Sunday, 29 June 2008

Manga Wine Art

A Manga Comic series Kami no Shizuku (Drops of God) has been taking Japan by storm and is conquering Korea and China, boosting sales of European wines along the way. Manga is the Japanese word for comic and Manga is usually printed in black and white.

It is written by a brother and sister duo of wine enthusiasts and combines a mystery plot with a playful introduction to European wines. Sales have topped a million copies in South Korea alone, with sales of wine shooting up by 30% in response. "The minute it was translated into Korean, we had calls from three importers," said Basaline Granger Despagne, whose family has grown wine near France's Dordogne river for 250 years. Their Château Mont Perat 2001 Bordeaux appears early on in the manga.

"When it was translated into Chinese, people called us from Taiwan saying, 'I bought some Mont Perat and sold 50 cases in two days because of the manga'," she said in a phone interview.

The ten-volume series sees two brothers given the challenge of locating 12 legendary wines when their father, a wine critic, dies suddenly. Whichever son succeeds in the challenge inherits their father's £9 million wine cellar.

Printed mostly in black and white and drawn to look like an ancient Japanese woodblock print, the secret of its success lies in the brilliant, sensual – and ever more outrageous – wine descriptions. 'Just like a classic rock concert!' says one brother after taking a sip of a 2001 Mont-Pérat.

Meanwhile, a spin-off computer game called Sommelier has been launched in Japan, and Hollywood directors are angling for the movie rights.

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Friday, 27 June 2008

Philippe Dufrenoy – The Man Who Paints With Wine

Philippe Dufrenoy is an unusual – and talented – artist who paints with wine. His story begins in the year 200 when the 53-year-old engineer living in Bordeaux, lost his job. Sitting in a café, solemnly meditating on how to get his life back on track, a glass of red wine changed his life forever.

Just to keep his fingers busy, he dipped a brush into the glass and drew a garnet sketch with the luscious red grape wine. This was the first time Philippe Dufrenoy, now the world’s famous and only wine artiste, stumbled upon his craft.

Dufrenoy only paints with very strong, young wine. Older wine fades faster and loses colour quickly. He uses either wine from Bordeaux or California. His colour palette ranges from garnet to cranberry.

He has painted several châteaux and vintners in Bordeaux including Anthony Barton from Château Leoville Barton, Alfred Tesseron from Château Pontet Canet and Château Figeac using their own wines.

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Vineyards and Art

Van Gogh painted 3 vineyards in his lifetime – all in France and one of the most famous is the Red Vineyards at Arles. It was painted in 1888 and it was the only painting he ever sold. It depicts grape harvesters at work near Arles, in Provence, where he lived for 15 months. Wine was certainly an important part of Van Gogh's life, fueling his prodigious work rate. He wrote:

"Every day I take the remedy that the incomparable Dickens prescribes against suicide. It consists of a glass of wine, a piece of bread with cheese, and a pipe of tobacco”

During his stay in Arles, he painted more than 200 canvases, as well as producing 100 drawings and writing 200 letters.

Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother that he had painted his vineyard red to reflect the red wine:

"a red vineyard, all red like red wine. In the distance it turned to yellow and then a green sky with the sun, the earth after the rain violet, sparkling here and there where it caught the reflection of the setting sun."

The Red Vineyard is now owned by the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

This wasn't the first vineyard painting Van Gogh had painted – two months earlier he had painted The Green Vineyard, a daytime rather than evening representation of the same subject. The Green Vineyard is owned by the Kröller Müller Museum in the Netherlands.

The last painting of a vineyard was completed in June 1890 and in Vineyard With a View of Auvers. Van Gogh had traveled to Auvers-sur Oise, near Paris, after becoming ill. Strangely most people see this painting as vibrant and joyful of the 3 vineyard paintings that he did. Van Gogh died a month after painting it.

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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Bordeaux and Art

The rippling light of Bordeaux's vineyards has inspired many famous painters over the centuries and doubtless the great wines of Bordeaux have helped their artistic endeavours. The city of Bordeaux itself was home to the painters Lhote, Marquet and Redon and many other artists found their muse amongst the bustling docks and wine barrels there.

