Beaujolais – Villages 2013

societybeaujolais(450 x 600)France 12.5%

There are not many grape varieties I don’t like but saying that the one that causes me to react negatively more often than any other is Gamay. Never been a fan of it, never been a fan of Beaujolais and this offering from the Wine Society hasn’t changed my mind. Not to say that it’s a bad wine far from it, just not for me.

This particular Beaujolais from the Wine Society is a ‘Villages’ classification and is generally given good reviews by experts and Society members. Nothing actually wrong with the wine it’s well made , nice purple colour and fresh looking In the glass with aromas of cherries and bubblegum (Bazooka Joes spring to mind).

Taste – Light in body, very fruity, again dark cherries, perhaps a little spice, very acidic, liquorice and slightly chalky. Can see how it would appeal to a lot of people but put simply I just don’t like the taste. It did improve after around 20 minutes or so in the glass and with food it was drinkable.

Will I continue with my quest for a Beaujolais I might like, only if somebody puts a glass of something spectacular in my hand, a Cru ( Julienas, Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, to name a few) then it would be rude not to taste it.

7corksAs a well made wine my Rating would be 7/10 Corks 

Wine Society £7.50

Rating for my own personal taste would be 5.5/10 Corks


GSM 2012 – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, Muzzy head and tickly throat.

GSM M&SSpain 13 %

Now tasting wine when you have a bunged up head and a tickly throat is not recommended but it was either a couple of glasses of the this or a dose of ‘Night Nurse’.

Now I really like Grenache, really like Syrah and I really like Mourvedre so this GSM from M&S should have been an ideal blend and on the whole it didn’t disappoint.

Dark crimson in the glass, with a sweetish candy like aroma (through slightly blocked nose) of blackcurrant pastilles and those cherry drops popular a few years back.

Even with my taste buds taking a vacation I could still make out how fruity this wine really was, even though the blend was is in fairly equal ratios Grenache 34%, Syrah 33% and Mourvedre 33%, the Grenache really took centre stage, the tannins were mild and the Syrah provided a touch of spice.

I know the phrase ‘easy drinking wine’ gets used a lot but this really was an ‘easy drinking wine’. Nothing complex and reasonably priced, paired brilliantly with Spaghetti Bolognese  but it would also go with any stew type meal.

Enjoyed this as much as I could with a muzzy head and redundant taste buds but I still think this is an Ok wine and I will be sure to revisit this soon hopefully with a clear head and clear nostrils.

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 corks

M&S  £6.99

Finest Argentina Mendoza Malbec & Finest Swartland Pinotage

malbecpinotage(450 x 600)Argentina 13.5%

South Africa 14%

I’ve been spoilt lately drinking some pretty decent wines but the last couple have been a what I would call a ‘safe nice’ and the other ‘kinda nice’ but not as safe.

The two bottles in question are an Argentinian Malbec and a South African Pinotage, both from the Tesco Finest range.

The Malbec was by far the better of the two and although not a dinner party wine it was perfectly acceptable for a midweek tipple and I enjoyed it. Actually bought this a while back when it was on special offer, think I paid around £5 and at that price it was hard to be overly critical.

When poured it was a very inky and vibrant in the glass, with pronounced aromas of rich dark plums and berries. Taste wise – quite sweet, dare I say it, jammy but a nice jammy. Dense flavours of berries, plums, smooth dark chocolate, a little tannic but still with a fairly smooth taste and longish finish.

As I said earlier, this was a safe even enjoyable wine, for around £5-£7 no real complaints and even my son who is not a wine drinker nodded his head in approval when poured a glass.

Now the South African Pinotage was a little different, I know this grape is not to everyone’s liking and I’ve heard it called the ‘Marmite grape’ (you either like it or you don’t). I’m firmly in the ‘like it’ camp although this particular bottle didn’t quite hit the spot.

Not as earthy or smokey tasting as some Pinotages, this one having more of a fruitier tang to it. Lightish in colour with aromas of cherries mainly and with a slight whiff of mocha.
Quite a big mouthful of chocolate and cherries but with that tang I mentioned earlier, no real earthiness to speak of and my wife who tried it with me pulled a face on first taste and ended up not finishing the glass. I on the other hand did finish my glass followed by another couple and with food it was ‘kinda nice’ but perhaps a little too tangy for me to really give it the thumbs up.

7corksTesco Finest Mendoza Malbec £6

My Rating 7/10 Corks


5.5 corksTesco Finest Swartland Pinotage

My Rating 5.5/10 Corks

Tapas Fantasticas 2014 – Potters Fields Park, Southwark

IMAG0303 (600 x 359) (600 x 359)TapasFanlogo2What could be better than a gentle stroll down by the river Thames walking past HMS Belfast, Tower of London and passing under the shadow of Tower Bridge? how about throwing in a dash of Spanish wine, food, music and dance.


That’s what my wife Agnes, myself and a small group of friends did when we attended the brilliant ‘Tapas Fantasticas 2014’ hosted by ‘Wines of Rioja’.

