Wine Education

The Good Wine Shop Uncorked

9 January 2017 by Alex

Our fun and informal wine courses continue in Chiswick and Kew in April and May.

This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about wine through the natural medium of tasting various delicious examples. We will cover how to taste wine, how wine is made, and a useful guide to the most important regions of the world. The course is designed to be an enjoyable way to deepen your appreciation of the world of wine, and of course our friendly wine educators will be available to field all your unanswered wine questions.

Courses will run on Tuesday nights in Kew between 8pm and 10pm and on Wednesday nights in Chiswick between 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Dates for the sessions in Kew and Chiswick are below:

Kew: 25/4 & 2/5; 9/5 & 16/5. Plus a final complimentary, week 3 finale for attendees of either set of sessions held on 23/5 in the form of an open forum, myth-busting, Q&A session.
Chiswick:
26/4 & 3/5; 10/5 & 17/5. Week three Q&A on 24/5.

Single sessions cost £30, a full course over either two consecutive, or two independent sessions, is £50.

Book your place via email (kew@thegoodwineshop.co.uk; chiswick@thegoodwineshop.co.uk), phone (Kew: 020 8940 4482; Chiswick: 020 8994 8184), or by popping into either of the shops.

Book Reading and Roussillon Tasting in Chiswick with Local Author Richard Bray

17 October 2016 by Alex

“Grab a bottle, and a glass. Pop it open. Pour… Swirl it, and don’t worry if you spill a bit. Everyone spills a bit swirling. Anyone who claims not to spill a bit swirling is a big fat liar” – Richard W H Bray, Salt & Old Vines.

RocknRolleOn Saturday the 12th of November from 3pm we will be holding a very special tasting event in the Chiswick store. Local author and assistant winemaker at Coume del Mas and Mas Cristine in the Roussillon, Richard Bray, will be visiting us to read from his book ‘Salt & Old Vines’ and to talk us through a tasting of Roussillon wines. Richard’s book is an account of his experiences during vintages in the region and is an extremely illuminating look at the realities of making wine. There will be some copies available to buy on the day – we can’t recommend it highly enough if you want to take your practical wine knowledge to the next level.

SOV CoverWe will be pouring some delicious new listings to help transport your mind to the rugged terrain of the French-Spanish border: Richard’s very own Consolation ‘Rock ‘n’ Rolle’ Vermentino and ‘Wild Boar’ Syrah, as well as our new, exclusive Roussillon wines from Domaine Paul Meunier-Centernach. Richard may bring some newly bottled extra surprises to taste as well!

Tickets for this tasting are £10 each, redeemable against any wine purchase made on the day. Please RSVP to the Chiswick store via phone (020 8 994 8184) or email to secure your place. Arrive at 3pm to grab yourself a glass of wine and Richard will begin reading at 3:30pm. Stick around after the reading to try all the wines on offer.

Read an excerpt of Salt & Old Vines here, or watch Richard’s introductory video here. We look forward to seeing you on the day!

The new wave Aussies

30 September 2016 by Richard

Ten years ago all Australian wine was going in the same direction, right? They were big, brash fruit bombs that were particularly appealing to a few well known critics? Well actually, no, not really. They had started to make wines closer in style to the cooler, classic French regions, such as Burgundy. That is to say, in short, with more freshness and less oak.

Even more recently, a new generation has emerged and turned its back on conventional methods of winemaking. It has taken inspiration from the natural wine movement and minimised chemical additions, in particular sulphur dioxide. These new wave wines are typically fermented without added yeast, unlikely to have acid or tannin added, nor is it exposed to new oak. Successfully made they are like inhaling a big mouthful of fresh, mountain air – vibrant, fruit-driven, and textural and reflecting their terroir.

So, is this counter culture wine-maker a hirsute hipster wearing a Nick Cave tee and Hunter gumbies (wellies in Blighty)? A sort of Shoreditch meets Seppeltsfield (a Barossa Valley sub-region), right? No, not always, but the wild approach to looks and the hip wardrobe is reflected in their highly creative, eye-catching labels.

