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Stepping out of your comfort zone!
Do you always choose the same thing? I think we’re all creatures of habit and like to stick to what we know, even me and there’s always so many to choose from! You can guess that from my Terri’s Favourites! Case, as they’re all aromatic whites and soft fruity reds.
But if you’re feeling adventurous you could always trust us! We’ve put together different mixed wine cases, some with themes in mind and others are just a mixture for those of you who like to try something different.
One of my favourite cases at the moment is the Pennies VS Pounds – White Wine Selection. The thought behind these cases is to try the same grape but at different price points, you be the judge if it’s worth the extra per bottle. I always find it so interesting comparing the same grape but made in a different way or style.
We love changing these mixed cases up as often as we can too. Dylan has recently changed his favourites selection – Dylan’s Italian Favourites! He opted for a case of all his favourite Italian wines, although it was hard for him to narrow down.
“Hard to believe there is anyone that doesn’t love Italian food and combined with fine Italian wine you should be in heaven. A selection of wines that take me back to wonderful meals and wonderful tastings – Dylan.”
So if you fancy letting us take control, take a look at our selection of cases and try something new.
What’s in a wine label?
Llongyfarchiadau i fyfyrwyr Coleg Meirion Dwyfor!
Well, quite a lot actually listening to customers. Time and time again I hear people saying they go for an appealing label and to be honest, faced with a wall of unknown makers in a supermarket there can sometimes be little else to go on as to the quality of some wines. Maybe if they’ve taken care and thought with the label they will have done the same with the content? We can but hope!
We love working with young people so this ties in nicely with an annual competition with the Extended Diploma in Art & Design students from the local college, which is part of the Llandrillo Menai Group. We select a few wines (always one Welsh) and they taste and have a talk about them before being set the challenge of designing a new label.
What they come up with is always interesting and meaningful. Dylan is the judge so his word is law! However, we all enjoy having a look and thinking about what which one we would choose and the rationale behind the designs. I really loved the White Castle Vineyard label with the castle outline drawn into the wine juice splash. Em and Terri like the representation of the citrus in the Wilde Wilde White Sauvignon Blanc from Austria by Kirnbauer. The winner however was the very pretty label by Glesni Owen who won a bottle for her efforts!
It’s a tricky one to decide and every year they are interesting and get the idea to convey what is in the bottle. Well done to the talented team.
Honda Goldwing in Paris!
An unusual invitation dropped into my inbox a while ago: ‘The British Ambassador Dame Menna Rawlings will have the pleasure to welcome Ms Llinos Rowlands to celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Les Voisins and the launch of our new GREAT campaign.’
It didn’t take long to book that Eurostar ticket after a 3 year moratorium on foreign travel. I think the excitement went to my head a bit and that’s my explanation for taking a Honda Goldwing taxi through Paris on my arrival. It shocked staff and family – Terri nearly choked on her rice crispies when she received my video but that just added to the fun.
So I had a splendid visit to the Louvre with my dear friend Elin and lounged casually sipping wine in numerous bars before going to the spectacular residence of the British Ambassador – as you do.
The idea behind Les Voisins is to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and build on links. I like that idea. I had written a short piece for them a few years ago about Saint Cels, our lovely producer in St Chinian.
A friendly Frenchman I chatted to was bemused by the event and with a cheeky smile said ‘Is zis to make Britain great again?’ I like a bit of banter and told him that the sparkling he was enjoying was English (I had clocked the cases of Nyetimber behind the curtains). I saw him a few minutes later quizzing the waiter and being shown a bottle. Mon dieu! He needed another drink after that!
It was a fun affair with food, music, lightshows and… oh no. Singing. The Voisins from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales were invited to sing in competition. So I had the dubious honour of singing ’Sex Bomb’ of all songs to choose alongside the Ambassador and the handfuI of Welsh people. I don’t like singing in public but thankfully there was a raucous atmosphere by then and no-one heard hopefully!
So an interesting visit and it was just so good to travel to the continent again. I’m proud of our trading relationships with lots of small wine makers around Europe. During such a sad time on our doorstep I am more than willing to take part in our very small way to cement strong and lasting friendships. Cheers to every Voisin around the world!
Honda Goldwing ym Mharis
Daeth gwahoddiad anarferol iawn trwy e-bost tua mis yn ôl. The British Ambassador Dame Menna Rawlings will have the pleasure to welcome Ms Llinos Rowlands to celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Les Voisins and the launch of our new GREAT campaign.
Wel, don’t mind if I dw! Dyma archebu fy nhocyn Eurostar yn syth! Sioc gyntaf i staff a theulu oedd fy newis o dacsi trwy Baris pan gyrhaeddais – ie, tacsi beic modur! Roedd Sebastien a’i Honda Goldwing yn ffordd gyffroes a chyflym i deithio mewn Dinas. Bron i Terri dagu ar ei swper pan welodd fy fideo.