André Lhote (1885 – 1962) learnt wood carving and sculpture from the age of 12 when his father apprenticed him to a local furniture maker to be trained as a sculptor in wood. He became interested in Cubism and his paintings stand alongside some of the fathers of modern art.

Albert Marquet (1875 – 1947) was also a sculptor as well as a painter and was associated with the Fauvist movement. He is best known for his paintings of boats, docks, ships and French quaysides. Fauvism was a style of painting which used strong colours and representational values – it takes its name from Fauves which is the French for wild beasts. The leaders of the
movement were Henri Matisse (who was Marquet's room mate for a time) and André Derain.

Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916) was a symbolist painter and print maker. Redon started drawing as a young child, and at the age of 15, he began formal study in drawing but on the insistence of his father he switched to architecture. His failure to pass the entrance exams at Paris’ École des Beaux Arts ended any plans for a career as an architect and back home in his native Bordeaux, he took up sculpture, etching and lithography. In the 1890s he started to use pastel and oils and was awarded the Legion of Honour in 1903.

Although these landscapes are rare examples of the artists work – most of their more famous paintings are instantly recognisable – you can see that the beautiful countryside of their native land never left their hearts!

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Monday, 23 June 2008

Red Wine May Help Battle Obesity

ScienceDaily reports that resveratrol, a compound present in grapes and red wine, has been found to reduce the number of fat cells and may one day be used to treat or prevent obesity, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany wanted to know if resveratrol could mimic the effects of calorie restriction in human fat cells by changing their size or function. In the cell-based study, they found that resveratrol inhibited the pre-fat cells from increasing and prevented them from converting into mature fat cells. Also, resveratrol hindered fat storage. Most interesting, according to Fischer-Posovszky, was that resveratrol reduced production of certain cytokines, substances that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes and clogged coronary arteries. Also, resveratrol stimulated formation of a protein known to decrease the risk of heart attack.

The new finding is consistent with the theory that the resveratrol in red wine explains the French paradox, the observation that French people eat a relatively high-fat diet but have a low death rate from heart disease.

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Sunday, 22 June 2008

Mateus Adds Sparkling Rosé to Range

Mateus Rosé, the rosé wine has launched a non-vintage Sparkling Brut Rosé in time for the summer. This will be the first ever sparkling rosé wine from Portugal to be marketed in the UK. The Sparkling Brut Rosé is packaged in a Champagne style bottle and closure, with a "contemporary and stylish" silver and black design, and is made mainly from the Baga grape, the most widely planted varietal in the Bairrada region of Portugal.

Apparently the new sparkling wine has a "soft pink colour with fine bubbles and pleasing aromas of apples, pears and raspberries to provide an aromatic and delicate finish". Mateus Rosé Sparkling will be on sale from July in supermarkets and shopping channels.

It's interesting to see how Mateus has reinvented itself after falling from the dizzy heights it reached in the 1970s. The brand was created in 1942 and production began at the end of the Second World War. By the late 1980s Mateus accounted for over 40% of Portugals table wine exports and world wide sales were 3.25 million cases a year. As with most boom or bust situations the over exposure lead to Mateus falling from grace but it is fast picking up as a “retro wine”.

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Friday, 20 June 2008

Champagne and Pearl Shampoos

We see luxury items added to everything these days – diamonds and lotus flowers in fabric conditioner for example. Now hair care has gone up scale and outrageously luxurious. D'Arcy Crushed Pearl Shampoo, and Champagne Conditioner, £43.75, combine glamour and hair nutrition using two key ingredients: champagne and pearls.

The shampoo contains crushed pearl powder, shea butter and herbal sunflower seed extracts, while the conditioner contains champagne and de-oiled French grape seeds. I can understand how the champagne and grape seeds can help your hair as a well kept secret of the French is to use champagne as a rinse for blond hair. But crushed pearls? Does anyone know what they are supposed to do (apart from cost a lot?)

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Malbec Cologne from Argentina

Familia Zuccardi, an Argentinian winery located on the outskirts of the city of Mendoza, 600 miles to the West of Buenos Aires have launched a new debut masculine fragrance based on the aromas of Malbec wine, as it is iconic of Argentinian wines.

