Home of Cricket & wine from a plastic cup

Sorry for the late post, been on holiday but just before we went away our daughter kindly treated us to tickets to watch the one day Cricket international England v Ireland on 7th May at Lords (the home of cricket).

Lords being the only ground that allows you to bring in food and drink, we went armed with a picnic and of course a couple of bottles of wine. Unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast,  so a coat and warm  top was the order of the day but that didn’t spoil what turned out to be a brilliant day.

Nestled in the cooler bag amongst the Chicken Pasta and nibbles were the wines in question, a Brancott Estate 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Selected by my wife whose a big Brancott Estate fan) and a French Syrah Les Vieilles Vignes Maris 2015  which I bought from Waitrose on offer for around £8.

Now Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc is a wine we always have a stock of and generally everyone in our family really enjoy it. I personally think it’s an excellent everyday Sovee especially for the price and has wonderful aromas of freshly cut grass and fruit salad with the bright flavours of kiwi fruit and crisp green apples perfect for a nice warm sunny day. Unfortunately, at times our side of the ground was in shade and most of us were in jumpers and coats but in contrast the  other side was in bright sunshine and the crowd were all in t-shirts and sunglasses but that’s the British weather for you. It still didn’t spoil our enjoyment  of the game or the wine, even if it was out of a plastic cup.

Now the French Syrah was a bit of a beast but hugely enjoyable none the less and one I would have no hesitation in buying again. Full of rich dark plums, touch of acidity and powerful tannins, there was also a fair lashing of earthiness and spice, this really was a rustic wine with a touch of class.

Oh yeah, the cricket game was pretty good as well with Ireland making a game of it for a while but England’s class showed through in the end and won fairly comfortably  but not without a fight and the odd scare. All in all a fabulous day out good entertainment, good food and good wine.

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2015

My rating 7/10 Corks

Widely available around £7-£8

Les Vieilles Vignes Maris  Syrah 2015

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Normally £10.99 on offer at time for £8

 

Majestic Stratford Upon Avon Fine Wine Tasting April 2017

As regular readers will know that I belong to a wine Forum called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and once a year our group meet up for a weekend of basically, drinking lots of wine. This year we met at Stratford Upon Avon and we thought we would signed up for a ‘Fine Wine Tasting’ at the local Majestic store. An initial fee of £20 per person was paid but that is redeemable on any wine purchases after the event.

Big thanks to our head girl Clare who runs the forum and for organising everything so superbly !

We arrived at 1.30pm on Saturday the 8th April, an early start for drinking I know but we have to make sacrifices sometime. There was a slight confusion with the time as they had us down for 2.00pm which we found out was their mistake but it wasn’t a problem as we spent the time browsing around the store with a glass of Moet & Chandon 2008 Champagne (is there a better way to shop).

A table was laid out in the corner of the store for us as we finally settled down for the tasting first up was the Moet & Chandon again. This was a beautifully balanced single vintage Champagne full of intense apple and lemon fruit, lively mousse with a pronounced bready, nutty and a creamy aftertaste producing a very long, extremely enjoyable finish and loved by everyone. (Top ups were not refused).

Second wine was a Rosé the Miraval 2015 Cotes de Provence bought by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in 2009 and made by the Perrin family. Pale pink almost Salmon like colour with a very strange almost peaty aroma although there was a hint of strawberry, it just smelt a bit weird. Taste wise again it was not what we expected there were elements of soft fruit including strawberry, peach and pear. Slightly flowery but with a slightly overpowering herby, earthy flavour which most of us found a bit strange, think my wife and I liked it more than the others, so overall a little bit of a miss.

Third was the impressive Greywackey 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd.  From the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. On first sip it was greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning. Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of  lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.  Refills all around and the bottle didn’t last long, superb stuff.

The Last white was an unusual oaked Chardonnay from Italy, the Planeta 2015 with heady aromas of butterscotch, banana and vanilla. On first taste I was initially hit by what tasted like barley sugar along with caramelised banana, there was a creaminess about it and the oak definitely stood out, again this split us although nobody disliked it and I thought it was very good.

With the whites finished next up were the reds starting with a Pinot Noir from Martinborough New Zealand the impressive Escarpment 2014 generally liked by all. Pronounced aromas of soft dark fruits, smokey and earthy. Cherry and plums to the fore with a kick of spice on the palate, earthiness coming through but not intrusive. Nicely balanced wine.

Next up was a big favourite, the Chateau Haut Balailley 2011  but it comes at a price for a whopping £40 per single bottle. Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.  As you can see from the picture we emptied the bottle.

