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Posts Tagged ‘wineries’

What better time to get up to speed on what wines you like, love and covet than when you are preparing for upcoming festivities with family and friends? There are a million ways to start brushing up on your skills: Head to your local supermarket/wine shop and ask lots of questions (many times they will have tastings available while you browse – just ask), Attend a tasting (lots of places offer tastings – speciality shops, wine shops, liquor stores, etc. Keep your eyes peeled), Talk to your friends (many people have a favorite bottle of wine that they use as their ‘go to’ tipple for any celebration. Ask people you know for suggestions and you may just discover a new gem!).
For my part, I will be hosting, attending and conversing about all things wine in the next two months (have a look at what I’m up to here and sign up if you’re interested). As always, if you want to swap ideas – pull up a chair and let’s chat.

Essentials for any successful holiday: 
Brandy – my favourite is Hennessy VSOP. Top it with a bit of ginger ale for a spritzy buzz or some spicy eggnog for a classic holiday treat
Sparkling wine – the holiday favourite in my household is Prosecco because of its light body, balanced flavour and general yummy-ness (plus it can be enjoyed at any time of day…)
Good, full bodied red wine – this is the absolute must have. I love picking a few favourites each year to share with my family. I am still in the discovery phase for this year’s celebrations and will be using my upcoming tastings to explore a few pre-selected Malbecs, Petit Syrahs, Bordeauxs and Tannats. Stay tuned…

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I started off the weekend with a hike in Surrey with my good friend. Just a 40 minute train ride from London Victoria and we were in the countryside, bathed in fall colours and surrounded by rolling hills. The wind has gotten really cold this past week and we were very much unprepared for just how chilly it would be but the fresh air and gorgeous scenery made for a truly enjoyable trip. 5 miles later, we gratefully plunked ourselves on the warm train back to London.

Our friends were getting together for a Halloween party later on in the day so we parted at Victoria in order to head to our respective homes and get ready. Even though I was freezing, I love being able to walk around the city when I have time so I decided to wander back to Battersea on foot. I took advantage of the great little food shops on Warwick Way and Lupus Street and picked up a few nibbles for my afternoon at home. While the fresh pesto and pecorino was ooey-gooey deliciousness, the stunning part of my afternoon was opening up this gorgeous South African Chenin Blanc that I had received as a gift from a dear friend. I have not explored South Africa very much and after tasting this wine, I have realised that I need to get cracking. This wine is best described as pure elegance. Instead of waxing lyrical about the tasting notes, I am just going to steal a quote from ‘All About Wine‘:  “Arguably South Africa’s top ‘Award-Winning’ Chenin Blanc is purity itself! A sumptuous, flavourful Chenin from this excellent Tulbagh estate, which manages to combine richness with a delicate, elegant palate.” It isn’t cheap but nor is it overpriced at £17. It would be perfect with a Sunday lunch and would impress the socks off any Chardonnay lover.

Rijk’s Private Cellar, Chenin Blanc 2008, Barrel Fermented & Handpicked. £16.99
www.rijks.co.za

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My two lovely friends got married last Monday in London with 20 of their closest friends from around the world looking on. Our troupe was then shuttled into cabs, whisked away to the Champagne bar at St Pancras station and herded into Coach 15 on the Eurostar bound for Paris. After a quick transfer to the regional station in Paris, we were on our way to Dijon. Hop, skip and a 40 minute drive from Dijon, we entered our home for the next week: Chateau du Tailly, a gorgeous 18th century block of three buildings (all of which could have been individual houses)…

So many stories, such a wonderful week. Ultimately, it was about two people: Joel and Marc whose love brought all of us together for this incredible experience. We wined and dined our way through an awe-inspiring week throughout Puligny, Chassagne, Beaune, Mersault and many more. More updates to follow but will leave you with this for now.

  

The main Chateau and my two lovely friends, Joel and Marc, who hosted us during the week:

My home for the week:

        

The winemaker at Chateau Lahaye allowing me to ‘break through the must’ on their newest harvest.

  

Cheers!

