Author Archives: Confessions of a Wine Geek

Wine Geek best wines of 2014 (Part 3 – The Whites)

In the third episode of my wines of the year, it’s time to look at the outstanding white wines. Predictably there is plenty of Riesling and Chardonnay but I have to start with one of the most remarkable wines I have ever had the privilege to taste…


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


Now onto some superb Rieslings:


Keller Brunnenhauschen AbtE Riesling Grosses Gewächs 2009, Rheinessen, Germany (Justerini & Brooks £96.00)

The nose is delightfully complex with smoke and slate beautifully mingling with apples, limes and passion fruit. The palate is wonderful; very tense and racy with bags of minerality; zesty limes to begin with, then ripe peach, then the tropical fruit before it all comes together in a blanket of searing acidity. A wine that keeps on giving and there’s so much more to come! 94+ points

Schlumberger Riesling Saering Grand Cru 2011 (The Wine Society £16.50)

This Riesling simply oozes class in every drop. Rich and juicy, starting off with bright citrus then developing more tropical notes of guava, passion fruit and pineapple chunks. There are delightful hints of honeysuckle providing even more depth and there is a beautiful long and wonderfully honeyed finish. Brilliant. 94 points

Cave de Turckheim Riesling Brand Grand Cru 2008 (The Wine Society £14.50)

Heaps and heaps of citrus aromas with juicy limes and green mango to the fore. Along with the fruit is plenty of slate-minerality and just a touch of petrol starting to evolve. On the palate there are bags of citrus, beginning with lemons, then a swathe of lime, all wrapped in a beautiful cloak of acidity – very pure and very precise. A delightful balance of fruit and acid at spectacular value for top notch Grand Cru wine. 93 points


It’s been a good year for Chardonnay tasting; some great Burgundy and some wonderful finds from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa:

White burgundy

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

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

Giarardin Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Folatieres 2000 (Ancient & Modern Wines £54.00)

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

Felton Road Banockburn Chardonnay 2011 (Roberson £24.95)

Everyone bangs on about the Sauvignon Blanc coming out of New Zealand but for me, Chardonnay is where it’s at. The aromas and flavours of warm toasty oak and leesy-ness hits you straight between the eyes before the waves the waves of sublime tropical fruit come at you; pineapple, honeydew melon and peach are all in evidence. It’s soft and warm and has such a wonderful balance of fruit, acid and oak, with impressive weight and texture. Fabulous. 95 points

Hamilton Russell Chardonnay 2012 (Nickolls & Perks £23.10)

A fabulous wine – would be very difficult to place this outside of Burgundy – has a real Charlemagne power to it. Huge rich and buttery nose with lashings of peach and a burst of citrus, all wrapped in a blanket of expensive and smoky oak. The palate is fat and buttery with lots of peach, tart apple and just a hint of pineapple, all cloaked in rich caramel, nuts and flaky, butter pastry. The acid is fine and dandy and the finish is long and intense. Lots of concentration and plenty of complexity. 94 points

Cherubino Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken Chardonnay 2012 (Wine & the Vine £15.25)

A delightfully rich lees-y nose with plenty of lemon freshness and a touch of white peach too – one of those extremely attractive noses that you can smell for a long, long time. The palate is bursting with flavours of peach, lemon, gentle vanilla spice, and has a super fresh and long finish. Delicious and fresh with just enough oaky interest. Great value £15 Chard. 93 points


Grüner has been a favourite of mine for quite some time now and I was so pleased to discover plenty of great examples in 2014:


Knoll Grüner Veltliner “Ried Loibenberg” Smaragd 2010, Wachau (N/A in UK, 2012 @ Fine & Rare £32.40)

Rich and aromatic nose with apples, pears, a touch of fresh citrus and a delightful edge of exotic, warming spice. On the palate the wine is super-juicy upfront with apples and limes before the minerality kicks in and cleans the palate to allow the warm white pepper spice to come through on the long and delicious finish. A super complex and fresh wine with three stages, fruit, mineral and spice, which all come together in beautiful balance at the end. Lovely wine. 94 points

Rabl Kaferberg Grüner Veltliner 2012, Kamptal, Austria (Wine and the Vine £19.95)

Delightful nose of citrus, peach and grapefruit with plenty of clean slate-like minerality. The texture is rich and voluptuous with very pure lemon and peach fruit. The attack and finish is bone dry with cool minerality and a gorgeous, warm and spicy white pepper finish. 93 points

Domaine Wachau Grüner Veltliner Weingärten Weissenkirchen 2012, Wachau, Austria (Majestic £9.99)

A classy, well-balanced Gruner with delicious apple and citrus fruit, a delightful streak of acidity and a warm and long white pepper finish. At £8.99 this is a real bargain and one worth stocking up for any ocasion. 92 points


A splendid Pinot Gris from a great Alsatian producer:


Schlumberger Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kitterle 2007 (Fortnum & Mason £32.50)

Is this really the same grape that makes that dull and dismal Pinot Grigio monstrosities that the supermarket shelves are filled with? Believe it or not it is! Beautifully golden in the glass, the nose elegantly unfolds peaches, nectarines, tropical fruit, honey-drenched pastry… no, it’s caramelised crème brulee. The first thing that hits the tongue is the rich honey, then the acid glides across your palate, with beautiful peaches and nectarines, then some smoky backnotes. The overall impression is of a peach & nut pastry dessert that just goes on and on with delightful elegance. Splendid. 95 points


And finally a super value wine from a wonderful region overlooking Lake Garda; let’s hope that the plans to build a train line through these wonderful vineyards comes to nothing:


Cà dei Frati Laguna 2012, Veneto (The Wine Society £12.50)

Rich aromas of stone fruit, apples, even a touch of citrus, all combining beautifully with an engaging floral note and a hint of yeast. On the palate, the texture is rich, with great body; there are lots of peaches and apples, a lovely creamy texture and bright acidity. This is a lot of wine for very little money; complex, long and beautifully balanced. 92 points


Here are the links to the previous best of 2014 posts:

Part 1 – California

Part 2 – The Reds




Wine Geek best wines of 2014 (Part 2 – The Reds)

