Steaky steak steak…Chapters in Blackheath

Some time ago I went along to Chapter One in the wilds of Kent to have a Nyetimber paired dinner. That went down so well that when Chapters of Blackheath contacted me to try out their josper grilled steaks, how could I resist. Chapters is one of only 9 restaurants in the capital to use the famed Josper grill, a combination of grill and bbq. It is manufactured using an insulating material that allows the temperatures to reach up to a 1000 degrees C, phew! This sears the meat and seals in the juices. I wouldn’t want to be that piece of meat. Chapters uses only the best beef: prime USDA, Australian 40 day dry aged Hereford. Black Angus and English hangar steak. Our meal was paired with a variety of wines but my favourite was the Cedre Heritage 2007 Cahors. All too often people think that malbec comes from Argentina, but au contraire mon ami, it’s original home is the southwestern part of France below and to the right of Bordeaux. In France, malbec is also known as cot and has been produced there since the Middle Ages. As a matter of fact, Cahors was making their ‘black wine’ long before the Bordelais and used to export their product through the region of Bordeaux. The 2007 Cedre Heritage was a classic malbec, inky black in colour, there’s no way you could mistake this wine for anything but a malbec. On the nose there was plenty of meaty spicy notes, these wines are brawny and savoury, there is no mistaking this for a fru-fru South American malbec – fruit? Bah! Cahors says to that. While having quite good structure, the wine did display black fruits on the palate but these were mixed in with spicebox and licorice flavours. I found the wine went perfectly with the seared meat, working with the juicy steaks to produce a match made in heaven. I found that with the Josper grilled steaks, I needed a wine that would ...

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Bombshell red,Washington State wine

The London International Wine Fair is always so much fun because you never know what you’re going to find. Back when I lived in the States, I was familiar with Washington state wines. I knew they did aromatic whites such as riesling, pinot gris and other cool climate varietals but my general impression was of a state of wet coniferous forests, rugged coastline and Seattle. I had no idea where, exactly, they grew the grapes. I visited the Wines of Washington state stand while I was at the fair and was pleasantly surprised to discover that Washington does not only some fabulous whites but also some very elegant and well balanced red wines. I came across Airfield Estates solely because the Bombshell Red, Vineyard Salute caught my eye. It’s retro 1940’s style lable, imitiating the mascots that were often painted on the nose of WWII bombers was a definite attention getter. Airfield Estates is located inland in the very dry Yakima Valley and varietals such as syrah, cabernet, merlot and cabernet franc have settled in quite nicely there. I had a quick tasting with the importer of Vineyard Salute, Sheryl Janosky of Janosky & Strenge at the fair. Click to find out more about the wine and it’s history. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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The Winesleuth gets a nod from the 2010 Wine Blog Awards!

Wow! What else can I say. It’s fantastic that my little ol’ blog has been recognised by the all those winos in America. I’m one of the finalists in the  2010 Wine Blog Awards in the category of  Best Graphics, Presentation or Photography. When I started TheWinesleuth, a little over 2 years ago, it really was a lark. I wanted to read about the London wine scene and all the wines here. The good, the bad, the ugly, the esoteric, the fermented grape juice that we call wine. I had a look around the blogosphere at the time and there really wasn’t a blog that spoke to me, so I thought, “Why not do it myself?” And thus Sleuthie came to be. So far, I’ve had a blast writing this blog. ‘sleuth is my baby and even if I neglect it sometimes, it’s always in the back of my mind. It’s stretched me in ways I would have never imagined when I first started tapping away at my laptop. I’ve ventured into video making, tried my hand at photography, visited some amazing places, chatted with great wine makers, gotten to know London intimately and met lots of great people, including what I like to call, the London Foodies as well as everyone involved in the London wine trade (and beyond). So thanks for the nomination, guys! I am flattered and honored. I’d also like to give a quick shout-out to my fellow Euro wine bloggers who have been nominated, check out their blogs and vote for them, too. Ryan and Gabriella of Catavino in the category of Best Single Subject Wine blog (they cover the Iberian Peninsula like nobodies business) Quevedo Port (Oscar is a great guy and an extremely energetic winemaker/blogger) for Best Winery Blog, and Spittoon (my good friend Andrew even if he does live in the sticks) for 2 categories Best Wine Review and Best Graphics but only vote for him in the Best Wine Review category – he’s one of...

