It's International Grenache Day on Friday 18th September and an opportunity to open some delicious Grenache wines!
Grenache Noir is a versatile grape variety which can adapt to a range of soils and growing conditions. It is known as Grenache in France and most widely planted in the south, particularly in the Rhône Valley and is the base of most of the red blends in Côtes du Rhône wines.
Otherwise it's known as Garnacha in Spain and is now grown all over the world. It is also used for many rosé blends in the Southern Rhône too.
Grenache Blanc is also a popular white variety in the Southern Rhône found in many of the white blends, and Grenache Gris is also popular in blends in the the Southern French wine regions.
This Friday to celebrate Grenache Day I'm going to be opening a selection of wines from Rhône producer Cellier des Dauphins.
Cellier des Dauphins is based in Tulette in the Drôme in the stunning Southern Rhône Valley. It was established in 1965, and is also known as the Union des Vignerons des Côtes du Rhône. It is the leading producer of AOC Côtes du Rhône wines with over 12,500 hectares under vine and 2,300 winegrowing families as members of the co-operative.
Cellier des Dauphins make wines from across the Southern Rhône as AOC Côtes du Rhone, AOC Côtes du Rhône Villages, AOC Côtes du Rhône single village wines such as Plan de Dieu and Puyméras and the top level AOC Cru des Côtes du Rhône such as Vinsobres, Cairanne and Châteauneuf du Pape, under the expert guidance of Chief Winemaker Laurent Paré who joined Cellier des Dauphins in 2018.
The majority of Cellier des Dauphins wines are Grenache based blends.
Laurent gave me the following update on the harvest recently:
This year’s harvest is looking very healthy with the Grenache grapes showing great potential. We were lucky to have some rain recently (27th August) to allow the red grapes to complete their maturation. The 2020 harvest has been one of the earliest for us and we started harvesting Grenache about 2 weeks ago for our Rosé wines and we will be harvesting this week for the red wines. What I love about Grenache is that it’s a varietal that makes us wait for it to achieve the right ripeness!
We will no doubt be harvesting the Grenache grapes on International Grenache day!
Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône White - 70% Grenache Blanc, 30% Viognier - a delicious white Rhône which is exceptionally good value. Currently on offer from Tesco for just £6.50 (normally £8.00)
Cellier des Dauphins Val Soléu Rosé - 80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault - a brand new rosé launched earlier this year from the Drôme Provençal region.
Cellier des Dauphins Réserve Côtes du Rhône Red - 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah - another new wines from Cellier des Dauphins, their Réserve range offers more complexity and a more gastronomic style of wine.
If you are looking for some other delicious Grenache blends for International Grenache Day this Friday then try their Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône red (also on offer at Tesco) or their Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Villages at Waitrose.
Happy Grenache Drinking!
This Friday (1st May) is International Sauvignon Blanc Day #SauvBlancDay - a chance to celebrate all things SB.
I’ll be celebrating with a glass of Yealands Sauvignon Blanc, one of my favourite producers from New Zealand.
Yealands Estate Wines are global leaders in sustainable wine production and they make great quality wines too.
Their sustainable initiatives include development of extensive wetlands, native tree plantings, the installation and utilisation of renewable energy initiatives and integrated pest control measures. They have one of the largest solar panel installations at a winery producing more than 400,000kW hours per year (for comparison the solar panels on our house produce around 1,500) which help power the winery, on top of the 2 wind turbines and burners which produce energy from their vine prunings.
In the vineyard they have Babydoll sheep which graze in between the vines and keep the grass down, limiting the need to mow with tractors. They have 100 free range hens roaming the vineyard to keep pests down and play music to the vines which not only has a positive effect on vine growth but also result in the chickens laying eggs around 16% bigger!
They have also created biodiversity zones surrounding the vineyards to boost native flora and fauna species, specifically butterflies, creating a “Butterfly Gully” to protect the monarch butterfly.
All these great initiatives and I haven’t even mentioned the wine yet!
Yealands are located in the stunning Awatere Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand (which is at the top of the South Island) and their vineyards are close to the coast with amazing coastal views. Wines are made by the talented chief winemaker Natalie Christensen.
They produce Sauvignon Blanc (of course) as well as Pinot Noir and white varietals, Pinot Gris, Riesling & Chardonnay amongst others.
Here are two of their wines I would recommend:
Yealands Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – this is a classic New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style with citrus notes and crisp freshness. Incredibly good value.
Available in Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Spar: £8-9.50 On offer at Sainsbury’s at £7.00 until 5th May
Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – a fuller bodied version of the wine above with fruit coming from selected sites within the vineyard. More of a food friendly wine.