Following on from the California love-in yesterday, today’s best of 2014 selection focuses on reds. Only the one Burgundy this year but plenty from Bordeaux, Rhone and the rest of France. But let’s start with the best of the best, as we head to the Tuscan coast for my red wine of the year, Ornellaia 2004 and then work our way through Piedmont and into Spain:

Spain and italy

Ornellaia 2004 (Fine & Rare £166.80)

Wow! The nose is pure Cabernet Sauvignon; pure Ribena with a wonderful smack of mint/eucalyptus – it really reminded me of a top-notch Coonawarra! But there is a savoury leather edge giving some clue to it’s 10 years also. The palate is ripe and lush with sweet concentrated fruit; blackcurrants and damsons dominate with leathery, slightly smoky notes and a cool but gentle menthol hit at the end. The balance is astounding and the length is amazing. A truly brilliant wine. 97 points

Bruno Rocca Barbaresco Rabaja 2010, Piedmont (Slurp £57.36)

Initially I got something a little medicinal, then the layers of cherries and musty earth took me to a serene place. Beneath the fruit are layers of herbs and forest floor; the nose seems to give more every time I stick my nose in the glass. The tannins are right in your face and very drying, but beneath the texture are layer upon layer of red fruit and sour cherries. There’s lots of oak and a deliciously savoury finish that is very, very long. All this wine needs is another 10 years and it will be fabulous! 94+ points

Clos Martinet 1996 (NA in UK, 2001 @ Corney & Barrow £36.00)

Very fresh, very elegant on the nose with charming red cherry fruit, mineral and vanilla merging delightfully. It still tastes so young; the tannin is delightful and elegant, there’s lots of bright red cherry fruit and lots of earthy mushroom and smoke and delicious minerality. The tasting title was “Powerful Priorat” but the elegance of this fantastic wine certainly stole the show. 95 points

Taste the Difference Priorat 2009, Priorat, Spain (Sainsbury’s £11.00)

It’s hard to find Priorat under a tenner… but this is often on promotion for around £8! But this is fab. Blackberries, black currants and a touch of damson jam, but there’s also a fabulous savoury edge and an earthy minerality. Refreshing acidity, nicely judged oak and balanced powdery tannin. This is still a young wine and unfortunately none of it will see its prime; but so what, it tastes really good right now. 91 points


Let’s start the best of France in Bordeaux…

France red

Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste 5eme Cru Classé 1990, Pauillac (Roberson £205)

Fresh and young with lashings of blackcurrant, blackberry and even a hint of red berries. There’s an understated smokiness, cedar and exotic spice –so luxurious. Wow! Rich and powerful palate with wonderful acidity and delightful grip. Highly concentrated blackcurrant with notes of sweet spice, cedar, expensive leather and graphite. Such supreme power and elegance; structure, fruit, freshness and length. Magnificent. 95 points

Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron 2eme Cru Classe 1990, Pauillac (Lay & Wheeler £252)

Heaps of blackcurrant and cassis, gentle smoky spice but with an exotic and mysterious depth. This is super concentrated and rich with rich and dense sweet fruit. The tannins are big and luscious but they are perfectly matched with the fresh and vivid acidity. Silky smooth, luscious and intense; still very young but oh so marvellously concentrated and what a finish! 95 points

Chateau L’Evangile 1990, Pomerol (Roberson £310)

You have to get your nose right in there but once the aromas start escaping I’m hypnotised by sweet red strawberries and cherries, with an undertone of blackcurrant –then the balance changes toward black fruit –amazing! There are also and gravelly notes with smoke, caramel and a hit of balsamic. On the palate it’s soft and fruity with fine tannins; the flavours are highly concentrated and coat my whole mouth –smooth and sexy! I love it. 95 points

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild 1995, Pauillac, Bordeaux (Fine & Rare £580.86)

The first sniff is majestic; concentrated, elegant blackcurrant, cassis, liquorice, cedar and a fresh mineral note underpinning it all. This is a wine os polish, poise and shouts of money. Medium body with fresh acidity and a lovely silky texture. The fruit is to the fore with blackcurrant and blackberries leading the way, unveiling sweet spice, cedar and earthy graphite. A delightful wine with muted power, enormous length and superb breed. Excellent. 95 points


Now on through Burgundy, the Rhône, Languedoc and Jura (lots of use of the word “funky’ here!):

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

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

Chateau d’Ampuis Cote Rotie 1999 (Fine & Rare £120)

I am going to start by calling this a beautifully funkadelic wine – there is so much going its an absolute explosion on the nose. A delicious mix of red and black, fresh and dried fruit. The wine is developing wonderfully with notes of roasted meat and truffle coming through; fruity, earthy, spicy, herby… this is ACE! On the palate the elegance is simply brilliant, the tannins take a gentle grip and guide your mouth on a long, complex and fantastic voyage through fruit, spice, mineral, meat and a whole lot more. Bliss. 97 points

Chateau de Beaucastel 2001, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone (Bordeaux Index £60.96)

When I get my nose in it’s blackberry and plum fruit, black pepper and dried wild herbs de Provence. There is a wild and smoky note (from a dose of Mouvedre perhaps?) that makes the aroma truly beguiling. The palate is a cocktail of black and red fruits that simply explodes on the tongue, leading the path to a seemingly endless smoky and spicy finish. The acidity is beautifully judged and there is wonderful tannic grip providing a beautiful balance. There are years and years ahead for this wine and I will be trying to secure a few more for my own enjoyment. Brilliant. 95 points

Mas Coutelou Classé 2012 (Roberson £14.95)

To be fair, I’m not so keen on the smell! The nose gives off a funky waft of southern French heat; plums and dark cherries, quite jammy, even a touch burnt – certainly smells more alcoholic than the 13.5% on the label. But hold your horses, the first mouthful is absolutely wonderful! Red fruit explodes across the palate; raspberries, redcurrants and cranberries burst with freshness before the underlying notes of plum and blackberry take hold. The generous acidity certainly gets the juices flowing and is delightfully balanced by the fine tannins, which provide a sturdy yet elegant structure. The finish is lingering and satisfying with hints of lavender and dried herbs persisting for what seems like minutes. A rollercoaster of a wine but one that will certainly get you back for another glass… if you can close your eyes for the label and put a peg on your nose for the smell! 92 points

Domaine Daniel Dugois Trousseau Grevillière 2011, Arbois (Les Caves de Pyrene £14.89)

Many of the Jura aficionados will tell you that the white wines are the real jewels of Jura, but for me, Trousseau is the most interesting of all the grape varieties the area has to offer. The nose offers a cornucopia of red fruit; so fresh and just throwing itself out of the glass! There is also the funky note of the forest and smoky meat… very attractive and oh so interesting. On the palate the acidity whacks you between the eyes and there is a russet-like texture that is very appealing. Considering the light colour, the red fruit is highly concentrated and supported with smoky, sweet spice. A big step up in class with real complexity and concentration; still very young but already so expressive. 92++ points


And how about a red from Austria?


