Buyer’s Choice: Villa Nueva Torrontés 2014, Argentina

This week we present to you a delicious aromatic Torrontés.  It’s a grape variety unique to Argentina. Our Buyer Holly truffled deep to find a great value example to introduce this aromatic and refreshing variety.

Villa Nueva Torrontes 2

The grape is likely a crossing of Uva Negra with Muscat of Alexandria. It was often planted among other varieties, so it was a while before it winemakers identified it.

Torrontés is interesting and unusual because the aromas suggest a sweet wine.  Despite this, it is almost always made as a dry wine.  It can display characteristics reminiscent of Gewürztraminer.  As such, it’s a good pairing with spicy and aromatic Asian cuisine.

Villa Nueva Torrontes 1

Villa Nueva Torrontes 2014, Argentina – Get it here

Taste: Bursting with lively lychee, peach, elderflower, light and fresh with enough body to make this a great little food wine.

Enjoy It With: Gently spiced Thai or Asian food. Also quite an unusual, but tasty, aperetif!

Know Thy Wine: Torrontés is sometimes described as ‘diet Gewurztraminer’ due to a similar aroma profile. It’s usually less full bodied and fresher in style though, and shares more in common with Muscat.

Our Buyer’s Choice will be open for you to taste in store for free this weekend. You can get it online here.

Buyer’s Choice: Villa Nueva Torrontés 2014, Argentina

Buyer’s Choice – Negroamaro Feudo Dei Tari, Puglia, Italy

Italy. Home of the Romans. Once called Oenotria – land of the vine. There are few countries in Europe that can lay claim to such a rich history of viticulture. Excepting Greece, the spread of the vine in Europe is their legacy.

Puglia has always been an agricultural hub of Italy. A fertile strip, it runs 210 miles from the spur to the heel of Italy’s boot. The Adriatic and Mediterranean provide cooling winds to temper the heat. The name Puglia is from the Roman a-pluvia, meaning ‘a lack of rain’.


Negroamaro is a thick-skinned black grape variety. If you’ve enjoyed a Campari and Soda or an Aperol Spritz, you’ve met the Italian love of Amaro – bitters. It’s a tannic grape variety and capable of some quite rustic wines.

The Feudo Dei Tari co-operative have sourced grapes from several vineyards in Puglia. This way they have blended a style of wine to show its softer side.


Negroamaro Feudo Dei Tari, Puglia, Italy – Get it here

Taste: Black forest fruits and bramble, black cherry and wood spice. It’s a rich mouthful tempered with a classic Italian food-friendly freshness.

Enjoy It With: Puglia is an agricultural hub producing most of Italy’s pasta, fruit and vegetables. A tomato-based dish is a good start – including Pizza.

Know Thy Wine: The name Negroamaro has two potential roots. One is the simple Negro and Amaro – dark and bitter. The other is from Latin and Greek roots for its dark colour; nigra and mavro.

Our Buyer’s Choice will be open for you to taste in store for free this weekend. You can get it online here.

Buyer’s Choice – Negroamaro Feudo Dei Tari, Puglia, Italy

Ivan’s Food and Wine Pairing Secrets

The rules and guidelines for wine and food pairing are subjective and often contradictory. Over the years a lot of rules, basic and not, have been developed. We forgot the golden rule: personal preference is what makes wine work its magic. There is no need to remember pairings between sophisticated dishes and sophisticated wines.

Instead, don’t fall for these 3 myths and you will enjoy wine and food pairings at their best!

Well-known metaphors…

“Red wine with red meat” and “light wines with light dishes”. Heard it before? These are the most known metaphors in food and wine pairing. Indeed, most of the time they work well.

That said, pairing Gamay with a juicy steak won’t show either at their best. An off-dry Pinot Gris will not be the best option for a Chicken Supreme.

Juicy, tasty steak

The message here is simple: these metaphors don’t always work. One of the best ways to avoid these is to think about what king of food is eaten where the wine is produced. For example, Cahors in France is famous for intense Malbec-based wines. This wine is an exceptional pair to the local light trout speciality. Red wine and fish? Who knew.

For best results add Loire wines.

For best results add Loire wines.

The Loire Valley in France is famous for cheese and white wines which go well with them. Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé are superb options to complement delicate goats cheese.

Sweet, sour, bitter and salty…

A little biology lesson from school: our tongue is divided into 4 zones – sweet, sour, bitter and salty. This is not the entire picture. One more taste that our tongue can pick up is umami.

Umami is a taste of glutamates. One of the best ways to describe it is to think of the taste of sushi seaweed. This taste has a great knock on effect on the food and wine pairings. Most of day-to-day foods contain umami. Mushrooms, for example, are umami taste bombs.

To avoid disappointment in pairing wines with umami foods remember this advice:

Umami does not get along with oak flavours. Try to avoid high priced white chardonnays when eating a lot of umami flavor products. Instead, pick lighter wines.

Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.

Caution: Do not pair with hot spice or umami.

