Wine Card Wonder

dadwine rooms view

 

 

 

 

 

I credit my lovely Dad for introducing me to the wonderful world of wine, so it was a very easy decision to decide where to take him for his birthday. The Fulham Wine Rooms are the sister restaurant to The Kensington Wine Rooms, which I’ve written about before, and boy are they good.

Hwine cardere’s the concept. A great selection of wines – and a cash card you can load up allowing you to taste at your own pace and your own amount. The price for a small 25cl taster of the wines ranges from as little as 70p up to around £2 for the really good ones. £15 on each card got us around 15 wines to taste between us. Each wine has a handy little explainer card below, too, giving you an idea of what you might taste.

The stand-out wines:

tokaji<< Dobogo Furmint Tokaji (2012). This Hungarian white is made in the same region and from the same grapes as traditional dessert wine, but is actually very dry and very, very good. Think honeysuckle, apricots, warm and complexity.

sp68>> SP 68 Bianco, Sicily (2013).  The Wine Rooms had a good selection of natural wines, made with minimum chemical interventions or additives.  This white was incredibly clean and fresh, disappearing from the palate almost instantly. With pleasant fruity flavours and a crisp taste, the lack of sulphates should mean less chance of a hangover too. Winner.

20150602_182057_1<< Puligby-Montrachet ‘Les Enseigneres’ Domaine Chavy-Choet (2013). Simply wow. A stunning white burgundy, it was full and rich and had a beautiful taste of honey.  Expensive, retailing at around £35 a bottle, but I think I’ll be saving up my pennies to treat myself.

ballon

>> Ballon, ROT Wine Rooms Production, Cotes-du-Rhone (2013).  Boo, the only wine that disappointed. I really *wanted* to like this red, blended by the Wine Rooms and another natural wine. But to me it smelt of feet, and tasted a little of vinegar.

rioja reserva

<< Rioja Crianza Bodegas Amezola (2010) / Rioja Reserva Especial, Urbina (1998). Although not a strict comparison, tasting these 2 riojas together was really useful to compare how age changed them. The Crianza was younger and would be perfect in another 5 years or so. The Reserva – aged to perfection – was full bodied, smooth and tasted similar to Port.

pauillac>> Lacoste Borie, Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Pauillac, Bordeaux (2007). My favourite of the whole evening (and that’s saying something!). This Pauillac was smooth, but with big flavour and an amazing nose. A real treat – at £63 a bottle it’s not normally one I would be able to try!

 

You can see more information about the wines above here.

Don’t forget you can always tweet @wineblag for more information.

Go-To, Fail Safe, Always a Winner

20141115_195040_2You’re out of inspiration, in need of a bottle for yourself or a friend, and there seems to be just too much choice. So what do you pick? Here is my guide to your fail safe, go-to wines …

Reds

St-Emilion. Merlot is the dominant grape, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in there too. Beautiful deep colour, fruity, woody and with some flavour of spices. Always a popular choice! Also look out for the St-Emilion “satellites” such as Lussac-St-Emilion – nearby vineyards using the same grapes, offering great value.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape. High alcohol content, fruity and hearty red. The name carries a bit of a premium though, so expect to pay around £15 a bottle. But it is a sure one to impress if that is your aim!

Shiraz Viognier. A nice mix of grapes. I like this one from Naked Wines, with the hearty Shiraz being nicely balanced by the lighter flavours from the Viognier grape.

A Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the Wolf Blass yellow label. Goes well with most food or on its own, and is usually easy to locate in most supermarkets.

Pinot Noir, preferably from Burgandy in France, or from New Zealand. A lighter red, that is best served slightly colder than other reds. Goes brilliantly with goats cheese or lamb, or meaty fish like swordfish.

Pomerol. A real winner from the Bordeaux region of France. Similar mix of grapes to St-Emilion, with Merlot being the dominant one in the mix. Deep flavours, dark colours – think red fruit mixed with faint tobacco and liquorice. Ages well, try to decant before drinking. Worth the bigger price tag.

Whites

NZ Sauvignon Blanc. Always a favourite! See my post on Oyster Bay to find out why.

Sancerre. A classic white from the Loire Valley in France. Sauvignon Blanc grape, full of flavour and a nice balance between fruity and sharp, crisp citrus flavours which tend to dominate in the New Zealand Sauvignons.

Petit Chablis. Dry white, a better value option than Chablis, but with most of the flavours and enjoyment! A really nice Chardonnay.

Viognier. Usually from France, but I recently tried a very nice Californian variety, and Hardy’s do a reliable bottle from Australia. Viognier is a superb white wine, pale yellow / amber in colour, with a nice mix of floral and fruity flavours. Fresh, tasty and a nice change from Sauvignon.

 

What are your fail safe wines? Tweet us @WineBlag or comment below.

The Best Exotic Indian Wine?

Have we tapped into a new trend? Peter Tomlinson explores the world of Indian wine in WineBlag’s first guest post.

When you think of countries making wine you may think of the ‘greats’ such as France or the more recent arrivals such as Chile … but India? Well, on a recent business trip to Bangalore I’d spent two weeks avoiding drinking the water, unless it had been fermented with hops and yeast and turned into beer. However, on night 12 of a 13 night trip I saw a bottle of wine in the hotel and asked to take a look thinking it would be imported, but no, it was a local wine from India.

First signs were encouraging, recognisable grape varieties of Cabernet and Shiraz. But, could a wine from India really be anything other than well, disappointing?

India1 India2You’ll see there is a Decanter Commendation label – usually a good sign on any bottle of wine in India or elsewhere. The main soil in India is a deep red colour, and there’s no doubt that this does makes its way, even slightly into the wine. For red wine that’s actually alright, adding to the slightly earthy notes and not at all distracting; for white wine (yes, they make white wine as well) it could be more of a problem. All the usual typical Cabernet and Shiraz tastes were there, the blackberries, peppery etc. which when combined with the earthy undertones made for quite a nice drop of red wine.

Intrigued I tried to find out a little more and discovered the Grover winery is only 25km from the impressive Bangalore (now Bengaluru) airport where I happened to be working, so in easy reach for a future trip. Curiously the grapes in India are harvested in February/ March after the monsoon rains of late autumn and a period of ripening in the drier winter months, with some slightly cooler evenings. In Europe the harvest is usually in late August or September which allows for the maximum ripening in the weaker northern climate. Further investigation revealed a Wine Society of India, with an office in Bangalore and even a Bangalore Wine Village event every two years. Travel really does broaden the mind!

Having now returned home I look back and wonder if the wine really was that good or if the two weeks of wine depravation had somehow skewed my senses and dulled my taste buds. I don’t think so, and there’s only one way to find out…..luckily I have another business trip to Bangalore in a couple of months’ time. Maybe I’ll try another bottle, just to be sure, and even a Chardonnay as well, purely for the purposes of research you understand.

Have you tried an unusual wine? Tweet us @WineBlag or comment below.