1st Drop Wines

1st Drop Wines

Take Matt & John’s First Drop wines as a starting point. At their ‘Home of the Brave’ winery in the Barossa , they use the absolute minimum amounts of sulphur and age in large old oak, resulting in bright, elegant styles of wines that are very smashable. Added to the mix are those imaginative labels, which reveal that they have been having just a tinnie-winnie bit too much fun!

Then there is Deliquente Wines, whose strap line is “drink like a delinquent”. Don’t stop reading here as Greg of DLQ makes small batches from unusual grapes in the most unlikely of regions, Australia’s Riverland, the engine room of the bulk wine industry there. He befriends the less popular, immigrant kids in this vast playground and transforms them into something super-cool. His Screaming Betty Vermentino, a grape of Sardinian origin, has just 11.8% alcohol, zesty pink grapefruit freshness and is far more sassy than a savvy (Sauvignon Blanc).Screaming Betty

Australia is reinventing itself and on the crest of a beautiful new wave – only they are riding it more naturally and stylishly than before and wearing beards this time.

Champagne Producer Focus

5 September 2016 by Alex

New Champagnes Cropped

 

 

 

 

 

You may have noticed that we are a little bit enthusiastic about grower Champagne here at The Good Wine Shop. Our Grower Champagne Month saw us celebrate our 25+ new grower Champagne listings with two tasting events that were attended by more than 100 people. As the summer draws to a close, we thought the time was right to provide a bit more in depth information on three of our favourite growers. Imported directly from the producers to The Good Wine Shop, these are some of the best value wines in an already great value category.

Hubert Paulet

olivier-paulet

Olivier Paulet

Based in the premier cru village of Rilly-la-Montagne in the Montagne de Reims, Champagne Hubert Paulet is run by Olivier Paulet. The fourth generation of the family, Olivier took over the estate in 1998 at the age of 25. While not fully organic (the harsh, damp climate of Champagne makes organic viticulture a challenge), Paulet uses a ‘reasoned fight’ approach to viticulture alongside some organic preparations for his 8 hectares of vines. He only uses Copper and Sulphur spraying when disease pressure is high and uses no insecticides or herbicides, preferring to use shallow ploughing and allowing grass to grow in between the vines in order to maintain soil health and keep yields low. Different grape varieties are planted on the soil that most suits them: Pinot Noir on soils with higher clay content, Chardonnay on chalky soils, and Pinot Meunier on sandier soils. The grapes are hand harvested and fermented in neutral tanks and lees ageing ranges from 28 to 72 months depending on the wine. ‘Dosage’ (the final addition of sugar before bottling) varies too, but is kept low, at a maximum of 9 grams per litre. Olivier produces only 2000 cases per year, and Champagne Hubert Paulet is exclusive to The Good Wine Shop in the UK.

The Wines:

Extra Brut Tradition
Brut Millésime
Brut Millésime Rosé
Cuvee Riselus

Varnier-Fanniere

DenisVF1

Denis Varnier

Denis Varnier has been at the helm of Champagne Varnier-Fanniere since 1989 and is the third generation at the estate, although the Fanniere family were growing grapes in Champagne as far back as 1860 before deciding to produce their own wines in 1947. Varnier-Fanniere’s 4 hectares are all classed as Grand Cru and are situated in the Cote de Blancs villages of Avize, Oger, and Cramant. One of the unique characteristics of this domaine is the high average vine age – 45 years – with some parcels (for example the holdings in the Clos de Grand Pere which are the source of the Cuvée St Denis) being over 70 years old. Chardonnay excels on the chalky soils here and the wines are made almost exclusively from this grape (with the exception of the rosé that requires a contribution from Pinot Noir). The base wines undergo full malolactic fermentation – a process that softens the texture and acidity of the Champagnes – and the final product is bottled at a slightly lower pressure than most fizz, supporting this generous character.

