Your staycation guide: Spain


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Photograph: Jason Lowe

Travel corridors may be opening up, but a holiday this summer isn’t necessarily on the cards. Get set for a serious staycation with our holiday hit-list: here’s everything you need to bring a slice of Spain to you

Swap Radio 4 for Enrique Iglesias, and settle in with a glass of something that speaks of warmer climes, as you start planning a superior staycation. You may not be walking round the Prado, exploring Seville, or gazing up at the Sagrada Familia, but – with the right soundtrack, reading list, films and food (not to mention wine) – you can get pretty close. Here’s our short-list to get you going.


  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: From its conception in 1989, it took Terry Gilliam almost three decades to get this film out the door. It’s a fun adventure that will take you deep into rural Spain.
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona: A Woody Allen classic that earnt Penelope Cruz an Oscar. It’s a charming escape to a tempestuous summer in Barcelona.
  • Sexy Beast: This black comedy featuring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley might make you happy you’re staying home this summer. It’s a brilliant twist on the classic gangster genre filled with the sunshine of the Costa del Sol.
  • Volver: We had to include at least one Almodóvar – this, also featuring Penelope Cruz, come from his heyday. Gripping, this dark yet warming and vibrant tale follows three generations of women in rural Spain.


  • As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee: This sequel to Cider with Rosie follows Laurie Lee’s walk from the Cotswolds to Spain, a nation then on the brink of civil war. It captures the brewing uncertainty and Spanish countryside perfectly.
  • Death in the Afternoon – Ernest Hemingway:Smell the blood and sand, the tension in the air as all eyes watch a lone bull and the torero do a fatal dance in Hemingway’s brilliant book on bullfighting.
  • Leaving the Atocha Station – Ben Lerner: There’s something almost Dostoevskyan about Ben Lerner’s both tragic and witty tale of an American poet struggling with life and art in Madrid.
  • The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Disappear in this literary thriller set in Madrid. A page-turner that also happens to be written beautifully, settle in as the mystery of a forgotten book is unravelled.


  • Gipsy Kings: We couldn’t limit ourselves to a single song from this iconic band, whose flamenco-edged pop is as catchy as can be.
  • Carmen – Bizet: A French opera, but set in Seville, Bizet’s tragic tale is filled with fiery women and bullfighting. We recommend having a bottle of Manzanilla on hand.
  • Y Viva España – Sylvia: With travel corridors opening up, you might be able to sing the chorus of this retro hit with confidence: Oh this year I’m off to sunny Spain…
  • Deveulveme La Vida – David Bustamante: We challenge you not to tap your foot to David Bustamante’s classic tune. In fact, we challenge you not to deep dive into the archive of this Latin pop legend.


Stock your wine rack with bottles from the region to set up for a serious staycation: browse our favourites here.

Category: Miscellaneous,Spanish Wine

Bordeaux 2019: what the critics are saying


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Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, St Julien. Photograph: Jason Lowe
The world’s wine critics have had their say on Bordeaux 2019, most having spent weeks tasting samples couriered from the châteaux to their homes. Here’s our round-up of what they said – and the wines they rated most highly


Neal Martin’s report was among the last – but most anticipated – report to be released. Tasting samples in his garden shed, he valued the chance that the unusual circumstances brought to revisit samples over the course of a day – and the chance to linger a little longer over his assessment than he might otherwise be able to. Despite the early release of some wines, he deliberately held off to publish a complete report, offering an overall assessment of the vintage.

He declares it an “excellent” vintage, feeling it sits alongside the best vintages of the century – 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2016 – feeling it sits “a notch below the 2016s”, which is nevertheless “a great place to be”. The wines he suggest offer more elegance than 2018, and he foretells a more storied future. Amongst the top estates, he found amazing quality, with more variable results lower down the ranks. He feels 2019 is characterised by an aromatic lift, a creaminess in texture, remarkable purity and fine tannins. Alcohol levels are a bit higher than he’d like, but “deftly disguised”. Key to the vintage for Neal Martin is the acidity – bringing “freshness and tension”. Like other critics, he praised the move in the winery towards freshness, fruit and less extraction.

