Monthly Archives: December 2014

  • Top 10 Wines of 2014

    Ok pop-pickers, here’s the countdown to 2015, featuring a round-up of our top 10 wines of 2014.



  • Explosive Flavours for New Year’s Eve

    Fizz, Bang Pop!


    Want your party will go with a bang this year? Then try this wintery fizz to ease your guests in from the cold...

    Mulled Wine Bellini

    mulled wine syrup

    We discovered this cocktail on a fact finding mission to The Gilbert Scott, Marcus Wareing’s restaurant dedicated to Great British-ness, situated in the palatial Renaissance Hotel, St Pancras.

    Marcus makes a reduction of mulled wine which he cools, and then adds to a Champagne flute; finally he tops up the glass with a chilled sparkling wine.

    Here’s how you can make your own:

    First - make a batch of your favourite mulled wine recipe.

    When it’s ready, carry on simmering your creation to reduce by half

    To serve – pour 25ml of your chilled reduction into a flute and top with bubbles.

    Champagne is a luxurious choice for the effervescence, but if catering for a large New Year party, why not try this with your favourite Prosecco or Cava?

    Pow!  A punch with a twist...


    Make your New Year’s Eve party a hit this year with a retro punch with a twist. Dust off the punch bowl, and get ready for a Winter Sangria Punch that celebrates all those festive flavours of cranberry, clementine, apple and spice, melded with red wine and soda.

    Take 2 bottles of red wine and add 250ml each of brandy, orange juice and cranberry juice. Add orange liqueur to taste and 125ml of sugar syrup. To this mix add sliced clementines, apple and pear, along with cranberries, pomegranate seeds and a stick of cinnamon. Leave the flavours to marry overnight if possible.

    To serve - add soda or lemonade to taste - making sure you reduce the amount of sugar syrup if using lemonade.

    “Hola” Winter Sangria Punch!



    A real trend this winter is outdoor eating – why not fire up the barbeque for some smoky flavours of sizzling beef, ribs and hotdogs? For the less adventurous - or cold weather adverse - get the barbeque ribs in the oven, and serve with some smoky reds or whites.

    Morgenster, Lourens River Valley Morgenster, Lourens River Valley 2003

    South African reds are renowned for their inviting smoky wafts - try this mature Bordeaux-blend of grapes from top producer, Morgenster.

    Now over 10 years old, this 2003 provides a rare opportunity to sample an aged South African red made up of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. This is a complex wine that has developed hints of leather, cedar and cigar box that overlay the dense raspberry and blackberry fruit core.

    Etna Bianco DOCG, PlanetaEtna Bianco DOCG, Planeta 2013

    Or you could try this volcanic white, made by Sicily’s Planeta: The grapes for Etna Bianco 2013 are sourced from vineyards on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, with their mineral-rich soils derived from weathered lava. Volcanic wines are known for their crisp, mineral notes, giving fresh layers of complexity and refinement to the palate. To this, the local Carricante grape adds fragrances of white peach, yellow plum and herbs, as well as some softness from a short spell in warming oak.

    Happy New Year from the Great Western Wine team!

  • Three ways to say "Christmas" in Italian

    We’ll soon have you talking Italian with this selection of Italy’s best sparkling wines, perfect for every occasion over the festive season.

     Ruggeri, Prosecco Brut, Argeo NV

    £12.95  £11.95 (+20% Off 6+ bottles)

    You can’t ignore the rise and rise of Prosecco, but watch out – where there’s high demand, quality can suffer. But not so with Ruggeri; this is authentic Prosecco made by the Bisol family who have been synonymous with the history of the region for centuries. Ruggeri’s long standing relationships with the best growers of the region gives them the pick of the crop, and this accounts for the finely etched lines of their lemon, apricot and jasmine scented sparkler. The elegant palate has citrus, fresh herb, and pear flavours that are complemented by a delicate, frothy mousse.

    Ferrari Maximum Brut NV

    £24  £19.95 (+20% Off 6+ bottles)

    Giulio Ferrari was so inspired by a trip to the Champagne region in 1902 that he decided to make his own version of the world famous fizz in his homeland in the Trentino hills of northern Italy. Ferrari was recently awarded the title “World Champion Italian Sparkling Wine” in the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships and is currently featured on the menus of a Michelin-starred pop up at Harrods. The wine undergoes a longer ageing period than most Champagne so the resulting wines have a softer mouth-feel and intense aromas of brioche, hazelnut and vanilla that marry harmoniously with the peach and baked apple fruit on the palate.

