Author Archives: Confessions of a Wine Geek

Fish & Chips & Blanc de Blancs… & English Fizz

I campaigned to get Blanc de Blancs to represent ‘B’ in the #newwinethisweek alphabet for a fair few reasons:

  1. Blanc de Blancs is my favourite expression of Champagne (yes it can also come from elsewhere!)
  2. Its another excuse for a trip to the chippy
  3. Its another excuse to try English Fizz… almost…
Three great reasons

Three great reasons

Let me start at the end and explain my “almost” comment about English fizz. My favourite bubbly from the UK is Camel Valley’s 2009 Brut Chardonnay. I have reviewed it numerous times on this blog and really considered writing about it again, but I couldn’t as it’s sold out anyway! Instead I decided to look for another English Blanc de Blancs in the supermarkets with absolutely zero success. Not to be defeated, I bent the rules a little… or a lot if 100% truth be told. As many of you will be aware, I am in the process of opening a wine bar, so this was a great opportunity to try out a wine I have been eyeing up for the list for some time. It is the Jenkyn Place Brut 2010 and it is made with Chardonnay…. Well, 60% of it is anyway!

The Jenkyn Place Vineyard was founded Simon and Rebecca Bladon, who purchased Jenkyn Place in 1997. The estate is located in Hampshire, England and the first vines were planted as recently as 2004 and currently farms just under 5 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines. The make-up of the 2010 Brut is 60% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier and it is made in the methode traditionelle. The wine spent 42 months on it’s lees and this 2010 vintage was disgorged in October 2014.


Jenkyn Place Brut 2010 (Christopher Piper Wines £27.08)

Starbright lemon with a lovely gentle stream of bubbles in the glass. Notes of brioche and bags lemons on the nose; linear but delicious. Delicate mousse on the palate, bone dry and I get the impression of sucking lemons; so much citrus it explodes all over the mouth like a lemon sorbet; absolutely delicious. The finish is long with gentle yeast, all carried by the wonderful acidity. My gums are still tingling 60 seconds later. Lovely stuff. 91 points

I make no apology for my little digression, but now let’s get back on track and discuss Blanc de Blancs for real. And I didn’t lie about the fish & chips; the haddock (slightly dry) and chips (superb) from the Crispy Cod in Worcester were enjoyable, but the real star of the show was created from Chardonnay alone.

Deutz label

The Deutz house is based the Aÿ region of Champagne and was originally formed as Deutz Geldermann in 1838. The house was acquired by Louis Roederer in 1983 and became a fully-fledged part of the Louis Roederer portfolio of wineries in 1993. Interestingly, the house style usually high includes a high proportion of Pinot Noir, but in the very best years they produce a 100% Chardonnay Blancs de Blanc, as they did in 2007. Another reason to head the way of Deutz is their reslote stance on refusing to supply wines to supermarkets and national chains… long live the indie!

The grapes for the 2007 Blanc de Blancs come mainly from Avize, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Villers-Marmery and the terroirs of Oger, Cramant and Chouilly, with over 80% of the grapes coming from vineyards that are rated Premier or Grand Cru.

The grapes were pressed using automatic and traditional Coquard basket presses, and only the first press must was used. The wine was fermented in small tanks, with each plot vinified separately, before the final blend was aged on the lees for 36 months.

Deutz bottle

Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2007 (Christopher Piper Wines £59.28)

Before I get onto the wine I have to tell you how much I love the elegant, lower shouldered, narrow necked bottle – there, I sound like a fashion blogger now! Gentle, certainly not over-vigorous stream of bubbles, this wine comes to life when you stick your nose in the glass. The aromas are creamy and yeast-laden, rich and unctuous; if I close my eyes I could be standing in a posh Parisian patisserie. The palate is also rich and creamy with gentle, almost polite, acidity. The fruit is baked apples, all wrapped up in a nutty, buttery pastry duvet. The finish goes on and on and is very class indeed. 93 points (another 9/10 in #newwinethisweek speak!)


That’s 2 out of 2 for #newwinethisweek 2015… I hope whatever you choose for ‘C’ lives up


A is for Amarone

B is for Blanc de Blanc

C is for ???













#newwinethisweek – “B” is for Blanc de Blancs


The votes have been counted and your selection of Blanc de Blancs to represent the letter ‘B’ in the #newwinethisweek alphabet is a victory for both common sense and hedonism!

