Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Laithwaites Experts' Choice Part 2

Hello again. Welcome to the 2nd part of the Laithwaites Experts' Choice case review. If you're not familiar with the Blog then please read my welcome notice here:  and see my other posts over on the right and down a bit!

Bit of a departure from tradition this week - 4 reds on the trot! The final 4 whites will be covered next time around. Also, only one was served blind as my memory had a slight renaissance and I remembered that there was an Italian Negroamaro in the case along with an Aussie Shiraz and Argie Malbec so I didn't think it was fair.

Anyway, enough of that, let's get on with it....

La Pompadour, Corbieres, France, 2007

A juicy Corbieres from the largest appelation in the Languedoc-Roussillon area of Southern France. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre et al. 14.5% alcohol.

The Look: Dark, almost opaque purple, lightening to a burgundy at the rim.

The Smell: The initial smell is like cherry, liquorice and cloves, not dissimilar to mulled wine. More blackberry and spice as time went on.

The Taste: Big. Cherry, blackberry, spice, something sweet like almonds or vanilla. Tannic. Oaky. Alcohol is powerful, maybe slightly overpowering. Like the smell, blackberry came out on top after a while.

The Score: Good, but not quite balanced. Alcohol a little overpowering burning the mouth slightly. 6.5/10 

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gets a reasonable VFM = 0.73.


Masseria Cavallo, Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy, 2008

A beauty from Puglia in South-East Italy. Negroamaro is known for its perfume and "earthiness", whatever that is! 13.5% alcohol. Let's see...

The Look: Quite a dark red with purple tinges. Almost completely seethrough and white at the rim so not a big one this...

The Smell: Smells beautiful. Strawberries, flowers (violets maybe?) and something savoury.

The Taste: Very smooth, smoky strawberries. Very Pinot Noir like. More spicy red berries on the finish. Went great with our Domino's Pizza and tasted great after it. Lots of fruit and tannin.

The Score: Very good. Like a good Pinot but with a difference. 7.5/10 Recommended.

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gets a pretty good VFM = 0.84, BUT, pick this one up on its own for £6.99 giving a much better value of VFM = 1.07.


Three Bridges,  Show-Reserve Shiraz, Riverina, Australia, 2007

Something potentially very special here. A show-reserve Shiraz with only 150 cases produced. From the Riverina area of New South Wales and made by Ex-Boxer Bill Calabria. 14.5 % alcohol. Let's take a look...

The Look: Super dark purple turning to violet at the rim. Opaque.

The Smell: Bluberries and menthol. Mint. I got a distinct "toothpaste" hint. Lovely.

The Taste: Bramble fruit, black plums, maybe mint or menthol. Spicy and tannic, will age well. Oaky. Ripe. Slightly overpowering alcohol not quite balanced yet. Finish is not very long.

The Score: Good, but not quite balanced. Alcohol a little overpowering and the finish is gone in 10 seconds. Needs time to develop complexity and balance out maybe? 7.5/10 Recommended - On the basis that you put this away in your cellars (or in your wardrobe like me, if you don't have one!) for a year or two and revisit it. It will probably be worthy of the 7.5 then, or better. For drinking now? Maybe not. 6.5 to 7/10 at the moment.

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gets a pretty good VFM = 0.84, but this is £10.99 separately so get it in a mixed case.


Fabre Montmayou, Malbec Gran Reserva, Argentina, 2008

Coming out of Mendoza, Argentina, this Gran Reserva has been aged in 100% French Oak barrels for 12 months. Big at 14.5%. I hope this is good...

The Look: A deep, inky, iodine-like purple. Lip, teeth and even glass-staining!

The Smell: Boosh! You get hit with blackberries, smoke, sweetness and hints of leather-jacket-smell. Intoxicating. D says "Blackberry crumble!".

The Taste: Smoky, spicy blackberries, maybe plums and cherries too. Tannic but smooth. Went great with peppered steaks and just got better as the bottle was devoured. More and more blackberry fruit developed.  If I was being very critical I'd say the acidity is still a bit harsh and needs time to mellow. This will be absolutely superb after another couple of years in the bottle.

The Score: This is very good indeed, with the potential to be amazing with time. 8/10 Recommended - now, BUT, should get even better with time!

