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You’re Feeling Fat And Feeling Full, But There’s One More Course Yet To Do!

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Welcome to the final part of our Christmas Dinner Wine Guide, you’ve nearly made it! The first three courses were a resounding success because you have obviously followed Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this guide but, by some minor miracle, people are still able to cram cheese and biscuits down their throats!

You’ve done yourself proud so far, but you can still fall flat on your face at the final hurdle. This is because the cheese board is laden with potential booby traps that could end your hard work on a severely flat note! The biggest mistake that is often made is continuing to serve the red wine from the previous courses with the cheese.

The problem here is that very few cheeses go with red wine. Many cheeses contain varying degrees of salt and this is not a good combination with the tannins in red vino. It also doesn’t help that the huge range of cheese on offer makes it nigh on impossible to stick with a single wine; some are full fat or salty, often they are very strongly flavoured and the texture can be very gluey and mouth-coating.

If you’re hell bent on serving red wine, ensure that it is a mature one as these will have significantly softer tannins. Hard cheese that is neither salty or strong is your best friend with red wine; in fact, hard cheeses are the most forgiving when it comes to any wine pairing. Look towards classic English cheeses like cheddar as a good example of a hard cheese and red wine combo.

If you only take one piece of advice from this article, let it be that, as a general rule, white wine compliments cheese considerably better than red. This is because they contain no tannins. Below you will find a list of popular cheeses and my recommendations.


The strong, overpowering flavours of Stilton must be tackled head on with a good vintage port that will match the cheese blow for blow.

Quality At A Low Price

Krohn 2005 Vintage Port 20% 75cl (£26.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Niepoort 2000 Vintage port 20% 75cl (£56.00)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Grahams 1977 Vintage Port 21% 75cl (£117.00)


This lovely French cheese goes beautifully with sweet white wines, especially Sauternes or Barsac.

Quality At A Low Price

Mouton Cadet Reserve Sauternes 2010 13% 75cl (£21.50)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Chateau Suduiraut Ier Cru Classe 1998 Sauternes 13.5% 75cl (£57.50)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Chateau D’Yquem 1997 Ier Crand Cru Sauternes 75cl (£319.00)

Goat’s Cheese

Whilst Sancerre is the traditional selection, try a Sauvignon Blanc to match acidity and flavour.

Quality At A Low Price

Montevista Sauvignon Blanc 2012 13% 75cl (£6.47)

Sancerre La Clochette 2012 13% 75cl (£11.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Fromm La Strada Sauvignon Blanc 13.5% 75cl (£15.25)

Sancerre Rose 2011 Comte Jean Marechal 12.5% 75cl (£17.95)

Soft Rind Cheeses (Brie and Camembert etc.)

These cheeses are quite heavy and will coat the inside of your mouth like wallpaper paste. It is advisable to serve with a White Burgundy which will cut through the greasy coating and cleanse the palate.

Quality At A Low Price

Macon Village Chardonnay 2010 Cave de Lugny 13% 75cl (£8.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Chablis Ier Cru Vaillons 2009 Simonnet Febvre 13.5% 75cl (£17.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Puligny Montrachet Sous le Puits 2008 Louis Latour 75cl (£49.50)

Crumbly English Cheese (Wensleydale etc.)

These delicious cheeses will also give your mouth a good coating so a wine with high acidity is a must. Look to Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs from the New World (Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States), as these will also sit well with the tangy flavour of the cheese.

Quality At A Low Price

CYT Chardonnay 2012 13% 75cl (£6.13)

Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc 2008 13% 75cl (£7.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc 2011 13.5% 75cl (£12.99)

Taken Brave Chardonnay 2010 Some Young Punks 14% 75cl (£22.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Les Beaux Cailloux Chardonnay 2008 Craggy Range 14.5% 75cl (£38.99)

Two Courses Have Gone As Well As They Could, Now It’s Time For Pud!

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Hello again intrepid readers, this is Part 3 of the Christmas Dinner Wine Guide, your essential companion to see you safely through the biggest meal of the year without making a  faux pas with the drinks. So, you now know what you’re serving with the starter and the main (if not see Part 1 – Starters & Part 2 – Main Course) and you may think that your job is done.

