"Order my book on the Roussillon wine region (colour paperback) DIRECT FROM ME SAVING £4/€4 (UK & EU only), or Kindle eBook on Amazon UK. Available in the USA from Barnes & Noble in hardcover, paperback or eBook; or Amazon.com. For other countries, tap here." Richard Mark James
Showing posts sorted by date for query Cava. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Cava. Sort by relevance Show all posts

24 April 2016

Spain: 'wines of the moment'

Catalonia
Vintage Cava 2011 Brut Nature Jaume Serra (Xarel.lo, Parellada, Macabeu, Chardonnay, 11.5% abv) - Attractive drink-now and dry version ('nature' here means zero added dosage) of the popular favourite, with oily roundness and a touch of style. Tesco 'finest' £7.
Marqués del Norte Vintage Cava Brut 2013 (11.5% abv) - Asda has been knocking out this own-label fizz at a ludicrous bargain £4! Also made by the Jaume Serra winery, less developed and fresher than above although more off-dry.
Frares Priorat 2014 (Garnacha, Carinena, 15% abv) - Tasty example of this often very expensive Catalan red from the hills behind Tarragona, full-on spicy liquorice with oomph and plenty of lush fruit. Marks & Spencer £13

Montilla – Moriles
Fresquito PX 2014 Perez Barquero (Pedro Ximenez, 14% abv) - Deliciously different dry white with the lively yeasty almond edges reminiscent of Fino Sherry, but a touch 'lighter' in style (despite that quite high alcohol). Marks & Spencer £9, on offer at £42 for 6 bottles online (late April).

Rioja
Marqués de Valido Reserva 2010 Bodegas Muriel (Tempranillo, 13% abv) - Always reliable Co-Op own-brand Rioja, not the greatest Reserva style around but has plenty of maturing charm and smoky smoothness for the price. £8.99
Perez Burton Tempranillo 2013 Telmo Rodriguez (14%) - A touch classier and more concentrated version from this well-known consultant winemaker. M & S £11.50.

Yecla - Murcia
Tapa Roja old vines Monastrell 2014 Bodegas del Mediterraneo (14.5% abv) - Same delicious unoaked style as the previous vintage featured on this blog a year ago (click there), layered with earthy dark fruit and black olive flavours. M & S £9/£7 on offer (late April).

Jerez/Sanlúcar de Barrameda - Andalusia
12 Year Old Oloroso Sherry Emilio Lustau (Palomino Fino, 20% abv) - Labelled as 'medium dry', but I think its inherent characteristic richness makes it taste less dry than it actually probably is. Towards stunning aged sherry for a bargain price, rich and baked walnut-y with complex lingering flavours. Sainsbury's 'taste the difference' £8 50cl.
La Gitana Manzanilla Bodegas Hidalgo (Palomino Fino, 15% abv) - Classic style dry and lively sherry with roasted salted almond notes and tangy finish. 50cl £8 Sainsbury's/widely available.

13 April 2016

New wine tasting events in Belfast

First of all, a quick reminder of the next tasting coming up in May:

Looney Tunes' Tasmanian Devil
downloaded from You Tube.

Thursday 19 May 6.45-8.30pm
'Island wines' tasting £28.95
This original tutored tasting will hop around from one island to another across the world taking in six to eight wines (depending on numbers), travelling from the Mediterranean (Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, Greece...) to where the Indian Ocean meets the South Pacific (Tasmania, New Zealand...).

08 January 2016

Wine Education Service: tastings & courses Belfast 2016 update

See below for the latest on forthcoming wine courses and tastings running in Belfast, plus a new evening tasting added to the programme at the end of April and updated PayPal button for card payments at the bottom.

Impossible castle in Slovenia
Saturday 30 January 2016: Spain and Portugal one-day workshop £90
LAST FEW PLACES LEFT!

01 December 2015

WES NI wine tastings & courses in Belfast 2016

Vineyards overlooking Pinhao, Douro Valley
Saturday 30 January 2016: Spain and Portugal one-day workshop £90
Including at least a dozen wines tasted with your tutor, two-course lunch at the hotel and course manual - "We'll taste and talk about a selection of quality red, white, rosé and fortified wines highlighting the very different regions, grape varieties and wine styles found across the 'Iberian peninsular'.

