Wine news is good news as the days grow longer and warmer (we hope)

Prosecco SO organic Extra Dry Sainsbury wine news

I love this time of year when everything is so new again; there’s a fresh start as the sun warms and the days get longer.  Well, I’m not so sure about the sun bit yet, but you know what I mean. It’s a busy time in the wine world too, with lots of springtime wine news and things happening.

Wine news:Organic range from Sainsbury

Sainsbury has extended its organic range with the addition of a prosecco, a sauvignon blanc and a French rosé.

This comes on the heels of the wines So Organic Malbec (£6.50), So Organic Côtes du Rhône (£7.50) and So Organic Merlot (£6.50) which launched last November. Sainsbury say they saw a 25% jump in demand for organic wines last year, which they believe is driven by younger customers.

So Organic Prosecco (£10, 11% abv) isn’t cheap when you consider how much you can spend on a bottle of prosecco these days. It’s not a DOCG designated wine (the top style of wine in Italy) unlike my favourite prosecco from Sainsbury, Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco which comes in at around the same price.

Saying that, I shared a sniff and a dip of So Organic Prosecco with some girlie friends, including lots of swirling and chatting, and the aromas got a thumbs-up; pears, tropical fruit, a little bit of cinnamon (I don’t know where that came from) and freshly sliced apples. The label on So Organic Sauvignon Blanc (£6.50, 13.5% abv) declares the wine has “citrus and grapefruit flavours and a delicate herbaceous note” but I found the opposite. It is from Spain and the sun-dappled grapes have delivered a wine of tropical fruits, guava and a hint of nectarine. So Organic French Rosé (£6.50, 13.5% abv) is grenache-based and has  squishy strawberry aromas with a hint of spice.

Wine news: DOmaines et Chateaux range in tesco

Domaine Bariol 2016 wine news

Over at Tesco, a new selection from Domaines et Chateaux has arrived on the shelves.

The team searches for smaller parcels of French wines and once they’re sold out, that’s it, they’re gone. I read today that that is something called WIGIG – when its gone its gone.  It sounded more like a 70s folk group to me.  Hey ho.

My favourite of the new four wines I tasted was Domaine Bariol 2016 (£9, 13% abv), a white from the Côtes du Rhône. It is a blend of marsanne and viognier and has a nose of white peach and honeysuckle with a peep of candied fruit.

Those same notes carry through to the flavours and it was pretty much spot-on with my Sunday afternoon roast chicken and buttery bacon and cabbage.

Wine news: Cono Sur Bicicleta lifts its game

Meanwhile one of my reliable go-to wine brands, Cono Sur Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir wine newsBicicleta, is having a makeover. New bottles with a bicycle embossed in the glass are out next month with a nod to making the wine a little more premium. The bicycles are a tribute to the vineyard workers who travel around the Chilean vineyards on bikes.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir (RRP £7.49, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Co-op, 13.5% abv) is the UK’s best-selling pinot noir and its notes of strawberry, violets and cherries are smooth and tempting.

Wine news: ALDI launches weekday helpings of wine

Aldi half bottles 50cl bottles

Finally, Aldi has brought out a new range of half-bottles for those weekday nights when you fancy a tipple with supper but you don’t want a full bottle calling “finish me, finish me”. The wines are Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir and Malbec and they are £2.99 for 37.5cl.

Let’s raise a glass to Spring! Yay!!

First published in over 30 Trinity Mirror regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Cute doggie alert! (Oh, and taking the mystery out of Bordeaux wines)

bordeaux wines

One of the giddiest things I do when I’m visiting vineyards is to look for the winery doggie and then take as many photographs of the said doggie. I had a giddy moment a few weeks ago in France, while discovering Bordeaux wines.

Bordeaux wines - Eau de Vie Chateau Pitray
The beautiful Eau de Vie at Château Pitray

The most beautiful little bundle of fur called Eau de Vie was padding around her master Jean De Boigne at Château Pitray and I was mesmerised. I was also mesmerised by the château itself; it was veiled in fog, dew was on the ground and the gothic architecture was framed by grey skies and trees whose autumnal leaves were beginning to wilt and lazily drift to the ground.

Bordeaux wines Chateau Pitray

This, I thought, is pretty special. Surely the wines from here are going to be so out of my usual price bracket?  Well no, definitely not.

One of the misconceptions about Bordeaux wines is that the majority of prices are in the premier league; but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact only 5% of wines from Bordeaux are “exclusive”; the rest are very much affordable.

I recalled that moment this week because I’ve been asked two questions and each began with “what do you think of  ….”

The first question came as I was wriggling around two people wearing adult-sized cuddly animal costumes. In a moment of sanity I was asked: “What do you think of a merlot and cabernet sauvignon blend? Is it rare? Is it difficult to find?”

Well no, the blend IS NOT rare, it is at the heart of Bordeaux red wine and even better, the wines are SO EASY to find.

The second question came when I’d nipped out to buy tea bags and instead ended up in my local pub having a sneaky glass of wine. That old excuse.

“What do you think of claret?” I was asked. “We had a bad bottle of supermarket claret and we’ve never tried claret since,” I was told.

Oh dear, such a shame.  Claret is a traditional term to describe red Bordeaux wine and I can only assume that my lovely pub companions had picked up a bottle of generic supermarket-branded claret which had put them off this wonderful region.

Those two questions have taken me back to Château Pitray and my ponderings on the mystique of Bordeaux wines. Do people really think the wines are out of reach OF THEIR NORMAL LIFE both in price and availability? It actually couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’ve never dipped your toe (or preferably your nose) into a Bordeaux red wine (a claret) then here’s some pointers.

Bordeaux wines: The reds

The red wines in Bordeaux are blended mainly from merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc although some other regional grapes are allowed to make an appearance.

You might have heard of the terms right bank and left bank.  In left bank wines, cabernet sauvignon leads from the front. The wines are called left bank because the vineyards sit to the left of the Garonne River (imagine a map, and the left bank is in the west, next to the  Atlantic Ocean).

Look for names on the label such as Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Pauillac, Margaux and Saint-Estèphe. The wines typically have notes of blackcurrant with leather, spice, wood and hedgerows.

If you prefer fruitier reds then right bank wines (vineyards are on the right of the River Dordogne) are probably for you. Here the softer merlot is the king of the blend. Look for Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Bourg, Blaye and Fronsac among others.  

Honestly, please give them a go.  To help lift this mystique around Bordeaux wines the team at  Bordeaux Wines UK has created an Everyday Bordeaux list which includes 175 wines found easily in many UK retailers. Head to to check out the wines (all priced between £6-20). You can follow @BordeauxWinesUK  on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Wines from Château de Pitray can be found at from around £8.50 a bottle and at Majestic for about £12.99 a bottle.

Think of little Eau de Vie should you sip one.

Find out more about Château de Pitray here