A bobby-dazzler of a bargain!

November 25, 2012

Well once again winter is upon us faster than you can say “I knew there was something odd about that Jimmy Saville fella!” So i have already piled on my extra winter weight, brought my oversized two foot doggy slipper downstairs, and stocked the racks up with some bargain reds! If like me your looking to still indulge your inner wino, whilst saving a few extra pound notes before old St Nick fleeces your wallet in 34 days time, this next bit maybe of interested.
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Sourcing your vino from low budget German supermarkets often shares the same stigma as buying your new Christmas party shirt from Primark, just hoping no one will ask the question “where did you buy that from?”. With these bang tidy bargains you can shake off any fears of looking like a tight arse and embrace the praise from your peers who will be desperate to know where you found these award winning beauties!

Name on the Label: Toro Loco Tempranillo
Year: 2011
Country: Spain
Grape: Tempranillo
Origin: DOC Utiel-Requena / Province of Valencia
Awarded: Silver winner – International Wine & Spirit Competition
Cost: £3.59
Find in: Aldi
Paring: Chicken and Chorizo hotpot

Here is one to place at the top of your Christmas list. Toro Loco (translated: Mad Bull) a bright red cherry and raspberry aroma lights up your nose like Rudolf with a cold! These red fruit flavours are joined by a hint of vanilla and oaky spice! A great introduction to the adaptable Tempranillo grape demonstrating that there is life beyond the Rioja. For only £3.59, maybe ask for a sack full?

Name on the Label: Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Year: 2011
Country: Italy
Grape: Montepulciano
Origin: DOC
Awarded: Bronze winner – International Wine & Spirit Competition
Cost: £3.59
Find in: Aldi
Pairing:

Tom Daley maybe the owner of 2012’s smallest swimming trunks and the most celebrated Bronze medal, however Aldi’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is deserving of it’s own lap of honour for it’s bronze award at this years IWAS. The name may not be easy to pronounce with even more vowels then Carol Vorderman would take on, but this fresh young bobby dazzler from the hills of the Abruzo region (East/Central) is well worth getting your tongue around. A dry and soft juicy number with a nose of Black Forest Gateau with a tasty cherry spice on the finish. An easy Tuesday night drinker with a cheeky pasta bake, a bargain price so treat yourself on a cosy night in, a true cracker.

Finally, I’d like to tipmy hat to a few others in Aldi’s repertoire. Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva, Vina Decana Crianza, Estevez Cab Sauvignon/Carmenere and Minarete Ribera del Duero are all worth investigating. One sour note, stay away from the French stuff, you may assume that the label will impress when you turn up to the office party with a bottle labelled with “Bordeaux”, however it may result in a slightly embarrassed silence.

That’s this cut price ramble finished with. A great bottle of red for just £3.59,a load of bull? Don’t think so. Good luck bargain hunting!

Much Love,

WP

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Brand new to Wine Punks!

August 24, 2011

Introducing… Wine Punks “Quick Posts!” These QP’s will contain frequent, shorter and cheekier updates, which will hopefully sooth your Wine Punks fix.

We aim to continually build the site with full articles and QP’s providing you with more wine for your browsing!

Keep tuned.

Wine Punks.

Wondering Wine

August 14, 2011

It appears that the best things in life come in pairs, Lennon and McCartney, Alcohol and Dance Floors, Bangers and Mash… the list is endless. Lunchtime Monday 1st August 2011 saw witness to a partnership that even Cilla Black would be proud of, not England’s hero’s Broad and Bresnan, but the mouth-watering combination of Test Match Cricket and a quality bottle of wine. Now let’s stay focused, this article isn’t about leather and willow, more about changing the way you enjoy yourself at the next Concert, Musical, Sporting jamboree that you risk the weather or your wallet for.

