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Hard To Fine Wines

  • Perfect Summer Wedding Wines

    Selecting the perfect wines for your summer wedding

    With summer wedding season in full swing, there is so much to be done! Planning a wedding is a complex operation with so many variables, such as dresses and suits, flowers and cars, speeches and food. One of the more enjoyable aspects of all this hard work is selecting the wines for your big day. So how do you go about planning and selecting the right wines for your reception?

    Budget

    The first thing you need to do is settle on a budget for your wine. The wines for your wedding don’t have to cost a fortune these days as there are a lot of good wines sold at reasonable prices. You should budget about 15% to 20% of your overall spend to wine for the big day, including Champagne or Sparkling Wine. If you are going to provide your own wines, make sure you know whether your venue charges a corkage and if it does, incorporate this into the cost of the wine. It is often cheaper to purchase your own wine and pay the corkage, whilst enjoying the freedom to select very specific wines to suit your taste.

    What to serve

    The rule of thumb for summer wedding wines is to serve at least one Red Wine and one White Wine at the reception. You probably also want to serve a Champagne or Sparkling Wine for the toasts. Dessert Wines are optional and depend upon your budget but can be a nice finishing touch.

    There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing which particular wines to serve. But before you can make those decisions, you need to know which wines you like! This is your wedding after all and your wine choices should reflect who you are.

    Step one is to taste a wide variety of wines. Attending wine tastings at wine stores is one place to start. Another would be selecting different wines by the glass when you go out for a meal or to a wine bar. You could also purchase a new bottle of a different style of wine and from a different vineyard every time you do your grocery shopping. Make sure you keep a note of the wines you drink: the vineyard, the style of wine and the vintages and whether you like it or not. It is very difficult to recall which wines you enjoy after tasting a number of wines.

    Step two is to narrow down what you like to match your menu. The purpose of matching or pairing wine and food is to enhance both the wine and the meal. Neither should overpower the other. Avoid the more full-bodied wines like Chardonnay, Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and chose lighter-bodied wines. Versatile wines for pairing with meals include Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Rioja.

    Step three is to consider any wines that may have been significant for you. Your wedding is a significant part of your story and your wine choice forms part of that. For instance, did you spend a holiday abroad as a couple and encounter a memorable winetasting that led you to your favourite wine? Or did you visit a beautiful vineyard that framed your proposal? Perhaps you want to include these in your wedding.

    How much to serve

    Wedding table with wine glasses

    A general rule to decide how many bottles of wine to buy, is to provide half to three-quarters of a bottle per person. The assumption is that most people will drink approximately two glasses of wine with the meal. You will also need to allow for about two glasses of Sparkling Wine or Champagne per person for the toasts, more if you have many fans of bubbly attending the wedding, or if you plan to offer this during the photographs.

    As a rule, more White Wine or Rosé will be consumed than Red Wine at a summer wedding, particularly when it's quite hot outside, so bear that in mind when buying. As a quick aside, it would also be a good idea to supply still and sparkling water at the tables, so that guests can quench their thirst on water rather than the wine.

    Our summer wedding wine suggestions

    Mark Davies, Director of Hard To Find Wines, had the following suggestions for great summer wedding wines:

    “A great Sparkling Wine for toasts is the Pierre Jourdan Belle Rosé from Haute Cabrière. With an elegant dry finish and the flavours of a pinot noir without any harshness, this is one of the beautiful wines created by the father and son team of Achim and Takuan von Arnim in Franschhoek, South Africa.”

    “For the White Wine, I suggest Bladen Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Crafted by a small vineyard in Marlborough, owned by Dave and Christine Macdonald, this medium-bodied wine gives other more expensive Sauvignon Blancs a run for their money. The cherubs on the label in silver leaf look quite weddingy too! Bladen Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc is currently on offer at £9.99 (originally £12.99) per bottle. A fantastic savings for a great wine.”

    “Also available from Bladen and a fantastic option for a wedding wine, particularly in summer, is their Pinot Rosé. Our stock that arrived in the spring this year was sold out before it even reached the UK. We have just received our eagerly awaited new stock of the Bladen Pinot Rosé. This wine is a delightfully refreshing Rosé with subtle acidity and a beautiful pink hue.”

    “I can recommend Vinedos Real Rubio Terra Milenaria Rioja for the red wine. It’s a lightish style red from Spain, crafted by the same family who began Vinedos Real Rubio over 100 years ago.”

    Glenwood Grand Duc Noblesse is a great value substitute for more premium Sauternes. Created by DP Burger at Glenwood, a hidden gem of a vineyard in Franschhoek, South Africa, this is a superb dessert wine.”

    Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc - on offer at £9.99

    Little Angel Sauvignon Blanc - on offer at £9.99

    Our wine selection service

    Hard To Find Wines offers a wedding wine selection service to make the process of choosing the right wines for your wedding easier. We offer knowledgeable advice about wine selection that takes the guess work out of the process. Along with a very broad selection of wines, we can make selecting wine for your wedding a straightforward matter.

    Mark said, “We host tastings at our tasting room in Shropshire or we can send out samples so that couples can choose their wines. We charge for this service, but when a couple places an order, the charge is refunded off the bill.”

    Take a look at our Wine Tasting section of our website to learn more, or call us on
    01746 389 749 to discuss your requirements further.

  • Rosé Myth Busters

    Rose wine in a glass

    Separating fact from fiction

    Rosé has grown in popularity over the past decade with a real resurgence being noticed over the past two or three years. Hard To Find Wines has definitely seen a marked increase in sales of rosé this past year. Rosé however, often remains a bit of a mystery to those observing this phenomenon from the sidelines, whilst enjoying the more established red or white wines.

    Here are ten rosé myth busters to help you explain the truth around rosé to your friends who may look at you oddly when you bring a bottle to their dinner party.

    Number one - Rosé is a women’s drink

    FALSE: whilst rosé has in the past been seen as a girly drink, it has taken a wide swing away from that in a fresh trend in recent years where it is now seen as a drink that men can enjoy too. Some brands in the USA are now marketing directly to men and celebrities such as Jay-Z and Justin Bieber are getting onboard the brosé (rosé for bros) movement.

    Number two - Rosé is a summer wine

    FALSE: due to its association with white wine, rosé has typically been regarded as a drink only for summertime. However, as food and wine pairing becomes more popular amongst consumers, rosé is now featuring on menus and in homes all year round.

    Number three - Rosé is a sweet wine

    FALSE: in Europe, rosé has traditionally been a dry wine, however in the USA where white zinfandel or blush wines have for decades been very popular, consumers have confused rosé with blush wine. As the tastes of wine drinkers in the USA has evolved, the consumer trend over the past decade has been away from sweet blush and towards dry rosé.

    Number four - Rosé is merely an easy drinking wine

    FALSE: that box rosé is a thing of the past! Well, of course you can still get a box of rosé at the supermarket, but that is in all likelihood a sweeter, lower quality wine. Today, there are a variety of styles of rosé on the market that would show rosé as a much more complex wine. As Elizabeth Gabay MW sets out in the Drinks Business’ article “A Rosé Revolution: The Five Styles of Pink Wine”, on 22 February 2017, there are at least five emerging styles of rosé: rosés with invisible oak, overt oak, a light red-wine style, traditional rosés and modern rosés in a traditional style. You can read more of her article, shared on our Facebook page.

    Number five - Rosé is watered down red wine

    FALSE: Just to be clear, rosé is not watered down red wine. There are three ways of creating a rosé: maceration, saignée or blending. Blending a red and white wine to create rosé is not a popular method, although this is considered a legitimate way of producing rosé Champagne, but only in Champagne. Anywhere else in France, this blending method is illegal. The saignée method involves “bleeding” off some red wine before the colour becomes too dark, almost an afterthought to produce rosé. The best rosés are made with specific grapes that are used for the purpose of creating rosé. Dark-skinned grapes are crushed or macerated, so the juice has contact with the skins over a period of up to three days, producing the lighter hue. Not only does it influence the colour of the wine, but this method ensures an acidity to the wine as well as a fruitiness and ultimately a much more refreshing rosé.

    Number six - Rosé is difficult to pair with food

    FALSE: rosé today is very versatile and more complex. It combines the acidity of white wine with the fruitiness of red wine. Rosé is perfect to combine with a wide variety of foods, from fish and shellfish to pastas, salads, chicken and steak. If in doubt, a rosé is an excellent choice for pairing.

    Number seven - Rosé is a relative newcomer to the wine world

    FALSE: wine originally produced mostly resembled the rosé of today. Methods for extracting colour were limited when winemakers crushed grapes by hand, or by foot or through other ancient techniques of pressing, none of which gave the wine enough time to develop the deeper reds of today.

    Number eight - Rosé is best consumed immediately

    FALSE: rosé can be enjoyed up to two years after release. There are exceptions to this however, such as Spain’s Lopez de Heredia which has a Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva 2000 available.

    Number nine - Rosé has a lower alcohol level

    FALSE: well, some do, mainly the sweeter rosés due to a shorter period of fermentation. There is a trend nowadays however towards wine with a lower alcohol content, due to changes in health trends. Rosé however does not need to conform to this unless the winemaker has decided to go down this route, and a dry rosé can have just as much alcohol content as a red or white wine.

