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Mixology May: Cocktail Trends

23 May 2016 by Alex

Mixology Slider

 

The cocktail trend is so fully entrenched in the contemporary bar scene that it is hard to believe that these mixed drinks were not so long ago considered the preserve of the stuffy and old fashioned.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the cocktail revival is that the very concoctions that were the least fashionable a couple of decades ago – short drinks with only a few ingredients, incorporating a bitter element – are the source of the most exciting experimentation. Cocktails such as the Negroni, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan allow bartenders to search for and showcase high quality ingredients and interesting twists on the staples they contain.

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The theatrical nature of great cocktail makers and the establishments in which they work is often reflected in the ingredients themselves: characterful, beautifully packaged items with interesting provenance that offer a slight twist to a familiar flavour profile.

Categories of ingredients such as Amaro (often translated as ‘bitter’, these often taste more like a digestif with a balancing sweetness) and Vermouth are more open to interpretation than many, coming in a wide range of different variations while adding an appetising element of complexity to the cocktail in question.

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Although the term cocktail implies a strong, short drink, there is just as much imagination and experimentation surrounding longer drinks that weigh in at a more friendly alcohol level.

To highlight some of the exciting new ingredients that have hit our shelves, our Chiswick store will be hosting a free cocktail evening from 5pm to 7pm on the 28th of May giving everyone the chance to try the Belsazar Vermouth range, Mondino Amaro, and Gin Sul from Hamburg. Recipes for the cocktails we will be pouring on the night can be found below, so even if you can’t make it you can try them for yourself at home!

belsazar

Belsazar Rosé & Tonic

60ml Belsazar Rosé
Top with Tonic water. Build in a wine glass filled with ice & garnish with a pink grapefruit slice.

(From the 23rd of May to the 31st of August we are offering 2 free bottles of 1724 tonic with every bottle of Belsazar rosé purchased).

The Ultimate Negroni

20ml Gin Sul
20ml Belsazar Red
20ml Mondino Amaro

Stir down and serve in a tumbler with orange zest.

Summer Negroni

20ml Gin Sul
20ml Belsazar Rosé
20ml Mondino Amaro

Serve with grapefruit zest.

Riviera Spritz

25ml Belsazar White
25ml Mondino Amaro

Top with tonic water. Build in a wine glass filled with ice and garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Three Reasons to Try Portuguese Wine

9 May 2016 by Alex

Portugal Flag

Here at the Good Wine Shop we’ve always loved Portuguese wine, but it never hurts to remind everyone what’s so great about this underrated wine producing country.

Douro by Rosino 3 Flickr

  1. Value

Portuguese wines represent brilliant value for money. At all price points, the price-quality ratio is hard to beat. In the past, the table wines of Portugal were an afterthought made from grapes that didn’t make it into Port and could at times be rustic. Today, this is no longer the case but as always reputation lags behind reality, which is good news for those of us who like under-priced, interesting wines!

Estremoz Magnus Reuterdahl Flickr

  1. Interesting Grape Varieties

Portugal has resisted the influx of so-called ‘international’ grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay much more effectively than many other countries. Every region has its own unique set of grapes that are rarely found outside the region, let alone outside Portugal! This gives rise to a diverse set of flavours and aromas that aren’t quite like anything made elsewhere. Whether it’s the fragrant notes of violet in the brooding Touriga Nacional, the smoky tobacco character of Baga, or the nutty, lemony Encruzado, there’s always something new to discover.

Douro by Rosino Flickr

  1. The Wines Are Better Than Ever

Having suffered through the tough years of the 1970s, when it was both difficult and unrewarding to make table wine, Portugal has entered a new era where standards of wine making are extremely high and modern equipment is common in the winery. Wine makers are more likely than ever to preserve the unique character of their grape varieties and create wines of balance and personality. In a market where fortified wine such as Port is no longer as popular as it once was, table wines are playing an increasingly important role in producers’ portfolios and grapes are being specifically cultivated for their suitability for these wines.

