Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Yule log and HNY!

Hope you all had a wonderful yuletide?‬‪
We had a crisp cold christmas cracker of a day down in Norfolk.‬‪
Was great to have christmas day on a Thursday as this gave us a four day break with Annas family away from the hustle and bustle.‬‪
Particularly enjoyed the time to relax due to all the recent excitement including moving house.‬‪ I will be shortly reporting on the state of my new wine cellar which looks to be the perfect place to store my stash.

Fantastic christmas lunch at Adrian and Lynnes with great selection of drinks including Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a decanted bottle of lovely terroir laden claret, a St Joseph (northen Rhone), vintage port (from the year of my birth! – 29yo) and finally home made worthing sloe gin.‬‪. No notes- This was my day off!‬‪
Happy New Year!

Update and scores

I'm shortly going to start adding wine scores to my tasting notes. This is a sensible approach which aims to rate each wine against a scale and becomes very useful when comparing similar wines and particularly when looking back.
We use a good system of 1-109 at the kiwiwinefanclub which I got used to and may start using on this site. Lookout!
More on this later when I have discussed with Mark in BCN!!
Post pictures will be added later on.
I have no internet access in the new house so updates are happening from my Blackberry.

Warwick Estate

Friends for supper at the new house and it seemed a nice idea to open a bottle of South African wine for Megan.

2003 Warwick Estate Trilogy‬‪ Stellenbosch, South Africa‬‪

Liking the South African Bordeaux blends, you can tell they are from the new world with such power and complexity!! Tried some excellent ones at the wine awards back in September.‬‪This top of the range wine comes from a well regarded producer where effort and concentration has clearly been put into the bottle.‬‪Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot blend.‬‪ Predominantly Cabernet, a rich and warm nose with dark black fruits, smoke, all spice and blackberry with a great smooth palate structure and a touch of herbal mint.‬‪5 years of age.

Wilbur Wilson‬‪

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The Dual Tale of a Dude and a Bottle of Torres Milmanda 2005

This story has been three-and-a-half years in the making, and follows two parallel lives; that of myself, and that of this very bottle of wine (picture may not depict actual bottle of wine but may be indistnguishable from said bottle).

In the summer of 2005, myself and three brave souls embarked on a voyage from South Yorkshire, heading in the direction of Barcelona. We were too attend the Sonar electronic music festival, and my friends were to leave me there, as I was to start working in a summer camp a week or so later.

We made it in time, alas, my car did not, suffering the same fate as Joan of Arc, in the same town, Rouen, going up in a puff of smoke. Green Flag maintained our momentum in the form of overnight train tickets, and etc etc.

After the festival, which was boss, I arrived at the summer camp, next to the UNESCO monestry of Poblet. Many stories happened me that summer, and the subsequent summers that I was foolish enough to return to teach the spoilt rogues English, but there was a story taking place not 5 minutes down the road, in a place that looks like this:

This is Milmanda castle, near the town of Vimbodi in Tarragona. It is classified as a D.O. Conca de Barbera region, and it is on this estate that wine giant Torres
produced some of its best wines: Milmanda, of which I will harp, and Grans Muralls, which I have yet to probar.

July and August 2005, then, would have been the ripening of the Chardonnay grapes that eventually made it into the bottle, and the following summer, the wine would have been maturing in oak casks. In the final year of my time at camp, I found out about the vinyard, and organised a trip for my staff to go and check it out. The little tourist choo-choo was right on time to whistle us round the local village before dropping us off at the castle.

The standard Torres DVD clart was presented, emphasising the great yadda-yadda and the importance of the hoo-ha, before the local guide took us for a peak around the castle. Not much to see, unfortunately, as the wine is processed at their mammoth plant near Vilafranca, but there was an electrified hawk on display to draw attention to the conservation work that Torres is involved in.

At the end of the tour, we were all invited to a glass of the standard Vina Sol. A few of us decided to chip in for a bottle of the Milmanda that we'd heard about, enchanted as we were by the stories of this wine at the Prince and Princess of Asturias' wedding, as well as its appearance on the wine list at El Bulli. Even to our naive palettes, this golden liquid seemed special, and after the tiniest of portions, I was ready to hand over €30 in readies, more than I had ever or may ever consider splashing out on 75cl of booze. Needless to say, I took care of it like a newborn panda, and planned to save it for a very special occasion.

After I got it home, it stayed stowed away in my room for a good while, fearful that it could be mistakenly uncorked if kept in the kitchen and drank with lemonade out of plastic cups. It gathered dust, I liked that. I got an old airing cupboard like my grandma had, and my bottle had a new home. Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise; sunset. Sunrise - sunset.

I began to get a little anxious about my baby wine panda after reading a couple of things, and talking to a couple of people. Most white wines, especially chardonnays, are drunk soon after purchase, and to stop the wine from deteriorating, it should stay still, at a temperature of 14 degrees. I would never be able to manage that, so got to thinking about having a special occasion as soon as I could.

Two and a half years had passed. But with no children or weddings in sight, there was only one thing for it. Christmas! Thank God for the birth of Jesus. A special semi-traditional lunch with my hermosa novia before she went off to see her papa in Venezuela: ideal. The wine, as it happened, coupled gloriously with every course. The Catalan staple, sopa de galets; fried prawns; a cheese board, and finally; chocolate muffins.