Neal Martin’s highlights: Cos d’Estournel, Calon-Ségur, Lafon-Rochet, Meyney, Pichon-Lalande, Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite-Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville-Las Cases and Le Petit Lion, Léoville-Poyferré, Gloria, Saint-Pierre, Léoville-Barton, Langoa-Barton, Lagrange, Branaire-Ducru, Margaux, Cantenac-Brown, Giscours, Brane-Cantenac, Domaine de Chevalier, La Louvière, Larrivet Haut-Brion, Malartic-Lagravière, Smith Haut-Lafitte, Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, Haut-Bailly, Poujeaux, l’Eglise-Clinet, Trotanoy, La Fleur-Pétrus, La Conseillante, l’Evangile, Clinet, Troplong-Mondot, Bellevue-Mondotte, Figeac, Angélus, Quintus, Suduiraut

Read Neal Martin’s full report here (available to Vinous subscribers only)


Vinous is rare in having two critics assessing Bordeaux En Primeur. Antonio Galloni is enthusiastic about 2019, feeling it’s an “outstanding vintage”. For him, it’s the balance that defines the wines – they are ripe with high tannins but surprising freshness. He suggests that the northern reaches of Pauillac and St Estèphe particularly excelled, but has found “phenomenal wines in every appellation”. He argues that 2019 is a combination of 2009, 2010 and 2014 in terms of character. He is keen to emphasise that hasn’t been able to taste as widely as normal, but echoes Neal in praising the value of being able to revisit samples over the course of a day (or more). He did however note that he didn’t get to taste the wines from each commune together, therefore making it harder to put each wine in its own context. Despite these challenges, he declares 2019 “a superb vintage that falls just short of being truly epic”, and emphasises the value to be found in lesser appellations.

Antonio Galloni’s highlights: Calon-Ségur, Cos d’Estournel, Phélan-Ségur, Lafon-Rochet, Le Boscq, Lilian Ladouys, Meyney, Lynch-Bages, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Pontet-Canet, Pichon Baron, Grand Puy Ducasse, Duhart Milon, Léoville-Poyferré, Léoville-Barton, Langoa Barton, Léoville Las Cases, Branaire-Ducru, Gloria, Saint-Pierre, Margaux, Giscours, Haut-Brion, Smith Haut Lafitte, Pape Clément, Domaine de Chevalier, La Conseillante, l’Église-Clinet, Hosanna, Feytit-Clinet, Angélus, Figeac, Clos Fourtet, La Gaffelière, Larcis Ducasse, L’If, Troplong Mondot, Valandraud, Laroque

Read Antonio Galloni’s full report here (available to Vinous subscribers only)


Prompted by the early and rapid releases, Jeb Dunnuck published a first part of his report (the second is due to go live any day now). This first offering is only a brief overview with his topline thoughts, and further detail to follow in part two, but he believes 2019 is “a beautiful, incredibly high-quality vintage” that sits among the century’s greats. He feels the wines offer “beautiful ripeness and relatively sunny, full-bodied characters”. He compares it to a combination of 2009 and 2010, or possibly 2015 and 2016, quoting Lafite’s technical director Eric Kohler describing it as “classic yet modern”.

Read the first part of Jeb Dunnuck’s review here (tasting notes available only to subscribers)

Château Margaux, Margaux. Photograph: Jason Lowe
Château Margaux, Margaux. Photograph: Jason Lowe


Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW released notes as and when wines came out, “flash reviews” as they called them. Her full report was eager to defend this, feeling that they were important to staying true to the Wine Advocate’s primary purpose as a wine buyer’s guide, even if these couldn’t offer the context she would have liked.