The Malbec cologne was developed by a company called Aromas del Vino, which have already distinguished themselves by creating a technical game allowing the recognition of some of the 150 nuances that can be found in a wine. The premise to them was that making a good wine was like making a good perfume. The perfume is in fact carried by wine alcohol.

Malbec often known as Côt in Bordeaux and was exported to South America before the Phylloxera outbreak devastated the vines in France.

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Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Cognac Perfume – Frapin

Béatrice Cointreau, the great grand-daughter of Pierre Frapin the creator of the Cointreau estate, has created a range of perfumes has created a range of perfumes inspired by the cognacs that the family make. The Frapin family has been established in the South West of France since 1270, initially as a family of wine-growers. They then became distillers and have continued in this tradition for 20 generations. The Grande Champagne region, Premier Grand Cru du Cognac was where the family chose to settle (they also own the Champagne House of Gosset). They established their headquarters in the Fontpinot Castle at Segonzac. One of their illustrious ancestors was no less than the 16th century author Francois Rabelais.

1270 is named for the year that the Frapins settled in Cognac and pays homage to the 19th century grape Folle Blanche

Terre de Sarment is "inspired by the early spring mornings and splendid Charente river views from the vineyard estate Chateau Fontpont" and is honeyed and balsamic evoking beautiful golden grapes, blond woods, and a good Château d’Yquem.

Esprit de Fleurs comes "From the vineyards of Grande Champagne, where lie the cellars of Cognac spirits . . ." and is the most feminine of the perfumes being scented with vine flowers.

Caravelle Epicée “brings forth an awakening journey down River Charante to the ocean, following precious spices and silk." It has notes of nutmeg, pepper, thyme, amber and sandalwood.

Passion Boisée has the fragrance of oranges, cloves,rum, flowers, tobacco and wood stained with red wine.

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Champagne By the Seaside and Dessert Barbeques

If you are pushing the boat out this summer and are looking for a great bottle of champagne to accompany a BBQ on the beach then I can heartily recommend Philippe Seconde's Authentic Rosé Brut (£18.49). It is wonderful with grilled fish and poultry and has the depth to accompany creamy sauces. However it is also superb with grilled fruits and desserts. Not many people think of using their barbeques to cook a dessert but there are some fantastic recipes which you can make which are zesty and refreshing – a pick me up after a day's surfing or swimming!

The Authentic Rosé Brut is a Champagne for all occasions, from 'tea time' to dawn. It is a fabulous, almost strawberry in colour rosé champagne with plenty of fine, lively bubbles. On the nose its full of fruit and berries and in the mouth its becomes a full bodied fruity almost 'Kir Royale' taste with the dryness of the Pinot Noir lingering through. The Authentic Rosé Brut is also a rarity. Done by saignée-by skin contact, instead of by mixing red and white wine as is done almost everywhere else in Champagne, this champagne requires very ripe fruit of impeccable colour and health.

Philippe Secondé is one of the finest and most serious growers in the great Pinot Noir Grand Cru village of Bouzy and his Champagnes are exquisite. Philippe is an oenologist by training and a descendant of Edmond Barnaut, who founded the domain in 1874. Barnaut, a textile magnate, ploughed his fortune into his vines, which he acquired after marrying an heiress to vineyards in Bouzy. The caves of Champagne Barnaut, metres underground, are beautiful. Bouzy is famous for Pinot Noir of enormous personality, ripeness and richness. Try it with Barbequed Peaches and Pineapples !

Barbequed Peaches and Pineapples

4 peaches
1 ripe pineapple
5 tbsp unsalted butter3 tbsps brown sugar2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Cut the peaches in half and remove and discard the pits. Place the halves in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter and brown sugar together. Coat the peaches with the butter mixture. Lie the pineapple on its side. Using a large, sharp knife, trim about 1 inch from the bottom of the pineapple. Cut the rest of the pineapple, including the crown of leaves, in half lengthways. Then cut each half in half, being careful to keep some of the crown attached to each wedge. Using a brush, spread some of the glaze over the flesh. Barbeque.

