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Wines in the Press

Because we have so many fantastic wines, many are written about in the local and national press. Find these write ups here.

  • Ginspiration

    TRISTAN DARBY offers advice for balmy summer's evenings, on where to seek the perfect ginspiration

     

    Anyone who’s visited a bar or spirits retailer over the last few years will be aware of the gin bloom. Last year saw record UK sales of more than 40m bottles, with 2016 being dubbed ‘the year of gin’. This meteoric rise is far from over (with more than 40 new distilleries opened in the UK last year alone), and with an increasingly dynamic and diverse range of quality-led gins on offer – who’s to complain?

    Gin has a fascinating history from its likely beginning as a medicine, through the whisky-like Dutch Genever, Mother’s ruin and Victorian gin palaces to the present day. I’ll be hosting a Gin and Tonic Tasting on Wednesday 31st May at Great Western Wine where you can learn lots more about the history and world of gin in a fun, hands-on way. Click here to book tickets >  But for now, here are a few labels I recommend adding to your collection:

    Jensen’s Bermondsy London Dry Gin | £26 After tasting vintage gin from a long-lost London distillery, Christian Jensen set out to create an uber-traditional London Dry using only botanicals available in the 1800’s (no cucumber or seaweed here). Made at a small distillery located in railway arches near London Bridge, this is a gloriously traditional juniper-led gin with a strong pine note from the Italian juniper berries, and a touch of violets, spice and herbs. Rich and complex yet subtle and smooth. Delicious in a dry Martini, or a classic G&T with premium Indian tonic water and lemon or lime.

    Martin Miller’s Gin | £25 was a trailblazer for the gin renaissance, launched in 1999 at a time when gin was a business few in their right mind would go into. It was made with martin’s uncompromising vision to create the perfect gin. The lighter botanicals are distilled separately to the earthier ones, then blended together for balance, along with distilled cucumber. The resulting strong spirit is then sent on a 3000-mile round-trip to Iceland, where it is ‘cut’ to bottling strength of 40% abv with the purest water source available; mountain-filtered glacial melt water. Why shipped to Iceland? Back in the 90’s import laws meant water had to be ‘demineralised’ to transport across the EU (negating the whole point of using it). Does the effort make a difference? Yes. Awesomely fresh, pure, crisp and balanced. This is my go-to end of a long day gin served neat over ice. Also great in a Martini or G&T. Try it with Dr Polidori’s Cucumber Tonic or with Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic as a relaxing spring/summer sipper.

    Brilliantly berry-infused Brockman’s Gin | £32, uses ten botanicals including blueberries and blackberries. Flavoursome and fruity, but beautifully balanced, I love to sip this neat.

    Warner Edwards Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin | £35.50 is cleverly made using the pressed pink juice of a rhubarb crop originally grown in Queen Victoria’s garden. Fully flavoured, tangy and a little sweet, but again a beautifully balanced gin that’s a huge treat on its own served over ice or in a G&T.


  • When wine meets chocolate

    "Its a tough job, but someones got to do it" is the phrase that sprung to mind when I set off on a quest to find out whether wine and chocolate could live together. Easter is looming and that means chocolate, and lots of it, so it seemed the right time to put this to the test.

    Can the two co-exist? I'm delighted to say that the answer is yes, but choose with care. Just like wine there is great chocolate, but there is pretty horrible, gloopy muck, full of greasy cocoa butter, and not much else too - if that's what rocks your boat, I'd stick with a cup of tea to accompany it.

    There is a world of exciting, artisan-crafted chocolate out there - from all over the world. I recently co-hosted a wine and chocolate pairing evening, with Spencer Hyman, who is as passionate about chocolate as I am about wine, and has set up an online subscription business for true choc lovers called Cocoa Runners. He and his team whizz around the world sniffing out the best bean producers and also the best chocolate-makers; his range is vast, encompassing chocolate bars from Brooklyn to Budapest, Cleethorpes to Saigon.

