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

 

Spanish Sauvignon Blanc – anybody ?

jose-pariente-sb-2014In the Rueda region in the heart on the Iberian peninsula where Verdejo and Viura are kings, Sauvignon Blanc also plays a part even if it is overshadowed. The grapes for this wine come from the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in this area around 30 years ago and has resulted in this deliciously bright and fruity Jose Periente SB 2014.

This is more of a cross between French and New Zealand SB’s as it has elements of both, darkish straw like colour in the glass with bright fresh citrus fruits on the nose with some tropical passion fruit and a whiff of freshly cut grass.

Taste wise it is more subdued but still with a touch of bright acidic citrus fruits, again a little tropical sweetness and grassiness but finishing quite vegetal with green peppers, maybe even a little fresh pea pods and herbs.

I really enjoyed this and paired with steamed fresh Haddock it was even better. I bought this at Majestic for around £9.99 a little while ago but not sure if they still sell it but if you can find it give it a go you may well be surprised how good it is.

I tend to like Verdejo, Viura, Albarino, Godello to name a few but this is definitely up there with the best of Spanish white wines I’ve tasted recently.

8.5corks

My rating 8.5/10 Corks

Majestic ?    around £10

 

 

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

Stonehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Stonehaven SBSouth Africa 12.5%

I do enjoy Sauvignon Blanc although not as much as my wife and daughter and I do enjoy the zippy intense flavours of a New Zealand Marlborough ‘Sovee Bee’ (as my daughter calls it) but occasionally I just want something a bit less in your face.

I picked up this Stonehaven 2015 in my local Co op, any regular readers will know I’ve bought quite a few bottles of wine recently from this store and on the whole they have all been very good and this is no exception.

This bottle is from Cape point vineyards and made by Duncan Savage ( a Sauvignon Blanc specialist) situated near Cape town in South Africa.

In the glass, don’t expect aromas to leap out, this is fairly subdued although there is some grassiness. The taste is where this shines, it has an elegance about it, dry and crisp with grapefruit and limes but with  maybe a touch of mango but it’s that tropical edge that makes it shine and stand out as something slightly different.

For £5.99 (currently on offer from £8.99) this is a steal and I have since been back for more. If you have a Co op near you and you are into Sauvignon Blanc try it, for not a lot of money you may be pleasantly surprised.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Co op £5.99 on offer (usually £8.99)

 

My top ten wines reviewed in 2015

top10 2015So another year comes to an end, a year in which I’ve drunk some very good and not so good wines and the elusive search for my first 9/10 corks ends up fruitless (excuse the pun).

In this review I will reveal some of my top 10 wines of 2015. Most of the wines reviewed I have bought, some have been donated, I have also sampled a lot at various tastings and events throughout the year.

Some of these events and tastings have offered some fabulous wines, some pretty expensive, I’ve purposely left these out concentrating on wines that are readily available from various outlets and are on the whole reasonably priced, although some may well be unavailable now.

So click on the links below to see the full reviews and here’s to finding many more brilliant wines in 2016, perhaps my first 9/10 or you never know, a 10/10.

So in no particular order here are my ten favourite 8.5/10 Cork scoring wines….

FaustinoI Faustino I Gran Reserva Rioja 2001

Probably the most recognisable labels in the  wine world with its portraits of Rembrandt, El Greco and composer Gluck  and the use of Roman numerals are on the Faustino range. My earliest memories of this wine is seeing these bottles lined up on the shelves and noticing how they stood out with their frosted bottles…Read more

 

Honoro Vera6(450 x 600) Honoro Vera Garnacha 2012

Honoro 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…Read more

 

BrancottletterBrancott Estate Letter B Sauvignon Blanc 2012

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…Read more

 

Mount Pleasant semillonMcWilliams Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005

I’ve been singing the praises of Aldi wines in my last post but this time it’s a big round of applause for Tesco with this superb tasting 10-year-old Aussie Semillon currently selling at an unbelievable £5.99. My only regret is that I didn’t try this earlier because unfortunately this wine will be unavailable soon, so…Read more

 

PrimitivoWaitrosePrimitivo Di Mandurie Paololeo 2012

Italy 14.5% If you’re looking for a reasonably priced Primitivo (Aka Zinfandel) and you enjoy the big hitting Zins from California look no further than this beauty from the very heel of boot in South east Italy’s Puglia region. When I picked this up I was amazed at how heavy this bottle was and it…Read more

 

Bierzo Otero2011(450 x 600)Pizarras de Otero Bierzo 2011

Spain 14% First discovered the Bierzo region of North West Spain a few years back when on holiday touring the north following the Camino route to Santiago de Compostela although I must stress this was done on a coach staying in government backed Parador hotels not on foot or bike travelling hundreds of miles. This…Read more

 

stoneleigh2 (311 x 600)

Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2013

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…Read more

 

Yalumba duoYalumba Old Vine Grenache 2013

I first discovered the joys of Yalumba many years ago when I attended a wine show in London, I bumped into wine expert Oz Clarke at the event and chatted for a while, I must say he was very amiable and talked with great ease and enthusiasm about this wonderful liquid we all enjoy. I…Read more

 

porta 6Porta 6

Porta 6 Vinho Tinto Portugal First tasted this in the Majestic store in Calais a few months back, it was on the tasting counter and one of their featured wines. I was initially drawn by the bright cartoon like label which was painted by Portuguese artist Hauke Vagt. This wine was also featured on the…Read more

 

DomaineLarocheChablis(337 x 599)Domaine Laroche Chablis Premier Cru 2008

France 12.5% I must admit I don’t drink enough Chardonnay but I hope to remedy this, especially with the better weather on its way. So it’s time to fill your fridges with a selection of quality whites and you may well find that every now and then you come across a wine that you drink…Read more

 

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

Cheverny, Domaine du Salvard 2014

Cheverny 2014

France 12%

I can honestly say that the Wine Society has come up trumps with this Loire Cheverny which is predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a splash of Chardonnay. As a certain character from Star Wars would say ‘Impressed, I am’  this is one of the nicest white wines I’ve tasted for a while and for around £8 it’s an impressive QPR (quality to price ratio) bottle.