Umathum Blaufraenkisch “Joiser Kirschgarten” 2008, Neusiedlersee (N/A in UK, 2009 @ Clark Foyster £38.37)

The aromas are feral and savoury with black cherry fruit, smoke and coffee… a bit like Cherry Coke! The palate is big and powerful but still ever so young. There’s black cherries and red currants, the body is medium+ and there are lots of savoury, meaty notes working together beautifully. It’s big, it’s brash and its fantastic – a great big feral (a bit dirty!) wine – like good, ballsy Gevrey. 93 points


Let’s finally head into the New World for some sophisticated Chilean Cab, Aussie Pinot and best value wine of the year from Aldi:

New world red

Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2007, Aconcagua Valley, Chile (Eton Vintners £52.50)

I’m not entirely sure a wine can smelly chewy… but this one does! Slightly stewed blackcurrant and cassis but with a minty freshness and even a touch of smoke at the end; very expressive Cabernet. On the palate the wine is super concentrated with a great whack of cassis liqueur, supported with hints of mint and tobacco. The tannins are fine, mellow eve, and the finish is fine and long. 93 points

Cherubino Ad Hoc Cruel Mistress Pinot Noir 2012 (Wine & the Vine £15.25)

Bright red fruit and cinder toffee with just a hint of spice on the nose. Super fresh acidity upfront, light bodied but lots of sour cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit. A touch of spicy oak and grippy but quality tannins and a long and fresh finish. 92 points

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

Possibly my best value wine of 2014. Lovely and pure black currant aromas with just a hint of cassis liqueur, a touch if cedar and a breath of fresh eucalyptus. On the palate the black currants explode on the tongue and there is a shot if coffee richness before the fresh eucalyptus shows itself on the long and deliciously complex finish. This is an excellent wine and I can’t think of anything better under £7. 92 points



Wine Geek best wines of 2014 (Part 1 – California)

I love Christmas; not only is it an all too rare opportunity to spend some quality time with friends and families, it is also a great excuse to open some fine bottles of wine. Christmas also represents an opportunity to slow down (except for preparing Xmas dinner and keeping any kids in the household entertained!) and reflect on the year that has just passed.

Having gone through all of my tasting notes it has become very obvious that 2014 has been a wonderful year for wine tasting and drinking, so I have decided to write a few posts that I will publish over the next week:

Best of California

Best Reds

Best Whites

Best Fizz & Sticky

2014 was all about our trip to California (with a cheeky stop in Vegas on the way!); I can’t remember another period of time where I have laughed and smiled so often. The people of Napa, Sonoma and San Francisco were the most inviting, friendly and downright funky people I have come across on my travels, and it is no wonder that the wines of the USA need a section of their own in my highlights of 2014!

The wines of California had a huge impact on me in 2014. I have enjoyed lots of west coast wines in previous years, but I encountered so many great wines on our trip this summer that I have given them a section of their own.

I loved the Chardonnays and they dominate my white wine selection, starting with a truly majestic slurp from Kistler:


Kistler Stone Flat Vineyard 2011, Sonoma Coast (Hedonism £124.20)

I could have gone for any one of the four Chards I tasted at Kistler’s Trenton Road House, however this one really took my breath away. The nose gives up little of what is to come, with some apples, peaches and just a hint of wet stones coming through. But the palate is extraordinary; ripe peaches, nectarines and a citrus acid blast pave the way for some nutty hints and smoky undertones. The layers of fruit and then the savoury notes are almost ridiculous – my mouth was still watering two minutes later; the finesse and balance is truly outstanding. One of the best Chardonnays I have ever tasted. 96 points

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2012 (Hedonism £44.70)

Really light straw colour in the glass but plenty of punch on the nose. Traditional aromas of apples, peaches and that lovely nutty buttered toast. I love the striking acidity and the touches of vanilla and other sweet spices from the oak and lees ageing. Fresh, crisp and ever so modern – my gums were still tingling from the acidity a couple of minutes later! Very different to the 1973 version I have no doubt! 93 points

Red Car Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012 (Flint Wines £22.92)

What is it with this place and Chardonnay? It’s enough to convert the biggest denier! All apples, lemons and cool minerality on the nose, which carries onto the palate. Then there is a delightfully creamy mid-palate moment, like a lemon meringue pie, before the crisp finish takes your breath away. Awesome! 93 points

Stag’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Miles Better Wines Ltd £23.85)

Very drinkable SB with plenty of citrus, nice dash of grapefruit and just the right amount of gooseberry on the nose. All of the fruit is present on the palate and there is a nice tropical richness balancing the wonderful acidity. Really reminded me of a quality Sancerre. 93 points


Onto the reds, starting with some wonderful Cab Savs:


Stag’s Leap Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Roberson £145.00)

The Fay is great; the SLV is sumptuous… what happens when you blend the best of the two vineyards together? Basically you get 1+1=3! The brooding deep black fruit of the Fay and sweeter, cherry scented fruit from SLV combine together in a cornucopia of sumptuousness that makes you wonder why anyone would consider drinking a liquid that smells this good. How this wine manages to combine such concentration and poise is beyond me – it messes with my mind but I absolutely love it. Silky smooth with hints of chocolate, a touch of coffee, some sweet baking spice and something savoury and delicious – bay perhaps. This is up there with the very wines I have had the pleasure to try… I just wish I had the deep enough pockets to enjoy it at home! 97 points

