Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Berry Brothers Wedding List

When we got married we had a Wedding Gift List from Majestic. Looks like Berry Brothers now also do a wedding list.  And you can set theirs up online. Much easier. 

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Drink Whisky, save the planet?

Some people at Edinburgh Napier University worked out that you can use whisky by-products to produce bio-fuels. I wonder if it makes your car smell peaty?

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tokaji aged whisky?

I was recently pointed to this exciting sounding whisky by someone off of the internet. A 14 year old Islay, aged in Tokaji barrels? Oooh. How can I resist. I almost instantly ordered a bottle. It arrived yesterday.

The first impression you get is the amazing smell, it is incredibly strong and rich. It fills the room with a sweet, heady, smoky aroma which lingered long after I'd finished my glass. You don't really need to drink it. Just sit in the room with a glass of it.

The colour is a really dark amber, like an aged Bourbon. It's really thick and viscous, it makes you want to swirl it around the glass.

On the palate it's very different to a more traditional Islay. It is subtly peaty, smoky and earthy but they are more background flavours, the really rich and sweet dried fruit and apricot flavours of Tokaji dominate. I've had a Glenmorangie before that was aged 15 years, 5 of which were in Sauternes wood and that was much lighter and more subtle. This kind of smashes you in the face with Tokaji flavour, the whisky is a bit more in the background.

It won't be to everyones taste, I read someone else on the interweb saying they hated it and thought the Tokaji flavour totally overpowered the Whisky. I think it's a marriage that works really well, but in many ways it's more like a very good Bourbon than an Islay. For those reasons it's not going to be to everyone's taste.

I wonder if there is any more coming in future years? I hope so. This was limited to 492 bottles.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Divers find, and drink, 220 year old champagne

This is a superb story, some divers off the coast of Finland found some old Champagne at the bottom of the ocean, believed to be 1782-1788 Cliquot, so they cracked a bottle open and drank it!

That's what I'd do.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


No updates recently, sorry, been extremely busy at work and home. Revising hard for my WSET exam in a couple of weeks. It's going to be tough. Have a lot of facts to learn and I've never been good at that. Add in some maths WSET! Still been drinking wine, just not writing about it.

Got a couple of fancy ones I wanted to mention. A few weeks ago we had our first bottle of the Pomerol we got on our wine list. The people who gave it to us came for dinner and were given the option of drinking it or waiting a few years... so we opened it!

It was the Chateau la Croix de Gay 2002, and was delicious. Rich, spicy, earthy, smooth with loads of fruit. It'll keep for another good few years so I'm really looking forward to drinking the rest as they develop.

I also ventured into the Nicolas in Henley for the first time the other day. Ostensibly to find something from the Rhone to use as a mystery wine*. In the end I came a way with an Occursus Toques et Clochers 2001, which is a Vin de Pays (de la Haute Vallée de l'Aude) with a really intriguing blend of Southern French and Bordeaux grapes. It was big rich smooth and fruity. Really good!

Considering how much I loved the Pomerol I don't know why the traditional French wines never really seem to excite me as much as something more unusual when I'm in the shop. The Pomerol was clearly the better of these two, which were both excellent.

*as part of our WSET exam we have to do a scored blind tasting, so we've been practicing. Which involves drinking nice wine.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Drinking the 2007 Matetic Coralillo Winemaker's blend, it's delicious. big, fat soft ripe, fruity. Bought it from oddbins who don't seem to have it on website any more. Majestic have the 2005/6 at 20% off though! Might have to get some.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Two Buck Chuck

We've heard a lot about Two Buck Chuck, partly thanks to Oz Clark and James May, so it was definitely on the tasting list while in California.

The friends we are staying with have a few different varietes and decided to give us a blind taste.

Our tasting had black fruit, hints of chocolate and lots of tannin and tasted quite young and green. As my Dad would put it, it's "very gluggable" (easy to drink). Three of us guessed what it was, and we came up with different answers (2 guesses for Shiraz, and I plumped for Merlot).

We were all wrong, it turned out to be Cabernet Sauvignon.

