Thursday, 1 October 2015

Read All About It

So, this time last week I'd just filed a story for the paper. It was a bit of a deviation for me because it wasn't about wine. Rather, it was about how I met my husband. And though I realised a fair few people would read it, nothing prepared me for the response to the piece. Aside from completely freaking my sister out (I hadn't realised she'd be waking up to my face plastered on the front page of the paper's online home page - she thought she was hallucinating), my phone and facebook page melted with messages. From the school run to the queue in the supermarket; even the postman had read it. TV and radio stations called all morning asking if I'd go on air to talk about it. Strangers emailed to say how much they'd enjoyed reading it. Of course there were some less than kind comments below the piece online (my sister read out some of her favourites to me) but most of them were gorgeous. Turns out everyone loves a love story. Well, almost everyone.

Current white in the fridge: Zalze Bush Vine Chenin Blanc 2014, £5.99 on offer (normally £8.29), Waitrose
Chenin Blanc is a real multi-tasker as grapes go, making wines from the very dry to the gloriously sweet. But in South Africa, where it's become their most famous white grape, it's mostly dry. And fruity - like sniffing lemons, with added pineapple when you taste it.  A glass of this with my mum earlier this evening (just back from a three-week holiday staying with her sister in the States) helped us over the midweek hump that is Wednesday. Gotta love that. 

Current red on the side: Tesco Finest Cotes du Rhone 2014, £5.49 on offer (normally £6.99), Tesco
We're running something of a blackberry jam factory here at the moment: the bramble bushes lining the lane to our house are heaving with fruit. And honestly, stick your nose in a glass of this gorgeous Rhone red made from Syrah and Grenache grapes and you get pretty much the same thing - a massive hit of bramble fruits. But with added alcohol. Even better. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


So, the 'news' that Victoria Beckham was spotted leaving a London Fashion Week party with a suspicious wet patch on her trousers was dismissed with a simple '4 kids 50 cocktails no brainer' text from my sister. (We do discuss other more serious issues on occasion. Mostly stuff like this, though). And we sympathised because we've been there. Not with a pack of paps outside and David Beckham on our arm, obviously. But my sister and I like to think that she did, literally, piss herself laughing. In which case, totally worth it. My mother has a brilliant story about doing just that. Years ago, in the South of France, whilst wearing a turquoise jumpsuit - but that's hers to tell. Guest post?

Current white in the fridge: Most Wanted Albarino 2014, £7.99, Co-op
This new range of self-proclaimed 'bull-free' wines includes a Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, along with a Malbec from Argentina. But this is my favourite, a lovely, lime-fruit flavoured crisp white from northwest Spain. Albarino is the grape, Rias Baixas is the region (pronounced ree-ass by-zhass). And if you like Sauvignon Blanc, imagine it with added peach and you go some way to knowing what this one tastes like. It's a simple take on the grape, but great value. 

Current red in the rack: Domaine de l'Estagnol 2014, £6.99, Lidl
As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Lidl has stuffed its shelves with some new wines from France. This one's from the Minervois region in southern France and is just the right side of rustic, with lots of bramble fruits, spice and grrrrip. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes, weighty in flavour but at 13% not too much of a sledgehammer. Lovely stuff, especially now there's a definite autumnal chill in the air. More please. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Morning Post

Normally, I write a weekly post for this blog fairly late at night. But given that I've now got an extra half hour in the mornings I never knew I had, I thought I'd write this one early. Fuelled by granola, obviously. Yes, my stocks of granola are like Willy Wonka's gobstoppers: never ending. Compared with some, though, this isn't early at all. I woke up to an email from a friend this morning, sent at 4.17am, blaming menopausal insomnia. All the fun! Perhaps I should send her some of my granola - I have plenty. Just one more thing to share this morning, a photo of Youngest Girl and Middle Boy selling cakes outside the village shop last weekend. They wanted to raise money for the refugees, they said, after talking about it at school. They raised nearly £20 and we paid it to Save The Children's Child Refugee Crisis Appeal here.

Current white in the fridge: Saint Veran 2014, £11, M&S
This is what Chardonnay looks like if you grow it on limestone soils, give it lots of - but not too much - sun and just a little touch of oak to finish it off. It's ripe and peachy, but subtle too. Basically, a really good way to enjoy a smart white burgundy without the usual price tag. Would go brilliantly with fish pie if I could be arsed to make one. Works with roast chicken just as well. Not granola, though (sadly). 

Current red on the side: Definition Cotes du Rhone 2014, £8.99 if you buy 2, Majestic
This is a new range from Majestic, two years in development apparently, which hopes to showcase definitive styles from different regions. There's six wines already in store, including Provence Rose, Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, Chablis, Prosecco and this one, with more to come. They're nicely packaged (if a bit self-conscious inasmuch as a wine label can be - I know you know what I mean). Majestic kindly sent me these to try, so I'll highlight the good ones. Staring with this: a juicy, bright, bramble fruit-flavoured red from the Rhone made from the usual cocktail of grapes. Simple, but delicious. 

Chin chin x

Thursday, 10 September 2015


"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast", said Alice. Or rather, Lewis Carroll did. Well, turns out I sort of know what he means, now that my alarm goes off at 6.15am in order to get Eldest Boy out of bed and ready to catch the bus to his new secondary school. But as much as the early starts are a shock to the system, I've discovered a whole half hour that I never knew existed. That is, between shooing Eldest Boy out of the door and waking up the other two for school. This means hot tea. It means a chance to read and answer a few emails. And it means a hot bath, with time to listen to the news/read my book/think* (after putting a wash on and emptying the dishwasher, obviously). I've even got time to eat a bowl of that flipping granola, which is lucky given that I got the quantities wrong and now have enough to keep us going until January.

Current white in the fridge: Cote Mas Vermentino, £6.79 on offer (normally £8.49), Waitrose
The thing about Vermentino is that it's hard to pin down. It's grown all over the place - mostly France and Italy - and goes under lots of different names, including Pigato, Favorita and Rolle. But if you haven't tried Vermentino before and you like a bright-tasting, lemon peel-like white, chances are you'll love this one from southern France. Delicious sipped whilst trying to think of something to do with leftovers. 

Current red in the rack: Cotes du Rhone Villages Serabel Chusclan 2014, £5.99, Lidl
If you've got a Lidl near you, get down there quick because they've got a whole load of new limited availability wines in from France (around 40). And some of them are really good. If you like teeth-tingling whites, try the white from the Savoie region. There's a lovely red Minervois and if you like sweet wines, try the £8.99 Sauternes from Chateau Mauras. The Rhone red above was a big hit at Book Club last night. Chusclan is one of the villages in the Cotes du Rhone region and this is properly juicy and jammy, with gorgeous brambly fruit. 

Chin chin x

*or just close my eyes for a little bit longer