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Monday, 16 June 2008

Al Fresco Food for Wine Lovers

Barbecued Sardines in Vine Leaves fit the bill for a wine lovers feast. Did you know that there is actually no such fish as a Sardine? They are actually young Herring and are called Sardines once they have been canned. They take their name from the Mediterranean Island of Sardinia in Italy where almost every restaurant is reputed to serve sardines!

Sardines In Vine Leaves

24 fresh sardines
24 vine leaves
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp white pepper
1 cup olive oil

Remove the backbones of the fish but keep the heads and the tails. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl, add the sardines and leave. If the vine leaves are fresh cut the stems off, soak them in hot water and then plunge them into cold water. If you are using tinned vine leaves soak in warm water to remove the salt. Place the shiny sides of the leaves on a flat surface. Place one sardine on the stem of each leaf. Roll up the leaves leaving the heads and tails sticking out. Brush the leaves with oil and cook over hot charcoal for about 15 mins. Garnish with lemon slices. Open vines leaves and sprinkle fish with lemon juice to eat.


The perfect wine to accompany Sardines In Vine Leaves would be Clairet de Château des Lisennes (£5.99). Clairet is Bordeaux's own rosé and is a much fruitier and more fragrant wine with depth than most of its peers. Clairet de Château des Lisennes is made from the traditional Bordeaux grapes that make the famous red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It's a gorgeous deep raspberry pink colour and has wonderful flavours of soft red fruit with aromas of raspberries, redcurrants and blackberries. Being a medium to a fuller bodied drink it lends itself very nicely to stronger flavoured fish dishes so try it - you will not be disappointed.

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Sunday, 15 June 2008

Seafood and Sparkling Wine

Oysters and Champagne are not really barbeque food but seafood comes into its own with a glass of bubbly. Skewered scallops are absolutely scrumptious and their sweet flesh has been a favourite food for centuries. Their shells appear in art, history and legend – in Botticelli's masterpiece The Birth of Venus the goddess rises from the sea foam on a scallop shell. A scallop shell was carried by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostella and served both as a symbol of the pilgrimage as well as a drinking cup. The scallop shell is the emblem of Saint James who was burried at Santiago de Compostella and the famous French dish Coquille St Jacques (of scallops in a creamy cheese sauce is named after him.

The taste of scallops is delicate so chorizo sausage is a great accompaniment as it brings out the flavours and contrast with the sweetness. This recipe for Skewered Scallops is very quick and easy – it only takes 15 minutes and is very moreish!

Skewered Scallops

2oz melted butter
Juice of 2 lemons
Black pepper
1 tsp freshly chopped parsley
24 large scallops, shelled
chorizo sausage

Place the melted butter, lemon juice, pepper and parsley in a large bowl and mix well. Add the scallops and turn to coat. Cut each chroizo into chunks and thread alternately onto the skewers with the scallops. Cook over hot barbecue coals for 3-4 minutes each side, basting with the remaining butter mixture, until the bacon is crisp and golden brown. To serve - transfer the skewers to a serving platter and drizzle any remaining butter mixture over the top. Serve immediately.


Cremant d'Alsace (£8.49) is a rare find – it was recommended to Nick by Philippe Seconde from whom we buy our Champagne. He told us that "when Champagne makers want a sparkling wine their preference is Cremant D'Alsace". Having tasted it I can understand why. Traditionally made, it is a pale yellow colour with a dense, very fine mousse lasting to the very last sip in the glass. It is very fruity on the nose with the flavours of apricots, lime blossom and plums. It is light and fresh – just right for seaside summer days!

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Friday, 13 June 2008

Surf and Turf Barbeques and Bordeaux Red Wine

The classic combination of Surf and Turf recipes is beef and oysters but you can make super Surf and Turf Kebabs using beef and king prawns. The origin of Surf and Turf recipes isn't actually from the New World no matter how American or Australian they sound – Bing Crosby may have coined the phrase in his song Where the Turf Meets the Surf. Combining food from the sea and the land has been practised for centuries and is fully embraced in Asian and European cooking eg Paella.

Surf and Turf Kebabs

24 king prawns, peeled with the tails left on
800g beef steak, cut into cubes
12 skewers
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp honey
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli oil

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Place the marinade in two separate bowls and place the king prawns in one bowl and the beef in the other. Cover the bowls and place them in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours to marinate.

