Sunday, July 6, 2014

Taste of London review

I went to Taste of London for the first time this year and I LOVED it! We were booked in for Champagne tasting tickets which included lounge access, 20 crowns each and a free glass of bubbles on arrival. Of course we needed double the Crowns for all the food and wine we wanted to try!

We read the menus in advance and headed round the park to seek out our bite-sized feast. One thing I really liked was most stalls having their dishes on show so you could see what it looks like before ordering. The dishes I loved the most were the Pudhina chops from Tamarind of Mayfair (Welsh lamb cutlets, ginger, mint, crushed peppercorns) and the Pannacotta from Barbecoa (Amedei white chocolate panna cotta with wild strawberries, champagne and basil). Absolutely delicious and I will definitely be visiting their restaurants soon.

We saw Michel Roux Jnr in the Taste Theatre (tip: get there 15 mins early with food and drink so you get a seat), and I met David Hesketh, the MD of Laurent Perrier, at the Champagne blind tasting. It's a great place to meet some of your foodie heroes, we saw one woman who was getting all the chefs to sign her apron.

After eating our weight in mini-food and enjoying the delights that Laurent Perrier had to offer (Ultra Brut, Brut NV and Le Grand Siecle), we sat down in the Gaucho wine tent and had a flight of Malbec, which included the deliciously violet Colome Terruno from the highest vineyard in the world.

Needless to say I will be going back next year.

WSET Advanced wine exam tips

Last Saturday I took my WSET Advanced exam. Phew! It was pretty intense and I was completely exhausted afterwards, I didn't realise how stressed I had been.

The exam is 50 multiple choice questions, a short answer paper, and a blind tasting of two wines.

You could say it was easier than I was expecting it to be, because I thought there would be more drill down in each of the regions for the short answer questions. But I think that made it harder, because I had spent so much time learning the regions, geology and geography, and not enough time on wine service!

Since the exam I have been dreaming about taking it again but as is the way with dreams in much different circumstance - in a hall with a hundred other students, one a cliff as a one-on-one interview... but soon my brain will realise its over. I have another five weeks to wait for the results.

There were some very tough questions, so here are my top tips:

  1. For each region don't forget to learn the sweet and fortified wines as well as the main red and white wines made in that region. 
  2. Keep studying all the way up to the exam, you never know what final piece of information you might learn.
  3. Read the question twice (a tip given to me before going in), because although they ask you about Chenin Blanc, they are asking you a particular question about it, so focus on the actual question.
  4. If English is your first language, don't worry too much about your grammar, they are marking your knowledge, although full sentences is preferred.
  5. Write SOMETHING for every short answer question, you will get marks even by saying its a white or red wine for example. You do know something, so write something!
  6. For the blind tasting, get on with it. Time ran out for me, I think I spent too much time writing elaborate sentences. Although it might impress the examiner, you don't extra marks for that and there's not much room on the paper anyway. I'd recommend doing timed practice tests at home.
  7. Practice short answer questions by picking a region and thinking about which four wines you can talk about in that region.
  8. Spend time making sure you know each wine-making method (red, white, rose, sparkling, sweet, fortified) and the variations of each.
  9. Remember to read about wine-service and social responsibility chapters, they may seem like common sense, but you may need to answer short answer questions on these.
  10. Draw your own maps if you have a visual memory. I found these very useful to consolidate knowledge on the varieties, geography, geology and climate.
The way I answered the exam is to answer the short answer questions that you know, make a note of the ones you don't know, then answer the multiple response questions you know, marking those you don't know. Then go back to the short answer, then go back to multiple choice. The reason I felt this was a good way is because you get some hard questions out the way, you will have read all the short-answer questions so when you go through the multiple choice it might trigger a memory that helps with the ones you thought you don't know. I'd leave the multiple choice you don't know to the end, because these will be down to (educated) chance if you get them right and if you run out of time are the least likely to have got you extra marks.

