Pierre Mansour: Wine Society Selector

It does not sell Armand de Brignac ‘Ace of Spades’ Champagne, nor does it sponsor the drinks at footballers’ weddings. The Wine Society doesn’t court the ‘glamour’ end of the drinks business. It quietly gets on with what it has been doing for 168 years – sniffing out interesting and authentic wines and supplying them to its members. So it might be surprising to find that one of the wine buyers at this venerable company was resident DJ at seminal house club Checkpoint Charlie in the early 1990s, playing warm-up sets for superstar DJs. I asked Pierre Mansour to bring a selection of his favourite dance tracks to listen to over lunch accompanied by a few of the Society’s latest finds at Duck Soup in Soho, where you can take your own vinyl.

We started off with one of the first records he ever bought: Frankie Knuckles, Your Love, Trax Records, 1987.

Pierre, or DJ Pierre M as he was known back in the day, was lucky enough to get into both wine and music during the late 80s. This was the start of ground-breaking eras for both music and wine, and he experienced both first hand. The birth of popular electronic music at this time provided an infinite new palette of sounds for producers to play with, and it quickly crystallised into an array of original and distinct new styles. For wine, this period saw the coming of age of New World wines. Previously there was little choice for the wine drinker other than the European classics; then, all of a sudden, vibrant new styles from California, Australia and New Zealand started breaking through.

Next up: 808 State, Pacific 707, ZTT, 1989.

Nonetheless, Pierre’s career progression might be unexpected. At first glance, these two jobs couldn’t be more different, which is probably why Pierre usually keeps his part in the 90s clubbing scene to himself. But they are more similar than you might think. Both involve a type of editing: trawling through hundreds of examples of a particular style to compile a selection that you think is special, one that will excite and inspire. Both rely on keen physical senses, and in-depth knowledge of the styles you want to promote. Both are about bringing pleasure to an audience that share your passion.

Underworld, Rez, Junior Boy’s Own, 1993.

Asking him to choose between wine and music, Pierre gives a tortured smile: “Wine is my job, but I couldn’t give up either… life without wine or music, I mean Christ… I couldn’t pick one over the other.” He first got into wine at university. He would often drink a bottle with friends, but occasionally he shared bottles with his dad, who was building up a collection. The quality and complexity of flavour of what he drank at home was a big contrast to the more simple stuff he drank with his mates. It made him realise it was something worth exploring, so he enrolled himself onto a wine course. This led to a part-time holiday job with a Berry Brothers wine shop at Heathrow Airport. This led to a job at a Berry Brothers wine shop at Heathrow Airport. Because of the shop hours, he worked a three days on, three days off shift system, which gave him plenty of time to concentrate on music in between working with wine.

E-Dancer, The Human Bond, KMS Records, 1998.

The rest of the time Pierre was concentrating on music. Though not based in London, the club soon started attracting international DJs thanks to the pristine quality of the sound system. He soon found himself warming up for the likes of Billy Nasty, Terry Francis and Carl Cox, and playing in clubs like Slam in Glasgow, the Ministry of Sound in London, and further afield in France and Amsterdam.

This one is a track written by Pierre and friends: Jefferies Lee, Echo Jazz, Abnormal Records. Also featured on ‘Tyrant: No shoes, no cake’ – a Fabric mix CD compiled by Craig Richards in 2002.

At this point his career could have gone either way, spending half his time working in wine and half in music. After completing the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma he found himself gravitating towards wine, even though the scene was quite stuffy back then. His main motivation? The people. Despite being fun, the music industry had too many big egos to contend with. It’s hard to imagine two more different scenes in 90s Britain: sedate, studious wine tastings in St James’s by day; booming futuristic sounds in warehouses by night. But it was partly thanks to the large-scale parties of the early 90s that these social barriers began to dissolve.

Robot Man, Do Dah Doo (Plastikman’s Acid House remix), Definitive Records, 1994.

Things have moved on a lot since then, and the wine scene has changed as much as the musical landscape. When he was first working in wine, most of the people he met were “ex-public school and the nobility”, but since then wine has opened up to all walks of life: “Wine is trendy – much more than it used to be. Many myths have been removed”. He explains that this is partly thanks to supermarkets making wine more accessible, and partly to the general standard of wine on offer improving. Pierre’s tastes in music have also developed, but remain resolutely electronic.

Burial, Street Halo, Hyperdub, 2011.

To Pierre, the parallels between music and wine are clear. One thing he finds particularly fascinating to explore in both is regionality. He points out that as grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have distinctly recognisable regional styles, so do types of music. House music from London is very different to that produced in Chicago, New York or Paris, and they are immediately recognisable to aficionados. Like the regional differences wine lovers pick up between Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire, California or Marlborough.

The Prodigy, Your Love, XL Recording, 1991.

It’s not surprising that so many music lovers find themselves drawn to wine, and vice-versa. The guys that import XL Records in Australia are wine nuts. Mike D from the Beastie Boys blogs on wine for James Suckling’s website. DJ and label boss Giles Peterson is certainly partial to a nice drop of red. After all, wine, like music, is entertainment; just for the mouth and nose instead of the ears. They are both better shared. Both can be cover a range of styles. And whether you’re into classical, disco, or house; Chardonnay, Syrah or Steen - there’s a style out there to suit everyone’s taste. And it’s thanks to selectors like Pierre that we get to sample the best.


Thanks to Duck Soup in Soho for letting us borrow their downstairs room.


The Wines


Prince Ştirbey, Tămâioasă Românească Sec, 2010
100% Romanian Muscat grapes from Dragasani, Romania
£9.50 available from The Wine Society

Perfumed, floral and grapefruity. Very clean and fresh. Smells like it is going to taste sweet, but has a dry, clean, perfumed finish. Best Romanian wine I’ve had in a while. 88 points, good value.

Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken, Riesling Kabinett, 2009
100% Riesling grapes from the Mosel, Germany
£13.25 available from The Wine Society

Mandarin, sweet lime, lemon, and a whiff of white pepper. Medium-bodied, with zingy acidity and a finish like striking a tuning fork. Low alcohol (8% ABV) is a bonus. It reminded us a bit of electro – crystal clean and precisely defined sounds/flavours. We tried listening to some at the same time to see if it improved the flavour of the wine or the sound of the music. Did it make any difference? No, not really. Didn’t matter – great wine anyway. 90 points, good value.