The tipple? Ya te digo. A metallic golden in colour, like the baubauls suspended in the lounge. Legs slow to cascade around the glass. A rich autumnal smell, mature and comforting. At taste time, creamy, all around the mouth. With very little acidity, the only thing similar to other chardonnays I've tried was the reminicence of mature white fruit. The overriding joy to this drink is the strong notes of butter in every sip, more evident as the bottle went down, and the presents were unwrapped.

Mark Philip Dix I

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

macon villages

Christmas meal in Finsbury park with Catherine and Lucy.

Lucy has some experience in the wine industry and opened several bottles of lovely white burgundy for the meal

A white wine made from chardonnay in the Macon-Villages appellation in southern Burgundy.

A region that is particularly suited to chardonnay grapes due to some excellent sheltered areas lying beneath the rolling limestone hills of the region.

These wines can be compared as junior versions of the regions more famous Pouilly Fuisse.

Tesco Macon Villages

A straw yellow colour with a soft fruity nose.

Lovely stone fruit palate balanced with a great refreshing acidity and a soft melon body.

Great chardonnay!

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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A Casa Portuguesa

A word about a Sunday afternoon's outing to A Casa Portuguesa in the Gracia neighbourhood of Barcelona.

A Madrid-based school-friend of mine has got himself a Portugese girlfriend, whose countrymen and pals own this classy but reasonably-princed rincon full of Portugese goodness. We took a couple of hours out to give this joint the once-over.

I am insisting, these days, on starting with a white, whose citrus tones can combine genially with the fatty opulence of many different cheeses. Take this 2007 Loureiro from Quinta de Gomariz, for example. One sniff of the sampler glass was enough to convince us to go for the entire bottle. The assistant told us it was vinho verde, rather than white, and forms a slight effervescence in the bottle whilst developing. It had a punchy peachy nose, with secondary aromas of elderflower, and its fizz made it a top choice to combine with the creamy cheese board that we had been served. The stuff was fruity, like a Galician white, but also had a lot of floral notes that we discovered as the glasses went down. The acidity was just right, and it was long too, for a young wine. Highly recommended!

We followed this course with some Portugese puddings and a bottle of tinto. The pastries, known as Pasteis de Belem, were little custard tarts in filo pastry cases, heavily flavoured with cinnamon, covered in caster sugar and served cold. The wine, a 2006 blend of aragones, trincodeira and castelao grapes was from the Alentejo region. Vampire-ruby in colour, it was quite light in colour, spicy on the nose. In the gob, we got cherry, black pepper and clove. Quite dry at first, it had a sweet aftertaste; after my final sip, I let out a prune burp.

The total, for five of us to enjoy these delicacies, was 35 euros, which I think is more than reasonable. As my friend Belen put it, "menos mal que nos queda portugal".

Mark Philip Dix I

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Corby Corby Corbiere

Threshers got an offer on a Radcliffe's Corbieres (3 for 2 I think).
Mont Tauch 2006, a black boar on an orange label, it's a wicked drop, super easy drinkin, i put away a bottle this evenin without a thought. Very mellow, not heavy on the tongue but a rich plum fruit none-the-less. Not smoky, not heavily peppery, just subtley done.
Have it!


French Night

Bonjour mon amis du vin:

Heir soir we had the latest of our wine meetings at Tom and Claire's in Barceloneta. The theme was all things French, as a number of us had just got back from a weekend DJing in Toulouse, and were full of le inspiration. We had a couple of tried and tested classics for the table, some new combinations spied on our ramblings, and of course a couple of nouvelles trucs regionelles to try out.

I'll tell you right away that we weren't as strict as maybe we could have been, but it's not always easy to cop French produce at the last minute in Catalonia, even though we're only a couple of hours' drive from the border.

The first wine up for review was Les Roses Du Clos, a 2005 Fie Gris, a variety native to Touraire, also known as sauvignon rose. Pale and golden in colour, it had little nose compared to the bouncy Spanish whites we've become accustomed to. The taste, however, was big. The flavour of peach dominated, but some found its acidity a bit but on its own. Shortly thereafter came a Toulousean treat that we had seen served last weekend. A whole camembert is filled with smoked salmon (or cured duck) and melted in the oven, and served in a little dish with bread. This is a piece of piss to knock up at home and I'd definately recommend it with a quality French white like we enjoyed.

A little contrast was to follow with Trevor's election. Unable to locate a single French white at his preferred bodega, he instead brought a 2007 Galician white from a cellar by the name of Santiago Ruiz. Comprised of Alberino, Loureiro and Treixadura grapes, this one was a banger. The golden-green fluid seemed to propel itself high into the nasal cavities; no effort whatsoever was required to enjoy its citrus aromas. In the mouth, we got nectarine and mature white fruit, discovering secondary floral aromas along the way. To accompany we broke out a doorstop of lumpy cheese bought en route back to Barna. No information was available about this product (the French have a penchant for excluding such details from their packaging), but I can digress that it was so rich in creamy nutty flavour that it vanished in no time, rind and all.

Next up, a joint from Cotes de la Malepere whose name was Le Mas de Monpere, which caused minor confusion. Our Froggy guest of honour, Jerry McBerry suggested that Mas meant mast, as in ship, whereby Natalia the Catalana maintained that it was the same as the Catalan significance, meaning country house. Most saw that Natalia had logic on her side. Deep cherry red in colour, it reeked of forest fruits. The taste was quite different, surprisingly. Dry and spicy, this had been recommended without culinary accompaniment, which everyone agreed with. This granache noir was a burst of autumn flavour which I would thoughoughly recommend.

