Sunday, June 28, 2009

A generous offer backfires, sort of...

Herself and I agreed many years ago on a driving strategy concerning who should drive when attending a family function. It was agreed that the person whose family "do" was being attended should drive as the other person had to put up the "in-laws" and should be allowed have a few jars.

Anyway - my turn to drive today as we were attending a joint birthday party at the family home, and to be fair Herself has driven a lot recently, so I was definitely "due". Imagine my horror on arriving at said family bbq to discover a freshly cracked case of 2000 Chateau Chasse Spleen. An underrated Moulis that I'm a big fan of.

I dutifully had merely a sip and very pleasant it was too. All was not lost however, my eldest brother saved the day by offering us a couple of dozen bottles of Consejo De La Alta Reserva which he no longer has room for, along with a couple of other odd bottles including 2 bottles of the 1997 le Haut Medoc de Giscours which I'm hoping is still drinking.

All told, Karma-wise, I'd say I ended up slightly ahead on the day.

Friday Night, Saturday Morning

Lots of wines to taste at June's on Friday night. I spent most of the evening drinking the above Chianti which June had gotten from Tesco. I'd like to say the wine was fruity and complex but I had been reprimanded by another guest of June's for overusing the word "complex" and phrases such as "dark fruit", so I won't say much except that this was a delicious wine which went very well with our expertly cooked steaks and also with June's magnificent baked American cheesecake.

My reprimander, who shall remain nameless for his own protection, brought the above Sardinian wine. As with the Munus, I tasted an unpleasant meaty, spicy undertone which made me unable to enjoy this wine at all, although this opinion was met with derision and disbelief from the other diners, which either means I'm right and they are all wrong or vice versa, guess which way I'm leaning?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Meatballs, Chianti and the Pope

My oldest friend (COH) called over last night for dinner, I had made the meatballs the previous night so I went to Dunnes Ballyogan (yes - again) on the way home to pick up some last minute supplies and hopefully a couple of bottles of Italian wine to go with dinner*. My luck was in and a spotted the wine at left hidden on a bottom shelf. A Cecchi organic Chianta for €9-99, definitely worth a punt at this price given that my experience with Cecchi wines has generally been excellent.

Name: Cecchi Natio Organic Chianti
Year: 2007
Price: €9-99
Notes: A typical Chianti, lots of acidity with some lovely dark fruit. This was a surprisingly complex wine at the price with a long well rounded finish.
Rating: 8/10 - perfect with any tomato based dish and a steal at this price.

After dinner we drank the wine brought by our guest, which had been decanting. Our guest had been in Harvey Nics that afternoon and had picked up a Chateauneuf-du-Pape there, his favourite.

Name: Bosquet Des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Year: 2001
Price: ???
Notes: Its been so long since a had a Chateauneuf-du-Pape that I had forgotten how big and spicy they are. This was a complex, warm spicy beast that went well with our cheese.
Rating: 7/10 - This should be an 8 but I'm docking it a point as I'd say it was expensive.

* Jamie's Ministry of Food - Meatballs and Tomato Sauce - georgeous

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dunnes - Valpolicella Ripasso - Colognola Al Colli

I was in Dunnes in Ballyogan this weekend and it was my only opportunity to buy wine, otherwise I wouldn't have been buying wine there as there is a half decent Molloys around the corner.

Anyhoo, long story short, I bought two bottles new to me, a Valpolicella Ripasso (pictured) and an unbranded Cotes du Rhone.

Name: Valpolicella Ripasso - Colognola Al Colli
Year: 2006
Price: €10-99
Notes: This was an OK wine. Tasted much younger and sharper than the Tesco Ripasso from last week. Not much in the way of depth or balance but with some decent dark fruit.
Rating: 5/10

Note: The Cotes Du Rhone was poor, drinkable but poor. 4/10

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Irish Times €8 Wines

John Wilson in the Irish Times magazine today (20/06) decided to blind taste a variety of wines from major chains all priced at below €8. Each chain (M&S, Tesco, Dunnes, Aldi, Lidl, Spar, Supervalu & Superquinn) was asked to supply 3 whites and 3 reds. M&S came out on top. I for one, would never have thought M&S would be the place not only to find budget wines but that they would be the best out there. Read the fill article here.

Tesco Valpolicella Ripasso 2006

This (at left in picture) is wine three (of three) Tesco branded reds I picked up in the MerrionCentre on Saturday. Apologies - I've now used this picture four times - I'm way too lazy to take individual photos of the three wines, given that I had a "group" photo.

Name: Tesco Valpolicella Ripasso
Year: 2006
Price: €10-69
Notes: The best of the three. Lovely full flavoured, complex wine. Some cherry flavours and a little fruit but very well balanced and a long finish. A cheaper alternative to Amarone, using a similar production method.
Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tesco Barbera D'Asti 2005

This (at centre in picture) is wine two (of three) Tesco branded reds I picked up in the Merrion Centre on Saturday.