    For wine, it's all about the grape, the soil, and how you make it; with chocolate it's pretty much the same, which is why Great Western Wine have teamed up with Cocoa Runners to stock a wide range of chocolates, matched with specific wines. The chocolate range is broad, ranging from the darkest, most intense and highest cocoa content bars, to fudgy, creamy and unctuous milk varieties.

    So what works? The old adage is that you need to drink something sweeter than the chocolate itself - easily done, but a bit predictable. After an exhaustive and extensive afternoon of wine and chocolate-matching (I did say it was a tough job), here are my recommendations for you to enjoy the ultimate in indulgences - and yes, red wine can work with chocolate, and does so rather nicely, if you pick the right one. So throw your preconceptions aside and try a few of these with your Easter chocolate fest...

    Dark Chocolate

    This has over 70% cocoa solids, with depth and intensity, it's sweet yet has a balancing bitter note - think oozingly rich chocolate fondant. Rich, spicy red wines can work well here, as the balance between the sweetness and the bitter edge in dark chocolate marries well with an intense, voluptuous drink. Chilean Carmenere can be great, Viña Falernia Carmenere Syrah, 2014 (£13.75) was spot on. In this wine, one third of the grapes are left to dry out to a raisin-like state, which means the wine is richer and takes on an 'amarone' type of intensity, with truffly, mocha notes, powerful enough to balance the brooding intensity of dark chocolate.

     

    Milk Chocolate

    The world's favourite style; here, the milk content adds to the sweetness and luxuriously creamy texture. Australian-style Muscats generally work well, but can overpower with their exuberant personalities, but my two favourites in this category are lesser well-known sweeties. First up, a glorious sweet red, somewhere between a dessert wine and port. Bertani Recioto 2012, 50cl (£23.00) from Italy is my go-to choice. Its mix of cinnamon, spice, and candied peel, is silky, sumptuous and utterly indulgent. My other top choice was PX Belle Luna (£8.95) - almost syrupy in texture, sensuous and swooningly enchanting, with its decadent raisin, dried fig and toffee character.

     

    White Chocolate

    People either love or hate white chocolate. Its a mix of mainly cocoa butter, milk and sugar, often flavoured with vanilla. This is where traditional dessert wines work well, with their gentle, honey and caramel edges. Patricius Late Harvest Tokaji 2015, 37.5cl (13.95) from the majestic Tokay region of Hungary is the style to fit the bill here, with its notes of acacia honey, honeysuckle and dried, candied oranges.

    To sum up, wine + chocolate = happiness!

     

     

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life Magazine

  • Our wines in the press

    A Grape Match...

     

    MALVASIA DEL SALENTO | £10.75

    "The main flavours of this dish are smoked fish, so it needs a wine with just as much punch and power. Stick with white wine here, and stay in the Italian homeland. I've recently discovered this versatile Italian white; gentle, soft and packed with melon and peach character, it has an edge of spice which is a perfect complement to the smokey, powerful flavours of the salmon and mackerel."

    - Angela Mount, Crumbs Magazine -

     

    The Avonmouth Angler Pizza

    Makes 1
    INGREDIENTS
    For the dough:
    4g sachet dried yeast
    1/2 tbsp sugar
    150ml lukewarm water
    250g strong white bread flour
    1/2 tsp sea salt

    For the Sauce:
    Olive oil
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    Small bunch basil, finely chopped
    250ml bottle of pasata

    Toppings:
    50g spinach
    90g smoked mackerel
    80g smoked salmon
    60g mozzarella, grated
    Small handful parsley, chopped
    1/4 lemon

    METHOD
    1. Start by making the dough. Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water, stir, then leave for a few minutes.
    2. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Slowly add the liquid to the flour and stir with a fork; it will start to get sticky. When you get to this stage, flour your hands and knead the dough until all the ingredients come together.
    3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it for approx. 10 minutes, unitl it starts to become more elastic.
    4. Place back in the bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size - this will take approx. 45 minutes.
    5. Add the pasata and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes over a low heat. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Put to one side to cool.
    6. When ready to assemble your pizza, preheat your oven to 240C/475F/gas mark 9.
    7. Roll the dough out into a circle, until it's around 12 inches in diameter. Then spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce over the top and cover with an even layer of spinach.
    8. Scatter over the makerel and salmon, and then the mozzarella, making sure all the toppings are evenly distributed.
    9. Transfer to the hot oven tray or stone and cook on the top shelf of the oven. Once the mozzarella has melted, and the crust turned golden and crisp, it's ready!
    10. Scatter over the chopped parsley, and serve with the lemon wedge.