12 November 2015

Wine tastings & courses: Nov 15 to Mar 16 in Belfast

From Italtrade.com
​​Thursday 26 November 7-8.45pm: Italian wines​ £28.95
​"​At​ ​this wines of Italy ​evening tasting​, we'll take you on a guided tour around several of this very​ varied country's wine producing regions ​by​ tasting and talking about ​a carefully selected range of​ tasty red and white​ wines. These will probably include classics from northern Italy, such as Piemonte and Veneto, central Italy such as Tuscany and Umbria, and the deep south e.g. Sicily, ​Campania,​ Puglia..."

31 August 2015

Wine tastings & workshops Belfast update: Oct 2015 to Feb 2016


I've changed one date - the first autumn workshop has been put back a couple of weeks into October - on the forthcoming WES NI wine tasting and workshop programme, and added some new dates for your diary in the New Year 2016! Booking options are found at the bottom:

Saturday 10 October: Spain and Portugal one-day workshop £90
"We'll taste and talk about a dozen or so red, white, rosé and fortified wines selected to highlight the very different regions, grape varieties and wine styles found across the 'Iberian peninsular'. This will include well-known 'classics' such as Rioja, Port​/Douro Valley and (real) Sherry​; but throwing in a few surprises too like Galici​a and Vinho Verde for dry whites, serious reds from Dao or the Alentejo and not forgetting the wine 'super-state' of Catalonia, home to some great reds, whites and Cava..." Includes two-course lunch at the hotel.

​​Thursday 29 October​ 7-9 pm​: ​​France vs ​​the 'New World' classic grape varieties tutored tasting £28.95
​"​We'll compare three or four pairs of well-known grape varieties from different regions of France ​with​ certain Southern Hemisphere countries, 'classic' styles of say Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec... (two of each). Which is 'better', or are they just different?!"​

​​Saturday 14 November ​11 am-​2 pm​: "off the beaten track" ​wine tasting and ​lunch £49
"Come and explore the lesser-known, although certainly not less exciting, wine world with this morning tasting of about eight diverse high-quality wines from countries such as Lebanon, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and fine English sparkling wine too. Includes a two-course lunch at the hotel afterwards."

​​Thursday 26 November 7-9 pm: Italian wines​ £28.95
​"​At​ ​this wines of Italy ​evening tasting​, we'll take you on a guided tour around several of this very​ varied country's wine producing regions ​by​ tasting and talking about ​a carefully selected range of​ tasty red and white​ wines. These will probably include classics from northern Italy, such as Piemonte and Veneto, central Italy such as Tuscany and Umbria, and the deep south e.g. Sicily, ​Campania,​ Puglia..."

Saturday 30 January 2016 one-day workshop (topic to be confirmed) - £90 including at least a dozen wines tasted with your tutor, two-course lunch at the hotel and course manual.

"Essential Wine Tasting" five-week course 2016 - £125
Thursday evenings (7-9pm approx) February 4, 11, 18, 25 and March 3. Full details are on our website:


The venue for all these events is the Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. More info and online booking on our site:

Facebook.com/WineEducationServiceNI (you have to sign in to FB). Or you can pay by card or your own Paypal account using the PP button below (you don't need an account to do this though). You can change the quantity of tickets on the secure web form:


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27 August 2015

Spain, Catalonia: Priorat, Montsant, Terra Alta, Penedès, Empordà

Hot on the heels of the last post about my updated Cava guide (click there), here are fifteen more tasty Catalan recommendations sourced from fashionable (and dear) Priorat and the (better-value) neighbouring wine areas of Montsant and Terra Alta (inland and west of Tarragona), Penedès (west/north-west of Barcelona) and the perhaps lesser-known (name- and wine-wise at least as it's very touristy) Empordà region (Catalunya's north-eastern corner bordering France Med-side). Some of the prices indicated below were taken from Wine Searcher.

