Monday, April 9, 2018

HYO Wine Club - April 2018

Welcome to HYO Wine Club!

Every month we will recommend wines for you to try, and we would love to hear what you think of them on our Princess and the Pinot Facebook Page or on Twitter @HYOwineclub #HYOwineclub

CLICK HERE to read more about HYO Club

To JOIN OUR CLUB please sign up to receive the monthly Princess and the Pinot newsletter

For the first month of our new wine club, we are going to showcase two noble grape varieties: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chardonnay suffers from an image problem that was introduced by the oaky Chardonnays of the 1990s. Many people still label themselves as ABCs (Anything But Chardonnays), but it’s time for that to end! Chardonnay is known as the “tart of grapes” because it can be made in any style you want – varying from earthy to fruity and from light to rich. In Burgundy and Italy Chardonnay wines tend to be earthy, and in the New World they tend to be fruity. I have chosen here to three quite different Chardonnays: from France, Spain and Mexico.

Florent Rouve Viré-Cléssé, Chardonnay, Burgundy, France
A crisp yet rounded dry white with peach, honeysuckle and citrus aromas followed by expressive fruit and mineral flavours. Enjoy this delicately oaked chardonnay lightly chilled with meaty white fish in cream sauces or chicken with wild mushrooms. This wine won best supermarket Chardonnay under £15 by Decanter 2016.
From M&S £14.50

Paso Prima Blanco, Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain
Paso Prima is 100% Chardonnay in a fruity style, so should even appeal to ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay). This wine is full-bodied, rich with pineapple and mango, and a lime finish. It has been lightly oaked, giving it a slight nutty characteristic, and has a beautiful creamy texture. Very drinkable!
From Tanners £11.95

Quetzal, Chardonnay / Chenin Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
Although Mexico has a hot climate, Valle de Guadalupe, just above the 30º latitude line, has a Mediterranean climate and is known as the ‘Napa Valley of Mexico’. This wine is heady with lemongrass, lime and a an oily texture, with a salty finish. In parts of Mexico, grapes are grown at high altitude to combat the heat.
From M&S £9.00

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon from the Old World has more herbal and floral flavours such as violets and tobacco with less fruit present. A Bordeaux (Cab Sav / Merlot blend), will usually have hints of black cherries and liquorice along with some earthiness. Cab Sav from the New World are often more fruit-forward and you can also taste black cherry and liquorice, but this time with spicy black pepper and vanilla. The New World wines tend to have a little bit less tannin and acidity, and have more alcohol, due to greater sunshine hours.

Chateau Tour de Pez, Saint-Estephe, Bordeaux, France, 2011
Bordeaux is split into Left-Bank and Right-Bank. Left-Bank is closer to the Atlantic where Cabernet Sauvignon grows well, and Merlot thrives on the right-Bank. This luscious wine, although from the Left Bank is Merlot-rich, making it easy-drinking and ready to drink now. This particular vintage is a steal at <£10 from Aldi, when typically this wine would cost £20+.
From Aldi £9.99

A Tavola! Cabernat Suavingon, Lodi, California, USA
A full-bodied and rich wines, as you would expect from a Cab Sav but surprisingly fruity in style. This Californian Cabernet Sauvignon by director Francis Ford Coppola may have celebrity status, which might put some people off, but it certainly deserves the red carpet. Juicy dark fruts with buttered toast to finish.
From Laithwaites £15.99

Berton Vineyard, Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia
Coonawarra in South Australia is just about the best region for New World Cab Sav, known for growing grapes on its strip of “terra rossa” soil. The 2014 vintage was rated as the best New World Cab Sav in Decanter magazine April 2017. Cherries and fresh blackberries with firm tannins and a lovely long length.
From £14.75

To JOIN OUR CLUB please sign up to receive the monthly Princess and the Pinot newsletter.

We hope you enjoy our recommendations, and please do let us know what you think on our Princess and the Pinot Facebook Page or on Twitter @HYOwineclub #HYOwineclub. To find out more about HYO wine club please visit and we look forward to hearing from you!

We cannot guarantee availability and prices of wines at retailers, please check retailer websites for details.

