Great tasting of wines from Castilla y León

Earlier this week I tutored an exciting tasting of wines from Castilla y León.

Wine Regions of Castlla y León

Wine Regions of Castlla y León - click on the map for a closer look

It came about when I was asked back, for a second consecutive year, to The Association of Wine Cellarmen. Last year I presented a selection of Villa Maria wines from New Zealand. This time around, just as they invited me I was about to head off on a Circle of Wine Writers trip to Castilla y León, led by John Radford no less, so I thought it would be exciting to present some of the wines that I experienced along the way. The ever genial Nick Seymour, who runs the Association, luckily also thought this sounded like a great idea.

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Rueda: great Spanish white wines

I love white wines from Rueda in Spain and want you all to be more aware of them.

Rueda is a terrific wine region making exactly the sorts of wines that people would enjoy and yet almost all the students that arrive on my courses have never heard of it. Which is a great shame and I would urge you to get acquainted with some of these lovely, fresh, modern dry white wines as soon as you can.Iberia 2 web Continue reading

Exciting Chile

I attended a Wines of Chile tasting the other day and my impressions from the Concours Mondial wine Competition were confirmed – yet again. I really do believe that Chile is currently a shining star that delivers great quality and value for money wines.

There were many lovely wines at the tasting, some that were nice, simple everyday drinking, but some that were really terrific wines that offered depth, sophistication and elegance.

Here are three of the stand out wines from the tasting, all of which are also new and exciting wines to the UK: Continue reading

The S & M Café – a wicked place to eat!

IMG_0204I have long sought two types of casual dining in London, a proper American diner, if there are any please let me know, and a proper British caff serving proper British grub of good quality.

I love a greasy spoon café, but all the ones I know fulfill a very limited function and keep short hours too. Nourishment rather than pleasure and leisure is the order of the day. Well today I stumbled across somewhere that took the caff to a different level. In doing so it filled that gap between very basic food and better restaurants; a gap that does not appear to exist in other countries, for example see my articles – here and here. Continue reading

Enjoying Valencia

P4240001Valencia is a terrific city, with a lovely leisurely feel and things of beauty and interest almost everywhere you look. I highly recommend a visit there, in particular the old centre is a wonderful place to idle away a sunny afternoon when you have nothing better to do than to drift from square to square, sampling the bars and watching the world go by.

The oval shaped Plaza de la Reina is especially delightful with the impressive cathedral of Santa Maria at one end and the rather exotic church tower of Santa Catalina at the other. In between is a beautiful space with grass and trees and bars all around, a perfect place to  refresh oneself with a caña of beer. I felt very much at home here and enjoyed it immensely, but man cannot live on beer alone, come 2.30 lunch beckoned! Continue reading

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Wine Competition


Me hard at work in Valencia

In April of this year I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles as a judge. For the first few years this wine competition was held in Brussels, as its name implies. However, the event has grown and now tours Europe, having been in Maastricht in 2007, Bordeaux in 2008 and Valencia in 2009 and will be held in Palermo, Sicily in 2010. Continue reading

Great Food at Henley Food Festival

92Last weekend I was tutoring a whole stream of wine tastings, which was more tiring than you might imagine, so I felt in need of something nice for lunch. The events were part of the Henley Food Festival, so there was a restaurant arena, where Oxfordshire restaurants and gastropubs were showing their wares and offering taster portions of their food. 

It was not the warmest day, so when I noticed a particularly lovely looking pie on a bed of what appeared to be cassoulet, it appealed. I eventually discovered that it was available from The Half Moon at Cuxham, near Watlington in Oxfordshire. Continue reading

Spanish White Wines

230201491I have recently had 2 wine trips to Spain, more about those later, and I was astonished. We all tend to think of Spain as a red wine producing country, especially Castilla-y-León, where I was in March, and of course it does historically and culturally concentrate on red wine production. I also think it true to say that most Spaniards I know regard white wine as bit odd, I even know more than one restaurant in Spain that has NO white wines on its wine list at all. Continue reading

Fun dining in Madrid

museojamonThe other week I was in Madrid and wanted somewhere classically Spanish, good quality and inexpensive to eat.
Well, my prayers were answered in the shape of the Museo del Jamon. There are some 5 branches of this strange hybrid of an establishment dotted around the centre of Madrid, I went to the original, in the Calle Mayor, just off Puerto del Sol.
It appears at first glance to be an overgrown deli, ham and cheese shop, but a closer look will show you that half the ground floor is also a rather excellent tapas bar, of the stand up variety. Just above this on a sort of mezzanine is a snack bar, while a staircase takes you to the “comedor”, the dining room. Continue reading