Peceguina

Of course, we could list various other reasons to buy Portuguese wine, but an important fourth reason is our exclusive online mixed case! This selection of twelve different wines will help you taste your way across many regions and grape varieties while saving yourself over £23.

Click here to view our special Portuguese mixed case.

Images courtesy of Rosino, Magnus Reuterdahl via Flickr and Creative Commons.

Billecart-Salmon rosé Champagne offer

6 February 2016 by Sarah

The Perfect Valentine’s Champagne!

…one sip will enchant you like no other wine. This is seduction at its most alluring and mouth-watering,” says Matthew Jukes wine critic in The Daily Mail…and we agree!

A photo of Billecart Salmon rose half and bagBillecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne NV is just about the perfect pink fizz to treat a loved one and up until Valentine’s Day we’ll be giving away a FREE half bottle (worth £32.00) with every full bottle of the same Champagne.

“This is the most consistently delicious and effortless distinguished rosé in the world. Billecart has always been my ‘no-upper-limit’ rosé of choice…” Matthew Jukes.

“A subtle nose with plenty of fine autolysis aromas of fresh bread and sweetly fragrant yeasty notes, plus some gentle spice and chalky notes. The palate unleashes beautiful wild strawberry fruit flavours, super fresh, fleshy and pure. Great balance and depth.” James Suckling.

Very limited numbers of half bottles are available in each of our shops, so visit the stores in Chiswick, Esher or Kew very soon…because when they’re gone, they’re gone!

January Sale – Out with the old in with the new!

20 January 2016 by Ben

Kick start 2016 by trying something new as part of #Tryanuary!  And there’s no better place to begin than our sale where you can find 25% off over 40 wines across our three shops. There are some fantastic bargains covering all tastes and budgets.  These wines will be snapped up quickly, so drop into your nearest The Good Wine Shop soon to avoid disappointment!

Here are just a few of the wines that will be available in the sale to inspire you…

Champagne Gratiot-Pilliere Brut Tradition NV
“Brut Tradition is based on the exceptional 2008 vintage and is aged for two years. A pretty pale gold with delicious stone fruit flavours, its both elegant and refreshing”
Was: £34.00 Sale: £25.50

A photo of a bottle of Staete Landt ViognierStaete Landt Viognier, Marlborough, New Zealand
“A lovely aromatic nose of sweet mandarins, lychees and a touch of spice. This wine’s palate is luscious and broad with attractive flavours of orange peel, marmalade, candied violets and floral notes”
Was: £20.50 Sale: £15.37

Henri Boillot, Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2011
“An elegant, pure and refined white fruit, apple and straw suffused nose leads to energetic and lightly mineral-driven flavours that possess the saline character to which Boillot referred. A lovely Bourgogne” BURGHOUND
Was: £28.00 Sale: £21.00

Etorno Retorno Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina, 2013
“Only 3000 bottles are produced each year from 30 year old pergola-trained vines at the foot of the Andes. Flavours of cassis and fennel give way to dried figs. An intriguing wine for those looking for something new and unusual”
Was: 39.00 Sale: £29.25

The sale will ends on Sunday 31st January at 8pm.

Shop Rioja Winners

15 December 2015 by Sarah

The Rioja logo

Hurrah! We’re delighted to announce that The Good Wine Shop has been chosen as Rioja Retailer of the Year by Wines from Rioja.

We were selected as the small merchant winner out of 130 entrants for the #ShopRioja campaign we ran throughout October 2015. The Wines from Rioja judges said (and we’re blushing):

A photo of a customer trying Rioja wines in our Esher shopA photo of a sign board saying Rioja around the clock“We were highly impressed with The Good Wine Shop’s range of Rioja covering the quality, value and variety of styles the region produces including top class red, white and rosé wines. The Good Wine Shop displayed their in-depth knowledge of Rioja and their enthusiasm for sharing their passion with their customers through fantastic displays and vibrant tastings. The team act as great ambassadors for Wines from Rioja.”

