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  • Our Fine Wine Manager Visits Rioja

    It is really very exciting to be invited to visit our two new producers in Rioja, and especially so, since I have never been to the region before.  Beautiful warm sunshine is forecast:  all the more reason to escape a dismal English February for a couple of days.

    Day 1

    The first view of Rioja is underwhelming.  I had been under the impression outside Britain, weather forecasting was always accurate.  I want to get out and snap away at the bee-youtiful mountains as soon as the fog clears, but ‘Dad’ won’t stop the car.  It’s the 1993 family holiday all over again.  Scuffles almost break out in the back seat.

     

     

    We are welcomed to Sierra Cantabria by the charming and articulate Eduardo Eguren: winemaker, fount of knowledge and fifth generation heir to the family business.  Eduardo explains that although the grape Tempranillo takes its name from ‘temprano’ (early), high up in Rioja Alavesa it ripens late.  Sierra Cantabria’s highest vineyards are at about 600m elevation, and in 2009 it started snowing before they finished picking the grapes!

     

    To the Egurens’ new underground cellars.  Mercedes with darkened windows escort our convoy fore and aft. Massive portal at end of canyon cut into hillside. “Mr King, I have been expecting you.”

    This place is jaw-dropping.  Two kilometres of cellars excavated under a hilltop just outside the village of San Vicente de la Sonsierra.  A new winery is being built out of stone excavated from the cellars.

     

    In the middle of San Vicente de la Sonsierra is the family’s oldest winery – Señorio de San Vicente – which dates back to the 1870s.  Since 1991, it has been dedicated exclusively to the production of just one wine, coming from one vineyard, ‘La Canoca’, in the foothills of the Sierra Cantabria.  The Egurens were keen to nurture the almost extinct Tempranillo Peludo (‘Hairy Tempranillo), which ripens exceptionally late, yields low and produces fabulously characterful and concentrated wine.

    I have never tasted San Vicente before, but I already kind-of know that I will love it.  And I am right.  And the same goes for all twelve wines we taste here – what a phenomenal range.  Wow!

    Just two hours after lunch (it finished at about 6pm), Kirsty and Ana of Ramón Bilbao treat us to the famous ‘tapas run’ in Logroño, where fifty tapas bars jostle in a single block less than 100 paces square.  To avoid competition, each bar specialises in just one or two dishes.  After such a late lunch, the question is:  Can we fit them?  Yes we can!

    I must look unmistakably English, because somebody cannons into me and mutters “perdón, perdón,” a couple of times.  Looking at me he then says “sorry, sorry, sorry!” And I haven’t even opened my mouth.  Has someone put a sign saying “Inglés” on my forehead?

     

    Day 2

    Ana takes us first to the dizzyingly high vineyard in La Rioja Alta (High Rioja) in which Tempranillo for the ‘Viñedos de Altura’ wine is grown.  Garnacha comes from a vineyard in Rioja Baja (Low Rioja), which is similarly high up.  Confused?  If Ana had hoped to induce vertigo in us, the fog paid to that – you can’t see a thing.

     

     

     

    Over the hill and along some very bumpy tracks is the ancient vineyard planted 100% with Tempranillo, whose fruit is made into the ‘Mirto’ wine.

     

    A couple of points of interest are a Roman wine press and a chozo – a shallot-shaped hut traditionally used for storing tools and shelter for vineyard workers from summer thunderstorms.

     

     

     

    At Ramón Bilbao’s winery in Haro, we are treated to a tasting of all of their wines, inside a glass cube suspended over a fermentation vat.  Not sure which Bond film took place here.  Yesterday’s tasting is a hard act to follow, but to our delight, this is another ‘wow’ experience.  The style is different here – more succulent and forward – but the wines are also delicious, and there’s some exciting innovation.  Even at today’s exchange rates, they are also very affordable.

     

     

    The team – Ed, Kirsty, Graeme, Kate, Matt, Dave (‘Dad’), Kathrine, Freddie and me.


  • Crafty Local Beers

    Pop into the Great Western Wine shop in Bath to view our new and exciting range of local craft beers!

