Best Smooth Wines

‘Best Smooth Wines’ is a popular part of the BSJ show. Angie joins Rod to talk about the new red, rose and white wines from around the world, tasting them ‘live’ on the show. Good bad or indifferent – Angie reviews them all.

‘I’m always honest about the wines we taste – if it’s not enjoyable, we’ll switch to another bottle – life’s too short for bad wine. Luckily I get to review some super wines and I love to share my thoughts on them with you’

Best Smooth Wines

As featured on Best Smooth Jazz

Bardolino doc classico 2022

23rd March 2024

A vibrant, juicy red wine mostly from Corvina and Rondinella grapes produced along the chain of morainic hills in the province of Verona to the east of Lake Garda. Bardolino takes its name from the town Bardolino on the shores of the Lake. From Hedonism Wines – thanks to a kind gift voucher from Lovely Murray in Florida.

Perfectly matched to our bouquet of Spring flowers, hyacinths and daffodils, we enjoyed the dry, definitely Italian notes, the slightly nutty tannins and the robust plum depths of this extraordinary wine. Be great paired with hard cheeses, good red pasta and sausage.


14th October 2023

So happy to raise a glass of delicious Ayala Brut Majeur to celebrate Juie’s Soixante Birthday. Thanks Brian and Emma! A great Champagne house in Ay in the heart of the Grand Crus since 1860, Champagne Ayala stands out by it’s purity of style from a preserved and bespoke savoir-faire. In short, this was crisp, toasty, citrus with a dry, light hint of floral. Nice bubbles and super robust aftertaste. (Would have enjoyed a second bottle! Still, quality not quantity.)

Chateau Le Bonalguet

26th August 2023

Chateau Le Bonalguet Bordeaux 2020 – 13.5%

Situated in in the charming village of Saint Germain du Puch, East of Bordeaux – within 15 hectares of vines in the clay and limestone soils. This Chateau Le Bonalguet is rich and dry, deep with cherry and blackcurrant aromas plus a side helping of delicious fresh fig. A gift from Peter and Helen, thanks guys. We loved it. A French red, we were pleasantly surprised by its mellow tones and juicy smooth tannins. Thoroughly enjoyable to the very last drop. You can find Chateau Le Bonalguet at Laithwaites – around £16. Thumbs up.

Castellore’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

29th July 2023

Nice cherry, berry layers, good floral nose with a hint of vanilla and crushed tobacco. This Aldi £4.79 13% Red went down a treat as we raised a glass to Britta on her Birthday! From Italy – medium bodied and richly dry, it would pair really well with strong cheese, pasta and venison or beef stew. Would have this again. Cheers!

Stamford Brook Shiraz

1st July 2023

Fair to say this juicy choice bounced with flavours of cherry, ripe plum and dark fruits. £5 at Sainsbury. A tasty 13% Shiraz - certainly not too dry but medium bodied, mellow and a truly terrific blackberry fruit nose. From the US winery that is Stamford Brook where their philosophy is to let the pure fruit flavours speak for themselves. (I was listening . . . . . .)

Baron De Ley Reserva 2018

10th June 2023

A lovely Rioja from our Dave's very dear friend and US WWII 392nd Bomb Group Memorial Association colleague, Jane Plant from Petersfield Hampshire. Jane is a lovely lady who also like Dave sadly lost a son - Tom.

Thanks Jane - really enjoyed this one from start to satisfying finish. This Reserva was aged for a minimum of 20 months in oak casks - I could really taste that. It was rich, warm and deeply delicious: hints of toffee, black plum and subtle vanilla on the tongue. 13.5%. You can find Baron De Ley on a shelf in Co Op apparently - enjoy, it’s super.

Beefsteak Club

20th May 2023

Established in 1705 as a private dining club that saluted the beefsteak as a symbol of liberty and prosperity. Today, we celebrate the best that Argentina has to offer - great steak and great Malbec (Rod and I did not get the beefsteak settling instead for bacon cheeseburgers - with extra gherkins post show).

It was a juicy malbec made from the high-altitude grapes of Mendoza. Deep purple in colour with ripe black fruits on the tongue and a rich nose. Tangy with soft tannins and of course, a smooothh finish. £6.50 from local supermarket and 13.5% vol.