Inglenook Rubicon 2010, Rutherford (Hard to Find Wines £169.99)

Such a pure fruit nose with masses of black fruit and classy, yet understated oak – vanilla, cigar and clove. The texture coats every millimetre of the mouth with ripe and concentrated black fruit, followed by layer upon layer of flavour; red fruit, smoke and a multitude of spices and the length is truly phenomenal. I was expecting a super-extracted fruit bomb but what I’m getting is pure elegance and sheer pleasure. Brilliant, brilliant… I would love the chance to try this again in 10 years time. 96+ points

Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Roberson £95.00 for the 2010)

The concentration of fruit on the nose is spectacular; from blackcurrant and blackberry to raspberry and red cherry, you could just keep naming fruit after fruit and it will be in there somewhere. The palate is super smooth and lays the way for dark spices, a touch of liquorice and even a hint of worn leather. The finish goes on forever and the balance is incredible. I always look for a combination of Concentration, balance and elegance; this ticks all of the boxes. 96 points

Ridge Monte Bello 2011 (James Nicholson £84.99)

Wow. Smoky blackberry and blackcurrant fruit along with some sweet spice, something herbal and then more fruit; cassis, yes, concentrated pure cassis. The fruit on the palate is luscious, sweet and concentrated, and oh so graceful. The balance is astounding and at 3 years old the wine is already so rounded; layers of fruit and spice and so much more. So drinkable now but it scares me how good this is going to be in 10 years time. Wow. 95+ points

Heitz Wine Cellars Trailside Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Rutherford (Justerini & Brooks £85.50 for 2007)

As well as blackcurrant and redcurrant fruit there is a whole host of secondary flavours coming through. Beautiful balance and poise with classy cedar and Asian spice gliding across the palate. The texture is silky smooth and the fresh acidity would put the wine closer to 6 than 12 years old. Wonderful. 94 points

Beringer Steinhauer Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Howell Mountain (NA in UK, $140 direct)

So much elegance and poise with a delicious combination of blackcurrants, blackberries and minerality with background flourishes of vanilla and Chinese five-spice. The tannins are silky and the minerality cooling – I actually thought I was drinking a Leoville Barton for a while! 94 points


Now it’s time to take a look at my favourite Pinots of the trip… God, I love good Pinot and there was plenty to go around!


Joseph Swan Trenton View Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (NA in UK, $38 direct)

Full, deep and rich with layer upon layer of fruit; dark cherry, touch of plum, wild strawberry. The body is bigger without every being claggy or jammy as the bright acidity cuts through. This is an awesome wine and perhaps the best value of the entire trip… I wish I could find it in the UK! 95 points

Clendenen Family Vineyards Le Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2008 (NA in UK, $35 direct)

All of the fruit is sourced from a vineyard Jim bought in 1998 and has been certified organic since 2003. The red fruits are to the fore in this wonderful wine, wonderfully integrated with layers of earth and spice; leather, clove, smoke and fruit combine beautifully to produce an elegant, delicate and downright gorgeous wine that could be tipped as a top-end 1er Cru Volnay. Brilliant. 95 points

Copain Estate Wetzel Pinot Noir 2011, Anderson Valley (NA in UK, $65 direct)

Lots of red fruit and a great luxurious edge from the new oak – this has real class. The palate has fruit, sweet spice, wonderful earthiness – it’s integrated, balanced and complex – a wine of superb quality. 94 points

Hartley-Ostini Hitching Post Highliner Pinot Noir 2011, Santa Barbara County (NA in UK, Hitching Post $52 drink in/$42 take-home)

How could we go to the Hitching Post and not try the Highliner?? I don’t quite agree with Miles about the tightness – this has a beautiful combination of black and red cherries with layers of red currant and raspberry coming along on the mod-palate. The tannin is firm but elegant and the finish is spicy and smoky, with hints of Chinese 5-spice. It’s a Pinot with guts but also good manners. I wish we could get wine this good at prices like this in restaurants back home. 93 points


The real find for me on the trip were the marvellous cool-climate Syrahs coming out of Sonoma; they just excited my palate and had a real sense of place:


Copain Estate Brousseau Syrah 2010, Chalon (NA in UK, $45 direct)

The nose may be restrained but the concentration of flavour on the palate is incredible. A ton of black fruit with a great tannic structure and that fresh, clean acidity that is everywhere in California. The finish is spicy and long, with hints of chocolate and just a touch of roasted meat. Awesome stuff! 94+ points

Wind Gap Russian River Syrah 2008 (NA in UK – the Sonoma Coast 2011 is excellent and available at Roberson £34.95)

Ripe plums and a touch of raspberry freshness with delicious hints of leather and spice now really coming through. Fresh and sweet fruit – this is amazingly rounded and complete. The tannins are like feathers and the length is wonderful. Concentration, balance and elegance. Great, great wine. 94 points

Joseph Swan Syrah Great Oak Vineyard 2008 (Christopher Kieller Wine £34.00)

This is magnificent! Cherries, plums and blackberries on the nose and palate with incredible concentration and incredible finesse. The black pepper undertones provide complexity and round the wine out beautifully; the finish is long and lavish, this is an exquisite wine. 94 points


There is no way I was going to Ridge and Zinfandel not making the list!


Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2008 (The Butlers Wine Cellar £31.75)

Of the perfume of red fruit, some dried wild herbs, touches of lavender and hints of leather… taste it, taste it! Juicy cherries and blackberries with amazing freshness, fine tannins and a warm pepper finish. Everything just falls into place; so round, so balanced, so beautiful. 94 points


And last but not least, one of the funkiest wines I tried all year… so good it made my Christmas selection… thank you Roberson!


