100 Incredible wines selected for pure quality and value by our Masters of Wine. Find here all our latest blog releases. Explore our products, try new recipes and discover the weird and wonderful world of wine
You may not have known that wine can be vegan, after all, it's made from grapes isn't it? But animal ingredients such as egg whites, shellfish, milk proteins and fish scales are used in 'fining' wine, ensuring the wine isn't cloudy. However, plant-based techniques such as bentonite clay and silica gel to plant casein, have replaced animal products as fining agents.
The vegan trend isn't going away. Vegan cheese shop'La Fauxmagerie' recently opened in Brixton, London. They stock vegan cheeses from around the UK. On my midweek visit, there was a constant stream of visitors, at weekends, there are lines.
Cheese, in its vegan variant, is known under several euphemisms such as 'sheese', 'chease', 'cheeze' 'tofu butter' or even 'Gary'. There have even been legal moves by the dairy industry to prevent vegan cheeseusing the same nomenclature as dairy 'cheese'. Nevertheless for simplicity's sake, I will continue to use the word cheese throughout this article.
Vegan cheeses tend to come in three main styles; made from tofu, coconut or nuts. Some of them are very good and improving all the time. But you couldn't honestly say, hand on heart, they taste like dairy cheese: they are a tasty alternative.
I served a vegan cheese board for Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine at a recent supper club I created at their house. Mr Gove, an enthusiastic foodie who is currently Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pronounced it 'not bad at all'.
Vegan cheese is obviously a good choice for lactose-intolerant people as well as those who avoid animal products. I've previously written about creating the perfect cheeseboard, and the same technique can be applied to vegan cheese boards. Add dried or fresh fruit, nuts, interesting crackers or biscuits, quince jelly or chutneys. Choose different shapes and flavours of cheese to create variety. And of course match them with vegan wines from winetrust100.co.uk.
Some vegan cheeses that I've enjoyed include the smoked cheese ball and the cashew nut spread from the Naturally Vegan Company.The truffle macadamiaround from Tyne Chease is very fresh, rich and perfumed while theirsmoked 'chease' with paprika,approximates a Bavarian style smoked cheese. Greek company Violife offers a vegan cheddar, which has that waxy mouthfeel of real cheddar, a melty/stretchy mozzarella, a vegan fetaand even a 'blu' cheese. Visiting La Fauxmagerie, I discovered some artisanal small businesses, such as Kindaco, Black Arts Vegan and I'mnutok. These companies are making very unusual cheeses, with seaweed 'veins', black pepper crusts, cheeses with spirulina blue cheese and another which was beetroot streaked. The UK is streaks ahead of the rest of the world in creating innovative vegan products.
Below I give you a very easy vegan parmesan recipe which although you can buy it, is a snap to make at home. For this you will need the vegan all purpose 'nutritional yeast' powder, which is a bit like the brewers yeast of the 1970s and has an umami cheesy kick. Sprinkle it over everything: pasta, salads, soups, stews.
Vegan wines for vegan cheese
What vegan wines to drink with this animal friendly cheeseboard? As with a normal cheese board, you start with the lightest cheese, moving onto the strongest flavours.
This South African white wine is quite a bargain, £7.25, for the quality. It's non-oaky, fruity and aromatic. I suggest Tyne Chease, an artisanal cheesemaker from the North East of England, which makes an intriguing cashew and truffle cheese match.
Stone fruit, flinty acidity and minerality, this Northern Italian white wine, £16, goes well with goat's cheese or feta. Amazingly there is vegan feta: Violife makes a 'Greek white block'which could be used in a Greek salad. A lovely lunchtime drink in summer.
A vegan rosé from the Pays D'Oc in the south of France, matched with a French style goat's cheese salad. I've yet to try this cheese, but Urban Cheesecraft sell a vegan paleo dairy-free goat's cheese. Make a green salad, add walnuts and melt a little goat's cheese on top with a mustardy vinaigrette.