Cruz de Piedra, Garnacha, 2010
100% Garnacha (Grenache) grapes from Calatayud, Northern Spain
£5.50 available from The Wine Society

Intensely fruity nose, mostly strawberries, with a little hint of cocoa. Simple quaffing stuff but well made. Cheap Garnacha often has too much alcohol or too little acidity – but not this one. “Beaujolais on steroids” Pierre suggested – a pretty accurate summary. 87 points, good value.

Château La Dauphine, 2006
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes from Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
£17.00 available from The Wine Society

Mellow, rich, stewed dark fruits – 6 years on and it’s showing some age (in a good way). Medium-bodied, with a silky texture and soft tannins. Dry, but with a hint of sweet ripeness to the fruit flavours and a bit of cola from the oak ageing. Smooth, drinkable and a little bit luxurious. 89 points, good value.


Article first published on www.timatkin.com.

Wine Sampling Session: Internet Face Off

If you buy the weekend newspapers you’re bound to see promotions from time to time for cases of wine from mail order or internet wine companies. The discounts are eye-catching: 50%, 60%, 70% off… But the wines they sell are often exclusive to them so you can’t compare prices – and you can’t try before you buy. So how do you know if you should get involved?

I organised a tasting last week for 20 of us – no experts, just normal drinkers – to sample a few wines to see what we thought. I asked four mail order companies – Laithwaite's Wine, Virgin Wines, Naked Wines and Stone, Vine & Sun – each to send in a selection of wines that would give an idea of what they offered. Almost like a trailer, so we could sample some of the highlights to get an idea of whether we wanted to see the bigger picture.

Mail order wine in the UK is big business, and it’s a tangled family tree. Laithwaite's Wine is one of a number of different mail order wine businesses that are owned by parent company Direct Wines. Direct Wines is a family-owned company that was founded in 1969 by Tony Laithwaite, and now owns Laithwaite's Wine, The Sunday Times Wine Club, The Telegraph Wine Service, Avery’s and a number of other international wine clubs. It has an annual turnover in excess of £340m.

It also happens to own Virgin Wines, but this is run as an independent company, so I thought it would be interesting to include them as well, particularly as they are such a recognisable name. When it was bought in 2008 by Direct Wines, the MD, Rowan Gormley, left Virgin Wines – and set up a new company – Naked Wines.

Stone, Vine and Sun is the plucky underdog. Much smaller than the other three companies, it was established in 2002 by Simon Taylor, who was previously a specialist in Victorian paintings for Sotheby’s for 23 years. It doesn’t advertise like the three bigger companies, so it has to rely on word of mouth.

Every company sent in four wines, each one within a different price band: £5.00 - £7.99; £8.00 - £10.99; £11.00 - £14.99; and £15.00 - £18.99. We tasted the wines in each price band together – but the company that sent in each wine wasn’t revealed until the end. That way, we could see without prejudice which supplier, if any, offered wines which were best suited to our individual preferences.

With a total of 16 wines to get through it was a fast and furious sampling session. We rated the wines from 0 and 10, from unspeakably disgusting to lifechangingly awesome. To calibrate our scores, we agreed that a score of 5 equated to an average, forgettable but inoffensive wine. A 6 was decent, but not worth buying; a 7 was a good wine that we would buy if we saw again at that price.

So how did they perform? Part of me was hoping this might be a dramatic David and Goliath tale of the little guy beating the bigger players. But the company that attracted the most number of points for its wines was the new kid in town… Naked Wines.

But there is a caveat: to get the prices that Naked Wines have quoted, you can’t simply buy a case like you can with the other suppliers. You have to be part of their Angel scheme, and commit to putting £20 into your Naked Wines account every month… you can find a more detailed description of how they operate in my previous post.


Here are some stats


Average score per wine across all four companies: 7.22/10

Average score for Naked Wines: 7.44

Average score for Virgin Wines: 7.42

Average score for Stone, Vine & Sun: 7.05

Average score for Laithwaite's Wine: 6.95

So no individual supplier actually performed that badly; in fact, there wasn’t that much in it.


Number of top ranking wines across the four groups:

Naked Wines: 2 - Franck Massard 'Herbis' Verdejo 2011 (£6.99) with 7.19 points and Hacienda Don Hernan Rioja Reserva 2006 (£9.99) with 7.44 points.

Virgin Wines: 2 - The Big Mo' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009 (£12.99) with 8.69 points and Fromm La Strada Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (£16.99) with 8.31 points.

Stone, Vine & Sun: 0

Laithwaite's Wine: 0

It would seem that Naked Wines performed better at the cheaper end, and Virgin Wines were particularly strong with the more expensive bottles. The Big Mo’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009 from Virgin was the highest scoring wine of all, and they also supplied the second favourite – the Fromm La Strada Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010.


…and number of bottom ranking wines across the four groups:

Naked Wines: 1 - Balthazar of the Barossa Shiraz 2007 (£17.99) with 7.94 points.

Virgin Wines: 1 - Blackfoot Daisy Pinot Grigio South Eastern Australia 2011 (£7.99) with 5.63 points.

Stone, Vine & Sun: 0

Laithwaite's Wine: 2 - Keep Calm and Carignan Vin de France 2010 (£9.99) with 6.31 points and Tony Jordan Margaret River Zinfandel 2010 (£13.99) with 7.00 points.

The Keep Calm and Carignan was marked down by some people due to its label; of the other ‘least favourites’ two were still marked overall at 7 or above, so still a ‘would buy’, but the others in their group were preferred. There were two other wines that scored under 7, both of which were in the cheapest category: they were the Vicien Malbec 2009 from Stone, Vine & Sun with 5.88 points and the Viña Tarapacá Sauvignon Blanc 2011 with 6.44 points from Laithwaite's Wine. This does mean however that two out of four Laithwaite's Wine entries were considered ‘decent but not worth buying’.


Overall, the standard of the wines sent in was pretty good. Almost all of the wines sent in by the bigger three companies (Laithwaite's Wine, Virgin and Naked) were either New World, or New World in style. So lots of crowd-pleasing, correctly-made wines with clean, intense fruit flavours and often a fair lick of oak. Stone, Vine & Sun were rather different and offered three Old World wines, and even their Malbec was surprisingly savoury. Perhaps including wines like these in the tasting was rather like putting on a few art-house or foreign films at the local cinema; a few people really loved them, but their subtlety was often overlooked in favour of the razzmatazz of the big-budget blockbusters.

