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Wine Matching With A Winter Salad (1)
Dan Coward wrote: I'd love to see a picture of the dish (or even get a ta... [read more]

Tesco Drinks Awards Winners (1)
Dylan wrote: Ah, what a tough life judging this must have been. I'm ... [read more]

Alain Voge 'Fleur de Crussol' Saint-Péray, Rhone, France (4)
The Blog Wine Cellar wrote: 100% oak aged Marsanne! Sweet! I love these somewhat ec... [read more]

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile (6)
Dylan wrote: That is a great value, and more than that, my father wa... [read more]

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Wine Matching With A Winter Salad

Fish Hoek Pinotage Rosé
A little food and wine matching experimentation - the food being a roasted beetroot salad (Baked Beetroot with Pancetta and Rocket Aioli) with the choice of wines being dictated by two replies to a twitter 'which wine?' plea. Wink, who writes the hugely informative wine travel guides suggested going for a rosé
I think that both Pinotage and Torrontes might fight with the rocket - I'd go for the rosé - bon appetit!"

While Rob at the Wine Conversation went for the Torrontes

Torrontes! Def not Pinotage, but depends on how good the rose is, however Torrontes still best bet. Sounds yummy"

The rosé (Fish Hoek Pinotage Rosé, 2008 from South Africa) and the Torrontes (Catena Alamos Torrontes, 2008 from Argentina) were duly opened. The other bottle options, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinotage, both from South Africa, and a Bordeaux red remain for another day. Why I thought a Bordeaux red would be any good I have no idea but I did think the rustic nature of a Pinotage would go well with the earthy quality of the beetroot, hoping the wine would match the inherent sweetness of the beetroot too.

Rosé Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Fish Hoek Pinotage Rosé, 2008, Western Cape, South Africa.
Price: £6.19 From Tesco and Somerfield [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A splurge of cherry and strawberry opens this rosé, tinge of spritz, creamy edge, rounded and very drinkable. Dry finish. A Silver Medal winner at the International Wine Challenge 2008. Alcohol 13%.

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

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Catena Alamos Torrontes, 2008, Salta, Argentina.
Stockist: Bibendum Price: £7.00 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Peachy, apricot, honeysuckle but not in a sweet Gewurz-type way. Palate is lighter than the aroma would suggest and while similar flavours are present the palate is more limey, crisp and refreshing. Dry too. The acidity is the key here, forming the wine into a fine food wine.

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

Now, while it was the Alamos Torrontes, that as a wine was preferred, from a food and wine view it was impossible to select one above the other (and by heck did I try - a seemingly endless switch between glasses and mouthfuls of the food in various combinations). The Pinotage Rosé, while a simpler wine, worked superbly well - countering the (overly) forceful garlic, the dryness of the walnuts and the pepperiness of the rocket. The slightly sweet fruit also matched the sweetness of the beetroot.

Conversely the Torrontes utilising the full powers of its acidity acted as a palate cleanser rather than a complementary partner. But still the floral nature of the wine made an interesting and tasty counter to the sweetness of the beetroot and even developed an affinity with the peppery rocket.

Photo an entry for Click Photo Comp

Tesco Drinks Awards Winners

Flying Dog Pale Ale
I sneaked a look under the blank covering, guiltily, just to see which my favourite beer from the tasting was. I took a clandestine snap with the mobile too (as pictured). Assigned a table with several other tasters - brewers quality control managers, beer critics, pub-magazine writers - a highly enjoyable time was had tasting (not spitting, you don't spit beer) and rating various beers blind for the 2009 Tesco Drinks Awards.

Tesco organises this event every year giving the winners a guaranteed listing in national and regional Tesco stores for a minimum of 12 months.

The Tesco Drink Awards are designed to champion regionality and small producers, giving them a route to market and wider exposure to the UK consumer.

Now I think the bottle pictured is Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale brewed by the Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, America. As you can read in the press release below this won the Best Bitter and Ale category - which must have been the table I slurped around - so it would appear my fellow judges were as impressed as I was!

Coming to a Tesco near you then, Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale.

Tesco Beer Tasting - Tesco Drinks Awards
The results of the Tesco Drinks Awards 2009 have just been announced, with the winners guaranteed listings at Tesco stores from April next year.

