Wednesday, 22 July 2015

In Tents

This has been a cracking week for your wine questions (one of the things I love about writing this blog is being able to help with them). Here are some of my favourites:

1. Which are the best wines to look for in a French supermarket?
2. Why is my glass of chablis so yellow? (Answer: knackered)
3. What wines should I buy for an aunt's wake that'll keep lots of old ladies happy?
4. Where can I find a bag-in-box rose fit for a festival?

The last one's timely, given that I'm going to Camp Bestival next weekend. If you're going and want to come to the KMWC pop-up wine tasting, you've got until tomorrow to enter your details here. The Camp Bestival team will then pick 50 names at random. In the meantime, back to rose. Specifically ones in boxes. Unless you want something either sweetish (lots of white zinfandels to choose from) or boring (no thanks), there's surprisingly few to choose from. You're better off buying a couple of bottles of something you like and decanting them into a 1.5l plastic bottle. (I've seen but not tasted this one, a bag-in-box rose from London's St John wine shop. At £28.50, it holds four bottles so works out at just over £7 a bottle. And it's from the Languedoc region in France, a good source for inexpensive, fresh, fruity wines. I'll try and buy one before next weekend and report back). For now, here's a bunch of roses.

The Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir Rose 2014, £6.99, Aldi
Made from this rather high maintenance grape, it's grown in the Marlborough region in New Zealand's South Island. Beautifully pale with gorgeous, fresh raspberry fruit flavours. A stand out bargain in the Aldi range at the moment. 

Tesco Simply Garnacha Rose 2014, £4.29 currently on offer, Tesco
A brilliant wine for under a fiver, bright and bold in colour and flavour. It's made from the Garnacha grape (called Grenache in France), from the Campo de Borja region in Spain. Deliciously juicy with lots of strawberry fruit.

Waitrose Provence Rose 2014, £8.99, Waitrose
A classic Provence rose cocktail of grapes, including Grenache (the red grape behind so many good rose wines), Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. Given that 2014 wasn't an easy vintage for much of this part of the world, this is pretty (in pink) good. 

Peace out, winos x

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Wonder Woman

Eileen Hardy (by Lord Snowdon)
Earlier this week, I went for dinner in the Long Room at Lord's Cricket Ground. Now, I'm not a huge cricket fan (remember my Andrew Strauss story?) but you don't say no to dinner at Lord's along with a bunch of cricketing legends during The Ashes. I was there as a guest of Hardys, official wine sponsors of the England cricket team. And one of the highlights was the telling of the story of Eileen Hardy - as told by her son, James - born in 1893 and married to Tom Hardy. Tom was the third generation of the Hardy family to run the wine business but tragically, he was killed in a plane crash aged 46. Eileen, left with three young sons to raise, took charge of the family business along with Tom's cousin Kenneth. She received an OBE in 1976 for her services to the Australian wine industry and was, by all accounts, an incredible life force. This beautiful picture, taken by Lord Snowdon for Australian Vogue magazine in 1977, shows Eileen aged 83. Apparently, she had potential outfits laid out on the bed but Snowdon insisted she wear whatever she would normally wear, doing something she loved - in this case, feeding the seagulls on the beach. It's such a beautiful shot and, I think, hints at both her courage and warmth. Quite wonderful, indeed.  

Current white in the fridge: Tesco Finest Pouilly Fume 2013, £8.99 (normally £10.69), Tesco
The Loire Valley is the place for understated Sauvignon Blanc and this one, made by a great producer called Fournier, is beautifully done. You get gooseberry, lemon and lime flavours but you also get a hint of smokiness, which just makes it all taste, well, expensive. Which given it's price, is pretty impressive. The vineyards of Pouilly Fume lie on the other side of the Loire River to Sancerre, so it's similar but with its own Pouilly personality. 

Current red in the rack: Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2010, £30, Majestic
The idea behind this range is to select the best parcels of Shiraz from regions across Australia and blend them, in this case from the McLaren Vale in South Australia. This is an enormous wine, but not brutish at all. Rather, it's a powerful combination of spice, blackcurrant fruits and smooth oaky flavours. Rich and savoury, this was served with the most gorgeous lamb dish at the dinner. Never mind the cricket legends, I was all about the wine. 

