Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Everyday drinkers?

Everyday drinkers? Is that the wine or the drinkers? It's a phrase becoming more popular but is a wine ever an everyday drinker?

Certainly there are wines for special occasions and there are wines for any occasion but I'm not sure 'everyday' gives enough credit to the hard work of the wine maker.

Synonyms of everyday
Words Related to everyday

So what phrase should we use for wines opened in the week for no specific reason other than to enjoy - I'm not sure any of the thesaurus suggestions above sound any more creditable.

Over the last week or so I have enjoyed a few wines that could be called everyday drinkers ......

Vinhas do Silvado Tinto 2016 - this was a wine we saw in Majestic in Cardiff Bay: my knowledge of Portuguese wine is limited so I have lots to learn.

Much like the French vin de pays this wine is made from a blend of grapes which can be any from a very long list. From the Saco river region near Lisbon it's classified as a Vino Regional.

I found it full of plums, dark cherries and bramble with a lovely smooth finish. I'm sure the winemaker took time to decide which grapes were included in this blend. some might call it an 'everyday' wine!

Wandering Bird - this superb Sauvignon Blanc from Lidl was at the incredible price of £2.99. I wish I had purchased more, not because of the price but because it was an excellent New Zealand white.

Made by Mudhouse Wines this had all the expected characteristics of a New World Sauvignon Blanc - crisp nose of gooseberries & melons with citrus continuing in its full palate of  flavour with a sharp, clean finish.

L'escargot 2014 - another wine bought from Lidl at the same amazing price,  I'd say yes to more of this wine too. Although a French Sauvignon Blanc it is not from the Loire Valley but further south; Cotes de Gascogne.

It was full of citrus but not as sharp or acidic as the Sauvignon Blanc grown further north. Full of a clean crispness its finish was medium bodied and quite long, served chilled it really was a refreshing wine that was very easy to pour and enjoy!

Friday night at our house was Indian night with friends, not a takeaway although a couple of dishes were from the supermarket. Hubby cooked tandoori lamb and chicken, and dill salmon. I made Tarka Dhall for the first time; lentils are not to everyone's liking but it must have been good as the dish was emptied!

Another first when it came to dessert, pistachio kulfi (ice cream) made with condensed milk..... it was delicious, very creamy.

To accompany the spicy food I opened a bottle of German wine. It was a bottle given to us a few years ago as a gift and one I thought would pair well with our dinner .... and it did!

Brennfleck Silvaner 2013 - pouring from it's bulbous bottle the yellow/green wine had a similar look to a good olive oil, in viscosity as well as colour.

In the glass it had a very inviting glow as the light shone through it. Gooseberries were my initial though from it's aroma, followed by white stone fruits.

This followed through in it's flavour, although the gooseberries soften into the background and peachiness came to the fore with its hint of slate adding to the wine's clean, smooth, elegant finish.


I had to stop writing this and pop out for a few minutes .... a rare sight was about to happen. The Flying Scotsman passed through our station on it's way to London -

My photos were taken very quickly on my phone and our station has so many stanchions it was hard to get a clear photo - I was focusing on actually looking at the train to, not taking the photo - but you can see just what a superb piece of engineering she is. It was so good to see her in full steam.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Home and away

If you're a regular visitor to my wine, food and travel blog you will have read about my homemade Chateau Hearnden tea wine, it's bubbling away nicely.

And if you follow me on Twitter (@Aimetu) you'll know all about the bag of frozen peas that have been a much needed companion over the last year.

Putting those two statements together and what do you have ..... homemade pea wine hee hee

I no longer need my 'ice pack' and not liking waste I decided to have a go at pea wine !!

I have no idea if it will work or what it will taste like but it's been fun so far starting it off.
4 weeks in the bucket 
After straining
Let the bubbles begin
This weekend we popped to Cardiff and as Hubby was given quite a few Majestic gift vouchers when he retired we called into Majestic Cardiff Bay.

It's always nice to visit a different store as all stores are laid out differently which for some reason makes us spot new wines as well as recognising old favourites.

We had of course to buy 6 for the mixed price offer but somehow we ended up with a few more, as we enjoy each one I'll blog some tasting notes and add a review on Cuvée Reserve. 

I'm looking forward to trying Mon Plaisir De La Vallee and La Belle Angele as they are both French Sauvignon Blancs, and seeing how the Krasno Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia compares.

Our Majestic buys
We have often driven past Fine Wines Direct UK when in Cardiff, driven past because of time not because of lack of interest. As we had a little spare time this time we stopped by.