    Cantina Cleto Chiarli, Pruno Nero NV

    £12.95 (+20% Off 6+ bottles)

    Yes, this is a Lambrusco, a real Lambrusco; the wine the locals drank while they exported the rather insipid, flat stuff during the 1980s. Lambrusco is now a boutique wine, crafted by dedicated winemakers who create wines that match perfectly with the robust flavours of the local Modenese cuisine (think Parmesan cheese, Bolognaise, Balsamic). This Lambrusco is an amazingly versatile sparkling red, ideal for matching with the festive feast itself, or for toasting the day paired with a cold meat platter. The gorgeous, purple velvet colour and morello and blackberry flavours will have you reaching for that second bottle to pop.

    To make buying in bulk for your festive parties that bit more appealing, why not take advantage of our case discounts?

    Buy 6+ bottles and receive an extra 20% off.


    Happy Christmas! Or ‘Buon Natale!’, as they say in Italy.

  • Wines to Drink With Strictly Come Dancing


    By Angela Mount

    Polish up the glitterball, throw on the sequins, it’s time for the annual ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Final.

    With the four finalists practicing their moves, undergoing the weekly ‘glam-up’ at the hands of the make up artists and dressers, and trying to keep nerves under control, millions across the nation will be settling down in front of their flat screens to watch the culmination of 12 weeks of sambas, salsas, foxtrots and waltzes.

    And what better way to enjoy a Saturday evening in, than with a glass of wine or two to toast your personal favourite?   So why not pick one that will match your chosen celebrity’s character and style? The team at Great Western Wine and I have come up with some fun ideas for wines which will suit each contestant’s personality.

    Johannishof Riesling, Trocken, Weingut KnipserLet’s start with Frankie Bridge from the Saturdays - hovering near the top of the leader board from week one, Frankie drew attention and sparkled with her elegance and charm.  Impossibly pretty, with her doe eyes, and elfin crop of hair, she has charmed the viewers and audience with her ethereal beauty, and exquisite dancing.  A confident performer, she has dominated the floor in ballroom, with her romantic take on the dances, but stunned everyone with her sizzling Rumba in the semi-final.  Her prettiness and delicate elegance leads me to a glass of the equally stylish Johannishof Knipser Riesling 2012, full of gentle charm, poise, and fragrant freshness; gentle honeysuckle and lemon peel aromas mingle with a delicate citrus and green apple flavor.  Try it with a platter of smoked salmon, or a crunchy Asian style salad.

    Ailala Treixadura Ribeiros Do Avia Onto TV presenter, Caroline Flack – another highly consistent and impressive performer, she was the first to wheedle a ‘10’ from grumpy judge Craig, and has demonstrated versatility and increasing confidence from week to week, whether stunning the audience with her on-point and energetic Charleston, or with her fierce and passionate Argentine Tango. Bright, bold, sassy and fun, she has a spicy edge to her dancing and character.  For Caroline, we’ve picked a fun, fruity and characterful white from Northern Spain, Ailala Treixadura 2013, bold yet elegant, and packed with ripe melon and apricot flavours, with a floral nose and a bone dry finish. Warm and spicy, it’s also lively and fun – try it with mildly spiced fish dishes, or a warming chicken tagine… or a grazing plate of prawn and seafood tapas.

    Carrick, Unravelled Pinot Noir, Central OtagoLooking at the boys, the two finalists have both crept up the inside lane to make it to this stage.  After the shock exit of Eastenders Jake Wood last weekend, who had topped the bill for the male celebrities, Radio presenter and former TOWIE star Mark Wright was stunned to find himself in the final.  From self-acclaimed ‘Marky no moves’ he has slowly moved up the gears to impress the judges.  Very much the underdog, and having faced the dance-off on several occasions, he’s obviously got some serious determination beneath those pretty boy looks.  He’s also revealed an emotional side behind the Essex banter and ready charm, with tears of relief on many occasions throughout the competition.  A wine to suit Mark? I’d go for Carrick Unravelled Pinot Noir 2012 – it’s bright and bold, with good looks and an easy charm – initially bursting with easy appeal, and vibrant yet gentle, with cheeky, cheery, red berry fruit, it has a surprising depth, and elegance of structure. Try this one with crispy duck pancakes, creamy Thai chicken curry, or simply a glass with friends.

