Wednesday, May 30, 2018

English Still Wine @ Host Your Own (HYO) Wine Club June 2018

It's English Wine Week, so to celebrate we're recommending three tasty English still white wines for your wine club.

When you try the wines please tell us what you think on Twitter using @HYOwineclub and #HYOwineclub, or on the PrincessAndThePinot Facebook Page - we would love to chat to you about the wines you've tasted based on our recommendations. Most of the wines will be available on the high street, but some come from independent stores or winemakers. You can try the wines in the comfort of your own home at your leisure, or you can come to our pop-up wine bars to try the wines, or we can help you to Host Your Own wine club. The flights of wine served at our pop-up wine bars will feature the wines recommended for HYO Wine Club.

Top Tips
English wine has come a long way from the tart flabby wines that we used to make, to the 120 awards won at the International Wine Challenge 2016. Now even Taittinger, the French Champagne house, has bought some land in Kent to invest in English Sparkling wine. But it’s not just the sparklers that are outstanding, there are some English still wines that are worth a try, and here are three of them. Be aware that “British” wine is different to “English” wine. English wines are made from grapes that are grown here and then the wine is made here, whereas British wines import the juice to make here.

Chapel Down Flint Dry 2016 12%
Chapel Down is a winery in Kent. They don’t reveal grape varieties on the bottle, meaning it will be a blend of several varieties, and the quantities will vary to continue making the same style of wine through varying vintages. This one is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Schönburger among others. Elderflower, mineral and smokiness, not dissimilar to a Pouilly Fume style. This wine gets its texture from extended lees contact (sitting on the dead yeast cells left over from the fermentation). Chapel Down also make amazing vodka and gin using grapes. And brandy. And Curious Brew beer. They run guided tours, with a restaurant on site, and you can also lease a vine for exclusive benefits. £11.99 Waitrose.

LDN Cru Baker Street Bacchus 2016 11.5%
This wine is grown in England and made in London. Vinifed from Bacchus grapes grown in Kent and Essex. Bacchus is England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc because of its aromatics – known to have high sugars and low acidity, but our climate can cultivate a higher acidity in the grapes. Elderflower, stone fruits and cut grass with crisp acidity. Won Silver medal IWC 2017 and £15 Roberson – all LDN Cru currently 25% off. My favourite LDN Cru wine is the Charlotte Street Chardonnay (£20), but although the wine is made in London the grapes come from South of France, but worth a mention here! And soon they will be launching their English Chardonnay which I can't wait to try.

Litmus White Pinot 2015 12%

Litmus makes their wines at Denbies wine estate. Still wines produced in England, producing food orientated Northern European cool climate styles. They use a number of vineyard sites in Essex, Surrey and Sussex. Typically using old barriques and extended lees contact to create flavour complexity. Peach, honeysuckle and smoke. Full bodied, which is unusual in English wines. Grapes are carefully handled throughout the winemaking process. Fermented in oak barriques and remained on lees for 9mths. Possibly the first still white 100% Pinot Noir to be made in England. M&S £22. Another wine to note from Litmus is Element 20 (Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio) available from Waitrose £16.99.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Host Your Own (HYO) Wine Club May 2018

Host Your Own Wine Club!

Totally FREE and UK-focused wine club - we will tell you which wines to try each month and then let us know what you think about the wines on Twitter or Facebook. #HYOwineclub #joinin

If you would like to host your own wine club, please read our TIPS.

The wines we recommend for you to try and join us on social media in May are listed below. If you would like to know which wines we recommended for April (Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon), please click HERE.


Aromatic white wines are pronounced on the nose and are defined by dominant floral aromas, including Riesling, Gewürtztraminer, and Viognier. These wines range in taste, intensity and sweetness, with many styles on the sweeter side. Torrontés and Albariño tend to be bone dry. Good quality aromatic whites tend not to be served super-chilled so that the aromas can develop in the glass further. Aromatic wines are ideal partners to Asian cuisine.

