Catena Alta Malbec 2005

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

My 1986 Hand of God driven campaign to avoid everything from the land of Peron ended for two reasons.  Firstly, I finally forgave Maradona.  Lurching from national crisis to personal crisis, he cuts a sorry figure on the world football stage these days.  Secondly, Argentina produces some of my favourite wines and, at my age, there is little point in cutting ones stem off to spite ones Riedel Vinum.

This Malbec from Catena Alta is a prime example.  It is quite expensive, although nowhere near the 37M euros that Maradona owes the Italian tax authorities.  Is it worth it?

Catena Alta 2005 Malbec


Hawksmoor fails to wow…

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I realise I am risking treading on revered toes.  Almost every food blogger within Patriot Missile range of London thinks that Hawsksmoor is legend.  Esteemed mainstream critics from Jay Rayner to Giles Coren have extolled its fleshy virtues.  I was recommended, no, TOLD to go there by cheese lover, Ramsay denier and beefy beefcake Chris Pople.

In short I expected great things.  But whenever you set high expectations, it is inevitable that not everything lives up to the dream.  And a few things fell short for me.


Tribeca Grill, NYC “you talkin to ME?”

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Tribeca - full of meat packers, not fudge packers

With superstars like Robert de Niro sponsoring Tribeca as an upcoming area (and selflessly trousering a good portion of the profits of Tribeca Grill), despite the proliferation of convenient subway stops, there was only one way to arrive.  I asked our Taxi Driver why he was tanking down these Mean Streets like a Raging Bull.  He said that given the Heat, and whilst he was not the King of Comedy, he was a Goodfella and, put simply, The Mission was to Meet the Parents, and not least, The Godfather (Part II) before the Midnight Run.  Before I had time to Analyze This, it was Showtime – the waitresses were Flawless and it was time to Meet the Fockers.


Super sale at Sunday Times – but hurry

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I am so excited I could eat a bowl of soup.  And if you want to be as excited as me you have until 11am tomorrow (1 December).  Oh, and you need to be a member of the Sunday Times Wine Club.  Oh, and you need to have a wine budget of at least £100.  I can’t see the same offer on the Laithwaites main site so maybe they will repeat this down the way.

The deal is that if you spend £100 you get 10% off.  Not that special, but if you can find £150 the discount ups to 15%, and if you are in the fortunate position of having £200 or more leaking from your trousers, 20% is your reward!

I’ve just placed an order for 6 bottles of Cheval des Andes 2005, an Argentinean stunner made in a Bordeaux style but with “robust” spinal chord of Malbec.  A well regarded wine, which is more than can be said for the abysmal website.

With a 20% discount, even including delivery charges I have just paid £37 per bottle.  Compare this to the normal STWC/Laithwaites prices of £45, the Majestic price of £50, and the rip-off Gaucho Wine Boutique price of £64.65, I think that is a bargain.

By the way, if you dine at Gaucho Grills, expect to see this wine on the list at £147.95 per bottle – oucho!

Fabre Montmayou Malbec 2007

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I assured some French friends who visited recently, that ignorant southerners who claimed that it rained in Manchester 24 hours a day were plain wrong.  In my experience the average precipitation is a considerably more modest 23.  I am looking forwards to tomorrow between 8 and 9am when we are promised a refreshing spot of light cloud.

Rain again...and some Fabre Montmayou Malbec for some reason


Gaucho Grill wine list leaves bad taste in mouth

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Tonight I am drinking Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec 2006.  A very nice wine and worth every penny of the £8.50 I paid Costco for it.

This is one of the staples of the Gaucho Grill wine list, but when average wine markups in the UK are between 100 and 200% (i.e. double to three times the wholesale price) how come Gaucho thinks it can charge £37.50, a 341% uplift, and that is against the RETAIL price.  Is this a new British and Commonwealth record?

