July, 2011 browsing by month


Errazuriz Carménère Estate 2009

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Vintage: 2009
Type: Carménère
Country: Chile – Aconcagua

Peppery notes with nice level of spice. Oak and tobacco. Tannins are a bit harsh, but not unexpected for a carmenere. Deep red colour, almost black with strong legs.

Francis Coppola – Niebaum-Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Collection Ivory Label 2008

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Vintage: 2008
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Country: USA – California

The wine has a deep cerise colour. Intriguingly complex fruit and spice. Unfortunately, this is tedious to drink due to a cheapish and persistent sweet/sour, ripe fruit/vinegar theme.  Not enjoyable at all.

Some Young Punks Passion Has Red Lips 2009

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Vintage: 2009
Type: Red Blend
Country: Australia

This wine from SYP is spectacular.  Full of ripe berries, oak and vanilla with some big legs and a long finish. Highly Recommend.

Sherry Masterclass with Gonzalez Byass

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Last week at my local Waitrose Food Hall (Oxford Circus), there was a free Sherry Masterclass in the bar area. Little did I know that winemaker, Senor Antonio Flores would be there to tutor us in person!

Wow, Gonzalez Byass is a name to remember. Die hard Port drinkers should give this Sherry house a try. Gonzalez Byass is an IWSC Winermaker of the Year recipient (2010).  Here are six reviews of his wines … it was a journey through Jerez.

Let’s begin.


The first Sherry Antonio introduced me to was his Elegante Fino. It is made of 100% Palomino grape and is therefore bright and clear. Inspecting your glass, you see that it is light yellow with tinges of green, as if infused with olive skins. This is not a sweet wine at all but it is rather salty and yeasty. The Elegante would go fantastically with Fish & Chips because it would cut straight through the grease. On a hot summer’s day, you could drink this straight or on the rocks while eating marinated artichokes and olives.  Note that this wine has been kept for 3 years in American oak barrels.


The journey continues with Tio Pepe Fino, another 100% Palomino grape wine. I had tasted a wine within the Tio Pepe line at the Spanish restaurant, Iberica (Great Portland Street) but somehow, having Antonio explain it to me en espanol made me feel differently about it. This is an incredibly dry Sherry. Your palate is left feeling like sandpaper, which is strange because the taste is rather fruity, like apples and pears! Try drinking this when you are alone at the bar waiting for your boyfriend to arrive. It would go well with the free bowl of nuts. Note this wine has been aged 5 years in American oak barrels.


The next Sherry up is La Concha Amontillado. This is a blend of Palomino and Pedro Ximenez grapes, which is why the wine takes on the colour of amber. The wine is slightly bitter but then you get stuck into it, you detect flavours of dried fruits (raisins and sultanas, in particular) and caramel. This is quite soft on the palate. Note this wine has been aged 3 years in American oak barrels. We ate this with a bit Italian Pannetone – yum!


Oh, Antonio. Our journey is half way finished. The next wine stop was Apotoles Palo Cortado Rare Old Solera. This is on a higher level of sweetness (aged 30 years in American oaked barrels) and has double the sugar content than the previous Sherry. This Sherry is the perfect marriage of oxidation, dried fruit fragrance and oakiness. The flavours of vanilla, dates and figs come through clearly.


Dear Antonio, our time is almost finished but I will take bottles home with me and build new memories. Next stop is the 2011 IWC Gold winner, Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Rare Old Solera. This is such a delicious Sherry that I have few words for it. It offers you aromas of toasted nuts, chocolate, coffee and mocha. Substitute your Port for this wine and then eat Stilton blue cheese. This wine is aged 30 years in American oak barrels.


Oh, Antonio. How bittersweet that the masterclass ends with this fantastically sweet, molasses-like nectar, Noe Pedro Ximenez 30 year old Rare Old Solera. Now this is a man’s Sherry. Take out your Cuban cigar and relax with a glass of Noe. Try swirling the liquid around your glass. You’ll be impressed that it coats the inside so thickly that it takes two rinses to clean off! The notes of basil, raisins, figs and treacle are very obvious.


Enjoy! I hope you loved the journey as much as I did! You can buy these wines at Waitrose or through Ocado.