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Cotes du Rhone Wine Merchant of the Year, UK

The evening was a celebration for us winning Cotes du Rhone Wine Merchant of the Year, UK………… the prize, a trip to the Rhone Valley!! (Kate Whittle, our sales and marketing manager, has recently returned, having been a guest of the Chave family among others…. we thought we would include in the tasting Yann Chave`s famous Hermitage from the excellent 2009 vintage).

Thank you everyone for last night. It was a real thrill, first tasting our way around Northern Rhone (the reds 100% Syrah: Crozes Hermitage, St Joseph, Hermitage), then travelling South (the reds all Grenache based blends: Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape), an excellent demonstration of the two distinct Rhone styles, clearly described by our guest speaker of the evening, Jeremy Lithgow, of Charles Taylor Wines (a key supplier for some time of both Rhone and Burgundy).  Moreover on the table this evening we had in store some truly great houses: Domaine Yann Chave, Domaine du Tunnel, Domaine Michel Ogier,  Domaine la Bouissière,  Chateauneuf-du-Pape Bosquet des Papes….. some of the best Rhones you`ll ever taste ….However,  before we get to the reds, a few words about those curiously delightful whites: The first wine, the aperitif, Lirac Blanc by Lafond Roc Epine, was from the South (so technically out of place, since we were travelling North to South), but frankly it was an inspired choice to whet the appetite and no-one minded the geography. It had ample acidity and freshness, yet  weight too, giving it real punch. A good introduction to Rhone and the spark of an idea of what was to follow. The second wine, the Viognier de Rosine, was even more of an eye-brow raiser! It is not unlike Guigal`s Condrieu but two-thirds of the price, emitting the telltale scents of Viognier: violet and  lavender; on the palate it had rich,  soft scented fruits, of apricots and peaches. Our chef Tony Bell, who was on top form again, started the evening by matching this fascinating wine with  Cassolette of seafood with fennel cream, It was untested but happily worked well. In the past we have enjoyed Condrieu with crab, lobster and pork belly, the richness of these foods perfectly matched with the richness of Condrieu, and the other textbook match is creamy curry (can`t wait to try this one with the Rosine!). The last white, at the end of the meal, was the sweet Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. A Vin Doux Naturel, it is the fortified sweet wine of the Rhone, sweet, but not too sweet, a fruit-salad of wonderful aromas and flavours which was delicious with Tony`s truly superb Poached pear, pistachio sponge. Wonderful stuff to finish the evening. And everything between was red – classic Rhone reds. We started with Crozes Hermitage by Yann Chave, matched with  Portobello mushroom with rabbit tapenade.  They were perfect together. A good red burgundy would have been no better (though no worse). What I like about good Crozes is it bears the signature of the grape; we discussed the white pepper, sometimes black pepper, the floral notes of bright, red-fruited Syrah, the darker notes on the palate, the soft, crunchy fruit, the cool freshness and purity, etc, all this and more, but what Crozes doesn`t speak of is  terroir. It leaves that to its big brother Hermitage….. the St. Joseph was strapping and beautiful and the Hermitage, clearly the high-point, was dense and powerful (still young), matched very well with Duo of Layer Marney lamb, brunoise of aubergine & courgette. I liked Tony`s deconstructed ratatouillie here (very clever and tasty). The wine was immense but it was noted that the St Joseph offered better value now, while the Hermitage offered the potential for greatness in the long term (another ten years say). Then we went South and plundered the cheese board, Epoisses etc. Had to be done. The Grenache dominant blends offered greater opulence and sweetness, so they were always going to be great with cheeses. But equally we might have done things differently and matched them with a stew, beef, game or venison. The Vacqueyras was generously fruity and an inviting open style, highly quaffable and a fine start; yet truthfully the Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-pape were so good it paled into insignificance. Really I thought these two were fabulous. I love Syrah but in my mind they showed better than all the wines on the table, for drinking now, except possibly the St. Joseph by Domaine du Tunnel. A fabulous menu, well done Tony. Thanks Jeremy (we all agreed you make an excellent speaker). Thanks ladies (Janet, Emma, Harriet). And thanks to our guests who helped make it a very happy evening. Jeremy`s tasting notes to follow:

Guest speaker: Jeremy Lithgow – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

Wines of the Rhone

 Lirac Blanc, Lafond Roc Epine 2012, aperitif £14.99

A blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier, this delicious white displays exotic tropical fruit on the nose with hints of mango, lemongrass and grapefruit. The palate is ripe and inviting, with a soft mouthfeel and a hint of spice at the end of the dry citrus finish.

Viognier de Rosine, Domaine Michel Ogier 2012, £24.99

Domaine Ogier are one of the greatest estates of the Northern Rhone. This comes from a parcel of vines just next to the border of Condrieu, which is echoed in the classic ripe apricot and greengage notes with hints of nuts. Lovely rich texture and a mineral finish.

 Crozes Hermitage Les Saviaux  Domaine Yann Chave 2012, £19.99

 Yann Chave is an exciting young winemaker who has taken his family estate to new heights. This unoaked organic Syrah displays classic supple, ripe blackberry fruit with hints of white pepper, evolving into meatier flavours with air

 Saint Joseph Rouge Domaine du Tunnel 2009, £33.99

Stephane Robert has transformed this estate into something truly special. This is a succulent full-bodied syrah from a wonderful vintage, laden with soft, dark fruits of the forest and a touch of clove.

 Hermitage Yann Chave 2009, £68.99

Yann’s flagship wine, from a beautifully situated plot of vines, right in the heart of the famous hill or Hermitage. Powerful, with concentrated loganberry and licorice notes, complex hints of prune and roasted meats, rounded off with lush tannins on the long finish

 Vacqueyras rouge, Seigneur de Fontimple 2012, £16.99

A blend of Grenache and Syrah from 50 year old vines. Perfumed aromas of mulberry with classic  notes of provencal herbs and spice. Medium-weight, with seductive sweet fruit.

 Gigondas Domaine la Bouissière 2010, £26.99

Without doubt one of the finest producers in Gigondas, with the highest vineyards of the village. A blend of old-vine Grenache and Syrah, starting to drink beautifully with full-bodied spicy red and black fruits complemented by roasted herbs and meats.

 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Bosquet des Papes Tradition 2012, £33.99

A traditional Grenache dominated blend from old vines grown on the classic galets roulés. Deep, spiced liqueur fruit, with complex flavours of charcuterie and thyme. Delicious now, but with the potential to develop further over the next decade

 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, Bouquet des Dentelles, £19.99

A floral nose of fresh grapes, rosewater flecked with honey and orange blossom. Sweet yet vibrant in the mouth, with an elegant zesty finish balancing the exotic sweetness.


Cassolette of seafood with fennel cream

Portobello mushroom with rabbit tapenade

Duo of Layer Marney lamb, brunoise of aubergine & courgette

Cheese board

Poached pear, pistachio sponge

With thanks to everyone.

Anthony Borges

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Autumn Winter Fashion Show

On Tuesday 7th October, The Gift Room at The Wine Centre held their AW14 Fashion Show, in aid of St Helena Hospice.  The evening started at 7.30, with white and red Rioja served as part of a Rioja promotion, as well as handmade canapes.  All of the models wore clothes from The Fifth Collection and are customers of the shop, and all looked absolutely fabulous on the night.  £365 was raised for St Helena Hospice, from a raffle and proceeds from the tickets.

fashion show aw14

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Tim Foggarty on Kim Crawford

We all had a wonderful evening last night. A celebration: Angela Hornett`s surprise 50th birthday party, organised by her husband Ian. Thanks for thinking of us, Ian…. as it happens it was also our chef`s birthday, so we were in celebratory mood and out came the Inniskillin! But that was another  little surprise for the end of the evening….. seems like a long time ago we started with our sparkling Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, the Essenze Brut Cuvee  (essence of Marlborough, get it?) an interesting variant to `still`  Sauvignon which everyone seemed to enjoy with some gusto. We had first tasted a fizzy Sauvignon back in 2010 when we visited NZ and thought, what a good idea! It never really caught on, though.  And it`s taken us until now to stock it. Anyway if you weren`t here last night and your interest is piqued, then  you`ll just have to buy a bottle. £11.99 with 10% off if you mention this blog. How`s that for an offer! Now, as regular readers of my apres-tasting Saturday  blog well know, we like to briefly touch on the  food and wine matching. A lot of thought goes into getting this just right, eh Tony?  then the second course came early and instead of Pinot Gris we have the Spitfire….   But no-one seemed to notice …. and the Spitfire with the Asian prawn was frankly fabulous, as was the first KC Sauvignon with the chilli roasted feta, watermelon salad (an inspired choice, I thought, playing on the more established text book match of goat`s cheese). And furthermore the Pinot Gris was excellent on its own. So everything worked out fine,  in spite of our careful matching!! Yet for me the greatest match of all was the Kim Crawford Pinot Noir and juicy lamb in blueberry sauce. I remember enjoying this wine with turkey a few years ago and thinking this was the perfect food partner. Well so was the Layer Marney lamb. The cheese platter followed with the Merlot – a good match – the wine soft and fruity, set against the salty cheeses and finally the sweet and intense Inniskillin, a high point to any evening and a real treat to waken the palate so  late into the evening. Incidentally the Chocolate Heaven was, well, heaven… but without wine to match on this occasion. Frankly I doubt a wine would have added to the dish or the occasion at this point. We were spent…. a truly fantastic gourmet meal. Happy birthday Ang!

