Tim’s Column

14 to 16 col

Intro to my weekly wine column

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Back in 2014, I accepted an offer to write a weekly wine column for The Derby Telegraph. At the time, I thought that I’d run out of things to say after a few months but, to my surprise, that never really happened  and in the end I wrote over 100 articles before bowing out in 2016.  Admittedly, many of the things I wrote about were beyond the usual parameters of a wine column but no one seemed to mind and quite a few people said they enjoyed reading them. So, why not have a look below?

JUNE 18

Biodynamics or bonkers? – Derby Telegraph Sat June 18th 2016

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Biodynamic or bonkers? – is the question for today. Or, to put it another way. Does wine taste better on some days than others? Matthias Thun, the man behind a book and app called, ‘When Wine Tastes Best: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers’, certainly thinks so and he’s got some credible company. High street heavyweights, Tesco and Marks and Spencer, only present their wines to critics on days deemed favourable by Thun’s biodynamic calendar and many seemingly sensible wine lovers are extremely wary of opening prized bottles on ‘bad’ days. Thun’s bi

euro11 COUNTRIES

11 for Euro 2016 – Derby Telegraph Sat June 11th 2016

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Yesterday, the month long football tournament, Euro 2016, kicked off across the channel in France. 24 teams have qualified for the event and among them are some of the world’s top wine producing nations. So, today, I’ve picked out a full first team of top tipples from 11 of those competing countries and would encourage you to try a little ‘drinking outside the box’ during the next month. (Austria) Sepp Zweigelt, Weingut Sepp Moser £ 9.50 The Sepp Zweigelt has fruity and perfumed aromas with blackberries, white pepper and spice to the fore. On the palate, the w

JUNE 4 - WHEEL

Elvis Costello and the wheel of wine – Derby Telegraph Sat June 4th 2016

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Elvis Costello, albeit indirectly, is the man responsible for today’s three featured wines. Here’s how. Back in the mid 1980’s, Costello toured the UK with his Spectacular Spinning Songbook show. During the gigs, audience members were picked out at random and asked to spin a huge roulette wheel emblazoned with forty of Costello’s finest songs. Then, when the wheel came to rest, the spinners were ushered into a cage with a couple of go-go dancers and encouraged to dance along with their chosen song. Many years later, on the lookout for new ideas for wine tasting

MAY 28 - GAUCHO

Bread and wine – Derby Telegraph Sat May 28th 2016

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If, when a barbecue is mentioned, your immediate thoughts are – “Oh no, burnt sausages and rain” – you probably won’t be too excited to learn that National Barbecue Week starts on Monday. To be honest, even I, as a big barbecue fan, had never heard of the week until last year when the Derby Telegraph told me about the event and asked me to pair wines with my favourite chargrilled meals for this column. Since then, things have moved on at quite a pace and my cooking partner, Dougie, and I have come up with a barbecue cookery and wine course that, with its

MAY 21 - POSTCARD

Can you help? – Derby Telegraph Sat May 21st 2016

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For near on fifty years, the building in Kirk Langley that now houses my wine shop was known as the Meynell Arms Hotel. In its heyday, the hotel was hugely popular with drinkers, diners and those tying the knot. Plenty of my customers remember the old hotel and, over the years, I’ve heard terrific tales of cock fighting, boozy hunt gatherings and wedding day shenanigans that really can’t be repeated in a family newspaper. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet the first couple to get married here and a woman who was born here after her mother went into labour unexpe

GREYWACKE

Sauvignon at its very best – Derby Telegraph Sat May 14th 2016

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For centuries, the Loire Valley in France was the only place to find quality Sauvignon Blanc. Then, in the 1980’s, the Kiwis came a calling. From Marlborough, in the North East corner of New Zealand’s South Island came wines that were completely different to anything that had gone before. These wines, with their unexpected flavours of passion fruit, guava, lime and asparagus, wowed the world and New Zealand was immediately catapulted to the front rank of wine producing nations and, for the first time, France had a serious Sauvignon rival. Key to New Zealand’s sta

MAY 7

Weird and wonderful – Derby Telegraph Sat May 7th 2016

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Today, I’d like to celebrate the weird and the wonderful by recommending a couple of highly unusual white wines. First up, is the Ma’d Dry Furmint 2013 from the Szent Tamás winery in the Tokaji region of Hungary. Wine producers in Tokaji are world renowned for fashioning exceptional dessert wines from the Furmint grape variety but, as its name makes clear, the Ma’d Dry Furmint is a dry departure from the area’s sweet winemaking traditions. The Szent Tamás winery was founded by 2 Hungarian businessmen and the son of Hungary’s most famous and influential

APR 30

Vegetarian wines – Derby Telegraph Sat April 30th 2016

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On average, I’m probably asked about wines that are suitable for vegetarians about two or three times a year. However, for some reason, in the last couple of months, interest in vegetarian friendly wines has increased dramatically and I’ve been asked to point out our veggie bottles on at least fifteen occasions. At this point, I imagine that many of you are scratching your heads and wondering, “How can wine, a product that’s comprised entirely of fermented grape juice, be anything other than vegetarian friendly?” Well, the answer lies not in the actual makeup

1water

A wine gag and Waterkloof Estate – Derby Telegraph Sat April 23rd 2016

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Every industry has its in jokes and the wine trade has more than most. One enduring favourite, that’s heard, without fail, whenever three or more wine people are gathered together at a trade tasting, goes like this, “How do you make a small fortune in wine? …….. Start with a big one!” As soon as the punch line is delivered, everyone present, will obligingly laugh along, even though they’ll all have heard the gag a million times before. Why? Well, it’s never been easy making money selling wine and back in the old days it was considered almost ungentlemanly

burger

Wines for burgers – Derby Telegraph Sat April 16th 2016

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Last weekend, I read, here in the ‘Weekend’, a report by the ‘Secret Spy’ that resulted in me reaching for pen and paper. The subject of the ‘Spy’s’ restaurant review was a burger bar and once I’d started to think about big juicy burgers, I just couldn’t stop. So, I decided to put my temporary obsession to a productive use and began, as spontaneously as I could, to quickly jot down the wines I enjoy drinking the most when I’m chomping on a quarter pounder. Here, as I wrote it, is the list:- Primitivo, Garnacha, Aglianico, Monastrell, Malbec, Nero d

APR 9

From Cot of Cahors to Malbec of Mendoza – Derby Telegraph Sat April 9th 2016

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Next Sunday (April 17th), red wine drinkers across the globe will be raising their glasses to celebrate World Malbec Day. However, it’s highly unlikely the M word will be much mentioned in the cafes, bars and restaurants of the small town of Cahors in south west France. There, the grape has long been known as Cot and it’s there that the grape’s long, slow journey to world prominence begins. Clearly, it’s now time to tell the tale of how little known Cot of Cahors became the all-conquering Malbec of Mendoza, but before I do, I’d like to talk about Jean Luc Bur

wayne

Palette, pallet, palette and palate – Derby Telegraph Sat April 2nd 2016

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The other day, I was working on social media or, as my wife would put it, “Wasting time on Twitter”, when I came across an exasperated, but humorous, tweet from a wine writer I’ve recently started to follow. “John Wayne needs a Pallete cleanser, warehouses a pallet cleanser, artists a palette cleanser, wine folk a PALATE cleanser – how many times?” I don’t know the answer to the writer’s rhetorical question but I’m hoping his pithy tweet will lead to a reduction in the number of palate misspellings that we (wine merchants) receive, on an all too regul