From facebook.com/lafouceller
Priorat
Clos Mogador 2010 (Garnacha, Carinena, Cabernet, Syrah) - a "famous" vineyard I believe, owned by René Barbier. Dense rich red, fair amount of coconut oak but it's intense concentrated and extracted, firm and fresh mouth-feel layered with dark cherry/berry fruit and savoury flavours, powerful and still young on the finish. Expensive naturally: about €70 in Ireland, at least £50 in the UK and $75-$100 in USA.
Álvaro Palacios 2012 Camins del Priorat (Garnacha, Carinena) - Delicious wild berry and herb fruit, pure and tasty, concentrated too with nice grip and lively finish. €27, £17.50, $21-$23
Cartoixa de Montsalvat 2009 Mont Classic (Garnacha, Carinena) - Baked maturing liquorice and tobacco aromas, extracted and concentrated, big vs softening, power and length; quite a mouthful! €22, $32-$34
Bernard Magrez 2010 Herencia del Padri (Carinena, Garnacha, Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah) - Light coconut tones and fairly perfumed ripe berry and cassis, beginning to mature turning savoury and tobacco, powerful vs soft tannins, quite elegant actually. €21.25, $20
Bernard Magrez 2005 Alegría (Garnacha, Carinena, Merlot, Cabernet) - Fairly oaky still actually vs smoky maturing dark fruit, quite concentrated, some grip still although nice texture and balance, coconut hints merge with lush spicy fruit. €49.50

Montsant
Cellers Baronia del Montsant 2010 Cims del Montsant (Garnacha, Carinena) - maturing smoky tobacco nose, sweet liquorice fruit vs a touch of grip, attractive savoury finish, drinking well now. €16.99, $15-$20

Catalunya
Ramón Roqueta 2012 Vinya Nostra Nit de Tardor (Garnacha, Samsó) - Dark berries with liquorice and spice, nice fruity mouthful, fairly soft yet quite concentrated with lingering dark fruit and wild herb flavours. €17
Ramón Roqueta 2013 Vinya Nostra Xarel.lo (100% Xarel.lo) - Aromatic green fruit with yeast-lees edges, crisp and zesty mouth-feel vs fuller oilier side, fair weight and flavour in the end. Nice white. €17

Catalunya/Penedès
Torres 2013 Vina Esmeralda (Moscatel, Gewurztraminer) - Aromatic Muscat nose with a touch of lychee, light and off-dry with zesty finish. €13.99, £7.50-£8.50
Torres 2011 Coronas Crianza (Tempranillo, Cabernet) - Vibrant berry fruit and subtle oak notes, tasty fruity vs savoury palate, lovely balance and style. £8-£9, €13.99
Torres 2010 Gran Sangre de Toro (Garnacha, Carinena, Syrah) - Smoky with a touch of oak and nice lively spicy ripe black fruits, quite concentrated with smooth tannins plus an elegant touch despite the Grenache oomph. €13.99, £8-£9.50
Torres 2009 Gran Coronas (Tempranillo, Cabernet) - Concentrated and stylish, savoury tobacco notes vs chunky and dark-fruity, drinking well now but will last a bit longer, very tasty red. €19.99, £11.50-£12.50

Terra Alta
Lafou Celler 2012 Els Amelers (Garnacha blanca) - Juicy and honeyed, zesty and lees-y vs quite rich, pretty intense with steely vs weighty finish. Very good white. €22, $20
Lafou Celler 2012 El Sender (Garnacha, Syrah, Morenillo) - Perfumed wild herb/violet aromas, lovely blackberry/cherry, soft tannins, lush vs powerful. Delicious red. €22, $18-$20

Empordà
Clos d'Agon 2010 Amic (Garnacha) - Maturing wild dark fruit nose, big mouthful with chunky vs maturing finish, quite good although not exactly a bargain. €23.75, £15.95

25 August 2015

Spain: Cava guide updated

I've updated and tidied up my now 15-page mini-guide to 'Creative Catalan Bubbly' country featuring new 'entries' from these wineries, big and small: Vallformosa, Chozas Carrascal, Segura Viudas, Freixenet, Marqués de Monistrol, Campo Viejo, Jaume Serra, Castellblanch, Marqués de la Concordia/The Haciendas Company, Castillo Perelada and Juvé y Camps. Also includes some latest thoughts and figures on Cava export markets and updated profiles on a couple of stand-out cellars.
This Cava mini-guide isn't viewable on WW.com, so you can buy the full PDF report for just £1.99 emailed to you once I get confirmation of payment. Hit the PayPal button below (select it in drop-down menu first) to pay by card or with your own PP account, although you don't need one to do so! More about card payments and general T&C by clicking HERE.


