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.
Spending so much time in North America is forcing me to learn new words like Diaper, Vacation, and Soccer, in order to be understood. The upside is the opportunity to learn about new wines, often unavailable in the UK.
Take this Merlot from British Columbia for example. Following the path trodden by many South American wineries of recruiting a little friendly advice from the old world, this Osoyoos was made with consultation (and, no doubt, a financial interest) from the owners of Saint-Julian stalwart, Gruaud-Larose.
And it shows. To me it was indistinguishable from a Bordeaux, probably right bank. Fruity, deep and lovable and not at all chewy. I wonder if they’ll export it any time soon.
If not, you can copy me and buy it from SAQ in Tremblant Resort for CAN$44.50, which equates to about US$39, or £24. That sounds expensive but Canadian sales taxes are fierce and this price even includes a 3% “resort association levy”. NYC taxes are more reasonable. I never thought I’d say that about anywhere.
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?
The best recommendations for a wine do not come from journos, PR samples or special offers. For me, they come from genuine wine enthusiasts who trouble their pockets to retrieve a cherished bottle from their cellar to share with you. Either in person or in absentia.
This bottle was given to be at a board meeting by one of my colleagues who has travelled extensively around South America and hearing my mild enthusiasm for Chilean Carmenère, passed a Cuvée Alexandre into my dirty paws one rainy Tuesday morning in Newton le Willows.
This grape, widely planted in Chile but d’origine Bordeaux often reminds me of real wood fires on cold winter days. Rich and herby, yet smooth and oaky, this example is full on, but refined and very moreish, albeit bound to give me a headache in the morning.
I daren’t look up the price, because the quid pro quo is that I need to return the favour. But, knowing Chris, this is not a cheapy £5 bottle of wine. I think I’ll be reaching into my Eurocave for a decent Bordeaux or Argie blockbuster, maybe not quite stretching to a Catena Zapata or Cheval des Andes.
If you want to buy some, try your local independent.
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?
Beef friendly, delicious, easy drinking, and easy on the wallet. Not something you see every day on the carte des vins of a top end London Steakhouse. But I found Chateau (sic) Ste (sic) Michelle (sic) at Goodman‘s Mayfair branch. Served by the glass at one point, it disappeared and then they told me that had trouble sourcing enough to keep it on the list.
I am not really surprised. It must have been flying out of the Eurocave faster than a Batmobile powered by used rape seed oil.
Here’s the secret. I’ve found a plentiful supply and at a mad price of only around 10 quid a bottle (which, if I remember rightly, is less than Goodman used to charge for a glass). If you want to stock up, simply visit Bacchus Liquors. Not much use to Londoners I admit, but if, like me, you are stationed in South Beach for a while, a must-visit-venue. Ch. Ste Michelle is about $16 from this excellent and well stacked store at 1445 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Massive collection of worldwide wines right on the premise, and literally just round the corner from my temporary home.
Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre. Classic French grapes. And an oenological warning of an eye-watering punch in the greenback gonads, delivered by a fancy named winemaker, and quadrupled after the addition of a central London restaurant markup using the name of some international chef.
So, what chance value? Supermarkets, perhaps?
I’ve had warm experiences with Tesco and Asda and certain wines of theirs that seemed to open their legs way wider than their pecuniary groin muscles would permit. But Tesco and Asda are veritably upmarket compared to German imposters like Aldi. Surely no hopers?
Well, this one tastes tannic, rich, spicy and fruity like a Southern Rhone. Stewed apple and black currant. Tastes slightly green – I doubt it is full of stalks but you know what I mean. You can’t really hand harvest grapes and sell a wine for £5.99, albeit on a “summer special”. So if you want to drink Hermitage La Chapelle on your wedding anniversary, good luck to your wallet. If you want something cheap and cheerful for a Monday evening meal, Aldi is one of the growing number of UK supermarkets who can offer your bank manager redemption.
Drink cool. It gets a bit jammy once it’s above 20°C. But do drink it.
I really don’t see the need for super heavyweight wine bottles. Why create unnecessary and excess baggage when exporting cases around the world? I feel the same way about alcohol. What’s the point of more than 13% unless it really adds value to the flavour of a wine? Finally, over-elaborate marketing to increase the price. I don’t like that in any field. Please just be honest and stop using flowery self-indulgent language on the back of the bottle.
Although quite tasty, this wine breaks all three barriers in Spades, putting in doubt the authenticity. One of the beauties of the arrogant diffidence of the French is that they rarely, if ever, fall into these traps. So, I’m going to leave it alone. If you feel the need for waste, you can remit £29 to The Sunday Times Wine Club (Laithwaites) and they will send you a bottle.
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.
If you look at any wine list with a sweet section, you have a better than evens chance of seeing Beaumes de Venise. But, it is rare to see reds from this Rhone village, especially in UK and US restaurants.
I’ve been ordering a Jaboulet BdV en primeur for years. At about £10 a bottle it stinks of value to high heaven. A fresh young juicy red that goes great with spicy pork or lamb dishes and is generally best drunk within a year or two of receipt.
With ‘spooky coincidence’ written on the packing receipt, a few days before my annual Jaboulet instalment arrived from the 2010 vintage, a sample of another marque arrived. I like taste tests.
Domaine la Brune is rich, deep and devious and contains more Scary Spice than a Portuguese Douro. Went well with Lincolnshire sausages and mash. The Jaboulet is lighter, brighter faced and more fruity, in an Emma Bunting sort of way. Both wines have a creaminess often experienced by men viewing the Spice Girls in their prime…
Take your pick, or explore other BdV reds. Maybe you will find Geri or Victoria.
I paid The Wine Society £11.28 per bottle (en primeur) for the Jaboulet. The Domaine de la Brune is available from Christopher Keiller at £117.50 per case (equiv. £9.79 per bottle).