Spring Wine: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – oh, you dazzling Kiwi!

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - Michelle Richardson & Mt Beautiful wines

Smells like Spring Spirit!

March has finally arrived and boy, how gorgeous was London on this fine Sunday morning! I was actually woken up by the constant tweeting of a little bird, which made me think that life is great and that Spring must be just around the corner! I literally suffer during Winter and i just can’t wait to smell the blooming flowers and the warm breeze.

Side-note:

“Wake up its a beautiful morning,
Feel the sun shining for your eyes.
Wake up its so beautiful,
For what could be the very last time.”, The Boo Radleys

Now that I got this off my chest, let’s go back to the original post. One of the reasons I love Spring so much is that the temperature is perfect now to enjoy more fruity/floral and generally more playful wines. One of the wines I particularly enjoy sipping on warmer March afternoons is  Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand! I think this is a brilliant wine to try if you’re looking for a dry, fruity and surely refreshing one. It is a very easy-going and easy-drinking wine – it’s almost difficult to find someone who doesn’t like it. Much like Kelly Taylor from 90210.

What I find particularly interesting about NZSB (let’s just make it shorter) is that it’s one of these types of wine that has pretty much created a frenzy and has a dedicated following. It’s just so widely available and generally fairly priced. But the main reason is that it’s quite appealing and quite expressive with a varied fruit and vegetal spectrum depending on which region it comes from.

Marlborough is the NZSB kingdom, this is where the magic started. Due to the warmer and milder growing conditions, the wine bouquet is full of ripe gooseberry, juicy melon and sweet nectarine aromas with a rather appealing freshness on the palate!

Heading a bit more to the South over to North Canterbury , you find that their SB, which grows under cooler conditions is showing different aromas and flavours. You will be surprised how the aromas of juicy nectarine and melon are replaced by green peppers, tomato stalks (no joke, every time I make a tomato salad I think of Sauvignon Blanc), fresh cut grass and interestingly, passion fruit! It’s really fresh and mouthwatering making it the ideal pair for seafood and shellfish, yumm!!

For your reading pleasure and only *crossing fingers behind the back*, I tasted two lovely wines from the 2 regions mentioned and each of those adds an intriguing twist to the more classic-like profile of the wine.

Michelle Richardson SB: This is a truly explosive Marlborough SB. Staying true to its roots, it delivers a fascinating bouquet of gooseberry and ripe melon aromas followed by bell pepper hints and just a breeze of fresh-cut grass. Really pure fruit and very fresh on the palate. I imagine myself sipping it on a warm Spring afternoon on a terrace with a smile on my face.

Some extra info: 20% of this wine was fermented by wild yeasts. You know the yeast you buy at the shop for baking bread; that one is called commercial yeast, because you can purchase it. Wild yeast, however, lives in the winery environment and and it can start the fermentation of the grape must. It make the mouthfeel more silky and adds texture.

Mt Beautiful SB, North Canterbury: This is not your typical Marlborough SB. Zesty notes and fresh passion fruit aromas dominate the nose along with tomato stalks hints.  Very crisp and lively on the palate with a nice, mouthwatering minerality coming from stony/steely flavors. Really refreshing and discretely aromatic. Anytime, anywhere – very drinkable!

Some extra info: The owners want to introduce a new style of NZSB by focusing on the fruit purity and toning down the vegetal notes. The vines are planted on the northern side of the vineyard, so they can benefit from cooler temperatures.

Just to add that both wines, as many NZ wines, are closed with a screw-cap which makes them great “fridge wines”, ie. you can pop them in the fridge and keep enjoying them for the next 3-4 days! Let me know if you like Sauvignon Blanc from NZ and what are some of your favorites?

Follow on Bloglovin Note: Both wines were tasted at a Quality Check Tasting at the company I work for. I am only featuring them on the blog because I think that they are good representations of the warmer and cooler climate NZSB and I also like them a lot!

Find these wines with wine-searcher.com

Posted in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Xinomavro in London: It needs a hero!