    Intimo Tinto Humberto CanaleFinally, Simon Webbe, the other male finalist, who has slowly climbed his way up the Strictly ladder with steely-eyed determination. The singer from Blue, has been in the dance off on 3 occasions, and in the early days, never looked set to threaten the more obvious candidates.  Whilst there was a degree of wooden-ness and nerves in the early weeks, his confidence has grown, and with that a smouldering charm and intensity of performance, with obvious chemistry between him and his dance partner Kristina Rhianoff.  His challenge for the glitter ball reached new levels after seeing off hot favourite Pixie Lott in the quarter finals, and wowing the judges with his sexy samba and stylish foxtrot last week. Which wine to choose? The smooth, rich, Intimo Tinto Humberto Canale 2013, with its intriguing blend of spicy Malbec, bold Cabernet and fruity Merlot – sumptuous, sensuous and silky smooth, with a soft, intriguing appeal.  If you’re planning on a rib eye or sirloin this Saturday, then this is the one for you.

    Champagne Taittinger Nocturne SecFinally, how to celebrate the winner.  There’s only one wine to match that dazzling, sparkly glitterball trophy, and that’s the equally bedazzled Taittinger Champagne Nocturne Sec, in its glorious purple disco-ball packaging. Enjoy.

  • Wine & Cheese Matching at Christmas

    Say some surprising wine matches

    It’s the time of year for Port and cheese, but although this classic mix can be wonderful, it is not the case for all the cheeses on your festive table.

    Luckily, there’s no need to buy a heap of different wines for each cheese on your board – all the wines here can be ‘recycled’ from other parts of the meal – so, you can quite easily stock up on a case of your favourite wine and choose your cheeses  accordingly.


    J. Lohr 'Wildflower' Valdiguie

    Brie is one of France’s most popular cheeses and their Brie de Meaux is a national favourite with the local sparkling wine, Champagne.  In the UK we tend to eat Brie a little younger and less runny than the French, so a great pair for this style is either a fruity New World Pinot Noir or even a light, Beaujolais-style red.

    J. Lohr’s 'Wildflower' Valdiguie 2013 from California is full of cherry, raspberry and banana – made in the same way as Beaujolais to maximise the forest fruit aromas. It is a fantastic match with the creamy texture of Brie, but also excellent served as an aperitif wine for red drinkers, together with a platter of charcuterie, or with a main course of turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings.

    Goats cheese

    Château Favray, Pouilly FuméFrance’s most famous French goat’s cheese is made in the Loire Valley - the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc. The acidity in a good goat’s cheese makes it perfect with the local wines like Château Favray’s Pouilly Fumé 2013. Pouilly Fumé is Sancerre’s better value, and often more consistent, neighbour, with all the wonderful smoky minerality you’d expect from Sauvignon Blanc grown on the area’s flinty soils. But if you like your goat’s cheese with a drizzle of honey as they do in Italy, pick a sweeter wine, like those directly below.

    Stilton / Blue cheeses

    Clos Dady, SauternesThe classic British cheese combo is Port and Stilton, but the French prefer the sweet, honeyed, richness and refreshing bite of Sauternes with their salty blue cheeses. Clos Dady’s Sauternes 2011 comes in a half bottle size, meaning you can have a taste of luxury without the expense of opening a full one: but saying that, a full size bottle will see you through both the cheese and pudding courses!

    Mature cheddar

    The Lucky Lizard Chardonnay, Hillbillies, d'ArenbergThe English love their Cheddar, even if most of it comes from Canada these days. If you buy the real thing this year – like a Montgomery Cheddar from Yeovil – you’ll need something special to complement the nutty flavours of this fine quality cheese. The 2012 Lucky Lizard Chardonnay from d'Arenberg has vibrant nectarine and white peach on the nose with nutty, citrus-mineral undertones. The wine’s crunchy apple acidity and wafts of smoky oak are a must with this robust cheese. What’s more, the wine is great with the turkey feast, so no need to wash out your wine glass after the main meal.

  • Alan’s Wine of the Week: Delagrange Bourgogne Pinot Noir

    Hautes-Cotes de Beaune Rouge, Domaine Henri Delagrange 2013

    The perfect Christmas day red, stylish classic Burgundy that’s perfect for the bird.

    Ruby with purple rim with youthful aromas of morello cherry, raspberry, crushed strawberry and violet. Invigorating freshness and round, silky tannins.

