Angoris Adventure – Part 3 When they let me loose in the vineyard…..

Hello again….. WOW 3 blogs in a week!

I have left the comical parts until the end to keep you all enthralled, please stick with it as don’t want to stretch to PART 4. haha

OK I’m now on a roll and they will be regular I assure you.

ang it all starts

Well after the previous fabulous evening’s events and an early night……………. (no comment) we had to be back in the tasting room at 9:30 sharp….. OK we were on Italian time so give or take 30 mins ish.

We were told to wear warm clothing and to wear some good boots too. By the way the fog was lifting enough to see Friuli for the first time in full techno colour! We were definitely in wine country. Vines, vines and more vines.

We had already had breakfast before we left the hotel but on arrival we were greeted by great coffee……….Would you expect anything else from Italians!) and some delicious pastries too. Well we were going out on a winery tour in the cold and possibly having to do some work in the vineyards too…… so plenty of both was consumed by me.


So everyone (as predicted within 30 mins of allotted time) had arrived and it was time for a winery tour. 

Philosophy :

I mentioned in Part 2 that although Angoris is a large producer in Friuli they are far from a huge commercial bash out the wine type of business.

So what are they about then?

They are about this little chap! But its not always that easy…..

Martha Locatelli started to tell us about their Sustainable development program and that¬†economic growth by itself is JUST not enough, development is real only if it improves the quality of life in a long lasting way for the future generations.¬†For environmental sustainability it¬†means the ability to enhance the environment as a “distinctive element” of the territory, while ensuring the protection and renewal of natural resources and heritage too.

To this end it must be always be 3 ways, these are fundamental & inseparable for development of Angoris. Now for quite a large producer 100,000’s bottles per year this is no mean feat.


Now I know that’s all very easy to say…. however below is what they have achieved since 1997. Please take a minute to take this in. Some of you might think that this is me just rambling on about ECO this and ECO that, but really many wineries have to step up to the plate too, they cannot be just about how many bottles can they produce. It has to be about the future generations of vineyard owners too. Now this does not have to be that all wines need to be natural, Organic (many wineries follow the Organic principles but they are too close to their neighbouring vineyard that still sprays insecticide etc) or by bio dynamic principles. Sustainability is key to a successful vineyard.

Since 1997 they began a process for improving the energy saving in the winery and increasing the purchase of modern equipment for sustainable management of the vineyard and the cellar.
1997: it was possible to reduce the use of water for cleaning the cellar thanks to a winery water well.
2001: a careful process of reforestation started, which has had as result 35 hectares woods in the company property, composed of different species of trees.
2010: They bought special machinery to recover the product during the treatments in the vineyards, it helps us to avoid the waste;

2014: with the target to obtain agricultural products through a low environmental impact they have agreed to:
1) Integrated production: a system of agricultural production, which uses all the means of production and for the safeguard of agricultural productions from adversity, with the target to minimize the use of chemical substances and rationalize the agricultural fertilization, respecting the economic, ecological and toxicological principles.
2) S.Q.N.P.I.: National Quality Integrated Production System;
2015: Usage of last generation wine filtration system, which permits a total elimination of pollution by-products (flours, filters);
2015, 2016 and 2017: They receive the award Ecofriendly, founded by Verallia in collaboration with the guide Vinibuoni d’Italia. It is an award, assigned to the companies and to the consortium, that stand out for their dedication to the environment sustainability values;
2016: They now use modern machinery for mechanical removal of the grass and infestant plants in the vineyard, removing totally the chemical weeding;
2017: Now have obtained agroclimatic environmental compliance with regard
to membership of SQ.N.P.I. for the year 2016.


In 2013 a photovoltaic system of 1800 m² and 200 kw has been installed on the roof, this helps us to avoid the emission in the atmosphere of several hundreds tons of carbon dioxide every year.

The Winery Tour:

Well we walk into the winery and they are old school and also state of the art when it comes to machinery.

Note: Top right where you see the yellow writing in the wall mounted box. This shows how much electricity they are producing and when not using what is going into the national grid
Although now not used the old boys take pride of place in the winery

We then had a masterclass from Alessandro Dal Zovo, the winemaker at Angoris on the 1648 Brut Spumate.

disgorge 1

disgorge 2
Showing us how the sediment sits in the bottle prior to disgorging.

disgorge 3

Then we tried the 1648 with No dosage (no added sugar), it’s delicious, so fresh with huge green apple fruit and vibrant acidity. I know its not to everyone’s taste to have a wine with no dosage but I always love to try it. When you taste wine with no additional sugar added it truly shows the quality of the wine making. Often, sugar is used to mask faults that a wine may have but when tasting NO DOSAGE you can truly have only brilliant wine. What it also shows is the confidence in Alessandro’s ability as a wine maker to produce a superb product. You would not offer a NO DOSAGE product to all of your distributors at a grand event if it was not superb wine. The 1648 is normally 7mg/l of added sugar so its still pretty dry.

Off out into the vineyards:

Villa Locatelli is a total of 630 hectares¬† ‚Äď vineyards, woods and arable land
85 hectares of  vineyards in Collio, Colli Orientali and Izonzo regions of Friuli
50 % wines sold in Italy –¬†50 % wines exported to 35 Countries in 5 Continents¬† ¬† ¬†

walk 1

We then moved¬†onto the Pinot Gris vineyard behind the winery to witness the demonstration of some¬†a state-of-the-art machinery which eliminates the grass/weeds etc. on the sub-rows of the vineyards. This equipment allows Angoris to join the system of National Quality of Integrated Production, without the use of pesticides. Its’ incredible to watch this equipment at work. As the sensors touch the vines it carefully goes around them as to not damage them, but gets everything else in between!

tractor 1

tractor 2

From the 2 pictures above you can see how these old vines are developing. What is really interesting is how much stone there is in the soil. These were ancient flood plains hence so many small stones.

After the Pinot Gris vineyard we all got onto a coach and travelled through Cormons onto the small town of Rocca Bernarda. We then meandered, for a couple of miles, up a small winding road. (poor coach driver, would have been hard enough in a car!! although didn’t seem to phase him one bit)



These terraces are pretty steep but that’s not the challenging part to this land. Its only a few feet below the surface that is all rock.

This shows how over time how the water has eroded this rock (beneath the ground)

The walk from the road though the vineyard with the mountains in light fog ahead of us was truly magical. It was fresh day, it had rained through the night and into the early hours of the morning and the fog was finally clearing! What is interesting is that although it had rained quite a lot, it was not really wet under foot. It had all drained down through the soil and into the rock below. I’m hoping that the vines roots grabbed some on its way past!

Please Note: I am the only one with appropriate footwear & not wearing the not very fashionable Polythene booties………

This vineyard is in the eastern hills from the Angoris winery and we are now looking out over Friuli to the forests of Slovenia which are only about 6 miles away.

We kept walking until we reached a sign saying that we had reached the rows of Tocai Friulano vines which were planted 65 years ago.

I was then given these (see below) …… Disguised in a wine box, could have done with a glass of wine about now, when we all opened our boxes to find Secateurs & gloves. We were to have a pruning masterclass.

Note to self at this point… PAY ATTENTION TO Alessandro or I am going to destroy a 65 year old vine!¬†

Its a good job that I had a clear head and didn’t spend until the early hours in the hotel bar with some other distributors after the gala event the night before………….. PHEW!

OK I need a hair cut Mike! @pbmmw (twitter) look him up he’s a blast & also knows about wine too! #butifidothegreyshowsthrough¬† – Far to vain I know!

So Alessandro showed us on a few vines. 

3 things to concentrate on….

  1. Take away all last years branches that are not needed
  2. Decide which branches left and right that you are going to use for this years growth
  3. However, when doing 2. you have to be thinking about the next buds for the following years

So its my turn…….. Drum roll please….. getting prepared……

Safety first glasses and gloves!20180130_114846

So after our masterclass I think I pretty much knew what I was doing.

So the easy bit was getting rid of the branches growing in the wrong direction. What I mean by that is that they are growing towards you and away from you. These are no good as you want them to travel left and right on the trellis and not everywhere. OK these were eliminated…. all going to plan so far. So all the old stuff out the way I have to decide on this years left & right branch and the year afters buds too.

Well I thought I would talk through with Alessandro exactly my plan…. his response VA BENE! (it’s all good in Italian) not really surprised because I was obviously a natural he then said cut away! I am joking slightly here over an extremely, even most, important job in the vineyard… (by the way I wasn’t joking that I was a natural pruner extraordinaire!)

job done
Job Done! Only 85 Hectares to go……….OMG


After my little bit was done Alessandro said …. great job you are a natural pruner, you have the job, Obviously I was super pleased with the praise until he said only 85 Hectares to prune…. this job takes 25 people full time (subject to weather) 4 MONTHS!!! GULP! Wow that really is an extraordinary amount of work all done very carefully by hand, you cant take your eye off the ball as you may be OK this year but you were not looking for next years BUDS!

When everyone had had a go pruning (not up to my standards obviously) they said time for a snack, so back up the vineyard towards where we had left the coach… I say that because it had now disappeared.¬†

Well we were now greeted by a feast of sausages, lardo / bread and mulled wine to warm us up.

Now this is the best ever portable camping stove
I really want one of these!

So delicious and just what we needed as it was January after all….

I then noticed that the coach had come back into view… phew didn’t want to walk all the way back. In true Italian style (as we had just eaten) it’s now time to get on the coach as we are going for more tastings and lunch.

So now we arrive at a restaurant, Its owned by Angoris and almost before I got through the door a glass of wine was thrust into my hand¬†by one of the waitresses… Don’t mind if I do! Oh boy it was delicious, an Angoris Pinot Blanc and just what I needed after my endurance in the vineyard.

lunch wines

We then proceeded to try another 6 wines from Angoris and a delicious Buffet lunch. Loved the food…. OK the wines too haha.

lunch wines applause

So when we were finishing, I got to see the real Angoris, Martha showed what she and the company are really about.  