One things I wasn't sure about was for the blind tasting, identifying the wine, do I go with my heart (what I think it is) or my head (what my tasting notes say)? I went with my heart and I'm pretty sure I got the red wrong!

I'm happy its over and waiting in anticipation to get my results. If you have any other questions about the WSET Advanced exam, or want to share your experience, please do comment on this post.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Best 10 under £10 at Jeroboams Summer Tasting

Jeroboams fine wine merchant invited me to their summer tasting and unfortunately I was double-booked so didn't have much time. I set myself the task of tasting only the wines under £10 and finding the best ones.


Cote Mas Piquepoul Frisant, Paul Mas, Vin de France 2013 £8.50 - this was a lively sparkling with stone fruit flavours and minerality. It lacked some of the autolytic flavours (toast, yeast etc.) from Champagne, but I have to say a sparkling from France that's not Champagne tends to be awfully good value.


Excellens Blanco, marques de caceres, Rioja 2013 £7.50 - a white Rioja is often overlooked and hence often good value. This was exceptional, my favourite white on the night, with tropical fruit flavours and a lovely minerality.

Hunter's Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013 £8.95 - Everything you should expect.

Quincy, Domaine Andre Pigeat, Loire 2013 £9.95 - Pretty good value from the Loire (buying from vineyards next to premium ones such as Sancerre often gets you a good deal). Lovely Qumquat flavour.


Villa Wolf Rose, Pinot Noir, Ernst Loosen Pfalz, Germany 2012 £8.95 - Delicious peach and lemon sherbert flavours, light with a little residual sugar, like eating a fruit salad.


Les Tannes Syrah, Tradition, IGP Pays D'Oc, Paul Mas 2012 £6.95 - this was my favourite red, it had fantastic structure, its organic, you can taste violets, and I would consider it to be a touch arrogant (well Jancis Robinson likes it too, so why shouldn't it be?).

Rosso Maniero, IGT Colli della Toscana Centrale, Fattoria Casaloste, Italy 2010 £10.95 - OK I've gone over £10 for this one, but its worth it, its very heavy, savoury, with umami flavours, wondering if it has Mafia connections with the punch it pulls!

Fleurie, Domaine de Sermezy, Patrice Chevrier, Beaujolais 2011 £9.95 - light and delicious, plenty of red fruits bursting on the palate, exactly what you expect from a Fleurie.

Raza Reserva Malbec, Famatina Valley, Vinas Riojanas 2012 £7.95 - Most people I know will love a Malbec when they're having steak in a restaurant, but never at home. For this price, its time to get Malbec on your dinner table! This has had 12 months in oak, but is still quite young, so could age a bit to allow those leathery flavours to develop.

St Nicholas de Bourgueil, Les VII Arpents, Foucher-Lebrun, Loire £8.50 - this is fresh yet smokey, and perhaps a little young, but in six months' time you'll be licking your lips to get a taste of this.

10 at £10, bargain! I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised, these wines are really something. Although Jeroboams are known for their fine wines, I think you'd be pleased to have them as your wine merchant, even if your budget is £10 a bottle. They will be able to tailor to your tastes, learn over time what style of wine you prefer, and I'm sure they'd be happy to serve your needs even with a limited budget, although you'll have to forgive them for up-selling occasionally I'm sure. Same goes for other merchants. It might be daunting at first, but you certainly get better value wines than from a supermarket. Plus you'll be getting wines from the more obscure producers and brands. Only downside really is you don't get to browse and choose (my favourite thing to do, although I know others hate that task), and you have to buy by the case (which shouldn't be a problem if you drink as much wine as I do, but might be if you're on a weekly budget).

The Sampler Blind Tasting

I was disappointed with the blind tasting at The Sampler in South Kensington London last week. It was a divine idea, and I was really looking forward to testing myself in the run up to my WSET Advanced exam.

