Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

June 18th, 2014

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc at Wine Palate UKMarlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most distinctive white wines you will try. Known for it’s powerful flavours and aromas, this wine has legions of fans the world over. We take a look at why the wine is so unique and a prestigious winery at Wine Palate offering top quality Marlborough wine.

Marlborough Wine

Although winemaking in the Marlborough region dates back to the 1800′s, it was only after the succesful planting of the Sauvignon Blanc variety in the late 1980′s that the region was famed for it’s white wine. Located in the northeast area of the South Island, today the region represents almost two-thirds of the wine growing area of New Zealand and is widely regarded as the new world home of Sauvignon Blanc.

One of the wonders of winemaking is the fact that the same grape can produce a very different style of wine depending on the region where it is grown.  Sauvignon Blanc is a widely planted varietal all over the world, however when grown in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the outcome is something quite special. The contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights allows the winemakers to extend their ripening season for the grapes. This is not possible in other parts of the world and it is this, along with very fertile ground and the unique landscape that forms a perfect place for the grapes to grow. The resulting wines are unique with wonderful full flavors and aromas.

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is known for it’s powerful, often aggressive flavours of green pepper and gooseberry. The best quality wines will however be more refined with well balanced flavours, none of which are overpowering.

 

Boutique Producers of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Wine Palate UK

Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc from Wine Palate UK

A Marlborough winery of note at Wine Palate is Greywacke, producers of top quality Marlborough wines. Led by the highly acclaimed winemaker Kevin Judd, who was chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay for 25 years, Greywacke has produced world class Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc since 2009. Greywacke Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is made in limited quantities from only the best quality fruit from low yielding vines. Using old winemaking techniques combined with modern techonology, Kevin’s focus is to produce fruit driven wines that are refined in style and very drinkable.

All Greywacke boutique wines including Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are available to buy online at Wine Palate.

One of the most exciting wines of the new world, quality Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is worth discovering. Pop a few bottles in your case with your next online wine order, you won’t be disappointed.

Buy guaranteed quality Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc online at Wine Palate UK.

South African Red Wine Offers

June 14th, 2014

South African red wine is really good value. There are currently some great quality wines coming from this part of the world, so we take a closer look at the best regions and our wineries offering great value for money. click here to read our recent article on identifying  Good Quality Wines

Already great value, there is a further 10% off these wines online at Wine Palate during our South African Red Wine promotion (offer valid until 30th June). Buy South African Red Wine Offers

South African Red Wine Styles

South African Red Wine at Wine Palate UKAlthough classed as New World, South African winemaking dates back to the 1650’s and the Dutch East India traders. The climate is Mediterranean with intense heat, and most of the winemaking takes place in coastal areas to benefit from cooling sea breezes. South African red wine encompasses a variety of styles including some of the popular European varietals Merlot, Syrah or Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc from some specialists.

South Africa’s signature wine is Pinotage - a grape that originated from Stellenbosch University in the 1920s when viticulturists crossed Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Typically, Pinotage can be a described as a rustic wine with cheaper examples being light bodied with some “interesting” aromas – paint and rubber being some. Better quality Pinotage is generally favoured for its’ elegant, full and fruity style. Some examples show earthy smokey and tobacco notes.

 

Best value wines from small production, family owned producers

One of our South African wineries of note at Wine Palate is Lomond Estate, from the new and up and coming Cape Agulhas region. Situated in the Gansbaai area, the southernmost tip of Africa, the unique Southernly position of their vineyards, and the cooling sea breezes of the coast provides the best environment for their boutique selection of grape varietals. Lomond Estate winery focuses on sustainability, preservation and, where possible, organic and natural farming methods, resulting in a collection of unique wines that punch well above their weight at their price point.

 

Coming in under under £10 is their Estate range. The number of awards these wines have racked up is quite something. The labels are simple, no trumpets and fanfares here, the wines talk for themselves .

Lomond Estate Merlot £9.25 offer price £8.33

Lomond Estate Syrah £9.95 offer price £8.96

 

Decanter bronze medalBronze Sommelier Wine Award

 

From the Stellenbosch region, the stunning Mooiplaas Estate (meaning beautiful farm) and private nature reserve produces environmentally friendly, artisan SA wines.  Owned and managed by the Roos family for over 50 years, their much acclaimed wines are winning awards the world over.  Amazingly, you can buy their wines from under £10. Take a look at The Coco Chocolate Merlot and The Bean Pinotage  impressive wines for their price point.

