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.
The wonderful Kauto Star will be pre-parading ahead of The William Hill KIng George VI Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton Park. Without Kauto to dominate the race and the betting market this looks a very open, if slightly sub standard King George. Previously, The Wine Tipster has stated that Long Run will never win another Gold Gup and whilst his record around Kempton is x he may, subject to racing going ahead, find one i
Australia is certainly producing some good kit right now and it appears that there has been an unofficial memo telling producers not to over do the oak and alcohol on the barbie. To give you two good examples
of controlled and crafted wine making try a couple of wines from Vasse Felix, who are based in the Margaret River area in Western Australia. Vasse Felix Cabernet Merlot 2007, Australia £9.99 is well priced, delicious concentrated fruit and chocolaty flavours, finished with the correct dosage of solid structure.Stockist The Wine Tipster has always followed the Sauvignon/Semillon blends form closely and Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon 2008, Australia £9.99 has the correct portion of grassy and gooseberry Sauvignon balanced by the softer Semillon to produce a dry and refreshing finish. Stockist: Waitrose. In terms of a musical accompaniment, The Wine Tipster has always had more devotion to Aussie food than music because Crowded House are too nice and Nick Cave’s morbid journey has left me behind on occasions.But I would like to mention the recently departed Roland S Howard and his song Exit Everything.
With Christmas round the corner, it’s time to buy your bubbly, wines, sherries, spirits and ports. Here’s my time-saving list of recommendations that will work perfectly with every Christmas occasion.
Bubbly and sparkling wines play an important role in any festivities. If you want to create a stylish way to share and enjoy bubbly at your party, then opt for a magnum. They also make great presents! For a really special occasion, buy a vintage champagne. The 10 out of 10 vintage is 2002 and I’d definitely recommend Pommery Cuvée Louise 2002, from Ocado (£109.99). Look out for their Pommery Grand Cru Vintage 2004 too, which is stunning, Ocado (£51.99), Another lovely vintage to enjoy now is the 2006 Jacquart Blanc de Blancs which is excellent and available at Tesco (£40) . For a signature celebration champagne, go for Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, available on offer at Waitrose (£24.99) and also at Sainsbury’s. Serve with a dash of sloe gin.
Alternatively, a magnum of Prosecco, will also add a fun, celebratory feel to any yuletide party. Try the fresh, creamy style of premium Prosecco Magnum NV Masottina from M&S (£19.99). This is also one to carry through and continue to serve with a smoked salmon starter on Christmas Day. Alternatively open a bottle of dry sherry such as Gonzalez Byass Tio Pepe Fino (£9.99) available in all major retailers. Serve this delicious, refreshing sherry chilled. Once opened, you’ll need to drink this within a couple of days. Otherwise, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, such as a good Sancerre, will also work well here like Sancerre Blanc 2013 Domaine Vacheron, at Majestic (£17.99).
Around 68% of us will be eating turkey on Christmas Day, according to a 2014 Gallup survey in Prospect magazine. So what’s the best wine to serve with it? Many opt for a Bordeaux to complement all the rich flavours of the accompanying dishes. If you’re looking for good value, choose a Bordeaux with a Cru Bourgeois label – a mark of quality. Bordeaux wines from 2009 are considered the ‘once in a lifetime’ vintage for Bordeauxs, but the 2010 Bordeaux are also considered exceptional. Bordeaux wines do need to breathe properly, so decant 2-3 hours before serving. Within this style of wine, some of the best value Cru Bourgeois wines are available at Berry Brothers & Rudd, Fine & Rare, Lea & Sandeman and The Wine Society.
Alternatively, a Rioja works well with turkey and game, including venison. Try Campo de Viejo Gran Reserva 2007 at Sainsbury’s (£15.99) or a Louis Jadot CÔte du Beaune-Villages 2012 (£16.99 – buy 2 save 15%) at Majestic, the Jackson Estate Vintage Widow Pinot Noir 2012 at Ocado (£19.49 to £16.49).
On Boxing Day, serve cold turkey with a fabulous Beaujolais such as the ripe and fruity, Château des Labourons Fleurie 2011, produced by Henry Fessy, and available through winedirect.com (£16.99). Or, equally good, the Brouilly Henry Fessy 2012 at Waitrose (£11.99) would also be very good here.
