Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Solstice on Scilly

As midsummer approaches, time for a short trip to the Scillies to make sure our customers are happy before the season gets into full swing. The Summer Solstice seems as good a day as any to head west.
Chaos had reigned the day before with virtually no flights because of fog and low cloud, but it looks more encouraging as I head off to Land’s End Airport (that description always makes me smile as it conjures up pictures of Gatwick and Stansted!) for the 0950 flight. Bit of a delay but very soon the sun is shining and off we go. More than a bit breezy as we arrive at St Mary’s, but after a rather windblown landing, all is well, and Michel is there with a welcome as ever.
On the way to the harbour I catch up with a few customers who are all optimistic for the season ahead, and I’m particularly pleased to find that the Grapevine, St Mary’s new Wine Store and Off-Licence, is doing really well, boosted, no doubt by the splendid wines we are supplying!!
Onto the Voyager bound for St Martins, for the main event of this visit – a session with the restaurant staff at St Martins on the Isle hotel. It’s always good to talk and taste wines with the staff that will be selling and serving them to their customers through the rest of the season and to share our enthusiasm for the wines we supply. The great thing about talking to young people with no great knowledge of the wine world is that they are completely open-minded and honest on the subject, so if they say a particular wine is really nice, you know they mean it. And they were right! The two wines we selected to taste from the main restaurant list were both very good, but could easily be missed by the less-than-unadventurous guest. The Wildekrans Caresse Marine from South Africa is just drinking so well – fresh, characterful and exciting – we all agreed it could confidently be recommended to accompany any of the splendid fish dishes on offer. On the other hand, the Valpolicella Ripasso was a revelation to my young friends, with such richness, depth and complexity that they will have no hesitation in recommending it if they are asked for a suggestion.  I expect to see sales of both these wines rocket over the next couple of months !!
This is the sort of service that we in Wine In Cornwall enjoy providing and is a major benefit of using a dedicated, local wine merchant rather than some large anonymous outfit from up-country. It is also the part of the job that I enjoy most.
After the work, a very pleasant walk along the northern shore of St Martins in the evening sun and then back for a superb dinner in the Hotel’s Tean Restaurant, with another glass or two of that cracking Caresse Marine.  There can be very few places nicer to be, nor views in the world better than that from the Tean restaurant with the setting sun.
All in all not a bad way of spending the Longest Day!

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Summer Tasting

We were blessed once again with fine weather for our summer tasting last week which was held in the Crofter’s restaurant at Trelissick gardens overlooking the pretty courtyard. A lively party of 50 or so guests enjoyed delicious canapes and a selection of summery wines.
Andrew Hay from Gireau was also on hand to show off his premium Spirit range  - the hauntingly aromatic Gireau Premium French Gin seemed to go down particularly well

 Of the white wines, once again the two Verdejo – Hinojal and Chamelin were really popular as, more surprisingly, the dry (but not aggressively so) Villa Wolf Riesling. In the rosé section the heathery dry Domaine Piqueroque from Provence went down well and of the reds (France again dominating) the Plan de Dieu, Couranconne and a 2010 Beaujolais Villages from Manoir du Carra led the pack.  Another old favourite  - Salice Salentino Riserva 2007, Masseria Trajone was on stunning form, combining beautifully a touch of earthy rusticity, gamey complexity and sumptuous southern ripeness.

Our next tasting is a private affair for St Ives Rotarians and then it’s full steam ahead for the busy Autumn season – where does the time go?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

New in this week

New in this week is a Grenache Syrah Mourvedre blend called, funnily enough, GSM from Rhone specialist Vidal Fleury - just our sort of wine and really good value at £8.26. It’s from the 2008 vintage so has a decent bit of bottle age on it. We’ve also snapped up a small parcel of Louis Latour Givry 2008 which is a good, solid red Burgundy for just £12.95 – they could only let us have half of what we ordered so supplies are limited.

Singing voices at the ready!

Fingers are being crossed in the office for a hopefully sunny, summery weekend as it's the Falmouth International Shanty Festival, a much looked forward to event where the wine glass is put aside for a few days and ale tankards are brought out, along with a few ropey singing voices! Always a good weekend where the quays & beer gardens of Falmouth come alive with singing. Really looking forward to catching the Aberfal Oggymen, a group of local lads who have only been performing  for a year, but have got a busy weekend ahead of them. Looking forward to Sunday when they are performing in Events Square just before the Fishermans Friends, good luck lads.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Annual Summer Wine Tasting

Our annual summer tasting takes place at Trelissick Gardens near Truro next week. If you haven’t received an email invitation then please email mike@wineincornwall asap and we’ll send one over to you.

