Archive for the ‘Spain and Portugal’ Category

Cervecería Catalana, Barcelona

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Sometimes a place is so impossibly, aspirationally, unattainably trendy that it is patronised by as many local dignitaries as international jetsetters, playboys and porn stars, and so in vogue that it sustains a shoe shine guy outside. Cervecería Catalana is such a place, that had been recommended by a quite well renowned chef from Barcelona (no, not that one). There was an hour and a half wait on the evening I went. So we decamped and came back for lunch the next day when the clientèle were nowhere near as cool, but at least we could bag a table.


Luis Cañas Amaren Rioja Reserva, 2001

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

I once returned 5 badly corked bottles of Luis Cañas to the Sunday Times Wine Club, one by one.  The poor call centre staff, on seeing my number, started greeting me with “your usual complaint, Mr Bathgate?”.  They had a point.  I had only ordered half a case.  But, fair play to them, they refunded every bottle.

And that meant that ordering Luis Cañas again was not scary, not even from the same merchant.

Mind you, I still opened this bottle with a little trepidation, as my Tesco pizza frazzled in the oven.  It cost me about £20 after all, having arrived as part of a President’s Cellar selection from the STWC.

At first it was a shade bitter but, no worries.  After a bit of air, all the smoothness of the 18 months of oak ageing came through and the wine revealed its fruity, mellow underbelly.  A Spanish wine that tastes more like a Bordeaux and yet goes marvellously with spicy pizza?  That has to be worth £20.

Foxtrot Oscar, Chelsea

Monday, May 16th, 2011

When I visit London at weekends I like to scoff a proper Sunday lunch.  Whether I take Champagne as an aperitif depends on whether my team has won or lost.  On the occasion of 15 May 2011, I lunched at Foxtrot Oscar and the fizz, Raspberry Bellini, (OK I know it is Prosecco, not Champagne) was to celebrate rather than commiserate for a change.  After a 35 year “hiatus”, Man City won a trophy, the FA Cup.  And yet, I then went on to drink RED wine.  And on the day after a certain team from East Lancashire won the Premier League!


Malumbres Rosado, 2009

Friday, November 5th, 2010

I have pondered, on increasingly rare occasions in my curmudgeonly middle age, whether to write about poor wines.  It is hardly constructive.  There is at least one theory that says make positive comments public and keep negative ones private.

But this website is my own personal record that I rely on for my own future advice.  So I reckon it is OK to report wines that I really don’t get on with.  Otherwise I might buy them again in the future, at my own cost.

Malumbres 2009 came to me as part of an end of season mixed rosé case from my most dependable supplier, The Wine Society.  Here, in England, we have experienced an Indian summer, at least in terms of temperature.  I was in London today – early November and 16° C!  That would have charmed June in the 1970’s (OK, 1976 excepted).

But this Spanish wine, that should boast of bull fighting and castanets and taste of sunshine actually couldn’t even outshine a (burnt) microwave massacre# pizza from Sainsbury.  Lacking in acidity and fruit, it reminded me of the place I once worked: The 3 B’s:  Bitter, bland and burnt.

Note to self:  When you look back at this post-senility, BBBs stood for Bradford & Bingley Building Society.  Like Accrington Stanley, who are they?  Precisely…

# Following on from the Sainsbury Basics and, Taste the Difference ranges, Microwave Massacre is the latest Sainsbury lifestyle brand.  Or at least that is my prediction for 2011.

Mi Casa, San Juan, Alicante

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Finding it is a bit like going to a rave.  First, you need to know a local hombre to get the number.  On tinkling, you are directed to another telephone box to wait for a call.  Then, like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn, a taxi appears to pick you up from Alicante town centre and you are driven 20 minutes up the coast, blindfolded.

This sort of experience excites the hell out of me and has my salivary glands pissing like a Dutch dyke.


La Taberna del Gourmet, Alicante

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The hyper-observant of you will notice that there is a sex shop a couple of doors up from this back street tapas joint.  When I sat down to eat at La Taberna del Gourmet recently, I started to wonder whether “Pikante” might offer better value, and possibly have more edible items for sale.


Xe Que Bó, Alicante Marina

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Sometimes the seedy looking places turn out to be greatest.  When walking along a Spanish seafront a good tip is to choose the place that has the most punters irrespective of decor or appearance.  Xe Que Bó, Alicante Marina is just one of those places.  It looks tackier than a Leeds nightclub carpet, but the food is fab.


Galvin at Windows, London

Friday, May 28th, 2010

I think I am addicted to capital haute cuisine. First I tried the 40th floor of the Gherkin.  Then the revolving 34th floor of the BT Tower. Recently I have stooped, metaphorically, to the 28th floor of one of the ugliest buildings in London:  The Hilton, Park Lane, but probably the one with the finest, or at least poshest, view.


Carra Valseca 2004 Rioja Reserva

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

2004 was, by most commentators, considered to be a good year in Rioja, and Laguardia might be the prettiest village in all of Northern Spain.  So this wine has two things going for it already.


Marqués de Riscal Reserva 2004

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Marqués de Riscal is getting older by the day.  When I reviewed the 2003 eighteen months ago, the bottle pronounced that the Bodegas was founded in 1860.  In this latest 2004 release, two new years have been discovered.  It’s a bit like Joan Collins in reverse.  Wine must be the only field in which the older you are, the more attractive you become.

This Rioja is cookin!