Affordable Claret: Chateau du Gazin

I really am in a claret phase and it is very interesting tasting some affordable wines from Bordeaux. I have always liked the idea of claret, but have become concerned that most consumers would never get a chance to taste the sort of wine that comes into my mind when I think claret.

This is my third claret in this series and I think the consumer is pretty well served by them so far, but of course they are far more expensive than the average spend – even these relatively moderate prices make them more likely to be wines enjoyed at a special occasion than every day.

So far I have stuck to the left-bank Médoc wines, so I felt that a change was in order and I turned my attentions to the Libournais area. This of course includes the famous St Emilion, and its satellite villages, as well as Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol and the rather more spread out Côtes de Castillon, Côtes des Francs as well as Bourg and Blaye. Today my eye fell on a wine from Canon-Fronsac. Continue reading

Affordable Claret: Château Moulin à Vent

I tried another Claret yesterday and it was an interesting contrast to the Château Tour St Bonnet 2006.

It was a bottle of the 1999 Château Moulin à Vent, which is a Cru Bourgeois from Moulis-en-Médoc, which together with neighbouring Listrac is one of the two inland commune appellation contrôlée of the Médoc – map here. Château Moulin a Vent is right on the border between the two communes, at the south western end, just a kilometre or so from the town of Listrac and only two kilometres west of Château Clarke. Continue reading

Affordable Claret: Château Tour St Bonnet 2006

Every now and then I get a craving for Claret. Sometimes I can stave it off with a good bottle of something similar, but different – a good Cabernet, Rioja or Chianti, or something slightly odd perhaps. That can only work for so long though, then I have to drink a bottle of claret. The trouble is, nowadays that means money.

So, I was thinking what sort of wine do consumers actually get for the moderately priced Clarets that adorn the supermarket shelves? It is a long time since I tried any, so I decided to set that right.

In a branch of Morrisons I came across a real blast from my past: Château Tour St Bonnet. I used to sell this wine over 20 years ago and it had always proved popular, indeed had been a bit of a star, but that was the 1985 vintage.

In those days it always represented stunning value for money and gave a real bottle of Château bottled Claret for not much more than a basic branded Bordeaux – that is still true. Continue reading

A Great Champagne Domaine

I sometimes think that it is a good job that I don’t have any money, because if I did I would spend rather a lot of it on Champagne. I love Champagne and cannot think of any occasion that wouldn’t be improved by a glass or two of the stuff.

Recently I was able to taste a couple of Champagnes made by a single domaine, or grower – it is always such a pleasure to speak to growers who make their own wines. To see the passion and belief behind their eyes is so refreshing and exciting. Continue reading

Bottled Sunshine – the fun side of Vinho Verde

I don’t know whether I had my mind closed to it for the last 26 years, but suddenly I cannot get enough Vinho Verde, or wines from the Minho region of Portugal anyway.

The area has long been famous for producing light-bodied and light-hearted wines that are refreshing and lively. This traditional style can be very enjoyable even at the commercial end of the market, but in recent years I have tried some really serious wines from the Minho as well – rich, concentrated and complex, like the wonderful Quinta de Covela or the great Quinta do Feital.

Well, recently I tasted something completely new to me – a rosé Vinho Verde. Which sounds an odd concept until you realise that the verde or green in the name does not refer to the colour, but rather the youthful character of the wine. Continue reading

Quinta do Feital – A Minho Marvel

The beautiful Quinta do Feital

I attended the annual Portuguese tasting in London the other day where I was fully expecting to find some lovely wines. Portugal makes terrific wine and I find it inexplicable that there is so little demand for it in the UK.

However, I was not expecting to be so totally bowled over by a brace of white wines – and by the guy who makes them as well. Continue reading

A Fine Cava

There is a great deal of cheap Cava available. So much of it is so cheap and always on some sort of implausibly low price deal that you could sometimes be forgiven for thinking that Cava was the Spanish word for cheap sparkling wine.

Strangely it means the exact opposite. Cava actually means cellar and was introduced as the Spanish legal term for a quality Sparkling wine made by the Traditional Method – the same process used in Champagne. Continue reading