Fine Wines Direct UK supply the trade and are open to the public. They had some familiar labels and some new, they also had some very expensive bottles that Hubby and I can only ever look at!

Franschhoek is a label we've seen in other wine shops but never tried; we opted for the Chenin Blanc and Merlot from the range they had. On a recent visit to Cardiff Bay I had enjoyed a bottle of Siglo Rioja (yes I really did) in La Cha Cha so by mutual agreement a bottle was added to our buys.

They had a very good offer on Chateau l'Avocat Graves 2012 and in their bin end basket we spotted le Versant Viognier 2014 and La Di Motte Pinot Grigio 2012. Such good wines, such great prices we couldn't resist!

As with the Majestic wine I'll blog tasting notes and reviews on Cuvée Reserve.

Fine Wines Direct UK
I didn't expect to come home from Wales with more wine but looking at our collections I'm very glad we did and am looking forward to opening a few new discoveries!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

A weekend in Guildford

Our reason to visit Guildford was to attend Love Wine Festival - a very good afternoon which you can read about in my previous post. We decided to make our stay a long weekend so we could visit the town and stay longer to enjoy the hotel pool and gym.

I was delighted to discover that Majestic Guildford were holding their Old World Showcase on the Friday evening, It's always good to start a weekend with wine! Our hotel, Holiday Inn, was just outside the town centre which was easy to get to by bus, something we don't take very often.

Guildford town centre is a mixture of old and new, But Friday night there wasn't much time to look around .... long enough though to see High Street was on a steep hill! Our choice for dinner was All-Bar-One, a popular place with a retirement party upstairs and a cocktail masterclass in the bar.

We had a lovely meal and as we were going to a wine tasting I started the evening with a Seedlip Garden cocktail. Seedlip make the world's first non-alcoholic spirits. My drink, Seedlip with Fever Tree tonic, was delicious, quite herby and very refreshing.

It was quite a walk to Majestic, the furthest I have been since my accident, good job I had my walking stick. It was a very warm welcome when we arrived, quite a few people there and plenty of Majestic staff to help and advise.

Bollinger special cuvee was our first tasting and what a delicious tasting it was, lovely fine bubbles floating to the surface with a clean citrusy flavour. A very very nice glass of champagne.

There were two white wines: Vaux St George Touraine and Passimento Bianco. It will be no surprise that I favoured the Touraine although the Passimento was very refreshing.

The two reds on offer were Matsu El Picaro and Loron Beaujolais. It was no surprise either that Hubby preferred the Matsu and I the Beaujolais.

The final two wines were both fine wines: Vaucoupin Chablis and Chateau Musar 2006. These were superb, the Chablis so elegant with a richness of peaches with a hint of minerality, and the Chateau Musar just needed a sofa to be scooped up in; plums, licorice, spice .... mmmmm execptionally nice!

Silent Pool Distillers are a Surrey based company specialising in gin, eau de vie and alcoholic cordials; they were also at Majestic for the evening. There are many new gin distillers in the UK with each one having a totally different flavour, Silent Pool was too. I really liked its strong juniper flavour, nice neat but better with tonic. I also tried their alcoholic Strawberry and Gin Cordial .... ohhh just add ice-cream!

Friday night at Majestic was where we first met Jeremy from Surrey Wine School, it was a pleasure to meet him again at Love Wine on Saturday. At Majestic he had four blind tasting and we're always up for a challenge. The first white I knew, definitely German/Alsace but not Gerwurstraminer as there was no Turkish Delight so must be Gruner Veltliner ..... and it was.

After a slightly wrong guess Hubby sussed the second white ... Chenin Blanc. The first red was unmistakably Malbec and being lighter we correctly decided the fourth wine was Pinot Noir. All the wines were in Majestic's Definition range and all very good.

Thank you Jeremy for a great blind tasting, and thank you Majestic Guildford for a lovely evening - hopefully we'll meet again.

Surrey Wine School's blind tastings 

Saturday morning, after a very enjoyable breakfast at the hotel, we again took the bus into Guildford town centre. As I said it is on a hill so lots of steep walking. We wandered around the Castle Gardens, one of the overlooking houses is where Lewis Caroll wrote Alice in Wonderland and there are many reference to Alice and the White Rabbit in the town.

Town Gate
Guildford Castle up on high
I loved all the layers of different stone used in the  castle wall 
Town walls
Castle Gardens
'I'm late, I'm late for a very important date'
Hospital of the Blessed Trinity
The Almshouse in the inner courtyard
Such history 
We had a really nice weekend in Guildford, such a historic town with so much to see and I'm sure we'll be back again.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Love Wine Guildford

After such an enjoyable time at Love Wine Birmingham last November I was very excited to have tickets for their first event in Guildford, a first for us too as we had not visited this Surrey town before - but more about that in a later blog, this is all about the wine !

