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The Grapevine

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    Come on by the Great Western Wine shop in Bath to taste our latest selection of Trimbach wine samples and more, in-store for free... Happy tasting!


    Trimbach, Pinot Blanc 2015

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Riesling 2014

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Gewürztraminer 2014

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Gewürztraminer Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre 2011

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

    Trimbach, Pinot Noir Réserve Cuve 7 2012

    Producer: Trimbach, France

     

     

    Ramón Bilbao, Lalomba, Rosado, Rioja 2016

    Producer: Ramón Bilbao, Spain

     

    Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir Mornington Peninsula 2016

    Producer: Kooyong, Australia

     

     

  • SUMMER SIPPING

    Inspired by the Bath Boules, Angela Mount recommends celebratory wines which are best enjoyed outdoors in the sunshine

     

    There’s something special about June in Bath, as we kick into Summer, with a more laid-back, languid vibe, “alfresco” being the mot du jour. There’s also lots going on, not least the legendary Bath Boules weekend (9th-11th June), held in the historic Queen Square, with a fiercely contested competition between over 60 teams – if you want to see accountants, solicitors, wine merchants et al at their most competitive, get down there!  But it’s also a great big party, with street food, pop ups, music – all in all, a fabulous family day out.

    If you fancy a more sedate afternoon, head for one of Bath’s numerous Alfresco slots (weather permitting) to enjoy the sunshine and an indulgent afternoon tea; and, of course, a glass of wine. But what vinous delights work for daytime sipping?

    Champagne is ‘le best’. Jacquart Champagne, have been proud sponsors of Bath Boules, alongside Great Western Wine for a number of years, so pop along and try a chilled glass of their Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV (£32.50), with its creamy, delicate, fresh flavours.  But if you’re indulging in afternoon tea, I’d suggest you opt for Jacquart Demi-Sec NV (£35). Don’t be put off because it’s off dry – this is actually a far better match with the sweet richness of scones, jam and cake, than a traditional brut Champagne – trust me! It’s all about the balance. With its moreish, creamy richness and ripe peach and apricot flavours, it’s also the perfect fizz for light Summer desserts, as well as scones, cream and strawberries..

    If you’re looking for fizz for an afternoon party, but don’t want to break the bank, look no further than Domaine de Brize Saumur Rose Brut NV (£14.50), an award-winning fizz from the Loire valley, and the epitome of Summer with its dry but exuberant strawberry and raspberry flavours. Fabulous value. Red Summer fizz? Why not? I like to surprise my guests with a glass of the highly moreish Birbet Brachetto 2015 (£11.95), serve it chilled, with a bowl of strawberries – it’s truly summer pudding in a glass, gently sweet, but light, with delicious freshness; even better, it’s only 5% alcohol, so the perfect, if eclectic, afternoon wine. A glass of this, with a bowl of scented local strawberries gets my vote.

    Back to Les Boules, and since the event celebrates le most traditional of French sports, it would be impertinent not to suggest a few summery delights from La belle France.  In sleepy southern village squares, dappled with golden sunlight, the locals can be seen with glasses of Pastis, but I’d suggest a glass of something lighter, especially for the competitors intent on victory, to keep their focus sharp.

    Just as we change wardrobes and adapt to le fashion du moment, our drinking styles change for the Summer also. What I look for in a glass of wine at this time of year is freshness, liveliness and clean, crisp fruit, be it white or red – and yes, I often chill my red wines, it’s brings out the fruit and stops them tasting heavy.  Rosè is a Summer classic, but more of that next month.

    For a vibrant, zingy white, which just begs for a plate of seafood, look no further than Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine de Belle Mare 2016 (£9.95) - Picpoul is on trend right now and provides a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Grigio.  From vineyards close to the Languedoc coast, it’s crisp and zingy, with a lovely lemony freshness, but also a hint of wild herbs; you can almost smell the sea.

