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Many, many thanks to our village wine expert who contributes monthly to this page!

It aims to give a few ideas to those of us who would like to know a little more about wine without having to browse lengthy, complicated descriptions on web sites or in wine dictionaries. Click on the month to see the articles. It would be really good to have some feedback on the recommendations!

May 2014

Click the month of May above and have a look at the first article in the series where three interesting wines are described. They come from North West Spain, Italy and France. All are reasonably priced. Please let us know what you think if you do try them.  

June 2014 

This month's specials from our St Arvans expert are sourced from New Zealand and Argentina. He states that the Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zeland is 'fabulous' and also recommends a Mendoza from Argentina, saying that you can usually snap up an offer somewhere on one of the latter.  Click on the blue June link above to read the details and remember that you can contact the village wine-writer via clerk@starvanscouncil.co.uk if you would like to agree, disagree or recommend wines for his research.

July 2014

The white wine this month comes from Piedmont in North Western Italy and the red is a Pinotage from South Africa. Both available from popular supermarkets at realistic prices. Click the July link and read all about them

September 2014 

This summer has seen a huge increase in the number of bikes on Monmouthshire roads, echoing the rate at which the sport is growing nationwide. This month's wine report tells why they are used in the Colchagua Valley, Chile and, in particular, the Cono Sur Bicicleta Range. It's the way the workers get to work and travel around the estate, as well as being highly practical and good for the environment. So, to reflect the importance of this once humble form of transport, you will see bike symbols on wine labels from the region.  Click on the September link above to find out more.

 October 2014 

 The St Arvans wine expert is telling us to drink to an Indian Summer with the fruity and spicy flavours of the Gewurztrammel from the Alsace. Two particular examples are suggested, one from Tesco and the other from Aldi. For a good red , he urges you to try a Gigonda, originally from the banks of the Rhone but now waiting for you to pick it up from the shelves of Aldi. Something for everybody this month I think!

November 2014

As Christmas approaches , the St Arvans wine corespondent turns his attention to Prosecco, an Italian sparkling white wine produced predominantly from the Glera grape and deriving its name from the village near Trieste in North East Italy. For a red wine with panache, he travels to Portugal but advises readers to go only as far as Aldi for good prices. Click on November above to download the article.  

December 2014 

Christmas wines to complement the special spread! Our expert has  recommended a Sauvignon Blanc from the beautiful Loire Valley and the ever popular Saint Emilion with spicy cherry and autumn aromas. Perfect!

A sweet wine with the lovely name of  'Orange Muscat & Flora' by Brown Brothers is chosen to go with the Christmas Pudding and a late bottled vintage port for the cheese board.  

Christmas Dinner is a good reason to indulge!

 January 2015

 This month's choices are an Austrian white from the country's most popular grape, the gruner veltliner. The aromas are intriguingly described as ranging from fresh, green apple to juicy tropical fruit and from white pepper to mineral-laden nuances. It must be one to try for the nose alone!

The red of the month is a Rioja. One recommendation is from Aldi at only £5.99 so no need to break the bank.

 February 2015

The wine writer is on holiday this month and, unfortunately, is not in an area known for cultivation of the grape. So please accept our apologies but he will be back next month 

 March 2015

Our wine expert (Aristobulus) is taking you down under to what he calls the 'wine lake ' of Australia this month. You probably won't  want the first wine on his list even if you have a delicious leg of lamb for Easter dinner and are looking for a special bottle to complement the flavour. Penfolds Grange 2010 vintage apparently sells for about £400! It is quite interesting reading about it, however.

Fortunately he goes on to recommend a red from the same company that should tick all the boxes without breaking the bank. There is white too that you could serve as your aperitif. Both have the KOONUNGA HILL label.

 April 2015

The recommended white wine of the Month is Muscadet Sevre-et-Main produced at the mouth of the River Loire, a beautiful stretch of water with vineyards and chateaux  scattered along its banks. The red wine chosen is also French. The St. Arvans expert tells us that itis one of the best known of the ten Beaujolais crus and hails from the commune of Fleurie.

Read all about them and maybe they will become your wines of choice for the outdoor Spring entertaining that this lovely April weather seems to be promising!