Martha called in every member of the Angoris staff one by one that had been in involved in Passagio to huge rousing applause for them all. You knew it was with heart felt joy for each and every member of staff, that had made the Passagio dal Angoris a wonderful success and that all attendees had had an amazing time.

It’s not just a company it’s a family, staff included!

I will never forget my couple of days at Angoris… Actually I can’t wait to go back.

Salute Angoris molto gentile grazie e lei,

It’s been my absolute delight and pleasure.

Angoris Adventure – Passagio ad Angoris & ALBERTINA Part 2

Hello again


In January I was extremely fortunate to be invited to Passagio di Angoris, which was to be held at Villa Locatelli just outside of Cormons in Fruili, north eastern Italy. 

So at the end of January I get myself on a plane to Venice Marco Polo airport, where I was meeting up with Jane & Chris Salt from Hay wines who import Angoris into the UK.¬† My plane landed late, in thick fog, in fact it was the first time I had been on a plane that had to be landed on autopilot as visibility was……… well actually there was no visibility. In fact the first time I knew we were close to the ground was when the wheels had touched down, to the great shock of most of the plane.¬†

Finally after both of our planes delays we met up and picked up the hire car. Setting off through the fog easterly to our hotel. So after about 90 minutes we arrive at the hotel and so far we had seen absolutely nothing of the Friuli region as we only had about 100m visibilty on the highway! So we quickly dropped off the bags and got our glad rags on for the gala event in at Villa Locatelli.


We arrived at the entrance gates to Villa Locatelli and proceeded along a stunning tree lined driveway which was beautifully lit with torches all the way down to the Villa, making this a very grand entrance indeed. We were definitely in for a very special evening. After our driver had dropped us off we were led to the tasting room for nibbles and a few delicious glasses of 1648 Sparkling wine.

ang 004


This Brut sparkling wine is made from 100% Chardonnay in the classic method. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and then cooled in the winery, they then undergo a cold soak maceration directly in the press. After pressing, the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks & left to rest on the lees 6 months. What is interesting about these tanks is they are horizontal tanks and not vertical tanks, this gives the wine more contact with the lees.

Horizontal Tanks for sparkling 1648 BRUT, allowing more wine to rest on the lees.

The wine is then bottled and it’s rested in for a further 30 months. Finally the sparkling wine is then placed in the pupitres for 3 months prior to disgorging.


The 1648 Brut (named after the founding of the vineyard) is truly delicious. Straw yellow in colour, very floral with toasty bread notes on the nose. On the palate its a joy, persistent perlage makes the wine soft, but so fresh and dry (7g/l). The finish is creamy but with a mineral tone too. Delightful!

When everyone had arrived (fog!) we then moved to the villa for a fabulous presentation about the Angoris 2017 harvest.

2014 HARVEST – Tenuta di Angoris

The winter in Friuli Venezia Giulia was mild with low rainfall. After these early weather conditions, the temperatures were then above the normal average by the end of March, which lead to an early sprouting of the vines about 15 days before the year on average.

image march vines

At the end of April, a mass of cold air reached the vineyards, lowering the temperature below zero in the night of April 21st. The shoots then slowed down their growth, due to the low temperatures of the days following the freeze. Luckily the losses were not too bad and thankfully not like many areas of Italy and France who suffered devastation of these early shoots by this frost around the 21st which has caused, in some areas, a huge reduction in the final grape crop.

grape set
By the start of June the Fruit started to set well

Summer was then marked by heat but also key to a successful vintage was they also had enough rain which then supported a normal course of ripening for the grapes. These were excellent climatic conditions for the vines to obtain a perfectly healthy grapes.

sav image ang
Sauvignon Doc Isonzo
Start of harvest: August 23rd
Pinot grigio Doc Collio
Pinot grigio Doc Collio
Start of harvest: August 28th
Schioppettino Doc Friuli Colli Orientali:
The last grapes harvested
Monday, September 25th 2017

So how will the wines vintage 2017 be from Angoris in Friuli?

For sure they are going to have top quality white wines, as some of the finest Friuli vintages, and the red wines will be smooth, scented & elegant, with lower alcohol degree.

The evening in the Villa had only just got started and we were in for a real treat of amazing foods and wines. Culminating with a launch of a new wine later in the evening.

Red Carpet Obviously for me ………actually I’m sure I was the least important person at this amazing event.

Amazing lighting in the villa had been set up and the whole room was constantly changing colours. IT WAS THE LIGHTS WE HADN’T STARTED ON THE MAIN WINES YET!!

ang 001

An absolutely delicious meal & wines followed….. The 3 wines to the left of the below picture have won 3 Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso.

ang 002


Then we were introduced to the new wine. A new Pinot Nero DOC Friuli Isonzo.


So called as a dedication to Martha Locatelli’s (who is the owner of Tenuta di Angoris)¬† paternal grandmother.

Cartolina Angoris (32)
Martha Locatelli

Martha firstly discusses with us that Pinot Noir was once made in the winery in the 1970’s and how they are now developing wines again from the past. She also tells us that her grandmother, was a decisive person who (like her grandfather Giulio) was a great part of her childhood. Martha describes this Pinot Nero “Albertina” is just like her grandmother: “Elegant, determined, enveloping and comforting” and oh boy she is not wrong!

A great wine & my hat off to the winemaker Alessandro Dal Zovo, who features a lot in part 3 and who also trusted me with secateurs too on 65 year old vines….. UNDER CAREFUL SUPERVISION & GUIDANCE¬† I hasten to add.

This Pinot Noir is very impressive indeed, although not quite ready for market it still needed a few more months developing in the bottle.

“ALBERTINA”¬† is being launched officially at Vinitaly 2018. I will fully review this wine once launched after Vinitaly.

Now those of you who know my daily postings on twitter will see that I drink very little Pinot Noir, why?? hmmmm, that’s a tough one when I ask myself this question today. I guess its because years ago I just drank so many ordinary ones that were not that great so started to avoid! I only really enjoyed great Burgundy PN and that’s ……. expensive! However I have had some amazing ones in the past 12 months from all over the world and I am now converted back to Pinot Noir. I know you are all out there saying what an idiot!!! I second the IDIOT motion if that’s any help!

Albertina is simply delicious and I know will be a big hit for the Angoris. Production of this Pinot Noir will be quite low numbers.

Until this release all the estate Pinot Noir, was used in sparkling wines on the estate since the 1970’s¬†


Now at the end of Part 2 of the Angoris blog I just want to thank Martha and the team for an amazing evening and for what the next day was about to offer too.

But before I GO………….

What is so clear from my first few hours at Angoris, was that although they are one of the larger producer’s in Friuli, their philosophy towards the land, vineyards & wines were so far from a large corporate company and very refreshing to see.

In part 3, I will be going into far more detail about Angoris and their mission to make wonderful wines, the environmental issues and how they let me loose with secateurs in the vineyard. 

Ciao until Part 3.



Angoris Adventures (part 1) Getting Vertical!

10848750_832634813457076_8782215378692580584_o1Hi all,

Firstly apologies to all as it’s been ages since my last blog!

Wine is not my business (unfortunately) but it is my great love & passion, however I own a business which I have had for 25yrs & I have been flat out busy. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad to be busy because it allows me travel, eat & drink fabulous wines too, however it does unfortunately restrict my spare blog writing time.

So once again “Sorry” but I’m now making the time, in 2018 from March, for regular Pietrovini blog timeūüĎćūüć∑ūüć∑

A couple of months ago I was asked to go to a vertical wine tasting, I was so looking forward to this one. Why? Simple really it was 2 grape varieties I know well but had never had the opportunity to explore their ageing potential.

Note: Vertical Tasting (for those of you that don’t know) = Tasting the same wine from different vintages to see how they develop and also how the weather can change the wine dramatically.

The two grapes are Friulano & Refosco both from Friuli North eastern Italy and both produced by Tenuta di Angoris.

Brief History of the Estate: (Part 3 will have more details from when I visited a few weeks ago for the Passagio di Angoris event & they even let me loose in the vineyard with some secateurs!)

In 1648 Locatelli Locatelli was given 300 fields in an area of Corm√≤ns known as ‚ÄúLangoris‚ÄĚ by then Emperor Ferdinand III for his service as a General in the 30 Years War. At this time this area of Friuli was part of the Hapsburg Empire. I have to say a very generous gift indeed!!

Original Land document 1648

ang 6The 17th Century Villa Locatelli is the home of the Tenuta di Angoris

ang 4

We started the evening with a Collio Bianco Riserva 2015 

ang 5

This was an interesting start to the evening. This wine has since won 3 Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso which is very high praise indeed.

The grape varieties are 60% Friulano, 30% Sauvignon Blanc & 10% Malvasia Istriana.

A delicious wine for sure! It’s aromatic with sage, thyme & green herbs. On the palate its dry yet rich with green apples and tropical fruits. Wonderful mineral notes too, although the Malvasia Istriana is only 10% it shines through to make this wine so rounded and an absolute delight to drink. No wonder it won 3 Bicchieri

Friulano DOC Tasting: 

The Friulano grape was once known as Tocai and you will see this on the 2005 bottle below. The Italians were made to change the name of the grape by a European court ruling taken out by the Hungarians to protect their grape Tokaji (pronouced Tock-eye).

Even though not spelt the same and there is no genetic connection between these varieties they still had to change it.

So we start with the 2016 & 2012 Friulano


The 2016 was only released a couple of months earlier from the tasting in Sept 17′ (sorry should have done this before but been on WORK catchup!) The grapes are harvested by hand planted on (Guyot system) vines which were planted in the 1950’s. The yield per vine is low but there are many vines planted per hectare.

2016 was initially wet early in the vintage but improved to low 30c’s temps but cooling off at night. Pale straw yellow in colour, with pears, melon, herbs and a touch of spice on the palate. On the finish a very light buttery feel.

