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The Grapevine

A blog from the team at Great Western Wine

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    J.Lohr, Wildflower, Valdigue 2014

    J. Lohr 'Wildflower' Valdiguie 2014

    This wine is vibrant and red-purple in color with bright aromas of boysenberry, Bing cherry, raspberry and pomegranate. The fruit complexion on the palate is equally bright, dominated by pomegranate and raspberry. Serve chilled.

    £11.95  £9.95

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid until 01.09.15

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    Antu Ninquén Syrah 2013

    Antu Ninquén Syrah 2013

    Deep, brooding, inky purple in colour with a developed, aromatic nose dominated by ripe black fruits and smoky oak. The palate is full bodied and concentrated, dripping with spicy blackberry fruit and a fair wedge of toasty vanilla oak, finishing soft, supple and rounded.

    £13.95  £10.95

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid until 01.09.15

  • An evening with Howard Park at Allium Restaurant

    Great Western Wine and Allium Restaurant run some pretty good wine dinners, and I’ve been lucky enough to attend most of them. However, the prospect of a combination of Chris Staines’ magic culinary touch with the wines from one of the most revered wine producers in Western Australia, Howard Park, was one that grabbed my attention as soon as it was announced, and was heavily highlighted in the diary from an early stage.

    I’ve loved Howard Park wines since I first discovered them, when staying with my brother-in-law and his family, in a rather gorgeous Hispanic mansion in Elizabeth Bay, Sydney. I was over on my first buying trip to Australia, and had lots to learn… and I’m still learning.  In those days, Western Australia had yet to really strike a chord in the UK, it was all about Southern Australia and brands.  I was introduced to Leston Cabernet Sauvignon and Howard Park Estate Chardonnay at a barbecue overlooking Sydney Harbour and I've never forgotten their elegance, poise and indisputable style.

    Fast-track forward more years than I care to remember, and I've come to know Jeff and Amy Burch, the passionate and tirelessly enthusiastic owners of Howard Park, and Burch family vineyards. Owners of one of Western Australia’s top wine estates, they own vineyards in both Margaret River, and The Great Southern, and their philosophy is simple – quality, quality, quality – and keep it family-owned.  Established as recently as 1988, they are true pioneers in terms of how they are showcasing the true beauty of Western Australian wines, and creating the very best of wines from their region. They also get a big thumbs up for putting all their wines (yes, reds included) under screw-cap, rather than cork since the year 2000.

    Western Australia is renowned for its elegant, high quality wines, which have a thoroughbred, restrained and complex style, with freshness and poise. The Burch family own vineyards both in the iconic Margaret River and also in the Great Southern region, which lies about 5 hours away, and create award-winning wines in both areas.

    Jeff and Amy purchased the property in Margaret River in 1988, a beautiful piece of land, with a run-down cottage. Development started in 1995 and they made their first vintage in 1996.  With Jeff and Amy at the helm, and their children also involved in the business, they are now the largest family wine business in Western Australia. I love their pioneering spirit, I love their family values, and this is what great family wineries are all about. They have a very simple, but effective philosophy 'Premium wine can only come from excellent fruit, and therefore plant each grape variety in the best location to suit the climate and the soils' said Jeff.  Howard Park wines are only made in very small quantities, and are made with intense care and craftsmanship.

    Howard Park Great Southern RieslingSo what better showcase than at Allium Restaurant, for an evening starring some of their great wines, with the sublime cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Chris Staines.  The newly-revamped Allium Bar was buzzing, and amidst the eclectic décor, and spectacularly back-lit bar, guests were served the first wine of the evening, and one of my absolute favourites, the bright, citrussy, lime-drenched Howard Park Great Southern Riesling 2013.  It’s fresh, it’s bright, and searingly zesty, with a unique mash-up of fresh lime, lime cordial, rose petals, and a hint of fat, luxurious honeysuckle, with a searingly crisp finish – an amazing wine which was spot on with the little salmon tartare canapés.