Tom brought out his piece de resistance following that: patates gratin dauphoise. Quite a simple dish, it was nice and heavy and had people fighting over the oven-browned topping. Together with that, a 2005 Domaine de Saint Guilhem from the AOC Fronton. Using the negrette grapes, this thing was deep burgundy in colour with a flourescent red surround. Toasted on the nose, the tasting stage divided opinion. So rich in tanins was this wine that some enlikened its texture to that of wool. Really long with hints of liquorice, I dug it, others never.

The two-course dessert rally started with a block of artisanal mint chocolate brought by Ominous K. I'd never considered mint with red wine before, so was eager to check out the second and final bouteille imported from the South-West of France. Folk were hoping for something lighter than the last tanin whirlpool, and got what they were after with the Chateau Laurou 2006, again from Fronton. This one was lighter and more translucent, and had a hint of vanilla on a sniff. It had a more fruity, Spanish character, and was well recieved.

By this point, the entire club were sporting false moustaches of varying colours and devouring their way through a couple of bars of ginger-flavoured chocolate simply named Sexy. Oh la la.

Mark Philip Dix I

Sunday, 7 December 2008


A notable producer from the Eastern Languedoc region of Faugeres.
An area that has a schist soil type which provides unique growing conditions for these dry white wines. Red and whites are grown here with the whites made out of traditional Rhone grape varieties such as Rousanne and in this case Marsanne. Often produced with an emphasis on oak aging and lots of malo fermentation to impart some texture.

Domaine Alquier Blanc, Faugères, 2005
Deep dark yellow in colour, this wine has a spicy oak nose
and a sturdy full bodied oaked palate with a fat nutty texture and generous long finish.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Mexican party

Mexicans at Bute Street, fajitas, quesadillas and tequila!
We also had incongruous bread and butter pudding and celebrated being together with some
Bottles of Champagne from the Cellar.
I feel that you should always have a reason for cracking open the Brut which we really


Two bottles

The Wine Societys Champagne NV (Alfred Gratien)
Light golden in colour with miniscule bubbles rising randomly.
Made in the famous region of Epernay and fermented in small oak barrels.
This imparts a delicous soft and deep nutty flavour with toasted caramel note and a long lasting finish.

Champagne Louis de Sacy NV

Understated light yellow in colour with a tight minerally nose. Elegant toasted oak a crisp citrus and sharp appley palate with an expressive savoury complexity.
80% single vineyard from la famille Sacy.
Superb and classic Champagne.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Brand new Beaujolais

"Beaujolais Nouveau Domaine Chantegrillet 2008

i bought this wine on impulse in the supermarket the other week. I had no idea when the Beaujolais Nouveau comes out but it turned out to have been just a few days before. Advice from North Yorkshire told me that it should be drunk now so i wasted no time this evening.

this wine is bright, direct and clear tasting.
the taste is so...simple that i cant really escribe it by comparison using the usual adjectives. its not acidic, theres a hint of fruit but the taste is just that of a straight up, honest and highly drinkable wine.

as a result of this freshness there isnt a cloying aftertaste and it is very drinkable.

Unfortunately due to this wine's qualities, there isn';t much I can say in words about it - it's better to drink it!

I bought this from Waitrose, so try there."

Monday, 1 December 2008

Vin de Pays

Im continuing with my winter whites and this is a decent everyday wine perfect for the cold. I started this at home and then took it to a Jacket Potato party down at some friends in Kelham Island.
Jackets and fillings were provided as promised and it was a lovely night. Such an excellent idea for a dinner party!
We ate very well, quickly got through this and also enjoyed a bottle of Rioja. Afterwards we stood on the balcony watching a heron fishing in the Don.

2007 Asda Extra Special Viognier (JC MAS) Vin de Pays
A sweet nose of tropical fruit, vanilla and cream with a fruity full bodied palate. This dry wine has a hint of spicy oak from the time spent fermenting in new oak barrels.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


fixed the rubbish problem of misaligned text since putting the new image up on the header.
Have also started thinking about hosting steelwine on a proper website, possibly using the expertise of my friends Nick and Silverstripe.


I might invert all my wine pictures from now on, i like it!

Starting to look at whites for the winter. Everyone talks about suitable reds to have on an evening in or for festive entertainment, but dont forget the lovely whites at this time of year!

Asda Extra Special Chardonnay (Domaine Paul Mas)

Light lemon in colour with rich sweet tropical buttery notes on the nose with a smooth, fat palate balanced with some pineapple acidity and a full bodied creamy finish.
A carefully produced and stylish french chardonnay traditionally aged in oak barrels.
A bargain.

The Fireman

Andy gave me the tip on this wine, he is a Spaniard at heart and we definitely share the love of all things Spanish. Many a car share trip are spent discussing fabulous spanish holidays and he has actually just come back from a trip to Tenerife!

2007 El Bombero D'O Carninena

Intense dark dark purple in colour
Powerful dark fruit and spice on the nose. A full bodied and complex wine with another element not unlike that ink aroma from fountain pens when i was at school! Strong ripe berry fruit dominated by liquorice and spice on the palate with powdery tannins and the hint of a hot sensation from the alcohol.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Church of the SubGenius Wine Club

Hi winos

Here's a long overdue blog about a club I started whose name takes its name from a religion that I have a vague interest in. The idea behind aligning a wine club with a parodical religion is two pronged. Firstly, I'd like to deride the belief that taking wine seriously need be a stuffy pursuit, berift of humour and inaccesible to Joe The Plumber. Secondly, the Church has about three holy days per month, which we mark by holding a wine tasting on said date.

