Thursday, April 29, 2010

Into the West...

A couple of quick reviews of bottles bought in the last few days before we head off with Little Bill to the social event of the season "The Wedding"

Dino Sangiovese Di Romanga 2008 - €5-99. Rough, but we drank it (sigh). Not worth the money. Avoid.

Bethany Old Vine Grenache 2007 - Reduced from €14-45 to €9-95. Very jammy and much too sweet for me. Tasted more like a Shiraz to be honest and completely at odds with any Old World interpretation of this grape that you might be used to. The Label says "well textured palate and the long soft tannin finish". My foot. I couldn't find any tannins whatsoever. If you like this style of big unbalanced fruit bomb you'd probably be better off spending a couple of quid less (than the €14-95) on a proper Aussie Shiraz. I will admit, however, that their own G6 Shiraz while more expensive (€17-69), is a fine tipple and does indeed deliver a fruity red that has some lovely structure to counterbalance the jamminess.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two cheap Italians

The title does not refer to the people, although I once witnessed four Italian girls sup one glass of Guinness for the entire evening, but to two cheap and cheeky Italian reds I just picked up in Tesco, Dundrum, and they are...

Dino Sangiovese Di Romanga 2008 - €5-99. Reduced, I think from €10-99, I have been seeing this quite a lot of late on offer and have finally taken the plunge. Could be a stinker but worth a punt at this price.

Ogio Primitivo 2008 - €5-99. I have had this a couple of times before and it is very good value at this price, although this is one of those discounts I'm dubious of, as I have never seen it at full price.

Lastly, we drank the Villa Novare Valpolicella Ripasso 2006 - Reduced from €18-45 to €12-95, which I had gotten over the weekend in O'Briens. Disappointed, we were. This was medium bodied, drinkable but the flavour was overly light and a bit washed out. Basically there was not a lot going on in this wine and at a nominal price of €18-45 for a Ripasso, I would have expected much, much more.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No hugs, no learning.

Well, I've come back from battering my hangover into submission in the gym and I have a few updates and reviews to share, so let's start with...

Clos Du Val Chardonnay 2006 . This was on special in O'Briens last week (€16-95 reduced from €22-95) and as part of my drive to drink more white I picked one up. It was interesting... Lar from Sour Grapes recommended it and said it was "Meursault style - butter, nuts and brioche." This wine reminded me of Dance. I can appreciate the skill and the effort involved but it does nothing for me; similarly with this wine, I can appreciate it but that style of buttery Chardonnay is not my cup of meat, however well made it may be. I have a Meursault gathering dust at the moment in my "cellar" and I reckon I'll have to crack it soon and compare.

After the Chardonnay I popped open a Renato Ratti Langhe Nebbiolo 2008, which I had gotten in M&S earlier. I really must wine shop there more often as they seem to have a large range at reasonable prices. I stumped up €14-99 for this and was not disappointed. Nebbiolo is the grape that powers both Barolo and Barbaresco and here in its cheaper incarnation it still packed a punch. Lots of cherry fruit, pleasingly fragrant and nice integrated if gentle tannins. Quite an uncommon taste but rather emotive, one sip and I was back in Rome (not literally of course) drinking overpriced, but delicious, Nebbiolo behind the Piazza Navona.

Just back from O'Briens in the Beacon, looking for bargains and I got the following...
Bethany Old Vine Grenache 2007 - Reduced from €14-45 to €9-95
Villa Novare Valpolicella Ripasso 2006 - Reduced from €18-45 to €12-95. I love Valpolicella Ripassos, a good one will give you near Amarone quality for half the price.

Lastly in the Sunday Business Post Today, Tomas Clancy in his "to try, buy and put by" sidebar, recommends next week's Wedding white (which I helped choose) as his "to try" choice. It's a Bougrier Sauvignon Blanc AC Touraine 2006, and he speaks very highly of it, phew.

His "to put by" is another old favourite of mine the Penfolds Bin 389, a fruity but well balanced gem of a wine, sadly priced north of €30 in this republic.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Birthday etc.

I've just realised I never posted on the occasion of the first birthday of this blog which was on March 7th. It was an "interesting" year professionally for me, at the time of inception finding cheap wine to drink was less an academic aspiration and rather more a necessity. Luckily that all changed soon after and things have been ticking along (touch wood*) since then.

A couple of observations -

1) I drink a lot of wine. I haven't, and don't want to, count the number of bottles I've been a party to over the last year. When you add in pints, tinnies and whiskey, I'm amazed I have any liver left. However, what's bad news for my liver is good news for you. I can't blog about wines I haven't drunk.

