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An Interview with Miles Corish

November 1st, 2011

Having been massively impressed with Finch’s Line Shiraz ’07 the wonderful chaps at Find Wine arranged for me to speak to Miles Corish, the winemaker behind the wine itself.

(1) What is the ultimate goal for Finch’s Line?

Finch’s Line began life as an attempt to create (or recreate) a traditional expression of Hunter Valley Shiraz. I therefore try to source old vine, dry-farmed fruit that is then handled without too much intervention other than ensuring that as much of the vintages character is maintained whilst avoiding faults.  Wild yeasts, gentle extraction (pigeage), basket pressing, and maturation in larger older oak puncheon (25% new) are some of the techniques employed. The ultimate goal for Finch’s Line is to develop sales to the degree that they support a dedicated, permanent base within the Hunter Valley.

(2) Do you think the future of Aussie Shiraz is moving away from the typical Southern Australian style?

Throughout the late 80s, 90s and early 00s, some producers of Australian Shiraz (encouraged by certain high profile wine writers) made wines that championed a super extracted, concentrated style. It was almost as if concentration rather than complexity was the key to quality and in many instances, this was at the expense of terroir. Happily these styles (a number of which were South Australian) are now evolving. Producers have become increasingly aware of how to get the best out of their sites and are less fixated on phenolic ripeness and extended maturation in small new oak. Given that our climate will, in general, limit the production of ultra delicate styles of Shiraz, producers are continuing to adapt winemaking methods to enable the creation of balanced, more complex, terroir driven wines. Techniques utilised include slightly earlier picking, placing more emphasis on fruit (less and larger oak, lower ferment temperatures), and adding less acid (slightly higher pH = better mouthfeel). In summary, I do believe that the future of high quality Australian Shiraz is to continue to evolve away from the more super-concentrated “typically Australian” styles of the past.

(3) Who do you particularly admire in the wine world?

Maurice O’Shea. I have been lucky enough to taste three wines that he made from the 40s and 50s and they remain the most fragrant, flavoursome, refined and complex wines I have tasted to date. A genius, and underappreciated.

(4) What’s your view on English wines?

From those that I have tasted, some of the whites have been interesting whereas I think reds (particularly Pinot) struggle to ripen (in terms of flavour). In contrast, sparkling wines show huge potential and for me offer the best route to prosperity.

(5) And the question everybody hates…. If you were to be one wine what would it be and why?…..

Barolo. Adaptable enough to embrace modernity yet traditional at heart – with maturity and under the right conditions, capable of developing complexity and refinement.

 


Finch’s Lines Shiraz, Hunter, Australia, £19.99

November 1st, 2011

We have unleashed our critic on one of my favourite wines we have ever sold!

I make no secret of my love for Australian Shiraz, but like many people I’ve become increasingly keen on examples which shy away from the massive fruitbomb typed wines that previously have defined this wine.

Happily this has been replicated by a number of Australian winemakers, including those from South Australia, previously Fruitbomb Alley, showing the same preference…..

The Hunter Valley has never in my view embraced wines of a massively over extracted style, preferring to keep things slightly more Rhone-like. I find myself buying more and more wines of this style which has also seen me becoming increasingly keen on Syrah from Hawkes Bay amongst other New Zealand regions.

I was aware of the love for Finch’s Line at Find Wine when chatting to Mike Howes, and once he offered to send one I didn’t even try to play cool. I insisted he send it immediately which Mike thankfully did. Mike also sent a link to Jamie Goode’s blog where Jamie was effusive in his praise for Finch’s Line Shiraz (see http://www.wineanorak.com/australia/finchsline).

This wine is one which made an enormously positive early impression. My initial thought was of how pure the wine is, it’s just so clean and crisp. The purity of fruit, mainly blackberry and plum, wash over you leaving you keen for more and ensuring that the bottle seems very small indeed. It reminded me a lot of the top end Syrah coming out of Hawkes Bay.

To add to this awesome wine, just as I took my first sip a power cut hit, leaving us to drink the bottle in candle light. You couldn’t wish for a better setting to try a wine like this!

