Archive for November, 2009

Super sale at Sunday Times – but hurry

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I am so excited I could eat a bowl of soup.  And if you want to be as excited as me you have until 11am tomorrow (1 December).  Oh, and you need to be a member of the Sunday Times Wine Club.  Oh, and you need to have a wine budget of at least £100.  I can’t see the same offer on the Laithwaites main site so maybe they will repeat this down the way.

The deal is that if you spend £100 you get 10% off.  Not that special, but if you can find £150 the discount ups to 15%, and if you are in the fortunate position of having £200 or more leaking from your trousers, 20% is your reward!

I’ve just placed an order for 6 bottles of Cheval des Andes 2005, an Argentinean stunner made in a Bordeaux style but with “robust” spinal chord of Malbec.  A well regarded wine, which is more than can be said for the abysmal website.

With a 20% discount, even including delivery charges I have just paid £37 per bottle.  Compare this to the normal STWC/Laithwaites prices of £45, the Majestic price of £50, and the rip-off Gaucho Wine Boutique price of £64.65, I think that is a bargain.

By the way, if you dine at Gaucho Grills, expect to see this wine on the list at £147.95 per bottle – oucho!

Domaine de l’Arjolle 2008 Viognier/Sauvignon

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Looking for alcohol to numb the pain of having to watch Strictly Come Dancing, I tangoed across to my wine rack to find something easy drinking, fruity and cheap, like Craig Breville-Toaster

Arjolle - give me some Thongue

I found this Côtes de Thongue from the Wine Society at a mere £4.95.  Made in the increasingly popular South of France, a region that most wine merchants are pushing as recession friendly gluggers, this stands out as something more sincere.  Cheaper than a budgie’s twitter, but tastier than a topless bird on a St Tropez beach, this smells and tastes of two childhood sweets:  Pear drops and pineapple cubes.  Don’t expect fine wine at this price but I’ve tasted many uglier wines at double the Roubles.  And as for Strictly – is it still on?????

Yering Frog Pinot Noir 2007

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

OK, firstly a surprising admission.  I have finally found it in my heart to give those blasted Aussies credit for something more than being reasonably adept at cricket.

Hotdog, Yering Frog, Albuquerque?


Hardys in “Freshcase”

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Fred is completely tee-total.  Whilst she is my wine “Nose” and can smell an Eton Mess on a Chateau Latour from 100 yards across a landfill site, ne’er a drop of liquor passes her lips.  This poses a problem for a Wino like me.  Every time I open a bottle I have to consume it all, save for tomorrow, or discard the un-drunk contents, which upsets my doctor, overfills the fridge, or keeps the drains clean accordingly.

So the thought of a boxed wine is most appealing.  Hardys claim this new 2,250ml (3-bottle) enclosure keeps the wine fresh for 6 weeks!

Nott likely.....


Château La Garde 2003

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Surely it’s a W?  Why do I seem to disagree with most leading economists, investors and politicians?  In my wine tainted mind, a double dip recession is more certain than ever.  In the UK, at least.

We have temporary low purchase tax, temporary hyper-low interest rates and temporary Bank intervention, pumping money into the economy on a scale not seen since RBS started furnishing Sir Fred Goodwin with his pension.

Did D'Artagnan drink this wine?


Lynch-Bages 2005 – Swans Nil

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Silence please.  There is a time and a place for a little reverence.  I have just opened my first bottle of a very important wine.  Château Lynch-Bages 2005.  A wine that even en-primeur, cost me over £50 per bottle.

Lynch Mob...for some reason

The Sunday Times Wine Club advised me to wait until 2010, but I could be dead by then and I am an impatient man….oh and I have 12 bottles so I can afford to experiment early.  So Fred had a placed a fillet steak on the skillet and I released the special one from its enclosure.


Gotham Bar and Grill, New York

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

This is just the sort of place I imagined an upmarket New York restaurant would look like.  Solid, spacious, salubrious and snobby, and that is a compliment.  It is expensive in the evening but if, like me, you are on a budget, there are some great deals at lunchtime.  I visited in September 2009 and unlike former customer, Monica Lewinsky, I managed to keep my stains on the tablecloth.

Holy cow, Batman.  It's Gotham Grill!


Cork and cork at Quinta da Lagoalva de Cima

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

There’s always a danger that things can get a tad introspective at conferences like EWBC, so it is great to get the opportunity to broaden ones horizons out in the field, or terroir, if you will.  A trip to see how cork is produced was, inevitably, sponsored by Amorim, who almost silently supply one quarter of the world’s natural wine closures.  A heavyweight, if there were ever such a thing, in the cork world.

It's a rat trap, Billy - oh hang on, no, it's a horse and trap


Hank Marvin in the UK?

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

If you eat out in the UK you might be interested in a new website aimed right atcha… Here is the press release:

An online portal, which brings people with a passion for food together to share their dining out experiences, has been launched. iStarvin, a site that combines the convenience of a restaurant directory with in-depth content and eye-catching photos, connects individuals with an interest in food and dining, allowing them to follow each other’s activity or seek recommendations for a special occasion.

Unlike the launch of many of their competitors, iStarvin has already done an adept job of creating a highly comprehensive restaurant directory.  There are few, if any reviews yet, and there are one or two website glitches, but it looks like a great start.  Clearly they hope to create a community to contribute insights and recommendations, but the business model relies on restaurateurs taking the opportunity to embellish the offer (for a price) and include, for example, the facility to book tables online.  Like any advertising model this depends on Muggles like me and you using the service.

Being a mobile kind of guy, I rarely search a website unless it is apped up.  I am getting increasingly dissatisfied with Urbanspoon, Opentable, and AroundMe, so I hope that when iStarvin launches the iPhone app, it will be a truffle amongst mushrooms.

This is a well worn business model with no clear leader so I admire iStarvin’s balls in entering the market.  Having said that, they have learnt from their competitors’ mistakes and it looks to be the best attempt yet from a consumer perspective (and that is the critical success factor).

iStarvin is using social media well to publicise the new site.  I learned of it on Twitter from the excellently erudite Oliver Thring, one of the many food bloggers I met at EWBC.  If you are a foodie, you should also follow Niamh, Chris, Lizzie and Douglas, charming chaps and chappesses all.

Exhibition Pauillac – from veg to meat

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

At £17.50, this must one of the bargains of the whole wine world.  The catch is that you have to be a member of the Wine Society.  But don’t worry, they let anyone in these days.  You don’t need to roll up one trouser leg and hop through the door like when I joined.  No entrance exam, you don’t need to know anything about wine.  You can even have an empty bank account, as it is one of the best value (only budgies go cheap) wine retailers in the UK.

With its rich history and extensive storage, frequent offers of interesting, old, and remarkably priced wines regularly appear in my email inbox.  I have neither the storage space, nor stomach capacity, or indeed material wealth to buy them all so I am extremely selective.

Pauillac from the Gods of wine...for some reason