Le Pallet – Muscadet-sèvre Et Maine,2009

LePallet MuscadetWhen a wine is made in a Cru Village ‘Le Pallet’ in  France’s  Loire valley and has a Decanter Gold Medal ‘Best in Show’ sticker on it, there’s a good chance it’s going to be pretty good and that’s exactly what this turned out to be, a pretty decent bottle of wine.

Muscadet, made with the slightly less well known ‘Melon de Bourgogne’ grape is not everyone’s cup of tea (or glass of wine), it’s quite sharp and in this case very dry but it just tastes amazingly fresh and clean

I first sampled this at my local ‘Majestic’ wine store at one of their always enjoyable tasting evenings and it was by far the best white wine of the night.

Nice clear straw like colour but with restrained aromas even after vigorous swirling, however, there was a little pear, melon and a nuttiness about it.

On first taste, this is clean, crisp and bone dry. There wasn’t a lot of flavours going on but I loved the vibrant freshness and it had a beautiful minerality about it, like pebbles in a mountain stream. This is partially oaked and you can taste it and along with a slightly creamy texture. Not much in the way of fruit coming through although there is a hint of lemon peel, toffe apple and it finishes with a little salty tang.

Perhaps not to everyones taste but I loved the simple fresh crispness of this wine. Great with seafood of any kind, I had this with fish & chips and it paired brilliantly refreshing the pallet after every mouthful. If you haven’t tried Muscadet give it a go, especially if you enjoy dry crisp wines and I would definitely recommend this.

Le Pallet Muscadet is a MUST-A-BUY !

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Majestic £9.99 on Multibuy


Luis Felipe Edwards Estate Collection Pinot Noir 2013

LPE Pinot Noir Chile 14%

One of the attractions of this bottle apart from being from Chile and the fact that it was on offer were the two award stickers on the top left of the label, one being a silver award from the IWSC (International Wine & Spirit competition) and the other a gold award from AWC (Vienna International Wine Challenge).

I have tasted the 2012 and looking back over my notes I see I enjoyed it, so what was the 2013 like, well, again I kind of enjoyed it but I can’t remember the 2012 having quite as strangely intense nose as this, think cooking a dish of fried liver on bonfire night that’s exactly what the nose was like, burnt out fireworks and liver were really prominent, muted red fruits including strawberries and cherries were there but way in the background.

Colour was very light (could see my fingers through the glass), taste was on the sweet side and a little more fruity than the nose, strawberry pastilles, candied cigarettes, smoke and a little spice, I can’t help feeling though,  the taste was perhaps a little artificial.

Paired this with roast chicken and it went pretty well but I couldn’t get that burnt out firework smell out of my head or should I say the nose. Not the best Pinot Noir I’ve had, definitely not the worst, not a lot more to say.

6corksMy Rating 6/10 Corks

Various stores around £7


** Had a little drop left to try  the next day, in my opinion, much better, the over the top aroma had settled and the fruit  much more to the fore, if perhaps still a little sweet.

So, maybe open this and drink it the next day

Serabel Vacqueyras Lidl Beauty

Serabel Vacueyras France 13.5%

After hearing a lot of good things about wines being sold at Lidl’s, I decided to try a few out even though I had to travel around seven  miles for my nearest store. This is the first of six bottles I bought from their premium range which included mostly French bottles and I must say what a great start.

This is a Southern Rhone blend of Grenache around 60%, Syrah 20% and Mourevedre 20%  made in the shadow of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. The bottle was impressive and very heavy with its embossed crossed keys and Vacqueyras, very stylish. When poured, it was a dark ruby colour with a tinge of rustiness around the edges.

Beautiful nose of blackberries, dark cherries, smokey bonfire and forest earth. There was a dark fruit sweetness in the mouth which turned into a slightly bitter finish. Although rustic it still had a kind of elegance and smoothness but with a hefty kick of spices, smokey and noticeable tannins.

This was a delight which improved with time in the glass and for around £8 well worth the money. Found it hard but kept a little back for tomorrow to see how it holds up, my expectations are high.

I just hope the other bottles I bought live up to this but as I said earlier this was a fabulous start to my Lidl adventure and this Vacqueyras comes highly recommended.