2) I've largely enjoyed writing this blog so far. For the most part it has not been a chore and it's also an excuse to drink. As far as creative outlets go, it ain't poetry but it beats tormenting our party guests with my lousy singing (All: woo-hoo!)

3) I don't drink/blog enough white wine. I intend to remedy this over the next few, hopefully sunny months. Suggestions please to the usual address.

Back to business - I picked up the wine at left in Tesco yesterday on a whim, a Costieres de Nimes 2008, it was reduced to €6-99 and it was not really worth that. While it was drinkable it didn't have a lot going for it and it had a slightly harsh tannic undercurrent that was a little off-putting.

We still drank it, but I wouldn't serve it anyone, if that helps to place it in the pantheon of my wine experience. If you are shopping in Tesco there's lots better for just slightly more cash.

* Its very unlucky to be superstitious

Monday, April 19, 2010

6 Monthly Whiskey Audit

It's that time again. I know this is supposed to be a wine blog but occasionally I feel the need to wax somewhat lyrical on the virtues of the grain as opposed to the grape. If you are not interested, the exit is that way...

The last time I did an audit the results were as follows, a lot has changed since then, I got a boat load of whiskey for my cough-th birthday and I'm delighted to say I've put a good hole in most of them. The Islays have survived best, I need to be in a certain place to approach these peaty monsters and most of the time a regular expression is what I fancy.

Single Malt Scotches (L-R)

Bruichladdich Moine Mhor (3 different years)
Desc: A strong (50%) dram, sweet and peaty. A special edition which was a gift from Herself. Works well with a drop of water.
Remaining: 0.6 bottles

Lagavulin 16yo
Desc: My previous favourite Islay. Smooth and smoky and very peaty.
Remaining: 1.3 bottles (thanks MP!)

Bowmore 18yo
Desc: My new favourite Islay, even though I drink it only rarely.
Remaining: 0.8 bottles

Glenmorangie Original 10yo
Desc: The Classic from the 16 men of Tain. Have polished off a whole bottle of this since the last post. A very tasty everyday whiskey.
Remaining: 0.1 bottles

Glenmorangie Lasanta 12yo
Desc: This used to be called the Sherry-wood finish. I said this about it at the Glenmorangie tasting - "Quite fruity, but not overly so. Warming, taste all over the mouth and a very long finish. My favourite on the night."
Remaining: 0.2 bottles

Springbank "Longrow" Gaja Barola 7yo
Desc: A non-Islay peaty beast with a whopping 55.6% alcohol, this whiskey is delicious with a drop of water. This also spends the last 2 years of its life in Barolo casks. Who'd a thunk it?
Remaining: 0.6 bottles

The Balvenie Goldencask 14yo
Desc: A present from poker widow Allpay, it spends its last 2 years in rum casks which adds some lovely fruit and spice.
Remaining: 0.1 bottles

The Glenlivet French Oak Reserve 15yo
Desc: Another everyday whiskey, although I don't think this has quite the character of the Glemorangie
Remaining: 0.4 bottles

Blends & Other bottles (L - R)

Jameson Original
Desc: The standard expression. Had this recently at a neighbour's house and was very pleasantly surprised by it. Warm , spicy and intense.
Remaining: 0.9 bottle

Bushmills Malt 16yo
Desc: A nod to my own heritage, a big warm sweet whiskey.
Remaining: 0.3 bottles

Woodford Reserve
Desc: A present from MP, an impressive bourbon. Light years ahead of Jack Daniels et al. Although not as smooth as a single malt.
Remaining: 0.4 bottles

Bushmills Malt 12yo
Desc: Haven't opened this yet although I expect good things after the 16yo
Remaining: 1 bottle

Lark Distillery SingleMalt.
Desc: A present from JP & MP all the way from Tasmania. A different and slightly less refined malt from our Antipodean cousins, another nice change of pace.
Remaining: 0.5 bottles

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I made the list...

Sourgrapes has put together a comprehensive list of Irish wine blogs and I'm on it. Go me, again!

The list is here and is a good mix of the commercial, the expert and the enthusiastic amateur. Thanks for the inclusion.

**Update** The Clos Du Val Merlot was as good as last time. We had it with a couple of fillet steaks from Dunnes (pretty decent btw) and it was the perfect accompanyment. If you are a New World Merlot hater, its definitely worth a try. It changed my mind.

Savage Flowers

We're now back in our mountain home, herself is off in sunny Rosslare with "the girls" and I'm left here on my own to mind the chiseler. No better time to post on a few wine related tings.

