Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône 2013

Côtes du Rhône has become synonymous with holidays in the French Region of Provence – ever since we holidayed (vacation) there a few years ago. I had tried it some years ago and hadn’t really liked it – the stuff that the supermarket had been importing at the time (maybe ten years ago) was quite harsh and unpalatable in my opinion so I didn’t bother with Côtes du Rhône for a while. On that holiday we decided to give it another chance for two reasons – firstly, it was the local produce and we were keen to indulge, and secondly, it has been our experience that they keep the best wines back for themselves – and why not?

I have been drinking Côtes du Rhône fairly regularly since then; I found that the quality had improved dramatically. Much of the supermarkets offerings have all been from the same producer – Celliers de Dauphins – even the supermarket “own brands” although, you need good glasses to see it on the label. So, I was now a big fan of Côtes du Rhône again. I was quite excited to find this one, partly because it wasn’t “Celliers du Dauphins” nice as it is. It turns out that Famille Perrin is quite an established name in Côtes du Rhône circles so I had fallen on my feet with this one!

I purchased this one from Majestic – we are working our way through my Majestic purchases at the moment, as you may have gathered, and it was priced at £7.99 (as usual, this is the six + mixed case price – full price £11.99):

Perrin et Fils

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Reserve 2013.

Price: £7.99 (as part of mixed six)

Vintage: 2013

Area/Region/Country: Beaucastel, Orange, Provence, France.

Alcohol Content: 13.5%

Grapes: Grenache, Syrah

Colour: Purple (probably a little young).

Bouquet/Nose/Smell: “Plums and Custard” , Cherries.

Taste/Palate: Cherries, ripe red berries, Tannins, spices – Majestic tasting notes also suggest peppermint and vanilla.

Finish: Rich and long  – very pleasant.

Famille Perrin say:

This 2013 Reserve has a great minerality with abundant freshness. Primarily made from Grenache, it is the Syrah variety that dominates this vintage. Nice aromas of red and black fruit, with a strong aromatic concentration. The mouth is fresh and full-­‐bodied. The tannins are soft and give a long aromatic finish.

I say – well worth the money – better than my usual 😉


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The Elms Shiraz – Yering Station.

I do like a nice Australian Shiraz, and this one caught my eye on my recent trip to Majestic. (I had also mistaken it for “Yarra Yering” which I had read about in one of Oz Clark’s books some years ago and thought – that must be alright – I’m only human!). I had made a mistake, but I wasn’t disappointed:-

Yering - the Elms Shiraz

We opened this one on the 8th of July.

Yering Station (Yarra Valley) 2013 The Elms.

Price: £9.99 ( as part of 6+ bottles offer – full price = £11.99)

Vintage: 2013

Area/Region/State/Country: Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Alcohol Content: 14% (ABV).

Grapes: Shiraz

Colour: Rich Red to Slight Brick Red.

Nose/Bouquet/Smell: It reminded my wife, Jane of furniture polish at first, I got a touch of cloves leading to ripe red berries (plums, damsons, blackberries in combination).

Taste/Palate: Red Berries and black pepper. The alcohol content was noticeable, but then at 14% that was not surprising.

Finish:  The finish was quite long,  had a strong alcohol residue and peppery.

Comments: This was a very pleasant bottle of wine and at £9.99 ( if you bought six mixed bottles – full price £11.99) I think that it was priced quite reasonably – I might have baulked at full price. I wouldn’t make a bee-line for it but I would consider it amongst others if I wanted this style of wine.

Link to Majestics “The Elms” page.

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The 11 things you need to know about wine from Alsace

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Originally posted on The Wine Wankers:
I was originally going to call this article – ‘Alsace wine region needs to get on Tinder!’  Crazy title, but after visiting Alsace in June, I observed a lack confidence.  The winemakers knew their…

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Barista 2015 Pinotage.