This was a really fun tasting that gave us all a better idea of what these particular wine suppliers are all about. There are of course dozens of mail order and internet retailers out there, and many have a particular speciality. It’s just a case of finding which ones offer the kind of thing you like. What this tasting couldn’t tell us is what their service is like… the only way to find that out is to try them.


A few things always worth asking before you order from an internet or mail order wine company

  • Is there a minimum order?
  • Is there a delivery charge?
  • What control do I have over delivery days/times/slots?
  • Can I get a refund if I don’t like the wine?


Here is how the four companies that we tried out compare:

Is there a minimum order? Is there a delivery charge? When do they deliver? Refund if you don't like the wine? Anything else worth knowing?
Virgin Wines 12 bottles but can be mixed. Free over £150, otherwise £6.99. Deliveries in 3 - 5 working days between 7am - 7pm, can't specify a time. Next day before 1pm or on Saturday before 1pm for a £3 surcharge. Yes Certain promotions available e.g. 20% off for signing up to regular 3 monthly pre-mixed cases.
Stone, Vine & Sun No Free if over £250. Otherwise 1-5 bots £8.50; 6-11 bots £6.95; 12 bots £5.50; 13-24 bots £8.50; 25+ bots £10. Next day delivery if they receive your order before 1pm. Deliveries 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, can't state a time. Not on Saturday or Sunday. Yes No, simple as that.
Laithwaite's Wine No £7.99 for 3 working days delivery. Next day delivery available for £8.99 if they receive your order before 2pm. Includes Saturday but not Sunday. For £9.99 you can specify AM delivery. Yes Certain introductory offers available, especially if you sign up to regular cases.
Naked Wines 6 bottles but can be mixed. Free over £75, otherwise £4.99. Next day delivery if they receive your order before 5pm. Deliveries 8am - 6pm, Monday to Friday, can't state a time. Can deliver on Saturdays for £6.99 but not Sundays. Yes You have to deposit £20 into your Naked Wines account every month; you can spend it (or withdraw it) at any time to get the quoted prices - otherwise they'd be at least 25% more expensive.


The wines in full

Suppier Average score
£5.00 - 7.99
1 Blackfoot Daisy Pinot Grigio 2011 (South Eastern Australia) 2011 £7.99 VIRGIN 5.63
2 Franck Massard 'Herbis' Verdejo 2011 (Rueda, Spain) £6.99 NAKED 7.19
3 Vina Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Maipo Valley, Chile) £6.99 LAITHWAITE'S 6.44
4 Vicien Malbec 2009 (Catamarca, Argentina) £7.95 SVS 5.88
£8.00 - 10.99
5 Hacienda Don Hernan Rioja Reserva 2006 (Rioja, Spain) £9.99 NAKED 7.44
6 Domaine du Grand Arc Corbières, Reserve Grand Arc 2010 (Languedoc, France) SVS 7.13
7 Keep Calm and Carignan 2010 (Vin de France) £9.99 LAITHWAITE'S 6.31
8 Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2008 (Maipo, Chile) £9.99 VIRGIN 7.06
£11.00 - 14.99
9 Domaine Belles Pierres 'Les Clauzes de Jo' 2010 (Languedoc, France) £11.75 SVS 7.19
10 Small & Small 'Theodore' Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (New Zealand) £11.99 NAKED 7.19
11 The Big Mo' Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009 (Barossa, Australia) £12.99 VIRGIN 8.69
12 Tony Jordan Margaret River Zinfandel 2010 (Western Australia) £13.99 LAITHWAITE'S 7.00
£15.00 - 18.99
13 Masson-Blondelet, Pouilly-Fume 'Pierres de Pierre' 2009 (Loire, France) £16.95 SVS 8.00
14 Fromm La Strada Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand) £16.99 VIRGIN 8.31
15 Domaine Bott Geyl 'Les Elements' Gewurztraminer 2009 (Alsace, France) £17.99 LAITHWAITE'S 8.06
16 Balthazar of the Barossa Shiraz 2007 (Barossa, Australia) £17.99 NAKED 7.94

Thanks to Good Taste Food and Drink, the best food and drink shop in Crystal Palace, for letting us use their shop for the tasting. Thanks to Laithwaite's Wine, Virgin Wines, Naked Wines and Stone, Vine & Sun for including their wines in the tasting.

Naked Wines – should you redeem that voucher?

Everyone loves a bargain. And there’s one little offer that keeps catching my eye – a voucher for Naked Wines. Sometimes for £20, sometimes for £30, sometimes for £40 off… or even more. And it’s not just me – every other week I get a text from a friend asking me if they should redeem it.

Naked Wines operate a bit differently to other wine companies. This is one reason, no doubt, they get your attention with a generous discount to attract you to their website, as it takes them a moment or two to explain their offering.

In brief:

  • You can buy wine from Naked online like you would with any traditional online wine shop.
  • Or you can join their club and buy wine as an ‘Angel’ which gives you certain benefits.

To become an Angel, you have to deposit £20 per month into your Naked Wines account, which you can spend at any time. The benefit to you is that you get cheaper prices, at least 25% off their list prices. This is made possible as Naked can use this large pot of cash, made up of Angels’ deposits, to invest in buying wines at keen prices. One way they do this is by offering free loans to winemakers (which can help them make immediately better wines) in return for preferential rates on the finished product. So the idea is that by crowdsourcing funds for the loans, Naked get better wines for cheaper rates and pass on the saving.

Is it popular? Yes it is. There are currently over 100,000 Angels on their books in the UK, collectively depositing over £2m per month.

The way Naked operates makes for happy winemakers – a number I spoke to were very happy with their relationship with Naked. Many customers see this as an added benefit – a kind of feel-good factor. Additionally, the website supports a busy social network that includes both members and winemakers. Winemakers get feedback about their wines from customers, customers can interact with winemakers and ask them questions, and members can rate and recommend wines to each other. I would imagine that most members would sooner take the advice of the other members they follow rather than count on reviews of the wines like the ones below. In the wine world, when it comes to social, Naked are one of the best.