A Gran Reserva Rioja next the Marques de Riscal 2007 this is everything a Rioja should be full of red cherries a little strawberry, leather, incense, oak, candlewax and tobacco. Ten year old wine that went down well with everybody including my wife who doesn’t generally like oakey Riojas, fabulous example of what Spain does well.

This was suppose to be the end of the tasting, but the guys at Majestic (who were very good, amiable and knowledgeable) decided we were enjoying ourselves so much that they opened up another couple of bottle for us to try.

First was another French red the Caronne Ste-Gemme 2011 Haut Medoc and again enjoyed by all, dark ripe blackberries, menthol, tannic, rich and chocolately but this time, I’d have to say, more of a food wine but none the less enjoyable.

Last but not least a black Muscat dessert wine called Elysium 2015 even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines you cannot fail to be impressed with this. smells like Turkish Delight and that rose like flavour carries on in the taste, not overly sweet and a big thumbs up from all around the table.

Thanks to the guys at Majestic for a superb tasting, (one of the better ones I’ve attended) they were very generous letting us drink as much as we wanted and we all went away pretty happy if a little unsteady.

My rating 9/10 Corks (for the whole tasting)

The Kauri Tree Sauvignon Blanc 2014

kauri-tree-sbTook a chance on this bottle of ‘Sovee Bee’ as it was on offer at Sainsburys, my wife and daughter tend to like most wines from New Zealand as do I and the fact that it was only £5 on offer it found its way into my shopping basket along with the few groceries I only went in store for in the first place.

‘Sovee Bee’ as regular readers will know is what my daughter calls Sauvignon Blanc and as much as I try not to I often end up finding myself referring to it in the same slightly annoying but at the same time slightly addictive way.

The name Kauri refers to the tallest tree found in the north island of New Zealand sometimes reaching up to 50m high.

Before I get into the review a quick fact about Hawkes Bay New Zealand, which is situated along the east coast of the north Island, it was given its name by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke who defeated the French at the battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759.

Anyway, so much for the history lesson, what’s the wine like to drink ? well, to be honest not as good as I thought it might be considering it had a ‘International Wine Challenge’ award plastered on the side of the bottle.

Not much in the way of aromas, a fairly muted nose with a whiff of citrus and a little cut grass. Taste wise, again a little disappointing, a bit more tropical than the nose suggested and some smokiness but it had a slightly bitter finish.

Far less intense than a lot of Marlborough Sovees (sorry !), nothing to really dislike but then again nothing to recommend it, for £5 it’s OK, not sure I’d buy it a full price.

5.5 corksMy Rating 5.5/10 Corks

Sainsburys  around £8

 

Graham Norton Sauvi GN on Blanc 2015

GNorton SBWhen I first came across this bottle at a Majestic tasting  my initial thought was it’s just another celebrity endorsed mass produced bottle of plonk, well, I couldn’t have been more wrong, this was a sheer delight and generally well received by everyone who tasted it.

Viewers of Graham Norton’s chat show will normally see him within reach of a very large glass of white wine in which his tipple of choice is normally Sauvignon Blanc. So with the help of  guys from Invivo, Co founder Tim Lightbourne and winemaker Rob Cameron who transported 6 different samples of Sauvignon Blanc from their New Zealand Marlborough growers to London where Graham Norton joined up and helped in the blending process creating his very own bottle.

The label itself looked strange at first until you realise that it is actually quite clever with the emphasis on the GN (Graham Norton) and it definitely stands out.

In the glass the aromatic aromas hit you straight way filling the room with tropical fruits, grass and passion-fruit, stick your nose in the glass it will make your eyes water it’s so intense. On first sip this tasted fresh and zingy, the tropical fruits are evident especially passion-fruit  along with sharp limes and lemons. A little hint of freshly cut grass and a little herby thing going on in the background make this a refreshingly delicious glass of wine and at £8.99 bit of a bargain I’d say !

Now my wife and daughter are big ‘Sovvy Bee’ fans  especially from New Zealand and they both liked this a lot and I must admit I enjoyed it and I’d say it’s probably one of the better Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted recently, Nice one Graham !.

8corks

 My Rating 8/10 Corks

£8.99 on Multi buy at Majestic

Hello Sweetie !

late harvest BEHands up all those people who will break out a bottle of dessert wine at the end of a meal to accompany pudding, I guess if I look around there would probably not be many arms in the air but if you haven’t tried it then you are missing out on a real treat.

On a lovely spring evening, eating al fresco with friends I brought out this bottle of dessert wine  to accompany a variety of sweet puddings. Many of them had not tried dessert wine before but were all willing to give it a go, It was also a chance to try out my recently bought dessert wine glasses

The bottle in question was the Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest 2011. I had this bottle chilling in the fridge all day.

