Archive for December, 2009

All in the mind?

Posted on: December 23rd, 2009 by Andrew No Comments

Did any of you catch the R4 program “All in the mind” this evening? In a Christmas mood presenter Claudia Hammond had invited tireless self-publicist and iconoclast Malcolm Gluck and psychologist and part- time wine buff Dr Miles Thomas on to the show to discuss whether the taste of wine was indeed all in the mind and the price mattered not a jot. As expected Mr Gluck hogged the show delighting in an anecdote about Petrus and Chilean Merlot to prove his point that we in the trade and the general populace as a whole are all idiots when it comes to wine and that we are quite unable to tell the difference between a £300 wine and a £15 wine when tasted blind. This may be true but I think misses the point. To some extent good wine is like good art, especially when you add in a bit of history and a high ticket price. Who am I to decry the 50 million that a Rothko or Warhol might fetch at auction whilst say, my father’s equally impressive (I.m biased) abstract art might go for a couple of hundred quid. The same can be said of Petrus which comes from a tiny estate at vast expense and is hand crafted to perfection compared to its near neighbour Chateau Viaud Lalande which is also miniscule and handcrafted but comes from Lalande de Pomerol and thus commands less than a 10th of the price.

In the trade they always say that a glimpse of the label is worth 20 years in the business but this only recommends us buyers to taste wine blind. You drinkers should revel in the story behind each bottle; its part of what you are purchasing, be it a £5 supermarket staple or something a lot rarer.

For more psychology of wine check out Miles Thomas’ blog at

Happy Christmas

Xmas Tastings

Posted on: December 16th, 2009 by Andrew No Comments

A fortnight of tastings has been rounded off by a three day marathon at Crowcombe where Chris showed a goodly selection from our portfolio to an appreciative West Somerset audience. Stars of the show were the Devils Corner Sauvignon from cool climate specialists Tamar Ridge in Tasmania and the ever popular 4 Sisters Merlot from Victoria proving that there is life in the old Aussie dog yet.

The previous weekend our Christmas fair at Weston turned out to clash with just about every other local pre-christmas event including Yapp brothers tasting up the road in mere. Numbers were down but those that came went away happy and the sales held up OK. Highlights included Lomond Estate Sauvignon and Syrah from the most southerly vineyards in South Africa. These are well made for their price and show well in a crowd. The sauv is grassy and cool climate in a more restrained way than the Tasmanian, showing its SA credentials in what is rapidly becoming a house style for that country. The Syrah has sweet ripe fruit in the way of a good Southern Rhône. More generous and obviously new world in style but a good drink nevertheless.

Other wines to prove popular were Hépler’s impressive and very quaffable Gruner Veltliner, the ubiquitous Devils sauvignon and surprisingly our bargain basement La Mancha Tempranillo from Campos Reales which has bags of ripe fruit and is very drinkable for a sub £5 pound wine out of euroland.

A small selection of Bin Ends from western Australia which included a sappy minty 1999 cabernet from Ellenbrook and a Freshwater bay Shiraz that had sweet Oz fruit and a little weight from the 03 vintage. Both were good value at £6 and excited some interest.

For lovers of fizz we showed a Reserva Cava from Bodegas Perelada in Penedes. Having just been to Catalonia (see previous post) and toured a cava winery I have taken more of an interest in this style. The Reserva has quite a bit of body and some finesse which is accentuated by its low dosage of about 4 gms of sugar. A very good example at a reasonable price which is now about a third of the proper price of a house champagne.

Finally and surprisingly given the weather our Klippenkop pinotage shiraz Rosé made a bit of a hit. I like rosé all year round but have been wary of offering it to thers in the winter. However they have become another all-year drink like white wine and with good reason. Rosé hits the spot as both a food wine and an aperitif, especially the fruitier slightly fuller flavoured wines such as the Klippenkop. (from South Africa in case the name failed to give it away)

More tastings next time as we attempt to rejig our list to take account of the less friendly selling environment. Cue lakes of cheap chilean sauvignon.

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