Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Whispering Angel Chateau d'Esclans Cotes de Provence 2011 (Price: 1)

Another rose, which is unusual for me, but since I tend not to like roses, any good ones I will be posting up here. This is a beautiful pale pink and is made of a combination of Grenache, Rolle, Cinsualt, Syrah and Mourvedre grapes. There is a sexy combination of peach and redcurrant flavours, sharp & sweet, fruity but shy. It's dry and I would guess it was a white wine if I was tasting it blind, but it is oh so much more delicate with a secret complexity. A very good wine and definitely deserving of the name.

I'm lying on a chaise longue with feather cushions, and a gentle breeze floating through the white muslin drapes. Rosehip tea is served from an antique silver teapot.

A great wine to try if you don't like roses but want to.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sharpham Vineyard, Devon UK

I went down to Devon this weekend and had the pleasure of visiting Sharpham. Beautiful Devonshire countryside, a walk by the river Dart and through their vineyard followed by a well-educated tasting. Delightful. As with most English vineyards, the focus was on white wines, but they also make some charming roses.

The most interesting was the Sharpham Whole Berry Rose (Price:0), which is made from the Dornfelder grape that they grow. It is beautiful in colour, it tastes off-dry but has an unusually dry finish, so you're not left with that claggy feeling. It also has no remnants of pot pourri, it is very fruity, with raspberry and strawberries, and has been awarded "best rose in the country" award, which a few years ago wouldn't have amounted to much, but with standards in South England rising rapidly, that actually means something!

I also enjoyed their Summer Red (Price: 1), which has had malolactic fermentation to make the Rondo grape tannins soften, it's light (Sharpham pride themselves on lower alcohol wines), and strangely reminds me of morello cherry yoghurt.

For only £6.95 you get to walk through the delightful vineyards, taste four wines and two cheeses. No need to book but try to get there before the lunch rush.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Luis Felipe Edwards Chardonnay Casablanca 2011 (Price: 0)

What a fantastic find! This creamy chardonnay with low acidity comes from a warm climate and it has a warming in the throat from the high alcohol level (14%), but is completely different from what you might know from a French or an Australian chardonnay. Currently available from Majestic Wine for £6.99. Proper bargain. And a great buy for ABCs. Seriously, try it.

Its a delight on the nose and on the tongue, it has a fragrant sweetness with flavours of banana, butterscotch and caramel. It's fun, something you don't come across very often. It takes me to the funfair, when you try new things and there are sweet smells in the air. It's playful, like long blonde curly hair with ribbons.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunday School at The Sampler

The Sampler (Islington and South Kensington in London) is my favourite place to try wines. They have a great system where you have a top-up card that you can then use to try wines from vacuum dispensing machines - a small taste, a large taste or a glassful. Very handy for trying something new.

But what I really love about The Sampler is their Sunday School - what Sunday School should be about. They're normally on a Sunday (you'd think always!) at around 5pm and they pick a grape or a region and teach you about the origins, what you can expect from a bottle etc. Price is normally £15, but it depends if they're planning something special. It's fun and friendly and a quick and cheap way to not only learn about wines, but to taste them too!

Next sessions are:
Northern Italy with Alex in South Kensington branch on Tuesday 21st August 6.45pm £15
Sparkling Wines of the World with Liz in Islington branch on Sunday 16th September 5pm £20

You need to book in advance. They do other tasting events too, but these tend to be more serious and more expensive.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Although my last wine was a red from South Africa, it contained Viognier. Viognier is a white wine grape, but is often used in Cote Rotie, Rhone, France who often add a small amount to their Syrah. Maybe this type of blending will help South Africa make more mellow wines for a mainstream market.

Zalze, Shiraz-Mourvedre-Viognier, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2011 (Price:0)

I am determined to find South African wines I like, I normally find them too harsh and too punchy. I recently found some Italian wines I liked (I'll tell you about these another time), so South Africa is next on the list. I chose this one, because of the blend - Aussie GSM (Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre) being one of my favourites. I have high hopes... the only concern before I take a sip is the price, but Tesco tries to keep their wine offer affordable, so here goes...

The smell is exactly as I would expect - punchy and alcoholic, yeah its 14.5%. And first sip, same thing,  woah, that's a slap in the face. But it has more depth as you let it linger. It has lots of black fruit flavours, there's an underlying shrubbery flavour, which lifts into a more fragile finish of herb and spice, which is quite unusual.

I'm being taken back to hot summers in the countryside when you pick fruits from bushes (even if you don't eat them, because you're not sure if they're poisonous), then you slip on loose soil, so take a sharp breath and grab onto a branch to catch yourself and can smell the leaves on the branch as you leverage yourself back into your stroll in the countryside. A mini adventure.