Wine Times – Award Winning!

From celebrity chefs to international crime writers, food critics and comedians; A-list musicians and Shakespearean actors – you name it, they have all dropped in to share a glass or two on our now award winning podcast – Wine Times. Yes, you read that correctly our irreverent but I hope informative podcast Wine Times has picked up a gong at the prestigious British Media Awards. And it goes without saying we’re delighted!

The judges praised the podcast for helping encourage a younger audience to engage with the club. I’ll certainly raise a glass to that! As I have always maintained, it doesn’t matter what wine you like (we certainly won’t judge) it is liking wine at all that is the main thing.

Over the course of two series, co-hosted by the brilliant Miquita Oliver and the hilarious Suzi Ruffell we have sipped, slurped and tasted our way along the Wine Route – through the vineyards of England, France, New Zealand and many more – even travelling (vicariously) to far off places such as Romania and Moldova.

At Universal Music Studios we opened Bollinger with the Grammy award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter, enjoyed Claret with Ian Rankin in Prestonfield hotel up in Edinburgh and enjoyed a glass or two from Down Under with former England player turned cricket commentator Isa Guha. It’s been a blast and now we have a second series underway with the outspoken food critic Grace Dent sharing her top tips on how she deals with snooty sommeliers. Marcus Wareing revealed his dislike of screwcaps and I told Angellica Bell what it is like to taste wine from the 19th century. The comedian Tom Allen recounted his worst ever wine experience in Tenerife and the ice-wine we shared with broadcaster and DJ Shaun Keaveny slipped down a treat.

Huge thanks must go to all the brilliant people who made it happen from the outstanding team at Wireless and the Club, our editor Ben Mitchell, and of course you the listener for tuning in and enjoying a glass with us, wherever you maybe.

Will Lyons

You can catch up with any episode you have missed here.

Jubilee Giveaway Terms and Conditions

1. The promoter of the competition is Sunday Times Wine Club , operated by Direct Wines Limited, One Waterside Drive, Arlington Business Park, Theale, Berkshire, RG7 4SW (“STWC”). 

2. The competition is open to all residents of the U.K. (England, Scotland, and Wales but not Northern Ireland) who have reached at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of entry (the “Competition”). The Competition is not open to directors, officers, agents, contractors and employees of STWC, any of its affiliated or associated entities or divisions, their advertising and promotional agencies or members of the aforementioned individuals’ respective immediate families living in the same household. 

3. By participating in the Competition, each participant accepts these terms and conditions of the Competition and agrees to be bound by them. The Competition is subject to all applicable laws. 

4. To enter the Competition 

a. the entrant must at any time between 00:00:00 16 May 2022 and 23:59:59 22 May 2022  

b. follow @sundaytimeswineclub on Instagram and. 

c. must like the competition post 

d. must tag another Instagram user in the comments section 

5. Only one (1) entry (across all social media platforms) per person. Multiple entries may cause you to be disqualified. 

6. There will be one winner of the prize. The winner of the prize will be selected at random by no later than 27 May 2022. 

7. If STWC runs the same competition (i.e. a competition with the same dates and prize) across different sites or social media platforms and the same winner is randomly selected to win more than one competition, the winner shall only be entitled to win one prize. 

8. The winners of the prize will be contacted by 27 May 2022. Three attempts will be made to contact the winner of the prize through the platform they entered the Competition. If the winner does not respond via DM (Instagram direct message) within 7 days of STWC’s first message to accept the prize, an alternative winner will be selected. 

9. STWC will contact the winner via Instagram direct message, or email (depending on their method of entry) to request their details (name, age and address) for the purposes of claiming their prize only. 

10. STWC will send each winner one 75cl bottle each of Opi Malbec, Il Papavero, Vinha do Fava, The Prophet by Chapel Hill, Cabalié Cuvée Vielles Vignes, L’Occhiolino, Moulin de Pontefract, Hole in the Clouds Sauvignon Blanc, Atakarma Sauvignon Blanc, Passionada Alvarinho and Alessandro Gallici Prosecco Anniversario, plus one 150cl bottle of Queen Been Viognier.  No refunds will be given. 

11. The prize will be sent out via courier, STWC cannot be held responsible for any prize not received by the winner. 

12. Odds of winning the prize will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. 

13. STWC retains sole discretion to withhold the prize without liability if in its view a participant is ineligible, the entry is invalid, or a winner does not meet the necessary requirements as set out in these terms and conditions. 

