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February 8, 2017

The Mighty Mendoza Malbec

Kaiken vineyard, Mendoza, Argentina


There is no denying that Malbec is one of the most popular grape varieties and it comes as no surprise that Argentinian Malbec is often on our customer’s wish list when popping into Cellar 21. So, why is it so popular and what’s the story behind it?


Malbec was initially planted in Bordeaux and also had a home in the Cahors region of France. Today, it is synonymous with Argentina, in particular the world renowned Mendoza wine. Malbec was first planted in Mendoza in the mid-19th century when vine cuttings were brought across from France. The vines began to thrive and the Argentinian Malbec following began.


Mendoza has the highest plantings of Malbec in Argentina, with many vines planted at over 1000m, some of the highest altitudes in the world. Usually, grapes are unable to ripen above this height as the temperatures are too low, however, Malbec flourishes at higher altitudes and in Mendoza the higher altitudes help reduce humidity and the thin air helps the sunlight penetrate and ripen the grapes.


Mendoza is vast on European scale, in fact it is just under the size of England, therefore it is no surprise that the soil types and terroir vary throughout the region, however, the majority of soils are alluvial due to the water runoff from the Andes which helps irrigate the soils.


Argentinian Malbec is renowned for its dark fruit characters – blackberry, plum and black cherry. Subtle spice, chocolate, leather and violets are also typical. They are usually full bodied with medium-high tannins. Malbec is now Mendoza’s most widely planted grape variety and we can see why, when it suits the terroir so well and produces such incredible wines.


As with every wine, we love a food pairing. When it comes to the ‘Mighty Mendoza Malbec’ there is not greater pairing than with a juicy steak. Malbec calls out for lean meaty dishes, think beef and lamb. Earthy flavours also pair wonderfully well with Malbec, try with mushrooms and roasted vegetables. I’m thinking a medium rare sirloin steak with all the trimmings alongside some roasted root vegetables… delicious!


Mightly Mendoza Malbec


We stock some fabulous Mendoza Malbecs including:

Kaiken Reserva Malbec 2015
Office favourite, great value for money and really packs a punch.


Aruma Malbec 2014
Chateau Lafite’s Argentinian property. Everything you’d expect from an Argentinian Malbec and more, impressive nose of juicy red and black berry fruits with a touch of chocolate and game.


Amancaya Malbec/Cabernet 2013
Flagship wine from Bodegas Caro. This Malbec blend is charming with a luscious velvety texture.


Caro, Bodegas Caro 2012
James Suckling awarded this wine 98 points and claims, “The best wine ever from the Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolas Catena winery.” Praise indeed!


All our Mendoza Malbec’s can be found on our website. If you need any help please do let me know, call me in the office on 01325 776446 or email


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November 4, 2016

Gorgeous Glassware



When choosing your wine for a dinner party or event, you may not think about what glassware you are going to serve it in or even think that it is important.   Surely it’s the wine that needs to be good? Well, glassware does matter.  We believe it’s just as important as the actual wine you are serving.


Think about the whole wine experience.   A good wine glass helps to create a better experience, it’s all about first impressions and they really do matter. Before you even taste the wine your senses are working, the wine needs to be presented so it looks good and with good quality glassware, the feel is important too.


Glass diagram


There are four main parts to a wine glass, the rim, the bowl, the stem and the foot. Each plays its own part in the equation.

The foot
– Importantly, keeps your wine glass upright to avoid spillage….

The stem – Part of the glass which should be held to avoid unnecessary heating of the wine from your hands especially if you are drinking chilled wine. It also helps keep any fingerprints and dirty marks off the bowl.

The bowl – The bowl holds your wine, size and shape will vary from glass to glass. The majority of bowls will be larger at the bottom and will taper into a narrower opening at the top.

The rim – The most important part of the wine glass – the part where you drink from. A thinner rim is more desirable as it will cause less distraction when sipping on the wine.





When choosing your glassware, think about what wine you are going to serve as different wines work better with different glassware:


White Wine
Lighter whites such as Pinot Grigio, Muscadet, Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño are best served in a smaller bowled glass that tapers in at the top. The smaller bowl helps keep the wine temperature cooler as well as maintaining the delicate floral and fruit aromas and flavours.
Fuller bodied whites including Chardonnay, Viognier, Semillon and Marsanne benefit from a larger bowled glassware.


Red Wine
Generally a larger bowled glass is better for red wine. The larger surface area allows the wine to open up and bring out its flavours. The larger surface area means the wine has greater contact to the air around it, which aids the overall profile of the wine by aerating it and making it open up.


Sparkling Wine
Sparkling wine including Champagne, Prosecco and Cava is best served in a long flute shaped glass which tapers in at the top. This keeps the bubbles and delicate flavours from being released from of the glass. Alternatively and especially if you are drinking vintage Champagne, a white wine glass can be used to serve sparkling wine. The larger glass allows richer flavoured sparklers to breath and helps open up their flavours. Neither way is wrong, it just comes down to your personal preference.