    Howard Park ChardonnayHoward Park Estate Chardonnay 2012 was the first wine to be served, once guests had taken their seats.  It’s not easy to find the right partner to this award-winning wine, which is restrained, and almost Burgundian in style, with a silky-smooth, aristocratic demeanour – bright, lively, full of succulent, ripe peach fruit, but with a cool, very clean edge, and a nervy freshness. Chris’ salad of charred Atlantic prawns, avocado puree, seaweed and sesame salad, managed to sashay a beautiful dance with this wine .

    One of Chris Staines’ many skills is balancing textures, as well as flavours, and teasing guests with the unusual flavour combinations; smokey, gently-charred prawns wobbled atop a mound of crunchy, spiced vegetables and herbs, with the finest of shredded  carrots, asparagus, beansprouts, and leaves, mingled with a dressing of soy, tamarind and palm sugar, with hints of ginger, and a touch of mango thrown in… and all of this topped with a snap-sharp, crunchy, sweet sesame crisp… and tempered by a creamy avocado and sesame puree. The wine match worked, simply because the elegance, acidity and complexity of the wine was both able to match the riotous, exotic, sweet, sour, hot, salty flavours of the dish, and  it’s freshness also managed to lift the dish to another level. It was delicious – and, having saved a little of the Great Southern Riesling aperitif wine,   I felt that the multi-facetted characteristic of this wine worked even better.

    Howard Park Miamup ChardonnayNext up was my favourite wine and food match of the night. Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is a perfect example of top notch Western Australian reds at affordable prices. It’s polished, elegant, and oozing class, yet with  a velvety softness and early-drinkability. I loved the purity and intensity of the ripe, perfumed blackcurrant fruit, mingled with hints of eucalypt, ground nutmeg and cedar.  There is also a definite waft of bitter chocolate in this wine, and it’s this component, that Chris very cleverly picked up in the matching dish – Lightly smoked wood pigeon with cauliflower ‘couscous’, cauliflower puree and bitter cacao. If I had to pick one dish, which really defines Chris Staines’ style of cuisine, this would be it – challenging, detailed, and juxtappositions of textures, flavours and colours, with that trademark Asian twist.

    There was a lot of sweetness in this dish, but this merely served to heighten the ripe, bright fruit character of the wine. Meltingly tender slices of pink pigeon breast were served alongside a dreamy, light-as-air little  oriental nem, with softly yielding rice paper pastry, within which nestled an aromatic, masterfully seasoned filling of minced pigeon and duck, spiced with Chilli, lemongrass, star anise and cinnamon .  Minute shreds of crunchy cauliflower and dabs of glistening, bitter chocolate infused sauce finished off this little masterpiece, with the cocoa, serving only to enhance even further the dark, silky richness of the wine.

    To  showcase two of Howard Park’s most prized reds, the final, fitting course was a  Short rib of beef, with shitake mushrooms, grilled broccoli and lightly pickled ginger. Once again, textures, colours, flavours, and that characteristic umami effect were to the fore. Chris Staines’ never goes for the easy option, and some of the intricate spicing and fusion of flavours in this dish may have looked challenging, on paper at least. But Chef worked his now familiar blend of craftsmanship and alchemy, and produced a sumptuous plate of artistry.  Succulent, sticky, oriental -spiced, melt in the mouth, tender beef, was topped with crunchy, charred spring onion shards, and a combination of  al dente broccoli, and  a  creamy puree of the same.  Nestled alongside was a  deliciously rich quenelle of  sweet, earthy, aromatic shitake mushrooms, combined with thai  green curry paste and herbs.

    Onto the wines – both Cabernet Sauvignons, both the same vintage, but oh so different. Western Australia produces world  class Cabernet Sauvignons – the weather is cooler than in most of South Australia, and also benefit from the nearby ocean. This gives the wines an added elegance, balanced with beautifully ripe, fruit intense wines.