Mike's note:- it tasted like generic cheap red wine, but it did taste a tiny bit spicy hence taking a total guess at Shiraz. I wouldn't have been surprised if it was merlot or cabernet, and I wasn't when it was. After finding out what it was I did think it tasted a bit of Ribena but that might be the power of suggestion.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Sonoma Part 5 - Cline Cellars

Our last stop for the day was Cline Cellars, set in some very pretty gardens.

Here, the tasting menu has around 15 wines which are free to try. The menu says you can try 5 of these but as our very helpful guide Rene put it "no-one really counts". Following this are a further 8 or so which cost $1 each, which is waived if you buy any of the wines.

In the end we tried 13 different wines.

First up was a 2009 Viognier which was drier than expected, with peach and apricot flavours and a nice crisp finish.

We skipped over the rest of the whites and went straight for the 2008 Ancient Vines Carignane, tasting of red fruit and plum, with a peppery finish.

The 2007 Cashmere was next. This is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre and tasted of rich red fruit with hints of chocolate, and the slight spiciness we were coming to realise features in many Californian wines.

Next we had another Ancient Vines bottle, the 2008 Mouvedre, which had lots of rich ripe chery fruit, a nice bit of spice and the smokiness you expect from Mouvedre.

A trio of Syrahs followed, starting with the 2007, a wine with cherry flavours and a hint of spice.
We compared this side by side with the 2007 Cool Climate Syrah which was much more intense, tasting quite jammy and with blueberry and blackberry flavours. The final one of our trio was the 2006 Los Carneros Syrah which was even richer still, with even more jammy richness and blueberry flavours and some oak. Rene told Mike he had "a very good nose" when he picked up on the French oak.

Zinfandel was next and we tasted 5 in a row, starting with the 2008. This had flavours of berry fruits, particularly raspberry and a nice hint of black pepper spice. The 2008 Ancient Vines Zinwas richer and darker, tasting more jammy and with more black fruit flavours, but still with hints of raspberry and a slightly sweet finish.
The 2008 Big Break Zin had flavours of cherries and black fruit, and a really interesting herbaceous, eucalyptus smell to it. When we mentioned this to Rene we discovered the vineyard is surrounded by eucalyptus trees.
The 2007 Live Oak Zin had a sweet edge to it, with lots of black cherry flavour and a bit of spice.
Finally, we tried the 2007 Heritage Zin which is a blend of the Big Break, Live Oak and also Bridgehead (which we didn't taste). This was delicious, rich and intense spice, with dried fruit flavours which reminded me of Christmas pudding.

We finished up the tasting with a 2006 Late Harvest Mouvedre which was really good, tasting of raisins and rich sweet spice.

A bottle each of the Heritage Zin and the Mouvedre were added to our growing collection as we left.

Sonoma Part 4 - Anaba

For our next stop we looked at the map and decided to pick a smaller winery which none of us had heard of before. This lead us to Anaba
Here you can taste the wines inside the tasting room, or the friendy staff are happy to bring the wines to you as you sit on the covered patio and admire the scenery - we chose the second option!
The tastings are $10 each, but the fee is waived if you buy anything. There are 6 wines to try, and then you pick one dessert wine from a choice of three to finish with. As we had 3 people tasting, we each picked a different one and got to try them all.

We started with the 2009 Sonoma Valley Pink, made form 100% Grenache. It was very light and fruity, tasting mainly of strawberries and pink grapefruit.

Next was the 2008 "Coriol" White made from an interesting blend of 48% Rousanne, 30% Viognier, 12% Mersanne and 10% Grenache Blanc which gave nice melon and peach flavours with a hint of lemon.

The 2007 Voignier followed, which was suprisingly dry to the taste but also had nice peach and apricot flavours, with a slight hint of dried fruit.

The 2007 Chardonnay was also surprising, due to the spiciness. It was very full bodied and quite lemony and quite crisp and clean.

Following on from that were two reds, the first of which was the 2007 "JMcK" Pinot Noir. This was very rich and quite jammy, with ripe red fruit, particularly strawberries and cherries, and a nice spicy finish.

Next, the 2007 "Coriol" Red was as interesting a blend as the white - 38% Grenache, 27% Mouvedre, 25% Petite Sirah and 10% Counoise. It has a lovely ruby colour with lots of black fruit and plum flavours, and a peppery finish.

