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French men need largest condoms in Europe

Date: Sat, Nov 29, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Rather than rant about wine tax increases or finances I was amused to catch this piece in the Daily Telegraph this morning:

The French male is not noted for modesty when it comes to discussing his sexual prowess, and a survey of condom size appears to underline the point.

By Graham Tibbetts

More than 10,500 men across 25 European countries were asked to measure their penis - and the French came out on top with a claimed average length of 6.09 in (15.48 cm).

This was 1.2 in (3 cm) longer than the Greeks, who had the shortest average measurement in Europe.

The Frenchman's French letter requirements were disclosed during an eight-month study conducted by the Institute of Condom Consultancy, based in Singen, southern Germany.

Jan Vinzenz Krause, the institute's director, refused to comment on how honest he thought the Frenchmen had been in reporting the data.

The purpose of the survey was to educate teenagers about the importance of effective contraception.

The institute also offers online advice about condom size and hosts "Pimp Your Condom" - an annual fair organised in cooperation with the national Aids Trust - with the aim of informing teens about sexually transmitted diseases.

Krause was in the spotlight in the past when he produced a prototype of the "spray-on condom" - an aerosol can which contains latex that creates a perfectly fitting condom.

However, the idea was not developed further.

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More Tasting Descriptions...

Date: Sat, Nov 22, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

These last two weeks I have been on and off aeroplanes.....many wine tastings up and down the UK. A great fun time of year and great to hear views and comments from the most important people ...the people buying the wine!

A couple of fun observations/descriptions regarding wine.

Chateau Minvieille 2006 Rouge Bordeaux @ £6.99
Quoted by a lady in London: 'I like this wine. Yes, it is a good Monday to Wednesday style wine.'

Domaine La Prade Mari Viognier 2007 @ £6.99
Quoted by a man in Oundle: 'Yes lovely Summer drinking Viognier...Great hammock wine!'

Next week we will have to see what the good folk of Cornwall and Devon come up with....

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Tasting Notes

Date: Wed, Nov 19, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Sometimes I get fed up writing about the gooseberries, the grass, the blackcurrants, the damsons, honey, sage, melons and ripe plums when describing various wines.
It can be far more fun to 'personalise' your wine tasting notes.....as long as you remember your thread!!
I frequently call wines DP....no not Dom Perignon....but Dolly Parton....it is my simple note for a slightly unbalanced juicy fruity forward wine that does not have much behind but is a bit brash.

20 years ago when I was working in a prestigious wine shop in Belgravia I was frequently told by a flamboyant character of the wine trade that it was vital for female customers to hold the bottle in their hands.....once they get a feel they won't want to put it down!!! This was the same wine salesman who frequently shouted out...'this wine's a real leg opener' and then walked away. It has certainly stayed in my memory for showing a fun description.
Sometimes I feel that wine can be over analysed and over dissected. We are dealing with a fascinating and pure drink that should be enjoyed with good food and good friends......if Dolly Parton is about then so what.
I have recently come across a really interesting website called Chateau Petrogasm, which describes wine purely through pictures....no words, no bullshit.....just evocative pictures/images. It is fun and different and I really like it. Which wine do you think the beautiful Rose by Salvador Dali depicts? Have a look at the Chateau Petrogasm website and find out.

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Logan Wins Gold

Date: Mon, Nov 17, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

This blog is turning in to a Logan Wines advert!!
But Peter Logan sent me an excited email overnight:

'We have just been informed that our 2006 Weemala Shiraz Viognier won a
GOLD medal in the Royal Melbourne Wine Show. This is one of Australia's
most prestigious wine shows. This is a very good result for a wine of
this price.'

Certainly there are many many wine shows around the World, but I agree that the Royal Melbourne Wine Show is probably one of the most influential in Australia.
Great news for Logan Wines and a great help for a lovely wine that is great value at £8.99-£9.99 retail in the UK.

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Wine Critics...How UK Consumers choose their wines.

