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 B├ębian 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.