I’m not one for exaggeration, but this is one of the best wines I’ve had this year. I urge you to try it for yourself (though please, don’t buy it all….)


Jordan Sauvignon Blanc – 2009 “The Outlier”- £12

October 28th, 2011

There are too many wines these days which are, essentially, “wines by numbers”. This has become, in my view, a bit of a problem with entry level Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Not many winemakers seem to be going out on a limb and producing wines with that little bit of character, that certain something which makes a wine stand out. To be fair, price constraints may dictate this. They’re knocking out the standard Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and you can kind of understand this. Brits in particular have been falling over themselves over the past five years to snap up anything containing the magic words of “Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc” on the label.

 

I’ve taken lately to focusing on South African Sauvignons (admittedly not helped by recently winning a year’s worth of New Zealand Wine in a competition…..) and this wine shows why it’s worth having a deeper look into what South Africa can offer from this brilliant grape.

The minute I took a sniff of this wine I knew it was not another mindless Sauvignon Blanc drone. The smell is almost quite earthy. Once you taste it you’re struck by the pungent nature of this wine, it tastes like the winemaker has left it to get on with it rather than fiddling with it for hours, days and weeks on end. It is absolutely jam packed with green pepper notes and a very nice hint of oak which is wonderfully well integrated into the wine. In short, it is an enormously character packed wine.

Do give this a try, it really made me smile and it really is just that little bit different!

Available at www.findwine.co.uk on the main buying page…do not miss out!

 


Champagne

October 27th, 2011

Do you really like Champagne? I mean actually genuinely like it, do you really get £30 worth of benefit out of a single bottle? And when did you last go into a wine shop and spend £30 on a bottle of still wine?

I am sure I have written before about how remarkable the marketing behind the big Champagne brands is, it should be they spend a fortune on it. However the cache that has built up around the word Champagne over the years does as much to contribute to the the fact that whenever there is something to celebrate, people blow the budget on bubbles. This historic reputation for celebration is more complex to explain, but essentially, anything that is more expensive to make, is more expensive to buy and therefore more impressive to serve- an idea that has filtered down through generations to make people who would turn green at the idea of buying a bottle of Burgundy for £30 reach straight for any bottle of fizz at the slightest whiff of an occassion, no matter what the contents of the bottle actually tastes like!

I have been considering Champagne this evening, as someone has just poured me a glass of Moet et Chandon…without wanting to sound like a wine snob…it’s awful, not helped by not being cold enough. Luckily I didn’t buy it myself! Firstly, Moet is not  a bad Champagne, just young, keep any bottle for 2-3 years and you will notice a stark contrast in quality. Secondly, as I come to drink more wine I am beginning to realise that Champagne just doesn’t do it for me that much. Of course I enjoy it from time to time, I really enjoy it if it is good- not necessarily expensive but good. But rarely, if ever have I been blown away by a glass of Champagne, unlike wine, which shocks and surprises me on a regular basis.

Of course there is the climatic pop and fizz when a bottle is opened (although any good butler will tell you that the sound should never be louder than a Duchesses fart!), then the heady moment when your mouth fills with a gently frothing foam and the bubbles rush to your head in such a way that just makes you want to misbehave…It’s all very exciting! But would it be so exciting if it were cheap?!

Asti is full of bubbles, it opens with the same satisfying pop and the physical experience of drinking it is not dissimilar, other than a bit more sweetness…but I have never seen P-Diddy or Snoop Dogg rapping about it, nor has any polo event been branded by a top Asti producer!

As festivities flirt their way into the wine trades consciousness , Champagne begins to loom. I know I will sell a large amount of Champagne over the next few weeks, lots of people will ask what I recommend- Of course I will tell them I think Lallier Grand Cru is the best, it is £25 from www.findwine.co.uk and blows the socks of anything else in it’s range- I still wouldn’t buy it for myself though just to drink.

