Archive for April, 2008

Leyda, Cahuil Vineyard 2006

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

My tour of the Pinot Noirs of the world is a long way from completion and getting more and more interesting by the minute.  This one, from the Wine Society mixed case Chile Pinot Noirs (£82 for twelve bottles) is earthy and earthy.

You’re my silver laydee…for some reason

An earthy smell with compost and wet leaves is not the greatest compliment to a wine.  The taste was sharp at first but it mellowed over time.  Mixed berries, carrot, grapefruit skin and mushroom – nice? You judge…..

14% alcohol is not too much really, but it is a bit new world. Then again Chile is in the New World so maybe this is a great wine, just not to my taste.

Tokerau Carmenère 2007

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Life is a box of chocolates according to Forrest Gump’s mama, which probably suits my moody temperament.  My current mood in respect of grapes is, as ever, two faced.  One old school tie, one new kid on the block (to me anyway).  I am currently on a virtual world tour of Pinot Noirs which I described as the Brigitte Bardot of grapes.  The other varietal that has piqued my interest recently is Carmenère, which is the James Dean of grapes.  A rebel without a cause that lives on the edge, smokes a lot, and whilst externally attractive, lacks substance.  Scratch under the surface, and often you will simply find more surface.

A midnight toker you say???


La Cucina, Kenilworth

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I’ve been sent to Coventry. Not in the metaphorical, but literal sense. On business to be precise. I have a 9:0am meeting in the morning with Barclays Bank and to travel down to get there reliably from Leeds would require me to rise and shine at 5:0am. No self-respecting wino does that.

The marvels of modern technology mean that my laptop simply connects via a 3G card to the internet, and using something called “VPN” (nothing to do with panty lines, no) I can work as if in the office, from anywhere in the world, although at 10% of the speed.  All of this means that instead of finishing work at about 7pm, I am still at it at 9:30.  Fortunately, La Cucina is still open on a Monday night and most of the remaining customers are Italian, which is encouraging.

Coochie, coochie, Cucina, you’re my coo-ca-chooooooo


Mr Thomas’s Chop House, Manchester

Monday, April 14th, 2008

After my review of Sam’s Chop House raised a bit of a storm about people’s privacy, I was reticent about reviewing the sibling, Mr Thomas’s.  After waiting for about 243 minutes behind a twitcher’s tent, I finally found a moment when the coast was clear and grabbed a quick snap (below).  If only the atmosphere inside was as interesting….

Mr Thomas’s splendid Victorian building


Mantinia Tselepos 2005

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Do you know what a Pot Lyonnais is?  If you have been to the Beaujolais region you do.  A pot (pronounced poe) Lyonnais (lee-on-ay) is a 46cl bundle of fun in the form of a wine carafe.  Whilst dining in Fleurie once, I was told that the history of the pot was that it was considered the suitable amount for agricultural workers to drink on their lunchtime break.  Yes, I know what you are thinking.  Imagine if the same rules applied to the munitions factories!  Ka-boom!!

The French are often copied, especially when it comes to wine, and the word on the street is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  The Greeks must love the French very much judging by the amount of pointless and deliberately misleading French language on an average bottle of Greek wine.  But apart from the French language this is no average bottle of Greek wine.

Mantinia (75cl) next to a Pot Lyonnais (46cl) and a plant…for some reason


Château La Tour Figeac, 2001

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Packaging says a lot about a product.  Marketing people really understand that differentiating (demanding a higher price for) a high quality product requires an associated buying and unwrapping experience.  Nowhere is this more true than the world of wine.  The ceremony afforded to opening a bottle of wine is a marketing man’s dream.  I feel short changed if a wine is not “wrapped” according to its value.

The foil on the cap of this wine was reassuringly thick, I’ve seen lead flashing with less substance.  This is a good quality wine already…

Figeac went great with crispy duck but hold the plum sauce….


Pendle Inn – witches, yetis, snow and pies

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

It used to snow more often in the north of England.  One childhood memory of Cheadle Hulme in the 1970s, had us creating a roadblock from several snowballs as big as a medium sized Yeti monster, only to get caught by one of the parents.  It took so much more effort to deconstruct the abominable frozen white barrier without the adrenalin filled laughter that drove and inspired us through the construction phase.

On Easter Sunday 2008, we looked out of the window at 7am – whiteout – awesome….let’s off to the hills for a walk!  I have one life rule on walking – I’ll do anything as long as there is a pub at the end.  And so we found ourselves at Barley, Lancashire, and the Pendle Inn.

Pendle Inn - don’t see no witches yet…


Château Batailley 2004 revisited

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

When I say revisited, I am lying.  I never actually visited Ch. Batailley in the first place and nor did I this time.  I’ve drunk the wine a number of times though, and in my last tasting of 2004, I decided it was too early to drink.  Venerable US critic, Robert Parker, agrees labelling 2004 Pauillac as “still tannic”.  So why open another bottle now then?  Good question.  Erm, I panicked…

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


Simple Bar, Manchester

Sunday, April 6th, 2008

As dark and dingy restaurants go, Simple is amongst the darkest, although to be fair not dingiest I have visited.  I admit my eyesight is deteriorating with age, and I struggle to read small text at a distance closer than you would view a computer screen, but we were sat beneath the aircon unit, unlit, and whilst other tables had an odd spotlight to illuminate, even the red candle on our table couldn’t reveal to me any of the menu contents. 

Dark and dingy - I couldn’t read the menu without a torch!


Three Choirs, Midsummer Hill 2005

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Do you ever wonder why people insist that Sauvignon Blanc smells like “cat’s piss on a gooseberry bush”?  Exactly how many people have smelt a gooseberry bush, never mind one that a cat has pissed on?  What sort of cat was it?  Was it in season?  Male or female?  What had the cat eaten and drunk?  What variety of gooseberry?  Was the bush flowering or in fruit (or neither)?

I’ve just got in from a motorway traffic jam and I’m astonished by the exercises my brain races through while the car idles.

Can you hear them?  Three choirs…for some reason.