Host Your Own Wine Club

Princess and the Pinot - Host Your Own (HYO) Wine Club
We have been serving great wines at our pop-up wine bars and would like to get more people involved with trying the wines we recommend. Once you join HYO Wine Club we will send you a list of wines that we recommend to try each month. When you try the wines please tell us what you think on Twitter using @HYOwineclub and #HYOwineclub, or on the PrincessAndThePinot Facebook Page - we would love to chat to you about the wines you've tasted based on our recommendations. Most of the wines will be available on the high street, but some come from independent stores or winemakers. You can try the wines in the comfort of your own home at your leisure, or you can come to our pop-up wine bars to try the wines, or we can help you to Host Your Own wine club. The flights of wine served at our pop-up wine bars will feature the wines recommended for HYO Wine Club, and as a member of the club you can book spaces at our Club Table.

The Club Table
We reserve one table at our pop-up wine bars for HYO Club members. We charge £29 per person and included in this is two tasting flights of our Wine Club flights, which Soma will take you through personally. Then we will serve an additional wine that has been specially selected, with cheese and charcuterie boards. The Table is communal and will seat up to eight people, making it an intimate social evening. Places will be booked on a first come first served basis. To book seats at the Club Table, the person making the booking must be a member of HYO Wine Club.

To find out more about HYO Wine Club, the Club Table, and tips on running your own wine club, please visit

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Books About Wine

Since it's World Book Day I thought I'd share with you my favourite wine books. I've read a lot of them, but these are the ones I go back to again and again.

Reference Books:

Wines and Spirits: Understanding Style and Quality
by Wine and Spirits Education Trust - you get this when you do your WSET Level 3 qualification

Wine Folly: A visual guide to the world of wine
by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammock

The Wine Bible
by Karen MacNeil

The World's Shortest Wine Book
by Simon Woods

The World Atlas of Wine
by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson

The 24-hour Wine Expert
by Jancis Robinson


by Natalie MacLean - I can't find where to buy it, but worth seeking out

Red, White and Drunk All over
by Natalie MacLean

Blackberry Wine
by Joanne Harris


Here's How... To Buy, Serve and Keep Red and White Wines
Issued by The Victoria Wine Comapny Ltd in 1934
Try finding this last one! A friend gave it to me, a truly wonderful present.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Paso Primero wines

Tom, the wine-maker for Paso Primero, started out stacking shelves at Tanners Wine Merchants, and studied wine-making at Plumpton in Sussex. Tom now lives in Shrewsbury and makes delicious wines at an affordable price with Batán de Salas in Somontano. Paso Primero has a white and a red that are fruity and easy drinking. Paso Prima changes each year, as Tome will select the grapes that have been growing well for each vintage; last year was Chardonnay and the year before Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paso Primero Blanco, Gewurtz / Riesling / Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain, 14%
This is not a typical blend in the wine world, but it is very common in Somontano to blend aromatic Gewurtztraminer with Chardonnay.  The Riesling gives the wine a subtle honey characteristic. A very floral wine underpinned with citrus and honey, giving it a lovely mouthfeel.  The floral note disappears leaving a clean finish.

Paso Primero Tinto, Merlot / Cab Sav / Tempranillo, Somontano, Spain, 14%
On the palate the first hit is the Cab Sav with its tannic bite, then the Merlot floods through softening the mouthfeel, finishing on a Tempranillo lift of red fruits, then the strawberry and redcurrant finish makes you crave another sip. Very easy drinking, peppery, smooth, without the burn you might expect to receive from a wine with such high alcohol.

Paso Prima Blanco, Chardonnay, Somontano, Spain, 14%
Paso Prima is 100% Chardonnay, in a fruity style, rather than then the earthy Burgundian style, so should even appeal to ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay). This wine is full-bodied, rich with pineapple and mango, and a lime finish. It has been lightly oaked, giving it a slight nutty characteristic, and has a beautiful creamy texture.

Paso Prima Tinto, Cabernet Sauvignon, Somontano, Spain, 14%
Paso Prima is 100% Cab Sav, in a fruit-forward style. Saliva rushes over the tongue on first sip which fades to velvety tannins coating the roof of the mouth. The heat of the Spanish summer days encourage the grapes to become fat and juicy, and the cooler nights allow them to retain their acidity. Big bam blackcurrant fruit, but with soft edges.

