Bretta & Co wine tasting: My picks of the reds and whites

You’ve got to admire someone who follows their dream.  A few years ago Gary Adlen was on a business trip and found himself in a  New York bar which not only served food, but also had its own deli.

He dreamed of doing the same in his home town of Liverpool – and now he has,  together with his sister, Bretta. Now we can all enjoy the results of their shared enthusiasm at Bretta & Co (we can see what they did there).

Their latest step is selling wine online, and I was pleased to  be invited for a tipple taste test. It was a challenge, I know.

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Some whites from the Bretta tasting
  • We kicked off with a zippy white, a  verdejo from Bodegas Viore, with grapes from the  Toro region (which was definitely new to me).  A perfect zingy start to an evening, tropical, fresh, and mouth-watering.  (Find it in the Six Spanish Wines choice, £95)
  • The quality continued with the mineral, crisp, Klein Pinot Gris (£14.95) Now I’m always a pushover for a German grauburgunder (yes, it’s the same  – a pinot gris) and this had beautiful aromas of lychee and lemons with flavours that lasted and lasted.
  • Rene Mire Gewurtztraminer (£13.45) Wow, I’m pushed over again. Two of my favourite wines in one tasting.  There were clouds of rose petals rising from the glass, but with a little spicy spike of ginger in the background in this wine from Alsace. It wasn’t too sweet and had nice clean acidity.

bretta & co red wines liverpool

A couple of reds from the Bretta tasting
  • Old School Chateau-Maris Minervois (£13.95) is a blend of syrah (90 per cent) and grenache – both grown biodynamically. Neither grapes are known for being shy; they’re full on flavoursome and proud. Here they combine to create a peppery, fresh juicy nose with a “what IS that in the background” question from me. I decided it was sage. This wine is fruit, fruit, fruit all the way.

  •  Camino Terra Remota (£14.99) is Spanish and flamencos with flavours. It’s no surprise, as its a blend of four bold grapes; garnacha, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo, each bringing their own character and personality.  There’s vanilla-edged cherry aromas – there’s white pepper too – and wet leaves. It tasted (I thought) of an earthy hot pot of  red fruits, with the mix of flavours reminding me of a red from the Rhone Valley.
Bretta & Co is on Heathfield Street, just off Bold Street, in Liverpool. It has an extensive deli and range of wines in store, as well as on line, and regularly holds tastings.  Click here to check out their events

Ten Christmas fizz ideas (because we all love wine and bubbles)

It’s time to brush up on the lyrics to those classic Christmas tunes; pop on the Christmas jumper and have a jolly good time with your chums, your workmates and your nearest and dearest. There’s no better way to add  sparkle to your festive fun than with some Christmas fizz.

Christmas fizz, glass of bubbles


Christmas fizz: Cava and Moscato

Camoli Moscato (£4.99, Aldi) The word “dolce” on the label means “sweet” – but don’t turn your nose up just yet. Pop this in the fridge and give it a humdinger of a good chill and at only 6% abv it’ll tingle your senses at the start of an evening without slam-dunking them into shock before all your pals arrive. Also a great tastebud tease with pudding.

Codorníu Cuvée Barcelona Brut (RRP £12.99 Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) Cava is made in the same way as champagne but with different grapes and has more flavour and complexity than prosecco. This has aromas of ripe red apples, ribboned with orange zest, and citrus flavours really zing. Hide it behind the tree and keep to yourself.


Christmas fizz: Champers under £20

Bissinger Champagne Premier Cru  (Lidl, £15.99) This is a shiver of fizz which is lovely as an aperitif.  Go on then, pour as the family arrives on Christmas Day. The grapes come from some of the best vineyards in the Champagne region and the winemakers have used them to make a Champers which is fruity, fresh and not too dry.

Les Pionniers Non-Vintage Champagne (The Co-op, £16.99)  This has just been named best non-vintage bubbly by Which?, beating brands including Lanson and Veuve Clicquot. Breathe in the aromas of pears and ripe red apples which fizz out of the glass with a zesty pippety-pop while also delivering a backbone shiver.

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 Extra Special Louis Bernard Vintage Champagne (Asda, £18, down from £30, until December 31) I love this vintage champers from Asda. It is one of the most mouthwatering supermarket vintages I’ve tried. Great price too for a bundle of citrus, tropical fruit and those familiar warming brioche aromas.

Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (Tesco, £18)  If you like your champagne dry with no syrupy sweetness then this is the drink for you. Any drier and you’d be spitting dust. Don’t let the bubbles fool you, this is a hardcore, no-nonsense champagne packed with bold flavours.

J de Telmont Grande Réserve NV (Majestic, £19.99 or a bulk buy Mix Six Price of £13.32} This fizz leans towards fruity as opposed to complex flavours of  brioche and comforting warm bakeries. It’s a lovely Champagne though, crisp and refreshing.


If you enjoy prosecco, click here. You know you want to.

Christmas fizz: Champers over £20

Gimonnet-Gonet Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Or (£23.50, Your Sommelier) Your Sommelier is an independent online retailer which ships French wines over to the UK, including this family-owned Champers.  This is a blanc de blancs, which means it is a Champagne made entirely from chardonnay  – it was delicious with a couple of raspberries popped in the glass. Your Sommelier is running a special flash Christmas sale until December 21.

Jacquart Brut Rosé Mosaique (Sainsbury’s, £35) I took this along to a gathering of   girlie friends  – sometimes its rude not to share the love.  It’s a pink – and girls love pink sparkles. Well, not always, as they can be hyper sweet, but this one is dry and fresh with delicate bubbles which tinkle happily for a good while.

Champagne Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvée (www.spiritedwines.co.uk, £38)  This is a champers to savour, not to hurry, no matter how giddy you are wearing your party hat. There’s crisp flavours of apples and citrus with brisk and bright aromas of grapefruit and apples.

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Some of these reviews were first  published in the saturday extra magazine December 5, 2015

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

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