Thursday, December 22, 2011

Xmas Wine

Xmas Eve wine - See "Lastly"...
This year I was charged by Herself-in-law with selecting some wines for the entire clan from Baggot St Wines. The request was fairly non-specific but I suggested a single bottle of dessert wine, some white and some red, with all the wines being "moderately" priced. I was trying to select wines that would appeal to all the various palates in the clan, rather than just my own. Time will tell if I have succeeded.

I can't find the receipt but all the wines were around €15 or less (the Perez Cruz is on at €9-99, which is a steal). I spent some time perusing the shelves with Garret and picked the following:

Domaine des Bernardines Muscat be Beaumes de Venise 2010
The outlaws have been enjoying sweet wines of late and this should be a good example.

La Chablisienne "Le Finage" Chablis 2009
I hadn't had a Chablis in ages and we had a lovely one last weekend in a certain DNS golf club, hence the demand for more.

Walnut Block Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Herself-in-law loves this style, although I think we overdid it during this summer and last. Have a bottle in the fridge and just waiting on Herself to come home.

Laxas Rias Baixas Albarino 2010
After choosing a classic New World and a classic Old World I asked Garret for something different and we settled on the above.

Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2009
A cracker from the Maipo valley and a wine I would never have expected to like. Big bold and quite fruity, but balanced by some nice structure.

Plic Plic Plic Monsant 2009
A recommendation from Garret - from a region I confess I hadn't heard of Monsant - although it almost completely surrounds the delicious Priorat. Had a bottle the other night and it was like its cousin, big and muscular with lots of flavour, maybe lacking a little of the complexity of its more illustrious neighbour, but good value as priced (IIRC)

Tour Des Gendres Bergerac 2010
Very French, lots of acidity and ripe fruit.

Second lastly: One tradition I have kept up this year, is that as my contribution to the Xmas dinner in the Out-laws, I supply some decent red to have with the Turkey. This year I chose a La Chappelle de Bébian Coteaux Du Languedoc - Pezenas 2007 - €16-99, also from Baggot St Wines. We had it recently, and loved it.

 Lastly: If you are wondering about the picture at the top, this is the wine Herself and I will have on Xmas eve at home. We have a tradition of smoked salmon and Champagne (Tattinger NV this year) followed by a good Bordeaux. This Giscours is the last of six bottles of 2000 bordeaux we got from June* as a wedding present, all those years ago - Cheers June!.

* For the record, the six were: Lynch Bages, Palmer, Chasse Spleen, Giscours, Pavillion Rouge and mumble mumble.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A visit to the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society

Hola Amigos,

First off, apologies for the lack of posts in the last month; between the work, the commute to Scotland - gotta love those high winds, and various family commitments I haven't had a lot of time for blogging.

I did, however manage to get out in Edinburgh this week to the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society (Queen St branch) courtesy of m'colleague N Smith. N isn't a big whiskey drinker but is a member, and generously offered to bring me along as a guest when he heard I was into a wee dram.

Anyhoo, after a delicious burger and a couple of pints of Schiehallion in The Cambridge we ambled along to the SMWS on Queen St. The SMWS down in Leith is apparently an even nicer place. It was a school night so we didn't go mad, but we did try four different whiskys - see details below.

I should explain that the SMWS doesn't sell "regular" whisky, that you can buy in a shop. What they do is buy a cask of whisky direct from the distillery and bottle it themselves. Big whoop, I hear you say, this is what the distillery does. Bong! Wrong answer. The distillery does two things typically, 1) They blend various casks of the same age/batch to produce a harmonious "blend". 2) They water down the whisky from "cask strength" approx 55% - 60% abv. to 40+% odd.

So what you get from the SMWS is 1) a unique, never to be repeated expression 2) pretty damn strong, which means you are pretty much obligated to water down the drink (I only tend to add water with very peaty or very strong malts), which can be a variable experience as you could easily add too much or too little AND the minerals in the water can have subtle affects on the taste.

Our expert "barman" suggested the malts below based on my ramblings and while the bottles only have a number on them, the staff will "translate" for you, if, for example you were keen to try a Macallan or a Talisker (sadly out of stock) or whatever. The prices range from £4 up and they serve other drinks too; I had an Aussie beer, a delicious Little Creatures Pale Ale as a chaser.

Anyway, the whiskys we had were as follows (with "codes" in parantheses). The number on the left of the decimal point represents the distillery, the number on the right is the cask number from that distillery, in chronological order. Star of the night for me was the 19yo Clyneish, btw.