    - Crumbs Magazine -

  • Marvellous malbec & Argentinian abundance

    Argentinian wine is on the crest of a wave right now, picking up ever-increasing momentum, with wine drinkers seduced by the rich, brooding charms of its flagship grape, Malbec. Four years ago, Argentina was languishing outside the top 20 wine countries selling into the UK; now it’s on course to crack the top ten barrier, with over 2 million cases of Malbec now sold a year on our shores.

    Argentina also happens to be spectacular, with charisma, beauty and passion oozing through its DNA, from its people to its landscapes. Flying into Mendoza, the country’s wine capital, from Chile, the majesty and imperious glory of the Andes, the longest mountain range in the world, are truly breathtaking. The colossal Aconcagua mountain, which shelters some of the country’s most prized vineyards, in its foothills, is the highest in the western hemisphere, only 6200ft shy of Everest’s peak.

    Mendoza is a vibrant city, full of tree-lined boulevards, and pavement cafes; the surrounding area is home to many of the country’s best wineries. The vineyards themselves sprawl for miles, weaving higher and higher into the foothills of the towering Andes. Sitting outside, on the terrace of a winery, with an empanada and a glass of wine in hand, with the sizzling sounds and aromatic scents of an ‘asado’, on the barbecue, whilst gazing out at the snow-capped peaks, is an experience not to be forgotten.

    And thus it was with Trapiche, one of Argentina’s largest vineyard owners and producers, whom I have been fortunate to visit several times.  Founded in 1883, the winery is housed in an elegant, Florentine-style building, built in 1912. Trapiche was one of the pioneers in the early days of high quality wine production; with over 1000 hectares of vineyards, the winery has impressive scale, but with a total focus on quality, regardless of the price level.

    Malbec is of course the star of the show, and probably the only Argentinian wine that many UK wine drinkers know. It’s highly successful – but the danger is that many people view it as a one trick pony – one style, big, rich, hefty. Yet, there are many nuances and variations in Malbec, as in any grape, depending on how and where it is grown and made.

    Let’s start with Trapiche Melodias Malbec 2015 (was £7.95, now £6.95) – bright, juicy and soft, this is Malbec on it’s lighter, but equally delicious scale. Bursting with perfumed, succulent cherry and ripe plum fruit aromas, it’s a delightful mid-weight red, full of moreish, smooth, berry fruit, with a hint of herbs, but most importantly a bright, lively style; and at 13% alcohol it’s a lot fresher than many of the Malbec blockbusters. This would be great with charcuterie, midweek pasta and cottage pie.

     

    Moving up a gear in intensity and depth is Don David El Esteco Malbec 2014 (was £11.50, now £9.95) from the pioneering El Esteco winery, which has been pushing the boundaries in terms of grape and wine production, exploring high altitude vineyards in the north west frontiers of Argentina, namely the Calchaqui valley, a land of desert scrubland and ravines, which home some of the highest vineyards in the country. Rich and voluptuous, this dark and brooding delight brims with exotic richness, and dense, ripe black fruit, overlaid with layers of spice. Look no further for your perfect steak or roast beef red.

    But there’s more to Argentinian wine than Malbec; two lesser known wines worth discovering  are made from the country’s most prolific red and white grape varieties.