2012 was a super hot vintage with yields much lower and the grapes ripened earlier. This gives the wine more fruit and less acidity. Pear fruit with a slight almond nuttiness. Creamy mineral finish. Quite different from 2016 but equally delicious.


2011 next. This was a cool and rainy vintage initially but saved by a warmer spell before harvest which produced a good crop here. The 11′ is more herby and slightly more acidic. I liked this wine a lot as it was so fresh with slightly lower alcohol too.

2005 was our final vintage to taste. This proves with no doubt that Friulano can definitely age well. This was a cool vintage.


Much darker yellow in colour now with its ageing, the fruit still shines, a new richness has evolved, and the finish is long and rounded.

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso DOC Tasting:

There are at least 9 different Refosco grapes but dal Peduncolo is by far the best…. This is what Angoris tell me and its delicious!

This wine is made with the cold maceration process with malolactic fermentation.

This wine is super dark garnet in colour almost black. Blackberry, cherry & tobacco on the nose. This wine is crisp, dry, noticeably acidic and quite strong tannin’s. I love it.


2015 is the 1st vintage to try. 2015 is definitely going to be a good vintage for wines from Italy. It was a pretty hot vintage so the reds are super ripe fruit which shines through. When tasting this wine you get black fruits then pepper & spice, although fairly strong on tannins it still has bold fresh fruit. There is a mineral note running through the finish due to the limestone clay that the vines are planted in.

2014 this differs because of the weather. A cold and rainy vintage. However this has made the wine more herbaceous, spicey and noticeably more acidic. Having said that very enjoyable.


2009…..¬† Wow ok this is why you do vertical tastings, this wine is a totally different animal, has more spice than a 1990’s girl band (SPICE GIRLS YOU MUPPETS)

It was a hot vintage and this shows with massive fruit, spice on the palate, although now its ageing nicely with the tannins more balanced with acidity.


2006. This was a hot vintage in Italy and has provided some great wines from across all areas of the country. Ripe cherry flavours much less spicey and the tannins are still going like a steam train. I just needed some fatty lamb chops and i would have been in heaven!

Finally 2003


Well this is a great wine! Its balance is incredible, fruit abounds, so rounded and tannins a soft delight! I actually didn’t write many notes on this except loads of expletives of how delicious this wine is!

Congratulations Angoris for top quality wine making!!

Part 2 (out within days! I PROMISE!) Is about my Angoris adventures in Friuli.

tatsing at Hay wines
Huge Thank you to Frantiska from Angoris for giving us so much information!

I would like to give a huge thank you to HAY WINES for the invite to this incredible tasting evening & to Frantiska from Angoris bringing these wonderful wines. Their details below:

Hay Wines is a family owned & independent wine merchants based in the medieval market town of Ledbury, Herefordshire. United Kingdom. With over 1,200 wines, whiskies, spirits, liqueurs, beers, ciders and perries, supplying wholesale solutions to restaurants, pubs, hotels, wine bars & also to you and me via the shop or online.

Hay wines have an extensive range of organic, biodynamic, natural, vegan, low sulfite wines. The Italian wines directly imported under the watchful eye of Michele Longari their in-house Italian Sommelier.

Tenuta di Angoris

Loc. Angoris, 7
34071 Cormons (GO)

Tel.: 0039 0481 60923   Fax: 0039 0481 60925


The Independent’s

This actually needs a sub heading too:

Independent Wine Merchants Vs The Supermarkets & ONLINE sales what’s the difference?

Now this is purely my own opinion and not sponsored or paid for in any way shape or form. Its about me and my experiences.

In fact I was just in the middle of writing something completely different, but then today is a bank holiday in the UK and the sun is shining, so after getting home about 3:30pm the sun is beaming, (its 26c WOW!) decided to sit in the garden with a bottle of vino and do some writing.

I woke early this morning and spent 2 hours rearranging my wines racks, Barolo, Super Tuscans, Brunello, Bordeaux …. even USA and of course my normal everyday wines. I am telling you this as I put a couple of bottles in the fridge (extra bottles I hasten to add as I usually like at least a dozen whites, a token ros√© (actually this summer drank some great Ros√© and have started a new Bros√© Bromance!) oh of course some Fizz too)

So this morning I put this bottle in the fridge


This wine is South African, Vondeling 2015 “Babiana” a little “off piste” for me. It is made up of 60% Chenin Blanc, 18% Grenache Blanc, 16% Viognier & 6% Chardonnay and I would never have bought this in a million years unless…… Under advice from one of my independent wine merchants who said this is an absolute must for you! Do you know what… OF COURSE they were right – why because they know their product! I mean they REALLY KNOW their products. This is an absolute delight!

Simple tasting notes…. Its blooming marvelous wine, pears, peaches, honey notes, tropical fruit…. then its spicey notes, a slight hit of white hit pepper mid palate. Although oaked it is wonderfully integrated then a super dry finish. ¬£13.50, ‚ā¨14.85 or $17.50. You could easily have spent 2 or 3 times this price and not had such a well made and delicious wine.

My point is simple….ADVICE ADVICE ADVICE

All you have to do is ask! Don’t walk in to an independent wine merchant and when they ask you if you need any help…… respond with… I’m a wino I know wine I’m ok thanks! I used to do this all the time…… I knew what I wanted, well I thought I did.¬† Because we never will know all of the worlds wine delights. Trust me I’m 45 years old an I have tasted very few of the worlds wines. By very few I mean 1000’s! and that’s my point… The wine world is enormous…. these guys know their hidden gems.

Don’t feel intimidated, know your budget, stick to it! The world is full of fabulous wines and these guys have them at the price you want to spend.





WHAT DO YOU HAVE (AT THIS PRICE RANGE… BE SPECIFIC ) SOMETHING THAT IS REALLY FABULOUS. Oh and by the way I generally like wines like this….. and tell them.

Now I’m not asking you to spend fortunes either, just checked out some of my local wine merchants and on average they have more than 80 bottles each under ¬£10, ‚ā¨11 or $13 and start from ¬£6, ‚ā¨6.60 or $7.75!

Now I know you can go to supermarkets and buy great wines too. I did at the weekend, especially when they hold promotions like 25% off any 6 wines! I know they have lots of promotions all the time to entice you in. However you will not find a gem like the Vondeling or indeed a super Gamay Noir 2015 “Jean” I bought this week for ¬£9.99! ‚ā¨10.99 or $12.85 from another independent.

This is a super drinking summer red from Jeon Loron. You can drink slightly chilled (or not.. I didn’t) Its French, Its from Beaujolais! Yes BEAUJOLIAS but not like the Nouveaux we have all tasted its a fresh & bright its blackberry, blueberry delight yet with mineral undertones. Again wouldn’t have given this a glance ………unless I had been asked taste this…. What do you think? Easy SELL! WRAP IT! Tasting different wines is always your best way of expanding your wine knowledge. Although having said this you will not be able to taste everything these guys are selling. We cannot expect them to have every bottle open that they sell.


So I also love the big guys in the market place, that also can offer some great value too. But generally I use these guys for the special bottles. There are plenty and google, wherever you are in the world will be your friend. I believe there are 700 independent wine merchants in the UK alone. Whenever I visit a new town or city I always check out the indies!!

Now I could have spouted off loads of names here about who is who and who is supplying what wines… but actually it’s not my point. My point is to expand your wine¬† horizons, drink something within your budget you have never heard of. Even from a country that you didn’t even know made wine..

The key to this is that you don’t think that the wine merchant is too stuffy,

  1. You are the customer
  2. You know the kind of wines you like
  3. Definitely know your budget. Seriously stick to it.
  4. Overall you need to say you LOVE GREAT WINE!! I’m not Joking… really I’m not. These independent wine merchants are also very passionate about wine. They LOVE GREAT WINE TOO. Would you believe it they actually want to share it!

Would be great to hear what world wide experiences that you have with the local independent wine merchants,

If you love wine, dedicate some time, visit these guys and expand your world of wine

Salute AMICI!!!!!


Villa Sandi – Valdobbiadene

Hello again!

A couple of months ago I was contacted by Dacotah Renneau of Comunque Media & Public Relations via twitter introducing me to Villa Sandi and invited me to come and see them at the London Wine Fair and also at the Decanter sparkling wine event. Now I have written recently about the Decanter Sparkling event in a couple of blogs but felt that Villa Sandi needed its own blog.

Below is the Palladium style mansion of the Villa Sandi which dates back to 1622, which is now the company offices…. definitely better than most peoples workplace for sure.

The building is adorned with the beautiful statues of the Venetian (late Baroque) Sculptor Orazio Marinali (1643‚Äď1720). When I googled Orazio, for some background, not only did he live to the ripe old age of 77 pretty sure quite rare in the 1600’s but he has some amazing works all across the Veneto region.

Devoted to wine culture for many generations, the Moretti Polegato family, owner of the Villa, have fostered this ancient tradition by making Villa Sandi the headquarters of the winery.

This is the beautiful Villa Sandi

At the London Wine Fair I finally met up with Dacotah (who has a great big bubbly  personality and enormous passion for wine) who then introduced me to Silvana Graziotini, the export sales manager for Europe for Villa Sandi who is very knowledgeable and passionate about Villa Sandi. I was actually under the misconception that they were just a sparkling wine producer……. WRONG!!!!! ………actually my wife says I’m wrong all the bloody time so its no great surprise. Apparently men think we know more than we do! Jury is out on that one…….. I digress.

