Sparkling wines are and have been always associated with celebration, with times of happiness and joyous moments. It dates back to the times were harvest was celebrated with the newly bottled wine shortly after completion, where this newly bottled wine was slightly effervescent, or petillant as the French say. This was in fact the first style of sparkling wine, the “Pet Nat” or Petillant Naturrel , not a regular occurrence but one that was embraced as this meant some wines tasted fresher. A natural wine (no or minimal intervention by the winemaker ) this forefather of sparkling wines was present throughout the world were wines were starting to be bottled, surprising winemakers with it’s untamed character and lively bubbles. It is currently seeing a resurgence in the wine market, as it is seen as not only eco-friendly but also contain less sulphites and are as natural as they can be. We are proud to list several different wines of this character and covering both Old and New World.
A favourite few are :
2018 Ca’ Di Rajo, Lemoss , Glera Frizzante
Glera, also known as prosecco grape, is represented here in it’s Pet Nat form, light and delicate, with vibrant nectarine, lemon oils and a touch of leesy – savoury complexity. This “prosecco” is less sweet and an excellent food pairing for venetian cicchetti .
Fio ‘Piu Piu’ Mosel Pet Nat
Riesling is the artist here, and it might surprise a few with it’s almost bold structure and yet retaining those amazing terroir captive traits. A bit of lemon, a touch of apple , a little spritzy note of peach all straddling that fresh mineral structure and an autumnal (decaying vine leaf ) feel.
Tour de Gendres Pet Nat
From Bergerac, the unassuming little brother of Bordeaux comes a Sauvignon/Chenin natural sparkling wine of great depth, character and complexity. It feels much more aggressive on it’s funky side yet still inviting and full of bursting fruit with every bubble hitting your palate. Crunchy apple, spicy wild pear and some melon make way for dry herb, cedar and a little bit of orange.
There are others as well and we invite you to come and chat with us about any of them in our stores.
Wines By the Glass served in 125ml measures
2015 Amelie Blanc 12.5% 5.00
Mineral and floral with citrus balance.
2017 Yapincak, Pasaeli 12% 5.50
Melon, peach with nice weight & fresh citrus.
2017 Fiano, Giornata 13.5% 6.00
Weighty and savoury with baked stone fruit .
2017 Feitoria Tinto 13% 5.00
Lighter style Douro with blackberry and crisp cherry.
2018 Mencia, Bioca 13% 5.50
Juicy bramble and soft plum.
2015 Chateau Revelette 13.5% 6.00
Garrigue, blackcurrants and a lovely structure.
2017 Pinot Noir, Lujanita 12.5% 5.50
Dry and aromatic with wild cherry and light spice.
Orange Wine :
2017 Rkatsiteli, Pheasant’s Tears 12% 6.50
Funky wild fruit, vegetal and with weighty tannin.
Le Dolci Colline Prosecco Spumante Brut (200ml bottle) 5.00
Venezia Giulia, Italy
Light and Creamy with delicate notes of lemon citrus, apple and peach
Sherry/Madeira served in 100ml
Manzanilla, Aurora – 6.50
Amontillado, Aurora – 6.50
Options to open any bottle + £6 corkage
A large range of beers + £1 corkage
A range of spirits
Nibbles: Crisps – 90p – Pork Scratchings 2.09
Summer is always the time to measure the quantity and quality of rose wine, or so it seems. In reality, wine drinkers are more and more inclined to serve rose all year round nowadays and it is easy to understand why, given the multiple styles out there.
But before we go any deeper on the subject let’s talk a bit about the history of this ephemeral and divisive style. In the beginning of humanity’s wine-making skills most wine was actually rose, or quite close to it in style (it might surprise you, I know) , grapes were harvested all at the same time, white and black grapes crushed and fermented together resulting in a pink, natural wine. Over time this style of wine faded, giving way to the more alcoholic and bolder red wine (also used for communion) and usually a slightly sweeter and fruity white(orange) style.
So there is a lot of background to the rose drinking days and even though it is still very much associated with sunny days of drinking in the garden, it can take on many forms and cater to most palates.
We currently stock around 20 different wines of this style, ranging from bone dry (almost austere in terms of fruit) to rich and opulent yet dry on the palate.
One of our biggest selling wines indeed is a rose, Pasquiers, Grenache-Cinsault Rose (£7.99 ) is a typically bone dry southern french with just about enough fruit to threshold as wine.
Literally arrived this week is Raza, Vinho Verde Rose (£9.99 ), an amazing dry rose blend that bursts with red berry fruit and a slight spritz that is usually associated with Vinho Verde.
A truly expressive and complex style of rose is represented by Trediberri, Langhe Rosato (£13.99 ) with both notes of red berries and light herb and spices it is an example that also matches a variety of dishes ranging from grilled fish/seafood to more hearty Italian pasta.
Coming from the very border between Portugal and Spain, Quinta de Santiago, Rose (£14.99 ) is a zesty, dry style with a crisp red fruit core and a beautifully balanced texture. More complex than the Vinho Verde counterpart and with more food matching sense.
Lebanon is one of the places that are tied close to the very beginnings of wine-making, and that is where Massaya, Rose (£18.99 ) comes from. Dry but with some lovely elements of ripe red fruit and middle eastern rose this is to savour either with food or on it’s own .
Last but not least on today’s list is my favourite rose that we currently stock. Bernard Reverdy et fils, Sancerre Rose (£19.99 ) is one of those wines that are so perfectly balanced that always put a right smile across one’s face. Pinot Noir at it’s core, it just has the right amount of aromatic forest berries and light dry herb and spice but all in a mineral and captivating body.
All of the above are in stock now with us and prices are correct at the time of print. Hoping you (the reader ) has been enticed, we welcome you to browse the range across our 3 shops.
The coming of Spring is imminent, snowdrops are scattered around and the sunshine hours are increasing, our appetite for poking our heads above the winter slumber is increasing too! We are suggesting therefore, a small selection of spirit beverages that we think should match the coming euphoria at the return of Mother Nature’s green shoots.
Our first spirit is none other than Psychopomp’s Pinga Gin, hailing from a micro-distillery in the heart of Bristol, it is their limited spring edition offering. Fresh and aromatic in style, it has notes of chamomile, lemon balm and bee pollen, creating a citrus and blossom edge for a wonderful aromatic experience. This one is for scaring away the spirits and ghostly specters of winter!
The second spirit we recommend is Solerno, Blood Orange Liqueur from Sicily. Amazing and powerful, it has a superb aromatic flavour with the crisp and juicy blood orange taking center stage. At 40% it can be used as a premium triple-sec, making those margaritas that you love, and will chase the winter away. A celebration for the last winter harvest!
Moving on to the third spirit, we continue to be awed by a wonderful and delicate grappa , Bepi Tossolini’s Grappa di Moscato, a unique spirit made from the pomace of Moscato grapes used for wine. Beautifully crafted, with an elegant body and crisp floral aroma it is best drunk as a sipper or mixed into your morning coffee, what better excuse, eh!? A spirit that truly uses up all the winter pomace!
The fourth spirit comes from the dry and sunny plateau of Chihuahua, Mexico. Hacienda de Chihuahua, Sotol Plata is a distillate similar to Tequila , made from the Sotol plant that grows wild in the desert. It exudes a fresh and zingy green leaf feel, mellow on the palate, leaving one’s taste buds feeling refreshed. It can be a great substitute for Tequila in most mixing occasions or can be enjoyed neat for the full fruit & leaf experience. A real lease of green leaf in your life!
Last stop on the spring spirit trail we give way to the wild strawberry, a fruit so tiny and yet so aromatic and sweet! Miclo, Framboise Sauvage Eau de Vie is one of those spirits that can surprise at every sip. Being made solely from wild strawberry, a mountain reared, small and aromatic fruit that is handpicked in late July through to August, it is then fermented and distilled into a marvelous spirit, this gets the nod as the most aromatic of the non-sweet type spirits. One can almost taste the tiny strawberries just by slowly sipping this ambrosia! Best enjoyed slightly chilled, as a reward for trimming the bushes in the garden. A spirit in tune with the returning blossoms!
With the hope that some of these have inspired you to shed your winter coat, have a great spring on us!
All of the above can be purchased from our Cotham or NorthStreet branches, or available on pre-order at our [email protected] branch.
Lambic-style beers, in the form of a spontaneously fermented beverage, can loosely be traced back to approximately 50-100BC thanks to Roman historians marching with the army, near what is the modern Belgian/German border. The Breweries that survive today often have long, centuries-old history, and have experienced the changes in public tastes and political climates. Some have adapted to change, attempting to appeal to new audiences, whilst others have doggedly stuck to tradition. But tastes change, and there is increasing interest in the unsweetened, artisan styles of the traditional lambic from the Pajottenland.
In the 20th century there were hundreds of lambic brewers and blenders, whilst contemporarily these have been reduced to nine lambic brewers, who also blend, and four lambic blenders. The renewed surge and interest in beer from the late 1990s-early 2000s, has coincided with increasing curiosity in lambic as a truly unique and distinctive style. In addition, many brewers outside of the area South-West of Brussels, Belgium, have started to experiment with their own styles of wild fermentation, and blended beers. Though it is fair to say that there is still nothing quite like a true lambic.
Brewing a lambic: It’s all in the yeast
There are five main ingredients: pale two-row malt (2/3 of the malt bill), unmalted wheat (1/3 of the malt bill), aged hops, water, and local native microbes that drive the spontaneous fermentation. Lambic wort (liquid extracted from the mash) is produced using turbid mashing, which involves the preservation of starchy and protein-rich wort, in order to provide the food for the various microbes present in the lengthy lambic fermentation. This then undergoes a longer than usual boil, and is hopped using aged hops, as a preservation method. It is then transferred to a koelschip (to cool), which are effectively swimming pools full of beer, at which point the beer starts to become infected with the yeasts. Unlike most other beer styles, which use farmed or packaged yeasts, lambic relies solely on spontaneous fermentation, utilising microbes and yeasts that occur naturally in the atmosphere.
Finally, it is transferred to large oak barrels to age for up to three years. This is where the fun starts, albeit drawn out and lengthy, as the beer starts to grow more sour and funky. Once suitably barrel-aged, it may undergo further ageing on fruit or blended and allowed to re-ferment and develop in bottle.
A true terroir beer
Of all the beer styles that exist, lambic probably makes the strongest case for being the truest expression of terroir, in terms of its geographic location and those that brew it. Whereas many other modern beers take influence and ingredients from the world over, lambic is truly a product of place, with no two blenders or brewers able to make the same beer. Whilst some producers don’t even brew their own beer, rather they buy inoculated wort from other breweries and age it themselves, then blend in order to create a truly unique beer.
As the biggest “oude”- focused brewery and blender in the world, Boon is the touchstone for geuze and other lambic styles all over the world. Still brewing under the watchful eye of the legendary Frank Boon – a diehard traditionalist, but always willing to experiment. The brewery continues to be at the front and centre of lambic production.
Geuze Mariage Parfait
A blend of three year old lambics, with a small percentage of young lambic are used to create the “perfect marriage”! A refined beer, exuding flavours of tangerine, lime, hay and a slight vanilla edge, a refreshing sourness, and a long funky/dusty finish. Truly one of the most elegant and refined lambics, a fantastic example of what the style can achieve.
Oude Gueuze, a l’ Ancienne
A blend of 1, 2, or 3 year old lambics. This has a very fresh style where citrus and funky/farmyard notes dominate, but with a lovely balance of apple and pear adding a subtle sweetness to the sharper sour edge. A lingering tangy finish with touches of lemon peel and sherry vinegar, but with a great lightness of touch. A brilliant, easy-to-find and affordable geuze.
Geuze Discovery Box
A fantastic chance to try some incredibly unique beers from Frank Boon and co. 4 different single foudre (barrel) bottlings allow the drinker to explore the subtleties that the master of lambic is able to achieve.
This is the youngest lambic brewery making some of the world’s most sought-after lambics. They have quickly cemented themselves as producing beers of exceptional quality. This brewery enjoys experimentation as much as its quest for the perfect geuze.
A blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old lambics aged for at least a year in bottle before release. A delightful medium bodied beer with notes of fresh green apple, ripe apricot, and hints of funky cheese and Brett yeasts, and an extraordinarily lively carbonation. It is a masterfully complex beer which is highly refreshing and makes for the perfect appetiser on a warm summers evening.
A fruited unsweetened style made with 30% raspberries from Pajottenland, and 5% sour cherries from near the brewery. It has an intoxicating aroma of ripe raspberries and sour cherries with an underlying funky, earthy note. Being unsweetened it still retains the classic sour/tart flavours with subtle hints of sour citrus alongside a musty, woody quality. It is exceptionally balanced and very smooth – a true testament to this brewery’s consideration as one of the best in the world.
As the newest blender in the Pajottenland, Pierre Tilquin has gained acceptance and praise from within the tight group that makes up lambic producers. He makes fantastic geuze and fruit lambics including a beer made with Belgian prunes.
Rullquin (Collaboration with La Rulles brewery)
A blend of 7/8 Rulles Brune (Stout de Gaume) and 1/8 of a blend of 1 year old lambics which has then matured in oak barrels for 8 months. It makes for a fascinating combination with aromas of soft sour cherry, oak and roasted malts and funky/acidic, spicy note. The palate gives more dark stone-fruit notes with a great depth of leathery and earthy notes from the yeasts. The medium body and carbonation tie it all up for an incredibly balanced and complex beer. Tilquin is as interesting as ever and this beer is a great demonstration of the skill these blenders possess.
A relatively new brewery, located in the South Downs in East Sussex, they have gained a reputation for creating Belgian inspired beers. They are the first in the UK to install a koelschip to produce spontaneously fermented beers.
A blend of their Saison á la Provision from Foudre No.1 and a number of ex-Chardonnay barriques, it is then blended with a large portion of Belgian lambic. It shows well composed aromas of sour lambic and spicy saison, followed up with delightfully fresh elderflower, gooseberry and grapefruit notes. It has a lively but balanced carbonation giving the beer a lightness of touch whilst still retaining its complexity. This is a truly stunning offering from one of the UK’s best and most forward thinking breweries.
We have a great range of gift boxes.
Wine boxes for 1,2 or 3 bottles
Wooden Boxes for 1 bottle
Beer Boxes for 3,4 and 6 bottles
New Can Box for 6 cans
Belgian Beer Gift Packs
Plus Port Packs
3 different selections from Neipoort
3 Vintages of Colheitas
3 Ages of Tawny
1 Ruby, 1 Tawny and 1 White Port
Plus Magnums and Minatures
Whiskey making and entrepreneurship has been in the Teeling genes as far back as 1782,
when Walter Teeling set up a small craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane, Dublin 8.
Right back in the heart of the Liberties district of Dublin city,
Jack and Stephen Teeling, the latest generation of whiskey makers,
set up the Teeling Whiskey Company in 2012.
In March 2015 they opened the Teeling Whiskey Distillery
the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years,
and just a stone’s throw from their ancestral distillery,
right in the heart of the Golden Triangle,
the historic distilling district of the city.
Brought to the brink of near extinction, Irish whiskey refused to back down.
Now a new generation of whiskey drinkers are discovering,
enjoying and embracing the liquid that once conquered the world.
Since 1990, Irish whiskey has been the fastest growing premium spirit globally – truly a new Golden Era has begun.
With renewed interest in Irish whiskey at home and abroad,
We are seeing the revival of hand-crafted, flavoursome and unique whiskeys, the kind they were once famous for.
This era has begun to be defined by small, craft producers, and Teeling are proud to be leading the way,
with innovation and liquid excellence at the core of everything they do.
Irish whiskey has experienced dynamic growth for over twenty years yet still only commands 5% of the global market
and the industry is expected to double over the next 10 years.
I have just returned from an amazing trip to Mendoza, Argentina’s most famous wine region. Stunning vineyards framed by magnificent mountains, consistently brilliant wines and inspirational people made for quite an experience (not to mention over consumption of beef and empanadas!).
The region is most famous for its Malbec grape and I tried an amazing variety of styles but all with a common thread of freshness making, what can be a dense and weighty grape, more alive, vibrant and thrilling.
However, Mendoza is not just Malbec! The other varietals I tried really stole the show for me.
On the white side, Torrontes was crisp and floral with non of that soapy character common in so many. Susana Balbo’s Crios label stood out for it’s freshness, zip and sheer drinkability and is now available with us.
Viognier made a showing at our visit to Atamisque under the Serbal label. It is a wonderful example with ripe stone fruit, lime citrus and red apple. It will be on by the glass in our Cargo branch closer to Christmas.
The Chardonnay’s under both Catalpa and Atamisque labels are serious and complex. Beautiful in weight, ripe fruit and integrated oak. Bang for buck easily better than much of the offering from classic Chardonnay regions.
For the reds, Cabernet Franc at every winery was astonishingly good. Great varietal character in each but eschewing that dominance of green notes for just a touch of herbs. We have one from Atamisque under the Serbal label.
Cabernet Sauvignon also shone. Gorgeous ripe cassis, finely structured with well integrated tannin, yet firm enough for that charred steak (and they were so good with our daily Asados!). From Lorca winery, Poetica has some age and is showing lovely development. Crios from Susana Balbo offers more vibrant fruit and red crunch.
Bonarda was the call of the day in a detour up to visit Cara Sur in Barreal, San Juan province. A tiny project from Sebastian and Marce Zuccardi and close friends Nuria and Pancho taking grapes from ancient vineyard plots and fermenting in concrete eggs in Nuria and Pancho’s garage. The result is the best Bonarda I have tried, chewy black fruits, herbaceous and pomegranate freshness. They also make an intriguing Moscatel Tinto in demijohns! Not like any other red I’ve tried with it’s exotic floral notes, you definitely need to give this a go.
On our final day blends were the focus. We visited Bodegas Bengals with their ancient vines in impossibly beautiful vineyard settings.
From this visit we have listed three of their blends going up in depth, complexity and price!
Don Tiburico is 50% Malbec together with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot and aged for 12 months in French oak. Red and black fruits are laced with vanilla, clove and cocoa. This will also be in by the glass in Cargo closer to Christmas.
Finca Libertad is more or less equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and aged for 18 months in French oak. It has a smoky, toasty note and ripe black cherry and red pepper. Dense, silky and long.
Benegas Lynch Meritage is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon together with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot, a selection of the best grapes, aged in barrel for 18 months and then 5 years in bottle. This is stunning. Powerful yet elegant, beautiful in structure, ripe cassis and plum, touch mint and incredible long finish.
Overall this was the most incredible and informative trip for me and I hope we now have a selection of diverse, fascinating and ultimately utterly tasty wines for you to buy.
In the North West corner of Spain lies the magical land of Galicia. Green and rugged it is a beautiful mix of mountains, rivers, rolling hills and a stunning coastline.
As breathtaking is the scenery, so are the wines. We have just returned from a tour across the region taking in Rais Biaxas, Ribeiro, Ribeiro Sacra and Valdeorras visiting the tiny artisinal producers that lavish our shelves and represent so much of what Galicia is about.
Albarino is most well known variety of Galicia and key to the Rias Biaxas region. Trico was our first stop, a four plot domain specializing in Albarino with a capacity to age. From 2009 vintage to the 2015 we tasted through citrus, apple, tropical, saline, mineral, honey and beeswax in these beautifully structured and lengthy wines.
Our other Albarino hails from large terraced vineyards on the banks of the Minho river, Quinta de la Erre. Whilst their Albarino is sold young they are also protagonists of aging Albarino and tasting back through four vintages shows just how this grape develops much more weight and complexity with age.
The idea of ageing Albarino is alien to many consumers and other winemakers in the region but with good vineyard practice low yield and minimum intervention in the winery wonders can happen.
With the climate in the region producing much rain and humidity another alien practice is biodynamics. Luckily there are always crazy individuals ready to challenge what many think is impossible and create something stunning. In the Ribeiro region we visited two such individuals. Bernardo has a variety of plots on terraces steep up the hillside. A mix of 30 or so varieties, we lost count whilst trying. He follows a mix off biodynamic practice with the ethos of permaculture. Making the wine in his garage with absolutely astonishing results.
Chan se Lus Blanco 2015 is textured with perfumed layers of peach, apricot, nettle and dry honey – just stunning!
The 2015 Tinto is bottled with no sulphur and is an extraordinary wine, vibrant and spiky at first, settling in the glass quickly with amazing depth and elegance.
Look out for these in the near future.
Juan tends his grandmothers old vineyard at the side of the house he now lives in. Beautiful pergolas of Brancelleo, Caina Longo, Souson and Espedeiro provide cover for the chickens to run under. Again, a protagonist of biodynamics and minimal intervention, Juan is challenging the boundaries of what can be produced in this region with stunning results, His wine As Furnias is funky yet elegant with gorgeous depth of gentle bramble, figs and plums. The 2015 will be arriving with us very soon.
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the wines of Bioca in Valdeorras. This domain is the retirement passion of Maria Teresa and Celestino Naveira. The winery is nestled in an ampitheatre their Godello grapes looking out to the slopes of Mencia. They were the only winery we visited to have picked and the juice sitting in the tanks ready for fermentation was beautifully vibrant and zesty. Over a long lunch we had the 2016 Godello that had a weight of stone fruit balanced by lime zest and a saline edge, brilliant. It was paired with a local aged and tangy sheep’s cheese and the match was perfect. We continued with the 2015 Mencia which is juicy bramble laced with herbs and spice – a superb accompaniment to a lush shoulder of pork. Needless to say we didn’t want to leave.
Not long ago, Portugal was only known for its beautifully crafted fortified wines (Ports) and less so for the easy, quaffable white wines of the north (Minho) or juicy reds of the Dao, Bairrada or the Alentejo. Nowadays this has been rectified, most of wine drinkers having met with the delicious Vinho Verde or similar white wines of the Minho and neighbouring Douro valley. With indigenous grape varieties that abound in the Portuguese vineyards there are certainly some great examples to try, and today we are focusing on 3 summery, fresh , inviting wines that you’ll love to try.
First comes from Minho, the greater area in the north of the Douro that encompasses the Vinho Verde too.
Leira Seca, Fernando da Rosa 2016 is a beautifully crafted blend of Alvarinho and Trajadura, crisp and balanced citrussy notes with a warm stone fruit feel on the nose , approaching the palate with gorgeous ripe fruit and continuing with a lemony vibe that just springs Summer into mind. Paired with some seafood risotto and it will make your day!
The second wine we thought about today is the well known Vinho Verde , but today there are so many to choose from, luckily we have a pretty special example in Clip, Vinho Verde 2015 which is a 100% Loureiro wine. This grape variety, although found in many Vinho Verde examples, is seldom seen on its own, so it is no surprise that the flavour is bolder, richer, full of melon, touch of grapefruit and bursting with a citrus oil that keeps bringing you to try more. Both the nose and the palate are dominated by the ripe melon feel and it does not disappoint on the freshness level too. Less spritzy than its “greener” cousins, a delight it is nonetheless ! Pair this with your garden, sunshine provided!
The third and final suggestion is coming from revered Douro, where once only Port was the master, now there is plenty of room for more of the local, sometimes obscure grape varieties that grow together , fighting for every sand , stone and drop of water on the steep slopes of the valley.
Quinta de la Rosa, La Rosa Reserva 2015 is a craft of the land, the demanding castas (grapes) and the rewarding winemaker. A blend of mainly Viosinho, accompanied by Rabigato, Arinto and Gouveio alongside many other white varieties it brings to nose flavours of white blossom, pear, fragrant apple, green herb and a juicy lemony spritz. More body than the previous two but with lots of freshness, derived also from its mineral core, it continues on the palate with juicy pear and stone fruit, enveloped in an almost spicy citrus blend and green herb. Textured and fresh in the same time, it is a rewarding example to any kind of dish that is aromatic but also requires both body and freshness. Have this one paired with grilled Mozambique gambas (large prawns, from a once colony of Portugal) !
Enjoy the summer days while they last, come in and help yourselves with these gorgeous wines!