Special thanks to our guest speaker last night, Tim Foggarty, who was not just informative but entertaining as well. We are great fans of the Kim Crawford brand and we`ll  definitely have him back if we can.  Tim, please come again [and bring that wife of yours along next time!]. Cheers and a million thanks!! Tasting notes to follow:

Guest Speaker: Tim Foggarty – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

Kim Crawford Wines, New Zealand

 The Wines

Essenze Sauvignon Blanc Brut Cuvee, £11.99, aperitif.

Zesty fruit flavours, of passionfruit and gooseberry, with refreshing effervescence (this one is in fact not Kim Crawford!).

Dry Riesling 2013, £12.99

An ideal aperitif, limey and refreshing, with a hint of Riesling`s petroleum aroma. Characteristically it has lifted citrus aromas of sherbet lemon, with plenty of florals (apple blossom), honey, and juicy acidity.

Sauvignon Blanc 2013, £13.99

Classic Marlborough Sauvignon, aromatic, herbaceous, zesty, and super-fresh. On the palate a fruit-salad of  pink grapefruit, passionfruit, peach, lemon and lime. Attractive fleshy style.

 “Spitfire” Sauvignon Blanc 2013, £16.99

Exotic style Sauvignon, displaying passionfruit, grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas. Rich and full, a concentrated blend of grassy-gooseberry-citrus fruit notes which kiss the palate with plenty of weight through a long, delightful finish.

 Pinot Gris 2012, £13.99

A stylish Pinot Gris, reminiscent of apples and spiced pears, with dried fruit notes, quince jelly, honeysuckle and a lick of grapefruit. Its palate is soft and ample.

 Pinot Noir 2013, £14.99

Aromas of ripe cherry, plum and strawberries, with just a hint of sweet spice. The aromas follow through on the palate, intermingled with cocoa and coffee notes. It has a light touch and lively freshness.

 Merlot 2013, £14.99

A deep crimson-red colour, the aromas show ripe plums and redcurrants, with a touch of leafiness. The palate is soft, fleshy and rounded, with rich, dark berry fruit flavours and a hint of mocha sweet spice.

Inniskillin Icewine Riesling, Niagara CANADA 2012 (375ml), £65.00

A fabulous treat to finish the evening (for our 50th birthday girl): intensely sweet, yet fresh and bright with acidity. A wine brimming with aromas: a whiff of tropical fruits, lemons, limes, apricots and, honey, and amazing intensity coupled with silky richness and that sweet spot on the finish. Simply wonderful.


Chilli roasted feta, watermelon salad

Asian prawn salad

Best-end of Layer Marney lamb, blueberry sauce


Chocolate Heaven


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Chupalla crazy in Horkesley



Doug looking very dapper in his Chupalla!

Check out our facebook and twitter feed  for some others who have been going Chupalla crazy in Horkesley this month as part of our Wines of Chile promotional campaign.

Incidentally, for those who are not yet “in the know”, the the very cool Chupalla is Chile`s national hat, a distinctive wide-brimmed   straw hat traditionally sported by  horsemen. The hat is also used by folk-dancers, and  in the countryside by field workers to protect them from the heat (and I have personally witnessed quite a few gentlemen wearing them out and about in Santiago!).  In case you were wondering, our own version, modeled by Doug here, is in fact a cardboard cutout! Viva Chile!!!

Cheers to you all,

Anthony Borges









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Chile/Montes blog


More than 4,300 kilometres in length but exceptionally narrow (177 kilometres on average), Chile’s topographic and climatic diversity has made it one of the world’s most hospitable places to grow wine grapes. Famously phylloxera-free, Chile’s dry summers yield healthy grapes which enables quality conscious producers to work their vineyards with minimal intervention.

The Central Valley, a catch all region, has many diverse sub-regions and mesoclimates that are useful for blending, but increasingly they are also demonstrating their own regional characters and styles. We are seeing more regions such as Casablanca, Colchagua and Maipo appearing on wine labels rather than Central Valley, which is a positive step for defining regionality. Moreover,  there are a number of site-specific premium wines now gaining recognition which have added depth and richness to Chile`s wine scene in recent years. Here at The Wine Centre throughout the month of September we will be opening lots of fine examples for your enjoyment. Enquiries welcome.


Introducing Vina Montes, one of Chile’s top wine producers…. some old favourites and new additions to our range will be opened for tasting in the shop on the 20th September.

Montes is one of Chile`s most progressive wineries.  The Sauvignons are lifted and ripe, their varietal character derived from growing the grapes in the right place and picking them when they are ripe and not, as many in Chile seem to do, by picking them green in order to ensure a herbaceous character which displays what they think is the mark of the varietal. The Merlots, Malbecs and Cabernets have lovely colour, intensity and definition, and ripe and supple tannins. This is still relatively rare in Chile, though thankfully where Vina Montes and other top wineries are leading the way, the signs are that a great many others are beginning to follow.

So how do they do it? Not surprisingly, in the vineyard. They learned, when they started producing Montes Alpha in 1987, that they needed balanced yields and a harvest when the grapes were ripe. They adapted these practices to all their vineyards, and all their wines, and the results are startling. Montes vineyards cover 75% of their requirements. The other 25% of fruit is produced on vineyards they have planted, cultivated and picked. In other words, they control everything except the ownership of the land. In addition to this control over the vineyard, they also sell in bulk what is not good enough to go into the bottles that carry their label. So having made the selection in the vineyard, they are able to make a further selection in the winery. The results are there for you to taste.


These three wines represent the apogee of Montes’ production. Produced from vineyards in the heart of the Colchagua Valley, they illustrate the potential Chile has to produce outstanding wine if yields are contained and the grapes are picked when fully ripe.  Montes Folly is made solely from Syrah grown in the Apalta Vineyard. Apalta is one of Chile’s most outstanding wine zones, and Montes has one of the prime positions. This site gives a rich and voluptuous Syrah of great intensity. The Purple Angel is Montes’ finest expression of Carmenère, from grapes grown in Santa Cruz (Colchagua and environs).


These wines were created as a result of the latest challenge that Aurelio Montes set himself. He wanted to push Chilean viticulture further in the premium direction by finding sites that hadn’t previously been planted. The 45 hectare Zapallar Vineyard in the Aconcagua Valley was Montes’ first venture into the ‘outer limits’. It is seven kilometres from the sea, so cool nights and foggy mornings ensure a long growing season, making it ideal for Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The Pinot is lively yet elegant, the fruit intense thanks to yields of five tonnes per hectare. The Sauvignon, fermented and aged solely in stainless steel, is pungently aromatic on the nose and dry and steely on the palate.

The CGM is from the Apalta estate (where the vines are planted at a density of 12,000 per hectare). The blend, rather than the location, is the ‘outer limit’ here. Made from 50% Carignan, 30% Grenache and 20% Mourvèdre, it is a classic Rhône blend with lovely freshness allied to a liquoricey intensity.


The Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, first produced in 1987, broke the mould for premium wines in Chile. It was a modern expression of a classic grape which illustrated that Chile could produce wines that stood shoulder to shoulder with what their competitors around the world were making. Since then, Alpha has gone from being a wine to being the core range in the Montes portfolio. The grapes and sites are carefully selected in order to ensure varietal integrity and complexity. Viticulture is hands on and individual rather than mechanical and industrial. The result is a range of wines that offer superb value within the premium wine market – whether from Chile or anywhere else. The Casablanca Chardonnay is ripe and melony, while the Aconcagua Pinot Noir, from grapes close to the coast rather than inland (where Sena is made), is fragrant and supple, a classic expression of cool climate Pinot.

The fuller reds, those in need of greater ripeness, are all from Colchagua, an area that Aurelio Montes has long pioneered. The Merlot is ripe and fleshy, while the Cabernet is full yet refined and nicely defined. The Carmenère has plenty of tobacco and supple and grainy tannins, while the Malbec is a superb example of this variety from Chile. It lacks the punch of Argentina but captures the essence of Malbec.


These wines are classic examples of matching the variety or blend to an area. The grape growers and winemakers are given carte blanche to take outstanding fruit and come up with some wholly individual wines that are perfect expressions of site. The Sauvignon Blanc, unoaked and pungent yet minerally, is from the Leyda Valley, the climate of which is moderated by its proximity to the sea, thus making it a great place in which to grow Sauvignon. The Pinot Noir, scented and delicate, is from the Casablanca Valley, which is similarly cool. The long growing season gives wonderful tannins and an alluring perfume. The Colchagua Cabernet Sauvignon/ Carmenère is from a warmer climate, several hours south of Santiago and inland. The warmth ensures ripe grapes and a wonderfully meshed fruit.


