The Rift Valley – Kenya

A bit of shameless promotion here – this is a piece that I wrote for Visions of Africa about a trip to Kenya.  Needless to say it was a pretty awe-inspiring trip!  Check out the fish eagle catching his dinner…

A hungry giraffe!

A hungry giraffe!

A Humble Tasting

As a guest of the Humble Grape wine tasting, I was swept into a world of intimate vineyards, an historic region and fabulous wines. The tasting itself was an overview of six wines from the Loire region of France, and was a congenial evening with relaxed hosts and excellent food to compliment the wine.

Saumur (Photo credit: besopha)

To me personally, it was a comfortable, friendly reminder of a region that I visited often on family holidays and it conjured up memories of fairy tale castles, stunning landscapes and the ever present Loire which makes this region one of the most fertile and best areas of France for growing vines. I already feel well disposed towards these wines – Saumur, Chinon and Sancerre are all names that I am familiar with for their turrets and battlements and now for their wines as well. The sandstone which was once used to construct the beautiful buildings is also apparently a fundamental ingredient of creating the kilometres of wine cellars which pepper this region.

Humble Grape are a small independent wine merchant who specialise only in small and often family run vineyards and their personal selections are often not found anywhere else in the UK. As such you can expect an elite selection of wine for an excellent price. And the best way to know what to buy is to attend one of their wine tasting events.

The Domaine des Mailloches 400.9 is one lovely vintage that we tried, produced by 8th generation Jean-Francois Demont – only 2000 bottles are produced a year if Jean-Francois is satisfied with the quality, and of those, Humble Grape import 120 bottles for each vintage. (The 400 refers to the 400 litre oak barrels in which the wine is matured for 18 months and the 9 refers to the year, 2009.) As Cameron said you can lay this bottle down for a few years, but why not drink it? I agree completely and this was my favourite wine of the night – wine is meant to be enjoyed with friends and family.

I have to say that I’m more of a red girl than a white and although the Domaine Balland-Chapuis Pierres Fines Pouilly Fume was excellent, I much preferred the reds later on in the evening. A couple of them came from the Domaine Pichard & Jourdan (Les 3 Quartiers Vieilles Vignes 2010 and L’Arcestrale 2010). The fact that I particularly liked was that the Humble Grape boys have to fight to get the wine – and it’s worth the struggle. Apparently Philippe Pichard is quite a character who still makes the wine despite his advancing years, but trying to get him to sell it is another story. Thankfully his wife’s gentler business skills are on hand to do the deal! And yes, the wine is worth it. The Jourdan family have managed to break into the insular Loire area and have bought the property retaining Philippe as the wine maker.

As a novice wine taster and often wine drinker I thoroughly enjoyed my experience. An excellent selection of wines that I wouldn’t have chosen myself and some lovely canapes. All in all a pleasant evening looking out over Shakespeare’s Globe, the Millenium Bridge, the Tate Modern and the Thames.

The next wine tasting events – 8th May for a Bordeaux Tasting, 15th May for a Tuscan Feast, 5th June for Italian Gran Turismo, 10th July for Burgundy.

Join the Humble Grape wine club from £180 per month including your first case, a complimentary magnum of Champagne or Bordeaux and various discounts and special offers.