Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Liveblog - Ferraton Cotes Du Rhone and a Lidl bit extra*

Another movie, another Liveblog. The wine (at right) is a Ferraton Cotes Du Rhone 2007 from O'Briens, the movie is "Rachel Getting Married" a well regarded indie flick from Jonathan Demme with a star turn from Anne Hathaway. I bought six of these (the wine) for a post Xmas dinner with the in-laws. They were on special offer in O'Briens at about a tenner apiece and Ramon, who has steered me right on a number of occasions, recommended them as the best value red in the place.

7pm - Opened and decanted. The other night the in-laws barely put a hole in this while myself and Herself quite liked it, it was not a huge in-your-face wine but was medium bodied, pleasant and very potable.

8pm - I was down at Bombay Pantry in Rathfarnham and lo and behold Lidl was open. I could not resist its siren song and picked up the other two bottles pictured. The Lidl Vacqueyras (at left), I have had previously and really liked it, this time it was on special at €9-59, a huge bargain at that price. The Chianti (center €7-39), I took a punt on and will report on in due course.

8-30pm - My world has been rocked, I got a lousy main course from Bombay Pantry. I ordered the New Delhi Housewives choice, a particular favourite of mine, and it was poor. Bland, flavourless and poor. I have been eating from there for many years and it has been universally great, which makes this even more disappointing, but I digress.

9-pm - Half an hour into the movie and it's pretty good. Very hand-held camera, indie, angsty and all that but well acted and if you are in a large family and I'm in two of them, a lot of it rings true. The Cotes Du Rhone is now very nice, a little bit choclatey with a little bit of red fruit. Herself is getting caramel notes, but she has just eaten a(Cadbury's mini Caramel) so that explains that.

10-pm - The finish on this wine is getting longer and developing a little dryness as the evening wears off and the movie continues on to its inevitable conclusion. At this price I can definitely recommend it. The movie is quite good, perhaps a little indie for some people, you know who you are - every misguided soul who hated Requiem For A Dream. Anne Hathaway who gave a great, Oscar nominated performance here, went on to the dreck that was Bride Wars, so I just don't know what to tell you.

10-30pm - The wine is getting even better at the very last and we have to comb through cookbooks to pick out a main for New Years eve. I'm back at work as of today (boo) so I'll be keeping the booze in check (boo again) until that day or perhaps tomorrow night at JK's 4oth (woo-hoo).

* It's a lousy pun, I know

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Xmas Updates

I suppose I should start with Xmas (I'm with Futurama on this) eve and the Champers and Bordeaux duo we normally indulge in. The Bollinger Rose NV was nice but a little sweet for my taste, perhaps this is the way of all Rose Champagnes, but next year I'm sticking with the Brut.

By contrast, the 2000 Chateau Lynch Bages was a dusty delight, almost brown in the glass and, I think, drinking perfectly now. We savoured this and I even elected not to sully it with my usual accompanyment of Stilton. Its certainly in my all time favourite Bordeaux.

Christmas day morning brings me onto the wine we are currently drinking (at left). A 2002 Mas de Daumas Gassac. Supposeably this is a very famous and fine wine from the Languedoc. Alas in my ignorance I had never heard of it. My older brother handed my a mystery glass of red and challenged me to name country and grape. I said France (correct) and Bordeaux (incorrect - although it is 80% Cabernet, so I can claim partial credit) To his credit, he gave me a bottle on the spot.

I read today that this wine can be a tannic beast that needs a lot of decanting so I duly opened it at 5pm and it is quite open now (9 pm) and delicious. I read this has been confused with a St Estephe in blind tastings and I can see why although it doesn't have the minerally, Bordeaux'y depth of a fine Bordeaux. It is a fine drink in its own way, very French, nice subdued fruit, gentle tannins and a lovely balance.

I also got a few wine related presents; a subscription to www.JancisRobinson.com, the sixth edition of the Concise World Atlas of Wine, a funky tasting glass and a very fancy set of wine accessories (at left) - thanks dear.

*Update - I forgot to mention the wine we had with our Xmas Turkey dinner at the in-laws. I have made it a tradition to bring along some nice red and this year I went down the Bordeaux road. I had got a present of six bottles of 2005 Chateau Latour Carnet, website here**, I put one aside in my "cellar" and we drank the other five and very tasty it was too. Initially I thought it was a little young and tannic but it opened up nicely and disappeared fairly lively.

Big shout out the all the girls, including Granny G, for the great spread.

**Not atypically, the site is in French only.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Variousity Blues

A few quick updates before Xmas.

As promised, I saved the Tappanappa for BE, himself and his lovely lady wife came over for a pre Holiday drink so I cracked it. I was expecting a lot from this. The winery is a joint venture between the Cazes family from Chateau Lynch Bages and the uh....Tappanappa people.

Anyhoo - another new world wine built on the concept of terroir. It is made up of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Franc. Unfortunately we again fell victim to the curse of the Aussie Cab Sav. While it was nice very well made, this style is just not my cup of meat - all oaky tannins and blackcurrant. This was not an unpleasant wine by any stretch, just not my style.

Lastly, I had to do an emergency Xmas shop last night in Dunnes Ballyogan, unfortunately I couldn't find the Black Treacle, but I did get the parsnips. I decided to pick up a couple of bottles for general consumption (see left). A Cecchi Natio organic Chianti which was lovely last time, a Laurent Miquel Nord Sud Syrah, always bigged up in the papers, which we drank last night after the Tappanappa and which was OK, probably needs another try under fairer conditions, and lastly a nondescript Crozes Hermitage which we are drinking now and is very pleasant, well balanced and reasonable value at about a tenner.

Xmas eve tomorrow and a big wine day for us. Our first Xmas eve in this house some years ago we had some bubbly (can't remember which) and a 1988 Lynch Bages, which was spectacular. I have a Bollinger Rosé in the fridge and after that my favourite, but never tasted wine, a 2000 Lynch Bages. I have built this wine up so I hope it delivers...

Merry Xmas to one and all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

TorreSilo - Ribera Del Duero 2006

Just a quick note on the Ribera at left, another of my ever decreasing stock of good (i.e. b'day) wine. I've had plenty of moderately priced Riberas and they can be very good but often you need to shell out some decent wedge for a fine example. Ribera is seen as more young cool and trendy compared to its older and more staid neighbour Rioja.

This Torresilo proved no exception, it was quite a modern and upfront in style, but as I love, it was wonderfully balanced, some nice concentrated fruit, light unobtrusive tannins and a lengthy finish. I suspect it wasn't cheap but if you are in the market for this style or you want to impress your host...

Bizarrely I had occasion to dine twice on Friday in the same upmarket Chinese/Asian Fusion restaurant. At lunchtime a Montes Cab Sav Reserve from Chile was chosen, I was not overly looking forward to this as I have found similar wines in the past to be either overly fruity or overly oaked. I was pleasantly surprised however as this wine was neither of these things, fruity yes but not overly so and it had a little structure to counterbalance any jamminess, so much so that I chose it for the evening repast and I think it went well with the food.

Just goes to show you that sometimes you should you should take a chance on a wine, or a horse, well maybe not a horse...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Domus Aurea - It means House of Gold**

Another one of the birthday wines is currently being imbibed, and while this is not a liveblog cum movie review, I thought I might comment on tonight's TV for a change of pace.

