What a year it’s been! So long 2009, Hello 2010…

I’m not really one to look back, I’m either daydreaming about the future or looking forward to tonight’s wine – more or less the same thing. But I saw one of Niamh’s tweets about her year-end round-up and it got me to reminiscing about my vinous adventures this past  year. The great thing about a blog – I’ve got a record of many of my favourite drinking adventures. Not all of them mind you, because many I just never got around to blogging about but I did manage to put up almost 120 blog posts this year! I would have done more but I was computer-less over the summer after my laptop was stolen in June. This was definitely the year that The Winesleuth embraced video in all it’s gory messiness. Whether the videos made any sense, well, I’ll let you decide but I sure did have a lot of fun making them. I’d like to get a bit more creative in 2010 and maybe even, dare I say it, a bit more professional. My favourites of the year include ones I made with my good friend and fellow wineblogger Wine90 – she just cracks me up. Here we’re reviewing the Balfour Brut Rose…. But Bibendum Dan was another excellent foil, here we are talking about hairy armpit wines… Fun events, as when Catavino came to town and their winetasting at Vinoteca… [viddler id=74e84e69&w=437&h=333] or the Naked Wines Argentine wine auction….. [viddler id=f70e4865&w=437&h=392] and then there’s just amusing and charming winemakers…Etienne Hugel of the Alsatian winemaker Hugel & Fils… [viddler id=9fe1ae3d&w=437&h=392] and Neil McGuigan of the Australian McGuigan Vineyards, to name a few… [viddler id=49575c47&w=437&h=392] And, of course, the vids of my wine reviews, my favourite has to be one I did in S. Carolina while I was on holiday – every time I see it, it reminds me of what a great holiday I had… Of course there was Twitter as well and the Foodies, most especially Eatlikeagirl with whom I did the...

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Castello Banfi Brunello and a long Friday lunch

My infatuation with Italian wine continues. A is for Amarone. B is for Brunello di Montelcino, bodalicious, complex, tasty, lipsmackingly satisfying (ok,so I’m skipping around the alphabet and making up words) you get the point, I do love those Italians. Growing up with only the familiar wicker covered funnily shaped bottles of Chianti, that was my only exposure to Italian wine, that and the cheap dross I encountered when I first came to London as a student. The good old days. Why do they call them the good old days? I’d much rather be in the now and the fabulous wines I had the other day at lunch. A typical wet, dreary London afternoon found me on Savile Row on my way to the smart Italian restaurant, Sartoria, for lunch with Bibendum and Cristina Mariani-May (the next generation and co-CEO of the company) and Dante Cecchini (regional manager) of Castello Banfi . Bibendum is now importing the Castello Banfi range into the UK so this was our opportunity to sample their wares. Castello Banfi orginally started out importing Italian wines to America early in the 20th century and built up a very successful import business but in 1978 they decided to head back to their native land and founded the Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate. Once there they spent a considerable amount of time and money on research and are now one of the leaders of classifying sangiovese from Tuscany.  They’ve spent over 30 years on research and catalogued over 160 clones which they’ve narrowed that down to the 15 best clones for their wines. And Castello Banfi has generously shared their research with the world because they believe ..”all ships will rise when the tide comes in…” and their research can only benefit all of Montalcino. Castello Banfi were also one of the first to plant international varieties in Tuscany, creating the “super-Tuscans” and we got to sample one during lunch. Nothing more civilized then a 5 course meal with matching wines for lunch, now is there? The food was fantastic but the real stars of the...

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Bibendum & Twitter Taste Live!

