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

 

Encantado Shiraz 2013

encantado-shirazIf you want a value for money Shiraz that’s as good as anything Australia has to offer (in my opinion) for a similar price then this Encantado Reserva may be the answer. This is a lovely example of a full flavoured juicy, woody treat of a wine that will probably evolve over time into something even better.

I do like Chilean Syrah / Shiraz but I must warn it may not be for everyone, this bottle in particular is fairly intense and somewhat complex and my wife and daughter found it a little too full on and tannic.

On the nose there was plenty of ripe fruits including black cherries, a whiff of chocolate and peppery spice. Taste-wise, again this was initially sweet & sour dark cherries, a generous helping of oak, tannins and a kick of white pepper to finish.

As I said earlier this needs a little time to settle and would probably benefit from some extra bottle ageing but I still enjoyed it now especially with food and would definitely recommend it without hesitation even for £9.99 ( I got mine when on offer for around £7, which was even better value).

Just make sure you open it early, give it some air and you will be rewarded with an impressive Shiraz.

8corks

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Waitrose £9.99

The Black Shiraz & The Hedonist

hedonistSunday roast lunch with family, a loopy dog and two very good Australian Shiraz’s, is there a better way to spend an afternoon to end the week, I think not.

The two Aussie bottles in question were the ‘Black Shiraz‘ and the ‘Hedonist’, been wanting to try the Black Shiraz for a while now ever since seeing it on the shelf of our local Co op after hearing good things in the press about it. Made in the Berton vineyards of SE Australia with its plain dark bottle with a pewter label and 14.5% abv, it just cries out powerhouse, the heavy metal of the wine world. The Hedonist completely different in looks but with the words ‘McLaren Vale’ on the label it was bound to be good, I hoped !

As it turned out both were very decent in their own way considering their differing price points, £7.49 and £13.99 The Hedonist being the dearer.

First bottle opened was the Black Shiraz, this was very dark in colour with pronounced aromas of blackberries and plums, the nose was really all about the intense fruit although not much else of note. Taste wise again dark plums with blackcurrants and a bit spice. The alcohol which at 14.5% was definitely noticeable giving a little heat on the back of the throat but the tannins were quite subtle. Overall this ended up being a lovely mouthful of  juicy mouth-watering black fruits, slightly sour with a kick of spice and for a high alcohol wine surprisingly drinkable.

Next the Hedonist made an appearance and everyone around the table thought this was a step up in quality although no one knew the price of either bottle but all guessed this was the more expensive. If the Black Shiraz was dark in colour this was almost inky and had a headier aroma with dark ripe fruits, liquorice, cocoa and vanilla. The taste was a lot more velvety and rich in texture, the fruit was slightly sweeter and there was a hit of chocolate, vanilla and black pepper spice, again the alcohol was high 14% but not as noticeable as the Black Shiraz. Everyone agreed this was a lovely wine.

In conclusion, the Hedonist was the outright winner but that’s not to say the Black Shiraz was that far behind and for £7.49 excellent value and I wouldn’t hesitate in buying it again but if you fancy spending double again the Hedonist is a fabulous wine and probably worth the extra, no, definitely worth the extra !

8corks

The Black Shiraz

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Co op £7.49

8.5corks

The Hedonist

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Waitrose £13.99

Peter Lehmann Portrait Shiraz 2013 leftovers !

peter-lehmann-shirazWasn’t exactly planning to review this particular bottle but after returning from a weekend away in France we found half a bottle of Wine sitting on the kitchen counter in which our daughter Laura had started drinking on Friday night but didn’t finish it. Being a Monday evening and not happy at seeing wine go to waste we asked if she was going to drink the rest of it and if not we would finish it.

Although not ideal drinking wine that has been left on a kitchen counter for three days we were surprised just how good this still tasted.

The bottle in question was an Aussie Barossa Valley Shiraz with a hefty 14.5% abv. As soon I poured a  couple of glasses the aromas leapt out of the glass (could almost smell it from across the room), intense dark ripe fruits , smoke and sweet spices.

On taking the first sip I was amazed how fresh this still tasted, blackberries, blackcurrants coated the inside of my mouth along with dark chocolate, black pepper and sweet spices. Very noticeable smoke almost ash like flavour which was very appealing.  Tannin’s were there but didn’t overtake and it had a very long juicy but smooth finish.

Both my wife and I were impressed with this and I will definitely buy again to taste what it is like on first opening. Well done Peter Lehmann wines.