     

    First up, Bonarda, a grape variety which plays second fiddle to Malbec’s leading violin, but is the country’s most prolific grape and one of my favourites in this instance, Trapiche Estacion 1883 Bonarda 2014 (was £11.95, now £10.50). Less macho, more seductively feminine is an inference that comes to mind; scented with violets and super-ripe forest fruits, this is sumptuous, and soft as velvet with a gently spiced and bitter chocolate edge. Great all rounder for chillier days, perfect with rich stews and spicy chilli.

     

    Argentina is less well-known for its whites, yet they can also shine. The country’s leading white grape is Torrontes, with its  spicy, aromatic, honeysuckle and lychee-drenched characteristics, still relatively undiscovered over here. As with all grape varieties, there is a multitude of styles – I was impressed with the fresh, zesty lime peel and citrus tang of Don David El Esteco Torrontes 2016 (was £11.50, now £9.95), with its vibrant, mouthwatering fruit and lively freshness. As we tiptoe towards the balmier days of Spring, this is a perfect mid-season white, equally at home with spicy thai prawn curries and simple tapas and salads.

    If you can find a reason to visit Argentina do – you’ll fall in love with the place, the people.. and the wines.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Magazine

  • Our wines in the press

    A Grape Match...

     

    Ixsir Altitudes White 2015 | £16.95

    "Look no further than Lebanon itself for the perfect match. This wine is zesty fresh with a blend of Sauvignon and Semillon, with hints of exotic fruit and spice from a dollop of Viognier and Muscat. It picks up the citrus liveliness of the soup but is rich enough to cope with the chunky lentils and rice."

    - Angela Mount, Crumbs Magazine -

     

    Adas Bhamod | Spinach Soup

    (Serves 5-6)

    INGREDIENTS

    4 large garlic cloves
    6 tbsp sunflower oil
    30g fresh coriander, washed
    150g green lentils
    100g white long-grain rice
    1 large potato (about 150g), peeled and diced
    450g-500g baby spinach
    3 lemons, juice only

     

     

    METHOD

    1. In a wide and deep frying pan, add the garlic and 3-4 tbsp sunflower oil. Gently fry until the garlic starts to become a light golden colour.
    2. Roughly chop the coriander and add to the pan. Keep turning for 5 minutes until it's wilted. Set the mix aside.
    3. In a sieve, rinse the lentils, and cook in 1 ltr water for 10 minutes, until soft. Rinse the rice with warm water.
    4. When lentils are almost cooked, add the rice, potato and 2 ltrs water, and heat for about 10 minutes, until the potato and rice are cooked.
    5. Add the spinach, coriander mix, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the spinach wilts.
    6. Add 2 tbsp oil to the pan and turn the heat off after a few minutes, adding water, if needed, for consistency.
    7. Serve with bread and olives.

    - Crumbs Magazine -

  • In the Press - FRAM

    Wines In The Press

    Newcomers FRAM have been featured in a great piece from Evening Standard wine columnist Nuria Stylianou on how to get into South Africa's sizzling wine selection.:

    "South African wines are sizzling at the moment. Key grape types continue to be Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Cinsault and Pinotage (an often tricky cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault) for reds and Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for dry still whites.

    But in the past few years, their reputation has shifted from producers of full-bodied, over-ripe, boozy reds and often heavy-handed whites to versatile, refined and elegant styles, suiting a variety of foods and ranging in alcohol from 11 to 14 per cent ABV. 

    Over 90 per cent of the country’s wine comes from the Western Cape. Here, the Mediterranean climate, with its hot summers and winter rainfall, has ideal conditions for vine growing. The cooling influence of the Atlantic keeps the grapes from drying out in the afternoon heat, as well as the diurnal range between day and night differing from as much as 10 to 15 degrees, allowing the grapes to preserve their freshness and ideal sugar levels. Not forgetting the stunning mountain ranges offering a host of different altitudes and aspects, as well as the vast range of soil types, such as limestone, shale and granite, winemakers seem spoilt for choice when picking the right land. So why are their wines thriving now and what changes are taking place? 