Dessert Wine
Dessert or sweet wines are best served in a small glass with a narrow rim to keep in all the intense aromas and flavours. Think about what a typical Port glass looks like and you’ll be on your way.


Experiment and see for yourself – Try pouring the same wine into a variety of different shaped and sized glasses and see how the flavours change from glass to glass. Don’t forget, it is all about personal preference at the end of the day so if you prefer drinking a lighter white wine out of a larger red wine glass then go for it!


It’s not just about the wine glasses, don’t forget your decanters. Click here to read our blog on decanters and why it’s good to use them.





Hand wash – always, always, always hand wash your wine glasses, not only does it help prevent the glasses from turning cloudy, it also minimises damage caused to the glasses which may occur in the dishwasher.

Don’t leave cleaning liquids in the glass and always make sure they are well rinsed and free from any soap or bubbles. If not, this will affect the taste of your wine when you next use the glass.

The best way to clean your wine glass is to wash in soapy water, rinse thoroughly with clean, hot water to get rid of all cleaning products. Leave upside down on a clean cloth for a minute to drain and dry, then polish up with a clean, dry glass cloth.


Riedel Logo


Riedel Glassware

“The finest glasses for both technical and hedonistic purposes are those made by Riedel. The effect of these glasses on fine wine is profound. I cannot emphasize enough what a difference they make.” Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Wine Advocate.


Riedel glassware is a great example of how to do glassware and we are delighted to be stockists. If you are interested in upgrading your glassware collection and would like more information, or are looking for the perfect Christmas gift for that wine lover in your life, please give me a call in the office on 01325 776446 to discuss.


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September 23, 2016

WSET Level 2 – A Journey of Wine Discovery

WSET Level 2 Course


I guess like many people, until relatively recently, the depth of my wine ‘knowledge’ extended no further than the wine aisles of my local supermarkets. Selecting a wine was usually based on little more than guesswork and a great deal of luck, striking lucky then meaning not deviating from said wine, for quite some time.


Since joining the team at Bon Coeur as Finance Manager in April this year, I’ve been keen to broaden my wine horizons and share in the passion of the company, so when the opportunity to take the WSET Level 2 (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) qualification came up, I didn’t have to be asked twice!


With the classroom readied in the Moor Park Tasting Rooms, and under the expert tutelage of Laura from ‘Inside the Bottle’, the scene was set for the journey of wine discovery to begin. Any fears that WSET Level 2 may be a step too far, given my limited experience and not having done Level 1, were allayed very early on morning one of the 3 day course (over 3 consecutive Mondays).


WSET Level 2 Wine Tasting


After an introduction to the basics of wine tasting, the technical reasoning behind taking in air (including making obligatory slurping noises as you do so!), and the use of the systematic approach to tasting wine (essentially creating your own tasting notes in a logical and prescribed way), we quickly moved into our first ‘flight of wines’. Our initial 6 wines highlighted the diverse nature of wine, from the easy drinking neutral character of a Pinot Grigio, to the tannin heavy, full bodied experience that is Barolo.


To be presented with a plate of ‘ingredients’ further heightened expectation. This included lemon, salt, savoury umami and chilli flakes, and this is where the learning took an unexpected twist. The method behind the madness of such a plate soon became apparent, as the re-taste of the initial wines alongside each of these elements brought a total different dynamic to the wine, and clearly demonstrated why food and wine pairings have such an impact on the character, and ultimately enjoyment of the wine.


With the groundwork done, and our palates awoken, the main focus of WSET Level 2 began; to learn about the major grape varieties, the appellation and regions in which they are produced and how different techniques can be used by producers in the winemaking process to impact on the character of the finished product.



WSET Level 2


From Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel; the grapes, expectation of the wines they make, and regional and global variations were all covered in an easily digestible and identifiable way. It would be easy to create an information overload and ‘lose the room’ with too much content, but this was far from the case, helped by the interactive nature of the learning experience (and a ready supply of wines to taste!). 3 days and 45 wine tastings later, we were equipped with the knowledge and enthusiasm to tackle the 50 question, 1 hour exam on the final afternoon.


The success of doing WSET Level 2 can of course be measured tangibly by the exams scores we achieve. But I think it extends beyond that, giving the confidence to speak about and discuss wine in a knowledgeable way, providing the building blocks of knowledge, and certainly (from a finance manager point of view!) providing context and meaning to what would otherwise be numbers on a spreadsheet or amounts on an invoice. Choosing a new wine for the weekend will never be the same again…


If you are interested in doing a WSET course or broadening you wine and spirit knowledge, why not take a WSET course yourself? Our next Level 2 (3 day) course starts on Monday 30th January. For more information on what we’ve got coming up, take a look on our events pages, or email or call the office on 01325 776446 for more information.


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