Archive for August, 2007

Alta Vista – search ends here

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Anyone remember the “old” search engines before Google took over the world?  Open Text, Infoseek, Go, Webcrawler, Lycos, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, Excite, Magellan, Alta Vista?  Well it seems that many of them live on!  One in particular seems to have inhabited the properties of a wine!  Alta Vista Grande Reserve 2004 Malbec “Terroir Selection” sounded more interesting than it was, though.  At > £10 per bottle, I would stick to the Susana Balbo for a pound or two more.

Can you spot the imposters?

Usual Malbec flavours abound with bitter black cherries, vanilla, and spice (ginger?), dark chocolate and blackcurrant in this case.  A lot more complex and interesting than many Malbecs I have tasted but quite a bitter finish which put me off a bit.

Better with food than on its own, and it improved once opened a while.  I would give it a try with mature steak.  In the UK you can find it at the Wine Society.

Lazy day trip to Marbella

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

Taking a bus from Banús, Paul managed to work out that we needed to get off after 11 stops.  “This looks very like the centre of Marbella!” I shouted as we passed the 5th bus stop.  Paul made us stay on board and was awarded the title of “knob of the holiday” when we finally alighted in the slums, some 2.5 kms past the centre.

On reflection though, I always say if you want to experience the true culture of a place, go into the back streets where the locals live.  We found Bar Parquesol on the Avenida Navel Una first – very “local”.  The owner of the tabac/newsagent across the street was cheerily drinking his profits at the bar.  Overheard voices were unsurprisingly Spanish and I imagined the word mañana being the most common in use.  We had a couple of beers then decided to move on to the more touristy part of the port.

Back street Marbella - are we safe here?


Château Duhart-Milon 1998

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that the latest season of CSI Miami is getting totally preposterous?  David Caruso as Lieutenant Horatio Caine was, after all, one of the coolest police officers on TV.  But the other night, with less than four minutes until a bomb destroyed a car in his compound, he calmly sat in it, then drove it down a 40 mile freeway, across two bridges, through a set of traffic lights, past numerous residences and deposited it on a beach (thankfully free of sunbathers) and coolly walked away from the car as it exploded in the background.  Puh-lease!  I’m going to stick to the vintage episodes when, for me, Caine was the perfect successor to the dysfunctional Las Vegas based Grissom, who himself was getting a bit preposterous.

Whilst on the topic of vintages, I found occasion to open a bottle I’ve been keeping for a few years.

Ch. Duhart-Milon and a bowl of salted peanuts…for some reason.


The cheesy barber of Barbaresco

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

I wanted Bresse Bleu but I just can’t find it in the UK, so I settled for second best, Cambozola, which is a German Cheese available at any supermarket.

For me, eating a German Blue “Brie” is just plain wrong.  It must be like eating a Dr Oetkers Pizza (you really are having a laugh – An Italian product, made in Germany and sold in England – ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha).  I’ve never tried it but surely nobody buys that marketing line?  Have you seen the TV ad?  A loving couple on a first date sat on a suspension bridge in the open air at a fully set table, eating a pizza made in Germany, approximately 1.3 miles from the nearest oven.  I haven’t laughed so much since I found – waging the war against brevity.

But sometimes we can’t always get what we want, so we have to settle for second best.  In my case I can’t afford a decent Barolo so I sampled a bottle of Langhe Nebbiolo de Forville Barbaresco 2005 as my second best.  After tasting the wine I guessed it was from a supermarket at about £4.99.  In fact, online, I found this wine at Majestic at a whopping £7.99.

 Langhe Nebbiolo next to a box of Honey & Nut Clusters (for some reason)


100 confessions – 99 happy

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I had hoped to celebrate my 100th post with a large glass of optimism, but sadly I am completely sober, in every sense of the word.  The chances of winning the British lottery are 1 in 14 million.  Conversely the chances of having a miscarriage, according to our doctor, are a much more slender 1 in 4.

Isn’t it strange how some people turn to alcohol at such times as this, like solace can be found in the dregs of an empty Jeroboam?  I associate drinking wine with good times and at various (fortunately occasional) low points in my life have stopped drinking completely.

