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!