I have always been at best ambivalent about South African wines. I have had some good ones and I have had some that weren’t so nice. I avoided them for many years as I always managed to find other wines, usually from France or Australia that attracted me more at wine buying time, but in the spirit of adventure and really to make up a sufficient value to “spend” my Majestic voucher, I picked this one up. At £8.99 (£6.99 as I was buying more than six bottles) I wasn’t risking much if I didn’t like it right?

Well, I apologise to the producers here and now that I had such low expectations for this wine; what a revelation! My wife and I (she always insists on helping with my research) both loved it. Now, before I go off waxing lyrical about how I have just discovered the nectar of the gods for less than £7.00, I have to say that although we loved it, it doesn’t meet with universal approval. It has strong a barbecue, hickory smoke  nose and palate which according to the reviews on Majestic’s website isn’t everyones cup-of-tea. As well the smoke, there are the aromas of Coffee, chocolate, plum and mulberries all intermingled to create a wonderful experience. I shall buy more of this without a doubt.


Producer: Val de Vie wine estate.

Jan Van Riebeck

Winemaker: Bertus Fourie.

Country/region: South Africa/Western Cape.

Vintage: 2015.

Alcohol Content by volume:13%

Colour: Red/Purple

Bouquet/nose: Smoked “Bavarian” sausage, Barbecue “Hickory” smoke, Ripe red berries, Coffee and chocolate.

Taste/Palate: Barbecued steak, Ripe red berries (Cherry/Mulberry/Plum) Coffee and Chocolate – very complex and intense.

Finish: long and lingering – the smooth chocolate, the coffee and the smokey taste stay with you for some time in a very pleasant combination. This is not a wine that you would want to or even feel the need to hurry.

According to Majestic, it can be enjoyed on its own or with red meat dishes, whereas the winemaker, Bertus recommends “a blue-cheese-filled brandy snap with chocolate and roasted coffee beans” although, I think that he is really describing the flavours in the wine!

This is a very different and very pleasant wine which we enjoyed immensely. It is certainly worth a punt at £6.99 to £8.00 (depending on whether you buy six bottles – mixed – at a time). It will be one of my collection of purchases next visit.

You can see the Majestic Wine “Barista” page together with reviews from other customers here:

Barista 2015 on Majestic Wines site.


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Vasse Felix Filius Cabernet Merlot Blend 2013.

Those very nice people at Majestic Wine sent me a voucher for money off my next purchase. It had been a while since I had visited Majestic and this was an offer I couldn’t resist. I bought eight bottles of wine in total. I like majestic as they generally have better quality wines than I can get on my supermarket ventures, but of course you generally get what you pay for with wine so they also tend to be more expensive, and I can resist anything but temptation; Majestic tempts me to spend more than I should.

I was excited by what I saw and I was particularly excited at the chance to buy a Vasse Felix wine. I have often encountered the brand in wine books and magazines and was curious to see if the wine lived up to my expectations. I have always enjoyed the wines that I have had from Western Australia; they seem distinctly different from the usual fayre from South-East and South Australia – quite full and fruity, so I was expecting a treat.

The wine that I chose was their “Filius” Cabernet Merlot blend –  they also do a Chardonnay in the same range and price.

Filius Cab-Mer

Vintage 2013.

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend.

Region: Margaret River, Western Australia.

Producer: Vasse Felix.

Alcohol %: 14.5

Colour: Dark purple/Red

Bouquet/Smell: Smokey (Oak), Black fruits – Blackcurrants and plums.

Taste/Palate: Rounded Blackcurrants, smokey with a hint of herbs.

Majestic say: “Perfumed and leafy aromas along with generous black fruits and berry fruit aromas. A palate rounded by oak, integrated and ripe tannins and warming layers of dark fruits. An integrated complex finish.”

Finish: Long, smooth and complex.

Majestic suggest that it is suited to Beef, Lamb and cured meats, I would suggest that it would cope with strong flavoured cheese too.

It is a great wine to enjoy now but Majestic suggest that it could be enjoyed consistently over the next 8-10 years and it does appear to have enough structure to support their claim.

At £15.99 (or even at the paid £11.99 because I bought six + mixed case) it is more than I would normally pay for a wine but the extra expense was well worth it. In this case the extra money buys you complexity, structure and depth that you just don’t get with less expensive wines. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine – I really ought to get a job that pays better! I enjoyed the rich fruits, the intricate blend of flavours and long finish. The 14.5% alcohol wasn’t noticeable to me – with some high alcohol wines, you really notice the alcohol, but with the rich flavours the alcohol added rather than detracted from the overall effect.

Christelle Guibert from Decanter Magazine wrote (May Issue):

“An elegant, textbook Bordeaux blend from a leading Margaret River producer. There’s a minty, dried-herb edge to the ripe blackcurrant fruit that is beautifully balanced by subtle oak, fresh acidity and super-fine tannins.”

Majestic “Filius” link

This wine could probably be regarded as Vasse Felix budget wine in the shadow of their Heytesbury “The Red” signature red wine at £60.00 (Majestic) but it is still an incredibly good quality wine and if what you are looking for is deep, structured and complex, then I can thoroughly recommend it.

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Dr. L Riesling.

Continuing my plight for low alcohol wines I decided to try a German Riesling again as it has been a while. I have had Australian Riesling recently – the Aussies produce generally dry and sharp Riesling but as Riesling is one of the constituents of Liebfraumilch I was expecting something sweet (scale 3-5) but at an alcohol content of 8.5% it fitted the bill and besides, I was curious. I decided on a “Dr.L” from Loosen Brothers – at £7.00 from Sainsbury, it was a little more expensive than the others that I had in my basket.

Dr L Riesling

Loosen Brothers who are based in BernKastel/Mosel have quite a reputation in the German Riesling world and although this wasn’t their best stuff, I was expecting that it would be good – I wasn’t disappointed. In fact it was well worth the money and as such, I will be buying more before long.

Vintage: 2014

Country of Origin: Germany

Region: Bernkastel, part of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region.

Alcohol: 8.5%

Colour: Pale yellow

Bouquet/Nose/Smell: Vanilla/”fruit salad sweets”/Pineapple (Sainsbury say: “Fruity”)

Palate/Taste: Pineapple also quite “tart” or sharp

Finish: Long finish – pineapple/Tropical fruit

It is a very pleasant wine with tropical fruit tones. (probably a 3 on the Dry-sweet scale) I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again. It is said to go well with spicy food – I would suggest Thai food particularly containing the likes of Lychees – I think that it would be overpowered by the heavy spices of Indian Cuisine.

Storage instructions: Should be drank within one year of purchase – no surprise there.

Loosen Brothers History:

History: The Dr Loosen Estate has been in the same family for over 200 years. When Ernst Loosen assumed ownership in 1988 he realised that with ungrafted vines averaging 60 years old in some of Germany’s best rated vineyards, he had the raw materials to create stunningly intense world class wines. To achieve this Ernst dramatically reduced crop size and stopped all chemical fertilisation, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilisers. He insisted on only fully mature fruit that had been strictly selected. And he turned to gentler cellar practices which allowed the wine to develop to its full potential with the minimum use of handling and technological meddling

Regional information: This entry-level Loosen Riesling embodies the elegant and racy characteristics of steep, slate-soil Mosel vineyards at a very reasonable price. Dr. L comes exclusively from traditional vineyards with steep slopes and slate soil. By working closely with growers on long-term contract, brothers Ernst and Thomas Loosen are able to assure excellent quality in every vintage.

Link to Dr. L on Sainsbury website.




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Beaujolais from Tesco.

I went out in search of something light in taste and alcohol content and preferably, inexpensive (cheap has such negative connotations). I came back with this amongst others:-


Tesco Beaujolais – at £4.50 my expectation was that it it would be a pleasant ordinary wine and in many ways it was, but the lesson here is that you should “never judge a book by it’s cover” because with the simple label and no stated vintage you could easily pass this one by; that would be a mistake if all you want is easy drinking as it out shines many of the slightly more expensive bottles on the shelf. Well worth the money.

Beaujolais appellation d’origine protegee from Alliance de Vignerons Bourgogne Beaujolais.