    Howard Park Leston Cabernet SauvignonHoward Park Leston Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 is one of the flagship wines of the company. It’s from the Leston vineyard, named after Jeff’s father and mentor. It’s a wine of amazing purity and breeding, still a baby, with many, many years ahead of it.  With glorious, intense aromas of cassis, dark chocolate, mint and cedar, it is enchanting on the nose, and delivers  layers of dark, sweet dark berry flavours, with hints of violets, and a long, balanced finish.  It has all the nerviness of youth,  but the deep, subdued powers of this wine are already evident, and it will simply blossom, and reveal another layer of character and personality year after year. Now’s the time to buy some, and let it slumber gently for a few years.

    Howard Park Abercrombie Cabernet SauvignonHoward Park Abercrombie Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 was an altogether bigger, bolder red, at this stage of its evolution. Named after Jeff’s great grandfather (keeping it in the family), It’s produced from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon fruit from both the Leston Vineyard in Margaret River, and also the Dennis vineyard, in Mount Barker, Great Southern. The  proportions vary, year to year, depending on the vintage and the quality of fruit. This wine has a majestic, brooding intensity and latent power. It’s bold, rich and savoury, with that characteristic blackcurrant and mint character, but with enticing hints of sandalwood, sweet spice, mocha and earthy, exotic truffles.  Still in its infancy, the textures and promise of things to come are all there – powerful, concentrated, with breeding and an aristocratic hauteur.

    Great Western Wine and Allium wine dinners are always special – this one definitely raised the bar on all levels.  Thanks to Jeff and Amy Burch and to Chris Staines and his team for a thoroughly tasty, entertaining and enjoyable evening.

    By Angela Mount

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    Heartland Stickleback Red, South Austrailia 2012


    Heartland Stickleback Red

    Fragrant, spicy, juicy and full bodied. A rich violet / purple colour. Chocolate spice and black fruit characters of cherry and plum on the palate, with a vibrant blackcurrant lift. The Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon gives the wine a rich, savoury character. Dolcetto enhances the blend, offering firm tannins to the mix. Lagrein contributes spiciness and a fresh, crisp acid profile, enhancing the wine's structure.

    £9.95  £8.95

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid until 01.09.15

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    Eidosela Albariño Rias Baixas 2014

    Eidosela Albarino Rias Biaxas

    Full of evocative summery flavours: apricots, honeysuckle and juicy white peaches. Wonderful sense of lightness; fresh and refreshing, yet with no shortage of intensity or length of flavour. Gentle mineral character, almost hidden beneath the beautiful aromas. The wine's freshness is surprisingly long-lasting, and it drinks well for 2-3 years after the vintage.

    Delicious on its own, we also recommend it with any kind of good quality, simply-prepared seafood. Try it with crab, mussels, langoustines..........or even fish and chips. Vegetarian? Try with mild, creamy cheeses or butternut squash and feta salad.

    Was £12.95 Now £11.40

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid until 01.09.15

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    Carrick Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago 2012

    Carrick Sauvignon Blanc Central Otago 2012

    Aromas of fresh peas and fenugreek leaves mix with a brilliant sense of minerality. Drinking deliciously right now: over recent months, it's acquired a silky, ample texture - well balanced by acidity, but with none of the aggression of young Sauvignon. Long finish, laden with scents of growing things - okra and tomato plants. Wonderful!

      £15.95  £9.95

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid until 01.09.15

  • It's barbecue season - so what are the right wines?

    Barbecue season is well and truly upon us, and we Brits are stalwarts – once that Webber is out in the garden neither rain, nor wind will stop us enjoying our summer barbies - even huddled under umbrellas, there’s something about those smokey, char-grilled aromas, simple, thrown together feasts, and relaxed style of entertaining that we all love… and let’s face it ladies, it’s the easiest way, and often the only way, to get your man to do the cooking.

