Thursday, 1 September 2011

The King of Spain, Languedoc-Roussillon, Cahors and other stuff

It's been so long since my last post that I'd almost forgotten how to do it!   Where to start?  Earlier in the year I was invited by Imbibe Magasine to join a team tasting Spanish wines.  The full article can be found here.  At the tasting I met Sam Walton the Art Editor of Square Meal Publications.  He very kindly gave me this photograph of me at work at the tasting.  Sam is a great photographer as you will see in Imbibe, he manages to capture the atmosphere of the events perfectly.

More recently I was invited down to Malypere, a small village outside of Cahor to the wedding of my dear friends Jacques and Annie.  Signing copies of The Market Restaurant Cookbook on a terrace over breakfast on the day of the wedding was quite an experience.  The following day they had arranged a tasting of eau de vie at the Distillerie artisanale Jean Delpont  Jean Delpont has been in the business for more than 60 years and carefully selectsonly the best local fruits for his products.  I managed to bring back a few bottles to the delight of some of our regular customers but I'm afraid they are almost empty now!

Restaurant Supervisor Dan Melling got through to the Regional Final of the Sommellier of the Year Competition.  He had to complete a gruelling question paper and then compete in a tasting.  We were proud that he entered and got so far.  I am keen to support all staff in their aspirations, particularly when it has value to the business.  Most of the entrants were more than twice his age with lots more experience.  The breadth and depth of the knowledge required to be a Sommellier

Our August tasting featured Languedoc-Roussillon is a large and diverse wine region in the south of France, covering an area from Nimes and Montpellier in the east, arcing around the Golf of Lyon to reach as far as the Spanish border in the south.  The wines were sourced by and can be obtained from Origin Wines.

As suggested by the double-barreled name, Languedoc-Roussillon is in fact two independent wine regions, Languedoc and Roussillon, each with its own distinguishable style and character. Geography and culture separate them from one another, while commerce and wine politics have enduringly served to group them together. While Languedoc is quintessentially French in character, the strong influences of Spanish and Catalan culture are clear across Roussillon. Where Languedoc's vineyards are mostly located on coastal plains, those of Roussillon are either perched on cliff tops or nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The two regions have been treated as a single unit so often, and for such a significant period of wine history that it is now difficult to separate them from one another.
Soil types and terroir vary across the region as much as the topography, making it hard to collectively describe them. A large proportion of the land here is garrigue (the quintessential southern French landscape of dry, low-lying scrubland on limestone soils) but there are also areas of slightly higher- altitude terrain in the far south and around the Montagne Noire in the north. Overall it is a hot, dry region, with a definitively Mediterranean climate.

The region is showing significant progress in the quality of the wines that it produces. The rustic style of wines traditionally produced here was not sufficient to ensure continued commercial success. Emerging styles, innovative producers, and revived viticultural areas are now bringing fresh life to the region. 

Disastrous Brussels subsidies meant that the best hillside vines were being dug out. It had to be stopped. For as the old vines disappeared, the typically Languedocien vineyards were being submerged in a wave of standardised mediocrity which was swamping the world wine markets at the end of the last century.

The Moulin de Gassac range sprang from this battle and the partnership of two Languedoc villages, Puilacher near the river Herault, and Villeveyrac, to be found in a splendid amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean and the port of Sète. Both terroirs incarnate the character of the area, producing traditional wines drenched in the Languedoc sun.

Moulin de Gassac wines produce a symphony of aromas which reflect the individuality of the 7000 small parcels of land in which they grow. Seven thousand patches of vines loved, cultivated and fussed over by 800 vignerons ! Truly, each sip of Moulin de Gassac wine wafts the soul of an ancient civilisation to your lips !

The Revue du Vin de France - February 1997 : "Never has there been anything to match this quality at such a reasonable price. The Vins Terrasses are a world apart from soulless international wines, they truly mirror the region."


Soils:  Clay and limestone
Grape varieties: Blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Clairette.
Vinification:  100% De-stemmed - Skin maceration of all grape varieties together for 2 to 3 hours in refrigerated tank then vinification under controlled temperatures between 16°C and 21°C.
Maturing:  5 to 6 months in stainless steel tank.
Harvest:  Manual or mechanical.
Alcohol:  12.5 % Vol. Drink within a year after bottling.
Production:  80 000 Bottles.
Appearance:  Attractive clear, bright, pale gold.
Nose:  Powerful and seductive fruity expression.
Mouth:  Good acidity, lively.
Finish:  Full and fresh.