(They also offer a stunning limited production sparkling wine Mooiplaas Duel Brut made using the champagne method, at a price tag of £16.96, well under what you would expect to pay for a decent Champagne).

 

Worldclass South African Red Wine

The Stellenbosch region is also home to a winemaker who has a worldwide reputation, and something of a cult following. Bruwer Raats of Raats Wines has been quoted as “one of the greatest winemakers of the Southern hemisphere” and his South African red wine is in a league its’ own.

His MR de Compostella red wine (meaning “Combination of Stars”, named after the five “star” Bordeaux varietals in the wine) was served at Raats Compostella Raats Compostellathe captains dinner at the FIFA world cup in 2010, and named “The Most Memorable Wine In The World” by The Wine Advocate. Press recognition and wine industry awards for this wine have been phenomenal, and rightly so – this is a wine of outstanding quality.

Listen to Bruwer discussing his Compostella in this short video clip when the wine was listed in the Top 100 Wines of South Africa

At RRP of £49.95, Raats Compostella would easily match some of the best Bordeaux retailing for twice this price.  This limited production, exclusive wine has sold out worldwide, thankfully at Wine Palate we reserved a few bottles for release now! As part of our South African red wine promotion there is a further 10% off our normal selling price of £37.96, a saving of £15.77 a bottle. Raats Compostella can be matured over 10 years (2021) if stored correctly.

 

Some of the best value wine around, South African red wine is well worth considering for your next wine purchase, with a further 10% off at Wine Palate online, buy some outstanding quality wine today.

 

Wine Gift Ideas For Fathers Day

May 31st, 2014

A Father’s Day gift with a difference – music to your ears!

Order by midday June 10th for guaranteed delivery before June 14th

Wines that rock

Wines That Rock

This Father’s Day, we have wine gift ideas that are both unique and great quality – musically inspired wine and a free wine gift box with your order.

Dad’s face will light up when he uncorks one of the Wines that Rock series. From top Californian producers Parducci, Wines that Rock are award winning wines with quirky label artwork reproduced from iconic album covers by the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Police and Grateful Dead.

Wines That Rock Pink Floyd Cabernet Sauvignon

Wines That Rock Pink Floyd Cabernet Sauvignon £14.95

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wines That Rock Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot £14.95

Wines That Rock Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot £14.95

 

Wine Gift Ideas Claymore Wines from £12.46

Wine Gift Idea Claymore Wines from £12.46

Claymore You'll Never Walk Alone GSM

Claymore You’ll Never Walk Alone GSM

 

Or,  if you are looking for a different genre try the fabulous music themed range from Australian boutique winery Claymore. Their Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc, or the Lou Reed inspired Walk on the Wild Side Shiraz are top quality wines from some of the best wine making regions of Australia.
There’s also Gerry and the Pacemakers 60′s anthem You’ll never walk alone GSM in the range, a Liverpool FC themed label with the legendary Bill Shankly.

 

Centre Stage on Father’s Day

 

Vinaceous Wines at Wine Palate

Vinaceous Wines from £13.64

If names like Raconteur, Snake Charmer and Shakre don’t grab your attention, then the 30’s and 40’s theatre and circus style labels on the exciting Vinaceous wines range most certainly will. The labels represent different mythical personalities such as angels, mermaids, snake charmers and fire eaters – and are sure to be a talking point.

But it’s not just the labels, the wines themselves are something special. Distinctive and expressive, they come from Margaret River in Australia – somewhat of a benchmark for top quality boutique wine. They make a gift with a unique personality.

A Silky Smooth Chocolate Treat For Fathers Day

Or how about a silky smooth Chocolate Box with a difference?

Chocolate Box Wine Gift Ideas
Fit to grace the most discerning of wine glasses, and with very distinctive 50′s style labels, they are ideal wine gift ideas.
There are three to choose from (or you can have a mixed case of 6 or 12) – Cabernet Sauvignon, GSM or Shiraz. All gorgeous wines, which is why they have established a cult status, and are some of the most popular wines among our customers.

They have won lots of awards too – so it’s a gift that’s sure to impress. A sumptuous treat, and well worth the £13.25 price point.

