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.