Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bargain Report Card and other stuff...

Earlier in the week I bought three potential bargains at half price in Tesco. These are the results of the Dublin jury (see what I did there?)

Reserve Des Tuguets Madiran 2007
- €6-99. I had read that wines from Madiran are supposed to be a little Bordeaux like and so it proved. While it obviously didn't have the depth of a classed growth wine it had some nice subtle fruit, a chunk of tannins and some decent length. I don't know that I'd pay full whack for this but it's pretty good value as priced.

Marques De Carano Gran Reserva 2001 - €7-99. "A very good price for a Gran Reserva", I said in my initial post, well TANSTAAFL to that. This tasted like an attempt at a decent Rioja (I know its from a different region) and although it had some of the vanilla and oak it still seemed a bit thin and tired. There was a reason this was priced to clear.

Piccini Gran Selezione Oro Chianti Riserva 2007 - €5-99. This proved to be the bargain of the day. Lovely plummy fruit and great length meant we enjoyed the heck out of this. This was solid Chianti that you might expect to pay €12-€14 for so it is a steal as priced.

Second lastly, as I type this the boys should be driving toward the ferry in France with their precious cargo of wine from Bordeaux/Bergerac. We were unable to go on the holiday this year for a variety of reasons but I put in an order ("buy me some red wine, around 6-8 quid a bottle"). This price point worked well last year and I have some inexpensive but very pleasant 2005 Bordeaux in my "cellar" maturing nicely, I hope.

Lastly, Papa is having a special b'day party this Tuesday and I am very much looking forward to the wine list. We are starting with Cristal and finishing with Chateau d'Yquem and drinking lots of 2000 Bordeaux in between. Woo-hoo! Full report to follow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bargain Bin-end

As is the norm, whenever I am in Tesco Dundrum, I hunt around for the bargain wine area. It has a tendency to shift around within the off-licence area but the yellow bargain stickers are a give-away. I picked up the above bottles,I think they were all half price, so do the math. Left to right, they are:

Reserve Des Tuguets Madiran 2007 - €6-99. From the South-West of France, I don't think I've had a wine from Madiran before. The main grape is Tannat along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and this is supposed to be a chewy, tannic wine not unlike a full bodied Bordeaux.

Marques De Carano Gran Reserva 2001 - €7-99. A very good price for a Gran Reserva, although I didn't realise until I got it home that it comes from the Carinena region of Spain, a region, I confess, I had never heard of until today. The wine is a Tempranillo/Garnacha mix and I could be onto a loser here but at the price its worth a punt.

Piccini Gran Selezione Oro Chianti Riserva 2007 - €5-99. I can't find this wine on the Piccini website, but I am a big fan of their Chianti Riserva which normally goes for about €15. We are currently drinking this and so far so good, lots of nice plummy flavours and a decent finish. It has not been open long so it should get better. At this price all you'd expect is something barely drinkable so it's all gravy (not literally) from here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A nice white for a Summer's day

It was Friday and I was looking for fish. Herself had decreed that fish was the order of the day so I dutifully made my weary way down to Superquinn in Blackrock.I picked up some tasty looking Plaice, some Peruvian asparagus (?), some microwave New potatoes (??) and then I decided to stroll through the wine dept and pick up some nice white.

We haven't drunk much Viognier but whenever I try it I tend to like it so I took a punt on the above wine, a Viognier 2009 from La Baume in the Languedoc. It was €10-65 reduced to €7 which seems ridiculously cheap for a decent wine but being married to a half Scot I couldn't resist the bargain.

My instincts, for once, were right on the money. This was a treat, and a steal the seven notes. It is lightly perfumed and all the reviews I can find maintain it has apricot flavours. I don't really like apricots so I'm going with peaches, lots of nice peachy flavours. I liked it so much I went back on Saturday and bought two more, the last of which is currently cooling in my vegetable drawer in the fridge.

On the red front I grabbed a couple of the Domaine Cristia Cotes Du Ventoux 2008, which has proved reliable in the past and was also on special at a mere €7 also. Should go well with the lamb chops I'm BBQing tonight for Herself and MJ from next door. Evenin' all.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I've found a new friend...

The title refers to my new favourite wine but firstly I should report back on the two Tesco cheapies I picked up last week. The first to be drunk was the Tesco Nero D'Avola 2008 €8-69. I didn't love the 2007 and wasn't very hopeful about the 2008. I was pleasantly surprised that it was a lot better than the previous vintage. It had some body to it, a little fruit and some decent acidity, not fantastic but OK value for the price.