They currently have 202 wines available to UK customers (they are in the process of launching in the US), from £5.99 per bottle (I’m only quoting their Angel prices here, since the vast majority of their customers buy as Angels). Two-thirds are under £10. Only 10% of the range is over £12. The average spend on a bottle of wine at Naked is £7.00 (more than £2 above the UK average). Most of what they sell is exclusive to Naked, so it’s not possible to compare their list prices to see how they stack up against other retailers. But from the fifty wines I tasted, whilst their list prices did not, generally speaking, represent good value for money, their Angel prices did offer fair or good value.

In terms of how they sit in the retail landscape, Naked sits somewhere between supermarkets and independent merchants. Their winemakers are often commercially minded producers who are happy to act upon feedback from Angels. They are often keen to tinker with the blend and iron out any creases to ensure the wine appeals to club members. As a company it is approachable, easy-going, and non-threatening. And, broadly, so are their wines. Words that kept cropping up in my notes were ‘friendly’ and ‘easy drinking’.

Characterful wines by headstrong winemakers are sometimes hard to get your head around, but are more likely to be remembered. In the long run, I often find a wine more impressive when it’s me that has to get used to it, rather than the other way around. But perhaps this is a bit much to ask of a Tuesday night glugger. Naked’s selection is largely everyday drinking stuff, so it’s surely a good thing that they are willing to iron out any perceived flaws for their customers. But if they were my only source of wines, after a while I might soon be craving something with a more forceful character or something a bit more challenging. After all, sometimes it’s the beauty spot that makes the face.

Few wines I tried at their recent London tasting were terribly complex or unusual. But that’s not to say that wines don’t have ‘typicité’ i.e. ‘typicality’ - they do still taste how you expect them to taste for a wine of that variety and region. And, unlike most supermarkets, there were no real stinkers. If you are happy to join up as an Angel, it can be a source of some decent everyday wines at good prices, with an additional element that is too often missing when shopping for wine – fun. So should you redeem that voucher? If it means you could get a case of wines like the ones listed below at Angel prices, go for it.


Some highlights:




Mas Sardana Cava NV
A blend of Xarel-lo and Macabeo grapes from Penedès, Spain
£10.99 list price or £7.99 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Pretty classic apple, pear and citrus fruits. Lovely soft fizz in the mouth, then with intense fresh flavours. Dry (but only just), this is a cracking cava. 89 points, good value at list price/very good value at Angel price.




Raats Original Chenin Blanc 2011
100% Chenin Blanc grape from Stellenbosch, South Africa
£9.99 list price or £7.49 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Apple and lime fruits on the nose with a hint of honey. Full-bodied, but fresh, and with enough acidity to cut through the rounded texture. Long finish. 89 points, good value at list price/very good value at Angel price.

Klein Riesling ‘S’ Trocken 2011
100% Riesling grape from Pfalz, Germany
£13.99 list price or £10.49 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Attractive satsuma and orange oil on the nose, very inviting. Intensely flavoured, just about dry, with gleaming acidity running into the long finish. 89 points, fair value at list price/good value at Angel price.

Dominic Hentall Saint Véran 2010
100% Chardonnay grape from Burgundy, France
£ unconfirmed list price or £12.49 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Soft, floral nose (orange blossom). Medium to full-bodied feel in the mouth. Oak used with care and precision, little overt oak flavour but with an enjoyable creamy texture and finish. Nicely done. 88 points, good value at Angel price.




Domaine O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2010
A blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Languedoc, France
£12.99 list price or £7.99 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Dry, but with juicy, ripe fruit. Punchy intensity of black fruit flavour riding on into the quite long finish. Enough acidity to hold it all together. 87 points, not great value at list price/good value at Angel price.

Carlos Rodriguez Rioja Reserva 2007
100% Tempranillo grape from Rioja, Spain
£12.99 list price or £9.49 Angel price available at Naked Wines

“Carlos is in the unique position of being able to buy the best grapes the region has to offer.” Really??  Naked Wines copy aside, this is a pretty classic, savoury style of Rioja with black olive and black fruits. Properly dry, not too oaky and ready to drink now. 88 points, not great value at list price/good value at Angel price.

Benjamin Darnault Organic Saint Chinian 2010
60% Syrah and 40% Grenache grapes from Languedoc, France
£12.99 list price or £9.75 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Intense, lively, spicy nose. Expressive, juicy fruit. Great balance, long flavours and full-bodied. Very drinkable. 89 points, fair value at list price/good value at Angel price.

Raats Family Cabernet Franc 2009
100% Cabernet Franc grape from Stellenbosch, South Africa
£17.99 list price or £13.49 Angel price available at Naked Wines

Leafy blackcurrant, cassis, licorice and cinnamon all rising up from the glass, lots going on. Juicy currant flavours, with a hint of smoke. Full-bodied, with alcohol quite high, but good acidity and a long finish. This is serious stuff. 91 points, fair value at list price/good value at Angel price.

Slovenia: Cracking wines

Driving across Slovenia doesn’t take long. About three hours from one corner to the other; it’s about the size of Wales, or slightly smaller than New Jersey. It’s a picturesque journey – from the palm trees of the western coast, past pine-covered, snow-capped mountains, arriving finally at the rolling hills of the eastern border with Croatia. If you don’t know where in Europe it is exactly, you’d be forgiven; the break up of the former Yugoslav Federation 21 years ago is bound to instil a bit of doubt. It’s here:


… and yes, it does look like a chicken, doesn’t it?

In a nutshell, when it comes to the wines of Slovenia, think of a kind of cross between Germany, Austria and New Zealand. Whites are its strong suit; wines tend to be pure, expressive and aromatic but often punchy and intense in flavour.

There are three main regions, each with their own character and classic styles: Primorje (the coastal area around the Adriatic Sea and the border of Italy – the chicken’s back foot and tail); Posavje (the chicken’s breast) and Podravje (the chicken’s head).

Primorje (the back end of the chicken), although closest to the sea, is best known for its reds. A fair bit of Cabernet and Merlot is grown here, particularly further south, but the most interesting grape is Refošk (pronounced ‘refoshk’ aka Refosco). The Bordeaux blends can be good, but Refošk is certainly hard to ignore. It is made in two different styles; one is like an intense, high-acid Beaujolais, made for early drinking; the other is deep, full-bodied, and matured in oak with medium to long-term ageing in mind. There are some good examples of both, from houses such as Vinakoper, but elsewhere it’s not hard to find some bottles with undrinkably high levels of acidity. Further north towards Italy, there is more emphasis on minerally whites.