No longer do you need to settle for a warm glass of cheap tasting Blossom Hill. In fact would you believe that you could get a decent bottle of decanted grapes whilst still sitting in the cheap seats? (Still priced at £40, thanks Dad.) Introducing the Wondering Wine Company. These happy campers set up shop in a distinctive sky blue VW vintage van, offering an assortment of reds, roses, whites and all things sparkly, should the moment arise. As the Wondering Wine Company is a subsidiary of respected wine merchants, Bibbendum, the quality of wine on offer was strong, the service was friendly and approachable, and the added extras of a solid plastic decanter, suitable drinking utensils and charming carrying box are an additional bonus.

As the “old man” refuses to dabble with the white grapes, our weapons of choice are whittled down to, a Valdivieso Chilean Merlot, Spy Valley Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Dad’s choice, a meaty Argento, Malbec from Argentina. After a fierce game of rock, paper, scissors the Malbec came out top. However, the price you pay for enjoying a relaxing vino in exhilarating surroundings isn’t cheap at £21.00 for the Argento Malbec, which Majestic sell for £6.99 and Tesco for a £5.00 summer deal. But comparisons to those over inflated restaurant wine menus prices put it into perspective, so you can either suck it up, or pay £4.00 for a pint of Fosters/Coke, which you either spilt or is predominantly froth.

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With the sound of bat and ball, a sunburnt nose and a couple of pork pies for accompaniment it was time to sample our Argentinean tipple. A dark violet, vimto colour sloshed around our upmarket plastic glasses, releasing intense black fruit and plum perfume. The first sip gives you a large jolt as the full bodied Melbec attacks your taste buds with some force.  This once overused and partially unappreciated grape first came to prominence in Bordeaux, but fell out of fashion quicker than yoyos and myspace. However Melbec has become as Argentinean as Diego Maradona’s right boot (or hand) in it’s spiritual home of Mendoza which rests at the foot of the Andes, providing constant irrigation to the desert like climate.

The second slurp allows the palate to become accustomed from the larger-shandy and begins to exhibit all of those blackberry, plum and raspberry flavours, complementing the clean crisp oaky edge like a well mannered son in law. This oaky texture derives from the 3 month oak barrel aging process which occurs after the stainless style fermentation, fusing both contemporary and habitual wine crafting techniques. The silky tannins, dark chocolate and vanilla linger around to provide a more-ish aftertaste which retreats in the back of your mouth until England’s next wicket. Argento Bodegas fuses the old with the new, using a variety of techniques to develop a first-class quality lower end wine. Admirers of bulky Bordeauxs and strong Shirazs this should defiantly be next on your to do list especially for a midweek steak night, a cheeky pork pie or a tempting nibble of dark chocolate…perfection.

Wondering Wines and Argento have a similar ethos, both searching for fresh methods to uncork a new wine demographic, forever endeavouring to bridge the gap of innovation and tradition which for any grape aficionados, means exciting times ahead. So make sure at the next sporting event or a chic “glamping” music festival, keep your eyes and mouths open for a little blue van stocked full of wondering wines.

Until Next Time…

Phil Bailey (WinePunks)

Links:

http://www.argentowine.com

http://twitter.com/#!/wonderingwine

España …the word alone conjures up images of family summer holidays, Flamenco dancers, and as much Toblerone as you can possibly squeeze into one overhead storage compartment. However, maybe Spain has more to offer than holidays for Johnny Vegas, stereotypical Sangria and the increasingly familiar (yet superb) Rioja.

In order to open my eyes, ears and mouth to the hidden wonders of Spanish life (most importantly wine), myself and a few dear souls attended a wine tasting evening, suitably entitled “Beyond Rioja”. Hosted by Richard and Tim, the owners of independent wine merchants Worth Brothers, (not just marketing, they are actually brothers), situated in their private underground cellar in the fine city of Lichfield, Staffordshire. On offer, 9 tasting wines for £7.50 (a bargain for two hours of jollity) plus a few special deals are available if you decide to keep the festivities going and purchase a couple of the featured bottles.

