Photo memories: My 2016 year in pictures and a drop of something now and again

Jane Clare wine 2016 year in review

Farewell 2016, you  strange old year, you little monkey. Putting the madness of Brexit, Trump and Celebrity Deaths to one side, there’s been a lot of change for me personally, changes that will see me taking a route yet to be determined, sometime around May in 2017.

Meanwhile  – here’s some 2016 photo memories, ahem, and of course they all have a theme linked to a wee drop of something.


In 2016 I was determined to spend more time at press and trade tastings but they’re mostly in London. I live in Liverpool so inevitably travel, time and cost can be a problem. This year I set time aside in advance to head down to the Big Smoke (and get cheaper train tickets by booking early) !!!! Here’s the first wine trip of the year to the capital – I loved the shadows both people and bottles cast on Lidl’s Wine Cellar branding.

Lidl Wine Tasting January 2016


There’s a chap on Twitter I’ve followed for ages, Mike Turner, aka Please Bring Me My Wine  who also wears a business hat  20h33. I’ve followed Mike’s progress with interest as he’s developed his wine business, built his social media profile and become a really interesting wine-talking chap to boot.  I ordered a case of crémant de Bordeaux from him as a Valentine’s treat for me and The Better Half. Very nice it was too.  I met Mike at a London tasting a few weeks ago and hey, turns out he went to school about a mile from where I live. This world is a small one populated by Northerners.



I love my doggie. Millie, the miniature schnauzer aka The Moo. I also love my wine; I think I’ve mentioned that. Here she is, the Moo, snoozing, as I took part in a Twitter taste test run by the Wine Society. She clearly didn’t get my excitement vibes. The Wine Society hosts a live tasting every month #TWSTaste with a couple of bottles of something nice. The Moo slept through it, as you can see.

Wine Society twitter tasting dog


Not a great month on the job front,  but hey yeh right.  I’m moving on. I popped up to my pal Denise Mullen’s house on April 16  to meet her friends Ian and Sarah Hewitt. We didn’t half have a giggle, which was much needed as the day before I’d been made redundant from my Proper Job.
Ian, Sarah and Denise had created a new gin, Spitfire Heritage Gin which was about to be launched on the market. At Christmas 2015 the gin had been a Lightbulb Moment, a dream, an idea, a “can we do this” temptation. I’ll bring you forward to a couple of weeks ago to December 2016 and Spitfire Heritage Gin went on sale in Harrods. A terrific year for them.

Spitfire Heritage Gin


Another month, another tasting; two in fact. May is big in the London wine tasting calendar – but days off work, train fares and hotel costs could only stretch to a couple of days. Me and my mate Cambo opted for Asda and Waitrose on consecutive days and Cambo’s dad came along too. I nicknamed him Dadbo. I remember Dadbo streaked ahead of us tasting the wines, as me and Cambo did what we always do, overdose and linger by the sparkles. This Asti from Asda was one of Cambo’s favourites.

Asda Asti wine tasting

Photo memories: June

We went to the pub. The World Cup was on and watching footie in the pub with a pint in my hand is one of my favourite past-times. I won’t linger on this  theme too long in case anyone mentions Iceland (oops, I did it); but even though the England exit was a #facepalm moment, every credit to Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland for giving me many pint-raising opportunities.

World Cup pub pint

Photo memories: July

I mentioned the redundancy thing, but don’t go fretting. I’m still working at the Mother Ship for now.  In July that new role saw me in London back in my old office haunts and it was a grand opportunity to catch up with my London-living daughter Emma so we / she could hammer Mummy’s Purse.
Which we did at Gaucho steakhouse restaurant on Canary Wharf. Emma’s pal had worked there once and after much text-toing-and-froing (and stalling the wine waiter) this was the Argentinian wine we opted for. Trapiche Fincas 2010 Maipú, Mendoza, a petit verdot.  I posted a piccie on Instagram describing the aroma of this wine (£49.50 !! eek !! ) as like pencil shavings. Well, OK, I’d been drinking.  But not much, at Mummy Purse prices.