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gets a good VFM = 0.90, but this is £12.99 separately so get it in a mixed case. Although, even for £12.99 I think this might be worth it.

So there you go. Not a bad finish to the reds of the laithwaites case - 3 recommendations. For value, get the Negroamaro on its own. For a potential great wine, get the Malbec. And if you fancy putting one away for a while to see if it gets better then maybe the Shiraz.


Next time, back to the usual 2 reds & 2 whites, from the Tesco case and after that, I'll finish up the Laithwaites case with the 4 remaining whites - all blind - (I haven't got a clue what's left in there! LOL. Should be a laugh, I'm even worse at blind-tasting whites than reds!)


Speak to you soon.






Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tesco Delicious Dozen Part 1...and semi blind tasting

Welcome to the second review. If you're not familiar with the Blog then please read my welcome notice here: 

Ok, so these were again served up blind, without me seeing the bottles. First the two reds:

Nullarbor Plain, Margaret River, Shiraz, 2008

From theMargaret river area of South Western Australia. The grapes from this wine come from 2 of the top sub-regions of Margaret River - Wilyabrup and Wallcliffe. A big one at 14.5% alcohol.

The Look: A deep red/purple, lightening at the rim.

The Smell: Nice blackberry and bluberry hints. Spice.

The Taste: Funnily enough, like a very ripe Shiraz! Plenty of plums, berries and spicy hints. Lovely. Not much tannin, one to be drunk young I think. Washes over your tongue with loads of fruit.

The Score: Good, ripe Aussie Shiraz. Well done.. 7.5/10 Recommended

VFM: at the case price of £5 a bottle it gets an excellent VFM = 1.5, but if the true bottle price of £10 is to be beleived, then it gets a reasonable VFM =  0.75. Snap it up while it's still a Fiver!


Long Country, Merlot, Chile, 2008

From the Central Valley area of Chile. Part of the Carolina Wine Brands group. 12.5% alcohol.

The Look: A mid red, very seethrough, looks fairly light. Almost white at the rim.

The Smell: Nice plummy hints. Hints of Bordeaux.

The Taste: Red berries through and through. Plummy, very slightly sour aftertaste. Light and easy, plenty of fruit.

The Score: Reasonable Merlot here. Quite run-of-the-mill but very drinkable. 6.5/10

VFM: at the case price of £5 a bottle it gets a  very good VFM = 1.3, BUT it's currently on offer for £4 giving an excellent VFM =  1.63


And now the two whites...

Long Country, Sauvignon Blanc, Chile, 2009

From the same winery as the Merlot above. 12.5% alcohol.

The Look: A pale, crisp, whitish yellow.

The Smell: Lime, citrus and grass. Familiar Sauv Blanc.

The Taste: Not much tropical fruit here, just pure steely lime acidity and minerally. Delicate. Refreshing but leaves a less pleasing finish of sourness.

The Score: We've had better examples and I was expecting more fruit from a Chilean Sauv Blanc. Mediocre but some enjoyment. 5.5/10

VFM: Good value for money at VFM=1.1, but I would recommend you looking for something else.


Les Champs Bordelais, Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux, 2007

Medal winning stuff here, from Bordeaux.

The Look: Slightly lighter than mid-yellow.

The Smell: A whiff of citrus, tropical hints and grass. Even smells "dry".

The Taste: Dry. Seriously dry. Steel. Lime. Tropical. Very zingy and refreshing but restrained fruit, only subtle hints of flavour above the zesty acidity.

The Score: Good.  7/10

VFM: at the case price of £5 a bottle it gets an excellent VFM = 1.4, but if the true bottle price of £10 is to be beleived, then it gets a reasonable VFM =  0.7. Snap it up while it's still a Fiver!

Okey doke, so there's part 1 of the tesco case done. Next time around part 2 of the Laithwaites case.



Semi-blind tasting continues...