Daou 2018 Pasa Robles Cabernet Sauvignon

14th Jan 2023

Couldn’t praise it enough, this super red cabernet sauvignon – kindly sent to us by Murray – was well rounded, deep and velvety. A gorgeous nose of blackberries and toffee. Tones of dry black fruit, cherry and vanilla from the first sip and a balm almost of coffee across the tongue. At 14.5% it packed a healthy punch but not overwhelmingly heady. Would be best paired with lamb shoulder or a spinach, cheese stuffed chicken breast – full of garlic and herbs. Salute.

'Thank You, Fiona'

24th Sept 2022

Russian River Vineyards – Pinot Noir from Sonoma County CA. Horseridge Vineyard. At 14.7% this subtle, deep dark delight packed a punch. Dense and with super nose / scent, the taste of sunshine through rich, velvety tannins, hints of chocolate cherry spice and held its body throughout. Recommended and was gifted for the show by Lovely Fiona – thanks.

Portugal 'Red Blend’

11th June 2022

A wonderful ‘Red Blend’ from Portugal – Mimo Moutinhi – rich and definitely full of ripe plums, would be great with cheese, red meats, and pasta. Choc full of red berries and spice, really enjoyed it with some smooth jazzy tunes. 13% from Aldi and only £3.79 – brilliant value.

‘Don David!’ Malbec

19th March 2022

Ripe dark fruits and a rich smooth finish, this blend of terroirs – Don David from the Calchaqui Valley in Argentina went down well with both of us.

From the Finca La Marravilla Vineyards, it’s known as a high-altitude wine, it had bright violet sparks and a good tannin on the palate.

(A cat snuck in when we weren’t looking . . . . .)

Canyon Springs

15th January 2022

Canyon Springs California Shiraz cellared and bottled by Eagle Rock Vineyards Lodi, CA.

Really nice at 13.3%, very mellow and juicy, ripe blackcurrant and black cherry with hints of strawberry, pepper and spice. Went down well. A firm nose an extremely drinkable with anything, good casserole – beef or lamb or a nice tomato pasta dish (even broccoli cheese dip!).

New Year’s Day!

1st January 2022

Yamantievs of Ivailovgrad – a tasty Bulgarian treat to celebrate the New Year. 2018 merlot at 14.5% with ripe black fruit, a subtle hint of vanilla and slightly smoky hues. ‘The crooked oak tree retells the story of a voivode and his treasure. The story of the soul within the eagle above the marble land. It protects the gold in the earth, and this is the ‘red gold’ of Ivailovgrad’. We played some smooth tunes, exchanged recipes in the chat room and shared the new year with friends around the world (plus 2 Kool Kats)

Nicolas de Montbart

BSJ Christmas - 11th December 2021

Actually, not bad at all – at £12.49 from Aldi - this Champagne blend would be great for a party and indeed was for ours - we had a dancing Santa, gifts galore and some wonderful Christmassy jazzy tunes to delight.

A super nose (Rev) stony peach with a hint of citrus, nice and dry on the palate with a bubble finish, however not too sudsy. We’re going to get this in for our Christmas Dinner – good enough for jazz as they say!

Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Ravenswood, California!

27th November 2021

For over 35 years, Ravenswood has produced Zindandels of exceptional quality and soul. Dave P sent us this great wine bursting with luscious flavours of blackberry and black cherry, aromas of chocolate and spice. Really enjoyed it, (thanks Dave) even more I would suggest than Apothic – and that’s saying something. This one is drier than the fragrant Apothic, a tad earthier and extremely drinkable. Served with a great lamb osso bucco or pasta surprise. Between £12 and £14 at Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose. 14.5% - real depth and balance.

Happy Halloween!

30th October 2021

Gotta say this offering was scary – Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – 13.5% Sainsburys, medium depth, great nose but tasted spookily bland. We moved swiftly onto a regular Shiraz – Aldi’s Grapevine at £3.69 – been featured on the show many a time. Some great pumpkins and deccos adorned the studio to the strains of some smooth spooky jazz.

Enjoyed by jazz fans and cool Kats alike . . . . . .

Happy Birthday!

16th October 2021

How time flies by – 11 years of Best Smooth Jazz and still grooving along. Celebrated with Leigh Jones’ suggestion of Aldi’s limited edition ‘Wine from Lebanon’ At £7.99 this 14.5% deep bodied wine was quite interesting. It had a suggestion of cloves and cinnamon, blackberry fruitiness and earthy spiciness. A felt it was just a little tart on the edges. So along came some chocolate birthday cake and all was well. Here’s to another 11 years, cheers!