    Number ten - Rosé is only cheap wine

    FALSE: well, of course there are cheap rosés out there. But there are also a lot of expensive, quality wines and even quality wines that are good value for money. The key is to make sure you purchase wine from a good producer.

    Hopefully these myth busters have cleared up some mistaken beliefs about rosé and will help you take that bottle of rosé to the next dinner party with confidence.

    Hard To Find Wines is available to offer advice on choosing a good quality rosé. Call us on 01746 389 749 and we can make sure you order the right wine for your needs. Or head over to our rosé wines on our website to see the variety on offer, including our special offers.

  • The Judgment of Paris

    Red wine glasses waiting for wine tasting

    The Judgment of Paris - France v California

    The Judgment of Paris, also known as the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, pitted Californian wines against French wines in a blind tasting. On the Californian side were Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the French side were white Burgundys and Bordeaux. The wine tasting was organised by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant who himself only sold French wines. It is said Spurrier believed the French wines would easily overcome the Californian competition.

    The jury was made up of nine French judges, Spurrier and one American judge, Patricia Gallagher. Only the scores by French judges were taken into account. Scores by Spurrier and Gallagher were disregarded in the overall results.

    The results created a great stir as a Californian wine topped the tables in each category. Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon graced the top of the red tables and Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay took the lead for the white wines. The outcry over the event led to Spurrier being banned for a year from the French wine tasting tour and resulted in many subsequent replications of the event. The most notable recreation was the 30th Anniversary of the Judgement of Paris held in 2006, again organised by Spurrier. This event took place with simultaneous tastings in Napa, California and in London, England, with each panel consisting of 9 judges. Once again, the judges gave top honours to a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971, which had itself featured in the original tasting in 1976.

    The Judgment of Paris 2017

    So, back to the present day and the event re-enacted by Hard To Find Wines.

    Hard To Find Wines selection for re-enactment of Judgment of Paris

    Hard To Find Wines conducted the modified re-enactment with six red wines blind tasted: three French Bourdeaux and three Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. All the wines tasted had featured in the original event, but with vintages much closer to today. Once again, a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, the Freemark Abbey 2010 took first place. It was followed very closely by the Chateau Haut-Brion 2011.

    Full results are as follows:

    Results of Hard To Find Wines' Judgment of Paris re-enactment

    The Society is planning to re-enact the white wine portion of the tasting later in the year, in conjunction with Hard To Find Wines.

    Mark Davies, Director of Hard To Find Wines, said of the event, "It is very interesting that in our tasting the US wines again performed very well against the more established Bordeaux. We are very much looking forward to doing the other half of the tasting."

    Join our mailing list to hear about specialist tastings throughout the year and special offers on wines by emailing sales@htfwines.co.uk. Or how about joining one of our wine tastings at our tasting room? For more information, see our page on wine tasting.

  • The meteoric comeback of Pinotage

    For many wine drinkers, Pinotage is very much a marmite grape variety, or so many think.

    The Pinotage varietal was developed in the early part of the 19th century in South Africa by Abraham Perold, the first viticulturalist specialist at Stellenbosch university. The idea was to produce a form of Pinot Noir, notoriously difficult to grow, that would thrive in the less forgiving terroir of the Western Cape. The resulting varietal became known as Pinotage, a derivative of the two grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Hermitage (now more commonly known as Cinsault).

    However, having left Stellenbosch university Perold's new vines were all but forgotten until their rediscovery over a decade later, and from these vines the first blocks were planted in Myrtle Grove and Kanonkop during the mid part of the century. The first recognised Pinotage commercially available was not to come until 1961 from Lanzerac, whose wine Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage which pays homage to this wine is still available today.

    During the Apartheid years Pinotage flourished in South Africa, with no international exports producers focussed on earthy full bodied reds for the indigenous wine drinkers, with Pinotage a perfect fit. However, as trade barriers were lifted, many estates realised Pinotage was less to the tastes of European and US oenophiles and began replacing the vines with Shiraz and Cabernet which offered a less distinctively South African palate.

    Thankfully 20 years on, many have returned to the indigenous Pinotage grape variety. In most examples the rough vegetal farmyard elements have been smoothed into a more luxurious supple wine. Pinotage does still convey the original earthy terroir but now is more often a more refined beast, still with plenty of oomph and weight, but more rounded and supple than it's predecessors.

