I’ve just returned from a whistle stop tour of France’s wine regions, it felt like ALL of the regions but to those we missed – we’ll be back!

I wanted to say hello to winemakers, find out about the crop (the Loire had just started picking, other vineyards half way through the vintage) and taste our Extra Special and exclusive wines.

2014 is looking good in France (and much, much better than 2013) so I’m really looking forward to some lovely bottles arriving in Asda shops in the Spring.

Philippa at Domaines Brocard

We called in at family-owned producer Domaines Brocard who have been supplying us with Extra Special Chablis for years and years and here is a photo of me with Julien Brocard in his ‘experimental cellar’ (note the egg shaped fermentation vats, how cool are they?) together with Jack and Ed from the Wine Team. We’re beaming because we’re about to taste about a dozen Premier and Grand Cru Chablis, at half past nine in the morning. All in a day’s work, folks…

Star Whites

Extra Special Chablis, Domaine de la Levee 2013 – available in store

I love Brocard for the minerality in their wines but that wasn’t easy to find in 2013 so getting the blend right was really important. The 2013 Extra Special is a resultant blend of wines from two villages, Chichee and Chapelle – it has richness and smoothness but a zesty crispness as well and it won a Silver Medal this year.

Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2011, Domaines Brocard

A smoky aroma and deliciously stone fruits flavour – a really elegant Chablis and fabulous with seafood.

Posted by Philippa on 10 October 2014

We’ve done it again! Another medal for our beautiful Extra Special Louis Bernard Premier Cru Champagne – and this is a silver!

The awesomely knowledgeable judges at the Champagne & Sparkling World Championships describe our delicious fizz as “stylish, zesty and lively – very long, very fresh, very crisp and nicely dry.”

Extra Special Louis Bernard Premier Cru Champagne

So what are your reasons for opening a lovely chilled bottle of this super-special, silver winning Extra Special Champagne?

My list includes (in no particular order):

  • It’s October and the sun is shining
  • I’ve just got back from a trip to France and the sun was shining (oh, and the grapes were in pretty good shape)
  • Elder Daughter, now in a student house at Uni, is cooking for herself… healthily!
  • I’ve just won another medal for the Premier Cru Champagne
  • It would be rude not to!

Let me know if you like our Champagnes with a comment below!

Posted by Philippa on 03 October 2014

Kon’nichiwa (hello!)

I was tasting some Koshu the other week (Koshu is a distinctly different grape variety grown in Japan) and I know that this will sound really posey, but it just didn’t measure up to the wines I tried whilst visiting Japan a couple of years ago.

Philippa Carr and a sumo wrestler in Japan

My tasting notes from back then refer to a fruity, citrusy style, a bit like Sauvignon Blanc with a hint of peach and that is what I was expecting this time. A shame, because Koshu is most definitely one of those light, refreshing, aromatic white wines which are the Hot New Varietals in the wine world.

So what would I recommend to have instead with sushi, a bento box or maybe sashimi? Here are some ideas from the Wine Shop to entice and excite – all fresh, all a little bit minerally or spicy, all uber-trendy and all light enough not to overwhelm the delicate flavours of Japanese cookery.

Wines to pair with Japanese food

Silver Bullet Laurenz V Gruner Veltliner
A favourite on restaurant wine lists (and can often be spotted in my wine rack at home) Gruner Veltliner is peppery, spicy and refreshing. An Austrian Gem.

Chateau Salmoniere Muscadet de Sevret et Maine Sur Lie 2013
Sadly neglected for a few years, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine is back in vogue – bright and bracing and brilliant with seafood and fish. Would make sushi smile!

Alba Signature Albarino 2012
Practically mainstream, Albarino is a food lover’s dream and our IWC Silver Medal winner from Galicia in North West Spain would taste sensational with sashimi salmon or tuna.

Calvet Pinot Blanc 2013
I’m a huge fan of Alsace wines since first visiting the region in France on my honeymoon and though it might have clouded my judgement a little I’ve never lost my love of their food friendly varietals. Pinot Blanc is a like a gentler, calmer sister to Pinot Grigio – not as crunchy and a lot more floral and peachy. This would say ‘bento box’ to me in almost any language.

Arigato (Thank you!)

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 15 August 2014

Our amazingly good, gold medal winning Koru New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has just won the IWC Great Value Champion White Wine Trophy – and my goodness, aren’t we chuffed!

Koru Sauvignon Black Great Value Champion White Wine

That means it has been voted the very best value white from the whole of the competition and that means awesome quality and a stunning price – just £6, folks! It’s so good that it beat off worthy competition from the likes of Villa Maria at double the price.

So what could be finer than a glass or two of Koru with your barbecue this summer? Sounds good to me!

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 22 July 2014

Recently we’ve been busy swirling, sniffing, spitting and selecting some really rather nice wines to add to our Wine Shop range and I thought I’d mark your cards as to my favourites from the list.

So here are some lovely summery wines to pop into your virtual wine case:

New and exciting wines

Gazzera Old Vines Catarratto £6
When I was in Sicily last Autumn I was struck by three things:

1. It’s a beautiful island
2. Nero d’Avola is awesome and should be celebrated
3. The whites, especially those from higher altitude vineyards, are fresh and lively and wonderful.

So here is Gazzera Old Vines Cataratto, a wine I created along with the winemaker that I’ve brought exclusively to the Wine Shop with not just a little pride and love. It smells wonderfully of mandarin oranges and tastes supple and fruit forward. Simply lovely with summery salads, fresh fish or lightly grilled chicken.

Musita Chardonnay £7.47
Another little gem from Sicily; this is a very fresh, elegant and pretty Chardonnay that the winemaker has cleverly allowed to speak for itself rather than covering his tracks with lots of winemakery tricks like lots of oak and stuff. If you love good wine, pure and simple, this is for you. Especially if you are having chicken or fish at all, any time, during the Summer. Perfect.

Losada Vinos de Finca El Pajaro Rojo 2013 £10.97
I am crazy about the Mencia grape – I think it is the new Malbec but bouncier and maybe a bit friendlier. This gorgeously fruity red from Castilla y Leon in Spain is puppyish in its jolly, juicy approachable fruit. Very trendy. Very New Wave. Very nice with barbecues.

In fact, The Wine Gang have just written it up in their monthly report giving it 87/100 and describing it as: “intensely cherryish on both the nose and palate with a sweet, almost opulent quality of black cherry fruit”. Which makes it sound quite serious. Which it isn’t really. It’s just good.

Gran Bajoz Tinta de Toro Vinas Viejas 2010 £7.98
So if you’re looking for a red that will stand up to blockbuster barbecued meats then this is the one for you. From the region of Toro in Spain, north-west of Madrid and close to the Portuguese border this oaky red is hugely impressive, choc-full of vanilla and rich, fruity flavours. Serious stuff.

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 18 July 2014