Archive for March, 2008

Landelia Malbec, 2005

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Maybe Rowan Gormley took offence at my assessment of Virgin Wines as good for everyday glugging because he dropped me an email suggesting that I try something more serious from the Virgin stable.  I already have problems with my neighbours over a Leylandii hedge, so being an anagrammatic sort of a guy, this Landelia sounded appealing.  And in any case, since I am a sucker for pretty much any Argentinean Malbec, I had to try it.

Fast growing wine but is it neighbourly?


Stonewall Pinot Noir 2005

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

All too recently I have learnt just how varied Pinot Noir can be.  If Burgundy is the spiritual church of Pinot, then New Zealand is surely the moonie cult.  But there are wines from Eastern Europe, USA, South America, in fact just about every wine region feels it has to have a go at this sometimes rewarding but often fickle bedfellow.  It seems that everyone loves a challenge and nobody can resist trying to pull the Brigitte Bardot of grapes.

Some of the Chilean Pinot Noirs I have tried recently are extraordinarily good, but not typical of the wines from Bourgogne.  Most commentators agree that New Zealand Pinot Noirs are hitting the stratosphere in quality terms.  I have found many of these to be interesting too, although perhaps a little nearer, in religious terms, to the Pinot cathédrale of the Côte D’Or.

Stonewall - a wine for gay rights?

This bottle of Stonewall, Forrest Estate 2005 came to me from Marlborough via a mixed case from the Sunday Times Wine Club “Pure Pinots” at £69.99 the case.  The first thing that struck me was a boring label by NZ standards.  However, the taste was far from boring.  Strawberry, macaroon, stewed blackberry and grapefruit, is a fantastic mix and this wine added a touch of vanilla ice cream too (or did I serve it too cold?).  It took time to open up though.  This is worth opening half an hour before drinking, if you can keep your sweaty mitts off it for that long.  I couldn’t.

Denise gives French on Southampton Row

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

London restaurants generally have to work harder than in the provinces of the UK.  Standards are higher because competition is fiercer, diners are more sophisticated, more choosy, and every other idiot customer is a critic for the Sunday Times, or some amateur blog.

French letter (from Brazil for some reason…)


Condes Carpallo 2006

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

As I sit here contemplating a meaningless friendly against France (meaningless since Signor McClaren failed to qualify England for the 2008 European Championships) I thought I would tip a nod to our new head coach by sampling a bottle of Carpallo.  Now Sr Capello is Italian, whereas this wine is Spanish.  Sr. Capello is a heavyweight, and this wine is a lightweight.  Sr. Capello is serious, whereas my comparison to a wine named Carpallo is inane and trite.  Then again, Sr. Capello has picked David Beckham in the squad which is a bit of a laugh and not exactly building for the future is it?  My final comparison is that Condes Carpallo is dirt cheap, whereas Sr. Capello is very very expensive indeed.  Which one delivers the best value?

Condes Carpallo…isn’t he the new England manager?????


Linen at Manchester 235

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

When one reaches one’s forties, birthdays are quickly forgotten.  They are not anticipated with the same excitement of youth, rather the disdain and fear of middle age.  Nonetheless, they are still a cause for celebration and an opportunity to go and splash a few quid on some top nosh and wine.  This year we went to Linen in the lofty (metaphorically and physically) surroundings of Manchester 235 Casino.

Just Linen, or any sort of textile?

My camera was not welcome for obvious reasons.  The discretion of the clients (and I will indiscreetly mention that most of the Man United team were in that evening) is clearly important.  I am also sick of getting papped by photographers from the Daily Mail who have clearly mistaken me for a footballer or some TV star (yeah right…).


I’ve got a brand new combine harvester…

Friday, March 21st, 2008

…but you’re not having the key.

I’m so excited I’ve had to wear specially stengthened underwear today.  It’s Easter weekend and a chance to catch up on some stuff that’s been hanging around.  So today (Good Friday) I spent an hour or two reading the instruction manual to my new car.  I’ve had the damn thing for nearly three weeks and have driven it using point and click techniques, without access to luxuries like radio and CD, or heating and cooling, or acceleration and braking.  It’s pretty impressive, but it is not the best gadget I have acquired recently.  That title belongs to a wine related item.  Can you guess what it is?  The photo below is an easy clue.

Come hither mystery item - what art thou?


Chablis Domaine du Cèdre Doré 2006

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Another from Virgin and you may recall me sampling a range of wines from a mixed case I took as an introductory offer.  The results of my samples have been mostly good and my conclusion on Virgin is that for everyday glugging wines, if you choose carefully you will find value rather than fine wines, drinkability rather than complexity, down to earth language rather than pretension.

This Chablis, though, tasted most unlike Chablis.

Cèdre Doré Chablis with a couple of mates...for some reason


The Modern, Manchester

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Is it possible to feel remote in a city centre?  I think it is.  I am not talking about loneliness, or feeling culturally distant from people stood next to you.  I am talking about sitting in silence whilst the world goes on several floors below.  This is what the atmosphere is like at The Modern in Manchester.

Can you spot the Modern?  I can…for some reason


Shibden Mill Inn, Halifax

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Amongst the dark satanic mills of Halifax, West Yorkshire, there are indeed some green and pleasant pastures, and nestling in the hills we found Shibden Mill Inn.  We once stopped for a quick Sunday lunch on a walking expedition and vowed to go back.  On 1 March, Fred had just picked up a brand new Mini Cooper, so a drive out to somewhere remote seemed appropriate.

Omaka…somewhere in middle America (or New Zealand to be precise)


Champagne René Jardin Rosé

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

There are occasional tiny slivers, splinters of darkness in my life, that give me a sharp reminder of what I am giving up for my work.  It’s not that I resent it, entirely my own choice after all.  When I started the company in 2001, I went in with my eyes open.  I realised it would mean sacrifices.

This afternoon I took my 10 year old god-daughter to see Man City.  The look of delight on her face when City beat Spurs 2-1 was matched only by my relief at the end of an awful run of games that had put us on a snake track slithering down the league table.

Kellie came over from Dublin for the weekend with her sisters, Rebecca and Chloe – all gorgeous girls, well behaved, entertaining, polite, model children.  Kellie is obviously my favourite and she is the footie fan, tomboy, fitness fanatic, make-up-rejecting bundle of energy.

And now they have all gone and I am alone in the flat.  It’s strange how lonely you can feel when sudden mayhem is suddenly replaced by a sudden quantum of solace.

So to cheer me up, apart from consoling myself that City are back on the ladder of success, I have dragged out my notes from a bottle of Shampoo I sampled last weekend.

Opera North - and no phantom, but a bottle of René Jardin for some reason…