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

Hurry! 20% off at the Asda Wine Shop ends at midnight on Tuesday 12th August – use discount code WINE20 to take advantage of this great deal!

I work with some very nice people at Asda – on a day to day basis they’re friendly and fun but sometimes they’re also very, very generous as you can see from this exciting offer of 20% off Wine Shop wines until midnight Tuesday 12th August. How good is that?

That means all sorts of gorgeous wines are even more affordable and lots of great value bottles are now almost ludicrously inexpensive. So treat yourself! I’ll certainly be buying these summery, barbecue friendly wines:

Summery wines that are great for barbecues

Musita Syrah – great with chunkily flavoured grilled or barbecued meats

Bierzo El Pajoro Rojo Mencia – gorgeously fruity and fantastic with tapas

Fossil – intense flavours plus a hint of the sea: stunning with cajun favours

Domaine Lavigne Saumur Champigny – lightly chilled, this will be wondrous with baked salmon

I’ve also added a few stars to my shopping list thanks to the lovely Jo, our Senior Buyer for Spain and Portugal.

Brilliant bargains on wine from Spain and Portugal

Jo has been working some magic and here are the new lower prices for the awesome (yes, I’m biased) Extra Special Dao and the clever, tasty range from Tagus Creek. Just think, with 20% off that’s one of my favourite Extra Specials for only £4 a bottle – join an orderly queue everyone…

And the Tagus Creek range from Portugal will be only £3.40 a bottle – I’m speechless!

Extra Special Dao £5
Tagus Creek Chardonnay £4.25
Tagus Creek Rose £4.25
Tagus Creek Shiraz £4.25

The code is WINE20 and runs our at midnight on Tuesday 12th August, so make hay whilst the sun shines and enjoy a whole week of Wine Shop bargains.

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 08 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

I read somewhere that we are now officially in the wedding season and I thought I’d look through our Wine Shop range for some lovely wedding breakfast or evening party wines.

So for everyone who is planning or attending a wedding this summer – congratulations, have fun and here are my recommendations:

Fabulous fizz for toasting and crisp white wine for starters and fish

Fizz for the Reception and Toast

Piper Heidseick NV £30
If it’s Champagne you’re after then one of my favourite aperitif Grandes Marques is Piper Heidseick NV – lovely and fresh with apples and pears.

Filippo Sansovino Prosecco NV £6
What’s not too love about Prosecco – gorgeously fruity and not too dry – so that makes it the perfect choice to make everyone happy.

Crisp White for Starters and Fish

Koru New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc £6 IWC Gold, IWC Great Value Trophy
Fresh and nettly and a Gold Medal winner. Wow! Great quality, great value and a firm favourite.

Smooth white for salmon or chicken, rose for buffets, red for meat and low alcohol

Smooth White for Salmon or Chicken

Alba Signature Albarino 2012 £6 IWC Silver
Albarino is so hip now, it almost hurts. Catch the wave with this smooth yet minerally Spanish white.

Lovely Rose for Buffets

Torres Vina Sol Rose 2013 £5
A deliciously berried dry rose from Spain – great food wine but also very tasty on its own.

Easy Drinking Red for Meats

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 £8 IWSC Bronze
Some people reckon this is the best value Cabernet in the world – all I know is that the blackcurrant flavours are brilliant, it’s smooth and silky and it’s a fantastic match to red meats.

One for the Designated Drivers

Torres Natureo Low Alcohol £4
Refreshingly floral – dry and tasty.

Visit the Asda Wine Shop

Posted by Philippa on 11 July 2014