tony and adam

Tony and Adam outside Chateau Pichon Longueville Bordeaux

Tony Stebbings (a.k.a. Winestein) is our very own in-house Chevalier here at SmoothRed. With experience of the wine industry going back over 45 years, he really is our wine oracle when we’re stuck for which bottle to buy for a dinner party or special occasion. The good news is you can ask him too! Simply tweet us @Smooth_Red using the hashtag #AskWinestein and we will aim to get back to your wine question within 24 hrs.

Here are some of his past suggestions:

April – Bouvet Ladubay Saumur Rosé

“As we had a little something to celebrate in the family the other day, I bought a few bottles of  sparkling Saumur Rose from Majestic produced by Bouvet Ladubay, it turned out to be a little winner, this sparkling rose is very delicate has lively aromas of strawberry and cherry, with a long dry finish, certainly got the thumbs up from all the family, so I can thoroughly recommend this as my wine of the month for April, currently on offer at Majestic at £8.99 and at this price possible one of the best value sparkling pink wines about.

At SmoothRed we often include a visit and tasting to the wonderful cellars of Bouvet Ladubay during our wine tours to the Loire Valley,so if you are interested in making a visit do give our sales team a ring.

wine of month loire loire 2

March – Costières de Nîmes

”Well I am off down to Avignon in the Southern Rhone next week to see an old French friend of mine Philippe, who introduced me back in 1974 to the great local wine of the area Costières du Gard. However with their growing reputation in 1986 the wines achieved AOC status and were renamed Costières de Nîmes in 1989, so my recommendation this month has to be a wine from this region.

Waitrose have a really good one on offer at the moment until 15/3/2016. at £8,99 L’arene des Anges 2014 Costières de Nîmes

It’s great blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Carignan, and is exactly what you would expect from the region, soft with red fruit flavours, which linger long in the mouth with hint of spice, it reminds me so much of the most enjoyable times I had with Philippe eating barbequed meats and cassoulet at his place on the banks of the Gard, so looking forward to next week to experience it all again, and sample the wines from the region.

At SmoothRed we do many different types of wine tours to the Rhone, so if you also are interested in sampling the delights of the region do give our office a ring.”

costieres-de-nimesrhoneWalk in the vineyard

January – Go off Piiiste?

After all the festivities of Christmas and the New Year, I am  now looking forward to a bit of Skiing. How about going off  ‘piist’ for the wine of the month and trying something completely different? A Swiss white wine produced from the chasselas grape known locally as the Fendant is a great one to try.  This wine has a subtle fresh bouquet with a hint of minerality, on the taste it is round and dry. Great to have with salads but if you are having a Swiss wine go for a cheese Fondue!

Not easy to find in the UK but R & B Wines Ltd have one on their list the 2014 vintage at £17 per bottle, email: but please note you are obliged  to buy a minimum of 12 bottles mixed from their very informative list.

At SmoothRed we are more than happy to organise a wine and ski trip, just give our office a ring for more information.


December – The Only 12 Wines you need to know this Christmas!

As the festive season bears down upon us, many of us will be stuck for choice when it comes to choosing a good bottle of Christmas plonk; left standing and gawking in a supermarket aisle faced with what probably amounts to a small reservoir’s worth of wine. Luckily, we’re here to offer you the finest recommendations for the finest wines for every day leading up until Christmas, courtesy of our resident wine expert Tony Stebbings! And they’re all available to buy in your local supermarket – easy!

Bottle of red wine with Christmas lights in the background

On the first day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Taste the Difference Gavi from Sainsbury’s – their 2014 is a light and refreshing white wine, bursting with citrus flavours. The Araldica winery where it is produced is perched on the stunning hills of Piedmont (do check out our fabulous wine tours as you go along!) and is made from the Cortese vines. At £8.00 a bottle, a great start to the festive season.