    Want to impress your friends, and look knowledgeable with a little known and great value Summer red?  Look no further than Braucol Vigne Lourac, Cotes de Tarn 2014 (£8.95), my go to picnic and bbq red. Braucol is the grape (not many people know that), and is hails from the south-west of France. Juicy, fruity, and on the lighter spectrum of reds, it’s a bouncy delight, crammed to the brim with sweet raspberry and cherry fruit, with a brush of wild herbs.  I love to serve it chilled, it brings out the fruit and the brightness; perfect with charcuterie for alfresco lunches, and also spot on with baby lamb chops and spicy sausages.

    Zut alors. Time to go. Take the family  to Les Boules and support this event fantastique for local charities. It’s a great day out.  I’ll be back next month with my top tips for best Summer Rosè wines. Bonne chance to all the teams.

    By Angela Mount - Bath Life

  • ENGLISH WINE WEEK

    Celebrating Local With Lyme Bay Winery

    By Angela Mount

    There’s nothing like celebrating local, or even national success in the world of wine, and what better time to do this, than in English Wine Week.  There may still be a few wine lovers out there who aren’t entirely convinced of the credentials of English sparkling wine, but please do read on. English Sparkling wines are world class. Fact.

    The growth in reputation and sales of English wines, and English Sparkling wines in particular, over the last 5 years has been nothing short of phenomenal, with demand soaring off the rictus scale.  From Her Majesty showcasing English fizz at state dinners, to Wills and Kate’s wedding celebrations, English wines have come of age, and rightly so.

    Zoom back in time 15 years, and English wines, in their humble, artisanal, and experimental format, wilted apologetically in the wake of their far more famous European counterparts. Today English wines stand proud, and, particularly for sparkling wines, are right up there, on the world stage, winning international awards, and now producing over 5 million bottles per year.

    It’s even better when the wines come from your own neck of the woods, in this case, the West Country. The Axe Valley in Devon, to be specific; the Lyme Bay Winery.  Lyme Bay was originally set up in 1992, as a cider and mead producer.  Today, whilst still producing these traditional drinks, Lyme Bay is creating waves on the wine scene, with its range of still and sparkling wines.  The team have recently been rewarded with a flurry of awards both at the International Wine Challenge, the world’s most meticulously judged wine competition and at the Sommelier wine awards, where its Classic Cuvee won one of only 5 prestigious gold medals handed out to English sparkling wines.  But the downside with English fizz is the limited production, for all sorts of reasons – scale, and of course our intemperent weather, which this year has caused considerable damage to the vines due to late frosts. So when you see these award-winning wines, snap them up quick, quantity is limited.

    I recently tasted through the Lyme Bay range, and the awards they have won are well justified.  The Lyme Bay Classic Cuvee (was £26.50 now £25.00) is a blend of classic Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with an enticing, creamy richness of flavours, yet balanced by a delicate citrus, green apple and greengage freshness.  It’s absolutely spot on with seafood; if you’re Bath-based or relatively local, head over to the Terrace at the Abbey Hotel, where they are featuring this sparkling delight with a seafood extravaganza every Friday evening on their terrace between 6 and 9pm throughout the Summer.  I sauntered down for the launch last week (fizz and seafood? What girl could resist?), and tucked in to a swooningly delicious selection of seafood bites, all served, on  beautifully elegant 3 tiered afternoon tea stands.  Luscious mouthfuls of tender lobster and sweet mango; creamy crab salad on crunchy, baked pitta bread; tangy crayfish in a bloody mary sauce served in crisp baby gem lettuce leaves; an audacious placing of the freshest of sardines balanced on a triple cooked fat chip with chilli and garlic; a palate-tingling tempter of scallop, lime and coriander ceviche; and finally for oyster addicts, such as me, the saline, mouthwatering freshness of oysters with rhubarb and shallot vinaigrette.  It’s my new Friday evening go to. Seafood and fizz heaven.

