Slide show from the LIWF, London 2009

Last week was the London International Wine Fair and to say I had a great time would be an understatement. It was 3 perfect days of discovering, tasting and non-stop talking about wine, wine and more wine. I truly never get bored of talking about wine. This is the third year I’ve gone and even though it seemed to be familiar territory, there’s always something new. I also managed to make it to the Distil show this year, which was all about the spirits. This year in particular, my wineblogger friends from Catavino and Adegga were there to promote the winebloggers conference taking place in Portugal this Autumn. Needless to say, the European Winebloggers conference stand became my home away from home during the 3 days of the fair. I met lots of great producers, tried some interesting and fabulous wines and hung out with both old and new friends. I’d like to shout out to Andrew from Spittoon, Jean from Cooksister, Bibendum Dan and Bibendum Erica, Rob (Wine conversation), German winemaker Patrick  Johner, Ryan and Gabriella Opaz (Catavino), Andre R. (Adegga), Penny from my fave Chelsea winecellar, The Bluebird, The winemaestro, and my friends from Oddbins, Eleanor and Ana and all the wonderful peeps I met at the fair this year. During the next few weeks, I’ll be posting videos from the fair so keep an eye out for interesting, informative and (I hope) entertaining videos. Until next year’s wine fair…Cheers! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Balfour video winetasting at the Bluebird

Well, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’m a big fan of Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose from Hush Heath Estate and I’ve written about it numerous times. I even took a couple of bottles to the American winebloggers conference last summer where it was a big hit. Last week, Penny from the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird, had a tasting of the Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose. I took along my fellow wineblogger, Wine90, so she could see what all the fuss was about. We did a short winetasting video after the event and here it is… The Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose is available from the Bluebird, retail  £39.99 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Funky English varietals at the annual trade show(w/ video)

Huxelrebe, Siegerrebe, Regner, Schönburger. The ill-fated cast of characters from an little known Wagnerian opera? “Reichensteiner and Würzer are dead” -The original title? Rondo, Ortega, and Phoenix. The Mexican villains from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western? Madeleine Angevine. Latest X-Factor winner? Triomphe. A sports car? Orion – oh, I know that, that’s a constellation, right? Well, yes and no. Orion is a constellation but it’s also a cool climate hybrid varietal used in England to produce wine.   In fact, all of the above are just some of the rather esoterically named varietals that have been put into use to produce English still and sparkling wine. Along with the more familiar müller thurgau, dornfelder, and bacchus, and the downright prosaic chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. I just love the monikers of this cast of characters but what have the English been doing with their wackily named varietals? There are two opinions about English wine. One, the still wines are a work in progress. Two, the sparklings, though, are winners. I had the chance to put the wines to the test at the recent English wine producers Annual Trade Tasting. The show was an opportunity for us to see what those English have been up to and the launch of English Wine Week 2009. English Wine week will be held at the end of May (23rd-31st) and encompasses a variety of activities including tours, tastings, and special events in vineyards around the country. There are also plans for a Welsh Wine Week and a Devon Wine Week alongside the English events. All events can be found on their website, www.englishwineweek.co.uk  I found that the whites were not quite ready for prime time. They were competently made and drinkable but nothing really shouted out to me except the one varietal that I discovered and actually liked, the Madeleine Angevine, a white grape that produced some lovely dry and fresh wines, aromas of orange blossoms and white flowers with nice acidity and rounded body but no flabbiness. It reminded...

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Elvis is in the building (or at least his wines are)

I always forget how much I love Elvis Presley’s music until I hear it, then it instantly transports me back to my childhood. My parents weren’t huge Elvis fans but my dad did like to pop in a cassette tape every now and then on road trips. Well, Elvis is back and here in the UK! Well, not entirely true, Elvis wines are trying to break into the UK wine market. Yup, an entrepreneurial Swede by the name of Dan Samson has already brought “The King”  to Sweden and the Netherlands. Dan has teamed up with Signature Wines  and their Graceland Cellars range to help bring Elvis to the masses again. Actually, it’s like the Marilyn Merlot brand of wine. Neither Marilyn nor Elvis have anything to do with the wine but their visages peer out at you and if it makes your nearest and dearest Elvis fan happy, what’s the harm? The Winesleuth (me)  had the chance to speak with Dan at the recent California Wine Trade Show here in London, watch the video to see what he had to say about Elvis in the building… I have to admit, I was rather dubious when I saw the wines but on tasting them all my doubts vanished. These were not just gimmick wines but also well made wines. I sampled the Jailhouse Rock Merlot and the Blue Suede Shoes Chardonnay. Both were approachable, easy drinking wines. The  merlot was soft and fruity but had a bit of structure to it and the chardonnay, while it did have oak on it, was not too oaky and had some nice ripe tropical fruit on the nose and palate. The wines have won numerous awards in the States at various competitions so the quality is certainly there. They’re not yet available in the UK but Dan believes that they’ll retail for around £8 – £10, reasonable for a Califoria wine in Europe. The grapes are sourced from the Santa Rosa Valley, in Northern California, near Sonoma Valley and all...

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Delicato Family Vineyards

A couple of weeks ago I went to the annual California wine trade tasting in Victoria to see what my fellow Californians were bringing over to the UK. I was expecting lots of Gallo and Echo Falls but actually, there was some great stuff on show. Cakebread Vineyards, Parraduxx, Shafer, Grgich,Hills, Boony Doon, just to name a very few. Some high quality stuff looking to either get a foothold or increase their presence here in the UK. I had the chance to speak to Elizabeth Rice from Delicato Family Vineyards, a winery which sources their grapes from Lodi and Monterey,California. Here she is telling us about the exciting new wines that they’re looking to introduce or already import to the UK. [viddler id=3d14590&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Mersea Island Vineyard -English wines in Essex

I was wandering around the Southbank over Easter Weekend and stumbled upon a slow food market set up outside the Royal Festival Hall. I like slow food and the slow food movement as much as the next person but what really made my eyes light up was the English wine booth I found nestled between the English oysters and Stilton cheese. Mersea Island Vineyard had their entire range out for a taste. Mersea Island is situated in the estuaries of the Blackwater and Colne rivers, about 8 miles south of Colchester, Essex. To you and me, it’s way east of London, about as far as you can go. According to their rep manning the booth, Claire, legend has it that there have been grapes on the island since Roman times. The vineyard is also situated facing south so as to get as many rays from the sun as possible. The vineyard has been around since 1985 and they grow 5 different varietals, muller thurgau, ortega, chardonnay, pinot muenier, and reichensteiner, cool climate varietals which do very well here in the English clime. I tried all four wines they had on tasting. I started off with their dry white, the  Mersea Native, (£8.75) made with the reichensteiner varietal. It said dry on the label but I thought that was debatable. On sipping,it had an elderflower character to it on the nose and palate, not exactly dry either. I would have said it was off dry, it was very fruity but did have good acidity. After that I went for the Mersea Vintage Sparkling Wine, (£15.00)a blend of chard, p. muenier, and reichensteiner. They make their sparklings in the traditional method thus producing a wine with a slighty nutty character, ripe apples and rather big bubbles for a method traditional made wine. It was dry but had a short finish. I then tipped back the “Summer Days“, (£8.50)medium-dry white, made with muller-thurgau. This one to me seemed drier then the previous one with  lovely grapefruit aromas and flavours. It didn’t seem medium dry...

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