For those of you who don’t know, Blanc de Blanc on a bottle of bubbly means the wine has been made using white grapes only; translated into English, the phrase simply means, “white wine made from white grapes.” The majority of wines that come from that most famous fizz region Champagne are a blend of white (Chardonnay) and red (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) grapes; Blanc de Blancs Champagne will almost certainly be made from 100% Chardonnay (there are rare occurrences featuring the use of Pinot Blanc). If you see Blanc de Noirs then the content will be a white wine made from only black grapes (white from black, you see).


Blanc de Blancs made with Chardonnay will provide all of the characteristics you expect from a still wine made in the same region. The Blanc de Blancs of champagne are characterised by fruity aromas and flavours of apple and peach, very often with a delicious and indulgent creamy note… this is by far my favourite expression of Champagne and I am looking forward to indulging this week.

However, Blanc de Blancs isn’t constrained to Champagne alone; most of the regions that produce bubbly will have their own examples:

Jura: many of the cremants are made using Chardonnay and Savignin

Loire: plenty of fizz made with Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc

Bordeaux: fabulous froth from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon

Burgundy: Chardonnay, Aligote and Pinot Blanc

Alsace: Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay

There is also an increasing amount of Chardonnay being used to make Cava these days. When blended with local grapes Xarello & Parellada they produce a Spanish Blanc de Blancs, our should that be ‘Blanco des Blancos’?? And don’t forget about the wonderful fizz of England; some of the very best are 100% Chardonnay and the thought of popping a cork is making me dribble with anticipation!

Camel Valley

There is no shortage of options this week so get on out there are find a bottle of fizz made using only white grapes; celebrate the end of January in style!




Wine Geek Newsletter #98

Week 98

Hi Winos

Has it really been a whole week since the last newsletter? Where the hell did it go? Things are moving on apace with the wine bar; we have agreed terms on fantastic premises in Cheltenham and are awaiting the lease to sign away the next 6 years of our lives! To take all of our minds off such important matters, how about your weekly dose of information and nonsense… including some hugely inappropriate jokes courtesy of my Dad and Motörhead!


New posts

There are a couple of #newwinethisweek posts this week; the first tells of my spectacular encounter with Amarone, the second encouraging you to do the right things and vote for a decent selection to represent ‘B’ in the #newwinethisweek alphabet.

A spectacular kick off to the #newwinethisweek alphabet:

I beg you to vote for an exciting selection to represent ‘B’ – I don’t often beg you to click on a link, but this time I am!!

Supermarket wine
I thought the wine multi-buy was dead in the supermarkets… no-one told Sainsbury’s who are running a half-decent 2 for £12 promo until 10th Feb:

Bergerac Grande Reserve Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Bergerac, France (usually £8.50)
Closieres Picpoul De Pinet, Languedoc, France (usually £8.00)
Elegant Frog Viognier, Languedoc, France (usually £8.00)
Taste the Difference Merlot, Chile (usually £8.00)
Taste the Difference Pinotage, South Africa (usually £8.00)

Health & Beauty
Wine in the news 2014

Champagne sales the second highest in history:

Wine merchant Vagabond to open third site:

US facing a third bumper harvest in a row:

10 thing every wine lover should know about DRC – it is my dream to attend a tasting at Pinot heaven!

And let’s finish off with the greatest wine blog in the world!

Light relief

Golf balls (credit – Dad):
A man got on the bus with both of his front trouser pockets full of golf balls and sat down next to a beautiful woman. The puzzled lady kept looking at him and his bulging pockets.
Finally, after many glances from her, he said, “It’s golf balls.”
The woman continued to look at him for a very long time, thinking deeply about what he had said.
After several minutes, not being able to contain her curiosity any longer, she asked, “Does it hurt as much as tennis elbow?”

The prawn and the cod (credit – Motörhead documentary “The guts & the glory”):
In the shark-infested waters of the Caribbean, two prawns called Justin and Christian are discussing the pressures of being a preyed-upon prawn. “I hate being a prawn,” says Justin. “I wish I were a shark.” Suddenly, a mysterious cod appears. “Your wish is granted,” he says. Instantly, Justin becomes a shark. Horrified, Christian swims away, afraid his former friend might eat him. As time passes, Christian continues to avoid Justin, leaving the shrimp-turned-man-eater lonely and frustrated. So when he bumps into the cod again, he begs the mysterious fish to change him back. Lo and behold, Justin is turned back into a prawn. With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes, he swims back to the reef to seek out Christian. As he approaches, he shouts out: “It’s me, Justin, your old friend. I’ve changed… I’ve found Cod. I’m a prawn again, Christian.”