No stated vintage.

Grape: 100% Gamay

Alcohol (%) 12.5

Price: £4.50

Taste category: B – soft and fruity.

Colour: red/purple

Smell/Bouquet: Tesco say red currents but it reminded us of fig rolls

Taste: We were reminded of strawberries, cherries and plums – Tesco say red berries – very soft and pleasant.

Finish:- sweetish, long and delicate.

Link to Tesco Beaujolais page.

Very pleasant wine and well worth the money. If it is excellence that you are looking for then you are on the wrong shelf or even in the wrong shop – no disrespect to Tesco, but if you are looking for good everyday value then you would do well with this wine.

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Taste the Difference Pinot Noir.

I decided to seek out something out of the ordinary at my local Sainsbury recently. I came across this “Taste the Difference” (a Sainsbury own label range) German Pinot Noir Rheinhessen Qualitatswein. German red is quite a bit rarer than white and Pinot Noir is not a grape that I would normally associate with Germany – I was hoping for a treat.


It is on special offer at the moment at £6.00 (usual price £7.00 per 75 cl).

Bottled by Niersteiner Weingenossenschaft.

Vintage 2015

Alcohol 12.5%

Colour: Very thin colouration – browny red illustrating that this one won’t last very long and may be past its best soon despite only being 2015.

Bouquet/Smell: mild whiskey odour then very mild red fruit.

Taste/Palate: very faint whiskey taste (honest) leading to red berry fruit again. Not very strong flavours at all. Like inexpensive summer fruits squash.

Finish: didn’t last at all.

Overall, a rather watery wine which did a good job of washing cheese down but little else. Quite pleasant and unchallenging but I was a bit disappointed that it was so watery. At £6.00, I think that it was a little over priced – you might do better with the 2014 which has a higher alcohol level at 13% – it may have got a bit more sun.

Link to their 2014 version

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Drink up! Hard truths about ageing wine

The wines that you buy in the supermarket are generally “ready to drink now” but what if you were to seek out wines from independent, perhaps smaller producers? The is often confusion about whether your wine purchase will benefit from cellaring – whether it will improve or deteriorate. This is a great guide to which wines are likely to improve with age and those which are more vibrant in their youth.

Now we’re not committing any more heinous wine storage crimes it’s time to talk about which wines you should and shouldn’t be keeping. This is a topic which constantly comes up when I host wine tastings. The questions usually go something like this:

  • “Does wine always improve with age?”
  • “Is it dangerous to drink aged wine?”
  • “Are aged wines better than young wines?”
  • “How long can you age wine for?”
  • “But you can only age really expensive wines, right?”
  • “So how do you know which wines to age?”

As these questions prove, ageing wine is a topic full of myths, fallacies and misunderstandings. Do not despair. Here’s the first part of my efforts to guide you on your way to ageing like a pro. It all boils down to this basic principle:

So now we’ve got that sorted, let’s talk about ageing wine…

Why do we age wine?

Unlike those…

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Reliable is bad?

I have known for quite a few years that the big names in supermarket wines will produce a consistent “product” year in year out no matter what the “Vintage”, and this Winefantastic post serves to illustrate that – they make the point that it is not all bad news though; take Champagne where the “Famous houses ” have been making their distinctive  “house styles” for many years. It suggests the need to look further than the supermarkets for your wine to find a grape grower/winemaker who is trying his or her best rather than working to a brief.


To be clear, I am referring to reliability of wine style only.

Ever wondered how the big boys of the wine world achieve their consistency of offering?

How the big branded wines never seem to run out in the supermarket?

Regardless of the weather or natural event in the “vineyard”.

Well I’ve been wondering for years.

And a possible answer lies in the desire of members of big supply chains to satisfy a largely unsophisticated market; a market that less and less regards wine (and other agricultural products for that matter) as born from an agricultural product. The turning of wine (apples, beef, milk) into a homogenous, industrial product. One you can “rely” upon to be the same year in year out. Like Coca cola.

These big players only do what “we” ask them to do. They produce that which we will buy. So we get the products we want…

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