Gift from Murray in Florida

17th July 2021

Back on the airwaves and received a beautiful gift box from listener Murray in Florida – how generous. We opened it ‘live’ on air and were overwhelmed to see two - beautifully wrapped in tissue - bottles of bourbon whisky. Maker’s Mark’ which have been keen to try for a long time and Buffalo Trace. Chat room participants were happy to sing the delights of both so stay tuned for our reviews of both in due course.

We were of course partaking in a little chilled Rose (Rosay) A neat Jam Shed Californian from Sainsbury at £6, 11%, certainly jammy and freshly fruity augmented by a frozen strawberry popped in for effect!

Thanks Murray!

A little bit different

30th May 2021

Rebel Canyon ‘kicking through the dust and dirt from the valley floor to the rugged hills, the rebel roams. Watching. Searching’ A nice juicy, plummy - with jam - spirited merlot. 2018 14% - from local wine merchant Murcatto. £5.90.

South African Joy

15th May 2021

Cambalala Western Cape, South Africa Shiraz £3.79 from Aldi. A rich, deep bodied oaky, brambly, fruity, toasty delight - actual Sunshine in a Glass, well enjoyed by ourselves along with some smooth Deodato, Peter White and Candi Dulfer – what better way to spend a late Saturday afternoon in Spring?.

Spring in our step

24th April 2021

Some fine jazzy tunes and 2 fine wines to enjoy alongside. The Baron Amarillo Rioja Reserva 2012 was a joy to behold. Rich and rustic at 13.5%, nice and dry with aromas of toasted wood and cocoa coupled with subtle spiciness and a silky vanilla finish. Would be great with pasta, ratatouille, roast meats and hard cheeses. Aldi at £12.99.

Continuing as having such a great time - Rod played some super music from some of the greats plus new artists – so had to open a nice Argentinian Malbec from Buenos Vide. From the Uco Valley this wine was vibrant and intense, softer than the first wine, with youthful purple tints and aromas of fresh fruits. Only £4.49 . . . . . 14% and a wonderful finish to a pretty smooth show.


13th March 2021

Cocodrilo 2019 – a black fruit, soft plum Malbec from Mendoza Argentina, superb from Aldi at £9.99. 14% and rich on the palate, it had herbaceous hints, a deep floral fragrance augmented by choc/coffee notes, all round, lovely experience. Perfect with a good roast chicken or Boeuf bourguignon or beef wellington, come to that! Second up – recommended by Geoff and Kate - Beachfront, a Californian Shiraz as unable to find the Zinfandel in Aldi, another 2019, 13.5% - much lighter and some degrees less dry. Be great with cheese, a light brie, camembert or plain old mature cheddar.

“Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's Party!'”

20th February 2021

We enjoyed another good Grapevine from Aldi – this time their Pinot Noir a wonderful grape at the best of times. Chilean from Valle Central, it was 13% pure cherry and blackcurrant, rather dry and easy on the palate. Perhaps a little too spiky, so followed it up with a slightly softer Tempranillo, again from the marvellous Grapevine range. Both would be good paired with hard cheeses, some good olives and maybe a nice oregano-based pasta penne.


30th January 2021

A pretty spiky red, Barefoot Merlot from California. Really nice with a touch of coffee/chocolate also plum and violet, great taste, nice nose and a fragrant finish. Currently £4.99 in Aldi and most supermarkets. 13.5%, well recommended.

Happy New Year!

16th January 2021

The beautiful Bollinger - gifted by Brian and Julie – was opened with a small pop (always best slowly and gently) and then quickly poured – full of bubbles. Super dry, crisp, fresh and citrus - a real treat and a great way to welcome 2021 and our first BSJ Show of the year. Cheers!

The resident radio presenter played some wonderful tracks so another wine on the offing. As Paulette pointed out, ‘Red after White, you’ll be alright’ – ‘White after Red will give you a head’ (Olde English expression, when following the etiquette of wine drinking.) Therefore, a red was indeed forthcoming – a charismatic Californian Shiraz from Beachfront. Deep bodied, subtle berries coupled with a fine black tannin, great nose and full of velvet goodness. . . . . thankyou socially distanced Aldi - only £3.99.