By all means if you can afford to drink lovely Champagne followed by lovely wine then do, as much as I have criticised it, a fine glass will always bring a smile to my face. However if you are going to splash out on lash this Christmas I would highly recommend you spend your hard earned cash on some decent wine and don’t worry too much about Champagne for Champagnes sake…you could even be very brave and try some Asti, it is the best hangover sure I am yet to find!


Where To Find New Customers?

October 6th, 2011

We have been selling wine online for a while now, well two years actually and there is a question I seem to always ask myself. Where to find new customers?

Now obviously we have managed to find some customers, in fact you are probably the ones actually reading this blog…if you are, thank you, carry on buying wine please! You are the people that have helped build this company, our loyal followers but how to find more of you? (maybe you should tell your friends!)

Companies such as Naked Wine have proved that building a large database of customers is easy if you partner with enough companies and organisations and give away massive vouchers to draw them into the first purchase. The latest I have heard about is that if you are a member of DenPlan you get a £40 voucher for Naked. Soon it will be difficult to buy or sign up to anything without being given a voucher for Naked Wine. I can’t criticise them, it makes a lot of sense and it demonstrates how to very quickly grow a wine business, the only issue is what it costs them to give such large introductory offers. Unfortunately the wine trade is plagued with miserably low margins, therefore given away that much money to find a new customer is tough, if not impossible. Plus I wander how many of those customers then repeat without the incentive of a large discount? They probably did when they thought Naked was a very cool, unknown online merchant seeking out fantastic unheard of wines. However now that it is hard to buy a newspaper without being given a discount at Naked, their little club of Angels does not seem quite so exciting.

So that is the massive introductory offer method out- plus unfortunately we don’t have the cash to back up such a campaign, otherwise it is more likely I would be paying someone to write this blog for me!

So what else to try? Social media? A colossal buzz when I entered the wine trade, bloggers were emerging as worthwhile critics, Twitter was their vehicle to promote their activities and to tell the rest of the world which tasting they had blessed with their presence that day. But who is reading these blogs and Tweets? Look through Twitter and you will find that most communication is limited to discussing stuff with each other, not members of the public hanging on their every word waiting to be told what wine to buy next. Before I go on, I must say that actually there are a handful of bloggers who have been a huge help to Find Wine and before you through your iphone at your mac book and refuse to read on, please do…I am building up to make a relevant point!

So, what about the traditional media? Famous wine journalists with fancy national paper columns, surely read by hundreds of thousands of people desperate to know what to drink. You see them at tasting, sweeping through the room, furiously making notes on hundreds of wines, their highly honed taste buds analysing every last flavour within the wine. Companies spend fortunes on sending their products to these people, probably even more taking them out for dinner but what for? We have had specific wines written up in every top column in the country and never once have we noticeably sold a bottle on the back of it. So what’s the point of playing the game, other than to keep Tim Atkins thirst quenched?

So, you see my predicament. Sure given endless funds I would take over Victoria train station, have lot’s of people dressed as grapes appear from nowhere, do a dance to commuters and give them all a glass of wine, film everything and play the footage during the adverts of Downton Abbey. But in the real world what should I do?

I think the secret is to do all of the above (except perhaps the train station stunt!). No one of these activities will find new customers but a sensible combination of them all and you will be reaching the people you want, the ones that really care, plus a few others that don’t really care but will spend some money on the way through!

Imagine this- You are someone who isn’t that fussed about wine, you wouldn’t normally spend time reading about it but are interested enough to take note of good advice. You buy some clothing from your favourite mail order store as a treat and as a thank you they offer you a (sensible) discount off some wine from a company they know you will like. Perhaps you don’t take up the offer right away. Then you are playing around on Twitter, finding out what Phillip  Schofield had for breakfast and a random wine blogger you happened to follow recently, mentions a great wine they have just tried from the same company, you take note and remember to look at their website sometime. Then over your bacon and eggs on Sunday morning you are reading the Daily Mail, Live magazine and Olly Smith has managed to tear himself away from his comb and gel and has produced a column about the latest, coolest sauvignon and that same company crops up. You give it a go, you love the wine and the service and then you tell your friends and they forget until again they see this same name crop up here and there and it starts again.