Catena Alamos, Torrontés, Salta, Argentina, 2013, 13.5%
Torrontés is a grape that originates from Argentina. The best Torrontés wines come from the high elevation vineyards in Salta, like this one. It is a full bodied white wine, which gives the freshness of the wine some oomph. Fragrant with perfume of spring flowers, honey and tropical fruits, so smells as though it ought to be sweet, but it isn’t. On the palate it’s dry, crisp and well-balanced.
Available from Wine Rack £9.99

Yalumba, Organic Viognier, South Australia, 2016, 13.5%
The Viognier grape originates in France, in the Condrieu appellation in the Rhône Valley. A full-bodied, dry aromatic unoaked white wine, with lovely peach, tangerine and honeysuckle flavours. You may notice an oily sensation on your tongue, which is common with this grape. It has quite a high alcohol content because the grapes are left on the vine longer to ensure they achieve the heady aromas. Yalumba is a well-known producer of Viognier, at all price levels.
Available from Waitrose £11.99

Dr Loosen Grey Slate, Riesling, Feinherb, Mosel, Germany, 2014, 10.5%              
Many wine journalists state Riesling as their preferred varietal. Riesling from the Mosel is light and refreshing. This wine is fruity with pineapple, peach, green apple and slate flavour characteristics. There is grey slate surrounding the vines, which is important for radiating the heat on to the vines overnight and during the cold misty mornings, but makes it very difficult to harvest. This wine is “feinherb” which means off-dry; look for “trocken” on the label if you prefer a dry German Riesling.
Available from Waitrose £9.99


There are hundreds of grape varieties that come from Italy. Here we showcase three very different styles, from the Nero d’Avola in Sicily, a wine not dissimilar to Malbec, to the classic refined Chianti (no fava beans in sight!), to the bold and fruity Primitivo from Puglia in southern Italy. Italian wines are made for Italian food, and since Italian is a favourite cuisine in the UK we should explore the variety of wine this beautiful country has to offer.

Columba Bianca Vitese, Nero D’Avola, Sicily, Italy, 2016, 14%
Nero d’Avola is a full-bodied wine but with brighter flavour characteristics than you might expect from such a warm region. It’s a more rounded, more consistent, more fun alternative to Pinot Noir or Malbec. Rich flavours of plum and black cherries with a violet aftertaste. It has the same flavour profile as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but without the tannin.
Available from £9.50

Poggio Chianti Classico, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy, 2013, 13%
Chianti Classico is the oldest area in the Chianti region in central Italy. Sangiovese is Italy's most widely planted grape variety and produces wines with pronounced tannins and acidity. Its character can vary from savoury leather to fruity red cherries. This wine is Sangiovese blended with Merlot and Syrah to give great balance and structure. Sophisticated, like a romantic dinner with a linen tablecloth. Pair with pasta in tomato sauce, Tuscan Sausages, or roasted aubergine.
Available from Waitrose £10.79

Terre di Faiano, Primitivo, Puglia, Italy, 2015, 13.5%
Primitivo is the same grape varietal as Zinfandel, but grown in Puglia, the heel of the boot of Italy, which sees a lot of sunshine. This is a full-bodied red wine with an intense deep-ruby colour. Aromas of juicy blackberries, and a silky texture with spicy flavour characteristics of black cherries, vanilla and chocolate.  Comfortable and familiar, like reading a book on your sofa. Great with meatballs, roast lamb or BBQ.

Available from Waitrose £9.49

Prices may have changed, and availability not guaranteed

Monday, April 9, 2018

HYO Wine Club - April 2018

Welcome to HYO Wine Club!

Every month we will recommend wines for you to try, and we would love to hear what you think of them on our Princess and the Pinot Facebook Page or on Twitter @HYOwineclub #HYOwineclub

CLICK HERE to read more about HYO Club

To JOIN OUR CLUB please sign up to receive the monthly Princess and the Pinot newsletter

For the first month of our new wine club, we are going to showcase two noble grape varieties: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chardonnay suffers from an image problem that was introduced by the oaky Chardonnays of the 1990s. Many people still label themselves as ABCs (Anything But Chardonnays), but it’s time for that to end! Chardonnay is known as the “tart of grapes” because it can be made in any style you want – varying from earthy to fruity and from light to rich. In Burgundy and Italy Chardonnay wines tend to be earthy, and in the New World they tend to be fruity. I have chosen here to three quite different Chardonnays: from France, Spain and Mexico.

