..... from the Douro Valley, Portugal ........
White port is not terribly well known in the UK so is super value for money. It's not really white either, more of a pale amber or straw colour.
So, to the nitty gritty. Fonseca Siroco White Port first introduced to the UK in the 1950s, is a blend of classic white Port grape varieties, predominantly Malvasia Fina, with smaller proportions of Gouveio, Viosinho, Rabigato and Arinto grown on the cooler, higher vineyards of the beautiful Douro Valley. It gets its crisp dry finish because it is allowed to ferment longer than other Port styles before it is fortified. Ageing in small oak vats gives Siroco its smoothness, blend of fruity flavours and delicate nuttiness.
Generally speaking, Port is enjoyed at the end of a meal. However, the exception is white Port. You can serve it chilled in a white wine glass or pour it over ice then top up with tonic - around 100ml port to 150 ml tonic - garnished with a slice of lemon or orange and a sprig of mint. Personally, I like to add a stick of cinnamon to my glass, but however you choose to dress it up, it makes a refreshing long drink. If real decadence is what you're after, have it for pudding, with white chocolate covered strawberries..... mmm. It's less decadent but also delicious if you accompany it with salted almonds or olives.
Once the bottle is open, dry white Port will keep for around two weeks or so in the fridge. Sweet versions last longer, for a couple of months or more, though are so tasty, they quite possibly won't last that long!
With over 160 years experience, Mentzendorff is one of the United Kingdom’s longest-established wine importers.
Stockists: Secret Bottle Shop, thedrinkshop.com, Amazon, Hay Wines
About: Fonseca Siroco dry white port is a balance of ripe fruit, delicate acidity and elegant notes of wood aging. Full and fruity on the palate, it has a lingering finish and an attractive, refreshing crispness.
Disclaimer: Mentzendorff kindly sent me a bottle of Fonseca Siroco White Port in return for an honest review.
Fonseca Port, Douro Valley, Portugal
Bin 27 shares the heritage, style, depth and character of the great Fonseca Vintage Ports. Fonseca Bin 27 was launched in Britain 40 years ago and continues to be blended from selected reserve Ports chosen for their smooth, round, full bodied palate and fine, intense fruit character.
Some of these wines are drawn from Fonseca’s own estates while others are produced from grapes supplied by independent farmers with which the company maintains a close relationship. Wines are matured in large seasoned oak vats to give them smoothness and complexity while retaining their intense fruit character. Blended for consistency of character and quintessentially Fonseca in style, Bin 27 is bottled when ready to drink. Cheers!
images Douro (c) Gilly Pickup
Bin 27 makes an excellent end to a meal with chocolate brownies or rich dark chocolate truffles. Like all youthful red Ports, Bin 27 is also an excellent match for soft ripe cheeses and berry fruit dishes.
Fonseca Bin 27 RSP: £13.50
Stockists: Majestic, Wine Rack, Getir, Virgin Wines
Fonseca shipped its first vintage Port to London in 1840 and by the mid-19th century had become among Engand's most sought after. Releases of 1851 and 1868 vintages built the House’s renown as a master of vintage Port. Fonseca’s three Quintas, or vineyard sites, are at the heart of the House’s idiosyncratic style of Port, allowing the production of distinctive wines, whilst also being a leader in organic and sustainable viticulture in the Douro Valley.
Quinta do Panascal was one of the ﬁrst properties to have organically certified vineyards as early as 1992, whilst Quinta de Santo António is a prize-winning model of sustainable viticulture. In 2002, Fonseca were first to produce a fully organic Port, Terra Prima, produced from a specific vineyard plot managed by head winemaker David Guimaraens.
For more information on these and many other wines, visit https://www.mentzendorff.co.uk
Established in 1792, Bodegas Hidalgo is one of the oldest Sherry producers in the world. It is quite rightly regarded as the deﬁnitive Manzanilla house, using only grapes from their own vineyards.
images Douro Valley (c) Gilly Pickup
Made in the coastal town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Manzanilla is a light, delicate, dry sherry which makes a fabulous aperitif. It can also be matched to almost any dish and is ideal to accompany tapas, mild cheeses and nuts. I love it with fish and chips! It isn't expensive either.
And the name? The picture on the label shows a ‘gitana' or gypsy woman who, so the story goes, worked in a bar. Her looks captivated Eduardo Hidalgo, an ancestor of the present owner.
Now to the Tasting Notes:
Very dry, refreshing, with apple, straw and nutty flavours. Light herbal notes underscored by a salty tang from the sea breeeze. Subtle, balanced. In fact, the perfect introduction to sherry.
The Manzanillas, premium and aged Sherries produced by the Bodega, are seen as benchmarks of quality worldwide. Using the best Palomino Fino grapes grown in bright albariza soils, gradual biological ageing via the solera process produces the saline, fresh Manzanillas of Sanlucar.
Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla
RSP: £11.19 (75cl), £8.00 (50cl)
Stockists : Waitrose (75cl) Sainsburys, Majestic & Tesco (50cl)
Want a taste of Italy without the hassle of getting there? The answer is Canvino, a fabulous new sparkling vegan wine which comes in recyclable cans. Easier to transport than bottles, the cans are lightweight and the wine stays sparkly and cooler for longer!
image (c) Mike Pickup
The wine comes from grapes sourced from a family-owned vineyard which has produced wine for a century using the traditional Charmat or tank method. In case you're wondering, that is the main process used for Prosecco and Lambrusco wines.
Canvino comes in two flavours, Rosé and Bianco, ideal for indoor or outdoor celebrations. Sparkling Bianco is a crisp and dry white wine, medium bodied, easy to drink. Although dry is style it is fresh and fruity with light floral notes. Rose is medium-dry, lightly sparkling and refreshing with well balanced fruit notes. Launched in 2021, all natural Canvino is the perfect companion for any event and is 100% vegan too.
Marc Laventure, Co-Founder of Canvino, said; “The canned wine market has soared in popularity over the past few years in the UK, so we are delighted to launch Canvino as the perfect new addition to your favourite portable tipples. We’re proud to deliver crisp and refreshing Italian sparkling wines that are as easy on the eye as they are to drink. Whatever the occasion, add some fizz to the party this year with a Canvino.”
Can I recommend it wholeheartedly? Yes, definitely. Gets a big 10 out of 10 from me!
Canvino is available at £3 per can with free shipping on packs of 12 or more from houseofcanvino.com, Amazon and other selected retailers.
The team launched in July with two award-winning sparkling wines (Bianco and Rosé), which are both refreshing, medium-dry and very easy to drink. Following this they will launch two Italian and wine-based cocktails, their take on an Aperitivo Spritz and a Raspberry Bellini in 2022.
(I was sent some cans of Canvino to try in return for an unbiased review, which all of my reviews are!)
Deliciously different, definitely.
For some reason, I had in my head that Zag was an alternative to beer but when I tried it, this tasted nothing like beer. Which was good. Great even, because I'm not a beer drinker. This had a minty, cucumber-y, citrus, lime, lemon, green tea flavour. Strong and oh so lovely!
Now to get down to the nitty gritty - it contains NO artifical sweeteners, NO alcohol and only a tiny amount of added sugar. Every can is just a meagre 54 calories. That's more than okay then.
The can itself stands out in a crowd. It has a distinctive colour and a look-at-me ZAG logo on the front which unfortunately I can't replicate here as I can't do the upside down 'A'.
It smells a bit like mint leaves mixed with orange. When poured, it looks like a light beer. Zag is refreshing, full of flavour, great for quenching a thirst and very more-ish. Unlike beer, you can drink lots of it without any after effects!
Zag complements strong flavours, so go on, eat your spiciest, curriest, fire-iest meals and you'll love Zag even more.
Another thing, ZAG contains Kombucha which is good for the digestive system and - so they say- helps weight loss and rids the body of toxins.
Alcohol free - vegan - no artifical sweeteners - low in calories. 12 x 330ml bottles £17.49 - £1.45 per bottle
A big thank you to the lovely people at ZAG who sent me not one, not two, but a case of 12 bottles of ZAG!
Eco-conscious Sea Change produce a range of wines all linked to a different ocean charity reflected on the bottle label. Depending upon which wine you choose, there's everything from dolphins to turtles to starfish. Doesn't it make great sense if you're an environmentally conscious wine lover to be able to choose bottles that help protect the environment, in particular our oceans and sea life?
As a wine and ocean lover I was delighted when the company kindly sent me a bottle to try - and yes, it was very good! Let me tell you more about all this.
Sea Change's sustainable, mostly vegan, award winning wines which come in light weight bottles designed to reduce the raw materials needed, are selected from European vineyards that share the company's values. There's no plastic wrap around the bottle neck and top, corks are bio-degradable, while paper for labels, partially made from grape waste, comes from certified sustainable forests. Minimal packaging reduces waste and environmental impact. So far, so great.
With every bottle sold, the company donates a percentage to Ocean Conservation projects. This cash goes towards funding marine life protection, cleaning beaches, ocean pollution education and setting up marine animal sanctuaries. I think that's fantastic. Many other companies could learn a lesson here.
There is no excuse for you not to choose Sea Change wine because they probably, almost definitely really, stock your favourite. Malbec? Tick. Pinot Griogio? Tick. Merlot? Tick. Prosecco? Tick. Organic red? Tick. Organic white? Tick. Negroamaro? Tick. Chardonnay? Tick. Rose? Tick.... you get the picture.
So, stands to reason, if you are someone who cares about our oceans and the living creatures who call them home, you can feel good about drinking this wine.
I was pleased to be able to work with Sea Change wine to help get their message out there.
More at www.seachangewine.com.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist /author of 12 books. Credits incl: Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, CNN, The Scotsman, Daily Express, Country & Town House, My Weekly, Platinum, Woman, Best, cruise magazines, etc