Archive for June, 2007

Pouilly Fumé Les Cris for me

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I have been on a bit of a mission to persuade anyone who will listen to try French Sauvignon Blanc and in particular the Loire appellations of Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre.

In the 1990’s the Loire wines lost focus and, some say, attention to detail.  The rise of the New Zealand SB with its bright zingy flavours stole the limelight.  I am still a big fan of Cloudy Bay and many of its Kiwi imitators.  However, the French have fought back admirably in my opinion and the price difference (at least for us Brits) is no longer an issue.

Pouilly Fumé Les Cris, and a puzzle book….for some reason.

This 2005 Pouilly Fumé (pwee foo-may) from Domaine Cailbourdin at less than a tenner is a good example of why the French should be given a second chance.

On pouring is was pale straw coloured, like one’s urine should be (but mine never is).  At 12.5% it is probably the average strength of my urine though.  It smelt peachy like a bellini (the wine I mean) but tasted of gooseberries.  For me it had the zinginess of Cloudy Bay but with less fruit and somehow more subtlety.

I’ll be drinking more of this one over the summer.

Quanto Costa Pesto?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

(With apologies to anyone who speaks proper Italian out there….)

I was mooching around Deansgate in Manchester looking for a quick bite on my own.  I decided to try Pesto (website under construction at the time of writing).  As best I can make out, this is an Italian take on tapas.  Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought!

Oh my darling tell me when…..Pesto, pesto, pesto, pesto?


Santa Clause comes early…in the evening

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Me and my Chairman finished a meeting in the City and decided to go for a quick beer………which turned into erm, two bottles of wine.

The reason being that we stumbled upon Clause on Lovat Lane off Eastcheap EC3.

This bar must think it is Christmas every day.  Between 5pm and 7pm they have a happy happy happy hour where all wines (except house) are half price!  So we “invested” in an Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc, Chile 2005 at £17.50 (or rather £8.75).  It would have been rude not to have ordered some nibbles to go with it, so we didn’t.

Then after a second bottle we ordered the bill and, including service, it was less than 20 quid – what in London?  In the City?  At a posh bar?  “Yaw ‘avin a larf” my chirpy cab driver said to me on the way back to Kings Cross.

Oh the wine?  Er yes, it was full of rich fruits and –  oh who cares – it was very very very drinkable and at that price I suggest you get down to Clause the very next time that the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the, well er, 17 to be precise . . . . .

Clause.  1 Lovat Lane, off Eastcheap, London EC3R 8DT.  +44 (0) 207 283 6191.

Fifteen Degrees East of Eden

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Somewhere roughly east of the Eden Project in Cornwall you may stumble across Newquay and Watergate Bay.  Here you will find another highly commendable charity establishment.  Fifteen Cornwall is Jamie Oliver’s project to give young (and often disadvantaged) young people the opportunity to make something of their lives, by learning how to cook very very expensive food.

As it was the first anniversary of the opening of Fifteen Cornwall and this marked the graduation of the first batch of trainees we thought it would be rude to turn down the opportunity to try the highly popular place.  OK then it wasn’t exactly a personal invite from Jamie but it was nice to be there.

Birthday Tasting Menu.


Surf Chic or Surf Shack?

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

A few days in Newquay, Cornwall had me looking and talking like a surfer dude in no time.  Fistral Beach is the centre of all (cool) surfing activity in England., So seeing as we were staying at the Headland Hotel next door, why not skip down to the beach and Fistral Blu, a trendy eatery, we thought.

It claims to be fine dining but falls a bit short of that.  In fact I was left unsure as to what exactly it was trying to achieve.  Do they want surfers fresh from the beach, or the rich and famous of Newquay to drive down to eat?

Nice bar, do you serve surfers?


Château Batailley 2004

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

I’ve just received my first case of 2004 en primeur and although arguably a bit early to drink, I always like to have a taste of any wine I receive.

Let the battle commence - Ch. Batailley and a microwave…for some reason

I’m not sure how much this wine cost me in the end, since I lost my records.  The only offering I could find online was in magnums from Berry Bros and Rudd at an equivalent to £20.75 per bottle.

I got strawberries dipped in dark chocolate and champagne sauce. It opened up after while to reveal notes of blackcurrant and grapefruit. At 13%, a powerful wine but not over-alcoholic.

Verdict – very nice wine but needs longer in the bottle.  The Winediva also seems to like 2004 Batailley although warns of patchy quality around Bordeaux from that vintage.

The first Batailley I tried was from the 1996 vintage and I remember thinking what good value it was for the quality of the wine.  This one again is good value.  2004 may not be the best year ever in Bordeaux especially when compared to the remarkable, 2000, 2003 and 2005 vintages that ambushed it.  But I like it and very much look forward to trying my next bottle…in a year or so.

Eden Project

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

My visit to the Eden Project in St Austell, Cornwall was so inspirational I had to find a wine link so I could write about it in my Confessions.

Fortunately there were lots of reasons including this fabulous set of sculptures by Tim Shaw.

Rites of Dionysus - the power of alcohol!


Sven Château Tassin Eriksson

Monday, June 18th, 2007

So I hear that Sven is in the running for my beleaguered team Manchester City.  As if crisis following crisis following crisis is not enough, we are trying to tempt the heel enhanced weather girl lover to manage our sorry club.

It’s not that I dislike Eriksson for footballing reasons, it’s just that the reasons he would want to join would only be financial.  He is a clever man and despite all the moanings, he was one of the most successful England managers and that followed a highly successful club career.


Jack the Ripper’s Knickers

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Deep in Jack the Ripper territory just behind Bishopsgate Police Station lies a dark secret.  Whitechapel is legendary for the murders committed by one of the first serial killers to gain notoriety.  Nowadays an altogether different cereal is found in the back alleys, and the only murder is evidenced by an occasional squealing lobster.

The back alley known as Widegate Street is where I found Sri Thong, a Thai restaurant with a name that brings back haunting memories of that famous and heinous picture of Peter Stringfellow on the beach.


Ian Simpson’s Pitch and Putt Pad

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Just popped out to the local…..sort of.

Monday night is not the best night out ever in Manchester.  Even Cloud 23 is half shut and cordoned off.  Worse still, the bit cordoned off is the bit where you can do a jig and a reel on a glass “porthole” looking straight down 23 floors to Deansgate…if you dare (and I did, but only after a cocktail).