Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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14 July 2007

Caliterra sponsors Allotment of the Year

In a cunningly original sponsorship deal to infiltrate the very core of things peculiarly British, Chilean wine brand Caliterra has lent its name (and a few bottles presumably) to this most serious of competitions. Run by the National Allotment Gardens Trust, the winners will be announced during National Allotment Week, August 13th to 19th. Being a bit slow in reacting to this news, it's actually now too late to enter so my apologies for that! However, these are the five earth-moving categories:
Best Shed - looking for "the ultimate UK shed, the English allotmenteer’s supreme bolthole."
Best Allotment in the Country - "recognising the most beautiful, individually held plot in the country."
Best Newcomer - "for the person who has been allotment-gardening for less than three years."
Best Community Project - "everything from communal orchards to wild gardens used by special needs groups, an inclusive-minded Eden."
Best Allotment Site - "...in terms of maintenance, cleanliness and organic waste disposal."
With a new British film just out about life on the allotment, 'Grow Your Own', and the UKTV Gardens series, 'Dig For Victory'; this appears to be something that'll run and run. All goes to show you don't need an excuse to have a sit down in your veg garden after a hard day's digging, with a nice glass of wine of course. By the way, I'd stick to spuds and courgettes if I were you: Cabernet vines might be a bit tricky even in these global warming times. Posted 13/07/07. More Caliterra and Chilean wines to follow (see "Chile" page on the right).

13 July 2007

Champagne with potato chips?

"...Zinfandel with your Tex-Mex? Not a problem," says Natalie MacLean, author and sommelier,  who claims to offer no less than 360,000 "daring food and wine matches" in a new feature on her website Nat Decants. So click here www.nataliemaclean.com/matcher and have a bit of fun playing around with it. There's quite a lot of superior rubbish written about which wines should go with what; or, worse still, you know that kind of useless back label stating 'ideal with red meat or cheese.' What I like about Natalie's thing is the depth of options she's included: for example, put in 'pasta' and you'll get a long list of different sauces and ingredients, much more helpful and important when attempting to pair flavours and textures. You might not agree with every suggestion but at least she's spent time thinking it through, and probably done a fair bit of cooking and complementary tasting too! Another good site on this theme is Fiona Beckett’s www.matchingfoodandwine.com.

10 July 2007

Northern Rhône: 'Touring Crozes-Hermitage country..'

"Crozes-Hermitage literally stands in the imposing shadow of the Hermitage hillside vineyard, but do the wines lag far behind in its awesome wake? The busy little town of Tain l’Hermitage, on the Rhone’s right bank north of Valence, forms the heart of the appellation (AOC) and where the eponymous hill starts to rise steeply, immediately behind the station, adorned with placards carrying those oh-so famous names (Chapoutier, Jaboulet…) and the landmark Chapelle revered by wine lovers around the globe..."
Featuring these wineries: Chapoutier, Cave de Tain, Jaboulet, Yann Chave, Laurent Combier, Delas Frères, Alain Graillot, Rémizières-Desmeure, Gilles Robin, Chasselvin-Chomarat, Cave Fayolle, Hauts Chassis; and some touristy stuff such as Valrhona choc factory and the magnificently bizarre Palais Idéal... Part of this feature was originally written for the website winetourisminfrance.com (summer 2007).
CLICK HERE TO READ THIS ARTICLE (in my archive pages).

01 July 2007

Wine Women Awards 2007

Another competition, I hear you say! But this one's a bit different and celebrates leading women in the wine business and related fields, including an 'amateur' category this year. The contest itself takes place in Paris in mid June, where the finalists will be grilled by judges holding €4000 prize-money in their wallets/purses. Closing date to enter is 20th April, so 'sisters get doin' it for yourselves.' Full details on the WWA website: www.winewomenawards.com. Posted 5/3/07.
Update July 07: and the winners were Veronique Rivest, a 41 year-old Canadian sommelier, educator and columnist in the 'professional category'; and, in
the 'amateur category', Aurélie Degoul, 23 year-old from France who's in charge of a wine tourism project in Sauternes (sounds pretty 'professional' to me).