July, 2013 browsing by month


Special Edition: “The Apprentice: No Sour Grapes”

Monday, July 15th, 2013

I was on a very crowded, hot train home from Victoria Station this evening when my thoughts began wandering in the direction of wine. When one feels warm and dehydrated, it is not unusual to think about refreshment, right?

What was unusual was that I started to think about my favourite grape varieties and production regions and then I dared to compare them to the two Series 9 finalists of BBC One’s “The Apprentice.” Two business ladies are left standing: Leah vs Luisa.

I write technical reviews of wines on a regular basis, so why can’t I do a “technical” review of Leah and Luisa, so that I can come up with their counterpart grapes and then recommend some wines for audience members in either of the @DrLeahTotton or @TheLuluLife camps.

Please do indulge in either bottle when watching the final this coming Wednesday! For alternative wines, get in touch with me directly.

***Disclaimer: This is my idea of fun relaxation on a Monday night and I intend to be playful and respectful (please don’t take this too seriously!).

Finalist #1: Dr. Leah Totton

Technical review:

Clear, pale lemon. Clean, light nose, with aromas of stone fruit and nettles. Dry palate, high acidity, with crisp flavours and mineralic hints of flint or steel. Sturdy and well structured wine that shows rigour and precision. It gets straight to the point!

Based on these characteristics, Leah is a young Sancerre (based on the Sauvignon Blanc grape variety), with the potential for ageing well.


If you are on Team Leah, then I recommend you try the 2012 Sancerre Blanc by Brigitte and Daniel Chotard (stocked at Berry Bros for £16.50 per bottle). I don’t think you will regret consuming or investing in this Loire Valley jewel.

Finalist #2: Luisa Zissman

Technical Review:

Clear, deep ruby. Long legs due to high alcohol content (growing in long, hot summers). Clean, pronounced nose, with aromas of plums, cherries and spice. Some herbaceous hints. Flavour characteristics of dark berries. Shows complexity, luxury and maturity.

Based on these characteristics, Luisa is a young Australian Shiraz, to be consumed in the short-term because it is now at the height of its vibrancy. This is a ripe, robust wine packed with flavour.


If you are on Team Luisa, then I recommend you try the 2009 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz (also stocked at Berry Bros & Rudd, for £22.50 per bottle). Drink it very soon … to put this one away in your cellar for years would be a real shame.

NB: The 2005 vintage was a true show stopper for me at a wine exhibition I attended some years ago.


Special Technical Review for Neil:

Lord Sugar regretted firing Neil Clough in last week’s episode of The Apprentice and I am sure that all audience members’ hearts sunk at the words, “You’re Fired”; however, I think it’s worth a quick ode here to Neil for his excellent effort and performance.

Technical Review:

Clear, deep ruby colour. Dark concentration of colour comes from a thick skin. Aromas are dominated by black fruits with hints of tobacco/cigars and spice. The palate is dry, not overwhelming, and with a long finish (some might even say velvety).

Based on these characteristics, Neil is a “young” Pauillac wine from the 2009 vintage (one of the finest Bordeaux years), predominantly made of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a tiny bit of Merlot to soften the edges. Pauillac vines have the toughest, gravel soils to grow in but if pushed to the limit and placed in challenging conditions, they will produce excellent fruits. The best fruits in turn contribute to the most highly prized wines for long-term investment.


If you were on Team Neil like I was, do accept any commiserations and try drinking Berry’s Own Selection of 2009 Pauillac (chosen by the producer of the famous house of Lynch Bages). This is a well structured, lively – but not opulent! – wine priced at £19.95 per bottle that you can keep for a long length of time.

Maybe try drinking this Bordeaux wine while watching Leah and Luisa battle it out on Wednesday! If none of these wines take your fancy, feel free to ask me to come up with an alternative recommendation for you.

May the best candidate win … and please, no sour grapes.