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

JN Wine Blog

Try it now and thank us later

 

White port and tonic? I first heard of the idea when a keen Portuguese wine drinker mentioned it to me at a tasting event, and I politely nodded my head in agreement while trying to hide my bafflement at the unusual combination. More fool me – it is now my summer drink of choice! Although I didn’t take much convincing – the first time I tried it, and was subsequently hooked, was after a long hot day in the Douro valley, in the stunning surroundings of Quinta de la Rosa.

 

Port wine is a sweet wine, fortified with brandy or other spirits, and it is one of the most famous exports of Portugal. Its lesser known compatriot is white port, made in the same method from any of the local white varieties permitted in the blend. If you are yet to experience the delights of white port – I’d say this is a great place to start, particularly while the sun is shining! It’s a perfect apéritif – the port is slightly sweet, gently herbaceous, and still has a lightness and a freshness you might not expect. Try and pair it with a less-sweet, higher-quinine tonic water to balance out the flavours, such as Fever Tree. Mix 1 part port to 2 parts tonic water, pour over ice and garnish with a slice of orange. You can thank me later.

 


JN Special - small parcel of mature, drinking Bordeaux available. First come, first served!

 

On a recent trip to Bordeaux we had the opportunity to try numerous wines from a wide range of districts and producers.  One of the parcels we snapped up was this deliciously mature red from the Lisrac district.

 

The Chateau itself.

Recognised as one of the great Cru Bourgeois properties, Fourcas Hosten is situated in the appellation of Listrac in the Medoc, often referred to as the 'roof of the Medoc' due to its location 45 metres above sea level.  We purchased this very special parcel from the very good 2004 vintage during a visit and tasting in May this year.  It is a mix of equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with 10% Cabernet Franc making up the balance. Absolutely deliciously fresh, with abundant fruit and those fabulous mature notes of ripe and ready blackberry.  Perfect now and over the next 2 years.

Renaud & Laurent Mommeja

This is great value and I am so delighted with the quality that in the unlikely event you are not completely satisfied I am happy to offer a refund for your first bottle and take back any unopened bottles.  Our price is around 33% less than the general market.  Hurry!  Only 600 bottles available.

 

 

Single bottle price is normally £12.99 or €18.99.  Fantastic savings available for purchases of either 6 or 12 bottles.

6 bottle offer: £69.00 or €89.00.

Click here to find out more

12 bottle offer: £125.00 or €165.00. 

Click here for full details

 


Gorgeous Grenache

Character

Grenache is an appealing sort of a grape.  It has lovely fruit character, it is medium bodied and it has soft tannins and a juicy texture.  The flavour of Grenache is usually in the red fruit category – red cherries, red plums, strawberry and so on.  In terms of texture, it’s sort of plump and jolly.  In the vast majority of cases, Grenache is blended to give it more structure, colour and flavour, all of which help beef it up a bit. 

Best areas

In France Grenache lives in the southern Rhône and in the Languedoc/Roussillon areas.  This sun loving variety loves these warm and mild climates where it positively thrives.  The most famous wine in the southern Rhône is of course Châteauneuf du Pape (Grenache being only 1 of the 13 varieties permitted in these wines), and as well as all the Côtes du Rhône reds, there are of course the fabulous areas of Lirac, Vacqueyras, Gigondas and so on to explore too. The gorgeous vins doux naturels red dessert wines of Maury in the Roussillon are made from Grenache.  Outside of France, it is widely planted in Spain where it is known as Garnacha.   As for the new world Rhône style blends are to be found in South Africa, California and in Australia which is home to some of the oldest Grenache and Syrah vines in the world.

Blending

Grenache is rarely the single ingredient in a wine.  Its traditional partners are Syrah (aka Shiraz) and Mourvèdre (this holy trinity is often referred to as a GSM blend).  Carignan and Cinsault are also often involved, particularly in the Languedoc and Roussillon.  In Rioja, Tempranillo is the principle grape, but is blended with Garnacha and Mazuela.

Grenache also lends itself to making rather delicious rosé wines.

Food matching

Southern Rhône reds go brilliantly with roasted meats and stews.  Because the wines don’t have huge tannins, they need softer, well cooked meats.

Glazed ham or gammon with cloves is pretty spectacular with a GSM blend, either from France or Australia.

Languedoc Grenache blends go brilliantly with stews and casseroles.

Maury and dark chocolate is a match made in heaven.

New world GSM or a gutsy southern Rhône version is great with marinated BBQ ribs.

