Wednesday 23 December 2009

Bubbles, stickies and female preachers

Champagne & Sparkling wine

Most ‘Champagne’ is very poor indeed: ‘if it didn’t have bubbles, no one would drink it’ (to quote a Parisian caviste specialising in Champagne). For it to be any good at all it is usually very expensive. If one is not buying into the Champagne marketing legend (i.e. Champagne as a wine for celebration), it is a very poor deal.

Sparkling wine is in our experience even worse. It is only very rarely comparable to even modest Champagnes and never to the best. We reckon is therefore even worse value although cheaper.

Sweet wine

On the other hand, good Sweet wine seems to be relatively easy to produce and most wine-growing areas normally have a very agreeable example. There is a huge price differential between some of these and the accepted classics of Bordeaux, Hungary (Tokaj) and the Rhein where prices start high and go higher and the sweet wines of Alsace, Australia (Orange Muscat etc.), Austria, Banyuls, Canada (Eiswein), Jurancon, Loire (Vouvray), Portugal (Moscatel de Setubal), Malaga, Massandra, Sicilia (Malvasia delle Lipari, Moscato di Pantelleria), South Africa (Constantia), Tuscany (Vin Santo), Veneto etc.

Indeed a hit on Wikipedia furnishes the following list in addition to those above:

Australia New South Wales • South Australia • Tasmania • Western Australia

France Rhône • Languedoc-Roussillon • Provence • South West

Italy Friuli-Venezia Giulia • Lombardia • Piemonte

USA California • New York • New Jersey • Oregon • Washington state

Other Argentina • Chile • Greece • Lebanon • New Zealand •

…and many more. Indeed it may be better to list the regions which do not produce a sweet wine: even England has them.

Wines from out-of-the-way places

Our experience of wines from obscure wine-producing countries and regions such as Brazil, Mexico, Texas, Virginia etc. leads us to the conclusion that it is possible to produce ‘correct’, decent, pleasant, drinkable, enjoyable wines there but as Dr. Johnson said of women preachers, "It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all." and we sadly conclude there is an element of this in the evaluation of these wines, (not that we agree with Johnson who by the way uttered his aphorism without having heard the woman preacher Boswell had just mentioned).

Probably if we lived in Virginia we would make a point of trying as many Virginia wines as possible just to be sure there was nothing truly exceptional or indeed memorable, but the conclusion has to be that it is terroir and tradition that make the difference between these wines and the wines of California or even New York: perhaps an example to quote to anti-terroiristes who argue against the concept categorically?

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Slotovino guide to Wine Merchants

Since inception we have mentioned some of the sources for our purchases. has a directory of participating wine merchants but ours will consist of those from which we have found interesting wine so as to help anyone trying to source the kind of wine we like. Readers are invited to propose additions to the following (editor's decision is final).

We are not attempting to be inclusive: we have left out all the usual suspects so for instance in London we don't mention Berry Bros. & Rudd not because we haven't bought wine there or don't approve of them but because we assume everyone already knows them as one of the best places to buy mainly classic and traditional wines from all the best areas. They are not particularly interested in out of the way grape varieties or wine styles although they may have a few of these on their list.

You will also find some websites, Consortium Outlets and even some airport Duty Free shops; anywhere where you can buy interesting wine, although as mentioned, this is just a beginning:


Buenos Aires:

Disco Supermarkets (chain)

Grand Cru,
Avenida Rodríguez Peña 1886.
Tel: 4816-3975 / 4816-2223

The Winery,
Various locations including Avenida Alem 880 in the centre. Puerto
Puerto Madero and Belgrano.

El Fenix
Santa Fe 1199, Recoleta
Tel. 54-11-4811-0363 / 4811-6384



Australian Wine Centre
Shop 3, Goldfields House
1 Alfred Street
Circular Quay,
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel:: +612 9247 2755



LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). Chain
545 Yonge St,
Toronto M4Y1Y5
Tel: (416) 923-8498

Whole Foods Market (Chain - Ontario and Vancouver)
87 Avenue Road,
Ontario ONM5R 3R9
Tel: 416 944 0500
Fax: 416 944 0700



Les Zinzins du vin,
14 Rue de la Madeleine,
25000 Besancon
Tel: 0381 812474


Maison Gouin,
44 Route d'Apt,
84220 Coustellet
0490 767019


Sebastien Glacon,
23 Rue Montee de la tour,
30400 Villeneuve-lès-Avignon.
Tel: 04 90 14 64 73