When poured it was darkish gold in colour, heady aromas of peach, apricot, mangoes and something herbal. For a sweet wine this was not cloying or sickly, tasting of fresh tropical fruits which burst in the mouth, including apricots, peaches and oranges.

Slightly sweeter than the apricot tart and strawberry cheesecake ice cream we were eating this just seemed to pair perfectly and enjoyed by all who tried it.

So if you haven’t tried dessert wine before, go on treat yourself you won’t be disappointed, this is stunning !

8.5corks

 

My rating 8.5/10 corks

Various outlets around £13

StoneLeigh Sauvignon Blanc 2013

stoneleigh2 (311 x 600)

New Zealand 12.5%

With the temperatures soaring here in the UK what better way to relax and cool down than sitting in the shade of a Gazebo, eating barbecue food and drinking a chilled glass or two of this very nice New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

I Love Marlborough wines especially anything from Brancott Estate and this bottle which is produced by them is up there amongst my favourite Sauvignon Blancs. I was first introduced to Stoneleigh by Brancott Estates chief winemaker Patrick Materman himself at a tasting a while ago and whilst sampling his own range he asked me to try the Stoneleigh and after that initial sip I was totally won over by it.

When poured it’s a lovely straw like colour with a slight green tinge. On the nose it’s typically New world and typically New Zealand, rich tropical fruits mixed with sharp citrus aromas along with damp grass and herbs.

The taste is where this wine really shines, bright fresh and tangy with flavours of peaches, Lychees and melon but with a bracing backdrop of lemons and limes giving it a mouth-watering acidity along with lots of minerality.

Fantastic summer drink, great to drink on its own or with chicken, seafood, it would even go well with Asian food.

If you enjoy a bright, fresh, acidic, minerally wine with bags of flavour you won’t go far wrong with this, becoming a favourite in our household especially with my daughter (who is a bit fussy with her wine, don’t tell her I said that though !)

Highly recommended.

8.5corks

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Variuos outlets around £9

Brancott Estate B Letter Series Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Brancottletter

New Zealand 14%

Although Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps not my favourite white wine, if I had to pick a SB to take to a desert Island this would be it.

I’m a big fan of Brancott Estate wines in general, from their entry levels right the way through to their premium range including the excellent if expensive ‘Chosen Rows’ Sauvignon Blanc which I have only sampled at tastings but it is a wine in my opinion that takes SB’s to a new level (maybe one day I’ll treat myself to a bottle).

Back to this wine, as you can see from the picture in the glass it’s a bright, clear colour with a hint of green. Aromas literally leap from the glass before getting your nose anywhere near it, unmistakably New Zealand with tropical fruits and wet grass but what really stands out is asparagus it dominates the nose in a big way.

Taste wise it’s dry, crisp but with a restrained acidity, full of gooseberries, grapefruit and tropical fruits, really rich in density. The asparagus disappears leaving a more minerally finish which is incredibly long and satisfying.

Drunk this wine many times and it always delivers, wonderful aromas and a crisp fresh taste, as I said it’s one of my favourite Sauvignon Blancs even at £13 a bottle well worth the price.

 

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Various around £13

 

Aldi Pinot Noir taste off

battlepinotIn my last review I tasted the Aldi Vignobles Roussellet Pinot Noir which I picked up at an incredible price of £4.39, at the same time I picked up a couple of bottles of their Exquisite collection New Zealand Pinot Noir for £6.99.

After enjoying the cheaper French Pinot with a Lamb dinner I decided to follow-up with the slightly more expensive New Zealand version paired with roast pork to see which one came out on top. It turned out to be surprisingly harder than I thought with both wines, especially for the price holding their own but in very different ways.

The New Zealand Pinot compared to the French was very much lighter in colour, (almost read a book through the wine) and straight away the aroma was much more noticeable than the French which was fairly muted. Cherries, raspberries and to a lesser extent strawberries were all there with an almost red fruit pastilles smell (the one everyone goes for in the packet). The French aroma was almost fruitless with savoury and smoke dominant.

Taste wise again completely different, the French was rustic, unmistakably French, pretty sweet but with a smokey wood flavour. Although you could taste red fruits it wasn’t a full on fruitiness of the New Zealand, this was bright a very fruity with cherries, strawberries but still with a whiff of smoke and hint of savouriness.

If the French was rustic the New Zealand wine was kind of elegant in comparison. Which one did I prefer?, hard to say, enjoyed both of them equally for different reasons and they both showed well on the second day. As long as they remain at these prices I will be making the 10 mile journey to buy more of each for £4.39 & £6.99 silly not too, well done Aldi !.