In addition to some home-grown success at both a national and regional level, winners came from as far afield as the USA, Lithuania and Martinique. Covering a range of product types and styles, all share one common characteristic - they are new to the UK multiple market.

Of the four national beer listings up for grabs, only one went to a British brewery. Brewdog, the winners of last year's regional heat, won the Lager category with Scream. But it was the Flying Dog Brewery in Maryland, USA that took the Awards by storm, winning Best Bitter & Ale for Flying Dog Pale Ale and Best Porter & Stout for Flying Dog Gonzo Porter. Although based on different sides of the Atlantic, these two innovative breweries share not only an irreverent marketing image but also a modern - and obviously successful - approach to traditional beer styles.

Rum was the flavour of the day in the spirits categories, with both listings being awarded to variations of this resurgent spirit. The Dark Spirit award went to Angostura 7 Year Old Dark Rum from Trinidad, while the White Spirit award went to the Trois Rivieres Blanc 40 from Martinique.

In line with current trends, the Awards also included categories to recognise excellence in the production of Innovative and Lower & No Alcohol drinks. The Innovation Award went to Twisted Tea, a 'hard' iced tea from Cincinnati, Ohio that caused a stir with its refreshing take on a classic favourite. The Lower & No Alcohol winner was Bernard Free Amber, another excellent product from the Czech Republic but at only 0.5% abv.

In addition to the national listing winners, six regional tastings were held to showcase exciting new products from smaller brewers around the UK. The product names - Busy Fool, Druid's Fluid - are as eclectic as the beer styles, but all these winners are proof that, given the opportunity, regional beers are more than a match for the big brands.

Products were judged blind by teams of experts recruited from the industry and press, and coordinated by Tim Hampson (Beers) and Dave Broom (Spirits).

Dan Jago, Category Director Beers Wines and Spirits, comments "At Tesco we are committed to bringing new, exciting products to the market. Great drinks deserve shelf-space and a chance to gain access to the UK consumer, and that is exactly what these Awards are designed to achieve."

Alain Voge 'Fleur de Crussol' Saint-Péray, Rhone, France

Voge Saint-Peray
Not something you see much of is Saint-Péray; most of the production is concentrated towards sparkling wines (not that I've come across any Saint-Péray sparkling mind!). My Guide Hachette des vins de France 2008 dismisses the region with little more than a quarter page entry and three producers but does state that it is "one of the best sparkling wines in France"; so something to look out for.

Saint-Péray lies across the river from Valence in the Rhone, if you have been reaching for your wine maps. Marsanne and Roussane being the grape varieties grown. Incidentally Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Book 2009 (Pocket Companion) rates Alain Voge's Fleur de Crussol as "an excellent wine or producer in its category - one especially worth seeking out". Anticipation is therefore high for this.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Alain Voge 'Fleur de Crussol', 2007, Saint-Péray, Rhone, France.
Stockist: Contact Bibendum Price: around £20 [More: Adegga / Snooth ]
Classy and rather refined. Smoothly textured and offering plenty of complexity to the flavour. Minerality obvious on the finish with a long, lingering aftertaste. Flavours of stony fruits, peaches, plenty of Tangerine/ Clementine with citrus pith and white flowers. Delicious. Alcohol 14%.

This is 100% oak-aged Marsanne, the grapes harvested from Voge's oldest vineyard (70+ years). Recommended for up to 10 years aging.

Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Food match: Served with a Salmon and Potato Bake. Sublime - even though this particular sample is a pre-release 'straight from the barrel' sample (hence the hand-written vintage year; they haven't printed the labels yet!). I was so impressed with this and have to ask - what is it going to be like with some age!

Sorry for the red-wine splattered bottle in the photo. It would appear that the shipment suffered a casualty - not one single bottle escaped some damage.

Threshers 40% Off Voucher December 2008


There is a huge demand for these Thresher Vouchers a new one for December 2008 is now available for download.

Threshers 40% Off Voucher December 2008

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

UPDATE: 40% Off Voucher valid against all wine and champagne until April 13th 2009.

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile

MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile
An entry for Wine Blogging Wednesday (update to include an illustration).