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Its time for spring holidays! An absolutely wonderful excuse to leave the office and the city for a few days of sun, sand and cocktails. Luckily, my chosen destination of Santorini Greece has it all: Sun (26 – 27 C for the entire time I’ll be there), Sand (yes, though we’ll be on a cliff so potentially I won’t see much of the stuff – that’s OK though as it always gets stuck in the most uncomfortable places), Cocktails (yep! and no, I am no longer 23 but I will likely still be trying out the local Ouzo…) and to top it all off – they have wineries! Read a bit more about Santorini wines here.

If you have suggestions on what to try while I’m there, let me know! Otherwise, hang tight for an update from me when I get back next week. Bring on the sun!

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Hold onto your glasses…Alaska airlines taunted me this morning by sending a great wine related deal through my inbox.
I a) live in Europe and thus have no ability to take advantage of this offer and b) don’t really like Alaska airlines anymore…even their 1st class feels like cattle class these days. But discounts on flights to Sonoma and Walla Walla from Seattle with discounts on hotels, free tasting tours and the ability to lug your case of wine home – checked in for free? That’s kind of exciting…
Can they get someone in Europe to pick up this trend? Please??

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My dad turned 70 this year. He’s still incredible – lots of energy, if only a bit slower moving. As I live in London and my parents are in my hometown of Seattle, I wasn’t able to do anything for his birthday (other than send him a lame card…which even still I never ended up doing. I had it labeled and ready but I really am that big of an oaf that it never made its way to the postal box). In exchange for my complete failure as a daughter, I decided to put on a wine-tasting for him while I was home over the Christmas break. My soon-to-be-in-laws were in town as well so we had a party of 6, making for the perfect social evening! Also my dad loves wine…maybe not as much as I do but he was my initial inspiration for learning more about wine. He knows his Washington reds very well and takes pride in the quality of wine the WA vineyards are creating. I hoped to showcase this for him but also show him a few other examples.
To set the stage, I picked out my dad’s favorite wines – Cabernet (from WA), Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and to a lesser extent Malbec. I didn’t know the winemakers very well so left it up to chance. Some were huge successes – others were complete failures.
I opened the tasting with the WSET approved method for tasting wine (showing off my wine knowledge just a bit…). Look, Smell, Taste and Rate. I talked them through what to look for and told them some basics around the different varietals that we would be tasting.
Overall it was a huge success – though I had to temper my soon-to-be-father-in-law who insists on slugging every tasting measure and can’t help but poke fun at anything and everything…but that is actually a huge part of what made this such a great celebration for my dad. He loves people and loves laughter – mix that with a whole lot of yummy wine and he’s in heaven.
Below are the wines that we tried, listed by our opinion of them (made easy – Love, Like, Nope). Prices range from $8USD – $20USD per bottle at the supermarket.
Love:
Parkers Estate Old Vine Street 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Like:
Horse Heaven Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Crest 2009
Renwood Syrah 2008
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2009
Nope:
Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009
Espuela del Gaucho Malbec, Limited Edition Reserve 2010

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Using my new favorite wine delivery service to prepare for my in-laws coming into town this weekend, I bought a case of wine a week ago. My goal? Keep the cost per bottle to £5 on average (keeping a look out for deals). I also wanted to buy a mix of red wine and sparkling (red = easy to find cheap bottles, sparkling = difficult).
One of the bottles that was already reasonably priced at £6.99, but which was on sale for £4.99 if you bought two, was the Neblina Carmenere (which I previously blogged about as being a new favorite). Naturally, I had to sample my purchases prior to the in-laws visit!!! Unfortunately, I ended up enjoying this bottle of wine SO MUCH that out of the three that I bought, only 1/2 a bottle is left to share with them…
Me thinks I’ll be ordering this one again – a good staple wine for your table. Works any day of the week though its a big, plummy, juicy wine with a dry finish and semi-strong tanins. The bottle recommends pasta and fresh cheeses – I drank it this evening with a toasted cheese sandwich and a bowl of potato and leek soup (from a can…).

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