Copain Estate Trousseau 2010, Russian River Valley (Roberson £36.95)

I was so glad when this one came out after the main tasting – I bloomin love Trousseau and they’re making a great go of it in California now too. Red currants, cranberry and earth – really funky and pops on the tongue and has a party in your mouth. Love it! 93 points












#newwinethisweek Week 51 – Champagne, France

Not only is it Christmas week, but I’ve also quit my job and sold my house… there really is only one wine that truly fits the bill and that is the Sparkling superstar from Champagne! We have covered off plenty of sparklers on #newwinethisweek, but the one we nearly always fall back on is Champagne.


Champagne is a sparkling wine that can only be made in the Champagne region of central France. The way the wine is made is basically magic, and there are a few things to know and remember:

  • Champagne can be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier; what you usually taste is a combination of the three
  • Chardonnay is a white grape, Pinot Noir and Meurnier are black grapes
  • A champagne made from Chardonnay only is labelled Blanc de Blancs (white from white)
  • Champagne made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier will be labelled Blanc de Noirs (white from black)
  • Rose or Pink Champagne are produced either by leaving the clear juice of black grapes to macerate on its skins for a brief time (known as the saignée method) or, more commonly, by adding a small amount of still Pinot noir red wine to the sparkling wine cuvee
  • NV on the label means “Non Vintage” – most of the Champagne you have tried will be Non Vintage – this is the house style of the big Champagne houses. As vintage conditions affect the quality of the grapes, they use a combination of wines from up to 10 different vintages to create consistency
  • Vintage wine doesn’t mean old wine – it just means that all of the grapes used to make the wine came from the same year – these wines are only made in very good years and allow the Champenoise to really show off their real flair – these wines will often be extreme versions of the house style


One of the reasons why Champagne is so expensive is because of the complexity and labour involved in making the wine – this is called the Methode Traditionale:

  1. Firstly you have to grow and harvest the healthiest grapes possible – like many of France’s wine regions the best vineyards are designated Premier Cru and, best of all, Grand Cru – we’ll talk more about this when we get to Burgundy
  2. Once the grapes have been picked (the best will be by hand), the grapes are fermented, for the first time, as any other wine to create a still base-wine
  3. The wines are then bottled into the vessel that you will eventually buy and yeast is added for a second fermentation – this is left in the bottle for a minimum of 18 months (many top cuvees and especially declared vintages will be left for far longer) – the yeasty, biscuit, pastry notes you get from champagne is due to the contact with the dead yeast, know as lees
  4. In order to get rid of the dead yeasts, the bottles are placed in a riddling table and undergo a process know as remouage so all of the yeast ends up in the neck of the bottle – this used to be done by a guy in the cellar who would turn every bottle a quarter turn every day for 40 days – its now done by machine
  5. The neck of the bottle is then flash frozen and the pressure in the bottle forces the frozen piece to shoot out of the bottle when the cap is removed – this is known as the disgorgement
  6. A final dosage is then added to achieve the right level of sweetness and the cork we recognise is inserted


And there you have it… Champagne!

I hope you all have a brilliant Christmas and enjoy your bubbles as well as your Pinot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet, Syrah… you get the gist!

Just don’t forget to vote for you favourite drop of Champers and let us know what you thought.


There are plenty of Christmas deals out there right now; what a great excuse to try lots of them!

Try Sainsbury’s:

Moët et Chandon Brut 2004 Vintage (Sainsbury’s £37.00 was £45.00)

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £30.00 was £35.00)

Jacquart Brut Rosé Mosaique NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £28.00 was £38.00)

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Mumm Cordon Rouge NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £30.00)

Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £22.00 was £34.00)


Or how about Waitrose?

Laurent-Perrier Brut NV Chardonnay (Waitrose £24.99 was £37.99)

Duval-Leroy Premier Cru NV Champagne (Waitrose £19.99 was £29.99)

Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV Champagne (Waitrose £29.99 was £39.99)

Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne (Waitrose £19.99 was £24.99)

Pol Roger Pure NV Champagne (Waitrose £33.99 was £43.99)






Wine Geek Newsletter #95

News 95

Hi Winos!

It’s been a heck of a week! I said goodbye to my work colleagues for the last time today and we’re moving house on Saturday… all in the name of wine. 2015 will be the freshest of starts as we embark on a new adventure; opening a wine bar and our turning passion into our business… watch this space for more details overt the coming weeks.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a newsletter to be written; so here’s your weekly dose of vinous news and nonsense… enjoy!

Advent copy


You can’t do Christmas without port so here’s an idiot’s (my) guide to the good stuff:


Supermarket wine

I apologise for the need to have a Tesco rant. I usually recommend a wine or two from the UK’s biggest retailer but after my experience of using their Click & Collect service this Christmas, I am refusing to do so anymore. They advertise a 24 hour service, then AFTER payment inform you that it will probably be 48 hours… then take 9 (NINE!) days to finally deliver, with not a single email update in that time. Sorry about that, but given their current predicament(s) I would suggest a little more haste and an improvement to customer service is the order of the day.

But never mind… Sainsbury’s have got plenty of offers to get stuck into:

Plenty of fizz:

Moët et Chandon Brut 2004 Vintage (Sainsbury’s £37.00 was £45.00)

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £30.00 was £35.00)

Jacquart Brut Rosé Mosaique NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £28.00 was £38.00)

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Mumm Cordon Rouge NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £30.00)

Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £22.00 was £34.00)


Some whites:

Brocard Chablis Premièr Cru 2012, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £14.50 was £16.00)

Louis Max Pouilly Fuisse 2012, Macon, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £16.50 was £18.50)

Antique Mollet Pouilly Fume 2012, Pouilly-sur-Loire (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £17.00)


Some reds:

Faustino 1 Rioja Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £18.00)

Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 (Sainsbury’s £13.00 was £18.00)

Bellingham The Bernard Series Syrah 2012, South Africa (Sainsbury’s £10.75 was £12.00)


Wine in the news

Rudy Kurniawan’s private cellar could help to repay victims:

Fine Wine Market Shows Signs of Life:

Merlot moves on 10 after Sideways:

More from dirty Tesco:

The best Xmas wine books:

Some Christmas hilarity from the Hosemaster:

Enjoy-2 copy

Light relief

These are 10 worst jokes… as voted for by the Irish!

Q: What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?

A: A Christmas quacker!


Q: What’s the most popular Christmas wine?

