Everyone loves something a little different every now and then, and a brand that is causing a stir in the last year of so is the Spanish Rubis Chocolate Wine. I myself have heard this brand through the grapevine via Corks Out and have been desperate to see what all the fuss was about, so I promptly purchased a bottle to share with you all.
But what is it? Is it really chocolate?
Rubis defines itself as a ‘blend of fortified Tempranillo wine and premium chocolate flavour’. The Tempranillo grape, which is more commonly seen in Spanish Rioja, infuses with chocolate essence to offer an abundant of possibilities, and a surprise to the finished palate.
Rubis – 15%
A deep, dark hit of chocolate on the nose that develops into a soft velvet aroma with hints of raspberry. Soft presence on the palate with a lively beginning that soon smooths out. Light flavour of chocolate that creates a long finish with cherry flavours drying the end a little.
A rather indulgent offering here, and one that works very well being splashed over a few cubes of ice. I can see this working over chocolate based deserts as well, such is the diversity of the product. I’m yet to see this in cocktails, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it popped up soon.
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
Last week carried on something that has been proving popular in recent years – the Corks Out tasting evenings. Back with a bang at the Castlefield Rooms in Manchester, they brought along with them a host of brands in both wine, Champagne and spirits. With the promise of a wide selection from producers including Morton, Franschhoek and Cattier as well as spirits that included El Dorado rum, Hayman’s gin and Auchentoshan whisky, you’d think there would be plenty to go around. Oh no. To cap off the selection, Wrenbury cider were at the Castlefield Room’s to shed a bit of local prestige to the afternoon’s proceedings. With the Corks Out team on hand to lend their expertise to the public, an afternoon turned quickly into an evening of not only being given the chance to try bottles that ranged from £6.99 to £39.99, but also the opportunity to purchase on the night and to learn the trade by signing up to their collaboration with Manchester Wine School. With much to experience, I tried to keep to brands and styles that I had either never come across or had not previously had the chance to sample, so below I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Franschhoek Statue De Femme Sauvignon Blanc 2012, South Africa– 13.5%
Tangy tropical and citrus aromas on the nose with hints of grapefruit and pineapple present on the palate. Considerable length.
Franschhoek Vineyard Barrel Fermented Semillon 2011, South Africa – 13.5%
Ripe tropical fruit and tangy citrus on the nose entwined with vanilla and spice on the palate.
Franschhoek Stone Bridge Pinotage 2010, South Africa – 13.5%
Nose of pepper, spice and bright red berry fruit. Soft on the palate, with red fruit and slight vanilla blending on the palate.
Franschhoek The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, South Africa – 14%
Lots of dark berries on the nose with blackcurrant and dark chocolate melting on the palate.
Trivento Golden Reserve Chardonnay 2011, Argentina– 14.5%
Fresh and fruity on the nose with lots of spice lingering whilst the palate enjoys a splash of sweet tropical fruits.
Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec 2009, Argentina –14.5%
A mix of vanilla, spice and red fruit on the nose, yet soft once it reaches the palate with dark fruit to create a long finish.
Two Rivers Sauvignon Blanc 2012, New Zealand –13.5%
Lots of ripe tropical fruit on the nose and creates a fresh, long finish on the palate.
Cypress Terraces Chardonnay 2010, New Zealand – 14.1%
Soft melon and peach notes on the nose develop into more grapefruit characteristics on the palate.
Two Rivers Pinot Noir 2010, New Zealand – 13.9%
Bold aroma of spice and dried fruits on the nose leading to an herbal palate mixed with red fruit.
Cypress Terraces Syrah 2008, New Zealand – 14.2%
Strong nose of pepper to begin with a hint of plum following. A mix of chocolate and dark fruits blending on the palate.
Weemala Pinot Gris 2011, Australia
Almond and peach dominate the nose with apple making an appearance on the palate. Rather sweet but a dry finish.
Picaroon Margaret River Sauvignon / Semillon 2011, Australia– 13%
Lots of citrus and herbal aromas on the nose with a fresh hit of blackberry and lemon around the palate.
Logan Shiraz 2009, Australia
Aroma of pepper, mixed berries and plums with a full flavour hit on the palate that has a long spiced finish.
Orben Rioja 2007, Spain – 14%
On the nose there’s lots of bold plum and cherry notes mixing well with the ripe fruit on the palate and hints of spice coming through.
Pouilly Fume Domaine du Petit Soumard 2011, France– 12.5%
Strong honey note on the nose followed by a blend of apple and gooseberry on the palate.
Sancerre Charmilles 2011, France– 12.5%
Lots of citrus aromas on the nose with a sharp palate of grapefruit flavours.
Chateau du Terrefort Lescalle 2010, France – 12.5%
Blackcurrant and plums heavily present on both the nose and palate for this easy drinking wine.