Heavily tannic wine is also not good with umami. That’s why older Bordeaux is a popular match with hard cheeses; with time, tannin softens. Try drinking young claret with sweet and sour chicken, though, and you’ll enjoy neither!

Intense fruity wines are also to be avoided with umami. Instead, Alsace Pinot Blanc, Loire Muscadet or Umbria Orvieto will pair with umami dishes at their best.

The sweeter the better…

Many people like to drink fruitier and sweeter styles of wine. Which is, by the way, absolutely fine, just think about a rich German Riesling. Yet, in food and wine pairing sweeter is not better. Sweeter styles of wine are hard to pair and these are definitely not an option for a lamb steak.

If you do enjoy sweeter wines and maybe even like to order a glass of dessert wine, pair it with pudding. They also work well with spicier dishes, such as Thai or Asian. Richer, full-bodied sweet wine also has the body and acidity to complement rich paté.

If you need some tips on food and wine matching, just ask one of our staff in store. Join us for a free in-store wine course and learn all about the mysteries of food and wine matching!

Ivan’s Food and Wine Pairing Secrets

The Best BBQ – Wine Fundamentals

Choosing the best wines for your BBQ isn’t as hard as you might think.  There are some great tricks you can use to make sure you and your friends enjoy great wine with your delicious chargrilled barbecued food.

summer BBQ

Tip 1: Keep it simple

There are a lot of flavours to think about in your average BBQ.  Burgers? Check. Fish? Check. Sausages? Check. Chicken? Check. Vegetable skewers? Check. Glazes? Check. Marinades? Check. Sauces? Check. Salad? Check.

You’d need a full cellar of options if you go looking for the perfect match to everything.  So don’t fret it. Go for a white and a red. Or be maverick and go pink.

Tip 2: Don’t go overboard

On that topic, there’s no need to go large on price – just large on flavour. Fine wines would be a waste, their nuances lost to all the big BBQ char and sweetness.  £10 per bottle should be the top end of your budget. Unless you want to. Or its a big bottle.

Tip 3: Beer or Wine?

Nothing wrong with having both on hand, everybody likes different things.    Beer is a great palate cleanser, and so is sparkling wine. Keeping some fizz on hand is a good shout for those who don’t fancy beer.

Tip 4: What wine?

Full bodied, juicy reds.  Grenache, Malbec, Zinfandel/Primitivo, Tempranillo (so, Rioja then – or Ribera Del Duero) and Barberas for the red.

For white wine, bit more variable.  For chicken and white meat go for New World Chardonnay or Viognier. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is great if you’ve got herby salads and feta.  For seafood, lean towards something dazzling: Albarino, Picpoul de Pinet, or Provence Rosé.

To make things even easier, we’ve put together a list of some of our best picks for your summer BBQ.  And the best part? All of these are sub-£10 (or equivalent) this summer!


Las Maletas Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – Get it here

Taste: Gentle toasted wood, smoke, vanilla and clove, layered over soft plum and damson. It’s rich and mouth-filling but never heavy.

Enjoy It With: The stereotypical answer to Malbec is steak. This is a great BBQ wine and a real crowd-pleaser. Serve with friends and soak up the adulation.

Know Thy Wine: Las Maletas means “the suitcases”. It is part of a collection of wines that take in the best Argentina has to offer.  Pack your suitcase, put on your hat and be ready to indulge your wanderlust.


Papa Luna 2012, Calatayud, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Thick and juicy black cherries with raspberry compote. Rounded and full with a spicy finish and nice grippy tannins.

Enjoy It With: Chargrilled meats – this is Grenache at its most versatile.  Brilliant with burgers, superb with steak, lovely with lamb.

Know Thy Wine: Papa Luna is the work of ‘El Escoces Volante’ Norrel Robertson MW.  The ‘Flying Scotsman’ hails from Fife and makes fantastic wine in Spain.  You’ll find the Crescent Moon of Papa Luna – Pope Benedict XIII – atop the University of St Andrews coat of arms.


Old Vine Zinfandel, Ravenswood, Lodi, California – Get it here

Taste: Ripe black cherry, currants and brambles with vanilla abound.  A rounded mouthful with plenty of body, and a lick of clove to finish.

Enjoy It With: There’s nothing subtle about this wine, so forget delicate flavours.  But then, it’s a BBQ.  Which is the point. Drink and enjoy!

Know Thy Wine: Ravenswood’s motto is ‘No Wimpy Wines’ and this wine exemplifies their philosophy. Lodi County is home to some of the oldest vines in California – their gnarled branches produce some gnarly wines!


Rioja Reserva 2009, Lagunilla, Rioja, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Silky smooth ripe strawberry and raspberry, with lashings of coconut, toast and vanilla.  Soft tannins and refreshing acidity.

Enjoy It With: Juicy, thick, fatty lamb burgers. Or super healthy vegetable skewers if you must.  Surprisingly good with meaty fish.