8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Lidl stores around £8.99

Waitrose Chilean Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2013

Waitrose Sauvignon BlancChile12%

I must admit after drinking a lot of very good  Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, it has been a real revelation to find a different style of SB which I have enjoyed almost as much. I think this particular bottle was a Christmas present but I can’t remember who from, maybe my Brother in Law but maybe not, memory eh, probably an age thing, now where was I ?

Oh yes, this Chilean offering (ingeniously labelled, Waitrose Chilean Sauvignon Blanc) from the Aconcagua Valley is produced in partnership with Vina Valdivieso. Back in August of 2014 I drank an excellent bottle of Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from the same region and I was mightily impressed.

This bottle although not quite in the same league as the Errazuriz was still a very pleasant drink. Very light and clear in colour with subdued aromas of asparagus, cut grass and lemons.  The first mouthful tasted fresh and vibrant with Lemons and limes, not as sharp as a New Zealand SB, a much more drier taste, even slightly creamy and good minerality. The finish wasn’t particularly long but saying that it was ok-ish (sorry, best word I could come up with).

If you want a different style of Sauvignon Blanc that’s not so in your face and intense than this might well do the job nicely, refreshingly good as a food wine and pleasant enough to drink on its own. I’d have no hesitation in recommending this solid SB and at around £7.99 pretty good value especially as a mid-week tipple.


7corksMy Rating 7/10 Corks

Waitrose £7.99

And the winner of best Red Wine is…..

Honoro OscarsHonoro Vera Garnacha 2012 from Bodegas Ateca in Calatayud Northern Spain , the wine served during the Gala Dinner at the 2013 Oscars in which Argo the American political thriller won best film

First tasted this wine at the Good Food & Wine Show Olympia a couple of years ago where I attended the wine Tube Map event run by Nikki Welch. Here this Garnacha was voted the best of the reds in their excellent tasting, when i arrived home I immediately ordered a case from Hatties Wines and now I’m down to my last bottle of this wonderful stuff. When I first tasted this I was blown away by it, for the price it was one of the best Garnacha’s I’ve tasted in a while, balanced intense fruit with a spicy earthiness and creamy finish and a brilliant label.

Honoro Vera medleyVery brooding and inky black in the glass with wonderful heady aromas of rich ripe plums, cherries, cranberries and dark chocolate with an underlying essence of smoke and perhaps a little church incense.

On first sip, this was full-bodied, full of ripe sweet dark fruits including plums, raspberries and cherries, creamy tasting with an impressive smokiness about it. This had a brilliant mouthfeel bursting with that sweetish acidic fruit and mild tannins.

Drank this with Sirloin Steak and chips and it paired beautifully.

Must admit I am partial to a good Garnacha and this is a wonderful example of it and for £9.99 excellent value, better than some Garnacha/Grenache I’ve tasted at three times the price, although I have seen this in Spain for as little as 4 Euros, which is a steal.

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Hatties wines £9.99


Villa Maria Private Bin Merlot 2013

villa maria MerlotNew Zealand 13.5%

Rummaging around my wine rack, trying to fight my way through many bottles of Spanish wines I seem to have accumulated and trying to ignore the temptation to pick out a bottle of Rioja I decided finally to try something different and something I wouldn’t normally have with Lamb Chops and Mediterranean vegetables the bottle I finally settled on was the Hawkes Bay Villa Maria Private bin Merlot 2013.

Always been a fan of Villa Maria wines and when attending tasting events Villa Maria is always amongst one of the first stands I usually visit, I particularly enjoy their Pinot Noirs especially the Reserve and their Cellar selection.

I opened this just before dinner and couldn’t resist a little sniff and sip and I must say I was slightly disappointed, trouble is I’ve had such positive experiences from Villa Maria I didn’t expect this. Another sniff and aromas of Cherries and plums didn’t exactly jump out of the glass although they were there if you inhaled for long enough.

Didn’t get any earthy or smokey flavours in the mouth, bit lacking in depth and surprisingly a little thin tasting, it was very fruity, full of sharp red fruits, including raspberry, cherry and plums. The tartness was the dominant force but it seemed to be much better when paired with the food and by the end of the meal I enjoyed it far more than my initial taste.