LAFITE 1787

The world’s most expensive wines – Derby Telegraph Sat March 26th 2016

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By way of a change, none of today’s featured wines are available in my shop or, indeed, anywhere else in Derbyshire. In fact, unless I’m suddenly catapulted into the ranks of the world’s super rich – unlikely, with my margins – I’ll never even get to see any of the wines I’m about to discuss: let alone, actually try any of them. Unless, there are, amongst the readers of this column, any massively moneyed members of the world’s wine collecting elite who would, for whatever reason, like to share their liquid riches with me. Admittedly, it’s a bit of a l

FACE OFF

Walk this way – Derby Telegraph Sat March 19th 2016

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Most mornings, I can be found, cutting a comical figure, in the countryside around Kirk Langley as I attempt to ‘power walk’ my way through nearly 5 miles of fields in under an hour. Unknowingly, over time, I have, in my attempts to beat my hour target, developed a full on “Minister of Silly Walks” marching gait that invites much mickey taking from those who’ve witnessed it – especially my children. Never mind, as 80’s pop dandy, Adam Ant, sagely observed in one of his No.1 hits, “Ridicule is nothing to be scared of.” And the benefits of walking – e

52

52 x 52 wine pairings – Derby Telegraph Sat March 12th 2016

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Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever stuck to a New Year’s resolution beyond the first week of January but it seems that my friend, and cooking partner, Dougie, is made of much sterner stuff. It’s now mid-March and, with 11 dishes already conceived and cooked, he’s well on the way to achieving his New Year’s aim of creating 52 original barbecue recipes in 52 weeks. Today, I’m suggesting wines to go with 4 of Dougie’s dishes but before I do, I need to talk a little about the 2 key rules he’s set himself. Firstly, every element of every dish has to be co

grapes

Top ten grape varieties – Derby Telegraph Sat March 5th 2016

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Having recently turned eighteen, my eldest son is now, A Level studies permitting, able to help out my wife and I in the shop. Needless to say, he expects to be paid for his efforts. So, we’ve agreed a two tier wage structure. He’ll start on a basic wage and then, when he’s passed the Wine Spirit & Education Trust’s (WSET) advanced exam, he’ll get an increase. The advanced course starts in April and for the last few weeks I’ve been bringing my son up to speed with all the knowledge he’ll need before he embarks on the course. For me, it’s been a bit

FEB 27

At last, it’s Chile! – Derby Telegraph Sat February 27th 2016

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A few weeks ago, whilst thinking up wine tasting themes, I was taken aback to discover that, in over ten years of tastings at Worth Brothers Wines, we’ve never hosted a Chilean evening. Given that Chile is the world’s sixth largest producer of wine, that’s quite an oversight. So, to right that wrong, we’re kicking off this year’s programme of events with a Chilean tasting on Friday 4th March. The evening will showcase 8 wines from 5 of the country’s key wine making areas and, today, as a precursor to the tasting, I’d like to further offset our past neglec

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How old is old enough? – Derby Telegraph Sat February 20th 2016

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As a wine merchant, I’m contacted, reasonably regularly, by relatives of the recently deceased, to see if I’d like to make an offer on wines from the passed person’s cellar, shed or similar. Sometimes, the wines in question have benefitted from the period of maturation and I readily agree terms with the seller but more often than not the wines are well past it and I have to politely decline. I think it’s fair to say that most people think that wine improves with the age but unfortunately, for the majority of wines, it’s just not true. Yes, there are wines tha

FEB 13

Nuria is my Valentine – Derby Telegraph Sat February 13th 2016

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Past experience would suggest, that today, my shop will be buzzing with people – mainly men, to be honest – buying last minute Valentine’s gifts for their wives and partners. As you’d expect, bottles of bubbly, pink in particular, are usually what the eleventh hour romantics are after and the big two – Champagne and Prosecco – dominate the desires of most. However, Cava producer, Carlos Sumarocca puts most of us to shame when it comes to the big romantic gesture and, if asked, I always recommend his flagship wine, Nuria Claverol Gran Reserva, Bodegas Sumaro

sicily

Pesky kids and a Sicilian pairing – Derby Telegraph Sat February 6th 2016

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Like many other people, my wife and I spent the first few days of the New Year planning our summer holiday. As usual, agreeing a mutually acceptable itinerary with our three teenage children was a long and complicated business. You see, for some unaccountable reason, they’re united in the – clearly, mistaken – belief that the long hot days of summer aren’t best spent visiting vineyards. Apparently, so they would have us believe, there’s much more fun to be had hanging out at the beach or in dodgy discos. So, to accommodate everyone’s needs, we’re

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Wild boars run amok – Derby Telegraph Sat January 30th 2016

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Last weekend, top Tuscan wine estate, Isole e Olena, made the pages of two national newspapers. Nothing unusual in that; you may well think. After all, wine reviews are featured in most of the weekend supplements and you’d expect the wines of a leading producer to be much recommended. However, Isole wasn’t, on this occasion, namechecked for the exceptional quality of its wines but for its costly desire to protect itself from marauding beasts. For, Isole e Olena, like many other Chianti producers in Tuscany, has to cope not just with the usual trials and tribulation

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Dr. Melk and the Spiders from SARS – Derby Telegraph Sat January 23rd 2016

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Today, as a tribute to David Bowie, I’m handing my column over to the man who, inspired by Bowie’s era defining album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, christened his latest white wine release, Dr. Melk and the Spiders from Sars. Before I do, I should explain that he goes by the name of Rick or The Liberator and that he wants you to “drink the episode.” Don’t worry, if you read on it’ll all make sense. Beyond the periphery of South Africa’s conventional vineyard regions lie great vinous treasures, resigned to anonymity; forgo

JAN 16

T, R and Y – Derby Telegraph Sat January 16th 2016

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In last week’s column, inspired by a newly launched initiative called Try January, I recommended a selection of wines from some of the world’s lesser known wine regions. Today, sticking with Try January’s exploratory theme, I’d like to shine a light on a few unusual grape varieties that begin with the letters T, R and Y. Torrontes: Unlike Malbec, which has become synonymous with Argentina but actually originates from France, Torrontes is a bona fide Argentinian grape variety that produces uniquely aromatic and exotic white wines. From the Mendoza region of Arge

try jan1

Try not Dry January – Derby Telegraph Sat January 9th 2016

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Whenever I hear mention of ‘Dry January’, I’m reminded of satirist Ambrose Bierce’s amusing take on abstention – “Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.” Personally, and I say this with some considerable pride, I’ve never, as yet, fallen prey to the easy temptations of pleasure denial and, fingers crossed, I never will. But pursuing a mildly hedonistic path isn’t always easy, especially in the bleak midwinter, and us iron willed drinkers are open to anything that will help us resist the – oh, so –