Excellent Examples

Unblended

Gayda Cepage Grenache, Languedoc         Artadi Artazuri Garnacha, Spain

 

                                       

Artadi Santa Cruz Artazu, Spain        Artadi Artazuri Rosado, Spanish rosé

                                                 

Blends

Southern Rhône

Côtes du Rhône Les Armoiries            Domaine Coste Chaude Côtes du Rhône

                               

Domaine Grapillon d’Or Gigondas                L’Ameillaud Cairanne

                              

 

Joncier Lirac Les Muses

Languedoc/Roussillon

Gayda Freestyle Rouge                          Negly La Falaise Red

                         

Lascaux Red Classique                   Domaine Modat Comme Avant

                     

Spain

Clos d’Agon, Catalunya

New World

Kilikanoon The Medley GSM            Cline Cashmere GSM

                

A. A. Badenhorst Family Red         Secateurs Red Blend

              


The Ultimate Summer Sparklers from Gusbourne Estate.

English sparkling wine has been making some waves of late. Not too long ago the wines were arguably more functional than thrilling, but rather than working against nature there are estates harnessing the cool climate to create top quality sparkling wines. Finesse and delicacy are key to creating quality sparkling wines. Big flavours and lots of fruit/sugar/alcohol go against the grain where fizz is concerned. Whereas elsewhere in the world they resort to picking early and seeking out cool sites, the warmer parts of the south of England are rather conducive to growing grapes that are ideal for this purpose.

Gusbourne first came to our attention at an awards dinner at the end of last year when they picked up the IWSC trophy for English Wine Producer of the Year. That of course prompted a conversation, which lead to a tasting, which lead to a lot of smiling faces, which lead to a new range of sparkling wines landing on our shelves. Gusbourne is a family-owned estate in Kent, the garden of England.

They are absolutely committed to quality production which is evident in their beautifully tended vines, and top notch winemaking. The wines are made from the same grapes that are used in Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and the wines are made by the same process that the Champagne houses use. This traditional method involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle which creates the bubbles and Gusbourne keep the wine on the lees for 36 months or more (9 months is standard in many parts of the world) which imparts more autolytic flavours from the decaying yeasts (sounds grim but is actually very desirable) and gives the wine more complexity and depth.

Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2009

A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. “Richly autolytic nose, sweet dough, baked apple – very traditional, and convincing. Really fine balance and lengthy finish.  A classic. 17 pts.” (Richard Hemming writing for Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages, 6 May 2014).

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Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2009

100% Chardonnay creating a delicate, green apple and citrus flavour profile with notes of toast, hazelnuts and baked apple. The star of the line up as far as the JN taste team were concerned. 

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Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2010

Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. “Pale orange-pink. Complex, developed nose with nice autolytic character. Ripe and biscuity – crowd-pleasing but not confected. Creamy, and with good length too. 17 points.” (Richard Hemming for Jancis Robinson Purple Pages 6 May 2014).

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Gusbourne Pinot Noir 2011

A still red made from their estate grown grapes and possibly the best English red wine that Jancis Robinson has ever tasted!

 

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Quinta de Soalheiro - Possibly the finest Alvarinho?

You may have grown accustomed to the flavour profile of Spanish Albarino – crisp acidity and bright, citrus flavours laced with fleshy peach/apricot notes – the same grape variety thrives just across the border in Portugal in the regions of Monçao and Melgaço, where it is known as Alvarinho. The wine here has the same lean force as its Spanish counterpart, but with an extra dimension of amplitude and complexity.

In the hills of Melgaço lies one of the finest estates of all – Quinta de Soalheiro. Having fully converted to organic practices in recent years, the estate has been steadily building a reputation for producing the finest Alvarinhos in northern Portugal. During a recent visit to Soalheiro, Jim met with João and his son Luis and was impressed by their skilled winemaking and the purity, elegance and quality of the wines they produce. He has chosen four of their finest wines to bring a little sunshine to our shores!

Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho 2013

The 2013 vintage is described by Luis as a special harvest showing the purity of the Alvarinho fruit and striking a perfect balance between minerality and elegance. The end result seems quite brilliant. Soalheiro 2013 exudes delightful aromas with a palate that exhibits minerality and great elegance. Use as an aperitif or to accompany seafood, fish or poultry dishes.

Recommended in the Observer by David Williams who described the wine as “poised and peachy” (Observer, 4 May 2014).

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Quinta de Soalheiro ‘Allo’ Alvarinho-Loureiro 2012

‘Allo’ is an abbreviation of the 2 grapes used in the blend, and stands for Alvarinho and Loureiro, two key varieties of the region. Delicate ripe spicy citrus and greengage fruit, subtle, with hints of minerality, perfectly dry, refreshing and full of personality. Low alcohol of 11% abv makes it the ideal lunchtime wine.

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Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Reserva 2012

Amazing as it seems to some people, there are Vinho Verdes that actually age and develop. Fermentation and ageing take place in French oak. The wine is elegant, full-flavoured and complex while maintaining the freshness and fruit of Alvarinho grape.

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Quinta de Soalheiro Alvarinho Espumante 2011

This is a really classy sparkling wine made in the traditional method - a second fermentation in bottle is followed by the various procedures that are followed in Champagne production. Lovely aromas, very elegant and well balanced.

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