We’re ‘Jammin’

21st November 2020

Leasingham is a name that has become synonymous with premium Australian wine since 1893. This Jam Shed Shiraz pays homage to the original Leasingham winery, located in the historic town of Clare. The locals fondly refer to it as ‘The Jam Shed’ as it had previously been the Old Clare Jam Factory. For well over a century The Jam Shed played a crucial role in the development of the region through both jam and wine production and this quirky, delicious Jam Shed Shiraz has been inspired by the great preserves of old. Medium sweet and at 13%, pretty poky, we loved the vanilla, strawberry hints coupled with spices and a subtle fragrance, it was indeed literally jam packed with rich, opulent berry flavours. Served chilled, a great accompaniment to a bar b q, some nice Italian pasta, or even perhaps your Thanksgiving Turkey (or leg of lamb)


31st October 2020

From Rosemary and Steve’s Magic Cellar came this lovely little 2017 Nero Oro Riserva – Sicilia. Nero Oro being Sicily’s Black Gold. The vines for this Riserva grow on red, loamy soils known locally as ‘Ferretti’. It’s aged in Slovenian barrels for 12-18 months and is abound with black berry fruits, sweet ripe tannin with a rich finish. A pleasant fragrant spice on the tongue with a hint of chocolate and dare I say, tobacco.

The saying goes ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ and this gorgeous 2018 Shiraz from the Bird in Hand Winery in the Adelaide Hills was a deep, dark delight. Aged in tight grain French oak, this ‘Two in the Bush’ offered rich aromas of vanilla and blackberry. Illustrating perfectly the complexity of cooler climate red wine making. What foods would we pair with these two wines? Probably not pumpkin pie although a savoury pumpkin soup would be a good option, also a nice pancetta carbonara. Lunch and Supper sorted for All Saints Day then.

‘Heads’ or ‘Tails’

10th Anniversary Show - 10th October 2020

Faced with the wonderful dilemma of which Champagne to drink (first) we decided to toss a coin! Brian, Julie and Emma had gifted us a perfect Pommery which I was most interested to try, never had that before - and Steve and Rosie had sent us some Heidsieck Gold Top Monopole – 2010 . . . choices choices. ‘Heads’ won so I popped the Heidsieck.

Charles Heidsieck Champagne was established in 1851 by the nephew of Piper-Heidsieck's owner. After growing up in the midst of grapes, in a family ruled by Reims traditions, Charles became a traveller and free-spirited, smooth-talking gentleman entrepreneur, focused on his champagne business. With his distinguished charm and knack for business, he captivated America becoming a prominent figure of fashionable society in just a few months. Charles focused on making a name for himself and for his champagne - Champagne Charlie This superb chilled Champers was discernibly citrus, stone and dry apricot, a hint of floral and a crisp scent of the ocean. Thoroughly indulgent and inspiring, with tinkly, tiny bubbles to the very last drop.

As it was our 10th Anniversary and we were therefore celebrating, we opened up the Pommery next and what a surprise, a different taste all together – still fresh, dry and crisp but with more hints of lemon and petals, slightly less bubblesome perhaps, but right on the mark.

Thanks to our BSJ supporters, we had a great Anniversary show with many of our super listeners (many imbibing at the same time – silly not to) and raised lots of glasses, chinking cheers to each other across the World, from Texas to NY, to New Orleans, Atlanta, Bedfordshire UK, Wilts UK, Cheshire, UK, Germany, Dubai, Brazil, California, - so many places. Thanks guys.

The Soul of Portugal

26th September 2020

A red blend from Vicente Faria – The Soul of Portugal – was enjoyed on this show. ‘Animus’ 2018 via Aldi at £4.99


1. hostility or ill feeling.
"the author's animus towards her”.

2. motivation to do something.
"the reformist animus came from within the Party"

A strange name for a wine that was so good, no hostility whatsoever in fact. Rod’s first words after his first sip was ’jammy’ and I agreed. Ripe and rich with a plummy red cherry center and vanilla finish, light and airy but still rigorous and would be perfect paired with pizza, pasta and perhaps shrimp creole! The label is great too.

Many comments in the chatroom about the flowers – Le Petit Coral Burst - apricot colored roses (no fragrance sadly) a sprig of gypsophyllia, tangerine carnations and the omnipotent dried purple violet statice.