Bread or wine?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

It really is an A for Amarone!

I have been a bit slack with the first wine of #newwinethisweek. It has nothing to do with the massive alcohol content in January, or the sometimes eye-watering prices of the first wine… I’ve just been too bloody busy! But enough of my January woes, I managed to get myself a bottle of ‘A’ for Amarone eventually.

I was having a mooch around Costco today (very impressive wine range if you have a card!) and picked up a young Amarone for about £15… then I spotted a boxed wine, like you often get with grand marque Champagne, in the middle of the reds, with a familiar logo. It was the Masi logo, one of the greatest producers of Valpolicella. It was priced at £18.49. Wow. This is Costco; add the VAT and it came to £22.19. Still wow. We’ve seen from earlier comments that you get very little for under £20, so this looked like a real bargain (in the context of Amarone).

With box

I have one small gripe. The unboxed bottle on the shelf underneath was from the 2009 vintage, when I got home I discovered the bottle in my box was from 2010; Amarone is a wine that rewards ageing and I was a bit miffed to miss out on 12 months of maturation… but I needn’t have worried so much (although the AOC did declare 2010 only a 4* rating compared the perfect 5* in 2009 – it’s fine, I’m over it).

Let’s get down to the wine itself, which is the Masi ‘Costasera’ Amarone Classico 2010 (Costco £22.19). Costasera the name of the vineyard from where the grapes are sourced; the slopes face the sunset and the Masi winemakers believe these west-facing slopes reflecting in Lake Garda to be the superior sites for growing Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara in the Valpolicella Classico region. The grapes are dried on bamboo mats for around 100 days in temperature and humidity- controlled- rooms, before being pressed. The wine is then aged for 24 months; 80% in huge Slavonian oak casks, 20% in small Allier and Slavonian oak barrels (40% new, 30% 1 year old, 30% 2 year old) and then aged for a further 4 months in bottle before release.


I decanted the wine 2 hours before drinking and the room was filled with the sweet notes of expensive, aged balsamic vinegar… did I really have to wait 2 months to drink it? When slurp time arrived the wine poured viscous and slowly into the waiting glass. The colour was opaque, with a bright crimson rim; the aromas were heady with dark fruit notes of damson, plum and black cherry, all underpinned with bitter chocolate, balsamic and even a hint of sweet butterscotch. The wine coats the mouth beautifully, the texture smooth and rich. The black fruits are reminiscent of a beautifully made damson and blackberry jam, deep and concentrated, the sweetness coming through at the end. There is a chocolate note supporting the fruit and that wonderful balsamic sweet & sour carrying through to a very decent length finish of ripe black cherries dipped in dark, bitter chocolate. 93 points (9/10 in #newwinethisweek currency)

If ‘A’ is anything to go by, 2015 is going to be a great year for #newwinethisweek!


To choose what will represent ‘B’ in the #newwinethisweek alphabet, have a look at the options and cast your vote:

#newwinethisweek – The options for ‘B’…





#newwinethisweek – B is for…

Mike and a few eager beavers have got stuck into some Amarones for “A” and left their scores…. I must admit that I haven’t got round to it yet but will be heading for M&S in the next day or so to right that wrong and leave my reviw:


In the meantime, it’s your chance to select the second topic of the #newwinethisweek alphabet by voting for your favourite choice for the letter “B”. There are a few options for you to choose from, here’s an overview of the contenders:

“B” is for….

I shouldn’t try and influence the vote… but I’ve never been one to listen so I’ll start with the options I think you should not vote for, with meticulously argued reasons why:


Not a common name on the UK shelves but, believe it or not, Bonarda is the second most planted grape variety in Argentina. I love trying new stuff but worried we’re going to have an issue getting hold of this one.

