Monday, 18 September 2017

Two special vineyards

As well as the vineyards I mentioned in Wines of the Languedoc we visited two special domaines: Abbaye des Monges and Domaine Paul Mas.

Abbaye des Monges is on the main road from Narbonne to Gruissan, it's actually a small hamlet consisting of a manor house, a few domestic houses, an old abbey and three gites. The gites are all in one building that is built into the hill side providing two single bedroom gites downstairs and one three bedroom gite upstairs: accessed by driving round the back giving a totally private area.

In 2002 Nick, myself, my Dad, Michael and Philippa enjoyed two weeks in the large gite; such a lovely place. Abbaye des Monges is owned by Baron Paul de Chefdebien and his wife Marie-Claude; he is a renowned vintner and Marie-Claude an architect. Whilst wine making is the main purpose they also wanted to renovate the ruined abbey. Whilst there in 2002 we were honoured to be invited to a wine tasting with their family where they opened the first bottle of their 2001 wine.

2002 - what a great holiday we had 

The back of the main gite - so relaxing, so peaceful
In 2007 whilst holidaying at Lamalou les Bains Nick, myself, Michael and Philippa re-visited the vineyard. It was so nice to see nothing had changed, it was still a beautiful place set amongst the vines. Unfortunately the Baron had been unwell but was recovering although now having to take things a little easier. Of course we had to bring home some wine although not the 2001 we had originally tasted.

This year we called by again; delighted to find Marie-Claude and Paul still working. She has renovated quite a lot of the abbey, the before and after photos were amazing. The Baron is doing well but still taking life easy. We thoroughly enjoyed a 'degustation' and long chat, reminiscing over past visits and enjoying their very good wine. This year was bought home Chateau Blanc 2015, Chateau Rouge 2014 and Abbaye des Monges Augustine 2014.

Chateau La Clape Blanc is a blend of 60% Bourboulenc, 30% Roussanne, 10% Vermentino, 10% Viognier - a lovely clean crisp citrusy nose with a palate that reflects the same with the added flavour of white peaches. A lovely smooth wine, medium bodied with a lasting finish.

Chateau La Clape Rouge is also a blend; 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre - a nise of red fruits with a hint of spice. Flavour wise this wine is full of blackcurrants, raspberries with a touch of herbiness. A well balanced wine with light tannins leading to a long finish.

Abbaye des Monges Augustine 2014  is a richer, deeper wine having a little more spice; 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 20% Carignan, 10% Mourvèdre. A deeper, richer red with dark fruit, thyme and soft spices, this red has 85% developing in concrete vats and the remaining 15% in barrels. It has a long elegant finish with a touch of toastiness.

It really was a lovely visit; driving up between the vines, meeting Marie-Claude and Paul again, and of course bringing home some of our favourite wine to enjoy.

Abbaye des Monges vines 
Hubby and I have been enjoying many Paul Mas wines from Majestic Wine, we especially enjoy the Cote Mas range. The Domaine stood out amongst the fields of vines, with views of the Etang du Thau, a stunning location.

Domaine Mas' distinctive heron
Best grapes for miles
 Jean-Claude Mas's great grandfather bought the first vineyard in 1892, it's been a family business since. Although we know some of the Domaines labels we were very surprised to see such a large range varying in blends and of course price.

Claude Val is not a name we knew, I must admit I was drawn to the artwork on the bottles. We purchased a red and white, both Sud de France wines. These wines are a blend of several traditional varieties of this area, they offer great flavour at a great price. I'm looking forward to opening these. 

Claude Val 
Paul Mas 1892 is a blend of Carignan, Grenache Noir, Mourvedre and Cabernet organic wine made in honour or Jean-Claude's grandfather. It a full bodied, full flavoured red packed with ripe fruit, bringing instant memories of Southern France.   

Since 2005 Arrogant Frog has been the mascot of the domaines. 'The Humble Winemaker' with his sense of humor has taken these wines all over the world. Although Arrogant Frog is available in the UK it was unthinkable to not bring some home. Arogant FrogTutti Frutti is however a blend we have not seen, and a Chardonney-Viognier is a blend I'm keen to try.

Arrogant Frog
As mentioned before Cote Mas is a range we are familiar with, however not Frisante, and especially not a Picpoul de Pinet Frisante. This will be very interesting to open, the citrusy highlights of Picpoul de Pinet in a sparkling wine; perfect maybe with fish and chips...... we'll see.