A: ‘I don’t like Brussels sprouts!’


Q: What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

A: Tinsilitis!


-Got my wife a wooden leg for Christmas.

-Not her main present, it’s just a stocking filler.


Q: Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party?

A: He’s a fungi to be with.


Q: What is Santa’s favorite pizza?

A: One that’s deep pan, crisp and even.


Q: What do you call a man who claps at Christmas?

A: Santapplause!


Q: Why does Santa like to work in the garden?

A: Because he likes to hoe, hoe, hoe!


Patient: Doctor, Doctor I’m scared of Santa

Doctor: You’re suffering from Claus-trophobia.


Q: Why was Santa Claus’ help so down?

A: Because he had low elf-esteem.


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 50 – Port, Douro Valley

It’s almost Xmas you thirsty winos… so it’s time to get festive and Mike has kicked off Port week on #newwinethisweek!


Port has always been a big thing with us Brits, especially at Xmas. Whether it’s a nip on the golf course (usually mixed with Brandy!), an accompaniment to Stilton or passing the port to the left at the end of a meal, we have a right old history with this fine fortified wine from Portugal. In fact many of the oldest and most famous producers are of English or Scottish origin (Warre’s, Croft, Taylor’s), however with the declaration of some outstanding vintages recently (2000, 2003, 2007, 2011), Port is now a big thing across all wine-thirsty markets, all around the globe.

Port & Stilton

Port is a fortified wine is produced in the mountainous and dramatic landscape of the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. The base wine is made using indigenous varieties such as the Touriga Nacional, Touriga Francesa or Tinta Barroca, which is then fortified with grape spirit or brandy; when the sweetness in the wine reaches a certain level, usually when the alcohol 6% to 8%, the clear, flavourless brandy, known as ‘aguardente’, is added to stop the fermentation. The finished wine is made in two different styles, bottle-aged and cask-aged. The usually cheaper cask-aged Ports are aged in wooden casks until they are ready to drink, the more expensive bottle-aged styles are aged for a short time in cask or tank and then do most of their maturing in bottle.


Pretty simple so far? This is wine, so nothing is every quite as simple as it first seems! There is a wide variety of different styles of Port on the market, all with their individual character and flavours. I’ve tried to pull of the main examples you will see on the shelves to help you when you go shopping



The cheapest and most widely produced type of port, which is stored in concrete or stainless steel tanks made of concrete or stainless steel, preventing any oxidisation and preserving the rich fruity flavours.



A premium Ruby Port that spends a couple of years in oak to soften and develop without losing it’s fresh, intense fruity character or the deep ruby colour. Reserve wines are smoother than Ruby and probably the best place to start your Port discovery.



Aged in wooden barrels, which allows the wine to slowly oxidise and evaporate, the result is a mellow, nutty wine with a lovely combination of fresh and dried fruits and a beautiful golden-brown colour. Tawny Port is the most similar Port to a classic dessert wine and works well with a variety of desserts, from chocolate to fruit-based goodies.


Late bottled vintage (LBV)

Produced with grapes from a single harvest, LBV is intended to provide an idea of what the Vintage Port will taste like without the need for lengthy bottle ageing. The wines are left in barrel for between 4 and 6 years and are ready to drink upon release. Look out for bottles with “bottle matured” on the label; these wines also have a minimum of three years of bottle ageing before release.



Produced in a style similar to Vintage Port, but quicker and at a cheaper price! The wine is made from a blend of different vintages and is aged for up to 4 years in cask and at least 3 years in bottle before release. The name “crusted” comes from the sediment (or crust) that forms at the bottom of the bottle as the wine ages.



Made entirely from the grapes from a single vintage and only declared in the very best years. Vintage ports are aged in barrels for a maximum of two and a half years before bottling, and then the waiting game begins; these wines generally require another ten to forty years of ageing in the bottle before reaching what is considered a proper drinking age. These are wines that can continue to gain complexity for many decades after they were bottled and rank alongside the finest produce of Bordeaux or Burgundy as one of the great iconic wines of the world. There has also been an increase in the number of “Single Quinta Vintage Ports”, which are wines that originate from a single estate.

Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Waitrose £19.00 was £22.00)

Sandeman LBV Port (Waitrose £12.99 was £15.99)

Graham’s 10 Year Old Tawny Port (Sainsbury’s £16.00 was £20.25)

Graham’s Crusted Port (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £20.00)

W&J Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port (Morrisons £10.49 was £13.49)

The Society’s Exhibition Crusted Port, Bottled 2006 (The Wine Society £13.95)

The Society’s Exhibition 10 years old Tawny Port (The Wine Society £17.00)


Note: I apologise for the need to have a Tesco rant. I usually recommend a wine or two from the UK’s biggest retailer but after my experience of using their Click & Collect service this Christmas, I am refusing to do so anymore. They advertise a 24 hour service, then AFTER payment inform you that it will probably be 48 hours… then take 9 (NINE!) days to finally deliver, with not a single email update in that time. Sorry about that, but given their current predicament(s) I would suggest a little more haste and an improvement to customer service.


Wine Geek Newsletter #94

nEWS 94

Hi Winos!

It’s all about packing at Chez-Geek this weekend… it’s just over a week until moving day! In my opinion this means drinking lots of wine so there is less to put in boxes! I have tried not to buy any wine over the past few weeks as the stocks are pretty healthy at the moment, but having chosen Kiwi Chardonnay for this week’s #newwinethisweek I couldn’t help but visit Roberson for a bottle of Felton Road; one of my very favourite white wines.

As well as that I’ve had a look at the Christmas deals in Majestic and also searched the web for some more dreadful festive jokes. So have a great weekend and spend a few quid more on a bottle… it’s nearly always worth it!