Dasvin Bel Air Haut Medoc 2008, France – 12.5%
Fresh red fruit on the nose becoming mouth-watering on the palate with a good length.
Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2009, South Africa – 14%
Creamy nose with hints of almonds coming through. Lots of citrus flavours on the palate.
The Chocolate Block 2011, South Africa– 14%
Bold spice on the nose is instant with a blend of ripe plum and dark fruits blending onto the palate. Long finish.
Portia Ebeia Ribera del Duero 2010, Spain– 13%
Fresh on the nose with hints of raspberry that develops once onto the palate. Vanilla is also present as it nears the end.
Pyrat XO Rum – 40%
Tropical fruits and oranges on the nose with an instant hit of banana and sweet orange on the palate that creates a long finish.
Patron XO Cafe – 35%
Instant blend of coffee and sugar on the nose, but smooth once it hits the palate. Velvet texture that becomes long with a slight dryness at the end.
Glen Garioch Founders Reserve– 48%
A light, corn led aroma on the nose, with sweet vanilla, fresh green fruit and citrus on the palate that creates a fresh finish.
Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Classic Blend – 40%
Spice and mixed berries on the nose with a sweet yet light palate of citrus and honey.
Wild Geese Irish Whiskey Rare – 43%
Lots of floral notes with pepper and citrus also making an appearance on the nose. A rich, malt flavour on the palate with a hint of honey for a long finish.
Cava De Don Agustin Reposado – 38%
Deep nose of agave and herbs with sweet, earthy flavours present on the palate with hints of wood following.
Calvados Pere Magloire VSOP – 40%
Heavy apple aroma on the nose with a crisp, fresh flavour bursting on the palate. Well rounded.
Hayman’s Sloe Gin – 26%
Very fresh and light on the nose with a good dose of sloe berry aroma. Rather light and refreshing on the palate with a bold beginning. Mellows out rather quickly, with cinnamon and citrus the noticeable flavours.
El Dorado 5yr– 40%
Dry nose of tropical fruits leads to caramel and coconut with hints of vanilla at the end of a long offering.
El Dorado Finest Demerera 12yr – 40%
Tropical fruits on the nose with a small hint of spice lingering around. The spice is more known on the palate with rich fruits complimenting to a dry finish.
Gosling’s Family Reserve – 40%
Dried fruit and oak notes on the nose with a rich flavour of prunes and dark fruits on the palate with a hint of smokiness that creates a mellow finish.
An incredible selection that covers a host of countries including Argentina, France, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a Calvados for good measure.
The event was a great chance to not only try something different in a variety of categories, but also the opportunity to talk to both the ladies and gentleman behind the brands and Ruth Yates herself who was more than willing to chat to anyone and everyone about her favourite hobby.
Last week was the inaugural start of something that has been proving popular in recent years – the Corks Out tasting evenings. Only this time, instead of the usual Warrington and Chester locations, they’ve branched out into Manchester and brought along with them a host of brands in both wine, Champagne and spirits. With the promise of a wide selection from producers including Morton, Franschhoek and Cattier as well as spirits that included El Dorado rum, Hayman’s gin and Auchentoshan whisky, you’d think there would be plenty to go around. Oh no. To cap off the selection, both Robinson’s brewery and Wrenbury cider were at the Castlefield Room’s to shed a bit of local prestige to the afternoon’s proceedings. With the Corks Out team on hand to lend their expertise to the public, and joined by the ever popular Stevens Garnier and Wines of Portugal, an afternoon turned quickly into an evening of not only being given the chance to try bottles that ranged from £6.99 to £39.99, but also the opportunity to win a free Magnum of Champagne and to learn the trade by signing up to their collaboration with Manchester Wine School. With much to experience, I tried to keep to brands and styles that I had either never come across or had not previously had the chance to sample, so below I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Morton White Label Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand – 13.5%
Lots of passionfruit and citrus on the nose that developed into soft, well-balanced offering on the palate.
Cypress White Label Syrah 2009, New Zealand
Instant sweetness with ripe berry and plum notes on the nose. Contrasting flavours on the palate though with slow hints of chocolate and herbs.
Cypress Terraces Syrah 2008, New Zealand
Strong dark berry aromas on the nose mix well with dark chocolate and liquorice on the palate. Slight spice on the end.
Majella The Musician Cabernet Shiraz 2010, Australia – 14.5%
A blend of blackcurrant and mint on the nose that punches its way onto the palate.
Terrunyo Syrah 2007, Chile
On the nose, strong raspberries and white pepper that evolves into liquorice flavours on the palate. A dry finish.
Concha y Toro Late Harvest Dessert 2008, Chile
Fresh peach and honey notes come through on the nose, with the honey creating a light, long finish on the palate.