14. Wine may contain sulphites. If a substitution is made due to availability issues, this allergen summary may not reflect the content of the substituted product. 

15. STWC reserves the right to withdraw or amend the Competition in the event of unforeseen circumstances or circumstances outside of its control. 

16. You acknowledge that the Competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. 

17. You acknowledge and accept that Instagram will not be responsible or liable for this Competition.  

18. STWC is not responsible or liable for: 

a. Any entry for which the post or comment is lost, deleted or deemed abusive by Instagram; 

b. Any accounts that are deemed to be fraudulent or not authentic; 

c. Unforeseen changes in Instagram legal or commenting rules & regulations; 

d. Any external factors that may restrict a participant from accepting their prize; 

e. Any entries that cannot be found or seen by STWC; and 

f. Any entries that cannot be opened or are otherwise inaccessible for any reason by STWC. 

19. There is no cash alternative for the prizes. 

20. If there is a dispute between you and STWC in relation to the Competition or these terms and conditions, you may take legal action against STWC, and STWC may take legal action against you in either the English courts or the local courts in the part of the UK where you live. The applicable law will be that of the location of the court. 

21. The entrant must read and understand the privacy notice for this Competition at https://www.sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk/customer-services/privacy-policy-and-cookies. In addition, the following privacy notice also applies to the Competition: 

If you are a winner, we will ask for your postal address so that we can deliver your prize to you, and we may ask for additional information in order to verify your age. We obtain all of this information from you directly. 

We’ll use your personal data in order to run the competition fairly and properly, and if you are a winner, to tell you that you’ve won the competition and to make any further arrangements with you, including to repost your winning entry on social media, and to deliver your prize to you.  We may pass on your details to verify your age to ensure that we only give products containing alcohol to those aged 18 or over. The CAP Code also requires us (as the promoter of this competition) to either publish or make available certain information about prize winners. You can object to this information being published or made available by contacting us on 03330 142 776 or dpo@thesundaytimeswineclub.co.uk. Please note that, even if you opt out, we may still have to provide the information and winning entry to the ASA. 

If your competition entry is a winner, we may share your details with the courier company we use to deliver your prize to you; the company we use to carry out age verification checks (if required); and with our core IT services providers

Wine Times Podcast is back for series 2

We’re back! Spring has arrived and as the vines begin their journey towards the new vintage, it’s time for us to pull some corks, twist some screwcaps and start pouring a selection of the club’s most delicious wines for a raft of lively and interesting guests.

Yes, you guessed it – series two of Wine Times is here! Not only that, we have a new venue, new co-host and of course some fascinating new wines to sip and enjoy!

As we say goodbye and a huge thank you to Miquita for expertly guiding us through our wine journey so far, we say a big hello and welcome to the brilliant comedian and broadcaster Suzi Ruffell, who has taken up the mantle of ‘apprentice in wine’ to guide us through our second series.

Joining Suzi and myself in our new home in London Bridge will be a raft of exciting and interesting guests including broadcaster and restaurant critic Grace Dent, celebrity chef and Masterchef judge Marcus Wareing and the king of political commentary Matt Chorley. And that’s not all, we’ll be joined by a raft of others who will be popping in to enjoy some still, sparkling, white and rosé with us.

Oh, and did I mention we are up for an award? Very exciting! Series 1 caught the attention of the judges at the British Media Awards and Wine Times is up for ‘Podcast of the Year,’ we’ll be crossing our fingers that we’re successful when it is announced in May.

So please do join us for some good company, good wines and lively conversation as we go live on April 26th. And remember, you can listen to us through your usual podcast provider.

Will Lyons

Club Vice President

Meet four of our Vineyard Partners for a round-table discussion on what’s going on in the vineyard and the cellar

Vineyard Partner or not, we urge you to ‘tune in’ and hear what four of our Vineyard Partners have been up to. They give us a fascinating, wide-ranging insight into life as a vigneron in today’s climate. Pour yourself a glass, pull up your armchair and listen in to the latest.

