Chateau de Beaucastel

Chateau de Beaucastel can be found in the north-east of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, where their 100 hectares of goblet trained vines stand in the sun-baked, galet covered soils. Evidence of the chateau dates back to 1549 and to this day has been family owned and operated.

Beaucastel farm organically, and have for many years, with a push towards biodynamics. They have never taken the easy option in terms of vine management, or winemaking processes. And their experience, strong values and hard work all shine through in the quality and beauty of their wines.

As we were taken through the winery, it was incredible to see the precision of processes, cleanliness of environment, and beauty of the space. If I was a grape, I would love for my conversion to juice and wine to take place there.

If you were thinking of visiting Beaucastel, you may be out of luck. They unfortunately aren’t open to the public and only take in a few pre-arranged visits each year. Basically they are too busy producing great wine. However you can experience their wines, which are available in the UK, at Berry Brothers or Seckford Wines. If quality smooth, sumptuous reds or textured and layered whites are your tipple, then sampling Beaucastel is essential.

Please click on the pictures below for more details:


Exploring Italy – Corvina

For week two of our discover Italy course we were off to the north-east of this wonderous country, mainly focusing our attentions on and around the region of Veneto.

Corvina is a red grape variety that makes up the majority of the blend in wines from Valpolicella and Bardolino. However the styles of wines it produces are vast and delicious. From light, crisp and refreshing reds, to dense, rich and deep styles, Corvina offers something for everyone.

Food pairings:

Bardolino and Valpolicella – as these wines have high acidity and are refreshingly light, they pair well with high acid dishes. So basically anything tomato based – how convenient for Italian wine!

  • Charcuterie
  • Pizza
  • Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Amarone – with its rich texture, soft acidity and dried fruit flavours, Amarone is super with strong cheeses, bitter chocolate dishes, or mains that echo the wines’ dried fruit flavours.

  • Stilton and vintage cheddar
  • Chocolate torte or fondant
  • Lamb shank tajine

On the white wine front, the north of Italy has a delicious range to get stuck into that doesn’t include Pinot Grigio.

Please click on the pictures below for tasting notes and stockists.

M&S Spring Wine Range

What I admire about M&S is that they don’t always play it safe. They have introduced some slightly more off-piste wines into their range this Spring, giving their customers the chance to try something new.

For Prosecco fans there’s a Brazilian Glera alternative – the Vinicola Salton ‘Riosecco’ for £9. Also from Brazil, if you like perfumed and floral wines, check out the Miolo ‘Araucaria’ Riesling-Pinot Grigio for £9.

The English wine range is strong and rather broad, with some delicious rose’s, perfect for summer sipping. As well as a superb Pinot Blanc by Stopham Estate and a classy light red from Maud Heath.

The USA range is fun and worth checking out, with some interesting blends at very fair prices from New York State.

Please click on the pics below for further information.

Exploring Italy – Dolcetto

Over the next four weeks we’ll be exploring Italy at work, so I thought I would let you in on some Italian wine treats that I recommend wine lovers get stuck into.

First up is Dolcetto. A beautiful red grape from the Monferrato Hills of north-west Italy.

Dolcetto is best suited to those that like red wines with reasonable acidity, a darker and savoury fruit profile and moderate tannins. This is not a rich, full, smooth wine. There’s noticeable crunchy fruit and savoury spice here, which lifts the wine.

Food pairings:

  • Aubergine bake with a herby tomato sauce
  • Spaghetti bolognese (obvious but has to be said)
  • Roast lamb with lots of wild herbs

Where you can find the G.D Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba:



Back in Blighty

It now seems like ages ago that I was stomping my way around a winery in Marlborough. They say the best way to fight the jet lag is to keep moving and busy. So with that in mind I hopped right back into work and presented at the West London Wine School Syrah grape debate last Tuesday evening. Hence the purple glow around my gums. Such an attractive look people, you must try it.

#NZV16 the finale

It’s with a slightly sad heart that I post my final blog for the #NZV16 series. The last two months have been incredible and I can’t express how lucky I feel to have been a part of such a wonderful team.

Thanks to all of you readers out there who have joined me for the highs, as well as the odd low. It’s been a huge learning experience and I’m pleased I put myself up for it and put my life onto a temporary alternative path. It’s back to London on Sunday and straight back into wine teaching. I will be sure to post some London wine video adventures for you all.

Will I do another vintage? Absolutely. Burgundy watch out! I will be coming your way…just need to brush up on the French first.

A huge thanks to everyone who has made the journey so memorable. Below are a few picks from our vintage bash as well as the last couple of days. Please feel free to click on them for more details.

#NZV16 Day 54

I just had to squeeze in one more winery! Even if it meant a 35km round trip bike ride, it was well worth it.

Seresin are outstanding artisan producers who have been crafting wine for 20 years and certified biodynamic for the last 10.

Being shown the compost heap may not be most peoples idea of the best way to kick off a tour, however with Seresin, the compost is a great example of the estates’ philosophy. Giving back to the land, utilizing every part of the grape and nurturing the soil.

Whilst I was biking back to Blenheim, it really felt like I’d been visiting a farm rather than a winery. Our hosts spoke so passionately about the land and their biodynamic processes, it was inspiring to be around and the wines reflected this passion and hard work.

There are treats at the cellar door to sample that you may not find yet in stores, which makes Seresin a must visit when you’re in Marlborough.

Please click on the photos below for more information on the wines.