The evening opened with a Classic Fino Sherry, produced by “Fernando de Castilla” an award winning Bodega (Spanish winery) from Jerez in Andalusia; Sherry’s spiritual home. Within recent years, Sherry has become slightly more in vogue with the wine avant-guard. It would still be fair to say that this temperamental juice may just be the wine equivalent of Marmite… or Coldplay, ironically all three are loved by your Grandma. After a generous pour, the glass fills with a bright crystal clear liquid. The first dip of the nose identified an intriguing creamy toffee and nut combination, which temporally altered my perceptions of Nan’s old favourite late night tipple. Conversely, my youthful taste buds (a slight oxymoron having just turned 26) didn’t relish the intense almond beginnings which seemed to increase in intensity with every gulp. Fino (which translates to fine) is renowned for its clarity and dryness which is in abundance here. An energetic, thick, nutty, essence combined with mature fruit flavour sadly didn’t appeal to my habitually sweeter inclinations when it comes to all things fortified. However, if partnered with an eclectic mix of tapas, olives or a suitable bite to eat it may reveal it’s true potential.

Nonetheless, Richard and Tim offer two key tips to get the best out of your Fino. For the best results, ensure that you drink it straight from a fridge, a nice and cool 7-9 degrees. Also, contrary to popular belief, Sherry needs to be fresh and drank within a week of opening to guarantee the true quality. So, throw away the bottle which appears every other Christmas when it’s your turn to host the in-laws. If you’re a Sherry aficionado, fancy a drop of mature fortified wine or just to see what Spain has to offer, for a tenner, why not give it a whirl?

It was then time to exhibit the variety and legitimacy of Spanish whites. The first tipple was K-Naia from the high altitude region of Rueda and the second, a Chardonnay from Somontano. Both of these were grand examples of Spain’s white offerings. However, these two vanished from memory quicker than last year’s XFactor winner, from the first taste of the Albarino (Ahl-bah-REE-nyoh), Bodegas Martin Codax 2008 from the un-stereotypically green Galixian region of Rias Baizas.

Situated in the north-west of the country, Rias Baizas is home to surprisingly green, luscious steep slopes and a changeable Atlantic climate, idyllic for Albarino. These low yield grapes actually originate from humble beginnings in the garden of the next door neighbour, Portugal and are recognised to be the long lost cousin of the fruity Riesling. Intensive development has brought the region of Rias Baizas increased sales along with domestic and international acclaim, making Albarino a true Spanish citizen.

Under the nose, this glass is as thrilling as a cold winter weekend away in Hull, just an earthy, damp, semi ripen apple, mineral scent which bores your nostrils. So it’s a good job we didn’t drink it with our noses. The sooner you give it a few customary swirls and finally taste the stuff you can see what all the fuss is about. A modern tasting fruity goblet of goodness, harbouring apricots, peaches, grapefruit, pears… in fact more fruity than Mark Fowler’s lunch box. A greenish-yellow colour hosts a mildly acidic tang with a refreshing medium-to-dry finish completes the mouthful which adds balance to the initial sweetness, a refreshing breakaway from over oaked Chardonnay.

Gastronomic suggestions range from full fish dishes to the predictable Paella, creamy or spicy Asian chicken. It’s more of an all-rounder than Ian “Beefy” Botham. A bottle of handpicked, eco friendly fruity grapes which you can sip as an aperitif or quaff with some meaty tuna steaks, howzthat for £10.75.

As the evening wore on, the merriment increased (possibly due to the lack of encouragement for spittoon usage) we delved into Spain’s forte; powerful, fruity, more-ish reds. Honourable mentions go to a juicy Monastrell from the modest area of Jumilla, which hosts a dark cherry class of spice, coffee and plum, along with a hearty 15% alcohol level… luckily I didn’t have anything to do the next morning! Also on offer, a creamy La Mancha blend with 90% Tempranillo with Merlot and Cabinet Sauvignon with an intriguing odour of creamy vanilla and Werther’s Original. Before I started having flashbacks of old men in a wooden armchairs, the scent of strong black fruits, leather and Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe liquorice came to my rescue. Both of thess flavoursome glasses possess reasonable levels of tannins (that dry and puckery feeling), so if you’re not used to your fuller bodied reds, get the Nurofen ready.

