Archive for May, 2008

Spanish wine tasting at Kro2, Manchester

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Twas the eve of the UEFA cup final when all through the house, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse.  However, Scots and Russians littered the streets of Manchester and made a right old din too.  In fairness, Glasgow Rangers fans travel brilliantly and even though they lost the final (2-0) they remained in great spirit, and enormously friendly.

One of the advantages of writing a weblog is that on average it connects you to much more interesting people than, say, Facebook, or visiting a cup final.  Having previously conversed only in cyberspace, Rob kindly invited me to a wine tasting in Manchester.  I wasn’t about to say no to the opportunity to taste more wine, never mind meet a new face, so….erm….. I said yes.

The evening was jointly hosted by Kro2 bar, Dinastia Vivanco, Castillo de Clavijo, and Bibendum.

Wino's notes 


Chianti Classico Berardo Riserva 2000

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Have you ever had a slightly mad relative?  I used to have an aunt who regularly posted me Easter eggs wrapped in a single layer of brown paper.  Most of the egg was delivered inside the postman’s stomach and writing thank you letters became a bit of a laugh, albeit a repetitive one.

One birthday, I received the Chambers Dictionary of Science and Technology.  A valuable learning aid for a growing lad of 11 years.  But I only got Volume 2 (L to Z) and since 1975 I have been waiting for Volume 1 (A to K) – I can only presume that the postman ate that too.  If there is anyone out there who has only the primary volume and fancies getting together for dinner to exchange notes, please let me know at mail @ this domain.

It’s difficult to imagine that 1975, although well within my lifetime, was ages before the PC was invented.  So I thought it would be fun to look up a few key definitions.  I searched for “Computer” – D’Oh, that’s in Volume 1!  Microprocessor?  No definition.  Personal Computer?  No.  Mainframe?  Silicon chip?  Walkman?  Mother board?  All no.  Read Only Memory?  Oh hang on yes!  A fast access store containing fixed data.  So computing existed!

I feel a bit like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes.  Landing on another planet only to discover that I was actually at home, and realising that man was to blame all along.  I am clearly missing the chiselled jaw and muscular tanned physique, although in common with Charlton’s astronaut character, George Taylor, I suspect that a number of apes probably do fancy me.

Looking further into the New York subway and finding the Statue of Liberty must have been scary.  But searching the pages of the Chambers Dictionary of Science and Technology 33 years after it was published was worse than my first encounter with a Dalek.  Hide behind the sofa quick!

Ink black...well read....for some reason


Numéro, Manchester 235

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

You may remember I visited Linen, in the lofty part of the posh casino for my last birthday.  The other restaurant at Manchester 235 is Italian, on the ground floor next to the entrance and has the advantage of not having to be a member of the casino to enter and eat.

Numéro is an odd layout, with a bar in the middle and a simple opaque glass screen separating diners from the gaming tables.  The service is efficient and pleasant and the food is decent.  But if you do intend to go to the casino afterwards, I would recommend booking for Linen.

Italian letters or French numbers?  Or is that the other way around?

Linen, you see, is already the other side of painful casino security, and at meal finishing time on a Saturday there is a big queue.  Secondly, the atmosphere is classier, the prices similar, there is live music, the wine list is better and perhaps most importantly, you are more likely to get your wine served at the right temperature in Linen.


British blogs are rubbish…

Monday, May 26th, 2008

…at promoting themselves, but I still seek them out as often as I can.  Especially those that share my values, humour and, above all, pure enthusiasm for food and wine.  I find the content of most such British blogs to be informative, amusing, and interesting.

My latest find could equally well have been named Confessions of a Foodo, but in fact, the author chose the equally witty title Gastroplod.  I think her stomach is in Provence and her liver in Burgundy but her head is clearly in England.

Well worth a glance.

Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés 2007

Monday, May 26th, 2008

When you hear a wine described as “balanced” what does it mean to you?

I unscrewed this bottle of Torrontés and drank most of it before reading the back of the label.  Before opening, I knew that it was made by Susana Balbo one of my favourite Argie producers.  I knew that the wine came from Majestic and retails at £6.99.  I knew that it had a pretty label and came in the usual gargantuan bottles that are trademarks of the land of diminutive Eva Perón.  I am convinced that the bottles used by Dominio del Plata are almost as big as Evita and probably have clocked up more air miles per kilo.

