Villa Maria wines and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Oct 16, 11 Villa Maria wines and the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Posted by in New Zealand wine

I went to a performance of the  London  Philharmonic Orchestra the other night as a guest of Villa Maria wines. I remember Villa Maria from my days at Oddbins but haven’t really had an opportunity to try their wines. I see them occasionally in the supermarket but that’s about it. Villa Maria has been supporting the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the past 4 years and lays on a hospitality bar for the LPO, when they perform at the Southbank  Royal Festival Hall.  It was a civilized way to start the evening, mingling with members of the orchestra and other guests, nibbling on canapes and sipping on Villa Maria wines.There were a variety of wines on tasting including the rose, the sauvingon blanc and the 2009 Private Bin Hawkes Bay Merlot/Cabernet, a Bordeaux blend. The 2009 was an easy going, very drinkable red wine and perfect as an aperitif, although at 13.5%, you do have to be careful you don’t drink too much of it with canapes. We were there to hear Yannick Nezet-Seguin from Montreal conduct the orchestra. I do enjoy attending such events and one of the highlights has to be the 87 year old pianist, Aldo Ciccolini. He was amazing, performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K466 with such energy. I hope I have even a 10th of Aldo’s pizzazz when I’m in my 80’s. I thinks it’s great that Villa Maria supports the arts, especially in light of the recent budget cuts. A big thank you to Villa Maria for inviting me to the performance. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Cloudy Bay Crab Shack, coming to Parsons Green

Summertime. Time to head outdoors and enjoy whatever sun we can get here in London. Cloudy Bay is getting into the spirit of the season and featuring a touring crab shack in the UK. They’ve teamed up with Chef Tom Aikens to bring sustainable seafood to the people. I was one of a few lucky wine and food bloggers invited to Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea to match Tom’s especially created dishes with Cloudy Bay wines. Tom had come up with 8 different seafood dishes which we had to narrow down to the top 4 and match them with Cloudy Bay’s range. It wasn’t easy as all the dishes were delicious, although there was a bone of contention as to the merits of the salmon with chili lime peanut crumb. It was good but nowhere near as good as the spiced crab cakes with tomato salsa and guacamole. That had me reminiscing about the Maryland crabcakes I enjoyed when I lived in the States. The crabcake was matched with Cloudy Bay’s 08 Chardonnay and it was a lovely match. The chard was not too heavily oaked, the tropical fruit highlighted as well as the spiced notes which married well with the crab cakes. One of my favourite Cloudy Bay wines is the 2006 Te koko sauvignon blanc. I do adore this wine. Fermented with wild yeasts and left by itself for anywhere from 3 – 12 months to finish fermentation in open oak barrels, it is a unique wine. I tried this wine a year ago and my has it evolved since then. I enjoyed it then and I still do now but what a different profile. Where as before it was quite buttery and yeasty, now it had acquired a mineral, savoury character with some very creamy notes and lifted white flower notes, most notably jasmine come to mind with a savoury palate and a lemony citrus finish. Matched with the fried paprika squid with lime, a tasty combination, the squid very tender and...

read more

Kai Schubert

What if I told you, you could get world class Burgundy at a fraction of it’s normal price? You’d jump at it wouldn’t you? Well, here is your opportunity but it’s not from France as you might think, it’s from New Zealand. I was at the Wine Cellar at the Bluebird the other night for a wine tasting of NZ wines made by the German winemaker Kai Schubert. Kai Schubert and his partner, Marion Deimling, both graduates of the Viticulture and Oenology University in Geisenheim, Germany worked in vineyards around the world, stopping in Europe, Oregon and S. America before finally settling in New Zealand to grow and make the notoriously difficult pinot noir. They found what they thought was the best site in Wairarapa Valley, near the town of Martinborough and founded Kai Schubert Vineyards. The pair bought an established vineyard in 1998 and began planting pinot noir which comprises more than 75% of their plantings. The remainder is comprised of syrah, cabernet and merlot as well as some white varietals. Their first vintage of pinot noir was released in 2003 and they haven’t looked back since. Schubert’s 2004 Pinot Noir “Block B” even beat out the 1999 “Musigny Grand Cru” of Comte de Vogue, Chambolle Musigny (€450 in Germany) in a blind tasting held in Berlin recently. Kai brought a couple of whites and his prizewinning pinot noirs for us to sample. I was a bit late so I missed the white wines but I was able to get my mitts on the pinots and the syrah. Kai’s pinots were cool, sleek, elegant offerings like the afghan hounds one sees lounging insouciently in 18th century paintings.   I loved the Marion’s Vineyard 2006 pinot noir (£26). Kai says that legend has it a Kiwi winemaker travelled to La Tache in Burgundy and stole a few clippings. On returning to NZ he was busted by customs trying to smuggle the cuttings into the country. Of course the cuttings were confiscated but rather then burning the plants, the Customs Officer took them home and planted them. Thus the Able clone...

