Portuguese wine producers and their unusual wines this week on The Wine Sleuth podcast

Feb 24, 12 Portuguese wine producers and their unusual wines this week on The Wine Sleuth podcast

Posted by in Podcast, Portugal

Last week I was in Porto, Portugal for the annual wine show Essencia do Vinho put on by the eponymous magazine, one of the 2 major wine magazines of Portugal. There are over 3000 wines and more then 350 producers on show. The show is for trade during the day and consumers at night. As you can imagine, it does get crowded. They estimate that over 20,000 people attend the show held in the ornate Palacio do Bolsa. While I was wondering around, I met some great producers and they are the focus of this weeks podcast. The first producer Quanta Terra. We had one of their table wines at lunch and later at the fair, I met up with their assistant wine maker, Pedro Guedes on the floor of the show where he was pouring their sparkling wine. Sparkling wine from the Douro? Yes, indeed. And Pedro tells me how Quanta Terra came to be in the bastion of port wine production. Portugal is famous for it’s port and one of my favourites is tawny port. My eye was caught by the iconic labels of Ramos Pinto. Ana Rosas, wine maker and part of the family, tells me why she loves making tawny port. And finally, over a long lunch, I chatted with Carlos Campolargo, wine producer from the lesser known region, Barreida. Although the region is knows for it’s sparkling, Carlos believes blends are the way forward. So sit back and have a listen to the very charming Portuguese… The Wine Sleuth on iTunes If you can’t access itunes,here is the podcast on Podomatic Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Jan 06, 12 English sparkling wine coming soon(ish) from the Isle of Sark

Posted by in England, Sparkling Wine, Travel

To be the first outside of the winemakers to try an experimental wine made by a well known Bordelais vigneron (with said winemaker standing right next to me) can be a bit nerve wracking. What if I hate it? What if it’s rubbish? What if I’m wrong and everyone else loves it? Well, none of those things happened when I found myself tasting the very first bottle of savagnin, fresh from the barrel. Savagnin is not a grape that I’m familiar with even if it does feature in the vin jaune wines of the Jura region. So, I was delighted and surprised to discover it was the first ever vintage of Sark wine. Yes, Sark as in the “Isle of,” one of the Channel Islands, closer the France then England but British nonetheless. The Sark savagnin was an experimental wine and in reality would only be used in small quantities for the final sparkling wine blend but it was intriguing to try the results of the first harvest of Sark. I was tasting with the Bordelais flying winemaker¬† and consultant, Alain Reynaud, who has been with the project from the very beginning. The vines were planted barely 18 months ago but a lot of care and planning went into the project before one vine was planted. Alain and soil consultant, David Pernet made many trips to the island to assess the terroir and find the best possible spots. The very first thing Alain did when he visited was to start digging through the first plot of land he was shown with his bare hands to see if the soil was suitable. They spent 6 months analyzing the soil before finally picking what they believe to be the best locations. Luckily, the island is primarily made up of granite and schist with a thin layer of topsoil – perfect to make those vines work hard. I don’t know what time of year Alain visited but I was there a few weeks ago (early Dec) and...

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Loving this cava – Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noir

Dec 28, 11 Loving this cava – Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noir

Posted by in Spain, Sparkling Wine

I usually stick to champagne but I did have this fabulous cava on Christmas Day. Codorniu is probably better known for it’s everyday cavas but the Reina Maria Cristina 2008 blanc de noirs cuvee is a contender for best sparkling wine (non-champagne) of the year in my book. The Reina is named after a queen (reina means queen in Spanish) and is worthy of such a moniker. Spain’s first 100% blanc de noir and produced in the traditional method, the 2008 vintage is Codorniu’s premium cava. The grapes used in the blend all come from family owned vineyards and the wine is aged 18-24 months before being released onto the market. A deliciously elegant wine, tiny bubbles shooting up from the bottom of the glass and into my mouth. Soft and silky¬† (if it’s possible to say that about bubbles) swooshing past my tongue on the way down. A decadent cava if ever there was one, full of subtle red fruit and floral aromas on the nose with a crisp finish. The Maria Cristina is probably one of the best cavas I’ve had in a long time. It also helps that the cava is packaged in a very distinctive, sexy bottle. It’s very pleasing to my aesthetic sense with it’s squarish bottom half tapering up to a heavy rim. I’d be very happy to drink this on New Year’s Eve and at ¬£14.99 you could have it more often than once a year. Much more often! Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Le Snob Guide to Champagne- a perfect little stocking stuffer

