Dr Loosen Comes To Chelsea

Regulars will know that Last Drop Wines on the Kings Rd is one of my favourite wine shops in London so when Andrea, the owner, invited me to cook for a wine dinner she was hosting I jumped at the chance.

Dr Loosen Wines, 31 Days of German Riesling

Wines were all from the prestigious Dr Loosen Estate in Mosel showcasing traditional Riesling as part of the 31 Days of German Riesling so the menu had to match.

Chelsea Garden, 31 days of German Riesling

We were very fortunate to be offered a lovely private courtyard garden just off the Kings Rd and although it was Wimbledon week the weather stayed dry.

Guests were served Dr Loosen Sekt as aperitif followed by

 Asparagus, Radish, Buttermilk, Toasted Rye

Urziger Wurzgarten 2015

 Hake, Pea, Smoked Eel Broth

Erdener Treppchen 2015 & 2005

 Moroccan Chicken, Cauliflower Cous Cous, Kale

Red Slate 2015

 Cheese Pear & Honey

 Grilled Peach, Cherry, Elderflower

Wehlener Sonnenhur Auslese 2015

 

Matt Giedraitis, Dr Loosen Wines, 31 Days of German Riesling

Matt Giedraitis, the export director, from the Dr Loosen Estate was on hand to talk us through the wines, informative and entertaining.

Fraulein Andrea living the dream 31 Days of German Riesling

The evening was hosted by Andrea from Last Drop wines whose dressing up box covers most of the major wine growing areas of the world so the Rhine Valley wasn’t much of a challenge.

Prussian Vineyard Classification 1868

Wine buffs will know that Mosel was largely unaffected by the phylloxera outbreak that devastated most of the vineyards in Europe in the 1870’s so some of these vines are very old indeed. Star wine of the night was definitely the Erdener Treppchen. Best food/wine pairing Moroccan Chicken, Cauliflower Cous Cous & Kale with the Red Slate 2015.

 Andrea hosts regular Tuesday evening tastings in the shop so contact Last Drop Wines for details of future tastings and the next wine dinner.

 

Great Wines for Under £20

Having been spoilt last week with a visit to Robert Parkers Matter of Taste event in Covent Garden where I had the opportunity to taste many once in a lifetime wines way out of my budget I have been looking at everyday wines that we can all access for under £20. There are so many wine stores now, supermarkets, online, independent retailers, wine clubs etc….. too much choice. I have my own favourite wine shops in London but many of us buy wine as part of our weekly supermarket shop so to kick off I have selected one supermarket and 1 independent retailer but there are plenty more.

For me Waitrose probably has the best supermarket wine department and even the small stores carry some good bottles. Bigger stores offer a great selection and carry a fine wine section too.

Here are few recommendations under £20 currently available.

White Wines

Zind Humbrecht French White £17.99

Blended Alsace wine from one of the great houses.

Catena Chardonnay Argentina £12.99

Bold oak aged Chardonnay, they make great reds too

Cune Barrel fermented White Rioja £8.24

Traditional White Rioja always good

Red Wines

 

Michel Rolland Clos de Los Siete, Argentina £15.75

Malbec/Merlot Blend

1st Press Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, USA £17.99

Powerful California Cabernet

Guigal Cote de Rhone, France £10.99

One of the great producers in the Rhone Valley Syrah/Grenache

Valdivieso Merlot, Chile £12.49

Solid fruit driven Merlot from this very reliable new world producer

 

One of my favourite stand alone wine shops is Last Drop Wines on the Kings Rd. Andrea selects all the wines personally, cares about every aspect of her business and has some great wines under £20.

She also holds regular Tuesday evening tutored tastings.

 

White Wines

Graham Beck Brut NV South Africa £13.99

Exceptional value Sparkling Wine

Gentil 2012, Hugel Alsace £14.99

A timeless blend of regional varieties great with food or without

Vouvray, Marc Bredif 2012 £15.99

Often overlooked old master of Chenin Blanc

Red Wines

Colonial Estate Old Vine Shiraz, 2011 Australia £13.99

Rich fruit driven old vine Shiraz

Chateau Barde-Haut, 2006 St Emilion, France £19.99

Good quality claret with some decent bottle age at an affordable price

This is just a taster, there are plenty more and most wine shops are very helpful these days with well trained staff on hand to offer advice and guidance. Some have online chat facilities on their website (Oddbins) to help you choose depending on style of wine, budget etc.