Know Thy Wine: Don Felipe Lagunilla (for it is he) founded his bodega in 1885.  He was the first to use American rootstocks to graft vines following phylloxera.  As a reward for his pioneering work in Rioja, he gained the title Commendador.


Gran Reserva Chardonnay, Vina Luis Felipe Edwards, Casablanca, Chile – Get it here

Taste: Ripe peach, mango and pineapple atop a layer of dessert apple drizzled with fresh lemon.  On toast. With butter. Unsalted.

Enjoy It With: Sounds big, but is actually pretty refreshing.  Got white meat? Get this wine. Also great with sweeter sauces and good with hot spice.

Know Thy Wine: Luis Felipe Edwards Sr. bought the estate in 1976. They are now the largest 100% family owned winery in Chile. Apparently, the Gran Reserva range is what the family keep for special occasions.  Are BBQs are special enough?  We think so.


Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Brancott Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand – Get it here

Taste: A huge unsubtle gooseberry bush slapping you in the face with its deliciousness. Passionfruit, lemon, lime and fresh apple.  In the garden with grass stains on otherwise clean white shoes.

Enjoy It With: Prawns with chilli, salad with tomatoes. Or quaff while waiting for either.

Know Thy Wine: Brancott  planted the first Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough back in 1973.  On another note, the Brancott wine boxes are a pain to display bottles on top of.  Help a store manager, buy all their stock.


Albarino As Caixas 2013, Martin Codax, Rias Baixas, Spain – Get it here

Taste: Millions of peaches, peaches and cream. With fresh apricot, lemons, and pears diced on top.

Enjoy It With: Squid. Which you probably won’t have on the barbie. Shrimps, though. And chicken. And pork. And grilled veggies.

Know Thy Wine: Caixas are crates into which grapes go.  Grapes which some Majestic staff might well have helped pick.  A few lucky store members head out to help with the harvest every year.


Aix En Provence Rosé Magnum 2014, Aix En Provence, France – Get it here

Taste: Fresh strawberries with rose petal and red apple.  Mouth-filling, refreshing and pink.

Enjoy It With: More flexible than a ballerina, Rosé wine is great with many foods.  Have it with everything.

Know Thy Wine: It comes in a magnum for double the fun.  Technically this is not sub-£10, but it’s two bottles in one so we think it counts.

Happy charring! You can pick up all these wines and more in store or online at

The Best BBQ – Wine Fundamentals

Buyer’s Choice: Las Maletas Malbec

Our Wine of the Week feature is now Buyer’s Choice. This week it is the delicious Las Maletas Malbec.

Malbec is a variety we love. It almost vanished from France in the late 19th Century, remaining only in Cahors. It survived in Argentina, where is has had amazing success. The best vineyards are high in the Andes, where hot days and cold nights ripen perfect grapes.  Over 70% of Argentina’s wine production takes place in Mendoza for this reason.


Las Maletas means “the suitcases”. It is part of a collection of wines that take in the best Argentina has to offer. Naturally, they source fruit from Mendoza. The vineyards are all high-altitude, with low rainfall and lots of sunshine. The result is a delicious wine!


Las Maletas Malbec 2014, Mendoza, Argentina – Get it here

Taste: Gentle toasted wood, smoke, vanilla and clove, layered over soft plum and damson. It’s rich and mouth-filling but never heavy.

Enjoy It With: The stereotypical answer to Malbec is steak. This is a great BBQ wine and a real crowd-pleaser. Serve with friends and soak up the adulation.

Know Thy Wine: Pack your suitcase, put on your hat and be ready to indulge your wanderlust.

Taste Las Maletas Malbec at your local Majestic this weekend, get it online here.

Buyer’s Choice: Las Maletas Malbec

The Truth About Grenache

Grenache. Garnacha. Cannonau. By whatever name you call it, it’s a grape worth knowing about.

20 years ago it was the second most-planted red grape in the world. It has now been overtaken by Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

It produces fruity, sweet-tasting wines with rich texture. It’s becoming increasingly fashionable.

Grenache tends towards higher alcohol.

06314There is more Grenache planted in France than anywhere else in the world.

maprhoneIt’s the principle variety (of 13) allowed in red Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

mapaustraliaIn the Rhône and Languedoc producers blend it with Syrah and Mourvedre.  This style is also made in Australia. (Yes, we know. Coonawarra is a bit to the right.)

Garnacha is the Spanish name for Grenache.  The grape originates in Aragon.

mapspainAs it gets more popular in the rest of the world, the plantings decline in Spain.  It used to cover 90% of red grapes in Navarra.  Now it is only 25%!

Rioja can include Garnacha to add a warm, spicy character to the Tempranillo grape.

14207It takes well to oak, and top quality examples age beautifully, but it can also make great, juicy unoaked styles for early drinking.

14009It’s amazing with gourmet burgers.

It also comes in white!

You can try some amazing wines made with Grenache – find them here!

The Truth About Grenache

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