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13 August 2015

Muscadet: Guilbaud Frères

Pascal Guilbaud
Pascal Guilbaud and family are the latest in a long line of grape-growers and winemakers to be at the wheel of this eye-opening estate winery, which just goes to show that there's Muscadet and there's Muscadet. They've obviously managed to lift up this well-known (and often rather boring) dry white wine onto a higher dimension, stylistically, as I noted about their 2012 old vine cuvée, like "a mix of good Burgundy and Riesling." Which inevitably translates as their wines being a little dearer, but not by much for this quality. These three tried and tested below are all made from 100% Melon de Bourgogne aka Muscadet to you and me - I get the impression the latter name is perhaps considered an inferior moniker for the variety, especially by producers like the Guilbaud brothers who obviously take it very seriously... The Vintage House in London stock some of their wines priced about £10; also available in Germany and Belgium.

Le Clos du Pont Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2009 - Sourced from a well-exposed sunny spot from a vineyard planted in "clay on schist" with 30 to 40 year-old vines. 2009 enjoyed a particularly hot summer with "selected, very ripe grapes" coming in to the cellar. The fledgling wine spent "several weeks in vat on lees" before fermentation in large oak casks, then aged for more than two years in barrel afterwards (not new oak though), which is unusual for Muscadet - most of it doesn't get any near wood or isn't aged even, made and kept in stainless steel tanks.
Seemed surprisingly youthful for its age, kind of like 'flat' Cava or Champagne with toasty almond, yeasty and appley aromas and flavours, maturing savoury and nutty notes contrasting with that crisp appley side, complex ageing and rounded finish yet still quite steely underneath. Unusual and well tasty. €10.55 cellar door.

Château de la Pingossière 'Vieilles Vignes' Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie 2012 - From "silica, schist and Gneiss soils" (for all you geologists out there), picking started late in 2012 due to a late winter freeze (causing a fair bit of damage too limiting the final crop) and slow start to summer. This vineyard is found in the Vallet village area on a hilltop, planted with 35 to 45 year-old vines. Yeast-lees stirring was done once a week for the first two months, then ageing on fine lees for 10 months "partly in underground vats and partly in old tuns in the cellar." (It must all be in the geeky detail you might be wondering..?)
Very nice style mix reminiscent of Burgundy vs Riesling, quite concentrated and intense, crisp and 'salty' with 'mineral' celery tones vs more savoury baked apple, long fine fresh finish vs nutty oily texture. Very good. €7 cellar door.

Le Soleil Nantais Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie 2014 - From "different parcels in silica-clay soils around the village of Mouzillon and schist soils around Vallet." Younger vines aged 20 to 35 years. In 2014, vintage conditions were all going fine up until a rather rainy August, but which was followed by a great September (like just about everywhere). Seven months on the lees in those "underground vats" and stainless tanks.
Refreshing and crisp with nice 'chalky' texture vs ripe apple and melon flavours, again has good depth of character and racy acidity to finish. €6.50 cellar door.

More info: GUILBAUD-MUSCADET.COM

By the way, all Loire Valley words and wines will be moved from WineWriting.com (links to page where it is at the mo) to this blog sooner or later...

01 August 2015

Wine tastings & workshops in Belfast September to November

The autumn programme for wine tastings and workshops scheduled to run in Belfast city centre (Ramada Encore Hotel Cathedral Quarter) by Wine Education Service NI (that's me) from late September to late November 2015 is as follows (drum roll)...
Booking options are at the bottom:

Saturday 26 September: Spain and Portugal one-day workshop £90
"We'll taste and talk about a dozen or so red, white, rosé and fortified wines selected to highlight the very different regions, grape varieties and wine styles found across the 'Iberian peninsular'. This will include well-known 'classics' such as Rioja, Port​/Douro Valley and (real) Sherry​; but throwing in a few surprises too like Galici​a and Vinho Verde for dry whites, serious reds from Dao or the Alentejo and not forgetting the wine 'super-state' of Catalonia, home to some great reds, whites and Cava..." Includes two-course lunch at the hotel.