read more

Stokes Fine Wine tasting

The Groucho Club is probably better known as the place to see media movers and shakers but last week one upstairs room was taken over for the Stokes Fine Wine Spring Portfolio tasting. It was a small affair but as we know, bigger is not always better. The standouts, for me, of the tasting were some amazing New Zealand wines. Auntsfield Winery is the site of the first colonial vineyard and winery established in Marlboro back in 1873. They produced quality wines for 50 years before falling into disuse during the Great Depression. They’ve now been revived by the Cowley family who are busy making some fabulous wines! I sampled the ’05 Auntsfield Cob Cottage Chardonnay– creamy, fresh fruit, full bodied, nicely balanced. Their pinot noirs were also excellent Marlboro offerings. The ’06 Hawk Hill  had this lovely savouriness, great minerality with plenty of red berries in the undertow and a bit of spiciness, smooooth…. The ’05 Heritage even better, it had been infused with 100  year old wine that had been found on the estate from the original vineyard. Upfront fruit, ripe raspberries and black cherries and again that lovely hint of wet rocks swirling around. Rabbit Ranch was another stellar performer. A collective of vineyards in the Central Otago region, they are getting together and making some delicious red and white vinous delights. The ’08 Pinot gris – ripe mandarins, full bodied, citrus aromas and flavours, definitely worth seeking out. Their pinot’s – fabulous!  ’08 Rabbit Ranch Central Otago P.N. plenty of ripe red fruits, lovely smokiness and silky – a winner. The ’07 Sliding  Hill from Marlboro another fabulous offering, showcasing the best of  Marlboro,smokey, perfumed red fruits, a whiff of autumnal scents on the nose, light bodied but plenty of red fruits. I could have taken them home with me then and there. There were some other lovelies there as well but I was really bowled over by these NZ wines. Really worth seeking out. These NZ boutique wineries are proving that sauvignon blanc is not the only wine those Kiwis...

read more

Takatu wines from NZ

After the Austrian tasting, my tasting day was not yet over. A leisurely stop at Caffe Nero for a strong cup of joe, I caught the #11 bus to Chelsea for a New Zealand evening winetasting at the Bluebird. Penny had another boutique winery on tasting, this one from the Takatu peninsula from whence the winery gets its name. Takatu translates as “well prepared”  and the owners have done everything to ensure that their winery is well prepared to produce amazing wines. According to the website, “the topsoil was removed prior to planting in 2000, leaving only iron rich soils adding depth and opulence to the fruit. The vines are densely planted ( 4000 vines per hectare), no irrigation and extreme pruning ensure very low yields and other sustainable viticultural practices all ensure only the best wine is produced.”  They also use wild yeasts when possible. The winery  really is boutique, producing only 3 distinct wines. John Forsman, the owner and winemaker was on hand all the way from NZ to take us through the tasting. Luckily, he flies 747’s when he’s not making wine so coming to London just to do a tasting at the Bluebird was not too much of a stretch. We started with the ’07 Takatu pinot gris. The minerality of the soil really came jumped out of the glass. Stony fruits – apricots, pears, ripe pineapple on the nose. A  full, creamy palate with loads of fresh pears and tropical fruit rolling around my mouth. A pleasure to imbibe. The next two wines were reds. The ’06 Kawau Bay Merlot was a complex joy to drink. Loads of cherry, blackberries and spicy plums on the nose whilst the palate was nicely understated, all cigar box/cedar flavours against a backdrop of understated fruit, smooth and well structured. I could see having this with a nice hunk o’ meat. The last wine was their cuvee, the ‘ 05 Takatu Merlot Franc Malbec. This was one of the wines that was naturally fermented with wild yeasts.  An amazingly...

read more
%d bloggers like this: