M&S Wine Tasting November 2017

On the 8th November 2017 my wife and I were kindly invited to a M&S Sparks wine event in store at our local Watford Branch.

Was it worth the 50 minute walk into the town centre ? it most certainly was ! although we did get picked up by our daughter, just as well as we were carrying the six bottles we ended up buying.

Hertfordshire Wine School Educator David Rough

The event started at 6.30pm and was held in the M&S café. We were the first to arrive and after being greeted by the manager and his staff for the evening we settled at our table for the tasting to begin.

Hosting the event was David Rough from Hertfordshire Wine School, who as well as being amiable and knowledgeable he had a calm control over proceedings.

First up was a French Crement sparkling wine Le Caves De Hautes Cotes Cremant De Bourgogne Made in the traditional Champagne method, this was from the Burgundy region and unfortunately left our table a little underwhelmed. It had lively bubbles and initially had a reasonable flavour of stone fruits and a hint of something floral but the main problem was the finish, the taste just disappeared too quickly. 4/10

Second up was another French offering this time a Bergerac from South West France, Mayne de Beauregard  much more to my liking but again not chilled. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon, this was crisp and bright with bags of tropical fruit flavours, the Semillon adding a bit of weight and texture. 7/10

The last white ‘Le Alte’ was a bonus being a grape I’ve never tried ‘Friulano‘ from north eastern Italy, this was definitely one of the favourites around our table, again tropical fruits with a creamy texture and a very long aftertaste, very different and very nice. 8/10

Now on to the reds starting in Australia from the Coonawarra region, this Cabernet Sauvignon split our table but I must say I really thought it was good. Imaginatively named ‘Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon’  this was a full on fruit forward wine with the classic wood shavings, also blackcurrants, dark cherries and casis, with a hint of rich chocolate and menthol, I thought this was very elegant. 8/10

Now for the star of the evening a Appassimento Rosso from the Puglia region of Italy, the Rocca Pagliara I seem to be tasting a lot Appassimento at the moment, not that I’m complaining and this was as good as if not better than recent tastings. This was a powerful wine, intense and full of flavour, very raisiny, blackberries, plums, leather, tobacco were all there along with a herbal kick and pronounced tannins. Very good 8.5/10.

Lastly we were treated to a Ruby style Port, which everyone seemed to enjoy rich with dark fruit and very christmas cakey. I’m not a big port fan but it was nice enough. 7/10

This was our first M&S wine event and hopefully not our last as this was a wonderful evening with some pretty decent wines, thanks a lot to the staff who poured the drinks and brought out the food, they were all very charming, friendly and very generous.

At the end of the evening most people stayed behind to take advantage of the 25% off 6 bottle deal as we did and we all went home happy if a little unsteady.

My Rating 8/10 Corks

 

 

 

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Majestic Winter Tasting (Nov 2015)

MajesticwintertitleThought I’d missed the boat this year for the ‘Majestic Winter Tasting’ until I received an email a few days before with an invitation to attend. I’ve always enjoyed Majestic evenings in the past and this one was no different if a little busier than usual.

I went along with my daughter Laura (her first time at one of these events) and John a friend of mine who has regularly come along to previous tastings.

The event was supposed to start at 6.30pm and when we arrived at around 6.15pm the shop was already heaving with people. We were greeted with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne, when I say glass, it was a fairly small sample which was a shame because it was a pretty decent drop. At previous evenings we were always given around half to three-quarters of a glass as a welcome drink but maybe the fact that there was more people there than usual limited what they could pour out.

The wines on show for tasting were three whites and 6 reds which included a Port. We started with the whites and a Spanish Godello the Montenovo 2014 from the Galicia region of northern Spain which I have tasted previously and bought a few bottles of. I love Godello, I love the texture and the freshness of it, this one was unoaked and fairly dry with a hint of pineapples and tropical fruits, it pairs beautifully with any fish dish.  Next up was the Sancerre ‘Clos des Bouffants 2014’ which was Laura’s favourite white being a big lover of Sauvignon Blanc or as she calls it (Sovvy Bee). I thought it was Ok, minerally and steely with bright acidity as you would expect from a Sancerre but it just lacked something. Lastly, my favourite white the excellent ‘Domaine Saint Ferreol Viognier 2013’ This had a fantastic aroma of peaches and apricots and tastes of rich tropical fruits, complex layers and a lovely creaminess to the finish, this really was very nice indeed.

