Jumping on the Christmas Wine bandwagon with a few good finds!

Well I could not let this one go with only 12 days left until Christmas…..so here are just some of the wines I will be enjoying over the next fortnight and before my attempt at a dry January!

My top tip if you can find it:

Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2010 – it must be the 2010!  Just google it read some of the reviews.  Decanter Magazine gives it an ‘outstanding 95+’.  I found mine on the bottom shelf of Costco hidden amongst the 2011!

Sticking with the reds:

Tour Chapoux Bordeaux Superieur – if you like Merlot, the 2015 has 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet and is on sale now in Waitrose @ the bargain price of £8.99

Gigondas Puech Morny 2015 – one of Lidl‘s new range of French wines @ under £10.00, this one is from the Rhone region based on Grenache but not too spicy.  £9.99

German Pinot Noir – I have tried a couple of these and find them very clean and drinkable wines. I will certainly be keeping an eye out.

And ‘easy drinking’ whites:

At the quite unbelievable price of £3.99, I found this little baby in Lidl. La Meridionale – It is from South Africa and is a blend of Chenin, Grenache and Rousanne and what I really enjoyed was the lingering length/after taste.  Serve with or without food.

Domaine Vieux Vauvert Vouvray 2015 – a beautiful ‘aroma of lime flower and citrus blossom’ @ 11.5%, a lovely aperitif.  Waitrose £6.99.

And finally, a delicious dessert wine – Vina Casa Blanca Late Harvest from Chile.  If, like me, you don’t go for Christmas pudding and prefer to stick with the cheese, just try this. The label reads ‘honeysuckle, lychee, citrus, floral on the nose’; ‘rich and smooth with beautifully balanced sugar and acid made all the more interesting to taste with a touch of honeyed botrytis’!  From The General Wine Company (also available on Amazon)

Enjoy.  Merry Christmas.





Cheers to healthier wines…..

Last week at my monthly wine club, we tasted some delicious Sardinian wines.  Not knowing that much about their wines nor indeed their country, I was fascinated to learn that Sardinia has been named one of only 10 ‘Blue Zones’ around the world meaning that the people of Sardinia are amongst the healthiest people in the world and that the Island claims to have the highest percentage of people living to 100.

Apart from a healthy food diet, Sardinians are partial to a glass or two of an obscure red wine called ‘Cannonau’ grown throughout Sardinia.  This grape variety, based on the Grenache grape but with a thicker skin contains various compounds in particular, one called ‘resveratrol’ which is high in anti-oxidants thus contributing towards a stronger heart and the potential of a longer life.

The one we tasted was delicious but not readily available so I am on a mission to find a bottle – however, whilst searching the shelves of Waitrose on Saturday, I did find an excellent Sardinian white wine – one of my favourite grape varieties Le Stelle Vermentino. This definitely falls into my ABC (anything but Chardonnay) and under £10.00 delicious wine category.  The tasting notes sum it up very well – “lemon, zippy and fresh, mineral with a long finish”.  Recommended.

And lastly, to finish off the healthy wine theme, a couple of other low-ish ABV wines which have been brought to my attention lately –

Olly Smith’s wine of the week @ £5.99 – Lidl’s Axis Riesling from the Clare Valley in Australia.  ABV 12%.

And available from Marks and Spencer’s an unusual Spanish wine from the North East Coast of Spain – Alaia ‘Txakoli’ (pronounced Chack-oh-lee) at only 11%.

Let me know you you find a Cannonau or indeed any other really tasty low ABV wines.

Who wants to win a spa industry award?

To win an industry award, you obviously need to enter (in some cases be nominated).  To enter, you need to believe that your spa is a good one.  To be good, you need to be confident in your team’s abilities, not only to deliver a 5 star customer service but to effectively promote your spa in a way that you are convincingly maximising your revenue and also the departmental contribution to the hotel.

There are lots of good spas.  But which ones are winning the hotel and spa industry awards in 2016?

Nominated and shortlisted in this year’s Professional Beauty Industry Awards (the winners being announced this Sunday 28th February) include:

Two of my favourite spas, Bedford Lodge Hotel Spa in Newmarket (who I have worked with recently) and Fawsley Hall Spa in Daventry (which I haven’t visited since Hand Picked Hotels took over).

Then, some good ‘destination’ spa hotels – Armathwaite Hall in the Lake District, the Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall, both Rockliffe Hall and the Headlam Spa in County Durham. Also featured Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire, Life House in Essex and Ribby Hall in the far North West.

I have been a judge for the past 5 years in Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine’s Annual Catey Award for ‘Spa Professional of the Year’.  This gives me a fascinating insight into what goes into making a successful spa.   Lucy Mingo who heads up the upcoming Headland Spa in Cornwall was the 2015 winner with the Spa Managers at Dormy House and Blythswood Square coming a close second.  Previous winners include the respected Spa Managers, Kerry Hudson at Chewton Glen and Anna Williams at Stoke Park.

Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine are seeking nominations NOW for the 2016 award.

Do you think you are good enough?  Do you need advice on how to win an award?

What is your favourite UK spa?  Who would you like to see win an award?