Despite the fine efforts of La Mancha and the underappreciated Jumilia, the evening ended on a bigger high than the Beatles had in India, with the Ribera del Duero from the Bodegas Caballero Mendoza 2004. This family owned vineyard is situated high on the banks of the Duero River, which is considered to be one of the world’s four great wine rivers in the world, amongst the Rhone, Rhine and Loire.  Similarities to the unassailable Rioja are obvious, however, it’s the subtle disparities which makes Ribera del Duero alluring, such as the use of 100% Tempranillo, (locally known as Tinto del Pais) instead of the commonly blended Rioja. Wine has been grown and consumed by the Duero since Julius Caesar’s flip flops marched on the area centuries ago. However, it wasn’t until 2008 that the region received bleated appreciation and was awarded DO status, (Denominación de Origen Protegida) which is awarded to the mainstream quality-wine regions of Spain.

A cunningly crafted goblet of ruby red and plum goodness meets you at the rim, large thick tears of elation trickle down the side of the glass, indicating substantial alcohol content. The smell carries you straight to an authentic Spanish village square, light floral and herb scents accompany the expected black fruits, figs and olives. The palate hosts a celebration of full bodied black fruity freshness with a slender oaky undertone from the 12 months retreat in American oak barrels, smooth ripe tannins present light spice and a bit of oomph when ultimately swallowed. The class of 2004 is recognised for being a superior vintage, so if you see a bottle glistening which is from the Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) and stretches throughout the Ribera del Duero region, snap it up and save it for a sundrenched day as this bottle will stay fresh and is at its peak well after twenty years (similar to a few of us).

            

Two hours of tasting the offerings “beyond Rioja” illustrated the depth and quality of this wine superpower. All of the featured wines have become particular tipples of choice with a tasting trip even planned to the Jumilla region. All of these wines have distinct flavour and masses of personality, even the Sherry which I shall endeavour to taste again. A great way to discover and widen your knowledge and taste, so if you’re in the Lichfield area, or even if not, see if your local merchant is hosting such an occasion! An enjoyable night, good wine, good people and good heavens I should spit more next time…

Phil Bailey – Wine Punks.

Links:

The Worth Brothers Website: http://www.worthbrothers.co.uk/

Worth Brother Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/worthbrothers

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July 25, 2011

Wine Punks are now on Twitter!!

If you spend most of your free time following tweets from Lord Sugar or just stalking a pretend Paris Hilton, why not keep up to date with your favorite wino’s. Start following us either by searching @winepunks or click the link at the bottom of the page.

New wine based ramblelings of the Latin variety will appear on the blog within the next couple of days so remember to keep popping back!

Lavvvvvvely stuff.

 


			

Doctors Orders…

July 21, 2011

So it’s that time of year again… the end of those painful exams, the smell of burning sausages, red sunburnt noses (or is that just mine?) and when tennis becomes everyone’s favourite sport (for two weeks)…  all this must mean the summer months are here.  I personally see this as the perfect opportunity for some fine food, good friends and a glass of some tasty German grape juice, which is what we did last weekend. So read on if you’re looking to get that summer-lovin’ shindig off to a start of epic portions, look no yonder than the bottle of DR. LOOSEN’s, Riesling Kabinett 2008

Dr.Loosen Riesling, is a still, white wine crafted in the vast hillsides which roll around Mosel, South Germany.  In fact, the bottle of tasty little grapes that my friends devoured last weekend were from a particular vineyard within the Loosen estate called “Erdener Treppchen”. I have since been informed (as I did P.E instead of GCSE German) that it is translated to “The little staircase of Eden”.  The 2008 vintage is priced at £12.99 and may require a few more English pence than you would normally part with for a bottle of wine, however for a matured bottle of German Riesling, from a premium wine producer, is a bargain that David Dickinson couldn’t say no to it.

