Archive for the ‘Tastings’ Category

Twitter Tasting: Trappist & Abbey Beers (Father’s Day, 1pm)

June 16, 2010

Amended times: Due to a few requests from interested people, I’ve moved the tasting back to Sunday evening, as the afternoon was impractical for those wanting to spend it with their families, or who will be out and about. The schedule below has been amended correspondingly.

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

Trappist & Abbey Beer Tasting Packs

Well I’m sure most of you know the routine by now, but the next Twitter Tasting will be this Sunday (20th June), and will be all about Trappist and Abbey beers from Belgium and Holland. Trappist Beers in particular have a phenomenal reputation for their quality, and encompass a wide range of styles and flavours. If you want to take part in one of our Twitter tastings, it couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is pop by the shop and pick up a Tasting Pack for £15.99 (15% off all pre-orders – the Trappist packs go on sale Thursday afternoon at 3pm). Your pack will not only include 6 fantastic beers, but will also have some basic details about how to use Twitter and how to join in with the tasting as we all tweet live as we taste. The pack booklet will also provide loads of ace material on all the breweries and the beers that we’re tasting, and a little intro from myself about why we’re tasting Trappist and Abbey beers.

The participants in these tastings usually range from the downright obsessive (and awesome) beer aficionados to the complete newcomer. No expertise is required at all, and it’s always a friendly and welcoming bunch.

The best way to get involved is tweet your own thoughts after trying a beer, and then start responding to what other people have said, agreeing or disagreeing with them, and asking questions if there’s anything you’d like to know or are unsure of. And most importantly of all, remember there’s no right and wrong when it comes to tasting! Think something smells like a farmyard? Doesn’t matter if someone else thinks it’s leather, the smell’s entirely subjective and down to your own interpretation, and people always get different aromas and flavours. If you’re really unsure and a bit shy, just stick to something basic like “Mmmm nice!” or “Bleurgh, what on Earth is that?” Nobody will mind, and you’ll quickly pick it up as you go along.

So now you’re curious about tasting some beers right? Well this Sunday’s line-up is below, along with rough tasting times, but feel free to deviate as we go along if there’s any you don’t fancy, or you don’t want to taste all 6 in one sitting.

How it’s going down (sort of):

  • 7.00pm: Maredsous Blonde
  • 7.45pm: Tripel Karmeliet
  • 8.30pm: Orval
  • 9.15pm: La Trappe Isid’or
  • 10.00pm: Westmalle Dubbel
  • 10.45pm: Chimay Red

Any questions, leave a comment on this blog post, give me a tweet, or drop me an e-mail to Ben@thewineyard.co.uk

Or of course, come and see us in the shop or give us a quick phone call on 01524400011.

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Twitter Tasting: US Craft Beers Part I

May 17, 2010

20/5/2010, 8pm – UPDATE: We’ve been absolutely bowled over by the unanticipated level of demand we’ve had for the tasting packs in the last 24 hours. Unfortunately, we’ve now completely sold out of Anchor Bock, and will be unable to get any more in before the tasting. If you’d still like to take part, we’re selling tasting packs with the other 4 beers in, along with the background info booklets, for £9.25. Any packs that were already pre-ordered will of course still have the full set of 5 beers when collected.

I’d like to take a moment to extend a genuine and heartfelt thank you to everybody who has been so enthusiastic and supportive of this little project of mine. The comments and RTs that have been flying around and coming in on Twitter have been incredibly generous and kind, and are deeply appreciated. Rest assured, these tastings will become a regular feature of my Tweeting in the weeks and months ahead. I hope you all thoroughly enjoy yourselves come Saturday, and will be back for more in the future. Cheers!

Twitter Tasting Packs: 5 fantastic beers, background notes on the breweries and their brews, and information about Twitter and how it works, all for £11. Plus you get to be part of the collision between beer tasting and social media! What could be better?

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

Last weekend saw our very first online beer tasting go off without a hitch. A group of us all got hold of a few bottles of the fantastic beers made by the chaps at BrewDog, and tasted our way through 6 of their range, exchanging comments, observations and comparisons as we went, all through the magical medium of Twitter. Not only did it end up being a fun night, trying some very unusual and wonderful beers, but it also proved pretty popular and got noticed by a few who weren’t taking part.