Firstly the wine, a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, it is promoted as the product of Terroir, which is unusual for the New World and the Oddbins tasting notes are a bit florid:

"Searingly intense, hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck raising stuff! Pure, vibrant aromas of cassis mix with mint, rosemary, redcurrant and blueberry notes. The palate is concentrated and complex with soft, silky tannins and a monumental finish."

Well, this is a big fruity beast, no doubt about that. Lots of Ribena, but not in a Shiraz, in your face kind of way. Silky tannins, check - complex and concentrated, - reasonably so. As with the kind of New World wine that I like the fruit is balanced by some structure and complexity. The finish is big and getting bigger.

9-25 Gavin & Stacy (4 of 6) is about to end, it's still better than most things on TV but I agree with AA Gill that they have got a tiny bit lazy this series. Episode 1 of Season 3 of The Big Bang Theory next - a comedy for geeks, I wonder why I like it...

9-55 This is getting better, the finish is getting longer, a little extra complexity becoming apparent. The wine is pretty good too.

10-25 Honestly, I'm really loving this now, it has really opened up in the last hour, developing some decent depth, complexity and length. I'd have to say its up there with the Bin 389 for pricey (approx €25 - €30), New World vino that really hits the spot.

How I Met Your Mother, Season 4 also started tonight with a solid outing, although sadly now down to once a week, I know that feeling.

Lastly, I promise, I found this link which mentioned the Domus Aurea and had lots of info on New World Cabernets.

**It really does, you know. I got an "A" in Inter cert Latin.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Amarone - It means "I love you"**

After a couple of bottles of this Malbec at home and more at the in-laws posh "do" yesterday for the neighbours, I thought I would crack something a bit different, a bit fancier, one of the selection I got for my hmmm hmmm birthday.

This is the first Amarone I've had for a while and the first I've had a chance to drink with an eye on a review. This one from Brigaldara was opened for a good hour before drinking.

This was a muscular, finely tannic wine with some spicy raisiny fruit and very little acidity. As usual with a fine wine the balance and harmony of this wine impressed me hugely and add to that a lingering finish and there's not much more you'd ask for in a wine, perhaps if it was 20 quid cheaper! BTW this Amarone came in at a whopping 16% abv, although it didn't taste overly strong.

**Only kidding , of course it doesn't - full details of the Amarone/Ripasso process here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Use Your Illusion - Part 1

My friend Papi sent me a mail with some very interesting links on wine tasting;

In this fascinating article a retired professor of statistics applied some scientific rigour to the art of tasting and comes to some unsettling conclusions.

Here's an interesting profile of the most powerful man in wine - Robert Parker.

Another Parker article here - a blind tasting of some previously highly rated 2005 Bordeaux by the man himself - who claims to remember every one of 220,000 wines tasted.

On a personal note - we are drinking the first bottle of the case of Santa Ann Eco Malbec - so far so hmmmm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

I can't think of a snappy title...

Right - a few quick updates -

Got my case of this Malbec today - woo hoo. Hope it is as nice as the first bottle. I have to give some away off the bat to say a big thank you to a few people for services rendered on Sunday, it was much appreciated.

Was at another "do" last week in Donnybrook fair . We started with some Prosecco - meh. Followed by the same lovely white we had last time, yum. The red from the last evening was not served, boo, I have bought this Pegos Claros a few times since April and can highly recommend it. Instead we had another Portugese wine a Douro, I didn't get the name unf. It was a decent number, typical Douro-ish flavours.

John from Wine Australia has asked me to let y'all know about some Christmas Gift ideas here. I personally am tempted by the Barossa dinner in Fallon & Byrne on Jan 26th - Any of the usual suspects interested?

Finally, I opened the last of the bottles of Tautavel I had previously bought for the b'day dinner, last night. If you decant this wine fro at least an hour, I can't believe there's a better wine you can get for less then €8.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chateau Destiny

On a whim I decided to open the dusty number at left, which I have had in my "cellar" for a number of years - I think I got it as part payment for a nixer. Either way I figured its time had come. Robert Parker, on the other hand disagrees . He had a '96 St Emilion as an 87T, T being "still tannic, youthful or slow to mature", 87 being the score, which is "above average to excellent".

Incidentally - Chateau Despair was one of the eight Grand Cru that were demoted in the 2006 St Emilion Classification but were re-instated after much legal wrangling - full story here.

I was not surprised by this wine - I expected it to be a decent, mid range Bordeaux and thus it was. Nice but unexceptional.

Back on Topic: I'm gonna try and get to Aldi this weekend as it's the only big chain whose wines I haven't tried.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Liveblog - Santa Ana Eco Malbec 2007

For no good reason I've decided to liveblog on a Tuesday, the wine in question was given to me on Sunday by my big sis during the third and hopefully final weekend of birthday shenanigans. This particular occasion was the traditional family birthday dinner - held for the first time chez nous, due to the application of two large pieces of MDF duct taped to our existing table - cheers D!. Herself made a delicious tajine and I accompanied it with copious amounts of this, which seemed to go down OK.

7-00pm - Opened and decanted. I love Malbecs and sis has good taste in wine so have high hopes for this. Smells nice although at this stage is still a little cold.

9-00pm - Just back from an emergency onion run (don't ask). I still haven't got the wine quite warm enough but even cool its very tasty. Some gentle tannins evident as well as a sort of Malbec structure for want of a better phrase, which I love.

10-00pm - Mmmm very smooth, some nice plummy fruit and a lovely long finish. Need to find out where she got this. At the moment this is a very fancy wine, up there with the Trapiche Malbec and more rounded than the Norton Privada.

10-30pm - Showing a little more fruit now but still complex, tasty and fine. When I find out where to get it I'll let y'all know.

**Update** - This turned out, not entirely co-incidentally, to be a wine I tried to buy a case of a few weeks ago to no avail. I went back to the source and have hopefully secured a case for next week. So be nice to me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Birthday Wines II - The Stragglers

Just a quick note on a couple of other fine wines I also got from more generous souls for my birthday.

Chateau Belgrave Haut Medoc 2004 - Cheers Rigo - looks lovely.

Chateau Lynch Bages 2000 - My all time favourite wine that, I have never tasted, cheers Papa.

Faustino 1 Gran Reserva 1996 - A classic Rioja from S&V

Note: This blog been way Off Topic the last couple of weeks, its supposed to be about good value wine in Dublin, not a parade of fancy, pricey wine that people give me. Thanks to everyone for the fine wine and normal service will soon be restored, once I drink all the good stuff 8-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday Night Fever

There's a joke, of sorts in the title. You see, June didn't get a Thanksgiving dinner this year so we offered to do a little Turkey and I added a sweetner with the offer to open my birthday Montrachet and that sealed the deal. We started with it:

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean 2005 - delicious, minerally, a little bit biscuity. As my ol' papa once told me "White Burgundy & Red Bordeaux" was the way to go so, following that maxim, next up was a Bordeaux give to me by Rigo for my Birthday.

Chateau Belgrave - Haut Medoc 2004 - This was an extremely nice claret. I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened this, I had thought this would be a decent tipple, drinking well now and for another few years. As it happened this turned out to be a cracker, a very big, fruity beast, don't know where to get it but I'd buy more if I could.