To finish, the 3 dessert wines kicked off with a 2008 Late Harvest Viognier which is made from Botrytis affected grapes so has really intense, rich flavours. It's very honeyed, with flavours of apricot and hints of orange and a flowery note.
The White "Aero" Port is made from Viognier and aged in French oak for 3-4 years. It has rich peach flavours and hints of raisins.
The Red "Aero" Port was also delicious, tasting of rich ripe cherries and toffee. It's made from Syrah grapes.

We bought a bottle of the White Aero Port and the "Coriol" Red, which meant the tastings were complimentary, bargain!

Anaba also have a Port Chocolate Sauce which we all loved, and would be perfect on ice cream or cheesecake.

Sonoma Part 3 - Robledo

When we arrived in San Francisco on Friday night, our friends opened a bottle of Robledo Pinot Noir. It went down very nicely so Robledo was the next obvious stop on our mini tour.

The Robledo tasting room is set right in the middle of the vineyard and you can get right up close to the growing vines. Here there are 2 tasting menus to choose from, one at $5 for 7 wines and the premium menu at $10 for 7.

We chose the Premium menu, which started with a 2007 Chardonnay This was very crisp and fresh, with lots of green fruit flavours.

Next was a 2006 Pinot Noir (the same one we tried on Friday) which had a slight spiciness to it along with nice ripe red fruit, particularly strawberries.

This was followed by a 2008 Tempranillio which we were intrigued by as we didn't know Tempraillo was grown in California. It was quite spicy, with oak flavours but also some sweet vanilla notes along with red cherries.

The 2007 Merlot was next. This tasted of rich black fruit with hints of spice and was followed by the 2005 Cabernet from Napa, the most expensive wine we tasted. It was very rich, with nice blackberry flavours with a hint of green pepper and a bit of spiciness on the finish.

We moved onto a couple of Ports to finish, firstly a White Port made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It had a lovely golden colour and was very honeyed with flavours of tropical and green fruits.
The Red Port smelled and tasted just like strawberry jam. I didn't pick up on any of the more sophisticated tasting notes!

Sonoma Part 2 - Buena Vista

On the advice of the lady at Ravenswood and with the help of a "2 for the price of 1" voucher, our next stop was Buena Vista. The tasting room is set in a lovely wooden building surrounded by trees, a nice spot for a picnic as demonstrated by the many people with picnic baskets who passed us on our way out.

Here we tried 7 wines for $10. The tasting menu only had 6 on it but while Mike was chatting to the very knowledgable girl who was serving us she mentioned another wine which he said sounded interesting so she let us try that too.
The first five wines were all from Ramal Vineyard and first up was a 2006 Clone 17 Chardonnay
I'm not really a fan of Chardonnay but I'd say this was the most interesting one I've tasted, mostly because it didn't taste much like Chardonnay! It had a lot of stone fruit and sweet spice flavours and even hints of caramel.

Next was a 2006 Chardonnay which was more of a traditional Chardonnay taste, citrusy with hints of green apple. It was slightly oaky but had a good balance of fruit and acidity which meant it was quite light.

Then we moved onto the reds, starting with a 2006 Pinot Noir. This had quite a flowery, perfumed smell and tasted of raspberries and plums with a bit of spice.

The 2005 Syrah was next and I found the smell of this really interesting. It's the first wine I've tried which I could say smelled of blueberries. It tasted very fruity, lots of black cherry and the peppery-ness you expect from Syrah.

The 2006 Merlot was very jammy, with hints of chocolate and black cherry. The tasting notes also mentioned tobacco, soy and ginger, none of which I could taste but other people did pick up.

Finally on the reds was a 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Buena Vista's sister winery Atlas Peak
This had lots of black fruit and blueberry with a nice hint of vanilla.

The "bonus" wine was a 2008 Carneros Rose of Syrah which actually has 4% Chardonnay in the blend. It has a very light colour, due to only being in contact with the skins for 8 hours and smells quite floral, almost like turkish delight. It's very dry and quite light bodied but with a nice refreshing taste of raspberries. We bought a bottle of the Rose.