Soils:  Jurassic limestone slopes, clay and flint.
Grape varieties:  Blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Carignan, 20% Syrah.
Vinification:  100% De-stemmed. Bled after 10 to 12 hours maceration of all grape varieties.
Maturing:  5 to 6 months in stainless steel tank.
Harvest:  Manual or mechanical.
Alcohol:  12 % Vol. Drink within 12 months after bottling.
Production:  60 000 bottles.
Appearance:  Lively, vivid rose pink. Some salmon glints.
Nose:  Pleasant, intense with hints of strawberry.
Mouth:  Full and round with aromas of crushed red fruit.
Finish: Splendidly fresh and long: thoroughly “more-ish”.

Soils:  Jurassic limestone slopes; arid and dry.
Grape varieties:  A typical Méditerranéen blend : 40% Syrah, 25% Grenache, 20% de Mourvèdre et 15% Carignan.
Vinification:  100% De-stemmed. All grape varieties mixed together. Maceration 10-12 days between 26°C and 32°C. No filtration.
Maturing:  6 to 7 months in stainless steel tank.
Harvest:  Manual or mechanical.
Alcohol:  13 % Vol. Drink within 3 years after bottling.
Production:  350 000 bottles.
Appearance:  Deep, brilliant red
Nose:  Vinous, complex aromas, with hints of red berries (cherry, blackberry, and strawberry) and spice.
Mouth:  Opens soft and fruity with gentle tannins. Delicate and sophisticated.
Finish:  Long and smooth; a touch rustic reflecting its terroir.

 Corbieres is an important appelation of the Languedoc Roussillion region, Also one of the most productive, large quantities of red and rose wines, and an increasing amount of white wine from its vineyards in the south of the Languedoc.

Red wines are Corbieres' forte, and are famously rich, herb-scented wines, made from Grenache Syrah Mourvedre and Carignan. The rose wines are also well-respected, and are made from the same red varieties combined with Grenache Gris and Picpoul. White wines are also made in the area, although they make up only a few percent of the total output. They are made from a wide selection of varieties, most notably Bourboulenc Grenache Blanc Maccabeu marsanne and Roussanne.

The appellation covers a large, roughly square area 37 miles across, south and west of Narbonne. The terrain and climate, and thus the terroirs here vary considerably, from the Pyrenean foothills in the south and west, to the flatter, lower-lying areas of the coastal plain near Narbonne. Because of this the zone has been divided into various sub-appellations, known as terroirs. These sub-appellations may add their name to that of the Corbieres appellation on labels, the intention being to provide consumers with more precise information about a wine's origins.

Chateau les Ollieux Romanis Corbieres Cuvee Alice 2009

The various estates that make up Chateaux Ollieux Romanis are situated around the village of Monseret in the heart on the Boutenac region of Corbieres (also famed for its local honey) and have been owned and run by the Bories family since the mid-19th Century. The elegant chateau is so called after the local olive trees planted by Romans while the cellars date back to 1896 and are hewn from the estate's quarry. Jacqueline Bories has recently handed the reins to son Pierre who oversees the winemaking and is gradually converting the 130 hectare estate to organics. The approachable 'Alice' is a blend of 70% old-vine Carignan and 30% Grenache Noir.

A youthful dark ruby with a concentrated and powerful nose of plums, blackberries and coffee.  Round and open on the palate with fresh red fruit flavours and a pronounced minerality. The finish is short yet ripe.

Chateau de Jau, Banyuls Rimage, 'Les Clos de Paulilles' 2008 (50cl Bottle)

The vineyards of 'Les Clos de Paulilles' are part of the Chateau de Jau holdings situated at Collioure, a picturesque fishing village on the Mediterranean coast and part of France's southern most AOC. The region produces rare fortified wines packed with ripe, red fruit flavours. Mainly Grenache Noir with a touch of Carignan, Banyuls is sometimes referred to as 'the Frenchman's tawny port' being, as it is, spicy and rich with hints of moccha and green herbs. Great with chocolate or blue cheeses

A very dark ruby-red in colour. Heady aromas of cherries, raisins and stewed red fruits with a touch of spice. On the palate sweet, strong and tart with a long finish redolent with further red fruit flavours of raspberries and plums. Makes for an excellent dessert wine.

