Archive for June, 2008

Alamos Malbec 2006

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Does hay fever stop you enjoying wine?  I’ve suffered since I was a teenager, not desperately badly, but some years are worse than others.  Sneezing is easy.  It’s the itchy eyes and the variety of streaming facial liquids that really irritate.

Normally I get it early, I look like a tear-jerk long before May is out, whether I have cast a clout or not.  This year has been great, so far.  I write this late June and have hardly seen a symptom.  But today I have a mild dose.  I keep anti-histamine tablets in reserve, in case of emergency.  I am a hypochondriac in many senses but I dislike medicine and avoid it as a policy….except when things get really bad.  I have taken no prisoners, er pills, this year but I was tempted tonight.

I poured a glass of Alamos Malbec and took a sniff.  Snchoooooooorrrrrrggggghhhhhh!  No smell.  Just a loud nasal fart.

Davy Crockett wine?  Alamos Malbec...


Château Camensac 1996

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

A trip to Bournemouth last year resulted in me bringing home the best red wine I ever drank, a 1982 Camensac.

Browsing through Majestic the other day, I spotted the 1996 vintage at £19.99.  Only one course of action was available to me, and for once, my bank manager obliged.

Camensac, from my Château

It felt right to open this on the anniversary of the barbecue that saw the 1982’s fifteen minutes of fame (and I was surprised that it lasted 15 minutes, so cherished was it by the St Helens massive).

This 1996 Haut-Médoc, at 12 years old, is surely drinking well by now?  I was surprised at the amount of tannins still attacking my upper gums, but, consumed contemporaneously with simply barbecued lamb chops, it was excellent.  Liquorice, blackcurrant, cedar and parsnip – yum.  15 minutes later, it was gone.  With only one bottle in my basket, we had to wave goodbye to the French nobility and make friends with an impudent teenager from the New World.

I am no expert in these matters but I sense that Château Camensac 1996 will keep a good while longer and I shall probably pop back to Majestic for another couple of bottles to squirrel away in my combine harvester.

Errazuriz Carmenère 2007

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I’ve tried a few Chilean Carmenères now, and there is an emerging theme.  If I could can the essence of a real wood and coal fire pumping smoke out of an English country chimney in 1974…’s a vivid memory jogger!

Errazuriz - a mouthful in every sense...


Sunday Lunch at Scott’s, Mayfair

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

If Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, named this his favourite restaurant, and Adrian Gill, erstwhile restaurant critic of the Sunday Times, also raves about the place (albeit that he is presumably on a retainer for writing about the history of most of the major restos in Caprice Holdings Ltd), then any self respecting wino has to visit.  Sunday lunch is just the perfect time to eat oysters, and my rocks were from Malden.  I am embarrassed, though, to admit I had to ask the waiter to explain that Essex is where these crustacea were reared.  I am such a northern oik!

The service at Scott’s is obviously superb, highly professional and (unusually) English.  However, our waiter was having an off day.  I had to ask three times for my wine to be topped up.  You may be thinking “lazy so and so” but I would have had to walk about 300 yards to get to my bottle of Pouilly Fumé from where they parked it.  Talking of which can you spot our car in the photo below?

Mount Street money mmmmmm!

No I can’t see it either.


Weigh Station Chenin Blanc 2006

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Boiled eggs.

Still reading?

It is sometimes the simple, apparently yawningly boring, plain and ugly things in life that give the most pleasure.

I regularly eat boiled eggs at the flat because they are:
1. Cheap;
2. Easy to prepare;
3. Easy to consume; and
4. Tasty

Giving fair exception to the last horseman of my ovate apocalyptic quartet, many people allege that Chenin Blanc welcomes only the first three riders onto its lazy back.

Accused of blandness, and being a Jack of all trades but master of none, how does Chenin Blanc stand in the dock against horseman number 4’s indictment?  It is a grape I largely ignore, but I am not entirely sure why.

Weigh hey!


The Northern Quarter, Manchester

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I met Rob McIntosh in Manchester, the night before the UEFA Cup Final (Rangers lost 2-0).  Piccadilly Gardens was packed and all the pubs were overflowing with friendly but very pissed Glaswegians.  Fortunately, the Scots had not found the Northern Quarter, an eclectic mix of trendy, funky, bohemian bars, clubs, clothes shops and arty establishments.  Rob had spotted the old fish market earlier and a bar/resto on the other side of High Street confusingly named The Northern Quarter.

Opposite the old Fish Market - photo by Rob McIntosh


Morgon Trenel 2005 Côte de Py

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Is there anything worse than spending 7 hours in the car in one day?  Well, how about 8 gruelling hours at, according to my trip computer, an average speed of 57mph, punctuated by two meetings in different towns with different companies, in which I play different roles, and have completely different thought patterns?  Then followed by numerous conference calls (for which I pulled off the motorway, obviously).

I set off at 5:45am this morning, and I have just got home at 9:0pm.  I resemble a panda that has been on a scientific sleep deprivation experiment.  Dark rims around my eyes like the stain left by a bottle of Pinot Noir on a ghost white tablecloth.  And you should see what my peepers look like from this side!

As a treat before I conk out in bed, I am sampling Trenel Morgon 2005 Côte de Py.

More Morgon mayhem

My first reaction is that it is much more serious than your average Beaujolais, but then again, Morgon is one of the crus that tends towards longevity, albeit lacking the joie de vivre of, say, Fleurie.

Cherry flavoured tannins combine with fresh tomatoes and a little meringue.  Superb with pink lamb steaks (must be chargrilled or barbecued).

It is available from The Wine Society for £7.95.  Good value I reckon.  zzzzzzz zzzzz zzzz zz z good night…..

Btw, can you name all the Beaujolais crus?  Here is your starter for ten – Côte-de-Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint Amour – can you spot the missing ones?  Big pat on the back if you can.  No prizes because I haven’t set up my premium rate telephone line yet.

The Billionaire’s Vinegar

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

I don’t get much time to read.  I catch up on enterprise software stuff when I can.  I read certain wine blogs and books – the usual factual ones that any wino has nosed in and out of.  I can’t remember the last time I read a novel.  So when Random House sent me an advance copy of Benjamin Wallace’s fact-based novel-style yarn, I didn’t feel obliged to read it.  Instead, I gave it to Fred (an avid reader) to see what she made of it – “lacking a firm conclusion” she erm concluded.

Who want\'s to be a billionaire? I don\'t!


An apple and a lemon from Virgin

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Have you heard that large consumer services organisations (banks, telcos, utilities etc) classify and rank their customers into odd categories, like fruits, to determine their profitability?  A prime juicy customer might be an orange or an apple or a mango.  A customer clinging to the organisation like a piece of wet toilet tissue is invariably a lemon and is regularly encouraged to leave for a competitor, although a customer in this state is unlikely to be intelligent enough to take the hint.

I tried two wines from Virgin and I want to see how it works in the other direction.  The prime juicy apple in this case was the excellent Stone House Barossa Valley 2005 and the lemon, a Monastrell Albacea 2006.

An apple and a lemon...and some fruit


St Moritz, a Swiss Chalet in Soho

Friday, June 13th, 2008

We Will Rock You was a decent show, albeit mostly performed by under-studies on the wet Saturday afternoon we were in the audience.  Fortunately it was dry inside the theatre and, whilst the programme (£4) did not reveal the storyline, the show turned out to be set in the long distant future and was a McLeanesque retrospective on the day the music died…or didn’t…yawn!

Is this the way to St Moritz?  No, Wardour Street mate...