We know we wouldn’t have been able to win without the enthusiastic participation in #ShopRioja of our customers. To celebrate we’re offering 25% OFF any six bottles of Bodegas Bohedal wines bought before Sunday 20 December in any of our shops.

Remember, Rioja can be an excellent match for festive food – a Crianza, Reserva or oaked white goes great with turkey and all the trimmings. For Boxing Day cold cuts try a fruity joven. Or with roast beef consider the fuller bodied Remelluri Reserva 2009.

Wonderful Christmas Wines

1 December 2015 by Sarah

As we enter the festive season, we appreciate that there are so many parties, gatherings and dinners that keeping your fridge and wine racks full can be a hassle.Thankfully, we have some great deals on these customer favourites so you can stock up – saving time and money.

Grab a six pack of any of these wines and you will save 20%…

bianchiBianchi Extra Brut NV, Mendoza, Argentina
‘A classy, Champagne-like sparkling wine from the cooler area of San Rafael, just south of Mendoza. Refreshingly dry’
Now £74.40 for six bottles; usually £93.00

Gallimard 2009Champagne Gallimard Brut Prestige Vintage 2009
‘A superb vintage Champagne from a small grower. Aged for 5 years creating a fabulous, rich, mouth-filling fizz.’
Now £153.60 for six bottles; usually £192.00

sarotto gaviGavi di Gavi, Roberto Sarotto, Italy 2014
‘Rich in texture compared to most Gavi but still soft and gentle. Plenty of juicy peach fruit alongside stony minerality’
Now £64.80 for six bottles; usually £81.00

george montmainsNOW SOLD OUT (sorry…) Domaine George, Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2012
‘This Premier Cru Chablis comes from low yielding vines in the famed Montmains vineyard. This is a top quality Chablis!’
Now £93.60 for six bottles; usually £117.00

fourcas-hosten09Chateau Fourcas Hosten, Listrac-Médoc 2007
‘Fourcas-Hosten is one of the best Châteaux in the Listrac commune. A great value, pleasurable Bordeaux’
Now £96.00 for six bottles; usually £120.00

These offers are only available in our shops in Chiswick, Esher & Kew.

Buy 12 bottles and get free local delivery too.

All these offers end at 7pm on Thursday 31 December.

Rioja rocks

1 September 2015 by Pippa

Rioja is Spain’s vinous calling card, a powerhouse of a region with a long history of traditional and innovative wine-making dating back to the mid-nineteenth century and very much alive today. Throughout October at The Good Wine Shop we’re going to be celebrating all things Rioja.

First a bit of geography…the region is divided into three distinct zones; Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.

Map of the Rioja regionRioja Alavesa forms part of the Basque province of Alava. Although the most northerly (closest to the Bay of Biscay’s capricious weather) the vineyards here sit along the foothills of the Sierra Cantabrica shielded from the buffeting that the Atlantic would otherwise inflict upon them by the mountains. Facing south into the warmth of the sun and on chalky, limestone soils this is prime vineyard country. Alavesa wines are frequently based solely on Tempranillo and have a freshness and elegance about them.

Rioja Alta lies south of the Ebro River with a small enclave north sandwiched between two parts of the Alavesa. It’s a large area where the climate changes from west to east. Western Rioja Alta is the coolest part of Rioja as it is most exposed to the Atlantic influence. Here picking can be as much as six weeks later than further east in the Rioja Baja. Many of Rioja’s finest names can be found around the town of Haro – and just outside Haro, in the town of Cuzcurrita, are two of our favourite bodegas  – Urbina and Bohedal. Again Tempranillo dominates the plantings here. Further east the vineyards benefit more from the Sierra Cantabrica’s shelter and the warmer climate favours more plantings of Garnacha.

Rioja Baja is the warmest province, closest to the influence of the Mediterranean to the east. Although only 11% of plantings in Rioja are Garnacha, most is planted here – the grape needs the warmth to ripen. Rioja Baja wines reflect this in the blend, often including a much higher proportion of Garnacha than anywhere else in the region.