So in response to demands for more of the same for others to join in with, this coming Saturday (22nd May), we’ll be doing it all over again, but this time with some of America’s finest craft beers that are currently doing the rounds in the UK. There was actually 10 beers to choose from that we stock, from 4 different breweries, but to avoid getting too carried away for one evening, I asked our followers on Twitter to choose 2 of the breweries to go with for this tasting, leaving the other 2 for another night.

With a whopping 67% of the vote, the decision has been made to taste the Anchor and Flying Dog beers this weekend. These are two of America’s best-known craft beer producers, creating iconic and unique premium beverages for discerning drinkers far and wide.

The Anchor brewery in San Francisco is world-famous for it’s Anchor Steam Beer which it has been producing since 1896. Every beer is virtually hand-made, in the most traditional of manners, and has been the benchmark of American brewing for generations. Their website is very well put together, and provides lots of background information on the brewers and their story for those of you who are interested.

Our other brewery providing Saturday night’s delights is anything but traditional; a collaborative effort first started in 1983 in a Brewpub in Aspen, Colorado, the Flying Dog project has included the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman amongst its number. Anything but conformist, the Flying Dog beers are original and unique, and considered to be amongst the best in the world. Marketed with Ralph’s controversial artwork adorning the bottles, the beers certainly stand out on a shelf, and over 500,000 cases a year are shipped worldwide from their Maryland facility.

The lineup:

So how do you take part I hear you ask? Dead simple really. Pick up a bottle of each of the beers from the lineup (or just the ones you like the look of, you don’t have to do them all), either from ourselves or another beerspecialist if we’re hard to reach. We’re doing ready-made packs of all 5 beers, along with background notes on the breweries & brews, and info about how Twitter works. All you need to do is call in and ask for a Twitter Tasting Pack, and have £11 ready.

Twitter Tasting Packs, ready and waiting for collection. Let me know you're coming in, and get your own personalised pack made up, including your own avatar and personal tweet written on the side of the box. 😉

Once you’ve got your beers, make sure you have a Twitter account set up and good to go (visit Twitter.com if you don’t already, and follow the sign up process). Look us up (We’re @TheWineyard) and start following us so that you can see my tweets, and feel free to tweet back anytime – I love to chat about anything and everything, not just beer and wine. Come Saturday evening, punch ‘#wineyardtasting’ into the search box on Twitter, and stay on that page. Once we get underway, new messages will start appearing at the top of the search results as others begin tweeting. Crack open your bottle of Anchor Steam around 8pm, type a little tweet with any thoughts (“ooh this smells good” or “What an interesting colour” for example, and make sure you include the phrase ‘#wineyardtasting’ with no spaces in the message so we can all see it show up. Watch what everyone else is saying, and start replying to them, remembering to include ‘#wineyardtasting’ in each message. You’ll be making new beer buds in no time.

Confused? Don’t worry about it, just drop me a tweet (@thewineyard) or an email (Ben@thewineyard.co.uk) with any questions and I’ll do everything I can to help you get set up for a beery night of social media! Any thoughts or comments on the event in general, please do add a comment below.

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

Tweeps taking part:

Interesting stats from Spring Wine Fair 2010

May 5, 2010

Customers at the Spring Wine Fair, 2010

Last week was our eagerly anticipated Spring Wine Fair, where punters got the opportunity to taste up to 77 different wines, and to have an informal chat with some of our biggest and best suppliers about the wines they represent. The evening was a big success, both in terms of profitability for ourselves, and more importantly, in terms of customer satisfaction. We’ve been getting rave reviews from everyone we speak to when they visit us in the shop. Not only was the evening fun, but people found it genuinely useful for their improving their own knowledge of wine and narrowing down particular styles that they prefer.

Suppliers at the Spring Wine Fair, 2010

The suppliers present included Boutinot (Deborah Brooks), Grupo Codorniu (David Pickering), Fells Wines (Sandy McDonald), Enotria Wines (Stephen Lane), De Bortoli Australian Wines (Keith Stone), and Discovery Wines (Paul Shackleton). There were also some of our favourite wines from Ehrmann’s, Vinoceros, and Morecambe Bay Wines open, which we represented on their behalf.