Isle Of Arran 9yo (121.50) - A little rough, needed plenty of water.
Clyneish 19yo (26.77) - Complex and delicious.
Highland Park 15yo (4.157) - Expecting more here but nice.
Laphroaig 20yo (29.108) - Subtle.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Four Cheap Tesco wines reviewed in 12 words

French Connection Classics - Cotes du Roussillon Villages Rouge 2009 (€7)
Awful - down the sink.

French Connection Classics - Languedoc Rouge 2008 (€7)
As above.

Les 2 Chenes Corbieres 2008 - (€8)
Meh - drinkable, just.

Laurent Miquel Heritage Vineyards Syrah 2008 (€8)
Lovely, quite lovely.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Specials From O'Briens - Updated

It's been ages, well months anyway, since I've blogged about wines from O'Briens. I have definitely been in least one of their shops during this time as I ventured into their newest premises in picturesque Cabinteely, not long after it opened.

Anyhoo, I was down in Dunnes in the Beacon buying limes, as you do, and decided to do an O'Briens special run. This is where I buy four or five reds on special from the many on display. I try to only get new (to me) wines but occasionally I weaken (viz Pic Saint Loup)

The wines I bought are (from Left to right):
L'Ostal Cazes Eclipse 2010  (€14-99 - Not on Special)
I bought this on spec as I loved the last wine I had from Domaine L'ostal Cazes, a minervois, so I had high hopes, especially at fifteen quid a bottle. We drank it last night and it was...OK. Per O'Briens site  "this is like taking what’s great about St.Emilion and the best parts of the Languedoc and mixing them both together"  for me, I think this fell between those two stools. It was perfectly drinkable but didn't do it for me, or Herself.

Domaine de Nizas Rouge 2008 (€12-99 - reduced from €15-99)
As I type we are just finishing this off and boy howdy, it is fine. I think we had a bottle of the 2007 at Xmas ( I think - it looks like they have changed the label for the 2008). Loved it then, love it now. A steal as priced.

Gerard Bertrand Pic Saint Loup 2009  (€9-99 - reduced from €14-49)
I've been a big fan of this since I first discovered it last year. This is a new vintage for me, so fingers crossed.
Sorry - I din't have my blogging hat on when we drank this so it can't have been particularly good or particularly bad, apologies.

Reserve de Bonpas Cotes Du Rhone 2010 (€8-99 - reduced from €10-99)
Liked the price and the bottle looked kinda classy...
Another OK CDR, nothing to write home about, a little light perhaps on the body/flavour side.

Domaine Condamine Syrah-Mourvedre Cotes Du Thongue 2009 (€7-99 - reduced from €9-99)
Cheap and cheerful, I guess and hopefully not too "easy drinking"...
Pleasantly surprised with this, lots of nice ripe fruit and a bit of body makes this very good value as priced and pretty decent at a tenner a bottle.

Note 1: I was experimenting with the photo - didn't really work, sorry.
Note 2: I have just noticed all five bottles are French and I don't know what to tell you about that.

Whiskey note 1:
Cragganmore 12yo 70cl in O'Briens - €55, price per litre €78.57
Cragganmore 12yo 100cl in Edinburgh Duty Free - £32, price per litre approx.  €38
I make that, less than half price - nice one.
Whiskey note 2: Bough a Glenfarclas 15yo in Edinburgh Duty Free last night, haven't tasted it yet but it smalls lovely

Monday, October 10, 2011

Superquinn Autumn Wine Sale 2011 - Updated

So I finally made it down to the Superquinn Autumn Wine sale on Sunday. It had been a busy weekend up to this, with late night Poker on Friday (I won, for a change), leading into early morning World Cup rugby watching (we lost, for a change), leading to Saturday afternoon Leinster rugby watching with Lil Bill (tm), his first live rugby match, (we won, eventually).

It wasn't all roses however, as  I had also purchased a set of shin-pads in Blackrock, for the aforementioned Bill's Sunday soccer, which I left hanging from the hook on the convenience trolley as I replaced it back at the rank. If you find them, send them my way...

Anyhoo, due to time and budget constraints I limited myself to four reds; I was trying to only buy new (to me) wines and apart from the Crozes Hermitage(which I couldn't resist), I succeeded.

