Two delicious whites – a Pinot Gris and White Rioja

I popped into Vagabond this week and tried a couple of delicious whites – the Bodegas Ontanon Vetiver white Rioja and the Awatere River Pinot Gris from New Zealand.


The Rioja region in Spain is of course better known for its reds. Indeed the production of whites is pretty minimal in comparison. The grape variety is Viura (known as Macabeo elsewhere in Spain) and the traditional style of white Riojas would often be extremely heavily oaked with an almost oxidised aroma to it. The Bodegas Ontanon Vetiver has none of this; it is relatively restrained and paired back for a Rioja allowing its fresh fruit characteristics to shine through. The nose is lovely and creamy due to the 6 months spent in American oak; a very well-balanced wine. The suggested food match would be a crab lasagne or paella.

tasting notes

The Rioja was good but the Awatere River Pinot Gris was fantastic. Hailing from Marlborough in New Zealand it had a luscious, apricot nose with a hint of spice. The body was full, off dry with a wonderful intensity of flavour and a very good length. It also came with the most brilliant food match suggestion – pork fillet stuffed with apricot and spinach – which I have to say, sounds like it would go perfectly. So much so that I bought a bottle (not cheap at £13.95 but worth the money I thought) and will have to imagine up said dish some time soon.

Vagabond – I’ll let you know how it goes!!

I am not a Dryathlete

Happy New Year everyone!

January probably isn’t a great month to wax lyrical about the benefits of drinking wine. Everyone has drunk far too much in December, are probably still recovering from New Years Eve and no one has any money. Not to mention the fact that this year Cancer Research have decided to exploit everyone’s hangover guilt and suggested the ‘Dryathalon’. The very word makes me shudder. 31 days of not drinking in what must be the most depressing month of the year. And since I know I need wine to get me through January and my fairly severe case of back-to-work blues I’m going to plough on through with the wine blog to make me feel better about it.

That being said, I will take notice of the fact that my bank balance is frighteningly low and so all the wines I’ve tried this week are under £6. The best thing about drinking in January is you still have all the December deals to take advantage of and a good approachable bottle needn’t cost too much.

I picked up the Tesco Cotes du Rhone this week for £4.99 and it’s not bad at all for a fiver. The only other things they had around that price were from big brands which always makes be very suspicious of the £8.99 they claim to be discounted from. It is soft, medium-bodied, with good fruit concentration and a bit of spice. It is easy going enough to enjoy by itself but we had it with a delicious spag bol made by my wonderful friend – very good January comfort food.

One of my favourite Christmas deals, and still going on, is the Rioja Reserve Vina Eguia on offer at £5.99 at Majestic. This is a really really good wine for the price. It boasts dark fruits with sweet spice, smooth tannins and a fantastic structure. This is much more of a food wine although I love Rioja and would drink it on its own without much persuasion. Fantastic with lamb chops or steak.

And finally for all you Dryalthletes out there I have bought a bottle of de-alcoholised wine!! I’ve never tried de-alcoholised wine before and do not feel the need to try it again for a long long time. This is the Torres Natureo, Torres being a brand I trust when it comes to producing consistent, quality wines I thought they would give a fair representation of the genre. The nose is pleasant and aromatic – floral with a distinctive peachiness. The palate is really not that good – none of the freshness the nose suggests, medium-dry with a grapey flavour and a sweet, confected aftertaste. It boasts half the calories of a normal glass of wine but that is a very thin silver lining.

Sorry Dryathletes. Sorry Cancer Research. There’s just too much goodness in a bottle of wine to give it up. Especially now I know what the alternative tastes like.

The French, The Spanish and the Not-So-Great Pig

Having just gone public with my blog (when I say public I mean having actually coughed up my blog address to people that actually know me) I’m feeling a modicum of pressure today. Not least because I have no doubt that any factual or grammatical errors will be repeated back to me within minutes. This is also going to be my first entirely wine-based post – yes it really has taken me 5 posts to finally get to the point…

Albariño really is a fantastic wine and we are slowly starting to see more of it available in the UK. It comes from the Rias Baixas region in Galicia and is immensely popular both locally and in the rest of Spain. As with so many other wines this goes brilliantly with the local cuisine which is seafood and shellfish. The one I’ve tried today is Sainsbury’s Albariño from their Taste the Difference range – although I bought it in Sainsbury’s Local for £8.49 it is available from bigger Sainsbury’s at £7.99 (more fool me). Pale lemon in colour this wine has an unbelievably fresh nose of lemon-sherbert, peach and stone fruits. It is medium bodied, retains the stone fruit flavour on the palate but with a much more apply character. It is given structure by it’s stoney minerality, fresh acidity and an ever so slight spritz. It is often said that Albariño is a great alternative to Chardonnay but I know that will put a lot of people off. It has more body than you’d expect for a wine with otherwise delicate flavours and is definitely one worth trying if you haven’t before.  Continue reading…