Chapters include an in-depth history of the industry, from pre-Roman Britain to the present day, charting the progress from the birth of the modern commercial wine industry post-war, and more latterly the surge of growth in the last decade. There is also a critical look into the crystal ball at the future of the industry and tackles the topical subject of the effects climate change on the UK's viticulture.
Viticulture, vinification and grape varieties are also covered in detail. The definitive list of almost all vineyards in England, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands provides the most comprehensive record available - extensively researched and featuring useful information on each. Additional lists identifying the organic and biodynamic vineyards, vineyards of 4 hectares and above and a breakdown of vineyards by country and size are also included, along with chapters recording the competition successes over the years and useful contacts relevant to the industry.
This book provides an essential reference book to all aspects of UK wines and their producers. Priced at £22.95 + postage and packing the UK VIneyards Guide 2010 is only available from www.lulu.com Reference: 7848482 or www.englishwine.com
It's all too easy to laugh off the effects of alcohol and forget that drink can put young people in vulnerable situations.
Recognising that alcohol is a serious issue and talking about the good and the bad sides can help young people stay safe, confident and responsible as they grow as teenagers.
Comedy legend Bill Bailey discusses his involvement with the Alcohol. It's no Joke campaign and shares his experiences of booze as a teenager. Bill talks about related dangers such as drugs, unprotected sex or becoming a victim of anti social behaviour.
The aim of this film is to show that alcohol can make young people vulnerable. Although parents worry about unprotected sex, drugs and crime, drinking alcohol is often not top of the list. Alcohol can be the thing which leaves young people vulnerable and in situations they might not know how to deal with.
This film is the one of a series featuring other comedians including Jo Brand, Russell Kane and Josie Long and is part of the build-up to a big campaign launch in mid-January.
In addition there is a 'behind the scenes' making off video:
There is so much info - ratings on wines of the year, regional maps, grape variety details, wine shops (in South Africa), styles and vintages, wine tour companies, wine-focused restaurants, wine land accommodation - that the guide to deciphering the listings doesn't appear till page 134!
Symbols for domain bottling, open for tastings, accommodation, other tourist attractions, picnic areas and disabled access ply for your attention with others showing if the wine is screwcapped, good value, organic and so on.
Take the Journey's End wines reviewed yesterday; the level of data supplied is frightening. Platter's Guide tells you that tastings are available by appointment, that the owner is the Gabb family, that the wine maker is Leon Esterhuizen (since January 2005), that the vineyard manager is Paul Fourie (since January 2008), that the estate has 30 hectares under vine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc), that 80% of production is red wine... exhausting...
But for anyone interested in touring the South African wine lands totally invaluable.
The guide gives the Journey's End range high marks:
The Merlot four Stars "Mint & eucalyptus dominate green, herbal notes on 06; drier, tighter & less textured than savoury, elegant 05. 18mths oak, 30% new"
Chardonnay four stars plus "Smoky & earthy, subtle citrus highlights; richness from 9 months brl/lees-ageing lifted by zesty acidity, salty tail. 07 (four stars) similar to generous 06, perhaps less elegant; also natural ferm."
Cabernet Sauvignon 3 stars Pepper & pimento on shy-fruited 05, with restrained tannins. Shiraz 2 stars plus Gamey forest floor aromas on muscular 05. Haystack chardonnay 3 stars plus Smoky toffee & pineapple aromas, 08 neat & compact, fresh and persistent, new-oak element well judged.
"Platter's Wine Guide, South Africa's leading wine annual and one of its best-selling book titles, turns 30 in November this year with the unveiling of the 2010 edition. To mark this significant milestone, we're taking the guide's traditional strengths - credibility, breadth of coverage, readability, ease of use - and combining these with fully revised, up-to-the-minute content designed to appeal to everyone, from the novice wine drinker to the connoisseur."
John Platter's Wine Guide is not available via amazon, but you can purchase direct from South Africa via the John Platter Wine Guide website. Price is $13.28 / €8.85 excluding shipping.
