"Buy my book about the Roussillon on Amazon UK in paperback or eBook or black & white version, and Amazon USA: paperback or eBook or black & white. Also available in the US from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook. For other countries, tap on the link below above the cover image." Richard Mark James

30 July 2021

Old Luxters Farm Brewery: craft ales of the moment.


This multi-faceted business is also known as the Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery and Old Luxters Vineyard and Barn (wedding reception venue), with a luxury farmhouse B&B (four rooms) and cookery school too; in addition, they make a range of fruit liqueurs and sell local cheeses, honey and chocolates among other things! Certainly couldn't accuse them of not being enterprising.

09 July 2021

South of France, Pays d'Oc part three: Rosé.

These five rosés are all IGP Pays d'Oc from the Languedoc.
Marselan 2020 Les Caves Richemer (13.5% abv) - As I said in two previous posts about IGP Pays d'Oc (part 1 and part 2), Marselan is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache that's been around for a few decades and has adapted well to the Languedoc. Well-made easy-going tasty rosé combining juicy red fruits and white peach with creamier food-leaning mouth-weight and fresh zingy finish. Not bad match with a kinda 'surf & turf' pasta dish: spicy sausage tortelloni topped with bolognese and sardine sauce with courgettes, garlic, ginger and smoked paprika! France cellar door €4.30, Netherlands €8.95, US €9.99.

07 July 2021

Three whites of the moment: M&S 'Found'

Moschofilero & Roditis 2020 (12% abv) - One of the newish M&S 'Found' range sourced from the Peloponnese, the southernmost part of mainland Greece, and produced by Semeli Winery from these two indigenous varieties (80% Moschofilero in fact) grown in two different high-altitude vineyard areas. Very aromatic with citrus and grapey Muscat-like notes, zesty yeast-lees tones too, concentrated zingy palate with lingering aromatic fruit on its crisp elegant finish. Highly recommended dry white: try with smoked salmon or haddock, prawn curry, asparagus or goats' cheese. £8.50

05 July 2021

Belgian beer of the moment: Duvel Blond


Admittedly it's a big brand, relatively, but this smooth and serious Blond(e) beer is a long-time favourite and still offers more quality and flavour than many other bottled beers, even in the welcome days of trendy craft beers (I think the Belgians may have done 'craft' for some time already). Definitely a sipping or foodie beer in moderate amounts due to its powerful 8.5% abv, I love its irresistible combination of refreshing hoppy bite and full fruity flavour.

01 July 2021

Chile review 2021 masterclass

Valle de Elqui

Two tasting sessions featuring very diverse wines were held live via Zoom at the end of May, hosted by Wines of Chile UK, Tim Atkin MW and several leading Chilean winemakers also online commenting on their wines as we sampled from home. Tim picked sixteen whites, reds and a rosé to showcase the latest developments on the ground in Chile, enhanced by lots of up-to-date information on vineyards, grape varieties and wine regions. Atkin produces a substantial report every year on the Chilean wine scene, which can be purchased from this website here. Wine geek warning: this post is quite long and 'serious' (but does contain some great wines to look out for)...

03 June 2021

'Apples of the moment': Aspall Cyder and Boulard Calvados

 Aspall is an almost 300 year-old cider house (hence ye olde spelling of cyder on the label), as the website tells us: "In 1728, Clement Chevallier planted the first large-scale cyder orchards in Suffolk (England)." Their modestly named Premier Cru Cyder (with serious 6.8% abv) is described as "the first cyder produced by Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild when they joined the business - seven years in creation - and still their favourite drink." I wouldn't argue with that, cider-wise at least.

20 May 2021

Miscellaneous wines of the moment

An enticing mixed half-a-dozen of whites, red and rosés sourced from big supermarkets and one-store independents priced at £7 to £10 in the UK.

Vara Rosé 2020 Cramele Recas Estate, Romania (12% abv) - Good-value dry and zingy rosé made from 65% Merlot and 35% Feteasca Neagra, which develops creamy straw-raspberry flavours followed by crisper cranberry type crunchiness. £7 Marks & Spencer (image copied from their site). Versatile with food.

16 May 2021

South of France: Pays d'Oc IGP part two.