Find out about other tastings at The Sampler here

It was very good value for the wines they had chosen, and organisation of the tasting was fantastic, but the execution left a lot to be desired. I don't blame The Sampler per se, I blame the knob know-all who turned up and ruined the evening for the rest of us. Unfortunately the lady who was running it didn't have enough gravitas to put him in his place and coach the rest of us back out of our shells.

Sitting down at three tables, a bit too spaciously to talk to the others around our table, we were given two glasses of sparkling wine to start with, a piece of paper to write our notes, and a tasting guide. Great, I'll start my process of elimination to figure out what I've got...
1. Many fast small bubbles, light gold colour, pronounced aroma with biscuit flavour, high acidity, so traditional method...
2. Slow small few bubbles, light lemon colour, low intensity aroma, citrus fruits, so tank method...

I hadn't got to whether I thought it was Cremant or Champagne, Prosecco or a NZ sparkling, when the lady asked us: "So does anyone have anything to say about these two wines looking at the tasting notes, perhaps a comment on how they think it was made?" Immediately followed by the gentleman to my left shouting "On the left is La Chapelle and the right is that Spanish sparkling you have". The lady tried to lead him away into talking more about how he got to those answers and what that meant about how the wines were made, but he only cared if he got it right, so she replied politely "no, and no". I thought that might shut him up, but unfortunately not.

The next three we were told are the same location, same year, but different quality. I got to as much as it might be a pinot noir, but a cold one, was it Burgundy or Oregon, and the same gentleman (perhaps I shall stop calling him a "gentleman") yelled "It's Gevrey-Chambertin isn't it? 2011 isn't it?" And indeed it was. *Sigh*

I think this left the rest of us unwilling to participate in this game. I think even the lady hosting the tasting couldn't be bothered any more. I had only got to smelling the next two wines (both of which smelled delicious) which differed by age as the clue, when we were told it was Rioja Paternina Conde de los Andes Gran Reserva 1994 vs 2001. To be honest, if we're going to compare ages of two wines, I think one of them should be recent - you couldn't distinguish the colour between these wines because they were both old.

The final pair I immediately said to my friend "Bordeaux" then we both drank it. No tasting, no comparing notes, no discussing the merits of different producers (the comparative measure between the two), no calculating left- or right-bank, Medoc vs Pauillac. All excitement in the exercise was lost. no-one cared, except the knob to my left. A women on my table was still very enthusiastic, especially once she saw what the prices of the wines had been (average of £37, the cheapest being the Prosecco at £11 and the most expensive the Leoville Barton at £80).

I vowed not to return to a Sampler tasting, because I was worried if I went back and encountered this type of experience again it would sadden me. It's not fair on people who want to have fun with wine, to enjoy wine, to learn about how method, quality, age, and producers affect the taste of the wine. The Sampler is encouraging for all levels of wine experience, but if they can't control the few to protect the masses, I'd rather go somewhere else. Having said that, I can't stay away - they have a tasting coming up which will showcase The Scholium Project, a very innovative concept for the wine world, and I must go. Maybe I'll see you there, but please don't be a knob.

Read about the Scholium project here

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chateau Poujeaux Moulis en Medoc 2008

I tasted this wine and got as close as guessing it as close as Medoc. Amazing! But what's more amazing is the variety of aromas and flavours, check it out...

Appearance: clear, deep garnet with tawny rim indicating age, thick legs indicating high alcohol or sweetness.

Nose: clean, med+ intensity, developing.

Aromas: blackcurrant, blueberry, black cherry, baked plum, vanilla, rum and raisin ice cream, clove, forest floor. Distinctive sherry aroma indicating oxidation.

Palate: quite watery on front of mouth indicating age, dry, medium acidity, high tannin, med+ alcohol, med+ body, med- intensity, med length.

Flavours: plum, blackcurrant, black cherry, jam, raisin, black olive, liquorice, black pepper, charred wood, resin, hot Tarmac.

Quality: very good, drink now not for further ageing because it doesn't have enough fruit to develop further, high priced.

Identity: Bordeaux, left bank, Medoc, containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a tiny bit of Petit Verdot. At least 3yrs old.

