Category Archives: Blog

Mendocino – Thinking outside the Bottle

Mendocino – Thinking outside the Bottle

Amelia Singer

Not many people have heard of Mendocino. Whereas neighbouring Napa is the most-visited tourist attraction after Disneyland, Mendocino’s bucolic beauty belies a region of grit – winegrowers here are traditionally paid lower prices for fruit. However, attracting labour is the biggest issue, especially when many vineyard workers are being seduced by marijuana growers. The average price of grape picking is $10 an hour but you can earn $25 trimming weed.

To deal with this crisis, local sheriff, Tom Allman, had a creative solution – why not use prisoners from the county jail as pickers? Driving Joe and I in his police car, Tom explains how he concocted this scheme with Martha Barra, whose family-run winery was being seriously affected. Together they chose several prisoners to do the harvest and paid them a fair wage. It worked so well that the number of prisoner pickers has increased and three other sheriffs have incorporated this scheme.

As effective as this scheme sounded, I couldn’t help but ask Martha Barra if she felt safe in the vineyards. According to Martha, Tom had a rigorous selection system but I was unconvinced.

My doubts persisted until I had seen the prisoners themselves. Out in Martha’s vineyard I could see how studiously they worked. They displayed an impressive knowledge of viticulture but they also really enjoyed it. As one prisoner said “it feels like you’ve accomplished something.” Perhaps the most impressive story was Jaime’s who enjoyed the work so much he then became the vineyard manager as soon as he left jail.

I now view this moody region in a new light. It could perhaps be the innovator of the greatest labour initiative in California. I understand why Martha Barra takes delight in writing cheques for these pickers. This scheme has created sustainable labour but it has also given local people a second chance in life.

Interested in California? Visit with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

The Napa Valley and its Wine Train

The Napa Valley and its Wine Train

Gizzi Erskine

There are vineyards in all but one state in the USA: Washington DC (which isn’t technically a state) is the only state in the Union not to grow grapes for winemaking. And yet when most people are asked to name an American wine region they will say California, and more specifically, Napa.

Having already visited Arizona, one of the USA’s emerging wine regions, The Wine Show decided that I should meet two of America’s best wine makers in the Napa Valley.

David Mahaffey has been making wine for the Miss Olivia Brion vineyard at Heron Lake for more than 30 years. Since its very first vintage, he’s been known for making very elegant wines. But who is Olivia Brion and how did her French name come to grace this most American wine? You can read more about her here but her skills were in the making and selling of bicycles in France in the 19th century. But her ‘Haut-Brion’ wine-making roots and spirit act as an inspiration for the wine and winemakers at Heron Lake.

In 1905 Olivia, wearing trousers and sporting short hair, shocked the sporting world by beating a train travelling from Canterbury to Maidstone in Kent on her bicycle. Later in life she caused a scandal by publishing passionate letters from her many lovers, including Warren Harding, Paul Gauguin, Charles Chaplin and Isadora Duncan. She was also part of the suffragette movement and all-round woman of substance. Dare I say it, not unlike me!

I also meets Loren Trefethen from the family-owned-and-run Trefethen Vineyard. Loren’s grandparents moved to Napa in the late 1960s. At that time there were only 20 mostly struggling vineyards in what was then considered an agricultural backwater. But by 1979 John Trefethen, Loren’s father, had begun producing wines of such great quality that their chardonnay was named the best in the world at the Gault-Millau Wine Olympics in Paris.

My ‘date’ with Loren and David is aboard the Napa Wine Train which travels along the same route as laid out by Samuel Brannan, an early Californian pioneer who brought tourists including writer Robert Louis-Stevenson to the region from San Francisco. The Napa Wine train has been running since 1989 and features lovingly restored Pullman carriages in which passengers can travel through the valley past some of the most famous vineyards in the world.

As a thank you for sharing their stories about Napa and their wines, I decide to cook some lunch on board the train – another first for me! Chef Kelly Macdonald kindly allows me into the kitchen where I cook a lunch to complement the wine David and Loren have brought. For inspiration, I look back to France however, preparing a beautiful Coq au Vin, (chicken in red wine) using local ingredients and herbs that I feel bring out the subtleties in the wine. Both winemakers are very happy with their lunch; I’d like to think I did The Wine Show and the UK very proud indeed.

Interested in California? Visit with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Our wine picks for California Wine Month

Our wine picks for California Wine Month

September marks the start of California Wine Month, a yearly celebration of the region’s wonderful winemaking culture. Featuring regional festivals, dinners, vineyard tours, and intimate tastings – the event appeals to serious wine lovers and newbies alike.

Whilst you may not be able to make it to the Golden State to experience this joyous celebration of Californian wine first-hand, luckily there are plenty of incredible bottles you can source worldwide.