"Journey's End Estate is a stunning boutique winery and vineyard located in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. In 1995 the Gabb family (originally from Shropshire - Roger Gabb was previously the founder and MD of Western Wines) purchased this picturesque farm and the surrounding 20ha of vines. Their aim is to create top-quality single-vineyard, hand-crafted wines that are true to the terroir of the vineyards, whilst ensuring the local environment and nature are protected and preserved. The estate benefits from south-facing slopes and cool coastal breezes."
The Journey's End wine range is available from the various merchants as listed but are also available direct from Journeys-End-Wine.co.uk.
This was served with a couple of slices of warm Cheddar and Walnut and Sausage Rolls and a spoonful of macerated grapes. A nice little match although go easy with the grapes as the sweetness is a little overpowering. The sausage meat - from Porkinson Suffolk Ale and Herb Bangers - helped that earthy edge to become more expressive and forceful; nice indeed. The Sausage Roll recipe, by Tristan Welch of London's Launceston Place restaurant, is in the February 2010 issue of Delicious.
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]
The powerful, ripe black fruit in this wine is lush and fleshy on both the nose and palate, with lots of cassis backed by dark chocolate. Eucalyptus, green pepper, herbal spice and underlying mintyness come through on the palate backed by sweet almonds. This is a voluptuously rich wine but it is not over jammy and the mid-acidity brightens the fruit and gives length to the wine. It has lots of ageing potential.
Andrew BarrowScribblings Rating - 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]
The Journey's End range continues with a Chardonnay (£12.99), another Chard labelled "Haystack" (£9.99) (neither of which, to be honest, I took to) and a 'yet-to-be-broached' Cape Doctor Shiraz 2005 that comes with a £16.99 price tag.
Ranging from Jool's Favourite Beef Stew through to Meatballs and Pasta each recipe is lifted from an existing Jamie Oliver book - sadly no original recipes (at least in this batch). Each recipe is linked to one of the wines in the mix, a couple of which I've tried since the case arrived:
Jool's Favourite Beef Stew* matched with La Croix du Chêne, Costières de Nîmes, 2007 [Adegga / Snooth]
With an aversion to parsnips (evil little blighters that they are) the Scribblers version of this hearty stew also lacked fresh sage. Waitrose let me down on that score! But after two hours in the oven, considerably less time than the stated 3-4 hours cooking, the dish emerged in all its bubbling glory. Cold weather needs such substantial dishes and the wine, in typical Naked Wines soft, drinkable-ness went fine with it. It didn't really 'shine' though. Would a lack of sage really make much of a difference or is the wine simply 'ok' rather than a value-packed stunner I was hoping for?
English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar*** with Nomada Rustica Sauvignon Blanc
Scrummy Warm Rocket Salad**** matched with Raats Parrot Valley Chenin Blanc, 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa [Adgga / Snooth]
A very versatile food wine; not sampled with this pinenut/bacon/rocket based salad but was near perfect with roast pork complete with excellent crackling (if I say so myself, a triumph) and a homemade apple sauce served in freshly baked rolls for a boxing day lunch. The wines hint of sweetness and inherent lemon-apple-pear flavours and a streak of cleansing acidity made for a superb match. Got to try it with this salad next!
Hamilton Squash **** with Canepa Novisimo Chardonnay 2008, Chile [Adegga / Snooth]
The wine is in the fridge as I type, for this vegetarian dish is planned for tonight. "This warming veggie dish will develop lovely smoky flavours in the oven, so a lightly oaked Chardonnay will match perfectly"
Wild Mushroom and Venison Stroganoff** matched with Foley's Corner Reserve Shiraz, 2008, Australia
Spicy Pork and Chilli-Pepper Goulash** with Mistral Merlot 2008, Chile
Meatballs and Pasta** recommended with Milani Nero d'Avola Sicily 2008, Italy
Was maximum fun making the meatballs, getting your hands deep and dirty squishing the ingredients together and rolling the mix into balls is really what 'cooking' is all about. The simple tomato sauce matches nicely with the soft tartness of the wine. There's a kick of tannin and acidity to meld all the juicy, rich fruit together into a rustic-edged wine.
