The Loire River Of Wine

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There is a grand view from the mezzanine level of the London Edition Hotel. From the tempting bar area on one side, over the plush seating and hotel reception and on to an impossibly grand door through which lies the Berners Tavern restaurant itself a fabulously decorated space. While the well heeled ebbed and flowed below I ate one too many canapés and concluded that the sparkling wine in my hand was actually jolly good. So I slide back to the tasting table and poured myself another glass. This peaceful moment of contemplation was a precursor to a rather splendid dinner in the hotels private dining room. A series of wines accompanying some splendid food all encased in a River of Wine event. In this case the river was the Loire.

And the sparkling wine that I enjoyed so ...

Touraine Mousseux Monmousseau Cuvee J.M.
Chateau d'Epire Savennieres
Chateau Moncontour Vouvray Brut sparkling

Anna de Cororniu Cava Blanc de Blancs

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From early spring through to these damp days of July several sparkling wines have enlivened a rather jaded palate. Some were perfectly pleasant, but didn’t really exicit. Others were rather disappointing. But some… well they did excit. Anna de Cororniu Cava Blanc de Blancs being one. Socail events, drinking in the real world, away from the artificial setting of trade tastings, seem to play a huge amount in enjoying wine. At least for me. This strikingly packaged bottle of cava was opened on a wobbly launch zig-zagging its way up the Thames from Benson to Abingdon and back; served alongside bacon butties for a 10am brunch it certainly set the day off well.

Anna de Cororniu Blanc de Blancs is one of a range this large producer is experimenting with. At the moment the only place you ...

Anna de Cororniu Cava

Anna de Cororniu Cava Blanc de Blancs

The post Anna de Cororniu Cava Blanc de Blancs appeared first on Spittoon
From early spring through to these damp days of July several sparkling wines have enlivened a rather jaded palate. Some were perfectly pleasant, but didn’t really exicit. Others were rather disappointing. But some… well they did excit. Anna de Cororniu Cava Blanc de Blancs being one. Socail events, drinking in the real world, away from the artificial setting of trade tastings, seem to play a huge amount in enjoying wine. At least for me. This strikingly packaged bottle of cava was opened on a wobbly launch zig-zagging its way up the Thames from Benson to Abingdon and back; served alongside bacon butties for a 10am brunch it certainly set the day off well.

Anna de Cororniu Blanc de Blancs is one of a range this large producer is experimenting with. At the moment the only place you ...

Anna de Cororniu Cava

Eight Great Discoveries from the Imbibe Show

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Eight Great Discoveries from the Imbibe Show – a few hours spent wandering the Imbibe show at Olympia; before the crowds got too much! I concentrated on gin but managed to find a super new range of tonics, a Punjabi Rum and got to try the Asterley Bros. Amaro and Vermouth at last too.

Eight Great Discoveries from the Imbibe Show


Pothecary Gin
Pothecary Gin – rather nice I thought, interesting that the botanicals are distilled individually and then blended together.
Herno Juniper Cask Strength Gin
One of a striking range from Herno a Swedish distiller. This is the first producer in the world to be mature a gin in juniper wood casks. A revelation when served with Merchant’s Heart Ginger Ale. They recommend their Old Tom Gin be served with Merchant’s Heart Hibiscus Tonic.

Five Rivers Rum
First time I’ve encountered Five Rivers Rum – the ...

Tinker Gin
Bitter Union Bitters
Three Rivers Manchester Gin
Asterley Bros Artemis British Vermouth
Asterley Bros Dispense Amaro

Graphic Ice from Nicolas Feuillatte

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Two new releases from Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne – Graphic Ice and Graphic Ice Rosé. Perfect for the summer they are designed to be served over ice. I know what I’ll be taking on my next River Thames cruise.
“Pale gold coloured Graphic Ice – Fresh and floral fragrances, pronounced red and stewed fruits with a touch of walnuts and notes of honey.
Why not try the Graphic Ice with lime and Victoria pineapple? Coral pink coloured Graphic Ice Rosé has pronounced fruity flavours – Morello cherry, raspberry and blueberry aromas.
The Graphic Ice Rosé offers a particularly wonderful tasting experience when enhanced with orange and Asian mango.”

Graphic Ice from Nicolas Feuillatte

Graphic Ice from Nicolas Feuillatte Graphic Ice Rose from Nicolas Feuillatte

Both these demi-sec champagnes are Limited Editions. Graphic Ice is available to purchase for £30 and Graphic Ice Rosé for £32 respectively at John Lewis. I’m ...