Donald Edwards

Donald Edwards

If you’re in London, you should follow the Greek wine trail that leads to Peckham Bazaar in South London, the child of Donald Edwards, ex-sommelier, and chef John Gionleka. Fay Maschler, in last year’s November review of Peckham Bazaar in the Evening Standard wrote: “Peckham Bazaar has been described as serving the best Greek food in London — not exactly a hot competition —“and I should add that it’s pouring the best Greek wine in London, too.

I wanted to find out how Donald and his business partner John teamed up, how they came up with the delicious East Mediterranean recipes and their unique wine list. I met Donald in a Vermouth bar in Soho. He explained how Peckham Bazaar was born. Because no good story starts with someone eating a salad, he and John got really drunk on a March weekend (2013) and decided to set up a pop-up restaurant with a pan-Balkan style.

Fiona Becket wrote in her Peckham Bazaar’s review: “The wine list is brilliant – quirky, adventurous, full of rare treats from Greece and elsewhere in the Eastern Med (so massively on-trend).” They list about 8 different Xinomavro labels. Eight. I am fascinated. Donald believes in the uniqueness of Xinomavro and that it’s a very expressive grape, quite distinctive -unlike Agiorgitiko-, that pairs very interestingly with food. With a few Greek restaurants opening up lately in London, Peckham Bazaar prides itself to be the only one with such an interesting list of indigenous grape varieties, with Xinomavro being in the spotlight.

What frustrates Donald though, is that “winemakers throw international varieties in the blend.” He insists that we need more 100% Xinomavro labels. He explains that it’s such a unique and distinctive grape and more wine drinkers should get properly introduced to it.

How does Donald get his customers to try Xinomavro?

To read the full article please click here to visit MONOPOLE, a new wine magazine!

Visit Peckham Bazzar: http://peckhambazaar.com/

Follow Donald Edwards on Twitter: @donalde

Check out his blog: http://notesfromthedregs.blogspot.co.uk/

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PS. This post was first published on MONOPOLE 

Posted in Greece, UK, Xinomavro | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A blend of two vintages – NOHMA by Palivou Estate

My birthday this year could be described as an extravaganza of different feelings. There’s definitely a difference between “growing up and growing old” and the wine we cracked open on my birthday fully embraced this saying.

Extremely happy to have my parents visiting me, I decided that we should toast with something special indeed. It might took me something more than 2 seconds to spot NOHMA by Palivou Estate on my wine rack, which I had been keeping for around 2 years, after it was kindly sent to me, and it is exactly the type of wine that makes you wait for a special occasion before you pull out the cork.

The first time I tasted this magnificient blend of not just grape varieties but also vintages (!!!) was at the Annual Peloponnesian Wine Tasting 2011 (?) at Electra Palace, organised by Wineplus and Maria Netsika. At this great event I met Evangelia Palivou, the daughter of George Palyvos, one of the leading winemakers in Greece. Evaggelia, who is also an enologist, guided me through their portfolio and at the end of an interesting discussion about the growing appeal of Greek wine in the UK, she said: “I have something special for you to try” and there it was…the NOHMA 2005-2006. NOHMA translates to “meaning” in English.

NOHMA is made from grapes grown in a private, biodynamic vineyard in ancient Nemea, Peloponnese and is a blend of 60% Agiorgitiko 2006, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and 17% Syrah 2005. The international varieties wait patiently for 12 months in new oak barrels (225L) for the Agiorgitiko to get vinified. The final blend spends another 12 months in French oak barrels before bottling.