    The days of simply chucking a sausage and a burger on the barbecue are long gone, although these two all-time favourites will always feature, and are perennial favourites. Today, it’s all about marinades, spices, rubs, salsas, salads, and all manner of chargrilled vegetables on the side.  But the essence of a barbecue is still the same – relaxed, fun, convivial, and sociable.

    What to drink? Well, beer will always be pretty near the top of the list, but wine is up there too, and with a myriad of different styles to choose from, the wine selection in itself, can become a bit of a headache.

    Here are some simple tips:

    - Wine is the supporting act for barbecues not the star of the show – don’t bring out your best bottles, or invest in highly expensive wines for the occasion, they won’t be appreciated.

    - Pick fresh, fruity, wines – zesty, citrusy whites, and bright, fruity reds – go easy on oaky wines, and avoid anything with heavy tannins.

    - Try a Rose – pink wines are fantastic barbecue wines – they’re versatile and very food friendly.

    - Balance the style of the wine with the flavours of the food – e.g. pick wines that will match the different marinades and cope with the strong flavours of the smokey barbecue and spices (in the same way that cool, fruity chutneys balance the heat of the spice in Indian dishes).

    - Keep the whites on ice, and slightly chill red wines, to bring out the fresh, fruity flavours – if you’re running out of space, fill big buckets with ice and water and put the bottles in there.

    - Invest in a few wine cooler sleeves – they keep wine chilled for much longer.

    - Opt for screw-capped bottles.  It makes life much easier when you are trying to barbecue and open bottles.

    Now down to the wines; generally speaking, as good all-rounders, go for mouthwatering, zesty whites with a bit of oomph – Sauvignon Blanc, un-oaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and southern Italian whites.  For reds, stick to two styles – lighter, juicier, cherry fruit-stashed wines such as Montepulciano, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Tempranillo; or opt for rich, but soft, velvety sunshine reds, with lots of ripeness, such as Shiraz, Zinfandel and Merlot.

    Of course, it depends on what you’re cooking:


    Heartland Spice Trader, Langhorne Creek Limestone Coast

    Classic steak, burgers and sausages – you won’t go far wrong here with bold, spicy, fruit-stashed reds, such as the spicy Heartland Spice Trader or similar velvety Shiraz-style wines.  Alternatively go for a lighter option, served slightly chilled.  The unusual, and little-known Braucol, Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn, with its bright, cherry and herb-stashed flavours would work well.


    Seafood and white fish -  keep it simple, whether it’s prawns, seabass or other – brush with oil, sprinkle with all styles of fresh herbs that you have to hand, add a couple of crushed garlic cloves and finely chopped red chilli, for a touch of spice.

    Domaine Roquemolière, Picpoul de PinetOr season lightly, chargrill and serve with a punchy salsa verde.  Zesty, crisp, refreshing whites, such as the searingly fresh, fennel-scented Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de la Roquemoliere or the citrus and peach-stashed Sicilian Planeta La Segreta.

    Tuna and salmon - here are a couple of my favourite recipes, that take no time, yet make all the difference to flavours:

    Chargrilled Tuna
    4 tuna steaks
    Olive Oil
    Lots of Lemon juice
    3 garlic cloves
    Fresh parsley, dill and basil

    Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over the tuna. Leave for 12 hours, then char-grill for 3 minutes each side. Very simple, very effective, very delicious.

    Barbecued salmon steaks with pistou

    4 salmon steaks
    bunch of basil leaves
    2 oz pine nuts
    2 garlic cloves
    Extra Virgin olive oil

    Whizz the basil, pine nuts and garlic with just enough olive oil to make a paste. Add seasoning. Put the salmon steaks on individual pieces of tinfoil, and top with the pistou paste. Wrap up and grill for 10 mins.

    With these recipes, I invariably opt for Southern French Rose, with its crisp, lively, bone dry strawberry flavours – it’s the epitome of summer even if the weather is shocking.  Stick to pale, peachy pink roses, full of strawberry, pomegranate and raspberry scents and flavours – 2 of my favourites are the Chateau Sainte Marguerite Cotes de Provence, and the beguiling Sicilian delight that is Planeta Rose.

