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.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Whiskey Shopping list

After doing a whiskey audit recently,it occurred to me to compile my whiskey shopping list of drams that I'd like to purchase in the next year or so...

We'll start with the Islay (pronounced eye-lah) malts.

Laphroaig 10yo, 15yo, 18yo - I don't think they are making the 15yo anymore which is a pity as it is more subtle expression than the bull in a china shop that is the 10yo. I've heard the 18yo is fab but its also about a ninety notes, the 10yo for me so...

Caol Ila 12yo, 18yo - Got a bottle of the 18yo from Granny G a while back and loved it, not a big peaty malt but delicious and salty. Alas, I have not seen it or the 12yo since.

Bruichladdich 12yo, 17yo - had both of these at the same time some years ago. The 12yo was nice while the 17yo was very very tasty, a little peaty but smooth with it.

Next - Other Scotches

Oban 14yo - I only ever drink this in restaurants, but its always good if a little pricey at about 60 bills.

Cragganmore 12yo - the only one of Diageo's Classic Malts I've not tried.

Macallan 12yo fine oak - Love this one, recently accidentally inveigled a fellow wedding guest to buy 2 shots of the 18yo at about 16 quid a shot - sorry Andrew!

Glenmorangie Classic 10yo / Lasanta 12 yo - recently fell back in like with this distillery, the classic is very fine and the Lasanta is a sherry finish that is also very pleasing - see here.

Dalwhinnie 15yo - Drank this at a couple of card games courtesy of Mr J. Liked it a lot.

Irish Single Malts - I have been recommended both below as a good, inexpensive starting point for my Irish Whiskey odyssey.

Connemara peated single malt.

Tyrconnell single malt.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Molloys Belles Roches Fitou 2007

This is the second of two new wines I got in Molloys last week. After the disappointment that was the Jerome Quiot Carianne (although there was a Vacqueyras by the same crowd I may try) it was with trepidation that I opened this Fitou, although I've had a few different wines from this region and they have mostly been decent so...

Name: Belles Roches Fitou
Year: 2007
Price: €9-25
Notes: I liked this, again I wasn't overwhelmed by any particular flavours, it was well balanced, a little fruity and all round very pleasant indeed. At this price it's good value and is worth a look if you are in Molloys.

Next: Dying with a cold I "somehow" caught from Herself on the weekend, we'll see.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Much fun in Powerscourt.

After six wonderful years, or something, myself and Herself decided to splash out and go to Gordon Ramsay in the Ritz Carlton in Powerscourt and also spend the night there. Normally such an undertaking would be prohibitively expensive but with a little help from an elder brother (Cheers Ro!), we were able to get a very good deal. Note: this post is quite a "foodie" post so if that offends you - leave now.

Our wine adventures started earlier than expected when, after a little snafu with our room, we were presented with a complementary bottle of red and some chocolates (see above). The red was a Beaune Premier Cru - Les Bressandes 2006 from Domaine Pavelot. As I mentioned here I haven't a huge amount of experience with Pinot Noirs and Burgundies in particular.

However the moment we opened this we knew it was something special, it was an order of magnitude nicer than the NZ Pinot Noir. It was fruitier than I expected, and it had more body than expected, lots of complexity and a big finish. After savouring most of this bottle we made our way to Gordon Ramsay where we opted for the Prestige menu as described here.

I'm going to document it here as that link may change.
  • pre Amuse bouche nibbles - Yum.
  • Amuse bouche - (Mackerel) - Also Yum
  • Pressed foie gras with Waldorf salad and spiced bread * - Hmmm
  • East coast lobster and salmon ravioli with lemongrass sauce ** - Divine
  • Sea bream with confît leeks and cauliflower velouté - Yes
  • Roast Connemara Hill lamb, ‘boulangère’ potatoes, rosemary jus *** - Double Yes OR
  • Assiette of Hereford beef with green asparagus,girolles and hollandaise sauce - More please
  • Pre dessert (Triple layer fruit thing in a glass) - Lovely
  • Pear Williams baba - Very Full at this stage but Yes
  • Petit Fours & Coffee - No Room left at all now.
  • Two slices of special Happy Anniversary cake courtesy of our hosts - lucky I'm not petite.
We also opted for the Prestige wine package where the Sommelier choses wines for each course (as denoted by stars).

* Gewuerztraminer, Meyer-Fonné, Alsace, France. A moderately sweet wine (not as sweet as a Sauternes) but delicious with this course.

** Chablis Vincent Sauvestre, Burgundy, France. We had this with the Ravioli and the Bream. An understated wine, minerally, refined and delicious.

*** Dievole Broccato 2006 (?) Italy. My first real Super Tuscan. A big inky, oaky wine with some lively fruit that went really well with the lamb(Herself) and especially well with the beef (me). I suspect this has a lot of aging in it and would be dynamite in 4/5 years.

At this point we got chatting to our lovely Somellier Nicole, she happened to have a couple of other bottles from this producer open and she generously gave us a tasting of the Vendemmia, a Chianto Classico and the Novecento, a Chianti Classico Riserva. The first of these was lovely but the Riserva was a corker. Alas, these are not currently available in the 26 counties.

