Win a pair of tickets to Vinopolis’ Grapevine Tour

I haven’t been to Vinopolis for some time but I was there the other night and was really surprised by how much they’ve spruced up the joint. There is a restaurant under the arches along with a cool bar and there are quite a few new exhibits. If you’re a newbie to wine (or want to learn more about drinks), this is a good place to start. Not to mention the Laithwaites shop which is attached to Vinopolis. You can take home a bottle or two if you so feel inspired after visiting. If you’re looking for an introduction to wine “The Grapevine tour for Two” is a good place to start. Itincludes a “how to” session, teaching you how to describe wine easily as well as tasting through 6 different wines and a cocktail to round things out. I’m giving away a pair of tickets and all you have to do is leave a comment here or on The Winesleuth’s Facebook page, telling me why you want to visit Vinopolis. Contest ends midnight, Saturday 3 March 2012. Good luck! Thanks to for providing the prize tickets. The T&C: Your prize voucher will be valid for 10 months and is for two people. The minimum age is 18. You can purchase additional tastings if you wish, but there’s no obligation. Vinopolis’ opening hours are: Mon-Wed (closed), Thurs-Fri (2pm- 10pm), Sat (12pm-10pm), Sun (12pm-6pm). Vinopolis isn’t open on any bank holidays, except for Good Friday. Last entry to the tour is 2.5 hours before closing on all days. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Nocturnes at Le Meurice, Paris

Le Meurice in Paris manages to combine understated elegance with quirkiness while at the same time enveloping you in a cocoon of luxury. That is the best way I can think of to describe this de luxe (in the truest sense of the word) luxury hotel. The history of the hotel goes back to 1771 in Calais where the founder of the hotel, Charles-Augustin Meurice took it upon himself to set up a hostelry for tired British travellers on their way to Paris. Charles Augustine owned a coach service and from there the travellers would take his coaches to Paris where – surprise! he set up a second inn for them to check into after the long journey from the coast. From these humble beginnings, Le Meurice was born. In 1835, the hotel moved to its present location, across from the Tuilieries. Due to it’s close proximity to the Louvre Palace, it soon became a favourite of visiting royalty and became known as the Hotel des Rois (Hotel of the Kings). Throughout the years the hotel also served as a refuge for royalty, as well, the Shah of Iran was actually staying at the hotel when he was deposed. Probably one of the most famous guests of the hotel was Salvador Dali. He would stay at the hotel every year for at least a month and was noted for his, shall we say, unusual behaviour. On one occasion he requested a herd of live sheep be delivered to his room and once they arrived began shooting at them with blanks! Ah, artists. Another time he asked the staff to catch flies in the Tuilieries and paid them the equivalent of 1 euro per fly. The legacy of Dali’s visit was the establishment of Prix Meurice for Contemporary Art. Launched in 2008, it’s aim is to support young French artists. As you enter the foyer of the hotel, you are greeted by a pair of almost entwined columns, one of the winners of the Meurice Prize. The...

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Wines at Altitude – Carmenere and Malbec

Jan 27, 12 Wines at Altitude – Carmenere and Malbec

Posted by in Argentina, Chile

I don’t hate Carmenere. It’s often referred to as the “marmite” of wine, you either love it or hate it. I fall into the ambivilent category, neither hating it nor loving it. I was given a little more insight into carmenere when I participated in a wine workshop sponsored by Santa Rita Estates, a premium Chilean producer, which sought to shed a bit more light on not only the wines of Chile but also it’s neighbour, Argentina and it’s flagship grape, Malbec. I participated only in the red wine tasting of the seminar but there was a white wine tasting in the morning. The Carmenere tasting was lead by Tim Atkin MW, Brian Croser and Peter Richards MW with Panellists Andres Ilabaca and Sebastian Labbe. Peter Richards MW noted that carmenere is still relatively new and that it needs more time and that he has “…no doubt that quality will increase in time. Lots of different kinds of Carmenere will emerge, as it’s a naturally varied variety…” Viña Casa Silva, Santa Rita Estates, Carmen Winemakers, and Concha y Toro were all on show, an mix of 2008 and 2009 vintages. What was most evident was the slight green notes of the wines and the tannins. I also found that there was a coffee bean character to them, but I liked that! The standout was not surprisingly a blend, 85% carmenere, 10% carignan and 5% cabernet the 2009 Apalta by Carmen Winemakers. Carmenere seems to work best when blended and this wine was fresh, spicy and full of fruit. The added varities seemed to give the wine a lift and extra dimension. Carmenere is still a work in progress for the Chileans. After a short break we reconvened for Malbec. I’ve drunk a lot of malbec, mostly in Argentina, so I was looking forward to tasting these wines. Colome Estate, Bodega Noemia, and Dona Paula were all on tasting. Salta is one of the highest altitude wine producing regions in the world, if not the...