Chile has, over the years, eclipsed Australia as the country to offer value-packed wines. The Wine Blogging Wednesday theme being value reds from Chile indicates that perhaps the Americans have yet to notice what stonking value-packed, drinkable, wines Chile is now producing. The Mont Gras normally retails at near the £7 mark (expensive for some, average price for others) but at the Waitrose offer price of a smidge over a fiver, excellent value. (What are sales like though at full-price with Carmenere on the label?).

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: MontGras Carmenere Reserva, 2008, Colchagua Valley, Chile.
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £5.39 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Forceful aroma - brambly, spicey, leathery. Full-flavoured and full-bodied on the palate. Plenty of flavour dominated by briary blackberries and a healthy smear of tannin to remind you this is Carmenere. Oaky notes and sweet new world fruit that masks a slight lack in complexity of flavour and a touch too much alcohol but it drinks very nicely, especially with food. Classily packaged, heavy weight tapered bottle. High alcohol at 14.5%.

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

Carmenere really needs food to tame that wild fruit character and heady tannin - a Steak and Kidney Pie (made locally by a friendly butcher) and chips did it for me last night. The MontGras website which, incidentally, offers plenty of technical info on this and their other wines (grapes handpicked and selected May 7th and 15th 2007, cold soaked 3 days, 15 days total skin contact, yeast type PDM etc etc) recommends

"sweet and sour preparations, home style stews and dishes seasoned with cumin. It also compliments pâtés and duck liver, especially if they include a bit of pepper. Can also be enjoyed with pastas and salmon."

Wine and Food Matching - Ideas From A Recent Tasting

Food Matching at the Fells Tasting
Given the synergy between food and wine I have long wondered at the lack of 'combinations' at tastings. While the industry thrives on gourmet meals (to which I receive far too few invites!) tailoring, usually, a single producers wines to each dish these events are exclusive and limiting in the number of participants.

Of course wine tastings offering dozens if not hundreds of wines are hard enough, and expensive to mount, operations without worrying about food samples. Back in October though the wonderful people at Fells hosted a tasting with various wines matched with food.

"This is a tasting with a difference. Not only does it offer you the opportunity to taste award winning wines from our portfolio of family owned producers but, for the first time, we have matched a selection of our wines to a range of delicious canapés to demonstrate the breadth and versatility of our range".

I met up with Douglas and duly sampled said food and wine matches (expect the oysters... I can't 'do' oysters). Of the 200 or so wines available to taste the following were offered with a food match (I'm sure Douglas has blogged about this tasting too, but I can't find the post to link to direct).

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: E Guigal St Joseph Blanc, 2006, Rhone, France
Price: £12.95 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A 95% Marsanne, 5% Rousanne blend matched with chèvre, dressed radicchio, walnut croutons, ripe pear and toasted walnuts. A lovely wine restrained richness, almond, hazelnut and lime nose but the goats cheese was a little too strong for the wine, deadeneing it somewhat. But the radicchio and walnuts worked beautifully.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Hugel Pinot Gris Tradition, 2005, Alsace, France
Price: £9.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A 100% Pinot Gris and a super match with the canapé - Butter Chicken with coriander on a tiny poppadom - the butter really balancing the wine and the coriander bringing freshness adding to the lovely long-lasting taste.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Mouton Cadet Reserve Graves Rouge, 2006, Bordeaux, France
[More on Adegga / Snooth]
An on-trade only wine with an easy drinking style, but it didn't match with the Chargrilled Rosemary-Marinated Lamb fillet, served pink, with babaganoush to dip. OK with the lamb but the dip killed the wine. The dish however was superb with the Rothschild Escudo Rojo, 2006 ( a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 27% Carmenere, 7% Syrah).

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Bodegas Torres Salmos, 2006, Priorat, Spain
Price: £11.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Matched with Cochinillo Asado - organic roast suckling pig stuffed with juniper and rosemary with wild rocket and a Cox's Apple Sauce - this blend of Spanish and international varieties (Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, Cariñena and Cabernet Sauvignon) was a deliciously superb match hiting every spot.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Edmeades Mendocino Zinfandel, Mendocino Valley, 2006, California
Price: £11.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A lovely wine - big, fruity, slightly sweet with a nice crunchy berry finish went well with the Confit of Duck with Cranberry Relish on a Polenta Croute. Teh wine is a blend of 85.45 Zinfandel, 7.2% Petit Syrah, 3.7% Merlot, 2.7% Syrah and 1% Grenache. High alcohol at 15.5%.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Tyrrell's Winemaker's Selection VAT 1 Semillon, 2002, Australia
Stockist: Waitrose Price: £7.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Not often a fan of Australian Semillon disliking the waxy/herbyness but this particular version sings beautifully with food. In this case Bite-Sized Salmon, Smoked Haddock and Cod Tartlets.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Chakana Malbec, 2007, Argentina
Price: £5.50 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
A simple, basic wine with an upfront richness but came across as good with the food - bite-sized beef empanadas.