Steenberg Chardonnay Brut NV, South Africa – 11.5%
Fresh apples and crumble found on the nose, with a fresh, creamy palate offering with a crisp finish.
Matetic EQ Chardonnay 2009, Chile
Instant peach and honey blend well as it develops from the nose to the palate. Well-balanced and creamy.
Le Difese Tenuta San Guido (3rd Sassicaia) 2010, Italy
Dark berry aromas hit the nose instantly, with delicious spice on the palate to counter its richness.
Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand
Apricot and lime balance well on the nose, with juicy fruit and a citrus edge hitting the palate well.
Ciconia Branco Alentejo 2011, Portugal
Lots of passionfruit and melon balancing nicely on both the nose and palate.
Drink Me Tinto Niepoort 2010, Portugal
Bold dark berry fruits that dive deeper as it hits the palate to create a smooth finish.
Niepoort Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007, Portugal
Blackberries and plums blend well on the nose, becoming soft and silky once on the palate. Long finish.
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Le Paradis 2010, France – 13%
Incredible ripe green fruits on the nose that leads to a well-rounded sharp flavour on the palate.
Cotes du Rhone Rose Clos Bellane Altitude 2011, France – 12%
Peach and strawberries combine gently on the nose and becomes light and fruity upon hitting the palate.
Cattier NV Brut Champagne
Fresh white fruit of apples and pears subtly surround the nose, with a lively, fresh dose of tropical and floral flavours on the palate.
Cattier Glamour Demi Sec Rose Champagne
A blend of red berries and ripe fruit are present on the nose and palate, with a hint of sweetness to finish.
Cattier Antique Rose Champagne
Fresh and well-rounded with crisp red berries dominating both the nose and palate.
Portia Ebeia Ribera del Duero 2004, Spain
Incredibly fresh on the nose, with hints of vanilla and raspberry making its way through on the nose and palate. Enjoys a finish of sweetness.
An incredible selection that covers a host of countries including Italy, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, as well as a Portuguese port, South African sparkling wine, Chilean dessert wine and a variety of Champagnes from well-known houses. I was also lucky enough to sample the range from Robinson’s brewery as well as the El Dorado 12 and 15yr rums and Patron XO Cafe tequila. The spirits will be featured on my site in the near future as their own seperate article, as will the Robinson’s range (although you can check out previous notes on their Old Tom and ‘build a rocket boys’ offerings).
The event was a great chance to not only try something different in a variety of categories, but also the opportunity to talk to both the ladies and gentleman behind the brands and Ruth Yates herself who was more than willing to chat to anyone and everyone about her favourite hobby.
The annual Corks Out Champagne and Canapé night made its way to the prestige 3 rosette Alderley Edge Hotel & Restaurant last week accompanied by a host of well-known and famous Champagne houses to tantalize the taste buds of a bustling, and aptly named, Lauren Perrier suite.
I’m going to dive straight into the tasting notes of each Champagne I tried, with hopefully some interesting side notes on each.
Canard Duchene Cuvee Leonie NV– 12%
More than ten million bottles are ageing in the chalk cellars of Canard-Duchêne, which were dug by hand in the 19th century.
A good mix of tropical fruits and dried flowers on the nose that opens up beautifully once it hits the palate. Very fresh.
Thienot Rose – 12.5%
A favourite of Raymond Blancs restaurant – lively cherry and blackcurrant aromas swirl on the nose that develops into some fantastic flavours of red berries on the palate.
Cattier White Label Brut NV– 12.5%
Served best with white meat – fresh white fruit of apples and pears subtly surround the nose, with a lively, fresh dose of tropical and floral flavours on the palate.
Cattier Premier Cru Antique Rose NV
Perfect with fruit desserts – fresh and well-rounded with crisp red berries dominating both the nose and palate.
Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades NV – 12.5%
Found in many a Champagne bar, including The Circle 360 – very light floral notes on the nose with hints of fruit nearing the end. Creamy on the palate with a distinctive brioche flavour coming through with a long finish.
Taittinger Vintage Millésimé 2005
Floral on the nose to begin, but moves onto ripe fruit and raisin. A fresh palate dominated with caramalised fruits produces a long finish.
Ruinart Rose NV – 12.5%
Ripe cherry and red berries on the nose with a little spice at the end. Silky as it hits the palate, with fresh mint and grapefruit flavours.
Moet & Chandon Grande Vintage 2002
Toasted notes of almonds on the nose with ripe fruits following and maturing onto the palate. A complimenting mix of rhubarb, citrus and pink grapefruit go well together for a long finish.
Dom Perignon Vintage 2003 – 12.5%
Incredibly soft, sweet floral notes on the nose with a hint of spice near the end. Delicate on the palate to begin with, but develops well with a creamy texture and a slight tang finish.