Alhambra Reserva Roja

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Coming soon to the UK the Alhambra Reserva Roja is a lager with extra intensity and strength. “with the first sip comes the first surprise: a flavour that is much smoother and silkier than expected, full of delicate notes”. Not so much a Sunday Wine Shot but a Sunday Beer Shot….

Alhambra Reserva Roja

Alhambra Reserva Roja
“A reinterpretation of Central European tradition based on the unique Spanish character, with perfect balance between intensity of roasted barely malt and the subtlety of oats. Just like the Alhambra, you need time and peace to really discover the beer Reserva Roja… because this reddish liquid has unexpected features and traits. Its intensity conceals extraordinary subtlety and delicacy”

Alhambra Reserva Roja Written by wine scribbler at Spittoon - Wine, Cocktails, Food and Travel

Take Your Time with Alhambra Beer

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Cervrzas Alhambra is running a Take Your Time promotion which gives beer lovers the chance to collect pin codes with each Alhambra beer purchase. The prize? A ‘gastronomic experiences’ at Coya restaurant in London! On each bottle of Alhambra Especial Pint and Alhambra Reserva 1925 bottle are pin codes. Each code is worth 10 minutes. Collect 160 minutes and you receive dinner for 2 at the famed Coya restaurant in London while 10 minutes gets you a branded glass. There isn’t much time left – the promotion runs until 17th June.

“Alhambra is a beer made without hurrying. We think that you too should get ride of them. When you enjoy one of our beers, we will give you back that time you invested in them, so that you can enjoy magnificent experiences thanks to Alhambra.”

Alhambra ...

Alhambra Reserva 1925 & Alhambra Reserva Roja
Alhambra Reserva 1925

With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby

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Greenall’s is a gin brand I haven’t given much attention to; although the ready mixed cans act often as the all important ‘train gin’ on long journeys. But Greenall’s has been around since 1761 and they are proud of being “England’s oldest gin distiller”. Its a pretty ubiquitous brand; priced very keenly amongst all those £30 plus artisanal gins. A quick check at Ocado shows its usual price as £14.50 a bottle. While a recent range expansion, the Wild Berry, is at Tesco for just £12. It is one of those gins that isn’t overly complex; you are not going to worry about throwing it into a cocktail or hiding any complexity by the liberal use of a mixer either.

“Hand crafted by BRITAIN’S OLDEST DISTILLERS Greenall’s gin recipe, created by Thomas Dakin in 1761, remains ...

Greenall's The Original and Greenall's Wild Berry Gin
Greenall's Extra Reserve Gin
View from the Greenall's Private Box, Epsom Derby
With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby
With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby
Pouring the Basil Smash With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby
Greenall's Gin and Tonic (Basil Smash in the background)
The Epsom Derby
Roses and Limes in the Greenall's Private Box
With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby
With Greenalls Gin at the Epsom Derby
Greenall's Wild Berry & Tonic Cocktail

Dining in Languedoc Wineries Gayda and Cote Mas

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All wine tastes 200% better when drunk while viewing the vines from where it came. Proven scientific fact! It just doesn’t get any better watching the sunset over the vines with a glass of something decent in one hand and a forkful of deliciousness in the other. You could go the picnic route – and there are plenty of opportunities to do so – or you could make use of a wineries purpose built restaurant. Interestingly there are not a huge number of wineries, at least in Europe, that offer dining facilities. I do know of two in the Languedoc that every wine-loving dude should make a detour for – the restaurants at Gayda and at Cote Mas. Both these producers have wines featured in the Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016.

Dining in Languedoc Wineries ...

Cote Mas Rouge
The Paul Mas Arrogant Frog Himself
Pop-Art Côté Mas Restaurant
Light Fitting Paul Mas Restaurant
Côté Mas Winery and Restaurant
Côté Mas Restaurant
Chocolate Dessert at Paul Mas Restaurant
'Every lunch starts with bubbles at Côté Mas'
Spirit Catcher Côté Mas Restaurant
Sweet Wine - Domaine Gayda Selection Chenin Blanc
Barrels at Domaine Gayda
Domaine Gayda Selection Grenache Gris

Isle of Harris Gin

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Bit ashamed to admit that my knowledge of Scottish Islands is a tad vague. I’ve dug peat in a snowstorm on Isla and found some success at clay pigeon shooting on Jura. So I had to look up exactly which island was Harris (Harris is the southern part of the Scottish Hebridean island of Lewis and Harris, the large island with Stornaway as its capital). The Isle of Harris Distillery is one of the UK’s most remote. The first, legal, distillery in Harris , which opened in October 2013. While their first whisky is prepared for release there is a Isle of Harris Gin to sample.

