Blackford Estate Reisling, 2007

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

More from my latest virtual world tour – Riesling.  A grape I know little about, but grown up winos tell me is one of the most important in the wine world.  So I better start cramming.

Blackford Estate - isn't that what Henry Ford made?

And when I say cramming, I probably mean squeezing every last drop into my capacious gastrointestinal wine canal.

This wine is not like the German Rieslings I have tasted recently.  Quite dry and a touch of sherbet in the taste with possibly some peach and grapefruit.  Zingy and refreshing.  Hints of a NZ Sauvignon Blanc?

Whisper it in case the purists hear.  I find Aussie Rieslings rather good, and generally better priced than the statuesque Germans that have so far been cleansed by my kidneys.

I got this one from Virgin Wines at £7.07.

Pirie Estate Pinot Noir 2005

Monday, December 8th, 2008

It’s amazing what you can find through Google.  I typed in Ivy Gestapo and found my website top of the list!  Freixenet pronunciation is another phrase that puts me top, Prezzo Thame is not bad, neither is Cloudy Bay 2007.  Finally, if you are truly bored, try wine combine harvester, another everyday search string that finds my site.

Finding good wine, however, sometimes takes a little more effort.  I made a trip out to Majestic in Leeds and picked up this Tasmanian devil for £14.99.

Pirie Estate - a Tasmanian Devil?


Drop of Eden Valley to drown my sorrows

Friday, October 31st, 2008

When my flat was constructed in 2006, at the peak of the city centre building boom in Manchester, decent workmen were hard to find, or so it seems.  One employee of venerable but notorious subcontractors, Boddgit and Scarper, found a new use for 4 inch nails:  Namely to use them not only to station a roughly fitted cupboard shelf but also to make an elegant, if unnecessary, belly button piercing in the hot water pipe that feeds the kitchen tap.

It is a miracle that this did not result in a visible leak until late summer of 2008.  The nail finally rusted away and now most of the hall floor, skirting and cupboard wall has been temporarily removed, whilst a dehumidifier is valiantly trying to soak up the excess “moisture” like a digital sponge.

I often find that Aussie Shirai (I assume that is the plural of Shiraz) are a bit drying in the mouth, so I don’t drink anywhere near the amount of down under wines that I should.  I am not about to launch a flood of reviews but let’s try to redress the balance one drip at a time eh?  A drop of Eden Valley “The Saviours” 2003 had been sitting in my rack for a while.  I needed something to take my mind off things.

Mmmmm nice legs - that's what 14.5% alcohol does to you...


Cape Mentelle 2007

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Going Mentelle...for some reason

It is no secret that I am one of the remaining few who still enjoys a glass of Cloudy Bay, the “iconic”, yet some say over-priced, fire-starter of the Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc phenomenon, even though they “sold out” to LVMH and revered founder, David Hohnen, left in 2003.

Strange then that I have never tried any of the wines of Hohnen’s other famous former enterprise, Cape Mentelle, from Australia’s Margaret River.

Being a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, as opposed to the pure SB of Cloudy Bay adds a softness to the wine.  Less of the gooseberry and rhubarb of Cloudy Bay and just a touch of honey and pear thrown into the mix.  Less acidic and therefore perhaps suited to a range of foods.

I really like it but like Cloudy Bay, it is not so cheap.  I got this from Majestic at £11.99.

Bailey’s Glenrowan 1904 Block Shiraz 2000

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

In the world of Australian Wine I bow to my insomniac mate Dr Edward, who I hope will comment on this post to put me straight.

I understand that Richard Bailey was an Aussie pioneer which, to an English Gent like me, roughly translates as a base criminal, or an opportunistic, albeit war weary, £10 Pom.  In fairness, the guy came from Manchester so was almost certainly a Man City fan and for that alone I respect him, crim or not.

I have never been to Van Diemen’s Land, a fact I regret.  But I did hear of one Pommie who arrived by air recently and, when asked by an Aussie customs official “Do you have a criminal record?”, could have selected a more diplomatic answer than “Sorry, no, do you still need one?”

