Walk down any supermarket wine aisle and you will see the bright Red and Yellow labels of the unmistakeable Wolf Blass wines, these are the more popular due to their good value, other label colours include Silver, Gold, Grey, Brown , Black and the ultimate Platinum.
On a recent supermarket bargain hunt I spotted a Wolf Blass Silver label Chardonnay at a very good discounted price of £6 (normally retailing for around £12.99). I don’t tend to buy a lot of Wolf Blass but the ones I have tasted in the past have always been on the whole, enjoyable.
So after a few days and with a meal of Sea Bass fried potatoes and veg on the menu it was time to open the fridge (the wine fridge that is, in the shed) and rummage through the chilled bottles for an appropriate selection and I decided on the WB 2013 Silver Label Chardonnay.
In the glass it was a pale straw like colour with maybe a tinge of green, sticking my nose in the glass there were aromas of ripe citrus fruit including pineapple, banana and custard, really was an enticing smell.
Taking a sip there was a flintiness with sharp zesty flavours of ripe tropical fruits, although the tasting notes I’ve seen for this suggested subtle oak, I thought there was a hefty kick of vanilla and it had a creaminess about it and a complexity that made it stand out.
It complemented the Sea Bass brilliantly and ended up being a really enjoyable drink with food, maybe this is a food wine but I could quite happily drink this on its own, you may not agree if you don’t like in your face slightly intense Chardonnay, for me though this was pretty decent and at £6 what’s not to like.
A weekend away in a small market town in Leicestershire sounds nice, a weekend away in a small market town including a full day wine tasting, now, that sounds like something not to be missed. This is exactly what we did on the weekend of 21st November 2014, my wife and I along with seven other Oenophiles booked into a Hotel in the quaint village of Market Bosworth.
The Hotel we stayed at (Bosworth Hall) is a Grade II listed 17th century mansion located just outside the charming town of Market Bosworth which is set in superb grounds including tennis courts and Croquet lawns, all very English.
We arrived on Friday afternoon but the actual Wine Tasting event was on Saturday, this gave us time to settle and meet up with everyone before our drinking marathon. The tasting was run by ThirtyFifty who specialise in private and corporate wine tastings / wine courses.
Our boozy day was hosted by the amiable pairing of ThirtyFifty’s double act Rob & Robert and ran from around 10.00am right through to 4.30pm. As we walked into the tasting room there was a vast array of bottles all laid out at the front , our tables set out for around 50/60 people had pens, paper tasting notes, general information, water bottles and spittoons (not quite sure what the spittoons were there for ?).
Over the course of the day we were given a lot of information by Rob & Robert , remembered most of it apart from being a little more sketchy towards the end of the afternoon, not sure why !. They used little gimmicks, competitions, even a blind tasting of three wines which we managed to identify two, one of them a Gewurztraminer from New Zealand called Spy Valley (one of the day’s highlights) the other being a Californian Zinfandel, we failed on the third although it was a blend but predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, still as Meatloaf said ‘Two out of three ain’t bad’.
We tasted two very different Chardonnays, ‘a particularly nice French one’ (had to stick that comment in as it struck a chord with one of our French wine lovers) the second Chardonnay was from Argentina but had far too much oak. First red of the day was a lovely Chianti, then the wines just kept coming, Malbec, Ribera del Duero, more Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc. We were served a filling lunch accompanied by even more wine an excellent Albarino and a Douro followed by a fresh ginger, Marmalade sweet dessert wine.
The afternoon was more fun and games, good info and a little more wine, even posh Chocolate wine pairing, finishing off with some sparklers, (drinking kind not the fireworks).
As I said earlier the highlight was the blind tasting Gewurztraminer from Marlborough. The heavily oaked fatty Chardonnay from Argentina and to a lesser degree the sparkling wines were our least favourites.
Overall the day was a fantastic success and we all enjoyed it tremendously and would recommend ThirtyFifty without hesitation.
Why ThirtyFifty ??? – named after the latitudes where the majority of the world’s wine grapes are grown, between 30 degrees and 50 degrees latitude, North and South of the equator.
Big thanks to Clare who arranged this and thanks for providing the pictures from Aimetu’s blog, I was a bit busy drinking, sorry tasting !
Drinking great wine, eating great food, what better way is there to spend your time after a long week of work?
My weekend started with a Friday night Wine Tasting at Majestic Ruislip, showcasing their new range of winter wines along with a impressive selection of cheeses, Saturday was a eating day along with more wine spent at the Good Food & Wine Show at Olympia London, both very good, both putting a sizeable dent in my credit card balance.
Being regular visitors to a lot of Majestic Wine events my friend and I (wife had a prior engagement) were really looking forward to this particular one as it’s usually the biggest of the year. The evening started a 6.00pm and we arrived promptly we were also pretty much the last men standing when we finally left at around 9.00pm. Anyway, we were greeted with a selection of Fizz including Prosecco, Nyetimber Classic Cuvee and a Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne, nice start.
Moving on to the whites, there was a Alsace Riesling, Clos St-Jacques 2011, a Muscadet Le Pallet 2009, a Californian Viognier Nettie 2013 and a South African Chardonnay Trebuchet 2013. All were very nice with the lemony off dry Riesling being a lovely start but for me the stand out was the Muscadet which was a partially oaked beauty full of pears with a great minerality.