At this point June's bug re-asserted itself and she has to retire for the evening, which was doubly unfortunate for her as she had brought along a wine I'd given her for her birthday and which we had already decanted, and so myself and Herself had to drink it.

d'Arenberg Sticks and Stones 2004 - A very unusual blend of grapes here; Tempranillo, Grenache, and Souzao (description here), the last grape I'd never even heard of. I opened and decanted this at 7 o'clock, it took until about 9-30 before this wine really opened up. It didn't help that the wine was a little cool from June's "cellar". Initially this was a touch sharp and acidic, but by the time 9-30 rolled around it had morphed into a complex , warm, rich beauty. Sorry June, I'll buy you another bottle.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Trying Birthday Wines 1- The Phantom Menace

This probably not the best time to do a wine write up, after several pints of Arthur's finest but hey, the show must go on. After trying the first two I feel I should at least do a quick review.

Scala dei Cartoixa Priorat 2005 - I didn't know what to expect here having never had a Priorat before. Quite a big fruity nose when I decanted it but not so much in evidence after an hour. A big powerful wine, Herself reckoned quite Bordeaux like, I thought it more mid-Atlantic, with some fruity characteristics along with some old-world structure. Very nice all told and I will endeavour to try more from this regions as the purse allows.

Norton Privada 2006 - I noted in my initial post that "the privada is a premium version, with Cab Sav & Merlot added, so am expecting good things here". This was to be its strength and its undoing. I really liked the care that into making this wine, sometimes you can taste it, but I wasn't such a fan of the sweet, fruity notes therein. Perhaps this was to do with the fact that Cab Sav and Merlot had been added to the normally Old World-ish Malbec (one of only six wines allowed when making Bordeaux).

Note: I have mixed feelings about not being 100% enthusiastic about wines which I have been generously given as birthday presents but I guess there's always the dichotomy between "journalistic" integrity and something something - screw it, I'm off to watch the Late Late Toy Show.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

John Wilson's Favourite Australians Report

Went to John Wilson's favourite Australians last night with BE as described here, organised by John McDonnell from Wine Australia. We had a fun time and managed to try 31 of the 70 wines which ranged in price from €7-99 for a Michelton Thomas Mitchel Marsanne to an eye watering €200 odd for a 2001 Penfold's Grange. The wines were divided up into sections (loosely) by grape and/or style as follows:

Note: All reviews are based on a few single words and underlinings scribbled on the program, and some of them are now wholly illegible/unintelligible.

"Serious Fizz" - Four sparklers, we tried all but the most expensive and as predicted (I am becoming a shocking champagne snob), they got better as the price increased with the most expensive we tried, the Green Point Sparkling NV being deliciously buttery and the most champagne-esque.

"Fresh and Zingy" - 8 wines, mostly Semillon , unf. this table was mobbed and the next table was empty (Rieslings) so we tried not a one of these and later on plum forgot to go back - oops.

"The World of Riesling" - After missing out on the zing we sampled three of these (of nine - when you have a potential 70 wines to taste, you start slow). All were decent. The Chalker's Crossing was light and dry (€12-95), the Wakefield Estate , bigger more upfront (€12-99), and lastly the most expensive, the Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (€32-99) a delicious minerally beast.

"Plump and Round" - not YHB but various odds and sods Whites. We were getting warmed up here and managed a creditable 5 out of 8. The cheapest wine of the night a Michelton Thomas Mitchel Marsanne, was perfectly pleasant, while the Tahbilk Marsanne was bigger and bolder and a snip at €11-95. After a sweet Yalumba Viognier (€13-99) and a sweeter d'Arenburg The Hermit Crab (€13-95) we sampled the most expensive wine of the section at €29-99, The Henschke Pinot Gris which a lightly fruited and very stylish finish to this part of the repast.

"Classic Chardonnay" - We tried the two very expensive chardonnays (out of three) and to be honest, while they were both very pleasant albeit New Worldy (IMHO) , I wouldn't lash out 50 notes on either the Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay (€49-99) or the Leewin Art Series Chardonnay (€54-00). John Wilson loves both and he's the professional but for this money I'd take a Montrachet. Here endeth the Whites.

"Pinot Corner" - Four Moderately priced Pinots and a dear one, we tried two moderate ones and, of course, the pricey one. The M&S tasmanin Pinot was OK, light but pleasant and priced well at (€12-49). The Yering Station, not so cheap at €18-50 but a decent step up from the M&S with a bit more depth of flavour. Lastly the De Bertoli, to be served chilled by all accounts, coming in at a cool €40-50. Very nice but good value?

"Glorious Grenache" - Again we had two of three here - the d'Arenberg Stump Jump, a delicious GSM and a steal at €11-95, followed by the St Hallett Gamekeeper's Reserve, very nice, very French and a bigger steal at €9-99.

"Cabernet and Bordeaux Blends" - some of these wines re-affimed by dislike for pure Oz Caberents. The style just isn't for me, too dry and tannic with wines such as the Grosset Gaia (€39-95) and the Parker Estate Cabernet (€28-00). The Clairaut Estate Cabernet Merlot (€31-00) however, was right up my street, "harmonious and fruity" according to my notes.

"Shiraz and Blends" - 21 wines here spread over two tables making this the biggest section on the night and perhaps a glimpse into Johns Wilson's personal preferences? We sampled 10 out of 21 which wasn't bad going . I have a confession to make at this point; the final 4 shiraz's tasted were tasted very early in the night. After the Rieslings, we noticed John Wilson and an attendee* having a crafty tipple of the Grange. Fearing that we might lose out on it if we kept moving around the tables in order, we shamelessly ran over to blag some of Australia's finest. The attendee turned out to be Lar from SourGrapes who was making a flying visit. It was nice to put a face to a name, cheers Lar.

Anyway, the wines. Tyrells Vat 9 Shiraz (€37-99) - not great, corked we reckoned. Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz (€23-99), lovely, subtle, scribble. Innocent Bystander Shiraz/Viognier (€14-99) - great value, very French. Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz - too fruity for me and too dear at €50. Voyager Estate Shiraz (€27-50) - lovely, refined much better value than the Mt Langi. Tim Adams Shiraz, as recommended by our knowledgeable server, fantastic, balanced, super value.
The Last Four were - Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz, fine structure and body (€24), Henschke Mount Edelstone (€75) pricey but very nice. Penfolds St Henri (€56-49) - the new baby Grange, same grapes, different barrels, very refined and fine indeed. The Grange (drumroll), I have wanted to try this for years but have never had the spons. Firstly a big alcoholic wash and then a huge finish and lots of oak. An experience, but not worth €200 in my book.

"Sweet and Sticky" - We tried two out of four here on the way out the door, a little unsteadily if truth be told. Grant Burge 10 year old Tawny, very port-ish and BE loved it. Rutherglen Estates Muscat - Deliciously sweet dessert wine.

Many thanks to the Johns and to all concerned. The lesson to myself on the night is that on the white side my tastes tend to the Rieslings and the offbeat whites, Marsanne & Viognier. On the Red side I seem to favour medium priced reds (€15- €30), the cheaper reds I generally find too jammy and the more expensive reds seem not to be such good value, as there is plenty of quality in the mid-range.

Next up - either Birthday Wines II - The Stragglers or my reviews of the first two wines of Birthday Wines I - The Siblings which we have opened so far.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Whiskey - Too much is never enough.