All in all - a cracking experience with a level of service that I have not seen in a long time. Friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and helpful without being intrusive plus a food/wine experience second to none. My (very limited) experience of Michelin Star level food says that you should go for the tasting menu if you can afford it, you get lots of different foods in managable portions, and usually what the kitchen does best.

**Update - Just realised I never reviewed the Carianne below after drinking it on Friday. The micro review is - NO. Drinkable, but very average, not worth a tenner. Drinking the Fitou now - review to follow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Molloys Again...

For various time and phlegm related reasons (long dull story) my proposed trip to Lidl to buy some of their lovely Montepulciano (€4-89) went for a burton and I ended up in Molloys again. This is not a major hardship, while Molloys seems to mostly cater for the young and fruity end of the wine market there is the odd gem to be found there.

So, I obviously bought another Trapiche Malbec as well as the two wines at left. At left is a Belles Roches from Fitou in the Languedoc, made Old vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah. Sounds interesting and potentially good value at €9-25.

At right is a Jerome Quiot Carianne, Cotes Du Rhone Villages, also made from Old vine Carignan, Grenache and Syrah as well as a touch of Mourvedre. Molloys have a range of wines from this mob so hopefully this Cotes Du Rhone Villages will be decent, and an intro into their range.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Superquinn Autumn French Wine Sale

Hmmmmmm. Just looking at the flyer for the above and am not terribly enthused. Looks like mostly a bunch of cheap generic plonk sold by the varietal, which is often a bad sign for French wine, IMHO. The French producers are aping the New World by aiming for the young wine drinking crowd and obviating the reason I drink French wine, the sense of the unknown, the terrior, the French arrogance.

I'll probably buy a couple anyways and I'll let ye know how I get on.
Click here for my thoughts on the last Superquinn French wine sale.

BTW - I made the rookie mistake tonight of not having any "drinking" wine in the house, so I had to dip into my stash and crack open a Chateau Guillou as mentioned here. Damn this is good. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this could have been the wedding wine...

The Last Day of Summer

I suspect the above title is probably true so it's just well we spent last Sunday sitting in the sun drinking wine. Herself, the in-laws, June & I sat out for the afternoon happily tippling, well, all except June and Granny G who were driving, boo.

June had brought the Rosé, at left, from a wine shop in Lucan (June - which one?) and it was very pleasant. I can't go into that much more detail as, while I remember it being delicious, I couldn't tell you what exactly I liked about it. That probably says more about my lack of wine experience with Rosé than about the wine itself. I only ever drink Rosé on hols, typically during the day and that's the best (and probably only) time to drink it.

After a little of this (very little left!), which we had with a BBQ'd butterflied leg of lamb from The Market*, we finally got around to opening the last of the three wines I bought in Molloys last week.

Name: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir
Year: 2007
Price: €16-49
Notes: This is one of the more expensive wines I've bought of late. As I explained I've left Burgundies/Pinot Noirs largely untouched. The style isn't really my bag but I decided to take a punt on this as I'd tasted it before and remembered liking it. This was a lot fruitier than I remembered and I suspect is equivalent to the New World Shiraz vs Old World Syrah in that the NZ style is fruitier and more upfront that the Burgundy equivalent. I liked this, but I didn't love it and it's not cheap. Give it a go if you like this style, its well made and moderately complex for a New World wine.

*The Market is a posh-ish shop just opened in Belarmine, they have a cracking butcher (Lawlors) and I'm gonna go back and try a few of their wines.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trapiche Malbec 2007

Wow. Its been an awfully long time since I drank this. I'm not surprised I can never find it. For €10 you are getting a 20-30 Euro wine. It reminded a lot me of Penfolds Bin 389 - which is about €30. Maybe not quite the complexity but pretty damn close. Wow.

Name: Trapiche Malbec
Year: 2007
Price: €10-99
Notes: Fabulous at the price. Big, fruity and quite New World initially, this has layers of flavour, complexity and balance that most New World wines would kill for. Don't buy it if you can find it though, leave it for me. I'm going to do a post soon on this style of wine which renews my faith in the new world, and its ability to produce, at a reasonable price, good solid well balanced wine.

Note: As you can see from the picture Robert Parker likes it too, not surprising I guess.

Next: Rosé in the garden, Pinot Noir in the lounge.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Molloys Wine & Beer

Went down to Molloys on Thursday as promised to see what I could find of the wines I used to get when I frequented it, back in the day. I picked up the following (L-R):

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2007 - €16-49. This, as you can see was not cheap, but it should provide a reasonable alternative to expensive Burgundies as mentioned in the last post. I've had this once before and really liked it so here's hoping its worth the cash.

Vitae Sangiovese 2006- €12-50. We used to drink an awful lot of this and loved it. I was a bit apprehensive on opening this last night. oftentimes you come back to a wine you loved and are disappointed, either your palate has changed, see this post, or the wine isn't as good as it used to be. We were not disappointed. The bitter cherry flavours were in abundance, along with some other fruit, and it had a decent level of complexity and a long finish. Again, another wine I'd recommend with food, rather than without.