Trapiche Fincas 2010  

Photo memories: August

My oldest friend (not OLD, please note that) has lived in New Zealand for many years and travels back to the UK every couple of years or so – and 2016 was one of those years. My daughter Emma is her god-daughter, so we both flew over from Liverpool to Douglas on the Isle of Man on a bumpy propeller plane, my fists white-clenched on the flight that lasts no longer than a gin and tonic (if only they served them). We had a lovely few days, with beautiful sunsets too. One night we popped the champers to celebrate our long friendship.

Isle of Man champagne

Photo memories: September

I’m a bit of a sad wine geek and have loads of email alerts set up for wine, wine, wine, wine, wine, wine, wine. In the summer one wine almost broke the internet. La Moneda Reserva Malbec  from Asda was declared the “best red wine” in a blind tasting by those clever people at Decanter. It was under a fiver. My wine alerts were groaning under this news  so I kept a look-out on the La Moneda Malbec-shaped holes on Asda’s wine shelves. A few weeks later I was tipped off that the winning 2015 vintage was back in stock – High Five. I sipped a bottle with friends at my pal’s house  and I also bought a bottle for my sister’s Christmas present. I drank that too. Sorry Sis.
asda malbec the best wine decanter

Photo memories: October

I mentioned I’ve been trying to get to more London press and trade wine tastings; but I’m well-placed to jump on a train to Manchester to the Co-operative’s HQ in Angel Square. I’ve been three times now to meet the marketing peeps and have a good one-to-one chat with their buyers.  On days like that I appreciate how lucky I am; it’s not just about tasting wine, its also about learning from people who are working on the ground running in that lovely drinkable stuff. Ben Cahill enjoys his work. That’s him, peeping.

Ben Cahill Co-op wine tasting

Photo memories: November

Oh my, what a Christmas build-up. Fizz, Christmas and New Year wine choices, all to be found, tasted, recommended. I buried my head in notes from the various tastings I’d been to in the autumn; Oddbins, Sainsbury, Majestic, the Co-op – then there were wines from Asda and some good choices from online merchants such as The Wine Society and WineTrust 100. My brain was drowning in wine. I ran a fun wine tasting with pals, during which we were totally unimpressed by Skinny Prosecco; and I also went with my pal Katie to one of the Wine Gang’s pre-Christmas wine events. It was there I had a reminder why I find wine so fascinating; we sipped some wines with little mouth sensations such as salt and lemon. It was so interesting how they changed the wine. It was right up my wine geek street.

WIne Gang tasting

Photo memories: December

This isn’t so much a memory as a nod to the future. I have no idea what 2017 will hold for me but I’m beginning to think ahead, I have no choice as a mortgage has to be paid. This month, December, I’ve made the leap and signed up to study my wine diploma in a spare time online capacity. I guess it will be like the Open University for two years but with alcohol.
And as I write, Burnley FC have just beaten Sunderland 4-1. That’s great news for the end of this s****y year.
Later I’ll be heading out with the Better Half to shake a fist at 2016 and after a meal we’ll head back home to quietly welcome in 2017 and its known knowns, its known unknowns, and unknown unknowns.
I wish you all the best for 2017. Keep your nerve against Russian hackers, Trump, Brexit, and beyond. If all else fails, pour wine.
Jane x

Jane Clare wine diploma

December 9th: Paddock Shiraz and Ken Dodd

The Paddock Shiraz

Wine Advent Calendar December 9th: The Paddock Shiraz 2015

I second-guessed when I started this 24-day countdown to Christmas that I’d end up missing some days. I have a memory like a sieve.

So this post isn’t so much a wine recommendation for December 9th – but more the story of what I did on December 9th.

When my pal Denise asked me to go the annual Liverpool Press Club lunch I thought why not. I live in Liverpool; I’ve worked in the Press for many years; I’ve been to several clubs in my time. I haven’t combined the three before so now’s as good a time as any.