Champagne Charlies

12th September 2020

How lucky we were to be gifted a beautiful Bottle of Bollinger from Brian and Julie, celebrating their 30th Wedding anniversary. Never had Bollinger before but what a treat, gorgeously dry and crisp with undertones of apricot and vanilla, cool and fresh on the tongue with after-fizzles of lemon and toast. Thoroughly enjoyed it, previously my favourite has been the super Veuve de Clique and Dom Perignon (any year will do) but Bolly is now my firm favourite.

On the recommendation of The Rev we followed this treat up – between smooth tracks of best tunes – with a smooth, reliable Apothic Original Red, the super blend Winemakers, hitting 13.5%. This wine, inspired by ‘The Apotheca’, a mysterious place where ancient wines were blended, includes rich layers of dark fruit, complemented by hints of vanilla and mocha – and a tad of toffee too.

Segredo, Segredo, Segredo

22nd August 2020

Portuguese wine is my very favourite thing currently and this rather tasty Segredo Lisboa, Limited edition from Touriga Nacional was thoroughly enjoyed on this week’s show. Ripe and dark red with a super fragrant nose, a most delicious blend of the grapes Syrah and Tinta Roriz. 2019, 13.5% and priced at £4.99 in Aldi, a great day to day wine of choice. Would partner well with ripe cheeses, a rich bourguignonne or a simple pasta dish. The label caught the imagination of many in the chat room with The Rev recognising the Rooster as a fighting cock with its claw in a key . . . . . interesting.

Birthday Cat

25th July 2020

My birthday this week and received so many great messages in the chatroom, thank you. Celebrated with a rather perfect Chat-eu-Oeuf, pronounced ‘Sha noof’ – which translates to ‘Cat in an Egg’. Frenchly delicious with a fragrant nose, ruby red velvet tannins and a terrific lees at the base (so it must be good?) At 14 % it was every inch the best wine to enjoy with Jambalaya, Cajun sausages or even Angie’s homemade burgers, heavy on the chilli flakes. This luscious red is made up of old vine Grenache and Syrah (AKA Shiraz) making it a truly mouth filling wine with rich, juicy and berry fruit flavours plus a subtle twist of spice and toffee at the end. Available from Amazon, Waitrose, other wine merchants, however not currently Aldi. Lapped it up, cat like. Purrrr.

Unexpected Treats for Father’s Day

20th June 2020

Rosie and Steve unexpectedly and amazingly, dropped off a super arrangement of roses from their garden and some exciting bottles of red from Majestic Wine! What a treat. First up, the Porta 6 Reserva 2017, slowly aged in oak barrels, smooth and lavish – exceptionally good. With a blend of 2 excellent grapes – Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, it inspired a long finish on the palate, a soft mellow nose and ‘legs to die for.’ If you caught us ‘live’ on Twitch you can see the delight on our faces as we sample this delicious, wet bramble, juicy exotic fruitiness with a hint of slow chocolate. Imagine a stroll through the narrow streets of Lisbon – brought back memories.......

Then of course we felt obliged to try the French Jean Bon Merlot Pays D’OC 2018 – just as good. Nothing plain about this Merlot. At 13.5% it was deep and warm, fruity, fresh and clean - not a sour grape amongst us. In the chatroom during the show we discussed grits, shrimp, salmon dishes and what we planned for Father’s Day Dinner – Al’s usual suggestions were incredible, The Rev was cooking a special dinner and as always Paulette’s sweet and saucy desserts got our taste buds abounding – inspiring times. (Oh, yes and some great smooth Jazzy tunes – don’t forget those.)

Birthday Carignan

6th June 2020

Elle’s Birthday, so a little Estevez Carignan seemed like a good idea. Elle kindly sponsored the show and we had a great time in the chat room as ever discussing wines, food recipes and the state of the World in general etc, while wishing her a Happy Birthday from us all (not forgetting playing some great smooth jazz tunes too of course).

This Chilean Valle Central from Aldi at £4.99 is reminiscent of mulberry and blackberry, fruity and dry while still maintaining a soft mellow finish. 13.5%, so medium to deep – offering up a tasty splash of sunshine on the palate. Highly recommended. We enjoyed a homemade basil potato salad and pizza wedges with it but would be also so good with Felicity’s Charcuterie, Al’s seasoned lamb chops or indeed Paulette’s raisin cookies and cinnamon apple tart as dessert.

