Archive for the ‘Austria and Germany’ Category

The Star at Harome, North Yorkshire

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

If there’s one thing better than a pint of Black Sheep, it’s a pint of Black Sheep served in a cosy warm Yorkshire pub, after a long Sunday morning walk on the moors.

The Star at Harome is just such a warming and friendly establishment but with the added bonus of being a restaurant that serves game, fish and fine wines. Oh and it has won just about every “best gastro pub” award going including, at one point, a Michelin star. It’s grouse season and I might just be in heaven. I am going to pay a celestial price too, £111 (a Nelson) plus service is more than a trifle in this part of the world.

The Star at Harome


A brace of Blaufränkisch

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

I discovered two things about Austrian wine last year. Firstly that there are some amazingly good reds. Secondly, that sourcing them in the UK is like trying to find a Greek MP at a “Bring back the Drachma” rally. But at an Austrian wine tasting I attended in London this year, I was assured that all the couple of hundred or so wines, are available in the UK.

Until EWBC 2010, Vienna, I was a virgin to Blaufränkisch, a grape that frequently makes Pinot Noir style wines – smooth, fruity, and deliciously drinkable. I have now tasted enough to know that it is nearly always a good choice when eating out in Austria and, if you can find it in the UK, a serious alternative to certain Burgundies (albeit frequently almost as expensive). I thought I would call out a couple to remind myself to look out for them.


Café Landtmann, Vienna

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

A free day in Vienna and a hatful of recommendations for lunch, many of which were either closed or impossible to find.  My iPhone had given up on data so my life-raft (Google maps) was not the usual powerful tool in my weaponry. Relying on analogue techniques from ancient history: Metro maps, street plans and gut feel, I stumbled across a very posh place next to the KK Hofburg Theater.


A Naked, Virgin tale

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I’ve just placed my first order with Naked Wines.  Is this news?  Not really, I suppose, but the strange thing is the reason why.  Naked has persistently pestered me, offered free samples, discounts and special offers and I have resisted for over a year.

I attended EWBC 2010 and witnessed something very interesting.  Naked founder, Rowan Gormley,  (fortunately wearing clothes in front of several hundred people) standing side by side with Willi Klinger of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, a top guy by any standard, running a mass taste-off between 11 Austrian Wines.


Austrian wine could invade Europe (finally)…!

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

If you are at the intersection of wine and social media, then you were probably at EWBC 2010 in Vienna this October.

It’s a diverse and eclectic group of folk: Wine-makers, journalists, blog authors, wine educators, PR people, sponsors.  All have their own reasons for attending.  Mine are manifold but the two most important are to meet really interesting people and to learn about really interesting wines.

Partly due to my own ignorance, and partly due to the lack of wines available in the UK, Austria has been a bit of a blind spot for me. The best I could say of most Austrian wines is that they broke the spellchecker.  However, in a 3 day blitzkrieg of wine tastings I learnt that Austria has so much more to offer the world than Grüner Veltliner (not that ‘Gruvee’ itself is boring or ubiquitous).

I write this to capture a few favourites and, if I may, offer a few suggestions to the rare few amongst you with even less Austrian wine experience than me. These were some of the wines that torpedoed my subs…


Domæne Gobelsburg, 2008 Grüner Veltliner

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

If I had grown a micron for every penis extension product I have been offered by email in the last 12 months, I would now have King Dong trembling in flaccid anxiety.

Equally, offers for Viagra, “Rolex” watches, non-study MBAs and Nigerian dollar inheritances are starting to wear a bit thin.

Domæne Gobelsburg, 2008 is made from the “latest grape”, Grüner Veltliner.  Trouble is, I have been hearing this for yonks.  Who cares?


Winninger Uhlen Riesling Kabinett von Heddesdorff 2007

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Germans never use three letters when it is possible to craft a word from three k’s, four ch’s and at least two consecutive f’s.  W also features prominently.  Perhaps it was a German who extended the short form “world wide web” into the excessive and unnecessary “www”, possibly the only acronym with three times as many syllables as its original “long” form.