The one day event Love Wine Guildford was held in the stunning Guildhall, such an amazing building on two floors with wooden panels, plaques and banners.

The exhibitors were on both floors and although a small building there was ample room to move around and plenty of opportunity to chat with the many wine experts including Heather Dougherty and Laura Clay (both UK Champagne Ambassadors) and Master of Wine Richard Bampfield.

Before I begin reminiscing about the superb wines I must just say a huge thank you to Heather and the Love Wine Team, not only for a great day but for allowing me to use some of their photos from the day.

Love Wine's photo collage 
There were so many exhibitors, all so knowledgeable, I could have stayed for the evening session too as everything not only tasted superb but there were so many great background stories and histories of the wines. I've really enjoyed re-reading the leaflets and remembering the great wines we tasted.
So much information 
Mid-way through the afternoon Hubby and I joined a few others on Richard Bampfield's Winewalk where he guided us through four specific wines - two whites and two reds. I'll highlight these within the relevant exhibitor paragraph to give full credit to both Richard and the exhibitor ...

photo from
Simply Wines Direct
.... our first being Barwell & Jones where Richard's featured wine was Esporao Branco, a Portugeuse white wine full of apricots and grapefruit.

This wine is barrel fermented giving it great depth and a long finish. It also has a hint of minerality which comes from the volcanic rocky soil, the main feature of it's striking label.

Barwell & Jones also had a lovely Cava, Perelada Reserva full of rosy apples with a yeasty kick, made in the traditional method this Cava was dry but well balanced, lively bubbles and a lasting finish, very enjoyable.

Although the next stand Walkabout Wines are geographically miles away -Australia but not the coast, the high altitude Southern Highlands producing cool climate wine.

Walkabout Wine leaflet
Another sparkling wine caught my eye, Centennial Blanc de Blanc made of course from 100% Chardonnay.

These grapes are hand pruned and cropped; again produced using the traditional method this glass of bubbles is very elegant with lovely grapefruit/citrus notes.

Walkabout Wines' Centennial Reserve Pinot Gris was very refreshing and Hubby enjoyed their Reserve Tempranillo. The other brand they were exhibiting was Southern Highland Wines (SHW) Oldbury Reserve with a lovely Riesling and Pinot Noir.

Our next visit was to Italy with Arthouse Wine - again so many gorgeous wines, one of which had a Love Wine Heart donating a favourite choice. Etna Bianco is from, as it suggests, Mount Etna. A super straw yellow in colour with floral aromas and peachy flavours this wine has a subtle minerality from its volcanic location. It was certainly a favourite for me too.

photo from The Gin Kitchen

Pausing slightly from wine it was time for a G&T - Summer Gin by Dancing Dragontail and Winter Gin by Gutsy Monkey both from The Gin Kitchen.

It was quite a surprise at how different and perfect each was for the stated time of year, light and floral in the summer, spicier and warming in the winter, two great G&Ts.

Back on the wine trail with Les Caves de Pyrene and an orange wine, no that isn't a typo there really was an orange wine. La Stoppa, Emilia 'Ageno' from Italy was amber in colour with an abundance of peaches and apricots. It had quite a heady aroma and was unlike any wine I had tasted before with a intense spiciness on the finish.

Les Caves de Pyrene also exhibited Richard's first red wine choice from a producer who had been highlighted on The Wine Show - Pheasant's Tears. The red focused here was their Saperavi, a Georgian grape full of dark berries, licorice and smokey notes. It was a superb red from a country I discovered at Love Wine Birmingham and will be featuring here too, keep reading!

The second white on Richard's Winewalk was from Joie de Vin who had a wonderful collection of French wine - I'm always drawn and again did not want to leave.

Dom de la Grange Touraine Chenonceaux was not only a hearted favourite in the brochure and Richard's other white wine, it was my 'best in show', absolutely superb.

Joie de Vin also had a very good Ch Montfin Cuvee Margot and back to bubbles Dom des Pampres D'Or Cremant de Bourgogne - I really could have chatted and tasted at this stand all afternoon.

Our final wine on the Winewalk was Kanonkop Kadette from Raisin Social. A blend of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from South Africa this deep red was full of dark berries, coffee and chocolate - I just needed a sofa to sink into.