Burgundy or Bordeaux

I love wines from both of these amazing regions… but the areas are far too large, with too man sub-regions to cover off in a single topic! Let’s wait for “M” for Medoc or “P” for Pomerol to discover Bordeaux, or how about “G” for Gevrey-Chambertin or “V” for Volnay (please let “V” be Volnay!!) to discover Burgundy

Barolo or Barbera

We’ve done Italy for “A”, we did Barbera in week 4 2014, and do you really want to spend £30 in January to get anything decent from Barolo?


Now for the real contenders (in alphabetical order, I will influence no more!):



One of the most underappreciated region in France; located in Provence, producing mostly red wines using Mouvedre as the base grape(there are whites and rosés too), Bandol is a great warming choice for January

Barossa Barossa

The home of Shiraz but there is so much more to the Barossa. The valley is also home to some word class Riesling, Semillon, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and some fabulous fortified wines.

Blanc de BlancsBlanc de Blancs

Fizz was very popular in #newwinethisweek last year; how about trying fizz made from white grapes only? Blanc d Blancs is my preferred style of Champagne (BdB is also made in most fizz producing regions) and if you thought you didn’t like Chardonnay, this selection may well change your mind.


The largest of ten “Crus” in the Beaujolais region, Brouilly shows the Gamay grape at its freshest and most vibrant.


So there you go. Have a think and then click on the link below and make your selection… what will represent “B” in the 2015 #newinethisweek wine alphabet? You have until Sunday 25th January to make your choice:




Wine Geek Newsletter #97

News 97

Hi Winos

How’s it going out there in the real world? It turns out that starting a business isn’t all lie-ins and daytime TV; it’s more like meetings with Estate Agents, Banks, Solicitors, Design Agencies, Accountants, Local Councils, HMRC… and that was just today! The good news is that we are currently in negotiations for great premises and if all goes to plan (which it never does!) we are hoping to have The Grape Escape Wine Bar & Merchant open sometime in April

Until then I’m just twiddling my thumbs and looking for stuff to do… I wish! But I haven’t forgotten about you all so here is your weekly dose of wine info and nonsense, all packed into one perfectly formed Wine Geek Newsletter!


New posts

#newwinethisweek was a real success in 2014 so we are going to keep it going this year, but on a more leisurely fortnightly basis. That makes 26 topics for 2015, one for each letter of the alphabet…

And there is no messing about as we kick off with Amarone, a real blockbuster of a wine that will have you asking “what New Year resolutions?”


Supermarket wine

This is a bit of a weird section for mw this year, as come April I won’t want anyone buying and wine from anybody except me! I’m going to keep the section going for now… but I do hear that the supermarkets in Cheltenham are worse than anywhere else in the country (hint, hint!)

I got some Majestic vouchers for Christmas (thanks Dad!) and this is what I bought on my visit to the wine warehouse earlier this week (you get proper notes this week!)

L’Extra par Langlois Brut NV Crémant de Loire (£14.99, £11.24 in 25% Mix & Match)
Don’t bother looking for Champagne. You won’t find anything as good as this for the twice the price. The domaine is owned by Bollinger and we visited the tasting room just outside Saumur about 18 months ago. They sell it for about €8 there… but don’t let that put you off! This is fruit-driven bubbly goodness, with loads of crisp apple and citrus. It’s a Bland de Blancs made from Chadonnay and Chenin Blanc and you really get that honeyed hit from the Chenin. Lovely stuff.

Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012 (£17.99, £11.98 in 33% Mix & Match)
Leflaive is one of the best winemakers in the world; a bottle of his Montrachet Grand Cru will cost you a cool £3,000 a bottle! Olivier now buys in fruit from all over Burgundy and makes this fantastic entry level white Burgundy at a very sexy price. Peach & citrus with a lick of oak; sophisticated, elegant and superb with roast chicken

Martín Codax As Caixas Godello 2013 (£9.99, £6.66 in 33% Mix & Match)
Albariño has been “then next big thing from Spain” for a while now. I love the stuff, that delightful mixture of clean citrus, peach and that lovely salty finish… but it is about to be usurped by it’s Galician neighbour, Godello. I don’t actually like the Codax Albariño but the Godello is packed with apple and melon flavours, a lovely rich texture and just a delightful floral finish. If you having fish, have Godello too.