We’re staying in the Southern hemisphere this week but we’re cross the Tazman to explore a white wine that isn’t Sauvignon Blanc…


Supermarket wine

I’m sure there will be plenty of you going out an internal booze-cruise at Majestic pre-Xmas; it’s been a while since I’ve covered their offers so here are some top pick for this year’s seasonal festivities:

Starting with the 33% off stuff – remember you need to buy any 2 from this range (it used to be 2 of the same one) to get the discount (and buy a minimum of 6 bottles in total):


Nicolas Feuillatte NV Champagne (£14.99 was £22.50)

“R” de Ruinart NV Champagne (£33.31 was £50.00)

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009, Sussex (£23.98 was £35.99)

L’Extra par Langlois Brut NV Crémant de Loire (£11.24 was £14.99)


Whites (if you look hard enough there is more than Kiwi Sauvignon available!)

Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages ‘Les Roches Blanches’ 2013, Burgundy (£8.65 was £12.99)

Jean Vincent Pouilly-Fumé 2012, Loire (£9.99 was £14.99)

Waimea Estate Pinot Gris 2014, Nelson NZ (£9.99 was £14.99)

Quinta de Azevedo Vinho Verde 2013, Portugal (£6.66 was £9.99)

Viñalba Reservado Chardonnay 2013, Mendoza Argentina (£8.65 was £12.99)


Reds (again, if you get to page 4 online, there is more available than Rioja and Malbec!)

Marqués de Riscal Rioja Reserva 2009 (£9.99 was £14.99)

Lo Zoccolaio Barbera d’Alba Sucule 2011, Piedmont (£7.99 was £11.99)

Rustenberg RM Nicholson 2010, Stellenbosch (£9.32 was £13.99)

Errazuriz Estate Series Pinot Noir 2013, Aconcagua Chile (£7.99 was £11.99)

Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2012, Clare Valley Aus (£9.99 was £14.99)

MO Monastrell 2012, Alicante (£6.66 was £9.99)



Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011, Coastal Region SA (£8.65 was £12.99/37.5cl)

A Sticky End Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough NZ (£10.65 was £15.99/37.5cl)


And make sure you pick up a few of the 25% off deals too (especially the Guigal, Mum!)

Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2011 (£8.99 was £11.99)

Cave de Lugny Mâcon-Villages Blanc ‘Les Pierres Blanches’ 2013 (£7.98 was £10.99)

Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2012, California (£8.99 was £11.99)

Martín Codax As Caixas Godello 2013, Rias Baixas (£7.49 was £9.99)

Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2012, Barossa Valley (£8.99 was £11.99)

Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling 2013, Marlborough (£7.98 was £10.99)


Wine in the news

Justice for the Biodynamic One!

Naked Wines has become the UK’s most popular online wine retailer:

Rhone producers happy with the 2014 vintage:

Bordeaux wine museum millions over budget:

Emirates splashes out half a billion on $US on wine!


Light relief

Q: What do you call an elf who sings?

A: a wrapper!


Q: Why is Christmas just like your job?

A: You do all the work and the fat guy with the suit gets all the credit.


Q: Why is Santa so jolly?

A: Because he knows where all the naughty girls live..


Q: Whats the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?

A: The Christmas alphabet has Noel.


Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?

A: Claustrophobic.


Q: What do you call an obnoxious reindeer?

A: RUDEolph.


Q: Why was Santa’s little helper depressed?

A: Because he had low elf esteem.


Q: What’s the difference between snowmen and snowladies?

A: Snowballs.


Q: What nationality is Santa Claus?

A: North Polish.


Q: What do you call a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa?

A: A rebel without a Claus.


The 4 stages of life:

  1. You believe in Santa Claus
  2. You don’t believe in Santa Claus
  3. You dress up as Santa Claus
  4. You look like Santa Claus


Xmas sarnie diaries

Updates from the Starbucks, Co-op, Tesco and Sainsbury’s… one of them is dreadful… guess which one??


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 49 – Chardonnay, New Zealand


If New Zealand has a signature white wine it has to be Sauvignon Blanc. Since the first vintage of Cloudy Bay in 1985, the pungent flavours and aromas of gooseberries and tropical fruit, combined with searing acidity, have made Kiwi SB a favourite all over the world. But there is far more to New Zealand whites that SB; Riesling is made in every possible style, or how about luscious Pinot Gris or spicy Gruner Veltliner? In my mind, the very best white wines coming out of New Zealand these days are the Chardonnays; from crisp and mineral to fat and buttery, you can get it all from the land of the land of the long white cloud…

New Zealand



The area planted to vines in New Zealand was less than 6,000ha back in 1985; in 2013 that number was approaching 36,000ha. Sauvignon Blanc tops the tables with a massive 57% of plantings, followed by Pinot Noir at 15% and Chardonnay at 9%. The statistic from New Zealand Winegrowers also shows a small decline in Chardonnay plantings, but the best is getting better and the focus is heading towards quality, not quantity.

It used to be the case that the wines of the warmer climate of the North Island, from Auckland, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, were fuller and richer; the Southern Island wines, including Marlborough

and Otago, had more citrus, minerality and acidity. These days, the winemaking techniques have evolved that Chardonnay is being made in a wide variety of styles across a wide variety of regions.

As we are learning with our #newwinethisweek investigation, it pays to spend a bit more with most wines; NZ Chardonnay is no exception. There is very little good quality wine available under £10 so I suggest you spend a couple of quid more and give yourself a real treat this week.


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

Wairau Cove Chardonnay 2012, Gisborne (Tesco £10.99)

Kaituna Hills Reserve Chardonnay 2012, Marlborough (M&S £10.99)

The Society’s Exhibition Chardonnay 2013, Auckland (The Wine Society £13.50)


Or try out a couple of my favourites; a few quid more but won’t disappoint:

Seresin Chardonnay Reserve 2012, Marlborough (The Wine Society £18.00)

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2009, Auckland (Waitrose £18.99)

Felton Road Bannockburn Chardonnay 2011, Central Otago (Roberson £24.95)

Greywacke Chardonnay 2011, Marlborough (The Wine Society £27.00)


Whatever you choose just let us know what you think!



Wine Geek Newsletter #93


Hi Winos

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! I’ve had my first Xmas dinner, my first work party and my twentieth seasonal sandwich! So this is my first festive newsletter with lots of great supermarket deals and some great cracker-jokes to start getting you in celebratory mood. Get those trees decorated and celebrate with some class in a glass!


It doesn’t get any better in the winter than a Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre blend… so lets head to the sun down under… is that irony??


