People Pleasing

POSTED ON 04/07/2015

If this column were a people pleaser, it would devote itself exclusively to the cheapest and the deepest promotions. Much has been written, not least on this page, of the false dawn promised by supermarket promotions. Suffice it to repeat that more often than not the promotion is not what it seems, but rather, a cynical exercise creating deal junkies and binge drinkers by artificially raising the price to make the wine look cheap when it’s on offer at buy-one-get-one free or three for ten.

The Full English

POSTED ON 20/06/2015

It took four Nebuchadnezzars of Wiston Estate Brut NV for HM The Queen to name the new P & O Cruises vessel Britannia at Ocean Terminal in Southampton in March. One of the four giant 20-bottle bottles was smashed as profligately as a Formula One shower across the good ship’s bow to launch the vessel. At least the remaining three monster bottles were put to good use during the inaugural festivities. Just as well because whereas Formula One’s Mumm Cordon Rouge disposes itself wastefully with limitless supplies, Wiston is a family affair making relatively tiny quantities of sparkling wine.

A New, New World of Wine

POSTED ON 13/06/2015

As a source of variety and quality at a fair price, few regions in the world can hold a candle to the South of France. Sea, sunshine and picturesque countryside dotted with shimmering vineyards and sleepy villages add up to a wine-seeker’s paradise. If you’re driving to the Languedoc-Roussillon this summer and bringing it all back home, not only is visiting a select winery or two an enjoyable adventure, but fretting over whether the wine will travel or not is thankfully a thing of the past.

Asda La Vista

POSTED ON 08/06/2015

Having vowed not to take anyone seriously who informs me po-facedly that they’ve been on a journey, my heart sank as Master of Wine Philippa Carr introduced the Asda Spring and Summer press tasting: ‘We’ve been on quite a journey’, she announced as she introduced a new section called the Wine Atlas Wines.

50 Shades of Pink, Nearly

POSTED ON 23/05/2015

In time for flaming June, should it ever catch fire, ‘posh pinks’ was the subject of the premium rosé tasting organised this month by Richard Bampfield MW and Château Brown. 36 pink wines were tasted blind and decanted into clear label-less bottles so no-one could tell what was what from the bottle shape. The only visual identifying feature was the colour, and for anyone who thinks that rosé simply means pink, even a Dulux colour chart wouldn’t do justice to the nearly 50 shades of pink on offer.

The Not-So-Arrogant Frog

POSTED ON 16/05/2015

Before showing me a selection of Domaines Paul Mas wines in Soho's Vietnamese House of Ho, Jean-Claude Mas hands me a nest of handmade pralines, initialled with CM, and a man-scarf branded with the name of his Languedoc restaurant, Côté Mas. Could it be that the man best known for the tongue-in-cheek Arrogant Frog label doesn't have enough to do?

The Riesling Why

POSTED ON 09/05/2015

Whatever a young man’s fancy turns to in Spring, mine turns to riesling, simple as that. Nothing else quite refreshes or lingers so scentedly in the nostrils as riesling and no other grape runs the gamut from mouthwateringly bone dry to lusciously sweet. The German grape is perhaps the only known great non-French white grape, aka rhine or johannisberg riesling, and not to be confused with its bastard central European cousins, olasz, lutomer and welsch.

Trailblazing Saddles

POSTED ON 21/04/2015

Stick the word ‘new’ on a name and it’s tempting to dismiss it as just another cynical re-branding exercise. Thanks in part to the fancy steak house phenomenon, the past few months have seen much talk about ‘The New California’. It sounds good but is there anything really new emerging from the Golden State or is it just more of the same, re-branded for the feelgood factor?

The New Portugal

POSTED ON 11/04/2015

Think of a long narrow strip of a wine country running north to south, bordered by an ocean to its west. Chile? Anywhere else? Portugal anyone? Portugal is the dark horse of Europe, often ignored and almost a pariah until its 21st century wine revolution.

Something for the Weekend

POSTED ON 04/04/2015

Something For the Weekend 4 April 2015

Night In

2013 Caruso & Minini Perricone

Not just a stylish label but a hugely characterful Sicilian red whose spicily minty fragrance gives way to an intensely flavoured red infused with dried herb and cherries leavened by a spicy freshness on the aftertaste. £8, Marks & Spencer.

Dinner Party

2013 Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir

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