Pitchfork Semillon Sauvignon 2012

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

I told the guy in Latitude, Leeds, that I love white Bordeaux, and had a party coming up, but I didn’t want to break the bank and spoil the neighbours. He recommended this Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River, Australia.

It’s crisp, yet smooth, rich and creamy, like an apple tart with custard and a dribble of honey. Latitude sold me this for £11.25 and, for that dosh, it beats most Bordeaux I’ve tried at the price point. Highly recommended. Remember WART rules and serve at the temperature of an oaked Chardonnay – about 10-12ºC (at least half an hour out of the fridge).

And for any of my lovely neighbours reading this, I was only joking. I’ve just received a shipment of Echo Falls for you. I’ll be keeping the Pitchfork for myself.

Pitchfork, Margaret River

Spring in Amsterdam (The Restaurant)

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Situated in a lovely part of Amsterdam with a village feel that reminds me of certain parts of New York and London (but with more canals and lower rise buildings), Fred had telephoned ahead to strong-arm them into giving us a good table (on account of it being my birthday).  They delivered on that front, with the best table in the house in the corner of the window.  But did the food and wine follow suit?


Lucy’s, Bowness on Windermere

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

The business card for Lucy’s carries the tagline “share in the experience”.  Oh dear, looks like I’m washing up again…


Yering Frog Pinot Noir 2007

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

OK, firstly a surprising admission.  I have finally found it in my heart to give those blasted Aussies credit for something more than being reasonably adept at cricket.

Hotdog, Yering Frog, Albuquerque?


Majella Sparkling Shiraz

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Red sparkler?  Are you having a laugh?

Majella 2004

When I poured this Shiraz from the Lynn family in Coonawarra, it held all the promise of a Heston Blumenthal raspberry sorbet.  Alive fizzy and erm…raspberry coloured.

But it disappointed badly. A heavy wine with some cherry and banana but slightly stale like old cornflakes.

Champagne is about sparkling clarity.  The sort of brightness that streams in through your bedroom window on a Sunday morning in August, when a little bit of bedroom gymnastics is on the cards.

This was dull as dishwater and wouldn’t have even made a Chippendale stand to attention.  However, in fairness, I think it is simply past its best.  My mate JJ who graciously brought it over (and hopefully doesn’t mind me writing so ungraciously about it) has probably stored it in an airing cupboard for a few years which, one assumes, might not have helped.

I’ll try another (younger) bottle one day.

Hardy’s Varietal Range Chardonnay 2007

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

It is all too easy to be sniffy about the major wine brands when you’ve had your nose in the books of Parker and Robinson.  But have you tried anything from Chilean producer Concha y Toro lately?  Or the sub brands Cono Sur and Casillero del Diablo?  Interesting stuff and generally high quality, but in the UK, I remember the Australians as being first in the queue to bring wine to the proletariat via supermarket and pub alike.

Aside from the ubiquitous Jacob’s Creek, I recall Hardy’s as being a brand leader. So when my neighbour, Peter, brought a bottle of Varietal Range Chardonnay round to my barbie, I was first insulted, then dismissive and finally intrigued.  Obviously, in Peter’s presence I sniffed at it, parked it in the corner and turned to open a bottle of something exclusive and French (albeit cheap and ropey).

Hardly Chardonnay...

Curiosity got the better of me this evening and I opened the bottle.


Tin Shed Wild Bunch Riesling 2004

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Most successful software is never the real deal until version 3.  This is the version that appeases the early, and even late majority, and therefore wins the market.  I have just downloaded the 3.0 operating system for my iPhone and it was worth the wait.

OS 2.0 had holes the size of moon craters.  If you own another brand I bet you can cut and paste.  I bet you can send multimedia messages.  I bet you can capture voice recording.  I bet you can remotely wipe your phone if it is stolen.  (OK this last one is fairly unique).  These yawning gaps have been filled in 3.0 and without having to download any more apps.  Need meteorite strike insurance?  There’s an app for that….

That having been said, the single greatest strength of the iPhone is that is has learnt, ironically from Microsoft, that to create a successful platform you have to create a community and allow them to expand your platform by building applications.  This happens much faster than you could ever build applications yourself so the usage of your platform spreads like wildfire.

Witness Steve Jobs who, a billion application downloads later, must be wondering if he will catch up Bill Gates in the software wealth stakes before the decade is out.

In honour, I was hoping to bring you a wine that tastes of apple, but this one is pure lemon.

Do you remember the war, sonny Jim?


Naked Wines – Ladies Shooting Greedy Sheep

Monday, April 20th, 2009

If you want to enter a declining market and make a meaningful dent then you better innovate.  Naked Wines is doing just that and gaining publicity by the jeroboam.

Rowan Gormley’s latest stunt was to hold a “crowd taste off” with AU$100,000 of Naked Wines purchase orders available to the winning wine makers.

The tasters were the 50 most active customers of Naked (fully clothed, I believe).  The winemakers were selected by The Government of South Australia and the Australian Trade Commission.  After rounds of tasting and price estimating, the final coup de théâtre was the winemakers themselves in a reverse auction to adjust their prices to see how much of the $100k they could take in orders.

Greedy sheep ate my hamster!

I managed to get my paws on three of the winners that will be going on sale via the Naked Wines website in the next few weeks:


Burnmore Reserve 2006 Semillon Chardonnay

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

If you like to listen to something achingly, teasingly left wing, politically correct, family friendly and yet, despite all that, extremely listenable, I can recommend The Chronicles of Modern Life by Henry Priestman.  Clearly I am not that left wing (although I am not 100% sure what that means these days) but I am over 40 and, if you are too, I defy you not to cast a wry smile at Henry’s astute observations on wrinkle gathering.

On the other hand, if you prefer to ignore the effects of ageing and address your sagging brow by drowning your sorrows, you probably drink too much Aussie Chardonnay.  I don’t drink anywhere enough so I was pleased to receive this Burnmore as part of a STWC crisp refreshing whites case (£60) several months ago.

Serious Burns unit - come my lairds and leiges for the cock a leekie is a coolin’

It is difficult to have high hopes of a wine that costs less than a fiver including shipping all the way from Oz.

As a Semillon Chardonnay blend, I suppose it is no surprise that it tastes like 10 parts St Veran and 1 part Sauternes.  Lemon and honey and much better than the price tag indicates.  If you happen to have a bottle in your cellar, I would drink it right now to see if it really will cure your wrinkly neck.

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.