 

Check out our full range of Wine Gift Ideas online  to create your own custom order, then look forward to giving a gift with a difference on Fathers Day.

Remember to order by Tuesday midday June 10th for guaranteed delivery before June 14th!

 

Wine Gift Box – Free offer

Wine Offers Free Wine Gift Box at Wine Palate UK

Mix your own case of six wines (with a couple of bottles earmarked for Dad) – and we will throw in a free double bottle gift box worth £3.95, but hurry – it’s a limited offer.

Whether Dad likes to put his feet up with a glass of Merlot, Shiraz or Sauvignon Blanc, the wine is guaranteed to impress, and the gift box will complete your gift with style.

Rose Wine Offers: Stock Up On Amazing Quality Rose Wine

May 28th, 2014

Wine Palate rose' wines

We have added some stunning new Rose wines to our online shop. All the wine is priced well below RRP – and for this week only in our Rose Wine Offers there is a further 10% off – saving you up to 25%!

Summer is just around the corner, so there has never been a better time to browse and and buy – all you have to do is add Promotional Code MAYOF10 at checkout. (voucher valid until 1st June 2014).Check out the full range online to create your own custom case, or Mas La Chevaliere Rose-thbrowse our favourites in the selection below:

 

From Languedoc in France (and the French do make some gorgeous Roses’) Mas la Chevaliere - a zesty blend of Syrah and Grenache grown in an organic vineyard. Bursting with notes of wild strawberry and fresh tropical fruit.

RRP £11.95, we list at £9.96 – and with our 10% offer you can uncork for just £8.96 – a saving of £2.99 per bottle.
Ca dei Frati Rosa dei Frati-th

 

A favourite from our wine tasting event at Jamie’s Italian, Ca dei Frati is from one of Italy’s best producers – this Rose wine is a beautiful onion skin colour, in a stunning bottle. Refreshing and vibrant, it hails from Lugana in Northern Italy.

RRP £16.95, we list at £13.95 – You pay just £12.55, saving you £4.40 per bottle.

 

Poggiontondo Rosato-th

 

From the beautiful hills of Tuscany comes Poggiotondo Rosato - a delightful dry Rose’ wine with elegant notes of cherry and red fruit – made from handpicked Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah grapes, a perfectly balanced wine.

RRP £12.25, we list at £10.26, and with your promotion code savings you pay just £9.24 – a saving over £3 per bottle.

 

 

 

Our Rose wine offers voucher is valid until 1st June 2014, voucher cannot be used with other promotions.
All wines from Wine Palate are backed by a cast iron money back quality guarantee. There is no minimum order when buying wine from our online store, and you collect loyalty points with every purchase!

Good Quality Wines – And How To Find Them

May 8th, 2014

Good quality wines are not necessarily the most expensive

Discovering genuine good quality wines doesn’t need to be a science or a case of pot luck! Here we help you navigate around all the hype to ensure you get quality when buying wine under £20. (If you are spending above this price and buying from a reputable wine merchant, you are most likely guaranteed to be buying quality)

A good starting point is to look at wines within various price bands, and what you should look for in each category.

 

Wine under £6

Finding good quality wines under the £6 mark is highly unlikely. Duty, VAT, bottling, packaging and shipping comes to around £4. When you add the profit for the retailer it doesn’t leave the winemaker much to grow the grapes and make the wine for a profit.

Grapes will be machine harvested, so poor quality grapes that are either not ripe or diseased get into the process. Machine harvesting also means bits of wire, stems, and all sorts of things (alive and otherwise!) get into and taint the process. These are mostly removed – but why put them in the process in the first place?

The wine will more than likely to be mass produced, therefore far more susceptible to synthetic sulphites and artificial additives.

Our advice; if it’s under £6, don’t go there expecting quality. At Wine Palate we stock one or two very carefully selected wines around the £6 -£7 mark but decent quality is hard to come by.

Wine priced £7 – £12

You can find some really good wine in this price bracket, made the way wine should be made with that little bit extra TLC. Look for those evidence points of quality – hand harvested grapes, organic, family owned winery, award winning – these are good indicators of good quality wines.

Buying wine for £12 – £20

Some of the best wines for value and quality will be in this price bracket, you are buying wine with a reputation. Again, look for evidence of quality (as above). Some examples of great wines from very highly respected regions at this price point:

You are less likely to find a sub standard wine at this price point.