     

    Wiper and True

    Started by Michael Wiper, this ground breaking brewery which now has its home in St Werburghs in Bristol has been a huge influence on the beer scene in the South West and beyond. Batch brew beers mean that the names and styles of each brew vary. Results are always fantastic.

    wiperandtrue.com

     

    Electric Bear Brewing Co.

    Electric Bear Brewing Co. is still new but already significant, and is based in Bath. This experienced, award-winning team has created a great range of distinctive and delicious beers for beer-lovers of all sorts, from hop-head craft beer aficionados to real-ale cask beer drinkers.

    electricbearbrewing.com

     

    Kettlesmith Brewing

    Kettlesmith Brewing Company is a small, independent craft micro-brewery located in Bradford on Avon, just outside Bath. Brewing modern interpretations of a wide variety of beer styles; drawing inspiration from their background in America and England as well as a love of Belgian beer.

    kettlesmithbrewing.com

     

    Arbor Ales

    Started in 2007, this eminent Bristol brewery is now very well established and has over 300 beers to it's name within this time. We have stocked a fantastic selection from their wide range of beers that have made their name as a top quality local brewery.

    arborales.co.uk

     

    Thornbridge Brewery

    Thornbridge branded beers were first brewed in early 2005 after the establishment of a 10 barrel brewery in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall in Bakewell. Since then they have grown into an iconic brewery, and we’re listing some of their core and most well-known beers.

    thornbridgebrewery.co.uk

     

    Lost and Grounded

    Absolutely brand new, Lost and Grounded Brewers is a brewery in Bristol, UK. Started brewing only in July 2016!  They are fascinated by the precision of German brewing and the idiosyncratic nature of Belgian beers, and make a great selection of interesting and excellent beers.

    lostandgrounded.co.uk

  • Roaring success for London’s biggest ever wine pop-up

    London's biggest ever wine pop-upGreat Western Wine don’t do small; they aren’t shy and retiring wallflowers.  No, they’re bold, passionate, and out there – so the maverick idea of hosting ‘London’s biggest ever wine pop-up’ was met with rallying cries and a determination to create a superb, interactive wine event… which they did, with bells and whistles on top!

    It was a brilliant idea. Take one big, almost cavernous, whitewashed space, in this case, the Old Truman Brewery, nestled close to Shoreditch and Hoxton in London’s trendy East End; stir in 400 wines, 80 wine producers, a superb menu of miniature street food, a DJ mixing the decks with a cool, urban vibe, and then throw in almost 500 guests and wine lovers – a recipe for success.

    I’ve been to more wine tastings than I’ve had hot dinners over the years, but this was something different.  It captured the spirit of what wine is becoming, and the role it should play in the zeitgeist of our fascination with food and wine.  It was as exciting as going to a food pop up.  The event moved the traditional ‘wine tasting’ format a million miles from the stuffy ‘white tablecloth’ tasting format, to a cool, urban positioning, perfectly poised in the trendiest part of the capital, with rough-hewn, wooden wine booths, a plethora of bottles, and a bunch of winemakers, who were more than thrilled to get the opportunity to chat to their guests.

    People circulated, enjoying the richness of the range of wines on offer; I chatted to a few, some of whom may read this – the enthusiasm, the knowledge and the passion about wine was second to none. From Champagne, through to Italy, from Argentina to South Africa, guests were fascinated.

    And for me, the most exciting part was seeing the reaction of the wine producers – they toil month after month, to craft wines of which they are proud, and which they represent with passion.  But because of location, they don’t often get to meet the people who buy, drink and enjoy their wines. And when they do, this is where stories begin…. On both sides.  Wherever I looked wine producers were chatting, or at least smiling and communicating with guests, however great the language barrier, and the excitement and enthusiasm was palpable.

    Viña Falernia, Syrah Reserva, Elqui ValleyWith over 80 producers there, it was difficult to catch up with more than a few, but all were proud as peacocks of having the opportunity to showcase their wines, and loved the night. Exuberant Italian winemaker Giorgio Flessati, who moved to Chile and conquered the desesrt to create Viña Falernia, the most northern winery in Chile, chatted passionately to fans of his wines, and they loved him, and the wines even more.  The Falernia Syrah Reserva 2011, which was on show, is simply a gorgeous blanket of voluptuous richness, depth and spicy fruit, punching well above its weight.

