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Threshers 2008 Money Off Voucher (3)
AL Cundy wrote: Is there another offer for after the 13th April?... [read more]

Notes from a Laithwaites Tasting (5)
Tom wrote: Laithwaites wines overpriced! I don't believe it! ;-) ... [read more]

What Food With A Gewürztraminer? (4)
Wide-Body wrote: Might I also suggest spicy Tex-Mex. I'm always surprise... [read more]

Cellar Cal Pla Mas D'En Compte Blanco, 2006, Priorat, Spain (3)
wine club wrote: my favorite wine of all time nice crisp texture... [read more]

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Cellar Cal Pla Mas D'En Compte Blanco, 2006, Priorat, Spain

Pla Mas DEn Compte Blanco
The New Wave Spanish Wine Awards highlighted many a bottle that I wanted to sample. So far however just one has come under my scrutiny - the Mas D'en Compete Blanco and that was a previous vintage to the 2006 harvested winning wine. Who could not be seduced by a tasting note that reads
"Full, rich concentrated and creamy with a succulent tropical nose. Harmonious, powerful, fresh, complex palate overlaid with well-tailored oak and a racy elegance on the finish"?

The 2006 is now listed by Jeroboams, for it was this vintage that one the Best White over £10 award and the accolade of best wine of show. And damn delicious it is too.

They were a bit vague on the grape components that were squeezed into this wine - a little Grenache Blanca perhaps? Bourboulenc? Picpoul? A little Viognier or Muscatel? You could be talking southern France rather than Spain!*

What I do know though is that this is a delicious wine that will be gracing my table this Christmas - the fresh tang on the finish makes this a superb food wine.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Mas D'En Compte Blanco, 2005, Priorat, Spain.
Stockist: Jeroboams Price: £19.95 [More: Adegga / Snooth]

A stunning aroma - aromatic, flora hints, a 'coolness'. The palate, perfectly balanced, offers texture and layers of flavour in abundance. Lemon, white blossom, spice and hints of apricot, orange and vanilla. The acidty adds a little raciness on the finish. Alcohol 13.5%.

Scribblings Rating - 96/100 [4.5 out of 5]

* The Jeroboams website gives specific details that the shop staff did not - Garnacha Blanca 50%, Picapoll Blanco 20%, Pansa (/Xarel-lo) 15% Macabeo 15%.

Corked Wine...

Wizard of Id
More Wizard of Id from

Wine 2.0

wine bottle
My humble wine 'collection' has been located in various places. It has been crammed into a 1930's cocktail cabinet, lain on a dust attracting bookshelf and stuffed under the bed. Presently it occupies a large brown box in a very inconvenient location next to the dining table. It props up the internet server and the telephone, nicely mind.

You can surmise that my wine cellar is not what you could call large. Rivalry abounds amongst wine bloggers on the size of their collection. Several weeks ago I enjoyed a rather delicious and entertaining dinner in Windsor with two such bloggers (Rob of the Wine Conversation and the diminutive American blogger Joe of 1WineDude. Each had hundreds of wines between them gracefully laid in purpose built cellars and racks. I came clean and owned up to the (pitiful) number of wines in my cellar - ten, ten individual bottles.

You can't count yourself a wine lover without a substantial collection of wine - Rieslings from obscure Mosel estates, personal discoveries from the depths of the Languedoc, a couple of 'special' cases picked up while touring Tuscany or prized icons from California or Australia - all should have a place in your racks. Well they aren't in mine.

Actually I do have an icon wine, a bottle of Penfolds Grange picked up for a song. It retails for over £100 these days but I brought a single bottle for £45. My brown box also houses three bottles of port, a posh bottle of something white from Alsace, three different clarets, a bottle of Sauternes and a sweet white fortified oddity from South Africa. Hardly something to impress a fellow wine aficionado.

The reason is simple. I just cannot keep wine for very long. A bottle on a rack is just screaming to meet Mr. Corkscrew. Impoverishment also rules out the purchase of cases of wines that benefit from extended ageing. A majority of wines I buy or are sent as samples are designed to be drunk within a year or two anyway.

It seems hardly worth recording this little collection but blogger talk invariably moves from friendly size-boasting to cellar management systems.

The ability to store and compare drinking experiences and recommend that a specific wine is ready to drink is one of the delights in using a common wine database alongside other enthusiasts. If I want to check if my solitary bottle of Grange is ready to be opened or destined for another year or two in the box then a quick perusal of one of the online cellar management systems available should supply all the info I need. Some of these systems even link direct to merchant websites enabling a 'cellar top-up' with just a couple of mouse clicks. Deep joy.