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Aldi £6.99

 

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

 

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris 2013

Brancott Sauv Gris(450 x 600)New Zealand 13.5%

Always enjoyed Brancott Estate wines and I have been lucky enough to meet their chief winemaker Patrick Materman a couple of times, actually sitting down next to him for a meal all be it with a group of other wine lovers. I found his wine knowledge was second to none and he always remains friendly and approachable.

Sorry, I digress, it’s always nice when you get sent a wine free to review (this time as part of a taste panel for Tesco), the wine in question is the new Brancott Estate Sauvignon Gris 2013.

So here we go, If you like Sauvignon Blanc but want to try a wine with a more restrained and less aggressive acidity and doesn’t feel like being slapped in the face with a grapefruit, this offering from the ever reliable Brancott Estate may well be the answer. It still has elements of Sauvignon Blanc, especially on the nose with citrus fruits, wet grass and asparagus and the taste has altogether riper, slightly smokey undertones with a creamier mouth feel and very dry finish.

Drank this very chilled , a bright straw like colour in the glass with aromas of peach, nectarines, grapefruit, damp grass, asparagus and herbs. Taste wise, it’s very dry and as I mentioned earlier it had less aggressive acidity than SB. The citrus and stone fruits flavours were still dominant but this Gris just blunts the edginess bringing through the herbal side.

All in all a pretty decent wine and one I would buy again, very food friendly and at £6.99 a bottle pocket friendly as well, even if I did receive this one free.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

Various around £6.99

 

BrancottsGris2014(450 x 600)Update for the 2014

Where I initially thought the 2013 had some elements of Sauvignon Blanc the 2014 definitely had more aromatics similar to that of Blanc, much more of that grassiness, asparagus and grapefruit, looked beautifully fresh and bright in the glass.
Taste – Zesty, off dry, slightly spicy, Stone fruits, wet grass, grapefruit, fresh pineapple with a hint of creaminess about it, lovely mouth feel and lengthy finish.

Something about the 2014 that hit the spot more for me, initially thinking the 2013 was good, having tried the 2014 a few weeks apart for me it ‘s a step up, looked brighter, fresher tasting and much more Blancy (made up word!) although a little heftier (whopping 14.5%) alcohol, it didn’t feel like it

Always a good sign , my wife who is not a big wine drinker (although she does like Sauvignon Blanc) thought this was nice, trust me, nice from her is very good.

8.5corks

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

 

 

Hawksburn Terrace – Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010

How to get a £20 bottle of wine for £6.75, easy…………

1. Find a local Tesco store, look in their Fine Wine section.
2. Talk to wine guy, he tells you that he has case of discontinued stock to sell off.
3. Wait for the £8.99 discount label to be put on
4. Fill your basket with 6 botttles
5. Take to checkout
6. Claim your 25% discount for buying 6 bottles
7. Pay £40.50
8. Head out of store happy having just paid £6.75 a bottle.

hawksburn1(450 x 600)Now is it any good ? The bottle in question is a Pinot Noir from Central Otago in New Zealand, The Hawksburn Terrace single vineyard 2010.

When poured very light and translucent but with a lovely although quite gamey, earthy nose along with rich blackberries & cherries, slightly smokey.
Taste was on the sweetish side, good acidity with rich fruits but with a subtle touch of oak and soft tannins, little bit of black pepper spice thrown in as well.

Back to is it any good ? for me a resounding yes, elegant, rich, complex flavours, very fruit forward but perfectly balanced, a wine to be savoured and enjoyed, a wine worthy of its original price tag.

Still can’t believe I got it for £6.75 though,  still grinning !

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Various outlets around £20

 

Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013

New Zealand 12.5%finestmarlborough1 (450 x 600)

Bought this when on offer and I’ve been meaning to try it for a while now, having only tasted it at organized events. Unfortunately it looks like it’s now unavailable, online anyway, might be able to find some still in store.

Very pale straw like colour but with an unmistakable, very intense Sauvignon Blanc aroma of grass, nettles, lemon, pineapple even got a little hint of asparagus. Taste – Like a ripe fruit salad with a few rogue sour grapefruits thrown in and mixed with the contents of a lawnmower box after a shower. Although a little sharp there was generally a good balance and it made for a nice SB.

Although there are better New Zealand SB’s out there I still enjoyed this and if anything as it warmed up in the glass it became more flavoursome. I actually preferred it not too chilled and it went really well with my fish n chip dinner.

Another decent wine from the excellent ‘Tesco Finest’ range.

7corks

My Rating 7/10 Corks – Tesco £9.99