 May 2015

California, here we come! This was the first New World region to be recognised internationally as a source of top-quality wines. A small band of pioneering winemakers appeared in the 1960's and began to show the true potential of the region. The late Robert Mondavi is credited with educating Americans on the benefits of good wine and good food, and the pristine, visitor-friendly wineries in California, particularly in Napa, are now the model for wine tourism across the world.  If you can't get there to sample first hand, simply click to read about a red and white that will tempt your taste buds

 June 2015

 This month the review covers the Margaret River area of Australia, a wine growing region whose climate is influenced by the sea.  Although the region produces just three percent of total Australian grape production, it produces over 20 percent of Australia's premium wine market.So for some ideas for a treat this month please click here

 July 2015

 Back to the Loire this month and no apologies for revisiting a region that is steeped in the history of vino-culture and offers such a wide range of top quality wines. If it is a Muscadet you are after, please turn the calendar back to the April 2015 report but for now our expert is taking us further inland to sample a Pouilly Fume and a Chinon. Please click here.

 August 2015

 The beginning of last month saw a one-day heatwave that might have led readers to believe that a warm, dry summer was on the way. Unfortunately that has not happened yet but August may still deliver some balmy days! If not,you can still open a couple of bottles of Italian wine and imagine yourself at a bar on the shores of one of the beautiful northern lakes, perhaps Maggiore looking out over the stunning gardens of Isola Bella?? Try a Soave from the Verona area or a Barola from Piedmont. both are reviewed by our expert this month.

 Please click here and no worries about the air fare!

 September 2015

This month we are back in France to visit Graves, an important sub-region of the Bordeaux wine region and supposedly the birthplace of claret. Red wine does dominate this region although dry and sweet whites from here are also very popular.  

 Our expert recommends a Sauternes that can be sourced from Lidl and Tesco and a Chateau Haut-Bergey 2006 at £25 or £16.66 if you buy two or more bottles from Majestic. He tells us that the latter is consistently top-rated and that ' Haut -Bergey’s beautiful 2006 boasts a deep ruby/purple hue as well as a classic bouquet of hot rocks intermixed with graphite, cassis, incense, and charcoal'. So heat up your taste buds and have a try! Click here to download.

 October 2015

 Our expert takes us to Germany for this month's choice . As a wine country, Germany has a mixed reputation internationally. On the downside it is seen as the source of cheap, mass-market semi-sweet wines such as Liebfraumilch. Among enthusiasts, Germany's reputation is primarily based on wines made from the Riesling grape variety, which at its best is used for aromatic, fruity and elegant white wines that range from very crisp and dry to well-balanced, sweet and very aromatic. There are also some interesting reds to try so pick up the information by clicking here and go along to your nearest M&S.

November 2015 

The white Wine of the Month is Pouilly-Fuissé, a dry white wine made from Chardonnay grapes. They come from Mâconnais area of Burgundy &should not be confused with the Sauvignon blanc-based wines of Pouilly-Fumé from the area around Pouilly-sur-Loire. Read all about it in the full report by clicking here and also read about this year's Beaujolais Nouveau. Celebrate this year's harvest on November 19th, Beaujolais Day !

 December 2015

Click on the month above to see what our resident expert offers you this year to tease the taste buds over Christmas. If you are looking for budget wines to work before the meal and with desert, he recommends going no further than Lidl but if you want to really splash out there are suggestions to help you decide just how to spend that cash. If this year's choices just aren't for you, please track up the page and re-visit December 2014. Between the two you should find just what you need to help Christmas go with a little slurp!

January 2016 

.Our expert takes us down under for the start of the new year. If you are one of the 'Dry January' followers, then please visit this page next month as there are some interesting wines to sample. Most wine drinkers know the name 'Hunter Valley' .and, indeed, the region has played a very important role in the history of Australian wine. Semillon is probably the best known variety of grape produced here but there are many others, including Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho. Please click on the date above to see this month's selection.

February 2016

Learn about Alsace Reisling this month Our resident expert tells us that Reisling is the undisputed king of Alsace grapes so read all about it by clicking on the link above.

For those who prefer a red wine, Cahors is the chosen one for February.A less well known wine area this one but the description of a typical Cahors wine is intriguing i.e 'darkly coloured (almost black)' with 'a meaty, herb-tinged aroma, hints of spiced black cherries and a whiff of cedar'. Could make you want to try it! Please click on the month above to read the whole article.

March 2016

White wine of the month is Constantia Sauvignon Blanc from one of the oldest suburbs of Cape Town, famous for its wine. You will find it has a light green appearance with interesting aromas of pineapple and passion fruit.  

