Crest of a New Cape Wave

POSTED ON 02/01/2016

In Wine, Women and Good Hope: a history of scandalous behaviour in the Cape, June McKinnon tells the salacious history of Cape Town. Was it 36 of their descendants then who came over to seduce us at such a mouthwateringly salacious New Wave South Africa tasting? The thrill and energy of the wines summed up what the growers justifiably called a ‘tangible sense of camaraderie, talent, youth and openness’.

Festive Riches

POSTED ON 19/12/2015

Before turning to the serious subject of Christmas wine stickies, let me regale you with a couple of festive treats too distinctive to miss. The first is technically a cider, no ordinary cider of course, but a tarte tatin confection oozing liquid toffee apple and crunchy on the finish. Stand up the 2014 Neige Ice Cider, £19.99, half-bottle, Lidl. Second comes the Pedrino Alcoholic Tonic, £1.90, Waitrose, a marmaladey sweet yet bitters-tasting quinine and tonic drink made from Montilla’s pedro ximénez grape.

Magnum Charter

POSTED ON 12/12/2015

Science tells us that wine in magnums is superior to a 75 cl bottle, but you don’t need rocket science to see how impressive a magnum can be at Christmas. So what better way to get the festive juices flowing than with a magnum of the 2010 Chéreau-Carré Cuvée des Ceps Centenaires, Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine, £22, The Wine Society, a lipsmacking bone dry white with an appley tang that beats many a Chablis.

A Fizzing Christmas

POSTED ON 05/12/2015

When our judging panel was asked to select champagne, prosecco and muscat based on value for last month’s Which? tasting of Christmas fizz, we came up with some shocks but no real surprises. It was neither Veuve Clicquot nor Moët et Chandon that covered themselves with glory but the toasty-rich, nuttily dry Les Pionniers Champagne, £16.99, The Co-operative, and the outstandingly creamy and savoury Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut, £24.99, down to £19.99 from Wednesday, while Tesco’s finest* Premier Cru Brut, £18, also impressed.

The London Crew

POSTED ON 21/11/2015

Across Seagrave Road from the Atlas Pub, the fragrance of fermenting wine and new oak wafts its way into Earls Court. Unsure if London Cru was a gimmick or vanity project, I had decided to take a look. Since it normally takes half a day to get to the nearest European vineyard, it would be a change to visit a working winery on my doorstep. As it was, tasting a fementing Galician albariño made by an Aussie winemaker on a grey London day required fresh mental agility.

Gavin MoneryGavin Monery

Tesco – The Unkindest Cut

POSTED ON 14/11/2015

At first I thought the Better Value neck tags on the bottles at Tesco’s autumn tasting were just meaningless guff. Then I twigged. Some of the Tesco finest* range wines were significantly cheaper by £0.50 - £2. Cause for celebration? As I struggled though one lacklustre bottle after another, I couldn’t help feeling that wines like the *finest Douro and *finest Slovenian Sauvignon Furmint were pale shadows of their former selves.

Our Cup Runneth Over

POSTED ON 07/11/2015

The 135 wine producers of England and Wales will be popping corks today at the quality of the wine bubbling under in wineries the length and breadth of the country. With more moonshine than sunshine in July and August, an Indian summer has revived their hopes for a vintage year in more ways than just the year of harvest. In case you’ve been on Pluto recently, you’ll know that English sparkling wine has come of age and now accounts for roughly two-thirds of the 4.5 million bottles of English wine made.

The Not So Wild Bunch

POSTED ON 17/10/2015

‘With new cellars opening, the development of mobile-friendly wine lists, a book with a new take on learning about wine, and the opening of several retail outlets, there is a constant buzz about us’. If the term independent wine merchant has a stuffy old fogey, pinstripe and Pall Mall gentleman’s club ring to it, the six-strong wine merchant group, The Bunch, made the point at this autumn’s tasting that established doesn’t necessarily have to mean establishment.

Move Over Nouveau

POSTED ON 10/10/2015

No blame should be attached to The Sunday Times’ Atticus for banging a drum back in 1974 that turned out to be so empty, nor Georges Duboeuf for milking the cash cow for all, no, more than, it was worth. Doubtless, there were juicily nubile fresh wines that slaked the thirst of the French as they tucked into their saucisson à la Lyonnaise. By the time it reached our shores though, filtered to within a micrometre of its life, Beaujolais Nouveau was mostly little better than water. Thankfully, it’s now water under the bridge.

Owning Up

POSTED ON 03/10/2015

An own-label wine is a brand aimed at inspiring confidence and loyalty in consumers looking for good value wines. As such, its guarantee is in direct proportion to the reputation of the wine merchant whose label it is. Even before Sainsbury’s Allan Cheesman developed the supermarket own label in the 1970s, established wine merchants such as Berry Bros., Avery’s, Justerini’s and Corney & Barrow were shipping Bordeaux and Burgundy and bottling with their own names.

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