Monthly Archives: March 2016

Award-winning reds for Easter

Much like Christmas, for many of us, Easter is a time to embrace tradition when it comes to family plans, food and wine. For me that means; chocolate eggs for breakfast, shoulder of lamb for lunch and a mellow, rich glass of Gran Reserva Rioja.

Selected from exceptional vintages and aged for at least five years at the winery, these elegant and complex reds are released ready-to-drink and are the perfect accompaniment to spring lamb.

At the end of last year, a blind tasting was held with a panel of experts to discover 100 top Rioja wines within ten different categories to highlight the variety of wines produced in this region of northern Spain. The full list of wines can be found online here and below I’ve listed the top 10 scoring Gran Reservas for you to look out for ahead of the weekend.

I’ll be stocking up on the fragrant and spicy Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001, available for £17.99 when you buy a case from Majestic Wine. Alternatively, impress guests with the Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994 for an excellent value £18.99! Complex and delicious, this 22-year old bottle of wine still has amazingly fresh fruit flavours.

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Happy Easter!

Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2009
Viña Real Gran Reserva 2008
Medievo Gran Reserva 2008
Valseranno Gran Reserva 2008
Ramón Bilbao Gran Reserva 2008
Quasar Gran Reserva 2008
Contino Gran Reserva 2007
Marqués de Riscal Rioja Gran Reserva 2005
Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001
Urbina Gran Reserva Especial 1994

Having said all that, I’ve just found out that we’re having chicken for dinner this Sunday… white Rioja it is!

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Champagne isn’t just for Mother’s Day

Prosecco is still having a moment but it just doesn’t cut the mustard on Mother’s Day – nothing says ‘I love you mum’ quite like a bottle of decent champers and a bouquet of flowers, both of which were covered by me and my sister on Sunday of course!

While most bottles of Champagne are more expensive than other sparkling wines, there are some truly excellent value options out there and I’m waving the flag for making occasions out of some of the more humdrum days of the year.

It was with this in mind that I stopped past my local Co-op on a cold March evening last week and indulged in a bottle of Les Pionniers NV Champagne. At £16.99 it’s cheaper than many other branded and own label champagnes, and it came top in a Which? blind taste test just before Christmas, beating wines retailing at double the price.

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A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, this excellent value fizz has lovely fine bubbles, a distinctive rich and biscuity aroma, and delicious citrus flavours. An excellent ‘everyday’ Champagne… if only!

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