    £15.95  £14.95 (+10% off when you buy 12+ bottles)
  • Wines for Christmas Day

    Making sure you're prepared for the whole gang this Christmas

    By Angela Mount

    The Big Day is rapidly approaching, and, in the seasonal rush to complete the endless shopping list for food and presents, choosing the wines for the holiday period, often ends up as a last minute rush.  However, it needn’t be. You also don’t need different wines for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. If you pick carefully, you can glide through the festive season with some delicious wines that will fit the bill for each of these occasions.  Here are my top choices and a few tips…


    Prosecco Stelle d'Italia BrutThere’s no better way to start Christmas Day , than with a glass of Bucks Fizz – but why waste good Champagne, by diluting the flavours with orange juice, when Prosecco will do just the job.  At a fraction of the price, it keeps the alcohol levels low at the start of a long and busy day.   For classic Bucks Fizz, I’d opt for the very reasonably-priced Le Stelle d’Italia, a fresh, lively, crisp Prosecco, which is clean and bright.

    Torelló Brut Reserva Cava Special Edition


    To impress guests for a festive Christmas Eve, or Boxing Day party, without breaking the bank, why not try a top quality Cava, whose label is a conversation starter and party ice-breaker all on its own…with its funky, retro packaging and rich, creamy flavours, Cava Torello Brut Reserva is an altogether warmer, riper style of fizz.

    Champagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier Cru


    However, to celebrate in style on Christmas Day, look no further than the stylishly elegant Gobillard Brut Grande Reserve Premier Cru Champagne NV, a smooth, ripe, yet delicate style, produced by a small family grower – knocks spots off many of the bigger brands.



    My top tip for white is to keep it relatively fresh and lively. Christmas Day isn’t the one to bring out your carefully cherished treasures, especially if you have a large gathering. These special bottles deserve to be the stars of the show in their own right, but on Christmas Day, the wine is the supporting act to the richness and indulgence of the feast, so let them slumber a little longer!

    I tend to avoid overoaked whites, and pick a crisp, minerally Chablis, a zesty Sauvignon Blanc, or an aromatic Riesling.  Both of the latter are great matches for smoked salmon or seafood starters.

    Strandveld First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc

    Strandveld First Sighting Sauvignon Blanc 2013, from the most southern tip of South Africa is a terrific, vibrantly tangy white, equally perfect as a mouthwatering aperitif or as a superb reviver for jaded palates on Boxing Day.


    Howard Park Great Southern Riesling


    The lime-fresh, aromatic, scented yet bone dry Howard Park Great Southern Riesling 2013 is a great choice as a white for the rich flavour of turkey or goose with all the trimmings.  It’s also a cracking match for a Boxing Day turkey curry.



    The first rule with reds is to avoid stringy, over tannic reds. Christmas Day is one of indulgence and festive rich food – the red wines need to be soft, ripe and fruit-packed. Turkey and goose are both very wine-friendly birds, but it’s the medley of flavours in all the trimmings that poses the challenge, especially if you’re using dried fruit in the stuffing.

    Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein Langhorne CreekBring out soft, silky reds, that can cope with this barrage of tastes – Pinot Noir is always a firm favourite on Christmas Day, but to ring the changes a little, a great red would be Heartland Dolcetto Lagrein 2012, a rich, yet velvety soft, gently spiced red made from two Italian grape varieties in Southern Australia by Ben Glaetzer, one of the country’s finest winemakers. This is also a great red for a warming glass of cheer on Christmas Eve, and a delight with Boxing Day roast gammon.

    La Chapelle d'Escurac Medoc


    For traditionalists, La Chapelle d’Escurac, Medoc 2011, ticks all the boxes, with its glorious, textured style – sink into its classic, yet beautifully soft, blackcurrant and allspice character. Smart, elegant, classic.



    Quinta Do Crasto, Late Bottled Vintage PortAnd so to the finale… Christmas pudding, mince pies, Yule log, or maybe cheese.  For stalwarts, the celebratory pud follows straight on from the festive bird, but in other households there may be a more leisurely slice of cake or platter of cheese later in the evening. For sweet things, you need sweet wine, that’s the only rule. Port is a classic, and a glass of the duskily rich Crasto Late Bottled Vintage Port 2008 is just the ticket with a slab of sweet, yet salty Stilton, or an indulgent dark chocolate truffle.