Prices correct at the time of publishing

Corks Photo by Elisha Terada 

 

 

My Favourite Wine Shops

wine rackSupermarkets have totally changed the way we buy alcohol. The booze section in my local Sainsbury takes up 3 aisles, is located near the entrance and the choice is MASSIVE. It is so easy to pick up a bottle of wine (Gin or beer) with your other shopping and there are always deals and bargains. BUT as a discerning drinker, without a huge budget, I rarely find anything I fancy. Waitrose probably have the most interesting supermarket wine shelf.

There are plenty of independent wine shops offering great products at sensible prices. They do not provide the convenience of supermarkets, unless you happen to live next door, but have more interesting wines (beers & spirits) knowledgeable staff and a more enjoyable shopping experience. Here are a few of my favourites in London.

The Samplersampler

This has to be top of my list. there are 2 shops, South Ken & Islington, but the Kensington branch is by far the best. They operate a sampling system where you buy wine credits on a card and can then taste wines. There are usually about 80 to choose from and some of them are once in a lifetime opportunities. Today they have Chateau Margaux 1924 & 1959, Haut Brion 1989 and Penfolds Grange Bin 95 2002. These are not cheap as you can imagine and there are plenty of more affordable samples too but it is difficult not to try one when you are browsing other wines. Sampler’s strength is independent growers and there is lots on the shelf you will never have heard of. Staff are very knowledgeable, not pushy and let you browse at your own pace. The range of growers Champagne is exceptional.

I bought some 4 Kilos and Domaine of the Bee on my last visit. They also stock Zalto glasses (simply the best) and have a cafe/bar down stairs. The only problem with this shop is that I always end up spending more than I planned.

35 Thurloe Place SW7 2HP

266 Upper Street N1 2UQ

 

last dropLast Drop Wines

This stand alone, owner run, old style wine shop is the perfect antidote to supermarket shopping. Andrea knows her wines and her customers, picks all the wines personally and cares about every aspect of her business. The wines are very well displayed and easy to navigate. She always has some older vintages (claret especially) and a good choice of magnums and stickies.IMG_1952

Prices are very good.There are regular informal wine tastings and events, usually with some delicious canapés. I wish I lived nearer!

492 Kings Road  SW10 0LE

 

 

PhilglasPhilglas & Swiggot

Another great owner run wine shop with more than one branch. Phil & Swig is where I buy most of my wine as it is quite close to home. They have a good choice from all over the world, South Africa is particularly strong with some great wines from Argentina and Italy too. Good selection of spirits, single malts, micro-beers etc. Last visit I bought some Pulenta Gran Corte,(delicious and very good value) and some old school Gewurztraminer from Rolly Gassman.

They have spent a lot of time and money on the website that is excellent, easy to navigate with good photos of the wines. Also stock Reidel & Zalto glasses with some great decanters and wine accessories.

22 New Quebec Street, W1H 7SB

64 Hill Rise ,Richmond, TW10 6UB

21 Northcote Road, SW11 1NG

Others worth a visit

berry brosBerry Brothers & Rudd. An institution and still fabulous with some good value case discounts if you are buying in bulk.

 

 

 

dvineDVine Wines. Boutique wine shop with a nice little wine bar too. Tasting system in place so you can try before you buy.

 

 

 

bottle apostleBottle Apostle. Several branches, lots of choice, excellent website with tasting notes etc + regular events & pop ups.

 

 

 

vagaboindVagabond. Award-winning wine bar and shop, always something interesting, lovely staff.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate….A Matter of Taste…

Saatchi GalleryAlthough recently retired Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate self appointed wine guru lives on and had a showcase tasting at London Saatchi Gallery on Saturday. With over 600 wines and 900 visitors this was a major tasting event the entry qualifications were simple, all wines boasted a minimum of 90 Parker points.

Quite a show. The entire catalogue was available online so before visiting I shortlisted a selection of wines to taste. On arrival registration was all very quick , quite how the cloakroom attendant managed is a mystery, but navigating the catalogue and tables not so simple. Finding wines in the list when you were at a table or the location specific wines from the list proved quite difficult. This made it more and more complicated to create your own tasting notes on wines and after a while I left the catalogue, browsed wines freely and kept my own notes. This did result in me missing wines I had preselected for tasting notably the excellent Gonzales Byass range from Spain and the whole of Alsace!!!

