Thursday, September 14, 2006

In Signo Sagittarii - Austrian Blaufrankisch at its best

I had a bottle of this wine last week. It was absolutely gorgeous. Deep, dark purply red with huge brambly fruit and spice on the nose. Rich and spicy and hugely satisfying. This went well with all sorts of meat dishes - steak, lamb, venison, most BBQ. It really demonstrated how wonderfully food-friendly Austrian wines can be.

If you're not familiar with Austrian red wines, you should try to find some. My favourites are the Blaufrankisch and the St. Laurent (almost a pinot noir but more consistent than pinot noir).

You also should check out the website for In Signo Leonis (Heribert Bayer), the producer of this beauty. Although the site is only in German (the English version button doesn't give you an English page sadly), it is worth ploughing through to learn about his wines.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Fabulous German Riesling Tastings coming up!

Time for a little commerical promo - On 27 Sept 06 in London and on 30 Sept 06 in Marlow, I will be leading German Riesling Terrior, Horizontal & Vertical Tastings. We’ll have 3 groups of 4 wines. The first group will range over a number of regions in Germany to show how Riesling changes with the terrior where it is grown. Then we will have a horizontal series of wines from Hermann Doennhoff (Dönnhoff) in the Nahe that are all from one vintage but of different ripeness levels. This will illustrate how different Riesling can be when at different levels of ripeness. Finally, we will finish with a vertical series of wines from Johann Josef Christoffel that are all at the same ripeness level but from different vintages to demonstrate vintage variation and how the wine matures. The wines are truly gorgeous.

If you're interested in attending one of these tastings or if you'd like to receive our full Autumn tasting announcement and periodic newsletters, please contact me -

Hope to see you at a tasting soon.

Fincas Don Martino - Find them, Drink the wines!!

It's been a long time since I've posted on this blog. Guess I haven't really commited to blogging before. BUT the wines I tasted yesterday prompted me to get going again.

Fincas Don Martino from the Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza region of Argentina are worth finding. This is a TINY (40,000 bottles/year) winery that was started in 2000 by three friends. The good news is substantial - First, their winemaker has great experience, first with the Veronelli family in Italy, then with Alto Las Hormigas in Mendoza. Second, they managed to buy a TINY plot (7 ha) of 80 year old Malbec vines that form the foundation of their wines. These vines and this winemaker produce some amazing stuff.

About 3/4 of their production is "basic" Malbec if you can call delicious, complex Malbec from old vines "basic". They use French oak "inserts" in the stainless steel tanks to provide a little bit of oak character but there is no overt "oakiness" and, in fact, the oak seem to merely tie all the elements together. There is huge, dark berry fruit and subtle exotic spices, cinnamon, clove, mace, on the nose with touches of licorice and chocolate plus all the fruit and spice on the palate. The tannins are soft and silky and the finish is deliciously long.

The balance of their production is Reserva from a selection of the best grapes of the harvest. This is aged in French barrique for 14 months but again the oak is an integrating element and doesn't invade or overpower the wine. The result is a deeper, richer, longer version of the "basic" Malbec with the addition of lovely savoury notes on the nose and the palate.

These wines are something special and worth looking for. At the moment they are only available in the US through the Southern Wine Group (and in Argentina and Brazil if you're going to be that way). They are seeking agents in the UK and I hope to help them to find one. Gotta get this wine!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

And what a meal it was!

Monday night was our first winemaker dinner. A cozy group of 15 started out with a tasting examining a few of the wines that we'll be showing on Sunday at the 2nd Independent Merchants Fair at Vinopolis. I threw in an exotic and managed to stump all the stars. It was a Le Petit Chambord 2000 Cour Cheverny which is made with the romorantin grape. There are only 42 hectares of the grape grown in the world so no one had ever had it before. It's not for everyone but I was pleased that the general concensus was that the wine was delicious.

Then on to dinner. Sonia Blech outdid herself with a marvelous meal. We started with a seafood risotto that was brimming with all manner of shellfish. The New Zealand Gravitas Sauvignon Blanc that accompanied it was a great match. Then on to the truly fabulous main course - wild boar with porcini mushrooms. This was just about the highlight for me. Lots of rich flavours and a perfect blend with the Produttori 1999 Barbaresco.

As usual Sonia's cheese course was a stunner. She had 7 or 8 different cheeses, some of each type - goat, sheep, cowsmilk, soft, hard, blue. It was a real cheesehead's delight. The il Sciorio Barbera d'Asti that was served with it was good with everything but particularly beautiful with the aged parmesan. Yummy!

Then Sonia AGAIN outdid herself with a terrific dessert combining two of my favourite foods - hazelnuts and chocolate. The Late Harvest Viognier from Rosenblum that went with it was also a hit. Got lots of orders for that.