If you’re looking for inspiration, consider the below list a great starting point. Who knows, that first sip may just encourage you to head Stateside and experience this incredible wine region up close!

Hirsch Vineyards West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir

I have no doubt lives have been changed by this wine. Hirsch are among the most lauded California producers by Pinotphiles. Intense and complex, this is an expression of California as much as Pinot Noir. There’s inviting richness but also delicacy. Truffles and earth, but a New World heart of vibrant berry fruit.

The Halcyon Riesling

Some of us like something sweeter. Softer. Richer. But it’s so hard to find. So, when you come across wines like this with its lightly-sweet style and sweet peach and lightly-honeyed style, hold them dear. Sweeter wines make wonderful companions to spicier dishes. But also this is gorgeous to sip through the evening. It’s aromatic, fragrant with a beautiful balance of lifted citrus freshness.

Fess Parker Chardonnay

The curious geography of California’s Central Coast lets winemakers experiment. To make the most of little valleys to bring out different styles. It’s the extremes of warm days that flesh out the pear fruit. And cold nights that keep tangy, crisp apple that make this distinctive. It’s oaky with baked pastry and made for roasted chicken, turkey, corn and pies.

Inglenook Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

When Francis Ford Coppola bought a piece of history at Inglenook, he took on an estate modelled on the finest Bordeaux châteaux, and it still makes wines in an homage to Bordeaux with the meaty heft of Napa. Currants, blueberries and those supple, soft Californian tannins cry out for a steak.

Barra of Medocino Pinot Noir Rose

It’s crackers to think that a generation ago, rose was a flibbertigibbet footnote in the wine statistics. Today there are pinks of every hue and palates from the tangy to tropical. This is in the melon, peach, strawberry, fruit salad variety. Lots of juicy fruit and light on the herbal notes. A dry wine, lovely with salads and tortillas (I discovered) but with a sun-warmed fruit.

Interested in California? Visit with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Viva La Volvo Revolution

Viva La Volvo Revolution

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, Joe Fattorini explores the changing face of the Chilean wine industry.

Joe Fattorini

‘Those who can ride, ride! We will break through the enemy!’ This was the rousing cry of General Bernardo O’Higgins at the battle of Rancagua. His men were surrounded and outnumbered. According to legend the last 120 of them were forced to take refuge in a cellar. That cellar is still there at the Santa Rita estate. And today, surrounded by neat rows of bottles and artfully positioned barrels, it’s hard to imagine the ragtag, defeated group of patriots, injured and terrified as they prepared to flee to three years of exile over the Andes in Argentina.

Today the 120 cellar at Santa Rita is the home of a new revolution. And one of its Generals is Cecilia Torres. Cecilia is fondly known as the ‘Grandmother of Chilean wine’. She is warm, generous and quick with a smile. But also pioneer with a steely determination. Since 1989 Cecilia has been responsible for making Casa Real, one of Chile’s greatest wines. Casa Real surprised the world with its quality, complexity and focus. It also gave a generation of Chilean winemakers the confidence to make wines that could compete with the best. And Cecilia’s example also inspired a particular group of winemakers. Around a third of all people making wine in Chile are women. One of the highest proportions in the world.

I’ve heard it said (not least by Argentineans) that Chileans are by nature a sensible people. The winemakers certainly give that appearance. Pressed chinos, polo shirt, winery-branded fleece and a pair of sensible shoes is the uniform of the Chilean winemaker. And the wines had a similar reputation through the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. Cecilia’s revolution in quality led to growth in consistent, fruity, balanced… sensible wines. But like the Volvos they were compared with, they were reliable but often lacked excitement.

Today, a new generation of winemakers is changing that reputation. Rather than just a Cabernet or a Merlot, these winemakers are experimenting with exotic blends of new varieties. Rather than just making wine in the warm valley floor, they’re moving up the hills. Or even to completely new regions in Chile’s high altitude, desert north and cool south. And there’s a twist. Pisco. This is the grape spirit that gobbled up Chile’s grapes and led to plantings of bland, over-productive varieties. But this 17th century brandy is now mixed in innovative cocktails. I tried several of them. After a few you wouldn’t be able to ride. But you’d have the courage to follow Bernardo O’Higgins breaking through any enemy.

Santa Rita Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Here is one of the world’s great ‘icon’ wines, that deserves the title and is still within reach of mere mortals. A wine that changed our perceptions of Chilean wine forever. It remains true to its origins with a deftly crafted masterclass in pure Cabernet Sauvignon. Cassis, spice, cedar, toast and the capacity to age. Serve with something devastatingly simple like a roast Cote de Boeuf. Let the wine sing.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Wine Education Week

Raise a glass this September to WSET’s Wine Education Week

 

At The Wine Show, we know our viewers are constantly looking to delve deeper into the world of wine, discovering more about the culture, history, and diverse nature of this most marvelous drink.