Krug Grande Cuvee NV – 12%
A blend of around 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages – a mix of floral, ginger bread and citrus blend well on the nose, whilst flavours of hazelnuts, almonds and honey dominate the palate.
Bollinger Special Cuvee NV – 12.5%
A good marriage of cream and fruit on the nose, with rich peach and a subtle butter flavour on the palate that produces a long finish.
Bollinger Rose NV – 12%
A soft aroma of red fruit on the nose becomes more dominant as it reaches the palate as strawberries and raspberries stand out. Long, creamy finish.
Bollinger Grande Annee Vintage 2002 – 12%
Pears, toffee and spice are present on the nose, with a rich balance of citrus and apple on the palate.
Louis Roederer Brut Premier– 12%
Toasted almonds dominate the nose, moving to become lively yet creamy on the palate.
Louis Roederer Carte Blanche – 12%
Intense honey and ripe, sweet notes on the nose, with rich, creamy texture on the palate with apricots coming through. Long finish.
Louis Roederer Rose Vintage – 12.5%
Pairing well with a variety of food – lots of fruits on the nose, with blackberries and blueberries coming through noticeably. Rich fruit and cream blend well on the palate.
Louis Roederer Cristal Vintage 2004 – 12%
Intense white fruit and citrus hits the nose well, with a hint of sweetness nearing the end. Peach and apricot burst on the palate into a soft, silky and creamy end.
Laurent Perrier Brut – 12%
Delicate aroma of citrus on the nose, fruity and crisp on the palate with a long finish.
Laurent Perrier Vintage 2002 – 12%
Dried fruits and citrus bounce off each other on the nose, with a lively palate of lemon and dark fruit combining for a long finish.
Laurent Perrier Brut Rose– 12%
Crisp aroma of red fruits on the nose that follows onto the palate and intensifies. Lots of strawberries and blackcurrant mixing well for a rounded finish.
After having a tipple or two of the Champagne, Bob of Corks Out in Stockton Heath was on hand with some Champagne cocktails including a Bellini using Briottet Creme de Peche, a Rhubarb Royale involving Briottet Rhubarb, a French 75 with -ish Gin and the surprisingly good mixture of Martin Millers gin, Kwai Feh lychee liqueur and Champagne to create a Shanghai Fizz.
With discounts on all the Champagnes available, and even the chance to own a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Jeroboam 1995 presented in a stunning gift box, that had a price tag of £2200 for the night (a saving of £1000), there were orders flying left right and centre as I left Alderley Edge with a fair few favourites stuck in my mind (personal highlights include Dom Perignon, Cattier Glamour Rose, Laurent Perrier Vintage 2002 and Bollinger Special Cuvee).
All the above are available via the Corks Out website, with stores also across the North West.
Last week, Corks Out in Timperley hosted their monthly wine tasting, this time looking at offerings suited for the BBQ summer weather. Hosted by Karim, we were to be delving into Prosecco, three white, a rose and two reds all from various old and new world countries.
So below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –
Le Dolci Colline Prosecco, Italy – 11.5%
Very fresh, light citrus and lively on the nose that follows onto the palate. Slightly dry to begin with, but flows into a creamy texture with a long tingle of peach and grapefruit.
Nostros Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile – 13%
Rather intense and aromatic on the nose, with grapefruit dominating. A sharp beginning on the palate, with long flavours of grass and fresh green fruits mixing well. Slightly dry and acidic at the end. Goes well with salmon.
Surani Fiano 2010, Italy– 13.5%
Slow, mellow hints of apple on the nose. Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate, but evolves into a rich and slightly sweet ending that is perfect for creamy pasta dishes.
Casa de Mouraz Branco 2008, Portugal– 13.5%
On the nose there are lots of honey and sherry aromas blending well with a sweetness at the end. A bold offering of apricot on the palate that gives a long and intense ride.
Gayda Rose, France– 12.5%
Intense on the nose with lots of fresh strawberries. A mouth-watering flavour of summer fruits hits the palate that continues into a long, fresh finish.
Chateau de Fleurie 2010, France – 13%
A soft cherry and pepper nose evolves into a sharp hit on the palate, but soon softens. A long finish with a slightly dry end.
Explorer Pinot Noir 2009, Chile – 14%
Lots of cherry, chocolate and raspberry flavours on the nose, with a slight gooseberry aroma creeping in at the end. On the palate, a fresh yet heavy dose of vanilla and plum mix well in this offering that is neither short or long.
A fantastic selection was on offer to us all, with Karim explaining well the origins and back-story of each wine. His hints and tips on food pairings and his insight into the correct temperature to enjoy were well received, with many of the group purchasing bottles there and then! I myself passed on the opportunity, but for the sole reason of saving the pennies for when I attend Corks Out next big extravaganza – The Summer Tasting at the Park Royal in Warrington. There will be around 200 wines, spirits and Champagnes on show, so I’m sure to come away with something good!