Classy Claret

23rd May 2020

Thought we’d bring a little class to our show so enjoyed a really good Claret from Bordeaux – Aldi’s at £4.99. 13.5% so well deep, yet mellow and so smooooth despite being really dry. Hints of hedgerow, blackberry and sharp dark fruit. Excellent, pair with cheeses, ripe stilton, a nice camembert or a good old-fashioned hard cheddar. Failing that perhaps Cumberland and Lincolnshire sausages with red wine gravy. Tantalising. Here it is nestling in a BSJ Quilt - courtesy of Quilter Sally, a regular listener – snuggled and secure.

Chapter & Verse

9th May 2020

Made by the team at Hardys, one of Australia’s most renowned wine producers, drawing on more than 165 years of winemaking experience. Chapter & Verse is an exclusive range of carefully selected wines which pay tribute to Thomas Hardy who after contributing to the early Australian wine industry many say wrote the book on winemaking, literally every Chapter & Verse. This fine Shiraz with fresh, fruity hints of deep cherry, plum and blackberry was mellow and delicious at just £4.99 from Aldi. 1.5%, 2019. Super.

Wine of Australia

2nd May 2020

A tasty blend is always a good idea and this Australian Banrock Station Reserve 2019 didn’t disappoint. Full of deep dark fruits, blackberry, blackcurrant, plum and sweet cherry, this soft combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz had just the right hint of spice yet was also silky and delicate. At 14% it offered an understated temperate elegance that would be great paired with lamb or beef dishes, a ratatouille or a perhaps a rich bowl of pasta – heavy on the tomatoes. £4.99 from Aldi, so as ever a good price for a great wine. The Riverland vineyards and defended wetlands reflect their passion for good wine and remain dedicated in protecting the environment. Good earth, fine wine, that’s what you get.

Easter Parade

11th April 2020

Always a sucker for a pretty label – this Organic ‘O’ Reserva 2018 Malbec from Valle Central Chile looked promising – however, was sadly lacking in depth, a tad sour and watery with no nose at all. No hints of raspberry or black fruits, all in all fairly boring. ‘O’ represents circles, traditional expressions of inner peace, unity, enlightenment and the totality of the universe. The circle is also the shape of the moon which is a key element in how the grapevines are grown. ‘O’ is also for ‘Organic’ – the best way forward for agriculture (viticulture) to obtain healthier and better-balanced vineyards, thus resulting in high quality wines. Perhaps let it rest for another couple of years before drinking.

So, moved swiftly onto Malbec N0. 2. Grapevine’s offering from Aldi at £3.79. I wondered in last show’s scribing whether Grapevine would launch a Malbec or a Pinot Noir within their range. They must have read it because, there upon my supermarket shelf (after considerable time queueing 2 metres apart in the carpark prior to entering the store) was this Malbec from Argentina. Mellow and dry but full bodied and juicy, hints of bramble and also a touch earthy. Liked it very much. Of the 3 though, (Grapevine’s Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec) the Shiraz remains my favourite. Hoppy Easter, stay safe.

Rainbow Tulips and a new Grapevine

28th March 2020

I was delighted to see that the Grapevine range from Aldi - not only offered up a Shiraz earlier this year after only proving a Merlot up ‘til then - but now, wonder of wonders – a Cabernet Sauvignon Grapevine. It was, as expected a pretty lovely taste. Warm and juicy, fruitful and concise – only 12.5% but didn’t lack depth. The Shiraz (and Merlot of course) enjoyed on earlier shows were also fulfilling and wholesome, this Grapevine never disappoints. What next? A Grapevine Malbec? A Grapevine Pinot Noir? Or perhaps a blend of 3 grapes ....

Just to remind, Grapevine range is Spanish, medium bodied, well priced, but a good experience every single time at £3.59. Super drinking. On your own (if you have to) With close family – in the same household. Or, when things settle down, sharing with friends – if you have any wine left by then.

Springtime Wine preserved by nature

21st March 2020

The first BSJ Show of Springtime introduced this lovely juicy Shiraz – Earth’s Essence – no sulphur or preservatives added, so purely natural. I could actually taste the difference. It was more ‘earthy’ and basic, yet light and fresh. It displayed vibrant fresh red fruit with aromas of cranberries, forest floor (just the inference you understand – I don’t think anyone has ever tasted the forest floor . . .) and black pepper. Nuances of cedary oak and vanilla accompanied a juicy tannin structure that delivered a well-rounded finish.