BOOM!! I got it so right. Only thing I could have got more right bar the Chateau which I could not have guessed (!) was that it is actually 6yrs old.

I am awesome!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hewitson Old Garden - Best wine ever?

I forgot just quite how amazing Hewitson's Old Garden is. We bought half a case from DVine Cellars and it has since almost doubled in price. I wish we'd bought a case. Or five.

Before you even taste it you can smell the complexity of the aromas and you know you're in for a treat. Then as you taste it, the flavours change over time. Last night I went through a journey starting with black fruits and chocolate, tobacco and eucalyptus. Then later I got notes of leather and buttered toast. Then it progressed to toffee and finally ginger biscuit. Delicious! The balance is perfect, it will age well, and its made from Mourvedre (aka Mataro).

It's such a treat, I highly recommend you get a bottle to try, even if it is just the once. If you can't justify the price, try the Baby Bush instead which is a cheaper version and also very good.

No brainers for choosing new world wines

A friend of mine asked me "I've bought a Chilean Maipo Shiraz for £4 do you think it will be nice?".


To start with, you should never spend only £4 on a bottle of wine if you care about taste. Even if the supermarket says its RRP is £8, it is still only worth £4. My advice is to spend at least £7 on a bottle of wine. Think about all the factors that are involved in getting the wine to you, by the time money has been spent on bottling, shipping, marketing, distribution and taxes, there is little money left to pay the guy to actually make your wine. In a £5 bottle of wine, you are only getting about 20p of wine. For 20p how much is he going to care what actually goes into the bottle? See an earlier post on this here:

Regardless of the price, a low cost shiraz from Chile is unlikely to be great. Chile is best known for its Merlot/ Carmenere, and well-known normally means they know what they are doing. For good value wines at low price points it makes sense to go for the varietals that are best known. Maipo specifically is actually better known for its Carmenere.

NB. Merlot and Carmenere are not the same grape, but many Merlot vines were planted later to be found some were Carmenere, but many producers still call their wine Merlot.

Also, Maipo is more of a gamble as a region in Chile as it is a flat valley and has some good sites and some less good sites. It would therefore be more reliable to choose a Chilean wine from a region that produces more consistently good wines, such as Colchagua or Casablanca.

It is also worthy to note, the more specific the region is on the label, the more likely it is to be better wine, e.g. Wine of Chile < Central Valley < Maipo. So if you see a label with "Wine of [country]" you should keep looking. Another one to watch out for is "Wine of South Eastern Australia" this is a cover-all label to say any grapes from anywhere could have been used, and it would be better to find "South Australia" or better still "Barossa".

New World is easy to find good value wines at £7-8 (except USA), so here are my no-brainers for the new world. If you find these in your price range,  buy without worry:

Chile Merlot / Carmenere (specifically from Rapel / Cachapoal / Colchagua)
Chile Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay (specifically from Casablanca)
Argentina Malbec (from Mendoza)
South Africa Pinotage
South Africa Chenin Blanc
Uruguay Tannat
Australia Shiraz (from South Australia / Barossa)
Australia Cabernet Sauvignon (from Coonawarra)
Australia Riesling (from Clare Valley or Eden Valley)
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (from Marlborough)

There are better wines than listed above, but these will provide options at cheaper price points. I haven't included wines from USA, because they tend to export very basic wines and very good wines, so if you're looking for a good value wine at a low price point I would avoid USA. Although I will mention my very favourite wine at the moment is Ramey Russian River chardonnay, but at around £30, it doesn't get near this list. If you want something close to it, you could try a Californian chardonnay from Monterey or Santa Barbara.

Make a comment on this post if you would like me to write a blog on no-brainers for the old world, and remember to include your @handle if you want me to let you know when its up.

Hope this helps!

Monday, April 7, 2014


I went to a Penfolds tasting at Spirited Wines last weekend, and although the wines were enjoyable, none of them smacked me around the face. Unfortunately the manager has my tasting notes to process my order, but I will get them back.