I picked on Adegga and Snooth to link to via Spittoon you can tell they are at the cutting edge of geekdom by their made-up web 2.0 names.

Adegga is run by a team based in Portugal; who tell me that a new, more modern design is imminent. Adegga is pushing a universal numbering system for wines. So the delicious Hugel Tradition Gewurztraminer 2006 is AVIN8979734608252. Not something that trips of the tongue but aims to be the book categorization standard of the wine world. The system hooks into various blogs, mine included, to automatically update its database with new notes and ratings.

Snooth is a similar system, run from California by an Englishman but comes with a more funky design. It is grappling with the complexities of world-wide currencies but is generally more dollar-focused.

The benefit of these systems linking in with wine merchants (you can also leave reviews and experiences of merchants) is great when, say, a recommendation for a South African Sauvignon from someone in Hong Kong can link you quickly to a UK website to buy your own stocks (hence the attraction of all to use Adegga's AVIN numbering system). Sadly though not many UK merchants, although the list is growing, seem to have picked up on this obvious and free sales line.

All well and good for the geeky wine lover but do more general wine drinkers actually use these internet platforms to find, locate and record wine purchases and cellar contents? More to the point does anyone actually have a cellar that needs recording?

Threshers 2008 Money Off Voucher

Seeing as there are 8 people viewing the older Threshers Voucher pages on Spittoon as I type I thought a quick post of the new money off voucher was in order.

I wasn't going to bother seeing as its been printed in various national newspapers and other websites and the focus of Spittoon has changed a little over the year... but here you go...

UPDATE: Latest 40% Off voucher pre-Valentines February 2009 .

UPDATE: Latest Voucher 40% Off Wine and Champagne valid until April 13th 2009 - click the image.

San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva 2004, Tuscany, Italy

San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva 2004
Its a struggle drinking Chianti without food; insufferable punishment on the taste buds in fact. That sharp, acidic, slightly earthy finish is how the wine is supposed to taste but it's a struggle to consume more than a glass. Rasping if you are subjected to a poor quality bottle.

Add food and it's like drinking a different wine.

But, I hear the masses yell, that is what Chianti is designed for - drinking with food. It is like a television without an aerial; you can use it but it just doesn't work very well. You know you are missing out on the bigger picture.

Two bottles of this rather decent Chianti have been consumed over the last few days. A Sunday roast of beef and Yorkshires was fine. Further complexity was revealed in the flavour but there remained something lacking.

What the roast lacked was the sweet acidity of tomatoes to balance. Step forward a superbly thrown together lasagne. Combining mince beef, plenty of fresh parsley, a splash of red and a tin of chopped Italian tomatoes the wine shone like a beacon . The wines refreshing acidity makes it all the more drinkable. (I'm also thinking lamb would have been a better match, over beef, with the wines acidity cutting through the inherent fat beautifully).

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva, 2004, Tuscany, Italy
Stockist: Everywine £257 for 12, Italian Wine Society £15.19 £182.28 for 12 [More on Adegga / Snooth]

A richness of dark cherry fruit leads into a twist of acidic bitterness on the finish. Smooth and robust with hints of leather and mixed herbs. but shines with food. Shown to both Slavonian and French oak barrels which adds complexity. 100% Sangiovese. Alcohol 13%.

Scribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

A homemade lasagne - superb with Chianti

Notes from a Laithwaites Tasting

A few wine notes from Laithwaites
Not something you read about much are the wines of Laithwaites, despite being one of the largest wine retailers in the UK. They offer wines under the laithwaites brand, The Sunday Times Wine Club, Direct Wines and the Nectar Wine Club amongst others. They delivered a mammoth 56 million bottles of wine across the UK during the last 12 months.

A little tasting a few weeks back (I'm falling behind with my note writing!), in the high Victorian Gothic splendours of Oxford Town Hall (such a welcome change from having to trundle all the way to the metropolis), offered a just under 30 wines from the companies range.

A vast majority of the wines offered are own label - just a smattering from well known names (Cloudy Bay, Royal Tokaji, Hunters for example) appear on their list. The company owns a Chateau in Bordeaux where many staff are sent to learn the intercacies of wine making. Visiting a vineyard and winery is an amazing experience and really brings home the connection between land and final product.

Shame then that the Laithwaite Sauvignon Blanc (£7.89) from this estate, Chateau La Clarière was one of the worst wines available at the tasting. Perhaps they should send me a bottle to try for the girls running the tasting were hugely enthused by it and their experiences of visiting the estate, but my notes read slightly over extracted, harsh nose, sharp acidic finish.