Perhaps it belies a Teutonic predilection for taking more time than is sensible in the name of quality, or detail at least, and if this applies to winemaking, this may explain some of the prices of German Rieslings I have seen recently.  And I bought most of mine before Sterling/Euro parity played havoc with my holiday plans.  I don’t suppose Angela Merkel would have welcomed me to her country anyway, given her views on Gordon Brown’s “world saving” economic initiatives.

Winningest Riesling?


Two Rieslings in Liverpool

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Invited over to Darryl and Jayne’s for a bit of Scouse spicy scram and a few bottles of wine, Darryl was not surprised to see me turn up with a couple of bottles of Riesling.

Our mutual mate, Tony, calls Riesling sugary shite but that is unsurprising from a man whose wine sophistication is measured by the fact that he thinks Beaujolais should be served at 25 degrees centigrade.


Kanzem Altenburg 2007 Riesling

Monday, November 10th, 2008

I’ve held my tongue for a while.  I don’t want to sound like yet another whinger that told you so, but I was never in favour of Mark Hughes being appointed manager of Man City.  I admit that I reneged on my promise to turn up at the first game of this season and shout the Sven mantra.  I actually turned up at Eastlands yesterday to see Man City suffer a humiliating 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, albeit after some questionable refereeing and grim Manchester weather.

But whilst luck and refereeing even out over a season, we have a number of more fundamental weaknesses.  Dunne is looking disastrous, Vassell is just not in the same class as his team-mates, Zabaleta still has to convince me he is even close to Corluka who left for Spurs in August.  Worryingly I hear rumours that Hughes’ intentions of splashing the Abu Dhabi cash in the January transfer window are targeted at a handful of his Blackburn ex-employees.  The ones who helped him reach the astonishing heights of mid table obscurity, admittedly at low cost.

Sometimes, though, if you have the money, you need to aim a bit higher.  I am not exactly rich so it was a stretch for me to fork out £21 to the Wine Society for this Kanzem Altenberg Alte Reben Riesling Spätlese, von Othegraven, 2007 from the Mosel.  A mouthful in every sense…


The new Full Monty – it’s Riesling!

Friday, August 29th, 2008

I went to the opening night of Les Puddings Noir (sic) at Manchester’s Library Theatre.  I have seen so many good productions there.  For such a small theatre it is so innovative and interesting, but this was an amateur dramatic company (MAD).  However, whilst expectations were low, I had a funny feeling that it might be a laugh.

Many have tried and failed to make fun of Lancashire haute-cuisine, and the black pudding from Bury used to be the butt of Bill Oddie, uhm, I mean the butt of jokes by Bill Oddie.  Butt nowadays you can find this modern day delicacy in restaurants the world over – Ecky Thump!

Because it was the first night of an amateur production, of course the audience was full of family and friends.  A credits VT rolled to announce the play with rapturous applause for every actor (many were kids).  As complete neutrals, we thought it would be fun to whoop and holler at random names.  I wonder if it spooked them – there were a couple of ropey performances.  But on the whole, the production was a stupendous hit.  At the curtain the crowd went wild and rightly so.  My sides ached, and my eyes watered, and my black pudding swelled.  I predict that this will be a worldwide hit one day soon, and movie rights are likely to be worth more than the Full Monty.

Funnily enough, a local (Bury) butcher had taken the opportunity to give away free black puddings – step forward Chadwick’s Original.  Tonight I sampled the black pudding (sliced, gently fried in olive oil with an egg) and it was as good as the show named after it.  The best black pudding I have ever eaten and all the tastier for being slightly, albeit accidentally, burnt.

So choosing a wine to go with it was a problem.  I have been on a world tour of Pinot Noirs recently, to the boredom of many, and I have been thinking of moving on.  I have a secret desire to try a few Rieslings but I know so little about the grape.

I like the idea that the 1997 Rheingau Kabinett I found in the fridge was only 9%.  Very light and drinkable.  I also found it fruity and with a sweetness that complements black pudding in the way that a well delivered line sweetens a sour script.

Les Puddings Noir was mostly well delivered.  The two teenage mums (played by Alana Thornton and the awesome Danielle Wrigley) were only marginally eclipsed by James Creer’s hilarious French maid.  The writing was the real star, though.