It’s a nice social evening with about 50 wines presented with summer in mind. Its on Thursday 23rd June starting at 5:30 and going on until 8:00.

Hope to see you there!

Nigels armchair thoughts..

On holiday last week, we spent the first half doing a bit of touring around the South and Midlands followed by a few glasses at home in between bouts of decorating. It’s quite interesting visiting friends and restaurants away from our home patch to see what people are drinking on an everyday basis. The British psyche about wine can be depressingly familiar and simply put just seems to be based around the premise of keeping it cheap and reliable. As a nation we have embraced wine big time over the last twenty years but much to our continental cousins disgust we have not really got our head around the concept of terroir and provenance – what we want is soft, fruity and alcoholic- it’s a no brainer really. The supermarket shelves are groaning with these confections – more and more of the same. An NZ South Island Sauvignon called  Fern Bay from Tesco was just dripping in residual sugar, sickly and unbalanced whereas a pretty little stiletto-tipped Gros Plant brought to the same picnic shone like a diamond but no prizes for guessing which is commercial. In conclusion there are very few bad wines out there but lots of dull ones.

The purpose of this rant is not to try to change the way things are (although I wish could) but to illustrate and gently suggest that actually there are wines available from us and other independent merchants that are individual and reflect well on their origins. At a family dinner at the OXO Tower in London we had a selection of Harvey Nicholls’ house wines all individually sourced from small country domains in France all absolutely delicious. From our own selection at the moment Quinta Hinojal Verdejo is a snip at £5.59, check out also Picpoul de Pinet from Les Lauriers, resurgent Muscadet from St Vincent, stunning south Italian reds (rustic yet really juicy) and authentic dry Chenin Blanc from the Cape’s Barton Estate – your taste buds might just enjoy the trip!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mike's Bordeaux Visit

We are often asked if we do trips abroad to buy wines and the normal comment that accompanies the enquiry is usually jocular and refers to how hard life can be, but someone has to do the job! I am sure you get the picture!

In reality, we can and do select a lot of wines in this country where we go to trade shows, specialist shows or tastings organised by UK based shippers. However, we can make wines better value to our customers by buying direct from Europe, so occasional field trips are a necessity, but again, in most cases we are going to large trade fairs in order to meet as many suppliers as possible in as short a time span as possible.

Sometimes trade organisations offer trips to wine areas as part educational and part promotional activity and I did one to Bordeaux in early May. It is a long way to go for a glass of wine, but it was very worthwhile indeed!

Well, in my case, it all started by having to endure a dinner and a night’s stay at the Premier Inn at Gatwick. It was actually ok, but having to get up at 4.30 to make the airport by 5.30 was a tough start to the day. Having left my paper file lying on the desk in my room, I then had to walk back to the hotel from the terminal in order to find my booking reference!

We arrived in a dry and sunny Bordeaux mid-morning and having dropped off our bags at the hotel, were whisked straight off to the CIVB where our tutor for the week, Alexander Hall, took us through a presentation on Bordeaux Basics. First wine we tasted was a good reminder of how good Bordeaux white wines can be. Château Cantelaudette, Graves de Vayres 2009 was rich in Sauvignon with added floral notes from Muscatelle and citrus freshness from the Semillon. Absolutely delicious! I will try to get some of this style onto our list in the next year!

After lunch with a couple of white wine makers, we drove deep into the Entre Deux Mers to visit Château Turcaud, a postcard pretty farm, with around 50 hectares of vines, with a growing percentage in white grape types. We tasted both the 2009 vintage and the very new 2010 vintage, both mainly Sauvignon, Semillon with about 2% Muscatelle. Within the Sauvignon, about 20% is Sauvignon Gris, rather than Blanc, which brings a touch more aromatics to the wine. These Entre Deux Mers wines are light and full of character. We then tasted the Cuvee Majeure Blanc (AOC Bordeaux Blanc) which is barrel fermented for 8 months. The as yet unreleased 2010 was still showing a heavy lingering oakiness, but, if the 2009 is anything to go by, this mellows considerably and the blend of aromatics is fantastic. Again, I will try to source this or a similar wine through our negociants in Bordeaux.

A long drive then ensued as we made our way to Bourg to meet up with Didier Gonthier at La Maison du Vin des Côtes de Bourg, who explained to us in great details the history and current approach to wine making in the Côtes de Bordeaux.

I was not entirely impressed by the quality of the wines they showed us at the Maison du Vin, but we were all impressed by the amount of work being done in the area to support smaller farmers and generally improve quality.
More to follow…..