Left to Right we have:

Chateau Lorgeril Cabardes 2008 (€9-00 - reduced from €11-99)
I suspect this wine is from the same producer as one of my "go to" wines from Dunnes, Chateau de Pennautier, although I can't find it on the Lorgeril website. Confidence is moderately high.
**Update - Not bad. A little rough and ready initially, but rounded out over an hour or so to be a chunky, if unsubtle red.

Etienne Barret Crozes Hermitage 2009 (€11-00 - reduced from €14-99)
Loved this in the 2010 sale, so there's that.
**Update - Meh. Not much going on when opened, and we hoped it would improve in the decanter but alas, no. Lots of tannins but not much else. All the lovely fruit from the 2008 seems have evaporated.
A disappointing vintage, it seems

Longue-Dog 2009 (€8-00 - reduced from €11-99)
I am a big fan of this producer's other, also punningly titled, wine in the sale "Chat En Oeuf", and had high hopes for this.  I cracked it open on Sunday, and it proved delightful. It tasted a little light at first but over an hour or so it developed some lovely complexity and soft tannins. Very good value as priced.

Collioure Cuvee Des Peintres Rouge 2009 (€10-00 - reduced from €14-99)
I really liked the white from this producer last year but I think this is the first time the red has been included in the sale. A punt, therefore, by definition; but an informed one, nonetheless.
**Update - Loved this. Well balanced and moderately fruity with a little spice. Will buy this again, methinks.

**Update 2 - I ended up in Superquinn again today, cos I like their fish, and the nice man behind the counter cleaned and descaled the fresh sardines I was buying, but I digress. I perused the remnants of the sale and grabbed a Domaine La Brunely Vacqueyras 2010 (€12) and Charles Vienot GSM Rouge 2010 (€7)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Tasting at the opening

Myself, Herself and B&G (not the winemakers) attended the official opening of Baggot St Wines last night, along with a couple of the victorious Dublin GAA team, in the pissing rain. Given the appalling weather, it was good to see so many people packed into the shop.

They had set up five "barrels" or tasting tables, four wine and one beer (The Porterhouse,which we didn't get to, blues) but we did manage to taste the vast majority of the wines from the four different suppliers. I'm not going to go through all the wines as I didn't take any notes, I just marked on the program the wines we really liked. We liked the lions share of the wines we tasted, which augurs well for future visits. Here are my favourites from the night:

Chablis, Domaine Gerard Tremblay €17-99 - Very Tasty
Picpoul de Pinet, Domaine Delsol  €10-99 - Unusual grape but nice wine from the Languedoc.
Gruner Veltliner, Alte Reben  €27-99 - Expensive but lovely.
Libalis Blanco €15-99 - Nearly sweet (made from mostly Muscat) and apparently great with Foie Gras.

New World Red
El Grano, Carmenere €13-99 - Surprisingly complex (The Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 is also good and much better than the standard Chilean fare.)
The Bean, Pinotage €15-49 - Wine with added coffee (not really - see comments). Big and bold and not my style but interesting, none the less.

Old World Red
Cedre Heritage, Cahors 2009 €13-49 - We all loved this, very elegant.
Chianti Rufina, Il Colognole 2006 €14-99 - tastes like a much more expensive Chianti - v nice.
Bajondillo, Mentrida 2010 ,€11-99 from a small appellation near Toledo - fantastic.
Bai Gorri Crianza, Rioja €18-99 - pricey but full of lovely vanilla.

I bought a few bottles on the night and the above are what's left. BigBog bought a heap of beer which we worked our way through while munching on fab Mexican food from Tolteca across the street. If you are into Beers they have a huge range of craft beers also.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Scotch Experiment

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am also big into my Scotch single malts, so if that divine nectar doesn't do it for you, please look away now. Anyway, during the course of my last stint in Scotland I endeavoured to refill my whiskey shelf with bottles from the amply stocked Edinburgh Duty Free, which is a bit of a misnomer as all the whiskies are Duty Paid, but discounted. Nominally I decided to purchase approx one bottle per month, alternating between known favourites and experiments.

The results of that spree can be found here. I did OK but found it hard to really push myself out of my comfort zone. For this iteration of the project I am going to do things less more scientifically, to whit, I am going to use Jim Murray's Whiskey Bible 2011, a stocking filler from Herself last Xmas. I don't really read much Whiskey writing so I don't know how well regarded he is (Wikipedia article here), for all I know he could be the Robert Parker of Whiskey writing.

Anyway, his "Bible" is what I have to work with, for better or worse. We seem to share similar tastes in whiskey; he loves two of my faves: Dalwhinnie 15yo and Glenmorangie 10yo and doesn't really care for Balvenie Doublewood or Highland Park 1998.