What I went back to at that tasting was my old way of describing wines. I have been so focused on getting my WSET Advanced that I've actually strayed what's true to me. Usually when I taste wines I get a sense of where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with, rather than if its black cherry vs red plum.I promise to go back to those descriptions, but you have to stick with me for now. On Saturday we had a ballerina wine (poised, elegant, but muscular). I shall be bringing these back to you.

But in the meantime, let me just say, I LOVE Penfolds wines, and I have a Penfolds Grange in my cellar and I can't wait to try it. Although I can, because I'll also be sad once its gone. Bottle of Bin 389 (baby Grange) please...!

Shiraz or Syrah

At the bottom of the page are my tasting notes for a Syrah that I got wrong. I guessed Pinotage, but somehow feel I should have guessed a French wine. I'm doing Rhone next week as part of my WSET Advanced, so hope it will get better.

How to tell a Syrah (old-world) from a Shiraz (new-world). They're both packed with black fruit and spice. Shiraz normally has a higher alcohol content (due to hotter climate), tastes sweeter, although that's just the fruit, and the spice is sweeter, with cinnamon and clove. Syrah (same grape) originates in the Rhone valley (but is now a term used in e.g. Chile where they are trying to develop the same complexity). Syrah has more peppery and even leathery notes depending how old it is. If you drink the two side by side Syrah is sophisticated and Shiraz is the fun cousin. Aussie Shiraz feels like a Ribena-berry has smacked you in the face, but Shiraz is more discerning, more savoury, likes to take its time in your mouth.

I think where I got lost is this is a vin de pays, which means there will have been less strict rules applied, and although the savoury flavours were developed, it was a little unbalanced, and had a colour purple - which I had assumed was new-world, but was due to it being so young.

All good though. It's going down nicely.

Syrah Vin de Pays, IGP, L'Ardeche, Rhone, 2012, 12.5%
Appearance: Medium, ruby almost purple, clear
Nose: Clean, med,legs, developing
Aromas: blackcurrant, plum
Mouth: high alcohol, med intensity,  high acidity, med+ tannins, dry
Flavours: blackcurrant,  cherry, stewed plums, pepper, herbaceous
Quality: Short length, good, inexpensive

Monday, March 31, 2014

How is Sangiovese different from Pinot Noir?

So, in one of my blind tastings as practice for my WSET Advanced I was told a wine I was tasting was not a pinot noir, but I found out it was a Burgundy (an easy mistake to make - check my previous post on how to tell what grapes are in French wine

One of my guesses was a Sangiovese, so I had to learn what makes Pinot Noir different from Sangiovese. Here are my notes:
Appearance: Both are ruby, but sangiovese is medium intensity, PN is light
Nose: Both med+ (the ones I tasted anyway)
Aromas: Both Cherry and plum, S=blackcurrant, PN=strawberry
Mouth: Both dry, low acidity, low body, but WOW S=high tannin, PN=low tannin BOOM!
Flavours: Both strawberry, cherry, plum
OK, tannin is the differentiater, take note all you WSETers.

Next... how is Nebbiolo different?

What is this wine? Another blind tasting that I got wrong.

OK, I've lost my touch, I need to learn more to get a good handle on blind tasting for my WSET Advanced course. Exam in less than two months. Getting a lot of practice in.

Can you guess?
Appearance: light, ruby,clear
Nose: clean, medium intensity, medium legs, developing
Aromas: Blackcurrant, cedar, plum, cherry
Mouth: Medium intensity, medium acidity, low tannin, dry, medium body, high alcohol
Flavours: cherry, plum, strawberry, blackcurrant fruitella
Quality: inexpensive, acceptable quality, short length

I have to say its disappointing on the palate, a bit wet, weak... although it gets better when you put some air to it... and even better when you put an apple pie in the oven (I thought I was getting some burnt caramel and cinnamon notes, but alas that was the pie that my husband is cooking).