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Brand new cheese board and NOHMA

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NOHMA 2005-2006 in all its glory

After I poured the wine in our glasses, there was literally a 10s pause and if you know me this doesn’t happen very often. Its colour is deep ruby and dense. Long legs develop on the glass and are nicely structured. Incredible aromas of sweet prune and dried fig were coming out of my glass, while I was gently swirling it. It felt that each circle released a new mix of notes. After the sweet notes of black dried fruit, I was intrigued by the gentle oak notes and smokey hints. A great mix of spices makes the nose quite memorable:  vanilla, clove, a touch of cinnamon and cardamon  with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper all wrapped up in a blackcurrant leaf. What I found fascinating was that blend was quite harmonious and yet each individual variety unfolded its unique personality. On the palate, you can feel a rich mouthfeel of aromas reminiscent of the nose and the warmth of the alcohol well integrated with the wine. Very concentrated and powerful. At 14,5% v/v, you might expect it to leave a burning sensation but this is not the case. Many complain about red wine drying out their mouth and this what tannins do to your tongue. But NOHMA is quite smooth and velvety.

As you can see on the photos above, it went down really well with a variety of cheeses (Austrian smoked chesse, Stilton, Port Salut) and charcouterie (German Salami and liver pâté) but it would certainly be my Christmas wine of choice, as it would go amazingly well with roasted wild boar, grilled ribs and stews. As I am not going to be home for Christmas this year, I shall toast with this little gem on New Year’s Eve!

You can purchase NOHMA from Palivou Estate here: http://www.houseofwine.gr/how/intl/noima.html*

What are you drinking with your Christmas Dinner? Let me know your suggestions!

(I defy you to find another blend of two vintages, hehe!)

* This is not an affiliate link

Posted in Greece, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pork medallions cooked in fresh grape juice

Sometimes it's good to play with your food..

Sometimes it’s good to play with your food..

From what I can remember, this must be the first recipe I cooked in my first year of University. Back then, Internet was not part of my everyday life, so I had to collect ALL the food magazines I could find. The situation started to become unbearable; there was no room for mine and my parents’ books in our shared library, so I decided that I had to select some of the recipes. So, I threw away the magazines and put away the several dozens of books lying on the floor, acting as a coffee or side tables. #bookwarm

And this is what happened. If you have been reading my blog, you might remember the little notebook, where I used to keep all my favorite recipes.

If you’re up for a grape-y one , I bet that you will love this one:

Pork medallions cooked in fresh grape juice!

You will need: (serves 4)
800g pork medallions
1,5 onion
600g sultana grapes
300g of chestnut mushrooms
1 tea-spoon white vinegar
1 small cup of olive oil
1/2 wine glass of aromatic wine
1 tea-spoon of dry coriander
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Effi drinks wine - pork medallions recipe

The ingredients

Steps to yumminess:
– Put your fresh grapes into a pasta strainer and place a bowl beneath it. Now, start stomping … with your and collect the delicious juice. It’s very therapeutic!

Grape stomping...with your hands!

Grape stomping…with your hands!

– Pour some olive oil on a large skillet and add the finely chopped onion and the pork medallions. Make sure that they get a nice browned color from both sides.

– Sprinkle some salt & pepper and  the dried coriander. Pour the white wine and vinegar and keep the skillet on moderate fire until all the liquids are absorbed.

– Now on to the best part: Add your fresh grape juice and reduce the fire. Cover the skillet with a lid and let them cook for around 10-15 mins. Your kitchen will start smelling heavenly, yumm!

– For the garnish, you can quickly (I think you’re getting really hungry now!) grill some fresh mushrooms and three table spoons of onion on a really hot stove and maybe boil some rice as I did the last time I played around with this recipe. Use a few fresh rosemary leaves for the decor – I do enjoy a lot the aroma twist that rosemary gives to pork!

Et voilà!

Mouthwatering aromas and heartwarming flavors

Mouthwatering aromas and heartwarming flavors

Looking for a wine to pair it with?

I would love a Malagousia/Assyrtiko blend by Gerovassiliou Estate, which you can find *here or a Santorini Assyrtiko by Hatzidakis, available *here.

Let me know if you try this recipe and do leave any recommendations/ adjustments in the comments below. I’d love to read them!

Still hungry? Read the Pappardelle with smoked salmon post

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*Disclaimer: None of the above are affiliated links.