    Château Sainte Marguerite, Grande Réserve, Organic Rosé, Cru Classé


    Thai prawns, or chicken – once again, marinades and barbecues mean simple preparation.  Mix up some crushed garlic, chopped ginger, a couple of sticks of lemongrass, one chopped red chilli, chopped fresh coriander, with the zest and juice of 3 limes, a splash of fish sauce, a hint of rice wine vinegar and some olive oil, and you’ve got the flavours of the Orient all ready to go.  Throw in some coconut milk for an extra layer of flavour.

    The Frost Pocket Sauvignon BlancHere you need bright, tongue-tingling zesty whites, and a Sauvignon Blanc, such as Frost Pocket, is always a good bet, as the intense crispness and tropical fruit character match the zingy flavours of the marinade.  The lime-drenched scents and flavours of Riesling wines also work well, as does one of my current favourites, the Austrian, nectarine and ginger-infused Machherndl Gruner Veltliner – spicy, yet dry and fresh as a daisy.


    Mediterranean cooking is simple – fresh meat, herbs, lemon, olive oil, and a riot of colourful vegetables – match these dishes with southern Italian and Spanish whites, or venture to the New World, for some super-fresh wine flavours.

    Leyda Chardonnay Reserva Leyda ValleyChicken with herbs and spicy mayonnaise -  a simple solution for last minute guests; sprinkle chicken thighs and drumsticks with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh thyme and oil ; serve with  ice-cold, fresh, lively, unoaked , or lightly oaked Chardonnay – the baked apple, peach and cream infused Leyda Chardonnay Resesrva, with its mouthwatering citrus finish would be a perfect match.  If you’re looking for a red, chill down a bottle of the bright, fresh, joyously fruity El Mago Garnacha, full of juicy berry fruit and wild herbs

    Texas/Jamaican/ Caribean

    Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel CaliforniaSpicy chicken – Barbecue sauce, and spicy, ketchup- inspired sauces are great favourites -  with these sweet, vinegar, chilli and sugar-spiked marinades, you need soft, fruity, velvety reds, or bold, fleshy whites.  The Californians know which wines work well with this type of food – Opt for the succulent, apricot and pineapple scented Bogle Viognier, which has enough natural sweetness to cope with these full-on flavours, or it’s red partner, the velvety, blackberry and sweetly spiced Bogle Zinfandel.

    These will also work equally well with ribs and Texas rub steaks, and this simple recipe for chicken.

    Spatchcocked barbecue chicken

    I free-range chicken (or use chicken thighs and drumsticks)
    2 pots natural yoghourt
    50ml hot sauce (sold in most supermarkets)
    1 finely chopped red chilli
    Sea salt flakes
    Zest and juice of 2 lemons
    Freshly chopped parsley and thyme

    Spatchcock the chicken (or get your butcher to do it), then press it down into a large ovenproof dish.  Mix up the marinade ingredients, pour over and rub in well.  Leave to marinade for 6-12 hours before barbecuing.

    J. Lohr 'Wildflower' Valdiguie Pulled Pork – one of the hot trends at the moment, there are lots of wines that will go with this, but opt for a fresh, and more lightweight red, with plenty of juicy fruit, low tannins, and a lively freshness.  Impress guests with the unusual, but very moreish and enchantingly fresh J Lohr, Valdiguie from California, which is jam-packed with zestily fresh berry fruit. Chill it down for best effect.


    Viña Falernia Carmenere Reserva, Elqui ValleyIndian spices, and tandoori or tikka marinades work brilliantly for barbecued meats, but are a bit more of a challenge for wines. This is where aromatic, spicy Rieslings come into their own, and soft, juicy reds, such as Leyda Pinot Noir Reserva, or even the rich, but velvety soft Falernia Carmenere Syrah, full of luscious, super-ripe blackberry and mocha flavours would work well.

