Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Bag Lady

I love a good handbag. And given that most of the armful I own are old vintage, I especially love the ones built to last. No mean feat when it's not uncommon to have a bottle of wine stashed inside (for work purposes, obviously) along with the usual wallet/keys/sunglasses combo and any number of squashed sweets. So when I was asked to road test a bag made by Village England, I was delighted. Founded by Julia Dobson, ex-manager at Céline and her friend Eddie Knevett, former head of accessories at House of Fraser, Village England was created to fill a gap in the market - namely beautifully made, practical bags at a fraction of It bag prices (so last season, it's all about slow fashion now: do keep up). This is me with the Beamish, which I love because it's big but not too big, has pockets with zips and different length straps depending on how many hands you need free.

Photo: Juliette Neel
If you like the look of the Beamish, Julia's got one to give away to a KMWC reader (it's worth £250!). Just click here to visit Village England's website and leave your details. Usual T&Cs apply. In the meantime, we'll do wine. 

Current white in the fridge: Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco, £9.99 on offer (normally £13.49), Waitrose
I've tasted a lot of Prosecco wines recently (and wrote a piece on it for the paper here). This one is from the smart DOCG region of Valdobbiadene where some of the best Prosecco Superiore wines can be found. Made from the Glera grape, this one tastes of apples and pears but with a bit more weight to it than most. Simply gorgeous. 

Current red in the rack: Exquisite Collection New Zealand Pinot Noir 2013, £6.99, Aldi
The wines in Aldi's smart own label range are usually pretty good value for money but this one's outrageously good. Made in the south of the North Island, in a region called Wairarapa. And the fairly fussy Pinot Noir grape (it won't ripen properly unless the climate's just right: not too hot, not too cold, not too wet) seems to love it here. Ripe and juicy with plum fruits and a smoky kick, it's a bargain for Pinot. And you can fit two in the Beamish. 

Chin chin x

Friday, 24 April 2015

In The Loop

I've been in London all week, judging at this year's International Wine Challenge. I'm tasting approx. 70 wines a day - then spitting them out, obviously - and making the most of being here in the evenings. Tonight, I was lucky enough to be asked to the launch of The Pool, a new online platform created by Sam Baker (former editor of Red Magazine) and Lauren Laverne. It covers everything from fashion and food to people and politics. I've been dipping in every week since it launched and can highly recommend it. And the wine at tonight's launch party was from one of my favourite Provence producers, Mirabeau. Back with wines next week but in the meantime here's a terribly grainy picture of Caitlin Moran on stage tonight (Lauren's to the right) talking about Leg Season, aka having to get our legs out now that it's sunny *shudders*:

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Having A Laugh

Laughter is the best medicine, or so they say. Clearly they forgot wine, carbs and Codeine but I know what they were getting at. Anyway, one of the biggest successes of the Easter holidays so far has been the comedy workshop that Middle Boy went to last week. Run by my old friend Laura, she's one of the creators of the School of Comedy, holding workshops for 4-16 year olds. It started as an after-school club when Laura was teaching in London ten years ago. She then created a stage show around the children, took it to the Edinburgh Festival (amazing!) and it became the idea behind E4's series of the same name. So, cut to Milford-on-Sea last week and Middle Boy walked into a room full of kids and spent the next three hours making up funny sketches and laughing his head off. He was flying when he came out. Anyway, I wanted you to know about it and if you need details of workshops elsewhere you'll find them here. Now, pass the wine.

Current white in the fridge: Wachenheimer Riesling Trocken, Burklin Wolf 2013, £13.95, Tanners
It's a mouthful to say, but happily it's an incredible mouthful to drink too. From one of the top producers in Germany, they were early adopters of making wine the biodynamic way (think super-organic) and their wines are amazingly vibrant. It's from the Pfalz region and is deliciously crisp, loaded with mango fruit and as floral as a tea dress. Old-timers in the wine trade go ga-ga for good Riesling and I'm sure it's because it reaches parts of the palate other wines can't reach. Just add really salty crisps or a slightly spicy supper. 

Current red in the rack: Tesco Finest Swartland Malbec 2013, £5.99 on offer, Tesco
It's World Malbec Day on the 17th April, held to celebrate the grape that's become Argentina's most famous vinous export. Now, I realise the one I've picked here is from South Africa but a) I'll pick one from Argentina for this week's 'Thank Friday It's Wine' on my YouTube channel (subscribe here if you don't want to miss a thiiiiiing, as Steven Tyler would say); b) it's completely delicious and c) brilliant value. All black cherry and spice, it's made by one of South Africa's winemaking legends, Bruce Jack. Needs food, preferably something meaty. Loved lasagne, as it happens. 

Chin chin x

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Rosé Cheeks

Last weekend, the sun came out. And so did the rosé. There is something about pink wine that hints at summer better than any other wine - and it definitely shines in the sun. This is me, on Easter Monday, at a restaurant on the Isle of Wight called The Hut. If you are ever on the Island, go. They sell rosé by the double magnum (I'm holding an empty one; I had help). The combination of warm sun, cold wine and a delicious lunch with friends was invigorating. I didn't feel quite so invigorated after stealing sharing most of The Husband's chocolate orange Easter egg later that night but still, totally worth it. Happy holidays.

Current white in the fridge: te Pa Marlborough Pinot Gris 2013, £10.95, 31dover.com
If Sauvignon Blanc is the star grape in New Zealand's Marlborough region, then Pinot Gris is shaping up to be the understudy. The colour of the wine is tinged pinky-orange thanks to the skins of Pinot Gris (more red than white) but it's the flavours that are really interesting. This one's typically peach and pear-like and it's got a little more oomph to it than your usual Pinot Grigio (same grape, different take). Made by the MacDonald Family, who seem adorable. As does their farm. 

Current red on the side: Taste The Difference Pic Saint Loup 2011, £8, Sainsbury's
The Languedoc region in the South of France is stuffed full of good reds, often great value too - like this one. It's a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes, creating a juicy, spicy, red berry mash up that was made to be quaffed with sausages. Pic Saint Loup is the name of the wine region as well as the name of a distinctive mountain peak that overlooks the vines. Think baby-Rhone, style-wise.

Chin chin x

Ps. Thanks to my friend Amanda for taking the Instagram pic x