Available in Waitrose: £11.59
Yealands wines are also Vegan.
You literally can’t go wrong with either of these wines so stock up now before Friday and for more info on Yealands follow them on social media:
Facebook: Yealands Estate Wines
#yealands #nzwine #sauvblancday
There was a fantastic initiative recently which ran on Good Friday called #TheBigEnglishWineGoodFriday organised by Jacob Leadley of Black Chalk Wines to encourage people to open a bottle of English wine on Good Friday and support the industry. It was amazing to see how many people engaged with this and I watched a great Insta Live chat run by Brad from WineTimeLondon talking with Mike from Dalwood Vineyards, Dermot from Sugrue and Owen of Hush Heath.
English wine is really gaining momentum at the movement and deservedly so, the quality is great. So as it's St. George's Day tomorrow here are my recommendations of English wines I've tasted and enjoyed - please note I haven't tried a really extensive range so this is just my selection:
Chapel Down - love their wines and drink them regularly - particular fan of their Bacchus and Kit's Coty range.
Nyetimber - smart wines, particularly their Tillington Single Vineyard if a little bit pricey.
Hattingley Valley - their classic and rosé are delicious
Dalwood Vineyards - really interesting wines as use Seyval, Madeline Angervine and Solaris.
Langham Wines - was really impressed by their wines and they're based in the beautiful Dorset! (no prizes for guessing where i'm from)
Black Book - an urban winery just up the road from my house - very impressive Chardonnays.
Sugrue - Dermot Sugrue's wines are something else - he's a very talented winemaker.
Bride Valley - another Dorset gem from wine legend Steven Spurrier.
Gusborne - beautiful wines in beautiful packaging
Three Choirs - We took their Bacchus which I bought from the fab BIB Wine company on holiday last summer and will be doing so again this year - as soon as we're allowed out!
Woodchurch - just down the road from Chapel Down, a small vineyard but cracking wines, especially their Blanc de Blancs.
So just a selection above and all of these wineries are delivering direct at the moment and some have some good Lockdown offers on.
If you are looking for more general info on English Wines then check out the following websites:
Wine GB - all the info you need on all the wines of Great Britain.
Great British Wine - a great resource of reviews on a wide selection of English & Welsh wines established by John Mobbs.
So get drinking more English wines folks!
A few months ago I decided to upgrade my very old website and this shiny new one comes with a blog - so a chance to write about a fe w of the wines I've been drinking or am lucky enough to work with.
I must also say a big "Thank you" to Mike Turner of pleasebringmemywine.com fame for creating the new website. He's just launched a fabulous new online wine shop dedicated to bringing the best organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines to the UK market.
Check it out: www.feelgoodgrapes.com
So a bit about me...I've worked the wine trade in various guises for over 20 years and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. There's been iconic wines, delicious everyday drinking wines and wines I won't forget. The people are another positive aspect of the industry, from passionate winemakers and owners to the people bringing the wines to the masses and lots of fascinating people along the way.
To start the blog I thought I'd focus on some of the wines I've drunk last month so here goes...(I should point out I am not one for detailed tasting notes, I'll leave that to the professionals!).
1. Tio Pepe Fino En Rama - I buy this every year when released as it really is the best Fino out there. This was my last bottle sadly!
2. Jane Eyre Côte de Nuit Villages 2016 - I'm lucky to receive an invite every year to an En Primeur tasting hosted by the "3 Aussies in Burgundy" Mark Haisma, Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin and Jane Eyre. Fabulous and very well priced burgundies.
3. Blackbook Chardonnay 2018 from Clayhill Vineyard - this was the second bottle I've drunk from Blackbook an urban winery just up the road from me in Battersea. Very impressive and I must visit them when lockdown is over!
4. Recaredo Cava 2015 - I've tried their wines at tastings but never bought before and will definitely be buying again. Must drink more Cava.
5. Big Drop Uptown Craft Lager - ok so not wine but I do like beer (and Gin). This is a no alcohol lager - still plenty of lager taste and refreshing.
6. Meursault 2016 Jean Philippe Fichet - I hate this question when people ask it but if I did have to choose only one wine I could drink for the rest of my life it would be Meursault.
7. Gevrey Chambertin 2016 Jane Eyre - another of Jane's reds - very smart.
8. Santenay Premier Cru Les Gravieres 2016 Le Grappin - this is quite something and almost knocks Meursault off my top list! Very pleased I bought a case!
9. Alsace 2015 Marcel Deiss - I first tasted their wines at the Lea & Sandeman tasting a few years back and loved them. This is a blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Muscat and some other regional varietals - delicious.
Lockdown is a chance to open some of those "special" bottles so I will continue doing just that!