A classic Valpolicella for £15.50. This deep full bodied black fruity wine could stand up to some of the smoked cheeses available in the vegan range such as Naturally Vegan cheeze balls. They could be eaten with crackers and dried fruit or in melty slices in a veggie burger.
A Spanish red, smooth and blackcurranty, with a creatively surreal label. Match with a salad of slices of sweet sour orange, olive oil, salt and pepper, plus griddled vegan halloumi known as 'vegeloumi'.
A Spanish Rioja, 2014, £11.95, aged in French and American oak barrels, is right up my street in terms of wine. A vegan cheeseboard with cheddar, nuts and dried fruits to finish, after a long boozy plant-based meal would be my suggestion.
Down under, our winter is their summer holidays. Australians are legendary for celebrating Christmas on the beach; South Africa is even further south than Australia, and often Christmas Day dinner will be around a braai, the Afrikaans name for a barbecue. I'm a huge fan of South African wines and have recently discovered Creation wines, in Hermanus, further east than Stellenbosch, the most famous wine producing area.
Creation wines are also a big favourite with Winetrust100.co.uk. The vineyard is owned and run by a Swiss and South African couple, Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin, since 2002. The wines created from their vineyards are starting to bear fruit.
They make single grape wines, suited to the cooler area of Hermanus, near the Indian Ocean.
£16.50 2016 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Creation wines, South Africa. This is a classic Bordeaux style blend, 'sauv/sem' they call it. Sauvignon provides all the top notes, the fruit and the acidity while Semillon lends structure and butteriness to the mouthfeel. Think lemon and a little oak. This goes well with seafood, fish and chips, bbq food, and perhaps a creamy chanterelle pasta. Coming from an Italian family I like to have a small pasta course, a 'primi', for Christmas dinner.
£20 2016 Syrah/Grenache, Creation Wines. This intense blend, reminiscent of the Rhone, is perfectly designed to match the main course, whether it be beef or lamb or a vegetarian dish such as a nut loaf.
£19.50 2017 Pinot Noir, Creation Wines. Violets, spice and light tannins make this a great match with chicken or Turkey. For vegetarians, an aubergine and feta stuffed pumpkin or butternut squash.
£34.00 2016 Reserve Pinot Noir, Creation Wines. The most expensive of Creation's still wines, but if you can't splash out on a decent bottle at Christmas, when are you going to do it? I'd say this for the glorious cheese board, resplendant with figs, grapes, quince jelly and biscuits.
Braised Brussels Sprouts recipe
There are many different ways to cook sprouts, my favourite method is braising, that is par-boiling in salty water for five minutes then transferring them into a frying pan to sauté. This recipe is so delicious that I must confess to scoffing the lot, by myself, in one sitting. I do like to combine Brussels sprouts with some kind of nut, whether chestnuts, pine nuts or pistachios. Nuts add a creamy earthiness that works well with the sulphurously sweet green of sprouts.
£16.50 2016 Chardonnay, Creation Wines. This fruit-driven Chardonnay would provide a wonderful foil for Brussels sprouts.
500g brussels sprouts, trimmed
1tsp sea salt
40ml extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Half a glass of white wine
A handful of pistachio nibs
Zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan on a medium heat, cover the Brussels Sprouts with boiling water and sea salt.
Boil for five minutes only then strain. Prepare a frying pan, on a low to medium heat. Tip in the sprouts, then add the garlic. Stir for a few minutes then add the wine.
Sauté for a few minutes, then add the pistachio nibs. Finally add the lemon zest and season to taste.
Can be prepared in advance and covered with foil or reheated. But this dish is at its best served hot immediately.
What wines do you like to drink on Christmas Day? Do you buy more expensive wines? Do you go for old favourites and like to try new wines? Do let us know below in the comments. And if you've tried any of our Creation wines selection, what did you think of it?
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To be paired with Creation Syrah GrenacheIngredients
1 side of a pork belly
zataar spice (a blend of dried oregano, cumin, salt and dried marjoram)
1 pk green beans
1 red pepper
500 g sweet potato
Place one side of a pork belly in a deep tray with water, bay leaf and thyme.
