Monthly Archives: June 2012

Raise a glass to German Riesling

Last Wednesday the UK’s first ever Riesling Summit took place in London to celebrate a truly fabulous white grape variety.

Given the recent emphasis on lower-alcohol wines in the media, it seemed fitting to begin the day with a debate looking at Germany’s place in the lower-alcohol category. A live panel made up of Gerd Stepp (Winemaker and Industry Consultant), Helena Conibear (Director of Alcohol in Moderation), Maria Troein (Wine Intelligence), and Nicky Forrest (Managing Director of Wines of Germany UK) discussed the opportunities available for German Riesling given its capacity to produce fine naturally lower-alcohol wines (as opposed to those that have had their alcohol levels technically reduced). While it evoked some particularly strong opinions, it firmed up my view that a greater emphasis needs to be placed on German Riesling given its ability to produce such versatile white wines.

Following the debate, attendees had the chance to taste some fantastic Rieslings from Generation Riesling producers – a group made up of over 300 young German winemakers – with Jan Klein (Staffelter Hof) and Eva Fricke on hand to answer questions and talk through their wine ranges (Eva’s Lorchhäuser Seligmacher Riesling 2011 and Jan’s Kröv Letterlay Kabinett feinherb 2011 were two of my favourites from the day). On top of that was a selection of over 40 top Rieslings from Germany and around the world – Chile, Alsace, New Zealand, Washington, and Australia – to taste in the International Riesling Review.

Throughout the afternoon, various masterclasses took place with the incredibly passionate Ernie Loosen of Dr. Loosen discussing German wine and terroir, sommelier Robert Giorgione looking at German Riesling’s potential in the on-trade (bars and restaurants), and David Motion, owner of The Winery focussing on what independent merchants can do to make German Riesling stand out to UK wine drinkers.

David began with his saying, ‘dry German Riesling is the best dry white wine in the world’ and went on to show some delightful wines that are available in his shop in Maida Vale – such as the fragrant apple pie-flavoured Rauenthaler Baiken Riesling Kabinett trocken 2011 from the Rheingau – all of which have a fascinating story behind them (such as the crazy Becker brother and sister behind the wonderfully aged Wallufer Walkenberg Riesling Spätlese trocken 1992).

Being relatively new to the wine trade, the Riesling Summit was a great opportunity for me to see German Riesling in all its glory and I cannot wait for the 31 Days of German Riesling to begin tomorrow!


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Asda’s Extra Special reds

Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried several of Asda’s impressive own label red wines. Here are three of my favourites:

Extra Special Old Vine Garnacha 2011, £6.68

A little muted to begin with, this red from Cariñena in Spain developed in the glass to provide a delicious wine with concentrated fruit flavours and a savoury finish. It was a fantastic match to mum’s homemade moussaka (recipe below).

Extra Special New Zealand Pinot Noir 2010, £10.18

With complex aromas for its age, this smooth red has delicate raspberry flavours and an acidic ‘bite’ to it – an excellent value Pinot Noir that will pair well with roast pork or duck dishes.

Extra Special Primitivo, £5

This oak-aged Italian bargain, with its spicy edge and dried fruit flavours was perfect with pitta bread crisps and an artichoke and butter bean dip (courtesy of Olive magazine), followed by sirloin steak – simply seasoned and pan fried with mushrooms and a dollop of crème fraiche (the steak that is, not the wine).


Ingredients – serves 4
500g minced lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp allspice
400g tin tomatoes
1/2tsp dried oregano
1 bayleaf
1tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2tsp dried)
150ml red wine (optional)
3 large aubergines, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:
60g butter
60g plain flour
900ml milk
60g parmesan/ strong cheddar, grated
2 egg yolks
1 egg
Grated nutmeg

1. Dry fry the lamb with the chopped onion and garlic. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, herbs, tomatoes, and wine (if using). Simmer for 45 minutes
2. Meanwhile, brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and grill until golden on each side
3. To make the sauce, melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Add the milk and heat, stirring all the time, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cheese
4. Allow the sauce to cool and beat in the eggs
5. Layer up the moussaka in a lasagne dish – lamb, followed by aubergines, more lamb, and a final layer of aubergines. Pour over the sauce, sprinkle with cheese, and grate some nutmeg over the top
6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before serving with a green salad and crusty bread

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Be tempted by a sweetie

Apologies for the radio silence – it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I’ve been tasting my way through various wines for the blog (review on three delicious Asda Extra Special reds to come soon).

I’m not usually one for dessert wines (or dessert for that matter), but this delicious food and wine combination is enough to tempt even the most savoury of palates.

For just £4.79 you can get your hands on a half bottle of Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois from Sainsbury’s. Deep golden in colour with notes of quince and peaches (with cream… yum), this full bodied and luscious wine is incredible with pudding!

You just have to try it alongside this spicy mango recipe, adapted from one of BBC Good Food’s finest.

Mango and Ginger Syllabub

Ingredients – serves 4-6
400g mango flesh, cut into chunks
Thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
40g caster sugar
100ml white wine
100g mascarpone
300ml natural yoghurt
30g icing sugar
2 tsp glacé ginger pieces, for serving

1. In a saucepan, bring the ginger, caster sugar and white wine to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool
3. In a large bowl, mix the mascarpone, yoghurt and icing sugar
4. Mash 5 tbsp mango and fold into the yoghurt mixture
5. Divide the rest of the mango between 4-6 small glasses and spoon over the yoghurt mixture, then top with a few pieces of glacé ginger and chill for two hours before serving

If you’re not a fan of mango, try the rhubarb variation while it’s in season. Delicious!

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Jubilee jubilations

In true British style, on Monday we held a Jubilee party at ours with British food, Pimms and of course, English wine. Check out this spread…

It was the perfect excuse to crack open the sparkler we’d bought at Ridgeview Wine Estate last month. Made from only red grapes – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – using the traditional (aka the Champagne) method, Ridgeview Knightsbridge Blanc de Noirs is packed full of red berry and rich yeast flavours, with a mouthwatering acidity and a long finish.

Available for £24.95 from Ridgeview’s website and various retailers, it is the perfect alternative to Champagne, especially in 2012 – the year of British celebrations.

It certainly went down a treat with some cheese and pineapple (classy as ever)… Huzzah!



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