The fact that the ‘Classic Series’ is Montes’ entry point says a lot about this estate. The wines are all from their own vineyards, and from different appellations. And what appellations! The reds are all from Colchagua, while the Sauvignon is from cooler Curicó. All are hand-picked to ensure a first selection in the vineyard. And while the Sauvignon Blanc is unoaked, 60% of the Chardonnay blend is fermented in oak, and half the blend is put through malolactic fermentation. This gives a texture and complexity seldom found in Chardonnay at this price. The Merlot, from Colchagua, is aged for six months in American oak and has 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Both add complexity to the wine, and supplement the plummy and juicy fruit that makes this variety so appealing. Both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Malbec are also from Colchagua, and display the depth of colour and flavour that this region lends to its red wines. These wines offer outstanding quality for the price.


Only one of us could go – and after much soul searching we decided it should be me! Janet would instead travel to Aldeburgh, Lea to Paris, Merrill to New York: our well-deserved breaks after all the hard work over Christmas.

I was one of five independent merchants to win the coveted prize – our journey together a bonding of kindred spirits. They were  Anita Mannion (Leamington Wine), David Ogden (Corkscrew Wines), Patrick Rohde (Aitken Wines) and John O`Keeffe (Christopher Piper Wines). Accompanying us were our hosts Gail and Alfonso of Wines of Chile.

We flew to Chile`s capital Santiago, British Airways via Brazil. Unfortunately there is no convenient direct flight to Santiago which is a shame because one would serve Chile better as a tourist destination – and it deserves better. The route home incidentally was longer, painfully long, via Argentina and then Spain, one fraught with delays, missed connections and lost baggage – but by this time we were happy bunnies and nothing could dampen our spirits. We had had the time of our lives compliments of Wines of Chile, after all.

First off, lunch at the Central Market: an incredible fish market and restaurant sheltered by a high-ceiling steel structure, apparently designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. We had some of Chile`s fresh  seafood: ceviche, conger eel, abalone, shrimp, Razor clams, scallops and best of all, Anguilla “baby” eels……. washed down by Ay…(don`t remember the name now)  Sauvignon Blanc, an unusual complex style, not entirely to my liking, more like a Viognier blend than the crisp, fresh Sauvignon I recognise as Chilean (the name will come me….or not!).

After lunch we took a tour of the capital, its famous squares, government buildings, art and history museums. Evidence of its recent political history is everywhere.  Santiago, being centre of government, was the focus of regime change from its democratically elected socialist government  to the  military government led by dictator General Augusto Pinochet.  Pinochet is remembered now as a murdering fascist for his coup d`etat  in 1973 and all the killings, of course, but the good he did was to open up Chile`s markets to global trade and his conservative policies largely lived on after him from 1990 through subsequent democratic governments to this day, leading to a now very prosperous and successful Chile – in strictly wine terms there has been a a miracle change for the better which wouldn`t have happened without Pinochet. The point is endlessly argued, academically and theoretically, but socialist expropriation and high level taxation is still blamed for the collapse and inertia of the industry, and the turn round in the industry`s fortunes was post Pinochet.

The Climate

Chile is long and narrow, as we know, the Pacific Ocean to its west and the Andes mountain range to its east, separating it from Argentina`s Mendoza. There is no love lost with Argentina it seems, so the Andes is a good natural barrier in more ways than one (our own differences with Argentina are only amplified by the good relationship Britain has with Chile). There`s also the two extremes of north and south: dry desert in the north of Chile and the wet fjords, lakes and glaciers in the south – and, perhaps most important of all, the Coastal range of mountains and their splinters between the ocean and the vineyards. Now add into the mix the cooling Pacific current which originates in the Antarctic and moves up the coast of Chile  – and add wind! The Coastal Range has natural `gaps` through which the air is sucked from the Pacific to cool the vineyards. A warm Mediterranean climate with a breeze, how perfect is that! Now consider those Coastal `splinters`, vineyards on slopes and flats with variable soil compositions (many of them volcanic), variable altitudes, variable distances from the sea (or proximities to the Andes), and variable exposures to the sunshine. And cold nights! Consider all this and it is clear you have a complex, very, very diverse landscape. This, the perfect environment for producing quality wine grapes!

Next morning, early, we flew out to La Serena in the very north, desert country.

 Maycas, Limari

Foggy and moist in the mornings due to the Pacific influence and well fed by cooling moist winds, it is nonetheless important to irrigate in this otherwise desert, low-fertile sandy land. But irrigate they do – and the drip-drip action of irrigation works its magic here, working the minerals gradually which are absorbed by the vines roots producing mineral-rich wines.

Fungus can be a problem in the form of Oidium, but essentially the vines have to work hard and here  they produce healthy, good quality grapes and phenolic maturity. Syrah in cool years have plenty of spice, while warmer seasons produce a more opulent style, grown mostly on its own roots which is typical of Chile generally due to being free of the phylloxera louse.    Not to say  grafting on rootstock is not used at all here or elsewhere – it is, mostly where necessary to assist penetration into hard, rocky ground. We tasted examples of both styles of Syrah and my favourite was the cool-climate.

We also tasted fine turbot with an elegant Chardonnay, a wine-food highlight.

Tamaya, Limari

The Tamaya farm produces citrus fruits, avocados and grapes, their water supply provided by reservoirs in the foothills of the Andes.  The large proportion of clay there assists in retaining the water around Tamaya, and the water assists in leaching out the minerals. It has a calcium–rich substrata, which feeds the vines and provides the grapes with good acidity. The clay itself apparently contributes viscosity to the wines. However, it the long growing season which provides Tamaya wines with their freshness and appeal.

This is copper country – its biggest market apparently China. No surprise there.

Tabali, Limari

The colluvial mixture of clay, silt, sand and calcium-rich limestone is also good for growing Chardonnay, and Tabali prove the point well. Indeed their range of wines is a demonstration of elegance and achievement in difficult growing conditions.

Return Flight/overnight Santiago

Vina Mar, Casablanca

Vina Mar, a member of the second largest wine group in Chile (VSPT) is a public limited company on the Chilean stock exchange. While the group as an entity is very corporate, proud and eco-friendly, its wineries are individual and left to their own devises, simultaneously enjoying a high level of investment. The best of both worlds it would seem.

Here in Casablanca it is largely cool and windy white wine country, known for its Sauvignons and Chardonnays.

Leyda, Leyda

Very much copper mining territory, it should be noted here that Chile produces a third of the world`s copper market and is by far the greatest export. Arguably it is rather too dependent on copper and subject to market fluctuation and economic decline when copper prices are low. Agricultural products and especially fruits are a distant second, followed by salmon from the fjords south of chile and wine exports fourth.

Incidentally, avocado is a big Chilean export, as is artichoke (both delicious and used regularly in salads here, ideal with Sauvignons).

Here there is a granite substrata with a clay topsoil – and due to its proximity to the sea it  is cooler and more windy even than Casablanca which is higher and further inland. These are some of Chile`s best fresh white wines, the sort, frankly, I enjoy most. These lowland, coastal, largely south-facing vineyards achieve ripeness over typically long growing seasons. Sauvignons  are the classic green, zesty style ideal for aperitif, and the Chardonnays flavourful with a mineral edge and delicious lick of citrus fruits. The Pinot Noirs were also fresh and vibrant. We enjoyed the wines with a fantastic seafood lunch by the vineyards. These were some of my very favourite wines on the trip, this being the only winery in Chile with its own regional denomination. I hope to be bringing some to Great Horkesley soon.

Interestingly, at the tasting we used Stolze glasses to taste even the white wines, more akin to our Riedel Pinot Noir glasses. I usually use mine for reds only, but I might well think again. It was lovely swishing my Sauvignons and Chardonnays around the full bowl-shaped glass and the aromas were wondrous.

Chocolan, Maipo

Winemaker Maria del Pilar Gonzales together with her daughter Guillermo Aida Toro were  our most delightful hosts for supper at Chocolan, my favourite their Petit Verdot-Syrah Rose which we have stocked for years and enjoyed there by the vineyards as an aperitif.

Overnight Santiago

Valdivieso, Maipo

Here, in Curico Valley, is where they started sparkling wine and it`s still probably the best place to source it. They practice both the Charmat and Champagne method, using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Haras de Pirque, Maipo

This  winery in the shape of a horse shoe which raises both horses and vines with equal passion. We were introduced to the most beautiful stallion, a young racing horse in his prime.  Actually, the winery was beautiful too – and even the people at this winery were beautiful! Made me feel very middle-age +. The Equus range of wines were bright and approachable, the Haras de Pirque purposeful , complex and characterful (as the name suggests), the Albis, flagship  joint venture wine with Antinori from Italy, stunning.

