Summer Wine Tasting; Tropical, Orchard, Spice & Farmyard

Just in time for a lovely weekend heat wave as July gets under way, we had our Summer Wines blind tasting event at Amathus Soho! With a trio of whites, two pairs of rosé (one with bubbles!) and a trio of reds to tickle our taste buds – we were eager to get started and get tasting!

White Wines
White Wines

Round one was the trio of whites, carefully picked by Amathus’ Wine Buyer, Sarah Knowles. “These are all aromatic wines, and don’t worry – I am not going to make you guess the grape varieties on these – this round is about what you taste in the glass” begins Sarah. The first was a zesty lemon and citrus nose with a hint of elderflower, and to taste there was fantastic acidity and a delicious white pepper spice note too! The second had a warmer nose – almost baked apples – and the taste was softer on the palate but there was this delicious “stony” minerality there too. At this point Sarah explained that she had picked these three as they all had something more than just fruit on their taste profile. The first being spice and the second being minerality – so we all delved into the third to try and decipher what this one might show… It was more yellow in colour and there was a lovely smell of orange blossom and peaches on the nose that followed through to mouth along with apricot and tropical notes; and that extra taste, which you couldn’t miss, was an almost salty quality to the wine!

Whilst tasting these we had a delicious piece of smoked salmon sushi – that went unbelievable well, especially with the final white!

Revealing the wines; we discovered the first was Ewald Gruber’s Gruner Veltliner from Austria, the second was an Italian white Gavi di Gavi from producer Il Poggio, and the third white was a wine from Spanish producer Agro de Bazan and was the Equita Ambar made from albariño grapes!

Round two was two pairs of rosé wines, one still pair and one sparkling.

Sarah told us first to look at the colour of the rosé wines. “Rosé doesn’t need to be pink,” she explained, “this is a decision that is made from the producer himself that chooses when to take the skins away from the juice. The long the skins are in contact, the pinker the resulting wine and also the more tannins and body there will be.” The first rosé was very pale, almost salmon, and smelt of strawberries and cranberries. The taste was light and refreshing, and surprisingly dry. “Rosé is becoming more sophisticated. It is largely drunk in France as a serious wine, and the preconception of rosé being just for women is starting to lift in the UK.” The second was much darker in colour and there was a smoky note on the nose that intrigued us all – and a smell that we would be well familiar with by the end of the tasting. Again there were cranberries on the mouth, that smoky note remained and there was a slight (pleasant) bitter note too, like aperol almost.

With this first pair we enjoyed a piece of chicory with pecorino cheese on top- and surprising for a rosé but the second rosé was incredibly paired for this little nibble.

Sparkling Rose
Sparkling Rose

The next two rosé wines were unmistakably sparkling. “You can tell from the bubbles, the quality of sparkling wine. Fine, persistent bubbles (i.e. they are moving for a long time) means the great quality wines – and it was clear these were both in that category. The first had notes of brioche, vanilla, toast and strawberry, a luscious round mouthfeel and a satisfying and tasty finish. The second sparkling again showed notes of brioche but was more complex as, again, that slight hint of smoky/farmyard smell was present. Slight softer in the mouth and a longer finish, and paired beautifully with a large rip strawberry to taste alongside!

Revealing the still wines; the first was a rosé from the Provence region in France from producer Chateaux de Nestuby – a blend of grapes including Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache and several more. The second of the still rosés was from a French producer that produces New Zealand wine in Marlborough, Georges Michel, and is 100% pinot noir (hence the smoky notes).

Revealing the sparkling wines; Both of the sparkling wines were from Champagne in France; the first was from Claude Renoux in Epernay, and the second was Louis Martin Grand Cru rosé from Bouzy – and was predominantly pinot noir based (again, those smoky notes – we sensed a theme!)

Sad to be moving on to our last set of wines, we progressed to the trio of reds. Unusually though, the first of these was slightly chilled! Intrigued we picked this up and started the tasting. Notes of blueberries, cherries and a hint of black pepper, this was a delicious red wine that was smooth, soft and low tannins – which is why it works chilled. The second red wine had an incredible cherry aroma, was much higher tannins and bigger bodied, filling your mouth, and had a lovely long finish. It was one we would all agree would go superbly with a summer BBQ and went very well with the selection of cured meats that appeared on the table! The third one had an unmistakably different colour, with tints of orange and brown. We picked up the wine and there were notes of strawberry, cranberry, leather and undoubtedly that lovely earthy, farmyard smell – this has to be a pinot noir!