Posted in Food, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tasting Wine in 5 simple steps

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This is my Facebook profile picture. When I uploaded it a while ago, a friend from uni asked me “Why are you spitting wine????”. At first , I thought he was joking but later on I came to realise that he was genuinely puzzled. I didn’t spit the wine because I hated it but because there were a few more awaiting to be tasted and it was a bit early in the day to make a wine cocktail in my belly.

Let’s start from the beginning and we shall go through the 5 simple steps of tasting wine or how to Miss Marple it (we’ll come to that later, promise.)

1. See: Place the glass in a 45 angle on a white surface to get a better view of the colour. You have probably heard wine drinkers commenting on the colour of a wine, the same way that the color of a cocktail might have excited you. On wine, however, its hue, intensity and rim of the color of the wine can give you a good idea of what you’re about to taste. A couple of examples that pop in my head is Pinot Noir and Argentinian Malbec. A Burgundian Pinot Noir is most usually bright ruby, never too intense in comparison to the deep red almost black, at first glance, Malbec. Another good token of knowledge that you get is the age of the wine. A fresh, young white wine is light yellow with green highlights and its colour gets deeper with ageing. Red wines follow the exact opposite route – they are much deeper in colour when young and gradually become lighter.

2. Swirl: Give the glass a light swirl, so you get air into your glass. This step enhances and reveals the aromas and makes it easier for you to identify them.

3. Sniff: Now that you are happy with describing the colour, on to the aromas. Probably the second best step when drinking ( sipping is the first, no?). Often friends ask me : what do you mean that it reminds you of melon peel? Or pineapple? This is just wine! But the they give it a second sniff, open their eyes with surprise and then close them again and indulge the moment when one smell starts breaking down into its elements. Let’s take a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – at first it smells like wine and then fruity and vegetal aromas come to mind and in a few seconds you start smelling the gooseberry and the fresh cut grass.

4. Sip: Here we go on to the most exciting part of our little ritual! The aromas and the mouthfeel a wine leaves in your mouth are probably the most exhilarating feelings you get when tasting or drinking wine. The best thing to do now is to put a bit of wine in your mouth and start inhaling air- don’t be afraid that this step is a bit noisy, this is all you can hear at a professional tasting or any wine exhibition (oh, the class!) Again, you start thinking of the aromas developing in your mouth. Is it black or red fruit? A hint of clove or toast? Then, you can assess the astringency of the wine and how its tannins makes you feel. Are they harsh and leave your tongue stiff and dry or are they velvety and smooth, providing what you might have heard professionals describe as a “full-bodied” wine?

5. Spit: yes, spit. Yes, really. No, it’s nor rude neither disgusting, it’s what professionals do when they’re attending a wine exhibition and aim to taste 30 or 50 or 100 more wines. The first reason is quite obvious; if you survived swirling wine in your mouth without feeling uncomfortable, imagine walking around the room in a rather inappropriate manner, aka like a drunken monkey. The second reason is that you don’t want to tire your palate and put these tastebuds to sleep.

Repeat!

To sum it up, you have to be an old granny like me and know who Miss Marple is, you can make funny noises with your mouth while tasting wine and you can shamelessly spit in front of others!

Tasting wine is a bit like playing Miss Marple or Sherlcok Holmes. With observation, you’re collecting data and evidence and then you break it down into the hundreds of possibilities.

Have fun and enjoy! #5Swinetasting

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Posted in Wine tasting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Volcanic Bubbles” – Santo Brut

Is Santorini the strongest brand name in Greece? I believe that the answer is Yes. Santorini is the diva, the Marilyn Monroe of Greek wines, with production volumes struggling to please the ongoing rising demand. Prices are increasing and Santorini wines, mainly dry, still Assyrtiko, are establishing Greek Wines in the winelover’s conscience. By the way, #winelovers are visiting Santorini at the time I am typing this post and they share breathtaking pictures of the island.