I'd like to tell you about the names of the days but you should just check it out yourself:


Anyway, last night was the feast of The Feast of St Cthulhu. After the success of the feast of St Oliver the Manzee, I decided to set the theme as maridage, or the combination of wine and food for the enhanced enjoyment of each. Our friends Alex and Belen had us over after work and we got going.

I brought a Penedes Sauvignon Blanc that I'd copped from the Boqueria wine shop, which instantly impressed due to it's impressive label/collar booklet that straddled the neck of the bottle like a bib. On removing it, the most detailed notes you could ever wish for on the subject of this 2005 Tayaimgut Sant Joan de Mediona; from that year's weather to the dates the grapes were picked, from a table detailing the evolution of alcohol in the wine in contrast with its acidity. I doubt i'll ever get round to reading it all, but who knows.

I chose the wine on the basis of the pinxos I had brought to accompany. The smooth cream cheese, smoked salmon and caviar rendered the gob with just enough thirst to quaff the floral brew down at a rate that was no doubt influenced by the temperature of the wine an the wait for a late arrival that had preceeded. I think maybe we served it a little too cold, perhaps missing the nuances that could be found with more patience at drinky time.

The wait was worthwhile, indubitably. Trevor is definately a man who does his homework before these occasioons, but raised a couple of eyebrows with his selection of red coupage with seafood. The tipple, a 2005 Heretat Navas from Montsant, was a mix of garnacha (yum), mazuela, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Further inspection revealed that the label recommended it with, amongst other things, boiled fish, which supported what Trevor had been told by the lady from the shop near his Gracia home.

As it turned out, the meaty prawns lended themselves well to this jolly red, slightly chilled by un rato in la nevera. The wine felt spiced, a touch of cinnamon perhaps in there, but quite light. Alex the host definitely knew what he was doing when he threw some sage in the mix as we fried the crustaceans to warm them up, after Trevor had flash-boiled them at home. I think the introduction of comically long skewers that we were given to eat the blighters made me completely forget the tartare sauce that was supposed to be the final touch. Oh well.

In a display of proof that you needn't go to a specialist supplier to get good wine in Spain, Tom brought out the Senorio de Sarria, a Navarran crianza from 2004. Not many clues we to be found on the label as to its constitution, and I wouldn't like to guess for fear of being laughed off the wine blog by Wil the Wine Brain. We found it, however, earthy, with notes of blackberry, and maybe even blood: could that be the minerals? We subtitled the wine Assasination at the River Blackberry before getting stuck into more pinxos, this time of boquerones in vinegar and tinned roasted red peppers. Another winning duo: I think blue fish and light reds could be a goer.

Alex isn't going to get the credit he deserves for his selection at the bodega here just on account of his glorious racion of escabeche that he had prepared the night before. You have to up the recipe for yourselves, but you could easy get everything you need to make a really good and cheap dish like this in England. The joy in this oily treat was contrasted by the noticable high tanin content in the Clot Dels Homs 2004, a balsamic combination of Merlt and Cabernet Sauvignon, but divided opinion in terms of taste. Not everyone likes that desert mouth feeling you see. I thought it was great but may have been being contrary.

Alex also kept the whole affair classy with his selection of old and new vinyl that span on his lone Vestax, where most people would have a telly. (I'd say Blonde Redhead was the most memorable.) Belen tells me that because they don't have a goggle box, they make up stories and characters instead. During the night, loads of niknaks kept appearing: like a sequened skull cap, a naked-from-the-waist-down too-flat Ernie from Sesame Street, and toward the end of the night, three spring-loaded fighting Batman midgets.

Another SubGenius who likes to put a lot of thought into her selection is Belen. She had managed to find a grape with the same surname as her the last time (Prieto), and this time she brought a wine from the Toro region, as she's a Taurus. You see! To go with this 2005 Puertas Novas, she had some goat's cheese from the Pyranees. The wine had a stark prune element, with a black cherry aftertaste, and the cheese disappeared in absolutely no time. Simple pleasures.

Last of all, Clare uncorked a 2007 Crin Roja, a tempranillo from la Tierra de Castilla, not a recognised Denominacion de Origin, but I'm not sure you can always judge a wine by such details. This one was served up with some dark chocolate, which soothed the coffee and tabacco fire of this leathery nightcap.

Well, that's about it for today. It's really easy and rewarding to start your own wine gang, just make sure you've got enough glasses and if you've got more than seven guests, get two bottles of each.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Here is a funny picture of me with my first Jeroboam at Bibendum wine festival.
A jeroboam is an extra large bottle which holds the same as 4 normal wine bottles or two magnums. Sometimes also called a double magnum, its MASSIVE!
Large wine bottles are mainly used for parties and celebrations as they look really good and are good to share. Wine also ages better in large bottles due to less surface area exposed to light and oxygen.


Sitting in the kitchen yesterday listening to the spanish show on Sheffield Live!
Went up to Co op to get a bottle of Rioja as just what i fancied!
Couldnt believe it when i was asked for ID and wasnt served so had to go next door to threshers and ended up getting a rather better bottle than I was going to get.

2001 Campo Viejo Gran Reserva

Coming in a traditional spanish wire caged bottle, this aged Rioja from Campo Viejo had an extra long cork to help keep it in good condition over the long aging time.