8corks

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Waitrose and various around £10

 

A small selection of good affordable wines reviewed in 2016

ivorfan-logo-2016Another great year in this wonderful world of wine, lots of wines sampled, some fantastic, some good and some not so good but always fun trying them.felizanonuevo

Been lucky enough to attend some fabulous events  and tastings meeting some interesting and amiable people along the way and after three seasons in the doldrums Fulham are starting to look like a team again, so everything is looking good for a brilliant 2017 with hopefully more of the same.

🍾🍾HAPPY NEW YEAR to all 🍷🍷🥂🥂

So here are just a small selection some easily available wines I’ve enjoyed over the last year, as they say, in no particular order ( click on More link to see full review)…….

Gran Reboreda 2015

reboreda1The bottle caught my eye as it featured one of my favourite white grapes Godello although with this one it’s a small part of a blend with Treixadura which is the predominant grape around 80% (used mainly in the making of Portuguese Vinho Verde) also featuring is another lesser known grape Loureira. More ..

 

 

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2012

Rustenburg John X Merrriman 2012South Africa takes on Bordeaux with this powerful beast of a wine from the Stellenbosch region, named in honour of John Xavier Merriman who revitalised the Rustenberg farm in 1892 after it suffered badly due to the Phylloxera crisis and went on to establish Rustenberg wines.

A blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. More..

 

Truly Irresistable Fiano 2015

co-op-fianoAs regular readers know I am a big fan of Co Op and their wines and have been really impressed by most of their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range and this is no exception. I was initially alerted to this wine by a recommendation by wine journalist Brian Elliot from the website MidWeek Wines, so when popping into my local store for a loaf of bread and some milk a bottle kind of found its way into my basket. More..

 

Brancott Estate Letter B series sweet dessert wine

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. More..

 

 

Hambledon Classic Cuvée

Hambledon sparklingSome may say who needs Champagne when we have Sparking wine in this country as good as this. I have sampled a few English wines mostly a tastings and events, notably Nyetimber and Chapel Down and both are very good but it’s not until I tasted this particular bottle that I sat up and realised that the Brits do make some pretty decent sparkling wines. More..

 

Wakefield Clare Valley Shiraz 2014

Wakefield Shiraz 2014 (337 x 599)I first discovered this gem of a wine  at a Majestic ‘Winter tasting ‘ event back in November 2015.

Although not one of the wines on show, It happened to be sitting on their tasting counter along with one or two other pretty decent bottles, not sure how long it had been opened for but their was still half a bottle and over the course of the evening I must admit to revisiting this Aussie beauty a few times. There was slightly less than half a bottle by the end of the evening (Shhh, empty it was !! ) but I didn’t drink it all, honestly and I did end up buying a few bottles. More..

Xarel-lo 2014

Xarel-loCan’t pronounce it and never heard of it I hear you cry but if you look on most bottles of Spanish Cava you will find Xarel-lo is one of the three main grapes used to make their fabulous sparkling wines.

This bottle is a 100% Xarel-lo (pronounced Shre-lo) made in the Penedes region of north-east Spain and not a bubble in sight. It’s a still wine that is wonderfully fresh and vibrant and has a Cava/Champagne flavour without the fizz although there is a slight zingy after-taste. More..

Lindeman’s Bin 1355 Semillon

lindemans-semillonBought  a case of this very good Lindeman’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2013  from Majestic on their WIGIG (When its gone its gone) promotion for the bargain price of £4.99 a bottle, which in my opinion, turned out to be a bit of a steal. More..

 

 

 

The three wine review

tale-of-three-winesThis week I review three contrasting wines, a South African Chenin Blanc, a Chilean Chardonnay and a rather nice Spanish Monastrell.

Firstly the Chardonnay from a new range launched by Morrisons called the Head Honcho which also includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot, these are all the sole property of Morrisons. Aimed primarily at the younger market with its bright eye-catching labels and its simplified consumer friendly wine description on the back, not to mention the price which is around £6.

The Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015 is an entry level wine so  I didn’t expect anything special, nothing to dislike but nothing to write home about either. Heady aromas of tropical fruits, pineapple, peach and mangoes, there was also a noticeable buttery nose.
Taste wise it had bright tropical fruits, touch on the sweet side which was almost slightly artificial. Did I enjoy it? well, it was OK but I do think a lot of people will like it.