Not so I’m afraid! The dessert menu contains some difficult foods to match wine with (we’re looking at you chocolate!) and don’t think people will not want any, despite the fact they have stuffed down half a turkey plus a fields worth of veg and potatoes! By now you’ve probably had your fill of reading some of the lengthier descriptions in the previous articles so i will keep things short and sweet (pun intended!).

Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies

Match the flavour with a mature tawny port or a rich Madeira. You’ll be hard pressed to tell the pudding and wine apart due to the similarity of the flavours.

Quality At A Low Price

Warres Otima 10 years old Tawny Port 50cl (£12.99)

Grahams 10 years old Tawny Port 20% 75cl (£17.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Taylors 10 years old Tawny Port 75cl (£20.99)

Taylors 20 years old Tawny Port 20% 75cl (£35.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Ramos Pinto 30 years old Tawny Port 20% 75c (£64.25)

Taylors 40 years old Tawny Port 20% 75cl (£113.00)

Sherry Trifle

Your best bet here is to use a sherry to compliment a sherry! Pedro Ximenez or Oloroso is a good choice (as is any other sweet sherry). Alternatively, try a Sauternes or botrytised Semillon.

Quality At A Low Price

Deen De Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 10.5% 375ml (£7.99)

Glotonia Pedro Ximenez Los Pecadillos 15% 50cl (£9.99)

Gonzalez Byass Alfonso Oloroso Seco 18% 75cl (£12.25)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Tempus Two Botrytis Semillon 10% 25cl (£13.99)

De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 375ml (£18.99)

Antique Oloroso Sherry Fernando de Castilla 19% 50cl (£23.99)

Fruit Based Puddings

Fruit is acidic; fact. You’ll often find a lower sweetness in  a fruit based dessert than the others found on this list (with the exception of Tarte Tatin). We need to match this with slightly sweet, acidic wines such as Riesling and Auslese.

Quality At A Low Price

Gau-Bickelheimer Kurfurstenstuick 2011 Auslese Hallgarten 9.5% 75cl (£8.35)

Dr L Riesling 2012 Qba 75cl 8.5% (£9.45)

Beerneauslese 2006 Lenz Moser 37.5cl (£9.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Pikes Riesling 2010 Clare Valley 75cl (£15.99)

Monsters Attack Riesling 2012 Some Young Punks 10.9% 75cl (£16.99)

Best’s Great Western Riesling 2011 Victoria 11.5% 75cl (£17.49)


Everyones favourite, whether its a lovely rich Yule log or indulgent double chocolate gateau there is bound to be some chocolate consumption this Christmas! Unfortunately, it is also pretty difficult to match a wine with because chocolate is so sweet and flavoursome.

My top suggestion would be an aged Tawny Port or Madeira (the same as the Christmas Pudding and Mice Pies). If this doesn’t float your boat, I would go with a Muscat de Beaumes Venise.

Quality At A Low Price

Same As Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies (above)

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2006 Domaine de Coyeux 15% 35cl (£10.99)

Elysium Black Muscat 2011 Quady 37.5cl (£11.35)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Same As Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies (above)

Banyuls 2011 M Chapoutier 16% 50cl (£14.55)

Aleatico di Puglia, Candido 14.5% 50cl (£16.99)

Muscat de Beaumes de Venise 2006 Domaine de Coyeux 15% 75cl (£19.75)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Same As Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies (above)

Tarte Tatin

The sugar levels are very high in this dessert as is the acidity from the apples. Match this with a nice Sauternes.

Quality At A Low Price

Mouton Cadet Reserve Sauternes 2010 13% 75cl (£21.50)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Chateau Suduiraut Ier Cru Classe 1998 Sauternes 13.5% 75cl (£57.50)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Chateau D’Yquem 1997 Ier Crand Cru Sauternes 75cl (£319.00)

The Starter Is Done, What A Success But The Wine For The Main Is Still In A Mess!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Welcome back to the second installment of my Christmas Wine guide. This week I am dealing with the wines that will compliment your main course beautifully and make you the envy of family and friends. Last week I provided you with an extensive selection of wine recommendations for the most popular Christmas dinner starters. I also laid out the basic principles of wine and food pairing so I suggest that, if you haven’t already, you read that first. You can find the article here.