Domaine Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (£12.99, £8.65 33% Mix & Match)
Ah, didn’t Picpoul become the “cool” choice a couple of years ago? Well I’m still in! Along with Muscadet this is a wine that should never go out of fashion because there is simply nothing not too like. It was perfect with my homemade prawn curry; citrus and crisp apple, ocean-fresh, you can almost taste the Mediterranean sea on the finish. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this one is just for the summer.

Matua Pinot Noir Marlborough 2013 (£12.99, £8.65 33% Mix & Match)
This is a great go-to wine. I love Burgundy but have you tried getting a decent bottle under £10? I gave up 5 years ago! This has a meaty and ripe cherry nose with a lovely minerality and smoky note. The fruit just explodes onto the palate; cherries, raspberries and even a touch of blackberry. Great intensity of fruit and a delightful texture; very good wine.

E Guigal Cotes du Rhône 2011 (£11.99, £8.99 25% Mix & Match)
I may have recommended this one a couple of time before… it remains the best red wine under £10 in the UK (when it’s in promo – and it nearly always is in either Majestic or Waitrose). I went in with the intention of picking up the Chapoutier CdR but they have moved onto the 2013 vintage – I like a few years on my Grenache. Brambly black fruit and smoke with delicious hints of dried herbs and just a touch of liquorice. Slightly chewy tannin upfront before the dark fruit shines through with a great blast of smoke and black pepper. More Cru quality than lowly Cotes du Rhone – stock up.

Wine in the news

Well there’s tonnes of the stuff!

Wine Searcher reports stabilisation in Burgundy prices…. At last!

Some under the radar Californian wineries:

Tasmania – one of the best wine regions in the world?

Italy declares war… against radical Prosecco!

Mosel Bridge fails to meet EU standards

Tesco is the worst supermarket for supplier to work with:


Light relief

Everyone’s talking about the weather this week… I just hate to be left out…

It only rains twice a year in Manchester: August to April and May to July.

Why do mother kangaroos hate rainy days?
Because then the children have to play inside.

Why do hurricanes travel so fast?
Because if they travelled slowly, we’d have to call them slow-i-canes.

Jill: How did you find the weather on holiday?
Bill: I just went outside and there it was!

There’s a technical term for a sunny, warm day which follows two rainy days.
It’s called Monday.

Gosh, it’s raining cats and dogs, said Fred looking out of the kitchen window.
“I know,” said his mother. “I’ve just stepped in a poodle!”

What’s the difference between weather and climate?
You can’t weather a tree, but you can climate!

How do sheep keep warm in winter?
Central bleating!

What did Santa Claus’s wife say during a thunderstorm?
Come and look at the rain, dear.

Why did your sister cut a hole in her new umbrella?
Because she wanted to be able to tell when it stopped raining.

If six children and two dogs were under an umbrella, how come none of them got wet?
Because it wasn’t raining.

What kind of umbrella does the Queen carry on a rainy day?
A wet one.

If a band plays music in a thunderstorm, who is most likely to get hit by lightning?
The conductor.


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 – “A” is for Amarone

What a blockbuster start to the year… if you’re having a wine-free January, or even trying to stick to lower alcohol wines, then unlucky because you have chosen Amarone to kick off #newwinethisweek! – it’s all your fault!


Amarone is one of Italy’s truly iconic wines. From the Veneto region in Northeast Italy, Amarone is a rich, full-bodied, high- alcohol red wine that is made in a very special way. The full name for the wine is Amarone della Valpolicella, which roughly translates as “the bitter one from Valpolicella).

The grapes used to make this bombastic wine are Corvina (anywhere between 45% and 90%) and Rondinella (5% to 30%) and you will be hard pressed to find them growing anywhere else outside Veneto. The same grapes are used to make the fruit-forward, easy drinking wines of Valpolicella and Bardolino, but making Amarone is a pain-staking and lengthy process that produces intensely rich wines, the best of which compete with the finest wines of Barolo and Brunello as the greatest wines of Italy.

Most of the richest red wines come from hot climates; Valpolicella is a cool climate region, usually producing red wines with good levels of acid. The grapes for Amarone are left on the vine until mid-October to allow the grapes to fully ripen and concentrate the sugars. But that is still not enough; the grapes are then allowed to dry on straw mats to dry and shrivel, a process the Italians call appassimento. A well as concentrating the juices in the grapes, the process also increases the skin contact of the grapes, increasing the colour and tannin in the finished wine.