Wine tasting in Sonoma - Part 1 Ravenswood

At the monent, we're in California, staying with friends in San Francisco and yesterday we took a trip to Sonoma to visit some vineyards.

Our first stop was Ravenswood In the UK we only see one of their wines, the Lodi Zinfandel which I like so I was keen to see more.
The tasting room is on top of a small hill, with a long bar to stand at while you taste and helpful staff. The lady we spoke to helpfully gave us discount vouchers for a few other wineries, which definitely influenced the itenerary!

There are 2 tasting menu options. We tried the Single Vineyard Designate Tasting flight, choosing 5 wines out of the 7 to taste for $15. The other option is the County Tasting, 5 wines for $10.
Skipping over the Chardonnay, we headed straight for the first of a trio of Zinfndels, the 2007 Chauvret (100% Zin). This was lighter in colour and body than you'd expect but full of sweet cherry flavour and with a spicy finish.
The 2007 Big River Zinfandel (100% Zin) was a much more "typical" example, lots of black cherry and very jammy with a nice hint of spice and oak. This was my favourite of the three.
The third one was Mike's favourite, the 2007 Belloni. This has 77% Zin and the rest is mixed black grapes which obviously add to the complexity and in this case, the tannin as well. It tasted very rich and juicy, with spicy black fruits.
Next up was the 2005 Bedrock Cabernet. The tasting notes described this as smelling like cherry liquer which was quite accurate, it had the slightly honeyed notes of a dessert wine but on the taste was all blackberries and spice.
The final we tried here was a dessert wine, the 2008 Moscato Leggaro, which was delicious. It was very slighty sparking and smells of pineapple with just a hint of green apples and tastes of rich ripe tropical fruit and honey. Just the thing for drinking on a warm summer's day. We liked this so much we bought a bottle.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Oddbins - Taste of Spring

Have been meaning to check out a resurgent oddbins for a little while now, and only haven't because it's 2 miles away and bit of a pain carting back tons of wine that far with no car... So when I found out they were having a "taste of spring" wine tasting it seemed like a great opportunity to go and take a look. On offer were 15 wines to taste, £10 for a ticket or £15 for a couple! If you spent £75 you'd get the ticket price refunded. Bargain.

The wines were all European. 3 champagnes. The pick of which for me was this Blin, but none of them really blew me away. Heidseck Gold Top is my benchmark at the moment and still a much better bet, and currently an absolute bargain.

We had 5 whites, including 3 from the same Alsace producer Bollenberg. They were; Pinot Blanc, which was interesting but I didn't really like it. Not very balanced, too dry, a bit minerally, Riesling which was very good. Dry Riesling isn't really my thing but this was a good one and a Pinot Gris which I really liked and bought one of. Balanced, dry, fruity and smokey. Don't get any of the mushroom they mention but a great wine.

There was also an interesting Sancerre by Phillipe Rimbaud which was very interesting. Very fruity, quite New World in style, in a good way. Gooseberry, green apple flavour. Nearly bought that but didn't. The Puilly Fumé from Waitrose I mentioned last time still a great bet there.

The final white was an Italian Gewurz which had an incredible smell. And tasted just like Turkish delight. If you like Turkish Delight, you'll love it. I don't really... still a very interesting wine.

On the red front the pick of the bunch was a Gigondas, a really deep complex wine with heady fruit and deep tobacco and leather flavour.

There were three Spanish Reds on show, El Cayado was made from Mencia grapes, which I'd never even heard of let alone tasted. Apparently related to Cabernet Franc and it did taste like a Spanish Cabernet Franc, interesting but didn't wow me. El Quintanel from Ribera del Deuro split opinions. Ann loved it, I found it was too young and a bit harsh. We bought one and I'd like to keep it for a year or two and see what happens. We also bought another Ribera that I didn't find on their website. Finally there was a Priorat Grenache blend that was an absolute monster. Huge nose, really fruity and smooth. 15%. In structure it felt like a really big Californian Zinfandel. I really liked it. We bought one of them too.

There were a couple of Bordeaux wines that I was a bit ambivalent about. Nothing wrong with them, they did what they said on the tin. But they weren't interesting either really. De Brague was pretty good value though!