But other drinks were more palatable:

Champagne/Sparkling Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Alessandro Gallici Prosecco Brut, NV, Vino Spumante, Italy.
Price: £8.89 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Gentle nose, vibrant fizz (like you were expecting something else?), frothy, fun. Tranch of peachy, appley, fruit. Good price. Alcohol 11.5%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Royal Tokaji Dry Furmint, 2006, Hungary.
Price: £10.69 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
An unusual wine with which to tempt the masses; I imagine trying is the best way to sell this (there was a wine club tasting, with the same wines as offered to me occurring simultaneously in an adjacent room) . No nose but an interesting array of flavours on the palate - clean, minerally, citrus, slightly honeyed, apricoty.

Rose Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Rocky Rombola Rosé, 2008, New South Wales, Australia
Price: £6.29 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Delicious looking colour, vibrant. Very Aussie in style, ripe fruit, full, good price. A freshness and vibrancy (that were lacking in a couple of other rosés at the tasting). Along with the fruitiness there is a nice, sharp berry edge on the finish. Alcohol 13%. £6.29.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Gran Valle de Niebla Pinot Noir, 2007, Rapel, Chile
Price: £9.15 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
From the reliable Cono Sur stable. Easy drinking, soft, but over-priced. Alcohol 13.5%.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Stony Creek Tarrango Shiraz, 2006, Big Rivers, Fleurieu & Gundagai, Australia
Price: £7.39 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
An interesting blend (70% Tarrango, 30% Shiraz) Light and fruity almost pinot in style. Tarrango on the nose, Syrah on the finish. Offers a juicy softness. Alcohol 13%. £7.39.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Tenca Tree Shiraz , 2007, Central Valley, Chile
Price: £6.29 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Deep,almost opaque in colour. Good blackberry spiced nose and decent spicy finish. Commercial,soft but nice expression. Alcohol 13%.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: San Floriano Ripasso, 2005, Valpolicella Classico Superiore, Italy
Price: £11.39 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
The best red of the tasting - lovely palate, and rich, expressive nose. Plenty of tannins, concentration and ripe, stewed fruit. Good length. Alcohol 13.5%.

Cider Review/Tasting NoteCider Tasting Note: Cidre Artisanal Le Brun Brut, NV, Cidre de Bretagne, France
Price: £4.29
Not really a cider fan but this is rather nice - not 'dirty; as some ciders can be on the nose, not to alcoholic either (which is the normal region I dislike cider). Alcohol 5.5%. Sweetish fruit, dry finish £4.29.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Miranda Golden Botrytis, NV, Riverina, Australia
Price: £11.15 half bottle [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A mix of Riverina Semillon and King Valley Riesling. Fresh, treacle and orange syrup nose. Rich, full, sweet, mouth-filling, ripe and good complexity for the price. Alcohol 10%.

Many years ago I was interviewed for a job at Laithwaites essentially writing the (prodigiously large and frequent) mailing material; much to their loss I didn't get the job!

What Food With A Gewürztraminer?

Espiritu de Chile Gewurztraminer
A combination cited as a classic food and wine combination is Munster cheese with Gewürztraminer. But how many people sit down to a meal of just cheese? What I'm after is a main meal dish.

Ruling out Gewurz with Chinese or Thai dishes (a combination I've never found remotely enjoyable) a recipe sent with a bottle of Espiritu de Chile Gewürztraminer sounded at once interesting, autumnal and tasty.

The wine itself is not hugely expensive (around a fiver) but works well as a mid-week slurp and did work deliciously well with the food - a Thai-Spiced Chicken Salad.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Espiritu de Chile Gewürztraminer, 2007, Central Valley, Chile.
Price: £4.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]

A pleasant nose - hints of violets, limes and roses with similar flavours on the palate only more focused and noticeable. Hints of sweetness balance the wine but this is not a full in-yer-face Gewurz some can verge on the soapy, almost violent in intensity and spicy sweetness. This does have a little of the rose and ginger coupled with a suspicion of strawberries but, as expected for a humbly priced wine, is quite gentle and more subtle.

With the food: Despite the generous dollop of Thai Chili Paste the salad is not overly spicy (in the heat-hot spectrum) it still has a decent level of background heat but not enough to dampen the taste buds and, in turn, ruin the wine. Pear and apple flavours appear in the wine leading to the question should the dish have a little sliced pear added for additional autumnal flavours (not terribly Thai I suppose. Mind you is Savoy cabbage?)

Scribblings Rating - 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

Duck pâté and Foie Gras (although I find this too rich a combination, especially if the wine is of the sweeter style) do work well with Gewurztraminer.