Next up was the Finest Tempranillo 2009 €9-99 from the Extemadura region of Spain.I wasn't crazy about this. It tasted very New World to me, almost Shiraz like. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but not a fruit bomb. As always, I can tolerate lots of fruit if there is some structure to back it up, alas there was none present here. Probably too much to ask for in a wine of this price.

As I mentioned in my last post I got Burgans Albarino 2009 from the out-laws and we had it with the Newlyweds on Saturday. Reaction was mixed. I though it was an decent wine for a hot day, with some nice crisp acidity but the general reaction was more... meh.

As I said at the start of this post I have a new favourite. We were having the newlyweds over for a BBQ on Saturday so I went off to O'Briens to pick a couple of reds, as usual I checked out the specials and was attracted to the Quinta Nova Douro 2008 on special at €12-95. It's made from a blend of not very well known grapes, mostly grown only in Portugal, as i understand it and they are Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinta Cao.

This was a big wine in every way. Full bodied, lots of structure, some plummy fruit and a long finish. I'm not really doing it justice I know. It's one of those wines that when you taste it you immediately fall in love with it. I can't find a link on the O'Briens site but if you pick up a bottle you won't be disappointed, I promise.

**Update** - found a description of the wine on O'Briens blog - "It is phenomenal, packed with sweet blackberried fruit and subtle hints of spice but most of all this is smooth, very smooth; there is a lovely silken texture to it, meaning; it’s terrific with or without the food."

**Update 2** Link for the Quinta Nova on O'Briens site here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

All your hangovers are belong to us

It's Saturday morning again, and as per usual I'm blogging and minding the nipper while herself sleeps off the manflu. I'm hungover but it's OK, I have an excuse - I was out drinking last night.
It was a race night to support sending some guys somewhere*, or something.

There are two long posts I have been thinking about doing for a while. The first is a sort of best wines you can get in each Supermarket while the second is a post about the various things that wine reviewers claim to be able to taste when reviewing wines and my own abilities or lack thereof. However, both of those would require energy and industry, neither of which I am replete with at the moment.

So a few word on a couple of wines I picked up this week. The first is the famous Lidl Montepulciano, famous for being indecently cheap at €4-25. I first reviewed this about a year ago at the dawn of this blog when it cost a heady €5-25 and I liked it then. Since then I have had it a couple of times and it's always been drinkable, not much more than that, but for the price of a pint how much more do you expect?

Next up is a white that I think is on special in Oddbins. Its a Burgans Albarino 2009 The in-laws bought a few because of the name and when offered one I could hardly refuse. The Oddbins blurb is here. Sounds like the kind of white you'd drink on a hot summers day, so here's hoping today turns out nice.

We are not going on the winetrip/holiday this year to Bergerac, but I am going to ask BE to pick me up a couple of dozen of the local brew. It's always a risk having someone else buy wine for me as I am so picky but BE and I go way back in wine.

*It was these guys

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I first posted this without a title...

I've been seeing a wine in Tesco my last few visits there and finally took the plunge today. Its a Finest Tempranillo 2009 from the Extemadura region of Spain. I've king of been spoiled on Spanish wine by the Alta Rio and rarely buy Spanish anymore. BTW has anyone else noticed a distinct lack of non-Rioja reds, particularly in Supermarkets? Give me a Toro or a Ribera for a change. Anyway, this was priced at a modest €9-99, so I gave it a go.

I also picked up a Tesco Nero D'Avola 2008 €8-69, I couldn't resist after having a lovely Nero D'Avola on the weekend. The last time I had this wine, it was the 2007 vintage and I wasn't impressed, but every dog gets one bite so I'm offering up my other cheek, so to speak.

What I hadn't noticed when I was shopping was that certain wines were part of a "2 for €12" promotion and lo and behold at the check-out I was pleasantly surprised by the saving (€6-68 to be precise). I didn't notice what wines are covered by this but if you are going down Tesco way it might be worth a look.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Olesya's Unpronounceable Wine bar

Ourselves and the Fabtastic Four (three as it turned out - get well soon H) went to Olesya's Wine Bar on Saturday to eat and to sample some of their 400 wines. Before I get into the wines (and there are a few) I should say the food was very good. We started with a deluxe platter for the table which contained lots of nice meats, cheeses pates etc and it was big enough for three husky gents and two petite but hungry ladies. The main courses were all very tasty with YHB devouring a juicy lamb shank.

As we intended to drink a few bottles we eschewed ordering by the glass and decided to start with a white of my choosing. I chose the unusually monikered Chateau Tahbilk Marsanne, which I quite liked but only received a lukewarm reception from the others, it reminded me of a less intense Clos Du Val Chardonnay. I liked it a lot in John Wilson's Aussie tasting last year but perhaps it's not to everyone's taste. (€25)

Next up another failure - Domaine Juliette Avril "Le Ventoux" 2008 (€31). I really liked this little gem, it was a little spicy, medium bodied and a little Chateau-Neuf-du-Papey, but was met with polite disapproval, although BE did grudgingly admit that it had developed nicely in the glass. I was 0 for 2 at this stage so I decide to play it safe and order an Argentine Malbec.