It’s why we’re delighted to let you know about WSET’s exciting new educational initiative. Having awarded over 400,000 wine lovers one of its qualifications in the UK alone since it was founded in 1969, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, the largest global provider of wine and spirits qualifications, is celebrating its milestone 50th anniversary with the first ever global Wine Education Week, running from 9-15 September 2019.

The event kicks off on 9th September with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for wine lovers to help break a Guinness World Record – for the largest ever recorded sommelier lesson. TV personality and award-winning wine expert Olly Smith and sommelier Virgilio Gennaro (Wine Director at Giorgio Locatelli Consultancy) will host a crowd looking to shatter the existing record of 271 people, and you could be one of them!

How can I get involved?

The hosts will give attendees an insight into the art of pairing food and wine and guide them through tasting four wines matched with complementary foods. Tickets to the event are priced at £20.00 and are available to purchase here. Similar events across the world will mark the beginning of Wine Education Week, starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Los Angeles, USA.

Following the launch, Wine Education Week will continue with almost 70 events taking place across the UK, with sessions ranging from ‘Deciphering Wine Labels’ to ‘Matches Made In Heaven’ – and ‘All That Sparkles’ for some added fizz! The events will help attendees make wiser choices when choosing a bottle and to discover the delights of lesser-known wines they might not have tasted before.

Full details about Wine Education Week and the events taking place can be found at www.wineeducationweek.com 

Bringing the world’s wine lovers together to celebrate and learn more about wine

Seven days, 450 events across 45 countries – the biggest global consumer wine event ever held. So, whether you’re novice or knowledgeable, mad for Merlot or puzzled by Pinot, Wine Education Week will take you on a journey of discovery.

History forever at Klein Constantia

History forever at Klein Constantia

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, Joe Fattorini channels his inner Napoleon exploring the history of Klein Constantia, a beautiful South African winery.

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Joe Fattorini

What was it like to be Napoleon? I mean I’m short, ambitious and I’ve been disappointed in Belgium. But what was his life like day-to-day? We know what life tasted like when Napoleon had his pudding. How? Because of Vin de Constance.

At 5.00am at Klein Constantia, grape picking is in full swing. And here it really is ‘grape’ picking. Grape by shrivelled grape. Each day the pickers go to collect newly wrinkled fruit. Each grape picked only when it’s packed with unctuous, luscious juice. It’s just as they would have done in the eighteenth century. Quiet work. But not silent. The pickers chat in Afrikaans, with modern headlamps winking in the darkness. As dawn approaches, more noises join in. Birds at first, then waking baboons calling each other in the trees.

Vin de Constance wasn’t prized only because it was delicious. With all that sweetness and marmalade acidity it also travelled well. To Dickens and Austen in Britain. To Napoleon on St Helena. It also means Vin de Constance lives a long time. There’s something special about drinking a wine like the one people enjoyed in the eighteenth century. It’s something else to try the wine people actually enjoyed in the eighteenth century. I taste a 1791. The year Mozart died. The year the first American ship reached Japan. The year the Brandenburg Gate was finished. It still tastes delicious. I still don’t know what it was like being Napoleon. But it tasted good.

TWS-Vin-de-Constance

Klein Constantia Vin De Constance 2011

Taste this wine and you taste the past. Enjoy the honeyed sweetness and orange-marmalade tang. They are the same flavours that captivated Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Napoleon. The heady, complex sweet and spice aromas tell you this is one of the great wines of the world.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

War and Winemaking on The Loire

War and Winemaking on The Loire

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, we revisit Joe Fattorini discovering the historic and picturesque Loire Valley – and only some of it from within the confines of a barrel!

Loire-314x230

Joe Fattorini

Are you claustrophobic? If you’re not, you should be. I wondered if I could be stuck in a small place for an extended period of time. “Of course, no problem,” I thought. I couldn’t be more wrong.

It was perhaps the context. Patrice Monmousseau is jovial, convivial and charming. But in the dark cellars of his Montrichard winery, he tells his father’s story with deadly seriousness. During WW2, Jean Monmousseau smuggled agents of The Resistance across the Nazi guards on the River Cher in his wine barrels. It’s an easier task here than in other parts of France. The Loire traditionally uses a 400 litre barrel, compared with barrels of 225 litres or so elsewhere. I mean I’m small. But not that small.