Straw mats

The length appassimento is usually around 120 days, during which time the grapes will lose up to 40% of their weight. The grapes are then crushed and go through a low temperature fermentation process, which can last up to 50 days, the finished wines are then put into barrels and aged. Most of the wines are not released until at least 5 years after the vintage, making Amarone a very costly wine to produce and usually a very expensive wine to buy.

My advice for this selection is don’t skimp on price. If you pay less that £10 you are not going to get a great wine; just remember the process this juice has gone through. I once had the opportunity to try a 1998 Quintarelli Amaraone and it was one of the 10 best wines I have ever tasted; it came with a price tag close to £400 (don’t worry Mum, it wasn’t me paying!) but also delivered aromas and flavours of cherry, fig, tar, chocolate, truffle, tar and flowers and hid it’s behemoth 16.5% very well indeed! Some names to look out for who produce Amarone at different price levels are Zenato, Tommassi, Tedeschi, Masi and Allegrini.


I’ve included a few readily available bottles below, but hand up, I haven’t tried any of them… yet! So give Amarone a go, even if it means giving up your January good intentions!

Taste the Difference Amarone 2011 (Sainsbury’s £16.50)

Cantina di Negrar Amarone Classico 2011 (Waitrose £18.99)

Cantina Negrar Amarone Classico ‘Vigneti di Roccolo’ 2011 (Majestic £23.00)

Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Corte Giara, 2011 (The Wine Society £23.00)

Villalta Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 (M&S £25.00)

Tedeschi Amarone Classico 2009 (Wine & the Vine £32.75)


If you want a say in what “B” will bring then have your say at:



#newwinethisweek – Analysing 2014 and changes for 2015


Wow, didn’t 2014 disappear in a flash? One of the reasons was the introduction of #newwinethisweek, where we selected a different wine for you to try every week for the whole year. Thank you so much to those of you who took part, especially those of you who took the time to vote and to leave our reviews. A special shout out has to go to John Stephens (follow him on Twitter @john_cstevens), who’s weekly reviews were detailed, eloquent and full of enthusiasm however good (or bad) the wine. And of course, a huge thank you to the fantastic Zelda, who writes/draws the brilliant theillustratedwine blog.

The 2015 votes have been now counted and verified and I can reveal your favourite white wine of 2014 was Californian Chardonnay, you voted Rhône Syrah your favourite red and the best fizz came from good old Blighty – I can’t tell you how happy I am about this!

Below is the full table with link to each of the weekly introductions. Where the wines finished in the table wasn’t really the point, all we hope is that you tried and enjoyed some different wines in 2014.


Position Week Wine Country Score
1 Week 31 Chardonnay USA 9.2
2 Week 28 Riesling Germany 9.1
3 Week 45 Syrah France 9.0
4 Week 14 Cabernet Sauvignon Australia 8.8
5= Week 21 Sparkling Wine England 8.7
5= Week 49 Chardonnay New Zealand 8.7
5= Week 50 Champagne France 8.7
8= Week 12 Crémant France 8.6
8= Week 9 Gruner Veltliner Austria 8.6
10 Week 16 Zinfandel USA 8.4
11= Week 25 Cava Spain 8.3
11= Week 30 Vinho Verde Portugal 8.3
13= Week 18 Red Lebanon 8.2
13= Week 23 Pinot Noir New Zealand 8.2
15 Week 17 Viognier France 8.1
16= Week 19 Furmint Hungary 8.0
16= Week 33 Barbaresco Italy 8.0
16= Week 36 Sauvignon Blanc Chile 8.0
16= Week 40 Rioja Tinto Spain 8.0
20= Week 5 Torrontés Argentina 7.9
20- Week 3 Albariño Spain 7.9
20= Week 4 Barbera Italy 7.9
23 Week 38 Cotes Du Rhone France 7.8
24= Week 1 Riesling Australia 7.7
24= Week 35 Shiraz Australia 7.7
26= Week 24 Assyrtiko Greece 7.6
26= Week 32 Cab Sauv USA 7.6
26= Week 44 Pinot Blanc France 7.6
29 Week 15 Chenin Blanc South Africa 7.5
30= Week 13 Falanghina Italy 7.4
30= Week 8 Pinotage South Africa 7.4
32 Week 29 Cabernet Franc Loire 7.3
33= Week 11 Gamay France 7.2
33= Week 26 Rosé (Garnacha) Spain 7.2
35 Week 6 Touriga Nacional Portugal 7.1
36= Week 2 Carmenere Chile 7.0
36= Week 27 Merlot Chile 7.0
36= Week 34 Gavi Italy 7.0
36= Week 48 GSM Australia 7.0
40 Week 20 Noble Rot Anywhere! 6.8
41= Week 10 Tannat Argentina & Uruguay 6.7
41= Week 37 Malbec Argentina 6.7
43= Week 39 Prosecco Italy 6.5
43= Week 46 Lambrusco Italy 6.5
45 Week 43 Primitivo Italy 6.3
46 Week 47 Pinot Grigio Italy 5.7
47 Week 7 Gewurztraminer France 5.5
48 Week 22 Fino Spain 5.2
49 Week 41 Verdejo Spain 5.0
50 Week 42 Alcohol free Anywhere! No votes!


