Last night we indulged (alongside our customers) into a superb tasting hosted at The Kensington Arms, Redland featuring some fantastic wines from Quinta do Vale Meao.The tasting was presented by Francisco Javier de Olazabal , winemaker at this esteemed estate that sits atop a granite outcrop in the Douro Superior region of Portugal.
We started the evening with a vertical tasting of 3 vintages of the Quinta do Vale Meao , 2002, 2007 and 2012. Jumping 5 years apart , the wines showed not only the potential of aging such beautifully crafted wine but also the minute differences in how the field blends were selected. The 2007 vintage was yours truly’s favourite, showing some great elements of the Douro reds (spicy and minty dark cherry and bramble ) alongside game, leather, pepper and a good solid structure. 2002 was the more developed vintage, showing some exquisite soft tannin and a very vibrant fresh fruit, still a young wine I would say, capable of aging much more. The 2012 was a rich and full bodied , still young vintage that was just peeking through the vibrant tannin and fruit structure.
Following up to the vertical tasting we had a food and wine pairing that featured Meandro Branco, a fresh and juicy white Douro style with 2 distinct vineyards blended, one planted with Arinto and the other with Rabigato. This was paired with a starter of Beetroot Cured Salmon and Salmon Mousse, and it proved to be a great match. The main course of Braised Short Rib, Onion and Carrot was accompanied by 2 different reds , Meandro Tinto, a typical Douro red with a much younger vine in its makeup, showing lots of freshness, red cherry fruit and velvety tannin (this was served slightly chilled) and also Monte Meao, a single vineyard and single grape variety (Touriga National ), style, that was elegant, poised, mineral and full to the brim of the classic dark cherry and mulberry with a hint of mint that Touriga is known for. The eagerly awaited dessert was accompanied by Vale de Meao 2001 Vintage Port, served around the table in a typical portuguese manner, where each participant would pour for themselves and then pass along the bottle/carafe. The Port was a stunner, aromatic, almost juicy but showing some great structure of fruit and spicy tones. A young Vintage port still, that can continue to develop for a couple of decades.
Everyone seemed to have enjoyed the tasting and we wish to thank Francisco, Raymond from RaymondReynolds and all the staff at The Kensington Arms for a wonderful evening !
Wines By the Glass served in 125ml measures
Elegant stone fruit & lemon with a touch of green herb
2016 Gumpoldskirchner Tradition, Johanneshof Reinisch 4.75
Mango, apricot & a touch of honey blossom.Crisp and fresh on the palate.
2015 Blanco de Pinot Noir, Aniello 5.50
Hints of melon and ripe stone fruits with good weight and acidity.
2013 Herdade Sao Miguel (in magnum) 4.25
Rich and velvety 4 grape blend, soft cassis and blackberries
2015 Milu 4.50
Ribera del Duero, Spain
Really juicy Tempranillo, packed with vibrant blueberry and plum fruit.
2014 Valpolicella Ripasso, Villa Mattielli 5.50
Ripe dark and red cherries with a touch of fresh stone fruit .
Sherry served in 100ml
Manzanilla, Las Medallas – 4.00
Dry Oloroso, Lustau – 5.00
If you would like to choose any bottle of wine from our range – to drink here
we charge £6 corkage on top of the retail price.
We have a selection of beers too – predominantly from the many new and exciting breweries that are springing up around the city – we charge £1 corkage
We also have a couple of whiskeys (currently from Japan and USA), a number of Rums, and a single grape Grappa made using Merlot grapes.. it may surprise you!
Nibbles: Crisps – £1.90
Italy is a treasure trove for native and sometimes obscure grape varieties, although Trebbiano is not really obscure, it is certainly Italian. Trebbiano is also known as Ugni Blanc or Colombard in neighbouring France, where it is mostly used for creating the base wine for Cognac and Armagnac, with little presence as a wine varietal in Gascony and Pays D’Oc.