A photo of Tempranillo grapes from Bodegas BohedalThe grapes:

Tempranillo is king here, named after the Spanish word for early (temprano) it is an early ripening grape. It forms the backbone of much Rioja – typically as much as 85% in the Alavesa and Alta. Small amounts of Garnacha, Mazuelo (which we know as Carignan) and Graciano (native to Rioja) make up the balance of the blend. For the whites, Viura is the main variety used. Best supporting white grape mentions can also go to Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanca, Malvasia de Rioja, Maturana Blanca and Turruntés de Rioja (no relation to Torrontés)

Styles:

Traditional Rioja is aged in both barrel (typically American oak) and bottle for mandatory minimum periods of time before sale. Many classic bodegas exceed these minimums.

  • Crianza : a minimum of a year in barrel and a year in bottle
  • Reserva : a minimum of a year in barrel and two years in bottle
  • Gran Reserva : a minimum of two years in barrel and three years in bottle .

Modern Riojas may or may not follow those ageing requirements, and will often use French rather than American oak – or a mix of both. They will almost always be released much younger. The resulting styles are radically different making Rioja’s offering very versatile. We have several examples of this such as Bodegas Remelluri Reserva, Rioja, 2009 and Baigorri de Garage, Bodegas Baigorri, Rioja, 2005. White Rioja has also re-invented itself with better fruit and less obvious oak – Bohedal’s ‘baby’ white Rioja is great example of this ‘fresher’ trend.

At The Good Wine Shop we’ll be celebrating all that is good about Rioja throughout October. We’re planning to expand our Rioja listings with some special additions. We’ll be offering a 25% discount on any 6 bottles of Rioja purchased throughout the month. And, if that were not enough to tempt you, we’ll be opening a great selection of wines both white and red over the weekend of October 2, 3 & 4 and then again over October 16, 17 & 18.

Rosé revolution

17 August 2015 by Paul

Cast your mind back a few years and you’ll remember that the rosé wine world was a very different place, awash with sickly-sweet pale blush wines where what little taste was best anaesthetised with a few ice cubes. And not forgetting the deeply-coloured cough-syrupy confected concoctions best reserved for pairing with a strong curry.

A photo of the front of Chateau d'Esclans

The amazingly picturesque Château d’Esclans

Though, of course, I must admit to having enjoyed the odd few glasses of the stuff during my youth, it’s little wonder that the rosé wines of those days weren’t taken seriously. However, in the years since we’ve witnessed the astonishing growth in popularity of delicately pink, dry and achingly fashionable rosés, most notably those originating from Provence. As Jancis Robinson says, “Pink wine production is now seen as a serious business around the world – not least thanks to the efforts of Sacha Lichine … and his team at Château d’Esclans …which has really raised the bar of ambition among producers …”

Lichine certainly knows a thing or two about quality wine production. Up until 1999 he was proprietor of Château Prieuré-Lichine in Margaux. He acquired Esclans in 2006, convinced that the terroir and climate were conducive to producing serious wine. Quality is paramount: The same care and attention is lavished upon the grapes as in any of the top Bordeaux properties. Patrick Leon, former MD of Château Mouton-Rothschild is consultant winemaker. Their top-of-the-range rosé Garrus, can now sell for an eye-watering £100 a bottle. Fortunately it has a more affordable sibling, Whispering Angel, which has been taking the world by storm, and for many of our customers has been the defining rosé of this summertime.

Just in time for the Bank Holiday weekend, we’re offering you the chance to buy Whispering Angel at the reduced price of £16 (down from £20), either in our shops by the bottle, or online by the case.