“The distillers set out to capture the elemental and maritime nature of the Isle of Harris and this gin, from bottle to the glass, does just that. A genuine sweet-savoury gin, which is quite ...

Isle of Harris Gin
Isle of Harris Gin
Isle of Harris Gin

Premier Estates Cava

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I was going to title this photo as “One bottle is never enough”; but thought as it usually applies to every bottle of wine I like, changed my mind. Its an exclusive for Premier Estates, just as the Premier Estates Prosecco duo I reviewed a few weeks back are.
“There’s nothing brutish about our triple award-winning Cava Brut! Elegant citrus and apple flavours dance around lively fine bubbles to create a titillating finish, making it the perfect fizz for parties. The versatility of Cava makes it the ideal complement to enhance a large variety of flavours. Pair it with all fish dishes, pasta, risottos and white meats. Don’t forget that Cava comes into its own when the dessert trolley comes out.”

This cava worked rather well in a Leo’s Special Cocktail, when combined with vermouth and apricot brandy.

Premier ...

Premier Estates Cava

Calmel and Joseph Négociations de Vin

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I adore the wines of Calmel and Joseph; not only because the lip-staining Marselan is one of the Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016. Two friends founded Calmel and Joseph in 1995. As a maison de négoce they specialise in sourcing wines from private wineries across the Languedoc-Roussillon region. A majority of their wines are sourced this way although right outside the former farmstead is a substantial tract of vines that they now own.

“Over the years, we have built close personal relationships with a large number of growers from all appellations. Convinced of the extraordinary potential of this region, oenologist, Laurent Calmel, and Jerome Joseph work together on the vinification, blending and ageing of wines with the common purpose of demonstrating the little known yet unique quality of these Mediterranean terroirs. As well as our desire to ...

Jérôme Joseph
Calmel and Joseph Marselan
Calmel and Joseph Sauvignon Blanc
Calmel and Joseph Grenache Rosé
Calmel and Joseph Pinot Noir
Calmel and Joseph Syrah
Cellar Shop at Calmel and Joseph
Cellar Shop at Calmel and Joseph
Vineyards outside Calmel and Joseph

Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day

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Asparagus! What is it good for? Serving with Sauvignon Blanc for a start. Which is handy seeing as today is International Sauvignon Blanc Day (May 5th 2017) and I’ve an array of wines from Marlborough-based Yealands on the table and an Asparagus Pea Shoot and Butter Bean Tart in the oven.
Peter Yealands Family Wines

Peter Yealands Family Wines

“Thinking differently is what we do at Yealands. Crafting award-winning wines in harmony with nature has seen us lead the world in sustainable winegrowing. But most importantly it means great tasting wines which don’t cost the earth”

I’ve just been exploring the Yealands Website. They have a great big link that says “Come Visit“. By heck laddie I would love to! The opening photo of the vines flowing down to the sea (the Cook Strait) was enough in itself ...

Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc - Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day
Peter Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc - Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day
Yealands Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc - Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day
Yealands L5 Single Block Sauvignon Blanc - Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day
Yealands Winemaker's Reserve Sauvignon Blanc - Yealands Family Wines for International Sauvignon Blanc Day
asparagus pea shoot butter bean

Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne

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In the never ending quest to find the best artisanal winery, the obscure grape or the finest vintages huge quantities of cash can just about buy, it is easy to forget that vast quantities of wine is made each year. Wine that is drunk, quite happily, by thousands. Made by huge organisations or large cooperatives. The very other end of the wine spectrum. It is easy to ignore or deride these companies wines. Mass production and brands simply do not fit in with the romanticism and allure of the lone striving wine maker with his little plot of vines in off the radar hyper-picturesque locations.

A visit to a large cooperative such as Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne can hardly be described as picturesque. Its vast, huge expanse of stainless steel felt more akin to a refinery than a ...

Entrance Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Outside and up high at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
A busy wine tank hall Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Concrete tanks at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Concrete tanks at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Dumanet Viognier at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Three reds at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne
Les Estines Chardonnay-Viognier at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne

Stainless Steel at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne

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I posted a cropped version of these stainless steel tanks on Instagram a week or so back. The intention was to add the full sized photo here as a Sunday Wine Shot, and finally I’ve got around to doing just that.