At Oddbins you get 20% off if you buy a mixed case, so we explored the rest of the shop to fill up our dozen. The first thing that caught our eye, was a couple of wines from Matetic. Makers of the great EQ I mentioned in an earlier post. They had the Syrah and the Winemakers Blend from the Matetic Coralillo range, which is the second wine after the EQ. The Winemakers blend (67% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 6% Pinot Noir) sounds great and it will be especially interesting to see how the Syrah matches up to the EQ. This Late Harvest Concha y Toro Dessert wine also caught our eye and we picked up a couple of bottles of Dr L a fantastic off dry fruity Riesling.

Overall I was really impressed. Not sure when the last time I went into an Oddbins was, but these days it's great. Lots of really interesting stuff, I'm sure we'll be back.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Burgundy, Alsace and winemaking

Right. Lots to catch up on, I've been incredibly busy.

Important news, I found out the name of the amazing Cinsault I had. We actually revisited the restaurant we tasted it and had some more. It's still amazing. Fruity, spicy, really well balanced. Absolutely delicious. VdP De L'Herault, "Le Pradel", Dom La Terrasse D'Elise 2003 100% Cinsault.

It's absolutely amazing. Only found one place to buy it online in the UK. Just over £150 for a case of 6, £25 a bottle and I'm seriously tempted...

On the wine course front we've covered winemaking and Burgundy and Alsace. I'd tried my first Alsace Gewurtz a few weeks ago and really liked it and that's been reinforced. I found the Alsace Reislings just a bit too dry. The Burgundy's were great. We had two fantastic classic examples of Burgundies, a Beaujolais and a sneaky Chilean Pinot Noir and I was able to pick all those out (without knowing that's what we were getting) which was reassuring. A classic Burgundy and a Beaujolais have such distinctive smells, I'd hope to always be able to pick them. Along with Kiwi Sauvignon which are all likely things to have on the tasting exam.

At home we're endeavouring to have one day a week where we both bring mystery wines to try and practice for the exam. Last week we brilliantly both got Pouilly Fumés. Which was quite funny. I got a brilliant one from Waitrose, which was 25% off. Le Pont du Milieu Pouilly Fume, 2008 A really cracking wine. Fruity, balanced, slightly mineral, delicious. Ann's was also pretty good but suffered from being tasted just after a slightly better one. Hers was the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Pouilly Fumé. That was a 2007 and just slightly less complex, and less fruity. So the evening turned into quite an interesting comparison of the two.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Advanced, urk.

We started the WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits on Wednesday. When we did the intermediate course we were in a class of only five, which was great. Loads of leftover wine to take home each lesson. This time it's a class of 13 which seems huge. Everyone seems great though. And Ann's not the only female which is good, there are three others.

First lesson we got our course packs, did a bit of talking about how to taste wine. Some more detail required in the advanced tasting. We then had a set of 5 mystery whites to try. I feel like I was rubbish but with hindsight I got the last three were Chardonnay and that the third one was French. I just wasn't confident enough in my answer on 3. It was a Chablis. The others were a Semillon (which I don't think I've ever had before) and a Chardonnay blend that I got totally wrong.

I still really don't like Chardonnay, even when it is a Chablis. In fact maybe especially not when it's a Chablis. Our teacher reckons they do badly in blind tastings against bolder wines like the last two. Possibly. If that is to your taste apparently this one is fantastic, and it was interesting and distinctive but really not to my tastes at all.

The best two we tasted (IMO) were a bourgogne blanc (I think it was this one, but didn't write it down) and a Ten Minutes by Tractor 10X Chardonnay. I took the last little bit of that one home and enjoyed it. Maybe Chardonnay isn't all completely horrific... but if I have to go to a £20 bottle to start to enjoy it, that's not great.

Oh yeah, and I started looking at the course text book on the train this morning. It's huge and makes my bag very heavy. All I got through this morning was about wine reproductive system, classifications, crossing, hybridization and cloning. This is going to be a tough course.

Monday, 15 February 2010

What is your favourite wine and why?