A Christmas Classic – Turkey

Where would we be without turkey on Christmas? A timeless classic that has graced our Christmas tables for over 200 years and is surely the most popular meat for a Christmas roast. It is medium weight and could be described as having little flavour. Additionally, it has a very low fat content which is why it can dry out so easily – remember to keep basting it people!

You’re going to want to match its weight with either a mid range red or full bodied white. If you were paying attention in my last article, then you will remember that fatty food cries out for a wine with more tannins. The opposite is true here, as the lack of fat in the bird will make a wine with high tannins seem harsh and un-palatable. This is due to the way that tannins react with fatty molecules, just in case you were wondering.

If you are determined to serve a red with the turkey, then you would do well to make sure that the wine is quite old as the tannins will gradually sweat out as time goes by. You could also shop around for a wine that is naturally low in tannins. Just in case you were thinking of ignoring this advice (surely not!), there is one more reason to avoid high tannin wines like the plague. I, as do many other people, like to wrap the turkey in bacon as it’s cooking. This helps to stop the bird drying out but adds salt to the dish. As I explained in last weeks post, tannins and salt really do not go together. You have been warned!

Whilst the meat is, quite honestly, pretty tasteless, the overriding  flavours come from the sauces and other accompaniments. Clearly, this will be a factor when coming to choose the right wines. If you are planning to serve some form of redcurrant sauce, you will want to go with  a young, fruity wine with a low tannin concentration. Here are some recommendations;

Quality At A Low Price

Discovery Beach Zinfandel Rose 75cl (£6.29)

The Big Top White Zinfandel 10% 75cl (£7.00)

Scotto Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 Lodi 14.5% 75cl (£8.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Ironstone Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 14.5% 75cl (£10.25)

Chateau de Jacques Moulin A Vent 13% 75cl (£11.99)

Zinfandel Rocky Road 2005 McHenry Hohnen 75cl (£14.99)

Of course, you may prefer a nice bread sauce with chipolata sausages (that includes me!) so you will want to go with a mature red of the Claret or Rioja variety. Remember that older reds contain less tannin, which is what you are after in this scenario. As for white wine, a Chardonnay with a full body will match the smoothness of the sauce and the weight of the turkey itself. Here are my choices for these particular accompaniments;

Quality At A Low Price

Vega Del Rayo Reserva Rioja 75cl (£9.99)

Mcguigans Black Label Reserve Chardonnay 13.5% (£7.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Thelema Chardonnay 2002 Stellenbosch 13.5% 75cl (£13.75)

Domaine de Mourchon Grande Reserve Cotes du Rhone 75cl (£16.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Les Beaux Cailloux Chardonnay 2008 Craggy Range 14.5% 75cl (£38.99)

Roda I Reserva 2006 Rioja 14% 75cl (£46.65)

Other Main Courses

Although turkey is the most commonplace meat on the Christmas table, there are other options. Here’s an overview of a few other possibilities and my wine choices to go with them.

Goose or duck

These are both oily meats which can be balanced out with wines containing high tannins or acidity. Fruity wines with cherry and raspberry flavours will complement the meat nicely.

Quality At A Low Price

Chat-en-Oeuf Rouge 2011 14% 75cl (£6.51)

Gau-Bickelheimer Kurfurstenstuick 2011 Auslese Hallgarten 9.5% 75cl (£8.35)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Ayler Kupp Riesling Spatlese 2011 8% 75cl (£12.99)

Chateau Dupray 2009 Saint-Emilion 13% 75cl (£13.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Chateau Musar Rouge 1996 75cl (£52.00)

Roast Beef

The only real option with beef is a red wine to match its strong flavours. Low fat cuts like fillet will go best with low tannic wines, the more mature the better. Fattier cuts like ribs need more tannins to balance out the texture, so a good Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon is essential.

Quality At A Low Price

La Riada Garnacha Tempranillo 13% 75cl (£4.99) – Lean Beef Cuts

Trio Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Concha Y Toro 14% 75cl  (£8.19) – Fatty Beef Cuts

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Volnay Domaine Perrin 2003 75cl (£18.99) – Lean Cuts

Kleine Zalze Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Family Reserve 15% 75cl (£22.99)  – Fatty Beef Cuts

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Mollydooker Gigglepot Cabernet Sauvignon 16% 75cl (£40.99) – Fatty Beef Cuts

Corton Grand Cru 2008 Domaine Latour Louis Latour 75cl (£45.99) – Lean Beef Cuts

Nut Roast

Chilean Merlots will help balance out this heavy dish with their fruitiness.