My method is thus; I select a few likely contenders from the "Duty Free" based on price (around £30 for a litre) and just a general "vibe" when perusing the shelves. I then check these out in the "Bible" and I select those whiskeys which score the highest. Likely contenders so far (JM scores in parentheses)

Glenfarclas 15yo (95)
Glendronach 12yo (92)
An Cnoc 12yo (90)
Aberfeldy 12yo (88.5)
Glengarioch 12yo (88.5)
Aberlour 12yo (88)

Looks like my next three bottles are accounted for. BTW, I realise that I am taking a large punt on Jim Murray's tastes and mine being very similar and I don't really know what to tell you about that.

**Update Got the An Cnoc last week and it's very good. Reminds me of the standard Glenmorangie, whihc is quite a compliment.

Friday, September 16, 2011

French, Spanish and Italian from Baggot St Wines

Between the travel and the whatnot I realised I probably wasn't going to make it into Baggot St Wines anytime soon, so I sent Herself in. Her instructions were as follows, ask "the man" for three reds priced between €12 and €15 and I would blog on them.

La Vendimia Rioja 2010 - €12-99, was first up. I should have told Herself not to buy Rioja; we drink a lot of this Consejo De la Alta (currently the 2005 vintage), and we love it. A young, moderately priced Rioja wouldn't stand up well to this, and so it proved. While there was nothing wrong with the wine, it didn't do it for either of us. It was bit light with not enough fruit, oak or "oomph"...

La Chappelle de Bébian Coteaux Du Languedoc - Pezenas 2007 - €16-99 was next up. Slightly outside the price range but highly recommended by our man in the shop. We cracked it open on a quiet Saturday night with June and ended up having it with Thai food as I had just dropped our only bottle of chilled white on the tiled floor. Anyhoo - this was fabulous; subtle and fruity with some surprising tannins creeping in towards the end of the bottle.

Baglio Del Sole Nero D'Avola 2009 - €11-49 was the last wine on the same evening and while our taste-buds were probably not at their best we both really enjoyed it. Light and a touch fruity but nicely balanced; probably a wine we should have drunk earlier in the evening but it still worked.

On the whole a pretty good showing, especially as if I had been choosing the three reds I wouldn't have picked the Rioja that I wasn't keen on.

Coincidentally, as I write this I am sipping a Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Chile, also from Baggot St wines. I am on the record as rarely liking this country/grape combination (except for a fantastic and expensive Domus Aurea), so I was presently surprised by this. It has the requisite blackcurrant and tannin wings but there is enough in the middle to make it work as a whole.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trying Tesco

I haven't bought any significant amount of wine in Tesco for a good while; for the last while anytime I've been there shopping and have browsed the wine, I find there's very little I'd want to try. I used to drink a lot of their own brand wines, particularly from Italy and the Rhone. I guess I must have overdone it because I went off them, and to this reviewer's eye they don't seem to add new stuff that often.

Anyhoo, I was down in Dundrum today in a hurry and grabbed the three suspects in the picture at left. The top shelf in my "cellar" is empty apart from a Pink Elephant Rosé and an "invisible" bottle of Ogio Primitivo (long story, but at €6 odd in Tesco it's great value)

Note: I lost the receipt, so all prices are approximate.

We recently sampled one of Laurent Miquel's "Grandes Cuvées",  the  Bardou St Chinian Syrah 2007 (approx €12), on special from Dunnes and it was divine. I can't find this wine, a Heritage Vineyards Syrah 2008 on their website, so I am not sure where it fits into the Laurent Miquel  hierarchy. I'm enjoying a glass right now as Ireland struggle to come to terms with Slovakia. I'm rather liking this, it's not terribly complex but it is exceptionally well balanced and very tasty, another classic old world syrah.

Next up is a Piccini Chianti Reserva 2008 (approx €8), I had this once before in June's and loved so here's hoping, especially at this price.
**Update - eh, this was fine, not sure I'd buy again, even at this bargain price.

Lastly, a rule breaker. I have a rule never to buy cheap Bordeaux or Burgundy as it is never worth it. I bought a Chateau Haut Langlade 2008 (€10 reduced from €20) from the Montagne St Emilion region. If this is a genuine €20 bottle then this may be a good bet.
**Update - decent, but again nothing to write home about, more of a generic French red than any particlular Bordeaux-like qualities, but not bad for a tenner.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Site news and Links

Site news first -
I'm heading back out to parts foreign next week, last time I was did this I decided (after a while), to put the blog on hiatus, as I felt I couldn't deliver the quality of content I wanted, given the time, travel and work pressures. Until I get stuck into this next project I won't know the answer to the question of whether or not I can I feel I can usefully blog. In the interim, here are some links...