My favourites that I tried myself on the night include the cracking Recchia Valpolicella Ripasso, our new Salvano Barbaresco Riserva 04, Glen Carlou Syrah 05, Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 07, Torres ‘Natureo’ 09, Vina Pomal Reserva Rioja 04, and Alasia Brachetto del Acqui Rosado 09. I’ll be blogging about some of these in the coming weeks as they arrive in-store (some are brand new wines to us, and are not yet on the shelves) so I can snap a photo of them and give you some further background details. If you attended, do get in touch and let me know your own favourites, and what you thought of any of mine that you tried. You can leave a comment on this post, tweet me, e-mail me (Ben@thewineyard.co.uk), or find me in-store most days as well of course.

Some quick stats about Friday’s event:

  • We sold 134 bottles: That’s 99.375l of wine (includes 3 half bottles of desert wine)!
  • 56% of that was red wine, 34% white, and 10% rose.
  • Of the wines opened to taste, 53% were red, 41% white, and 6% rose.
  • The most popular region on the night was Argentina, taking credit for 22% of the evenings orders. Australia was a close second, with 21%, and France third on 19%. Italy gets an honourable mention for 4th on 16%, the rest were all less than 5% each.
  • The most-ordered individual wine was a long-standing favourite of ours: Mas Barrau Cabernet Franc (France), single-handedly accounting for a whopping 10% of all orders. 2nd and 3rd were both Trapiche wines (Argentina): Astica Sauvignon Semillon, and Astica Merlot Malbec.
  • The average spend per bottle was £7.56 (There was 10% off on all orders on the night, so the average value was approximately £8.40/bottle). [tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]
  • The most expensive individual bottle ordered was Glen Carlou Syrah 05 (£16.49). The cheapest was Vistamar Carmenere 09 (£5.25).

Live Brew Dog Twitter Tasting: Saturday 8th May, 8pm

May 3, 2010

Come Wednesday we should have 6 new beers from the Brew Dog boys on our shelves and up for grabs (only a couple of cases of each atm, so don’t leave it too long if you want to get your hands on some). Ordering these beers in was something of a leap of faith on my part, as I’ve only tried their Punk IPA, but I was so impressed (as were others who were trying it with me) that I immediately set about arranging for us to stock their range! So with a day off on Saturday looming, I’m going to be tasting all 6 that we’re stocking at home with some friends (5 for the first time), and getting as many of you to join in as possible through the magical medium of Twitter.

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

If you don’t fancy 6 beers in one evening, then that’s absolutely fine – just join in with the ones that you like the sound of! It’ll all be very informal and fun – There’s a list below of what I’ll be tasting at what time if you want to do it live along with me. Alternatively, just try 1 or 2 of whatever you fancy through the evening and tweet about it with the #wineyardtasting tag so we can all keep tabs on what everyone thinks of their beers.

I’ll be kicking off the beer tasting at 8pm, tweeting like fury as I go, and exchanging thoughts with any who join in. All the tweets will include the #wineyardtasting hashtag, so if you want to keep up with the evening’s goings on, all you’ll need to do is search “#wineyardtasting” on Twitter or visit this link, and you’ll be able to see it update with new messages.

The schedule (likely to fall apart towards the end, but it’s a loose guide for the order as much as anything):

8.00pm: Trashy Blonde Pale Ale (4.1%) – £1.60/bottle

8.30pm: 77 Lager (4.9%) – £1.50/bottle

9.00pm: 5 A.M. Saint Amber Ale (5%) – £1.65/bottle

9.30pm: Zeitgeist Black Lager (4.9%) – £1.50/bottle

10.00pm: Punk IPA (6%) – £1.65/bottle

10.30pm: Hardcore IPA (9.2%) – £2.65/bottle

Click the names of any of the beers to be whizzed off to their respective info pages on the cracking little Brew Dog site, and see what you like the look of. Give me a Tweet if you’ll be joining in or if you have any questions, or alternatively leave a comment on this page. You can also e-mail me, Ben@thewineyard.co.uk