After reading the label I now feel much wiser, because I know that “Crios” means “offspring”.  I know that Torrontés is Argentina’s uniquely aromatic grape, and that it is similar to Viognier with the dry crisp taste of Sauvignon Blanc.  The final interesting fact I took on board was that no oak was used in ageing the wine.  Oh, and just to cram just one more sliver of semi-useful intelligence into my puddled brain, that the wine displays excellent “balance”.

Not creosote - Crios....


Loaf, Deansgate Locks, Manchester

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

How do you eat mussels?  As a child on holiday in Nantes, I was taught to eat them by breaking the shells apart, using one half to scoop out the flesh in the other, then to use the remnants to paint a Lautrecian masterpiece.

I don’t buy the noncy idea of using one full shell in a pincer movement like a crustacean Pacman, that is for Londoners.  One area you and I probably agree on is that to dispense with the shells in the small waste bowl requires some imagination, some organisation, and demands some artistic endeavour.

How do you eat yours?


Seraph Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Regular readers know that I sampled the Auction service at Virgin Wines with mixed results.  I discovered recently that they have started auctioning Cloudy Bay 2007.  Fabulous idea!  Everyone knows the price of Cloudy Bay.  Although Harvey Nichols sells it every year for about £16-18, other retailers struggle to keep it below £20.  The Sunday Times Wine Club sells it at a rip-off £26.95!  Virgin Wines?  You can start bidding at £1 for 6 bottles!

So I raced to the site and discovered with disappointment that, with 18 hours still to go, the bidding was already at £131 for a half case (£21.83 per bottle).  It only took me 1 minute on Google to find it at £18.99 at  I am not saying that £131 for 6 is bad value, though.  It just pays to keep an eye on availability elsewhere if you value your coins.  Well worth visiting Virgin and placing a bid of £50 or so, just in case! I am going to keep going back for a look.

Anyway, the cricket saison est arrivé, and tomorrow I managed to get a ticket (sold out) for England vs New Zealand at Old Trafford (Manchester).  I know what you are thinking, how on earth is he going to tie all this nonsense back into a post about a wine from Touraine?  Listen carefully, I am about to begin…..

Seraph - Ghostly or ghastly?


Seven wine brides for seven songs

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

I was tagged not only by Robert, but also Catavino with a totally pointless chain blog-mail asking me to nominate 7 great music tracks that I am listening to right now.  But who can resist sharing their music choices with the world?


Bailey’s Glenrowan 1904 Block Shiraz 2000

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

In the world of Australian Wine I bow to my insomniac mate Dr Edward, who I hope will comment on this post to put me straight.

I understand that Richard Bailey was an Aussie pioneer which, to an English Gent like me, roughly translates as a base criminal, or an opportunistic, albeit war weary, £10 Pom.  In fairness, the guy came from Manchester so was almost certainly a Man City fan and for that alone I respect him, crim or not.

I have never been to Van Diemen’s Land, a fact I regret.  But I did hear of one Pommie who arrived by air recently and, when asked by an Aussie customs official “Do you have a criminal record?”, could have selected a more diplomatic answer than “Sorry, no, do you still need one?”

Don\'t know what they\'re doing but they laugh a lot behind the teak doooo-or!


Fleurie Château de Beauregard 2005

Monday, May 19th, 2008

I spent a week in the Beaujolais region during the vendange of 2005.  Don’t be stupid, I wasn’t picking grapes, merely relaxing, doing a little walking, some good eating and plenty of wine drinking.  My favourite spot was Fleurie with two great little bistro restaurants and one, more famous, mushroomy one with a star from some rubber company (too expensive and too indoors for me so I didn’t bother).

Personally I loved Café de la Bascule, where properly chilled local wines were poured over lazy autumn sunsets, accompanied by fine, but rustic, French food and just a pinch of French arrogance to season.

At the time, the marvellous 2003 vintage was running out fast.  People were fighting like Biafrons at an impromptu pizza party to get the last bottles, and being a big fat bloke, I managed to grab a few from local suppliers.

It turns out that 2005 was a pretty nifty year too, and I recently realised I had not tried much.  So off to the Wine Society website to see what was left.

A nice looking Château…for some reason