Sparkling Picpoul de Pinet
We had a great time in the Languedoc as you can see from this and my previous post - after a few nights in Nimes we traveled north to Visan - a village we stayed in last year that nestles in the Cote du Rhone region ...... just a little more wine tasting !!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Wines of the Languedoc

This year we decided to visit quite a few domaines and caveaux, obviously accepting any degustations offered and undoubtedly buying a 'few' wines. It was such a task ..... not the degustation but deciding which wines to leave behind !!

During our stay in the Languedoc area of Southern France we visited five vineyards. As yet we have not actually opened any of our purchases so my descriptions and notes are a combination of the labels, producers web pages and my memory of our tastings. 

Our first visit, in fact before we checked into our hotel, was Domaine les Yeuses. Situated just outside Meze this domaine was one we had planned to visit as we enjoy their Syrah Les Espices which is available at Majestic Wine.

Syrah Les Espices is made in two parts; 60% is machine picked, 20 days maceration with the skins removed almost immediately; 40% is hand picked, 15 days fermentation and 9 months in oak barrels. 

 A lovely rounded wine with soft tannin, long finish and a delicate hint of spice. At 13.5% it is great with a barbecued beef steak, a Mexican spicy dish or after dinner with blue cheese. 

Merlot Les Grains Noir is picked later than the Syrah, around 15th September. Again it is produced separately; 75% in large vats, 25% in barrels both for 12 months, after this the wine is put together and spends another 3 months in barrels. 

It's a deep fruited wine with a smooth long finish that would accompany any red meat dish, a good one for a traditional Sunday lamb roast. 

I'm not sure if I am a white or red wine drinker, to be honest I enjoy both, it depends on the environment and occasion. As we are drawing into autumn and winter the reds will be dominant but then as spring arrives bringing sun and warmth its a white for me. 

Being in the South of France in degrees hitting 30 it was easy to imagine those summer garden days and so to cover all situations I 'had' to investigate white wine as well as helping Hubby with the reds. 

Domaine Les Yeuses had a very nice Vermentino, not a grape we see here in the UK but as our wine market grows and we look for new wines it may begin to appear on the supermarket shelves.  

Vermentino is picked in the third week of September and after fermentation rest 6 months in large vats. It's light acidity and citrus nose was quite inviting, it was a very refreshing wine with a mouth of grapefruit without being over powering. 

This would be perfect well chilled on a summers day with light nibbles; olives, cheese or salami. 

Travelling around at every turn of the road there is another sign for individual producers, however Hubby and I decided to visit a couple of Co-operatives. Being grape picking season there were plenty of tractors taking a wagon of grapes to the co-operative site to be weighed. One such co-operative caught our eye as we could see the chutes spurting out the grape skins - quite a sight. 

Ormarine is a name we know as we have enjoyed their Picpoul de Pinet from Sainsbury's so we were very pleased to discover their caveau. 

It can be quite daunting when entering the caveaux as there are so many bottles on display but in Ormarine one bottle caught our eye as soon as we stepped inside. 

Cartagene is in a tall thin very distinctive bottle, it's golden colour just shone out. This is in fact a vin de liqueur made by mixing grape spirit with grape juice so no actual fermentation occurs. 

It is similar to Pineau, a liqueur from the Vendee which was a favourite of my Dad's. 

Villemarin Blanc and Villemarin Rouge are wines that reflect the area in which they are grown, the white near the Etang du Thau famous for it's oyster and mussel beds, and the red inland where the terroir begins to rise and fall giving opportunity for the vines to be planted in various directions to absorb the most of the Mediterranean sun.  

Villemarin Blanc is a Grenache Blanc and Terret Bourret blend which is delicate, fine and well balanced with citrus highlights, a perfect match for seafood. 

Villemarin Rouge is a blend of Syrah, Carignan and Grenache Noir. It is well matched with red meats with its deep red fruit and freshness. 

Veyrac is a name we've seen and heard about but have not tired. The village of Villeveyrac is where Ormarine Co-operative is situated so it made sense to try and buy a bottle. 

A Grenache Noir and Syrah blend this wine is deep garnet in colour with the expected fruitiness/spice of this classic blend. There is a hint of chocolate on it's long finish, slightly touched by tannins. 

Haut de Senaux Viognier with its pale yellow colour was full of apricots. Viognier is becoming a popular white wine, this was smooth and rounded with a lovely elegant finish. 

This wine, served chilled, would be a perfect match with fish, chicken, light dishes.

