Monday, 24 December 2012

Here's to 2013!

Merry Christmas everybody!!
2012 has been an amazing year with new wines and changes + 5,000 pageviews hit earlier this December!!
The blog needs a refresh and new material but fear not, TippleTips will be back in 2013!
Cheerie O

Friday, 10 August 2012

Tippletips on hols

TippleTips is having a little break at the moment but check out the Twitter feeds for more regular updates on Top Tipple Tips!

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Wines of the week #34: The Jubilee 8-carat Diamond case

Hi all,

Ok, so maybe the Queen will have to get her royal umbrella out for the Jubilee celebration this weekend but that will not prevent us from trying some jolly good and royally affordable wines!

Here is my 8 Diamond wines for the Jubilee:

- The traditional sparkling wine
I still haven't found anything better value than this Crémant du Jura at £6.99 from Aldi.
It's crisp with persistent but pleasant bubbles that carry excellent baked apple aromas. And no, the bottle doesn't shout 'I am not royal!'

For the English Sparkling, you need to get the South Ridge Cuvée Merret from Laithwaites at £15.99.

- The Family's Italian's best friend: Signore Grigio
My only advice when it comes to welcoming Signore Grigio in your home is not to invite if it comes from half-pricio-di-venezie-di-supermarketo. My pick of Pinot Grigio at decent price is the Alessandro Gallici Pinot Grigio at £7.49 from Laithwaites. It's crisp, it's got citrus and a lot more elegance and charm than his colleagues mentioned above. Have it with your starters or with some prawn cocktail or white fish on the grill.

- The aromatic White garden sipper
Now the sun has got to make an appearance this weekend. It just has. So, when that's finally the case, grab a  bottle of Marques de Riscal Verdejo at £6.99 from Majestic. It's got white flowers, white stone fruits and citrus and a bit too easy to drink. Also, very nice with a creamy chicken salad.

Rueda Blanco - Majestic Wine

- The Sweet summer fruit salad wine
Fancy a tipple of a low-alcohol wine with a little bit of spritz and deliciously sweet Muscat grape flavours to go with your fruit salad? Ponder no more: get the Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'Asti for £8.99 at It's 5.5% alcohol, full of body and flavours and just delicious!

- The Sunset Rosé

Imagine yourself on a warm terrace looking at the sun setting over the Posh & unaffordable yachts in a small typical Provence port like St Tropez. Now, drift back to reality and have a sip of this simple but elegant Grenache-based rosé with delicate aromas of summer red fruits. You're there, it's the Coeur de St Tropez Provence Rosé at £7.49 from Laithwaites.

- The Banquet red
Nothing better than a quaffable red to start with a nice bacon roll, sausage roll, ham sandwich or some good ol' French charcuterie. And for that, there is nothing better than a Beaujolais Villages. Full of red cherry & berry fruit, it's got enough acidity to keep all of you coming back to it and create a jolly good sense of camaraderie. Louis Jadot £7.39 in Waitrose (on offer).

- The elegant Antipasti red
The Allegrini family might not be royal stricto sensu but their wines definitely are. The winter warming red Amarone is a divine beauty and could appeal to the Queen's wallet at £55/bottle. At the other of the spectrum, Allegrini also does a delicious Valpolicella from the Classico area (demoted due to screwtop) that is full of elegance, delicate and soft black cherry flavours and has got a lot of complexity for a wine at £9/bottle from Get your prosciutto, grissini sticks and antipasti out, it's Valpolicella time!

ps: the picture is definitely NOT doing justice to the wine...

- The BBQ wine
On to the serious boys stuff now, a real BBQ requires a sturdy fruity Shiraz to go with these grilled steak, lamb chops and burgers. My pick: the Redbridge Creek Shiraz from Sainsbury's at £5.49. It's just got enough body to got with both Aberdeen Angus beef & English pork sausages and it's juicy with some delicious redcurrant flavours.

Whatever wine you try during this long weekend, enjoy it, keep calm and carry on!


Friday, 25 May 2012

Wine of the week #33: Beaujolais-Villages (Red/France)

Hi all,

After a Februaresque April and beginning of May, the Summer has suddenly hit us with a passion! Hooray!
To celebrate these warming rays of sunshine, I have been out to try some 3 reds to sip out in the garden.
3 Beaujolais-Villages from Waitrose, The Oxford Wine Company and Asda. And the winner is:

It is
A dry red wine made from the Gamay grape in the region of Beaujolais, a few dozens miles north of Lyon.

Appearance: very light purple
Nose: red cherries and a bit of violet
Palate: a lot of fruit with generic red cherries all over, a bit of bubblegum, banana and violets. The texture is light & smooth, the alcohol low (13% that feels like 12%). A very good balance between acidity and fruit. Not complex at all and sometimes borderline on artificial flavours but pleasant overall. No tannins.
Score: 12/20


Have it with:
On its own or with some saucisson (Waitrose's Label Rouge) or  any cold cuts like Parma Ham, Mortadella, etc. and soft light cheeses like Caprice des Dieux, a very light brie with a nice baguette.