It may not explode instantly into massive sales and a threat to Tesco but slowly but surely a a loyal customer base will grow and in the long run that will give the brand real value!

We need to get back on track with this plan, we have been neglecting certain elements and it is amazing how quickly things slow down. Who knows you maybe checking out a wine website, read a blog on it and think, they sound like lovely people, I think I will give them money!


Everyday Wine

October 5th, 2011

Everyday wine- it is a well used phrase to describe wine, something that suggests anything from £4.99 to £10, that could be anything from the most obscure German riesling to the biggest Australian Shiraz you could find. But what do people want to drink everyday?

I find myself using this mysterious phrase a lot, especially when people ask what sort of wine we sell on Findwine.co.uk- we sell everyday wine, i.e. it’s not that expensive or flash. But it says nothing about the character of the wine, should everyday wine be simply bland and functional? something to serve a purpose and nothing else? Have we got to the stage where people reach for a bottle of wine as if it were a can of coke? Something predictable and without any variation.

I reckon the the average UK consumer will reach for a bottle of wine when returning from work and spend minimal time considering what it is, where it has come from or whether they even like it or not, all that matters is that this is a drink which contains alcohol and taste slight fruity. Is this everyday wine? Should I, as a UK retailer be pandering to this market and be seeking out the most generic of wines to satisfy the needs of the many for who wine possesses no pleasure beyond a relaxant and thirst quencher.

I appreciate that the chief function of wine is to be a drink and therefore being liquidy is all that is really required of it.

However personally I think that however cheap, drinking wine should be joyous and inspirational experience and not just a function of the day, even if it is £4.99 (and if you don’t think you can be inspired or made joyous for £4.99 then let me point you in the direction of Les Trouveres red!).

Everyday wine should really be about wine that you can open, not feel guilty about what you have paid for it and feel lifted, whether it marks the end of a long day or the beginning of a celebration, wine is for pleasure and not for function. The wine is in the market place, it is up to the UK trade to educate the consumer as to what is available beyond the dull and predictable drinks that dominate the marketplace.

Everyday wine can be exciting!


Passion Re-ignited

September 16th, 2011

It has been a busy summer, not just with Find Wine but with life generally and as a result I have not actually been thinking about wine too often! I have consumed plenty, probably too much but very little has made me excited, just hung over!

So as the summer draws to a close and a school year begins it is great to get back to thinking about wine that goes beyond just being a drink and what better way to do that than to go out for lunch with Col McBryde, one of the three Young Punks, which I have raved about in the past. I had never met Col before, or any of the other Punks for that matter and what struck me quickly is that first and foremost they are passionate about their wine.

The lunch itself was actually very good, if you ever need a decent feed just off the M62 then turn off at Saddleworth and there is a great pub called the Ram just after the junction. Great food, although be warned Geoff the owner does like his food, we were lucky that when we sat down he had an enormous steak to hand otherwise I fear he would have eaten our party.

If you have not seen a bottle of Some Young Punks Wine then look at them on our site right now (well when you’ve finished reading!) or head to their website. You would be forgiven for thinking that the fancy packaging is a cover up for an inferior product or the whole thing was a gimmick but you could not be further from the truth. These guys are keen as custard to make a cool, stand out brand but what goes inside the bottle is still the most important thing!

What they are making are fantastically individual and innovative wines, something that I fear is lacking in a lot of Australia at the moment. At the beginning of this brief piece I mentioned that it was very great to be back on track of getting excited about a wine rather than treating it just as a drink, Passion Had Red Lips is the perfect tool for this job. These wines make you excited, like a beautifully wrapped gift, you just want to tear away the paper and find out what is inside and then revel in the delicious glory of it.

If you have never bought any of these wines from us, please if you buy nothing else from us all year buy a few from the range, you will not be disappointed. I would love for all our customers to experience that moment of excitement when you first see, smell and taste a Punks wine.