As for the red of choice it is Valpolicella from the province of Verona, east of Lake Garda. It is usually made from three grape varieties: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara and is usually a light, fragrant table wines produced a few weeks after harvest in what we now call the 'nouveau' style.

To read all about it, please click on the date above 

 April 2016

Although back in Australia this month, our resident expert is introducing what he calls  a 'new wine phenomenon'. Easy to remember, the name of  'Yellow Tail'. refers to the the “yellow footed rock wallaby” and the wine is produced by Casella Wines Pty Ltd. based in Yenda, New South Wales, Australia. The same family began producing wines in bulk in the 1820s in Italy. However, in 1957 the family emigrated to Australia looking for a new start. The venture appears to have been a great success as they now seem to be well established in the bottled wine market. With the simple idea of a specific label colour for each type of wine, they should be easy to spot on supermarket shelves. e.g. Merlot is Orange, Shiraz is yellow, Chardonnay is Black and Pinot Grigio is Green.  Prices range from about £5.50 to £7. Read all about them by clicking on the date above.

 May 2016

 This month our wine correspondent is not talking 'White' and 'Red' , more 'Green' and 'Black'.

The so called 'Vino Verde' is a Portuguese wine from the north of the country. The vibrant colour is usually accompanied by a wee bit of fizz, giving it a fresh accent to go with the fruity and floral aromas. Read all about it by clicking the link above

As for the so called 'black' wines, you are looking at the area around Barcelona where the colour of the grapes is very deep. Amongst others, this is the home of the famous 'Torres' winery, which is wonderful for a visit if you are in the region, and which has given birth to several outstanding wines, including international prize-winners. You can try one of it's cheaper but still very enjoyable labels from most supermarkets but please read the advice offered first by clicking on the date link above.

 June 2016

 Speaking very positively and optimistically about the start of summer in St. Arvans our wine guru recommends welcoming the season with a sparkling Cava. Having fallen out of favour somewhat to the more fashionable Prosecco, it is time we revisited what can be a truly enjoyable wine. So please click on the link above to read all about it and you will also glean some facts about the arid area of south east Italy, Puglia, that produces some extremely smooth dark red wines. They are mainly produced from  the red grape varieties, which are unique to the area, called Negroamaro and Primitivo .

 July 2016

You don't just get information about wine on these pages, you also get fascinating facts about the history of the product, regions and growers. Click on the monthly link above to find out how one of the largest Chilean label 'Casillero del Diablo' got its name as well as guidance on buying two inexpensive but delicious wines from the producer. These are bottles that you can have sitting in your rack and reach for in confidence when friends arrive. The white is a Sauvignon Blanc with summer fruity flavours and the red a Cabernet Sauvignon which is described as having a hint of coffee and dark chocolate. Sounds sophisticated! Why not give them a go?

September 2016

Our wine expert had a month off report writing in August but no doubt the hard work involved in sampling all these wines for his reports carried on without a break! 

This month, the while wine that he is recommending is a Chablis from the  northernmost district of Burgundy region in France. He tells us that the cool climate produces a Chardonnay grape, from which the wine is made, that has more acidity than similar grapes grown in warmer climes.  

The red wine has the lengthy title of Côtes du Rhône Villages Plan de Dieu AOC. You'll get an interesting little bit of history if you click on the link above and read the whole article. 

 October 2016

St Arvans wine expert recommending 'Super Tuscan' red wine at over £130 a bottle? Where is he coming from?

Don't despair, he is talking about special occasions and downsizing to £15-£25 for a wine from the same region as the super-priced one above. read all about it and a Campo Viejo Rioja Blanco 2015 from at £8.00 for the fish course. Simply click on the date link above

November 2016

With the USA election hitting the headlines right now, our wine correspondent has decided to take us there once again and visit a State that has shown pretty solid Democratic support in the past, California. Both the white and red wines are economically priced and easily sourced.

Descriptions like 'handsome and so Californian it practically comes with a tan and a surfboard' and leaving a 'soft, lingering finish' on the palate, these are a tempting choice as we start the run down to the Christmas season. Read all about them by clicking on the date above

December 2016 

Christmas day is all about surprises. Forget your usual choices of wine and go for something different. You can also regale your family and guests with some background information on what they are drinking! You don't have to go far to get a bubbly aperitif from Tesco. The Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava is currently on offer at £7.00 a bottle.