As I noted previously people have been extraordinarily generous this year on the occasion of my Derek Nimmo birthday. Bizarrely, Derek was a wine expert and wrote books on the subject - who knew, eh Obo?

Back on topic, three new whiskeys to introduce (L-R)

Glenmorangie Original - As time goes on I like this whiskey more and more. Plus it came with two nifty whiskey tumblers, which I was sadly lacking in. Nice one BigBog (and his lovely wife)

Ballantines 21 yo - Am dying to try this 21 year old, deep dark brown coloured blend - Alas not on a school night, roll on Friday. Check out http://www.ballantines.com/ for tasting notes.
(Cheers guitar man & mrs)

Bowmore 18 - Until I got the Ballantines this was briefly my oldest whiskey. I have had great experience with older Islays - Laphrohaig , Caol Ila and Bruich Laddich older expressions are normally less in your face and more refined and complex IMHO. This should not be an exception. (As previously noted - Ta BigWop)

Not pictured are a Glenfiddich 12yo (Kev's favorite) and a bottle of delicious Powers to restore the balance somewhat towards the Irish.

Next Up - Birthday Wine 2 - The Drunkening

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Birthday Wine I

As I mentioned in my last post, I got a selection of fine wines from three of my siblings, I have divided them up into three groups.

Old World Whites (L-R)

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean 2005 - I've had a number of Montrachets over the years including a particularly fine one the day after my wedding, whose name escapes me, and have always enjoyed them. Again am looking forward to this.

Meursault "En la Barre" 2001 Francois Jobard - I love white burgundy but have never had a Meursault, my bad. Looking forward to this a lot and will wait for a special occasion.

Old World Reds (L-R)

Corton Clos Du Roi Grand Cru 2006 - A very, very fine Burgundy, 91 points from Wine Spectator, will keep this for a while, methinks.

Scala dei Cartoixa Priorat 2005 - I have always wanted to try a Priorat, having heard great things about this boutique, low volume Spaniard from Catalonia. Am drinking it as I type, yum, review to follow.

Torresilo Ribera Del Duero 2006 - Even though we are sort of a Rioja family, I have always had a soft spot of Riberas. One we will drink soon.

Amarone della Valpolicella Vignetti di Marcellise 2006 - Another one of my fave wines, Amarone. I, being cheap, normally go for the poor man's Amarone, Valpolicalla Ripapsso, so hey, bonus.

New World Reds (L-R)

Norton Privada 2006 - Grandad D got me into Norton a number of years ago . They make a pretty decent entry level Malbec that I have drunk gallons of. The privada is a premium version, with Cab Sav & Merlot added, so am expecting good things here.

Tapanappa Whalebone Vineyard Cabernet Shiraz 2004 - This sounds very interesting, an Ozzie Cabernet Shiraz that is selling itself on the basis of its terroir, which is unusual for a New world wine, BE needs to be here for this one.

Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - This is supposed to be a huge beast of a wine and one of Chile's best. I have had mixed results with Chile in the past, most of what I have tasted has been cheap & fruity and not for me but this looks quality, again terroir is being promoted.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


We decide to celebrate the aforementioned birthday with a dinner for two at Pichet on trinity street about which much had been written since it opened, most of it very good. For the evening that was in it, rather than have a pint in a pub beforehand we opted to go all posh and have a glass of wine in the winebar in the basement of Fallon & Byrne, which belied the "recession" by being jammed.

Herself made a bold choice, a Pinotage Viognier mix from Fairview in South Africa, which was delicious - fruity and smoky, although perhaps enough at one glass, YHB would find it a little cloying to drink a whole bottle. I chose a Capezanna Barco Reale Di Carmignano a Tuscan (super?) with a nice mix of fruit and tannins.

Then off to the main event in Pichet. Firstly the food was superb and very reasonably priced, we had 2 glasses of Champagne , a 500ml Pichet of Barbera d'Alba, 2 starters, 2 mains, one dessert (I'm watching my figure), a coffee and a green tea for less then a hundred notes. I had heard the service could be patchy but ours was very good, perhaps because main man Nick was on duty,
btw - the deep fried hen's egg starter is justifiably famous.

On an unrelated note, I must have been a nicer person in a past life cos two people have just dropped in presents. BigWop just called in with an 18yo Bowmore from Islay and my eldest bro popped by after with a selection of nine carefully selected wines from himself, my sister and my youngest bro, all from Oddbins. There are some very nice wines indeed in this selection which will form the basis of my next post.

Tonight its off to the pub to get slaughtered with the laws, in-laws, and anybody else who wants to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dunnes Tautavel and other news

I'm laid up again. This time with a nasty stomach bug/flu, looks like someone is trying to ensure I don't enjoy the celebrations for my (hem-hem)th birthday. I seem (touch wood) to be over the worst of it and while I'm not yet in the mood to drink wine I should be able to at least waffle about it.

Also (touch wood again) I'm going to finally get to go to a Wine Australia do, this one, next Tuesday. I have a long complex relationship with Australian wine which has evolved as my tastes have changed over the years as explained here, and I'm looking forward to this evening followed by Liverpool and Lyon victories in the Champions league.

Firstly a quick report on the Chateau Camplazens La Garrigue 2004 we sampled last Sunday night. As the tasting notes opined, this was a fairly light wine (60% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 10% Carignan) but with plenty of cherry and herbaceous flavours. A little Chateau Neuf du Pape'y IMHO.

Next up a wine I used to drink a load of but Dunnes haven't stocked it for a while, the Gerard Bertrand Tautavel reserve 2006. Perhaps this is a different vintage to the stuff I used to drink, I can't recall noting the year. the confusing this about this wine is that it appears to be the same as the Tesco Tautavel I tried last week, albeit with a different label and a different year (2005) - see here.

The Dunnes variety is, and has always been on sale at half price for €7-99. One thing I discovered about it back in the day was that it must be decanted for a good hour. It is only at this stage that the flavours begin to emerge. I didn't really enjoy this particular bottle for some reason but I had bought three as emergency wines for Saturday so I'll try it again and see if its as good as the Tesco instance.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Latest Whiskeys & a big surprise.

Another whiskey post coming at ya so if you so if that's not your bag please look away now.

Three kind people opted to celebrate my recent naissance with the gift of single malt scotch whiskey. I don't know where they got the idea that I'd like that. I also got another booze related gift that I've wanted for ages - a homebrew kit from these guys. Thanks to all concerned and for all the other presents.

From left to right they are:

Glenmorangie Lasanta - I sampled this at a tasting back in August and fell in love with it then. Although I had forgotten that it weighs in at a hefty 46% abv. We had a good go at this on the night and I look forward to savouring this in a more relaxing environment.

The Glenlivet French Oak Reserve 15yo - I have only had the 12yo before which I liked so am looking forward to this one. "Selective maturation in new Limousin oak casks, usually reserved for wine, has added delicate overtones of the spices highly prized in fine wines, while perfectly complementing the subtle elegance of the original malt," explains Jim Cryle, Master Distiller at The Glenlivet Distillery.

Springbank "Longrow" 7yo Gaja Barolo Cask Finish - this is a whiskey that cries out for a drop of water, not least because it comes in at a whopping 55.6% abv! We had a quick nip of this on the night and it was peaty and powerful. This a very unusual dram, matured for 5.5 years in Bourbon casks followed by 18 months in Barolo casks.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's just a number...