The wines:

Brut Rosé
Cuvée St Denis
Cuvée Jean Fanniere Origine

Michel Arnould

MArnould1JPG

The Arnould Family

Michel Arnould’s grandfather-in-law Henri Lefevre began making his own Champagne in 1929, and this domaine was founded in when Michel married into the family in the early 1960s. Currently carrying on the family tradition in the Grand Cru of Verzenay are Michel’s son Patrick and his son-in-law Thierry. The 12 hectares of vines farmed here are planted 80% to Pinot Noir and 20% to Chardonnay, with an average vine age of 32 years and some vines dating back to 1950. Ploughing and grassing are also used here in order to encourage low yields and promote vine health. The winery contains more than 30 steel fermentation vats of different sizes to allow each parcel of wine to be vinified separately before blending. Around 8,500 cases were made in 2014.

The wines:

Brut Tradition NV
Le Grande Cuvée NV

Save Water, Drink Grower Champagne!

14 June 2016 by Derek

I’ve always believed that nothing unites people better than a good bottle of wine. A great bottle of wine can capture or enhance a special moment, and hopefully some of our wines here at The Good Wine Shop have helped inspire such experiences for you.

We work to present a selection of great wines made by great people. It doesn’t matter where it’s from, or how much it costs, every wine on our shelves has a family and a face behind it and we love to share their inspiring stories.

Keeping in that spirit, for the entire month of June we are popping corks and celebrating our favourite Champagne producers for our first ever “Grower Champagne Month” at The Good Wine Shop!

We will be hosting a series of free tasting events in Kew and Chiswick this month so you can come and discover these exciting wines for yourself!  See below for dates, and stay tuned for detailed announcements from each shop in the coming days.

“That sounds great, Derek…. But what exactly is a “Grower” Champagne?”

Grower Champagnes are produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown.   These are usually made by small producers & greatly express the terroir of their sites.   Moet & Chandon, Veuve Cliquot, and Laurent Perrier are large Champagne “Houses” that buy most of their grapes from many different growers and work to blend their wines to achieve the same taste year after year, in massive quantities.  In general, they focus their efforts more on blending wines in the cellar rather than growing the grapes themselves.

“Ok…. So Why Grower Champagnes?” Grower Champagne Pic

The economical reason is that you can get more for your money in champagne when you don’t pay for the brand. Grower Champagnes can provide some of the absolute best value for money in Champagne.

From a philosophical perspective, the humble and dedicated histories of these growers fit perfectly in our spirit to celebrate the unsung heroes of all regions.  We consider ourselves storytellers at The Good Wine Shop, and these are the stories from Champagne we really want to focus on this month!

It’s not that we think these champagnes are necessarily better than big champagne houses.  I have been emotionally moved by many Champagnes from the most iconic houses.  Many Houses make great wines which express their terroir, and conversely many Growers are guilty of producing ordinary and uninteresting wines.

In some ways, it’s like comparing a rock concert at Wembley Stadium to your favourite local venue for up and coming musicians.   I’ve been known to sing along with the hits on the radio, but this month at The Good Wine Shop I am humming the tunes of the next Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, or John Lennon of the Champagne world.

I’m proud to say that we have crafted a range of outstanding wines from growers who speak to the spirit of what we are about at The Good Wine Shop.   We have even sourced a few new amazing producers to import directly to the UK.  We’re very proud to add the wines of Hubert Paulet, Varnier-Fanniere, and Michel Arnould to our already extensive selection.

So pop into any of our shops to learn more about all of these great producers, and don’t forget to add the following dates into your calendar….

Tuesday, June 14th 6:00pm – 9:00pm @ Foxlow Chiswick
“Free Champagne Tasting and BYO”

Saturday, June 25th 2:00pm – 6:00pm @ The Good Wine Shop Chiswick
“Grower Champagne Showcase!”

Sunday, June 26th 12:00pm – 6:00pm @ The Good Wine Shop Kew
“Grower Champagne Showcase and Summer Portfolio Tasting!”

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Cheers,

Derek Morrison
Retail Manager
The Good Wine Shop
Kew, Chiswick, & Esher

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.

Real Wine Month

3 March 2016 by Johannes

Real Wine Month (April 2016) is a movement championing wines made organically, biodynamically and naturally; somewhat like the campaign for real ale (CAMRA), but for wine. We invite you to join the celebrations…

These “low intervention” ways of production can result in some of the most interesting wines on the market. It’s important to say at the outset that none of these approaches guarantee the quality of a wine, but the guiding philosophies focus primarily on sustainable viticulture and the absence of chemicals and pesticides. The belief is that by minimizing human intervention in the cellar and ensuring environmental harmony in the vineyards, the wines will be healthier and best express the true voice of the terroir.

