Archive for July, 2008

Saints and Scholars, Didsbury

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Another epic walk out of Manchester and we decided to see what had happened to beloved Maine Road on the way to Didsbury for lunch at Saints and Scholars.

Saints and Scholars, Didsbury


La Bocana, Puerto Banús, Spain

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Last year, we watched the yachts of the rich and infamous from La Bocana overlooking the harbour entrance.  The food and wine were good enough to warrant a revisit in 2008.

La Bocana and a barrel for some reason


Don Cayetano Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Friday, July 11th, 2008

A Sunday Times Wine Club crisp refreshing whites case (£60) produced this rather cheap looking Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Valle Central.  It was cheaply packaged and very pale with hardly any aroma.

And it wasn’t just cheap looking it was cheap.

Make me an offer (£5 per bottle?) for the DON….


When not to buy wine at Costco

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I have struggled to evaluate Costco as a source of “fine” wine.  Sure, the prices are good, but I have had quite a few bad experiences.  It seems like Costco are just too price focussed.  So we get offered wines from reasonably good estates but poor vintages.  Or decent wines getting to the end of their life.

I really trust Costco to find me the best price on a wide range of items, especially electronics and white goods where, in exchange for accepting last year’s model, enormous savings can be made.  Also consumables like washing powder, water, beer and bog rolls are generally cheapest at Costco, providing you buy in bulk.

I am just not convinced that the wine department is staffed by real enthusiasts.  I am certainly not going to defame Costco, I am sure their wine buyers are diligent, and that the provenance of all their wines is thoroughly checked.  It is just that, if I was a wine negociant, and someone came knocking with price as the sole criterion for purchase, I would be tempted to find the cases I could sell cheap.  A good name/bad year combination – looks good value?  A wine that less price sensitive buyers rejected – I can afford to let it go cheap!  A batch with a high percentage of corked bottles – who would know?

On my last visit, I was tempted by the fine wine display, so splashed out £19.92 on a bottle of Château Camensac 1995.

Camensac corked....for some reason


Landelia Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

What happened to global warming?  I write this on Sunday morning in Manchester, and it’s another rainy July day.  We’ve just had the coldest June since 1999, but we are still smiling.  Dunkirk spirit eh?

Although it is cold and wet, I sense that we have had much less rain than last year’s “summer”, the one that kept every reservoir in Britain at mid winter levels, and hosepipe bans a fond memory of childhood days.

We Brits are famous for talking about the weather too much, but our islands are prone to such regular and rapid changes, that it actually makes interesting conversation.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
The sun has got his hat on, shout hip, hip, hooray!

Literary references all, proving my case that weather is interesting because of its variety and inherently unexpected nature.  In that sense perhaps it is a lot like wine, another subject I talk about too much.

I was so impressed by Landelia Malbec that it is still recommended on my favourites page.  Recently, I went back to the Virgin website to top up my stocks but the cupboard was bare.  However, my search threw up another wine by Landelia, this one a Cab Sauv from 2005.

More overgrown evergreens?


Boxwood Café, Knightsbridge

Monday, July 7th, 2008

They call it Boxwood, Boxwood......Boxwood City Limits

Another weekend in London and another opportunity to knock off a “trophy” restaurant – this one from the effing Gordon Ramsay stable.  If you swear by food as much as I do, then you start to appreciate that London is really the place in the UK to do fine dining.  There simply isn’t the demand for it in Manchester, for example.  Not one Michelin star in the city!  Sure, there are plenty of good eateries, but the overall experience is just better in London, and surprisingly, not always that much more expensive.


La Paz Garrido, Fuengirola for 5* tapas

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

When in dining mode, I am a grazer.  I like to sample a range of flavours, and try new things as often as possible.  Chinese banquets are great.   I like my Indian food to be served on as many plates as possible so I can play culinary Russian roulette with my taste buds.  A spot of lime pickle on a spoonful of Vindaloo is like walking your tongue across hot coals, but this is far superior to pavement slabs of bland meat.

The ultimate grazer’s delight is a combination of three words:  Spain, seafood and tapas.  I think I may have found my mecca, ironically just to the west of the railway station in Fuengirola, Costa del Sol.  This place is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten in and almost certainly the best value.

Not much to look at eh?


Foo Fighters at Wembley 7 June 2008

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

What has this got to do with wine?  You may recall I was kindly invited to see the Foo Fighters by one of the stadium sponsors, so I did manage to grab a few glasses but I am afraid I didn’t take any notice of the bottles.

So, for those of you who are Foo fans out there I thought I might post a few pics and vids.  Those of you more into classical music and sip of Chablis could move to the next post while I indulge myself in a small diversion.

Foo Foo Foo Foo!


Château Gris 1999 Lupé-Cholet

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Confessions of a Wino is sad to announce the passing of the last bottle of Château Gris in my combine harvester.  Specifically it was passed about two hours after I drank it.

This 1999 Pinot Noir was part of the first case of wine I ever bought en primeur.  A 1er cru Nuit St Georges I think it cost about £25 per bottle, which is at the top end of my range and reflective of the sometimes cheeky prices the Bourgogne domaines think they can get away with, for often variable wines.

Château Gris on the rocks....or limestone to be precise


St Joseph, Domaine de Monteillet 2001

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

I used to love the Sunday Times Wine Club regular cases.  I still admire their marketing and I still order plenty of wine from them.  I just think that, once a member for a couple of years or so, one is better placed to select wines personally, than take the pre-mixed cases.  Having said that, the mixed cases are by far the best value.  What a dilemma.

I reconcile this dilemma by continuing my subscription to a single mixed case programme.  The “President’s Cellar” delivers 6 bottles every six months at about £20 a cork.  It does encourage me to try new wines occasionally.  Generally the wines are for drinking, rather than laying down, and just occasionally they are not from Bordeaux or Burgundy.

Blue carpet, red wine...for some reason

This is how I acquired this St Joseph Rhône Ranger – I don’t know whether it is still available.  The 2003 is still on the website at £16.91 per bottle.  I have no idea whether this represents any better value than the 2001.

Made from 100% Syrah (I think) and aged in 50% new oak and 50% older oak casks, the 2001 is subtle with no strong aromas.  The taste is spicy and fruity.  Black pepper, fresh mint leaf and basil, with some bilberry, fig and peach.

Intense and concentrated flavour, it lasts forever in the mouth and is superb with rump steak.  But, then it should be for the price!