Kevin Ecock waxes lyrical on the En Primeur system here.

Spuds? from The Grapefruit here.

I bought lots of this lovely CDR, courtesy of SourGrapes here.

Also, I have been planning to try the new wine shop which replaced Oddbins on Upper Baggot St, cunningly called "Baggot Street Wines", as herself is based nearby and I believe some of the Oddbins staff are involved in the venture. Best wishes to them...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A long night's journey into day

We've now been down in the "sunny" South East for a week and it's been a mixed week, wine-wise. However, June and BigNose arrived down for the night and they brought with them a veritable cornucopia of wine. June picked up hers in Power and Smullen in Lucan whereas BigNose bought his in Greenacres in Wexford town.

Anyhoo, Herself provided some Dublin bay prawns and some nice fillets of beef (which YHB BBQ'd inexpertly) and the wines above were dispatched in order (left to right) on the night.

June is on a Riesling kick at the moment (as am I) and BigNose followed suit with this Dr Burklin-Wolf Riesling Trocken 2009 - We all liked this, some nice zingy citrus and a good length.

Next up a "Lucan" Riesling - a Kayena Vineyards Tamar Ridge Tasmanian 2009 Riesling - which we also liked but this a much lighter, crisper wine; probably well suited for quaffing in the sun.

June's next offering, and the first of the reds, a Cabanon Cuore Divino La Botte 18 2006 an unusual (Cab Sav only) Italian which apparently was the last Pope's favourite tipple. I liked this but I was expecting something bigger and bolder; this was quite restrained. Very nice, though. I can't work out from the label where it is from in Italy...

BigNose's last contender was a Saint Cosme Cotes Du Rhone 2010 from Greenacres, priced at a modest €13-99. I gave out last year about the prices in Greenacres but they do seem to be now offering more moderately priced wines. This particular CDR was very pleasant with some nice fruit.

The last wine of the night a Navajas Crianza 2007 from Rioja. Alas, it was late in the night when this was drunk and I don't really remember what this was like. I expect it was perfectly fine but at that stage of the evening I can't be sure...

All in all a very interesting wine evening, thanks to our guests for the various wines. I intend to carry out a full scale recce of Greenacres during the week and will report back anon...

Note: Also from Greenacres but beyond my everyday budget was a Setriolo Chianti Classico 2006, which we had in a friend's house on Thursday evening and it was fantastic.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sundry Summary Judgements

I noticed today that I have teased you (all tens of you) with the promises of opinions on various wines and then shamefully, not delivered. So here are some very quick reviews...

1) Some Lidl Wines from this post..

Lidl Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2009 - €5-99
Drinkable, but not great.

Lidl Chianti 2007 - €4-99
Piss, poured down sink.

2) Some white wines from the Superquinn €5 bin-end sale from this post.

Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Semillon 2008 - Nice, crisp and refreshing.

Il Nicolaio Soave Classico 2008 - Full and "luscious".

3) I meant to post on this but forgot.

Tesco Finest Alsace Riesling 2009 - €8-99 - Awful, tasted burnt and chemically. I hope this was "off" in some way, as it was undrinkable.

4) Bought a Puccini Memoro - €8-99 in Tesco yesterday. I've had a number of their wines and they have been generally good and are often on special in Tesco. I couldn't find a grape or a region on the bottle, and with good reason - It's a bit of a mongrel, using 4 different grapes (40% Primitivo, 30% Montepulciano, 20% Nero D'Avola, 10% Merlot de Veneto, from 4 different regions (Veneto, Abruzzo, Puglia and Sicily). I'm finding it a bit jammy in Shirazzy way, but Herself is loving it, so there you go.

5) Stocking up with plonk to bring to the sunny southeast, got a few random bottles in a Superquinn on-line shop plus another random few (including some of this) in Dunnes.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Blur of Scotch Whiskeys

I looked for the collective noun for Whiskey on the interweb and all I could find was a "blur" of whiskeys, which makes sense, I suppose. Anytime I have had occasion to open multiple bottles things have tended to get a bit blurry.