Last Thursday I took part in one of Corks Out monthly wine tasting events, and this month their Timperley store focused on Austria.
Our hosts for the evening were Karim and Alan, two highly knowledgeable gentleman who would guide us through seven different Austrian wines, as well as touching on the history of the wine market in Austria.
So what makes Austrian wine so impressive? Well here’s a little background history to feast upon.
Approximately 1BC, the Romans started extensively planting grape vines after the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus lifted the ban on growing grapes north of the Alps. However soon after the fall of the Roman Empire, viticulture suffered with the invasions of Bavarians, Slavs and Avars, but from 788 the rule of Charlemagne saw considerable reconstruction of vineyards and introduction of new grape presses. In 955, Austrian viticulture was nurtured by the Church and encouraged among the populace at large.The first vineyard names recorded are Kremser Sandgrube in 1208, and Steiner Pfaffenberg in 1230, and Rudolf IV introduced the first wine tax, Ungeld, in 1359, as Vienna established itself as a centre for wine trading on the Danube.
The wine business boomed in the 16th century, but the Thirty Years War and others of the 17th century took their toll, as much due to the heavy taxation of the period as the direct disruption of war. Various drink taxes were unified in 1780, as part of a drive by Maria Theresa and Joseph II to encourage viticulture. An imperial decree of 17 August 1784 gave birth to the distinctive Austrian tradition of inns called Heurigen. Derived from the German for ‘new wine’, the decree allowed all wine makers to sell home-grown food with their wine all year round.
The 19th century saw the arrival of all sorts of biological invaders. First there was powdery mildew and downy mildew. One response to these fungal diseases from North America was the founding in 1860 of what became the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg. Then the phylloxera root aphid arrived in 1872 and wiped out most of the vineyards of central Europe. Although it took several decades for the industry to recover, it allowed lower quality grapes to be replaced with better varieties, particularly Grüner Veltliner. After World War I, Austria was the third biggest wine producer in the world, much being exported in bulk for blending with wine from Germany and other countries.
However that intensification of viticulture sowed the seeds of its own destruction. During the twentieth century Austrian wine became a high-volume, industrialised business, with much of it being sold in bulk to Germany. A run of favourable years in the early 1980s saw massive yields of wines that were light, dilute and acidic, that nobody wanted. Wine brokers discovered that these wines could be made saleable by the addition of a little diethylene glycol, more commonly found in antifreeze, which imparted sweetness and body to the wine. The adulteration was difficult to detect chemically – the ‘antifreeze scandal’ broke when one of them tried to claim for the cost of the chemical on his tax return.Although the amounts of glycol were less dangerous than the alcohol in the wine, and only a few middlemen were involved, exports collapsed and some countries banned Austrian wine altogether. Strict new regulations restricted yields among other things, most importantly, there was a massive change in the culture of wine production in Austria towards an emphasis on quality, as opposed to the low standards that permitted the scandal to happen in the first place.
The Austrian Wine Marketing Board was created in 1986 as a response to the scandal, and Austria’s membership of the European Union has prompted further revisions of her wine laws. Today Austria lies 17th in the list of wine-producing countries by volume, but the wines are now of a quality that can take on the best in the world.
So with a diverse history in wine making, how would the seven on offer to us compare? Well below I offer you my tasting notes on each –
Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel 2010
Soft, fresh and fruity on the nose with subtle peaches, stone fruits and white pepper. Short on the palate however, but a clean mix of flavours from the peaches and pepper create a refreshing and very drinkable offering with a long finish.
Gruner Veltliner Terrassen Smaragd 2009
Very sweet on the nose with bold aromas of malt, pepper and fruit. A fresh, rich and full-bodied palate with only a slight sweetness and a soft, dry finish. Would be great with a meaty fish dish.
Riesling Reid Loibenberg Smaragd 2007
Only 5 bottles available in the country, and awarded 95% in Wine Spectator. Very light with a deep aroma of citrus, pepper and honey on the nose. A smooth, well-balanced offering on the palate with white pepper and a slight tang which leads to a bone-dry finish that lingers. Very drinkable.
Little J Zweigelt 2007
On the nose it gave off rich, velvet aromas of spice fruit, a touch of oak and light cherry and raspberry fruits. A delicate flavour of cinnamon and fresh fruits on the palate, with a sharp, acidic tone which leads to a lively drinkable offering.
Blauer Zweigelt Terrassen 2009
A clean yet strong aroma of raspberry with a mix of heavy burn sugar and pear drops on the nose. Very dry on the tongue with soft fruit flavours.