Introducing our participants, we have Jean-Marc Sauboua, winemaker for both Bordeaux’s Château La Clarière and Altos de Rioja, Norrel Robertson, our Flying Scotsman and the mastermind behind the fabulous, old-vine Garnacha Sierra de los Sueños from Calatayud, Paolo and Anna Rita Masi from Tuscany’s Il Corto, and Tony, with news from Windsor Great Park Vineyard.

Topics are wide-ranging – conversations you’d never find in ‘books’, virtual or for real. They talk about the pros and cons of the 2021 vintage and the wines you can expect when they’re released. Each explains the tasks currently underway in the vineyard or the cellar, how they are adapting to climate change and the considerable challenges it brings with it.

We hear about new projects, new vineyards, experimentation with clones, grape varieties and methods … these winemakers are really top of their game and always looking to push new boundaries in the name of exceptional quality, authenticity and uniqueness in their wines. You’ll also get a taste of what dishes they might enjoy with each of their wines.

We promise you it’ll be a captivating hour.

Not yet a Vineyard Partner? To find out more, go to www.sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk/vineyardpartners

Interested in any of the recipe suggestions? Email us on Events.Feedback@sundaytimeswineclub.co.uk

Wine Times: Episode 10 – Jamie Cullum

Pulling the crackers, lighting the candles and eyeing up the mince pies for our Christmas special is none other than the super talented jazz musician – Jamie Cullum.

Jamie, who has just released his ninth studio album, ‘The Pianoman at Christmas’, recorded where else, but at the at the temple of music recording – Abbey Road, is not only an interested wine lover but also an old friend of Miquita’s, so it’s a very happy table at our Christmas get together.

The jazz route has taken Jamie to some spectacular venues which at times have coincided with the wine trail, such as the music festival held in the northern Rhône.

Jazz à Vienne takes place just a short distance from one of the most famous white wine producing villages in France, Condrieu, home to the heady white made from viognier, a wine that can smell of anything from apricot to May blossom. It was the scent of this wine which first opened the singer’s eyes to the complexities and layers of flavour that can be achieved in a glass of wine.

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He says it’s wines ability, like reading great literature or listening to beautiful music, to open another world and expand your imagination which appeals. ‘When you taste a beautifully made wine, you are tasting thousands of years of developed expertise,’ he says. The analogy is with music, where you are taking in ‘hundreds of years of culture.’

Jamie is of course married to the model Sophie Dahl and they both share a love of food and cooking, so we start Christmas Day with what else? A glass of bubbles, not from Champagne but from the Limoux in the South of France and a club favourite the 2019 Roche Lacour.

This was soon followed by the classic 2020 Julien Bouchard Bourgogne Chardonnay, before finishing in Tuscany, a region where Jamie first experienced a sophisticated foreign holiday experiencing not only how delicious food can be but also what a ceremony there is surrounding the meal.

‘It was a time of coming of age,’ he says. ‘Where I started reading Kerouac, Hemingway. Getting into art and starting to love jazz … going off into a sort of private world.’

We sip our Governo and think of the ordered landscape of Tuscany with its perfect hills and tended rows of vines. ‘It feels like there should be a part 2 to this podcast,’ he says taking a sip. ‘Recorded in Tuscany…’ I’m already persuaded.

Will Lyons

To listen to Wine Times download it from wherever you get your podcasts.

The Wine List

2019 Roche Lacour Crémant de Limoux

2020 Julien Bouchard Bourgogne Chardonnay, France

2020 Governo, Saracosa, Toscana, Italy

Wine Times: Episode 9 – BOSH!

It was an absolute delight to explore the world of plant based food with the charming Yorkshire duo, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby aka BOSH!

With Veganuary upon us and the inevitable call for abstinence, it’s probably not a bad idea to enjoy a couple of days off meat and dairy a week– a flexitarian approach if you will.

But did you know that you might have to keep a close eye on the wine too? A lot of winemakers use animal products to ‘fine’ their wine such as fish products, gelatines and egg whites.

Fortunately, there are a swathe of wines that avoid the use of these in their production although you will need the club to do the sifting for you as it probably won’t say on the label.

Keen to learn more and to improve my plant based wine matching skills I picked out three French wines whose traditional pairing you might describe as being either meat or dairy. How did we get on? Well, we started in the Loire Valley with a glorious Sancerre from Domaine Michel Thomas, which the lads suggested pairing with their Cacio e Pepe, a sort of Italian mac and cheese which, (as they describe) should be obliterated with plenty of pepper. I can see that working and what I do like about their cooking is they are men from my own heart, in other words they are not ashamed to go for simplicity or in their words, keep it ‘unashamedly basic.’

