English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Jan 06, 12 English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Posted by in England, Sparkling Wine, Travel

To be the first outside of the winemakers to try an experimental wine made by a well known Bordelais vigneron (with said winemaker standing right next to me) can be a bit nerve wracking. What if I hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if I’m wrong and everyone else loves it? Well, none of those things happened when I found myself tasting the very first bottle of savagnin, fresh from the barrel. Savagnin is not a grape that I’m familiar with even if it does feature in the vin jaune wines of the Jura region. So, I was delighted and surprised to discover it was the first ever vintage of Sark wine. Yes, Sark as in the “Isle of,” one of the Channel Islands, closer the France then England but British nonetheless. The Sark savagnin was an experimental wine and in reality would only be used in small quantities for the final sparkling wine blend but it was intriguing to try the results of the first harvest of Sark. I was tasting with the Bordelais flying winemaker  and consultant, Alain Reynaud, who has been with the project from the very beginning. The vines were planted barely 18 months ago but a lot of care and planning went into the project before one vine was planted. Alain and soil consultant, David Pernet made many trips to the island to assess the terroir and find the best possible spots. The very first thing Alain did when he visited was to start digging through the first plot of land he was shown with his bare hands to see if the soil was suitable. They spent 6 months analyzing the soil before finally picking what they believe to be the best locations. Luckily, the island is primarily made up of granite and schist with a thin layer of topsoil – perfect to make those vines work hard. I don’t know what time of year Alain visited but I was there a few weeks ago (early Dec) and...

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Loving this cava – Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noir

Dec 28, 11 Loving this cava – Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noir

Posted by in Spain, Sparkling Wine

I usually stick to champagne but I did have this fabulous cava on Christmas Day. Codorniu is probably better known for it’s everyday cavas but the Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noirs cuvee is a contender for best sparkling wine (non-champagne) of the year in my book. The Reina is named after a queen (reina means queen in Spanish) and is worthy of such a moniker. Spain’s first 100% blanc de noir and produced in the traditional method, the 2008 vintage is Codorniu’s premium cava. The grapes used in the blend all come from family owned vineyards and the wine is aged 18-24 months before being released onto the market. A deliciously elegant wine, tiny bubbles shooting up from the bottom of the glass and into my mouth. Soft and silky  (if it’s possible to say that about bubbles) swooshing past my tongue on the way down. A decadent cava if ever there was one, full of subtle red fruit and floral aromas on the nose with a crisp finish. The Maria Cristina is probably one of the best cavas I’ve had in a long time. It also helps that the cava is packaged in a very distinctive, sexy bottle. It’s very pleasing to my aesthetic sense with it’s squarish bottom half tapering up to a heavy rim. I’d be very happy to drink this on New Year’s Eve and at £14.99 you could have it more often than once a year. Much more often! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee for the holidays

Dec 19, 11 Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee for the holidays

Posted by in Spain, Sparkling Wine

Although I do tend to go on about champagne, I occasionally drink other sparkling wines. Freixenet sent me the Elyssia Gran Cuvee and the Elyssia Pinot noir, their premium cavas as an economical alternative to champange. I have tried the Elyssia pinot noir in the past and was left a bit wanting but I think they may have tweaked it a bit and this time around, it was definitely much fruitier then before. It’s made from 100% pinot noir and there was plenty of strawberry and raspberry on the nose and palate. It would make a good party aperitif, rosy sparkles around this time of year are always appreciated. The Gran Cuvee was a bit different. I hadn’t tried it before although I have had the Freixenet Cordon Negro in the past and I do enjoy cava. The Gran Cuvee is an interesting blend of macabeo, parelleda, chardonnay and pinot noir. A charming cava, sparkly, gently bubbles, with orange blossom and elderflower on the nose and palate, it was very easy to drink and great with dinner. I could however, have drunk this on it’s own. Both are good economical alternatives to champagne this holiday season. If you can only afford champagne for Christmas or New Years, at least you have a very good Spanish alternative for the rest of the holiday season in the Elyssia cavas. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Design Wine, Italian wine the next day…