Chin chin x

Nb. This is not a sponsored post. But I did go for dinner, the wines were brilliant and I really wanted you to see this photo. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Como Toes

So, I went to Lake Como last week. I won't go on about it (much) but SERIOUSLY. One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. And we had a Very Famous Person on our flight out. I realised something was up when one of the air stewards practically exploded with excitement and mouthed to another that aforementioned VFP was more beautiful - and taller - than he'd imagined, IRL. I couldn't see anyone famous among us on the plane but on landing I raced to the Ladies leaving the Husband by the luggage carousel. Not just to stalk, I promise. I really did need a wee. And there, in huge dark glasses, standing right in front of me by the sinks and on her phone, was Cheryl. Cheryl! Fernandez-Versini! Now, I've said some fairly stupid things to famous people over the years in my attempt to be friendly/appear normal - it happened a lot when I did The Alan Titchmarsh Show; Joan Collins being a particular low point - but this time, I was speechless. I just smiled before darting in to the loo (was desperate). FYI, she looked absolutely gorgeous, all in black and with beautiful shoes. I spent the next four days in a kaftan and sandals. In my head, I was channeling Talitha Getty in Morocco. Turns out I looked more Princess Margaret in Mustique. I'll leave you with my two-toned feet. I know, so stylish.
Como toes. I blame Prosecco.
Current white in the fridge: Piemonte Chardonnay 2014, £7.50, M&S
Piemonte (or Piedmont) is one of the most hedonistic regions in Italy when it comes to food and wine. Famous for its truffles and wines made from the Nebbiolo grape (including Barolo), the white wines of the region are rather more quietly brilliant and some are definitely worth sniffing out. This one's an unoaked Chardonnay but it's still pretty weighty with lots of peachy flavours. Smashing to sip whilst catching up on the Wimbledon highlights.  

Current red in the rack: Taste The Difference Rioja Reserva 2008, £7 on offer (normally £10), Sainsbury's
So, this is a gem. If you're in the mood for a smooth, oaky (but not too much) kind of red with black fruits and spice, this is great value with £3 off the normal price at the mo. It's got the whole gold wire thing going on, and a crest and lots of gold on the label - Rioja labelling by numbers - but it's what's on the inside that counts, obviously. In this case, a lovely blend of Tempranillo and Graciano grapes. Just add something meaty and you're set. 

Chin chin x

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Edited Highlights

I went to a big blogging conference in London last Friday, BritMums Live, to speak on a panel. Along with English Mum and Honest Mum, we were asked to talk to an audience of bloggers about our stories and how we've gone about building our blogs. And I got to meet Ella Woodward from Deliciously Ella - she was the BritMums keynote speaker on the day - and was thrilled, not least because we share an editor (the editor of my book went on to do Ella's) but she's absolutely gorgeous in real life. She actually, properly GLOWS. She doesn't really drink but eats lots of avocados. I'm upping my avocado intake immediately. And happily, they go with the white wine below very nicely indeed.

Current white in the fridge: Grecula Greco 2014, £6.99, Co-op
This has got the maddest label I've seen on a bottle of wine for a while, all spooky and Hammer Horror-ish. Pale, white and haunting, it says on the label. But for me, it's more friendly monster. Made from the Greco grape (also known as Grecula locally) in southern Italy's Campania region, it's nutty and big on flavour, with peaches and lemons all trying to grab your attention. The smartest take on Greco is from the DOCG (meaning smart) region of Greco di Tufo but this is a great way to find out if you think Greco is heavenly - or a horror show. I'm with heavenly. 

Current red in the rack: Beaujolais Villages Château de la Terrière 2012, £8.49 when you buy 2, Majestic
The brilliant thing about Beaujolais is that it's one of the sprightliest, most summery grapes around. Being made from the thin-skinned Gamay grape, it makes red wines that are typically lightish in colour and juicy in flavour. This one, made from vineyards classified as slightly smarter-than-your-average, are not far from the cru-rated village of Brouilly apparently. Whatever, the wine is great value with really gorgeous berry fruit flavours. 

Chin chin x