BTW - this will be of little interest to the non whiskey drinking oenophiles out there, but I wanted to write a bit about the eight different single malts I picked up as I made my weary way home every week from Auld Reekie, over the last few months. Also, I don't think wine and whiskey are that dissimilar in terms of the effort and time required to produce a drink of great quality.

My intent was to buy something I had not tried before, at least every second bottle, to force me to try some new styles and producers. I also decided to buy the standard (youngest) expression of each whiskey. In terms of cost, apart from the final two bottles (£38), all were around the £30 mark. See below for how successful this experiment proved to be.

The whiskeys in the pic above are in purchase order (l-r) with the first purchase, a Cragganmore 12 yo, now sadly finished.

Caragganmore 12yo
Very smooth and very tasty. A good whiskey to give to a non regular whiskey drinker.
Experiment? Yes
Hit or Miss? Hit

Talisker 10yo
Perhaps more of an acquired taste than above - it's a little peaty, a little salty and I think rewards the more adventurous drinker.
Experiment? No
Hit or Miss? Hit

Old Pulteney 10yo
A lighter, sherried cask style of whiskey for when something sweeter is required.
Experiment? Yes
Hit or Miss? Hit

Caol Ila 12yo
I bought this because I had a bottle of the 18yo some years ago and it was fabulous, not overly peaty but rich and complex. The 12yo expression tastes a bit bland for me. There is some peat going on but not much else. Disappointing.
Experiment? Yes
Hit or Miss? Miss

Glenmorangie 10 yo
The standard exoression from this distillery is wonderful - Incredibly rich, spicy and complex on the palate.
Experiment? No
Hit or Miss? Hit

Highland Park 1998
I couldn't find the standard 12yo so I plumped for this Airport only "1998" (there is also a "1994" and a "1990"), assuming erroneously that it would be the same or within spitting distance of the 12yo (which I love). Alas, I was mistaken. Jim Murray, in his "Whisky Bible" 2011 finds it "pleasant but disappointing by HP standards". It just doesn't do it for me. It tastes like a photocopy of the 12yo. I made the mistake of reading this review before trying it and so it's entirely possible I am not giving this whiskey a fair go, but the damage is done now.
Experiment? Yes
Hit or Miss? Miss (mostly)

Dalwhinnie 15yo
Another fantastic Highland single malt. Warming, smooth and another whiskey to tempt the non-whiskey drinker with.
Experiment? No
Hit or Miss? Hit

Dalmore 12yo
I tried this immediately after renewing my acquaintance with Dalwhinnie, and it came off as a little rough and ready. However I did sample it again a couple of weeks ago and it performed much better on its own. It's not a subtle whiskey - big, bold and fiery. If this is your style of single malt then fill your boots, lofty.
Experiment? Yes
Hit or Miss? TBC

Note1: The Dalwhinnie, the Cragganmore and the Talisker and part of Diageo original "Classic Malt" range, which I was unaware of. Not a bad place to start, as it also includes Oban 14yo (Fantastic), Lagavulin 16yo (A peaty monster), and Glenkinchie 10yo (perfectly fine)

Note2: Apologies for the blurry picture, it wasn't intentional. I had to use my old smartphone as my brand new super duper HTC is in being fixed (long story short - great multi media device/crap phone performance).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A lidl on the side*

Now that I am returned to the blogging game I felt it was time to get back to my roots (and my second ever post, indeed) by visiting Lidl and seeing what they had to offer the bargain hunting wine buyer. A lot of same old wines are there; some I have tried, some I wouldn't try and I bought a couple of wines that are new to me.

From Left to right they are:

Lidl Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2009 - €5-99
No particular Village is mentioned here and no producer either, so I'm hoping this is one of those undiscovered gems...

Lidl Chianti 2007 - €4-99
This appears to be from the same producer as the extremely cheap (€3-29 and up) Lidl Montepulciano that I find eminently drinkable but others disagree. Worth a punt for that reason alone.

* sorry.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Assorted Nuts

First off I bought a couple of reds as part of Dunnes "Mediterranean Festival", to whit-

Laurent Miquel "Bardou" Saint Chinian Languedoc 2007 (?13-99?) - Fabulous. I think this was reduced from about 20 lids and that's probably a fair price. A classic old world Syrah; long, silky and complex. A steal at this price.

Florentina Chianta Riserva 2007 (?9-99?) - this was perfectly fine, a bit of nice acidity and OK value as priced but nothing special.