Next, the  South African Zalze Bush Vine Chenin 2016 which was a wine selected by a member of our wine club ‘Cuvée Reserve’ for our monthly tasting in which we all take a turn at selecting a widely available bottle up to £10 to discuss and give our views.

Initially  I probably had this chilling for too long and the aromas were a little muted, but as the glass warmed up the nose became pretty full on with tropical fruits especially ripe pineapple, guava and peaches .
The tropical theme continued  in the tasting with the pineapple dominating but with some lemons and limes in the background giving it a fresh, crisp and bright hit in the mouth almost zingy.  Although fairly dry, there was a hint of sweetness as well which was appealing.

Overall thought this was pretty decent and probably worth the full price, I will say that it was even better 24hrs later as I had a little drop left, the flavours were more intense almost like a fresh fruit salad with a touch of cream. I also think that this would probably be even better aged for a little longer.

Lastly, the Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013 and definitely my favourite, from the Alicante region of south east Spain, which had a some what rustic charm about it. Made mostly with Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) with a splash of Garnacha and Cabernet.

Chilled this for about ten minutes as I often do with my reds. In the glass is was a deep purple with a nose of ripe bramble fruit, some smoke and a savoury, slightly earthy smell. On tasting this was medium bodied, with bright dark fruits, some spice, liquorice,  hint of oak. There was a hit of acidity giving it a fresh mouth-watering feel and it had moderate but noticeable tannins.

Nothing to complex but a very enjoyable bottle that I would certainly buy again and I have no hesitation in recommending if you want a fairly inexpensive midweek red.

6corks

Head Honcho Chardonnay 2015

My Rating 6/10 Corks

 

7.5corks

Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2016

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

8corks

Mo Salinas Monastrell 2013

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Summer whites – If we ever get a summer !

Lasmoras&BonterraA nice chilled glass of white wine sitting outside enjoying the sunshine, not quite, this is England remember. In between dodging showers or being blown away in a mini hurricane we Brits brave the elements at any cost, it’s coming up to the middle of July and the weather still shows no sign of improving.

Two recent whites I’ve had on the rare good days are the Surprisingly good ‘Finca las Moras’ Pinot Grigio 2015 from the Co op and a Californian ‘Bonterra’ Chardonnay 2013 bought on offer from Waitrose.

Let me say I’m a big fan of wines from the Co op even my smaller local store has a fantastic selection often discounted and occasionally finding a real gem.

First the Argentinian  ‘Las Moras’, although far from being a gem it’s still a pretty good Pinot Grigio and I can’t remember the last time I said that even though I don’t generally drink a lot of it. Bought for £6.99 (regular price) from my local Co op, light golden straw colour in the glass with pronounced aromas of pears and tropical fruits. Pears again dominant in the taste with a hint of oranges and peaches, dry with a slightly sweet finish and utterly delicious.

A Californian Chardonnay next but a little bit more disappointing than the Pinot Grigio. Rich golden colour with an intense nose of Lemon curd and apple pie. On first sip it had a fairly creamy texture bit like vanilla custard, pineapple evident with a hefty dose of oak but the finish was slightly on the harsh side. I was a little let down by this it just seemed a bit unbalanced but by no means bad.

Left a little of the Chardonnay to taste 24hrs later and  it was much more approachable with that harshness on the finish softening giving a much better mouth-feel.

Looking out of the window as I’m typing this, yes, it’s still raining and blowing a gale.

7.5corks

Las Moras Pinot Grigio

My Rating 7.5/10 Corks

 

6corks

Bonterra Chardonnay

My Rating 6/10 Corks

Three aromatic whites

SAwhites

Off to South Africa and Argentina for my next reviews and three aromatic whites. The first two are both from South Africa, Fire Flower an unusual blend of Chenin Blanc / Pinot Grigio and the Bellingham, The Bernard series Viognier. The third is the Territorio a Torrontes from Argentina .

Invited our South African neighbour round for a glass or two over the weekend and as usual he came armed with wines from his homeland that are both readily available here.

We opened the Fire Flower first, a blend of Chenin Blanc and Pinot Grigio, from the Western Cape. In the glass a bright lemon colour with a pretty intense nose of crisp fresh apples with a hint of floweriness about it. On first sip the apple crispness wasn’t as pronounced as the nose promised, more like stewed apples, the floral side was definitely more noticeable, it was very dry and there was a little greenness which I couldn’t quite make out. We all enjoyed it and for the price (on offer at £5.99 usually £8.99) a bit of a bargain.