Our final purchase from Ormarine making an easy to transport box of six was a sweeter wine, but not a dessert wine. 

Douceur du Sud is a muscat wine but unusually very very clear and looked very inviting in its blue bottle. 

A nose of light citrus which carried on in its flavour along with light apricots made this a perfect wine for pre-diner drinks. Not overly sweet, not cloying but crisp and refreshing without being acidic. 

Driving through the village of Pomerols we came across another co-operative, Beauvignac. We'd seen this brand on a few of the local restaurant wine lists so decided to investigate. 

Picpoul de Pinet is named from this area and the small hamlet of  Pinet which lies a few kilometres from Pomerols. In recent years this wine has become very popular in the UK especially with mussels. 

As we hadn't yet purchased any Picpoul de Pinet we decided this would be our first choice from Beauvignac. A lovely pale wine with hues of green in it's recognisable long tall bottle.

Picpoul always has the nose of the sea; salt, lemons - it just shouts seafood and with a fresh palate of citrus and minerals it is the perfect match. 

Our two white purchases from the vast array in the caveau were blends; Viognier and Savignon. The Voigner was in a shorter wider bottle whereas the Savignon in a more widely used wine bottle shape.

The Viognier was full of white fruit, peaches, apricots with a delicate mouth and rich finish, whereas the Sauvignon had a crisp citrus flavour with a clean long finish. Sauvignon is my favourite grape and this wine was my favourite in this tasting.

The red wine we purchased had the name 'Vin d'une Nuit' which literally means wine of one night. It's a single grape; Syrah, full of dark fruits, bramble, and spice with a long, slightly tannic finish.

Finally from Beauvignac another blue bottle, Cotes de Thau Moelleux Blanc. A light wine with a touch of sweetness made from Picpoul Blanc and Colomard.

Such a striking wine in it's pale blue bottle, its clearness making the bottle appear see-through.

This was a light delicate wine with many subtle hints of flavour; lemon, tropical fruit, sweetness. This will be resting on our rack until next summer when we'll be enjoying it outside with cheese and olives.

Over time as we enjoy our purchases from the Languedoc I'll add more tasting notes to my blog, on Twitter (@Aimetu) and on Cuvée Reserve (my wine forum). It's hard to know which to enjoy first, dinner choices may be the catalyst in our selection.

We did also visit two other domaines - both quite important to us in differing ways. I'll be adding those to my blog in the next few days - cheers

Monday, 28 August 2017

Travelling South

Thursday saw us set off on our long awaited and much needed holiday to the South of France. Slightly different car loading as unfortunately my wheelchair is with us too.

As always Brittany Ferries were superb, making sure we were on a wide isle and near the lift when we boarded Mont St Michel. It was our first time on this particular ship, a little different to the Normandie as the bunk beds in our cabin were hidden in the ceiling !!

Cocktails on board Mont St Michel
After a smooth crossing, a good night's rest in the Ibis at Ouistreham along with an equally good breakfast we set off south.

As I've mentioned in previous posts we don't zoom down the motorways in one blast but use both autoroutes and Nationale roads seeing more if France as we go. Our meander included a lovely picnic on the banks of the River Cher in the Loire Valley.

Picnic in the Loire 
Our overnight stop was at Montluçon, we used this stop last year and being so impressed with the restaurant we stayed again. Not the restaurant at the Ibis hotel but at the service station next door - I wish they were all like this! We're staying here again on our way home.
Starters and wine - four courses including wine and coffee
14.20 euro
Saturday was mainly motorway and I'm pleased to say we headed in the right direction: not because of route confusion, but conjestion. It was the end of the french holidays and everyone was travelling north, such queues!

This part of our journey took us over the stunning Millau Viaduct and past the magnificent rocks in the Tarn.
Millau Viaduct
Taken from the car as we approached - stunning

Amazing rock formations
Being as we arrived a little early for our hotel we did the only natural thing to do .... visit a vinyard! Domaine les Yeuses Syrah Les Espices is a wine we enjoy from Majestic, the domaine is just a few miles from our hotel so we called by, part took in a degustation and of course purchased a few for home.

Love this artwork

Avenue of olives leading to the domaine

Very popular brand here - in all
the restauarants
Our hotel is lovely, set back from the road with just 5 bedroom it is a typical french house. A fabulous staircase which I am proud to say I am managing although slowly, great terrace for breakfast and most importantly a superb room.