Bibendum had their annual trade tasting last week and what a show! It was at the new Saatchi Gallery in the old Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea. They’ve done wonders with the old barracks, perfect gallery space with lots of connecting hallways and stairs to who-knows-where. Every turn revealed a delightful surprise of winetasting. The show was an opportunity for Bibendum to showcase their catalogue and they had everything from Asda own brand to Krug vintage with plenty of stops in between. I was there not just to taste but also to participate in the firstever Bibendum Twitter Taste Live! Dan Coward of Bibendum and Rob McIntosh of  wineconversation organized the event. There were about 10 of us. Lots of food bloggers, not enough wine bloggers. C’mon winos,  you need to show up! Surf4wine, Spittoon, wineconversation and me, The Winesleuth,  representin’ the wine-rs. Food Stories, Eatlikeagirl, Hollowlegs, CheeseandBiscuits, a couple others I can’t remember and Documentally, who, I think, was the techie guy. He certainly seemed like it with his Mac, I-phone and portable router. We twittered on 3 wines, the Austrian Laurenz V. ’07 Friendly Gruner Veltliner, the Spanish Dinastia Vivanco ’05 Rioja crianza and the Californian Delicato ’06 Old Vines Zinfandel. The twittering was a blast! Lots of bloggers from around the UK and one even stripped off his shirt (via webcam) for us ( thanks for the suggestion, HollowLegs!). I lost my twitter notes but if memory serves, the Gruner was med bodied, nicely peppery, with notes of hay and grass. The Dinastia Vivanco (or “dinosaur” as one twitter so eloquently put it) – loads of cherry and spice and the Old Vines Zin, bit confected and full bodied, smokey with lots of black fruits. That’s all I remember. Have to remember to save Twitter notes next time! I had a chance to speak with David DeBoer, VP of International Sales of Delicato at the end of the day, more on that in the next post or two. For now, back to editing my next video. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bibendum’s friends and family offer

My friends over at Bibendum have come up with some help in these recessional times for friends and family. A limited time offer of 20 percent off some cracking cases of wine and champagne! They’ve got one of my favourite champagnes in on the offer, Bruno Paillard NV as well as that scrumptious English sparkler – Balfour Brut Sparkling Rose. There are some great whites on offer as well. The Australian Knappstein Handpicked Riesling ’07, Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Mosel Riesling ’07, Bouchard white Bourgogne ’07 and Springfield Estate Sauvignon ’07 from S. Africa, among others. On the red side, they’ve got Dinastia Vivanco Reserva Rioja ’01, the Catena Alta Malbec ‘05 (Argentina) and the Marmesa Edna Valley Syrah ’05 from California, amongst other great buys available. So get on over there and check out the rest of the list of wines on their friends and family offer. It’s valid til Christmas but get your orders in by Dec 12th for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Valdivieso Fireworks

Alcohol and a river cruise? Seeing as I’m somewhat prone to seasickness, I was a bit hesitant but since it was on the River Thames, I thought, what the hell. Valdivieso Wines of Chile and Bibendum joined up to host a cruise down the Thames for Guy Fawkes Day this week and what a cruise! Valdivieso was founded in 1879 and the first wines they produced were sparkling wines, so it was onlyfitting that we started off the night with their Extra brut. As we boarded the Silver Sturgeon at the Savoy Pier we were greeted by trays of the Valdivieso Firecracker, a cocktail of brandy, fresh morello cherries, cinnamon liquor and Valdivieso Extra Brut sparkling wine. Fantastic! It   was so easy to down a couple of those before dinner. Valdivieso were showcasing their Reserve wines for us and we sampled the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ’06, Reserve Viognier ’07, Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ’06 and the Reserve Syrah ’05. Notice how they prefer to call it Syrah as opposed to Shiraz. The whites were superb. I found the Reserve Sauvignon blanc ’06 to have plenty of tropical fruits on the nose and palate as well as a lovely herbaceousness to it, with a well rounded, almost silky body but with a crispiness to it that didn’t let me down at dinner. The Reserve Viognier ’07 was also well done. A fabulous floral nose, quite aromatic on a full bodied but not oily wine. The winemakers produced a well balanced wine with the ability to cleanse the palate while at the same time not losing any of the fruit characteristics of the varietal.  Both of these wines were great on their own but they really rose to the occasion with the fish pie served for dinner. The reds were no less impressive, although I thought the Reserve Syrah 05 was the standout of the evening. Chile is really beginning to make a name for itself with syrah and based on this liquid elixir, I can see why. A wonderfully spicy nose up front, typical black pepper notes...

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