JAN 2

Secret Spain – Derby Telegraph Sat January 2nd 2016

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Well, the party’s over and most of us are facing a frugal month or two after the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. To help with the January belt tightening, I’ve picked out 3 great value reds from ‘Secret Spain’ that are dead certs to bring a little cheer during this most miserable of months. Situated just south of the famous Rioja vineyards in northern Spain, Campo de Borja is a wine region that’s renowned for its love of punchy red grape variety, Garnacha Tinto. Over 75 percent of Campo de Borja’s vines are given over to Garnacha and th

BASTION

A special red for Christmas – Derby Telegraph Sat December 19th 2015

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Many years ago, I received a simple piece of advice from an elder statesman of the wine trade, “It’s Christmas, treat yourself to a fine bottle of Burgundy.” Most Christmases since then, I’ve followed his Burgundian maxim to the letter by splashing out on a bottle or two of Pinot Noir from the region’s best winemaking villages, and the second I sampled the Beaune-Bastion Premier Cru 2010 from Domaine Chanson earlier this year, I knew I’d be doing exactly the same thing again this Christmas. Well, nearly the same thing anyway. Truth be told, I ac

DEC 12 - PIE

Pecan, Pedro and Pineau – Derby Telegraph Sat December 12th 2015

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Back in November – the dullest November ever recorded – we, at Worth Brothers Wines, felt something of the sunniness of California when the vivacious Meliza Jalbert of Hope Family Wines in Paso Robles, flew in from San Francisco to present her wines at our big Christmas tasting. Seemingly impervious to jet-lag, Meliza charmed all those present with her tales of winemaking in the Golden State and was justly rewarded for her efforts when her delicious wines were a huge hit with our customers. None more so than the Liberty School Pinot Noir, which was the bestselling

MEN FINAL

Wine for men! – Derby Telegraph Sat December 5th 2015

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I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, that I’ve never come across anyone, in any setting, who has ever expressed even the slightest dissatisfaction with the centuries old ritual of wine being poured from bottle to glass. But Graham from Cleveland in Ohio thinks differently and, according to his website, he’s developed a revolutionary new product that will fulfil the dreams of anxious male wine drinkers everywhere. Graham, it would seem, has uncovered and successfully resolved an awkward social situation that I, for one, was blissfully unaware of. “Ou

wine box shelves

Wine books for Christmas – Derby Telegraph Sat November 28th 2015

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The other day, I logged onto Amazon, clicked through to the books section, typed “wine” into the search box and, to my amazement, discovered that there are nearly 100,000 books with the word “wine” in the title. So, just how, if you’re looking for a wine book for Christmas, can you possibly hope to choose the right one for, either, yourself or vino loving family members or friends? Frankly, given the colossal choice, it’s a somewhat thankless task but don’t despair because I may well be able to help. Below, are brief details of the four most indispensable

pink friday

Pink Friday – Derby Telegraph Sat November 21st 2015

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These days, it seems that orchestrated shopping days are all the rage and, really, it’s high time that we at Worth Brothers Wines got in on the act. So, after much thought, we’ve chosen a day at the end of next week – Friday in fact – and partnered it, rather brilliantly, with a colour to create, in effect, a whole new pre-Christmas shopping paradigm. We’ve called it Pink Friday and we hope you like it. Taking part in Pink Friday couldn’t be simpler, all you’ve got to do is pick a pink from the following suggestions, drink, relax and e

NOV 14 - WINE

Quaff My Bluff – Derby Telegraph Sat November 14th 2015

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“Call My Bluff” was a popular BBC panel game show that ran from 1965 to 2005. The format of the game was straightforward – competing teams gained points by identifying the correct definition of an obscure word after hearing three possible options. Here’s an example from the show:- Is “Queach” a malicious caricature, a cross between a quince and a peach, or a mini-jungle of mixed vegetation?   It’s a mini-jungle of mixed vegetation or – in normal speak – a thicket. Hopefully, you got the right answer and aren’t now feeling like a bit of a th

NOV 7 CRABS

David Niven and crabs – Derby Telegraph Sat November 7th 2015

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Today, I’d like to begin with a fishy story of love beneath the waves that readers of a certain vintage may well recall hearing way back in 1975 when suave actor and brilliant raconteur, David Niven, told the tale on TV chat show, Parkinson, and effortlessly brought the house down. According to Niven, “A prawn fell in love with a crab and it was mad about the crab and it went home to its family and it said, “Look I’m mad about the crab that lives around the big rock at the end.” And the prawn’s father was furious and said, “You’re not going to be seen w

OCT 31

Death’s Door Gin – Derby Telegraph Sat October 31st 2015

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We stock hundreds of different wines and spirits at Worth Brothers Wines but picking out the perfect bottle for tonight’s Halloween celebrations took me a mere couple of seconds and that’s because, sitting in our spirits section, is an American Gin that goes by the suitably chilling name of Death’s Door. As the Gin’s macabre moniker is so apt for tonight ghoulish festivities, it may suit the mood to simply take the Death’s Door name at scary face value and to get on with the party but that would be to ignore the real story behind the name that I, at the risk

yquem

Wine world records – Derby Telegraph Sat October 24th 2015

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There are lots of wine trade magazines and I read most of them but my favourite, by far, is The Wine Merchant. It’s a niche magazine for independent wine merchants that reflects, in its articles and editorials, the knowledge, good humour and bonhomie of the wine trade. As you’d expect, most articles in the magazine aren’t really of much interest to those not involved in the business of selling wine but, in my humble opinion, the latest issue’s light-hearted look at wine world records deserves a wider readership. So here, with all due credit to The Wine Merchant

poetry

Wine and poetry – Derby Telegraph Sat October 17th 2015

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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC marked and celebrated the 21st birthday of National Poetry Day by programming a whole day of poetry on Radio Four. Entitled ‘We British: An Epic in Poetry’, the high-reaching aim, across the day, was to explore and reflect the history and identity of Britain from the 700s to the present day solely through the medium of poetry. I mention this not because I’m – excuse the pun – well versed in either poetry or history or even because the versifying on Four brought out the dormant poet within me. You can rest assured that rhyming co

gbbo

Wine and baking – Derby Telegraph Sat October 10th 2015

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Today, a few days after the Great British Bake Off final, I’d like to bring the worlds of wine and baking together with a cake and ice cream combo from acclaimed Spanish chef, Jose Pizarro. The cake is almond and pear and it’s accompanied by slow-roasted rhubarb and Pedro Ximenez ice cream. Almond, pear and rhubarb need no explanation but what is Pedro Ximenez ice cream? Pedro Ximenez (or PX) is an intensely sweet, dark, dessert sherry made from the grape of the same name. According to legend, it is named after a German soldier, Peter Hirtzman, who in the late 17th

rude

Rude rugby – Derby Telegraph Sat October 3rd 2015

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Tonight, after a harrowing defeat to Wales last Saturday, England’s rugby team face Australia in a do or die encounter at Twickenham. I expect most supporters who are planning to watch the game on television would love to be part of the packed and passionate crowd inside the stadium but, then again, maybe they wouldn’t. After all, fans at Twickenham will have to contend with a nightmare journey to the ground and, should they fancy drink or two, they’ll have the dubious pleasure of drinking beer from World Cup sponsor, Heineken. Whereas, for armchair supporters, e