Pwrpas yr oll beth o ‘voisines’ (cymdogion’ ydi cryfhau’r berthynas rhwng y DU a Ffrainc. Ysgrifennais erthygl iddynt tua 3 mlynedd yn ôl (trwy’r dalentog Elin Roberts) am y berthynas rhwng Gwin Dylanwad ac un o’r gwinllannoedd o Ffrainc rydym yn mewnforio ganddynt. Felly, dwi’n voisine!
Roedd yn barti llawn hwyl, bwyd a dawnsio yn yr adeilad hanesyddol a hardd yng nghanol y ddinas. Ac roedd voisines o’r Alban, Gogledd Iwerddon a Lloegr yn ogystal â Chymru. Yn anffodus roedd gofyn i bob cenedl DU ganu i gynrychioli eu gwlad. O Gymru mae’r Llys Genhades Menna Rawlings yn wreiddiol. Ond doedd dim ond hanner dwsin o Gymru. Y dewis o gan i ni? ‘Sex Bomb’ a goeliwch! Felly cefais y ‘fraint’ o ganu ‘Sex Bomb’ gyda nhw. Diolch i’r nefoedd roedd cynulleidfa swnllyd erbyn hyn a dwi’n wir obeithio bo dim fideo!!
WSET Level 3 – We’re on it!
The train journey down to London on Sunday night was less than inspiring. Floods on the roads to Welshpool, freezing cold in Wolverhampton. It was nice to arrive to a crisp moonlit night in the city and after a quick meal out, a walk down to the Thames we packed ourselves to bed for an early night before a tutored tasting day in Bermondsey.
Everyone laughs when we say it’s work, but seriously, it’s hard going! Emma, Terri and I have enrolled on the Wset Level 3 Wine course and the exams are in April. This day is to prepare for the blind tasting part of the final assessment. Not a drop is drunk. Well, a little may have slipped down in my weaker moments but on the whole, it was a solid 7 hours of learn, taste, analyse, repeat.
Essentially, we were learning how to analyse wine and make a judgement about its quality and main features. Is it balanced? Is it simple or complex? You are required to judge the sweetness, tannin, flavours etc and there are so many factors to consider. It’s a big step up from Level 2 which we sat a few years ago.
We like to keep developing professionally and it’s a brilliant challenge. It fires you up about the subject even more and keeps the work interesting for everyone. The result, we hope, is a confident team who are able to guide and advise confidently to the wine that suits you and to encourage customers to experiment if they want to. Part of the fun of the shop is to help people discover new styles or grapes.
The wine world is a complex and often tough one for the winemakers with their battle against weather and disease and the myriad of decisions they have to make from the planting of the vine to the bottling: every step affecting the style, quality and price. A course like this educates us but also breeds enormous respect for what they do. Call in and we’ll tell you about it!
Roedd taith lawr i Lundain ar Nos Sul ddim yn ddelfrydol yn ystod y Mis Bach. Ar ôl glaw ar y ffordd i Trallwng a rhewi o oer yn Wolverhampton braf oedd cyrraedd i noson glir a braf yn y ddinas. Dro bach ar ôl cinio i weld Tower Bridge a Thŵr Llundain wedi’u goleuo’n brydferth a gwely cynnar i baratoi am gwrs blasu gwin yn Bermondsey.
Peidiwch â chwerthin pan dwi’n dweud fod hyn yn waith caled! Mae Emma, Terri a fi ar gwrs Lefel 3 Gwin ac angen paratoi at arholiadau ym Mis Ebrill. Er mwyn paratoi at y darn blasu o’r arholiad, mae’r diwrnod yma. Dim tropyn yn cael ei yfed. Wel, efallai lithrodd rhyw ychydig lawr fy ngwddf ambell dro. Ond dim llawer, oherwydd o 9yb tan 5yh roedd angen canolbwyntio’n llwyr. Dysgu, trafod, blasu, dadansoddi. Drosodd a drosodd.
Dysgu sut i feirniadu safon gwin ydi’r amcan. Ydi hwn yn win wedi’u gynhyrchu’n dda? Oes balans rhwng ffrwyth ac asid? Ydi o’n syml neu gymhleth? Mae gymaint o ffactorau i’w hystyried ond wanwyl oedden ni’n tair wedi dysgu gymaint! Mae hwn yn gam mawr o’r Lefel 2 rhai blynyddoedd yn ôl
Dechrau Ebrill byddwn yn ôl lawr yn yr adeilad Wset (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) i sefyll un arholiad blasu ac un ysgrifenedig ar ôl 3 mis o astudio ar lein. Mae’r buddsoddiad yma’n fawr i ni gyd. 10 awr yr wythnos ychwanegol o astudio. Mae Emma a minnau’n cwrdd am 8.30 y bore i geisio dal y blaen!
Hoffwn feddwl am waith yn Dylanwad fel proffesiwn. Felly mae datblygiad proffesiynol yn hanfodol. I gadw aelodau staff gwerthfawr rhaid buddsoddi a chadw’r gwaith yn ddiddorol – a heriol! Y canlyniad gobeithio yw tîm sy’n hyderus i arwain cwsmeriaid i brynu beth maent yn hoffi ac i fentro i arbrofi gyda gwin.
