Last night after a days work I had the opportunity to have a few drinks with friends. We decided to go to a pub in Oxford that has shelves of the stuff. I tasted a couple last night but particularily liked the Masons Lavender Gin. It was really soft on the palate with hints of sweet lavender coming through. Pour over ice and sprinkle lavender flower over to really impress.

tasted recently

tasted-a-good-wine-recently-snooth-it1I have been tasting recently some really great wines. (well, I think so anyway) Having been invited to a BBQ at the weekend and I know that some of my friends like full bodied wines, I decided to take along with me a bottle of Gemtree Uncut Shiraz.

The name intrigued me just as much as the wine.

We had some steak grilled on the BBQ with delicious Italian salad including sun dried tomatoes and artichokeswhich I love. The wine was made for the meal- delicious.gemtree-vineyards-uncut-shiraz-mclaren-vale-australia-10118653

The smell of ripe cherries, plums and liquorice with perhaps some spice coming through, I thought for a moment that I should have kept the bottle for myself. You know what I mean, you take in the bouquet again and again, just savouring the depth of character and then take a sip and finding that the character in the mouth really does make this an outstanding find. The pepperyness is subtle and the aftertaste long. I tasted a hint of cloves as well as dark plums.

This Uncut Shiraz comes from  a mature low yielding vineyard in the heart of McLaren Vale. Some of the vines are 80 years old which of course reduces the yield and helps make this wine special. This Shiraz is aged also in French oak barrels for around 16 months which adds of course to the quality.


Starting in September 2016

If you love wine and would like to find out more about the varieties, styles and the grape varieties join one of our groups in September. The courses run for 10 weeks and you will have the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world and meet some great friends who have the same passion for wine as you do.

We meet in Berkhamsted and Tring on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

Our first meeting will be getting to know each other and tasting a range of wines that have recently landed in the UK, and I can promise you, in my opinion, they are superb, and not a bad price either.We will then have evenings tasting wines from different regions, Chile, Argentina, Australia and NZ.Spain, Portugal, France ( over 3 sessions) South Africa and Germany. Not forgetting of course Champagnes and Sparkling wines and dessert wines too. So all in all, a great way to spend a couple of hours a week, good company, good wines and a good time.

We will also be having a Masterclass evening hosted by a leading champagne house and a spirit tasting focussing on Gins.


Wolf Blass tasting

The other day I was privileged to be a tasting event given by the chief winemaker of Wolf Blass, Chris Hatcher. He was in London to receive some awards for his wines – and what a charming man he is – really passionate about styles, quality and enjoyment for us us the consumer.

If you have never tried a bottle of Wolf Blass, you must give them a go. I think they are all excellent value, from the everyday style to have with a daily meal to the more complex range which can be kept for special occasions in the future.

Some of the vines on the Wolf Blass estates are over 170 yrs old, which makes them the oldest vines in the world. And of course, these would be non Phylloxera ( the louse that devasted the majority of vineyards thoughout europe in the 1880’s).

I was particularily impressed with the Silver and Gold range of reds. The Silver, a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec comes from 2 regions,  Langhorne Creek and Mc Laren Vale. The cool evenings of langhorns Creek slows down the ripening and delivers to us a great wine with dark berry fruits, good length and structure, soft and plaesing tannina and ideal with roasts and some game. This wine will age well.

Oh, if you thought I had made a mistake mentioning Malbec, this variety has been in Australia longer than it has in Argentina.

Malbec on the vine

Another outstanding wine I tasted (well tasted this one several times) was the Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz. It was delightful, filled with spicy yet soft dark fruits,of an intense mix of  plums and dark berry fruits with a hint of perfumed  frangrance, long on aftertaste and I will say it again, delightful. The wine is aged in French oak which perfects the finish.

This Shiraz cames from the Barossa Valley with its Mediterranean Climate which is ideal for variety. The vineyards are between 300-500 metres.

Wolf Blass Wine short Banner Occassion

I hope you will give these a try. I feel sure you will not be disappointed

Eating and drinking

Having a great meal with friends either at home or in a restaurant and chatting about so many things is one of life’s real pleasures (until you get the bill) and there is really nothing nicer than having a bottle of wine or two that compliments what you are eating.

Nobody can tell you what is best to drink with a certain food. It is all up to your personal likes but there are some very good guidelines that we can all follow. We know that most wines are produced to go with food and many wine regions, the styles of wines compliment the local cuisines.

Of course there isn’t any single choice of wine that must be drunk with a certain dish, but some are definitely a  better match than others.

If you are someone who loves a great meaty dish, say a steak or roast lunch,  pair the meal with a wine that is tannic (you know, the feeling of the wine on your teeth and gums- the drying feeling) Try a good Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz from Australia.

If you like salty foods, try a sweet wine and of course, sweet dishes need a sweet wine to compliment. Blue cheese and a glass of Port is an ideal match.

Foods that are high in acid (some fish dishes, tomato salads) match these meals with a wine that has good acidity too. NZ Sauvignon Blanc of Sancerre from France.

Food 012

A few weeks ago now, after a long meeting,  I was treated to a delicious Thai meal, spicy and yet not too hot, and we enjoyed tasting a few wines. Sauvignon Blanc matched very well and so did a Gewurztraminer from Austria. (makes me feel hungry just writing about these wines)

Go on, experiment, you may finds some surprising results. I would like to hear what you have tried.

Squid salad

Noble rot

Noble Rot
Noble Rot

Sound strange doesn’t it to call a rot noble. But that is exactly what it is. Noble rot or to use its Latin name, Botrytis Cinerea, is a remarkable phenomenon without which many of the world’s greatest sweet wines simply would not exist.

Noble rot, if the weather conditions permit, attacks healthy white grapes, drying them out and changing their chemistry which results in a dreadful looking bunch of really sweet raisins. These dried up grapes produce delicious and complex (could not think of a better word) sweet (dessert) wines which are capable of very long ageing. One of the most wines being Sauternes from Bordeaux in France.

Unusually, not all the grapes on a single bunch are affected in the same way at the same time so the vine picker often has to make several journeys through the vineyard, checking and checking again. These Noble rotted grapes are only harvested by hand and generally on a grape to grape basis, which of course means that the wine produced has taken up plenty of labour and production costs. But to wait for something so delightfully sweet and balanced is well worth it. A bit more expensive than many table wines and often only produced in half bottles but well worth it.

Go on, search out some.

Here are a few to give you a start: Sauternes (France) Tokaji (Hungary) Trockenbeerenauslese (Germany)