So as I said in my previous post, I'm trying to develop my blind tasting skills. D serves them up at random, with bottles hidden from view and I have to guess at the 

  • Grape type
  • Country or Region
  • Year
  • Alcohol level

So, here are my notes, transcribed directly from my note book:

Wine #1:

Dark red/purple, lightening at the rim. Smells a bit like Cab Sauv, but no, more blueberry and blackberry. Tastes like Shiraz! Plenty of plums and ripe black/blueberries, very good. 13.5 to 14% alcohol. Not much tannin, drink young. Shiraz? Merlot caught me out last time though? 2007/2008

The guess: Need two for this. 1. Chilean Merlot 2007, 14%. 2. Very ripe Aussie shiraz 2007 14%.

The reveal: Australian Shiraz 2008! 14%. Ok so one year out and got the alcohol. Got misled by that last bloody Merlot we had. NOTE TO SELF: The glass was screaming SHIRAZ! You even wrote it down you knob!


Wine #2:

Mid red, failry light. Seethrough not opaque, white at the rim. Plummy hints. Smells like Bordeaux but not Cab Sauv. Right bank. Merlot? Very slight sour red berry aftertaste. Not as refined as Bordeaux. Slight tannin. Young, 2008. 13.5% alcohol. Chilean Merlot! Gotcha!

The guess: Chilean Merlot 2008, 13.5%

The reveal: Chilean Merlot, 2008, 12.5%!!! One percent out. 3 out of 4 ain't bad! NOTE TO SELF: Pat on the back.


Wine #3:

Pale whitish yellow. Sauv Blanc again??? YES on the smell. Limey, citrus, grass. Taste is not so much fruity, limey-steely acidity. Minerally. Young. 2008. 13%. Delicate, maybe France, but maybe Chile or NZ. Sour aftertaste. Not much class.

The guess: fruit was restrained so, French Sauv Blanc, 2008, 13%.

The reveal: Bloody Chilean Sauv Blanc! 2009 and 12.5%. NOTE TO SELF: Sauv Blanc from France is better than this!


Wine #4:

Slightly paler than mid-yellow. Could be anything. Smells a bit like Sauv Blanc! It can't be Sauv Blanc again?! Citrus, grass and tropical hints. Yes, must be Sauv Blanc! Tastes of lime, citrus, minerals. Very very dry. Seriously dry. Zingy. Refreshing. Not a fruit-bomb though, so France? Loire or Bordeaux? 12.5%. 2008

The guess: French Sauv Blanc, Bordeaux. 2008, 12.5%.

The reveal: French Sauv Blanc, 2007 and 12%. NOTE TO SELF: Nearly there, remember these smells and tastes. Smaller pat on the back!

So not too shabby, but still got a lot to learn. Looking forward to the next wines.

Speak to you soon!



Sunday, 8 August 2010

Laithwaites Experts' Choice Part 1...and (semi) blind tasting

Ok here we go...

Welcome to the first reviews. If you're not familiar with the Blog then please read my welcome notice here:

I asked D to serve these to me randomly from the Laithwaites case, labels hidden, so that I didn't have any preconceptions. Also, I want to develop my blind tasting skills as I'm still a beginner in this respect. Anyway, more on that below the reviews. First up, two reds...

Los Rosales Chapel Vineyard Merlot Reserva 2009

Grown on steep slopes in the Rapel Valley in Chile, in the tiny vineyard of an old church apparently. Cool. 14% alcohol

The Look: Very dark red with a purple tinge, almost opaque.

The Smell: Spicy blackcurrant and blackberries after a while.

The Taste: More redcurrant/red berries than the smell suggests. Quite acidic. Slight tannins present. Young. Develops well after an hour or so, open an hour before or leave your glass sit for 20mins. Then the lovely blackberry aromas and tastes take over. Went great with our Bolognese and tasted even better after it.

The Score: Not bad at all, but not mind-blowing either. 6.5/10

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gives VFM = 0.73, but the bottle price when you buy 6 separately is actually cheaper at £7.46 giving a VFM =  0.87 and better value. One to buy separately.


Pago de Cirsus Seleccion Especial, Temperanillo-Cabernet-Merlot 2006

This comes from the Navarra appellation of Spain, oak-aged and produced by Spanish movie-maker Iñaki Nuñez. 14.5% alcohol.

The Look: A deep purple, turning to a crimson red at the rim.

The Smell: Smells "warm", plenty of alcohol in this one. Spicy, plummy, blackcurrant and redcurrant.

