Archive for the ‘south america’ Category

Gaucho Grill wine rip-off rages on

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I’ve written before about the rip-off wine mark-ups at the Gaucho Grill (branches in London and Manchester).

Although the wine is outrageously priced, I do pop in occasionally for a top class steak.  And so last week saw me in the Manchester restaurant.  I thought it would be interesting to revisit the wine prices.

In my post of March 2007, I benchmarked a bottle of Susana Balbo Malbec (excellent stuff) at an eye watering mark-up of 250%.  The bottle, available at the time from the Wine Society at £11.95, was marked up to £42.

Time to check out the latest prices.  I checked the Wine Society website and, fair play, it is in stock and still £11.95.  Inflation rate = 0%.

When I checked out the Gaucho Grill wine list, the price has inflated by a Graf Zeppelinistic 22.6% to £51.50.  This now makes the mark-up (against retail price, and one assumes that Gaucho can buy much cheaper) a groin kicking 331%.  By far the highest I have ever seen in any restaurant.

The matured meat may be superb, but I would rather cut my pupils out with a serrated steak knife, than pay these prices.

By all means eat at the Gaucho, but when it comes to wine, just say “NO”.

La Capitana Carmen̬re 2005 РBig Yellow Taxi

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

When I was a kid growing up in Cheadle Hulme, a post war suburb of Manchester, there were shops everywhere.  Within just 10 minutes walk of a fair sized shopping centre in the village, was another conurbation of shops based around the Kenilworth pub.  On one t-junction there was a chemist, a newsagent (RS McColl), a greengrocer, a post office, two bakers, two butchers (Breens’ and Pimlott’s), a toy shop (Playland), a Chinese takeaway, a Shell garage (gas station), a hardware shop, a small grocer and, rather bizarrely, a garden centre (Spreadboroughs – donkey’s years ahead of its time).

Thinking back, it’s amazing that we allowed Tesco and the other major supermarkets to put virtually all these businesses out of business.


Montes Python Noir 2006

Friday, September 5th, 2008

And now for something completely different.  I picked a few bottles up at the Leeds branch of Majestic recently (before the fire), including this Montes Pinot Noir for £7.99.  I wasn’t looking for the Spanish Inquisition, and fortunately I didn’t need my Hungarian phrase book.

Montes Python Pinot Noir?


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.


Veranda Reserve Pinot Noir 2007

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

I’ve been on a crusade recently, to try to persuade the public that white wine is almost always served too cold, whilst red wine is almost always too warm.  I have appealed to restaurateurs and bar owners to join my Wine At Right Temperature (WART) campaign, but every single one has responded that they are merely reflecting public demand and, in any case, displaying my helpful acronym in the window of their premises is hardly likely to invite custom.

This is a bit like saying that the media is a reflection of society, when most sane people admit that it plays a leading role in many circumstances, and as a minimum is quick to jump on any bandwagon as soon as it looks like there is any public support.  Take the current credit crunch.  The media, including respected sources like the BBC, are constantly talking the economy into a recession.  Soon enough, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Veranda....and a bottle of wine for some reason


Catena Malbec 2005

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

“Hey Al, cut to the chase!”  Uhm OK.

Catena has the usual smell I associate with Malbec – rich bitter chocolate and dark cherries.  Taste similar, possibly a touch of tomato ketchup too.  A super wave of contrasting and complementary flavours some spicy, some sweet - not sure how much value this complexity adds. At 13.5% very munchable, though, and I enjoyed it a lot.  Quite expensive but a great, if opulent, partner to beans on toast.

More Malbec and a lupin...for some reason

Imported by Bibendum (£11.95) and available at Majestic for £10.99, and Waitrose £10.44.

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….


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?


Alamos Malbec 2006

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Does hay fever stop you enjoying wine?  I’ve suffered since I was a teenager, not desperately badly, but some years are worse than others.  Sneezing is easy.  It’s the itchy eyes and the variety of streaming facial liquids that really irritate.

Normally I get it early, I look like a tear-jerk long before May is out, whether I have cast a clout or not.  This year has been great, so far.  I write this late June and have hardly seen a symptom.  But today I have a mild dose.  I keep anti-histamine tablets in reserve, in case of emergency.  I am a hypochondriac in many senses but I dislike medicine and avoid it as a policy….except when things get really bad.  I have taken no prisoners, er pills, this year but I was tempted tonight.

I poured a glass of Alamos Malbec and took a sniff.  Snchoooooooorrrrrrggggghhhhhh!  No smell.  Just a loud nasal fart.

Davy Crockett wine?  Alamos Malbec...


Errazuriz Carmenère 2007

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

I’ve tried a few Chilean Carmenères now, and there is an emerging theme.  If I could can the essence of a real wood and coal fire pumping smoke out of an English country chimney in 1974…’s a vivid memory jogger!

Errazuriz - a mouthful in every sense...