    Planeta, AlastroLeading Sicilian wine producer Planeta was also showcasing new vintages and new styles of wine, with glamorous owner Francesca Planeta in place to beguile guests with stories of Sicilian vinous treasures – for me the newly-repackaged Alastro Bianco, full of rich, fleshy Mediterranean fruit, yet shot through with a core of pure citrus freshness was spot on; Negro’s delicious soft, light, and gently fruity Birbet Brachetto offered the perfect touch of the forthcoming summer, whilst  perennial Tuscan favourite Fattoria dei Barbi continued to impress with its fabulously good value Brusco dei Barbi, which outshines many top Tuscans time and time again , at a fraction of the price.

    It was a multinational event; celebrated sommelier, turned winemaker Franck Massard enthused about his passion and projects for small ventures in Spain, and his new vineyard in the wild and rugged Priorat. Small Champagne family grower, De Gobillard, quietly, but proudly, introduced their showstopping, dreamy 2009 vintage Gobillard Vintage Champagne 2009  Booth after booth, there was excitement, there were great wines, and best of all, there were lots of people talking about wine and having fun.

    For those slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of the event, the Great Western Wine team had even provided a quick-fix solution – a few ‘themed’ tables, where they had selected a bespoke few, of which they were particularly proud, and which all told a story – ‘Drinking outside the box’, ‘Skinted and minted’ and ‘Clash of the Titans’ to name but three. Wines for everyone, whatever the brief and budget.

    In summary, brilliant, with a capital B. Great Western Wine proved that wine isn’t over-complicated, isn’t scary, it fits our lifestyle just as much as the next food trend does.  All I want to know is when and where the next one is.

    By Angela Mount

     

  • Made in Italy

    Here is a selection of some of our favourite, lesser known, Italian wines. There is something for everyone here, from crisp, dry whites to rich, savoury reds. Enjoy!

    Cantina Cleto Chiarli, Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara Premium

    Cleto Sorbara Lambrusco

    This is the perfect wine to have this Spring – it has enough froth and fizz to give you that all important pick-me-up while there’s still a chill in the air. This bright ruby wine is full of ripe, cherry fruit along with some savoury pepperiness that is ideal with charcuterie and hard cheeses. Lambrusco is now back on the wine lists of the world’s top Italian restaurants like London’s The River Café and Bocca di Lupo, or three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in the wine’s homeland of Modena.

    £13.95  £12.28 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

    Santadi, Carignano del Sulcis, Grotta Rossa

    Santardi Grotta Rossa

    Santadi are one of the jewels of the Mediterranean paradise of Sardinia. Tuscan legend Giacomo Tachis helps make world famous wines like Terre Brune and more affordable reds like this gamey Carignan. Fans of fuller bodied Pinot Noirs will be very happy to discover this little gem, with its notes of violet, dried fig, blackcurrant and porcini. A complex wine that opens up a world of Italian wine outside the mainland’s classics.

    £11.50  £10.12 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

    Caggiano Greco di Tufo 'Devon'Caggiano Greco 

    If you like good quality Viognier, you’ll love Greco. In Tufo, Campania, the grape comes into its own, producing a crisp, minerally wine with lemon citrus, almond and hints of apricot and pineapple. The name ‘Devon’ on the bottle is a little confusing – no, it’s not named after the county in the English Riviera, but the Devon ice cap in the Arctic. Any clearer? Well, producer Antonio Caggiano once visited and was so impressed he named his wine after it...

    £17.95  £15.80 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

    Nino Negri, Inferno, Mazer Valtellina SuperioreNino Negri Inferno

    ‘Inferno’ is the rather brilliant name given to one of the sub-zones of Valtellina Superiore. The rocky Alpine slopes are so steep, and summer temperatures so high, that toiling in these vineyards sometimes feels like ‘hell’. But it’s all worth it for the quality of the vivid ruby red wines with aromas of plums, mulberries, roses and dried violets. The Chiavennasca grape is a strain of Piemonte’s famous Nebbiolo, delivering savoury wines with elegant, lingering flavours of toasted hazelnuts and spice.