The Wines
The Wines

Revealing the wines; the first was from Beaujolais made with the gamay grape from producer Manoir du Carra, the second was an Italian valpolicella from Le Ballerine, and the third – of course – a pinot noir from New Zealand and another from Georges Michel!

It was a fantastic evening filled with interesting facts, delicious wines, and we all learnt how to smell a pinot noir wine! With everyone staying to finish the remains of their wines and not wanting to leave a drop, it was clear that we would all be signing up to the autumn one – thanks Sarah!

 

YOU CAN BUY THESE DELICIOUS WINES IN OUR GREAT VALUE 12 BOTTLE CASE FOR JUST £105 + DELIVERY! CLICK HERE TO START YOUR SUMMER DRINKING TODAY >>>

 

By Clare Corlett
Amathus Drinks

A little Argentinian Sunshine on a Wednesday Afternoon: Carelli Wine Tasting

What with the weather being so unpredictable of late and sunshine never guaranteed, I was extremely excited about tasting some delicious fruity Argentinian wines to at least have a taste of some warmer climates… and that brings me to this delightful tasting at Amathus Soho!

Bodegas Carelli is run by a father and son team, both named Enrique, meaning that the winery is well into its third generation of Carellis! Enrique junior is hosting this event and welcomes us all warmly with a great smile and enthusiasm and leads us straight into an introduction of the Carelli’s winery.

Enrique Carelli Junior
Enrique Carelli Junior

The winery lies on 34 degrees latitude (hence the name of one of their brands of wine) and the vineyards sit on various different altitudes, which define the style of wine that they produce – the higher the altitude correlating to the better the quality. It was built in 1895 and Enrique’s grandfather bought the building in 1943. The walls are made of Adobe brick that our 1m thick to help protect the wines during fermentation. The Argentinian climate is a key player in the resulting wines; they have about 2cm of rain a year and even this is mostly hail when it occurs. The vines are therefore watered using a careful channel system from a reservoir. Intense afternoon sunshine is also a danger so they have mastered the best way to shape the vines so as to protect them; winding them in an East-West orientation. The product of the vineyards, careful vine management and magnificent wine making skills are 34 degrees and Carla Chiaro ranges of their wines – the 34 Degrees range being the first up for tasting today!

Carelli Wines
Carelli Wines

The aim of this range was to really express the fruit itself and show the quality of the grapes that can come from the Argentinian climate, altitude and great wine making of Bodegas Carelli. These wines have spent no time in oak and are young, fresh and bursting with delicious fruit. The white Torrontes showed floral aromas and flavours with hints of apricot and tropical fruits, yet had a crisp dry finish. We enjoyed this along with some mature cheese that had chilli flakes inside showing that this is a great wine to have with spicy foods! The Cabernet/Merlot rose had notes of strawberry, raspberry and red cherries but was still a dry style of rose. The balance of acidity and length made this great as a wine you could drink on its own but would certainly stand up to enjoying with some light foods. The Cabernet Sauvignon was delicious and just what you want from a drink now, fruity red – black fruits, brambles, great smooth tasting and a lovely finish! And who can forget Argentina’s claim to fame and the first of two Malbecs in the tasting; lovely fruit flavours and velvet tannins and a smooth finish; great to enjoy with the cured meats that were there to nibble on though the tasting.

The other two wines on tasting are from their Carla Chiaro range – situated at 1,100m altitude and thus a cooler region and suitable for some more complex styles of wine. The first, the Bonarda, didn’t disappoint. The first of the tasting to show some oaky notes due to gentle ageing it expressed black fruits, black cherries and fine tannins. The rich fruit flavour was balanced elegantly with hints of oak and the long lasting finish was simply delicious. Last, but not at least in any way, their 2009 vintage Malbec. Aged 12 months in second fill oak barrels, it showed a complex array of vanilla, sweet spice, black fruits; balanced perfectly with well rounded tannins and a very smooth finish.