Now the cheeseboard. Pair a classic stilton or Alex James’ Blue Monday with Sandeman Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009 at Waitrose (£15.99 to £12.99) or Sandeman 20-year-old Tawny Port, also from Waitrose, (£32.49). Other wines that will complement cheese include a red such as such a Bordeaux with a good cheddar, while Roquefort is a good match for Sauternes.
Tawny port is also a good accompaniment to mince pies, Christmas pud and as an aperitif, served chilled. Other rich, fruity wines that complement intense fruit flavours include; the Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo VORS – a rich, dark Oloroso sherry, available at Waitrose (£19.99 half bottle), or try Blandys 15-year old Malmsey Madeira from The Oxford Wine Company (£26.99). Alternatively, opt for the rich, luscious flavours of the perfect Christmas tipple, Californian Elysium Rutherglen Black Muscat 2012, (£11.99) available at The Oxford Wine Company.
Good all-round easy drinkers I’m very happy to offer anytime over the festive break include South Africa’s Zalze Sangiovese 2013 (£6.99), available at Co-Op. Peter Yealands’ Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Co-op (£9.99) and Sainsbury’s (on offer £7.50) and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Macon Villages 2013 (£8.99). For a Rose, try Les Dauphins Rosé 2013 at Asda, (£6.99).
Have a wonderful Christmas and make sure you watch the William Hill King George VI on Boxing Day at Kempton. Also, don’t miss the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Saturday 27th December.
Rock On Ruby was my nap of the day in my On The Box column in Racing Plus last Saturday and I was delighted to see this likeable nine-year-old take control at the top of the hill, scoring his first success over the smaller obstacles at two and a half miles.
Cheltenham is a home game for Ruby On Ruby and Harry Fry his trainer was delighted with his performance, whilst the youngest family member, Ruby, born November 25th, was there in the unsaddling enclosure to cheer in the winner.
At the Cheltenham Festival in March Rock On Ruby could appear in the three mile Ladbrokes World Hurdle, however I’m not convinced that the extra half mile will really suit him and the two and a half mile Aintree Hurdle looks the right card to play.
The celebrity racehorse Mad Moose was returning from his racecourse ban at the same meeting, once again deciding to down tools at the start despite the genuine jump racing crowd willing him on.
Mad Moose’s owners Middleham Park Racing have decided that is enough and his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said “We love him dearly but he really is a complete sod! “.
Have a lovely retirement Mad Moose.
Great to see everyone enjoying these wines from the excellent Chilean producer Errazuriz in my Drinks Theatre session at the Foodies Festival in South Parks, Oxford yesterday. Thanks also to the lovely audience at my local Foodies. Look out for my column in The Oxford Times and I’m a regular presenter on BBC Radio Oxford too.
As promised here are the list of the wines and the stockists I presented in my Errazuriz: Premium Chile session:
Errazuriz Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Aconcagua, £9.99. Stockists: Budgens, Majestic, Waitrose.
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2011, Valle de Casablanca, £13.99. Stockists: Co-op, Majestic.
Errazuriz Estate Series Merlot 2013, Valle de Curicó, £9.99. Stockists: Booths, www.rhythmandbooze.co.uk, Majestic.
Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Aconcagua Valley, £13.99. Stockists: Budgens, Tesco, Waitrose.
I also mentioned the Errazuriz Estate Series Carmenère 2013, Aconcagua Valley, £10.49, which is available from Majestic and Wine Rack .
We have had a great time in the Drinks Theatre at all the Foodies shows and we will
be in The Old Truman Brewery in London from November 28th-30th for the Christmas Foodies Festival. See you there!
There’s a massive rollover on today’s Scoop 6 with a potential £2.1 million win fund plus a huge bonus fund. For a £2 bet all you have to do is select the winner of each of the six Scoop 6 races and if you are the only winner then you will be collect the total win fund. Also, all winners of the Scoop 6 then have the opportunity to win more money by selecting the winner of the bonus race a week today. The bonus fund currently stands at £1.5 million and will probably reach near to £2 million so another incentive for having a go at today’s Scoop 6.