    I’m personally a great fan of a lighter, refreshing style of sweet wine, to revitalize the palate and cut through the dense richness of mincemeat, plum pudding and chocolate, so I’ll opt for a deliciously sweet, yet grapily fresh sparkler, such as Fontanafredda’s Moscato D’Asti Moncucco – bright, lively, and providing a burst of freshness to jaded palates.

    Peller Icewine VidalHowever, for wrapping presents in front of the fire on Christmas Eve, or for an indulgent and relaxing treat, when the cooking is done and the guests have gone, a mince pie and a glass of sumptuously rich, honeyed, yet fragrantly fresh Peller Vidal Ice Wine, would be my tipple of choice- worthy winner of a coveted Decanter gold medal, and simply sublime.

  • Tom's Tasting Suggestions

    Tom's Tasting SuggestionsThe latest update of Tom's Tasting Suggestions - All available to try in the Great Western Wine shop in Bath this week.

    Pop your head in and try out some of our delicious wines whilst you look around at the selection available.


    2002 Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot Blanc, Domaine Bernard Moreau

    £39.50          per 75cl bottle

    £1.30            per 25ml sample

    2000 Batard Montrachet Grand Cru, Domaine Philippe Brenot

    £69.50          per 75cl bottle

    £2.30            per 25ml sample


    2011 Châteauneuf du Pape Chaupin, Domaine de la Janasse

    £34.95          per 75cl bottle

    £1.10            per 25ml sample

    1999 Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St Jacques, Harmand Geoffroy

    £59.50          per 75cl bottle

    £1.90            per 25ml sample

    2007 Château l'Eglise Clinet, Pomerol

    £99.50          per 75cl bottle

    £3.30            per 25ml sample

    2005 Château du Cèdre Le Cèdre, Cahors

    £29.50          per 75cl bottle

    £0.90            per 25ml sample

    2005 Amarone Classico DOC, Bertani

    £75.00          per 75cl bottle

    £2.50            per 25ml sample


    2001 Riesling Frédéric Emile Sélection de Grains Nobles, Trimbach

    £59.50          per 37.5cl bottle

    £2.90            per 25ml sample

  • Three must-try festive bubbles

    Fancy a change from the big brands dominating the Christmas shelves? Then try these traditionally made wines, brought to you by the little guys....

    All three of these wines are made by the Champagne method, but have an artisan touch that sets them apart from the crowd.

    Champagne J-M Gobillard, Brut Grande Réserve Premier Cru NV

    Known as a ‘Grower Champagne’, this is the work of one of the region’s first grape-growing families to blend and sell their own Champagne, rather than selling the grapes to the big boys.  85 years later, the family are still doing what they do best – crafting sparkling wines of character from their top Premier Cru vineyard plots. The wine has a scrumptious nose of baked Bramley apples, spiced with a hint of star anise, and a crisp, refreshing palate full of greengage and honeyed, crumbed biscuits. 

    Ridgeview, Grosvenor Cuvée Merret (Blanc de Blancs) 2010

    This English sparkling wine is named after the British scientist Christopher Merret who, in 1662, wrote about an ingenious method that could make wine sparkling. His presentation to the Royal Society in London came 30 years before the technique was documented in Champagne region! Nowadays, Ridgeview’s multi award winning Blanc de Blancs is renowned for being the equal of Champagne’s top wines, with its deliciously fine bubbles accenting the flavours of lime, brioche and white peach. Treat yourself with the best of Blighty this Christmas.

    Torelló Brut Reserva Cava Special Edition, NV

    They say beauty is only skin deep, but this exquisitely dressed Cava has as much style, taste and refinement on the inside, as out. Made like a Champagne, this wine will remind you why good quality Cava once ruled the waves, pre-Prosecco. The soft, apple scented palate is balanced by a mouth-watering bite and subtle hints of almonds and vanilla - perfect for any party, from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day.

  • Alan's Wine of the Week: Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon

    Howard Park Miamup Cabernet Sauvignon

    This Cabernet comes from vines grown on TWO BILLION YEAR-OLD soils, among the oldest in the world.

    From the fabulous 2011 vintage, this has classic Cabernet aromas of wild cherry, cedar wood and charred peppers. Pure and well-defined flavours; nicely rounded texture and lovely ripe fruit on the finish.  Great with Beef Wellington, venison, lamb, chestnuts or mushrooms.

    £15.95   £15.50 until end December

    £13.95 per bottle after case discount if you buy 12

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