In it’s ancestral home, Italy, Trebbiano is grown for the great yield it possesses, though some producers, using active pruning and methods that keep the vine output at a consistent level, have managed to bring out the best from this workhorse grape variety. We have always stocked a few examples of it, mostly from Italy, sometimes a regional French Colombard making its way to our shelves too.
Currently , our offering includes Trebbiano Rubicone, Vinvita, Italy , which is the example that has most freshness , starting off on the nose with clean, crisp lime and apple notes, continuing on the palate with a fresh citrus balanced by a touch of apple and stone fruits. The finish is zesty, inviting the drinker continuously for another sip of this well balanced wine.
Another producer, Trebbiano D’Abruzzo, Caldora, Italy has chosen to go even further with the pruning in order to keep the yields lower, creating a slightly richer, juicier varietal, where persimmon fruit, pear and a touch of spicy lime intersperse on the nose. Palate is somewhat richer too, slightly creamy, showcasing the citrus fruit on a medium-long finish.A good pairing for white pasta and delicious with grilled oily fish.
The last example, one of my favourites, coming from sunny Sicily, Tendoni di Trebbiano, Centopassi, Italy is a completely different style than the previous two. Using very old vines, perhaps the oldest in central Sicily, and putting it to rest in barrels, creating a superb, slightly oxidative wine. Full of dried fruits and nutty notes, aromatic cooking herbs and honeyed truffle, releasing its pleasurable flavours layer upon layer. Quite rich on the palate, it delivers a sherry like experience from a fresh, almost full fruity palate and finishing off with a bold nutty edge. Walnuts, almonds, pecan and even a touch of smoke all create an everlasting finish. Have this one with smoked trout or some good Asiago and kalamata olives!
Visit our stores for these wines and we hope you enjoyed reading about them.
Earlier this week we were invited to host a tasting for the Bristol Wine Circle, a lovely group who meet frequently to share their passion for wine.
They tasked us to show them a range of ‘interesting wines’, always like a challenge!
First was to narrow this down to just ten. We choose all our wines for interest and purpose, however some are just a little more obscure and unusual. This is what we chose:
2015 Emmenz-moi Au Bout du Terret, Clos du Gravillas
Unusual to find a single varietal Terret Gris but here it is from the dynamic couple at Clos du Gravillas in the Cote du Brian, Languedoc. Dry, elegant and savoury, a perfect aperitif or partner to shellfish. Use as you would Muscadet.
2015 Reto, Ponce
Spain is such a fascinating wine producing country that we featured three wines from it. This Albillo de Albacete is the work of Juan Ponce in Manchuelo. Organic farming and minimal intervention add to complexity of this weighty, textured white with a nervy citrus edge.
2016 Gumpoldskirchner Tradition, Johanneshof Reinisch
Now into Austria, Thermenregion just south of Vienna and one of our favourite producers Johanneshof Reinisch. This is a terrific blend of Zierflander and Rotgifler, both native to this region and not really found elsewhere. A rich start of ripe fruit gives way to more honeyed and savoury notes with a dry finish. Great with rich, fatty foods.
2012 Ribolla Gialla, Ronchi di Cialla
Ribolla Gialla is an ancient variety found here in Friuli, NE Italy and across the border in Slovenia. I find it racing with acidity in youth but, with some age, the fruit fills out and perfume notes are enhanced. Stunning wine!
2014 Roussanne, Stolpman
This fickle variety can make some of the world’s most stunning wines however it is stubborn in the vineyard and winery so few are made! Here it is transported from it’s home in the Rhone Valley to the Central Coast of California with stunning results. The oak is beautifully balanced but ever present, layered with tropical, green apple and lime citrus fruit.
On to the reds…..
2015 Zweigelt, Johanneshof Reinisch
A crossing of Blaufrankisch and St Laurent by Fritz Zweigelt, this is Austria’s most planted red variety. It is a great introduction to this country’s wines capable of producing a wide range of styles. Here it is full of juicy, dark fruits, touch of spice and fine tannins, a very versatile wine.
2015 Adiado, Casal Figueira
Casteleo in it’s funkiest form! From the lovely Marta of Casal Figueira, a tiny estate in the hills of Lisbao producing this brilliant and an outstanding white Vital. Expect crunch, herbs and farmyard!
2014 7 Fuentes, Suertes del Marques
We are now whisked off to the island of Tenerife to taste the native Listran Negro blended with a touch of Tintilla (Trousseau) cultivated on volcanic soils. Deep brooding fruit with a touch of smoke!
2010 Schioppettino, Ronchi di Cialla
Once thought to be extinct, Paolo and Dina from Ronchi di Cialla fought for the recognition of this ancient variety from Fruili. Thank goodness they did, it is just wonderful in a delicate and elegant way. Light cherries and truffle, mushroom and perfumed violet.
2014 T. Amarela, Envinate
Tinta Amarela or Trincadeira to give it it’s proper name is native Portuguese and usually found there. This little beauty, however, hails from a tiny vineyard plot just over the border in Extremadura, Spain. Wonderfully perfumed nose leads to a dense yet vibrant palate that is layered and long. Only a few hundred bottles made, be sure to grab one whilst you can (and before we do!).
All these wines are produced organically or biodynamically with minimal intervention in the winery. It is not why we chose them, even though they are practices we believe are important, we chose them because they taste damn fine!
Wednesday 10th May – 7.30pm
The Kensington Arms, 35-37 Stanley Road, BS6 6NP
In the upper reaches of the Douro Valley, on the rivers most dramatic meander, sits an iconic estate.
Quinta do Vale de Meao produces some of the world’s most stylish wines
from its rugged surroundings.
Bought and established by the legendary lady of Port, Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira,
in 1877, it has been the stage for many pioneering feats of winemaking and viticulture in the Douro.
It is now the 6th generation of the family, Xito Olazabal, that will be with us to host the tasting.
He will feature 3 vintages of the Quinta do Vale Meao legendary estate wine
together with his Meandro and Monte Meao wines.
A three course dinner from the fabulous team at The Kensington Arms will be served alongside.
This is a truly exciting opportunity try these most sought after wines.
Reservation is by payment prior to the event at;
Cotham 0117 973 1620; North Street 0117 963 3331: Cargo 0117 302 0038
DISTINCTIVE TASTE OF SPAIN
Wednesday 29th March – 7.30pm
The Kensington Arms, 35-37 Stanley Road, BS6 6NP
Based in the Gredos Mountains, west of Madrid, Daniel Ramos is utilising Garnacha with some astonishing results.
He’s brought to life abandoned vineyards; combines ancient and modern winemaking techniques and makes wines with minimal intervention.
Thus giving his wines multiple threads of flavour and amazing depth.
It is an honour to have Daniel here to host the evening and the team at the Kensington Arms (recently included in the Top 50 Gastropub Awards) have created a tasting menu to compliment these extraordinary wines.
Spain is producing such exciting and distinctive wine at present, especially from this part of the country.
This is a great opportunity to try it at its best!
Reservation is by payment prior to the event at;
Cotham 0117 973 1620; North Street 0117 963 3331: Cargo 0117 302 0038
Since Roman times, Madrid and its mountainous surroundings have been cultivated with grapes. The climate is continental, quite hot summers, equally cold winters and it is this stressful succession of seasons that makes the area a good spot for wine grape-growing. The growers here adapted to these slightly harsher conditions by bringing in the sturdy Garnacha, the lesser known Albillo or the ubiquitous Tempranillo, Airen and even the Syrah. The key to success here is altitude and soil. Enough height so that the hot summers get that cool breeze, good heat retention in the soil so that the cold nights give some warmth back to the vines.
We recently got on our shelves a few of the wines from this up and coming area , and would love for you to try some. The white, Daniel Ramos, Albillo Real 2014 comes from the Serra de Gredos, high up in the mountains south of Madrid. It is hand harvested from 90 year old vines, macerated for 3 days and then naturally fermented in french oak barrels. Rich and slight funky, retains a lovely balance of acidity and fruit to suit food matching but also to be drunk on its own. Lots of roasted white fruits, lemon preserve and a dry herb lingering through. Again from Daniel Ramos, Kappi Amphorae, Garnacha 2015 is harvested from 60 year old vines and then is traditionally fermented in very large clay amphorae, as probably the Romans did millennia ago.It goes through a very slow fermentation, which is key here in bringing out the flavors. The vibrant red & black forest fruits are complemented by a mixture of slight funky herbs, endemic spices and its complexity is only outmatched by the long, swirling finish. Daniel Gomez Jimenez-Landi,Las Uvas de la Ira,2014 is another stunning example from the Serra de Gredos, this one being harvested from parcels of old vine Garnacha at altitudes above 800m, a true mountain-climber. The Garnacha here is almost unrecognisable from the general characteristics of the grape. We get a beautiful, elegant wine, full of roasty red fruits, aromatic yet still subdued, complex yet direct and complemented by a just right acidity. There is still a slight rusticity, perhaps it comes with the terroir of the region, but its elegance is providing you with an almost sinful experience (of finishing the bottle in one go ). Last but not least, we have Bodega Maranones, Treintamil Maravedies, 2014 . This stunning example of Garnacha (90%) and a few other local varieties is coming through with a bold red & bramble fruit, rustic elements of spice and an aromatic herb reminiscent of the kitchens in Roman times. With a backbone of vibrant acidity and a somewhat elegant finish, it will match a great variety of meat platters or even something like a rich paella.
We recommend these wines wholeheartedly , bringing with them the flavors and even textures of perhaps millennia ago.
Come in and chat with us about them at any point in our shops .
The last few days have seen a sudden temperature drop – not wholly unexpected – which has brought with it that slight feeling of need for warmth. Being more specific, it’s that time of the year when you transition from the citrusy white wines and bone dry rose of the summer to warmer reds. And there is no better transition red than the ubiquitous Pinot Noir.
It takes many forms, from very light and fruity to more serious and possibly quite chunky styles. We stock the full spectrum and invite you to try some.
We start off with a bright, juicy fresh style, Le Fou, Pinot Noir from the Pays D’Oc in France. It vibrates with fresh red cherries and a strawberry perfume, aromatic but with a propensity to deliver lots of fruit and dry soft spice.
Continuing on those lines of lighter, softer styles comes one of my all-time favourites, Marsannay, En Ouzeloy by Rene Bouvier. It is a gorgeous Pinot Noir coming from the northern part of the Cotes de Nuits in the village of Marsannay. Bright garnet in colour with a supple and silky texture that delivers all that is expected from Burgundy. Redcurrant fruit, soft cherry and aromatic berries wrapped around a cocoon of forest undergrowth that just adds to the complexity. There is a little spice too, almost dainty, but enough to get that warming process going for you, the discerning drinker.
In our third offering, the grape is taking the form of a chameleon, stemming from the slightly cooler region of the Loire Valley, Sancerre Rouge, Domaine Jean-Paul Balland. It is on the mineral laden slopes of Sancerre that this beautiful Pinot Noir takes it’s clean, crisp almost savoury elements from. This wine shows a little more body with some savoury mushroom and earthy spices yet still maintains freshness. The cherries have dried a bit, the raspberry has become wild and there is a soft mulberry perfume embedded too. You’ll definitely want to pour another glass!
As the days turn slowly into foggy, overcast times of Autumn harvest and sometimes solitude, so our next offering changes its delivery of fruit and spice to you. Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir, Nalle is a superb example of how there is (good) life for Pinot Noir outside of its comfort zone in Burgundy. The Russian River Valley is a region of America synonymous with Pinot Noir and this particular winery does a tremendous job with the grape. Bags of red and dark forest berries, supple tannins and a plethora of spices swirling around – yet never straying away from – the marvellous fruit at its core.
Jetting half way around the globe, we make a stop in the Southern Hemisphere to one of its most southern vineyard areas: The Central Otago, New Zealand. So much and so quickly has this region changed that 20 years ago it was barely a novelty. Wild Earth, Pinot Noir is our offering from this new world marvel and it is a big one too. It delivers in terms of body and weight, displaying some desired richness of fruit alongside spices, mushrooms, forest dry leafs and all the other elements of complexity one would expect. It comes packed with dark cherry, dark raspberry and some beautifully integrated wood spice.
We could not finish our small trip into the Pinot Noir world without visiting one of the world’s great vineyards, Volnay by Comte Armand is our last stop and it is one that amazes at every sip. Cotes de Beaune where Volnay is located has a great reputation for Burgundy’s other stellar grape, Chardonnay, but this Volnay would easily change your mind when it comes to what a richer style of Pinot Noir could be. Picked just at the right moment to deliver all the right terroir, it has a great depth, supple tannins and acidity, a minerality that prickles the fruit almost like a drop of rain on a dusty summer day. Oh and the fruits! Wild dark cherries, with their sweet bitter aftertaste, chewy raspberries with a cranberry middle, all revolving around those beautiful tannins and minerality. Spices abound in the form of wood, herb and mushroom and the finish is long, complex and mesmerizing. This is a wine which may move you to grab some logs and start stoking up your fireplace.
All of the above wines are available in our shops, where we would love to introduce them to you and chat some more.
The growing trend is to bottle and release “En Rama” is an exciting addition to our sherry range.
“En Rama” is to bottle the sherry (usually Fino or Manzanilla) virtually at the sane condition as found in cask. It has a very light filter to remove any suspended particles that may spoil the wine during transportation but no clarification or stabilization , all with the aim to provide a sherry in its most natural state as possible.
This year we are featuring the “En Rama’s ” from Bodegas Lustau one of the regions most prodigious producers and the only one to produce Fino and Manzanilla from the three cities that form the sherry triangle. This is the second edition of their ‘3 En Rama’ series and we have them all as follows:
MANZANILLA EN RAMA is matured on the coast in Sanlucar de Barrameda and bottled from a selection of just 2 casks out of 135. It is more intense in colour than most manzanillas. Intensely aromatic, flowery with notes of roasted nuts and creamy pastries and that classic saline edge.
FINO EN RAMA from Jerez is a stronger wine due to the nature of Jerez by being further inland. Again only 2 casks selected, this time from 708 barrels in the Bodegas Los Arcos. It is very pungent with nuts and flowery yeast cream.
FINO EN RAMA from Puerto de Santa Maria, is a more delicate yet beautiful structured wine. Also from 2 selected casks from 347. Rich and floral with roasted nuts and a saline edge.
From its conception in the later 1800’s, 4 generations of the Antica Distilleria Quaglia have developed artisan spirit production, modernising where needed whilst cherishing the older traditional art and methods of distilling.
With a range comprising Vermouth, Gin, Liqueurs, Absinthe, Grappa and Bitters, these are some of the best products we’ve tried.
Organic with the majority of ingredients sourced in Italy, here are a few highlights:
LIQUORE DI CHINOTTO
Chinotto is a species of bittersweet orange which grows on plants similar to myrtle. Handpicked and then infused in alcohol for 2 months, the result is an intense and comforting aroma of citrus and spice. the bittersweet orange on the palate is accompanied by vanilla, rhubarb, dandelion and orange blossom.
Over ice or topped up with Prosecco, amazing!!
LIQUORE DI LAMPONE
Glorious infusion of fresh Piedmontese raspberries, this is by far the best product of this kind we have tasted. You can feel the crunch of fresh raspberry on the palate which, together with heady perfume, lingers elegantly.
Superb end to a meal, or just in the afternoon!
Using caraway seeds and their essential oils, this a basically a Kummel like no other. Poised and fresh with a superb sweet and spice balance.
Move over Aperol, this is now our Aperitivo of choice as it gives a purer, finer flavour. Orange peel, gentian root and rhubarb are all part of the infusion, this makes the ultimate Spritz!
Originally produced back in the 1900’s, Quaglia have recently revived their bitter production to satisfy the growing market. Gentian root, bitterwood and alpine daisy are the main botanicals in this Bitter of the highest quality.
Use as you would Campari – negronis, with soda or on it’s own over ice and a slice!