Cook for approximately 4 hours at 120° C.
Slice 2 apples in wedges.
Sauté with zatar spice, butter and salt.
Green bean and red pepper salsa
Dice 1 packet green beans and 1 red pepper.
Add salt and olive oil to taste.
Sweet potato purée
Peel and dice 500 g sweet potato.
Roast in the oven till soft.
Add cream, salt and butter to taste and blend till smooth.
Dice 1 packet green beans and 1 red pepper.
Add salt and olive oil to taste.
Plate as desired and enjoy.
My sons Rory and Ewan don’t live at home any more, but we meet about once a week, usually either at my house or their dad’s. Yes, a little unusual, but since our divorce my ex and I have been keen to stay friends and enjoy fairly regular family meals with our boys. Good food and drink was always important in our house (both sons are now working as chefs in London – Rory at Moro and Ewan at the Laughing Heart), and it’s a joy to continue sharing those pleasures. What’s especially delicious is when one of them cooks. I love it when I’ve started the food prep and then a son swings in and says, ‘Oh Mum, just relax and fix the drinks – I’ll take over now.’ I don’t have to be told twice.
I used to be a red-only girl in my youth, but over the years I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to better quality whites, and am now at the point where I’ll usually favour a white over a red, particularly to kick off a meal. At the beginning of my relationship with white wine, I was a massive fan of sauvignon blanc, particularly from New Zealand. I must have overdone it because now I can’t stand the stuff – even the smell turns my stomach – and have reached the point of requesting people not to bring it to my house. I’ve even put my friend Alison off it!
The phrase blithely uttered from so many mouths when a glass of wine is ordered, ‘ABC – anything but chardonnay’, drives me quite mad. One of my friends came out with it recently in a wine bar. I asked her if she would like a Chablis instead… yes, she replied, that would be fine. Well, I didn’t exactly wipe the floor with her, but gently explained that in fact Chablis is made from the chardonnay grape, and is a far cry from the leaden, oaky, headache-inducing stuff from the New World.
It was a lightbulb moment for her when she realised this, and now she’s an out and proud chardonnay drinker (and hopefully spreading the good news to others).
Both sons prefer red wine over white or rosé (mind you, I’ve yet to witness them pass up a glass of champagne). And of course, in the absence of any red, they would somehow manage to get a white over their throats.
The good news is that through working in quality restaurants they are exposed to good wines, and so both of them are slowly, slowly beginning to appreciate bottles of a different hue from red. Over the past few (hot) weeks they’ve enjoyed 2015 The Foundry Grenache Blanc (£14), a full-bodied, rich and creamy (but not too forceful) white from Stellenbosch.
The boys’ dad is a big Riesling fan so they’ve tried a few over the years and were very complimentary about 2015 Fritz’s Riesling, Gunderloch (£10). Fresh and citrusy, they declared, and both agreed that it would pair well with spicy snacks.
I kept as a birthday treat for Rory a bottle of 2014 Sonoma County Seghesio Zinfandel (£23). It’s a biggie – 15 percent – and right up my boys’ alley: juicy, dark and fruity. Full-bodied with lots of elegance, it ticked their boxes big-time.
The history of Sicily, due to its location at a naval crossroads in the mediterranean, encompasses every empire and colonising urge, from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, British and now the Italians.
‘We were the bread basket of the empire,’ explained bitterly one wine family scion, Vito Planeta.
On this trip, I was with 85 journalists from all over the world, the majority of whom were wine experts. Some had very specific interests: one international journalist only covered Italian wine, no other region. Very few came from the UK:
The winemakers were all delightful: warm, friendly, generous, happy to share their knowledge. As were the sommeliers from the Associazione Italiana Somelier, impressively dressed in black frock coats, white shirt and black bow tie, with silver ‘tastevin’ or tasting cup hanging down on a heavy metal rather ‘mayoral’ chain. They guided my tasting choices and I got to taste some truly incredible wines.
