Touraine and Rose d’Anjou – easy drinkers for the summer

Aug 11, 15 Touraine and Rose d’Anjou – easy drinkers for the summer

Posted by in All

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Loire Valley a few times and the wines never fail to surprise me. I often forget what wonderful easy drinking wines they are and how they pair so well with food due to their diverse flavour profiles. Recently, I attended a dinner with Square Meal at Portland Restaurant in Marylebone. The Portland serve seasonal produce and the dinner was full of fresh spring greens and veggies as well as a succulent pork belly but more on that in a minute. First the wines. We were served a selection of 3 rosés and 2 Touraine wines and one red Touraine wine. Touraine is made with sauvignon blanc and the rosés were mostly Grolleau, which is common in the Loire Valley. Touraine wines are a great choice for spring and summer as they are light and refreshing. We started with the Dom. Bellevue 2014 as an aperitif, very refreshing and crisp way to start the evening. The plan was to mix up the evening a bit and so we then moved onto a Rosé d’Anjou. These wines are off dry but when served with a fatty dish such as the pork rillettes that we scarfed down, they are perfect. Rosés are also great with dessert and the almond pithivier with raspberry jam was a great match, the red fruits in the wine pairing nicely with the strawberry jam. I also like the fact that the rosés are so light, unlike proper dessert wines, which although I love, can be a bit much after a heavy meal. We had the La Jaglerie  Rosé d’Anjou with dessert. As the Portland emphasises fresh and local produce, the main of old spot pig belly was excellent with the Red Touraine Les Marcottes Dom de Pierre 2012. Although the Loire is not known for it’s red wines, they do make vibrant red wines with loads of acidity and very fresh red and black fruit flavours. An excellent wine to cut through the fatty goodness...

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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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Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Sep 19, 12 Chatting with Sir George Fistonich of Villa Maria Estates

Posted by in New Zealand wine

“I’ve never met a wineblogger before, it was very nice talking to you…” That’s what Sir George Fistonich told me after we had spent about 45 minutes chatting about his Villa Maria Estates’ past, present and future. I was amused that he was amused to meet a “wineblogger”. Sir George was in town last night as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of Villa Maria Estates and that’s how I found myself chatting with him.  From the humble beginnings of leased land, George and his wife, Jane, have built Villa Maria into a well respected (and well awarded) wine brand.  I had the opportunity to chat with George and learn a bit  more about Villa Maria before a grand tasting and dinner at the BAFTA in Piccadilly. After initially talking about the history of Villa Maria, I asked George what he thought set Villa Maria apart from the rest and how they had managed to be so successful in a crowded field of brands. “Innovation and quality” was George’s reply. Villa Maria is one of the top 5 family owned wineries in New Zealand and George believes that the fact that it’s still family owned allows them to do things that wineries with shareholders just can’t do. For example, in 2001 when Villa Maria switched to all screwcaps, people thought that they were crazy, but they could do it because they had no one to answer to but themselves. As we now know, George was right in his decision to go all screwcap. Villa Maria also has the luxury of being able to do experimental plantings. They have a few hectares where they can plant basically whatever they want and see what happens. They are currently experimenting with verdelho, vermentino and arneis. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. George had brought along a sample of the arneis which we tried at the tasting and I have to say it was very good. It’s great to see a lesser known variety...

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