I'm starting the WSET Advanced Wine and Spirit course in a couple of weeks which is very exciting. The Intermediate one we did last year was fantastic. Anyway the course organiser sent everyone on the course the following 2 questions I guess to get to know us a bit before we started.
  1. What wine you like most & why?
  2. What wine region you like most &/or would like to know more about?
2 was easy, although not really a region. I'd like to learn more about Germany. Trying sweeter whites on the intermediate course was a bit of a revelation and my father in law gave us a Mosel Dornfelder as a mystery wine when we were up in Scotland last weekend. Which (I'm sure you know) is a German Red. It was really good.

Question 1 is really hard though. What is my favourite wine? I am really struggling. I am so fickle. It totally depends what kind of mood I'm in. What do I drink most? Bit of everything really. So I asked my wife;
If we were on that quiz where couples go on and have to answer questions about their partners and the question was "What's his favourite wine" What would you say?
She didn't really know either. (Hers is Amerone).

The best one I can think of is the Seghesio 2006 Old Vines Zinfandel, which is absolutely huge and delicious. Is that my favourite wine or just a great one I had recently? I'm stuck.

What's your favourite wine, and why?

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Wine Critics, the response

So the article I posted last week has a response, by Tim Atkin and it's a good one I think. He basically says, of course you should drink what you want but practice can help your tasting. Well, yeah.

The thing they both agree is that buying based purely on scores is stupid. I agree. I don't think I'll be scoring any wines on here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

"Wine critics' advice is unchallenged bunk"?

Quite an interesting piece from the Guardian today. In summary, they are saying a lot of wine critics advice is useless because people have different palates. Which is a fair point. We know it's true in food. Some people think something like moroccan lamb with apricots is a delicious match but I know a few people who just really don't get the concept of sweet fruit in savoury dishes and just think it's terrible. Why would matching food and wine be any different?

I definitely think it's the same with wine. You're definitely going to have more success enjoying wine and a meal if you pick something you like than something you don't like, no matter how well it supposedly goes. But there are probably some principles about the wine that will make it a better match. How full bodied it is, how sweet it is, how acidic it is etc.

I did the flavour profile test the article mentions (the link is broken in the actual article at the moment) and this was my result:

SENSITIVE: Members of the SENSITIVE TASTERS COMMUNITY are the most open to diversity and range of styles. Whilst you’ll tend to avoid sweet wines (except possibly for dessert) and are not too keen on heavy oak or over-the-top intensity of reds, you like a broad spectrum of rich, smooth flavoured red and whites.
Which is kind of right, although I do like huge reds as well. And among the recommendations are a few things I've been enjoying lately including
  • Pinotage from South Africa
  • Zinfandel from the U.S - not too high in alcohol or oak.
  • Modern French Reds especially Southern Rhone
So dunno, might be more useful the less you know? Does how you like your tea/coffee really tell you enough to know what wines you might like? It seemed to get the closest match for me from their four categories.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Shiraz weekend

Hello. I'm Ann, nice to meet you.

A couple of months ago we planned an evening in with the specific aim of drinking a bottle of Allegrini Amarone which we were given as a wedding present.

I made some food to match the wine (bruschetta and bolognese) and we opened a Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Amarone to compare with the Allegrini. The Taste The Difference bottle is one of my favourites, and a bargain price for Amarone so it was an interesting comparison, but the Allegrini was a clear winner as expected.

The evening went so well we decided to repeat it this weekend and this time it's Mike's turn to choose the wine. He's gone for Matetic EQ Syrah and Costero Syrah to compare with it.
So this week I've been thinking about what food to match with it. Curry is an obvious match for Syrah but we eat a lot of curry anyway so we wanted something a bit different.

The next obvious match is Chilean food for Chilean wine so that's mainly what I've been investigating. A lot of the recipes I found were for fish/seafood and didn't sound like they would go very well with the Syrah which narrowed down the options quite quickly to a few casseroles and stews which sounded nice but, like the curry, quite similar to our normal meals. Instead I found a Spanish monkfish dish which does sound like a good match.

We'll start with Chilean Empanadas (spicy pasties), then the Spanish Monkfish, and finally Limoncello Souffle, just because I want to try making a souffle. It's a slightly random menu but hopefully it'll all go together nicely. I'll post a review next week.