These wines are great for an evening in with friends, or simply to enjoy with dinner – in fact, I took the Torrontes and the Cabernet Sauvignon away with me for an evening of just that! Thanks Enrique!

Click here to try the wines for yourself! >>>

 

By Clare Corlett

Amathus Drinks

Nothing like a bit of Krug to really make a Monday Evening!

This Monday Evening saw the long awaited Krug tasting event at our City branch in Leadenhall. The much anticipated showing met with crushing demand for tickets while scrutiny and curiosity overtook on the night.

Krug Tasting at Amathus City, Leadenhall Market
Krug Tasting at Amathus City, Leadenhall Market

Charmingly hosted by senior brand manager Olivia Jalibert who gave a brief introduction before we launched into the Grand Cuvee ‘multi vintage’ blend, Krug’s flagship product renowned for its power yet lightness of touch. There were no disappointments here. A waxy lemon and apricot nose led to a subtle blossomy, stone like minerality, with Krug’s signature trace of oxidisation reminiscent of a seductive amontillado. And what zing with freshness of acidity! herein lies the secret of the lightness of touch.

Next in quick succession came the vintage 2000, a very forward style and weightier version. This displayed a more caramel like, baked yeast nose, ‘like putting your nose into a bakery’ Olivia remarked. In an instant the room became divided with opinions, for and against, vintage or multi-vintage, ‘Big and Heavy’ or lighter and fresher.

To round the evening’s tasting off, the house Rosé was served. Having warmed slightly to Olivia’s preferred serving temperature; very subtle, almost imperceptible aromas of fruit, pinot noir and Turkish delight arose from the glass. Olivia conceded that Krug’s philosophy for this bottling is to keep it ‘more krug than Rosé’, it almost demanded the accompaniment of sushi and wasabi.

And so the evening drew to a close, our thanks go to Olivia and Krug themselves for providing us with superb champagne and delightful company.

If you would like to hear about the latest news and events at Amathus City in Leadenhall Market, please email us at City@AmathusDrinks.com or check out our webpage here>>>

Right to left - Non Vintage, Vintage 2000, Rose
Right to left – ‘Multi Vintage’, Vintage 2000, Rose

By Tom Brown,
Amathus City

Idiom Wines with Roberto Bottega – by Tom Brown

Last Monday saw the Idiom wine tasting event at our city branch in Leadenhall, hosted by family member and producer Roberto Bottega. For those not familiar with this offering, Idiom are one of South Africa’s most recently celebrated and award-winning winemakers. Their wines have won top awards at the latest Decanter trade magazine competition and this was a wonderful opportunity to sample the wines and meet the man who knows them best.

To begin the evening we started by comparing the 2009 and 2011 viognier. Two contrasting styles meant a leap from a broader richer fruit to a lighter zestier and younger version showing the typical viognier characteristics of peach and apricot.

Then moving swiftly onto the reds, in both the sangiovese and zinfandel, we discovered the sangiovese showed a wild fruit very reminiscent of those from Italy, but richer and softer, while the zinfandel beguiled the party of attendees with its savoury aromatics of fresh rosemary and mint with a rounded rich black fruit on the palate and a wonderful freshness and length to finish.

With barely enough time to savour the deliciously rare and succulent sirloin steak prepared by the butchers of Leadenhall located directly opposite, we moved seamlessly onto Roberto’s latest offering of barbera and nebbiolo. Both reflected Roberto’s passion for all things Italian, in keeping with his Italian family roots. Each wine showed the unmistakable traits of their Mediterranean origin; cherry and liquorice, tobacco and lozenge, the Barbera unique with its freshness, a personal favourite of Roberto’s.

Onwards and upwards to the prestige blends of the house, the standard bearers of the firm and the wines winning accolades both here and at home. First came the Bordeaux Blend, firm but supple enough to allow the rich plum merlot fruit to come to the fore, while the Cape Blend, replacing the merlot with pinotage, that notoriously unpredictable grape, filled the palate more broadly splitting opinions as ever between the guests.