    However, why not ring the changes? One of my favourite wine matches for spicy Indian food is a punchy, characterful Rose wine.  Skillogalee Handpicked Cabernet Malbec Rose is spot on here – intense, bold, and richly fruity, but dry.  Chill it down and see how well it works.  Try this with a simple, Indian-spiced marinade for lamb:

    Indian-spiced lamb skewers  

    1 lb lamb steaks, cubed
    4 oz plain yogurt
    1 oz fresh ginger, grated
    2 garlic cloves, crushed
    ½ tsp chilli powder
    1 chopped fresh chilli
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 tsp garam masala
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme
    Salt and pepper

    Mix all the marinade ingredients together, then mix with the lamb.  Marinade for up to 12 hours. Soak bamboo skewers, then thread on the lamb, place on oiled racks on the barbecue, and hey presto, just cook!

    Middle Eastern

    Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin Blanc StellenboschI love the warm, exotic scents of Moroccan, Lebanese and North African spiced dishes – with less heat, or overt punchiness than Indian or Oriental marinades, they have a beguiling, aromatic warmth and softness.  Cinnamon, harissa, cumin, and Ras-al-hanout are all staples, and work beautifully with spicy, yet fresh whites, such as Ken Forrester Reserve Chenin and The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne.

    Soft, yet full-bodied reds from Southern Italy and the New World are also ideal partners.  Try Ken Forrester Renegade, full of bold, Rhone-style flavours, or the delicious 12 e mezzo negroamaro from Puglia.  Both would work well with one of my favourite Moroccan spice-infused recipes for meltingly tender lamb.

    Moroccan lamb steaks – I road tested this last weekend, and it was a real hit

    4 lamb steaks
    25g smoked paprika
    1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
    2 tsp ground cumin
    3 crushed garlic cloves
    1 tsp harissa paste
    2 tsp ras al hanout
    50ml red wine vinegar
    Olive oil to coat

    This is another easy one.  Simply mix all the marinade ingredients, and rub into the lamb steaks.  Leave to marinade overnight, and hey presto, the lamb is ready to hit the coals – keep it pink, so don’t overcook.


    Some of my favourite barbecued food is vegetarian, and there’s a wealth to choose from at this time of year.  Throw away the recipe book, and just experiment with different vegetables.

    Sprinkle glossy aubergines and red peppers with oil and seasoning, and chargrill for maximum flavour, then add lemon juice and herbs. Do the same with tomatoes.

    Eidosela Albariño Rias BaixasCourgettes are in season right now; one of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook them on the barbecue, is to wrap the whole courgette in foil, adding a crushed clove of garlic, some lemon juice, freshly ground pepper and herbs; add a pinch of crushed coriander seeds for an edge of spice.  Pop on the barbecue for 15 minutes, and they will be deliciously soft.

    I like to serve barbecued vegetables with crumbled feta, or goat’s cheese.  This style of food calls for fresh, vibrant, Spanish and Italian whites.  You won’t go far wrong with  Eidesola Albarinho Rias Baixas, or the crisp, lemon balm scented Vermentino Tenuta Belguardo.

    Whichever dishes and wines you choose, keep it simple, keep it fun.  No rules, just a few suggestions. Enjoy!

    By Angela Mount

  • Alan's Wine of the Week: Dry Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle 2013

    Dry Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle 2013

    Dry Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle 2013

    Produced by Chateau Ste. Michelle, the founding winery of Washington State, this cool climate Riesling is made in a crisp, dry, refreshing style with mouth-watering acidity and an elegant finish. According to the winemaker, the inviting citrus aromas and flavours of ripe apricot are a winner when served alongside a platter of freshly shucked oysters.

    Regular price: £9.95 Special Price: £8.76

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid 08.07.15 - 27.07.15

  • Holiday wine made easy...