Monmousseau is famous for its sparkling Saumur. But this part of the Loire also makes still, oak-aged Chenin Blanc whites and vibrant, currant-scented reds. Nazi guards on the River Cher waved over Jean and his truck of barrels as he passed from Free France to Vichy France. They imagined they were full of Chinon red or Anjoy Blanc. Little did they know that inside were undercover agents; fearing for their lives.

I say ‘fearing’. I can’t imagine they were doing anything else. You have to crouch down to get in a barrel. Then stopper your ears with plugs and headphones; the clatter of coopers hammering on the barrel’s crown and hoops is deafening. Then everything is dark. Every movement is out of your control and unanticipated. Every sound outside a mystery. When you stop moving you wonder why. When you start you wish it would stop. And the fusty, muggy heat. Creeping up, like a human-powered mini sauna.

They left me in for 50 minutes. It felt like hours. And nobody was waiting to riddle my barrel with machine gun bullets. I’ve tasted bravery with a glass of wine in the past. I’ve never done it with the same appreciation of what it really means to be brave as that night in the Loire.

Monmousseau Brut Etoile Methode Traditionnelle Non-Vintage

Great bubbles don’t come better value than this. But also with a soft pear fruit and frothy fizz, many people actually prefer this to more expensive sparkling wine. Match it with salads and a touch of spice for a magical mix. Think more robust fish dishes and spiced chicken.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Santorini: Davy Jones’ Cellar

Joe visits the magical island of Santorini

 

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, we revisit Joe Fattorini’s incredible trip to the magical island of Santorini, complete with a spot of deep-sea diving!

Davy Jones’ Cellar

Joe Fattorini

Yiannis Paraskevopoulos has a naughty sense of humour. He may be one of Greece’s leading winery owners and a Professor of Oenology. But he jokes around putting on his wet suit, bobging about in his boat in the Mediterranean. He goes through all the formal diving protocols and splashes into the sea. Fifteen minutes his arm appears clutching a bottle of wine. Like Nimue, the Lady of the Lake presenting the sword to King Arthur, we grasp the bottle from his theatrical clutch.

Later over lunch, Yiannis gives me a second bottle to open with Matt and Matt. “When you open this one” he says “get them to sniff the outside of the bottle first”. I ask why, sniffing our bottle which has an attractive, iodine and oyster tang. “It won’t smell so nice in a few days” he laughs.

So why does Yiannis leave over a hundred bottles a year of his Assyrtiko wine at the bottom of a bay in the Mediterranean off Santorini? It’s an experiment. And a fascinating one. Because it turns out the sea is a pretty perfect environment for ageing wines. It’s dark (light is a great enemy of wine). It’s cool. The temperature is constant. And there’s absolutely no oxygen whatsoever. That is the really important part. We try Yiannis’s wines aged both above and below the sea. Assyrtiko ages well, its characteristic, bracing acidity mellowing with time and allowing a warm, lemon fruit to evolve. In the land-aged wines (if you can call them such a thing) there’s a nuttiness. It tastes old. But in the sea-aged wines, the mellow character comes with a brightness and clarity in the fruit. The wine tastes old and new at the same time.

And it’s that sense of old and new living side-by- side that embodies the wine business of Santorini. The island’s vineyards have some of the oldest vines on the planet. We walk through the vineyards at Estate Argyros seeing vines planted during the reign of George III. “That one was planted around the time of London’s Great Plague”. The fruit all carries the hallmark acidity of volcanic soils, and those soils date from The Minoan eruption of Thera. This was one of the biggest eruptions on earth in recorded history, and devastated the island in the second millennium BCE. It also buried, and preserved, the town of Akrotiri. Complete with three-storied houses, advanced urban planning and… wine. The large amphorae sitting where they would have done around 3600 years ago.

Santorini is a holiday paradise. The calm waters in the volcano’s caldera are some of the prettiest swimming in the Mediterranean. The food, the houses, the churches. But it’s also one of the most fascinating wine regions in the world. Too warm for most grapes, but able to produce zingy whites and sublime sticky Vinsanto through a combination of unique soils, unique grapes and generations of unique producers. Every wine lover should try these wines. None will ever regret it.

Ktima Alpha Axia White Malagousia/ Sauvignon PGI Floriana

There’s a wonderful spirit of experimentation among Greek producers, like matching the familiar zest of Sauvignon with adventurous aromatic and heady aromas of Malagousia. This is a richly textured wine, a foodie not a drinkie. Herby roast chicken or fish stew are perfect combinations.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

How to pack for your perfect wine holiday

How to pack for your perfect wine holiday

So you’ve booked your exciting new wine adventure with our friends at Winerist. Be it Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany, or the Douro Valley – a wonderfully fulfilling and culturally-enriching experience awaits you.