Caviste Jacques Baumann (chain)
11 Rue des fleurs,
68100 Mulhouse
Tel: 03 89 46 55 23


Caves Bianchi
7, rue de la Terrasse (Vieux-Nice)
Tel: 04 93 85 65 79

Caves Caprioglio
16, rue de la Préfecture (Vieux-Nice)
Tel: 04 93 85 66 57

Cave de la Tour
3, rue de la Tour
Tel: 04 93 80 03 31

Cote Vins,
14 Rue Saint Francois De Paule,
Tel:04 93 84 63 60

La Vigneraie,
148 Rue St. Francois de Paule,
06300 Nice.


La Cremerie
9, Rue des Quatre Vents,
75006 Paris.

Julien, Caviste
50, Rue Charlot,
75003 Paris.
Tel: 01 42 72 00 94

3, Boulevard de la Madeleine,
Paris 75001.
Tel: 01 42 97 20 20



Király Borház (Royal Tavern) es Pincemuzeum (Cellar Museum)
Western Promenade,
Szent György Square,
Buda Castle,
Budapest 1.
Tel: 06-1-267-1100
Fax: 06-1-267-1100

Bortarsasag (chain - Bazilika branch)
Szent Istvan Ter 3,
1051 Budapest
Tel 061 328 0341



Enotria S.A.S.
Via Cesalpino Andrea 10,
52100 Arezzo.
Tel: 0575 299598

Chianciano Terme:

Coop (chain)
Via della Pace 47,
53042 Chianciano Terme
Tel: 0578 320045


Enoteca Molesini,
Piazza della Repubblica 3,
52044 Cortona
Tel: 0575 62544


Enoteca Vanni,
Piazzadel Salvatore,
55100 Lucca.
Tel: 0583 491902


Via Spadari 9,
20123 Milano
Tel: 02 802 3161

Enoteca Per Bacco
Via Carducci 9,
10123 Milano.
Tel: 02 7428 1110


Enoteca la Dolce Vita,
Via di Vollaia nel Corso 80-82,
53045 Montepulciano.
Tel: 0578 758760


Enoteca Picone,
Via Marconi 36,
90144 Palermo


Enoteca Costantini,
Piazza Cavour 16,
00193 Roma


Al canton del Vin,
Ramo San Francesco,
Castello 3156,
Tel: 041 521 0184

Bottega dei Sapori (Duty Free)
Aeroporto Marco Polo,

Enoteca vino...e vini,
Salizada del Pignater,
3566 Castello,
Tel: 041 521 0184


Monte Carlo:

Wine O'clock,
3 Avenue St. Laurent,
98000 Monaco
Tel: 9797 5744



Gall & Gall (chain)
Voorburgwal 226a,
1012 RR Amsterdam
Tel: 020 421 8370



Coisas do arco do vinho,
Centro Cultural de Belem,
Rua Bartolomeu Dias, stores 7/8,
1400-126 Lisboa
Tel: 021 364 2031


El corte ingles (chain)
Avenida Antonio Augusto de Aguiar,
Tel: 021

Garrafeira Nacional,
Rua Santa Justa 18,
1100 Lisboa.

Lisbon Portela Airport duty free.

Sala Ogival de Lisboa
Terreiro do Paço
1100-148 Lisboa
Tel.: +351 213 420 690
Fax: +351 213 420 691
Mob: +351 916 606


Dr. Francisco de Sá Carneiro Airport duty free.

Vini Portugal
Palácio da Bolsa,
Rua Ferreira Borges 4050-253
Tel: +351 223 323 072
Fax: +351 223 323 074
Mob: +351 916 614 835

Largo S. Domingo 67,



Vinoteca & Enoteca Cropani (Antonio Pacheco Cropani)
Palacio de Cropani,
Calle Alamos 7,
29012 Malaga

Museo del Vino,
29008 Malaga,
Tel, 952 288 499


Casa Pablo

Sevilla: La carte des Vins,
Garcia Vinuesa 25,
4001 Sevilla,
Tel, 952 210 398


Systembolaget (Nationwide Monopoly)