​​Thursday 29 October​ 7-9 pm​: ​​France vs ​​the 'New World' classic grape varieties tutored tasting £28.95
​"​We'll compare three or four pairs of well-known grape varieties from different regions of France ​with​ certain Southern Hemisphere countries, 'classic' styles of say Chardonnay, Riesling, Syrah/Shiraz, Malbec... (two of each). Which is 'better', or are they just different?!"​

​​Saturday 14 November ​11 am-​2 pm​: "off the beaten track" ​wine tasting and ​lunch £49
"Come and explore the lesser-known, although certainly not less exciting, wine world with this morning tasting of about eight diverse high-quality wines from countries such as Lebanon, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece and fine English sparkling wine too. Includes a two-course lunch at the hotel afterwards."

​​Thursday 26 November 7-9 pm: Italian wines​ £28.95
​"​At​ ​this wines of Italy ​evening tasting​, we'll take you on a guided tour around several of this very​ varied country's wine producing regions ​by​ tasting and talking about ​a carefully selected range of​ tasty red and white​ wines. These will probably include classics from northern Italy, such as Piemonte and Veneto, central Italy such as Tuscany and Umbria, and the deep south e.g. Sicily, ​Campania,​ Puglia..."

Book online on our site:
Wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast
Facebook.com/WineEducationServiceNI (you have to sign in to FB). Or you can pay by card or your own Paypal account using the PP button below (you don't need an account to do this though). You can change the quantity of tickets on the secure web form:


Select event:


18 June 2015

Wine Education Service NI summer and autumn events

First of all, a reminder about the next evening tasting at beginning of July in Belfast:

North & South American wines tutored tasting
Thursday 2 July 7-9 pm - £27.50
"A whirlwind mini-tour across the American continent, northern and southern hemisphere, taking in 6 to 8 wines (depending on numbers) from the US, Canada (maybe), Chile, Argentina and any surprises from South America I can lay my hands on!"

26 May 2015

English sparkling wine update

Upperton Vineyard: Andy Rogers surveys the lie of his land

To celebrate English Wine Week (goes to their website) this week, I've (finally) updated my now 20-page ("and counting") mini-guide to English sparkling wines. This includes profiles of 15 exciting English wine estates, vineyards, wineries and brands and notes on their 'Champagne method' fizz ranges. Featuring (three new entries) Upperton, Brightwell and Hattingley Valley, as well as updates on Digby, Henners, Hush Heath, Jenkyn Place, Danebury, Gusbourne, Chapel Down, Bolney, Bluebell, Ridgeview, Knightor and Furleigh. Plus a few facts, figures and thoughts on where the English (and Welsh) wine industry is at with the latest on vintage 2014 etc. Available as a PDF mini-mag with pics - buy it by card or your own Paypal account (although you don't need one to do this or subscribe) by clicking HEREClick here to read more about using PayPal, general T&C, your privacy etc.

English Wine Week and wine guide June 2016: the latest version of this guide...
As well as the sparkling wineries above, for the first time I've broadened the reach to take in still whites, rosés and reds (the focus had previously been just on 'traditional method' sparklers). Buy the guide for just £2 or equivalent in your own currency.


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Click HERE for more about card payments, your privacy and terms and conditions. I will email the PDF supplement to you once I receive payment confirmation from PayPal. Enjoy.

10 May 2015

Spain: more "wines of the moment"

Ten worth-sipping Spanish wines that have washed over my palate in recent weeks, just to add a little hola to your mood and liquid to your tortilla...