But what next? How do you extract the most out of your upcoming adventure? Well, it all starts with your suitcase. Wine tours often involve whole days of travelling from winery to winery, through chilly cellars and scorching vineyards. It’s important to be prepared to make the whole trip as enjoyable and efficient as possible.

Not sure where to start? Our handy rundown will get you on your way.

Layers

A wine holiday can expose you to varying temperatures throughout the day, so it’s important for your clothing to be practical and adaptable.

Whilst the sun may blare over the vineyard in the day, sometimes tours can transition into the late evening, presenting a dramatic temperature drop. Wine cellars, too, can be noticeably cold.

Being able to dress in easily discarded layers is definitely the key. Think light, space-saving shirts or dresses, with a couple of jumpers for the chillier times, and thin waterproofs should the heavens decide to open.

Dark Colours

Whilst your inclination may be to opt for lighter colours in an effect to tackle the heat, consider the unfortunate realities of wine tasting.

Spills, drips, spitting – even if you yourself are confident of keeping wine in a glass, others around you may not be so coordinated. Especially after a long day of travelling, walking, and drinking. Accidents happen, after all, and you wouldn’t want to ruin your perfect white dress or cream chinos!

Consider slightly darker clothing that can protect against garish stains.

Footwear

You want to look good on your wine tour, that’s a given. If you visited the perfect vineyard, tasted the perfect wines, enjoyed the perfect day – but didn’t get the perfect photos to document it, were you even really there?

However, high heels or polished dress shoes are unlikely to fare well whilst stomping through vineyards or a wet, slippery winery. Consider more practical footwear that still fulfills the brief of looking respectable. Think weatherproof boots and flat trainers over open-toed sandals or heels. Vineyards can get very dirty too – ensure you have a couple of plastic bags handy should you need to wrap-up muddy footwear.

Water Bottle

In all the excitement about all the great wine you’ll be tasting, it’s easy to neglect the second most important drink in your life – water.

Walking through vineyards all day can be physically exerting, and with high temperatures and alcoholic beverages to contend with, dehydration is a real concern.

In the interest of avoiding post-holiday hangovers and looking after the environment, opt for a good quality, refillable, steel water bottle that will last the whole tour and beyond. And don’t forget to fill it up regularly!

Portable Charger

A smart phone has infinite uses during your busy wine tour. From taking the perfect Instagram snap, to researching the winery, to keeping in touch with your jealous friends and family back home, the potential to drain your battery in just a matter of hours is plain to see.

Consider packing a robust portable charger that stores several full charges. These often take up little room in your luggage and can prove invaluable, particularly towards the end of your holiday.

You wouldn’t want to miss that perfect sunset shot of you overlooking a glorious French vineyard because of a dead battery, now would you?

Snacks

No doubt you’ll come into contact with plenty of gorgeous food during your visit – be it a fancy three-course meal, a hefty cheese plate, or an inspired wine and food matching.

At a certain point though, dining out on such rich foods non stop can begin to feel a little overindulgent. You’ll still want to keep yourself sustained throughout the day if you’re hopping from winery to winery, however.

Packing simple, healthy, long-lasting snacks such as nuts, protein bars, or canned fruit can help keep you fed and avoid the temptation to stuff your face with much more indulgent food at each stop.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Joe and Amelia soak up Porto and the Douro Valley

Joe and Amelia soak up Porto and the Douro Valley

 

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, you have the chance to soak up some of Joe and Amelia’s luxurious trip through the Douro Valley in an effort to better understand the mystery of Port.

Port – A Contemporary Classic

Amelia Singer

Picture yourself, sitting in a trendy bar on a hot summer’s evening, sipping – not a Gin and Tonic – but a delicious and refreshing Port cocktail. Not quite the image of Port that you had in mind? Well hopefully after this episode, that will change.

Port is a fortified wine Brits have been drinking since the end of the 17th century. Although the drink has evolved into all kinds of styles and colours, our Port drinking habits have never been more conservative. Usually, it is just drunk neat with a piece of stilton at Christmas time. The irony is that in the 17th century, Port was a main ingredient in cocktails. British gentlemen and sea captains combined it with sugar, water and nutmeg to form the “sangaree” (precursor to modern day Sangria).

In Porto and the Douro valley, wine producers are reinventing Port and its cocktail association. The well known wine bar of the Yeatman Hotel in the heart of Porto, boast an extensive list of Port cocktails. From the sparkling, pink and fruity to the robust and Bourbon based, there’s one for every palate. Even Joe enjoyed his flamingo coloured concoction!

Buzzy wine bars and experimental Port cocktails are just some of the ways that the Port region is trying to reinvigorate its image. More Port families, like the Symington’s, are building modern tasting rooms and opening up their wineries to encourage tourism in the area. The Douro is one of the most dramatically beautiful wine regions that I have experienced – and also the most underrated. Hopefully, as with the cocktails themselves, people will soon realise what they are missing out on.