At the age of 43, I had already given up hope of fatherhood.  We had not been specifically “trying” for a baby but, in fairness, neither were there any artificial barriers to prevent such an event.  So when Freda announced she was pregnant, firstly I laughed, and then I wondered aloud which wine it was that had suddenly boosted my sperm count.  Then I realised she was serious.

We know enough people who have suffered the misfortune of losing a pregnancy.  We knew that the biggest risk is in the first 12 weeks, so we chose not to tell anyone until the first midwife appointment.  We missed the target by the slimmest of margins – just one day.  This could be seen as having reached the semi-final to get beaten 5-0, but in a way it is much better than having won the cup, only to have it taken away for a rules infringement.

Freda has spent a little time in hospital sorting out the aftermath, and this has gone excellently.  Physically, she is 100% back to normal – no damage done.  Emotional scars may take slightly longer to heal but we are both quite reflective in reaction to events both good and bad.  Life goes on for those of us fortunate enough to be in good health.

By the way, you may be interested to know that I write many of my posts in advance.  Often I’ll write three or four on a Sunday and publish them over the coming week or two.  I always keep a couple in stock “in case of emergency”.  So expect normal service to be resumed very soon.


Monday, August 20th, 2007

“Original all American wine!”.  “Pride of California!”.  “Bold and not for the faint hearted…”.  “What are you doing lurking around my website?”

Encouraged by various American correspondents, I promised to try a Californian Zinfandel.  I had only stopped at Sainsbury’s Supermarket for 568ml of milk (remember pints?) but where there’s a wine stand, there’s a wino.

Apart from the ubiquitous Gallo, the only “Zin” I could find was Ravenswood Lodi 2004 Old Vines Zinfandel.  At £8.49 it is one of the most expensive wines at this supermarket but I figured it had to be worth the extra.

Ravenswood “Zin” next to a Lancashire County Cricket Club umbrella (well it is summer!)


Salduba “Pub”, Banús

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

More on Puerto Banús, and this was an afternoon sojourn to the Salduba Pub, right on the Port entrance.

The house wines we tried were a 2006 Rosé – BACH Vina Extrisima.  Quite pleasant if basic.  Timid flavours of strawberries and ice cream.

Jeff and Paul kiss and make up after a tiff…for some reason

The next was a red wine:  BACH Crianza 2002.  Bloody awful. with strong flavours of napalm, vinegar and strawberries.

Both were house wines but the rest of the list was uninspirational.  Go to the Salduba by all means, but I’d stick to beer.

Salduba Pub, Muelle de la Ribera, 29660.  Puerto Banús (Málaga).  T: +34 952 811 092

Valentino but no Rudolph

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I used to live in Bingley, West Yorkshire and frequented Valentino’s many a Friday night.  One of my favourite places for friendly and rustic, if slightly over garlicked and over-buttered fayre.

So when invited back for a birthday party recently, I was interested to see if the old fella was still there.  The welcome was as warm as ever and Valentino remembered me (that’s the thing about an Italian welcome – they are great at pretending they know you, I’m sure he must have wondered who the hell I was.)

Valentino’s was founded in MCMXCV which sounds like a long time ago, but by my reckoning is 1995.  I double checked my Roman maths by going to Google and typing “MCMXCV in Arabic” and the answer was duly computed.  Isn’t Google totally awesome (say this out loud in a nasal teenage American twang).


Three Choirs – a welcome in the City side

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Well the English football season is back and what better way to celebrate Man City’s stunning victory over West Ham, than with an English wine review? 

This wine was made from a grape variety about as well known as most of the Man City first team.  For those not in England, Sven-Göran Eriksson has been on a buying spree across the globe bringing in players from Bulgaria, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Bosnia & Herzegovina.  Names like Elano, Bianchi, Geovanni, Garrido, Fernandes, and Schonburger.  Oh no, hang on, that last one was the name of the grape used to make this Three Choirs Stone Brook 2005.

 Three Choirs next to a bowl of fine pasta…for some reason


Parra Alta Rosé from Mendoza

Monday, August 13th, 2007

 Parra Alta next to a 19p Ikea mug….for some reason.

At my local sandwich shop I have been lunching on fruit, sandwiches, and crisps (hey if you’re American I mean chips, ok?).  I am not particularly loyal to any brand of crisps so I was tempted by an offer from Seabrooks which suggested that by collecting 8 packets I could send off to claim a pint sized mug.