Natural wine makers in a vineyardAs a fairly difficult category to define, many of these wines and wineries subscribe to different environmental certifications, and sometimes none officially at all.  They are all slightly different approaches and are not mutually exclusive (in fact biodynamic wines are a slightly more extreme example of organic viticulture and natural wines even more so). Broadly speaking, organic wines are made with limited man made substances (known as agrochemicals in the trade) used in both viticulture (growing the grapes) and vinification (turning the grapes into wine). Biodynamic wines are the same, but made according to Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic agriculture rules. Many of the rules are based on astrology and spiritual and mystical ideology, drawing some scepticism from non-subscribers across the industry. Whatever one’s opinion on the philosophy behind it, some of the best wines in the world are made following these practises.

Horse in Cecchin vineyardNatural wine is made with as little intervention as possible. It tends to be grown organically or biodynamically in the vineyard, and then in the winery is where the decisions to make a natural wine define it. Therefore, the yeast to start fermentation must come from the vineyard rather than using commercially available inoculated yeast; there are very few allowed additives and almost no sulphur dioxide is allowed. Those who are sensitive to sulphites ­­tend to choose natural wines for this very reason. As a result, a lot of the wines gain many interesting and unique flavours; on the flip side of this, the incidence of faults is much higher as few preservatives, if any, added to the wine. Sometimes, they can look and taste so unlike conventionally produced wines that the average consumer should carefully consider all potential styles when beginning their foray into the realm of these wines.

At The Good Wine Shop, we have a good range of organic, biodynamic and natural wines. When well made, they account for some of the most diverse, iconic and interesting wines in the world. The premier estates of  Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Domaine Leroy, and Domaine Leflaive of Burgundy, as well as Chateau de Beaucastel from Chateauneuf du Pape, are a few examples of iconic wineries all following biodynamics. We also have some great “low intervention” everyday wines – such as customer favourites Ciu Ciu and Campo Flores.

To celebrate Real wine Month we’ll be bringing in a selection of low intervention wines which we’ve tasted recently and loved. These will be open to try in all out shops on the weekends of Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 April and also Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 April.

A photo of four bottles of Ganevat wine from JuraAlready arrived and on the shelves are the wines of Jura legend Jean Francois Ganevat. He’s been producing very special wines since 1998 at his tiny winery in Jura after making wines in Burgundy. No sulphur is added at all to the reds and tiny amounts in the whites; in spite of this, the wines develop in bottle for years and are much sought after. We are lucky to be able to showcase five of his Cuvées in the shop. My favourite is the slightly mad red blend “J’En Veux Encore” (I want more) which mixes 18 different red and white varietals. This wine is made in extremely small quantities, and lovingly hand de-stemmed and all co-fermented. All of his wines are fascinating in different ways, but every one is a treat!

The centrepiece of Real Wine Month is the Real Wine Fair which takes place in east London on Sunday 17 April (and April 18 for the wine press and trade folks). Over 150 growers and winemakers will be pouring and presenting their wines. In addition to the extensive range of wines, The Fair will also feature an array of artisan food producers, an on-site shop and a series of seminars and masterclasses on themes surrounding natural wine. Entry costs £20. However, we have three pairs of tickets to give away – one pair for each shop. To win these all you need to do is buy any organic, biodynamic or natural wine between Monday 13 March and Wednesday 13 April. Our staff will take your details, all the names will go in a hat…and we’ll let you know on Thursday 14 April if you’ve won. Good luck and good drinking!

Vineyard images courtesy of Real Wine Month

How to Match Food and Wine

1 April 2015 by Jackie

Pairing wines and food together is one of life’s great pleasures…and skills.

A great match will enhance both the wine and food – with the whole surpassing the sum of the parts.  There isn’t always just one answer to matching a wine with a dish, but know the basic rules and the world is your oyster – or should that be seafood salad or moules marinières?!

