Tokerau Carmenère 2007

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Life is a box of chocolates according to Forrest Gump’s mama, which probably suits my moody temperament.  My current mood in respect of grapes is, as ever, two faced.  One old school tie, one new kid on the block (to me anyway).  I am currently on a virtual world tour of Pinot Noirs which I described as the Brigitte Bardot of grapes.  The other varietal that has piqued my interest recently is Carmenère, which is the James Dean of grapes.  A rebel without a cause that lives on the edge, smokes a lot, and whilst externally attractive, lacks substance.  Scratch under the surface, and often you will simply find more surface.

A midnight toker you say???


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?


Chablis Domaine du Cèdre Doré 2006

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Another from Virgin and you may recall me sampling a range of wines from a mixed case I took as an introductory offer.  The results of my samples have been mostly good and my conclusion on Virgin is that for everyday glugging wines, if you choose carefully you will find value rather than fine wines, drinkability rather than complexity, down to earth language rather than pretension.

This Chablis, though, tasted most unlike Chablis.

Cèdre Doré Chablis with a couple of mates...for some reason


Belmonte Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Where shall we go this evening?  France?  Italy?  Spain?  Sonoma County?  I think I’ll stay in, somewhere comfortable, with a glass of something familiar.  Yet another Kiwi Sauvignon!

Belmonte SB and its siblings…..for some reason


Cuvée à l’Ancienne Pouilly-Fuissé 2005

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Chicken or egg?  The long standing debate about which came first will never be resolved by a cartoon depicting one or the other enjoying a post-coital cigarette.  Let’s face it, smoking is banned almost everywhere these days.  So I had to find another way to establish the truth.

Cuvée à L’ancienne and a red box (from Virgin)


2008, a wine price apocalypse?

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

I’m sure you’ve read in the press that wine prices are set to rocket in 2008.  I wondered if this was just another ruse by the wine trade to panic people into parting with their hard-earned cash, or a genuine concern.  I don’t like wasting money, or looking like a mug, so I thought I better investigate.


Seraph Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Do you eat ready meals?  The UK is one of the world’s leading producers (and consumers) of ready meals, and I mean by volume, not necessarily quality.  Is that good or bad?  What does it say about our work addicted society that we no longer have time to enjoy a home cooked meal with friends/family at our own tables?


Belmonte Pinot Noir

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

You may recall my suspicions about a new case from Virgin Wines were mostly unfounded, as the first bottle I tried was rather nice.

Belmonte Pinot Noir and its siblings…for some reason

The case also contained three wines from the same stable – a Marlborough outfit by the name of Belmonte.  I tried the Pinot Noir recently with surprising results.


McCauley’s Journey Shiraz 2004

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

I volunteered to try out the Virgin Wines online service which is relatively new to the UK but follows Virgin’s usual business model of finding a maturing market and trying to take a new angle on it.  The only trouble is that I can’t work out what the new angle actually is.

In terms of the mature market, the Wine Society has been trading for yonks.  Laithwaites has been marketing wines brilliantly for decades.  Berry Bros & Rudd have the posh end of the market.  Where is the new angle?  As far as I can tell Virgin is marketing wine to the masses.  The unwashed proletariat?  Well okay then, maybe just inexperienced wine buyers.

Whatever!  McCauley’s Journey Western Australia Shiraz turned out to be a top wine.


Elemental Reserva Colchagua Carmenère 2005

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Virgin is a brand I associate with innocence, inexperience and ineptitude.  Only joking.  It’s more about customer service, keen price and reasonable quality.  Except for Virgin Rail of course.  Those of you to have had the misfortune of travelling from Manchester to London on the Virgin service have my sympathy.

It’s elemental my dear Branson!