December 5th: Hereford Tempranillo Malbec

Hereford Tempranillo Malbec wine review

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.


Summer wine: Six wine choices for when the sun peeks out

Cruset Sparkling Blanc de Blancs NV summer wine

It’s sunny outside. I’m happy. At the risk of tempting fate, I bring you summer wine choices – two sparkling, two whites and two reds – to enjoy while the sun shines and as autumn beckons.

Summer wine to cheer up  a staycation

Beau Beaujolais 2014 (12.5% abv, Majestic,  £8.99 or £7.99 in a Mix Six deal) The dog was having a holiday haircut (it cost more than mine!) and I spotted a Majestic Wine Warehouse across the road which tempted me. I like to browse wine shops, not shoe shops. I left the store clutching this beaujolais, whose gamay grapes are grown in limestone hills north of Lyon. It’s the basic style of  all the Beaujolais appellations and does what it says on the vin – it has fresh red fruits on the nose, is very easy to drink with a raspberry ripple and a subtlety of spice.

Beau Beaujolais 2014 summer wines
Beau Beaujolais 2014

Domaine de Sainte Rose Coquille d’Oc Blanc 2014 (13% abv, Waitrose, £7.49) This wine is a blend of four grapes, with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc having the majority share, and viognier and muscat tugging at the tailcoats. This is a lovely white for summer, so it’s a shame the summer was evading me when I tried it. It has a mix of peach, citrus and floral notes on the nose and then to taste the grapes deliver a touch of their own characters, zesty, creamy, and with flavours of both stone and citrus fruits. Very drinkable.

Summer wine with sparkles

Cruset Sparkling Blanc de Blancs NV (11% abv, The Co-op, £5.99) The price and the “blanc de blancs” tempted me as the latter indicated quality, the former indicated a bargain. This is a French take on prosecco – simple unassuming bubbles with simple floral aromas and a simple citrus taste from a blend of chardonnay, airen and muscat. It was more like blank de blancs but pleasant enough.

Brown Brothers Cienna 2013 (6.5% abv,, £9.95) I sipped this spritzy Australian wine with ice cubes (I know, sacrilege) and flavours are akin to a sangria but without the oomph. The cienna grape  – created by scientists from cabernet sauvignon and sumoll – is at the heart of this sweet ruby-red wine laden with red berries and blackberries. It’s a pretty wine, and would be lovely with summer pudding or fruit-smothered meringue.

Summer wine from award-winning Wine Society

Léon Beyer Sylvaner 2014 (12% abv, £8.50) Sylvaner is  one of the main varieties in Alsace where it holds its head up higher than in Germany, where it is typically used in liebfraumilch. Ugh. This white has pear aromas, apple flavours, a hum of honey and  a savoury note. I’d cooked chicken stuffed with lemon and herbs and it was a perfect match.

Léon Beyer Sylvaner review
Léon Beyer Sylvaner

Altano Douro White 2015 (13% abv £9.99) Here is a bright white from Symington Family Estates which is better known as a key port producer. The wine is a blend of  fina, viosinho,  rabigato, códega de Larinho and moscatel galego, grown in the Douro Valley. It has vibrant aromas of  peach and pear and in the mouth those same stone fruit flavours sing with juiciness.  A decent acidity is a good counter-balance. A summer night must-have.

The society ( has won Online Retailer of the Year and Wine Merchant of the Year at the 2016 International Wine Challenge.

Summer wine … well, I like reds

Beronia Reserva 2011 (14% abv, Waitrose, Ocado, Majestic,, RRP £13.49) This wine notched up several wins at the 2016  IWC, picking up a gold medal, Great Value Red under £15 and trophies including the Rioja Reserva Trophy.

Beronia Reserva 2011 wine review
Beronia Reserva 2011

I guess the judges liked it then.  Tempranillo makes up the majority of this blend, with tiny contributions from graciano and mazuelo. It’s a wine you just want to keep breathing in. There’s so much to enjoy on the nose, from cloves, to fresh red fruits, chocolate and a snap of bracken.  A hearty sip is rewarded with a rounded, full bodied wine, still-fresh fruits, white pepper spice and soft tannins.

First Class Pinot Noir 2015  (14.5% abv, £7.99 or £5.99 in a buy six deal from Majestic). This pinot noir from the Bio Bio Valley in Chile is great value. A  light  pinot noir is perfect for a summer’s day and when  the sun peeked out this week I bought this from Majestic. Characterful red fruits and pepper spice cloud out of the glass and in the mouth they combine to race across your tastebuds without being overpowering.

First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals August 2016

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