after 41 years of aging! Expect lots of complexity and plenty of vanilla and coconut in beautiful harmony with the elegant red fruit.

This classification isn’t a guarantee of quality; a good winemaker’s Crianza can be far better than a poor winemaker’s Gran Reserva. The wines are just different in style.

So we know where it’s from, what’s in the bottle and how long it has been aged… let’s got onto drinking some with a few recommendations; where possible I’ve selected a couple of different classifications within each retailer:


Finest Viña Mara Rioja Crianza 2009 (Tesco £7.99)

Finest Viña Mara Rioja Reserva 2009 (Tesco £9.49)

Finest Viña Mara Rioja Gran Reserva 2007 (Tesco £11.49)

CUNE Rioja Reserva 2009 (Waitrose £12.99)

Baron de Ley Gran Reserva Rioja 2007 (Waitrose £19.99)

Romeral Rioja Crianza 2010 (M&S £7.49)

Marquès del Romeral Rioja Reserva 2008 (£11.99)

Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2009 (Aldi £5.99)

Or how about trying Decanter magazine’s top wine of 2013?

Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva 2001 (Sainsbury’s £18.00)


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






Wine Geek Newsletter #85

News 85
Hi Winos

Plenty for you to get stuck into this week with wine from pre WWII, some party fizz for #newwinethisweek, more fizz in the supermarket deals and some genuinely funny jokes… honest! If that’s not enough for you then you need to go and order a pint of lager from the nearest pub and we’ll say goodbye forever!


New post

I’ve been a bit slack with any original writing of late, but this one was certainly worth waiting for. Domaine Huet in Vouvray is regarded as one of the best producers of Chenin Blanc by anyone who knows anything about wine; this was an amazing opportunity to taste the domaine’s history… beginning with a bottle from the 1934 vintage, which tasted so fresh and full of life it was ridiculous:



Well it had to come didn’t it… this week sees every wine shop on Anglesey sold out as my Mum goes mad on the Prosecco!


Supermarket wine


This week let’s start with some fizzy deals from Waitrose… well it is Prosecco week!

Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore (Waitrose £8.99 was £13.49)
Freixenet Excelencia Vintage Cava 2011 (Waitrose £7.99 was £10.99)
Chapel Down NV Vintage Reserve, Kent (Waitrose £14.99 was £20.79)
Duval-Leroy Premier Cru NV, Champagne (Waitrose £21.99 was £29.99)

And if you’re not posh enough for Watrose, here’s a few deals from Tesco and Sainsbury’s:

Finest Pouilly Fume 2012, Loire (Tesco £8.99 was £9.99)
Castillo San Lorenzo Gran Reserva 2007, Rioja (Tesco £9.99 was £15.99)
Finest Chateau Fonguillon Montagne St Emilion 2012, Bordeaux (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)
Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2012, Chile (Tesco £6.66 was £9.99)
Finest Crozes Hermitage 2011, Rhone (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)
Mondelli Chianti Riserva 2011 (Sainsbury’s £6.75 was £9.00)
Torre De Azevedo Vinho Verde 2013, Portugal (Sainsbury’s £5.50 was £7.75)


Wine in the news

All 73 Italian DOCGs… don’t even get started on the grapes!

Fans of Villa Maria wines will enjoy this one:

Quantity and quality for Burgundy 2014:

London Cru to make a 100% English wine:

Tesco Finest to come as “bag in box”:


Wine events

Friday 24th October, 7PM to 9PM
Super Fine Wine Tasting – £95
West London Wine School, The Wine Cellars, Big Yellow Storage, 71 Townmead Road, Fulham, SW6 2ST
Fancy trying 9 of the very best wines available in a single setting? Great producers including Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Gaja and JJ Prum? Great communes of Puligny-Montrachet, Vouvray and Napa? Book a place on this amazing tasting while there are still a few tickets left… see you there!

Wednesday 15th October, 6.30PM to 8.30PM
Lopez de Heredia Rioja Masterclass – £95
Handford Wines, 105 Old Brompton Road, SW7 3LE
Taste 12 wines from this loved bastion of Rioja in the company of Jose- Luis Ripa, including Gran Reservas from 1964, 1973, 1981, 1991 and 1994.


Light relief


I am so sorry about the poor quality of jokes recently (although I know you love them really!) so here are a few out of the top drawer that really did make me LOL this week!

A man goes to the doctor and says: ‘Doctor, there’s a piece of lettuce sticking out of my bottom.’ The doctor asks him to drop his trousers and examines him.
The man asks: ‘Is it serious, doctor?’ and the doctor replies: ‘I’m sorry to tell you, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.’

A man left for work one Friday afternoon. Instead of going home, he stayed out the entire weekend playing golf with the boys and spending all his wages.
When he finally got home on Sunday night, he was confronted by his very angry wife.
After two hours, she stopped nagging and said: ‘How would you like it if you didn’t see me for two or three days?’ He replied: ‘That would be fine with me.’
Monday went by and he didn’t see his wife. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results. Thursday, the swelling went down just enough for him to see her a little out of the corner of his left eye.

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience was different each week so he did same tricks over and over. The problem was, the captain’s parrot saw all the shows and began to understand how the magician did every trick.
He started shouting in the middle of the show: ‘Look, it’s not the same hat. Look, he’s hiding the flowers under the table. Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?’
The magician was furious but, as it was the captain’s parrot, he could do nothing. Then one day the ship sank and the magician found himself floating on a piece of wood with the parrot.
They glared at each other but said nothing. Finally, after a week, the parrot said: ‘OK, I give up. Where’s the boat?’

A penguin walks into a shop and asks the assistant: ‘Do you have any grapes?’ ‘No,’ he replies.
The same thing happens the next day and on the third day the assistant replies: ‘No, and if you come in asking for grapes again I will nail your flippers to the floor!’
Next day the penguin walks in and asks: ‘Got any nails?’ ‘No,’ replies the assistant. ‘Got any grapes?’ the penguin asks.

I stopped at a friend’s house the other day and found him stalking around with a fly-swatter. When I asked if he was getting any flies, he answered: ‘Yeah, three males and two females.’
Curious, I asked how he could tell the difference. He said: ‘Three were on a beer can and two were on the phone.’

Patient: Doctor, doctor. I’ve come out in spots like cherries on a cake.
Doctor: Ah, you must have analogy.

A man goes to the vet about his dog’s fleas. The vet says: ‘I’m sorry, I’ll have to put this dog down.’ The man is incredulous and asks why. The vet says: ‘Because he’s far too heavy.’


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

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