    Fram PinotageOne such innovator, Thinus Krüger from FRAM (previously winemaker for Boschendal and Fleur du Cap before embarking on his own venture) sums it up: “Looking back at 15 years of producing wines, the biggest change for me is that for many years we tried to make great Cabs like Bordeaux or Napa, Shiraz like the Barossa Valley or the Rhône, but now we just make our own wines, true to the soil and the climate and our own preferences. Confident of our unique signature”

    Featured wine: FRAM Pinotage £25.00 

  • Alan's Wine of the Week

    Columbia Valley Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle 2013

    Columbia Valley Riesling, Chateau Ste Michelle 2013

    Ste Michelle’s Columbia Valley Riesling is a blend of 100% Riesling from throughout Washington’s Columbia Valley. The winemaker’s goal is to craft a refreshing, flavoursome, medium-dry Riesling vintage after vintage, and this is no exception. The wine offers crisp apple flavours with subtle mineral notes; an “everyday Riesling” that is an absolute pleasure to drink on its own or with a wide variety of foods.

     ** Award winner **

    One of the most popular rieslings in North America also is one of the best. This lean, radiant and refined wine is loaded with aromas and flavors of lime, quince, green apple and tangerine, all backed by scintillating acidity.

    The Seattle Times

    90 points. Best Buy.

    The Wine Enthusiast

    Attractive and layered, with soft buttered apple and peach fruit notes. Consultant Anne Krebielh MW said: 'The residual sugar is very well judged, it's textured with great backbone. Lovely lime acidity, it finishes dry. Good value.

    Sommelier Wine Awards 2015 - GOLD

    £9.95  £8.76

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

    Prices valid until 29.09.15

  • Stag's Leap on Sunday Brunch

     SLV Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 2011

    Sunday 5th July: To celebrate American Independence day, Karina Elias, beverage director at Grosvenor House Hotel picks 3 bottles to change your perception of American wines.

  • Hot off the press...

    Wines In The Press

    Chateau Ste Marguerite Symphonie Cru Classé 2014

    The best Provence rosé wines: "Super-pale – far more so than the standard cuvée of Ste Marguerite. Delicate but also persistent. Brilliant. Made from old-vine grenache and cinsault that dates back to 1936."

    Victoria Moore

    The Telegraph

  • Wines In The Press

    Wines In The Press

    The independent on Sunday praises Crossroads:

    The Independent on Sunday’s Terry Kirby selected his wine of the week for Sunday lunch, Crossroads Winemakers Selection Cabernet Franc 2012. The wine is currently on offer as part of our New Zealand Promotion, so get it while you can...

    “A superlative offering from a small, carefully managed concern in New Zealand's Hawke's Bay, using grapes grown on the fabled, ancient Gimblett Gravels riverbed. Fresh, blackberry fruits, a touch of mint and some spice: satisfying and elegant. Goes well with all lighter roast meats.”

    Parker Points for Prosecco....Ruggeri style:

    Robert Parker has given top scores to Ruggeri for two Proseccos from the current 2013 vintage - a sure sign that high quality Proseccos are starting to be appreciated for their unique style and finesse:

    “The excellent 2013 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Giustino B. Extra Dry is dedicated to Giustino Bisol, the man who founded Ruggeri in 1950. Fruit is sourced from some of the highest altitude vineyards in the appellation and consequently shows an extra degree of crispness and bright sharpness. The aromas are clean and fragrant with white flower and sweet citrus in center stage. I have experimented [with] the aging capacity of Giustino B. and have found that the wine does remain intact for three years or more. As it ages, it gains more aromas of candied orange and butterscotch.”

    92 points.  Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

    “The 2013 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Vecchie Viti Brut is made from the oldest vines (some more than a century old) found in the Valdobbiadene territory. This is a fantastic expression that boasts an outstandingly high level of brightness and definition. Drying mineral notes create contours for mildly fragrant layers of peach and blanched almond. The wine should hold for a few more years although it is best consumed in the immediate term.”

    91 points. Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate

    By Chris Penwarden

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