Fortnum and Mason is my secret preferred meeting place in London because its 1707 basement wine bar is discreet, well located, and staffed by knowledgeable people who serve wine in the correct Riedel glasses.
Archive for July, 2008
This week I am off to see a cricket match (US readers start snoring now). However this bottle looks more like a baseball bat (RoW readers look on in awe and dismay).
This late harvest (November 2007) from Gavi certainly has a striking bottle. What about the wine though?
It is the colour of healthy pee and has a sort of pungent sweetness, but I expected it to be sweeter. In fact it had good acidity and the overall balance of Michael Vaughan combined with the aggression and flair of Kevin Pietersen. The taste is of Tropicana grapefruit juice and pear juice with some lemon zest and a bit of sherbet dip. Very refreshing as an aperitif but as a food match it went superbly well with pitta bread and hummus.
I picked it up at Majestic for £8.69
On a weekend when Obama is charming Europe and Gordon Brown is being pummelled on the ropes of a certain Glasgow by-election, my thoughts have turned to politics.
Most people’s political maturity curve starts as a radical teenager, transcends into a left wing twentysomething and then slowly but surely keeps bending to the right. Money and the confidence of age surely plays a part. So why do I seem to be moving in the opposite direction?
My world tour of Pinot Noirs was starting to look a bit like the baseball world series in reverse. In other words I had covered almost every territory except the US. I even likened Pinot Noir to a French actress (Brigitte Bardot – sexy, flirtatious, but unreliable, and a little bonkers) and insulted American actress, Barbra Streisand who I compared to a Chenin Blanc hmmmm….
As I stand here touching my toes, humbly awaiting transatlantic cyber-flagellation, I offer, in my defence, a review of a PN from about the most famous of US sources – Oregon.
Peter May suggested that I get off my Pinot Noir high horse and start thinking seriously about Chenin Blanc. But this is like asking me to trade in Brigitte Bardot for Barbra Streisand. Whilst the latter is an interesting multi-faceted personality, a highly talented actress, and capable of singing almost any song, you just wouldn’t would you?
Meanwhile the Bardot of grapes is unreliable, sulky, difficult to master, but if you woke up next to her you would reach for your mobile and ring in sick (well in her prime, anyway, which sort of proves my point).
But perhaps I am missing Peter’s point. The intellectual challenge of giving a winemaker a blank canvas like Chenin Blanc could create a satisfying long term relationship, rather than a one night stand with some Pinot Noir or other, that leaves one feeling, frankly, used. Sex delivers the shortest high of all drugs, love perhaps the longest.
On the way home from Banús, and on Sundays many restos are shut. Our contorted journey this time, for some reason, comprised a bus to Marbella, a taxi to Fuengirola and a train to Malaga airport. Planes trains and automobiles! Good job we had the best part of a day to waste.
Apart from the travelling, our first waste of time was stopping at La Tasca de los Niños. The only excitement drawn from that place resulted from a couple of Spanish piss-heads already warming up for the European Cup Final (Spain were to deservedly beat Germany 1-0).
Fortunately tapas are served on small plates, so after the first two disappointments, we decamped to Cervecería Gambrinus right next door to the rail station.
I visited Spain for a weekend recently, and tried a few wines with various blends of Viura, Malvasia and Verdejo. Not many left an impression, to be honest. I have a friend who doesn’t drink Spanish wine unless from Rioja. I think that is a bit binary. For example there are some great Albariños from Galicia, and Ribero del Duero is hardly shy in getting their punters to part with large sums of wonga for their best wines… But I take his point that Rioja is perhaps more consistent, whereas other areas require discretionary selection.
This bottle, like Don Quixote, came from La Mancha, unless I’m a daydreamer. I found it in the “Spain and Portugal” section of my wine rack and it was part of a Sunday Times Wine Club (Laithwaites) “Crisp refreshing whites” case (about £60 the dozen).
I am not sure what to conclude. At the price, it is OK. As a party wine it would go down a treat if you chilled it to 3°C or below and served it to Sancho Panzas or ASBOs. As a serious wine compared to any other Sauvignon or so called “crisp dry white”, I found it a little too citric and perhaps best suited to the tartest of lemon dresed shellfish, rather than as an aperitif. However, if you are a donkey houghty type, wake up and smell the gooseberry. You never know, you might like it!
At the time of writing it is still available from Laithwaites at £5.67, and as you can probably tell, I have never read any Cervantes.
The European Wine Bloggers Conference is fast approaching and I am looking forward to meeting up with a wide range of nationalities with one common aim, to drink Rioja dry discuss maturely the status and future of wine blogging in Europe. But my travel plans are a nightmare and I’ve really messed up.
The conference is in Logroño, which is a bloody good reason to visit in its own right, being at the heart of La Rioja. But my flight is to Bilbao, home of the world famous Guggenheim Museum, and I booked the wrong flight back, leaving me zero time to visit. And you know how difficult/expensive it is to change a flight with QuEasyjet.
Furthermore, my flight out is from Stansted at 7:15am which means I have to leave home at 3am to get to the airport – at least the roads will be quiet!
I sense that the travel travails will be well worth the effort for what looks like a great event.
I was going to talk about this Romanian Pinot Grigio “from Transylvania”, but like a lot of PG it is rather ordinary. For the record it tasted a bit of grilled tomato with herbs. La Cittadella came from the Sunday Times Wine Club in a “Crisp Refreshing Whites” mixed case for about £60. I suppose I shouldn’t have opened a bottle of Cloudy Bay next, which did kind of eclipse this poor Dracula juice.
Meanwhile a big fangs to Rob, Gabriella and Ryan for the hard work organising the conference and I look forward to seeing everyone there.
There is no hiding place for the rich these days. All the summer High Society events are being gatecrashed by chavs. Royal Ascot this year even tried to enforce a new dress code that ladies must (amongst other things) wear knickers, and not on display.
We are supposed to be heading fast into the biggest recession since the 1920’s and yet I see no evidence of spending slowing. As every generation passes, it becomes more affordable to travel to, and participate in, the rich playgrounds of Europe. You don’t need a yacht to blend in at Puerto Banús, but if you haven’t got one, it helps if you have several tattoos and can chunder at top volume into the early hours, or simply pass out, drunk, on the front of some expensive clothes shop at 4am.
The world famous prostitutes of Puerto Banús draw similar class lines, with prices pitched accordingly, although at both price points there seems to be a massive over-supply problem that is being addressed by aggressive marketing tactics. A Brazilian, and by this I mean a woman from Brazil, approached me, “You is beautiful” she whispered in my ear. You are beautiful I corrected. “Oh thank you!” No, not at all what I meant, sorry, goodbye…
“Hey Al, cut to the chase!” Uhm OK.
Catena has the usual smell I associate with Malbec – rich bitter chocolate and dark cherries. Taste similar, possibly a touch of tomato ketchup too. A super wave of contrasting and complementary flavours some spicy, some sweet – not sure how much value this complexity adds. At 13.5% very munchable, though, and I enjoyed it a lot. Quite expensive but a great, if opulent, partner to beans on toast.