Wine priced over £20

In this category, expect wine produced from the best growths of highly respected vineyards in the best regions. When buying from a reputable wine merchant, you should be able to find out plenty of information on the wine such as:

  • can the wine be cellared and for how long
  • industry and press recognition
  • lots of information on the winery and winemaker

 

Beware the discount trap

Many retailers lure consumers into thinking they are getting bargains – half price and multibuy discounts (multibuy is no longer allowed in Scotland).

Here’s how – the list price is inflated to begin with, the wine is put on display at full price (for the minimum time to meet retail discount rules) before being paraded as an amazing deal (while stocks last). These wines “on offer” are simply part of a selection that are regularly rotated, and are only ever worth the discounted price.

Labels and description

The initials

  • AOC (France)
  • DOC (Italy and Portugal)
  • DO (Spain)
  • IGT (Italy)

are a guide to quality. These are official control stamps which say the wine comes from a specified geographic boundary, and that the grapes used along with ageing of the wine adhere to strict rules. So whether it’s from Montepulciano, Bordeaux, Cotes du Rhone or Pouilly Fume – you know you are getting the genuine article.

The label on the back of the bottle should give you some information on the wine maker, and how the wine has been made. If there isn’t much there, be suspicious. A big advantage of buying wine online is that there is normally much more information available.

Look for awards

decanter gold awardProper awards that is! Unfortunately, marketing teams often make labels look good by adding gold rosettes and official looking stamps, or wording that has no status – like “hand crafted”. Marketing fluff should immediately scream poor quality.
On the other hand, proper awards are strong clues to good quality wines. Look for Decanter, IWC or IWSC, or a “commended” from a recognised magazine (Wine Spectator for example).

 

Getting help

In a supermarket it’s unlikely that you will get any qualified advice. Wine shops are better, but can still be hit and miss. Good online merchants should have a contact number and be available to talk you through choices and alternatives.

In a nutshell

If you want good quality wines, look above £7 per bottle, avoid the retail pitfalls, and look for the signs of quality. You’ll find delightful wine to enjoy and share – happy hunting!

At Wine Palate, we personally taste and approve every wine that we offer – and all our wines come with a cast iron quality guarantee.

Chocolate Box Wine: an Exclusive Review by Wine Palate

March 16th, 2014

Chocolate Box Wine review at Wine Palate UK

Mixed Case of Chocolate Box Wine £79.50 at Wine Palate UK

If you have yet to come across the Chocolate Box Wine range, then you are missing out on a premium quality treat. Named Chocolate Box for their distinctive chocolatey notes, this knockout trio of red wines has been growing rapidly in popularity in the UK, and after trying them, you will understand why.

The Shiraz, GSM and Cabernet Sauvignon are produced at Franc Rocca’s family owned winery -  Rocland Estate – in Southern Australia’s red wine hotbed, Barossa Valley. Barossa Valley red wines often display rich chocolately notes, and although the Chocolate Box range of wines are typical of the region, there is something quite special about them.

A Testament of Quality 

When you see the labels with their distinctive 1950’s style artwork you will probably think they will make a great wine gift. We would definately agree, not only are the bottles eyecatching, they are among the best wines in terms of quality that we have come across in this price bracket. The number of Decanter awards racked up by these wines gives an indication of the level of quality we are talking about here. In addition, the winery was also awarded a top ten place in the 2012 James Halliday Wine Companion – quite an achievement.

Despite being high in ABV (between 14.5% & 15.5%) the wines are surprisingly easy to drink, some might say too easy to drink! With their amazing full flavours and smooth textures, these powerful wines should be on the “must try” list of every red wine lover.

What our customers say about Chocolate Box:

Chocolate Box GSM Cherry Chocolate

Chocolate Box GSM Cherry Chocolate £13.25 at Wine Palate UK

Chocolate Box GSM Cherry Chocolate

“The wine is silky smooth and tastes like its name. At 15.5% it is heavy and rich not to be enjoyed on its own, much better accompanied with a great steak”

“A delicious red which has instantly become our favourite”

“The best wine by far ! Absolutely Awesome !!!”