In the 70s and 80s, Slovenia used to export a lot of wine, and it was known in particular for cheap, poor quality Laški Rizling (aka Welschriesling) – these days spoken about in the same breath as Liebfraumilch and other crimes. Fortunately, this all occurred while I was still on the orange squash, so I never had the chance to try them. I tasted a couple while I was over there and they were both quite enjoyable – I suspect the winemaking back then was to blame rather than the variety itself. What isn’t OK however is Cviček (‘svitcheck’). It is one of the worst styles of wine I have ever tasted, and it comes from Posavje (the chicken’s breast).

Cviček is very wrong indeed. It comes in many forms, but is usually a pale, pinky-red blend of white and red varieties (mostly Laški Rizling and Blaufränkisch), with low (7.5% - 10%) alcohol, low (sometimes no) tannin and blistering acidity. I tasted a few so you don’t have to: my notes are sprinkled with words like ‘bitter’, ‘thin’ and ‘harsh’. It is still massively popular in Slovenia (over 1m litres a year production, and only 2m total population) but I have no idea why. Perhaps I’m just yet to encounter the amazing ones. By all accounts they do make some good delicate, subtle whites in this region, and these are the ones to explore.

Thankfully next door is Podravje (the chicken’s head) which is better known for fuller, richer (yet still aromatic) whites. They make a fair bit of Laški Rizling, some crisp, flavoursome Sauvignon Blanc and some striking, no-nonsense Šipon (‘shipon’ aka Furmint), along with some Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Their late harvest and fully sweet wines can be world-class.

Most of the wine produced in Slovenia is drunk locally, and much of the small amount that is exported goes to neighbouring Balkan countries. Some of the larger wineries now have enough capacity to make it worthwhile looking further afield to sell their wines, and some ambitious smaller wineries are also keen on reaching a wider audience. This is creating a drive towards better quality, and also increasing experimentation, such as sparkling Furmint. As such, we are starting to see them more and more on shelves in the UK and US. There was a real sense of optimism among the winemakers I met.

Slovenia has one of the oldest winemaking histories in Europe, with evidence of winemaking going back to the 4th century BC, but in many ways it feels like the start of a new era for its wine industry. Currently, in the UK at least, there is little knowledge of Slovenian wine so little demand for it. The wines that do make it this far are being sold on quality and value rather than reputation or brand. If you are a fan of cool-climate wines, they are well worth a try.


Some highlights:


Dveri-Pax Sivi Pinot 2008
100% Sivi Pinot (aka Pinot Gris) from Jarenina, Podravje, Slovenia
£9.80 from The Ox House Wine Company

Golden in colour, this is rich and mature with spicy vanilla flavours over apricot and peach. Full-bodied, with a creamy texture but enough acidity to keep it all in balance. The spicy oak flavours are to the fore, but with good intensity of fruit flavours as well. Medium length. 88 points, good value.

Gomila ‘Exceptional’ Furmint 2011
100% Furmint grape from Ormož, Podravje, Slovenia
£11.99 from Wine Unfurled

Bright lemon in colour, this has a heady aroma of lemon, kumquat and banana with a hint of spice. Very clean, defined flavours. Intensely concentrated, with more citrussy acidity in the mouth, a tiny touch of tannin and a mineral edge. Medium to full-bodied, this is intense, long, modern, and very impressive. 91 points, very good value.

Verus Riesling 2010
100% Riesling grape from Ormož, Podravje, Slovenia
£13.50 from South Downs Cellars

Fresh and vibrant with lots of satsuma and jasmine. Crackling acidity, with lime cordial and more satsuma and mandarin on the palate. Well balanced and long. 90 points, good value.


Many thanks to Cube Communications (who represent p&f wineries) for organising the trip.

How to organise a wine tasting

When you arrange to meet your mates for an evening down the pub, no-one calls it a ‘beer tasting’, do they? Well if a ‘wine tasting’ is done right, it’s pretty much the same as a night in the pub, but with lots of different interesting wines to try instead of the same old lager all night. And with a decent bottle of wine from a shop costing the same as 3 pints in a pub, it needn’t be any more expensive.

The term ‘wine tasting’ has a lot of baggage attached to it. It conjures up an image of unpronounceable Burgundies being sipped by a monocle-wearing bastard and his purse-lipped wife. Anyone got a better term? I prefer ‘wine sampling session’ or ‘wine drinking’; it’s more accurate. Maybe just tell people you’re going to open a bunch of fine wines and they’re invited. Now who wouldn’t like the sound of that?

It's easy:

1. Find a venue

Try to find a friendly local restaurant or pub that will let you bring some bottles with you if you order a bit of food, or maybe for a small charge per bottle. Failing that, do it at home if you have enough room, but you’ll need enough glasses to go around and you’ll have to supply a bit of food or people will get hungry (some decent bread or a few pizzas tends to do the job). Couple of jugs of water would also be a good idea.

2. Invite some friends

If there’s just two or three of you, splitting the cost of a bunch of bottles would be more expensive, and you might end up with a lot of unfinished wines. Don't let it stop you though, you can always finish them off over the next couple of days. Between 6 and 16 people is ideal. More than 16 people or so and a bottle won’t go around everyone.

3. Think of a theme

It can be as simple as a grape variety or winemaking region, but the more creative the better. Either ask everyone to bring a bottle, or, even better, buy an interesting range of bottles yourself and get everyone to chip in. Call an independent wine shop/your local Majestic/Slurp.co.uk etc and ask them for suggestions; get them to email or print out some info on each wine; then organise delivery. Stick any whites, rosés, sparkling or sweet wines in the fridge when they arrive.

4. Tell people what they are drinking

In all likelihood the wines will be new to most people, and they’ll want to know a little bit about what they are drinking. On the night, just taste 2 or 3 at a time, read out a bit of the info that the shop supplied or you found on the internet, then have a break so people can go back to talking about The Voice/Champions League/Prometheus/the person they work with who is a dirty stop out. When you finish the final group of wines maybe get people to vote on their favourite, which ones they liked or didn’t like, or which ones they would buy again. You might want to supply pens and paper so people can write down which ones they liked. But they can always photograph the label with their phones.

