Spain's Classy Los Clasicos

POSTED ON 21/12/2013

With each passing year, the Wines from Spain Awards throw up more variety and better quality across the board. Chosen from nearly 1000 wines, the top awards demonstrate that while Rioja is still a vital part of what Spain does well, there is so much more to Spanish wine today in style, in quality and in value. Spain in many ways is Europe’s greatest hope for a challenge to the New World dominance of the past two decades.

24 Budget and Splash Out Wines for Christmas

POSTED ON 13/12/2013


Best Budget Party RedBest Budget Party Red

2012 Morrisons Signature Carmenère

One of the newcomers to Morrisons' Signature range, this bright red made from Chile's own signature grape, carmenère, has plenty of juicy damsony fruit with a bittersweet chocolatey note on the aftertaste.

£7.99, Morrisons

Best Budget Party WhiteBest Budget Party White

2012 The Exquisite Collection Limoux

Magnum Force

POSTED ON 07/12/2013

Is there anything more festive than a magnum? Apart from a double magnum perhaps, a magnificent magnum is the most generous way to celebrate a great day with friends and family. It also keeps better than a bottle, so squirrel one away.

Death by Chocolate and other stories

POSTED ON 23/11/2013

I first heard of Apothic when the PR for the new California brand from Gallo asked me if I wanted a sample of a wine ‘fusing Old World intrigue with modern sophistication’. It sounded too untrue to be good so I declined. I thought no more of it until, lo, two days later it turned up all sweet and chocolatey at Tesco’s press tasting. Yum, I hear you say.

Phoenixes Rising

POSTED ON 16/11/2013

Only ghouls and Majestic Wine could have watched the car crashes of the Oddbins and Wine Rack chains with any satisfaction. Poor judgment by Oddbins’ previous owner and asset-stripping by Wine Rack’s venture capitalists left a disorderly trail of lost jobs, empty-handed customers and second-hand bottle shops in its wake. Their demise left a vacuum in the high street only partly filled by Majestic, Bargain Booze and independents.

Anyone for Sherry

POSTED ON 09/11/2013

Missing the recent London Sherry trail, aka tapas bar crawl, didn’t prevent me from taking in the new sherry and cava bar phenomenon that’s adding a dimension to the proliferating tapas bar scene. Hot on the heels of Bar Pepito, Rosita and Copa de Cava comes Drakes Tabanco. Tim Luther and Nigel Howell’s authentic tavern serves excellent Fernando de Castilla sherries from the cask and sells them to take away.

Sauvignon Bland

POSTED ON 02/11/2013

Just when I thought it was safe to enjoy the autumn press tastings, I found myself drowning in a sea of troubles otherwise known as supermarket sauvignon. Seven at Morrisons, 11 at Oddbins, 11 at Marks & Spencer, 14 at Asda, and no fewer than 18 apiece at Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. How much sauvignon blanc can one man take? It’s not that I’m against sauvignon per se. It’s just that since it became the default alternative to Bridget Jones’s’ chardonnay, it’s almost impossible to escape from its aisle-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling ubiquity.

China's New Frontier of Wine

POSTED ON 19/10/2013

If you were to visit a Disneyland of wine, you might expect grandiose castles with crimson turrets and golden gates, ‘classical’ statues with fountains, marble receptions rooms and wine museums, and come across hokey names like Chateau Bacchus, Chateau De Da and Saint Louis Ding. All this, and much more, exists, in China’s Ningxia province two hours west of Beijing by air.

Don't Discount Aldi

POSTED ON 12/10/2013

This month sees the opening of Aldi’s 500th store in the UK. That’s right, 500. Hardly surprising with 32 per cent growth in the past year. The German discounter has been one of the main beneficiaries of the recession and not just for food but for wine too. You may not impress your dinner party guests with an Aldi own-label wine , but you almost might with Aldi’s extravagantly entitled Exquisite Collection wines. Exquisite may be overegging the pud, but if Tesco can go Finest and Asda Extra Special, why shouldn’t Aldi indulge in a little bit of poetic licence?

Game and Match

POSTED ON 05/10/2013

I’m no more a fan of the so-called Glorious 12th than your average grouse served trussed-up in haste on dinner and restaurant tables throughout the land. It seems as unseasonally early for game as the increasingly premature kick-off to the football season. October on the other hand is true autumn and for me that means game of the pheasant, guinea fowl and partridge variety. So this week I’m celebrating autumn with some deliciously autumnal reds to go with our feathered friends.

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