Chocolate Box Cabernet Sauvignon

Chocolate Box Cabernet Sauvignon £13.25 At Wine Palate UK

Chocolate Box Cabernet Sauvignon £13.25 at Wine Palate UK

“This is a fantastic wine, highly recommend if you like reds. In fact the whole chocolate box range is amazing”

“A lovely wine, we have bought this several times now and keep coming back for more! In fact all the Chocolate Box wines never disappoint”

Chocolate Box Shiraz £13.25 at Wine Palate UK

Chocolate Box Shiraz £13.25 at Wine Palate UK

Chocolate Box Shiraz

highly recommended”

How The Wines Are Tasting And Food They Pair Well With

The Shiraz Dark Chocolate

The Shiraz has dark chocolate, coffee, apricot and liquorice notes. Smooth, rich and powerful. Great with roast beef!

Cabernet Sauvignon Truffle Chocolate

The “Truffle Chocolate”, has blackcurrant and subtle vanilla flavours lifted by a hint of minty chocolate and a wonderful silky oak finish. We would recommend this wine for pairing with steaks lamb and barbecued meats.

GSM Cherry Chocolate

A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mataro known as GSM, the Cherry Chocolate of the range has aromas of savoury oak, dark cherry and stewed rhubarb, and a palate that reveals a hint of spice and cinnamon. Silky smooth and wonderful with game, lamb and spiced pasta dishes.

The full range of Chocolate Box Wine is available to buy at winepalate.co.uk, (next next day delivery Monday to Friday for orders placed before 12.30pm).

Sulphites In Wine: Do They Cause Hangovers?

March 3rd, 2014

Please Share With Your Friends On Facebook, Twitter and Google+

Sulphites in wine are often assumed to be the cause of hangovers, but is there a way to eliminate the risk of feeling below par the morning after? In this article we look at sulphites, why they are in your wine and how your choice of wine can affect your health.

 Sulphur compounds are naturally occurring substances in all natural wine. And while some forms of organic wine claim to be completely free from these ‘sulphites’, it is practically impossible to remove all traces. Even in wines where no sulphites have been added, it is present in concentrations of up to 10mg per litre.

So why are they in my wine?

The subjects of wine and health have been discussed together for decades. However most producers actually add sulphites to wine, to preserve the characterists of wine for a longer shelf life. This can have a range of consequences; from a mild “hangover” feeling to those who suffer allergic reactions. Sulphites however are also known antioxidants, which deliver several health benefits.

Taste

The smell and taste of sulphur is unpleasant – much like the smell of a burnt match. And while it can’t be picked up in a good quality wine, it can overpower the senses in cheaper wines where it is present in large quantities.

Wine and Health

The body attacks excessive amounts of sulphur by producing histamines. It is those naturally occurring chemicals that cause allergic reactions in a minority of people. The problems range from a particularly severe hangover to anaphylactic shock. The subject of wine and health is complex, so consultation with a doctor is advised when health problems occur.

The Quantity of Sulphites in Wine Can Differ

Depending on the skill of the winemaker and the quality of the product, sulphites in wine can vary greatly. For instance, red wines already contain high levels of antioxidants naturally, so the addition of more is not required.

Because rose’ and white wines are not left in contact with their skins after crushing, they contain very low levels of antioxidants, so they require larger amounts of sulphites. It is necessary to add extra sulphites in wine that is particularly sweet (dessert wines), as more of it binds with the extra sugar present.

Commercial winemakers (those who produce wine on a mass scale), add sulphites to protect the characteristics of the product for longer. However, quality winemakers producing small quantities (often referred to as Boutique or Artisan winemakers) make wine as nature intended with minimal intervention and few additives.

What the Experts Say

There are many conflicting opinions about wine and health. While some experts believe that the antioxidants present in natural wine are beneficial, there is also the belief that the excessive sulphites in cheaper, mass-produced wine negates those benefits, often resulting in the dreaded “morning after” feeling. However, it is thought that drinking natural wine – with no added sulphites – or a good quality organic wine is the best way to avoid allergic reactions.

Whilst natural wine can be difficult to come by, good quality organic wine is becoming more widely available in the UK and is worth trying for those who have experienced sulphite related health problems in the past. Many of these people may be able to rediscover the joys of wine-drinking.

