Try out our wine tasting packs and experience the fun and variety in wine comparisons...
We have organised our wines into styles or categories. All you need to decide is which style you like. These notes are designed to help and we have also put together tasting packs to help you find the styles you like best.
When it comes to Champagne it is hard to beat a quote from Madame Bollinger. She was asked "When do you drink champagne?", she replied: "I only drink champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty.” Most wine regions produce a sparkling wine that is not allowed to be called Champagne because it does not come from the Champagne region in France. However, it is often made the same way and the bottle will say something like Methode Traditionelle. Those that are as good as champagne are usually priced the same. Halfwine stocks brut (dry) or extra brut champagne and sparkling wine. Sparkling wine
Chardonnay is grown in almost every wine area in the world; it is the only white wine in Burgundy and the Californians worship it. Its flavours range from clean, fresh and lemony to complex, toast, butter and nuts. This range of flavours comes from where it is grown and how it is treated in the cellar. The broad dimensions are New World vs Old World and oaked vs unoaked. Old world chardonnay is more likely to be minerally and steely whilst New World chardonnay is more likely to be rounder and buttery. Unoaked wines are more likely to be fresh and lemony whilst oaked wines are more likely to be vanilla and toast. To give full expression of the range of chardonnay we offer a Chablis which is not likely to be oaked, an oaked and an unoaked white burgundy and a new world chardonnay which is most likely to be oaked. Chardonnay - oaked, unoaked
Sauvignon Blanc is most likely to be the wine that you can recognise instantly by its aroma and flavour; lemons, gooseberry, grass, green pepper (capsicum). Old World sauvignons are best represented by those from the Loire in France where the fruit flavours and aroma are restrained and the wine is bone dry and crisp. New World sauvignons have been made famous by those from Marlborough, New Zealand but excellent examples come from South Africa and the cooler regions of Australia, whilst many people love those from Chile. Sauvignon Blanc
Other white wines
halfwine also offers an often changing sample of other white wines. These include Rieslings from Germany or Alsace; Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris from Alsace; Pinot Grigio from Italy; Chenin Blanc and Muscadet from the Loire river. Other whites
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in most wine regions. Good Cabernet has a deep colour, blackcurrant flavour and is full-bodied. Other flavours and aromas that you will come across are mint, chocolate and leather. Cabernet is often blended with other wines. Almost all Bordeaux wines include Cabernet and Merlot in their blend. The main difference in Cabernets is along the New World / Old World divide. New World Cabernets make full use of their plentiful sun to get the grapes fully ripe. This means they are fruity, soft and alcoholic. Bordeaux wines are generally more restrained in their fruit and are somewhat tannic. For this reason they need to be decanted or poured sometime before they are drunk to give the wine time to open up. Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot’s popularity has risen with the demand for wines that are soft and easy to drink when young. Merlot grapes ripen more easily than Cabernet and so achieve phenolic, or full, ripeness quicker thus producing a softer, more generous, plumy wine. Merlot is a key constituent of Bordeaux blends but achieved its fame in California where the film Sideways clearly showed how common it has become. Merlot
Pinot noir tastes of cherries when young and is often quite surprisingly light. As it ages it gets more earthy, savoury or umami in nature. Like Merlot it is more approachable than Cabernet but is not as sweet or overtly fruity. If it is so great why isn't it more popular? Well it is pricey for one thing and its quality is hugely variable for another; you’re going to be disappointed more often with Pinot. But when it's good, young or aged, it's very good. Pinot Noir
Shiraz / Syrah
Syrah in France or Shiraz in Australia deserves to be more popular. We like them as full bodied alternatives to Cabernet. Syrah is the grape of the Northern Rhone where it is peppery, spicy and rich with leather, herb and oak nuances. Shiraz in Australia is completely different; here they are fruity (blackcurrant), concentrated and powerful with high alcohol levels. In between these two extremes is Shiraz from the Swartland area north west of Cape Town in South Africa; peppery, spicy and fruity. Syrah/Shiraz
Other red wines
halfwine also offers an often changing sample of other red wines. These include Gamay from Beaujolais and Grenache from the Southern Rhone; Cabernet Franc from the Loire river; Sangiovese from Tuscany and Primitivo from Piedmont; Tempranillo from Spain; Malbec from Argentina and Zinfandel from California. Other red
Rose has come into its own again as the choice wine for summer days. It ranges from the palest of pinks to almost red; from bone dry to off dry; from truly awful to almost drinkable (showing our prejudices here). It is made from red grapes where the juice is left in contact with the skins for only a short while, hence the light red colours. It is also made by blending red and white wine. Rose
Sweet wines have been out of fashion for a long time; why, we can’t understand. The range of tastes is simply amazing, but there is one factor that sorts the good from the bad; acid. A good sweet wine should have sufficient acid so that, when you swallow it, the back of your mouth tastes fresh, not cloyingly sweet. All sweet wine is made by getting the water out of the grape juice. Sauterne, the most famous and costly of all sweet wines, uses a natural ‘noble rot’,Botrytis cinerea, to concentrate the sweetness of the grape juice. Ice wine is made from frozen grapes where iced water is removed leaving a concentrated, sweet pulp. Most sweet wine however is made using heat; letting the grapes hang on the vine for longer than usual; or leaving them spread out in the sun on bales of hay. Sweet wine