Altair, Cachapoal

This fine winery, part of the VSPT group, is stand alone in every other sense. Its own natural amphitheatre of vineyards, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah vines are raised in volcanic colluvial and alluvial soils, with limestone and plenty of stones.  We discussed the merits of vines raised on alluvial versus colluvial soils,  alluvial being ancient river deposits while colluvial is the rock debris accumulated at the base of slopes through the action of rainwater or gravity. Alluvial has produced the red-fruited Cabernet of Clos du Fous by example, while the Cabernets of Altair, colluvial, are darker with more cassis. It`s all location, location!  Altair also has its own  stand alone viticulteur – a shepherd who cares for his sheep (his vines): Rene is a man who is passionate about what he does (in his own inimitable way!) and he likes to speak very much of terroir!! A funny man – he had me in stitches – reminded me of a dear Venezuelan friend of mine (so laid back he was practically horizontal). And his wines were great. At £50+ a pop these wines would be a hard sell, but boy they are good: Cabernet dominant blends they have fresh bright fruits, superb concentration and great purity.

Overnight  Colchagua

Montes, Colchagua

Montes in perfect harmony with nature has a flow of water directed into it, entirely symbolic and aesthetic I think, though I wouldn`t be surprised if it generated energy. Certainly most of the wineries I have visited so far would choose natural energy sources wherever practicable, either air, water or sunshine. Green is New Zealand`s colour but Chile wants a part of it. Indeed, there is much about NZ which is Chile – its wild, diverse beauty, its clean, cool air, volcanic soils, geysers and hot springs, its good wines! Chile is simply a little behind the kiwi`s (their socialist past), and now they are learning from the kiwi`s and everyone else and in a decade, if they play their cards right….. well, they can achieve great things. Meantime, they are not doing so badly! Montes Chardonnay which we have stocked a while is fresh, yet tropical and creamy. At £13.99 a steal. However, the Montes Folly Syrah, which we also stock at £36.99 is the gem here. Its label design by Ralph Steadman is striking on the shelf – and the wine joyous, blue berries, black berries, spice… we visited the vineyard and noted its deep, red sandstone and clay soils, the tiny blue berries. I was shown how they remove the upper bunch from any one cane to stimulate concentration in the one remaining bunch, such is their commitment to quality here. I had to pinch myself to check I wasn`t dreaming. I really am awake and in this place of my dreams!

On the flats were Carmenere, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, more fertile land providing easily everything these vines could want for full, phenolic maturation. The Carmenere`s – Chile`s near indigenous grape (not so – the vine is originally from Bordeaux) but yes so, in the same way Argentina now owns Malbec. This grape more than any other is unique to Chile. And it is the most controversial and difficult of all grapes: the one with tendencies toward greenness; the erratic one; the Pinotage of Chile; the one which doesn`t quite fit a marketable niche: Carmenere with Curry? Carmenere with roasted red meats? Carmenere with meat pies?   `With walnuts? (Chile is a huge producer of walnuts). It has dark fruits and it`s spicy – at best very good indeed, at worst horrible. For me, the best are the elegant Carmeneres and the Carmenere blends. Montes Purple Angel is excellent – 92% Carmenere, 8% Petit Verdot.  Apparently the trick to eliminate the greenness is removal of the leaves, to reduce the pirazine in the grapes; but just as important is to pick before being over-ripe. Indeed, better a tad of greenness from early picking, having removed the excess green by summer pruning the leaves.

We also tasted the new Outer Limits wines – their Sauvignon Blanc vines planted just 8km from the sea and deliciously zesty and fresh – one of my favourite Sauvignons on the trip.

Lapostolle, Colchagua

We visited the Clos Apalta winery – and first the eponymous name brought back fond memories of Pangea, the Syrah by Vina Ventisquero which i have so enjoyed on several occasions also produced in Apalta: the wine by winemaker John Duval. “Apalta” that small area of vineyard in Colchagua with the biggest reputation for fine wine.  My only regret on this trip: not visiting Vina Ventisquero (the winery which also produces another favourite of mine, Heru Pinot Noir). We enjoyed a fabulous lunch here and terrific wines, but for me the stand out was the cellar: so many state-of-the-art wineries in Chile but this one stratospheric; the architecture wondrous. The winery built into the hill and the clever use of rock and iron and wood and air and water and sunshine.

Emiliana, Colchagua

Many of the Chilean wineries we found to be green and generally more eco-friendly than not, but this one surpassed all in its organic and biodynamic practices. They have the animals for dung and compost, the vegetation to attract insects in the vineyards, use of natural yeasts only, minimal use of sulphur during winemaking, the cows horns … stop there! This was my first opportunity to witness biodynamic farming, and I arrived a sceptic. We were shown the quartz stone ground to powder and put in the cow horns, for burial in the vineyards. We witnessed the gut -sacks of manure hung in the vineyard for exposure to the sun before being buried to return energy (or something) to the earth. We were taken to the sacred place where their manures matured – pots of vegetation treated like treasures, produced from a variety of vegetation and goodness knows what – I didn`t like to ask. And we were told about pruning according to the moon cycles so as not to waste the sap and the whole process was explained clearly and passionately and it seemed just a little weird….. but the wines were good by jove, some of them very good, fresh and elegant. I am reminded of M. Chapoutier in the Rhone and Albert Mann in Alsace who also practice biodynamic viticulture: who also produce fine wines. Is there something in it, after all? Perhaps now I am less of a sceptic – if not quite a believer – agnostic maybe?

Eraazuriz, Aconcagua

A thoroughbred of a winery and another beauty with striking architecture and no expense spared. Here the subject of agronomic engineering came up! Yes, stimulating stuff. Really though it is an interesting fact that many Chilean winemakers have backgrounds in engineering – perhaps signifying the need to build new vineyards and the mindset required to do so. Arguably, as a direct result of the socialists grip on wine production (as a means of stemming consumption 1930-Pinochet), many of the vineyards are new in Chile. They are selected for their micro-climate and specific soils to suit individual grape varieties – and it is largely an ongoing craft, requiring ongoing evaluation. If an own-rooted grape variety proves not to perform in a particular place, the grafting onto it of another variety is done, or simply new clones are tested.  Chile is young still, with huge potential. As it happens this vineyard, by the state-of-the-art Eraazuriz winery, is not so young – some 50 years. Indeed, here in Aconcagua near the mountains they have been making good Cabernets and Syrahs for some considerable time – certainly the wines of Eraazuriz impressed me.

Clos de Fous, Aconagua (our most southern destination!)

We stock the low-sulphur burgundy-style Clos de Fous Chardonnay, their principle wine, the first wine we tasted that late afternoon by the Pinot Noir vineyard… it was noticeably chilly, an indicator of the cooler climes down south here, but the company was warm and the wines delicious. Francois Massoc the winemaker and Albert Cussen “his boss” were a humorous double act, though I imagine they both get to play the straight guy when it comes to business. These are daredevils who have pushed the boundaries to produce quality fruit where few would dare before. And it has clearly paid off.

The Pinot Noir has been closely planted on what are dunes of clay and alluvial sandstone over granite – a method of electronic soil-mapping was used to determine the layers for planting purposes. Now  3 years old vines, closely planted in the burgundy way, we can expect great things, I`m sure.

We tasted a very nice cool-climate Cabernet as well, red-fruited, crunchy, a far cry from the usual Chilean dark jammy fruits and one to look out for.

Over lunch we discussed the requirement for patience in the fermentation process (as you do!). Apparently the carbonic acid (co2) in the fermenting juice excludes the need for use of much sulphur in their wines, especially good news for our sulphur sensitive customers. In particular they spoke of the need to wait for as long as it takes for the secondary malo-lactic fermentation to finish its cycle – one time taking almost three years! Apparently it can`t be hurried or cut short because of an unwanted manifestation of out-of-balance vanilla aromas.  Only with white wines can it sometimes be desirable to stop malo-lactic fermentation all together, to preserve the crisp malic acidity, a factor in the style of the finished wine.  Perhaps  it`s best not to labour on such matters – better  to simply enjoy the fruits of other peoples labour!

Lunch was overlooking the vineyards from one of five mud-built huts which these talented guys have built themselves: no ordinary tin-pot huts but luxurious wattle and daub thatched-roof mud huts with all the trimmings and vineyard dunes all around them in the most beautiful setting possible….  thank you gentlemen for your company and warm hospitality!

 Coastal visit: 2 hrs splashing around in the waves, careful not to be dragged under the tectonic plate by the strong currents there, followed by a few cool beers while we dried off! NB. Kunstmann Amber Beer, not bad at all!

Our final soiree in the Bellavista quarter of Santiago, a good night out!

Overnight Santiago

Shopping excursion (sore head)

Flight to Buenos Aires / Madrid / Home

Overall Viewpoint

It seemed to me there are some ordinary and fantastic wines in Chile – and a good deal between. The ordinary whites are bland and the ordinary reds a little “muddy” – perhaps it`s the rough tannins, a certain greenness, or the lack of varietal definition or both. I`m not just referring to the wineries we visited – indeed most didn`t fall into the category – but wines we tasted in Santiago and those I have tasted at home. The category tends to be cheap (though not all are) and it occurs to me that Chile should either raise their game and avoid the mass market all together, or try to produce more definition in their bulk wines – with softer, juicier tannins.  In time with older vines this might well happen naturally. I would say don`t be afraid of the sweet notes when it comes to these wines. Ideally give them a name to separate them from the more premium wines: the equivalent of Vin de Pays or even Table Wine.