(Sample store)
Regieringsgatan 44,
Tel: 08 796 9810



Weinkeller Movenpick
Hallingerstrasse 101,
4057 Basel
Tel: 061 693 3131

Paul Ulrich,
Schneidergasse 27,
Tel: 061 338 9091

United Kingdom

Beaumaris (Anglesey):

Shaw's of Beaumaris,
17, Castle St.
Beaumaris LL58 8AP

Bourne End:

Bertrand and Nicholas,
Cave a Vin,
14 Furlong Road,
Bourne End,
Bucks SL8 5DG
Tel: 0162 852 5202


Raeburn Fine Wines,
23 Comely Bank Road,
Edinburgh EH4 1DS
Tel: 0131 343 1159

Villeneuve Wines, (chain)
49a Broughton St,
Edinburgh EH1 3RJ
Tel: 0131 558 8441

Valvona and Crolla,
19 Elm Row,
Leith Walk,
Edinburgh EH7 4AA
Tel: 0131 556 6066

Guildford (Artington):

Les Caves de Pyrene,
Pew Corner
Old Portsmouth Road
Artington GU3 1LP
Fax: 01483 455068


Artisan and Vine,
126 St. John's Hill,
London SW11 1SL

Fortnum and Mason,
181 Piccadilly,
London W1A 1ER
Tel: 0207 734 8040

Green and Blue, (also Clapham)
36-38 Lordship Lane,
London SE22 8HS
Tel: 0208 693 9250

Harvey Nichols, (chain)
109 - 125 Knightsbridge,
London SW1X 7RJ
Tel: 0207 235 5000

87 Knightsbridge,
London SW1X 7RB
Tel: 0207 730 1234

Moreno (Spanish wine specialists)
11 Marylands Road,
London, W9 2DU
Tel: 020 7286 0678

15 Circus Road,
London NW8 6PB
Tel: 0207 722 8596

Roberson Wine,
348 Kensington High St,
London W14 8NS
Tel: 0207 371 2121

The Sampler
266 Upper St,
London N1 2UQ
Tel: 0207 226 9500

400 Oxford St,
London W1A 1AB
Tel: 0800 123400

Theatre of Wine,
75 Trafalgar Rd,
London SE10 9TS
Tel: 0208 858 6363

Whole Foods Market Chain (London)
63-97 Kensington High St,
London W8 5SE
Tel: 0207 368 4500

Wine of Course (Zelas),
216 Archway Road,
London N6 5AX
Tel: 0208 347 9006

The Winery,
4 Clifton Road,
London W9 1SS
Tel: 0207 286 6475


Bat and Bottle,
Unit 5,
19 Pillings Lane,
Rutland LE15 6QF
Tel: 01572 759735



Whole Foods Market Chain(across the USA)
525 N Lamar Blvd,
Texas 78703
Tel: 512 476 1206
Fax; 512 476 5704


Heights Chateau
123 Atlantic Avenue,
New York 11201
Tel: 718 330 0963

New York City:

Astor Wines and Spirits,
399 Lafayette St,
New York 10013
Tel: 212 674 7500

North Miami Beach:

Total Wine and More,
14750 Biscayne Boulevard,
North Miami Beach,
Tel: 305 354 3270

Palm Desert:

Jensen Supermarkets (chain)
73601 Highway 111,
Palm Desert,
California 92260
Tel: 760 346 9393

San Francisco:

The Wine Club (chain)
953 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: 415.512.9086 Toll Free: 800.966.7835

Washington DC:

Best Cellars,
1643 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington DC 2009-1013
Tel: 202 387 3146

Calvert Woodley
4339 Connecticut Avenue NW,
Washington DC 20008
Tel: 202 966 4400

Vino Volo 'Flights of Wine',
Concourse C (opposite Gate C4),
Dulles Airport

Schneiders of Capitol Hill,
300 Massachusetts Avenue NE,
Washington DC 20002-5702
Tel: 202 543 9300

Virtual stores

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Where to get it?

Some souls have asked us where the various Slotovino recommendations may be bought, but we are not (yet) a retail or even wholesale outfit. The purpose of our suggestions and indeed of the whole blog is to show that there are many interesting, delightful and delicious wines beyond those made of the ‘noble’ and most commonly found varieties from the established, tried and tested areas. Once we can establish this, we hope readers will be bolder and more inquisitive concerning wines and grape varieties they may never have heard of before. So for every recommendation of ours, there may be many others you can discover for yourselves.

In our reports we have tried where possible also to recommend wine merchants and organisations promoting wines such as Kiraly Borhaz in Hungary, ViniPortugal in Porto and Lisbon and the Museo del Vino, Malaga. These will give you free tutorials and are mostly unbiased even when they are representing a particular country or region, so if our recommendations are not available it is worth asking them for something similar.

If you are in the UK, you can get the Torrontes Etchard from Chapel Place, Tonbridge Wells, the Quinta dos Roques Encruzado from Handford Wines in Old Brompton Road, London, the Chardonnay Pierre Overnoy Arbois Pupillin (Jura) from Harvey Nicholls who also do the Berlioz Chignin. Oddbins used to sell the Vilana Peza Olimpias (Crete) but are probably out of it now. Nicolas sometimes does the Caves Labastide de Levis Loin de l'oieul etc. and Zelas (Archway, London) used to sell the Tornai Furmint from Somlo, Hungary but I see he no longer lists it on his website. The Gran Sasso Pecorino is to be found at The Sampler, Upper St., Islington and Tyrrells Old Winery Semillon is at Smartliquor, Bucks.

You can also get some of the reds from London retailers such as Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge (Nieto Senetiner Bonarda), Zelas (the Emmanuel Houillon Poulsard, Arbois Pupillon, Jura, the Terra Tangra Medos Mavrud/Merlot/Cabernet from Sakar, Bulgaria and the Verre des Poetes Pineau d'Aunis, Domaine Montrieux, Loire), Green and Blue, Dulwich and Clapham (also the Verre des Poetes Pineau d'Aunis, Domaine Montrieux, Loire as well as the Domaine Cousin Leduc Grolleau vieux vignes Jura). In Bourne End, Buckinghamshire you have Bertrand and Nicholas who have the Verre des Poetes Pineau d'Aunis, Domaine Montrieux, Loire too, in Wiltshire, Bowes Wine have the Bouza Tannat from Uruguay as a bin end at a very reasonable £9 per bottle.

On the internet you can find for UK delivery the Don David Malbec at Noel Young Wines, Domaine le Briseau 'les longues vignes' Pineau d'Aunis at Everywine and the Domaine Mercouri Refosco/Mavrodaphne at Kickbar Wines. Nick Dobson Wines is an essential address for any Swiss or Austrian wine. A bit more fiddling around on may produce other stockists of further wines on our list. For the rest, sorry to say you will probably have to import them directly which we know can be an expensive business. We are sorry not more is available in the UK: may uproot some suppliers nearer to where you live, but try our recommended merchants for alternatives and let us know if you make any discoveries!

Sunday 6 December 2009

Orange Wine a Thanksgiving hit

We had been intrigued by Orange Wine previously but taking courage in both hands and with the lure of visiting Artisan&Vine for the first time, we made the trip to Clapham in search of two rarities neither of which we were going to be able to find in Berry Bros. much less the local supermarket.

Artisan&Vine figured in our short but essential list of outfits specialising in Vin Naturel in the UK (see our blog of 29.6.09).
We were looking for the fabled Pais stocked only by 2 other wine shops outside Chile according to Winesearcher: Huasa, Clos Ouvert, Maule and an example of Orange Wine of which Artisan&Vine list two.

We included the Pais in our blog on Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil but didn't go into detail as to why were 'not appointed' by this wine. It was pleasant enough but it's lightness, almost inconsequentiality came at the cost of an abv of 14.5% as well as a hefty finacial price. Still, hats off to Artisan&Vine for importing it and allowing us to decide for ourselves.

The Orange Wine on the other hand was something not only out of the ordinary but well worth seeking out. The explanation of the term in Artisan&Vine's winelist is as follows;

Artisan&vine are delighted to have a dedicated orange wine section of our menu. Orange wine comes from ripe white grapes that undergo „red wine making‟, ie, transformation of whole healthy ripe grapes into wine, before pressing off the solids (skins, pips & sometimes stems). This is in contrast to „white wine making‟ where grapes are pressed immediately so solids are not utilised. „Rose wine making‟ is „accelerated red wine making‟, ie, grapes are left in contact with solids for a short period before being pressed.

and the description of Slotovino's selection

Malvasia "Ageno", La Stoppa, Emilia-Romagna. 60% Malvasia Aromatico, Ortruga, Trebbiano 12.5% abv Amber in colour with fragrances & tastes of peach, pear & sweet apricot. The colour comes from macerating the grapes in their skins with native yeasts for thirty days prior to maturation, which is done half in stainless steel (for fruitiness) & half in French oak (for nuttiness).

The other Orange Wine on offer was just a little bit more expensive and higher in alcohol;
Trebez 2004, Dario Princic, Gorizia, Friuli, Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay 13.5% abv

We poured the former at a Thanksgiving dinner, first as an aperitif and then with the main course, pheasant on this occasion. "Ageno" is not a sweet wine but nor is it really dry. One couldn't call it semi-sweet (ghastly term), maybe semi-dry? It is above all fragrant and floral. It went down a treat even with the most sceptical of us.

So place your order now for Christmas or better still, go to Clapham if you can and with luck, get a tutorial from the charming and knowledgeable Kathryn O'Mara, founder and owner. The restaurant looked enticing, so we are sure a visit would be 'vaut le voyage'.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Slotovino's Christmas reds

In reply to Jancis Robinson's reds in today's FT, we have scratched together the following with great difficulty from our blogs. So whereas Jancis has fielded 34 wines out of the many thousands she has tasted in the last year, we have the same number chosen from the comparatively tiny number we tasted in a period more than half as long again. We may still be ahead on the number of grape varieties but Jancis's list again shows no lack of variety or imagination. She is amazing:

Colares Chitas Reserva 2003 (Ramisco). Portugal. 11%

Fundacao Oriente (Ramisco) Colares, Portugal

Caves Primavera Barraida Tinto Special Selection 2003 (Baga and Touriga Nacional), Portugal

El Lagar Tinto Romé, Sierras de Malaga, Spain

Lalama Ribeira Sacra (Mencia, Brancellao, Garnacha), Spain

Arbois Poulsard Vieilles Vignes, Stephane Tissot Jura 2006 12.5% France

Domaine Schlumberger Pinot Noir, Les Princes Abbés, Alsace, France.

Le verre des poetes, Pineau d’Aunis, Domaine Montrieux, Naveil, Vendome, Loire, France.

Emmanuel Houillon Poulsard, Arbois Pupillon, Jura, France.

Domaine le Briseau ‘Les longues vignes’ Coteaux du Loir, France

Domaine de la Charriere Pineau d’Aunis, (Gigou) Loir, France.

Pineau d’Aunis ‘Les Mortiers’ Loir, France

Domaine Cousin Leduc Grolleau vieux vignes, 2006, Jura, France.

Michel Gahier Trousseau Grands Vergiers 2004, Anjou, Loire, France

Lou vin d’Aqui, Domaine de Toasc, Bellet, France

Gamaret Prestige Barrique Staatskellerei Zurich 2007 13% Switzerland

Cabernet Jura ‘Lunaris’, Staatskellerei Zurich. Switzerland.

Don David Malbec (Michel Torino), Salta, Argentina

Nieto Senetiner Bonarda, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza 2002. 13%, Argentina

Domaine Day Sangiovese, Mount Crawford, Barossa Valley, Australia

Primo Estate, 'Merlesco', Merlot, 13%, McLaren Vale, Australia

Tiberio Canaiolo Colli della Toscana Centrale, Italy

Musarango Malbeck, Veneto Orientale, Italy

Castello di Porcia Malbeck (Societa Agricola Principi di Porcia e Brugnera), Friuli, Italy

Santa Nè, Palari, Etna, Sicilia, Italy.

Pugnitello san Felice, 2004, Toscana, Italy

Pianetta di Cagnore Vernaccia Nera, Marche 2001.13.5% Italy

Bodegas Bouza Tannat, 14.5% Uruguay

Dal Pizzol Touriga Nacional, Brazil.

Terra Tangra Medos Mavrud/Merlot/Cabernet, Sakar, Bulgaria

Bovin Vranec, Macedonia

Domaine Mercouri, Refosco/Mavrodaphne, Peloponessos, Greece

Vitkin Carignan, Central Coastal Plain, Israel

Pellegrini Cabernet Franc, Long Island, New York, USA

Barboursville Cabernet Franc Reserve 2004, 13.5% Virginia. USA.