Paso Vermu, Somontano, Spain, 15%
A blend of Paso Primero red and white wines, sweetened with grape caramel, and fortified with grape spirit (brandy), then blended with herbs and spiced. This has been made in the tradtitional style of a Spanish red vermouth. Serve over ice with a slice of orange, or cut it with tonic. It's bitter sweet, herbaceous and tangy.

To read more about Paso Vermu CLICK HERE

To read more about Paso Primero CLICK HERE

To sign up to Princess and the Pinot newsletter CLICK HERE 

Princess and the Pinot members get a discount on Paso Primero wines

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fairtrade Wine

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018 runs from 26th Feb to 11th March. The Fairtrade Foundaiton has been working hard to support the farmers and workers who grow our food. Buying Fairtrade wine ensures the farmers and workers get a fair price for their products, plus a premium to help the community develop education, sanitation and healthcare. The Fairtrade Foundation supports winemakers in South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Lebanon. Why not try a Fairtrade wine this fornight?

Waitrose, Co-op, Sainsbury's and M&S are retailers who stock a range of Fairtrade wines. Fairtrade wines I recommend include the 30' Pinot Noir from Co-op, the Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc from Waitrose, TtD Pinotage from Sainsbury's, and Tilimuqui Organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Waitrose.

Co-op has also supported the first Fairtrade and organic wine to come out of Lebanon - Coteaux Les Cedres. It's a little young, but if you see it, buy it, then leave it in your wine rack for a year and it should be an unusual treat!

If you'd like to know more about Fairtrade Fortnight, CLICK HERE.

If you'd like to know more about Princess and the Pinot, CLICK HERE.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Wine with pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

Ooh, yes, which wine with pancakes for Shrove tuesday? That's a toughie! It really depends on the filling...

Lemon and sugar > sweet, sparkling wine, like Asti, or Nyetimber Demi-Sec
Fresh berries > sparkling rose, like Harrow & Hope, or like Premier Estates Grand Rose if you add sugar to the berries
Golden syrup > orange muscat

Chocolate > sweet red wine or Port

Fruit compote > Tokaji

Savoury cheese / ham / spinach > dry white like Soave or Pinot Grigio

Smoked Salmon blinis > Champagne like this Laurent Perrier from Wine Rack

Anyone giving up wine for lent? No, thought not!

To find out more about Princess and the Pinot please visit

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Paso-Vermu Red Vermouth - Try it you might like it!

I'd never tasted red vermouth before I tried Paso-Vermu. I may have had it in a cocktail without realising, but I'd never actually tasted it. It blew me away! Served over ice with a slice of orange, its bitter and sweet, herbaceous and tangy, and a refreshing change after the 'year of gin'. You can cut it with tonic as a sophisticated aperitif.

It's a blend of Paso Primero red and white wines, sweetened with grape caramel, and fortified with grape spirit (brandy), then blended with herbs and spices. It has been made in the traditional style of a Spanish vermu. It's not been over-processed so will develop in the bottle (before opening). Once open it will last a couple of months in the fridge, or a couple of weeks in the cabinet before it starts to oxidise.

It's only available from a few independent stores, but you can try it at our pop up wine bars in Marlow, Twyford, Wooburn Green, and Little Chalfont. CLICK HERE to find out more about our pop up wine bars.

Vermouth comes from Wormwood, which is also the base for many other bottles in your drinks cabinet including Absinthe and Jagermeister. It was originally made for medicinal purposes and evolved into an ingredient for iconic cocktails. A Martini uses dry (white) vermouth, a Manhatten uses sweet (red) vermouth. Negroni is popular in bars at the moment - try equal measures of Sipsmith, Campari and Paso-Vermu, served over one large ice cube and a curl of orange peel. You can substitute Campari for Aperol, if you're bored of Aperol Spritz, or need a use for it over winter months.

CLICK HERE if you'd like to know more about Spanish Vermu and the making of Paso-Vermu.

CLICK HERE if you'd like to read more about the history of Vermouth and 007's favourite tipple.