En primeur means ‘at the beginning’. You taste very good but very young wines and the idea is to predict how good they will be in a few years time. It’s the wine version of a ‘futures’ market.
It was only around 35 years ago that a new wave of winemakers and cantines started to improve and produce fine wines in Sicily. The wine industry, as in much of Europe, was devastated by the phylloxera wipe-out in the mid-19th century. From that era until the 1980s/90s, the regional wines were either ordinary table wines or had been used to bulk out mainland Italian wines.
In the old days Grillo wine used to be be yellow, oxidised and full-bodied: winemakers struggled to control the fermentation. But now Grillo is growing in popularity as a dry white wine.
This winery also benefits from a beautiful shop, restaurant (incredible olive oil) and cellar while boasting one of the few female winemakers in Sicily, Maria Carella.
I tried Etna Rosato ’17, Etna Bianco ’16 (sour apple, crisp, stainless steel tank), Rovitello Etna Rosso ’16 (raspberries and vanilla yoghurt), Serra della Contessa Etna Rosso ’12 (gravelly, tannins), Rivottello Etna Rosso ’14 (cherry, field blend, grown at 500m).
Our group then took a hovercraft boat to the islands, stopping off at Stromboli and the marvellously named Vulcano, which, even at the docks, smelled strongly of the sulphuric fumes from the volcano and onto the dreamy and fragrant island of Salina.
Salina is the greenest of the volcanic islands around Sicily. I stayed at the 5 star hotel, Tenuta Capofaro owned by the Tasca wine family. The view from my room was magical: I had a lighthouse in my front garden, which was lit at night, strobing the sea, Stromboli puffing away a few miles in the distance.
For the second half of the trip, we stayed in Palermo, at The Centrale Palace, all pink marble floors and a wonderful roof terrace. We were taken to restaurants, there were dinners, walking tours, masterclasses in wine and a conference.
‘What is your most expensive wine?’
Vito Planeta, the eldest son in the Planeta family. His younger brother Alessio is in charge of the wine, while Vito makes money playing online poker for large stakes. Vito is one of those people who knows everything: from Roman history to how to use different aubergines to Corbynista politics. I thought he was pretty fanciable and wouldn’t it be fantastic to have Planeta as a surname! (Practise scribbling Mrs Kerstin Planeta…)
‘It’s Sicily,’ he shrugged. ‘Forty years ago we were the capital of the mafia, now we are the capital of food and wine.’
Jealous? Intrigued? Want to book a flight right now? I don’t blame you. But you can get a hint of what I experienced on my trip by ordering Winetrust’s Sicilian selection:
They say love is at the root of everything and nowhere is that more true than with the story of Creation Wines and the people behind the brand - husband and wife team Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin. The success story is seated not just in their love for each other, but in their love of wine and the wine industry.
Together they have created a winery from scratch; from buying land on a lofty ridge in South Africa, just 9km from the Atlantic Ocean, to planting vines, building a cellar and tasting room and developing their wine style. Now, 16 years after they began their labour of love, there are 14 different Creation Wines in the portfolio and many awards under their belt. Creation Wines is well and truly a success.
Jean-Claude (JC) was 14 when he worked his first harvest on his family’s vineyards on the banks of Lake Bienne in Switzerland. Carolyn - who had developed a career in design and marketing - has her own wine lineage. She was born and bred in the Cape Winelands, a member of the pioneering wine family Finlayson. When they married in 1999 JC and Carolyn lived in Switzerland but a visit to South Africa in 2002 changed everything. Carolyn explains: “We visited Hermanus and stayed with my uncle Peter Finlayson, who showed us the land. Peter was the first winemaker to plant chardonnay and pinot noir in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. JC comes from three generations of winemaking in Switzerland also specialising in chardonnay and pinot noir.”
