Archive for December, 2007

New Year Veltliner

Monday, December 31st, 2007

As 2008 races towards us faster than an over-indulgent party reveller to the big white telephone, it’s time to take stock of the year just gone.  My 2007 new year resolution was to lose a stone in 3 months.  For non-British readers that is 14 pounds, or 6.35029318 kilos.

I’ve always been a slow starter but I can be a determined sod, and I finally made my target on 23 December 2007 after watching a weight chart that was broadly directly proportional to the Dow Jones and FTSE indices.  I am still surprised I actually made it at all, but a bigger surprise this year was the discovery of a new wine.  Not because it was a discovery to anyone but me, simply that I was the last person on earth to encounter it.  The wine is known by many as Gru Vee and I thought I’d close this year on a decent, inexpensive example of the genre.

Bread and wine…for some reason


Barón de Barbón 1994 Gran Reserva

Friday, December 28th, 2007

Word had reached my royal ear that 1994 Riojas may be getting past their drink by date so I immediately opened this beauty, one of the few remaining in my rack from the great year.

Fish Baron….tuna to be precise…for some reason


In praise of the Malbec Society

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

I’ve been most impressed by nearly all the Wine Society’s own brand wines.  Then I saw this bottle by “Hand of God” which seems to be ripping off the Wine Society’s brand – I had to investigate.

Malbec and Maradona


Dominio del Plata Chardonnay 2006

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Inspired by my happy experience of Faldeos Nevados Argentinean Chardonnay, I was moved (but not in the intestinal sense) to try another.  Oops…

Chardonnay, but the only gas is in the canister


Gio Gio, so good they named it twice!

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I went to see Private Lives, the excellent Noël Coward play, at the equally excellent Library Theatre, St Peter’s Square, Manchester.  So needing sustenance to prevent my guests having to suffer the slings and arrows of my outrageous belly rumbles, we pulled in to Gio’s on Lower Mosley St, opposite the Midland Hotel.

Gio boxers - full at 6:30pm????

There is a brilliant pre-theatre menu at £8.95 for two courses.  I picked the Insalata Caprese and the Penne Tagliatelli alla Francesca.

Here’s a tip.  When you order a pasta dish, always mix and match the pasta with the sauce.


Le Caprice, London

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Just down the road from the entrance to the Ritz on Arlington St, just off Piccadilly, you will find Le Caprice, a favourite haunt of the stars for several decades.  This part of London is over-endowed with decent restaurants.  To quaint northerners like me this seems unfair.

The Wolseley is just round the corner, as is Langan’s Brasserie, Claridge’s, Scott’s of Mayfair, and Fortnum & Mason.  Meanwhile in the nearby West End, The Ivy, sister to Le Caprice, is undoubtedly one of the best restos in London despite the nouvellement célèbrés and the nouveaux riche who visit only to be seen rather than to enjoy food and wine.  So was Le Caprice, part of the group that owns The Ivy, as good as its sibling?

Modern and ugly - Le Caprice exterior


Muscadet, forgotten wine of the 1970s?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Has Ian Simpson finally moved in?  From my bijou pad in Manchester I can see his penthouse apartment atop the Beetham tower, self appointed tallest residential building in Europe.  Recently I have noticed some lights on the top floor for the first time, so maybe it is finally fitted out?

The fact that I can see his penthouse is far from remarkable since most residents of Greater Manchester, the Outer Hebrides, and the caves of Afghanistan can see this proud member of a building.

So some of you may assume that I reside in the forgotten 1970’s part of town.  I beg to differ!  And so must the poor producers of Muscadet when challenged.  Muscadet is sooooooo 1970’s.  Sooooooo much so I wanted to remember it rather than forget it.  Is Sèvre et Maine really a second class citizen compared to the more fashionable and expensive Loire appellations like Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé?

Muscadet and Hugh…..for some reason


Le Perron, Geneva

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Of all the restaurants where I have sat beneath a canopy of Maple leaves, Le Perron in Geneva is undoubtedly the best, or come to think of it, actually the only one.  Having said that, I suppose I should be grateful to be sitting outside at all in October in Europe.

Mmmmm wine and sap, for some reason… 


Menu for hope

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

At this time of year our thoughts turn to giving, and particularly to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Menu for Hope is supporting a school lunch programme in Lesotho via the UN World Food Programme – a very worthy cause.

I have just bought some raffle tickets and hope to win a fantastic prize, like lunch in Heston Blumenthal’s Hind’s Head pub, or going on a restaurant review with Jay Rayner of the Observer.  Top prizes are available in North America, UK and Europe, Asia Pac, and Australasia.  Even if I don’t win anything I know that my donation has done some good.

You can find out more about how to join the raffle, donate and win prizes at

Just do it.  Why are you still reading this?

Isabel Marlborough 2006

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Is it really necessary?  On a bicycle?  I mean, I am thinking of buying a mountain bike but should I put a bell on the handlebars?  Enough of the knock knock jokes, let’s get straight to tonight’s wine which is the last remaining in a case of Kiwi Sauvignon Blancs I procured from the Wine Society, and the second most expensive of the batch.

Find the lady in my extensive collection of random male spirits….

The title of most expensive, was awarded, obviously, to Cloudy Bay 2006 Sauvignon.  A pure rhubarb delight but so it should be for the best part of £20.  This Isabel 2006 was also from Marlborough but I only had to work for 23 hours to afford it.  At 13% alcohol, it had the typical gooseberry aroma, but it was more complex than most Kiwi SBs.  White grapefruit with caster sugar was my conclusion.  Perhaps notes of honey adding interest.

A super long finish of refined zing.  I think it’s a real challenger to Cloudy Bay.