Quality At A Low Price

Montevista Merlot 2011 13.5% 75cl (£6.47)

Vistamar Sepia Merlot Reserva 2011 13.5% 75cl (£7.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Torreon de Paredes Reserve Merlot 75cl (£9.45)

Marques de Casa Concha Merlot 2009 14.5% 75cl (£11.50)

The Turkey Is Burning And The Kids Are Running Riot! Well, At Least The Wines Sorted!

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Christmas is a time of fun and festivities where family and friends can spend quality time together over beautifully cooked food and generous pourings of alcohol. Unfortunately, this time of year also brings a great deal of stress over the usual issues that arise; what do the kids want?, how much does that cost!?,  how can you cook meat for eight people and still keep a vegetarian happy?, etc.

While I cannot perform miracles and make vegetarian food taste good or supply you with hundreds of pounds worth of toys and gadgets, I can ease one of the burdens that comes around each year. That is, of course, choosing the right wine to go with your Christmas dinner!

This week heralds the beginning of a series of four articles that will remove the stress and strain of choosing the right wine to accompany your festive food. This week I will be dealing with a selection of starters that are commonplace on today’s Christmas table. The following weeks will put you in the know about wines for the main event (turkey, pork, beef, etc.), desert and the mandatory cheese board.

Now I understand that we all have varying budgets from which to draw upon, especially at this time of year (presents don’t buy themselves do they!). With this in mind, I will provide a brief overview of the relevant wine types and select wines from three different categories based upon cost. These will be ‘Quality At A Low Price’, ‘Fair Pay For Fair Work’ and ‘Money Grows On Trees In My Garden’. I think these titles are pretty self explanatory, so lets move on without any further ado.

Rules To Eat And Drink By

I hope these morsels of knowledge will make your life considerably easier. The most important factors to consider are as follows;

  • Keep the weight of both the food and wine equal.  This means that light wines  should be served with light food and full-bodied wines with rich foods.
  • Avoid either salty food (difficult at the best of times, let alone Christmas!) or wines with a high level of tannin. Salt and tannins are not the best of friends so try not to combine them!
  • Consider the acidity of the wine that you are purchasing. Wines with high acidity will help to cut the greasiness out of fatty foods like lamb. It is the same principal as applying lemon to greasy fish like salmon.
  • As a rule of thumb, serve wines with a greater sweetness than the food.  If you are eating rich food then the sweetness of the wine will help to counter balance this.
  • Textured food that is chewy or on the fatty side (steak and duck for example) begs for a wine with more tannins in it. Just remember the rule about salt!
  • Ensure that flavour intensity is in synergy between the wine and the food. Think about the fruit character of the wine as you would a fruit sauce with meat. Duck is often served with a fruit sauce – the fruity flavours of Pinot Noir would have the same effect for example.

A Christmas Classic – Smoked Salmon

A quick whip around the office demonstrated that smoked salmon was a very popular starter for Christmas Day. In fact, it is often served as the greatest starter of all – breakfast! Don’t forget, you are allowed to have a drink in the morning, it is Christmas after all!

So what do we know about salmon? It is a medium bodied dish with a lot of oiliness and a distinctive smoked flavour. We need to keep all this in mind as we proceed to select our wine as we need to match the weight and flavour whilst counter acting that oiliness.

Remember the analogy that I gave earlier about lemon and fish? Now is the time to apply it; we need a wine with high acidity to cut through the oiliness and cleanse the palate. Champagne and Chablis seem to fit the bill here; they are medium bodied and high in acidity. If you get one that is lightly oaked to match the smokiness of the fish then all the better.

As an alternative, we could try and match the salmon’s oiliness instead of balancing it out with high acidity. The best recommendation I can give here is a  Gewurztraminer form Alsace; its oily texture will compliment the salmons whilst the inclusion of lychee will marry well with the salmon’s flavour.