Well, it's all over. Firstly a big thank you to Herself for secretly organising the whole shebang and for providing a wonderful 6 course meal to celebrate our XX birthday. All the courses were delicious and especially the Mushroom cappuccino and the pork belly main.

Secondly, kudos to sous chef June, who gave up her Friday night to make the Chocolate whiskey truffle souffles and who heroically struggled to the dinner despite being quite under the weather.

Thirdly thanks to all who came and for the lovely gifts, wines, whiskeys, chocolates etc.

On the wine front we started out with a couple of bottles of Veuve-Clicquot NV, as furnished by the newly svelte Jess, who also brought along her own Bombay mix. This was delicious and refreshing and I'm turning into a champagne snob.

With the first course , the aforementioned Mushroom Cappuccino served as an accompaniment to a chunk of Fois Gras and a hockey puck of Duck Rillette, I served Chateau Haut-Theulet Monbazillac - 2004, that I picked up here. It was sweet, orangey and gorgeous.

Next up was a smoked salmon and rocket salad drizzled with a creme fraiche and horseradish dressing, with which I served another wine from here, the Chateau Cailleval - Bergerac Sec - 2007, which was OK. Perhaps it suffered being in between the Monbazillac and the Montalcino.

The main course was a triumph, braised pork belly served with pea champ, caramelised apple and Calvados jus. Herself cooked this for approx 4 hours on a low heat and it was fabulous.
We had the Rosso di Montalcino with the pork and while the wine itself was delicious, maybe a slightly more full bodied wine would have suited the flavours of the dish better.

Next up were the Chocolate whiskey truffle souffles,which unfortunately were served without their creator who had retired early due to illness. I served a lovely Sauternes with this, also brought along by Jess, a Chateau Filhot 2005. June had also brought a dessert wine and an unusual one at that. A sweet red Signature Vin Doux Natural from Rasteau. This is a pure old-vine Grenache, the jury is still out on this one, I'd need to try it again, when I'm slightly more sober. We also had a cork malfunction with this one and it kind of went everywhere, sorry Big Nose.

With the cheeses (from Matthews cheese cellar) we finished off the Montalcino and opened a couple of the wines presented on the night, a Clos Du Val Caberbnet 2004, a Frentano Montepulciano 2007 and so on. I had started on my new Whiskeys at this stage (on which I will post separately) so I didn't get to do much more wine tasting.

Tonight we are going to try a Chateau Camplazens La Garrigue 2004 from the La Clape Sub-Appelation in the Languedoc, brought along by the third member of our little club, media darling JK and his lovely wife.

Anyhoo - less typing more imbibing, smell you all later.

**Update** - after some rather scathing input from Herself on my use of the vernacular, I have made some changes to the above post. I hope I didn't offend anyone with the changes what I done.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Taste of Italy

I'm back in the land of the living, just, and I give thanks, as a devout Pastafarian, to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I'm back off the wagon. It was truly the driest weekend in living memory.

Anyhoo, we having a little soirette this Saturday, to celebrate a variety of milestones, mine not the least, but especially my old friend Edwaf returning home for the weekend from Chicago (Thanks Jess!!). JK while not yet "there" will also be a guest of honour.

As the winebore in residence it would ill behoove me to serve anything other than various fine wines. I have in stock, a Monbazillac (to go with the Fois Gras) and some Bererac Sec (fish course) from May, along with some nice bubbly as an aperitif. I wanted some nice red for the main, so I went to O'Brien's with Little Bill on Saturday in the midst of the aforementioned drought.

I had thought Bordeaux or Italian, and as usual any decent Bordeaux was out of my price range given the volume I needed to buy. So Italian it was. The helpful chap recommended this Sangiovese or this Valpolicella Ripasso based on my specifications.

I went back tonight to buy both to taste them but they only had 2 bottles of the Tuscan in stock and won't get any more of it in time for the big event. The suggested alternative, a Rosso di Montalcino, along with the Valpolicello Ripasso were duly purchased, see picture above.

I decided, rather than try them on consecutive nights to open both tonight, and do a direct comparison. The Valpolicella Ripasso tasted quite sharp initially but after 30 minutes or so in the glass it evolved into a big, tannic beast, delicious but maybe not a party wine.

The Rosso di Montalcino however was a much more balanced if lighter wine, perfectly balanced and wonderful - we have a winner.

That's it for now, I'll let you know on Sunday how it all went.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I'm back to being the elephant man so no more jar for a few days - see here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tesco Tautavel

I wrote this earlier in the week...

Last but not least I also picked up a Tesco Tautavel 2005, a snip at €10-79 (I hope), it's an Appelation Cotes Du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Controlee by Gerard Bertrand, phew. Don't know much about Tautavel except its in the Languedoc and Dunnes used to sell one for €8-50 (half price, they said) which was delicious but it absolutely had to be decanted for best effect.

Name: Tesco Tautavel 2005 Gerard Bertrand
Year: 2005
Price: €10-79
Notes: I loved, loved, loved this. Similar to the Dunnes version, this needed some time in the decanter, but boy howdy it was worth the wait. The first thing you notice is the spiciness, followed by some fruit and a wash of soft tannins. A lovely and complex wine and great value for a tenner.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

John Wilson's Favourite Australians

John Wilson's Favourite Australians
Tuesday 24th November
6.30pm - 8.30pm
The Function Room at Fallon and Byrne,
11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2

John McDonnell from Wine Australia has asked me to give a shout about the above event which I hope to attend. John has invited me to many wine events and due to a variety of people letting me down 8-) I have been unable to go to any of these, d'oh. Either way here is the skinny from John Mc

"During the summer I gave John the task of pulling together his selection of Favourite Australian wines.
The task wasn't to draw up a list of Australia's best wines, but as John says,
"My first criteria for choosing these wines was very simple; would I be happy to share a bottle of any of them with my friends? The answer had to be yes. The list is certainly not a definitive gathering of the greatest wines of Australia, although I have included a fair number of these. It is my personal choice of the best Australian wines I have enjoyed over the last year."
The task is now complete (with a final count of 70 wines) which covers all styles, regions and prices.
John and myself will host a tasting of all these wines on the evening of Tuesday 24th November in Fallon and Byrne.
Places cost 20 Euro and are available from our office on ireland@wineaustralia.com or 065 7077264.
(This could be the event to take away all those Christmas buying and present selecting challenges.)"

Well there you have it, what are you still doing here? Go drink some wine or something.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Invisible airwaves crackle with life

or something. Lots to get through so let's get this moving along fairly lively.

Firstly I made a quick pit stop at the new Off Licence in the Village (the Vineyard) and had lovely chat with the(I'm guessing French) chap inside who I presume is the boss. He recommended the wine above a Morellino Di Sansano Serpaia 2007 , priced on the not inconsiderable level of €16. This is 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany. I liked this but I didn't love it, it was perfectly fine, some nice cherry bitterness and a decent finish but for the money I expected a little more.

I was also recommended the Altitude 450 Cotes Du Ventoux for the visit of the Outlaws, "lil" sis and the flyboy on Sunday which I had intended to pick up on the day. Unfortunately I had to work all day (mutter mutter) and I had to pick up spuds and ginger and a couple of other things on the way so Tesco was the only place for me (Ever tried buying root ginger in a Spar/Londis/Centra?).