    £17.50  £15.40 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

    Onorata Langhe Favorita, Azienda Agricola NegroNegro Favorita 

    This family run winery produces fabulous reds and whites in the Langhe area of Piemonte. White wines from here are becoming more and more popular – and you can see why. Made from 100% Favorita — Liguria’s Vermentino grape – this is crisp and fragrant, with hints of apple blossom and ripe citrus fruits. Ideal served as a Spring aperitif or with fresh seafood and herby roast chicken.

    £13.50  £11.88 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

     

    Bertani, Recioto Valpolicella DOC

    Bertani Recioto

    Recioto is a sweet wine made with dried grapes from the Valpolicella area of Veneto  - If you like Amarone, you’ll love this matched with rich puddings and cheeses. The grapes are dried for at least a month longer than those used for Amarone, giving the wine a distinctive ‘raisined’ flavour and notes of plum, cherry, dark chocolate and warming spice. Established in 1857, Bertani is still family owned, creating wines of both tradition and innovation.

    £23.00  £20.24 (+10% off 12+ bottles)

    Watch this short video from wine buyer Sergio De Luca on a couple of customer favourites from his recent Made in Italy tasting in Bath.

    By Chris Penwarden

    All prices above are based on our Italian promotion in March.  Valid until 31.03.15

  • 5 Iberian wines you need to try

    As our Iberian promotion comes to a close, we take a look at the top 5 wines from some of our favourite producers. Don't forget until midnight tonight you can receive an extra 15% off all wines, including wines already in the Iberian promotion, making it a total saving of 25%.

    To receive the 15% discount enter FEBTREAT15 at the checkout

     

    Ailala Treixadura Rbeiros Do Avia 2013  Ailala Treixadura Ribeiros Do Avia 2013

    Powerful aromatics on the nose with apricot, white flowers, and spices such as clove, mint, and fennel. The palate displays sweet lemon and ripe melon with plenty of zing and grapefruit peel. A wine of great complexity and style and with bags of character. Treixadura is truly a noble grape!

    " ...very well made wine with a good, punchy finish" - Jancis Robinson 

     

    Quinta Do Crasto, Douro White 2014

    Quinta Do Crasto, Douro White 2013

    Bright and pale lemon yellow in the glass with an enticing minerality on the nose followed up with crunchy green apple, camomile and lemons. Fresh attack on the palate leading into a fresh and crisp finish.

    "...chalky lemony citrus fruit, cut with a salty green olive tang and mouthwatering, well integrated acidity" - Sarah Ahmed, The Wine Detective

     

    Ribera del Duero, Joven, Pago de los Capellanes 2013Ribera del Duero, Joven, Pago de los Capellanes 2013

    Aromas of black cherry and red forest fruit - complimented with a light touch of spice and vanilla. A fresh, vibrant wine with a velvety texture.

    "...bursts with terrific, lively, leafy, spiced black fruits and dark chocolate flavours. Perfect with everything from roasted red meats to strong cheeses." - Jane MacQuitty, The sunday Times

     

    Marques de Riscal, Rioja Reserva 2010Marqués de Riscal, Rioja Reserva 2010

    Dark cherry colour with balsamic aromas abd hints of ripe fruit. The attack is fresh and light, with soft, rounded tannins. Spicy and complex, the finish is persistent with subtle toasted oak character. Elegant, fresh and easy to drink.

    "This is showing some classy evolution, with a smooth, complete nose of spicy, vital fruit." - Top wines under £100, Decanter

     

    Massard, Huellas Priorat 2011Massard, Heullas Priorat 2011

    Extremely complex with nuances of mature fruit, minerality and herbaceous spice, with fine tannins and an elegant, long, lively finish.