Poker with the Guys last night and no wine news as such ( I broke even on the last hand of the night - my palace* of tens beating a palace of nines and a royal flush and yes - this particular variant is a travesty of the great game of Poker, with lots of wild cards). Anyhoo, we had on hand both Glenlivet 12yo and Glenfiddich 12yo and decided to do a blind tasting.

Of the five who tasted, four of us preferred the Glenfiddich, with three of the four correctly guessed its identity (YHB was sadly mistaken). I had professed previously to not really caring for the 12yo Glenfiddich, but I really liked it last night. I guess sometimes it takes a blind tasting to show one the error of one's ways...

On the whiskey front I intend to post soon enough on my various purchases while commuting to Edinburgh, and the large range of moderately priced whiskies in the Airport "duty free", from which I made my selections.

On the wine front - we are rapidly working our way through the bargains from Dunnes and Superquinn, so I think a trip to Lidl/Aldi is called for, I haven't been in ages and also, I'm skint...

*Five of a kind

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A fiver a pop - cheap for most things...(Updated)

A little bird (@SuperquinnWine) tweeted on Tuesday evening that they were starting a €5 a bottle bin-end sale on Wednesday, so being the bargain hunter (read: cheapskate) that I am I made a beeline* for Blackrock yesterday. Our little bird had also helpfully included some favourites to aid selection from the long list.

When I got there I was initially disappointed to see only a selection from the list present, but I guess this was due to space constraints. My disappointment turned to joy when I spotted a certain NZ pinot for a fiver which I really liked last time out.

The rest were all punts based on recommendations from @SuperquinnWine, so I reckon I'll soon discover if our tastes are similar.


Waipara Hills Pinot Noir 2008 (left) - I got a few of these to entertain with on Saturday - here's hoping our guests (and I also) appreciate the subtleties of this wine.
*Verdict - had this on Saturday as an accompaniment to BBQ'd spatchcock organic chicken and I thought it worked well. Lighter than I remembered but still full of luscious fruits.

Roureda Llicorella Priorat 2005 - I'm on a Priorat kick at the moment and this guy liked it.
*Verdict - Disappointing and a little sharp at first but after a couple of hours in the decanter it really developed into a complex beefy treat, but it really needed the time (approx two hours)

Chateau De Sours Bordeaux Rouge 2007 - I never buy "cheap" Bordeaux, I've been burned too often, maybe it's because I was brought up on the good stuff - anyhoo, I'll stick my neck out once again on this.
*Verdict - Had this "late" on Saturday and it was drinkable but unremarkable.


Roureda Llicorella Blanc 2005 - A white Priorat, who knew?**
*Verdict -Me and June lamped into this while herself, "slim and strawberry blonde" apparently, was putting the war paint on. P yellow in the glass, it tasted (to us) somewhat like a good Aussie reisling, which was nice.

Chalkers Crossing Hilltops Semillon 2008 - Bought based on recommendation alone.

Il Nicolaio Soave Classico 2008 - Bought based on recommendation alone.

Rare Vineyards Carignan Vielles Vignes 2010 - I quite liked this before (I thought I had blogged on this previously, but I can't find it, so I don't know what to tell you...) It's not in the sale but is available for a mere €6, so I grabbed a couple.
*Verdict - cracked a bottle of this last night while I was left home alone (sniff) and as before it was very tasty and I had to stop myself drinking the entire bottle.

*This is a myth, btw - bees zigzag all over the place.
**Obviously not me...

More From Dunnes (and me)

Apologies folks for the delay in posting - It's been a hectic few days in Casa di Willie. There were various entertainments on last week, literally as soon as I got back from parts Foreign. Herself had bought some Protocolo 2009 for entertaining purposes from O'Briens and I was pleasantly surprised. The last Protocolo I tasted (2008) was a little jammy for my tastes, compared to the original 2006 which I loved and of which I still have one in my "cellar". It's possible of course that the wine doesn't exhibit that much annual diversity and "it's all in my head" but hey ho that's the beauty of the web - anyone can write any old crap and call it Gospel (and I do...)

Anyhoo - I decide to pay one last visit to Dunnes in the beacon to a) get some more of the lovely Priorat and b) to have a butchers at any other wines I might have missed. As it happened I was just in time as there were less than 10 of the Priorat left, so I grabbed a few and have added one to my "cellar". Note: yesterday I discovered a large cache of the Priorat in another Dunnes, which shall have to remain my little secret.

I also picked up the following (prices are approximate as I threw away the receipt and can't find the prices online - boo)

Florentina Chianta Riserva 2007 (?9-99?) - I like Chianti generally so...

