H Valrasque Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015

Southern Rhone, is where the historic city of Avignon produces a red wine from an area known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape (new castle of the Pope) .Way back in the fourteenth century the Popes residence was not in Rome but in Avignon. Today this area is known for the production of this blended red wine, Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The soil here is unusual in that, it is made up of rock beds, ancient smooth stones of all sizes left behind from Alpine glaciers. Vines are planted and thrive here as the stones  retain the heat from the sun, rapidly ripening the grapes whilst trapping and retaining precious water beneath.

There are fourteen grape varieties that are permitted to create this wine. The three varieties widely used are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Red cherries were the dominating fruit as this delightful wine opened up slowly revealing hints of  liquorice as the cherry faded away into something much softer, earthy with a hint of the barrel.

This wine was enjoyed with a cheese platter, the perfect combination for a lazy Sunday evening. Priced at £12, purchased from Tesco.


Tenuta Rapitala Grand Cru Chardonnay Sicily


Sicily, one of the top regions in Italy for producing large volumes of wine, having a long history in wine making dating back to Roman times. It is said that Julius Caesar favoured a sweet wine known as Mamertine, so this tells us that during the Roman Empire Sicily was growing its native grape varieties and producing wines fit for an Emperor. Native grape varieties are still grown today such as grillo, carricante, nero d’Avola along with other international varieties such as chardonnay. Mount Etna, an active Volcano in Sicily with its black lava soil, extreme environment and terroir manages to produce some of Sicily’s quality red and white wines.

Tenuta Rapital are Sicilian wine producers who have been growing grapes such as grillo,  (a local variety) and producing fabulous quality white and red wines since they established in 1968. The word Rapitala is derived from Arabic, ‘River of Allah’ this refers to the stream on the estate.

Tenuta Rapitala Grand Cru Chardonnay

Out for dinner at one of my favourite Italian restaurants here in Leeds, San Carlo Flying Pizza. Choosing from their comprehensive wine list is always a joy, it’s interesting and offers wines that are a little bit different. On this occasion Salvatore the maitre d along with Giuseppe the wine waiter suggested I might enjoy the Sicilian chardonnay so I took their advice and ordered.

Tasting Notes

  The wine was straw yellow in colour with strong aromas of pineapple, mango and dried exotic fruits. Notes of honey, hints of marzipan and pastry. This wine was soft, fruity and well-balanced with medium acidity. I wouldn’t hesitate to order this wine again and I recommend this wine if you enjoy a more complex chardonnay. It ticked all my boxes this evening as it complemented the food of Italy. Another perfect choice as I continue to explore and taste great wine here in Leeds.



Dakota Deluxe Hotel Leeds

IMG_1186Dakota Bar&Grill and the Champagne Room

It’s always a treat when there’s a new restaurant here in Leeds to try out. Dakota Deluxe Hotel seems to have it all! A great location in the city centre offering fine dinning and new experiences such as, the wonderful Champagne Room where we began the evening. I was impressed as we approached the hotel, it had all the hall marks of quality you would expect from this hotel chain. We were greeted with kindness on our arrival at the door to being seated in the very comfortable and luxurious surroundings of the Champagne Room, an already pre booked reservation before dinner. This relaxing start to our evening was such a pleasure, it was now time to order a bottle of the bubbles!! We opted for the Billecart-Salmon Brut, a wonderful fresh and delicate champagne, one of the classics, family owned since 1818 this champagne has style.

The restaurant, a table for four

A lovely space to dine in, easy on the eye with great lighting. Tables were not too close together and the seating was incredibly comfortable. Well trained professional restaurant waiters/waitresses and front of house were dressed in their own individual style, all wearing black and immaculately presented.

The menu was easy to follow, no frills on the explanations, there was something for everyone’s palate. I started with pan-fried scallops, pea puree, cavolo nero and black pudding, followed by butter roast chicken, truffle gnocchi, Alsace bacon, pea puree and a house salad, finishing with a rhubarb and custard brûlée with rhubarb sorbet. My three dishes were excellent I couldn’t fault a single thing. Tasty, attractive well cooked food, this definitely wasn’t ‘style over substance.’

The wine

The restaurants wine list offered some great choices, showcasing many fabulous wines and champagnes. Depending on your palate, preference and wallet. A wine for everyone along with premium champagnes, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and several others ranging in price from £60 to £250 a bottle. The Billecart-Salmon brut priced at £60 was delightful, a perfect start to a wonderful dining experience at the Dakota bar&grill. At the table we ordered the Malbec 2014 Mendoza Argentina and the Macabeo 2015 Spanish white. Both wines were excellent quality, reasonably priced and a perfect pairing with our food choices. I will definatley be returning very soon to the Dakota Bar&Grill, I loved it here!