Neil McGuigan and his Handmade Shiraz at Roussillon

I’ve come to realize that I’ve got a love/hate relationship with Australian wine. Hate the cheap, supermarket stuff, love the premium vino. Well, can you blame me? Why couldn’t it be the other way around, love the cheap stuff, hate the expensive stuff – if only. I was at the fashionable French restaurant, Roussillon for a food and winematching  lunch the other day with the winemakers of McGuigan Vineyards, Neil McGuigan and Peter Hall and had a chance to chat with them about their super-premium wine, the 2008 Handmade Shiraz. McGuigan Vineyards started out in the Hunter Valley but they now source their grapes from some of Australia’s most famous wine regions, including, Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley and Langhorne Creek, which is where this particular shiraz hailed from, click on the video to find out more about this super-premium… [viddler id=49575c47&w=437&h=392] I was invited to lunch by Cube Communications. Thanks, guys! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cru Beaujolais, way better than Nouveau

Beaujolais. Such a jaunty sounding word. It just seems like a happy place, doesn’t it? Well, it does to me. My first encounter with beaujolais was beaujolais nouveau. Not impressive, something to drink when you’ve got nothing better to do as far as I’m concerned. But to be fair, the Beaujolaises (I’m not really sure what you call people from there but I think this is close enough) have never pretended that Beaujolais nouveau was anything more then a fun easy drinking glugger. Beaujolais nouveau is produced, as all beaujolais is, from the gamay grape and is a lightweight, fruity wine, meant to be drunk young. Thanks to some brillant marketing, people all over the world wait for the release of Beaujolais nouveau which is always the third Thursday in November. As a matter of fact, the Japanese eagerly anticipate Beaujolais nouveau to take a bath in it! Those crazy Japanese… But there is a lot more to Beaujolais then nouveau. Beaujolais is classified just as all grape regions are in France and has it’s own AOC or appellation controlee system. Beginning with the all encompassing Beujolais AOC (where most beaujolais nouveau comes from), moving onto Beaujolais Villages AOC which includes 39 commune/villages in the Haut Beaujolais and finally the cru Beaujolais which consists of 10 villages in the foothills of the Beaujolais mountains. The 10 villages are Fleurie, Moulin-a-Vent, Chenas, Brouilly, Cote-de-Brouilly, Chiroubles, Saint-Amour, Julienas, Morgon, and Regnie. Interestingly, the cru Beaujolais are not allowed to produce beaujolais nouveau. Despite all being produced from the gamay varietal, the Cru Beaujolais  differ greatly in character. Brouilly, Regnie and Chiroubles are all light bodied and fruity and meant to be consumed within 3 years. Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie and Saint Amour all produce more medium bodied, feminine and floral wines which benefit from a year’s aging in bottle before drinking and can last up to 4 years. The last 4 villages, Chenas, Julienas, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent, produce the fullest bodied wines, spicy with good structure, they...

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Chatting with Etienne Hugel & his fab gewurztraminer

Back before I really knew anything about wine, I do remember scanning the shelves of my local wine shop and the the striking yellow label. No, I’m not talking about Yellow Tail, I’m talking about the yellow label from Alsace, Hugel’s yellow label. The house of Hugel has been making wine in Alsace since 1639, I don’t even know if Australia had been found yet by Capt. Cook or whoever it was that stumbled upon that continent but Hugel were making their rieslings and gewurztraminers way back then. I grabbed  the 12th generation of Hugel to be running the family firm, the charming and amusing Etienne Hugel, at the recent Fells Portfolio tasting in central London for a quick chat. Although Etienne had the entire range on display and I did try a  fair few of them, we compared notes on  what Etienne considers to be Alsace’s and his family’s flagship wine, the Hugel gewurztraminer. Here we are chatting about the latest vintage and the difference between young and old gewurz… [viddler id=9fe1ae3d&w=437&h=392] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Chapel Down and the Blaggers Banquet

Just a quick post today to remind all of you of the Blagger’s Banquet taking place this Sunday, Nov 15th at the Hawksmoor in Liverpool St. It’s for a great cause, Action Against Hunger and everything in the auction and for the dinner has been blagged by all of us food and wine bloggers. Niamh from Eatlikeagirl has been the driving force into getting this event off the ground but she had time to have lunch at Roast with the Chapel Down people who have generously donated beer, English sparkling wine and are auctioning off a year’s vine lease at their Tenterden property. After lunch, Niamh and I had a chance to talk to Frazer Thompson, Chief Exec of Chapel Down to tell us a bit about what their wines and what they’re donating to the event. [viddler id=f1d37fca&w=437&h=392] Hope to see you all on Sunday. Contact me or  click here for tickets. Next post coming up… our lunch at Roast with all those fabulous Chapel Down wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Cork Forest – Portugal, EWBC 2009

Another European Wineblggers Conference has come and gone….sigh…it just flew by! Before I knew it, I was back winging my way back to Heathrow. But in between landing and take off at Lisbon’s Portela Airport I met some of the nicest people, saw the most amazing scenery and had some pretty good wine to boot! For me, the highlight of the weekend, not including the tour of the Douro Valley which was AFTER the conference, was the visit to the cork forests north of Lisbon, hosted by the Quinta do Lagoalva in the Tejo appellation and sponsored by Amorim, who produced a quarter of the cork in the world, something like 60 BILLION corks a year and that’s not even counting all the other things that can be made out of  cork. We left Lisbon early Saturday morning a bit worse for wear not having had our morning coffee and set off for the province of Tejo and the old cork forests scattered about. To call them forests is a bit of a misnomer as they’re more like orchards, the trees being oak and planted in more or less straight lines but they are old, most of the trees over 100 years old and most live up to 200 years or more. Cork trees are fascinating. They’re only harvested after they reach 25 years of age  and the cork ,called virgin cork, is not of suitable quality to be used for as cork stoppers. The tree is then harvested periodically, every 9 years until it reaches around the age of 40 when the cork can finally be used to make cork stoppers. The cork from the previous harvests is not wasted but put to use in a myriad of other items, including tiles on the Space Shuttle. Pretty cool, cork is  used to insulate the Space Shuttle on re-entry. Our guide from Amorim, Carlos de Jesus was a font of information regarding cork and told us that cork has a very high tolerance for heat, the bark protecting the inner tree...

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Blaggers Banquet – charity event

The Winesleuth was volunteered for active duty in the Action Against Hunger benefit dinner and auction to be held Nov 15th. Action Against Hunger was founded in 1995 by an international group of chefs, restaurant owners and food writers who’s goal is to end child hunger around the world. But this isn’t any ol’dinner and auction. It’s a Blaggers Banquet. Niamh of Eatlikeagirl , my Covent Garden market partner, came up with the terrific idea of putting on a benefit for the organization with everything being donated. From kitchenware to canapes, bottled water to wine and everything in between. To quote Niamh from her blog… …on November 15th, we will be taking over Hawksmoor, the revered steakhouse in Liverpool St, for the blaggers’ banquet. This will be an exciting dinner created entirely by bloggers and using only food that they have blagged and that they themselves will cook and serve. There will also be a blaggers’ auction, where we will be auctioning exciting items we’ve blagged. This auction will be two fold, a portion of it on the night, and the rest in the weeks following. Further details relating to the auction will be announced as they become available…. If you’re interested in donating, volunteering or even attending the event, drop us a line at blaggersbanquet@googlemail.com Here’s a short vid of our first Blagger’s Meeting and what we hope to achieve….  [viddler id=2a96caf0&w=437&h=392] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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