Do you know The Onion? If not, it’s a satirical newspaper that started at the Univ. of Wisconsin back in the 90’s. Now you might be wondering what The Onion has to do with wine. Well, I’ll tell ya. A friend of one of the original founders left, moved to Italy and decided after a long circuitous route that there’s nothing he’d like more then to do then find the best Italian wines out there and sell them online. And that’s how we get to Design Wine. I found all this out while talking to Tim O’Connell, at the recent Taste of London in Regent’s Park. Tim was on hand to get the word out about Design Wine. I had come across DW when I was in Italy recently but hadn’t had the chance to try their wines. At Taste, Tim had a nice selection of wines on hand and I got to try some of their sampler packs. The concept behind DW is quality Italian wine from artisan producers and, here’s their USP, NEXT DAY DELIVERY! Yes, believe it or not, you can get Italian wine the very next day in the UK! Now those of you in the States might not be impressed by next day delivery but believe me in Europe, next day delivery isn’t very common and for Italian wines? HA! Tim and co. have a warehouse in London which enables them to get around the logistical nightmare that delivery inter-Europe can be. Another unique selling point is their 3 and 6 bottle cases of wine. Each case is specially selected at various price points so you don’t have to blow your budget to get good wines. Of course, if you want to push out the boat, there’s nothing wrong with that and they do have some of the greats from Tuscany and Piedmont on their books. Design Wine have become the biggest innovators of Italian wine online in Italy with this concept and now they’re here in the UK....

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Riccardo Prosecco wins the Taste of London summer wine award

At the recent 2011 Taste of London wine awards, Riccardo Prosecco was awarded the Taste of Summer wine award. It was a tough competition, over 80 wines were blind tasted one early Wednesday morning and after much discussion and to-ing and fro-ing, Riccardo Prosecco won the day. Riccardo was up against some tough competitors but at the end of the day we decided it would indeed be the wine that was most emblematic of the Taste of Summer. The first time I had Riccardo prosecco was last summer at a secret supper club. I had never heard of them but was surprised at the quality of the wines. As I recall, I found them to be quite substantial wines, not just your run of the mill, slightly sweet, fizzy white wines. These were proseccos with a backbone, wines that were not just for aperitivo-quaffing but could also be enjoyed with a meal. I liked the wines but never really ran across them again and filed the name away. That is until this past April when I found myself on a holiday in the Veneto region. The Veneto is just a hop,skip, and a jump away from the prosecco producing region of Treviso so I hopped on a train and an hour and a half later, I was at the foot of steep hills of the ConeglianoValdobbiadene DOCG, chatting with Roberto Fornasier, the son of one of the brothers who own Riccardo Prosecco. Riccardo prosecco is in memory of the father of the brothers. Did you know that the grape to make prosecco is not called prosecco? I didn’t know that until I visited Treviso and the prosecco producing region of Valdobbiadene DOC recently. Up until 2009, prosecco was the name of the grape but because so many other regions were hijacking the name prosecco and calling any Italian sparkling wine prosecco, whether or not the wine was actually made from the prosecco grape, the Italian government decided to take action. They went back to...

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Croatian sparkling wine, talking with the winemaker – Ana Persuric of Misal

I’ve been writing quite a bit about Croatia lately not only because I went and visited but because there are a lot of young and dynamic winemakers who are making excellent wine. I recently wrote about my visit to Bruno Trapan and another young winemaker I’d like to spotlight  is 25 year old Ana Persuric of Misal Vineyards. Ana and her sister Katerina have taken over from their father who first started producing sparkling wine in 1990. Misal are the only 100% sparkling wine producers in Croatia. I visited Ana one Saturday afternoon and after a tour of the winery, we got down to business in the brand new tasting room they built. The room is new but it’s in an old farmhouse that is centuries old. Click on the vid to hear Ana talk about her zero dosage  100% blanc de blanc. A big thanks to Trevor and Judith of PactaConnect who introduced me to Ana and her wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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