Place 3 pieces of meat and 2 prawns on each skewer. Place the kebabs on the hot barbecue and cook them fro 5-7 minutes on each side.


Clos Bernasse (£4.75) is a lovely wine from Bergerac which lies either side of the Dordogne, extending eastwards from St. Emilion and Cotes de Castillon. Cotes de Bergerac Reds are well structured with aromas of preserved fruit such as prunes. Their strong, structured tannins give them great ageing potential and Clos Bernasse is no exception. This wine is incredibly good value and comes from the 1999 vintage.

Clos Bernasse is a rich deep red and is a full bodied wine made from 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has flavours of ripe blackberries and blackcurrants and a perfumed plum and eucalyptus smell with a hint of figs. The aromatic sweet flavours will compliment the prawns and the beef beautifully.

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

Beach Barbeques and White Bordeaux Wine

Sun, sea and sand are beckoning as people are looking forward to their holidays and eating outdoors on the beach is great fun. Collecting driftwood, tending the fire, chatting over it, drinking wine and drinking in the smell of smoke and scents of sizzling food on the sea breeze are all part of the atmosphere. Some beaches prohibit open fires and have permanent barbeque pits but there is nothing like making your own from scratch and cooking as our ancestors must have done centuries before.

Fish cooks very quickly on barbeques and I like to cook mine on skewers as it makes it easier to eat. I have a Turkish recipe for Swordfish on Skewers but as Swordfish is an endangered species I have replaced it with Halibut which is a lean and mild, faintly sweet tasting fish with white flesh that cuts easily into chunks.

Halibut on Skewers

1 ½ lb halibut steaks
4 tomatoes
2 sliced lemons
5 green sweet peppers
bay leaves


1 onion, grated
bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt & pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp tomato paste

Cut the fish into large cubes. Slice the tomatoes and peppers. Put the fish into a bowl and add the marinade ingredients, mix and leave for 20 mins. Thread 4 cubes of fish per person onto metal barbeque skewers with slices of tomato, pepper, lemon and bay leaves. Brush the remaining marinade over the skewers and cook.


A chilled bottle of Château Saint Thibeaud (£5.30) would compliment the Halibut Skewers perfectly. It's a lovely crisp Bordeaux white predominantly made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It has plenty of body without being too heavy and really is a very pleasing easy drinking quality wine. Château Saint Thibeaud is a lovely pale golden colour with dominant and very refreshing hints of pear and citrus fruits. It's rounded and clean in the mouth and has gorgeous touches of lemon. Delicious!

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Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Maccabeau is also known as Macabeo or Viura in Spain and has become popular in France’s Languedoc Roussillon area. It's widely used in the making of White Rioja and in Cava. The Spanish name suggests a possible, mysterious connection with the Old Testament heroes Judah Macabee and his brothers, but it's thought that the grape originated in Spain and spread to France over the Pyrenees.

Maccabeau makes a crisp, white wine with fragrant floral aromas, not overly high in acid, with flavours of citrus, apples, pineapples, almonds and blossom. It thrives in hot and dry climates and is the most popular white grape in Northern Spain. Not much has been written about this wonderful grape variety probably because of the confusion surrounding its name. I can’t think of any grape that is known by 3 different titles – do you? I hope next time you see Maccabeau, Macabeo or Viura on a bottle you will be less confused and surprise your friends with you knowledge of this humble grape.

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Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Brissonet and Barbeques – Brissonet Blanc and Poulet En Papillote Au Thym (Chicken in a Parcel)

The Brissonet Blanc (£3.15) comes from the same stable as the red and is made with the Maccabeau grape which is sometimes known as Macabeo or Viura in Spain and is often used in making Cava. It's a lovely wine and is full of ripe fruit. Brissonet Blanc is a brilliant yellow colour with a green bloom and has a bouquet of exotic fruit such as melon and pineapple. On the palate there is a good balance between acidity and alcohol, which gives priority to the aroma. Brissonet Blanc is an excellent aperitif wine, whilst it possesses good, easy drinking qualities it is also suited to a variety of Salad Dishes and an array of Fish Dishes including Tuna, Cod, Plaice and Scampi. Starters with Soft Fruits and Melons are also equally at home with a glass.