The wines Villa Santi make:

  • 4 Premium still wines with Merlot, Cabernet, Raboso &  Incrocio Manzoni grape varieties. The last 2 grape varieties were new to me**
  • 4 Further still wines: Rose with Pinot Blanc/Pinot Nero; Sauvignon; Chardonnay & a Merlot too
  • 5 Semi-Sparkling (FRIZZANTE) wines. 3 Prosecco’s with Glera grapes, 1 Chardonnay & a Rosato with Pinot Bianco/Pinot Nero
  • 5 Grappa
  • 8 Prosecco with Glera 100%
  • 7 non Prosecco Traditional method sparkling wines called Opere. 6 white with Chardonnay /Pinot Nero & a Rosato with Pinot Nero

N.B. ** Well I had to go to look up these last 2 grape varieties. Rabosco is an old Veneto Variety and more interesting is Incrocio Manzoni “2.15” for its correct name which is a cross between Prosecco & Cabernet Sauvignon. Funny story about this as Luigi Manzoni obtained this grape by crossing Prosecco & Sauvignon Blanc…. however he took pollen from Cabernet Sauvignon instead and ended up with a red grape and not a white one! You may have noticed that I just said “Prosecco” grape variety. Before you tell me its GLERA you buffoon! actually the grape is called Prosecco and misleadingly has been renamed Glera for commercially protective reasons. Now who the hell knew that! Thank you to Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding & Jos√© Vouillamoz and their EPIC encyclopedic book of Wine Grapes.

So I tried many of these wonderful wines and was overall very impressed. Especially the Prosecco’s. Dacotah said she would send me some samples to review, which arrived a few weeks ago. This gave me an idea. I have some friends that are quite snobby about prosecco and would always go for Champagne in bars and restaurants if they wanted some Fizz. TIME FOR A MASTER CLASS.

So I came up with a cunning plan, this was invite 6 friends round for a Fizz tasting evening. Wasn’t hard to sort as when my friends hear me  say I am doing a home wine tasting, they know they are usually in for some great food and more importantly great wines. My wife made up some fabulous platters of charcuterie, cheese, fish, Mediterranean vegetables, all stuff that could be grazed upon to accompany the evening.

So as they started to arrive, they all came in Taxis…. no surprise there as it was wine at Pete’s house I started to make up some Spritz’s (Aperol, Campari or Select) . Now I had reasoning behind this as I wanted to use a cheap supermarket bog standard Prosecco in them.

So all had arrived, chit chat done, we finally sat in the dining room, table full of food and quite a lot of empty glasses waiting for their fills of the evening, also which my friends were not used to were sheets of paper and a pens.

  • Name
  • Colour
  • Nose/Smell
  • Palate/Taste
  • Finish
  • Marks out of 5

“So everyone its only 6 simple questions, put as much or as little as you like. Its not a test and should be interesting for everyone”. 

I decided to start with the extreme budget supermarket prosecco left over from the arrival Spritz’s…… should have seen their faces… an absolute picture. This is your bench mark we haven’t started… this is what you think of Prosecco…. Its time for an education in the goodies that Valdobbiadene has to offer.

Just in case you did not know: Prosecco has 3 main types – DRY (the sweetest! between 17-32g/l), EXTRA DRY (middle of the road 12-17g/l) and Brut (less than 12g/l) which will always be the driest unless they are actually Zero Dosage 

Wine 1.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Cuvee Oris DOCG NV







Villa Sandi – Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Cuv√©e Oris

  • Res Sugar : 22g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Production Method : Charmat

Very pale yellow in colour with persistent perlage, on the nose its quite restrained, with hints of apple, citrus and melon. On the palate its soft with a slight sweetness to it with fleshy apples, pears & floral notes leading to a lingering soft finish. This wine was enjoyed by all and everyone started to get very surprised by prosecco.

For everyone this was a fabulous aperitif or to be enjoyed with canapés.

How many Prosecco are there in this fizz test & are they really that different? I was asked, “another 3” I replied to blank stares….. Trust me they are all completely different!

Wine 2.

ASOLO Prosecco Superiore DOCG BRUT 2016
Villa Sandi – Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG BRUT

  • Res Sugar : 12g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11%
  • Production Method : Charmat
  • 2016 Vintage

Firstly if you are travelling in the Valdobbiadene region to try prosecco you must visit Asolo. I went there last year and its a beautiful town. Great shopping for the ladies, a few very good enoteca for all. I bought a few interesting bottles of wine there.

This looks the same everyone said, which it does with its very pale yellow colour. But when everyone smelled the wine the response was … oh this is quite different! Now I had everyone’s attention that Prosecco is far from a one trick Pony.

So on the nose this wine is much more fruity then the Oris, on the palate its noticeably more dry (actually half g/l in sugar). Again there are fresh apples but more crisp green apples, grapefruit type citrus and an overall fresher drier experience. The finish is much shorter, clean and dry.

Wine 3.

Prosecco Superiore MILLESIMATO 2016
Villa Sandi –  Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Millesimato” 2016

  • Res Sugar : 11g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11%
  • Production Method : Charmat
  • 2016 Vintage

This wine is pale almost silvery zinc like in colour, bubbles galore here! On the nose its rock hard green apples, melon and wild flowers. On the Palate its softer, super fresh fruit with more tropical notes with a super creamy dry finish, although this feels slightly sweeter than the Asolo even though the residual sugar is the same. again everyone thought this wine was lovely. Now everyone was looking forward to the next 2 wines, even though they had no idea what they were!

Wine 4.

Vigna La Rivetta Prosecco Superiore Cartizze 2016
Villa Sandi –  Vigna La Rivetta Prosecco Superiore Cartizze 2016

  • Res Sugar : 11g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Production Method : Charmat
  • 2016 Vintage

Cartizze is the top of the Prosecco tree!

A note here from Villa Sandi about this vineyard: Production area: Cartizze is a small hilly area with 106 hectares of vineyard lying between the districts of Santo Stefano and S. Pietro di Barbozza in the municipality of Valdobbiadene. Within such area lies ‘La Rivetta’ vineyard owned by Villa Sandi. A true cru that is the result of a perfect combination between a gentle microclimate and a very old land with calcareous sandstones and clays.

As soon as I brought this bottle to the table, my friends thought this was going to be different. Its a great heavy bottle of a very different shape to all the others in the range. Talking of bottles everyone thought that the standard bottles looked amazing as they have a picture of the Villa cast into the glass. This is truly the flagship Prosecco from Villa Sandi.

In the glass the Cartizze is very pale almost platinum in colour with slight yellow hues, it has tiny fine perlage that’s extremely vigorous too. On the nose it really shines through with an abundance tropical citrus, soft golden apples and wild flowers. On the palate this is where everyone could not agree as its complex and so many flavours burst into the mouth. As the wine hits the tongue it foams up as the perlage is so soft and fine. Palate notes from all are, Apples, Pears, Pineapples, Melon (cantaloupe! Thanks John for specifics), white peaches and honey. Even with all these flavours bursting through this is so fresh and dry. The finish is a silky smooth delight leaving you with lots of complex flavours and frankly for everyone at the table WANTING MORE!

Wine 5.

Villa Sandi – Opere, Serenissima DOC NV
Villa Sandi –  Opere, Serenissima DOC NV

  • Res Sugar : 10g/l
  • Grape : 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol : 12%
  • Production Method : Traditional 
  • Non Vintage

Notes from Villa Sandi:

The new appellation Serenissima DOC is for Traditional Method Sparkling Wines produced in the area called “Pedemontana”, that covers specific hilly parts throughout the Veneto region. It was created in 2011 and the very first bottle to be produced and released is Opere Serenissima by Villa Sandi officially presented at Vinitaly 2015. The name chosen for the new wine-appellation is a tribute to the glorious past of Venice in the centuries between 16th and 18th, when Venice was an important commercial and cultural center, a lively city also known as “Serenissima”.

This vineyard is located on the Villa Sandi estate in Crocetta del Montello near Treviso.

This wine is obviously nothing like the prosecco’s tasted above as its made with Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. One of the first things noticed by my evenings guests was the wow factor of this clear bottle. As the glorious golden wine shines through the clear glass, the black, white and gold labelling with black foils making quite a statement.

So on to the wine itself!

In the glass the wine is pale straw with a silvery hue in colour. On the nose this wine is aromatic fruits with a toasty note bustling through. On the palate the fruit is citrus with apples, but then immediately when the bubbles break in your mouth turns to vanilla, almonds and toasted brioche. It almost has a toffee like character too but not sweet in any way. The finish is clean and fresh, yet its full of flavour and stays with you for a long time. This wine has spent 24 months on the lees and an absolute delight to drink now but I am sure will even improve further with some bottle age.

By the end of the tasting, everyone said they were blown away by the diversity of what they thought was just “Prosecco” and how different they can be. Also they all said they will always make sure they trade up Prosecco in the future.

Also what was interesting was I then said ok now instead of a taste you get a full glass now of any of what we have tried….. 4! different wines were chosen which is a testament to the quality of all these wines and the diversity that they offer.


Big thank you for bottle samples to Flavio Geretto from Villa Sandi & Dacotah Renneau @Comunque10 (twitter) of Comunque Media & Public Relations. And of course to the Villa Sandi wine makers for making these great wines too!

Info and contacts

Villa Sandi Via Erizzo 113/A 31035 Crocetta del Montello – TV – Italy PHONE. +39 0423 665033 FAX +39 0423 665009

DISTANCES: TREVISO 23km /30 min PADOVA 60 km/1h VENEZIA 60 km/ 50 min ASOLO 14 km/20 min CASTELFRANCO VENETO 23 km/ 30 min CONEGLIANO 30 km/40 min CORTINA D’AMPEZZO 140 km/2h VERONA 120 km/1h 40 min


Sophie B.

Hi All

A couple of weeks ago, Vinotopia, who are based in idyllic country town of Tetbury in the Cotswolds, had their Grand Summer Tasting.

They are based about 50 minutes from home, the tasting started at 6:30 for only 2 hours, so it was a case of leaving the office early, rushing home for a shower, change of clothes and then blasting down the motorway. (obviously at the national speed limit of 70mph!!)

It was a beautiful evening when we arrived to a fabulous venue. Its an old railway Goods shed that was built in 1889 & was used until 1964 when the branch line was closed. It pretty much lay unused for decades.