The wine above was on special offer and me being a dedicated bargain hunter (cheap) I got three. Tesco Cotes Du Rhone Villages Reserve 2007, our guests all opined in the positive and I liked it too. A little lighter and fruitier than recent Rhone wines we been drinking, this went well the leg of "lamb chicken" ( Little Bill only eats chicken- beef chicken, lamb chicken, bacon chicken, pork chicken - you get the idea)

Last but not least I also picked up a Tesco Tautavel 2005, a snip at €10-49 (I hope), it's an Appelation Cotes Du Roussillon Villages Tautavel Controlee by Gerard Bertrand, phew. Don't know much about Tautavel except its in the Languedoc and Dunnes used to sell one for €8-50 (half price, they said) which was delicious but it absolutely had to be decanted for best effect. Anyhoo - back to Kenny Powers.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Morning

Hola Amigos,

it's been a while since I blogged at ya, things have been busy. Last night I was at a "do" at a corporate headquarters where we were served some OK chardonnay and an indifferent Minervois. It was a moderately sized "do", maybe 50 people, so was not terribly surprised at the quality of the vino on offer. The last bottle of the Minervois was off though, which was then poured into our glasses by the otherwise very professional waiters. Is it unreasonable to expect each bottle to be checked? Perhaps.

Big news locally, a new off licence has opened up nearby in Stepaside Village, attached to the new Loughlins pub (used to be the old Mountainview Inn). I'm gonna go down later and check it out. I Fancy a big bloody steak tonight so will try to pick up something to go with it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lidl Montepulciano to Bombay

After our traumatic move back to the mountains we couldn't be arsed cooking so we opted for the best Indian food available in Ireland (IMHO) - Bombay Pantry. Our nearest is on the Grange road, right beside a big Lidl which fortuitously was still open when I arrived to collect the hot curries. I had literally 3 minutes so I ran in and grabbed three bottles of the Lidl Montepulciano (€4-79)!!.

I have tasted it a couple of time before here and here. It's pretty decent and at this price, its a no-brainer. They are also selling Tyskie for €1-43 a bottle - very good value.

Last post I mentioned that we had bought an own brand Minervois in M&S, it was OK, drinkable but not memorable, I'd do a full review but I can't be bothered, it's late and I'm back to work in the morning. Gah.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

NOBby and Big Ears

Had a lovely evening yesterday at NOB and BigEars house in the country, well not really the country but Meath. We had a large selection of wine both provided by our gracious hosts and brung along by June, BigNose, and BigHead. The occasion was to celebrate June's "Hitchhikers Guide" birthday and a good time was had by all, although I'm not as good at Wii bowling as I think I am, particularly at 1-30 in the morning after all the wine below.

We started off with a home town favourite, a Rioja, specifically a 2004 Marques de Riscal Reserva, which I really like and never disappoints, with lots of vanilla and oak.

Next up was one of mine. I had brung along a couple of bottles of the Malbec at left from Oddbins, Herself had bought one for a girly night and liked it so I got a couple to go with the beef I was told we were having. As with a lot of recent wines I initially thought this was a "two pronger". I envision two prongs of flavour and a gap in between. The two prongs being fruit and tannins, but no harmony or balance to the wine. I expect this was not unrelated to the wine not having a decent chance to breathe and it did improve over time. Although that time was short as each wine was swiftly dispatched by the thirsty mob.

Next up was BigNose's contribution to the evening, a Tour Des Gendres Bergerac 2007. He wasn't impressed with it but I though it was a fine if a little dry, but perfect with food. Off to Italy with us next for a Villa Antinori 2005, as supplied by BigHead although he denied brining it, for some reason. This could be described as an affordable Supertuscan, with some red berries, soft tannins, a well balanced and delicious wine all round. They also make the Santa Christina Sangoivese which I see everywhere and this appears to be the next wine up from that.

Next up was June's wine and I think, the star of the evening for me. There were a number of d'Arenburg wines knocking about on the night ( I gave June a bottle of 2005 The Sticks and Stones), and she in turn brought along a 2001 Bonsai Vine, a Grenache (70%) Shiraz (25%) Mourvedre (5%). This was quite jammy and sweet with a very New World style, light years from its Rhone cousin. I have previously opined that a wine that jammy can only work if the sweetness is balanced by some depth and structure, and this was. Not only that, this wine felt very well made, if that makes sense. As usual d'Arenburg doesn't disappoint.

I think that was it on the wine front, there was also Baileys liqueur and some Quilmes beer from Argentina that was nice but bloody expensive from Oddbins. You think I'd have learned after the Krombacher mentioned in the last post.

Our Sunday night wine, an own-brand 2007 Minervois, was brought to us by Marks and Spencer, the number 7 and the letter Q.

Friday, October 23, 2009

El Quintanal Ribera Del Duera 2007 Liveblog and more...

I'm back - in liveblog form. Tonight it's a Ribera from Oddbins. I was out getting the fish and chips and popped in to pick up a bottle for tonight. The most promising was a Chianti but it seems I've been drinking nothing but for the last couple of weeks so I passed on it. Then I saw this fruity little number...

7-30 I've just opened and decanted this, smells fruity.

8-30 First taste - not great. Quite fruity and a little cheap tasting. Hope this improves...actually I don't think it will, down the sink it goes - sorry Oddbins. Hmmm- no other red in the house, I need a plan B.

9-00 When I said there was no more red in the house I was being truthful, however I knew that M&J's stash of vino is secreted in the shed. Last time I blogged on one our their wines here I really liked it. Tonight I found a Chateau Rocher Lideyre Cotes de Castillon 1999 (not the last one - don't worry). However the last time we tried this particular wine I thought that it was just on the edge of drinkability and on the way slowly out. It's still a little cool although I've been warming it on the stove, and its very earthy. More anon.

9-30 Yummy - Cashel Blue and Carr's Nibbles with Black Onion seed and Rosemary - kudos to Granny G for the crackers.

9-32 Way to bury the lede, dummy. Back to the wine. Very unusual colour, almost brown in the glass. The wine is pleasant, some of that Bordeaux minerality and some nice tannins. I expect it'll get better as it warms up but I'm pretty convinced that its past its best, that's my excuse for nicking it anyway.

10-00 Herself is a mine of information. "Earthy" has been updated to "Very Earthy". Me - as anticipated the wine is showing a little more complexity.

While I'm here I have to say 2 things about Oddbins:
1) I'm disappointed with Oddbins stocking such a cheap tasting and unimpressive wine, they are generally much better in their selections. Note: I bought this on my own without any advice or lack thereof from the staff who are almost always very well versed not only in wine but in Scotch also.
2) They really know how to charge for their beers. I suppose its because you're a captive audience at that stage. I bought two 500ml bottles of Krombacher (try it, very very nice), for the immodest price of €2-99 each. I know its a "premium" lager but still...

10-45 Time to wrap this up, this is a nice wine, on its last legs but still drinking. No movie to go with the liveblog tonight, for a change, watching the Late Late til JRoss comes on. That bird with the house on her head sure sung purty.

