Archive for March, 2010

La Chapelle de Romanin 2004

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Les Baux-de-Provence is not a place I have ever visited.  But it has just blasted its way up my desirable-where-to-do-dégustation-in-France list, purely based on this wine, which is one of the most delicious reds I have tasted in a long time.


WART reaches Ottawa

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Seems I am not the only one complaining about wine temperature in restaurants.  I’ve just read this interesting article in the Ottawa Citizen.  Rightly moaning about red wines left on an open shelf for “decoration”.  I hope the writer meant 20° Celsius, not Fahrenheit.  I know Canadians are tougher than most but 12 below freezing is a pretty cool ambient temperature for a restaurant.

Maybe they should join my Facebook Wine At Right Temperature Campaign.

Mahi 2009 Sauvignon Blanc

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I spend far too much of what economists laughingly call my “disposable” income on wine.  I also buy more shoes than I can reasonably polish.  I like to think of it as keeping in touch with my feminine side.

Imagine my delight then, when I discovered that Oliver Sweeney has been bought out of administration!  I haven’t purchased a pair for a couple of years (but still own numerous), so maybe I am in some small way responsible for their near demise.  Mind you my temporary desertion of my favourite footwear brand was not purely for economic reasons.  I thought the designs lost their way.  Brands are about consistency of product, not advertising.  Any clever agency can get you to try a product once but loyalty is expressed in repeat sales and recommendations, which only come from over-delivery of the promise.

You could consider wines to be micro brands and I was not that impressed by the product quality of a 2008 Mahi Pinot Noir.  Will the Sauvignon Blanc resole my trust, or leave me with a hole in my shoe?


Petit Verdot par Preignes 2005

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I’ve been exploring the wines of South West France recently.  Well, not so much exploring as gnat’s chuffing.  After being priced out of most Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone “offers” – I can’t work out why prices are still so high despite a decent recession – my bank manager wrote me a letter saying that he didn’t expect to see wine as a line item on my request for an overdraft when writing to explain why my household budget does not balance.


Mahi Pinot Noir, 2008

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

You have to admire the Kiwis.  They took on the French at Sauvignon Blanc and won.  Then they turned their attention to the battle of the Pinot Noir.  This most fickle of grapes, like Brigitte Bardot, promises so much yet regularly delivers no more than a handkerchief full of jizz.

Realising that Burgundy Pinots have almost impenetrable reputations, New Zealand winemakers took a radical stance.  Screwcap closures combined with young drinkable zingy wines were palatable in both flavour and fashion.  This meant prices vied with Ugg Boots for the captain of the Fashion Victim Rest of the World XI, whilst production and maturation costs were relatively low.  Still innovation pays, or ought to.

The label on this wine explains that it was bottled “unfiltered”.  A better description might be “cloudy” and not in the “bay” sense.

Maybe this is just a faulty bottle.  It didn’t taste awful, but then again it fell way short of remarkable and certainly not worth the £18 The Wine Society sent a congratulatory letter of thanks to my bank manager for.

I have another bottle somewhere – I will try that and report back.

Berry Brothers? There’s an app for that!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

It is reassuring, in a Savile Row tailor sense, to see that after 311 years of tradition, Berry Bros & Rudd is innovating.  There has been a technology EXPLOSION recently with a well constructed and very readable blog, a whizzy website and now an iPhone app.

As an iPhone addict, who gets frustrated at not even being able to delete an email whilst on the tube, it is refreshing to see that the app is available offline.

It’s a must-have for wine geeks.  For example, if you want to check the retail price of an overpriced bottle in Gaucho Grill, you can do so discreetly, under the table, and then argue righteously and indignantly with the waiter about how you object to being fleeced by a two bit South American theme park (that happens to serve great steaks).

Then again, BBR has a disappointing range of Argentineans – a mere nine wines (compared to 190 champagnes and 391 clarets).  And if you actually want to order a wine you have to go to the BBR website – but this is a small complaint that I feel sure they will resolve in good time.  Hopefully not another 311 years.

Selfridges Wonder Bar

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

A recent Sunday lunch in London lead to a worrying discovery.  My favourite haunt for a wine aperitif, 1707 Wine Bar in Fortnum and Mason basement, no longer opens on Sunday.

Forced into trying somewhere new, the Ritz doormen, just along Piccadilly took exception to my smart jeans (yet they tolerate Michael Winner).  The Wolseley had welcomed us the day before (and warned me not to darken their door again in a rush).  And picking on someone nearer my own age, Madonna’s ex-local didn’t appeal.  I wanted wine.

In a frustrated fit of anxiety (that I would have to go to lunch without a wine warm-up) I remembered Selfridges, a mere 10 minute stroll up Park Lane.


Araldica Barbera D’Asti 2006

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

This one does exactly what it says on the tin:  black cherries, spice, mint, plums.  It’s like chewing gum and walking….through a French orchard on a wet autumn day.

It cost me £9.99 from Virgin and is one of the better ten quid bottles from their stable.

Serve cool (not cold).  It accentuates the mint.  The perfect antidote for drab football matches, and a great partner for pizza.

Lickfold Inn, Surrey

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Forgive the personal indulgence but this weblog is, in many ways, a record of my life, albeit told in the hazy after-mists of empty wine bottles.  For a small portion of it, as a toddler in the 1960’s, I lived in a Surrey pub run by my grand-parents, Marjorie and Douglas.  In those dim and distant days that I barely remember, it was called The Three Horseshoes – a fine pub name.

In more recent years it has passed through the hands of various do-wells including rock band managers and most latterly the self-proclaimed national alarm clock for the UK – fellow Mancunian* and Radio 2 DJ, Chris Evans.

Since my mum’s grave is just down the road in trendy (well in 1460 it was trendy) Lodsworth, where she is one of the most lively residents, I like to visit the Lickfold Inn occasionally, to keep an eye on the ghosts…and the food….and the wines….and the spirits.


Clos la Coutale, Cahors 2007

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I’ve just been dribbling all over the en-primeur Burgundy 2008 catalogue from the Wine Society.  I lined up a number of superbly priced selections and my wobbly knees were barely capable of carrying me to the computer to place an order.

In a year that, according to most commentators was variable at best, it looked like les escargots had marked their prices down to reasonable levels.  Then a prickly heat rose through my knees, groin, heart and ended in a face flush.  The values were for half cases.  Oh well, I am priced out again, so the catalogue was filed under B, for bin.

If, like me, you are a “W” man, and you fully expect the return of the recession (as soon as interest rates start creeping up again) then you could do worse than explore some cheaper areas of the home of wine.  South West France seems particularly good value.

This Cahors red is made from the Malbec grape, but the taste reminds me more of Carmenère.  Smoky autumn bonfires, apple and pear crumble, a touch of raspberry.  Perfect for a cold night in with a steak when you need to impress (or apologise to) your loved one.

Cost me £7.25 from the Wine Society.