Overall, she feels that the Bordelais were keen to make it seem like an easy vintage – which she argues it was in comparison to the frost-ridden 2017 and mildewed 2018, but not necessarily as effortless as they suggested. She emphasised that spring rains were key to helping vines survive the summer heat spikes, and late rains in September were essential for relieving stress in the Cabernet. Like Neal Martin, she emphasised the softer touch in the winery, with less extraction, has produced more approachable wines. She also highlights the freshness of the vintage. Contrary to others she felt that the unusual circumstances allowed her to sample wines from different properties side by side, rather than tasting them solo at each château. She feels 2019 is “an outstanding vintage”, defined by their energy and minerality – but doesn’t find the inconsistency others did, and feels that vineyard work was key to success. The wines will, she argues, be approachable young but nevertheless have “staying power”.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s highlights: Mouton Rothschild, Pichon Baron, Ducru Beaucaillou, Figeac, Troplong-Mondot, Lilian Ladouys, Meyney, Laroque, Margaux, Vieux Château Certan, Haut-Bailly, Pichon Lalande

Read Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW’s full report here (available to subscribers only)


Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and author of Inside Bordeaux, Jane Anson is based in the region, giving her better access to samples than most other critics. She tasted more wines than ever before – close to 1,000 she estimates – and, since published her early thoughts in April, her opinion of the vintage has only improved. There were decent yields, and the wines offer good ageing potential. Like Neal Martin, she feels there is great consistency at the best estates, but less so below the top tier. She notes some trends: the rise of Malbec in blends, more whites being made and the positive move toward sustainability across the region. She believes it’s a successful year and that, at their best, the 2019 wines fall just behind those of 2010 or 2016.

Jane Anson’s highlights: Latour, l’Evangile, Lafleur, l’Eglise Clinet, Pétrus, Mouton Rothschild, Lafite Rothschild, Pichon Lalande, Ducru Beaucaillou, Léoville Las Cases, Margaux, Palmer, Montrose, Cos d’Estournel, Pavie Macquin, Beauséjour Duffau Lagarosse, Batailley, Phélan Ségur, Pédésclaux, Gloria, Dame de Montrose, Saintayme

Read Jane Anson’s full report here (available only to subscribers)


James Suckling was one of the first to publish his report, having tasted jet-freighted samples in his bar in Hong Kong. He is as enthusiastic as ever, finding “outstanding quality, from simple Bordeaux to Cru Classé”. The wines, for him, are classical Bordeaux with “sleek tannins and pure fruit character” and that the vintage is strong across the board, not favouring a particular Bank or grape over the other. He compares it to 2018, 2016 and 2015 in style. They are, he says, “all just really good quality wines”.

James Suckling’s highlights: Cos d’Estournel, d’Issan, Malartic Lagravière, Pape Clément, Phélan-Ségur, Smith-Haut-Lafitte, Trottevieille, Domaine de Chevalier, Batailley, Calon-Ségur, Feytit-Clinet, Beau-Site, Guiraud, Laroque, Lascombes, Le Bosq, Lynch-Moussas, Pédesclaux

Read James Suckling’s full report here (notes and scores available to subscribers only)


Jancis Robinson has been vocal about En Primeur this year, feeling that “Now Is Not The Time” as well as being concerned about the fragility of samples couriered across the Channel.

As a result, she turned down the offer of any samples being sent over to her in the UK. In lieu of this, James Lawther MW – based in Bordeaux – has acted as their correspondent, tasting at the properties. He finds it “a warm, ripe vintage with deep colours, engaging fruit, good depth and plentiful but suave tannins”. He compares it to 2015 or 2018, but emphasises that the wines’ freshness sets the vintage apart. While alcohol levels are on the high side, he agrees with Neal Martin that they don’t stand out – nor do the plentiful tannins, that are “silky and smooth”.

He is another to emphasise the change in winemaking, with less extraction and less oak (lower levels of toast or new barrels) – which he feels supports the terroir expression found in the wines this year. He found that the quality of the Cabernet really stands out in 2019, with Pauillac and St Julien excelling, while Pomerol just outdoes St Emilion on the Right Bank, while he finds the whites “appetising… smooth and full but long and invigorating with citrus and floral aromatics”.