As I mentioned last post I wanted to get into Oddbins on Baggot street and I was presented with the opportunity with the impending arrival of B&G for a spot of Thai food from Kanum, which by the way is as good as any Thai food I've had in Dublin and is pretty good value, but I digest.

One way that Oddbins falls down I find is in the cheapish €9-€13 bracket. Supermarkets, particularly Tesco have a myriad of decent, drinkable wines in this range, and most offies have a few bottles to be had for this money. If you are entertaining, on a budget, need to buy a few of something, you don't want to spend a fortune. Hence, Supermarkets clean up here.

Long story short I bought a couple of these - Chateau de Combebelle Les Fleurs Sauvages St Chinian 2007 (€13-99) and one of these for B, a Falerio Palastri Organic 2009 (a snip at €8-99).

Note, I really bought the red to be drunk after the Thai food, not with it. For the food I bought a case of 12 bottle of Veltins Pilsener (good value at €14), this proved to be a delicious hoppy treat and more than a match for the strong Thai flavours.

Anyhoo, the wine itself was very fine. Lots of spice, some nice fruitiness, a surprising, but not overpowering amount of tannins and a long tasty finish. As I mentioned above this is more than I'd normally spend on multiple bottles but I couldn't find anything else in the shop for less money that I thought would be decent.

Lastly, I have been tempted, ever since I tried one a few weeks ago, to buy more of the Clos Du Val Merlot from O'Briens. It's still on sale at the ridiculously cheap price (for the quality) of €16-95, so I bought one to have with a (hopefully BBQ'd) steak tonight. Lar from Sourgrapes suggested I try the Chardonnay also so I grabbed one of these also. Again not cheap at €16-95 (reduced from €22-95) but if the rest of the range is a guide then it should be worth it.

On a wholly OT note, I watched Zombieland last night. BEST CAMEO EVER.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bordeaux 2009, and beyond

I've read a number of of interesting articles on the 2009 En Primeur tastings which have been happening of late and the first link is a very interesting comparison of Bordeaux vs Burgundy, which is of great relevance to me at the moment - I was raised on Bordeaux with narry a sniff of Burgundy, but any of the recent (expensive) Burgundies I've had of late have been divine - the full article is here.

Lastly a couple of links to interesting articles in the WSJ, here and here.

We're staying in our city pad (minding in-laws house) which as always means a trip or two to Tesco Baggot St and Oddbins. Let's see what I can find...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Wedding Bells and Funny Smells

I should firstly finish off the last two wines of the five I picked up here in Superquinn,

Domaine Sainte Croix Corbieres Las Fournas 2007- €7 (reduced from €10-99)
The Blurb said "a delightful mix of fruit, herbs and spice at a price that is a joke"
I say - Corked, even though this is a screw top, it definitely wasn't right. Will try and get more today if there is any left.

Domaine de Brunely Vacqueyras 2009 €12 (reduced from €17-99)
The Blurb said "A powerful wine with redcurrent fruit"
I say - very nice but not nearly as dark and complex as the 2005 that I have tried a few times. One to keep a eye on over the next couple of years I fancy.

Next up is the red chosen for Lil Sis's wedding next month. I had a hand in the choosing of this on a hungover Saturday morning and was dearly hoping this was as nice as I remembered. It's an Olivier Ravoire Cotes Du Rhone 2007 - The House red of the Donnybrook Fair restaurant. Myself and Herself both really liked it. It's a good wedding wine, in that it's well balanced, a little bit fruity and not too tannic or wine-snobby. A good wedding wine should appeal to both the casual drinker and the wine bore, IMHO.

**Update** - Just back from Superquinn where I picked another Domaine Sainte Croix Corbieres Las Fournas 2007, a couple of the delicious Chat-En-Oeuf 2007, and a Domaine Cristia Cotes Du Ventoux 2007 (€7 reduced from €14-99). I had thought this was new to me but when I searched this blog I found that I'd had it before here, and I really liked it. So well done me.

Off to get slaughtered and watch the Leinster game...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Bunan Bandol

Firstly a quick note on wine 3 (of 5) purchased as part of the Superquinn Spring French Wine Sale.

Bunan Bandol Moulin des Costes 2005 €15 (reduced from €19-99)
The Blurb says - "a superb, Bordeaux-like wine, all leather and blackcurrant, with touches of earthiness"
I say - the blurb isn't that far off. It does initially remind you of a Bordeaux and it does have touches of earthiness. It is well balanced and a good accompaniment to red meats. However, I wold not pay full price for it (€20) myself. At €15 I would still hesitate, it was perfectly fine but for that money there are better wines out there, IMHO.