In the mid-price category Chile comes into its own, and this is the category with arguable most potential, especially when you consider most of the vines are still fairly young. Indeed, in an ideal world these wines, already very much on the right course in qualitative terms, would not increase too sharply too quickly in price terms. The industry relies on its exports and the world is in an economic downturn. Better to assume the position of strong middle ground and market share, below New Zealand, offering great value for money.  In this category my own view would be to focus on regional identity and in particular bright fruits and varietal definition suitable to location. Avoid the muddy mouth feel and green notes in reds, promote the clean fresh characters of whites. Carry on knocking out the clean, fresh Sauvignons – and please, please don`t stop working on Chardonnay and Syrah. As for Carmenere – personally I would forget it as a single variety unless you have something very special there. Instead, use it as a blending wine. Certainly, avoid at all costs over-ripening, over extraction, too much alcohol!

In the super premium category I think there is less need for price sensitivity – and many of the top wineries are bang on course for great wines. We tasted quite a few reds from £25-£75 per bottle, fantastic wines which would see off quite a few old world wines in the category I would bet. Even Carmenere!! Upward and onward and bravo Chile!

With thanks to Wines of Chile and all the great wineries we visited for their superb and generous hospitality. We had a fabulous time – and love your beautiful country.

My 2013 trip to Chile – “The wines are just getting better and better!”

In 2013 we were lucky enough to receive a second award from Wines of Chile and I was to travel for the second time to that great country, visiting many of the areas I missed the previous time. Unfortunately I lost my notes along with a bag on my return home, so my second journal was never written-up. However, I remember noting  exciting developments even in two years away. First, delighted to see that the Vin Ordinaire or Central Valley wines have improved, seemingly, even in just a few years. Better definition. There are no more £4.99 bottles – not realistically – but at £6.49 per bottle we are able to offer our customers decent quaffing wines which taste of the grape – and don`t taste muddy! So although these might be a few bob dearer now, they`re really enjoyable for easy, everyday drinking.

The improvements overall are even better in the premium category – or at least, there are even more premium wines than ever. Especially notable are the improvements in the wines of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Carmenere reds, but Sauvignon Blanc as well, in my opinion. This is in part, of course, the continuation of the trajectory:  the learning curve ongoing, yielding better and better wines. The vines are also that little bit more mature, and together with careful pruning and canopy management, yields have been checked successfully to produce wines with more depth of flavour and varietal definition than ever before, even in the valley floors. Where Pinot Noir and Carmenere are concerned, I think it has to do a lot with picking the grapes at the optimum times. The sugars in these grapes rise quickly toward the end of veraison (ripening), and the Chileans have learned the importance of picking them while they are just so… in the case of Pinot Noir, just ripe (the cooler the vineyard the better), where Carmenere is concerned, avoiding the `green` but picking before they are over-ripe in the warmer valley floors. In many cases they have just a few days to harvest and speed, along with efficiency, is key. Sauvignon Blanc, already very good generally in 2011, is also growing from strength to strength as the Chileans appreciate the need for even this varietal to reach full ripeness before picking (there had been a tendency to pick early). Syrah, for me, represented the most marked regional change of all: I was recognising regional characteristics: a delicious peppery, Rhone-like quality in the cooler regions; and a generous “Shiraz” style in the warmer valleys (not always as well balanced). I personally preferred the former, especially when Syrah is grown on decomposed granite, on steep slopes. As so often is the case, it`s location, location. And Chile is still discovering new, great locations.

Anthony Borges


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Wines of Chile Dinner

An excellent evening, thank you everyone. A fun group with plenty of banter and opinion, just how we like it! Also, good to have Peter Rowe back, waxing lyrical, and Tony Bell in top form. His “Lightly spiced prawn soup, ‘Santiago style'” was genius (the Creme Fraiche an inspired last minute addition!) and the Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc (which was also delicious by the way – like a mature Pouilly-Fume) was, according to a majority vote, the perfect match. Personally I found the second course a better match: the fleshy white fish with the creamy but fresh Chardonnay. And best of all the duck and Outer Limits Pinot Noir. Tony, the duck dish was fabulous, Michelin quality and very Chilean with the sweet cranberry, pumpkin seed and date stuffing. The cheese platter which followed was well received (well done Janet), the cheeses from France and England, nonetheless served with dates, figs and walnuts the platter had a Chilean feel about it. [Incidentally we tried to buy in cheese from Chile but without success; not that any one was complaining!].   The two wines served with the platter were delicious, and again Janet`s choice of fig and date worked in well with the flavours of the wines, just as the salt in the cheeses contrasted nicely with the sweet dried-fruit quality in both reds. Check out our tasting notes. The Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre Outer limits blend: “ripe, enticing with brambly wild berry fruit, dried figs, dried fruits, spice”, and Purple Angel, for me the best Carmenere in Chile (with a splash of Petit Verdot):  “fruit cake, spice, chocolate, mocha and dried fruits”. So, across the range of wines, excellent food matches and a thrilling range of wine styles, proving yet again the quality and diversity Montes (and Chile) has to offer. Viva Chile!!

Guest Speaker: Peter Rowe – Host: Anthony Borges – Chef: Tony Bell

 The Subject: A Gem in Chile: Vina Montes

 Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca 2013, £9.99 (aperitif)

Looks: Pale, green hue Smells: grassy, gooseberry and asparagus Tastes: restrained style – French – flinty with grapefruit & passion fruit notes.

 Montes “Outer Limits” Sauvignon Blanc, Zapallar Vineyard, Aconcagua 2011, £16.99

Looks: bright, pale green Smells: intense, pungent, lime, grapefruit, asparagus Tastes: concentrated, zesty lemons & limes form a bracing acidity. Fine minerality..

 Montes  “Alpha” Chardonnay, Casablanca 2012, £12.99

 Looks: yellow Smells: aromas of melon, apricots and vanilla Tastes: of good Chardonnay, creamy yet fresh.

Montes Classic Series Merlot 2012, Colchagua £9.99

Looks:  ruby red Smells: high-toned, plum-like, a hint of cocoa Tastes:  bright, a sweet spot, silky, with the same plum and cocoa fragrance on the finish.

Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir Casablanca 2012, £10.99

Looks:  pale ruby red Smells: strawberry, cake spices Tastes: light, silky, strawberries with bright floral notes and light spices..

 Montes “Alpha” Pinot Noir, Aconcagua Costa 2012, £14.99

Looks:  bright ruby red Smells: red fruits, florals (violet), vanilla-spice Tastes: medium-bodied, velvety, fresh, integrated oak, perfumed..

Montes “Outer Limits” Pinot Noir, Zapallar Vineyard, Aconcagua 2012, £20.99

Looks:  bright, pale ruby / cherry Smells: seductive aromas of cherries, violets, dried herbs and pepper Tastes: on   the palate the wine is exuberant with pronounced acidity, bright fruit, silky tannins and a lingering cherry finish.

Montes “Outer Limits” CGM, Apalta, Colchagua 2012, £20.99

Looks: ruby red, dark tones Smells: ripe, enticing with brambly wild berry fruit, dried figs and spice. Tastes: the blend of Carignan, Grenache and Mourvedre yields a vibrant, complex palate of dried fruits and spice, woven in a silky, luscious, yet intense, mouthful.

 Montes “Purple Angel” Carmenere – Petit Verdot, Colchagua 2011, £32.99

Looks:  deep ruby red, dark shades Smells: blackberry, fruit cake Tastes: concentrated, with blackberry, spice, chocolate, mocha and dried fruits.

The Menu

Lightly spiced prawn soup, ‘Santiago style’


Cornish hake ‘burrito’


Duck with wild cranberry and pumpkin



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A weekend of Journey`s End

This weekend we enjoyed a tasting of Journey`s End single vineyard wines from Stellenbosch in South Africa. Here are our notes:

Journey`s End Single Vineyard Wines, Stellenbosch

Journey`s End is the Gabb family cellar cradled in the foothills of the Hottentot mountains, overlooking stunning False Bay. Their single vineyard wines are from low-yield vines grown in ancient, mineral rich soils, which enjoy long sunny days and cool coastal breezes, resulting in concentrated, healthy grapes. A brief description of each wine, as follows:

Journey`s End Chardonnay 2012, £18.99

Fermented in French oak and further matured for 9 months in oak before bottling, adding complexity to the finished wine. It`s not unlike a decent Macon, or perhaps Saint-Aubin, with ripe fruit, a fresh, slick buttery note, light toast in the background and a decent  citrus streak of acidity, giving it length and freshness. Very good indeed.