The Taste: Very spicy, cabernet-like but with a long finish of quite sour redcurrant. You can taste the oak aging. Again this needed time to develop, After a while, strawberry jam smell was evident and the harsh, sour red finish changed to a lovely gentler raspberry. We had this with home-made sweet and sour chicken (of all things!) and it stood up well. After food the tannins were more present.

The Score: Pretty good. Needs time in glass or bottle though to get rid of the harshness. 7/10

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gives VFM = 0.78, ever so slightly more expensive when you buy 6 separately at £8.99 giving a near identical VFM.

And then two whites...


Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough NZ 2009

Made by acclaimed winemaker Gordon Russell in the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand, but with grapes sourced from Marlborough. 13.5% alcohol.

The Look: A pale watery, whitish yellow.

The Smell: Unmistakeable New World Sauv Blanc! Lime, citrus, cut grass, tropical fruit and peas in a pod. D says "Mango Yoghurt".

The Taste: Very fresh and zingy, good acidity but not mouth-puckering. Again lime, citrus and tropical fruit evident. Beautiful. Long finish.

The Score: This is great. 8.5/10 Highly Recommended. This would challenge a £22 bottle of Cloudy Bay. D loved it. I loved it.

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gives VFM = 0.95. Great Value. You can buy it in quantities of 1-bottle, 6-bottles or 12 at £8.99 giving a near identical VFM.



Domaine Dampt Vielles Vignes Petit Chablis 2008

From the Petit Chablis AOC appellation. Made by three brothers, Eric, Emmanuel and Herve Dampt. 12.5% alcohol.

The Look: A pale medium-yellow.

The Smell: Not much evident straight from the bottle. Slight smell of smoked cheese. Took on a lovely honey and peach smell after a while.

The Taste: Honey. Brandy. Peachy/apricoty taste. Quite restrained, not a fruit explosion by any means.

The Score: This was reasonably good. When I found out it was Chablis I expected a little more from it. 7/10

VFM: at the case price of £8.92 a bottle it gives VFM = 0.78. However, to purchase this separately in quantities of 6-off or 12-off it costs £11.99 giving a VFM = 0.58. One to get in a mixed case.

So there we go. First reviews done. The next four bottles will be from the Tesco case and I'll alternate it that way. Two whites and two reds each time until the cases are gone. Then I'll move on to a different vendor.


My (semi) Blind Tasting...

Ok, so I don't think I've told you yet but, my memory is appalling! Or maybe I have? :) The only thing I can remember about the contents of the Laithwaites case was an Argentinian Malbec and an Australian Shiraz so I asked D to pick the wines at random but leave these two out. I really want to develop my blind tasting skill (NB: I have no training in this apart from drinking wines!). D suggested this would be a good way and I agreed. I said I'd  have a stab at the:

  • Grape type
  • Country or Region
  • Year
  • Alcohol level

However, since I did buy the cases myself, then my sub-conscious probably knows what's in there, even if my short-term memory doesn't! Hence, it can only be termed semi-blind tasting. Being a novice, I thought this would be quite a challenge. Here's what I wrote about each wine in my note book:


Wine #1:

Dark red, purple tinge, almost opaque. Shiraz maybe? Not Shiraz from the smell. Blackcurrant and spice smell but not Cab Sauv. Blackberry. Taste is more red berries. Acidic. Young 2008. Slight tannin. About 13.5% alcohol from the stickiness. Merlot? No too dark. Stumped - can't place country or grape. If it's Chilean Merlot I'll kick myself...

The guess: None. Baffled by this. 2008 and 13.5% alcohol.

The reveal: Bloody Chilean Merlot!!! 14%. 2009. I got that it was young and alcohol to within 0.5% but not the grape or region. NOTE TO SELF: Merlot can be very dark. Go with your instincts!

Wine #2:

Deep purple, crimson rim. Smells "warm" - must be from a hot place. Spicy, plummy black/redcurrant. Big alcohol. 14%. Very spicy. Long finish. Sour redcurrant or something similar. Cabernet-like but too spicy. Blend? No, can't pick out any other varieties of grape. It's been aged so 2007? Somewhere hot...Italy? Like Cabernet but spicy...Primitivo or Montepulciano?