Supermarket wine

Sainsbury’s are running their buy any 6 bottles and get 25% off until the 8th December – here are some wines already on promotion then you add on the 25% discount too… Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001 for £10.50 anyone?

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £30.00 was £35.00)

Jacquart Brut Rosé Mosaique NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £28.00 was £38.00)

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Mumm Cordon Rouge NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £35.00)

Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £25.00 was £30.00)

Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Sainsbury’s £22.00 was £34.00)

Some options for the big day:

Brocard Chablis Premièr Cru 2012, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £14.50 was £16.00)

Faustino 1 Rioja Gran Reserva 2001, Rioja (Sainsbury’s £14.00 was £18.00)

Rocca Guicciarda Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 (Sainsbury’s £13.00 was £18.00)

Ascheri Gavi Di Gavi 2012, Piedmont (Sainsbury’s £11.00 was £14.00)

Taste the Difference for great everyday value:

TTD Gigondas 2012, Rhône (Sainsbury’s £13.00)

TTD Crozes Hermitage 2012, Rhône (Sainsbury’s £10.00)

TTD Barbaresco 2010, Piedmont (Sainsbury’s £8.00 was £10.00)

TTD Priorat 2011, Priorat (Sainsbury’s £7.50 was £11.00)

TTD Sancerre 2013, Loire (Sainsbury’s £12.75)

TTD Chablis 2012, Burgundy (Sainsbury’s £10.00)

TTD Muscadet de Sevre et Maine 2013, Loire (Sainsbury’s £7.00)

TTD Grüner Veltliner 2013, Austria (Sainsbury’s £7.50)


Tesco have most of their Champagne on offer this week, including Moet’s highly rated recently released 2006 vintage. There are also a few nice buys on some still wines too:

Moet & Chandon 2006 Vintage Champagne (Tesco £34.99 was £43.99)

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label NV Champagne (Tesco £30.00 was £36.99)

Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial NV Champagne (Tesco £24.99 was £32.99)

Lanson Black Label NV Champagne (Tesco £22.66 was £33.99)

Finest Rose NV Champagne (Tesco £19.99 was £24.99)

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

Finest Cune Rioja Gran Reserva 2007, Spain (Tesco £20.99 was £23.99)

Finest Vinha Do Vinteiro Douro Reserve 2011, Portugal (Tesco £16.99 was £19.99)

Saint-Joseph Cuvee D’automme 2011, Rhone (Tesco £9.99 was £14.99)

Finest Pouilly Fume 2013, Loire (Tesco £8.99 was £11.99)

Bellingham The Bernard Basket Syrah 2012, South Africa (Tesco £7.99 was £10.99)

Finest Chablis Grande Cuvee 2012, Burgundy (Tesco £7.99 was £9.99)

RelativesWine in the news

I love lists! The Wine Spectator’s top 100 of 2014:

10 great wines to serve with your turkey:

Need an Xmas gift for a wine lover? How about one of these books?

d’Arenberg gets a facelift

Over 40% of Brits will buy wine online this Christmas… Will you?


Light relief

I still can’t work out whether these are the worst or best Christmas cracker joke; let’s go with best… until next week!


What’s brown and sweet and glides around an ice rink?

Bourneville and Dean


What’s a specimen?

An Italian astronaut


What do you call a short sighted dinosaur?

A do-you-think-he-saw-us!


What do you call a man with brown paper trousers?



What do you call a man with a pole through his leg?



Why would you invite a mushroom to a Christmas party?

He’s a fun guy to be with.


Why was Santa’s little helper feeling depressed?

He had low elf-esteem.


Who was England’s first chiropodist?

William the Corncurer


Why should husbands make the early morning tea for their wives?

Because the Bible says He Brews


What’s the longest word in the English language?

Smiles, because there is a “mile” between the first and the last letters.


What is Santa’s favourite pizza?

One that’s deep pan, crisp and even.


On which side do chickens have the most feathers?

The outside.


What kind of paper likes music?

(W)rapping paper.


What’s white and goes up?

A confused snowflake.


What do you call a woman who stands between two goal posts?



Did you hear about the man who bought a paper shop?

It blew away.


What’s furry and minty?

A polo bear.


How do snowmen get around?

They ride an icicle.


Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?

A mince spy.


What do you call a penguin in the Sahara desert?



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 48 – GSM, Australia


Most of the wines we have selected for #newwinethisweek since the beginning of the year have been single varieties from a single place, however some of the best wines in the world are blends. The great wines of Bordeaux and the Southern Rhône as well as most of Champagne’s output are blends and now the New World are starting to play around with new varieties and different combinations.

In reality, many of the famous wines of the New World are already blends. In Napa Valley for example, only 75% of the grapes need to be Cab Sav, other grapes are added to bump up the colour and/or alcohol level. In Australia, many winemakers are adding quantities of Viognier to their Shiraz, mirroring the fabulous wines of Côte Rôtie in the Northern Rhône. But it’s the ‘GSM’ blends that have really caught my attention over the past few months.


The ‘GSM’ blend is a combination of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre, three of the varieties that often blended together to create the greatest wines of the Southern Rhône. With alcohol and power from Grenache, fruit and body from Shiraz, and elegance and structure from the Mouvedre, a combination of the three grapes create wines of complexity, length and plenty of enjoyment.

It’s difficult to pinpoint particular aromas and flavours as the blend is different with each winemaker and each vintage, but expect plenty of black fruit, spicy pepper and grippy tannin; brilliant with meaty, warming stews; perfect for this time of year.

So it’s time to get excited about blends and get into some serious stuff from down under:


Rawnsley Estate Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2013 (Tesco £10.99)

Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2012 (Morrisons £11.99)

Hackett Old Vine Grenache 2012 (Wine & the Vine £12.45)

Marananga Dam Grenache Shiraz Mourvédre 2011 (M&S £14.99)

Turkey Flat ‘Butcher’s Block’ Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2012 (Majestic £14.99)

d’Arenberg The Ironstone Pressings GSM 2007 (Waitrose £27.99)


So grab yourself a bottle, have a glass, leave a score and a review… vote GSM!




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