By 1996 British rail was trying to dispose of the site and this dilapidated building, with uncertainty still surrounding the rail lands, HRH Prince Charles took an interest in their future (as he lives down the road at Highgrove House). He invited British Rail, Tetbury Town Council, Cotswold District Council and the Feoffees to meet to try to find a mutually agreeable solution. The parties met the Prince at the old station yard, then gathered at the nearby Royal Oak pub, where BR agreed to sell the rail lands to the Feoffees – a charitable Tetbury organisation dating back to the 17th century.

The now stunning redevelopment of the Goods shed Arts Centre

So I arrive about 5 minutes before the start of the tasting & had a quick chat with Jeremy and Andy from Vinotopia, they assured me that there were some extremely interesting wines there this evening. Not only wine but also some great local food companies too, with artisan breads, cheeses & wonderful savoury pastries too.

Glad to arrive early within 30 minutes it was packed out

So in my hand, was this evenings bible with 51 wines & 6 gins. I quickly scan through and then spend 5 minutes hopping from table to table seeing what is a must do tasting before I start. After going to lots of these kinds of tastings I now understand that you can get held up and miss something you really wanted to taste, so I now always spend a quick 5 minutes to make sure this does not happen. Looking across the tables I see quite a lot of wines I have either purchased or sampled before so this increases exploring time although there were some wines I needed to revisit. I decided to go around the room whites first then reds.

So it was Rob from WHEN IN ROME “wine boxes” on Table 1,¬† whom I have communicated on twitter quite a bit but never met. Now before you say OMG wine boxes… these are all from craft winemakers, not designed to be aged in a cellar but are very good quality and extremely quaffable wines. If you lived in Italy these are the wines you would take your containers down to the local producers to get refilled. They come in 2 size boxes 2.25L which is 3 bottles and 5L which is equivalent to more than 6 regular bottles.

  • Cortese DOC Piemonte- Produced by Franco Roero whos family have made wine since 1894.
  • 100% Cortese Grape¬† COR-TAY-ZAY I like they put this on the box so people know how to say the grape variety
  • This wine is steely crisp, with citrus and rock hard green apples! Everyone should have one of these in their fridge. It lasts 6 weeks once started. Well obviously not in my fridge….. but maybe in someone’s fridge that is almost tee total.


  • Refosco – IGT Venezia Giulia – Produced by The Martincigh Family. In between the Alps and the Adriatic. Wine has been produced on all their 20 hectares since roman times.
  • 100%¬†Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso REH-FOSS-KOH
  • its full bodied plum, sour cherries and raspberry blast, with a dry nutty almond finish
  • Refosco has been produced in North East Italy for over 2000 years and was the favourite tipple of Emperor Augustus‚Äô wife Livia, whose long life (she died at 86, when life expectancy was 30) has been attributed by historians to her drinking habit. Could just see myself in the Colosseum quaffing a great big jug full of Refosco while some poor sod is getting eating by a Lion below!

Table 2 is a mix of Greece, France, Italy & Spain. A brief review of 2 wines… so so different!

  • Assyrtiko Voila- Crete. 2016 Fermented in Steel tanks.
  • 100% Assyrtiko
  • Platinum in colour, Stone fruit with some spice on the palate, which leads to a crisp, mineral yet rich mouth feel. This wine is a real star! Amazing Value.



  • Saint-Aubin- Henri Prudhon “LE BAN” France 2014
  • The domaine was established by Henri Prudhon who was born and raised as a vigneron in the village of Saint Aubin since his birth in 1921. He and his wife, Marguerite, combined forces upon their marriage in 1945, putting their small vineyard holdings together to form the Domaine Henri Prudhon. Monsieur Prudhon was a force in his village, serving for many years as the Mayor of this lovely hamlet set just to the west of Puligny and Chassagne along Route Nationale 6. Their son, Gerard, born in 1949, joined the family enterprise and it was Gerard who decided, in the early years of the 1980s, to begin bottling the wines of the estate rather than selling off the fruits of their labors to the local negociants. Gerard, too, maintains the family‚Äôs interest in the affairs of the village, being elected multiple times Mayor of Saint Aubin. Gerard‚Äôs two sons, Vincent and Philippe, have now taken over the direction of the domaine, working under the watchful eye of Gerard who has instilled in his children the deep respect for the finest of Burgundian traditions. (History from Vinotopia website)



IMG_1983 (2)

  • 100% Chardonnay
  • I have this wine at home and its super value, as its neighbours are Puligny vineyards. It is full on ripe fruit on the nose, with nutty and toasty tones too. On the palate there is a zippy freshness of the fruit then rounded creamy texture but beautifully balanced by fresh acidity.

  • Tondonia Reserva Rioja 2004 – Spain¬†Bodegas R. L√≥pez de Heredia
  • Tempranillo (75%), Garnacho (15%), Graciano and Mazuelo (10%),
  • This is proper old school Rioja! 13 years old and its vibrant red with a slight amber hue on the edges. Berries and worn leather on the nose. Then on the palate dried berries, vanilla, spice… its rich…its soft…. its heavenly! This really is not like lots of Rioja which feels like you are chewing an oak tree, this is dry, rich, soft, rounded with firm tannins but elegantly structured. This wine will go on for at least another decade.

IMG_1476 (2)

Table 3 is from South America. I have had most of these wines at tastings recently and I would definitely recommend the ESTIVAL 2015 & Bodegones del Sur Vineyard Select Tannat both from Uruguay. But the star of the table was

  • Alcyone Tannat Dessert Wine Uruguay, Rio Plata
  • 100% Tannat
  • This wine hits the palate and whooossh its chocolate, vanilla, ripe cherries with spicey undertone. This is the ideal suitor for any dark Chocolate Pudding or indeed with a bar of dark chocolate! Its like a vintage port but richer, softer and less alcoholic.



Table 4 – Italy, Now I have most of these wines on more than 1 occasion. I have to sing the praises also for Gavi di Gavi DOCG Morgassi 2015, Fiano IGT Villa Schinosa 2015 from Puglia

  • Settibraccia Sampietrana 2013
  • 100% Negroamano
  • Biodynamic /Organic
  • Settibraccia = The Five Branches
  • work Deep red almost inky black in colour. The nose is like spicey cherry jam. Its a full on wine yet rich, soft and balanced, fine tannins, with a long finish.


  • Colle dei Tigli Lenotti 2016
  • Ancient hill (in italian: colle) covered with lime trees (in italian: tigli). This hill is 300 meters high on the eastern shores of Lake Garda
  • Bianca del Veneto
  • 50% Cortese, 50% Garganega
  • These grapes work beautifully in harmony together to make an outstanding value wine. Although dry, this wine gives out lashings of sweet peaches and apples. Its full bodied and super fruity.

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Table 5 – Mainly France, most of these wines I have had before but this one stood out on storks!

  • Le Fruit D√©fendu Blanc
  • 40% Muscat Petits Grains, 60% Grenache blanc
  • Oh boy this was a surprise, on the nose the Muscat shines through with tropical fruit, yet the Grenache Blanc blends in perfect harmony to give a bright rounded freshness on the palate. What is beautiful about this wine is the minerality of it. A sheer delight. Imagine sucking a pebble from the beach…….. Extradinary value too.


Table 6 – these were from all over the world, but I had had my eye on one wine I wanted to try the most…..

  • Iona Chardonnay Elgin South Africa
  • 100% Chardonnay
  • I had been looking forward to trying this. This high elevation, cooler climate wine is of Burgundian style, tropical fruits with lemon & limes abound from the glass. On the palate its mango, pineapple and citrus fruit, toasty brioche, biscuit and all so silky smooth. But overall its elegant and a pure enjoyment.

Oh yes the surprise of the day………….. SOPHIE B!!

Who is Sophie B………….

Sophie te’Blanche is a nickname given by those including their workers, who can’t pronounce Sauvignon Blanc¬†on the Iona Elgin estate

The truth is I was thinking this is just another southern hemisphere SB? until I stuck my nose in the glass and took a good sniff ………. HANG ON! “wasn’t expecting this at all” Where is the overpowering Gooseberry blast. It was herby with light tropical fruit but yet much more citrus. Its elegant, complex but finely balanced fruit with mineral and then green apples, yet its creamy smooth too. It has so much going on and has a long finish to match this super palate. IMG_1475 (2).JPG

This was my wine of the evening folks and great value too!

Overall a great evening, and YES Jeremy and Andy there were some very interesting wines indeed!

Websites of producers & event organisers –


When in Rome Wine Boxes –¬†

Assyritiko –¬†

Henri Prudhon-

Tondonia Reserva Rioja-

Alcyone Tannat Uruguay

Settibraccia Sampietrana 2013 –¬†

Colle dei Tigli Lenotti 2016 –

Le Fruit D√©fendu Blanc –¬†

Iona Elgin Chardonnay –¬†

Sophie te’ Blanche –¬†


My Visit to Hambledon, Englands Oldest Vineyard


The Hambledon Wines


A few weeks ago I was contacted, through twitter, by Bryony Wright from Proven Communications who runs the PR for Hambledon Vineyards (ENGLAND) to attend a unique event for food and wine writers/bloggers at Hambledon vineyard.

Of course I jumped at the chance!

Hambledon Vineyard is the oldest commercial vineyard in England, based on the South  Downs in Hampshire.

Brief History: (from Hambledons Website)

During the summer of 1951 Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones was looking out of the dining room window of Mill Down House with his stepson John thinking about what to do with the field directly below them. As Sir Guy was a keen wine lover and Francophile, having spent time as a diplomat in Paris, John suggested he might consider planting a vineyard?

The seed had been sown and Sir Guy began researching the feasibility of planting vines on the south-facing chalky slopes surrounding the house in Hambledon on the South Downs. After careful deliberation, and with the help and advice from friends at the renowned Champagne House Pol Roger, he planted a number of different grape varieties in 1952 and went on to release the first commercial range of English wines.

I have attached an old British Pathe television clip below showing the Hambledon harvest of 1961 at the end of this blog. How TV has changed!