ACCOLADES FOR WHISPERING ANGEL

“Château d’Esclans is undoubtedly the hottest property of Provençal …rosé. This
offers very good value … for a wine with no less than seven varieties in the blend
(Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Tibouren, Vermentino) and
endless delicacy and perfume. pale and peachy in both colour and flavour, it has
pin-point acidity into a long, dry finish, though nuanced and holding interest to the
last drop. 91/100.” – Tom Cannavan, wine-pages.com

“The 2014 Château d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’ is a fascinating blend of seven
varieties (six red and one white) with enormous character. There’s complex ripe red
fruit, plenty of acidity and a tongue-tinglingly herbal, spicy finish. No surprise to
learn that it’s … Lichine’s … bestselling rosé by miles.” – Jonathan Ray, The
Spectator

“Nutty, waxy and weighty, this is vital and fresh, but with an appealingly earthy
undertow. There’s an attack of wild strawberry on a succulent palate which holds
layers of flavour, a nutty core, with the finish really stretching out to a great length.
Urbane and mightily impressive.” Awarded a Gold Medal at the Decanter World
Wine Awards 2015 www.decanter.com

Compass Box Whisky & Cocktail Evening

16 June 2015 by Ben

Join us at The Good Wine Shop in Kew on Friday 26 June, for what promises to be a great evening of whisky, cocktails and fun!

Picture of wooden casks on fire as part of the toasting processOur host for the evening will be Herman Van Broekhuizen of Compass Box Whisky.

He will be guiding us through the fascinating world of whisky and the dynamic approach that Compass Box has brought to the art of blending over the last 15 years.

We will have the Compass Box range open to try on the night, giving you the opportunity to understand how different components in the production of scotch whisky translates into what you taste in the glass…but the fun doesn’t stop there!

Picture of a bottle of Hedonism whiskyHerman will be knocking up cocktails to order. He’ll demonstrate not only how versatile whisky can be but also how easy it is to reproduce these stunning drinks at home over the summer as you entertain friends and family!  From Mint Juleps to a Whisky Smash you’ll experience this spirit as you’ve never had it before.

This event is free to attend but we expect it to be very busy!  Therefore we kindly ask that you get in touch with us by email,  call us on 020 8940 4482 or sign up in store so that we know how many to expect!  We’ll be getting things started at 18:00 and will finish around 20:30 – we look forward to seeing you then!

P.S. Read our interview with Compass Box founder John Glaser

Picture of the compass box logo

Mark’s Mendoza Mission

3 June 2015 by Mark W

A buying trip to Argentina is the stuff of wine merchants’ dreams (along with happy customers and record sales), so I jumped at a recent opportunity to embark on just such an exciting adventure. The chance to seek out new wines from this well regarded part of South America, some of which have never been seen in the UK before, was too good to miss.

With over 1,500 wine producers in Argentina, only about a quarter of them export their wines which is a sad symptom of a volatile currency and weak economy for the last 20 years. However, those exports have driven Argentina’s reputation on the world stage for producing excellent wines.

The majority of Argentina’s wine is produced in the Mendoza province, which is in the west of the country tucked at the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Some 95% of wine produced in Mendoza is produced to the east of the region and is low quality, high volume output. The remaining 5% is from quality producers in Luján de Cuyo and to the south in Valley de Uco. These are where all the producers we met are based.

A photo of Mendoza vineyards with the Andes in the background

Mendoza is essentially a desert where anything green only survives thanks to the 17th century irrigation canals which were made by the Indians. The water supply, which is fiercely controlled by the local government, is the difference between success and failure for land owners. The water itself unsurprisingly comes from Andes. It is snow water which is trapped in reservoirs and distributed via the canals. Many of the vineyards use the old irrigation system via the canals, often only getting a “flood” of water twice a week for a few hours when the water is “turned on.” However, this is sufficient. More importantly this method means disease levels are low and therefore there are lots of original rootstock dating back up to 80 years, as phylloxera, the beast which wiped out so many vines in Europe in the 19th century, cannot survive such constant flooding.

Here’s a short video of the irrigation channels:

A photo of hail nets in a vineyardThe other major risk to crops is hail, so most of the top small producers now use hail nets to protect the vines. Hail destroying your hard earned crop can be devastating as those in Burgundy in France can verify in recent years.