Advice for serving temperatures (straight from a BrewDog man himself):

All the hoppy light beers – just chilled – not overly cold

(It is craft beer – not real ale- so the usual rules don’t apply )

All the stouts room temp

We don’t get too preachy about these things – people know how they like their beer

Our philosophy is never be told how to enjoy something – just enjoy it

Logic dictates, stick Punk etc on ice but don’t freeze out the hop

You will kill the flavours on the stout if you chill it

The anomaly is ZG (Zeitgeist) which although a lager actually develops in flavour as it comes to room temp –so you can go either way on that one – dealers choice

People planning to take part:

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

What people are Tweeting about the event (hit that little retweet button to the right and edit the text to tweet your own comment, just leave @thewineyard in your message so I see it come up!):

@dartogreen: “I love the cool social networking marketing approach of a live twitter tasting!”

@relucantscoop: “Six Brewdogs in one evening? Sounds like my regular Saturday night ;-)”

@HowmanyGills: “I’m a huge fan of Brew Dog. They do some incredible stuff. What’s the list and I can get @Rakebarto sort me out”

@marieiram: “heehee! are the ones at 10:30 going to be BEER IS BRILLIANT! I LOVE YOU GUYYS! ?”

@neil_bowness: “need to make a trip down to see you first and pick up some Brew Dog beers, hope @brewdogjames appreciates my 40 mile round trip”

@BlueVanMan1: “Sounds great, I will try my very best. Just have to manage to get there before Saturday to get the beers in….”

@Brewdogsales: “Get involved + check out the guest casks on @ Morcambe Bay Wines [our parent company] this May/ June”

@KristianHolt: “I’m there 🙂 what a great idea.”

@PrintedSpace: “I’m there also 🙂 what a great idea.”

@DClancs: “very nice, defenitely up for your live tasting, im really looking forward to the tipsy tweets :D”

@quirkytraveller: “*Excellent beer tasting”

@PeteBrownBeer: “Very tempting! Sadly I’ll be on a train back from Ludlow…”

@PJMontgomery: “Let me know when you do another one, I’ll totally be there!”

@louiseheasmanuk: “I’m not a beer drinker but I love the concept! Let me know how it goes – would love to know!”

@mcdent: “I’d like to Ben but may not have chance. Sounds great though! Will you be suggesting drinking temperatures?”

@mcdent: “I’m liking how you have ramped up the %abv, from a sober 4.1% right up to a cheeky little 9.2% :)”

@HowmanyGills: “There’s a Brewdog tasting tomorrow hosted by @TheWineyard on twitter. Details here http://wp.me/pIB8p-4w. Awesome idea. ( CC @BrewDogJames )”

@Antipathy: “Am gutted I can’t do this – looking forward to other twitter tastings in the future though!”

@BrianSheldon: “Zeitgeist = Guinness Black Lager. Gorgeous :-)”

@DClancs: “tried Punk IPA whilst watching the election last night, very impressed :)”

@MamaJunkyard: “The twitter beer tasting is such a great idea – hope it goes well”

Chilean Desert Wines

April 26, 2010

CYT Late Harvest Sauv Blanc & Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

Last night I gathered a bunch of friends to try a couple of Chilean desert wines with a homemade lemon tart (recipe courtesy of @SareySue). The tart in particular generated a lot of interest on Twitter from the likes of Mel D, FoodyPhil, BlueVanMan1, Marieiram, and TEDavis, and was a great success. It was a Rick Stein recipe, and was my first bash at pastry in recent memory. The base was nice and biscuity, and the filling was soft, creamy, rich, dense, full of flavour, zesty, tart and refreshing. The combination of the sharpness of the lemon and the richness of the cream and eggs in particular made it a bit of a challenge for me to work out what to pair with it, so I decided to try a couple of different styles of wine against it, both Late Harvest sweeties from Chile.

Six of us were tasting together: Me, Rob, Sonia, Paul, Steve, and Charlotte.