There was only one Malbec on the wine list so it was a bit of a hail-mary but I persevered and ordered a Finca Sophenia Reserve Malbec 2008 (€28). This was a huge change of pace from the aromatic Ventoux. It was a beefy, fruity, full bodied wine, with lots of character and the perfect accompaniment to a juicy steak. Alas none of had steak and two of us even had a meatless main (for shame BE).
We decided, for some reason, to go Italian next. Note: We looked at the Bordeaux, Burgundy and Aussie lists but didn't reckon we'd be able to get a decent wine at a reasonable price, particularly from the French regions. Anyhoo, we ordered a Birgi Nero D'Avola (€30) from Sicily. Wow. Lots of fruit here (BE reckoned rasperries) and long finish. We all loved this one.

Lastly (boo) we plumped for another Italian, a Donna Marzia Conte Zecca Primitivo (€30). I've just realised that due to only drunkenly photographing the fronts of the last two wines I have no idea what year they are. I loved their Negro Amaro, and while this didn't have quite the complexity of that, it was a very nice way to finish the evening (wine-wise anyway - shudder)

We didn't explicitly limit ourselves to bottles costing €30 but that's the way it turned out and it's a good test of a wine list that there would be several decent bottles to be had for around this price. I'm off to detox for a few hours.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturday morning, who's gonna play with me?

As is our Saturday routine, I'm in the kitchen drinking coffee and blogging, behind me Little Bill is watching his latest Movie (Alvin and the Chipmonks - Jason Lee must have some whopping gambling debts) and Herself is upstairs, catching up on her sleep. I wanted to write about something that has been exercising me of late, to whit, am I the only blogger in Ireland who reviews wines from the bargain/Supermarket/call it what you will section of the wine market here?

I'm not really sure what exactly I wanted to say beyond that, I don't know if the above is true and if so, does it bother and/or please me? Rather than bore you with some existential musings I thought I'd have a quick look around some of the non-commercial wine blogs and find some articles and bits of interest.

The image at the top of this post I took from this post on Sour Grapes, a comprehensive list of Irish wine blogs.

A humourous post on wines to be had in Leggs (we've all done it) from a blog I've only just discovered - My Grape Escape

A nice way to blow the wad in London , courtesy of Wine Perv.

A lot of Aussies reviewed on the Grapes of Sloth.

A guide to bluffing during Wine Tastings from The Grapefruit.

That's it for now - Ourselves and the Fabtastic Four are off to Olesya's Wine Bar tonight to sample some of their 400 wines (100 by the glass apparently), so I expect a hangover and some reviews tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Something for the weekend?

The wedding, I'm happy to say, went well; the weather held off, mostly, and the wedding wines seemed to go down smoothly, particularly the red. Initially I thought the white (Bougrier Sauvignon Blanc AC Touraine 2006) was a little sharp but it suited the seafood starter well. The less said about the curious incident of the allegedly punctured tyre on the wedding car the better.*

The wines at left were all bargain wines I got in O'Briens during the week. Left to right they are:

Emotivo Montepulciano 2008 - (€7-95 reduced to €6-99) - took a punt on this. Have just tried after an hour in the decanter and it tastes a bit cheap and cheerful. I'll persevere for another while to see if it improves any.
**Update** - It improved, but barely. Herself initially refused to drink it. A rare stinker from O'Briens, however cheap it was.

Ferraton Cotes Du Rhone Samorens 2007 (€11-45 reduced to €9-95) - Have bought this many times and it does not disappoint. A huge bargain. Will buy more for tomorrow night.
**Update** - Bought two more and they did not disappoint. The third was open for a day before I finished it and was quite delicious at the end.

Protocolo Tinto 2007 (€8-45 reduced to €7-95). I previously raved about the 2007 here and the 2006 here. I'm afraid to say the last couple of times I've had the 2007 I've found it a little jammy, it's still well made and has more strings to its bow than the fruit but for now I can't get past the sweetness, perhaps its needs more time in the decanter as it definitely had a smidgin more balance in the last glass.

On a whiskey note my formerly only Brother-in-law showed up at the wedding with a bottle of Highland Park 16yo for me - Many thanks JMP. And as we were left literally holding the babies at 2am on the night of the wedding we felt it incumbent on us to break the seal, and extremely tasty it was too (the whiskey - not the seal)

*Its official - I'm a tool.