De Martino, Las Cruces, 2008

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

£17.99 is a lot to spend on any bottle. For a Chilean wine, this is like spending £20 on a burger. It better be bloody, and it better be bloody brilliant.

This De Martino is a field blend and, at 13.5%, sensibly low in alcohol for a Chilean red. Predominately Malbec with a fair bit of Carménère and other grapes chipped in from various corners of the field, it tastes of rich smooth chocolate, red apples and glacé cherries with pepper. I know what you are thinking and no, it’s a compliment.


Cheval des Andes, 2005

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

My (software) day job is pretty intense right now. I can’t afford to spend hours researching wine. Yet, somehow, I still find time to drink it (early evenings only, you understand, and in sensible measures).

So, you can find all about this Franco-Argie mix just by Googling it, or by visiting Jamie Goode’s excellent Wine Anorak.

If you want a handful of words about whether to invest your hard earned readies (at >£50 per bottle, you may well want to ponder for a moment before you ring Barclays for a banker’s draft), read on.


Black & Blue, Bloomsbury, London

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

A bull at the door is a welcome nod to Wall Street riches, and I only wish my shares were stampeding a little harder right now.  But as a promise of what was to come, the comedy doggie doo left under the hindquarters of the statue was a more accurate entrée to the Bloomsbury branch of Black & Blue.

Black & Blue terrace - a high point in a low establishment


Coal Grill & Bar, Exeter

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Compared to London in the best of times and the worst of times, Exeter city is beautiful, but only within a guillotine blade width of the cathedral. And in this tale of two cities, Exeter is almost uninhabited. But like most of provincial England, the restaurant scenery is so familiar and populous it could be Stockport, or Slough,  Scunthorpe or Staines. Desperately avoiding chain store massacres, I chanced upon Coal, which was bucking the trend on a late summer Tuesday evening, in that trade was brisk and I didn’t recognise the name from the FTSE brands directory.


Dante Robino, Malbec, 2008

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

My mate Paul gave me a bottle of wine and told me that it is never wise to look a gift horse in the mouth.  So let’s take a glance at its teeth then!


Goodman, City, London

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Do you prefer penguins or skateboarders?  Personally I am a penguin man, although this caused a bit of controversy when I reviewed Hawksmoor.  I did, though, fall in love with the beef.  But, having revelled in Hawksmoor’s meat, I felt obliged to sample what most London foodies consider to be the competition in the steak stakes, Goodman.


Calicata Malbec 2010

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful Malbec, you could do a lot worse than try this specimen from Naked wines.

Imagine a bowl of fresh cherries and vanilla ice cream.  Not as dark and devious as many Malbecs but tasty and good with or without food.  Seems like incredible value at  £7.99 (less a mysterious discount of x%*) which probably means you are paying little more than a fiver.

* x = 1/y+3σ (no I can’t work out Naked prices either).

Ocaso Malbec, 2009

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

A plastic cork.  Oh my GOD!  Hugo Mesquitah (@mesquitah) will kill me if he knows I even looked at this bottle, never mind drank the wine.

Plump and gorgeous..... I mean the Ocaso!!!

This came from Naked Wines at a pretty expensive £9.49.  But, then again, there is such a super-complex array of discounts that the real price could be anywhere between £3.50 and £750.

The wine is typical Mabec and tastes of dark chocolate and cherry liqueur (probably Thornton’s) and has a velvety texture.  Very nice and possibly even worth a tenner.  A bit lighter than most Malbecs and a refreshing 13.5% ABV.

I recommend drinking young (as it is plastic corked), trying to avoid the “face” price,  and following WART advice to drink at circa 16°C.  Snap some up quick though.  Before you know it, Gaucho Grills will be serving this at £56 per bottle.

Château du Cèdre Cahors, 2006

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Tall and tanned, and young and lovely was the girl from Ipanema.  But I’ve been getting more luck from the South of France recently.  Of sorts.  This young lady, for example, going by the seductive name of Château du Cèdre turned out to have a huge pair of bollocks.  More Manchester Pride than Brazilian carnival babe.

Rich, fruity, yet smooth and soapy.  It is a bit like drinking coffee from an earthenware pot whilst munching on a raspberry teabag.  But if you can stand the tannins, it is conclusive proof that you can build a wine sturdier than a tranny’s thong at only 13° ABV.  One in the eye for Mr Parker?

I would recommend following WART instructions and taking this down from room to cellar temperature, to avoid scalding your tongue.

Available from Costco at £11.73 – this feels like good value to me.

Clos la Coutale, Cahors 2007

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I’ve just been dribbling all over the en-primeur Burgundy 2008 catalogue from the Wine Society.  I lined up a number of superbly priced selections and my wobbly knees were barely capable of carrying me to the computer to place an order.

In a year that, according to most commentators was variable at best, it looked like les escargots had marked their prices down to reasonable levels.  Then a prickly heat rose through my knees, groin, heart and ended in a face flush.  The values were for half cases.  Oh well, I am priced out again, so the catalogue was filed under B, for bin.

If, like me, you are a “W” man, and you fully expect the return of the recession (as soon as interest rates start creeping up again) then you could do worse than explore some cheaper areas of the home of wine.  South West France seems particularly good value.

This Cahors red is made from the Malbec grape, but the taste reminds me more of Carmenère.  Smoky autumn bonfires, apple and pear crumble, a touch of raspberry.  Perfect for a cold night in with a steak when you need to impress (or apologise to) your loved one.

Cost me £7.25 from the Wine Society.