Date: Mon, Nov 17, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

The November report by Wine Intelligence 'Decisions,decisions:how UK consumers choose their wines' is quite interesting. Click on Wine Intelligence report for more info.
I have always been convinced that a high percentage of people walking in to a wine shop do not know exactly what they want.
They might know 1. Price or 2. Style or 3. Occasion or 4. Wines to avoid....but certainly I think that the quality independent wine merchants in the UK are well positioned to serve the 'Adventurous Connoisseurs' category that is 3.9 million consumers in the UK spending an average of £660 each on wine annually.
The other interesting part of the Wine Intelligence Briefing was the reach of wine critics.
The table featured here below is quite controversial (click on it to enlarge)as the awareness does not immediately translate to quality. Personally I would rate Jancis, Jukesy, Oz, Tim, Anthony and Jamie highly for up to date 'on the pulse' wine writing. Some of the others I am less sure about!

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Logan Wines and eye candy!

Date: Wed, Nov 12, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Here are Peter and Hannah Logan from Logan Wines. Based up in the magnificent Mudgee region of New South Wales. They moved out of Sydney a few years ago to concentrate on winemaking. Their wines are now recognized in over 15 different international markets. They are highly regarded as a quality family wine producer with focus on the fruits from their vineyards in Mudgee and the cool climate region of Orange.
And......in Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer's recent book Taste 2009 (only available in Australia) Peter Logan is described as "the thinking woman's winemaker eye-candy"!! and as Peter comments....I wonder how hard the ladies have to think before they agree!

Peter's sister Kylie also has a herd of Alpacas on the estate, whilst Peter and Hannah run a herd of Angus cattle. They hang the beef for an extra long time to ensure maximum flavours.....(Fantastic accompanied by a Logan Cabernet Merlot 2005)
Sophie the dalmatian is also very important in the Logan family!

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Top Sauvignon Blanc...from Australia!

Date: Tue, Nov 11, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

We are very familiar with massively intense Sauvignon Blanc from the excellent vineyards of New Zealand....but now the cool climate area of Orange in New South Wales is producing some stunning Sauvignon Blanc wines.
The Logan Sauvignon Blanc 2008 has been awarded several trophies and Gold Medals in Australian wine shows and has even been selected by the Kiwis in their top 100 Sauvignons....generous fellows.

Here are some notes from Peter Logan on this stunning wine:

We harvested the grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc at three
ripeness levels between 12.2° and 13.3° Baumé from
16th to the 28th March 2008. The grapes are grown at
an elevation of greater than 900 metres on the slopes of
Mount Canobolas in Orange. Considerable rain in February
complicated the 2008 vintage, however dry and windy
conditions in March dried the vines sufficiently to avoid
disease and ripen nicely. The mild temperatures resulted
in a very good vintage for the Orange region, particularly
for aromatic whites. The vines have been trained on a
combination of VSP trellis and Smart Dyson trellis systems.
After picking and crushing the grapes in the cool of the
night, the free run juice was clarified by cold settling and
racking. It was inoculated with VL3, X5 and QA23 yeasts
and the fermentation took place over 18 days in stainless
steel tanks. 5% of the wine was barrel fermented in large
Hungarian oak barrels (500 L). Malo-lactic fermentation
was inhibited. The wine was lightly filtered before bottling.
Tasting notes
The Logan 2008 Sauvignon Blanc is pale gold in colour.
It has a pungent aroma of passionfruit, guava and nettle.
The palate zings with crunchy fresh flavours of pink
grapefruit, green papaya and lime. The finish is long
and crisp.

Peter Logan reckons that the style of sauvignon blanc he believes Orange produces well is half way between the strong, pungent and incredibly popular Kiwi style and the more refined, subtle, minerally and beautifully balanced Sancerre style.
We have a few cases that have just arrived in the UK, so if you are interested please contact me immediately to reserve stock....the retail price is £10.95 in the UK.

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More Autumn Vines

Date: Mon, Nov 10, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Weird how different vines change colours. The vines on the right are Domaine La Prade Mari Viognier (now served at Rick Stein's Seafood Restaurant)whilst the vines on the left are very old vine Carignan.