On the second day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Tesco Finest Rioja Reserva Vina del Cura 2011, reminiscent of his fabulous trip to Rioja. The red wine is full of dark red fruit on the nose with a good integration of wood with a soft supple finish in the mouth, the wine is made by the well-respected house of Baron de Ley, from the Tempranillo grape: the ideal partner to go with a shepherd’s pie. And the cost is £6.00 on offer till 13/12/2015. Make a note!
On the third day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Sogrape Quinta de Azevedo 2014 Vinho Verde. This is a stylish, crisp dry white wine from Portugal which has a natural slight spritz to it on the palate. Great to drink on its own, or have it with a shrimp salad. Available from Waitrose for £8.29

On the fourth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Beaujolais Village 2014 Combe aux Jacques, from Louis Jadot. This has more structure than your standard Beaujolais and is a real cracker, from one of the best Burgundy producers – full of fruit, as one expects from the Gamay grape, and soft with lots of long lasting flavours. An ideal partner to go with cold Turkey, so get two!

On the fifth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Maremma Toscana Rosso 2013, from the Tuscany region of Italy. This is a super little number, well balanced with good fruit on the nose and rounded tannins on the palate. Not to be drunk on its own, it will go great with all red meat. This comes from Lidl and is £7.99

On the sixth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of wine from one of our most popular destinations – Alsace’s Jean Cornelius Riesling, Grand Cru Ollwiller. This is a classy little number – after all Riesling is the king of the wines from Alsace. It’s elegant with a lemony floral bouquet and long lasting flavours in the mouth, great with fish or cold white meats – this one is from Lidl at £8.99.

On the seventh day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Taste the Difference Marques de Almeida, 2014. This wine is from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain and is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes – it has great depth of flavours on the palate and dark berry fruit on the nose, a great partner for all spicy foods and mature cheese dishes. Cost is £7.00 a bottle at Sainsbury’s.

On the eighth day of Christmas Tony is starting to get excited – and will open a bottle of Chablis La Collegiale from Domaine Laroche 2014. This is a high quality Chablis with a citrus floral nose. It has a dry stony finish on the palate, and is an ideal partner with all seafood and salad dishes, currently on sale at Majestic for £10.45 providing you buy 6 bottles of any wine.

On the ninth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Domaine des Forges 2011 Coteaux du Layon Premier Cru Chaume from the Loire Valley. Have it with a piece of Christmas cake – it’s a lovely sweet white wine with a lively freshness to it. Currently priced at £8.49 from Waitrose.

On the tenth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Chateau Trimoulet Grand Crus St Emilion 2009. He knows the producer well – it’s an excellent example of a St Emilion, and the family Jean have owned the property for eight generations. 2009 was a good year in Bordeaux and it shows in this wine – it’s a Merlot dominated blend that has dark red fruit on the nose with good length and structure on the palate, the perfect wine to share with friends and family over Christmas and currently available from Marks and Spencer from £22 per single bottle but 25% off if you buy two.

On the eleventh day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Port – this year, a bottle of Taylors 10 year old Tawny. It has an intense complex nose, and is rich and soft on the palate: great with all cheeses – and, of course, the odd chocolate. Available from Tesco at £16.

On the twelfth day of Christmas Tony will open a bottle of Champagne from his own cellar. There are so many deals out there it’s difficult to say what’s best, this one will be a little number from one of the small producers we visit on our tours to the region – and it will be a great bottle of bubbly.


“With Adam having just returned from hosting another successful SmoothRed wine tour to Oporto, I thought it would be good to select a port for my tipple this month. A particular favourite producer of mine is Taylors, and their 10-year-old Tawny has all the charm and spice and delicate flavours of a fine port, balanced with a nutty finish. I like this, and with Christmas just around the corner, it will go well during those festivities. Currently on sale at Waitrose for £22 per bottle, but if you want something a little less expensive then why not try Taylors’ Late Bottled Vintage? This is  produced from a single vintage, both rich and fruity, and on sale at Sainsbury’s for £12.

Oh, and if you want to go to Oporto and see for yourself how these lovely fortified wines are made, do give us a call and we would be delighted to organise a great trip.”