Earth’s Essence is naturally preserved using a patented South African wine making process, meaning that no sulphur or synthetic preservatives were added, keeping it as natural as possible (presumably meaning it won’t last too long so drink up, don’t worry – we did) £4.99 in Aldi. 14%.

Keeping up the fluids and staying healthy

14th March 2020

Even more so, we need to be increasing our fluid intake. Never being one who needs reminding – this week’s show featured a rather cheeky Old School Syrah from False Bay, W O Coastal region of South Africa. Not a jam soup with toasted oak chips added for mocha flavour, it was fermented ‘old school’ style with wild yeast and raised in large wooden casks (foudre). Elegant and deep, fragrant and juicy. 14.5%.

In fact, we imbibed in 2 bottles in our sensible quest to remain hydrated. The second bottle I selected from Co Op, primarily due to its pretty label – they say never judge a wine by its label but this ‘Chalkduster’ turned out to be really nicely fruitfully beautiful. A Californian Zinfandel, it offered aromas of jammy fruits and spice and was packed with a ripe fruit medley of dark cherries and blackberries. The vibrant diffusion of colours on the label depict the styled aroma of the wine (apparently). Magenta hues represent dark cherry, blackberry and jammy notes, the blues depict the burst of fruit and freshness and the splash of yellow showing the subtle hints of pepper and spice. . . . .

Both wines to be enjoyed with something deep and spicy – good job I’d earlier made a rather large pan of Mexican Bean soup – perfect.

European Wines

29th February 2020

The clue is in the name – Bolgare, so from Bulgaria. A nice taste of juicy fruits, berries and spice, hint of vanilla. A rich fragrance and a warm, mellow finish. At 14% it was a deep and rich experience, loved it. From the Thracian Lowlands in Bulgaria, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Rubin is worth recommending. I don’t think we see enough Bulgarian wines in the supermarkets, so if you catch one it’s well worth trying.

After encouragement (we don’t need too much) to open another bottle of wine, I uncorked a great Spanish offering simply labelled 100% Syrah Roble. At 13.5 % it was gentler and lighter than the previous wine. Cherry vibes and good hit of spring flowers, I served it pretty cool but that didn’t hinder the enjoyment one bit and in fact, I feel it enhanced the flavours. A wine I would drink again. Would be wonderful alongside seared tuna steak, other seafoods or a light Mediterranean supper of various tapas.

Fair Trade & South Africa

22nd February 2020

Fair for Life Social and Fair Trade Certification guarantees that human rights are assured at all stages of production and that farmers and processing workers enjoy good and fair working conditions and receive a fair share. This gorgeous organic shiraz, produced by Stellar in South Africa was thoroughly enjoyed on the show, lightly spicy and round, it’d be great with stews and risottos and earthy pasta dishes. Vegan friendly to boot. Had a super rich scent which teased the flavours to come, fruit and bramble, juicy berries.

Also, from ‘The Elle Wine Cellar’ that is our local wine merchants (Thanks Elle for the vouchers) - Primordial Soup, a rich and bloody bouillabaisse of the Western Cape’s classical cultivars, packed with juicy life, red in tooth and claw. It’s The Natural Selection. This one had ‘no nose’ to speak of, no fragrance but despite this, oh so tasty, light and fresh, scintillating and sumptuous. I personally preferred this wine to the Stellar.

What about Organic?

8th February 2020

We tried out this really super blend of 70% Bobal, 20% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon ‘0rganico Toro Loco (Crazy Bull) Superior’ 2018 from Aldi. £4.99, fresh and juicy, could really taste the raspberries from the Utiel-Requena region of Spain. 12.5% so pretty light and fresh. Would be good with roasted vegetables and other Mediterranean style foods, tapas, olives etc. A word or 2 about organic wine - Organic wine is wine made from grapes grown in accordance with principles of organic farming, which typically excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. In simplest terms, organic winemakers are focused on a purer process — less exposure to chemicals, and wines labelled as Organic can have no added sulphites. Less of a headache if one drinks a little too much perhaps?

A very exciting discovery. Aldi’s Grapevine Merlot is - at only £3.59 a bottle - one of the best budget, yet gorgeous tasting wines around at the moment so imagine how pleased I was to discover a Grapevine Shiraz in the wine aisle! Love Shiraz anyway so unsurprised to experience another knockout wine - well done Aldi and Thank you.