A lovely crisp dry quality white, Premier Cru Chablis from Aldi could accompany the starter.  A rich red for the main course? Well you could try a Chateauneuf du Pape, CNDP Prestige de Princes 2015 from Majestic. 

 Finally, enjoy the fruity dessert of your choicewith with a glass of Madeira. Tesco are offering Blandy’s Madeira Duke of Clarence NV at £12.00 a bottle. and our wine expert goes so far as to describe it as 'fantastic' 

Please read all the details by clicking on the date link above. 

 January 2017

A new year and our expert takes us on a journey to Hungary where its most famous wine region crosses into the southeast corner of modern Slovakia. He tells us that long warm autumns and mists create perfect conditions for noble rot and the production of modern dry white wines as well as the long-established sweet dessert ones.  Royal Tokaji Dry Tokaji 2015 is the one he recommends from Majestic at £9.99 a bottle

The Red of the month comes from the Languedoc.but is made by an English woman. . After 17 years working in sales for a cooperative in Tuchan, Lincolnshire-born Katie Jones bought a small hillside vineyard near the village of Maury. One of her best products is Mlle Jones Fitou 2015 Domaine Jones at £14.99 a bottle (£12.99 if you buy 6) from Majestic. Believe it or not, our expert tells you that you can 'cellar it for up to 10 years'! You would have to be very patient to do so after reading his tempting notes. Please click on the date link above to do so.. 

 February 2017

 As usual, our wine expert gives us some fascinating facts along with his recommendations. Did you know that Boschendal is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa and that the farm's title deeds go back to 1685.  The estate's first owner who was a French Hugeunot refugee fleeing religious persecution in Europe and taking wine making skills with him.. In the late 19th century the estate became part of Cecil Rhodes' commercial fruit business and then was taken over by Anglo American.

Read all about this by clicking on the date above. It must be worth looking for the recommended Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz on supermarket shelves as they are not expensive but also to see the 'unique curvaceous bottle' shape which our connoisseur describes. Intriguing!   

 March 2017

Some visitors to this page will remember the reputation that Chianti acquired during the 70's and 80's. The label 'Ruffino' was sometimes sarcastically interpreted as 'that rough stuff' but it was popular. Indeed, many a bottle was converted into a lamp for the living room or a candlestick with artistic wax drips decorating the basket. 

It is very cheering to read that the reputation for what is inside the bottle has been turned around with what our expert calls the 'Tuscan Revolution'. Now all you have to do is look for the black rooster seal on the neck of the bottle and you can be sure of a wine with real quality. Read all about it and the chosen white wine of the month, a Limoux Chardonnay. For an example of the latter, you are advised to try one from a well known supermarket which offers truly good prices. So, please click on the date link above as usual to see the article.

April 2017 

Some wine drinkers shun Pinot Grigio after experiencing some dissapointing wines, but they might change their minds if they read this month's review of the La Prendina Estate Pinot Grigio 2015 from M&S at £10.50 a bottle. It may sound a bit expensive but our expert tells us that its worth the price to find out what a real, classy Pinot can taste like. Too many of us have been put off by the budget, mass-marketed Pinots.  

This month’s red wine recommendation comes from the Tejo region of Portugal. The region takes its name from the river Tejo (Tagus), which moderates the region’s climate making it more temperate than other areas of Portugal and contributes to the production of some excellent, fruity and vibrant wines. One to try is The Cabeca de Toiro Reserva 2008. Please read all the details by clicking on 'April 2017' above

May 2017 

 OK, so, if you are reading this, you are likely to be a wine drinker. You may also think that you know most of what there is to know about Jacobs Creek! However, I suggest that you read the notes from our local wine expert because there bound to be things that you learn about this popular label. Please click on the date above

White Wine of the Month:isJacob’s Creek Chardonnay 2016 and the red  Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2015.

Thanks again to Aristobilus for his regular contributions. As webmaster I have NEVER had to remind him about his reports!!! What a joy.

 June 2017 

We get a glimpse of 'the other side' of our anonymous wine expert this month as he shows us what must be his other love....rugby! Both recommendations this month come from New Zealand and you are urged to try them out and enjoy them whilst following the British and Irish Lions on tour.

Both recommendations are from the Oyster bay winery, the white is a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and the red, a Merlot 2014 Hawke's Bay. If you like them and want to stock up for the future, you are advised that bargains can be had if you are happy to but half a dozen at a time.

And to quote the end of his report. 'Let us hope for a series win!! C’mon the Lions!!'  To see it all, please click on the date above