Beautiful dark crimson colour fading at the edge. complex nose of concentrated fruit and secondary aromas of coffee, spice and a hint of sweetness like burnt toffee
or dark treacle smooth palate with an incredible lenghth. Highly oaked and smooth integrated tannins. A classic style of Rioja unlike my last Rioja post.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Warm drinks

It really has dropped in Sheffield. Proper ice on the roads at the moment
Here are some more drinks to get you going in the exceptionally cold weather.

Fentimans ginger beer
This fantastic traditional non alcoholic drink is a wonderfully strong and hot tasting spicy ginger pop with quite a bit of body and personality..

Whisky max
Rub together a shot of scotch with a mix of stones ginger wine.
A really lovely sweet spicy and warm cocktail mix that will take your eyebrows off!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

the cold and Rioja

Cold is creeping in. Today there was frost on my windscreen and there is frozen turf on our industrial estate here in Annesley!

The cold affects wine.

Red wine is generally best at room temperature and it now takes quite a while for bottles to warm up when fetched from my cellar.

I normally open and put the bottle next to the stove whilst we are making supper and by then it is ready to drink!

2006 Rioja Bodegas Palacio

A fantastic meaty and spicy Rioja yet it possesses a lightly oaked touch and a fresh fruity balance of acidity that makes it stand out as an elegant and modern style of Rioja.  Good for the winter cold and I could even suggest Rioja for a bonfire night wine?


Monday, 27 October 2008


After C90 on Friday, all a bit knackered, we rallied at Ambroses on the Saturday evening.

Tom, Ben and Ambrose mixed on the decks while we ate and drank. Nice to relax and catch up with them lot.

2005 Jon Josh Estate Chardonnay

Lovely, soft and well produced wine from upper Hungary.

A long history of wine making in Hungary dates back centuries.  They are most famous for the prestigious dessert wines of Tokaj although they also produce many other high quality wines using indigenous and foreign grapes with an emphasis on careful production.

There is lots of light sweet citrus fruit and mandarin on the nose with a lively fruit body and touch of vanilla oak on the palate.

This is a well balanced wine and a great lightly oaked chardonnay style.

Good wine to convert non chardonnay drinkers as it is very subtle with the oak, has a  touch of acidity is and not over oaked like some.

Excellent value and a nice choice from the

Friday, 24 October 2008

Bordeaux notes

Bordeaux notes

Have been trying to concentrate on Bordeaux recently.

Having tried various bottles in the last few weeks and fishing back in memory.  The wines that seem to be my favourite appear to come from the Haut Medoc.

Pauillac is just one of the many famous communes in this large area.  It produces well known Chateau Lafite and other top wines as well as the more affordable and popular

Chateau Lynch Bages and Chateau Haut-Batailley, both worth looking out for.  Would love to visit Bordeaux and tour this area. Maybe next year at vintage release time in April?

Steelwine 4 ever!

Please find a few of my discoveries which I think are gorgeous!

2004 Chateau Pomies d‘Agassac Cru Bourgeois

Gently fading crimson brick red in colour.

Slightly perfumed delicate cedar wood oaked nose of red fruits, soft and warm with an excellent fleshy texture, big body and a clinging savoury licquoice finish.

Chateau Maucamps Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2003

From a very hot vintage, Rich fruit and dark treacle on the nose with herbs and mint to complement the dark fruits. The fleshy palate is full of layered fruit and is very smooth with a well rounded texture

Excellently rich and opulent wine to savour.

Monday, 20 October 2008

wine and withnail

Watched Withnail and I at the cinema last weekend. Very funny film and great to see it late at night with some friends at the Showroom cinema.

Its a great film and involves lots of drinking.  At the start they run short.

 We just ran out of wine. What are we gonna do about it?

The pair are very demanding in a small Penrith café.

 We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!

The character uncle monty clearly has a love for vintage wine as he proclaims often and at the end of the film Withnail is drinking 1953 Margaux from the bottle.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Party in Silkstone

Drank lots of different wine at Margaret and Jims fondue party last night.
Started off with a very nice Chateauneuf Du Pape,
then an Australian Shiraz Cabernet,
a Polish wine which was unfortunately spoilt!,
then a Spanish wine from Navarra,
and the highlight of the night was an incredible Amarone della Valpolicella, such a deep rich concentrated beast. So smooth.
After the fondue we retired to Jims bar for a pint of john smiths and an Irish Coffee!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Derbyshire Sparkling wine

Sheffield has a champagne bar. Its on ecclesall road above an old plumbing shop near the Porter Brook.
Not a bad place for a celebration with ice filled tables to sit around and put in your chilled magnum.
The opening night was really fun with delicous ham hock canapes and a jazzanova saxophonist.
Fantastic range of champagnes including back vintages of Krug and some english sparking wines from Bacchus Kent.

2006 Renishaw Estate Sparkling Wine
Extraordinary aromatic elderflower and floral blossom on the nose with an off dry palate of soft mandarin citrus fruit. A great summer sparkling wine!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008


My Birthday last week and we enjoyed a lovely meal at Casanovas in Crookes.‬‪Nice to spend some time with close friends and celebrate my 29th Birthday.‬‪As a nice surprise my father rang the restaurant ahead and ordered some wine so that it was waiting for us on the table when we arrived!
 Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 1999
 Beautiful thick dark black cherry in colour with intense and concentrated black fruits, and brandy fruitcake on the nose.‬‪Rich, smooth but strong on the palate with delicious smooth ripe fruit a touch of sweetness and mellow tannins from the time spent maturing  in oak barrels and the unusual  vinification which involves leaving the grapes out to partially dry on straw mats in the Italian sunshine before starting the fermentation.‬‪Excellent and great for a celebration.‬‪89/100 (£35 at Casanova, Crookes)‬‪‬‪‬‪‬‪‬

Thursday, 2 October 2008


A student took my leather coat as I strolled in off the mall to this amazing showcase tasting at the Institue of Contemporary Arts in London (search for IWSC to see all the results). Such an excellent place to host a do and a privelege to visit!
I spent a few hours here tasting through the trophy winning wines from the International Wine and Spirits Competition. I picked some favourites and discussed them with various groups of people at the event. There was a great cheese table which I didnt miss out on at all, making sure that I filled up on Stilton and Brie!
Brief highlights as they were presented, from the many..proper tasting notes later.