The French recipe that I've chosen to accompany the Brissonet Blanc literally translated means Chicken in Parchment but nowadays we use foil instead of paper!

Chicken in a Parcel with Thyme (Poulet En Papillote Au Thym)

6 boneless chicken breasts
1 leek, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion, chopped
thyme, chopped
salt and pepper
1 bag spinach leaves
1 cup white wine

Cut out 6 pieces of foil to wrap the chicken in and place the chopped leek and celery in each. Lay the chicken breast on top of the vegetables and place some spinach leaves on top of the chicken. Mix the tomatoes, lemon zest, garlic, onions, thyme, salt and pepper together and place on top of the spinach leaves. Sprinkle the white wine over this and wrap up the edges of the foil to make a parcel. Cook for about 15 minutes in a covered barbeque.


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Monday, 9 June 2008


The Grenache grape is called Garnacha in Spain where it is particularly important in Rioja. Grenache is thought to have originated in Aragon but has since spread over the Pyrenees into Southern France. Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhone wines and some Chateauneuf du Papes are made entirely from extremely old Grenache vines. The Grenache grape does well in hot, dry regions, and its strong stalk makes it well suited for windy conditions. It ripens with very high sugar levels and is sometimes used to make fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls. In Ribera del Duero it is one of the grape varieties used in the fabled Vega Sicilia, one of Winston Churchill’s favourite wines.

Grenache has aromas and flavours of black pepper, rich black olive, dark chocolate, roasted game and sweet red fruits. It's a dark inky purple grape with thick durable skin and a vibrant red interior and is sometimes called Tintorera which refers to the red dye like quality the grape has in the wine.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Brissonet and Barbeques – Red Wine and Boeuf En Brochette (Beef Kebabs)

The French are masters of eating out doors and as summer is here people are dusting off their barbeques in readiness for al fresco meals. Brissonet Rouge (£3.15) is a deliciously powerful fruity Spanish red wine which is great to sit back and relax with as well as being super with food. It's made from the Grenache grape and is a powerful fresh and aromatic wine, concentrated with no acidity and its cherry red colour with violet bloom are typical of its youth. Pronounced nose with good ripe fruit. It is fantastic with tomato based dishes like Pizza and Pasta and is the perfect partner with Indian, Thai and Chinese meals due to its lightness and fruitiness. It's been well received by the press winning great reviews.

Try it with Boeuf en Brochette – it's a French recipe for beef kebabs and is almost as moreish as the wine!

Boeuf En Brochette

3 lbs Steak cut into cubes
4 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 stick celery, finely chopped
parsley, chopped
rosemary, chopped
thyme, chopped
juice of ½ lemon
pinch black pepper
pinch salt
1 tbsp olive oil


2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup red wine
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
parsley, chopped
salt & pepper

Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the meat. Marinate for an hour.

Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the onion and cook until soft. Scrape the marinade off the meat and add to the onion. Add the wine, tomatoes and sugar and cook until thickened. Let the sauce cool slightly and stir in the Dijon, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Thread the beef cubes equally onto skewers. Cook over very hot heat, about 8 minutes for rare. Allow one skewer per person and serve the sauce separately on the side.


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Friday, 6 June 2008

David Beckham Buys Victoria A Vineyard

David Beckham has bought a Californian vineyard as a birthday present for his wife Victoria, according to reports.

The England and LA Galaxy footballer is said to have paid a seven-figure sum for the Napa Valley winery which will be run by a specialist team.

The Sun reported that the couple, who became wine “buffs” while living in Spain when Beckham played for Real Madrid, plan to bottle their own top quality lines for themselves, friends and family.

The sportsman is said to have revealed the surprise by handing his Spice Girl wife a bottle with her name on the label during a day trip to a winery in the area last month.

Pictures on the Internet show the couple chatting and apparently taking photographs among rows of green vines during the excursion in which they were accompanied by celebrity friends Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kate Beckinsale, Seal, amongst others.