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From Sancerre we headed East to Beaujolais for a silky and floral Fleurie, Les 3 Madones, which they described as ‘super easy to drink and tutti fruity’. Mushrooms, a vegan platter and even a tofu sandwich were all suggested.

Now, for the biggest challenge of them all. What does one pair with a full-bodied Claret from Bordeaux’s Left Bank? In this case Chateau Roquegrave. For meat eaters, it is of course roast beef so what did Ian and Henry suggest? The ‘Impossible Burger’ of course! A vegan burger I first tasted, entirely by accident, in Napa Valley – we didn’t set it up honest!

And with that it was time to go; with our new friends describing it as ‘genuinely the best podcast we have ever done.’ We’ll certainly raise a glass to that!

Will Lyons

To listen to Wine Times download it from wherever you get your podcasts.

The Wine List

2020 Sancerre, Domaine Michel Thomas, Loire Valley, France

2020 Les 3 Madones, Fleurie, Beaujolais, France

2018 Chateau Roquegrave, France

Wine Times: Episode 8 – Ian Rankin

We met in the sumptuous surroundings of Edinburgh’s spectacular Prestonfield hotel for our episode with the best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin.

Although his lead character, Inspector Rebus, is better known for enjoying a pint of real ale in his beloved Oxford Bar (or a dram of whisky for that matter) his creator has a passion for wine.

With Ian having ‘trod the grapes’ in arguably the most famous post-war vintage in Bordeaux, 1982, nor far from Château La Clarière in Castillon, we did of course enjoy a glass of red Bordeaux.

As Ian pointed out, Edinburgh has a rich history of drinking claret. We know from the memoirs of Scottish judge and literary figure Lord Cockburn, expertly summarised in Billy Kay’s vinous history “Knee Deep in Claret” that in the 18th century a cargo of claret would arrive in the port of Leith to the north of the City. A hogshead would then be carried through the town in a cart with a horn. Anyone who wanted to have a little taste could stop the cart and fill up their jug for sixpence.

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But our vinous journey began across the border, in Oxfordshire with a Club favourite – Wyfold rosé, which we agreed would be absolutely ideal with a simple plate of smoked salmon and buttered bread on Christmas morning.

Throughout it’s nearly 50-year history the Club has always been good at sniffing out interesting new wines from undiscovered wine regions. In that vein, we journeyed to Moldova for the perfumed and summery Viorica from Château Vartely.  As Tony once said, many club members would be forgiven for not knowing where Moldova is, let alone that it made wine. And good wine too!

We ended with a brief discussion on blind wine tasting and wine clubs. Ian once joined me for the 20th anniversary of the Edinburgh v St Andrews match. I did think he might be a crack blind wine taster as on the Edinburgh street on which Ian used to live, there was a wine circle, where they would meet and sample various wines. However they didn’t learn much – after years, Ian admitted they were no further forward in trying to discern what the wines were. Somebody would host it and at the end they would say: ‘more research needed.’ Which was a bit cheeky as I gave them a tasting a few years ago!

Will Lyons

The Wine List

Wine Times: Episode 7 – Emily Dean

The broadcaster and author Emily Dean has a request. Emily, who has a hugely successful podcast series called ‘Walking the Dog’ where she takes her canine companion Ray out for a walk with a raft of well-known celebrities (and their dogs of course), has refined her tastes in recent years.

Emily’s looking for lighter styles of wine or even wines with no alcohol at all. The latter was a little too challenging and this is a wine podcast after all so I opted for an exploration of lighter styles.

I have some sympathy with Emily’s plight. When I began my wine studies, nearly 25 years ago now, we had a tutor who always used to say wouldn’t it be nice if the alcohol of all wine was around 5-9%? Back then I never understood the appeal but now I see that you don’t always want a huge slug of alcohol in your glass.

Traditionally, the place to look for lighter style wines was of course the steep sided valleys of Germany’s Mosel river where the Riesling grape variety is glorious at 9%. As a rule of thumb I would extend that to cooler climates such as England, parts of Canada, Tasmania and the upper reaches of France.