Many thanks to Fells for providing such an interesting tasting. While some of the matches didn't quite work the effort in providing such an interesting array of canapés was well worth the trouble. While the Argentine Malbec was a rather disappointing end to the wine and food matches the rest of the tasting awaited - hell, they had a Room of Discovery and Room of Excellence left to explore.

[Tastings are not that suited to taking photographs, this snap, via the mobile phone, is out of focus but shows the Hugel Pinot Gris and the Butter Chicken with coriander on a tiny poppadom.]

Fleur de Luze, Bordeaux Blanc, 2007

Fleur de Luze, Bordeaux Blanc, 2007
Who ever makes scampi at home? A dish one may assume is now relegated to certain 'family' restaurants and frozen ready-meals. Of course the home-made version is leagues ahead of any ready-meal.

The inspiration for a little home deep-frying was a recommendation by Bordeaux Undiscovered in the press pack they supplied with a few samples. The match, Scampi with Tartare Sauce and this Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc was sensational and highly recommended.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Fleur de Luze, 2007, Bordeaux, France.
Stockist: Bordeaux Undiscovered [More on UKWOL] Price: £5.62 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Fresh, light, gently grassy, lemony and refreshing. Hints of lime, grapefruit, apple and just a smidge of orange.

And simply THE best match for scampi - or in my case deep-fried, breaded prawns. Even handling the spiky tartare sauce wth aplom. Not being as forcefull as, say,a New Zealand, Sauvignon or as minerally as one for the Loire this, relativey simple, Bordeaux blanc seemed perfectly matched.

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

A Guide to the Wines of England & Wales

A Guide to the Wines of England & Wales
I should just mention that I haven't yet seen this new publication; the details below are from the press release but seeing how little coverage is given to the English/Welsh wine industry I thought worth reposting unchanged.

Click the image to open a full page preview...

English and Welsh wine enthusiasts are in for a treat. A Guide to the Wines of England and Wales has just been published and is now available in all good bookshops and on line retailers, priced £14.99. Packed with up to date information and a wealth of illustrations, this new book provides a topical and unique insight in to the English and Welsh wine industry. A Guide to the Wines of England & Wales is compiled by the award-winning Wine Behind the Label team whose books have scooped all three of the major wine-writing awards in the UK. This is the first of their series of regional wine guides, researched in-depth to give a fully comprehensive overview of the industry. Over 100 vineyards are captured in full colour, packed with essential facts and background information, including their location, a profile of their leading wines with tasting notes and interviews with the vineyard owners themselves. For the first time ever there is a section devoted to the industry's leading winemakers, with profiles on each, which provides even greater insight into the state of play of the vineyards and their regions.

The book opens with an historical perspective and asks if wine was produced here by the Romans or only imported. The intervening centuries also have an interesting story to tell.

An erudite essay by Richard Selley, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Imperial College, London, charts the impact of climate change on viticulture. Richard is an acknowledged expert and author on the geology of English winelands.

There is a buzz around wine production in England and Wales with much interest and focus on climate change and its implications for the 300 plus vineyards. Rumour has it that imminent overseas investment will also be providing a Renaissance to our own wine industry.

Many well-established winemakers are now producing award winning wines and competing on the world stage for recognition. English and Welsh wines are served at State Banquets, a tribute to their quality. More than 60 vineyards have tasting rooms/shops attesting to the growing popularity of visiting regional vineyards and tasting and buying home produced wines. The book also details the wide variety of grapes grown and the many styles of English and Welsh wine produced. Read about the pioneering vineyards that have put English wines on the map, and those planting their first vines, which will not be producing bottled wine for another 5 or more years.

This book is an ideal travelling companion or reference book for anyone wanting to delve further in to the world of English and Welsh wine."

A Guide to the Wines of England and Wales is available from for £10.59.