Mae’n fyd cymhleth a chaled i’r cynhyrchwyr. Un peth oedden ni’n tair yn gytûn arno, y mwyaf ni’n dysgu’r mwyaf mae’n barch yn tyfu at y gwinwyr a’r myrdd o ddewisiadau rhaid gwneud yn pob cam o’r winllan i’r botel. A’r dewisiadau yma sy’n dylanwadu ar y steil, safon a’r pris.
Galwch heibio i holi cwestiwn a rhoi sialens i Terri ac Emma!
Detholiad Ionawr Emma – Emma’s January Selection
During January most of us are trying to cut down on alcohol. I have chosen this selection of lower alcohol wines but never lower quality. I hope you enjoy the variety as much as I do.
Our Vineyard Visits
Ogereau was one of the first vineyards Terri and I visited with Dyl. See the photos below – how young do we look there?! Emmanuel & family are lovely and so are the wines. This rosé is demi-sec so has a touch of sweetness but is perfectly balanced with good acidity. Don’t reach for the chocs – make this your Saturday sip instead.
What’s in a Name?
You’ll notice the name of the Llabustes red and may wonder about the significance. Ull de Llebre means ‘hare’s eye’ because they are small and dark just like the tempranillo grape used to make this wine. A beautiful red from Catalunya.
Emma’s Selection of Welsh Wines
I am particularly fond of all Montgomery wines. If you haven’t heard already, I have helped several times to pick the grapes! This is a delicious fruity red with good acidity and low tannins.
Back to the Loire
Douce Folie is from another small family vineyard in the Loire. We visited this one too – it’s situated closer to the coast. This is a delicious sweet wine that I love.
Dylan’s Cross Bay Walk – Money for Madagascar
On the 5th June Dylan proudly strode on to Morecambe Bay to do the moderately famous Cross Bay Walk, led by the Queen’s Guide across the dangerous shifting sands for the Money for Madagascar charity.
So why Madagascar? A country famous for its unique flora and fauna it is also one of the poorest and most underdeveloped in the world and Dylan’s great grandfather Thomas Rowlands is buried there. He and his wife worked tirelessly as missionaries for the people of Madagascar and this is documented in a book ‘Thomas Rowlands of Madagascar’ by Edward and Emrys Rowlands.
Certain things strike you reading the book. The sad fact that not a lot has changed for the Malagasy people. 90% of the rural population cannot meet their basic food needs. 50% of children under five suffer stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition. We have a watercolour painting bought by Thomas Rowlands of cattle being herded across a river and a hundred years later you can still see the same scene there. Dylan said he felt echoes of this painting as he and some 350 other walkers crossed knee deep through the Kent River in the middle of the sands in random and rather unruly lines.
Thomas Rowlands and his wife were out there during the Spanish flu pandemic – a parallel to the 21st century that just makes you pause for thought as history repeats itself and we feel these links to the past and across continents.
It’s an ironic and sad thought that the petrol spent getting to Arnside and back to complete the walk cost Dylan the equivalent of a months’ wages for the average Malagasy. However, he raised a £1,000 and hopefully some awareness of this island that has a particular significance for him.
Llinos’ Ebike and the Prostate Cancer Fundraiser
Charities have had a really tough time during Covid so we are choosing a few extra to support this next year. The first one popped up on Facebook – Cycle 100 miles in May for Prostate Cancer. Well, it seemed the natural thing to do. I had just bought a new bike. I have a father, two brothers, two sons and a grandson. I also have friends who have fought this disease, so I signed up.
Then I thought, ‘I have an ebike’. This seemed a bit easy really and during hard times it was likely to be difficult to raise a decent sum of money. An extra challenge was needed to encourage the donations and hey presto, the birth of the ridiculous idea of cycling an extra mile for every £1 over £300 raised. Three things I didn’t consider. It may be an ebike but it still needs propelling. You need time to cover long distances and I have an hour or so each day that I can spend pedalling. The generosity of Dolgellau residents and our customers is and always has been amazing.
I cycled almost every day in all sorts of weather. Took it with me on holidays to the Lake District and bumped around Whinlatter forest trails (falling off more than I care to mention) but the mounting donations were accumulating faster than my not-so-fit legs could pedal. Ex pupils and family members were donating for not so benevolent reasons I suspect and my pride was resulting in a nightly John Wayne walk to a hot bath.
As the final total reached £1073.00, I recognised that there was no way on earth I could complete the extra 773 miles in May – even if I used Dylan’s motorbike. But at the time of writing, I have done 264 miles leaving a mere 509 to go. I am setting a target of completing the miles by the end of July now which is still a bit of a task!
It’s been a great challenge and there was a marvellous support group on Facebook. Thanks again to all the lovely people who donated towards this deserving charity and got me on my bike again!