Most nights down the pub are fun, but hardly nights to remember; a night round a friend’s house tucking into a selection of fine wines would be. Obviously you can never replace the pub, but getting stuck into a few bottles of decent wine can be just as entertaining, if not more.

If you’ve got any questions, just use the comments box below.  Do let me know about any that you put on and how they go. I set up the occasional informal sampling session myself; if you want me to add you to the mailing list, send me an email – mw(at)mattwalls.co.uk. Equally, if you want me to set up and host a special tasting for your friends/family/colleagues, get in touch.

Sherry: Collision Course

Last week I posted a crash course on sherry. Sherry is a relic, a throwback from an earlier age of winemaking. No-one would set out to make a wine in the way that sherry is made; but it is precisely this process that gives it its unique properties. If you value intensity, complexity and length of flavour in a wine, few can match it. And with food, it works better than any other style. So explore it now – while you still can.

Fortunes are made and lost in sherry. It is big business, but one still dominated by proud individuals and families. The three pillars of Andalusian culture are flamenco, bullfighting and sherry. If his or her strengths don’t lie in the physical realm, the patriotic Andalusian can still stake a claim to greatness through the business of sherry. In the 1950s José María Ruiz-Mateos built his Rumasa business empire on it. At its peak, the group is said to have bought three banks. On a single day.

Today it’s more common to make your money elsewhere, and enter the sherry business afterwards. It’s easier to lose a fortune than to make one these days. As smaller bodegas struggle and fold, they are swallowed up by the bigger players. This doesn’t mean business is good for the larger houses. In order to survive, increasingly they are having to diversify. Whether it’s still white wines and Iberico ham (Barbadillo); stud farms and bottling spirits for other firms (Grupo Estevez); or red wines, brandy and energy drinks (Osborne); it seems like every house has other interests that help keep their sherry operation afloat. Osborne’s sherries now account for a mere 5% of its business.

'Inocente' at the Grupo Estevez stud, named after Valdespino's excellent Fino

The focus of production is polarised: value can be found most readily in two places. At one end is high volume, low margin wines like Fino, Manzanilla or Cream, and supermarket own-label contracts. At the other end is the more expensive, premium VORS sherries (Very Old Rare Sherry – Amontillados, Olorosos, Palo Cortados and Pedro Ximénez with an average age of at least 30 years). The market for these exceptional wines is very small, but the money made per bottle can make it worthwhile. After all, there are increasing numbers of struggling bodegas willing to sell off a barrel of their prestige wines at rock bottom prices to a more solvent neighbour to pay the bills.

An illustrative contrast is between the bottling line at Grupo Estevez (home to the Real Tesoro, Tio Mateo, Valdespino and Spanish market leading Manzanilla La Guita brands) and Bodegas Tradición (Wine & Spirits Magazine Winery of the Year 2011 who specialises in VORS sherries). Bodegas Tradición bottled 15,000 bottles of sherry in 2011; Grupo Estevez has the capacity to bottle 24,000 bottles an hour. Both are doing well.

Bottling line at Bodegas Tradición











Bottling line at Grupo Estevez









More and more small and medium-sized houses are going bust and getting eaten up by their larger neighbours. For us this means that the world of wine becomes smaller, with less variety to explore. The consequences for those employed are far graver. When you visit one of these proud houses, with reputations for excellence, and the people who work there have tears in their eyes, you can’t help but feel for them: "The market has collapsed". Oversupply is a big problem, and it is driving prices down to levels that are problematic for all but the biggest players, or for those who are in it for prestige rather than profit.

Walking around the three sherry towns of the ‘sherry triangle’ – Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto di Santa Maria and Sanlúcar di Barrameda – they have the faded glory of so many English seaside towns. El Puerto and Sanlúcar are not without their charm, but remind you more of Hastings than Padstow. I asked a director of large sherry house what has kept Sanlúcar’s economy afloat, since sherry’s decline; his answer? “Hashish, probably”. I'm not sure if he was joking. During a visit to another good quality bodega, it was necessary for the guide to turn on the lights and bang on the door to disperse the bats before we entered. We were the only people on site for the duration of our visit. Their wines were excellent. They have gone into administration.

I endured some gentle ribbing during our trip: “The English are pirates. When they couldn’t steal it anymore they came and did it legally.” Some people have long memories. But there’s no denying it; in 1587 Sir Francis Drake mounted a raid on the port of Cadiz and stole ‘2,900 pipes’ of wine (between two and two and a half million bottles). By the late 1700s the English and Spanish had made up, and the British firms of Osborne, Duff Gordon and Garvey were well established – to be joined by a host of other familiar British names that you still see on sherry bottles today (albeit pronounced with a Spanish accent). None of this was mentioned with animosity; quite the opposite in fact: “the history of this wine is a common history" implored one bodega employee, pointing to his maturing barrels "...this is you.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom – at least not for us drinkers. Although this is a terrible time for sherry producers, it is an cold fact that for us there has never been a better time to explore one of the most unusual and rewarding styles of wine on the planet. Total vineyard capacity has reduced by 50% in the past 10 years – the first to be abandoned being the lowest in quality, meaning the quality of fruit is at an all time high. On top of this, ongoing reduction in demand has led to extraordinarily low prices. And just to make it that little bit easier, more and more tapas bars are springing up around the country offering sherry by the glass. In London alone half a dozen or more sherry bars have sprung up over the past few years. And though times are tough for many producers and shippers, there are still a number of them finding ways to spread the message despite limited resources. We’ve never had it so good.

To help our Spanish business partners and to do right by our intrepid ancestors, what is required of the British? To drink more sherry, and introduce it to our friends. Never has a less onerous task deserved a heartier pat on the back. Now is the time to explore this incredible drink.


Some highlights


Barbadillo ‘Solear’ Manzanilla NV
100% Palomino grapes from Jerez, Spain
£6.78 available from Underwood Wine Warehouse

Noticeable yeastiness (brown bread) on the nose after a long 6 years under flor. Medium-bodied, slightly meaty style of Manzanilla. 88 points, good value.

Sanchez Romate Amontillado NV
100% Palomino grapes from Jerez, Spain
£8.95 available from Imbibros

Classic spicy nose, with a touch of burnt corn. Liquorice and roasted nuts on the palate. Long, with a dry, savoury finish. Perhaps just a touch aggressive, but enjoyably punchy. 88 points, good value.