Name: Tesco Barbera D'Asti
Year: 2005
Price: €12-49
Notes: We had this accompanied by a delicious rib-eye followed by some Cashel Blue and I'm afraid to say I think the wine was overpowered by both, either that or this wine didn't impress itself on us. There was nothing wrong with it but nothing stood out about it, it was perfectly pleasant but did not seem to possess any defining attributes. As the most expensive of the three I would have expected more, but as always, your mileage may vary.
Rating: 6/10

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tesco Nero D'Avola 2007

This (at right in picture) is wine one (of three) Tesco branded reds I picked up in the Merrion Centre on Saturday.

Name: Tesco Nero D'Avola
Year: 2007
Price: €8-69
Notes: I was a little disappointed in this. I've had a few Nero D'Avolas in my time and they are generally biggish wines with lots of bitter cherries and body. This, however, was a little thin and and weak. There was some dark fruit and a little cherry spice in the mouth but not much body and little in the way of a finish. It's perfectly drinkable and competitively priced but I don't think I'll be buying it again.
Rating: 5/10

Next: A steak tonight and,  I think the Barbera with it. Review to follow.

Tesco Italian Reds

I was out with the First Thursday*(tm) crew on Friday night  for a curry and a few beers and the point was raised, not incorrectly, that this blog has gotten way off topic.  I should be posting about good value wine, not describing my adventures swanning around Bordeaux buying cases of local red and doing wine tastings from the back of an Opel van, or musings about Californian Cab Savs from posh Steak houses in NYC.

With these criticisms ringing in my ears, I was shopping in Tesco Merrion Centre on Saturday and I decided to buy some similar bottles of wine and put a post together. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that they have finally gotten some decent stock here. For about the last five years they have had essentially the same stock in the Merrion Centre, since  Tesco in the Dundrum shopping centre opened, they have had a consistently better stock particularly with Tesco own brand wines, most of which are decent and reasonable value.

To that end I bought three Tesco branded Italian reds:

Nero D'Avola 2007 - €8-69
Valpolicella Ripasso 2006 - €10-69
Barbera D'Asti  2005 - €12-49

* It was neither Thursday nor the First Thursday of the month

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Morton's - B.R.Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon

We were in Morton's Steakhouse on 45th st on Saturday - all 10 of us. Myself and BE (the stag) took charge of ordering the wine - as it was, it turned out  to be a choice by BE, which I happily acceded to.

From a very extensive and expensive list he chose the 2006 B.R. Cohn Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon, a snip at $45 a bottle. There was no point buying anything too dear in there as we would be drinking many bottles and  we weren't sure an expensive wine would be appreciated as much as it should.

For $45 a bottle (restaurant price remember!) this was a steal, a fruity youngish expression I would have said, rather than a tannic monster, but perfect for the food and the evening. YHB had a go at a "small" cajun ribeye, but failed to finish it as the previous two days had begun to take their toll.

Also on the list was a magnum of Ridge Lytton Springs for $150, sounds like a lot but at $75 a bottle, about €55 (restaurant price) this represents very good value as I have paid €90 in Shanahans for it.

My last drink of the stag, before the flight home in JFK (the Heineken). Papi, my travelling companion, had the Amstel. I was being abstinent on the flight as I had my car in the airport. If I had known my battery would be flat due to a dicky radio I might have had a couple. Anyhoo - kudos to the AA for getting my on the road within 30 minutes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Update - NYC

Sorry folks, again its been few days between posts. This time is cos I am only just back from BE's tag in New York. Lots of tales to tell but none I could tell here. I will be posting on the big dinner we had and associated wine in Morton's midtown in the next day or so.

For no good reason here's a pic of YHB about to attempt to hit a fastball at the Chelsea Piers batting cages.

Dax - Guest Post by BS

BS here eventually! I was indeed in Dax last week after looking forward to a rare relaxing Friday afternoon lunch. Unlike Willie I am not an expect in wine but since our trip to France I am trying to educate myself further in the hope that I will soon be in a position to have an intellectual conversation on wine. This didn't however stop me chatting to the wonderful waiter in Dax.

The task of choosing the lunch wine was taken up by a colleague, the choices being:-

Red: Gigondas 2006 Domaine de la Bouissiere
This was an intense purple color with a cherry flavour - very pleasant and drinkable for a recently converted red wine drinker.

White: Chablis Vielles Vignes 2005 Domaine Daniel-Etienne Defaix
A good choice for me as I was eating fish and it came recommended with my dish. It was a deep golden color, medium to full-bodied with a taste of citrus.

White wine was the next bottle of choice and the task of choosing that was with me. A Bergerac Sec 2008 Semillon & Savuignon Chateau des Eyssards caught my eye and staying in line with our recent trip a bottle of that was ordered. It was dry and fresh and was as enjoyable as I remembered in the Cave de Monbazillac (6 bottles of Bergerac Sec 2008 were purchased there by me and GS).

I resisted a glass of the Monbazillac with my after lunch cheese - mainly because a glass cost the same price as the bottle Willie bought in Chateau Caillavel!

Au revoir!