There were hugely different philosophies at each of the wineries we visited over course of the seven day trip. We saw small and artisan producers pushing the boundaries as well as some more commercially focussed vineyards with large production but where quality was still the focus. Others worked as a negotiant-type businesses. They own no vineyards but buy most of their grapes on long term contracts with the local farmers.

Argentina produces wonderful wines and has built its reputation on blockbuster style wines which it does very well. However, there were signs on this trip that it is starting the process of reinventing itself and its wine styles. It is no longer all about big alcohol and big fruit; there are subtle and carefully made wines with great appeal to a wider audience which will help it to continue to grow its reputation in the UK.

Here is a brief selection of the producers whose wines impressed me. Unfortunately, one major thing I learnt on this trip is that getting wines back to the UK to sell to our lovely customers is not a quick process. Sadly therefore a number of the wines I tasted will not be in our shops until much later this year. However do read on for my top tips and five case deals on some of my favourites – all of them at 20% off:

Ojo de Vino, Agrelo, Mendoza
Owned by Swiss conceptual artist and musician Dieter Meier (remember Yello?), this organic winery has some very alluring wines with great silky fruit and in a typically rich Argentina style. They are also extremely smartly designed (as you might imagine) with striking labels. They are very drinkable wines at sensible prices. Throughout June 2015, save 20% with a special offer on a 12 bottle case of Puro Malbec, Dieter Meier, 2014 for £159 (a saving of £40)

Dominio del Plata – Susana Balbo
This iconic producer has tripled in size in the last 7 years and is very different to others in that she is effectively a negotiant operation with brands and bought in contracted fruit. Wines and blends therefore change quite often. Family succession is in place with son José and daughter Ana heavily involved in the business.

Described in the 2013 vintage by wine critic, Luis Gutiérrez, as “one of the Argentine wines you must drink before you die,” buy a 12 bottle case of Barrel Fermented Torrontes, Susana Balbo 2014  for £163 and save 20% or £40. We are also delighted to offer a 12 bottle case of Susana Balbo Signature Range Malbec 2013 for £235. This is also 20% off our list price, saving you £60. And a 12 bottle case of the brilliant Bordeaux-blend Ben Marco Expresivo 2013 is also available at a discounted price of £327 which saves you £81.

A photo of concrete eggsMichelini brothers, Vista Flores, Mendoza
These guys are ground breaking for Argentina as a result of their winemaking methods based on the simple, but locally uncharacteristic, principles of low intervention, natural yeasts and no acidification of their wines. This is unheard of in Argentina and viewed somewhat sceptically by some. The key identifiable difference is the low alcohol and freshness of their wines, early picking seems to be a key factor but these guys really are happy to push the boundaries & limits, one example being experimenting with egg shaped concrete fermenters, made by their Dad! They produce an amazing “orange” unfiltered Torrontes.

Benegas Estate, Agrelo, Mendoza
Frederico Benegas has the winemaking history of Argentina in his heart being the great-great-grandson of the man who first planted French vines in Argentina. The key to the great wines they produce is the very old vines across the estate, many are 60 to 80 years old. They make an amazing array of classy wines with bottle age, lovely balance and pure fruit. We have their Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 and their 2006 Cabernet Franc available now.

Bodega Aniello, Rio Alta, Patagonia
The only wines we tasted from down in the cool south of the country during our trip but well worth the wait. These wines are fabulously good value for the quality and with noticeable stylistic differences to Mendoza wines. They have more restrained concentration and intensity of fruit, lighter but extremely drinkable wines with complexity.

My Mixed Mendoza case is also available. It contains with three bottles of Barrel Fermented Torrontes, Susana Balbo 2014; Susana Balbo Signature Range Malbec 2013; Ben Marco Expresivo 2013 and Puro Malbec, Dieter Meier, 2014. This costs just £221 a saving of £55.

All these case offers will end on 30 June 2015 or before if the limited stocks run out…so don’t delay!