    Back to the wines.  My favourite from the Lyme Bay range is the Lyme Bay Blanc de Noirs 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), winner of a coveted International Wine Challenge Silver medal. This is serious stuff, super-elegant, lively and poised with an incredible freshness about it, full of bright red berry fruit and citrus, with a green apple tang and true purity of flavour.

    The third sparkling wine is the range is Lyme Bay Sparkling Rose 2014 (was £26.50 now £25.00), a delicately pale, purely Pinot Noir blend, which wafts aromas of rosehips, tangerine peel and cranberries. Taste it, and enjoy its delicacy and brightness; it’s fruity, refreshing, and brimming with summer berry flavours – entrancing in its elegance.

    The other unique thing about Lyme Bay is what great value they provide – I’m used to tasting award-winning English sparkling wines that are in the mid £30s price range; I was amazed to find out that these are on average £10 cheaper, but really deliver on flavour and style.

    But English wine isn’t just about fizz; vineyards in southern England have been producing still wines for years, which are now starting to gain recognition, generally using Germanic grapes, which suit our volatile climate.  Bacchus, Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner may not be grape names that trip off the tongue easily, but are increasingly gaining recognition for producing great wines in the UK. Lyme Bay are keen to pioneer English still wines, alongside the international success of sparkling wine, and start to build a similar reputation.  If the Lyme Bay Shoreline 2015 (was £14.95 now £13.95) is anything to go by, they’re on the right tracks. Another award-winner, it’s a vibrant and mouth-wateringly fresh dry white, with floral and citrus character, with a zesty tang that just cries out for seafood, picnics, or just a chill out afternoon in the sun.

    For a business that only moved into wine in 2008, and produced its first wine in 2014, the achievements are nothing short of spectacular. If you’ve never tried English wine before, this is the time to do it.

  • NEW ZEALAND

    Beyond Marlborough Sauvignon

    Since the first commercial wines were released in the 1980s, New Zealand’s pungent, herbaceous, tangy, tropical-fruited style of sauvignon blanc has proven to be a smash hit, now accounting for three-quarters of NZ wine production and around 85% of wine exports - with the most famous and productive region, Marlborough, leading the charge.

    However, New Zealand is 1000 miles long with a latitude equivalent of Bordeaux to southern Spain, a diverse geography and geology (mountains, coast and volcanic plateaus), and a wide selection of grape varieties - so there’s plenty more here to be discovered.

    Central Otago is located in the south of south island. It’s the world’s most southerly wine region, plus New Zealand's highest altitude and most Continental (no vineyard here is more than 80 miles from the sea). Spectacularly beautiful - adorned with dramatic snow-capped mountains and blue lakes, this is also one of the world’s top spots for Pinot Noir, which thrives here. Relatively warm daytimes with high UV levels bestow the grapes with plenty of ripeness and flavour, which is locked in place by cool night temperatures - producing characterful wines full of vibrant ripe fruit flavours, depth and balancing acidity.

    I like the Mohua Pinot Noir 2014 from Peregrine wines, with lovely floral and fruity aromas and a juicy, quite rich, yet smooth palate where cherry and black fruit flavours combine with a savoury edge and a touch of spice - just the ticket for early summer drinking.

    'Central' also produces world-class chardonnay, and Carrick Chardonnay 2015 is a splendid example. Complex, elegant and fine. Deliciously ripe tropical fruit flavours and a lemon-like acidity are complemented by creamy, nutty notes and a lick of spice from fermentation and ageing in French oak. Classy and very much worth the money, it'll keep and develop in bottle over a couple of years, too.

    Around the art-deco Mecca of Napier in north-island is NZ’s oldest and second largest wine region, Hawke’s Bay. A relatively large and diverse area, but perhaps best known for its age-worthy red blends made with classic Bordeaux grapes. The Crossroads Winemaker’s Selection Cabernet/Merlot 2011 uses top fruit from the acclaimed Gimblett Gravels sub-region. Yes, it’s big and pretty concentrated - but not heavy. Juicy blackcurrants and plums supported by a toasty complexity from French oak barrels. This would be perfect with roast lamb/beef or a juicy steak.