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My daughter Laura & me

Whites done we fought our way through the crowded warehouse which was starting to fill up rapidly and made our way to the reds table. On show this time were some pretty heavy hitting bottles and all pretty pricey. Chateau Musar (£21), Masi Amarone (£27), Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz (£13.32), CNDP Capouliers (£13.32), Pomerol La Pointe (£19.99) and a Fonsecca in 27 Port (£10).

I particularly enjoyed the Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz, with ripe rich red fruits, liquorice and mocha, the Pomerol La Pointe which was the second wine from Chateau La Pointe, was also excellent with classic blackcurrants, wood, smoke and mocha. The Chateau Musar was impressive as always but the Chateaunuef -du-Pape and the Amarone were for me a little disappointing, didn’t get around to trying the Port. John and Laura were less enthusiastic about the reds although Laura quite liked the Pomerol.

 

Dave&John Majestic2015

All wines in the winter tasting complete we decided to investigate the free tasting counter in which we found a few gems, notably the Wakefield Shiraz which for me and John was the star of the night and only £8.99 on Multi buy. This was aromatic with stewed dark fruits, slightly floral, spicy and chocolatey, a real treat. Another very good red was the strangely named La La Land Malbec from Australia.

This was another brilliant night at Majestic even if it was a little more hectic than normal but judging by the amount of people with full baskets of wine walking around the shop a successful one for the staff although I suspect that was a fair bit of clearing up to do after but I’m sure it was worth it.

La La Land Malbec
La La Land Malbec
Wakefield Shiraz
Wakefield Shiraz

 

 

 

We all ended up buying our favourites and going home happy with a few boxes of vino. majestic2015winter

Tesco Wine Fair 2015

Tescofair2015That time of year again when the Tesco Wine Fair hits town, this time we visited the London show which was held at Kensington Olympia.

Slightly different this year as I went not being a member of the Tesco Wine Community (TWC) which I had been a part of for the last three and a half years or so and although all good things eventually come to an end, it still felt strange.kensington olympia

My wife and I attended this year with family and friends and ended up being a group ten, we also met up with a couple of other ex TWC members and their partners.

Fidel Fernandez
Fidel Faustino Fernandez

Arriving just before 12.00pm we were greeted by an enormous queue which stretched down the Hammersmith road, luckily we were only 5 minutes from doors opening and we were only waiting for a short period. Once inside we all headed to the booking area for the numerous free workshops that were on offer throughout the afternoon.  Restricted to one ticket per person we all picked our favourites, I chose the history of Faustino Gran Reserva Rioja presented by a member of the Faustino family Fidel Faustino Fernandez, I actually had a very interesting chat with him at his stand before the workshop, nice guy and brilliant wines.

One really nice surprise was the size of the hall, everything was well spaced out with lots of room to walk around, lots of seating areas to take a break and grab some food and although it was a sell out it never seemed crowded.

A big disappointment to us was Tesco decided to drop their ‘Wine Walks’ which was always a big favourite with us. A wine expert would walk around the stands with a group and introduce their best 10 or so wines at the show. Last year we chose a walk with Wine expert and TV personality Joe Wadsack in which a 20 minute walk turned into almost an hour, great fun, real shame it was dropped.

Right, lets get to the wines and with over 300 wines on show it was hard to know where to start. With five hours of tasting ahead we started out with a plan fizz and whites first before moving up to the heavier reds as the afternoon passes, this sounded like a good plan but trust me it quickly deteriorates into a free for all, It was also impossible for our group to stick together so we all split up and did our own thing. We tasted a lot of wines over the afternoon good and not so good, far to many to mention so I will give you a brief overview of the better ones.

VillaMariaArneis
Villa Maria Arneis
VillaMariaTaylorsPass
Villa Maria Taylors Pass

The first stand we visited was Villa Maria where we sampled a variety of whites including Villa Maria’s Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Taylors pass Sauvignon blanc 2014 (excellent) and a new one on me the Cellar selection Arneis 2014 which was a real revelation.