The principal aim is to try to get a balance that neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other.

The main elements of food and wine matching to consider are:Wine

  • Flavour Intensity: Match full flavours together, like Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus, mild flavours like Muscadet and oysters. Flavour intensity, although similar to weight, is not the same thing, which brings us onto….
  • Weight: Match the actual robustness of the food with the weight of the wine. A rich casserole with a juicy red wine or an elegant unoaked white with delicate, soft sushi.
  • Saltiness: Salty foods are enhanced and balanced by a hint of sweetness; the same thing can be achieved with wine. Whilst salt clashes with tannin (it makes tannin seem bitter), it works miracles with acidity. Whites are a more obvious choice but some reds can work too.
  • Sweetness: The wine should always be sweeter than the food. Sweetness in wine also acts as a foil to rich foods. Sweet foods make dry wines seem over-acidic and tart. Sweetness also balances salt so remember you can serve things like white Port as an apéritif, depending on the nibbles you choose.
  • Acidity: High acid wines complement fatty foods in the same way that lemon cuts through the greasiness of smoked salmon. Food and wine can both have acidity. Think about where the wine originates, not just the character of the grape – cool climate wines will have more acidity than those from hot climates.
  • Tannin: The more textured the food is -whether chewy or fatty – the more tannin you need in the wine. Wine tannins are attracted to fatty protein, they attach themselves to the protein molecules and strip them from your mouth, leaving it feeling refreshed and cleansed and ready for the next mouthful.
  • Don’t know where to start with a match? Head to the roots of the dish or wine……The flavours of foods and wines that have grown up together over the centuries—Tuscan recipes and Tuscan wines, for instance—are almost always a natural fit.
  • Some foods just don’t go with wine very well: Where there are high levels of umami, acid or heat sometimes it’s very difficult to get a good match. Well known tricky ingredients include artichokes, capers, tomatoes, horseradish, olives, yoghurt and truffle. But don’t fight it – there is always beer, cider or a cocktail that might be a good option!

T-Bone Steak

Here are some examples we’ve tried recently to show these rules in action, alongside some suggestions from our range!

Champagne is perfect with anything salty.

Try our Gallimard NV with cheese straws, moreish pre-dinner!

Sauvignon Blanc goes with tart dressings and sauces.

Grilled asparagus spears dipped in lemon vinaigrette with Seresin Sauvignon Blanc is delicious.

Seafood needs “coastal” wines like Albariño or Muscadet.

The “Hare and Tortoise” from Galicia is our number one choice with fruits de mer.

Choose Chardonnay for fatty fish or poultry in a rich sauce.

Classic Cannonball Chardonnay from Sonoma with grilled salmon or chicken fricassee. White Burgundy also always an option…oak is necessary though!

Off-Dry Riesling pairs with sweet & spicy dishes.

We think Schloss Vollrads is perfect with Thai fishcakes, tofu pad thai and chicken in pandan leaves.

Moscato d’Asti loves fruit desserts.

Fruit filled crêpes or apple tart with our Moscato d’Asti is superb.

Pair a dry rosé with rich, cheesy dishes.White Wine

Gruyère soufflé and Whispering Angel….seconds please!

Pinot Noir is great for dishes with earthy flavours.

Think mushroom risotto or lentils with slow roast pork – either classic Austrian Göttweiger Berg or New World Shaw+Smith.

Old World wines and Old World dishes are intrinsically good together.

The Reverdito Barolo and a slow-cooked wild boar sausage ragu with polenta is a no-brainer.

Chocolate and Port work together with the sweetness.

Choose either LBV with fruit and dark chocolate combos, or Tonel 12 with a milky chocolate/ caramel pud.

Lamb and Tempranillo go hand-in-hand.

Depending on a garnish, go for classic Bosconia Rioja for roast lamb, or Conceito Contraste from the Douro Valley if its tagine-style.

Chargrilled red meat like steak needs wine with “oomph”.

Choose between Château de Pez, Frog’s Leap or Warwick Trilogy depending on your mood!

We’ll be running a food and wine matching sessions in all the shops in April and May. Watch out for more details. Drop by to find your perfect match!

Bon appétit!