The guess: Italian Montepulciano, 2007 and 14% alcohol.

The reveal: Bugger. Spanish Temperanillo-Cabernet-Merlot, 2006 and 14.5% alcohol. I got that it was aged and the alcohol but dismissed a Cabernet based blend as too spicy. NOTE TO SELF: If you can taste Cabernet it probably is! Temperanillo can give a redcurrant spicyness!

Wine #3:

Very pale watery yellow. Sauv Blanc? Smells of lime, citrus and cut-grass. YES!!! Sauv Blanc! Peas. Tastes of tropical fruit, citrus and zingy lime which means new world. Very fresh acidity. Definitely not France.Young, 2008 or 2009. Quite sticky but difficult to judge whites. Between 12.5 and 13% alcohol. Not overpowered by cut grass so maybe not NZ. Chile? NZ or Chile?

The guess: Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, 2009, 13% alcohol.

The reveal: Bollocks! It's NZ Sauvignon! I got the grape and the year, and the alcohol to within 0.5% but dismissed NZ and chose Chile. NOTE TO SELF: Recognise the hints in the glass!


Wine #4:

Pale medium-yellow. Not much on the smell. Is that smoked cheese? Bloody hell, strange. Not a very distinct taste. Honey, brandy, maybe some peachy/apricotty hints. Not enough peach shcnapps for Viognier. Baffling. More limey acidity after a while. Smoothness says it could be oaked. Phoo, I'm stumped. France? Loire? No, not Sauvignon. Chardonnay blend? No, not enough fruit.

The guess: Complete wild guess: Italian Pinot Grigio. 13%. 2008.

The reveal: Uh-oh. Petit Chablis 2008, 12.5%. NOTE TO SELF: You know what Chablis tastes like, you should have got this!!!

So, overall, not bad for a novice BUT, I really should listen to my instincts and learn to recognise tastes/smells/colours that I've seen before to narrow things down. Also, more aromas and flavours develop with time so leave them for a while before making the guess!

Anyway, I look forward to (semi) blind tasting the next wines...

Speak to you soon,

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Cases ordered...

Right, choices have been made…

First up, I noticed this case at Tesco was half price; the “Delicious Dozen” ( down from £120 to £60 so that’s £5 a bottle (or effectively £5.42 a bottle if you include the £5 delivery)

Potential highlights include a 2008 Chablis, a few Savignon Blancs from Chile, South Africa and France, Viognier from the US and for the reds a Rioja Reserva (2003), Aussie Shiraz and a couple of Cabernets from South Africa and Bordeaux. I’ll look forward to tasting and reviewing these.

Also, this caught my eye from Laithwaites; the “Experts’ Choice Case” ( some of the best wines from their selection in the value category selected by no other than Christelle Guibert (Decanter Tastings Director) and Hugh Johnson (among others) in a blind tasting. This was £99.99 plus £6.99 delivery so effectively £8.92 a bottle.

I’m expecting good things from this due to the price and the professional recommendations. Potential highlights seem to be New Zeland Sauvignon Blanc, Chilean Viognier and Gewurztraminer, and for the reds a big Argentinian Malbec, Aussie Shiraz and a Negroamaro.

We’ll be cracking these open very soon so stay tuned.



Monday, 2 August 2010

Welcome! A little about me and this blog...

Welcome, and a little about me…

Welcome to my Wine Blog for the Frugal. My introduction to wine was probably 17 years or more ago, drinking Liebfraumilch, Blue Nun or Matteus Rose with my parents’ Sunday dinner. Not the best match for Roast Beef, but more on that later. In my late teens and early twenties, wine became a tool for getting drunk. It had the added bonus of being fruity and made a change from lager. It’s only recently, in the last 6 or 7 years or so, that I started to appreciate, and now love wine.

I’m an average sort of guy, 30-something (very early something though I’ll have you know), from South Wales but living in the West Midlands. I live with my Girlfriend “D” in a shared house and we’re saving for a house deposit in these crazy economic times. I went to University in Cardiff, moved away to get a job and some years later met D and settled down. I am not rich. My cellar is my wardrobe.

