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.
Like many British winos, I’ve got a blind spot. And what is worse, based on 1990s cheap Pinotages, almost a distrust of South African red wines. This wine proves me right, and also proves me wrong. A bit like sucking a raspberry teabag off a hot brick, it’s fruity, tannic, earthy and juicy like a southern Rhone. However, drink on and by the third glass there is a hint of rubber in a condom sort of way. It’s is the sort of unusual flavour that many people like – I sometimes taste it in Monastrell/Mourvèdre for example.
In fact not a Pinotage, but a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah, this wine is not for me, sorry, but I can appreciate the quality and attention and love decanted into the bottle, so I’d encourage you to give it a go and form your own opinion. Stocked by the Wine Society and Majestic at around 12 British Pounds, it is not a risky experiment.
Is 2004 Bordeaux ready to drink yet? In 2010, Max Wine Gallery right in the centre of the home of wine, was serving 2004 first growths to those (including me) prepared to pay €15 for a tiny 25ml taster sample. Even back then it tasted just great.
2004 was not the most notable of years, hijacked as it was after the millennial 2000 and just before the vintage of a lifetime, 2005. At least that kept the critics quiet until the vintage of an aeon, 2009, ripped up the price books and had mouths foaming like Englishmen (and possibly Chinamen) out in the midday sun.
With the current anti-alcohol tax regime, is it still possible to sell a bottle of wine at £5? Asda thinks so. They pointed me at a handful of recent Extra Special selections in their range in the £5-6 price bracket. Looking for something to go with fresh Yorkshire Spring lamb chops, I pulled out these two from the sample box.
A 2010 Bordeaux at £5? An Aussie Cabernet at £5.95? Surely a price-gun error, or maybe a temporary discount? Asda assures me that this is the permanent price. Only one obvious conclusion then – it must be ropey wine.
Wine one is Roc-Montalon Bordeaux Supérieur 2010. Smells a bit chemically and the taste lacks complexity. There is evidence of leaves and a lack of fruit but still somehow it is not unpleasant. At least the price doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Wine two is an Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon called “Langhorne Creek” from 2011. This smells of baked beans (well, it is a supermarket wine) and tastes just a little sharp, but nonetheless fruity and juicy, if just a tad Haribo.
But here’s the thing. It’s really important to serve wine properly and if you put either of these into a decent (large bowl) glass, and if you serve at the right temperature (put in the fridge for about 30 mins before serving), they both taste so much better. Good gluggable party wines that you could easily serve to friends without any embarrassment.
For the lamb chops, and probably in other circumstances, the extra 98 pence to buy the Langhorne Creek is worth the stretch.
In these hard economic times, it is good to have somewhere to go to find wines that are drinkable and cheap. And both of these bottles fit the bill. A demonstration, I guess, of Walmart buying power.
When you’ve been serving steaks since 1887, you’ve probably learned a thing or two. The legend of Peter Luger in Brooklyn hangs over most steakhouses in the world like a godlike presence. Observe, salivate, copy, hope.
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.
The wines of Château Musar are often thought of as a tad barking mad. At #EWBC 2008 in La Rioja, delegates were presented with a blind tasting. Not one person out of 50 odd wine buffs got even close to identifying this Lebanese woofer. So is it really so weird?
I bagged a bottle of the second wine, “Hochar” 2003 from the Wine Society at a reasonable £10.50.
It tastes like a cross between a Bordeaux and a Burgundy. Very subtle and fine tannins, some barnyard, and loads of fruit. A Pinot Noir on speed? The Bordeaux is represented by cherries and cedar wood.
Trouble is, it is not even close to barking mad. Actually it is quite classic French. But, it is priced at French levels, and that makes it a direct competitor.
If I am wrong, I have a couple of bottles of the first wine in my cellar which I can’t wait to try. If I am right then maybe I shouldn’t drink it at all, instead focus on finding the right moment to sell at enormous mark-up to a Chinese speculator, who will probably end up enjoying it with Coke when the fine wine market finally implodes.
Where better to try a Bordeaux Grand Cru than in its home town? Problem is pecuniary. Although restaurants around Bordeaux ask reasonable mark-ups, this still involves voluntary surgery. To keep my arms and legs intact, my cunning plan was to buy the wine from a local shop and take it to the restaurant which, for convenience, was Le Savoie, bang in the centre of Margaux.
A revisit to this wine that I last enjoyed (immensely) a couple of years ago. I am almost sorry that I have just glugged my last bottle of Château Sociando-Mallet 2001. On this form I really ought to order some more, but it has gone up in price rather a lot since I purchased. Up to £40 per bottle right now. Ooof – one in the nuts for my wine budget. Actually, I was one of those footballing kids who used to duck when planted in the wall. I also made my own a useful, if cowardly, habit of turning around as the kick was taken, to protect my valuables at the expense of seeing the ball. Oh well, it’s only a goal isn’t it? On reflection, I am surprised I never made it into the England squad, when you look at the current crop.