Heinrich Burgenland Blaufrankisch
Lively mix of dark fruits, blackcurrant and liquorice on the nose that leads to soft, rich tanning flavours on the palate with lots of liquorice, caramel and hints of vegetable. Would go well with dark cheese, lamb or beef.
Heinrich Burgenland St. Laurent 2009
Fresh cherry, red currant and dark chocolate mix very well with violets and bitter cherry on the nose, whilst a soft palate flavour of cherries and blueberries with notes of bitter chocolate that leads to a very long finish. Serves well with lamb.
A fantastic insight into Austrian wine, something that many in our group had never experienced (myself included) and to have such a variety on offer was fantastic. Highlights include the Heinrich Burgenland St. Laurent and Gruner Veltliner Strasse Hasel whilst the chance to sample such a rarity in Riesling Reid Loibenberg Smaragd was an honour.
Next on the Corks Out event calendar will be entitled ‘Summer Classics’ where we will try fresh aromatic whites and light easy drinking reds to go with the BBQ summer!
Ruth Yates. Most of you may have never heard of Ruth before, but she has the honour of being named 16th in the inaugural list of the top 75 most influential people in wine. A rather stunning accolade to hold, but not her only achievement as her independent wine and spirits company, Corks Out, has won over 20 awards in its 9 year history (including Independent Spirit Retailer 2012 and IWC Large Independent Retailer of the Year 2011). But how has this 5 store strong merchant be so successful in these hard times that have seen others perish? Well it’s all down to community values and a good sense of family ownership. Helped out by her husband Richard, who has the clame to fame of introducing the Chilean brand Concho y Toro into the UK, Ruth is determined to stay independent and not be seen as another chain store. She chooses her locations carefully, rarely venturing outside of Cheshire, and have her wine offerings reflecting the community around them. And because Ruth is very ‘hands-on’, she is able to find out the latest trends by her number one supporters – the customers.
Not one to be working in an office every day of the week, she splits her time between all five of her stores, helping customers choose the perfect Champagne for their dinner party, or recommending a glass to sample from their innovative wine tasting machines. The tasting machines are a fantastic way to try wines that you would normally shy away from, whether it’s because it’s a name you don’t recognise, or a price that’s making you think twice. Described as a ‘wine jukebox’, each machine holds 8 wines fresh and at the correct temperature for weeks, which if you visit their Chester store, that’s 48 wines on offer at any one time! With outdoor seating at their Timperley and Alderley Edge stores and a wine garden at their Stockton Heath branch, there’s no hurry when it comes to Corks Out, and you can even pay corkage on your selected bottle and enjoy it their and then!
Corks Out also have their own dedicated online store, where Ruth’s daughter takes the reigns to offer a personal experience to those who are out of reach of the Cheshire plains. With around 2500 wines and sparkling wines available, combined with monthly deals and next day delivery service, it gives comfort to those who may have never visited a store.
And it’s not all about the wine when it comes to Corks Out either, spirits are on the rise too, with some very select products you can’t find in your local supermarket. And with staff that can tell you your cognac from your brandy, they make the experience for any customer both informative, enjoyable and most importantly – relaxing. And just like their tasting machines, there’s always something open to try! I myself have bought many a product from Corks Out, mainly from their Timperley store which opened over 4 years ago. They were in fact my first port of call for last years Christmas wine selection, with one of the store managers Karim recommending bottles of Australian Turkey Flat Rose 2011 and Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir 2009, two wines that made Matthew Jukes’ Top 100 Australian Wines of 2011. Bottles of Martin Miller gin have been bought, alongside Kings Ginger Liqueur, Goslings Rum and Licor 43, which themselves finding pride of place next to offerings of Death’s Door gin, Chase vodka and Ron Diplomatico rum.
As you may have read previously, Corks Out also host a variety of wine and spirit tasting nights at each of their stores, usually focusing on a style or country, and culminating in four big tastings, two in the summer and two in the winter which showcase around 200 different wines, champagnes and spirits! Expect to see your favourite Drinks Enthusiast at many of these in the coming year!
So if your ever around some of Cheshire’s beautiful cities, towns and villages, and you see the striking Corks Out sign flash you by, pull over and pop in for a look around. Sample a fantastic Argentian Malbec, or a sumptuous Italian Pinot, or even treat yourself to a bottle of New Zealand sparkling for your night in. Whatever your budget, whether its £5 or £100, your bound to find the right style and flavour – and with a close-knit family style team, you may even find yourself being a regular before you know it.
Last Thursday one of the most anticipated nights of my busy working year so far finally arrived – Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wine Tasting. Organised by Corks Out, the award-winning wine and spirit specialists chose the swanky 4* Park Royal Hotel near Warrington to host the next leg of Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines Roadshow.
“With over 9 million Daily Mail readers a week, Matthew has the most keenly followed wine column in the UK. He also writes a weekly piece for MoneyWeek and occasional articles for The Week and Decanter.
