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.



South African, John Merriman, Stellenbosch Red Wine 2014


Stellenbosch, located just inland off the coast at Somerset West, where mountains surround this wine making region of South Africa. Overtime Stellenbosch has gained a reputation for producing top class wines, often made in a Bordeaux style. Blends of Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are showcased so it is no surprise that in blind tastings they can be mistaken for the very best of the Bordeaux blends.

This delightful wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and the bordeaux grape variety Petit Verdot which adds a little spice and depth of colour to this delicious red wine. Cask matured for twenty months, however is still relatively youthful. Stored in ideal conditions, this wine can go on to mature further. There are pronounced flavours, aromas of blackberry and plums, a fruit sweetness that’s mouth filling, tannins that are soft, acidity low, alcohol 14.5%VOL. Overall a delightful wine that gently opens up to reveal distinctive earthy, meaty undertones on the palate, it really is delicious. This South African red will complement most red meat dishes but can be enjoyed without food.

Purchased from Waitrose £15.99

TH HAUPAPA Pinot Noir 2016 NZ

What a find, this Pinot Noir from Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand where the climate is a little cooler than North Island. Summers can be very hot which accounts for the high levels of alcohol in the wines produced here.

The cooler maritime climate is perfect for the long and slow ripening of this grape, allowing this variety to showcase its fruit aromas and flavours of ripe cherries and berries. This Pinot Noir is so juicy and velvety with a heavenly softness to round it up. There are traces of wild herbs as it slowly opens, exposing hints of damp earth whilst retaining the fruitiness. The subtle tannins hold this wine in a perfect balance. I loved it and would happily drink this wine without food.

Purchased from Aldi and priced at £8.99. I recommend you try it now before they sell out! It really was an enjoyable wine.


Gewürztraminer Villa Maria, East Coast NZ

Do not be fooled into thinking this wine is sweet, loaded with perfumed aromas that may confuse your palate. The very best Gewürztraminers are dry unless its a sweet dessert wine. Gewurz means ‘spice’ in German and spice it most definitely has! With hints of roses, grapefruit, gingerbread, fruit-cocktail, lychees and sweet spice. There was a slight edge of bitterness on the finish. This New Zealand example was an ‘off dry’ well balanced wine with medium – low acidity. Gewürztraminer is the perfect choice with spicy foods such as Thai cuisine, Mexican or your favourite Curry dish.

 The very best Gewürztraminers are the French ones, they have concentrated aromas and flavours, are deep yellow, full-bodied wines. Italy also showcases high quality Gewürztraminers the best examples are from the region of Trentino Alto-Adige.

An interesting wine that I would recommend when serving spicy food. This New Zealand attempt most certainly impressed me and my guests.

Available to purchase from Waitrose,  priced at £10.00



Douro Valley Reserva 2015

A wonderful blend of Portugal’s grape varieties traditionally used in port production. These native varieties blended together have created a fruit filled wine of immense intensity.

On tasting this wine the ripe black fruit aromas and flavours were so pronounced, sweet and juicy. On the palate were blackberry, black cherry, black current and so it went on and on… Mouthwatering, soft, ripe fruit flavours that were beautifully balanced.

Enjoy this wine with slow cooked red meat, a steak or any rustic meaty dish.

Purchased from Waitrose – £8



An old vine Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, NZ


This wine was received from a family friend, a surprise gift. I then stored it in the fridge anticipating when I might taste it.

Here I am now writing my review, having tasted this delightful ‘old vine’ Sauvignon Blanc.  Mouthwatering tropical fruit bursts, limes, lemons and layer upon layer of stone fruit aromas, with acidity adding wonderful balance to this wine. Old vines most definitely bring intensity to this Sauvignon, some may agree that this adds body.

Comparing the Sunday Bay with a Cloudy Bay (another of my favoured Sauvignon’s) I would have to say the Sunday Bay brings overwelming pronounced flavours of fruit that continue to develop as I sip. This wine is recommended to pair with shellfish, creamy pasta dishes or enjoyed simply on its own.

This exciting and thoroughly enjoyable wine is available through most reputable online retailers in the UK. Ching Ching!