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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A small selection of good affordable wines reviewed in 2016

ivorfan-logo-2016Another great year in this wonderful world of wine, lots of wines sampled, some fantastic, some good and some not so good but always fun trying them.felizanonuevo

Been lucky enough to attend some fabulous events  and tastings meeting some interesting and amiable people along the way and after three seasons in the doldrums Fulham are starting to look like a team again, so everything is looking good for a brilliant 2017 with hopefully more of the same.

🍾🍾HAPPY NEW YEAR to all 🍷🍷🥂🥂

So here are just a small selection some easily available wines I’ve enjoyed over the last year, as they say, in no particular order ( click on More link to see full review)…….

Gran Reboreda 2015

reboreda1The bottle caught my eye as it featured one of my favourite white grapes Godello although with this one it’s a small part of a blend with Treixadura which is the predominant grape around 80% (used mainly in the making of Portuguese Vinho Verde) also featuring is another lesser known grape Loureira. More ..

 

 

Rustenberg John X Merriman 2012

Rustenburg John X Merrriman 2012South Africa takes on Bordeaux with this powerful beast of a wine from the Stellenbosch region, named in honour of John Xavier Merriman who revitalised the Rustenberg farm in 1892 after it suffered badly due to the Phylloxera crisis and went on to establish Rustenberg wines.

A blend of 49% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. More..

 

Truly Irresistable Fiano 2015

co-op-fianoAs regular readers know I am a big fan of Co Op and their wines and have been really impressed by most of their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range and this is no exception. I was initially alerted to this wine by a recommendation by wine journalist Brian Elliot from the website MidWeek Wines, so when popping into my local store for a loaf of bread and some milk a bottle kind of found its way into my basket. More..

 

Brancott Estate Letter B series sweet dessert wine

late harvest BEHands up all those people who will break out a bottle of dessert wine at the end of a meal to accompany pudding, I guess if I look around there would probably not be many arms in the air but if you haven’t tried it then you are missing out on a real treat. More..

 

 

Hambledon Classic Cuvée

Hambledon sparklingSome may say who needs Champagne when we have Sparking wine in this country as good as this. I have sampled a few English wines mostly a tastings and events, notably Nyetimber and Chapel Down and both are very good but it’s not until I tasted this particular bottle that I sat up and realised that the Brits do make some pretty decent sparkling wines. More..

 

Wakefield Clare Valley Shiraz 2014

Wakefield Shiraz 2014 (337 x 599)I first discovered this gem of a wine  at a Majestic ‘Winter tasting ‘ event back in November 2015.

Although not one of the wines on show, It happened to be sitting on their tasting counter along with one or two other pretty decent bottles, not sure how long it had been opened for but their was still half a bottle and over the course of the evening I must admit to revisiting this Aussie beauty a few times. There was slightly less than half a bottle by the end of the evening (Shhh, empty it was !! ) but I didn’t drink it all, honestly and I did end up buying a few bottles. More..

Xarel-lo 2014

Xarel-loCan’t pronounce it and never heard of it I hear you cry but if you look on most bottles of Spanish Cava you will find Xarel-lo is one of the three main grapes used to make their fabulous sparkling wines.

This bottle is a 100% Xarel-lo (pronounced Shre-lo) made in the Penedes region of north-east Spain and not a bubble in sight. It’s a still wine that is wonderfully fresh and vibrant and has a Cava/Champagne flavour without the fizz although there is a slight zingy after-taste. More..

Lindeman’s Bin 1355 Semillon

lindemans-semillonBought  a case of this very good Lindeman’s Hunter Valley Semillon 2013  from Majestic on their WIGIG (When its gone its gone) promotion for the bargain price of £4.99 a bottle, which in my opinion, turned out to be a bit of a steal. More..

 

 

 

More bargain Fizz !

louis-chaurey-champagneThere’s nothing better than a glass of top class fizz, unfortunately all reasonable Champagne weighs in with a hefty price tag, what comes a close second is finding fizz at a rock bottom price which actually tastes pretty good. Following on the back of a recent review for another cheapy Louvel Fontaine comes this Louis Chaurey  Champagne from M&S  at a very affordable £16 a bottle.

I picked this up at our local fete where I won it in a raffle so it basically cost me £5 in tickets, even more reason to enjoy.

After my recent venture into the world of Sabrage (slicing off the top of a  Champagne bottle with a Sabre) I must say I was tempted to open it with, maybe not a sabre but a large kitchen Knife but I decided against it.

When opened, the conventional way it was extremely frothy ( lively Mousse /effervescence) calming down into a stream of small but not tiny bubbles.

I found it hard to distinguish much in the way of aroma, maybe a hint of lemon rind and cherries. On first sip this tasted  full of citrus fruits including crisp green apples and lemons giving it an enamel stripping tartness which I found refreshing. Again as in the Louvel Fontaine not much in the way of toastiness but there was a slight floral flavour which added to the appeal.