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Brancott Terroir Sauvignon Blanc
Brancott Sauvignon Gris
Brancott Sauvignon Gris

Brancott Estate – Always enjoy Brancott wines although I had not yet tried their Terroir series and I was pleasantly surprised. The Sauvignon Blanc was lovely as was their Sauvignon Gris which was a hit with my daughter.

Couple of Champagnes to mention which were very good were the Chanoine Freres 2007 Vintage and the Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top.

Chanoine freres
Chanoine Freres 2007
HeidsieckMonopole
Heidsieck Monopole

Other whites which made an impression were the Spanish Breckin Valley Sauvignon Blanc and the very drinkable Finca Juana Albarino DO Rias Baixas

There were many other whites that were generally very good but the ones I’ve highlighted were amongst my favourites.

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Beronia Dos Maderas 2008
FaustinoI
Faustino I 2001

Reds were next and their were some pretty good ones, a couple of stand out Riojas were the Beronia Dos Maderas Reserva 2008 and the Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001 & 2004

Finca Las Moras Three Valleys Gran Syrah 2011
Finca Las Moras Three Valleys Gran Syrah 2011
Marques CasaConcha Syrah
Marques Casa Concha Syrah

Two Syrah’s which were also very good were the Marques de Casa Chonha Syrah 2012 and probably my favourite wine in the show the stunning Finca Las Moras Three Valleys Gran Syrah 2011.

Les Dauphinsreserve
Cotes du Rhone Reserve

One of the friendliest stands at the show was the Les Dauphins and the very amiable Jo (sorry don’t know her surname). I was introduced to her by our friends Clare & Nick as they tried to convert me to try one of their favourite wines. Jo waslesdauphinslogo very patient as I tried four of their reds in which I found two very nice indeed, the Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge 2014 and the Cote du Rhone Villages Plan de Dieu 2014. We were asked if we would like a photocall and of course we all obliged.

Les Dauphins photocall
Les Dauphins Photo Call

Winefairgang

So another Wine Fair has come and gone and very enjoyable it was too, my family who all came for the first time really enjoyed it as did all our friends. I could have gone on writing about some of the brilliant wines we tasted but my note taking suffered toward the end and became slightly illegible.

Thanks to Tesco who really do this kind of thing well and I look forward to next year.

Yalumba Butcher, Baker and Winemaker, dinner with Louisa Rose

 

yalumba logoA warm sunny evening and a pleasant stroll from Warwick Avenue underground station heading towards the Truscott Arms Maida Vale London where Yalumba were hosting their aptly named Butcher, Baker and Winemaker dinner with Yalumba chief winemaker Louisa Rose.

I remember visiting the Truscott Arms many times although it was Truscott Armsquite a few years ago now before its makeover and it was nice to return.

My wife and I were invited to the dinner courtesy of Tesco by submitting an online review of two of Yalumba wines the ‘Old Bush Vine Grenach 2013’ and the ‘Shiraz Viognier 2012’ and then Yalumba voting on the best reviews. (see reviews here).

On arrival around 7.00pm we were shown into the outdoor garden area for pre dinner drinks and canapes  where we were given a glass of ‘Yalumba Y Series Riesling 2014′ which was crisp and dry but still with a lovely creaminess giving a little weight. This is where we met fellow review winners along with the guys from Negociants UK and of course Louisa who we had a quick chat with before dinner.

Yalumba 1(600 x 337)

At 7.30pm we were shown to an upstairs dinning area where an impressively laid out table greeted us. After a few formalities and an introduction By Louisa Rose about  the wines we were drinking  our glasses were filled with the first selection of the ‘Eden Valley Viognier 2013’ and the ‘Old Bush vine Grenache 2013‘ to go with the first course Charcuterie. Both paired very well with a Yalumba Menu(337 x 599)slight preference for the Intense and aromatic Viognier which was full of ripe apricots and wonderful texture.

Next up was Halibut with a Rousanne reduction, grapes and Salsify accompanied by a crisp, slightly acidic and perfumed Roussanne in which, after a show of hands not many people in the room had tried before.

Beef Cheeks were next along with a couple of reds, the ‘Patchwork Shiraz 2013‘ and my star of the night the ‘Signature Cab Sauvignon Shiraz 2010‘ a superb blend full of fresh cherries and red currants, slightly dusty and tannic with a touch of menthol, (didn’t decline the offer of a refill ).