You'll like it if you like: nibbling red cherries in the sun, picnics, light reds e.g. Valpolicella, Dolcetto, Old world Pinot Noir, not using a knife to 'part' the bread, cheese and saucisson, a table of 24 with 23 people you don't know, etc.

Where to find it:
1) Waitrose - Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages - £7.49 - 12/20
2) Oxford wine company - Beaujolais Villages Frank Besson - £9.99 - More finesse, complexity in fruit with very good balance but slighty dry and chewy tannins on the finish. Would beat Louis Jadot's with food. 11/20
3) Asda - Extra Special Beaujolais Villages - £5 - Yes, it's light, with a good balance and very quaffable but with a clear lack of fruit. A bit too simple and too bland. 7/20

Did you know?
> Gamay, the grape that makes Beaujolais red wine, makes up 98% of the plantings in the region. The other 2% are Chardonnay which makes a great but much simpler wine vs. neighbouring Burgundy.

>  Wine has been made in the Beaujolais region since the 7th Century. 

> Beaujolais has got a reasonably poor reputation thanks to the Beaujolais Nouveau but there are many quality wines made in the area. 

> When considering Beaujolais wines, make the distinction between:
- Beaujolais Nouveau: usually to drink in large quantities when released and forgotten about just as quickly. Avoid.
- Beaujolais Villages: medium quality and 50/50 chance of an average wine.
- Beaujolais Crus: highest quality standard. There are 10 crus in the Beaujolais area: 1. St Amour 2. Régnié 3. Brouilly 4. Fleurie 5. Juliénas 6. Chénas 7. Cotes de Brouilly 8. Morgon 9. Moulin a vent 10. Chiroubles. If you find one under £10 in the UK, jump on it. You shouldn't be disappointed.

> I strongly suspect the Louis Jadot wine to have been made via carbonic maceration, whereby the grapes are left a few days to macerate before the actual fermentation to give the wine a little bit more colour and also these banana, kirsch and violet flavours that turn it into a little fruit bomb.

Enjoy your wine this weekend!


Friday, 18 May 2012

Wine of the week #32: Moscato rosé (Sparkling/Sweet)

Hi all,

After all the fuss that was made about the low-alcohol Moscato mainly in the US and a bit in the UK, I thought I would have a taste at three different Moscato Rosé this week. The perfect ladies' night drink with less than 6% abv, light fruity flavours and lot of sweetness. 

It is
A medium-sweet frizzante Rosé made from Moscato grape grown in...Australia!

Appearance: light pink salmon colour & no fizz visible in the bottle at purchase.
Nose: sweet red berries, hints of flower.
Palate: persistant creamy fizz to start, generic summer red fruits flavours and long medium-sweet finish. Good balance between sweetness, fruit flavours, fizz and acidity.
Score: 10/20


You'll like it if you like: sweeties, girly night when you can drink but stay in control, into low alcohol wines, raspberries and strawberries, fruity rosés.

Have it with:
Anything but your main meal. Great for apéritif on ice on a hot summer day with crisps and amuse-bouches.
Try it with bacon, cranberry & brie. Potentially all combined. ;)
Also worth a try with light fruit salads.

Find it in:
1) Laithwaites - Nine Tails Moscato - £8.99. Not a pretty cork but the most decent example tried. 10/20. See above
2) Tesco - Jacob's Creek Moscato Rosé - £7.79. A prettier bottle with surprisingly less fruit and more acidity. 8.5/20. Drink ice cold?
3) Sainsbury's - Banrock station Pink Moscato - £5.49. Less fizz, a lot of sugar & little taste. Also, how can they call this a 'fine wine' on the bottle?? 6/20

Key question: What I do with these now?

Did you know?
> Moscato is Italian for Muscat. The same type of grape you can find in dry Alsace wines or sweet Muscat Beaumes de Venise, some Greek, Australian (Rutherglen) sweet wines.

> Moscato/Muscat is a very aromatic grape that is also suitable for table consumption. It is one of the only grape with dual usage.

> In Italy, the main regions for Moscato are Piemonte (slightly fizzy Moscato d'Asti), Sicilia and Sardegna (Moscato di Cagliari and di Sorso Sennori).

> The Moscato shown above come from Australia. Mhhmm!?

Enjoy your wine!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wine of the week #31: Douro (Red/Portugal)

Hi all,

Another short week (yeahh!) and a Friday coming sooner than usual!
This week, I wanted to check out a Decanter 4-star rated Douro from Sainsbury's and under £10. And yes, it just about made it ;-p !