Thank you Richard for a very informative Winewalk - it was so interesting to learn more about the specific wines.

Winewalk with Richard Bampfield

The Wine Society
And so to the upper floor where I discovered our known wine chaps at The Wine Society. We've been members for a few years now.

They had some great wines including:

La Clape Arpége Chateau Rouquette sur Mer from France,
Concho Y Toro Corte Ignacio Rapel Coastal Sauvignon Blanc from Chile
Kipu Mendoza Malbec from Argentina.

Georgian Wine Club
Far too many good wines to mention; it was impossible to taste them all.

Another known exhibitor was Georgian Wine - I was amazed at the new flavours in their wines at Birmingham and I was surprised again.

It is so interesting to hear about how they make their wine using amphoras, clay vessels submerged in the ground. This form of wine making dates back to Neolithic times making this method over 8,000 years old.

All the Georgian wine was lovely but I especially liked their white Badagoni Mitsvane and red Badagoni Mukuzani.

Bolney Wine Estate

There is no better way to finish a wine tasting event than with a glass of bubbles; well ok to start, to have midway too but Bolney Wine Estate English sparkling wine was a super finale to our afternoon.

Jeremy Blood 
Bolney Wine Estate had a very good Bacchus white wine full of gooseberry, green apple and elderflower but for me their bubbly was best and it was hard to choose which one I preferred.

Blanc de Noir 2015, Cuvee Rose 2014 and Bolney Bubbly were all superb, great bubbles, plenty of flavour, not too dry or too sweet, all three were as I said superb.

As well as wine there was cheese, charcuterie ,wine gifts and Surrey Wine School. We had met Jeremy, and his blind tastings, the night before - more about this in my next blog.

It's a shame we don't live nearby as he holds many tasting events, I've quite envious of Surrey folk.

Love Wine Guildford was a great event - thank you to all the exhibitors 


It was a superb afternoon with an added bonus of meeting one of my forum members. Cuvée Reserve is a wine forum for discussing wine from anywhere - I started it in April 2014 and the members have built up quite a Library of wine reviews.

Ian, Nick and I - Cuvée Reserve Members
As I said it was lovely to finally meet Ian, especially at such a great event in such a great setting - all three of us agreed it was a superb day,

 A huge thank you to Heather, Laura, Richard and the Love Wine Team.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Chateau Hearnden

Rhubarb Wine
Dandelion Wine
Wine is my hobby .... and not just drinking it but making it too. Before our children were born I made wine every year but this lapsed over time. 

In 2014 I started my hobby again, very successful but I didn't make any more ... I still have three bottles of my 2014 vintage !!

I made Rhubarb with some fruit a friend gave me from their allotment; Dandelion for which I picked a gallon of dandelion heads and boiled them (the things I do for my art) and Elderflower which also involved picking a gallon of flowers. 

Elderflower Wine
Final trio
My final three bottles have been sitting in a hessian bag for the last year - not my usual way of storing wine but they were ready to be tasted at the Cuvée Reserve Wine Weekend last April in Stratford-upon-avon. 

Unfortunately the weekend did not go to plan and although plenty of wine was enjoyed by others I was the one plastered and my wine came back home. 

So it is ready .... and I hope not over ready... for this year's Cuvée Reserve Wine Weekend which is at the end of April in Somerset. 

So it seemed an appropriate time to start making some more, it's not dandelion, rhubarb or elderflower season just yet so I made a wine from TEA !! When I made this years ago our neighbour underestimated it's strength.... hopefully this will be as good :)

A month to stew - looks so inviting !!
Time to transfer -
no better way to spend a snow day 
It's bubble time :) 
The book I use for my recipes is very special to me - it belonged to my Grandad who made lots of wine.....but didn't always leave it to finish before drinking it - he lived to 91 so it couldn't have been so bad.
My Grandad's book - it's in three pieces !!
Over the last year I have become very reliant on a particular bag of frozen peas - they have been in the freezer, on my ankle, back in the freezer, on my ankle many many times. Obviously uneatable but being as it still isn't rhubarb, dandelion or elderflower time I am experimenting - so this month's stew is PEA wine hee hee

I am sure my wine will not be anywhere near the standard of wine we will be enjoying this Saturday at Love Wine Festival in Guildford but it's great fun and who knows maybe Chateau Hearnden will be famous one day !

Thursday, 15 March 2018

A Variety at Home

Can you every have too many bottles of wine .... not drink too many but own too many? Hubby and I seem to be collecting, and it's not such a bad hobby to have until it's time to decide which one to enjoy.