For dessert we were treated to another brilliant wine the ‘FSW8B Botrytis Viognier 2014‘ Sweet but not cloying a perfect end to a perfect meal.

Yalumba 2(600 x 337)
Louisa introducing wines

Louisa was friendly and knowledgeable answering all our questions and it was brilliant to meet her personally. All in all another fantastic night eating, drinking and meeting the guys behind the wines we buy. Superb stuff.

yalumba 6(600 x 337)
Ivorfan and Wife Agnes
ivorfan & Louisa Rose chief winemaker at Yalumba
ivorfan & Louisa Rose chief winemaker at Yalumba
yalumba 12(600 x 337)
A few wines to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

yalumba 17(600 x 337)

 

 

 

 

 

 

yalumba 13(600 x 337)yalumba 15(600 x 337)yalumba 11(600 x 337)yalumba 10(600 x 337)yalumba 9(337 x 599)yalumba 7(600 x 337)Yalumba 8(337 x 599)

Majestic Summer Tasting 2015

MajesticwintertitleAlways look forward to these tastings, hosted by the friendly and amiable staff at the Ruislip branch who always deliver a very enjoyable evening.

We arrived at a round 6.15pm, I went with a friend, my son and his girlfriend and considering it was a miserable evening with wind and rain there was already a good turn out even though it wasn’t starting until 6.30pm.

We were greeted with a smile and a glass of English Sparkling wine, the Balfour 1503 Brut NV from the Hush Heath Estate in Kent. Stream of fine bubbles, nice citrus apples, with biscuity flavours finishing with a little peppery spice, a good start .

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On to the whites we started with an expensive (£18 a bottle with discount) Jermann Pinot Grigio (Italy). This was lovely and much more complex than I thought initially. A very fruity aroma but with subtle vanilla and almonds in the background also very dry, couldn’t justify spending £18 though unfortunately.

Next was the Ferrandiere Riesling 2014, (Southern France) youthful, dry and fresh tasting, with lemons & limes and a bracing minerality, we all enjoyed this.

Lopez Haro Rioja Blanco (Spain) another one we all enjoyed, from the Viura grape with  soft citrus fruits, pears, vanilla cream and smoke, very nice white Rioja.

El Viajero Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile), very aromatic full of ripe gooseberries, cut grass, unfortunately the taste let it down slightly, a little chemically and a short finish.

Haut Vol Rose 2014 (Grenache & Carignan) This was all about summer fruits, especially strawberries, very dry, even though I’m not a big fan of Rose I liked it, the others thought it was ok.

Majesticmay2015reds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on to the reds, starting with the Perrin st Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2013 (Grenache & Syrah) what a great start, this was again enjoyed by all of us. Aromas of rich dark cherries, smokey, vibrant with mild tannins. Couple of these found their way into my basket.

Parcel Series Clare Valley Shiraz 2012 Another excellent red, typically Aussie Shiraz, this was full of spice and rich dark fruits, sweet with hints of woody forest.

Maretti Langhe Rosso 2013 (Italy) Nebbiolo & Barbera) My Favourite red of the night, dark brooding colour, herby, tannic, robust, earthy and absolutely delicious. You guessed it a few bottles again found their way into my basket.  There was a pretty much a 50/50 split on liking this wine, for me though no contest.

Chocolate Block 2013 (South Africa) Bit of a mixture this with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Viognier. Velvety smooth, black currants, blackberries, leather all feature. My son and I really liked this but only sticking point was the price £22 on a deal.

Majesticmay2015counter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally with all wines featured tasted we hit the free tasting counter in which the two stars were the Spanish Albarino and the French Chardonnay and we also enjoyed the Sauternes Dessert wine.

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Our tasting team, (Right to left) My son David & his Girlfriend Shirley, finally our friend John

 

As the evening drew to a close I noticed there was still some Italian Maretti Rosso left in the bottle, it seemed  a shame to leave it as it was for me the star of the night.

Thanks again to Majestic for another fantastic evening roll on the winter tasting.

8.5corks

 

Majestic Summer Tasting

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks