60cm Snow in Abruzzo

Francesco Valentini holds forth

An unusually large snowfall on Monday and Tuesday of last week has destroyed vines in the vineyards of Abruzzo. Reports of the amount of damage vary, but in one case may be as high as 50%, the problem exacerbated by the tall pergola vine training typical of the region.


The snow itself did not come by surprise; local weather stations had forecast it to begin on Monday. It was it’s quantity, coupled with strong winds of up to 160km/hour, however, that caused major damage to the vines. Angelo Ruzzi, Sales Export Manager at Azienda Zaccagnini, explained: “The quantity of snow which fell on unpruned tall pergola trained vines was the problem. They supported it, and eventually broke. We have only lost up to 10% of our vines. Some were less lucky”


The 1983 vintage of Francesco Valentini’s celebrated Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (yes, the much maligned Trebbiano) may be the best Italian white I have ever tasted, but his vineyard was hit the worst, with up to 50% of the vines damaged by the snow. He viewed this from a different perspective: “The issue is not the amount of damage to my vines or any others, it is climate change. We have had up to 60cm of snow falling in November, coupled with winds of up to 140km/hour; this isn’t normal. In Italy we talk about Berlusconi, but no-one writes about these serious issues. We will recover from the damage, but the climate will continue to change, unchecked.”


Tonino Verna, President of both Cantina Tollo, the region’s largest cooperative, and of the Consorzio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, put some perspective on it: “Out of 35,000Ha planted to members of the Consorzio, about 2000Ha have been affected. At Cantina Tollo, out of the 3,500Ha of our members, only about 50Ha have been affected. Yes, there has been damage to vines, especially in the hills, but not catastrophic, as some are suggesting.”


This year has been harsh on the European vineyard, with devastating thunderstorms in Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Alsace; this is the latest instalment. Perhaps Francesco Valentini is right, and we can look forward to more of the same next year.

The Niurumaru Festival in Lecce, 8th to 10th August 2013

The Niurumaru Festival in Lecce, 8th to 10th August 2013

A chance discussion with the unstoppable Antonio Tomassini found me invited to be a judge at the Niurumaru Festival in Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, in Salento, the heel of Italy. The purpose of the festival was to highlight Salento’s cuisine, wine, and particularly their local grape, Negroamaro. Our brief was to decide the ‘Negroamaro 2013 Prize’ for this local grape variety. A trip to the South of Italy in August to taste local and characterful wines, or doing my VAT in drizzly England? the choice was easy.


As well as judging in the evening (at 9.00pm, which is unusual, I thought, but more of that later), we had time to visit several producers, so I will start with those. They went from large to small. Freshly arrived from London, we headed straight for Cantine Due Palme, in Cellino San Marco, between Brindisi and Lecce. This is the largest cooperative in southern Italy, producing about 7 million bottles per year, 90% of which goes to export, representing a 26million Euro turnover. That comes to about 3.70 Euro a bottle, by the way, if it is all generated by wine sales. They have a very grand conference room that can take up to 800 delegates, for when they want to meet with the 1100 different growers who supply them (hopefully not all of them show up at once).


Boutique winery lovers are sceptical of large operators, but the cooperatives have been instrumental in the modernising and improvement of quality of the Southern Italian wine industry, and this was no exception. All their wines were lovely, but one of the highlights here was the first, a Sparkling Negroamaro Rosé called Melarosa, full of vibrant strawberry fruit and tangy acidity. In 1676, Sir George Etherege wrote of another sparkling wine:


…Then sparkling Champaign

Puts an end to their reign;

It quickly recovers

Poor languishing lovers….


I don’t think we could call ourselves languishing lovers, but this sparkling wine made us recover from the Ryanair experience we had just endured! Due Palme make a range of qualities from the local Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Malvasia Nera, all of them attractive, clean, modern wines, excellent within their price points.


The following day we went to PaoloLeo, a little smaller, at 2 million bottles. Their Negroamaro Rosé Frizzante had an intriguing note of fennel as well as similar red fruit and fresh acidity, and was delicious too. Between the oak aged Orfeo and unoaked Negramante, both made from 100% Negroamaro, I preferred the latter, which showed typical Negroamaro flavours of black fruits, aniceed, spice, and velvety tannins, reminiscent of Hermitage. New oak tends to be reserved for Primitivo wines as many growers think (as they do in the Northern Rhone) that new oak overpowers the character of Negroamaro.


Certainly Cosimo Palamà, of Palamà estate, the third producer we visited, was of that opinion, and most of his wines were unoaked. This estate only produces 250,000 bottles, is entirely run by Palamà, his wife, and son, and he wants to keep it that way to maintain control. The results were mainly really impressive. His (award-winning, more of that later, too) rosé Negroamaro 2012 from the Metiusco range was superb. Palamà describes Negroamaro as the most difficult grape to grow in Puglia, less forgiving than Primitivo, and rosé is the most difficult style. With this one he managed to bring out the red and black fruit character of this grape, without gaining too much harsh tannin and savoury character, which can dominate some of the rosés of the region.


It was Palamà’s reds, though, that blew us away. Palamà believes in multivarietal, unoaked wines, amplifying the ripe black fruit characters without adding intrusive vanilla or smoky flavours, and the wines we saw confirmed the complexity gained from this. The Metiusco (Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Malvasia Nera) 2012 red was massive, exploding with sweet ripe black cherries and blackcurrants, a well-balanced blockbuster. A rare Malvasia Nera single grape called D’Arcangelo 2011 was also dark and spicy, with raisins and sweet fruit, an unusual and characterful wine.


In response to a client’s request, however, Palamà does oak age Mavro 2011, a pure Negroamaro, in new and older oaks. Although made it very clear he didn’t like this wine, it was really very good, smoother and rounder, yes, more commercial, than the others, and showing some oak-derived coffee and chocolate flavours, but still with Negroamaro’s dark fruit freshness and spice. The estate’s other oak aged wines, including the ’75’ range, crafted to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the estate, were similarly complex, rounded, and (perversely to Palamà) delicious. As fellow judge Mike Matthews tweeted: ‘An eager winemaker happy to show his work’. Grazzie, Cosimo Palamà!


For the judging, I come with preconceptions. As a judge at the IWC, I have come to expect wine competitions to be well-organized, punctual occasions; you see where I am going with this? We were due to start at 9.00pm on the 9th August to taste rosé Negroamaros, with the same timetable the following night for the reds. After we had found the wines, located the place in the middle of the piazza for the tasting, got a table and some chairs, and assembled some homemade spittoons on the table, it was 10.30pm. Were the wines tasted blind? Well, no. And the panel all impartial outsiders? Some of them, yes. Did we taste rosés on the 9th, and reds on the 10th as advertised? Oh, wait, it was the other way round.


All the above is irrelevant, though. A wine judging was done on two beautiful nights (well, after the rain stopped on the second) in the middle of the Piazza San Oronzo in Lecce, at a makeshift table with wet chairs re-covered in bin liners by seven enthusiastic wine professionals of varied impartiality, by methods bearing little in common with the IWC. And the whole thing was done with a delightful insouciance,  Mediterranean laissez-faire, and Italian charm. A worthy winner was found for each category: in the  rosés, Vinicola Palamà’s Metiusco 2012 was one of several very attractive fruity modern rosés, not dominated by tannin or savoury character, a first among equals, possibly. The red trophy went to one less familiar to us, Feudi San Marzano’s “F” 2011, a big and polished modern red with savoury sweet black fruit and velvety tannin.


This was a unique and typically Italian experience presented with huge amounts of energy, charm and patience by the local council, and designed to promote Salento’s wine and gastronomy. It certainly succeeded in that aim; I liked the wines of the regions already, I like them even more now. I encourage everyone to head to Lecce for their holidays, enjoy refreshing fizzes and rosés, and solid reds, sample the local Burrata, a type of super-rich fresh mozzarella, and other local specialities, and if you’re really lucky there will be an open-air concert going on in the Roman amphitheatre which sits as though by chance, available and as good as new, in the middle of this beautiful and historic town. Thank you Fabio Mollica at Voice Communicazione (the event’s marketing agents), Antonio Tomassini, all the growers who contributed, and the Commune di Lecce. Who ever said PR doesn’t work?




At the Embassy of Japan, 16th July 2013

The IWC Award Winning Sake Tasting at the pleasantly cool Japanese Embassy was a welcome relief from the swelteringly hot weather radiating from the pavements of Piccadilly during one of our rare moments of really proper summer weather. Despite the limited awareness of sake among the general public, the place was heaving with sake lovers, enjoying the class and freshness of decorated, high-quality, chilled sakes. There’s a feeling that the category needs to reach a wider audience, but no-one seems to know how to achieve that.

Sam Harrop MW, champion of Japanese sake, and one of the Sake Chairman of the IWC, was effusive: “What we need is to get the wine trade behind this to create sales. It’s about to happen.” He opined. I really hope he’s right. I tasted sakes from all over Japan, served by enthusiastic and helpful producers who had come all this way for this occasion; delicate, pale sakes from Dewazura Brewery in Yamagata, a more intense Junmai Daigingo from Asahi Shuzo in Yamaguchi, full-bodied yet citrus Omachi rice sake from Fukuchiyo Shuzo in Saga, and two oddities, exotic koshu sakes, aged to reveal flavours much more akin to sherry than sake: from Enoki Shuzo (‘The King of Koshu’, according to Harrop) in Hiroshima, a Koshu Kijoshu aged for 8 years, which showed amontillado sherry flavours, very nutty, and gunflint aromas, and from Katoukitchibee Shouten in Fukui, Born Koshu, aged for 10 years in French oak, with caramel, smoky, and aldehydic palate with a sweet attack, yet dry finish, similar to a dry Oloroso. I had never come across a sake aged so long in oak, but we are all still novices in this field, even after several year’s of study. These sakes are varied, interesting drinks, worthy of a wider audience. A quick internet search gives the picture among the mutiples: Waitrose sell Sawanotsuru Deluxe Sake, with no product information other than it is made from rice and water (which is reassuring; no rocket-fuel mentioned). Tesco seem to have dropped the distinctly ordinary Choya Sake they used to sell, thank goodness, but show Doragon Sake, which isn’t even Japanese; it’s made in the Netherlands. I gave up the search in despair after that. At present, a few enlightened independent retailers and ‘Western’ restaurants sell interesting ones, but the bulk of the sales come from the niche corner of Japanese restaurants, which puts it a way away from mainstream.

An interesting market comparison is provided by Oke Nordgren, a Swedish sake importer, and on the sake panel at the IWC. He has been importing wine in Sweden for ages, but discovered Sake, and, after a few years dealing in both, started devoting all his time to fine Japanese sake in 2007. He, too, sees himself on a learning curve: “Since devoting myself full time to this wonderful drink, I have tasted more than 5500 sakes, he said, and I am still learning. The producers, too, are learning to make sakes more attuned to Western palates, fruitier and fresher.” I paraphrase, but that is the gist of it. The Swedes are more inquisitive and nerdy about wine, and this rigour has moved into sake; go to the website of the Systembolaget, the Swedish alcohol retail monopoly, and you find no less than 12 different sakes, both Japanese and American; and bear in mind this is a government-run, boring and old-fashioned retailer with stores in every village and town in Sweden. They are still well behind the US in terms of awareness and availability, but even so they are in a different league to us, and we could learn from them. Americans have a huge Japanese population, which has driven their sake interest, but the Swedes don’t; no, they have Oke Nordgren, Sake Champion of the Swedish wine trade, spreading the gospel to good effect. We have Sam Harrop, among others, but the gospel so far seems to have spread out from its Japanese base only to a niche of wine nerds like myself. We talk a fair amount about sake, I even present a sake tasting occasionally to interested amateurs, or at the launch party of a Japanese car, but how many cars can you launch in any given year?

I would love Sam to be right that Sake is the ‘Next Big Thing’ (he didn’t say that, by the way, I just wanted to see what it looks like). The wine trade need to rally round this wonderful, interesting product. Sure, there is customer resistance; it’s an acquired taste, best served with food; many people still think it’s a spirit; it doesn’t cost £4.99 a bottle; or they’ve only experienced the warmed rocket fuel previously masquerading as sake. Blossom Hill is an easier sell. Sake is a hard sell, but I have had brief moments of reward (that’s intellectual reward, by the way, not the financial variety as yet) when I serve a chilled ginjo style, fragrant sake with a simple, unctuous, perfectly oily slice of salmon, and see a flash of recognition in my audience’s eyes ‘so that’s what he was banging on about’! Oke treated us to a five-minute rapid-fire summary of the effects that the different operations in production have on the final taste of a sake (and there are, believe me, a lot of them; it’s complicated). “If you’re ever bored or lonely one evening, give me a call, and I’ll fill your evening with sake facts”, he promised. Maybe we need to take him up on his offer.

What is the best summer wine?

Summer has finally kicked in with a vengeance and soaring temperature have driven people into their garden for BBQs and drinks as the sun goes down in London. When it’s hot it can be tempting to reach for a beer or a soft drink but in this weather some wines can be just as, if not more, refreshing.

Obviously it’s the chilled wines that are the most popular in the warmer weather, and in fact wines that you may not have enjoyed when doing your wine tasting London wide may just hit the spot in the heat. A good example of this is Rose wines.

Rose wines are served chilled in the same way as whites and whilst the rest of the year might be avoided as being seen as too sweet, the fruity taste can be very refreshing with summery hints of berry flavours at this time of year in the same way as Pimms can be. They are mainly still but there are also sparkling ones available, and there are some nice flavours at reasonable prices.

Sparkling wines are another favourite in the summer. They have to be served really cold to taste nice so in this heat make sure that you have something to keep it chilled like a wine bucket and to use glasses that haven’t been out in the sun.

People often don’t realise that some kinds of red wine can be served chilled but you need to be careful which ones. Some red wines; ones high in tannin, a component from the grapes’ skins, can taste bitter when chilled but those with a softer tannin can actually benefit from chilling because it enhances their fruitiness and makes them even more refreshing.

If you are used to sticking to your usual wines whatever the weather it may be worth looking into one of our events with wine tasting London wide, to find out how you might find a new wine perfect for enjoying this summer.

‘Classic’ and ‘Balanced’ Wines in Saint Emilion

‘Classic’ and ‘Balanced’ Wines at L’Association  de Grands Crus Classés de Saint Emilion Tasting

Altitude 360, 5th June 2013


The annual tasting of Saint Emilion Grands Crus Classés took place at the trendy and spacious Altitude 360 in Pimlico. This year, vintages on show were 2009 and 2010, so the growers had little to apologize for. That said, Ch. Faurie de Souchard was one of those hit by hail in May in 2009, Thibaud Sciard, presenting the wines, described to us the difficulty of losing 90% of his crop as a result.


Otherwise, the wines were largely as expected, with only good surprises, really. The reputation of these two vintages is well known, not only due to the comments of a certain American with the same name as a pen, but also because of the interest and ‘buzz’ that two magnificent vintages in a row creates; everyone has written about them.


Don’t you love Bordeaux euphemisms? ‘Classic’ is a word often wheeled out to excuse unripe wines from a poor year; this time, though, it seems to work for the 2010s. They are anything but unripe, and have a deep coloured, dark fruited spicy character, and aniceed freshness. ‘Balance’ is used in a different context, often to justify high alcohol, and again the sceptic in me wakes up when I hear it. However, I tasted all three of Jacques Capdemourlin’s 2010s, Châteaux Balestard le Tonnelle, Cap de Mourlin, and Petit Faurie de Soutard (please note the similar spelling to Faurie de Souchard, above; they are indeed two different châteaux, it’s just part of that adorable French complication). Part of my note to the Balestard la Tonnelle reads: “A huge mouthful of tannin and acidity, balanced by ripe and generous black fruit”. Thierry Capdemourlin pointed out alcohol levels of, 15, 15.5 and 15.5%, in order, for these three wines, but talked of the balance, and my note confirms this. The alcohol didn’t stand out in any of these, nor in any of the other wines I tasted on the day.


My tasting notes are repetitive. Big, ripe, soft fruited 2009s, with red, sweet Merlot fruit, lowish acidity, and velvety tannins, drinking well now, and more angular, serious, spicy (both words versions, I suspect, of ‘classic’, a word I don’t really use) 2010s, with “A huge mouthful of tannin and acidity, balanced by ripe and generous black fruit”. Have I said that before?


Another common theme appears to be the consultant Michel Rolland; he’s everywhere. I recently read a cartoon book called “Robert Parker Les Sept Péchés capiteux” (The seven ‘heady’ sins), by Benoist Simmat and drawn by Philippe Bercovici, which portrays Big Bob colluding with Michel Rolland to homogenize the flavour of Bordeaux and create a ‘Parker taste’ (‘capiteux’, in the title, translates as ‘heady’ while ‘capitaux’ is deadly, which would be the more familiar expression). It’s a great book, by the way, very witty (if you are a wine nerd, otherwise you won’t understand it) but it hasn’t been translated. It is, of course, satirical, but most of the Rolland consulted wines seemed to show a full, chocolaty, extracted character, and high alcohol (none less than 14%), but those are also characteristics of both vintages. The three from Capdemourlin above are all consulted by his laboratory.


One exception to this was Château Grand Corbin d’Espagne. François d’Espagne, the very affable owner, explained that he was fully organically certified, and trying out biodynamic production. He tried to point to this fact in the otherwise very well-presented fact sheet that accompanied each estate’s page, but it wasn’t there. He remarked that, although he did inform them, the Association must have omitted to print this information (a bit of Bordeaux politics, perhaps)? His wines of both vintages showed a charming harmony, with easy acidity, melted but prominent tannins, and yes, great balance, even classics. They were still 14% (2009), and 14.5% (2010).


An enjoyable and informative tasting of two great vintages. If the following one features 2011 and 2012, a different set of euphemisms will come to the fore. Anyone who hasn’t been living on Mars for the last few years will be familiar with the financial sector’s descriptors of choice: challenging, and difficult. Bordeaux has added a new variant to these two for the 2012 vintage: A winemaker’s vintage (but aren’t all vintages)? Maybe the turnout will be lower for that one.

Tuscany Strikes Back – New Chianti Classico classification

The Chianti Classico revolution: what’s new in the land of the Black Rooster
Press Conference at the ‘Tuscany Strikes Back’ tasting at Somerset House, 23rd April 2013

Albert Eistein, a man who knows a thing or two about the difference between complication and simplicity, once said: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” This was brought to my mind on April 23rd, when the great and the good of the wine writing world (and I) gathered in a packed room in Somerset House for a press conference to introduce the ‘Chianti Classico Revolution” at the combattantly named ‘Tuscany Strikes Back’ tasting. Perhaps the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico could take Einstein’s message to heart, too.

Here’s the deal: the old Chianti Classico appellation featured two levels: Chianti Classico, and Chianti Classic Riserva. With the new classification, a head has been added to this quality pyramid: Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, so that the hierarchy now looks a lot more like the Rioja format of Rioja, Rioja Reserva, and Rioja Gran Reserva. So far, so simple, and, in my view, a logical step. Here are the descriptions of the three levels:

Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
• Grapes must be grown by the winery itself
• Minimum aging requirements: 30 months, including 3 months of bottle aging
• Stricter chemical and sensory parameters

Chianti Classico Riserva
• Minimum aging requirements: 24 months, inlcuding 3 months of bottle aging
• New chemical and organoleptic parameters

Chianti Classico
• New chemical and organoleptic parameters

Views vary on the usefulness of the new category. On the plus side, it is the first true category in the appellation purposely made for estate-grown wines (plus it provides an attractive point to the pyramid), however, on the minus, there are general concerns about the necessity of a new quality tier. Silvia Fiorentini, who presented the new system for the Consorzio, said “people are confused between Chianti and Chianti Classico,” which, for me, begs the question: “then why make it even more confusing?” I wonder what Einstein would say?

Among some rather grumpy question, was a very pertinent one from Steven Spurrier. Producers will submit their wines for classification 30 months after the vintage (although this date seemed to be slightly fuzzy in the discussion) to a committee. Steven asked: “Who would the committee comprise of?” unfortunately the answer was that it would be that old chestnut ‘industry experts’. “But who exactly would these be?” he continued. The answer that it would be experts from both the region and outside it didn’t seem to dispel the fear that the same conflict of interest issues which have plagued both the Saint Emilion and Cru Bourgeois classifications would pop up here too. Italians, however, from my experience, seem to have a rather different way of dealing with such problems to the French. Rather than arguing (rather expensively, in court) about such things, a little bit of shoulder shrugging takes place, influence is exerted, and another appellation is entered into the books. The French, though, still have the apposite expression: “Le plus ça change, le plus c’est la même chose” (the more it changes, the more it stays the same.)

A tasting of Chianti Classico, conducted by a very nervous looking Andrea Rinaldi followed the presentation. “Would all the wines in the tasting be considered ‘Gran Selezione’ by the committee, in his opinion?” I asked. “Oh yes, of course” was both his, and Silvia Fiorentini’s answer, as expected. I wonder if they will be on the committee?

Morrisons Cellars Wine Tasting and Taste Test

‘Morrisons Cellar reveals the UK gambles £4.7 billion on wine annually

Revolutionary new tool is hottest tip for taste confidence’


So, to Morrison’s Cellar last week for a tasting of their revamped range, and new online offer, as well as what they describe as their ‘revolutionary’ taste test.

Revolutionary it ain’t. A welcome bit of fun in the middle of the longest winter ever, it was. What you do is answer three questions on your food and drink preferences (I won’t say what they are, in case you want to do it yourself), which rate your palate with a number from 0 to 12. I imagine that most people with any competitive spirit in them would want to score high in this test, but Morrison’s divide the range into four flavour categories: sweet (0-3), fresh (4-6), smooth (7-9), intense (10-12). I scored 9 (I like my coffee white in the morning, you see), which puts me at the intense end of smooth. That seemed to fit with my own assessment of my character, or maybe its just wishful thinking. You can have a go at it yourself if you want at: http://apps2.finervision.com/morrisons/taste-test. The carrot is you get put into a draw to wine a case of wine, so give it a try if you are feeling lucky!

Anyway, I tasted some wine. The wines are divided into the same categories according to their character. Broadly, they seemed well characterized, although I am not sure that I would put Graham’s 20 Year Tawny Port in the fresh category. Here are my highlights from the different categories:


Yealands Black Label Pinot Gris, New Zealand, RRP £12.99

Yealands EstatePinot GrisForget Pinot Grigio, this is Pinot Gris, the same grape, but the proper version, in the Alsace style, which the Italians (among others) usurped. A lovely oily and rich ripe style, with sweet yellow peach flavours, refreshed by cool climate acidity, and medium-dry.

Première Vouvray, Loire, France, RRP £6.49

Premiere VouvrayWhich just goes to show you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a decent French wine. That classic combination of honeyed Chenin Blanc fruit sweeness, with Loire fresh acidity. Another medium one.


Pongrasz Brut, South Africa, RRP £13.99

Pongrasz BrutIn their words, a ‘getting ready for the big night out bottle’, made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Fresh, dry, with fruity hints. Well-named, really.

Baron de Badassière Picpoul de Pinet, France, RRP £7.99

Baron de BadassiereA great example of good value from the Languedoc. Someone at Morrison’s buying team writes like they used to work for Oddbins, but I can do no better than their note: ‘Old Baron de Badass may have been last in the queue for surnames, but he sure knew how to make a gorgeously refreshing zingy white wine.’


Irony Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, California, USA, RRP £19.99

Irony Russian River`This is the Russian River in California, not a river in Russia! An old-fashioned European style of Pinot, with spicy red fruit, rich and ripe, and hints of leather.