And then came the surprise, an unreleased pinot noir, two in fact, a 2010 and 2012, first to try being the oldest. An interesting offering, these are both experimental bottlings trying to pin down the elusive qualities of the earthy yet ethereal grape of Burgundy. The 2010 showed signs of maturation, maybe a hint of rubber, while the 2012 positively sang with poised fruit, perfect extraction and vibrant freshness, this will be an interesting one to watch, if it ever graces our shelves here at Amathus.

With a further offering of ribeye steak from our friends and neighbours the butchers at Leadenhall the evening came to a close. A good time was had by all. Lastly, came the vote for everyone’s favourite wine which threw up the usual conflictions and good humoured debate. All in all this was an enlightening evening hosted warmly and personably, we look forward to more of the same.

The wines are available in store and online for you to enjoy!

By Tom Brown,
Amathus City

Tramontane: A Taste of Roussillon by Matt Smith

On a cosy warm Wednesday evening, we here at Amathus Drinks Soho were delighted to welcome our good friend Andy Cook from Tramontane wines for a truly exceptional master class. With a packed out house, Andy was ready to showcase a range of his wines accompanied by a small variety of nibbles that are traditionally associated from the South of France.

Roussillon, South West France
Roussillon, South West France

Tramontane was first established in 2008 as a jointly run project between Andy and Phillippe Gard. Between them, they have worked as far away as New Zealand and some of the finest Chateaux in Bordeaux. The main philosophy behind Tramontane is to produce top quality wines from the heart of Roussillon. With the hot days and fantastic sunshine that engulfs the South of France; it is not surprising what attracted the two to establish roots in Roussillon. The wines are becoming internationally recognised and are now consumed all over Europe, from as far as Switzerland, Germany and of course here in the UK with Amathus Drinks.

Tramontane produces wines that are traditional to the region, including reds from Grenache, Syrah Mourvedre and whites from Macabeu (that’s Viura in Spain). The south of France shares some of same wine growing traditions as Spain through Catalonia that spreads as far south as Barcelona.

Andy was a very welcoming host who has captured the heart and soul of the Roussillon region with his wines. I can wait to buy another bottle!

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Tramontane Macabeu 2010
A rich floral nose that delivers a lemon punch. Fantastic mierality on the palette with rich flavours of apples that finishes with a clean crisp finish. No oak aging. A sumptuous wine that would match beautifully with a meaty fish or chicken.

Andy Cook of Tramontane Wines
Andy Cook of Tramontane Wines

Tramontane Coillure Blanc 2010
Stunning notes of peach and apricots on the nose that tantalises your mouth. Stunning flavours of stone fruit, in particular white peach with sumptuous background notes of vanilla. This wine definitely potential to age for a couple of years!

Tramontane Grenache Noir 2010
Inviting notes of red fruits, with dried raspberries and blackberries on the nose. Supple tannins that open up into flavours of spice, a hint of vanilla and a supple acidity that is screaming out for fatty sausages or steak.

Tramontane Cotes du Roussillon 2009
Heavily based on Shiraz with a supple blend of Grenache to give the wine an red fruit driven nose. On the palette, spicy dark plums with aromatic strawberries. The bold tannins in this wine is a fantastic match for steak or stew dishes!

Tramontane Collioure Rouge 2009
A sumptuous blend of that famous Southern French grape Mourvedre, rounded off with Grenache. No oak was used during fermentation giving this wine clean, bright acidity. On the palette, spicy dark fruits that develop into hints of leather and tobacco.

By Matt Smith
Amathus Soho
0207 287 5769

Introducing South Africa’s Finest Wines: Idiom & Whalehaven by Matt Smith

An idiom, or an expression with a figurative meaning; this is the aim of Roberto Bottega and his family when producing his award winning wines. By creating wines that capture the true meaning of the landscape, the culture and the heritage of the surrounding area, Idiom wines are gaining a reputation around the world for being some of the finest South Africa wines.

The winery, situated in Da Capo overlooking False Bay in Stellenbosch, was created as a retirement project by Roberto’s father, Alberto. Soon it became a project that would involve the whole family, with Roberto soon helping take the reigns as head winemaker. The philosophy behind the wines was to originally create a Bordeaux blend that would rival the great Bordeaux estates. As the winery evolved, they also began to pay tribute to their South African and Italian heritage by planting Pinotage and Italian grapes such Sangiovese. The wines have recently won Decanter’s best South African red wine in 2010.