The races in today’s Scoop 6 with my two selections for each race are:
2.05 Sandown Leg 1 selections: No 3: Raven’s Tower and No 13: Dolores Delightful.
2.20 Haydock Leg 2 selections: No 5: Big Johnny D and No 13: Sir Reginald.
2.50 Ripon Leg 3 selections: No 2: Body and Soul and No 17: Hillbilly Boy.
3.25 Haydock Leg 4 selections: No 1: Gabrial’s Kaka and No 6: Brae Hill.
3.30 Ripon Leg 5 selections: No 3: Sizzler and No 13: Bayan.
3.50 Sandown Leg 6 selections: No 2 Bury Parade and No 17: Ardkilly Witness.
More buzz, more anticipation and more hype were on the menu for the first day of The Cheltenham Festival at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire. There was also a beautiful spring day to bring out the crowds for four days of competitive championship racing.
Willie Mullins was rightly tipped to be the trainer of the week and kicked off the start of The Festival with Vautour winning the Sky Bet Supreme Hurdle, whilst his Champagne Fever in the Racing Post Arkle and my hot tip in to get the champagne corks popping
was just pipped on the post by the 33/1 outsider Western Warhorse. In the feature race of the day and the main race of meeting in my book Mullins had Hurricane Fly bidding to achieve his third Stan James Champion Hurdle, with my other hotpot for the day, My Tent or Yours the winner for me. In a race marred by the fatal fall of Our Conor My Tent or Yours just failed to beat Jezki, with Hurricane Fly back in fourth. Whilst Mullins was obviously downcast after Hurricane Fly’s fourth place, his incredible little mare Quevega then became the first horse to win six races at The Cheltenham Festival when battling in determined fashion to win the OLBG Mares’ Final for the six consecutive year. Incredible mare, incredible training performance.
My day of previewing and tipping for JPFEstival.com in The Gold Cup Restaurant featured one winner and three frustrating seconds! A frustrating day had a sweetener with The Wine Tipster’s day saved by winning the placepot!
Another great day ahead.
New Year’s Day at Cheltenham Racecourse was very wet and windy, with the racecourse team doing a great job in keeping racing going for the afternoon. Although racegoers were rewarded with some impressive performances by Annie Power, Oscar Whisky and Mendip Express it was certainly a day for staying inside and enjoying some liquid refreshment in the various racecourse bars.
The Golden Miller Champagne Bar was certainly a popular spot with many punters raising a glass of Piper Heidsieck Brut NV or those who had hit the jackpot were enjoying some delicious Dom Pérignon 2002. In the Final Flight bar Adam Henson’s Rare Breed Bitter, brewed by Butcombe Brewery, was doing a roaring trade.
On Cheltenham Racecourse Radio when interviewed in the wind and rain by presenter Rupert Bell before racing I tipped Oscar Whisky, who won, whilst my other tip Burton Port, was clearly off colour. Rupert had set me the task of finding a warming drink at the course and Tullamore Dew’s hot toddy was certainly enticing, however the Fireside bar delivered the goods with their not over spiced mulled wine. Hopefully when I’m back on Cheltenham Racecourse Radio on January 25th we can talk about good ground and dry conditions.
In terms of liquid refreshment, the festive period equalled quality imbibing in 2013 with the stunning Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve NV, whilst my last bottle of Perrier- Jouët Millésime 1998 fizz was an exquisite, beautiful and complex champagne to savour on Christmas Day. Château D’Anglès Classique Rosé 2012, La Clape, Sud de France made from Mourvèdre, Syrah and Grenache was a top class, cerebral pink for Christmas Eve. Dalmau Marqués de Murrieta Reserva 2005 made from fruit from their sixty year-old vines in their single vineyard plot Canajas was a brilliant example of what Rioja achieves at Group 1 level and tasted great with the duck. Folks never think enough about fortified wines at Christmas and Gonzalez Byass’ Matusalem Oloroso Dulce Muy Viejo VORS Sherry was outstanding with the stilton and mince pies over the festive period.
Boxing Day came with grade one racing from Kempton Park and it was great to see our local trainer Charlie Longsdon win at this high profile meeting with Loose Chips. The elegant Meerlust Pinor Noir 2011 from Stellenbosch in South Africa was perfect the with ham from Slatters’ Butchers in Chadlington and for armchair viewing too!
New Year Eve’s drew in with Louis Roederer’s Brut Premier NV and like my tips will be for 2014 this champagne was right on the money!