Winemaker Bill Carcary joined the Hambledon team in 1966 and the wines soon drew a strong following, winning a number of awards and even a Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in 1984. The wines were served on the QE2, in British Embassies around the world, in the Houses of Parliament and in export markets around the world including the USA and Japan. On one occasion during a visit to Paris, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2nd served Hambledon wine to President Pompadour during a reception at the British embassy in Paris.

In the mid 1990’s following a change of ownership the winemaking was reduced to only 4 acres and the grapes were sold to other wineries.

hambledon hostory image.png

Now starts the really exciting part… The vineyard was bought in 1999 by a passionate winelover Ian Kellett. Ian realised the future potential of vineyard and began studying oenology at Plumpton College in Sussex with a view to restoring Hambledon to its former glory, but with one big difference. Sparkling wines and not still wines

Which now brings me on to my day June 27th at Hambledon. We were the first to arrive (thanks Bryony for driving) and we were welcomed by the team with coffee and Danish pastries…always a great start.

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Stunning Countryside = Amazing Vineyard


Everyone arrived and we sat in the tasting room, walls adorned with awards since their English sparkling wine revolution started only a few short years ago. Their first award was when 4 English Sparkling wines and 8 Champagnes were tasted blindly for Nobel Rot magazine by some of the worlds great tasters of wine and of course you guessed it Hambledon Classic Cuvee was No1.!  They now  have many awards and ALL rightly deserved.

The presentation & tasting was from Ian and also Joe Wadsack – –¬†¬† they make a really great tag team for presentations! Joe has an amazing personality and its a pure joy to have Joe as your lead taster, he has the most extraordinary¬†tasting palate! Joe you are a LEGEND

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Ian started the presentation showing us the topography of the vineyard and also that of Champagne. Hambledon is on the same chalk, with the same Belemnite content, that is found in the best Chardonnay areas of the C√ītes des Blancs in Champagne and is thought to be a key factor in the quality of the wines. So a huge tick in the box¬†for TERROIR!

In 2005 the first 10 Acre “test bed of¬†vines”¬†was initially planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from 27 combinations of rootstock and clones. Today they use 12 combinations across more than 50 acres, currently producing 120,000 bottles per year.

Ian and his team have big plans, currently looking to expand to another 100-150 Acres of vines. They have installed the UK’s first fully gravity fed winery which in basic terms means minimal intervention of the grapes through the whole winemaking process. Coquard PAI grape presses ensure the best care possible of the fruit. These guys are very serious about making seriously fabulous wines and have invested hugely (More than ¬£10m to date)¬†into their future. Their aim is 1million bottle production per year from their own vines, it wont be long! Another very big tick in the box.

But its not all about the best equipment, and grapes. You also have to be good at wine making! So their head winemaker is Hervé Jestin who was chef des caves at Champagne Duval Leroy for over 20 years. Hervé was originally recommended to Ian by Hubert de Billy, a director of Pol Roger, and is widely considered to be one of the best winemakers in the Champagne region. In 2015 Felix Gabillet joined the team and is full time winemaker on site. Felix manages the winery on a day-to-day basis under Hervé’s watchful eye. Hervé continues to attend in person to direct all the crucial stages such as pressing, fermentation, bottling and most importantly the final assemblage. Seems like another huge tick in the box there too!

So brief recap.

  • Best chalk Terroir for growing Champagne varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In fact all of there Vineyard is the best Chalk (unlike Champagne)
  • State of the art Gravity Fed Winery & Top end presses
  • A-Team of sparkling winemakers!
  • =

Look out world! The English sparkling wine revolution has started.

We then had the most amazing tasting which bizarrely started with Prosecco, Cava &¬†LP Champagne. Actually this was with done with good reason to understand different sparkling wines in the market place but more crucially they are rarely¬†tasted together, its a really great thing to taste side by side and I recommend that you try it. Then came the Hambledon Classic Cuvee which just blew all the others out of the equation instantly….BOOM BOOM BOOM! I almost have to pinch myself that I am writing about English Sparkling Wine that is on another level! Large Applause please!

We then followed the 3 wines below (in review) by a brilliant lesson on sugar “Dosage” in sparkling wines. Starting with 0mg/l Sugar then, 4¬†, 6, and 10mg/l. Now the extradinary thing about this is we are literally talking about a few more grains of sugar per bottle but the difference is unbelievable. What is soon very obvious is that 0mg/l sugar suffers no fools because there is nothing that can be done with the sugar to make the wine better! So it has to be¬†incredible from the start and believe me it really was. 0mg for me is so good, what is interesting is that most winemakers like it the best as its a pure expression of their ability to make stunning wines, however for general Sparkling wine drinkers it is of course so different.


classic cuvee hambledon

Released in May 2014 the Hambledon Classic Cuvée is an assemblage from the 2014 harvest blended with reserve wines from 2010.

Blend: Chardonnay (40%), Pinot Meunier (31%) and Pinot Noir (29%)

This is a beautifully crafted wine, light golden yellow in the glass, fine vibrant bubbles blast super fresh flavours of apples,¬†green plums with a toasty brioche note too. Long creamy finish that seemed to go on and on …… 1ST Class winemaking!


hambledon rose.jpg
Released in November 2016

Blend: The blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%)

This wine is a pure joy. Its English summer in a glass… OK NOT THE RAINY DAYS! This Rose is quite a bright pink, yet when it settles in the glass looks divine. The taste is rich and creamy filling your mouth with wild strawberry and zesty notes. Clean crisp finish… A real delight!


premiere cuvee

Blend: The blend of Chardonnay (58%), Pinot Meunier (18%) & Pinot Noir (24%)

Sometimes you just know that you have something really special in your glass when you put the glass to your nose and BOOM! Wow this is extradinary and its ENGLISH!!! The nose is rich brioche, sweet oranges, dried flowers with nutty notes too. When you taste its rich & racy! with capital “R’s” but so so soft!¬†instant mouth watering acidity with citrus & dried fruit, then the caramel and vanilla notes shine through. Its dry and delicious and frankly I have tasted lots of vintage Champagne that nowhere near hits the mark of this Flagship wine from Hambledon. Ladies and Gentleman of Hambledon Vineyard I salute you for this¬†GREAT winemaking.

People of the world before you die please get/try/drink a bottle (minimum 1) of Hambledon Premiere Cuvee.

What’s more folks is that I also tasted a new Rose Premiere¬†Cuvee….. lets save that for another day as its Currently not released. I Hope it is soon.

After the tasting we had a Braai, which is a South African BBQ which was amazingly cooked by Steve. Best BBQ (sorry Braai Steve) EVER!


Steve – You are the master at the grill!


After the amazing¬†lunch & a few more stunning glasses of Hambledon I had¬†the state of the art¬†winery tour and then it was time to do it myself… to disgorge my own bottle add dosage, cork & label.


Felix – Winemaker Great to see young people with this Passion!


Felix chose my bottle then asked what dosage I would like…. Instant answer “0” then cork, crown and labels

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Finally my result of 0mg/l Hambledon Classic Cuvee! I wrote on the bottle 0mg it says it all OMG! Zero Dosage.

What is great about my experience is that you can do it too. Hambledon have the following tastings as well as the ultimate experience.

Thank you Ian and the team for a very memorable day.

Tours and Wine Experiences

Scheduled tours for the public take place every weekend during the summer until the end of September and cost £15 per head. They last two hours (unless your tour host is Ian or Phil, in which case it’s usually longer!!) РThis is a minimum must do!

There are three ‚Äėwine experiences‚Äô also on offer – see

Every Wednesday afternoon they are offering a Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé experience, including a tour, tasting and cream tea for £60 per couple from 1.30pm.

The Classic Cuv√©e Experience is a full educational ‚Äėhow wine is made‚Äô experience, including tour, tasting and charcuterie board lunch (showcasing local produce. This must be booked in advance.

 The Première Cuvée Experience is the all singing, all dancing option, similar to my experience last week, hosted by Joe and Ian at a cost of £200 per head, including disgorging your own bottle to take home.


Hambledon is hosting its first ever Hambledon Wine Fair on 6th August, which is likely to become an annual event. For this they’ve joined forces with other local wine merchants to showcase wines from around the world Рand Joe and Katrina will be running Masterclasses during the day. It’s a day out for the whole family with lots of food stalls (Oyster Bar, Steve’s Braai!, Boozy Cupcakes, pork pies etc) as well as a jazz band. Tickets are £10. See

 There re a host of other events Рfrom Christmas activities, to Masterclasses and themed wine tastings with Katrina Рall of which can be found here

Hambledon is also available to hire as a wedding venue for a limited number of times during the year, and they offer corporate venue hire and can usually accommodate all sorts of unusual event requests!

This is a absolute watch video from 1961 Hambledon… Oh Boy TV has changed!

Before I go what a great bunch of people on the tasting too.


@TheWinebird – Helen Nicklin

@vinesack – Joe Wadsack

@winewomansong – Juel Mahoney

@jessicalmead – Jess Mead (Hambledon)

@eatlikeagirl – Niamh Shields

@darrennsmith – Darren Smith

@drinksmaven – Jessica

@SmallwoodC – Christine Smallwood

@katehawkings – Kate Hawkings

@pbmmw – Mike Turner PleaseBringMeMyWine. Actually he wasn’t there but I have since¬†found out he put me forward for the event as he couldn’t make it! Mike you are a superstar! His blog is very good too! Legend thanks mate


Decanter Sparkling Wine Exploration (Part 2) ūüáģūüáĻItaly¬†


Well I hope you enjoyed my first installment from This Decanter Tasting.

Today it’s Italian Sparkling wines.

Sales of Italian sparkling wines… OK mainly Prosecco which is exploding (not literally) all over the world. With approx. 300m bottles sold in 2016 the forecast is more than 33% growth by 2020 to well over 400 Million bottles per year!¬†Although Prosecco is the main driver behind this growth in Italian sparkling wines there are many fabulous¬†sparkling wines from all over Italy to explore!

A lot of this volume is supermarket cheap plonk, pumped full of CO2 to make it super fast, however, some of the supermarkets are stocking higher quality DOC & DOCG wines & not just trying to be the cheapest fizz out there. So Prosecco is far from all the same. Its always worth using an independent wine merchant who will usually have some great prosecco.

So now on to Prosecco & Trento DOC


Nino Franco Spumati

At Nino Franco they now have a state of the art winery which is located in the heart of Prosecco country “Valdobbiadene”. This winery dates back to 1919 with Antonio, Nino one of his sons grew and expanded the business but it is now Primo, Nino’s son, who went to the highly reputed Oenological school in Conegliano who has transformed the winery to what it is today. One major factor was to instantly reduce yields and introducing controlled fermentation which results in fresh, flowery & fruity prosecco. Primo’s whole philosophy is about constant improvement of the wines. Below are reviews of 3 of their 5 wines they had on tasting. I had to limit myself on time! (read PART 1 to explain why) Just before I go on Silvia Franco was a delight to chat too, not only knowledgeable but so passionate about their ethos and wines.

They also have an amazing villa where you can stay,  in one of only 6 rooms in Valdobbiadene


Nino Franco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG NV.

  • Res Sugar : 10g/l
  • Grape : 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11%
  • Production Method : Charmat

Tasting notes: Firstly the colour – Straw colour but bright with it. This entry level (if they have such a thing) is an absolute delight, perfect for an aperitif as it exudes apples & fleshy white peaches. It has a lovely creamy finish too.

Nino Franco¬†“Nodi” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG 2015

  • Res Sugar : 6g/l
  • Grape: 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 11.5%
  • Production Method : Charmat

Tasting notes: Straight away this is a very different prosecco with pears and gooseberry notes. Very fine bubbles and a burst of citrus on the end of the palate. This is a much more savoury wine. I would love this wine with some Calamari!

and finally …


Nino Franco¬†“Grave di Stecca” Brut 2012

  • Res Sugar : 7g/l
  • Grape: 100% Glera
  • Alcohol : 12%
  • Production Method : Charmat

This wine is exclusively from an ancient vineyard, named ‚ÄúGrave di Stecca‚ÄĚ, a clos on the slopes of Prealpi, and is absolutely stunning. This vineyard has a particular micro-climate with a different type of gravel soil creating a very different terroir.

Tasting Notes: My notes read WOW! then another WOW! But seriously its pale straw in colour, with tiny fine soft bubbles. It has a silkiness to it from the first taste, with caramel & brioche notes complementing the fruit . Although at only 7mg/l this wine feels dry it is so expressive and finally on the end of the palate the minerality from the gravel vineyard comes through. 1st class wine making!

Before I move on there were also some other stunning Prosecco makers there which I will be reviewing separately soon.

Trento DOC

Giulio Ferrari (image from Ferrari Website)

Brief History of the region below, taken from worth checking out more on this sight for full insight into the region.

Wine has been made in Trentino for a long time with evidence dating back 3000 B.C.

In 1902, Giulio Ferrari who was an enologist at the San Michele all’Adige Agrarian Institute took a study trip to France. He realised there was a great similarity between the Champagne and Trentino regions. So when he arrived home set out to make Trentino sparkling wine. Now the origin of Trentodoc sparkling wine from the mountains.

In 1984 the Trento DOC Institute is founded on the request of the producers, then in 1993
The Trentino region receives D.O.C. certification (one of the first after Champagne). In 2016, 45 sparkling wine producers become members of the Istituto Trento Doc.

The Trento DOC area is quite large and the wines have very different characteristics. This is because the region spreads from the mild shores of lake Garda to the very cold dolomites, in fact up to 800m above sea level.

I am digressing for a paragraph here…. about the Dolomites! 15 years ago while staying on Lake Garda on my honeymoon I decided to take a trip &¬† went up to the top of the dolomites in August very hot…. in shorts!!!! BIG Mistake at over 10,000 feet there was 2 feet of snow and bits nearly fell off ! Phew… ¬† (my wife stayed down on terra firma as she thought the look of the near vertical cable cars were daft)

The Metodo Classico sparkling wines are made from the Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier & also Pinot Blanc.

Hoping not to bore the hell out of the people that know all about how to make sparkling wine here is a brief piece on how they get the bubbles in! Still wine is obtained from the harvest of the four varieties, then its bottled, sugars and yeast are then added to allow fermentation. Then with in-bottle ageing and the action of the yeast then this leads to a second fermentation.  This is known as refermentation and is the process through which carbon dioxide is naturally developed, producing the classic perlage (bubbles!) that are visible in your glass. So this second fermentation occurs while the bottle matures in the wine cellar.

The maturation period of a Trentodoc are: (all are minimum)

  • 15 months for a Brut
  • 24 months for a Millesimato
  • 36 months for a Riserva.

The finest producers are extending the time on the lees way beyond the minimum for regulation to make stunning wines.

So onto the first Trento DOC producer.



Cavit (Italian acronym of Cantina Viticoltori del Trentino) is a cooperative group uniting 10 Cellars of Trentino with overall 4,500 associated grape growers.

Cavit’s history starts in 1950, when some vine-growers, aware of the uniqueness of their land and eager to valorise their products, entered into partnership, establishing a Consortium of associated grape growers, a first draft of Cavit. In 1957, the technical function was joined by the commercial function: the Consortium acquired a cellar for the increasing needs of its associates. In 1964, the premises of Ravina di Trento were built,  expanded in 1977 until the 80,000 m2 of today. Although Cavit are huge coop producers they produce some very good wine indeed.

Altemasi Trento DOC Millesimato 2012

  • Res Sugar : 6.5g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 3 vineyards from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 59 (minimum for Millesimato is 24 mths)

Tasting Notes: In the glass this wine has super fine perlage (bubbles). Its Darker yellow than I expected with some definite green tinges too. On the palate peaches and then citrus. Even with the peaches this wine feels and tastes dry. A perfect Aperitif!

Altemasi Riserva Graal Trento DOC 2009

  • Res Sugar : 5g/l
  • Grape: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 3 vineyards from there highest¬† 500-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 86 (minimum for Millesimato is 36 mths)

Tasting Notes: This Riserva is a wholly different wine from the Millesimato. Much more yellow with golden rim. Again very fine bubbles but it seems lots more! Its more complex from the off, with green apples and citrus but with a beautiful toastyness that shines through. I would drink this to accompany almost any meal.  It truly is beautiful winemaking.

Altemasi Pas Dosé Trento DOC 2009

  • Res Sugar : 1.5g/l
  • Grape: 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.6%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 2 from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 89

Tasting Notes: A bright straw yellow in the glass. This wine really shows how well they make wine as the sugar cannot be used to improve any faults as its pretty much zero dosage. Again this wine shows the peach and citrus but with a huge difference, its mineral quality and feels savory in the mouth. I’m a huge fan of zero dosage and I loved this Pas Dos√©. All I needed was some seafood antipasti and would have stayed on the stand all day!

Altemasi Rosé Trento DOC NV

  • Res Sugar : 8.5g/l
  • Grape: 35% Chardonnay, 65% Pinot Nero
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Vineyard: 2 Vineyards from 450-600m ALT
  • Months on Lees: 59¬†

Tasting Notes: For me this is a great aperitif. People always seem to love being handed a glass of pink fizz on arrival at parties and events. This wine is coppery pink in colour with fine bubbles in vigorous stream. Red berries with a touch of cherries giving this wine a rich bright flavour.

Just a quick note, Thanks again to Andrea Nicolini (Cavit Export Director EMEA & Asia) for his expertise on the TRENTO DOC region and knowledge about these wonderful wines too.




Notes from Ferrari Website

With its mountain viticulture, Trentino is an area that is extraordinarily suited to the production of sparkling wines of great elegance and complexity: the alternation of warm days and cool nights gives added quality to the grapes, giving them a rainbow of different flavours and fragrances. It is thanks to the intuition of Giulio Ferrari that this area represents today the largest vineyard zone planted with Chardonnay in Italy. The soul of Ferrari’s wines stems from the generosity of nature and the tenacity of man; it originates from grapes hand-picked in the Lunelli family’s vineyards and from the labours of the 500 families of vine growers in Trentino who supply their grapes.

We do more than guaranteeing that all Ferrari vineyards have an organic certification: we put the natural fertility of the soil at the centre of our work by reintroducing ancient agronomic practices, such as the use of green manure. The broad notion of environmental protection advocated by Ferrari Winery has granted the company the prestigious ‚ÄúBiodiversity Friend‚ÄĚ certificate, issued by the Worldwide Biodiversity Association.

Unfortunately as previously discussed time was not on my side for this tasting so I had already picked out 2 wines to try.



FERRARI Perlé Trento 2010

  • Res Sugar : 5.9g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Months on Lees: 60

Tasting Notes: Perlé is straw yellow in the glass. On the palate this wine is elegant, tiny bubbles explode apples, peaches then toasty almonds. Has a beautiful long finish and is a joy to drink. Would accompany most foods easily because of the rich structure.


FERRARI Giulio Riserva del Fondatore 2005 (from Magnum)

  • Res Sugar : 4.2g/l
  • Grape: 100% Chardonnay
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Production Method : Metodo Classico
  • Months on Lees: 120
  • First Production 1972 (great year I was born 72′!) Only made in the finest years

Tasting Notes: In the glass Giulio is bright yellow turning deeper golden on the edge, the perlage (bubbles!) are vigorous and super fine. On the nose you can smell the richness from the aged Chardonnay with citrus, honey notes. This wine has been on the lees for 10 years and has developed beautifully. On the palate its lusciously rich and velvet silky smooth. Its complex, creamy, slightly nutty, also has a spicey touch and you can taste the minerals of the mountain terroir.

Giulio really is the King/Queen of Italian sparkling winemaking.

Web links to check out:

Nina Franco –¬†

Cavit –¬†

Trento DOC –¬†

Ferrari –¬†

Decanter –¬†





Decanter Sparkling Wine Exploration (Part 1)

Hi all,

A few weeks ago I was asked to the Decanter Sparkling Wine Exploration event on the 8th June, in London.

Well obviously I signed up in a heartbeat! Then the Government decided we had to vote again  – GUESS WHAT DAY!

So the 8th started with me at the polling station at 7am, doing my civic duty, as I had a 2.5hr train journey to London to the Decanter event starting at 1:30. Vote cast then a taxi to the station for the important life changing part of the day = the SPARKLING WINE tasting!.

On the train I am on my phone trying to decide a) who to see b) what to try. Simple

Simple it was not, when you realise there were 56 exhibitors from 14 countries and about 300 wines and 3 hours! OK no need to panic…… its easy = time for short list.

Obviously, for me, began with Italian producers…. Here started my problem.

  • 6 x Franciacorta producers
  • 15 x Prosecco producers
  • 2 x Trentino producers
  • 2 x Lambrusco producers
  • 7 x Durello Producers
  • 2 x Piedmont Producers

Ok that leaves me already about minus 3 hours.


Note to self: The short list needs to be a lot shorter as I still have to look through the rest of the exhibitors from the following countries

  • Argentina – Mendoza
  • Australia – Tasmania
  • Canada – Nova Scotia
  • Chile – Curico Valley
  • Croatia – PleŇ°ivica
  • England – Dorset & Kent
  • France – Burgundy, Champagne, Cr√©mant d’Alsace & Languedoc
  • Luxembourg – Cr√®mant de Luxembourg Moselle
  • New Zealand – Marlborough
  • South Africa
  • Spain – Cava, Conca del Riu Anoia, Pened√®s & Rias Baixas
  • & last but not least USA – Napa & Sonoma

Well now I had a very….. very…… LONG short list! Not quite Mission Accomplished!

Arriving at the venue, it was a beautiful location and the tasting room stunning! Church House, behind Westminster Abbey, in the heart of Westminster, is opposite the houses of parliament, Ironic really as we were all voting today for a government…. of sorts!!!

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On entering I saw a great friend of mine Michele Longari who is an Italian sommelier employed by HAYWINES an independent wine merchant I frequent. Big Italian hugs later he didn’t get me to try his wines as I know them all so well, (representing Spagnol Col Del Sas. Stunning Prosecco & is one of two producers I always have at home – Bastia is the other) but suggested I try the Croatian wines on the next table. —-              OK OK Itinerary already out the window!


We were just checking where the crazy hair awards were being given out!!! I may need a hair cut….. Michele has just had his done!

Tomac Winery – PleŇ°ivica – CROATIA (I had shortlisted this) Honestly!

  • Tomac, Diplomat, PleŇ°ivica 2014
  • 90% Chardonnay, 10% Zuti Plavec
  • 4g/l Res/Sugar  Alcohol:12.5%  Months on Lees: 36
  • Nose: its pure crusty bread and brioche, palate bursts freshness apples/pears, yet the wine is rich/full with nice balanced acidity. V good
  • Approx. 4000 bottle production

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  • Tomac Winery – Amfora Brut Nature PleŇ°ivica 2010
  • 50% Chardonnay, then remainder is Neuberger, Crveni Veltlinac, Zeleni Silvnac, Kraljevina, Zuti Plavec (to name but a few I am told)
  • 0g/l Res/Sugar Alcohol:12.5% Months of lees: 50
  • Initially the first thing I thought was that this was an orange sparkling wine from Friuli or Slovenia!
  • This is the worlds 1st Sparkling Amphora wine. They use Georgian Amphora’s for 6 months move to oak for 18mths. Then to bottle
  • Its an interesting orangey colour, hits you on the palate with apricots, nutty & orange hues. Quite fine bubbles, dry finish but good acidity.

Benjamin Bridge – Gaspereau Valley Nova Scotia CANADA

Bizarrely I have been to Nova Scotia a couple of times, but only the airport, flying from the UK via NS to relatives on Prince Edward Island! Benjamin Bridge is a classy producer and all the wines tasted are made to a very high standard. What is interesting is that all the wines have a slight Saline touch which I like a lot, not surprising when you look at the terroir of Nova Scotia. Jean-Benoit was an absolute pleasure to chat to.

Benjamin Bridge, BRUT 2011

  • 100% Chardonnay
  • 13g/l Res/sugar 11% Alcohol Months on lees 48
  • Pale in Colour, Fresh Citrus, Apples, definitely mineral on the palate

Benjamin Bridge, BRUT RESERVE 2005

  • 58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay
  • 7g/l Res/Sugar 12.%5 Alcohol Months on Lees 72
  • Deep yellow in Colour, Honeyed apples on the nose. Limes & Apples. This wine is rich yet beautifully balanced with acidity.

Benjamin Bridge, BLANC de BLANCS 2004

  • 100% Chardonnay
  • 4g/l Res/sugar Alcohol 12% Months on Lees 108
  • Fine bubbles in this light golden delight! Bright but rich citrus fruit, long mineral finish Stunning wineūüćĺ
  • Unfortunately only 200 bottles exist! ok maybe 199 now.

Well here are the first few wines, in part 2 it’s on to Italy, Prosecco, Trento & Franciacorta

Will be out soon (ish) 

Enjoy your wine my friends SALUTEūüć∑

Continue reading “Decanter Sparkling Wine Exploration (Part 1)”

English Sparkling Rose

Hi All

My blog today is a complete change of plan on what I was about to publish today. All will become clear below…..

As lots of you that know me through twitter, I am partial to say the least, to Italian wines. Although this is no where near exclusive (bought 18btls yesterday & only 2 Italian!) it is my main “go to” country for wines. This is basically because I try and spend as much time in Italy¬†as I can, its great diversity of wines¬†and also because my mother in laws family live on the Amalfi coast.

However I love wine no matter where the origin is as long as its GREAT WINE!

4 or 5 years ago I¬†tried a few English wines¬†(I REALLY WANTED THEM TO BE AMAZING!) but was never really that impressed.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† So this year I decided to revisit…………¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Oh boy how wrong was I!¬†

Last year I had some Nyetimber Blancs de Blanc 09 & was very impressed, then at the beginning of April 2017 went to the Cheltenham wine festival where I sampled (it was released that weekend) the 2010 Nyetimber BdB. On Tasting¬†I was thinking …. are they really¬†making this quality in the UK??¬†Well hold the front page the English are!

From my Nyetimber 2010 BdB tasting notes: Obs. Very Pale golden colour, tiny bubbles. Nose: Apples, Citrus & floral. Palate: This is where the wow factor arrived, the mouth feel was incredibly soft with citrus but then toasty too. Finally the finish elegantly goes on & on. You can also taste the terroir with definite mineral in the background. Great Wine.

Last week I went to the Decanter “THE GREAT SPARKLING EXPLORATION” in Westminster, LONDON and had some fabulous fizz from all over the world including ENGLAND. I won’t go into these right now as this piece was originally for my blog today which will be posted in the next few days.

Ok now you get to find out what I have be wittering on about for the last few paragraphs and why the title of this blog is English Sparkling Rose.

Yesterday the weather was far from brilliant, (hey its the UK what a surprise) so my wife and I decided to go down to the Cotswolds, (check out to see why we go) which is only 40mins from home, for a wander and some lunch.

Well we decided to go to “The Village Pub” for lunch, yes its actually called this. Its in the tiny village of Barnsley,¬†not far from Cirencester. We managed to get a table even though the place was packed. (note to self….. RESERVE TABLE next time to avoid possible disappointment)

An amazing burger being delivered to an adjacent table so my lunch= SORTED before seeing a menu. So I concentrated on the wine list. Their wine list is well above average for a pub and I had almost decided, just waiting for Margaret to chose what she was eating, when I saw an English Sparkling Rose. A Sparkling Rose would not be a norm for me however, I was reading that morning and learnt it was #NationalRoséDay so Michelle this one was down to you. Great blog thanks for the inspiration.

The chosen wine was Poulton Hill Estates English Sparkling Rose, made 4 miles from where I was sat in this fabulous country pub. So a no brainer, local Vineyard, #NationalRoséDay and because fizz on a Saturday lunch time should be added to every wine drinking countries constitution as the LAW.

Wow…. That’s what my wife first said after we clinked glasses, hang on give me a chance! I still had my nose in the glass as usual. WOW…….. that wow was me. In the glass its pale pink, Summer fruits on nose. On the palate its Blueberry, Strawberry, Raspberry… Its summer fruits heaven. But not jammy without balance, there’s also mineral, lavender &¬†violets with perfect acidity and a beautifully balanced dry finish.

Before I go, the Food and service at “The Village Pub” was excellent. Cheers.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† On leaving the barman asked if I had enjoyed the wine, which of course I replied fabulous!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The vineyard had been with him the day before to sample their great still wines. He had a bottle of their Bacchus open from the day before and of course I blagged a taste. Beautifully crafted but that’s for another day.

I am hoping to visit Poulton Hill soon & will then give you all the run down on these super wines.

So Poulton Hill, I take my hat off to you and your fabulous English Sparkling Rosé

From Poulton Hill Vineyards Website:

Originally, Poulton Hill Estate was a farm. Today, it’s a small, friendly, family-run vineyard with lots of experience and lots of ambition.We converted the original Cotswold stone barns into a family home and in 2010/2011 planted our 8,800 vines, which can produce up to 20,000 bottles per annum. We also produce English spirits, all from grapes harvested by hand. Our vision is to expand the vineyard with new planting in 2018 into our west field. &


Mentions during the blog:

Nyetimber: &

Michelle: from  &

Decanter:  &

The Village Pub: &

Cheltenham Wine festival: &

Cotswolds Tourist info:

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This blog is all my own views entirely & I have no affiliation or have I been paid by any of the above companies or people.