    "...an inviting bouquet of Asian spices, smoke, mineral, black cherry, and black plum leading to a high-toned, racy style of Priorat. The wine has plenty of sweet fruit, excellent volume, and a lengthy, pure finish." Jay Miller, Wine Advocate

     

    15% off discount ends midnight 26.02.15 with the Iberian promotion available until midnight Sunday 1st March.

    By Olivia Moore

  • Fifty Shades of Grapes

    Spending the night in with your Valentine this Saturday? Here’s five ways to make sure your wine choices are fit for the occasion.
    Perrier-Jouët, Belle Epoque1. Be seduced – That furtive exchange across the room is the start of many a relationship, so how important is it for your wine to be well dressed? Surely it’s the label that most attracts us to a wine. Traditional or modern, elegant or bohemian – there is a wine label for everyone.  Once poured, the wine itself begins to reveal itself: clarity, animation and a brilliant hue are all visual clues that lead us to the enjoyment to be had in the glass.

    Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County

     

     

    2. In the mood for love – Oysters, whipped cream and asparagus are all less likely to get us in the mood for love than a bar of Toblerone or a glass of Cabernet, according to restaurant booking website, bookatable. Britain’s 2nd favourite aphrodisiac turns out to be red wine, and this can only be good news for those trying to follow a healthy lifestyle – yes, it’s great for the heart, according to experts.

     

    Ascheri, Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC, Bricco San Giacomo3. Get out the blind fold – blind tasting is a fun way to taste wine and it really awakens the senses. Website Wine Folly goes a step further, pinpointing the different aromas in wine that ‘arouse’ men and women. Apparently, top ‘turn ons’ for the female of the species include “musky, earthy, woody, licorice-y, and cherry-like aromas”, while men prefer “lavender, caramel, butter, orange, licorice, baking spice, vanilla-like aromas.”. With this in mind, the lady in your life might go for NebbioloBarberaSangioveseZinfandel or Pinot Noir, while husbands and boyfriends are surprisingly partial to Champagne, dry Sherry, Grenache, Syrah and even rosé.

    Domaine de la Mirandole, Côtes du Rhône

     

    4. Be adventurous – break the rules and try something different: a match made in heaven might be just around the corner. Michelin starred chef Tom Kerridge and wine guru Joe Wadsack urged us to try fish and red wine on last week’s Food and Drink show on BBC2. Joe said that Tom’s dish of spice crusted yellow fin tuna was the fish equivalent of fillet steak, making it a brilliant pair for a lighter style of red like a Pinot Noir or Côtes du Rhône. Just try not to think of Tom and Joe when you serve it up to your loved one on Valentine’s Day - it may be a passion killer.

     

    Champagne Taittinger Prestige Rosé5. Submit to persuasion – the easiest thing to do is leave the wine choice to us here at Great Western Wine.  There are fifty shades of grapes out there, all waiting to be tried by you. So have a look online or come and visit us in store to discover some new wines you’re going to love.  Or if you want to keep it simple, a great start would be the Taittinger Rose at an affordably luxurious £32.50.

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Hot Off The Press: Matthew Jukes Wine of the Week

    Wines In The Press

    Matthew JukesMatthew Jukes recently posted this amazing review of Santadi’s Terre Brune 2010 for MoneyWeek.

    To summarise: “This is the finest red I have ever tasted from Sardinia and it is also my favourite Carignan in the world.” Praise indeed!

    See below for Matthew's full review, or check out the original post for MoneyWeek on his website righthere.

    2010 Terre Brune, Santadi, Sardinia, Italy 

    2010 Terre Brune, Santadi

    There is a brilliant Italian restaurant in Lower Sloane Street, London SW1 called Caraffini.  Always packed with locals, this is not a trendy Italian newcomer but an elegant institution with superb, classic dishes, the finest service in London and also a lovely, short wine list.  Every single time I have been there (over two decades!) I have ordered Rocca Rubia – a spectacular and eminently affordable Carignan from Sardinia.

    “The other day I tasted Rocca Rubia’s ‘tre bicchieri’ (the highest award in the Italian wine guide, Gambero Rosso) big brother, Terre Brune. This is old vine Carignano with a dash of a local grape called Bovaleddu. This is the finest red I have ever tasted from Sardinia and it is also my favourite Carignan in the world.  The level of bravado, flair and flamboyance on show in this inky red wine is staggering and it is already drinking beautifully.”

