Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Map Reading

L-R: Hugh, Michel Roux Jr
(chair) & Jancis
Last night, a friend and I went to a brilliant event in London that brought together two of the world's best wine writers, Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson. If you only ever buy one wine book in your life (once you've bought mine, of course *best smile*), make it their World Atlas of Wine. It's brilliant - and full of wine maps. Anyway, they were there to debate who makes the greatest wines, Bordeaux or Burgundy. "Wine is geography in a glass" said Jancis (arguing for Burgundy, a patchwork of small vineyards). "Bordeaux is wonderful with food" said Hugh. True dat, big flavours. We all had a glass of each in our hands to help us decide and once the drinking and debating was done, we cast our votes. I went for Burgundy, mostly because I usually prefer its lighter touch compared with Bordeaux. It cuddles rather than grips, IYKWIM. But that's the beauty of wine: so much choice. Lucky us.

Current white in the fridge: Roversi Pecorino 2013, £6 on offer (normally £8), Asda
The bottle is so lovely (gorgeous label, grand-looking bottle) that I thought it might be a case of style over substance. But happily, I was wrong. The wine inside is properly Pecorino-y with lots of crisp, lemony fruit. From the Italian region of Abruzzo in Central Italy, it's a joy. In fact, happiness in a glass. A treat with a handful of pre-dinner salty crisps. 

Current red in the rack: Rosso di Puglia 2013, £7, M&S
A fruity number from Puglia, the heel of Italy. It's a heady mix of two different grape varieties, the spicy Primitivo (also known as Zinfandel) and the densely coloured, earthy-tasting Negroamaro. Together, they make a punchy pair: full bodied, ripe and just a 'lil bit rustic. Like the wine above, it's another Italian job well done. Great mid-week red. Just add sausages. 

Chin chin x

Ps. there's a new video up over on my YouTube channel about how long you can keep a wine once opened. Hope you like.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Not Tonight, Darling

I'm supposed to be in the cinema as I type this, watching Fifty Shades of Grey with friends (I live in the sticks, it took a while to get here). But I just didn't have the energy: too tired. Oh, the irony! In my defence, I was out last night - Book Club - and I can't do two late nights in a row anymore. Definitely not on a school night, anyway. I'll go straight to wine.

Current sparkling in the fridge: Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco, £6.99 on offer (normally £9.99), Tesco
I bought a bottle of this for Mothering Sunday (had both my mum and mother-in-law here for lunch) and we managed to quaff a bottle well before the gammon hit the table. And it was as good as it has ever been: fresh, frothy, full of pears and promise. A brilliant pre-proper-food drink. The producer behind this wine is really good - taste a line up of Prosecco (all in a day's work - I know!) and it really does stand out as one of the best. A steal at this price. 

Current red in the rack: Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2013, £11.24 on offer (normally £14.99), Waitrose
Gorgeous Pinot Noir from the Martinborough region in New Zealand, at the bottom of the North Island. The Marlborough region might be more famous thanks to all that zingy Sauvignon Blanc but Martinborough is doing its quietly brilliant thing, especially with the Pinot Noir grape. The chap who made this wine, Larry McKenna, takes Burgundy as his inspiration. But this is richer, riper and definitely better value than most similarly priced red Burgundies around at the moment. Just add roast lamb. 

Chin chin x

Ps. I've got a couple of tickets for the Ideal Home Show to give away (I'll be there next Thursday, wine in hand). If you fancy coming, pop your name on the blog or facebook page in the comments by this Friday (20th March 2015) and we'll settle this in the usual way, picking a name at random.

1. Competition closes on Friday 20th March 2015 at 11.59pm.
2. The prize draw is open to any UK resident over the age of 18.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

All Stars

Last Friday, I went to the Bath Literary Festival and my session was at 7.30pm. Turned out so was Kazuo Ishiguro's, in the room next door. He might have won the Booker Prize but I had free wine (very kindly donated by wine merchant Averys of Bristol - thank you, Mimi). And afterwards, as I signed books, I met this lovely lot.

Since coming to last year's Knackered Mother's Wine Club tasting at Camp Bestival, Claire (second from left) decided to form her own KMWC with a group of friends. They now meet once a month to chat over wine - and always bring something different to try. It was so brilliant to meet them and reminded me just why I set out to write the book in the first place. Wine brings us together, makes us sit down (I especially like that part) and converse. It connects us with places, stories and best of all, with each other. I'll drink to that.

Current white in the fridge: Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi 2013, £5 on offer (normally £8), Asda
From the Marche region in central Italy, Verdicchio is the grape and in this case it comes from vineyards around the town of - you've guessed it - Jesi. As with so many good Italian whites, it's crisp, fresh, a little bit floral (honeysuckle, for me) and not at all in-your-face. Rather, it's like good background music: you notice it, but you can do other things whilst enjoying it. Like talking. And eating. Bowl of salted almonds for me with this one. 

Current red in the rack: Territorio Malbec 2013, £7.49, Tesco
Argentina is huge in wine terms, both in how much it produces (answer: loads) and in the styles of wines it makes. And Malbec, its most famous wine export, is nothing if not a shouty wine. This one comes from the Salta region up in the north of the country and the vineyards are among the highest in the world. And the altitude seems to give the wine amazing intensity and (the bit I really love) freshness. Think plums, blackberries and spice with a whacking great hug of alcohol (it's 14%). Gaw-gus. 

Chin chin x

ps - I've added some new videos to my YouTube channel on stuff like vintages, varieties, hangovers and decanting. Hope you like, let me know!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Hot Dates!

Well, hopefully nicely chilled for whites and room temperature for reds because we're talking wine dates, and lots of them. I'm going to be out and about a bit this month and I wanted to let you know just in case you're nearby and up for joining me for a glass of wine. This Friday I'm back at the Bath Literature Festival for a wine tasting at 7.30pm (details here). Next week I'll be at the English winery Denbies for more wine tasting (details here) and at the weekend I'm running wine workshops at Max McMurdo & Brancott Estate wines' up-cycling event The Great Home Hack in London (book tickets here). Later on this month I'll be at the Ideal Home Show (details here) and hope to have a couple of tickets to give away before then. In the meantime, I've made some more (hopefully useful) videos for my YouTube channel. Let me know if you've got any questions for future videos - and if you fancy seeing my 'Thank Friday It's Wine' wine each week (a little wine top up, if you like), subscribe and you'll make me do a little dance.

Current white in the fridge: Tupungato Chardonnay 2013, £4.75 on offer, M&S
OK, so this is out of stock on the website, but if you see it on shelf in your nearest M&S then take the lot because the price is ridiculously low. It's from a really good (and relatively cool, given the high altitude) region in Argentina - Tupungato - and made by one of the best producers, Catena. The result is a gorgeous glass of peaches and cream, with just the right amount of freshness. Seriously delicious and one to try if you like your Chardonnay with curves. 

Current sherry on the side: Amontillado Medium Dry Sherry, £6.99 for 1L, Morrisons
Last Friday, I stopped by an old friend's house and, it being past six o'clock, I was offered a small glass of sherry rather than a cup of tea. How lovely! And an Amontillado too, darker than Fino but not as dark as Oloroso. This one's made by Lustau no less, a tip-top Sherry maker. With a touch of sweetness, think hazelnuts and figs in liquid form. Absolutely delicious served cool (but not chilled) in small measures, enough to catch up on vital gossip news. Bowl of nuts a must. 

Chin chin x