The quality of Sauvignon Blanc coming out of the Touraine region of the Loire Valley continues to impress me, considerably more so than it’s rich neighbours up river in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume. Founded in 1905, Domaine de Corbillieres has been in the Barbou family for four generations and is now run by Dominique and Véronique Barbou, who have 16 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc. In the words of Robert Parker, they have a ‘long-run track record for generating some of the consistently finest – not to mention best-value – Sauvignon Blancs on the planet’. A big call but actually one I would agree with after having followed closely the quality coming out of this Domaine for over ten years. The Domaine des Corbillières Sauvignon de Touraine (£12) is continually highly rated and shows exactly how good Loire Sauvignon Blanc can be, from both a quality and value point of view. A meticulous approach in the vineyard, low yields and full ripeness results in a wine with an intensity on the palate that eliminates the need for the addition of residual sugar. Light lemon-yellow with a fresh, lively perfume of citrus and green apple with hints of sherbet on the nose. On the palate it has great balance with plenty of fresh fruit providing good weight and a zesty acidity giving it a lift. A lively, mineral note gives the finish complexity.
I’ve genuinely lost count of the amount of times our Aussie winemaker friend Peter Logan has visited North Berwick, he just can’t get enough of it. This might actually be his tenth visit, but hey, what’s there not to love about East Lothian and North Berwick. He loves hanging out in the shop and chatting to customers who’ve enjoyed many of his wines over the years. So we’ll be adopting the usual format of opening loads of the Logan Wines and giving people the opportunity to taste the range and chat the man who put them together. One of those little beauties will be the Logan Weemala Pinot Noir 2015. The Weemala range is a little bit quirky and has attracted a loyal following for its restrained, elegant and excellent value for money wines. All of the wines in the Weemala series are comprised of fruit grown in Mudgee and Orange in Australia’s Central Ranges – like all Logan wines – they are supple, fruit-driven and extremely drinkable. The perfect wines for those who enjoy something just a little bit different. The Pinot Noir is bright cherry red in colour and has perfumed aromas of wild strawberry, cinnamon and toast with flavours of red berries, cherry and spice on a bright and complex palate. And, what makes this wine even more brilliant is that it’s got £2 OFF, Now only £10. Pop in and say G’day this Fri and Sat between 2 – 7pm.
This is the first occasion that I’ve done a piece on a beer, strange seeing as we’re as enthusiastic about them as we are wine and whisky. We have an area dedicated craft producers, granted most are Scottish, however this piece is being allocated to one from the country whose name epitomizes beer production; Belgium. The Kwaremont is famous for being one of the most iconic stretches of road in world cycling. A steep 2.2km section of cobbles that comes towards the end of the 265km race of The Tour of Flanders. Imagine the excitement when I find myself on the Kwaremont for this year’s edition of the Tour of Flanders slurping on none other than Kwaremont beer watching the pros race past. So after weeks of messing around, a shipment of this brilliant Belgian beer has just arrived. Would it taste as good as on that wonderful spring day in the Flemish Ardennes?? OH YES!! It’s been a week and I still can’t stop buzzing about it. Just the kind of Belgian beer that I love, essentially not too rich or strong (6.6%) but still plenty of character that defines it as being a Belgian Blond beer. Smooth, well-balanced and fruity with lovely warming flavours, hints of quince, gooseberry, bitter cherry, apple and spice. Kwaremont Beer 33cl – £2.75 (get a free limited bespoke Kwaremont glass with 6 bottles)
Fans of good single malt whisky and visitors to the shop will be well aware of the quality of the Carn Mor Strictly Limited independent bottlings from Morrison and Mackay Whisky Merchants. The quality of their bottlings are always exceptionally high and it’s one of their latest releases that has got us all giggling with excitement and become a default recommendation for anyone looking for an interesting bottle of whisky- Carn Mor Strictly Limited Caol Ila 7yo (£40). You’re not dreaming, I promise this is for real. A Caol Ila bottling from only two bourbon hogsheads and for only £40!!! Another reason why you might not want to hang around is that this is a small batch bottling of which we received less than 50 bottles. Classic peaty Islay nose which I can guarantee will make you grin from ear to ear, however it’s on the palate where the real fun begins. Despite being packed with big bonfire smoke, it’s got the most incredible sweetness that balances things out so harmoniously. A drop of water mellows out the beast and brings out even more lush sweetness. Such an incredible example of Caol Ila and what Islay is all about and really isn’t one to be missed. Come down and have a taste if you still need convincing.
Judging by the amount of Logan Wines we have in the shop, I’ll forgive people for thinking the shop is called Logan Bros. Ever since his first visit to the shop back in 2004, Peter Logan has become one of my best buds in the wine world and after eight visits to the shop over the years he must be best buds with half of North Berwick. (he’s back 17/18th June). Once one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, the appeal of the NSW Central Ranges is now widely recognized and judging by the growth in popularity in his wines, more and more people are clearly enjoying Australia’s finest cool climate wines. Located on the north and west slopes of the Great Dividing Range, Orange is the highest wine region in Australia. Its altitude, cool weather and rich volcanic soils the perfect ingredients to produce elegant wines with delicacy and depth.
Mudgee (Aboriginal for ‘Nest in the Hills’) is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and the birthplace of Australian chardonnay. Slightly lower in altitude than Orange, temperatures in Mudgee are not as cold, but conditions are still ideal to create wines of great depth and character. My Wine of the Week is his Apple Tree Flat Merlot (£10 or £7.50 as part of a mixed six pack across the Apple Tree Flat Range). The rich aroma shows characters of blueberry, dark chocolate and rosemary with flavours of mulberry and black olive on the smooth palate. It ticks ALL the boxes!!