Matthew was made Honorary Australian of the Year in the UK in 2012 by the Australia Day Foundation. He was also voted the most influential wine writer in the UK by OLN in 2011.
He has won the highly prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year. He is the wine buyer for Bibendum Restaurant, the Masala World group of Indian Restaurants (Chutney Mary, Amaya & Veeraswamy), all in London, and the private wine club Quintessentially Wine.
He is the author of thirteen wine books and the Founder and Patron of Touch Wine & Wine Rules – raising money for homeless charities in Australia.”
So he knows a thing or two about wine, so with nearly two months in the making, and even the first to buy a ticket, I turned up with an open mind and eagerness to try all 32 offerings (including sparkling wines, dessert wines and of course red, white and rose), laid out over two long tables. A Dartington crystal red wine glass was to be our snifter for the evening, and I headed straight for number 1 in the list.
The wines were laid out in numerical order in the way that Matthew Jukes recommended them to be tried, so below I give you my tasting notes on each with its RRP.
NV Jansz, Tasmania – £15.99
Noted as a ‘party glugger’, it has citrus and sweet strawberry notes on the nose, with a balance of crisp ripe fruit and tangy acidity on the palate to create a light ending.
A distinct biscuit like nose with a fresh green fruit flavour blending well. Lots of lemon on the palate, with a good dose of digestive biscuits with a moreish effect.
2011 Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills SA – £19.99
The nose encounters fresh grass aromas with hints of apple and lime following soon after. Bold crisp acidity, yet smooth on the palate, with a slight dryness at the end.
2010 Vasse Felix Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Margaret River WA – £14.99
A great burst of green fruits on the nose including apple, lime and lemon which propels over to the palate, with the added addition of lemon grass. Theres a little sweetness as it lingers on.
2010 Hart & Hunter Oakey Creek Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £22.95
A clean, refreshing nose, with hits of lemon zest and lime. A sweet taste on the palate with a tang of the citrus creating a short offering.
2010 Tower Estate Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £18.95
A clean nose with a subtle lemongrass and apple aroma, whilst the palate enjoyed a fresh, crisp with lots of fruit flavours dancing around and a small hint of spice.
2005 McWilliam’s Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley NSW – £10
A bold acidic nose with slight notes of passionfruit slowly making an appearance. The palate has flavours of strong citrus, but softens with a waxy texture on the tongue that leads to a dry aftertaste.
2010 Yalumba Y Series Viognier, SA – £10.50
Chosen out of 4 possible Viognier candidates, it has a slight sweetness on the nose with the combination of fresh ginger and honey. The sweetness carries over to the palate, with a slight boldness of pineapple that leads to a smooth finish.
2010 Fox Gordon Princess Fiano, Adelaide Hills SA – £15.99
A ripe, bold offering of pineapple and grapefruit on the nose, with tropical fruits and peach combining well to create a sweet, smooth aftertaste with a slow dryness.
2010 Pewsey Vale Riesling, Eden Valley SA – £12.75
A slight oily scent on the nose, mixing with rich fruit. Very ripe on the palate that also has noticeable favours of lemon and lime.
2010 Skillogalee Riesling, Clare Valley SA – £18.50
Hints of garden orange on the nose that develops into more citrus flavours than orange on the palate, with a hint of blackberry. A great lingering finish.
2005 Peter Lehmann Reserve Wigan Riesling, Eden Valley SA – £18.50
Stong on the nose with lots of flavours of lime and citrus. Subtle lime on the palate however, with honey flavours combining well for an easy drinker.
2010 Chapel Hill Unwooded Chardonnay, McLaren Vale/Adelaide Hills SA – £13.99
Clean citrus, with subtle flavours of fresh grass on the nose, with a slight tangy acidic flavour on the palate.
2010 Innocent Bystander Chardonnay, Yarra Valley VIC – £13.50
A fresh note of dried grass with a slight blend of hazelnut coming through. A bold palate venture of strong lemon with a slow hint of lime freshness on the aftertaste.
Lots of delicate notes of fresh nuts, with light cloves mixing well on the nose. A very fresh enjoyment for the palate, with lots of grapefruit and lime flavours creating a slight dryness on the aftertaste. Very drinkable.
2008 Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay, Yarra Valley VIC – £25.99
Notes of oak and a small hint of vanilla on the nose, with a silky, dry mix of pear and hazelnut on the palate.
2009 Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills SA – £29.99
Butter flavours on the nose with a dominant lemon note on the palate that has a subtle oakness on the finish that follows with a slight dryness.
2011 Turkey Flat Rose, Barossa Valley SA – £12.99
On the nose there are flavours of watermelon, cherry and raspberry that combine to create a sweetness that carries over onto the palate. The cherries and raspberry dominate, with a crisp and slightly dry aftertaste.
2010 Riposte by Tim Knappstein The Dagger Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills SA – £18.50
Red meat aromas come along strong, yet smooth out over the palate with plum and dark cherry flavours combining well to create a silky offering.
2009 Devil’s Corner Pinot Noir, Tasmania – £12.99
Lots of black cherry and violet aromas on the nose. Soft cherry flavours on the palate that results in a smooth yet dry finish.
An intense sweetness of treacle and toffee on the nose with a fantastic combination of toffee and oak on the palate. Creates a long-lasting aftertaste.
There were some absolute stunners available, with the Ocean Eight Chardonnay, Yalumba Y Series Viognier, Peter Lehmann Riesling, Jim Barry Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon and Campbells Topaque being personal favourites.
Seeing and tasting only a snippet of Matthews Top 100 list, I could see why he is one of the most respected in the business. He had fantastic charisma as he twice stood at the top of the room to explain the offerings we had in our glasses, with some fascinating facts, reasonings behind particular wines, and how to enjoy others. Two hours flew by, and i just managed to try the two dessert wines before the Corks Out staff were packing away, ready for Matthew to make his way to his next roadshow destination in Scotland.
This was an amazing insight into Australian wines, and if you ever have the chance to sample or purchase any of the above bottles, I can highly recommend with confidence that you will not be disappointed.
Go on, give Australia a go.
To see more photos from the wine tasting, as well as bottle images, click here.
Corks Out in Timperley held their monthly tasting session last Thursday and with the run up to Christmas in full swing, store manager Karim Ghazanfar introduced to us all 10 sparkling wines to sample and enjoy.
So without delay, let’s crack on with the tasting notes from each wine!
Primo Prosecco – Italy
A nose of peach and apricot with floral hints lingering softly afterwards. The palate enjoys an elegant yet lively sensation to create a crisp, smooth finish. A slight dryness on the after-taste.
Hailing from the Veneto region in Northern Italy, the producer of Primo Prosecco, Cavit, has been named ‘European Producer of the Year’ twice in its history so far.
Recommended to go with smoked salmon and is a great starting Prosecco.
Prosecco Sergio – Italy
Honey and fresh apple notes mix well on the nose, both being emphasised once hitting the palate with citrus and green apples being the dominant flavours. A long finish, although slightly dry. More delicate on the taste buds due to the wine being matured more slowly.
Produced by the biggest Prosecco company, Mionetto.
Morton Mimi Sparkling Wine – New Zealand
Consisting of Hawkes Bay grapes (Pinot Noir 49%, Chardonnay 48%, Pinot Meunier 3%), a heavy sweetness on the nose with a rich yeast flavour of fresh bread being particularly dominant. It’s smooth and sweet on the palate, with the sugar masking the flavour of acidity well.
Recommended as more a celebratory sparkling wine.
Steenberg Brut – South Africa
Using 100% Chardonnay grapes, a fresh green apple aroma is dominant on the nose, with limes and soft biscuit following slowly. Flavours of rich yeast and a light, creamy yet dry rest easy on the palate.
Morton Blanc de Blanc 2000 – New Zealand
Morton’s top sparkling wine in their range and produced with 100% Chardonnay grapes), instant strawberry notes are detected on the nose whilst raisins, caramel, and toffee blend well lightly on the palate. Virtually no bubbles are present.
Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut – France
Produced using 70% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes, a rich tone of citrus and cake hit the nose in an instant, but the palate enjoys a delicate mix of green apple and fresh fruits that slowly turn into vanilla flavours. Light, fresh and crisp.
Bollinger Ayala Brut Majeur – France
Pinot Noir dominated (48% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier), with rich, fresh stewed strawberries on the nose and a slight vanilla flavour giving the palate a short, clean after-taste.
Cattier Rose Red Kiss – France
Red grape dominated (only 4% Chardonnay), peach and raspberry notes mix well with scents of biscuits to create a slightly dry, yet delicate finish on the palate with strawberry, plum and cherry flavours.
Recommended with strawberry cheesecake.
Billecart-Salmon Rose – France
Subtle fresh bread aromas combine well with ripe strawberries and raspberries on the nose, in turn creating a light, fresh palate ending with a long, dry finish.
Billecart-Salmon 2004 – France
Very fresh on the nose with a great combination of citrus and lime with a small hint of dried fruits. A light, soft and savoury mix of fruits and apple creates a long finish for a Champagne that can only get better with age.
A fantastic night resulting in a good mix of both Prosecco and Champagne, with great stories and facts from our host and a bottle of Primo Prosecco is now safely chilling in my fridge. It’s amazing what a simple tasting will do to your palate and wallet!
All 10 sparkling wines are available on the Corks Out website here.