About the Blog

On average I spend between £5 and £10 on a bottle of wine for everyday drinking. More than £15 only gets spent for a treat or special occasions and more than £20 is either Champagne or something for a really special occasion! So this price area is really where I want to concentrate, i.e. between about £5 and £25, concentrating more on the lower end. Value for money, good quality stuff at a reasonable price is the goal.

What I can promise is that…

1. …I’ll try to keep it light hearted. “Stuffiness” and pretentiousness in the wine trade is one of the reasons why many people find it inaccessible.
2. …I won’t dismiss a £3 or £4 bottle of wine without trying it, especially if it is on sale (although supermarket “sales” often reflect the true price of a wine, they rarely make a loss)
3. …I’ll aim to give reviews of good value wine, aiming a level above the “3-for-£10” deal in the local Spar, in search of good quality-to-price ratio. I will try to avoid the major supermarket labels such as Gallo, Wolf Blass, Hardy’s, Jacob’s Creek etc. Why…?
  • Because although these are normally consistently drinkable year in, year out, they are a little unimaginative.
  • If you like, or even love wine, you’ve probably already tried them (they were more or less my first wine purchases)
  • I find them a little over-priced. For example, over £9 now for Wolf Blass Yellow Label normally, whereas they can sell it for £5 in the “sale”. It really is a £4 or £5 bottle, nothing more. However, there’s nothing wrong with them. I often receive them as Christmas presents and enjoy them. Millions of people do, they are massive sellers!
  • What I might cover though, is the more “upmarket” offerings from them such as Gallo Sonoma or Wolf Blass Gold/Brown/Black Label etc. if the price is right!
4. …I will endeavour to describe what the wine tastes and smells like (to me) in straightforward terms. If I can taste Blackberries I will say so. If I can smell tobacco I will say so. Sometimes you can’t pick out a distinctive taste or smell just hints of something quite vague, in which case I will try to do better than “fruity”! What I will not do, is say that it has “A nuance of Rose-Hip, intermingled with a spider-web of crushed almond and grated coriander leaf, with a smidgeon of wet-Golden-Retriever” because:
  • It’s utter bollocks, and
  • My nose and palate are not that good.
If D has something to say about it I’ll include that too. I might be subliminally-influenced by what I’ve read in the wine books and magazines and may start to drop clichés. The beauty of her opinion will be its untainted nature, not influenced by what words should be used when describing the smells and tastes of wines.

What I can’t promise is that…

1. …I know everything. I’m no expert; I have no formal Wine qualification. I’m just a Wine lover.
2. …you will agree with me, or that the wine will taste/smell the same for you. Everybody’s palate, nose and preferences are different.
3. …that I will refrain from swearing (expletives for the Posh) as you may have already seen – so please, if you’re easily offended then maybe this isn’t for you!
4. …I won’t be slightly biased (wine is so personal how can you not be?), but, I will be upfront about it:
  • I do favour reds (but love whites, Rosé and Champagne too) – but will try to cover a good mix
  • I buy most of my wine online as I buy by the case (I can’t be arsed to park up and carry a case back to the car) – but will try to cover a range of stores online, on the high-street and major supermarkets.
  • I’m not a massive fan of certain grape types (yet) – but will keep an open mind.

Food and Wine

The “proper” wine critics might kill me for saying this but…Wine is for drinking and better enjoyed on its own! I can hear them now…“Heretic! HERETIC! BURN him!”. Don’t get me wrong, proper food and wine pairing can enhance both the food and the wine – that is a well-known fact. However, the majority of our wine drinking occurs after food, relaxing watching the TV, or a DVD, or when with friends, or even on its own for the sake of “ooh I could do with a glass of wine right now!”. Yes, we might have a glass or two with dinner, but the bottle is finished when relaxing afterwards. One or two further bottles may follow!

D says I make cracking Bolognese, Curry, assorted Mexican dishes and a white wine/crème fraiche/bacon/mushroom pasta sauce. If the wine we had was good with one of these, or anything else we ate (e.g. takeaway pizza, Chinese, salad etc.) I will give it a passing mention. However, wine for us is an entity in itself to be savoured and not spoilt. I am no sommelier, so I am more than likely to inadvertently pair it with something that would mask the flavour. That to me would be half a bottle wasted!