Also on tasting was Bottega’s other project Whalehaven in Hermanus. Named after the region in which the vineyards are situated, Southern Right Whales gather in the local bay to breed and is known to be one of the best whale watching areas in the world! The winery was taken over whilst the Idiom vineyards were planted and the reputation is growing for producing single varietal wines such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinotage. The vineyard also produces a range of whites, including Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, to complete a diverse and rich line-up.

Roberto introduced the Whalehaven range first, explaining the methods behind each of the wines; followed after was the three wines from Idiom.

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Whalehaven Sauvignon Blanc
Tropical fruit nose with a hint of minerality. In the mouth, melon flavours with green notes of passion fruit punch that is supported with a rich acidity. A perfect beach wine.

Whalehaven Cabernet Franc
A lifted perfumed nose with a hint of liquorish. A lighter style of Cabernet Franc that deliveries a rich raspberry punch and lightly toasted oak in the mouth.

Whalehaven Merlot
Plummy, smoky with a slight hint of bramble on the nose. A sweet tobacco and cherry mouth that is supported by supple tannins and a warming length.

Whalehaven Pinotage
Dark cherries with a cigar box nose. Rich plum fruit and light blackberries in the mouth. The boldest of the three reds that would well fantastically well with steak or other red meats.

Idiom Viognier
The grapes are picked three times in the growing season (early – middle – late) to achieve a complex wine. Apricots with a hint of buttercup and perfume on the nose. On the mouth, a creamy texture which delivers ripe apples that develops into apricots. A truly magnificent wine!

Idiom Cape Blend
Smokey, liquorish with sour cherries and cedar on the nose. Blackberry, cherry and dried red fruits that open up with a lush, velvety tannin. A cigar box finish with a long length.

Idiom Bordeaux Blend
The flagship of the winery. Aromatic dark cherries with a layer of lush concentrated raspberry. On the palette, velvety smooth tannins that evolve into flavours of blackcurrant, oak, spice and a hint of dark chocolate. Absolutely stunning!

 

By Matt Smith, Amathus Soho

Fattoria Tregole’s Chianti: The taste of Italy by Matt Smith

If there ever was a wine region that resonates with wine lovers around the world, it is Chianti. We were delighted to welcome our good friends, winemaker Catello and his son Francesco, from Fattoria Tregole for an evening of fantastic wines, sumptuous salami and delicious pecorino cheese.

Fattoria Tregole is typical of the majority Italian wineries, family owned and managed. The vineyard was founded in the early 16th century but the region has produced wines since the Etruscan age (that’s 800BC to you and me). In 1980, Catello Conte and his wife decided to buy the vineyard in 1998 to fulfil their lifelong dream of making wines. The dream has been taking shape since then and in 2001 Fattoria adopted a modern approach to winemaking, using the latest technology whilst retaining their Tuscan heritage.

Located in the Castellina district in Chianti, the grapes are grown in a range of vineyards that allow Catello to vinify the wine separately, picking the very best to go into the Chianti Riserva and creating vineyard exclusive wines (such as the Le Pigole). The basic Chianti is not bottled until a minimum of two years aging in the barrel and three years for the Riserva, allowing the wines to evolve and mature before being released onto the market.

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Chianti Classico 2009
Deep ruby red with supple aromas of red cherries, flowers and spice. A full body with balanced, crisp acidity and ripe tannins developing into flavours of leather, slight hint of game and ripe bright cherries with a soft, lingering finish.

Le Pigole ‘2008’
A selection of the finest grapes from across the various vineyards. A fruit driven nose that opens up into spicy and oaky aromas. A powerful mouth with firm tannins that evolves into light raspberry notes that pairs fantastically with salami and pecorino cheese.

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2009
The hit of the evening. A powerful nose with notions of maraschino cherries, vanilla and black pepper. Striking acidity that open up into a rich, creamy mouth feel with subtle notes of oak, dark cherries and a touch of truffle.