Photo Atlas of Spain´s Wine Culture

Spanish wine photo galleries
At the time of the grape harvest, Wine Tourism Spain has launched its first Photo Atlas on Spain´s geography and wine culture.
The photo Atlas on thoroughly reflects Spain´s variety of vineyards and landscapes, the historical and architectural diversity of its wineries, as well as interesting aspects of wine culture. There are more than 300 photos organised in 6 albums: Landscapes, Cellars, Hard work, Wine Accessories, Close look at the vineyard and In-depth."

This Atlas has been put together thanks to the photos which have participated in the First National Competition of Wine Photography in Spain. The competition has been sponsored by the Institute of Touristic Promotion of Castille la Mancha, Haciendas de España, Bodegas Torremilanos, with the collaboration of It is one of the initiatives launched by to enable the public to discover the variety of Spain´s wine culture and geography.

The winners, chosen by a Jury made up of the different sponsors, are the following:

First prize: Nevada Tardía (Antonio Martínez Andía)
Second prize: Casi la luna (Raquel Benito Olarte)
Third prize: Tinajas en la Mancha (M Jesús Abad de Lucas)
Special prize: Castille la Mancha Camino del Hidalgo (Daniel Fernández Méndez)

Like many and several wine bloggers I love photography and find foreign travel particularily invigorating; from these galleries many photos are inspiring and evocative - Atraves de la Copa, Al Atardecer and Camino-del-Hidalgo.

Harpers Alcohol: Know Your Facts Campaign

Harpers Alcohol Know Your Facts Campaign
The Harpers Alcohol: Know Your Facts campaign has been launched in a bid to offer an alternative view to the almost daily barrage of press stories that give the impression drinking in the UK is out of control. When the real picture, based on the Government's own statistics, show overall long-term drinking levels are actually in decline.

Harpers (which is a well established UK wine industry weekly) has put up a petition on the Number 10 Downing Street website calling on the public and members of the drinks industry to lobby the Prime Minister directly on the issue to ensure future legislation does not punish the majority of people who drink responsibly.

You can add your support to this vital issue by signing up to the petition (If of course you are a UK resident).

You can also get your local MP involved by signing an open letter calling on them to raise the real facts about alcohol in any debates in the House of Commons.

Your support can make a difference and it is vital we ensure the real facts are heard and understood by our politicians."

What, exactly, are 'the facts':
  1. Average alcohol consumption in the UK is falling • Per capita alcohol consumption has been falling since 2003 • The UK ranks 13th out of 27 in the EU league table of per capita alcohol consumption
  2. The numbers drinking over the recommended weekly guidelines fell between 2000 and 2006 o Men - down from 29% to 23% o Women - down from 17% to 12% • In the UK 7% of the population drink 33% of the alcohol
  3. Underage drinking is down from 26% of 11-15 year olds in 2001 to 21% in 2006 • The numbers of 11-15 year olds who have never drunk alcohol are increasing: o 2000 - 40% o 2006 - 46%
  4. Number of people reporting binge drinking (over 8 units) on at least one day in previous week is down: o Men - 2003/4 - 23% 2006 - 18% o Women - 2003/4 - 9% 2006 - 8%
  5. The laws we have to tackle alcohol misuse are not being enforced • Just 2 people have been prosecuted and one found guilty of selling alcohol to a drunken person since the 2003 Licensing Act was introduced

Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc, 2005, Napa Valley, California

Mondavi Fume Blanc 2005 Napa Valley
As many will know Fumé Blanc is the name invented by Mondavi to describe their Sauvignon Blanc's that had undergone oak aging. While Sauvignon's typical crisp acidity remains, the grassy flavours and punchy 'greenness' of the aroma are going to be subdued after a period in oak. Forget the vibrancy of those New Zealand Sauvignon's; this is a different fish.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc, 2005, Napa Valley, California.
Stockist: Majestic Price: £13.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Full in the mouth, there is a mineral edge too - the citric acidity comes to the fore on the finish while citrus is also the primary flavour. To this though you can add a segment of orange peel, a little melon, a drip of honey and a dash of vanilla. A good intensity and finish.

Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

I love mackerel - even more so since discovering its sustainable and on the list of 'can eat' fish - its meaty in a tuna type way and, when simply pan-fried with a little lemon, a great match to this Mondavi Fume Blanc. The fish was served with roasted potatoes and beetroot. The beetroots sweetness slightly deadened the wines complexity however; but not enough to deem the match a poor one. The recipe for Pan-Fried Mackerel with Roasted Beetroot and Potatoes is detailed on SpittoonExtra.