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Despite sounding like a biblical Led Zeppelin B side, this vineyard and whole region of Mosel looks like a stunning setting for this mouth-watering creation. The region is one of the most northern areas for wine production in the world, so the combination of the cool climate and Riesling grapes are the finest amalgamation I have stumbled upon since Morrissey and Marr. The “Kabinett” on the label declares a dry taste, and indicates that the grapes were fully ripened when harvested, typically in September. Riesling is often described as “wines best kept secret”, and so far I haven’t found anyone who makes this stuff better than Dr. Loosen. Since my first sniff of the Doctor just a few months ago, I’ve been blabbing this “secret” to anyone who will listen, so listen up…

When poured, the glass illuminates with a soft golden green autumn leaf colour, a quick swirl indicates a low alcohol content (as does the label) of 7.5%. A deep inhale (hayfever permitting) will release an aroma that Winnie the Pooh would admit is tastier than the finest honey, this sweetness is then balanced out with a floral smell of a fresh mixed bouquet. The combination of sweetness and flowers makes this the perfect wine if you’re considering going on “Dinner Date” or just aiming to impress a special lady or fella this weekend.

The final scent that strikes you between the septum is that a light petrol fume which is concealed underneath that sweet fruit, honey tang. This petrol undercurrent is common with Riesling, (don’t confuse that description with the smell of an M40 service station) It’s more of a pure zing and intensifies all the flavours that are bouncing around your glass.

The first slurp is smooth and sweet which produced big smiles from all last weekend (as seen in the attached photo and Paul’s enchanted smile).  The floral scents remain, however they are overtaken by citrus, apricots and lemony flavours which mingle with a ripe pink lady apple adding a needed touch of acidity. The warm honey smoothness blends with the floral and fruity flavours, whilst the three year aging process has reduced the sharp, sweet texture to a matured, slightly dry, well rounded finish of white goodness.

In order to get this declaration of summer party started, resident chef (my new roomy) served up some spicy Chicken Udon Noodles and some Chinese Duck Pancakes. As an aperitif this wine is dangerously easy to drink and all of us where looking for seconds before the food was ready. The tang of the citrus and lemon fruit, combined with the oriental spice, works as well as a BIG Aussie Shiraz with BBQ’ed MEAT. All the flavours of the sweet chilli source unite with the matured Riesling taste, which balances better than a 2012 gymnast. The roasted Duck was stunning and I even saw off the last of the leftovers, however it did collide with the sweet Riesling which produces a slightly tart aftertaste. However, stir-fried chicken with those big chunky Udon noodles, add a touch of light spice and you’re on to a winner.

So there it is, my first write up. It took slightly longer than planned but hopefully you got something out of it. It was a pleasure to share something that I genuinely believe is worth sharing with you all. So go to your local wine guy or gal and have a look for a tall, long distinctive bottle and make your own appointment with the Doctor (see pic below). Whilst you’re at it, I would pick up two bottles, as we found out, as soon as your friends or that hot date get a sniff its all gone quicker than you can say Erdener Treppchen.

Much Love,

Wine Punks.

BOOOOOOOOM! The start of my new hobby/obsession, a fresh new pair of eyes and ears (and mouth) on the never ending subject of wine has begun, and your reading it. This blog will provide the interesting new, fresh, youthful thoughts on all things red, white and all in between. Anything which will pass my lips, you lot will be the first to hear about it.

This page will include three main W’s. Well it’s all about WINE, so the first one is easy. WHAT… has been drunk, how good, bad and average it was, what was eaten with it, exciting times. WHEN…  was it drunk, day, night, mid morning, the place it was tasted and the general gossip that went with it. There will also be some drops of musical wonderment to accompany you for your stay on this page so watch out for them.

Tonight (Sat 25th June) A small shindig with good friends, which will hopefully produce the first real post as I introduce them to some of the new drops of liquid I have feel in love with over the last few months. So that’s it in a small to medium sized nut shell.

I shall write later or maybe another time…

Love, Wine Punks.

PS. Have a BBQ tomorrow, play this, and tell me what you drunk with what.