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Jose Cooking Scallops
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Eagerly waiting for food and wine

It’s a festival of Spanish culture, and lifestyle in which wine and food feature heavily, now into its seventh year the event just seems to get better and better.

We arrived on a pretty dull day, with the weathermen promising us some sunshine as the afternoon goes by but just as we entered the gates of the event the inevitable happened and it started to rain so plan B was executed, we went to see if we could get in on any of the Workshops and get out of the rain, luckily we managed to get into a cooking and wine matching workshop. The program included Spanish Chef Jose Pizarro cooking some Scallops in a Cauliflower Puree and Chorizo Croquettes and Wine Expert Susy Atkins plying us with two rather large glasses of White Rioja and Rosado with the white being particularly good. The demo lasted for around 45 minutes and a very good show it was too, with the added bonus of the rain stopping, always nice when a plan comes together.

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Bodega Las Orcas, Decenio Tempranillo
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Bodega Las Orcas Decenio Viura
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Egomei Finca 2009
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Finca Manzanos







Before too much wine was consumed we decided to eat and all chose different dishes from the vast array of food stalls around. Agnes and I sampled a very nice plate of Pork belly, some Patatas Bravas cooked with Chorizo, Ham, cod croquettes and Paella.
Tapasfan6(450 x 600)With traditional music being played live in the background, we proceeded on our quest for wine. There were over 40 stalls featuring wines from all over Rioja, some larger producers but also the lesser known smaller family run bodegas, all of them eager to serve you tasting samples or wine by the glass. I was really impressed with wines from the Bodegas Las Orcas, their Decenio range was excellent and the White Viura was a big favourite with our group, including me but I really did like their reds. Others we enjoyed were Marques de la Concordia, Marques de Vargas, Finca Egomei (expensive and elegant), Marques de Reinosa and that’s only a few of many great tastings.
Finished off the day with another workshop this time wines picked by Suzy Atkins in which we again tasted 5 fabulous wines, Viura, Rose, Crianza, Reserva and finally a Gran Reserva 2001.

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I urge anybody who hasn’t been to this event to attend next year, party atmosphere, friendly people and even though there was a lot of wine flowing, no sign of any trouble what so ever. Even the sun came out ‘Tapas Fantasticas’ really is Fantastico, roll on next year!

Dolcetto D’Asti 2012

M&S dolcetto DAsti(450 x 600)Italy 13%

Like old clapped out Fiat of thirty years ago this is one Italian I’m afraid, that just doesn’t work properly. The label on the bottle claims it’s a ‘gorgeous red bursting with mouth filling fruitiness’, well for me, not quite, especially after the initial taste in which I would more accurately describe it as ‘ Simple everyday red, bursting with tart really sour fruit and mouth puckering tannins’.

Ok, it’s not that bad, not a wine I could drink on its own though, it really does need food to enjoy this and with a plate of pasta, tomato sauce and pork meatballs it kind of worked, especially after chilling the bottle for around half an hour in the fridge.

In the glass it looked pretty good, surprisingly dark in colour, with quite a whiff of dark cherries and liquorice.
The first initial sip although fresh tasting was of very sour red fruits, noticeable tannins and caused me to pull a slightly screwed up face. It was bursting with sour cherries and blueberries and it’s and in some respects it’s meant to have that sharp dry taste but it was a little bit too acidic and tart for me.

But wait, after a mouthful of meatballs and pasta the wine took on a new dimension and it complemented the food very nicely, the sharp acidity worked brilliantly with the tomato sauce and I ended up sort of enjoying it.

At £6.99 pretty much what it’s worth, not brilliant but not that bad either, a wine to drink with food to really get the best out of it.

5.5 corksMy Rating 5.5/10 Corks

M&S £6.99

Kangarilla Road Shiraz 2009 – McLaren Vale

kangarilla 2009(450 x 600)

Australia 14%

Kangarilla Road great name great looking bottle, bought six of these a few years ago, this is the last one and unlike me they get better and better with age.

Named after the road that runs into the small village of Kangarilla, McLaren Vale, South Australia, its name translates from the Aborignal word meaning ‘an abundance of local resources’.

In Its boutique style black bottle and label this is a classy Shiraz that won’t disappoint (unless you happen not to like Shiraz).

As soon as the cap is unscrewed and the wine is poured this very dark inky liquid settles causing an aroma of rich ripe berries, sweet spices and vanilla to leap out of the glass leading up to a heady and pleasurable ‘Mmmmm’ .

Taste wise my first thoughts were of liquidised Black Forest Gateaux, velvety tannins and a rich smoothness . Ripe and I mean really ripe dark berry fruits coat the mouth with vanilla, sweet menthol spices and dark chocolate, this really was a lovely tasting wine.

As you probably gathered I like this wine a lot and as I search for the elusive 9 or maybe 10 corks out of ten this almost makes my first 9 but not quite, if I could I would give it 8.75 but 8.5 it has to be. So my quest for the 9 & 10 corks continues. Sorry for all those numbers in this paragraph sounds like a maths equation.

Big thumbs up for this Aussie beauty then, good on ya !

8.5corksMy rating huge 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic  around £14