I still remember reading tweets from the Oenorama Exhibition in Athens from fellow wine tweeps trying the first ever bubbly Assyrtiko from SantoWines! Everyone was raving about it and there I was miles away, trying to imagine how it would taste! After my return to Greece, I tried to find it but it wasn’t released then. So, I decided that I would wait and get it for my mum’s Bday in my Easter vacation, as she is a huge bubbly enthousiast. I contacted the lovely people of SantoWines to make sure that I could crack it open before cutting the birthday cake. They informed me that it wasn’t available on the shelf but I was one of the lucky ones who would be able to enjoy it before its launch- exciting times!

SantoWines Asyrtiko

A great pairing – Jumbo Prawns with light tomato sauce and Volcanic Bubbles

If you have already tried Assyrtiko from Santorini, you must remember its elegant stone fruit notes and its unique minerality and freshness! Add a lot of persistent bubbles who pronounce the peach, sour apricot aromas and underline the refreshing mouthfeel. In the mouth, honey and hints of brioche area completing the profile of a modern expression of Assyrtiko!

Santo brut is made with the Methode Traditionelle – aka the Champagne method. So, you get all these lovely brioche, nicely toasty notes with a splash of zest!

Imagine that: late afternoon at the caldera, your skin sun kissed with hints of salt on your hands and a glass of Assyrtiko Brut waiting for the sunset. This is what winelover’s heaven should be like!

Sparkling Santo Brut

Happy times!

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Black Cow Cheddar + Assyrtiko Bubbles

Find SantoWines on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SantoWines?fref=ts

Twitter: https://twitter.com/santo_wines

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Posted in Assyrtiko, Greece, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Wine Fair and Greek Natural Wine – Domaine Ligas

The weather in London has gone all crazy and it’s now proper Spring time – who would have thought? Last Sunday it was nice and sunny and I was super excited to try a few – or shall I say a lot – natural wines at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, East London.

The Raw fair is a Wine Fair, created and organised by Isabelle Legeron MW, a true supporter of the Natural Wine Movement . Although, Natural Wine is a very broad term, I got to understand more about it after I read Jamie Goode’s & Sam Harrop’s book, Authentic Wine. It introduces you to the no (or minimum) sulphites, no additives wine world and explains concepts such as terroir and biodynamics using simple language.

I couldn’t wait to find out all about Ligas Wines, the only Greek natural wine producer I have heard of.

Most people feel that buying natural wine is some sort of Russian roulette and they are right to a certain extent. One could find a series of serious faults and mostly Brettanomyces and there are producers out there to claim that this is part of the terroir’s expression. But aren’t all wines subject to faults?

I was very happy to taste Jason’s wines and those that I particularly liked were the Rosé and the Λ13.

Jason Ligas at the RAW Wine Fair in London

Jason Ligas at the RAW Wine Fair in London

Le Rose 2013 is made with 100% Xinomavro grapes grown on chalky quartz soils in Pella, Northern Greece. Vibrant and deep fuchsia in colour with playful and delicate aromas of freshly squeezed strawberries and raspberries. It leaves your palate with a nice finish of pomegranate freshness. Ideal for summer nights on the terrace! (Total sulphites: 25 mg/L)

Then on to the Λ13, 2013 Pella – its name stands for the number of the microcuvée , in which it was vinified. Made with Assyrtiko and Roditis grapes, this wine is very aromatic – zesty notes are predominant. Lemon peel and grapefruit notes are clean and intense. The main characteristic that brings everything together is its minerality. Refreshing mouthfeel, stoney/steely notes and a long finish. I didn’t detect any kind of faults. The wine was not filtered and it has a clear,quite attractive lemon colour. (Total sulphites: 50 mg/L)

Ligas vineyards are organic certified and “.. vines grow in a natural way of culture based on the ‘Non­-act’ science of permaculture and organic farming.”, as they state on the RAW website.

You can find Domaine Ligas on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Domaine.Ligas?v=info

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/LigasWine

Website: http://www.ligas.gr/en/

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Posted in Wine, Young Winemakers and Wine professionals of Greece | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments