Over the festive season, there was plenty of exciting racing to enjoy. The 32Red Kempton Park Winter Festival on Boxing Day and 27th December featured in the King George VI Chase the Thistlecrack v Cue Card contest, who were both trained by Colin Tizzard, in the most hotly anticipated jump-racing encounter of the season so far. The crowds turned out to see the fascinating contest with Thistlecrack taking breathtaking leaps, which was reminiscent of the mighty Desert Orchid, to secure victory. Tom Scudamore, Thistlecrack’s jockey, enjoyed a spectacular ride to his first victory in the feature event of the Christmas racing programme, a race his grandfather Michael won as a jockey in 1956 but always eluded his father Peter. As a result, Thistlecrack is now a very short priced 4-5 favourite for Cheltenham Gold Cup in just 2 months’ time, with the next in the market another Colin Tizzard horse Native River at 8/1. There was also a good performance by Yanworth in the Christmas Hurdle and it will be interesting to see if Yanworth runs in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for which is currently priced at 5/1. As well as marking the card The Wine Tipster was presenting top wines from the Jockey Club wine list with Sancerre Les Chasseignes, Domaine Fouassier, Macôn Rouge, Domaine Dupré and Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV proving very popular at this particular meeting.
At Warwick on New Year’s Eve a massive crowd of over 6,000 people came racing and General Manager, Andre Klein and his team are doing a top job here with more exciting plans for the future. The Wine Tipster had great fun on the mic marking the card as well as seeing lots of familiar faces in the 1707 and Kingmaker Restaurants. The winning wines here were Catena Appellation Vista Flores Malbec, Voltolino Gavi and Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube. Look out for bumper winner Marten trained by Ben Pauling.
Despite the bad weather Cheltenham welcomed over 30,000 on the gate on New Year’s Day, with the victory of Whisper the most eye-catching performance of the day. This also marked the first day of coverage by ITV where Ed Chamberlin and the team came straight out of the gates with pace, passion, diversity, banter, humour and important horse racing education, which really set a really nice tone. Everyone did a top job and most importantly, horseracing welcomed lots of new fans who will be back next Saturday on ITV 4 for The Morning Show and the afternoon coverage from a cracking card at Sandown and Wincanton.
As the year draws to close, The Wine Tipster has reflected on some of his favourite wines and in particular those he feels would be ideal over the festive season. Here is his selection;
Champagne and Sparkling
Prosecco Masottina DOC Brut Treviso – BBR, £13.95
Masottina make a seriously fine range of Prosecco and their Brut is a crowd-pleasing Prosecco with fine bubbles and intense, fruity aromas of apple, lemon and grapefruit with a lovely hint of spice and ginger.
Canard-Duchêne Authentic Brut – Waitrose, on offer at £25.49
Completely underrated Champagne house who make excellent fruity and complex bubbles that offer great value. Their fresh Authentic Brut has lovely balance of citrus fruit, white flowers and red fruits. Look out for their Charles V11 range too, which are very refined.
Gauchezco Vineyard Sparkling Pinot Noir Rosé Extra Brut– Ocado, £14.99
Gauchezco represents the traditional Gaucho culture from Argentina. This is a producer which is a name to watch and their 100% Pinot Noir sparkler is full flavoured, well balanced, stylish with attractive cherry fruit flavours and zingy acidity.
Zalze Chenin Blanc 2015 Vineyard Reserve – Co-op, £8.99
The Co-op have really stepped up their wine selection in the last few years and this South African Chenin Blanc from Zalze is an excellent recent recruit. This is the perfect dry easy drinking white to be enjoyed over the festive season with tropical, ripe pineapple and peach aromas, balanced fruit and crisp acidity.
Yalumba Viognier 2015 – Waitrose, £12.99
Australian producer Yalumba pioneered a renaissance of this rare, exotic and alluring variety. Devotion and hard work have seen Yalumba become internationally recognised as one of the world’s most accomplished Viognier winemakers. This is a Grade One performer made by a Grade One producer who bring this grape variety to life and capture the attractive peach and apricot flavours. Top wine.
If you’re looking for a perfect pairing for your Christmas turkey, then Jackson Estate ‘Vintage Widow’ Pinot Noir 2013 from Marlborough, New Zealand would be ideal. Currently on offer at £16.99 at Majestic when bought as a case of 6 bottles or save 25% at Ocado(RRP £19.49 – available from Majestic Wine & Ocado). ‘Vintage Widow’ is named in recognition of the partners and families of those who are overlooked during vintage. This 2013 is a wonderful and delicious combination of cherries, plums. spice and herbaceous character and ‘Vintage Widow’ 2013 will benefit from decanting a couple of hours before serving.
Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Villages 2015 – Waitrose, down to £6.74 from £8.00
This popular and versatile Rhône is a must for the Christmas basket. Great with lamb or ideal if you like a glass of red with character. For the fuller style to match with beef then try their Les Dauphins Vinsobres 2013 Côtes du Rhône which is great value at £11.99 from Waitrose.
Elysium, Black Muscat 2014, Andrew Quady, Majestic – £9.99 per half bottle
Elysium is Greek for Heaven, a fitting association for this excellent wine made by Andrew Quady. Virtually black in colour, with a rose-like aroma, very intense on the palate and full of fantastic rich velvety fruit, yet has great balance and is not too cloying.One of the few wines that can stand up to chocolate puddings. Or try it poured over ice cream for the ultimate after-dinner treat!
Sandeman 20 year old Tawny Port, Waitrose, £29.99 down from £37.40
Sandeman are globally recognised for the quality of their tawny ports and the 20-year-old should be part of the cast of any Christmas lunch. A wonderful rich and elegant combination of flavours of dried apricots, honey, nuts, spices, vanilla creates an endlessly complex wine that has a brilliant length of finish which goes on and on. Great with nuts, mince pies and hard cheeses like Grana Padano. The Wine Tipster features Sandeman Tawny Port on a regular basis because they are so versatile and not just a port for Christmas!
Here are a couple of good reads for the Festive period.
For those of planning your trip to Venice then The Wine Tipster can highly recommend this excellent guide; Venice an entire world by Mario Anton Orefice published by Marcianum Press at £9.35
Corkscrew by Peter Stafford-Bow, published by I_AM Self Publishing, 2016,£9.99 from all good bookshops.
Settle down, grab a glass of fizz and have a good laugh at an improbable tale of a professional wine buyer. Mark my words, you will enjoy!
Cheers to a Happy Christmas and New Year.
The Wine Tipster was in action at the Ideal Home Christmas Show recently presenting the wines of Jackson Estate from Marlborough, New Zealand. He enjoyed taking to the stage again in the Food & Drink theatre.
The Jackson family arrived in New Zealand in 1842 and in 1855 Adam Jackson bought the first blocks of land in the heart of the Marlborough region, along what was to become known as Jacksons Road. John Stichbury is the fifth generation of the Jackson Family to farm the land. In 1987 John and Jo planted the first vines and the first wines were released in 1991 under the Jackson Estate label. Jackson Estate believes in a few very simple principles – the best modern winemaking techniques; a respect for vineyard sites; and unerring pursuit of varietal integrity; and through this a strong, identifiable and much admired style.
Four wines were tasted; Named after owner and Founder John Stichbury, Jackson Estate ‘Stich’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is distinctly aromatic and intensely flavoured finishing with refreshingly crisp acidity. It has won many awards and received critical acclaim. This would be a perfect accompaniment to fish and chips. It is also a special wine for The Wine Tipster as it was the first New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc he bought in Waitrose so he will always have a soft spot for it.
RRP £13.29 – available from Waitrose, Majestic, Ocado & Tesco.com. Many seasonal offers available.
The Grey Ghost is the giant gum tree planted in 1867 by John’s great grandmother, Alice and today graces all Jackson Estate wine labels. Jackson Estate ‘Grey Ghost’ Sauvignon Blanc 2013 shows fresh bright notes of elderflower blossom on the nose with white peach and citrus supported by a beautiful underlying rich farmhouse cheese character. This is an outstanding Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, which is wonderful blend of barrel fermented juice and stainless steel juice, with lees ageing to add further texture and complexity. A top wine for pairing with chicken in a creamy sauce or full flavoured fish dishes including mackerel, monkfish and trout.
RRP £18.00 – available from Majestic, TheDrinkShop.com & Tesco.com. Many seasonal offers available.
Don’t forget about Chardonnay! The Jackson Estate ‘Shelter Belt’ Chardonnay 2013 shows fresh citrus and honeysuckle flavours which follow through to the palate and are enriched with hints of warm biscuity lees. An unctuous texture and fine acidity lead to a long lingering finish. ‘Shelter Belt’ has some barrel and stainless steel fermentation, with nine months ageing in oak and is a lovely of intense Chardonnay fruit and subtle oak. This wine would lend itself well to white meat dishes and lovely fish like turbot.
RRP £17.00 – available from Ocado & TheDrinkShop.com. Many seasonal offers available
If you’re looking for a perfect pairing for your Christmas turkey, then Jackson Estate ‘Vintage Widow’ Pinot Noir 2013 would be ideal. It is named in recognition of the partners and families of those who are overlooked during vintage. This wine will benefit from a couple of hours in a Decanter and is a wonderfully versatile wine for food pairing as game, roasted turkey, lamb, mushroom risotto and vegetarian tarts like stilton and celery all work.
RRP £19.49 – available from Majestic Wine & Ocado. Many seasonal offers available
Or you could splash out on their stunning Jackson Estate Gum Emperor Pinot Noir 2011, a single vineyard Pinot Noir named after the Gum Emperor Moth Opodiphthera Eucalypti that makes it home on the edge of the vineyards. Dark brooding aromatics are lifted by higher notes of violets, blackcurrants and spice. Flavours of black plums, licorice and earthy forest floor tones combine to form a truly complex wine. Big full-flavoured dishes like game, beef and a mushroom tart are all fab pairings
RRP £26.99 The Drink Shop.com, Rollings Wine Merchants (Harpenden), Christopher Piper Wines & Cheers Wine Merchants.
The winery continues to combine its advanced winemaking techniques with an old world approach. A new Pinot Noir winery is being built at the moment and is due to open next year. They are rightly proud of their winery, as such, welcome visitors by appointment to their home in Marlborough – Jackson Estate .
It was also a pleasure to catch up with charismatic winemaker, Matt Patterson-Green who has been creating these stunning wines for over a decade and to present them to the enthusiastic audience.
Last weekend, Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire enjoyed a perfect day for the 60th running of Hennessy Gold Cup. Run over 3 miles and 2½ furlongs, the £200,000 Hennessy Gold Cup is one of racing’s biggest tests for horse and jockey, won by many of racing’s best loved stars including Mandarin, Arkle and Denman. This year, the trophy was presented by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall.
The Wine Tipster backed Native River who set off as 7-2 favourite and crossed the line half-a-length in front of fast-finishing Carole’s Destrier (25-1) with Double Ross (50-1) a gallant third. Native River not only jumped well but showed he’s also a stayer in an impressive and exciting finish. It was also The Wine Tipster’s nap of the day in his On The Box column in Racing Plus continuing his fantastic tipping run.
This win formed the middle of a treble for trainer Colin Tizzard, a yard in great form at the moment, enjoying wins for Thistlecrack and Ultragold (9-2) in the bet365 Handicap Chase.
The Wine Tipster took some time out to chat with Radio Berkshire where he shared his tips and enjoyed a warming cocktail appropriately named, Horse’s neck. It is a combination of Hennessy Fine de Cognac with ginger ale and a slice of lime. Ideal for a winter’s day at the Races.
This Friday and Saturday The Wine Tipster will be presenting at The Tingle Creek Christmas Festival at Sandown Park in Esher. Sandown Park is a wonderful racecourse and, as ever,we have two cracking days of racing ahead.
See you there!
Last weekend, The Wine Tipster, continued his magnificent form with another 4 winners. There were 3 winners at Cheltenham with Taquin Du Seuil, winning The Bet Victor feature race on Saturday Moon Racer and Fox Norton on Sunday in addition to Wells du Lune at Wetherby.
It was also a significant and emotional weekend for trainer Nicky Henderson. On the positive side, Sprinter Sacre was paraded at the racecourse on his retirement. This finest of all two-mile chasers has achieved the unthinkable, with Henderson planning it all every step of the way, nurturing him back to fitness. The 10-year-old banked more than £1.1m from 18 wins, nine at the Grade 1 level which includes a rare hat trick of success at all three of the major spring festivals – Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown in 2013. With Nicky Henderson as a patron, let’s hope that Sprinter Sacre will soon be playing a role at horse racing charity, Greatwood.
Sadly, Remembrance Sunday this year will probably remain in Nicky Henderson’s memory as the day that Simonsig had to be put down after breaking his leg. The 10 year old grey sustained the injury as he fell at the third fence during the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham on Sunday. Simonsig won 8 races from 13 starts despite being plagued with injury throughout his career.
The Wine Tipster will be at Haydock this Saturday at the Betfair Chase, a fascinating clash between Coneygree and Cue Card.
With four winners out of seven on Saturday, The Wine Tipster is on winning form. He successfully backed Gentleman Jon (9/1 backed at 14/1) who won the feature Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton, Thomas Brown, Growl and Un Temps Pour Tout in his On The Box column on Saturday. This sparkling form follows on from his successful tips in recent weeks with Rosie Briar tipped up at Doncaster at 20/1 and Antony in the competitive Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase at 11/1 (backed at 14/1).
This weekend, he will be presenting at The Open at Cheltenham where he will be combining his key passions, talking racing, wine and food. The Open provides three days of adrenalin-packed action with the highlight of the first half of the Jump season, the BetVictor Gold Cup.
Racing also takes place on Sunday (the only Sunday racing that takes place at Cheltenham throughout the year) with entertainment for the whole family to enjoy as well as six races on the card including feature race, The Greatwood Hurdle. Greatwood is the fantastic horse welfare charity who care for retired racehorses and educate disadvantaged children and young adults with special educational needs.
Look out for The Wine Tipster’s selections in On The Box in Racing Plus on Saturday with the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham the main race of the day.
Neil Phillips, racing pundit, twitter tipster, wine connoisseur, Champagne & Sparkling expert and wine performer can be followed @thewinetipster and also at www.thewinetipster.co.uk
Whether you are planning a party over the festive season or are just looking for something sparkling to enjoy over the next few months, here are a few sparklers that I have enjoyed recently and will no doubt be popular with your guests.
Prosecco Villa Sandi IL Fresco DOC, Treviso, Italy
The Villa Sandi head office is a Palladian style masterpiece dating back to 1622. It is surrounded by fertile countryside in which fields and farms, nowadays as well as in the past, pay homage to the local history. A vibrant setting where nature and architecture live in total harmony. The Moretti Polegato family have been devoted to wine for many generations and have fostered this ancient tradition by promoting grape growing in the area on a modern basis. Giancarlo Moretti Polegato carries on the family tradition today. The winery has won many awards over the years. Grapes are grown in the area between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Villa Sandi bottles its Prosecco to order – one aspect of the winemaking process that makes it different from many other producers. The must is held in tanks at zero degrees, and the secondary fermentation (in Prosecco this also happens in tank – the charmat method in French winemaking terminology), and bottling are done in batches. The use of added sulphur is low – around half the legal limit – and alcohol is always around 11.5% abv. Lovely easy drinking refreshing fizz with a light zesty nose. A little apple and pear with a creamy texture with a dry finish.
Stockists: Dolce Vita Wines, Annessa Imports, North South Wines, House of Townend (North and Midlands), The Wine Importers (Scotland). Pricing around £10.99.
Some Restaurants in London with Villa Sandi Prosecco in the wine List are:
Theo Randall at the Intercontinental
Campo Viejo Cava, Catalonia, Spain
Campo Viejo has a long history dating back to the Roman Empire however it has only been in the last century that the name has become synonymous with Rioja wines. From the first vintage in 1959 to the creation of their signature ‘Rioja Bottle’ in 1961 and the unveiling of their new state-of-the-art sustainable winery in 2001, they have been at the forefront of Rioja winemaking. From the vine to the bottle, they adhere to sustainable winemaking practices. The winery is also seamlessly integrated with the environment to minimise their impact whilst allowing them to create vibrant, colourful wines that are a true expression of Rioja’s Tempranillo.
The Cava Brut Reserva NV is made from musts produced from carefully selected grapes (a blend of Xarello, Parellada and Macabeo) and vinified at a controlled temperature. It then undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle, following the traditional method. The resulting cava is aged as a Brut Reserva for 18 months. A complex nose with fresh floral aromas. Tropical apricots and limes on the palate with a peachy edge. Citrusy finish with good length.
Stockist: Tesco Wine by the case £54.00 (£9.00 per bottle)
In 1859, a cooper named Victor Canard, and Léonie Duchêne, a winegrower’s daughter, met in Ludes. After a whirlwind romance, they were married and in 1868 decided to join their family names and establish the Canard-Duchêne Champagne. Away from the large Houses based in Epernay or Reims, Canard-Duchêne is unusually situated in Ludes, on a hillside, at the very heart of the Montagne de Reims Regional Natural Park where a rich diversity of vines and forests, rare trees and wild fauna make this an exceptional setting. A ﬁrm favourite of Nicolas II Tsar of Russia, Canard-Duchêne was granted the right to adopt the symbol of the Russian Empire, a double-headed eagle. A sword was added to honour an ancient tradition of the Napoleon cavalry, to present a sword to the hussars in victory. The Hussars used the sword to remove Champagne corks, a tradition still known today as “sabrage”. It is now part of the Thiénot group, owner of its own label Champagne Thiénot, plus Joseph Perrier and Marie Stuart.
For many years, the House has adopted a strict policy of sustainable development and respect for the environment and its Champagnes are crafted entirely from organic grapes.
Canard-Duchéne Cuvée Léonie Green NV, Champagne, France £40.99
Cuvée Léonie Green NV is just such an example of quality winemaking, innovation and a Champagne that should have a much wider audience. Made from organically grown grapes, this blend of 50% Chardonnay, with an equal split of Meunier and Pinot Noir has a wonderful freshness, combined with citrus fruits, roundness and crispness, Delicious!
Stockists: Southsea Wine Company, Vintage Wines
Over 100 people joined Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, at his masterclass, Prosecco DOC and Grana Padano PDO Cheese. “Italian moments – the flavour of joy” in Oxford.
Prosecco continues to develop its growth, and popularity will continue to expand, remaining on-trend with Prosecco DOC producers making excellent sparkling wines. Prosecco DOC are excellent food pairing wines, particularly with Grana Padano, a wonderfully versatile cheese.
The crowd were able to taste two vintages of Grana Padano, Grana Padano aged for over 16 months and Grana Padano “Riserva” aged for at least 20 months – there is a third vintage of Grana Padano aged between 9 and 16 months. They were then paired with a selection of Prosecco.
Not only is Grana Padano a key part of your cheese board, it can also be incorporated into a variety of dishes such as Squid salad with Grana Padano shavings and lemon powder, Risotto with peas, Grana Padano and basil and “ Maltagliati” with chanterelle mushroom sauce and Grana Padano.
For more information on Prosecco DOC (Origin Controlled Designation) go to www.discoverproseccowine.it and Grana Padano PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) www.granapadano.it. The Grana Padano aged over 16 months can be found in major retailers with the Grana Padano Riserva aged over 20 months available in Waitrose, Sainbury’s, Marks & Spencer and specialist shops.
To buy the featured wines they are available as follows: Prosecco Ruggeri Argeo DOC Treviso Brut, visit, www.greatwesternwine.co.uk. Mionetto Treviso DOC Treviso Brut is available on Amazon, Bosco del Merlo DOC Extra Dry 2015 from www.thewineryuk.com and Mionetto DOC Treviso Extra Dry from Tesco.
