Fabre Montmayou 2008 Torrontés

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I’ve sacked Mybloglog.  What is the point when Facebook (you see, no need to provide a hyperlink) is taking over every social interaction on the web.  I like to think that LinkedIn looks after business interaction, but Facebook’s success in the social space has undoubtedly been due to its open platform.

Fabre, Sabre, Labia, Quaver - but in the end a good match for Beans On!


River Plate Steakhouse, Leeds

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

As taste sensations go, there is little to beat a hunk of well seasoned Argentinian beef, chargrilled and accompanied by a glass of decent Malbec.  Chewing on the salty, aged and bloody meat causes a tingling in your gums as if a bovine mouthwash.   This then undergoes some kind of chemical reaction with the deep, moody, spicy wine that leaves you digesting the meal for a whole week.  Sharp pangs – taste reminders – keep haunting you like salivating ghosts of taste past that make you press your teeth together in muscle memory.

River Plate - not exactly a stadium!

As Argentinian steakhouses go, The Gaucho Grill takes the biscuit.  Not only for great steaks with superb ghost potential, but also for awesome (by which I mean sky high) wine prices.  Markups of over 300% are commonplace.  That is four times the retail price and presumably they pay the importer much less!  Is there a venue which matches the steak quality and authenticity, but where the only fleecing is associated with an occasional lamb chop?

In Leeds, a place I dine all too rarely these days, River Plate has appeared on the site once known as the Calls Grill.  The menu looked pretty similar to Gaucho but, to be frank, the wine list looked cheap!


Virgin wine sale climaxes too early

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I was planning to tell you about another stonking January wine offer.

You might recall my review of Landelia 2005 Malbec last March where I was a Virgin’s thong away from apologising for visible trouser stains.  I love the smooth chocolate and cherry flavours that slip from a glass of Malbec like a soulful line to the ladies from Theophilus T Wildebeest.

But Lenny Henry’s parody of Barry White probably lasts all night, or at any rate, longer than the Virgin Wines New Year sale.

I picked up six bottles of Landelia Malbec for £40.74, or £6.79 per bottle only a couple of weeks ago.

If you want some now, you have missed the boat.  The price is back to its original £8.49.  But even at this level, you would be naiive not to tuck a couple of bottles away, if only as an ingested alternative to Stud Delay.

Olive Tree, Chapel Allerton

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

When I wrote up my notes from the Leeds Restaurant Awards I was noodling why I didn’t spend more time in Leeds’ eateries.  Vowing to put that right, I looked up the programme from the event for some inspiration.  The Olive Tree was well represented and is a somewhat legendary Greek offering with three establishments in the Leeds area.  Not exactly ubiquity, but I generally avoid chains unless they are focussed, and this one is the Leica lens of Greek dining.


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”.

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...


Susana Balbo Crios Torrontés 2007

Monday, May 26th, 2008

When you hear a wine described as “balanced” what does it mean to you?

I unscrewed this bottle of Torrontés and drank most of it before reading the back of the label.  Before opening, I knew that it was made by Susana Balbo one of my favourite Argie producers.  I knew that the wine came from Majestic and retails at £6.99.  I knew that it had a pretty label and came in the usual gargantuan bottles that are trademarks of the land of diminutive Eva Perón.  I am convinced that the bottles used by Dominio del Plata are almost as big as Evita and probably have clocked up more air miles per kilo.

After reading the label I now feel much wiser, because I know that “Crios” means “offspring”.  I know that Torrontés is Argentina’s uniquely aromatic grape, and that it is similar to Viognier with the dry crisp taste of Sauvignon Blanc.  The final interesting fact I took on board was that no oak was used in ageing the wine.  Oh, and just to cram just one more sliver of semi-useful intelligence into my puddled brain, that the wine displays excellent “balance”.

Not creosote - Crios....


Colibri Torrontes 2007 Famatina Valley

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

My first experience of buying from the Virgin Wines auction site left me with a case of total tosh to distribute discretely amongst my sorry mates.

But I bravely (some would say foolishly) tried again and this time things look more promising.  This one came from a case of All White Delights and I successfully bid less than £50 including delivery!

Colibri - diversified from cigarette lighters into wine….for some reason

I am a fan of Argie wines – Malbec and Torrontés are my favourites.  The Colibri was typical of other Torrontés I have tried with lime, kiwi and rich apricot flavours.  Simple and unpretentious, I like it.

The insipid colour was paler than an albino’s bikini line, but it is a lively, zingy and decent (but cheaper) alternative to Sauvignon Blancs.  It ticks all the boxes for me.

Landelia Malbec, 2005

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Maybe Rowan Gormley took offence at my assessment of Virgin Wines as good for everyday glugging because he dropped me an email suggesting that I try something more serious from the Virgin stable.  I already have problems with my neighbours over a Leylandii hedge, so being an anagrammatic sort of a guy, this Landelia sounded appealing.  And in any case, since I am a sucker for pretty much any Argentinean Malbec, I had to try it.

Fast growing wine but is it neighbourly?


Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec 2005

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Two intertwined themes have weaved their antithetical spell through this weblog.  The positive one is my undying love of (well, admiration for) Malbec, especially from Argentina.  The negative, is my ongoing apprehension of the capability of Costco to buy, store, and sell decent wines.

Tonight I am brewing a cauldron full of controversy by mixing a finger of Malbec with leg of Costco, eye of newt and toe of frog.  Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…..

On the terrace (or balcony) - Malbec