Hugel 2005 Tradition Pinot Gris

Hugel Pinot Gris Tradition 2005Last week I was fortunate enough to attend a dinner at Turner’s Restaurant, Harbourne, Birmingham, held by The Pershore Wine Society, of which I am a member. The dinner was a prepared by Chef Richard Turner, and wines were selected by Connolly’s of Birmingham. These dinners are a wonderful opportunity to try many different types of wine outside your normal range and this evening was no exception. One match was a marriage made in heaven – the wine was superb. It was matched with a Terrine of Smoked Ham Hock and Fois Gras served with pickled Beetroot and Sour Dough Toast. The wine was an unusual choice to go with such a variety of flavors, a Pinot Gris from Alsace, Hugel’s ‘Tradition’ 2005.

The 2005 vintage was described by Hugel on their website as follows “Everything indicates that 2005 will be a great vintage. Grapes were healthy and ripe, balanced by excellent acidity. The wines confirm our early optimism, showing great aromatic purity and class on a par with the finest vintages.” I have to say that their optimism was well founded!

Some of the grapes for the ‘Tradition’ range are purchased from growers under long–term contract to Hugel, the rest coming from their own estate. After pressing the must is decanted and left for a few hours before being fermented in temperature controlled barrels at around 18º – 24ºC. The wine is racked once, undergoing natural clarification during the cooler winter. In the spring the wine is lightly filtered before bottling and aging.

The resulting wine was a pale yellow color which had great depth and was most attractive to the eye. The first impression of Continue reading Hugel 2005 Tradition Pinot Gris

Choosing A Wine Rack

I am currently looking for some new wine racks, matter of some importance as you can imagine! How you store your wine is most important. Like any consumable item, if it isn’t kept properly, it won’t be at it’s best when you come to drink it. Whilst screw caps are becoming more popular, most wine is still closed with corks and they need to be kept damp if the wine is to preserved. This means you need to store it on it’s side, and what better place than an elegant wine rack. To my mind it adds to the pleasure of wine drinking. Choosing a WIne rack is ot just a matter of space, but also of practicality, style, function and price.

I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the site for Just Wine Racks – they have an excellent selection but also a very good page on the factors you should bear in mind when choosing your wine rack. The range and variety that they have on offer is such that you will find something to suit you, whatever your needs. Needless to say I shall be spending some time enjoying browsing through the selection before making my choice.

Asparagus and Wine

It is often hard to find the right types of wine to go with foods that have a short season. You have no sooner tried a couple than the season is over before you have really had time to experiment. One of my favourite foods falls into this category. I love English Asparagus, especially that which comes from the Vale Of Evesham. It’s not that pale wishy washy blanched variety that you see around, but a rich bright green, with a subtle and delicate flavour that could easily be overpowered by many wines.

There is a wonderful book, A Passion For Asparagus, by Chris Sheehan which gives some guidance – along with more information about Asparagus than you would have thought possible! He suggests a crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio which will cope well with the flavours of the Asparagus. I have to agree with his comments that anything oaked would be disastrous, and I certainly wouldn’t risk a Chardonnay – it would overpower the Asparagus completely. My own favourite choice would be a Pouilly Fume. The gunflint nose and mineral notes in the wine would enhance the flavour of the luscious ‘Gras’ as it is known in the Vale. I do have to confess to a slight prejudice – it is probably my favourite white wine, and the fact that it goes so well with one of my favourite foods is an added bonus. A word of warning though, if you are putting a rich sauce with the Asparagus, choose a wine that goes with that, for example a Hollandaise Sauce would almost curdle in your mouth with Pouilly Fume, but a good Sancerre from the other side of the Loire would match well.

Chris’s book can be obtained by clicking here if you also have A Passion For Asparagus.

Good Wine and Bad Wine

When you first start to really think about the wine you are drinking and to take it a little more seriously there is a huge temptation to become a wine ‘geek’ and dismiss anything that is not to your personal taste.  I take the view that there is no such thing as a bad wine (unless it’s corked, of course) just a wine that is not to my taste.  We had a classic example of that at our Wine Society meeting the other week when one of the members presented a Chilean Wine which some of our members thoroughly enjoyed – indeed it would not have been chosen unless it was a favourite of the lady who presented it.  However it did produce something of a shock because, for the first time in all the years I have been a member of this group I actually spat out a wine because to me, it was horrid.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the wine.  It was well made, just not to my taste.  Much like a friend of mine who has an eclectic taste in wine – as long as it’s not Malbec, she can spot even the tiniest percentage at a thousand paces, yet she would tell you she can’t differentiate between grape varieties.  There is nothing wrong with it, she just doesn’t like it.  Like any food or drink there are some we like and some we don’t.  Wine is no different so don’t be tempted to dismiss a wine just because someone else doesn’t like it – it might not be to their taste – but it could be just the wine you have been searching for all your life!