We've been out and about this last week and our current purchases have been from both small wine stores and large supermarkets, as well as too additions being gifts. Our first purchases were from Slurp in Leamington Spa. I've been popping into this wine shop for many years when visiting the South Warwickshire town; previously S H Jones. 

It was at one of their Wine Tasting Events we first met Matthew Jukes in 2013. A very good evening it was too, a tasting of his top 100 Australian Wines. 

It's name may have changed but the shop is still full of wines you rarely find in the supermarkets but are still at reasonable prices. Laid out by country I try to avoid the pull of the French shelves: it doesn't work, I love looking at which wines and producers are available. 

This visit however I was firmly drawn to the Australia reds and in particular Little Yering Shiraz. This is a wine we have only seen in All Bar One where it is a real treat as it's quite pricey.

I was almost jumping up and down in delight to find it retail; I cannot actually find it online any more. It isn't in All Bar One's wine library and isn't in Slurp's online shop, in fact it doesn't seem to exist anywhere but my wine rack!

If my memory serves me well it is a deep dark red wine, with a nose full of dark fruits, a hint of spice and an abundant mouth of sour cherries - tastings notes will be made when the cork is popped! 

A great red at great price - £9.95

Our other purchase from Slurp was a Spanish red Hubby had seen in Penarth but thought the price a little high. With Cien Y Pico being on offer at £10.50 it seemed a shame to leave it behind and certainly worth a tasting. 

This is Hubby's review posted on Cuvée Reserve Wine Forum

From hundred and something year old Garnacha Tintorera vines, grown in hot South Eastern La Mancha region of  Spain, this is a beauty. Deep red violet colour, huge dollops of fruit and intense grenache spicey nose. Taste is intense and multilayered too, lovely oakiness, smooth and silky, lots of blackberries damsons, concentrated flavours that seem to go on giving for ages. Might not be too all tastes but very nice in my opinion, worth every penny. 

Not my style of wine but I did enjoy the small glass I had, it wasn't too oaky or tannic. I'm sure if we see it again Hubby will be tempted, especially if around £10.

It's always nice to receive wine as a gift and it doesn't have to be an expensive bottle. I know friends have said they shy away from buying us wine in case 'it isn't right' but whatever the gift it is a chance to enjoy and discover more. 

The two wines we received this week were old favourites - firstly our son gave me a bottle of Picpoul de Pinet as part of my Mothers Day gift.

Picpoul de Pinet is one of my favourite wines from South France, last year we were actually staying in the area of Pinet and enjoyed discovering more about this superb wine. 

We have been drinking it for many years, especially if having mussels for dinner but previously we had to bring it home from our holidays in France. Over recent years it has been discovered by the UK wine buyers and is now available in most supermarkets. 

A great value white from Asda at under £7.00

Les Dauphins is one of our favourite red wines from the Cotes du Rhone region, again we have visited the region and in 2016 enjoyed a private tasting with  the producers, Cellier des Dauphins.

So imagine our delight when the other gift received this week was a Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone Reserve. 

This Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre wine is a delight on it's own, superb with a rich meat dish and fabulous with cheese - in other words anytime !!

It's full of fruit with peppery highlights, a smooth medium/full bodied wine that always delivers a 'mmmmm' moment.

Over the last few years Les Dauphins wine has become easier to find with their white,red and rose being available in most supermarkets. Waitrose also stock Les Dauphins Blanc de Blanc a superb sparkling wine for the summer. 

The final two wines to be added to our rack are both previously unknown to us. The first was spotted in Lidl on offer at under £6 - always draws the eye. 

I have not tried many Greek wines and certainly not a Moschofilero so I am looking forward to trying this. 

The other 'new' wine is this month's tasting recommendation on Cuvée Reserve - Terre di Faiano Organic Primivito. A Waitrose wine currently on offer at £7.49 that I am also looking forward to as Primivito is one of my favourite Italian grapes.

Each month one of our members nominates a wine that is under £10 and available from a main supermarket. It is great fun each month to try something new and read other's opinions on the same wine; reviews are posted after the 20th of each month. 

I'm not sure which of the above wines will be opened over the weekend but whichever it is will bring enjoyment; either an old favourite or a new discovery. 

The following weekend we will be discovering more about wine as we are staying in Guildford for a mini break and we have tickets for Love Wine Festival on Saturday 24th March. 

I am very much looking forward to this event, especially after such a good time at their event in Birmingham last year.

I'm sure with our recent additons and a great weekend to enjoy we are quite safe from this awful condition - I sincerely hope you are too, cheers !