Couple of Classics from Co-op

1st February 2020

Very nice indeed - Old Vine Garnacha, Campo de Borja. First sip was rather nice and improved from there. At 14% and the super Grenache grape – this smoky, deep berry red was a juicy delight from the start. The 40-year-old vines nestle in the shadow of the Moncayo Mountain, Northern Spain and produce a really wonderful experience. This at only £5 from local Co Op store, vegetarian and vegan apparently – that’s got to be good news too. Would serve with a traditional and well-loved tray bake perhaps or maybe a lamb tagine with a little rosemary?

Also enjoyed on the show was this fine Vina Gala (£5.50 from Co Op) A good example of a great Spanish Temparanillo from Villamalea (Albacete) packed full of soft berry flavours (not vegetarian as includes gelatine for clearing . . . .) I actually preferred this wine to the first as I do appreciate Tempranillo, not often you get a bad one. 13.5%, so also deep and well rounded, remained dry but with a super nose (smelled terrific on opening and beyond)

Smooth Swiss Wine

18th January 2020

How wonderful! Beatrice and Peter in Switzerland gifted us a bottle of Swiss White Wine. Nice and chilled from the ice box, it was really quite delightful. Hints of citrus, slightly floral scented with a peach/apricot finish while remaining medium dry and mellow. Would definitely have this again, best served with a nice coq au vin and some tasty cheese. Aigle les Murailles, 13.2% - grape = Chasselas. Super.

Second on board: Aimone D’Italia, from my old favourite wine cellar – Aldi. Just £4.99, it’s pretty full bodied, warming and mellow, dash of vanilla spice, a tad of fruity red berriness yet staying delicate. Would imagine this with something deep and beefy, maybe an Italian Bolognese – of course.

New Year, New Wine

4th January 2020

The first Best Smooth Jazz Show of 2020 was exciting not just because it was a new year and a brand new decade but because we were able to review a really nice Chianti . . . . in a retro basket no less. Rod received this as a gift for Christmas and, as a listener pointed out – no doubt it will be featured on a future BSJ TV show with a candle in it. It was fairly dry (as a good Chianti should be) but was forthright and spiky on the tongue – couldn’t have drunk too much of it as it should have been paired with some ripe cheese or a nice antipasti to enhance the flavour and truly appreciate its appeal. Italy is world renowned for its Chianti and this Cassatta Barrettini 2017 at 12% was a good example. Sainsburys £7.99.

Second up on the show was the inimitable ‘Underworld Blend 3’ 2018 which I was very much looking forward to tasting. South African, West Cape, from our local wine merchant – and generously gifted by Elle – it came recommended and as I love a good blend, it was therefore high up on my expectations. The grapes were Grenache noir / Durif / Carignon and Mourvèdre – a combination which should have been luscious, however I probably didn’t serve at the correct temperature because it lacked interest and although had some deep red berry fruitiness, proved to be dull and uninspiring. Note to self, make sure that red wine is warmer than room temperature – difficult to achieve sometimes in the winter (from kitchen pantry or the wine cellar) cost £12.99, 13.5%.

So, our third tasting of the day – Andes Peaks 2018, Carmenere from Chile’s Valle Central at 13.5%. Now this was the best of the bunch, loved it, interestingly still at temperature of the previous wines (not chilled obviously) tasted zesty yet plummy, just what you fancy this time of the year. It was succulent with rich tones of violet on the tongue – a mouthwash of delight. Best enjoyed with roast or grilled meats and perhaps some more of that delicious ripe cheese. £9.99 from local wine merchants but also available at most supermarkets, I have seen it in Sainsburys and Waitrose.

Wines at Christmas

14th December 2019

The best wines tasted so far this Christmas have been the amazing Gruet, a sparkling Champagne from local wine merchants - priced at £27.95

The really rather special Vinca Verrene - a chocolaty offering from Italia, super smooth, like a touch of velvet on the tongue, a hint of spice and a deep finish.

A cheeky treat was The Coffee House Pinotage, also from the  local wine merchants. Smoky and deep, a whisper of coffee – a tiny hint of dark chocolate but not overpowering, ensuring a delicious taste right down to the final mouthful. 2017, Wellington South Africa. choices, choices. . . .

Merry Christmas!