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So our journey began in the Loire Valley with a retro choice – a Muscadet that was gloriously fresh and tangy made by Domaine Gadais.

After a brief discussion on the merits of corks v screwcaps we headed down to Provence for a wine that can’t fail to lift the mood – the PS Pétillant Rosé NV, France – which Emily loved.

Swapping sin for sin we ended with a sweet wine where you replace the alcohol with residual sugar, with Seifried’s heavenly Sweet Agnes Riesling, which Emily said she loved almost as much as Jeremy Paxman’s dog – Derek.

Will Lyons

The Wine List

Wine Times Podcast: Episode 6 – Gregory Porter

‘Wine is analogue, not digital. It’s you putting the record on the record player, dropping the needle, sitting back and slowly enjoying the wine.’

We’re at Universal Music Studios in London and the Grammy award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter is sharing his love of wine with us on Wine Times.

Out of all the guests we’ve enjoyed sharing a glass with, Gregory Porter has the most thoughtful approach.

Perhaps it’s because in Germany his tour manager was for many years a sommelier, or that the presidents of the record companies he is signed to have shared with him some of the world’s greatest wines, toasting his many successes. Or maybe because as a hugely successful artist he has enjoyed meals and wines across Europe in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France.

‘I always want my family to have the experience as well,’ he says and so when he returns from his travels he buys wine and prepares a meal at home. Quite what he serves depends on where he has been and what he has tasted as ‘wine is about exploration,’ he says ‘because you never know what you are going to get.’

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We started in Champagne with a glass of Bollinger where we discussed the importance of the social aspect of food and wine. I was reminded of the Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith who writes that ‘wine is something which involves fellowship, shared interest and conviviality.’

From Champagne we dropped down to the Rhône Valley and perhaps to the most famous of all its wines – Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where we discussed its flavour not in terms of fruit but in reference to the savoury notes you can sometimes pick up on in wine such as vegetal, oaky and ‘farmyardy.’ Like smelly cheese, although to some the aroma can seem unattractive, within the right context it is heavenly. What might be the perfect food pairing with Châteauneuf-du-Pape? Andouillette perhaps?

And with that thought we emptied our glass with a brief discussion on whether listening to great music can make the wine taste better. In the case of Gregory Porter – certainly.

Will Lyons

Club Vice-President

Listen to Wine Times Podcast with Will Lyons and Miquita Oliver here.

The Wine List

Bollinger Special Cuvée, Aÿ, Champagne, France

2019 Le Prince de Courthézon Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France

Wine Times Podcast: Episode 5 – Giovanna Fletcher

We started where else but in Italy for Giovanna Fletcher.

The actress and author of ‘Walking on Sunshine’ enjoyed childhood summers with red wine always on the table, a legacy from her Italian father.

Our journey began in the north west on the hauntingly beautiful slopes of Piedmont, where, sandwiched between Genova and Milan  lies the small city of Alessandria.  Just south of here the Cortese grapes produce the crisp white wine, Gavi, which we imagined pairing with a fresh Bruschetta or a table laden with delights from Southern Italy.

As conversation meandered from Strictly Come Dancing (Giovanna’s husband Tom from the band McFly is competing) to tearing up the wine rules and trusting your own judgement, we headed west to Spain to perhaps their most famous region – Rioja. But I couldn’t resist pouring, not the most well-known wine from that region, but a glass of the insider’s choice – white Rioja from Los Hermanos which seduced Giovanna with its oaky, creamy character.

Completing our travels we headed back over the Pyreenes for our final wine, the 2018 Carignan Vieilles Vignes from a region within the northern foothills of the Pyreenes.

Here in the Agly valley to the West of Perpignan the landscape is wild and empty with many vineyards planted at high altitude. It is this combination of poor granite soil, dry heat and altitude which imparts in the wine a pleasing purity of fruit. From the top of Château de Quéribus, which is more than 600 metres above sea level, you get a spectacular view of the region, if of course you are brave enough to drive!

Listen to this week’s episode of Wine Times with Will Lyons and Miquita Oliver here.

The Wine List

2020 Gavi, Broglia Gavi di Gavi, Italy

2020 Los Hermanos Manzanos, Rioja, Spain

2018 Carignan Vieilles Vignes, Vallée des Aigles, Côtes Catalanes, France