Secondly - What the hell is going on in this damn country?? We went out yesterday to do a bit of shopping in Dundrum only only to find it completely closed (the shopping part of it anyway). It seems very dark ages to me to be closing on Easter Sunday in 2010. Note: Dunnes in the Beacon was also shut. What gives?

Lastly - I had intended to buy more of the Chat-eu-Oeuf for the Easter Sunday lamb dinner but for various reasons I couldn't make it to Blackrock. I did however get to O'Briens in the Beacon and picked up a Chanson Macon Villages (on special at €9-95) and some more of the Ferraton Cotes Du Rhone Samorens (on special at €8-95). Both went down well with the Ferraton proving again to be a cracking fruity, full bodied delight and amazing value at the moment.

Evenin' all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

40% down...and rising

Well we've had the first two (of five) reds that I got as part of the Superquinn Spring French wine Sale.

SQ Classic Collection Cotes Du Rhone 2007 - €7.
The Blurb said "Rich, supple, rounded dark cherry and liquorice fruit".
I say - Not bad but not great. Perfectly fine and drinkable but not a great depth of flavour, length or complexity. OK value at €7 (it doesn't say what the full price is normally), but not something I'll be buying again.

Chat-eu-Oeuf Rouge €8 (Reduced from €11-99)
The Blurb said - "A mini Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Wonderfully mature with black cherry fruit"
The back of the bottle said "ripe berry fruit flavours. A touch of soft tannin and a subtle twist of spice"
I say - The bottle has it bang on. There is some lovely Grenache'y spiciness, some nice fruit and more than a hint of tannins on the finish. It all gels quite harmoniously into a nicely balanced wine which is super value at €8 and still pretty good value at full price. I'm going back tomorrow to pick up some more to have with Easter Sunday leg of lamb in the company of the in-laws.

We have just started the Bunan Bandol and so far so good. A full report will be forthcoming soon.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Back from the Sale

Well, I'm back. Back from a night playing Poker on DNS, I'm heavier in body and lighter in wallet. Yesterday I finally made it down to the Superquinn Spring French Wine sale and somewhat surprisingly I managed to find five out of six reds that I was seeking. They are (L-R)

Corbieres Las Fournas - €7 (reduced from €10-99)
SQ Classic Collection Cotes Du Rhone 2007 - €7
Bunan Bandol Moulin des Costes 2005 €15 (reduced from €19-99)
Domaine de Brunely Vacqueyras 2009 €12 (reduced from €17-99)
Chat-eu-Oeuf Rouge €8 (reduced from €11-99)

I'm calling foul on Superquinn for the Vacqueyras. The picture in the brochure is of a 2005 vintage. The wine I bought is a 2009. Harrumph. I really liked the 2005, so I am hoping the 2009 doesn't disappoint. Herself started the own brand Cotes Du Rhone last night and was underwhelmed, I'll have some later with our experimental lamb kebabs.

On a foodie note I made a Tuna Risotto last night from scratch and it was edible. Go me!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Off to the Sale

I'm off to Superquinn now to see what is left of the French wine sale, before I go I should comment on the bargain wines I picked up in Tesco last week.

Santa Christina Toscana 2007 (€5-17!) - Lovely plummy flavours and not really as Chianti like as I expected. Great Value at this price.

Tesco Finest Gerard Bertrand Tautavel 2005 (€5-07!) - Liked this again but didn't really have my blogging/tasting* hat on at the time. Again good value for a fiver.

Famiglia Terraccia Chianti Riserva 2006 - (€6-99) - I liked this but I didn't love it. It ticked the Chianti boxes but didn't go the extra mile you'd expect from a wine normally costing €13-99. It was a little thin and lacking in complexity.

Lastly, I picked up the wine at left in Tesco earlier this week and although it breaks my Golden rule** I elected to give it a whirl.

Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Beaune 2007 (€12-35) - Not sure who exactly the producer is here from looking at the label. Again we found this wine OK. It was very pale and thin in the glass and quite light on the palate. Definitely less fruity than its New World Pinot Noir cousins but lacking the depth of the couple of expensive Burgundies I've had of late. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from wines at this price (I think it was reduced from around €16)?

* Sometimes my brain is too tired to analyse and really taste the wine I'm drinking - Apologies

** Don't buy cheap Bordeaux or Burgundy (sub €20) - you will be disappointed. If you know of one please let me know and I'll gladly try it.