I was particularly excited about the reds when I spotted an odd looking dumpy bottle on the counter which contained a lesser known Spanish grape called Bobal and a great favourite of mine. The other reds were an Aussie Shiraz the Parcel series 2012 from the Clare Valley, a Cotes du Rhone Jaboulet Parallel, and a Chateau Beau-site St Esteph 2007and a 10 year old Portuguese Tawny Port Warre’s Otima.
Starting with the Bobal (Vox Populi) 2011, which I took upon myself to promote at every occasion. This was a big powerful tannic red but very drinkable despite the weightiness of it and I absolutely loved it. The Chateau Beu – Site Bordeaux was pretty decent and will improve, The Aussie Shiraz was your typical fruity, spicy offering, the Port was very light in colour and had an elegance about it, the Cotes du Rhone was a little disappointing but only because it was up against some good wines. Did I mention how good the Bobal was? Perhaps I did.
As well as trying a selection on the tasting counter in which we both liked the Malbec we finished with a sweety the extremely nice Chateau La Rame 2012.
As usual the guys at Majestic were friendly and knowledgeable making us all feel comfortable with no hard sell although they didn’t need to as all the wines pretty much sold themselves. Another enjoyable evening, roll on the next one !
On Saturday, my son, daughter and their partners along with my wife and I ventured off to our annual day out at the Good Food Show. Billed as bigger and better than ever it certainly lived up to the hype. We went armed with pre paid dining currency, tickets to the Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood show, tickets for the excellent Wine Tube Map Tasting and more tickets for the World of Wines Experience.
With hundreds of stalls all giving out free samples of food a drink you could almost have a three course meal walking around if you planned it correctly. What I must do is tell you all about the first wine tasting we did as a group, it was the brilliant Wine TubeMap hosted by the very amiable Nikki Welch. I won’t go into how the tasting is run it’s better to look at their website http://conviviumwine.com/ but what I will mention is two wines which were the stars for me, the Ampakama Syrah Tannat from Argentina and a New Zealand Riesling.
The other tasting was the ‘Wines of the world Experience’ another new one for the show. This was a brilliant tasting of mostly fine wines in which you wandered around for an hour trying whatever took your fancy. The twist was every few minutes a guest celebrity Wine Expert would grab a microphone and call you over for a brief talk on whatever wine country they were promoting while we drank on, this was really interesting and we tasted some fantastic wines.
We ended the day with a cooking show featuring Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood.
All in all a good day out my wife enjoyed the food part and I had to put up with tasting wine all day, still we all have to make the odd sacrifice sometimes.
Mmmm, Rioja, my first love, you’ll always find an array to choose from on any supermarket shelf unfortunately a lot of them are fairly run of the mill or not particularly good, I’ve had some shockers which usually end up down the sink not even making it to the casserole or bolognaise. Get a good one though and you can be transported to sunnier climates, with dusty plains, soft Flamenco music playing in the background and a table full of tasty Tapas.
This Era Costana Crianza 2011 still has the Flamenco music in the background but with the sun obscured by a few clouds. Picked this up in Sainsbury’s a little while ago, it’s currently £8.50 but I bought it on offer for around £6 and at this price it’s a pretty decent everyday Rioja.
Bright cherry red in the glass with a slight rusty tinge. Heady aromas of Juicy dark plums, strawberries and blackberries with some bonfire ash flying around the glass.
First sip, there was some fresh bracing acidity and ripe juicy plums and strawberries. This has had one year in oak and the toastiness was there but not overpowering and it was a little tannic. Candle wax, church incense and dust all there too but was very much on the rich side. My wife on first taste thought it was a bit strong and at 14% she may have a point.
This needs to be aired for quite a while and it will soften, drink it with food to get the best out of it. I kept a little back for the following day and it was an altogether nicer wine softer and less sour and overall I liked it, nothing spectacular but I didn’t expect it to be.
Steak and chips for dinner, so you pop down to the local wine shop to pick up a nice bottle to complement the meal. Hands up how many of you would come back with a wine from Macedonia made with the indigenous grape Vranec (pronounced Vranesh).
The wine in question is the ‘Stobi Vranec 2011’ from the Tikves region of Macedonia. Not for the fainthearted, this is a rich, medium full bodied wine that packs a powerful punch and at 14.5%, so after a couple of glasses be careful as you leave the dinner table.
I actually gave this about an hour or so of air before drinking and I think it needed it. This was Inky black in the glass and after a quick swirl the wine coated the glass producing intense legs. Aromas of fleshy ripe blackberries and plums with an earthy spiciness lurking in the background. On first sip it was bursting with that fleshy plum and blackberry fruit with a pronounced liqourice, rich coffee and dark chocolate flavour. Still had an earthy qaulity verging on the tart side with a little sweetness counteracting it and a pretty good lengthy finish.
I first tasted this about a year ago at a ‘Wine Gang’ tasting and it was one of my favourites on the day. As I mentioned earlier this is a powerhouse of a wine, really good with food, it would be great with casseroles, Barbecues and as I did, a nice steak.
For me this was really enjoyable but I do stress go easy, sit back (definitely a sitting down wine) and savour this Eastern European beauty.