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Fish supper for the RNLI – Derby Telegraph Sat September 26th 2015

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Forty years ago, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) came to the rescue of my father after his boat’s steering packed in during a Force 7 in the English Channel. The rescue mission was difficult, dangerous and prolonged and it wasn’t until the dead of night that the battered and beaten boat was finally dragged into the safe haven of Brixham harbour. Thirty miles away in Salcombe – my father’s intended destination – my anxious, mother, brother and I finally got to our makeshift beds in the home of the amazingly generous local coastguard

egg bottom left amendment

Roast chicken – Derby Telegraph Sat September 19th 2015

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The other evening, wondering what to prepare for the family meal, I randomly opened up a few cookbooks in the hope of finding some culinary inspiration. Pleasingly, inspiration came quickly but not in the way I expected, or more pertinently, the way my hungry family expected. Annoyingly, for my wife and children, inspiration came not in the form of an amazing undiscovered recipe but in the form – and I’ve never said this before and I expect I’ll never say it again – of a roast chicken rhapsody. “It is hard to think of a more prefect meal than roast chicke

SEP 12 b

Gin at Festival No. 6 – Derby Telegraph Sat September 12th 2015

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For the past few years, in early September, my friends and I have journeyed to the beautiful village of Portmeirion in mid Wales to say our goodbyes to the summer at the truly unique and magical Festival No.6. Inspired by cult 60’s TV show – The Prisoner – the festival’s stunning estuary setting is a perfect backdrop to an always eclectic roster of artists from the worlds of music, comedy, film and literature. Gastronomically too, the festival, replete with plenty of quality food and drink stalls, is highly impressive and this year, my friends and I spe

stork

Stork ons in the Alentejo – Derby Telegraph Sat September 5th 2015

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I think most of us could confidently point to the Algarve on an unmarked map of Portugal but I’d wager that most Brits are blissfully unaware of Portugal’s largest region, the Alentejo. For, despite lying directly above the Algarve on the map, the Alentejo has little to interest the average holidaymaker because it’s predominantly an inland agricultural region with very little coastline. Nicknamed the ‘bread basket of Portugal’ because of its pre-eminent role in feeding the nation, the Alentejo may not appeal greatly to the holidaying hedonist but it should, m

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The vital Antonio – Derby Telegraph Sat August 29th 2015

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Winemakers often name their wines after especially beloved, or inspirational members, of their family and it’s always fascinating to hear them talk, often emotionally, about the loved ones they’re paying vinous tribute to. Over the years, I’ve been privileged with many great familial insights and, just last week, I sat utterly transfixed as Marta Soares, at home in her prized Vermelha vineyards, 50 miles north of Lisbon, told me the moving story behind her stunning wine, Antonio. Sipping her wine in the afternoon sun, Marta explained that, as a graduate of the Fa

douro

Wine regions A to Z – Derby Telegraph Sat August 1st, Sat August 8th, Sat August 15th and Sat August 22nd 2015

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Auvergne The Auvergne passes under the radar of most wine drinkers but those with a penchant for Beaujolais would be well advised to give the region’s reds a go. Gamay, as in Beaujolais, is the key grape variety in the Auvergne and, as a result, the reds from the respective regions share many stylistic similarities. So, just where is the Auvergne? The Auvergne is situated in central France and is the largest volcanic area in Europe with some parts that resemble a lunar landscape. The region is dominated by a range of dormant volcanoes that were last active some 7,500

JULY 25

Italian Trio – Derby Telegraph Sat July 25th 2015

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Thankfully, it will never happen but if I were forced to confine my wine drinking to the offerings of only one country, it would – no hesitation at all – have to be Italy. Uniquely, Italy is the only nation in the whole world to produce wine in all of its many regions and boasts over a 1,000 different indigenous grape varieties. Not for nothing, was it known as Oenotria (land of the vines) by the Ancient Greeks. It would be fun to describe all of the weird and wonderful grape varieties to be found in Italy but space prevents, so it’s probably best to focus in

JULY 18

Prosecco – Derby Telegraph Sat July 18th 2015

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In recent years, Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco, has become the first choice fizz for many UK wine drinkers and, to the dismay of the French, so popular has this effervescent new kid on the block become that its sales now outstrip those of long established classic, Champagne. Amusingly, and tellingly for Champagne producers, so massively of the moment is Prosecco that Charlotte Church, objecting recently, to being labelled a ‘Champagne Socialist’ by the right wing press, coined a new term and re-branded herself, with an arch and humorous self-awareness, a ‘Pros

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Gordon Ramsay – Derby Telegraph Sat July 11th 2015

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Tomorrow, it’s highly likely the air around Markeaton Park will turn a deep shade of blue as cooking and cussing king, Gordon Ramsay, is in town to take part in Jenson Button’s fund raising triathlon. The event starts with a swim in Markeaton lake, followed by a cycle ride into the centre of Derby and climaxes with an afternoon run around Markeaton Park. Adding to the pressures of the race for Ramsay, is his £ 1000 personal wager with local businessman, Dean Jackson, as to who will finish first. Amusingly, and almost unbelievably, the pair recently competed in the

pink

In the pink – Derby Telegraph Sat July 4th 2015

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Next weekend, around 3,500 women will take part in Cancer UK’s annual Race for Life event in Darley Park and every single one of them will be wearing pink. So, by way of tribute to their fundraising efforts, and in keeping with the colour code, I’ve picked out 5 quality rosés for post-race celebration/rehydration. Le Dolci Colline Rosé Spumante NV £ 8.25 It’s always nice, on crossing a finishing line, to be greeted with a bottle of bubbly and this delicate sparkling rosé with strawberry and raspberry aromas and soft berry characters on the palate is sure to r

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Wimbledon – Derby Telegraph Sat June 27th 2015

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Today, with Wimbledon fortnight just around the corner, I’d like to suggest a couple of wines for all those hoping to cheer, from the comfort of their armchairs, Andy Murray on to his second All England Club title. With stress free – well, as stress free as it can be whilst watching Murray – TV viewing in mind, I’ve also come up with some very simple food matches for the wines in order to ensure that no crucial tennis time is wasted in the kitchen. Murray certainly wasn’t wasting time when, at the tender age of 15, he decided to leave Scotland to trai

