Warwick Estate, S. African wine I like!

“Denise, there has been a slight change in our lunch plans today. Could you please call us? ” That was the first voice mail that greeted me on a recent Monday morning. I knew it was all that damn Icelandic volcano’s fault even before I returned the call. I was supposed to be attending a tasting and lunching with a Burgundy white wine producer that afternoon but I had a niggling feeling that lunch was going to have to be rescheduled due to the flight ban caused by the volcanic ash spewing into European air space. Rebecca,the PR rep, was very apologetic and to make up for the cancelled lunch offered me a lunch and tasting with James Dare, the stranded marketing director  of South African winery, Warwick Estate as a substitute. Much as the French winemaker couldn’t fly in, no one could fly out. James was stuck here until flights resumed. I’d gone from  a white Burgundy lunch to a S.African lunch in the space of two seconds. I was a bit hesitant because as many of you may know, I’m not a big fan of S.African wines but agreed because lately I have had some positive SA wine experiences and was curious to see what Warwick Estate had to offer. Lunch was at the delightful Islington restaurant, Frederick’s just off the high street. Walking in, it’s an oasis of calm with a lovely garden which is where we were seated. We sat down and James proceeded to give me a brief history of Warwick Estate as well as the Stellenbosch region since I wasn’t very well informed on the whole region.  Originally a fruit farm, in 1902 it was bought by Colonel Willam Alexander Gordon of the Warwickshire Regiment, converted into a vineyard and renamed Warwick Estate in honour of the regiment.  In 1964 the estate was bought by Stan and Norma Ratcliffe. The couple decided to plant cabernet. At first the grapes produced were sold to neighbouring wineries but Norma found...

read more

Vinhas da Ciderma-video tasting note w/the winemaker

I was wandering around the Annual Wines of Portugal tasting the other day at Lord’s Cricket Ground (one day I must get there to see an actual cricket match as opposed to just going and sampling wine) looking for good value red wines. I came across Vinhas da Ciderma and their winemaker Monica Figueiredo pouring their range of reds from the Douro Valley. Monica has been making wine at Vinhas da Ciderma since 2002. She uses only Douru Valley varietals and has made consistently excellent wines, gaining wide acclaim in the US from The Wine Spectator. She focuses on portuguese varietals tinta nacional, tinta roriz, tinta franca, tinta barroca and even the almost forgotten tinta francisca to produce full bodied yet fresh wines that can only be from the Douro Valley. One of my favourites was the Donzel Douro DOC Reserva 2005. A blend of tinta franca, tinta roriz and tinta francisca, aged 9 months in America oak, click on the vid to hear our tasting notes. Estimated retail price £10. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Guerilla Wine Tasting: A Guest Post from Gorilla

I’m so tired of wine being exclusive. I’m so bored of the London scene. Why can’t us Gorillas have some of the action? I love wine and I think I understand it, so I sent a message out to fellow wine lovers. “Join me by the river to explore and enjoy good wine.” We had fun. We had wine. You saw what all happened… Thanks to Casa Leal, Quinta de Lagoalva and Nicole Ruduss for all their help. And  lots of hugs and kisses for The Winesleuth and Eatlikeagirl for supporting me in my vinous quest. You can read Eatlikeagirl’s post about the tasting here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Burgundy en primeur

I have discovered that there is an art to tasting Burgundy en primeur. And, as with all art, it’s something that takes time to master. I went along to Berry Bros & Rudd burgundy en primeur tasting a couple of weeks ago and it was an eye opening experience. Wandering around with various Masters of Wine in attendance, it was a bit intimidating. Most of the producers also seemed to have only  a passing acquaintance with the English language which left me feeling quite inadequate. What is it about the French language that leaves me tongue tied? I really am going to make an effort to at least learn the basics in 2010. Back to the tasting. It was hard to make any real judgements but I did find that most of the 2008 white Burgundies were drinking well already. Some of the whites were really aromatic. At one point, Sarah, who was tasting with me, commented that my perfume was overpowering a wine and I had to remind her that I wasn’t wearing any perfume! She was smelling the aromas of the wine. That was a Meursault and a good example of the character of the whites we tried. As for the reds, really green and astringent but maybe that’s just my inexperience with red Burgundy en primeur. There were a few standouts but they were Grand Crus or better still, Vosne Romanee! It was an interesting experience because I know in a  year or two some of these wines will be starting to show quite well but for now, I’ll just have to wait. Or maybe I should consider sharpening my en primeur skills for next year’s vintage…. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

read more

Japanese Wine hits London

January is the beginnning of wine tasting season in the London. I’ve been so busy going to events that I have been woefully neglecting The Wineslueth but now I’ve made a promise to myself to get back into the blogging habit. Let’s start off with the most interesting tasting last week – wines from Japan.  Japanese wine is breaking into the London market (or at least trying to). The Japanese came to town last week with one of their oldest grape varietals, koshubudo or koshu for short. 15 wine producers have banded together to form the Koshu of Japan (KOJ) association to ensure quality and promote the varietal to the world. Speaking to one of the producers, he told me that koshu was brought to Japan a thousand or so years ago and came from the Caucusus. I suppose a thousand years is long enough for a varietal to be considered indigenous. Koshu is grown in the Yamanashi province close to Mount Fuji and there are 80 wineries producing not only koshu but also international varietals like chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cab franc and merlot among others. Many of the wineries go back to the late 1880’s but the majority were founded between the two major world wars. Wines made from 100% Koshu was on tasting last week at the Imagination Gallery in Central London. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the wines.  The general characteristics, pale, straw coloured wines with a pronounced citrus flavour profile. I also found distinctive mineral notes in many of the wines, the product of the volcanic soils where the vineyards are located. Many of the wines were also aged in barrels or sur lees which gave the wines body. I got to chatting with  the winemaker of Diamond Winery, founded in 1939 as a cooperative and then converted to a winery in 1963,  Yoshio Amemiya. Yoshio spent 3 years overseas, studying winemaking techniques in Bordeaux, Burgundy and one other place in France. In 2003...

read more
%d bloggers like this: