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Whine Whine Whine!

This seems to be a lot of what we all do at this festive time of year – no matter how pleasant the atmosphere around us, us Brits always have something to moan about; the snow and how unprepared the gritters were and are (ok that one is justified), the rising cost of petrol, the family causing grief over who should go where this Christmas, the rubbish attempt at Christmas lights this year on Oxford Street – they are terrible honestly, we need to take note of what Manchester do each and every year…

Now that is a display – £500,000 spend on showing the people of Manchester why Christmas matters – other cities, follow suit!

Anyway, the biggest concern of us this year is a way to enjoy what the festive season brings without the burden of needing to spend too much moolah.  Now this can be done and it can be done well I promise.  So, bearing in mind that this is a wine blog, I can provide a full proof way of having fantastic quality wine and a seriously good price and from a source that is both respected and highly reliable – Laithwaites Wine.  You have probably seen the TV ad that discusses their Discovery Dozen case  (in either red of white guise).  I ordered my case online and within 2 days it was delivered to my local Laithwaites ready for me to collect – all for just £39.99.  So that’s 12 bottles of mixed red wines from around the globe, that also consist of some award winners, for this price.  You now compare that to what you would get for the same money on the offers aisle in Sainsbury’s…it doesn’t even bear thinking about.  These kinds of offers ARE out there and ready to exploited, and I don’t mean that in a funny way.  To get decent quality wine, a service to match and the kind of knowledge that you are looking for will not come anywhere else except from your local merchant, or places like Laithwaites and Majestic etc.  This is what came in my mixed case of 12 reds:

Chateau Laubes 2006 – Bordeaux blend that is full bodied, smooth with velvety plum and cassis flavours.  A classic example of a quality wine from this famous region.

Eiken Rust Pinotage 2008 – From the Western Cape of South Africa that is medium to full-bodied, juicy red plums and berries are abundant here.  Great example of a Pinotage from a world-renowned wine growing country.

The Waxed Bat 2008 – Blend of Petit Verdot, Shiraz and Malbec from Argentina.  This has won lots of awards and is a wine of the moment for many journalists and experts – the mere fact that this was included in the case was a massive bonus.  A brilliant wine and one I shall save for Boxing Day lunch!

Los Rosales Chapel Vineyard Cabernet 2008 – A classic Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rapel Valley in Chile.  Loads of black cherry on this little number, with hints of mint to round the whole juicy bottle off!  Cushty.

Vina Labarta 2008 – A very fine Rioja from Spain displaying all the classic smells and flavours that are synonymous with this famous wine; strawberries, cherries, spicy oakiness and a lovely vanillary texture towards the end.  There are so many Riojan examples out there, but this is a good one!

Il Papavero – This, when I read the tasting note and a bit about it I was a bit dubious with, and this is a perfect example of me jumping the gun a bit and ‘assuming’ what something ‘may’ be like.  This is a Vino da Tavola, which means table wine and the comments stated that it was a “easy-going red”.  Now for a millisecond, I did think, hmm this could fall short of my already growing expectations from what I have already discovered within this mixed case.  Then reality kicked in, and so did the little dude that sits on my shoulder that said to me ‘Now Scott, don’t just think that this will be a steaming disappointment just because of what the text says, give it a chance’.  So what did I think…well it was bloody lovely, very easy-going and one that is definitely a jug wine for easy drinking, but pleasant enough to be able to talk about.

Black Stump Durif Shiraz 2009 – Shiraz from South Eastern Australia rarely disappoints and this one is no exception.  Loaded with powerful flavours of spicy cassis, blackberries, and the welcome hints of liquorice to warm the cockles.  Ooh this is a goodie (much like Bill Oddie in fact!)

Villa Farnia di Farnese 2008 – Another Italian staple.  This ‘Monte’ (Montepulciano) is another classic example of one of the country’s most famous wines; plenty of rich plumminess and smooth fruitiness to keep you going over a mince-pie on Christmas Eve (ok, not the best food match I have ever suggested, but it’s Crimbo and anything goes right?)

So, although this is 8 wines, there were a couple each of the extra good ones to round the number up to 12.  Honestly, I urge you to try this Discovery Case and get your order in before the big day to please all tastes – and remember there is a white mixed case as well.  Take a look today – http://www.laithwaites.co.uk/LW/jsp/templates/ourwines/feature.jsp?categoryId=cat1850006


Okey dokey so what else is new and interesting?  Chris de Burgh!!!  Yes, the man who wooed all the ladies into thinking that if you put on a red little number then all the men would fall at your feet.  Well, the wallowing crooner has only gone and decided to sell some of his own private collection of, and I have to say, bloody awesome wines.  This includes a 1945 Lafite, 1962 Latour and a Mouton 82!  WOW!

Lady in Red – there is some kind of wine related joke there somewhere, be it clean or not, something somewhere!

Ooh, looky looky…

Christmas arrives at Virgin Wines

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Written by Laura Clark
Thursday, 02 December 2010
Online retailer Virgin Wines is rolling out its 12 Days of Christmas promotion for the second year running.

Starting yesterday (December 1), the initiative enables customers to receive a special offer by email for 12 consecutive days, excluding weekends.

The offers, which include free gifts, one-off special deals and large savings off customer favourites, new wines and Christmas selections, will also be promoted to visitors of Virgin Wines’ website. Customers will have 24 hours to take advantage of each offer.

Coinciding with the promotion, the online wine retailer is running a Christmas competition via Facebook, where online users have the chance to win free wine each day for 10 days.

Jay Wright, managing director of Virgin Wines, said: “The promotion was incredibly well received last year – selling more than 10,000 cases – so we were very keen to bring it back again this year. However, this time, we’ve included even more discounts and special deals.”

For those that have £4,500 to spare this Crimbo, why not treat your loved one/s to this; The new packaging for the ultra-premium Cuvée Pierre Frapin 1888 features stylish detail. The addition is a luxury leather travel case with saddle stitching and a luxurious and opulent golden interior. The entire package comes in with a hefty price tag of £4,500, but for that you get a blown-glass decanter from Cristalleries Royales de Champagne, with a 24-carat fine gold stopper, all protected by a matching suede bag which is tied with a golden cord. Of course, we mustn’t forget the Cognac inside that will be sure to keep the winter chills at bay – yes please Santa!

That’s me for this week folks, next week though have a cool feature in mind all about what to drink this Christmas with your dinner, and trust me, it wont be full of the usuals.  Plus in January, I hope to have secured some time with the fine people at The Good Wine Shop here in Kew, South West London for a full on feature in about their shop that I am hoping will really bring home the reasons why we should be making the most of our local merchants and supporting them in what they are trying to achieve.  I feel a campaign coming on!

Wine is fun, fun is wine drink it young and when you dine.

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