* Recipe from Jamie's Dinners
*** Recipe From Jamie at Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life
**** Recipe from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
A copy of his latest book - Oz Clarke 250 Best Wines 2010 arrived yesterday. It's of stocking filler size and price (£6.99, although Amazon have it at just £4.23) with 190 odd pages listing, as the name suggests, 250 selected wines.
Oz's independent, enthusiastic and reliable recommendations will help you find the wines you want at the prices you want to pay. He has tasted thousands of wines to select his top 250 wines for 2010 and describes his choices with his trademark wisdom and wit.
Here are Oz's top 50 wines, 100 wines for around a tenner, cheap and cheerful wines from around £4, festive fizz from Champagne to Proscecco and Cava, Sweet wines, sherry and port and many more favourites.
Oz Clarke 250 Best Wines is the must-have shopping guide to make wine buying hassle-free. The book includes a handy guide to finding the flavours you want, advice on storing, serving and tasting and the directory to the best places to buy wine in the UK, from regional fine wine merchants to supermarkets and high street chains."
The guide includes full details of where to buy, exactly what such a guide requires. A flick through shows a preponderance of Marks& Spencers (which is great as they have a fine range, just wish they would open a branch near me!) but many of those dynamic, smaller independent merchants also get a showing; companies such as From Vineyards Direct, Big Red Wine Company, Vin du Van and Bat and Bottle.
Each wine has a typical Oz style note. Take his description of the 2007 Fié Gris Vin de Pays du Val de Loire from Domaine de l'Aujardiè (Lea and Sandeman £13.95 in the guide, £14.95 online)
"The wine sent me into a reverie - sappy, fresh-turned earth in a springtime farmer's field, the smell of sunrise, the smell of dew, the smell of mist lingering in the eaves of cottages clinging damply to the hillside. Old crab apples, kicked about the lanes by muddy boys, then harvested and stewed, the mud and the raw fruit finally finding some vestige of sweetness. Sap, twigs, bent not broken. Moist bark, fresh, green and then here's a stem with that grey-green mould you find in dark, wet woods..."
I don't care what you think of his writing style; I just have to try that wine!
Oz Clarke's 250 Best Wines, 2010 Wine Buying Guide is available from Amazon.co.uk for £4.23.
The four course set menu comprised the following:
Cold Partridge Salad In Marinade matched with the delicate, rose and strawberry hinting Vinha da Defesa Rosé 2008. A 13.5% mix of Aragonês and Syrah vinificated with the "Blanc Noir" method. [Adegga / Snooth]
A delectable Dogfish Soup - they are big on soup in Portugal - with the crisp, peachy, waxy, grapefruit acidity, lightly oaked Esporão Reserve White (a blend of Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro with 14% alcohol) [Adegga / Snooth]
Loin of Wild Boar with Plum Sauce matched with the delicious Esporão Reserve Red 2007. A blend of Aragonês, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet with 14.5% alcohol. [Adegga / Snooth] A complex palate that cries out for a juicy meat dish such as this Wild Boar.
And for a dessert a Boiled Pear in Private Selection White Wine matched with a late harvest Semillon simply labeled as Late Harvest 2008. [Adegga / Snooth] A lovely wine offering hints of orange, peach and other fruits but nulled a little by the ice-cream served with the pear.
A charming selection of wines from an interesting, large, estate. Shame the wines do not seem to be available in the UK! Post lunch I annoyingly missed out on buying a bottle of the estates olive oil too...
You can understand why a wine-producer wants to show off the cleanliness of their winery, the mammoth financial investment in these fermentation tanks, but really they are the dullest things to make appropriate appreciative noises over. You know what... unless you specifically ask not one winery takes you out into the vineyard. I'd much rather compare the soils of the vineyards, the canopy/pruning/ground cover techniques and so on than look at another bloody stainless steel tank. (Although sometimes....)
I have to say that the various producers in Alsace - where I specifically asked to view the vines - were more than accommodating. To a man, Domaine Bernhard-Reibel, Domaine Frederic Mochel, Andre Pfister and the intense Marc Kreydenweiss were more than proud to tramp through their holdings.
Sadly, not so in Portugal. None of the producers we visited during the European Wine Bloggers Conference took us out to the vines; perhaps I wasn't vocal enough prior to the visit!