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Bespoke Cheese & Wine tasting at the Andaz Liverpool St

Oct 31, 11 Bespoke Cheese & Wine tasting at the Andaz Liverpool St

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas

Hidden amongst the hustle and bustle of Liverpool St is the Andaz Hotel. I love the fact that the hotel is situated on the original site of the Bethlehem or “Bedlam”, as it became known in the local vernacular, mental institution. The hospital is long gone but it does make me wonder what sort of crazy goings-on could be playing out behind the stone facade even today. The Andaz was opened in 2007 and the hotel’s mission is to deliver a unique experience incorporating the local personality into the hotel. As the Andaz is located very near the tragically hip and trendy Shoreditch, the place has some rather interesting art work and decor. Having said all that though, I do love walking into the desk-less lobby. The hotel has 5 restaurants and bars from which to choose from and I was invited to try out the Bespoke wine and cheese tastings that they do in the 1901 restaurant. The restaurant also offers cheese and canape or cheese and small plates matchings with wine. First off the space is dominated by a long bar that runs down the centre of the room. It ends with tasting table at the end, surrounded by the wine racks and cheese cupboards. There are over 700 wines to choose from and the best of British cheeses for your bespoke experience. I asked the sommelier, Joris Beijn, to pick out the of wines to go with my British cheeses and a few small plates that we also ordered. Joris chose some fantastic wines to pair, an arneis from Piedmont, by Michele Chiarlo was a surprising start but I do enjoy those savoury Italian whites and this cracker of a wine ticked all the boxes, green apple, grapefruit, hints of lemon pie on an elegant body of wine. Great match with the harder cheeses. There was also a 2000 1er Cru St Aubin on offer as well as the 2006 Rubicon from Meerlust which was great with the very juicy and...

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Say cheese at the Bistro du Vin, Soho

Bistro du Vin is rapidly expanding their empire and have now branched out to Soho. So you may think, another Bistro du Vin but this one has something the other two don’t – a dedicated walk-in cheese locker in the main dining room. You can’t miss it, a brightly lit glass room at the end of the bar. Currently featuring over 50 cheeses from the hard to the runny soft, the cheeses all come from La Cave a Fromage in S. Kensington and are seasonal, as was explained to me by Cheese Master, Nicholas Broche of La Cave. I didn’t know this but cheese has a season much as fruit or veg. If you’re eating goats cheese in winter, it’s most likely not at it’s best. Interesting, I had no idea. Currently the cheeses at BdV are transitioning into winter, from light and fresh goat’s cheese to more substantial cheeses to warm you up in the coming cold winter days. Nicholas and Head Sommelier Romain Audrerie were putting on a cheese and wine matching event that evening, pairing wines from the BdV list to their cheese list. Nicholas would give us a short bio of the cheese before Romain came forward. Both were interesting and entertaining fonts of cheese and wine wisdom. We had 6 cheeses and 6 wines. Romain likes to go off the beaten path when it comes to wine and so we had a Franciacorta (Italian sparkling wine) with the first cheese, a brie from Chaource. Franciacorta seems to be all the rage at the moment but I am not a fan. Too dry for me and they always seem to have a particular bitter finish to them. The pairing though, was spot on as it softened the wine and cut through the salty fattiness of the cheese. Maybe Franciacorta is best drunk with food rather then on its own, at least for me at any rate. All the wine choices were inspired. From a gooseberry and hay tinged Sauvignon Blanc...

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