Don\'t know what they\'re doing but they laugh a lot behind the teak doooo-or!


Cross my palm with Pensilva…

Monday, April 28th, 2008

I am quietly pleased that I have finally managed to get this weblog onto a new platform, a new ISP and new publishing software.  I am still using the excellent WordPress, but have upgraded to version 2.5.1.  My previous version (2.1) was error prone and insecure – spam was starting to appear in my scheduled posts!  I strongly recommend anyone using WordPress to upgrade.

The new WordPress platform is pretty good, but it is much less intuitive than I expected.  Loading and managing pictures for example, is in theory much easier, but in practice I think there are still a few bugs that need ironing out.  I can also see that many of the new improvements have been aimed at non-technical users like me.  However, as with all open source software, it is ultimately designed by techies who don’t quite understand how us Muggles think.

As with all software upgrades in my experience, the problems arise in the database conversion.  This is something to watch out for if you are moving up several WordPress versions in one go, like I did.  I had numerous problems that a friend with some SQL knowledge kindly sorted, in exchange for a couple of bottles from my inner cellar.

Can you hit the mark?

To celebrate my new platform I am drinking an unoaked Chardonnay from Virgin Wines.  Pensilva Estate The Cross 2006 Coonawarra Chardonnay is not what I expected.  Does it hit the bulls eye or should it merely be hung out on a crucifix to die?


Pappas vs GNER – it’s just not cricket

Friday, August 10th, 2007

England were playing India at Trentbridge so I thought I’d pop along with my mate Alan.  We spent the first half of the day waiting to see if any play was possible.  Even though we were in the ground, the only news was coming from the BBC website via my mobile phone.  By lunch we were fed up waiting so went outside to find a place to eat.

It’a another panoramic attempt - Trentbridge cricket ground this time

On Radcliffe Road we found a Greek-Cypriot eaterie – Pappas.  Founded by the fantastically named couple Christodoulos and Carol Papachristodoulou, surely this was going to be authentic and it was.


Fortnum & Mason flights of fancy

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The wine bar in the lower ground floor of F & M Foodhall on Piccadilly is so cool, and I’m not talking about the ambient temperature.  Staffed by a range of nationalities with a variety of experiences in wine.  Our Polish waiter, Artur Zarzycki “vaz early on hiz vine joornee” but seemed to know plenty despite his claimed one year of experience.  And he almost knew how to operate a camera!

Average camera-work but great wine (for some reason)

Queuing outside F & M on a Sunday at midday (the bloody shop opened late by about 2 minutes 30 seconds), because we had an hour to kill before our reservation at St Alban (more anon).  So, as all the restaurants and cafes in F & M were being refurbished, we dashed down to the wine bar “1707” where, for £23.90 (inc. service) we got to try a fantastic range of wines.  Who says the posh shops are expensive?


A Tasmanian Devil From the President’s Cellar

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Although I generally disapprove of pre-selected cases, I do subscribe to the President’s Cellar from Sunday Times Wine Club which pings me 6 bottles every 6 months at about £20 per bottle.

It does force me to explore wines that I would not otherwise choose and you probably know that I am not the greatest fan of Australian wine.

This bottle of Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir 2002 came to me a few years ago from Tasmania, via the President’s Cellar and was getting to drinking up time.  So I opened it.

Blockbusting Tamar Ridge….and a Gaggia coffee machine (for some reason)


Of Jam and Shiraz…

Friday, April 20th, 2007

When I turned 18 we did a sort of lad’s rite of passage thing.  Some guys did sickly things like inhaling a whole cigar.  Others did amateur self harm (but not on Iggy Pop’s scale).

The idea I most admired was the guy who ate a whole pot of jam.  This doesn’t sound very rock and roll does it?!  But have you ever tried it?  The first spoonful is delicious but by the time you are half way through the jar, it is getting sickly to the point of making you gip.  In that sense it’s a bit like drinking an Aussie Shiraz.