It has been a great summer for Foodies Festival around the country with excellent sessions in Bristol, Tatton Park, Birmingham and Brighton. The Wine Tipster will be presenting his masterclass, Prosecco DOC and Grana Padano PDO Cheese. “Italian moments – the flavour of joy” at the Foodies Festival in London at Truman Brewery on 18th and 20th November.
The popularity of Champagne and Sparkling wines will continue to grow in 2016, as will the thirst for knowledge and useful tips amongst devoted bubbles fans.
Certainly from a presenting perspective at food festivals, race courses, wine societies and corporate events there is a much greater desire to know more about serving temperatures, vintages, magnums and different styles, providing this is communicated in a down to earth manner (not always the case as we know!). For example, The Wine Tipster’s Prosecco Consortium and Grana Padano sessions at the wonderful Taste of London show in Regent’s Park last year provided a great opportunity to educate and talk about the very bright future for Prosecco, not only in terms of the range of quality Proseccos in both spumante and frizzante styles, but also the differences between brut, dry and extra dry. A key pointer and interest for 2016 will be the growth of Prosecco sales over £10 retail, as the Prosecco story enters a new chapter in the UK. Here is a selection of The Wine Tipster’s winning bets:
Prosecco DOC Bosco del Merlo Millesimato 2014, Paladin, Veneto, Italy, £15.99. Stockist: www.thewinery,com A real star at Taste of London was Bosco del Merlo, produced by Paladin, who are making a fine range of Proseccos. This Bosco del Merlo has attractive citrus fruit, subtle creamy character and crisp acidity. A perfect match with Grana Padano Riserva. Stylish!
Italia Collezione Prosecco Brut NV, Veneto, Italy, DOC, £11.99. Stockist: Waitrose Prosecco is not only great for parties, it is also perfect as a pre-dinner aperitif and this Italia Collezione certainly worked in our house over Christmas. Good value, well made, with aromas of white flowers, lovely refreshing green apple character and creamy texture. Cheers!
Daylesford Organic Prosecco NV, Veneto, Italy, DOC, £12.50: Stockist: Daylesford Daylesford is a cycle ride away for us so I’m a regular visitor not only for this delicious, well-balanced off-dry Prosecco but for their wonderful meats balls too!
Prosecco Salatin Extra Dry NV, DOC Treviso, Italy, £11.99 Stockist: Majestic Based in Cordignano north-east of Conegliano, Azienda Vinicola Salatin are producing a range of seriously good Proseccos. Off-dry, zesty, with citrus fruit and creamy character, Salatin was a great pairing with sushi over the festive period. A winner!
Valdo Oro Pura Prosecco Superiore NV Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy, £13.49. Stockist: Waitrose Really attractive, well made, rounded, soft citrus and creamy Prosecco with a subtle hint of sweetness and crisp acidity. Well worth spending over a tenner for this excellent aperitif style or to pair with Grana Padano Riserva. A Grade One performer!
Prosecco DOC La Gioiosa Etamarosa NV Treviso, Veneto, Italy, £11.99. Stockist: Majestic Made by the well-known and high quality producer Gioiosa, this beautifully packaged Prosecco is lovely and elegant, making it a perfect match with seafood. Pure class!
Neil Phillips aka The Wine Tipster had hot footed it from presenting duties at The Cambridgeshire meeting at Newmarket Races to the Thame Food Festival (www.thamefoodfestival.co.uk) on September 26th.
For the 3rd year in a row, he presented a series of talks in the wonderful Thame Players Theatre (big thanks to Helen Johns and team) to a very enthusiastic and interactive audience. He featured wines from Champagne Taittinger, CVNE Rioja and The Wine Tipster’s Top Tips including Brancott Estate and Campo Viejo. Top wines Taittinger Brut Reserve NV, Nocturne Sec NV, CVNE Imperial Reserva 2009, Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc and Campo Viejo Reserva 2010 were enjoyed by the wine enthusiasts. Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Villages 2013 also featured alongside Cru Bourgeois 2012 Château Semeillan-Mazeau Listrac-Medoc receiving rave reviews in the cheese and wine masterclass.