Having said what I have, I still think this is probably better than a lot of wines in this price range but the bar has been set  so high with other Villa Maria wines I’ve tasted, this was however, a touch disappointing.

6corksMy Rating 6/10 Corks

Various around £10


Gru Vee Baby !

Gruner VeltlinerMorrAustria 12.5%

Gruner Veltliner or to the trendies ‘Gru Vee’ (Austin Powers springs to mind) is the signature grape from Austria and this ‘Signature series’ bottle from Morrisons was a real pleasant surprise to me.

I must admit Austrian wines are generally not top of my shopping list but Gru Vee may well find its way into my shopping basket from now on, especially as the summer arrives.

When poured it was a beautifully clear and fresh looking in the glass and looked very inviting but I was a little disappointed when after sticking my nose in the glass the aromas were fairly muted, there was a faint hint of peach but not much else however vigorously I swirled.

The real pleasure in this wine is the taste, bursting with crisp freshness the citrus fruits danced around in my mouth, a little lemon peel which gave it that slight bitterness along with maybe a touch of grapefruit added to the liveliness. There was also the peach which gave it a sweetness to counteract the tartness but what really was noticeable was the spice in the form of white pepper, which really came through on the finish which was incredibly long.

I drank this with fish but I would say it’s extremely flexible and would pair with most foods including spicy curries. Gruner Veltliner may not be on everyone’s radar but if you haven’t tried it give it a go, brilliant for summer sun and barbecues.

Gru Vee Baby

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Morrisons £6.99

Picasso, Painting and Wine

Cubist GarnachaSpain 14%

Picking a wine on nothing but the name, label or bottle sometimes works, more often it doesn’t. That’s exactly what I did when buying this ‘Cubist Old Vine Garnacha 2012’ that was made in the mountains south west of Aragon in north eastern Spain with 100 year old vines, hence the ‘Old Vine’ on the label.

I paint a bit and Picasso happens to be one of my favourite artists, so I actually picked it because I liked the name and bottle which I must say was particularly heavy and I loved the Picasso style label of a bunch of grapes on twisted old vines. Was it any good? Read on to find out.

Made with 100% Garnacha, it was surprisingly light in the glass, expected this to be a little darker but it did have a really pronounced smell of smoke (bonfire ash), a little bit of cherry fruit and raspberries but it was the smokiness that really stood out which I found quite appealing.

One of my Picasso attempts in Acrylics

In the mouth it again felt lighter than I thought it would considering the 14% alcohol content but bursting with fruit and very aromatic with cherries, blackberries and a hint of strawberry, the smokiness was there but not as full on as the nose and finishing with a kick of spice.

This really was fruit dominant but along with that lovely aroma of smoke this was a pretty nice wine that you could drink on its own, with a plate of Tapas or with a main meal.
Around £9.99 in Waitrose this was a great impulse buy and I will be going back for more.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Waitrose £9.99


Cara Nord Negre 2012

Cara NordSpain 13.5%

Off to north eastern Spain in the Catalonian region for my next wine the Cara Nord Negre 2012, a Blend of Syrah, Garnacha and Garrut (Monastrell aka Mourvedre).

An impressively dark brooding wine, so inky in colour that you probably dip a fountain pen in a glass and write a short story with it, if anyone can remember what a fountain pen is.

This wine is made in Conca de Barberà to the north of Tarragona in a region that’s more used to producing Cava. The winery only makes two wines at the moment the other being the Cara Nord Blanc a blend of Macabeo, Chardonnay and Albarino.

When I opened the bottle the aroma was quite stinky and pronounced, rich with blackcurrant, dark cherries, herbs and dark bitter Chocolate. I decided to give it a little air for an hour or so and it did mellow slightly.

My first sip told me that this was very much a food wine full of blackberries, dark cherries with a rich, smokey and a robust earthiness. There was a little woodiness from the oak, dark chocolate and fine dusty tannins. The wine did open up a bit after a little while but there was still a rustic harshness about it which I kind of liked.

With food it was a pretty decent drink, I had a glass after the food and again it was pretty decent but I would say slightly better with something to eat.

Bought this from the Wine Society for around £10 and it’s pretty much what it’s worth, although it looks like they now only stock the white which I’ve yet to try and is on my list.

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Wine Society around £10