On to the next, the Bellingham, Bernard Series Viognier 2015, which I have had before and thought it was decent and I haven’t changed my mind. This was a much paler colour, more straw like with a tinge of green but with wonderful aromas of peaches, pears and flowers (jasmine).  Lovely and fresh tasting with peaches, apricots, a little spice and touch of vanillary oak. This was a big favourite.Torrontes

The third bottle was a slight disappointment, an Argentinian Torrontes, the Territorio around £6 from Tesco.

Again a light straw like colour with a green tinge but the aromas were fairly muted hard to distinguish anything apart from peach and limes.

Taste was mostly a mouthful of lychees fairly acidic with a slightly bitter finish, needed food to get the best out of it but is was still pretty average and probably not one I would buy again.

Fire Flower                   My Rating 7/10 Corks

Bellingham Viognier   My Rating 8/10 Corks

Territorio Torrontes    My Rating 5.5/10 Corks

The Hedonist Shiraz 2013

Hedonist2013

Australia 14%

The definition of a Hedonist is ‘a person who believes that the pursuit of pleasure is the most important thing in life; a pleasure-seeker.’ and one of the ways of enjoying life is drinking a good bottle of wine.

I haven’t opened a Aussie wine now for a while and I must say it was nice to return to the sunny shores of our antipodean friends with this heady Shiraz from McLaren Vale made with grapes grown biodynamically without chemical intervention of pesticides or herbicides.

In the glass this wine is dark almost inky black, a wine you could dip the tip of a fountain pen in it a write a novel with. If you sniff hard enough there is some dark rich fruit there, mainly blackberries along with dark chocolate, spice and a little vanilla.

First taste this is a fruit powerhouse, juicy acidity, slightly jammy with blackberries, plums and white peppery spice. Sweet but also sour tasting with a woody vanilla flavour and grainy tannins. At 14% this is rich wine and very enjoyable, can cope with robust foods but can be equally drunk on its own.

A bit of a fruit bomb but a well made one and I wouldn’t hesitate in buying it again even at £14.

8corks My Rating 8/10 Corks

Waitrose around £14

 

 

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

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.

Picasso
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

 

Primitivo Di Manduria – Paololeo 2012

PrimitivoWaitroseItaly 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 just said quality to me and as you will read I wasn’t wrong. An impressive inky purple colour in the glass, with pronounced aromas of blackcurrants, ripe plums, sweet fruitcake, raisins and earthy spices.

After the first mouthful you begin to realise how impressive this wine is, sweet dark fruits, blackcurrants again this time with cherries. There was an earthiness about it and a fairly big hit of oak (6 months in French oak barriques), liquorice is also noticeable along with sweet candied fruit and a shot of expresso coffee.

For the price this is a fabulous Italian Stallion of a wine and although there was lots going on it still tasted smooth and easy to drink despite its hefty 14.5% which I didn’t really notice. I got this on offer for around £7.99 (great value) but I would be quite happy to pay the full price of £10.99

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Waitrose £10.99

il Bello Barbera 2011

ilbelloItaly 13%

I’ve heard it said many times that if you’re in a restaurant and you don’t know which wine to choose, go for an Italian. (wine that is, not the person !)  it’s usually the safe choice. Italian wine particularly reds are generally very food friendly with their high acidity and bright juicy fruit flavours.

Barbera is the most widely planted grape in Piedmont  and is the wine that you find most Italian people from the region filling their glasses up with but sadly for me, this ’ il Bello 2011’ didn’t all together hit the spot.

Firstly, let me say this is not a bad wine but it just didn’t  get me excited, it paired well enough with the Beef Lasagne dinner and at a price of around £6 pretty much what I expected.

I chilled this for around 20 minutes , in the glass it was a bright crimson colour with aromas of plums, cherries and a little nutmeg.  On first sip the explosion of tart juicy fruit was the overwhelming and slightly harsh , so  I decided to leave it in the glass for a while before trying again. After 40 minutes or so sitting in the glass and the dinner on the table I took another sip and fortunately it had mellowed slightly into a softer less offensive taste. It still was pretty sour but with the rich food it was much more to my liking.  Juicy bright cherries pretty much dominated  but there was a little hint of sweetish spice in the background.

Not sure I would enjoy this as a stand alone drink, it definitely needed a plate full of rich creamy meaty pasta to really enjoy it and in this case it did the job.  A little drop left in the bottle, will I finish it?,  maybe not, never mind on to the next bottle !

5.5 corksMy Rating 5.5/10 Corks

Waitrose around £6