The Beckhams join celebrity couples Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who have just settled at Chateau Miraval and Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis who own a vineyard in Plan de la Tour.
Apparently the couple aren't planning to go into the wine business, they will just be making their vintage for family and friends.

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Thursday, 5 June 2008

Bordeaux Wine Festival

Bordeaux is holding a celebration of its prized vineyards over 4 days from June 26th - 29th where hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe are expected. The “wine road” will run along the Garonne river from the Pont de Pierre in the historic city centre through the heart of the surrounding region's vineyards to the Bourse Maritime, offering wine tastings, local food, a sound and light show, fireworks and concerts.

For the first time, there will also be a ‘son et lumière’ show on the 27th, 28th, and 29th June: accompanied by music, giant images will be projected onto the Palais Gabriel.The Port de la Lune will be illuminated as a different firework display brings the end of each evening to a brightly-coloured close.

A parade of Confrèries (Wine Brotherhoods), the giant Banquet de Bacchus and barrel rolling competitions will constitute other highlights of the festival.

Organised for the tenth year, the festival is expected to draw 350,000 tourists from France and abroad.

A 13 euro wine pass will buy visitors 12 wine tastings, while a 70 euro pass covers access to nine tasting routes through the region's vineyards, spread over the four days.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Dan Aykroyd's Sauvignon Blanc A Success

It’s a well known fact that Dan Aykroyd is a fan of Bordeaux wines and has been involved in the wine industry for some time. Aykroyd, who was born in Ottawa developed his love of fine wine while working on Saturday Night Live and the first Blues Brothers movie. Musician Steve Cropper (producer of Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding) introduced him to Bordeaux Premier Cru and other premium vintages and, ever since, he has sampled the top local wines wherever he travels.

This passion, combined with a desire to promote Canada as a wine-producing nation, inspired both Aykroyd’s investment into Diamond Estates and his plan to promote Canadian wines with the world.

Dan Ackroyd's wine was awarded the All Canadian Wine Championship's (ACWC) Gold Medal in the Sauvignon Blanc category. He also won a Bronze Medal in the Red Vitis Vinifera blends category with the 2006 Discovery Series Cabernet Shiraz.

Dan Aykroyd's 2005 Signature Reserve Vidal Icewine also won 'Wine of the Year' at the Ontario Wine Awards earlier this year.

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Oz Clarke Blames Bridget Jones for Chardonnay's Demise

Oz Clarke has blamed Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger) for knocking sales of Chardonnay - according to The Independent, Clarke, who starred in TV series Oz And James's Big Wine Adventure with Top Gear presenter James May, said:

"Chardonnay has made some of the world's greatest wines. Everyone appreciated it - until Bridget Jones.

"Bridget Jones goes out on the pull, fails, goes back to her miserable bedsit, sits down, pours herself an enormous glass of Chardonnay, sits there with mascara running down her cheeks saying, 'Dear diary, I've failed again, I've poured an enormous glass of Chardonnay and I'm going to put my head in the oven.' Great marketing aid.

"Until Bridget Jones, Chardonnay was really sexy. After, people said, 'God, not in my bar'."

Fellow wine expert Christopher Piper accused Clarke of being behind the times, saying the white wine was "no longer uncool to drink". Actually I agree with Piper. To my mind it was the over oaked version of the ABCs (Anything But Chardonnay) that put so many people off. Besides I am very partialled to Bridget Jones!

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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Queensryche's Geoff Tate to Make Wine

Queensryche rocker Geoff Tate has become the latest celebrity to try his hand at wine making after developing a new line with a Washington based winery. The wine is to be named Insania and will hit the market in 2009.

Tate has been deeply involved with the development of Insania with Three Rivers Winery and has said that making wine is similar to the process of making music.

Winemaker Holly Turner of Three Rivers Winery is equally excited about the new offering and said:

"Geoff Tate simply rocks and so does his love of wine . . . We share this passion for wine and have put together a powerful blend that represents Geoff. We feel so fortunate to be working with such a well respected artist that is also a friend."

Tate and 3 Rivers Winery hope to launch Insania at a concert event slated for September 20, 2008 at the winery. The show will mark Tate's first solo performance in six years.