Our beautiful room

Les Palmiers
We have five days here in which to enjoy the 30+ temperatures, the strange glowing thing in the sky, the fresh oysters and mussels grown here and the local wine which includes my favourite, Picpoul de Pinet. Holidaying is quite a challenge but so far we're doing it with style!

Etang de Thau

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Celebration bubbly and a plan

It was celebration time in our house yesterday as thanks to my chiropractor I can now walk around the house unaided and as I am confident on the stairs (I've been practicing all week) our bed moved back upstairs!

I have been determined to master stairs as our french hotels on our very soon holiday both have rooms upstairs but no lifts - I am so so pleased to be back in our bedroom, especially as we had given it a full makeover just waiting on the carpet when I fell. It was great to be in our new room.

To celebrate Hubby and I enjoyed a bottle of Most - a special bottle - 2008.

It was special bottle because our wine friends on the Stratford Wine Weekend had a sweepstake as it was the Grand National, and I won (from my hospital bed). They all enjoyed a bottle of Most 2008 at the Fine Wine Tasting at Majestic Wine - we enjoyed ours last night.

For many reasons - age, health, medication - I am watching my food and drink intake, no fancy diet just trying to help my body mend. Whilst in France we looked for some 250ml carafes as that way it's easier to know how much wine we've had. I do have a German wine jug but we would like two matching. It will be something to look for when we go again in a couple of weeks.

Anyway we came up with the idea of using the new mini bottles - there are certainly more on the market at the moment. Our favourite French wine producer Cellier des Dauphins have Les Dauphins minis available in Waitrose.

We managed to find actual Cellier des Dauphins minis in France and I did enjoy a bottle Friday night, it was quite nice to keep topping up my glass knowing overall I wasn't drinking too much. It seemed to last a while too.

All washed and delabeled I think it makes a classy carafe - just need to drink another bottle now so we have the two - hard life isn't it!

I found it quite a surprise when I saw this chart from drinkaware - although I think 21 units for men and 14 units for women needs to be more personal as I know many chaps who are shorter than me as I am not a little lady. That said it soon adds up especially if you enjoy weighty wine!

Monday, 24 July 2017

New bubbly, new beer and new wine

Over the last few weeks we've had a few new tastings - all very successful and now on our 'to but again' list. 

The first was something I have been very keen to try, Hubby and I are huge fans of Cellier des Dauphins. Last year, whilst on holiday in France, we were delighted to meet Steffen and Philibert - I have a dedicated page at the top of my blog about our private tasting. 

Les Dauphins (the UK brand) have recently launched a bottle of bubbly - Les Dauphins Blanc de Blanc  available from Waitrose. We don't have a store nearby by passed one a few weeks ago so popped in to buy this new release. 

We enjoyed our bottle whilst sitting on our deck in the summer sun, keeping it cool in our ice bucket after it had been chilled for about an hour.

It had an expected light colour, pale gold with a hint of glisten and plenty of bubbles dancing in the glass. 

It's nose was light fruit, white peaches in a soft subtle way accompanied by a light floral high note. 

Although a dry bubbly it was very smooth, easy drinking and quite refreshing in the heat. I did miss the biscuity tone of champagne but as a sparkling wine it was lovely. 

It did seem a little pricey at £12.99 but I noticed it's now on offer at £9.74 which makes it a very good bottle of bubbles for under £10. 

We're off to France again soon, staying again at Visan which is close to Cellier des Dauphins - we'll be calling in at Cave de Prieure their local cave, I have already seen some lovely glasses and an apron, never mind what wines we'll find there. 


New beer - very new beer to me as it was from Ikea - yes really. I always look round their food shop when we visit, this time I also discovered Licorice Chocolate - yummy - but definietly and aquired taste. 

Looking round we noticed two new beers, a lager beer and a dark lager

At £1.75 they are slightly more than other beers but worth trying. The lager beer was a golden lager, good flavour nicely balanced and very refreshing. The dark lager was my favourite (no surprise there) with it's richness and hint of chocolate/coffee. 

I would buy these again if I was in store, especially the dark one - very enjoyable whilst watching the British  F1 from Silverstone. 


And finally new wine - both from Laithwaites in a mixed case we bought via their Sunday Times Wine Club. 

Vina Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc 2016  - Chile - £8.99

 I quite like the Chilean SB wine that is becoming more available lately, although it quite tropical for a SB. 

Beautiful pale colour with hints of green, it's nose is light gooseberry (in fact there's a slight similarity to Sancerre on the nose) 

Surprisingly it has a little bit of fizz under all the citrus and green flavour - a really nice wine that's not quite what you'd expect from a Sauvignon Blanc. 