Cabernet Sauvignon

Among all the Grape varieties Cabernet Sauvignon is regarded as one of the finest.  It is relatively small, black and thick. The thickness of the skin makes it somewhat resistant to disease and extreme weather conditions such as heavy rains, however it needs warm climates as it is a late ripening grape and even it’s ‘homeland’ of the Medoc it sometimes does not ripen fully.  However when it does ripen it makes a truly splendid wine such that is often called the King of Red Grapes.  It is grown throughout the world but is undoubtedly at it’s finest in the rich and complex Bordeaux Wines, closely followed by the rapidly improving Chilean and Argentinian single varietal wines not to mention those of California.

The nose is Blackcurrants and red fruits with a hint of spice in the background, sometimes almost herbal. When blended it goes almost ‘jammy’, like preserved fruits and makes your mouth water with anticipation. It has high levels of Tannin which give it the aging potential demonstrated by the great wines of Bordeaux.  Aged in new oak barrels it develops over a period of months and, in my view, should never be drunk too young as it will generally continue to mature for several years both in the barrel and the bottle.

Often blended to bring out the richness of flavours and balance the early tannins it goes well with Merlot and Cabernet Franc producing a wine that is easy to drink and enjoyable.  As a single varietal wine I would be loathe to drink Cabernet Sauvignon without some food to accompany it, perhaps a rich pate or a good meaty dish but when blended it produces a delicious and drinkable wine that goes down well with or without food.

Windows On The World Complete Wine Course – 2008

complete-wine-course.jpgWindows on the World Complete Wine Course: 2008 Edition is simply the bestselling wine book in North America—it’s a classic. The 2007 edition alone has sold over 100,000 copies and reorders continue to pour in. Along with the expanded text that has made last year’s update so successful, the 2008 revision will include a special 16-page supplement on “How to Taste Wine,” taken directly from Kevin’s world-famous class. This new material will include more than 100 wines that Zraly selects for his students to taste, along with the tasting sheet they use for their evaluations. Organized by region, from simple to complex, his list begins with white wines from France, the U.S., and Germany; moves on to the red wines of Burgundy and the Rhône, Bordeaux, the U.S., Italy, Australia, Argentina, and Chile; and concludes with champagnes and ports. By following Kevin’s order, readers will experience the best wines and the wide diversity of taste, style, region, and country. It’s not only a comprehensive and bargain-priced hands-on wine education, but a superb catalog from which to start a wine cellar or find a bottle appropriate to any occasion. In addition, the label for each of the 101 wines is shown, along with commentary on how to read it, suggestions for alternative wines, and specific instructions on how to set up a tasting using Kevin’s techniques. This is the first time Kevin’s actual list has ever been offered in book form and it alone is worth the cover price of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course.
Of course, as always, this unequaled volume retains all the invaluable information, fabulous illustrations, and gorgeous styling of the previous editions—all presented in Zraly’s inimitable, irreverent style. This is the wine guide against which all others are judged.

Reviews:- Kevin Zraly’s Windows on the World Complete Wine Course is considered a classic among amateur grape geeks (like me). The 2007 edition sold over 100,000 copies. Zraly uncorks the mysteries of wine with his trusted “wine course.” The comprehensive 2008 update is informative in the areas of wine tasting, selection, regions, and countries (from France to Chile), and also includes recommendations and advice on selecting a wine in an often complex market further complicated by the Internet. While this course may not qualify you to become a sommelier, it will definitely improve your knowledge and credentials as an amateur oeniphile, and should be considered an excellent starting point for any wine connoisseur. G Merrit

I absolutely love this book. Incredibly informative and broken out so that you don’t find yourself overwhelmed by all the vast information available in the wine world. I knew a little bit about wine before this book, and my knowledge has increased dramatically after reading this book. This is a must have for anyone with an interest in wine. – nq

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