In a mid budget hotel in central Manchester, the CEO of a small software company took the stage to address his staff. It was the day after his 50th birthday, business was going well, but a plot had been hatched. There were no traitors at the gate on this occasion. We are not Nabisco. Merely the pleasant surprise of a presentation of a birthday gift, a certain, and very generous, bottle of wine.
New World Pinot Noir is never going to age like a Burgundy. If this bottle is anything to judge by, some are more likely to age like a Médoc. Witness the tawny Cabernet glow, the rich vanilla flavours, and the dark fruits from a wine that sounds more like a middle distance runner’s dog.
No evidence of any barnyard or chicken run. Nor anything thin. But if you want a full flavoured fruity Pinot that sits between Burgundy and New Zealand (depending on how you circumnavigate the globe), nip down to Epicure on Alton Road, South Beach and they will be delighted to lighten your wallet to the tune of five $10 bills. There must be somewhere cheaper to buy it – can you help?
I’ve written many times of my quest to find the perfect wine to accompany beans on toast. But, what about that other saccharine Heinz staple, Tomato Soup?
Everybody tells me that Italian reds are powerful, tannic and rich – like sucking a teabag that has been left in the pot overnight. So that won’t work then, will it?
Well, yes actually. This wine is soft like a fresh raspberry teabag (should you wish to to commit brewed beverage bastardisation) with just a smoky hint of genuine tea (Earl Grey), and there is a slight sweetness that really brings out the flavour of the kids’ teatime favourite.
And as I write, England qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals! Great goal by Gerrard. Let’s hope we don’t face Italy first up in the competition. Like their wines, they are tough early on, and soften up over time.
Mine cost me £32 from the Sunday Times Wine Club and the 2007 is STILL AVAILABLE. But, not cheap, so maybe better to buy the 2008 and save it to drink when England win in Brazil?
Hosting a dinner party? Got a few sample bottles that you’ve been meaning to taste for ages? Want to follow up an amateurish and inconclusive post on Grand Cru Chablis? A perfect storm for a blind tasting. The brief is simple: take a Chablis Villages, a Premier Cru, and a Grand Cru and see if there is a meaningful, that is to say pecuniarily justified, difference. All wines were from the 2010 vintage.
The bottles, elegantly disguised in blue carrier bags whose former contents were the meat for tonight’s main course, looked like three prisoners in front of a firing squad. As the wino of the party, to be blunt, I could feel the rifles aiming in my direction. I was papping myself. Here are my notes in the order we tasted.
Wine 1: fruity but full bodied,very smooth and tastes well oaked. Not so much flinty steely pebbles as rich plummy apricot and honey. I’m guessing this is the GC
Wine 2: bit steelier but lovely acidity, not oaky. Grassy more than fruity and a little bit of afterburn in the throat. This is probably the Villages.
Wine 3: appley, some flint, quite rounded – I think this is the PC.
Wine 1 in the centre of the podium turned out to be Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, a deserved winner but at a price. Imported by Thorman Hunt & Co the RRP is £33.80.
Wine 2, on the right, is Vincent Dampt Chablis and a bronze medal winner which might explain the difficulty in differentiating it from the Premier Cru. Corney & Barrow do this at £13.95.
Wine 3 is the Premier Cru, this one a Christophe & Fils, Fourchaume that is imported by A & B Vintners and the RRP is £14.58.
The main conclusion to be drawn is that a blind tasting livens up a dinner party and focuses people’s attention on the wine. It’s a lot of fun. The consensus was that Grand Cru Chablis clearly stood out and is worth the extra for special occasions. Telling the difference between the Villages and the PC was very difficult and the scores were split, which is reflected in the close price range, to be fair.
So, that may be another amateurish analysis, but at least this time, it’s conclusive.
The serving temperature of wine is so important to its enjoyment that 250 members joined a Facebook group dedicated to the subject. As the owner of said page, I appoint myself Chief Evangelist and poster boy for raising awareness of the Wine at Right Temperature (WART) campaign. Part of my duties include throwing brickbats at restaurants who serve red wine from the top of the Pizza Oven and white wine from the liquid nitrogen cask. A happier task is to publicise places where thought and care is put into wine service. For example, I recently dined at 44 The Calls in Leeds where they were delighted (possibly even relieved) that I asked for my Catena Alta at cellar temperature. Not as delighted as I was to drink it.
Another good Yorkshire experience occurred last Sunday at The Three Acres in Shelley. I ordered a bottle of Jaboulet-Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle, 2001, a legend of a wine – rich and fruity flavours of nutmeg, cinnamon, apple and hints of Indian and Chinese spices – intoxicating but never overpowering, it is a wine that makes you go oooh – but I digress. This is supposed to be about temperature. Oh, I should add that the price was £107.95, which maybe sounds a lot, but compared to an average retail price in the UK of about £75, is amongst the most reasonable of restaurant markups (another of my bugbears) I have ever seen. Compared to central London restaurants, where 200% and upwards is added, it is great to see wine prices inflated by less than 50% out here in the provinces.
If you are ever in Manchester and fancy a decent glass of wine, Hanging Ditch is my recommendation. The only negative is that, even in this alco-city, where poor restaurants barely survive next to pubs, bars, lounges and drinking dens, Hanging Ditch has the temerity to close at 8pm, even on big nights. On the plus side, they know their wines and you can enjoy a wee glass in their tiny premises largely undisturbed whilst one of the guys advises you how to spend your hard-earned wedge on Burgundies, Albariños and Godellos. At least, that is what I was persuaded to walk out with on a recent visit that included a whopping £40 for this Morey-St-Denis.
The oldest of the batch I bought from the Wine Society was a 1995, advised to be drunk by 2011. Oops. It’s 2012. Better get the corkscrew! But, at £80 a bottle, will it be charming siren or a case of more chafing dissonance?
I found this wine totally awesome. Stewed strawberries with a touch of balsamic and that classy composty nature. Burgundy wine is so frustrating because so many bottles disappoint, but when it excels – WOOHOO! It’s like you won the lottery on the same day as Sharon Stone turned up on your doorstep in that little white dress.
Although this is a fine wine, it matches simple food. Bangers and mash (no gravy) is a highly recommended pairing.
It’s deep, rich, spicy, and makes the inside of your mouth feel like a souk. What’s not to like about Tempier Cabassaou?
Single varietal wines can be a bit like pedigree dogs. Beautiful, but temperamental. Domaine Tempier has whipped the Mourvèdre grape into shape and got it behaving like a lovable mongrel. Maybe that’s why it has a reputation for being a tad barking mad…
Personally, I love all the Tempiers I have tried. Hardly foaming at the mouth but, be warned, they are not cheap. This one came from the Wine Society for a whopping £39.
Many people think they improve as they get (much) older. I am afraid I couldn’t risk dying before I tried this bottle. I’m glad I managed to squeeze it through my liver before I bought the farm.
My (software) day job is pretty intense right now. I can’t afford to spend hours researching wine. Yet, somehow, I still find time to drink it (early evenings only, you understand, and in sensible measures).
So, you can find all about this Franco-Argie mix just by Googling it, or by visiting Jamie Goode’s excellent Wine Anorak.
If you want a handful of words about whether to invest your hard earned readies (at >£50 per bottle, you may well want to ponder for a moment before you ring Barclays for a banker’s draft), read on.