“Well, having just spent a great evening at one of my favourite eating places – The Beaujolais Club, in London’ – this month it has to be a wine from one of the ten Beaujolais villages, so I have gone for a Morgon! It may not be the most well-known of the Crus, but this is certainly a classic wine. It’s very generous on the palate and packed with lots of fruit on the nose, as is typical of the Gamay grape from which it is produced. The one I am suggesting comes from Oddbins; Morgon Henry Fessy, at £11 per bottle, is the ideal partner to have with a plate of cheese and pâté, with a French baguette.”


“Just put together another amazing Smoothred Tour for some clients – this time to the very picturesque  Rhone valley – so I thought, let’s get a bottle of Crozes Hermitage from the Northern Rhone. Sainsbury’s are selling theirs from Cave De Tain at £10.00. This wine, blended from 100% Syrah grapes, is rich and spicy and quite soft. If you like a wine with a bit of character, then you’ll like this one. With the end of summer nearly here, this wine is perfect to go with big hearty stews.

Oh, and if you have never visited the Rhone, why not book a tour through SmoothRed? Then you could taste and see for yourself all the fabulous different styles of wines that the Rhone Valley produces.”


“Just sampled the Domaine Saint Ferréol Viognier 2013 from Majestic (£9.99), and thought it would be good to share my experience with you. It’s an excellent example of how Viognier should taste – an intense aromatic nose with a hint of vanilla. It’s very full in the mouth, and so ideal to partner with food. I would suggest a nice bowl of asparagus or smoked salmon, but I’m sure, whatever you have with it, this Viognier will get your taste buds going – and for £9.99 (on offer at Majestic if you buy six bottles). If you haven’t tasted Viognier before, I can certainly recommend this one.”


”Terre de Ferro 2013 from Lidl  – This is a red wine from the DAO wine producing district of Portugal. It’s made to be drunk young and has a lively intense red colour; on the nose, the aromas have a hint of cherry and in the mouth it’s nice and juicy. I served this wine lightly chilled at our BBQ, and it went down really well with my burgers and slightly over cooked sausages! At £4.79 a bottle, it’s great value, too.”


“Having just done a trip to Bordeaux – 1,300 miles by car! – and with the strawberries and cream season about to start, let’s go for a wine which marries the two up. I stayed in the Loire Valley on my return journey, so my recommendation would be Domaine des Forges Côteaux du Layon Chaume from the Loire Valley (available at Waitrose at £8.49). With the lovely ripe sweetness of the strawberries, you don’t want a dry wine, so this Domaine compliments the fruit flavours by harmonising the sweetness with lovely fruit flavours – a great match. But if you want to push the boat out, go for a half bottle of Tesco Finest Sauternes at £13.99, from Yvon Mau – this really is a fine example of a Sauternes. It’s luscious, rich and full of honey and candy fruit flavours. After you’ve had half a bottle, you’ll definitely want to go back and get another!”


“As your Winestein is off to the Caribbean, I thought I had better get in the mood and send you my wine of the month for May.

Well, with this bit of sunshine and the blue from the fantastic bluebells in our wood, it reminds me a little of Provence’s rolling fields of lavender, so what better wine to choose than a rosé from Provence…?

The Commanderie de Peyrassol Côtes de Provence 2014 from Majestic fits the bill perfectly with  a hint of strawberry and peaches on the  nose and a soft refreshing dry palate – just the right partner for those spring and summer salads, or for sipping outside whilst watching the sun go down. It’s on offer reduced from £12.99 to £9.74 (when you buy six bottles mixed) or if you want something slightly off dry why not  go for the Château La Gravette 2014 from Minervois? It’s lighter in style, and also at Majestic at £6.99.”


“Wondering what to drink now the sun has come out? If you’ve spent the weekend mowing the lawn and spring cleaning, we suggest you put your feet up with something light and fresh such as a bottle of Champteloup Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from Touraine currently £6.49 at Waitrose.

This is a great example of a French Sauvignon, and represents excellent value; it has depth of flavour with a grassy, citrus freshness on the nose. A real spring wine, and if you are having a salad or fish – what a perfect partner.”


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