Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Jun 09, 15 Summer is Coming: The Best Wines for Summer Evenings

Posted by in All, Food and Wine

We’ve had a heatwave (sort of ) and so it’s official. Summer is on the way! This means long evenings out in the garden and barbecues. It also means a whole different load of wine to drink. Yes, even more different than the spring wines. After all, nobody really wants to sit inside nursing a bottle of red when the sun is out to play. To celebrate the imminent summer, here are the best wines for those warm evenings. Chateau Sainte Marguerite Organic Rose There’s something so refreshing about rose wine on a summer evening. Try to avoid the dark and rich looking wines, these are reserved for chilly, winter nights. Instead, opt for a rose that is pale in colour. The Chateau Sainte Marguerite sums up all that is right with the world of summer wine. It’s crisp and refreshing, a bit like taking a bite into a strawberry. This French wine is a must-have for dinners on the patio. Hunter Valley Chardonnay Looking for a dry white to accompany your fishy supper? This is the perfect wine to serve with prawn, salmon, lobster… Or even fish and chips if you fancy. The Hunter Valley is a prime example of Australian Chardonnay, which has become very up and coming in the wine world. It has all of the oakey undertones you would expect from a good Chardonnay too. Aglianico 2012 For those who refuse to put down their red, even when the sun is shining, this is the wine for you. After all, who can say no to a dark and fruity Italian wine? Although this may have an everyday price tag on it, you’ll find it tastes quite out of the ordinary. Serve this with some real Italian favourites – anything with tomato and basil in it, basically. It will go down a treat. Mount Bluff Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc NV Everyone has to have a bit of fizz in their life! Plus, summer is the perfect excuse to pop open a bottle....

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Dining with the wines of NZ winery Jackson Estate

Oct 20, 13 Dining with the wines of NZ winery Jackson Estate

Posted by in Food and Wine, New Zealand wine

A few weeks ago, I attended a dinner hosted by John Stichbury, owner of New Zealand winery, Jackson Estate and his head winemaker, Matt Patterson-Green. I remember sampling a few of Jackson Estates wines in the past and quite liked them so I was looking forward to the dinner and tasting. I like New Zealand sauvignon blanc although you have to be careful what you buy because there is a lot of boring sauvignon blanc cluttering the shelves. John told me over dinner that  Jackson Estate have always prided themselves on quality and have never compromised this idea. In his opinion, there are “too many wines that are boring as hell!” I couldn’t agree more. To back up his claims, we had a tasting of Jackson Estate wines with dinner at Sushino. A Brazilian/Japanese fusion restaurant, the food was an interesting combination of flavours. My favourite wines of the evening were the Gum Emperor 2010 pinot noir and the Grey Ghost Sauvignon Blanc 2011. John described The Grey Ghost as a  “winemakers wine,” putting s.blanc into oak is always slightly controversial and with the Grey Ghost, it goes into French oak barrels (though they are 6 years old) for an extended amount of time. The result is a smoky, flinty almost steely wine with a lot of complexity and texture. They also make this wine using the wild ferment which might also go towards giving it that elusive quality which gives it it’s name. The Gum Emperor is a single vineyard wine and his named after the stand of Gum Emperor trees that act as a wind break for the vines. An intense and brooding pinot, it has a lush body, silky smooth with medicinal, herbal notes on the nose and a striking minerality on the palate. Excellent, ripe fruit followed by balancing acidity make this a delicious wine on it’s own or paired with food. We were served Miso glazed lamb chops which were perfectly cooked and excellent with the wine. A very...

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Iittala’s Essence Plus wine glasses, does size matter?

Mar 25, 13 Iittala’s Essence Plus wine glasses, does size matter?