It is
A dry red wine made from Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca & Touriga Nacional from Douro in Portugal.

Appearance: medium ruby with purple tinges.
Nose: a lot of light floral aromas (violets), a bit spice and indistinct berry fruits. Very fragrant.
Palate: a very supple and smooth texture, fresh black & red berry fruits (blueberries) and hints of sweet spices. The wine first feels almost thin but aromas and the alcohol build and gently warm up in the palate to create a round but firm and structured wine. The finish is a little bit dry and more on the spice but with a good acidity and not unpleasant at all.

Score: 16.5/20 (taking into account price)

An elegant, smooth and fairly complex red wine with floral (violet), berry (blueberries) and sweet spice flavours for the price. Definitely a great buy!

You'll like it if you like: blueberries, sweet spices, a change from half sweet Aussie Shiraz.

Have it with: 
Herby lamb, grilled chicken or even a creamy red pesto pasta.

Find it:
Sainsburys - Taste the Difference Douro - £8.99 - See above.

Did you know?
> Douro is named after the river 'Duero' that goes from Spain into the Atlantic on the Portuguese side at Porto.

> Douro is also the region where Port is made. In fact, all the grapes is in this particular wine are the main grapes that make usually make up Port. Only half of the region's plantings is used for Port.
> Douro is one of the first and hence oldest wine region in the region to have an official delimitation. The Douro demarcation dates back from 1756. 

> There are about 100 different varieties allowed for the making of the Douro DO still wine.
The beautiful scenery with the Douro river
and the steep vineyard terraces along it.

> In Portugal, the DO (Denominacao de Origem) and the DOC (Denominacao de Origem Controlada) are the highest quality levels for wine and are very similar to the French AC and AOC appellations.

Enjoy your wine!!


Friday, 4 May 2012

Wine of the week #30: Crémant du Jura (Sparkling Chardonnay/France)

Hi all,

Unfortunately, no time for a full blind tasting this week but a superb value sparkling wine anyway from a very unusual wine seller (Aldi) and a much better value alternative to entry low quality Champagnes!
Special thanks to Sarah for this tippletip!!

It is
A dry sparkling wine made only from Chardonnay in the region of Jura, in the North-East of France.

Appearance: pale lemon, relatively thin and numerous bubble strings in the glass.
Nose: apple crumble & some citrus hints
Palate: tonic bubbles that soften up on your tongue to leave delicate pleasant green apple & citrus flavours. Good balance between the crisp acidity and the fruit flavours. Hints of biscuits/crumble give a little bit more complexity and pleasant finish.


Score: 15/20 (taking into account price)

You'll like it if you like: very dry ciders, sparkling wines (not frizzante), a bloody good deal, partying with friends, underdogs, dry Prosecco, Champagne more on the more than the biscuits autolytic flavours, an 'apéro' with the salted peanuts & amuse bouches; cava.

Have it with:
Not sure it's best drunk on its own. Might be a bit too dry.
Would recommend either with salted nibbles before dinner or with creamy fish or even homemade fish & chips. The idea to get something creamy or a little bit oily but not too heavy.

Find it:
1) Aldi - £6.99 - Philippe Michel - Crémant du Jura. 15/20. Also recommended by Jancis Robinson & Sarah.
2) Laithwaites - £9.99 - Roche Lacour - Crémant de Bourgogne. Not tried.

Did you know?
> Jura is not very well known in the wine world. It is tucked between very famous Burgundy and the underdog Switzerland and was once a very big wine region with 20,000ha of wines cultivated in the 19th Century (now down to less than 10% of this).

> Jura produces Crémant but also some vin jaune and vin de paille. Vin jaune ('yellow wine') is made by using the same technique as for Sherry. A wine is fermented from late-harvested local Savagnin grapes and then put in casks where a film similar to flor develops on top of the wine ('le voile') and gives the wine a very distinctive oxidised taste.
Vin de paille ('straw wine') is made from Savagnin grapes traditionally dried on straws, then creating a rich sweet white wine.

> Aldi is probably the best discounter when it comes to wine. They also have award-winning Cava (£4.48) and Prosecco  (£6.99) worth considering.

> The appellation 'Crémant du Jura' was created in 2005 and now represents 20% of the Jura wine production. The region is ideal for crisp sparkling Chardonnay with a reasonably wet climate that encourage slightly underripe grapes, best for sparkling wines.

> Crémant is the name for any sparkling made like a Champagne but that is not from the region of Champagne. The method and most often the grapes are the same so you can find, especially in the UK, much better from Crémant vs. Champagne.

> You can find Crémant in Alsace, Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Jura, Die, Loire and Luxembourg. Take your pick!

> I tried this Crémant at 4pm this Friday afternoon and now feel very ready for the Bank Holiday weekend!

Whatever wine you're drinking this weekend, ENJOY!