Because of that background, JC was drawn by the prospect of growing quality grapes at 300m above sea level. The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is within the Walker Bay region, a maritime-influenced district known for elegant chardonnay and pinot noir wine.
Together - and with the help of family - the Martins decided to establish the winery on virgin land, with no infrastructure. It was certainly a challenge which has paid off.
Carolyn explains the essence of their name: “The name Creation is not only a tribute to the riches Mother Nature has bestowed upon our farm, it is also a reference to the soils which had never been planted to vine before, and last, but not least, it is a promise of constant renewal. “There are few places in the world where one can plant such a variety of cultivars and that is due to our cool climate at Creation. We can prune and harvest these cultivars in a relaxed way without extreme weather conditions.” JC’s winemaking philosophy is based on “enhancing the beauty of nature”. He says: “When you are harvesting top quality fruit it is not necessary to manipulate the wine. Rather guide it gently through the winemaking process so as to preserve the sense of place. "Winemaking is a delicate art requiring restraint to capture the inherent nuances.”
When I told a handful of wine chums that I was reviewing Creation Wines, the view from all quarters was “amazing wines”. I have to agree.
Here’s my thoughts on eight Creation Wines. I also asked Carolyn, who has pioneered wine and food pairing options for visitors to their estate, for her reflections on each wine.
Creation Wines Viognier 2017 (£14.50)
Ah, this is creme fraiche with an excitement of peach and apricot. The stone fruit aromas are so enticing; fresh, fresh, fresh as if there’s a bowl of newly-picked golden fruits right in front of you. There’s a frisson of spice - perhaps a dash of five-spice - which tickles the senses. The palate is inviting, as those same fresh fruits add more layers to your enjoyment. They’re not all encompassing but elegant and totally in balance with a good acidity. Together they create a delicious integrated wine with a flavour which persists..
Carolyn says: Very beautiful aromatics of white peaches and cream, delicious natural acidity and a great apero wine as well as perfect with Asian food with a little spice.
Creation Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (£15.50)
This wine has a fleck of green within its lemony depths and a nose dip brings a flash of hedgerow and grass. It’s keen and bright, like a wet hedgerow, glistening and fresh on a spring morning within a snap of sharp, flinty spring sunlight. But what’s this? Ah yes, succulent and juicy tropical passion fruit adds a richness on the nose. The palate is balanced by crisp citrus and tropical notes, with a vibrant acidity and a long fruity finish.
Carolyn says: Fab with sushi and sashimi as it is grown on clay. It has a good mid palate and can withstand soya, ginger and wasabi. In fact, a beautiful pairing with these foods.
Creation Wines Sauvignon Blanc | Semillon 2016 (£16.50)
There’s a subtle caress of vanilla on this wine’s aroma, but it is the fruit that makes a statement. Sauvignon blanc and semillon is a traditional Bordeaux blend and here the fruit opens up in layers, with ripe tropical fruit leading from the front. Citrus is persistent, giddy and excitable in the background. There’s a sense of place, of elegance, of an understated “knowing” richness which comes from 30% new oak and some lees contact. Oh, hang on, I’ve just picked up a twist of lime and a dash of salt - it’s certainly a wine of contrasts.
Carolyn says: It has all the aromatics of SB and then some fresh Atlantic seabreeze characteristics from Semillon. Great with seafood and oysters, asparagus, artichokes.
Creation Wines Chardonnay 2017 (£19.50)
This is a perfection of chardonnay with limited new oak which has taken on the soul of lightly toasted pineapple, butter and vanilla. It has been created with a delicacy of touch which encourages those oaky nuances to sing, but a chorus line of zingy citrus and ripe notes of quince and pear are in fuller voice on the palate and combine in unison. The acidity hits the perfect pitch and together this is a wine in perfect harmony.
Carolyn says: Fresh notes and characteristics of the superb quality of the grapes. Fab food pairing wine, the queen of whites, very elegant.