There will be a few changes in 2015 and Mike will taking more of a lead over at his site . The recommendations will be fortnightly this year, with each selection corresponding to a letter of the alphabet… 26 fortnights, 26 letters in the alphabet! We hope the extra week will give everyone a better opportunity to source and try the wine.

The other change is that it will be up to you to choose the #newwinethisweek subject every 2 weeks. Have a look at the options for “A” by clicking on the link below and help decide what you will be tucking into next year.

The vote will always take place on Mike’s site and I will focus on an overview of the chosen wine every other week on Confessionsofawinegeek.

Mike and I look forward to another year of challenging your taste buds and daring you to be different. With your help let’s make #newwinethisweek a massive success and get as many people involved as possible… because what’s better than finding a new favourite wine?


Drink well and have a great 2015!



A Happy New Wine Geek Year!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Winos!

It’s not a real newsletter this week, just an opportunity to say Happy New Year to you wine lovers, to wish you a fantastic 12 months and to talk about what’s coming your way in 2015.

It’s been a heck of a year on with you lot dropping by 25,000 to read 125 new posts. #newwinethisweek has been a great success and both myself and Mike from hope you have discovered some new favourites along the way.

I reckon I’ve tasted over 500 wines this year, had my first taste of Dom Perignon Champagne and Chateau Lafite, attended more than 20 tasting events and tried a wonderful wine from 1934. But the real highlight was the trip to California… so much so that I felt the need to give you the opportunity to share my love one more time by re-publishing the links for you to follow!

Sideways – The Wine Geek Experience

Nap Cab – forget everything you think you know

Sonoma – the most exciting wine region in the world?

The Judgement of Paris – the 1976 winners in 2014

Ridge & Kistler – the icing on the California cake

My wines of the year

California had such an impact on me that I gave the wines their own post in my wrap-up of my favourite wines of the year; below are the links to the “best wines of 2014” series:

Part 1 – California

Part 2 – The Reds

Part 3 – The Whites

Part 4 – Fizzy & Sweet

What does 2015 hold?

As most of you know, 2015 is going to be a big year for the Wine Geek. The Fish and I have decided to lump in and move from the virtual world to the real world and open a wine bar. We sold our house and finished our jobs just before Xmas and are currently living with the in(out)-laws as we continue our search for the perfect premises; we want to open a place that has the spirit of #newwinethisweek at it’s heart, with a plethora of grape varieties from all over the wine world.

The posts in 2015 will be focused on the new business and we hope to see many of you when opening night comes along.

Until then, we want to wish you an amazing 2015 and keep your wine glass full!

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 2015!

Wine Geek


Wine Geek best wines of 2014 (Part 4 – Fizzy & Sweet)

The final instalment of my wines of the year looks at the best fizz and best sweet & fortified wines of 2014. The sweet section includes my very favourite wine of the year, but first of all let’s gets going with the bubbles.