CatalogueAll the wines were of an exceptional standard though the allocation of Parker points became a major subject for discussion. I tasted a Viognier from Australia (93) that was fresh, full of fruit, clearly Viognier but rather 2 dimensional with no subtleties or prospect to evolve followed by Jaboulet Condrieu 2012 (91) that was rich, complex, oaky, seductive and magnificent, I know which I prefer.

In general the old world exhibitors were showing older vintages, Gassin 2005, La Fleur de Petrus 2009, La Lagune 2004 and the New World the current release, nearly all the Aussie reds were 2012. The effect of bottle age was very clear. Having said that the best part of the day for me was definitely the Penfold table. 11 wines, some older vintages and a very knowledgeable team. Not having tasted Grange before they took me through a tutored introduction to Penfolds tasting 5 wines from the table starting with Bin 28, through Bin 389 and RWT and finishing with Grange 2009 (97). Thank you to Rohan Anderson for your time and attention especially with 900 other people queuing up for a slurp.

Next-door was Wynns Riddock also a strong table with Messenger 2010 (92)the clear winner. Other Aussie that showed well were Torbreck Descendant 2010 (96) and Run Rig (100)…Where do you go after that?

Other wines I really enjoyed were Elio Grasso Barolo (95), Harlan Estate Red (98+), Kistler Pinot Noir (90) and Shafer Stags Leap 2002 (100). From France La Lagune 2004 (90) in Jereboam, La Fleur Petrus 2009 (97), Jaboulet Pape de Terre 2010 (94), Remoissenet Mersault Blagny 2012 (91), were all excellent, some stunning Tokay Essencia 2007 (99) just released and still without a label and my personal favourite from the day Nicolas Catena Zapata 2004 (98+).

There were disappointments too, wines I had enjoyed in years past that I was keen to catch up with. Quinta de la Rosa 2012 (92) was one….. it just seemed flat and dull. I am sure if I was enjoying supper with friends this wine would have been delicious, Chapoutier Hermitage Blanc Chante Allouette 2013 (93)  and Pichon Longueville 2005 (94) also had a bad day.Pichon Longueville 2005

Maybe these wines were just overshadowed by the sheer weight of quality on offer…. who knows …..we were certainly by-passing so many outstanding wines …..but there just wasn’t time to taste everything.

Another major plus was the ambience. 900 people all swirling, sniffing and spitting out on 3 floors can be quite intimidating and previous experience of large trade tastings has not always been positive, they can be over crowded, quite aggressive, making the wines difficult to enjoy. This wasn’t like that at all ….a good mix of people, all interested in wine, yes a few big names from the trade were there of course but there seemed to be plenty of time to talk to growers and other tasters. I was lucky enough to spend time with Laura Catena, Emma Cullen, Elio Grasso and others ..thank you all for your time.

Retail merchants were also on duty notable Yapp Brothers, Farr Vintners, Liberty and Justerini & Brooks. In addition to the fantastic selection of wines there were also tutored master classes available covering Consummate Chardonnay, Dominus Estate, Chapoutier and Penfolds plus others but these were all extra…and we didn’t really need them……there was so much choice.

All in all a fabulous day with outstanding wines and the opportunity to talk to growers and listen to them describing their work and wines with such passion.

Finally a massive thank you to brother Matthew for getting me a ticket…

 

4 Kilos & Bonny Doon

2 awesome wines on the list tonight.  I always keep an eye out for both of these  whenever I am in any wine shop. Bonny Doon Cigare Volant is a masterpiece by wine maker Randall Grahm, Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Cinsault. One of the best things to come out of Santa Cruz and a tribute to Hermitage  La Chapelle.

4 Kilos is massive mouthful of wine from  Francesc Grimalt and Sergio Caballero  in Mallorca, just magic and impossible to describe. Labels change every year and are always eye catching and arty. Their second wine 12 Volts is also well worth seeking out and a bit easier to find.

Bonny Doon le Cigare Volant from Berry Brothers & Rudd

4 Kilos from The Sampler, Kensington.

4 Kilos & Bonny Doon