As it was my birthday Michael made me a special cocktail - Jack Daniel's and Amaretto - oh so lovely.
On Friday Hubby and I set off for London - the start of our 13 days holiday. We were supposed to meet a friend to collect the key for our French week but the London traffic (and Sally Sat Nav's instructions) drove us crazy so we headed straight for our hotel - Ibis Earl's Court.
The hotel was bigger than we had expected but a good underground carpark and the rooms were quite spacious. We did not book breakfast as it was a little on the expensive side but on Saturday we did enjoy the 3 course buffet in the restaurant.
Friday night we walked to a pub I had found via Twitter - The Lazy Fox. The beer was very good (Hubby had a couple of pints just to make sure) and the food was amazing, especially the chips. I had a mini mac and cheese with a portion of chips - just lovely :)
|Mac & cheese with chips
|Tower of London
|Poppies around the Tower
|A sea of red
|Each poppy represents a life given
Saturday afternoon was the main event for our London stop over before travelling to France for our holiday. The London part of Tesco's Wine Fair was at Earls Court which fitted perfectly with our travel plans. We have visited their wine fairs for the last 7 or 8 years, various venues - Manchester, Birmingham, London, Bristol. It's the first time they have been at Earl's Court and it was much better than other venues - so much more room to move between the stands and chat to the wine exhibitors.
We had tickets for the afternoon session and although I had pre-printed the wine list for which wines were at which stand we soon gave up with the guide and just wandered around at will - it does get tricky trying to balance a wine glass, a pen and wine guide book never mind write details down. The guide book this year was portrait too which was a little awkward to hold and had little space to write - however, memory is a good tool and has hopefully served us well :)
|Ready to go !!
It was a little disappointing to miss a wine walk as we really wanted to do the one with Helen McGinn but we were told we could have tickets for a workshop or a walk so we chose the workshop. The only other disappointment of the day was the blind tasting stand - our workshop was 5pm (halfway through the afternoon session) we were hoping to do the blind tasting afterwards - unfortunately it had been cleared away by 5.20 :(
Two small things on an otherwise great afternoon - we had a great time sampling the McGuigan range - we already enjoy their Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon - their The Shortlist CS 2010 is just lovely.
It was also good to chat to Yellow Tails - although we missed their Bubbles. They do a Riesling that I actually enjoy as it does not have a petrol nose :) great wines all round.
It was lovely to see a Tesco Community area with photos of fellow members and their wine reviews. I was intrigued with the Chocoholic Pinotage on the Tesco stand. The wine grower himself was there and explained the name was nothing to do with chocolate and not really designed for the UK market. His wine was unusual in that he cuts the stalk and leaves the grapes to dry, so they are still on the vine but not getting any more nutrients.
Another wine growing practice which was new to me was DGS where we discovered DGS Shiraz 2010 and DGS The Second Pass Shiraz 2010. These wines are made from dried grapes but unlike the Chocoholic Pinotage they are picked first and then dried. The Second Pass is as it says - passed over the dried grape skins a second time. Both wines were lovely and smooth but I preferred the Shiraz 2010.
We also had a good chat with Mud House - a new brand of Sauvignon Blanc wine we've discovered just a few weeks ago at Majestic Wines. It's nice to find a New World wine that isn't just full of a gooseberry nose but has depth of taste with melon and kiwis.
There were quite a few bubblies to try - Lanson, Jacquart, Nicolas Feuillatte, Freixenet, Moet Chandon, Codorniu, Piper Heidsieck - as well as our favourites: Cono Sur, Concha Y Toro, Tim Adams & Jacktone Ranch.
Overall a good afternoon learning more and discovering more about our hobby ... and now we're in France enjoying even more !!