Solera 1842, Oloroso Dulce VOS, NV
100% Palomino grapes from Jerez, Spain
£26.95 available from Lea & Sandeman

A walnutty nose that smells like it’s going to be dry, but then has a hint of sweetness that helps round off the edges. Full-bodied, with tingling acidity and a savoury finish. Very long, and perfectly balanced. 92 points, good value.

Bogegas Tradición, Palo Cortado VORS, NV
100% Palomino grapes from Jerez, Spain
£59.25 available from Raeburn Fine Wines

Soft and fragrant, with aromas of hazelnut, walnut, orange peel, old furniture, leather, dried fruit and caramel; high-toned with a touch of spice. Medium-bodied with a silky texture. Very pure, long and direct. Perfectly balanced, with a rare lightness, delicacy and florality for such an old wine. Profound. 94 points, good value.


Thanks to Bodegas Barbadillo for taking us out for tapas.

See you later Prometheus, here's the trailer to Drink Me!

A couple of weeks ago we filmed a trailer for my new book, Drink Me. The idea behind it is to give people who are considering buying a copy online a quick (three and a half minute) intro into the kind of stuff the book covers and whether it might be what they are looking for. Not so easy to flick through a copy if it's just on a screen, after all.

This is the final edit.




The book will be available in shops and online from 24th May.

Thanks to Quadrille and Oliver's Island for organising the shoot and inadvertently supplying us all with a cast-iron excuse for some pre-lunch drinking.

Sherry: Crash Course

Who knew squid testicles could be so delicious? More to the point, which lunatic tried cooking with them in the first place? I only felt mildly grossed out once I’d got back to England. At the time, sitting in a tapas bar in southwest Spain, they proved a tasty morsel, albeit rather rubbery. This isn’t the first time the Andalusians have developed something strange but delicious in the realm of food and drink. I looked at the glass of Manzanilla sherry in my hand and contemplated how such a unique wine might have come about.

Sherry essentially comes in two distinct types – white (Manzanilla or Fino) or brown (Amontillado, Oloroso or Palo Cortado). These are the ones that are most worth exploring. You can also get Cream sherries, which are sweetened Finos and rarely that interesting; and a very sweet black sherry called Pedro Ximénez, which is made in a different way with a different grape variety and tastes nothing like the others. Let’s stick to the white and brown varieties.

All sherries start their life as normal white wines made from the Palomino grape, but then they are matured in different ways to produce different styles. Winemaking was probably introduced by the Phoenicians who inhabited this corner of Spain from 1,100BC. It’s hard to know what these primitive sherries would have tasted like, but wines like the brown sherries we still drink today were almost certainly being made by the late 1400s. The white ones are relative newcomers. No individual invented them; Eva Buzon of Bodegas Argüeso explains that the first written documents referring to Manzanilla date from 1823, though it appears they were being developed long before that. It’s hard to imagine such a product coming into being in these days of quality control, health & safety and stringent winery hygiene. Looking inside a barrel of maturing Manzanilla, you are greeted with what looks like a layer of grey mould over the surface. It looks far from appetising.

The inside of a barrel of Manzanilla sherry with 'flor' growing on the surface

What looks like mould is in fact a beneficial film of yeast, known as flor (‘flower’), and it’s this that keeps white sherries white. This style of sherry is called Manzanilla if it’s made in the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda; it’s called Fino if made elsewhere in the sherry region. Flor is delicate, and will only grow in very particular conditions. It feeds off nutrients in the sherry and in return imparts a subtle yeasty flavour; it also creates a barrier between sherry and air, so stops it from oxidising. When maturing sherry comes into contact with air, like a slice of apple left on the chopping board, it starts to go brown.

This is where the brown sherries take their colour. They either start off with this protective film of yeast, but then it dies and leaves the sherry in contact with air (Amontillado or Palo Cortado); or the winemaker adds some high alcohol grape spirit to the freshly made base wine, which inhibits the growth of flor, and the sherry develops for its whole life in contact with air (Oloroso). Either way, they go brown in colour. Their flavour is also affected by this process of oxidation.

So flor plays a part in all sherries apart from Olorosos. It must have taken an intrepid – or desperate – winemaker who first pierced this scum to drink a glass of what lurked beneath. We should be thankful he didn’t just throw it out – surely that is what would happen today if a winemaker found that one of his wines had gone ‘mouldy’. The unexpected result, however, was extraordinary, and unlike any other wine. Sherry is a relic from another age: the wines are unique. Thanks to this ancient and peculiar method of production, nothing else tastes quite like them.

The two white sherries taste alike; as do the three brown sherries. But the difference in flavour between white and brown sherries is huge. Finos and Manzanillas are bracingly dry, fresh, and should be served cold. They have a touch of alcohol added after fermentation, which brings them up to around 15.5% alcohol, just a degree above many New World white wines. They tend to be almost colourless, and the typical flavours and aromas you’ll find are lemon peel, green apple, camomile, sea air, and a yeasty aroma akin to fresh bread. The difference between Finos and Manzanillas is that Manzanillas tend to have a tiny bit more yeastiness and some say a salty tang; Finos tend to be more neutral in flavour.

The three brown sherries all share certain characteristics. They have a more intense aroma and flavour and a fuller, heavier feel in the mouth. They are all dry, except for Olorosos, which can be sweet or dry (both of which can be delicious). With complex aromas of nuts, spices, old wood, and dried fruits, they can be very intense with highly concentrated flavours. These sherries are best served cool rather than cold, and are slightly higher in alcohol (typically between 17% and 21%) than their white cousins. Amontillados tend to be an amber colour, are medium-bodied and have a toasty, spicy, almondy flavour. Olorosos tend to be darker, have a fuller, silkier mouthfeel, and a more walnutty flavour. Palo Cortados tend to have the silky luxurious texture of an Oloroso, but the finer, more fragrant aroma of an Amontillado – the best of both worlds.

When it comes to matching with food, sherry cannot be beaten. Very few dishes can’t be matched with one kind of sherry or another. Bar snacks, salads, cold meats, and seafood all work well with white sherries. Chicken, ham, game birds and cheeses often go well with Amontillados. Richer dishes like stews or braised meats are better matched with Olorosos. Dishes high in umami like shellfish, mushrooms or smoked meats seem to go better with sherries than any other wines. Even traditionally hard-to-match foods like asparagus, artichokes and eggs tend not to clash with a good Fino. And a chilled Manzanilla can even make a tasty meal out of a plate of squid balls.