Florent Rouve Viré-Cléssé, Chardonnay, Burgundy, France
A crisp yet rounded dry white with peach, honeysuckle and citrus aromas followed by expressive fruit and mineral flavours. Enjoy this delicately oaked chardonnay lightly chilled with meaty white fish in cream sauces or chicken with wild mushrooms. This wine won best supermarket Chardonnay under £15 by Decanter 2016.
From M&S £14.50

Paso Prima Blanco, Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain
Paso Prima is 100% Chardonnay in a fruity style, so should even appeal to ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay). This wine is full-bodied, rich with pineapple and mango, and a lime finish. It has been lightly oaked, giving it a slight nutty characteristic, and has a beautiful creamy texture. Very drinkable!
From Tanners £11.95

Quetzal, Chardonnay / Chenin Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Although Mexico has a hot climate, Valle de Guadalupe, just above the 30º latitude line, has a Mediterranean climate and is known as the ‘Napa Valley of Mexico’. This wine is heady with lemongrass, lime and a an oily texture, with a salty finish. In parts of Mexico, grapes are grown at high altitude to combat the heat.
From M&S £9.00

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon from the Old World has more herbal and floral flavours such as violets and tobacco with less fruit present. A Bordeaux (Cab Sav / Merlot blend), will usually have hints of black cherries and liquorice along with some earthiness. Cab Sav from the New World are often more fruit-forward and you can also taste black cherry and liquorice, but this time with spicy black pepper and vanilla. The New World wines tend to have a little bit less tannin and acidity, and have more alcohol, due to greater sunshine hours.

Chateau Tour de Pez, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France, 2011
Bordeaux is split into Left-Bank and Right-Bank. Left-Bank is closer to the Atlantic where Cabernet Sauvignon grows well, and Merlot thrives on the right-Bank. This luscious wine, although from the Left Bank is Merlot-rich, making it easy-drinking and ready to drink now. This particular vintage is a steal at <£10 from Aldi, when typically this wine would cost £20+.
From Aldi £9.99

A Tavola! Cabernat Suavingon, Lodi, California, USA
A full-bodied and rich wines, as you would expect from a Cab Sav but surprisingly fruity in style. This Californian Cabernet Sauvignon by director Francis Ford Coppola may have celebrity status, which might put some people off, but it certainly deserves the red carpet. Juicy dark fruts with buttered toast to finish.
From Laithwaites £15.99

Berton Vineyard, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia
Coonawarra in South Australia is just about the best region for New World Cab Sav, known for growing grapes on its strip of “terra rossa” soil. The 2014 vintage was rated as the best New World Cab Sav in Decanter magazine April 2017. Cherries and fresh blackberries with firm tannins and a lovely long length.
From £14.75

To JOIN OUR CLUB please sign up to receive the monthly Princess and the Pinot newsletter.

We hope you enjoy our recommendations, and please do let us know what you think on our Princess and the Pinot Facebook Page or on Twitter @HYOwineclub #HYOwineclub. To find out more about HYO wine club please visit and we look forward to hearing from you!

We cannot guarantee availability and prices of wines at retailers, please check retailer websites for details.

Host Your Own Wine Club

Princess and the Pinot - Host Your Own (HYO) Wine Club
We have been serving great wines at our pop-up wine bars and would like to get more people involved with trying the wines we recommend. Once you join HYO Wine Club we will send you a list of wines that we recommend to try each month. When you try the wines please tell us what you think on Twitter using @HYOwineclub and #HYOwineclub, or on the PrincessAndThePinot Facebook Page - we would love to chat to you about the wines you've tasted based on our recommendations. Most of the wines will be available on the high street, but some come from independent stores or winemakers. You can try the wines in the comfort of your own home at your leisure, or you can come to our pop-up wine bars to try the wines, or we can help you to Host Your Own wine club. The flights of wine served at our pop-up wine bars will feature the wines recommended for HYO Wine Club, and as a member of the club you can book spaces at our Club Table.

The Club Table
We reserve one table at our pop-up wine bars for HYO Club members. We charge £29 per person and included in this is two tasting flights of our Wine Club flights, which Soma will take you through personally. Then we will serve an additional wine that has been specially selected, with cheese and charcuterie boards. The Table is communal and will seat up to eight people, making it an intimate social evening. Places will be booked on a first come first served basis. To book seats at the Club Table, the person making the booking must be a member of HYO Wine Club.

To find out more about HYO Wine Club, the Club Table, and tips on running your own wine club, please visit

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Books About Wine

Since it's World Book Day I thought I'd share with you my favourite wine books. I've read a lot of them, but these are the ones I go back to again and again.