Grifone Primitivo di Puglia, Italy, RRP £6.99

Grifone PrimitivoThe Italian version of the Californian Zinfandel (and cheaper), with ripe, sweet red and black fruit, and melted tannins. Maybe it’s a bit more intense than smooth, but let’s not quibble.


Wirra Wirra 12th Man Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills, Australia, RRP £16.99

Wirra WirraMaybe the price is a little intense too; the wine, though, is ‘a ripper’ as Morrison’s put it. Full of tropical Australian fruit, integrated with French oak.

Piccini Sasso Al Poggio, Tuscany, Italy, RRP £12.99

PicciniA ‘Supertuscan’, with Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Loads of black cherries and fruit, firm tannin, and definitely intense.

At last, I would say that you can buy wine at Morrison unashamedly, according to a taste test rather than just because it’s cheap. Plus you get to find the answer to that nagging question of whether you are sweet, fresh, smooth, or intense. A useful life lesson in a bottle, if you like!

A new year for wine tasting

 In the world of wine, which year it is is very important for a number of reasons; essentially the year a wine was made can completely determine the overall taste and quality of a wine, because of the weather, the soil quality and the kind of grapes grown that year. There are years that are more famous for good wines than others, and years that are notorious for lower quality wine as a result of bad weather or natural disasters. In the first month of 2013 wine makers will already be considering the grapes they will be growing and the wine they will be making, but fans of wine will also be thinking about the wines of 2012 they will be looking forward to exploring and trying out.

If you have functions or parties to arrange in 2013 then there is a growing trend towards wine tasting London wide. It is not just for wine connoisseurs but for anyone that is up for trying something new and interested in learning about wine, as well as anyone that enjoys a glass of wine or two of an evening! They are not stuffy or formal any more when using the right wine venue and tasting organizer. They can be as laid back and informal as you want, where you can just enjoy the wine and find a new favourite, or as educational as you want to learn about the various grapes, years, areas, etc. There is also a wide range of venues with different environments from up market stately homes to cozy wine bars. A wine tasting event can be as personal as your event.

If you have business functions to organize this year; client mixers, staff events, conferences, etc, a wine tasting event is something new and different, and bound to encourage attendance more than a dinner or other sit down event. If you want a fun and sociable image for your company holding a wine tasting event is bound to portray you in a positive light and start the year with a swing.

We offer the best wine tasting services London wide, so give us a call for an update on how to have a good time in 2013.

Wine Tasting Parties for Christmas

Wine tasting parties have in the past been considered something that only people with a good knowledge of wines would appreciate and understand, but with shops and wine bars offering a bigger selection and whole shelves of wines within people’s price range to choose from, people are now keen to understand what they are drinking and find more kinds of wines to enjoy for different occasions and event. London wine events are springing up all over the place, and cater for people with all budgets and from all walks of life, and there is no reason that you cannot enjoy an evening learning about wine; how to enjoy it and what you like, without feeling out of your depth or uncomfortable.

There are events available for wine tasting London wide, and no matter what your budget or how many there are of you, there is bound to be something you will enjoy this Christmas. There are a range of venues, from warm and cosy bars to larger halls and events centres. There is something for everyone so if you are looking for a different night out this Christmas and a somewhat educational experience, we know you will find something that appeals.

The whole evening can be as relaxed as you want. We offer as much information on the different wines as you want; the region they were grown in, the type of grape, the history and reasons for the difference in tastes depending on the year. We can also offer suggestions on what you might enjoy based on your current preferences. The professionals that run our wine tasting London wide are trained to be approachable and make the evening fun. We run quizzes and games, and there is plenty of time to either socialise within your group or meet new people.

If you are looking for something new and fun to try this Christmas, wine tasting is a natural seasonal activity. We supply all kinds of wines including some festive treats, and you can pick some new favourites ready for Christmas as well as impress your friends and family with your new found knowledge of everything sealed with a cork. Give us a call to discuss the events available in your area and a fun night out.