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A little over 100 weeks ago, I wrote the very first ever Josh's Wine List. It set out with one core aim: to help other people learn about wine.
Recently, someone asked me the question why – why is it important to learn about wine.
I can't emphasise enough just how much studying wine improved wine for me.
Once you learn to taste, every glass becomes interesting. It doesn't matter if that particular blend of aromas is to your taste, but you can still enjoy that wine. Even if just to mentally note that 15.5% reds with big old tannins aren't to your taste, or maybe you want a bit more texture to your whites.
Wine tells a story – if you want it. And if you do look, wine can tell you the cultural history of a place, the evolution of its people, and hint towards local cuisines. It reveals the story of winemakers and their own philosophy on the world. And it has a wonderful ability to create memories and give you a sense of who you were when you drank it.
But only if you want it, if all you're after is a glass at the end of a stressful day – it'll treat you very kindly (if not better) for you then as well.
I have always been someone who loves to share. It's probably why Twitter is my favourite social network. It's definitely why from my early teens I'd write a music blog, which had no more than 10 readers. It's why I like to DJ.
And then I found wine, and I had this need to share what I had learnt so that you too could share these delights along the way with me.
Wine List – the subscription course –is nearly approaching its first milestone as well: it's first birthday. Wine List is the perfect culmination of all of these things.
I want to thank you all for being regular readers. This list grows a lot every week, and is read by a huge number of you all the time. I am so grateful for that – whether you've been here since issue one, or this is your first time.
I want to offer a bit of a special offer for today only to celebrate one year of Wine List.
If you are new and not a subscriber, then you can get 50% off your first month if you sign up today. The code is JWL50 and it expires at midnight.
For all of you who are already subscribers, I want to give you something too. You can have £10 off a surplus wine order when you spend £49 or more – enter EARLYTHANKS10 at checkout.
Regular service shall now return but from a very grateful founder & newsletter writer – thank you.
I've fallen a bit for the Aldi Classic Icons range recently. Jean Bouchard makes their white Burgundy: a Pouilly-Fuissé, which at £15.99 is likely one of the upper ends you'd expect to pay in the budget supermarket. But it is still excellent value. There's crisp green apple, hints of hawthorn, blossom, and pear. The acid is good. The finish a touch short. But overall a really delightful white Burgundy.
If you want to see how different chardonnay can be to the Fuissé's elegance, then buy the Lot XI Margaret River (£10.99) while you're there. This has a whole array of fruit, with tropical notes on the palate, and melon and smoke and lemon on the nose. The acid is lower, the mouthfeel fuller, and the finish longer. Both great displays of chardonnay in their own particular way.
Finally, for something a bit different. M&S have a garnacha blanca from Terra Alta for £9 where you can find it. This has lemon, fleshy apricot, mango and wild flowers, Then there's this darker, herbal edge on the palate that really gives it depth. Feels incredibly versatile and want to make sure there's always one nearby this summer.
Chardonnay is one of the world's few grapes that can be grown in cool, moderate and hot climates.
In each, it borrows different characteristics leaning greener in cool climates, and more tropical in hot climates.
As well as its versatility in the vineyard, it can be fermented and aged in a variety of styles too. It produces both still and sparkling wine, where it represents one of Champagne's big three. And if you ever see a blanc de blancs, that means a sparkling wine made entirely from chardonnay (my personal favourite).
It suffered from its own success when one style dominated the entry price points throughout the 90s and early 00s. But today, most winemakers around the world opt for leaner styles. If you want to try two sides to this grape, grab both the Aldi bottles in today's Taste.