    Sales of Pinotage at Hard to Find Wines have near tripled over the past couple of years, with a real resurgence of this unique varietal. Although many South African vineyards are yet to return to Pinotage, we have a range of fantastic quality Pinotage to suit any budget, from less than £7 a bottle to over £40. Our range of Pinotage can be found here

  • Mont Rochelle Wines Now Available in the UK

    Mont Rochelle in the French Quarter of Franschhoek is the newest addition to Virgin Limited Edition and was purchased by the Richard Branson company back in 2014. Since then the old farm has been transformed into a luxurious hotel, as well as investing heavily into the infrastructure of the wine farm.

    The vineyard is located in a perfect position within the Franschhoek area, benefiting from a more temperate climate than much of the rest of South Africa as well as having wonderfully fertile granite and clay soils on it's sloping plantation.

    Although only a small range of wines is being produced at the Mont Rochelle Estate, the wines are, as one would expect, of a very high quality and beautifully capture the terroir of the region. A mere 6500 cases a year are produced across the Mont Rochelle portfolio all under the watchful eye of winemaker Dustin Osborne.

    Perhaps the most striking feature of the Mont Rochelle wine range is the absolutely incredible value for money that these hand crafted wines offer. Starting at just over £10 a bottle these wines give many a wine double the price a good run for their money and are set to only improve on this start.

    The Little Rock range of white and red are immaculately presented and do not disappoint on the taste front either. The White pale straw green in colour with a delicate peach and citrus profile, elegant with balanced texture and acidity. The wine is produced using a blend of four distinct grapes: Semillon, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The red is a blended wine of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with dollops of Mourvèdre and Petit Verdot all lending a helping hand to the final blend. This wine strikes a perfect balance between easy-drinking and complexity showing a balanced fruit profile and a smooth, soft palate.

    The premium range from Mont Rochelle is equally good value from between £11.49 to £14.49 a bottle with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon on offer. The full portfolio of Mont Rochelle wines we have in stock can be found here.

  • Our SA Wines Online offering

    Way back over a decade ago when Hard to Find Wines was started, South African Wines were the first we imported from vineyards including Haute Cabriere, Glenwood and Du Toitskloof.

    Now our range of SA wines online stands at over 200 wines, one of the most comprehensive ranges available of SA wines online in the UK. The old favourites from our original vineyards still play a big part of our online offering, and we believe them to still be some of the best SA wines on the market.

    Over the past 10 years we have slowly but surely added to our SA wines online, and now import wines from all over the world, with a portfolio of quality wines at affordable prices. Our mantra has remained the same, sourcing high quality wines from smaller boutique wine estates and importing directly from the farms into the UK. These wines still make up over 90% of the wines we sell online at Hard to Find Wines, with the remainder being hand selected wines from other importers but always quality and competitively priced.

    With online wine sales having had its ups and downs over the last few years, we have invested heavily in upgrading our online website and in the spring of 2017 will be moving into our new purpose built offices and wine storage facility on our farm in Shropshire. The South African wines online that we sell will continue to play a significant role in our portfolio, but with additions of wines from other regions along with our new offerings of premium fine wines from Bordeaux, Napa and Italy. We already have in stock some fantastic wines from the 1998, 2000 and 2003 Bordeaux vintages, all at highly competitive online prices.

    We look forward to continuing our growth with our wines online, and of course are always available to give advice and help on 01746 389749.

  • New wines from Vierkoppen available now

    When approached a few months back by Vierkoppen to see if we were interested in stocking their wines, there was a hint of trepidation. This is in no small part to the fact that the location of this vineyard in Robertson, South Africa, holds mixed feelings for me.

    If we were to rewind 10 years, Robertson was hardly considered as a quality wine growing region, perhaps producing bulk fruit for supermarket type wines, but certainly less so for high quality premium wines. However, times have very much changed, and Robertson is now without doubt one of the world's best kept secrets in terms of quality wine growing regions.

    Focussing primarily on Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon, Vierkoppen is an outstanding producer of top quality South African wine. In the latest edition of Platter a brace of their wines achieved the heady heights of 4.5 stars - no mean achievement when considering many estates take decades to achieve this level of quality and recognition from their wines, and Vierkoppen have done it in just a handful of years.

    The Vierkoppen Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect balance between fresh tropical fruits and a refreshing minerality, a wonderful bed fellow to spicy foods or to be enjoyed on a sun soaked veranda. At just £10.99 it also represents fantastic value for money, with many similar style Sauvignons from across the mountains in Stellenbosch coming in at over 30% more in price.