Okhre Natur Cava Brut Nature organic (12% abv: Xarel.lo, Macabeu, Parellada) - Penedès, Catalonia. One of those nice 'n' dry "unsweetened" Cavas (unlike 'Brut' fizz in general whether Cava, Champagne, Prosecco, Sekt or from New Zealand, where a dosage is added containing some sugar after the yeast deposit is removed) with tasty almost savoury yeasty biscuit vs appley profile, oily and nutty vs crisp and refreshing. Unfortunately, it's now "out of stock" according to Marks & Spencer's site - hopefully not permanently - but cost £8.25 when I bought it for a Spanish-themed wine tasting.
Albariño Adegas Gran Vinum 2013 (12.5% abv) - Rías Baixas, Galicia: £8 Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' or Signature Albariño 2013: £6 Asda. Two similar and characterful dry whites from the same area of cooler northwestern Spain, which remind you a bit of (ripe) Riesling with aromatic and oily notes then peachier fruit yet with refreshing bite too. The bright blue labelled Asda one comes with a screwcap and perhaps has the edge on the JS one, which makes it a good buy for the money.
Simply Garnacha Rosé 2014 Bodegas Borsao (13.5% abv) - Campo de Borja, Aragón. Talking of good buys, for what could be called a "cheap" rosé - £4.69 at Tesco - this delicious simple dry and full-bodied rosado is pretty classic in style, with lots of floral and ripe red fruits and creamy vs crisp mouth-feel. Too easy to quaff considering the alcohol content: crying out for some tasty Serrano ham.
Tapa Roja Old Vines Monastrell 2013 Bodegas del Mediterraneo (14.5% abv) – Yecla, Murcia. Brimming with Med flavour, this unoaked full-on red has lots of ripe liquorice vs earthy dark fruit with shades of black olive too, a little grip on the palate but mostly soft and tasty now. £9 Marks & Spencer
Noster Nobilis 2010 La Perla del Priorat, Catalonia (14.5% abv: Garnatxa (Garnacha), Samsó (Carignan), Cabernet sauvignon). This is a fair bargain for £7.98 at Asda, considering many Priorat reds are expensive; lovely mix of savoury maturing fruit, sweet cherry, still structured tannins and smooth lingering finish, background oak adding a little texture too.
Tempranillo Reserva 2009 Pagos del Rey (14% abv) – Ribera del Duero, Castilla y León. Another well-priced example of an often dear red from northern central Spain - £8.99 Tesco 'Finest' label - this was attractive and warming, seemed older than its year's seniority over the Priorat, colour and development wise, more obvious oak perhaps but has some nice smooth savoury fruit. Drink now.
Caudum Selección Especial 2009 Bodegas Larraz - Rioja (14% abv: old vine Tempranillo). I've tasted this seductive red a couple of times before (goes to Larraz winery profile), and it's developing very nicely: rich, extracted, concentrated and structured with light coconut oak on nose and palate; lush, dark and spicy though and still has a hint of freshness and youth about it. Quite serious and classy Rioja. €15 in Spain; Zefino Wines in England might be shipping some in the future I'm told.
Bodegas Muriel Rioja Reserva 2010 (13% abv: Tempranillo, 36 months in total barrel and bottle before release). Something of a regular Co-op favourite, which is £6.99 on offer at the moment, this is relatively light but pretty classic Reserva Rioja style from this reliable winery: oaky and smooth with smoky vs sweet berry fruit and alluring meaty/cheesy maturing tones beginning to show through.
Apostoles Palo Cortado Viejo Aged 30 Years, Gonzalez Byass (20% abv: Palomino, Pedro Ximénez) – Jerez, Andalucía. Quirky complex full-flavoured matured sherry, which is difficult to "categorise" in that (I think) it's a blend of aged Fino/Amontillado (therefore dry) and a splash of wine made from sun-dried 'PX' grapes adding a hint of sweetness, although it tastes reasonably dry and dark roast nutty with tangy lingering flavours... A one-off really, best tried with mature cheeses or pecan pie?! £19-£21 for 37.5cl bottle: selected Tesco stores, TheDrinkShop.com; €23.49 from O'Briens in Ireland.

12 March 2015

WES Belfast update: wine tastings, courses and workshops

RMJ snorting Chardonnay @ the Ramada Encore.
LAST FEW PLACES'New Spain' tasting
Thursday 26 March 7 to 9 pm - £27.50
"We'll taste and talk about classic reds from, for example, Rioja and Ribeira del Duero and also venture into lesser-known territory like (real) Sherry country, Galicia for whites and Catalonia, including some very good Cava no doubt!"

