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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?

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.

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