The second instalment of a mini-feature on Pays d'Oc IGP wines from the Languedoc (see Part 1 for more about terminology, rationale etc.) focuses on half-a-dozen varietal wines, this time including well-known grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon blanc) and relatively new arrivals to the region or discoveries (Albariño, Marselan). Last time, my notes were mainly centred on a few different styles of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache (and combinations) and Viognier.

24 April 2021

South of France: IGP and Vin de France


Many wine producers in southern France make wines labelled as Indication Géographique Protégée or IGP, which replaced Vin de Pays over ten years ago as part of a Europe-wide rationalisation of wine laws and 'trademarking' of specified wine areas. Hence in Italy, it's Indicazione Geografica Protetta or Indicación Geográfica Protegida in Spain, although confusingly they still also use the term Vino de la Tierra ('country wine') whereas the French have dropped Vin de Pays.

07 April 2021

Varietal wines of the moment (except Sauvignon blanc)

Finest Valle de Leyda Chardonnay 2020, Chile - Luis Felipe Edwards (13.5% abv): As soon as this delicious fruity Chardy was discovered among Tesco's large 'Finest' range, it went out of stock; hopefully just temporarily. Ripe peach and melon fruit with creamy tones then zestier citrus on its weighty but balanced finished. Oak is suggested in the blurb but you can't taste it thankfully, perhaps adding to its rounded texture and cashew flavours. £8 Tesco.

05 March 2021

Sicily: Ragusa and Agrigento

Aruci Aruci caffetteria, gelateria & Casa Siciliana Trattoria - Scicli, Ragusa province.

A few reminiscences, sightseeing tips, places to stay, photos and a little food and wine condensed from a lucky-break week spent in Sicily last September in between Covid restriction lockdowns. The plan was to avoid big towns and cities (so no Palermo or Catania this time unfortunately), hire a car, stay in the middle of nowhere and not tour around too much (pretty much the opposite of a 'normal' holiday), which part of the south of the gorgeous island provided a perfect backdrop for (Ragusa province and Agrigento a couple of hours up the coast).

24 February 2021

Zeitgeisty wines

Zeitgeisty is admittedly a little literary and pretentious, and I wasn't aware it was a word as such, in the adjective form with a 'y' ending, until I saw it recently in a one-line review on the back cover of a new book (quoting a well-known writer so it must be okay). Any road, this latest batch of wine buy tips kicks off with a handful of tasty drops of bubbly, which always has a certain 'spirit of the times' feel about it on any occasion and any time of year, especially to toast in winter drawing to a close sooner rather than later.

From https://www.facebook.com/vinoltrepo
 

22 February 2021

'Noir, blanc or gris: Grenache is at home in the wild south' - The Wine Merchant magazine

Screenshot from the Feb. digital edition:

This short paragraph from an article in the February 2021 edition of The Wine Merchant magazine (UK business publication) is a taster of a few combined extracts from my book on the Roussillon region themed around the Grenache variety. Follow the link above to read the feature (and the full digital issue) or go to winemerchantmag.com to find out more and buy a printed copy.

20 January 2021

Red & rosé wines of trying times

Whereas the 50-odd 'white wines of the cosmos' in my previous feature were arranged by store, these 40 red and rosé tips have been grouped by good old-fashioned grape variety (or combinations of). Once again no apologies offered for, this time, an irrational amount of Grenache, including GSM (Grenache / Garnacha, Shiraz / Syrah and Mourvèdre blends), and Pinot Noir.

Grenache / Garnacha with GSM and similar combos

Finest GSM 2017, McLaren, South Australia (14.5% abv) - Made by Grenache supremo D'Arenberg (they have some very old Grenache and Shiraz vines planted), this alluring red shows maturing colour and nose with spicy kirsch and black cherry, punchy palate but quite soft with peppery sweet berries and pruney earthy olive. Tesco £9.

15 January 2021

White wines of the cosmos

'Here we are in the ship of the imagination...' Remember that awe-inspiring space travel programme 'Cosmos' back in the 80s by Carl Sagan (paraphrasing one of his most cosmological lines)? Don't know why I thought of that though: stellar white wines of the split-atom millisecond perhaps? Sounds more out-there than international or global, especially as these words are usually stranded with media-nouns like crisis, conflict or pandemic; or similar marketing babble (e.g. brand, product).

Photo from amazon.co.uk

'RED'

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