Catena Alta Malbec 2005

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

My 1986 Hand of God driven campaign to avoid everything from the land of Peron ended for two reasons.  Firstly, I finally forgave Maradona.  Lurching from national crisis to personal crisis, he cuts a sorry figure on the world football stage these days.  Secondly, Argentina produces some of my favourite wines and, at my age, there is little point in cutting ones stem off to spite ones Riedel Vinum.

This Malbec from Catena Alta is a prime example.  It is quite expensive, although nowhere near the 37M euros that Maradona owes the Italian tax authorities.  Is it worth it?

Catena Alta 2005 Malbec


Château de Pennautier 2007

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Well, the stock markets are in another tizz.  Up and down like the price of US claret.  This time Dubai is the potential bad debt – yes the entire state!  I am not sure what all the fuss is about.  I understand the exposure is a mere £60bn – less than the Bank of England secretly lent to two British banks during the crumbliest stage of the credit crunch!  Surely the emirate rulers can merely sell a few hundred Rolls Royces?

Stick this in your pannier...

Oh well.  If you are poorer than the Al Maktoums, here is a recession defying red.  Yet another from South of France, Languedoc to be precise.  I got mine from Majestic for £5.99 (2008 at £4.99 for two bottles or more at time of writing) and it tastes great.  Rich yet not overpowering.  Smooth yet not lounge lizard.  Fruity yet not jammy.  Tasty yet not over-alcoholic (13%).

The label recommends it for “convivial” occasions.  I consider “carnivorous” equally valid.  Also goes well with proletarian dishes like baked beans on toast.  A proper bargain for these austere times.

Super sale at Sunday Times – but hurry

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I am so excited I could eat a bowl of soup.  And if you want to be as excited as me you have until 11am tomorrow (1 December).  Oh, and you need to be a member of the Sunday Times Wine Club.  Oh, and you need to have a wine budget of at least £100.  I can’t see the same offer on the Laithwaites main site so maybe they will repeat this down the way.

The deal is that if you spend £100 you get 10% off.  Not that special, but if you can find £150 the discount ups to 15%, and if you are in the fortunate position of having £200 or more leaking from your trousers, 20% is your reward!

I’ve just placed an order for 6 bottles of Cheval des Andes 2005, an Argentinean stunner made in a Bordeaux style but with “robust” spinal chord of Malbec.  A well regarded wine, which is more than can be said for the abysmal website.

With a 20% discount, even including delivery charges I have just paid £37 per bottle.  Compare this to the normal STWC/Laithwaites prices of £45, the Majestic price of £50, and the rip-off Gaucho Wine Boutique price of £64.65, I think that is a bargain.

By the way, if you dine at Gaucho Grills, expect to see this wine on the list at £147.95 per bottle – oucho!

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?


Ugaba Stellenbosch 2006

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Sounding like a Vic Reeves’ Shooting Stars comedic expletive is not normally a criterion by which I evaluate whether to buy a wine, but somehow this just grabbed my attention on a recent visit to Majestic, Leeds.

South Africa is a bit of a blind spot in my wine rack and I occasionally have to remind myself that good wine comes from English speaking zones, as well and French and Spanish.

Iranu?  Uvavu!

This wine is made from Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in proportions 42:32:26 and spends 10 months in French oak.

On opening there was faint Hydrogen Sulphide but this quickly dissipated and left a passable impression of a decent claret.  At first it smelt deep, moody and just a tad yeasty with a raspberry rush.  First sip was raspberry, violet, and vanilla.  Far from being spoilt, it was bright, fresh and almost as exciting as a freshly powdered slope (snow I mean, not cocaine).

Eranu or Uvavu?  Ugaba Stellenbosch 2006 is £11.99 at Majestic and this represents good value.  ERANU!

Bellingham 2007 Bernard Chenin Blanc

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I have a lot of respect for Stuart Pearce.  I liked him as manager of Man City although clearly he was not experienced enough at the time.  For the last couple of years he has been preparing England Under 21s for the European Cup.  We were clearly the best side in the tournament with the possible exception of Germany, who gave us a 4-0 bloody nose in the final.

But for 3 key suspensions, England might well have put up a fight, but what do I know?  I don’t have Sky Sports in the flat so I have had to suffer Wimbledon instead where sulky Scot/plucky Brit (depending if he loses/if he wins), Andy Murray, was on terrestrial TV playing in the latest night ever finish at Wimbledon (no football connection there – not any more anyway) against Stanislas Wawrinka, the more than plucky Swiss.

Bernard Dobber!

Bellingham “The Bernard Series” Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2007 is pretty plucky.  I thought Chenin Blanc tipped a wink to Blandshire, on average.  But this far from average example has more spunk than Murray, more intensity than Pearce and more grunt than Michelle Larcher de Brito.


Paul Mas Marsanne 2007

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Childhood memories.  Good and bad.  Ahhhh.

Mass debate

I am not sure whether I was more phlegmatic than other kids of my generation but this wine reminded me of Tixylix.

Paul Mas Estate, Marsanne, La Forge Vineyard did also taste of apricot and honey and as it happens I liked the taste of Tixylix.  I have little experience of the Marsanne grape and to be honest I picked the bottle up as an experiment.  And I am glad I did.

Another Vin de Pays D’Oc – the southern French region that I am starting to explore more thoroughly, mainly as a result of wallet shrinkage.  At £7.99 from Majestic, I think this is another example of why you should be exploring it too.

Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc 2007

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

It is amazing who you meet online and I am not even a teenager.  I don’t think he is trying to groom me, but my cyber-mate, Peter May, is something of an expert in the wines of South Africa.  He recommended that I drink more Chenin Blanc, and suggested Ken Forrester would take me into the woods and chop me down to size.

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK...


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.

Cono Sur Pinot Noir 2008

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

I’ve got my comeuppance for slagging off Mark Hughes.  Man City announced that the UEFA Cup quarter final home leg would be a “reward for the fans” and tickets were priced at only £5 so “ordinary fans” could come and watch.  I am obviously not an ordinary fan since, despite numerous calls to the ticket office (engaged tone) the match is sold out and I have to watch on some backwater internet channel.  Shame – I am in Manchester on 16 April when the town turns into a Hamburger for a night.

So perhaps I should be more complimentary about people I have never met.

Everyone knows that it is impossible to mass produce and mass market a decent wine – especially a Pinot Noir.  Trouble is, nobody told Alfred Hurtado.  His Chilean Cono Sur brand is taking over the world and rightly so.

Burgundy?  New Zealand?  On yer bike!