with Ted Sandbach - May 2013
The 2011 harvest in the Douro Valley in Portugal was exceptionally good and most Port houses have declared it as a vintage. Among these is Quinta de la Rosa, owned by Sophia Bergqvist who lives in East Hendred whilst not running the family business in Portugal. Quinta de la Rosa is a stunning property in one of the world 's most beautiful regions. Rugged and tranquil it can be best reached in a few hours by taking the slow train from Oporto and is a place all wines lovers should aim to visit. Sophia has cottages to rent and would always ensure that you got well looked after at the winery!! Look it up!
The legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association to the introduction of minimum pricing in Scotland has been dismissed. I am pleased at this and have to agree with Alex Neil, the Scottish Health Secretary when he says: "Minimum unit pricing will target cheap alcohol relative to strength that is favoured by hazardous and harmful drinkers and which contributes to much of the alcohol related harm we see in Scotland". In effect the introduction of this 50p a unit will mean that wine cannot be sold for less than £4.69 - almost impossible these days anyway with tax at £2.00 a bottle plus VAT - and that's before you pay for the actual wine, bottle , cap, label and consider taking a profit!!!
We have all heard about the success of sparkling wines from Sussex which regularly outperform Champagne in blind tastings but now Devon, the county of my birth, has won a bronze medal in one of Europe's top competitions with Yearlstone's Vintage 2009 sparkling wine. Roger White, the owner said: "We are delighted to have success at the first French Wine competition we have entered - especially when 2/3rds of the French entries failed to win anything". The wine is also strongly recommended by Decanter Magazine - I am not sure where it is available but I just hope it does not find its way to the supermarket shelves!! Surely a solid Devonian has more sense?
I was one of the speakers at the recent Emerging Wine Regions tasting in London. It was fascinating tasting wines from Turkey, Greece, Slovenia, Luxemberg, Macedonia and so on but every time I found something of interest it was, as yet, unavailable in the UK and I was asked to order a pallet (600 bottles). As I pointed out in my talk most UK wine merchants would rather start with 60 bottles and see how they went down - testing the market etc. What better way than to try something unusual at the Wine Cafe in Summertown where discerning wine drinkers would be the first to give an honest opinion! We await an agent brave enough to get in early, influence the wine making style and stock the better wines so they can drip feed the independents.