JUNE20

Father’s Day – Derby Telegraph Sat June 20th 2015

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A few years ago, I made an ongoing rod for my own back by revealing, to my 3 children, my reservations about Father’s Day. It was hard, I explained, for me to feel really connected to a day that didn’t, at least in the UK, exist when I was growing up and that appears, unlike the centuries old sacred Mother’s Day celebration, to have been invented purely for commercial reasons. As you can imagine, my teenage sons were more than willing to take me at my word and since then, Father’s Day gifts from them have been decidedly thin on the ground and, of course, I’ve

cur

Xarel-lo – Derby Telegraph June 13th 2015

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On seeing the eclectic expanse of wine on our shelves, first time visitors to Worth Brothers Wines often make an immediate beeline to the counter to confide, excitedly, that they really don’t know where to begin, such is the choice. Obviously, when this happens I’m delighted but also a little rueful because appreciative talk of the choice we offer always, for some unaccountable reason, makes me think of the ones that got away. Luckily, with room on our shelves for hundreds of wines, there aren’t too many wines we’ve been unable to accommodate but, nonetheless,

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Champions League Final – Derby Telegraph June 6th 2015

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Tonight, in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, two of the biggest names in European football, Barcelona and Juventus, face each other in the Champions League Final. Of course, we all, football aficionados or not, know Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia in north eastern Spain but where, non-football fans may ask, do Barça’s opponents come from? Known as La Vecchia Signora (the Grand Old Lady), Juventus football club is found in the city of Turin in Italy’s north western region of Piedmont. Pleasingly, for those of us planning to watch the match with a glass or

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Underrated Portugal – Derby Telegraph Sat May 30th 2015

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Recently, members of the UK wine trade, myself included, were asked to nominate the wine producing countries/regions they considered the most under and overrated. For France, the survey’s results made for unpleasant reading, as the country’s most famous wine regions, Bordeaux and Burgundy, came, respectively, top and third in the overrated category. I can’t pretend, given the average price of wine from the two regions, that the placings were hugely surprising but my personal vote of disapproval wasn’t directed across the channel and, for that reason, I’d like

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National Barbecue Week – Derby Telegraph Sat May 23rd 2015

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Derby born, 2 star Michelin chef, Sat Bains, isn’t a man famed for his back to basics cooking but he is, like many other highly regarded chefs, a huge fan of a simple, but brilliant, charcoal fired barbecue called the Big Green Egg. Bains enthuses, “It’s easy to use and tastes sensational. Food that comes off the Egg immediately becomes a favourite amongst the team and our customers.” Sounds good, but why, in a wine column, am I talking about barbecues? Well, in the shop, as well as wine, I also sell Big Green Eggs and with National Barbecue Week starting o

MAY 16

Syrah or Shiraz? – Derby Telegraph Sat May 16th 2015

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With so many grape varieties going under different guises in different countries, choosing wine can be a confusing business. For instance, most wine drinkers are familiar with hefty red grape variety, Shiraz, but a wine labelled Syrah, the grape’s original name, rings far fewer bells of recognition and, as a consequence, drinkers often miss out on wines that may really appeal. Thankfully, in our shop, missing out isn’t much of an issue, as we chat to our customers and advise them accordingly but, even so, a few words about the respective merits of Syrah and Shiraz

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Giro d’Italia – Derby Telegraph Sat May 9th 2015

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Today, sees the start of the Giro d’Italia. To be honest, as a walker not a pedaller, I’d not heard of the Giro, Italy’s version of the Tour de France, until local cycle sellers, Park Bikeworks, rang to ask if I was interested in hosting a race related wine tasting at their place. Well, Italy is my favourite wine producing country and last summer, in this column, I’d had fun writing about Tour de France inspired wines. So, despite lacking two wheels, it seemed I was the right man for the job. Setting the date for the tasting was easy after I discovered that sta

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Cave Saint Verny – Derby Telegraph Sat May 2nd 2015

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In ancient times, both the Romans and the Greeks worshipped a god of wine. The god, known as Bacchus in Rome and Dionysius in Greece, was also the god of fruitfulness and vegetation. However, for the uninhibited ancients, it was, undoubtedly, the wine that really stoked their ardour and they worshipped the god by indulging in wine fuelled orgiastic rites. After the ancients, the carnality and carousing couldn’t, with the coming of Christianity, continue and deity inspired debauchery was forsaken for the serene worship of Saints. One such Saint, was Saint-Verny (also

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Chardonnay – Derby Telegraph Sat April 25th

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Back in the 80’s and 90’s, Chardonnay’s all-pervading popularity was such that it was virtually synonymous with white wine. However, for every action there is a reaction and by the end of the Noughties, UK wine drinkers had proven the old adage – “familiarity breeds contempt” – to be true, by taking against Chardonnay in a big way. ABC (“Anything but Chardonnay”) became the new mantra and it’s only in the last few years that resistance to the grape has started to fade as more restrained and subtle Chardonnays have been introduced to the mark

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Leaders’ libations – Derby Telegraph Sat April 18th 2015

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Apparently, during the recent televised leaders’ debate, many younger viewers enlivened proceedings by taking part in various orchestrated drinking games. Although, the trigger phrases varied from game to game, the overall rules were uniform and simple. Every time one of the – not so – magnificent seven politicians uttered a flagged up phrase such as “Long term economic plan” or “Hard working families” a hefty drink had to be taken. Personally, I’ve never been keen on regimented drinking but hearing about the politically inspired drinking game g

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World Malbec Day – Derby Telegraph Sat April 11th 2015

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Next Friday, April 17th, is World Malbec Day and, believe me, joining in the celebrations couldn’t be simpler. All you need is a couple of bottles of quality Argentinian Malbec and some juicy steaks. To help you choose the former, I’ve written a few words about a couple of my favourite Malbec producers and, with nearly a week to go, there’s lots of time to get some prime steak from the butcher. So, really, with everything in hand, all that needs to be said is – Happy Malbec Day! Altos Las Hormigas From its estate in Luján de Cuyo, near Mendoza, the Altos Las H

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Gin School – Derby Telegraph Sat April 4th 2015

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One day, back in 2008, William Chase, the owner of hugely successful crisp brand, Tyrells, walked into the office of the man charged with spearheading the company’s diversification into muesli and got straight to the point, “Muesli is bloody boring. Let’s make vodka instead.” Two years later, Chase Vodka won the San Francisco World Spirits Award for Best Vodka. The man responsible for turning Chase’s inspired whim into award winning reality was Jamie Baxter. Starting with zero knowledge of spirit making, Jamie, ably supported by Chase, learnt the ins and outs

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Spicing it up – Derby Telegraph Sat March 28th 2015