Journey`s End Shiraz 2009, £18.99

My favourite of the four:  matured for 18 months in French oak. Aromas and flavours combine blackberry, damson and blueberry with red fruits and dark mineral notes. There is a definite sense of place about the wine – of terroir – flashes of  slate and stones, amid dark fruits and subtle spices. Lovely wine.

Journey`s End Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, £18.99

Also matured in  French oak for 18th months.  The 2008 Cabernet has dark, dusky, blackcurrant fruit aromas and a full, rounded palate, polished, mouth-filling and deliciously fruity, with sweet spices, of vanilla and cinnamon, and herbal notes. One for the rosemary-and- garlic-roasted lamb.

Journey`s End Merlot 2011, £18.99

Our first wine from Journey`s End was the 2009 Merlot, a tip from a good customer of ours (thank you, John). This was the beginning of … well a journey (excuse the pun) for us here at The Wine Centre… the discovery of one after another of Journey`s End wines. It might be said of them that they represent South Africa`s central position in the wine world, expressing ripe yet cool fruit characters as well as terroir (that sense of “place”), from their ancient, mineral rich vineyards. They are somewhere between Europe and the New World, between a cool place and a warm place. The 2011 Merlot single vineyard, also matured in  French oak for 18 months, has dark, plum-like fruit aromas and a full, rounded palate, mouth-filling and deliciously fruity, with eucalyptus notes and a complex backdrop of vanilla spice, chocolate and mineral notes.

Next weekend we`ll be opening their Haystack Chardonnay and Huntsman Shiraz Mourvedre….

Anthony Borges

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September “Wines of Chile” Promotional Offer

September 2014 – Wines of Chile  Mixed Case Promotional Offer

Why not treat yourselves to a mixed case of Chilean wines this month. We`ll have wines on taste in-store throughout the month, so you can taste before you buy and we`ll give you 10% discount off any twelve bottles.

Chile has come such a long way. For a long time a good producer of entry level wines, fruity and quaffable, neither heavy or too light, that happy middle road with its wide appeal and popular prices. But now take a look: in reds its easy going softly delivered structures are aquiring power and complexity, a sense of terroir as well as varietal character; its whites are fresher with greater minerality, more interesting with food now and again, in the best of them, a sense of belonging (that word again, “terroir”) and again clearer varietal definition.  Indeed,  the wines of chile are getting better and better; the work in the vineyards and the winemaking and the ambition, coming to fruition now to produce the best possible wines with regional focus and affinity to food.  American, Spanish and French influenced, Chile`s cuisine is diverse and its wines now just as diverse which makes for fascinating matches. For instance, in Chile it is a practice on Sundays to eat Spanish “Empanadas”(a spicy beef dish with raisins) washed down with their Merlot or Carmenere.  Here we rarely use raisins to such tasty effect, but the point is that the  suppleness and fruitiness of these wines will wash over most foods nicely, and when meat and fruitiness combine on a plate, well, Chilean Merlot and Carmenere are tried and tested companions. Their Cabernets take on a Bordeaux character and while lamb is textbook, they may also be enjoyed with roasted beef or chicken. Sauvignon Blanc works in Chile to good effect, being a match for the widely enjoyed avocado dishes and the lime and raw onion Ceviche. Their fish and shellfish supply also assures good use of their Chardonnays.


  • Vistamar Brisa Chardonnay, Central Valley 2013 £6.99
  • Arboleda Marsanne-Viognier-Roussanne 2009 £15.99
  • Montes Alpha Chardonnay, Casablanca 2012 £12.99
  • Montes “Outer Limits” Sauvignon Blanc, Zapallar Vineyard 2012 £16.99
  • Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca 2013 £9.99
  • Emiliana Riesling Reserva, Bio Bio 2011, Organic £9.99
  • Vina Leyda Falaris Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Leyda Valley 2012 £14.99
  • Ventisquero Chardonnay Reserva, Casablanca 2011
  • Ventisquero Pinot Grigio Reserva, Lolol 2013 £9.99
  • Grey Chardonnay, Tapihue Vineyard, Single Block, Casablanca Valley 2011£14.99
  • Anakena Enco, Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2012 £10.99
  • La Paz Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley 2013 £7.49
  • Outer Limits, Sauvignon Blanc “Zapallar Vineyard” 2013 £16.99
  • Clos de Fous, Chardonnay 2011 £13.99
  • Ventisquero Unoaked Chardonnay, Central Valley 2012 £7.99
  • Ventisquero Sauvignon Reserva 2013 £9.99
  • Ventisquero Sauvignon Blanc Clasico 2013 £7.99



  • Grey GCM, Apalta Vineyard, Single Block, Colchagua Valley 2013 £14.99
  • Montes Outer Limits CGM, Apalta 2012 £20.99
  • Montes Classic Series Merlot, Colchagua 2012 £9.99
  • Grey Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley, Trinidad Vineyard, Single Block 2009£14.99
  • Montes Alpha Pinot Noir, Aconagua Costa 2012 £14.99
  • Montes Limited Selection Pinot Noir, Casablanca 2012 £10.99
  • Outer Limits, Pinot Noir “Zapallar Vineyard” 2012 £20.99
  • Grey Pinot Noir, Las Terrazas Vineyard, Single Block, Leyda Valley 2012£14.99
  • Enclave Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo 2010 £49.00
  • Grey Syrah, Apalta Vineyard, Single Block, Colchagua Valley 2010 £14.99
  • Vertice, Colchagua Valley, Apalta Vineyard, Colchagua Valley 2006 £26.99
  • Anakena Tama, Syrah 2011 £10.99
  • Anakena Tama, Carmenere 2011 £10.99
  • Anakena Enco Pinot Noir Reserva 2012 £10.99
  • Anakena Enco Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2011 £10.99
  • Urban, Maule Valley (Red Blend) 2009 £9.99
  • Purple Angel, Colchagua 2011 £32.99
  • Montes Folly, Syrah 2008 £40.00
  • TH Umari, Syrah 2009 £16.99
  • Vina Haras de Pirque Elegance, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 £24.99
  • Albis, Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere 2002 £37.99
  • Terra Mater, Pinot Noir 2009 £10.99
  • La Paz Merlot, Central Valley 2011 £7.49
  • Terra Mater, Cabernet / Carmenere 2009 £8.99
  • Grey Merlot, Apalta Vineyard, Single Block, Colchagua Valley 2007 £14.99
  • Terra Mater, Zinfandel / Shiraz 2010 £8.99
  • Heru Pinot Noir, Casablanca 2010 £24.99
  • Pangea, Apalta Vineyards Syrah 2008 £32.99
  • Vina Chocolan Carmenere Seleccion, Maipo Valley 2010 £9.99
  • Ventisquero Carmenere Reserva, Colchagua Valley 2010 £9.99
  • Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon Clasico, Central Valley 2012 £7.99
  • Ventisquero Pinot Noir Reserva, Casablanca Valley 2011 £10.99
  • Ventisquero Merlot Clasico, Central Valley 2013 £7.99
  • Grey Carmenere, Trinidad Vineyard, Single Block, Maipo Valley 2009 £14.99



  • Montes Cherub, Syrah Rose 2009 £9.99
  • Ventisquero Merlot Rose, Central Valley 2013 £7.99



  • Torres Santa Digna Estelado Rose £13.99



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Mud House July Offer

Mud House Winery, New Zealand

July Offer

Riesling, Waipara 2012, £13.99 – reduced to £10.99

Pale green colour.  Pure citrus and floral scents, with a richer background of honeysuckle and spice. A beautifully balanced Riesling with fine minerality and a hint of sweetness on the finish.

Favourite food match:  Thai fish cakes & green salad

Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough 2013, £13.99 – reduced to £10.99

Pale green colour.  Heady aromas of fresh grapefruit, guava and nettles. A crisp and vibrant palate with concentrated fruit flavours. The classic green bean and tropical fruits on the front palate meld perfectly with the zesty grapefruit acidity giving the wine a juicy refreshing finish. A classic Marlborough Sauvignon.

Favourite food match: Salad Nicoise

Pinot Gris, South Island 2012, £13.99 – reduced to £10.99

Straw yellow colour. An enticing mix of pear, nectarine and ginger spice. A refreshing style of Pinot Gris with mouth-filling fruit flavours and a long, generous finish.

Favourite food match: Smoked salmon

Chardonnay, Hungry Hill 2012, £20.99 – reduced to £16.99

Golden yellow colour. White peach, citrus and sweet oak aromas, accompanied by a flinty minerality. A refined palate, layered with fresh stone fruit and a distinctive toasted brioche flavour. A lengthy elegant finish.

Favourite food match: Grilled sea bass

Gewurztraminer, Marlborough 2012 – £13.99 – reduced to £10.99

Yellow with a hint of copper in the colour. Beautifully fragrant with aromas of rose petal and tangerine. The wine shows mouth filling fruit concentration with a pure flavour and a long musky finish.