    According to consumer research by a number of travel companies, over 45% of us are planning a holiday in the UK this summer, with the South-West of England sharing the top popularity spot with Scotland.  Hotel bookings are down, with more and more of us opting to go self-catering. The popularity of holiday cottages, camping and glamping is on the up, as we choose to enjoy our summers on native shores and rural escapes, regardless of the weather.

    All well and good, but self-catering holidays take a bit of planning, whether you’re heading to the Cornish coastline, the Yorkshire Moors, or the Highlands. Apart from the obvious – tents, wellies, trekking boots, surf-boards - lots of us are packing up our cars with rations and staples for a week or two, especially if we’re heading to remote areas.  Local village shops are useful for a pint of milk, or a loaf of bread, but too many of us end up meandering along 10 miles of narrow, twisting lanes to find a decent supermarket, to stock up supplies to feed the family.

    From a wine perspective, it’s even worse! After a long drive, and the general upheaval of unloading the car and settling in, it’s chill-out time, and there is little more needed than a relaxing glass of wine... except the nearest village shop is shut and the closest supermarket is 10 miles away.  It should be an unwritten rule that any packing checklist for a self-catering holiday would include ‘wine for arrival’, but somehow that gets overlooked… and even if you do have a shop close by, it’s a bit of a lottery as to whether you’ll find anything decent or not.

    Holiday Cottage CaseStep forward the Great Western Wine ‘Holiday Cottage Case an ingenious little idea, devised to take one extra layer of stress out of holiday planning.  Twelve bottles; holiday themed; to be picked up from the shop before you travel, if you happen to be local to Bath, or, even better, to be ordered and delivered to your home, or ideally, your holiday address. At £100 for the 12, that works out at a very reasonable £8.33 per bottle, for some very decent wines, so one thing less to worry about - wine sorted.

    Summer holidays aren’t about serious wine, they’re about wine to enjoy, with family, with friends, and not take too seriously.  Wine is the support act, not the star, on these occasions.  Keep it fun, keep it light.  If you’re holidaying with friends, this is a great idea to get you through the first couple of days; if you’re having a family holiday and looking forward to relaxing once the kids have gone to bed, there’s a summery style wine in this mix, which will suit most moods, and will keep you in wine for the week.

    Prosecco Stelle d'Italia BrutSo here’s the deal – 2 bottles of each wine, to suit pretty much every holiday occasion. Kick off the shoes and relax with the first sundowner of the holidays in the form of a refreshing glass of Le Stelle D’Italia Prosecco, served well chilled, either on its own, or as a cocktail base.  Fresh, fruity and gently crisp, it’s a friendly glass of bubbles to help take that first inch of stress out of the shoulders. Mix it with fresh orange, cranberry juice, or any manner of other juices to lighten and freshen.

    Yealands Estate, Reserve Sauvignon BlancYealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is a bit of a no-brainer in this holiday case.  From one of New Zealand’s most pioneering and award-winning wineries, this passion fruit and gooseberry-stashed white is mouthwateringly crisp, with a squeaky-clean lime juice zestiness.  It ticks all the boxes – flavoursome, lively, zesty, and above all, refreshing.  Really versatile, it works well with lunchtime salads, as an aperitif, and is perfect with a platter of the freshest local seafood, and garlic and chilli-spiced barbecued prawns. And if you can’t be bothered to cook, and fancy a take-away on the beach, it’s the perfect wine for good old fish and chips.  If you love this wine, and happen to be staying in Cornwall, you’ll also find it snuggled on the wine list of Nathan Outlaw’s restaurant.

    The Hermit Crab Viognier/Marsanne, Originals, d'ArenbergThere’s another, slightly richer and spicier white wine in this holiday mixed case, which would be perfect as an easy, evening barbecue white – The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2013.  Named after fossils found in the vineyards of Australian wine producer D’Arenberg, it’s a ripe, gently-spiced dry white, based on a Rhone blend of Viognier and Marsanne; bursting with warm, smooth, nectarine and peach-drenched flavours, it has a lovely fragrance of Mediterranean fruit and fresh ginger. Smooth and enticing, it has a richness of flavours, balanced with a delicious streak of citrusy acidity.  This is a great barbecue white, as it will cope with just about any spice, or herb-infused marinated fish or meat.