Laurent Miquel "Bardou" Saint Chinian Languedoc 2007 (?13-99?) - One of Laurent Miquel's "Grande Cuvees". Per the website this is a "Syrah based single vineyard Saint Chinian from a selected block named Bardou on his reputed family-owned estate. The site has very poor ,stony soils and the vines are about 26 years old (see photo). This unique terroir coupled with a windy, dry microclimate means that yields are low (approximately 30 HL/Ha) and the fruit is intensely flavoured and concentrated. Aged in French oak barrels (both new and 2nd use)." Sounds interesting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The return of "that guy"... (Now Updated)

Howdy folks. It's been an awfully long time since I blogged at ya - 6 months to be precise. For me, the time has flown; I've been up to my furry bits in a complex IT project, which went live successfully last weekend. I still have a week to go, both tidying up and pissing up, but I should be home for good next week - woo hoo!

John Wilson's column in the Irish Times on Saturday mentioned that Dunnes are having a "Mediterranean Festival" so I stopped by their Beacon store on my travels today and picked up six reds from Spain and Italy. The French offerings didn't look particularly appetising to YHB so I passed on them.

I looked up the "Festival" on the Dunnes site for a bit more info, but the page isn't a "mind of information" as they'd say on DNS. Judge for yourself. I'd expect a minimum of a PDF or at least a more readable page. Superquinn's many and multifarious wine sales would seem to be the benchmark here.

Note: The display shelves in the shop show the notional "full" price but neither the receipt in my sweaty little fist, nor the Dunnes website can help me out in retrospect here.

Anyhoo - the six wines are:

Crossos Priorat 2008 (€12-99) - Any Priorat I've had to date I've really liked so...
Verdict - This is fantastic, big and bold - I need to buy more asap.

Arroyo Ribera Del Duero Crianza 2008 (€10-99 - John Wilson specifically recommended this so...
Verdict - Similar to the Barbaresco this was quite light in colour, but was quite fruity in a strawberry, New World Pinot Noir-ish way, strangely. Not unpleasant, but not something I would probably buy again.

Masseria Del Fauno Salice Salentino 2010 (€5-99) - I do like wines from here, they are tangy and acidic and good pizza/pasta wines IMHO, and at this price it's worth a punt.
Verdict - Only got around to this last night and it is a steal at this price, some nice acidity and a very well balanced wine for thsi money.

Il Burchino Toscana 2007 (€12-99) - This looked classy, beyond that, I don't know what to tell you. Tomás Clancy had this as his "One to Buy" last Sunday in the Turbine, although (see comments), this in not an uncontested opinion.
Verdict - We probably didn't give this wine the best opportunity by drinking after a hot Thai penang curry but even so it was pretty good. A solid chunky Tuscan, and decent value at this price.

Riva Leone Barbaresco 2008 (€9-99) - A Barbaresco for a tenner? Again, I pretty much had to. Also, Dunnes have a Barolo from the same producer for about 15 notes. Let's see how this ones goes first.
Verdict - Herself demanded another red be opened after the lovely Priorat and chose the Barbaresco. Disappointing. Quite a light colour in the glass and similarly lacking in flavour on the plate. Not offensive but a bit "meh" and not what was expected...

Campomagio Toscano 2006 (€11-99) - I hadn't intended buying two "Toscanas" [IGT] so here's hoping.
Verdict - Again a perfectly pleasant Tuscan, nothing to write home about but perfectly fine. For the extra Euro I'd buy the Burchino.

In conclusion, kudos to Dunnes for the wines, but their promotion and presentation could do with some work.

And yes - it's good to be back.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


For various reasons - mostly job related, I'm going to take a break from blogging. I seem to be lacking that energy or passion that I used to have for this blog. I suspect the travelling and associated stress of commuting to the UK has sapped whatever surfeit of vim, zest or moxie I normally possess.

I still enjoy the wine; the seeking out of bargains, the joy of quaffing a fine claret (mostly on somebody else's nickel - I admit), and the pleasure of just writing something, and getting it out onto the intertubes for better or worse.

However, without the requisite passion, I feel I wouldn't be able to produce content that would be much beyond a list of what I've recently sampled, which wouldn't be particularly entertaining or edifying.

So until this current project is finished - approx. six months hence, I won't be doing much blogging. I will continue to tweet - as this seems to be a more suitable medium for the kind of contribution I wish to make...

End of line.