Favourite food match: Green Thai curry

Pinot Noir, Central Otago 2012 , £15.99 – reduced to £12.99

Light ruby colour, translucent. Bright aromas of cherry and red fruits layered with gentle notes of spice and mocha. Generous dark cherry and bramble flavours are complimented by hints of dried herb and oak. Fine acidity provides a lovely structure to the wine.

Favourite food match: Roast lamb

Offer is valid until July 12th 2014 (subject to availability)


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Great Horkesley 2014 Wine Festival

All your questions answered, plus a full list of the wines on offer:

Great Horkesley 2014 Wine Festival

The Occasion

Welcome to our 12th wine festival in the Garden. This year we remember D-Day, the heroes and the fallen. 70 years ago today, in 1944, the Allied Forces landed in occupied France along a 50 mile stretch of the Normandy coast – the largest amphibious invasion in world history – in what was a decisive blow against Nazi Germany and a turning point in the war, eventually leading to victory in May 1945. We remember and we honour the courageous young men and women who fought and died for us there on the beaches, so that we may have our freedom.

The Tasting

You each have just one glass (Riedel), so please keep it with you for the evening.  There is no particular order in which you are to taste, so please roam from table to table freely; however, be sure to rinse your glass with water between white, red and sweet wines.  There are 60 wines in total, so for maximum enjoyment please do use the spittoons and drink plenty of water.  Enjoy the wines alongside our tasty deli foods but watch out for any food/wine clashes, such as tannic reds alongside fish – the wine is likely to turn metallic in your mouth!  The wines themselves are fine examples of their type by some of the best winemakers in the world, so enjoy!

Your Wine Orders

The wines on offer this evening are new vintage wines. Stocks of many of these wines have only recently arrived in the UK, sitting now in London ready for dispatch to Gt Horkesley next week. Place your wine orders with us this evening and we`ll have them delivered here by Saturday 14th June for you to collect at your convenience.  There is no minimum order – a single bottle of your favourite wine will suffice – however, should you order six bottles or more you will receive 10% discount. Please ask if delivery is required.

Carry on the Party

The tasting finishes at 9pm when the bar will open, with drinks served at shop prices. There will be fresh beers, champagnes and more wines from our visiting winemakers, including some mature vintages which we currently have in stock. A separate list can be seen on the bar. The Chilli Con Carne suppers will be served asap after 9.15pm.

Special thanks to the Yew Tree for the use of their car park in support of this evening`s event. Feel free to leave your cars there overnight. We suggest, if you are able to walk to The Yew Tree, that you meet your taxis there (to avoid the congestion in our own car park). They will be serving coffees from 10pm to 11pm so you might like to take advantage of their hospitality while you wait for your lift!

Please do not drink and drive.

Thank you everyone – safe journey home.

Anthony Borges,


(01206) 271 236

Bottle sizes are all 75cl unless specified

Table 1 – Trentham, Hollick, Glenelly and The Curator

Presented by Julie and Robin Maitland, Seckford Agencies

Wines presented by Julie Maitland and her son Robin, both of Seckford Wine Agencies who represent the UK interests of all the wineries here today. Seckford is a key supplier to The Wine Centre and coincidentally the Maitland’s are also family!! This evening they are showcasing a selection of wines from the Trentham and Hollick estates, as well as new wines in-store, Glenelly and The Curator.

1)   Trentham Pinot Noir Classic, Murray River Valley, NSW, Australia 2013 (red) £11.99

2)   Trentham Nebbiolo, La Famiglia, Murray River Valley, NSW, Australia 2012 (red) £12.99

3)   Trentham Heathcote Shiraz, Family Reserve, Murray River Valley, NSW, Australia 2009 (red) £18.99

4)   Trentham Noble Taminga, Murray River Valley, NSW, Australia 2010 Half Bottle 37.5cl (sweet) £9.99

5)   Hollick Tannery Block Cab Sauv/Merlot, Coonawarra, Australia 2010 (red) £19.99

6)   Hollick Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia 2010 (red) £23.99

7)   Hollick The Nectar Botrytis Riesling, Coonawarra, Australia 2011 Half Bottle 37.5cl (sweet) £15.99

8)   Grand Vin de Glenelly (Shiraz/Cab Sauv/Merlot/Petit Verdot) Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2008  (red) £17.99

9)   The Curator (Shiraz/Mourvedre/Cinsaut/Viognier), Swartland, S. Africa 2011 (red) £9.99

Table 2 – Stanley Estates

Presented by Steve Pellet, Owner

With degrees in horticulture from the University of Bath, Steve Pellett and Bridget Ennals set off, in true intrepid explorer mode, to travel through Africa then back to the UK to work as fruit technologists. But it was another two years before they found the place where they wanted to put down their roots: and that place was at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, under the cool gaze of Mount Tapuae-O-Uenuku (the footprint of the rainbow) in Marlborough’s spectacular Awatere Valley near Blenheim.

They signed up early to the NZ Sustainable Wine growing programme, as they saw this as being the basis and philosophy of their vineyard practices. Such care and attention to detail has really paid dividends – their Sauvignon Blanc, in particular, being a major award-winner.

10)       Stanley Estates Albarino, Marlborough New Zealand  2012 50cl (white) £17.99

11)       Stanley Estates Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand 2013 (white) £14.99

12)       Stanley Estates Pinot Gris, Marlborough New Zealand 2012 (white) £16.99

13)       Stanley Estates Pinot Noir, Marlborough New Zealand 2011 (red) £20.99

14)       Stanley Estates Noble Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Half Bottle 37.5cl  (sweet) £14.99

Table 3 – Escarpment

Presented by Larry McKenna, Owner/Winemaker

Larry McKenna – otherwise known as Larry McPinot – is the man behind Escarpment located in NZ`s famous Martinborough vineyards. His name goes hand-in-hand with the best quality Pinot Noir from New Zealand. Anthony and Janet visited Larry in New Zealand in 2010 and later that same year he presided over an unforgettable wine-tasting dinner here at The Wine Centre.  We are delighted to welcome him back.

Escarpment is registered as a Sustainable NZ producer and is currently following a 5 year plan to become organically certified. The vineyards are sited above a natural escarpment above the Huarangarua River on ancient gravels. Overlooking them are the Aorangi Ranges where Maori  legend has it that the Polynesian voyager Kupe  abandoned 3 canoes. The  upturned canoes are still clearly visible, silhouetted along the top of the ridge and Kupe’s silhouette takes pride of place on every Escarpment label. After 21 years winemaking experience in Martinborough, Larry is now defining the terroir of the Martinborough geographic region with his exciting range of single vineyard wines. Recently when Larry picked up the prestigious George Fistonich medal at the NZ International Wine Show, he commented: “It’s one of those life time achievement things you get when you have been around too long”, which is typical of the man, as modest and humorous as he is brilliant.

15)       The Edge Pinot Gris, Martinborough, New Zealand 2013 (white) £12.99

16)       The Edge Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand 2013 (red) £13.99

17)       Escarpment Pinot Blanc, Martinborough, New Zealand 2012 (white) £13.99

18)       Escarpment Pinot Gris, Martinborough, New Zealand 2012 (white) £16.99

19)       Escarpment Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand 2011 (red) £20.99

20)       Kupe Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand 2011 (red) £31.99

21)       Hinemoa Riesling, Martinborough, New Zealand 2011 Half Bottle 37.5cl (sweet) £13.99

Table 4 – Kaapzicht

Presented by Brian Holt, UK Representative

In South Africa, Danie Steytler is considered one of the top two producers of Pinotage in the country. He wins numerous awards and accolades for his Pinotage wines, and for the Vision (a Cape blend with 40% Pinotage). He is passionate about Pinotage, the grape which in Danie’s words ‘put Kaapzicht on the map’.

Kaapzicht is situated up in the Bottelary Hills with magnificent views towards Table Mountain (hence the name Kaapzicht: ‘Cape View’). The farm (first mentioned in 1712) has been farmed by the Steytler family since 1946 and is now in the tender care of third generation Danie Steytler (winemaker) and his brother George (viticulturist); Danie’s wife Yngvild jets around the globe, looking after exports and marketing. Fourth generation Danie junior recently joined this family affair, with oenology studies and 4 years of flying winemaker experience under his belt, is throwing himself into exciting new projects. Plans include a single vineyard, top of the range wooded Chenin and a Sparkling wine. Watch this space!

22)       Kaapzicht Estate Red (Cab Sauv/Shiraz) , Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2011 (red) £11.99

23)       Kaapzicht Bin 3 Cabernet/Merlot, Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2010 (red) £11.99

24)       Kaapzicht Shiraz, Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2010 (red) £16.99

25)       Kaapzicht Pinotage, Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2010 (red) £16.99

26)       Kaapzicht Steytler Pinotage, Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2010 (red) £28.99

27)       Kaapzicht Steytler Vision (Cab Sauv/Pinotage/ Merlot), Stellenbosch, S. Africa 2008 (red) £31.99

28)       Blind wine (white). Guess the grape – £18.99

Table 5 – Bouchard Finlayson

Presented by Peter Finlayson, Owner/Winemaker

Bouchard Finlayson is a top class, internationally renowned estate, situated in Walker Bay, mid-way between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas (the most southerly tip of Africa). The climate is largely influenced by the nearby cold Atlantic Ocean rendering it one of the coolest wine-growing areas in the Cape. The Hemel-en-Aarde valley, home to Bouchard Finlayson, is surrounded and sheltered by a mountain barrier, formed by Galpin Peak (810 metres) and the Tower of Babel (1200 metres), which traps the cloud cover and moisture brought in from the sea by the prevailing wind.

