Monday, 30 March 2009

Christmas in September?

A large proportion of wines tasted to date have been sourced from the Wine Society, an institution I cannot recommend highly enough.  I am especially fond of my membership as it was a leaving gift, together with a rather nice deposit in my account, from my last company.  Their service, choice, and knowledge is second to none and their mixed-cases are a great route to new wines.

As I have previously mentioned, I am (still) ploughing through their Christmas Ideas Mixed Dozen which arrived at Townend Towers just in time for the festivities to begin and me finishing work.  It is only now, however, that I realise that I should have ordered the case in June giving me sufficient time to taste ALL the bottles by September to ensure my Christmas wines are selected in good time.  To be fair to the Wine Society the clue is in the name of the case...

Picking Christmas wines in September?  Well I suppose it coincides with the switch-on of the Christmas lights.

A samurai sword of a wine

I'm still crashing through what's left of the Wine Society's Christmas Ideas Mixed Dozen and I think I've saved the (almost) best to last.

The Wine Society (tasted 4 March 2009)

Screwcap closure and 13.5%.  Shouts 'class' as the young vibrant clear lemon green wine dances around  the glass.  The first attack of clean dryness is accompanied by tropical banana fruits which themselves give way to cut grass. You know this is a subtle yet sophisticated wine.  In the mouth we have a very dry and freshly acidic classic sauvignon blanc: cold steel and granite chip dryness with the refreshing zing of acidity.  (Describing good sauvignon blanc always brings to my mind a razor sharp samurai sword being pulled from its sheath!)  The fruit does still push through the minerals helping to set this particular wine apart from other (albeit excellent) New Zealand sauvignon blancs.

I have previously blogged about well-balanced wines - add this one to the list.  I cannot recommend this wine highly enough.

Some background facts lifted from the tasting notes you may find of interest:
"Dog Point is the creation of James Healy and Ivan Sutherland, the former chief viticuturalist and head winemaker at Cloudy Bay...  The 2007 is their third vintage and shows why this is fast achieving cult status in the wineworld."

Friday, 20 March 2009

There was this nun in the bath...

I think I'm being stalked.  Recently, with every turn I have been aware of a malevolent presence - a ghost from my past.  I first became aware of the mysterious lady in blue whilst searching wine articles on the FT under the pretense of designing a business rescue strategy our company.  I can across this article which gives a fascinating history of Peter Max Sichel and his ambition to "set about refining Blue Nun into a single, perfectly positioned product".  As we all know, he was very successful.  Blue Nun then started cropping up on the TV, in Decanter Magazine, and I even found an entry in The Oxford Companion to Wine - which reveals some really scary facts about just how popular this wine once was. Has something changed since my last encounter with the blue lady?

Sainsbury's c.£3.99 (tasted 18.ii-'09)

Herr Sichel's Tafelwein is a clear, pale yellow drop which splashes around the glass.  It has a clean soft bouquet which is floral (elderflower?) and lemon fresh toilet cleaner aroma.  This wine is SWEET (as opposed to a sweet wine) but it does eventually nudge itself along to fruitiness which has a 'smashing orangey bit in the middle'.  Very little acidity is detected and the wine does have a certain cloying character to it.  There is also a distinct lack of body and a negligible length.

At this point the tasting note and recommendation is heading for the 'that was fun now pass the Chablis' section of my wine database BUT...

I opened this bottle on takeway night at Townend Towers, and this week it happened to be Chinese.  So with a box-full of the Pagoda's finest we took the Nun along for the ride, and found what I believe is the perfect accompaniment to Chinese food.  The sweetness of the wine counter-balanced the usual saltiness of the food perfectly, whilst the admittedly limited acidity was just sufficient to cut through any oiliness. This wine knows it's not there to impress but to add a little counter-point to the meal; something I guess it has been doing for fifty years.  There's another in the rack for ready for the next chop-stick shop shock.

Chop chop!

PS if you want to know what happened to the nun in the bath, drop me a line...

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

I know what I'd be doing if I had the cash

At a time when household budgets are getting tighter and everyone is being far more prudent with their finances I would say that Berry Bros & Rudd are acting in a cavalier and reckless fashion in offering fine claret at these prices.  For example:

1999 Ch. Leoville-Poyferre @ £49.40 per bottle
2003 Ch. Lynch Bages @ £53.56 pb
2005 ch. Talbot @ £40.75 pb

These are drinkers' claret - this is not for investment but for enjoyment.  And all are marked down by at least 20%.  If you want to really push the boat out there is a whole swathe of 2005 classed growths with a similar level of discount including my desert island claret the 2005 Ch. Figeac @ £70.65 pb, thats  a whopping 23.5% discount!

Berry Bros & Rudd is a London institution and a key part of our wine heritage and industry. For nearly ten years I worked  around the corner in Carlton House Terrace,  and Berry's was there to fuel my growing passion for wine.  Loosing Friday lunchtime in Crown Passage enjoying the Davy's house burgundy before popping into Berry's would always set me up nicely for the weekend.  And back then you could slip into Dunhill's for an havana cigar (Cohiba Siglo no.III please) if you just couldn't face the afternoon in the office!

Binge drinking is often touted in the press as symptomatic of our failing society, with the low cost of alcohol being identified as fueling this trend.  I think Berry's deserve to be taken to task and asked to justify their own prices which are encouraging weak-willed wine-pips to 'binge cellar' often with long term implications to their families and financial well-being!

Questions should be asked in the House, because they already are in mine!

Long live Berry Bros & Rudd!

Monday, 16 March 2009

He's back with a Mac!

Almost a month to the day since my last post.  Technology conspired against me;  after the last post the Dell desktop I've been running into the ground over the last six years gave its hard-drive a final waltz before dying completely.  My last post was it's last post.

Around Christmas time I'd started to see the "blue screen of death" and, after shelling out £25 for the privilege, the nice lady from Dell explained that the two error codes related to a hard disk which was about to fail and a motherboard with a short-circuit.  Now I'm no IT monkey, but this sounded pretty terminal to me.  My first concern was to (i) make sure I didn't loose the 5000+ photos I've amassed even though only twelve are any good, and (ii) rescue iTunes for the sake of my sanity.  One new external hard-drive later and everything of value was safely decanted off the dodgy Dell.  We struggled on till February when, with a faint popping noise, the Dell threw in the towel and stopped responding.

Now, when the current Mrs T was pregnant with our first I went out and bought her a Mac Book so that she could keep in touch with the wider world and maybe start the novel she's always been threatening to write [What novel? - Wife].  What I hadn't bargained for was the capacity for internet shopping one post-natal woman was capable of.  After three months I was scared to leave the house because by the time I would get home John Lewis would be reversing another tail-lift Luton up the street with the next delivery to their best customer.  But I did like the Mac.  Indeed, I coveted it - badly.  The death of the Dell was the opportunity I was waiting for.

It took a while to get here and longer to recover all my data to it than the time spent by those Herberts at CERN have been mucking around with their big magnet, but at last I have it.  All 15" of my shiny new MacBook Pro.

I'm loving the way it all works and hangs together. I'm working on that sanctimonious moon-faced expression all Mac devotees have when they watch PC users curse their grumbly IT, a state to which I return to whilst working for the man.

But, no more macking about, I've got a wine-blog to write if I am to  justify all the wine drunk over the last month.  Without the blog it would have served no purpose other than to satisfy my own greed and on-going quest for early on-set gout.

Toot toot!