Now for the recommendations, categorised as I stated above. Simply click the name of the wine you want and be whisked off to buy it.

Quality At A Low Price

Muscadet de Sevre et Main 2012 Les Grands Presbyteres 12% 75cl (£6.99)

Emiliana Chardonnay Reserva 2012 14% 75cl (£7.35)

Gewurztraminer Tradition 2010/11 Cave Turkheim 75cl (£10.54)

Chablis Simonnet-Febvre 2011 12.5% 75cl (£11.75)

Camel Valley Brut 2011 12.5% 75cl (£27.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Gewurztraminer Grand Cru 2010 Cave Turkheim 13.5% 75cl (£17.75)

Chablis I er Cru 2010 Vau-ligneau La Motte 12.5% 75cl (£15.99)

Montagny Ier Cru 2010 Louis Latour La Grande Roche 13% 75cl (£16.95)

Chablis Ier Cru Vaillons 2009 Simonnet Febvre 13.5% 75cl (£17.99)

Drappier Millesime Exception 2006 Champagne 75cl (£34.99)

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2004 12.5% 75cl (£51.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Cristal 2006 Vintage Champagne 12.5% 75cl  (£154.29)

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1999 12% 75cl (£135.00)

Dom Perignon 2004 Vintage Champagne 12.5% 75cl (£116.35)

Other Starters

Of course, salmon isn’t the only starter that will be eaten – here is a short list with a few more edible delights!

Prawns And Other Rich Shellfish

Drink Chablis to a balance the richness or match it with lightly oaked Chardonnays.

Quality At A Low Price

The Landings Colombard Chardonnay 2011 75cl (£5.99)

Willowglen Semillon Chardonnay 2008 12% (£7.25)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Taken Brave Chardonnay 2010 Some Young Punks 14% 75cl (£22.99)

Vergelegen Chardonnay Reserve 2011 14% 75cl (£15.50)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Puligny Montrachet 1999 Bouchard Pere & Fils 13.5% 75cl (£34.50)

Puligny Montrachet Sous le Puits 2008 Louis Latour 75cl (£49.50)


Complement the delicate flavour with light weight, delicately flavoured wines such as Chablis, Champagne or Muscadet.

Any recommendation from the Smoked Salmon section (above) will work well here.

Rich Pâté

Rich pâtés need to be balanced with ripe, aromatic wines which have a good degree of acidity like Pinot Gris and Riesling.

Quality At A Low Price

Terra Barossa Pinot Gris 75cl (£8.99)

Riesling Reserve Cave Turkheim 75cl (£9.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

Monsters Attack Riesling 2012 Some Young Punks 10.9% 75cl (£16.88)

Pinot Gris Grand Cru 2005 Cave Turkheim 75cl (£17.69)

Foie Gras

Foie Gras requires more richness and acidity - Barsac or Sauternes is the perfect, and classic accompaniment.

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

Chateau Suduiraut Ier Cru Classe 1998 Sauternes 13.5% 75cl (£57.50)


The lightness and tanginess of Fino or Amontillado Sherry, or Sercial Madeira, matches this classic dish.

Quality At A Low Price

Harveys Amontillado Sherry 17.5% 75cl (£10.50)

Blandys Sercial 10 years old Madeira 19% 50cl (£14.99)

Fair Pay For Fair Work

D’Oliveiras 15 years old Medium Sweet Madeira 19% 75cl (£41.65)

Grant Burge 20 years old Tawny 19.5% 75cl (£45.99)

Money Grows On Trees In My Garden

D’Oliveiras Verdelho 1966 Reserva Madeira 75cl (£111.00)

D’Oliveiras Sercial 1910 Reserva 20% 75cl (£302.50)

Super Xmas Wine Show 2013

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

On Thursday 7th November we held our annual Christmas Wine Show at the Merchant’s Manor Hotel in Falmouth. This heralded a return to tradition after last years show had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. There were over a hundred and fifty different wines and spirits from all over the world on offer spread across eighteen tables of representatives.  I will take this opportunity to say a quick thanks to all the reps as they did a splendid job of informing our guests about the products on offer and were very generous with their measures! We had a lot of interest in the event before it was even announced officially and our prediction of a good turn out was well founded.  Everyone was in brilliant form and I think it is safe to say that a good time was had by all involved! We enjoyed meeting our customers immensely and wish them all a Happy Christmas and all the best in the New Year.