Campanula Pinot Grigio 2016 - Hungary - £8.49

It was a very clean wine, in colour, nose and taste, very clear in the glass with a golden hue. 

Its nose for me was not much more other than a clean crispness.Ta ste wise it's full of lemony zest but not acidic and a very clean crisp finish. 

Although very light and clean with nothing dominating I really enjoyed this wine, well chilled on its own - very satisfying. 

I noticed Campanula also do a sparkling Pinot Grigio - one to try next maybe.

It is always good to discover and try new things - that's one thing I like about wine tasting events, vineyard, brewery and distillery tours, and sharing findings with friends. That's the great thing about my wine forum Cuvée Reserve, we all share our latest discoveries and enjoyed wines. 

This coming weekend we've been invited to friends for a red wine evening - I wonder what we will discover this time, I'll let you know. 

Monday, 10 July 2017

Another successful wine tasting

It is nice to start to do normal thing again as my legs mend and I've really enjoyed doing this 'normal' thing - wine tasting ! Well wine tasting hosting actually, Hubby and I arranged another fun evening for the leaders of our Scout Group.

We've been running these events for over 3 years now, always a good evening with good wine, although tastes have changed over time and we're certainly moving up the appreciation scale - definitely at this tasting as each spittoon was empty at the end of the night - a first !

Usually Hubby and I find source wine at good prices from various outlets - these wine tasting evenings are fun events, not intended to raise funds but a chance to get together socially after all the work we do with the youngsters.

The ticket price covers the wine and food pairing and is always below £8 per person. Occasionally (as with this tasting) we manage to find a superb offer - instead of buying individual wines we bought a mixed case from Laithwaites. The offer we had made a cost of £6 each which when you see the wines we tasted is an amazing price.

Unfortunately due to my current immobility (but improving) I didn't get chance to take photos of the wine as we enjoyed each tasting so my images for this blog are labels taken from Laithwaites web pages. I did however take a photo of all the wines as I was writing up the tasting notes.

Laithwaites Classic Dozen Gift 
This was a great mixed case in being twelve different wines, it's hard to use a mixed case if the wines come as pairs. I was also impressed with the selection of countries and producers, a great variety which was interesting when thinking about the tasting order.

I decided to go with the two Sauvignon Blancs first, one from Chile and the other from New Zealand. We tasted the wines one at a time as opposed to in pairs as we have previously, there were no real comparisons in this mixed case so it seemed appropriate to enjoy each wine on its own.

Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc - Chile - 2015 - 12.5%

A light nose with citrus and melon aroma and a hint of summer garden borders.

It had a light sauvignon flavour of kiwi and pear, soft in an Old World way but with good acidity, my favourite of the two Sauvignon Blancs.

As this wine suggested a pairing of seafood we tried it with prawn cocktail snacks - a pairing liked by all.

Duck 'n' Pheasant Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand - 2016 - 12.5%

A much more powerful nose in this New World wine, lots of ripe citrus aromas, very fragrant.

It had plenty of passion fruit in the taste as well as melon and kiwi, a good crisp finish made this the favourite for the chaps, maybe preferred because it was heavier in taste than the first soft  Savignon Blanc.

We had fresh prawns to accompany this wine - they were lost a little due to the more intense wine.

Our next wine was from Three Rivers Chenin Blanc from South Africa. A 2015 vintage of 12.5%.

The light green lime hue in the colour of this wine was very noticeable signalling to it's green apple nose and herby highlights.

It's flavour had a lovely citrus tangy, right on the finish. According to the labeling it is the best vintage in over a century and was certainly a great example of a good South African Chenin Blanc.

A trip to Spain next with Baron de Barbon Rioja Blanco, a 2015 bottle of 13%

A nose full of grapefruit which was quite inviting in a clean crisp way, especially with a touch of lemon and a hint of spice.

It was a creamy wine compared to our previous three but not cloying and well balanced. I found this a very easy drinker which would accompany most light fish or chicken meals.

Angove Bin Ref 256 Chardonnay - Australia - 2015 - 13.5% our strongest white in the selection.

The nose of this chardonnay had a distinctive minerality, bringing to mind hot stones. This was accompanied by aromas of lemon, peaches and tropical fruits.

A lovely smooth flavour with a hint of its oak, a light creaminess with a zingy edge which paired perfectly with Emmental cheese - a very good chardonnay, one of the night's favourites with both the ladies and the chaps.