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Nowadays, we eat out for pleasure. Not so very long ago, things were very different. Then, for all but the very wealthy, eating out was a grim necessity to be quietly endured at a local government run canteen. Prosaically titled “British Restaurants”, the nationwide chain of canteens served rationed meals to hungry Britons between 1940 and 1947. Black and white footage of the utilitarian canteens provided the opening for recent BBC4 documentary, “Spicing up Britain: How Eating Out Went Exotic.” In one propagandising clip, a ‘plucky’ Brit straight from a Har

MAR 21

Impromptu St. Patrick’s Night – Derby Telegraph Sat March 21st 2015

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As an Englishman, St. Patrick’s Day normally passes me by but last Tuesday my brother in law, a second generation Irishman who works around the world for UNICEF, turned up, unexpectedly, on my doorstep and insisted, with heavy irony but with serious intent, that we had a ‘craic.’ How could I refuse? After all, I’d not seen him for a few months and who was I to deny a man a sacred celebration of his patron saint? Normally, we’d have nipped down to the local pub but my wife was out and I was looking after the kids. So, after discharging my parental duties, I cr

MAR 14

Sauvignon Supersubs – Derby Telegraph Sat March 14th 2015

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With spring just around the corner, it’s second nature to reach for a familiar bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Its life affirming, grassy directness is perfectly suited to the season of renewal and, many would say, there’s no need to get too exploratory within your glass when there’s so much happening outside. Perhaps predictably, I would demur and suggest that, this spring, you shelve the Sauvignon, at least temporarily, and explore the delicious alternatives. Sauvignon surrogates are to be found across the globe and I’ve assembled a tight, multinational squa

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Big Green Egg Pop Up – Derby Telegraph Sat March 7th 2015

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Last Friday night, I had the very great pleasure of matching wines to the utterly sublime food of hugely talented young chef, Danny Gill, at our latest, and most innovative, ‘pop up’ restaurant event. Hailing from Lincolnshire, Danny served a successful apprenticeship under Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. At 25, he was appointed head chef of 2 Michelin starred restaurant Midsummer House and now he’s about to open his own restaurant with good friend, and right hand man, Phil Henson, back in their home county of Lincolnshire. Danny’s 6 course

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Drop the duty – Derby Telegraph Sat February 28th 2015

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Last March, during his budget day speech, the Chancellor finally came to his senses and announced the scrapping of the grossly unfair and much despised wine duty escalator. Implemented, ill-advisedly, in 2008, the money grabbing escalator lifted levels of duty on wine from £ 1.56 a bottle to £ 2.46 – a, frankly obscene, increase of 58% in a mere 6 years. Clearly, George Osborne didn’t forfeit the huge extra tax revenues generated by the duty escalator on a whim and much credit for its consignment to the pile of bad political ideas rests with the ‘Call Time on D

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Chinese New Year – Derby Telegraph Sat February 21st 2015

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Last Thursday, February 19th, my eldest son turned 17 and, across the globe, and entirely unconnectedly, Chinese people began celebrating Chinese New Year 2015 – The Year of the Goat. Keen on the calendar coincidence, my son, optimistically suggested, that we really ought to mark the occasion by extending his birthday celebrations to the full 23 days allotted to the Chinese New Year festivities. Unsurprisingly, his new found interest in ancient Chinese custom waned, when I pointed out – with particular reference to the toxic state of his bedroom – another Chinese

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Veggie Valentine – Derby Telegraph Sat February 14th 2015

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The other day, whilst waiting for a train to London, I popped into the station’s newsagents and bought a music magazine with a young Morrissey on the cover. Boldly proclaiming to tell the truth about the making of The Smiths 1985 album Meat is Murder, the magazine’s strap line promised, “Violence! Oppression! Sausages!” After reading the, in truth, not terribly violent, oppressive or sausage laden article, my mind drifted back in time to 1985 and myself as a 17 year old Smiths fan. Normally, I’m not big on nostalgia and I rarely spend much time thinking about

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Chateau Chunder – Derby Telegraph Sat February 7th 2015

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Space, light, grace and elegance encapsulate the Royal Horticultural Hall in London. Although, somewhat surprisingly, given its name, the beautiful old building isn’t actually used for planting purposes anymore. Rather, it’s now a venue for hire and in recent years it’s been used, more and more, for wine tasting events. Attending a wine tasting at the Royal Horticultural Hall is always a joy and, a couple of weeks ago, my winter gloom was well and truly lifted by a trip down to the RHH for the annual Australia Day tasting. Aussie winemakers, no matter how feted,

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The story of O – Derby Telegraph Sat January 31st 2015

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I can’t, and not just because this is a family newspaper, contribute much to the media hoo-ha that’s been whipped up by the phenomenal success of erotic novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ Unpersuaded by the hype, I’ve not read the book and probably won’t get to see the forthcoming film. Nevertheless, the bandwagon just keeps on rolling and, this week, I heard news of the recent U.S. release of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ wine collection. Initially, there are two offerings – Red Satin and White Silk. According to FSOG author, E.L. James, “the wines reflect

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Drinking with Napoleon – Derby Telegraph Sat January 24th 2015

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Listening to my van radio, the other day, in between wine delivery stops, I caught the end of an interview with historical novelist, Bernard Cornwell. I imagine, earlier in the interview, he’d spoken of his hugely popular ‘Sharpe’ novels and their successful television spin offs but, whilst I was tuned in, the talk was focussed on his newly released, and first ever, at the age of 70, non-fiction book. With an obvious eye for a publishing opportunity, Cornwell discussed how, with the bicentennial anniversary due in June this year, he simply couldn’t resist the t

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A taste of Spain – Derby Telegraph Sat January 17th 2015

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Last weekend, we joined the ‘pop up’ restaurant revolution and, after much nervous preparation, laid on a five course Spanish ‘taster’ menu with accompanying wine for a group of 35 surgeons in our events room. Thankfully, to coin a phrase, it proved to be just what the doctors ordered and now, emboldened by the success, we’re really looking forward to doing it all over again. In the meantime, I thought I’d talk a little of the wines the guests enjoyed and, for the benefit of any cooks who may be reading, point out that the soup, fish and paella recipes can

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January transfer window – Derby Telegraph Sat January 10th 2015

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In the past, football and wine were worlds apart. In recent years, however, football’s landscape has changed immeasurably and now, awash with broadcasting rights riches and foreign talent, our national sport is far more cosmopolitan and wine is very much part of the beautiful game’s new era. Indeed, these days, amongst top flight managers, it’s become something of a custom for the two opposing ‘gaffers’ to set aside their differences by sharing a post-match bottle of wine. Of course, old habits die hard and the always provocative, ex Manchester United manager

JAN 3

Lower alcohol wines – Derby Telegraph Sat January 3rd 2015

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There are those who believe January is best endured without a drink. I’m not one of them. A little liquid cheer at the end of the day is, I’m convinced, the best way to keep mind, body and soul together during the coldest month. But then, you’d probably expect a wine merchant to say that! Of course, we all need respite from the excesses of Christmas but, for me, total abstinence is overly dramatic and of uncertain benefit. Far better, I think, to edge away from over indulgence with a glass or two of this week’s specially selected, lower alcohol wines. All of th