Coffee, petits fours and a great Malaga Pedro Ximenez finished the meal. We all waddled out very, very happy.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Get hungry! Yummy food at dinner.

The winemaker dinner on 15 November will have a really delicious menu created by Sonia Blech. Here's the food and wine line-up to whet your appetite -

Seafood risotto with pine kernels and saffron
St. Arnaud “Gravitas” Sauvignon Blanc 2003 – Marlborough, New Zealand

Roast fillet of wild boar with a porcini sauce and pommes lyonnaises
Barbaresco 1996 – Produttori del Barbaresco – Piemonte, Italy

Selection of Cheeses
Barbera d’Asti “Il Sciorio” 2000 – Gozzelino – Piemonte, Italy

"Argentin" (Hazelnut and almond chocolate gâteau)
Rosenblum Cellars Ripkin Ranch Late Harvest Viognier 2001 – California, USA

Coffee & petits fours
Lopez Hermanos NV Reserva de la Familia Pedro Ximenez – Malaga, Spain

Now, doesn't that sound good??

Winemaker Dinner, 15 November 2004

It's been a long time since I've posted and I feel really guilty about it. Now I have something to promote, here I am again.

On Monday, 15 November, The Ultimate Wine Company be hosting a winemaker dinner with Aldo Vacca, managing director of Produttori del Barbaresco. The dinner will be held at 57 Pelham Street, London SW7 2NJ, and will be prepared by the award-winning chef, Sonia Blech. Tickets are £80 per person and include a pre-dinner tasting, a 4-course dinner, coffee and petits fours, with wines for each course. Space for dinner is strictly limited so reserve your place today! Contact to book a place.

If you join the Bacchus & Comus Experience (a members club run by Neville and Sonia Blech), you will receive a £15 discount on the dinner price plus lots of other benefits. Single membership is £26 per year (a bargain that you almost fully recover just with the discount on this dinner), so join today! Go to to join. You can also join by sending your cheque for £26 to Bacchus & Comus Ltd, 57 Pelham Street, London SW7 2NJ.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Wine & Food at Henley, 28 November 2004

Wowee! We're on our way. The Ultimate Wine Company Ltd will be an exhibitor at the Wine & Food at Henley Fair on Sunday, 28 November 2004.

The Fair will be held at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire from 11 am to 5 pm. Tickets are £8 if you pre-book and £10 at the door. To buy tickets email –

Our tentative tasting list will include the following wines and foods –


Chateau Bovila – southwest France, Cahors
Cahors 2001
Chateau la Colombiere – southwest France, Cotes du Frontonnais
Tradition 2001
Domaine du Crampilh– southwest France, Madiran
Cuvee Baron 1999
Chateau de Millet– Gascogne, Bas Armagnac
Armagnac 1974
Chateau de Bordes – Gascogne, Tenareze
Armagnac 1972, 1979, 1988
Cascina Ca d’Masseu – Piemonte, Italy
Barbera del Monferrato 1990
Mauro Gozzelino – Piemonte, Italy
Barbera d’Asti 1999 and Vigna Beneficio 1999
Produttori del Barbaresco – Piemonte, Italy
Barbaresco 1999 and 1996 plus Langhe Nebbiolo 2002
Rosenblum Cellars – Lodi, California
Ripken Ranch Late Harvest Viognier 2001
Terre Rouge – Sierra Foothills, California
Enigma 2001


8 year old Balsamic vinegar
Special Reserve Balsamic vinegar
Mas Portell extra virgin olive oil
Mosto Naturale extra virgin olive oil
Pons Single Estate extra virgin olive oil
Lemon olive oil
Bonito white tuna in olive oil
Atun Claro tuna in olive oil
Piquillo Peppers
Tomini ai tartufo (goats cheese with truffles)
Venison sausage
Wild Boar sausage

For more information about The Ultimate Wine Company Ltd, check out our website at or email me at

Life’s too short to drink bad wine.

Monday, July 26, 2004

What the Nose Knows

Hello World!

This is my first attempt at a blog. If you love fine wines and great food, then we'll have something to share. I've just started a small wine business in the UK, allowing me to "work" at a passion I've had for more than 30 years. It also allows me a fair bit of travel (which I also love) to find wonderful wines. And, then, since wine is made to go with food, I have to eat great foods. As they say, it's a tough job ...!!

In the food guise I've published restaurant reviews as "The Bucks Belly" while my wine persona is "The Nose Knows".

Visit our website at to see what the company is about. I'm in the process of updating the winelist and should have lots of new goodies listed by mid-August. Feel free to send me comments about the site, your wine/food loves and related topics.

In Vino Veritas!

The Bucks Belly/The Nose Knows