Excellent Australian Shiraz from Wirra Wirra and Moppity, great Brunello and A lovely Amarone which we drank lots of with the Stilton! Refined 1995 Rioja from Campillo, An elegant Grand Cru Chablis, aged South African Chenin, fabulous New Zealand Gewurtztraminer and Rieslings. I didnt have a chance to foray into the spirits room. I had my fill, what a fantastic day!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Just feel it

I went to London today to attend the IWSC showcase tasting at the ICA and also the Bibendum Winestock trade tasting.
Why do I need this big car? Well this is what I'm going to need to transport my magnums of Krug around with me man!
I'm going to drink it with my toast for breakfast, I'll sip it with my lunch cob at work, I'll drench my glass with it for supper and I'll have it instead of cocoa as a bedtime drink.
Yes! Krug 1981 Collection is not a bad tipple!
More details on each event soon enough. It was very fun and there was a good mixture of wines across many varieties and price ranges.. I'm too worn out after tasting all this. Home to bed and I've got work tomorrow.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Cave de la Tour

Above is the fantastic wine shop that was located opposite our hotel in the old town (Vieux Nice) nestling underneath the castle park and across from the Promenade des Anglais.
Business was in full swing at 9.30am with customers filling up the tables inside and out. We had our breakfast on the pavement opposite the place and it was fascinating to watch people humming in and out tasting, sampling and buying loads of wine. The shop specialised in Côtes de Provence wines and obviously had a loyal following from punters and also larger scale restaurant buyers.
This made me realise just how amazing the wine culture is in France.
I have never been to a wine shop like it and have also never actually even thought about drinking it at such an hour!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The 28th Annual Catalan Wine and Cava Show

Despite having lived in Barcelona for a good three years now, I feel a little ashamed to write that my recent visit to the 28a Mostra De Vins i Caves de Catalunya was my first. Needless to say, I took advantage this time around and would like to report on what I have seen, smelt and tasted this week.

A little contextualisation: this event takes place every year, coinciding with the week-long celebrations in honour of the city's patron saint, la Merce. Anyone who has visited Barcelona sicnce 1992 will recognise the venue, on the harbour, in between the flashy leisure centre on the artificial marina and Passieg de Colon, right under the chirpy gaze of the happy bronze lobster sculpture.

I was delighted to find out that my seven euros were good for ten wine tokens, but my mood was slightly dampened when I saw that wine cost between two and four tokens for a glass. Still, I got to keep the glass as a souvenier, etched as it was with the logo and date of the event. I was able to procure three: let's see how long I can keep them without smashing them.

Over two visits I had a taste of eleven wines. I didn't fancy any cava, you'll have to check back next year for my bubbly report. So anyway, here are the highlights of what I drank and what I thought.

Starting off with ''Francoli'', from the Castell D'Or co-op. I went for a wine from this region as it was where I first lived when I came to Spain, and where I spent my first three summers. The Conca de Barbera is set amongst a picturesque range of peaks, and whose inland location in Tarragona mean hot summer days, chilly nights and above average rainfall. A 2007 white made from the parellada and macabeu varieties, it is really pale with a floral nose. It has a strong, quite acidic attack, with apple and peach competing for superiority in the retro-nasal stakes. This wine is long for a young wine and great for a hot and sunny day, which it wasn't.

Obviously Penedes was well represented amongst the 30-or-so wine stalls. Capita Vidal had one of the wider varieties, and charming staff into the bargain. I can't stress how much I think that this affects the enjoyment of wine: a serf dishing out Vina Sol at Torres does very little to convince punters of the wine's qualities, and therefore not much is expected of their wares. Anyway, I tried a Blanc de Blancs at this stall, made from macabeo, xarel.lo, parellada and muscat. It had a greeny gold appearance and a hint of pink grapefruit after an initial whifter. Further investigation revealed apple and strawberry notes in a refreshing glass of wine, with perhaps a hint of caramel in there somewhere. Smooth and easily chugged I'd say.

Okay, one more white to mention, this one from Maset de Lleo, again in Penedes. Also going by the handle Blanc de Blancs, this line was made up totally from xarel.lo, which is normally used for making cava. I really dig this grape variety, but hadn't known such a floral fragrance before. I got nettles and heather. I was expecting, but nevertheless pleased with its bitter attack which contrasts with a honey-sweet retro-nasal. Mmm.

How a about una copa de tinto? Cellar Batea, from the D.O. Terra Alta, had a right cocktail of varieties making up its Vallmajor. I'm not sure about the proportions, but there was garnatxa, merlot, syrah, tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon up in there, and for a young wine, it was fairly complex. A deep purple-red, there were mature red fruits in the bouquet and taste. It was strong in flavour and long in enjoyment.