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Champagne – Derby Telegraph Sat December 27th 2014

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There are no prizes for guessing the subject of this weekend’s wine column. With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, it is – of course – Champagne. Let’s start with a question. Where would you find someone with no understanding of Champagne or the message that’s conveyed by popping a cork of the famous fizz? I don’t know the answer but it’s hard to conceive of anyone, save for the world’s remotest tribes, being unaware of Champagne and its association with celebration, sophistication and success. And that’s because, long before the word was band

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We can be heroes – Derby Telegraph Sat December 20th 2014

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“Claret is the liquor for boys; Port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink Brandy.” Dr. Samuel Johnson In recent columns, I’ve considered Claret and pondered Port and now – to paraphrase M People – it’s time to, “search for the hero inside ourselves” with a few festive Brandies. After all, it is Christmas and it’s usually best to heed the words of a doctor! So, what exactly is Brandy? In short, Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. There are many types of Brandy but the big three, and the ones I’d like to discuss, are Cog

DEC 13

Christmas lunch – Derby Telegraph Sat December 13th 2014

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Christmas lunch is the big one and we all, whatever we’re eating, want to get it right. For most, it’s still the traditional turkey but for many others the big bird holds little appeal and culinary contentment comes instead from smaller fowl, roasting joints or vegetarian dishes. Every year in the shop, as people search for their Christmas wines, I’m privy to all their plans for the big day and get to hear of mouth-watering feasts, amazingly inventive ideas and indulgence on a grand scale. It’s tough work but someone’s got to do it! This year, the festive fro

DEC 6

Festive drinking – Derby Telegraph Sat December 6th 2014

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With less than 3 weeks to go, it’s time to share my list of essential Christmas drinking wines. Followed next week, with lots of suggestions for Christmas lunch. Mince pies: These days, Madeira is perhaps best known as the birthplace of hair gel enthusiast Cristiano Ronaldo, but the incredible fortified wines from the island really shouldn’t be overlooked. There are four major styles – Sercial, Verdelho, Boal and Malvasia – named after the grape varieties used to make the wines. All are worth seeking out but it’s the second sweetest of the styles, Boal, that

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Port – Derby Telegraph Sat November 29th 2014

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Late afternoon, a few years ago, at the renowned Niepoort winery in the Douro region of northern Portugal, I was casually asked if I’d like a Portonic. At the time, I’d no idea what a Portonic was but, without hesitation, I nodded my assent because, well because, I’m such a pro and because – surely – no good ever comes from refusing a drink! Anyway, it was clearly the right decision and I was rewarded with uplifting floral flavours and a concentrated but dazzlingly, refreshing spirit finish. Ridiculously easy to make, a Portonic is comprised of 1/3 Niepoort D

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Christmas bestsellers – Derby Telegraph Sat November 22nd 2014

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Last weekend, at our big Christmas tasting, a 100 customers wandered leisurely around our shop and function room, tasting from a selection of 45 wines. For most, it was a case of ‘pick and choose’ but there were a few – easily spotted – courageous ‘completists’ who bravely managed to sample all 45. Such dedication to duty! Pleasingly, all the wines achieved sales on the night and people were very complimentary about the flow – no pun intended – of the event. I could pick out my favourite wines from the tasting but I think it’s more interesting

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Songelier – Derby Telegraph Sat November 15th 2014

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Most of us are familiar with the term sommelier- a wine waiter skilled at matching wine with food. Well, now, it seems there’s a new talent in town. At a recent trade tasting, I bumped into good friend and fellow wine merchant, Jon, who, with a wide grin and an ironic drum roll, introduced me to his friend, “Meet Mark, the world’s first Master Songelier.” Now it made sense. As a keen music fan, I’d instantly recognised the ‘songelier’ as BBC radio broadcaster, Mark Radcliffe, and had wondered what he was doing there. Having a wheeze, picking out wines to

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Bordeaux – Derby Telegraph Sat November 8th 2014

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Wine lore has it that ‘Burgundy is for the heart and Bordeaux for the head.’ It’s an old adage that neatly, albeit simplistically, pinpoints the stylistic differences between the red wines from these, very famous and very different, wine regions. Putting flesh on the bones with a flourish, wine critic, Victoria Moore, winningly writes, “Bordeaux is said to be cerebral: the algebra, the musical theory, the astrophysics and the essay; Burgundy, meanwhile, is a scintillating flare of emotion and pure being that eclipses thought like the sound of an operatic aria o

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MW in Spain – Derby Telegraph Sat November 1st 2014

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Becoming a Master of Wine is fiendishly difficult and very few of those who try – a mere 10% – succeed. Currently, there are, across the globe, only 312 people who have successfully marshalled their resources, diligence and intelligence to make it through the costly three year course and achieve the coveted Master of Wine (MW) qualification. To put that in perspective, there are more qualified rocket scientists worldwide than there are MWs. According to the Masters of Wine website, “A Master of Wine (MW) is someone who has demonstrated, by way of rigorous exa

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Fortify yourself – Derby Telegraph Sat October 25th 2014

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Christmas is around the corner and fortified wines, ignored for much of the year, are very much in demand. Port spearheads this seasonal surge and is undoubtedly the UK’s favourite winter warmer but there are many other fabulous fortifieds out there and I’d like to shine a light on a couple of my favourites. Before I do, I’d best explain what a fortified wine is. A fortified wine is simply one that’s had brandy added to it to boost its alcohol content. The amount added varies from country to country and from region to region. Sometimes, only a small amount is a

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Withnail and I – Derby Telegraph Sat October 18th 2014

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Recently re-released cult classic, Withnail and I, is one of the most quotable films of all time and, especially revered, is a scene where the dishevelled and debauched Withnail drunkenly shatters the genteel calm of a provincial tea room with the outrageous demand, “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here and we want them now!” Obviously, I don’t approve of bellicose bellowing in tea rooms but what a glorious mission statement! In the film, Withnail’s request for the very best is refused and the police are called. Here, at Worth Broth

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The Tea Leaf – Derby Telegraph Sat October 11th 2014

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The question I get asked the most whilst hosting wine tastings isn’t, as I’d love it to be, “Can I order by the lorry load?” but is instead, “What’s your favourite wine?” It’s a great question but, somewhat frustratingly, it’s an almost impossible one for me to answer. Why? Well, there are so many great wines and they all, from the humblest to the highest, have their own particular appeal. Some are sublime with a simple picnic on a sunny day, some are serious and cerebral and others evoke memories of great times with good friends. Ultimately, it all d

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Hard Tour – Derby Telegraph Sat October 4th 2014

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The aggressive rallying cry of yesteryear – ‘Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’ – isn’t, as you’d probably expect, much heard in wine circles. The wine world is, by and large, full of fairly genial types who, despite enjoying a drink or two or ten, rarely feel the need to ‘step outside.’ So, I was amused and somewhat confused, a few years ago, to be invited on the ‘Hard Tour,’ a wine trip named after the aforementioned provocative chant. I was intrigued and wanted to know more. Here was the offer, did I want to embark on a four da

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Wine and swine – Derby Telegraph Sat September 27th 2014

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Today, if I get a break from manning the wine tent, I’ll be tucking into a hog roast, with my fellow villagers, at the annual Kirk Langley field day. So, what better a time for some pork and wine matching suggestions? The nation that truly reveres, loves and respects the pig is Italy and, as you’d probably expect, given such piggy passion, its red wines, especially those from Tuscany and Piedmont, are an absolute joy to drink with pork. So, vino rosso and porco pairings it is! Porchetta is by far the most popular pork dish in Italy and almost a national obsession.