    Similar can be said for the two red wines produced, the Vierkoppen Pinotage and Vierkoppen Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines come in at just under £13, but wow what are treat you are getting for your hard earned cash. Both ooze quality with refined tannins and supple mouth feel, followed by layers of textured fruit. All of these wines are handcrafted and produced in only minute quantities, a far cry from the South African bulk wine days of old, whose mantle seems to have been taken up now by the Australians (there are still wonderful boutique vineyards in Oz, but far too many have been eaten up by the commercial breweries and multinational conglomerates).

    The South African wine industry in my view, is currently leading much of the world in how it approaches and delivers wonderful wines. Their winemakers, usually from a grounding at Stellenbosch University, embrace the world of wine growing practices from across the globe, along with winemaking skills. Unlike the rigid appellation systems in France, Spain and Italy they are free to experiment, and work with the land, vines and grapes to produce the best possible wine from that terroir.

    If you only try one new wine this year, you could not go far wrong with one of these awesome wines from Robertson, which can be found here

  • Over 100 wines under £10

    Hard to Find Wines now lists over 100 wines under £10 a bottle. All offering excellent quality in a diverse range of styles to tempt every palate.

    Over the past 10 years we have built up a substantial portfolio of wines we believe to offer fantastic value for money. With over a third of the price of a bottle of wine being made up of duty and tax these wines are certainly becoming more scarce, but we strive to continually update our list of wines to offer our clients the best that the wine world has to offer. Wines from Australia, France, Luxembourg, South Africa and New Zealand are just some of our wines under £10.

    Many wines below £7 in the UK offered by major retailers and supermarkets are now produced and bottled in the UK, from concentrate liquid shipped in from a multitude of areas. At Hard to Find Wines we passionately believe that the best wine is crafted in situ at the vineyard, with experienced winemakers at the helm. All of our wines are produced in this way, with many hand crafted in tiny quantities, and with the team at Hard to Find Wines having personal knowledge of both the vineyards, winemaking process and winemakers. Wine does not necessarily need to be expensive to be enjoyed, but it does need to be quality! Our wines under £10 selection represents just this philosophy, offering quality and value to our clients.

    A selection of our top 2 dozen wines can be found here or alternatively our full range of wines are available at htfwines.co.uk

  • New Martinborough wine Te Hera Pinot Noir available from Hard to Find Wines

    Having been searching for sometime for a new Martinborough producer to add to our portfolio, last Summer was a eureka moment when stumbling across Te Hera Estate at the London World's Leading Wines fair and were compelled to introduce our clients to their incredible Te Hera Pinot Noir.

    The estate was originally planted in 1996 and produces stunning Pinot Noir grapes from its tiny 13 acre estate. It is very much a family affair, with the captain at the helm (Te Hera translates as "the sail") John Douglas.

    The Pinot Noir wines created at Te Hera reflect without question the wonderful terroir of Martinborough which benefits from cool breezes and low rainfall to provide optimum growing conditions for the notoriously difficult Pinot Noir cultivar. The fruit produced is of exceptional quality which is then transformed into the Kiritea and Reserve labels by meticulous handcrafted winemaking.

    The Kiritea is a wonderfully easy drinking fruit led Pinot and is staggeringly good value for money at just £12.99. The Te Hera Reserve Pinot Noir is a slightly more serious wine, with 16 months in French oak adding a layer of complexity to the wine along with fabulous ageing potential, and is still a snip for a Pinot of this quality at just £18.99. In my quest for Martinborough Pinot Noir I have often sampled wines half the quality for well over double the price!

    These two new Te Hera Pinot Noirs have now landed with us in the UK and are available for immediate delivery and can be purchased here.

  • Up to 60% off South African Wines

    Over the past 10 years we have had the pleasure of importing some fantastic quality wines from all over the world. However, we continually strive to find new wines and boutique vineyards offering exciting and tasty wines for our clients to enjoy. Inevitably this means some wines have to make way for the new, and currently we have a selection of South African wines which are making way for the new.

    Seidelberg was a firm favourite of ours being one of the original vineyards we imported from. Unfortunately a few years ago the farm was bought up by the neighbouring Fairview in Paarl, and the Seidelberg and De Leuwen Jagt ranges are no longer produced. We have just limited stock of a few of the Seidelberg range remaining, without doubt the last in the world.

    Du Toitskloof was another of our first imports, again now no longer looking to export its own branded wines to the UK and instead with new management taking over a few years ago, are producing primarily own label wines for large retailers.

    Zorgvliet in Stellenbosch, although great wines, was a vineyard whose range never seemed to particularly take off here in the UK. Just a small amount of stock remains in our warehouse, but we are happy to have taken on a replacement in the form of Lanzerac, a stunning estate not too far away and home to the first ever Pinotage produced.

    Wines from the above vineyards are currently with up to 60% off so grab yourself a bargain here

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