Okay, one more before I'm out. Ipsis is a bodega from Tarragona, from which I tried a 2006 crianza of ull de llebre (Catalan tempranillo) and garnaxa. It isthe colour of badly bruised strawberries and smells of burnt oak, it has a definate cinammon raspberry in its attack, with a peppery finish. This could have been my find of the week.

I can't wait til next year, when I'll be camping out, or maybe hiring a boat alongside the port.

Mark P.D. I

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Cotes du Rhone

Went for a lovely walk up to Crookes Bole Hill and back through Crosspool. A nice way to relax after stressful days at work and good time to chat about the future.
Back home I really felt like a decent glass of wine!
Decided to open a bottle that I brought back from Provence.
2006 Chateau Pesquie terrasses
Inky black purple in colour, this spicy and heavily oaked wine has a really powerful intensity of colour and depth. A strong nose of blackberry fruit with a spicy meaty aroma.
On the palate there is thick dark fruit with bbq charred meat hints and a full structure with strong tannins.
The finish is very long lasting and satisfying!
Typical of the hot southern Rhone area of Cotes du Ventoux AOC
The Pesquie vineyard is built upon terraces dug into the steep hills.
Wines have been produced in this southern french area since 30AD!!!


Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Wine glasses

As soon as we have some new wine glasses, I will be able to post some more notes!
We have some small Spanish wine tumblers which are lovely with thin walls and a thin bottom. Just the thing for vino tinto and some tapas but really it is not the same as drinking out of a proper glass!
We should be having some nice new glasses delivered fairly soon and I can't wait to open some bottles that we just brought back from Provence!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Rose in Provence

What a brilliant place to go on holiday! I can just imagine the life of a playboy Russian oil heir kicking it back here all summer.

Rose accounts for the majority of wines produced in Provence and it is claimed to have been born here! The lovely mediterranean climate is very warm in the summer growing season and fairly mild in winter with many vineyards favourably situated on slopes up in the hills.

Main grape varieties used here are Mouvedre, Grenache and Cinsault

2007, Domaine de jas d'escalans

Appellation cotes du provence controlee 2007

I love provence rose, very light, faint pink in colour and high in spritzy acidity with citrus fruit on the nose and redcurrant and tart red fruit on the palate! Refreshingly balanced wine with short sharp finish.

Typically served in pichets of quarter/half or full bottles and is poured like all wines here in tulip shaped provence rose glasses.

Here is me on the beach at Menton shortly before going for a dip!

A Votre Sante!

Friday, 12 September 2008

vdp Var

Vin de pays du var

The var departement is located inland in the centre of Provence and is surrounded by mountain ranges which give the area a unique climate.

Anna and I sauntered up to a little restaurant in the Parc du mercantour village of saorge after a nice walk along the GR52a.

We ordered a demi pichet of vin du pays du var rouge to go with the menu du jour Saorgien.

Dark deep red in colour with a very aromatic nose and a gamay like bubblegum fruityness.

Full bodied with a high amount of acid on the palate but suprisingly good red to drink in hot weather.

Available in Nicolas

Tuesday, 9 September 2008


Muscadet Sur Lie.
Muscadet is a typical choice for fish dishes and this was the perfect
accompaniment to our massive fruits de mer platter in Menton. A
charming little resort town just around the corner from Monaco.
A lovely bay with amazingly coloured azure sea and pebble beaches
complete with diving platforms.
Muscadet sur lie
Citrus and straw on the nose with a rocky mineralic hint.
On the palate this was mineralic and very dry with a sharp finish.


Friday, 5 September 2008

Babich Syrah

Drank this at Adrian and Lynnes with all the family. A nice meal before the hectic few days to come.
2006 Babich Syrah, Hawkes BayDark purple red with a powerful nose of black cherry and blackberry and
a slightly smoky spicy edge to the palate along with lovely ripe fruit
and a liqourice like tannin backbone.
A really lovely New Zealand Syrah from the Hawkes Bay.
They are full of regional terroir which I can now detect having lived in the area for some time last year!
Makes me want to go back!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Champagne on the moor

Drank two bottles of Champagne last weekend as part of my stag pre wedding celebrations!
Enjoyed sharing the weekend with some close friends on a cycling trip round the peak district.
This bottle we drank in a field on the way to supper just as it was getting dark.
Champagne is great to open and I really enjoyed popping the cork this time! The noise and froth really conjures up good cheer and spirit. Well we were jolly!

Thursday, 28 August 2008


Drank a bottle of Ribera del Duero last night at a tapas restaurant in Sheffield with Anna, Chris, Toni and Ronny. It was all you can eat for ten pounds.
My first drop of wine from this region so very excited.
An area not as famous as Rioja which everyone has heard of, yet there are some very famous and expensive wines produced here just up the river from the famous port producing areas of Douro.
2004 Portia Ribera del Duero
Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. The wine we tried was a nice dark black cherry red in colour with rich dark fruit flavours and complexity added from the considerable time spent in american oak barrels. The bottle aging has been well spent and the result is a very smooth wine with great savoury length.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Gamay is a vigorously growing grape variety and is highly acidic unless it is carefully crafted by the winemakers. The grape is used to make Beaujolais and is suited to similar growing conditions as Pinot Noir. I can't wait for November to come round and the latest batch of Beaujolais Noveaus 2008 being released!

2007 Vin De Pays De L'Ardeche
Cave De Saint Desirat
Brilliant value easy summer drinking. A pale purple colour with a strong and very characterful aroma of bubblegum, plasticine, jam and soft fruits. A highly aromatic red wine on the palate as well- the soft and light body gives way to refreshing bite.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Good Viognier.