Until the next time!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Wines of Sicily

My love affair with Sicilian wines started more than 35 years ago when Sicily was known for the quantity of wines it produced.  There was certainly little of quality from Sicily available in Manchester.  Settesoli "Rosso di Menfi" was the wine selected by my dear friend Alfiero Centamore as the house wine in the much loved and much missed Coco Restaurant in Fountain Street at the back of Lewis's Department Store.  This place set the standard for Italian restaurants in Manchester and the house wine was better than the average house wines of the time!

In recent years, however, there has been something of a quality revolution in Sicily.  "It took action-men such as Diego Planeta and Count Giuseppe Tasca d'Almerita to overcome a legacy of inertia to match first native, then international, grape varieties to the true potential of the land. Regaleali's innovative Giuseppe Tasca created Rosso del Conte with the native grape nero d'avola. Diego Planeta's vision helped turn the giant co-operative Settesoli into a thriving modern business. He also introduced premium French varieties "to show the world we could compete on the international stage and to stop local people saying 'my grillo [the Marsala grape] is the best in the world'". Independent Oct 2007

Diego Planeta,  President of Settesoli  and Sicilian pioneer, has been named among the Top 10 Most Influential Italians in the wine trade in the Jan 2010  issue of Decanter Magasine A panel of distinguished experts on Italy and its wines chose him amongst other notable Italians such as Angelo Gaja and Piero Antinori.  Decanter says: “Diego Planeta has helped put Sicily on the world’s quality wine map. His family wine company led the Sicilian wine revolution, showing how a region whose annual production of grapes was the highest in Europe could improve its wines, market them with style and reach global markets… but Diego Planeta has done more than just build his family winery. In 1973, he took over the running of Cantine Settesoli and transformed it into Europe’s largest coop, with an annual output of 20m bottles… he saw a place for Sicily and its products in a larger context, and has spent his working life encouraging others to see it, too.”

Palmento by Robert Camuto  If you love wine and or travel you will find it easy to  immerse yourself in Palmento by Robert Camuto.  I bought this book as an impulse purchase over the Christmas break from Amazon and oh what a find!  Camuto takes us on an unusual tour of Sicily through the seasons meeting along the way most of the significant wine producers.  Having tasted many Sicilian wines, Camuto has convinced me to go to Sicily as soon as I am able. 

Planeta and Tasca feature heavily in Camuto's book.  "A ten minute drive up some dark country roads brought us to the gates of the house where Diego Planeta, now divorced, lived alone.  This old Planeta house - which, like much else around Menfi, had been "in the family a long time" - sat at the end of  the dirt drive shrouded by densely packed eucalyptus and palm trees.  As Santi parked his truck, we were greeted by three large, white, energetic Maremma sheepdogs.  Diego stood in his doorway -".

Inspired by a deep passion for wine, an Italian heritage, and a desire for a land somewhat wilder than his home in southern France it's a great read and if you want a glass of wine to drink whilst your reading our wine list includes a disproportionate number of Sicilian wines, from the house wines, the red a Nerrello Mascalese and the white a Catarratto (both indigenous Sicilian grapes) to a Sauvignon Blanc anda Nero D'Avola all from the Cantine Settesoli.  We also stock the luxurious Planeta Extra Virgin Olive Oil made with the Nocellara del Belice and Biancolilla olives.

I finally got the opportunity to visit Sicily last October and the vineyards of Mandrarossa and Planeta,  More of that next time and of some of the wines in Robert Camuto's book.

Until the next time!

Weekly Update

Another week has gone by at The Market Restaurant.  It was great on Tuesday to welcome Chris Davies and the folk from Astra Zenneca.  Stephen Lane from Enotria hosted the evening and the guests were entertained to a wine tour around the Piedmont region of Italy.  I've written a separate post on wine this week.

Thursday saw Vini Portugal presenting an excellent tasting at the Portugese Consulate here in Manchester.  Richard Mayson, a Mancunian (well almost if you count Ashton!), living in the delightful Derbyshire village of Ashford in the Water; winegrower in the Portalegre sub-region of the Alentejo, potentially one of the leading wine regions in Portugal due to its altitude, soils and climate and author of five books on the subject of Portugese wines including the definitive "The Wines and the Vineyards of Portugal"; presented a thought provoking selection of Portugese wines alerting his audience to the range and quality of modern winemaking in Portugal.

Richard has kindly agreed to host an evening of Portugese wines here at The Market later this year and look out for Pedra Basta 2008 one of his own wines and my favourite from the tasting.  I hope to have it on our list soon.

Thanks to Vini Portugal for a excellent event!

Thursday evening was our first "Sweet Meets" of 2011.  The Market Restaurant's own pudding club.  A small main course is followed by five full sized puddings and guests get to vote on their favourite.  Chef Dan Lovell once again was the creator of our winning pudding "lemon curd and fruit cheesecake"  and no doubt it will feature on our menu sometime soon.

On Saturday morning I found myself reviewing the papers on the Sam Walker Show on Radio Manchester apart from being required to report to the studio before 7am this was a great experience.

Until the next time!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

January Update

Chef Magazine

Congratulations to Rosie Birkett (editor) and the publishers of Chef Magazine.  Ive just received my first copy - new look, new size, new format, new title.   Great interview with Giorgio Locatelli whom I was privileged to meet some years ago in London.

Wine Flights

An interesting article on wine flights, something we are about to introduce here at The Market.  A wine flight is a way for diners to sample an assortment of different wines. With each wine designed to pair with a different course from the menu.

Restaurants in wine regions tend to offer wine flights as a way of allowing diners to sample a variety of wines from that region.

Restaurant wine flights have an added bonus of usually consisting of freshly opened bottles, since the wines offered as flights usually turn over quite quickly.

Wine flights provide smaller pours than normal, because of the amount of wine being offered. Generally a pour will be approximately 75ml, giving more than a simple tasting, but less than a full glass. Longer wine flights may give slightly less wine per pour, while shorter flights may be closer to full glasses.

Chef Magazine I'm trying to follow you on twitter @ChefMagazineUK but can't seem to find it??

The Week Ahead

Tuesday to Thursday eveings and Friday and Saturday beore 5pm we have our Two courses for £15 offer running.

Tuesday of next week we're looking forward to welcoming some wine enthusiasts from Astra Zenneca.  Stephen Lane from Enotria (one of our favourite suppliers) will be guiding the group through wines from Piemonte with a five course  supporting menu provided by Head Chef Chris Peck.  I may try to gate crash!

Just to remind me of the quality of Piemontese wines from Fontanafredda supplied by Enotria; tonight it's the Barbera 2007 Wine Spectator 90 pts.  I've had this bottle since 2008 and I have to say it was great in 2008 but it's outstanding in 2011!  Only another three left - must see what my friends Francesco and Rita think.

Thursday brings the first "Sweet Meets" of 2011 The Market Restaurant's own pudding clu.  A complimentary drink on arrival is followed by a small main course and five full sized puddings.

Unil the next time!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

We love all our guests. Some we love when they arrive and some we love when they leave!

Today's reflections on service and guest expectations.

The Market Restaurant is quirky and unusual.  The 300 year old building itself provides many challenges.  We try very hard here to exceed our guests’ expectations but we don’t always get it right. Staff are trained and empowered to take action when things go wrong. Feedback from guests is very important, however, I stress to staff that they should never take things personally and on the rare occasion that we get it wrong we do all we can to repair the situation for the guest and use it as a learning opportunity for the staff.

In a book written in 1996 by Chris Daffy “Once a Customer Always a Customer” he observes;

Satisfied Customers
  • Continue to purchase from you as long as nothing better comes along
  • Are likely to provide you with 3 to 5 referrals over their lifetime of purchasing
Dissatisfied Customers
  • Stop purchasing from you (or start looking for an alternative supplier)
  • Tell 9 to 10 people about their bad experience (2 to 3 times more than satisfied customer referrals)
  • Exaggerate bad stories
  • Tell your competition (who then spread the word to your other customers)
  • Usually don’t tell you (only about 1 in 25 causes of dissatisfaction get reported)
  • Generally don’t come back (90% never return)
Delighted Customers
  • Stay loyal to your business for life (even when there are problems)
  • Tell 17 to 20 people (about twice as many as dissatisfied customers)
  • Up to 90% become even more loyal after recovery than before the problem

The whole nature of the restaurant business is changing guests are becoming more demanding and operators are being forced into becoming more innovative with ingredients are more resourceful in trimming prices.

Most staff in this industry start off with a desire to delight the guest and quite frankly if you haven’t got that desire you won’t last long.  It is a privilege for us to share in the important moments in peoples’ lives; birthdays, the first date, engagements, Christmas, Valentines Day, Mothering Sunday, graduation, family gatherings etc.
That brings me to the hospitality industry.  I believe there are three categories of people in this industry;

1. Hospitality Professionals – those rare individuals who make hospitality their lifetime vocation (sadly in the minority in this country and rarely taken seriously). 