J&M - I'll make it up to you at Xmas with the finest wines known to humanity, and lots of Whiskey too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I've started tweeting. My twitter name is, predictably, @willieswineblog.
Now I have to find fun and interesting things to tweet.
You know I will, so go and follow me - now!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday - Chianti Overload

First off - lets deal with Chianti I got in Tesco that I mentioned to in my last post.

Name: Famiglia Terracia Chianti Riserva
Year: 2006
Price: €6-99 (Reduced from €13-99)
Notes: This started off with one main characteristic- acidity and a little of that cherry bitterness. Two, two main characteristics - acidity, bitterness and a gentle hint of tannins. Three - its chief attributes were acidity, bitterness, tannins and some fullness of flavour. Amongst its weaponry were numbered - acidity, some cherry bitterness, a hint of tannins, some fullness of flavour and a decent balance. Crap Monty Python rip-offs aside this was very good value at the price.

Next off - I have decanted another bottle of this Chianti a short while ago, what I enjoyed last week (from Oddbins) all the while being a tiny bit dubious about it in a way I couldn't quite articulate. I'm not going to liveblog again (Ed. - phew). But I am going to have a little tipple right now...

Hmmmmmmm - inky purple in the glass, it's a little sharp with perhaps a suggestion of tannins. Could be to do with the fact is hasn't been decanting that long - time will, literally, tell.

On a not-really-related note we had food again from Kanum on Mespil road last night, and I have to say this place is almost certainly the best Thai food in Dublin, and if not that then definitely the best take-away Thai food in Dublin. Along with "Little" Sis and the flyboy we had a green curry, a yellow curry (best - yellow - curry - ever), a duck stir fry and a prawn thing. All were superb. It's also very close to Beshoffs chipper, it's no wonder I'm short for my weight.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A trip around France - of sorts.

Last night we had the Bergerac six over for dinner in our town pad, homemade (spicy) tomato and roasted pepper soup and a bastardised Jamie chicken stew, made with a proper organic chicken. I think a lot of this organic business is a bit of a con but this chicken definitely used to run around the outdoors and tasted as such, but I digress - there was a wide variety of wine sampled.

After the obligatory beer - Carlsberg Export*, we had a bottle of Gavi of which my brother had given me a half dozen of a while back, we all liked it although opinions ranged bizarrely widely on the sweetness or lack thereof, we agreed - let's all drink more white.

After this I decided we should drink the Lynch Bages 2001 which I'd got from BE here. Again we all liked this but perhaps we were a little disappointed, while it was lovely it wasn't the ultimate expression of the Bordeaux craft, I blame myself, for some reason.

I was supposed to take delivery of 6 Argentinian Malbec and 6 Jacques Boyd but that seems to have fallen through so I had some of this handy, which we had next and which stood up well after the Lynch Bages.

Next up was a 2002 Pecharmant, from the 2008 Bergerac trip, which BE had brought over a couple of. We agreed that it seemed a little thin after the Bordeaux and the Rioja, however myself and Herself are finishing off the second bottle now and it definitely has gained some complexity after being open for a while.

BigBog had brought along a Burgundy (and a Sancerre), a Satenay 1er Cru La Comme 2006. As I have often avowed, it is virtually impossible to get good cheap Bordeaux or Burgundy, and this confirmed it. It was delicious and a welcome change of pace from the very full bodied wines we'd been drinking up to this.

I'd like to say that this was all we had to drink on the evening, so I am going to say it, that's all we had to drink, no more beer, Beaujolais, Balvenie or Macanudos. Definitely not.

We did watch BE's wedding video, all 2+ hours of it, at my insistence. As expected my speech was short, my voice squeaky, my pace too fast, only partially rescued by a closing joke cribbed from a wedding book which depended on having adequate comic timing, which I possessed by virtue of being a lot more sober that I intended, resulting in my feeling as nervous as I actually was as opposed to hiding my insecurities behind a haze of 2006 La Fleur D'Armens.

Anyhoo, tomorrow I intend to drink a Famiglia Terracia Chianti I got in Tesco yesterday at at 50% discount, (€13-99 reduced to €6-99), allegedly.

* This beer, a slightly stronger version of the standard brew is for sale in various Tescos for approx €6 for four 440ml cans. I love this beer and have bought it a few times, however....
For some reason whenever I buy it I get charged €6 per can, it must be in the computer wrong, which is fine but it's been this way for at least 9 months. Only that I'm tight and always keep an eye on the tab I might have paid over the odds on more that one occasion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico - Liveblog

19-30 Finally made it into the local Oddbins this evening on the way to the chipper for a very lazy family dinner. Didn't have much time so I grabbed one of the specials, Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2005 reduced from €15-99 to an oddly priced €11-19.

I decided I should liveblog given that we are watching a movie tonight (Withnail & I) as there often seems to be an (often very tenuous) correlation between the movie and the wine. So I have just decanted this and it has a pleasant nose, I'm going to give it another 30 mins or so and then tuck in.

20-00 Have just the first few sips and this is a surprising beast. Not very Chianti like at all. Herself noticed Cinnamon, not I but there you go. She also described this as "French" and she's not far wrong, there is a Bordeaux like minerality to it , along with some slight oaky tannins. In the film the boys have just left Monty's house.

21-15 This definitely is an interesting wine. Not much in the way of cherries but some blackcurranty fruits and still full bodied and and unusual. A bit like Uncle Monty (you see what I did there?)

22-00 The Movie ends with Withnail quoting Hamlet and drinking a '53 Margaux, this wine is still very Bordeaux'y and I'm not sure it should be, although some of the reviews I've read have mentioned the minerality. I think I need to drink it again to form a better opinion.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's about lots of things...

It's Sunday evening and it's been an eventful few days in the booze related life of YHB. Firstly I should update on the three Tesco wines bought last week.

Tesco Vina Major Ribera Del Duero 2005 - €10-09
Had this first of the three. Initially I wasn't overly impressed with this, there was a lot of fruit but not much else. However in the last third of the bottle it all came together with some fine structure and balance and I was reminded of my other cheap Spanish fave Protocolo, which is high praise indeed.

Bellicia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007 - €8-19
Not great. Lots of acidity but not much else. Even at this price I wouldn't bother.

Tesco Vacqueyras 2007 - €7-99
I loved this the last time. Alas, we drank this last night and I daresay my heart wasn't in it , coming as it did at the end of The Hangover (tm) - see below, I will have to try this again to do it justice, as at this price, it should be a steal.

The Hangover
I suppose I should accept it an as occupational hazard, if you are going to drink and blog about it, occasionally you will come a cropper. I can't blame Allpay, who provided me with some of the fuel for the flames of my misfortune. He generously showed up at my humble abode for one of our irregular poker games with a bottle of the whiskey at left, which was delicious btw, and kudos to him for spending 20 minutes in Heathrow duty free getting expert advice on what to buy.

This was not the big mistake I made, which was to buy Tyskie Polish beer at 5.6% to drink during the cards. Normally I buy regular Vitamin H at 4.3% in a vain effort to stay moderately sober and not lose my drunken ass (BigNose - Vodka & Lucozade anyone?).

Anyway - yesterday (Saturday) was a long painful experience which, counter intuitively, got worse as the day progressed, until a couple of hours restorative kip was the only way to soothe my pounding head and queasy stomach. After this and a hot Thai take away (Kanum on Mespil road- very good btw), my taste buds were shot so this may account for my lack of appreciation for the Tesco Vacqueyras.