First up was Concha Y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (£5.99), a tart, crisp and refreshing desert wine that was surprisingly light and sharp in style – the citrus and gooseberries you expect in Sauvignon were definitely showing through, despite the sweeter and more intense nature of the wine. It was a zippy little number with bags of citrus flavour. Paul, Steve and Rob went for this wine with the tart as their preferred pairing. Rob in particular was keen on the match, but preferred the second of our wines on its own.

The rest of us opted for the Vistamar Late Harvest Moscatel 2009 (£5.59) with our lemon tart. The wine was much richer and more honeyed, with flavours of caramel and apple sauce, but nicely balanced with refreshing acidity to keep it on the right side of syrupy. The finish was decent as well, with a touch of orange peel and toffee coming through (I would have tweeted more, but we sat down to watch 28 Days Later, and the glow of a phone/laptop was a bit of a drain on the atmosphere). I found I preferred the richness and luscious texture of the Moscatel with the tart, as it worked really well with the creamy and thick lemon filling in the tart. This is probably as much down to personal taste as it is to the quality of the pairing; as a group we were evenly split on preference, with the other half liking the fact that the zingy Sauvignon Blanc style with it’s startling acidity cut through the thickness and heavyness of the tart. My love of all things rich and sweet is doubtless responsible for my own choice.

It was a fun night’s wining and dining in the end, and the movie wasn’t bad either. If you’ve not seen 28 Days Later it’s an entertaining horror flick. I usually get very easily bored by horror films but it kept me interested, despite the second half being poorer than the first. The wines were fascinating to taste, and proved two things to all of us – Desert wines don’t need to be expensive to be good (both under £6), and they aren’t all gloopy, syrupy, rich things. the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc in particular was a suprise to most of us. Although Charlotte didn’t enjoy the sharper style, the rest of us all enjoyed both wines a lot.

[tweetmeme source=”TheWineyard”]

Thanks again to @SareySue for the Rick Stein recipe which I shall try and blog later in the week.

Tonight’s Live Tasting: Belmont Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)

April 15, 2010

Tonight’s live Twitter tasting is an exciting one as far as I’m concerned. We’ve managed to get our hands on some Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc for a cracking price (£5.99 or 2 for £10) and are yet to taste it ourselves. We’re assured it’s very good value for money, and I’ll be tasting it for the first time this evening. As I taste, I’ll be tweeting my immediate impressions and notes on the wine as I go, and encouraging you guys to tweet back and quiz me on it too. If you fancy joining in for a bit of Twitter tasting with me, pick up a bottle this evening and tweet your own thoughts on the wine (there are a few already chilling in the fridge).

If you’re not on Twitter, and don’t want to join, fear not! You can keep up anyway thanks to some recent improvements to the site. Open this page in your web-browser and it’ll automatically update with the latest tweets about the wine:

#WineyardTasting Tweets

As a genuinely brand new & untested wine, I can make no promises regarding quality, but you only live once and it’s not gonna cost the Earth right? Just to be clear, this isn’t an attempt at snazzy web 2.0 marketing where I only bang on about how great all our own wines are. If I’m unimpressed, you’ll hear about it just as much as if I love it (my last wine tried live on Twitter was far too acidic on first tasting, and I made no secret of it, but in fairness, the next night it had really softened up and improved a great deal – blog post about it coming up later). I also regularly tweet about wines and beers from other companies if I’m trying them (last night was an interesting selection of beers from Sainsbury’s with friends for example). So if you’re feeling curious and daring, grab a bottle of Belmont on the way back from work, and join in with me and any other curious tweeps, and we’ll try some cheap ‘n’ cheerful New Zealand Sauv Blanc together at about 8pm tonight.

Not sure if you’ll like Sauvignon Blanc (or what it is)? Expect a tart, citrus-fruit style wine full of grassy, gooseberry flavours – it’ll be crisp and refreshing, and a good pair for seafood/fish if you’re wanting to have it with food. Very very popular style of wine, and Marlborough is widely considered one of the very best regions for producing it.

Tasting Tonight on Twitter: Chilean Pinot Noir

April 12, 2010

A fairly young Pinot Noir from Chile, and the bottle I’m taking home tonight. I’m yet to taste this wine, but will be doing so in an hour or two’s time. When I do, I’ll be tweeting my thoughts live (follow me here), and cranking out a blog entry with my full tasting notes later on. If you’re feeling bold, join in on Twitter with any bottle you might have at home, and we can compare our Pinots as we taste them.