The Bulldozer

Was playing nerdy computer games last night and the wife asked if I wanted some wine. I know, great wife huh? Anyway. After I'd tried it I had to run upstairs* to find out what I was drinking. Turns out it was The Bulldozer Pinotage. Which we'd got in a mixed case from Laithwaites. It was great. Rich, and full bodied but smooth and drinkable. Loads of red fruit. Delicious. You don't seem to be able to buy it any more from Laithwaites but it seems it was a bargain £6 or so.

Pinotage is something I haven't tried a lot of but it's a cross between an old favourite, Pinot Noir, and a new favourite Cinsault. So I should really endeavour to find more.

Any Cinsault/Cinsault blend recommendations? I've got some Chateau Musar 2001 which includes Cinsault and is really calling out to me. But this weekend it's Shiraz weekend!

*the computer is in the basement/wine cellar

Friday, 22 January 2010

Wine with Thai?

Making a thai green curry for dinner tonight. Want some wine with it, but can't work out what's a good match. Mainly because I want red and it doesn't really go with Red. All the best sounding suggestings (Reisling, Gewurztraminer) are white and I'm pretty sure we don't have any of either.

I have got some Torrontés* that I've been meaning to try. Maybe this could be the time? Otherwise maybe Pinot Noir, of which I have lots to choose.

Hmm. I'll let you know.

Update: had the torrontes, which was really nice. Quite sweet, fruity and floral. Didn't really go with the curry though.

*appears to be no longer available, described here Lorca Torrontés 2008. La Rioja Argentina. Sounds a bit too flowery maybe?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

To score or not to score

Scoring wine is controversial. This article by Tom Wark, and the subsequent comment discussion really sums up the issue very well. On one hand a score is an almost arbitrary indicator of what you personally thought of a wine. On the other hand it's a very convenient shorthand for you to say "I liked this wine a lot. A little bit more than that last one, but not as much as that one last year."

Most scoring systems also don't take into account what kind of wine it is, and what kind of wine the reader likes. For instance we had some people over for dinner a while back and had a bottle of Sainsbury's Muscat De St Jean De Minervois with dessert. I think it's a real easy drinking bargain, full of honey and fruit, with enough refreshing acidity to cut through most desserts. I could drink it on it's own I think. And only £4 a bottle! For some of the guests who aren't sweet wine fans it was just way too much, they found it sickly cloying and pretty much undrinkable.

So I might include scores, but I am fully aware that they will be very limited in how useful they are to any theoretical readers who might stumble across the blog. After all, I've only posted one review so far and I think my wife (who will hopefully also be contributing) already doesn't agree with it.

Finca las Rejas - Bargain Tempranillo

On Friday last week some Laithwaites staff held some kind of an event at the place my brother works. When it had finished there was quite a lot of wine left which they very kindly donated to the staff. It had all been opened but some of the bottles were nearly full. My brother passed a virtually full bottle of this Finca las Rejas onto me. I nearly turned him down because I wasn't sure about carrying an opened bottle of wine home.

I only got round to drinking it yesterday because we were away for the weekend so it's not exactly the ideal preparation for a wine. The cork had been hammered back in so hard I had to use a corkscrew to uncork it so maybe it wasn't too oxidised...

I am glad I did take it though because it turned out to be a really excellent wine. It's got that rich, smooth, vanilla and red fruit taste you expect from a decent Crianza Rioja. I assumed it was going to be £10-£15 a bottle. When I found it on the website at £6.99 I couldn't believe it. An absolute bargain. I think I am going to order a case.

Apparently it is made by winemaker Javier Murua from 2004 grapes that were surplus to requirements at a top Rioja house.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Why another wine blog?


There are thousands of wine blogs on the internet. Most of them are written by people who know a lot more about wine than me. So I'm not really expecting many people to read this blog. It's more an aide memoir for me so that I can keep track of some stuff that I have tried and say what I think of it. Like a wine notebook really but I figure that, in these interactive days, I might as well put it online. A blog seemed the easiest way to achieve that.

I got married in September and instead of a traditional gift list we discovered that Majestic did a wine gift list. Which was an incredible idea. We ended up with a cellar full of great wine that we have labelled up with who gave us what. I expect you'll be hearing about some of that in due course!

I might invite other people to contribute at some point too. Whether or not they can be bothered remains to be seen!