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Licence to chill – Derby Telegraph Sat September 20th 2014

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Summer time guests who ask for a glass of red are usually surprised and often a little concerned to see me make a bee line for the fridge. After all, the rules are clear and known to most of us – white wines chilled and reds at room temperature. Trouble is, the custom of drinking reds at room temperature was established centuries ago when indoor temperatures were far lower. Nowadays, in centrally heated buildings, reds served at room temperature are just too warm. Restaurants should know this but often don’t. Have you ever tried asking a supercilious sommelier to f

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A – Z of wine – Derby Telegraph Sat August 23rd, Sat August 30th, Sat September 6th & Sat September 13th 2014

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Alcohol: Where else could I start? In wine, alcohol is produced by yeasts fermenting sugar in the ripe grapes. Alcohol itself is tasteless, but it does affect the way that wine tastes. For a wine to be perfectly balanced, the alcohol level shouldn’t be noticeable. Any feeling of hotness in the back of the throat means the wine is unbalanced and best avoided. Bardolino: The light, juicy, cherryish, Bardolino wine takes its name from the town of Bardolino on the shores of Lake Garda in north-east Italy. It’s stylistically similar to Valpolicella, can be drunk chilled

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South Africa – Derby Telegraph Sat August 16th 2014

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Is there a better place for the wine tourist than South Africa? As a recent returnee from a quick buying trip I’d say no. Stunning scenery, restaurants galore, a low cost of living and a wine industry hitting peak form makes for a winning combination. So impressive are the winelands it’s easy to forget how things used to be. We’re all aware of South Africa’s apartheid past but perhaps not of the lingering problems it left for the country’s developing wine industry. Nelson Mandela’s release may have signalled a new beginning but that was in 1990 and in the 1

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Sauvignon Blanc – Derby Telegraph Sat August 9th 2014

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It’s always exciting trying something new and the world of wine offers the adventurous drinker almost endless scope for discovery. I love coming across wines made from grapes I’ve never heard of and it happens a lot more often than you might expect. That’s because there’s an incredible number of different grape varieties used to make wine, ranging from the familiar to the truly weird and wonderful. From Aglianico to Zweigelt, there are well over a thousand different grape varieties – more than enough to keep me going until the time comes to hang up my tasting

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Food and drink – Derby Telegraph Sat August 2nd 2014

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Guilty pleasures was the theme of Food and Drink on BBC2 earlier this week and the pièce de résistance of indulgence came right at the programme’s end, when Michel Roux’s immensely rich, salted caramel and chocolate mousse was paired, for the mother of all sugar rushes, with Bodega (winery) Fernando de Castilla’s deep, dark and mysterious Antique Pedro Ximenez Heady stuff for Michel and the gang but what exactly is Antique Pedro Ximenez and why does it promote such rapture in all who try it? Pedro Ximenez (or PX) is an intensely sweet, dark, dessert sherry mad

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Femme fatale – Derby Telegraph Sat July 26th 2014

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This hot, hot summer, I recommend escaping into the shade and indulging in a glass or two of the most alluring of all red wines – Pinot Noir. But only if you know what you’re getting into! Of all the grape varieties used to make wine, Pinot Noir is by far the most annoying. Its temperamental nature frustrates winegrowers and wine drinkers alike but the quest for Pinot perfection goes on. Why? Because when it all comes together there’s really nothing else like it. Pinot Noir is the most feminine of all red wine grapes and at its best possesses an unparalleled

TASTING TENT

Have tent will travel – Derby Telegraph Sat July 19th 2014

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‘Have tent, will travel’ seems to be my watchword this summer. With the weather so glorious, there’s a huge demand for ‘under canvas’ group wine tastings. As a result, I’m hosting events all over the place and moving my tent more often than most travelling circuses! Here then, whilst they’re fresh in my mind, are a few wine tasting tips guaranteed to enhance your drinking pleasure. It may look slightly silly and possibly pretentious but ‘nosing’ is essential when considering a wine. Crucially, the most sensitive bit of what we refer to as our sense of

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Tour de France – Derby Telegraph Sat 12th July 2014

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Apparently, in the days before energy drinks and lycra, competitors in the Tour de France would stop en route at local bars and fill their water bottles with wine and cognac. Bravo les hommes! Here, as a salute to the joie de vivre of these old school cyclists is a quick guide to the wines they would have encountered on the way. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to some ‘refuelling’ of your own. The Loire Valley in the north-west of France is the perfect place to slake a thirst as it’s home to the zingy and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. The two most famo

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Quaffing quotes – Derby Telegraph Sat July 5th 2014

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‘Wine is a friend, wine is a joy; and, like sunshine, wine is the birthright of all.’ Andre Simon Wise words but Andre, as you may have guessed, wasn’t from these shores. Rather, he was a much respected, French born wine merchant and wine writer who made England his adopted home. He charismatically led the English wine trade for the early part of the twentieth century and has an annual wine writing award named in his honour. Simon died in 1970 just as wine in the UK was beginning its, slow and still ongoing, journey to become a drink for all. In the 1970’s, mor

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Sofa slurping – Derby Telegraph Sat 28th June 2014

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Don’t cook just eat is the simple and hugely successful message from the biggest player in the UK takeaway market. It’s a call to inaction that’s never really resonated with me but it has, rather amusingly, recently been endorsed by the fire brigade. Apparently, the incidence of household fires increases dramatically during big sporting events as sozzled supporters try and fail to feed themselves. So, with public safety in mind, here are a few wines to drink with a takeaway whilst watching Wimbledon or the World Cup. First off, it’s got to be fish and chips, ev

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Drinking outside the box – Derby Telegraph Sat 21st June 2014

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World Cups are the perfect time to try a little ‘drinking outside the box.’ With sixteen wine producing nations competing in Brazil there’s plenty to stir the imagination and the UK, as the world’s biggest wine importer, is unparalleled when it comes to customer choice. So, this month, I’d encourage you to keep the cork in your favourite tipple and embrace the spirit of the World Cup by discovering something new and exciting. After all, it only comes around every four years! Italy is second only to France in wine sales to the UK and enjoys the prestige of bei