When I’m not thinking about booze, my mind tends to meander onto cycling and as the Giro d’italia (cycling’s Tour of Italy) enters it’s second week I thought it might be fun to focus on something Italian. As I write this, the Giro has just past though Campania, home to one of my all time favourite white wines, Vesevo Falanghina. It’s likely that I’ve written about this wine in the past but this only emphasizes my passion for it and the need I have to get the message across for everyone to at least try a bottle. The vineyards are situated between 450-550 metres above sea level and benefit from a cool breeze that blows off the Bay of Naples. This same breeze has, over the centuries, blown volcanic ash from Vesuvius inland, giving the soil here a volcanic character rich in minerals and trace elements. This lends a great depth of flavour to the grapes. Low temperature fermentation has retained the fresh, crisp and aromatic quality of the wine whilst still allowing its character to shine through. Perfumes of white flowers and white melon with mineral notes provide a backdrop to the full, ripe palate, and lift the finish. An elegant wine, with a lingering touch of honey.
Summer have not quite reached East Lothian but I still love this time of year mostly because it’s time to get out and enjoy the garden, scrub down the barbeque, sit back and enjoy some alfresco food and drink.
What better way to get into the groove than a lovely glass of Rosé wine. It’s not something that I tend to drink much of outside the warmer months and there’s something quintessentially summer about Rosé.
It’s funny how our taste changes with the seasons and a good thing too, life would be a bit dull if we ate and drank the same stuff all the time. We’ve been followers of Delheim wines for a few years now and enjoyed watching them improve immeasurably since discovering them at a tasting in London back in 2012. It’s a real community thing at Delheim as they look after all of their workers like members of their family – in total 13 families work and support the farm. They produce a number of lovely wine such as Chenin Blanc and Gewurztraminer but it’s the Rosé that really stands out for me. It has an elegant bright, pale crimson colour with vibrant aromas of strawberry and red cherry. Red berry fruit dominate the palate with concentrated fruit sweetness balanced by a fresh crisp acidity. Delheim Pinotage Rosé (£12) is summer in a glass even if it’s not very summery outside.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when Macallan 10yo Sherry Cask was the benchmark in Speyside whisky and one that was incredibly popular and a global powerhouse. It was a shame when they discontinued this great whisky for commercial reasons however the demand for quality aged sherry cask whisky hasn’t slipped and thankfully there are still plenty of options such as Glendronach, Dalmore and my Malt of the Month, Tamdhu 10yo. This distillery was taken over by Ian Macleod Distillers in 2011 after being mothballed in 2009 and the biggest change made by the new owners was to re-position Tamdhu as a sherried malt, with all maturation done in ex-sherry casks. With the endless supply of relatively inexpensive ex-bourbon casks flowing out of the U.S., most distilleries have turned away a bit from using ex-sherry casks, so it’s good to see a single malt brand deliberately returning to that style. The Tamdhu 10yo is their flagship/entry-level expression, with both first and second-fill sherry casks used for aging. Tamdhu and their new owners have completely nailed it with this product, they’ve given it real identity with exclusive use of sherry oak and they also deserve real credit for not trotting out a younger, non-age stated malt. Pungent sherry on the nose with orange peel, dried fruits and sticky toffee pudding. Incredible depth and sweet but not cloying. The palate then delivers orange marmalade, more dried fruits such as apricot and prune. Beautiful balance. Tamdhu 10yo – £38
Apologies to people who are tiring of hearing me bang on about how brilliant Portuguese wines are but there’s just one more I have to sneak in. I talked about the Beyra Tinto a couple of weeks ago and today I’d like to highlight their white counterpart, Beyra Branco. I’m brief summary, the vineyards sit at 700m, very close to the Spanish border and south of the Douro, Rui Madeira is single-handedly reviving a region’s reputation.
Intense fruitiness, minerality and freshness of the altitude wines. This 2012 won the Decanter World Wine Awards Trophy for Best Portuguese White under £15. The striking zesty and green-fruit character in Beyra Branco do make it an excellent and high quality introduction to Portugal for people who enjoy aromatic dry whites.
Mineral and citrus fruitiness, grapefruit, hints of nettle and white flowers, very fresh and light on the palate, revealing the altitude of the vineyards. The soul of this wine lies in the unique combination of the Síria and Fonte Cal native grape varieties, from old vines planted in granite and schist soils with quartz veins in the Douro River’s hydro-graphical basin at an average altitude of 700 metres.
Excellent as an aperitif, with appetisers, grilled fish and shellfish and to share with friends! Likewise with the Red, as I mentioned before, receive free entry to the draw to win £650 set of custom golf irons from Martin Huish at the North Berwick Pro Shop.Beyra Branco £1.50 OFF, down to £8.50
If you read these columns from time to time or if you visit the shop you’ll have a pretty good idea that we’ve got a massive soft spot for Portuguese wines.I genuinely feel that if had to drink wine from only one country for the rest of my life the answer would be simple. We introduced the Beyra Wines to the shop a good couple of years ago and they’re already developed a nice little following. From very old vineyards on the Portuguese side of the Spanish border south of the Douro at over 700m, this is out in the sticks in the extreme but Rui Madeira is injecting a new life and sense of purpose into these ancient vineyards. With careful use of many of the local varieties Rui combines his love of Ribeira del Duero wine styles with a stamp of his own sense of place. Fruity aroma with very elegant and discreet minerality. Berries and spices, fresh, with a fruity lasting finish. The soul of this wine lies in the unique combination of the Síria and Fonte Cal native grape varieties. This is an absolute winner for £10 which is what it normally is however for the next 6 weeks of so we’re running a fun promotion where every bottle purchased gets you into a draw to win a £650 set of custom Golf Irons from Martin Huish at the North Berwick Pro shop. Beya Tinto, now £8.50