Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Opera and Wine

you know how it is when you come out of the Royal Opera House and you fancy a light canapé and some excellent wine? well, last week I spent a most enjoyable evening with a beautiful (half) bottle of Decenio Rioja Reserva, Bodega Las Orcas, Spain. Surroundings were most inductive to a relaxing half hour after a brilliant evening, they have a very good wine list too in the Amphitheatre, well worth a visit.

With a developed nose of black fruits, tobacco and leather, on the palate this is beautifully elegant and light on its feet. It's wonderfully balanced and super-smooth.
you can also buy it from Roberson Wines in Kensington High Street 

As regulars to my musings are aware I do love a good Rioja  and have enjoyed some good supermarket offerings these past couple of weeks too. Gone are the days when ordering a Spanish wine meant grimacing at the tartness while you wondered if you should have just plumped for the Sangria and be done with it.
Worth a mention is Tesco's El Pinsapo Rioja, great value for money and a super slurp.

Aromas of red berries underscored by liquorice and vanilla notes, complemented by soft spice and red cherry flavours. Made from Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes from Spain's famous Rioja region. An ideal partner to pasta, tapas and most cheeses

Co Operative's Marques de Valido Rioja Reserva 2009 enjoyed over valentine's weekend. Forget flowers and chocolates . . . .

Sainsbury's Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo - another great wine - smooth and highly drinkable, getting that for my Mother on Mothering Sunday - she doesn't drink, but I love it.

Looking forward also to my next wine review on London's Best Smooth Jazz, listen in for my 'wine of the week' while we enjoy some smooth soulful grooves. You'll notice host Rod has a new particularly nice wine glass for the small sample I allow him. Check us out.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Co Op ethically correct 2015

The Co-operativeFood has been named the UK’s top Ethical Drinks Retailer for the second year running at the Drinks Retailing Awards 2015.

They were awarded this prestigious accolade for its market-leading commitment to responsible retailing of beers, wines and spirits in the UK and I think well deserved.

Since launching the first own-label Fairtrade mark wine in the UK more than 10 years ago, the retailer has led the way in the development of Fairtrade and is the UK’s largest retailer of Fairtrade wine, selling 52.5% of all Fairtrade wine sold in the UK. The profits have helped to fund invaluable resources in poverty-stricken communities across the world including running water, healthcare and education.

Furthermore, the retailer has reduced its carbon footprint by more than 36% in the last year by increasing the volume of wine bottled in the UK as well as switching to a lighter weight glass bottle for many selected lines. The move has saved 4,222 tonnes of CO2 emissions – the equivalent to the electricity needs of 18,759 households for a year.

In 1996, The Co-operative led the industry by putting sensible drinking advice on our wines and spirits, which was in addition to alcohol units. In 1999, they were the first retailer to label the ingredients in wine. In 2002, the first retailers to include calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks. We take all this information for granted now I guess with many brands including the details we need to be aware of. I'll therefore drink to that.

Rudolfo Griguol, one of Argentina’s most respected winemakers, produces The Co Operative's flagship Fairtrade Malbec from high altitude vineyards growing on sandy alluvial soils in the remote, picturesque Famatina Valley in North West Argentina. Made from 100% Malbec, the fruit was hand harvested and gently crushed. Purple red – almost black in colour – and bursting with plum, cherry and jam aromas, this full bodied wine has sweet but firm tannins with bursts of chocolate, tobacco and vanilla. Pair with red meat, especially steak, a good stew this time of year or roast meats.


Rather enjoyed Sainsburys Era Costana Crianza at a family gathering last week. Deep but fruity enough to savour with all types of food - we had homemade sausage rolls, hand crafted scotch eggs  (slight variation - had horseradish and beetroot within) - and honey cinnamon biscuits. Do so love a Rioja and this one didn't disappoint. Also paired particularly well with own Hummus, basil pasta and charred chicken salad.

Valentine Day fast approaches, quick - have a couple of samples to try before the Day itself, perhaps a nice pink rose, Barefoot maybe or a Da Luca Italia, actually think it might just have to be Aldi's Della Italia Prosecco - watch this space . . .

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wee Drammie anyone?

I so enjoy Burns Night - so looking intensely at single malts and it occurred to me that a more affordable scotch must be around somewhere. Mustn't it? Suitably armed with drammie glass, pen and paper I set myself the task of sampling supermarket own brands. Not all in one day and absolutely not all in one sitting but still pretty deliciously dangerous.

The results however were extremely pleasing. Co Operative's 12 year old Highland Single Malt - a mere snip - at 21.99 was as good as - dare I say it - Glenmorangie, my all time very favourite single malt which is never a mere snip, currently retailing at £35.99. You still get that super smooth, well rounded, mellow taste, hold it in your mouth for 5 seconds and even more flavoursome notes are released on that swallow. Terrific. Definitely crushed almonds and some marzipan, hmm maybe not quite as much honey as 'The Great G' but there's warmth and exotic spices in there. Sometimes it's difficult to vocalise 'tastes' - I do hope my descriptions give an inkling of what I'm trying to say. On my regular Best Smooth Wines slot at London's Best Smooth Jazz I often end up babbling on about 'notes' and 'body' much to host Rod's amusement or confusion. Thing is you can't just say 'Yummy' or 'hmmmn' all the time.

Tesco's own brand 12 year old single malt also gives the higher price range a good run for it's money - literally. Aberlour has real competition with the bright pure clear offering from this supermarket. There remain purists among us who would never compromise their favourite scotch whisky but at least we have a decent choice. Thanks guys, I for one appreciate it.

Back to wines, the best in malbecs at the moment have to come from Argentina and Chile, haven't sampled one single dud recently, that pretty much goes for the merlots too. Affordable and widely available in most supermarkets - Famatina Valley Malbec is one great example - it's wholesome, full bodiedly delicious and bursting with cherry/plums.