Stainless Steel Tanks: integral to the moden winemaking process but as dull as a really dull, dull thing to look at more than once...
These lovely specimens are at Herdade do Esporao, they do make for fine 'industrial' style abstract photographs I suppose. And they do make very nice wines there...
We visit the grass routes of Douwe Egberts coffee story, the beautiful coffee farms of Colombia. The final of the three films fittingly takes us back to where it all begins and introduces us to the passionate farming families who grow the finest beans, generation after generation. Narrated by James Nesbitt, we really hope you'll enjoy this and the other films in the series!
The competition as detailed in the previous Douwe Egberts post needs a question! What we need to know is "What is your favourite coffee based dish"? Closing date for entries (either emailed in or left as a comment) is December 25th.
What would YOU do naked for a year's free supply of wine?
"We wanted to have a bit of fun to celebrate the end of a fantastic first year," explained Rowan Gormley, Founder of Naked Wines. "And do something that gets our customers' imagination going."
"So... for any willing customer, follower or fan, what would you be prepared to do in the buff to win a year's free supply of wine? And to be clear, you have to be prepared to put your money where your mouth is as we will be asking for photographic evidence before we send the prize!"
To help get your creative juices flowing and to see what you're up against, a few suggestions so far include stripping off and:
"So if you think you can out-strip any of these, we'd love to hear from you!"
Terms and conditions and decency rules apply, Naked Wines' decision is final!
As with all things Internet there is a steady stream of 'things' happening from Bibendum - wine maker lunches (which I annoyingly seldom seem to be able to attend), tastings and so on. Just this week Bibendum-Times has been launched.
Bibendum Times started as a small idea for our Annual Tasting concept and has grown into something completely unique in the world of wine events and communities. We are building on our ground-breaking social media strategy over the last 12 months to create an on-line hub for anyone passionate about wine, food, travel, news and social media. It will engage wine trade, press and consumers in so many different ways that we believe it the first of its kind...anywhere!
Of course the tasting is still the focus and we can't wait to share that particular experience with you on the 20th January 2010. It features over 1000 brilliant bottles from a range of about 200 different winemakers, all there to share their passion with you on the day. But as ever, it's more than just a tasting; it's a chance to join all of us at Bibendum for our huge celebration of all things wine.
The Bibendum Times is a website like no other and is here to stay, long after the Annual Tasting dust has settled. It's a community where all wine lovers can air their views, post their pictures and videos, and interact with Bibendum, wineries and other like-minded people. The website is brimming with reader stories and ideas and will spread the good message using social networking tools. Look out for a real sommelier slant as well as we try to engage this key audience more than ever before.
You can find the website at www.bibendum-times.co.uk.
One of the most important features of the website is that it both pulls in information, from readers and bloggers, and also pushes it out through Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook and LinkedIn.
This push and pull technology allows content to be published and shared in real-time and in a single viewable place. It also means everyone can interact and get involved with the website whether or not they are a member of the likes of Facebook, Flickr, Twitter. In this way, Bibendum Times can reach out to everyone, wherever they are and whatever they do online.
As we build up to the big day expect activity on the website and at the venue to go into overdrive. Those at the venue will be able to interact with each other in completely different ways. Post a video tasting note, ask Bibendum a question on Twitter, submit your tasting photos in real time or vote in the one of the polls. On top of that, wine lovers who couldn't make it will be able to follow the tasting like never before using the Homepage livestream, which relays all th e various activities as and when they happen."
Most of the Bibendum tastings are trade tastings (i.e. not open to the general public). With so many people enfolded by Bibendum-love the opportunity for food bloggers (who outnumber the wine bloggers greatly) to write their impressions (in a food-focused, less wine-geeky voice) and those in the trade without a blog is a great way to enhance the UK's wine-web offering. It is also a magnanimous step by Bibendum as they do seem happy to accept contributions not necessarily connected to the wines they list. If I had some spare time, what would I contribute?
The idea is to provide a list of "those under-the-radar, superb wine bargains that taste as if they should cost two or three times the price but don't" All the wines are given an indication of price be it £ (£5-£9), ££ (£10-£13) or £££ (£14-£20).