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Road Trip – Burgundy Style…

Road Trip – Burgundy style…

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, we give you another chance to check out Matthew Goode and James Purefoy’s eye-opening trip to Burgundy in search of the perfect wine to pair with Stephane Reynaud’s Coq au Vin.

Road Trip – Burgundy Style…

THE WINE SHOW CASE – Challenge Four

Melanie Jappy

When Chef Stephane Reynaud decided to serve Coq au Vin there really was only one region for Matthew and James to look for a wine: Burgundy, and more specifically, the Cote d’Or. This small escarpment south of Dijon is home to villages, the names of which – Mersault, Montrachet, Volnay and many more – adorn the labels of some of the world’s most coveted wines.

The Wine Show map

Arguably the most influential and important of these villages is Vougeot. Sitting outside the village is the imposing Clos de Vougeot, founded in the 12th Century as a Cistercian Abbey. After the French revolution it was bought by a local vineyard owner. Over the years it has been subdivided and split between a number of heirs. The vines are now owned by 80 different people, who all make their own wine under the Clos Vougeot appellation. It is now home to the Confrerie de Chevaliers du Tastevin. It’s here that Matthew and James receive their primer in Burgundian wine from Chevalier, Vincent Barbier.

Matthew and James certainly have to pay attention and after a tasting of three of the Clos de Vougeot’s wines – one from each of the demarcations unique to Burgundy: Village (the lowest), Premier Cru (first growth) and Grand Cru (‘Greatest’ growth) – two wines are chosen to take back to Jancis.

Chorey-Les-Beaune – Winner
Jancis Robinson’s Verdict

“I’ve had a few Chorey de Beaune wines over the years that are too rustic. I think the Clos Vougeot Tastevirnage committee have chosen a jolly good example.

The Grand Cru is going to be a great wine and the 2010 Village is already very charming. So my vote goes to James’ Chorey”

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

Relive Joe at the Marathon du Médoc

Relieve Joe at the Marathon du Médoc

As we continue to celebrate our new partnership with wine travel specialists Winerist, we look back at our presenters visiting just a few of the many wonderful places Winerist offers tours to.

This week, we revisit Joe Fattorini and adventurer Jamie Ramsay tackling the Marathon du Médoc, catching much of Bordeaux’s unique beauty along the way.

Joe notes

Marathon Men

Joe Fattorini

Imagine a wine tasting for 10,000 people. All tasting – and drinking – some of the greatest wines in the world. Everyone having a brilliant time wearing fancy dress. Accompanied by bands playing music and chefs offering snacks like oysters and grilled beef. While running 42.195 kilometres. Welcome to the crazy world of the Bordeaux marathon.

My friend Jamie Ramsay hasn’t had a drink in 18 months. Mostly because he’s been running from Vancouver to Buenos Aires. So if I show him round the historic region of Bordeaux, he will encourage me around 26 miles and 385 yards of running. Things start so well. I’ve run marathons before. And Jamie seems to be enjoying his return to the world of wine too. Even if our costumes start to feel a little heavy, and sweaty. As we enjoy more and more wine, and run more and more slowly, will we get to the end?

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An artistic view on Nittardi

An artistic view on Nittardi

THE WINE SHOW CASE – Challenge SIX

Melanie Jappy

From Tintaretto to Titian, Bernini to Botticelli, Italy has given the world some of the most famous artists of all time. So it is no surprise when Joe Fattorini challenges Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys to find a wine that captures the spirit of Italy’s artistic heritage.

Joe sends Matt and Matt to the heart of the Chianti region of Tuscany to meet his friends the Canali-Femerts on the Nittardi Estate. Once home to Michelangelo, the Estate’s current owners are as passionate about art as they are about wine. Peter Femert owns art galleries in Germany and his wife, historian Stefania Canali, shares his enthusiasm. Son Leon has also joined the family business having studied wine-making around the world.

Today Nittardi is home to a collection of modern art and sculpture, but it is to the 16th century that we look to see the roots of this connection. In 1569, while Nittardi’s owner Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel in Rome, he sent a message to his nephew asking for wine from Nittardi for Pope Julius II. Even today the first bottles of one of Nittardi’s wines, Nectar Dei, are sent to the Pope.

Evoking the memory of Michelangelo and his many benefactors, the Canali-Femerts have for several years commissioned an artist to create a label and wrapping paper for their Casanuova di Nittardi. This wine is a Chianti Classico made from grapes grown in the single vineyard; the Vigna Doghessa. As a 100% Sangiovese wine it is known for its minerality and fresh fruits and is the epitome of a fine Chianti Classico.