I couldn't figure it out. I was given the option of pinotage, merlot, zinfandel.  I couldn't figure it out. None of them fit (from what I knew). I'm guessing from that you'll know if you've passed your WSET Advanced or work in wine.  But I think it also goes to show, you have to taste a hell of a lot of wines to get rid of preconceptions.

If you haven't figured it out (or if you have), post on here and I'll reveal.

How can you tell which grapes are in French wines?

So I am given a glass of a light red wine, and before tasting "It's pinot noir!" I exclaim. "No, it isn't" my friend replies, with the knowledge of having chosen it for me to blind taste as practice for my WSET Advanced course.

"Oh, well what is it..." I ponder. Right, lets do this properly.
Appearance: light intensity, ruby, clear, med legs.
Nose: Clean, med+ intensity, developed.
Aromas: raspberry, cherry, plum, strawberry, rosehip, strawberry sweets, cherry jolly rancher.
Mouth: low intensity, dry, low acidity, low tannin, light body, medium alcohol
Flavours: strawberry, cherry, plum.
Quality: short length, acceptable quality, drink now not for ageing, inexpensive.

OK, so its not pinot noir... grenache? a rubbish pinotage? sangiovese? none of them make sense.

What is it? Roncier Burgundy 12.5% Vin de France. Ah! An understandable mistake - my friend doesn't realise that Burgundy is pinot noir, "it doesn't say it on the label". One of the "tricks" about French wine is that they expect you to know whats in the bottle from the minimal labelling terms they use. This is a common mistake.

As a basic rule of thumb:
Burgundy red = pinot noir
Burgundy white = chardonnay
Chablis = chardonnay
Beaujolais = gamay
Rhone red = syrah (aka Shiraz)
Bordeaux red = cabernet sauvignon and merlot
Loire white = chenin blanc or sauvignon blanc

Hope that helps!
Let me know if you need to know others and I'll put together a more comprehensive list.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

English Wine

There is a lot good to say about English wine, its often better than you think it is... but you have to be careful about what you choose and where from. My favourites are Nyetimber, Sharpham, Chapel Down, Camel Valley and Ridgeview. The best of English is sparkling (or Espa as I call it). I had Nyetimber at my wedding, which was a great choice for something different, less alienating than Champagne and has more oomph than prosecco. Try the Classic Cuvee.

About 18 months ago a friend took me to Highdown Estate for a tour of the vineyard and a tasting afterwards. Unfortunately they don't make sparkling so we tried their white, rose and red wines instead. It's a shame that all the wines we tried that year (it was a particularly bad year for sunshine hours, so less ripening of grapes),  which meant less flavour complexity, and high acidity. I had confidence in the winemaker, so bought a not-available (i.e. kept for sale to family members and friends only) bottle of Albert's Reserve Pinot Noir. It was suggested in hush tones that I lay it down for a year to allow the fruit to develop. I did so by placing it at the back of my wine store, and opened it 18 months later. I think I left it too long.

My tasting notes are below, and the right flavours are there for a good pinot noir, but it was past its best and had quite a watery consistency. My suggestion would be to support your local vineyards and try their wines, but be careful about opening them at the right time (try a year after harvest). If you're not a risk-taker,  my suggestion would be to stick to the bigger names (above) and get to know the sparklings. There really are some great English wines, but you have to be willing to experiment. I have two Sharphams in my cupboard, a white and a rose, and I can't wait until the sun is next out to get tasting those. I'll let you know how I get on!

Albert's Reserve Highdown Estate Pinot Noir (can't remember price)
Ruby colour with low intensity.
Low intensity on the nose, clean, with a hay and barnyard aroma.
Low acidity, low tanning, medium alcohol.
Flavours of water - quite a watery consistency and low intensity flavours.
Raspberry, cranberry, damp, wet soil, mushrooms still in the ground, supermarket strawberries.
Would guess it is inexpensive (it wasn't), and past its best.