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Speed dating California wine….

A couple of months ago I went to a tasting, here in London, of what was being marketed as California ‘benchmark’ wines which left me mightly unimpressed. I just knew California vintners could do better having sampled many on my trips home so I was excited when the Sonoma county Vintners invited me to Goodman Steakhouse in Mayfair for a Winemakers Speed-dating event.  First of all Goodman Steakhouse is a quality place and I knew their wine list so I thought if they’re having it at Goodman, the wines gotta be good. And so they were. We weren’t speed dating the winemakers, we were speed dating their wines. 8 hectic minutes to sip, taste, swirl and spit as well as get as much info from the winemakers as possible. 8 minutes might seem like a long time of one to one contact but the first two wines makers I sat down with, we had barely finished introductions let alone getting around to the wine before the bell rang *DING* and it was time to move on! There were 4 winemakers and their wines scattered around the smaller dining room of Goodman. Jim Pedroncelli, Proprietor and Director of Sales and Marketing at Pedroncelli showing off his 2007 Mother Clone Zinfandel, Rod Berglund President and Wine Maker at Joseph Swan Vineyards with his 2005 Zinfandel and 2007 Pinot Noir, followed by Jeff Stewart Vice President Winemaker at Buena Vista with a 2007 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir and finally Tom Hinde, President and CEO of Flowers Winery with their 2008 Chardonnay and 2007 Pinot Noir. Sonoma Valley specializes in the cool climate varietals chardonnay and pinot noir but also grows the more traditional sauvignon blanc and zinfandel further inland. The range of microclimates and zones varies from the cool Sonoma coast to the rolling hillsides of the Russian River Valley to hilltop estates overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I found the wines to be brilliant examples of the best that California can do. Now THIS is what...

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Are you going to S.F.? If so, don’t bring me back any wine under $20 bucks*

“All the leaves are brown…and the sky is grey. I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day….” Typical cold, drizzly, sun-goes-down-at-4pm-in-London-late November afternoon and I was walking to the Hoxton in Shoreditch for the  Wine Institute of California’s first official bloggers meetup. We were the guinea pigs of the evening. The Wine Institute of California were unleashing their California benchmark wines on us and the UK. “I’d be safe and warm…. If I was in LA…” My English friends ask me all the time why California wines don’t make it over here. Is it because of the cost? Is it because of taxes? Is it because California, like Australia has flooded the market with cheap and cheerful (I’m talking about you white zin) wine? Is it because we don’t export the truly good wines and British consumers don’t have the exposure to well made and enjoyable California wines? “Stopped off at a church, I saw along the way….Well, I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray….” The benchmark wines were on tasting to show that California can do mid-level (£8 – £15) wines. For a native Californian, all the usual suspects were there: Beringer, Gallo, Fetzer, Kendall-Jackson, Bonterra and a few lesser known (on this side of the pond labels) as well. Most of these wines I steer clear of when I’m home. Why? Well, they’re just not very exciting. Middle of the road, safe, predictable, supermarket wines. They could be from Australia, Chile, anywhere in CA. There was nothing special about most of them except that they were from California. Which is a shame as I know that there are plenty of very good mid-priced wines coming out of CA but nothing ever reaches these shores. Is it because of  price? Possibly. A decent bottle of wine costs around $20 in the States but translated here, once you get past shipping, taxes, etc, it’s more like £20 per bottle. $20 will get you a decent, interesting bottle of wine back home but in the UK £20 better be more than a decent wine. “You know...

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Adelsheim ’07 pinot gris in the S. Carolina Low Country

Even though I’m on holiday in South Carolina, I’m still finding time to do a bit of winetasting in between golf and beach. Yesterday we went to a fabulous place called Palmetto Bluff, hung around the pool there and drank mojito noirs (mojitos made with dark rum) all day. I’m staying with my friend Debra and she loves the restaurant at the Inn at Palmetto Bluff so you can guess where  we went for dinner. Deb is not a wine buff but she knows what she likes and on the advice of the female sommelier there, we had the Adelsheim 2007 pinot gris from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The Adelsheim’s are devoted to sustainable viticultural practices and aim to produce handcrafted elegant wines. Just a short vid with my off the cuff remarks. It’s very casual here in the South, we went straight from the pool to the dinner table so I’m still in my beach togs…  Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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