Trapiche Malbec 2007 - €10-99. Another old family favourite. We used to drink this by the bucket load but I have been unable to find it in a long time. This was my first Malbec, I can't remember if I bought it on spec or on a recommendation. Either way I'm hoping it won't disappoint.

I also bought a couple of "premium" beers to try from Shepherd Neame, both a snip at €3-29. I drank the Spitfire last night and it was indeed delicious. The blurb on the site says "In the mouth, the finely balanced flavour opens with a blast of rounded malt before the rousing, almost spicy hops follow through to provide a complex, multi-layered finish." Sounds about right to me.

I'll try the Bishop's Finger tonight and let you know, it's 5.4% abv as opposed to the Spitfire's 4.5 % abv so we'll see if that is a noticeable component in the mix.

**Update - The Bishop's Finger was delicious, stronger (duh) and a little more fuller flavoured than the Spitfire.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Comments - replies

Thanks to all of you who gave commented so far and specifically...

Anonymous French Wine lover - I don't review a lot of Burgundy, mainly because, like Bordeaux, the good stuff is expensive and even then you need to know exactly what you are buying to avoid being sold a pup. Much better value are NZ Pinot Noirs which I am starting to get into, I got one earlier in Molloys (details in the next post). The best value French wine at the moment, IMHO, is in the Rhone and the Languedoc.

Michael - Thank you for your kind words.

Brain - I will try that wine the next time I'm in M&S. For the record, I prefer a nice Single malt with a Cohiba.

As promised I went to Molloys and got some wine and posh beer - details to follow.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

6 Months Old...

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, the blog was 6 months old yesterday, all 96 posts of it. I make that 16 posts a month or on average one post every 2 days or so. I think that's reasonably prolific.

This brings me to my next point - I need feedback. After this long you should know what you like about the blog and what you do not. Don't spare my feelings, be as critical as you like - either in the comments section or mail me.*

*I promise I won't edit the comments - well not too much, anyway.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Last night we entertained June, BigNose and BigHead (the names are a long and not very interesting story). We started off with a bottle of Moet to celebrate June's XX birthday (actual age has been redacted). The trend at the moment seems to be for Cavas, Proseccos and sparkling wines so it was a nice change to have some proper bubbly. I am sick of Prosecco, just because you can buy it for a tenner doesn't mean you should.

Anyhoo we followed the shampoo with a couple of these, one of these, one of these, this Malbec, and then we tucked into the 16yo Highland Park. I should really comment on all the wines but to be honest it's all a bit of a blur. I've reviewed them all before and they were all pretty much unchanged, now leave me alone I need several days sleep.

Kudos to herself on the Tajine, btw, very tasty. And the mini apple tarts on Brioche - yum.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

M&S Montepulciano

The last of four wines we got last weekend in M&S.

Name: M&S Montepluciano D'Abruzzo
Year: 2007
Price: €9-99
Notes: I didn't give this a long time to decant, for various reasons, so this was a little bitter at the start, not unpleasantly so, though. After a while the fruit began to come through, Herself said cherries but I think I got some raspberry. Either way the wine became more balanced and there was a little tannic kick at the end. While the wine was well structured I still found it a little bitter and think that this would go best with food rather than as a stand-alone tipple. Still, not bad at the price.

Note1: Before we opened this we opened Lidl Sangiovese di Romangna, which as predicted was pi$$, down the sink it went.

Note2: We had some good news on Wednesday so I cracked open a bottle of the 2005 Chateau de Clotte that I brought back from France in May. It was delicious - the big struggle for me is not to drink the rest of this and the Chateau Guillou now. I'd really like to see how they age.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Molloys, Cheap Beer & The Sad Tale of the Adelaide hills

Have just come back from Molloys in Ballyogan. I used to get wine here regularly back in the day but for no good reason I haven't been in ages. I wasn't there to get wine as I have a few stragglers from recent trips that need drinking first. I was there for some beer, cheap beer. Molloys duly obliged, 4 cans of Karpackie for €5. I've had this before, it's not fabulous, but if it's cold it gets the job done.

Molloys will be the venue for my next purchases of wine. They stock the divine Trapiche Malbec, the yummy Vitae Sangiovese and the expensive but lovely Mara Valpolicella Ripasso (June, I brought this to your BBQ - Did you like it?)

On a crappy and unrelated note I will be unable to attend the Adelaide Hills wine tasting this Thursday due to circumstances beyond my control. I was looking forward to it but will hopefully make the next WineAustralia tasting.

M&S Corbieres

This is the third of four wines purchased (or free) that I got from M&S on Saturday. I had this with a wee piece of St Agur, also from M&S. They have just started, as far as I know, selling cheese in 75g packs, the perfect size for a cheesy nibble for one.

Name: M&S Corbieres
Year: 2007
Price: €9-49
Notes: I liked this a lot, but I can't say why. It was well balanced, moderately fruity with a decent finish. But I didn't get that that much more from it. It could be me or it could be the wine. I think I need to do a proper wine course, I done a few social ones, but I think the time is right to do something more structured and educational, BE - are you ready?