The artists that have created work for the wine include world-famous artists such as, Horst Jannsen, Yoko Ono and Gunther Grass. So it was surprising when Stefania agreed to let Matthew and Matthew have a stab at creating their own labels.

Whilst prolific by the end of the drawing session,  Matt and Matt’s attempts may not be regarded as amongst the finest of the works to have adorned this fine wine. But Matthew and Matthew did not shame The Wine Show totally. Having each chosen their best piece of work, it’s up to Joe to choose the one that he feels best fulfilled the brief. Who wins? Wait and see…

Book your wine and travel adventure with The Wine Show and Winerist

The Wine Show has partnered with specialist wine and food travel company Winerist to provide experiences in many of the countries we’ve featured on screen. Together we are offering unique wine tastings, holidays and tours that we are sure will thrill and exhilarate you. Book now to experience the unforgettable.

The best picks for your English Wine Week

The best picks for your English Wine Week

It’s easy to always think of exotic, picturesque foreign lands when tasked to consider locations for great wine. But sometimes, great things can be found on your very own doorstep.

To celebrate English Wine Week (25th May – 2nd June), we’ve compiled a small variety of great English wines for you to seek out.

If you’re trying these or anything similar these weeks, why not show us on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ShowUsYourBottles?

Balfour Brut Rose 2010

Hush Heath definitely contends as England’s finest rose fizz producer and for much of its life, that was all they did. The rich aromas of strawberries and currants are complemented by wild flowers and spice. The character of Pinot Noir shines through, from one of Kent’s most famous vineyards. I love this with food. I even had it once (deliciously) with a traditional pork pie.

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Bolney Wine Estate Cuvee Rose 2011

English wine is a not a new thing, and Bolney was established in 1972 and looks to New Zealand for inspiration, as an estate that specialises in reds. This is the estate’s divine pink fizz suffused with strawberry fruit and a mouth-coating yeasty richness. That fruit gives it the weight to match with food. For a particularly delicious and interesting combination try it with really good Chinese food.

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Camel Valley Brut Sparkling 2013

Anyone who enjoys white Bordeaux will (a) love this wine and (b) be utterly astonished by this wine. It shares the same production idea and half the same grapes, but with the eye-opening refreshment of Assyrtiko. Look for a peach and mineral fruit with lovely vanilla spice. Richly flavoured fish dishes and creamy sauces are perfect matches.

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Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvee English Sparkling 2010

There’s a wonderful combination of the traditional and modern at Hattingley. It is the UK’s first winery to use solar power, and yet sits in quintessentially English countryside. But you can taste the innovation; here they use some oak barrels (like mighty Krug and Bollinger) to give the wine a softer, complex mouthfeel and structure. Truly delicious fizz.

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Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvee Sparkling English 2010

Jenkyn Place is one of the newer estates in England, made in Hampshire where there are some of the country’s finest soils and climates for wine production. It has a slightly exotic touch to the aromas, particularly of quince and a hint of tropical fruit, whilst the palate is focussed on being silky and refined rather than rich and heady. By a couple of bottles and lay one down to see how it ages for the next 3-5 years.

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Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvee English Sparkling 2010

There’s a wonderful combination of the traditional and modern at Hattingley. It is the UK’s first winery to use solar power, and yet sits in quintessentially English countryside. But you can taste the innovation; here they use some oak barrels (like mighty Krug and Bollinger) to give the wine a softer, complex mouthfeel and structure. Truly delicious fizz.

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Nyetimber Blanc De Blancs Sparkling 2007

Vintage sparkling wines are less a reflection of the house style than the vintage. 2007 wouldn’t strike you as an auspicious year – floods in June and July led to one of the biggest rescue efforts in peacetime Britain. But by October the fruit was ripe enough to make this delicious apple and brioche scented wine. It’s evolving into a complex and multi-layered treat now. Enjoy with fine fish and even white meat dishes, like a sparkling white Burgundy. You won’t regret it.

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Wines for your Portuguese holiday

Wines for your Portuguese holiday

As we edge ever closer to summer, attention no doubt shifts towards the holiday season and the big adventures we’ve planned for our excursions.

As we know, travelling goes hand-in-hand with experiencing great new wines, and The Wine Show is your one-stop shop for recommendations from all over the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Portugal this summer, why not seek out some of the wines below? With a delightful mix of powerful reds, soft whites, and complex sherries, Portugal is sure to provide you with a wine tasting experience you won’t soon forget.

Churchill’s Douro Red 2012

In the late 17th Century, ¾ of all wine sold in England was Portuguese – fortified Ports and unfortified wines like this. Well, perhaps not with the delicious, wild-berry fruit and clean spice. Churchill’s have been working hard to create a modern, rich, hearty style that perfectly encapsulates Portugal.

