News, Expert Opinions and general chit chat from the world of wine

JN Wine Blog

What does ‘corked’ wine mean?

What does ‘corked’ mean? How and why does it happen?

Firstly, a corked wine does not refer to the little pieces of cork floating in the wine, this just happens if the cork is unscrewed badly, or it has disintegrated. A corked wine, or ‘cork taint’, means that the wine has been contaminated by a compound called TCA which is naturally occurring and can sometimes be found in cork as well as other wood, soil, vegetables etc. TCA forms when natural airborne fungi (that can live in the cork itself, or in the tree or barrels) come in contact with certain chlorophenol compounds (found in winery sanitation products as well as herbicides and pesticides) causing a reaction with pretty funky results! A wine affected by cork taint smells musty, like wet cardboard, wet dog, or a just a general, dank, stinkiness! The taste of the wine will be rather dull and flat, and the fruit characteristics will be lost. It is completely harmless to your health to drink a corked wine, but it won’t be much fun.

The statistics vary, as do the levels of detectable infection, but it is said that cork taint occurs in about 5% of wine that is sealed with a real cork, so you will, most likely, come across a few over the years of your imbibing career. As such, it is important to be able to spot it. It isn’t always detectable in the cork itself, it will be most noticeable in the smell and taste of the wine.

Sometimes a wine can be misconstrued as corked, when it is just the style it has been made in. Richer, oaked (white) wines may be misinterpreted as corked due to the buttery, toasty notes from the oak ageing process. The main way to differentiate between the two is that a corked wine has a really unpleasant smell, there is no doubt about that; if a wine is rich, toasty and oaky, it won’t smell foul, it might just be not your style. And that’s ok, discovering what you like and don’t like in the world of wine is fun.

But if you have been unfortunate enough to end up with a corked bottle of wine, the bad news is that there isn’t much you can do about it.  If you’re lucky enough to have a second bottle on stand-by, crack it open and enjoy it – chances of it also being corked are very low. Do keep the wine though, and return it to your wine merchant who will be happy to replace it.

Hope this helps!

Chateau Pontet Canet 2000 (RP 94points)

An unmissable opportunity has just arisen for us to purchase 10 cases (OWC x 12bts) of Alfred Tesseron’s legendary Chateau Pontet Canet 2000. Whether for drinking this year or putting away for another decade this wine is simply a surefire winner and a must-have for anyone interested in putting together a cellar.

Chateau Pontet Canet 2000 (RP 94points)

Direct from the Chateau

10 Cases x 12 only. £995 per case (under Bond) 

Outstanding Reviews

Wine Advocate #189, June 2010

''Upgraded in score over my original rating, which was several points lower, Alfred Tesseron has done a remarkable job since 1994 with Pontet-Canet, which has been hitting first-growth levels since  2003. But the 2000 also shows exceptionally well. In need of another decade of cellaring, this dense purple wine has a classic nose of incense, charcoal, creme de cassis, and subtle new oak. Full-bodied, powerful, still very tannic, and shockingly backward, this is a big, rich wine that has put on weight and seems to need more time than I originally predicted.’’ Anticipated maturity: 2015-2035+.

Robert M. Parker, Jr. 94+ Points.

Wine Advocate #146, April 2003

''Like its neighbour, Mouton Rothschild, this wine seems to have closed down considerably after bottling. The impressively saturated opaque purple color offers up some promising aromas of black currants, vanilla, truffle, smoke, and mineral. In the mouth, it is full-bodied, powerful, layered, and enticingly textured, but oh, so backward and firm. The finish is long, but this broodingly backward, large-scaled Pontet-Canet will require considerable patience. Does it rival the brilliant 1995 or 1996? I am not sure.'' Anticipated maturity: 2011-2030. 

Robert M. Parker, Jr. 92 Points.

Asian Palate, July 2014

''A powerful Pontet-Canet with wonderful concentration and depth with layered dark berry and spicy flavours. Still youthful, this wine is perfect now for those who prefer wines with ripe fruit characters and who appreciate more subtlety. This wine will be at its best in 3-5 years time.'' Tasted in: Bordeaux, France. Maturity: Drink.

Jeannie Cho Lee.

*We will allocate strictly on a first come, first served basis. 
*Confirmation on payment by debit / credit card.
*Wine will arrive In Bond Belfast 1st week of March. 
*Customers can then choose whether to store under bond or take delivery (in which case the prevailing VAT and duty rates will apply).

To purchase please email:
Or call 028 44 830091 Mon – Sat 9am – 7pm.

Unveiled - the perfect wedding wines for your special day.

Your wedding day – it’s the best and most stressful day of your life.  It can bring out the Bridezilla/Groom Kong in all of us if you let it!  Amongst all the dresses, suits, place settings and flowers to sort out two of the most important things to organise are food and drink.  Here at JN we offer a personalised wedding service to help you find the perfect wines for your big day. 