Quite a shame, its my fault, and would be willing to give it another go... that is, if they sold this to the public at the time it was ready to drink. Not sure I'd be willing to wait another 18 months!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Practice for WSET 3 - blind tasting

Ok it's a new week and I have another wine to try blind...

Appearance: clear, medium intensity, lemon yellow, low alcohol/sugar.
Nose: clean, pronounced, developing.
Aromas: green apple, gooseberry, grapefruit, pineapple.

At this point I thought Sauvignon Blanc, so looked for green tinge and passion fruit and lime but couldn't find it...

Palate: dry, med+ acidity, med- alcohol, light body, med+ intensity, refreshing, delicate, med+ finish.
Flavour: lemon juice, grapefruit flesh, lemon peel, gooseberry, white pepper.
Quality: good, drink now not for ageing, mid-priced.

Identity: Italian? Normally they're light intensity but maybe it's Soave, I read that has a bit more to it, but I haven't tried that in a while so couldn't really say... Eden valley Riesling? That's quite fresh right? But I'm coming back to France... It's not Sav Blanc, could it be cheap Chablis?

No. Dammit. It's Pouilly Fume!! Argh!! I need to learn about Pouilly Fume, what makes it different from other Sav Blanc and why did I dismiss it? Is there a trick/ knack/ cheat sheet? 

Any tips welcome!

Monday, March 10, 2014

WSET Advanced practice #2

OK, so one under my belt, lets see how I get on with a red:

Medium+ intensity, ruby,clear appearance, high viscosity (means either high sugar or high alcohol).
On the nose: blackcurrant, blackberries, reducrrants, sweet spice: clove, black pepper, chocolate, cedar, eucalyptus.
Taste: med+ acidity, high alcohol, medium+ body, pronounced, med- tannin.
Blackcurrants, raspberry, clove, chocolate,blackberry, and i'm sticking my neck out and saying eucalyptus because i get a minty zing.
Quality: Good,  Mid price, ready to drink now.
Ahem, I would love to say Australian Shiraz, but its not... what is it? No,seriously what is it? The acidity is too high for Merlot, not enough tanning for Cab Sav, and its not Pinot Noir... Hey! Pinochet! I mean pinotage, sorry,that's what we call it.

And what is it?
Doolhof Pinotage 2010 (dammit I forgot to guess vintage again!),Wellington, South Africa. I need to learn more about Wellington. £15, 2010, and a high 15%. Yep, a lot of alcohol. And its yummy. Buy it,drink it. Probably the best Pinotage I've had yet, although I do love Goats do Roam.

Tasting practice for WSET Advanced #1

I have just started my WSET Advanced and I'm super excited!! There is a lot more work with this level than the Intermediate, and rightly so, but after Class 1 it is a little daunting. The tasting is more sophisticated and the book twice as thick, I need to get studying... and that means drinking, ahem, I mean tasting wines too.

Badger is my initial support group (until I find others), and he has set me the task of tasting one white and one red per week without knowing what it is, so I can practice. This is what I tasted today:

Medium intensity, lemon yellow, clear  appearance.
Nose: Clean, lemon rind, yellow apples, honey, blossom, sand, I'm getting something oakey but can't put my finger on it... maybe its not oak, maybe its tropical fruits instead, yes mango and passion fruit.
Mouth: medium- acidity, medium+ body, dry, medium+ alcohol, pronounced, but short length.
I'm getting golden delicious apples, mango, papaya, passion fruit,almond  skin, apple juice from concentrate, honeycomb.
Quality: Acceptable, mid-low price (I haven't yet learned the correct terminology and I'm doing this blind) so I'd guess £8-11, definitely Chardonnay (I got that from the first sniff), from Chile... wait, no Central Valley California.

Right, what is it?
Hahn winery, Chardonnay from Monterey 2012, 14.5% and £14.

Blimey! Not bad for a first go, I'm not as rusty as I thought. Now, i would tell you what I got wrong or what I missed, but I need to move on to the red. Good game, good game.