Fanero IGT 2005
A rich nose with complex and deep aromas of black pepper, tobacco and black cherries. On the palette, the wine opened up with a well-rounded and grippy tannins that are extremely well balanced. Perfect with game or meat based dished or well-aged cheeses.

Catello spoke with passion about his wines that everyone in the room couldn’t help but fall in love with his wines and Fattoria Tregole.

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We currently stock the Classico and Reserva Chianti’s and are looking at bringing in the other 2 to our range.

By Matt Smith, Wine Expert at Amathus Soho

A First Taste of Koshu: Japanese Wine, by Clare Corlett

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a tasting of our new Japanese wines that have just arrived in store, the fabulous Koshu still and sparkling wines from Lumiere and Soryu wineries.

Do not fret if you haven’t heard of these wineries before, or even of Koshu at all, because at present there is only a very small amount being imported into the UK. The amount we are talking about here is probably the equivalent of about 3 pallets a year at the most of still Koshu – and absolutely no sparkling at all! So you can see why I was excited, both for myself and for Amathus, to have this opportunity to try them in our own store.

I met the delightful owners of the wineries and the Ambassador for Koshu of Japan, Master of Wine Lynne Sherriff, at our Soho store and after a few introductions we were all very eager to get the tasting under way…

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Lumiere Petillant, 100% Koshu

Lumiere Petillant
Lumiere Petillant

Appearance: A beautiful, delicate, pale salmon colour with small persistent bubbles, indicating good pressure in the wine and sustaining fizz. This sparkling is made using the traditional “Champagne” method.

Aroma: On the nose is great citrus aromas; lemon and lime, and crisp red apple, with some stone red fruit notes of plums and cherry.

Palate: To taste, there was a lively fresh acidity to balance with all the aroma flavours coming through on the palate. The bubbles are refreshing and the slight tannins come through giving the wine a little more structure.

The wine has spend 12 months on the lees, providing a lovely, creamy quality and with 8g of residual sugar it is slightly off-dry, making this sparkling even more enjoyable and the perfect aperitif. Alternatively, it would also go very well with simply, salty starters as there is still a note of that savoury character that is found in the base still wine, Koshu.

This is currently the only sparkling Koshu that is imported into the UK and available in both our Amathus stores and our website.

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Soryu Koshu 2010

Soryu Koshu
Soryu Koshu

Appearance: Clear, pale lemon wine with water white rims.

Aroma: A clean, lemon and lime aroma with hints of apple blossom and spice. There is also a mineral quality to the nose that gives this wine that extra depth and complexity. It is a light intensity aroma, which gives the wine a subtleness and delicacy.

Palate: There is a delicious savoury note the palate, reminiscent of perfumed almonds and cashew nuts, making it perfectly matched for an evening tipple with savoury snacks. On the finish, the peach notes really come across and leave you with a very favourable taste.

This is a classic style of Koshu and, with no time on the lees, shows a typical wine from this varietal grape.

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Lumiere Koshu 2010

Appearance: Pale salmon colour with water white rims, showing the pinkness extracted from that of the grape.

Aroma: Citrus notes a prominent but also a great intensity of ripe red apple and mineral notes.

Palate: In comparison to the Soryu, it is slightly more intense and has more body, with a very slight tannin note coming through. The savoury almond and nut notes are still there, complimenting the basic green and red apple flavours and an underlying smokiness. The finish is long yet subtle, again making it a great wine to accompany savoury snacks/ foods or even just to enjoy by itself.

Slightly more fruity and bigger bodied than the Koshu from Soyru, this wine would be suitable with slightly heavier meals but I personally still think it very enjoyable by itself also.

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Koshu: Lumiere and Soryu
Koshu: Lumiere and Soryu

These are unique, stylish wines, perfect for London and for anyone that enjoys an elegant glass of wine. The sparkling has even been mistaken for Champagne by some and is worthy of the mistaken identity. I would strongly advise anyone to try these wines, whether it be for a drinks meeting, a social occasion, or a midweek catch up with friends; these low alcohol, subtle and complex wines are a wonderful choice!

 

By Clare Corlett,
Online Marketing for Amathus Drinks
To buy some for yourself, please do see in store at either our City or Soho store, or alternatively check them out online at: www.amathusdrinks.com/wines/koshu.html