Pair with: Game dishes; barbecues; and roasted vegetables

Monte Cascas Malvasia de Colares

Here is a massive insider tip. It’s going to be harder to buy Chablis for the next few years as the harvests have been tough. But switch to Colares Malvasia like this gorgeous wine and you’ll have plenty of intense, minerally, slightly iodine tang fun in the same style.

Pair with: Shellfish; hake

Sandeman Vau Vintage 2001

This is the Port that got a lot of us into Port. Vau Vintage was controversial when it was launched (in the 80’s) as it’s a ‘real’ Vintage Port but made in a fruitier, earlier drinking style. There’s the classic sweet opening, followed by raspberry and cherry and aromas of Dundee cake and spice. It’s also staggeringly good value.

Pair with: Puddings; Chocolate

Vida Nova Syrah/Aragonez Rosé 2014

Cliff Richard put Algarve winemaking on the map for most people. And he’s surprised people by not just making a juicy, bright, fruity rosé packed with red fruit but winning awards and plaudits at the same time. It’s a surprisingly versatile wine.

Pair with: Salads; Salmon

Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Tinto 2013

Pronounced ‘Ramoosh Tint’ with just a hinted aspiration at the end, here another great Port house makes a glorious dry, unfortified red. This has the herbal quality to the dark cherry and damson fruit that evokes memories of the brush covered hill sides in the beautiful Douro Valley.

Pair with: Grilled vegetables and cheese (like Halloumi)

Wines for your Spanish holiday

Wines for your Spanish holiday

With the winter period gradually being put behind us, attention no doubt shifts towards the summer and the big adventures we’ve planned for our holidays and excursions.

As we know, travelling goes hand-in-hand with experiencing great new wines, and The Wine Show is your one-stop shop for recommendations from all over the world.

If you’re planning a trip to Spain this summer, why not seek out some of the wines below? With a delightful mix of powerful reds, soft whites, and complex sherries, Spain is sure to provide you with a wine tasting experience you won’t soon forget.

Vina Almate, Alfredo Maestro, Ribera del Duero 2015

Alfredo Maestro Tejero’s vineyards are located within the Ribera del Duero. His wines are completely natural, with no sulphur added in the vineyard or the winery. All his vineyard treatments are natural, and many of them follow biodynamic practices.

The Alfredo Maestro Vina Almate is darkly coloured, opaque and mouth filling with lavender and toffee notes that stay from nose to finish. These notes quickly disappear to allow a sweet nose of roses, mineral and red berry fruits.

Pair with: Black pudding and chorizo; Rice with Morcilla; Red meat, pork and cheese

Itsasmendi

We are reliably informed, do NOT pour your Txakoli from a height to froth up the light fizz. It’s only for tourists. Pour normally, nicely chilled and enjoy the brightly, zesty citrus aromas and refreshing palate. Itsas (“sea”) and Mendi (“mountains”) tell you all about what this wine goes with (fish) and where it comes from (the hills).

Pair with: Pork; Rich fish (salmon, tuna etc); Spicy food; Sweet desserts; Vegetarian; Poultry

Bodegas Hidalgo Triana Pedro Ximenez

Let’s be honest here. This is the richest, stickiest, densest wine you’ll ever try. It’s essentially the sweetening wine for other sherries, but here you have it unadulterated. And I love it. Not a ‘wine’ so much as a pudding or a stylish alternative to Bailey’s. Some serve it over ice-cream but that seems wasteful. It does go with a rich cake. You really should try this once though just to taste the treacle, the figs, the prunes and baked raisins.

Pair with: Tiramisu; Dark chocolate brownies; Vanilla ice cream; Strawberries, banana, citrus; Blue cheese and paté

Williams & Humbert Palo Cortado

This sherry is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, enclosed in an enigma. Part tangy, fresh Fino, part rich and nutty Oloroso. 20 years of gradual ageing make this the most complex wine from Williams & Humbert. The perfect way into dinner with almonds, great tapas and intelligent conversation.

Pair with: Pheasant, quail, or partridge; Duck liver; Curries or spicy Asian food; Chocolate; Sweet sauce

Marques de Riscal Finca Torrea

There’s been quiet experimention in Rioja, to look for a more modern style of wine for people who want more fruit and a tad more grip in their wines. This is Marques de Riscal’s answer. Less sweet oak, more bright fruit, a bit more bite. But still fresh. It takes brighter, more modern food too. A touch of spice, a bit of fruit, and maybe slightly richer meats like duck too.

Pair with: Grills or roasts; Mushroom casserole; Spicy sauces; Chicken; Stronger-flavoured fish dishes; Red tuna fish