The guide offers more than 1,500 wine producers and abbreviated tasting notes for more than 3,000 wines.
Not that the vast majority of UK wine drinkers will know who Robert Parker is, the notes are I assumed lifted from the Wine Advocate. Take Marc Kreydenweiss (whose estate I toured this year and thoroughly enjoyed his organic wines) who receives one recommendation for his Pinot Blanc Kritt :
"Organic pioneer Kreydenweiss's blend of Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois suggests pear cider and honeysuckle. Rich, often strikingly creamy, it finishes lusciously but without a hint of sweetness"
These notes are not vintage specific, which I think diminishes the power of each recommendation. Generalisation may be fine for where vintage conditions give little variation on the contents of each bottle (think New World) but this really doesn't work for Europe where vintage variations are so often apparent. With a vintage guide on the back pages vintages are obviously important to the authors so I fail to see how notes lacking vintage specifics are useful.
Where can a consumer acquire these wines from? This being an American publication (with the dollar references transposed to sterling) the chapters covering California, Oregon and Washington state list a great many wines that are simply not available in the UK, lowering the guides value considerably. But then where would one go to grab a bottle of Tselepos Moschofilero from Mantinia in Greece or Clos Teddi Patrimonio from Corsica? (The internet obviously and the likes of Snooth and Adegga!)
There is a lack of consistency in the country descriptions too, no doubt down to which of the six contributors penned the piece. New Zealand receives a breakdown by main region listing acres under vine, average annual production, and soil types. All very geeky - and which none of the other country listings provide - but no analysis of how these conditions influence the flavours of the wines. How does a wine buyer looking for a Sunday roast splash-out bottle benefit from knowing that Waipara is principally "chalk loam, rich in limestone"?
Who exactly is this American-penned wine guide aimed at?
Robert Parker's Great Value Wines: Seriously Good Wine at Remarkably Fair Prices is published by Dorling Kindersley for £13.99. Amazon are currently listing the guide at £7.78.
As mentioned with the first video this is the second in a series of 3 short films that charts the fascinating story of coffee. This one shows the breakthrough that truly made coffee instant and global - the filter. We also meet Etienne, the passionate tasting master behind the last 3 decades of Douwe Egberts blends. The video series are linked to two competitions:
1) Douwe Egberts MAIN competition:
The Netherlands is where it all started for Douwe Egberts, some 250 years ago, and we've been following the fascinating stories behind coffee ever since. We love hearing about your ideal endings to the coffee story - the kind of special coffee moments that you look forward to enjoying, week after week. In return for sharing, we're inviting one lucky winner and their friend to experience where it all began. You'll enjoy 3 nights of 4* accommodation, flights and transfers, £100 spending money and a whole host of Amsterdam's cultural and culinary delights.
The winner will be selected as the most original and humorous entry. Closing date is midnight, December 31st 2009.
2) Hamper Giveaway provided by Douwe Egberts
Douwe Egberts are sponsoring this competition for the UK readers of my Spittoon - basically giving away a Christmas hamper (6x Etienne Products, Cafetiere, 2x Mugs,1x Thermos Travel Mug1x Douwe Egberts storage tin) to the value of £45.00. The competition relates to the three Douwe Egberts videos being posted with the question being detailed along with the third video. Closing Date for this one will be December 5th 2009
And if you tweet at all you might like to add ouwe Egberts to your list of followers: http://twitter.com/EtienneBlends
The European Wine Bloggers excursion into the Alentejo was an excellent experience. The first stop was at Quinta do Mouro with the highly entertaining wine maker/owner Miguel Mouro. A highly entertaining chap, like many in the wine world, a 'character' who took us through his wine range with anecdote and aplomb... and it is here the apology/confession rears.
The previous night was a long one; wine during the conference, beer and rum during the evening after. And just 3 hours sleep. So the palate just wasn't functioning. I took no notes either and didn't tweet anything. Feeling very guilty.
One thing I did pick up during the multi-language discourse was that Quinta do Mouro has (the only?) plantings of the centurion grape in Portugal (centurion being a cross of cabernet and carignan). I recall a slurp or two and a play at blending with Touriga Nacional and Cabernet...
All I could manage was to take a few pictures...