Equally though, if a wine is intended to be a “food” wine, overtly tannic (that mouth-drying, lips-sticking-to-my-gums, teeth-staining feeling!), it may work better with food and I will let you know. However, If someone cares to comment in the fashion of “Dear boy, the only thing you should drink that with is braised Quail’s eggs on a bed of rocket with a raspberry Jus” they will get a curt reply – “Piss off!”. But, looking at it pragmatically, we’re not talking about the best wines in the world here on our budget, so they won’t require Michelin-starred food to “work”.

My Rating System…

I will score wines on a scale of 1 to 10, in steps of 0.5. The reason for the 0.5 is that I can envisage tasting a wine and thinking “Mmm, that was good. Better than last week’s that I rated 6/10 but not quite as good as Yesterday’s which was a 7/10”.

This is roughly how the scale translates:

1 to 2    – Faulty wine. “Off”; corked or otherwise faulty.
2.5 to 3 – Not faulty but terrible, I couldn’t finish the glass.
3.5 to 4 – Poor. I finished the glass but poured the rest of the bottle down the drain.
4.5 to 5 – Still not great but some enjoyment, would finish the bottle if nothing else was in the house.
5.5 to 6 – Now were getting there. Enjoyable, would finish the bottle but maybe try something different next time.
6.5 to 7 – Good wine. Definite enjoyment here. Would buy again if nothing better available or the price was favourable.
7.5 to 8 – Very Good wine. Really enjoyed this one. Would catch my eye and tempt me to buy it again.
8.5 to 9 – Excellent wine. Superb. I would actively seek this one out to buy again and probably pay a few extra quid to get it.
9.5        – Almost Perfect. Better than excellent. Would scrimp and save to get a bottle of this!
10         – Absolute Perfection. I can’t imagine anything better.

However, this does not tell the full story. Being budget conscious, I would also like to get some measure of the price-to-quality ratio. With this in mind I will introduce the Value for Money (VFM) ratio. So many ways of doing this came to mind but I settled on the simplest, albeit not perfect, way of doing it.

The VFM is simply; the score divided by the price.

If I spend £6 or £7 on a bottle then I expect it to be at least “Enjoyable”, hopefully “Good”, therefore giving a VFM of around 1 (A score of 6 divided by £6 = 1.0). I rarely want to pay more than £10 for a bottle and although I do not expect perfection from a £10 bottle of wine, I would hope that it would be at least “Very Good” to “Excellent”, giving a VFM of between 0.75 and 0.9. A VFM of around 1.0 is the benchmark. If a £5 wine was rated as a 10/10 then a VFM of 2.0 would be a superb score. Alternatively, if a £10 wine was only rated a 5/10 then a VFM of 0.5 would be considered fairly poor.

With prices over £10-a-bottle the scale starts to show its flaws. Consider a £20 bottle purchased for a special occasion and achieved an almost perfect score of 9.5/10; the VFM would be 0.48 – seemingly poor. Above £10, the bottle starts to become more luxury than value and hence the VFM value gets penalised. However, with very high-scoring wines, quality is the overriding factor and price starts to become immaterial. They may not be value for money in the simple VFM scale sense, but it all depends on how much you’re willing to pay for a cracking wine for a special occasion.

In all honesty, I don’t expect to see many 9.5s or 10s in our price bracket, or VFM ratios bigger than about 1.5, knowing that there are £3000+ bottles out there in the world! Also, I don’t expect to see many 2.5 to 4s as most wine is at least drinkable these days (even £2.50 Soave as I found out recently!). But, who knows what future tasting will hold?

Coming Soon

I’ve waffled on enough now and I promise some reviews are coming soon! We get through about 2 or 3 bottles a week so you should find some regular updates here. We’ve just bought mixed cases from Tesco ( and Laithwaites ( in preparation, which I will review as we get through them. Also, I may talk about other wine related stuff from time to time, for example, D and I recently put all our savings into wine investment, as complete novices. Yes, all of it (not that it was very much; well, it was to us)! I’ll let you know how we get on.

Feel free to comment. If you like what you see, say so! If you don’t, say so! Feel free to leave your own reviews also; I like to discover new wines too, especially good value ones!

Speak to you soon!