04 March 2015

Slovenia: wine & travel

Church on Lake Bled
"Slovenia isn't a large country, to state the obvious perhaps, and is one the most forested and mountainous states in Europe (relative to surface area), so not surprisingly there are only about 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) of vines planted. Wine production is dominated by three-quarters of whites reflecting the country's geography, location and climate; and most of the often steep hillside vineyards lie on or close to its borders with four surrounding winemaking nations: Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, Italy to the west and Croatia to the south, roughly speaking. Logically then, many of Slovenia's wineries are found not too far away from the country's handsome, friendly and very walkable capital city Ljubljana (watch your spelling!), which is found in the middle more or less. There's plenty of history and beautiful architecture and countryside just made for exploring elsewhere too, and I've included a few, slightly cliched perhaps (e.g. Lake Bled above) but nevertheless must-do sightseeing places to go to, contemplate and eat in..."
Featuring these wineries: Marof, Joannes Protner, Bajnof, Ščurek, Bregar, Reja, Peršolja, Hlebec, Černe, Marjan Simčič and Goriška Brda Cellar. Plus touring and eating tips from the awesomely impossible Predjama Castle and über-busy yet stunning Lake Bled, to serene historic Base 20 and charming Ljubljana old town...
I've created a special 13-page PDF supplement including this new feature on Slovenia with a few of my photos, plus a previous wine and travel report on Croatia which is also stored here. Buy the PDF report emailed to you for just £1.99 with a debit/credit card or your own Paypal account (but you don't need one). Click on the 'does what it says' button (select it in the drop-down menu):


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06 February 2015

WES NI latest: wine tastings, courses and workshops in Belfast

'Classic Grape Varieties' tasting Thursday 26 February - now sold out!

'New Spain' tutored tasting - Thursday 26 March 7 to 9 pm - £27.50
"We'll taste and talk about classic reds from, for example, Rioja and Ribeira del Duero and also venture into lesser-known territory like (real) Sherry country, Galicia for whites and Catalonia, including some very good Cava no doubt!"

24 December 2014

Spain: "wines of the mo"

Simply Garnacha Rosado Borsao (13.5% abv) - very reliable and fairly classic style of full-bodied dry Spanish rosé made by Bodegas Borsao in the Campo de Borja region in Aragón. Great value too: £4.69 Tesco.
Mas Miralda Cava Brut Vintage 2011 (11.5% abv) - another reliable favourite fizz with attractive mix of refreshingly frothy and light underlined by subtle yeasty / biscuity flavours, off-dry and easy-going. Asda £6
Finca Manzanos 'Coleccion Privada' 2005 Reserva Rioja (13.5% abv) - lovely mature Rioja style - although still on fine form for its age - with smoky sweet vs savoury fruit, maturing 'cheesy' notes and silky mouth-feel. M & S £13.99 - looks like the 05 is gone, although the current 2007 vintage on their site should be good too.
Special Reserve Dry Oloroso Sherry, Barbadillo (Palomino fino, 19% abv) - classic slightly oddball dark and lush sherry yet dry and tangy with layers of complex roast nut flavours from mellow ageing. Bargain: Tesco £6 50cl.

17 December 2014

WES NI: Belfast wine tastings update

A couple of new dates have been added to next year's Wine Education Service NI calendar; and, as a reminder (they make great gifts too - we can send a voucher!), here's the complete list of scheduled events so far with an updated Paypal button at the bottom:

'Essential Wine Tasting' 5-week course
Wednesday evenings 28 January to 25 February 2015
£125 including course manual, all wines for tasting and tuition.
Booking and details of this course can be found by following the links on this page:
www.wine-education-service.co.uk/wine-tasting-belfast

Wines of France Saturday 'workshop'
January 31
£90 including two-course lunch and course manual.
On this "Tour de France" wine tasting workshop, we'll take you on a guided tour of France's different wine producing regions and taste about a dozen wines, including classics from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhone valley, Loire Valley, Alsace and examples from 'the big south' too: Languedoc, Roussillon or Provence.
We'll also talk a little about tasting wine, who makes these wines and how, and what happens in their vineyards and winery that gives them different regional characters (grape varieties, climate, terrain, winemaking); as well as discussing some of the ideas, traditional and modern, that have shaped the French wine world.