Ok, this is not a fine Champagne but it hits the spot for a mid-week venture into fizz without breaking the bank and I quite happily drink it again.

7corks

My Rating 7/10 Corks

M&S £16

 

Xarel-lo 2014

Xarel-loCan’t pronounce it and never heard of it I hear you cry but if you look on most bottles of Spanish Cava you will find Xarel-lo is one of the three main grapes used to make their fabulous sparkling wines.

This bottle is a 100% Xarel-lo (pronounced Shre-lo) made in the Penedes region of north-east Spain and not a bubble in sight. It’s a still wine that is wonderfully fresh and vibrant and has a Cava/Champagne flavour without the fizz although there is a slight zingy after-taste.

When poured it was very clear straw like colour with a very pronounced nose of peaches and cream, lemon curd and freshly buttered toast.

On first sip it is extremely bright with a sharp acidic kick. Again the peaches are there with apricots and some limes thrown in the mix but there is also a hint of rich creaminess about it.

Maybe not to everyone’s taste as this wine still has a sharp almost sour flavour but mixed with the richness the wonderful fruit and the slight breadiness this is a very good, unusual, interesting wine and I really liked it. Chilled on a hot summers day this would be perfect.

 

8corks

My Rating 8/10 Corks

M&S  £10 ( bought on offer for £7)

Darting Estate Dürkheimer Michelsberg Riesling 2012

darting estate(450 x 600)Germany 12.5%

I’m really becoming a big fan of German wines from especially from M&S including their fabulous Palataia Pinot Noir and now this lively, spritzy and crisp  ‘Darting Estate Dürkheimer Michelsberg Riesling’. So it’s time to slip on the Lederhosen and Alpine hat for a quick taste of Germany in the shape of this pretty decent dry white wine.

Aromatically this has a brilliant nose of peaches, honeydew melon, orange peel and pineapple but still has that oily rubbery petrol smell (which actually smells a lot better than it sounds).

First taste this was dry, crisp, tangy and had a spritzy finish almost like having a mouthful of ‘Space Dust’ which at first was a little unusual. Ripe Honeydew melon, peaches and pineapple were all there with perhaps a touch of honey. Although this was fairly dry there was a hint of sweetness on the finish.

So for me, another great German find, one I would recommend with or without food even with the spritzy finish this is a very good ( Sehr Gut ) Riesling.

8.5corksMy Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Marks & Spencer £9.49

Chateau KSARA Clos st Alphonse 2010

Ksara lebanon(450 x 600)Lebanon 13%

Hands up everyone who has tasted Lebanese wine?, Mmmm, looking around I don’t see many arms being raised. If you haven’t, then perhaps you should and you may be pleasantly surprised.

My first introduction to wines from the Lebanon was a couple of years ago when I tasted the stunning Bordeaux like Chateau Musar and their second wine, although less stunning still decent Chateau Hochar Pere et Fils from the Bekaa valley region close to Beirut.

Okay, these wines are a little on the pricey side but now there seems to be more and more affordable bottles appearing on the high street shelves from this ancient wine making country.

This particular bottle the ‘Chateau KSARA Clos St Alphonse 2010’ from M&S, is made up of Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and is very French in style (Rhone meets Bordeaux).

Smokey, very vegetal in aroma with ripe plums and cherries . Taste wise the first thing that is noticeable is it’s quite tannic, saying that it still has a nice mouthfeel with no harshness, smokey wood, a hint of cloves come through along with tar and slightly bitter dark fruits.

It may not be a Chateau Musar then you’re not paying Musar prices and at around £10 it’s very good value and I enjoyed it immensely.

7.5corksMy Rating 7.5/10 Corks

M&S around £10

Tikves 2012, Vranec & Merlot – Macedonia

TIKVES(450 x 600)Macedonian wine, not everyone’s first choice when browsing the shelves looking for a red wine to go with dinner but do yourself a favour and grab a bottle that mentions the Vranec grape.

I first tasted Vranec a few months ago and thought it was excellent , I’ve now revisited the grape and my thoughts are still that it’s a very decent drink. Vranec is the native red grape of Macedonia and it produces very dark rich full bodied wines.

This particular wine from M&S is called Tikves (most well known wine region in Macedonia). This is a blend of Vranec and Merlot and for £8.99 is well worth a try.
When poured the wine is strikingly deep purple in colour with aromas of ripe plums, blackcurrants, prunes and rich dark chocolate.

Taste – Not for the faint hearted, rich, velvety, bitter sweet jam and fairly tannic (for me pretty much what I like in a wine). It also boasts 14% alcohol but doesn’t feel like it (which can be a good or bad thing) because a lot of the bottle can disappear quickly without realising.

For me, Vranec will definitely feature a lot in my wine rack, so treat yourself and try this Balkan beauty, you may be pleasantly surprised.

8corksMy Rating 8/10 Corks

M&S £8.99