Mind you, said Denise, we’d be the young ones. With a combined age of XYZ between us (put it this way, I was buying records when Jimmy Osmond was a child) I thought she was kidding. Errm no.

I also thought Denise was exaggerating when she said a) ice in the bar would be a luxury item b) the wine list wouldn’t be up to much and c)  jeans would be a posh look.

The venue was The Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. The Adelphi is like a very old relative you have a soft spot for, despite them turning a bit odd in their declining years. Saying that, you don’t have to shout at the Adelphi to make yourself heard  or squeeze it in the back seat of the car for a day trip to the seaside.

I’d arrived at the hotel in a flurry. The morning hadn’t gone as planned and after rushing across town I found my pal hovering by the receptionist pointing at the wine list.  “I’ve ordered champagne,” she said, “the rest of the list doesn’t look much good at all. Order some wine. Order it now. They’ll put your name on it.”

Yup. Fully-trained journos order a full bottle of wine each, which is then plonked (apt word) on the table with their name on it. This is presumably to prevent middle-of-the-meal minesweeping by niftier speed-drinking journos.

I looked at the wine list. My Body Language said “trust me, I know about wine”. I plumped for a £16.95 bottle, smugly declaring it was made by a Hollywood superstar.

Next up. The bar. There were a couple of barmen and one huge bucket of ice. Granted, the barmen moved slower than icebergs (quicker than some guests truth be told)  but it was going well so far.

Anyone for a large glass of wine? Errm no, there’s only two large wine glasses and they’re both out there being used, said the barman.

So we hit the gin and then the gin hit me. Three drinks in,  I was wearing two Christmas hats. By the time I was halfway through my turkey dinner I also wearing a paper clip with my name attached to it in case I got lost. Meantime my pal was creating models of Donald Trump’s head using sprouts and a dollop of carrot. As you do.

Donald Trump sprout
Donald Trump sprout

At one point I was a bit hot but luckily the waitress poured a full glass of water down my back.

Did I mention Ken Dodd?  The original speaker couldn’t come so Ken stood in at short notice. The Adelphi is just over 100 years’ old and veteran comic Ken isn’t far behind. He’s still going, every credit to him, though he’s  a bit raggedy round the edges, just like the Adelphi. I glanced up at one point and saw Doddy trying not to nod off during the speeches. Bit like me through his verrrrrrry long jokes.

Ken Dodd press lunch
Ken stood in with 48 hours’ notice – and spoke for what seemed  the same time

Now then, back to the wine.  I took a sip of The Paddock Shiraz 2015 and thought mmmmmm … you’ve messed up haven’t you.

In my arrival flurry,  I’d scanned the wine list so quickly I  mixed up Sam Neill’s excellent  Two Paddocks wine with another Paddock brand, singular.  I’ve never been  good with numbers.

Sam Neill’s wine is New Zealand pinot noir; but the wine with my name on it was shiraz and from Australia. Sam’s wine hadn’t appeared on the wine list at all. It was a #doh moment.

Not the only #doh of that day. But what an excellent day.

The Paddock Shiraz 2015

What is it: It’s a red wine 

Where’s it from: South Eastern Australia

The grapes:  Shiraz  – though the link I’ve found says it’s a blend  of shiraz (86%) petit verdot 9% and viognier (5%)

What of the taste?  The label describes it as easy drinking  – well I thought it hard going. I found it harsh, bitter and not very fruity. But saying that my taste buds had just tussled with three gin and tonics and grappled with a plate of Brussels pate which was drizzled with what I can only describe as pink gravy.

I wasn’t in the best physical state to critique wine.

So in the interest of fairness I’ve bobbed over to Vivino and here’s some scores on the doors made, I would hope, by wine lovers unhindered by pink gravy taste bud attacks.

Small print: The Paddock Shiraz 2015 is 14% abv (yup, I noticed THAT bit on the day) and I found it  online here  for £6.25.

Here’s some TripAdvisor comments about the Adelphi.