Viognier is a fairly unusual grape and is not really drank in large quantities The best known area for fine Viognier is Condrieu in the Rhone Valley although very good examples are also produced in New Zealand and Australia. Im a great fan of Viognier and I have been drinking it with my dad.

2006 Saint Ferreol Viognier

This is excellent with a really high extract of flavour and body but with a touch of citrus acidity to liven it up. Rich luscious melon and a honeyed aroma with rich full bodied and smooth palate. The rich and creamy texture comes from the battonage stirring and french barrel aging used in the winemaking and it is well balanced with medium acidity and nectarine fruit. Very high quality wine.

BBR 94/100

Friday, 22 August 2008

Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde, a region producing red and white wines but mainly famous for the refreshing whites.
On a memorable sailing trip in Portugal sailing from Faro to Lisbon, we stopped off at lovely little ports along the coast drinking lots of vinho verde with sardines.

2007 Quinta Azevedo
Single estate Vinho Verde.
Lovely Aromatic and refreshing summer white.
Clean and clear white With a slight fizz and a touch of citrus, green apple like acidity.
on the nose there is lime, grapefruit and pears with a slight floral perfume.
There is crisp finish to this elegant wine.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Visit to expensive wine shop

In Sheffield there is an interesting little wine shop which seems to do most if not all of its reselling to extreme wine buffs and wealthy people as well as overseas and it even advertises quite a lot on wine searcher.
The small selection of wines that they have on offer are all absolute bombs from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Ribera del Douro, Barolo just for some
examples. I mean really, they had all the first growth Bordeauxs and incredible Burgundies including Lalou Leroy. Amazing to see all the priceless wines sourced from this little shop. One of the two partners, Adrian was very able to describe the
greatness of some of these bottles to me, although there was no tasting to be had, obviously im not drinking from these shelves!
I came away feeling a little strange about the experience. Maybe I will go to one of their many organised tasting evenings.
I fancy the Pinot Noir and Riesling one, although I will be away then so cant.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

broken bottle

We all went to the Kabal vs Scuba Where house party last night.
An excellent music event at a disused office building in the centre of Shef. Two rooms of music with plenty of area to hang around with friends and talk.
An online apology to Megan here. Sorry Megan. I dropped her bottle of Chasse du pape Chardonnay Viognier while attempting to open it in a very half baked way! All that was left was a few dregs which we drank from a mug.

Friday, 15 August 2008

06 Alana Estate Pinot Noir

A barbeque evening. Layed a blanket down on the lawn and tried to make the most of the sunshine as it retreated. We had jo round and tried to watch a film on my laptop. Half way through the power went off and I spent ages fixing it.

06 Alana Estate Pinot Noir
A clear but dark colour in the glass and quite full bodied. Fresh and crisp on the palate with intense savoury character and a smooth long finish. This wine comes from Martinborough and you can notice the New Zealand famous fully ripened fruit and sweet savoury elements from the area.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

white wedding wine

Home and wedding wine
Great to be back at home with the family and great to see everyone again.
Dad is currently drinking lots of Rhone Viognier which is great.
Viognier is a grape that I drank quite a lot of in New Zealand, one memorable wine was a luscious and rich example from Trinity Hill, Hawkes Bay.
Dad has chosen a Rhone Viognier for our wedding white wine. We have tasted this and it is superb. Will post a description when we have tried it on the day!

06 Firesteed Pinot Noir

Ambrose had me round to tea. I was very glad to be invited over as our kitchen is currently in a state of pigsty chaos . We are as a result unable to feed ourselves anything warm.
We had a nice evening, and i picked up some things from the supermarket on the way over.
Bought this bottle from a great wine shop in Leeds.
As you will find out in this blog, I have an affection for Pinot Noir and this was my first taste of a wine from Oregon.
Oregon is on a favourable lattitude for growing Pinot Noir, just the same as both Burgundy in France and Central Otago, New Zealand.

Firesteed pinot noir 2006

Lovely light red colour in the glass,
soft red fruits on the nose with a gentle coffee aroma. On the palate, the wine is soft with
balance raspberry and cherry notes and a lovely balanced liquourice savour nature.
Excellent, gold quality Oregon wine.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Cotes du ventoux

A family event took us to London where we had a fantastic time watching Romeo and Juliet and enjoying a lovely meal at the Wallace collection.
Top wine for me during the meal was a bottle of Cote du ventoux 2006. A sophisticated Rhone village wine with great depth of Blackberry and dark fruits with a subtle spiciness and great length.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Berry Bros

This is one of the must visit places in London for a wine drinker.
They keep the wine in famous Georgian Vaulted wine cellars deep underneath the shop in St James and they stretch right
under the street. Very intrerested in this, I attempted to visit these cellars, but upon visiting the shop I came across
stringent rules forbidding access to the public.
It was a shame as you can imagine I had visions of me wandering the georgian cellars admiring the dusty vintages, but
instead we had to point at bottles from inside display cases in their shop.
The shop is still lovely with sloping irregular floors and a tiny gothic shop front on St James. Maybe next time I willring ahead and request a tour of the cellars with a member of staff.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Wedding Burgundy

Spoke to my mum at the weekend and have found out that dad has chosen a Burgundy for our red wedding wine. I think it is from the little village of Fixin in the Cote de Nuits. Had a little look in the Guide Hachette and there are some great
sounding estates there so very excited to try it!