We tried some of last years Passion Has Red Lips, which is tasting glorious after a year in our cellar, some Monsters Monsters Attack riesling, a style more akin to a spatlese than anything else from Clare but gloriously luscious and nectar like. Then the new vintage The Squids Fist came into play with a bang, better than last year, a brave experiment with Austrlian Sangiovese from Barossa but a wonderful wine.

The two new wines we tried were what got me really excited. Double Trouble Love, as much as anything has one of the best names of any wine anywhere and the taste matched up. Then the new superstar in my mind, Naked On Roller Skates, when this arrives with us in a few months, I will happily roller skate naked to drink it. It will be the same price as Passion but in my mind will knock it off the perch as the most popular Punks wine.

This is by no means the most technical wine review I have ever written, in fact I haven’t mentioned anything technical at all, I have just been very enthusiastic. However, somehow the technical element or even grape varieties don’t seem to matter so much in these wines to me. I don’t care how they do it, I just like it! And I want everyone to treat them like that, the moment you analyse them you lose that lovely excitement and enthusiasm, which is what ultimately made these wines not technical research or sticking to the rules.

As ever, I was useless at taking photos of our lunch but here are a couple of their new wines we will be receiving shortly.

 

 


Viendo Sotes Bodega Sierra Norte 2005

August 17th, 2011

We have been quite quiet at Find Wine for a few months. If truth be told we have been spending a great deal of time in a volcano plotting world domination…although more information about that in the coming few weeks! Also I promise to get back in the habit of writing this blog!! Honest!

However fortunately our trusted and esteemed in house wine critic has been beavering away tasting wines on your behalf . I don’t know how he does it. He has found something he rather likes! Here is what he has to say…

Well what a little ripsnorter of a wine this is. This is everything I love from a good Spanish red, mainly subtle oak and bright and vibrant fruit notes (in this case cherry and plum). With a slight hint of cardamom on the nose this is all very pleasant.


There’s a real freshness to this wine which, given it’s a 2005, is quite impressive. Frankly the first glass vanished and if it hadn’t been a Monday night I’d have topped up a second pronto. This is a refreshing red with a good streak of acidity.

I drank this wine in total ignorance of the price for which it sells on Find Wine. When I later looked and found out it was only £7.99 I was beyond pleasantly surprised. What a bargainous wine this is. I suggest you top up. This is a perfect “not sure if we’re now in summer or autumn” wine…..


Some Young Punks- Passion Has Red Lips 2010!!!!!

June 15th, 2011

Last years smash hit wine has returned to our stocks. Here is what our resident wine critic thought about it-


It’s not just any wine that manages to persuade me to break my “No wine on Mondays” rule, but then this is not just any wine!

Let’s be shallow and start with appearances; it looks spectacular. I’m quite a fan of wine labels that dare to be different and this takes it to another level altogether….. The label really leaves you in no doubt that this wine was made by people who had great fun making it and is a wine which you’ll have great fun drinking.

My first impressions having had a quick sniff and a swig were that this wine is still in its infancy but it shows massive promise. If you can bare to hold off opening it for a couple of months (longer if you’ve a heart of stone) you’ll definitely be rewarded. The cassis notes are already present in abundance and this wine is definitely going to be a silky smooth wonder. The 60% Cab Sauv and 40% shiraz are skillfully blended and it’s a wine which puts a smile on your face.

I admire Some Young Punks for their no holds barred approach to wine. It should be about having fun and it should taste great. A big tick in both boxes…..

 


Heaton-Ellis Bike Polo

June 14th, 2011

FindWine .co.uk is very excited to be sponsoring The Heaton-Ellis Bicycle Polo Tournament on Saturday 25th of June. Not only will a range of our wine be available to buy at the bar but the event will be the first time that The Find Wine Peddlers will compete in public (or at all for that matter!)

It should be a great event and is for a fabulous cause, so if you want to show your support for your favourite wine company then get yourself to Firth Farm in Hampshire (very easy by train from London).

For more information about the charity and the event look here

It would be great to see some support for Find Wine there.