Monthly Archives: July 2011

The Wine Gang Christmas Fair

The BEST wine show in the country is back!

That’s right, The Wine Gang is laying on another all-singing, all-dancing buzzing Christmas wine fair in London on 29th October, and because last year was such a storming success, this year we’re also heading north, to Edinburgh on 12th November.

You don’t have to be a member to come along, so if you’ve been before and/or you’re already sold (very sensible!) then snap up an early bird discount ticket while you can by heading over to The Wine Gang website or going straight onto London on TicketSoup or Edinburgh on TicketSoup

For those who want to read a little more about what’s happening, let me just say that Anthony, David, Joanna, Tom and myself are already bursting with excitement at how amazing this year’s event is going to be, undoubtedly the best we’ll have ever done.

Why? Hosts of the fair will be some of the most delicious wine merchants in the country, including a number of new exhibitors this year, such as quality independent stores Stone, Vine & Sun from Hampshire and Lea & Sandeman from London.

Then we have four seriously sexy masterclasses in Bollinger, Chapoutier, O Fournier and Yalumba in London, and some very exciting ones in Edinburgh too (exact details of which will appear very soon).

Joanna and I are already on the lookout for a pair of gorgeous but comfy heels so we can conduct our hugely popular Wine Walks on both days. For those who haven’t been before, the Wine Walks consist of each of us from the gang taking a small group around the fair and conducting a sort of mini tutored tasting as we visit the tables.

Naturally Anthony, David and Tom will be doing those too, I just assume the heel issue will not come into the equation there….

Anyway, just to be serious for a minute, these events really are the icing on the cake for The Wine Gang as they’re the culmination of our in-depth and year-round analysis of the thousands of wines that can be found on our shelves up and down the country.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and I’ll see you in the autumn, make sure you come and say hi!

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Brand spanking new sparklers

I’ve found myself oo-ing and ah-ing over two delicious pink sparklers this last week. Nothing new there then, as anyone who knows me remotely will know that I do love a good rosé fizz (then again, show me a girl who doesn’t).

Anyway, I’m especially pleased because both of these brand spanking new wines are English. English sparkling wine has had plenty of airtime/column inches recently (from Waitrose’s vineyard planting in Hampshire to Cornish producer Camel Valley’s success in international competitions, we seem to hear about the potential of English wine quite a lot).

That said, it still gives me a buzz that as a nation of historic under-achievers in wine production (although it’s hardly our cool country’s fault), we’re now pulling out all the classy sparkling wine stops.

As I said, this was yet further endorsed this last fortnight as I was lucky enough to be sent a sample of the Coates & Seely Rosé Brut Britagne 2009, a new venture between Christian Seely and Nicholas Coates.

It’s made from two grape varieties, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and it’s a sumptuous, juicy and refreshing strawberry-filled rosé with mouth-watering crispness. And even though on the face of things it sounds a bit pricey, I happen to think it’s well worth the money. Funnily enough, a wine merchant friend of mine challenged me as I was waxing lyrical to him about it the other day…

Him: “Yes, yes, but is it WORTH the money [at £29.95 a bottle]?”
Me: “It is absolutely worth the money. I would just as happily drink this as I would a many a rosé Champagne, which would be easily in this same price bracket, if not more so.”
And I would.

I had less time to analyse the second rosé in quite as much detail, all I can tell you is that I was very happily supping it at the launch of newly-located wine accessories one-stop shop Around Wine in Chiltern Street in London ( A great little party with far too many tempting Galvin-created canapés, delicious English fizz and a goody bag to boot. Happy days.

Anyway, the rosé this time hailed from Kent, Gusbourne Estate to be precise. It was a less voluptuous and obviously fruity sparkling rosé than the Coates & Seely version, even though this Kent one has all three of the traditional Champagne varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay in its blend. This was more on the elegant and mineral spectrum, with a delicate fragrance and fine acidity. A very pretty, clean and refreshing sparkling wine indeed.

There’s also plenty of fun-filled and exciting Wine Gang Christmas Fairs news to tell you, and things are changing by the minute. If you simply can’t wait then check out right now, but for those of you who want the precise lowdown, then check out this page again over the weekend. Until then, happy Friday!

PS – Here’s where to find those two yummy rosés…
Coates & Seely Rosé Brut Britagne 2009, £29.95, Lea & Sandeman (
Gusbourne Estate Rosé Brut NV, £24.99, The Wine Room (

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Croatia uncovered


Last week was a week of both fascination and jubilation as The Wine Gang set up camp in Zagreb where our sneaking suspicions were proved right – there’s some serious wine talent to be had in Croatia.

The Wine Gang’s delighted to have partnered up with Wines of Croatia this year, and in doing so, this week we conducted a comprehensive blind tasting of more than 250 Croatian wines, from which we ‘ve chosen a selection to show at the Wines of Croatia annual tasting this September in London.

These benchmarking tastings are always exciting, but this week the buzz was evening stronger. Why? Well, because it proved that not only does Croatia have some interesting native varieties up its sleeve, (Poŝip, Plavac Mali and Teran to name just a few) but the quality of the variety Malvasia is especially exciting.

Our second round of tasting (in the benchmarking exercise) revealed a delicious flight of Malvasias, both the younger/fruitier version as well as Malvasia’s other style, the one that either has more oak or more age. Both were mind-blowing. This is a grape variety and a country with untold potential.

Speaking of which, who else was in Zagreb the same time as us checking out the Croatian wine scene? None other than superstar winemaking consultant Stéphane Derenoncourt, whose very presence suggests Croatia’s wine scene is gaining momentum. This of course is endorsed by the listing of Croatian wines’ in top class UK restaurants like The Fat Duck in Berkshire and Texture in London. You heard it here first….

Have a great week, bok! (which is Croatian for ‘bye as well as hi, btw)

Posted in Blog, July 2011 | Leave a comment