Creation Wines Syrah | Grenache 2016 (£20)
This is a deep, deep red colour but not quite full-bodied as I can just about see the base of the glass when I look down into the wine. The aromas are potent. I’m sitting here now, the glass is over there and I’m over here (trust me) and the fruit cloud of blackberry and plum are reaching me. A nose-dip into the glass reveals a sweeter vein of strawberry and a veritable spark of pepper. Black olives weave their way into this aroma bomb, together with herbs (perhaps a flirt with mint). In the mouth the pepper dazzles, the fruit plays its part, the tannins are integrated and the acidity is cleansing.
Carolyn says: A perfect match of two cultivars for me the yin and yang of blends. The cool climate produces aromatic wine with lovely, fruit, spice and umami. Since the wine has a good natural acidity it is a great food wine.
Creation Wines Pinot Noir 2017 (£22)
Raspberry is ripe in this glass of pinot noir, with black pepper spice tingling and tempting. The fruit aromas cradle a gentler note of violets and redcurrant, with just a nod to something earthier. This isn’t a pinot noir which is shy and retiring, it is a pinot noir which is proud, fruitily fulsome and confident but still retains the essence of an elegant pinot noir. In the mouth, the wine is as silky and velvety as a puppy’s ear (if you know what I mean) with soft tannins and red fruit flavours and spice. Those notes are decidedly determined to stay as a memory long after your last sip.
Carolyn says: A cooler growing season with little rainfall, this resulted in a longer hang time between flowering and picking. It gave us very elegant flavour profiles/acidity and is a beautifully balanced product.
Creation Wines Reserve Pinot Noir 2016, (£34)
I don’t know what to say, other than amazing. Sometimes its wrong to taste test a wine solo, especially one such as this. As we had a little something to celebrate, I poured a taster each for me and my daughter (don’t fret, she’s old enough you know). What followed was this stream of adjectives. Summer pudding; damsons; cake; vanilla. Oh there were many more. It is a wonderful wine rich with red and black fruits, softened with that vanilla and sparked with black pepper and clove. There’s also a nuance of violets on the nose and together all those aromas (before I’d even tasted) had my mouth watering. Soft tannins, a long finish and good acidity seals the deal.
Carolyn says: 16 was a slightly warmer drier year, we picked the grapes a week earlier and could maintain a good natural acidity, berry size was slightly smaller. This gave us a good flavour concentration and a well structured elegant pinot noir.
Creation Wines Elation MMC 2014 (£40)
This sparkling wine has a wonderful nose of rich, ripe apples and conference pear, embraced by caramel and a rumour of baking spice. There’s subtlety too, as a swirl of the glass releases a secret of flowers but then vanilla, brioche and dried fruits confidently nudge the floral notes to one side and take centre stage. The wine is brut nature, which means no added sugar was added after disgorgement (when the lees is removed from the bottle after the second fermentation). Sugar isn’t needed though, as a bright crisp acidity and those wonderful rich fruits coat the mouth and excite the palate.
Carolyn says: This is 80/20 chardonnay and pinot noir with three years in the bottle before disgorgement. A wonderful palate cleanser and natural MCC (method cap classique, same as traditional way of making champagne). It’s a great way to start and end the day!
America saved Europe. Not only in the two world wars but further back, in the 19th century, when European vineyards were devastated by phylloxera. Vines that had been exported to America, which were immune to the bug, were brought back to Europe and planted. Then European vines were grafted onto the American rootstock. So thanks to America, the European wine industry was rescued.
The turning point for American wine in Europe was in 1976 at the famous 'Judgement of Paris' when the USA won first prize for both red and white wines in a blind tasting held by the most distinguished wine experts in France. This was an incredible shock. Suddenly countries from all over the world were buoyed - they too could produce wine which would compete at the highest level.
The film 'Bottle Shock' (clip above) starring Alan Rickman and Chris Pine is an entertaining account of this.
I've been a big fan of American wines since the 1980s when Ernesto and Julio Gallo wines in carafes were all the rage. They were pioneers in advertising wine on TV. Do any readers remember the ad with music by Vangelis?
