As Europe makes every effort to slip into something more comfortable for spring, we at Secret Sommelier are anticipating an enduring fiesta. To help the lubricate the spirit we tasted a big brand Rioja Gran Reserver, a Cava Gran Reserver and a lesser known wine produced in the Ribero Del Duero. The wines were provided by Campo Viejo and by Latin Wines (
The big brand that hit the table was Campo Viejo who sent in their Cava Gran Reserver and also the Rioja Gran Reserver. Both wines were very good. The Cava was pleasant surprise as it was expected to take layers of skin off the mouth but... hear this... at £6.99 it was a bargain that knocked the woolly knee-creepers off Champagnes from the £10-15 price points. So note that... Campo Viejo (available from Sainsbury's, Odd bins, Cost Co) is a worthwhile purchase for a bit of mouth cleansing fizz! It was interesting though that their prize piece, the Rioja Gran Reserve, 1998, in traditional wire dress, was not really so impressive. It was good but it wasn't great. We had a brief chat about how it would stand up against a Muga and it was clearly stated by my colleague that it didn't stand a furkin chance!

On the other hand the Enoa Reserva, 2001 from the Ribero Del Duero was the days champion. It was deep ruby in colour, extremely complex nose and producing all the desirous qualities that a good wine should. Aroma's of vanillin mixed with dark berry fruits... it made one long for meats... were conjured. Tipped onto the palate, I have to say I sensed the intensity.. immediately I was seized by memories... was it Spain? Long lunches, or maybe something more profound... yes, that's it, it had all the composed intensity of Caravaggio's 'The Martyrdom of St Ursula'. This was quality wine that made an announcement... that spoke with depth of character.. with sweetness of oak and alas a lining of sorrow in that the bottle was finite and not last forever... should one turn to the church? My trusted colleague suggested that we might pitch it against an Alion but, as good as this is and how much i want to drink it again and again... could it possibly stand up? Room for another post here methinks!

Now late at night, I lean hunched over this machine and sip from the Spanish cup. A country, once feared for hostile gestures towards our British shores, now has designs of seduction and enticements that have us yearning for more.

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COPOUT Book by Nick Breeze

Climate change podcast

Last week a picture was posted on Twitter of vines in Shabo, a large estate that lies to the west of Odesa on southern Ukraine’s Black Sea coastline. The image seemed benign at face value but the reality, of course, is that the city of Odesa has been bracing itself for attack by Russian forces. 


As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.



Britain’s lamentable exit

On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.

I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!


Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.


Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.


The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


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