Its a prelude for a full post on the Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne, a large cooperative, just to the north of Narbonne in the town of Ouvelillan in the Languedoc region of France. Taken during a long weekend exploring the Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016. This photo was snapped while climbing around, through and up-an-over the extensive stainless steel tanks of the cooperative in chilly, rainy conditions. I have to tell you luging a tripod (Roger, the three-legged thing)plus full camera with weighty lens attached plus sporting a hefty backpack up and ...

Stainless Steel at Neotera Cave du Grand Narbonne

Two Wines For Earth Day 2017

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Two Wines For Earth Day 2017, April 22nd is Earth Day – an annual, world wide, event to show support for environmental protection. Thought I would hunt down a couple of bottles to crack open in celebration.

The aim is to encourage people to do things that will benefit the Earth, such as recycling more, using solar power or plant trees. The event takes place around the world and it is described as the biggest secular holiday on the planet. More than a billion people are expected to celebrate the day including environmental campaigners Leonardo di Caprio and Emma Watson. The Sun

With such a special relationship to the earth you would expect many wine producers take extra responsibility. Many do. Some don’t. We would all like our wines to be produced without the use of pesticides, fertilisers, ...

Two Wines For Earth Day 2017 1 - Jean-Luc Colombo Cotes du Rhone Les Abeilles Rouge 2014
Two Wines For Earth Day 2017 2 - Cune Crianza 2014

Two Wines to Try to Celebrate Malbec World Day

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April 17th and the grand marketing exercise that is Malbec World Day trundles into play for the seventh year running. Even if you are not joining in the many events, tastings and Argentinean-focused activities Malbec World Day is a mighty fine excuse to crack open a bottle of red on a Monday. Here are Two Wines to Try to Celebrate Malbec World Day 2017. Argentina now sits as the fifth largest producer of wine in the world; its growth over the years is fundimentally linked to the popularity of Malbec. Even non-wine aficinadoes know Malbec (not the French originals, but Argentinean). A non-wine friend of mine rather astounded me by asking for a Malbec at a local restaurant last week and last month while enjoying a Sunday pub roast overhead a neighbouring table order Malbec ...
Two Wines to Try to Celebrate Malbec World Day - Dona Paula Estate Malbec 2015
Two Wines to Try to Celebrate Malbec World Day - Vinalba Malbec 2014

Limited Edition Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne

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How Spring-like is this Limited Edition Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne bottle? Very feminine, granted, but the pastel blues and greens and the deeper purple hues, to me, give a very seasonal feel. Having just looked up the listing at John Lewis it is indeed described as a ‘Spring Floral’ design. Today being Easter Sunday, this is going to be the families pre-roast aperitif, but really I can see it being called upon throughout the summer.

“The Brut Reserve with limited edition floral design sleeve will be available until stocks last throughout Spring and Summer 2017. The Brut Reserve is a delicate, structured Champagne, offering boundless elegance and finesse. On the nose, the Champagne is restrained initially with fresh white fruit aromas of apple, pear and peach with spicy notes. As the bouquet becomes more expressive, ripe fruit notes become apparent. ...

Limited Edition Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne

Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016

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This is a list of the Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016. These wines are the ‘gems’ of the Languedoc, a yearly changing list that highlights the quality and diversity of this vast region. While there is plenty of marketing material available form the organisers, the Interprofession des Vins Pays d’Oc IGP, their website doesn’t have up-to-date information.
“Collection is the premium range of Pays d’Oc IGP wines. Each year an international judging panel selects ‘ambassador wines’ to represent this high end range. Collection wines defend the quality and heritage of Pays d’Oc through refined and sophisticated wines. They also show the label’s modernity and creativity and proudly proclaim their Pays d’Oc IGP Origin”

My pick of the range highlighted in bold.

Pays d’Oc IGP Gems Collection 2016 – the white wines

  • Collines du Bourdic Le Prestige, 2015 ...

Visiting Domaine la Provenquiere

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It wouldn’t surprise me if they have a resident vampire at Domaine la Provenquiere; the gothic pile with its faded grandeur, pinicled towers and spooky atmosphere simply MUST have a vampire. Or a ghost. I can see a ghost sitting on the gilded high-backed seat at the back of the dining table; lamenting, as ghosts do, of past vintages and untapped barrels. Vampires are more sexy though and more in keeping with the crumbly decadence of this Southern French estate. Not sure if, when Visiting Domaine la Provenquiere in the Languedoc, you get to see the rooms we did; but just have a gander at the photos I took. Vampire and ghost territory, right?

The chateau is a work in progress, the delightful terrace out the back has just been dug over for pluming or cabling or somesuch. These two ...