Sherries have been prized for centuries by those willing to explore the outer reaches of flavour. Try them. Now is the time. I’ll explain the urgency next week.

How to choose the wine for your wedding

When it comes to buying wine, if there’s one time you need to get maximum bang for buck it’s when you’re getting married. It’s the most important day of your life, so you want something special to share with your friends and family; but you’re on a strict budget, and need to keep the price down to a minimum. Because if your friends are anything like mine, you’re going to need an awful lot…

When you could still pay in francs, the best option was to jump in a car/van/removal lorry and nip over to France. This is still the most fun option, but it’s rarely the cheapest any more. The exchange rate against the euro is none too attractive these days, and the expense involved in travel will negate the benefit of the cheaper bottles. And it’s still easy to find some pretty rubbish stuff in French supermarkets, so without a recommendation or the means to sample lots of options, you’re generally better off buying in the UK.

There are three types of wine to consider. The first is a celebratory sparkling wine to offer guests on arrival and for the toasts. Secondly, you’ll need a red and a white to go with the meal. Lastly, you might want to indulge in some sweet wines to go with cheese or dessert. For the best deals on bulk champagne and wine orders, it is often easiest to talk to bigger retailers. A few to consider would be Majestic, Waitrose or an online wine merchant like Slurp.

Choose your fizz first, as this can have a big impact on your overall budget. Plan for around a third to half a bottle per person. It would be wonderful to serve a top champagne like Bollinger or Louis Roederer, but the difference between this and cheaper alternatives could be £20 per bottle. If you need 50 bottles that could mean a total difference of £1000… There are good cheaper champagnes out there, but like all the wines you are considering, test out a bottle before you buy the whole consignment. Try the refreshing Benedick Grand Réserve Brut from Lea & Sandeman at £18.95, or the richer Forget Chemin Carte Blanche at £21.95 from Champagne Warehouse. There are also many excellent non-champagne sparkers out there that would do the job perfectly well, such as Crémant de Limoux or Crémant de Loire from France, or New World fizz like the reliable Jansz (Australia) or great value Lindauer (New Zealand). Prosecco is always an option, but it can be a bit light in flavour for an occasion such as this.

As for the red and white wines, it’s worth thinking about what food you’ll be offering. It’s a bit of a generalisation, but as a rule of thumb if you’re serving beef or lamb, go for wines with powerful flavours. If you’re going for chicken or pork, something more medium-bodied is often a good bet. And if it’s fish or veggie, opt for something light to medium in flavour. If you cater for half a bottle per person, you should have more than enough to see everyone through the meal. In terms of value, some smart areas to explore are southern Italy, southern France, Portugal or Chile. The classic wines of famous areas such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo or Chablis can be breathtaking, but you have to spend a lot more here to get a good example. The best from these regions are, however, hard to beat. Once you’ve made a decision, why not see if they have the wine in extra large bottles, like magnums or jeroboams? If you can’t have large format bottles at a wedding, I don’t know when you can.

At the end of the meal it’s always a treat to have a sweet wine with dessert or cheese. Because they are so diverse, matching wines with cheese and dessert can be tricky, so it would be a good idea to offer at least two. Some good options would be a port (good with blue cheeses and rich desserts including chocolate), a golden sweet wine like Sauternes or Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (good with fresh fruit desserts), and a sweet oloroso sherry (good with many cheeses – and wedding cake). Since these wines are so intensely flavoured, you don’t need much – a bottle should go around at least six people.

If in doubt, order a few extra bottles. It’s always better to have some left over to take home, rather than running out and having to send some drunken ushers on a late night mission. Have a great day!

Describing grape varieties: white grapes

Last week I tried to describe the character of the most common red grape varieties; party by listing the typical aromas and flavours you often detect, and partly by comparing them to someone famous. This week it’s the turn of white grapes. If you’ve got any to add, stick them in the comments box below…



Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, citrus fruits, pineapple, dairy.

Rich, gorgeous and popular, beauty and brains combined. Wins the cheerleading finals and the spelling bee at the same time. Annoyingly talented. On a good day, Chardonnay is Farrah Fawcett, Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson, Leonardo DiCaprio.


Sauvignon Blanc 

Gooseberry, kiwi, elderflower, asparagus, cut grass.

Tall and slim, often elegant and fun. Can get a bit irritating if you're not in the mood. Like Cameron Diaz, Lisa Kudrow, and Jim Carrey.


Chenin Blanc

Quince, lemon, wet dog, honey.

Unassuming but multitalented. Tricky one this. But Chenin is  Jamie Oliver, Ellen DeGeneres and Carole Vorderman.


Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

Apple, pear, melon, Turkish delight.

From shy, retiring, and perhaps a bit dull Pinot Grigio, to self-assured and confident Pinot Gris. Pinot Grigio would be an anonymous commuter on your way to work. Pinot Gris would be JK Rowling or Naomi Klein.



Lime, satsuma, wax.

Bit plain in youth, but takes on interest with age. Hard to warm to, but can be impressive. Semillon is Tilda Swinton and Uma Thurman.



Celery, apricot, peach, rhubarb, mango.

Strongly individual, unusual but characterful and capable of greatness. Great young, great old. Vivienne Westwood and Xena, Warrior Princess.



White peach, apricot, floral.

Pretty, curvy and potentially amazing on many levels. Viognier is Beth Ditto and Marilyn Monroe.



Lemon and lime, petrol, satsuma, jasmine.

Individual, smart and razor-sharp, Riesing doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Mary Portas,  Catwoman or the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia.



Turkish delight, rose, lychee, cinnamon, soap.

Girly and dolled up to the max with layers of makeup and stilettos. Gewürz is Barbie, Britney Spears or Dolly Parton.



Apricot, peach, green grapes, faintly spicy.

Spicy and voluptuous, Torrontés is a crowd pleaser and getting increasing famous. Like Penelope Cruz.



Green apple, honeysuckle, lemon, jasmine.

On the fringes but deserves to be better known. Everyone that gets to know Albariño seems to love it. It is Javier Bardem and Emiliana Torrini.


If you’ve got any to add, or if you agree or disagree, leave your thoughts in the box below…