Posted by in Lifestyle

Does the size of a wineglass make a difference in your enjoyment of it? I think so but as a trained wine professional, I get paid to pick out the subtle differences in wine so anything that will help me when I’m tasting a wine is always welcome. But what about the average consumer who just wants to enjoy their glass of wine? I was asked to do a consumer demonstration with Iitalla’s  Essence Plus wineglasses the other day to see if the size of a wine glass does make a difference in one’s enjoyment of wine. The original Essence line from Iittala was released in 2001. Designed by Alfredo Haberli, the concept was focused on design types. The new Essence Plus line was developed with the intention to highlight the characteristics of  the wine. With that in mind, they have created 2 sizes of wine glasses — a larger one for full bodied older wines and a smaller one for lighter, younger wines. The full bodied wine glass having much more of a rounder and bigger bowl to hold the wine. I was intrigued by this idea and we had two wines to try – a Villa Maria Private Reserve pinot noir and a Villa Maria Private Reserve sauvignon blanc. New Zealand pinot noir is darker and heavier then more traditional pinots. In the bigger glass, most people did find that it enhanced the aromas of the wine but on the palate, the wine seemed to lose it’s energy and in the smaller glass showed itself more generously and made for a more enjoyable drinking experience. So, contrary to expectations, this NZ pinot noir was better in the smaller glass. I poured the sauvignon blanc into the smaller, traditional, “white wine” glass as well as the bigger glass. Again it was amusing for me to hear the reactions from the consumers, for them the aromas were more intense and the wine seemed to be lost in the bigger glass, it’s aromas dissipating and...

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Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc debut

Feb 15, 13 Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc debut

Posted by in New Zealand wine

Brancott Estate winemaker Patrick Materman was in town this week and unveiled their newest sauvignon blanc, the Brancott Estate Chosen Rows 2010. What makes this particular sauvignon blanc stand out from your run of the mill NZ s.blancs is that it is made with ageability in mind. Patrick and Brancott have produced what they hope will be a wine that shows that NZ s. blanc has aging potential, something that it has been accused of lacking in the past. The Chosen Rows experiment began in 2008 with the selection of 14 different plots around Marlborough. Patrick said that although primary fruit has been important for NZ s. blanc, he wanted to find a way to take it up a notch. So they “threw out the rule book” and started from scratch. They introduced many changes and experimented with things like indigenous fermentation, the use of oak, large formant barrels, foudres, and extended time on the lees, all in an effort to produce a s. blanc that would not only have ageability but also have concentrated texture and mouthfeel. They harvested 280 tonnes in 2009 but produced only 12 cases. After a few more tweaks, in 2010 they produced 3,500 cases of the 2010. Patrick had brought along the 2009 as well as the 2010, 2011 (which was a Fume Blanc style) and the still-in-barrel 2012. They haven’t decided on the final blend for the 2012 just  yet. I tasted the 2009 and found it to be a vibrant wine with a subtle fruit nose and rather austere, not as fleshy as I thought it would be, I had to bear in mind that this wine was the prototype for what was to come.  The 2010 definitely showed a lot more complexity and intensity – with an aromatic nose, textured but fresh with a good balance of fruit and acidity. The 2010 had been aged in large oak barrels and the oak was finely integrated into the wine. It was certainly not your everyday NZ...

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Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Oct 15, 12 Podcast with Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate

Posted by in New Zealand wine, Podcast

New Zealand winery, Yealands Estate recently won a slew of awards at the International Wine Challenge 2012 (The International Sauvignon Blanc Award, The James Rogers Award and the Marlborough White Wine Award), pretty impressive for a winery that only produced its first wines in 2008. Their chief winemaker, Tamra Washington was in town to collect the awards and on a European tour to promote their wines. I had dinner with Tamra in Brixton at Upstairs where I had the opportunity to ask Tamra about her awards, where she things New Zealand sauvignon blanc is going in the future and about the exciting possibilities that Yealands has with a block of pinot noir she discovered in Otago. Click on the link below to hear the podcast: Tamra Washington, Chief Winemaker of Yealands Estate, New Zealand. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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