James Lawther MW’s highlights: Léoville Las Cases, Lafite, Palmer, Margaux, Mouton Rothschild, Lafleur, Figeac, Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, Vieux Château Certan, Montrose, Le Pin, Léoville Poyferré, Angélus, Pichon Lalande, Léoville Barton, Pétrus, Trotanoy, Cheval Blanc, Pichon Baron, Calon Ségur, Cos d’Estournel

Read James Lawther’s summary report here (available only to subscribers)

Browse our range of Bordeaux 2019 on, or read all our coverage of Bordeaux 2019 here

Category: Bordeaux Wine

The cocktail hour: Vermut & Tonic


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So you’re not in Seville, Barcelona or Valencia. But – with a sunny spot in the garden, a holiday outfit, and the right drink in hand – you can at least imagine that you are, while you book a long awaited weekend away. Swap your G&T for a rosé Vermouth and tonic, and savour that holiday feeling from home

Vermut & Tonic

50ml Vermut Rosé, Bodegas Lustau
150ml tonic

Build on the rocks. Garnish with a slice or wedge of pink grapefruit.

Category: Miscellaneous,Spirits

A taste of Tuscany: stuffed courgettes


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This week’s taste of elsewhere comes courtesy of food writer Ed Smith, the author of On the Side, The Borough Market Cookbook and Rocket & Squash. Cook up his simple stuffed courgettes to transport yourself to the rolling hills of Tuscany

You can find Tuscan sausages in all Italian delis and many places beyond them – stubby and plump sausages filled with coarse ground pink meat, plenty of fat, punchy seasonings (sometimes chilli, sometimes black pepper and garlic, often fennel seed), and no breadcrumbs. They’re always dense and firm yet also juicy, and superb with polenta or olive-oil-slicked new potatoes and seasonal greens. But that highly seasoned, intensely flavoured and fat-rich sausage meat also makes a quality mincemeat, and is a more than solid basis for a quality, milk- or cream-enriched ragù. That ragù could be stirred through a pasta shape like orecchiette; however, through summer and early autumn, I’m partial to a stuffed courgette – as Tuscans are too.

Best made with round courgettes (or “patty pans”), but medium-large long courgettes work fine too. Indeed, later on in the summer you could just fill one large marrow. It goes well with something like a Vernaccia di San Gimignano, an unoaked Chardonnay or perhaps a Sicilian Catarratto.

Tuscan sausage stuffed courgettes

Serves 4 as part of a light(ish) meal

  • 8 medium-sized round or long courgettes (c. 200-250g each)
  • 6 tablespoons (90ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • 1 small onion – finely diced
  • 3-4 Tuscan sausages (250g)
  • 1-2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 100g double cream
  • 25g freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200°C fan (gas mark 6). Cut a very fine slice from the base of each courgette so they sit flat, then cut off the top 2 to 3cm (this will become a lid). Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh from each courgette, leaving walls about 1 to 2cm thick. Arrange these in a roasting tin or other oven proof dish that holds them in one fairly snug layer.

Roughly chop the courgette flesh then cook this in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt and quite a bit of black pepper, stir from time to time and use your spoon or spatula to squidge the courgettes, until you end with soft paste with most of their moisture having cooked away.

Meanwhile, place another heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil plus the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Let that soften gently for 4 to 5 minutes. While that’s happening, use the point of a knife to slice down the front of each sausage. Peel away and discard the casings, then use the back of a fork to break the sausage meat apart into mince. Add this and the fennel seeds to the onions, increase the temperature a little and sauté until the meat is firm. Stir in the chopped courgette, cream and Parmesan, then remove from the hob. Taste, then add salt and pepper if required (but note the sausage meat is likely to have been fairly highly seasoned).

Spoon the ragù into the courgette shells, placing the lids on top, drizzling with the remaining oil. Pour into the dish enough just-boiled water from a kettle to come 1 to 2cm up around the courgettes. If you have a lid that fits, place this on top, or cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then baste the courgettes with juices from the pan and then return to the oven, without a lid this time, to bake for 20 to 30 minutes more – until the courgettes are browned and sinking a little, their filling both crusting and bubbling over.

Let the courgettes rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving – they’ll taste better when not piping hot. Serve two per person, adding a final glug of olive oil to each courgette, with a tomato salad and a bitter or peppery leaf salad nearby.

Ed Smith is the author of On the Side; a sourcebook of inspiring side dishes (Bloomsbury), The Borough Market Cookbook (Hodder & Stoughton), and He’s @rocketandsquash on Instagram and Twitter.

Category: Food & Wine