'Classic Grape Varieties' tutored tasting
February 26 (Thursday) 7:00 - 9:00 PM
£27.50
Tasting of selected wines made from some of the world's "classic" grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc for whites and Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Syrah / Shiraz for reds. We'll taste and talk about three or four pairs of wines, with each pair made from the same variety but coming from two different regions / countries, to compare how climate and winemaking can change the style; or is it the grape that shines through most?!

'New Spain' tutored tasting
March 26 (Thursday) 7:00 - 9:00 PM
£27.50
"We'll taste and talk about classic reds from, for example, Rioja and Ribera del Duero; and also venture into lesser-known territory like (real) Sherry country, Galicia for whites and Catalonia, including some very good Cava no doubt!"

The venue for these events is the Ramada Encore Hotel near St. Anne's Square in the heart of 'the Cathedral quarter', Belfast city centre.
Wine Education Service NI does not sell wine - our informal wine tastings and classes are designed to be purely educational and fun of course; we source high quality representative wine samples from a variety of different retailers.
More info and booking on the WES Belfast webpage HERE.
Or book by debit/credit card or using your Paypal account with the button below - you can change the quantity on the payment page that opens (more about payments HERE):



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16 August 2014

Portugal: Lisboa wine focus


"Stretching out to the north and west of energetic Lisbon, this big wine-producing region used to be called Estremadura... renaming it 'Lisboa' seems logical (captain) thereby closely associating location and identity with the Portuguese capital... The most common grape varieties planted here are, for reds, Aragonez or Aragonês aka Tinta Roriz (isn't that often the way just to add a little charismatic confusion, and the Spanish call it Tempranillo, Tinta Fina, Cencibel...), Touriga Nacional, Castelão and Touriga Franca, with expanding plantings of Syrah and other French varieties..."
Available as a special 20-page report with pics focusing on the exciting Lisboa wine region and featuring these ten wineries and my reviews of their ranges: Vale da Capucha - Quinta de São José, Sociedade Agricola Labrugeira – Vale das Areias, Quinta de Sant'Ana, Quinta do Monte d'Oiro, Quinta de Chocapalha, Marta Vine - Azulejo (Casa Santos Lima), Félix Rocha – Quinta da Ribeira, Quinta do Pinto, Companhia das Quintas - Quinta de Pancas.
Plus three extra winery profiles in different regions: Aliança Vinhos de Portugal - Bairrada, Dão. Douro Valley: Quinta do Portal (including a Vintage Port retrospective 1995 to 2000) and Quinta do Romeu (organic)...
And two bonus retro features: Niepoort Port 'masterclass' led by Dirk Niepoort including Garrafeira, Colheita and Vintage ports spanning a century back to 1912...
And my tasty Algarve and Tavira wine and food touring article...
All yours for a mere £1.99 - this special report is published in PDF format and emailed to you once I receive confirmation of payment from PayPal (pay by card or use your own PP account, although you don't need one to do so: select it in the drop-down menu).


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"Vasco da Gama Bridge and Tagus River, Lisbon" - Photo by Jose Manuel from www.imagesofportugal.com.

MORE ON PORTUGAL HERE.

13 December 2013

Spain: Cava guide

Cava mini-guide
"Creative Catalan bubbles..."

"I'm not going to over-bore you with the full-monty geographical or technical stuff, as the Cava region is quite vast and extends beyond Catalunya actually (but there is some of that in it, a hint of winemaking talk and fascinating export stats)... This gradually expanding wee guide, originally published in 2008 and updated a few times a year since, is more about bringing your attention to a few lesser-known sparkling gems and hopefully also encouraging you to explore beyond Barcelona and the region's nice beaches and coastal towns, out into real Cava country... head for those green hills!" Includes wines from these featured stand-out Cava wineries: Llopart, Carles Andreu, Perelada, Parxet, Raimat, Bach, Lavernoya, Mont Àrac, Blancher, Parató, Loxarel, Enric Nadal, Vallformosa, Chozas Carrascal and many many more...
Updated August 2015 - buy this mini-guide for just £3 - click here for more info and to buy it with Paypal...

'RED'

'Red is for wine, blood, revolution, colour... Time-warped slices of mystery, history, fantasy, crime, art, cinema and love...' Buy the e-book or paperback novel on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Click here to view the RED blog!

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.