Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Challenging Behaviour

So far this week, I've tasted at least 100 wines a day. But I couldn't tell you what they are. Seriously. Each one is covered in a bag, you see. Then, together with a team of professional winos, I taste and score the wines based on quality. The best ones will emerge with an International Wine Challenge medal and we'll come back to those when the results come out. But in the meantime, here's what I've learnt so far this week.

1. Brangelina aside, rose wine is getting way more interesting. And paler. Hooray for pale & interesting.
2. Like Clooney, Semillon from Australia's Hunter Valley region definitely gets better with age.
3. The Nebbiolo grape, the one that's behind Italy's Barolo wines, is popping up everywhere.
4. Really good dry Riesling makes me want to do a little dance.
5. Really bad French red doesn't.
6. There are lots more wines from Brasil heading our way. Something to do with a World Cup.
7. Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Bulgaria's wines are getting better every year.
8. Peru's got a way to go, though.
9. If I could, I'd drink a small glass of slightly chilled aged tawny port every single day.
10. After a full day's tasting, I'd rather have a cup of tea and an early night than paint the town red, white or rose nowadays.  

I'll be back with wine recommendations next week but in the meantime, here's a little film made by the kind people behind The Alan Titchmarsh Show. A little show(off) reel, as it were, of me talking about wine. Or sometimes just talking.

Peace out, winos x

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Drinking From The Bottle

Today, I have mostly been drinking from the bottle. Of Pholcodine, that is. What started as a sore throat is now a cold which, seeing as I taste wines for a living, is a bit of a bugger. So I'm throwing linctus (horrible word, almost as bad as moist) at the problem. That and a glass of red wine, of course. I'm not that ill. In other news, Masterchef is back. As you all know, I'm a close personal friend of John Torode (not. Read my John Torode story here). So it was with fire lit, kids in bed, and glass of red to hand I settled down to watch it. And felt much, much better. Just wish I didn't have jump up and cross my legs every time I sneezed.

Current white in the fridge: Zenato Villa Flora Lugana, £9.49, Waitrose
You know how I feel about Italian whites (mostly: yes please). This one, made from the Trebbiano grape, comes from vineyards on the southern shore of Lake Garda. See, even the sound of that makes you want to go on holiday, right? Anyway, in the glass it's all apple and pear fruit flavours, along with something that's just the right side of slightly nutty. Doesn't need food but made my leftover mashed potato and spring green 'hash' taste not quite so hashed. 

Current red in the rack: Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel 2011, £9.99, Tesco
Made from old vines (not sure quite how old but I'm guessing more than 40yo, because if they class 40yo vines as old, I'm not sure I can buy this one anymore). And it's a blend of (mostly) Zinfandel and Petite Syrah grapes, grown in California's Lodi Valley. It's a fruit bomb, with almost indecent amounts of blackberry, smoky oak and spice. Oh, and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. 14.5%, roughly speaking. Any more than two glasses of this and I too will be roughly speaking. Lovely in small doses, though. 

Peace out, winos x

Friday, 28 March 2014

Camping Wine

Look! KMWC at Camp Bestival! I'm so excited. You must ALL come. Details here

Current white in the fridge: Tesco Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2012, £7.99, Tesco
Earlier this evening, someone on Twitter asked me for an emergency wine recommendation. She needing something crisp and cool, and she needed it pronto. I suggested this, knowing how good the open bottle in my fridge was. And she's just tweeted to say it absolutely, completely hit the spot. Job done. Made from the Picpoul grape in the Languedoc Roussillon region in southern France, this has restorative powers. And it can perk up a simple stir fry no end. 

Current red in the rack: Seleccion Especial Numerada 1 2009, £10.50, Laithwaites
Last night was not so much click & collect and clink & connect. It was book club night and I was in desperate need of a few hours with friends and a glass of wine. I hadn't read the book. "This is not a supper club" said Madeleina*. "Yes it is", replied Denny** and I in unison. She's only ever finished two books and we've been going for years. Anyway, I took a bottle of this, sent to me by Laithwaites. It's made by a big name but sold under this label on condition the source remains anonymous. A black fruit-flavoured, toasty oaky Tempranillo-based Rioja dream. And from a great vintage, too. 

Peace out, winos x

*her book club name
**her real name (she's a realist)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Potty Trainers

I like to think I keep up with the trends OH MY GOD I SOUND LIKE MY MOTHER. Anyway, as I was saying, I read the fashion pages in the paper, follow a few blogs, feel like I have a rough idea of what's hot and what's not (as they say). So when I decided to buy a pair of summery trainers, I had a look around online and my head nearly exploded. Everything is neon. And looks like you actually have to do some sort of exercise. Either that or I have to own a skateboard, apparently. Maybe I'll skip straight to the Birkenstocks. With toes painted an unexpected pastel shade, of course.

Current white in the fridge: Balland-Chapuis Coteaux du Giennois 2012, £7.99 on offer, Waitrose
If you like the almost punishing purity of Sancerre, this is definitely worth a go. Made in the relatively new Coteaux du Giennois appellation just north of the Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume regions and, like its famous neighbours, made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. With trademark gooseberry and lime characters, this is racy stuff at a really good price. A glass of this with my cobbled together chicken salad was manna from heaven (or rather, Waitrose). 

Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Stellenbosch Red 2011, £9.99, Tesco
This really is an amazing wine. Made in South Africa, it's a so-called Bordeaux blend made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Although funnily enough not that many blends made in Bordeaux use all of these grapes at the same time nowadays. Anyway, this throw-it-all-in approach has really worked. There's a ton of bramble fruit in the glass, with a whiff of toast and vanilla thanks to time spent in oak barrels. Mellow, man. Saw us through a gloriously long lunch with the in-laws on Sunday. 

Peace out, winos x