Winewyse Press Articles

Wine Still Available to Keep Up Morale

Richard Esling - Monday, March 30, 2020
Wine Still Available to Keep Up Morale

It was great to see last week that off-licenses were added to the list of businesses allowed – and even actively encouraged – to stay open in these difficult times of social distancing. The reason was twofold. Most importantly, I believe, it was due to the recognition that we all need a little something to lift our spirits and enjoy a glass of wine or beer with our meals at home. 

Secondly it was recognising that the supermarkets were having an unfair advantage, since they were obviously and necessarily open, but they stock alcoholic drinks as well as food. With supermarkets open and off-licenses shut, the advantage to the former was clearly unfair.
The Wine Society, which is a fabulous on-line wine retailer, sadly reached the conclusion that they must shut up shop temporarily, to protect the well-being of their fulfilment staff. Majestic, although they have shut all their stores, is still operating intermittently on-line. Due to the volume of orders, the website has crashed at times and, a bit like Ocado, you sometimes have to wait to be able to place an order. The balance between staff well-being, social distancing and customer service is difficult to negotiate in these strange times.

However, despite reports of empty shelves in the wine aisles of the supermarkets, there is still plenty of wine around to help us during our lock-down. When I visited my local Waitrose store last weekend, after queuing for around 45 minutes, there was plenty of stock on the shelves. I am also impressed by their selection. Visit the small independent wine shops also. They need the business and normally have a great selection available.

You can also buy direct from the English wine producers, such as Ridgeview which I mentioned last week. But here are a few suggestions of wines which I can recommend from the Co-op. These stores are widely distributed throughout Sussex and have changed enormously in the last few years, now stocking a great range of foods, along with a very good selection of wines. Not all the wines are stocked in all the branches but go on-line and you can find which wines you can find where.

Some of these wines I have recommended in previous articles, such as the South African red Zalze Shiraz Grenache Viognier 2018, full bodied, delicious and a steal at £7.65. Two wines from Chile come from a sustainable winery called Vina Ventisquero, who are committed to working with local wetlands in a bid to champion wildlife preservation. Using modern winemaking techniques, the Yali Wild Swan Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£7.50) has fresh, vibrant acidity, medium body and intense aromas of citrus and tropical fruits. Delicious as an aperitif or with a cheese and vegetable quiche. 

The red Yali Wild Swan, made from the Merlot grape variety, is rich and soft, with dark fruit character of black cherries and plums. The cooling effect of fresh winds from the Pacific Ocean allows the fruit to ripen slowly, resulting in greater elegance in the wine and gentle oak treatment has given flavours of vanilla, cinnamon and tobacco. Enjoy with a hearty pasta dish (still available if you look hard, or perhaps already in your store cupboard!) or beef casserole, with onions and carrots.

Les Jamelles Viognier 2018 (£7.35) from the Languedoc region of southern France is well made and well balanced. Dry, but with spicy fruit, it is perfect with Asian style dishes. With a nod towards Summer, the New Zealand Rosé from Babich (£9) is dry, fruity and refreshing. The fresh 2019 vintage is crisp and delicious. A great aperitif to sip and dream of those holidays which will come eventually.

Tasting at the Top!

Richard Esling - Sunday, March 01, 2020
Tasting at the Top!


Tasting at the Top!   Etc Magazine March 2020

Have you ever wondered what the top Bordeaux wines taste like, those which sell at over a hundred euros per bottle – and more? Well now your curiosity can be satisfied.  Max Bordeaux is ready to educate your palate, without the need for taking out a second mortgage. Tucked away down a gallery off one of the main streets of the city of Bordeaux, Cours de l’Intendance, Max Bordeaux offers a tasting experience like no other. Using an array of the latest high-tech tasting equipment, wines such as Clos Fourtet 2015 Premier Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion, or Chateau Montrose 2011 Saint Estephe Grand Cru Classé, are all available to taste.

The cost of tasting samples varies from one euro to thirty-five euros for a 2.5cl portion, depending on the wine and the vintage. The Oenomatic tasting machines are operated by a form of credit card, purchased at Max Bordeaux and ‘credited’ with as much or as little as the visitor wishes to spend. Three different portion sizes are available with prices varying accordingly, from the self-serve machines.

The establishment was created in 2009 by the Norwegian Henning Thoresen, who wished to make the Grand Cru Classé wines available to all, for both tasting and by the glass. A unique and innovative concept, in an ultra-modern setting, more than 45 Great Bordeaux wines are accessible by the tasting sample, or by the glass. Latour, Margaux, Cheval Blanc, Mouton Rothschild, Chateau d’Yquem, can all be sampled, although the range changes frequently.

For the best tasting experience of the World Class wines of Bordeaux, take a city break to one of the World’s wine capitals. The majestic port city of Bordeaux in south-west France is the perfect place for a three- or four-night break for wine lovers, or lovers of all kinds come to that. This iconic, romantic city has been transformed in recent years, with a massive clean-up of the stately buildings and the introduction of a modern tram network which has taken nearly all the traffic out of the city centre.
Easily accessible from Gatwick with BA or Easyjet, an autonomous wine tasting trip to Bordeaux can be easily achieved, sampling some of the best wines in the world without even leaving the fabulous city itself. With a vast selection of restaurants, wine-bars and other eateries, lunch or dinner is never a problem, all naturally serving a good selection of the local wines.

For total immersion in Bordeaux culture, lunch at La Brasserie Bordelaise on Rue Saint Remi is a must. A real ‘institution’, the clientele is a mix of tourists and locals, in an authentic and lively atmosphere, the walls lined with bottles of Bordeaux wines. Part of the Maison Lascombes group of 8 restaurants in the Bordeaux region, their ‘raison d’etre’ can be summed up by a quote from the epicurean Auguste Escoffier ‘To make something good, you need to make something really good’. With a list of over a hundred Bordeaux wines, with a dozen or so by the glass at very reasonable prices and a total range of hundreds of wines, a visit to La Brasserie Bordelaise is ‘un vrai bonheur’!

A whole host of other possibilities exist to increase your knowledge and wine tasting experience of Bordeaux wines, without leaving the confines of this beautiful city. Several wine producing Chateaux  are accessible by efficient public transport -bus or tram. Chateau Picque Caillou, Chateau Pape Clement, Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion and Château Luchey Halde, all are within easy striking distance of the city centre, without the need of a hire car. Alternatively, take the Urban Wine Trail – the Wine Bar Route! Twenty different Wine Bars around the city, all with special offers to enable tasting of a selection of Bordeaux wines. A challenging and rewarding experience.