Napa Valley

Napa Valley (Photo credit: Sarah_Ackerman)

As two of my best friends are likely to be heading down to California in the summer for a honeymoon, I thought I’d take to chance to sample some wine from Napa Valley, where I’d heard that some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon is grown and made. Again, an area I’d never tried decent wine from.

The bottle we chose was Oberon Hillside Reserve, which we had towards the end of a lengthy BBQ. The weather over the bank holiday was excellent, but was just starting to cool off as we finally got the rib-eye out and decanted the Oberon.

I’m starting to gauge how good a wine is initially by letting my housemate Steve have a sniff before I do. I knew this time that we were about to taste something pretty special from the look of awe that crossed his face.

It’s an unbelievably delightful mix of berry fruit, with typical Cabernet cassis aromas. And so beautiful on the palette. Smooth and delicious. So much so that I’m imploring you to go and buy some immediately!

Richie and Liz have got lots to look forward to if the rest of the vineyards are this good.

Old Talbot

Label from a bottle of 2000 Chateau Talbot

Label from a bottle of 2000 Chateau Talbot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An interesting little chat with one of Dad’s parishioners last night revealed that there really is difference in price between certain wines and certain vintages.

He related a story about a time when he saw the same bottle of wine with a price difference of 40 € per bottle in two different shops in France. Same vintage, same château. Shopping around, even in France, can prove a decent idea!

Having said that, when the wine he was shopping for was Château Talbot, you should try and buy it when you see it!

Find it here and here

Easter Wine

A glass of sparkling wine from the Limoux regi...

A glass of sparkling wine from the Limoux region of France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what to drink for Easter? It’s about this time that my thoughts turn to white wine – which would especially be the case with the clocks going forward this Easter weekend.

Bit cold though isn’t it?! My feeling is that we might have to talk a little more about an Aussie Shiraz at 13.5% upwards, or something bold like an Argentinian Malbec, or a Primitivo from the south of Italy. Anything to help heat up!

Easter is also, of course, a time when lamb comes into the equation for your Sunday lunch. If there’s a country that does wines for lamb well, it’s Spain. I’ve noted already on this blog that Rioja is a fabulously versatile food wine, but anything red from Spain will go nicely. Campo de Borja DO, and Catalunya DO are two other excellent regions to consider with your Easter fare.

I’ll be honest, I’m also going to try and crack out some fizz. Not champagne, but rather Blanquette de Limoux, which my Dad’s been going on about for ages. I managed to lay my hands on some finally, so I finally get to see what the fuss is about!

Something to consider

, British wine writer and broadcaster.

, British wine writer and broadcaster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s never really been a better time to try a wine from somewhere you’ve never had a wine from. Thanks to a good friend of mine, Perri Lewis (check her out at http://makeanddowithperri.wordpress.com/) I’ve a wine from the Holy Land to try out over the next few months – I’m immensely excited about this.But over the last year or so, I’ve been drinking wines from Moldova and Hungary, as well as Oregon and Patagonia. It’s a great time to consider something totally off the accepted wine map. One of my wine heroes, Oz Clarke, is a big fan of not just sticking to what you know. The more of his stuff I read the more tempted I am to agree with him. Try new things! And search his books out if you can find them.

Having said that, I’ve got a bit of Bordeaux to get through at the moment too.Some things are a bit too good to pass up.

More reviews will appear soon – I promise I’ve not given it up for Lent!


Wine male

Wine male (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Just got back from a week on retreat in Walsingham. Little to report on the wine front, but that might not matter too much. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and my wine life is about to get fairly exciting as well.

First things first – we went to the Laithwaite’s wine show a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t intending to buy too much, and in the end settled for 4 bottles – but a couple of belters. There’s a 2001 Gran Reserva Rioja and potentially the best wine I have ever tasted – a 1989 Moulis-en-Medoc. Steve and I had this about 10 weeks ago at a little tasting we did at the shop, and then the show reminded me how good it was. A purchase was a foregone conclusion.

Then thanks to the lovely Rosie Bainbridge, we’ll be sampling some of Trinity College, Cambridge‘s cellar (she’s the smartest person I know). On the shortlist there is another millennium Bordeaux on the mark, a Nuits Saint Georges, and most importantly – a 1992 Puligny-Montrachet…without any shadow of a doubt, this will be the best bottle of white I’ll have ever drunk.

And we’ve also got the delights of Christmass in the Bartlett household. The Almighty alone knows what that will entail but it’s sure to impress.

All in all a good few week’s wine in store. Hope for the same for you!

A New Way?


vineyards (Photo credit: nickherber)

Customer choices

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be asked to a wine tasting for a company called Naked Wines. It was a company I’d not heard too much about previously, but I did a bit of research, and was a little taken aback by what I read.

The premise seems simple. A bunch of wine enthusiasts got together to provide a platform in the UK for winemakers who needed one. They sponsored some, and got wines never seen on these shores into the wine racks of those with a sense of adventure or exploration. Wines are offered by the company like any other merchant, but they also have a scheme where customers can save a certain amount of money each month, and this gets invested in discovering and funding new wine ventures – either searching for new winemakers, or helping to provide better equipment for existing providers.

I found myself with a group of the company’s customers in a small room off the Mall. 50 wines to taste, and a not insignificant amount of money at stake. We were tasting a group of wines from Chile, mostly reds. I was a little unconvinced at first. Like me, most of the people there were enthusiasts like me. No-one I spoke to had a huge amount in the way of formal wine qualifications. Who were we to decide on what should be imported?!

Yet reflecting on the day now, it made perfect sense. The company had used its core customer base to decide what to sell…to its core customer base! From an economic standpoint, it makes excellent sense. Naked know that any investment made is going to pay off. Recommendations of fellow drinkers are certainly important in the wine world!

In the end there was a clear winner, a splendid Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva which drew appreciative murmurs when being nosed, and crucially followed it up with a mouth filling, rich burst of fruit. So we had a little re-taste. It seemed a great way to round off a day which made me think a lot more about the consumer’s part in the wine trade.