Archive for July, 2009

Brace of Books on Burgundy & Bordeaux

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I’ve just come back from the Amazon.  I couldn’t resist the recommendation they emailed me for a couple of reasonably up to date books on my favourite subject.  Both reference works of some weight, metaphysically as well as in the sense of excess baggage.

So if, like me, you fly on a Ryanair budget (and believe me, I wish I didn’t have to), then you will have to pay a £20 supplement if you want to take them on holiday with any more than your swimming trunks and sun cream.

Brace of books


40 | 30 Carry on up the Gherkin

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The gherkin

I was going to review this place next year when I could have titled the post, 4030 2010.  But on the 40th floor bar of 30 St Mary’s Axe the view could not wait and, verily, it must be one of the most stunning in the whole of London.

Top of the (financial) world


Château Pelan Bellevue 2005

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Are you a wine magpie?  I can’t resist a tempting offer and, bearing in mind the stellar reputation of 2005 Bordeaux, a Wine Society mixed case from the Côtes was a no-brainer.  My theory that a rising tide lifts all boats (i.e. in a good year even crap winemakers are going to have to work hard to produce awful wine) leads me to try almost any CHEAP 2005.

Nice view of some cyclists?  Oh that would be a peloton!


32 Great Queen Street, London

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

I have a theory that the more a place is off the beaten track the harder it has to work to get custom, the more it relies on regulars and, therefore, the better the food and wine.

32, Great Queen Street is on, well, you’ve guessed it.  Just off the main streets of Covent Garden and close to the Freemason’s Grand Lodge, I suppose I could have negotiated a discount had I rolled one trouser leg up and hopped inside holding a kipper to my ear.

32 Great Queens and a restaurant for some reason...


Jackson-Triggs Ice Wine 2006

Monday, July 20th, 2009

At only 10.5% alcohol and a mere 25cl bottle (a large glass of wine at most British pubs) this wine had to live up to a £11.44 price tag.  Yes, I know, only Costco could come up with this odd valuation.

Vidal in the saloon and a fridge....for some reason


Fabre Montmayou Malbec 2007

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I assured some French friends who visited recently, that ignorant southerners who claimed that it rained in Manchester 24 hours a day were plain wrong.  In my experience the average precipitation is a considerably more modest 23.  I am looking forwards to tomorrow between 8 and 9am when we are promised a refreshing spot of light cloud.

Rain again...and some Fabre Montmayou Malbec for some reason


Ugaba Stellenbosch 2006

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Sounding like a Vic Reeves’ Shooting Stars comedic expletive is not normally a criterion by which I evaluate whether to buy a wine, but somehow this just grabbed my attention on a recent visit to Majestic, Leeds.

South Africa is a bit of a blind spot in my wine rack and I occasionally have to remind myself that good wine comes from English speaking zones, as well and French and Spanish.

Iranu?  Uvavu!

This wine is made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in proportions 42:32:26 and spends 10 months in French oak.

On opening there was faint Hydrogen Sulphide but this quickly dissipated and left a passable impression of a decent claret.  At first it smelt deep, moody and just a tad yeasty with a raspberry rush.  First sip was raspberry, violet, and vanilla.  Far from being spoilt, it was bright, fresh and almost as exciting as a freshly powdered slope (snow I mean, not cocaine).

Eranu or Uvavu?  Ugaba Stellenbosch 2006 is £11.99 at Majestic and this represents good value.  ERANU!

Hardy’s Varietal Range Chardonnay 2007

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

It is all too easy to be sniffy about the major wine brands when you’ve had your nose in the books of Parker and Robinson.  But have you tried anything from Chilean producer Concha y Toro lately?  Or the sub brands Cono Sur and Casillero del Diablo?  Interesting stuff and generally high quality, but in the UK, I remember the Australians as being first in the queue to bring wine to the proletariat via supermarket and pub alike.

Aside from the ubiquitous Jacob’s Creek, I recall Hardy’s as being a brand leader. So when my neighbour, Peter, brought a bottle of Varietal Range Chardonnay round to my barbie, I was first insulted, then dismissive and finally intrigued.  Obviously, in Peter’s presence I sniffed at it, parked it in the corner and turned to open a bottle of something exclusive and French (albeit cheap and ropey).

Hardly Chardonnay...

Curiosity got the better of me this evening and I opened the bottle.


What a twit

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Yes, you guessed it – sigh.  You can now follow me on twitter @tiptoptaps.

Bollinger Grande Année 1999

Monday, July 6th, 2009

I am not the sort of person to waste money on a premium product unless I see real value.  Vintage Champagne is rarely, if ever, in my wine rack, but this is because I have never really thought it worth extra.  In January, I spotted a bottle of 1999 Bolly at only £58 and that included two free Riedel flutes.  At that price the value test was too tempting to miss, and maybe I reached a L’Oréal moment?

Bolly...and wood for some reason