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Date: Wed, Nov 5, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Dreary damp weather in the Minervois, so we zoomed over to Limoux (30km south of Carcassonne) to explore. Lovely town square where they have a masked Carnival from January to Easter every year.
The main reason for being in Limoux was to taste and explore the fabulous sparkling wines.

Essentially there are three types produced:

1. Blanquette de Limoux....mainly Mauzac grapes (90%) but also can be blended with up to 10% Chardonnay and or Chenin Blanc.
2. Cremant de Limoux.....a higher percentage of Chardonnay is permitted (up to 70%) with the rest being Chenin and Mauzac.
3. Blanquette Methode Ancestrale...the old 'natural' style that I mentioned at a tasting last week. Weird and wonderful style rather than commercially interesting! But strange apple cider characters develop from this 100% Mauzac wine.

Selectively there are some really interesting wines here. We are looking at developing a range of great value sparkling wines that are top quality and aged for 15-18 months in bottle. And all this for a retail price under £10 per bottle in the UK!

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Wine Tastings

Date: Sat, Nov 1, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I love showing new wines to people and seeing their reaction........hopefully positive!!!
At this time of year my diary is chockablock with tastings from Scotland to Cornwall. It is really good fun to catch up with wine trade friends and also to introduce new and exciting wines to the discerning UK wine drinking market from Australia, Bordeaux and Sud de France.
Many of these tastings are hosted by wine merchants and some can attract up to 4-500 people. But sometimes smaller tastings are far more informal and a great opportunity to have a good chat about the wines.
For the first time earlier this year I presented six wines before, during and after a fantastic dinner party for 12 people in a private house. It was great fun and very successful.
Sometimes wine tastings can be a fun way to get a team or company together. The wine tasting itself can be lighthearted or detailed depending on the theme or mood.
If you are interested in tasting some exciting wines in the UK and want to organize a company tasting or a tasting for enthusiastic wine drinkers, then please contact me.

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Christmas Wines

Date: Sat, Nov 1, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Now that we have turned the page and all of a sudden Christmas is only a month away we have to seriously consider the key aspect to secure a fun Christmas for everyone....yes the wines. I am writing this now as Thanksgiving would also suit many of these wines.
I would suggest:

Pre dinner drinks/aperitifs
Blanquette de Limoux from Ch. Rive-Blanques (see below) (approx £11 per bottle)
Mas Amiel Muscat 2006.(£12).........if you are having pate de foie gras this is sensational.

Logan Sauvignon Blanc 2008(£11) is a zesty fruity Sauvignon with a delicious mineral backbone.
Moulin Gimie Chardonnay 2006(£9) is a great alternative to good Burgundy at a fraction of the price.

Main Course (presuming turkey):
Ch. La Gaffeliere 2001(£45)......pure class from St.Emilion.
Cuvee Image 2005(£9)..........earthy deep chocolate character from the Sud de France.

Mas Amiel Vintage Red 2006(£14)........great with chocolate too.

Christmas Pudding:
Mas Amiel Mini Maury(£9)..............an absolute revelation...concentrated fruit but elegant balance.

And after to accompany coffee!
A large glass of Mas Amiel 1969(£60)......this is especially suitable for anyone who might be 40 next year.

Many of these wines are available via Bella Wines or through our network of quality wine merchants in the UK....so use google or wine searcher or drop us a note and we will help out to find the right wines at the best prices.

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Sud de France 'Festive Wines' Tasting in London

Date: Fri, Oct 31, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

Two days in London this week at the Maison Languedoc Roussillon in Cavendish Square. This is a relatively new venue (opened in June). And it is the 'window' in Central London for food and wine from the South of France. It is a great place and hopefully we can host some interesting wine tastings during 2009.
I was involved in organising a 'Festive Wines' event. We had some fascinating sparkling wines from Limoux...the first place to make sparkling wine in France. It was a good opportunity to try a selection of these wines from large and small growers. The Domaine Antech Cuvee 'Doux et Fruite' 2007 (Blanquette de Limoux) was amazing. It is a sparkling wine made in the 'Methode Ancestrale', which means that the first fermentation is stopped by chilling the juice and left on lees during the cold winter months. The secondary fermentation is then started in the Spring with the addition of yeast. It seems a very natural way to produce a wine..working with the seasons. However as Francoise Antech-Gazeau said, it is a very difficult process to manage and also to maintain the stability of the juice without letting rogue yeasts start an uncontrolled fermentation!
The wine was made from Mauzac grapes, which is virtually unique to Limoux and small areas of Gaillac. It is a tricky grape to grow and vinify as it is prone to oxidise easily and loose the flavours. This wine was an amazing medium sweet sparkling wine with a clear 'green apple' fresh style, but also with a depth and slight biscuit richness. The pleasant shock for me was the alcohol level at 6%. This was a very good wine and certainly one that I will be buying for Christmas. A very good aperitif wine.

The other sparkling wine that really stood out was the Chateau Rives-Blanques, Blanquette de Limoux 2006. This was a totally different style. A really classy wine made from 90% Mauzac and 5% each Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. The wine had an excellent mousse and medium biscuity rich nose. However the palate was defined by its elegance and the perfect balance between tight structured acidity and beautiful rich harmonious fruit. A wine that is very good value from this well run wine estate that adheres to sustained agriculture principals.

There were some interesting dessert wines from mainly muscat grapes (but also Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and Ugni Blanc) and then there was a great selection of older and amazing Vin Doux Naturels. These are fortified wines mainly from the Roussillon area near Perpignan. The key grape varieties being Grenache Noir, Carignan and Maccabeu.
I adore the 1969 Mas Amiel, Maury, which is a great example of a perfectly balanced aged Maury wine. I always think of this wine being a cross of old Madeira and aged tawny port....but it is unique. This is ideal for an unusual gift for someone who is 40 years old next year!!!
But surely the most interesting wine at the tasting were the two older wines from Domaine de la Coume du Roy. It is not often that you get the chance to taste some wines from 1925 and 1932! Agnes Bachelet travelled over to London with her young son to show him the sights and for everyone to taste these incredible wines. The wines had lost their red/brown colour and were nearer to dark cognac colour. The nose on the 1932 Maury initially had evident alcohol and I thought that it might be a tricky wine to taste. However on the palate the wines really danced! The 1932 had a smooth rich caramel smooth texture and still lively acidity. Whilst the 1925 seemed perfect. The wine had a smoother nose and an excellent balance of rounded creamy textured caramel palate. This wine lasted for a long time on the palate and exudes class.
These wines are still ageing in large oak barrels. Agnes draws off a small amount for bottling whenever she needs some stock!

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Languedoc Versus Bordeaux at Vin Neuf

Date: Sat, Oct 25, 2008 Wine Tasting Winery Blogs Wine Business

I recently did a wine tasting at a very good wine merchants called Vin Neuf Wines in Stratford upon Avon.www.vinneuf.co.uk We selected some smart Languedoc wines and compared them to some smart Bordeaux wines. The Languedoc wines ranged in price from £5-£12, whilst the Bordeaux wines were £12-£30.
There is no doubt we are in a financially 'interesting' time in the UK after various stockmarket collapses and bank failures and impending doom and gloom. So guess which wines were the most popular????????????
Yes, the Bordeaux wines.
Undoubtedly the wines were very good, however I think that there is a stronger message that even in hard financial times people generally look for quality wines that they know about and understand rather than exploring slightly lesser known areas such as Languedoc.
The customers were generally knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but I was slightly shocked(and happy) about the support and resulting sales for the higher priced wines.
Here are the wines that we tasted:
from Languedoc...
Domaine La Prade Mari Viognier 2007 £6.99
Domaine La Prade Mari Carignan 2007 £5.49
Element Syrah Cabernet 2007 £5.99
Domaine La Prade Mari 'Conte des Garrigues' 2005 £12.50

from Bordeaux....
Chateau Haut Ballet 2005, Canon Fronsac £14.00
Chateau Haut Maurac 2003, Cru Bourgeois Medoc £12.95
Chateau Jean Faure 2005, St.Emilion Grand Cru £29.50
and as a bit of an oddity/novelty:
Mas Amiel 10 year Old Maury £19.95

It should be an interesting if challenging Christmas sales period ahead!!!

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