2. People in transition — students, actors, writers and creatives needing a job to pay the bills. 

3.  People who can’t get anything else. 

All front of house staff, however, dread the question, "So what else do you do?" Sometimes we’re not doing anything else! This is it! That question usually implies that being a waiter/ress isn’t a "real job" and that we must be doing something that’s more "worthwhile."  Whichever category there is no excuse for guests not treating them with respect.
The other day I went to collect a parcel from the Royal Mail Sorting Office on Oldham Road and whilst waiting read a notice about the Royal Mail policy of “Zero Tolerance” to staff abuse.  Similar notices are displayed in Piccadilly Station and Shude Hill Interchange.  In fact Ian Johnston Chief Constable of the British Transport Police was recently quoted as saying said: "People should be able to go to work without fear of being assaulted, spat at or abused."   Well I guess we all agree with that.
A brief search on google surprised me though because the first five result pages on verbal abuse by customers related to the NHS and brought up The Health and Safety Executive’s definition of violence at work as: - “Any incident in which an employee is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances arising out of the course of his/her employment”.  Incidents do not need to cause physical harm, and could for example include a receptionist who was verbally abused by an irate patient annoyed for waiting too long. 

It seems to me to be wrong that organisations should need policies to defend staff from customers!  Verbal and physical abuse of staff can never be justified though.  Defending and supporting staff in such circumstances is a management imperative.

Front of house staff must know their limits and must show the true picture of what they can and cannot do. Never must they give the wrong impression to guests.  As a member of the front of house team one must be sensitive and actively play a role in promoting and retaining guests and not viewed solely for attending to requests only when there is a need. FoH staff  must always be proactive and not reactive.

In a recent customer review I was described as Basil Fawlty because I attempted to support a 19 year old member of my staff in dealing with a thoroughly unpleasant customer.  As a matter of policy in over 30 years the Market Restaurant has never responded to the few negative customer reviews we have received on internet web sites until now!

This customer and his friends on the neighbouring table had purchased heavily discounted vouchers from a web based discount site. We have dealt with many such guests and the majority have been charming. Not in this case.

This customer's expectations were not met and the resulting situation was not particularly well handled. However, I don't believe that provided valid grounds for him to constantly verbally abuse staff who were trying their best to recover the situation and embarrass other guests; for no apparent reason other than to show off in front of his friends. I'm not sure if the three bottles of wine consumed by his table influenced his behaviour or not? 

There was no way to please this customer so for the benefit of the surrounding guests  I apoloised, promised to investigate and take appropriate action and invited his table of four to enjoy their meal at my expense and pay only for their drinks.  None of this was mentioned in his subsequent review.  Which he felt necessary to entitle “Basil Fawlty alive and well in Manchester”.  Quite frankly I don't know what more they expected or what he believed he achieved.  All we can do is take it on the chin. 
Until the next time!

Friday, 21 January 2011

The Wines of Chile

Every month we have a wine tasting in our Elizabeth Raffald Room (upstairs at The Market Restaurant).  It provides me with an excuse to research some wines, widen my knowledge, match them with food and experience a very pleasant evening with staff and customers as we journey through the world of wine.

It’s not pretentious as many tastings are and it is very much targeted at the amateur with great enthusiasm rather than the professional with loads of knowledge and experience. Our most recent tasting was a snap shot of Chile. 

Most people have come across Chilean wines in their local supermarket along with the concept of stack it high and sell it cheap came the Chilean Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  However, as we discovered there are some really high quality wines now coming out of Chile.  The problem is we have been conditioned by the supermarkets and many amateur wine enthusiasts are not prepared to take the risk on a Chilean wine which may retail at £10-£15 a bottle.

Vines first arrived in Chile around 500 years ago with the Spanish conquistadores, but a fashion for all things French in the late 19th century had a significant influence on the wine industry.  The result was major plantings of the Bordeaux grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

In recent years, with international investment and expertise, the industry has revolutionised with large new wineries, sophisticated technology, and large, successful brands. The country now produces some of the most keenly priced, well made varietal wines in the world.

With the Atacama Desert to the north, the Antarctic to the south, Pacific to the west and Andes to the east, this long thin country is one of the most geographically isolated in the world. This has had one major benefit; the phylloxera louse which destroyed most of the European vineyards in the late 19th century and still has the potential to cause serious problems, has never made it to Chile. In fact Chile's vineyards have managed to remain relatively disease free and are among some of the healthiest in the world. The country has developed some what of a reputation as being a grape growing paradise; perfect light, ideal climate and protection against disease.

Over the last few years Chile has been restructuring its industry to make the most of what the French call 'terroir'. This is where the ideal climate and soil type are matched to each grape variety. Look out for the wines from the Southern cooler climate area of Bío-Bío for  the more aromatic varieties such as Riesling and Gewürztraminer, or the northerly area of Casablanca where the Pacific influences give it a cool climate perfect for producing some lively, zesty Sauvignons as well as good quality Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

The largest production area is the Central Valley which encompasses areas such as the Maipo, Rapel, Curicó and Maule Valleys. This is where the majority of the red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chile's own signature grape, Carmenère, is produced. It is also worth looking out for Chilean Shiraz, which is showing a lot of promise and the San Antonio Valley, which is a relatively new but exciting area.

Despite nearly 500 years of existence, Chile's wine industry is fresh, young, and evolving to meet the needs of today's ever more demanding world markets. 

We tasted five wines, four of them were from Viña Errázuriz.  They have been producing the highest quality Chilean wines for more than 130 years.  Don Maximiano Errázuriz founded Viña Errázuriz in 1870 in the Valle de Aconcagua, 100 kms north of the capital city, Santiago. Recognizing that this valley, with its cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes, was ideal for growing grapes, Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world-class vineyard.

Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano’s descendant, Eduardo Chadwick. Eduardo is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business.  Eduardo has overseen the modernisation of the winemaking technology at this historic estate while maintaining a distinct identity for its wines. Dedicated to producing estate grown wines of superior quality, Errázuriz has built a reputation as the “Best of Chile”.

Errázuriz’s philosophy is best expressed by Don Maximiano who said, “From the best land, the best wine.” As an estate winery, Viña Errázuriz strives to produce the finest wines by controlling every stage of the winemaking process, from grape growing in the Aconcagua, Casablanca and Curicó valleys, to winemaking with the most natural techniques. An emphasis is placed on the delicate handling of the wines, with the aim of producing wines with elegance and complexity. It is his dynamism and passion for wine that has made Errázuriz such an internationally respected producer of quality wines.

The Wines

1.  Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2009/2010 Leyda Valley  13.5%
Made under the expert eye of Aurelio Montes, this is a showcase for the true character of Sauvignon Blanc. Intense aromatics and a concentrated palate of tropical and citrus fruits are the result of cool temperatures and extended ripening time for the grapes.

2.  Errazuriz Chardonnay 2009/2010 Casablanca Valley 13.5%
Cool maritime breezes allow for a gentle and prolonged ripening period that makes the valley an ideal place for growing Chardonnay. Good aromatic intensity with fresh pineapple, mandarin orange, and papaya, along with stewed pears, and toasted notes that add complexity to the wine.

3.  Errazuriz Pinot Noir 2009 Casablanca Valley 13.5%
Winemaker Francisco Baettig limits the oak ageing to just 7 months for less than half the finished wine to retain typical fresh, fruity Pinot Noir characteristics. Ripe blackberry, floral aromas and a smooth, silky mouthfeel make this an excellent partner to roast pork or fillet of salmon

4.   Errazuriz Carmenère 2009/2010 Aconcagua Valley 13.5%
Deep and lively burgundy in colour, the aromas of freshly ground black pepper and grilled red peppers complement the tobacco and chocolate notes that blend seamlessly with hints of smoky oak. On the palate, this medium-bodied wine is structured by big, mouth-filling tannins. Spicy notes linger on the palate through the long, pleasant finish.

5.   Errazuriz Merlot 2009/2010 Aconcagua 13.5%
The fruit for this wine was sourced from a range of sites across the Aconcagua Valley, where the Mediterranean climate and cold nights encourage good fruit purity. Only 50% of the wine has been aged in French oak for added complexity, while retaining fruit character.

Youthful in character with a bright crimson colour. A fruit-driven nose, with plenty of soft plum and bramble, and the merest hint of vanilla and spice from the oak, and the blend's 15% Carmenere. Equally at home with pasta in simple tomato-based sauces, as it is with red meat, grilled chops or sausages.

Next month we’re off to Bordeaux!