It can be difficult to get good American wines in this country, but whenever I have an opportunity I try to taste them.
WineTrust has a few American wines on its books. Let's not forget that North America includes Canada and Mexico. I visited Canada around three years ago, tasted wines from around the Niagara Falls area and was extremely impressed.
'Why don't you export more wines to Britain?' I asked.
'It's too expensive in import duties.'
'But Australia and New Zealand manage to do it,' I said.
I hope post-Brexit that we will see more Canadian and American wines. I attended an event in London this week at Billingsgate market and tasted some very good Canadian wines. At the moment the yield is too small compared to Australia and New Zealand for export but this is bound to change.
What to match with American food?
Burgers: people always think 'beer' but a light red such as a Pinot Noir would work well with a cheeseburger. Keep it yankee by choosing the Small Hours bottle.
Hot Dogs: an Argentinian fruity rosé or, to push the boat out, an American sparkling rosé.
Pizza: a full-bodied red is perfect for pizza. The gorgeous Zinfandel mentioned below, for instance.
Mac n' cheese: to cut through the cheese, the South African Botanic created by American Ginny Poval would be extremely quaffable.
Caesar salad: this great American salad, invented by Caesar Cardini, is creamy, crisp and fishy. Dry white or sparkling would set these flavours off marvellously, such as the Brut Roederer Estate Quartet, Anderson Valley.
Pancakes: it's hard to imagine a wine that goes with American-style breakfast pancakes. But Andrew Quady Essensia would probably be delightful: a light, not too sweet, mildly effervescent pale orange dessert wine.
Winetrust 100's North American collectionRED2015 Folk Machine 'The Small Hours' Pinot Noir £23
Organic, bio-dynamic, natural.
I'd love to visit this small winery. It's very surfer dude: the wine maker is former surf bum Kenny Likitprakong, a native Californian. However most of the grapes for this wine are not grown by him, rather collected from local farmers, hence his company name 'Hobo'.
Tasting notes: "Damson velvet"
2014 Seghesio Sonoma County Zinfandel £23
Zinfandel is often considered to be the Primitivo grape. Primitivo is my favourite wine so this was right up my street.
Tasting notes: Raspberry, black cherry, fruit flavours. Liquorice, light tannins, long finish
WHITE2015 Botanica 'Mary Delany' collection Semillon. £22
While this is a South Africa wine, from near Stellenboch, the designer is a self-taught American, Ginny Poval. This extraordinary New Yorker visited South Africa in 2008 and was thinking about buying the farm. Her car got stuck in the mud and she asked one of the farm labourers to help out. Within minutes, all the workers on the farm came to her aid. Gratified by this communal feeling, she bought the farm.
Her first project was to create a self-build community amongst the workers so that they could construct together their own homes. They all got time off to help each build. Now they are home owners with high-quality houses. The label is gorgeous, from a work by 18th century botanist illustrator Mary Delany.
Tasting notes: Minerally, clean, fresh
FIZZRoederer Estate Quartet, Anderson Valley California, Brut NV £28
This Californian sparkling wine has so much character and personality.
Tasting notes: Biscuity, pear, croissants, fine bubbles
Roederer Estate Quartet Rosé, Anderson Valley California, Brut NV £28
Same thing but in pink! I took this on a cruise to Madeira with me but saved it for a sunny evening on the cabin balcony overlooking dolphins jumping through the waves as we left port.
Tasting notes: Smooth, a touch sweeter than the white
SWEET2014 Inniskillin riesling Icewine (Half Bottle)
Tasting notes: Honey, almost mead-like with a thread of lemon. "Like a packet of Lockets," said my brother.
"Peachy candy floss," murmured my sister-in-law.
2014 Andrew Quady Essensia £11.95
From California, this is one of my favourite Winetrust wines. Serve chilled.
Tasting notes: Floral, orange blossom, refreshing
Give North American wines a go - you'll discover a whole new world.