EU law states that mass-produced, natural and organic wine must be labelled as ‘containing sulphites’ if there is more than 10mg per litre present – which is certainly the case in most Supermarket wines. The good news is that quality winemakers see themselves as non-interventionalist and aim to produce wine as nature intended. Buying good quality wine (organic if possible) from this class of winemaker is the best way to avoid the potential side effects of sulphites in wine.

Organic, Boutique and Quality Wines are available to buy at www.winepalate.co.uk.

Vinaceous Wines – Exciting New Wines Brand New To The UK

February 26th, 2014

Share this article with your friends on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Vinaceous Wines From Wine Palate

Vinaceous Wines From Wine Palate

Vinaceous Wines have just landed in the UK from Australia and we are super-excited to be one of the first in the UK to offer this exciting new brand to our customers.  This brand new exotic range of wines with bags of personality have launched very successfully in Australia and in the USA – and you could be one of the first in the UK to try them.

If names like Raconteur, Snake Charmer and Shakre don’t grab your attention, then the 30’s and 40’s theatre and circus style labels on this exciting new range most certainly will!

Vinaceous (click for the full range and our best buying prices) is the brain child of Nick Stacy and talented Australian winemaker Michael Kerrigan. Their concept is to bring distinctive and expressive wines that represent different mythical personalities such as Angels, Mermaids and Demons.

Why You Should Buy Vinaceous Wines

With fun and provocative imagery, it’s not just the labels that are a talking point; the wines themselves are simply delightful – diligently made, and very high quality. They are a great talking point over drinks or dinner, and you simply have to have a few in your wine rack!

If you like to discover something new, there is at least one in the range to suit your palate. We’ve summarised below, and full tasting notes are online.

Vinaceous Snake Charmer Shiraz At Wine Palate

Snake Charmer Shiraz – be enticed with her beauty, and fall under the magical savoury spell of chocolate and mocha with hints of dark fruits.

 

Vinaceous Cabernet Sauvignon bottle image

Raconteur Cabernet Sauvignon is a story well told, and loves to be the centre of attention, blackberry and raspberry notes and a silky feel on your tongue.

Bottle image of Vinaceous Shakre Chardonnay

Shakre Chardonnay – re balance your chi with mystical charms of tropical notes, a hint of creaminess, a touch of spice – and a toasty oak finish.

Bottle image of Vinaceous Sirenya Pinot Grigio

Sirenya Pinot Grigio – her song will captivate – bright, fresh and enticing with notes of citrus fruits and a long finish.

Bottle image of Vinaceous Divine Light Sauvignon Blanc

Divine Light Sauvignon Blanc has Celestial charms, and oozes class every time it touches your lips – refreshing and full of tropical and citrus flavours.

Bottle image of  Vinaceous Red Right Hand

Red Right Hand Shiraz/Grenache/Tempranillo blend depicts a flame thrower, and this wonderful blend has a dark fruity profile with a hint of raspberry and strawberry and a gorgeous touch of violet.

With so many stunning labels to choose from in the Vinaceous range you will be spoiled for choice for a gift idea. And at £12.74 for the whites and £13.45 for the reds ,  they won’t break the bank either!

Rioja – Exploring The Appeal Of A Great Wine Region

February 19th, 2014

Rioja, along with Sparkling Cava, is perhaps the wine Spain is known best for. Here we will explore the history of the region, what the different classifications of Rioja mean and recommend a wonderful wine that we think all Rioja fans should try from the LAN Winery.

Although around 85% of Rioja is red, white and rose’ blends are also produced. In this article we will focus on red – a blend of grapes from the region high in the north of Spain.

The History of Rioja

When you think of Spain, you might imagine beautiful sunsets, bustling cities, tapas, and perhaps wine. This would not be  surprising, as Spain is the world’s 3rd largest producer of wine behind France and Italy.

The region produces around 5% of Spanish wine, and is divided into three districts –

  • Rioja Alta
  • Rioja Alavesa
  • and Rioja Baja

Each district creates it’s own expression of the wines. Around 14,000 wineries (mainly family owned, and known locally as Bodegas) producing the Jewel In Spain’s Wine Making Crown.

 

The Rioja region is beautiful and sits on a plateau 1500 feet above sea level beneath the Cantabrian mountains. Lush and green with hilltop monasteries, and ancient traditions. Winemaking here dates back to 873 AD with the river that gives the Region it’s name flowing through – the Oja (Rio Oja).