    Comtes de Provence Rosé, La VidaubanaiseA sholiday wouldn’t be complete without a bottle of two of perfectly chilled Rosé – and nothing shrieks summer more than Cotes de Provence. La Vidaubanaise Cotes de Provence 2014 is one of my favourites, and in my mind, one of the best value Southern French pinks out there. It’s delicately pale in its gentle peachy hue, and is full of sunshine flavours of strawberries, raspberries and freshly-cut herbs, laced with a streak of lemon juice. Chill it right down, keep it on ice, then stash it in the cool-box for a summer picnic treat, or crack open a bottle after a day on the beach.  If you’re cooking tuna, prawns or salmon, this is spot on.  For Provence Rosé you want to be drinking the freshest 2014 vintage now, at its best, and this one does the job. If you run out of this one, and happen to be in Truro, head for the Rising Sun, and you’ll find lots more of it on ice!

    Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas Leyda ValleyRed wines are an important part of holiday drinking too, but lighter, fresher reds need to be the order of the day. There’s no better time in the year to drink Pinot Noir, as it’s soft, supple fruitiness and low tannins work perfectly with the summer trend.  Viña Leyda Pinot Noir Las Brisas 2012 is a great choice for holidays – chill it down to bring out the best juiciness of this wine, and serve with lunchtime platters of charcuterie and cheese. It’s exuberant and juicy, with beguiling scents of violets and raspberries, and is jam-packed with ripe cherry, and summer pudding berry fruits. Soft, velvety, and deliciously fresh. It would also work beautifully with oriental or Indian spiced barbecue chicken and lamb – again , served lightly chilled. This is a great Summer favourite at the Greenbank in Falmouth.

    Vallobera Pago Malarina RiojaThe final gem in this holiday case is the bright and youthful Vallobera Pago Malarina Rioja 2012 – Rioja is always a popular holiday favourite and extremely versatile. This one’s very modern in style, with far less oak ageing than traditional Rioja, which means that it keeps its freshness and vibrant fruitiness. Bursting with opulent, but soft strawberry and cherry fruit, it has hints of vanilla, and a smooth velvety style, which makes for the ultimate in relaxed evening drinking, with a slab of local cheese, or with steak, burgers, sausages and lamb.

    My final tips? Invest in a couple of wine chiller sleeves, and stash them in the freezer as soon as you arrive at your destination. You can chill wines quickly in the freezer, but keep an eye on the clock and only do so for 15  minutes or so (never put sparkling wines in the freezer – it will only end in tears, shards of glass all over the ice cream and a horrible mess to clear).  Take a ball of string to the beach, or to that riverside picnic for emergencies – tie the string securely around the top of the bottle, and to an overhanging tree or rock, and let it cool in the river current, or the waves. Finally Summer wine drinking is all about fun – chill your reds; if you want to add ice cubes to white or Rose, that’s fine, it will dilute the wine slightly, but there’s nothing wrong in that; and yes, it’s absolutely fine to drink summer wines out of plastic glasses, plastic cups, or even paper cups if things get desperate. No rules. Summertime. Holidays. Enjoy.

    By Angela Mount

  • Alan's Wine of the Week - Braucol, Domaine Vigné-Lourac

    Braucol, Domaine Vigné-Lourac

    Vigne Lourac Braucol Vin de Pays des Cotes du Tarn 2013

    Sumptuous plummy perfume. Ripe, almost squishy, blackberries in the mouth. Forward and easy to like; velevety tannin. Good, simple, honest enjoyment.

    Regular price: £8.95 Special Price: £7.88

    Free delivery on orders over £100 | Save 10% on 12 bottles | Save 5% on 6 bottles

    Prices valid 08.07.15 - 27.07.15

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