The estate is committed to conservation and sustainable farming, and they strongly believe their BWI ‘Champion status’ membership sets them apart from other winemaking regions in the world. BWI (Biodiversity and Wine Initiative) is a partnership between the South African wine industry and the conservation sector, aimed at protecting the Cape’s rich floral kingdom. To this end, only 19ha of their most precious resource – the land – is under vine as the natural indigenous fynbos (a valuable ecosystem) is being preserved.

A part-time environmental consultant and respected botanist Frank Woodvine, has been employed by the farm to manage and coordinate all conservation activities.

 29)       Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer, Walker Bay, S. Africa (Riesling/ Viognier/Sauv Bl/ Chenin/ Chard) 2013 (white) £11.99

 30)       Bouchard Finlayson Sauvignon Blanc, Walker Bay, S. Africa 2013 (white) £13.99

 31)       Bouchard Finlayson Sans Barrique Chardonnay, Walker Bay, S. Africa 2013 (white) £14.99

 32)       Bouchard Finlayson Crocodile`s Lair Chardonnay, Walker Bay, S. Africa 2013 (white) £16.99

 33)       Bouchard Finlayson Missionvale Chardonnay, Walker Bay, S. Africa 2011 (white) £20.99

 34)       Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal (Sangiovese/Pinot Noir / Nebbiolo/ Mourvedre Barbera/Shiraz), Walker Bay, S. Africa 2012 (red) £24.99

 35)       Bouchard Finlayson Galpin Peak Pinot Noir, Walker Bay, S. Africa 2012 (red) £28.99

 Table 6 – Paul Cluver

Presented by Liesl Cluver, Marketing Director

 The Cluver family bought the De Rust farm in 1896 to provide summer grazing for their livestock. In the mid 1900’s it became a strong apple producing region and was subsequently identified as a cool climate wine-growing region. This led to the establishment in 1986 of the first winery in Elgin – that of the Paul Cluver Cellar. Recognised as pioneers of wine in the area, the focus is on producing elegant wines that are expressive of the terroir.  The wine business forms part of larger holistic farming business called ‘De Rust Estate’. In addition to the vineyards and cellar, there are apple and pear orchards, a Hereford stud and eco-tourism activities, including amphitheatre concerts on the farm. This 2000+ hectare estate forms part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the Kogelberg Biosphere. Half of the estate has been set aside for conservation into perpetuity.

 36)       Paul Cluver Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin, S. Africa 2013 (white) £12.99

 37)       Paul Cluver Gewurztraminer, Elgin, S. Africa 2013 (white) £12.99

 38)       Paul Cluver Close Encounter Riesling, Elgin, S. Africa 2012 (white) £13.99

 39)       Paul Cluver Chardonnay, Elgin, S. Africa 2011 (white) £15.99

 40)       Paul Cluver Pinot Noir, Elgin, S. Africa 2012  (red) £15.99

 41)       Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest Riesling, Elgin, S. Africa 2012 Half Bottle 37.5cl (sweet) £15.99

 42)       Blind wine (red). Guess the grape – £20.99

 Table 7 – Catherine Marshall Wines

Presented by Cathy Marshall, Owner/Winemaker

 We welcome Cathy Marshall back to The Wine Centre, having enjoyed her company when she was guest speaker at one of our “table of eighteen” dinners last year. Cathy is one of those charismatic big personality types you want to be sitting next to at dinner, just for the fun of it, but also because the experience is bound to be an education! The font of all knowledge when it comes to her subject, Cathy founded the Barefoot Wine Company  in 1997 – what was, at the time,  the first true boutique winery in the Western Cape. Cathy pioneered her ‘alternative’ approach to winemaking,  characterised by the use of a low-tech, but meticulous hands-on methodology which set the trend for the burgeoning ‘Garagiste’ movement. Thanks to Cathy’s tireless efforts, the company grew from humble beginnings (with a handful of friends and family gathering at harvest-time to press the grapes barefoot) to become an institution – inspiring hundreds of enthusiastic participants to attend the annual BWC ‘foot-stomps’!.

Her prowess has earned her a well-founded reputation for excellence. Since those early days, she has travelled the globe to build her business into a truly global affair (now known as Catherine Marshall Wines), operating from her base in Elgin. While all her wines are exceptional, our absolute favourite is the sweet fortified wine she calls Myriad. Try it with cheese!

 43)       Catherine Marshall Sauvignon Blanc, Elgin, S. Africa 2013 (white) £11.99

 44)       Catherine Marshall Amatra Chenin Blanc, Elgin, S. Africa 2013 (white) £13.99

 45)       Catherine Marshall Amatra Merlot, Elgin, S. Africa 2012 (red) £14.99

 46)       Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir, Elgin, S. Africa 2012 (red) £15.99

 47)       Catherine Marshall Pinot Noir Reserve, Elgin, S. Africa 2012  (red) £17.99

 48)       Catherine Marshall Myriad (Merlot), Elgin, S. Africa 2008 Half Bottle 37.5cl (sweet) £15.99

 Table 8 – Spice Route

Presented by Charl (and Michelle) du Plessis, Winemaker

From his early winemaking days at the Perdeberg Co-Op, Charles Back, owner of Spice Route, was mindful of ‘how easily quality happens in Swartland’. Based near Malmesbury in the Swartland region North-west of Paarl, Charles Back established Spice Route in 1997 and continues the innovation that he is so well known for. In common with Charles, Charl du Plessis, the winemaker, shows a commitment to excellence in everything he does. There can be few winemakers who fly back to South Africa after a gruelling three days of London Wine Trade Fair, in order to compete in a cycling marathon just one day later!

Spice Route wines are recognized for their exceptionally ripe and deep flavoured wines. Deep red soils sustain unirrigated bush vines with temperatures being moderated by cool Atlantic breezes rolling in from the west overnight. The vineyards are located at two sites – in Malmesbury and Darling.

49)       Spice Route Chenin Blanc, Swartland, S. Africa 2013 (white) £11.99

 50)       Spice Route Sauvignon Blanc, Swartland, S. Africa 2013 (white) £11.99

 51)       Spice Route Viognier, Swartland, S. Africa 2013 (white) £11.99

 52)       Spice Route Pinotage, Swartland, S. Africa 2012 (red) £11.99

 53)       Spice Route Shiraz, Swartland, S. Africa 2010  (red) £11.99

 54)       Chakalaka (Syrah/Mourvedre/Carignan/Petit Sirah/Grenache/Tannat), Swartland, S. Africa 2011 (red) £14.99

 55)       Malabar (Syrah/Mourvedre/Petit Sirah/Grenache/Tannat), Swartland 2007 (red) £30.99

 Table 9 – Darling Cellars

Presented by Lisbet Ryg Olsen, European Sales Manager

Darling Cellars is situated on the West Coast some fifty miles North of Cape Town, in Darling, where the vineyards enjoy the coolness of the Darling Hills three miles from the roaring Atlantic. Other vineyards bask in sun in the flatter hinterland.  Their winemaking team thus has an abundance of flavour profiles to play with, not to mention a funky mix of varieties.  Darling is best known for Shiraz  and Sauvignon Blanc as well as old-vine Chenin Blanc and Pinotage, but their winemakers actually have fifteen red varieties and nine white varieties at their disposal.   96% of their vineyards are un-irrigated bush-vines so yields are very low and the quality proportionately high. We think they offer exceptional value, sub £10 retail; and in Chocoholic we see a potential big-brand emerging which is already going great guns in the capable hands of Lisbet Ryg Olsen (ably assisted in the UK by Seckford Agencies).

 56)       Darling Cellars Chenin Blanc `Arum Fields` Terroir Collection, Darling, S. Africa 2013 (white) £7.99

 57)       Darling Cellars Cinsault/Cabernet Sauvignon `Terra Hutton` Terroir Collection, Darling, S. Africa 2012 (red) £7.99

 58)       Darling Cellars `Mariette` (Chenin/Chard/Viognier/Bukettraube), Grower`s Signature, Darling, S. Africa 2013  (white) £9.99

 59)       Darling Cellars `The Chairman` (Shiraz/Cinsaut/ Mourvedre), Grower`s Signature, Darling, S. Africa 2012 (red) £9.99

60)       Chocoholic Pinotage, Darling, S. Africa 2013(red) £10.99

Our thanks to Seckford Agencies and to our friends from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Tonight only – 10% off when you order 6 bottles or more

Thank you all very much for attending, safe journey home