    The superb Man ‘O’ War Dreadnought Syrah 2013 hails from another large and diverse wine region surrounding NZ’s largest city, Auckland. It’s a warm and relatively humid here, but Dreadnought is produced a short boat ride away from the mainland on the winemaking island of Waiheke, where the climate is drier and the warmth is tempered by the cooling effects of the sea. This stellar Rhone-style syrah had me at first sip. Concentrated and rich, yet elegant, fine and balanced with a mineral touch. The seductive smoky and meaty/savoury characters mingle with blueberries, blackberries and black pepper spice. Awesome and age-worthy - if you can keep your hands off it.

    Tristan is hosting a NZ tasting on 14th June at Great Western Wine - tickets £15: Click here to book now >

    - By Tristan Darby - Bath Magazine -

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    It's that time of the week again when the team at Great Western Wine make a selection of delectable fine wines from around the world for you to taste for free.

    Come on by the Bath shop to sample these beauties from our New Zealand promotion >


    Yealands Estate, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2015

    Region: Marlborough

    was £15.95 | now £14.50

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Carrick Chardonnay Central Otago 2015

    Region: Central Otago

    was £16.95 | now £14.95

    Sample price: FREE

    Yealands Estate, Winemaker's Reserve 'Gibbston Valley' Pinot Noir 2014

    Region: Central Otago

    was £18.50 | now £16.00

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Man O' War Gravestone Sauvignon Semillon 2013

    Region: Waiheke Island

    was £19.50 | now £17.50

    Sample price: FREE

    Peregrine Wines, Pinot Gris 2015

    Region: Central Otago

    was £19.50 | now £17.50

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Winemakers Collection Syrah, Crossroads Winery 2014

    Region: Hawke's Bay

    was £19.95 | now £17.95

    Sample price: FREE

    Carrick, Estate Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2013

    Region: Central Otago

    was £27.50 | now £24.50

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Man O' War Dreadnought Syrah 2013

    Region: Waiheke Island

    was £31.50 | now £27.50

    Sample price: FREE

  • Dorothy House Event

    Last Thursday Great Western Wine hosted a Summer Wine Tasting in the stunning Holburne Museum in Bath. Ninety eager tasters were delighted by our summery selection with the highlights being Cleto Chiarli’s Pruno Nero, d’Arenbergs Hermit Crab and Umani Ronchi’s Lacrima di Morro.

    We were joined by Champagne Taittinger, Chase Distillery and Lyme Bay Winery, all showcasing their fantastic wares.  We also raised a whopping £2,400 for Dorothy House Hospice, a very well-known local charity who provide amazing care throughout the Somerset and Wiltshire region.

    Thank you to all those who attended for supporting this much-loved charity.

  • Lyme Bay Launch at The Allium

    Celebrate English Wine Week by supporting the launch of the Allium's drinks terrace, where a selection of fabulous Lyme Bay fizzes are being served alongside an array of delicious seafood prepared by their new chef. We look forward to seeing you there!


  • Spirit of the week

  • 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.


  • Vinitaly

    A flying visit around the World’s largest wine show

    By Edward Mercer

    Just before Easter I was very fortunate to be included in a trip to Italy for the largest wine show in the world. This annual event called ‘Vinitaly’ is held in the not very pretty part of the very pretty little city of Verona. During the show the population of Verona doubles to almost 400,000 as the wine world descends to talk and taste, but unlike most big wine shows this is not an international affair, unbelievably all wines are strictly Italian.

    The 16th century palazzos are nowhere to be seen as the party of ten of us walk through security and into the exhibition park of regionally themed pavilions. These massive spaces hold exhibitions stands for some of Italy’s largest wineries featuring tasting and meeting rooms, display spaces and in many cases roof top balconies and restaurant facilities. Alongside these huge and very flash stands are hundreds of smaller stands with vineyard proprietors proudly showing their wine flights. This should be a lot of fun...