We are often asked - what is the best wine to drink at a wedding? The answer from most brides and mother of the brides is lots of Champagne (as the father of the bride looks on nervously!).  But what if, like most people, lots of Champagne isn’t in the budget? Most couples use fizz for the toast only, so calm down fathers of the bride; you shouldn’t need that much to see you through.  You should be able to fill 8-10 glasses with one bottle of your chosen sparkler (see dads, we’re saving you money). 

We offer lots of great alternatives to Champagne such as our ever popular JN Fizz or what about a great Prosecco? In my eyes it’s hard to beat our Prosecco Doc Spumante. It’s delicate but packed full of fresh fruit flavour.

JN Sparkling NV

J N Sparkling N V

£12.75 / €22.99


Prosecco Doc Spumante

Prosecco Doc Spumante Pk6

£10.50 / €19.99


When it comes to picking the wine that will be drank with the meal there are a few things to think about.  What food is the wine going to be paired with?  What wine do you like to drink?  Is there a wine that means something to you or your partner?   What wine would the majority of your guests like?  This can be tricky as it’s likely your guests will range from ages 18-80.  So to make this selection easier you can try before you buy as part of our wedding service.  This is a sit down consultation with one of our members of staff to discuss all you wedding wine needs.  We also offer free delivery and sale or return.

A few of our most popular white wedding wines:

Long Beach Chardonnay

Long Beach Chardonnay 2014

£7.95 / €11.99


Bellevue Sauvignon

Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Pk6

£9.35 / €13.99


Dog Point Sauvignon

Dog Point Sauvignon 2014

£15.99 / €21.99


And our top red wedding wines:

Viña Bujanda Tinto

Vina Bujanda Joven 2013

£8.35 / €12.75


Secateurs Red

Secateurs Red Blend 2012 Pk6

£10.35 / €14.99


Coste Chaude Madrigal

Domaine Coste Chaude Madrigal 2012

£10.99 / €16.75 


During your wedding consultation at JN Wine we will help you narrow down your choices and help you decide how much wine you actually need.  Of course it all depends on number of guests, time of wedding and how long your shindig is going to last. Every couple and wedding is different so don’t hesitate to give us a call on 02844830091 or drop us an email to, we’re happy to help.

The heavenly wines of Roc des Anges

Marjorie Gallet doesn’t do small talk, nor does she wax lyrical about the wines she labours to craft in the rugged foothills of the Pyrenees. She will give you the facts and leave you to taste because her wines will give you everything you need … and more.

These are complex, challenging wines, a world away from the transparency of varietal brands. The names will confuse you – Segna de Cor, Llum, les Trabasseres, Fagayra – these are ancient Catalan names. Why? Because they offer the best expression of the terroir which is what she wants to reflect in her wines. And what a terroir: their 18 hectare vineyard lies on schist which dates back 570 million years. She and her husband Stephane have shared the goal of recreating the most natural wines possible from indigenous Catalan varieties, native to Roussillon.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Marjorie and her brother at Millesime Bio, the bi-annual organic wine fair which took place recently in Montpellier. The range of wines is mind boggling – it took all my concentration and my faculties to take in the nuances and details of such an original line-up! So let’s concentrate on the wines you can buy from us!

Effet Papillon – the Butterfly Effect

This accessible trio is a great introduction to Marjorie’s winemaking style. Although not grown on the estate, she oversees the viticulture and winemaking:

Effet Papillon Blanc 2012- £9.99 / £8.99 This is a 100% Grenache Blanc planted on red clay and rounded stone soils on vineyards quite close to the sea. The fruit is harvested quite early to retain freshness. It was matured in stainless steel vats and bottled early (February 2013), producing a taut, crisp wine. The wine should be served at 6°C to be at its best. Great for aperitifs or to accompany summer salads.

Effet Papillon Blanc 2012 Pk6


Effet Papillon Rouge 2012 - £9.99 / £8.99 This is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan planted on schist soils from the Agly valley. It is fermented and matured in stainsteel vats to retain freshness and fruit appeal. A great wine for barbecues and light lunches.

Effet Papillon Rouge 2012 Pk6


Effet Papillon Rose 2013 - £9.99 / £8.99 A wonderful accompaniment to salads or light fish dishes, it shows hints of strawberries with an intriguing mineral undertone - just spot on for sipping in the garden.

Effet Papillon Rose 2013 Pk6


White wines

Llum 2013 (new to JN wine. Available Spring 2015)- the name is Catalan for “Light”. A blend of Grenache gris and Maccabeu. Minerally nose with notes of wild fennel. On the palate it is tense, nervous and firm, a serious wine with an air of noblesse. It will appeal to lovers of young white Burgundy. Very saline, harmonious and very long

Red wines

Segna de Cor 2013 – £14.95 / £13.46  -  The name means “blood of the heart” in Catalan. It is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 20% Syrah. There is a wonderful purity to this wine. Fine cherry fruit and garrigue herbs with a firm acidic structure and an extremely long finish. Decant before drinking. Will keep another 5 – 8 years.