On the terrace (or balcony) - Malbec


Château Martinat 2005 Côtes de Bourg

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

I’ve said in the past that if a rising tide floats all boats, then in good years like 2005, it must be worth rowing across to Analogy Island in one of the lesser bateaux of the Bordelais flotilla.

So I popped a few quid in the post to the Wine Society for a case of Côtes de Bordeaux 2005 and they sent me, amongst other bottles, some Château Martinat Côtes de Bourg.

Martin at the Chat owwww

It justified my argument.  There is some real shite sent down La Gironde in the name of fine claret but I think the enormous majority of wines are born of genuine fathers (and mothers….) who really care.

This is certainly the case with Martinat.  Whilst I do not know the winemaker (Stéphane Donze, since you ask), you only have to sip the wine to taste the parental devotion.

This kid is spicy, fruity, intelligent and rich – almost destined to grow up to be Stephen Fry’s replacement on QI.  The taste is peppery, plummy and with firmish tannins I found it a nice match for spicy pizza.

Mine was £9.95 from the Wine Society but unsurprisingly now sold out.  Shame because it is one of the best ten quid bottles I’ve tasted in a long while.

Blackhouse Grill, Leeds

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Meet a Yorkshireman and the word “baaaaaaaaaaaaa” springs to mind.  How ironic then, that this land of sheep, where I have spent a large portion of my life, is seeing a proliferation of steak houses making a bovine takeover bid.

But here, sheep have other uses, mostly exercised at night and often, it is said, at the edge of a cliff so they push back harder.  Such nocturnal activity demands that they remain alive.  Perhaps this explains the fondness for eating beef, with or without Yorkshire pudding.

When it comes to dining, Leeds residents like to maintain their stature.  Quantity is, therefore, the primary measure of a good meal.  And there’s nowt wrong with that, provided that the quality is as good as the portions are big.  And I prefer that they contain meat and not just carbo-fillers such as the eponymous local batter delicacy.

Blackhouse Grills is a juggernaut chain expanding rapidly, with six restaurants already spanning the country from Glasgow to London, but with the majority in the north of England.  I spotted one in Leeds.

Rugged and substantial - Blackhouse Grills


River Plate Steakhouse, Leeds

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

As taste sensations go, there is little to beat a hunk of well seasoned Argentinian beef, chargrilled and accompanied by a glass of decent Malbec.  Chewing on the salty, aged and bloody meat causes a tingling in your gums as if a bovine mouthwash.   This then undergoes some kind of chemical reaction with the deep, moody, spicy wine that leaves you digesting the meal for a whole week.  Sharp pangs – taste reminders – keep haunting you like salivating ghosts of taste past that make you press your teeth together in muscle memory.

River Plate - not exactly a stadium!

As Argentinian steakhouses go, The Gaucho Grill takes the biscuit.  Not only for great steaks with superb ghost potential, but also for awesome (by which I mean sky high) wine prices.  Markups of over 300% are commonplace.  That is four times the retail price and presumably they pay the importer much less!  Is there a venue which matches the steak quality and authenticity, but where the only fleecing is associated with an occasional lamb chop?

In Leeds, a place I dine all too rarely these days, River Plate has appeared on the site once known as the Calls Grill.  The menu looked pretty similar to Gaucho but, to be frank, the wine list looked cheap!


Virgin wine sale climaxes too early

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I was planning to tell you about another stonking January wine offer.

You might recall my review of Landelia 2005 Malbec last March where I was a Virgin’s thong away from apologising for visible trouser stains.  I love the smooth chocolate and cherry flavours that slip from a glass of Malbec like a soulful line to the ladies from Theophilus T Wildebeest.

But Lenny Henry’s parody of Barry White probably lasts all night, or at any rate, longer than the Virgin Wines New Year sale.

I picked up six bottles of Landelia Malbec for £40.74, or £6.79 per bottle only a couple of weeks ago.

If you want some now, you have missed the boat.  The price is back to its original £8.49.  But even at this level, you would be naiive not to tuck a couple of bottles away, if only as an ingested alternative to Stud Delay.