Reference Books:

Wines and Spirits: Understanding Style and Quality
by Wine and Spirits Education Trust - you get this when you do your WSET Level 3 qualification

Wine Folly: A visual guide to the world of wine
by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammock

The Wine Bible
by Karen MacNeil

The World's Shortest Wine Book
by Simon Woods

The World Atlas of Wine
by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

The 24-hour Wine Expert
by Jancis Robinson


by Natalie MacLean - I can't find where to buy it, but worth seeking out

Red, White and Drunk All over
by Natalie MacLean

Blackberry Wine
by Joanne Harris


Here's How... To Buy, Serve and Keep Red and White Wines
Issued by The Victoria Wine Comapny Ltd in 1934
Try finding this last one! A friend gave it to me, a truly wonderful present.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Paso Primero wines

Tom, the wine-maker for Paso Primero, started out stacking shelves at Tanners Wine Merchants, and studied wine-making at Plumpton in Sussex. Tom now lives in Shrewsbury and makes delicious wines at an affordable price with Batán de Salas in Somontano. Paso Primero has a white and a red that are fruity and easy drinking. Paso Prima changes each year, as Tome will select the grapes that have been growing well for each vintage; last year was Chardonnay and the year before Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paso Primero Blanco, Gewurtz / Riesling / Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain, 14%
This is not a typical blend in the wine world, but it is very common in Somontano to blend aromatic Gewurtztraminer with Chardonnay.  The Riesling gives the wine a subtle honey characteristic. A very floral wine underpinned with citrus and honey, giving it a lovely mouthfeel.  The floral note disappears leaving a clean finish.

Paso Primero Tinto, Merlot / Cab Sav / Tempranillo, Somontano, Spain, 14%
On the palate the first hit is the Cab Sav with its tannic bite, then the Merlot floods through softening the mouthfeel, finishing on a Tempranillo lift of red fruits, then the strawberry and redcurrant finish makes you crave another sip. Very easy drinking, peppery, smooth, without the burn you might expect to receive from a wine with such high alcohol.

Paso Prima Blanco, Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain, 14%
Paso Prima is 100% Chardonnay, in a fruity style, rather than then the earthy Burgundian style, so should even appeal to ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay). This wine is full-bodied, rich with pineapple and mango, and a lime finish. It has been lightly oaked, giving it a slight nutty characteristic, and has a beautiful creamy texture.

Paso Prima Tinto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Somontano, Spain, 14%
Paso Prima is 100% Cab Sav, in a fruit-forward style. Saliva rushes over the tongue on first sip which fades to velvety tannins coating the roof of the mouth. The heat of the Spanish summer days encourage the grapes to become fat and juicy, and the cooler nights allow them to retain their acidity. Big bam blackcurrant fruit, but with soft edges.

Paso Vermu, Somontano, Spain, 15%
A blend of Paso Primero red and white wines, sweetened with grape caramel, and fortified with grape spirit (brandy), then blended with herbs and spiced. This has been made in the tradtitional style of a Spanish red vermouth. Serve over ice with a slice of orange, or cut it with tonic. It's bitter sweet, herbaceous and tangy.

To read more about Paso Vermu CLICK HERE

To read more about Paso Primero CLICK HERE

To sign up to Princess and the Pinot newsletter CLICK HERE 

Princess and the Pinot members get a discount on Paso Primero wines

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fairtrade Wine

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 runs from 26th Feb to 11th March. The Fairtrade Foundaiton has been working hard to support the farmers and workers who grow our food. Buying Fairtrade wine ensures the farmers and workers get a fair price for their products, plus a premium to help the community develop education, sanitation and healthcare. The Fairtrade Foundation supports winemakers in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Lebanon. Why not try a Fairtrade wine this fornight?

Waitrose, Co-op, Sainsbury's and M&S are retailers who stock a range of Fairtrade wines. Fairtrade wines I recommend include the 30' Pinot Noir from Co-op, the Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc from Waitrose, TtD Pinotage from Sainsbury's, and Tilimuqui Organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Waitrose.

Co-op has also supported the first Fairtrade and organic wine to come out of Lebanon - Coteaux Les Cedres. It's a little young, but if you see it, buy it, then leave it in your wine rack for a year and it should be an unusual treat!

If you'd like to know more about Fairtrade Fortnight, CLICK HERE.

If you'd like to know more about Princess and the Pinot, CLICK HERE.