Reliefs (pronounced rel-ee-eff!) 2013 – £19.99 / £17.96

60% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah. This cuvee is made from some of the oldest vines on the estate. It starts gently on the front palate but builds to a crescendo of dense black fruit which Marjorie assures me will melt into the wine by Springtime.


1903 Carignan 2008 – £29.50 / £26.55

Made 100% from ancient Carignan, it is rich, chocolatey with loads of glycerine on the palate, harmonious, sumptuous with silky tannins and a long spicy finish. Drink now – 2017.

Roc Des Anges Carignan 1903, 2008 Pk 6


Vin doux naturels (sweet wines)

Fagayra Red 2012 - £29.50 / £26.55 This is a "Vin Doux Naturel" (translating as "naturally sweet") from the Maury area. Maury is on high inland schist at the northern limit of the Côtes du Roussillon-Villages area in the Agly valley. Vins doux naturels are made by artificially arresting the conversion of grape sugar to alcohol by adding spirit before fermentation is complete, thereby incapacitating yeasts with alcohol and making a particularly strong, sweet wine. At Roc des Anges, the alcohol is added at mid-fermentation to produce a fleshier wine with well integrated alcohol. Although the alcohol comes in at 16.5%, it is unobtrusive and the wine is round with soft tannins.

This wine is crafted from 60-year-old Grenache Noir vines and matured in small stainless steel tanks. After bottling it completes its maturation for a further 4 months. It will accompany a wide range of cheeses, especially well salted examples. It will also partner Asian cuisine and is the perfect foil to chocolate.

"Absolutely loaded with fruit, the 2012 Maury Grenat offers tons of blackberry jam and creamy licorice to go with a full-bodied, voluptuously textured feel on the palate. Pure, fresh and hard to resist, enjoy it over the coming 5-7 years. 90 pts." (Jeb Dunnock for Robert Parker)

Roc Des Anges Fagayra Red 2012 Pk6


Fagayra Blanc 2008 / 2010 – £29.99 / £26.99

This is a "Vin Doux Naturel" (translating as "naturally sweet") from the Maury area. 60-year-old Grenache Gris and Maccabeu grapes provide the raw materials for this sensational wine of which only 2600 bottles were produced. Only indigenous yeasts were used in fermentation after which the wine was aged in cuves (large vats). Suggested food matches include foie gras, cheeses and desserts based on white- or yellow-fleshed fruit.


The Perfect Wine for a Gift

Wine Can Always Make A Good Gift

Wine as a gift has many guises. Taking a bottle to dinner to show appreciation, picking a special bottle(s) to celebrate an occasion, a case of a specific vintage marking an anniversary it goes on and on….

And when it comes to choosing the wine for a gift we can help you narrow the selection to hopefully picking something that a) won’t get left on the shelf b) passed on to the next dinner host c) be consumed without notice.

If you know the recipient well, this can be easy-especially if you visit your local independent wine merchant. If you know the grape variety favoured, a well educated advisor will show you safe options and hopefully include a couple of alternatives (of course still taking into consideration the style that the recipient enjoys). For example here in Crossgar a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc such as Heart of Stone is a popular safe option for those who enjoy that style. An alternative to this would be something like the Soalheiro Alvarinho-intensely flavoured with stone fruits. I know I like gifts that take me out of my comfort zone.

Soalheiro Alvarinho

Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013 Pk6

£13.50 / €18.49


The hard part comes when you don’t really know the recipient all that well.

But there are always clues to look out for. I like this bit - I'd make a great wine sleuth.

-Have they talked about where they holiday? If they spend every summer in the south of France then a southern French bottle may be a good start.

Lascaux Domaine Cavalier Blanc

Lascaux Domaine Cavalier Blanc 2013

£9.75 / €14.50


-Maybe you have been at their house for dinner twice before and you have had Spanish style food both times-it’s a good bet that a Spanish wine would complement the food they like to eat.

Bod. Paco Garcia Rioja Crianza

Bod. Paco Garcia Rioja Crianza 2010 Pk6

£13.50 / €18.99 


-It is a big birthday coming up and all you know is they were born in 1975 and they are always reminiscing about 1993, the year they travelled Australasia and had not a care in the world.

Kilikanoon M Reserve

Kilikanoon M Reserve 2006 Pk6

£39.99 / €51.95


The most important thing to remember is that a good wine merchant’s staff can do the work for you. We are here to ask the right questions, look for clues, recognise specific vintages, match wine to food, pick out wine regions, and choose a gift that will always be savoured. And of course we can wrap for you.