How Many Medals?

Monday, October 14th, 2013
Esprit de Granit St Joseph 2010 Cave de Tain
In Answer To My Initial Question – 5 Seems To Be The Maximum!

It is not a question that I often ask myself but today I found myself wondering just how many medals you can pin on a bottle of wine? The nucleus for this thought process was the discovery of  Tain’s ‘Esprit de Granit’ St Joseph 2010, a full bodied red that has put some of its more famous competitors to shame in the award stakes. This elegant wine exudes a beautiful liquorice and vanilla scent on the nose and its juicy dark fruit and mineral composition balances out on the palate for a long finish. It is due to this that ‘Esprit de Granit’ has won no fewer than 5 accolades this year, seeing off some of the more famous wine producers of the Rhône.

Its honors list reads as follows;

IWC 2013 – Gold Medal, St. Joseph Trophy, French Red Trophy, International Syrah Trophy Syrah du Monde 2013 – Gold and Top 10 Best Syrah du Monde.

That is certainly a prestigious collection of awards and Cave de Tain l’Hermitage must certainly be proud of their creation. Their 21 hectare vineyard is is arranged in terraces upon granite soil causing the vine’s roots to push down deeper in order to compensate for their granitic foundations.  Multiple generations of the family have ploughed their efforts into cultivating the best Syrah vine possible; this is for the sole purpose of traditionally producing wines that are authentic and well love by wine drinkers the world over.

After the success of ’Esprit de Granit’ St Joseph 2010 it certainly seems that all that hard work was certainly worthwhile! We have limited stocks of this inspiring red wine priced at £20.75. Obviously this is not a cheap wine but then it is not supposed to be – I can assure you that it is worth every penny! You can buy Tain’s ‘Esprit de Granit’ St Joseph 2010 here – hurry before they are all snapped up!




Christmas Wine & Spirits Show 2011

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We are holding a tasting of over 150 different wines, whisky, rums, liqueurs and other spirits.
A tasting not to be missed:

Thursday, November 3rd 6.30pm -9pm

The Falmouth Beach Hotel
Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall.

Tickets £10 per person*
Refundable when you place an order for £40 or more on the night.

Entrance by ticket only.

Tickets available on 01326340226

Some Young Punks additions

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Some Young Punks epitomise the best of New Australia.  The punks consist of Col McBryde (voted Australia’s Young Gun Winemaker of the Year), Jen Gardner (self confessed nerdy yeast expert) and thirdly Nic Bourke.  Like most amongst the new breed of interesting, young winemakers in Australia they aren’t moved by porty Shiraz and seeks instead a sense of place and restraint the wines, influenced by the best of the Old World and the New. Col McBryde is  as unimpressed by flash-in-the-pan medal-winners that are short on provenance as he is by being hide-bound to the Old World, and carves his own niche. Yet being media savvy and having a sense of humour allows this ironically quietly-spoken but earnest bunch to market themselves outrageously and to bring a fresh approach to labelling. Expect to see increasingly alarming label sported by increasingly interesting and wholly unique wines.

We have added two new wines from the punks ‘Fierce Allure Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (only 482 cases) - produced from a single vineyard in Maclaren vale and Lust Collides Mataro 2009 - Dark, savoury and seductive Mataro. Wonderfully textured, layered with dark fruits, a spark in the mid-palate and a smooth, soft (only 524 cases)

Vermouth – not just Martini!

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Vermouth is a fortified wine, flavored with aromatic herbs and spices (“aromatized” in the trade) such as cardamom, cinnamon, marjoram and chamomile.[1] Some vermouth is sweetened; unsweetened, or “dry” vermouth tends to be bitter. The person credited with inventing the vermouth recipe, Antonio Benedetto Carpano from Turin, Italy, chose to name his concoction “vermouth” in 1786 because he was inspired by a German wine flavoured with wormwood, a herb most famously used in distilling absinthe.

Today popular brands are Noilly Prat, Dolin, Lillet, Dubonnet, Martini and Cinzano.