Finally, I know it been a long haul, but we are just finishing up another bottle of the Domaine la Brunely Vacqueyras, from the Superquinn French wine sale. Damn - it's still really tasty. I think there's a couple of days left in the sale, if you are in the neighbourhood, please buy some.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tesco - More wines

Well, one of the advantages of living in our city pad is the proximity of both Oddbins and Tesco. As I noted last time, Tesco Baggot St sometimes has a great selection of wines. Tonight was no different, there were many wines I would like to have bought, but I settled on three...

Tesco Vacqueyras 2007 - €7-99
Last time I sought this I loved it and it cost €12. I has decided to buy only wines I hadn't tried before but this went by the board when I saw this for €7-99. A huge and spicy bargain at this price.

Tesco Vina Major Ribera Del Duero 2005 - €10-09
Have just started this and will review anon, worth a punt to get a decent Ribera at this odd price.

Bellicia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2007 - €8-19
Another punt here but at this price its definitely worth a shot.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dax all folks...

It was the occasion of NOB's hem-hem birthday and we were being brought out by BigEars, us being YHB, Herself, June and BigNose; to his chagrin BigHead was away on his hols but he sweetly ordered us a bottle of bubbly for when we arrived.

I was given the enviable task of choosing the Vino, Dax has a very extensive and expensive list so I was caught in the usual dilemma of keeping cost down while trying to choose something decent. On perusing the list I figured a Rhone or a Languedoc would best fit the bill and June concurred. To that end I chose the above wine a L'Amourier 2006 Minervois from Luc Lapeyre. If I do say so myself I think it was spot on. Fruity, minerally, acidic, this had a good balance of components and was accessible and quite French. Although I liked it and it was as I expected, I hope everyone else liked it, it may not have been to everyone else's taste but I tried not to choose anything too esoteric.

Anyhoo - the food was lovely, I had a Ross O'Caroll Kelly special; a rabbit, bacon and cabbage tart or "tourte" as it appeared on the menu and it was focking delicious, followed by a tender piece of veal (I know) and a divine shin of veal. I didn't go the whole cruelty to animals hog by having the fois gras starter but I was tempted...

The night ended later with more bubbly and the horrible caterwauling that is us playing with Singstar - thanks again BigEars for the fine evening and Go Leinster!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Liveblog - Cristia Cotes Du Ventoux 2007

So its come to this - another liveblog.

Firstly I need to quickly comment on wine number three (of four) from the Superquinn French wine sale - Chateau Le Mayne Bordeaux Superieur 2005 (at left). While this was not unpleasant, it didn't taste like a Bordeaux, more like a middle-of-the-road undistinguished French red. I don't know what I expected for €8, I suppose. This again confirms my rule of never buying cheap Bordeaux or Burgundy, there just isn't any good stuff around below about €20. If you know of some please let me know.

So - the liveblog, this has tended to happen of a Friday evening while watching a movie with Herself and tonight is no exception. Last time I did it the wine ended up mirroring the movie. We are now watching The Boat That Rocked, so we'll see. The wine is number four (of four) from Superquinn, a Domaine de Christia Cotes du Ventoux 2007, reduced to €8 from €14-99.

21-30 The wine has been decanting for an hour now and we have just had a first sip and very nice it is too, quite "Rhoney", a little spicy and a little fruity. Herself reckons its chocolaty and smooth but that may be wish fulfillment on her part.

22-00 I'm still liking this, it developed a little more fruit and a tadge more complexity in the last 30 minutes, not unlike the movie which has just taken a dramatic turn. The wine now has a decent finish, lets hope the movie follows suit (Woo-hoo! - film/wine comparisons are go!)

22-40 The movie is heading for its close as is the bottle, so I'll wrap things up. I like this wine, at €8 I'd buy it again, at €14-99, not so much. The movie got a lot of hate in the reviews (spoilers ahead) I've read, apart from Mark Kermode, and I'm not sure why. It's not a masterpiece but its moderately amusing, it has a great cast (some underused), it does go a bit Titanic at the end but hey, pobody's nerfect.

Next - We're off to Dax for NOB's birthday, congrats a deux, and I'll report back on the grub/vino.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Superquinn - Two out of Four Ain't Bad

Right, its Monday night and YHB is feeling festively plump after a couple of heavy weekends, methinks I will have to moderate my food and booze intake or I'll be fat as fool when middle-age rests her blue-veined hand on my shoulder.

Anyhoo - over the weekend we sampled the first two of four Superquinn wines from the French Wine Sale, starting with the elaborately monikered Combe D'Aline Du Domaine des Escaravailles Cairanne Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2007.

Name: Combe D'Aline Cairanne Cotes Du Rhone Villages
Year: 2007
Price: €9 (Reduced from €12-99)
Notes: As I mentioned in my last post this smelt very "Rhoney" on opening. However it didn't taste quite so much so after a short while decanting. The blurb said "warm cherry fruits" and I'll go along with that, it was a little more modern and upfront in style that a lot of Cotes Du Rhone but quite nice with it, well balanced, moderately fruity, smooth and very good value at €9.

Next up the relatively expensive Vacqueyras.

Name: Domaine la Brunely Vacqueyras
Year: 2005
Price: €13 (Reduced from €17-99)
Notes: Some confusion here as the wine Parker gave 90/100 to is called Domaine de la Brunely , which is what is says on the label on the back of the bottle so whether this is the prize pig or not is anyone's guess. Long story short, not much nose off this but a delicious complex lingering flavour. The blurb says this is a bargain Chateauneuf-du-Pape but this was a lot rounder and smoother than that. Not sure if it's worth €17-99 but at €13 I'd buy this again, no questions.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Superquinn French Wine Sale Autumn 2009 - Purchases

Finally made it down to Superquinn Blackrock to nab a few samples from the latest French wine sale as initially posted on here. I think I did the selection of wines a disservice as the actual selection is a lot more extensive than is obvious from the flyer. Although the corollary of this is that, as before, the entire range of wines did not appear to be present, there is supposed to be a Corbieres for €7 which I could not locate.

Anyhoo, I bought four reds and as usual I decided to sample mostly from the budget end of the range. The wines are as follows (L-R)...

**Update - added "Reduced from" prices, although I am sometimes dubious about the veracity of these.

Chateau Le Mayne Bordeaux Superieur 2005 - €8 (reduced from €10-65)
The Book says - "deliciously ripe, rich red"
I say - €8 for a 2005 Bordeaux is definitely worth a punt.

Combe D'Aline Cairanne Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2007 - €9 (reduced from €12-99)
The Book says "Cairanne is consistently good...warm cherry fruits"
I say - I have just decanted this and it smells nice, very "Rhoney"

Domaine la Brunely Vacqueyras 2005 - €13 (reduced from €17-99)
The Book says - "organic and biodynamic - made in accordance with the phases of the moon"
I say "What - the moon?", the most expensive wine I bought today but I've had good fortune with Vacqueyras before so worth a try. Have just Googled this vintage and apparently Robert Parker gave it 90/100! Not sure if this is the same wine though...

Domaine de Christia Cotes du Ventoux 2007 - €8 (reduced from €14-99)
The Book says - "a soft, medium bodied wine".
I say - I liked the Grenache in the last sale so I took a chance on this.

I'll report back tomorrow on the Cairanne.