Our final white was Alessandro Gallici Pinot Grigio from Italy, 2015 vintage with a strength of 12%

Lovely light pear and citrus on the nose, with orchard fruits in the taste. There was a lovely fresh lemony zing to this wine and we all agreed it would be well suited in the garden on a hot summer day.

I paired this with vegetable crisps as it was recommended with roasted Mediterranean roasted vegetables - again perfect in the sun.


So after enjoying our first six wines - and the spittoon being still empty - it was time for our buffet. We now all bring a small selection of food to make a sharing table - leaving myself and Hubby to focus of the wine. 

We had a great selection of cheeses, pork pie, bread, biscuits, crisps, salami and home grown salads - whilst enjoying the buffet everyone also enjoys a top up of their favourite wine from the ones already tasted. On the tasting notes there is space to rate each wine out of 20, this helps when decided a favourite to have with the food. 

The most popular 'top up' was the Angove Chardonnay followed by the Duck 'n' Pheasant Sauvignon Blanc, although the Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc was a close third. 

It is always to get a balance when hosting these events as the ladies like the whites and the chaps like the reds. As I try to present these wines in order of palate progression the reds tend to be last, leaving the men waiting but the ladies having finished their preferred wine. Previously we have tasted in pairs, having wine from the same producers and tasting a white and a red at the same time - you can read about it here 'Wine tasting - pairing it up' 

Our first red was a French Cotes du Rhone, La Poulardiere, 2014, 13%.

One of my favouite wine regions I was looking forward to this, however I think the blue cheese and pork pie had slightly tainted by taste buds as my initial tasting surprisingly left my mouth full of tannins. A second glass later in the evening was certainly smoother.

A traditional blend of Grenache, Syrah this red was full of redcurrants, plums and black pepper both on
the nose and in the mouth.

Moving onto Italy with Collezione di Paolo Chianti - 2015 - 13%

We have tasted Sangiovese grape before but not as a Chianti, everyone loved this red with its blackberries, cherries and hint of floral violets.

The fruit in this wine was very elegant, medium bodied giving a comforting enjoyable finish, a classy bottle of Italian red.

Baron de Bardon Rioja - Spain - 2014 - 13.5% our second wine from this Spanish producer.

The nose of this rioja had the traditional blackberries, strawberries and hint of vanilla,

It's flavour was full of the said fruits with a hint of mocha and more sweet vanilla. An oaky brought out the rioja characteristics in this red.

This was paired with a chorizo Hubby and I bought back from a recent trip to France, although good the 'fort' strength was a little hot.

Acaballo Shiraz Carmenere - Chile - 2015 - 13.5% 

I was very pleased to discover Luis Felipe Edwards produce this wine, I'm a huge fan of their Chilean wine especially their Carmenere.

The bramble aroma was super, not just the fruit but the actual leaves and brambles, a real sense of hedgerow.

The wine was full of blackberries, pepper, a hint of spice and leather but with a smooth richness. It did pair well with the 'fort' chorizo which enhanced its spiciness - a lovely wine.

The Waxed Bat is one of my favourite reds from Laithwaites. A Shiraz, Cabenet Sauvignon, Malbec blend from Argentina - 2016 - 14%

The aroma of dark black fruits, licorice and hint of spice draws you into this wine, it's one of those wines that makes you happy to just sit and sniff and savour.

It is full of rich dark fruit in the mouth, with the kick of sweet licorice enhanced with the juxta kick of spice.

With a bold palate that matches it bold nose it is no wonder it is one of their best sellers. Everyone enjoyed this red, especially paired with mature cheddar cheese.

Our final red was the outstanding wine of the evening The Black Stump, Durif Shiraz - Australia - 2016 - 14%

This is my favourite wine, I love the dark fruit aromas with blackberry dominance, very simillar to the Waxed bat but a smoother nose without spice.

It has such a velvety taste, full of fruit and licorice with dark chocolate adding to it velvety smoothness. A lovely full bodied red with a long finish to enjoy - no wonder at all that it was the one most chaps requested as their top up as the evening drew to a close.


To end our evening we served chilled Pineau de Charentes, a blend of wine and cognac from France. Hubby and I brought it back fro our recent trip. It was the perfect end to a great tasting - served with homemade vanilla cake and fresh strawberries.

A great evening and I will certainly be looking at purchasing a mixed case from Laithwaites and other wine suppliers.

It made an interesting evening for Hubby and I as the wines were in majority new to us too - all in all a very successful evening enjoyed by all.