    Jukes goes on to highlight some other personal favourites from the Tre Bicchieri-awarded wines in Great Western Wine’s portfolio, adding “they are all epic.”

    2013 Fiano di Avellino Bechar

    2013 Vecchie Viti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Ruggeri

    2010 Barolo Cannubi, E. Pira

  • Take a fresh look at Iberia

    We've hand-picked a selection of this month's Iberian wines, each chosen to represent the new face of Spain and Portugal. These are wines that have confidence and personality, made by passionate winemakers who are dedicated to expressing the true character of their grapes and regions.

    Ailala Treixadura, Ribeiro £10.95  £9.64

    Ailala Treixadura Ribeiros Do Avia

    Ribeiro is the place to go for cool, aromatic grape varieties with a bit of zing; just like the indigenous Treixadura - also used across the border in Portugal for Vinho Verde. If you like Albarino, you'll love this: It's made in the same cool, damp corner of Spain - Galicia - known for its fresh seafood and crisp, lemony whites.

    Pato Frio Antao Vaz, Alentejo  £10.75  £9.46

    Ribafreixo, Pato Frio Antao Vaz

    Portugal's Alentejo was once the source of cheap, bulk wine for the local farm workers. But not any more: a new wave of producers have unlocked the potential of this unique land, producing sleek, modern white wines like this little gem. The local Antão Vaz grape is one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets, offering a structured, perfumed, tangerine peel character with refreshing minerality from the shale soils.

    Bella Luna Amontillado 37.5CL  £5.95  £5.24

    Amontillado, Bella Luna, Jerez

    Forget Granny's sweet Christmas treat; this is the real deal. It's dry and nutty - just perfect with mountain dried jamon. Once you get a taste for it, it will be a drinks cabinet essential: you'll be making your friends try some with their tapas, before they can even say 'hola'. Not only that, it makes a lovely addition to a rich Bloody Mary with a dash of celery bitters - yum.

    Pagos de los Capellanes Joven - £14.95  £13.16

    Ribera del Duero, Joven, Pago de los Capellanes

    Probably the greatest red wine makers you've never heard of: These guys usually craft wines to age for ten years or more, but this 'Joven' style is made to drink now, with a hunk of roast beef or lamb. Made from Spain's finest red grape, Tempranillo, this lively, spicy red has the richness of Rioja combined with Ribera's trademark freshness.

    El Mago Organic Garnacha, Terra Alta - £10.50  £9.24

    El Mago Organic Garnacha

    El Mago means 'The Wizard', and it's a wine which certainly seems to have put Spanish wine lovers under its spell. This juicy, unoaked Grenache is made by ex-UK Sommelier of the Year, Franck Massard, who now likes to make the wine rather than pour it. The Terre Alta is literally the 'high ground' - a high altitude growing area that is perfect for making robust yet refreshing reds.

    A Descoberta, Casa da Passarella - £10.50  £9.24

    A Descoberta Red, Casa da Passarella

    This cracking red hails from Dão, one of the most ancient wine producing regions of Portugal; however, this 115 year old property was saved from ruin by Passarella as recently as 2009. Like El Mago, the grapes are grown at altitude to give vibrancy and freshness to the fruit, but here the indigenous Port grape Touriga-Nacional is blended with Spain's Tempranillo (Tinta Roriz) to give rich flavours of chocolate and mouthwatering redcurrant fruit.

    View all the wines in our Iberian promotion here

     By Chris Penwarden

  • 5 Ways to Drink Smart

    If you fancy being more adventurous with your wine choices this year, follow our short guide to getting the most out of our January Sale wines. These 5 simple rules will soon have you drinking outside the box.

    Ixsir Grande Reserve Red

    Try a new country – how about Lebanon? – The wines here are fresh, modern and assertive. Ixsir combine the traditional winemaking expertise of consultant Hubert de Boüard from world famous Bordeaux Château Angélus, with an ultra modern subterranean winery, voted as one of the world’s greenest buildings by CNN.  Their ‘Altitudes’ range is named after the exceptional high altitude vineyards which help to deliver cool, pristine, unoaked whites and reds, whereas their ‘Grande Réserve’ wines are powerful, rich and barrel-aged.