I like a bit of fizz here and there but after a glass I’m usually ready for the “real stuff! These are 3 that really got me thinking this year:


Dom Perignon 1999 (Bancroft Wines £110)

This was my first try of Dom Perignon and I want more! So complete – luscious and creamy with apple and lemons, beautifully integrated brioche and beautifully velvety texture. It’s like a baked apple pie and custard and the taste keeps on going. I’ve never experienced a sparkling wine with such balance and it’s fair to say that even in the un-fancied 1999 vintage, DP really shines through. 95 points

Raventós í Blanc de Nit Reserva 2010 (Harvey Nichols £21.00)

Raventós actually decided to leave the Cava DO in 2012 and begin a new direction. This rosado has a floral and rather funky nose, but the palate is dry as a bone, with super acidity but amazing balance with fruit and brioche (not sure what the Spanish equivalent is!). A wonderful wine that left me salivating just as the food arrived. 93 points

Domaine de Montbourgeau Crémant du Jura Brut NV (The Wine Society £12.50)

I think I may have found my new house sparkler! Made from 100% Chardonnay this is absolutely brilliant stuff. As well as rich peaches there is a delightful twist of citrus and a deep and delicious biscuit finish. £12.50 is a daft price for such a fantastic wine – forget your NV Champers – order a case of this stuff. 92 points


Now it’s onto the sticky, sweet stuff and what a year it’s been for sweet wines. Let’s begin with my very favourite wine of 2014, thank you JJ Prüm!


JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Goldkapsel Riesling 2009 (£57 The Wine Society)

Goldkapsel usually refer to small amounts of wine the winemaker deems to be of an even higher quality and is usually made in very small quantities; this was my first experience and I certainly hope it won’t be the last! Ripe peach and mango fills the nostrils, before the apples and limes takeover and then that musky-sweetness of botrytis, all intermingled with wonderful wet slate. On the palate it’s concentrated like a marmalade or peach conserve, but not cloying in any way. The richness is super-charged; it’s like everything has been turned up to eleven! This really is a super charged Wehlener Sonnenuhr and I’m sure it will outlast my days… but do you know what, If I had a case I’d open another couple of bottles this year… just in case! 97+ points

At a tasting of Austrian wines I couldn’t believe that this TBA was made from Chardonnay; astonishing:

Kracher Chardonnay TBA Nr. 9 “Nouvelle Vague” 1998, Nuesiedlersee (Seckford Wines £50 375ml)

And this is why it’s worth waiting for sweet Austria Chardonnay! Still lots of fresh apricot and mango but now it’s joined by some almost savoury dried prunes. The attack is tropical fruit and marmalade then, having covered your mouth, it melts and the dried fruit comes to the fore leaving you with a long, long finis of burnt orange. This wine almost ages in your mouth, from fresh to dried and back again… It is absolutely fabulous. 96 points


Now let’s head to the Loire for a couple of wonderful wines:

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

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

Henri Bourgeois Vendange De La St-Luc 2007 (NA in UK)

100% Sauvignin Blanc, grown on Kemmeridgen clay solid and picked several weeks after the main harvest to concentrate the grapes and produce this delicious sweet wine. The wine demonstrates the diversity of the Sauvignon Blanc grape and is absolutely delicious. It’s certainly not over sweet and its oh so fresh with a wonderful spine of acid. Golden in colour and highly concentrated tropical fruits – enjoy as an aperitif, serve with foie gras or match with a fruity dessert. Mmmm! 93 points


And how about a terrific sweet Riesling from New Zealand?

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

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


And finally, a traditional Sherry and Port:

Harveys Pedro Ximénez VORS (Waitrose £21.99)

VORS stands for “Very Old Rare Sherries” and this sticky sherry delivers in spades. The nose is fig, caramel and toffee with a slightly liquorice undertone. The palate is lusciously thick and rich and sweet with concentrated flavour of raisins, liquorice, black treacle and toasted nuts. The flavours last for an extraordinary length and the wine is so, so smooth. I love this stuff. 93 points

Fonseca Vintage Port 1985, Porto, Portugal (Roberson £80.00)

Fresh red fruit fills the nostrils ahead of the dried, almost candies fruit that follows and just a touch medicinal. There is some volatile alcohol at play here but this is still early days for this beauty and the fruit really does shine through on the wonderful nose. All of this comes to life on the palate; the red fruit is surprisingly fresh and pure with lovely hints of dried spice and dried fruit on the exquisite finish. The alcohol will meld with the fruit over time but this one is a keeper, one to enjoy for Xmas 2025! 93+ points


It’s been a brilliant year for trying some totally amazing wines… I can’t wait to start all over again in 2015!

Below are the links to tall of the “best of 2014” posts:

Part 1 – California

Part 2 – The Reds

Part 3 – The Whites



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