After a long tiring day helping my son and his girlfriend sort out and start decorating their recently acquired first house this bottle was just what the doctor ordered to ease my aching limbs, along with a lovely fish dinner.

Nicely chilled in the glass it was a very light straw like colour with subtle Sauvignon Blanc aromas of nettles, grass and herbs which although restrained there was still enough there to make the nose linger over the glass for a while.

Tasting this was a pure delight, balanced fresh and fragrant, although unmistakably Sauvignon Blanc the addition of the Chardonnay softened the racey edges gave it a little more body and depth adding a little creaminess . This was bone dry with nettles, asparagus and limes leading to an extremely long enjoyable finish.

Another bottle I would recommend without reservation, it’s just simply, a joy to drink.

8.5corks

 

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Wine Society £7.95

 

 

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

 

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

Errazuriz Elegance

errazurizsinglevineyardSB(450 x 600)Chile 13.5%

I seem to be drinking a lot of Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand lately and on the whole they have been pretty decent but this particular offering from Chile although very different made a real pleasant change.

This is the ‘Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011’. The first thought that comes to mind when seeing the bottle is elegance with it’s hand written label and the elegance theme carries on through the aroma and taste.

Lovely pale straw colour with intense tropical fruit aromas not exactly leaping out of the glass like New Zealand SB’s but the smell is kind of thick, not a proper wine tasting term I know but that is my first reaction when sticking my nose in the glass, there was also a little whiff of herbs and lime.

Taste -Lots of stuff going on complex flavours, mild acidity, lush & rich mouth feel but not cloying, slightly sweet, tropical fruits again, passion fruit, lychees, limes, even sweet peppers.

Bought a case of this in Tesco’s recent ‘Big wine clearance’ sale and got them for around £6 a bottle, normally retailing for around £12 – £13, now I wished I had bought more as I really enjoyed this, made a real change from SB’s I’ve been drinking lately, enjoyed it more on the second day, even more intense. Top Stuff !

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Tesco Clearance Sale

Finest Cotes de Gascogne 2013

cotesdegasgogne (450 x 600)France 11.5%

Always nice when freebies come along and this bottle of Cotes de Gascogne  was sent to me courtesy of Tesco last week for my humble thoughts. To tell you the truth I didn’t expect to like this but as it turned out I was pleasantly surprised. This is an unusual blend of Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc which may not be to everyone’s taste but……..

After collecting it from my neighbour (I’m never in when a delivery arrives) I promptly put it in the fridge expecting to drink it sooner than later but as it turned out it spent the best part of a week between the butter and milk.

Finally, in the glass, which became instantly covered in condensation from a  week’s worth of chilling the golden straw like colour looked bright and refreshing, although faint, aromas of green crisp apples, pears, peaches and a hint of sour grapefruit, quite a pleasant nose.
Taste – Initially very dry, sharp and mouth watering and because it was very cold the flavour was quite subdued. What I did notice though was the finish stayed with you for some time.
Drank this finally with a simple meal of Haddock, potatoes and veg and I would have said it definitely needed food but as it warmed up in the glass it changed into a different wine altogether (my wife also agreed) much more intense flavour still sharp and tangy and still with an incredibly long finish.

Drink this with food, preferably fish,  don’t over chill and enjoy what is a perfectly acceptable and  enjoyable bottle of wine

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

Tesco £7.99

 

Tesco Finest Sauvignon Blanc Furmint 2012

furmint1(450 x 600)Slovenia 12.5%

Slovenia ,  a small country in central Europe, it gained it’s independence from Yugoslavia back in 2004 and it now makes a pretty lively , racey little number  ’Sauvignon Blanc  Furmint’  which  is now part of the new Tesco Finest range.

Furmint is a white Hungarian grape used to make Tokaji  and in this collaboration with Sauvignon Blanc it makes for a tongue tingling, refreshing, very good but very different white wine.

Doesn’t stand out on the shelves in it’s small stumpy like bottle with a fairly bland label but it definitely stands out swirling about  in your mouth.  In the glass it has a greenish silvery look, aroma’s of citrusy fruits lime, bitter orange and crisp green apples, with a whiff of aromatic peach.

Taste –  on first sip ifurmint2(450 x 600)t was  lively and very refreshing ,  full of bitter fruits, lemon, limes, oranges and apples.  The traditional Sauvignon Blanc taste although there was hard to pick out and you would be hard pressed to know it had any at all.  This is a fairly dry wine  but with an almost spritzy  and slightly spicy finish.

This will be a big hit in the summer, chilled, very easy to drink, perhaps a little too easy as I noticed half way through our meal of Sea Bass and prawns that the bottle was suddenly three quarters empty.  My wife who loves Sauvignon Blanc found it a bit too different and I had to end up finishing her glass, shame !

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