The Grapevine

  • 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.

  • Wine and Cheese

    A match made in heaven?

    Everyone loves wine and cheese don’t they? Does anyone really care about which wine with which cheese?  Think again – how many of you have had a glass of good red spoilt by the impact of drinking it with a smelly, well matured soft, or blue cheese?  I reckon a few of you. Cheese and wine can be a heavenly match, but only if you follow a few simple guidelines.

    Taste, smells and flavours are all about balance; it’s no different with wine. Over or under-season a dish, and it’s a pale reflection of the triumph that it could have been.  Sip a glass of delicious, crisp white wine, then have a bite of chocolate and go back to the wine – I can guarantee that it will now taste sour and acid; go on, try it to prove my point!

    With cheese, just like wine, there is a plethora of styles, but all with radically different flavours, from salty, tangy goats cheese, through nutty, creamy cheddar, to sweet yet salty blue.  On the basis of all of the above, it’s logical that you need different wines to suit different cheeses, without becoming too obsessive about the whole process.  I’ve always hated red wine with soft cheeses such as brie, as they give the wine a metallic taste – far better with a soft, creamy Chardonnay. But tradition has always put red wine with cheese. Throw tradition out of the window.

    I put this theory to the test in a recent wine and cheese pairing exercise. Bath wine merchant Great Western Wine have teamed up with local cheese supplier Pong Cheese to bring together this classic partnership, to the extent that, from next week, there will be a bespoke cheese fridge in their shop with a range of 8 cheeses supplied exclusively for them - weekend wine and cheese shopping sorted.

    My job was to match the cheese to the wine –tough job, I know. Here are my favourite matches, following a few simple rules:

    Goats Cheese

    Bosworth Leaf Goats cheese – the textbook match for goats cheese is Sauvignon blanc, both of which originated in the Loire valley and are natural partners. New Zealand Sauvignon blanc can be too aggressive, so I picked a vibrant, zesty, wild herb-dusted one from the south of Chile, Las Cenizas Laberinto Sauvignon blanc 2015 (£15.50), which picks up the tangy, salty, mouthwatering flavours in the cheese.

    Creamy brie-style – Perl Wen, an unctuous, gooey delight from Wales, worked magically well with Mas Sardana Cava Brut Nature NV (£13.50), bringing out the creamy, nutty character in both. Fizz and cheese? Why not. Another option would be classic Chablis.

    Washed rind cheeses - Lincolnshire Poacher – this is a nutty, fragrant, relatively mild cheese, not dissimilar to Comte – I loved this with the fresh, vibrant style of Souson Ailala 2015 (£13.95), a deliciously fresh, juicy red from Galicia in north west Spain, with no oak, just a riot of red fruit flavours – spot on.

    Cheddar

    Westcombe cheddar – avoid big, tannic reds with hard cheeses, and let softer, spicier reds coax out the very best of the flavours in both, in this case Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone 2015 (£12.50), a rich, silky red, full of blackberry fruit and oozing charm.

    Matching Pong Pecorino Toscana was a delectable discovery – for traditionalists, go with a classic, but lighter style, Tuscan red, such as Morellino di Scansano 2014 (£14.95); but, with the cheese’s granular texture, and powerful, salty, sweet character, we had a eureka moment and tried it with the dry, but delicately aromatic Patricius, Tokaji Dry Furmint 2015 (£12.75) — a flawless alliance.

    Blue Cheese

    Port is always a safe bet, but my tip would be to go for a honeyed dessert wine – sweet, complimentary, but lighter in style.  Sauternes is great, but it was the seductive Italian sweet range which took top billing.

    First up Perl Las Blue, a mild, creamy welsh blue which snuggled up cosily to the honeyed, dried apricot-stashed, Anselmi I Capitelli 2015 (37.5cl £18.50) from northern Italy, whilst the powerful, yet meltingly tender, sweet, creamy Mountain Gorgonzola, formed a blissful marriage with its Italian compatriot Fattoria dei Barbi Vin Santo 2009 (37.5cl £17.95), the most classic of all Italian dessert wines.

    And finally, onto Cropwell Bishop stilton - melt-in-the-mouth, and remarkably delicate with a tangy bite – another blue cheese charmed by the irresistible attraction of a luscious Italian, this time a sweet red, Bertani Recioto Valpolicella 2012 (50cl £23), a mellifluous nectar, of dried raisins, cherries, dark chocolate, candied lemons and spice, at a temperate 13% alcohol, which coaxed out every inch of character from this Nottinghamshire delight whilst parading its own glories simultaneously.

    Wine and cheese matching – join the adventure.

    By Angela Mount

  • Stylus Vinyl

    April: What's in the box...

    Our friends at Stylus Vinyl, who send out monthly subscription boxes of classic albums on vinyl paired with a great bottle of wine chosen by us, have nailed it once again.

    April sees Stylus’ first live album and champions everything that is great about the rawness of live music. Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison is the perfect example of that rawness. Cash brought the joy of music to the downtrodden, the unwanted of society and turned it into a number one hit.

    To pair with Cash’s slow and deeply melodic voice we have the Trapiche Estacion Bonarda | £11.95. Crushed blueberries and violets take the lead whilst soft vanilla spice, bitter chocolate and sweet liquorice dance in the background. There is depth, complexity and structure to this wine, with soft, supporting tannins, which provide a bold yet velvety structure.

    Both wine and voice have a crooning quality to them, an effortless rhythm that lingers with you long after they are finished. There is a seductive, calming tone to both music and wine, despite the key messages in both.

  • The Team's Tasting Selections

    The latest flight of 8 wines has been launched today – and what's more its now completetly FREE! Come on by the Great Western Wine shop in Bath to sample our American Aces - all available to purchase in our Up to 25% off wines of USA promo >

    Col Solare, Col Solare 2012

    Producer: Chateau Ste Michelle, USA

    was £60.00 | now £50.00

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

    Producer: Chateau Ste Michelle, USA

    was £19.50 | now £17.50

    Sample price: FREE

    Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

    Producer: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, USA

    was £42.50 | now £37.50

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Omero Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge 2012

    Producer: Omero, USA

    was £34.50 | now £29.95

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Canoe Ridge Chardonnay 2014

    Producer: Chateau Ste Michelle, USA

    was £22.00 | now £19.50

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Karia Chardonnay 2015

    Producer: Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, USA

    was £32.50 | now £27.00

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Eroica Riesling 2014

    Producer: Chateau Ste Michelle, USA

    was £23.50 | now £19.95

    Sample price: FREE

     

    Man O' War Ironclad 2010

    Producer: Man O' War, NZ

    was £29.50 | now £24.50

    Sample price: FREE

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