Charles Smith, winemaker and Winesleuth hair twin

I met my hair twin the other night at Hawksmoor Steakhouse in London. We weren’t exactly hair twins, he’s blonde and I’m not but we both have wild and curly hair and we both like wine a lot! My hair twin in Charles Smith, ex-rock band manager and “2009 Food and Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year” for K Vintners of Washington State. Charles has quite a reputation as a innovator, marketing genius, and is never afraid to speak his mind, his opinion of European wine drinkers – they’re “pussies” if they look at the back label see 15.5% alcohol and deem it too much for them without even trying it first. Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I didn’t realize the alcohol content until late in the evening while chatting to Charles. His wines are extremely well balanced. I would never have guessed that they contained so much alcohol, no hint of a burn or alcohol on the nose, just  full bodied wines with refined tannins. If you start reading ingredients on a wine label, then his wines are not for you in Charles’ opinion. He does acknowledge that his wines “are not for everybody, they never are, it’s all about the individual”.  Charles picks the grapes when they are ready and not beforehand and if they have 15% alcohol so be it.  He wants to produce wines that reflect not only the region but also the vineyard where they are grown. To him, the most important thing is to produce balanced, soft, round and integrated wines. To drink his wines, you need food that’s going to stand up to it and Hawksmoor did an admirable job of serving up Porterhouse and Rib-eye steaks to match the wines. We had a selection of K Vintners wines, the 2008 Northridge Syrah from Wahluke Slope, the 2008 Morrison Lane Syrah, Walla Walla Valley and K Vintners 2008 Creator ( a blend of cabernet and syrah), Colombia Valley. Each wine was unique...

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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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Bruno and Joel (Paillard and Robuchon) -the lunch video

Finally managed to get the video uploaded from lunch at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier with Bruno Paillard’s champagnes a couple of weeks ago. The video’s not as long as it looks, only 5 minutes but Viddler insists on adding lots of extra space at the end. Alice Paillard (Bruno’s daughter), Willie Lebus from Bibendum wines and eatlikeagirl are all in there, along with me, TheWinesleuth. You can read my post here if you don’t like video. [viddler id=20af4309&w=437&h=333] Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Lunch partners Bruno and Joel (Paillard and Robuchon)

Picture it – 10:20 Monday morning, just sitting down to the laptop, still in my jammies with a nice big pot of coffee by my side, thinking of heading over to the California wine trade tasting later that afternoon. (Riiiiing, riiiiing) “Hullo?” “Denise? Hi, it’s Dan from Bibendum. Listen I’m very sorry to bother you. Are you busy today? ” “Just the California show today. Why? Are you going?” “I know this is really short notice and I do apologise but do you think you’d be available to hop on down to Covent Garden for a champagne tasting and lunch? I’m really sorry for such short notice. It’s Bruno Paillard Champagne at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Covent Garden and …um, someone dropped out and we have an extra space and…um… it would be great if you could make it by 11:30.” “11:30?!?!” It takes at least 45 minutes to get to Central London from my house but I wasn’t going to miss this lunch. California would be there til 5:30 and Hell, I’m from there! I promised I’d be at L’Atelier as close to noon as possible. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten ready so quick and I made it with seconds to spare. The luncheon was hosted by Bruno Paillard himself and Willie Lebus, one of  the Directors of Bibendum Wines. We started off with a tasting of Bruno’s Old Disgorgements Collection which was the occasion we were commemorating. The collections consisted of 5 bottles that had been disgorged at various intervals from 6 months to 12 years in order to appreciate the evolution of the champagne. As Bruno explained, after disgorgement, (basically removing the dead yeast cells after the second fermentation), the wine really comes into it’s own, aging throughout the years, passing through 5 or 6 distinct stages ranging from fruit dominated flavours and aromas all the way to the candied fruits and aged roasted notes of mature champagne. What can I say about the wines. Bruno Paillard is one of my favourites and I’ve written about his champagnes previously. I just love his style of champagnes, full...

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Guilty pleasures

It all started innocently enough as a joke at the pub after a London blogging event. What to eat when it’s cold and miserable outside? Well, I was hanging with a bunch of food bloggers, what other topic of conversation would you expect? When I mentioned my cheesy sausage biscuits that were so good you’d want to “slap yo’ mamma” or “slap your mum” as Lizzie so charmingly put it ( I can’t imagine slapping anyones mum but yo’ mamma – now that’s a whole other ball of wax), the challenge was on to bring the tastiest, most comforting food for a cold winter’s nite. So, one cold February eve, Eatlikeagirl (Niamh), FoodStories (Helen), Cheeseandbiscuits (Chris), Hollowlegs (Lizzie), BibendumDan, and me, TheWinesleuth had a little get-together at my house. We started off with mojitos and straight-up gin martinis before heading off into the food and wine tasting. I think we all reverted to childhood for this one. On the menu we had Mac and Cheese with bits of bacony goodness(Niamh), Marmite sandwiches with cucumbers (Helen) – note, add the cucumbers just before eating otherwise the sandwiches get soggy, Bovril on toast (Chris)but not any old toast, make sure you use artisanal sourdough bread, spread on orangic butter first and THEN spread on the Bovril, my Cheesy sausage biscuits (me), and Ramen noodles with…get ready for it…..SPAM!! (Lizzie) Yup, fried spam and it was the biggest hit of the evening, although I think my biscuits were a close runner up (the secret ingredient is Bisquik). I, however, have discovered a new love of all things made from beef or yeast extracts and was reminded of my childhood breakfast companion- Spam. Rather then bring a guilty pleasure to eat, Dan decided to do a bit of blind winetasting and brought a selection of Bibendum wines for us to taste and vote on. His theme was everyday wines you’ll probably like’ vs. ‘posher wines you should like but might not’. I have these cool wine bags that I got for Christmas...

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