Classifications Of Rioja

The four classifications of Rioja tell a story of the age of the wine.

  • Rioja spends up to a year in oak barrel
  • Crianza is aged for two years (one of which must be in oak barrel)
  • Reserva is aged for three years (one in oak)
  • and top of the range Gran Reserva spends at least two years in oak and three in bottle before being released

The red blend is typically 60% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, and a smaller percentage of local varietals (often brought in from Basque and Navarra) to add aromas and flavours. Oak ageing gives a pronounced vanilla flavour – the trademark of Rioja.

Food To Enjoy With Rioja

Rioja is a very versatile wine for food pairing, and tastes delicious with grilled chicken, tomato and meat based pasta, red meat and game dishes, and not surprisingly Mediterranean dishes such as grilled vegetables and peppers, and Tapas – especially when chorizo is on the menu. Mouthwatering!

So it may be time to kick back and sample the flavours from this unspoilt region – and our Wine of The Month is the perfect bottle to uncork – enjoy!

Food and Wine: A Marriage Made in Heaven This Valentines Day

January 23rd, 2014

There are few things in life which give such great joy as a perfect food and wine pairing.  The perfect combination creates a delight for the eyes, the nose and the mouth so it’s no surprise that a wonderful and well thought out meal makes for a fantastically sensual Valentine’s Day treat.

The 14th of February is, after all, a traditional feast day so pick your food and wine carefully to create the perfect romantic meal for the person you love.

The Perfect Romantic Meal

Valentine’s Day is all about the senses so bear this in mind when creating your perfect night.  It’s all in the details so add some candles and rose petals to the table to create an intimate atmosphere and have some bubbly on ice to start the evening in a luxurious fashion.Ibis Rosato Frizzante From Wine Palate

I really love pink fizz on Valentine’s Day.  The Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne is from one of the best French Champagne houses and makes the day that bit more special.  Of course there are many alternatives to Champagne now and you can get plenty of “bang” for your buck with some top quality Cava and Frizzante.  The Ibis Rosato Frizzante makes a gorgeous sparkling aperitif and is delicious when added to crushed raspberries (the bottle also looks fitting for the occasion with a heart printed label!).

Aphrodisiac Entreés

So your romantic evening has started well.  Now it’s time to get serious!  Oysters have long been thought of as aphrodisiacs and it’s not just a folk tale.  Oysters contain high levels of amino acids and Zinc which do actually increase hormone levels.

Oysters can either be served raw with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh parsley or (for the more squeamish) grilled with garlic butter and chilli flakes.  Whatever method you use, take your food to the next level by pairing them with a dry Riesling to compliment their salty tang.

Riesling: The Versatile Wine

Riesling is a grape variety which is used in a vast array of different wines.  From dry to sweet to sparkling and even a red, it can accompany so many different food types.

Dandelion Vineyards Riesling at Wine PalateOriginally from the Rhine region of Germany, it is now grown as far afield as Italy, Australia and even China.

Australian Riesling tends to have a smooth, citrusy flavour demonstrated in the Annie’s Lane Riesling which is a medium wine which pairs well with spicy food and the Gold Medal winning Dandelion Vineyards Riesling which is perfect with seafood.

The Main Course

The last thing you want in a Valentine’s meal is for it to be too heavy and leave you feeling sluggish afterwards.  There should be no dozing off on the couch after this meal!  Nor should the meal leave you hungry for anything but love (sorry – corny line I know!).

My suggestion for a romantic main course is to try your hand at tapas.  Sharing your food is a romantic gesture but also means that you’re not putting down a whole plate of stodge to fill you both up.

Try some pan-fried scallops topped with crispy chorizo, bite size tortillas, Patatas Bravas (potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) and spicy Spanish meatballs plus anything else that takes your fancy.  Most tapas dishes are quick and easy to prepare so you should still have time to glam up before the meal.  For more tapas recipes see www.orceserranohams.com/recipes.

Keeping with the Spanish theme, a great wine to pair with tapas (or any meat or cheese based meal) is Castano Monastrell.  A fruity, full-bodied red from South-Eastern Spain.  This versatile wine won a Silver award at the Somellier Wine Awards and is fantastic value for money.

Whatever you decide to serve up for your loved one, remember to check out Wine Palate online where you can find suggestions for ideal food and wine pairings read more about our award winning wines.