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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Riesling on a cold and dark December evening

I was reading the new wine social media portal, Bibendum Times the other day and they had a great article on bicycling through the Mosel. Sure you get your exercise but even better are the pitstops along the way to sample all those wonderful Mosel rieslings. Readers of  The Winesleuth will know that I absolutely adore riesling, especially German riesling  – pronounced REEZ-ling, that’s how I say it and that’s how my friend the wine blogger and Munich native, The Wine Rambler says it.   So I found myself last  Sunday evening on my way to Torsten’s (the Wine Rambler)  to sample some, unavailable in the UK, German rieslings. Torsten has such great German wine connections that he doesn’t even bother with buying anything here. I think German rieslings have a bad rep because of their startling fruitiness. Don’t be tempted to associate that fruitiness with “sweet” or call rieslings “sweet wines” even if they do have a good amoung of residual sugar. Despite that residual sugar, well made rieslings will have a fantastic streak of acidity running through them that perfectly balances the fruit, as well as a wonderful minerality, giving wines that are full of intense fruit but at the same time avoiding the pitfalls of being a cloying sugary concoction. Goldtropchen – “little drops of gold”. From the Mosel. Piesport to be exact.  The Piesporter region is known for it’s steep slopes, good exposure to the sun and slatey soils, all of which contribute to produce these top knotch wines. The Reinhold Haart Goldtropfchen Spatlese 2007 may still be in it’s infancy but it was a delicious drop of gold. Produced by one of the oldest and most prestigious vintners, the Haart family have been making wine since 1337, are one of the oldest wine-making families and have one of the oldest private wine estates in the Mosel. Although at 7.5 acres, it’s not exactly huge. The Haart’s use minimal intervention in the vineyards and are almost entirely organic. In order to allow...

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Millton Vineyards, pioneering biodynamic NZ wines

The Winesleuth has finally gotten a new job!! Yay!!!  I’m so glad to be moving on and my new job is with the natural  (and local) wine bar, Artisan and Vine. I met Kathryn (first post here) back in February and was so impressed by her enthusiasm and passion (see video here) for natural and local (read English) wines that I started hanging around A&V, even taking a trip with Kathryn to Davenport Vineyards (video here) this past March. And now I’ve joined A&V to be able to work with all those amazing, interesting natural wines.   Trafalgar roundabout from on high So earlier this week, I found myself at the top of New Zealand House on Haymarket, enjoying the views of London – London Eye on one side, Buck House on the other with  Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in between. It really makes you realize how closely packed everything is in London. Now you might be wondering, what the hell was the Winesleuth doing up in the penthouse of NZ House? Why, at a winetasting of course, deciding what new wines to add to the A&V list. They were of course natural and biodynamic wines, this batch from New Zealand with winemaker, James Millton of Millton Vineyards, Gisbourne, NZ, in attendance and hosted by the good folks of Vintage Roots, one of the UK’s leading organic wine specialists. Bio certified James and Annie Millton were one of the pioneers of natural, biodynamic wine production in the Southern Hemisphere, establishing their vineyard on the banks of the Te Arai River near Gisbourne on the North Island of New Zealand. The Millton philosophy is to produce wine traditionally using biodynamic techniques. They adhere to the original biodynmic principles as laid out by Dr Rudolf Stiener in 1924 and all the wines are certified biodynamic and have the “Bio-gro”organic trademark and grower number on the back of the bottle. What does this mean? In a nut shell it encompasses “…growing the grapes without the use of herbicides, insecticides, systemic fungicides or soluble fertilisers. It also...

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Elvis is in the building (or at least his wines are)

I always forget how much I love Elvis Presley’s music until I hear it, then it instantly transports me back to my childhood. My parents weren’t huge Elvis fans but my dad did like to pop in a cassette tape every now and then on road trips. Well, Elvis is back and here in the UK! Well, not entirely true, Elvis wines are trying to break into the UK wine market. Yup, an entrepreneurial Swede by the name of Dan Samson has already brought “The King”  to Sweden and the Netherlands. Dan has teamed up with Signature Wines  and their Graceland Cellars range to help bring Elvis to the masses again. Actually, it’s like the Marilyn Merlot brand of wine. Neither Marilyn nor Elvis have anything to do with the wine but their visages peer out at you and if it makes your nearest and dearest Elvis fan happy, what’s the harm? The Winesleuth (me)  had the chance to speak with Dan at the recent California Wine Trade Show here in London, watch the video to see what he had to say about Elvis in the building… I have to admit, I was rather dubious when I saw the wines but on tasting them all my doubts vanished. These were not just gimmick wines but also well made wines. I sampled the Jailhouse Rock Merlot and the Blue Suede Shoes Chardonnay. Both were approachable, easy drinking wines. The  merlot was soft and fruity but had a bit of structure to it and the chardonnay, while it did have oak on it, was not too oaky and had some nice ripe tropical fruit on the nose and palate. The wines have won numerous awards in the States at various competitions so the quality is certainly there. They’re not yet available in the UK but Dan believes that they’ll retail for around £8 – £10, reasonable for a Califoria wine in Europe. The grapes are sourced from the Santa Rosa Valley, in Northern California, near Sonoma Valley and all...

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Austrian grapes you’ve probably never heard of…

Started off the day in Chinatown for a bit of dim sum before heading off to the annual Austrian wine tasting held at the Institute of Directors on Pall Mall. There were still plenty of red lanterns hanging around, leftover from Chinese New Year. It put me in a good mood as we walked thru Leicester Sq and cut across Haymarket to get to the IOD. The Austrians are probably best know for Gruner Veltliner but there were plenty of other varietals available for tasting. What really surprised me was that gruner was not only light and zippy but could also be rich and full with aromas of melons, white flowers and peaches swirling around the glass. The Austrians are not afraid to use oak, although most of it was old oak barrels, there was a fair amount of new oak being used as well. Riesling was also well represented. I found most of them to be quite aromatic, green apples and citrus but dry. One exhibitor remarked that they were more similar to Alsatian rieslings rather then the typical off-dry German rieslings. What I found most interesting was the plethora of varietals on show and not just the usual suspects.  Blauer zweigelt– a red, quite cherry-ish, smooth and velvety. Welschriesling – not a riesling at all but a white meant to be drunk young, roter veltliner – another Austrian only varietal that has nothing to do with gruner. It was quite dry, spicy and smelled like wet rocks, lovely. Blaufrankisch– lovely stuff, loads of cherries. St. Laurent – another interesting red very rustic, wonder if it improves with age? Blauburgunder (pinot noir) was another varietal that kept popping up. Those were just some of the interesting  and different varietals on show. Alongside all the exotic Austrian varietals, there was also merlot, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon and even syrah(!). There was one amazing chardonnay from the Artner winery. Clocking in at 15 % alcohol, you’d never know it. Slightly buttery, creamy nose, very fresh on the palate...

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