Lidl UK had a new set of wines ready for us to taste yesterday in Central London. The mostly French-themed selection make up the bulk of what will be on the shelves for the Autumn and Winter in supermarkets across the country. Here’s my take on the top three whites and top three reds to keep an eye out for…and a cheeky rosé just for good measure! 😉
Unless you’re into cricket, you won’t know who Blowers is. Henry Calthorpe Blofeld is arguably the most famous cricket commentator in the UK, and is famed for his very eloquent, Old Etonian style of taking us through the summer’s cricket for Test Match Special, an absolute institution on British radio. In fact I’ve just been listening to it this morning and heard Michael Vaughn and Jonathan Agnew talking about last night’s knees up round Blowers’ place, and nailing back his own label wine. How have I not tried Blowers’ wine?
Jura’s not a wine region of France that I’d expect many (non-wine-geek) people of heard of, let alone know much about their wines. It’s pretty small, at only about half the size of Chablis in Burgundy. But with 5 different grape varieties producing in excess of 25 genuinely distinct styles of wine, it’s definitely one that will surprise you.
It’s tough enough these days if you’ve got an established “brand” on the wine shelves of the world. Everyone’s got their struggles. The Chileans are trying to get everyone to trade up, the Argentinians are trying to say they’ve got more than just Malbec, even the French are trying to reinvent most of the famous regions to the new audiences. So if you’re barely on the wine map (so to speak), then do you really stand a chance? If you’re Cyprus you do!
Personally, before Monday morning, I hadn’t. I’m assuming most of you out there are in the same boat. I mean, short of going Cyprus for your holidays, why would you have? It’s not like the corner shop’s full to the brim of them is it? So why is there a point in even writing anything about them?
When I was out in Cahors, I was there as a guest of the fine folks at Chateau De Mercues. It’s a Relais and Chateaux gaff right on the Lot river, surrounded by Malbec vines. The 13th Century castle also boasts a fine dining restaurant that is pushing hard for Michelin status. I’m doing my best to make it sound amazing, because it was amazing. But I don’t think it would have been half as impressive had it not been for where it is. The Lot Valley is a fantastic place to visit!
When people think of Malbec as a grape or a wine or whatever then the first two things that usually pop into people’s heads are “Argentina” and “steak”. Fair enough, it’s what we’ve all been loving in the last ten or fifteen years or so. But what if I were to tell you that Malbec is actually a French grape by origin, and that the Malbec’s coming out of France these days are back to being world beaters? Are you ready to give them a try?
It’s not everyday you bump into the best young winemaker in Argentina. It’s not everyday you can say that and it actually be true either. But when my mate, Louise, took me to meet the very cool German Berra of Finca Flichman at the recent London Wine Fair, it was fair enough. He’d been voted the top boy in Argentina the year before, and as much as I’m sometimes a bit dubious about these titles, I’ll let him off, I reckon he deserves this one!
I’m about to open you up to my complete ignorance. You’ve got to understand that I’ve not travelled much in Eastern Europe, and I’ve never ever been to Romania. Before a couple of years back my entire repertoire of knowledge consisted of their football team bleaching their hair in 1998 and a bit of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Another upshot of being in the wine industry is that all this farcically poor level of knowledge can’t last forever!
So last, but not least, in the winemaker profiles for the Lazenne WineCheck Giveaway is a very good friend of mine. I first met Gianni Doglia about 12 years ago, when my mum and dad first started making trips out to Piemonte. Not sure if he knows this, but it was actually him and his family that first inspired me to get more involved with wine as a hobby. Infectious passion and enthusiasm, always smiling (except when it hails!), and the most glorious view from a cellar I’d ever seen. I’m so glad he’s a part of this.