Sherry en rama, tasting with Beltran Domecq, president of the Sherry Institute

Mar 21, 13 Sherry en rama, tasting with Beltran Domecq, president of the Sherry Institute

Posted by in Spain

Yesterday I had a masterclass of sherry with the recently appointed president of the Sherry Institute (or Consejo Regulador as it’s known in Spanish), Beltran Domecq. Beltran’s family has been involved in sherry for literally centuries, his father is from the Gonzalez family of Gonzalez Byass fame. Beltran was in town in his new role to promote sherry and not just any sherry but en rama,  a style of sherry that has only recently been introduced to the consumer despite being something that has always been relatively easy to produce.  The main difference between fino sherry and en rama is that the sherry is directly taken from the barrel and is minimally treated before being sent off. Fino sherry is usually stabilized, the excessive proteins that can cause cloudiness are removed as well as tartrates and micro-organism that could affect the development or lack there of in the bottle. The result is what some would call a “natural” sherry or sherry in a purer form. The wine is lightly stabilized but the goal is to keep the sherry in it’s “straight from the barrel” form. The result are fino sherries with a lot more colour, body and flavour. “En rama” stays in the barrel between 2-6 years before being bottled. I tasted through a series of 12 different fino en rama sherries and what an experience. This was turbocharged sherry – full bodied, with a pungent and aromatic nose, a dry wine that is long lasting and very savoury. Beltran believes that sherry should be drunk with food and I certainly do agree with him. The drying quality, savouriness and minerality of the “en rama” is perfect to clear your palate for the next mouthful. He suggested the traditional foods of Spain such as manchego cheese and jamon serrano but he also had a few surprising suggestions, including Chinese and Japanese food. Next time I have sushi, I’m going for a sherry. “En rama”, sadly is only available for a short time after it’s...

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2013 Night Harvesting with Anthony Scholz in the Barossa Valley

Feb 27, 13 2013 Night Harvesting with Anthony Scholz in the Barossa Valley

Posted by in Australia, Travel

The one good thing about jetlag is that it’s not a problem to meet a wine grower at 5am to go out and see the harvesting machines at work. I’d been up since 4am so I was glad to be out and about. I was in the Barossa Valley for a very quick trip last week and serendipitously it was also the tail end of the harvest. 2013 happens to be a bit of a strange year in the Barossa as it’s a very early harvest but not because of any particular reason. It just seems that all the grapes are ready to come in at the same time. Every grower and wine maker I talked to couldn’t quite explain why the harvest was so early but they were unanimous in their opinion that although it will be a small harvest, the grapes were in excellent condition and 2013 is on course to be a great vintage. It might not be as good as 2012 but it certainly wouldn’t be far behind. How I came to be riding on top of a grape harvester is a funny story. I tweeted that I was going to the Barossa and would have time to meet anyone who had time to talk to me. Two seconds later, winegrower Anthony Scholz tweeted me an invitation and a week later, there I was watching this gigantic machine beat the hell out of the vines.Little did I know that Anthony is one of the most innovative growers in the Barossa but more on that later. If you’ve ever walked behind a grape harvester you will know it is loud and violent. I felt sorry for the  poor vines, as I commented to Anthony, it’s kinda like a mini-earthquake for them. He assured me though that the vines are sturdy suckers and judging by the aftermath of the harvester, they looked none the worse for wear to me. I later found out that the vines have so much water in them...

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Postcard from Adelaide – National Wine Centre of Australia

Feb 20, 13 Postcard from Adelaide – National Wine Centre of Australia

Posted by in Australia, Travel

I’m in the lovely city of Adelaide at the moment and yesterday I spent a good part of the day wondering the city. As I’m in one of the major wine producing states of Australia, it was no surprise to learn that they have the National Wine Centre of Australia right here in the town. The Centre is inside the Botanical Gardens which can make for a nice stroll to get there. The Centre is on the edge of the Gardens so you can also drive up and park nearby. Officially opened in 2004, the beautiful building housing the Centre has one of the largest open cellars in the Southern Hemisphere, they have up to 38,000 bottles with 12,000 in the cellar at any time. The Centre architecture has won quite a few awards and it’s a unique construction of steel and wood, very cool and sleek. There are  interactive displays including interviews with Australian winemakers and even a make your own wine display. I found that a lot of fun, especially considering my Eden Valley riesling was ‘awarded’ a Silver Medal 😉 They offer free daily tours at 11:30 everyday but you can walk in anytime for a self guided tour. Afterwards, there is a cafe on the ground floor where they offer regional and varietal wine tastings, all at very reasonable prices. The great thing about Adelaide is that wine is soooo reasonably priced. A fun way to get an overview of Australian wine before you head out to the vineyards. The Centre is open 7 days a week 9am – 5pm Located at the corner of Botanic and Hackney Roads. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Neil McGuigan and Vines in the City – podcast

Sep 28, 12 Neil McGuigan and Vines in the City – podcast

Posted by in Australia, Podcast

I first met Australian winemaker Neil McGuigan of McGuigan Wines a few years ago when the winery first did the “Vines in the City” event in London. I thought it was a great way to get consumers literally closer to the vines without the hassle of having to actually travel to a vineyard. Neil and Brian McGuigan were back on this side of the world recently, this time to launch some new wines and also to introduce their “Vines in the City” to the good people of Dublin. Having attended the opening, I can say it was a smashing success, sometimes we in the wine trade take for granted the fact that we can visit vineyards and talk to winemakers on a regular basis. It was great to hear what consumers had to say about the whole experience, in general I’d say it made them very enthusiastic to learn more about wine. Before they opened the gates, I sat down with Neil to find out more about the new wines they are launching in the UK and why they brought it to Dublin. You can hear the podcast on the following link: Neil McGuigan and Vines in the City A big thanks to Neil McGuigan for taking the time to chat with me. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Celebrity Cruises with Vinopolis and Oz Clarke this Autumn

Aug 14, 12 Celebrity Cruises with Vinopolis and Oz Clarke this Autumn

Posted by in Food and Wine, France, Portugal, Spain

Earlier this year I was invited to learn more about Celebrity Cruises at Vinopolis and it was a surprising evening for me. Cruise ships have definitely changed from the days of shuffleboard and the blue-rinse brigade, focusing on fine dining and wine as well as having a variety of shipboard activities and themed cruises. Celebrity Cruises is going to be offering wine themed cruises in September, October and November featuring some of the premier European wine regions. The cruises will be stopping in Spain, France and Portugal and will be offering wine seminars and sessions whilst on board. A very special cruise is departing on Oct 13 with Oz Clark and resident wine expert of Vinopolis, Tom Forrest on board to lead the wine masterclasses. Departing directly from Southampton the programme includes on board activities and expert led-sessions, such as introductions to wine tasting, meet and greet sessions and wine masterclasses from the key regions visited. The cruise will be calling at Paris (Le Havre, France), Bordeaux (Le Verdon, France), Bilbao (Spain), Vigo (Spain) and Porto (Portugal) and  is only available if booked directly with Celebrity Cruises on 0844 481 7682. The Winesleuth is going to be on this cruise as well so you can be sure to follow my adventures here, both at sea and ashore. In the meantime, here is a small taste of what to expect from Tom Forrest, who will be be conducting wine seminars along with Oz Clarke. Here, Tom is talking about a few of the wines and the regions they come from… *pics and video courtesy of Celebrity Cruises Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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