    Day 1 of the show was a blur with visits to some of our key wineries.

    First off was Ruggeri for the best prosecco tasting you could ever hope for. Included in the lineup, and some nice nibbles to kick off, were the Giustino B which was voted the best sparkling wine in Italy last year by Gambero Rosso, and it’s also available in magnums, wow! The Extra Brut was also a highlight for me, a mineral-dry, vibrant prosecco which cries out for seafood.

    Cleto Chiarli was next. More delicious sliced meats and little blini style sandwiches. This was a revisit of some of my favourite wines; Pignoletto, Rosé, Lambrusco and red sparkling Pruno Nero. All going well so far and starting to forget the early flight out.

    An off-the-schedule visit to the Cenatiempo stand. These unusual and delicious wines are from the island of Ischia off the Naples coast. The star for me, and all the group, was undoubtedly the Kalimera Biancolella, fresh, limey and grapey white, really delicious.

    Sartori was next for one of the bit hitters, oh and lunch of fresh pasta and strawberry tart. This significant winery makes huge volume but their best and most famous wines are Regolo and Marani, named after the founder of the company and his wife. These are both excellent. One of my fellow travelers also called Ed commented that he thought the Marani Garganega white was one of the best hidden gems in our wine list, and I tend to agree.

    Nonino Grappa for a post prandial. The first offering was the Nonino Amaro poured liberally over ice in a massive glass, delicious. The 8 year old grappa is also very good, almost like a cross between a fine aged rum and cognac, very surprising. The use of glasses at this stand would leave a bartender fuming, as we must have used 100 glasses between the group and some poor person then had to clean them all. Anyway, onwards…

    The Umani Ronchi stand was enormous and we were ushered upstairs to the private roof tasting thingy. Getting a bit tired now, but this tasting was fantastic with a brand new Pecorino Centovie, the inexpensive San Lorenzo from the Conero hills and the wine of the show, 2003 Rosso Cumaro from double magnum all just singing from the rafters.

    Last visit today to the owners of the largest contiguous vineyards in Barolo, Fontanafredda. This tasting could have been most notable for the sparkling wine made with 1967 barolo dosage (no idea if we will get any but I’ll let you know if we do!), and also the barman who sounded just like Matt Damon. It was actually most notable for the shear quality of the mid-level wines; Gavi di Gavi, Barbera and Moscato were all outstanding, a really impressive tasting line up.

    Done for the day, off to the prettier bit for Aperol Spritz and a look at that Balcony.

    Day 2 at the show

    The first stop on day 2 of Vinitaly was with Sicily's Mandrarossa. After a latish night, the first wines were always going to be a challenge but again it was some of the less expensive wines of the show that were best, in this case Nero d’Avola and single vineyard Urra de Mare sauvignon blanc which showed really well, and as the island’s biggest exporter it was really great to see how good these wines are.

    Last producer to visit at the show was the mighty Planeta also from Sicily. On hand to guide us through was Alessio Planeta, founder and top man. Included in the very extensive tasting were some new crackers under the La Segreta range; Grillo and Nero d’Avola, also the brand new Mamertino from Capo Milazzo in the north east was outstanding, and a new super-premium chardonnay.

    Last conversation of the show was with Allessio Planeta agreeing the trip he will be making to Bath in the Autumn to give a customer dinner – more to follow as soon as we can on that!

    So Vinitaly had been very intense and also a lot of fun, and we were off to Bertani in Valpolicella and then to Ferrari in Trento for visits to these famous and hugely impressive estates (I’ll save this for the next blog). I could have been at Vinitaly for a month, if it was on that long, and probably not tasted half of the wines at the show, but as a wine experience this was very special. I look forward to introducing you to some of these wines in person.

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