Le Snob Guide to Champagne, despite the name, is a great little stocking stuffer for the champagne lover in your life. I met Giles Fallowfield, the author of this handy little book at a champagne launch, afterwards, during lunch he introduced me to his book and I had to the chance to chat with him about all things champagne. Le Snob is a personal collection of what Giles believes are some of the best that Champagne has to offer. Luckily for him, he’s spent the last 20 years bopping around the region getting to know the Champenois and he’s poured (no pun intended) his views into this book. Giles is an expert in the field and has edited the Champagne section of Oz Clarke’s Pocket Wine Book since 2001 as well as being a contributor to various wine publications, including Decanter, Drinks Business, etc. Giles answers the question of why be a champagne snob first off and I tend to agree with him…”knowing more about the wines and styles that are available will enhance your appreciation….” Giles starts with a brief primer on champagne and then plunges into the various regions, styles and champagne houses. Each section is titled by the type of producer, “International Marques” “Regional Marques” etc. There is also a section called “Possess” which I just love because don’t you just love the idea of possessing champagne? And finally he finishes off with “Discover” where he gives a few tidbits on champagne bars and travel in Champagne but they only compromise a small portion of the book. This book is better at describing not only the well known marques but also the more interesting smaller champagne houses of the region. It’s not an exhaustive study of the wines of Champange but as the name implies, it’s what Giles considers…” wines that are worthy of the name champagne…” The perfect travelling size (less than 150 pages), it’s small enough to fit into your coat pocket or handbag. Le Snob Guide to Champagne...

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Billecart Salmon’s latest release – Brut Sous Bois

Sep 21, 11 Billecart Salmon’s latest release –  Brut Sous Bois

Posted by in Champagne

I rang up my friend Luiz (The London Foodie) the other day and asked him if he wanted to help me drink the latest release of Billecart Salmon champagne, the Brut Sous Bois as I hate to drink alone and nobody was home at the time. Being a good friend, and living just round the corner, Luiz agreed to help me out. “Sous Bois” literally means “under oak” and that is what Billecart-Salmon have done with their latest release, The Brut Sous Bois. The wines used to make the final blend have all been vinified entirely in oak. Billecart has gone back to the original way that the Champenois used to make their champagne by doing everything entirely in oak. Vinifing and aging in oak gives the wines body and texture as well as toasty,or in this case toastier notes. All three traditional Champagne grapes were used to make the wine, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot muenier. I wasn’t sure what to expect but on opening it, my nose was greeted with the enticing aromas of toast, ripe apples cinnamon and brioche, a bouquet of smells for my nose. The wine was a bright yellow in colour with teeny, tiny persistent bubbles. Looking at the glass, the bubbles could have almost been mistaken for moving pinpricks. On the palate, a rich and well balanced wine, the bubbles tap-dancing around my mouth and a complex palate of baked apples, yeasty-ness, grapefruit and a hint of toffee seemed to all be competing for attention. The finish was incredibly long and persistent, a champagne that was very easy to savour. I just so happened to have some saucisson with me and the fattiness of the sausage was washed clean away by the bubbles. A good champagne to have around for those Sunday afternoon lunches. Both Luiz and I thought this was a champagne that was tasting more vintage then non-vintage, excellent balance, not too rich but having good body and quite aromatic. Definitely, a winner. It looks...

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