Varieties of Sherry

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Sherry is a fortified wine, produced in the southern tip of Spain. The demarcated area around the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María in Andalucia, forms the Denominaciónes de Origen of Jerez-Xérèz-Sherry and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

How is it Made?

The grapes are harvested, pressed and fermented. The lagriña, or free run juice of grapes from the albariza soils, is invariably used for finos and other musts and the remainder of the press tends to be made into oloroso. PX and moscatel grapes are partially air-dried before fermenting and the wines remain naturally sweet. Classification of the light wines follows for the next six months or so. The classification produces the following wine types:

Wines that are delicate with fine flavours and aroma—suitable for fino and amontillado—fortified to 15 %

Wines that are richer and fuller-bodied—ideal for oloroso— fortified to 17.5 %

Wines that will be allowed to develop before classifying— fortified to 15%

Wines unsuitable for sherry—to be sent for distillation

The sherry is then transferred to 500–600 litre American oak butts. These are filled to 5/6 ths capacity or two-fists from the top ; and will either grow the flor (those with 15 % fortification) and become finos or begin to age oxidatively (those fortified to above 17 %) and become olorosos.

The fortifying alcohol is a blend of 50 % high-strength brandy at 95.5 % abv and 50 % wine at 12 % abv and is known as mitad y mitad, or half and half, giving an average of about 54 % abv. At this first stage the wines are called sobretablas, and can now be used to refill the solera.

The solera system is used to age almost all sherry. The system is comprised of as many rows, criaderas, as the ageing sherry requires—but each individual set of barrels is rarely stacked higher than four on top of one another—and the wine flows down through the scales into one final layer, the solera. Less than 30 % of the solera wine may be siphoned off for blending and bottling in any year. On occasion, wines destined to be oloroso are left as sobretablas and these are known as añada wines, unblended wines of one year.

Thus, the new refreshes the old (and with finos, breathes new life into the older flor) and the old gives character to the new. In this way consistency is achieved and an harmonious balance is created between the structural complexity of age and the freshness and vibrancy brought about by youth.

Sherry Maturation and Development

It is easiest to illustrate the evolution of sherry by describing what it becomes. Wine that grows flor becomes a fino or manzanilla, these age under flor for up to 10-12 years, but can be sold as young as three years old.

Fino A wine that must have experienced flor keeping it pale, delicate and fine. A dry, fresh, aperitif wine with hints of almonds. An ideal accompaniment to fish dishes, olives or on its own. As it ages it becomes softer and can lose its flor, becoming an amontillado.

Manzanilla - A fino aged in the seaside town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The cooler summer days here promote greater flor growth resulting in wines of even greater finesse and delicacy although less complexity. Lighter and drier than finos these wines quite often pick up a salty tang from the sea air. Older manzanilla becomes a pasada—literally leftovers.

Amontillado - In its true form it is bone dry ; essentially a very old fino or manzanilla. After about a decade the flor dies and the wine subsequently interacts with oxygen gaining colour and a nutty complexity on the palate. Amontillado can live for many decades.

Palo Cortado – A wine that starts off life as a fino but inexplicably loses its flor and develops like an oloroso. The transvestite of the sherry world, this wine combines the elegance of amontillado with the full-body and subtlety of an oloroso ; can age for many years developing great power and persistency.

Wine that has never seen flor is designated either oloroso or raya (inferior) often the basis for blended sherries.

Oloroso – The true oloroso reacts with the oxygen from day one and develops into a big, full-bodied, rich wine with notes of dried fruit and nuts.

Pale Cream – A light, sweetish wine made from lower quality finos and rayas. Normally decoloured to look more attractive.

Medium – A blend of sweetened rayas with the colour and body of amontillado or oloroso, often labelled as such.

Cream – A blend of sweetened olorosos with or without colour ; many of these have great balance and a velvety palate with a touch of PX flavour.

Pedro Ximénez & Moscatel Sherry’s only naturally sweet wines made by sun-drying the grapes thus concentrating the sugars, flavouring elements and acids. The resulting high-sugar level is simply too much for the yeast, which after partially fermenting the must dies, leaving high levels of residual sugar. These wines are then fortified and aged in solera in the usual fashion producing amazing, rich, unctuous, molasses-like wines of great intensity.