Archive for the ‘australia’ Category

Pauletts Polish Hill River Riesling 2007

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

Last year I did a virtual world tour of Pinot Noirs.  I enjoyed it very much but after several barnyard runs, I decided I wanted to be unfaithful and try another grape.

On the basis of the majority opinion of serious wine commentators I chose Riesling, but I have not been quite as enthused as I was by the Brigitte Bardot of the grape world.

Spit and polish

I tried comparing Riesling to the new mini – refined, exciting, reminiscent of the past, and better made by Germans.  But I would like to retract that statement and simultaneously upset many wine purists, because my experience says wines from the noble Riesling grape are better built by Australians.

Take Pauletts, Polish Hill River from Clare Valley.  I picked it up from Majestic at only £9.99 – cheaper than your average German.  Grapefruit, melon, a touch of marzipan and a sliver of ginger root.  Like many Rieslings, it goes superbly well with Thai food and, after all, Thailand is closer to Australia than Germany (I think).  So this logical reasoning is indisputable proof that criminals make better Riesling.  I’m sure Dr Spock would agree.

So maybe Riesling is the Ten Pound Pom of grapes:  Cheap, well travelled, classless, and ultimately better off in Australia.

Wolf Blass Red Label 2006 Shiraz Cabernet

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

As I stare at the bottle and write this, I have no idea how much the wine costs, nor how well reputed it is.  I have not read the label on the back and I have no record where I got it from (presumably a present then).

Wolf Blass and a pedal bin....for some reason

It is always interesting to attempt to not be swayed by a label, but given a Château Lafite 1787 and an Echo Falls Merlot in each other’s bottles would I notice?  I might rate the sickly lifestyle brand, with almost certainly the British & Commonwealth record for slowest and most annoying website ever, the best wine.  Maybe I am a Label Mabel.  A brand junkie.  Or just a marketing and packaging enthusiast?

My prejudices say this wine is cheap.  The colour is dark and much too purple.  The taste is jammy.  Specifically blackcurrant with a wipe of strawberry.  There is also something tangy and sharp.  But actually I quite like it.  At 13.5% not as blockbusting super-jammo as I feared.  Yes, quite tasty.  I think it would compare favourably to a £7.50 Chilean Cabernet.

So how much is it then?  Off to Google. have it for £6.17 a bottle (in cases of 6).  That sounds fair.  Bit better than a cheapy, not in the same class as a 10 quider but drinkable with the right food – in this case Marmite on white toast is the perfect match.

Blackford Estate Reisling, 2007

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

More from my latest virtual world tour – Riesling.  A grape I know little about, but grown up winos tell me is one of the most important in the wine world.  So I better start cramming.

Blackford Estate - isn't that what Henry Ford made?

And when I say cramming, I probably mean squeezing every last drop into my capacious gastrointestinal wine canal.

This wine is not like the German Rieslings I have tasted recently.  Quite dry and a touch of sherbet in the taste with possibly some peach and grapefruit.  Zingy and refreshing.  Hints of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc?

Whisper it in case the purists hear.  I find Aussie Rieslings rather good, and generally better priced than the statuesque Germans that have so far been cleansed by my kidneys.

I got this one from Virgin Wines at £7.07.

Pirie Estate Pinot Noir 2005

Monday, December 8th, 2008

It’s amazing what you can find through Google.  I typed in Ivy Gestapo and found my website top of the list!  Freixenet pronunciation is another phrase that puts me top, Prezzo Thame is not bad, neither is Cloudy Bay 2007.  Finally, if you are truly bored, try wine combine harvester, another everyday search string that finds my site.

Finding good wine, however, sometimes takes a little more effort.  I made a trip out to Majestic in Leeds and picked up this Tasmanian devil for £14.99.

Pirie Estate - a Tasmanian Devil?


Leeds Restaurant Awards 2008

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

I was kindly invited by the Queen’s Hotel to the Let’s Eat Leeds Leeds Restaurant Awards on 10 November, where I feel the awards counted on public or members’ votes were more representative of my views than those awards chosen by judges and “experts”.  But then again, I am probably a little out of touch with the Leeds scene and really ought to go out more often in this fine city.


Drop of Eden Valley to drown my sorrows

Friday, October 31st, 2008

When my flat was constructed in 2006, at the peak of the city centre building boom in Manchester, decent workmen were hard to find, or so it seems.  One employee of venerable but notorious subcontractors, Boddgit and Scarper, found a new use for 4 inch nails:  Namely to use them not only to station a roughly fitted cupboard shelf but also to make an elegant, if unnecessary, belly button piercing in the hot water pipe that feeds the kitchen tap.

It is a miracle that this did not result in a visible leak until late summer of 2008.  The nail finally rusted away and now most of the hall floor, skirting and cupboard wall has been temporarily removed, whilst a dehumidifier is valiantly trying to soak up the excess “moisture” like a digital sponge.

I often find that Aussie Shirai (I assume that is the plural of Shiraz) are a bit drying in the mouth, so I don’t drink anywhere near the amount of down under wines that I should.  I am not about to launch a flood of reviews but let’s try to redress the balance one drip at a time eh?  A drop of Eden Valley “The Saviours” 2003 had been sitting in my rack for a while.  I needed something to take my mind off things.

Mmmmm nice legs - that's what 14.5% alcohol does to you...


Lots of Rhubarb but no lamb

Monday, August 25th, 2008

We met Jeffo and (pregnant) Michele in Didsbury (Manchester) for Sunday lunch.  Jeffo knows these parts well and had tasted his “best lamb ever” at a place on Burton Road – Rhubarb.

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...

It was small and well packed with tables, but pretty full of happy looking customers.  A bistro type atmosphere but with the warming sense that you are visiting old friends.

We rejected the Sunday lunch special menu in favour of the à la carte.  We were only there for one dish, “is the rump of spring lamb on?” Jeff enquired and was advised that we could order anything from the menu.  So we ordered lamb all round.


Cape Mentelle 2007

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Going Mentelle...for some reason

It is no secret that I am one of the remaining few who still enjoys a glass of Cloudy Bay, the “iconic”, yet some say over-priced, fire-starter of the Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc phenomenon, even though they “sold out” to LVMH and revered founder, David Hohnen, left in 2003.

Strange then that I have never tried any of the wines of Hohnen’s other famous former enterprise, Cape Mentelle, from Australia’s Margaret River.

Being a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, as opposed to the pure SB of Cloudy Bay adds a softness to the wine.  Less of the gooseberry and rhubarb of Cloudy Bay and just a touch of honey and pear thrown into the mix.  Less acidic and therefore perhaps suited to a range of foods.

I really like it but like Cloudy Bay, it is not so cheap.  I got this from Majestic at £11.99.

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