Live Tastings on Twitter

April 9, 2010

When tasting wines properly, it’s often a good idea to note down your initial impressions as soon as possible, as they will never be as clear if you try to recall them later. Flavours that immediately jump out at you can quickly be forgotten again, and each sip can change your feelings and interpretations of the wine you are tasting.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been tweeting my very first impressions of wines I’m trying that we’re tasting over the weekend, as I taste them myself. I’ve found this useful in a couple of ways personally, as it collects my thoughts into an accessible online location that I can look back at as I write up notes for this blog, and it also forces me to think more carefully about the aromas and flavours I’m perceiving. When scribbling a hasty word or two with pen & paper, I know in the back of my mind that I’ll be able to expand on the notes from memory, lazy as this is. But when I’m publishing my first impressions for the world at large to read and critique, I find myself far more focused on identifying precise flavours where possible, and much more thoroughly engaging with the wine I’m tasting with the hope of being more accurate and informative with what I have to say.

With this in mind, I will be tweeting my tasting notes as I taste, live to Twitter whenever possible, and always with the #wineyardtasting link in the tweet to make them easy to find. If you’re new to Twitter, you can find me here. I love getting comments, questions and suggestions from the folks already on there, so feel free to join in any time.

Even better still would be if I could get some of you trying some wines at the same time as me, so we can exchange thoughts as we try things together. If you’re interested in taking part, get in touch on Twitter and let me know, and we can organise something between us. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert, and it’s all good fun at the end of the day.

The Wineyard & Deli Spring Wine Fair

March 18, 2010

Another exciting event coming up folks! On April 30th, we will be having The Wineyard & Deli’s Spring Wine Fair at the Headway Hotel, Morecambe. With 6 of our biggest and best suppliers already confirmed in attendance, each with their own table of their favourite wines to tell you all about, this is shaping up to be a fantastic evening for wine lovers. We are expecting to open at least 60-70 different bottles of wine to be tasted (d0n’t worry, there’ll be several of each bottle so we don’t run out!), offering a great selection from all corners of the world, and at all sorts of price levels.

Sounds good right? Well you’ll need a ticket from us to get in, and they only cost a measly £7.50 (Nearly 10 wines a pound!). Tickets are only being sold in advance (none on the door), so swing by The Wineyard and get yours today. Tickets have always been popular for events like this in the past, and are likely to sell out. Get in touch (contact details below) if you’d like some reserving until you can get in to see us.

Event Details:

Date: Friday 30th April, 6-9pm.
Venue: The Headway Hotel.
Entry by ticket only, available from The Wineyard & Deli for £7.50.
Tel: 01524400011 to reserve and pay.
Over 60 wines from around the world to taste.

Tasting: Central/Eastern Europe

March 14, 2010

On the 1st April 2010, we’re having a fascinating tasting of wines from the lesser-known parts of Europe at The Wineyard & Deli. Nothing from France, Italy and Spain; think instead of places like Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Germany for example. Some of these are countries long known for crafting some of the world’s best wines (Germany’s Rieslings in particular are widely regarded as world-class), and we’ll be taking you on a whirlwind tour of some of our favourites from our current range. Others are still up-and-coming, but offer great value for money, such as a couple of Bulgarian wines that sell very well week-in-week-out.

We will also be having a special guest speaker with us, Kerstin Hammes who will be presenting 1 or 2 of her family’s own wines from the Mosel Valley in Germany. This is a rare and fantastic opportunity to hear from someone with first-hand knowledge of wine production.

If you’re interested in joining us in trying some of these interesting and delicious wines, along with a range of samples from our Deli food section, you can book your tickets by coming and seeing us in the shop, getting in touch via Twitter or Facebook, or giving us a call on 01524 400011. You can also drop us an e-mail (Ben@thewineyard.co.uk – Please make the subject “Tasting Tickets” and specify within your e-mail which tasting you are interested in).

Tickets are £10 each and are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment. They are sold on a strictly first-come first-served.