     

    Ribafreixo, Pato Frio Antao VazRe-think an old country – try Portugal – it’s not just about Port; the reds, whites and rosés are fabulous value and packed full of flavour. Winemakers like those at Ribafreixo are paving the way for modern, new-wave Portugal. Located in the heart of the Alentejo region, the area of Vidigueira has a unique climate, with cooling mountain air and mineral-rich soils. The indigenous Antão Vaz grape is one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets – offering a structured, perfumed, tangerine peel character with notable minerality.

     

    Amontillado, Bella Luna, JerezRe-assess a classic – It definitely time to re-assess Sherry - The dry sherry craze in the capital is less of a retro trend and more about discovering a brand new flavour – it also helps that it’s brilliant with tapas.  Since 1781, the winemakers at Sanchez Romate have become pastmasters at creating rich, complex, well-aged wines like this bone-dry Amontillado.  The hazelnut and bitter almond flavours are an essential match with mountain air-dried hams, bringing out the sweet and salty notes in both the wine and the meat.

     

    Reichsrat Von Buhl Erste Lage Deidesheimer MäushöhleChallenge your assumptions - Think you know Riesling?  The underdog is back - helped by interest from winemakers in places like Australia and New Zealand.  German Riesling still struggles with its image - and labels with long, unpronounceable names don’t help. But this can be an advantage for wine lovers; the low prices commanded for wines (which were famously once more expensive than the Grand Crus of Bordeaux), mean bargains galore. Forget trying to decipher the wine label of Reichsrat Von Buhl Erste Lage Deidesheimer Mäushöhle 2013 - just relax in the knowledge that this is a top class dry white wine with incredible refreshing lime acidity and delicate notes of dried flowers.

     

    Vigne Lourac Braucol Vin de Pays des Cotes du TarnTry a new grape – glass of Braucol anyone?  Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown - bargains lurk where others fear to tread. Braucol is an obscure grape variety, indigenous to South West France. If you like lighter bodied reds like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir then this is the variety for you. It is a great choice for squirreling away for a couple of months until the daffodils peek through, heralding the start of spring. The ripe, velvety texture and uplifting perfume of blackberry and plum make this an ideal wine to serve lightly chilled, alongside a platter of cheese and charcuterie.

    These 5 rules will help you start to drink smart – but you don’t have to go it alone: our wine experts are always on hand to help you pick out something new and interesting.

  • In The News

    New Year’s Cheer for Yealands

    The Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown has just reviewed 2013 Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc, giving the wine an impressive 90 points. Top scores usually go to heavy reds meant for ageing, so it’s good news that Robert Parker’s publication is recognising the crisp, freshness of Yealand’s top notch white.

    “Made with fruit that comes 100% from the Seaview Vineyard, the 2013 Yealands Estate Sauvignon Blanc shows off lovely grapefruit peel and peach skin notes, crushed stones and dill seed.” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate, January 2015.

     

    The Beckett list

    Fiona Beckett blogged about her ‘12 Best Drink Pairings of 2014’, including Henschke’s Mount Edelstone Shiraz.  For her most memorable food and wine match from May 2014, she chose a pairing created for a Great Western Wine fine wine dinner at Allium in Bath - 40 day aged fillet of black angus beef with the 2010 vintage of the Shiraz. As Fiona pointed out: “No, not rocket science but sometimes you can’t beat the classics - and a welcome reminder...just what a good buy the Mount Edelstone Shiraz is."

     

     

    A Cut above

    For Wine Searcher, respected wine writer Wink Lorch posted an article highlighting the best value reds and whites listed on the website, compiled from their comprehensive database.  The website’s top red, as rated by at least three critics, was the 2010 Heartland Directors' Cut Shiraz, Langhorne Creek, Australia. Wink noted that although specific vintages were chosen, all the wines selected “show consistent good quality/price ratio through the vintages”.

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