December 5th: Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Wine Advent Calendar December 5th:  Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Here’s a story of a day when I got really mad and uppity.  My email inbox can be peppered with notes about new wines, new beers, new wine gadgets, new styles of tea, new books, new anythings to be honest.

One day I had an email from a London Chap. I’ll just call him a London Chap because the words I used on the day were much stronger and not to be repeated here.

So the said London Chap had written to tell me (and no doubt lots of other people on his group email) about a new wine website which was going to sell practically all the wines under the sun, at great prices and with no delivery charges.

Mmm. I thought. Might be a nice one for the readers to know about. I emailed  him back, tell me more I said.  He rang me. The reason he’d picked up the phone so quickly, he said, was because he saw on my email sign-off that I write for a few newspapers “in the regions” and … get this … he said …
“I forget that people in the regions also like to have a glass of wine now and again.”

I was furious. Though I stayed calm on the phone. How dare he patronise those of us who love wine but don’t live in London!! Needless to say I haven’t written anything about his new venture.

But it got me a-thinking. Generally lots of the trade shows and press tastings are in London and little ol’ me has to book time off from the day job and jump on trains to get down to them. It’s really worth the effort if I can get there, not just to sample the new wines that are coming on the market, but also to meet the PRs who generally are my information lifelines; plus I get to chat with other wine journos.

But there’s one retailer I visit Up North.  I’ve been over to the Co-op’s Manchester offices a couple of times now, to have a talk-through tasting with their buyers. It saves me going to London and Lo!! despite the Co-op being a northern company they know a thing or two about wine.  So up y****s Mr London Chap.

The very afternoon I’d sizzled with resentment at his comments, I was over in Manchester, talking about some Christmas wine options.

Here’s one of them.

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec wine review
My arty piccie of Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

What is it: It’s a red wine. I think you can see that. 

Where’s it from:  Argentina,  the Mendoza region – find out some techie stuff here.

I’ll tell you some more: I tried a handful of reds at the Co-op that Hereford Tempranillo Malbec reviewday; but the reason this one stayed with me was because later that night I went along to a malbec wine tasting at Dace, which is just round the corner from me.  I was destined to have a Big Fat Juicy Red kind of day. Sadly I mislaid my wine tasting notes from that night on the way home (yeh, right, been drinking had we Jane?)

The grapes: The Hereford is equal parts malbec – now hugely embraced by Argentina  – and tempranillo. In Spain, tempranillo is the mainstay of rioja wines

What of the taste?  This is a real mix of New World meeting Old World. The winemaker Gonzalo Abadia has taken these two classic grapes and blended them into a wine with young, fresh dark and red berries with a tumble of spice and ever-so slight hints of violets; all held together by a good acidity and tannins which don’t overpower. Great with a midweek winter beef stew when your toes are cold.

The small print. The wine is 12% abv, is unoaked and has a screwcap. The RRP is £6.69 and the wine is available nationwide at the Co-op.

Check out more wine choices in my 2016 Wine Advent Calendar here. Happy Christmas!

December 4th: De Bortoli Botrytis Semillon

Wine Advent Calendar December 4th:  De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

Here we are, December 4th, and my first sweet wine of the 24-day wine advent calendar countdown. You might not want a sweet wine; it’s Sunday so you might be wanting a red with your roast.  But let me get this out of my system because I love sweet wines.

Here’s the story of this one. When I go to walk-round wine tastings with my pal Cambo, tradition dictates that we start with sparkles, then head for the whites, then the reds, then finally make a beeline for the sweetie table which is the biggest treat of them all.

The sweetie this time was at a wine fair organised by the delightful Mike Stoddart, manager of Oddbins  in Liverpool and was held in the Crypt at Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral (nicknamed Paddy’s Wig Wam by the Scouse wags here).

I’d done a visual sweep of the room when I arrived – where were the sweeties? – and with ten minutes to go before “last orders” were called I headed to the  Australia table and smiled nicely at the young chap pouring tastings of the De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon.

The smile worked a treat, as you can see.

De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon
Eerrmm … yes. I asked the chap to pour a generous measure



De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon

What is it: It’s a dessert wine. I love, love, love, love, dessert wines. 

Where’s it from:  Australia. The region is Riverina  in New South Wales. Find out more  here

I’ll tell you some more: I fell in love with sweet wines when I visited De Bortoli Deen Vat 5 Botrytis SemillonSauternes a couple of years ago. The wines are delicious in themselves (it’s odd that I love them so much because I don’t have a sweet tooth when it comes to food) but more than anything I admire the way these wines are made. Patience and skill  beyond measure. And who on earth discovered that mouldy grapes could produce such amazing wines.

Eeeeek!! Mouldy? Well, yes.  Don’t look away in disgust just yet …. Botrytis cinerea is a mould which develops on grapes if the conditions are just right. It needs damp misty mornings and warm dry afternoons. The rot – known as noble rot – weakens grape skins, so the water evaporates, the grapes shrivel, and the sugars and acids intensify. The grapes are then hand-picked one by one over many days by incredibly patient people.

The grape: Semillon – other grape varieties are also susceptible to noble rot.

What of the taste?  Oh my.  It has aromas of marmalade, and apricots,  and honey, and lemon citrus, and pear, and vanilla, and  – oh – the taste – the same fruity sweet richness is offset by a cleansing acidity. Which sets you up nicely for another glass. Yummmmyyyy.

The small print. It is 11% abv and was marked at £9 for the 37.5cl bottle on the Australia table. Mike tells me he still has about a dozen bottles in the Liverpool Oddbins shop but you might have to hurry.

I’ve also found it here on Amazon for £45.57 for a case of six, which equates to about £7.60 each.

And you don’t have to think desserts for this wine. It would be perfect next to slithers of blue cheese.

Check out more wine choices in my 2016 Wine Advent Calendar here. Happy Christmas!
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